DMac Recaps the LA Times Festival of Books and YallWest

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Summer is Book Convention Season, and the Just Love team is out and about! (We’re also all traveling, so apologies for the delays on getting these recaps up. –el)

I had the busiest few weeks thanks to these two events, but it was so worth it to go! Sorry in advance for the wonky picture quality. It was SUPER sunny for both events and my phone camera is already not the best, but I did what I could.

LA Times Festival of Books

My entire experience here was driven by a singular goal: Go to the Rick Riordan and Roshani Chokshi panel. (Check out our interview with Rick Riordan here!)

I went online and managed to get a ticket and I was through the roof with excitement. Riordan doesn’t really come out west a lot for his tours, so getting to see him talk about his books was awesome.

When I got to the festival I somehow, miraculously, parked near the area where Mysterious Galaxy set up their books. I walked over and… they were handing out autograph tickets for Riordan. I had brought a book from home just in case BUT I had no hope for a signing, nor did I expect the new book in his Apollo series would be available weeks early for purchase! It’s like Athena was throwing all of the book luck my way.

I had a lot of time before the panels so I  ended up walking around and got to visit the Interlude Press and Dreamspinner Press booths! Met some really wonderful authors and got to talk to Interlude about diversity in books and some upcoming releases they are going to be publishing.

The LA Opera was also there and put on a great performance as well. There is A LOT to do and see at the festival no matter what genre you like to read, so go early and give yourself time to explore.

After walking around I went and lined up and, through massive amounts of dumb luck, I ended up in the VIP section of the seating and got a front row view of the panel. First let me tell you that Roshani is a GEM. She is so funny and charming in a sort of salty way. I follow her on twitter so I kind of already knew, but it’s so much more vibrant in person. If you can I would see if she’s coming to a bookstore/event near you!

Roshani Chokshi is the author of Aru Shah and the End of Time, a middle grade/young adult novel about a twelve year old girl who discovers that the gods of Hindu legend are real.

What can I say about Riordan that hasn’t been said a million times over? First of all this man is so unbelievably kind and really cares about his readers. He includes diverse characters in his books and created an entire imprint for Own Voice books because he genuinely wants people to find themselves represented in fiction. Most people were at the panel for him, but he made sure that Roshani and her book were the main focus. He’s such a gem.

The Q&A was delightful. There were a ton of super young kids asking really awkward and kind of ridiculous questions. It was really charming to see him take their questions really seriously and give them his full attention and support. Roshani did as well and I hope that all his Rick Riordan Presents authors follow this pattern. I feel that kids really need that and I really admire him for giving them that boost.

Some helpful tips for you if you plan on going to this or similar festivals:

  1.  Find out when panel tickets are available and get one ASAP. A lot of the “big” author’s tickets will go super quickly.
  2. Figure out which booth will be “home” to authors you want to meet. That’s where you’ll get the M&G tickets or books to get signed.
  3. Line up early! Your place in line for the panels is where you’ll end up sitting for them.
  4. Leave during the Q&A if you want a good spot in the signing line.
  5. Prioritize what genres you want to focus on and go to those booths early. There will often be giveaways or certain books that might sell out if you wait too long.

The L.A. Times Festival of Books will next be held on April 13-14, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA.



This was the fourth year that Yallwest has been going, but it was the first year I knew about it.

For those who don’t know, Yallwest is the free-to-the-public/Southern California version of Yallfest. It’s got panels, book giveaways, signings, and all sorts of fun stuff relating to YA books.

I ended up getting a ticket to the Fierce Friday event. It was mainly signing, so check what authors will be there before you decide if you want to go or not. There weren’t many giveaways, so it may not be worth it if you’re not interested in any of the authors. I got to sit and talk with Tillie Walden while she drew beautiful art in my book (Natalie’s review of Spinning is here!) and also meet Jen Wang (check out my review on her book, The Prince and the Dressmakerhere!)

At the main Saturday event I ended getting a lot of really good ARCs. I’ll make sure to post reviews for the LGBTA+ ones here, but all the other ones (including the Rick Riordan Presents releases) will be over at my blog if you are interested. I was basically at the Disney booth all day since they didn’t have a schedule, but were constantly giving out books.

There were a lot of fun author signings and I managed to get a signed copy of Running with Lions by Julian Winters. He is SO unbelievably nice and I cannot wait to read this book and review it for you all! It’s about soccer so it’s perfect to get me in the mood for the World Cup!

Other than that I was really excited to meet the gang from OwlCrate. I’m subscribed to their YA box and they are very sweet, so I went over  to spin the wheel and get a prize. And a tote bag. If you really need tote bags then book events are the events for you because EVERYTHING came with a tote bag.

I wish I had known about this event earlier because it was so much fun and I got so many new books to read (I need to write a schedule to review them all on time). I feel like next year it’ll be even better because I know the setup/how to get around, so I can do more. I talked to other people and heard that this year was the most organized the event has been so hopefully next year it gets even better! There were some booths that were really organized but some that just had people rushing up to grab tickets for a giveaway (aka my nightmare).

Some helpful tips for you if you plan on going next year:

  1. Go through the schedule and prioritize what arcs/panels you want to go to. Planning is the only way to go to ensure you don’t miss out on your priorities.
  2. Go early so you can get in and get going before crowds and the sun show up.
  3.  If you see a booth’s set up is chaotic decide if that’s worth it or find an alternative thing to do.
  4. Some booths have constant giveaways so if you have some “Free” time head back to those to get some more books.
  5. Food truck lines are insane so plan time for eating or walk over to a local restaurant instead for a nice relaxing time.
  6. Check the #yallwest tag on twitter to get updated with all the events and such.

YallWest will next be held in Spring 2019 in or around the Los Angeles area. Follow them on twitter @YALLWEST for more information!

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