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YALLFEST is Book Nerd Happiness

Over the weekend of November 12th to the 13th of this year, I went to a young adult book conference. This year was the 10th anniversary of the conference. The conference was hosted in Charleston up and down King Street. Now when we hear the word conference, we tend to think of pantsuits and business-like people. That’s not this type of conference–the authors were very friendly and even signed personalized signed books. So not only were their books and other authors at this event but also great food, small shops, and a beautiful location.

This year it meant a lot to me because my favorite author and idol, Melissa De La Cruz, was at this one. She is one of the founding members of YALLFEST along with Brendan Reichs and numerous other authors. So this year I met her and got all of the Descendants books signed. The Descendants books series is about the children of the famous Disney Villians and heroes like Maleficent, Jafar, Belle, and the Beast. I got to show her my appreciation for the characters that she wrote about through a letter and fan art that I created. It was everything I was hoping it would be. De La Cruz is a very nice person and easy to talk to. Her books make you feel right at home. I would suggest checking out some of her work!

Besides De La Cruz, I saw two other authors, Stephanie Garber (author of the Caraval books series), Brendan Reichs (who wrote the Nemesis series and cowrote the Virals novel with his mom, Kathy Reichs). One of my family members met and got my books signed by Adalyn Grace (who wrote All the Stars and Teeth). The staff at YALLFEST were very helpful in helping people where to go and what lines we were supposed to be in for which author.

One of my favorite parts of the event after getting to meet my favorite authors is the YA Smackdown. I view this as a Saturday Night Live-like show but intended for book nerds. This year the show was hosted by Brendan Reichs (Nemesis) and Soman Chainani ( School for Good and Evil). The topic of the show was “bad ships” in novels. At the beginning of the show, they danced and brought up references to bad ships like, Heromine Granger and Draco Malfoy, or Jesper and Milo (the goat) from Shadow and Bone. There were other authors there too like Angie Thomas (Concrete Rose), Nic Stone (Dear Martin) along with the hosts of the show. During each skit that took place at the Smackdown, authors and audience members participated in the games on stage. It really was an event that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Now a little bit more about the authors that I saw. Each author wrote more books than just the ones I am reviewing on but these are the ones that I have read or taken interest in.

Let’s start with Brendan Reichs. I have not read Virals yet, but I have finished the first Nemesis book and what I have to say is that the book is really good at keeping you in suspension and wondering what will happen next. I don’t want to give too much away but think Lord of The Flies by William Golding mixed with mystery plus an ending that you definitely won’t see coming.

Stephanie Garber wrote the Caraval series, and I am currently in the middle of reading it. What I have to say about this book is that it starts out with a very proper and ladylike start from the main character Scarlett, who is engaged to a count she has never met. She has an abusive father and a sister, Tella, who is trying to get Scarlett to live an exciting life before her wedding. Both sisters end up partaking in Caraval thanks to Tella’s mischievous acts of getting her sister to the Ia Isla de los Suenos. Caraval is a circus with magic but it is also a game. The leader of the game goes by the name Master Legend and nobody knows who he is because during each game he changes his face and identity to take part in it. As always there is a catch the things in the game might seem real, they horrify and excite the main character but the main question is– is it real?

Adalyn Grace wrote All The Stars and Teeth, which is book 1 and book 2 in All The Tides of Fate. I have not read these books yet but from what I hear the main character is a princess and a mermaid, she who is supposed to be the master of souls but then things start to go bad and she finds herself in places she never expected.

So in all, the experience of YALLFEST this year was amazing. I got to talk to other people who like the same books as I do. I saw my favorite authors and I also got to spend time with my family!

Elaina Jamrog

Winthrop '24

I am a writer of poetry, fiction, and I write reviews
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