As I’m sure you all know (and might be sick of hearing), I was lucky enough to attend YALC this past weekend. The Young Adult Literature Convention is part of London Film and Comic Con and is held once a year. I had never been before and was incredibly excited to attend – I have friends who have been, and they absolutely loved it. I got my reading list together, came up with some tips for attending, made some pals on Twitter, packed my bags, and headed to London.
As predicted, I had a great time. Held in a large room in London’s Olympia conference center, YALC was much quieter than I had anticipated. However, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t crowded. There were tons of people there, but most people were incredibly kind and enthusiastic to talk about their favourite books and authors and what they were most looking forward to over the coming days.
I spent my first day adjusting to the large numbers of people, strolling through the publisher stands, and buying (too many) books. I sat in on the SFF Now panel, which was absolutely fantastic. Chaired by Laure Eve (The Graces), it featured Taran Matharu (The Novice), Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season), Laura Lam (Pantomime, False Hearts), Elizabeth May (The Falconer), and David Owen (Panther). Everyone was so incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their genre – I wish it could have lasted for hours longer. After the panel, I had a chat with Laura Lam, a lecturer at my alma mater, and Laure Eve. They both chatted with me, signed my books, recommended some classic sci-fi, and were absolutely stunning people.
I wound up buying too much stuff on this day, so I had to duck out on some of the post-YALC festivities, which I really regret. I did, however, bring home 23 books (not all purchased) and a whole lot of swag.
The next day was probably my favourite. Saturday was by far the busiest day, but the energy in the room was great and there was so much going on! The highlights of my day were getting books signed by loads of amazing authors and getting reading recommendations from the lovely Alwyn Hamilton and Non Pratt.
Blackwing is one of my favorite books of the year so far, and I knew I needed to get a signed copy. Ed McDonald was signing on Saturday morning and I managed to have a chat with him as he signed. What a lovely fellow! I also made it to the Blackwing cupcake party a bit too late and he gave me his cupcake. He’s a contender for MVP of YALC.
I only brought two books with me to YALC — This Savage Song and A Conjuring of Light. I was hellbent on getting into V. E. Schwab’s line, which was incredibly long (the least surprising thing ever). I was #142 in the queue, so I wandered to the Waterstones stand to pass time (more on that in a minute). I had planned to finished A Conjuring of Light before getting it signed, but that didn’t happen. I was desperately reading in the queue and managed to get 19 pages from the end before I got to the front. This Savage Song was signed as a surprise for my pal who first got me to reach Schwab (she loved it!).
The best bit of the day was crashing in on Alwyn Hamilton and Non Pratt’s guest bookselling slots at the Waterstones stand. Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands is the book that really got me into reading YA in January of this year, so it was amazing to chat with her about other books I might like — books I might not have picked up on my own. I was almost late for my Schwab slot because I was having a grand old time. Non Pratt joined in on the conversation and the two of them were amazing! I walked away with three books that I might not have picked up on my own: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin, Unboxed by Non Pratt, and Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse.
I think it’s safe to say that I was completely and utterly exhausted by Sunday, so I didn’t end up staying long. But I raided the Waterstones stand for the remaining books I hadn’t bought yet, sat in on the fantastic Fandom panel, and hung out with a few pals before heading out.
Now we get to the best bit: the swag haul! I’ve been sporting this picture all over the place because I think it encapsulates how ridiculous YALC is and no matter how much space you leave in your suitcase, you should always bring an extra bag.
The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart: Billed as Stranger Things meets Stephen King. I’m 100% in!
Charlotte Says by Alex Bell: a prequel to Frozen Charlotte, which I haven’t read. But it looks like a good, spooky read (hoping this is a trend?).
Blackbird by Nd Gomes: Again, a book I know pretty much nothing about but am looking forward to. I think this has the potential to be a great one!
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: The book everyone seems to want, and with good reason! The back copy is the best thing ever. I have a feeling this one will make me want to smash the patriarchy.
The Fandom by Anna Day: Again, one I didn’t know anything about going it, but it looks amazing! Imagine getting pulled into the world of your favorite film/TV show (sorry Game of Thrones fans).
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins: my most highly anticipated proof of the weekend! So many enthusiastic thanks to Jim, who saved me a copy. He’s the other contender for MVP of YALC. I’ve read this one now, a review is forthcoming.
The Witch’s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr: I’ve heard good things about these books, so I bought the first one. They’re sisters! Sisters! My big sister is my best friend, so I have a soft spot for these ladies already.
The Graces by Laure Eve: A book I’ve been dying to get my hands on for ages and have had some serious trouble finding! I managed to get a copy and get it signed after the SFF panel and I can confirm that Laure Eve is so amazing and lovely (with great taste in books).
Moondust by Gemma Fowler: This was a total last-day-cover-buy. I had my eye on it for awhile, but never actually bought it until time was running out on Sunday. Fortunately, my copy was signed!
This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab: My old but unread copy that I got signed for my book pusher friend!
Unboxed by Non Pratt: Recommended by Non Pratt herself (pre-head shave). I have been wanting to expand more into contemporary and figure out what I do and don’t like, and she was high on my list. It has a gorgeous cover, and I’m a big fan of the publisher (Barrington Stoke) and the work they do!
This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton: Signed by the delightful author while I was in line to buy other books. I saw her on the fandom panel and she seems like an amazing person. Again, I’m looking to get more into contemporary and this one is different from many of the ones I’ve read.
Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse: Recommended by Alwyn Hamilton herself as a love letter to Tokyo and a contemporary that I might actually like!
Pantomime by Laura Lam: I absolutely loved the weird and wonderful False Hearts and have been wanting to read her other series for awhile. Really looking forward to this!
A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab: One of the big ones. I brought this one from home and finally managed to finish it at home on Saturday. A review is forthcoming!
Smoke by Dan Vyelta: I really loved the look of this book! It’s set in Oxford, where I live, and just looks like a really intriguing book. This was a Sunday purchase and all the signed copies were unfortunately slightly damaged, so I grabbed the least messed up one. Good thing I’m not someone who cares much about that sort of thing!
Blackwing by Ed McDonald: This was one of the books I was incredibly excited for. I don’t often buy books that I get digital ARC’s for, but Blackwing was one I didn’t want to miss out on. Ed was marvelous (see above), and I’m so pleased to add this book to my collection!
Geekerella by Ashley Poston (limited edition): Another digital ARC that I loved and bought! I probably wouldn’t have grabbed the paperback, but there were a few editions available in limited edition hardcover. I made sure I grabbed one!
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: Confession time: I’ve never managed to finish a book by Rainbow Rowell. I had a copy of Landline from the library, but had to return it before I could really get into it. So I’ve decided to remedy this!
Nemesis by Brendan Reichs: This one was recommended by the lovely gentleman at the My Kind of Book stall. I’ve seen this one around a bit and I’m intrigued. Sprayed edges and a murdery plot? Yes please.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin: Another Alwyn Hamilton recommendation! I’ve never read anything by Ryan Graudin and this one sounds totally kickass.
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus: Another one that I’ve been hearing about everywhere! It sounds like The Breakfast Club meets murder. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody (early sale): I have an ARC of this book, but I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of this beautiful paperback in the early sale. This is high on my list of books for August!
Alex & Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz: I’m not entirely sold on a romance about Alexander Hamilton and his wife that he aggressively cheated on, but I’m game because of the pretty cover. I’m so so so far from the Hamilton fandom (never seen it, never listened to it, have no interest in it), so it will be really interesting to read it without having be swept up in the craze.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James (early sale): Okay, this was my most highly anticipated book of YALC! Early copies of this beautiful little book were on sale and I made sure to grab one (possibly the last copy from the first batch on Friday? They had to order literally hundreds of extra copies to fulfil demand). This was the first YALC book that I read and I HIGHLY recommend you read it too!
Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt: I sat in on the Fandom panel and Maggie Harcourt was absolutely delightful! I picked this one up, but don’t really know anything about it. I’m hoping that fandom books become a trend — which it very much seems like they are — because I absolutely love celebrations of geeky culture.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: I have been hearing good things about this book, but steered clear because I am not a fan of the cover. It just looks like something I wouldn’t be interested in. But I read the back and after a number of recommendations, I decided to pick it up.
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee: I really hate the UK cover of this book — the US one is stunning — but I’ve been wanting to read this for ages. I know a second book is coming out soon, so it’s time to get going!
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle: I LOVED Spellbook of the Lost and Found, which I read and reviewed earlier this year. I knew I needed to pick up The Accident Season, her debut novel, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Frostblood by Elly Blake: I’m going to be honest: I love the cover. I know nothing else about this book. Is it good? Is it bad? I don’t know! But book 2 is coming out soon, so there’s that.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: More Rainbow Rowell! This one looks like it’s up my alley. Also, cute cover.
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers who Changed History by Sam Maggs and Sophia Foster-Dimino: This looks so cute! I grabbed this from the sale at the Quirk stand. It features 25 important women from history and has sweet illustrations. What’s not to like?
Rebellion by Josephine Boyce: Josephine Boyce is an independent author who has her amazing stand at YALC. She was absolutely lovely and I’m really looking forward to reading this! If I like this one, she has more in the series to keep me busy.
Talon by Julie Kagawa: Highly recommended by the lovely ladies at the HQ stand! I’ve seen this series around here and have heard good things.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: Another one that I don’t know much about, but I know the second book is out soon. Good cover, intriguing plot.
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (book swap): I read a digital ARC of this book and really liked it. I saw it on the book swap stand and took the opportunity to grab the physical proof.
Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena (early sale): Another book from the sale at the Quirk stand! It looks hilariously wonderful.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: Another one I’ve missed out on — I feel like the only person who hasn’t read this. From what I can tell, Illuminae is a love-it-or-hate-it book.
Too many to list here! I’m planning to read all these and do flash reviews of them, then I’m considering doing a giveaway. Would anyone be interested?
I picked up a lot of non-book stuff! I bought the two candles from the fabulous people at Geeky Clean, but everything else was either free or won from a competition. Not pictured: the multitude of free tote bags.
So what did I learn from YALC? Book people are lovely, always pack an extra bag, don’t be scared to talk to authors (they’re people too!), and pace yourself if you’re planning to go book crazy. Bring books that you want signed with you because it’s easier than you think to get them signed and have a great chat with the authors. You don’t need to go running around like crazy to get good stuff (sorry Hodderscape, I love your books but I’m not running to the booth, hopping on one foot, and barking like a dog. I’m too old for that shit). Take YALC at the exact pace that you want to take it. I’m already looking forward to next year!
That’s it for my YALC roundup! Can you tell I started to get exhausted by the end of this post? I’m so pleased with my haul, but good lord did I get a lot of books. I’m glad I could share this with you all!