5 Lessons learned from Yallfest 2018

Hey friends! Instead of doing an actual recap from each day of Yallfest, I decided to highlight the 5 big lessons B and I learned this year. So sit back, relax, and let me know if y’all have any other lessons learned from Yallfest this year!

Never stay at the Embassy Suites on Meeting Street

B and I stayed at the Homewood Suites last year, and it was such a great hotel with wonderful rooms and good coffee, but since it was about $60 more per night than the Embassy Suites, and since the ES was closer, we decided that it would probably be a better bet. Every other ES I’ve ever stayed in has been amazing (and let’s be real, I’ve stayed in quite a few), but this one was definitely sub-par. The lobby and the courtyard on the ground floor were really pretty, and the building apparently has some really cool history, but the room itself was gross. The living area had a gross green carpet and couches that looked like they were from the 80s.

Neither of us even wanted to take our shoes off or walk barefoot around at all and we never even sat on those couches. The bedroom was small and we could hear all of the noise from outside and there were weird pinkish stains on the walls. Overall, definitely one of the worst rooms either of us had ever stayed in… but the location was good, so maybe next year, we’ll try and stay in one of the other hotels close to the ES.

 

Make sure to sign up for Friday events ASAP

In 2017, we didn’t realize how quickly the Friday events were going to fill up, so we didn’t try to sign up for them until the week of Yallfest, which was a huge mistake, so this year, I was scouring the website every day to see when they were going to put up the Friday events. As soon as they were up, I pretty much signed up for the one I knew we were going to want to go to. Then, closer to the event NOVL sent me an invite for an exclusive event, so we definitely had to sign up and go to that one too!

So on Friday, we went to S’mores and Pours with Novl and Foodie Fun-attics. S’mores and Pours was such a cute, intimate event- there were only about 20 or so of us there and Monica Hesse was there, talking about her book  The War Outside. It was so cool to be able to talk books with a small group of other bookstagrammers and book bloggers, and Natali, Valerie, and Katharine were so much fun! I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for these kind of events again next year! Foodie Fun-attics was definitely fun too, but it was a lot bigger and it was definitely harder to interact with the authors. We walked out with some delicious ice cream though, so that was definitely a win.

Create a plan and send out calendar invites (plus walking time) to everyone in your party

B and I are big planners (for some things anyway). We work events sometimes for our real jobs, and having a set schedule with times, locations, priorities, and transit time are key to not getting lost, overwhelmed, or missing something important. While B was driving on Friday, I consulted the Yallfest site for panel timings and locations and the individual publishing houses on Twitter for their ARC drop schedules to make us a comprehensive you need to be here at this time, lining up in this location schedule. I like using the calendar that’s built into my phone since my phone is always on me and it connects to my watch for easy access, but honestly, even if you create hard copies of your schedule, it’s going to be really helpful.

Here’s what our schedule looked like:

Check #yallfest often on Twitter

One of the biggest (and most exciting) ARCs that we picked up this year was Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard. We didn’t even know that it was going to be at Yallfest this year, but because I was checking the hashtag every 5 or 10 minutes, I saw when someone had gotten one and her followup tweet detailing how she got it, so B and I 100% followed those steps while waiting in line for a different ARC drop.

Know that you’re 90% not going to get the ARC that you’re most excited for

Our most wanted ARC last year was Cruel Prince, and we ended up being 2 people too late to get it. Our most wanted ARC this year was Gilded Wolves, and again, somehow we were just 2 people behind where they ran out. So moral of the story is that while you’re going to get a lot of amazing ARCs, you probably won’t get that one that you’ve been dying for and that’s ok. (This one is definitely more for myself- I still need to remind myself that even though I’ve been trying to get an ARC of Gilded Wolves since Roshani got them in June, it’s ok that I haven’t been able to yet (even though I’ve tried like 8 times) and since I’ve already pre-ordered it, I can just wait until it comes out)

Let me know how Yallfest was for you guys (if you were able to go)!

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Oh man, it’s been a while since I wrote a review- something I’ve noticed as I’ve been writing reviews is that if I don’t sit down and force myself to write a review (and withhold other things, like reading time, until I write the blog), it’s not going to happen. So now, I’m going to try and knock out and pre-write at least a few reviews to come out in the next few days/weeks—— BUT before that, y’all are going to be inundated with YALLFest posts! That’s right friends, I’m headed to YALLFest again this year! I’m definitely going to be writing at least one wrap up post, but I might end up doing a Friday wrap up and a Saturday wrap-up and of course, I’m definitely going to have a haul post!

Now, on to what you’re really here for, my review!

The Girl in the Tower 4.5/5 Stars 4.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

I loved the Girl in the Tower so much! It was an amazing follow up to the Bear and the Nightingale. Like book 1, the story was a little slow, but it never felt as though I wasn’t engaged. So much happened and I learned so much more about Russia in the 14th century and how shitty it was to be a woman at that time. Vasya is an amazing main character and god I cannot wait to read book 3!!!!