Event Recaps

Event Recap: Pasadena Loves YA

Sorry for the lateness of this post! I know PLYA was over a week ago but I just got so busy the days after it. I’ll warn you guys now, this post is fairly lengthy and contains lots of pictures, most of which are directly from my instagram.


Last Saturday on May 23, 2015, I attended the second annual Pasadena Loves YA! For those of you who don’t know, PLYA – formerly known as the Pasadena Teen Book Festival – is a Young Adult book festival held in the Pasadena Central Public Library. This year was only the second time they’ve had the event but there was already an even bigger turnout than the first time! All the seats were filled in the auditorium during the opening keynote speech, and some people were even standing in the back, compared to last year when we literally could jump from one seat to the next without concern.

This year there were five panels and twenty awesome authors were in attendance: Victoria Aveyard, Jessica Brody, Romina Russell, Jennifer Niven, Stephen Chbosky, and Kody Keplinger, to name a few.

PLYA 2015
PLYA 2015 logo NOT mine.

My friend Jessica and I met up around 10:30am and picked up a quick breakfast (if you can call pastries and boba breakfast, ha) from my favorite boba place in Pasadena, Flour + Tea, before heading over to the Pasadena Library. The event wasn’t going to officially begin until 12PM, but Vromans was going to open their pop-up shop at 11am and the first 150 guests to arrive would receive a free tote bag! So of course we had to get there early.

My favorite boba place in Pasadena!
Vromans pop-up shop.

After we entered the library, we were surprised to find that they had three whole carts full of free books, and since we were only allowed to choose two per person it was so difficult to decide which ones to take!

Book carts filled with free books!

With help from my friends Steff and Cassie, and my new friend Carmen (from Oh, The Book Feels!) I finally decided on the two I wanted. Two ARCs, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon and Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, both of which will be released later this year in September. I also really wanted the hardcover of Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger, but I hadn’t read the first book Let the Sky Fall yet so I didn’t end up getting it.

ARCs I picked up at PLYA 2015

Mary McCoy, a Los Angeles Public Library librarian and debut novelist, was the keynote speaker and she did a wonderful job despite being so nervous. She had two signings, one right after the keynote speech and another after the Dial “M” for Murder panel later in the afternoon, so I decided to just get my book signed at the first signing. One of the things I really enjoy about this book event in Pasadena is that you have time to talk to the authors when you get your book signed. You don’t just get pushed along like cattle, get your book signed, then are rushed to leave. So when I got to Mary it was nice to be able to talk a little bit about how I’m looking forward to reading her book because I have never read one with a prominent film noir theme in it before.

Mary McCoy during her keynote speech.
Me with Mary McCoy after she signed my book.

After that was the first panel of the day, Second Chances which featured Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, Brandy Colbert, and Sarah Tomp which was held on the 4th floor. It took me a few minutes to find the stairs because I had never actually explored the library the previous time I had been there. Once I found the stairs behind the circulation desk, I actually bumped into (not literally) Jessica Brody! She was on her way up to the panel too.

Teens section on the 4th floor
(L – R) Morgan Matson, Sarah Tomp, Brandy Colbert, and Lauren Miller at the Second Chances panel.

It was packed by the time I made my way up there so I didn’t stay long, for fear of not getting a good seat for the next panel which was the one I really wanted to see. But as I reached the top of the stairs of the fourth floor, I noticed some people lined up by the small table against the wall and realized that there were freebies! I always love free book swag.

Love me some free book swag!

I was lucky enough to snag the last Shadowhunters mini poster, too, so that was really awesome. 🙂 I also took two small buttons, a few book marks, and one of each Shadowhunter tattoos.

After taking a few pictures, I went back down to the auditorium and sat with my friends to wait for the next panel, The First Time: From Draft to Finish Line. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it because I always love listening to authors talk about how they got started and how their path to publication went. The panel was moderated by Kody Keplinger and featured first-time authors Victoria Aveyard, Virginia Boecker, and Alexis Bass.

They spoke about their experiences as a first-time published author, their writing processes, and their different paths to publication. It was inspiring to hear that one author’s path is always different from another’s, and that that’s totally okay. Sometimes it takes longer to get there, and other times it’s really quick, but the common trait that all these authors shared was that they worked hard and were persistent even in the face of rejection and uncertainty.

(L-R) Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Virginia Boecker, and Kody Keplinger.

These ladies were hilarious, too. Victoria told us that she wrote fanfiction to hone her craft when first starting out, and that she had written Lord of the Rings fanfiction, specifically about Legolas. Now that’s something I’d want to read. Haha! Alexis also wrote fanfiction but hers were for Jurassic Park. She and Victoria joked around about how the latest Jurassic Park movie is basically copying what she had written for her fanfiction.

The line after their panel was so long it extended out into the library and I really didn’t want to wait in such a long line, so I waited with my friends until it got shorter. The only one I really wanted to meet was Kody Keplinger because I had finished The Duff and really enjoyed it (you can check out my review here), so I wanted her to sign my book. I really enjoyed meeting and chatting with her. She asked if I was a writer and I said yes, but I’m having trouble focusing on one project because I have so many story ideas coming to me. Kody said she has the same problem so what she does is choose one and focus on it, otherwise nothing gets done.

Kody Keplinger and her adorable German Shepherd guide dog, Corey, in the background.
Me with Kody! 🙂

I had already met Victoria Aveyard at YALL West back in April and got Red Queen signed, so I didn’t really have anything for her except a couple posters. And, of course, I had to get another picture with her.

Me with Victoria Aveyard. I suck at taking selfies.

Next to her was Alexis Bass, author of Love & Other Theories. Unfortunately, I didn’t have her book at the time, but I did get a photo with her, and one of her cool bookmarks.

Me with Alexis Bass

Then next was Virginia Boecker, author of the upcoming novel The Witch Hunter. I don’t know why but I thought her book was out already and had planned to buy it there, but apparently it comes out June 2, 2015. Oh, well. I’ll just have to pick it up and read it before her next event.

Virginia Boecker signing bookplates. Doesn’t that cover look awesome?!
Me with Virginia Boecker

After we finished there, my friends and I went upstairs again to see the authors that were signing after the Sci-fi & Fantasy panel. We missed the panel but at least we made it for the signing. I went to say hi to Jessica Brody again, and took a picture with her. I already had all her books signed (and an extra one that I gave to Jessica) from the Ontario Teen Book Festival earlier this year, so I didn’t have anything for her to sign (wish I thought of asking her and the other authors to sign my tote bag; I always forget that’s an option) but she gave me an Unchanged bookplate because she said it felt wrong to just have me leave with nothing. Aw, hehe.

Me and Jessica Brody. 🙂 Oh, and you can actually see my Clockwork Angel necklace here!

Romina Russell, author of Zodiac and one of the most adorable and friendliest authors I’ve ever met, was right next to Jessica on the other table so I immediately got in her line afterwards. I noticed she had these gorgeous Zodiac cards on her table that she didn’t have when I first met her at the Festival of Books in April, and knew I just had to have one, specifically my zodiac sign.

Lovely to see Romina again. 🙂

We chatted a bit and I told her about my new blog, and because she’s awesome and we’re totally friends now she let me take one of each Zodiac card. Her book is ridiculously amazing. I’m reading it right now and I cannot wait to review it!

While we were meeting the sci-fi/fantasy authors, the panel for Dial “M” for Murder was going on.

I went back down to find my friend then just sat there to wait for the next and final panel, Tough Topics featuring Ava Dellaira, Liz Maccie, Jennifer Niven, and moderator Stephen Chbosky.

Stephen Chbosky was such a great moderator and so entertaining. Plus the fact that he was sitting next to his wife Liz and couldn’t help but gush about how wonderful she is was incredibly adorable. He also good-naturedly pointed out that Jennifer was the odd one out in the panel because Liz was his wife, and Ava was his assistant for quite some time. Jennifer told us that she couldn’t help but fangirl a bit prior to the panel because she really admired Stephen and felt honored to meet him.

Tough Topics panel about to begin! (L-R) Ava Dellaira, Jennifer Niven, Liz Maccie, and Stephen Chbosky.

I already got Ava Dellaira’s book signed at her launch last year (I think it was last year?) so the only one I really had to get was Jennifer. My co-worker started reading All The Bright Places a few days before PLYA and she just could not put it down. I have so many on my TBR list and just barely started climbing out of a massive reading slump so I haven’t read it yet, but I am very excited to! The moment I read the synopsis I just knew it was something I had to read. Plus the cover is so pretty, and wait until you take the dust jacket off!

Me with the wonderful Jennifer Niven!

The signing line was ridiculous and took us a good 45 minutes to get to the authors; we were tired and starving, but it was the last event of the day so that helped keep us going. When it was finally my turn to meet Jennifer, I asked her to sign my book and she asked me to do the same with hers. I was really caught off-guard that it took me a few moments to understand what she was asking. “What? Me? You’re asking me to sign YOUR book?” I was so confused for a few moments. Haha But I can’t say I loved hearing that for the first time! Hopefully the next time I get asked that question I’ll be signing my own book. 🙂

Posters for authors and everyone else to sign!

With the event over, my friend Jessica and I went to the outside patio to eat our sandwiches. Before we left though, I went up to the teens section on the 4th floor to borrow Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything because she’s having a book signing on June 25. I got an ARC of Extraordinary Means and it’s signed already, but I haven’t read her previous book so I figured I might as well since I was in a library and it was available.

My haul from PYLA 2015! Three signed books, two ARCs, an awesome tote bag, and lots of book swag.

Overall, it was a fantastic event and I’m so glad to have been able to attend since it’s inception in 2014! Thank you to everyone involved who helped pull off the event, and to the authors who attended! Can’t wait until PLYA 2016 is confirmed!

Until next time!

Mina

*Unless otherwise stated, all photos in this post belong to me and may not be used anywhere else without written permission.*

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