Sunday, March 31, 2019

Our ApollyCon 2019 Recap


This year Kat and I made it to our first big romance reader event!  ApollyCon is only  2 hours north of us and has been on my radar for years. What started as a signing for Jennifer Armentrout fans has turned into a 3-day fan convention. The big reason I wanted to go this year was to meet Elle Kennedy. Kennedy has become very well known for her New Adult Briar U series but I'm a big fan of her romantic suspense Killer Instincts series and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to meet her.
The signing floor

We arrived on Friday evening to register at the event hotel, The Hyatt Regency Crystal City, a very chic hotel with a restaurant and coffee bar.  We didn't stay in the event hotel and after getting our badges we grabbed dinner at Shake Shack.

Jess
I went to sleep early so I could get up and get a ticket for Elle Kennedy's signing. I got in the ticketing line a little before it opened and met some readers who were also first-time attendees. I was able to get tickets for all of the authors I wanted including Christina Lauren--which I did not think would happen.

I met Elle Kennedy during the second half of the signing, she was very excited to talk about her Midnight Series and I wish I'd had the chance to tell her how much I appreciated her writing characters in their 30's.  I just feel like since I've been reading romance,  romantic suspense has never
had a big moment.

The event was very well planned and I think the organizer's decision to split the rooms was a great idea. It allowed readers to take their time browsing the signing floor and kept lines short--so much so that pretty much all of the ticketed authors opened up. Novelly Yours Candles was also there and The Bookworm Box was selling mystery bags!

Afterparty!
After the signing, we attended the decades themed after party and some people really brought it with their costumes.

Jess' Haul
Some big moments that stood out for me were how approachable the authors were across the spectrum, whether they were  NYT bestsellers, independent or traditionally published. I mean Christina Lauren were literally just standing there interacting with fans. Their publicist Kristin was very nice, they had sold out of Christina Lauren in the bookstore and she tipped us off when more came in. I also had a chance to meet Kirsten Callihan, Kennedy Ryan, Suzanne Young, Chanel Cleeton and Brigid Kremmer. My opening for most of them was "So I heard your interview on this podcast . . ."

I also met romance narrators--Lia Langola, Bailey Carr and Emma Wilder--whose work I can't wait to check out! Also on the audio front, I chatted with Andi Arndt at the Lyric Audiobook table.

Jennifer Armentrout and her team put a lot into this event and her fans really appreciate it. At the end of the after party Armentrout  (and cover model Drew Leighty) took pictures with and hugged everyone in line. The way she thanked and interacts with her fans is very personal.

My only critique is that I do feel like a lot of the event planning, announcements and cancellations happen on Facebook and Instagram which can leave some readers out of the loop. I also heard there were some upsets regarding the Sara J. Maas signing.

I'm totally up for ApollyCon 2020 and plan to spend the year reading up on all the authors I learned about at the event. The weekend went pretty fast and we grabbed quick meals (read: Door Dash is your friend) between signings at fast-casual chains we don't have in RVA like Nando's Peri Peri and &Pizza




Kat
First of all: The people behind ApollyCon are so well coordinated they probably could have saved Fyre Fest. I feel like so much happened in such a short time, but I'll hit the highlights.

I took a much more laid back approach than Jess. I didn't go to the signings when the doors opened and didn't get up early for tickets. The only ticketed author I wanted to see was Sarina Bowen but nothing of hers I wanted was for sale in the official bookstore. When Bowen's line opened up to everyone a few hours into the signing; I went to see if I could just get a bookmark signed and she told me I could purchase the copy of Steadfast she had on display! She was so nice about it and we even chatted about having the same clear credit card that always gets lost. I can't remember anything book-ish we talked about but it was a pleasure meeting her and narrator Tanya Eby.

I came to ApollyCon with a bag of books from my shelf but I managed to somehow come home with more books than I brought with me? Here is a list of what I purchased:

- Signed by Marni Mann. Her story in the Mixtape anthology left me wanting more so I picked this up. Her husband seemed super supportive and was at her table acting as a great publicist.
Kat's Haul
- Josh and Hazel's Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren. I didn't think I'd meet them because they are so high profile but an hour before the signing ended they had literally no line so I rushed out and got this.
- Dusk Til Dawn by Andie J. Christopher. I loved her interview on Wicked Wallflowers and I am so excited for her new book. Plus, she brought her dog along.
- The Corner of Forever and Always by Lia Riley. I chatted with Riley about being an Avon Addict and about a coffee shop in her book. She was so nice and took this book off the display and gave it to me.

I also chatted with Chanel Cleeton, Amanda Bouchet, Miranda Keneally, Sophie Jordan, Andrew Shaffer and Sonali Dev. Everyone was friendly and I felt bad that I couldn't buy physical copies of everyone's books but my digital TBR and library request list has grown.

I thought the decade's themed afterparty was so fun, the costume game was on point. At the afterparty, I spotted Tif Marcelo (after seeing her ApollyCon posts on Twitter) and said hi since she is coming to visit my local indie in May. She was so personable and open.

My other favorite part of this event (and all events) is being around so many readers and specifically these readers who all speak the same language of romance novels. It's always fun to overhear people having IRL conversations about the things I only see on the Bookish Internet.

I hope I can go next year and if so, I want to take time to talk to authors who I am not familiar with.
If you are thinking about going to Apollycon 2020 tickets go on sale May 9th at 8PM and be ready because they go fast!

SIDENOTE
Two authors at the event were reading Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston...can't wait to see the splash this book makes.






Monday, March 25, 2019

AudioFile Magazine’s Picks of the Best New Young Adult Audiobooks for Spring Listening

Spring is finally here and whether you are hitting the road for Spring break or hunkering down for  Spring cleaning you will want to check out AudioFile Magazine's Picks of the Best New Young Adult Audiobooks for Spring to keep you company chosen by Aureila C. Scott !

Finding one’s own true way is full of challenge and reward. Here are our picks of five great new audiobooks about making your own rules and being yourself no matter what. Some edgy, some sweet, some joyful, some weepers. All awesome. [The linked] titles below to reveal AudioFile’s full review and a soundclip. Here’s to having an audiobook in your ear

- Aurelia C. Scott, AudioFile Magazine blogger.




by Jaye Robin Brown | Read by Amanda Dolen


Tantor Media | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

Amanda Dolen totally channels high school senior Jo Dolan, a devout Christian who moves in with her dad and step-mom in an evangelical small town.  What could go wrong?  Well, Jo is gay and when she finds love, her new girlfriend can’t understand why Jo won’t go public.  Dolen captures Jo’s vulnerability, humor, and determination perfectly.



by In This Together Media, Foreward by Amy Klobuchar | Read by Amy Klobuchar [Fore.], Vikas Adam, Jonathan Davis, Ari Fliakos, Sullivan Jones, January LaVoy, Soneela Nankani, Adenrele Ojo, Nancy Wu, Gabra Zackman

Listening Library | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

Forty-eight stirring short essays about speaking truth to power and standing up for oneself are terrifically read by some of the best narrators around.  They bring vibrancy and understanding to a huge range of remarkable stories, from former NFL player Wade Davis’s bullying of gay classmates in an effort to hide his own sexuality to Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr remembering what it was like to lose her friends and family one by one in Auschwitz.

  

by Courtney Summers | Read by Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman, and a Full Cast

Macmillan Audio | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner, Audie Award Winner

Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, and supporting actors keep listeners glued to this podcast-like in-the-moment account of a teen on the trail of a killer.  The daughter of a drug addict, Sadie has been left to care for her younger sister.  When her sister is murdered, Sadie sets out to discover the truth in a tense and unforgettable tale about love and revenge.



by Arwen Elys Dayton | Read by Michael Crouch, Karissa Vacker, Brittany Pressley, Christopher Gebauer, Ari Fliakos, Rebecca Lowman

Listening Library | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

A fine cast of narrators drop us into the middle of a twilight zone tomorrow where you can do so many things to change yourself genetically and surgically.  What would you do for yourself or your kids?  How far would you go?  The interconnected stories in this right-now book are addicting.



by April Genevieve Tucholke | Read by Saskia Maarleveld

Recorded Books | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

Saskia Maarleveld beautifully expresses the disparate personalities of the three unusual young women in this enveloping fantasy.  They sell death, you see.  Kind death to those who are ill.  With witchy backgrounds, they have the power to end your life just the way you want.  But what’s really for sale?  And what exactly are they earning?

For more audiobook reviews, features and interviews check out AudioFile Magazine!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Kat's Crooked Kingdom Review (in Gifs)






I finished Crooked Kingdom so it's time for a GIF review! 



Monday, March 18, 2019

2019 YA Books for Black Mirror Fans


One of my favorite shows on Netflix is the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It's like The Twilight Zone for the Millennial / Gen Z generation and I've noticed quite a few 2019 YA titles are giving me serious Black Mirror vibes.

"Black Museum" 

The Obsoletes by Simeon Mills
Black Museum and many other episodes of Black Mirror examine what it means to be human and what is considered deserving of humanity. In this debut YA novel, a pair of teenage brothers hide that they are robots from the humans in their small Michigan town for fear of being disassembled.

"Be Right Back"


No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett
This is the book that inspired this list. The Black Mirror episode Be Right Back follows a woman who uses a service to recreate a digital and then lifelike version of her dead boyfriend. In this sophomore book from author Sarah Everett, a teen girl falls in love with a digital version of her dead crush.



"Shut Up and Dance"

Swipe Right For Murder by Derek Milman
While I love the more science-fiction Black Mirror episodes, the show is really about how technology affects our lives. In Shut Up and Dance, a teenage boy's bad choices online send him on a blackmail fueled wild goose chase. In Swipe Right For Murder a 17-year-old in New York swipes right on the wrong person and finds himself labeled a cyber-terrorist and on the run from the government.


"Nosedive"

Rated by Melissa Grey
In Nosedive we enter a world where ratings on an app mean everything and watch a woman slowly lose everything as she tries to get more points. In this new book from Girl At Midnight author, the Rating system is everything to the students of the prestigious Maplethorpe Academy.


Bonus Picks!






When Zan moves away from her best friend she starts to suspect something isn't quite right with her best friend's suddenly sunny, vapid social media posts. This sort of sounds like a Marina Joyce situation.


Okay, so I'm not sure this is technically YA but Veronica Roth has a lot of YA appeal. This new release from Roth is a collection of novella-length stories set in the future.

Do you have a favorite episode of Black Mirror ? Let me know of some books you would rec to Black Mirror fans in the comments below !

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi



I feel like there should be a category on this blog called "Books I Wish Existed When I Was A Teen" because this book would be first on this list.

Black Enough is a wonderful anthology that tells the varied experiences and stories of Black teens; from the suburbs to the hood to the country and even the inner sanctum of heavy metal rehearsals. It's just a masterful blend of experiences. These are not struggles stories, they are funny, poignant and some of them are emotional but they never "gut" you. One of my favorites was Jay Coles' Wild Horses, Wild Hearts which I felt was like "response" to Brokeback Mountain.

I think the book is best read straight through. I'm not a big contemporary reader, so I was glad to see there were two magical realism stories. The titular story, Black Enough, I think really sets the tone for the anthology and the last story is meant to be more reflective. I got snippets of black authors I've been meaning to read and right now Jay Cole is moving up on my TBR list.

I'm all in for these YA anthologies!

Audiobook Review

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Spin Launch Party


A few weekends ago Kat and I had the opportunity to go the launch party for  Lamar Giles's new novel Spin. Giles writes mystery/thriller YA fiction featuring black teens. He is an Edgar Award Finalist, fellow Virginian and most will know him as one of the We Need Diverse Book co-founders. I hadn't even known about the event and I was excited to go because I'd just finished Black Enough and I had questions -- Although now I am seriously wondering how long it will take to get each author in the anthology to sign the book. I also picked up a copy of Fresh Ink because YA Anthologies are a thing I want more of and Giles edited the collection.


The event was hosted by Chop Suey books and held at Hai Y'all, a local Japanese style restaurant. There was a live DJ,  tasty appetizers and an open, positive and upbeat atmosphere. Giles was very personable we talked about fantasy novels and that time he met Stephen King.

Kat and I sat for a while and chatted with the co-founder of Black Men Read, a non-profit that gets young black men reading and talking about books. This group is very impressive and looks to be doing amazing things.

Spin is a mystery/thriller about a Kya, a teen sleuth who teams up with her sworn enemy to solve the mysterious death of the famous DJ,  ParSec, who she used to call her best friend. #ParSecNation




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