Book Events, Features, Wrap Ups & Hauls

Book Event: SOKY Book Festival (2017) + Book Haul + #GIVEAWAY


Today I am excited to be sharing my awesome experience at the SOKY Book Festival with you all!  Not only that, but I am also hosting TWO exciting giveaways!

I’ll give you a hint, if you are a fan of R.L. Stine, you won’t want to miss this…



The SOKY Book Fest took place on Saturday April 22, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.   I was lucky to have my bookish best friend, Nicole, by my side for this event.  We got to schmooze with authors like Mindy McGinnis, C.J. Redwine, Catherine McKenzie, Kayla Rae Whitaker, Kristy Cambron, Brigid Kemmerer, R.L. Stine, and many more at this event.

My bookish bestie, Nicole, and I in our awesome bookish shirts.  We got lots of compliments on them.

Panel: YA Matters of the Heart

This panel was made up of YA contemporary authors Brigid Kemmerer (author of Letters to the Lost), Joanne O’Sullivan (author of Between Two Skies), Ashley Herring Blake (author of How to Make a Wish), Courtney Stevens (author of Dress Codes for Small Towns – out August 2017), and Katie McGarry (author of the Thunder Road series & the Pushing the Limits series – was there promoting Thunder Road #3, Long Way Home)

From left to right: the moderator, Brigid Kemmerer, Joanne O’Sullivan, Ashley Herring Blake, Katie McGarry, & Courtney Stevens

Now, I am not a huge YA contemporary reader, but we thought this would be a fun panel to attend, and we were right!

• Brigid Kemmerer •

» Letters to the Lost is her 7th novel & first attempt at YA contemporary

» She would describe Letters to the Lost as a darker & grittier version of the movie You’ve Got Mail set in high school.

» She really enjoyed writing the male friendship in Letters to the Lost between Declan and Rev.  Her editor wanted to edit an important scene with Declan and his best friend Rev, but she put her foot down.

» Brigid says after she receives feedback from her editor, there is usually a 9 day mourning period.  After she submitted Letters to the Lost to her editor, her editor sent back 9 pages of notes for revisions.  She had to completely rewrite Rev’s story.

• Joanne O’Sullivan •

» Between Two Skies is her debut novel.

» This festival was the first time holding her book in hardback.

» She really enjoyed writing about the relationship between sisters who are close in age and the differences in social hierarchy at school.

» Agents & Editors can open up new possibilities with their insight that you may have failed to notice.

» Recommends Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

• Ashley Herring Blake •

» How to Make a Wish is a “Romeo & Julietish” story about a bisexual girl falling in love for the first time.

» In How to Make a Wish, she has a girl + boy best friend relationship.  There is no sexual tension.  They do NOT fall in love.  They are JUST friends.

» Sometimes during the editing process you have to push back if the story is going in a direction you were not trying to take it.  It still has to be the story you wanted to tell.

» Recommends fellow YA authors Courtney Stevens & Nina Lacour

• Courtney Stevens •

» Dress Codes for Small Towns is like a “sexual fluid version of Footloose

» “The greatest love stories are the ones with your girlfriends” – on female freinships

» Courtney loves her editor.  She believes in her and pushes her to be a better writer.

» Recommends Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

» “People read to be satisfied.”

• Katie McGarry •

» Feels romance in YA is so important because it can show teens what healthy relationships are.  She writes romance that is NOT toxic or problematic.  She feels it is not the girl’s job to save the boy or change him.

» She & her husband have a real life love story that you would see in a book.  She met him in college after getting out of a bad relationship and she wasn’t ready to get into a new one.  He brought her hot cocoa for 6 months & waited for her until she was ready.

» Her editor lives in NYC and doesn’t always understand things that happen in the “South.”  Her editor said Kentucky sounds “exotic.”  ((Said no one ever))

» She is a Stephen King fan.

After our panel we decided to get into line to meet R.L. Stine.  He was only going to be signing books from 11am – 1pm, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss him.  It was about 10:55am at this point.  Let’s just say we underestimated the amount of time we were going to spend in the line for R.L. Stine.

This was only PART of the line for R.L. Stine.  The line snaked up and down in this room then went around the corner towards the front of the room.

We got into line at about 10:55, and didn’t make it to the front until 12:20ish.  Thank goodness we got in line when we did or we may not have gotten to see him.  Good call by my partner in crime Nicole on that one.

Something I did not know about R.L. Stine was that he actually grew up in Columbus Ohio until he was 22 years old.  We joked about how he got out of Ohio the first chance he got, to which I don’t blame him 🙂

R.L Stine

It was so crazy to meet someone who was such a big part of my childhood.  Being a 90s kid, I grew up reading Goosebumps.

After meeting R.L. Stine, we decided to hit one more panel…

Panel: Art & Music Are Characters Too

Not going to lie, the main reason we went into this panel was to hear Kayla Rae Whitaker, author of The Animators, speak.  The Animators surprised me by being one of my top reads of 2017 thus far, so I couldn’t wait to hear the author on a panel.  There were 6 authors on this panel, but in the hopes of keeping this post short, I’m only going to talk about Kayla.


• Kayla Rae Whitaker •

» Feels that to be a writer, patience is key.  You have to let the story become the best version of itself.

» She is not an outliner.  She loves to write because she loves that feeling when the characters “take you by the throat” and surprise


» She is currently working on a story about a 19 year old boy & his family living in a town under quarantine because of a rabies outbreak.  She says the research into rabies keeps her up at night.


Book Haul

 *All books signed by the author*


» The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

*One of my top reads of 2017 thus far 🙂

» The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine


» Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

» Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban


» The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

» The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron


» Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine

» Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine

» One Day at Horrorland by R.L. Stine



Now, the reason you all are really here.  The giveaways!  These giveaways will run until Friday 5/19 @ 11:59EST.

Giveaway #1: I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of R.L. Stine’s Welcome to Dead House!

That’s right.  A SIGNED copy!


welcome to dead houseAmanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too. — But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. — So Amanda and Josh do. But these creepy new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.
Because they want to be friends…


I haven’t read this book since I was a kid, but you know what STILL freaks me out about it?  My name is Amanda… and I have a brother named Josh.  #Creepy

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, BUT if you live outside the U.S., keep scrolling for your giveaway 🙂

» Click here to enter this giveaway → SIGNED copy of R.L. Stine’s Welcome to Dead House (U.S. Only)

I didn’t want to leave my international friends, so for giveaway #2 I’m giving away a Goosebumps Retro Scream Collection + Collector’s Tin from The Book Depository.  This giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships.  I am asking that this giveaway be OUTSIDE THE U.S. ONLY.  Hey, it’s only fair since the other giveaway is U.S. only.

Goosebumps RetroTin

» Click here to enter this giveaway → Goosebumps Retro Scream Collection + Collector’s Tin (open to those outside the U.S. and where TBD ships)

Divider2Do you attend book events?  If so, do you have any coming up?

Have you read any of the books that I hauled?  If so, what did you think?

27 thoughts on “Book Event: SOKY Book Festival (2017) + Book Haul + #GIVEAWAY”

  1. This sounds like another awesome book event, Amanda!! ❤ I loved what the authors had to say and, once again, I wish I was there too, haha! Thank you so muhc for taking the time to share this awesome experience with us and thank you even more for the lovely giveaways! This panda here is trying to cross her fingers hahahaha ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. R.L. Stein was an answer on Jeopardy! the other night 🙂

    I remember that first book with Amanda and Josh! It was so scary, but I love haunted house stories. I feel like I remember the amusement park one too….was it a choose your own adventure? Stein def. had a choose your own adventure that I loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, I got so distracted by R.L. Stein that I forgot to write about the rest of the post. I liked that the one YA author described how she only writes positive relationships in YA as a way to model to adolescents what a healthy relationship looks like. I never thought of it that way because I’m so used to the BIG DRAMATIC relationships from YA (either the ones I’ve seen in movies or read when I was younger).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVED when she said that. I almost screamed “Thank YOU!” when she said it. If you think about it, I want my daughter to read about healthy relationships (but still flawed) vs. the toxic and problematic ones we see these days…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am part sad because SIGNED GOOSEBUMPS but also happy because yay you remembered us internationals! I always see Give always only to realise they’re US only 😪 It looks like you had an amazing time luckily you had a bookish friend to get you in line it looks crazy! And you waited for ages! Love your bookish festival updates 😊


  5. YAY! I am totally living vicariously through these book festival posts. I wish we had more than one in Madison, WI. I really need to do more research and get a road trip on my calendar. They sound like so much fun!

    When I was in elementary school, in Columbus Ohio, we did a whole unit on R.L Stein. The parents were sooo upset since they thought it was inappropriate for 4th graders. I learned a ton about his writing and honestly lost a ton of sleep. I’m still a wuss to this day. 😉


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