Thursday, March 26, 2009

Welcome - APOOO

As you know, we live in a time when you can just about anything virtually. Email, chat rooms, wireless technology...all make it possible for you to connect with people with mere tap on a keyboard or keypad. In recognition of that, this month's book club feature introduces a "virtual" book club: APOOO Books. I interviewed the clubs' founder and president, Yasmin Coleman, and she shared how they get things done virtually.

Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction Today, Yasmin. Tell us about APOOO. APOOO (A Place of Our Own) is an online book club and author and reader community dedicated to advancing African American literature. Our mission is to expose readers of all ages to a good book in any genre; to support African American authors, books, literary events and book clubs; to provide marketing resources, tools and tips to authors; and, to promote literacy within the African American community.

With the encouragement of fellow review friends, APOOO Books was founded in 2000 by Yasmin Coleman as a book club for friends and fellow reviewers who wanted ‘A Place of Our Own’ to release, relate, relax and fellowship in a comfortable environment while discussing a good book. Because we enjoy discussing books openly and honestly with like-minded individuals, the book club is by invitation only and limited to 30 members.

Since inception, APOOO Books has grown from a book club to include a review team, bookstore and promotional/publicity arm. APOOO is an authority on book recommendations for all African American genres and is known for our ability to read, discuss, and critically dissect a book. Need the 411 regarding a good book? Look no further than APOOO. We can offer recommendations for a good book in any genre.

I have always loved the name of your book club. Tell me why you selected the name and what it means to you. APOOO stands for A Place of Our Own. Over 10 years ago, I had the vision to open a book store and I needed a name. I went to my sorority sisters and asked them to help me come up with one. I told them that I wanted something that would represent us—African Americans and that the book store I had in mind would be an old, Victorian styled home with various rooms (i.e. kids place, meeting room, reading room overlooking the river). Hence, APOOO/A Place of Our Own was born.

Are you exclusively online or are there local chapters? We are exclusively online…and this is a lot of work. Not sure I could handle overseeing local chapters. LOL.

How does your club have its “virtual” book club discussions?
The Book-of-the-Month (BOM) discussion begins the fourth Sunday of the month. The facilitator for that month starts the discussion with a question or list of questions and for a week or so members chime in with feedback/comments via the e-mails. Occasionally, we’ve discussed books via online chats as well as with authors via phone and online conversations.

How do you make your book selections, and how can an author get your club’s attention? Each member has a chance to nominate one book that they would like to read for a given month. Books nominated are entered into a poll. Book with the highest number of votes becomes the BOM. If an author is interested in having us consider their book as a BOM, we ask them to follow the link below to have their book reviewed by the review team. Books that we’re partial to reading as a group include literary fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, fantasy/sci-fi, mysteries and a few non-fiction books.

Tell me a Christian Fiction book your club enjoyed last year? What made it standout? One of my favorites that I read and reviewed at the end of last year, but it’s actually a 2009 release, is The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams. It stood out because it was well-written, creativity crafted, possessed strong character development, steady pacing, realistic without being preaching and the ending didn’t wrap everything up in a pretty, little neat package. And, it make me think about what I would include on my own ‘Someday List.’

APOOO does book reviews, a valuable resource for authors and the African-American reading community. Tell us about your review service. We have a team of 15 reviewers and review all genres including poetry, non-fiction, street-lit, erotica, Christian fiction as well as all the other genres. And our services are still FREE. If an author is interested having their book reviewed by APOOO, they can click on the link below for more details.

We ask author’s to note the disclaimer below:
Please note that at APOOO, we do not believe that reviewers can serve two masters–authors and readers. We honestly have to choose and decide who we want to direct our reviews to as well as whom we want to influence with our reviews. While we respect authors, and it is not our intent to flame any author, APOOO’s first priority is to readers. With that in mind, we aim to continue to write reviews that will help readers decide which book is best for them. We look forward to providing reviews for authors who are looking for open and honest feedback.

Yasmin, you obviously have a passion for reading, please share anything else you’d like us to know about APOOO and its commitment to African-American literacy. Rhonda, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to discuss APOOO. Our motto is ‘promoting our voices, showcasing our stories’ and APOOO is always willing to give authors a platform…many times at no charge other than a couple of books for giveaways. I invite readers and authors to visit us at to get to know us better, to keep abreast of what’s going on in the African Literature Diaspora and to find out APOOO can better serve you.


Yasmin said...

Good morning Rhonda and thanks so much for the APOOO feauture!

Linda Chavis said...

Excellent interview !

Uranie said...

Congrats Yas. Great interview

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Great interview, ladies! Thanks for sharing.


Dera Williams said...

What a great review! Showcasing APOOO, well all right! Go Yas.

Beverly said...

Great interview!
I have found some many wonderful books to read from the APOOO community.

Ladysilver said...

Great interview.

LaShaunda said...

Good interview.

'Cilla said...

Great Interview and Showcase of APOOO!! As also, Kudos to Yasmin for all the hard work and dedication to both authors and readers. :-)

Yasmin said...

Thanks ladies for the well wishes and positive inspirations.

Terri W said...

Great interview Yas, APOOO always feels so welcoming... Glad you are here!

JC Martin said...

Great interview ladies.

Rhonda McKnight said...


It was my pleasure to have APOOO on UCFT, and it was great learning how the club started. I can tell by the support you received from club members that you are a tight knit group of ladies who are proud of what you've built in APOOO.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your work with us.

Many Blessings,


Angelia... said...

Wonderful Interview...


Missy said...

Hey {{{Yas}}}

Good to see your feature here I too have always loved the name of the book club and felt a resonance with it.

Yas thanks for doing what you do for us readers online and off. Your geniune grace and patience shines thru all these HTML tags and the phone lines....

Rhonda u keep on keeping on because w/out people like you & Yas the literary world would be a little less enjoyable!

BTW - The Someday list is on my TRL currently reading The Ultimate No No by Tamika Newhouse!

Patricia W. said...

Wonderful interview, ladies.