Thursday, May 31, 2012

Level 2 Cover Reveal Week Day 3

Hi again! Thanks for hanging out with me this week as I prepare to reveal LEVEL 2's cover tomorrow in spectacular fashion via a very cool behind the scenes video of the cover shoot.  On Tuesday I posted the teaser cover and flap copy, yesterday I posted a giveaway (which you can still enter) for early reader copies of LEVEL 2 as well as the first page, and today I have an interview with Lizzy Bromley, the amazing designer of LEVEL 2's cover.

By the end of this interview, you will have a pretty good idea of what the cover looks like, but that's still not going to prepare you for the awesomeness I have in store for you tomorrow.

Shall we begin?

So Lizzy, thanks for joining us today! My first question is, how do you usually approach designing a cover?

Hi Lenore! So cool to be telling you about the cover for LEVEL 2! It was one of the neatest projects I have had the chance to work on, and it was a blast to create.

Ok, so my approach to cover design always begins with reading the manuscript and just being open to where it takes my imagination. Sometimes I base the cover on the overall feeling and atmosphere of the book. Sometimes it is specific to a certain scene or place. And sometimes, even one sentence can trigger an idea. As I'm reading I'm always looking for the hidden jewel that can become the cover. For LEVEL 2, I was immediately inspired by the sterile white hives and the memory chambers. I knew they would make for a really unique and powerful cover.

See all those dots? They represent the hives of the afterlife world of LEVEL 2. Cool eh?

While writing, the hives and the chambers are definitely something I saw as being very interesting to render visually, so I'm so thrilled you found them inspiring. Did developing the cover for LEVEL 2 present any unique challenges?

I worked with fantastic photographer, Ali Smith, and the main challenge we faced was figuring out how to show the memory chamber. Ali is super inventive and when I described the concept to her she immediately knew that our best bet was to actually build the chamber ourselves. We trekked all around lower Manhattan hitting plastic stores and hardware shops for materials. The day of the shoot it took us a few hours to get it built. We used sheets of clear and shiny white plastic, wedged between apple boxes and clamped together to form a tube big enough to contain the model, Elizabeth White. Ali was going to photograph through the clear plastic and so we had to wear white gloves as we were handling it so that there wouldn't be any fingerprints on the clear plastic. And poor Elizabeth had to shimmy into the chamber on her back to avoid messing up her awesome hairdo (compliments of amazing makeup artist, Bre Welch). It was definitely a very tricky shoot! At first I was worried that our chamber would be too confining for Elizabeth, but once we the camera started rolling she completely came to life with action and energy. It was such a relief, seeing it all come together.

Wow - I wish I could have been there for that! But all your hard work was worth it. In my opinion, the final cover completely captures the thriller mood of the book. Did you consider other concepts as well?

There are projects where I cycle through several ideas until the right one clicks, but for LEVEL 2 the initial concept and the final product are actually very close. I had a really strong gut feeling about what I wanted this cover to be and thanks to my amazing team, we got it right from the get go.

The cover for LEVEL 2 avoids the current trends we see in YA covers (like headless models, passive girls and fancy dresses). Are trends something you look at when approaching design?

I definitely like to know what's going on out there in the world of covers, but when I am designing I usually forget about all that. It's more important to me to create an image that is in harmony with the story's voice, and unique to it specifically. I also want to keep challenging myself as a designer, and so with every new project I think of ways to push the envelope. Chances are, if a cover has been fun for me to work on, it has a better chance of being fun to look at!

Thank you Lizzy! I think the LEVEL 2 cover is very fun to look at -- and I hope everyone out there agrees when they finally see it tomorrow! 


Lizzy Bromley is also the designer of the covers for WITHER and FEVER by Lauren DeStefano (among many others). She talked about her process working on those covers here and here

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Level 2 Cover Reveal Week: Day 2 - 1st Ever Giveaway!

So yesterday on Day 1 of Level 2 Cover Reveal Week I shared the teaser cover image as well as the flap copy.

Today, on the day before my birthday, I'm thrilled to be able to offer up my very first ARC giveaway of LEVEL 2! (This is also quite ironic considering how the day before LEVEL 2's main character's (Felicia) birthday figures in to the plot).  I haven't even seen my ARCs yet, but Simon & Schuster will ship a copy to three lucky winners.  For your chance to read LEVEL 2 super early, fill out my giveaway form by June 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm CST.

Also, if you are a book reviewer in the US or Canada who is interested in covering LEVEL 2, you can fill out the LEVEL 2 review request form. (Form for UK, Australia/NZ and international coming soon!)

Want a sneak peek?! Well, I caught my cat Emmy sleeping on my typeset pages, so here's a picture - if you're eagle-eyed and make use of zoom, you can read the first page of LEVEL 2.

Come back tomorrow when I have an exclusive interview with the cover designer of LEVEL TWO, Lizzy Bromley.

And of course Friday is when the real magic happens: the unveiling of the LEVEL TWO cover via behind the scenes of the cover shoot video footage.  Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Level 2 Cover Reveal Week: Day 1

The wait is finally (almost) over! Since LEVEL 2 will be making its first public appearance next week at Book Expo America, it's time to unveil its stunning cover  ... on Friday, June 1st at noon EST.

I know I promised you I'd reveal it today, but it turns out Simon & Schuster has produced a video that not only takes an exclusive behind the scenes look at the cover shoot, but also reveals the cover at the end.  How's that for cool?

But I do get to reveal a sneak peek of the cover today as well as the official flap copy so you can finally get a better idea of what it's about.  What you're seeing here are elements from the back cover as well as the type. What do you think?

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
LEVEL 2 is the first book in The Memory Chronicles and will be released by Simon & Schuster BFYR on January 15, 2013. 

Come back tomorrow for the first ever giveaway of (3) ARCs of LEVEL 2!

Then come back Thursday for an interview with cover designer Lizzy Bromley (she of WITHER and FEVER by Lauren DeStefano cover fame).

And of course Friday is the big reveal!  Can't wait until you can finally see it in all its kick-ass glory.

In the meantime, why not add LEVEL 2 to your Goodreads if you haven't already?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman

Apocalypsies Love is all about me telling you what I loved about a 2012 debut book written by one of the amazing Apocalypsies. I also chat with the author to gain insight into their very favorite parts of their creation.

Today I'm featuring BOY + BOT, an adorable picture book written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. And yes - there are several picture book author Apocalypsies too, didn't you know?

So, Boy meets Bot one day and they have fun together until Bot's power switch gets turned off and Boy thinks Bot is sick. He takes him home and falls asleep and then Bot's power switch get turned on and it's Bot's turn to worry about Boy. Eventually they get things sorted out and learn important differences about each other.  

The story is clever, original, and fun.  And the language Dyckman uses is deceptively simple but conveys so much of the characters through voice. I loved it!  The illustrations are also very amusing. My favorite may be Bot reading to Boy from an instruction manual - and funnily enough, it's also the author's favorite scene in the book - as you will learn from my interview with her below. 

Welcome Ame!

So I've already given this away in my review, but what is your favorite scene in the book?

I love when it’s Bot’s turn to take care of Boy, and Bot cradles Boy in one arm while he reads Boy an instruction manual. Dan’s illustration is perfect—funny, but also a very sweet moment.

What is your favorite line in the book?

I adore our catch phrase (“Affirmative!”), but my favorite line is when Bot sees the sleeping Boy and asks, “Did-you-malfunction?” (I know it’s goofy of me, but I have to suppress giggling every time I read it!)

What setting was most fun to write?

The Inventor’s Castle! I’d love to have an Inventor’s Castle at the top of the hill in my neighborhood.

Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?

Watt! He’s the little light bulb robot who helps the Inventor. (He was Dan’s idea during the illustration phase, so he doesn’t have a name in the book, but I call him Watt.) During readings, I show kids the picture of Watt on the dedication page, and then we play “Spot Watt” as we read the book. Kids love Watt! (He’s mighty charismatic for someone with one eye and no other facial features!) It would be great to see Watt in another BOY + BOT adventure, or even in his own adventure someday.

What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?

At a recent school visit, a Kindergarten class presented me with a packet of their BOY + BOT drawings. That was the greatest! Well, until I got something in my eye. (No, I wasn’t crying! I… I just got something in my eye!) ;)

Thanks Ame! BOY + BOT is available now.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: I bought my copy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (69)

Today, Lu pulled my skirt off our clothes drying rack to use as a bed (as if the five cashmere sweaters he's stolen from Daniel aren't enough).  Thanks Lu.

Also - there will be no Cat Tuesday next week - but it's for a very good reason.  I finally get to reveal my cover for LEVEL 2!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giveaway: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

BITTERBLUE is the long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers GRACELING and FIRE.  I've read FIRE (check out my review) and loved it, but I still haven't read GRACELING, even though it's on my shelf.  So, after reading a bunch of other BITTERBLUE reviews, I realized that I need to read GRACELING to appreciate the story to its fullest.  And seeing that I'm in the darkest corners of my writing cave (major deadlines soon, people!) I don't think that's going to happen soon.  

This is all to say that I'm offering a giveaway of a book I haven't read.  But, I have it on good authority that it's worth it and there's also a very, very cool tote bag (that I totally covet) -- so enter here!  US addresses only and I'll pick a winner on May 30th, 2012.

What's BITTERBLUE about?

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
Check out the trailer:
Graceling Realm website:
Kristin’s website:
Graceling Realm Facebook fan page:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Back in Dystopian August 2011, one of the upcoming novels I previewed was STORMDANCER by fellow Apocalypies member Jay Kristoff (read preview interview).  I was excited by the premise then (dystopian/steampunk Japan!) and got even more interested when Jay shared the most amazing sentences from the book with us during our Apocalypsies Thursday chats. So yeah - now we get to see the cover!

Isn't it gorgeous? I want this on my shelf now.

Or perhaps you need to see a summary to be convinced? Here you go:

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.
The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.
STORMDANCER will be released September 18 in the US through Thomas Dunne books/St Martin’s Press.

Or perhaps to REALLY be convinced you want a giveaway? Well, I've got that too.  Just fill out this form by May 25th, 2012 at 11:59 pm CST to be entered to win an ARC of STORMDANCER. Open internationally!

Jay is also running a STORMDANCER Uber Giveaway on his own blog. For a chance to win another ARC and some other Stormdancer-y goodness (like so good even I plan to enter), click here for details. My question for the Uber Giveaway is: What color is the sky in Shima?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (68)

More cat hijinks ... Kaia and Lu take over our dirty clothes hamper.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review and Author Interview: Revived by Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick has some crazy cool concepts as starting points for her books.  There was FORGOTTEN (my review) about a girl who can only remember the future and not the past and the upcoming ORIGINALS about three clones who share the life of one girl.  REVIVED is about Daisy, a girl who has died 5 times and been brought back to live by a drug called Revive.

At the start of the novel, Daisy is killed (her 5th time) by bees and she has to move from Michigan to Omaha, Nebraska with her agent "parents" to start over.  Though she shunned contact back in Michigan, she decides to live more in Omaha and becomes friends with a girl named Audrey and her hot brother Matt. Meanwhile, Daisy discovers that the Revive program might be more sinister than she thought.

Daisy and her relationships with Audrey and Matt take up a lot more page time than the intrigue surrounding the program.  Though they seemed to form deep bonds more quickly than is probably realistic, I enjoyed their camaraderie and conversations and found the plot developments genuinely moving. REVIVED is a quick, satisfying read.

I'm thrilled to have Cat on the blog today for a short interview.  Let's dive in!

REVIVED features a drug called Revive that brings its taker back to life. Despite the fact that it doesn't really work that way, if you could give Revive to anyone in history, to whom would you give it to and why?

I'll admit that Stephen King's 11/22/63 is fresh in my mind, but I'd love to bring back President Kennedy and see how the world would be different with him still in it.

Being able to cheat death, Daisy at first doesn’t seem to grasp the real value of life. Was this thematic undertone a deliberate choice or did it naturally develop while you wrote?

It was a deliberate choice. I always knew Daisy would discover the value of live through loss. The loss itself developed over the course of writing and editng the book but the intent remained the same.

Since you created a secret government agency with sinister motives, I have to ask – are you a conspiracy theorist? What are our governments hiding from us?

I wouldn't call myself a conspiracy theorist but like anyone, I do wonder what secrets our govermnet keeps from us. My first thought: Aliens!

The kids in the Revive project face off against the animals of Pet Sematary – who wins?

Yikes! Unfortunately, I think the animals of Pet Semetary would win because eventually, the drug Revive would run out. I think those animals are impossible to kill.

When I got my first check from my book advance, I splurged on a Kate Spade handbag. What did you buy?

Some funky Fluevog shoes. I love them!

Thanks Cat! REVIVED just came out in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book as part of a publisher sponsored blog tour.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

Apocalypsies Love is all about me telling you what I loved about a 2012 debut book written by one of the amazing Apocalypsies. I also chat with the author to gain insight into their very favorite parts of their creation.

Today I'm featuring THE VICIOUS DEEP, a thrilling YA featuring a teen who finds out he has merfolk lineage.

Here are some things I love about this debut:

A hot merman? Hello! What's not to like? Tristan can come off as arrogant, but he's also charming as he tries to come to terms with his new identity.

All the merfolk mythology. It's obvious the author is fascinated by the subject and did her research.

I like that the book doesn't take itself too seriously. There are amusing details such as the sea king chewing gum ("The flavor is all gone." - ha!) and Tristan wondering where certain parts of the male anatomy go when mermen are tailed.

The author is from Ecuador (where I was an exchange student for one year) and I enjoyed how she integrated tidbits from Ecuadorian culture. It jazzed up the characterization considerably.

Now let's chat with Zoraida!

What is your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite scene is Chapter 10. This is Tristan's big reveal, and though it seems so many things are coming at him all at once, I think there's still a level of surreal humor that keeps him grounded.

What is your favorite line in the book?
"And when I open my eyes, it's still there-- My great blue fishtail."

What setting was most fun to write?
I absolutely LOVED writing the mermaid island of Toliss. It's where the Sea Court travels from coast to coast. You can see their hierarchy

Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?
I love Marty McKay. He's such a complex character underneath his humor. He's got a big heart and big personality. In the world he lives in, he's got just as much self-discovery waiting as all the lost souls that go bump in the night.

What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
Meeting other writers! We're such a strange bunch with our writing quirks. It's like knowing you're not alone in the world.

Thank you Z!

THE VICIOUS DEEP is available now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: I got my copy via Netgalley. Also Z and I once shared a cab across NYC. The cab driver got a ticket. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (67)

Kitties are super happy we're back home.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review and Blog Tour: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Sunday is the youngest child in a family named for the days of the week.  She's fond of writing, but she sticks to writing about family history because the things she writes come true.  Her adventure starts when she meets a lonely frog in the woods - a frog who turns out to be the prince of the realm, from a family at odds with her own. Will Sunday and the frog prince find love? Will she find a comfortable place within the family hierarchy? Will she come to terms with her own power?

ENCHANTED is a pure delight for any fan of fairy tales.  Kontis weaves in so many references and allusions to tales well-known and obscure, but these flights of fancy never overwhelm the main storyline.  Sunday's relationship with the prince progressed naturally and I loved her interactions with her family.

Most of the fairy tale retellings I've read have been considerably darker so I appreciated the light, airy atmosphere which swirled with fun and whimsy.

ENCHANTED is available now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

I'm excited to be able to share an exclusive deleted scene from ENCHANTED read by the author herself. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (66)

I adore this photo of Kaia making herself very at home on our new sofa cover ...