Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (72)

When we were changing the cover of our sofa, Kaia decided to crawl under it, and Lu tried everything he could to get her out, including sitting on top of her.

When that didn't work, he simply guarded the entrance.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Level 2 Winners + Another Level 2 Giveaway!

I'm usually pretty bad about announcing giveaway winners here on the blog (I contact them via e-mail and pass their addresses on to the publishers), but today I'm super excited to announce the winners of the three ARCs from LEVEL 2 cover reveal week!

The first winner is Lexie from the super cute blog Still Waiting for Books to Come True. Lexie got her copy of LEVEL 2 already, and in this vlog, she talks about how excited she is to win it and that she's taking it with her on her trip to Hawaii.  YAY! Congrats to Lexie and also to LEVEL 2, because I'll tell you right now, my book loves to travel!

The second winner is Brooke from Brooke Reports. On her blog she claims she spends all day dreaming about fictional boys, and when I told her she'd won LEVEL 2, she requested that Julian hand deliver.  According to her twitter feed, she got LEVEL 2 yesterday, but no word on if Julian made an appearance ...

And finally, the third winner is Zibilee at Raging Bibliomania.  I was super happy for her when chose her because she's my number one commenter on Presenting Lenore.  She's taking a little blogging break right now and I miss her!

For all of you who didn't win, it's killing me that I can't send everyone a copy.  BUT thanks to my fellow Apocalypsie Kimberly Sabatini, whose book TOUCHING THE SURFACE is also set in the afterlife and is also forthcoming from Simon & Schuster, you do have another chance to get your hands on LEVEL 2 early!

Kimberly had a ton of awesome things to say about LEVEL 2 in her blog review and she's passing on her own ARC to someone who comments about their vision of the afterlife on her blog.  Lots of very interesting responses so far!  Go now and enter to win!  Kimberly sends international and the contest will be open the rest of the weekend.  Good luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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 DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE, a contemporary YA about a teenage boy having to deal with self-esteem issues and his mother's mental illness.

"[...] sometimes what's real isn't pretty and what's pretty isn't always real."  This line is one of the last lines in the novel, but I wanted to kick-off with it because it encapsulates what this novel is to me. Charlie's a budding photographer, and at the outset, he judges people and situations mainly on appearances. He thinks that just because he lost thirty pounds at summer camp, people are going to view him differently and he'll have a good year, maybe even catch the attention of pretty new girl Charlotte. His character arc is about learning that in photography and in life, you need to dig deeper than the surface.

So yes, basically this novel gets real - and it isn't always pretty. I cringed at many of Charlie's thoughts -  how he judged others as losers to make himself feel superior.  And some of the things he does in the name of trying to fit in - such as an incident with a pot brownie - are inexcusable, but completely believable.  The incredibly honest portrayal of teen life - zits and all - is arguably the book's strongest selling point. 

And now it's time to chat with the book's author. Welcome Jenny! 

What is your favorite scene in the book?
There’s this snow scene between Charlie and Charlotte, where Charlie asks Charlotte what they really are (friends, more than friends, etc.). Charlie puts himself out there even though he knows he’s about to be crushed. Charlotte puts herself out there even though she knows Charlie won’t understand her. Both of them are trying, both of them are vulnerable, both of them are painstakingly incapable of expressing what they truly want to say, and you have this sense that there’s a missed opportunity here. It’s so true, I think, to human interaction. To the way we think we’re communicating with someone, but we’re really not. It’s sad, but beautiful at the same time. Those kinds of scenes are my favorite to write.

I love scenes like that too. What is your favorite line in the book?
“I don’t know how you can see something before it’s actually there, but you can.”

This is the first line of the book and really such a good summary of a lot of what’s going on. There’s a lot of lying in this book, a lot of deceit, a lot of things appearing to be something they’re not, and a lot of things just not being right. I find that usually when this is the case in real life, we kind of already know it. Even if we don't have proof of lies, even if things appear okay, we all have that instinct, something inside of us that alerts us to a certain “something” before it comes to light. Sometimes…most times, we ignore it. But we know it’s there.

What setting was most fun to write?
I really didn’t want to use the same answer, but truthfully, the snow scene. Because it so perfectly sets the mood for the scene between Charlie and Charlotte. Nights like this, of first snow falls, are beautiful, and I love this image of Charlie laying there as snow falls on him, heartbroken, crushed, in this beautiful, most perfect setting with this most imperfect girl whom he can’t help but be falling in love with.

Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?
Hands down, Ahmed because he’s quirky and funny and has a general who gives a damn attitude. I had a lot of fun writing scenes with him in them. He’s the polar opposite of Charlie and his family and really balances things out and brings a lot of humor to what are otherwise not so fun or funny situations. I also like the way Ahmed was so impulsive from the beginning that many times I had no idea what he was going to say or how he was going to act until the very moment I was typing the words onto the screen.

Ahmed is definitely memorable! What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
I think it was what I call my “Jo March” moment. I wrote all about it in this blog post
but basically it was the moment I received my first pass pages in a big envelope in the mail. I’d always had this fantasy of receiving my manuscript in the mail and opening it and seeing my story, there, in print. And then it happened, just as I imagined, and it was a very cool, very special moment for me.

Thanks Jenny! 


THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE is available in paperback now. Find out more about it and read the first chapter at the author's website

FTC disclosure: I was sent a copy of this novel for review by the author's agent.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (71)

Lu has a thing for plastic bags ...

He really does.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

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 SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL, a stellar contemporary YA about a teenage Marine adjusting to life back at home after being at war in Afghanistan.

What struck me first about SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL was Travis' voice.  It oozes authenticity and makes you sympathize with Travis despite his obvious shortcomings.  I mean, it's definitely gross what he's got going on with his ex-girlfriend and despite probably not deserving the fabulous Harper, you root for their romance to develop.  

The story itself is compelling in that raw way that utterly rips out your heart. Travis' experiences in the war have damaged him, and his arc here is one of healing. I especially liked how Travis finds his way back to "something like normal" not only via a romantic relationship, but also via his relationship with his mother.

Yes, this novel has it's share of ache, but it also has its funny, lighthearted moments.  One of my favorite scenes takes place in a diner and involves Travis, his friends, Harper, a kiss and a $10 bet. 

Trish also did a ton of research for this book (read this guest post Trish wrote for Presenting Lenore 2 years ago to get an inkling of how much) and it shows. 

Now that you know what I love about SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL, let's turn to Trish for her favorites!


What is your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite scene is one in which Travis is recalling his best friend, Charlie's enlistment tale. Charlie saw a commercial on television that snagged his attention and his mom did everything she could to talk him out of it--including proposing some unusual alternatives. I don't want to give any spoilers, but it's a funny scene that never fails to make me laugh.

What is your favorite line in the book?
My favorite line is from the scene I mentioned above. Charlie says, "My mom--the only parent on the planet to try and talk her kid into doing drugs to keep him out of the Marines."

What setting was most fun to write?
Afghanistan was definitely the most interesting setting in the book. I learned so much about what it was like to be deployed there by Marines who'd actually been, and I feel it added authenticity to Travis's story.

Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?
Charlie, despite being dead through the entire novel, is my favorite supporting character and it might be interesting to look at his life before he enlisted in the Marines. But, I think Travis's brother, Ryan would be a more compelling story. In Something Like Normal, he's a spoiled kid who thinks he's been living in his brother's shadow. It could be fun to see him get over himself.

What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
The best part of my journey has been the book bloggers. And I'm not just saying that. I reached a very low point when my first book was cancelled by the publisher and they stuck with me, as cheerleaders as I wrote Something Like Normal and, really, just as friends. Their support meant the world to me then and their unflagging enthusiasm for the book never fails to make me smile.

Yep, book bloggers rule! Thanks Trish!


SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL comes out tomorrow! Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: I read a copy provided by the publishers via NetGalley.

Friday, June 15, 2012

BEA 2012 Recap

Because I feel like I packed a month's worth of activities into one week, this BEA recap is going to be super long. Just warning you!

The week gets off to a great start with an upgrade on my Frankfurt- NYC flight. I love Delta Airlines!

Once I check into my first hotel, Posh and Meghan (of Forever Young Adult) and I head out to Brooklyn to have cocktails at the Clover Club with Leila Sales, Siobhan Vivian and Natalie Standiford. YUM! (photo by Sarah Pitre)

Brunch with Posh, Megan, Leila, and Faye (Little, Brown) and Emily (Scholastic) at Penelope.

Cocktail panel with the FYA girls and cool bloggers such as Tara, Jamie, Michelle, Anna, April and Allison.

S&S blogger preview featuring fab authors including ... me!  They had LEVEL 2's cover framed behind the bar!

Here I am being interviewed by Jenny Han. (Photo via Sgundell) Sheila of Book Journey also has a snippet of video up.

I got to hold my ARC of LEVEL 2 for the very first time.  It was Mitali's copy (that she finished reading in the bathroom at the event) and I signed it for her. Exciting! (Photo credit: Sarah Pitre)

Met up with my Agave group: Nicole, Kathy, Candace, Dawn, Lydia, Julie, Jenn, Trish, and Miriam.


Tour of Simon & Schuster. Got to meet my publicist Anna, chat with the sales team (who is overwhelmingly Team Julian), see alternate cover poses with cover designer Lizzy Bromley, and go out to lunch with my editor.  Editorial assistant Amy also gave me awesome postcards to hand out and a couple of LEVEL 2 ARCs. YAY!

FYA cocktail panel with Bennett Madison, Siobhan Vivian, and Chelsy & Brittany (of Big Honcho) at Sweet & Vicious.

HarperTeen Blogger Preview where cover designers Alison (who I know from HS in Ohio) and Tom gave an amazing presentation on cover design and we got really excited about fall titles such as Emily Hainsworth's THROUGH TO YOU (which we didn't get ... but I did get INSIGNIA by SJ Kincaid). Finally met Adam S.!

Briefly caught the tail-end of HarperCollins's Blogger Party and got to say hi to a ton of blogger pals.

Dinner with Mike Mullin and his wife.


Breakfast with Apocalypsies Hilary Graham, AC Gaughen, and Sarah Tregay, followed by a quick BEA floor visit with Hilary.  She might have compared me to Bono after I reconnected with many a blogger pal.

The YA Editor's Buzz Panel made me even more excited for WHAT'S LEFT OF ME (which Katiebabs gifted me), SKINNY (which I picked up at Scholastic's booth) and CREWEL (which I didn't get).

Walked the floor with Katiebabs.  We stopped by the Simon & Schuster booth where Justin Chanda was wearing a button that said "Ask me about LEVEL 2". If you asked him about it, you got one of the precious few ARCs. I might have sent an ambush of people towards him ...

Met up with Trish and Lauren Morrill for lunch.

I stood in a couple of signing lines and got FEEDBACK by Robison Wells and THE SPINDLERS by Lauren Oliver.

Apocalypsies Meet & Greet! This was CRAZY AWESOME.  Despite a room switch snafu, we had a huge turnout and people loved the dance cards. (picture taken from Kim Sabatini's BEA recap)

Thank you to all my fellow Apocs, to Michelle & Shanyn of Literary Logistics and to everyone who came for making this a super successful event! KM Walton has a few pics of the event. Gretchen McNeil talks it up.  RT Book Reviews has some photos and links. And we even appeared in the Publishers Weekly BEA roundup!

Gretchen McNeil, Fiona Paul, Sarah Tregay and I then rushed off to Teen Author Carnival, stopping in at Chipotle for a quick dinner. Gretchen shared her make-up secrets!

I was on a panel at TAC called From A Whole Other World.  When asked if I had a hidden talent, I pulled out the USB drive I had stored in my bra after the Apocalypsies event for lack of pockets. The fab Donna of First Novels Club has a TAC recap as does Frankie Diane.  I also tried to steal Victoria Schwab's copy of THE ARCHIVED to no avail ...

Then it was off to Little Brown's party for Libba Bray's THE DIVINERS. Libba sang and it was awesome. April and I drank Amaretto Sours from teacups (prohibition, y'all!).

Finally, Sarah, Jenny and I hailed a cab and headed off to the Foundry party in Brooklyn where I finally met PJ Bracegirdle (author of one of my fave middle grade series JOY OF SPOOKING). By the time we got back to our hotel at far past 1 am, my feet were swollen.  What a day.


Packed up all my stuff so I could change hotels. From here on out I roomed with Michelle. We had an interesting taxi ride to the Javits ...

Met Diana Peterfreund and Mari Mancusi for breakfast.

Met my audio book editor from Listening Library and had overpriced tea.

Went to stand in line for Marie Lu's PRODIGY (which I could not stop calling PATRIOT). This line was super fun! I got to chat with Frankie & Donna, Christina, Grace, Sandy, Melissa, Jenny Z. and others.  A very excited librarian named Hillary was standing in line in front of me and when she saw LEVEL 2, she asked me if she could read it in line. You guys - by the time the signing started, she was half done, and so into it ... I let her keep it. (Now you know a secret way to get LEVEL 2).

Ran into Phoebe North and we walked around together a bit, hitting up Egmont for Ilsa Bick's ASHES for one.

Headed over to the Rachel Cohn BETA signing but met Susan of Wastepaper Prose on the way. She gave me a copy so instead of waiting in a long line, I got to sit down and chat with her and Stacey from Pageturners Blog.

Then I really did go to the Autographing area where I got a picture book for Daniel (BIG MEAN MIKE), PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry, TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone (which I've already read, but want to collect every edition possible, it is THAT awesome) and CROAK by Gina Damico.

At this point, I was ready to go.  Went back to the hotel and got to talk to Daniel on the phone for the first time all week!

Penguin Bird Bash. This was low-key and fun, with tons of opportunities to chat with blogger friends (Swapna aka S.K. Love!, Alix, Allison, etc), publicists/marketing gurus (Anna, Marisa, and Lydia) and authors (Marie Lu!). Trish and I got this fun picture taken:

Author/Blogger rooftop party. This was swanky, you guys.  If I hadn't have been so tired, I would've stayed longer. Amazing views, food, company, raffles (I won a Starbucks giftcard!) and even cupcakes with my book cover on them! Detailed recap by Liza.  Here's me with Stacey and Shannan from Girls in the Stacks:


MacMillan breakfast. Lovely to see Ksenia again! And Susan brought me a copy of Alexandra Bracken's THE DARKEST MINDS (<3).

Jenny (FYA) and I headed uptown to get Magnolia cupcakes and to Sephora to make me over before my author video filming at S&S.

Scheduled nap time.

Cocktails at the Algonquin with Candace, Kathy, Dawn, Jenn, Trish and Michelle followed by dinner with Chelsy, Brittany, Ana, Thea, Trish and Jenn at the super trendy Empellon where they make everything (even the cocktails) with Jalepenos. Chelsy then took us to a dive bar where she and Thea defeated me and Ana by one measly point in Scrabble. Though, really, is OM a word?


Met my foreign rights agent for a chat.

Took a taxi with Michelle and Anna over to the Paper Lantern Lit party in Brooklyn. Met Angie M. and had a ton of fun conversations with friends. Also - Charlie the cat was soooo sweet!


My first bookstore panel - Lauren Oliver and Friends - at Books of Wonder. A couple of copies of LEVEL 2 were raffled off and a few people who'd won copies at TAC came to have them signed. Also - Hillary the Librarian from the Marie Lu signing line came and gushed about LEVEL 2, so I was glad that I gave her my copy. Also fun to see Adam S. again!

Mitali might have made me pose like the girl on the cover.

Lunch with Mitali, Britta and Lauren Morrill before heading off to the airport to fly back to Germany.  Upgraded again as the perfect end to a wonderful week in NYC!

Kilometers walked (according to my step counter, which I didn't wear all the time): 60
Books brought back with me: 19
Bottles of BURN FOR BURN sunscreen I ended up with: 3
Text messages sent (at 50 euro cents a piece): 37
BEA recaps read: Approximately 30? Including BEA Superlatives, Word for Teens at BEA 2012, Nerd Out with your Book Out, Galleysmith at BEA 2012, Bites at BEA 2012 and many more. (If you have one I should read, please link me up!)

Whew! Sorry if I missed anyone in this recap. I have trouble remembering 5 minutes ago, let alone last week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

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 REUNITED, a road trip book revolving around 3 ex-best friends who get back together to go see a concert by their favorite band, Level3. 

I love road trips and I love reading about them, so I was super excited for REUNITED. Here's a list of what I found so compelling about this novel:

1. The squirrel scene will likely be the funniest thing I read all year. Hilar!

2. I love the serendipity of road trips and how anything can happen. Sure, this particular road trip has its share of mishaps, but they ALL result in excellent stories to tell the grandkids one day.

3. The way these three girls friendship revolved around a band and then imploded around the time the band broke up resonates, and its fitting that Alice believes the band's reunification means it's time to patch up the friendship.

4. Each of the girls feels very distinct and fleshed out. I could easily sympathize with all of them.

5. There were so many awesome sentences - I had my highlighter handy and used it often.

6. The ending surprises but is so very cool.

And now, we hand the mike over to Hilary:

What is your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite scene in the book is the kissing scene in the van. But I’m not giving away any spoilers, so I won’t tell which of the girls finds romance on the road.

That was indeed a scene I will be rereading. What is your favorite line in the book?

“Her mother reached out and put her hand around Tiernan’s clenched fist, gripping it so tightly, Tiernan could feel the throb of her own pulse, as if Judy were holding her actual beating heart.”

I highlighted that one. What setting was most fun to write?

I really loved writing the scene at the swimming hole. It’s night, the girls are stuck in the middle of the woods with a bunch of strangers, and Alice’s internal monologue alternates between sheer terror and total hilarity.

Totally hilarious and cinematic. I can tell you're a screenwriter! Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why?

Well, I can easily see the boys in Level3 getting a spin-off book, ( but the supporting character I most enjoyed writing was Quentin. Who could resist a boy that adorkable?

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

It’s been such a long road, I’m really loving the fact that release day is finally here! And thanks to the many photographs people have shared with me, I get the thrill of seeing REUNITED pop up in stores all over the country.

Thanks Hilary!

Check out Hilary's website and add REUNITED to your Goodreads.

FTC disclosure: I received a galley of REUNITED from my editor at S&S (who is also Hilary's editor). I also bought a copy because I must have it on my shelf. I've eaten meals with Hilary on several occasions and she once called me the Bono of the YA world. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (70) - Level 2 Edition

It's the obligatory cats + book picture! I recently got my LEVEL 2 ARCs and Emmy has jumped in to protect them ...

Isn't it sweet how Kaia is defending Daniel's Buffalo books too?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sarah Dessen Redesigned Cover Reveal: Lock & Key

All of Sarah Dessen's paperbacks have a clean, fun new design and today I get to show you the new cover for LOCK AND KEY!

To see her other new covers, check out the tour:

May 28: That Summer (Mundie Moms) -
May 29: Someone Like You (Penguin Teen Tumblr) -
May 30: Keeping the Moon (Frenetic Reader) -
May 31: Dreamland (Green Bean Teen Queen) -
June 1: This Lullaby (Steph Su) -

June 4: The Truth About Forever (Forever YA) -
June 5: Just Listen (Princess Bookie) -
June 6: Lock and Key (Presenting Lenore) -
June 7: Along for the Ride (The Story Siren) -

I also have 3 copies of the LOCK AND KEY paperback to give away - US only.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your favorite Sarah Dessen book. (Mine is JUST LISTEN, but then, it's the only one I've read so far).

Check out Sarah’s website and follow her on Twitter (@sarahdessen)
Check out Penguin Teen on Facebook and Twitter (@PenguinTeen)
Purchase LOCK AND KEY on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Where to find me at BEA

Book Expo America 2012 is upon us! I'll be on the show floor, at parties, meeting a bunch of people and at the following official author events:

Simon & Schuster Blogger Preview (Invite Only), NYC
Sunday June 3, 6:00-9:00pm

Book Expo America, Javits Center, NYC
Tuesday June 5, 3:00-5:00pm
Meet the Apocalypsies! 24 debut YA + MG authors!

Jefferson Market Library, NYC
Tuesday June 5, 6:30-9:30pm
Teen Author Carnival!
NOTE: Copies of LEVEL 2 will be given away at this event.

Books of Wonder, NYC
Saturday June 9, 12-2 pm
NOTE: Copies of LEVEL 2 will be raffled at this event.

Come say hi!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Level 2 Cover Reveal: This Is It!

Thank you so much for celebrating LEVEL 2 cover reveal week with me! In case you missed any content here are some links:

Level 2 Flap Copy
First Page of Level 2 + ARC Giveaway
Interview with cover designer Lizzy Bromley

And now for the main event! (Warning: if you are at work, you might want to lower your volume first)

So what did you think? AMAZING right?

And here's the cover in its full glory:

If you want to see the full jacket, that's over on STACKED.  Kelly also talks about what it was like to be a beta reader for LEVEL 2.

Also, Posh of Forever Young Adult asked me to do an interview! Find out all about the process of going from book blogger to published author + find out what I think about my ARCs being out in the world!

Oh here's a picture of those too (on my editor's desk now, in my hands on Sunday!):

ETA: A post from the photographer of LEVEL 2, Ali Smith.

Also, easy link to add LEVEL 2 to GoodReads.