Monday, July 30, 2012

So You Want to Read YA?

I have a guest post today over at the fabulous librarian blog Stacked. If you love to read innovative, highly creative novels, the YA genre is where it's at! And if you don't know where to start (beyond THE HUNGER GAMES), I've complied a list of recommendations for you based on what kind of adult novels you like to read.

Check it out!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Auracle by Gina Rosati

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 AURACLE, a paranormal/contemporary where the main character, Anna, can project herself astrally but gets stranded when a dead girl takes over her body.

I was super excited to read this because I remember reading a few novels featuring astral projection in Jr High and loving them.  The concept of AURACLE gives me shivers - because that is the big fear - that if you leave your body, someone else will snatch it right up and you won't be able to get it back. And Rosati delivers the creepy goods. We see the good parts of astral projection (Anna can go some amazing places - like inside volcanos), but then we quickly see the huge consequence. An accident victim takes over Anna's body and blames Anna's friend Seth for her murder. 

Anna only really has one person on her side: Rei, her best friend who could be something more. Rei knows about Anna's ability and he knows something's not right.  It was sweet seeing the two of them trying find ways to communicate with Anna body-less. And you definitely root for them as they try to get Anna's body back to prevent Seth from going to prison. 

You want to read this, trust me.

And now, let's chat with Gina!

What is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene in Auracle would have to be when Rei and Seth get back from their run (pages 23-26). That's the moment when Anna realizes that the skinny little kid she grew up next door to is no longer skinny, little or a kid ;)

What is your favorite line in the book?

There used to be more of a fantasy element to Auracle, and all the fairies, gnomes and talking trees were cluttering up the paranormal element of astral projection. When my editor suggested I cut the fantasy element out, I had this one line I loved so much, I agonized over how I could keep it. The line is, "And that's not a weeping willow," I inform. "It's a peeping willow."

Ha! Love it! What setting was most fun to write? 

I had to seriously restrain myself not to go overboard with setting description in Auracle. Because Anna can astrally project and has access to the entire universe, I spent weeks researching supernovas, planets, asteroids, and dozens of cool places here on Earth. In the end, much of the description and many of her astral trips were trimmed because it all slowed down the action. The setting that's the most fun to work with is Byers Falls - here in New Hampshire where I live, we have a few waterfalls that inspired the fictitious Byers Falls that you'll read about in Auracle. If you ever get a chance to go sit near a waterfall, do it ... they can evoke a whole range of emotion, from tranquil to romantic to terrifying. And stay away from the edge!

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

I love Callie!! We don't see any of Callie's backstory in Auracle, but she's grown up with four older brothers who have taught her to say what she means without apologizing for her opinions. Her family owns an upscale Mediterranean restaurant, and in addition to her brothers and her parents, she lives with two grandmothers who bring a lot of culture (and philosophy) to her life. If anyone can teach Seth to trust women, it's Callie.

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

It's all been good! I even loved the bloody, slashing parts of editing because it made the story that much stronger. My favorite part will be seeing the hardcover of Auracle available at my local libraries!

Thanks Gina!

PS - You can win my copy of AURACLE + swag + tons of other books (including my book LEVEL 2) and swag by entering this mega Apocalypsies Summer Starter Pack contest.


AURACLE will be released in hardcover on August 7. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: The author sent me an ARC for review. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (75) - The Top Ten of All Time

By now, I've posted over 200 photos of my cats on this blog.  Since next month is Dystopian August and Cat Tuesday will be on hiatus, I thought it might be fun to go through and pick my favorite Cat Tuesday photos of all time to tide you over.  Here they are (in no particular order):

Fly High (Emmy)
I love the expression on Emmy's face when Daniel throws her in the air. Priceless.

Special Kitty (Emmy)
Emmy's love of squeezing into boxes reaches its pinnacle in this photo.

The Perfect Drop (Finn)
Finn loved to drink drips from the tap and this photo captures the perfect moment.

Sleeping Dancer (Emmy, Finn)
I love this pose!!

I like pot (Emmy)
Emmy curls up in the strangest places. This might be my favorite.

The Big Sleep (Emmy, Kaia, Lu)
Has there ever been a more adorable picture than this? I think not.

Kitty Pile (Emmy, Kaia, Lu)
The backs of their heads! Cute overload.

Cleaning Up (Kaia)
Curled up with the vacuum cleaner and very happy. Look at that tongue!

Lurking (Kaia and Lu)
They look sooo dangerous.

Illustrating (Emmy)
I love how it looks like Emmy's holding a pen and drawing whales here.

Which one is your favorite?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Apocalypsies Love! Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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 PUSHING THE LIMITS, a contemporary YA romance about two broken souls maybe finding love with each other.

The first thing you should know about PTL is that it is smoking hot! Noah is that type of bad boy that just needs the right girl to make him go good. Is Echo that girl?  Both of our leads have big problems - Echo nearly died after being left alone with her bipolar mother. Noah is in a foster home after his parents' death and longs to get custody of his younger brothers. 

Being seen with Noah is not good for Echo's shaky social standing. Noah's waster friends don't trust Echo. But when they get together, they sizzle. No denying that kind of chemistry. As Echo herself says: "Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls."

What else should you know? There are tons of elements here that I love in my book romances: the slow burn, the plotting together, the baring of secrets, the snappy banter, and the deep emotional connection. I'm actually kinda dying to know what happens next with these two ...

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

What is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene in the book is when Noah finds Echo at her brother’s gravesite. He has an internal about scar tissue and that is my favorite internal dialogue in the book.

What is your favorite line in the book?

Oh, I have so many. One of my top favorites is the opening line: My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead, and my mother has…well…issues. How do you think I’m doing?

What setting was most fun to write?

The pool hall scene between Echo and Noah. I loved writing their banter, I adored the growing sexual tension between the characters, and I was thrilled to push Echo and Noah into trusting each other—even if it was for a little bit.

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

Beth is definitely one of my favorite supporting characters. The companion novel to Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, is scheduled to be released sometime in 2013. Dare You To will follow Beth’s story.

The moment I saw Beth bloodied in her aunt’s kitchen, I knew Beth’s story needed to be told. She’s a hard character, but she’s a vulnerable character and she has lots of secrets.

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

My favorite part hands down has been meeting the wonderful people who work at Harlequin. They have been amazingly supportive and friendly throughout the entire process.

Thanks Katie!


PUSHING THE LIMITS will be released in hardcover on July 31. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: I got a signed copy at BEA 2012.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Apocalypsies Starter Pack Mega Summer Giveaway!

2012 is delivering lots of great Apocalypsies debuts including a little book of mine called Level 2!

In January and February, I gave away five different starter packs, and since then, I've been accumulating swag and books like crazy so I can pass them on to you.

One lucky winner will get ALL of the following:


Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Crewel by Genn Albin
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Auracle by Gina Rosati  
The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Signed bookmark packs 

3 signed bookmarks of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
3 signed bookmarks of The Wicked and the Just by J Anderson Coats
3 signed bookmarks of Chained by Lynne Kelly
3 signed bookmarks of Auracle by Gina Rosati
3 signed bookmarks of Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
3 signed bookmarks of Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
3 signed bookmarks of Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
3 signed bookmarks of Starters by Lissa Price
3 signed bookmarks of What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen
3 signed postcards of Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Unsigned bookmarks 

1 bookmark of Seeing Cinderella by Jenny Lundquist
3 bookmarks of Croak by Gina Damico
3 bookmarks of The Dark Light by Sara Walsh
3 bookmarks of Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
3 bookmarks of Way to Go by Tom Ryan
1 bookmark of Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
1 postcard of Cracked by KM Walton
1 bookmark of Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn
3 bookmarks of Velveteen by Daniel Marks
1 bookmark of The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
1 bookmark of The Gathering Light by Robin Bridges
1 bookmark of Remarkable by Lizzie K Foley
1 bookmark of Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear
1 postcard of Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
1 bookmark of Freakling by Lana Krumwiede
1 bookmark of May B by Caroline Starr Rose

Signed single bookmarks & Swag

1 chapter sampler of Starters by Lissa Price
1 signed postcard of If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
1 signed bookmark of Venom by Fiona Paul
1 signed bookmark of The Boy Project by Kami Kinard
1 signed bookmark of Slide by Jill Hathaway
1 signed bookmark of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
3 temporary tattoos of Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
3 rubber bracelets + 1 magnet of Auracle by Gina Rosati
1 magnet of Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
1 magnet of Reunited by Hilary Wiseman Graham
1 magnet + sickle bookmark from Croak by Gina Damico
1 sticker pack from Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
1 signed sticker from Scarlet by AC Gaughen
1 sticker from The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin
1 sticker from The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
1 sticker from The Wicked and the Just by J Anderson Coats
1 sticker from Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Other awesomeness

1 frisbee of Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
1 road trip mix CD from Reunited by Hilary Wiseman Graham
1 afterlife playlist CD from Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Limited Edition BEA Dance Card with 24 debut author signatures

Enter by August 5, 2012 by 11:59 pm CST by filling out THIS FORM. Open internationally. Enjoy :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blog Tour and Book Review: Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Today I have a guest post by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal as part of their MOTHERSHIP time capsule blog tour. We'll get to that in a moment.

First check out this hilarious summary:

Pregnant. In space. Yeah, things are really looking up.

It’s 2074 and Elvie’s unplanned pregnancy (with Cole Archer, who bolted out of town half a millisecond after hearing the news, not that Elvie’s bitter about it or anything) forces her to leave her best bud back on Earth and spend her junior year aboard a corny old space cruiser with forty-five other hormonal teen girls (one of whom just happens to be her arch-nemesis). Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole. 
Mothership is the first installment in a new trilogy from Martin Leicht and Isla Neal that has been described as Juno meets Pretty In Pink…but in space.

Now how could I resist that? MOTHERSHIP was not on my radar at all, so it was such a nice surprise. I'd describe it as a very funny sci-fi black comedy (I say black because there is a lot of death) and it reminded me a lot of BUMPED and THUMPED by Megan McCafferty (and you know how much I adored those books). Though Elvie's voice is sometimes a tad too snarky teen for my taste, I do have to admit she has some great one-liners. I love how smart and resourceful Elvie is - no knocked-up damsel in distress here. I also love the clever plot and great twists. And what a well executed cliffhanger! Looking forward to the next book for sure.

And now for word from the authors:

Life will undoubtedly be very different for Elvie Nara in the year 2074. It’s fun to imagine all of the crazy technology and fashion and entertainment people will be exposed to sixty years from now. But sometimes it’s just as hilarious to look to the past and mock their conventions. So, in that vein, we were asked to think of some contemporary objects that we would put in a time capsule for Elvie to discover. She’d probably make fun of a lot of it—after all, these are things that would have been “cool” for her grandparents! Still, we think she’ll get a kick out of seeing what we were watching, wearing, eating, and more.

Just like any teenager, Elvie has her favorite snacks. And although being pregnant has given her some pretty odd cravings at the moment (peach yogurt and black olives, anyone??), we still think she’d find some of our food choices more than slightly peculiar. So here are two food-related items we’d tuck into the time capsule, just to make Elvie go, “For serious?”


These days, corn is everywhere. You eat it on the cob, in a bowl, in cornbread, corn chips, tortillas. But more likely than not you’re eating it in a lot of other places, too. It’s there in your soft drink and your juice. In your ketchup and your baking powder. Fructose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin . . . just try to find foods at your local supermarket that don’t contain at least one of these corn-based ingredients. On average, a single person in the United States eats 1500 pounds of corn every year! Corn is even used in non-food items, like skateboards, golf tees, and—believe it or not—urinals. In the U.S., corn ethanol is also used as an alternative to petroleum products as a source of fuel. We basically eat, drive, wear, and pee on corn. Yowza.

Elvie’s world is quite different in this respect. With the development of new technology to create climate-controlled mini-farm complexes, farmers will be able to produce a wide variety of different crops within the same few acres, leading to more diversity in local foods. Corn-infused everything will be a thing of the past, and Elvie would be quite surprised to discover how different her food tastes from ours. In her time, the only place she finds corn is on her plate at Thanksgiving, or at her dad’s annual 4th of July BBQ (Mr. Nara grills up a mean cob).

Below is symbolic video of corn consumption today, the “Death by Corn” scene from the classic film Witness (one of Elvie’s favorite flat pics!).

Iron Chef

Hey, eating turtle meat sounds kinda gross, right? Well, what if you had to use it as your main ingredient in a plate of nachos, in a broth-based soup, as a stir-fried entrée, and even in an ice cream sundae?

That’s the premise of “Iron Chef,” a wickedly hilarious cooking show where competing chefs must plan out a menu using a “secret ingredient,” then have their creations judged by a panel of weirdos. Many times the ingredient is fairly mundane, like oranges or chocolate. But often times it’s something deliciously bizarre, like octopus or seaweed. One time the ingredient was actually water. Watching the ingenious ways the chefs utilize these sometimes unorthodox ingredients is always a hoot, even if some of the resulting meals are fairly gag-worthy. And every once in a while, an initially revolting ingredient turns into a truly fabulous creation.

Elvie, with her pregnancy cravings going full tilt, would no doubt be more than a little intrigued by a turtle meat sundae. And her poor BFF, Ducky, would have to be strong when he takes a few bites, too, out of solidarity.

Check out the intro to the show here, which is worth watching just for the totally badass moment when the show’s creator, Chairman Kaga, takes a bite out of a raw sweet pepper for basically no reason.

Other food trends Elvie would get a kick out of:

Hipster food trucks; flavored water; and the bizarre food movement known as “molecular gastronomy.”

Fun yes?

Want to know more? Check out the book trailer:

‘Like’ Mothership on Facebook

Be sure to check out the next stop on the tour over at Forever Young Adult on Wednesday, July 18!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (74)

Oh, it is Wednesday already?! The problem with working from home is that I often forget what day of the week it is ...

And it doesn't matter to the cats. They like to be spoiled every single day.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let's Talk About ARCs

The blogosphere is all atwitter about ARCs (advance reader copies) lately. Who should get them, what they're for, how far in advanced should they be reviewed, where are they used most effectively and why is everyone in such a tizzy?

I'm not going to talk about any of those questions though.

What's on my mind at the moment is the quality of a reading experience. As most of us know, ARCs are uncorrected copies, created usually after the first round of copyedits (but sometimes even before). There are errors which may be mistakes made by the author (and not caught), mistakes made by the copyeditor (and not "stet"ed), or mistakes by the person responsible for keying in all the changes (my copyedits were done on paper).

The author also has the chance to make changes after copyedits. In some cases, the author may make pretty big changes, like reworking the whole ending. But even if the changes are more subtle - a transition smoothed here or a phrase added there - it's no question that the finished copy is going to be better.

I've read posts by other authors about this subject (which I cannot find at the moment - you try googling ARC + an author's name and see what you find = not posts about their thoughts on ARCs), but I never really GOT it until I read through my own first pass pages for LEVEL 2 (same draft as my ARC). It's not bad by any means, but there are words missing, typos, and even a place where two sentences mysteriously disappeared.

Now I read a lot of ARCs. In fact, of the 47 books I've read so far this year, 42 of those were ARCs. Out of the 42, I bought 10 when they came out (and plan to buy more) but I won't likely be rereading them again in their entirety anytime soon. Did I cheat myself out of the best reading experience I could have had of those books?  Might I have enjoyed them even more had I read every word as it was intended to be?

Probably. But the other side of the coin was that by reading these books early, I got to be a part of building buzz, of starting the conversation - something which is valuable for both authors and bloggers. And of course I got the thrill of reading a coveted book before (most of) the rest of the world.

Is it a fair trade-off? What do you think?

Oh, and if you're an author, how different is your ARC from your finished copy?

ETA: Author Elizabeth Fama wants you to kill her ARC.

Author Diana Peterfreund warns that the ending of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is different in the ARC.

(Point me to other links if you have them!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Round-Up of Level 2 Reactions & Links

Even though it doesn't come out until January 15, 2013, LEVEL 2 has been out and about in ARC form for a month now and the first reactions are rolling in. How fun!  Let's take a look shall we?

First up, Jaime at The Perpetual Page-Turner wrote a lovely piece on why you should Save the Date for LEVEL 2.  A bit of an excerpt:

It’s SO unique in a way that just keeps you reading. I just found this story to be refreshing because it didn’t feel like anything I’ve ever read before. Throughout the story things kept being revealed that blew my mind storywise and the adrenaline started kicking in as pieces start coming together. I never knew what to expect to be honest. - Jamie 

Thank you Jaime!

Next, Amanda over at A Book Addict's Diary reviewed LEVEL 2 as part of a Around the World ARC  tour and had this to say:

I enjoyed Level 2, it offered a unique take on the afterlife, with a compelling and twisty plot that kept me glued to the page. And the writing -the writing style was completely engrossing. Newcomer Lenore Appelhans knows how to paint an atmosphere and make a world come to life with some truly refreshing techniques and elements that I've never seen before. - Amanda

She does point out that she was a bit disappointed though because she was expecting a dystopian novel, and LEVEL 2 is not a dystopian in her eyes.  And you know what? I have to agree with her points - LEVEL 2 is not a classic dystopian by any means, and perhaps by featuring it during my dystopian theme months, I've raised expectations that I shouldn't have.  Know this: S&S is not calling it a dystopian in their marketing, and my "dystopian afterlife thriller" description was mainly my entry point to the story as a writer.  The "dystopian" nature of the story is limited but it is there - the main character is awakened to the fact that the afterlife she's found herself in has been twisted in horrific ways from its original purpose. Still, from now on, I'll stick to calling it an "afterlife thriller with dystopian elements" and hopefully I won't disappoint anyone else with my labeling. Thank you Amanda!

And now we'll wander over to Goodreads (LEVEL 2 on Goodreads) where some of my fellow Apocalypsies have had very kind things to say about LEVEL 2. Some snippets:

The pacing is brilliant. The world building is brilliant. - KM Walton, Author of CRACKED

Very impressive! - Jodi Meadows, Author of INCARNATE

I love the juxtaposition of Felicia's memories--which have the feel of reading a contemporary novel and gradually reveal the story of her life on Earth -- with the action-oriented scenes that take place on Level 2. - Tiffany Schmidt, Author of SEND ME A SIGN

It’s a smart, fast-paced read with inventive plot twists and a strong heroine—highly original and my kind of book. - Tamara Ireland Stone, Author of TIME BETWEEN US

Appelhans unique voice and mastery of story will no doubt establish her as a serious force in the world of YA. - Hilary Graham, Author of REUNITED

The story creatively jumps between lots of different perspectives in the past and the present and I never once was lost. Her storytelling and transitions were seamless. - Kimberly Sabatini, Author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE

Thank you so much ladies for all the Apocalypsies love  - I'm blushing!

There are also quite a few other reviews from bloggers - but I'll wait to quote them until reviews go up on their blogs :)

And now some related links:

Paper Lantern Lit created a LEVEL 2 inspired mocktail!

Mindy McGinnis, Author of the forthcoming NOT A DROP TO DRINK (HarperCollins Fall 2013) interviewed me twice. Once about blogging at Presenting Lenore while being an author, and once about my submission process for LEVEL 2.

Over at The League of Extraordinary Writers I talked about my first library card (and other library stories).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Return of Cat Tuesday (73)

Are my cat lasagnas ready yet?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Scottish "Verity" is captured in Nazi occupied France and interrogated by Gestapo who allow her to write her story in the hopes of getting valuable secrets from her. What follows is a passionate, rambling account of her friendship with the British pilot, Maddie, she crashed down with.

The first thing you should know about VERITY is how absolutely heartbreaking it is. It's the kind of book that induces ugly sobbing in the fetal position, even in a "never crier" like me.

I connected with Verity's narration so much, I wanted her to be real, to find a time machine to and come be my BFF.  At the beginning of the novel, she admits to being a coward, to being someone who would give up all the codes to the enemy just for the comfort of getting her clothes back.  But how reliable of a narrator is Verity? How much of anyone's words can we take at face value during a wartime operation filled with double agents?

It's a tense, intricate puzzler of a story with a bang of an ending. It will take a long time for my poor heart to recover from this one.

CODE NAME VERITY is available in hardcover now.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: I read an eGalley provided by the publisher on NetGalley.