Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Hooked by Liz Fichera

Fred has a passion for golf, so when the boy’s coach practically begs her to join the boy’s team, she’s flattered. But she’s also apprehensive – what if they don’t accept her?

Ryan is furious at first when Fred joins – especially because she takes the place of his best friend. But slowly he finds himself falling for Fred, and overcoming his prejudice against her Native American heritage.

HOOKED is a very fresh love story featuring a strong, sporty POC heroine (pretty rare!). Though the narrative arc goes exactly where you’d expect it to with this set-up, Fred’s winsomeness and her chemistry with Ryan keeps you invested in their budding relationship. Also features a great father/daughter bond which is always a big plus for me!

HOOKED came out this week. Visit the author’s website for more info about the novel.

FTC disclosure: NetGalley

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Return of Cat Tuesday (80)

The kitties have this new obsession with their cat carrier, which we store on top of the wardrobe in our bedroom.  I snapped some cute photos of them in it.

Kaia grooming Emmy
Someone to watch over me
Attack from the top

Monday, January 28, 2013

Prodigy by Marie Lu Blog Tour

I'm so thrilled to be a part of Marie's tour for PRODIGY. You know I loved LEGEND, and PRODIGY was just as thrilling and even more heartbreaking.  Check out my review and enjoy this excerpt!

PRODIGY Excerpt: I just sit and think about Commander Jameson’s expression. Of all the Republic officers I’ve come across, except maybe for Chian, only Commander Jameson’s eyes can freeze me to my core. I fight down the memory of how she’d ordered my mother’s death – and John’s execution. If Thomas has June under arrest, what will Commander Jameson do to her? – Day, page 87

Marie’s thoughts: Living in constant fear has to be the worst aspect of living in the Republic. The entire country was basically founded on fear, and fear breeds ignorance and hate (I’m starting to sound like Yoda). To wake up each morning not knowing whether Republic soldiers are going to come knocking down your door for whatever offense they think you’ve committed...I’m glad I don’t live in that kind of society. Sadly, not everyone in the world is that lucky.

Download the FREE Marie Lu digital sampler to your e-reader and start reading Legend and Prodigy right now!


Watch the Prodigy book trailer!

Visit the next stop on the PRODIGY tour tomorrow:
Mundie Moms

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Level 2 Launch Week Interview Series: Audiobook Narrator Jenna Lamia

To celebrate the launch of LEVEL 2 on Presenting Lenore, I devised a plan to interview some of the industry people involved in getting the book published and on shelves. Today the audiobook released, and I have Jenna Lamia on the blog. She narrated the US audiobook from Listening Library.  I am listening to it now, and let me tell you -- she is amazing! I want to listen to everything she ever narrated now.


How did you get a start in audiobooks? What interests you most about the process?

I was at my agent's office in New York when I was first starting out, and one of the voice over agents, Shari Hoffman, asked me if by any chance I could do a Russian accent. With characteristic misguided aplomb, I said "sure!" She took me to a recording booth and gave me a few pages to read. I hadn't ever thought about doing books on tape but I was soon hooked. The first book I ever did was called "Bat 6," and it was read by an ensemble of young women. I believe the first book I did on my own was "The Girl With The Pearl Earring." I remember having such a dry mouth, due to nerves, that I had to take little bites of a granny smith apple between takes. Shari is still my agent today.

What interests me most about doing books on tape is that it is acting without the ego. There is no hair and make-up, no lighting - the physical aspects of acting fall away and the performance gets very intimate. It is the most relaxed I ever am as a performer, because I am not worrying about hitting a mark or messing up my hair or finding the light. It is very pure. I love that about it.

You're a film actress as well. Can you tell us about a memorable on-set experience you've had?

There are lots of memorable experiences, but the one that sticks out didn't happen on a set, exactly. In the 2010 movie "The Fighter, " I played Sherri Ward, Mark Wahlberg's character Mickey Ward's youngest sister. The Ward family lived in the town where we shot the movie, and soon after we got there, the actress playing the oldest sister got a call on her cell phone. It was a few of the Ward/Ecklund sisters and they wanted to meet us. I was excited and totally intimidated. This was not a formal meeting set up by the production. What if they hated us? 

We drove to their house, somewhat late at night, and they invited us in for a drink. It was awesome!!! They were so welcoming and generous, and totally without artifice. We met their mother, who was the backbone of that whole family. We stood in the kitchen and talked, and it was the biggest gift I've ever been given as an actress. When you are playing an actual person, and they are still very much alive, they become your only audience. If Sherri had hated how she was portrayed I would never have forgiven myself. But I think she was OK with it. We are now friends on Facebook and she keeps me updated on how she and her family are doing. They are a very close-knit family and I feel lucky that I got to know them a little bit.

How did you prepare for your LEVEL 2 narrating session? Did the book present any special challenges? Which was the most difficult character to find a voice for?

I prepared for it the way I always do: I read the book and made little notes in the margins. I don't practice voices out loud before I get to the studio. I don't know why. I read the book and let it sit with me, and look up any words or pronunciations I'm not sure about. And then by the time I get to the studio, the characters have (hopefully) taken shape. I guess Julian was the most difficult to specify a voice for because whether he is good or evil is not at all clear. You want that air of mystery and intelligence, charm even, but not warmth. Neil is warm. Julian is... slick.

Even though there’s not really a love triangle, people tend to pick teams anyway – so tell us, are you Team Neil or Team Julian?

I remain undecided. I am waiting for the next book, because I think we are going to see more layers!!!

Thank you Jenna!

Listen to a sample of Jenna reading LEVEL 2 at Listening Library.


Level 2 Blog Tour Post at Cuddlebuggery: I reveal my high school writing. It is NOT pretty.


Enter here for a chance to win a LEVEL 2 prize pack! Includes the LEVEL 2 audiobook, an exclusive tote bag, magnet, nail design instructions, nail polish, and signed postcards.  US and Canada only. Enter by Feb 6, 2013 at 11:59 CST pm.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Level 2 Launch Week Interview Series: Editor Alexandra Cooper

To celebrate the launch of LEVEL 2 on Presenting Lenore, I devised a plan to interview some of the industry people involved in getting the book published and on shelves. Today I have the amazing Alexandra Cooper, Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster BFYR, and the acquiring editor of LEVEL 2.


Thanks for joining us! To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, which also happens to have a fantastic children's book community (shout-out!) I started working at Simon & Schusteras an editorial assistant, and I've been there ever since. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to grow my own list in my time there, and now I get to work with lots of amazing writers, of whom you are one, Lenore!

Thank you! I notice a lot of similar elements in books that you’ve edited – close father/daughter relationships and road trips for example. What about Level 2 hit your sweet spot?

I think it's less that there are specific features I look for, and more that certain themes tend to resonate with me subconsciously--which I believe is true of every reader. When I first read Level 2, the pacing hooked me right away, but what kept me invested was Felicia's arc. In a way, I think Level 2 is a coming-of-age for her, realizing that she has to make peace with some of the regrets from her time on Earth. The contrast in her character from who she was on Earth and who she becomes in Level 2 was an aspect of the story I also found fascinating. I love that she questions everything, that she doesn't always make the "right" decision, thatwe get to see her make mistakes and misjudge people--that's the best way she knows how to figure out who she is and what's important to her.

Do you have a favorite scene in Level 2?

For me, an unforgettable scene is when Felicia is in Turkey with her father and their guide, Azrak, to track down a herd of goats that her father wants to record--the premise alone is sort of preposterous, and Felicia's narration of the trip is witheringly funny.

That's my favorite scene! Even though there’s not really a love triangle, people tend to pick teams anyway – so tell us, are you Team Neil or Team Julian?

Isn't the beauty of reading Level 2 that we don't have to choose? Let's just say I had to pick my answer to the previous question carefully, lest I betray my strong preference for one of the guys in Felicia's life (and afterlife).

Any hints you can give us about Level 3?

There is a lot of unfinished business that comes back to haunt the main characters in ways I don't think people will see coming!

Thank you Alexandra!


Today starts the international leg of the LEVEL 2 blog tour: 5 Ways Book Blogging Can Help You Get Published at Reading Wishes.

I was on TV! The Kansas City Fox 4 Morning News team interviewed me on Saturday morning.

Andy of Escape to New Worlds recaps my Mysteryscape Event with Emily Hainsworth (THROUGH TO YOU)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Level 2 Launch Week Interview Series: Beta-Readers!

To celebrate the launch of LEVEL 2 on Presenting Lenore, I devised a plan to interview some of the industry people involved in getting the book published and on shelves. I had several fabulous beta-readers and I got to talk to two of them about the process. Read on!


Kelly Jensen is a reference librarian who does teen services at a public library in Wisconsin. I've been blogging at STACKED for almost 4 years, and I'm in the process of writing a VOYA guide to contemporary YA fiction. Follow her on twitter: @catagator

How did you get into beta-reading and what skills does a beta-reader need?

I'm part of a critique group, which includes agented and unagented writers, and I've been a part of that for two years now. It's helped me hone my beta reading skills, as well as my skills in more thorough critiquing of writing. A good beta reader is someone who can look at the whole picture of a manuscript and figure out what is and isn't working on a grand scale and on a granular one. In other words, a good reader sees what the big picture is and what within the smaller pictures are contributing to it. They read with the ability to ask questions that need answers.

By the time you read Level 2, it had already been through one round of editing at my publisher. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript at that point for you?

Strengths of Level 2 included the world building and the pacing, as well as the writing. The weaknesses -- and something you poked fun at me about repeatedly in my notes -- included the fact at times Felicia felt too cold and she felt very distant from the reader. In other words, I wanted more insight into what she was thinking and experiencing. I wanted her FEELINGS and THOUGHTS. I got them :D

Even though Level 2 doesn't really have a love triangle, readers still love to pick teams. Which team are you on?

Team Felicia. She's strong. She's smart (even if she doesn't always make good decisions). She's driven. What more can you want from a lead character?

Thanks Kelly! You can read more of Kelly's thoughts on LEVEL 2 on her blog.

Heather Anastasiu's novel GLITCH debuted last year, and the second book in the trilogy, OVERRIDE comes out on Feb. 12th. She recently moved from Texas to Minneapolis, MN and spends most of her time this winter drinking hot tea and cuddling in warm blankets. Find out more about her and her books on her website: or follow her on Twitter:

In your opinion, what makes a good beta reader?

A good beta reader is someone who will dive in and really be able to see the core structure of the story. They can tell you if plot events don't have a good cause and effect cycle, if a character isn't emotionally making sense (and point out the areas that cause the confusion), and if the payoff at the climax feel like it was well earned or not (and what things could be changed to make sure that it does).

When I beta I also try to point out the positives of things that I love along the way too, because it's easy to only point out the problems, which I know from experience recieving edits, can just make you want to cry! It also depends on what kind of draft I'm reading. If I'm reading a very rough first draft, I approach it more like a broad edit-letter kind of thing, just pointing out big structural and character arc issues. If it's a more polished draft, then I do more line edits, actually getting into the text itself and making changes and suggestions. Most of the beta reading I've done has been a mix of both. Also, as a writer, I love beta readers who will give suggestions on how to fix problems instead of just pointing them out. Even if they aren't the solutions I end up going with, it helps loosen me up and give a place to start brainstorming from.

You read the first draft of Level 2. Be honest - how bad was it?

Lol, it wasn't bad at all! I remember being completely immersed in the story and just having questions about certain things and wanting them clarified.

Even though Level 2 doesn't really have a love triangle, readers still love to pick teams. Which team are you on? Team Neil or Team Julian and why?

I'm totally Team Julian all the way, maybe because, in spite of the flashbacks in Level Two, she's spending so much time with Julian, and he's got that dark mysterious bad-boy past thing going on :)

You're one of the few people to have read Level 3 already - what can readers look forward to?

Oh my gosh, so much AWESOMENESS! When I read it, I was like, um, there's not much to critique ,even as an early draft, it was SO good. There's so much action, the stakes are always high, and we get to see Felicia grow so much, both in her understanding of herself, and in her relationships with the people around her. What I love about your writing is that your characters always feel so lifelike, with all our human foibles, mistakes, and moments of triumph.

Thank you Heather! I can attest that Kelly and Heather (and all my beta-readers) were awesome and essential to the process. Each helped me with different aspects of the novel and I can't thank them enough.


If you missed it yesterday, here's the recap of my US launch party at Watermark Books!

Check out this amazing Anatomy of a Level 2 Hive (cross section designed by an architect) over at Sophistikatied Reviews.

I'm in the Guardian talking about some of my favorite books dealing with memories and flashbacks.

The Forever Young Adult crew takes me Between Two Lockers and gets the lowdown on my teen self and LEVEL 2 in this hilarious interview.

On the last stop of the US leg of the LEVEL 2 blog tour, Novel Novice interviews Felicia's father Elliot

Nicole Bonia invites me to be a part of her Out of Twenty interview series.

FUN FACT: I did include an obscure reference to another book blogger in LEVEL 2. Want to know who? 

Thank you so much for reading, reviewing and spreading the word. You all are awesome!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just One Day Blog Tour!

We interrupt the LEVEL 2 launch week fun to bring you a special blog tour guest post from Gayle Forman about her travels and her new novel JUST ONE DAY. Many of Gayle's travel experiences inspired scenes in JUST ONE DAY (and JUST ONE YEAR, out next fall!). Each day along the tour there will be a new photo from Gayle’s travels, along with the story behind the photo written by Gayle!

If you are looking for a LEVEL 2 fix though, check out my recap of last night's LEVEL 2 US launch party over at the Lucky 13s blog.

When I heard that Gayle Forman had a new book coming out, and that it featured travel, I knew I had to read it.  After all, I loved IF I STAY and I love traveling.

JUST ONE DAY definitely captures the serendipitous nature of travel and the way it broadens your horizons. Straitlaced Allyson follows her packaged tour through Europe to a T, until she meets Willem and he convinces her to go with him to Paris. She adopts an alter ego (LuLu) and is the most carefree she's ever been in her life ... until Willem disappears.

I do have to warn you that once Allyson returns to the US and starts college, she's irritatingly mopey -- but it does have a narrative point, trust me. The ending of this one will have you screaming "why isn't the second book out already?". Aggh! I cannot wait!

And now, let's hear from Gayle!

Jaisalmer, India

I was in India, and I was sick, the kind of sick you often get in India that has you running for toilets or corners to barf in and crying for your mother even though you are 31 years old.

I hadn’t eaten in days and I was getting woozy. My husband convinced me to try to find something I could keep down. We climbed the to the top of the fort in the desert city of Jaisalmer and stumbled upon this restaurant called July 8. That was our friend Diane’s birthday. Indians are big on auspicious signs, so, taking a page from the local rulebook, we decided to go in.

It was empty. And hot. I ordered ginger tea because ginger is supposed to be good for nausea. But when it arrived, the smell of it made my stomach somersault. I pushed it away. Rama, the restaurant’s owner, chided me: ìDon’t you like my tea?î When I explained about my bad stomach, she turned serious. ìGinger will heat you up. You need something to cool your tummy.î

Over the next several days, Rama fed me various foods depending on my symptoms and then we spent the better part of the mornings talking, about life, love, 8th days, heartbreak and hope. July 8th may have been one day of significance but the 8th of the month seemed to be important in my life: lots of important birthdays and anniversaries, and one very tragic day. I wound up pouring my heart out to Rama, and she to me. Her various concoctions healed my stomach, but our talks went a long way to healing my broken heart [maybe link back to Buddy and Scott and escape blog post?].

Would I have ventured into her restaurant if it was called something else? Would I have met someone else who would have had the same profound effect on me? I’m not sure. It’s one of those mysteries of travel. Of life, too, really.  

Start reading JUST ONE DAY right now

Want to see more of Gayle Forman’s amazing traveling? Penguin Teen is posting one picture a day on tumblr for a whole YEAR!
Next up on the JUST ONE DAY tour:
Fri, 1/18 Ticket to Anywhere 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Level 2 Launch Week Interview Series: Editor Rebecca Hill

To celebrate the launch of LEVEL 2 on Presenting Lenore, I devised a plan to interview some of the industry people involved in getting the book published and on shelves. Today we have Rebecca Hill, Fiction Director at Usborne, and the publisher of LEVEL 2 in the UK.


Tell us a bit about the Usborne YA list. How does Level 2 fit into the list? What kind of books are you looking for?

We launched the Usborne Young Adult list in October 2010, with the publication of Angel by LA Weatherly. It was a fantastic bestseller in the UK and has now been translated into twelve languages, the PR and Marketing campaigns also won awards. From October 2010, the YA list quickly grew and we now publish around six new titles a year. Above all else, we love finding good stories and that’s what I’m constantly looking for; indeed, that’s why we all loved Level 2 so much. With its imaginative take on the afterlife and the concurrent past and present storylines, I couldn’t put it down.

You once told me that you started reading the pages of Level 2 at the Bologna Book Fair, sitting outside in the sun. At what point did you know you wanted to publish it in the UK?

Pretty quickly! From the minute I heard the pitch I couldn’t wait to read the book. It is rare for Usborne to buy a book on sample chapters, but the world of Level 2 was so vivid and imaginative – the pods are like an afterlife equivalent of YouTube – and Felicia’s character felt so real, flawed but likeable, that I was hooked! We all wanted it for our much-loved list.

Tell us a bit about the process of preparing Level 2 for the UK audience. How is the book different from the US edition?

Once Simon and Schuster had finished the main edits on the book, we were sent the final text. A very exciting moment! We read the book and marked any places where we felt things weren’t quite clear for a UK reader or places where the US vocabulary needed to be anglicized, so the only real difference between the US and UK editions are spellings, a few turns of phrase and one change of outfit for Felicia! We’ve even used the same cover, but we did tweak that slightly and change the back cover blurb.

Do you have a favourite scene in Level 2?

Ah, so many to choose from! There are two scenes which particularly stood out for me. Firstly, Felicia’s materialization of her nail-painting set; she’s finally getting to grips with her powers in Level 2, but uses them here in a way which is very much on her terms.

(Spoiler alert - roll over text to highlight it and read) I also loved the image at the end of Neil and Felicia connecting palms, and experiencing the transfer of memories as it was originally intended – it’s such a gorgeous, intimate moment:

Neil lifts his palm towards mine. When our skin connects, there’s a hum of electricity, and a rush of images fills my mind. The transfer is nearly instantaneous…

Even though there’s not really a love triangle, people tend to pick teams anyway – so tell us, are you Team Neil or Team Julian?

Oh that’s a hard one to call. We haven’t met the “real” Neil yet, except in Felicia’s memories, where he is insanely perfect, so, despite the fact that I hated Julian to start off with at this moment I’m Team Julian. However, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Neil in the next book, Level 3. All I can say is, watch this space…

Thank you Rebecca!

News round-up

My launch party is tonight and it's going to be super fun! Lots of friends, cupcakes, prizes!! I can't wait. 

I wanted to share a few more review links - Hobbitsies, YA BibliophileIn Bed With Books, Book Symphony, and The Reader's Show.

Also, Author Jessica Spotswood (BORN WICKED) had me over for her Thrice interview and she's giving away a Level 2 swag pack including the exclusive tote!

Thank you for your awesome support, all your book birthday wishes yesterday and for spreading the word! I love you guys!

Level 2 Launch Day!

Can you believe it? Level 2 day has finally arrived!

Kelly from STACKED books blog flew in town especially to celebrate with me.  First, she gave me this amazing Level 2 necklace.

Then, she convinced me that the Barnes & Noble would have copies on the shelf, so we went in, and ta-da:

I asked if they wanted me to sign their stock -- and they did! So I did:

Then we stopped by Watermark where the launch party will be tomorrow night and they had a display in the window. So that was awesome.

Lots of great stuff around the web today.

First up - I finally reveal the complete LEVEL 2 playlist on Mundie Moms as part of the LEVEL 2 blog tour.

I talk about my path to publication on Cynsations.

One Four Kid Lit interviews me about writing LEVEL 2.

Emily's Crammed Bookshelf interviews me and gives away a LEVEL 2 tote bag.

Jenny of Forever Young Adult reviews LEVEL 2 on the Kirkus blog and says: "I can't wait to get back in my pod and relive my memories with this book!"

Booktrust UK picks LEVEL 2 to feature in January

LEVEL 2 is 365 Days of Reading's Pick of the Week

The Guilded Earlobe reviews the LEVEL 2 audiobook, and more reviews from Princess Bookie and Bookblabblers.

Thank you so much to everyone who has tweeted, e-mailed and facebooked book birthday wishes - I am having a fabulous day - about to get even more awesome with the arrival of Forever Young Adult's Jenny and her husband George.

More tomorrow!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Level 2 Launch Week Interview Series: Agent Stephen Barbara

To celebrate the launch of LEVEL 2  on Presenting Lenore, I devised a plan to interview some of the industry people involved in getting the book published and on shelves. Up first - an essential piece of the puzzle, my agent Stephen Barbara!


Stephen Barbara represents books for young readers, and adult fiction and nonfiction. His clients include New York Times and international best seller Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall, Delirium), Newbery Medal winner and New York Times best seller Laura Amy Schlitz (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!), #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of GO THE F*** TO SLEEP, Ricardo Cortès, Indie best seller Lynne Jonell (Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, The Secret of Zoom), Edgar Award nominees Jack D. Ferraiolo and Todd Strasser, as well as the literary development company Paper Lantern Lit and the multimedia arts organization The Story Pirates, among many others.

Stephen grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and later attended the University of Chicago, where he studied English and literary criticism and was a co-founder of the college’s literary magazine. After a stint as a freelance book reviewer and sports writer for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard, Stephen began his publishing career, working first as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, then spending three years as Contracts Director of the Donald Maass Agency.

He is always happy to discover great debut novelists like Lenore Appelhans, and equally to guide the careers of established writers in need of new representation.

Our interview

LA: You have a reputation for being one of the quickest repliers to e-mail in the industry. What’s your secret?

SB: I’m not sure how fast I am on email, because I don’t really know how other agents work. But I’m happy to be seen as fast—thank you! It’s not the result of some kind of rule or grand philosophy, though. I’m just genuinely passionate about what I do, and that creates its own momentum. I’m against having hard and fast rules about these things, though. I like Glenn O’Brien’s dictum—we should all be a little more serious about our fun, and a little more playful about our work.

LA: You certainly responded quickly to the LEVEL 2 pages I sent you – and it might have been the best e-mail I’ve ever gotten in my life. What about my submission made you think: “I want to represent this?”

SB: There was a lot to like. First, a good back-story. We had met at the Bologna Book Fair in 2008 and that put you on my radar. I was impressed to discover your blog, Presenting Lenore, because it showed so much enthusiasm for teen and middle-grade fiction. Second, the submission for LEVEL 2 came exclusively—that was flattering, and a good omen because many of my clients have come via exclusive submission (Lauren Oliver, Leila Sales, Jess Rothenberg, to mention a few). I’m not sure why that’s the case, but it’s nice if it happens.

Most importantly, there was the work itself. I read it very quickly because I was hooked by the opening chapter. The writing had a stark kind of lucidity and objectivity, unusual for the category. And the novel itself is a great hybrid of some things in the zeitgeist then and now—the after-life novel, dystopian fiction, angel fiction. Yet it was original when made whole. So it was easy to offer representation. You shouldn’t think too hard about these things. If you simply have to represent something, go for it, I say.

LA: Do you have a favorite character in LEVEL 2? And even though there’s not really a love triangle, people tend to pick teams anyway – so tell us, are you Team Neil or Team Julian?

SB: Team Julian! Not for romantic reasons (not that there’s anything wrong with that …), but because I’ve always had a soft spot for characters who are both dazzling and flawed, from Dr. House and Don Draper on TV to real-life mad geniuses like the late Maurice Sendak or current soccer star Mario Balotelli.

LA: Was the submission strategy for LEVEL 2 unusual in any way?

SB: Yes. I had very unusual ideas for the submission; I printed out 10 copies of the manuscript and hand-delivered them to editors a week before the Bologna Book Fair, in 2011. I took a lot of heat for handling the submission that way, but I was delighted to sell the book to Alexandra Cooper at S&S, and to sell the film rights to CBS Films, simultaneously. It was said on that I made editors sign an NDA agreement in order to read LEVEL 2, but that wasn’t true. I just had an idea that editors should read the book free from any outside perception. It was a good idea if hard to implement in practice.

LA: And now the question every agent hates: What trends are you seeing lately? How does LEVEL 2 fit into today’s YA landscape? And why should people buy it this week now that it’s finally out?

SB: I really don’t have a great feeling about what trend is dominant in YA at the moment. We had a period of a lot of paranormal fiction followed by a wave of dystopian fiction, and I think editors now are probably looking for a great story, more than anything, and hopefully something that will seem fresh to their sales force. As for LEVEL 2, its vision of a dystopian after-world is terrifying and unforgettable. It’s a great read for readers of YA who are looking for a fresh twist on the dystopian or after-life novel.

LA: You're one of the few people in the world who has read the sequel to LEVEL 2. What can readers expect from the 2nd installment of The Memory Chronicles?

SB: I wish I could read it again for the first time! It’s great, and while I can’t say too much about it yet, as a reader, just know you’re in for some major thrills, surprises, and revelations. Run for your after-life!

Thank you Stephen. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you!

Lauren Oliver, me and Stephen Barbara at Bologna 2010

Exciting LEVEL 2 Links of the Day

Today on the LEVEL 2 blog tour: The international locations of LEVEL 2 at YA Highway.

Usborne threw me a launch party in London last Thursday with LEVEL 2 nail designs, a photo booth, cake, and the LEVEL 2 playlist streaming. It was amazing!!! The next day I had cake for breakfast:

See more about the event: Behind the scenes of the UK launch party at Dark Readers

LEVEL 2 Inspirations & Influences at The Book Smugglers

Julian lands in Bad Boy Rehab + giveaway of LEVEL 2

AL Davroe interviews me about writing + gives away a signed copy of LEVEL 2

Mr Book Wonder interrogates me in his Book Raid feature + gives away a LEVEL 2 tote

alice-jane of crazyredpen interviews me

Reviews from Angie Smibert, Bethany Hagen, There's A Book, Peace, Love, Teenage Fiction, and Daisy Chain Book Reviews

Getting tons of tweets from excited shoppers finding LEVEL 2 in stores - if you see it, tweet me at @lenoreva -- it should be out everywhere (US, Canada, UK) tomorrow!! *faints*

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Return of Cat Tuesday (79) + Level 2 blog tour updates

Every time I get out this green cup and fill it with water, Lu goes crazy.  He wants it, and he's not going to take no for an answer.

ALSO! The Level 2 blog tour has begun.

Find out how I went from book blogger to author at Serendipity's Reviews.

Paint your nails Level 2 style with help from The Overflowing Library's post

Pretty Books asked me some awesome questions (one of my favorite interviews!)

AND ...

The League of Extraordinary Writers is pre-launching Level 2 this week.  Check out this conversation between me and Lissa Price and Susanne Winnacker's review of Level 2.

Lauren Oliver is giving away a signed copy of Level 2 and Requiem if you tell her about your memories!

I discuss the importance of the seasons in Level 2 over at The Reclusive Reader + enter to win an exclusive Level 2 tote bag!

A Level 2 interview with Braiden of Book Probe. Find out if I've ever wrestled a crocodile ...

Reading Teen reviews the audiobook of Level 2 and describes how it "broke her brain"

KellyVision says Level 2 will be the YA debut of 2013 (thanks!)

Melody Simpson at Hollywood the Write Way says "Level 2 is a reminder of why we all fell in love with reading"

More great reviews from Paperback Princess, Emily's Reading Room, Tez Says, Chocolate Covered Reviews, The Starry-Eyed Revue, and Book Chic.

Australian only giveaway at Behind a Million for one of three copies of Level 2!

5 more days til launch (eep!) and I've been hearing reports of Level 2 already available in US and UK stores ... let me know if you see a copy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Level 2 News: Book Birthday in Australia, Blog Tour and more!

Happy release day to LEVEL 2 in Australia and New Zealand from Allen & Unwin.

Amie Kaufmann sent me this picture of LEVEL 2 on the shelf of Dymocks bookstore on Collins Street
in Melbourne - isn't that crazy exciting?!

Blog Tour

Starting next week, there will be three weeks of special LEVEL 2 features here and around the blogosphere. I'll have some exclusive interviews with industry people involved with LEVEL 2 here on my blog plus updates of what's going on each day on other blogs and pictures from my events (event schedule soon - I promise!)

UK - leg one, sponsored by Usborne

Monday 7th January Serendipity Book Reviews From book blogger to published author
Tuesday 8th January Overflowing Library Nail art post
Wednesday 9th January Pretty Books Q&A
Thursday 10th January The Book Smugglers Inspirations and Influences
Friday 11th January Dark Readers Behind the scenes of a book launch

US - leg two, sponsored by Simon & Schuster

Mon Jan 14th - YA Highway - The International Locations of Level 2
Tues Jan 15th - Mundie Moms - Level 2 playlist
Wednesday Jan 16th - Forever Young Adult - Between Two Lockers Interview
Thursday Jan 17th - Sophistikatied Book Blog - Anatomy of a Level 2 Hive 
Friday Jan 18 - Novel Novice - Character interview

International/AUS/NZ - leg 3, sponsored by Allen & Unwin

Monday Jan 21st - Reading Wishes - 5 ways book blogging can help you get published 
Tuesday Jan 22nd - Cuddlebuggery - Excerpt from The Three Seasons (Lenore's HS writing)  
Wednesday Jan 23 - Shiirleyy's Bookshelf - Does Level 2 have a love triangle or not?
Thursday Jan 24 - Carina's Book BlogOur Town and Level 2
Friday Jan 25 - Ink Skies - Content to be revealed

Latest reviews:

Booklist says: “Appelhans’ storytelling is well paced, tantalizing the reader with hints, and the compelling theme of the necessity of facing the wrongs of the past in order to move forward into the future will appeal to teens.”

Good Books and Good Wine says "It’s very swoonworthy, breakneck paced, with an interesting concept of the afterlife. Plus, it delves into religion without feeling preachy or churchy.I actually really loved how faith was portrayed in Level 2. Y’all, this is one hell of a debut so get off your butt and check it out like right this second."

Some Like it Paranormal  says "I have read several books about an "inbetween" but this one was by far the most unique. I loved the idea of the hives and watching memories."

Ivy Book Bindings says "Felicia is one of the most in-depth characters I’ve come across and her relationship with everyone, from her friends to teachers to parents to her own boyfriend, are all richly complex and a thrill to read."

My Heart Hearts Books says "This book is beyond awesome. For fans of world-building, this is the book for you." 

Seeing Night Reviews says "Level 2 is a book that makes you think, what happens after death, where do you go, who do you become? I found that the creative take on life after death was really interesting and such a heart pumping story."


Imaginary Reads interviewed me (find out what memory I'd revisit) and is giving away a signed hardcover of LEVEL 2.

I have a guest post about worldbuilding at Daydreaming Bookworm + she's giving away an Australian edition of LEVEL 2.

Preorder Signed Copies (US)

And remember, if you'd like to preorder a signed, personalized copy of LEVEL 2, you can order it until Jan 14th at Watermark Books where I'll be having my launch party on Jan 16th. Once you put in your cart, use the "order comments" input field to specify who you want the signed copy made out to. The first 50 preorders via this channel will also get a limited edition LEVEL 2 magnet - so order soon!

Less than 2 weeks to go!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reading Goals 2013

In 2012 I read over 100 books, but only a couple of them were backlist (pre 2011). My goal was to read as many Apocalypsies (debut YA+MG authors in 2012) books as possible as well as to continue to read dystopian and post apocalyptic books for my February and August theme months. It was hard for me to fit in books that fell outside those parameters, which meant that I read very few adult books (only 8!), virtually no non-fiction and not a single classic.

I want my reading in 2013 to be more balanced.  What does this mean? In 2013, I'm setting a goal of 75 books read by the end of the year, with the following approximate breakdown:

15 debut YA + MG books from the Lucky 13s
20 dystopian + post-apocalyptic books (10 for February/ 10 for August)
6 classics (1 every 2 months)
20 new releases in 2013 including 5 time travel books (for this time travel challenge)

and then backlist!  Here's a list of some of the gems from my shelf that I'm dying to read:

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (Must start this series!)
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (I've read all her other books)
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (I have all her books, but have not yet read a single one!)
I Know It's Over by CK Kelly Martin (and all her other books I haven't read, while I'm at it)
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu
The Taker by Alma Katsu
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I hope by reducing my goal to 75, I won't be scared off reading longer novels - and I do plan to squeeze in some non-fiction as well too.

How are your reading goals for 2013 different from years past?

Books Read in 2013

For latest updates check out my Goodreads reading challenge progress for 2013

Total so far:


YA Fiction (* indicates debut)

*Hooked by Liz Fichera
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist
*Taken by Erin Bowman
*The Madman's Daughter by Megan Sheperd
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
*In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
*The Culling by Steven Dos Santos
Stung by Bethany Wiggins
Elemental by Antony John

The Program by Susanne Young
The Loop by Shandy Lawson
*Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
September Girls by Bennett Madison
*Pivot Point by Kasie West
The Rules by Stacey Kade
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
*After Eden by Helen Douglas
*Reboot by Amy Tintera

*Parallel by Lauren Miller
The Originals by Cat Patrick
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
*Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood
*Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland
*All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin
Abandon by Elana Johnson

Proxy by Alex London
*In the After by Demitria Lunetta
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Tandem by Anna Jarzab
In Time by Alexandra Bracken
*Coda by Emma Trevayne
Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell
3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy
Half Lives by Sara Grant

*These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
*Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
*Loop by Karen Akins
*Relativity by Cristin Bishara
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Dollar
*Burn Out by Kristi Helvig
Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (reread)
Champion by Marie Lu
Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
Return to Sender by Julie Cross
Return to You by Julie Cross
*Control by Lydia Kang
Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston
*Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
*Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

Since You Asked by Maurene Goo (Currently reading)

*Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman
Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart (reread)
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

MG Fiction
*The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke
*Parched by Melanie Crowder

Is Everyone Hanging out without me? by Mindy Kaling
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (audio)