Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for spring 2023

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about our spring 2023 reading plans. So many exciting new books to choose from!

Here are 10 books I’m especially looking forward to this spring:

  1. The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelley Armstrong
  2. Said No One Ever by Stephanie Eding
  3. Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
  4. Not the Ones Dead by Dana Stabenow
  5. In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
  6. Happy Place by Emily Henry
  7. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
  8. To Swoon and To Spar by Martha Waters
  9. Infinity Gate by M. R. Carey
  10. Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

What books will you be reading this spring? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was SO EXCITED to Get, but Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books I Was SO EXCITED to Get, but Still Haven’t Read. I have plenty of these! (Don’t we all?)

To keep it simple, I went back through my preorder spreadsheet (yes, I keep track of my book orders via an Excel spreadsheet!), and discovered plenty of books that I ordered well in advance of the release date… and still haven’t gotten around to reading. Sigh…

I only went back through my last 4 – 5 years of book buying — I’m sure I have plenty of older books that would fit this list too!

My top 10 books (and the year each was purchased) are:

  1. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (2018)
  2. Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness (2018)
  3. Someday by David Levithan (2018
  4. Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow (2018)
  5. The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (2019)
  6. The Five by Hallie Rubenhold (2020)
  7. When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey (2020)
  8. Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister (2020)
  9. Ambush or Adore by Gail Carriger (2021)
  10. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (2022)

What books made your list this week? Are there any on my list that you think I should read ASAP?

Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for spring 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about our spring 2022 reading plans. So many exciting new books to choose from!

Here are 10 books I’m especially looking forward to this spring:

  1. Leviathan Falls (Expanse #9) by James S. A. Corey
  2. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
  3. Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
  4. The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian
  5. The Emma Project by Sonali Dev
  6. Reputation by Lex Croucher
  7. To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters
  8. The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
  9. Spear by Nicola Griffith
  10. Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

What books will you be reading this spring? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for spring 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about our spring 2021 reading plans. So many great books to look forward to! Here are ten I’m especially excited for:

1) Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs: The 6th book in the Alpha & Omega series. Releases today — can’t wait to get started!

2) There There by Tommy Orange: A book group selection for this spring.

3) The Fall of Koli by M. R. Carey: The final book in the trilogy. I loved the first two — so excited for the conclusion!

4) Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock: A new collection of connected stories set in Alaska, by the author of The Smell of Other People’s Houses (one of my favorite books!).

5) The Lighth of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner: I loved her debut novel, The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

6) Maggie Finds Her Muse by Dee Ernst: Looks like a sweet contemporary romance!

7) The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I’m so looking forward to reading more by this author.

8) The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser: A bookshop? In Scotland? Yes, please!

9) The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory: Sounds too weird and amazing to miss.

10) One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: The upcoming new release from the author of Red, White & Royal Blue. This one sounds just as sweet and adorable.

What books will you be reading this spring? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books on my TBR list for spring 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about our spring reading plans. So many great books to look forward to! Here are ten I’m especially excited for:

1) The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

2) Defy or Defend (Delightfully Deadly, #2) by Gail Carriger

3) The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey

4) Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

5) Devolution by Max Brooks

6) Beach Read by Emily Henry

7) 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

8) The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

9) Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman

10) The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

What books will you be reading this spring? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

Going a little preorder crazy

I’ve been showing remarkable restraint when it comes to book buying — but no more. I broke down today and pre-ordered three upcoming 2018 releases that I need in my hands NOW. Unfortunately, we all must wait for these… but aren’t they exciting?

First up, Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness – to be released September 25, 2018:

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

AAAAAAAAAH! It’s a new All Souls book! Here’s a bit of synopsis, as shared on Entertainment Weekly:

Harkness’ next novel will be Time’s Convert, EW can exclusively announce, which is set in the same universe as her best-selling All Souls trilogy and takes place in contemporary London and Paris, as well as the American colonies of Revolutionary War times, in its bridging of past and present.

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life, free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply-held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

The narrative jumps forward to the present, too, in its exploration of vampires and immortality. Overall, Time’s Convert emerges as both a love story and a meditation on tradition and change.

Also in the world of All Souls, there’s a new reference book coming out in May (which I will definitely need before diving into the new novel, unless I decide to do a series reread between now and September):

The World of All Souls: A Complete Guide to A Discover of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life will be released May 8, 2018.

A fully illustrated guide to Deborah Harkness’s #1 New York Times bestselling All Souls trilogy–“an irresistible . . . wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy” (People)

A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Shadow of Night and The Book of Life carried Deborah Harkness’s series to its spellbinding conclusion.

In The World of All Souls, Harkness shares the rich sources of inspiration behind her bewitching novels. She draws together synopses, character bios, maps, recipes, and even the science behind creatures, magic, and alchemy–all with her signature historian’s touch. Bursting with fascinating facts and dazzling artwork, this essential handbook is a must-have for longtime fans and eager newcomers alike.

And finally, my third preorder today — from a completely different fictional world and genre — is an upcoming sequel to Every Day by David Levithan:

Someday will be released October 2, 2018. Click here to read an excerpt via Entertainment Weekly. How excited are we??? (And don’t forget, the movie version of Every Day will be here later this month! )

I almost added a 4th preorder to my cart today, but held back at the last moment:

The Outsider by Stephen King will be released May 22, 2018 — and I definitely plan to read it, but I’m not sure I need to own it. I’ve been burned by King books before. I either love them or fall squarely on “meh”, and if this happens to be a “meh”, I’ll regret having spent money on a hardcover. So as much as I want to read The Outsider, I may just wait and get on my library’s request list. (Or, who knows? I may break down and preorder it yet. May is a long time from now — anything can happen!)

I’m so excited for my preorders! Are any of these on your WANT list?

My next can’t-wait book: Belleweather by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley shared this on Facebook today, and my heart skipped a beat!

This is the Canadian cover — US version still to come — but I’m just head over heels with the gorgeousness of it all. I love Susanna Kearsley’s books, and can’t wait to get my hands on Belleweather!

Here’s the synopsis, as shared on Facebook:

Some houses want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies held by Britain and France into the conflict.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply fractured by war. Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her family, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. Jean-Philippe de Sabran—a French Canadian lieutenant—has little desire to be there. But by war’s end, they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that aren’t easily broken.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island as curator of the Wilde House Museum. Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she delves into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not tell the whole story . . . or the whole truth.

The book is available now for preorder via Amazon Canada, with a release date of April 24th. Sadly, the US release isn’t until October 2nd, 2018. How will I wait that long?


For more on books by Susanna Kearsley, check out my reviews of:
A Desperate Fortune
The Firebird

Named of the Dragon
Season of Storms
The Shadowy Horses
The Splendour Falls




Another can’t-wait book: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

How did I not know about this sooner? Elizabeth Wein, author of the beautiful, powerful Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, has a new book coming out in May! The Pearl Thief centers on a main character from Code Name Verity at an earlier point in her life:

US cover

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.

UK cover

Who else is excited???

My next can’t-wait book: Odd & True

Cat Winters, whose books I adore, has recently shared the cover and synopsis of her upcoming new release, Odd & True (to be released September 2017). Here’s the cover:


… and here’s the synopsis:

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

For more info, check out the author’s blog post and visit her website,

What do you think? Anyone else bouncing out of their seats with excitement?

I’ve loved all of her books so far, so I can’t wait to get my hands on Odd & True.

Preorder links:


For more on books by Cat Winters, check out my reviews of:
The Uninvited
The Cure For Dreaming
In the Shadow of Blackbirds
The Steep & Thorny Way




The Memory Wall: New release celebration and author Q&A!


There’s a fine line between real life and video games in this engrossing novel that’s part Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird, part Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls.

Severkin is an elf who slinks through the shadows of Wellhall’s spiraling stone towers, plundering ancient ruins and slaying mystical monstrosities with ease.

He’s also a character in a video game—a character that twelve-year-old Nick Reeves plays when he needs a break from the real world. And lately, Nick has really needed a break. His mother had an “incident” at school last year, and her health has taken a turn for the worse.

Nick is convinced his mother’s illness has been misdiagnosed, but no one believes him. His only escape is the online world of Wellhall, where, as the elf character Severkin, he can face any problem. But when Nick finds himself fighting alongside another elf who reminds him of someone he knows in real life, his worlds begin to collide. . . .

I’m so excited to share this sneak peak at The Memory Wall, the upcoming new release by Lev AC Rosen! The Memory Wall will be released September 13, 2016… and I encourage you all to stop right now, open up a new tab in your browser, hit up Amazon or your favorite online bookseller, and hit the preorder button. You can thank me later. (And now come back and finish reading my post!)

The Memory Wall is an unusual, surprising read — aimed at younger teens, but definitely appealing to grown-ups as well. Don’t be deceived by the cover. While the game and fantasy elements of this book are quite important, it’s the real-life Nick and his disintegrating family that are the heart and soul of the story.

For me personally, Nick’s family, school situation, and inner struggles are the most engrossing elements of The Memory Wall, but the in-game portions are equally well-written and have a propulsive energy all their own. As you’ll see from the Q&A below, it amazes me how well certain elements work together — elements that I never in a million years would have expected to fit into one book — but they really do come together in unexpected but really cool ways.

I’m really thrilled to be able to share this Q&A, but let me just add more note: Lev AC Rosen is an amazing writer who deserves much wider acclaim! Not only does he write great kids’ books (see my review of Woundabout here), but he’s also written two of my absolute favorite books for adults, All Men of Genius (which I read before I was a blogger, so no review… but maybe I’ll revisit in a future blog post) and Depth, which is just awesome (review here).

As a side note, I ended up asking Lev a bunch of questions that relate to the fact that I have a 14-year-old son who’s obsessed with video games. Just FYI.

Without further ado, I’m proud to present:

A Q&A with author Lev AC Rosen, author of The Memory Wall

Note: Mild (very mild) spoilers ahead…

Q:  I never would have guessed that Alzheimer’s, gaming, and the Berlin Wall could fit into a single book. Did you set out to write about all three of these elements from the start?

A: I’m a big believer in the idea that every book writes itself differently. Sometimes the whole idea comes to me fully formed, like a seed, and planting it lets that idea grow. Sometimes it’s more like assembling a puzzle from the pieces that are just floating around your mind.  For The Memory Wall, it was the latter – I knew I wanted to do a book about someone playing a video game, and use that as a story-with-a-story format, where the two stories could actually be pulled apart and still stand on their own. But the age group, the characters, the world, the Berlin Wall, Alzheimer’s – those all sort of snapped on, one by one, because they were already floating around in my head as things I wanted to write about.  Maybe puzzle pieces isn’t the right metaphor – maybe it’s more like trying on clothes. I had this body – video game, story-within-story – and I assembled an outfit on it from the clothes in the wardrobe of my brain – and that included Alzheimer’s and the Berlin Wall. The outfit just looked good. And I didn’t start writing until the outfit was assembled, because the outfit is the idea. Before that, it was just disconnected ideas. Once all the pieces were together, I had an idea, and then I started writing. So Alzheimer’s and the Berlin Wall were there from the moment I was typing. But the core was the video game, I guess.

Q: What was your inspiration for The Memory Wall?

A: Well, I just sort of answered the inspiration for the book part – I could talk more about my personal experiences with Alzheimer’s, or this great German film teacher I had in college, but I’m going to talk about those elsewhere and when I first read this question, I thought you were asking about the literal wall in the book, and I really want to answer that version of the question, because it’s not something I’ve been asked: This book is so much about history, and finding ways to preserve history – whether personal, or societal. Nick’s dad writes about Black history. His mom never talks about her own history in East Berlin. His mom is also losing her own history, and that means Nick feels he’s losing his history with her. So I was thinking about history, and the way we map it, and try to remember it – books, photos, dates, family trees. The ways we quantify history. And I wanted Nick, at some point, to (light spoilers) destroy that in some way. I wanted him to tear down the history he felt had been thrust upon him and realize that history – whether personal or societal – is something that changes all the time, depending on who you talk to, how you look at it. Sure, we can write down dates, map our great-great-grandmothers, but history lives in us. In stories, in memories. It’s not carved in stone. So the memory wall, in the book itself, is this sort of literally carved-in-stone family tree. And I’m trying to go spoiler-light here, so I’ll just say that it’s a history that is put upon Severkin, Nick’s in-game avatar. And when he realizes how his history – and everyone’s history, especially his mom’s – is more than names and dates, that it’s something more fluid than that, he gets to literally shatter the stone. That was satisfying. Plus, of course, calling it the memory wall ties into the Alzheimer’s and the Berlin Wall. But the original inspiration was that I wanted a family tree that could be destroyed in some way. Not to say that his history isn’t that, but to say it’s more than that.

Q: Race and identity are important elements for Nick and Nat, and this is also reflected in their in-game characters. What would you hope that kids reading the book would learn from this?

A: I don’t know if I’d say I want kids to learn anything, exactly. There was this article going around a while back, about a study saying that those who read fiction tend to have more empathy. Reading literally puts you in someone else’s head, so you learn how to do that with real people, too. I think of that whenever I’m writing, because that’s important. That books can change the world – and I don’t have many skills, so this is the thing I can do.  But to really expand that empathy, I need to have it, too. As an author, I can’t just write about people like me – I can’t just write about queer Jewish men from NYC. Besides being wildly limiting, it’s also boring, and isn’t what the world looks like. Authors have the responsibility to put themselves into the minds of different people from different backgrounds – and to do so respectfully. Because when we do that, our readers experience it as well. And that’s the important stuff. So, when I knew Nick had to have a background with strong historical elements, one mapped, one hidden, and I knew so much of the book was about duality – secret/exposed histories, game/real world – I decided Nick’s two sides of the family could be two races, as well. Luckily, I have multi-racial friends, and they were willing to talk to me, and give me books and essays to read so that I could explore that perspective as much as someone without it can. What I hope is that kids enjoy the book, and if they’re multi-racial, they see themselves in it, even if Nick isn’t really like them. And if they’re not multi-racial, hopefully they come out of it with a bit more understanding of the perspective of those who are. Which isn’t to say Nick represents all multi-racial people, but just that he is a fully fleshed out person who the kids can get behind.

Q: Were you at all tempted to have Nick’s mother not have Alzheimer’s, proving Nick right?

A: SPOILERS! This is a fantastic question, and yes. So much yes. I actually tried really hard to go in undecided. To be like “this could go either way.” But the more I realized how much Nick’s parents were keeping from him, the more I knew she had to have it. I did lots of research on Alzheimer’s, talked to doctors, and there are lots of things that look like Alzheimer’s – lots of things Nick could hold on to and say “it’s this, and this is so easily curable!” But the doctors can test for most of those. But I needed hope to be vibrant through the entire book. I needed to hope with Nick.

It’s interesting – people who have read it who have had personal experiences with Alzheimer’s – who have lost someone to it – never believe that Sophie has been misdiagnosed. They tell me they experienced so much of what Nick did, but as readers, they never doubt the diagnosis. Those readers who don’t have a personal experience with Alzheimer’s, though, think it’s possible Sophie has been misdiagnosed. So I feel like that’s a good balance to strike.

Q: As far as I know, most kids don’t play video games with their mothers. (Mine doesn’t!) I love this element of Nick’s relationship with his mom, and how their game connection was a part of their real-life connection. (Sorry, this isn’t really a question so far.)

A: I may be dating myself here, but my mom and I played Legend of Zelda on the original NES. I don’t know if she enjoyed it, or if she was just humoring her six year old, but I like to think she had fun. That being said, as I got older, and games got more complex, she didn’t play with me as much. But we both really liked Zelda. I think.

But Sophie, I think, besides wanting to humor her kid, took a real interest in this particular series because it’s supposed to have this background in myth and culture. And as an anthropologist, she could see those roots and point them out to her son, which I think, for her, gave the game more value. Plus, games are fun. I think she had fun, too – it’s just that her fun was colored by her academic background.

Q: I think most adults/parents these days automatically see video games as a waste of time or not healthy for their kids. The Memory Wall shows a lot of positives related to gaming. Do you think there’s a healthy balance? What are the positives you see in gaming for kids?

A: Well, everything in moderation. Sure, too much video gaming is bad. So is too much anything, really.  But do I think gaming is generally a good thing, or at least has the potential to be? Absolutely. When the printing press first made literature easily available, people freaked out about young people reading. It would make them imagine too much. They stopped doing what they were supposed to, like dueling and needlepoint and socializing, and instead had their noses in books all the time. THE  HORROR! Video games are another form of storytelling. Yes, it’s more interactive – button pressing, in game decision making, etc. Those choose your own adventure books had decisions, too, though. And, like with books, there are bad games out there. But generally speaking, games are great. There are stories told in games that can’t be told other ways, and some of those stories are truly beautiful. Can they be violent? Yes. So are movies. So are books. The thing I’d worry most about in video games is the treatment of women and sex. That can sometimes get a bit weird, I think. Women are sexualized (like in movies, TV), but when it becomes about pressing buttons to seduce a woman, that… is a little weird for me, especially if the player is a young man. Women don’t have buttons. Some games do it well. Some don’t. I think as long as you’re raising your kids to have a healthy respect for women and realize that like the violence in games, this “seduction” aspect is pure fantasy and sometimes dehumanizing, then it’s ok. And of course, watch for those game ratings.

But overall, I think games have the potential to have a really positive aspect on kids, by letting them explore worlds much larger than their own. Or just to solve puzzles or get good at button pressing – which isn’t a bad skill to have. For Nick, the game lets him essentially live out his fantasies and then deal with his reality. He gets to go on one last adventure with his mother – he gets to try to save her, and learn about her, and contextualize her in his fantasy world. And then (big spoilers), when it turns out he was living in a fantasy, he gets to punish someone for it. Because, I’d imagine Nick has a lot of anger at his mother by the end of the book. She lied to him. She kept her condition from him. She gave him hope when there wasn’t any. And Nick should feel angry about that, he should want to punish her in some way, but instead he gets to take it out on Reunne, who wasn’t trying to protect him, but was this malicious manipulator, feeding off his hope. And I think kids can do that with games. They can see symbols, see their own life, and in some way, express who they want to be. Sure, the chances of a kid today growing up to be a space marine are slim, but that kid gets to experience what that version of herself is. And hopefully, there are things she likes about that version of herself and can then work on bringing into her real self. Games can be empowering for kids in that way. And that goes for everything – space marines, or fashion designers on iPhone games.

Q: Do you feel the positives/negatives change based on the kind of game (i.e., role-playing fantasy vs first-person shooter games)?

A: It’s funny you use those two genres as examples because there’s such overlap between them now. I think genre does influence the scope of the game, and games with bigger scopes are often more interesting (though not always). Fighting games, for instance, give you one way of interacting in the world – you fight.  You push buttons, your avatar kicks, punches, etc. But the choice is always fight. A larger open world RPG, like the one Nick plays, or like Skyrim or Fallout, gives you more ways to interact – talk someone out of violence instead of fighting them, collecting items for someone so they won’t die, etc. So I think those games tend to have more positives because they offer a larger scope. Each genre has it’s own plusses and minuses, though. Japanese style RPGs, for example, which aren’t open world, and more streamlined, tend to play more like a movie with tactical fighting interludes – not many choices in those, either. And plenty of shooting games these days have massive online battle zones. That’s more like a big game of laser tag, to me. Other games are like really complex games of chess. But I do think that games with more choice and more things you can do within the world tend to have more value just because choice means more figuring out what you’d choose. And figuring out what you’d choose – being able to experiment with it and see the consequence, being able to do something really awful, just to experience it – that’s the good stuff in gaming, I think.

Q: Are you a gamer? Were you a gamer during your school years? And if so, any favorites? Anything that you particularly took from your gaming experiences as a kid?

A: Yes, and yes. When I was a kid, my favorite game was Final Fantasy 3 (6, really, but they called it 3 when they released it in the US).  I LOVED that game. It’s an amazing, epic story. My friend Liz and I wrote fan fiction about that game. Man I loved it. Still do. Great game. It was also one of my first experiences with Steampunk, so it was a big influence for All Men of Genius.

I think my modern favorite would be Bioshock, though. That is a brilliant story, too, beautifully done, so smart. It’s a shooter with RPG elements – and they’re remastering it for the PS4. Out soon, I think. If your son hasn’t played it, that would be a great one to get and be like “okay, I get to watch you play this because I hear it’s amazing.” That’s something parents are allowed to do, right? It’s just so smart, and has ties to US history and philosophy, like the game in The Memory Wall has ties to East Berlin. It was a game that really showed me how history can work in games, how games can relate to the real world and interact with them.

And Portal! While we’re on recommendations to watch your kid play, or even, in the case of Portal 2, play with them, I highly recommend Portal, which is a puzzle game that looks like a shooter. It’s really smart and funny. There are a lot of great games out these days. Lots of bad ones, too – that’s what happens when there’s more of anything, you get more bad, too, but lots of good ones. Plenty for tablets and phone, too. I loved Transistor. Beautiful piece of art. There’s so much good stuff out there. I could go on for ages.

Q: You’ve written books for adults and for kids. Do you prefer one or the other? What do you enjoy about each? Is your process different for adult vs kid books?

A: I don’t know. I don’t really think of them that way. I mean, I know the age of the kid I’m writing for, but I’m pretty much always writing for me.  Maybe 8 year old Lev, like for Woundabout, or 11 year old Lev, like Memory Wall, or 22 year old Lev, like All Men of Genius, or present-day Lev, like Depth, but I’m always writing for myself, somewhere on the spectrum. Like I said, I’m a big believer in the idea that every book writes itself differently, so it’s not so much about “writing for children” or “writing for adults” – it’s writing this book. That’s how I think about it. And the process, and what I enjoy varies depending on the sort of book it is.  For The Memory Wall I think I really enjoyed crafting the world of the game by using various influences based in East Berlin and Germanic myth. That was a fun. And I really liked being able to express Nick through Severkin. Using his avatar as a way to say things about him that maybe he couldn’t acknowledge about himself.

Q: Can you share a little about your next project or projects? Any chance we might still see a sequel to All Men of Genius or Depth? (I can’t get the images of a drowned New York out of my mind – please tell me there’s more coming set in this world!)

A: I’m a bit of a busy bee, flitting from flower to flower. I don’t stay in my lane long enough to do sequels much. All Men of Genius I had never intended one for, and then folks wanted one, and I tried my hand at it, but it didn’t feel right. Depth I’m more open to exploring sequels for because I had more of “mystery series” mindset going in. But sales aren’t really justifying it, plus my amazing editor left that imprint and I don’t know anyone else there. But I have been thinking of maybe writing a sequel and self-publishing it, just to see what that experience is like. But those are on the back burner. I have other projects right now – a too-long-to-be-a-short-story that’s sort of Greek Myth Noir. I’m trying to find a place for that, but it’s like “novelette” length, which is weird, and anything not a novel is outside my comfort zone, too. But I like it, and I need to do research on people who publish that length.  Or maybe that could be the self-publishing experiment. Then I have two finished drafts of books. Both YA. One is a fairy tale retelling, and a lot of fun, and the other is a contemporary sci-fi spy story about motherhood. We’re still putting together lists of editors to send those to. We’ll see what happens, but fingers crossed. And I’ve just started a period 1940s noir. That’s for adults. It’s… stranger than it sounds. Maybe? I’m sort of all over the place, like I said. Which I love about myself, even if it hurts my overall career. But sometimes I can get people to read something outside their usual zone, and that’s pretty awesome. That’s a good feeling.

Q: Are you sure I’m not a bad mother if I let my 14-year-old play Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty?

A: Well, with no other evidence, it’s hard to say. But if you’re worrying about it, and talking to him about it, probably not.

But seriously, if he has a PS4, go get the Bioshock Collection remaster that’s coming out the same day as my book. Sit him down and be like “I’ve heard this is amazing, but I’m awful at video games. Want to help me experience it?” and see what happens. The first one in the collection is really fantastic. The other two are good, too, but that first one. Yeah. Play Bioshock with your kid. That’ll definitely make up for any bad parenting.  😉

I can’t thank Lev enough for taking the time to answer my loooong list of questions!! Thank you, Lev — it’s a pleasure to have you here as a guest at Bookshelf Fantasies. Wishing you the best of luck with the release of The Memory Wall.

The Memory Wall will be released September 13th. Go get yourself a copy!

Available at:

Barnes & Noble

To learn more about author Lev AC Rosen, visit his website at


The details:

Title: The Memory Wall
Author: Lev AC Rosen
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 13, 2016
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Middle grade/young adult
Source: Review copy courtesy of the author