Life as a Publicist (Update 1)

The first book I’m doing for Spence City is Elements of Mind by Walter H. Hunt.

Elements of Mind

Summary (from Amazon):

“In Victorian India, a Scottish doctor, Dr. James Esdaile, finds a way to use the power of mesmerism to aid him in performing surgeries, using a remarkable artifact that enhances his abilities. The revocation of the promise to bring the artifact to Rev. William Davey, the head of the secret Committee of English mesmerists leads him to commit suicide in the center of the Crystal Palace…but that is only the beginning of the story. Davey’s pursuit of the object leads him across two continents, unfolding the story that has its origins two decades before – and reveals the secret world of the -chthonoi-, the elemental spirits that were banished from human lands in antiquity, and now want to find a way to open the Glass Door and reassert themselves in the world of men.”

This is so great and so incredibly creepy.  I can’t wait for this book to be released and for people to get to read it.

The best/worst part is that many parts of this book are real. That statue? The object that is at the heart of all the problems?  That’s real.  (Ask Walter; he’ll tell you ALL ABOUT IT.  Even if you don’t want to know because you like being able to sleep at night.)  ;)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.”

I am very late to the Neil Gaiman party.  I’ve only read one other book of his (The Graveyard Book, maybe?) which I enjoyed but was not OH MY GOD NEIL GAIMAN IS THE BEST WRITER EVER EVER EVER about.

I loved this one much more.

It’s very short (I think it would still count as a novella, even though it’s almost 200 pages) but I’m glad it was as short as it was.  It was perfect and nothing about it felt drawn out or belabored.

I overidentified with the narrator (whose name we never learn).  I was also overfond of books as a child (and as an adult) and I absolutely understand how he found his refuge there, especially when confronted with this he didn’t like.

Ursula Monkton is one of the creepiest villains EVER.  I don’t want to say too much about her in case you haven’t read this—and you should if you haven’t already—but she creeped me out so much.

Highly recommended.

Confessions of a Planner

So as you may or may not have guessed, I’m an absolute planner.

Last year, I had my first Books to Watch For feature and I plan to do it again this year.  I’ll be doing it a little bit differently, obviously.  I’m thinking about half of the books will be Spencer Hill titles (various imprints) because (a) that’s where I’m working and (b) they have some amazing books coming out next year.

I’ll also be focusing on other books and have already gotten some great people lined up.  It may have to start in November.

(What? I have two jobs and a blog. This feature isn’t going to create itself.  If I leave it to the last minute, things could fall apart.)

This is also stretching into my second job.  (With the first job, the TV job, I obviously can’t do much planning beyond vacation days.  News is plan-proof.)  But ask me what I’m doing for the July release and the October release? I can absolutely tell you.  I can tell you what’s been done and what still needs to be done.

(It doesn’t hurt that I’m doing BEA and ALA this year, which means that there will be about a month–when the vacation days are all added up, which  is actually about a month and a half or so, so right on top of each other practically—where I’m not going to be as easy to reach as I tend to be.  BEA is going to be easier than ALA, but it’s not going to be great.)

So anyway, I’m doing my best to get everything squared away now, so that when I’m fairly off the grid for late spring and early summer, it won’t be a problem.  I hope.  (Thank you, smart phone.)

The Stag Lord cover reveal

Stag Lord full jacket

This is the front and back of The Stag Lord (out in late October) by Darby Karchut, writing as Darby Kaye.  Darby’s been one of my favorite authors for years now and I’m so excited for everyone to get to read this book.  I believe it’s her best yet, and that’s not just because I’m the publicist for it (!!!!!!).

Jacket copy:

“On the run across America from a vengeful shape-shifter, Bannerman ‘Bann’ Boru has only one thing on his mind: keeping himself and his young son, Cor, alive.

At any cost.

Until he meets Shay Doyle, healer and member of a secret group of immortal Celtic warriors, the Tuatha De Danaan, living in modern-day Colorado. When Cor is injured, Bannerman is forced to accept her help. He quickly realizes the golden-haired healer is shield maiden tough and can hold her own on the field of battle with the big boys. And Shay soon discovers that there is more to Bann than meets the eye.

Now, with the shape-shifter Cernunnos teaming up with the local pack of Fir Bolgs (Bronze Age creatures with a nasty taste for children), Bannerman, Shay, her wolf-dog Max and the rest of the Doyle clan must figure out how to battle one insane god.”

This book is highly, highly recommended.  And again, how stunning is that cover?  (Designed by Errick Nunnally.)

The Ninja Librarians

Finished The Ninja Librarians by Jen Swann Downey.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians.

Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor’s closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch’s Library -the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.

Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?”

This book is absolutely charming.  It’s definitely middlegrade and not YA; it’s the kind of story I could picture my elementary school English teacher reading to us.

I loved the concept of this story, although it definitely was a lot too young for me.  (This isn’t a criticism; it’s a byproduct of being probably 25 years too old for this book.  I’m not the target audience.  I would be willing to bet that the readers this story IS intended for—my goddaughter and godson, say—will absolutely adore this sweet, fun, action-packed story.)

Highly recommended for MG readers.

A Whisper in Time Blog Hop

I’m happy to provide an excerpt from A Whisper in Time by Elizabeth Langston, out April 8.  This is published by Spencer Hill (this is not a book I worked on—unfortunately, because I can’t wait to read this and its predecessor, Whisper Falls).

Susanna relaxed against me on the couch. “Did you enjoy last night with your friends?”

I didn’t want to talk about that right now. Not when we were together and in sync. But she’d asked and it would be a bigger deal to refuse than to answer the minimum. “The football game wasn’t very exciting, but we won by a lot, which makes it fun. Afterward, I went out with my friends to get ice cream.”

“What are their names?”

“Jesse, Benita, and Gabrielle.”

“Have you known them long?”

“I’ve known Jesse since our freshman year. Benita is Jesse’s girlfriend. I only met her a few days ago. And this is
Gabrielle’s first semester at Neuse Academy.”

“Is Gabrielle special?”

I stiffened. “What kind of question is that?”

“Your voice was different for her than the other two.” She shifted until our gazes met.

“For one thing, Jesse and Benita are a couple. For another, Gabrielle is a celebrity.”

“What is a celebrity?”

“A famous person. She’s a movie star.”

“On the TV?”

I smiled. It was a technology we’d introduced early to Susanna. “Gabrielle’s films go to movie theaters first.”

“Is she talented?”

“Gabrielle is, but a movie star doesn’t have to be talented to be a celebrity.”

“That sounds like politicians. They can be evil or honorable, but we know about them just the same.”


Her head dropped back to my shoulder. I could feel the tension bunching up inside her.

“Mark, why is this topic difficult for us to discuss?”

I swallowed a curse word. If I ignored her question, would it go away?

Nah, probably not. I had to admit the truth, because she’d be able to tell if I didn’t. “I had a lot of fun, and you weren’t there.”

“Do you think I begrudge your evening away?”

“Of course not. It’s just…” I didn’t want to say anymore. Why did she keep asking? “I was out last night with two
gorgeous girls, and neither of them was you.”

She looked up at me, wide-eyed. “Should I be jealous?”

“No.” The whole thing made me feel guilty, and I didn’t know why.

“Do you love me?”

The question gnawed at my gut. Why had she asked that? To reassure herself or to remind me? “Forever.”

“We would share a peculiar sort of love if it could not survive conversations with other young ladies.” Her lips
pressed to my cheek, close to my ear. “Do as you want with your friends,” she whispered, “as long as you return to me.”

“Susanna. How can you be so perfect?” I sought her mouth with mine and kissed her thoroughly, proper boundaries be damned.

The Boy on the Bridge

Finished The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A new breathtaking novel from Natalie Standiford about love and trust during the Cold War.

Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia–a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she’s been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches–when Laura must return to the United States–Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She’s only nineteen and doesn’t think she’s ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn’t she take it?”

This book is so different from Natalie Standiford’s other novels.  It’s not particularly sweet or fluffy or fun.  (It is, however, extremely well-written, which IS like her other novels.)

It’s partially autobiographical and is set during the Cold War.  A college student is studying abroad in Russia for a semester and she’s cautioned about spending time with the locals, because many of them will try and forge a relationship with Americans in the hopes of marrying them for a green card.  (There’s also the fact that they could each get in serious trouble for it.)

But, of course, Laura ends up meeting a boy.  Alexei is different from any guy she’s ever known and she’s certain that their relationship is the real thing…except if the only way for them to stay together is to get married, what exactly does that mean for their future?

This is such a great book and it only reminds me why I love Natalie Standiford’s books so much.  Recommended.

Sleeping Jenny Cover Reveal



As the daughter of multimillionaires, Jennifer has everything she’s ever needed, except time. Diagnosed with a form of incurable cancer, she has only months to live, and her dreams of working for National Geographic to save African elephants and polar bears are shattered. Her only hope is an experimental cryogenic freezing program, which will keep her in stasis until doctors can find a cure. The cure comes three hundred years too late, and she wakes to a futuristic world where animals are all but forgotten.

Descendants of her brother adopt her, and she’s thrown back into high school. Exara, the class beauty, calls Jenny the Neanderthal girl, and she becomes more of a sideshow than a member of the senior class. Only Exara’s gorgeous boyfriend, Maxim sympathizes with her. Her developing feelings for Maxim are only the beginning of her problems. There aren’t any more animals to save, so Jenny involves herself with a rebel group called the Timesurfers, explorers searching the galaxy for another planet to inhabit to clone long-dead animal species. Soon, she must choose between her blossoming feelings for Maxim and her lifelong dream.

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Aubrie grew up watching the original Star Wars movies over and over again until she could recite and reenact every single scene in her backyard. She also loved The Goonies, Star Trek the Next Generation-favorite character was Data by far-, and Indiana Jones. But, her all time favorite movie was The Last Unicorn. She still wonders why the unicorn decided to change back to a unicorn in the end.

Aubrie wrote in her junior high yearbook that she wanted to be “A concert flutist” when she grew up. When she made that happen, she decided one career was not enough and embarked as a fantasy, sci fi author. Two careers seems to keep her busy. For now.

Best Of The Year (So Far)

I hope to remember to do this on a fairly regular basis (maybe every three months or so?).  Anyway, here are the best books I’ve read this year (so far).  To be counted, it has to be a book that I’ve read this year and one that you can currently buy on the shelves.

1)  Archetype by M.D. Waters.  SO AMAZING.

2)  RecruitZ by Katrice Bolton.  What happens after the zombie apocalypse?

3)  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Historical fiction.

4)  After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman.  Her books are my favorites.

5)  Half Bad by Sally Green.  Fun YA.

6)  Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington.  More fun YA (this one is creepier).

7)  The Memory Child by Steena Holmes.  Absolutely unexpected.

8)  The Bear by Claire Cameron.  For fans of Room (and not for fans of camping).

9)  The Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook.  I’ve loved all her books; this one is my favorite.

Have you read any of these?


Finished #16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue by Janet Gurtler. I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan’s mom gets sick, it’s hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn’t as far away as she thought…

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan’s getting to know the real Adam, and he’s actually pretty sweet…in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She’s not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend…and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can’t imagine living without.”

Oh, you guys, I was not prepared for this book.

Things I thought were true: this would be a fun road trip story and probably also a sweet story about Morgan and Adam falling for each other.

It’s not that this isn’t accurate; it’s more that this is not ALL the book is.

Morgan is a complicated character.  There’s a lot of angst there and she likes to test people.  (Well, she may not LIKE it, per se, but she does it a lot.)  I can see how she may not be the easiest character to love, but I certainly felt for her.  Her burgeoning relationships with her dad and especially with Amy and Adam seem to be one step forward and about 10 steps back.  The problem, of course, is with Morgan. She’s so determined to not get hurt that she basically lives her entire life online, via Twitter.

And I get it.  It’s hard to mess up in 140 characters or less.

This book will make you cry, but not as much as it’ll make you laugh.

Highly recommended.