Category Archives: Uncategorized

Go Set a Watchman

Finished Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.”

Okay.  So this will be a non-traditional review.  First, we will take as read the following arguments and statements:

1)  The publishing of this book is ethically murky, at best.  We all know that Harper Lee was adamant that she wouldn’t publish another book.  She reportedly now has dementia and is essentially blind and deaf after a stroke.  Recently-ish, her sister—who was very protective of her and her literary legacy—died and three months after that, this book was “found” and was fast-tracked to a release date.

2)  It is not a secret that the book was unedited and so it definitely reads like a rough draft.  It’s not bad—it’s very entertaining, actually, and there are some really beautiful parts—but it definitely could’ve used polishing.

3)  We learn that Atticus is not perfect and it’s sad.

So yes.  I went into this with my eyes wide open.  I’ll also admit that my expectations were very low.  I’ve read books on their way to publication, and I know that early drafts are generally…well, not horrible, per se, but typically very far from the finished version.

And I ended up enjoying it a great deal.

Before we get into the heavy stuff, let me mention this: we get more childhood stories from Scout, and they are completely delightful.  For that alone, I was so happy I ended up taking a chance on Go Set a Watchman.

There’s also a lot to be said about the experience of leaving your hometown and then returning home as an adult.  This place that used to be your entire world is now really small, and the people in it seem…well, small too.  And it’s not that you don’t love your old place and the people you’ve known forever, but it makes you feel stifled.  And also like a jerk for noticing it.

But enough about this, right? You want to get to the part where Atticus is a racist.

This works best as a sort of primer on how to deal with the fact that people you love aren’t perfect.  Like Scout, I was horrified essentially to the point of feeling personally betrayed at learning that Atticus had these horrible thoughts about integration.  (Although I also tried very hard to remember that this was written literally 60 years ago and that our culture is in a very different place now—fortunately—and that if he were magically alive now, he would probably be horrified at how he used to think.)

But the most interesting part, for me, is that all the outrage has focused on how Atticus is racist.  I haven’t seen anyone say that Scout is also racist.  (Doesn’t mean that no one did; I experienced GSAW fatigue and stopped reading the hand-wringing reviews fairly early on.)

Atticus’ racism is very in your face.  He is against integration and attended a KKK meeting (literally one) and another “council meeting” that seems pretty KKK-y to me but is not actually the Klan. But Scout’s is different.  It’s the insidious racism that generally isn’t mentioned.  They agree in conversation that African-Americans are much “simpler” than white people are, but Scout continues to insist that they’re human, as though that acknowledgement keeps the other things she said (which essentially could be boiled down to, “Well, they’re dumber than I am, bless their hearts”) and incidentally, Atticus never acts like they’re not human;  his stance is more “they’re just different and they need to stay over there.”

This book could open up a lot of really good conversations about racism, except the people who need to read it never will because the idea of otherwise good people having major flaws could lead to the thought that maybe they also have prejudices that may need to be confronted.  These are talks we need to have, but probably never will.

I’m a reader and I’ve loved Atticus and Scout for half my life.  And I spent a day with my old friends and learned new things about them.  Some of those things made me sad, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.  But I still love them both, and I loved this book for that.

And for those of you who are afraid…remember Phantom Menace?  And Godfather 3? Did it make you hate the earlier movies?  No.  Because you can tell the difference between them.

Fractured (AND GIVEAWAY!)

25692042

Blurb:

FRACTURED, Book 1.2 in The VISION SERIES

Bobby’s a hick who sees visions. Jeremy’s a smartass who sees dead people. Together, they have a weekend to stop a murderer…if they don’t kill each other first. Sparks fly when the worlds of Lisa Amowitz’s BREAKING GLASS and VISION collide.

Click here to enter the giveaway (good luck!).

Excerpt:

“Hey. You were the kid that played with that amazing redhead. Not bad, man. Not bad.”

“Um, thanks.”

“Not from around here, are you?”

“No. I mean, I’m not, really.”

The guy smiled and extended a hand. “Sorry. Just a little cranky tonight. I came in this morning on an epic bus ride from Duke just to see my girlfriend and she’s stuck in a study group with a bunch of other assholes. Oh. I’m Jeremy Glass.” He lowered himself on the bench next to me and massaged his leg. “Too much walking today. Damn.”

I tried to keep my eyes from going wide as the guy lifted the cuff of his black jeans. Instead of an actual leg there was only a hydraulic metal pole.

Jeremy Glass looked at me and smiled. “Veronica’s been sticking a little lately. I think I’ll have to bring her back to the shop. What’s your name?”

I glanced from his face to the metal leg. “Bobby. Bobby Pendell,” I choked out. It wasn’t the leg. It was just hard to breathe around him, like he was sucking up my share of the oxygen.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know how Jeremy Glass had lost that leg, though I was pretty sure he’d be happy to tell me. I thought about bolting back inside the club, but that would be rude.

Instead, Glass said breezily, “You were awesome, dude. Where’d you learn to play guitar and sing like that? Man, all I can do is run.”

I bit back on the obvious response. How could a guy with a fake leg run?

Glass laughed. “Ha! Most people are too polite to ask, but I’m not shy about it. I was a sprinter. Fastest in my school. Until—well, until the accident. But now I’ve got a Teflon blade and I’m the fastest on the team. Technology is awesome, huh?”

I cleared my throat. Something about this guy was making my skin crawl. Maybe it was his fast talking. Or the way his eyes twinkled but looked steely and cunning all at the same time. I felt like he was silently laughing at me. Like his brain worked two and a half times faster than mine did. He eyed me with one eyebrow raised, as if he didn’t actually expect a response.

“Um, it was nice to meet you. But I really should be getting back inside,” I said, and finally got up to leave.

Glass stared calmly back at me. “Who’s your friend, then?”

A shiver rolled up my spine. I had to get away. Ever since my last brush with Agent Maura Reston on the Scratch Lake dock, I’d had the distinct feeling I was being watched. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but this guy seemed to be probing me for something.

“What friend?”

His gaze shifted over my left shoulder. “That guy.”

The blood froze in my veins. I pivoted and saw a brief white flicker, a disruption, then empty air.

Glass laughed. “Yeah. You’ve got to learn to ignore them. They’re everywhere.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

Glass’s smile vanished. “I don’t like it any more than you do. But I can always tell when I meet someone like me.”

“Like you?” I backed away toward the club entrance, cold sweat trickling from my scalp down the back of my neck.

“You can see them, too. Things no one else can.”

He pressed a card into my hand. My mouth went dry. The sidewalk tilted. I pressed my palm to the glass of the club window to steady myself.

I didn’t have to look down to know what it said.

He’d seen the thing that I’d seen. He was like me.

He was working with Agent Reston and her paranormal goon squad.

Buy links:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Book-Vision-Lisa-Amowitz-ebook/dp/B00YCX9Q4C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433109171&sr=8-1&keywords=Fractured+Lisa+amowitz

Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fractured-lisa-amowitz/1122004235?ean=2940151302081

#LoveWins

It’s been an interesting few days for me.

First, obviously, there’s been so much joy at the fact that gay marriage is legal nationwide now.  There’s a lot of feelings that goes along with that—especially the fact that so many of my friends (who tend to be straight) were celebrating with me.

And then there was the realization that some people—who I actually would have considered real friends and not just “Facebook friends” or acquaintances—really didn’t.  And it’s funny how hurt by that I was.  (Because I actually really was hurt; it’s painful to realize “I think this person is a friend; this person thinks that I am someone who doesn’t deserve equal rights.”)

So there was a lot of crying Friday (the good kind, because yay! marriage for everyone!) and then a lot of crying yesterday (the good kind, because SO MANY RAINBOWS on Facebook and then the bad kind, because hey, that friend I thought I had? NOT SO MUCH) and so far I haven’t cried today, but we’ll see. :)

I don’t know how to explain any of it so people can understand.  I mean, picture people saying that they thought Christians shouldn’t get married or that divorced people shouldn’t ever be able to remarry or, I don’t know, any one of a dozen other prejudiced, stupid things.

So I don’t know.  But I do think that, while I pride myself on being able to get along with anyone, pretty much, I think my baseline for friendship is “Considers me to be an equal citizen, as opposed to a weird, less-than person.”  That’s not asking too much, right?

But anyway, most of the tears yesterday came because I saw so many of my friends’ profile pictures were rainbow versions of themselves.  And so many more of them did it after I said that it would mean a lot to me, personally, if they would do it. (I don’t know if you notice but most of the Christian voices heard over the weekend were, shall we say, less than inclusive?  And that gives Christians a horrible name, in my opinion.  Jesus loved everyone and died for everyone, which is something a lot of those Christians seem to forget.)  And I feel so humbled by that, I can’t even tell you.  So while I may have lost some people I thought were friends, I learned that (a) most of my friends are exactly who I thought they were and (b) I have a lot more friends that I didn’t even realize I had.

So yeah, big weekend.  And while some people are angry and some people are scared, most everyone I know is really, really happy.  Which illustrates perfectly the fact that love will defeat anger and hate and fear every time.

Date With a Rock Star (Excerpt)

Date-Rockstar High Res

Title: Date With a Rockstar (Click here for a chance to win a copy!)

Author: Sarah Gagnon

Release Date: June 23, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Synopsis: Only one girl will win the cash prize…and a chance at love with Jeremy Bane.

Monet isn’t just another lust-struck teenager trying to win the heart of Rock God Jeremy Bane–she needs the prize money from his new reality show to cure her illness.

Monet has Fluxem, a contagious disease that’s spread through saliva. It’s completely curable if you have enough money, which she and her single mother don’t. Now that she’s on the show, Monet has to work harder to keep her Fluxem hidden. She only has to keep the secret long enough to woo Jeremy Bane so he picks her as the winner. She doesn’t even care about the love part; the prize alone will change her life.

But the real Jeremy Bane is nothing like she imagined. Monet finds herself fighting against feelings that make her want to give in to her attraction and Jeremy’s attempts for a kiss. The further she goes in the competition, the more impossible it becomes to resist him–and when the producers turn the tables and start digging up dirt on the contestants, Monet fears her secret will be revealed before she’s ready and ruin everything.

The only way to win Jeremy’s heart is to tell him the truth, but confessing her disease could cost her the competition, the prize money, and him.

EXCERPT:

“There’s a single short beep. “What’s that noi—” Then the room fades to black.

His voice sounds disconnected in the dark. “Even plants need cycles of light and dark to grow properly.”

I did not know that. Without my vision, the smell of ripe fruit and vegetables fills the air. There must be herbs near us. The scent of lemon, mint and lavender fills my senses. Jeremy keeps his hand over mine, barely touching since the lights went out. I wonder if Derek will come and get us, but then I remember there’s no window in the door.

“You’re quiet. Not afraid of the dark, are you?” 
I take a deep breath and weave my fingers with his.

“I’m not afraid.” And in the dark, I can be absolutely certain we’re finally alone. That no one is secretly filming me.

He exhales heavily and his fingers squeeze mine. His other hand reaches around me and lifts my hair away from my face and over my shoulder. I turn my head to him. Do I lean in? Do I open my mouth?

“I can’t even see you.” His hand touches my neck and then cups my cheek. I’m hot all over. The humidity in the room is steaming me to death. Dizziness hits me and I have to remind myself to take a breath.

Any second.”

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22582862-date-with-a-rockstar?from_search=true

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Date-Rockstar-Sarah-Gagnon/dp/1939392586/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1434211924&sr=8-1&keywords=Sarah+Gagnon

Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/date-with-a-rockstar-sarah-gagnon/1120381388?ean=9781939392589

IndieBound link: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781939392589

The Book Depository link: http://www.bookdepository.com/Date-with-Rockstar-Sarah-Gagnon/9781939392589

Kobo link: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Date-With-A-Rockstar/book-tJ7Don30PU68cN4eP9z93g/page1.html?s=Sy7HGIK2NEGhPp08ZGxJ4g&r=2

Author Bio and social media links:

Author Bio:

Sarah_Gagnon_Author

Sarah Gagnon grew up in the frigid woods of Maine amidst snow and animal skins and has now moved back home. As a small child she wrote ship-wrecked romances all while being stared down by a taxidermied duck.

She has a BFA in photography and a minor in writing from the University of Southern Maine. She’s the mother of two tiny, feral children and two ill-behaved dogs. For fun she’s taken up construction and interior design. Her first project: moving into a dilapidated farmhouse with her computer-genius husband.

Author Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.sarahgagnon.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/fancypantssarah

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/datewitharockstar

 

 

 

BEA recap (late, I know)

So I probably just had my last BEA until 2017 at the earliest.  (It’s in Chicago next year, and I am going to ALA instead, most likely.  Or, to be more specific, I am definitely going to ALA; I may try and swing BEA, as well.)

This was my second BEA as a publicist (although I still attended as a blogger) and I had a great time seeing my Spencer Hill coworkers and my authors, Liza Wiemer and Danielle Ellison.  (I wish I had gotten to see more of both of them, but it’s hard to spend quality time with anyone at BEA, unless you are in lines with them.)

TUESDAY:

This was the day we arrived.  I got in around 4 and met up with my BEA BFF Kathy and her friends at the Teen Author Carnival.  I got a bunch of great books there (especially the new Laila Sales, Tonight the Streets Are Ours, and This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp) and then it was time to head to a nearby-ish hotel for a rooftop party thrown by Hannah and Andye…and my author, Liza.  It was going to be her first signing for HELLO? and I got to pass out the books.  :)  And what Liza didn’t know was that everyone had signed another copy of HELLO? for her to keep.  (There was also a gorgeous HELLO? tote that Becca made.)

WEDNESDAY:

First (half) day of BEA!  I got to sleep in (sort of; I was up by 6:30—thanks, me) and met my Spencer Hill coworker Brooke for breakfast and then on to Javits!  Everyone but me was all, TRUTHWITCH!, and I do wish I had gotten it but that line was insane.  No, no, no.

I got a ton of great books but am most excited for George by Alex Gino, A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher (Les Miserables from Eponine’s perspective!) and Kill the Boy Band by Colby Mondavsky (compared to Heathers; take my money).  I also got The Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa; it’s apparently the literary debut of next year and the author went to school with a former coworker’s brother. :)  So I’m very excited to get to that.

That night, I had dinner with my biological family and then my birth mom and I went to see Phantom of the Opera.  I’ve seen it a bunch of times and, while this wasn’t the best production I’ve seen, it was still an amazing time.  I’m sad that BEA is moving next year; seeing them is the best part of my BEA.

THURSDAY:

First real day of BEA.  I’d said that my major priority was to get the new Rebecca Serle, and I did.  (And I’ve already read it and it’s wonderful.)

Other bookish highlights: The Killing Kind by Chris Holm, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, Until Beth by Lisa Amowitz.

After, Kathy and I got Shake Shack (AMAZING!) and then met with some Spencer Hill people (Meredith, Liza, Jessica, Rich, Cindy and Lisa) and my author friend Selene!  Selene Castrovilla was super awesome and signed copies of Melt for all of us.  I’ve known her for a while on Facebook and have always known her to be an incredibly kind person and an amazing writer, so it was nice to actually get to see her.  Fun fact: she’s also won all these awards for Melt (a medal, which she showed us at dinner, for the IPPYs, and then a trophy from IndieNext over BEA, so I’m so proud of my friend!).

FRIDAY:

Last day.  It was Liza’s first official signing and I got to help with that, but this year editors helped with signings and not publicists.  (sad face)  I was so happy to see that everyone was excited for HELLO? and that we actually ran out of books.  (The only time I rejoice in that, believe me.)

Bookish highlights: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Took by Mary Downing Hahn and Need by Joelle Charbonneau.

I say every year that it’s the highlight of the year and this was no exception.  I got so many amazing books (I left with 50, which sounds like a lot, but I know people who got well over a hundred) and got to see almost everyone I really wanted to.

I’m hoping the rumor that it’ll be in Chicago for the next five years isn’t true.

 

Bone Deep Release Day Blitz

Bone Deep Cover

Title: Bone Deep

Author: Kim O’Brien

Release Date: May 19, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Synopsis: When Paige Patterson travels to Arizona to spend the summer with her archeologist father, she expects answers. Why did her parents divorce? Why did her father choose his career over family? She doesn’t expect to be reunited with her best friend Emily Linton, a girl she has always admired and secretly wanted to emulate, or to find herself falling for the project manager’s son, Jalen Yazzi.

But the summer takes a terrible turn when Emily vanishes. As the police struggle for answers, Paige sets out to find the truth.

The search takes Paige from the Cliffside ruins of prehistoric Native Americans to the Navajo Nation to the horrifying possibility that the answer is much closer to home. Emily, it turns out, was not the only one good at hiding things.

Her father has no alibi for the night Emily disappeared. An intern with the motive insists he’s innocent. And Jalen has some secrets of his own.

Old bones might not be the only things buried in the ruins. As Paige digs deeper into Emily’s disappearance, she realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything—even her life.

Kim’s comments:

I chose this passage because it’s kind of creepy and I love the idea that people who have passed can come to us in dreams, communicating through our subconscious. When I was about twelve, my best friend’s mother had a brain aneurism and was taken to the hospital. I was very shy, very quiet around adults. So my friend’s mom and I looked at each other more than we talked. A couple of days after she’d gone to the hospital, I woke up and in the middle of the night and saw her face floating in the corner of my bedroom, near the ceiling. It was just her head, nothing else, and it glowed as if it were lit from within. The next morning, I found out she had died the night before. I never saw her image again.

 

 

Excerpt:

 

 

In my bed, I lie with the covers pulled high looking up at the ceiling. Although I’ve been trying for hours, I can’t sleep. The room feels cold, much colder than usual— as if the thermostat is set to about fifty degrees.

I flip over. It’s just after two o’clock in the morning. I’m so tired my hands tingle, but I can’t sleep, not when Emily’s missing. I wonder if the police have Jeremy in custody. If they’ve found Emily. Another chill goes through me, and I tuck the quilt more tightly around my shoulders.

I’m thinking of getting up and putting on a pair of sweats when my door creaks and Emily walks into the room.

In the moonlight, her hair looks disheveled. Half her face is in shadow, but as she nears, I see it’s not the lack of light, but dust coating her left cheekbone.

“Oh my God! Emily!” I sit up straight. “You’re okay!”

“Paige!” She hurries to the edge of my bed. Her long pale hair falls forward as she leans over me. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you.”

“Where were you?” I study every inch of her. She’s very pale, and there are small chunks of something plaster-like dangling in the strands of her hair.

“I got lost,” she states, a little sadly. “I’ve been walking for a while.” She looks down at her feet. “I lost my sneakers. Isn’t that funny, Paige? They disappeared when I was sleeping. I just woke up, and they were gone. Have you seen them?”

The question is odd, but I’m so happy to see her I don’t care. “No.”

Her shoulders sag. “Oh.”

“They’re not important,” I assure her. “What matters is that you’re back and you’re okay. What happened to you?”

Her face wrinkles. “I don’t know.” Her eyes move to the top left corner of their sockets, as if she’s thinking really hard. After a moment, she shakes her head. “I can’t remember.”

“Were you in a car accident?”

“I don’t think so.” She feels the back of her head with her hands and then grimaces. “God, my head hurts.”

Throwing my covers off, I swing my legs over the side of the bed. Emily stands very still as I throw my arms around her. “Stop trying to remember. It doesn’t matter what happened. I’m just so happy to see you.”

She smells strongly of roses, as if she has doused herself in perfume. It’s so unlike her that it takes my mind a second to register that her body is stone-cold in my arms and her skin feels hard and smooth as polished marble.

Stunned, I pull back far enough to look into her face. Only instead of Emily, she morphs into my mother, who leans over me, the strap of her silk nightgown slipping from her pale shoulder, her eyes black and angry.

“You didn’t see him, Paige,” she says. “You were dreaming.”

My alarm goes off, and I jolt upright. Heart pounding, I fumble for the off button and switch on the lamp. The room is empty, and it’s 2:13 in the morning. I pick up the clock to reset the alarm and discover it’s already at set for six—my usual time. So why did it go off? The dream was about Emily. So why then did my mother say, you didn’t see him?

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22757321-bone-deep?from_search=true

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bone-deep-kim-obrien/1120338167?ean=9781633920026

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bone-Deep-Kim-OBrien/dp/163392002X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1431277035&sr=8-2&keywords=Kim+O%27Brien

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Bone-Deep-Kim-OBrien/9781633920026

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781633920026

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/bone-deep-9/book-ec4CBI6sVk2CsW5TXelP4w/page1.html

Author Bio and social media links:

Author Bio:

Kim_Obrien_Author Photo

Kim O’Brien grew up in an old Victorian house in Bronxville, NY. Her mother loved telling her bedtime stories, especially ones about the ghost in their attic. Kim not only believed the house was haunted but also fell in love with books and the art of storytelling.

At Emory University in Atlanta, Kim earned a B.A. in psychology. She then attained a M.F.A in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. She worked for many years as a writer, editor, and speechwriter for IBM before becoming a full time fiction writer. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughters, and four-legged friend Daisy.

Kim is the author of eight inspirational romances and seven non-fiction children’s books. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at www.kimobrienbooks.com/, Facebook, and Twitter (kimobri).

Author Social Media Links:

 

Website: http://www.kimobrienbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimobri

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-OBrien/210477652325110

 

Bone Deep

Bone Deep Cover

Title: Bone Deep

Author: Kim O’Brien

Release Date: May 19, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Click here for a chance to win Bone Deep!

Synopsis: When Paige Patterson travels to Arizona to spend the summer with her archeologist father, she expects answers. Why did her parents divorce? Why did her father choose his career over family? She doesn’t expect to be reunited with her best friend Emily Linton, a girl she has always admired and secretly wanted to emulate, or to find herself falling for the project manager’s son, Jalen Yazzi.

But the summer takes a terrible turn when Emily vanishes. As the police struggle for answers, Paige sets out to find the truth.

The search takes Paige from the Cliffside ruins of prehistoric Native Americans to the Navajo Nation to the horrifying possibility that the answer is much closer to home. Emily, it turns out, was not the only one good at hiding things.

Her father has no alibi for the night Emily disappeared. An intern with the motive insists he’s innocent. And Jalen has some secrets of his own.

Old bones might not be the only things buried in the ruins. As Paige digs deeper into Emily’s disappearance, she realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything—even her life.

Kim’s comment:

In Bone Deep, I tried to use the scenery as another character. I wanted to capture some of the mysteriousness as well as convey a vague sense of danger. Originally I thought this book would be a ghost story, but the more I thought about it, what really interested me about the ruins of prehistoric Native Americans was the idea of people vanishing, which became the central idea in Bone Deep. What would happen if a girl vanished in a national park? I thought the ancient cliff dwellings reeked of abandonment, of timelessness, of mystery – They were the perfect setting to explore Paige’s own devastation and confusion as a result of her parent’s divorce.

Excerpt:

My feet pound the bed of gravel lining the path in the cactus garden and then carry me down the concrete path snaking around the sand-colored walls of the cliffs. The ruins sit in their niche, their broken walls smoothed by the distance, and black, empty windows gaze back at me as if they’ve seen every bad thing in the world.

I keep moving, even though my father is going to kill me for not waiting for him. I run until my lungs burn and my legs turn to rubber. And then I push myself farther. But what am I running from? Jeremy? My father? Myself?

The sweat streams over my body when finally I stumble to a stop. Breathing hard, I look around. I’m past Tacoma Well, basically the middle of nowhere. Around me the barren landscape seems huge and as foreign as the surface of the moon. The posed cacti, scrubby, hunched-over trees and stubble of browned-out grass look like the sole survivors in a war the sun has long won.

I wipe my hot, sweat-slick face, take a deep breath of burning air. I should go back; I’m going to have to eventually. But I press forward, daring whatever happened to Emily to happen to me. Stupidly, I want to prove to myself that my father wasn’t involved. Even if it means I get killed, it’s worth it. The thought is irrational, but nothing, I’m discovering, is really very simple. You can love someone and hate them at the same time. You can think you know someone and then suddenly they seem like a total stranger. You can look in the mirror and not see the truth about yourself.

I randomly follow the trail of trampled grass along an irrigation ditch. What really happened to Emily? What is it that I’m not seeing?

Close, close, a voice inside me whispers. I keep going, not understanding how far I intend to go. The heat increases. The sweat pours off me, reminding me how stupid I’ve been to walk into the desert without water. I should turn around, but I don’t. I don’t know why.

I walk until I come to a cornfield. The plants aren’t quite as tall as me, but they’re lush, packed together tightly, and utterly motionless. My mind flashes back to another time, another field. I hear Emily’s childhood voice in my head. There’s this special place I know…

All at once goose bumps break out on my arms and the back of my neck prickles. I stare at the field, picturing Emily, not as a teenager, but as a ten-year-old in a frayed pair of denim shorts and an oversized pink T-shirt knotted at her waist. She smiles, the gap between her front teeth giving her a slightly mischievous, slightly sinister look. She beckons me forward.

Somewhere deep inside the cornfield, a cricket begins to buzz. The single rattle quickly swells into a loud and insistent chorus as if thousands of crickets are buzzing. It’s almost like the insects are calling me, daring me to walk into the tangle of corn leaves.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22757321-bone-deep?from_search=true

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bone-deep-kim-obrien/1120338167?ean=9781633920026

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bone-Deep-Kim-OBrien/dp/163392002X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1431277035&sr=8-2&keywords=Kim+O%27Brien

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Bone-Deep-Kim-OBrien/9781633920026

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781633920026

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/bone-deep-9/book-ec4CBI6sVk2CsW5TXelP4w/page1.html

Author Bio:

Kim_Obrien_Author Photo

Kim O’Brien grew up in an old Victorian house in Bronxville, NY. Her mother loved telling her bedtime stories, especially ones about the ghost in their attic. Kim not only believed the house was haunted but also fell in love with books and the art of storytelling.

At Emory University in Atlanta, Kim earned a B.A. in psychology. She then attained a M.F.A in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. She worked for many years as a writer, editor, and speechwriter for IBM before becoming a full time fiction writer. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughters, and four-legged friend Daisy.

Kim is the author of eight inspirational romances and seven non-fiction children’s books. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at www.kimobrienbooks.com/, Facebook, and Twitter (kimobri).

Author Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.kimobrienbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimobri

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-OBrien/210477652325110

 

A Little Less Blood, A Little More Conversation: The Diplomatic Action-Hero

Hi, everyone! This is a guest post from DK Mok and her new book, Hunt for Valamon, is available for purchase now.  You need it; it’s amazing.

Thanks, DK! :)

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I love a good adventure story. I relish strange worlds, jaw-dropping dangers and heart-stopping heroics. I grew up on fairy tales and legends, the kind steeped in hubris and retribution, filled with jars of boiling oil and witch-sized ovens. As a child, I cheered on fearless warriors and cunning cow-herds, and I didn’t really mind that their boots were splashed with blood.

But over time, I started to wonder about all those slain giants and lonely mythological watchmen. I began to question whether there was more to adventuring than defeating evil sorcerers and looting ancient temples. It was around this time that I started watching a lot of 90s television – action shows with cheesy opening credits and protagonists with windswept mullets.

I loved MacGyver, Quantum Leap and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Every episode transported me to strange worlds full of jaw-dropping dangers and heart-stopping heroics, but what struck me about these shows was the general absence of bloodshed. MacGyver was a pacifist/scientist/secret-agent who could solve most problems using an egg and a paperclip. Doctor Sam Beckett was a time-travelling quantum physicist on a mission to set the world right.

Watching Star Trek: TNG, I lost count of the number of episodes in which the story would reach a point where I thought “Now, they’re going to shoot everyone and get off the planet”, only to have Captain Picard deliver a stirring speech and negotiate a difficult compromise which left nobody happy, but everyone alive. And I began to understand what diplomacy was.

My concept of what it meant to be a hero changed, and by the time I discovered Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, I was fascinated by characters who either could not or would not fight their way out of a problem. Sir Terry’s books were filled with sensible witches, resourceful captains, educated rodents, and patricians who’d managed to weaponise wit. All of whom had enthralling adventures, and none of whom embraced the blade.

When I came to write my fantasy novel, Hunt for Valamon, I knew that I wanted the protagonist to be one such character. Seris is a cleric, a healer, sworn to care for the weak and the sick. However, when he’s drafted to a politically compromised mission to find the vanished Prince Valamon, Seris finds himself faced with ruthless enemies and dangerous obstacles. To survive, he must be sensible, resourceful, persistent and very creative.

I admit that I still love the occasional epic battle or thrilling duel. I don’t mind a splash of blood, now and then. But I have a deeper appreciation for heroes who use speeches and paperclips, empathy and kindness. The kind of hero who might help a homicidal giant change her diet, or counsel a friendless watchman on changing his occupation. Diplomacy isn’t always the answer, but sometimes, using words instead of weapons can lead to unexpected solutions and exciting new possibilities.

Author Bio

DK Mok is a fantasy and science fiction author whose novels include Hunt for Valamon and The Other Tree, published by Spence City. DK’s short story ‘Morning Star’ (One Small Step, FableCroft Publishing) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award and a Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award.

DK grew up in libraries, immersed in lost cities and fantastic worlds populated by quirky bandits and giant squid. She graduated from UNSW with a degree in Psychology, pursuing her interest in both social justice and scientist humour.

She’s fond of cephalopods, androids, global politics, rugged horizons, science and technology podcasts, and she wishes someone would build a labyrinthine library garden so she could hang out there. DK lives in Sydney, Australia, and her favourite fossil deposit is the Burgess Shale.

Website: www.dkmok.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dkmokauthor
Twitter: @dk_mok
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/dkmok

 

Play On

Title: Play On

Author: Michelle Smith

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Play On Cover 

Synopsis: In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek–he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn t everything–maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.”

And I have an excerpt!

In this scene, Marisa’s reporting for her first training session at the Braxton family’s flower shop, and Austin is in charge of the grand tour.

~

I clap my hands together and start for the first display cooler. Marisa’s shoes squeak against the floor as she follows me. “All right, then,” I say on an exhale, turning to her. She stares up at me, all bouncy ponytail and bright eyes. “We’re supposed to be training. So, first things first. Flowers: how much do you know about them?”

She giggles, and dang it, she needs to stop. Please make it stop. All these little things she does that make my stomach do weird flip-flops are going to turn into big things, and big things are a lot harder to ignore.

“It’s safe to say I know a bit about flowers,” Marisa says. “Your mom gave me one heck of a quiz during my interview to make sure I knew my stuff. She even asked what my favorite flower was and how often I’m supposed to change vase water. I mean, really?”

I twirl my finger, signaling for her to continue. “And your answers were…?”

She tilts her head to the side. “Purple roses. Every two-to-three days. Do you think I’m an amateur?”

Even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. I’d train her all day, every day as long as she kept smiling at me like she is now. But that smile falters as her gaze falls to the floor. She clears her throat and says, “Before we moved here, my mom was obsessed with gardening. She taught me everything I know.”

Her voice dips. Before I can ask if she’s all right, she shakes her head and looks back to me, her eyes not nearly as bright, but still as piercing as they were before.

I shrug and force a smile of my own. “Looks like we have something in common. My momma’s a gardening freak, too.” As if owning a flower shop didn’t already give that away. Strike two, Braxton.

She steps to my side, her arm brushing against mine as she gestures to the cooler. “Anyway, continue, Floral Prince. Teach me your ways. I’m sure you know much more than I do.”

I narrow my eyes. “You’re makin’ fun of me, aren’t you? Is it the apron? Because I’ll have you know, I’m rockin’ this apron.”

She grins. “I would never make fun of a prince,” she says seriously and curtsies. The girl freakin’ curtsies.

I cross my arms. “All right, feisty pants. I see what you did there.”

Her jaw drops. “You did not just call me feisty pants. What are you, sixty? Who even says that?”

“I do, obviously. And what I was going to say is, you can’t put whatever flowers you want in the cooler. This is where we keep the special order arrangements and loose flowers. Single roses and stuff like that.”

Instead of replying, her lips curve up again. My heart hammers against my chest. No matter how tough he acts, every guy dreams of someone looking at him this way. Like every word out of his mouth is coated in gold, even if it’s the cheesiest thing that person’s ever heard.

No one’s ever looked at me this way before, not even Jamie. It’s killer. And it’s kind of freaking me the hell out because I’d never even seen this girl until a week ago, and she’s got me acting like an idiot.

“What—” I cough to cover the crack in my voice. “What’s that look for?”

She shrugs and moves past me toward the cooler. In its reflection, I see her staring at the arrangements, her fingertips pressed lightly against the glass. “I like your voice,” she says. “It’s laid-back. Easy-going. Like you have all the time in the world.” She faces me again. “And your accent’s kind of to die for. But you can pretend I didn’t say that.”

So awesome, right? I can’t wait to read this! I’ve heard really good things so far.

Pre-order Links and Goodreads Link:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Play-Lewis-Creek-Michelle-Smith/dp/1939392594/ref=sr_1_3_twi_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1428181303&sr=8-3&keywords=Play+ON

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/play-on-michelle-smith/1120253899?ean=9781939392596

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Play-on-Michelle-Smith/9781939392596

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781939392596

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23140153-play-on

Author Bio:

Michelle Smith Author Photo

Michelle Smith was born and raised in North Carolina, where she developed a healthy appreciation for college football, sweet tea, front porches, and a well-placed “y’all.” She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and fully believes that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.

Michelle lives near the Carolina coast with her family.

Author Social Media Links:

Website: http://msmithbooks.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichelleA_Smith

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michelle-Smith/102249256558130

Tumblr: http://michellesmithya.tumblr.com/