Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Title: The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories
Author: O. Henry
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Release Date: October 1, 2003
Format Read: Paperback
Rating: Five Stars

Description from Goodreads: One dollar and eighty-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present.. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure-- her long, beautiful brown hair. Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, this classic piece of American literature tells the story of a young couple and the sacrifices each must make to buy the other a gift.

The jacket print above and the information are from the Scholastic Paperbacks edition, which I read. However, said edition is a collection of O. Henry's short stories, and the description on it's Goodreads page is merely a short sentence teasing each story. The link to this edition is HERE. Because of this, I took the description for GIFT OF THE MAGI from a different edition of the book. The link to that one is HERE.

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI  is one of my favorite ever Christmas stories. Every year, I watch the movie or read the short--some years, I do both!-- and it never gets old. It's the perfect Christmas tale because it shows that giving is more important than getting. It shows love and humbleness and sacrifice in a way that most stories in today's world seem to leave out. It's only seven pages long in my book, but so worth the quick read. 

And normally I wouldn't have reviewed something so short, but I think that O. Henry's short story is super underrated! It's a wonderful just-before-bed story to give you the warm fuzzies before you fall asleep, and I'm so excited that I have my own copy of it this year in actual book form instead of textbook form!

If you haven't read the story, but you watch Hallmark Channel, you've probably seen the movie. Here's the poster for it:

Anyway, it's super great and I hope you guys can pick it up before next Christmas so that you can enjoy it just as much as I do!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

2017 Debut Author Bash: Caroline Leech

Welcome to my stop on the 2017 Debut Author Bash! I'm proud to share my post with you today, as I was able to work with Caroline Leech, whose debut novel is a WWII story based in Scotland in 1945. And you all know how I feel about WWII books. SO. Read on! Below you'll find goodies such as an interview and giveaway, plus all the information you could ask for on both the book and the author.

Have fun, and don't forget to check out the other posts on the Bash Tour!

The Book

Title: Wait for Me
Author: Caroline Leech
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Jan 31, 2017
Format Read: Hardback
Rating: Four Stars

Description from Goodreads: The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, WAIT FOR ME, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.

It's 1945, and Lorna Anderson's life on her father's farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him-- from his time in the war to his life back in Germany-- the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she's always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she's willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Buy Links

Author Bio

Caroline Leech is a Scottish writer not living in Texas. She writes YA historical fiction, and her first novel, WAIT FOR ME, won SCBWI's Joan Lowery Nixon Award in 2014, as well as the YA categories of both the RWA Emily and Lone Star contests, and was published by HarperTeen in early 2017. Her second novel-- IN ANOTHER TIME-- will be published in August 2018.

During Caroline's previous career in performing arts public relations in the UK, she edited a glossy photographic book, WELSH NATIONAL OPERA- THE FIRST SIXTY YEARS. 

Caroline lives in Houston with her husband and three teenage children. You can find her online at http://www.carollineleech.com and @carolinesblurb. 


I had the chance to sit down and ask Caroline a few questions, and I thought I'd share them (and her answers!) with you....

Q1.) When/where were you when the idea for WAIT FOR ME popped into your head?

                    A1.) A chance comment by a friend of mine originally exploded Lorna and Paul's story in my mind. She mentioned that her father had grown up on a farm in South Wales during World War Two and that they had been sent a German prisoner-of-war to work as a farmhand. The German had given her father a gift which he had made by hand, and it was something her father still treasured. I'd had no idea that prisoners were let out of the POW camps to work, so I immediately went off to do more research about it. Unlike Allied prisoners, who were generally determined to escape and return to Britain to carry on fighting-- I grew up reading about such escape stories in books like COLDITZ and THE GREAT ESCAPE-- many of the German prisoners captured were so relieved that they were not part of a war they had been conscripted into and did not believe in, they were happy to work out the rest of the war in the British countryside. Many of them spent their evenings making gifts for their British hosts, especially wooden toys for the children, and many lifelong friendships resulted between the Germans and for the British people they worked alongside. Having discovered all of this, it wasn't too long before my brain swam with the vision of a young and handsome German soldier being dropped off in a farmyard where there was a pretty farmer's daughter... and well, you know the rest!

Q2.) Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

                   A2.) I have always loved reading books set during World War Two, fiction and non-fiction. Both my parents were involved in the war-- my mother was evacuated as a child from London on the day that war broke out, and my father followed his four older brothers into the Army in 1944 as soon as he turned 18. My grandmother had to watch her five sons go off to war, and sadly, only four of them came back. With so many family members to tell me stories as I grew up, about air raids and rationing, basic training and dawn patrols, it felt very natural for me to set a story of my own in that period of my country's history.

Q3.) Did you have a particular character you enjoyed writing about the most? The least?

                   A3.) Of course, I love Lorna and Paul, but Nelly was a joy to write. Being a Londoner, she has a brash self-confidence that Lorna could never hope to have, and there are wonderful moments when it's clear that this city girl has been thrown into a countryside setting she's not quite ready for. That's the perfect fuel for some comic relief. Nelly is endlessly funny and enthusiastic, and a bit raunchy too, and even though she makes some really poor life-choices, she remains loyal and sweet to the end. Definitely the big sister that Lorna never had. As for my least favorite character? I loved Lorna's best friend, Iris, but I got very frustrated with her at times. I'm sure you can understand why.

Q4.) I have to know your favorite scene-- Mine was Lorna and Sandy's walk!

                   A4.) How interesting! That was a fun scene to write for sure, as I tried to capture that natural teasing banter between siblings, even as they were talking about serious issues. But I think my favorite scenes to write, and now to read out loud at events, are definitely the afternoon where Lorna and Paul dance in the barn (As I was writing it, I was blushing just as much as Lorna!) and the fight she has with her oldest brother, John Jo. Family arguments are wonderful to write, because siblings can usually let all their fury loose on one another, while knowing deep down that they still love each other. Lorna certainly pays for what she shouts at John Jo, but still, it was a great release of so many pent-up emotions for her.

Q5.) I LOVE how Paul isn't the typical YA love interest. While he shares some of those qualities, he's not perfect and flawless on the outside. Did you know early on that he would have this specific appearance?

                  A5.) I'll admit that Paul started out as straightforwardly handsome as any other YA love interest, even if he had been damaged emotionally by his dreadful experiences in the war. And for a long while, he stayed like that. But the idea that he might be physically injured too came to me one evening as I was working again on the first page of the book, trying to pack the opening lines with more punch. Although the first line ultimately changed by the time we went to print, for all sorts of reasons, it suddenly came to me that night as, "Lorna Anderson was ankle-deep in cow-shit and milk when she first saw the boy with the steel grey eyes and only half a face." I had no idea where that last phrase came from, but immediately I could see Paul's dreadful burns in my mind. It also dramatically changed Paul's story for the rest of the book, and meant that Lorna's immediate shock at having an enemy soldier standing in front of her in her own farmyard was doubled. Of course, by the end of the book, she barely sees his injuries anymore. He's just Paul.

Q6.) One of my favorite things about this book is that there isn't really one big pivotal MOMENT when everything blows up. There are minor explosions all throughout the chapters, which makes the story so much more realistic. Was the original way you planned the novel, or was there one big MOMENT in the first drafts?

                A6.) WAIT FOR ME is very much a story set in a real place at a real point in history, but it's populated with fictional characters. It's not a war story full of battles and bombing raids, but even so, I hope it shows the enormous effects that being at war has on a family and on a small rural community, even one far from the front lines. Therefore, it felt natural to write a series of "minor explosions," as you nicely put it, because that's how life is for most people, whether we live in wartime or not.

Q7.) Was there a particular scene or chapter that was difficult for you to write, for one reason or another?

              A7.) There were scenes in this story when I felt very emotional, particularly the later scenes, but I don't think there was any that I really struggled to draft. I did however have a very hard time when it came to revising the book once it had been bought  by my editor at HarperTeen. I know I write long-- she bought it as a fat manuscript of 108,000 words and asked me to cut it down to 80,000 for publication. While I knew she was right, and that it needed some serious tightening, I still struggled. Cutting the first 20,000 words was relatively straightforward. But those last few thousand words? That felt like I was cutting my own heart out!

Q8.) Would you rather have John Jo, Sandy, or Paul as your older brother?

             A8.) Oh, good question! I have a sister, four years older than me (could you tell that I was channeling some of our real teenage arguments in Lorna's fight with John Jo?), so I'm not sure what having an older brother would be like. But of course, I know that either Sandy or Paul would be perfect big brothers. They're both so protective and loving, without being suffocating. But John Jo? To be honest, I'd rather have him as a boyfriend! Perhaps not the John Jo as he is in this story, when he's having to deal with his own emotional wartime damage, but certainly the John Jo from before the war. Loud and sociable, fun and hard-working, and of course, broad-shouldered and darkly handsome-- definitely my kind of guy!

Q9.) What does your writing process look like?

            A9.) In terms of story development, I'm definitely a plotter. I spend a lot of time creating an outline of the whole book, chapter by chapter, before I ever start writing. The thought of sitting down to write the first page without any clue of where the story is headed gives me a panic attack. That's not to say that the story never changes as I write it, but having a rough map of the path that I'm following makes it a lot easier to stay focused. And in terms of where and when I write... well, most of the time, I write in a Barnes & Noble coffee shop when my kids are at school, or in my local Starbucks, starting at 6am on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I find writing at home very difficult because no matter what deadline I am facing, there are too many distractions. You have no idea how vital the laundry can suddenly become when you are struggling on a tricky chapter!

Q10.) What would be your #1 piece of advice to aspiring authors?

         A10.) Read, read, read! And also, when you are writing a first draft, turn off your inner editor. You really have to get your first draft on paper (or screen) without any editorial judgement at all, from yourself of anyone else. We all write dreadful first drafts-- every author will tell you that-- and it's only once you get to the end of the draft that you can start on the real work of making it all beautiful. After all, you can't perfect and polish words that haven't been written yet.


Caroline and I have partnered up to give you guys the chance to win a YA WWII package!  Don't forget to enter, or you'll miss out on some goodies!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Thinks: #TBTBSanta

It's that time of year again, folks.... #TBTBSanta Time!

For those of you that may not be familiar with the hashtag, Jamie over at Broke and Bookish sets up a lovely bookish secret Santa every year. After you fill out an application, Jamie will get back to you with your Santa, sending along their application so that you know a little bit about them and what they like. 

From there, you SHOP. 

This year, I chose the 2+ Books and Goodies category, which means that I get to go all out for my match. I've got a list made, items ordered that I can't get locally, and I am so ready to get these things in so that I can see everything together!

Like most YA lovers, my person is  Disnerd, so I'm having a blast finding the cutest little things to throw in her box.

AND WRAPPING PAPER. I found the best wrapping paper ever for someone who loves both reading and Disney.... BELLE. READING. 

Anyway, follow me on twitter to watch as progress is made on my #TBTBSanta gift(s). I'll be be back with an update when this is all over and I have a package of my own!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Blitz: Mad Magic by Nicole Conway

Hello! And welcome to today's bLitZ for Nicole Conway's new release (out today!), Mad Magic! Most of you probably know that I A-D-O-R-E Nicole's Dragonrider Chronicles, so I'm super exited to help spread the word about this fantastical new book!

Title: Mad Magic
Author: Nicole Conway
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: November 14, 2017

Description from Goodreads: Mad Magic is a beautifully dark and rich Young Adult fantasy from Nicole Conway, bestselling author of the Dragonrider Chronicles.

Josie Barton is a high school student living in terror. Invisible creatures torment her everywhere she goes, constantly getting her into trouble at school, and even haunting her apartment. But just when Josie thinks that things couldn't get any worse... she meets the guy from across the hall.

Zeph Clemmont is a changeling with enemies in all the worst places, fighting to undo a curse that threatens to end his life. Survival means he will have to swallow his pride and trust Josie with all his darkest secrets.

With the help of a gun-slinging shaman and the enigmatic Prince of Nightmares, Zeph and Josie are only a heart beat away from defeating one of the most diabolical faerie villains their world has ever known.

Amazon  B&N  iBooks  Kobo


Here's an excerpt from MAD MAGIC, titled What is Magic?

“Magic is like water. It’s required for all things on this earth to
live and it cycles through the world to be reused over and over again.
Some things, even some people, soak up more of it than others or
require more of it to live. Children are usually more attuned to it
than most. They soak it up like little sponges.” Each word from his
lips carried a weight I could feel hanging in the air. “Any being on
earth is capable of using it, although humans lost interest and forgot
how to do that a very long time ago. Most of them can’t even see it
or feel it anymore. Their minds have turned to things of metal. It can
be that way for faeries, too. In fact, a lot of us have fallen from our
former glory to be fed by the machines of the modern world.”

A strange, wild hunger rose up in me so suddenly it made my
body stiffen. If magic was real, then surely it had something to do
with all the strange things that had been happening to me. I needed
to know more—I needed to understand.

“Where does it come from?”

“The moon.” He paused, holding a liquor bottle in each hand as
he turned to look me in the eye. “Or at least, that’s what the old songs
say. No one knows for sure. But magic is raw energy that we can use
as we choose. Even a small amount can accomplish miraculous or
even terrible things.”

About the Author

Nicole Conway is an author from North Alabama. She graduated from Auburn University in 2012, and has previously worked as a graphic artist. She is happily married and has one son as well as a cat and a dog. She enjoys blogging, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Visit Nicole Here

Nicole's Playlist

“Shatter Me” (feat. Lzzy Hale) – Lindsey Stirling

“Turn Me On”  – David Guetta & Nicki Minaj

“Lights” (Bassnectar Remix) – Ellie Goulding

“It Was Always You” – Maroon 5

“Confident” (Deluxe Edition) – Demi Lovato

“Closer” (feat. Halsey) – The Chainsmokers

“Little Bad Girl” (feat. Taio Cruz & Ludacris) – David Guetta

“Break Your Heart” – Taio Cruz & Ludacris

“Break Free” (feat. Zedd) – Ariana Grande


For this giveaway, the ONE winner will recieve a $25 gift card to the place of their choosing! Enter below!

That's it from me, today! If your attention and interest have been piqued as mine have, scroll up and click on those buy links! 


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Blog Tour: Savage by Nicole Conway

Welcome, welcome! I'm thrilled to say that, for my first post since I've been back, I'm presenting you with the blog tour for SAVAGE by Nicole Conway. As you guys know, the Dragonrider Chronicles is one of my absolute favorite series, so when the companion series was announced, I jumped on my chance to participate in the blog tour.

Believe it or not, this is my fourth tour for Nicole's books. The only book in the Dragonrider Chronicles that I didn't participate in the tour for was the last book, IMMORTAL, which came out during the surgery time of last year. 

So, without further ado, and because I'm dying to tell you about this book, here's my review!

But DON'T FORGET that this is a companion series, which means the descriptions as well as my review will contain spoilers to the first series! 

Title: SAVAGE (Dragonrider Legacy #1)
Author: Nicole Conway
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Format Read: E-book
Rating: Four Stars

Description from Goodreads: Never send a hero to do a monster's job.

Forty years have passed since Jaevid Broadfeather brought peace to Maldobar and Lunthards. But that fragile truce will be tested as darkness gathers on the horizon. The vicious armies of the Tibran Empire have crossed the far seas and are threatening to destroy Maldobar completely. Not even the dragonriders can match the Tibran war machines. And after an attempt to awaken Jaevid from his divine sleep fails, the fate of Maldobar is looking grim.

Reigh has never known what it means to be a normal human. Raised amongst the gray elves in the wild jungle of Luntharda, he's tried everything to be fit in. But the dark power within him is bursting at the seams-- refusingg to be silenced. And while his adoptive father, Kiran, insists this power must be kept secret, Reigh knows he's running out of time.

As Maldobar burns, the world is desperate for a new hero. Destiny has called, and one boy will rise to answer.

So, having finished the last series, I had expectations from this new book. I LOVED the way the last book ended, and even though I knew that this series would be focused on a new character, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about having a narrator that wasn't Jaevid or Felix. Starting out with this new Reigh kid, I was hesitant. Being forty years after the last series, I was sad that I wasn't going to get any of these characters that I'd come to love, but after only a page or two, we find out that Kiran is actually a big part of the story! HUZZAH, KIRAN!

This excited me, so I kept reading (Like I'd stop???), and I'm so pleased that I did, because you guys, WOW. I adore this kid. Not as much as I adore Jae, yet, but I'm a bit more attached to Jae (After, you know, four-five years). 

Anyway, I want to start out with the characters. As per usual, Conway gave us wonderful characters. They're all so loveable, and relatable, and I'm left wanting more of them already. I can't wait to see what happens with Reigh and his "problem", as well as his emotional state from here on out, as he'd definitely had his share of ups and downs just in this first book.

I don't normally comment much on the descriptiveness of novels, as I don't feel like I need a lot of details on setting, etc. to fall in love with a story. I've said it before, and I'll say it a million times again, but characters are what make a story amazing for me. So setting really is meh. But THESE BOOKS. Conway's descriptions are so good, ESPECIALLY when she's describing Luntharda and the creatures within, and I can't get enough of it.

And I'll just go ahead and say, this is only book one and it's already broken my heart and repaired it about 75% of the way. I'm already so attached, it's ridiculous. But I do have a soft spot for these fantabulous novels, you know.

In a Nutshell, SAVAGE was a great contribution to the Dragonrider books, and I'm over the moon to know we'll have more time in this world. If you've read the Dragonrider Chronicles, then you HAVE to read this series, too. YOU GET TO SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTERS AGAIN, PEOPLE! So if that's you, and you're ready for your mind to be blown and for that suspicious warning from Ulric at the end of IMMORTAL to be explained... well... you may wanna click on one of these buy links.

About the Author

Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.

Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.

She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.

Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads


Kindle Fire + Drawing Dragons Book + signed art from the Author

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour... you can find the rest of it HERE!


Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: Immortal by Nicole Conway

Title: Immortal (Dragonrider Chronicles #4)
Author: Nicole Conway
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Format Read: Paperback
Rating: Four Stars

Description from Goodreads: Destiny has called.

With Jaevid Broadfeather forever lost to the depths of Luntharda, Felix Farrow struggles to stand on his own. He begins a violent downward spiral which causes him to abandon his post as a dragonrider, hiding in the halls of his family estate. His one hope for redemption lies within the heart of someone from his past-- and the very last person he ever wanted to see again.

And now the time has finally come.

Hovrid, who has ruled Maldobar as a tyrannical imposter, is preparing to make a decisive assault against Luntharda that will destroy what remains of the elven race. Only Jaevid, Felix, and their trusted friends are able to stand in his way. They have only one chance to end the war, and only one hope to absolve the curse that threatens to destroy their world. The stage is set. The plan is in motion.

What began as one boy's adventure will now end in blood.

So, until a couple months ago, I didn't even know this book existed. I'd been between surgeries and hospital visits when it came out, and while I've been over here wondering when we're going to get the next installment, Nicole Conway's been hard at work on a companion series (Stop by the blog tomorrow to see my stop on the blog tour!).

So, I ordered the book and sped through it in about five hours, and now I'm freaking out. IT'S OVER??? I CAN'T EVEN??? I want MoRe. More Jae and Felix and, dang it, more Lyon (Still crying, okay? Still crying.) 

But, guys. What a conclusion. It ripped my heart out, fed it through the shredder, and then started working to stitch it all back together, and I'm left speechless. 

As much as I hate it, this is going to be a super short review. Because there's literally not that much I can say about this book without spoiling everything entirely, but I'll have you know that this was one of the best series conclusions I've EVER read. I can't get enough of it, and even though the book was a great finisher, I don't want it to be over. 

I've been reading these books and participating in the blog tours for five years now, and I've gotten SO attached, that all I can do is praise God that there's a companion series. I don't know what's in store, but I do know that if it's Nicole Conway's writing, and Jaevid's world, we're in for a nice little adventure that I can't wait to start.

Go out and buy this series. Show some support to Nicole, so that we can have moreandmoreandmore dragonrider books. Because I don't know what I'll do when there aren't any more coming my way!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Why I Haven't Been Active

Hey, there! It's been a while, hasn't it?

This past year has been pretty bad for me in terms of blogging. I've been semi-active since taking time off of college, but then you may have noticed that I kind of dropped off the face of the earth around May. Let me explain why...

Right around March, just as I started to finally heal after December's surgery, I started feeling iffy. I was tired all the time, but the most important thing was that I was showing the number one sign of advanced heart failure-- sleeping with upwards of three pillows a night to try to breathe better.

Because of this, I called my doctor and managed to get an appointment. Once there, we found out that my heart was definitely getting worse, and they wanted to administer a new medication that I'd have to be admitted to the hospital for. This would be the true test, because my body's tolerance of the medication would determine just how bad I was getting.

A week or so later, we had our answer. Turns out I'm allergic to the med, but while I was waiting to see if the med would do it's job or not, the doctors started a slew of tests. Only a couple days had passed before I had a letter in my hands that said I'd officially been put on the list for an Organ Transplant.

I was elated, though obviously surprised, and was sent home to await my new heart. I'd have to wait until they found the perfect match, which could take even up to two years, so we continued life as normal.

It was three weeks later, June 9th at 11:38 at  night that I got a phone call from the hospital, offering me a heart. Everything was already packed, and we threw the bags into the car and made the five hour drive.

I went into surgery around 6am on the 10th. I was excited, happy, and not nervous at all. I knew that whatever happened during the procedure would be God's will, and I trusted Him completely.

When I woke up, I was ridiculously hungry and thirsty. More doctors than I could count were coming in and out, talking to me as if we were friends and telling me how much better I looked now, and I felt like something was missing. There was a piece missing in my story line. 

Not too much later, I found out that the surgery had gone great, and then... it hadn't. My new heart was stiff from being on ice during transplant, and it hadn't wanted to beat. I'd come out of surgery with my chest still open, and I'd been on life support. For three days, machines had kept me alive until I began to do well enough that they wanted to close me up and take me off of the life support. At that point, it was only later that day that I'd woken up.

I'd also learned that while I'd been on life support, I'd been awake. Awake and writing to communicate and taking pictures with family. None of which I remembered until bits and pieces began filtering through later.

I only stayed in the hospital for a total of two weeks before they released me and allowed me to go to a hotel that connected to the hospital. I stayed there for almost three weeks, and then they finally let me go home.

I won't lie, recuperating from that transplant was rough. I threw up nearly everything I ate, which made it hard to take my twenty-something medications. I was dehydrated, but drinking was difficult since it felt like I couldn't possibly drink any more. I was exhausted, I had no energy, I was all kinds of emotional due to the hormone fluctuations, and all of that had put me in a bad mood.

It was weeks before that got better, and we found out six weeks post-transplant that I' been feeling so bad because my new heart had still had issues taking to my body, and it had only just gotten settled. Seven weeks post-transplant, I started to feel better.

It's nearly four months since transplant, and I have never felt this good in my life! I can do things that I'd never been able to do before. I'm currently on my way back from vacation in Colorado, and I spent the week walking around the Royal Gorge, Pike's Peak, Cave of the Winds, and taking an 8 hour train ride. I got my first good bit of exercise since 2011, and it felt amazing to be able to walk so much without having to stop to breathe every ten feet. I got up early and went to bed late, and I didn't wake up the next morning feeling like death run over.

I tell you, guys, normal may be overrated, but being medically normal is so underrated. 

All that said, I'm back now! I have all kinds of signings and things to go to, all kinds of trips planned out for next year, because I finally CAN. And I'm so glad that you guys get to come along the ride with me. I do have a Facebook page for all things health-related if anyone wants to keep up with things. Click HERE to go to it.

Be expecting things from me! I have a nice little giveaway coming your way soon, as well as some blog tours that I can't wait to get into, so be sure to keep checking back here or checking twitter for all of the things! I'm so excited to be back better than ever.

To borrow a line from Ed Sheeran, "Welcome to the new show/I guess you know I've been away/But where I'm heading who knows/my heart will stay the same"


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Blood Road by Amanda McCrina

Welcome, welcome to my stop on the blog tour for BLOOD ROAD (Blood Oath #1) by Amanda McCrina. Be sure to read through the whole post... there's a nice little giveaway towards the end 

Title: BLOOD ROAD (Blood Oath #1)
Author: Amanda McCrina
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: April 25, 2017

Description from Goodreads: Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.

Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.

Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.

Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.

About the Author

Amanda McCrina has studied in Italy, taught English in Japan, and currently tutors Latin in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History from the University of West Georgia, and is now pursuing her MA. She writes stories that incorporate her love of history, languages, and world travel. She drinks far too much coffee and dreams of one day having a winning fantasy-hockey season. 

Excerpt from BLOOD ROAD

A cavalry troop was just coming in to the stable yard from the Road. It was an irregular troop, not a standard column—scouts, judging by their light harness. Torien stood and watched with Alluin while they dismounted. He had supposed them to be local auxiliaries, as scouts typically were, but when the dust had settled he picked out Vareno faces among them, and one face that might have been Cesino, though he could not tell for sure. One man’s eyes fell briefly on Torien’s, across the yard. His gaze was hollow. In his dirt-streaked face, Torien recognized the same look of resignation as had been in the woman’s face that night in the shanty in Modigne. The scout turned his head away without saluting.

When they rejoined Tarrega in the street, Torien said, “Auxiliaries?”

Tarrega said, “Signi.”

Torien’s steps slowed. He looked back over his shoulder to the stable yard.

Tarrega said, “You’ve never seen signi before?” As an afterthought, he added, “Sir?”

“They don’t post signi to Vione.”

“But to Cesin?”

Perhaps to the Outland, to the furthest reaches of the mountains where the rebellious Brycigi still thrashed against the Imperial yoke; Torien did not know. “Is the Road so dangerous, then—that you use signi as scouts?”

Unexpectedly, Tarrega flashed a cool knife-blade smile. His teeth were very white. “The Mayasi,” he said, “make it their peculiar habit to leave their prisoners stripped and staked out in the sand and dead of thirst or sun sickness or jackals, whichever comes first. Or they hold them alive, for interrogation, and from what I’ve seen of the few poor souls we’ve recovered—better to die in the sand. So the signi are useful twice over.”

Torien looked at him. “They aren’t citizens,” Tarrega said. “It doesn’t matter how they die. And they don’t know anything to give up under torture.”


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Tour Schedule

Week 1:
4/24/2017- Rockin' Book ReviewsReview
4/24/2017- Month9BooksExcerpt

4/25/2017- Two Chicks on BooksInterview
4/25/2017- Doodle's Book ReviewsExcerpt

4/26/2017- Don't Judge, ReadInterview
4/26/2017- Book-KeepingReview

4/27/2017- A Backwards StoryReview
4/27/2017- Hazel West's Character PurgatoryExcerpt

4/28/2017- LILbooKloversInterview
4/28/2017- Wishful EndingsReview

Week 2:
5/1/2017- Exploring the Inner UniverseReview
5/1/2017- So Few BooksInterview

5/2/2017- Book Review BeccaReview
5/2/2017- Bibliobibuli YAInterview

5/3/2017- Reading for the Stars and MoonReview
5/3/2017- I am not a bookworm!Review

5/4/2017- YA and WineGuest Post
5/4/2017- Mundie MomsReview

5/5/2017- Never Too Many To ReadReview

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour, and don't forget it runs for two weeks! 

Thanks for stopping by, all!


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