August 28, 2013

Little Moments :: Happy Heart :: Second Edition

I figured while I was on here, I'd just post a few random little moments from my life. Fun, right?! :D

Firstly, while sorting stuff the other day, I happened to find a book I'd forgotten I had. I know! ;P Have you read it? It's a childhood favorite of mine.

Have you ever sorted through years of stuff and found something that made you laugh and remember waaayyyy back? This straw used to make a noise when I used it. Yes, it was supposed to sound like a monkey. Some friends and I bought them from McDonald's years ago, during a weekend camping trip. You know. The kind of trip where you're tired and and silly and ridiculous things make you laugh? Yeah. That kind.

I got this lovely book in the mail the other day! I'd been waiting and waiting for a different one and was not expecting this one at all. So it was a wonderful surprise to walk out to the mailbox and see it there! Cannot wait to dive in. :D

And while excitedly contemplating the book above, lo and behold a couple days later, an even better surprise came in the mail! I'd ordered the book from the author weeks ago and she had mailed it, but it got lost somewhere. Still don't know what happened to it. But Ms. Thompson was kind enough to send another one. And I've already read it! Yes, it was just that good. :D I hope to get my review written soon.

The other day, I received this beautiful bouquet of flowers from a coworker. I had not had a good morning, and this was sitting on my desk when I got back from lunch. They cheered me considerably and made my afternoon a whole lot happier! Plus, they were given in honor of my birthday which just happened recently. Happiness all around! (Yes, I'm shamelessly mentioning my birthday on here. Silly, aren't I? ;)

Lastly, I found this poem over here the other day. (Don't ask how. It's a long and complicated story. Well. Not too complicated, but anyway....) It really encouraged me, so I decided to share it.

Open one fist, close the other,
I have better plans for you.
Don’t hold on to lesser shadows,
they will fade, and you will too.

Child, your heart is listing, longing
for some balm to ease the ache
that disintegrated hopes and dreams
have left within their wake.

You’re crying ‘there’s no surety!
There’s no anchor for my soul!’
But you’re searching in the sand, love,
you need something strong and whole.

Cast again your anchor higher
beyond what you cannot see.
I am just beyond the darkness,
child, trust; and cast on me.

Unclench your grasping fingers
holding on to what seems right.
All the good things will be as tarnished
when I cast my morning light.

Grasp for me now in your wanting,
dare to trust what others fear.
Only I can quell the hurting,
only I am ever near.

Close the other fist now, child
wait not for what you deem best.
Trust my ever loving heart
to render to you joy and rest.

Open one fist, close the other,
anchor hopes and dreams in me.
I am all you have and need and want,
I will set your bound heart free.

So there were a few random little moments from the last week or so. Hope you have a fabulous rest of your week! And stay tuned for more reviews soon. Hopefully anyway. (Do notice that I said soon. I can't promise a time, but I do promise to try!)

Review: Jungle Fire by Dana Mentink

Jungle Fire
Goodreads :: Amazon

The deadliest animal in the jungle is the two legged kind.

Nina Truman is a missionary nurse, serving in a tiny Guatemalan town not far from the Mexican border.  It's a fulfilling life, tending to the village poor, a way to serve in the country from which she was adopted. The day she leaves on furlough, is the day her life falls apart. Her bus is ambushed and she must flee from forces who inexplicably wish her dead. Trapped between a ruthless drug lord and his assassins, a corrupt police chief, and colleagues with ulterior motives, her friends may prove just as deadly as her enemies as she uncovers a plot tangled deep in the roots of her own past.

Nina's only hope of survival lies in the hands of Shaw Wilder, a man who despises missionaries and the God they serve.  His skill is in handling a landmine detection dog, not helping a woman he blames for the death of his sister. When the lethal drug kingpin El Escorpion seeks to capture Nina, and the local police are no help, Shaw has to choose: flee into the Guatemalan jungle with a naive woman who has vowed never to take a life or follow his own spiritual demons and walk away. His choice may leave them both imprisoned in a jungle from which neither will escape.

Goodness, what a ride! You jump right in immediately and the action never stops! There's hardly a moment of downtime and peace for these characters. I mean, you know things are going to be crazy when the opening sentence is: Nina never imagined her life would end on a bus. It does get a little harry every other moment, but you're so involved in the story that you barely have time to wonder when things are ever going to slow down. This is the kind of story that you want to have several available hours for reading. Because once you start it, you aren't going to want to put the book down as there's never a good moment to stop reading! It's exciting and scary and fun all at the same time. Plus a little romance helps sweeten the plot even further. ;)

Nina and Shaw are wonderfully flawed people. Nina, who has always felt called to be a missionary yet still struggles with doubts and fears like anyone else, and Shaw, who refuses to believe that God is good and would love nothing more than to deny His existence. But God has bigger plans for both of them. Nina is being chased by people out to kill her or kidnap her or both and Shaw ends up right in the middle of her situation, exactly where he doesn't want to be. But he can't seem to help himself. With their foes on their tail, and with no idea who they can trust, off they run into the jungle. Like I said, there's not much peace and quiet to be found in their story. But somehow, Ms. Mentink sprinkles little spurts of amusement and fun intermingled into the adrenalin rush. Which means we get a few cute moments between our would-be couple. And they are pretty cute!

And Axel! I loved Axel. He's such a fun addition, yet fierce enough to defend his master every single time. Yes, Axel's a dog. But a protective and awesome dog! He's a trusted friend who gets them out of scrape after scrape and just when things look awfully dark, Axel shows his determination and loyalty time and again. They'd be rather lost without him around actually. There was a moment where he had me really worried and I was so, so happy things didn't go the way I thought they had!

As a matter of fact, that's what Ms. Mentink does really well. She led me down her path and where I thought we were going to end up was completely different from where we actually did. She kept me on pins and needles much of the time! There were a few rough spots however. I confess to being quite irritated with Nina's father. He kept so much from her and even at the end, I still wasn't satisfied with his explanation. Also, some parts of the ending felt a little too convenient for me. Still, after all the fear and frustration of Shaw and Nina's adventure, I was very happy they got their happy ending. :)

So. The fun of this story is that, while you have a good idea how it's going to end, you still have absolutely no idea how you're going to get there! I say go get this book and sit back and enjoy the ride. There's never a dull moment in the jungle! :D

This is where it would end, her strange journey. She imagined consumption by fire, ignoring the fact that death would come first from the choking smoke. Her knees weakened and she dropped to the floor, head spinning and face wet with acid tears.
The boy's face appeared again, and his hands thrust through the opening. They were such tiny hands, so delicate and finely boned. How could those hands reach through such overwhelming heat? Those yearning fingers reached out for the father.
Something flickered deep inside Nina and she forced herself to her feet. Maybe if she could turn the man on his side. Grabbing hold of his thick shoulder, she heaved him into position, hoping not to hear the crack of broken bones as she did so. Sweat ran down her face, stinking the multiple cuts as she tried to shove him toward the window.

August 23, 2013

Book Spine Poetry Rocks!

Okay, so I was creating these late at night - that might explain part of my enthusiasm. I mean, everything is always brilliant and phenomenal late at night, right? :D

Anyway, so I saw via Courtney this fun idea and wanted to try it myself. (Kate and Amber tried it too! So did Ruth!) Well, I suppose technically I saw this idea a while back (can't remember where now), thought I should try it but never did and promptly forgot about it. Therefore, when I was reminded of it the other day, I decided that right at that moment was the perfect time to try it! Because the craziness that is my life right now pretty much dictates that if I don't do the thing right away, the thing won't get done. I'll forget.

So! I did the thing and now I'm going to share the thing with you! Isn't that exciting?! I knew you'd think so. *clears throat* So here goes.

I tried two versions. I like both of them....but I might like the second one better? Not really sure. Both are pretty fun though! See what you think:

This one was helped by the trilogy by Linda Chaikin. I saw those on my shelf and decided they were the perfect way to start! :)

Tomorrow's Treasure by Linda Chaikin
Expect the Sunrise by Susan May Warren
Yesterday's Promise by Linda Chaikin
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B Jones
Today's Embrace by Linda Chaikin
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
How Sweet It Is by Alice J Wisler

The first two jumped out at me, probably because they were sitting by one another. This one feels a little more poem-like to me. I don't know. Something about it I just like.

Flee the Night by Susan May Warren
My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Valiant Hope by Donna Fleisher
A New Day Rising by Lauraine Snelling
Echoes by Kristen Heitzmann
Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane

So what do you think? I thought it was rather fun to put these together and I'd love to try it again someday. But I promise not to bombard you with spine poetry for a while, so rest assured! ;)
I hope you've been having a lovely week? Mine has been very, very busy. Still haven't made it to any other blogs for a several days. Sorry ladies! (If any of them are even reading this. They might be boycotting me for all I know. ;)

I do hope to get a review written soon. I need to write it before I forget what the book was about and have to read it all over again! Plus I got one from the library (it was on hold! I had to pick it up!), as well as one in my mailbox, so I hope I can get some reading done soon. Here's hoping anyway! :) Y'all have a splendiferously wonderful Friday!

August 19, 2013

Bleeding Heart Blog Tour {Interview, Review, & Giveaway!}

Today I am thrilled to be a part of this blog tour and have author Amber Stokes stopping by to answer a few questions about her debut novel Bleeding Heart! Amber is a lovely blogging friend and I have been delighted to anticipate this moment with her. She deserves every bit of excitement she's feeling right now. Without further ado, let's get to the questions! :)

Hello Amber! Thank you for stopping by today. I'm so happy to chat about Bleeding Heart with you. :)

Amber: Thank you so much for having me, Kara! I’m happy to be here. :)

You stated in your Author's Note that your interest in Virginia City, NV got you started with your writing. What was one thing that you remember first noticing that intrigued you? As in, what specifically "kick-started your dreams"? A building? A person?

Amber: To be honest, it’s all kind of a blur! I remember sitting in a hotel room (I guess it was in Reno) and having these ideas rush through my mind. I wrote out a very basic synopsis for Forget Me Not (the prequel to Bleeding Heart) involving Virginia City (which I suppose we had just visited), a girl on a quest to find the brother she never knew, and a love that began in childhood with a handful of forget-me-nots. Looking back in my little notebook, I noted these things about Virginia City: the wooden sidewalks, the candy shops, the fact that there can still be snow in April, etc. And I guess this shows what little I knew back then about the town: I put a question mark after “silver mining,” LOL. (No question mark needed!)

The thing is, I remember writing a good bit of the story as a contemporary once upon a time. (Bad idea. Really.) So, I think what happened was that I planned on writing it as a historical, then changed my mind, then changed my mind again – or maybe it started as a contemporary, and then I had a revelation about the historical perspective? But I vividly recall the story idea beginning that day in the hotel room… See what I mean? It’s a blur! However it went down, though, Virginia City was a part of both versions. I guess it was just the atmosphere of the place and the fact that it was the first town of its kind I’d really visited that struck me. :)

Can you tell us which character from Bleeding Heart first took shape in your mind and what was it that struck you about them? Why did you feel a need to write about them?

Amber: Several of the characters in Bleeding Heart were first introduced in Forget Me Not – but I’d have to go with Joe, as I believe he came into Forget Me Not before either Sally, Myghal, or Seth (initially called John, but I have way too many J-names as it is, LOL). When I first started writing the sequel, I basically just wanted to write the story about the spurned suitor from book 1 (Joe) and go from there. It all started out as an often-told love triangle in book 1, and book 2 was a chance to explore the love story of the third of the triangle that was left behind. He was a sweet, rather naïve fellow in book 1, but there were undercurrents of hurt and emotional depth in his character begging to be explored. He proved to be so much more than just a spurned suitor, after all…

Joe started out sweet and naive? Now that intrigues me! His experience must have really changed him then. :)

I know you have a Pinterest Board featuring a "soundtrack" for the story. Which song from the list first stood out to you as the perfect sound for what you were writing? What was it about that song particularly? (You can talk about your favorite song, if that would be easier.)

Amber: I’d probably have to say the two songs by Huckleberry Flint (a band from my neck of the woods, actually!). Both “Dixie” and “Sally Ann” were songs that I initially incorporated into the story, in a sense… I generalized “Dixie,” of course, so that it could be in reference to whatever version of the song was around then – but the one I listened to and thought of was the version performed by Huckleberry Flint. As for “Sally Ann,” I think I discovered that it might not be as old a song as I thought, or something along those lines, so I took out the reference to the song, even though I don’t think I ever included the title… Anyway, I initially connected it to the scene after “Dixie” in chapter 5 (the song Myghal plays on his fiddle), but I ended up connecting it (via the “soundtrack”) to the feeling generated in the scene at the end of chapter 21.

I can feel that when I listen to it! I think it definitely fits that particular scene really well. The music and lyrics both. I love having a soundtrack to listen to! :)

Tea or coffee?

Amber: Tea, please. Fruit-flavored or peppermint preferred. :)

I love tea also, but would prefer citrus flavors over peppermint. ;)

Name five things you can't live without (the necessities are a given, these should be fun!)

Amber: (I’m assuming “things” like God and the abilities to speak, see, move, etc. are also a given!)

The Bible
Nature (I love its beauty and the solitude and reflection it affords.)
Books (You know it! *wink*)
A Computer (OK, I hope I could live without this, but at this point in my life, it’s kind of useful!)

You assumed right. :) And of course books have to be on your list! Where would we be without them?! (Let's not even contemplate such a thing, yes? ;)

Do you have any more stories or sequels planned for the future?

Amber: Well, I hope to edit and publish Forget Me Not next. I also hope to write a companion short story and another sequel. We shall see! And that’s just the immediate future – who knows what stories might capture my imagination after that, Lord willing? :)

I will absolutely look forward to Forget Me Not someday. Will be interesting to see Joe as sweet. Provided you don't completely change him from your original plan, of course. And I'd love more of Myghal's story! (hint hint) 

Thank you so much for answering these questions, Amber! This was fun! :)

My pleasure! Thank you for letting me chat with you about my book!

About the Author

Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart.

About the Book

Bleeding Heart
Goodreads :: Amazon :: Book Website

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

I was quite impressed with Ms. Stokes' writing. Especially for a first novel! :) The descriptions of the way people lived during the late 1800s drew me in and felt well researched. I could easily picture what was going on and where people were. Life was hard back then. It hasn't been kind to most of these characters really. And their individual and collective journey's will take them all to places they had never imagined.

With heartbreak and pain, this is not a happy, sunshiney story. These characters have to endure a great deal to reach any semblance of a happy ending. And even then, I'm not sure I would call it a typical "happy ending" because while there's certainly happiness there (yay!), there is still heartache to get beyond. I had the sense that these characters had lots more hard work ahead, but it would be worth it for them. And those two lovebirds were awful cute with one another! At least once they got their act together and realized how they felt. But I should note it doesn't truly develop until close to the end. And much of the development is left up to your imagination.

I also thought the point of view changes worked pretty well. The reader gets just enough perspective to make them understand why this or that character is acting this way. As for the characters themselves....

Joe and Sally circle one another, by turns tender and harsh. Sally has become pretty bitter and skittish; she longs to be loved, yet doesn't really know what to do with it when it shows up. Joe is confused and raw, yet desires love deep inside even while he refuses to admit to it. Myghal steals your heart with his gentleness and sweetness, yet hides a hurt within. Zachary uses gruffness to try and hide his kind and gentle ways. Seth's grief almost drags him down until he gets a wake up call that shakes him out of his stupor. As for the main antagonist, he doesn't deserve to be talked about! At all. In short, the characters are where Ms. Stokes' writing shines! They feel real and leap off the page, drawing you into caring about them.

I do have to admit that portions of the story moved a little fast for me. The characters travel around quite a bit, and just when I'd get settled into where they were now, they up and left again. This caused me to be unable to stay emotionally involved the whole time. One particular plotline ended so quickly, then we get a time jump immediately after. I wished that character had gotten a little better closure than they ended up with. For the amount of time spent with them prior to that scene, it felt cut short a little too abruptly for me. (I was reading an ARC, so maybe this has been changed in the final edits.) The other thing I wanted more of was Myghal! I loved him immediately and want more details about him! I'm hoping we'll get more of his story some day in the future. He so deserves more page time. He was definitely my favorite character. Well, maybe that title should be split between him and Zachary. I liked Zachary a lot too! ;)

So. While there were a few rough parts, overall the writing shines and made me fall in love with it! It convinced me to look forward to what she may write in the future. I've a very good feeling she'll only get better with time! :D I definitely recommend this book. It deserves to be read and enjoyed!

**I received a complimentary e-ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review. (Thanks Amber! :)

But whatever the man's motives, he held out hope in all its shining glory, and Joe lacked the heart to resist.

It was as if he was now a warm, fresh loaf of bread, instead of the nebulous, sad mass of dough he had been.

The door to his heart stood wide open, and Sally was dancing him out of the shadows.

As he drew out a high note, he thought of how they both were healing, blossomin' like two stems of a lupine plant reaching their petals out to each other and up to the sunny sky.

"You misjudge me, Miss Clay. I'm a cook. I don't break things; I make things for people to enjoy."


“Journey to the West” Giveaway! One U.S. resident (randomly drawn) will receive a signed copy of Bleeding Heart and a collection of items from the story’s settings, handpicked by the author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 18, 2013

Apologies, Explanations, & Exclamations!! {I May Get A Little Personal}

Apologies first: I'm so sorry! I announce that I'm back from my trip and then proceed to basically disappear again. And after I promised at least one review and everything! :( I'm sorry, my friends. Truly.

Secondly, FYI. I am splitting this post into two parts. The first will explain a little more of what's happening and the second will get a little more personal. So for those of you who don't wish to read my personal exclamations and explanations and whatnot, you are more than welcome to read part one only and skip part two. Okay? Okay. :)

Part 1: Explanation

The short version? I made a decision recently. A HUGE and SCARY and LIFE-CHANGING decision! That decision means that life around these parts will have to change for a couple months. By that, I mean I will still be blogging, don't worry! But my posts will most likely become a little less frequent and my response to comments may not happen immediately. I simply won't have enough time unfortunately. Also to any fellow bloggers, I will still visit your blogs and comment, but I'm doubting it will be possible every single day.

I still plan to read a few books and write reviews and still comment and all the other awesome blogging and reading stuffs! I have found an awesome and spectacular group of friends through blogging and I refuse to lose that! So I'm not disappearing! You just won't see me all the time for a little while.

That being said, I have an awesome book review coming up tomorrow (Monday). And a visit from the lovely author herself! So stay tuned for that, because Ms. Amber Stokes' book is a pretty wonderful read and I think you'll definitely want to "meet" her. :D

Stick around! I hope you won't give up on me. I promise not to leave forever. (Barring any unforeseen thing happening of course. :)

Part 2: Exclamations and Ranting and Raving {Or, you know, the usual.} {And yes, this will get pretty personal, so be warned.}

Without going into too much detail and boring you silly, suffice it to say that my immediate future has a LOT of boxes in it. It will involve going through just about everything I own and choosing what I want to keep and what I don't. It will involve a gazillion and one decisions. Funny how just one decision can spawn thousands of others! :/ It will involve doing a lot of crying as I contemplate saying good-bye to dear and precious people that I love.

But it will also involve looking forward to more time with my family. Especially my mother. I know I've mentioned before (probably way too many times in fact) that my mom's health isn't great. Well, it really isn't. Every trip home, I can see a little more deterioration and well....she's my mother. It's incredibly hard to live so far away when she's not doing great and realizing that every single moment with her right now is infinitely precious. Because the honest reality is, she doesn't have that many good and quality years left. Oh, she may well live for lots of years yet, but those years won't all be quality years where I'll be able to really talk with her and spend time with her.

I want to spend quality time with my mother while I can. So while this was a really hard choice to make, I do feel it's the right one. For those of you who want to pray, I ask for your prayers! For anyone else, please keep me in your thoughts. There's a lot of things yet to do and right now it all looks really overwhelming and SCARY.

I have a couple months to get all this accomplished, but once I'm there and pretty settled in, I hope to return to my normal routine with posts and such. :) Meanwhile, I plan to still stick around! I can't go two whole months without picking up a book to read, you know! Plus I've promised a couple reviews, so I'll have to stop and read. ;P

So yeah. That's what's been going on the last week or so. Big stuff!

Anyway, I hope you're having a lovely weekend. I will see you all here on Monday! :)

August 14, 2013

Food-Filled Wednesday Hodgepodge

It's been a long while since I joined in on Wednesday's! But here I am. :)

1. My daughter earned her Master's Degree this past weekend...what's something you've 'mastered' in recent weeks or months?

Hmmm. I'm kind of stuck on this question. And of course it's the first one! So what does that mean for the rest of them?!

2. What song most reminds you of your childhood?

Jesus Loves Me

3. What do you think about single gender groups and/or events? Should every group/event be open to both genders? If not, what sort of exceptions do you think are appropriate?

I like them! So I don't think every event has to be open to both. I'd say it depends on what the event is. I mean, I don't see many men rushing to go to a bridal shower, do you? ;)

4. What's your favorite spice? Your favorite dish containing your favorite spice?

Cinnamon ~ Cinnamon Rolls!! Mmmmm.

5. I saw this question on Marla's facebook page and asked if I could steal borrow it for the Hodgepodge...thanks Marla!

Chevron patterns are everywhere! Do you like it or think its just a little too much? Do you own anything 'chevron'?

I like it! I don't actually have anything 'chevron' I don't think.

6. What's something you disliked as a child, but can fully appreciate now?

Mashed potatoes!

7. What can irritate you very quickly?

Finding bacon in my food. Blech. *wrinkles nose in distaste* Guess I've got food on my brain. Although I shouldn't be hungry this time of night....

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm a very sleepy blogger,
I've no thoughts to add or say.
So I'll close this little Hodgepodge,
And hope you have an awesome day! :D

August 12, 2013

July EstellaGram :: Week Five

And! Time for the last three days for July. I had fun doing this for a whole month. :)

I decided to continue into August and then....I went on vacation for a week. So I'm a little behind on my August pictures. But hopefully I can get caught up this week! We shall see. Stay tuned! :)

On to week five:

Day 29 - Zero

{I don't know what the statistical probability of love at first sight would actually be. But I imagine it's a lot closer to zero than to 100. I could be wrong, who knows?}

Day 30 - Yearn

{The Singing Boones by Dale White. Ellen yearns to grow up and fall in love in this story. It's old, but a fun book about a family joining a wagon train heading west to the California Gold Rush. I definitely recommend reading it if you ever get a chance!}

Day 31 - Cozy

{Cozy and comfort kind of go hand in hand, right? Taking place in the hills of Virginia, this series takes me back home again. The accents, the food, the characters, it's just a wonderful series! I wish more people knew about them.}

August 11, 2013

July EstellaGram :: Week Four

I'M BACK!!!! :D

I know. You're just thrilled to bits, right? ;) I had a wonderful trip. (Might write a small post later, with a couple pictures to tell you a bit about it. We'll see.) It was so good to see my family and get the chance to catch up with some old friends. There's just nothing like going back to the place where you grew up. Lots of memories there! :) Plus I got a couple books read, so hopefully a review or two will be showing up this week. Back to the old routine again and real life! *sigh* Do I hafta?! ;P

Anyway, I need to get caught up on my July EstellaGram posts. So here's week four:

Day 22 - Vintage

{Vintage things don't want to be forgotten. That's my theory anyway. And this is another fabulous series by Kristen Heitzmann!}

Day 23 - Sparkles

{Haven't read this one yet, but I've heard wonderful things about it!}

Day 24 - Heavy

{So yeah. This one is kind of the opposite. Go with it, okay?}

Day 25 - Loud

{When things get loud, this is what you should do.}

Day 26 - Tome

{Tome - a volume forming a part of a larger work. This is my favorite book of this series. But the entire series is awesome! You should read it. Period.}

Day 27 - Coffee

{This series is so cute! I promise that you'll laugh a lot. I did, anyway.}

Day 28 - Refreshing

{It was so refreshing to return to Galveston and enter Bella Neeley's life again! Cannot wait to read book two and my copy should hopefully be showing up soon! Yay!!!}

August 2, 2013

Leaving On a Jet Plane...

Hello my lovelies!

As you've no doubt surmised, I am off on a jet plane today. Literally! :D I'm on my way to visit my family and that requires spending the day in airports and airplanes. Doesn't that sound like fun?

In all honesty, I do enjoy flying. I've done it often enough that it's part of the anticipation of a trip anymore. I love to people watch and listen to conversations and imagine where all those people started their trips and where they are traveling to. Airports are fascinating! The amount of people visiting one in a single day has to be a ginormous number. Here's a great description of an airport:
It's not just the looming threat of the ride ahead-being stuffed into seats like sardines and then catapulted through the air in a narrow metal tube-but also the terminals themselves, the press of people, the blur and spin of the place, a dancing, dizzying hum, all motion and noise, all frenzy and clamor, and the whole thing sealed off by glass windows like some kind of monstrous ant farm. 
~ Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Doesn't that just make you want to go on a trip yourself?! That quote never fails to make me smile. While it certainly has a ring of truth, it doesn't make airplanes and airports sound all that wonderful, does it? Regardless, I am definitely looking forward to my adventure! (All trips are mini adventures in my mind. You might have a plan, but you really don't know what may happen. And by the end, once you're home again, you might just decide that 'adventure' perfectly describes your experience. :)

Anyhoo, I do have a point here........what was it again?

OH! Right! So. I'm not going to be able to do any posting in this cozy little spot for the next week. Because my parents do not have internet. *gasp* I know, right?! ;) Therefore, the only thing I will have is my phone and while I'm very fond of it, it does not make for great blog posting options. *sadface*

But! Butbutbut!!! I will be back soon (Lord willing and the creek don't rise) with more reviews and lots of fun! Hopefully. Those reviews are all dependent on me getting some reading done while I'm gone, so let's cross our fingers for that one! (Bleeding Heart here I come.) Point being, don't go anywhere. I Will Be Back!

Meanwhile, I hope to stay connected through twitter and I'm going to try to still read up on the posts of all my awesome bookish friends. (They know who they are. At least they should! ;) Suppose we'll see how that goes. Or I'm always available through email! I love getting email. So if you're bored one day, send me a quick note. I'd love it. :)

Alright, enough already! If you've read this far, thank you! I figure most of you have gotten tired of my ridiculous ravings and exited long before this paragraph. Sorry for all the parentheses and exclamation points. But I can't help it! This is what happens when I get excited for trips! ;)

Have a lovely week! I'll see y'all here once I'm home again and coherent. And probably talking with a thick southern accent. (I pick it up again every single time I go home. ;)

August 1, 2013

Songstone Blog Tour and Review {Plus Giveaway}

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Kobo :: Smashwords

Kita can meld song into stone. In a world with no written word, storytelling—the ability to meld (or magically impress) song into stone—is greatly honored. The village honors her master as their medicine man, but Kita knows he's secretly a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it from him. Each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope. His spells blind the villagers, so they can’t see him for what he really is.

Not that anyone would want to help her. She was found in the forest as a baby and would have died if a village girl hadn't brought her home. But the villagers saw Kita's unusual coloring and decided she belonged to the mysterious tribe who lives in the forests of the volcano, a people feared for their mystical powers. So they fear her too. Now seventeen, she can barely admit her deepest longing: to know who she really is and where she belongs.

Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He's come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village—a storyteller who'll be chosen at the great assembly. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom and she'll risk her life to take it.

A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people.

Dark and twisty is a good description of this story! I wasn't sure what to expect upon starting it. Really, I went in pretty blindly as to what it would even be about. This is not a bad thing! It just means that I was quite surprised where the story ended up taking me. :) Ms. Goldfinch weaves you into her world so subtly that you're hooked in before you know it! But I should warn you that it's not a light and sweet journey at all. Instead, it's gritty and hard and painful. This world doesn't pull any punches. On anybody.

Kita has been ostracized all her life, thus she's quite cynical and bitter in the beginning. Quite frankly, I had a hard time even liking her for the bigger portion of the book. She tends to anticipate that everyone will hate her automatically, so she tries to push them away first. Yet she's a contradiction, to the point that she doesn't even understand herself. And that's where I began to like her! She wanted so badly to have friends and family, yet she tried to deny that desire. I had sympathy for her frustration and wanted her to realize she was worthy of all of that. Thus, I was compelled to make sure she was going to get her happy ending because I really wanted her to have one! That's when I knew that Ms. Goldfinch had done her job well. She had me caring for this character and her journey, when I hadn't thought I ever would. A sign of a great writer! :)

There is romance here, but it's very quiet and mostly in the background for much of the book. The realities of this mysterious world make it so any happy endings are difficult and hard-won. And I have to admit that I couldn't always figure out why Pono liked her so well. She certainly wasn't much good at giving him any encouragement. That's not to say there weren't a few sweet moments between Pono and Kita however! ;) And I was rooting for them by the end.

Ms. Goldfinch's writing is very unique. It took me several chapters to adjust to her descriptions of this world around Kita. All the comparisons bugged me a bit in the first chapter, but as I got more into the story, it smoothed out and I no longer even noticed it. So basically, what happened with this book is I started it thinking it was too dark for me and I wasn't really going to like it. But somewhere along the way I was swept up in spite of myself! And by the time I finished the last page, I was in awe of the journey Ms. Goldfinch had laid out behind me. It really has the feel of a legend that's been passed down through generations. Kita's story is challenging and hard, yet it has an inner beauty that can only be experienced by reading it yourself. :)
The bird flew down again and hovered before me, its wings fluttering wildly. I grabbed a handful of pebbles and flung them at it. The hiri darted over my head. Singing out another trill, it flew up through the leaves and disappeared.
I gingerly felt the hot, aching spot on my forehead. When I drew my hand away, I saw a single drop of bright red blood glistening on my thumb. Ungrateful little bird. Shaking my head, I rinsed my burning hands in the stream and washed my face. When I felt my forehead again, I found nothing. It was as if the bird had never touched me.
How strange.

About The Author

Lena lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. She writes fiction for young adults, mostly light fantasy with a healthy dose of "sigh-worthy" romance.

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We’re doing a sweet summer giveaway in conjunction with the blog tour! The giveaway is open internationally, and one winner (randomly drawn) will receive:
  • A signed copy of Songstone (Paperback)
  • A $10 Dairy Queen gift card (U.S.) or a $10 gift card (international)
  • A sea glass necklace with turtle charm (designed by The Studio of Glass)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*More information about the blog tour found here.*


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