Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gilded Cage (The Canary Club Novelettes #1) by Sherry D. Ficklin Review

Hey readers, Ethan here with a new review for you guys. I'm so excited to be sharing my thoughts on this first novella in a new series from one of my all-time favorite authors, Sherry D. Ficklin. Get ready for a new historical adventure that'll rock your socks off! Read on to see my thoughts on Gilded Cage, the first in Sherry's new: Canary Club series. Before we get to my thoughts, here a bit about the novel and our author:

Gilded Cage
The Canary Club Novelettes, Book 1
Author: Sherry D. Ficklin
Published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Spark Serials

Genre: YA/Historical/Romance
Series Website: 

The Canary Club series consists of three novelettes which together form a stunning prequel to the full length novel, The Canary Club.

About the book:

A dazzling story of star-crossed lovers set against the backdrop of gritty prohibition-era New York City and the dangerous gangs who ruled the streets.

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis.Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future–and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. As she watches her world fall apart, Masie must decide whether to take her place in the hierarchy, or spread her wings, leaving the people she loves, and the life she despises, far behind her.

About the Author:

Sherry is a full-time writer from Colorado and the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best-selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes New Adult fiction under the pen name Ranae Glass and appears as a guest speaker at several conventions annually. You can find her at her official website,, or stalk her on her Facebook page She is represented by Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary.


My Thoughts:

As most of my readers well know, I am a historic fiction freak! I love everything and everything to do with historical literature and am always searching for something new. I've always been of the mindset that the historic genre is the big opportunity the YA market has, but that's another story. With one of my all-time historical series (Stolen Empire) already under her belt, I had no doubt that entering into yet another literary universe of Sherry Ficklin's would be an adventure well worthwhile. 

The raging 20s, gangsters, mobs, booze, and rubes: what could be better?

Gilded Cage is a rip-roaring good time! An incredible start to a series that's sure to be the 'bees-knees'.

I'll go ahead and admit that I'm one of the few readers lucky enough to have read Canary Club (Release TBA) [having been fortunate enough to beta-read it for the author]. That being said, I was foaming at the mouth for more from the characters and world that Ficklin created. Even I was shocked at how blown away Gilded Cage left me.

While a quick read, Gilded Cage is everything readers will be looking for and more. A great introduction to the plot and, more importantly, the life of our heroine, Masie Schultz. Our young ingenue will steal your heart and leave you begging for more. Any fan of Ficklin's will well-know her talent for crafting strong female characters and Masie certainly doesn't disappoint.

True to the setting, Ficklin's Canary Club novelettes hold nothing back. They're gritty and dark, complete with a mysterious, yet jovial-tone that fans of the Jazz Era are well acquainted with. Straight from the worlds of Gatsby and Bill McCoy, Ficklin will jazz her way into your bookish hearts with Gilded Cage.

Come for the words, but stay for the party!

It should come as no surprise that I am granting Gilded Cage a near-perfect 5-star review. Be sure to grab yourself a copy today and let's get this joint a-swinging! The perfect read to start your holiday reading season out right!


Alright readers, you've heard the word! Now get-to-gettin' and grab yourself a copy of Gilded Cage today! Huge happy release day to the incredible Sherry Ficklin. Thanks so much for stopping by. Until next time, Happy Reading!


Gilded Cage (The Canary Club Novelettes #1) by Sherry D. Ficklin Release Day Launch

Gilded Cage
The Canary Club Novelettes, Book 1

Author: Sherry D. Ficklin
Published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Spark Serials
Genre: YA/Historical/Romance

The Canary Club series consists of three novelettes which together form a stunning prequel to the full length novel, The Canary Club.

About the book:

A dazzling story of star-crossed lovers set against the backdrop of gritty prohibition-era New York City and the dangerous gangs who ruled the streets.
Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis.Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future–and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. As she watches her world fall apart, Masie must decide whether to take her place in the hierarchy, or spread her wings, leaving the people she loves, and the life she despises, far behind her.


It’s dark when I finally roll to my feet, wrapping my lavender satin robe around me. I wait until I’ve heard Daddy and JD leave before sneaking from my room and out onto the terrace. Butler has left a plate of pasta for me, covered with a tin lid to keep it warm in the hopes that I might eat. My stomach growls at the scent of garlic and pesto, chipping away at my pathetic attempt at a hunger strike.

Taking my seat I lift the lid and dig in, stopping only long enough to breathe and drain a bottle of red wine. By the time I’ve finished I’m full and sleepy and enjoying the soft tingle of drunkenness as it spreads through me.

Maybe that’s why I don’t hear the front door. I don’t hear the footsteps approaching me from behind. I don’t even hear his breath until I feel the weight of his hands on my shoulders, rubbing in gentle circles. “How you feelin’, Mas?” Vinny asks.

Relaxing back into the chair I look up, unable to keep the sour grin from my face. “Never better.”
Releasing me he steps around the table, helping himself to a seat. “That’s not how I hear it. I hear you lay in bed all day feelin’ sorry for yourself”

“Can you blame me?” I ash harshly, straightening in my chair.

He’s still for a minute, then pulls the fedora off his head and plays with it in his hands. “I’m sorry about your ma, she was a fine lady.”

I snort, the booze in my belly making me bold. “She was a nut job and everyone knew it.” Now he looks up, his thin lips downturned at the edges, “She was good to me.”

Signing I stand, helping myself to the crystal decanters on the tray. “She loved you like her own,” I offer gently as I pour myself a drink. “It’s the only thing she was good at, loving people. Wasn’t great at taking care of them, though.”

She’d tried to take care of Daddy at first. I know she always secretly hoped he’d change his ways, as if her love could make him a better man. But, as much as they may want to, people don’t really change. Time passes, choices are made, but we are who we are in the end.

“Is there anything I can do?” he asks, twisting in his chair to look at me.

I just hold up my glass, “This seems to be helping.”

Standing, he walks over, taking the glass from my hand and swallows back the contents in one gulp. 

“Never drink to feel better, Mas. That’s not how the stuff works.” I frown, pushing past him, “Don’t tell me what to do.”

He stops me, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward him until the tip of his crooked nose is touching my forehead, “I’m not gonna let you throw yourself away like she did.”

His words are sharp and they cut like glass.

I shut my eyes against them, against the closeness of him, the heat radiating off his body, the smell of bourbon on his breath. Part of me demanding to push him away, the other part wanting to lose myself in him.

“You left,” he continues, his tone accusatory. “You left so you wouldn’t have to watch—but I watched. I watched the light in her go out. I won’t watch that happen to you, Masie. I can’t. So you’re going to have to be strong. Because we need you. I need you. It’s awful dark here, Mas. We need you to be the light.”

The first tear slips from beneath my closed lids. Maybe it’s the desperation in his voice, or the fact that he’s right, but something in his words strikes me to the core. It’s tempting, far too tempting, to drink the pain away, to let it eat me from the inside out until there’s nothing left to hurt.

But I can’t.

I can’t be like my mother. I won’t.

About the Author:

Sherry is a full-time writer from Colorado and the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best-selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes New Adult fiction under the pen name Ranae Glass and appears as a guest speaker at several conventions annually. You can find her at her official website,, or stalk her on her Facebook page She is represented by Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fated Destiny (A Crimson Tree Publishing Romance Anthology) Announcement

We have an exciting romance anthology coming soon from seven amazing authors!



Crimson Tree Publishing is pleased to announce the upcoming release and cover reveal for FATED DESTINATIONS: A ROMANCE COLLECTION. This romantic boxed set will take readers across the World and possibly the Universe to multiple unique destinations. This set is scheduled for an exclusive Amazon onlyrelease on December 27, 2016. Readers who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited will be able to get this title for FREE on release day. If you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, don’t worry because Crimson Tree Publishing has an amazing pre-order and release day deal listing this boxed set at only $.99. Don’t miss out on this exciting deal with seven uniquely romantic tales by best-selling and award-winning authors.

FATED DESTINATIONS: A Contemporary, Paranormal, and Science Fiction Romance Boxed Set

Escape from the everyday with this set of 7 all-new travel-based romances from award-winning authors. These exciting stories span the globe (and beyond!) to spin tales of love and intrigue in exotic locations. Take a mental vacation today with the Fated Destinations box set.
A Royal Problem by Julie Wetzel
Jessie is tasked with saving a set of jewels from pirates that attack her cruise ship. She jumps overboard and swims for shore, knowing only that she must find Lord Marcus at the majestic castle in Ospioria…

Mandatory Vacation by Kelly Risser
When workaholic Natalie Olsen is forced to take a vacation by her new boss, she books a cabana at the private island resort of Hibiscus Cay. But instead of relaxing, she finds herself intrigued by the handsome resort manager who seems to be hiding something…

Guide Me Gently by Peggy Martinez
Alyssa Monroe always dreamed of escaping to exotic locales as a photographer, so she’s thrilled as she sets off for Dasia Island. But only one guide is willing to take her deep into a forbidden forest… a sexy, tattooed local who sets her blood on fire and gets her camera finger itching.

Hawaiian Sunrise by Melissa J. Cunningham
Betrayed just before her wedding day, brokenhearted Jamie rents a bungalow on the beautiful island of Maui. Will the tour guide who shows her the island also be able to show her how to trust again?

Jessie’s Girl by Susan Harris
After she lost her mother to cancer, Maxine Fox threw herself into drugs, drink, and partying to cope with the loss. When she is expelled from her third school, her father decides to send her to a catholic private school in Ireland. But tattooed bisexual Max is probably not going to fit in easily…

Prisms by Kendra Saunders
The invitation was to a diplomatic peace ceremony on the desert planet of Quassdar. But Quassdar is also known for its steamy sex magick rituals, and it seems like Griffin may have gotten things a little bit mixed up…

Ashes Overboard by Sandy Goldsworthy
For graduation, Aubrey Sheppard’s fiancĂ© gave her a dream Caribbean Cruise vacation. The only problem is, their relationship ended before the ship ever set sail. Now Aubrey—an inexperienced traveler—sets out alone, nervous and unsure. A shared cab ride introduces her to someone new, who’s also trying to move on with his life…

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Lost Codex (The Collectors' Society #4) by Heather Lyons Teaser Blitz


Today we are sharing some teasers for THE LOST CODEX by Heather Lyons. This is the 4th book in The Collectors' Society series and it will be released on November 7th. Pre-order for this title will be available soon. Be sure to check out the links for previous books in the series below.


✿ THE LOST CODEX by Heather Lyons
(The Collectors’ Society, #4 / November 7, 2016)
Pre-order links will be available soon!
BLURB: Allies, once inseparable, splinter until they break apart. An insidiousness carves its way through Wonderland, challenging the land’s very existence. Battle lines will be drawn as pages, long languishing in darkness, are finally illuminated. Swords will clash, blood will be spilled, and lives will be lost. For what is written can still be erased.






Heather Lyons is known for writing epic, heartfelt love stories often with a fantastical twist. From Young Adult to New Adult to Adult novels—one commonality in all her books is the touching, and sometimes heart-wrenching, romance. In addition to writing, she's also been an archaeologist and a teacher. She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon | Newsletter

Enchanted Souls (Saint's Grove #11) by Tia Silverthorne Bach Blog Tour (Creature-A-Day #1)

Enchanted Souls
by Tia Silverthorne Bach
A Saint’s Grove Novel, Book 11
Publication Date: 10/21/16

Two Souls Tethered. An Unbreakable Bond.

A rare occurrence brings the planets into alignment, causing the seals that separate the universes to break. Lost souls search for home while two hearts that were shattered try to find their missing pieces.

When Alyxandria Duvall meets Micah, sparks fly, and their hearts burst into flames. They welcome their daughter not long after; then Micah goes missing under mysterious circumstances, leaving a path of heartache, death, and destruction in his wake. Still, Fate has more in store for them.

Galactic anomalies are propelling their lives toward their destinies. Light years separate them, but their souls gravitate toward one another. Can love overpower the universe’s boundaries? 

Buy Links:

Amazon ~ B&N ~ Kobo ~ iBooks 

Welcome! To celebrate the release of Enchanted Souls, we are featuring a creature from the book every weekday from 10/24-10/31, including daily giveaways.


About the Author:

Tia Silverthorne Bach has been married to her college sweetheart for twenty years, has three beautiful girls, and adores living in the breathtaking state of Colorado. Her daughters were born in Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore; and she feels fortunate to have called many places home. She believes in fairy tales and happy endings and is an avid reader and rabid grammar hound.

She is an award-winning, multi-genre author and an Editor for Indie Books Gone Wild. From an early age, she escaped into books and believes they can be the source of healing and strength. If she’s not writing, you can find her on the tennis court, at the movies, reading a good book, or spooning Jif peanut butter right out of the jar.

Connect with the Author:

Sign up for her Author newsletter:

Check out Tia Bach, Author on Facebook for today’s creature giveaway.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Searching for Answers in a Life Full of Questions (AKA Where the Hell Have I Been Part 2)

Hello readers! Very long time, no talk.

No seriously, it's been so long since I drafted a blog post that I had to confirm my identity to Blogger. That's beyond embarrassing. Hello world! It's Ethan, and believe it or not, I am still alive. I'm writing today for the first time in... months. I've come to you today with some feels I've been holding in for quite some time that I'm ready to get out into the open. With explanation for my absence and for support from my tribe.

Nine months and two weeks ago, I posted a very important post entitled "Mandatory 'Where the Hell Have I Been?' Post". January 13, 2016 seems an entire lifetime away from me now. I just re-read that post and I can't even see the Ethan that wrote that post. He had such high hopes for this year. He was going to straighten up his ways and blaze a path, making 2016 his best year yet. He was struggling, but he was optimistic. He was confused, and saw darkness on his horizon, but he was determined to fight it.

Nine months and two week later, I now know that Ethan didn't survive the battle.

Life sunk its' claws into that Ethan. And broke him.




Nine months and two weeks later, I mourn the loss of that Ethan. The Ethan with an inkling of hope for 2016. The Ethan who thought the dark times had ended and the time for a new era was neigh.

Nine months and two weeks later, I'm here writing this post. Trying to answer life's most important question:

Who is Ethan Gregory?

For the record, this sexy mo-fo is Ethan Gregory.
I've fought tooth and nail over the last year to answer that question. I've been broken beyond recognition and searched every part of my heart and soul to find myself. I've looked in every mirror and analyzed every moment looking for an answer. And still have come up empty. Or have I?

When I last wrote on my personal life, I was in a pretty dark place. Or, what I thought was a dark place. I was so burnt out on drama, on the book world, on life in general, that I thought I had hit rock bottom and the only place to go was up.

Then I fell into the sub basement. As I continued my descent into madness, I had to let go of the ties that were binding me to my old life. The first one was one of the strongest. The ties to one of my deepest loves and passions: the book world. As I mentioned in that post nine months ago, this blog and the book world have ruled my life for a very long time. I spent more time in front of a screen or my Nook working for someone else, that I forgot who I was. As mentioned before, I began to resent everything about this industry and honestly, nothing really changed.

The emails still continued to build up, the drama became more and more overbearing. The name calling, the snarkiness, the negative vibes coming from all corners of the arena. It became too much. Everything about the industry became too much for me to bear. Ethan was only one guy, trying to make a difference. But then something happened. I realized that no matter how hard I try, how much I stress, and no matter how many nights I stay awake wondering how I can change the industry: I can't. I'm but one person. I can't change the situation. I can only change the way I feel about the situation. I can change my outlook on life. And so I did.

I shrugged off the negativity. I found the root of the issue and I eradicated it from my life. I realized the only way for me to move on and find my footing again was to step back. Hardcord. Remove myself completely from the situation and then slowly find a way to fall back in love with the world that's saved me from the brink on more than one occasion. So I did. I quit.

I stopped accepting review requests. I resigned from my internship. I stopped reading. I turned off my email notifications. I backed out of several book events and conferences.

For the first time in years, I was free. And boy, was it liberating.

I lived life.

I embraced my life. For a few months, I was on cloud nine. My life was finally falling into place. I grew to a level of acceptance with my employment. I spent time exploring my life and finding what made me happy. I got to have fun. I went out, I made memories.

Third Eye Blind concert with Landon in March. This proved to be one of the most interesting nights of my life.Seriously. 
I explored the grey zone. That area between what I'd always considered taboo and wrong, and the white-picket-fence life I'd always aspired to have. I gave into life and let go. I allowed myself to experience things I'd only heard about. The kind of life you see on TV or read about in books. The kind of life where you fall asleep at night thankful and then wake up with a smile on your face ready to face it all again. Life was good. Life was great. 2016 was going to be my year.

I lived fully, never looking back or giving myself a reason to say no. I told myself to only say 'yes'. Don't think about the 'what ifs' or the 'how', just 'do it'. I made those kinds of life experiences you hope to one day tell your grandkids about. The kinds where you think 'what was I thinking?' but then laugh until you cry about the stories you can tell. I smile as I write this. I was feeling great. I've done the responsible adult thing for years. I got my degree(s), I worked hard. I was allowed a few months of fun, right?

I was, however, slightly weary.

When would life come crashing down? Could I really let myself be happy knowing that any day, it could come to a screeching halt? I tried not to worry. To live in the moment and take life as it came. I grew increasingly paranoid. I prayed I wouldn't sabotage my happiness. Every day was a blessing.

Until it wasn't.

Life gave me lemons.

Then the whole damn forest burnt down.

My life changed overnight. Literally. My high, all the carefree feelings I had? Everything changed when mortality and responsibility slapped me in the face so hard, I still feel the pain all this time later.

That cold night in February, after a night of questionable decisions and more stories, I got the call. The call that broke me in ways I didn't even know you could be broken. The night I almost said goodbye to someone very, very close to me. The night someone in my life made a snap decision that nearly ended theirs. The moment I realized that people in my life were suffering, way worse than me. Suffering in ways I still can't comprehend. Suffering in ways they didn't see a solution and there was only one way out.

I remember calling my best friend in the middle of the night, so ridiculously broken that I couldn't even speak right. I was inconsolable, scared, and without answers. I couldn't comprehend the decisions that were being made and I felt helpless to stop them.

After a night of no sleep, I spent the next several days in the ICU, watching as that person fought for their life. You never know how fortunate you are until you see someone you've known your entire life hooked up to machines, not knowing if or when they'll leave the hospital the same person. I watched as not only I broke, but all of those around me. I was shattered. As they grew stronger, and eventually left the hospital and sought out help, I couldn't piece myself back together. I tried, but my 'high' on life was over.

My entire mood changed, my outlook on life changed. Everything became a rush. Life was fleeting, and I was wasting mine. I had no direction, I didn't know what tomorrow held. I suddenly felt guilty for every moment of happiness I'd afforded myself as I shrugged my responsibilities. I resented myself and all the time I had wasted. I pulled away from the grey zone and flung myself clear into the darkness.

The next months I spent barely able to pull myself out of bed in the mornings. If I wasn't working, I was sleeping. Or crying. I couldn't pull myself together. I don't know exactly what switch was flipped, but Ethan was gone. That voice in my head that told me to stay strong died. He was overpowered by voices of doubt, hatred, and fear. The needle on my moral compass spun so out of control, it flew into another orbit.

I found the few things in life that tethered me to reality. And I held on. Through all the darkness, I held on. To those two people that saved me from the edge of destruction. They held me as I cried, checked on me every day. Ensured that they'd be here for me regardless of the situation. They never left me alone. Never judged, never prodded. They made sure I worked, slept, ate. I couldn't have made it. They reminded me I was loved. Reminded me I had a purpose. Introduced me to new habits and actions. They welcomed me into their lives with open arms. And sheltered me from further harm.

JK Rowling said it best when she wrote: 'Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.'

I never had to live without love. In fact, I experienced love in ways I'd never felt before. I made sacrifices and after years of caring for others, I allowed someone to care for me. I let go of everything and for the first time focused on the only thing I could: myself. For the first time in nearly twenty-five years, I cared for myself.

I fell and allowed my friends to care for me. I may as well have had a live-in nurse. Even now there are huge gaps in my memory. Long periods of time I don't remember. Things I've completely blocked from my memory. Anyone who knows me, knows I have somewhat of a photographic memory. I remember everything so this is a big deal for me.

Much like Batman's escape from The Pit, it was a long journey, and it wasn't easy. It's so strange to be writing about this, but I fought as both my mind and body rebelled against me. I thought I was going crazy. The voices in my head, never ceasing. Constantly dragging me down. Becoming physically ill several times a day as I watched my life crumble, bit-by-bit each day. The voices tore at the walls around my psyche, eventually blasting through them. Effectively destroying the few things that made me, me.

Having already given up the book world, I turned to my other passions: broadway, comics, film. Nothing would fill the void. Everything disappointed me. I begun to feel that I'd never be happy again.

I watched as those around me, my friends and family dealt with huge life changes. Births, deaths, marriage, divorce. I watched it all through a window. Like a hazy fog. I couldn't even control my own emotions, how could I bring myself to care for theirs? I hated myself for pulling away from the friends who had been there for me, but I knew then (as I do now) that they not only understood, but applauded me for caring for myself.

After months of sadness, I woke up one day and realized something had snapped. I'd done all the crying I could. I saw what my life had become and I couldn't face it anymore. I had to make a change. I was absolutely ashamed of what I was. So thus I jumped to yet another phase I didn't see coming. The one that would truly be the end of Ethan.


As the depression took hold, I became more paranoid than ever. The voices in my head grew to a cacophony of such magnitude, I couldn't sleep. I talked to myself. Yelled at myself. I punished myself. I was my own worst enemy. And as such, I destroyed the pillars around me. I lashed out at my friends and family. Distancing myself from them in the most drastic of ways. I tore myself apart from anything and everything that didn't involve me being alone in the dark, attempting to fight the demons in my mind.

It was months before I was able to find joy again. I honestly don't know that I smiled for weeks at a time. Between the sleeping pills and energy drinks, I was more zombie than human. I realized in an effort to save myself, I was slowly killing myself. I became sick. Disgustingly so. My body rebelled against me and my new lifestyle. I fought to control myself, but lost the battle. Terribly

The level of fitness I was so proud of just months before, became a sickening reality. I couldn't eat. I shook all the time. I was pale and gaunt. In the span of six months, I lost eighty pounds. Some from diet and exercise, but most from my trials and depression. I'm so happy to say I've kept the weight off and I feel better than ever now, but it was not the ideal diet. I'll be the first to admit.

Crazy transformation right? May 2014 vs May 2016. Now I look even more different than the pic on the right!
I thought things could only get better after reaching rock bottom. I was wrong. I thought I had nothing else to lose. Life has a funny way of kicking you while you're down, doesn't she?

April was the hardest month of my entire life. As long as I live, I think I may forever remember the last few weeks of April 2016 as being the hardest time of my life. It started out on a high note. I attended the Roanoke Author Invasion (hosted by one of my very best friends, the incredible Liz Long). It was my first book event of the year (after I had already bailed on three). I needed RAI. I needed the ten hour roadtrip and the weekend surrounded by my friends and the world I had loved. I needed it more than I could say. And it did wonders. I had an absolutely amazing time. I remembered why'd I'd turned to the book world and the security it provided me.

Roanoke Author Invasion with Liz Long, Jo Michaels, Tia Silverthorne-Bach, and P.M. Hernandez
I left Roanoke feeling like a rockstar. Positive and ready to take life by the horns. I felt Ethan stirring to life for the first time in months and did whatever I could to revive him. My old life was there. Ethan was still inside me somewhere, I just needed to bring him out. I came home feeling better than I had in months,

The last three weeks of April were.... trying. To say the very least.

In those three short weeks, I managed to lose three of the most important people in my life. What little bit of heart and soul I had wouldn't make it to May. In a moment of clarity, I realized the only way to move forward in life was to make amends with those who I'd long blamed for my sorrows. And I tried. With explosive results.

When you find yourself in a dark place, the worst thing you can do is surround yourself with others facing their own demons. You feed off one another. When I realized my darkness was being fed by another, I confronted the other and it didn't go well. I learned the hard way that you cannot help those who don't want help. Everyone has to heal at their own pace. As a result, I was forced to detach myself from one who I'd grown extremely close as they (literally) leapt from my life.

While reeling from this, my second tragedy unfolded. My very best friend in life, the girl I've loved since the day we met, faced her darkest hour. The one person in my life who has always been my constant. My catalyst to life and reality, she lost one of the most important people in her life only a week before leaving for boot camp. Our last moments together were shrouded in sadness. Not only would she have to learn to live life with a part of her heart missing, I'd have to learn to live with a large part of mine leaving at a time when I couldn't even hardly live with myself. I did what I could to be there for her. To shield her from spiraling out of control as I had. Grief and loss were emotions I was becoming close to. Closer in ways I didn't even know existed. Barely having time to recover from her loss, fate ripped us apart. For six long weeks, I had to live without my best friend. It was pure hell. Thankfully she's out now and I'm more proud of her than I can put into words, but man. It was a rough time for us both.

Hannah's Navy Boot Camp Graduation June 2016
With the absence of Hannah and the loss of my friend, I found April ending and leaving me in the darkest place yet. Sad and angry. I held fast to one of the only people I had left in life. I poured every ounce of emotion into one vessel and fell into our friendship so hard, we truly became two parts of the same person. Anyone who has experienced a friendship this deep knows how it feels. Words cannot describe the feeling of growing so close to someone. The kind of friendship that 'makes the bad and cold days have light and warmth'. The kind of relationship where the love is so strong, you know it's unhealthy. Love isn't always a physical manifestation, and in my experience emotional relationships are so much more trying than the physical ones.

They also end much more violently.

My mother is a pretty interesting lady. Most of my friends have heard my various 'Melissa-stories'. While we may not get along all the time, I have more respect for her than I can put into writing. The one thing I'll always carry with me is the mantra she's lived by my entire life. The philosophy she's instilled in me that I've learned this year to be more true than most anything I know: 'you can't help who you fall in love with'. Your heart and soul are drawn to who they are and there's truly little-to-nothing you can do about it.

Melissa (Mom) and Austin (brother). Just for reference. 
But that being said, sometimes your heart and mind disagree. When I found myself in a position I shouldn't have, I made brash decisions that left me questioning my entire existence up to this point. After much soul searching, my mind overpowered my heart and decided I wasn't in a good place. It was right, of course. But the break I'd have to make would be anything but clean.

Tearing yourself away from your one source of protection is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I literally felt as though I'd ripped my soul in two. Ethan came back to life in a way that didn't come from strength, but desperation. I needed him back as he was all I had left. The light, the dark, the grey. It was all ripped from me. My heart was shattered in more pieces than I could ever hope to put back together. I was blinded.

My life had no light. No direction. I fell. Spiraled into a darkness I never knew existed. Everything about this reality was a living hell. The very air I breathed depressed me.

I tore myself away from any vestiges of my former life. Vowing to spend some time alone. Finding myself. Knowing I could never be happy until I learned to love myself and stopped depending upon others for my own happiness. Much like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, Old Ethan and New Ethan were inside of me, leaning upon one another, struggling for their very existence. I never knew who I'd see when I looked into the mirror. I didn't know who I was, but each day I grew both weaker and stronger.

Over the next several months, life was a roller coaster of emotions. I didn't feel comfortable anywhere and nothing I did seemed right. I always felt like I was missing *something*. A huge chunk of my heart and soul were missing and no matter what I did, I never felt whole.

With some friends, I managed to attend several awesome events that have become a staple in my life. Planet Comicon (for the fourth year running) was an incredible experience. I met Stan Lee. Well... waved at Stan Lee, but he DID wave back. My partner in crime, Christina Marie (you guys all know who she is) and I really tore up the town and lived the Comicon experience to the fullest.

Planet Comicon with Christina Marie May 2016
The next month I sunk my claws into UtopiaCon for the 3rd time where I was an invited guest. I spoke on a panel regarding book blogging to a packed house alongside four other industry professionals I have the deepest of respect for. It was a week full of lasting memories alongside more friends, but most definitely a rough week for me mentally. I was so glad to have such an awesome support system on hand while I continued to live my dreams. I met so many amazing folks and reconnected with even more old friends. It was a week of ups and downs for me, but in the end, I cherish the memories I made and the experiences I had.

UtopiaCon 2016: I was on a panel! People came to hear ME talk! Can you imagine?
They say bad things come in threes, and unfortunately I found this to be true. In August, my third trial came. I lost my grandmother. My father's mother. She and I were close and her passing really took its' toll on me. In a year full of loss, I hated to experience more, yet I was glad to know she was no longer suffering. My grandma was an incredible woman and was taken from us very suddenly, with little warning. That being said, I am still incredibly thankful for the time I got to spend with her. Many of you saw my memorial to her as I wrote my feelings towards her passing. As a result of that post, at my family's request, I gave the eulogy at Grandma's funeral. Sharing my thoughts with her friends and our family. It was an honor to pay homage to someone who has so special in my life.

My life that, as you can see, had been trampled upon. 2016 has not been kind to me.

Throughout the remainder of the summer, I worked even harder to maintain a balance, but eventually had to come to a hard decision.

I needed help.

It was clear to me that this wasn't just a rough patch I was going through, and I needed the assistance of a professional. After consulting with friends and family, I sought out professional help for my... problems (if you can't tell yet, I hate the 'D' word. I deplore putting labels on anything!) After some hard conversations with my doctor, we planned a course of action and together found a treatment that best fit my lifestyle.

Treatment hasn't been easy, but effective nonetheless.

Eventually I regained my independence. It's an odd feeling to feel so alone, even when you know you never have to be. I isolated myself. Allowing only the closet members of my inner circle to know anything of what I was experiencing. I talked, they listened. Many offering kind words of encouragement, some listening to me cry, some silent as they just allowed me to vent. I slowly came to realize that the one I once called my worst enemy, was actually my closest ally.



He was in there this whole time. He just needed a break I guess. I still haven't figured out exactly what went wrong. I haven't figured out where he went for all these months when I needed him more than ever. I realized that I didn't hate him. And he didn't hate me. I was proud of him.

Ethan is strong. Intelligent. Hardworking. Ethan has two degrees. Speaks three languages. Has read more literature than he can count. Loves deeply, lives fully. Has an incredible family, and Avi. Ethan has an Avi! What isn't to love about Ethan? I realized that all the things I hated about myself. All the insecurities I'd faced were actually what made me strong. What makes us special, makes us strong.

I have an Avi. Best pig ever. Seriously. Look at that face. Forreal. 
 I didn't need to lose Ethan. I needed to love Ethan. I needed to accept Ethan. I needed to embrace Ethan.

And so I did.

It wasn't easy. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. To fall in love with myself again. To allow myself to open myself up to feelings and emotions, to love again. To live again.

Because what's not to fall in love with? I mean have you seen me ? Come on. Damn. The sticker says it all. Oh and Lindsey is alright looking too, I guess. 
I watched and stood beside one of my best friends as he married the love of his life. I was surprised to learn I've got a niece/nephew on the way in the form of a pregnant best friend. I've fallen back into a comfortable groove at work, where I'm excelling beyond anything I have ever done before. I've made new friends. Friends who I can text at any time and say 'put on pants, we're going on an adventure'. And they don't question my motives. They join my parade of crazy and we have adventures that leave me filled with joy again. I've opened my heart yet again. I'm ready to love life. I'm ready to accept change and have the courage to accept the things I cannot.

Koko's Wedding (August 13, 2016)
I've reconnected with the ones I've lost. Well, some of them. It's going to be rocky, but I know that one of the biggest parts of being happy is learning to let go of the past. While things may never work out quite how we sometimes want them to, so long as we have good intentions and a positive outlook, I strongly believe it's worth trying. Love is the strongest of all emotions, and with love on your side, you really cannot lose. Love trumps hate. Hate is hard. Hate hurts. Hate will eat at your soul until there's nothing left. I've learned that you have to forgive others. It's been a struggle for me, but I've come to accept many different facets of my life and that's been a huge one.

Head Broseph Jordan and I (Sept 2016) 
Slowly but surely, I found Ethan again. Together we did things Ethan loved. I reconnected with nature. I reconnected with old friends. Friends that Ethan had. Friends that Ethan loved and who loved Ethan before he turned into someone who didn't recognize his reflection. He reconnected with life.

And then guess what happened? I fell in love with Literature. AGAIN.

I'm not back to 100%. Not by a long shot. In fact, to be honest, I don't think I'll ever again go back to the constant level of book worlding I was doing. To be honest, the idea of writing reviews makes my skin crawl, but I do have several to do. The past couple of months, I have started reading on the regular. I've ready about 30 novels this summer. Some amazing new works by my favorite authors and a few of my all time favorites to remind me why I fell in love with the written word. I'm getting away from the things I feel like I 'have' to do and finally working on things I 'want' to do. I'm working with fewer people and not taking on so many large projects, but Ethan FINALLY started getting back into the swing of things.

I'm still here.

I'm still fighting.

Trying each and every day to see the positives in life. Coming to terms with both of the beings living inside me. Old Ethan and New Ethan, finding a symbiotic balance inside my mind. Allowing me to fully embrace both my light and dark sides. And coming to terms with that being okay.

Because it is okay.

Nobody is perfect. Life is messy

Love is messy.

I don't know my place on this Earth quite yet. I know that sometimes we go through rough patches. I know that it's okay to ask for help. I actually consider it quite brave to realize you've reached a certain point and be able to say 'I can't do this on my own anymore'. And finding the help you need. Life shouldn't be dreaded. We only get one.

Ethan's not completely healed yet. But he's on the mend. As for the rest of me, I'm working to face my demons. I'm still looking out for number one, but I've learned more in the last year than I ever learned in 22 years of schooling. Life isn't measured in moments of victory and triumph, it's measured in the moments you find yourself in the face of adversary and how you rise to the occasion. It's not about proving yourself to others, it's about finding your own sense of well-being and self-worth.

It took me 25 years to learn that the key to my success and happiness isn't going to be found on a piece of paper. A fancy car, home, or six-figure salary. It's inside me. It's been inside me all along. It's in the faces of those I love. In those I trust. In my family whom I love dearly and who believe and support me. In my friends who never turned their backs on me. Who never told me to 'get over it'. Who never shunned me.

Oh I lied. The key to happiness is Funkos. Straight up. I've got well over 200 of these little bastards floating around. I channeled a lot of my energy and emotions into collecting these little guys this year. Time and money well spent, right? I also do Funko photography now.... it's a thing. Go check out my Instagram accounts at @egrgry and @pigandpops!
Even those who broke me, helped me in the end. I won. I'm winning. Life isn't a game, but dammit, I'm out to win. I'm not in it for fame and fortune, but I am here to stay. I'm not giving up.

I don't know what tomorrow holds. I really don't, and that's okay. I have spent my entire life fearing the unknown. Allowing my anxiety to shape me into something unhealthy. Never able to accept what I cannot see. It's bizarre to say, but actually enjoy spontaneity now. I like not knowing where life may take me next. I love the random adventures I find myself taking, and I'm loving the new memories I'm making each and every day.

This year has sucked. I mean woah holy hell. It's been horrible. But it's finally looking up. And I mean it this time. In three weeks, I turn twenty-five. I'm a quarter of a century old. I'm nowhere close to where I wanted to be at age 25, but you know what? That's okay.

I had a bucket list. Things I wanted to accomplish before I hit this milestone, and believe it or not, I've hit several of them. I've missed a few opportunities that I'm still kicking myself for, but 25 sure isn't the end, it's just the beginning. I survived childhood, my teens, and my New Adulthood. It's smooth sailing from here on out, right?

Right? Right.....

Kidding. Kidding.

But let's be honest, now that I've gotten my quarter-life crisis out of the way, maybe the mid-life one won't be so horrible. What's going bald if you get a motorcycle out of it, right? (*prays biggest problems at 45 are going bald and wanting a motorcycle*)

I've thrown a couple of quotes in here already to describe my place in life right now, but I'd like to share another quote from one of my closest friends and confidantes, Bestselling Author Sherry D. Ficklin. This quote touched me from the day I read it and I've never related so closely with a character as I did hers in this moment:

"I have made mistakes that I will never be able to atone for, and I have allowed myself to be selfish in ways you might never understand. I’m not proud of my choices, but neither would I retract a single one."

The funny thing is that no matter how much I love that quote, I'm not sure I completely agree with it anymore. I am proud of myself for the choices I made. I pulled myself away and protected myself at a time when life could have taken a very different direction. While I wish I could alter some decisions, I no longer consider them mistakes of my past, but stepping stones on the path of where and who I am today. 

Friends and family, I implore you. Don't give into the darkness. Live your life to the fullest and without regrets. Don't ever be ashamed to seek guidance and never be too embarrassed to say "I need help". There is always someone out there who can help. Don't be afraid to live, and certainly never be afraid to love.

But above all: love yourself. Claim yourself. Don't live in the grey zone.

Embrace the light.

Embrace the dark.

Embrace you.

Defy the conventions of society and 'do you'. 

As written in my favorite novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire: 

“Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.”

Hug your loved ones folks. Never miss an opportunity to share your love and spirit with the world. The world in which we live would truly be a better place if we could all do our part to leave it just a little more positive than we found it. 

I thank you all for your kind words, love, and your support this year. I never would have made it through it without you. Ethan is here to stay and getting stronger each and every day. I thank the heavens above for every breath I get to take, Thank you to my family for supporting me and helping me to get the help I needed. Thank you to my brothers and sisters (both biological and not) for being here for me. For giving me strength at a time I had none. Thank you to my colleagues and book world peeps for all the love and messages, reminding me that I am never alone. 

I'm healthier than I've ever been and I'm working to make 25 the best year of my entire life. 

I've got some huge changes on the horizon that I'm keeping under my hat for the time being, but I know so long as I keep the faith, everything is going to work out in the end. 

As for the book world? Don't worry, I'm here. Maybe in a smaller, more intimate capacity, but I'm here nonetheless. I'll start reviewing again, but until that day, I'm here. Reading. Listening. And loving every second. For the first time in a very long time.

Because eventually I just realized. Some days you gotta put on your robe and beard, grab your fake wand and be a wizard. Because life's too short to be anything less... than a wizard. I'm a 25 year old man in a costume. Your point?
It's going to take time and I know there'll be good days and bad, but each day I get stronger, and I know deep down, I'm ready to face the next chapter of my life with excitement and open arms. 

Here's to you 2016: you may have kicked me down, but you taught me more than I would have ever imagined. 

God Bless.

Until next time, Happy Reading!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Harvest Saga by Casey L. Bond Book Blitz

Title: The Harvest Saga Box Set
Author: Casey L Bond
Genre: YA Dystopian
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR


Reap (Book 1): The remnants of the United States of America have been divided.
From five enormous, technologically- advanced cities, the Greaters rule over the Lessers. In the Lesser village of Orchard, things are not as perfect as Abby Kelley thinks they are. When the apple harvest draws near and the Greater’s engineered fruits become too much for one village to handle alone, reinforcements from neighboring villages are called upon.
Having to choose between her best friend, whom she has no romantic feelings for, and mysterious newcomer Crew, Abby finds herself in the middle of a harvest that she had no intention of becoming a part of. She becomes involved in a situation that threatens the strict rule of the Greaters, and just might give the Lessers hope for a better tomorrow. But, can she help the Lessers without losing Crew? And if she chooses Crew, will she lose her best friend?

Resist (Book 2): Abby Kelley returns home from the Greater city of Olympus to find that things in Orchard Village are bad, very bad. The Olympian Guard has taken over village affairs. The Lessers are being worked to the bone in the coldest winter Orchard has seen. Villagers are being dragged away for the slightest indication of what they call “resistance.” She needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. But, it’s so hard to do when everything within you screams rebellion.
Kyan is coming on strong, trying to convince her to take a chance on him. Shocking news of Crew’s activities in Olympus sweeps through the Villages. When Abby is taken away by the Olympian guard, Kyan sends word to Vesuvius for help. But, no one could have predicted their idea of help or what they might expect in return.
Who will be left to pick up the pieces of Abby’s heart?

Reclaim (Book 3): The Greaters have ruled over the Lessers since The Fall. They’ve taken Abby’s family. They’ve taken her friends. They’ve taken her hostage and threatened the villages.
Enough is enough. Freedom is worth fighting for. Love is worth dying for.
And the Lessers are done taking orders from the Greaters.
Reclaim…the epic conclusion of the award- winning Harvest Saga.

Award- winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction. You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links: 

Buy Link: Amazon:

If you love The Harvest Saga, you can vote for the series to be made into a television show or film! You can nominate actors and choose your dream cast!

A SLAM JOLTED ME OUT of my slumber. Another bang echoed in the front of the cabin, and footsteps hurried to my door. I didn’t know how long I’d slept, or if it was still daylight, but I was still tired and wanted to retreat back into the sweet abyss again. My door opened, and I turned my head to see my aunt standing in the doorway. “What happened, Abby?” She rushed over. I tried to push myself up, but my back was so stiff. The skin even felt stiff. How was that possible? I winced. “Stay down. Let me see.” She gingerly lifted the back of Ky’s shirt and peeked underneath. The fabric slowly peeled away from my skin where the bandages Evelyn had applied didn’t quite reach, or had shifted, and it felt like part of the wounds tore open again. A hiss escaped from between my teeth at the same time a curse flew from her lips.  “Evelyn sent more salve. She said that your body would absorb part of it and that more would have to be packed in.” Lulu helped me sit up and, one by one, I unbuttoned the shirt and again pried it away from my back. The only portion not torn to shreds from the fifteen lashes was the part my bra had covered; although, by the last lash, it only hung on by a thread. “Evelyn came to the depot. She said you’d been injured and gave me the medicine and salve. I had no idea. Did Norris do this?” All I could do was nod. Lulu took my shirt as I laid back down on my stomach and tried to remain as still as possible while she packed my wounds. Having left the room, I could hear her banging around in the kitchen before she returned with a steaming mug containing more of the special tea. I gulped it down, hoping it would help numb the pain like it had before. When my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep almost immediately.Something was touching my face, caressing my cheek. The skin that brushed mine was rough, hardened by the work we all shared. Am I dreaming? I waited, trying to see if it was real or part of a dream. Whichever it was, it was nice, comforting.Rough fingertips moved over the parts of my back that weren’t split open and packed with gunk. I sucked in a breath and held it. It was real. I moved my head and saw his silhouette against the candlelight flickering in from the kitchen and living room. “Ky?” My voice was raspy and barely sounded like my own. Sleep and exhaustion filled every chord. “Shh. I’m here.” Suddenly, I was very aware I was lying shirtless on my bed. Even though I was on my stomach, that didn’t help me feel any less naked in front of my best friend—who happened to be a member of the male species—a very fine specimen according to my girlfriends. I knew he was handsome. I wasn’t blind. But I didn’t see him like that. He’d dated many of my friends and was getting ready to marry Paige Winters after the harvest was complete and the orchards picked bare. His fingertips traced the intact skin between my shoulder blades, and I tensed under his touch. He’d kissed my head and temple and hugged me more times than I could count, but that was different; it was more intimate. His touch was delicate, gentle compared to his normal strength, and anything but playful. “Ky?” He didn’t answer. His fingers explored my back, careful not to stray too close to the wounds streaking across my skin. “Kyan?” “Shut up, Abby. Just let me... Just shut up.” He’d never talked to me like that. His voice was raspy, and he’d never, ever told me to shut up before. So I did. I wasn’t sure why. He shouldn’t have been touching my skin. Shouldn’t have been caressing the good parts left; but, sitting with me in the dark, he was doing exactly that, and I was allowing it.
Copyrighted 2014 Casey L. Bond