Weekend in Chicago!

The reason I’m behind on visiting everyone’s blogs is because Hubby and I traveled to Chicago on Thursday and returned yesterday. It was my first time there, but he’d been once before on business. With beautiful weather, we crammed in a lot over a few days with a food tour, an architecture boat tour on the river, Navy Pier, Chicago Gangsters and Ghost Tour, Willis Tower, Millenium Park, and several good restaurants. According to Hubby’s FitBit, we walked a little over thirty miles. Once I heard that, it lessened the guilt I felt over that huge scoop of peanut butter chocolate ice cream at Kilwins.

The first picture is the ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Plenty to do there with restaurants, rides, and shopping, with lots of lunch, dinner, and tour cruises leaving from the docks. The River Walk there is full of people biking, walking, or just enjoying the views. We stayed at The Palmer House, originally built in 1871, burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire two weeks after opening, then rebuilt from 1923-1925. It’s a beautiful hotel – the middle picture is the lobby, and that’s hubby with his back turned – and ideally located. We were only a block from Millenium Park, home of The Bean (also known as Cloud Gate). It was full of energy with kids running through fountains and live concerts.

The first picture in the bottom row was taken right before our food tour. Interesting fact – the tour guide dated a guy in college with Hubby’s same name, and she wondered if it would be him when we showed up. Weird.

The last two pics are from the top of Willis Tower. I’m a huge fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so I loved seeing that sign and standing where Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane did during the movie. So here’s my tragic story. Hubby and I waited in line to stand in the clear observation boxes at the top of the building – like a window all the way around and beneath your feet where you can see from the 108th floor down to the ground. He later admitted he’d worried the night before about whether he’d be able to do it, and his legs trembled in the elevator to the top at the thought of stepping inside the box. Me? My claustrophobic self was worried about being packed in an elevator with so many people. While standing in line, we were entertained by other visitors posing in the four boxes and a few who wouldn’t get inside. Kids were jumping around without a second thought. Our turn came and we walked to our assigned box and watched the family ahead of us finishing up their pictures (the time limit was a minute). They left, Hubby stepped in with little hesitation – and to my horror, I couldn’t.

Failing to step into that observation box never occurred to me. I stood inside the window panes in the other sections on that floor overlooking the city with no problem at all. I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building, bungee jumped, and I ride roller coasters. Heights have never really been an issue for me. During our minute time limit, I tried several times to make myself step in and couldn’t. And I was so disappointed. Part of my personal philosophy is to always have a backup plan, and if I’d had any indication I’d needed one, I would have just closed my eyes and stepped inside. Needless to say, part of my soul is crushed. We plan to visit Chicago again, and I will get in that observation window for the whole time limit one way or another!

To all my American friends, Happy Fourth of July!

Mole Hunter and #AmWatching

For the past couple summers, moles have overtaken our yard. Hubby has tried a few things, but we can hear them mocking his feeble attempts. Those critters have made tunnels and holes everywhere. We figure it’s a matter of time before the whole yard collapses. Meet our intrepid hunter, Bond. He’s an indoor cat, but when we sit on the patio we leash him so he can hang outdoors with us. Due to his valiant efforts and incessant stalking of this tree when outside, he’s caught four moles so far this summer. We ballpark there’s somewhere around eighty-two more to go. When he caught one last week, hubby was outside grilling and came in to tell me about it. Said Bond had requested that a good china plate be sent out. He may be an overly spoiled cat indoors, but he’s still a killer at heart outdoors, I guess. I’m just glad he doesn’t eat them or try to bring his victims inside. The second pic is a hard-working killer resting after checking another one off the list.

I had every intention of starting the new season of The Boys last week, but discovered a new season of The Umbrella Academy had dropped (woohoo!), so plans changed. This season has some interesting developments with the timeline shift, and I’m especially loving Klaus (totally my favorite) learning more about his powers. I think I’ve got one episode left, then I swear I’m starting The Boys. I’m excited to see what Jensen Ackles adds to the show.

Have a great week!

Appreciation and #AmWatching (lots of things)

Thanks to Shannon at R&R Book Tours and all the hosts for a wonderful blog tour last week! I’m still doing happy dances over the positive reviews The Insurgent received. After struggling with this book, it’s such a relief to know that readers are happy with the conclusion of Asher’s story.

Let’s talk about the new season of Stranger Things. So. Good. I started it Friday night, and even though the episodes are over an hour, by Saturday night I only had one left, and I’m hoping to watch it tonight. This might be my favorite season after the first one. I have the original song Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush (along with two covers of the same song) and, with this series being set in the 80s, was so excited to hear it used in several episodes. It was especially perfect for one seriously tense scene (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t breathing) that I won’t mention here. If you haven’t watched it yet, a binge session awaits you.

The first episode of season three of For All Mankind dropped Friday, and that one was also all kinds of nerve-wracking. Now I have to wait until next Friday for a new episode (wish they dropped the whole season like Netflix).

As a Star Wars fan, I was so excited for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Ben was always a favorite character, and Ewan McGregor is perfect in the role. The young actress who plays ten-year-old Pricess Leia is a pure delight. She’s feisty, wise beyond her years, and totally able to hold her own in scenes with Ewan. This won’t be the last we see of her.

I gave in and finally subscribed to Paramount Plus. I got caught up on season two of Evil (previously on CBS and then unfairly moved to Paramount) and watched the first episode of season three that dropped last night. Hubby and I started Mayor of Kingstown and 1883 – we’ll watch anything Yellowstone-related.

Even with all that, I still managed to get some reading done and have reviews to write. Have a great week!

Haunted Hotel and #BlogTour

Over Memorial Day weekend, hubby and I spent a few days at West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, IN (sports-obsessed Son #1 informed me this was the hometown of Larry Bird). It was originally built in 1855 to capitalize on the many mineral springs in the area, and there are several bath houses still standing on the property. As you can see from the pictures below, it’s a stunning hotel and has quite a history – fires, changes in ownership and purpose. You can read more about it HERE. It’s also the setting of the supernatural thriller novel So Cold the River by Michael Koryta, and the movie of the same name was filmed on site and can be rented on Amazon Prime or Apple TV. Hubby and I plan on watching it sometime this summer. With such a history, I was sure the hotel would be haunted, but it’s actually the other hotel on the property, French Lick Springs Hotel, that is rumored to be haunted by the original owner, Thomas Taggart. He frequently smoked a pipe, and guests and employees have reported the strong scent of pipe tobacco near the service elevator (it’s a non-smoking hotel) and have also encountered his ghost. Read more about that HERE.

One of the days there was spent by the pool – with a book, of course. I noticed a spider crawling across my bag lying on the table and flicked it off to the ground. I’m not afraid of them (but if it’s snakes, I’ll shove you in front of me as an offering and run in the other direction), and if I see them in the house, I’ll catch and release them outdoors. While reading I felt something on my neck and assumed it was a fly. Wrong – the spider bit me and was trying to build a web that connected me to a nearby railing. Some thanks I got for not killing him. I told hubby I was sure to wake up with super powers the next morning. Sadly, it didn’t happen, and I’ve been waiting for them to manifest for over a week.

The Insurgent (The Colony #2) is on tour this week! A big thanks to R&R Book Tours and all the hosts who signed up. Below is the tour schedule – hope to see you at some of the stops!

Book Tour Schedule

June 6th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

John H. Howell (Spotlight) https://johnwhowell.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

Shari Sakuri (Review) https://sharisakurai.com/

June 7th

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

Staci Troilo (Spotlight) https://stacitroilo.wordpress.com/

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Spotlight) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

@bookscoffeehappiness –  https://www.instagram.com/bookscoffeehappiness/

June 8th

Lecari’s Live Journal (Review) http://www.lecari.co.uk

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

June 9th

Cheryl’s Book Nook (Review) https://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

 @takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Robbie Cheadle (Review) https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/author/robertalouisecheadle/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

June 10th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

   @amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

Jonathan Pongratz (Review) https://jonathanpongratz.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Moving, #ReleaseDay, and Van Gogh

It’s book release week! The Insurgent (The Colony #2) will be released on Thursday, May 19th. And what will I be doing? Hubby and I are flying to Austin to move Son #2 back to KY. This was his self-proclaimed “gap year”, so he’s moving back to save money and start applying to grad schools. He’ll be living with us the first couple months (which will be totally weird again after not living at home for five years) until his new lease starts. The temp is predicted to be over 100 degrees in Austin the day we load the UHaul, so, you know, we’re super excited about that.

I posted another excerpt of The Insurgent on Friday HERE. If you can’t wait until Thursday to order your copy, preorder it HERE. If you haven’t read the first book, Subject A36, it will be on sale for $0.99 May 25th through May 27th!

Over the weekend I went with a couple friends to Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience in Nashville. Several other friends across the country had gone to it, and I’d heard nothing but good things. It was truly dazzling. I possess adequate words to describe it, so the pics below will have to do. Enjoy and have a great week!

Dessert, Derby, and #BookSale

What a fun weekend I had! A few weeks ago I mentioned Cheesecake Factory’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake was my favorite dessert. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we don’t live near one (my waistline thanks me). Son #1, who lives ten minutes from a Cheesecake Factory, arrived for the weekend on Friday afternoon toting a cooler filled with – I’ll give you a second to guess. My favorite dessert! Did I raise that kid right or what? To my credit, I didn’t immediately faceplant into it, but ate a few bites and then finished it off the next day. I’m drooling just remembering it.

Did anyone else watch the Derby? What a surprise! But wasn’t it incredible? To see Rich Strike, a horse that only got into the race the day before, come from so far behind was just amazing. I doubt many people, if any, saw that coming. We attended a party for the Oaks on Friday and then a Derby party Saturday. Between the cheesecake and all the party food, I’m eating lettuce and water for every meal this week.

I mentioned last week that Subject A36 (The Colony #1) would be on sale around the release of The Insurgent (The Colony #2), and I’d keep you informed about the dates. Subject A36 will be on sale for $0.99 May 25th through May 27th, so mark your calendars! With the sequel releasing May 19th, it’s a perfect time to snatch up the first book of this duology and get caught up.

I also posted another excerpt of The Insurgent HERE if you missed it last Friday.

Have a great week!

Home Improvement 2, Book Festival, Derby, and #NetGalley

How is it Monday again already? I swear last week flew by way too fast.

Our house is in chaos. Carpet will be installed in the final two rooms today. Everything from four bedrooms and a huge bonus room is taking up space in the dining room, living room, and kitchen. Bond is loving it. More places where he can hide and then jump out in a pitiful attempt to scare me when I walk by. Me? I plan on cleaning out ALL THE THINGS before they’re put back in the bedrooms. Primarily Son #1’s room. He’s a total pack rat and an ideal candidate for the show Hoarders.

The book festival I mentioned last week was this past Saturday. It was well-organized, but being the first year of the event there wasn’t a lot of traffic, and I expected that. Still, I sold some books, met new author friends and readers, and spoke at a YA panel. They asked if I’d return next year and I plan to.

If you live in KY (or you’re just a horse fan), you know Derby is coming up on Saturday! We don’t actually go to Derby in Louisville, but attend parties our friends host locally on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Son #1 will also be here (giving him an opportunity to go through ALL THE THINGS I’ll be putting in the garage before donating them).

I posted another excerpt from The Insurgent on Friday HERE. As a heads up, the Subject A36 (The Colony #1) ebook will be on sale for $0.99 sometime before the release of The Insurgent on May 19th. I’m waiting on a date from my publisher, and I’ll post it as soon as I know.

If you’re a reviewer on NetGalley, The Insurgent is available until May 30th. The link to a preapproval page is HERE. If you haven’t read Subject A36, I can provide a Mobi or epub copy.

Have a great week!

Home Improvement, #BookFestival, and #Excerpt

Happy Monday! I’ve got several things going on this week besides work. A good friend’s birthday is Wednesday, hubby and I are going out of town (more on that below), book club tomorrow night, and Thursday and Friday we’re getting carpet installed. This is the second attempt. We’ve been in our house nearly sixteen years, and after we put a contract on the house all those years ago, the builder bought the cheapest carpet on the market. Those years saw numerous sleepovers and parties with the boys and their friends, lots of soccer, football, basketball and band shoes traipsing through the house, and too many spills to count. So we waited until the sons were out of the house. Originally the carpet installation was scheduled two weeks ago. Two very nice young men showed up and started in Son #2’s room – and the carpet didn’t look quite like what I’d chosen. I figured it might be the lighting. It wasn’t. Long story short, some lady in Knoxville got half my order, and I got half of hers. It’s not the fault of the local place, but the supplier they ordered it from. I’ll let you know next week if we’re breathing the new carpet smell.

This Saturday, April 30th from 10am – 3pm I’ll be at Madison County Public Library in Richmond, KY for their first Youth Book Festival. It happens to be conveniently located about forty minutes from where Son #1 lives, so hubby and I will spend the weekend in Lexington. Books, talking to readers, plus visiting our son – woohoo!

In case you missed it, I posted an excerpt from The Insurgent on Friday HERE Considering it releases in less than a month (May 19th), I figured it was time to get some teasers out into the world. I plan on posting an excerpt every Friday (and maybe some bonus days) until it releases, so make sure to stop by! You can also still sign up for the blog tour HERE.

Have a great week!

Easter, Bookiversary, and #BlogTour

If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was a good one for you! The boys weren’t home, but that didn’t stop me from dyeing eggs. Hubby and I continue the tradition even when they’re not here because A – we like hard boiled eggs, and B – it’s just fun. This year I didn’t buy my egg dye until a couple days ago – I usually get it much earlier and have had Avenger and Star Wars kits in previous years – but this year there wasn’t much left to choose from. I grabbed a box and then felt cheated because out of six pellets, three of them were the same blue color, so I did some mixing and created my own to make up for it. Teaches me not to wait so late again.

Fellow author and friend Jonathan Pongratz has a bookiversary coming up tomorrow. Reaper: A Horror Novella was published three years ago! It confirms the fact that basements can be scary places, and I was thrilled when he expanded on the story and released Reaper: Aftermath a little over a year ago. And further congratulations are in order. His paranormal short story The BEK Curse (for which I was lucky enough to be a beta reader) has found a home with Solstice Publishing! To check out Jonny’s books go HERE.

For anyone who missed the post on Friday (or tried the first link that didn’t work), The Insurgent (The Colony #2) is going on a blog tour with R&R Book Tours June 6th through June 10th. If you haven’t read the first in the series, Subject A36, it’s also available for review. To sign up for a spotlight or review, go HERE. If you’re a NetGalley reviewer, The Insurgent is also available there until May 31st.