Posted in Wrap-up

March Wrap-up + #OrendaMonth Giveaway Winner Announcement!

Dear March, you have been magical and exhausting, a challenge and a blessing, with your ups and your downs. You stole my hours of sleep but gave me my best blogging time since I started Chocolate’n’Waffles. I am sad to see you leave, but I’m happy we worked well together, even if you tried to freeze me to death and make me choke with the heat. You really couldn’t decide on your own weather, could you?

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What’s new? 

I am officially under a complete medical treatment for anxiety and depression. Yes, the girl who said she hated meds has agreed to try anything to get better. Only the fools don’t change their minds! There has been some improvement, with a few downsides (why can we send stuff above the Earth but avoid side effects from meds??) and some work on my side. I keep in mind the pills are just a help, not a cure, and that it’s only up to me to take that helping hand and walk the walk.

On a different side, I now know risks in blogging are fun. Once the panic from having taken an engagement wears off, of course. Because yes, I panic, literally, the whole panic attack package, whenever I take on something new. First time I got auto-approved on NetGalley and was asked to take part in blog tours? PANIC. When I realized the Orenda Month was actually happening and I had no idea what to do? Panic! But as soon as my brain calms down, I truly enjoy being mentally and creatively challenged. As long as the pressure stays low, the excitement wins and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with watching one’s project grows in amazing. Now I need to find a way to prevent the panic and just enjoy!

So apart from a busy blogging month, I went out, I drove on my own, I decided to dye my hair myself (results later today!!), I ran under the pouring rain with the dogs. All good stuff.

The Orenda Month

In case you missed all the fun, this month was all about the publisher Orenda Books on the blog! So many of you have followed every step therefore I’m not gonna write a novel about it, but I wanted to say that this was an important step for me, personally and professionally, and I learned a lot from it. But my favorite part has been to chat and interact with everyone and see the enthusiasm around the project. So Thank You!

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To the email I received asking me how much I was paid for this marketing campaign, you must not be familiar with me and my blog, otherwise you would know that honesty is high on my list of priorities and that I do not like my motivations to be questioned. Yes, I received books to review, as so many other bloggers do, but I never received any money or other compensation. The Orenda Month was driven by my passion for publishing, my thirst for knowledge, and my love for books. Why an independent publisher such as Orenda Books? Because Karen Sullivan, who is the face and brain of this company, is a lovely person who has agreed to go on a journey with an absolute newbie to have fun with stories, authors and everyone involved in the process of bringing books to life.  Your email had no effect on me, the project, or its success. You lose.

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the Orenda Month and made it what it is. A huge success! And a real kick in the ass! In terms of blogging, I posted 24 times out of 31 days, which is an all time record for me. I have no idea how bloggers who post daily do it, I am completely knackered! We also reached a giant peak in numbers, with over 4,500 views this month. The number is so high I can’t really understand how much it represents, haha! My point is I am amazed at the support I received and I am prouder than ever to be a part of this community. Thank you to everyone who liked, commented, tweeted, sent hugs and kisses. A special thank you to Karen for her patience with me, her generosity, and her support. A second special thank you to everyone at Orenda Books who took the time to take part in this!

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Now let’s take a closer look at the month the usual way!

Books I read 

Lesson number one from the Orenda Month: blogging daily takes away all of your reading time! It wasn’t a disaster, I managed to read seven books, six of them being for the challenge, and all but one reviewed. Not bad! Especially when there isn’t one book in this list that did not get at least four stars. That’s what I call a brilliant reading month!

Books I reviewed

For the Orenda Month:

#OrendaMonth Book 1: The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech @OrendaBooks @LouiseWriter
Rating: 4 and a half stars

#OrendaMonth Book 2: Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson @OrendaBooks @ragnarjo
Rating: 4 stars

#OrendaMonth Book 3: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken
Rating: 4 and a half stars

#OrendaMonth Book 4: Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen @OrendaBooks
Rating: 4 stars

#OrendaMonth Book 5: The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul Hardisty @OrendaBooks @Hardisty_Paul
Rating: 4 stars

#OrendaMonth Book 6: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings @OrendaBooks @MandaJJennings + Giveaway!
Rating: 4 stars

Now there is something you need to know about how I rated those books. My expectations were extremely high, this is why there is no 5-star review. To be honest, without A Suitable Lie and the fact I had to read them all in a row, some would have won half a star, and one would have gotten all the stars. So I was very hard on them and those 4 stars mean you can go absolutely blind about those stories and be blown away by their power, writing, and plots.

Blog Tours

Two Voices One Story by Elaine Rizzo and Amy Masters #BlogTour
Rating: 3 stars

Don’t Stop Me Now by Colleen Coleman #BlogTour @bookouture @CollColemanAuth
Rating: 4 stars

Other Review

Every Move You Make,Every Step You Take,I’ll be watching you: The Devil You Know @TerryTyler4
Rating: 3 and a half stars

I think I had never written so many reviews in a month before! It doesn’t seem like much, but I am proud of it.

New Books (purchased, won, received for review, gifts)

The Book of the Month Award 

Okay, this is the hardest month ever. It will probably will be the hardest of the year. I had to make a list, pros and cons, and then rely on my memory and the feelings the story triggered. So… The Book of the Month Award goes to…

The Abrupt Physics of Dying, for keeping me engrossed in a cruel search for the truth filled with action, fear, and untrustworthy characters and for opening me up to a genre I never really gave a fair try.

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Blogging life

March was filled with posts! I had never blogged as much and I am thankful to everyone who answered the call for a piece to share here 🙂

The Orenda Books Family Tree

Giveaway Winner! 

2nd giveaway final version

Time to discover who is the lucky winner of a signed copy of the Orenda Books book of their choice!! If I haven’t done anything wrong, it should be ….

Congratulations to Kate Noble @The Quiet Knitter

Can you email me @ chocolatenwaffles@gmail.com within 72 hours with the title of your choice and your address? 🙂

Thanks to everyone who participated! Giveaways are fun and less complicated than I thought so we might have others soon!

That’s a wrap! I hope March treated you well! Let me know all about it! 

78 thoughts on “March Wrap-up + #OrendaMonth Giveaway Winner Announcement!

  1. I can’t believe someone had the audacity to email you in the manner they did, questioning your integrity like you would lie and were secretly being paid. Makes me so angry, I can’t imagine how angry it made you.
    You had a great month and also have a great haul!

    I am also so proud of you for getting on a medication plan for your anxiety and depression, it’s one of the hardest things to do. I am also on medication for it but honestly the change you will begin to see even in the littlest things make it all worth it. I still really struggle and in-fact I need to go back to my doctors but i’ve been able to attend university this year without the pain I put myself through last year with being so ill because of my anxiety.

    You’re strong. If you ever need to talk then I’m here 🙂

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    1. I was very angry indeed! I’m not one for complimenting myself but I take pride in being honest, so this irked me quite a bit! Then I just remembered the readers who take time to visit my blog would have stopped if they felt I wasn’t being honest, and that only they mattered. I guess once in a while, you are bound to have a bad experience.

      Thank you so much. I was skeptical but never judged anyone for trying to get better with medication, but I know some people don’t take mental illnesses as true issues and therefore don’t get the need for treatments. It makes me very sad. No one questions someone who has diabetes, so why would mental health patients be seen differently?
      I’m so happy that despite the struggle you were able to attend uni, this is a huge step! Thank you so much, strong friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The mountain in my shoe is my favorite among those, I think. Haven’t read all, but still. So proud of you, and I want to see your hair! I was thinking of doing some changes, I dyed part of my hair pink but it’s worn off. And now I don’t know if I should have it cut… decisions, decisions XD

    Happy April ❤

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    1. The Mountain in my Shoe ❤ So good! I was just a little skeptical about the end, that's why it did not get the full five stars. Aw thank you ❤ I would not have found the strength to do all of this if it hadn't been for the support everyone showed! I'll have to post a picture of my hair! My red was done by a professional but I'm tired of paying a lot for a result that is never exactly what I want, so I'm gonna try to do it myself. I have an appointment with my hairdresser scheduled if it turns out to be a disaster, hahaha!! Hair decisions are so difficult! I was happy to cut them and now I miss when they were longer!
      Happy and bookish April!! ❤

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        1. So I’m not the only one who thought that! 😀 Really? I’ve never done it! Well, I do my mom’s hair but mine has always been taken care of by professionals because I’m no good with my hands xD

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was angry for a few minutes and then I just let it go. I don’t compliment myself but I take pride in being honest and I can only hope the blog reflects it. I want a chocolate medal!!!:D

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy you loved it 🙂 It was so interesting to see readers react and share 🙂 Busy and fantastic month! Thank you for the support you showed throughout! xxx

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  3. Donna I’m so pleased March has gone well for you. I’m like you with medication, but sometimes you just have to do what you need to do make things gentler for you. I caved in a couple of months back after trying to endure pain on my own and I’m so glad I did. And it doesn’t have to be forever. The Orenda month was fabulous, you did a great job and should be very proud of yourself. I and I know many others really enhotel it. Congratulations to Kate. Am I jealous? Dam right I am hahaha xxx

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    1. I felt medication was a big step and I am very grateful the doctor understood it and left me to realize by myself that I needed it.
      I admit I am proud of what the Orenda Month came up to be. When I talked about it on Twitter, I was barely serious, so now I’m really happy and surprised it happened and went so well 🙂
      Hahah, I’m jealous too! Like Pokemon, I want all Orenda books!!

      Like

  4. What a brilliant blogging, reading and book collecting month you’ve had. Orenda month has been really truely successfully awesome. You got so many books this month. I received Julia Crouch’s book too, I haven’t started it yet, but it sounds great. Aside from reading some amazing books, you have had a wonderful insight into a publishing house too, which has been great for us CnW readers to enjoy too. Well done on your personal achievements aswell as your blogging ones.
    Amanda xx

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    1. I just can’t believe how this silly idea I threw in a Twitter conversation turned into such a wonderful experience 🙂 It’s surreal! Haha, I know, the books.. I felt guilty when I saw how many had joined the TBR! But there was the Orenda discount sales at the beginning of the month and lots of Amazon deals :p I don’t regret a thing, as now my budget is about to be reduced to 5euros per month!
      Thank you so much Amanda 🙂 I always look forward to your comments and they never fail to make me smile. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Again- I can’t believe the Orenda Month has come to an end.. it was fantastic from beginning to end and with all that it entailed and my hat off to you for pulling it all together so well! Loved the whole thing!

    Wishing you all the best, more good books to read and take care! 🙂

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    1. I know! I can’t believe it either. I had so much fun. It was awesome to put the blogging on top of everything and to learn from it. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I had no confidence in myself at the beginning and it was the support I received that spurred me to do my best and I discovered.. I’m not that useless 🙂
      Take very good care of you and have a marvelous bookish April! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another brilliant post – I have really loved reading this series about Orenda. Well done!! And you’ve got Block 46 and Exquisite already? So. Jealous.
    I’m intrigued by your favourite book this month too as, like you, I haven’t given this genre a fair chance but Karen has sent me a copy and I’m going to make sure to read it soon now 😀
    Good for you with being so open about your depression and anxiety – I’m also on medication for it (tried without first but taking it was the best thing I’ve done). Have you read Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive? That’s a great book.
    Great post Donna.

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    1. Thank you so much! It means a lot that you enjoyed this Orenda Month, I had lots of fun doing it. I’m taking part in a blog tour for Block 46 and I have it in French 🙂 As for Exquisite, it was a special thank you from Orenda Books for this fabulous month, I don’t dare touching the advanced copy, I’m afraid to damage it! Karen said it was soon going to impression so the copies are coming!!! 🙂
      I was just so taken aback when reading The Abrupt Physics of Dying, because I really thought it was not my thing, but Karen proved me I was so wrong!! Enjoy the ride! 🙂
      Talking about my mental health issues on the blog has been very helpful 🙂 I sometimes post blogs entirely about it and have decided to use the Blog Therapy feature whenever I feel I need to vent or discuss something that’s on my mind when the doctor isn’t available. I was so against medication at first, but I have to admit it helps 🙂 I haven’t read this book yet but I intend on doing it!
      Thank you so much! x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think you know how I feel about all of the step and leaps you have taken over this past month ❤ If you don't.. well you are seriously in trouble and we clearly need to have more conversations 😉 You try to pass your accomplishments off sometimes, but you inspire me and I draw so much strength from you. You are a true friend and a guide through my roughest days. And you remind me me that even when my blog feels overwhelming, I always have someone who gets it. Love you Twin Pea ❤

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    1. This month would never have been possible without your help, support and love ❤ And this comment is too much ❤ I love that we are able to go through anything hand in hand and face whatever good and bad comes our way no matter the distance. You have become vital to my life my dear Twin Pea. Someone in this world knows you, loves you and understands you ❤ And I'm not the only one, as you are a fantastic person ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Amazing blogging month Donna!! I’m glad you didn’t let that stupid email get to you…what’s wrong with people? You already had me super intrigued about the Paul Hardisty book but now that you’ve chosen it as your fav for month I’m even more so. Super impressed by all the work you put in for your Orenda month and hope you’ve found yourself a huge chocolate medal for it!!:)

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    1. Thank you! It was brilliant to do it all, I regret nothing! The pressure was defeated by the fun I had 🙂 There was no way I’d that email ruin my month, I’m lucky to be surrounded by fantastic, talented and supporting bloggers who know me and know that I would never be dishonest.
      Frankly, Paul’s book took me by surprise and I still think about how I loved the action and tension that were very different from what I’m used to, so it had to be this one. If a book sticks in your head, spread the love! 🙂
      I treated myself with canelés and my favorite chocolate during my three-day blogging break 😀 thank you so much for all the support xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh congratulations to Kate on winning the competition! 😀
    Also great recap for this month Donna. 🙂 It must feel like the end of something big reaching April and no longer posting for Orenda Month, but you did an amazing job and I loved all the posts you did. It’s clear you put a lot of work into this project so I guess it’s understandable how you maybe read less books this month than you normally did.
    Still there’s always next month to get back to reading again! 🙂 ❤

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    1. It feels weird to think I don’t have to stick to Orenda Books because I want to keep doing it, haha! And coming up with interesting posts, but I relish the peace and quiet of a break, I won’t be posting much in the next two weeks and things will go back to normal after Easter 🙂 I hadn’t realized how much time and effort it would take me to do all of this in addition to what was going on in my life so I feel exhausted! I don’t know how people who post daily do it! Thank you for your support and I’m so so happy you enjoyed this silly idea of mine 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I suppose if you want to keep doing it you could always do the odd feature post, just because. I’ll always enjoy reading them if you did do anymore but I guess at the same time it may be nice to post something different as well.
        I think you deserve a break, take the time and relax after what was probably a busy and stressful month.
        That’s all right, I really did enjoy all your posts. I love seeing people post something different and I learnt a lot from it as well! 😀 ❤

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        1. I have a few ideas and I think I’ll do the odd post once in a while with my Orenda reviews, but I won’t be taking on any other big project this year, as I’m preparing for so much life-wise! Also, I don’t want to be stuck with one kind of posts, there are so many possibilities with our blogs!
          Thank you so much ❤ it was all so great!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Maybe one big project a year can be a thing then? Either way yeah it would be great to see more posts from Orenda books from you but I imagine after all the work put into March’s feature you need a bit of a break.
            That’s all right! 🙂 ❤

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            1. Why not! 🙂 I always fear I won’t come up with nice ideas, that’s why I don’t try more new things… I’m slowly coming back to writing blog posts, I hadn’t realized how tired I was. Reading blogs came back quickly but writing them.. Still struggling! xxx

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I fear that as well sometimes, but once I get started I normally find I have tons of ideas that eventually come to me. I’m sure it will be the same for you.
                I hope writing blog posts comes back quickly for you as well in that case! 🙂

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  10. Congrats to Kate!! I think after such a hectic month of blogging you should treat yourself to something nice, I think you deserve it for all the hard work you put in 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I took a three-day break from blogging and now I’m gonna focus on reading and visiting blogs for a couple of weeks, except for a couple of blog tours I’m on. I’ll go back to my 3 posts a week schedule after Easter!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, me too. Looking back, I wonder how I did it xD I stopped cared about the blog stats months ago but it was nice to see the numbers grow so much along with the project, it was exciting! Thank you so so much for your support ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I am glad you feel confident about taking on the help of meds. It’s not always an easy step but go you! And I am so happy this was such a great blogging month as well. You did amazing ❤ Great post all around, Donna! I hope April will kick ass as well.

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    1. Thank you ❤ I hate when I get remarks saying it's too easy to go on meds for mental illnesses. It takes a lot to accept to take them, at least it did for me.
      THANK YOU! ❤ I can't believe it's over!!! April will be.. much slower, haha! I'm gonna focus on reading and preparing for my tests!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, taking meds may sound like the easy option to some people but there’s a lot of work coming with it and to even take the step to go and get a prescription and then to find the right dosage and all. Then there are side effects … nothing is ever as easy as it sounds 😉

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  12. Your Orenda Month was so successful! Congratulations! The entire thing would have had me in a constant state of panic. I am starting to wonder if I have anxiety. I know a large amount of it is due to my career field. I did not realize how many teachers are medicated just to get through the day. This year has been a revelation for me in terms of that. I am glad you are seeking out the hands of help and seeking treatment. I am also a person who does not want to be medicated, but I don’t think I am far behind you in your journey. Your book haul is phenomenal! Hoping for April showers for all of us. Because more reading! 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much! Oh gosh, you should have seen me when it dawned on me I had an entire month to fill! I literally panicked and it took me a few days to snap out of it and make it happen! I once wanted to be a teacher, but then I realized just how difficult it is. There are research in France showing the position is one of the hardest to keep, as students always push the limits and the programs are a mess. I think everyone expects so much from teachers, but there’s a limit to what someone can do or resist to!
      For so long I was against all medication, justifying my view on the fact I had succeeded in fighting agoraphobia alone once, but why not give a chance to a helping tool after all? 🙂
      That haul makes me feel so guilty, haha!
      Have a wonderful April ! ❤

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  13. Omg what a month! I hope the medication will help you with the depression and anxiety I understand how it must be hard to deal with them 😦 I got anxiety attack but learn to live with them is the best way for me hahah XD You had such a busy month too! Read some wonderful books! Hope you the best for April girll 😍😍

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    1. I fought and won against agoraphobia on my own 5 years ago but this time, it’s too complicated and deep, so I’m trying all tools available and forgetting my old doubts about meds 🙂
      Have a wonderful and bookish April! xxxx

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    1. It was sad but I know myself enough to not let it bother me, I’m not much for complimenting yourself but I take pride in my honesty so attacking was not gonna do much harm.
      I had so so much fun!! 😀 Have a wonderful April! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Haha yeah the weather this month has been insane! It’s good that you’re working to feel better- I know how hard that is, so *rock on*!! Wow- can’t believe someone would email that- they’re clearly a loser (ughh that makes me cranky). But I’m so glad you had such an incredible month- THOSE STATS ARE AMAZING AND YOU DESERVE EVERY VIEW!!! Awesome post!!

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    1. Thank you ❤ No way I'm letting anything get in the way of my projects, so health is first, and fun just behind 🙂
      Yeah, jealous loser who didn't have the balls to reply back to my very business-like email :p
      I CANT BELIEVE I REACHED THOSE NUMBERS! As I won't be blogging much in April, those numbers will look bad in comparison, haha, I'm happy I'm not a number addict! It would have driven me crazy!
      Thank you <33333

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You had such a wonderful month. Full of wins.Congratulations on Orenda month. You went in 100%, it was evident that a lot of work went behind every post and you deserve all the good things that came your way. Your new books look great. I have only read Say Nothing on your list but I hope that you will enjoy all the books.

    Have a wonderful new month Donna and I can’t wait to see your new hair ❤

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    1. I’m just so happy with the result of everything 🙂 I was scared witless at the thought of not being able to pull off everything I had in mind for Orenda Books, it took me three days to find the graphics for the 5 Facts posts! But then I stopped panicking and I realized I wasn’t too bad at it. It’s been such a wonderful experience.
      I cannot believe how many review copies and deals I got this month! I’m not regretting a single book as I’m cutting off my budget now, so it won’t be as big in the next months!
      The hair project was a disaster, so I’m sticking to my actual red xD
      Have a superb April and lots of fabulous reads! xxx

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  16. Well, Donna, this was one hell of a month! You can definitely be proud at the number of reviews you’ve posted and the number of active days during March!!! I’d call you insane, but you’re Donna. And Donna is awesome. 😀 😀 😀 Oh, and to the loser who actually emailed you to question your integrity, screw him/her/it! Love the passion you put into this project and congratulations in completing it! Here’s to more awesome books in April! 😉

    – Lashaan

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    1. Hahaha, you know how to talk to me :p It was a crazy month, but I’m proud of myself and so grateful for all the support I received and the love Orenda Books got!
      That’s basically what my reply to his email sounded like, in a very business-like way xD
      Thank you so so much and here’s to a fantastic and bookish April! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Loved LOVED following your Orenda month! ❤ Don't let those fools make you feel otherwise; you rock. 😉 Congrats on having such a successful month and personalwise as well. You totally deserve it. ❤

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  18. Orenda is so awesome. I haven’t participated (or been asked) to do a blog tour, but I can understand the panic! Hope your anxiety & depression improves. ❤ Lots of love to you, blogging friend.

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    1. Orenda Books are my favorites, I am still waiting for a story to disappoint me!!! Blog tours intimidated me at first, now I handle them better but it’s funnier to do when it’s a good publisher that knows how to do them right 🙂 There’s still a bit of pressure to have everything ready on time but I trust the ones I work with so it always goes well 🙂
      Thank you so much 🙂 I am in a good mood and things have improved a little, so I’m enjoying each and every good day I can get 🙂 All the best to you, dear ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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