Monday, March 30, 2015

How a Star Falls audiobook and giveaway!

     I did a blog tour post for this novella some time back, and am now giving How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes another shout-out as its been made into an audiobook! That's always fun. I have yet to read (or listen to) How a Star Falls, but I've heard some lovely things about it from friends! :-)
About the Book:
Unabridged audiobook narrated by Patrick Wilson Mahaney | 1 hour and 55 minutes
How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.
Audiobook Purchase Links:
Less than $7! (You can listen to a sample on the following sites, as well.)
About the Author:
Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home. Learn more about Amber’s books at
Social Media Links:
About the Narrator:
Patrick Mahaney is a comedian, writer, and performer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at @patrick_mahaney.
Rafflecopter Giveaway
Experience How a Star Falls as you’ve never heard it before! Enter to win one of three digital audiobook copies of the novella using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to anyone who can access (Prizes will be distributed using promo codes through that site.)
Please visit this link: to enter the giveaway, as the rafflecopter code is not working on my blog at the time being.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Movie Review: The Young Victoria

My Review (4.5 stars):
     Ah. What an impressive telling of Queen Victoria’s story. The Young Victoria (2009) was engaging; both historically and romantically.
     What would it be like to be an overprotected young woman next in line to inherit the throne? It was so interesting to learn about the details of Victoria’s life, both as a princess and a queen. The social happenings, politics, and every day doings of royal life were intriguing for certain. I loved learning about it all, and seeing the different gowns and hairstyles they had in that period. So, so fun! The history behind this movie was very nice.
[Pretty yellow gown]
     I sympathized very much with Victoria (Emily Blunt). She did frustrate me sometimes, but I understood. For the most part, I felt her pain. The feeling of betrayal. The rebellion. The bitterness. Her life had its difficulties. Of being coddled and smothered, even into adulthood. Pestered. Prodded. Watched. I love how Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) helped her with that! *smiles*
[Emily Blunt as Princess Victoria]
     On the subject of that particular prince…what a nice young man he was! Although I believe I watched a movie with Rupert Friend as the unscrupulous one (Pride and Prejudice (2005) perhaps…?), I very much liked him as Prince Albert. He was compassionate, understanding, and just…different from everybody else. He didn’t want to control Victoria. He wanted to be her partner. Help her. Be there for her.
[Rupert Friend as Prince Albert]
["I should find one to play it with you, not for you."]
     There was a bit of violence/intense scenes including rocks smashing windows and guns going off. One scene had blood and was pretty emotional.
     As for romance, there’s kisses scattered throughout the film; all after the wedding actually. There was one or two scenes between a married couple that might call for a slightly older audience. Just insinuations mostly. Read this review for more detail:
     Oh, and I would mention that this movie ended on a happy note, though some later happenings were mentioned in the conclusion.
     All in all, The Young Victoria (2009) was just a fascinating, lovely historical film. I enjoyed every moment of it! The learning experience. The emotion. The love story. Completely recommend to all those who enjoy learning about history and royals!
[Queen Victoria]

Book Review: The Healer's Touch by Amber Schamel

Purchase HERE

Title: The Healer's Touch

Author: Amber Schamel

Series: Days of Messiah #1

Genre: Biblical Retelling

Audience: Adult

**4 stars**

I'm finding more and more that the indie-writers' realm opens up a whole new world of stories. Fresh, unusual, beautiful ... Just, different than the ordinary Christian novels market.

The Healer's Touch is a poignant story from Amber Schamel. It mixes heartbreak, pain, and destruction with grace, joy, and redemption. Gruesome scenes made me shudder ... the awfulness was so real. Tender scenes made my heart clench; beauty, hope, and awe ... it almost made me cry. This book really touched my heart.

Aaliyah is a young woman living in Circa (20 A.D.) with her husband, by arranged marriage, and their six-year-old son. Though she loves her husband deeply, she doubts he returns the emotion. The niggling doubt suddenly explodes into something so much bigger when a dreaded disease attacks. Bitter, empty, and without hope, who can Aaliyah turn to? Could it be that the Messiah would care to hear her pain?

Just a short, stirring story. It was deep. A lot of it was at least a little gruesome, due to the theme of the story. It could feel a little rushed, I guess because of the depth of the story compared to the short number of pages in the book. But I look forward to the next book now! *smiles*

The Healer's Touch is a lovely tale, a glimpse of Jesus when He walked the earth. Don't miss this moving story.

Book Review: Cinderella's Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Title: Cinderella's Dress

Author: Shonna Slayton

Series: Cinderella's Dress #1

Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling/Historical

Audience: Teen-Young Adult

**4.5 stars**

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton was a sweet, fun, and unique story; it kept me turning pages! From the gorgeous cover, to the captivating era, to the charming characters, this novel had me intrigued.

Kate Allen is a teenage girl just trying to cope with her dad off in war and her ambitious mother trying to get her in a movie. She has a special, amber necklace given to her by her grandmother, but she never knew it had anything to do with the strange Polish couple who show up on her doorstep. And what? They have Cinderella’s dress … ?

A Cinderella retelling of sorts with fantastic twists and turns. How interesting to set this fairytale retelling in the midst of World War II, with Cinderella’s stepsisters’ descendants sneaking around with sinister intentions. Movie stars. Window decorating. Fashion shows. War. Breath-taking gowns. Soldiers writing letters to their sweethearts … I just loved this tale! *smiles*

It was so fun to join Kate on this unexpected fairytale adventure. She’s a bit timid, and sometimes awkward; and foolishly gets herself into trouble time and again. But she has heart and courage, and a soul ready to take on this journey set before her.

I rather liked her big brother Floyd. We didn’t get a lot of him, but he was a pretty charming older brother. Teasing. Sweet. But yet … an older brother all the same. *smiles* I hope to see more of him!

At first Johnny Day made me mad. (Perhaps I’m more like Kate than I thought … ) But he quickly grows on you throughout the story. And turns out to be a great young man! Aw … it’s just too cute! He really ends up being a gem of a guy. No, not perfect. But a perfect match. ^_^

Mother, Elsie, Josie, and the rest of the “nice” characters were also great in their own ways. Just lovely characters. Easy to connect with. To understand. To laugh at. Or get irritated at. *wrinkles nose*

As I sort of mentioned above, the romance was just adorable! It was more subtle and sweet, but swoon-worthy all the same! There were a few really cute, “grinning”, moments. One kiss I believe. But just overall a more realistic, slow, tender romance. Depth to it. *Sigh* I just love the part where the uncle says something (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it), and a little thrill just shoots through your heart…and Kate must be experiencing the same, and more, of course! *smiles* Can’t wait to see where this romance goes in the next book!

There were a few slightly creepy moments, what with stepsister descendants lurking around. Some moments were a bit frightening/intense. But nothing major at all. And the romance was all sweet. I would say 13 and up or so would be alright for this book.

There were some things that I would have liked to be expounded on more. Like the war’s end. And even the budding of the romance. Sometimes I was slightly confused because things happened quickly, without my really going through it, if you know what I mean. Like all of sudden, it was this way, and I was like, “Oh! That happened. Okay.” I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s not a huge deal at all, but I just thought I would mention it. Overall, Cinderella’s Dress makes for a short(er), easy to read, more fast paced novel.

It was a grand tale really! I enjoyed this new spin of Cinderella’s story. I love the era surrounding World War II. Adore Johnny and Kate. ^_^ And the dresses, eep! Cinderella’s Dress is a gorgeous, fascinating, heart-warming, and mysterious novel. I’m so excited to get a copy of Cinderella’s Shoes and continue this exceptional adventure!

Book Review: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

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Title: The Blue Castle

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult

**4 stars**

It was quite nice to be back into the lovely and whimsical storytelling of Lucy Maud Montgomery. After reading most of her Anne of Green Gables series and enjoying them, I was excited to read something new by her! *smiles*

The Blue Castle told the intriguing tale of a twenty-nine year old woman living with her strict, bleak, colorless mother and cousin. She has no marriage prospects. Her family disdains her. She’s dying. And yet she’s never even really lived. What will it take for Valancy to go from scared, timid, trapped girl to vivacious, free, joyful woman?

This novel was rather interesting. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it. It was beautiful all in all. And yes, though slower paced, there’s just something about L.M. Montgomery’s writing style that enchants me.

Valancy Stirling was an unusual but relatable character. I found that I could empathize with her over this and that. I loved her “blue castle” fantasies! *smiles* After a while, however, her pitifulness and feeling sorry for herself did start to rub me wrong. I understood. And yet I didn’t. There’s ways to rise above such drama. Go make a life for yourself, for one.

And that’s what Valancy did! It took a bit of time, but she eventually did. That first big step of hers was rather poignant. You know, like when we start helping others, we forget about all our woes? In any case, I ended up liking Valancy and adoring her story quite well.

The romance ... *sigh* It was different and intriguing and fae and utterly sweet. I liked a lot of things about this love story. So much fun. And so beautiful.
All clean. But I would still recommend older teens to adult. It just more written for that age I think. Our main character is almost thirty, after all.

Some things I didn’t like about The Blue Castle. One: a phrase here or there almost seemed mocking of Christianity or the idea of God. I wish L.M. Montgomery would have expounded more on her characters’ faith. Such an elusive element of faith leaves me feeling befuddled and rather concerned at points. I will say though, once Valancy is more settling down, it does mention that she found a nice, country church, and liked it.
Two: Valancy was rude and a bit arrogant at certain parts. It was a crucial part of her story, but her sassy, indifferent attitude didn’t impress me at all. Flinging her relatives’ not-so-perfect looks in their faces especially wasn’t a nice thing to do … since she didn’t like when they did that to her! But that actually worked out pretty nicely too. I think I was satisfied for the most part as the story progressed.
There was probably a few other things here and there that made me pause. Little comments or happenings that were a bit distasteful.

But all in all, I had to sigh at the end. It was such a lovely tale in conclusion. The “old” spinster. The nature books she loves. The heart problems. The fantastical blue castle. The mysterious man. The Blue Castle said “Wake up!” Live zealously! You only have one life. Make it count! To a certain extent, take control of your destiny. Don’t let other people’s expectations or society’s opinion of you dictate how you feel. LIVE! Love. Care. Smile. And who knows, romance and blue castles might be waiting around the bend … ^_^

Book Review: A Captain's Heart by Molly Evangeline

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Title: A Captain's Heart

Author: Molly Evangeline

Series: Pirates & Faith #3

Genre: Historical

Audience: Young Adult

**3 stars**

A Captain’s Heart wasn’t my favorite out of the Pirates & Faith series, but it was sweetly touching overall. There’s just something about Molly Evangeline’s novels. I started and put down book after book until I got to A Captain’s Heart … it just drew me in. I don’t know; there’s something I like about her writing style. *smiles*

Now that the real adventurous parts of Will and Skye’s stories have been told, we meet a new character in the third book of this series. Kyle Bryden. He’s a godly young captain with a one sweet sister in the whole of his ruthlessly selfish family. This novel takes us on his journey of frustration, fear, tender moments, and terrifying escapades. And along the way, he may just meet up with a lovely young woman …

While different than the first two books as we’re focusing on a new set of characters (though the old ones do make appearances), we still have pirates, sea-faring adventures, and sweet love stories. I felt this book didn’t have as much action perhaps as the previous ones, but it still was a nicely-rounded story overall.

The faith theme was deep and touching, unlike a lot of books these days it seems. I probably already mentioned before, but Molly Evangeline is very good about teaching meaningful lessons and really having her characters show their statuses as Christians through their godly actions. They seek God. They surrender to Him. They love Him. That’s truly awesome to see in fiction!

It was fun to meet the new array of characters. I really felt for Kyle in his tough family situation! It was so real and excruciating. I was happy to see that all work out nicely and emotionally. Elizabeth and Travis were cute. I liked their secondary story. Mariah was sweet as well. It was good to see Will and Skye so happy! Eep! And meet with Captain Daniel again a few times. Louise was infuriating! Grr! As were Kyle and Elizabeth’s family time and again. All in all, I felt the emotion and tension quite vividly. Well-done characters.

The story was its own overall, yet did bear quite a few similarities to the first two stories. I wouldn’t call it exactly a bad thing; but for me, I think it just makes me like the first book the best.

A few sweet kisses. Some slightly more intense scenes than the previous books. I would say perhaps twelve and up. My young sister loved the first book of the PIRATES & FAITH series, so I imagine she will continue to enjoy the rest, including this one!

Cute story. I was happy with how everything worked out. I’m excited to read the next (last) book in this series … Emma James’s story!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blog Tour: The Wildcat of Braeton by Claire Banschbach

As part of The Wildcat of Braeton blog tour, I will be doing an interview with author Claire Banschbach, giving my review of her newest release, and sharing about the giveaway she's offering!

So let's begin, *smiles*

Purchase HERE

About the book:

“If you’re fighting our battle, we’d best make you look like a champion,” Tam said to Aiden. Tam and Blair began to apply the war paint the Clans had worn into battle since before they arrived in Braeton.
“You ready?” Tam asked when they finished.
“As I’ll ever be,” Aiden replied. “Tam, if everything goes wrong, you take charge after me.”
“I’m praying nothing goes wrong,” Tam said. “Just remember what Diarmad said when he built this place: ‘In times of trouble, a Champion shall rise up and Scodra shall not fall.’”

His term of service to Lord Rishdah now complete, Aiden returns to his home in Braeton. As he travels he hears rumors that trouble plagues Braeton. Clan Canich is being attacked from within. He arrives, determined to save his father, his brothers, and his Clan from the treachery of one man.

A year has passed since the Calorins were driven from Aredor and Corin is struggling to rebuild his country. Despite the peace, a fear haunts him that the Calorins aren’t far away. The Hawk Flight takes to the forest again to defend the borders against a possible attack from the neighboring country of Durna and its Calorin ally.

As Aiden and Corin struggle to adapt to their new lives they know one thing for certain - war is coming to the North!

Title: The Wildcat of Braeton

Author: Claire Banschbach

Series: The Rise of Aredor #2

Genre: Fantasy

Audience: Teen

**3.5 stars**

Ooh, hard one to rate! Don’t let my low(ish) rating stop you from picking up this novel; The Wildcat of Braeton really was quite an impressive book … set in the middle of a well-done, fascinating, non-magic fantasy world, and brimming with great characters.

It follows The Rise of Aredor and continues the grand adventures of Aiden and Corin, and all their friends and loved ones. There’s epic battles, wonderful friendships, and endearing romance. The quest to guard Aredor continues as both Corin and Aiden rise to new heights and responsibilities in their lives.

I did really enjoy it, truly. It is probably not exactly my style book though. I would recommend it more to boys 12/13 or so and on up. And also, girls with more Claire Banschbach’s taste! Some portions of The Wildcat of Braeton just didn’t capture me as much as an epic, gorgeous fairytale would, you know, *winks* But for the most part, I really liked this tale. I found myself wanting to return to Corin and Aiden and see where things would go next. Their lives intrigued me. Their fight for their homeland stirred my patriotic side, *smiles*

Since this book is titled for Aiden, I shall mention his family a bit. So the Clans, (including the Braetons), were really fascinating. I almost feel like the idea of these group of people was taken from Scottish ancestry or something of that sort. In any case, their traditions and lifestyle charmed me, *smiles* Loved the dancing, the bards, and the songs! So fun.

I will say again, I felt Claire’s world building was quite well-done. It has the feel of being thought-out and all. So that was great. I was inspired by the world of The Rise of Aredor and The Wildcat of Braeton. And Claire has definitely found her writing style/flow. I didn’t notice any choppiness in this book. It all came together very nicely!

And we get some romance this time! *winks and smiles* Some friendships developed into something more, and there were a few sweet kisses and moments. Some words of love exchanged. I was happy to see more of the girl characters and explore a bit of their thoughts, feelings, and adventures.

There isn’t very much of a faith element. We have some talk of singing the dead off to Lleu’s Halls or something to that sort; and other little mentions of Lleu. A few Clan-traditions/folk-lore kind of thoughts scattered throughout as well.

As I mentioned above, there were some endearing kisses exchanged as for romance. All sweet, *smiles* There’s some talk of cursing and rough(er) bantering between friends. Also, there’s frequent mentions of ale/drinks.

But, after enjoying the story for a while … then we start getting to the heart-rending parts. Be warned, fellow readers, your heart will be (utterly) crushed a time or two. As for me, I like that “happily ever after” fairytale ending feel most of the time, so it was really hard for me to come to grips with certain happenings of The Wildcat of Braeton. And the ending was … different. I’ve read one other book, I believe, with that sort of ending; it leaves me with a bit of a surreal feeling. I haven’t decided if I’m okay with it or not yet, lol! *winks* So there is some sorrow in this book that my girly, fairytale-ish self had a very hard time holding up under. That would be the reason for cutting off a half of star from the rating I wanted to give.

But overall, I really liked The Wildcat of Braeton! A chance to explore Aiden/Emeth’s story and journey along more with Corin as well. Just the last bit left me floundering, *wrinkles nose* Here’s what I suggest. Read The Rise of Aredor and also give The Wildcat of Braeton a try. We have a fantastic writer here and wonderful non-magic fantasy, *smiles* You can see if the story elements are more to your taste than my personal preferences!

I received a proof copy of The Wildcat of Braeton from the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. An avid reader of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and many other adventure novels, Claire was prompted to begin writing her own fantasy novel at seventeen after several years of daydreaming. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire partakes in the joys of watching the Boston Red Sox, Aggie football, playing volleyball, and horseback riding. She hopes her faith and strong foundation in God will continue to help guide her writing. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center.

Release date info-

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the release date has been moved to (most likely) May. However, if you feel that you cannot live without this book, you can buy it here- Warning- it costs about a hundred-million dollars (or I’m a poor college student and anything over $20 is expensive), so I would wait until its official release date and you can shop more cheaply! Stay tuned on my Facebook page or blog for more info on the release date!

Connect with the author:


Twitter: @TheRiseofAredor


Interview with Claire Banschbach:

Me: Hey Claire, so good to have you on my blog! :-) I’m looking forward to chatting with you and discussing your new release, The Wildcat of Braeton!

Claire: Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to be here!

Me: So, how old were you when you first discovered the desire to write stories?

Claire: I wish I could say that I’ve always wanted to write stories. I’ve always had a vivid imagination but I didn’t start putting anything on paper until after I saw The Lord of the Rings at home and in the theater. Those movies really gave me a jump start on making my own stories. When I was about 12-13 was when I started doing some writing, some truly awful attempts that will never see the light of day. Then there was a break in there until I was about 17 and I grabbed a notebook and started writing the story that had been living in my imagination for about 4 years. I haven’t stopped since.

Me: Awesome! I’m with you about the first stories that will never see the light of day, lol! From reading your books… You seem prefer having men as your main characters? Why?

Claire: I think it comes from reading more male-centered adventure stories growing up. And I can still safely classify myself as a tomboy. But really I think that male characters are easier to write because they’re pretty straightforward in terms of actions and reactions. Women on the other hand have a whole different dynamic. We have different focuses, priorities, thought processes, etc. So did I just call myself a lazy writer? Maybe. But as someone just starting out with writing, I think I wanted to shy away from female characters because you see some negative stereotypes, in fantasy especially, and I wanted to make sure I had some practice before I really tried to do us justice in a story and not just recreate that helpless, annoying girl character that frustrates me so much. But now I’ve begun to write more female main characters and I’m finding that it’s really quite fun!

Me: Hmmm...interesting thoughts for sure. I understand the negative stereotype thing! In any case, I’ve really enjoyed your female characters and think you wrote them very nicely! :-) Favorite book genre and one book you’ve read from it?

Claire: I do love fantasy, but I’m also fond of historical fiction so we’ll go with that. My absolutely favorite historical fiction is a book set in ancient Egypt called Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton. I highly recommend it.

Me: Sounds intriguing. Fantasy and historical-fiction are also my favorites. Do you have a quiet or outgoing personality?

Claire: When I’m thrown into new situations, especially with a lot of new people, I get really quiet. It takes some time for me to “warm up” and really display my true personality. One of my good friends once said that she didn’t know why people thought I was quiet because I don’t shut up! So, I’m a little bit of both depending on the situation.

Me: Sounds reasonable! :-) A food that makes you sigh in delight…? :-D

Claire: A big, juicy hamburger. Definitely.

Me: Mmm, now you're making me hungry! :-) I’m gluten-free, so I don’t often get hamburgers, but Burgerville has gluten-free, and oh their hamburgers are to die for! ;-D What’s one personal dream you have?

Claire: It’s been my dream for the past six years or so to become a physical therapist. I’m now about to finish my first year of three of physical therapy school. After I graduate? To quote Flynn Rider, that’s the good part because I get to go find a new dream.

Me: That’s wonderful. Aw… Flynn Rider, :-) Do you prefer dystopian or science fiction or neither?

Claire: I have enjoyed some of the recent dystopian works but I’m more likely to pick up a science fiction work if they were lying side by side.

Me: Cool. I’m more into dystopian, but with the ones I’ve been watching recently (a.k.a. Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014), I may just want to stay away, ha!). One place you’d like to visit someday?

Claire: I would love to visit Wales! It’s just really struck my imagination after reading Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle. It also caused me give the country of Aredor a light Welsh theme. I’d love to backpack Great Britain! I guess that’s also one of my dreams. :-)

Me: Lovely! That would be fun! Thanks for being here, Claire! It was great hearing some of your thoughts! :-)

Claire: Thanks again for having me!


Opens at midnight March 23 and closes at midnight on March 28. Giveaway includes 2 signed copies of The Wildcat of Braeton and accompanying sets of four notecard sized illustrations from the series! Click the link below to enter in the rafflecopter giveaway:

Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, March 23
Morgan Huneke, Shire Reviews – Book Review
Faith Blum, Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections – Character Spotlight – Aiden

Tuesday, March 24
Kendra E. Ardnek, Knitted by God’s Plan – Author Interview/Book Review
Mary Clare Archer, Virtuous Rebellion – Author Interview

Wednesday, March 25
Michael Gunter, Tales of Today and Yesterday – Author Interview
Claire M. Banschbach -Thoughts and Rants – Meet the Characters!

Thursday, March 26
Jaye L. Knight, Author Jaye L. Knight – Author Interview
Claire M. Banschbach- Thoughts and Rants- Interview with the Artist

Friday, March 27
Shantelle, A Writer’s Heart – Author Interview/Book Review
Elizabeth Rawls, E. Rawls – Author Interview

Saturday, March 28
Katie Grace, A Writer’s Faith – Author Interview
Claire M. Banschbach, Thoughts and Rants – Tour finish and excerpt