“So Many Books, So Little Time…” Throw Pillow Giveaway

Hi everyone! This summer has been amazing, but really, really busy. So I’m sorry if my postings have been a bit all over the place.

A few weeks ago I reached out to Darlene Nudy after coming across her Etsy store, which you can check out here. You can also visit her Facebook page here, and don’t forget to give it a like! Darlene is a seamstress who does custom sewing and embroidery. What really caught my eye was her throw pillows.

Why? Because anyone who loves decorating loves throw pillows. And, anyone who loves decorating AND books can’t help but love Darlene’s book inspired pillow!

To my delight, Darlene agreed to work with me to bring this wonderful giveaway to you! She sent me two pillows, one with Keystroke Blog’s logo on it, and the other saying “So Many Books, So Little Time…” (which perfectly describes my life at any given moment).

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I am so happy with these cute little pillows! They are a good fabric and are sewn very well. And they are so adorable! I am so happy to have the chance to give one lucky winner one of these pillows.

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To enter the giveaway, follow the rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e20309ab3/?

Author Q&A- Brandy Nacole

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandy Nacole. Brandy is the author of the Shadow World series and the Spiritual Discord Series. Here is her interview!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start? 
A:  I’ve been writing since I was in the first or second grade. An author had visited our school and I was amazed by his whole presentation. That exact day, I went back to class and wrote my first story about a boy and his pet alligator. My mom still has it. The rest is history. I’ve been writing ever since. 
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse? 
A: Books I read and my dreams inspire me a lot. If I’m having trouble with a certain scene in a book I’m writing, sometimes reading or taking a walk can help twist the ideas the way I need them to be. 
I like to think my Grandma is my muse. Her and I were really when she was alive. We would spend many afternoons sitting out on the porch reading or inside writing notes from the books we’ve read, favorite lines and such. I know she would be proud of all I’ve done, having succeeded in making the dream I had as a child come true. 
Q: Tell me about your book series, The Shadow World and The Spiritual Discord. What inspired them? 
A: The Shadow World series follows the transformation of Racquel, a hybrid living in a purebred world. To say she’s unique, well that’s putting it mild. She has four different supernatural bloodlines coursing through her veins and never knows if she’s going to be sprouting claws or snacking on someone’s neck. It can make for some challenging days. Over the course of the series, we not only get to see Racquel find acceptance with the purebreds as she helps them find a shadowed villian, but also with herself. It’s not until she realizes she’s her biggest critic, that she’s able to let go and be free. 
The idea for the Shadow World came from a dream about Racquel. Her struggle and differences from everyone. It really hit home with a project I was working on with my local community for bullying, but with a twist of Fantasy. Racquel has been bullied her whole life since being a hybrid is forbidden. But once purebreds go missing and the High Council is shown that Racquel may be the only one who can help, she pushed into a world of trying to prove herself, accept herself, and realize that we are all unique in our own way – while also saving the world. She’s pretty badass.🙂
Currently, the Shadow World series is getting a new look and some update, including a prequel. The whole series will be re-released this winter as a boxset. I’m pretty excited!
Skipping over to the Spiritual Discord series, we dive into a whole new world of fallen angels, vampires, and hellhounds, with a few average humans thrown in the mix. Oh, where to begin with this series… It’s so full of twists and turns, struggles and inner battles. I wanted to capture these thoughts with each of the main characters, so yes, it is a multiple POV novel with a total of 4 narratives. Kayson, the fallen angel who is only trying to prove a point against the universe, including God. Sabrina, who is trying to mind her own business and survive on animal blood, even though it’s lacking. Falon, Alpha of the Hell Hounds, is out to settle a score and prove his ranks in Hell. Then there’s poor Emma. A simple girl, trying to do a simple favor for her mom who is away traveling with her dad, when she’s thrown into the mist of a world she would have rather kept in the dark.
Broken Faith (Book 1) came out after the second in the Shadow World series. I had always wanted to write a fallen angels novel and it wasn’t until a drive home from New York State that got my wheels turning. Funny how a few road signs, stormy clouds, and boredom can get the ole wheels turning. This series has made me mad, sad, happy, and an all about loon, but I love the Fantasy world that has been built among all these different characters and am absolutely dreading the day the last book is released.
Right now, the first 3 books are available with the 4th being released soon!
I also have a standalone novel, Deep in the Hollow, that is based on a real small town legend. Greed has a price, and the dead do not always rest.
Q: Which of your characters would you most like to meet in real life?
A:Good grief, it’s questions like these that make me wish I could split myself in half. The ultimatum comes down between Racquel and Sabrina. I love both these girls. In the end, though, it would be Racquel. There is a part of me that can relate to Racquel, a part that unerstands. I’m not even going to lie and say there wasn’t times Racquel and I were one as I wrote.
Q: If you were thrown into one of the worlds you have created, what would you do?
A: Man, that’s one I haven’t been asked. What would I do? Well, after several panic attacks later, I imagine myself in the fight. I’m not one of those types to sit and be silent, so I like to think I would get right up in the mix of all the action.
Q: What is something you want the world to know? 
A: I want the world to know that we are all unique, just like our fingerprints, and that life affects each one of us differently. I want the world to know that instead of viewing that different as bad, it should be viewed as inspiring, as another art piece in the language of life. There are no rights or wrongs. To give compassion is to receive it. And that’s what I try to express in all my books. Even with all the action, mystery, and romance, there’s compassion and love for one another, for the unique and unusual. Remember this each and everyday. You are: Unique. Loved. Perfect
Find Brandy Online:

Book Reivew- I am the Weapon

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I am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff
Published by Little Brown on May 13, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Action, Adventure
Pages: 368
Goodreads
Amazon

They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when The Program assigns him to the mayor of New York City, things change. Somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and a girlfriend; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

I am the Weapon was intense. It is action packed and fast paced from the first sentence. Boy Nobody, who later adopts the name Ben, is a highly trained solider who lives his life mission to mission. Is he cool? Yes. Is he dangerous? Hell yea. Is he good? Now that right there is the million dollar question.

Throughout the book, Boy Nobody begins to reveal (or rather, remember) things from his past. Things from before he became Boy Nobody. Instead of following his instructions and completing his mission, he goes on a quest for answers, causing a whole lot of craziness in his wake.

One thing that makes me love the book is the relationship story line. I love how Ben and Sam aren’t immediately head-over-heels… it feels more real that way. They don’t trust each other (for good reason) and they have a lot of great entertaining conversations that drive the story line forward and have real substance.

The ending of the book took me by surprise. Well, I don’t know if surprise is the right word, because I expect nothing less than what happened from Boy Nobody… but I certainly didn’t see it coming. It broke my heart a little, and my only complaint is it didn’t break my heart enough.

I also feel like I am the Weapon would have been a great stand-alone book (besides the whole unresolved mysterious past). I don’t really feel compelled to read the second book, which is never exactly a good thing. But at the same time I’m curious, and I expect some pretty big things from I am the Mission.

I am going to give I am the Weapon four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Author Q&A- Virginia Franken

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Virginia Franken, the upcoming author of Life After Coffee, which comes out September 13th, 2016. Virginia has always loved writing, but it wasn’t until her first son was born that her writing turned into a serious goal. So, without any  further ado, I give you Virginia Franken’s interview!0311-Final(WEBonly)

Q: How long have you been writing?

A:  I loved writing stories and poems as a kid. I had a very supportive English teacher when I was about nine and she told me that if my dreams of making it as a prima ballerina fell to the wayside (ahem) then I should consider writing for a living! Not long after that, I wrote a poem about the time our fourth grade class had our underwear stolen from the local pool while we were swimming there (bizarre-but-true story) – it got published in the school paper and I was off.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: It’s interesting that I only really started writing with any serious intention toward getting published after my first child was born. So I guess you could say that my son was/is my muse. I think I’d been expecting motherhood to define who I was as a person and cement my place on planet earth amongst the other humanoids. Didn’t work that way, and when I became a mother I was as grasping and confused about life as ever. So when my baby was about six weeks old, I start writing with one almighty burst – three books at once. One was a children’s novel that I showed to almost no one, another was a non-fiction book that I may well finish one day and the third was a memoir about dating in Los Angeles as a single mother. The dating book got a bit of interest from agents – but ultimately I’m glad it didn’t get published as it was too personal a book to be out in the public arena.

Q: Tell me about your upcoming book Life After Coffee! What was the original idea behind it?

A: Life After Coffee is about a globe-trotting coffee buyer, Amy, who loses her job, becomes a stay-at-home mom and finds out that it’s all much harder than it looks. There’s also a movie mogul ex-boyfriend of hers on the horizon, offering her an escape from the brutal reality of her life and she starts to find it’s all a bit tempting…

It’s essential a comic novel, but there are some very tough scenes when Amy’s leaving her kids behind in order to travel for work. This book was inspired by the difficulties I felt after I had my second child and I was dealing with the emotional turmoil of having to return to the office before I was anywhere near ready. I turned to the literary world for some comfort reading and couldn’t find any fiction written about the very specific heartache of my situation. After talking to friends who were going through the same ordeal, I came to realize that a woman can be smart, feminist and excellent at her job but still feel like the very fabric of her soul is being torn in two every morning when she leaves her baby behind for a day at work. There seems to be so little written about this very emotional topic–maybe because the women who are living it are far too busy to write about it as well!

Q: How do you hope Life After Coffee will affect people? How did writing it affect you?

A: I think it would be great if Life After Coffee could inspire some empathy for reluctant working moms. It’s not a PC thing to say, but nevertheless it is a fact that some women LAC coverfind it hard to leave their kids at home every day in order to go to work. Not all women get to choose whether to work or stay at home. And those women who have no choice but to put their kids in daycare and get to the office, haven’t always found their ways into fulfilling careers. More women are flying higher than ever – but for some women, the careers just never got going. Some jobs are just boring ass boring. Some women would prefer to stay at home and raise their kids themselves, some women would prefer to work part-time, some women would prefer not to return to work when their baby is 2 weeks/6 weeks/12 weeks old. But a lot of women in American get no choice. More so than ever women are the breadwinners and we are proud of what we are achieving. But we are also exhausted. We also wish we had more genuine choices about how we spend our day. Proper maternity leave, job-share opportunities, and reliable universal health care that’s not dependent upon employment status. We The Women wish our true voices could be heard, because all we hear right now is: do it harder, be it better, say it nicer, lean in further, but be careful not to lean in so far your forehead hits the floor cause it’s kinda dirty – everyone round here’s too busy working for The Man to have gotten round to mopping it…

Q: If you could sit down for a cup of tea with any author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

A: Probably Mindy Kaling as she’s only down the street from me (well, we live in the same city anyway). But apart from the convenience of not having to travel through time or space to meet her – I think she’s just a truly brilliant comic writer. And besides, two minutes in we’d be laughing so hard that tea would suddenly seem way too formal so we’d just move onto a nice bottle of chilled white. And then after a couple of glasses of that we’d suddenly realize we were totally hungry and we’d probably get an Uber out to Malibu and go to this amazing fish and chips place I know. Then we’d strip down to our swimwear that would spontaneously appear under our cute outfits and run in and out of the waves all evening with the dolphins. I’ve no idea what specifics we’d talk about, but I know that whatever they were-they would be awesome. It really would be a magical day! Wanna come with?

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That if you really close your eyes, open your heart and do your best to understand where someone else is coming from…there’s every chance they’ll try just as hard to understand you.


Thank you so much for being here, Virginia! I loved your answers and YES! Yes I want to come with you and Mindy!!!

Don’t forget to check out Life After Coffee and order it! It is not a book you are going to want to miss! See it on Amazon here.

 

Book Review- Swarm

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Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
Expected Publication by Simon Pulse on September 27, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Goodreads
Amazon

They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes.

These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground.

But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister.

Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him.

Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army?

Swarm was insane. I didn’t think the stakes could get higher than Zeroes (book 1) but I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

This book picks up a few months after the events of Zereos. The characters are healing. They even started a nightclub (well, an illegal night club, but still…). Then enter Glitch and Coin, two more zeroes on the run from someone… or something. They not only turn the Petri Dish (the nightclub) upside down, but they drop some pretty scary news while doing it.
Now it is up to the zeroes to face something they can’t explain. They have to not only save themselves, but keep as many people from being hurt in the process; which isn’t as easy as it sounds… especially considering (most) of their powers rely on having many people present.
I really enjoyed this book. It kept me guessing, and the end was a punch in the gut. Unlike the first book (which didn’t feel like it needed a sequel) this book left such a huge cliffhanger I don’t know how I’m going to be able to survive until I find out what happens next.

I definitely recommend reading the Zeroes books if you love powers, lots of action, and crazy high stakes. Get ready to be blown away and sucked into the world of Zeroes.

I am going to give Swarm four out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

*I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way influenced my opinions or feeling about the book.

Book Review- Zeroes

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Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti
Published by Simon Pulse on September 29, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 546
Goodreads
Amazon

Don’t call them heroes.

But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.

Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.

Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.

Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series.

Zeroes was non-stop action from the very first page.

Six teens (Ethan, Nate, Riley, Chizara, Thibault, and Kelsie) have amazing powers… powers that they don’t quite understand. Powers that keep getting them into trouble; or at least that’s what always seems to happen when Ethan opens his mouth and his other voice comes out.

Zeroes is full of twists and turns that whip at you with no warning. At any moment there were a million possibilities, and yet somehow the three wonderful authors of this book found a way to steer the story in the perfect direction every time.

It is quite a challenge to write a book about power without having some of the same elements of other books about people with powers. So yes, there are some similarities if you are looking for them. However, I have to say that I have never come across powers that work quite like the Zeroes powers work: that is, on a curve.

I very much enjoyed this book, an recommend it to anyone who loves superheroes, powers, thick plots, and dangerous situations.

I am going to give Zeroes four out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Giveaway- Custom Book Cover Canvas Painting

Hey everybody! These past few weeks have been kind of crazy for me! I am visiting my best friend for a month, so we have had a lot of catching up to do (and we also kind of went on an impromptu cross-country road trip…. hehe). But it’s been great so far.

I also have been working behind the scenes for about two months now to line up giveaways for you amazing readers, one of which is going live today!

The wonderful Rachel over at REArtByRachel on Etsy (and Instagram) has teamed up with me to give you guys a chance to win a 16″x20″ canvas painting of your favorite book cover!! (which by the way would normal cost you $65!)

Rachel was nice enough to make me a 9″x12″ painting of one of my favorite book covers (and I say “one of my” because lets be honest here: picking between my favorite books would be like a mother picking her favorite child). Because I had just finished reading The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett (read my review here) I decided to pick that cover.

As you can see, the painting is stunning! It looks just like the cover! I love it so much!

And now you have a chance to win one of your very own! All you have to do is click the rafflecopter link below and follow the giveaway instructions. Good luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e20309ab2/?

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