Sunday, September 4, 2016

Author Interview #5 - Megan Linski

Let's welcome our next visiting author, Megan Linksi! Recently, I had the opportunity to review one of Megan's books, Rhodi's Light, and I loved it! You can check out my review here but for now, let's get on to the interview, shall we?

Megan, why did you want to become an author? Did you always know it was your "calling" or is there a certain moment you can think of that put you on this path? 
I still struggle today with being certain that this is my calling. Every day, I still wonder if I'd be better off doing something else, if I chose the right path. But I think one of the things about life is that you don't choose your calling, it chooses you. I couldn't stop writing even if I wanted to (and believe me, I have tried). I realized recently that writing is literally the best thing I can do and nobody can quite write a book like I can. I sometimes think I should be doing something different. But I don't want to do anything different. Every time I've tried to run away from what I am, it always creates a situation I regret. So I do this partly because I have no choice, and partly because I would have no idea who I was without writing. I don't think anybody else would know either.

Great answer! Let's talk a little bit about Rhodi's Light. The main character, Dylan, struggles with mental illness, mainly depression, throughout the book. What made you want to add such an issue into your writing? 
My entire life, I've been surrounded by mental illness. There literally isn't one person I know who hasn't been affected by it, and it hurts more than the people diagnosed with it. When someone has depression, it's such a terrible illness that it reaches out and infects the lives of those who care about that person. It hurts so many people, and so often it just gets swept under the rug. There's such a stigma about being mentally ill, like there's something wrong with you. I want to tell all those people that they aren't broken, they're normal and this is something you can conquer.

The most important message The Rhodi Saga has is that mental illness doesn't have to define who you are. It's a part of you, but it doesn't have to become you, and you can defeat it. Dylan has depression, but depression doesn't have her for long. She learns that even though it's there, she can endure the consequences of it and still go on to live a fulfilling life. Another part I love is that her friends and family are always there for her, to support her through it. So many people don't get support from their families when they're mentally ill. It's like something they have to hide. Dylan can be open and honest about what's happening to her, and her family still doesn't see her as anyone different at the end of the day. That's how it should be.

Okay, this is a silly question but why twins? 
I used to be obsessed with twins. When I started writing Rhodi's Light, I really wanted to have twins as my own children, through birth or adoption. I'm a big fan of adoption, which is a huge theme of the series.

Do you have a particular place you like to write? Somewhere that makes the inspiration "flow"? Also...computer or pen and paper? 
I love writing outside and in nature. Anywhere outdoors is my favorite writing place, particularly if it's in a forest. However, I do my best writing when I'm trapped in unusual places. My best work has come from places like dingy, bleak offices, the back of classrooms or dingy bedrooms, even Burger King! I find being in these particularly normal surroundings pushes me to find the magic even in the most mundane. I also find I write well when I'm in some sort of emotional chaos. That pushes me to find an escape and create good from wretched situations.

Computer. Pen and paper makes my hand hurt way too much. Though typing isn't much better . . . I have to wrap my wrists and hands now with athletic tape when I write and ice my fingers at night. My old high school teacher once told me I write too much. She was write.

Wow, that's what I call dedication! Thanks so much for taking time to chat with us! Is there anything else you would like to share with us? 
How about the Rhodi's Light trailer? https://youtu.be/rJHdTPbvRJk
Or a playlist for The Rhodi Saga? https://open.spotify.com/user/12179397807/playlist/41pTZKXDVV4d9wFV1i5LEh

Check out Rhodi's Light, Rhodi Rising, and Rhodi's Lullaby on Amazon! And don't forget to visit Megan's website, her Facebook page, and Gryfyn Publishing's Facebook page! You can also receive a free book if you sign up for Megan's VIP list! Everybody loves free books :)

Happy Release Day, Megan, and thanks again for chatting with us!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Author Interview #4 - Claressa Swensen

I am so excited to be doing my first author interview with a Children's Book Author! Little Boy and I reviewed her books a little while back and we adored them! So here's my interview with this gorgeous lady, Claressa Swensen!


Why did you decide to write kid's books? 
Well, I've always had a passion for creating things and I also really love kids (probably because I'm a child at heart myself), so I guess it's only natural I fell into writing children's books.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
When I was 15, I got my first job as a nanny, and have always worked as a nanny since then. I used to come up with fun stories to tell the kids that would teach little lessons, like learning to share or being kind to your siblings. So when I decided to hire an illustrator and publish my first story, there was a huge feeling of accomplishment there. And seeing the children interact and learn from my books has been the most rewarding part of it all. I guess writing has become a part of who I am, and I could never see myself quitting.

What is your favorite genre to read? Or how about a favorite author or book(s) that inspires your writing career? 
Well, I've always loved the Berenstain Bears' books. I try to incorporate the same meaningful values into my stories.

Who doesn't love the Berenstain Bears :) Okay, now for a fun little question: a favorite food? 
I enjoy ethnic foods. I love trying new things. My favorites are Curry and Italian!

Okay, how about anything else you would like to share with us? 
I actually just released the first book in a new Dinosaur rhyming series called "Dino Dino Doing Homework". The pictures are phenomenal and every one of my stories teaches a valuable lesson.
(Little Boy and I reviewed this one and loved it!)

Claressa, thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me! And if you'd like to stop by and say hi to her, you can follow Claressa on Facebook. Her books are also available on Amazon and YoungsterKids! Go check them out if you're looking for an adorable read for your little ones!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mash-Up Review #1 - Claressa Swensen

I was recently approached by children's book author, Claressa Swensen, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a few of her books for my blog. Of course, I said yes! Little Boy and I are always looking for new books to read! Most of the time, I like to get physical copies for him but lately, he is having so much fun turning the "pages" on the Galaxy tablet that I am just as willing to review Kindle books. And that's what we have here!

I am also going to try something a bit different. If I have multiple books that I want to showcase from an author, I'm going to do these mash-up reviews. You'll still get my opinions on each book (as well as what Little Boy seemed to think of them), but it will be in one post. So let's give it a try!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kid's Book Review #5 - "Mophie & Picholas" book 1 & 2

Even though he's just over two, I am getting excited for Little Boy to start reading. What can I say, with a writer/book nerd for a mama, he will have plenty of books to choose from. This week, we read (well, Mommy read and Little Boy listened . . . semi-patiently) the first two books in the Mophie & Picholas series by father-son duo, Joseph and Anthony Pandolfi.

A Very Strange Trip to the Park
(The Adventures of Mophie & Picholas #1)
by Joseph & Anthony Pandolfi

Publish Date: March 20, 2016
Format Read: Kindle
Buy the Book: Amazon

How Many Stars? 4

My Scribbles: In the first book, Mophie and Picholas go to the park, only to find that Evil Queen Blunderpuss's nephew, Bratty, has turned the park to ice. So, with the help of their dragon friend, Sylvester, they save the day and take back the park. It was a cute read. The only problem I had with it was that it almost seemed like this should have been book 2 instead of book 1. Still, both Little Boy and I enjoyed this one and look forward to more in the series beyond book 2.

How the Kids Met Sylvester the Dragon
(The Adventures of Mophie & Picholas #2)
by Joseph & Anthony Pandolfi

Publish Date: March 20, 2016
Format Read: Kindle
Source: readingdeals.com in exchange for review
Buy the Book: Amazon

How Many Stars? 5

My Scribbles: I think both Little Boy and I enjoyed this one more than the first one. I mean, flying horses and dragons? Definitely our kind of book! As with the first book, I loved the illustrations. Having a two-year-old, it's funny listening to how three-year-old Picholas talks. And, for a beginning reader, the chapters are a perfect length. It was fun to immerse ourselves in the world of Mophie & Picholas again, where evil queens and flying horses are normal! Such a great early chapter book! 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Read It/Hear It Review #1 "Not Your Match" by Lindzee Armstrong

Not Your Match
(No Match For Love #2) 
by Lindzee Armstrong
Narrated by Tiffany Williams

Format Read: Audible
Publish Date: June 13, 2016
Length: 7 hrs 19 mins
Source: author in exchange for review

How Many Stars? 5, wait can I go higher?
Synopsis: Sometimes it takes dating Mr. Wrong to find Mr. Right. 

Andi doesn't believe in matchmaking. But when her best friend buys her a subscription to Toujour, a professional matchmaking service, she agrees to give it a try. She's matched with a celebrity client, but he can't make her heart flutter or her limbs turn to mush the way Ben, her best friend's brother, can with a simple smile. 

When Ben's fiancee calls off their wedding - for the third time - he flees to Los Angeles, desperate for a new beginning. He moves in across the hall from Andi, his high school ballroom dance partner and his sister's best friend. Despite nursing a broken heart, his long-forgotten crush flares to life. He's just beginning to believe he can move past his breakup, and maybe even ask Andi out, when his ex-fiancee shows up on Christmas Day, determined to win him back. 

Dating the wrong people has convinced both Ben and Andi that what they really want is each other. All that's standing in their way is a fake boyfriend, a jealous ex-fiancee, and being afraid to risk their hearts. 

My Scribbles: This is the third book I have read in this series (counting the prequel, Meet Your Match) and I absolutely loved it, even though I was a little bummed in the beginning because I crashed off my Luke and Brooke high. But once I got into Andi's story, I enjoyed every minute. And it amazed me how, in the parts that overlapped Miss Match, I was still affected so much when certain things happened (sorry, can't tell you, spoilers!). It takes real talent to still make someone gasp when they have already read the scene, just from another person's point of view. 

As for the audio part of it, I enjoyed how the narrator was able to change her voice just enough so that you could tell someone different was speaking. I liked being able to hear the emphasis she put on certain words or phrases, giving you more of an insight into what the characters were really thinking when they spoke. It made me feel as though I was right there with them, instead of just listening to her read the book. 

Great job to both Lindzee and Tiffany! You made a great team! 

You can find Not Your Match on Audible, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Thanks again, Lindzee, for joining us this week as Feature and for taking the time to do an interview with me! 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Author Interview #1 - Lindzee Armstrong

I recently had the exciting chance to interview one of my favorite authors, Lindzee Armstrong. Lindzee is the author of the No Match For Love series (go check out my review of Meet Your Match and stop back here on Wednesday for the review of Miss Match!) and it has fast made its way to the top of my list of favorite romance novels.

So, on to the interview . . .

What made you decide to become an author? Or did you just always know you wanted to be a writer? 
I honestly don't remember! I have always wanted to be a writer. My mom says I started telling her that's what I would be when I grew up in about kindergarten. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to do this. From the time I was a baby, I had a love of books. I would be in a room full of toys and find the one book in there to latch on to.

Sounds like me :) Okay, do you have any author role models? If so, who?
Really, it's any author who's out there making their dreams happen. I love seeing authors work hard and having it pay off! I love following Tahereh Mafi on social media . . . she just seems like someone that would be cool to hang out with. I really admire how J.K. Rowling has used her fame and fortune in philanthropic endeavors and to further causes she believes in. She is such a classy lady.

How about to read? Do you have a favorite author you just can't stay away from?
Oh, there are so many! Janette Rallison or Cassie Mae are my go-to authors for romantic comedies. I will read anything those two publish. I really love Tahereh Mafi's writing style. I think Kiera Cass has a fun way of blending romantic fairy tale-type stories with dystopian elements. Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind  hold a very special place in my heart.

Okay, let's talk about your writing now. Of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? Is there a character you like best or a book that was the most fun to write? 
Asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking me to pick a favorite child. Brooke and Luke's story (Miss Match) will always have a special place in my heart. I've always loved best friends-to-lovers romances, and writing theirs was so much fun. As far as the book that was the most fun to write, Mix 'N Match is coming out in July, and I've had such a blast with Zoey and Mitch's story! Zoey is such a spontaneous character (which is so different from how I am in real life), and it's been fun to live vicariously through her.

Why write romance? 
I have always been a bit of a romantic. But more than that, what I love most about novels are the characters and their relationships with other characters. Romance is chock full of just about every emotion you can imagine, and when emotions are involved, the stakes are always high. To me, love is what makes life worth living, and it's what I love writing about.

Anything else you would like to share with us before we go?
If you want to try out one of my books, you can get Meet Your Match (the first book in my No Match For Love series) for free if you subscribe to my newsletter! You can do that here! And thank you so much for having me, Megan!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Lindzee! If you want to check Lindzee out, stop by her website, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, her Amazon author page, or pick up one of the books in her No Match For Love series. I have read the first two (Brooke and Luke's story) and can't wait to dive into the next!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review #7 "A Change of Plans" by Donna K. Weaver

A Change of Plans
(Safe Harbors #1)
by Donna K. Weaver

How Many Stars? 5 stars
Synopsis: When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old Colorado high school teacher wants is to forget that her dead fiance was a cheating scumbag. What she plans is a vacation diversion; what fate provides is Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship's make-believe world and its temporary friendship, her emotions come alive. 

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he navigates, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship - on the very anniversary Lyn came on the cruise to forget. But Lyn's painful memories are too powerful, and she runs off in a panic. 

Things are bad enough when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise's snorkeling excursions in American Samoa. However, paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped. Lyn's fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck. 

My Scribbles: I could not put this book down! As a big romance fan, this one was a winner for me. I loved the relationship between Lyn and Braedon, even as rocky as it was. In the beginning, I wasn't a fan of Jori but he definitely started to grow on me as I kept reading. Loved the action of the pirates and I really did feel like I was on the cruise ship with them. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great adventure book with a well-written romance in it and characters you can actually find yourself identifying with. I found myself emotionally invested in the characters to the point that I really cared what happened to them. 

I will definitely be reading this one again, probably before reading the second in the series, and if you want to pick up a copy for yourself, Amazon and Barnes and Noble are the places to go!