Thursday, 14 December 2017

Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles #1)


Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles #1) 

Book Review:

Khya lives on the island of Shiara. It's isolated and harsh. Every day is a challenge. Most die young.
Magic, secrets, and half-truths are all around.

Khya was close to her brother, Yorri until his apparent death. Now she is determined to find the truth. She is a trained warrior and dedicated to protecting her clan, but her brother's death changes everything. Now she has to put her trust in Tessen. Trust is earned not given and it will take time. Tessen is hot on Khya tracks and soon becomes integrated into her life. Could he hold some of the answers?

This book is not an easy bedtime read and I think a paperback copy would be best. I would recommend you read the glossary/Index, which is located at the back of the book. I wish I'd realised it was there, as it would help digest this book.

Island of Exiles is an interesting concept with an imaginative storyline. I enjoyed reading it, however, I had to really concentrate. 

*Glossary is included at the end of this post*

3.5 stars out of 5.

ARC received as part of the chapter by chapter blog tour for book 2 Sea of strangers. My review is honest and fair.

Kindle Edition £4.48 or £7.56 Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Entangled: Teen 
ISBN: 978-1633755925

Buy it from: EntangledAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound
Add this book on Goodreads.


In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.


I breathe the briny air and try to consider the options objectively. As objectively as I ever can when my brother is involved.

Yorri was the first person to tell me that one day I’d be kaigo, just like our blood-parents, serving the Miriseh and earning high honors in Ryogo. I’d flicked him on the shoulder and said “Of course I will be,” but his faith had been what convinced me I was right.

Yorri gets so excited he stumbles over his own words when he’s explaining how he solved some new, impossible puzzle. He devotes himself with frightening fervor to anything that ensnares his arrow-quick mind, but sometimes needs reminding that the rest of the world exists.

Forget objectivity. It’s worth the risk.
I am going to keep him safe, just like I always have.

“You’re going to be late for the vigil if you stand here staring into nothing for much longer, Khya.”
I tense, keeping my eyes on the angry, dark, blue white-capped waves. I’d heard the footsteps approaching, but several people had come and gone already and left me alone.
Tessen, however, never was able to keep his thoughts inside his head.

“I won’t be late.” I answer without looking at him until he moves into my peripheral vision.
He leans against the wall to the left of me, his forearms crossed on the ledge and his head tilted up. With his arms folded on the ledge and his body held slightly away from the wall, I can make out the lines of muscle under layers of cloth, all of it hard-earned—though I probably won’t ever admit that to him. I don’t look directly at him, but I turn my head enough to get a better look at his face.
He’s taller than me, so looking down on him like this is strange. Seeing him without the hood and atakafu we always wear on duty is stranger. I don’t think I’ve seen his whole face since he became nyshin over a year ago.

His thick eyebrows sit low over his deep-set eyes and the line of his nose is straight, because somehow he was always quick enough in training to avoid all but the most glancing blows to his face. The setting sun highlights the red in his terra-cotta skin and makes his oddly pale eyes flash. Usually they’re limestone gray, but now they’re paler than ever and gleaming almost as bright as the sunlight off the ocean.

“Shouldn’t you be off training? Or guarding something?” I ask before he speaks.
“I am.” He smirks at me. “I’m guarding the mad nyshin girl who’s decided to perch on the walls and imitate a mykyn bird.”
“I’m not planning on attempting flight.” I wave my hand at him, trying to brush him off. “You can go, Nyshin-ten.”
His lips purse; I hide a smile. It was delightful discovering exactly how annoyed he got when I called him by his class and rank instead of his name. The flash of aggravation disappears quickly, replaced by his more usual sardonic smile. “Should I guess what has you lost in your own head the night of a vigil?”
“No. I don’t have that much time.”
“Then I won’t guess. Only your brother puts that look on your face.”

I look at him, expecting to see mockery in his eyes. There isn’t any. He looks almost…serious?
“You’re worried about his herynshi. Unless he’s in trouble again? It’s been a while. He’s overdue.”
“It’s been a while because he doesn’t have to deal with people who point out his every mistake anymore. Like you.” Gritting my teeth, I bend to brace my hand on the ledge and jump down to where Tessen stands. At six feet, he’s only an inch or two taller than me. Our eyes are nearly level when I square off against him. “You’re one of the reasons he ever got in trouble in the first place.”
“And you spent years trying to make him invisible.” Tessen’s lips thin, and the muscles in his jaw clench for a moment. “Even before you found your wards, you shielded him from everything. What he can do now that you’re not there to monitor his every move should be all the proof you need.”
“He would have died if I hadn’t protected him.” Nothing will ever convince me it was wrong to keep him alive. “You can’t seriously be suggesting I should have let that happen?”
“No, that isn’t— You don’t even know what he’s capable of! How long has it been since you’ve seen him fight? It’s been—” He steps back, his lips pressed tight and his hands held away from his weapons. “Bellows, Khya. I didn’t come here to fight with you. This isn’t how this was supposed to go.”

I blink. “What?” Tessen backing away from an argument? This has to be a trick. “How what was supposed to go?”
He shakes his head, a small smile quirking up the corners of his mouth. “I only came to ask if you’d dance with me tonight at the celebration.”
He can’t be serious…but there’s not a single sign that he isn’t being sincere.
I drop my gaze to hide the confusion that has to show on my face. My focus catches on the pendant gleaming against the undyed cloth of his tunic—a two-inch iron disc etched with crossed zeeka swords. Blood and rot, I hate seeing that around his neck. The zeeka is the symbol of the kaigo; the pendant is a symbol of their students.

Tessen is wearing the kaigo-sei pendant that should have been mine.
Out of the whole clan, the Miriseh and the kaigo only choose one nyshin-ten per year. His blood-mother, Neeva, is on the kaigo council. Being named a kaigo-sei isn’t a guarantee of advancement, but it is a sign that the leaders of the clan are keeping an eye on you. The kaigo-sei are given extra training and have to face additional tests of magic, skill, and leadership. Not every nyshin named a kaigo-sei student becomes a council member, but no one who isn’t a kaigo-sei will ever become one. I can still earn one—and I will, sooner rather than later—but it seems like they’re already grooming Tessen to take Kaigo Neeva’s place one day.
Rot take him, it was supposed to be me.
Swallowing the fruitless envy building in my chest, I raise my eyes to meet Tessen’s again. “I don’t make promises I don’t intend to keep.”
“But that’s not a no, so I’ll ask again tonight.” He smiles, inclines his head, and then walks away whistling. I hate that sound, and I’m almost positive he knows that.



Itagamin Glossary of Terms

Ahdo – Second class of the island
Ahkiyu – A longbow
Ahuri – A fruit of the desert cactus that is eaten and used to make wine
Anto – The style of dagger used on Shiara
Atakafu – headscarf word in Itagami as protection from the desert winds
Bikyo-ko – the armory and the barracks for the two councils within Itagami
Byka – A caffeinated bean given to those on long missions to help them stay awake
Denhitra – Clan that lives in the southern mountain range on Shiara
Desosa – The ambient elemental energy of the world
Doseiku – An Itagamin clan member under sixteen who hasn't faced the herynshi yet
Ebet – The sex designation for those neither male nor female
Gasuren – A sugar-like sweetener extracted from the desert plant of the same name
Gensu – A woman's monthly menstruation
Herynshi – The trial undergone by all Itagamin citizens the moon of their sixteenth birthday
Imaku – The black island off the northern coast of Shiara
Isagysu – A formal greeting of respect and deference
Kaigo – The council that serves directly under the Miriseh
Kaigo-sei – The candidates chosen from the nyshin as potential future kaigo councilmembers
Kamidi – A large lizard with venomous spit
Khai – A relationship chosen specifically to produce children
Kujuko – The empty realm between our world and the afterlife
Kyiwa – The run of mountains and cliffs that border the eastern coast of Shiara
Miriseh – The immortals who lead Itagami
Mykyn – A large bird with sharp teeth and vicious claws
Niora – A mountain lion
Nyska – One of the tallest shrubs on the island, which bears pods that can be dried and used to make grain; the plant itself is also used to make cloth, bowstrings, paper, and other useful items
Nyshin – The highest class of citizens within Itagami
Patsu – A lacrosse-like game played on teams with an iron pole that is bladed on one end
Pira – Vicious, sharp-toothed fish
Ryogo – The mainland where Varan and the others came from
Sagen sy Itagami – The easternmost city that is built into the largest mesa on the island; the name literally translates to “desert plateau of the northern gods”
Saishigi – The last rites for citizens of Sagen sy Itagami
Shiara – What those from Itagami call the island itself
Suesutu – The pass southwest of Itagami between the larger of the Kyiwa Mountains
Sukhai – A bondmate/lover
Sumai – A deep bond/partnership/love; can be anywhere between entirely platonic or very sexual
Suraki – A weapon with a blade on one end, a weighted, sometimes spiked ball on the other, and a four-foot chain connecting the two
Surnat – A date-like fruit that grows on low bushes on the island
Teegra – A large, scaled cat
Tokiansu – The fighter's dance
Tsimo – Westernmost clan on Shiara
Tudo – A long, curved, narrow sword
Ushimo – Someone who is asexual or falls on the asexual spectrum
Yonin – Lowest class of Itagami
Yajitu – A flat iron recurved bow with slicing blades affixed to the exterior surface
Yugadai – The system of khai bonds the Rohko have used to enhance the strength of their clan
Zeeka – A slightly curved short sword with a narrow blade
Zekiyu – A short bow
Zon – A district or zone within Itagami

Ranks of Sagen sy Itagami

Highest rank listed first

Magic of Sagen sy Itagami

Soyiji Mages – Elemental Manipulation

Ishiji – Stone Mage – Ability to reform, lighten, move, and meld stone
Ryiji – Earth Mage – Affinity for plants and soil that helps these plants grow in the desert
Kyshiji – Water Mage – Ability to find, clean, and sometimes manipulate water
Myiji – Weather Mage – Extremely rare ability that can manipulate wind and detect or, sometimes, call up storms

Desosa Mages – Energy Manipulation

Dyuniji – Kinetic Mage – Ability to use their own kinetic energy, or sometimes someone else’s (for example, blows landed during battle) to augment their own strength
Zoikyo – Augmenter – Ability to boost other people's powers by funneling desosa to them
Hishingu – Healer – Ability to use the desosa to heal themselves and others
Ward Mages:
Sykina – Ability to use their own energy and the universal desosa to shield themselves from other magic
Fykina – Ability to shield themselves and others from both magic and the physical world
Kasaiji – Fire Mage – Ability to use the desosa to create sparks and/or fire
Ratoiji – Lightning Mage – Ability to use the desosa to create lightning

Okajin Mages – Enhanced Humanity

Physical Abilities:
Kyneeda – Enhanced strength, stamina, and endurance
Ryacho – Enhanced speed and ability
Kynacho – Enhanced speed, ability, strength, stamina, and endurance
Sensor Mages
Uniku – Enhancement of a single sense, usually either vision or hearing
Oraku – Enhancement of three senses: sight, smell, and hearing
Basaku – Enhancement of all senses, plus the ability to sense magic, and, rarely, the impact emotions have on the desosa

Shinte-kina Mages – Psychic Abilities

Rikinhisu – Telekinesis – Ability to move objects or people without touching them
Rusosa – Mental Manipulation – An uncommon ability to create, among other things, illusions in other people’s minds
Akuringu – Scrying – Ability to use a reflective surface to see across great distances or, rarely, a short period of time into the past or future

Whore by Willow Aster #ThursdayTeaser

Whore by Willow Aster from Bibliophile Productions on Vimeo.

Whore by Willow Aster releases December 26th. Who's ready for Lilith?
Trailer Vimeo Link:
Goodreads Link:

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 - 1992


The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 - 1992


Book Review:

Tina Brown's Vanity Fair Diaries. A glimpse into her life. A rich girl who finds a love for journalism and luckily it loved her back. This is her life story the glitz, glam and ambition.

Tina Brown was the editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. She is an award-winning writer and has met some interesting characters. This isn't a tell-all book, but she shares some interesting stories. Some good, some bad and some have a touch of humour. This is an interesting read with some great pictures. Tina Brown has had a wonderful life that others could only dream of. She moved from England to New York and into the fast lane. Her husband was an editor too and their relationship started with a scandal. This book reads like a memoir and has diary entries. In places, I would have liked a little more emotion to understand Tina's motives but I still enjoyed this book.

4 stars out of 5.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Kindle Edition £9.99 or £17 Hardcover, 448 pages

Published November 14th 2017 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Off the Ice

Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) 

Book Review:

Tate is the backup hockey goalie. He is in his junior year at high school. His dad is famous in the ice hockey world and he lives with his mum and stepdad. He's dating one of the most beautiful girls in school and is doing pretty well academically. To the outside world he has everything, but if you take a closer look he is juggling more than most can handle. He can't be the guy his girlfriend wants him to be. He can't be the hockey player his dad wants. Tate is given the chance to get off the bench and be in the net, but he needs to control his nerves. He needs to fight for what he wants and stop trying to please everyone else. He and Hayley break-up. It's tough, but he knows it's the right thing to do. No one ever said getting what you want is easy. Life's complicated and we all have to find the right path for us.

Claire is Tate's long-term crush. She's a couple of years older and one of his sister's close friends. She has returned to town because her dad is ill. She is also juggling more than any one person can manage. She's helping the family business, trying to hold it together and find a way to make more money. Her dreams were left behind at university. She wants to be a star but her family means more to her.

Little Tate Tanley is all grown up and Claire finds herself looking at him in a different light. They have been through a lot together. They became each other's rock, their constant and trusted friend. They both have a lot going on around them but their bond is strong. This is a love everlasting story, which is more than insta-love. It grows. Loves hard, but with the right person, it's worth it.

I really enjoyed this book. It had a realistic storyline with a lot of backgrounds. Both characters are perfect for each other but struggle with the rest of life.

This book contains adult content 16+ (u.k).

4.5 stars out of 5.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Kindle Edition £3.49 or £5.14 Paperback, 320 pages

Published February 28th 2017 by Entangled: TEEN 
Image result for ice skate cartoon

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Poppies for Christmas ♥ Blog Tour! ♥ Plus Interview

Poppies for Christmas 

A celebration of love without labels. It’s easy to be brave with you by my side!

Popular DJ Dexx finds himself positively smitten by the precociously pristine Poppy Paris. Too bad she’s already taken by an older boy, Declan Davies, a beautiful model with a thriving career, and a perfect family. By a dreamful stroke of chance, Dexx finds himself invited to spend Christmas at the Davies home by a gorgeous girl, granting him the opportunity to pursue the precious Poppy. But in his quest to win her over, he unlocks a world of imperfection and insecurity, where people are picked on for their disabilities, speech, appearance, and eccentricities. For Poppy and her friends, love trumps labels, and everyone deserves a brave friend to stand by their side. What gifts will Dexx discover this Christmas? Will he ultimately find true love, or will he discover something even greater?

You are invited to read a powerful story about living with autism, but not letting it define you, about being bullied, but carrying on with determination and grit, and about having dreams, but not giving up in the face of adversity. Come celebrate something beautiful with Poppies for Christmas.

Poppies for Christmas by Stacy Renée Keywell

Publication Date:  November 16, 2016
Publisher:  Soul Mate Publishing, LLC

Kindle Edition £3.99 or Free for Kindle Unlimited Readers, 265 pages

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Excerpt 1:
            “Dexx!” Denver ran across the floor to greet me. “You clean up nice.” She playfully punched me in the arm.
            She looked even more stunning than before, as if that was possible for anyone outside the Davies family. She had changed into a black, silky blouse, and some tight, sequined black leggings. A simple diamond necklace replaced the pearls. Her freshly flat-ironed hair glistened, and hung long down her dainty back.
            “Hey, beautiful,” I greeted her, throwing a bit of swagger her way, as my confidence slowly crept back in once the food charged up my system.
            Denver jumped, a delicate finch, excited by my compliment.
            “Follow me. We’re going to hang out in the family room, eat some appetizers before dinner, and the rest of the festivities.” Her eyes sparkled as she spoke. “Tonight it’s totes casual, just the few of us doing a little decorating, eating a bunch of goodies,” her voice sang out every word.
            “Sounds fantastic.”
            Denver gripped my hand. I let her guide me across the smooth floor. Dropping my fingers, she ran ahead to the entryway of the family room. I walked in and stood under the mistletoe. I took another bite of sausage when… I saw…her!
             I inhaled deep. A flake from the pastry got caught in my throat. I let out a harsh cough. My eyes watered. The crust popped out, and dangled from my lip. Through my tears, I cast my eyes on my lovely muse, the magnificent Poppy.
            Using my arm, I wiped the gooey dough off my lip, and brushed off the crumbs. How could I have forgotten about Poppy? With all of the excitement geared around Denver, my mind lapsed. It drifted away from my Poppy. But, as fast as a roller coaster screeches to a halt, my neck whiplashed. My brain bounced back to my main mission at the first sight of her.
            Poppy wore a cream sweater accented with a red bow covered in red flowers. Her pouty lips matched the red ribbon. Her thick hair was tied back in a red band, and cascaded down her shoulder.
            An extremely handsome boy gripped both of her small hands in his. He caressed her knuckles with his thumbs. As his head turned, his features dazzled. He looked like he had sprung off a polished poster. An unreal creature from a print ad which came to life in the middle of the room, an anomaly in an otherwise ordinary world. I recognized Declan right away. Flawless skin, dark hair, and a smolder that would knock most girls dead.
            My heart thumped loudly in my ears. Denver grabbed some snacks. She exchanged words with her brother, but I didn’t understand anything they said. The blood pumped through my body, banging around with too much cacophony. Denver garbled something in my ear and laughed.
            “What?” I asked.
            Noise echoed around the room. I was still too shocked by Poppy’s presence to move or make sense of her words.
            Poppy beamed at Declan. She patted his hand affectingly, and rose off a nearby chair. She moved toward me. My body stiffened. The world moved in slow motion. She crept closer and closer. She got a few steps away from me. Her smile melted into a pinched frown. Her eyes narrowed. She didn’t look as happy to see me as I was to see her. She finally reached me under the mistletoe, and whispered in my ear.
            “What are you doing here?” She sounded pissed off, opposite of her normally chipper disposition.
            “Why, I was invited, just like you,” I responded sweetly, ignoring her obvious annoyance with me.
            “Are you following me or something? I don’t get it. Why did you come here for Christmas?”
            “I thought it might be a nice surprise. So, are you surprised, Poppy? Are you surprised to see me?” I asked eagerly.      
 Excerpt 2:

            We stood toe to toe in another awkward silence. Guests moved around us, and disappeared. Time stood still.
            “Um,” Denver cleared her throat, and shook her long hair. “Let’s bundle up. Grab your coat, hat, and gloves. We are going back outside.”
            Her eyes sparkled. The departure of her cantankerous relatives, and my pep talk revived her zest.
            After layering on the warm clothing, Denver led me out the back entrance. Paper bags populated either side of a shoveled pathway. Someone had cut out decorative holes in each bag, resembling snowflakes, turning the sacks into lanterns. Candles were placed inside the bags which lit up a long trail. The flames flickered, and glowed yellow. The trail filled with a yummy, vanilla scent. The candles created a festive yet eerie atmosphere, a happy nightmare.
            Denver and I stood outside alone in the blustery winter night. The wind prickled my nose. A gust of white flakes swirled around Denver. The snow bowed down around her, honoring her as if she were an ice queen.
            At the foot of the path was a basket. Denver picked out two long objects. She dipped them into one of the glowing bags, and pulled them out with tiny flames. She handed one to me. It was a long, white candle stuck in a plastic holder to catch the wax. A red and green plastic poinsettia plant with red berries, surrounded the candle. The bouquet had that nice, waxy, nostalgic fake flower smell, reminiscent of shopping in the craft department with my mother as a child. It brought me back home to my childhood. A bout of sadness enveloped me. I momentarily missed my family, whom I left for this mysterious adventure.
            Denver playfully knocked into me with her elbow. She snapped me out of my homesick state. Guided by the flickering lights, we began walking down the snow covered path. We passed the snow hill, and entered the forested area. An animal howled from a distance. The dark trees surrounded us in the woods. The sound took Denver’s breath away, and startled her. She gulped, let out an eek, and bumped into me again.
            “Oops.” She jumped.
            We both laughed.
            “I’ll protect you.”
            “I’m not afraid,” she defended herself.
            “I am,” I said.
            We laughed again.
            We wandered to an opening near the lake. A crowd of people gathered. They all held the candlelit poinsettia bouquets. We joined them. Debbie and Dereck nodded. The crowd started singing Silent Night. The warm cheerful voices grew in volume. The carolers began to walk around the property, arm in arm. They embraced their candles to light the way.
            Denver chanted the words in a soft, dreamy tone. Her voice echoed across the lake. It took my breath away. We walked arm in arm. Silent Night turned into Winter Wonderland. At some point, I stopped singing. My mouth gaped open as I listened.
            “What?” Denver asked.
            The two of us stopped. The rest of the crowd moved on, in song, without us.
            “I guess…I guess I didn’t realize you had such a beautiful singing voice.”
            “I don’t.” Denver blushed.
            “Not true at all! You do have an amazing voice, you really do. I should have you sing for me some time so I can record it, and sample it over my mixes.”
            “Seriously? Honestly, Dexx? Do you really mean it?”
            “Yes! Why are you so surprised?”

Book Review:

Poppies for Christmas is a unique read. This is a love triangle story only with more corners. The characters are all intertwined and have their own agendas. The characters bare their emotions good/bad to the reader. The author has given the characters flaws and I got the impression the characters aren't supposed to be loveable. It reminded me of the way the characters from the TV show Girls works, but this is a totally different storyline. All the characters are quirky.

Poppy is dating Declan (The Model),
Lenn (The Artist) wants to date Dexx,
Dexx (The DJ) wishes he was dating Poppy, and
Denver (Declan's sister) is interested in Dexx.

Dexx is invited to spend Christmas with the Davies family as Denver's guest. He accepts in the hope of getting close to Poppy, but she already has a boyfriend.

Dexx's thinks Declan has it all. The gorgeous girlfriend, the lavish family home and the luxury life. When they meet Dexx has already put Declan on a high pedestal and he needs a few minutes to recover.

Denver is super excited to have her own friend over for Christmas. She feels like she lives in the shadow of her brother and wants her own story. She wants to get to know Dexx and have someone who is truly hers.

Declan has mild asperger's and a stutter. He wants to be independent. He really cares for his girlfriend and hopes she feels the same way.

Lenn is the opening number and only has a small part in this tale.

The synopsis to this book is accurate, but doesn't make sense until about 40% and I found this really confusing. I'm glad I stuck with the book. However I think something needs a little tweak.

The ending is perfect and I enjoyed this book once I got into it. 3.5 stars out of 5.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review* 

Question One: What was your inspiration behind Poppies for Christmas?

My inspiration for Poppies for Christmas is my own life. Living with Autism and its effects on a daily basis. Observing how misunderstood we all are, especially during those young adult years. These are things I see firsthand, every day, in my professional life and my home life. There are so many characters in our own lives that we are blind to. We don’t see who they really are on the inside. Inside each person is great beauty and great struggle. Each person must live with this duality on a daily basis. I wanted to bring a story to life that combined all of those conflicting elements with a sweet Christmas tale. Hopefully the great resolve topped with sugar and icing is a rewarding baked treat at the end of an emotional story.

Question Two: Who was your favourite character and why?

As much as I love Poppy, since she is the sweet, whimsical center piece of the novel, I really care deeply for Declan. I am his cheerleader. I want to see him succeed beyond anyone’s expectations. I have seen it first hand, the miracle. Some people are constantly brought down with doubt. Their abilities or disabilities questioned. If you think his character is painted with too much fantasy and fiction, come over to my house for the day. Come see how unexpected people can amaze you, and make you believe that anything is possible. He is strong, and can accomplish any goal he sets his mind on and more. With as much as he faces, Declan is very real to me, and continues to live and succeed against all odds.

Question Three: Did your book turn out the way you expected?

Yes. I always have a thousand ideas in my mind for books. Then, I am surprised which one I pick to write. I was not quite on the track to write Poppies for Christmas, but once I started, I could not stop. I wrote it for my daughters, and it turned out exactly as planned.

Question Four: Is there part of you, the author in Poppies for Christmas?

I always struggle with people who say the writer should not be part of the story, and a writer should not see themselves as a character, or write themselves in the book. For me, every character is a part of me. Love them or hate them, they are like my children, all different, all unique, but all a part of me. The book is a complete piece of fiction, but I am the book, and it is great part of my life. Although, I have never been to the Davies estate, and will probably always wonder what it is like to be a guest at their home. That part was simply a fantasy.

Question Five: All of your characters have likeable and unlikeable qualities. Was this what you were aiming for and why did you choose to make them this way.

Yes! It was exactly what I was aiming for. I enjoy it when a reader gets my intentions. It is a very emotional story, and we all have likable and unlikeable qualities. I wanted the reader to struggle with each character, even have a love hate relationship with them, only to realize we all have such qualities, and that deep down these are all beautiful people who share the same struggles. They yearn for love, self-confidence, acceptance, and understanding. That is why the book promotes love without labels, so we can look past those surface characteristics and get to know people for who they really are. I also
wanted the reader to see that people are not always who they are seem. Their public personal is different than their private and often true self. On the inside we are all the same, someone who deserves love and understanding.

Question Six: What can we expect next?

I am working on another novel. The characters are not young adults. This time I am going for more of an adult themed chick lit/ women’s lit novel. It is a story about relationships, and the yearning for good friendships. This love story is with part fantasy, and part reality. It is a topsy-turvy Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland inspired tale with whimsy, heartache, and wonder.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. :)

Thank you very much for including me. I really appreciate it! Have a happy holiday!


Author Stacy Renée Keywell lives a life of fabulous clichés. She enjoys asking rhetorical questions, and speaking redundantly. Stacy works hard at telling bad jokes, dancing oddly yet awesomely, and making up amazing new words in hopes that they will one day find their way into the dictionary. She strives to love without labels. She vows to bravely stand by the sides of those who need her, especially her two daughters. Stacy, her husband, and her children live in Michigan in a quaint house in the woods.

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