Book Review of Aspiring and Becoming by Astrid V.J.

 

Title: Aspiring (Book 1)

Author: Astrid VJ

Review by: Dani Hoots

Genre: YA Fantasy
 

Rating: 5/5

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Title: Becoming (Book 2)

Author: Astrid VJ

Review by: Dani Hoots

Genre: YA Fantasy
 

Rating: 5/5

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Back cover:

A coven of witches plots to overthrow a kingdom. One brave woman stands in their way.

At her mother’s death-bed, Elisabeth learns her mother’s illness is no accident and that her own life is in danger. Evil witches are plotting to take over the kingdom of Vendale. All alone, naive, and untrained, Elisabeth’s determination is all she has to confront her mother’s murderers as she discovers love at the same time. While Richard’s behaviour sends distracting mixed messages, Elisabeth finds herself stuck in limbo: she is treated like a child but is forced to make adult decisions. Meanwhile, the witches’ plot spins a fateful web around her.

Can Elisabeth succeed in the face of insurmountable odds?

*I am review book 1 and 2 together

Astrid did great in weaving the feeling of classic fairytales into her story for the modern reader. Elizabeth is a fun character who is relatable for anyone who has fallen in love, but then has to deal with her new powers and is given more responsibility than she ever thought possible. It definitely weaves in a few different class fairy tales from different areas of Europe, and I really liked that about it. Astrid writes very well and has a beautiful pose, although if you are looking for an action-packed story, this one might not be for you. This one is more lyrical and beautiful, versus other books in the genre.

The second book is great as it follows more of of the siblings’ tale. I really liked Edvard and his devotion to his sister, but felt we didn’t get enough of him in the last half of the book. Although the evil step-mother troupe is used a lot, it’s definitely a classic and is relatable to some people *cough-cough*. She was quite evil, but I found her believable as I have seen some pretty messed up families in my life because of step-parents. 

All in all, if you are looking for a beautiful prose that is based on fairy tales, I recommend these two books!

~Dani

 

Book Review of Embers by Sky Sommers

 

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Title: Embers

Author: Sky Sommers

Review by: Dani Hoots

Genre: YA Fantasy
 

Rating: 4/5

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Back cover:

A wolf cursed to be a horrible warning. A huntsman who hates to kill. His son loves red T-shirts and to roam the woods alone.

For failing to uphold her end of the bargain Ella’s “wicked” stepmother Grace now walks the world on four paws. Her husband Peter has become the village huntsman to save his wife from the villagers. And his son from his wife.

Will Grace remember who she is as she is drawn to the boy? Will she find her way back to Peter? And how exactly do you lift a Fairy Queen’s curse?

This adult retelling of Red Riding Hood weaves several classic fairytales together with a splash of darkness, can be read as a standalone novel and is aimed at an adult audience (heat level: mild). For those who wanted to know how Prince Charming’s parents got together, keep an eye out for a nested story of Belle and Beast.

*I received this book from the author for my honest review*

This is a very beautiful retelling or Red Riding Hood with a mix of other stories such Beauty and the Beast and Hansel and Gretel. It is told beautiful, just like classic fairy tale stories, but set as a modern tale. I loved how it was changed into a boy representing Red Riding Hood because he always liked wearing the color red, and how he accepted the wolf and wanted to befriend her. As some who tries to support wolf activism (I literally just got a ding from my email from Grand Canyon Wolves as I wrote that haha), I appreciate not making wolves be the bad guy. 

This is a continuation of a series, and I haven’t gotten a chance to read the first book, but one could easily read this as a standalone if they wanted to. The only problems I had were that sometimes it was a little hard to follow and I got confused what exactly the conflict was. All in all though, it is a great beach read, lazy summer afternoon read, or a read next to a fire (depending on where you live, it’s hot here). I recommend to anyone who enjoys fairy tales.

~Dani

 

Book Review of Welcome To Velvet, AZ by Sherry Rossman

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Title: Welcome to Velvet, AZ

Author: Sherry Rossman

Review by: Dani Hoots

Genre: YA Horror
 

Rating: 4/5

Buy Here

Back cover:

For the past eighteen years, the town of Velvet has been under a holiday curse. For them, Thanksgiving is not about turkey and family. It’s about the Nightmares. This year, the curse arrives early—a full five days before Thanksgiving—sending a menagerie of characters on a search for answers. It begins with Boone, a seventeen-year-old who was raised by an ageless eccentric; Nick, a man in the midst of a breakdown; and Toni, a girl who won’t let any man get closer than three feet. As answers unfold, suspicions arise, and the power behind the curse is a surprise no one could have imagined.

*I received this book from YA Bound Tours for my honest review*

I picked up this books since I live in AZ and apparently like to frighten myself… I don’t like straight up gory horror, but one that send chills down your spine, and this one did just that! It was eerie and felt like the old horror I read as a teen. The characters were interesting and the way the curse became a part of the town was really fascinating. I really liked how it affected or was tied to people differently. 

The only problem I had with the book is that I felt it kept repeating the same thoughts and could have been shorter. Also, all the secrecy didn’t make sense since they were fighting this every year. We were left in the dark and that didn’t make sense to me since all the towns people knew and the characters whom we were reading their POV were keeping the reader in the dark. It could have been a little more polished in that regard, but otherwise I would recommend to anyone who likes creepy horror. 

~Dani

Author bio:

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Before I found the awesomeness of writing in the YA realm I dabbled in children’s stories and short works for adults. My first YA novel became an Amazon bestseller shortly before my publisher decided to close their doors. But I forged on, exploring fantastical ideas and discovering that our world is more magical than we give it credit for. These musings inspired The Water Man, which earned a spot in the anthology Mythic Orbits 2016.

I live on the sunny-yet-piney side of Arizona with my family and sweet boxador, Bella. 

Author Links:

Website: https://sherryrossman.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4455392.Sherry_Rossman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sherry-Rossman-155850011109024

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sherryrossmanauthor

 

 

Wonderland Character Interview: Bill & Kenny

Actors I envisioned:

Kenny: David Tennant

Bill: John Barrowman

Kenny & Bill Q&A

Q1: Tell us a little bit about yourselves

K1: Oh oh! I used to be a Knave and worked for the Queen of Hearts, but then I stole some tarts, and was almost executed by Malcolm. Instead, he took me under his wing, and I got to live with him in the Dark Forest! We have been best friends ever since!

B1: I have always been a knight or soldier for the kingdoms. I pledge my loyalty to whoever is ruling. I got to know Malcolm when he was the Executioner, but we didn’t really bond until after the Dream Kingdom came to be.  

Q2: How long have you two been together?

K2: Malcolm introduced us and it was love at first sight! It was after the fall of the Red and White Kingdoms

B2: *pats Kenny’s leg* It was a few years after that before I warmed up to Kenny. It was definitely not love at first sight. Kenny is kind of… strange….

K2: *pouts* I thought you liked that about me

B2: *kisses his cheek* now I do. 

Q3: Favorite date?

K3: Stargazing under the night sky is always fun. Or maybe dinner and a play. Oh! Taking a stroll through the Flower District!

B3: Anywhere not full of people as keeping Kenny from getting distracted is quite hard.

Q4: Favorite foods?

K4: Tarts!

B4: Pasta

Q5: What are your zodiac signs?

K5: Gemini!

B5: Aries

Q6: Favorite animal?

K6: Penguin!

B6: *turns to Kenny* We don’t have penguins in Wonderland

K6: But they were so cute at the zoo! Waddling around on their tiny feet.

B6: I will have to go with a bear

K6: There aren’t bears in Wonderland either!

B6: You started it.

Q7: Favorite colors?

K7: Red!

B7: Blue

Q8: On a typical day, what would you find in your pockets?

K8: *puts hand in pocket* Let’s see, I have some mushrooms here, candy, half eaten granola bars, I cool beetle I found, a rock, my handy spork, notes… wait I was supposed to give this to Malcolm last week…

B8: I decline to answer

Q9: Do you two have any hobbies?

K9: Exploring! And gardening

B9: Sword fighting and cooking

Q10: Did you know the first Alice well?

K10: Not particularly. This Alice is a lot more friendly and likes to talk and get to know everyone

B10: She even puts up with Kenny. But he is right, she is a lot less shy and is perfect for Wonderland

Q11: What is it like being a figment of Dani’s imagination?

Both11: Scary like Malcolm

Buy TRAPPED IN WONDERLAND for only $0.99!

Wonderland Chronicles Character Interview: Melvin and Davis

Actors I envisioned:

Melvin: Lorn Macdonald

Davis: Joshua Rush

Melvin (March Hare) & Davis (Dormouse) Q&A

Q1: Tell us a little about yourselves

M1: Well, I want to start off by saying I am not a bunny, but a hare which is completely different. Let’s see… I have been a part of Wonderland as long a Malcolm has. He and I go way back and I would do anything for him.

D1: I came along a while after Melvin and Malcolm, but was able to join up with them. Then we got sent to the Dark Forest, but that wasn’t fun. We got to drink all the tea and eat all the sweets we wanted, and then some. I spent most of the time drinking calming tea…

Q2: What are your favorite colors?

M2: Orange

D2: Uhhhh blue! No wait, yellow. Final answer.

Q3: Favorite animal?

Both3: Anything but cats.

Q4: Favorite foods?

M4: Carrot cake

D4: cheese!

Q5: Zodiac sign?

M5: Sagittarius

D5: Cancer

Q6: On a typical day, what would be in both of your pockets?

M6: Let’s see… a pen, some notes, a pocket knife, a compass, and matches.

D6:…. Some cheese….

M6: That’s disgusting

Q7: What hobbies do you two have?

M7: Well, I knit, but I haven’t had time. And sew most of our outfits

Everyone by Malcolm: wait, what?

Malcolm: I needed someone to patch up our clothes in the Dark Forest

D7: *still shocked he didn’t know something about Melvin* Well, I enjoy card games and board games

M7: but he’s a sore loser

D7: take that back!

Q8: Favorite flowers?

M8: Tulip

D8: Daisy

Q9: Favorite subject in school?

M9: Math is quite interesting

D9: Anything but biology…

Q10: Favorite flavor tea Malcolm has made you?

M10: his signature blend is really nice. I also like Earl Grey

D10: I agree. I also like his sleepy tea, but always hated when he experimented on us… one tea gave me really weird dreams

M10: yeah he did that a lot in the Dark Forest

Q11: What is it like being a figment of Dani’s imagination?

Both11: Scary like Malcolm

Download the first book of Wonderland Chronicles for only $0.99!

Wonderland Chronicles Character Interview: Chase

What actor I envisioned: William Franklyn-Miller

Chase “Cheshire Cat” Q&A

Q1: Tell us a little about yourself

A1: Uh… I guess I should say I am your friendly Cheshire Cat that can teleport anywhere I have been in Wonderland and in Alice’s world. I love causing trouble, because it always makes me laugh. I also enjoy dancing with Alice at Tippy Toe Dance Studios

Q2: Favorite animal?

A2: *Grins widely* cats are the best, obviously!

Q3: Seems you also take dance with Alice. What is your favorite type of music?

A3: I really enjoy the punk rock Alice introduced me too, but I also have a love for softer music like Melanie Martinez and folk music such as SJ Tucker and Marian Call.

Q4: Since it seems Alice has introduced you to a lot of her hobbies, do you read manga or watch anime? If so, what is your favorite Alice has shown you?

A4: Yes! I love Yuri on Ice, as it really shows passion and pushing yourself to be better. I also enjoyed Fruits Basket, especially Kyo…

Q5: Favorite color?

A5: Purple. *points at hair* obviously

Q6: Do you dye your hair? Or at least able to pick what hair color you have?

A6: I can! *hair changes to green* but I usually don’t as I love purple.

Q7: What is your zodiac sign?

A7: Leo lol

Q8: Why are you so obsessed with Alice? 

A8: *blushes* because she is Alice! And she’s nice and kind and fun to hang around. What kind of question is this?

Q9: Favorite food?

A9: Tuna!

Q10: On a typical day, what can you find in your pockets?

A10: Uh… *pulls pockets inside out* nothing haha I never come prepared.

Q11: What is it like being a figment of Dani’s imagination?

A11: Fun! She is so random, just like me!

Trapped in Wonderland Excerpt

Chapter One

I was falling

Or at least I thought I was falling. It didn’t feel like gravity pulling me down and down, but more like something decided it wanted to sweep me off my feet and I sort of was floating and not going in any particular direction. It was like in ballet when one of the guys would pick me up real fast—sometimes for the routine, sometimes because they wanted to scare the crap out of me. I hated when they did that. I couldn’t decide if it was going to make me hurl, or if my stomach was in fact in my throat.

The problem was, it wasn’t stopping. At all. Not only that, but there were spiraling colors shooting out every which way in the abyss I currently found myself in. At least they were pretty though, mainly soft colors versus the neon colors that a main character would expect in such a situation. Yes, I watched a lot of anime and sci-fi. Don’t judge me. Anyway, I made a mental note to paint them later. That is, if I survived. 

Oh, I should probably introduce myself. I’m Alice Hughes, or at least that was the name I went by. My real name was Meredith, but I always went by my middle name. Can you blame me? Regardless, I’m a freshman at East Salem High School. Go Hunting Owls! At first I thought an owl was stupid for a mascot, but an owl actually attacked a bunch of people in the park in downtown Salem, Oregon. I now appreciated, and feared, owls.

You may be wondering how I got into this mess, how I was falling (and falling and falling), and why I couldn’t stop. Honestly, I had no idea and was wondering the same thing. All I could remember was running out of the school, excited as it was a pleasant autumn day as I needed to bike to ballet and practice my splits. Then Kate, my best friend since grade school, asked me if I remembered my ballet shoes from my locker (wasn’t the first time I had forgotten them). I slammed my palm to my face and hurried back into the school…

Continue reading

Wonderland Chronicles Character Interview: Malcolm

What Actor I envisioned: Ian Somerhalder

Malcolm “Mad Hatter” Q&A

Q1. Tell us a little about yourself

A1: There isn’t much to tell. I protect Wonderland and the Dream Kingdom by any means necessary and when I’m not doing that, I am drinking tea. Actually, I will drink tea while protecting Wonderland too.

Q2: What is your favorite flavor tea?

A2: I special blend I made of black teas, berries, green tea, and roses. 

Q3: Favorite color?

A3: Green and orange

Q4: What was it like living in the Dark Forest?

A4: Nothing spectacular. I got used to it. I feel at home there because no one bothers me and I can drink all the tea I want without someone judging me. 

Q5: What is in your pocket on a normal day?

A5: Tea bags, pocketknife, some loose change, more tea, and some sweets.

Q6: What is your zodiac sign?

A6: Capricorn

Q7: Favorite animal?

A7: Anything other than a cat.

Q8: Favorite era of Wonderland?

A8: Current is peaceful and nice, but I do have to admit I miss some of the fun that was trying to stay on the Queen of Hearts’ good side.

Q9: Wisest words that your mentor Howard gave you?

A9: Learn from your past and move forward. Don’t let the past slow you down in becoming who you want to be. Just because you did some things that were wrong doesn’t mean you can’t become better.

Q10: Favorite flower?

A10: Besides tea plant, I would have to say hydrangeas.

Q11: What is it like being a figment of Dani’s imagination?

A11: Feels like the Dark Forest, so kind of nice and a little like home.

Wonderland Chronicles Character Interview: Alice

What actress I envisioned: Kiernan Shipka

Meredith “Alice” Hughes Q&A

Q1. Tell us a little about yourself

A1. I am a high school student at East Salem High in Oregon. I love art and my dream is to become an artist. I also love to dance and attend Tippy Toe Dance Studio. In my spare time, I read manga and watch a lot of anime (probably too much). I have two sisters who are both very smart, but also sometimes jerks. My best friend is Kate and we have known each other since elementary school. 

Q2: What is your favorite anime and manga?

A2: Oh that is a tough one! I really enjoy Oresama Teacher, as it is a good mix of humor, drama, and I never know what is going to happen next! As for anime… Sailor Moon is always a classic, but I will have to go with Kamisama Kiss. It is just so cute!

Q3: Who is your favorite artist?

A3: That’s easy! I love Waterhouse! All of his paintings are master pieces and I hope I can paint that well one day. Wonderland has many inspiring images that I hope I can capture just like he did!

Q4: One a typical day, what might you find in your pocket?

A4: Uhhhh…. Probably Kate’s pencil, an eraser, a crumpled-up note of art ideas, and some candy. And bobby pins.

Q5: What is your zodiac sign?

A5: Taurus!

Q6: What music do you listen to?

A6: Besides Jpop, I really enjoy punk rock such as Paramore or My Chemical Romance.

Q7: Do you believe in soul mates?

A7: *blushes* what kind of question is that? I don’t know… I suppose? I think there is a lot we don’t know about the universe. For example, no one knows that Wonderland exists…

Q8: Favorite color?

A8: As an artist, I love and appreciate all colors! But if I had to pick, it would have to be a light blue or light pink.

Q9: Favorite animal?

A9: Uhhh…. *looks away from Malcolm and whispers* I love cats…

Q10: Besides Wonderland, what fantasy world would you want to visit?

A10: Hmmm I think I would pick… As long as I was a main character… Sailor Moon universe. It would be so cool to be a Sailor Scout!

Q11: What is it like being a figment of Dani’s imaginations?

A11: I am pretty sure I am just her art-loving side… Also it’s kind of dark in her mind like the Dark Forest…

Have any questions for Alice? Comment them below!

Wonderland Chronicles Author Interview

Q1: First, tell us a bit about yourself

A1: I am a self-pub author of over a dozen books. I mainly write YA fantasy that is inspired by mythology, folklore, and fairytales. I also write sci-fi and write darker, more adult sci-fi under the pen name Lyra Thorsson. I have been publishing for over seven years now. I have learned a lot in the past couple of years, started rebranding, updating covers, and learning a lot more about marketing. I am also an herbalist and sell teas, and write for HerbClips through the American Botanical Council. In my “spare” time, I draw, play piano, and study German and Japanese. 

Q2: What inspired you to write a story based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

A2: I loved reading and watching different takes on the original story, and then suddenly characters popped in my brain and wouldn’t shut up until I wrote them out. My biggest inspiration was anime and manga adaptations, as they are so beautiful and unique.

Q3: What made you have Alice be from Salem, Oregon?

A3: That is where I grew up! East Salem High School isn’t a real high school… but it pretty much is Salem Academy for layout of where it is and what they school looked like. Only one of the teachers was based on an actual teacher that taught there, but I won’t say who. He doesn’t make an appearance, but is referred to. SAC alumni will know who it is. I also used a few businesses I frequented, and anyone who was actually in it I received permission to use them. I need to remember to send them a copy of the book…

Q4: Did you base Alice on anyone you knew? Or is it yourself?

A4: I am a lot like her, or she is a lot like me, but I have found while writing that I write a part of myself in each character. Except Sebastien Wilde in my Honor Trilogy, just for the record. But for Alice, I based her on a lot of artists I know, what they have gone through growing up, and just the crap they receive on a daily bases about being an artist. This story was for them.

Q5: Are you Team Malcolm or Team Chase?

A5: I can’t say without spoiling anything! I love them both though… For different reasons. I can’t choose!

Q6: What is the writing process like for you?

A6: Well, I am a plotter. I usually have a very brief outline, like one sentence per chapter. Then I write a rough draft, which will be like ¼ the length of the book. I get feedback from a content editor on the plot to make sure it makes sense, then I add to it through a couple of drafts and send it to a different editor for new eyes. Then more editing, then my husband edits! I have to admit, though, a lot of my writing is me sitting around and letting my characters go crazy. I tell them where they need to go, but they figure out the path, not me… 

Q7: Was there anything you were going to put in the book but edited out of it?

A7: Yes! There was going to be a death, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel it would be necessary and it made me too sad. I did change that character a bit and realized that it wasn’t worth it. No, I took what that character was going to be like, added him to a different book, and killed him there to move that plot. Then I changed them a bit in Wonderland and didn’t hill them. I also figured out how to move the story a different way, so it all worked out.

Q8: What is your writer Kryptonite?

A8: I need to write better descriptions… I am getting better at it. Also word count… I’m always short of what I want, but I also like reading shorter fiction so I can read more books, so I tell myself my books are for them.

Q9: Is there anything we should be looking forward to in regard to Wonderland?

A9: Yes! The amazing VA Deneen Melody is working on the audiobook as we speak! You will get to see sneak peaks later this week or next week!

Q10: Last question! What are you working on next?

A10: So much stuff! First I am finishing up my Last of the Gargoyles Trilogy, my Honor Trilogy (under Lyra Thorsson), and Queen of the Underworld (sequel to Daughter of Hades). After that, I am thinking about an academy series that has to do with the occult and takes place in Port Townsend, WA. I don’t have too much done for that yet, but it’s been in the back of my head for a while! Be sure to follow me and subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date!