Back Roads Kingdom Book Review

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Summary according to Barnes & Noble: Penny Lazarus has spent her entire life wishing she could escape from the real world. Through it all, she had exactly one friend – her twin sister, Dana – and now Dana’s dead, drowned in the distant Pacific under mysterious circumstances. But she left something behind, meant only for her sister’s eyes: a cryptic document that sends Penny off to the wilds of Appalachia…and then straight off I-64 and into a madcap parallel universe. Here, in the alternate America known as the Back Roads, every individual’s deepest desire emerges as a powerful supernatural ability. In Penny’s case, that means she’s a Veil, capable of turning herself invisible, intangible, ghost-like. Stranger yet, this is a place Dana somehow knew about. Now Penny must fight her way across a nightmare landscape of cyborg bikers, man-eating mosquitoes, snake-handling zealots and warring Cherokee demigods in search of the truth. What she hoped to find were the answers behind her sister’s death. But what awaits her at the end of the road is something even bigger – the dark secret of her own world-shattering destiny.

When I started this book by Christian O’Neill; I admit I expected good fighting evil in a magical world with a sweet and innocent Snow White protagonist. Penny Lazarus, is the furthest from Snow White you can get…and you have to love her for it. A foul mouthed, depressed, low self-esteem lead character, who does face evil; but mostly the evil within herself.  She is realistic and packs a punch figuratively and literally.

 O’Neill gives us a twist of Appalachian folklore which ties in American storytelling and song; which seems to run in most of his character’s veins. With the Appalachian tradition and folklore considered in this novel, we learn more about the  mysterious back roads through the people within it. They share various stories and myths that have surrounded them for years and as Sly ( a fox-man who has certainly earned his name) put at one point in the book, the “passage of time plays all sorts of funny tricks,” referring to how stories tend to change from person to person as they’re told. His characters seemed to jump off the pages with their witty dialogue and each of those characters had a voice all their own with humorous and brilliant accent writing by O’Neill.  You can also tell that the writer’s style has been influenced by his experience in the theater/film world with even a few sections of the story written as a script.

At first I thought I was going to be annoyed by this pessimist of a lead, but O’Neill made sure that Penny would blossom throughout the story to keep his readers on their toes. This blossoming is with the help of various supportive characters, but none more so than Alana, who is a bit of a complex herself, having trouble with changing into a wolf and all; and Sly, who can turn into a fox, who will keep you laughing with his trickery. They too find themselves changing as they journey together through what can only be described as the backwoods version of a fairytale.

A word of caution: This story is much darker than I would have thought it to be. A lot of death and disturbing occurrences that make me glad I haven’t stumbled into this world by accident. I certainly wouldn’t want to be around the cyborg bikers that sell slaves like livestock. Yikes! So if you weren’t a fan of Game of Thrones or Hunger Games…then get over it and read this book anyway!

All in all it was definitely something different, which is refreshing from the overhaul of fairytale reboots going on. Christian O’Neill will be continuing the series and you can follow his work if you click on the links below.

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Christian O’Neill is a writer/director/other living in New York City with his wife Leah, a librarian who is also the Empress of Desserts, she says, because of something called “Swarm,” and his 5-year old son Asher, who knows one karate move and uses it often, regardless of what mood he’s in. He studied ancient history at Providence College in the hopes of becoming actual Indiana Jones, and then went on to earn master’s degrees in Theater Education from Emerson College and Directing from Brooklyn College. He now knows more about theater than Indiana Jones did. He works by day as a social worker in the NYC foster care system, because he saw Les Miserables when he was 14 and it stuck with him. BACK ROADS KINGDOM, his first novel, is the culmination of decades of telling people that he would someday write a novel. For so, so much more information, please visit www.christianoneill.com.

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Happy reading dreamers!

Pearseus: Rise Of The Prince Book Review

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Synopsis from amazon.com:

The handful of humans that crash-landed on Pearseus three hundred years ago have by now colonized a large part of the planet, rebuilding their civilization from scratch. In the process, they have created a dystopia for themselves, splitting into three competing factions: the Capital, the Loyalists and the Democracies, all embroiled in endless intrigue and constant warfare.

An uneasy truce between the three parties still holds – barely. While man turns against man, the First, Pearseus’ indigenous people, wage their own war against a shadowy enemy; an ancient conflict that threatens to engulf and destroy all of humanity.

Following an unspeakable crime, the men and women of Pearseus struggle to live and love as their world crumbles all around them. But can love be found in the ruins of humanity’s civilization?

Science fiction isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I was intrigued by the description of Nicholas C. Rossis’s first in the Pearseus Trilogy.  With Game of Throne’s new season about to start I thought it would be the perfect time to share my thoughts on this book.

Why do I mention Game of Thrones? Well, because the characters in this book are just as amazing to follow. Each individual has their own voice and is set apart by their own journey, but just like Game of Thrones they all intertwine with one another at some point. I always find that fascinating when an author can perform that task with ease. The story itself can be a bit dark as these different groups battle against the other and even themselves to try and create the society they believe is best. The way they go about doing this can be shocking and certainly keep the reader in suspense on what they’ll attempt next.

I was impressed by Rossis’s knowledge on war strategy, politics, and even his understanding of various forms of relationships between people of different religions, atmosphere, and class. The world in which his characters surround themselves is believable and fun to explore along side its population.

The characters are certainly the best part of this book! The women were feisty, fierce, and most importantly not dull at any point. I appreciated the author making sure that his female characters though not all warriors or even on the good side, had some kind of strength mentally or physically. The men also varied in characteristics. You have a range of almost neanderthal, to war hero, to meek servant with a hidden strength. It was the fact that these characters had that unique voice that I never got confused who was who and kept my fingers turning the pages.

Another thing that shows strength in Rossis’s writing is that the characters are flawed in some way as well. I love this because it means there will be growth for the character or it could be their downfall. I enjoy books where I’m not sure how a character will end up because I’m not certain whether they’ll try to change, refuse to change, or even admit they are flawed. Rossis made his characters believable and relatable to individuals today.

I have to say…for not being a fan of science fiction I really did enjoy this book. I’m a little late to the game as he’s continued the series and has written more well reviewed stories. Now that I’m hooked, I look forward to catching up.

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I highly recommend this book to those who are Game of Throne fans, science fiction fans, or even curious bloggers like me.

You can find Nicholas on a number of social media, including his blog: http://nicholasrossis.me.

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A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes – My Cinderella Epiphany

CinderellaSlipperA Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes is one of my favorite Disney songs and Cinderella is certainly a classic in my book. I admit though, the tale itself was never my favorite. A girl is bullied and mistreated by her step family and then she falls in love with a man in one day. Sure it worked out for her with the guy being a prince and all, but still…she moved awfully fast. As a young woman I scoff and say, “I won’t wait for prince charming to come along or fall in love in one day. It’s not realistic.” However, with this latest version of the fairy tale produced by Disney…I see what Cinderella truly represents. It’s not just magic, a fancy prince finding her with a shoe, or dumb luck. It’s so much more…

[ SPOILER ALERT!!!]

Continue reading A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes – My Cinderella Epiphany

Laura Goodings Is Having An Etsy Sale! Your Favorite Characters Are Waiting!!

Hello dreamers and believers! I am so excited to share this with you.

Laura Goodings, the artist who helped me create Dandy is having an Etsy sale where everything is 30% off till March 16th!

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This Aussie girl never ceases to amaze me with her artistic talents. Right now she has buttons, stickers, and prints with your favorite animated characters: Nintendo princesses, Adventure Time, Sailor Moon, DC comic characters, pretty girly girls, and even adorable paper toy cats and bunnies. Check them out in the following post and there are so many more on her Etsy site: CLICK to have your mind blown!
Continue reading Laura Goodings Is Having An Etsy Sale! Your Favorite Characters Are Waiting!!

Little Girl + A Wave = An Explosion of Cuteness

Here’s something you should know about me…I have never met a stranger. When I was a kid I would enter a restaurant and go to tables announcing that, “My name is Kelly Earls!” To the horror of my mother of course, lol. I loved making new friends. The video you are about to see is just…well I’ll let you see for yourself.

Who wouldn’t wave and smile at this little cutie? It just made my morning and I hope it made yours!

Update about my life: I actually have spoken to an author about reviewing his book, so I will hopefully have that review for you soon. It looks good and when I post the review I will be including links to his site as well. Take care dreamers! *waves* BYE!