Sinbad the Sailor sets out over the sea to retrieve his fortune with all his remaining goods on board. They alight on a beautiful island – but no it is a huge whale who, awakened by their shouts, tosses Sinbad painfully into the sea. Magically rescued he is befriended by a great king, and his ship, with crew and full cargo wondrously returns. Sinbad returns to his beloved Baghdad, now a rich man – till the next voyage! A tale from the Arabian Nights, a collection of adventures parallel to Homer’s Odyssey. Like your grandmother told you.
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Six years ago, Melinda was orphaned. Since that day, her life with her relatives hasn’t been the easiest. She is more of an employee to them than she is a beloved member of their family. Of fairy heritage herself, Melinda is quite the enigma to her less-than-caring relatives. When she is presented the opportunity to reunite with the single remaining person from her childhood, only one thing stands in her way–but it’s the biggest barrier she could ever dream to have to fight. To be remembered is divine, but to be forgotten is breaking her lonely heart.
Dance of Hearts: A Cinderella Retelling, by Byrd Nash, is a completely new and wonderful retelling of the classic fairy tale. Of all the variations offered over the years, this one stands out for its time period, the plot twist given its male characters, and the intense emotion exhibited by main character, Melinda. The added charm of the fairy world makes Nash’s tale one to remember.
One of the most striking aspects of Nash’s rendition of Cinderella is the strength given Melinda. She is fierce in almost every way possible. Though her status is perceived to be lowly and her position is not respected by her family and most around her, Melinda speaks her mind, stands up for herself and others, and does not shy away from questioning anything she finds suspicious.
I am giving Dance of Hearts: A Cinderella Retelling, by Byrd Nash, an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. This beautifully penned version of a Cinderella story is a quick read, offers readers a totally new take on the age-old story, and will appeal to readers across genres. The unique ending/epilogue truly set this story apart from all other fairy tale remakes.
Pages: 70 | ASIN: B08F38P57X
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A lone wolf waits outside the house the night Fawna Belle Darling is born. He knows what her mother, Isleen already understands–Fawna is the granny witch. In her home in Purgatory Bend, Wyoming, young Fawna is blessed with a mother who teaches her the ways of their world. As Fawna grows and matures, it becomes increasingly obvious that Isleen was correct–her daughter is special. When Patsy wanders into her life, she is faced with the realization that he may not be who he thinks he is, but Fawna knows. She, true to her nature, must be the one to tell him and to help him understand.
Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch, by Grendolyn Peach Soleil, is the first book in a series. The story centers around Fawna, who is a granny witch. Her life in the Midwest in the mid 1800’s in nothing short of fascinating. From her birth in the 1830’s to her experiences as everyone’s go-to for potions, advice, and healing, Fawna is an integral part of her community.
One of the most striking aspects of her life as a granny witch is her responsibility to ghosts, or vespers. Throughout her life, Fawna is able to see them for what they are when no one around her is able or aware. Her gentleness when addressing Patsy and her ability to help him grasp the reality of his situation is enthralling. Soleil’s writing is riveting and the entire storyline surrounding the two characters is gripping.
One of the parallel storylines caught my attention and stuck with me long after finishing the book. Pearl, desperate not just for love but also for a family approaches Fawna for help. I was truly touched by the way Fawna went about making a potion for her and giving her hope for her future. Soleil’s writing is much more than a fantasy–it’s a story of love and faith.
Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch is a short read, but it is packed cover to cover with an engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and touching events steeped in fantasy with a bit of romance thrown in. I look forward to many more installments and new adventures involving the granny witch and those in her small, tucked away Wyoming town. Fawna Belle Darling is a unique character and one to follow.
Pages: 125 | ASIN: B08RGG5JQ3
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Charlotte’s Snowman, by Lainey Dee, is an exciting and touching children’s story of a little girl that builds a snowman for Winter. She expects her snowman to be normal when suddenly, he starts talking! He begins to complain of the cold and she does her best to keep him warm. But, the next morning, Charlotte finds a surprise that she never expected.
Charlotte’s Snowman has an adorable storyline that is easy for children to follow. Charlotte is an incredibly empathetic and generous young girl. She’s a perfect role model for anyone to follow, with a great fashion sense too. This is a great story for parents to read with their children, as it provides topics of conversation on helping others and being empathetic. The art is very detailed with a soft color palette that shows emotion and movement well. The illustrations allow the reader to better understand how Charlotte and the snowman feel throughout the whole book. It was an art style that was reminiscent of Charlie Brown and I truly enjoyed it.
Charlotte’s Snowman is a cute and imaginative story perfect for children and parents to read together during the holidays. It teaches a valuable lesson with an easy to follow storyline along with cute artwork.
Pages: 25 | ASIN: B08P1P97F1
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Milli Mermaid’s PEARL OF WISDOM is a fun children’s book about a girl who goes on an undersea adventure and learns a valuable lesson. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?
I lived by the beach when I was a very young girl, and was mesmerised by the mysteries of the ocean.
I dreamed of being a mermaid, hoping for the day a mermaid’s tail would magically appear in place of my legs!
It was such a FUN fantasy, that was perpetuated by any book, movie, or tv show I saw on the subject… This inspired me to create my own Mermaid story…
I enjoyed the moral at the heart of this story. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
Some of the themes explored in my book include: Empowerment, Individuality, Bravery, and Friendship… just to name a few.
What was the funnest scene for you to draw?
That is a really hard question to answer. Each and every page was so much fun to draw!
I loved drawing every colourful scene, with Milli Mermaid, Sammi Seahorse, and the colourful fish, and shells. I also really had fun drawing the scary sea creature scene…
You may have noticed, I drew everything by hand, then experimented with mixed media, drawing the bubbles and pearl on the computer, just for fun… I realise now, I can’t say for sure which scene was the most fun to draw, because they were all so much fun to draw!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I don’t want to give too much away just yet, however, I can tell you the next book is part of the “Milli’s Musings” series, and is in the process of being written and drawn. It will be out this year, in 2021!
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Milli Mermaid’s Pearl of Wisdom by Amelia Gleeson, is a charming and fun filled children’s story about a young girl, named Milli, who finally gets to be a mermaid. She wakes up in the ocean to find that she is a mermaid. With her seahorse friend Sammie by her side, she is able to explore the ocean and learn a valuable lesson along the way.
Author Amelia Gleeson has written an enchanting kids picture book. The hand drawn art provides a unique touch that I enjoyed and added to the overall charm of the book, but I felt that the mixing of art style made things feel a bit inconsistent. The story follows Milli as she learns to love who she is. This is a valuable lesson to teach young kids and this book makes it easy to approach that topic in a fun and gentle way. This is a great conversation starter for parents and a good topic of discussion for teachers. The book includes simple rhymes that move the story along and keeps the text engaging.
Milli Mermaid’s Pearl of Wisdom is a fascinating kids book with an amazing message. I think children will be able to relate to the hand drawn art, and there is plenty of fish and other interesting things on the page for children to point out, giving this book an interactive element. This is a good book for parents and children to read together.
Pages: 43 | ASIN: B08P4X9Y37
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Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge is the children’s edition to your previous award winning book. What motivated you to turn your story into a book for kids?
Hello! Thank you so much for inviting me here. To answer, the adult edition of the book had several themes and lessons and was too complicated for younger children, but I felt children could learn a valuable lesson from a children’s edition. I selected one of the major themes of the book that children understand and can relate with readily.
What were some parts of the story you absolutely had to keep when condensing this for kids?
1) Kindness to others. Something we ALL can do that can change the world, in my opinion. 2) The lesson that WE continue the goodness that is in this world that we inherit from those who came before us. Life goes on and so must also the doing of good deeds from generation to generation. Of course, all the main characters are there: Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge, Becky, and Jimmy!
The art in this book is stunning. What was the art collaboration process like with Voxillustrations?
Voxillustrations was such a great partner in capturing the essence of each page of story text in their art! I gave them detailed ideas of what I was looking for such as character actions, expressions, backgrounds, and the little details of Victorian life, and they worked hard to get each illustration just right for the story. This art style they call ‘Fantasy’. Love them!
What part of the classic Charles Dickens story speaks to you the most?
That we are all redeemable, no matter what the situation we are in, how hopeless things feel, or how far down we are. Thank you for letting me speak with our readers! It is such an honor!
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The Good Witch of the South brings a new evil witch to the land of Oz that is amassing an army to overthrow the Head of Oz. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
TC – The inspiration for the story came from the dust jacket cover art. I had just finished my memoir, Roads Over Brown County, which took me two years to write, and I was playing around with a fairy design and thought it would be a fantastic image for a book cover. I keep thinking how nice a fantasy book cover it would make but didn’t know what kind of story it should be, and I didn’t have a title. For some unknown reason, while I was working on the cover art, I was also reading Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz again.
After I added tattoos on the fairy’s arm and some glowing orbs behind her, it came to me. I knew exactly who this fairy witch was. It made perfect sense; she was a good fairy witch, Glinda’s daughter, the Good Witch of the South. I instantly knew what I wanted to write.
For reasons I can’t explain, the first chapter I wrote in my journal was the epilogue. Everything else about the plot instantly fell into place.
What were some ideas that you wanted to keep from the classic Wizard of Oz and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?
TC – That’s a good question. I decided to combine aspects from Baum’s original book and the 1939 MGM movie with Judy Garland. Not many realize that in Baum’s books, Glinda was the Good Witch of the South, or also known as Glinda the Good, and not the Good Witch of the North. For fun, I decided to give Glinda the last name Glinda Goodwitch. I also decided to have the main characters from Baun’s book and the movie, The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion play a part in my book. I also thought it would be fun to add subtle echoes from the movie within my book.
One of my favorite moments in the film is at the end when Dorothy is back home in her own bed, and she is telling her family and friends about Oz. I wanted to capture this iconic moment in the book.
So when the main character, Samantha Goodwitch, Glinda’s daughter, is recuperating from a terrible injury from fighting the vicious red alpha dragon. She wakes up in an unfamiliar bed and looks up at her companions, and tells them about a dream she’d been having. She points a trembling finger at each one and says, “You, and you, and you . . . . . and you were there.” I also had the new Wicked Witch taunt her victims as she did in the movie, using some of the barbs the Wicked Witch of the West used. All of these small touches made the story special and fun for me when I was writing. It made me smile.
I added one piece of imagery at the beginning of the book when Sam is crouched on the roof of the castle looking out across the land of Oz that has been with me since I was a child. I am almost sure it started from the very first time I watched the movie. It happens when the Munchkins escort Dorothy to the center of Munchkin City to show her the Yellow Brick Road. Where the Yellow Brick Road spirals out from the center of the city, there is another spiraling brick road, but the bricks are red. That always fascinated me, and I have ever wondered what kind of adventures one would find following the Red Brick Road. To this day, when I watch the movie, I whisper, “Dorothy, take the Red Brick Road.”
Sam is an intriguing character that I enjoyed watching develop. What were some obstacles you felt were important to the characters development?
Mainly believing in herself and proving herself to her mother, to her sister, and to everyone she loved. Every time I start a new book project, I struggle with it, from my children’s picture books to my novels – especially my novels. So, I say to everyone, “Believe!”
Do you plan to write other stories within the land of Oz?
When I first started writing this Ozarian tale, I said to myself, “What am I think writing a book based on a classic like Oz!” Doing another book? Well, I will tell you this: I have already written an outline. But to be honest, the two years it took me to write The Good Witch of the South knocked the breath out of me. I am not sure I have it in me to write another adventure in the Land of Oz. But one never knows.
I have to admit. Now that this Good Witch story is finished, I find myself genuinely missing my daily visits to the Oz.
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