Author Interview w/ J.M. Sullivan + Giveaway [Closed]

What’s up people?

I had the honor of interviewing J.M. Sullivan about her debut novel AND I’ve added a giveaway because I loved her book, and a lot of you might as well!


About the Author

JM Sullivan - small.jpg

J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.

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Q. A good place to start is by telling us a bit about your debut novel, Alice: the Wanderland Chronicles

Alice Cover Edit.jpg

ALICE is a YA Dark Fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland… with an undead twist. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Alice Carroll as she leaves the safety of the Sector to find an antidote to save her sister from becoming one of the momerath. Along the way, she enlists the help of the charming but flighty Chess, his friend Bug, and even the Red Queen. But Wanderland is a long way from home, and as Alice is quickly learning, momerath may not be her biggest threat. Will she overcome and save her sister? You’ll have to read to find out!


Q. Are you planning more than one book with Alice, and if so, how many?

The first part of this question is easy to answer. Absolutely! I am actually working on drafting the sequel to Alice right now. The second part of your question is a little trickier. Originally, when I started thinking about Alice, my idea was to follow Carroll’s set up and do a two-part story to retell Wonderland and then Through the Looking Glass (in the interest of staying true to the story). But as I’ve started drafting and Wanderland has taken on a life of its own, it is looking like this version of Alice could turn into a trilogy. I have been very conflicted about this WHOLE thing, so for now, I’m just going to follow the story and see where it takes me!

 


Q. The characters from Alice in Wonderland are very well-known and beloved. Were you nervous about recreating them?

ABSOLUTELY. One of the most nerve-wracking elements of writing retellings is knowing that you are working with stories that people have grown up on. It adds an extra sense of responsibility, I think, because you want to stay true to the original while at the same time creating something completely unique. It’s one of the reasons I worked so hard to stay true to Carroll’s original story as I could. Not in the sense of following the same storyline, but I wanted to work in as many character and world references as I could. So, while Wanderland is definitely not Wonderland, I think (and hope!) the twists and turns put in will make ALICE a story that Carroll’s fans will enjoy.


Q. Are there any other stories that inspired this book, besides Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

I wouldn’t say stories, but as I was writing the momerath scenes I definitely referenced some of my favorite zombie films for research. Resident Evil, World War Z, and I Am Legend all got some extra playing time during the drafting period! 😉

 


Q. What is one of your favorite books\authors? (You may choose more than one of you must)

Oh gosh, the list could go on and on, but I am going to stick to just one and choose Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It was the first book I got to pick out for myself at the bookstore and also my first introduction to retellings. It is a magical spin on the Cinderella story, and the way Levine intertwines the classic but creates something completely new is absolute perfection. Author Goals for sure!


Q. Have you read any other Wonderland retellings? Which one was your favorite?

So many retellings. I’ve enjoyed all of them. It’s so interesting to see what another author picks up on and includes in their reimagined version. I think if I had to pick the one I enjoyed the most was Heartless, by Marissa Meyer. Although it isn’t technically centered on Alice, I loved how she built Wonderland into her story on Cath’s rise to becoming the Red Queen. The story was fun, her characters were incredible, and her references were brilliant. But, after reading The Lunar Chronicles, I didn’t expect any less!


Q. If you had to choose a career besides writing, what would it be?

Teaching! In fact, that’s what I’m doing now. While writing is my passion, I love being able to work with my middle schoolers every day. They are such a fun group and they absolutely keep me on my toes! Guess it’s probably part of the reason I love the YA genre so much! 😀


Q. Do you listen to music when you write, and which song would you say puts you in the mood for writing\reading The Wanderland Chronicles?

Yes! I have to have music playing in the background while I write or I absolutely cannot focus. For each WIP I have, I make a different playlist. Alice’s playlist was filled with more angsty music to help get the feel for the darker world I was creating. But if I had to give specifics, I’d say Castle by Halsey and Mad Hatter by Melanie Martinez had the highest play counts of all the tracks.


Q. Almost finished! Any last advice for people wanting to write their own retellings?

I think this advice has more to do with personal taste, but if you are going to do a retelling, make sure it’s a true retelling. To me, using a popular story to snag readers but then only ‘delivering’ by using a character name is like cheating on a test. Remember, the people who read retellings are doing it because they love the story. I’m not saying you have to make every single character exactly the same or that you must throw every single iconic quote into your book. If you do that, it will be hard to make the story your own. But, as you’re building your world, think about your readers. Don’t disappoint by making empty promises, use the magic to weave something completely brilliant.


Giveaway!

I’m giving away a brand-new Ebook copy of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles! This giveaway is open to everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alice Cover Edit.jpgA little bit more about the book…

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.


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marrillcollins@gmail.com

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Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles | Review

Alice Cover EditTitle: Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles (#1)

Author: J.M. Sullivan

Cover Rating: 4\5

Book Depository: Alice

Amazon: Alice

Synopsis: Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.


★ ★ ★ ★

I was sent this book for review by Pen Name Publishing, so thank you for sending it my way.

 

 

First things first – this is not a cutsie Alice retelling. The best way to describe it is Zombies + Wonderland + Thriller = Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles. It is bloody, and bit graphic (in my opinion –  I don’t read a lot of zombie books) so don’t expect anything light.

 

 

The writing was easy to follow, and totally worked for the story. The plot worked with the writing, and it differed from Alice in Wonderland, but you could still see points that were reminiscent of the original.

 

 

I liked Alice as a main character! At times I felt like she made somewhat anti-instinct decisions. If that makes sense.

One minute, she would be backing away from something dangerous, and then two sentence later she’s right up in it’s face again. That seemed like a stupid decision, especially if you’re supposed to have survival\apocalypse instincts.

Otherwise, I liked her a lot. She was very sarcastic and funny to me!

 

 

The side characters were the absolute best! I think I like Chess the most, but I really cannot decide.

I liked Sullivan’s take on the Queen of Hearts – she’s was annoying, as she should be, and perfectly manipulative.

There were multiple points where I just wanted to strangle her, and that’s exactly what should happen.

 

 

I couldn’t believe where it left off! I was literally skimming the pages because I was reading so fast, and then I see:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

…Excuse me? You cannot just leave me like that!

It crushed me so much that book two is already on my TBR. I definitely suggest it to all the Wonderland fans out there!


–I have an interview with the author AND a giveaway coming out later today! So stay tuned!


Contact: marrillcollins@gmail.com

A Court of Mist and Fury | Review

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Cover Rating: 4.5\5

Buy

Amazon: ACOMAF

Book Depository: ACOMAF

Synopsis: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court-but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms-and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future-and the future of a world torn apart.


★ ★ ★ ★.5

I loved this book so much!
Feyre didn’t make stupid decisions, and she was so much more enjoyable. The character progression was incredible.

 

The characters were so amazing, and the Inner Circle was so much fun! I love these characters more than ALL of the ones from ACOTAR.

 

 

You can see the difference in Feyre’s relationship with Tamlin and her relationship with Rhysand. Rhysand and Feyre have a more open and supportive relationship, and they started as friends.

Feyre is much more independent, which helped with her character as well. And Rhysand is a very respectful love interest.

 

 

The world was my favorite part! I fell in love with it and it even motivated me to try to read Throne of Glass, which I didn’t think I’d ever do.

 

 

Honestly, I can’t say a lot about this book (because it’s a sequel), but I really loved it. Even if you hated the first book, you will like this second book.

 

 

Overall Thoughts

If you decide to read this series, you need to read until the second book. It completely changed from the first, and is so worth it.


marrillcollins@gmail.com

Antisocial | Review

Title: Antisocial

Author: Jillian Blake

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Contemporary

Format: Ebook received via Netgalley


 

Synopsis

Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic.

But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public.

Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives:


☆ ☆

 

I really encourage you to read until the end. I have conflicting feelings.

 

Antisocial contained a wonderful diverse cast, with some great side characters. This book focuses on Anna Soler – a teenager who has social anxiety disorder (SAD).

I liked Anna in general, but her choices at the beginning and me mad. It seemed like she was using anxiety as an excuse to get drunk, and the whole book seemed to promote underage drinking. Which, TBH, is not okay.

In fact, she talks about her first time getting drunk – when she was 14. I’m fourteen. What kind of message is that?

Even the parents drank – almost every scene with them involved some sort of alcohol.

 

Moving on to the relationships. I thought that the friend relationships were on-point. There is some great friend dynamics and really relatable side characters.

However, I thought the romantic relationships were a bit…dramatic. Basically, a relationship is more than just sex, and I would have loved to see more of the actual bonds. I felt like I was reading one of the mass market paperbacks in the back of the book store.

 

The writing was quick, and made it a lot easier to get through parts I didn’t like.

 

The ending…surprised me. I thought I would’ve hated it, but it actually spread some really good messages on being kind to others, and not to judge too quickly. And on the reality of how we use the internet.

 

A bit of a weird, confusing, unrealistic ending. I skimmed most of it.

 

 

Overall Thoughts

I would put a trigger warning on this book.

Honestly, there are better books for you to read. Not worth it.


Contact: marrillcollins@gmail.com

Dystopian Writing Playlist

You write what you read.

____

That is my writing philosophy. And it applies to music too.

You can’t write a contemporary book while listening to some hard-core battle music. It just won’t work.

And so I’ve taken it upon myself to make some playlists for specific genres and scenes that just might help. Maybe. Hopefully.

____

If I forgot any songs, let me know! I may just make a part two…


Centuries – Fall Out Boy


Heathens – Twenty One Pilots


Ready Aim Fire – Imagine Dragons


Believer – Imagine Dragons 


Pompeii – Bastille


Immortals – Fall Out Boy


Flares – The Script