Blog & Author Kidnapped? Masquerade Tour: Review of Toonopolis & Interview with Author

Author Jeremy Rodden: Whereabouts unknown.

His message asking for our help: “Someone has hijacked my blog as part of the Indie Book Collective’s Masquerade blog tour!  Not only has the fiend kidnapped me, but they also stole my shtick in talking about cartoons!

Read the post and try to figure out which of the 12 authors stole my blog for the day.  If you comment on the post, I will give you a free eCopy of Toonopolis: Gemini, my Kindle bestselling cartoon novel!

Also, you’ll be entered into a drawing for my prize pack called “Cartoons Through The Years,” including a Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD, Animaniacs Volume 1 DVD, and an autographed hardcover copy of Toonopolis: Gemini.

Come help me pull the mask off this villain.  If you are a meddling kid, all the better!”

Bookwormcastlegirl: I am one of the sponsors for the Masquerade Blog Tour! Check out the site here for more info!

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Review of Toonopolis by Jeremy Rodden

It has the fantastical quirkiness of Alice in Wonderland, the uniqueness of Willy Wonka, the magic of Never Never Land, along with a sprinkle of the darkness/gothic wonder from Tim Burton and the other-worldness of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and then some. But at the same time it is an unparalled universe (or parallel universe) Tooniverse that is all its own.

You want to know what is going on with this character as he wakes up and finds himself in this new alternate reality, feeling quite disoriented and a bit like he fell down the strangest rabbit hole known to man (or cartoon, for this matter).  The main character, who christens himself Gemini, (having to pull a name from the air, the Mad Hatter’s hat,  his scattered and lost memories) really pulls you in as you discover this new world he is thrown into. It is a fantasy type world where everyday is Saturday morning, the popular time for nonstop cartoons. He becomes a cartoon version of himself, so to speak, although he is actually dubbed an Outsider. Lucky for him, this means he has even more power than the toons around him do.

You won’t find Bugs Bunny here or The Famous Mouse (as Gemini sadly discovers), but you will find many loveable characters as you embark with Gemini on this adventure. He at first views it as a fun experiment type virtual world (which is partly true) but then he starts to see the bigger picture. He realizes that they are real, just like him and they do feel courage, fear, pain, love, loss and other emotions.

Science fiction and fantasy fans are not the only ones who will love the world of Toonopolis, as it will pull in anyone who loves an adventure (read:epic) and it works really well to remind you of that childhood joy you found in a really good story. Toonopolis has it all: Great references to some of your favorite cartoons, childhood stories and movies that you loved as well as amusing jokes about the current trends in books and what people like to read about (Bloodthirsty vamps? Anime? Superheroes and annoying sidekicks? It’s all here!)

*Insert Distracting Sidenote: There is even some (hidden) love for fans of a certain video game (which is my all time favorite one now that you mention it) that involves a talking frog, time travel, a silent type as the leading character and a tomboy princess, as well as a couple magical worlds of its own- are you a fan? Please comment by following the link in the parentheses, glad you found me!) END DISTRACTING SIDENOTE  (For New Game+ option click here – for real!) *

Back to the world of Toonoplis, you will find yourself smiling and laughing along with the characters. In the cartoon world, there is a fun mix of tongue in cheek humor, puns, parodies,  and plays on words.

The back story is also very enthralling to follow, as you get an inside look at this “experiment”- i.e, how  and why Gemini  was thrown into this world and what he does/doesn’t remember. This could be very dangerous for him and adds a serious undertone to his adventures that shows there is more at stake than meets the eye and makes the read even more into one of those books that you just can’t put down.

This is a great place to visit and you will find yourself wanting to return to this world to hear more about the character’s adventures and this very unique creation that is the Tooniverse! Luckily for you too, as there will be more to come in the Toonopolis Files. Keep reading for more juicy info about the Tooniverse below and to find out more about the kidnapped author!

Toonopolis: Interview Questions

Bookwormcastlegirl: Thank you for joining me for this interview! I know you have been kidnapped as part of the Masquerade Blog Tour, so I am glad that I was able to get this clandestine interview without your kidnapper finding out… 😉 I know you don’t have a lot of time before your kidnapper/blog hijacker notices, so here goes:

What was your goal in writing Toonopolis?

Jeremy:  I had two goals. The first goal was to get the ideas out of my head that have been floating around since I was in high school. Toonopolis was a world created for an online fiction game when I was a senior in high school and it never left. Second was just to tell a fun story that had humor in it. I find so many stories in my favorite genre (fantasy) tend to have ulterior motives and underlying messages (like Narnia being one long Christian allegory or His Dark Materials heavily espousing atheist ideology). More of them need to just be what they’re supposed to be: fantastic stories for entertainment purposes.

Bookwormcastlegirl:  Toonopolis is a unique world all its own. I know you are a devoted reader as I am and have mentioned Alice in Wonderland as the type of fantastical magnetism you wish your own created world to have, among other books as your inspirations. Where do you get your inspiration from for this world you have created? Related to this, what are your favorite childhood stories and/or cartoons?

Jeremy: A lot of my inspiration comes from some of my other favorite childhood stories such as The Wizard of Oz and The NeverEnding Story as well as movies such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Pagemaster. My favorite cartoons as a kid were Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. There is a reason that many people pick up the connection to the parody-style humor of these shows, as they were the ones I watched the most when I was younger!

Bookwormcastlegirl:  Once I got enchanted by the world you had created, I did not wish to leave it and definitely wanted more of Toonopolis and the dynamic characters. Where do you see this world and the characters going?

Jeremy: I have a lot more books planned, including the recently released novella for Anchihiiroo (the Rogue from Animetown). I have several more novellas planned for minor characters as well as two more books to the Toonopolis Files series. These will introduce new characters (and new sections of Toonopolis) as well as explore more from existing characters. Lastly, there is also a dual-trilogy planned to follow up with the Toonopolis Files that will be co-written with another author who has known Toonopolis since I first created it. This will be a trilogy of paired novels (six books total) that tell a brand new story. I will be writing the story from the perspective of my protagonists (such as Gemini, Jimbob, etc.) and Nelson Díaz will be writing it from the perspective of brand new antagonists.

Bookwormcastlegirl:  About those characters that I love. How did you make the characters so unique?

Jeremy: I can’t really answer that except that they are very alive in my mind. With some of the secondary characters, I started with stock characters (such as Miss Fire and Hawk) and just allowed them to grow and respond to situations that they normally wouldn’t face. A stock character in a stock world is boring. A stock character in a different world becomes a whole new creation. My main characters have existed in my mind for over ten years. They’ve grown and changed over the years. Gemini, for example, was originally Kid Gemini and 3 years younger. Jimbob gained a new wrinkle a few years ago that people will learn when they read the book.

Bookwormcastlegirl:  Jimbob is definitely a great character! When writing your characters, do they ever surprise you?

Jeremy: Absolutely! When I write my Toonopolis stories, I often outline the chapters very loosely. I put the characters in a new environment, give them a purpose, and then see what happens from there. The end result is often surprising to me but I’ve learned that it is much better (and usually funnier) to let them react and just capture it that way.

Bookwormcastlegirl: How did you create the rules for the cartoon world, i.e., the abilities of the cartoons as well as the “Outsiders”, who have different “rules” so to speak?

Jeremy: I started with some core rules when I first created Toonopolis for my online fiction writing game ten years ago. A lot of the cartoon rules (such as C-Space and Gravity Effectiveness Displacement) are adapted from watching lots of cartoons myself (and there exist websites online that have documented many of them). As for the rules of how the Tooniverse works? Those have been developed over the years. I have some good friends who know and love Toonopolis and will often just ask me series of ‘what-if’ questions. These questions helped me fully understand the complexity of Toonopolis and the Tooniverse well before I sat down to write even the first book. As crazy as this world is, there is order amongst the chaos!

Bookwormcastlegirl: Speaking of rules, are there any “rules” you stick to for writing, such as times, methods, or how you plan a novel?

Jeremy: I have preferred methods but being a stay-at-home dad to two boys (6 and 1) makes those fly out the window. I love to be sitting alone with music playing (usually something instrumental, like video game or movie soundtracks) in large chunks of time. Since that can’t work, I just write when I can. Sometimes it’s early in the morning if the baby decides he wants to be up at 5 AM. Sometimes it’s during that blessed time of day where the 6 year old is at school and the baby is napping (of course, often I have a boatload of housework to do during this time). As for planning out a novel, I don’t write out very detailed outlines. I prefer to just put the setting and 2-3 bullet points for the chapter. This allows the story to flow where it feels more natural instead of me forcing it into detailed ideas that I plan out in advance. This works well for me considering the fluid nature of Toonopolis itself, but might not work as well for someone writing a more serious work.

Bookwormcastlegirl: Enough about rules 😉 … Now for a more “creative/fun” question: If you got stuck in a cartoon of your choice, what would it be and why? Would you be able to get back out of this said cartoon (if you wanted to, that is)?

Jeremy: Man, that’s a tough one. Right now I am enjoying Thundercats and Voltron Force a ton, but I think both of those worlds are a little serious and dangerous for me. I think I’d have to go a little more classic and get into the Looney Tunes world (but not the Looney Tunes Show currently airing, because I’d have to punch Lola repeatedly in the face). It’d be fun to be in one of the worlds where it all began. Watching Wile E. Coyote demonstrate laws of cartoon physics in person would be great. Also, being a classic cartoon… no one ever REALLY gets hurt or dies. That’s one of the core rules of Toonopolis that is… erm… rarely broken… unless…

Bookwormcastlegirl: Unless…?! I know, I know, your hands are tied. 😉 Onto my next question, then.  As you may know, I have a new special page on my blog for all of our fellow and prospective writers. What advice would you give to all of the writers out there? Any advice about the world of publishing?

Jeremy: The first bit of advice is to make sure you never stop reading. I found I have trouble writing during chunks of time where I don’t keep reading the way I normally do. It also helps to read outside your own genre to improve your writing ability and range. Publishing is a scary thing, especially if you plan on going on your own like I did. I created my own publishing company and spent 3 months filling my brain with information on printing, fonts, formatting, and all sorts of craziness that isn’t nearly as fun as writing. If you’re going to do it, just remember that it takes time and a lot of work but is very worth it in the end. Just make sure that you can produce a professional quality product if you want to be able to be taken seriously. This includes a pro-looking cover (I paid an artist to do mine) and proper editing (again, worth the investment to hire a pro). Just because you feel you can self-edit, make your own cover, and throw your work on Kindle just because you want to save money, doesn’t mean you should (unless you are an editor/artist/etc.).

Bookwormcastlegirl: Is there anything else that you would like to share or expand on?

Jeremy: I would love to throw out the information regarding a completely different project that I am currently working on. I am accepting submissions for non-fiction essays by other stay-at-home dads to be published as a collection under the title The Myth of Mr. Mom. Anyone interested can get all the details here: http://www.toonopolis.com/2011/10/06/hey-stay-at-home-dads-wanna-be-published/

Bookwormcastlegirl: Thank you so much for your time, it is always fun to find out more about a world that you love being pulled into as you are reading! I hope you haven’t been roped into this too much and hope you get free soon!

Jeremy: Thanks for taking the time to interview me.  I’m glad the kidnapper didn’t take away my iPhone so I could still communicate with people!  It’s also the only thing giving me light!

Read the author’s free novella Anchihiiroo here! It is the backstory of one of the characters from the Tooniverse, review to come soon!

Don’t forget to comment below to get a free eCopy of Toonopolis: Gemini, a world you will not wish to leave once you enter it! You will also be entered into the drawing! Visit The Tooniverse to find out more about the novel, the Masquerade Blog Tour, as well as how to find out what happened to Jeremy!

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Are you ready for WIRED?

When reading a good book, you would think that you need to truly relate to and care for the characters. But every so often, a great book comes along that makes you cringe and not feel any sense of empathy for the characters. This is how I felt at the beginning of Wired. The characters are people we all might recognize: so full of flaws that they cannot ever be redeemed. But this does not stop you from getting wired into this book.

The two main characters are both quite unloving, even though some may prefer one over the other (depending on gender, world view and part of the novel you are at). Mary Elizabeth and Charlie, married for years and even high school sweethearts, are polar opposites: Not just in the opposites attract way either, but more like the this is the end quality that usually comes right before a divorce. They seem to be almost torn to shreds in regards to how their relationship is holding up. And it gets even worse.

At first I hated the characters. I did not think I would come to feel for them or like them, but the author did a truly amazing job of showing how the hero and heroine can be human beings with many faults that others might not like them for (and might even hate them for) in real life. But this allows an authentic portrait to be shared with the reader.

This novel explores it all: what love and loss and betrayals and the breakdown of a relationship looks like. What fear and hate and hiding things and lying can do to a person.

It shows that even when there seems to be no more hope, that the characters still find strength from somewhere to hang on to and courage to keep going and to make the right choices, even if they are the hardest choices of all.

Real life is never easy and the novel does not take the easy way out either. It shows that in order for love and truth to win out, you have to be brutally honest, even if it hurts and you cannot let go of the ones you love. Sometimes you will push away the ones you love. You will do horrible things. But the fight cannot be taken out of these characters. They win you over with their raw humanity, their weaknesses and their ultimate strengths that bring about healing and before you know it, you are somehow rooting for them. Because they are human.

Nothing is tied into a neat pretty bow, so to speak, in that everything is real and given to you straight, no punches held back. There are resolutions made that are satisfying, yet realistic and leave you with the glow that maybe something good came out of everything after all, just as you hope it does in real life.

This is a novel that showcases raw honesty and real humanity including the flaws, evil and all. But it also holds the hope of coming to terms with your life, making the right choices for yourself, and learning to be honest even when it hurts. This is a must read for all fans of suspense, intrigue, murder mysteries, action, and real relationship portrayals with some romance thrown in too. But it also has characters that you might not like at first but who come to the front of everything standing strong and beating all odds in their own way. Characters that you will not forget.

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Tour Notes:

Enter to win 1 of 3 free paperback copies of this novel on the official Wired blog tour page. The winner of the give-away will be announced on Wednesday, October 26 – be sure to enter before then! Just can’t wait to read Wired? Pick up your copy in the Kindle, Nook, or iTunes stores or visit Smashwords with the coupon code AK95A to receive a discounted price (just $2)!

Don’t forget to vote for my blog, BookwormCastle in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins an Amazon gift card and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official Wired blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

Learn more about this author by visiting her website, Facebook or GoodReads pages or by connecting with her on Twitter. You’ll definitely want to check out Martha’s Mystery Blog–each week a new short thriller is serialized Monday through Friday. The entries are nice and short, easy to read via smart phone or tablet. It’s all at www.MarthaCarr.com.

The Rising of Love and Lies? With a Fallen Angel, Nothing is easy

Review of Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

This is a great sequel to Hush, Hush (link to my review of  the first book in series here) and is definitely a must read for any paranormal romance fan. Nora has to make what is the hardest decision for her and any girl in her situation- she has to choose to let Patch go- the one she loves the most- in order to keep him. If she gives into getting him back now and being with him now, it will just be a short taste of pleasure with him and she may lose him forever. No more touch and go which is killing her.

She cannot lose him. She loves him more than anything. But does he know something else that could change everything? Why does he seem to lose hope?

She still feels like she is the dark.  More trouble comes to their relationship. She suspects Patch may be hiding even more from her than she had thought. What would happen if you suspected the one you love the most to actually be totally untrustworthy? Nora has to deal with this horrifying question, but even more so,with the added dimension of angels and their enemies. Nora has to decide what to do when she suspects the one who is supposed to be her protector and lover of having somewhat darker motives.
What will Nora decide? Will she break the ties with Patch, thinking this will protect her?  Or will she  have the hope  that she could then be with him someday? If that is even a safe choice anymore?

What Nora fears the most and what she doesn’t want to happen ends up being the very thing that very well may happen. We, as the readers, also cringe, having this as the last thing we want to happen as well.

There will be many twists and turns at the end that will also leave you eager for the just released third book of the saga (there will be a fourth book too!) – Silence– review to come soon! Please sign up for email updates at the top right to get the latest!

I would love to hear your thoughts on these books so far (no spoilers please for other readers 😉 I found myself definitely relating to many aspects of Nora and Patch’s love story. How about you? What parts do you relate to? What parts did you hate? What other novels do you think compare to this one- which other similar novels would you recommend? With Halloween fast approaching, I plan to do a mini-series on supernatural type novels, so please comment below with your suggestions!  I always love to hear other readers and writers opinions, so if you comment, you just might make my day! 😉