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Trouble at Plantasy Land by Vicki Marquez: Q&A and Promo!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In the second book of The Rootlets series, fans of the award-winning, Super Rootabilities, will rejoin Brocc, Carrotina, Cornelius and Kaley on their first superhero adventure!

It’s opening day at Mr. Fungo Fungi’s magnificent amusement park, Plantasy Land…and The Rootlets couldn’t be more excited! With special surprises and newly sprouted rides, this is sure to be the greatest day ever! But when The Rootlets arrive at the park, they realize that something is terribly wrong…Plantasy Land is in trouble! Someone – or something – is destroying the park. Could it be The Great Zucchini – Mr. Fungi’s new magician? Or could there be an even greater danger lurking beyond the park? Most of all, can The Rootlets trust their new super rootabilities to help them save their favorite place on the planet?

Goodreads Summary

1.     What inspired you to create this series?
A: The idea of The Rootlets popped into my head one day as I was thinking about how I could help inspire kids to want to -- and to be excited to -- eat their veggies and make good, healthy choices. That thought lit a fire inside of me and I immediately knew that these characters were something special – that’s what inspired me to take action, create this series, build this brand and bring these characters to life.

2.     How would you describe the dynamic between the RootletsBrocc, Carrotina, Cornelius and Kaley?
A: The Rootlets are best friends, with a special bond and a lot of trust between them. They count on (and value) each others’ unique set of talents and strengths, and they operate like a little team…always rooting for and looking out for one another, no matter what kind of trouble their next adventure brings!

3.     How did you decide what traits the Rootlets would possess?
A: It wasn’t actually a conscious decision – they each began taking on certain characteristics with that initial vision I had of them. Right away it was clear who they were and what was important to each one of them. Brocc was smart and into studying, Cornelius was the jokester who loved to have fun. Kaley was a fancy girly-girl and Carrotina was a brave adventure-seeker. It felt like I knew them.

A few months after I wrote the first book (Super Rootabilities), my husband said to me that each Rootlet reminded him of me, like they were me -- at the core -- divided into four. And in retrospect, I can totally see that…everything that The Rootlets love, I love. So, I guess that maybe I subconsciously selected their traits based on those things…and that each one actually represents a little part of me.

4.     We have to ask about one of the most distinct aspects of The Rootlets—their vegetable hair. What inspired that idea?
A: When I first transitioned to a plant-based diet, my best friend kept calling me her “veggie head.” That nickname was running through my brain when I first had the idea of The Rootlets. I envisioned these adorable kids with big, veggie hairdos: a broccoli afro, carrot pigtails, blonde kernels, leafy green was how I saw them, and it was absolutely perfect.

5.     The Rootlets features bright and brilliant illustrations. Did the characters look the way you envisioned while writing the book? 
A: My illustrator, Jeremy, and I actually developed the characters long before I wrote the first story, so I was lucky to have a very clear visual reference of these kids as I was developing the series. But I will say that when Jeremy sent me those very first sketches of The Rootlets, he 1000% captured on paper what these characters looked like in my head.

6.     Since you are an expert in health and nutrition with years of experience, what types of research did you do to write The Rootlets?
A: The Rootlets series is all about the evolution of these four young kids who learn that they're superheroes and who now have to navigate the huge responsibilities that come along with that, so all of my research was focused around character and story development, as well as general writing tips and guidelines for kids literature.

The health and nutrition aspects of this series are indirect and expressed creatively, so that requires a lot less research, and a lot more imagination.

7.     In The Rootlets, adventurous kids who love to play and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand. Was that connection intentional? 
Yes, it was intentional, but also very obvious. The Rootlets are relatable role models who love to play, explore and go on little adventures, just like most kids – and those are all really great health-promoting activities to encourage. 

8.     What is the key to inspiring kids to make healthier choices?
A: There are two keys: fun and familiarity! Fun is the easy one…kids seek it, love it, have to have it…and they're motivated by it! So, when veggies and fruits are presented in a fun, exciting way, kids are much more interested in them.
Familiarity is the other key. Most kids (and adults) prefer to try (and buy) things that they’re familiar with. The Rootlets series introduces and popularizes healthy, plant-based foods, so that when kids see them in the grocery store or at the farmers market, they’re much more curious and excited to try them.

9.     Why is reaching and educating kids about healthy choices in elementary school important to their lifelong health?
A: Because so many of the habits that we have as adults stem from the habits that we developed when we were little. Good habits, like brushing our teeth, are gems that'll serve us well our whole lives, but bad habits -- especially unhealthy eating habits -- are really hard to break and can lead to serious chronic disease and illness. Teaching kids, from an early age, about the superpowers of veggies and the importance of making good nutritional choices, establishes the foundation for them to build strong, healthy habits that will stay with them as they grow up.

10.  What would you consider to be the biggest challenge to raising healthy kids today?
A: Time...for sure! Parents are SO busy these days that finding the time to meal plan, shop and cook can be a real challenge. That's why I'm really excited that our Rootlets blog now features quick and healthy kid-friendly recipes that parents can easily whip up and feel really good about sharing with their little ones.

11.  You are a certified plant-based chef. What are some of your most popular dishes among kids?
A: Ooh, there are so many good ones, but I’d have to say that the most popular dishes are the ones that kids can customize on their own or help make. For example: power bowls (where you start with a grain and then add your favorite toppings and sauces) tacos, wraps, homemade pizzas, smoothies…all of those are always kid-pleasers! And anything with cacao or chocolate, of course!

12.  You also host a healthy living cable TV show, “Nourished.” How does the process of preparing for the show compare to writing The Rootlets?
A: The process is somewhat similar, actually. Each individual episode of “Nourished” and each Rootlets story is part of a larger overarching series, so while each one has to independently stand alone, they also have to be able to work well within that series.  

As for the actual prep process, it’s basically the same. I begin with an outline, then I put on my creativity cap and continue to write and expand on the story or episode. I edit, get my team involved, consider visuals, edit some more until I have a concrete finished product…then it’s production time!

13.  When did your interest in nutrition and healthy food begin? Which authors inspired you as a child?
A: In my mid-20s, I started paying close attention to what I was eating and how it was affecting me. I cut back on the highly processed junk food that I had been accustomed to eating my entire life, and I began eating real, whole, natural foods. Becoming aware of that food/body connection, and how my diet had been directly impacting my overall health, was a huge a-ha moment for me! Once I saw (and felt) the correlation between eating well and feeling good, my interest in health and nutrition grew naturally.

As a kid, I loved Valerie Tripp, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Peggy Parish and of course, Dr. Seuss.

14.   The Rootlets are superheroes with special powers, which contribute to their big adventures. Which superpower would you choose to possess?
A: Ooh, good question! I'd LOVE some sort of healing touch power. To be able to free people and animals from pain, sickness and illness…that would be the greatest!

15.  What other projects are you currently working on?

A: Right now I'm devoting the majority of my time to The Rootlets, writing book three, developing our app, attending school events and marketing the brand -- and when I'm not working on that, I'm writing, creating content and testing recipes for “Nourished” and coaching my private and corporate clients. 


Vicki Marquez is a certified health coach, plant-based chef, author and TV personality whose passion for living a healthy, vibrant life has become her mission to help others do the same.

After earning her degree in nutrition and health science, Vicki continued her wellness education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied over 100 dietary theories with the world’s leading nutrition and holistic health experts. Vicki went on to receive her culinary education and training at Rouxbe Cooking School where she earned her plant-based chef certification.

In 2013, Vicki launched Inner Figure – her health coaching practice that offers one-on-one lifestyle coaching, robust corporate wellness programs and a monthly plant-based cooking club all built around her philosophy to “live healthy from the inside out.”

As Inner Figure’s client base grew, so did Vicki’s desire to help inspire and empower children to make healthier choices. From this inspiration, The Rootlets were born: four veggie-haired, cartoon superheroes on a quest to promote good nutrition by making veggies fun and exciting. Vicki launched The Rootlets, LLC, and authored the first book in her series, The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities, in October 2014. 

In 2016, Vicki branched into television as the creator and host of the healthy living cable show, Nourished. The program blends wellness how-to tips and delicious plant-based recipes into a series that’s structured much like her one-on-one coaching sessions.

Through her private health coaching practice, children’s brand and TV show, Vicki aims to make healthy eating and living easy, accessible and entertaining for everyone.

Vicki is a founding member of The New Self-Health Movement; a member of the International Association for Health Coaches and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators; and is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

Vicki lives in Chicago with her husband, stepdaughter and two Yorkies. When she’s not writing, coaching or cooking, you can find her on the yoga mat, traveling the world or snuggled on the sofa with her pups and a great book.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Metaltown by Kristen Simmons

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.

Goodreads Summary

When I first started this book I didn't know what to think. I sometimes find it hard to get into books with more than one character telling the story; however, I enjoyed getting to know Colin, Lena, and Ty better. Colin and his family do not really belong in the factory, but due to circumstances, they are forced to be there. Lena, on the other hand, is wealthy, obnoxious, and very very entitled. Ty was a little rough around the edges and I don't think I would want to be friendly with her in real life, but I understood most of her decisions. When Colin finds himself getting close to Lena, he believes it is an opportunity to get her sympathies and maybe change the current social strata. It definitely doesn't go perfectly, but Lena slowly warms up to the idea of Colin's version of how the world should work. Ty functioned mainly as a caring friend of Colin's. Her story was bleak and sad and I felt terrible for her. 

I wasn't surprised when Colin and Lena end up falling for each other. I was slightly rooting for Colin and Ty to fall in love, but as far as things were concerned on their end, it was strictly platonic. I liked how their relationship was secondary to the social and environmental injustices committed in the book. The author was amazingly inventive and descriptive with the plot. I could literally smell the factory when I was reading the novel. I was horrified by the ending and wish things could have been different. It didn't seem fully realistic especially because the other characters escaped unscathed. 

3 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up by Bianca Schulze: Review and Giveaway!

101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up provides a comprehensive list of kid-friendly books for children to read before they grow up. This must-read review list acts as an interactive journal where kids can document the books they read, why they like them, and how they rate them. Divided into sections by subject, from fairy tales and fantasy to sports and nonfiction, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up helps both kids and parents decide which books to read next! 

Goodreads Summary

I wish books like this existed when I grew up (if they did, I never found them in the library!). I loved reading through the list of books recommended and reflecting on which books I read and which were favorites and which I struggled through. This book reminded me of favorite authors and also of books that I had promised myself I would read later and merely forgot (I definitely have a few library holds to make). There are so many different genres and even nonfiction titles. I loved how colorful the book was; the colors were so vivid and eye-catching. I could easily see a child or adult enjoying reading through the recommendations. The journal aspect was adorable. The children can "rate" the books and write down what they did or didn't enjoy. 

4 Stars


Please leave your email and a comment with your favorite childhood book for the opportunity to win a copy of this book! (USA)

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Immortal Throne by Bree Despain

Monday, October 17, 2016

Daphne Raines knew it was risky to enter the underworld to save the love of her life, Haden, who had sacrificed his own honor as an Underlord for her sake. But she could never have predicted that she'd end up betrothed to Haden's conniving half-brother, Garrick, new King of the Underrealmâ-and bound to his dark world.

Even worse, Haden is banished to the mortal realm, and has just days to live as poison takes over his body and mind. Only Daphne's kiss can save him, but how can she escape Garrick and reach Haden in time? Surprises lurk around every corner in the final chapter of this epic romance story, as Haden and Daphne fight to fulfill their destinies.

Goodreads Summary

I have loved this series and couldn't wait for this book to finish off the series!  Haden and Daphne just can't catch a break. Every time they seem to be going in a positive direction with their relationship some obstacle came up that forced them further apart. Haden has been poisoned and, in a twist on Snow White (it seemed similar to me), only Daphne kissing him can save him. The poison depresses him and makes his character very...neutral. He just isn't the same Haden. The story is told by Daphne, Haden, and Tobin. I really enjoyed getting to know Tobin more. I liked hearing from Haden's point of view because I was able to see how much he truly loved Daphne. Daphne's devotion to Haden was also admirable and made me realize that part of why I enjoy this story so much is their romance and love for each other.

The ending was perfect. The author tied up loose ends and helped rationalize the characters' endings. There were times when I was worried about the characters and the author managed to inject that perfect does of suspense. Garrick was the perfect enemy/antagonist. His mean, forceful ways from trying to force Daphne to marry him and how he connived his way to ruler of the Underworld made him everything the reader would love to hate. I loved how Daphne, Haden, and Tobin overcame Garrick. This book was both a romance, thriller, and mythological story all rolled into one.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ