Book Review: Sunrise Meets the Star by Victoria Bastedo

sunrise meets the star

Sunrise Meets the Star by Victoria Bastedo

a Fantasy novel released on 3/14/14 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform



Verone was a peasant but he had been educated and was intelligent. For this reason and the attitude of the town toward them, Verone and his mother lived on the edge of the quiet out of the way town until his mother passed away. Verone’s life working as a laborer was flung upside down when the loud-spoken dark-haired man Antaries arrived with his group of travelers. They had come for Verone and he would journey back with them through thick and thin to fulfill the strange requirements of a will left by his father’s partner.

Verone is at first led by curiosity and the chance to see the world, but soon realizes he always wanted to cast off the peasant life’s burden for greater things like adventure, friends, and family. He found all of these in his journey with Antaries,  the solicitor and his son, the two guards, and later the girl turned thief turned companion. In the end the journey will bring them all to places they hadn’t imagined.


keywords: Journey, Prince and the Pauper, friendship, class distinctions, ‘a’ names, two halves of a whole, prophesy/legacy, Peasant


My Review:


Victoria Bastedo excels at creating characters and growing them through a novel. Sunrise Meets the Star is the second novel I have read by this author and I am delighted with her ability to realistically and immediately pull me into her characters. In this novel, she introduces the main character, Aldeveron, right away and gives me a complete physical description without just telling me. She shows me that Aldeveron is very light skinned (so much that he gets sunburned) and that he has red hair and is strong because he is a laborer. She implies that he is soft-spoken and has settled into the routine of his life, accepting his low station and birth, until his journey because of the Will. Throughout the novel, Bastedo grows Aldeveron into the leader he must be to claim his rightful place in society.

Berlin is “a man with several sides, and his sense of nobility was skewed, and yet he had a loyalty for those he traveled with…” (pg. 163, according to Verone’s thoughts). Throughout the novel, Berlin undergoes as much of a change of character as Aldeveron and the relationship between these two is quite fascinating to behold. Bastedo does not immediately resolve the conflict between them that was created through class distinctions, she maintains the realism of persona throughout the novel, allowing Berlin to slowly and almost unwillingly see Aldeveron in a new light even though he persists in calling Verone a ‘peasant’ over and over. The verbal abuse Berlin throws at Verone is not unsettling for the reader because Bastedo has made Berlin a real person, with conflicted thoughts and feelings that erupt even as his temper does at the traveling party having to ‘succor’ a peasant.

There is a moment in the novel that struck me as a turning point in the relationship between Berlin and Aldeveron and it involved a hat. I applaud Bastedo for being able to hold her characters to their behaviors while at the same time having them show their conflicted and complicated interiors. But as Chickory puts it, Aldeveron has a way of “winning people over.”

The only issue I had with the characters was being overwhelmed by all of them almost at the same time. The travel party of the two guards, the father and son duo, and the leader were thrown at me all at once, which makes sense in that they were traveling together. However, this overfilled my mind and I was not able to sort out the characters between themselves for several chapters and wished that each of the companions could have been especially recognized for me to understand them one by one. However, once I got to know them I felt like I could accurately predict how they would respond in any given situation because they were described so well.

Bastedo has several instances of simply amazing dialogue that absolutely brings the characters to life. One of my favorites was when the innkeeper is speaking to Cicado as she is upset, “Seen a lot of hard at my inn,” the man said. “Mop up, Girl.” (Pg. 121). Another fantastic example of a well-crafted sentence that shows the depth of intelligence in Bastedo’s main character Verone is when he muses in chapter 11 that, “I don’t know the rules of the world that created his opinions.” (referring to Berlin)

Not only character descriptions and dialogue, but scenery descriptions were wonderfully captured by Bastedo. When Verone first reacts to arriving in Easthaven, Bastedo describes what he says in a lengthy list, overwhelming us just as Verone is being overwhelmed, “They had bright clothes, bright food, and strange and tinkling items of art, jewelry, rattling cards, horses adorned with shiny headpieces, shoes with ribbons, pretty girls smooth as velvet, refined men that rivaled Berlin, books and storefronts and…” (ch. 20, pg. 185)

The setting was quite believable with only minor instances of deviations, such as ‘mowing’ grass. Spelling/grammar/word choice also only contained minor errors. There were a few missing commas where a natural pause would occur but this novel had a high readability. The main issue I had with the writing style/word choice was the lack of definition in many cases on who was speaking or performing an action, where the author would refer to ‘he’ and ‘him’ in the same sentence for two distinct persons. For example, on pg. 131, “he managed to convince him.”

The mechanics I most enjoyed were the chosen names for places and people. They fit into the world Bastedo had created while still being pronounceable. My favorites were Aldeverone, Cicada, Berlin, Antaries, Chickory, Fractin, Patifica, Pequesterey, Wendland… Basically all of them.

This fantasy novel was not too much in your face about the morals of the story, instead integrating them so well into the plot that I did not realize there were so many treasures embedded until the end rolled around and I was finished. Bastedo eloquently deals with class distinctions, her characters transcend these boundaries as they become friends. Berlin judges Aldeveron as a peasant of unequal class, even though the distinctions are not as they seem for he has been educated, is intelligent and displays exemplary character, fighting skills, and humility during their journey. Berlin learns that he can’t always judge a book by its cover.

The one thing I wish the author would have done differently was to integrate the meat of the plot earlier in the novel, giving us a peak into the main mystery before the ending action. There was enough to move the story along and me with it but I felt that the plot was lacking in luster until the author made the big mystery reveal towards the end. The reveal was clever and I could see in hindsight that it had been integrated into the story as far as the first few pages but I would have liked to know that sooner on in my reading.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure novels with a taste for more humble times (i.e. horses as transportation and a distinct class system)


This novel was published by the author on 3/28/11 and re-released on 3/14/14  and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

on the web:




Author Thursdays: Norwescon!


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Maple Valley Writers and FreeValley Publishing authors will be hosting a booth at Norwescon in the lobby.

Rachel Barnard and her work Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams will be promoted at this event.

You can talk to her in person Saturday during the event.

What is Norwescon?

The Pacific Northwest’s premier Fantasy and Science Fiction convention.

For more information on Norwescon:

Author Thursdays: Camp NaNo – Like NaNoWriMo but in April

Of Ducks and Writing
Remember these pictures?


Camp NaNo is a looser form of NaNoWriMo in which you -still- attempt to write a novel in a month (April) but you create your own writing goals. Mine is 25k words. How am I doing thus far on the morning of the third day? Behind of course! I’m still fleshing out my novel but it will be grand. My goal is to finish the first book in well-edited first draft mode this year. It is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy and I’m still fleshing out the plot particulars.

Any of you participating in Camp NaNo this year? It’s not too late to start!

Author Thursdays: Review of Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island from bizarre Eraserhead Press

Gaston Glew is a pickle and Fanny W. Fod is a pancake. From the very beginning, the reader can tell this book will be bizarre. This story was everything I have and have not imagined about pickles and pancakes. The writing style was curt and to the point and the author spared no details when it came to sticky subjects such as suicide, death, murder, and sex but he did provide a strange perspective: that of a pickle. This pickle was not just any pickle. It was a sad pickle. Did the author choose a phallic vegetable on purpose? Pickles do come with their own associations and prejudices.

As I read the story, I felt like I could smell and taste the sickly sweetness of the maple syrup and the briny sourness of the pickled pancakes and it totally grossed me out! Cameron Pierce effectively captured all my senses in relation to pickles and pancakes, unusual subjects. Pierce has imagined every nook and cranny of these two subjects and then mashed them together in an uncommon storyline that is so bizarre I don’t know what to think. Pierce was able to capture a different perspective with his edible characters, translating death, sadness, and happiness into tangible shaped concepts.

The plot was straightforward, to find Happiness (as a pickle) but the plot seemed wandering and mildly purposeless. I thought the story got a little chatty with the author’s own musings on the subjects of happiness and sadness with too much emphasis placed on the characters’ thoughts and feelings. However, Pierce wrote a wonderfully imaginative story about what could and would happen if pickles and pancakes were alive in a world where unequivocal certainties are not complete realities on Pancake Island.

Pierce’s writing style reminded me of the curiosity of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry mixed with the emotional wanderings of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein.


Would I recommend this book?

This book is different. If you are not willing to read something bizarre, then I would not recommend this book. Also, the detailed sex scene might be overwhelming for certain readers (even when it’s between two made-up characters: a pickle and a pancake). I enjoyed the book, it gave me some ideas for my own unusual fiction. Also, the author is highly imaginative and I appreciated reading the book just for the odd tidbits of imagination.

Author Tuesdays: Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams


Local Author Re-releases Debut Young Adult Novel


Seattle, Washington, March 25 – Rachel Barnard, a driven young author in the Seattle area, released the new version of her debut novel, Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams. The novel is version four, according to the Amazon version counter, and features a stunning new cover from Dodo’s Design as well as improvements within the front and back covers. The novel is available in both print and eBook formats on Amazon and Createspace.

Barnard wrote her debut novel after graduating from New College of Florida and has not stopped improving the novel since. She released the first version in 2012 but decided that she wanted a more vivid and professional cover. She has been working for months to solidify both interior and exterior of her book and has now released the updated and final version.

Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams follows MC three years after she has infiltrated one of many elite academies across the U.S. The government has created these academies in order to train the youth for high end government positions in order to take over the world. MC must rise to the top in the Cube training grounds in order to be placed high up within the government so she can stop them in their takeover. It is not until her fourth and final year at the academy that her top-student status is threatened by the sudden arrival of Li, the new transfer student. MC is completely focused on her self-created mission until she gets sidetracked by Li, who might be bad news in more ways than which she bargained.

“Rachel is a writer with a strong head on her shoulders. This is evidenced by her presentation of the main character. MC has a purpose, that’s at odds with her school life. She doesn’t need friends, sneers at getting a crush on a guy, and is willing to vanquish her enemies. Travel with her as she explores the underside of the school, finds her hiding places and learns strategy while fighting with the other students at the Cube,” says Victoria Bastedo.

Rachel Barnard released a book of poetry, Wandering Imagination, early this year that is also available on Amazon in print and eBook format. For more information on either the author or Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams, you can visit her website at


Author Tuesdays: Writing About Children for Adults

AWP Panel with Suzanne Berne, Ann Pancake, Melanie Rae Thon, and Kent Meyers.

What makes for a compelling child character in literary fiction?

Here was my take-away from the panel:

  • Children are unable to pretend not to see what’s in front of them such as the homeless person in front of a Bloomingdale’s
  • Children don’t always have purpose in what they do or where they go
  • Children’s dreams can be small (such as taking a bath every day or going to the neighbor’s tree house).
  • Children can have unexpected insights
  • Children create unusual metaphors
  • Children are a natural fit for stream-of-consciousness writing style
What other advice do you have for an adult writing a compelling child character?

Author Thursdays: AWP – an Effort in Futility, Confusion, Overeager Expectations, and the Occasional Schmooze

As you dear readers know, I was at the AWP conference last Thursday and Saturday. Here is the short assessment: Don’t pay when you don’t have to. AWP, this year, was able to offer free admission to the bookfair. I’m not sure they advertised the fact that at the book fair were three stages and there were at least 3-5 lectures at each stage on Saturday. This means that they were FREE. The only portions of AWP that required the pass (and the money to purchase the pass), were most of the other panels/discussions/readings, Thursday and Friday, and the receptions/parties at night. 
I only attended 2/3 days, didn’t go to any of the receptions/parties, and didn’t think much of the panels.  

There was also a free networking with visiting authors event hosted outside of AWP by several groups at the Sorrento Hotel on Thursday, which I did attend.

Just going to Seattle was a treat in and of itself and Saturday was no exception. Traffic was easier. Parking was easier. Pike Place Market was open. Next time AWP rolls around, I suggest saving the $200 and just spending the day in Seattle and checking out the book fair.

Pictured above are two pieces of excellent writing advice written by AWP event goers, hosted at a Writing Advice booth at the book fair. These two were my favorites.

Author Thursdays: Live from the Black Dog… It’s Thursday Night!

An Evening of Stories – Live at The Black Dog

FreeValley Publishing’s authors will be at The Black Dog in Snoqualmie, WA on January 23, 2014 6-7:30pm for a Meet the Author’s event. Our authors will read excerpts from their published works and give short commentary on different aspects of self-publishing. We will then be available to chat and sign books for you.
This is in league with local chap book makers who will also have works available that evening. Paul Green will play Jazz at 7:30 onward, so you can make it a complete entertainment outing. Come an see us!

Author Thursdays: The Art of Book Covers

I have hemmed and hawed over book covers, specifically pre-made. It sounds so easy. Just a few dollars and wham bam I’ve got a cover! Or if you use Createspace’s cover creator it’s free. However, many people say that the cover creator pumps out boring covers that are easily attributed to the creator bot. What says you? I used their creator for my poetry book, as it doesn’t require anything super fancy:

The cover creator is customizable in certain regards, such as changing any of the text and some of the placement but not entirely changeable, so what you see will be what you get basically. You have to be happy with their offerings to go with the cover creator.

Back to pre-mades. There are tons of sites devoted to pre-made and custom-made covers. Even Amazon will devote their design team to making you a unique cover, for a hefty fee of course. If you go with a pre-made, all you get to do is add your name and title and barcode. The image is as is, no changing. What if you want more shadows? Nope. What if you want less blue? Nope. Perhaps some of the artists will work with you on their pre-mades but then there definitely will be a customizing fee added on.

There is also literature out there that warns about the cons of pre-made covers. Are they used more than once? Sometimes. I’ve seen elements used more than once in multiple pre-mades as well. Here’s an article that breaks down the everything that can go wrong will scenarios when considering a pre-made cover for your next novel:

So what to do? Well, if you can and your budget is drop dead nothing, do it yourself! Here is a website with a list of other websites where you can find images to use in your cover creation.

Making a book cover –

You can also commission someone with photoshopping skills to help you out. Or find one of those random artists online to make you a custom cover, but beware the internet my friends!