Book Recommendations · My Books

Little Red Riding Hood Recommendations

The Fairytale:

The big bad wolf is the villain in many fairytales. The wolf is dangerous and cunning. He is a beast of prey ready to eat those who are too trusting. In “Little Red Riding Hood” he deceives her not once but twice. First when she encounters him on the walk through the woods and he suavely asks her where she is headed suggesting she pick flowers for her grandmother. Then again when he sets up his trap, disguising himself as her grandmother so he can eat her.

In Charles Perrault’s version from 1697, the tale ends there. A depressingly cautionary tale. However when the Grimm brothers adapted the story in the 1800’s they changed the ending by adding a woodcutter who saves both Little Red and Grandmother from the belly of the wolf, filling his belly with rocks instead. While in even earlier versions of the tale, Little Red saves herself by stating that she needs to go to the bathroom and cleverly running away.

Whatever the version, the message is clear: be careful who you trust. The proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing” may be hiding in the woods, in broad daylight, or even in your own home. Thankfully there are red flags to help us detect the wolves from the sheep. Such as the wolf’s distinctive eyes, ears and teeth. And like the Little Red of old–when she realized that the person before her wasn’t her grandmother–we can run or get the help needed.







Sweet and Swoony Retellings

Retellings I’ve Read and Loved:

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor’s twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist–wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory.

But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it’s not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse . . .

This book was a fabulous sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball! Rereading the blurb only makes me want to reread the entire series!

The Princess Fugitive by Melanie Cellier

Princess Ava used to be a weapon–sharp, strong and beautiful. But when she fails at her most important task, she’s forced to flee from her own family.

Only her personal bodyguard, Hans, remains loyal. Hans claims to know the real Ava but she finds that hard to believe–after all, she’s been the villain so long that she can’t remember anything else.

This book has definitely been one of my favorite books by Melanie Cellier! I adore the characters and their banter and the journey they go on throughout the book.

Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim. To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

This book is a delightful mesh-up of Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and a few more grim tales. It is set in the modern day giving you the paranormal feels. I loved the entire series!

The Wolf’s Golden Deception by Alesha Adamson

Stolen magic. Broken trust. Can love save Rafe and Mira from being consumed by the Wolf’s deception? Or is it already too late?

For months, Lord Rafe has been ensnared in a deception that he wishes he’d never fallen for. But what else could he do to protect his family? What started out as something seemingly harmless became achingly complex when he fell in love with Princess Mira. Refusing to see her hurt by his poor choices, he made the painful decision to stay away from her.

Mira still doesn’t understand why the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with vanished after the end of the midnight balls. When he finally returns contrite and ready to court her, she wants to forgive him and regain what they once had. But Rafe is accused of a shocking crime and banished just as a tragedy strikes that changes Mira’s life forever. Now they must meet cloaked in secret if they wish to be together.

I came up with the idea for this book when I was still thinking about the villain theme from the Villain’s Ever After anthology. In fact, I came up with a whole series based around this theme. For this tale based off of both “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Orpheus and Eurydice,” I wanted to have the person everyone thought was the villain, not be the actual villain, and so the blackmail plot was born. Add in a snake and a delightfully fairytale, Greek and Norse inspired world with my own set of magical rules and I had a delightful time writing this book! It is the second instalment of my Ever After in Vilastoria stand-alone series.

TBR Reads:

Scarlet by Melissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

This is a delightful companion to the widely popular Cinder. If dystopian, meshed with fairytale steampunk sounds like your jam, you will probably enjoy this series.

The Baker and the Wolf by J.M. Stengl

A mysterious stranger, an enchantress grandmother, and an overprotective mother. Can Cerise trust any of them?

Cerise DuBois might as well be invisible. Not even her scarlet cloak attracts male interest, and her mother begins to despair of snaring a husband for a boring middle daughter with no magic ability. If not for her baking talents, Cerise would be a hopeless burden on the family.

Or so she believes until a dark man with eyes like gold appears in the family bakery to deliver an invitation from a grandmother she has never met . . . and real trouble begins. What if everything Cerise believes about herself and her family is false?

If you love fast paced writing and corky lovable characters you will probably enjoy reading J.M. Stengl’s books. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

Path of Secrets by Kenley Davidson

There are no wolves in the woods, they said.
You’ll be completely safe, they said.
They lied.

Batrice Reyard has everything she’s ever wanted—a fabulous job, an understanding mentor, and the freedom to be herself. Or so she thought…

I have yet to read any of Kenley Davidson books but am looking forward to giving her a try. From the reviews, her books might be a tad violent and on the darker side but still happy enough that I think I can enjoy them. (I’ve also been told that some of her books have a few swear words.)

Cloaked in Scarlet by Annette K. Larsen

A girl determined to fight her own battles.
A boy desperate to protect her at all costs.
And a prowling villain with a deceptively charming smile.

After watching her two closest friends survive mistreatment and degradation, Emeline is determined never to become a victim herself, no matter how small and quiet she may be. She’s proven to others that she can take charge as a cook; now she’s proving to herself that she can handle any situation.

Girl in the Red Hood by Brittany Fichter

The girl who’s bitten by a wolf and marked for life.
A boy, shrouded in secrecy, who watches over her.
The one man who can save her from her dark curse…or doom her to it.

In this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, when Liesel’s mother died, Liesel felt as though the world had ended. To make matters worse, in his grief, her father moves them to a village deep in a sunless forest. In her terror, Liesel tries to flee back to her grandparents that they left behind, but before she can escape, she’s bitten by a wolf, and unbeknownst to her, marked for a terrifying destiny.

Crimson Claws by Abigail Manning

A girl and her grandma… separated by an entire pack of beasts.

Roisen Karro and her grandmother run the most beloved bakery in the province of Omaira. Ever since her father disappeared seven years ago, Ro has decided there is no place for a man in her heart, especially an obnoxiously flirty woodcutter. Unfortunately, her granny has no issue encouraging the young man’s advances toward her.

The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest

A bitter and reclusive prince. A determined intruder. An unlikely friendship.

His face scarred from a witch’s curse, Prince Sebastian retreats inside his castle, resentful and angry. He shuns contact with everyone except the Red Hoods, the elite soldiers he trains and leads.

Four years ago, Sienna was kidnapped. Still traumatized by her ordeal, she needs to learn to protect herself to feel safe again, and she wants the Prince to train her.

Reluctantly, Sebastian agrees.

*A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast with a grumpy hero.

Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

The eldest daughter is often doomed in fairy tales. But Bella vows to escape the usual pitfalls. Anxious to avoid the Traditional path, Bella dons a red cloak and ventures into the forbidden forest to consult with “Granny,” the local wisewoman. But on the way home she’s attacked by a wolf—who turns out to be a cursed nobleman. Secluded in his castle, Bella is torn between her family and this strange man who creates marvelous inventions and makes her laugh—when he isn’t howling at the moon. Bella knows all too well that breaking spells is never easy. But a determined beauty, a wizard (after all, he’s only an occasional werewolf) and a little Godmotherly interference might just be able to bring about a happy ending.

This book is geared toward adults yet from everything I can tell it seems clean. Many reviewers said it felt like a YA book and one reviewer mentioned that there were some slight inuendoes.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

*This looks like a dark retelling with mild to moderate violence. And can I just say the cover is gorgeous!

Short Stories:

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Valde

So you think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Well, then, try your hand at answering these questions: Which character (not including Little Red herself) is the most fashion challenged? Who (not including the wolf) is the scariest? Who (not including Granny) is the most easily scared? Who is the strangest (notice we’re not “not including” anyone, because they’re all a little off.)? Who (no fair saying “the author”) has stuffing for brains? Master storyteller Vivian Vande Velde crafts eight new stories involving one of the world’s most beloved (and mixed-up) characters in literature. You may never look at fairy tales in quite the same way again.

*Reader Suggested Recommendations:

Cloaked by Rachel Kovaciny a historical western retelling (mild violence)

Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace a historical western retelling novella length (moderate violence)

The Wolf Gate by Hannah Sandvig a modern portal fae retelling.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you find many new and fantastic reads! If you enjoyed this list and would like to receive more be sure to join my newsletter by subscribing with the link below.

Happy reading!

Alesha Adamson

Book Recommendations · My Books

12+ Recommendations for 12 Dancing Princesses

“The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is a lesser known fairytale from the Grimm Brothers. It is also known as “The Worn-Out Shoes” or “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.” One of the most popular adaptations is the Barbie movie from 2006: Barbie in 12 Dancing Princesses.

I had never heard of the fairytale until I was in college and a roommate suggested I read it. Suddenly I saw the story everywhere, starting with Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball. This fairytale soon became one of my favorites.

For those of you unfamiliar with the original tale, I’ll tell you my quick rendition based off the many versions (including the original Grimm tale) I read for my own adaptation of the tale, The Dark King and the Eternal Dance.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses Tale

Once upon a time, there was a king who had been blessed with twelve beautiful daughters (Because how else are princesses to look). One morning he found that each of his twelve daughters had somehow worn their dancing slippers to shreds. How had this happened? They had been in their room all night long. He demanded his daughters offer an explanation; however, they refused to disclose anything. Though he locked them into their room each night, the problem continued.

Frustrated at having to purchase all twelve of his daughters new dancing slippers each day, he sent out a proclamation. Any man who could solve the mystery of the tattered slippers would be offered a reward and the hand of marriage to the daughter of his choosing. Nobles and princes alike came to solve the mystery. All failed and were put to death (because killing off the unsuccessful makes perfect sense).

Out in the kingdom, a war-weary soldier came upon an old lady as he journeyed. He paused to help her. As a reward, she offered him an invisibility cloak and told him to use it to solve the mystery of the tattered slippers. She then advised him not to eat or drink anything the princesses offered him.

Armed with knowledge, he went to the castle to solve the mystery. As had been done before, he was locked in with the princesses. The princesses graciously offered him bread and wine. He discreetly disposed of the offered food and drink into a (conveniently located) plant. When the sisters went to bed, he pretended to sleep.

At the stroke of midnight, he heard a stirring. Through partially closed eyes, he watched as a portal opened and the sisters began exiting. Throwing on the invisibility cloak, he hurried to follow the youngest sister down the staircase that now descended from their room into a dark wood.

In his rush he accidently stepped on the youngest sisters cloak.

“Ow! Someone stepped on my cloak.” She complained, looking about.

“It must have gotten caught on a nail.” Her eldest sister assured her.

He continued following them into a stunning forest made entirely of silver trees. Amazed, he snapped off a twig.

“What was that?” The youngest sister gasped.

“It’s just the princes, they are so excited to see us that they are cheering.”

They continued down the pathway, entering into a gleaming forest made entirely of gold. After a time, the golden forest gave way to a glittering forest made entirely of diamonds glinting under the moonlight.

Before long, the princesses came to a lake where twelve princes with twelve boats awaited their arrival. The soldier snuck onto the boat of the youngest princess causing the prince rowing their boat to comment upon the princess being heavier then he remembered.

When they finally reached the other side of the lake, they enter an enchanted dance where the princesses danced with the princes the whole night, until their slippers were worn entirely to pieces.

The soldier followed them for the next two nights. On the second night he took a golden twig. Again the youngest heard the snap and complained. Her concerns were put off. On the third night he took a diamond twig that once more does not go unnoticed. At the dance that final night, he took a golden goblet as his final piece of evidence.

The morning of the third day, he went to the king with all that he had found. Elated the king offered the soldier the promised reward, plus the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. The soldier married the eldest princess. And they all lived happily ever after.

But of course there are several holes in this story (as fairytales are wont to have). Holes that several authors answer in interesting and entertaining ways.

Sweet and Swoony Retellings

My Favorite Retellings:

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Rose is one of twelve princesses–sisters condemned to dance every night in the palace of the King Under Stone. Galen is a young soldier returning from war. Together they will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to attend the endless midnight balls. All they need is an invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with silver needles, and that most critical fairy tale ingredient–true love.

This was my first proper exposure to the Twelve Dancing Princesses and will always have a special place in my heart. This book was spell-binding and captivating with surprising twists along the way. All the elements were so beautifully woven that I was convinced that knitting something must have been part of the original tale.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.

I loved this fairytale so much that I was excited to find this second retelling. Juilet Marillier has a lush beautiful way of describing everything. I was transported into this darkly stunning world. It was so well done that it felt not only plausible but real. The characters were lovable and there was a memorable frog! Just writing this makes me want to read this again.

The Midnight Dancers by Regina Doman

Tired of the tight leash that she and her sisters are kept on by their parents, Rachel Durham is seeking for a way out: and one night, she unexpectedly finds one in their Chesepeake Bay home.
As the pull of the night world grows inexorably stronger upon Rachel, her anxious father enlists the aid of Paul Fester (soldier, medic, juggler, and ninja) to find out what his daughters are up to. Paul embarks on a daring but difficult balancing act to win the girls’ trust – before it’s too late.

This book is an exciting and modern twist on the classic tale. I remember it giving me that fairie-portal world feel with a touch of paranormal.

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

A delightful blend of my two favorite fairytales Twelve Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast! I absolutely loved the twist at the end of this book!

My Fairly Dangerous Godmother by Janette Rallison

A fairy godmother can be a dangerous thing.

Some people bomb singing auditions. Sadie throws up on live TV during hers. So yeah, there’s no way she’ll ever be able to face strangers again, let alone the people at her high school.

Her performance on America’s Top Talent is so bad it earns her a fairy godmother through the Magical Alliance’s Pitiful Damsel Outreach Program. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Sadie’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing fairy godmother to save the day—or perhaps make it even more horrible.

Wishes are, after all, unpredictable things.

Janette Rallison became another favorite author when I read her refreshing and hilarious book My Fair Godmother. Imagine my delight when I discovered that her final book in the series meshed “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Little Mermaid”. This is definitely a series I’ve read again and again.

A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier

When Princess Liliana and her twin sister set sail for new lands, she hopes to find adventure and romance. But the people of Marin live under the shadow of a curse–one powerful enough to destroy entire kingdoms. To protect them all, Lily and eleven other princesses are forced to participate in a mysterious and secret tournament.

More recently I was thrilled to discover this unique rendition of the tale. I was sucked in right from the beginning and loved how she made it into a tournament and had twelve contestants as the ‘sisters’. I adored the main character and her twin sister as well as their unexpected connection. When you finish it, you’ll want to immediately grab the next book and read her sisters story!

The Dark King and the Eternal Dance by Alesha Adamson

An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna, and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and this eternal dance.

Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.

An intertwined retelling of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” and of “Hades and Persephone”.

As you might imagine, all the previous books had a hand in inspiring my own retelling. Since it had become one of my favorite retellings, I’d been thinking about how to incorporate it into a fairytale mesh-up idea I had when Camille Peters suggested I join her villain anthology. So of course this idea sprang to mind. Before long, Drake and Rayna had taken up residence in my mind and I’d begun crafting their delightful story.

TBR Retellings:

Kingdom of Dance by Deborah Grace White

Don’t get caught eavesdropping on a dragon—or dancing might be the least of your problems.

With eleven younger sisters, Princess Zinnia usually has little choice but to be responsible. But if she had her way, she’d spend her time exploring the seashore and cavorting with the dragons often found there. When she sees one of those dragons flying mysteriously over her castle one night, the temptation to sneak out after it is too strong to resist. Except, by the time she realizes she doesn’t recognize this dragon, she’s already witnessed something much bigger than she was ready for. And now she’s trapped, her sisters along with her.

After reading the rest of this delightful series I’m eager to begin this last story! Her books are sure to be full of swoony romance and endearing dragons.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by K.M. Shea

Quinn is a loyal soldier of Farset, willing to risk her life on behalf of her country and squad. So, when a fellow soldier volunteers for a dangerous mission, Quinn joins him. Their assignment is to investigate the nightly disappearance of the twelve royal princesses, a mystery none have solved as those who attempt it vanish. But when she follows the girls, Quinn uncovers the truth: the princesses are cursed, and they’re not alone.

If you are familiar with the fairytale romance genre you have probably heard of, or read K.M Shea. This retelling definitely sounds like an exciting and unique tale to add to my pile!

The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doué

A kingdom of shadows. A soldier sworn to protect. A princess silenced by love.

Princess Lily, the eldest of twelve sisters and reluctant heir to a mighty kingdom, struggles to live up to her inheritance … and to free herself from her mother’s matchmaking attempts. While seeking refuge from an overzealous suitor, Lily stumbles into a secret underground kingdom where she meets a mysterious sorcerer-prince. When she and her sisters become entangled in his dangerous curse, she must find a way to end their nightly dances and prove herself worthy of the Firethorn Crown.

Lea was a part of the Villain’s Ever After anthology with me. I read and adored her book Hansel and the Gingerbread Queen and can’t wait to read more of her books. Especially if it is “Twelve Dancing Princesses”! Her rich fantasy world was simply delightful!

Poison’s Dance by Tricia Mingerink

If he falls to the lure of the curse, the dance might trap him forever.

Alex has survived his first year as high king. The new counsel has improved cooperation between the kingdoms, and peace seems achievable. When the Tuckawassee queen sends him an invitation he can’t refuse, Alex must once again face his greatest threat for the sake of peace.

I’m super eager to read this retelling. Another book I read by her was so exiting, I simply couldn’t put it down. I anticipate this book being just as engrossing!

The Thirteenth Princess by Nina Clare

The true story of the twelve dancing princesses has now been recorded…

Thirteen sisters have grown up hidden away by their Uncle, who rules the kingdom by proxy. When the eldest sister marries, her husband will take the throne. But the king has no intention of giving up his crown.

Maybe I’m biased but after working with Nina Clare for the Villain’s Ever After anthology, I’m excited to give this book a try too!

More Dancing Princesses!

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this very popular adaptation. The cover of this book is lovely and I tried to read it several years back but for whatever reason I couldn’t get into it. Perhaps I simply wasn’t in the mood for a retelling at that time. If you read and loved this retelling I’d love to hear what made it a must read for you. Maybe I’ll consider giving it another try.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Jenni James

Twelve princesses, one gardener, and a mysterious secret . . . As the castle gardener, Aleck is paid well, has his own room above the stables, and he is able to support his mother and younger brothers and sisters. Why would he risk it all for one girl? For weeks now, Princess Cascadia and her eleven sisters have awakened each morning to swollen feet and tattered dancing slippers without any recollection of what happened. Why would someone do this to them? 

Jenni James always delivers sweet, entertaining, and quick reads! I’m looking forward to giving this retelling a try.

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she’s the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita’s father banished her to the servants’ quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

This rendition looks adorable.

Pirouette by Kenley Davidson

It was just a dance. But in Caelan, dancing changes everything.
Especially if you’re a princess.

Princess Ilani is cursed. She can no longer dance, and is therefore considered worthless. Forgotten. Invisible.
Until her twelve sisters are trapped in a deadly game with a breathtaking prize—a royal bride and an empire for the taking, if a man is willing to risk everything for a chance to win.

Kenley Davidson’s books seem to have risen in popularity, I’m looking forward to giving her a try soon! (I’m told that there is very minimal language but an over all clean read.)

Mirrored by Alex Flinn

Celine’s life is the stuff fairy tales are made of. She’s beautiful, talented, and brave. Unfortunately, her tale comes complete with a wicked stepmother! When Violet steps into Celine’s life, everything changes and weird things begin to happen to her—bizarre accidents, strange illnesses, and rabid animal attacks. Celine doesn’t feel safe anywhere. It’s almost as if some hateful witch is out to get her.

“Twelve Dancing Princesses” seems to be the back story in this “Snow White” retelling. Any time you read something by Alex Flinn be prepared for all the feels of teenage angst.

Dancer by Kimberly Rogers

A desperate attempt to save a child demands sacrifice.

Imani Tanzer is the closest her young brother has to a mother. When he falls ill due to a vengeful dragoness, it seems almost impossible to save him. Yet when she hears rumors of a dragon healer, Imani risks seeking him out. The dragon gives her a sliver of hope—the curse can be transferred but she and her sisters must leave their family behind forever.

I’ve had several people recommend Kimberly Rogers to me and look forward to reading some of her books!

The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

Under the stars, in a secret world…

Rowena, the youngest of twelve sisters, loves to slip out of the castle at night and dance in a magical forest. Soon she convinces her sisters to join her. When Sir Ethan notices that his daughters’ slippers look tattered every morning, he is certain they’ve been sneaking out. So he posts a challenge to all the suitors in the kingdom: The first man to discover where his daughters have been is free to marry the one he chooses.

A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

A re-telling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” like you’ve never seen before!

For six hundred years I have dwelt in this prison. Trapped. Helpless. Unliving and undying.

For six hundred years I have watched as cursebreakers come and go. Brave young women all, gifted with powers beyond mortal understanding.

I have watched them die. I have watched them wish to die.

Short Stories:

A Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley

 A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in which an old soldier discovers, with a little help from a lavender-eyed witch, the surprising truth about where the princesses dance their shoes to tatters every night.

A book of three short stories the last being the “Twelve Dancing Princesses”. Robin McKinley had always been a favorite read for me. I’m just sad the story is short.

The Dancing Princess by Kendra E Ardnek

Plagued by nightmares for the last few years, Katrine only wanted answers. Instead, she finds herself trapped in a tangled web of melody as she tries to free a cursed king and his brothers. No one deserves existence such as theirs, but dare she risk her very life?

Phew! I made it to twenty-two recommendations. I know that there are even more “Twelve Dancing Princess” retellings and I’m certain more are being written. Drop your favorites in the comments. Which fabulous sweet and swoony retellings did I miss?

* Reader Suggested Recommendations:

A Lonely Dance by Selina R Gonzolez (Mild swearing and violence–Triggers: past abuse off page.)

The Midnight Show by Sarah Pennington

The Dark King’s Curse by Wyn Estelle Owens

Curse of the Midnight King by Yakira Goldsberry

Wrought of Silver and Ravens by E.J. Kitchens

Dancing and Donuts by Rachel Kovaciny a historical western retelling

Happy Reading!

Alesha Adamson

P.S. Would you like to get even more sweet and swoony fairytale and fantasy romance suggestions? Follow my newsletter by clicking the link below!

Author Advice · New Author · The Process · Writing

Alesha’s Secret Sauce: Recipe for a Rough Draft


  • One intriguing idea
  • A healthy heap of excitement
  • A daily dose of writing
  • A dash of direction
  • *Warning: Turn OFF the editing brain. It is not yet time to bake.


Begin with one intriguing idea. Ideas are flourishing everywhere, ripe for the picking, if you know where to look for them. They are hanging in your dreams, growing from life experiences or events, sprouting from words, fairytales or tropes, blossoming from an image, story or show. The places may vary for each individual. However, they cannot be found if you are not looking for them. Rarely do ideas fall out of nowhere and hit you in the head, like the proverbial apple. Unless you’ve already opened your eyes to them. In which case, you may be trying to avoid paying attention to the over-abundance of ideas popping up everywhere you look. Unfortunately, you cannot harvest all of them at once. Thankfully, you can combine some of them making for an even tastier draft! You can also pick your favorites and write them down to save for later.

For those of you struggling to hold on to just one. Never fear. One is all you need. Also please note that looking for the perfect idea may prove difficult, if not impossible. No idea is perfect in its infancy, you must see its potential. That is what you are here for, dear writer, to help bake it into the fabulous story it has the potential to become! Now that you have selected the idea you want to work with, you can begin mixing your rough draft.

Whip your idea with a healthy heap of excitement. If you aren’t feeling excited about it, then no one else will. Everything flows so much better when you are delighted with your idea, trust me. Perhaps it has been a while since you last looked at this particular idea and you find yourself feeling a lack of that former enthusiasm. Perhaps you have been writing this idea for far too long and the flavor has become stale or even sour. Calm down. The idea isn’t necessarily bad—you just need to freshen it up. It might need more time to ripen or you might need a break.

This could be a good time to put it aside and work on something else. Spend a day writing an idea that has sparked your interest, work on fun prompts or even a bit of world building, before returning. Perhaps you need a much longer break. I finally allowed myself a five-year brake from a story that had become particularly sour. This allowed me to finally focus on a new idea and finish what would become my first fully baked novel.

When sludging through your writing and feelings of enthusiasm have waned, consider stirring in another heap of excitement to get you whisking along once more. Renew that passion by building a playlist that reminds you of your book or compile images that resonate with your world. Repeat positive affirmations. Tell yourself how awesome your idea is. Ask yourself why you are such a speedy writer. Remember why you wanted to bake this intriguing idea into a novel. Reread your favorite parts. Remind yourself why you love writing.

Review all the things you originally loved about your idea through journaling—as a friend of mine recently suggested. As you journal you may discover something is missing. Originally you were super stoked about your villain but now the villain isn’t living up to your dream. Good thing this is your rough draft. Keep working the batter. Shift things around and regain that spark that originally drove you! Dive into the scene that has been on your mind or you are feeling stoked about. If you are a linear writer, consider summarizing the scenes you don’t want to write to get to the fun part. You can always fill in the missing parts later.

It is important to note, as you are folding in excitement, that nothing will happen if you are not putting in your daily dose of writing. You must give your idea substance to work with or you will have nothing to bake into a novel. Start off small to make writing a habit. Like other good habits it will become easier with time. Try to schedule a daily writing time—it doesn’t have to be long just regular. If this is not possible with your current schedule, don’t panic! Squeeze writing in at various times during the day, during breaks, during nap time, during those moments you have to yourself before bed or in the morning. The most important thing is to write frequently. Even when you aren’t feeling particularly inspired.

Train your brain to write by using the same writing space. Give yourself goals to work toward. You can do word count goals, page goals, time goals, or even weekly writing goals. Any writing will do, it is not meant to be beautiful. This is your rough draft. It is meant to be fun and messy. Ingredients get spilled on the counter. Pieces get discarded. Flavoring is added at the end. You will clean up the mess later. Putting things away before you are finished with them can create a lot of extra work. The goal is to take your idea and unravel it—until it begins to resemble the story you imagined.

Throughout this process keep in mind my warning. Now is NOT the time for editing! This is a rough draft. It is not ready to bake. No matter how tempting, you must resist. Turn OFF your editing brain. It is exceedingly difficult to fix something half-baked. It is equally difficult to figure out all the ingredients you want to mix in before you know exactly what you are making. You can add spice, flowery words and motifs later. It is unnecessary and nearly impossible to do all of it at once.

Personally, I find it difficult to turn off the editing brain while typing on a computer. It is fine for short papers and blogs, but to complete a whole book, I needed to find a way to stop the perfectionist syndrome and roll the story out. There are a variety of techniques to help. Some authors chose to use various writing programs or platforms, others dictate, using speech to text. I discovered notebook writing. I write my rough draft by hand on a notebook I cut in half. I carry this notebook wherever I go and jot down ideas whenever they strike me. This also allows me to be messy.

I advise you not to delete parts that aren’t working. The wording you use there may help you in your next draft. If you are using a computer, consider striking through or highlighting unwanted sections rather than deleting them. Don’t try and edit or rework them at this time. Simply add a note or start the section anew. In my notebook, I put a bracket around the chunk that went amiss and begin the scene over adding various notes in the margins when necessary. I needn’t figure it out now. I simply make a note and move forward. Forward momentum will move your toward completing your recipe!

As you get going, remember to dust your idea with a dash of direction. When and how much, is up to you. However, it is very difficult to get anything accomplished if you don’t have a general idea of how you want your final product to turn out. There are hundreds of ways this idea could go. Things could get unwieldy. Gently beat it into submission. Whether you are a recipe follower or improv baker, direction is needed. As an improv baker myself, I start with a main idea and a bit of direction then jump right in. When things get tough, I pause to sift in some more direction by creating an informal sort of outline. If I do this, things tend to go much smoother.

There are a myriad of ways to mix an outline—formal or informal. You can create a long, detailed summary of the whole book called a snap-draft. You can form a table or chart, having each box represent a chapter or time frame and add in the corresponding scenes at specific points in the novel. You can do a mind dump, writing down everything you know about the story before organizing it to your liking. You can get to know your characters and world by creating charts, timelines, or family trees. You can storyboard using movable notecards containing all the scenes you know need to happen. Start off with the bigger picture, and fill in the details along the way, or start off with the small details or scenes and built your story out.

Personally, I like to summarize the story using succinct bullet points starting at the beginning and moving from point to point as far as I can, in a linear fashion. When I find myself uncertain what course a character will take, I do what I like to call the A/B scenario—journaling different paths that the characters can take and what will happen if they take each one. Often, I’ll find my answer based on the path that leads to the most thoughts or the outcome that gets me closer to my next plot point. I constantly take notes or talk with friends to slice through and analyze various ideas. This keeps the juices flowing and the excitement levels up.

Chose or combine any of these processes or create your own. Learn from master story bakers. Discover what works best for you. Take the time to find the direction your mind has been searching for. Remember, this is your story. You get to choose how it will go. There may be times when characters do things seemingly of their own accord; however, you can work with that because you are becoming a seasoned story baker, you are now equipped with the secret sauce.

Keep in mind that each writer is different. This can be both frustrating and freeing. Frustrating as you struggle to determine how you work best and freeing when you realize you don’t have to write in a certain way to be successful! However, these key ingredients seem to be universal. An intriguing idea whipped with a healthy heap of excitement, given a daily dose of writing, all dusted with a dash of direction will help you complete your recipe for a rough draft, moving you closer to baking up the novel you’ve been dreaming of.

Happy writing!

Author Advice · New Author · The Process · Writing

Four Tips for Aspiring Authors

1. Write! 

I know this sounds obvious, but all your ideas will remain just that—ideas, until you set pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write it down. We make time for the things that are important to us. If writing a book in important to you, make the time. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go. When I have a thought or idea, I jot it down. I can write on my break or while waiting for something. You don’t need to carve out hours and hours to write. Time is everywhere if we know how to look for it. 

Write often! Some authors prefer to write at the same time every day or in the same location. Some set word goals or page goals, while others write for a set amount of time or number of days a week. For a while I had a goal to write something (even if it was one word) five days a week. See what works best for you. Have fun! Celebrate your successes! 

2. Resist the urge to revise! 

That piece of advice I kept getting but took forever to follow… Yep, it has made all the difference. After thirteen years of writing and writing without ever finishing anything, I suddenly had a manuscript within a matter of months. 

A rough draft is meant to be rough. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to sound good, in fact, at times, it doesn’t even have to make sense (that is what the second draft is for). The goal here is to get that amazing story that is floating around in your head out, and on to paper. I have found that handwriting my first draft helps to turn off my critical brain and allows the story to flow. Do what works for you. I promise when you resist the urge to revise, magic will happen! 

3. Believe you can achieve! 

You have to believe it to achieve it. If you don’t believe it will happen then it never will. Everything we do and become started out as a thought, going to school, getting a job etc. Then it became an action and that action made it into a reality. Why would writing a book be any different? Do you want to be a published author? Imagine it happening.   

One large step on my journey was committing to be a part of A Villain’s Ever After anthology. I knew others were counting on me. When I wasn’t progressing very fast, I had to question my process and do something different. I started telling everyone that I was going to publish in 2021. I started calling myself an author. I got the cover for my book and really started to visualize it happening—an informal sort of vision board. (A vision board is where you post pictures of your dreams in a prominent location and visualize them happening.) 

Get really clear on what you want to do with your novel. What do you need to do to feel it, see it, taste it, and visualize it happening? You can make your novel a reality. 

4. Invest in yourself! 

After putting all that time and energy into writing your novel, I’d imagine you want to get it out there. First, get clear about what you want. Do you just want to share it with friends and family? Great, invest the time and money into binding it and getting it out. (My grandparents have created several family history books that I treasure.) 

Do you want to try the traditional or self-publish route? Great, find someone who is successful doing what you’d like to do and learn all you can from them. However, beware of the get rich quick scheme and paying someone to publish your book for you, they should be paying you. Read carefully through anything before ever signing your name. 

If you’d like to self-publish, invest your time into editing your book then invest in a good cover and a good editor. If it looks professionally done and sounds professionally done—with an enticing blurb—readers will be more likely to want to purchase it. 

I also feel that it is important to invest in a good group of beta readers and ARC readers. My beta readers were friends and family who I felt comfortable reading my book before it was complete. They told me their thoughts, feelings and opinions about my book. I was able to discover problems that I was unable to see on my own and fix them before ever publishing my book. ARC (advanced reader’s copy) readers are people who you don’t know. You give them your book for free, and usually before it comes out, in exchange for a true and honest review. They help promote your book and leave reviews on Amazon and other platforms to help other readers see if they would be interested in reading your book. It also helps with your ranking on Amazon.

There are many ins and outs of publishing. Invest your time and possibly money into finding those recourses and studying what it is you will need to do to be successful. 

Good luck and happy writing! 

Dyslexia · My Books · My Story · New Author · Writing

Accidental Author

I never set out to be an author. The whole thing happened quite by accident.

In fact, if you had asked me what I wanted to be as a child, an author would have been the last thing on my mind. Don’t get me wrong I loved stories, at least in the form of dramatic play with my dolls, Barbie’s, stuffed animals or anything that was cute and needed a story. However, books were quite a mystery. Why anyone bothered to read those boring words was beyond me. I much preferred movies and my own made-up stories. Reading was much too hard.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I developed a love of reading (mainly due to my mother and sister, but that is another story). As my sister began reading to me, I suddenly realized that those words unfolded a whole new world of adventure, magic and fun. I simply couldn’t get enough of it.

Then in middle school the writing bug started to infect all my friends, especially as they discovered Harry Potter fan fiction. It seemed that all anyone could talk about was writing and Harry Potter. Several of my friends had decided that writing fan fiction was just the thing. We all had to do it! I quietly protested that writing our own stories was much better than using someone else’s ideas, but they couldn’t be swayed. We must get started right away and we could do it together.

Thus, the Harry Potter fanfic notebook was born. One day I was handed a blue notebook and told it was my turn to write the next part of the story. Four of us would be contributing to this tale. Nothing much was discussed other than we each had our own characters and would write the next part of the story when our turn came. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far. We passed the notebook around for a few weeks before things started to taper off. Two of the girls may have continued on, but I was much too concerned with having some kind of cohesive plot, so I didn’t mind when my next turn never came.

However, it did encourage many of us to start writing our own stories. I decided to start my own unique adventure. There was no need to copy some story that had already been told. My story was about a young girl (much like me) who was kidnapped by the evil villain, who had been following her and her friends (uncannily similar to my own friends) all around town. I wrote and wrote until nearly half the notebook was filled, except then I couldn’t figure out what to do once she had been kidnapped and was being transported to another world. I couldn’t wait to get to the other world but what to do while in the middle of space with only her kidnapper for company. Just how did one fill in all the middle bits?

In a fit of irritation and disillusionment, I tore the notebook into pieces. Whatever was happening was so bad that I didn’t think it was even worth saving. There were a few other weak attempts to rewrite the story, all met with failure.

Then one unsuspecting day in twelfth grade Humanities, my dabble with writing long forgotten, we were given an assignment to write our own creation myth. Excited, I started in on a story about the creation of fairies. I had this whole plan with how I was going to incorporate all of the elements that were needed.

Then I put fingers to the keyboard and… nothing.

I was stumped. How does one begin such a thing? Then pulling upon years of English class and the five-paragraph essay, I began. Except, unfortunately it sounded exactly like an English essay and nothing like a story, myth or otherwise.

Discouraged, I deleted the page I had managed to type and sighed. Writing a myth was turning out to be much more complicated than I had expected. Finally, after seeking help from several friends, I closed my eyes, pictured a scene, and began to write.

Thus, the dock scene was born. I imagined a girl sitting upon a dock watching the sunset. A name even popped into my head, Nyah. Footsteps echoed against the wood of the dock as they did in my mind and the scene continued to flow. Before I knew it, I had written several pages and class was over.

Except, as the days passed and I continued to think about my myth and slowly add to it, I began to worry. This whole thing felt much too large. How would I ever finish it on time? Besides, I felt like the story was straining to be more than a just creation myth.

Then one unsuspecting afternoon, my Humanities teacher announced that we didn’t have time to finish our myths, and after much deliberation, she had decided to cancel the assignment. However, if anyone wished to finish on their own time, then it would be extra credit.

I rejoiced. This was too good to be true. My myth had been set free! I no longer needed to force it into specific parameters. I could make it into the novel it had been yearning to become. Eagerly I typed out several more pages. Until I realized that I needed a new plot and more information to continue. Besides, I was getting ready to graduate, there simply wasn’t time to worry about writing a myth. So, there it sat for several months, waiting, but not quite forgotten.

I graduated and headed to college excited to start this new chapter of my life, writing a novel was far from my thoughts. Then during a fateful four hour bus ride home for the holidays, I had nothing to do but think, and nothing better to think about then the myth turned novel that had been stewing in the back of my mind for the better part of a year. Over the course of that bus ride, an exciting and complex plot began unfolding: Complete with magic, romance, plot twists, and a truly evil villain. Gone were the fairies (but maybe not completely) and a new story began to emerge.

I kept writing, slowly but surely, determined to finish this story that seemed to keep materializing. I wasn’t very far into it when I realized that several elements of this story were similar to many of the stories I had previously attempted to write, something about this tale was longing to be written.

About a year and a half later, I took a creative writing class and suddenly my myth turned novel began to take off. Thirty pages turned to sixty and sixty pages turned to ninety while the story continued to grow. Although this particular story (now a three-book series) still isn’t entirely finished, through writing this book, I discovered a joy of writing that I never thought possible and a barrage of story ideas just waiting to be written.

I will forever be grateful for that twelfth grade Humanities teacher who unknowingly provided me with an outlet to discover a talent I never knew I had. Without her, I never would have accidentally started a novel and discovered a love of writing that has prompted me to write several more stories and truly become an author.