Book Review: ‘Dyrwolf’ by Kat Kinney

‘Dyrwolf’ is a highly original and very compelling story of a young woman learning who she is and what matters most to her in the face of challenges and adversity. 

Lea Wylder is a complex and interesting character who has much to learn about trust, plagued as she is by questions of identity and loyalty, and caught up in the struggle for survival that encumbers the village in which she lives. Although she definitely has her flaws, her loyalty, resilience and integrity make her an admirable hero and a positive role model for teens and young adults, a demographic that is often confronted by questions and  issues similar to those explored in this book.

A very engaging and thought-provoking read that captivated me from the start, ‘Dyrwolf’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here. 

Author Interview: J. S. Frankel

My guest today is Jesse Frankel, author of amazing SciFi adventure stories for Young Adults and New Adult readers.

Jesse is no stranger on my book blog or my bookshelf: his book ‘Ether‘ won the Golden Squirrel Book of the Year Award in 2018, and ‘The Incredible Aunty Awesomesauce‘ won the Golden Squirrel Award for YA Science Fiction.

Welcome, Jesse! I feel very privileged to be talking with you.

Hi Squirrel! It’s great to be here, even if your introduction did make me blush.

You’re very welcome. What inspired you to write?

My older son—he was ten at the time—had just seen a cartoon, something about trees. He said, “Papa, wouldn’t it be great if trees talked?” That gave me an idea, and that eventually became The Tower, my first novel.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Oh, wow, there have been so many! The Catnip series, Ether, The Auctioneer, and Fight Like A Woman are standouts for me, along with Twisted.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

The ‘Friday’ books— ‘Curious Things’ and ‘Curious Times’ by Joanne Van Leerdam, along with ‘An Enlightening Quiche’ by Eva Pasco.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Probably ‘An Enlightening Quiche’ as well as ‘The Forest’ by Julia Blake.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m re-editing an old novel and hoping to submit it soon

Who designs your book covers?

Most of my covers were designed either by Carmen Waters (the Catnip series) or Martine Jardin, who’s done my latest works. Both cover artists are superb!

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I’ll listen to anything save rap.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

My honeymoon. My wife and I went to Spain and it was amazing! The history, the food, the people… perfect.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Star Trek, TOS. Nothing else comes close.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Lots, but any of the superhero flicks are great. I loved Ready Player One, and I’m an old Biblical movies buff.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“You’re born alone and you die alone. It’s what you do in between that matters.” That was from my father. Perhaps he heard it from someone else, but it’s always resonated with me.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

My parents, who taught me to be a good person, and my wife, who is my strength.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

It ain’t easy! Some people have the misconception that indie authors aren’t good, that they’re lazy or hurting the industry…they have very negative views.
To be fair, some authors have an I-don’t-care attitude, but the vast majority I know are hard-working, productive individuals who genuinely care about what they write and the industry they’re in.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Selling books and editing!

One day someone will say “cracking acorns open” and I’ll be able to help them with that… sigh.
Say, where can readers find your books?

My books are widely available, so they’re in all the online stores, but the most common places people get them would be Amazon or my publisher’s website, Devine Destinies. Just look for J.S. Frankel and you’ll find them.

And where can we follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for being here today, Jesse!

Thanks for making me welcome!



Book Review: ‘The Queen’s Poisoner’ by Jeff Wheeler

This is a fascinating story – the entirely original characters, locations and magical elements make it fantasy, yet it is overlaid on a foundation of elements of history in The Wars of the Roses and the life story of the English king Richard III. The way in which those historical elements are drawn upon and interwoven throughout the story and rich layers of complexity and interest to the story. The reader becomes deeply engaged in the story as it unfolds, particularly when the key characters are faced with danger or discovery.

The characters are vividly portrayed, crafted to engage the reader’s empathy for the protagonist, a young boy named Owen, and those who prove themselves his friends. There is also a good range of characters for whom the reader enjoys contempt and significant distrust— indeed, disliking them is actually a pleasurable experience.

The Audible narration of the book is clearly read and quite expressive, although occasionally sounds a little flat and stilted – perhaps in contrast to the great use of voice and tone to deliver effective characterisation when the characters speak. While this may cause trifling annoyance for the listener from time to time, it  did not prove to be an issue sufficient to really affect the listener’s enjoyment of the story itself. 

The first novel in what promises to be a most excellent and enjoyable series, The Queen’s Poisoner has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ by Claire Buss

‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ is a delightful short story from Roshaven, the setting of the author’s’ fantasy novel, The Rose Thief.

Central characters Ned Spinks and Jenni the Sprite return with their quirky brand of investigation when a mysterious shop appears in Roshaven. Of course, nothing is straightforward and their endeavours to solve the mystery being about more mayhem than they anticipated.

This is a fun story for all ages that can be enjoyed in less than half an hour. It does work.as a standalone story: prior knowledge of Roshaven and its residents is not essential to understanding and enjoyment of ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’, but readers who have not yet read The Rose Thief will very likely want to after this brief taste of Buss’s enchanting storytelling.

This excellent short story has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Abandoned’ by Tim Walker

A great historical fiction novella to introduce Tim Walker’s ‘A Light in the Dark Ages’ series.

Set at the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, ‘Abandoned’ tells the story of the settlement of Calleva Atrebatum, and the determination of its people to resist the fearsome invading  Saxon raiding parties who threaten their home and their lives. 

This is a story of bravery and commitment, and of townsfolk uniting for a common cause. The danger they face is very real, and in their determination to survive and overcome, the reader witnesses both the best and worst of human nature. 

The story gives us a realistic and thought-provoking view of a period of history that is little-known to most, and foreshadows the rest of Walker’s series which continues to tell the story of post-Roman England and those who seek to  not only live there but also to control it.

Walker’s storytelling is fluid and lively, full of action, adventure and intrigue. The cast of characters is varied and interesting, ranging from slaves to the ranks of Briton members of the Roman army who, like their countrymen, were left behind when the Romans evacuated to Gaul. 

At the end of this novella, the reader is left feeling as though they have become an ally of the people of Calleva Atrebatum, and keen to discover what happens next in the following book in the series. 

‘Abandoned’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘A Stag In The Shadows’ by S.E. Turner

The fourth book in S.E. Turner’s Kingdom of Durundal series is an excellent read.

“So many paths cross and entwine with another, and then each one returns to its starting point.” 

Ajeya’s words to Dainn are true of both what they observe at that point in the story, and of the story itself. ‘A Stag In The Shadows’ is as compelling and breathtaking a story as the three books that precede it in Turner’s Kingdom of Durundal series, but it also draws together the threads of the stories from each one and reveals the bigger picture of the whole tapestry. In this, it is very satisfying to readers who have followed the series from the beginning, yet it is not the end as there are still questions to be answered and mysteries remaining to be solved in the following book. 

Even for readers who have not read the rest of the series, this book is independent enough of the others to be a most enjoyable read, although it is fair to say that those who have read the previous instalments will get more out of it.  

The reader becomes involved in this story early on, and develops a strong sense of allegiance with the characters by the time the tensions really start to rise. Just like the characters do, the reader must wait for each development and revelation to occur as the story unfolds, once again positioning characters and reader alongside one another and against those who threaten them.  There is drama and action aplenty to balance the waiting and suspense. 

‘A Stag In The Shadows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology

A great collection for Holiday reading.

The Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology is a wonderful family-friendly collection of holiday themed short stories that embrace diversity and explore a variety of ways in which different families and individuals celebrate Christmas.

Each of these stories and poems gives a different perspective that encourages the reader to consider a different point of view to their own, and provides an opportunity for reflection as well as entertainment. 

The stories in this book are written for readers of varying age groups, and so provide some lovely opportunities for family reading and sharing together. 

I very much enjoyed the two afternoons I spent reading these stories, and am pleased to award this book a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here