Book Review: Waking The Dragon by Susan Day

A delightful and fun read for kids and families.

‘Waking the Dragon’ is a fun and exciting adventure story for kids, revolving around a group of dogs who work undercover as dog rescuers in an organization that is the kid-friendly canine equivalent of CSI.

The story is written with good humour that kids will enjoy, and a plot that will keep them guessing. The characters are engaging and likeable — even the cats, who harbour less-than-honourable intentions!

One aspect of this book that I really appreciated is the Australian element that appears in both the settings and the storyline. In a world full of books set in America or major world cities, it’s very refreshing to find a kids’ book set in one of my favorite regional Australian cities. This is great for Australian kids, but should also add interest for readers from other countries in which Australia is a source of interest and fascination.

Waking The Dragon is Book 10 in theAstro’s Adventures series by Susan Day.  This book – in fact, this series of books – would make a great addition to any school or local library, and would be a wonderful choice for both individual and family reading at home.

Find ‘Waking The Dragon’ on Amazon.

Author Interview: Catherine Weaver

Book Squirrel meets Catherine Weaver, the author of the Island of California fantasy books for kids of all ages.

Interview Orange

Welcome to another Book Squirrel Author Interview, in which Book Squirrel meets Catherine Weaver, the author of the Island of California books, which are fantasy books set in the present day Silicon Valley area and the magical Island of California.

Welcome, Catherine!

Thank you, Book Squirrel. It’s lovely to meet you!

Tell us, Catherine, what kind of audience you write for.

My books were written for middle-grade readers and have absolutely nothing in them that is not family-friendly. Kids who have read the books so far really like them, and most adults who have read them like them, too.

That’s great! It’s true that the best kids’ books are loved by adults as well.

Yes, there’s a child in all of us.

Or, at least, a very cute little squirrel. 

Yes, of course!

Are your books all in a series, or are they single titles?

The novels, Gold Dust and Phoenix Down, and I am currently working on the third in the series, Dragon Oil.

I also have two books of short stories: Tales From the Island of California, and More Tales From the Island of California.

What inspired you to write?

I come from a family of writers. My mother, Jane Blue, is a poet, and her mother wrote articles for newspapers in San Francisco, so I grew up with the idea that writing was something people do. But what really inspired me to actually start writing books was my huge love of reading, plus my love of the San Francisco Bay Area. I read lots and lots of books that I loved, but noticed there was a distinct lack of fantasy books set in the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley, which I feel are among the most magical places on Earth, and I wished I could read a book like that. Since I couldn’t find them, I decided to write them.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I like them all, but have a special place in my heart for my first book, Gold Dust.

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

Ask me this on a different day and I will give you a different answer. I am a voracious reader and I have a lot of favorites. Right now I’m reading Ready Player One, which I am enjoying very much. I just finished Anansi Boys, which I feel is a perfect book. I also think most of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett are perfect. I completely loved The Martian and can’t wait for the sequel. The Thin Man is one of the best books ever written. The Harry Potter books are likewise amazing. When I was a kid, I read and re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy to a point where I had them memorized, and the same goes for the Chronicles of Narnia. There are many more.

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

Today I have to say Ready Player One.

What are you working on writing now?

The third book in my series, which is called Dragon Oil.

Do you have any books planned that feature… you know… squirrels?

Uh… no. Sorry.

It’s okay. It’s never too late, you know.

I’ll keep that in mind.

Thanks.
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

When I went to Switzerland and stayed with friends in Yverdon near Lausanne, rented an Alpha Romeo, and drove all over the french part of Switzerland, then down the Rhone Valley in France to Marseille, staying in Valence on the way.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I really hate prejudice, greed and the way artists are devoured by the machine. I also hate religious, cultural and gender discrimination. These things are addressed in my writing, in a way that is palatable for kids. My books are full of humor, so the things I hate are not hit over anyone’s head.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An architect.

Cool!
What’s your favourite season? Why?

I like autumn the best because it’s sunny but not too hot, the air smells of wood fires, and the low sunlight slanting through the turning leaves is beautiful.
And all those lovely nuts!
Absolutely!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Terry Pratchett, Dashiell Hammet, JRR Tolkien

Great choices! 

Thanks!

Where can we follow you on social media?I’m on Facebook and Twitter and I also have a webpage.

You’re also welcome to check out my Amazon author page, which has all of my books on it.

Just click through on the links.

Thanks for being here today, Catherine. 

Thank you for having me!

Book Review: ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ by Eric Tanafon

Six stars out of five: an amazing book, magnificently written!

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

No sooner had I started reading ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ than I had to stop and experience the moment. I had just read an extraordinarily beautiful sentence: “The forest clearing was a web of moonlight and shadows.”

What perfect imagery!  It is simple and direct, but powerfully evocative at the same time.

In that moment, I was there. I had been transported to that forest clearing and drawn into the world of the story, even before I knew anything else about it.

This is the magic a writer works when wielding the wand that is their pen.

Eric Tanafon Robin Hood Wolf's Head

Tanafon continues to cast these spells with magnificent imagery throughout this book. As tales are told and the various storylines develop, the author provides the reader with a feast of sensory morsels that both satisfy and delight the reader.

At times, such images can be consumed at speed. Others, like this one, demand more thoughtful digestion to fully appreciate the skill in Tanafon’s craft:

“The autumn day had dawned softly, with light mists gathered around the sun like a veil. In the late morning the forest was still sweet and moist, haunted by the ghosts of decaying leaves.”

As a writer, I lost count of the times I read a sentence or two and thought to myself, “I wish I had written that!”

Tanafon’s genius in reinventing the story of Robin Hood as a paranormal adventure is equally as enchanting as his writing. The stories of Robin Hood, his band of followers and of their enemies are interwoven, not as a braid but as a rich tapestry. Thus the old stories are retold, stripping back the gloss of legend and hero worship and offering the reader a far more thought-provoking and deeply engaging retelling of the famous tales.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s not just a fantastic read: this is literature absolutely worthy of the top shelf.

Available on Amazon.

Author Interview: Micayla Lally

 

Interview Purple

Welcome to another Book Squirrel Author Interview!
Today I’m speaking with Micayla Lally, author of ‘A Work of Art’. 

Welcome, Micayla! 

Hi, Book Squirrel! Lovely to meet you!

What inspired you to write?

I have always been a writer – grabbing spare dot-matrix computer paper from the box to write stories during recess in elementary school. But I finally got serious for NaNoWriMo 2015 and have completed 5 novels since then, including publishing my debut in May this year.

Cover A Work Of Art

 

So ‘A Work of Art’ is the first one published? 

Yes.

 

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I tend to like each recent story better than the last, perhaps because I have learned more since writing the last one. Right now I’m editing something to send to an agent and I really love the ending, so it would have to be that one. It’s called ‘Flirting With Disaster’.

 

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

There are too many to name! But my recent favourite is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and then a list of Stephen King books that would go on forever,

 

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

*consults Goodreads*  I’ve read a bunch of fantastic books this year, but recent highlights are Girl In Between by Anna Daniels and The Radleys by Matt Haig.

 

What are you working on writing now?

My work in progress doesn’t have a title save for the character’s names – Sebastian and Isolde. It’s a story about finding love in the midst of emotional chaos. He’s a player who has to grow up and she’s returned to work after pregnancy loss and depression.

 

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Our vacations tend to be a bit fraught since we have 3 energetic boys and stuff just happens, you know? Our most recent vacation was to Scotland where our luggage was lost by the airline for 5 days, but luckily I had our clothes in the carry-on because we were renewing our vows at Gretna Green!

 

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I’m starting to feel old and crotchety so I do have some pet hates, but it seems to be small personal things that other people do. I am writing them into a character that I have a feeling will teach the other main character a lesson about love and patience, but it’s still an idea at this stage.

 

What movie can you watch over and over again?

The Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, but probably anything with Keanu Reeves.

 

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A housewife, a teacher, a secretary, a writer. I’ve been lucky enough to do all of those things.

 

What’s your favourite season? Why?

To be honest, I love them all and love that I can experience them all in Oregon, USA, the seasons are so full here, though this summer and been super hot and it seemed to drag on forever. Autumn might by my least fave because of all the pumpkin spice stuff everywhere, but on the other hand – sweaters!

 

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Making time for everything and eating as much as I want.

 

Are you willing to give us a teaser about your book?

When Julene returns from a whirlwind trip overseas discovering art and professional passions, she quickly learns the love she shared with her ex Samson never quite waned — but can she trust him again?

 

Oooh! Intrigue! 

You bet!

 

Don’t trust him, Julene! Don’t do it! 

I’m not sure that helped, Squirrel…

 

She can’t say I didn’t try. 

That’s true.

 

Where can we get a copy of ‘A Work Of Art’?

Readers can order my book in most local bookstores, but it’s also available online at:

Book Depository 

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble 

 

Where can readers stalk… I mean, follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Readers can also check out my website at www.micaylalally.net

 

Thanks for joining me today, Micayla! 

Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

 

Book Review: ‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ by Lacie Dearie

A delightfully feline short story.

‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ is a delightful short story in which a cat takes on the role of detective to solve a mystery that unfolds very close to his home.

It’s written with good humor and clever characterization of the protagonist and his animal friends, feline and otherwise, who help him find the pieces of the puzzle and find the culprit he seeks. 
Suitable for any reader from young adult upwards, this story is a short read but contains enough charm and interest to engage a reader and entertain their imagination.

‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ and others in the series are available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Rite Of Wands’ by Mackenzie Flohr

Mackenzie Flohr has created a beautiful world of magical kingdoms in which ambition and conspiracy work to undermine the rightful order and overthrow the rule of the rightful king.

The story is populated by beautifully complex characters, among whom Mierta McKinnon and Orlynd O’Brien take the lead roles. Very few of the characters are transparent at all, so the story keeps on developing interest and intrigue as it progresses. The very fact that Mierta is so complicated and driven a character draws the reader into his thoughts and aspirations, and engages one deeply in the events of the story as they unfold.

It would be too simplistic to say that this is a story of a battle between good and evil. It may be so, but there are nuances and shades of truth and revelation, and of injustice and vindication, that obscure some elements of the characters and of the story so that the reader is never really able to foresee or predict what is yet to come. In this story, the only thing that is sure is that anything could happen. 
The story finished at a logical point of resolution, although I really didn’t want it to. A number of questions, both incidental and central to the story, remain to be answered in future books. I’m very keen for the next book!

All in all, this is shaping up to be the series I have been waiting for since I finished reading Harry Potter the seventh time over. It’s not more of the same – the world, the characters and the problems they face are very different, but The Rite Of Wands does capture the imagination in the same fantastic, magical way.

The Rite Of Wands is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

Book Review: The Dragon Warrior Of Kri by Lyra Shanti

An enthralling tale of self-discovery and destiny that will leave readers wanting more.

Lyra Shanti Dragon Warrior of Kri

An enthralling tale of self-discovery and destiny.

Set in the complex and dynamic world of Shanti’s Shiva XIV series, The Dragon Warrior of Kri is a powerful short story that explores part of the early life of Meddhi, whom we meet as an older man in the Shiva XIV novels.

It’s a thought-provoking storyline enriched by beautifully written sensory detail and powerful undercurrents of love, self-discovery and rising to meet the challenges of one’s destiny.

The characters are vivid and engaging, each one portrayed as complex, highly individual, and conflicted both by their own flaws and by others’ expectations of them. This makes them highly relatable, and keeps the reader hoping that their favorite will prevail.

Shanti is a master of world building and story telling. Her writing draws the reader into this world and envelopes them in the drama and crisis points of the story so effectively that it’s hard to put the book down.

Although it is a short story that fully complements the Shiva XIV series, it works perfectly well as a standalone story.

New readers should consider themselves warned, though: this book will leave them wanting more. Thankfully, Shanti’s novels and other stories set in the same world are able to provide exactly that.

The Dragon Warrior of Kri is available on Amazon.

Read the Book Squirrel’s author spotlight on Lyra Shanti.