Book Review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

This is a book that delivers the full gamut of emotions through the course of Della’s story. It’s a well-written and very satisfying read.

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Some people find it easy to leave the past behind. Others cling to the parts of it that hold precious memories or give them comfort. Both types of folks exist in this beautiful story of loss, grief, and finding oneself among that which remains.

 

When love, trust, and Della’s understanding of her own family are called into question,  the reader is reminded just how rare personal integrity can be, and just how profoundly it speaks for itself to others who value it.  The reader finds themselves silently cheering for Della every time she resists the type of mediocrity to which she seems to have been relegated since she was a child, and rejoicing with her when she overcomes her challenges and does something truly extraordinary.

 

This is a book that delivers the full gamut of emotions through the course of Della’s story. It’s a well-written and very satisfying read.

 

Acorn Award I GoldenThe Bookshop On Rosemary Lane has been awarded one of Book Squirrel’s shiny Gold Acorns.

 

Find it on Amazon.

Author Interview: Ammar Habib

Book Squirrel chats today with Ammar Habib, a bestselling and award winning author of paranormal suspense thrillers.

Interview Red

Book Squirrel chats today with Ammar Habib, a bestselling and award winning author of paranormal suspense thrillers.

Ammar Habib Photo.JPG

Welcome, Ammar. It’s a privilege to have you here today. 

Thank you, Book Squirrel! It’s a rare thing to be interviewed by a squirrel!

What can I say? I’m a rare squirrel. 

You certainly are.

Thanks! So tell me, what inspired you to write?

The one book that inspired me to become a writer is Og Mandino’s The Choice. I read the book when I was seven-years-old and it is what put me onto the path of becoming a writer and inspired the dream to one day have millions of copies of my books sold around the world.

Outside of books, the other main thing that acting as a catalyst for my writing was my 2nd Grade Teacher at AP Beutel, Mrs. Scott. When I was in her class years ago, she gave me a homework assignment to write a one-page story. This was the first time I ever wrote anything. That experience breathed the love of writing into me and I’ve never stopped since!

I’ve also discovered that I’m not the first author in my family. My great-grandfather was a writer after his career as a police officer in India ended. My maternal grandmother was also a writer, having some of her works published in the newspaper. Although my own mother was not a writer, she has her Master’s degree in Fine Art. So I think this artistic capability probably runs in the family too.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I like to say that my favorite and best book is always my next project!

What are you working on writing now?

I actually have quite a few projects in different stages of development. I recently signed a contract for a children’s picture book, which will be releasing next year. I also have a police novel releasing next year as well. My agent is shopping around a Young Adult novel and is also shopping around a non-fiction project of mine. I also have a graphic novel being read by some publishers. So 2018 will be very exciting God-Willingly!

Who designs your book covers?

As of right now, most of my book covers have been created by Fiona Jayde.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite kind of music in terms of genre. I’m more particular about lyrics and making sure that I listen to something that isn’t going to drag me down mentally. However, I definitely use music to my advantage when writing and find that listening to music that mirrors the type of scene I’m writing helps me nail down the tone of the scene!

So, you are what you listen to?

That’s one way of looking at it!

 What movie can you watch over and over again?

Hands down, it’s The Last Samurai. I love that movie from the characters to setting to plot to theme. The ending still gets me on the edge of tears, even though I’ve watched this movie many times. This film was actually the inspiration for the graphic novel script I recently wrote.

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

Ever since I was seven, one of my dreams was to one day become a New York Times Bestselling author! I’m still excited about continuing to strive towards that dream.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

Here’s a quote from President John Quincy Adams: “Duty is ours. Results are Gods.” I love this quote because it reminds me not to worry about the results of my action. I just need to do the best I can and keep my intentions pure, and then leave the outcomes up to a higher power.

I like that. It’s very inspirational.

I agree.

Speaking of inspiration, name three people you admire, and give reasons.

There are definitely more than three people I admire and look up to, but I’ll just keep it at three for the sake of space. The first two are a couple, my father and mother. They’re my heroes in life and gave me the foundation to pursue my dream.

The third would be my brother. He is my best friend and #1 fan and I cannot explain what his support has meant to me through every step of this journey as a writer! Without these three people in my life, I would not be the person I am today and the person I am becoming tomorrow.

They sound like great people. We should all be so lucky.

Indeed!

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Here’s an answer that most authors can definitely relate with:

1) Getting a publishing deal
2) Raising awareness of your books.

Both are sometimes equally hard as the other and something to celebrate upon achievement. But thankfully as I continue to work in the industry, I’ve gotten more opportunities for both and am continuing to grow more proficient at my craft. All this leads towards growing closer to my dream of becoming a New York Times Bestselling author in the near future!

Where can readers buy your books?

My books are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

And where can we follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ammarahsenhabib
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmmarAHabib1
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ammar.a.habib/
Blog: ammarhabibblog.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ammar_Habib

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cTopbv

Thanks for being here today, Ammar. 

Thanks for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: ‘The Gift’ by Rhonda Hopkins

This Christmas story challenges the reader to assess their values and priorities, and to remember what is most important in life. 

What do we sacrifice for success without realising? Rhonda Hopkins The Gift
When his life is thrown into turmoil with no notice two weeks before Christmas, Robert faces a number of challenges he had never anticipated. The choices he makes will be the difference between success or failure as a father and family man.
The story itself is well-written and nicely developed. I wasn’t expecting the ending to happen as it did, but the ability to surprise a  reader thus is one mark of a good writer.  ‘The Gift’ is an enjoyable and rewarding short read.
This Christmas story challenges the reader to assess their values and priorities, and to remember what is most important in life.
Silver Acorns
Book Squirrel gives this book a Silver Acorn.
Find ‘The Gift’ on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Team Holly’ by Jane Jago

The mutual love and respect between two young men and their stepmother is the beacon of hope for the dysfunctional family at the centre of this story.

 

 

Jane Jago Team Holly
The mutual love and respect between two young men and their stepmother is the beacon of hope for the dysfunctional family at the centre of this story.  Jago has masterfully created a lovable and realistic pair of heroes and very effectively positions the reader as a member of ‘Team Holly’ as the story begins to unfold.

This book serves to remind us that neither families nor individuals are perfect, and that those fractures that are often easier to overlook at other times of the year often come into acute focus at Christmas.

Its dark themes add depth and gravity to this powerful story, beautifully crafted with wonderful writing that draws the reader into the family home and holds them there, a silent witness of awkward, painful and tender moments alike.
Golden Acorns

‘Team Holly’ is fully deserving of a shiny Gold Acorn.
Find this great book at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Father Winter’ by Eric Tanafon

This Yule story is fantastic in both senses of the word. In ‘Father Winter’, Eric Tanafon takes the reader on a magical journey to the Great White North in which ancient mysteries and secrets of life are revealed.

This Yule story is fantastic in both senses of the word. In ‘Father Winter’, Eric Tanafon takes the reader on a magical journey to the Great White North in which ancient mysteries and secrets of life are revealed.

Eric Tanafon Father Winter

I chose this book because I enjoyed Tanafon’s ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ so much. I was delighted to discover another gem that I could treasure. Once again, I found the author’s writing is so expressive and evocative that the story played like a film in my mind as I was reading, especially the northern night scenes.

The characters are beautifully crafted and seem to spring to life off the page. Connor is a troubled teen and Holly his younger sister who just wants Connor to be on Father Winter’s “good” list. Through their respective journeys, they encounter a variety of people and creatures who help them to discover and achieve what they need to, each in their own different way.

Golden Acorns

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for any day of the year, but especially for December reading.
I’ve given it a delicious Gold Acorn.

‘Father Winter’ is available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘100 Wild Mushrooms’ by Eva Pasco

Eva Pasco 100 Wild Mushrooms

‘100 Wild Mushrooms’ presents readers with one hundred chapters of nostalgia and memoir from the 1960s. Food, music, TV shows, comic books, toys, fashion, crazes, world events, celebrities and recollections of personal experience combine to form a most enjoyable trip down memory lane.

I really enjoyed the diversity and range of the topics in this book. Not content to merely entertain me, these memories carried me away to a different time where life seemed much more straightforward than it often seems to be today.

Written with good humour and warmth, This is a delightful collection that will appeal to a wide audience, especially those who were there but may not always remember much!

In Eva Pasco’s own words, “simply remembering a few of our favourite things meandering along Memory Lane is a trip worth taking.”

Golden Acorns
I’ve given this book a lovely Golden Acorn Award.

‘100 Wild Mushrooms’ is available on Amazon.

Book Squirrel Review: Christmas Miracle at Easter by R.M. Gauthier

Gauthier is a great writer and a master of finishing a story with a sledgehammer that leaves you wanting to read on and keen for the next story.

Renee Gauthier Christmas Miracle Easter

The third instalment in R.M. Gauthier’s Christmas Miracle series, this story is a little shorter than the others but still full of the same tension, humour and characters.

Gauthier is a great writer and a master of finishing a story with a sledgehammer that leaves you wanting to read on and keen for the next story.

I really enjoyed this book, and I really hope there will be another. Christmas Miracle on Canada Day, perhaps? Now there’s a holiday this squirrel can get behind!

Golden Acorns

‘Christmas Miracle at Easter’ gets a shiny Golden Acorn!

Get your copy at Amazon!

And if you haven’t read the others – they’re great, too!

SIBA First Miracle

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.

Book Review: Longing by R.M. Gauthier

A Literature Lemur review for ‘Longing’ by R. M. Gauthier.

Literature Lemur LeafThe Literature Lemur has been reading some great books lately! Today, my lovely lemur friend brings us a review of ‘Longing’ by R.M. Gauthier, who has been featured in Book Squirrel reviews and an author spotlight previously. 

Blurb:

Longing is the story of a Special Forces Officer and a Business Tycoon becoming unlikely partners in their fight for justice and revenge. Leroy, a Special Forces Officer, returns home from Afghanistan after serving 8 terrifying years, only to discover that his nightmare has not ended. After learning that his sister has been missing for months, Leroy sets out to find and bring her home. Meeting Landon Miller, a Business Tycoon and owner of an exclusive club exposes Leroy to a world of corruption that he had no idea even existed.

 Renee Gauthier Longing

ADR S&S Book Review:

Longing is a prequel to The Mystery of Landon Miller series, in which Gauthier gives us a peek at how everyone’s favorite Guy Friday ended up with the job of a lifetime: working for Landon Miller, himself.

In this short story, Leroy leaves the desolation of war only to find more misery waiting for him at home. His sister is missing, and Leroy will move heaven and earth to bring her home again. Along the way, Leroy discovers there is a whole lot of evil out there, and the deeper he digs, the dirtier it gets.

Once again, Gauthier has created a story where anything can and does happen, bringing life and soul to characters who we, as readers, feel connected to. Whether or not you’ve read “Control” and “Bound”, “Longing” is one short story you won’t want to miss.

You can find all things R.M. Gauthier at:    www.RMGauthier.com

Order “Longing” here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0180FSU1W

Author Interview: Tobey Alexander

“Every idea comes from somewhere deep in your imagination and you either nurture it or let it fall from memory.”

Interview Lime

 

Hey folks, I’m here today interviewing author Tobey Alexander!

Welcome, Tobey! 

Thanks Squirrel, I’m glad to be here!

Me too! I mean, uh… I’m glad you could make it!

Haha, okay!

Tell us, Tobey, what inspired you to write?

I have always written as an escape from what I have been doing in my everyday life. I wrote through college and university to, probably more honestly, avoid the work I should have been doing. But, I never did anything with those stories. Perhaps because I didn’t have the skill to write properly back then but now, since I have had children, I have decided to lead from the front and get my stories out there.

It all came to a head when I saw my youngest son’s growing imagination and how it makes him look a little odd to other children. The way he plays, the stories he comes up with, even when he was so young, often got some strange looks off other kids. As he’s got bigger I have polluted his imagination with my crazy stories, which is where my Magdon Series began. But when I’ve seen it thrive in him and how much all of my children have enjoyed my stories it was that, in all honesty, that made me dare to look into self-publishing.

From there it has spiralled and snowballed. I just wanted to show (T), my youngest son, what you can do if you let your imagination do what it does.

My first book Footprints On The Other Side was a flight of fancy that started at training school for my career. I read one particular author and got bored with their series, I then dared myself to write something and that is when Footprints was born. But, again, publishing it was all thanks to wanting to inspire my little monster.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

It isn’t a particular book but instead a story arc, my Magdon creature. It all came about when (T) was two and asked about a noise in the woods. I made up a monster and my oldest son got wind of it.

Very soon I thought it would be fun to make up some maps, treasure hunts, more and more stories to build on this silly little lie. All of a sudden it became a whole falsified family history (I even made the main hero against the monster my great granddad – incidentally I have no idea who my great granddad really was so it allowed me to make one up!)

The Magdon stories have grown with me curled up on the end of one of my boys’ beds talking through ideas which we talked about and literally brainstormed between us. So, from one little idea, we created something we lived between us and for that reason I love The Magdon Myth more than anything else.

Every idea comes from somewhere deep in your imagination and you either nurture it or let it fall from memory. The Magdon, by making it up as I went along, I was Beta testing against my children who helped me create something I can say was fed by my intended audience. What I wanted was to make that world that parents and children, young and old, could enjoy. I pictured mums and dads enthusiastically reading my stories to their own children and dancing around the room acting out the scenes (pretty much like I did all the way through).

That sounds great! The Magdon doesn’t eat squirrels, does he?

No. He’s a myth. Myths don’t eat anything.

Phew! I was getting worried there…

Haha! Nothing for you to worry about!

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Greece, the first holiday with my now wife when we were teenagers. I remember it was a period when I was focusing on meditation (influenced by being obsessed with Star Wars Episode II which was out at the time). When I need a time to relax and reflect one of my anchor points is being stood on the open terraced roof of the apartment looking out across the sea listening to the waves crash against the pebble beach. If I ever get to retire I would love to see more of Greece. That said though I haven’t ever revisited it in a book or story I have written. That may change but for me it is a memory I would rather keep than give away to a character or story.

What are you working on writing now?

Into The Dark and Blue Light Christmas 2.

Two at once?

Two at once.

Wow! That’s impressive! Tell me more!

The first is something that was fed from the feedback I received about my Magdon Series. Where I have tried to write them as a series of novelettes so younger audiences can enjoy the adventure, the adults who have read them contacted me and told me I should write something for an older audience set in that world.

Into The Dark was an absolute whim and I tried to create a new story in my world of Magdons that would most certainly entertain and feed an older generation of readers. I have really enjoyed stepping it up a level in terms of substance and story and have really brought a sense of family into this story. My wife will be quite brutal when she says how deeply I have thrown myself into writing Into The Dark. It went from a fleeting idea into a story I really have enjoyed writing and getting myself into. 

Cover 8

As for Blue Light Christmas 2 this is something that has come about because of a charity project I did at the last minute last year. I wanted to write a story to give a little bit of a human element to policing, especially in the United Kingdom, and give the families of police officers some story to explain why they work some of the key dates in their family’s lives.

In doing so I gave all profits (what little there are sometimes) to Care Of Police Survivors charity. Even though I only did it as a last minute idea last year I have decided to do it again with a new story and this time put some more time to get my talented illustrator to help me out and also raise even more awareness and profile around the story to raise even more money this time around.

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

I wanted to join the Royal Air Force as a pilot but that didn’t happen for many reasons, including hay fever. Like all children growing up I probably wanted to be Robocop, Indiana Jones and almost every superhero. I’m now 33 and I think if you asked me my dream job it would still be some superhero. The career I ended up in though fills that gap I suppose, it was an interesting ride getting here but it’s been an interesting and worthwhile journey, just a shame I can’t write about it.

Oooh! Secret Squirrel, eh?

Yes indeed!

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

Three? The first would be my oldest son. The last year has been testing and trying for him and although he’s only (currently) 8 he has shown me how big he can be. When he was 7 he wanted to climb a mountain so we had a summer “boy’s weekend” and climbed Mount Snowdon in Wales. I’ve never seen such tenacity in him. It was his first real adventure and he lapped it up. Then two months later he was rushed to hospital suffering from a mystery illness they thought was meningitis. He was extremely ill and scared the life out of me, his mother and his siblings. It turned out to be Henoch-Schonlein Purpura which, while not imminently life-threatening, brings its own risks and complications. Hospitalised, he was lying on a drip and the only thing he asked me was “Can I walk Snowdon again?” Considering the fact he could not even stand up, never mind walk, it was a lump-in-throat moment for me. Since recovering he has aged a little, understands how ill he was but he’s already done two mountains since then.

Number two is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, from a fitness aspect (although I never aim to be as big in stature or size) his ethos is inspiring. Having read Total Recall, his autobiography, I have so much respect for him. The determination and drive that man has is completely inspirational and if I could achieve even a tenth of what he has from my own motivation alone I would be a happy man. I know it sounds rather clichéd but for me, having read his life, he is the gold standard of personal drive and motivation to achieve against the odds. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has done but that attitude he carries towards everything connects with me.

And lastly….a third, well, I am struggling. The first two came into my head straight away so the fact I am struggling for a third probably means there isn’t one. There are plenty of people who I admire in a fleeting way but nobody I would hold my hand up that pops into my head straight away so I won’t fill in what isn’t really there.

Fair enough! What movie can you watch over and over again?

I have quite a few, a film for different occasions! Normally, as I work shifts, I will watch something to put me in the mood for a night shift. These normally include End Of Watch and the Point Break remake (yes, I know a lot of people dislike it but for me it connects because it is what influenced my oldest son to want to climb mountains with me and explore the great outdoors). My other favourite I can watch over and again is the Bridget Jones series. It’s a film me and my wife will default too when we want a nice chilled evening together and they never get old.

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

It isn’t easy but there is no better way to grow yourself, your skills and connect with some amazing people. It really is a journey of taking the leap from being the closet writer, enjoying your own work but perhaps lacking the confidence to release it upon the world. Being Indie forces you to do the very best with what you have.

Sure, some of us – myself included – may think we have what it takes, but that skill only really grows as you go along. I have immense pride in every book have written but I know I learn from each one and hopefully that helps me get better, neater, tidier and a better storyteller as I go along.

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Daring to put yourself out there when so many of the agents and publishers won’t touch you with a barge pole is rather liberating. It’s hard not to feel the “smackdown” of repeated rejections but there is nothing more inspiring and confidence building than that first review that says to you, in not so many words “you’re not as bad as you’ve let yourself think”.

Seeing someone take the time to read, and ultimately enjoy, your book is possibly one of the most rewarding things in this whole process. Especially when you consider doing it alone is almost like putting your reputation and personality out for public dissection (hence why I like a pseudonym as at least I can blame the “other guy” if it goes wrong!)

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

It is a mainstream published book, Spartacus by Ben Kane. It was during my phase of being obsessed with the Spartacus TV Series. That’s what motivated me to get deeper into my fitness training – lots of muscular men motivated me a little bit, more out of jealousy I suppose. When I found his two-part books I didn’t know what to expect and remember reading it while deployed to the Olympics in 2012. The second book I can honestly say is the only book to have ever made me cry. Sat on my break surrounded by people at work and I was trying to hide the fact I was crying at a book. It was after reading that when I thought I should try and get one of my own stories out there and really started researching Self Publishing and Indie Authoring.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Parenting! I get it wrong so many times. I try to be that dad that all the kids want to have but manage to mess it up with my own things. I have my gym (obsession), my writing (distraction), my outdoor (adventuring) and try to balance that with three very different little personalities. I’ve always been a bugger for self-criticising and tend to put myself in a guilt-complex when I feel I don’t get the balance perfectly right. Sometimes I absorb myself in my books too much, sometimes one child over the other, too much time at the gym, always being at work and the list goes on. I wish I could just get it right all the time!

Another thing I wish was easier is probably marketing. This being very author specific as I never seem to get that right. I know what I want to do and sometimes my imagination runs away with me. I have a very visual imagination so tend to act things out to make them work or else film/photograph things along the way to have a physical snapshot. I know I don’t have the proper connections to get seen so I feel I fumble along, as best I can, in the department of marketing and advertising. Aside from the fact I am biased, I honestly feel if I could get that right then something could happen with my stories. I, perhaps, simply lack the skill, knowledge and expertise to make that happen at the moment. But, as I said before, I’m growing with every project so who knows, maybe one day I’ll know what to do.

I think you probably get a lot of things right without realising, Tobey. Thanks for chatting with me today. 

Thanks, Squirrel! I can honestly say, you’re the most bookish squirrel I’ve ever met!

I think we’re friends now.

*high fives*

You can find Tobey’s books on Amazon

You can follow Tobey on social media at: