Book Review: ‘Bitter Loss’ by Aliya DalRae

A powerful portrayal of one woman’s personal hell.

Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 3 Bitter Loss

The third in the Fallen Cross Pack novella series, ‘Bitter Loss’ is the vivid and heartbreaking portrayal of one woman’s descent into her own personal hell when her life takes a tragic turn.

 

Maggie Danes is very realistically portrayed in her responses and emotions. As grief gives way to despair, and then to hopelessnes, the reader can’t help but feel that they might not respond so differently should they find themselves in her situation.

 

This is a beautifully written story that works well as a standalone, but also fits perfectly into both the Fallen Cross and Jessica Sweet series. This fact alone is testament to DalRae’s talent as a writer.

 

Acorn Award I Golden
Like the others in this series, ‘Bitter Loss’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Book Review: ‘Once Upon A Grave’ by William Bove

An enjoyable short read, but I wanted more.

William Bove Once Upon A Grave

 

Set during a period of profound economic depression, the tone of the opening chapters is evocative of the hopelessness and privation experienced by those who endured it, and particularly by the central character who has different, but equally valid, reasons for disenchantment and restlessness. The contrasts between the environments and settings of the different phases of the story are striking, and have a profound effect on the author’s delivery of the story.

I enjoyed reading this story, although there were aspects that I wish the author had developed in more depth. The main character is really the only multidimensional character in the story, which is fine in a short read, but I did want to know and see more of the two other key figures that appeared in the second half of the story, and to understand more of the connections between them all.  I also felt somewhat dissatisfied that the revelations made to the main character in the second phase of the story were delivered by her reading a book to which the reader had no access – and was therefore somewhat glossed over in the narrative. It left this reader feeling like an onlooker, rather than being involved emotionally in the journey of the character.

 

Overall, ‘Once Upon A Grave’ is an enjoyable short read, although less gripping than I generally hope for in paranormal or dark fiction.
Acorn Award III Bronze

 

Book Squirrel has awarded this book a Bronze Acorn.

 

Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Forest of Ancestors’ by K.A. Denver

Book Squirrel Review: ‘Forest of Ancestors’ by K.A. Denver

K.A. Denver Forest of Ancestors

 

This is a great story which holds a good level of mystery and intrigue that develops at a good pace as the plot progresses. The differences between light and dark magic, and the ways in which each character uses their magic, add interest and complexity to the story. The central characters are varied and quite well crafted although, as a reader, I didn’t really feel as connected to most of them as I would have liked to.

 

I really like the concept of the forest of ancestors as a place of memory as well as of magic, and the ways in which that setting is portrayed and developed in the story. The images were formed quite vividly in my mind as I read, and it was good to see the characters fully engaging with, and responding to, this special element of their environment in personal ways.

 

My one criticism – and it is a real annoyance as a reader – is that there were places in which the writing really needed more thorough editing to remove quite obvious errors that remain in the text. A less fastidious reader might not notice all of them, but a couple of them were quite glaring and should never have made it to the final manuscript.

 

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. It has some quite original elements and surprising turns that complement the strong storyline.

 

Acorn Award II Silver
I’ve awarded ‘Forest of Ancestors’ a Silver Acorn because, despite its flaws, it is a great read.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.

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Book Review: ‘Bitter Challenge’ by Aliya DalRae

‘Bitter Challenge’ is another great short read that has further filled out the answers to mysteries raised in DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels, yet can easily stand alone and be read without spoilers of the series for readers who haven’t got to those other books yet.

Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 2 Bitter Challenge

An ADR Short that follows ‘Bitter Beginnings‘, this book tells the story of the next stage in the life of Patrick Danes. Although now a wolf shifter and separated from his family, he has lost neither his principles nor his desire to make things better for the pack.

 

The narrative flows easily, bringing scenes and characters to life for the reader. Patrick’s strength and moral character gives the reader a sense of safety and hope in even the most dire of situations.

 

‘Bitter Challenge’ is another great short read that has further filled out the answers to mysteries raised in DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels, yet can easily stand alone and be read without spoilers of the series for readers who haven’t got to those other books yet.

Acorn Award I Golden

For all of these reasons, I’m giving this book a lovely Gold Acorn.

 

Find ‘Bitter Challenge’ on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Bitter Beginnings’ by Aliya DalRae.

Bitter Beginnings is a great read that has left me wanting the next book in the series. 

The first of Aliya DalRae’s Fallen Cross Pack Series, this compelling story delves into the history of one of the minor characters in the Jessica Sweet mysteries and places him firmly in the spotlight. While ‘Sweet Vengeance’ and ‘Sweet Discovery’ focus on interactions between the human and vampire worlds, ‘Bitter Beginnings’ explores the world of the shifters in the wolf pack that lives near Jessica’s home town of Fallen Cross.
Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 1 Bitter Beginnings

Bitter Beginnings is exactly what the title suggests: there is no romantic “padding” in this story. Patrick’s story is straightforward and, at times, brutal. It’s easy to see how his experiences contributed to the Alpha of the Pack that we meet in DalRae’s earlier novels and stories.

DalRae’s writing is intuitive and fluent, giving her narrative an easy-to-read feel and infusing her characters with qualities that the reader can easily identify with, without dumbing anything down. She is an accomplished storyteller who never fails to transport the reader into the world she has created and into the lives, challenges and aspirations of her characters.

Bitter Beginnings is a great read that has left me wanting the next book in the series.

Golden Acorns
For all of these reasons, this book has earned a delicious Gold Acorn.

Find ‘Bitter Beginnings’ on Amazon.

Dec 18 ~ Featured Book: ‘Spells and Jingle Bells’ anthology.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 18 is ‘Spells and Jingle Bells’, an anthology collection of cozy paranormal holiday themed stories by fifteen different authors.

Something for everyone in this budget friendly collection!

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 18 is ‘Spells and Jingle Bells’, an anthology collection of cozy paranormal holiday themed stories by fifteen different authors.Anthology Spells and Jingle Bells

It looks as though there is something for everyone in this collection of holiday themed paranormal stories.

‘Tis the season for sugarplums, gingerbread, and … eye of newt?

Ring in the holiday season with a little sprinkle of magic and mystery. Meet new friends and reunite with old ones as fifteen paranormal mystery authors spread some holiday cheer in this anthology collection of never before published short stories and novellas.

‘Spells and Jingle Bells’ is available on Amazon.

Dec 15 ~ Featured Book: ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 15 is ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson. 
Readers will love anti-heroine Viper in this grimdark blend of historical and contemporary fantasy in a fairy tale like no other.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 15 is ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson.

Lesley Donaldson The Queens Viper

Time heals all wounds. Except hers.
Will immortal Viper overcome the power surging within herself even as Queens of Britain try to control her?

To enhance the life-magic of the people she feeds upon, Viper ensures Tudor Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen of England. The villainous immortal also seeks a Crown Jewel that stirs up her repressed memories. Her quest to find her past throws her into the path of malevolent Annys. Annys entraps Viper for centuries. In modern London, Viper inexplicably escapes. She enlists her Foundling, Mouse, to overcome immortal magic and human power as she seeks revenge upon her nemesis and the descendants of the humans who helped Annys, starting with Queen Elizabeth II.

Readers will love anti-heroine Viper in this grimdark blend of historical and contemporary fantasy in a fairy tale like no other.

‘The Queen’s Viper’ is available at Amazon.

Dec 8 ~ Featured Book: Once Upon A Fabulous Time

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 8 is another brand new release: ‘Once Upon a Fabulous Time’.

This is an anthology like you’ve never seen before: 9 reinvented fairy tales for adults by six different authors, each a standalone novella, embedded in an entirely different narrative. 

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 8 is another brand new release: ‘Once Upon a Fabulous Time’.

This is an anthology like you’ve never seen before: nine reinvented fairy tales for adults by six different authors, each a standalone novella, embedded in an entirely different and original fairy tale.

OUAFT

Dreams really do come true…

Millie Monroe has one bright spot in her life: her job at the library. When a wealthy investor comes to town, she is overjoyed by what his presence could mean for the library…and for her.

Early one afternoon, while working alone, Millie encounters a magical book that insists on being read. Similar books continue to appear, transporting her to strange realms, from the Fabulous to the bizarre, where adventure and romance rule the day. From Wizards to Werewolves, Dragons to Santa Claus, this parade of enchanting creatures opens her eyes to the events taking place around her.

She also discovers that when dealing with creatures of the magical variety, even in fairy tales life isn’t always sunshine and Unicorns. Perhaps when looking for her heart’s desire, she should look no further than her own little corner of the world.

If you believe…

‘Once Upon a Fabulous Time’ is available at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Souls Asunder’ by Miranda Brock

Miranda Brock has definitely cemented her place in my shortlist of “one click authors” whose books I will buy in a heartbeat.

Miranda Brock TKW 2 Souls Asunder

It is a skilful writer who develops the characters in such a way that the reader visualises them in all their different expressions, holds their breath in moments of suspense, and only realises they were doing so when they let that breath go.

Miranda Brock is one such writer.

The sequel to Souls Discovered, this is the second in Miranda Brock’s The Keeper’s Way series for young adults and older. Brock has crafted another exciting and deeply involving story in which The Keeper, Autumn, and her Searchers confront the terrible powers of evil in their efforts to rid the world of those very powers. There is plenty of action to keep the story going, and there are a number of absolutely gut-wrenching moments that keep the reader absolutely enthralled.

Just as Autumn and her Searchers know each other better and have a stronger connection in the second book, the reader also feel a stronger bond with the central characters because they, too, know them better now. I didn’t even realise how much I had invested emotionally in this book until I finished it.

After reading Book 1, I knew better than to expect a predictable ending in the sequel, and Souls Asunder does not disappoint. I’m so keen for Book 3 and dead keen to know what happens next.

Miranda Brock has definitely cemented her place in my shortlist of “one click authors” whose books I will buy in a heartbeat.miranda-brock-souls-discovered

Golden Acorns
Because Book Squirrel was giving  star ratings rather than Acorn Awards when he reviewed Book One, both books in The Keeper’s Way series are receiving a shiny Gold Acorn today.

The Keeper’s Way series is available on Amazon.

 

Author Interview: James B Peartree

The Book Squirrel sat down recently to interview James B. Peartree, author of Pack: The Three Moons and its soon-to-arrive sequel. 

Interview Lime

Welcome back to the Book Squirrel’s “Nuts About Writers” series of author interviews.  

The Book Squirrel sat down recently to interview James B. Peartree, author of Pack: The Three Moons and its soon-to-arrive sequel. 

James Peartree Pack Cover
Thanks for joining us today, James. Why don’t you start by telling us what inspired you to write?

What inspired me to write most of all, was my desire to redefine the werewolf mythos sensitively, without dragging it kicking and howling into the 21st century. Although if I’m being totally honest, I’ve loved writing from an early age and was looking for a suitable excuse to do so.

What’s your favourite book by written by someone else? 
My favorite thing that someone else has written has to be Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. It’s a book you actually devour and once finished, you want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.

What are you working on writing now?
I am currently working on the third book in the ‘Pack’ trilogy and another paranormal novel. I think it’s important to keep another project running at the same time as your primary one. It seems to work for me at least.

That sounds like it keeps you busy! What’s the best vacation you’ve had? 
The best vacation/holiday I’ve ever had was travelling to Sri Lanka with my family when I was 10. I’d never been abroad up until then and it really opened my eyes to the world beyond East London and Essex.

What movie can you watch over and over again? 
The movie I could watch over and over again would be An American Werewolf in London. I still love it to this day and strongly believe that it doesn’t need to be remade with modern CGI methods. If they could do a director’s cut of the original where they added back in some of the deleted scenes, this would be good enough for me and most other die hard AAWIL fans.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing? 
My pet hate is people who are pig-ignorant, bigoted or even worse, both. I wouldn’t say that I’ve made a conscious effort to add these traits to any of the characters in anything I’ve written. Although they are traits that are commonly found amongst evildoers I suppose.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written? 
The one thing I like the most which I have written would be a short story titled Maurice. It would fall into the ‘psychological paranormal’ subgenre if that subgenre even exists. There I go again, creating my own subgenres. It should be published at some point in the near future, probably in a charitable publication.

There’s nothing wrong with creating your own subgenres. That might be an effective way to create a niche market. 
Good point!

Thanks!  What’s the best book you’ve read this year? 
The book I’ve enjoyed reading the most this year was Lies by T M Logan. It had me gripped from the very start and I struggled to put it down; reading until the summer sunrise was repeated until I’d finished it.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?
What aspiring writers should know about being an indie author, is that it’s an arduous process from opening chapter to release date. After which you have to get your next book written and out there whilst promoting the first as well. In short, don’t expect to write ‘The End’ then sit back and watch the royalties roll in. This only ever happens for world best-selling authors I do believe.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier. 
The two things in the world that I wish were easier are:
 a)  Getting aid to areas of the world where it’s desperately needed.
 b)  Bringing those who persecute the weak or defenceless to justice.

I so agree! It’s hard for us little guys to know how to help make that happen, though! 
It sure is, Squirrel.

So, James, where can we find your books?
You can find my books on Amazon.

And finally, can we follow you on social media? 
Sure! I’m on Facebook.

Thanks for being here today, James! It’s been great chatting with you.
Thanks, Book Squirrel!