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.
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.
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.
Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 7 is ‘The Rose Thief’ by Claire Buss.
This rollicking, humorous fantasy story looks like great holiday reading.
Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses. But that’s not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It’s up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn’t exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?
Welcome to another interview in the “Nuts About Authors” series. Today we welcome Claire Buss, Indie author extraordinaire and a generally very nice person! Welcome, Claire!
Thanks, Book Squirrel!
What inspired you to write?
I am inspired by all kinds of things – the different people I meet, books I read, random ideas I have at 4am in the morning. What I find difficult is carving out the time to actually write so most of my ideas get jotted onto scraps of paper which are carefully saved in a box for later perusal. Oftentimes it will be the character voice in my head that shouts the loudest! I do prefer to immerse myself in one project at a time.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m about to have a baby! But until very recently, I have been in the final stages of getting my latest book, The Rose Thief, ready for publication. I’ve worked through all my beta reader feedback and I’ve done the scariest part – the final read through before setting up for ebook and paperback. I am really excited about this book, it was so much fun to write. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses and it’s up to Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher and his team to find out who the thief is and stop them before love is lost forever in Roshaven. Think Terry Pratchett meets Douglas Adams.
And that’s just been released, right?
Yes! Last week!
It is, rather.
Congratulations! It’s on my TBR pile as we speak.
Oh, thank you! How big is your TBR pile?
What movie can you watch over and over again?
There are a few actually – The Princess Bride, LOTR and The Hobbit trilogies, Constantine and 28 Days (not the Zombie movie!)
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?
It’s a full-time job being an Indie author and that’s not just the writing aspect. You are, for the most part, your own editor, proof-reader and marketer. Most indie authors already have a day job so it’s really about being dedicated to something you love and couldn’t imagine not doing. The marketing side is constant, you have to work on it every day and keep momentum – there’s an awful lot of authors out there but the good news is that people still love reading so all you have to do is get out there and find yours.
Two things in life I wish were easier.
1 – eating cake and not putting on weight
2 – learning how to not feel guilty for either not writing or doing the housework or spending time with my family
I’m with you! Those would be great things to make easier.
*high fives for cake*
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
I’ve had a few 5 star reads so far this year but I think the series that I am enjoying the most is Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. I’m on book four now and they’ve all been brilliant. I love all the subtle – and not so subtle – literary references and admire the huge amount of world-building that must have gone into writing the series.
What’s your favourite season? Why?
Autumn. It’s not too hot like the summer and you can wear a cardi with practically every outfit. There’s that lovely crispness in the mornings and still a few summery days to enjoy, leaves to crunch and lots of apple-based desserts. Springtime can be a bit wet although all that new growth is lovely. Winter can be too dark as well as bone-numbingly cold, at least Autumn is golden.
Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?
This is tricky because I haven’t read all the books yet but based on the small amount I have been able to devour I would have to say the top of the pile would be Sir Terry Pratchett for his Discworld series, his sense of humour and great intellect. As cliche as it may sound, I do admire JK Rowling’s persistence with Harry Potter and whilst I am well aware that her kind of success is unlikely to happen for me, it is motivating to know that you should never give up. I think my other literary inspiration is every indie author out there who is giving 100%, writing quality books and supporting others in the indie world.
Indie authors are amazing.
Some of the best books I’ve read have been Indie books!
*another high five*
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?
My best vacation memories are those spent on my grandparents’ farm in Wales. Animals, fresh air, the Welsh coastline, homegrown produce and freshly baked cakes, an open fire and lots of love.
This beautifully written short story transports the reader to a place where history and the present cling and ghosts are said to linger in the mist. In a beautiful west Canadian setting, Albermarle teases the reader’s imagination into suspending doubt and disbelief aas they follow Kaiya on a mysterious adventure. The author successfully evokes feelings of nostalgia and affection for times gone by and delivers the story as though the events within it are not unusual at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘A Meadow in Saanich’, so I’ve given it a lovely Silver Acorn.
You can find this book and others by Valerie Albermarle at Amazon.
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.
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.
People often speak of guardian angels and of visitations or visions, but the idea of angel postmen delivering messages to humans at appointed times is clever and thought-provoking, and one I had not encountered before. I found this concept, and the personalities of the different characters very engaging.
This is a heartwarming story with the tales of the antics of Clair, a lazy angel, embedded and woven within it. It is written with humour and a light-hearted tone, but also with some vivid imagery and quite evocative writing that added depth and impact to the writing, particularly in the cliffside conversations between the young woman and the elderly man who functions as the storyteller.
It seems to me that although English may not be the author’s first language, Tsao has certainly written with both fluency and flair. While there are times when the words do seem to flow less easily and the grammar is a little stilted, this does not necessarily detract from the story, nor did it significantly diminish my enjoyment of it. Every writer has their own style, and in our globalised world, readers can generally adjust accordingly with ease.
Overall, ‘The Early Delivery: Angel Postmen’ is an enjoyable book that will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading lighthearted clean romance and humour. I’ve given it one of my lovely Silver Acorn awards.
‘Calmer Girls’ doesn’t fall into my usual preferred genre, but that didn’t stop me enjoying this book. I was engaged from the start when it opened with a scenario that was instantly familiar to me: teen sisters fighting and competing with one another. As the younger sister in my own family, I could relate to Samantha’s frustrations and sensitivities, even though my sister and I competed and fought over different things than Samantha and Veronica do. The complications and conflicts between Samantha and Veronica are portrayed very realistically, and the reader is drawn into developing a strong sense of empathy for their general situation, as well as for the circumstances of particular characters.
I love that this book is set in Newfoundland and that part of the story relates to the experiences of the families of the fishermen who live there. The author has embedded plenty of details that really do evoke the unique character of St Johns and life in the Canadian Maritimes, so the setting felt very familiar and homey to me because I have visited the Maritimes and have friends there.
I really liked the frequent references to the classic books such as ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ that Samantha likes to read because they gave me a stronger connection to this story. They weren’t overbearing or super nerdy, yet they communicated clearly that Samantha sees life and thinks at a deeper level than her sister. That positioned me to like her even more than the fact that she is the central character.
I found the characters to be believable and quite well-developed, and the story compelling.
‘Calmer Girls’ will hold immense appeal for anyone who enjoys YA romance and drama.
I’ve given ‘Calmer Girls’ a silver acorn.
You can get your copy at Amazon. There’s a sequel, too!