Book Review: The Undernet by J.S. Frankel

‘The Undernet’ by J. S. Frankel brings new definition to the age-old contest between good and evil, and between truth and deceit as a young man seeks answers that seem determined to remain hidden.

Jesse Frankel The Undernet

Frankel has crafted realistic, likeable and engaging central characters in Milt and his girlfriend, Robbie.  They’re not perfect, and their mistakes have consequences, which makes them easier to empathise with and understand. Insights into Milt’s thoughts and gut reactions, and his feelings about Robbie, draw the reader into the often very confronting story of his quest for justice and truth.

Part of Frankel’s genius in casting this story is designing characters who live and work in the shadows, so that the reader has to keep questioning whether they are the good guys or the bad guys. There are so many layers of intrigue and concealment in this story that the reader is kept curious and wanting to know, much like Milt throughout this story, seeing the truth despite layers of concealment and misinformation. In this sense, the Undernet and the Dark Net take on the roles of additional impersonal characters that deliberately obscure reality in this story, just as they seem to in actual fact.

Some parts of The Undernet are definitely uncomfortable to read. In graphic contrast to the sincere and honest friendship Milt has with Robbie and with his best friend, Simon, Frankel gives his readers a solidly-written exposè of the dark side of human nature as one is likely to find it on the dark side of the internet – or anywhere. This is delivered with confronting realism and honesty. Through all of this, It was the strong identification I felt with with Milt’s “ordinary person” response to the ugly side of life that enabled me to keep reading and hoping for him to find the resolution he was so desperate to find.

The Undernet is available on Amazon or from devinedestinies.com

Author Interview: Richard Ankers

Interview Red

 

Hi, readers! Today I’m interviewing Richard Acorns, author of the YA dark fantasy series, The Eternals.
Hi, Richard! 

Hi, Squirrel! Before we start… it’s Ankers.

Ankers? You’ve lost me.

My name. I’m Richard Ankers.

I’m sorry?

You called me Richard Acorns.

I did? That’s nuts!

*awkward silence*

I am so sorry! Let me start again.

Please do.

 

Hi, readers! Today I’m interviewing Richard Ankers, author of the brilliant YA dark fantasy series, The Eternals.
Welcome, Richard! 

Well, hello!

 

What inspired you to write?

The honest answer is, I just had to. It was the showing that writing to other people that was the problem. When I learned of a good friend’s untimely and very sad passing, I decided life was too short. So really, my friend, Peta, was the reason I shared my writing with the world.

 

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I always think the thing I’m presently writing is the best. A desire to get better with each new word powers that. However, I always have a fondness for my novels and short stories. If something is less than a thousand words though, I forget I’ve even written it about five minutes after having done so. I’m terrible!

 

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

My favourite book is called The Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock.

 

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

I reread Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I love it.

 

What are you working on writing now?

I’m working on a new Steampunk/Fantasy trilogy titled The Theatre of the Moon.

 

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Ooh… Either visiting the Ice Hotel in Sweden, or Wengen in Switzerland (I love mountains).

 

What is your pet hate?

When others get my name wrong.

*awkward silence*

Really? 

No.  *laughs kindly* I was teasing you.

Okay. I deserved that. What really is your pet hate, and have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I hate littering; it really gets on my goat, as we say here. I haven’t used that particular foible in my writing, but I might now.

 

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Lost in Translation

 

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

Anything sporty. I was lucky that I was good at all sports and unlucky that I lost focus because of it.

 

What’s your favourite season, and why?

I love winter. I’m a verifiable nutcase for snow. I’ve loved the snow ever since reading the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid.

 

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Michael Moorcock / Haruki Murakami / Gene Wolfe

 

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

I’m not a great admirer of anyone in particular, as I’m not easily impressed. I like people who walk the walk, those who do what they say, not tell others to. Perhaps Nelson Mandela if anyone. I’ve also always had a lot of time for David Attenborough.

 

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

If you’re as shy as me, it’s difficult. The loudest are often the most read, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best. Far from it.

 

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Both of my knees; they’ve got it in for me. Won’t stop me running though.

 

Where can readers find your books?

The Eternals: http://mybook.to/TheEternals

Hunter Hunted: http://mybook.to/HunterHunted

Into Eternity: http://mybook.to/IntoEternity

 

Those are great covers!

Thank you!

 

Most welcome!

Where can readers follow you on social media?

WordPress: www.richardankers.com

Facebook Author: http://facebook.com/richardmankers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Richard_Ankers

Medium: https://medium.com/@Richard_Ankers

Amazon Author: http://author.to/RichardAnkers

 

Thanks for joining me today, Richard. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. 

I have, Book Squirrel. Thanks for having me.

Book Review: ‘Only The Few’ by L.N. Denison

L N Denison Only The Few
This suspenseful thriller had me hooked right from the start.

Immersed immediately in the world of post-apocalyptic London in 2025 and the life of the main character, Corporal Catherine Hyde, the drama unfolds steadily from the first page. From that point, the tension starts to build and the questions begin to gnaw at both the reader and Corporal Hyde.

Hyde’s character is brilliantly developed. She is likeable, strong enough to be a hero and weak enough to be believeable. The reader feels as though they know and understand her, and begins to feel defensive of her when she faces challenges from the situations she faces and from other people. Her flawed humanity contrasts profoundly with her strengths, adding another layer of deep complexity and irony to the story.

There are some incredibly confronting scenes which Denison has crafted to be both compelling and extremely uncomfortable: despite the strong desire to “look away”, the reader has to keep going because the story is just that good.

There is nothing predictable about ‘Only The Few’. The author keeps the reader wondering and guessing right up until the last page. On going back to previous chapters and re-reading sections, it became evident that the author had achieved exceptionally clever delivery of clues that the reader will never realise are clues until they return to those scenes after finishing the book. That is a sign of a gifted writer with a talent for creating and crafting fantastic stories.

The book concludes with a teaser line about a “companion” novel which spurs the curiosity and keeps the wondering and guessing going. I know what I want that companion story to be, but I guess I’m just going to have to wait until it arrives to find out if I’m right.

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Bravo, L N. Denison.  5 stars from me.

Author Interview: Mackenzie Flohr

Interview Cobalt

Squirrel and Mackenzie Flohr_edited-1

Today I have the privilege of interviewing the wonderful Mackenzie Flohr, author of the incredible YA magical fantasy novel ‘The Rite of Wands’. 

We had a very cosy chat, and we’re now the best of friends.
Here’s the interview, hot off the press. 

What inspired you to write?

I don’t really have anything per say that inspires me to write. However, what motivates me to write is being told I won’t succeed. I know that sounds odd, but I’ll elaborate.
Back in 2006, I was at the airport in Orlando waiting for the plane to arrive to take my Dad and I back to Cleveland, OH. I was working on a scene, which happens in a later book in the series. There was a young girl who looked about my age with her Dad sitting across from us. They asked what I was writing about, so I mentioned a little bit about it. Afterward, my Dad smiled and told them that I was writing a fantasy series, and that I would never finish it. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt by the outburst. Even as I am recalling that moment now, it still angers me! But that’s where he went wrong. Not only did I write it, not only did I finish it, I found a company to PUBLISH it!

Well done you! That’s the spirit!
What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

To answer this question a bit more specifically, I really enjoyed writing the scene in The Rite of Wands between Queen Anya and Mierta when the queen was trying to convince Mierta to help her. It felt like they were an old married couple!

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

The Carrigan Painting: Mysteries of Billamore Hall Series by BJ Richards

I’ll have to look it up on NutBooks!

NutBooks?

Yeah! You… haven’t heard of NutBooks? 

No… but I’ll go look them up when I get home!

Good idea. What are you working on writing now?

I am releasing a special hardbound edition of The Rite of Wands this June.

I also just finished writing a short story for an anthology, which I am still waiting to hear if it’ll be accepted. I am also working on the beginnings of the next book in The Rite of Wands series and a new futuristic sci-fi series.

Wow! You’re a busy lady!
What movie can you watch over and over again?

The Back to The Future trilogy.

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

Apparently for the garbage company LOL! My mother is notorious for saving papers I have filled out throughout my childhood, so even though I don’t recall ever feeling this way, I’ve seen it on paper!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Summer. I love having sunlight till 9 PM and warm temperatures. Living in Michigan, it is rare to have sunlight all year round, and I honestly really dislike snow and cold weather.

Yeah, I try to sleep through most of that, too…
Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Michael Ende.

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

A lot of people have this belief that Indie authors get their marketing taken care of for free, but this is far from the case. Indie authors have to do their own marketing and pay for services, too. The best method of marketing for an Indie author is word of mouth.

So, if you know an indie author and have read their book(s), leave a review! Many times this leads to at least 4-5 additional sales for the author.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Selling books internationally

Juggling time between my outside of the home full-time job and writing

Like I said, you’re one busy lady!

Rite_of_Wands_M_Flohr_coverart_2250pxL

I sure am!

 

Where can we find your book?

You can find The Rite of Wands through all the major retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Kobo, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, iTunes.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Bookbub

Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

Interview Cobalt

Hey everyone, your favourite squirrel is back with another fabulous author interview!

Today I’m talking with Debbie Manber Kupfer, author of some great books all about paws!
Hi Debbie! Obviously I’m all for promoting great paws… tell me about your books?

Hi Squirrel! P.A.W.S is a series of Young Adult fantasy books, which features a secret institute of shapeshifters hidden deep beneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis.

Oh. Not about actual paws then… that’s a little awkward.

I also have stories in several anthologies, including FauxpocalypseStardust, Always,
Winter Wishes, and Sins of The Past, and I’ve published a book of puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with my son Joey.

Hey, that’s awesome!

Thanks!

That’s a cool accent you have there. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?

Well, Squirrel, I grew up in London, but since then I’ve lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis.

Hey, I’ve got a cousin in St Louis! What do you do there?

I work as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. I live with my husband, two children and a very opinionated feline.

Cats, huh?

Yeah.

So, Debbie, you sound busy! When do you find time to hoard your food for winter?

*laughing* I believe that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. I’ve been writing ever since I was small and find that many of my everyday experiences end up in my stories. Also I’m an avid people watcher and often write interesting folk I see into my books.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Probably P.A.W.S. As it was my first published book it definitely holds a place in my heart. It was where I first was introduced to my characters who have since become old friends.

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

E.A. Copen’s Guilty by Association, an awesome urban fantasy. I’m currently on book 2 of her series.

What are you working on writing now?

I’ve got book 4 of P.A.W.S. which is going to be called Londinium out with my beta readers at the moment, so in the meantime I’m getting a start on book 5. I wrote the first 30K words during Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to continue writing at least 1K words a day.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

The best, but also the saddest, was the last time I traveled with my father before he passed away. My daughter and I traveled to London (where I grew up) and met my parents there. (They lived in Israel at the time). For my dad it was his last hurrah. He knew it too and he loved that trip and especially getting to spend time with his granddaughter.

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

I wanted to be a journalist. I went on to do a gazillion different things including teacher, secretary and market researcher, but writing was always in the back of my mind. I never did work in a newspaper, but I’ve been a puzzle editor for Penny Press and today divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles so I’ve sorted ended up in the field I wanted as a kid.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Spring and autumn. Not fond of extremes in either heat or cold. Missouri’s weather this year has been rather odd though. We didn’t have much of a winter and have had some really hot days in March and April. Global warming, I guess.

That climate change stuff is bad news.

It sure is!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, and Terry Pratchett.

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

It takes a village to publish any book. You need an editor, beta readers, a cover designer, and a support network of friends to keep you grounded. You can’t do this on your own.

It’s fun, truly it is. And really rewarding too. I started off traditionally published at a small press. It was a good start, but switching over to indie was the best decision I could have made. I love having control over my work. Release dates, prices, covers, sales. Everything. Yes it can be frustrating too, but it’s truly worth it.

Plus the indie author community is beyond awesome. I’ve made so many good friends since I started this journey. Writing can sometimes feel like a lonely pursuit and it’s true that a lot of the magic takes place behind closed doors. But once your books are out there having a network of author friends to cross-promote with is invaluable.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Getting more readers and getting more reviews!

If I had a nut for every time I heard a writer say that, I’d be a happy squirrel!

I hear you.

 

Where can we find your books? 

The P.A.W.S. Saga – P.A.W.S., Argentum, Umbrae

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N34LR1F

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N34LR1F

And paperback everywhere – if they’re not in your local store or library, you can ask them to order them.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Paws4Thought: http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Twitter: @CiciCat42

Author Interview: Leah Hamrick

Interview Purple

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

The Book Squirrel sat down recently to interview Leah Hamrick, author of ‘Spell Caster’!

Leah Hamrick Spell Caster

Hi Leah, it’s great to meet you

Hi! It’s great to meet you, too.

Thanks! Shall we get started?

Sure!

Okay… Tell us something interesting about yourself.

Well, I’m addicted to wildlife.

*gasp* You mean… you eat them?

No! I just love them! I love anything that crawls and moves and makes noise…

Phew! That’s a relief!

…but, my favorite is the whole other world that is below the water surface.
Hey, sorry I gave you a scare there. You’re a cute lil’ thing!

Nawww shucks! It’s okay. 
So tell me, what does “being creative” mean to you?

Being creative to me means to just do what you do best. Draw a stick tree if that’s all you got, LOL!

I wonder if stick trees have stick nuts… probably not much food on those!

And cute little stick squirrels!

What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

Things that have happened in my real life. I love mixing that in with my writing.

That makes the writing much more meaningful, I agree.
Do you have any current or future projects?

Oh hell yeah. Tons. I am currently rewriting my five star novel, Frost on my Pillow, which is a New Adult Paranormal Romance. Then, after that, I have to finish the second book in the series, not to mention write all these short stories for my amazing publisher’s numerous anthologies!

Leah Hamrick Frost On My Pillow

That sounds like it keeps you busy!
If you could just feature one title, what would it be?

‘Frost on my Pillow’… but sadly, it is not for sale at the moment.
It will be soon, though, so hopefully y’all decide to check it out, and fall in love with it as many already have.

Okay! I’ll have to make sure I follow you on Amazon and social media so I know as soon as it’s out!

Great idea! You’re a clever squirrel!

But your other books are totally great, and the cover of Spell Caster… wow! It’s gorgeous.

Aw, thank you! That’s so nice to hear. And yes, my other books are all on Amazon, too.

What is the relationship between your speaking voice and your written voice?

LOL! I just got asked this yesterday, I swear to everything that is holy. I see my speaking voice as how I write. How I write is in first person past tense… BUT, I do NOT have two POVs in a chapter. Let’s say… like if I wrote “He said, leaning back onto the couch.” that is just solely what my character is seeing. There is NO TWO POVS in my work. It may seem that way, but that isn’t how I write. If I want two POVs, I’ll just label another chapter and start with another person’s POV.

Labelling it is a great way to keep things clear.
What is the best advice you have for other authors?

Don’t let bad reviews get you down! They help sales, because it’s going to make others curious about why they feel that way, when the rest of the reviews are four to five stars. Sometimes, you will get someone jealous and they’ll mark all your books one star. I had it happen to me. But, just think of it this way. Are they really–after buying one of your books and hated it–going to go out and get another one?

No, I didn’t think so either.

Who is your favorite author? And why?

I love Jennifer Armentrout! Her writing is so amazing, and she knows how to add paranormal with romance and suspense and a mixture of different things that make me squeal. If anyone asked who I am inspired by as a writer, it would be her.

If you had to pick one book to live inside, which would it be?

Obsidian from Jennifer Armentrout!

What is the biggest flaw in your writing?

Total LOL moment. But, sometimes I switch tenses throughout the paragraph. I never catch it either.

That can be tricky! Thank God for editors, eh?

Where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kookycharacters

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spellbindingbooks/

Amazon Page: Author.to/LeahHamrick

Author Interview: M Pepper Langlinais

Interview Lime

The Book Squirrel was excited to sit down recently and chat with multi-genre author, M Pepper Langlinais. 

M Pepper Langlinais The_Fall_and_Rise_of_Peter_Stoller

 

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?
I think my favourite is still The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, maybe because I spent the most time on it. Almost three years from start to finish.

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

I’m not sure I can pick any one favourite. I can say Watership Down by Richard Adams had the greatest impact, though.

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

Well, we’re only to April, but I think the best thing I’ve read so far is Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. I wish I could write like that.

What are you working on writing now?

A lot of things! The sequel to my YA fantasy Manifesting Destiny, another Regency romance, and a YA contemporary retelling of Hamlet.

Ooh! They both sound great! I’ll have to follow you on Amazon and Goodreads so I know when you release them. 

Great idea!

Yeah! I wish more people – and squirrels – did that!

Me too!

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

My friend Abby and I went to London, and that was a lot of fun. But that’s tied with a really great family vacation at Disneyland. I don’t think I could choose between those two.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

There are a lot of them, but Young Sherlock Holmes will always be my favourite. I can watch the Indiana Jones movies over and over, too.

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

I actually wanted to work in film or television. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, though. I just knew I wanted to be part of that industry.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I like spring. I like that it’s getting warm and the flowers are blooming but the kids aren’t out of school yet.

Mmm. Spring… yummy flowers, juicy buds, and fresh fruit! Spring makes me a happy squirrel! Oh… erm… right. 

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Well, I know I was inspired by John Le Carré when writing Peter.
I’d say I’ve been influenced by Neil Gaiman a bit, even though I don’t write the same genre. (Well, someone did call The K-Pro “Neil Gaiman for girls.”)
And I suppose Sir Arthur Conan Doyle inspired my Sherlock Holmes stories.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Losing weight and avoiding traffic.

When you find the answers to those, let me know, eh?
And speaking of finding things… where can we find your books? 

The easiest thing would be to visit either my site at http://pepperwords.com and look under the Books tab for all my books and places to purchase, or go directly to my Amazon page at https://www.amazon.com/M-Pepper-Langlinais/e/B008FBOSPE/

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Social Media Logos Cutout.png

I’m on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mpepperlanglinais
Twitter at http://twitter.com/sh8kspeare
Instagram as http://www.instagram.com/p_stoller 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MPepperLanglinais

 

Thanks again for joining me in my tree today! It was great getting to know you!

You’re welcome! Thanks for the chat.