Book Review: Blessedly Bound by Lucretia Stanhope

Lucretia Stanhope Blessedly Bound

‘Blessedly Bound’ is so bewitching,I found it hard to put down.

The central character, Gwen, is an enigma of strength and vulnerability combined, which makes her easy to empathise with: surely, when we are being honest, that is how we perceive ourselves?

The reader is also tantalised by the fact that the reader doesn’t ever really know who the good guys are – the candidates for Gwen’s “hero” are compelling blends of good and bad, so that one is never really sure which way each of them will turn out.

While the pivotal storyline of the book is brought to a satisfying resolution, there is still plenty of mystery and intrigue left for sequels as questions, doubts, and fears remain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely be reading the sequel.
I’ve given this great paranormal mystery read five stars.

Blessedly Bound and other books by the same author are available on Amazon.

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

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.

Book Review: The Dragon Warrior Of Kri by Lyra Shanti

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.

Author Interview: J.S. Bailey

Interview Lime
Welcome to another fabulous Book Squirrel author interview! 
Today, I’d like to introduce J. S. Bailey, author of  supernatural suspense novels and short stories.
Welcome, J.S! 

Thank you!

What inspired you to write?

I don’t know! I have written for as long as I’ve known how to read. My earliest “stories” date from when I was five years old, and I’d decided to make children’s books that I illustrated myself. One was about a “baer” that went to school. Thankfully my writing has matured a bit over time. 😉

 

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

JS Bailey Ordinary Souls

I’ve enjoyed writing most of my books, but my absolute favorite is my short story collection Ordinary Souls. It’s an eclectic mix of light horror and science fiction and features 16 stories that have a sort of Twilight Zone vibe to them.
The main story in the collection, “The Mirror,” is about Elena, a wealthy antique collector who brings home an old mirror that at times shows her her reflection as it appears in the future. Once Elena has caught on to what the mirror is showing her, she fixates on what her future self is doing and tries very hard to avoid it.
Writing “The Mirror” was challenging because it takes place in London, where I have never been. I had to conduct much more research while writing this 12,000-word story than I’ve done for 100,000-word novels! I do love British literature and television, so that helped.

 

Who is your preferred audience?

I write for adults, but my books are not erotic/sexual in any way.

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

It may be cliche, but I adore the Harry Potter series and always will. J. K. Rowling has a way with words that few authors have, and her characters are some of the most developed I have ever read.

 

Oh! I love those too! I just wish there had been a magical squirrel at Hogwarts…

Nawww! What a cool idea!


What are you working on writing now?

Too many things! I’m finalizing my supernatural thriller Surrender: The Chronicles of Servitude Book 3 and have been slowly plotting out Solemnity: The Chronicles of Servitude Book 4. The series is about Bobby Roland, a socially-awkward psychic who has premonitions of disaster whenever someone he knows is about to die. Unfortunately for Bobby, the people he knows are always getting into terrible trouble.

 

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I’ve visited the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee many times, but one vacation that stands out is the time my husband and I went there in 2012 and hiked the whole week. We hiked up Mt. LeConte–7 hours round-trip–and saw so many breathtaking views. Different kinds of wildflowers I’d never seen before grew at different elevations on the mountain. It was beautiful beyond words, and I’d love to do it again.
What movie can you watch over and over again?

I don’t watch too many movies (I’m more into TV shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural), but I do love the movies Interstellar and Ed Wood. I’m not really sure what that says about me…

JS Bailey Rages Echo

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

For a while I’d wanted to be a teacher, but then I realized that large groups of children are terrifying. I did always want to be an author, so I guess you could say I’ve lived my dream.

 

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

J. K. Rowling for the reasons stated above. I’m also a massive fan of Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl. Poe because his works are beautifully dark, and Dahl because his short stories are wickedly twisted. Dahl could make a sunny day seem sinister!

 

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

I admire the actor Peter Capaldi because of his kindness toward his fans, Steven Moffat for his gripping storytelling in Doctor Who, and my husband for putting up with my weirdness all these years.

 

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Paying the bills, and finding time to write!
Where can we find your books?

JS Bailey booksigning

Readers may purchase my books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, Kobo, iBooks, and more.
 
Where can readers follow you on social media?
I might be found lurking at Facebook and Twitter
And be sure to add my books on Goodreads
Thanks for chatting with me today, J.S! It’s been fun!
Thanks, Book Squirrel!

Book Review: Moon Breaker by Matthew Marchitto

Matthew Marchitto Moon Breaker

This is a highly interesting and exciting story that gives the reader plenty to think about.

In Moon Breaker, Marchitto delivers a gripping, brutal portrayal of a society breaking down from within through a tribal fantasy adventure story that explores what happens to a society when its people abandon the values that underpin it.

Moon Breaker raises significant ethical questions about how the value a society places on the wellbeing of the individual vs that of the collective, and the impact that value has on what is considered right and wrong.  The events and characters of the story challenge the reader to think about what happens when common understandings of truth and right are actually based on lies, as well as when those lies are confronted and exposed, and the consequences this can have for individuals.

This book is really well written. The central characters are complex and well-developed, while the necessary qualities of the secondary and minor characters are portrayed clearly and effectively in the light of the key ideas and message of the story.

Marchitto’s expression and imagery was creative and powerful, delivering his ideas in profound ways. My favourite line in the book is where Nala, in her grief, watches keepsakes possessions burn along with something more sacred and valuable. With the conviction that nothing mattered anymore, her observation is that “they all burned the same in her eyes.”
That line made me pause and think about how realistic that was as a portrayal of the effect of grief on an individual who has lost far more than “things”.

The story moved at a good pace and kept me intrigued from one phase to the next.  The ending is as profound as the discoveries made along the way by Nala, Koll and Kohn.

All in all, it’s a ripping good read that offers a fascinating study of human nature along the way.

It’s a solid five stars from me.

You can find Moon Breaker on Amazon.

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

Book Review: Sweet Discovery by Aliya DalRae

Having thoroughly enjoyed Sweet Vengeance, the first book in Aliya DalRae‘s Jessica Sweet mysteries, and Bittersweet, the back story of Malcom, I was keen to read Sweet Discovery.

Aliya DalRae Sweet Discovery

Not until I started reading did I realise how ironic the title is – many more questions than discoveries were arising in the most fascinating and heart-stopping ways. Absolutely, 110% intrigued, I had to keep on reading to find the answers to my own questions and theories, as well as Jessica’s.

This book is a fast-paced roller coaster of emotions, complete with loop-the-loops and tilt-a-whirls of mystery, secrets, horror, and intense personal conflicts for a number of key characters.

It’s a mark of a great writer that a story can take you on the journey not just of the main characters and the key plot, but also of the other characters through sub-plots that weave seamlessly with the main story. Characters I disliked intensely in the first book became more likeable not only through the development of their personality and actions, but also through gaining a greater understanding of their motivations and histories. Other characters that I quite liked in the first book underwent an almost opposite kind of transition. Once again, DalRae reminds us through this fabulous book that no matter how confident we might be that we’re right about people or situations, or even that we know something for sure, things aren’t always what they seem.

If you’re looking for delicious paranormal mystery adventure laced with more than a dash of hot sauce and romance, look no further. DalRae’s Jessica Sweet mysteries are the books for you.

Now, I’m waiting with bated breath for the next in the series. I’m definitely hungry for the next course.

Aliya DalRae’s Jessica Sweet mysteries are all available on Amazon.

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