Book Review: ‘The Castle’ by Nikki Moyes

A highly original and engaging short read.

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Nikki Moyes The Castle
‘The Castle’ is a fantasy/scifi short story about Risha, who finds herself vulnerable because of her age and place in society.

 

This is a story in which the author has created an empowering female lead character for a YA audience, something that we definitely need to see more of at this point in time. Rather than dwelling on her weaknesses, Risha focuses on her strengths and uses them to face the situation in which she finds herself.

 

The reader is quickly immersed in Risha’s world, becoming an observer and looking over Risha’s shoulder as she transforms from an observer into an actor in the story that unfolds,  taking some surprising turns that keep the reader guessing.

 

Highly original and engaging, this is a great short read that can easily be enjoyed in a lunch break.

Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘The Castle’ a Gold Acorn.

 

Find your copy on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Kupala Night’ by N.C. Stow

A beautifully written fantasy tale.

N.C. Stow The Kupala Night

 

When I was young, I had a book of Russian folk stories that filled my imagination with vivid colours, magnificent imagery and rich stories that always had a deeper meaning.  This was where my lifelong interest in Russian history began.

 

‘The Kupala Night’ took me right back there, and filled me with the same fascination that I remember feeling all those years ago.

 

Inspired by Russian folklore, this is the beautifully written fantasy tale of a young woman who carelessly fails to heed her grandmother’s warnings.  Unforeseen consequences deliver a clear moral, as exists in every Russian folk tale, before the story finishes with another twist.

It’s a short story that takes less than 30 minutes to read, but the style and beauty of the writing make the reading both satisfying and delightful. Vivid images of the scenes and characters played in my imagination as the story unfolded.

Acorn Award I Golden

I thoroughly enjoyed this short read, and have awarded it a Gold Acorn.

Find it on Amazon.

 

Book Review: ‘A Shape On The Air’ by Jill Ibbotson

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Julia Ibbotson A Shape On The Air

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Drawn into the life of Vivianne Du Lac, history professor, the reader is almost immediately plunged into an intricate web of complications, challenges and unexpected developments that are woven together so that no strand of the story is independent of the others. The narrative is smooth and well-constructed, and Ibbotson’s writing is excellent.

The characters are very well crafted, especially given that each fits into more than one story strand. Viv is the most complex and detailed of them all, being the central character, but the others are all given depth through their interactions and responses as the story progresses.

More than simply being enjoyable, this is a thought-provoking and involving read in which the reader becomes completely engrossed. Acorn Award I Golden

‘A Shape On The Air’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Crossroads of Draston’ – An Anthology

A varied and entertaining fantasy collection.

‘Crossroads of Draston’ delivers a varied collection of highly original fantastic tales of elves, dwarves, mages, people and beasts, and of the challenges and struggles they face. All of the stories are well-written and engaging.

As with any anthology, some were more to my taste than others. Of all these Dragonband Tales, those that appealed to me most were ‘The Librarian’ and ‘Magic Within’.

In ‘The Librarian’ the reader is introduced to Wiggum, a delightful gnome burdened with insatiable curiosity, who discovers that even seemingly benign actions can have significant consequences. I really wanted this story to be much longer.

Alaya, the central character of ‘Magic Within’, is the kind of heroine I really love – loyal, brave, and dogged, fully committed to freeing those who are enslaved and serving justice to those who deserve it. I would really like to read the next “chapter” in her story, too.

This collection offers everything from high fantasy to more visceral and macabre stories, so there is something for all fantasy lovers here.

Acorn Award II SilverBook Squirrel has awarded ‘Crossroads of Draston’ a Silver Acorn because it’s an entertaining and varied fantasy anthology.

Find it on Amazon.

Author Interview: Dylan Madeley

Book Squirrel chats today with Dylan Madeley, author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Interview Lime

Book Squirrel chats today with Dylan Madeley, author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Hi Dylan!

Hi Book Squirrel!

Let’s get straight into it, eh? What inspired you to write?

My dad was always reading and writing and then talking about how he was going to write, himself; children’s books or whatnot. I was really young at the time and caught the bug. Now I find I have two books on the market and I am waiting for his first, but life is funny that way.

What are you working on writing now?

The third book in the Gift-Knight Trilogy, to neatly close that off: The Masked Queen’s Lament. The first draft was written in 2011 under a different working title, and finally (finally!) I am prepared to look at it, make an outline of what’s actually in the book, make a counter-outline of what I want it to look like, and rewrite the whole thing using the first draft as source material.

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

I am very partial to freshly home-roasted coffee, yerba mate, irn bru, or herbal tea during the writing process. Food is more like drifting between sweet and savoury snacks, though like many of my Toronto NaNoWriMo brethren, I am partial to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

*sigh* I love Canada… and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups… oh, *cough* right! Yes! Where were we? 
Who designs your book covers?

For this first trilogy, all cover art is by Rona Dijkhuis and designed in a collaborative process. She did also assist with back cover layout/art once I moved to CreateSpace for print on demand paperbacks.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I have a good chunk of the Dead Can Dance studio album catalogue sitting in iTunes, but to freshen things up, I will go for just any music that seems to scratch an itch at the time. I like the couple of albums LEGEND (Icelandic dark electronic band) has put out. I can flip fully over to movie soundtracks and harsher industrial music, or straight up pop, but whatever it is has to feel right at the time.

What’s the best vacation you had?

Ethiopia. By far. Also the last. Full range of emotions experienced. I have four separate photo albums of what I saw/experienced there in my Flickr, under the user name “Dylerpillar”.

That sounds amazing. I’ll be sure to check those out!

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

What jumps to mind is “astronaut”. I probably wanted to be whatever had looked coolest most recently to me, but that’s an early one that seems to be more important than the others for some reason. I was also a complete failure at math once you get to Relations and Irrational/Real numbers and whatever we were struggling at by grade 10 or 11. And no better at Computer Science for that matter. Fortunately, one of those things was “writer” too, and somewhat more within reach of the skill sets I have developed.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I am one of the autumn people, the ones you may have been warned about. It doesn’t have the oppressive heat summer can have, nor the bone-chill of winter, nor the heaps of allergens that tend to get me in spring (though spring would be in a close second for its balanced temperatures and precipitation).
What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

Your greatest asset is you, being present with your audience in person. This asset has more value than all the high priced marketing things you can sign up for put together. Be with your audience at vendor markets where you have a stall, at autograph sessions and readings, in their libraries, at their panels, in-person. If you have the skill set to make that work, you can probably make online presence work too.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

I: Editing, namely self-editing, editing my own work. Enough said.
II: Stress-free social interactions with strangers and most other human beings. They’re mostly good but a part of me is often on edge for reasons I could write whole essays about, but wouldn’t try to fit in this interview.
I hear you. People can be so… people-ish. And they don’t always try to understand my Squirrelness.

Right!

Where can we buy your books?

Ebook editions can currently be purchased through Amazon:

and Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-crown-princess-voyage

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow @thedylanmadeley on Twitter, and like/follow my Facebook Page.

Thanks for joining me today, Dylan!

Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

Book Review: ‘Fairytale Christmas’ by Merrie Destefano

This was Book Squirrel’s Bookish Advent Event selection on December 20, so it’s lovely to be able to award ‘Fairytale Christmas’ a delicious Gold Acorn on Christmas Eve!

Merrie DeStefano FairyTale Christmas

A magical story of the power of love and its ability to endure despite time and evil. The tension of the opening chapters is gripping, setting the scene for the rest of the story to build and develop.

The seamless blend of original fantasy, paranormal elements and legend makes this book unique and fascinating.

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

Golden AcornsThis was Book Squirrel’s Bookish Advent Event selection on December 20, so it’s lovely to be able to award ‘Fairytale Christmas’ a delicious Gold Acorn on Christmas Eve!

Find it at Amazon.

Dec 22 ~ Featured Book: ‘Goldmayne’ by Kate Stradling.

This is a blend and retelling of two quite obscure fairy tales from French-Canadian folklore. As Quebec is one of Book Squirrel’s favourite places in the whole world, this was a “must” for Christmas reading. 

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 22 is ‘Goldmayne’ by Kate Stradling.

This is a blend and retelling of two quite obscure fairy tales from French-Canadian folklore. As Quebec is one of Book Squirrel’s favourite places in the whole world, this was a “must” for Christmas reading. Kate Stradling Goldmayne

Evil witches, cursed royalty, heroes by happenstance, and happily ever after: Duncan does not believe in fairy tales, but when he runs away from his father’s farm, he tumbles headlong into one. Old Dame Groach recruits him as caretaker of her crumbling estate, where he must tend her poisonous garden, beat her white horse daily, and keep far away from the mysterious closet beneath the stairs… and that’s only the start of his fantastical troubles! A retelling and shameless embellishment of the French-Canadian folk tales, “Scurvyhead” and “Sir Goldenhair.”

‘Goldmayne’ is available on Amazon.