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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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.

Absence of Colour: Spectrum of Colour Book 1 by Susan Wee

‘Absence of Colour’ is an engaging and intriguing tale of escaping the past and searching for identity and justice.

 
Susan Wee 1 Absence of Colour

The band of characters in this book are quite well developed, and the reader is drawn into a strong feeling of empathy with Conny, Frankie and Twig in particular. The villain is well-drawn and distinctly odious: there are times when  his actions do make the reader uncomfortable and quite angry. This sets the action of the story in motion: each of the main characters and a number of the minor characters must work together to achieve justice and to reclaim that which has been taken from them.

The book brings some resolution to the conflicts faced by Twig and Conny, along with a sense of relief in the immediate circumstances, but the reader is also very aware that there are still questions and problems that remain unsolved. In this way, the reader is strongly motivated to read the second book in the series – ‘The Colour of Evil’.  The title itself is both enticing and ominous, leaving the reader intrigued and eager to know more.

I’ve given this book a good solid 4 stars.

You can find Absence of Colour Book 1, and the rest of the series, on Susan Wee’s Amazon page.

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

Book Review: ‘Souls Discovered’ by Miranda Brock

miranda-brock-souls-discovered
Ohmygosh. What??
I’ve just finished this book and I have no words.
It’s SO good though. Extraordinarily good.
Highs, lows, plot twists, and every emotion conceivable… this is your fate if you pick up this book.  And if you do… you won’t be sorry.
You will love the characters, you will love the story, you will scream and cry and try to slam on the brakes as you ride the rollercoaster of this plot. And you’ll read, and read, and read, until it’s done. And then you’ll have no words either.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and curl up in the corner and rock until the sequel is delivered.

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‘Souls Discovered is available as a paperback or eBook from Amazon.

Author Spotlight: Jesse Frankel

Author Spotlight 2017-04-09 Jesse Frankel

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Jesse Frankel is a prolific writer of YA novels who was born in Canada and now lives in Japan, where he writes YA novels in addition to teaching English and being a family man.
As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he also enjoys weight training, watching movies and listening to music.
His novels feature highly original and exciting story lines that explore themes and issues relevant to teens and young adults today while upholding important values such as respect, loyalty and friendship. The characters are relatable and realistic, so that readers can identify with them and the situations in which they find themselves.
In a recent author interview, Jesse explained his reasons for choosing to write YA fiction:
ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 09 17.07                                                                                                   from Kelly Smith Reviews
You can follow Jesse on twitter and Amazon, and on the following websites:

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Jesse’s books are all available on Amazon.