Book Review: ‘Bad Candy’ by India Emerald

Bad Candy: fun for adults, not so good for kids.

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India Emerald Bad CandyThe title of this wicked little book is the first indication that it’s not all going to be about sweetness and innocence. In fact, it’s a romp full of magic, mystery and mayhem through the land of Charmnia, where some very bad business has been cooked up.

This story is a lot of fun, infused wtih good humour and plenty of action, and populated by a varied cast of characters, some of whom are more tasteful than others. As Marvelo discovers, it’s hard to know who to trust in a land where everything is sugar-coated, but he’s determined to find the answers he needs.

One important thing to note is that some of the humour is oriented toward adult understandings, so even though the book has a candy theme and motifs, it’s probably not suitable for audiences younger than mid-teens.
Acorn Award II Silver

This was an enjoyable short read at the end of a busy day, and it made me laugh. I’ve awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Familiar Betrayal’ by Lucretia Stanhope

The fourth book in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series does not disappoint.

Lucretia Stanhope EWT 4The fourth book in Lucretia Stanhope’s Elemental With Trials series, ‘Familiar Betrayal’ takes Gwen and the reader deeper into the darkness, not only of magic and the use of power by various entities, but also of her own desire for vengeance and quest for justice.  Her need to resolve issues of the past before giving birth adds an urgency to the unfolding of the story, and means that Gwen is forced to ponder consequences that cannot be predicted, and to make decisions whose outcomes remain to be revealed.

There is much at stake for Gwen, but also for the realms that battle one another for supremacy. The tension in this book comes not only form waiting to see how Her personal circumstances work out, but also from Gwen’s questions about whether or not she can make any real difference, or if she is merely trading off one form of evil against another.

While some of the issues and problems of the past are resolved, Gwen finds herself confronted with new and significant challenges. Even when things seem to be going well, the reader is still aware of the tension that exists both within Gwen and in the worlds in which she lives. Her character continues to evolve with experience and knowledge, making her both admirable and a positive model in the reader’s eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Stanhope has yet again ensured that the story is gripping and interesting as it progresses into each new phase.

Acorn Award II Silver
Familiar Betrayal has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

 

Book Review: ‘The Dance Plays On’ by D. Denise Dianaty

The Dance Plays On is an enchanting original Victorian Gothic story.

Denise Dianaty The Dance Plays On‘The Dance Plays On’ reads quite like a Victorian Gothic story. All the classic elements are present, and yet this story is quite original. In an opening scene that could have come right out of Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’, the author introduces the main character, her guardian, and a handsome, heroic young man.

Elspeth is the most fully developed of the characters, while some remain somewhat two-dimensional. It must be said, though, that this is neither unusual nor out of place for a story of this length. While immediately positioned to like and favour Elspeth, the reader is less enamoured with her guardian, Mrs McIlroy, and experiences quite some relief to see her develop so that she becomes less aloof and detached, and actually demonstrates genuine care and affection for both Elspeth and her beau.

I enjoyed the melancholy, haunting tone and the eerie foreshadowing of the second half of the story, which kept the “heroine in distress” trope from being cliched or predictable.
Acorn Award II Silver

This beautiful story has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Forever Boy’ by Lita Burke

‘Forever Boy’ is a delightful clockpunk short read.

Lita Burke Forever Boy
‘Forever Boy’ is a delightful clockpunk story of the difference made in one young life when kindness and generosity cause bad magic to be replaced with good.

Kadmeion and Bright are nicely developed magical characters who drive the narrative. Instantly likeable, they engage and involve the reader through their rescue and rehabilitation of a small dog who, like many things in the magical world, turns out to be so much more than what he initially seemed.

This is a great read to enjoy in less than an hour, making it ideal for bookworms with busy lives, or to fill in a lunch break.
Acorn Award II Silver

‘Forever Boy’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Author Interview: ML Sparrow

Book Squirrel chats with ML Sparrow, author of sci-fi, fantasy and romance for both YA and adult readers.

Interview Purple

Book Squirrel chats with ML Sparrow, author of sci-fi, fantasy and romance for both YA and adult readers.
Hi, ML. It’s great to have you here.

Thank you for having me, Book Squirrel!

Why don’t you start by telling us what inspired you to write?

From a young age I loved writing, so I can’t actually remember what inspired me to start; I’d scribble stories about animals in notebooks and draw pictures to go with them. Thankfully, I stopped doing the pictures when I realised I’m awful at drawing! I guess I wanted to write stories like the ones I loved to read, since I’ve always been a bookworm!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

ML Sparrow No Rest For The Wicked

That’s such a hard question! My stories are so different, not just different genres but different character types and writing styles, so it’s hard to choose a favourite because I like them all for different reasons. Sin, from Ghetto, is my favourite hero so far. Red Days and A Tangled Web are important to me because of all the things I learnt whilst researching them, since they are based on true events. However, No Rest for the Wicked holds a special place in my heart since it was the first story I ever completed, so I’ll go out on a limb and say that one is my favourite so far.

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

So basically you’re asking me what my favourite book is? I both love and hate this question, because I can never answer it but at least I get the chance to talk about books!
My favourite authors are Nalini Singh, Cherise Sinclair and Kresley Cole. I’m constantly re-reading their books and I mark upcoming releases on my calendar so that I can dive straight into it the day it comes out.
In classical circles, The Iliad is one of my favourite books, but I also like Wuthering Heights, though not for the reasons most people like it – I DO NOT think it’s a romance, I just enjoy how horrible all the characters are.

I could go on and on, but I won’t! If you want to know more about my favourite books, I talk specifically about them in my interview with Ryan Lieske.

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

Since we’re just a few months into 2018 and I’ve only read a few books so far, I’ll let you know about my favourite books of 2017 instead.
I read loads of great books in 2017, the ones that really stick out are Wicked Abyss by Kresley Cole, Cress by Marissa Meyer and the Captive Prince trilogy by C.S Pacat.

For a full list of my favourite books from 2017, check out this blog post.

Hey, that’s great! I’m going to follow your blog!

Oh cool! You’ve really got it all going on, don’t you, Book Squirrel?

The most bookish – and technologically savvy – squirrel in the forest, at your service.
*takes a bow*
What are you working on writing now?

ML Sparrow PlayerI’m currently working on two things at the moment. Primarily I’m focusing on Flirt, the second book in my What Happens on Campus Series. It’s a NA contemporary romance which starts with Player and is set at a university in Texas. However, I’m also working on Raw, which is a sexual, psychological thriller.

I like how varied your books are. I’m sure you never get bored that way!

Very true.

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

Food and drink are my nemesis whilst I’m writing! I love to snack and I’m addicted to fizzy drinks, so I’m trying to cut that out whilst I’m writing, because although I enjoy it, it’s really not very good for me!

Who designs your book covers?

I’ve worked with several cover designers for my books, but my favourites are Damonza and Deranged Doctor Designs; they create amazing covers and are really great to work with, both professional and friendly. Their prices are on the more expensive side, but it really is worth paying for a professional cover for your novel. Despite the saying, people really do judge books by the cover.

Yes, I think that’s true.
What’s your favourite kind of music?

I’m sure everyone probably says this, but I listen to all kinds of music, whether it’s classical, rock or pop. It really just depends on what mood I’m in! Currently, I’m going through a country phase so I’m listening to lots of Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Although I’m living in Tokyo, I’m really more of a country girl. I love a nice, hot beach holiday, but if I have to choose somewhere to live and money was no object, I’d pick the country, near a forest for long walks with all the dogs I plan to rescue. 🙂

That’s lovely, although I hope you’ll train them not to chase squirrels.

I’ll do my best!

Much appreciated!
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Most people my age seem to hate going on holiday with their family, but I absolutely love it. I’ve been travelling by myself and seen some amazing places such as Japan, Mexico and Sri Lanka, but nothing beats going away with my parents and sister, whether it’s a short beach break or camping, I just enjoy being with my family. For me it’s not about the location, it’s who you’re with that make the holiday special.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Asking me what my favourite TV show is, is almost as dangerous as asking me about my favourite book! Some of my favourites are One Tree Hill, Poldark, The Vicar of Dibley, Supernatural (although I stopped watching after the 6th season, I still love the earlier ones) and The Big Bang Theory. Also, I’ve recently discovered Grey’s Anatomy and am totally hooked!

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

I’ve always wanted to be an author, except for when I was very, very young and I wanted to be a farmer. I’m beginning to think becoming a farmer may have been more lucrative than becoming an author, but I just love writing too much to stop!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I love summer, for the simple reason that it’s hot. Having lived in England until recently, the weather is pretty unreliable and it rains even in summer, but at least there’s a chance of sunshine!

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

I have the quote ‘Decide what to be and go be it’ by the Avett Brothers tattooed on my arm. It’s one of my favourite quotes because whenever I feel like giving up, or I feel like I’m getting nowhere with my writing, I look at it and it reminds me to keep going until I get where I want to be.

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

Being an author (whether it’s Indie or otherwise) is a vocation; much like working with animals and children, authors write because they love it, not, for the most part, because they make lots of money!
Therefore, leaving a review, even if it’s as simple as ‘I really liked this book’ makes such a difference. Not only do reviews increase the chance of other people buying the book but they are also great for the author to read. Personally, I love all the reviews I get, good or bad. I know not everyone is going to like my work and if a bad review is constructive I know where I went wrong and what to improve in the future. I recently had someone comment on one of my Twitter posts that she loved the book in question (A Tangled Web) and that simple comment made my whole day!

Understandably so!
Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

  1. Getting up in the morning.
  2. Editing; although it’s necessary I really, really hate editing!

Where can we find copies of your books?

My books are all on Amazon, and there’s more information about each of them on my website.

Where can we follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Gooodreads.
I also have a great website where readers can contact me, and everyone is more than welcome to visit.

Book Review: ‘Out Of The Sands’ by S.A. Gibson and Safa Shaqsy

A fascinating steampunk adventure short story.

SA Gibson Safa Shaqsy Out Of The Sands‘Out Of The Sands’ is a fascinating steampunk adventure short story of political intrigue set in Egypt during a time of social reconstruction.

Aaleyah has been hired to survey the nation’s antiquities; Sunil is her engineer and balloonist. They are immediately very likeable and well-crafted characters, and develop more fully as the story progresses.

The plot unfolds at an exciting pace, with lots of action and movement to keep the reader engaged throughout. The steampunk elements are subtle and well-designed, adding elegance and depth to the story.

This is a very enjoyable and interesting read, finished comfortably in an hour, and includes libraries, history, and sword fighting. What more could a reader want in a story?
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Out Of The Sands’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Sediments’ by Lyra Shanti

An exhibition of the extent and versatility of the talent of this wonderful poet and author, ‘Sediments’ is a definite must for lovers of contemporary poetry.

Shanti’s poetry is rich and sensory, full of imagery that draws the reader into the emotion and wellsprings of the poet’s mind.

Lyra Shanti Sediments

Drawing on mythological themes and elements of Biblical allegory, although it is by no means religious poetry, Shanti explores her place in time, relationships, and the universe through themes of belonging, human vulnerability, equality, and home. She is a master of contrast and balance, weighing sensitivity against images of those things that overwhelm, and confidence in belonging despite her humility, framed within a very real sense of awareness of the immeasurable breadth and depth of the universe.

 
Among the many brilliant poems in this collection, my favourites are  ‘Key of E’ and ‘Testament’.

An exhibition of the extent and versatility of the talent of this wonderful poet and author, ‘Sediments’ is a definite must for lovers of contemporary poetry.

Acorn Award I Golden‘Sediments’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.