New Release: A Poet’s Curse

A new collection of dark poetry that delivers justice in its most poetic form.

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A Poets Curse eBook 6x9People often say, “Never annoy a writer. She will put you in a book and kill you.”
These poems don’t kill anyone, but they leave the reader in no doubt whatsoever of  the poet’s feelings.

Uncomfortable truths, observations about life, and unashamedly honest responses to hateful people make this collection of poems highly relatable and deeply, darkly satisfying.

They say there is a special place in hell reserved for those who prey on others.
Until then, there is A Poet’s Curse.

Author Interview: Kari Holloway

Interview Cobalt

Hi folks! Today I’m chatting with Kari Holloway, an American writer who grew up in Leesburg, Georgia. She dabbles in southern romances filled with iconic components of sexy cowboys and firefighters, explores the unexplained in her paranormal series, and has found her way to the battlefields of the Civil War, and to love’s first kiss under the weeping willow through various anthologies.Head Shot__Reduced Size

Hi Kari, it’s great to have you here.

Hello! Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

You’re most welcome. I love meeting authors and talking about books. Tell me, what inspired you to write?

Truthful answer? I was a social fringe kind of kid. Screwed up bell-curve grades and preferring the uncool styles of country music and anime kept me there. I remember writing in school, but teachers wouldn’t allow students to bring notebooks on test days, so I brought books instead. Then in 2015 I went back to writing and haven’t stopped.

That’s the way! Don’t stop!

Absolutely!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Only one? There are scenes in Cracked But Never Broken that hurt my heart, Behind the Lens has those tantalizing moments of unsure requited love, Mark of Cain has my MC standing up for herself.
Trapped by Design is one of my favorites. It’s a paranormal short story set in the realm of my Devil’s Playground series. I haven’t published it yet. I’m shopping it around to publications. It starts off with Ava playing a game of peek-a-boo with her kid.

Oh, make sure you let me know when it’s out, and I’ll spread the word.

Hey, thanks!

No problem! What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks if we’re talking new school. If we’re talking in all of modern time, Sackett Series by Louis Lamour.

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

I got to see a sneak peek of the stories in A Contract of Words. They are amazing, and some leave me in awe while others just creep me out. I think that’s a good hallmark of a well-balanced anthology.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m trying to rein in my muse. She’s trying to start me on book 5 in the Devil’s Playground series while I’m under deadline for a group release in October.

Those darned muses certainly have a mind of their own, eh.

You got that right!

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

No. I tend to write while drinking a glass of sweet tea, but the tea’s the only thing I drink.

Who designs your book covers?

Steven Novak of Novak illustrations did my Laughing P series. German Creative is the designer on my Devil’s Playground series, and the short story covers are my handywork.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Country with some 60s, 70s, and 80s of Pop and Rock.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Depends on my mood. I live in a fairly rural place. Lots of woods merged with rolling farmland. The beach would be nice—watching the storms roll across the ocean, the fresh breeze, and shell collection. I couldn’t live in a city like Atlanta or New York, but small-town suits me just fine.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Scuba diving in the Florida Keys or off the coast of Panama City in Florida.

What’s your favourite TV show?

To be honest, I can’t think of the last show I didn’t catch on DVR. The two I do try to catch with regularity is Doctor Who and the Graham Norton Show.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

You’ve Got Mail. It’s hopeful and sweet.

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

I wanted to be a veterinarian.

I like you.

Awww! I like you, too!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Spring. Seeing the birds return in a slow migration of robins morphing into cardinals, the first few flowers determined to bloom, and it being warm/cool enough to have the windows open.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.”

That’s very thought-provoking!

It sure is!

What does a typical day hold for you?

I enjoy spending my evenings writing. During the day, it’s chasing my kids around, laughing at their sassy ways and the depths of their curiosity.

Sounds busy! What’s your motto in life?

Show the world the best version of you, for our actions of today make tomorrow.

Oh, I really like that.

Thanks!

Where can we follow you on social media?

I have a website, and an author page on Amazon. I’m also on Facebook and Tumblr.

Fantastic! And where can we find your books?

My books are all on Amazon, although not exclusively. The anthology ‘Love, Lust & Scary Monsters’ is in other stores as well.

Laughing P

 

 

Book Review: ‘Country of Daughters – Daughters Inn’ by Bijou Li

An interesting cross-cultural read.

Bijou Li Country of Daughters Daughters InnThis is a story of cultures confronting one another and the tension between tradition and innovation that follows. When a young woman travels to work in a traditional community that has just begun to embrace tourism, she discovers the different interests and motivations that cause ripples and turbulent undercurrents in Lugu Lake.

Written from the perspective of a Chinese woman who studied these communities, the reader can sense the authenticity of the both the narrative, which offers a profound exploration of the experiences of the people and the problems caused by significant differences in thinking. This is a fascinating study of the development of a traditional Chinese town and its people, something that most western readers certainly have very little idea about, yet at the same time, it reminds the reader that human nature doesn’t actually change much wherever you go. It’s also a timely reminder of what happens when economic concerns take precedence over environmental and social considerations, and the impact that has on both place and people.
Acorn Award II Silver

It’s an intriguing and thought-provoking story, which I very much enjoyed. I’ve awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Hare In The Wilderness’ by S.E. Turner

A very enjoyable fantasy story with a strong female role-model.

S.E. Turner A Hare In The WildernessI always appreciate a great story that teaches powerful lessons about human nature or about how we respond to the things that challenge us. ‘A Hare In The Wilderness’ is one such book: on one level, it is a powerful story of overcoming, of strength, and of love that will not let go. On a deeper level, it is one that reminds the reader that whatever flaw or weakness we may possess, there is far more to a person than that. When we build on our strengths rather than allowing our weakness direct our future, and choose to see the good in others rather than their flaws, we improve not only our own lives, but those of others, too. When we refuse to tolerate or accept prejudice and hatred, we empower those around us to do likewise.

‘A Hare In The Wilderness’ is a compelling and original fantasy tale, set in the fictional kingdoms of Ataxarta and Durundal. The settings focus more on the clan communities than on events at court, which makes the complications and challenges the people face highly relatable and involving for the reader, especially as they get to know the characters and communities better as the story progresses.
The characters form a wide and varied cast with Ajeya at centre-stage. A strong female role-model, she is a woman of both strength and conviction, committed to facing challenges head-on and overcoming the obstacles with which life presents her. Acorn Award II Silver

I really enjoyed this book. ‘A Hare In The Wilderness’ 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.

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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: ‘Hades’ Gate’ by D.J. Doyle

I thoroughly enjoyed this grim little horror short.

DJ Doyle Hades Gate

This is an excellent short story. Doyle has done an excellent job of building the suspense and the reader’s awareness of the sinister before making them gasp and recoil as the action heats up.

The characters are all very believable, and will remind the reader of people – or, at least, types of people – they know. Their banter and conversations draw the reader in, building familiarity with the characters so that by the time the story really gets going, the reader has an emotional investment in their wellbeing and fate. This heightens the tension as the story develops, and increases the impact of the climax of the story.
Acorn Award I Golden

I thoroughly enjoyed this grim little horror short, and have awarded it a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

 

Book Review: ‘The Blue Serpent’ by Claire Buss

This is a little gem of a book that is well worth reading.

Claire Buss The Blue SerpentHaving recently read and loved ‘The Book Thief’, I was keen to read this brand new collection of flash stories by Claire Buss. They are very different than her excellent novel, but they are great stories nonetheless.

Each story is a brief vignette of a life, a mind, a heart, a soul. Some of them are lighthearted and entertaining, others are much more sobering. I found ‘Possibility’ to be very poignant, while ‘Once Upon a Time’ turned out to be a very powerful commentary on our society that was further developed in ‘Data Stream’.

I appreciated each of these stories for its own qualities, and for the way it made me think about things other than the demands and worries of a busy day. I enjoy reading short stories when life is hectic, and this book has filled bill perfectly.  Acorn Award II Silver

This is a little gem of a book that is well worth reading, and as such, it has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.