Book Review: ‘The Rite Of Wands’ by Mackenzie Flohr

Mackenzie Flohr has created a beautiful world of magical kingdoms in which ambition and conspiracy work to undermine the rightful order and overthrow the rule of the rightful king.

The story is populated by beautifully complex characters, among whom Mierta McKinnon and Orlynd O’Brien take the lead roles. Very few of the characters are transparent at all, so the story keeps on developing interest and intrigue as it progresses. The very fact that Mierta is so complicated and driven a character draws the reader into his thoughts and aspirations, and engages one deeply in the events of the story as they unfold.

It would be too simplistic to say that this is a story of a battle between good and evil. It may be so, but there are nuances and shades of truth and revelation, and of injustice and vindication, that obscure some elements of the characters and of the story so that the reader is never really able to foresee or predict what is yet to come. In this story, the only thing that is sure is that anything could happen. 
The story finished at a logical point of resolution, although I really didn’t want it to. A number of questions, both incidental and central to the story, remain to be answered in future books. I’m very keen for the next book!

All in all, this is shaping up to be the series I have been waiting for since I finished reading Harry Potter the seventh time over. It’s not more of the same – the world, the characters and the problems they face are very different, but The Rite Of Wands does capture the imagination in the same fantastic, magical way.

The Rite Of Wands is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

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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

Author Interview: Mackenzie Flohr

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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!

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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

Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

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Hey everyone, your favourite squirrel is back with another fabulous author interview!

Today I’m talking with Debbie Manber Kupfer, author of some great books all about paws!
Hi Debbie! Obviously I’m all for promoting great paws… tell me about your books?

Hi Squirrel! P.A.W.S is a series of Young Adult fantasy books, which features a secret institute of shapeshifters hidden deep beneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis.

Oh. Not about actual paws then… that’s a little awkward.

I also have stories in several anthologies, including FauxpocalypseStardust, Always,
Winter Wishes, and Sins of The Past, and I’ve published a book of puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with my son Joey.

Hey, that’s awesome!

Thanks!

That’s a cool accent you have there. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?

Well, Squirrel, I grew up in London, but since then I’ve lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis.

Hey, I’ve got a cousin in St Louis! What do you do there?

I work as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. I live with my husband, two children and a very opinionated feline.

Cats, huh?

Yeah.

So, Debbie, you sound busy! When do you find time to hoard your food for winter?

*laughing* I believe that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. I’ve been writing ever since I was small and find that many of my everyday experiences end up in my stories. Also I’m an avid people watcher and often write interesting folk I see into my books.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Probably P.A.W.S. As it was my first published book it definitely holds a place in my heart. It was where I first was introduced to my characters who have since become old friends.

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

E.A. Copen’s Guilty by Association, an awesome urban fantasy. I’m currently on book 2 of her series.

What are you working on writing now?

I’ve got book 4 of P.A.W.S. which is going to be called Londinium out with my beta readers at the moment, so in the meantime I’m getting a start on book 5. I wrote the first 30K words during Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to continue writing at least 1K words a day.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

The best, but also the saddest, was the last time I traveled with my father before he passed away. My daughter and I traveled to London (where I grew up) and met my parents there. (They lived in Israel at the time). For my dad it was his last hurrah. He knew it too and he loved that trip and especially getting to spend time with his granddaughter.

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

I wanted to be a journalist. I went on to do a gazillion different things including teacher, secretary and market researcher, but writing was always in the back of my mind. I never did work in a newspaper, but I’ve been a puzzle editor for Penny Press and today divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles so I’ve sorted ended up in the field I wanted as a kid.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Spring and autumn. Not fond of extremes in either heat or cold. Missouri’s weather this year has been rather odd though. We didn’t have much of a winter and have had some really hot days in March and April. Global warming, I guess.

That climate change stuff is bad news.

It sure is!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, and Terry Pratchett.

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

It takes a village to publish any book. You need an editor, beta readers, a cover designer, and a support network of friends to keep you grounded. You can’t do this on your own.

It’s fun, truly it is. And really rewarding too. I started off traditionally published at a small press. It was a good start, but switching over to indie was the best decision I could have made. I love having control over my work. Release dates, prices, covers, sales. Everything. Yes it can be frustrating too, but it’s truly worth it.

Plus the indie author community is beyond awesome. I’ve made so many good friends since I started this journey. Writing can sometimes feel like a lonely pursuit and it’s true that a lot of the magic takes place behind closed doors. But once your books are out there having a network of author friends to cross-promote with is invaluable.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Getting more readers and getting more reviews!

If I had a nut for every time I heard a writer say that, I’d be a happy squirrel!

I hear you.

 

Where can we find your books? 

The P.A.W.S. Saga – P.A.W.S., Argentum, Umbrae

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N34LR1F

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N34LR1F

And paperback everywhere – if they’re not in your local store or library, you can ask them to order them.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Paws4Thought: http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Twitter: @CiciCat42

Book Review: ‘Souls Discovered’ by Miranda Brock

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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.

Author Spotlight: Alex Dunn

Author Spotlight 2017-03-27 Alex Dunn

Alex Dunn is the author of some great YA reads, including ‘Crazy for Alice’, ‘School Monitor’ and her latest release, ‘Dating Down’.

Alex writes with a highly readable and relatable style, which has made her YA fiction novels widely popular not only with teens and young adults, but also with adult readers.

If you have not yet read the Book Squirrel review of ‘Crazy for Alice’, you can read it here.
Alex will soon be launching a new series:  Alchemyne: The Blackest Phase, which follows Captain Franklin Tennant, a fifteenth generation warrior who must defeat an army of undead, led by a vengeful spirit.

If you, or the bookworms in your family, like edgy, cleverly written YA fiction, you should give Alex Dunn’s books a try.

In fact, right now is a great time to grab ‘Dating Down’ as the kindle edition is currently free on Amazon.

You can follow Alex on social media:

twitter: www.twitter.com/AlexDunnAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AlexDunn

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Alex-Dunn/e/B001KHVNS0