Just to make it clear, this is not a contest that people can vote on. This is an entirely subjective and preference-driven selection process. Book Squirrel knows what he likes, and that’s what he reads. When he reads, he always leaves a review. And on the Book Squirrel blog, he awards gold, silver or bronze acorns instead of a star rating system.
At the end of the year, he chooses the best of the books he has read and reviewed, and gives some nice shiny awards to the wonderful authors who entertained and enlightened him in the past twelve months.
This year, gold and silver awards were given to books in 20 genres, across a variety of age ranges, interests and styles.
While Book Squirrel is fully committed to being as fair and impartial as a squirrel can be, so you can be sure that the winners of Golden Squirrel Awards are excellent reads, and worthy of recognition.
While Shakespeare was writing plays and fancy sonnets that made him incredibly famous, Miguel de Cervantes was sitting in a jail cell for getting his accounts wrong while working for the Spanish tax department, writing this work of comic genius that would bring him, too, worldwide fame.
As always, the comedic examines important issues and ideas in ways that no other form feels free to do. Think of medieval court jesters and today’s stand-up comedians – they make their mark on the world by saying things nobody else feels free to say and making people laugh at the same time. That’s exactly what Don Quixote does.
Don Quixote is a story about a man who is so obsessed with stories of chivalry, romance and adventure that he loses his mind and sets off on his own missions of derring-do and knightly behaviour. He is a man who cannot separate the imaginary from the real world, so in his version of reality, he rescues damsels, fights giants, and seeks to solve the problems and wrongs that beset the people he meets. Everyone else, including his own faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, thinks he’s nuts.
It’s a story that could be sad and pathetic, but it’s written with a strong sense of comedy and powerful wit that enable the reader to empathise with Don Quixote, who is a man living his dream in every sense of the word. There are some “Groundhog Day” elements, with some scenes being relived and reinvented long after the fact, which emphasises both the delusion and the intelligence of Don Quixote as the creator of his own reality.
As the story progresses, it poses an interesting dilemma: if you can’t actually do what you’d most like to do, and if your imagination can take you there and allow you to do it- is it crazy to pursue your dream, or madness to forego the pleasure?
It’s a fascinating and fun read that, like Shakespeare’s works, has inspired musicals, ballets, films, and countless other stories and novels in the 400+ years since its publication.
The ultimate story of friendship, loyalty and chivalry, ‘The Three Musketeers’ is full of the adventure, swordfighting and drama that was life for the king’s Musketeers of the Guard. This book transports the reader to early 17th century Paris and all the intrigues and machinations of courtly and public life.
I always felt a bit sorry for d’Artagnan that the book wasn’t called ‘The Four Musketeers’, but on the other hand, Athos, Aramis and Porthos were exactly the kind of men that a swashbuckling heroic adventure story should be named after.
I guess d’Artagnan could be satisfied knowing that many people would know his name even if they couldn’t name the others.
The Musketeers’ catch cry, “All for one and one for all!” has been adopted and echoed many times by groups of friends the world over, including my beloved Indie Fabs, six author friends bound by friendship, support and loyalty.
This is still a tremendous read which I highly recommend. Of the movies and TV adaptations I have seen, the black and white movies I grew up watching almost did the book justice, and the recent BBC TV production The Musketeers is brilliant, but they aren’t quite the same as reading the book.
‘Bleak House’ takes Dickens’ readers off the streets and out of the factories of Victorian England, and immerses them in a complicated, old and bitterly fought legal case in which questions of inheritance, corruption and legality are explored. Dickens brings the court case to life through his characters who are, in one way or another, personally invested in the outcome.
It’s far more than just a legal drama, though. It’s an epic tale of family, personal entanglements, deception, and even murder. Some characters know little of the past, while others know far more than they are willing to tell.
I really love the way Dickens shrouds the past in mystery and develops an almost tanglible sense of intrigue in his storytelling in ‘Bleak House’. In contrast to ‘A Christmas Carol’, this is a much longer and more involved novel in which the development of both plot and characters is intricate and complex. It is written with Dickens’ typical satirical social commentary and acute insights into human nature.
This is one of the best of Dickens’ novels, and sits at the top of my list of favourites alongside ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The Past is Always Present: New Music for Old Rituals
This is a story of folk horror and of its roots in much older tales. It’s a story of how these old, cautionary tales still cast long shadows in contemporary culture. And of course, it’s part of the story why I wrote my second collection, the nineteen tales of folk-horror that make up my second collection, New Music for Old Rituals (Black Shuck Books 2018).
New Music For Old Rituals (Black Shuck Books 2018)
This collection grew organically from my own upbringing as a child in rural Ireland, where the very landscape was infused with myth and folklore. I grew up on the site of the great Irish saga of the Táin Bó Cúailnge halfway between two towns, Dundalk, where the Táin hero, Cuchulainn was born and Ardee, where he slew his best friend Ferdia at a pivotal battle−even my…
Another dark February day dawns and we continue our daily dose of hellish horror with author of dark fiction, Kris Weeks.
Kris Weeks has been writing since she was young with many of her stories published in Hustler Magazine. As well as writing together with her husband, horror writer TJ Weeks, she has published quite a few standalone horrors. She loves writing about crazy women who have the urge to kill yet live normal lives.
Which horror genre do you write in ?
Why do you write horror? Tell us about your horror journey?
I started writing erotica as a teenager and had numerous stories published in Hustler magazine. I quit writing for a long time until I met my husband. Once he realized I liked to write as he does, we began to write together and I began writing my own style of…
Today’s featured author for Women in Horror Month is Jessica Flaherty. I’ve borrowed this interview from Fiona at Unusual Fiction, as she is featuring some great authors that have not yet been featured at WordyNerdBird.
It’s our second weekend of fabulously fearsome fiction and today I am delighted to welcome to Unusual Fiction author of paranormal horror and fantasy, Jessica Flaherty.
Jess Flaherty is one lucky writer. She has two great kids, a day job that she loves, and she gets to co-write an ever-expanding paranormal universe with her very best friend, her husband Keith.
Their novel, Always Darkest, features a demon named Ben. It garnered a review from fantasy icon Piers Anthony, who called it, “A very different story” and “A solid fantasy novel.” Fans have compared their style to a combination of Douglas Adams, George R.R. Martin, and Christopher Lamb. It was selected as Book Talk Radio Club’s Best in Fantasy for 2018 and continues to garner strong reviews and a dedicated following.
Something’s Gotta Give takes another look at Ben’s life, from before the adventures of Always Darkest. This story of a…
Welcome everyone to my first guest blogger @theBoldMom who is a prolific reader of all things dark and wonderful. Today she will share some lovely book recommendations for Valentine’s Day.
Very often I see myself swimming between books and stories that could step in horror and dark fantasy. The limit? It certainly depends on the reader and the level of darkness they are able to absorb. I think I’m not alone on this island, so I’d like to talk about some books which fantasy and
horror lovers will enjoy, each one from a different perspective.
DESERT SHADOWS by Joshua Dowidat is one of the books I have deeply enjoyed. Dowidat sets
a stage of darkness and childhood memories to afterwards, holding your hand through a forest of ghosts and demons where you can’t flee from. I’m never tired of recommending this book.
I always feel a little naked when asked to talk about myself. So let me put something on first. Ahhhh, that’s better. So they call me The Queen of Scream. If you’ve read any of my work, you know it is a well-earned moniker.
I live near Annapolis, Maryland in a town called Bowie with my boyfriend, Tim. That places me halfway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD.
My Supernatural Horror Crime Thriller books in The Devil’s Due Collection take place in these metro areas so anyone who lives here will recognize some of the locations. I also have a Paranormal Romance/Ghost series – An OBX Haunting – that takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I’ve had many interesting things happen to me along my life’s path. The first President Bush gave me a shoulder/back rub when I was visiting the compound in Maine one hot August. I went to church with Princess Diana and Prince Charles. I’ve been to Las Vegas to play competitive pool in the APA World Championship.
I won’t share all of my adventures. Where would the mystery be if I expose all?
I would consider myself to be a fair and giving person who loves hard. I am nice, but if you do me wrong, I will never forget. I may forgive, just to get past it, but you will never get close to me again. I am loyal to a fault. I’m into shoes and purses, they have their own room here.And now I am naked again.
Suzi writes Supernatural Horror Crime Thrillers. Her novels are psychologically scary. She utilizes everyday characters who find themselves tangled up in horrible situations that seem inescapable. She likes her characters to have intense personal relationships that complicate their situations.
Death Most Wicked
Mikael was six years old when he learned his father was a murderer.His mother, Sofia, knew there was more to it. Her husband wasn’t just a murderer, no, he was fiendish. She tried to shield Mikael from his father’s savage deeds. But when she discovered her husband, Dimitry Ivanovitch, had demonic plans for their son, she made a decision that would prove deadly if she were caught. In the dead of night, she snatched her son from his bed and fled to the safety of America. There, no longer living in fear, Mikael grew up and became a decorated homicide detective. Sofia, however, kept constant watch for signs that her husband had located them.
One hot August day, Mikael is assigned a string of kidnapping/murders of young girls. Soon another body turns up, and then another. With no suspects and no clues, the pressure proves too great for Mikael’s partner who commits suicide. Just when Mikael thinks things cannot get any worse, his father tracks him down. And now Ivanovitch is deeply involved with the Devil. He attempts to lure Mikael into his cult by dangling the name of the murderer in front of him. But the name comes with a steep price tag. Can Mikael escape his father’s clutches again? Or will he choose a fate worse than death to save the next little girl?
If you like sagas such as The Godfather and Goodfellas because of their heart-pounding action, and any of Stephen King’s books for thrilling terror, this book will have you turning pages all night long. Don’t miss out on Death Most Wicked.
The Devil’s Lieutenant
A night at the local bar proves deadly for three friends when they fail to notice the rotting stink of evil coming from the far corner of the room.
Brothers Jake and Bobby Holyfield along with Max Wilson catch the eye of Dimitry Ivanovitch, the Devil’s right-hand man who is seeking victims for his Satanic cult. With one phone call, he discovers that Max is chronically unemployed and desperate for money. And that Bobby has an insatiable fiancé who is cheating on him, however Jake has no weaknesses or secrets. Ivanovitch sets out to take the souls of all three but realizes Jake’s will be harder to steal.
Meanwhile, Jake is promoted to homicide detective. His first case is a perplexing one that appears unsolvable. Around the same time, Jake hears that Max is suddenly flush with unexplained money. Jake fears that Max has taken a dark turn. And then Jake gets unexpected help from an angel and another detective who contacts him with intel that is crucial to not only his case but to the survival of humanity. However, now Jake’s worse fears are confirmed. Will Ivanovitch succeed in stealing Max and Bobby’s souls? Will he turn a good cop bad? Or will Jake rise up and save everyone?
The Devil’s Lieutenant reads like a mish-mash of the best scenes from the Godfather saga and the Exorcist. It is not your mama’s lullaby. Pick it up, and you will be reading far into the night. The Devil’s Lieutenant is Book 2 in the Devil’s Due Collection.
Today, I woke up in another man’s coffin, under some poor soul’s limp body. It is so dark in here, but God help me, I think I know whose body it is.
This can’t be happening. Not now. I mean come on, I may be a short, balding guy with a thick waistline, but I’ve also got pockets full of money. Sure, most of it is family money, my wife’s family but it’s in my pockets. This is the time of my life, for crap’s sake. Can this really be happening? I swear when I was dragged up to the coffin, I saw my dead father-in-law in the corner of the room, his fingers crusted with dirt and dried roses from digging himself out of his grave. And he was clutching that damned contract he made me sign in my own blood.
Maybe fear is causing me to hallucinate but I think that monster, Royce, cut off my thumb before slamming the lid shut. I must be bleeding but I can’t lift my arm to check. Oh my God, the furnace just fired up. It’s rocking my coffin. My head was spinning from the drugs, but I know my formerly loving wife helped shove my body into this cramped chariot to hell. Surely, she’s just punishing me for my indiscretion with the lovely Karina. She’s going to come back and let me out with a reprimand, right? Wait a minute… is that crackling I hear? My toes are burning.
If you enjoy Twilight Zone-like books, you will enjoy Scorn Kills. And if snarky characters, ironic circumstances, and horror are your thing, this book will keep you enthralled, page after page. One reviewer has even asked, “how can a book so funny be so frightening?” This is a “can’t resist reading it” book.
A.Giacomi is the author of the wildly entertaining Zombie Girl Saga, a four-part series from CHBB Publishing. She is a wife and mother two tiny humans. She is a Canadian born writer, educator, and artist. A. Giacomi is a zombie enthusiast, lover of all things Tim Burton, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marvel, Star Wars and just generally just loves film and literature. Essentially she’s a fangirl.
A. Giacomi mostly writes YA horror and loves to write about monsters. She’s been fascinated by zombies, vampires, demons and other creatures of the night since she started reading horror novels at a young age. If it isn’t creepy and sprinkled with all things supernatural, then it’s just not for her.
Eve Brenner: Zombie Girl.
Eve used to be an ordinary girl, from an ordinary town, with ordinary dreams, but her dreams rapidly turn into nightmares when one grave mistake leaves her a little less than human and a lot less average.
Eve’s not quite the same girl she used to be. She desperately clings to her humanity as new desires, new abilities, and new urges take over with each passing day.
Turns out living was the easy part.
Eve Brenner: Zombie Girl is a tale that takes you on an emotional and terrifying journey as Eve struggles to cope with her new life and find a cure for her strange illness before time runs out. She desperately clings to her humanity as she tries to control the monster she knows is lurking inside her.
Eve Brenner: Zombie Agent
In this second installment of The Zombie Girl Saga, Eve teams up with CSIS to find out more about the Azrael Virus coursing through her veins. As she learns about the dangers of the virus, she also learns that there are some advantages to being less than human. Eve is quickly thrown into fieldwork to stop the spread of a virus that is spreading silently on a global level.
She might be the only hope the world has, but she’s running out of time.
Eve Brenner: Zombie Experiment
Eve’s battle continues in ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT an action-packed read that will leave you thirsting for more. Eve gets a small taste of freedom only to be taken captive once more. With her world crumbling around her and her loved ones paying the ultimate price, she is forced to decide whether she will give into the darkness that resides within or fight to become the beacon of hope that the world needs to survive an impending apocalypse. Her blood holds the key to the fate of all humanity, but can Eve remain human enough to triumph? In this third installment of The Zombie Girl Saga, Eve will be tested like never before…