Thursday, October 6, 2022
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
By: Susan Fleet
Publisher: Music & Mayhem Press
Publication Date: October 15, 2022
Review Date: October 4, 2022
Guilty by Susan Fleet is the eleventh book in the Frank Renzi Crime Thriller series. In this mystery, homicide detective Frank Renzi is the lead investigator of a team of top-notch detectives pursuing a cold-blooded killer operating in New Orleans. However, success at catching the killer is proving challenging as there are no bodies or crime scenes to investigate. The only evidence of the murders are photographs of the victims, which leaves the police stumped with the lack of clues as to who might be guilty or the motives behind the murders. Frank is under pressure from the New Orleans Police Superintendent to find the culprit as soon as possible, especially with the media hounding the police department for results. Will the police get a break and track down the elusive killer before more individuals are murdered, or will the killer slip through the hands of the police and escape justice?
Fleet has written a nail-biting page-turner full of suspense and tension. Readers get an inside scoop into the inner workings of homicide police investigations. Well-written believable and realistic characters with differing personalities and motives populate the story. This excellently crafted and captivating thriller is told in the third person with multiple perspectives, one of whom is the unidentified killer. The social interactions between characters and memories of a past familial relationship give readers more insight into the characters’ behavioral dynamics. Law enforcement officials, people related to the victims, and the killer are bound together with different outlooks.
Guilty is well-worth reading. It fascinates, horrifies, and thrills in equal measure. Fleet’s use of descriptive language creates crystal-clear images that form in readers’ minds of everything transpiring in the thriller. Readers will connect with the characters imprisoned by an evil killer and experience their fear and terror. The author keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they wait in nervous anticipation of the outcome of a high-stakes police investigation, in which the killer appears to have the upper hand. The tension continues to mount until the hair-raising climax.
Fleet does an excellent job of showing the inner workings of the mind of a psychotic killer, and the frustration and dogged determination of law enforcement officials when it comes to tracking down the most heinous wanted criminals. Anyone who enjoys gritty crime thrillers that put detectives in a nerve-racking race against time to capture criminals who have no regard for human life will find Guilty a fascinating read.
Quill says: Guilty is an unputdownable and pulse-pounding thriller that will get your heart racing.
For more information on Guilty: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller, please visit the author's website at: http://www.susanfleet.com/
By: M. Ch. Landa
Published by: Landa Publishing LLC
Publication Date: October 15, 2021
Review Date: October 4, 2022
Maia Foster is a seventeen-year-old girl trying to deal with the normal things in life that affect a teenage girl. Does the boy I like return that feeling? How do I deal with school and work? What do I do this weekend? In addition, Maia has to deal with many things that no teenager should have to deal with. I had cancer when I was a young child and now it is back. My father left and my mother died and now I am a burden on my grandmother, who is raising me. How can I deal with this? Is my life over?
Maia ends up in the hospital because of an accident and her cancer. Normal for this poor tragic young woman but it quickly turns into a very not normal experience. After overhearing her grandmother having an odd conversation, Maia is visited by a strange young man who claims to be death (Vandella). He explains to her that he is there to claim her grandmother’s soul. To Maia this is not acceptable. This is the woman who raised her, who lived through her first cancer experience and took care of her and promised it would get better. The woman Maia loves more than anything and owes everything to. After speaking with this man, Maia is immediately led to the question that we all, if you admit it to yourself, have to answer at some point in our lives...What would you give up for the people that you love? And the answer, if we truly think about it, is...My life.
That answer leads to the crux of the story when Maia offers her soul in exchange for her grandmother’s and follows Sidney (Vandella/Death) into the afterlife in an incredible journey that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. Maia’s amazing sacrifice leads her on a journey where she meets a large number of people, some from her past and some she has never heard of and they all become a huge part of her new life and sacrifice. Unfortunately, it is not an easy trip as these people can never be taken at face value and Maia spends a majority of her time being betrayed and having her heart broken over and over.
Vandella is an extremely well-written and intriguing book with very interesting characters that the reader quickly becomes attached to. It is also a new and creative way of looking at death and what happens to us in the afterlife. I was very impressed at Mr. Landa’s way of writing and how well he described the characters and locations and made the reader truly care about them and what was happening to them. Maia is a wonderful protagonist and you really want to see what she does and how she handles every tragic thing that is handed to her in this life and beyond. Sidney is one of the best characters this reader has ever had the pleasure of meeting, full of just the right about of serious and scary as well as wit and charm. In fact, every character in the story is just perfectly written for their place in this adventure.
The tale is so full of emotion and description that the reader cannot help but love it and truly feel for each character. The end is superb and able to answer all of the reader’s questions while also leaving them on the edge of their seat to find out what happens next. It is not your average YA story but a very unique look at young adults trying to do what is right.
Quill says: Any book that truly makes you ask questions and holds your interest until you find the answers is a great book, and this one goes way beyond that. It should be added to everyone’s list of must-reads, not just those who enjoy the Fantasy genre.
For more information on Vandella (Vandella Series Book 1), please visit the author's website at: mchlanda.com.
Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Rita Bozi, author of When I Was Better.
FQ: You use points regarding sainthood as seen within the Catholic Church as integral to the story of “Martin/Martina;” in addition, you have created a leader with 12 followers in “Aftermath,” not unlike Jesus and his disciples. Does this reflect a personal interest in or adherence to Christianity?
WOODWORTH: How very interesting that you should pick up on Christianity in these novellas, especially the point about Jesus and his Disciples. I had no conscious design to insert a religious message into Gender, but having seen St. Giulio in a chapel on the Island of Silence in Lake Orta (Italy), I got the idea of putting Mother Martina in a glass coffin. As for the young Martin/Martina—when I lived in Athens, Greece, I learned about St. Marina, who dressed as a man in order to follow her father into a monastery. Like Martin/Martina, s/he was accused of fathering a child.
Personally, I feel that religion is one of the biggest reasons for division among people, but I don’t explore that issue in these stories. I am not a religious person myself, though I have strong beliefs on morality and ethics. And I pay attention to and respect religions around the world.
FQ: What single piece of advice would you give to a person preparing to read your work with no previous knowledge of your unique formats and storylines?
WOODWORTH: Be ready for some surprises and some gender confusion, and enjoy the rhymes, meters, and free verse. A novella in verse can be read as a narrative with the added focus on language and prosody that isn’t necessarily found in prose.
FQ: Who is your favorite character among the ones you depict here?
WOODWORTH: My favorite character in “Martin/Martina” is, of course, Martin, although Ralou interests me. She is one and the same person in the 11th century and the 21st, always ready to do what needs to be done. I also have a real liking for Father Ralph and his rhymes.
In “Aftermath,” my favorite character is the Weaver, Wroc. She is steadfast, serious, insightful, and always seems to know what to do in a crisis.
FQ: What factors have drawn you to so closely embrace the theme of the two novellas’ combined title?
WOODWORTH: Each novella has an underlying theme of gender. Martin/Martina, for instance, is a female who lives as a male and raises lovingly and willingly the child s/he is accused of fathering. In “Aftermath,” I saw the tripartite community as a sort of beehive with asexual drones, who are the Builders. Builder Tris becomes pregnant, which the Builders find impossible, not to mention criminal.
FQ: Your two novellas have echoes in current significant socio-political issues, especially in the US; are such issues part of what has influenced your creations?
WOODWORTH: Yes, I would say that anyone who reads the media in print and online these days would be very much aware of LGBTQIA issues. Neither of my novellas in Gender, however, specifically focuses on any one of these issues. Martina was born female, but for all practical purposes is a male for most of her life. However, she never objected to her status as a female in the glass coffin. I want to make the point that sexual orientation in my mind does not define a human being. I see people as people. Period.
FQ: “Aftermath,” your second novella in this pairing, while based around a world nearly destroyed, is still a hopeful story. Could you envision a sequel in which events veer off again, forcing the new humanity to cope in new ways to prevent disaster?
WOODWORTH: Yes, I think “Aftermath” needs a sequel. Thanks for the encouragement. Tadz has an emerging vision of the future, and perhaps I will develop it for him. I worry that the future is leading right back to materialism, narcissism, and accumulation of wealth.
FQ: “Martin/Martina” presents a strong statement about the cloudiness of physical gender, while positing miracles from the seemingly non-gendered hero/ine. Is it your hope to convey to readers a sense of positive qualities inherent in gender mixing?
WOODWORTH: As I mentioned previously, I see people as people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. I hope I have conveyed this in “Martin/Martina.” As a male, Martin raised a son. I consider this Martin/Martina’s greatest miracle. Martina’s face appears on a wall, and that too is a miracle, albeit a more conventional miracle than raising a son. (Again in Orta, Italy, Padre Pio’s face appeared on a building, which gave me the idea for this miracle.) When Martina cries real tears in her glass coffin—cries as a woman might—she has sealed her sainthood. Still there is the personal miracle she’s been waiting for when Dino and Bronwyn appear, and he calls her “Papa.”
FQ: Are you planning new creative works based around similar, or perhaps even more intellectually daring, themes?
WOODWORTH: At the present time, I am thinking of a New and Selected Poems, which would be my ninth collection containing some of my poetry from 1978 to 2022.
I don’t know that I would say I have an “intellectually daring” theme to pursue, though I like the idea of a sequel to “Aftermath.”
I am very sympathetic with members of the LGBTQIA community, especially as we hear about same-sex marriage perhaps being struck down. And, of course, there’s all the controversy about trans kids and how much parents can do for them and what bathrooms they can use and all sorts of unfortunate biases stemming from fear and ignorance. I have thought of writing something in the voice of one of these kids, but I don’t know if I could pull it off. To be continued...
By: Anne Harding Woodworth
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: October 2, 2022
Review Date: July 10, 2022
In two very different scenarios, author and poet Anne Harding Woodworth offers inter-related themes regarding gender as perceived inwardly from an individual viewpoint, and outwardly, as gradually understood by thoughtful onlookers.
In Martin/Martina, we meet the novella’s eponymous hero-ine, person born female yet who does not develop physically as a typical girl/woman. She lost her mother at an early age, and her father proposes to leave her and become a monk. She convinces him that she can act and appear as a boy, and she joins him at the monastery, where sensitive Father Ralph assigns her to work in the garden. Meanwhile a young woman named Bronwyn, shamefully treated by her egotistical mother, becomes pregnant by a soldier who soon moves, and somehow, Martin/Martina is allowed to parent Bronwyn’s son Dino. Her mother/father dualism serves the child well, and only at the end of her life is her true gender discovered, and miracles begin to be attributed to her.
In Aftermath, the world has been laid waste by war and terror, and only three groups of humans remain: Builders, who can construct homes for themselves and others but, seemingly asexual, have no wish to mix with other groups; Weavers, who are females without partners; and the Fennel Men, rough-cut males who have little of use to occupy their time, until a Weaver gives birth, and the social structure begins to change. A boy named Tadz emerges as a strong, spiritually minded leader, eventually garnering twelve followers who incorporate the trades and traits of each group, so that
Together they built. Together they wove.
Life was a treasure that went beyond trove.
Woodworth is an award-winning poet with membership in the Poetry Board of the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Board of Governors of the Emily Dickinson Museum. She has constructed both intriguing stories using leaps in time, dynamic changes of scene, inner thought among her diverse characters – all in a poetic framework employing both free verse and rhyme to best effect. The fantasy that envelops both novellas also provides food for realistic thought about the eponymous issues raised: what, really, is gender, and how does it affect us and those around us? Does it really matter if a person like Martin/Martina is a father or a mother, a female or a male, if the child s/he raises feels love, strength and caring? If males and females, as in Aftermath, choose to live separately, will the alienation of that choice inevitably become less attractive than the communal gathering of knowledge and the mutual development of understanding?
Quill says: Woodworth has created two worthy worldviews in which gender roles are mixed as much as matched, offering not only charming tales but also focus for serious contemplation, particularly for young readers coping with current gender-based trends.
For more information on Gender: Two Novellas in Verse, please visit the website: http://www.annehardingwoodworth.com/
Monday, October 3, 2022
FQ: I understand you have two young children, and that you homeschool them. I’m quite impressed - how do you have time to write books on top of everything else?
JAKEMAN: Mostly when the kids are asleep! Yeh, it can be a bit much sometimes but having a creative outlet is important too so I always make sure to make time to write stories whenever I can.
JAKEMAN: Yes, always. We concentrate on a given subject for a week or more at a time and the ones that seem to resinate the most with my kids often get fleshed out into stories. The ones that we enjoy reading the most, I will illustrate and turn into a book.
FQ: You like to tackle important subjects in your children’s books (deforestation, ocean pollution). These are serious topics - thanks for helping educate children about them. How hard is it to work those topics into a positive, upbeat message for young readers?
JAKEMAN: I think it’s important to show that there’s a silver lining to even the darkest clouds by highlighting the optimistic side of even the most serious situations. These subject may be very serious but there are things we can do to improve them. Maybe one day they will be solved.
FQ: As an author/illustrator, do you envision your characters, and start doing sketches of them before you begin to write the story? Or do you work up a rough draft of the story first, and then bring the characters to life?
JAKEMAN: I always start with the story first. Once that's in place, then I can start sketching the characters and depicting the world they inhabit.
FQ: Tandi is quite beautiful. What made you decide on a toucan for the star of the story rather than, say, a jaguar or monkey?
JAKEMAN: Thank you! I have written a story about a monkey before but this time I wanted go with a more unusual animal. Also, toucans are one of my youngest’s favorite animals.
FQ: I’m always fascinated by authors who can pull off a story in rhyme. It’s hard and so many try and fail. Would you describe the process for our readers? Do you first sketch out the story in prose?
|Author Julie Jakeman|
JAKEMAN: I find it difficult too. My previous book, Myrtle the Turtle, was only partly in rhyme but I know how much kids enjoy a rhyming story so I’ve been working on that aspect. I do normally start with a story in prose and then work on translating it into rhyme. It can be a long process but it’s also rewarding to see the reaction from my kids when it’s complete.
FQ: Do you think the message of deforestation is getting through to people? Do you think the rainforests have a chance of surviving man’s destructive ways?
JAKEMAN: It’s difficult - there are so many climate and ecological issues that we all need to be aware of and it’s easy for some of them to take a backseat to the others. But they are all important and we all need to do whatever we can. I do think the rainforests have a chance. As long as they are still there, we have a chance to influence policymakers into regulating for their protection.
FQ: What is your next project? Will you please give our readers a little peek into what they will see next?
JAKEMAN: I’m not sure at the moment. I have been thinking of doing something a bit different. Still a children’s picture story book but maybe a biography of a historical figure instead of tackling another climate issue. We have been studying some interesting historical figures recently and some of them aren’t very well known.