Friday, December 9, 2016

#BookReview - When Their World Stops

When Their World Stops: The Essential Guide to TRULY Helping Anyone in Grief

By: Anne-Marie Lockmyer
Publisher: Joseph Allen Press
Publication Date: March 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9968024-0-6
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: December 10, 2016

As anyone reading this review will know, there are a plethora of books on the market (most written by PhD’s, M.D.’s and any other ‘D’ you can think of) in regards to grief, how to deal with the loss of life, and how best to cope in order to move on to the next stage. This book, however, will actually “speak” to you – all of you out there who has either lost a loved one, or had to find a way to help/aid/support/comfort a friend who was going through the grieving process. I say this will speak to you, because even though the degrees on the wall may state that the person holding said degrees is the “voice” that learned a specific area of medicine, it is not a degree that is at the core of a subject such as grief. Much like people believe you can better help an addict if you’ve gone through the same nightmare, the same can be said for a broken home or a broken heart.

Right from the onset, this author tells of one of the worst experiences a person could go through; the loss of a spouse. This is a woman who was in love with her mate and was just approaching their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary when her beloved passed away. This is a woman who raised her children with the love of her life; they created a world that was suddenly broken. She speaks of how she came to realize, once going through this horrible pain and feeling the whirlwind of emotions, that some of her very closest friends really had no idea how to deal with her grief. Even when they thought they were being helpful, they actually were saying some very wrong things and making her feel even worse. No. They weren’t trying to do this, and because of this she saw that when the shoe had been on the other foot, she had not been the best when it came to giving support/aid to her friends.

Bottom line: No one knows exactly how to respond to grief. Your friends look away and you can actually feel the tension in the room because there truly is no sure way to comfort someone who has just dealt with a loss of this magnitude. The author took it upon herself to let others know what she learned about grief, and offers a “door” to those who are hurt and those who are trying desperately to find the right way to comfort them during this time.

Is bringing a gift to the home right? How do you keep a schedule for the children; how do you best help them cope while your own heart is breaking? Sincerity and dependability are necessary, but when should you talk about the person who has passed? Is telling your friend they’re strong a good thing? When should you send a sympathy card, and what should it read? And, one of the biggest issues in many lives, how to help when Christmas comes to pass. The holiday is full of memories and the depression rates/numbers grow higher during the season.

This is not a tome with large, medical words or doctor ‘speak.’ This is a golden-nugget of a book, if you will, written with heart and, unfortunately, written from experience. These are helpful words and directions that will not solve the issues of grief, but allow you to better understand how to deal with grief and help a friend get through a horrible time.

Quill says: It is a fact that everyone grieves differently, but this author should be commended for tapping into her own traumatic experience to bring others a bit of peace.

For more information on When Their World Stops: The Essential Guide to TRULY Helping Anyone in Grief, please visit the website:

Monday, December 5, 2016

#AuthorInterview with Jochanan Stenesh - "A World At Risk"

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Jochanan Stenesh, author of A World at Risk

FQ: A World at Risk is quite a believable read. Obviously, something must have been stirring within you to create your unique storyline. Being a retired chemistry professor, I can only assume that you've seen and experienced enough historical moments over the years to bring you to this poignant point in time. Why write such an alarming narrative?

STENESH: You are quite right in assuming that my background has been a motivating factor to write this book. Having lived through, and personally experienced, two existential threats — first the rise of Nazism and its persecution and extermination of the Jewish people, and then the birth of the State of Israel against overwhelming odds — I am keenly aware of gathering political storm clouds and imminent dangers to liberty and survival. Today’s world seems to me to have many of these; it strikes me as indeed being a world at risk. This prompted me to want to sound an alarm, a warning, a wake-up call, if you will, about what I saw as looming threats on the horizon. In writing the book, I had two goals in mind. First, I wanted to provide readers with enough background to be able to comprehend the intricacies of these flash points and controversial issues. Second, and most importantly, I hoped that the imagined scenarios would, in some small measure, contribute to a much-needed effort to make sure the fiction does not become reality.

FQ: You chose to design your narrative in an epistolary format. Why did you choose this?

STENESH: Because the book deals with disparate events and issues, I felt that covering these by means of newspaper dispatches would not only constitute a unique presentation but would also serve to tie all of them together into one work.

FQ: There is a great deal of meticulously researched factual data amid your fictional account. How long did it take for you to gather this needed info?

STENESH: I can’t give you a precise answer except to say that it took a number of months to research the factual parts.

FQ: How apropos for your book to be coming out at such a time as this! With 2016 election results, in what ways do you feel your informational narrative—even though it is set between 2020 and 2040—lines up with current history?

STENESH: As it turns out, the book is very timely. In fact, as it was in the process of being published I told my wife repeatedly that I hoped it would come out soon because actual events were almost overtaking the fiction. As to the book’s relevance to the post 2016 election period, one only needs to note that many of the book’s fictional vignettes, both domestic (e.g., separation of church & State, evolution versus creationism, abortion) and international (e.g., Iran’s march toward the bomb, China’s saber rattling in the Far East, the rise of global antisemitism) appear to be well on the way of becoming real issues in the new administration.

FQ: You've chosen to view your storyline through a journalistic approach. How would you compare the news reporting of your narrative to what is presently happening in regards to Fake News and the mainstream media's misrepresentation of, as well as lack of coverage of, news?

STENESH: An interesting question. I hope that my dispatches show meticulous factual reporting, something that is all too rare with our current mainstream media. With the exception of a few stellar newspapers and a few substantive TV and radio programs, we are awash in what have become more entertaining and less nformative media. For well over a year we have been exposed to a barrage of sensationalism with facts bandied about coupled with a dearth of intelligent discussion of issues. Moreover, the focus on the election was so intense that the coverage of events and issues in the rest of the world was largely relegated to a backstage. In that, journalism failed in its obligation to properly inform the public.

FQ: How would you compare news reporting back when you were much younger to current news reporting?

STENESH: I think in the past news coverage was more substantive and better researched than is the case today.

FQ: Following 2016 election results, hate crimes increased exponentially. Were you surprised by the sudden vitriol, especially since you incorporate hate crimes in the form of extremist groups targeting Jews in your narrative.

STENESH: I was not really surprised to see an increase in hate crimes considering the fact that we have a large number of hate groups in the country and the fact that the campaign was so replete with inciting rhetoric and veiled references to violent actions. Hate crimes and atrocities always have their beginning with the issuing of words. One should never assume that words do not matter. They matter very much. The Holocaust is a prime example. It all started with words, namely the demonizing of Jews.

FQ: In light of current events, do you foresee writing a sequel or another novel in this same apocalyptic vein?

STENESH: At the moment I am concentrating on the marketing of A World At Risk. I would like to see the book gain exposure and, hopefully, lead to some constructive thinking and deeds to bring about a more peaceful world.

FQ: If not, do you have any other literary projects lined up?

STENESH: Right now I am in a thinking mode.

FQ: In light of current events, what message would you like to leave your readers, particularly younger generation readers?

STENESH: I would like to urge readers to be aware of what is happening in the world, both domestically and internationally, to be critical of both oral and written commentary, and to speak out when wrongs are committed. We must all do what we can to prevent dire scenarios — like those described in A World At Risk — from becoming reality. The following saying, attributed to Edmund Burke (1770), puts it well: “The only thing for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

To learn more about A World at Risk please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, December 2, 2016

#BookReview - Normal Nina and the Magic Box

Normal Nina and the Magic Box (The Laugh & Learn Series)

By: Ian Sadler
Illustrated by: Adrienne Brown
Publisher: Gelos Publications
Publication Date: January 2016
ISBN: 978-0996415705
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 3, 2016

Young Nina was a happy girl except for one thing...she was normal - normal in height, normal in shoe size, normal, normal, normal. Was there anything more boring? Nina was about to find out just how nice normal can be.

Normal Nina and the Magic Box introduces Nina who is simply bored to tears with being normal.

But normal to Nina,
Was just dull, bland and plain.
"All of my friends," she said,
"Must think I'm so lame!"

On one normal Monday, Nina wandered into the garden where she discovered a giant red box. Peeking inside, Nina found an amazing array of bright lights and dials, surrounded by squishy soft walls. As Nina explored, a boy dressed in blue, complete with mask, popped out and introduced himself as "...'Jack the Amazing,'A Genie, Grade Two." Like all good genies, Jack the Amazing gave Nina three wishes. Nina is quick to respond,

"Make playmates notice me,
And guess what, most of all,
Like the biggest giraffe,
I want to be tall."

When Nina wakes up the next morning, she discovers that her wish didn't quite go the way she wanted...With two more tries, Nina is determined to get it right and not be normal. Will she succeed?
Normal Nina and the Magic Box offers children an important lesson in accepting themselves as they are. With clever rhymes and a silly premise (Nina's brother is the genie,) children will giggle every time Nina gets her wish and things go terribly wrong. The illustrations are fun and bright and add the right amount of playfulness to the story. At the end of the book are two pages of suggested "group and individual activities."

Quill says: A fun story that teaches children to be happy with what they are instead of whishing to be someone else.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#BookReview - It's Hard to be Good

It's Hard to be Good (Life's Little Lessons By Ellie the Wienerdog)

By: K.J. Hales
Illustrated by: Serene Wyatt
Publisher: Open Door Press
Publication Date: November 2016
ISBN: 978-1942264026
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 29, 2016

Oh, my! There's a sandwich on the table and it looks so yummy! What's a good little dog to do? That's the dilemma faced by Ellie the dachshund in this adorable children's book.

Ellie is an happy (and very cute!) dachshund who really wants to be good. She loves hearing her humans tell her what a good dog she is. But there are temptations all around her - things to chew, things to chase, and most importantly, things to EAT! Her great hound nose picks up all the smells of yummy treats and the poor dog is constantly being tempted. The ultimate enticement is a sandwich that's on the edge of the table just above Ellie:

Today I'm in luck,
for what do I see?
A freshly made sandwich
calling to me.

It's Hard to be Good is an hysterical look at the plight of a dachshund who is trying so hard to be good. Told in the first person by Ellie, the story is written in simple prose that will get emerging readers into the story quickly. The dog's facial expressions as she's trying to decide if she should/should not grab the sandwich are truly laugh-out-loud-funny and I can't imagine any child not falling into hysterics while reading this book.

Quill says: Ellie has to be one of the cutest dogs around, with a great story to tell. Add this book to your collection!

Monday, November 28, 2016

#BookReview - The Puppa-na-Wuppana Series: Living the Puppa-na-Life

The Puppa-na-Wuppana Series: Living the Puppa-na-Life

By: Cindy Koebele and Lori Weaver
Illustrated by: Michael LaDuca
Publisher: Koebele Weaver Enterprises
Publication Date: July 2016
ISBN: 978-0990920229
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: November 29, 2016

Puppa-na-Wuppana (or just Puppa to those who have trouble pronouncing the full name) is a cute little beagle puppy with a magical nose. That nose is great at smelling all sorts of goodies and often gets him into trouble. Readers are sure to have lots of fun as they tag along with Puppa, who shares his tales in this early-reader chapter book.

Living the Puppa-na-Life is the first in a planned series of books about Puppa-na-Wuppana. In this first book, we meet Puppa and follow along as he learns and grows, gets into all sorts of trouble and is often saved by his loving human family.

The story begins with Puppa being adopted by his new family and then howling the night away in a lonely crate. The crying worked wonders as Puppa is soon sharing a warm bed with his two human brothers. Puppa soon learns about potty training, what he can and can't chew in the house, and how to play "hide and seek" with Keekers, the family cat.

Puppa's nose is very talented at smelling out all sorts of things from where Keekers is hiding, to where a box of chocolates are stored. Frequently that nose gets him into trouble, particularly when he finds various food treats that he is not supposed to eat. How can a puppy resist all those great smells?
Told in the first person by Puppa, this story is a charming read with many fun, and funny, adventures. Children will laugh along with Puppa as he recalls his exploits and they may even be reminded of their own dogs too. Add in the wonderful artwork, some of the best I've seen in a very long time, and young dog lovers will definitely want to check out this book.

Quill says: A perfect early-reader for animal lovers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

#BookReview - The Digital Now

The Digital Now

By: Roland Allnach
Publisher: Tabalt Press
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1-0-9967-8540-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor

If you love dystopian “magic,” you’ll love this one. Carly Westing is our main character in this fantastical universe. Referred to as a Patrolman, she is the law and order type. And, much like the bow and arrow was to Katniss in The Hunger Games, Carly never leaves home without her trusted repeater at her side.

At the very beginning of this tale, Carly and her partner/patrolmate, Graham Chapel, find themselves in the midst of an all-out riot being held on the streets of the City of Seven Hills – a place they have both sworn to protect. Highly interesting, her home (as described by the author) has the city’s seven hills curving around one edge of the distant Downlow—the massive, sunken concrete dome that entombed the waste pile of the old city. Graham is a good man and a good partner; however, their boss, Patrolmaster Alden Bayard, is not the nicest of all men. In fact, he has a tendency to take advantage of things, including his employees. There is also Endo Stutts; whether he is friend or foe will be up to you to find out.

Carly has a slight obsession, if you will, with her home. She actually loves the City, feels like it’s a part of her, but doesn’t understand why it “belongs” to others in power. When it comes to light that a riot was simply a cover for far more sinister activity, Carly finds herself thrown into a mystery of mammoth proportions. She and Graham go on a search of the city, and when she meets up with a resident who calls himself Ian Gadwick, Carly finds out new data that will change the course of her life. Ian tells her that he actually “is/owns” the City. He is looking for his successor, and Carly is the one he seeks. So why is Carly Westing in line for the throne, so to speak? What exactly must she do to get the job? And will she be able to sort out her real friends from some very real enemies in order to get what’s coming to her?

This is an author who has given his dystopian world real legs to stand on. His characters are attractive, the pace is all action, and the City itself is a riveting place to spend some time. You will love the imagination, too. From eating the real breakfast of champions, Shaky Flakes and Moo-ju; to watching the patrolmen train with civi-sticks, this tale has it all. Much like this author’s other collections, in this book he has brought together all the best parts of fantasy, horror, technological savvy, and thrown in supernatural spice that would make the X-Files gang envious.

Quill says: One read of an Allnach title and you’ll be a fan for life!

For more information on The Digital Now, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Potatoes at Turtle Rock

Potatoes at Turtle Rock

By: Susan Schnur
Illustrated by: Alex Steele-Morgan
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2016
ISBN: 978-1467793230
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 2016

It's the sixth night of Hanukkah and Annie, along with her brother, parents, Ubi the goat and Richie the chicken are going to celebrate by going on a journey in the woods. Together they'll make four stops and learn important things about each other, and Hanukkah, along the way.

Annie's family has a tradition of celebrating Hanukkah in the woods if it is snowing and tonight "'s really snowing!" So off into the woods they go. Annie has been put in charge of making the plans for the family's trip into the woods and she has carefully thought out the adventure. She has a sled with a box of secret packages to help her family celebrate the night, and everybody wants to know what she has. Annie explains that there will be four stops - at Old Log, Squeezy Cave, Billy Goat's Bridge and Turtle Rock.

The first stop is Old Log and as everybody sits down on the log, Annie opens her box of secrets and pulls out a package. She asks her family how Great-Grandpop kept warm as he walked to school in the cold. Mom, Dad, and brother Lincoln all guess but nobody gets the correct answer. When Annie pulls out hot potatoes and explains how Great-Grandpop put them in his pockets to keep warm, everybody laughs. Little do they know the potatoes will re-appear at another stop to help teach the lessons of Hanukkah.

Potatoes at Turtle Rock is a companion to the author's first book, Tashlich at Turtle Rock, in which Annie and her family learn about the Tashlich ceremony. It might be helpful to read that book first as you'll then know the characters. Potatoes at Turtle Rock opens with Lincoln (the brother) asking, "Hey, can Ubi come?" and I admit to being lost, trying to learn who Ubi was and where the family was going. I initially thought that the first few pages of the book were missing. Once past that, however, the story settled down and told a nice tale about a loving family and their traditions.

Quill says: A nice story to help teach the importance of traditions in the celebration of Hanukkah.