Monday, March 19, 2018

#BookReview - Head of the Pack @HudsonDogStar

Head of the Pack: Chester Gigolo's Advanced Dog Training Secrets

By: Christina Potter
Publisher: Aperture Press
Publication Date: August 2017
ISSBN: 978-0997302097
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 19, 2018
Dog trainer and author Christina Potter, in her third book in the "Chester Gigolo" series, delivers a book that is a lot of fun to read while, more importantly, giving readers a lot of very useful information on dog training. 
Head of the Pack is divided into sixteen chapters that examine various aspects of the dog world that will help you train your dog.  The book opens with an introduction that shares how much dogs enjoy human companionship and how it works best when both dog and human understand each other.  So, how do you improve your ability to communicate with your dog?  That's what the book is all about.
Right away in the first chapter, the author offered advice that drew me in and made me want to read the rest of the book.  "Blur the lines between playing and training, and you will have a dog that is delighted to work with you any time."  From there, she goes on to explain that you must be firm but not too firm.  How?  She uses an analogy of a spaghetti noodle that works perfectly to get her point across.  The chapters are fairly short - most are three or four pages - and everything is very easy to understand.  
Head of the Pack is "written" by Chester Gigolo, a Berger Picard, and he's one smart dog.  Chester shares his training expertise on a broad range of topics from knowing what each breed has been bred for (and using that knowledge to select the proper dog as well as using their innate instincts to advantage when training) to how often to give treats and even what kind of treats work best.  And unlike many dog training manuals that offer tips in a dry, dull manner, Chester is quite funny and entertaining.  He livens up each chapter with commentary - for example, when talking about getting treats, "march into the kitchen, load up on yummy treats - in your hands, not in your tummy - and let's get started."
There is a lot of useful information in this book that both first-time dog owners and more advanced canine fans will learn from. What I particularly appreciated is that the author didn't just share her views and say "it works for me, it'll work for you."  Rather, she backs up her statements with research from around the world, noting the researchers/institutions/journals, how the tests were conducted, and the results. While I've had dogs all my life and like to think I know what I'm doing when training, I definitely learned a lot from this book.  Did you know that tail wagging doesn't always mean a dog is happy?  What about growling? For tricks, the author advises using your dog's breed to help determine what tricks will be easiest for your dog to learn and then follows up with several real life examples that show how different breeds react to the same situation.  And speaking of tricks, chapter ten (smack dab in the middle of the book) is dedicated to trick training.  There are 25 tricks dissected in such a way that again, it's easy to see how to teach each trick.  Most are also accompanied by a picture of a dog performing the trick.  I "dog-tested" several of the tricks on my dog Rocco (a dachshund/yorkie mix who is lovable but not the brightest light bulb in the pack), and he was able to follow my lead and do the tricks.  That is itself is worth the price of this book!
Quill says: Rocco the "dorkie" would like to thank Chester for writing a book that was easy for his human to follow and use to advantage to build a stronger bond with him.
For more information on Head of the Pack: Chester Gigolo's Advanced Dog Training Secrets, please visit the website:

Friday, March 16, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Lorenzo Petruzziello @lorenzomagnus

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Lorenzo Petruzziello, author of The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy.
FQ: You were inspired to write this book during your temporary stay in Rome, Italy back in 2011. What was it about Rome that inspired you to write? 
PETRUZZIELLO: It goes without saying that Rome is a beautiful and enchanting city and I thought, who wouldn’t want to read about it? When I decided to pick-up and move there in 2011, I knew I wanted to get to know the city as a citizen, not a tourist. I wanted to dive in deep and immerse myself into the daily Roman life. – I was quickly captivated by my surroundings and once I decided to start writing, I knew it had to be set in Rome. I had the idea of playing with a story that was influenced by the comedic and glamourous side of Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita. However, Alex was not a Marcello. He was more a Michael J. Fox character. I knew I wanted my story to be in a simple, light tone, like that of a Michael J. Fox 80s comedy: Secret of My Success and For Love or Money. So, I had both those ideas in mind as I wrote out my story. I kept asking myself: “What would Michael J. Fox do in this situation?”
 FQ: Who would you list as “exceptional writers”—those who inspire you to write?
PETRUZZIELLO: I love to read, but I struggled to find a voice to which I can relate. It wasn’t until I reread The Great Gatsby that I felt like I was at home. I appreciate Fitzgerald’s observations and the slightest details when describing two people attracted to each other. I enjoyed this particularly in Tender is the Night. Of course, I like the brash and forwardness of Hemingway. For contemporary writers, I appreciate the delivery and style of Ian McEwan – Atonement is one of my favorites. And the storytelling of one of my favorite contemporary Italian authors Fabio Volo.
FQ: Is there any correlation between the plot and your life, or is it totally a work of fiction?
PETRUZZIELLO: Alex has a lot of me in him, but he’s not me. I used my experiences as the anchor to this story. For example, I worked for American Public Television, the major distributor of programs to public television stations across the country. Most of my work was on how-to programs and their national channel called CREATE TV. My role was marketing and publicity for shows on cooking, travel, gardening, home improvement and such. I made my main character Alex have a similar background because it’s what I knew. At APT, one of my first projects was for an international cooking series called New Scandinavian Cooking – the show – still airing – is hosted by Scandinavia’s popular culinary professionals and focuses on modern and traditional Nordic cuisine. When I got to thinking about La Dolce Vita – in which the celebrity was a whimsical, blonde ethereal movie star played by Swedish film star Anita Ekberg – I thought, I will make my celebrity Scandinavian too – OH! How about a Scandinavian cooking host? I have some experience with that. And the celebrity chef concept has been around for a while now. So, I thought the idea could be comical: for the ridiculousness of the label celebrity chef, and for the fun journey on which Pernille takes the reader.
FQ: Amid your quick read, you mention a variety of iconic places and works of art. Obviously, they mean more to you than just incorporating them into your plot. Did any of them specifically inspire you in your writing process?

Small Lake in the Villa Borghese Gardens
PETRUZZIELLO: Absolutely! Again, living in Rome allowed me more time to really get to know the city. I mean, I’ve been to Rome a few times already and seeing the usual sights. But this time, I made it a priority to see sights that are either overlooked or not able to be fit in to tight tourist schedules.  Villa Borghese is my favorite to this day-It’s an absolutely gorgeous park. Strolling the gardens I eventually make it into the Borghese Gallery museum. Being there just fueled my creativity, adding even more life to my story concept, so I had to put it in the book. But I didn’t just add it in the story, I wanted to make the space a part of the story.
FQ: You incorporate a cat sanctuary in your story. Does this sanctuary actually exist in Rome, or is this something that you made up? 
PETRUZZIELLO: This is actually a real place. I didn’t live too far from here, and sometimes I would go by and watch the cats frolicking; allowing my mind to wander and come up with more for The Love Fool. Again, I think of my book as a Rome 2.0 – meaning: if you’ve visited Rome and its famous tourist attractions, The Love Fool will take you back and make you feel like a local.
FQ: You incorporate passive-aggressive conversations within Alex and Emily’s relationship, which is a perfect story enhancer. Would you say this type of behavior is or is not common among people who are still processing who they are and what they want out of life?
PETRUZZIELLO: Yes. Simply, yes. OK, sure, not everyone acts the same, but I specifically made Alex and Emily this way as my personal nod to Jane Austen. When I was introduced to Pride & Prejudice I fell in love with the tension, hatred, stubbornness, and attraction between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I wanted to give my characters that same intensity.
FQ: You close with a surprise ending, which seems to indicate that there may be an upcoming sequel. Is a sequel in the works?
PETRUZZIELLO: No. I honestly don’t think a sequel would be necessary, nor interesting enough to read. The Love Fool is meant to be a basic message to men and women: Don’t be a fool.
FQ: You provide plenty of encouragement for other burgeoning writers. Now that you’ve had a fair taste of the process, what do you foresee will be future literary projects?
PETRUZZIELLO: I think we will continue to see more independent writers in the forefront. Just like other industries, creatives don’t have to stop if they don’t land a big publisher. More and more small publishers are out there offering more doors to open for first time writers to establish themselves. I went through a hybrid publisher – Inkshares – and it allowed me to test the waters with presales. Fortunately, I made it through by the skin of my teeth, but so happy that I have a small publisher to represent The Love Fool.
FQ: Do you see yourself getting involved in writing conferences for new writers?
PETRUZZIELLO: I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I mean, I think writers would like to hear more stories about other writers that found a way, and I’d be happy to share any insights on the struggles of a non-writer writing. I consider myself more a storyteller than a writer. I feel that the label writer should be awarded to those who have actually studied the craft of writing, prose and such. I never have. I’m just a guy with great stories to tell, and for some reason, I think they are so amazing I’m sharing them with the world.
FQ: Are there any genres that you’re interested in, but apprehensive is holding you back?
PETRUZZIELLO: Noir. In fact, the new story I’m working on has more of a noir-type style to it. As you can see, I’m still ironing out what my writing style will be. I am veering away from the romantic comedy label – it’s actually not the type of stories I prefer. So, it’s funny that my debut novel is a romantic comedy – but, it’s what The Love Fool was created for and meant to be. But now, a slightly darker side is ready to emerge.

#BookReview - The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy @lorenzomagnus

The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy

By: Lorenzo Petruzziello
Publisher: Quill Publishing Company
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
ISBN: 978-1947848194
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: March 16, 2018
A young man who moves to Italy faces unresolved love issues when his estranged girlfriend comes to visit in Lorenzo Petruzziello’s debut, The Love Fool.
After getting laid off from “an amazing job with a large global PR firm” in the U.S., Alex Corso takes a lower-level marketing position at Zero Otto Marketing in Rome, Italy. He is given an assignment to promote a Danish cooking show into the Italian market. To Alex’s advantage, the drop-dead-gorgeous host, Pernille Bjǿrn, easily attracts publicity. 
Quite the storyteller, Petruzziello spins an amusing tale of unrequited love and superficial relationships. Petruzziello’s third-person plot centers on its protagonist, Alex Corso, who has no idea what life will have in store for him once he moves to Italy. His U.S. position provided the perfect outlet for Alex to lose himself in his work and thereby bury his unresolved love life. Now stripped of his successful job, the ugliness of his past resurfaces.
To capture Alex’s life, Petruzziello alternates between the present (2011) and past (the 1990s—Alex’s college days when he met Emily). Before Emily’s entrance, the first few chapters vacillate between the crazy things that take place in Alex’s new job and his loneliness. As sweet as Alex and Emily are toward one another, they both have additional unresolved issues, which is very apparent in their passive-aggressive conversations.
Petruzziello concentrates on dialogue to amplify the emotional tension between the two lovers. This constant ebb-and-flow of their relationship may be annoying, but it is also intriguing because of the driving element of resolution tightly woven into the fabric of this story. Petruzziello also incorporates plenty of twists—on top of more problems at work—that make his debut a real page-turner.
 Quill says: Replete with a surprise ending, The Love Fool is one well-written and unforgettable romantic tale with Silver-Screen potential.
For more information on The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy, please visit the book's website at:

#BookReview - The Pirate Bride

The Pirate Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower, Book 2

By: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1683224976
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: March 15, 2018
Twelve-year-old Maribel Cordoba has recently found her mother and grandfather have passed, leaving her in the hands of her father, Antonio Cordoba, whom she barely knows. She is travelling with him on the Vengaza from her home of Spain to his post in Havana, where he is to serve as the Consul General. An avid reader with a passion for exploration, Maribel is hesitant but hopeful this journey will be filled with excitement and adventure, however, she may have gotten far more than she bargained for...
A once calm crew suddenly bustles with excitement and Maribel overhears words such as “pirates” and “ghost ship.” It’s during this time her curiosity surges and she can think only of her beloved book, The Notorious Seafaring Pyrates and Their Exploits, by Captain Ulysses Jones. Soon, their ship is attacked, and Maribel comes to find out that instead of pirates, those aboard “The Ghost Ship” are in fact Privateers from France. The captain of the privateer vessel, Captain Jean Beaumont and Maribel’s father have a past that needs settling, and against his usual rules, a dual ensues, leaving Maribel’s father dead and Maribel in the hands of Captain Jean Beaumont. With her fiery spirit and desire for adventure, she begs to stay on the ship and work with them, an agreement that everyone is hesitant about at first. Beaumont agrees to let her stay, but an attack puts Maribel in danger and places Beaumont into a coma, leaving his crew to take Maribel to Mother Superior of St. Mary of the Island Orphanage, where all memories of the privateers are to be forgotten. But for how long?
At St. Mary of the Island Orphanage, Maribel is known for getting in trouble, especially when she climbs into trees to read her books. After spending eleven years at the orphanage, someone comes to get her and take her back to her mother and grandfather, who were not dead as she previously believed. Instead, it was a ploy for her father to take her away. Excited to meet the family she once knew, yet still desiring to know more about this past as a privateer she so vividly remembers, she gets ready to make way for New Orleans. Before departing, however, she meets some old privateers she once knew and sees a ship that is familiar, triggering memories from her past. Upon arrival in New Orleans, she comes to find that she is going to have a very hard time fitting in, especially with her wild ways and less than proper mannerisms. It is when her family gets in trouble that she is put back into the hands of a privateer she once knew as a child, changing the rest of her life as she knows it.
The Pirate Bride is a deliciously addicting tale that places you right into the heart of adventure. Not only are Maribel and Captain Beaumont extremely relatable and likeable, but it’s easy to understand Maribel’s journey back into society after having the adventure of the open seas. Her love of books, her need for adventure and her attitude are addicting. The fact she’s a strong woman, even at a young age, goes to show that even though one may be considered young, and although she is a female, she can be strong and demand the attention she deserves. This book is perfect for anyone who wants a quick, easy read or those who want a taste of adventure without leaving their own home.
Quill says: A delightful read that enchants, delights and makes you crave adventure.

#BookReview - Be A Good Dragon

Be A Good Dragon

Author/Illustrator: Kurt Cyrus
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1585363834
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2018
What happens when a dragon gets a cold?  In one small village, a sneezing dragon brings chaos and hilarity that young readers will absolutely love.
Enzo the dragon is not feeling well and the townspeople are running for the hills:
When cinders come showering down from the skies...
And thunder is rumbling,
and smoke burns your eyes...
Then run like a rabbit! Fly like the breeze!
Enzo the dragon is starting to sneeze.
Enzo is miserable and every time he sneezes, he spreads his misery - and germs! - to everybody around him.  The crops are wilting, the corn is popping, and the knights are covering their faces.  This can't continue!
The royal magician is called to help the dragon, but the dragon doesn't want to take his advice (medicine and a nap).  Enzo continues scorching, sneezing, and destroying everything around him.  Will he ever get better?
Be A Good Dragon is a fantastic story about a sneezy dragon who zaps everything in his path with his sneezes.  Told in rhyme that doesn't miss a beat, and that has no "clunky" lines that don't work, the story is full of laughs.  The author is also the illustrator and his drawings are hysterical and perfect for this fun-loving story.  There aren't many review books that I keep to add to my children's book shelf, but Be A Good Dragon is heading to that shelf as soon as this review is posted.  I look forward to many more books by author/illustrator Kurt Cyrus.
Quill says: Enzo the dragon is lovable, goofy, and silly, and what he does when he gets a bad cold will have everybody laughing.

#BookReview - May I Come In?

May I Come In?

By: Marsha Diane Arnold
Illustrated by: Jennie Poh
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1585363940
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2018
It's a nasty night - rain, thunder, lightning - and Raccoon is not happy.  He's cold and a bit frightened.  "Being alone on a night like tonight is scary," he says.  So he sets off to find a friend willing to take him in on such a dreay night.
Raccoon grabs his umbrella and heads to Possum's den:
"Possum, old friend, may I come in?"
Raccoon shouted over the thunder.
"What bad luck," Possum replied.
"My den's too small for one your size."
Determined to find shelter with a friend, Raccoon next heads to Quail's brambles.  But he gets the same reply from Quail, who says Raccoon is too wide to fit into the brambles.  Raccoon continues onward, heading to Woodchuck's hole as his umbrella is blown inside out by the wind and rain.  Unfortunately, Woodchuck too has no room for his friend.
Just as Raccoon is about to give up, he spots a light far off in the distance.  It's Rabbit's house...but when Raccoon knocks at the door and sees ten little rabbits hopping and bopping behind their mother, he assumes she too has no room for him. But Raccoon just might be in for a surprise.
May I Come In? is a sweet story that young readers will certainly enjoy.  It will be easy for them to identify with Raccoon who is frightened by the bad weather.  If read as a bedtime story, it allows several spots where parents can ask their children, "What would you do?" each time Raccoon is turned away.  The ending, which reassures children that good friends always find room to welcome others, is a comforting message that is perfect for a nighttime read during a bad storm.
Quill says: Making room for friends is a win-win and so is this book.  Sweet and charming.

#BookReview - Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest

Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest

By: Steve Richardson
Illustrated by: Chris Dunn
Publisher: Impossible Dreams Publishing Company
Publication Date: March 2018
ISBN: 978-0978642211
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2018
It's early fall and the children have just returned to school.  During recess, Jimmy Squirrel boasts that his dad, who owns the largest construction company in the state, is going to help him build an awesome treehouse.  This catches everybody's attention and they all start to talk about what they each could do to build a cool treehouse.  Soon the kids begin to challenge each other and the great treehouse contest is on!
Jimmy Squirrel is a bit of a braggart, but that doesn't stop the other children, Simon Shrew, Arnold Otter, Thomas Fox, and several others, from accepting the challenge. The children are a bit surprised, however, when quiet Paisley Rabbit joins the contest. She doesn't have a dad to help her, and her brother Davy is sickly, staying home between hospital visits because he needs a new kidney.  How could she hope to win the contest?
While the other children, with the help of their dads, get busy building their treehouses, Paisley Rabbit heads to the library to do research.  Next, while the other treehouses begin to take shape, Paisley Rabbit heads to town for some important meetings... The other children don't know about the meetings, only that Paisley Rabbit hasn't started building her treehouse.  She certainly doesn't stand a chance of winning the contest.
Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest was a fun story about one very determined little rabbit.  The boastful Jimmy Squirrel managed to scare off a few of the other contestants simply by his repeated bold statements about his treehouse, but Paisley Rabbit didn't let her friend's comments bother her.  She quietly, and with great determination, went about with her plan.  A clever aspect to the story is that the reader isn't given enough information to know exactly what the rabbit is doing. There's a bit of a mystery behind her treehouse - just what is she doing? - that add an extra element of fun to the story.  And no review of this book would be complete without mention of the absolutely fantastic illustrations that accompany the tale. Chris Dunn's watercolor paintings are stunning and really carry the story to a whole new dimension.  Finally, there is a fair amount of text, making this suitable for a "read-together" for six year olds, and a good tale for slightly older readers.  The author has also provided a lesson plan that meets Common Core State Standards on his website.
Quill says: A delightful story about a young rabbit who won't give up - leading to amazing results.