Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books In For Review

Here's a quick peek at some of the books that have just arrived for review.  Check them out!

The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook: 200 Everyday Recipes That Take the Guesswork Out of Counting Calories - Plus, the Exercise It Takes to Burn Them Off by Catherine Jones You know that balancing the calories you take in and burn off is the foundation of weight control. But actually achieving that balance between eating and exercise is a daily challenge for most of us. Now, The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook provides a fresh, sane approach for everyone seeking good health—and great food. Here is an essential repertoire of 200 smart recipes—nutrient-rich, delicious, foolproof, and ideal for busy individuals and families. Every recipe tells you its calorie count—and also tells you how many minutes of walking or jogging it takes for a woman or man to burn those calories off, so you’ll be able to visualize what calories mean as never before. All the recipes are below 400 calories per serving—and most are below 200!  

Chuck It by Knut Hansen A dark and humorous anti-hero novel spanning an approximately 380 pages, magnifying the mythical otherness across the Atlantic, one way or the other, and exploring juvenile exuberance elongated by past and future dreams of those who've set sails and those who yet haven't.  

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie. Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art. But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.  

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M. Garry Walt Honerman has just about given up on life. He is thirty-eight years old and lives in a small apartment above a hardware store in Billings, Montana. But because of a promise made to a dying uncle, Walt embarks on a cross-country driving trip with two passengers : Moira Kelly, a young woman who had befriended Walt's uncle during his recent hospitalization; and 76-year old Izzy Dunleavy, a loquacious nursing home resident who wishes to return to his hometown of Crawfish Bay, Maryland. During their trip, Izzy entertains Walt and Moira with elaborate tales of the grand resort that he once owned in Crawfish Bay-a resort with a mythical reputation for being a place of good luck. But when they arrive in Crawfish Bay, a suddenly confused Izzy is arrested on a decades-old embezzlement charge. After Moira insists on staying to help Izzy, she and Walt discover that most of Izzy's stories are pure fiction. More discoveries occur when they meet Felix, Izzy's former business partner, and Emily, a singe mother who worked at the nursing home in Billings and who came to Crawfish Bay because of Izzy's promise of a job at his fictional resort. This mismatched group, thrown together as much by anger as by nostalgic affection, begins investigating the money Izzy supposedly embezzled when he disappeared from Crawfish Bay years ago. And despite his retreat from life, brought on by a past tragedy, Walt gets pulled into the wake of wild dreamers.  

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after. But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future.  

What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age by Renée Rosen The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night. Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation. But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review - Keeping Fit from A to Z

Keeping Fit from A to Z: Mantente en forma de la A a la Z

Editor: Stephanie Maze
Published by: Moonstone Press
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-0983498353
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 30, 2014

Can you twist and turn like an acrobat? No, but perhaps you juega al béisbol or play croquet. Any way or language you express yourself in, there’s one thing for sure, that if you exercise / ejercicio, you’re sure to keep fit. This is not your ordinary A to Z book, but rather one that will keep you hopping though its pages. Maybe jump a little too and you’ll have a little chance to learn some new words in either English or en Español. Are you ready? Let’s take a little look at some of the super duper (or is that espléndido?) pages in this book!

All right, do you have a favorite letter? Maybe not, but perhaps you have a favorite sport – maybe you love mixed martial arts. Some people can do a karate kick / da una parada de kárate. Watch those boys as they practice their front kick. Very nice, very nice! There are ways to keep fit even if you aren’t in an organized sport. If you love snow you can hazel angel en la nieve (make a snow angel.) Ooooh, a little chilly, but watch those arms go up and down. H is for hazel, but V is for voltereta. No doubt many people have done one, but can you guess what voltereta means? Of course if you are Spanish, you know that it means ‘somersault.’

If you’re into reading you’ll whiz right through this book. Those letters will pop right out at you and you’ll learn all kinds of new words while you’re at it. Acampar, boxea, croquet (ah, you know that one!), danza, and more. Some like ‘croquet’ might be easy to figure out because it’s the same in both languages, but if you take a look at the photographs, you’ll probably be able to figure out what several other words mean. Of course each word in this book is one that has a lot to do with mantente en forma. Did you know that even the smallest things like playing hide and seek can help you keep fit? They can indeed.

This is a very unique A to Z book that, unlike many I’ve seen, is a bilingual one. The theme, “keeping fit,” is an excellent one that will translate and resonate with many homeschool and classroom teachers. Each page pops with exciting photographs of children enjoying life as they find ways to keep fit. Some of the activities are quiet ones while others are more dynamic and vibrant, however all espouse the fact that keeping fit is important. Children can plant flowers / planta flores or they can really move if they juega al fútbol (play soccer). Each page has a capitalized and lower case letter with a larger centralized activity and other smaller ones circling it. In the back of the book are “Other Activities You Can Try / Otras actividades que puedes probar,” “Games You Can Play / Juegos en los que puedes participar,” and an informative “Parents, Did you Know ...? / Padres, ¿sabian qué ...?” section to explore.

Quill says: Keeping Fit from A to Z / Mantente en forma de la A a la Z is a dynamic new A to Z alphabet book that is sure to find its way into small hands, hands that are eager to learn how to stay fit!

For more information on Keeping Fit from A to Z / Mantente en forma de la A a la Z, please visit the publisher's website at: www.moonstonepress.net

Book Review - A Cookie for Santa

A Cookie for Santa

By: Stephanie Shaw
Illustrated by: Bruno Robert
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: June 2014
ISBN: 978-1585368839
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 30, 2014

It was Christmas Eve and a Gingerbread Boy was all alone on a plate full of sugar cookies. The glass of milk was there too, just waiting for Santa to arrive that night. The children had baked those cookies because “They knew that St. Nick, / With his overstuffed pack, / Would be sorely in need / Of a fine midnight snack.” The tree was all set with sparkling decorations, that snack was set out, and there was even a bit of holly here and there. Only one problem…what would the little Gingerbread Boy do when Santa nibbled him up as he chugged down that glass of milk? Oh, my! He put his little gingerbread hands alongside his cheeks and put on his thinking cap.

Before the Gingerbread Boy could get too riled up, two pups came bursting into the room and tugged at the tablecloth. Oops! There went the milk and he almost went with it. Rascal and Rowdy were making a mess and the Gingerbread Boy had to become a “Doggie Distraction.” The tree decorations had already hit the floor and that blue vase was really no more. The pups settled down, but soon hid out of sight when Santa and his reindeer landed on the roof. “Would Santa Claus start / With his legs or his head? / Would he nibble his arms / Or his buttons instead?” The room was a mess, but was there going to be even more trouble for the little Gingerbread Boy when Santa wanted his snack?

This is a fun, rambunctious story of the little Gingerbread Boy and his Christmas Eve misadventure. This story in rhyme was certainly a lively one as the little Gingerbread Boy awaited his fate. Of course it’s a slightly different Christmas Eve tale as we seldom hear about the holiday from a cookie’s point of view. The rhyming scheme was rollicking and those puppies will charm little children as they race around demolishing the room. The artwork is very captivating and delectably sweet. This is yet another book that will be a perfect addition to everyone’s Christmas book collection.

Quill says: If you want a charming new Christmas Eve tale that's sweet and has loads of action, A Cookie for Santa will be just the one!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Interview with Author David Tienter

Today we're talking with David Tienter, author of Playing With Fire

FQ: The first chapter describes an escape of a prisoner of war, was this inspired by personal experience?

TIENTER: The first chapter was inspired by my experiences as a Corpsman attached to the Marines in Vietnam. I served three tours in country and my description of the land and animals was acquired first hand. The escape as a prisoner of war was drawn from the story of a friend who went down behind enemy lines and it took several months for him to return to friendly lines. I found Vietnam to be a place where every plant has a thorn and everything else bites. The Vietnamese have to be very tough just to live there.

FQ: Was it planned from the beginning to write the story from many perspectives and do you think something is gained by using different perspectives as compared to just one?

TIENTER: Yes, I planned on using the perspective of several characters right from the start of the book. I wanted to explore what would cause a ‘normal’ man turn into a monster and why an average man would pursue him. By seeing the thought processes of both, the pursued and the pursuer, I think the reader has a better grasp of the actions of both.

Author David Tienter

FQ: In a book centered on gruesome murders, how do you decide what to include and what not to?

TIENTER: A difficult line has to be walked in writing about the crimes. Almost everything is too violent for many readers and for some it can’t be violent enough. I try to make my crimes heinous enough to justify the use of force in capturing the bad guys but still I am not writing to gross someone out. I certainly don’t want to put anything in my books that would make some sick dude think about copying the crimes I write about. My victim is a strong character and maintains her pride.

FQ: The character of Harry, a psychotic serial killer, has some intense scenes. Was it difficult to write about these?

TIENTER: Once I pull the mantle of the monster over me, I find it easy to describe what I believe his actions would be. Since a monster can do anything, it’s fun and easy to write. He just has to be twisted enough to take advantage of others. After reading my books, several of my wife’s friends have asked her if she is worried about sleeping with me. She tells them she keeps the big dog, who doesn’t like me, sleeping between us and has a gun under her pillow.

The author with his dogs

FQ: How do you develop the story so that each event or clue leads to the next one?

TIENTER: At times, I feel like a juggler keeping six or eight characters suspended in mid-air while I shift the story to work in the right actions and the right place for each character to advance. When I get done with a day’s writing, I always read it over again to find out if my jigsaw puzzle has all the right pieces in the right places and to make sure the story is moving in the right direction. I make sure the monster is hidden under a bed while the hero is polishing his halo.

FQ: What research did you have to do about the Appalachian Trail for this book?

TIENTER: The Appalachian Trail is such an awe inspiring part of America, I’m always surprised that more books are not written with it in the background. It’s a vast wilderness area close to the major population areas of the country, totally wild and free. It speaks to the American Spirit that we have this resource free and accessible. I think it keeps us connected to our history and our inner nature. I have always been fascinated by it.

The author with his wife Anne in Alaska

I wanted to hike it, but lost a knee in Vietnam and knew I could never make a through hike. When writing Playing with Fire, I drove to the Headquarters of the Smokey Mountain National Forest in Fayetteville, and hiked up to the Trail. I spent three days hiking and sleeping on ground, so when I talk about the rocks, trees, plants, and the Trail, itself, I’m talking from experience. By the way, mountains are made out of rock, a rather hard bed. For me, at least, three nights were plenty.

FQ: Without giving anything away, was the ending planned from the beginning or did it develop as you were writing?

TIENTER: The ending developed as I wrote the story out. Teddie was too strong a character and needed to be developed. That demanded that more story was needed after the bad guys death. Plus, I wanted to show that even monsters have people who love them and that heroes are not loved by everyone. I’m sure there are people who grieved Ted Bundy, thinking he was just misunderstood and surely innocent. Matt and Harry could have easily been friends in slightly different circumstances.

To learn more about Playing With Fire please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Giveaway!

Have you entered this month's book giveaway yet??? It's simple and the winner gets a copy of "Survival Colony 9" by Joshua David Bellin. Entry is simple and takes just seconds. There's also a link to the book's review on the submission page. Check it out!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review - Dreamer's Pool

Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel

By: Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Publication Date: November 2014
ISBN: 978-0451466990
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: September 24, 2014

During her time in prison, Blackthorn didn’t want to remember her old name, for it reminded her of everything she had lost. The only thing that kept her alive in that wretched prison was her thirst for vengeance. When a mysterious stranger comes and offers her freedom with conditions Blackthorn thinks to herself, this may be her only hope of getting revenge. However, these conditions command that she serves as a healer for a period of seven years and help anyone who asks for it. If she refuses to help then a year will be added on to her sentence. After being in prison so long the one thing Blackthorn despises doing more than anything else is talking with people, something that is required of her all the time as a healer. The only person she can stand being around is a giant of a man named Grim who insisted on following her when they escaped from prison. Blackthorn knows the only reason she is alive is this chance she was given by a stranger but has she just switched one prison sentence for another?

On the other side of the kingdom young Prince Oran is under constant pressure from his parents to take on his royal responsibilities and find a suitable bride and produce an heir. There had been numerous times his parents suggested an arranged marriage with a princess from a neighboring kingdom but the thought of an arranged marriage did not sit well with Oran. He was a dreamer, a poet, and longed for the type of marriage that was based on true love and affection. As time went by however, Oran realized that he could not avoid his responsibilities forever. He finally agrees to consider a marriage with a woman named Flidais, the daughter of a respected King and ally of Oran’s family. After receiving a portrait of his bride-to-be Oran is completely transfixed as he sees the eyes of a woman who looks at the world as he does and after exchanging personal letters Oran is certain this is the woman he is meant to marry. As the wedding day approaches and Oran is able to spend time with his bride he becomes increasingly worried as the woman in front of him does not seem at all to be the woman from the letters he received. Oran quickly begins to wonder what the consequences will be if he marries Flidais and makes a terrible mistake.

I applaud Juliet Marillier for crafting an absolutely amazing fantasy tale with intriguing characters. Every chapter had me glued to this book as I curled up on the couch and did not stop reading until I was finished. Telling the story from the eyes of three different characters held additional intrigue as the reader is given an inside look at how each character views the other and in turn how that effects the direction of the story. There are many times when I am reading a book that I can guess what is coming next or find clues that start to give away the ending but with this book I was completely surprised with the conclusion and I loved it! Marillier wrote with such wonderful intricacy and subtleness that the ending was unexpected and did not disappoint one bit.

Quill says: An unbelievably and expertly written story that weaves magic, danger, love, and strong characters all into one fantastic story!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review - Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

By: David Tienter
Publisher: Enigma Press
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0692262047
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: September 23, 2014

After surviving and escaping a prison of war camp in Vietnam, the protagonist in Playing With Fire, Matt, knows he has developed a particular set of skills that allows him to get into the minds of criminals on the run. This has already been proven once when he helped a friend, Frank, track down the man who murdered his wife. Now, Frank is asking for help once again when Frank’s brother Chuck goes missing after a few days hiking the Appalachian Trail. Frank explains to Matt that Chuck is in extremely good shape as he frequently runs marathons and has even competed in triathlons so it is disturbing that no one has heard from him in nearly two weeks. Immediately wanting to help his dear friend, Matt agrees to go searching for his brother and gathers the gear he will need to go on his own hike down the Appalachian Trail.

During his search for Chuck, Matt comes across an odd pile of leaves that is sure to be the work of some human and as he begins to move this pile he discovers the remains of a human boy. Matt has unknowingly stumbled onto the site of a heinous murder in which the victim appears to have been burned alive. Knowing that Chuck could still be out there with a psychotic killer running loose increases the intensity of the search but now Matt vows not only to find Chuck but to also find this killer as well and put an end to him.

It does not take long for Matt to realize that he is chasing after a downright dangerous and unpredictable man who would probably not hesitate to kill him if given the chance. It is clear after the remains of the boy were found that the killer fled from the Appalachian Trail and Matt will have to try to get inside this killer’s head if he wants to figure out which way he went. Following his instincts, Matt sets out to track down this monster, having no way to know just how dangerous a quest he is accepting.

There is only one way I would describe this book and that is extremely intense. This was a thrilling mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat, especially toward the conclusion as it held a twist I in no way saw coming. Note, however, that this is not a story for the faint-hearted/cozy mystery reader! The story centers on a gruesome killer who turned my stomach each time he was mentioned. To be quite honest there were times where the story was written from the killer’s perspective and I had a difficult time reading it as the descriptions were very detailed. Even though I did find myself applauding the character of Matt for going after the killer, there was not much left to the imagination when the murders were taking place.

Quill says: A thrilling mystery that takes the reader on an intense ride.

For more information on Playing With Fire, please visit the author's website at: www.DavidTienter.com