Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with David Boglioli, author of New York City Bum.
FQ: How long did it take you to pen this book (and was it difficult to put your personal experiences into actual words)?
BOGLIOLI: It took me ten years to write New York City Bum. The book went through many drafts before publication.
FQ: In line with question 1, were there times you wanted to scratch the project altogether (and how did you get back on track)?
BOGLIOLI: No, though I went through long periods of not working on the book, due to various distractions.
FQ: There is a strong tone throughout your book toward justifying the choices you made to become a drug addict. Yet, there is also a tone of ‘the heck with the ones who used to care… it’s my life!’ At the headwaters of diving into the deep end of drug addition, did you ever have lucid moments of remorse and regret? How did you overcome them if you did?
BOGLIOLI: I don’t think that in my ten years on the street I ever regretted being there. I was where I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do. I had no desire to go back to the life I left behind. I had a job for a year or two in a fancy restaurant, once I got sober, but then I went back to drinking and drugs. I spent all I made on alcohol and drugs. I found I didn’t want to be part of the establishment any more. I gave the better part of my life to being a member of the establishment, but I didn’t find what I wanted or needed from that way of life. When I started smoking crack, other opportunities opened up to me, headstrong guy that I am. Once I was on the street, once I was used to it, and had learned how to function in that world, it was more attractive to me.
FQ: Your writing certainly depicts a person who is educated and well-spoken, yet there is a nuance that you thumb your nose at such an existence. Has it always been important for you to make a statement to stand out in a crowd?
BOGLIOLI: Yes, I think so.
FQ: Why crack and why not sell it all and move to the mountains to live off the grid as an alternative?
BOGLIOLI: The first puff of crack made up my mind. That was all I wanted to do. That’s why there was the big epidemic.
FQ: Do you miss creating with food? It sounds as though you were quite talented in your craft. What turned you off so deeply you resorted to life on the street and drugs?
BOGLIOLI: I love cooking and I still cook at home. I still do garde manger work for the holidays. However, once I experienced crack cooking fell by the wayside.
FQ: Do you have animosity toward authority? Have you ever thought to explore this facet of your personality or are you more akin to: ‘people just don’t understand me and I don’t care what they think’?
BOGLIOLI: I don’t feel that people don’t understand me. I’ve just always had a distaste for authority.
FQ: I was extremely challenged when it came time to evaluate this read. There were often times I found myself wanting to shout out: “Why are you throwing your life away?” Yet, I kept turning the page to see what was going to occur next. Who was/is the audience you were writing for and was my reaction the vision you intended for your audience?
BOGLIOLI: My vision was to move people emotionally as well as to reveal the world of street life. I write for people who are a little out of the box: actors, actresses, fellow alcoholics, homosexuals, as well as people who would like a look at a life that’s not open to them. People who don’t want to live that life but are curious and want to understand more about that life. I have yet to find a book that describes the street, homelessness, and crack as vividly mine does.
FQ: I want to thank you for your time and must say upon finishing the read, you’ve left me with much to think about. This is a story that will linger with me for a while beyond its proverbial ‘the end.’ What’s next? Are you able to give us a teaser?
BOGLIOLI: There’s a 20-page preview of my upcoming book, Detour, at the back of New York City Bum. I continue to work on my blog, which is an extension of NYCBum: https://davidboglioli.wordpress.com/
By: David Boglioli
Publication Date: September 2017
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 12, 2018
David Boglioli embarks upon an epic journey (and slide) from the throes of reality into the depths of debauchery in his latest body of work and personal account that details his ten-year achievement of becoming a New York City Bum.
When asked to consider reading and reviewing this book, my initial pull to do so was the title. Titles are the essence of an anchor to hook the prospective reader into what lies between the covers. Moving beyond the title, it is key to have cover art that somehow ties to the title. The display of the American flag, flanked by a flag depicting a skull and crossbones was fitting, in my opinion, to the inevitable dichotomy of the tale that lurked beneath its cover. I rose to the challenge and settled in for a leisurely read of what Mr. Boglioli had to share.
The book opens with a foreward setting the record straight on the fact that the story is true and ‘…all names and places are real and did exist in New York City at the time of telling (1980s and 90s). Any errors in documentation are accidental…’ I ventured forward to the first chapter. Mr. Boglioli makes it perfectly clear within the first few sentences how very easy it is for one to get ‘lost’ in New York City. He wastes no time in painting the diversity between the haves and have-not’s and in purposeful dialect, he makes it clear while he started out as one of the ‘haves,’ he coveted to live the life of a ‘have-not.’
There is a formula Mr. Boglioli assumes in his writing of his ten-year experience living (most times barely existing) on the streets of New York in its bowels of drug-infestation, prostitution and down-right perilous situations. He steps the reader through his former life of being a renowned culinary perfectionist working for the Ritz Carlton only to sabotage his own livelihood and well-being for one more dance with crack. All in all, this is a telling of a tale that transcends across 500+ pages of situation upon situation and happenstance of how to live a life of nothing more than day-to-day and hour-by-hour survival with the notion of self-destruction being the only beacon on his horizon.
This was an extremely difficult read for me to get through. I often set the book down for a day (sometimes more) to reinvigorate that inner person who is committed to reading a book and evaluating its content for two things: 1) does the story flow; and 2) does the premise capture my interest. I would say Mr. Boglioli wins high scores concerning the ‘capture my interest.’ Frankly, his annotations and colorful descriptions of his quest to become less than whole was firing on all pistons throughout. Where the story fell short was the flow. Mr. Boglioli clearly is well-spoken (and I would surmise well-read). However, for the lay person, some of the terminology used requires the companion of Webster’s dictionary to understand the meaning of the word and the context in which it was used: ‘…I was seeking to penetrate, to enjoin the meretricious world of the street… In that I strove inveterately as I needed…’ I’m all for the flair of descriptive prose, but found Mr. Boglioli was insistent to a fault to write at a level beyond 50,000 feet versus using a succinct and powerful punch with action figure verbiage to get his point across. I simply could not connect with the premise of his anti-establishment rant toward the general populace of normality to opt for a ten-year journey to pay homage to drug addiction.
Quill says: New York City Bum is a demonstrative and slanted homage to the horrors of drug addiction and certainly not a ‘must read’ for the faint of heart.
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Jebediah Jenkins, author of I'm Not Perfect: But God Still Loves Me! (Mac and Cheese Books for the Heart - Volume 4)
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book.
JENKINS: Jebediah Jenkins is just a crazy, fun, and amusing pen name I chose to use for my children's book series... Mac & Cheese Books for the Heart. My real name is Jason Brown. I graduated from Lee University with a degree in music performance in 1997. I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters who each have contributed to the creation of these books (4 so far). I could not have written these books without their love and support.
FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?
JENKINS: I'm a musician at heart, a pianist... but I remember being told as a child that I was a very good writer. I feel the rhythm, the rise and fall, ebb and flow of words much like music.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
JENKINS: Mac & Cheese Books for the Heart is a series of reassuring books for children with imperfect parents and circumstances. Each book in the series contains a message assuring a child that no matter what happens in their life... (sickness, deployment, divorce or just a bad day) they are still loved! We all make mistakes or go through disappointments and unfortunate circumstances in life that can often leave a child feeling unsure of things. Every story in each Mac & Cheese Books For the Heart book is designed around something very specific a child may be facing and assures them that no matter what... they are still loved.
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
JENKINS: As a father and author, I wanted to give today's children an uplifting message through written words of affirmation and reassurance (life's not perfect, we're not perfect, but we STILL love you!) and fun, engaging and interactive pictures (children have to find Mr. Jenkins the owl who is carefully hidden inside each amusing picture throughout the books!).
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or …?
JENKINS: My inspiration for Mac and Cheese for the Heart came from my own experience as an imperfect dad and my desire to use children's literature to make a positive impact in the lives of children today. I plans to use Mr. Jenkins the owl to address topics like bullying, deployment, cancer, and other real-life challenges children face each and every day.
FQ: What was the hardest part of writing your book? That first chapter, the last paragraph, or …?
JENKINS: It's a children's book so I don't claim to have had much of a challenge with the words. It was the artwork that took a great deal of time to get just right. Most of my time editing these books were spent on the artwork so I have a newfound appreciation for all of the amazing illustrators out there.
FQ: Do you have any plans to try writing a book in a different genre? If so, which genre and why?
JENKINS: I am currently writing a book for teenagers about anti-bullying based on my own painful experience as a child. However, I am writing the book as a self-help book rather than an autobiography.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
JENKINS: I seriously doubt anyone reading this would have ever heard of Joseph Prince from Singapore but I love reading his books. My other favorite authors are rather commonplace... C. S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, J. K. Rowling, etc.
FQ: Which do you find easier, starting a story, or writing the conclusion?
JENKINS: I just start writing without worrying about where it will end up so I guess it's the same.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
JENKINS: Grace Revolution by Joseph Prince. I am sure his book has influenced me in some small way to create the Mac & Cheese Books for the Heart series.
FQ: Where do you think you’ve improved the most in your writing process and ability and how do you think you have evolved?
JENKINS: I've only written 4 children's books but it feels amazing to have accomplished something that seemed so daunting at first. I stumbled around in the dark until I finally found the light switch and things started coming together.
FQ: Is this the first book, the second, etc. in the series and how many books do you anticipate writing in this series?
JENKINS: I have written 4 books so far for children ages 1-6 featuring Mr. Jenkins the owl and am currently writing a self-help book for teenagers.
FQ: Tell us a bit about the series. Do you know where the series will take the characters or are you working that out as you go along with each book? What has been the reader response to your series?
JENKINS: Mr. Jenkins the owl takes children on a journey through both positive and negative circumstances and reassures them that, no matter what happens in life, they are still loved.
FQ: Do you feel any pressure to hurry up and get the next book in the series published? Does this make it harder to write or do you work better under such pressure?
JENKINS: I like to process ideas over time and write in short spurts as the ideas come to me.
FQ: Do you see your series going longer than originally expected? More stories to write than originally planned?
JENKINS: Yes... I would like to write at least 4 more books addressing divorce, deployment, illness, death and bullying.
FQ: Many authors say that it’s hard to say good-bye to the characters in a series? Do you think it will be difficult for you? Have they become part of your life?
JENKINS: I would love to continue using Mr. Jenkins the owl going forward and perhaps add a Mrs. Jenkins down the road.
FQ: What made you/Why did you decide to write this book? Did you see a need?
JENKINS: As a father and author, I wanted to give today's children an uplifting message through engaging interactive pictures and written words of affirmation and reassurance. Life's not perfect, we're not perfect, but we STILL love you!
FQ: What makes your book unique? Why should readers pick up your book over others in the field?
JENKINS: I wanted to develop a complete series of children's books using words of affirmation reassuring children that they are still loved no matter what happens in life. An owl named Mr. Jenkins takes children through a series of positive and negative circumstances and reassures them that although Daddy's not perfect (or Mommy's not perfect, etc), they are still loved.
FQ: Tell us a little about your qualifications in your field.
JENKINS: I grew up in a very strict, religious environment where little love and affection was given. My dad was an absent workaholic father and I do not recall a single memory of my parents hugging/kissing me. They had there own issues they were dealing with so I do not blame them. However, I truly believe if I had access to books like the ones I have written, it would have helped reassure me as a child that although my dad wasn't often around, he still loved me and although my mother was not affectionate, she still loved me.
FQ: With so many books being released each year, what made you decide to publish your book? What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
JENKINS: I wanted this series of books to deal with some tough issues like divorce, deployment, illness and even death to reassure children that they are still loved regardless of their circumstances. Life's not perfect, you're not perfect, we're not perfect, but we still love you no matter what.
FQ: How much research went into writing your book?
JENKINS: I had never written a children's book before so it took a lot of trial and error to move through the process... a couple of months.
To learn more about I'm Not Perfect: But God Still Loves Me! (Mac and Cheese Books for the Heart - Volume 4) please visit the publisher's website at: macandcheesebooks.com
By: Salvo Lavis & James Munn Illustrated by: Dave Leonard Publisher: Spitball Studio Publication Date: June 15, 2018 ISBN: 978-0-9977982-2-7 Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: May 16, 2018
It’s very possible that some readers out there don’t know how entertaining a weasel can be. But if you and your kids read Once Upon a Weasel together, which was the first book in the World of the Weasel series, you already understand that this is one creature you can definitely have fun with.
Here, in adventure number two, the young boy and his best friend – his pet Weasel – are enjoying their time together. The only hard part is Mom and Dad just don’t seem to understand the creature. They believe Weasel is just a wild animal, and they have certain rules their son must follow in order to keep him. After all, weasels can’t be trained like…say, a dog or a cat, so the boy must make sure that when he’s at school Weasel is in the bedroom locked in a cage, and the boy cannot play with Weasel until he’s done with his homework.
And speaking of homework… At school, the boy’s class must write a paper for the teacher about something they learned in a book. Although the boy is confused at first, not knowing what to write about, an idea “hits him.” He will learn how to train Weasel and write about it. That will take care of his two biggest problems at the same time. Mom and Dad will see that Weasel is an appropriate pet that can be trained to sit, obey, etc., and the boy will have a great paper. But when he heads to the library and finds there is no book focused on weasel training, the boy is crushed.
Until…he comes across a school where, if he gives the instructor money, he can learn to train his pet and then graduate with a diploma to make Mom and Dad proud. But when it comes to training, Weasel definitely has a mind of his own. So will Weasel end up back in the wild? Will the boy find anything to write about for his homework assignment? You must read to find out all about friendship, determination, and the ability to make things right when you put your mind to it.
Kids will love this series. Weasel is fun, wild, and inspirational all at the same time. The illustrations are hysterical, with Weasel showing he has the ability to do everything from downhill skiing to rock climbing. The team of authors and illustrator have done a fantastic job putting this creation together, and for those who want to have even more fun, they can visit WorldOfTheWeasel.com.
Quill Says: This definitely represents the excitement that only books can provide to a young imagination, and is a series that should end up on your child’s bookshelf!
By: Erica Miner Publisher: Twilight Times Books Publication Date: May 2018 ISBN: 978-1-60619-130-9 Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: May 2018
For those who have met Erica Miner’s awesome character, Metropolitan Opera violinist Julia Kogan, you will be thrilled with this newest murder mystery.
Julia has just recently gotten out of the debacle that occurred at the Met in New York. It was there that murder took place and had caught her up in a web of lies, suspects and mayhem. Now looking forward to a far calmer summer, Julia goes on assignment for the warm months in the coveted role of concertmaster for the Santa Fe Opera Company, during the world-renowned summer opera festival. Larry Somers is an NYPD Detective and also Julia’s significant other. And let us just say, after the murders at the Met, he’s more than a little exhausted himself. One thing is for certain, though, neither Julia nor Larry ever expected the beautiful, mystical world of New Mexico to involve even more death and destruction.
As a citizen of this great state, this reader can tell you that tales and legends in regards to the area of Santa Fe abound. In fact, the author begins Julia’s new tale with a Prologue that causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise. It is the year 1610, and at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Santa Fe, on the site of an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin, the Governor and his crew make a plan for a city to be built. One hundred years later, a shadow of a figure digs a deep hole in this spot and then walks away, leaving nothing but a hollow void behind that is set aglow by the special Super Moon.
Although Julia arrives with happiness in her heart at being able to take a step away from “The Big Apple,” it does not take long before this amateur sleuth once again finds herself in the middle of a killing spree that is happening backstage. This is one of those times where the show must go on; but now it must do so while Julia is wrapped up in meeting new faces and trying to glean who they are, if they’re angry and, if so, what they’re angry about before another performer or artiste falls to their death. Chaos ensues while readers get to revel at the outdoor elegance of the Santa Fe Opera Theatre, learning with each step Julia takes what an old legend has to do with the very current, harsh reality.
Julia, her officer boyfriend, her life, and all these amazing characters that are brought to the page, from a costume director to an Italian diva and beyond, make this a compelling mystery that is the perfect continuation for author Erica Miner’s series.
Quill Says: Get on board with this violinist now. You will not be disappointed by these action-packed mysteries that are as memorable as the music that “accompanies” them.
By: Susan Sofayov
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: January 2018
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: May 9, 2018
Julie Wasserman struggles to go on with her life after the devastating loss of her twin brother in an automobile accident. Will exotic travel and a new love help her resolve her “survivor's guilt” and move on with her life?
As Jerusalem Stone opens, we’re taken to a beautiful beach on an island in Thailand where we meet Julie Wasserman. Julie is a young woman desperately searching for something – something to release her from the pain of missing her beloved brother Jack. Julie is convinced that she is the reason Jack is dead and she can’t forgive herself. She has traveled to Thailand because it was a place Jack always wanted to visit and she hopes that she might find a bit of peace traveling to the exotic location.
As Julie sits on the gorgeous beach, watching other people enjoy the glorious day, she is approached by a man she assumes is a beach bum. With a dark tan, a backpack, and his brown hair falling below his shoulders in a tangle of dreadlocks, he certainly gives off the air of somebody who lives on the beach. But it’s his piercing eyes and bright smile that really catches Julie’s attention. The young man introduces himself as Avi Gold, and he’s definitely not shy as he quickly works his way onto Julie’s mat.
Julie unwillingly strikes up a conversation with Avi – she’s not looking for friends and would really prefer to be left alone to read her book. But Avi is persistent and won’t take no for an answer. He pours on the charm and it isn’t long before Julie agrees to have dinner with him. She is surprised to see so many people, both at the Chabad House, as well as on the streets of Phuket, who know Avi and greet him as they would a dear friend. Avi is, no doubt, a handsome man, but there’s something more to this mysterious man.
Julie may, reluctantly, be falling in love with Avi, but she holds herself back from her true feelings because of the immense guilt she feels over her brother’s death. Avi tries his best to get Julie to attend several services at Chabad, thinking this might help her, but she isn’t interested. Going to services reminds her of Jack, who never missed the Kabbalat Shabbat service at their local Chabad House. Even meeting Avi’s good friend, Rabbi Sam, doesn’t help convince Julie. At the same time, Avi does his best to persuade Julie that their meeting was bashert (meant to be), but she refuses to believe. Perhaps a romantic trip to the jungle, or even a trip to Israel will help Julie let go of the past and move on with her life…
Author Susan Sofayov set the scene perfectly when the story opened as I was instantly transported to that beautiful beach, listening to the splash of the waves along with Julie. The street scenes, the jungle trip, the visit to Israel – these locations all came to life with the guidance of Sofayov’s pen. The author also does a nice job of building her characters into believable people with real-life struggles. It’s easy to feel Julie’s pain at the loss of her brother, and her conflicted emotions when she wants to love Avi but is afraid to let go of her guilt. There were also numerous interesting discussions between Julie and Avi about life, religion and whether there is such a thing as bashert. The one criticism is that as the story progressed, Julie continued to be paralyzed by her guilt and she became somewhat annoying. She was visiting amazing places in Israel with a wonderful man who was deeply in love with her and still her mind kept going to her brother. I found myself starting to wonder how Avi could really love Julie if she could not let go of her pain. Other than this minor point, the story was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to reading more from Susan Sofayov.
Quill says: Jerusalem Stone is a heartfelt and engaging story about one woman’s struggle to let go of her guilt and move on with her life and new love.
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Stuart Samuel, author of The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle.
FQ: How does The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle differ from your first children's book?
SAMUEL: My first children's book One, Two, Three, This Book 's for Mewas written for my son when he was just turning four years old. I was looking for a book with certain features (all capital letters, rhyming and rhythm, pictures beneath words to aid in the reading, etc.) that would maximally assist him to read and count. However, I could not find anything available in bookstores or online. So I generated the content myself and later turned it into a published book. Hence, this first book was non-fiction and highly educational and even lead to the publication How I Taught My Four-Year-Old Son to Read. Secondly, One, Two, Three, This Book 's for Mewas written from a young child's viewpoint. Indeed, the reaction of preschool children to it was phenomenal; they become so excited to discover how easy it was to read. However, despite this and the fact that the book won a prize (Best of 2002 by January Magazine), sales were mediocre. What I discovered was that the book did not appeal that much to parents, and parents, of course, are the ones who buy the books. So when I decided to write a book for my daughter, I deliberately wrote it from an adult point of view. The Adventure of Thomas the Turtleis in some sense adult literature in which the parent is to read and to explain it to a child. So compared to my first book, The Adventure of Thomas the Turtleis narrative fiction aimed to be enjoyable to a slightly older child (ages 5 to 9). It is a sophisticated book in its language, with deep meanings and multiple themes. Indeed, a few reviewers have criticized the language of the book and I accept this. Authors are not usually supposed to reveal their books' ideas but many of the reviewers at Netgalley.com and Goodreads.com have discussed them for The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle. Foremost is the idea of obeying one's parents. Thomas's mother told him not to go to the forbidden regionand although he did not outright disobey her, he – out of curiosity – did venture too close. The consequences of his actions taught him a lesson that will help convince young readers that they should listen to their parents. Another theme involves family unity: Thomas sets out on a heroic endeavor to be re-joined with his family. And this brings in the character themes of courage and determination. In this regard, Thomas often prays for help. To paraphrase one reviewer, “praying in times of trouble provides hope and support to never give up.” When Thomas is separated from his mother by falling over a waterfall, he struggles battling the forces of nature to survive. This is a direct physical experience. But there are perceived supernatural elements in The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle: the forbidden region and the evil force. When a brother and sister rescue Thomas from being stuck in a thicket, it is from the Thomas' point of view as if some mysterious external intervention has answered his prayers. And this brings us to another theme, the one for which Feather Quill Reviews has selected The Adventure of Thomas the Turtlefor the “Be Kind to Animals Award”: The brother suggests taking the turtle home as a pet. However, his sister believes that Thomas is (in her words) “a natural creature and should be left as such.” So the children end up helping Thomas return to his natural habitat rather than taking him home. I have discussed quite a few themes here; however, I believe that a deeply thinking reader will find several others.
FQ: What made you want to write a children's book about turtles?
SAMUEL: The best way to answer this is that the story selected the animal. I needed a separation event: I realized that a waterfall would be perfect given how traumatic it would be to be toss over it. This and being sweep over rapids would provide a battle with the forces of nature. If you think about the rest of the story, a turtle is really the only option. I also like turtles very much.
FQ: So are you hopeful that young readers will realize that should they find a turtle in distress, they should help it return to a safe place?
SAMUEL: Definitely. As I explained above, this is one of the themes of The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle.
FQ: The illustrations forThe Adventure of Thomas the Turtle are quite lovely. Were you and the illustrator, Nathaniel Dailey, acquainted before starting this project and how hard was it to work together?
SAMUEL: Actually, I have never met nor had any contact with Nathaniel Dailey. An editor at Jupiter Scientific (the publisher) handled everything. I agree that the illustrations are beautiful and that Dailey did a wonderful job of using them to render the story vivid.
FQ: Are you currently working on your next book? If so, will it be another animal story?
SAMUEL: If The Adventure of Thomas the Turtlesells well then there is a natural sequel.
I would like to say one last thing: Frequently authors become bored with their books having written, rewritten, read and reread them so often. However, with the passing of time, I have actually become quite fond of this brave, little turtle named Thomas.