Thursday, October 17, 2019

#BookReview - Wind

WIND: A Tragicomedic Tale of Trials & Errors
By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9994185-3-6
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 17, 2019 
Simon Plaster’s bevy of tales when it comes to his girl, Henrietta Hebert from Henryetta, Oklahoma, have ascended in many readers’ minds to sit among the “best of the best.” His is humor to the most brilliant degree and, if questioned, it’s easy to state (which this reviewer has done before), that this author is the ultimate “King of Satire.” 
This time around, we join Henrietta as she’s driving her old yellow Checker cab west on Historic Route 66. Henrietta said ‘so long’ to her small hometown in Oklahoma once to go after her dream. Yes, she is a journalist, and that Pulitzer Prize is out there. It’s dangling in her future, like a squirrel in a tree mocking the barking dog in the back yard saying: “Learn how to climb yet, Fido?”
Lack of education is Henrietta’s problem. After all, she only enjoyed a half-semester of remedial reading and writing in a junior college before heading home to help her mother when she had a brain stroke. There, she was stymied while working for Harold Mixon, the owner/publisher of the Henryetta Weekly Herald. Finally, after going nowhere, she has quit the job and hit the highway in order to better herself so she can catch that elusive squirrel.
Pulling up in front of the Oklahoma Public Education Center (Yes, OPEC) in Oklahoma City, Henrietta is a bit surprised that this once tech school is now offering a curriculum that includes the career path she’s chosen. After signing up for a minor in cheerleading (yes, there’s a joke there), Henrietta heads out to meet her new Professor of Journalism, Mr. Owen Hatteras. He “teaches” his course in the print shop which is a metal shack located behind the run-down WELCOME CENTER on campus. 
Owen is interesting, to say the least. Sixtyish, cigar smoking, bowtie-wearing, cusses like a drunk cowboy man—he has a past that includes being too smart for the people whose chins are far too high (a.k.a. Harvard), and despising politicians, among many others. The person he despises most at the moment, however, is a man already holding the D.A. slot in Oklahoma City, Lawrence Farrell. When he was younger, Owen became the courthouse reporter for his hometown newspaper, the Oklahoman out of OKC, so he has witnessed how absolutely unscrupulous Farrell can be in order to keep his career moving ahead. In fact, Owen once worked for this man and hates him with a fervor. Oddly enough, however, he wants to help Farrell win an upcoming election. But...why? Oh, trust me, there’s a reason.
Henrietta learns from Owen all about the new OPEC curriculum, which is not only adding journalism to their offerings but also two other choices: A Department of Feminist Studies, and an English Department run by Temporary Adjunct Professor Joseph McDokes, who will teach western literature. Included in this course will be Genesis I. 
This is significant because in the state of Tennessee, in the year 1925, there was a famous trial referred to as the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” It had to do with religion and education coming together in an “unlawful” way. A substitute high school teacher was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The lawyers on hand for this trial were big-name to say the least, and it also brought in arguments from Modernists and Fundamentalists. (Must have been a real happy time in that courtroom. Too bad cell phones weren’t invented then to take some friendly pics.)
In the here and now, it is Henrietta Herbert, aspiring journalist, who will be taking on many roles. She will not only find herself attracted to the accused, but will also be reporting on what could turn out to be a new “trial of the century.” This is all happening while Owen is playing his own cat-and-mouse game; the constant yapping can be heard from the former D.A., William “B. is for Bullshit” Ryan; and the Church has their own uprising against people who still do not understand that God’s word trumps (no pun intended) science, and so much more. Henrietta will even be referred to as Miley Cyrus. (Wanna know why? Read the book!)
Defined in reviews and bios across the Internet, Simon Plaster is a storyteller: both a writer of fiction and a fibber (a.k.a., downright liar.) To fans who are completely on edge at times waiting to see Henrietta again and laugh hysterically over the new characters she will meet up with, the more correct definition of Simon Plaster is, downright funny with a mind that creates books which are unforgettable. If you have not “jumped in” with this series as of yet, this is a great place to begin. After this, you will most assuredly “jump backwards” and read every word that has ever been uttered in regards to Henrietta Herbert of Oklahoma.
Quill says: This book offers humor and a unique education that brings the trials and errors of this current world into focus.


#BookReview - Son of Thunder @StevenMMoore4

Son of Thunder (Esther Brookstone Art Detective)

By: Steven M. Moore
Publisher: Penmore Press
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1950586073
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: October 16, 2019
Practiced mystery author Steven M. Moore creates three tales in one, from different historical plateaus, blending elements of a modern thriller with myth and fact from two earlier centuries in his newest offering, Son of Thunder.
The stories open as painter Sandro Boticelli presents to his patron Lorenzo de Medici his latest creation – untitled - depicting the New Testament Zebedee and his two sons James and John, the latter definitely resembling the artist. When Lorenzo spurns the unusual painting, Bishop Leo steps in and makes Boticelli an offer he can’t refuse. Once he has possession of Boticelli’s creation, Leo hides it away in an armoire along with some cryptic notes regarding the true burial site of John, whom Jesus named a “son of thunder.” Next we find John, in the first century; he’s fleeing the violence of the Romans against Christians by traveling furtively through Europe, calling on Mary the mother of Jesus, who is on her death bed, and Mary, known as the Magdalene, who, like John, is boldly attempting to preserve relics of their Master’s life and teaching. 
Skipping to the twenty-first century we meet Esther Brookstone, a retired operative from Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Division, and her male companion, Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent. The two have just spent some quality time together in her newly renovated castle and both are, secretly, considering the possibility of marriage. Through her contacts in the art world, Esther authenticates the Boticelli painting once hidden away by Bishop Leo, and discovers his arcane notes concerning the grave of St. John. These will lead her, Bastiann, and a varied cast of characters - with a wide, sometimes nefarious mix of motives and methods – on an international chase to a faraway place where sacred bones are buried. 
Moore has written about Esther and Bastiann previously; the interest about and between the two is deepened in this latest exploration of their vibrant partnership. Though Esther seems at times the more assertive of the two and quite capable of taking care of herself, she needs someone like Bastiann -- a plodder, an observer, and a good man to have on one’s side when the chips are down. Moore offers an abundance of stirring intrigue related to the current political climate, against a background of historical speculation. Terrorism and its foes play a role, and a weirdly motivated descendant of one of the ancients joins in the fray. Moore has included an afterword he calls “Notes, Disclaimers and Acknowledgements” that sheds light on the lure for him of this multilayered, twisting tale.
Quill says: Moore’s deft interweaving of history, religion, fable and fact makes for a fascinating read, highly recommended for readers who favor a thriller that makes them think beyond the page.
To learn more about Son of Thunder, please visit the author's website at: stevenmmoore.com

#BookReview - Eating for Pregnancy @WerbieLLC

Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook, 3rd Edition

By: Catherine Jones and Rose Ann Hudson with Teresa Knight
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7382-8510-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 2019
Eating for Pregnancy is a fantastic guide to source if you are the expectant momma who is committed to embracing the concept of ‘you are what you eat’ and making the right choices of what you eat for your unborn child.
This book encompasses an overarching and solid guideline of insights and nutritional facts that focus on the importance and essence of making healthy food and life choices from conception to delivery of one’s unborn child. Speaking from my experience with my first pregnancy, I had no idea where to look or what to consider once I knew I was pregnant. Of course, the guidance and care of my physician was key, but the everyday in between as the baby developed was a mystery to me. In Eating for Pregnancy, the ‘what to do and what not to do’ is spelled out throughout the book. It is broken down into the three trimesters of pregnancy and provides not only the changes a woman’s body goes through in each phase, but provides the critical needs an expectant mother must consider to not only develop a healthy child, but to nurture and take care of her ‘body/temple’ along the way as well.
Early in the read, each author takes a moment to introduce herself and provide credentials that solidify why they are knowledgeable and equipped to lay out the read. The book then launches into the daily nutritional needs during each trimester of pregnancy. The information is provided in easy to read charts that outline not only caloric needs, but how to attain healthy choices to satisfy the necessary caloric intake. It delves further into the average weight gain during pregnancy and how the weight gain should be attained in a healthy fashion. This book is not preachy by any means and it breaks down the scientific reasons for the weight gain with a guide to follow to make sure the expectant mother is taking the proper balance for healthy gain. There is an abundance of recipes ranging from meal entrees to soups, salads and desserts that maximize on the correct balance to strike in order to insure a viable pregnancy. 
After reading Eating for Pregnancy, my first thought was: I wish this book was around when I had my second child. My first pregnancy was textbook in that I did ‘everything right’ and delivered a healthy baby girl. I got back to my ‘fighting weight’ in a mere couple of months and was ready to take on the world. My second pregnancy was a completely different experience. While I delivered another healthy baby girl, my food choices and weight gain were off the charts. I didn’t eat poorly. Rather, I ate a lot. With Eating for Pregnancy, there is scientific and nutritional information throughout the read that supports not only the importance of maintaining a diet that is just as important for mother as it is for the unborn child, but it educates the reader along the way. I especially enjoyed the abundance of recipes that contain wonderful ingredients and nutritional information as much as they strategically focus on what nutrition is vital during specific periods of the pregnancy. In my opinion, this book may be targeted to the importance of developing the healthiest baby possible, but I believe it also sets the tone and foundation of smart food choices and nutrition as a lifestyle beyond delivery. Well done! 
Quill says: Eating for Pregnancy is a fantastic, one-stop, nutritional guide for all expectant mothers that also lays the foundation for overall healthy nutrition beyond pregnancy.
For more information on Eating for Pregnancy, please visit the author's website at: www.catherinejonescookbooks.com

#BookReview - Ruth Ready: While You're Waiting on Your Boaz, you better be...

Ruth Ready: While you’re waiting on your Boaz, you better be...

By: Kitty Arceneaux
Publisher: Kitty Isaac-Arceneaux
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1075494741
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 2019
Ruth Ready is Kitty Arceneaux’s thought-provoking, faith-based book that focuses on what it takes to build a solid relationship between man and woman. 
Before settling into the meat of Ruth Ready, Ms. Arceneaux sets the tone with: ‘My intention is to help position you for a man that can guide you to a place worth going to, a man with focus, courage and determination.’ True to her words, Arceneaux explains her methodology in that she developed the content of her book by sourcing many single women. The ‘tag line’ to challenge her audience was for them to understand why they were ‘...waiting on my Boaz...’ From the onset, Arceneaux uses ‘Boaz’ (from the bible) as the premise of the guide women should seek in finding their soul mate—forever someone, life partner, etc. However, as the writing evolves, Arceneaux delves deeper into the concept and importance of not only adhering to a committed faith and belief in God, but to also ‘...take responsibility for anything in the relationship that went sideways...’ This is a skewed perception on what really attributes to the end of a relationship.
Ms. Arceneaux outlines her book in logical fashion in a step-by-step journey of chapters that build one upon the other; beginning with ‘Chapter One - Love is...’ She challenges her audience with laying out her own marriage that began in 2002 and the premise that she was faced with the daunting question of: ‘...I had to question if I was Ruth-Ready even though I never ever said I was waiting on my Boaz...’ She anchors the notion with the concept that many females get caught up in. We classify affections in the same category as love, but we don’t understand the true definition of love—often confused with lust or the physical attraction. Throughout the read, the audience will discover several opportunities to understand the importance of God as much as accountability and ownership of his/her contribution to the budding relationship—specifically the woman and whether (or not) she is ‘Ruth Ready.’
Ms. Arceneaux delivers a succinct and direct body of work in Ruth Ready. Just under 100 pages, it is packed with many opportunities for one to pause and reflect on his/her relationship. While the book focuses on the woman’s perspective in what it takes to ‘find her Boaz’ and be ‘Ruth Ready’ in a relationship, there are ample passages where a man could learn volumes from the premise as well. The writing flows and the book is laid out in a logical progression where one chapter sets the tone for the next to come. There are several vignettes toward the end of the book where Ms. Arceneaux shares accounts from real case studies and how their journey of ‘finding Boaz’ helped them along the way in their respective lives. Arceneaux is quite connected with her faith and often uses the importance of seeking the wisdom of God in fulfilling the richness of a complete and lasting relationship. The only area where this book often fell short was in the editing. There are numerous areas throughout the read where grammar and punctuation has been overlooked. I would caution Ms. Arceneaux to address this as it does take away from the overall read. Aside from that, this was an enjoyable and certainly, thought-provoking body of work.
Quill says: Ruth Ready is a great guide for those who are solid in their lasting relationship as much as those who are in search of the ‘perfect’ happily ever after.
For more information on Ruth Ready: While you're waiting on your Boaz, you better be...,please visit the author's website at: www.kittysbookshelf.com

#BookReview - Back Roads, Country Toads

Back Roads, Country Toads

By: Devin Scillian
Illustrated by: Tim Bowers
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-1534110397
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: October 2019 
Two friendly little hat-wearing, strawberry soda-drinking, country toads are at the center of this amusing little tale of adventure and misunderstanding. Hank and Buckaroo aren’t the smartest little hoppers, but they sure do know how to have a good time! When they overhear a conversation about some country folks going FLY-fishing, they know they have to sneak along and be part of the feast of flies. 
“Fly-fishing!” croaked Buckaroo. “It’s going to be the
greatest day of our lives!”
“Toadally,” agreed Hank.
Hank and Buckaroo hide themselves among a treat filled picnic basket, embark on a ride down Highway 41 in the back of a pick-up truck and end up in the woods near a fish-filled stream. When they run into their friend Emmitt the raccoon, they get a lesson on what fly-FISHing is really all about – and they are confused but not discouraged! To Hank and Buckaroo’s great delight, and not so much to Emmitt’s, they figure out a way to have a fly feast after all.
Illustrator Tim Bowers has crafted wonderful little creatures, with the focus of the drawings being on the animals rather than the people. His toads are full of personality and their facial expressions are priceless. He does especially funny and creative things with the toads’ tongues, which are sure to elicit giggles from young readers.
Quill says: Back Roads, Country Toads is cute and comical, sure to entertain readers of all ages. There’s something to be said about making lemonade out of lemons...or in this case, catching flies out of fly-fishing. 

#BookReview - Snow Globe Wishes

Snow Globe Wishes
by: Erin Dealey
Illustrated by: Claire Shorrock
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1534110311
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: October 17, 2019 
Author Erin Dealey has written a sweet, snowy story of making a magical wish on a simple, little snow globe. 
When a snow storm arrives, knocks out the power and keeps everyone indoors, a little girl and her family make the most of their precious time together. They unwind and relax with indoor picnics, soft candlelight and whimsical blanket forts. The adorable little girl makes her snow globe wish while her family sleeps. When morning comes, families, friends and neighbors venture out to play in a white-covered wonderland, and a wish for kindness and peace is imagined.
Claire Shorrock illustrates this delightful book with lots of snowflakes on the outdoor pages and all the warmth and coziness of home on the indoor pages. The muted colors have a very calming effect and her attention to detail is impeccable. The simple holiday trimmings are enough to conjure up all the heartfelt feelings of the Christmas spirit. 
Quill says: Snow Globe Wishes warms the heart and the soul with one little girl’s big wish for peace on earth. It’s a great story to read to the children around the Christmas season or any time of year when you want to be reminded of the true spirit of the holidays.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#AuthorInterview with Brit Lunden @britllunden

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Brit Lunden, author of The Devil and Dayna Dalton.
FQ: Dayna made a brief appearance in Bulwark.  What made you decide to explore her character more with a book of her own?
LUNDEN: I felt bad about Dayna. For a long time, I kicked around the idea that I had been unfair to her. When I decided to add to the anthology, I knew Dayna had to be the subject. Truthfully, I had no idea where the story was going to head. The characters usually push me in a direction.
FQ: Dayna discovers something very important about her relationship with Clay (not to be revealed here!).  Will she ever tell him what she learned?
LUNDEN: Yes. She realized she has a great friendship with him. Dayna has spent her life feeling alone. I think knowing the truth about her relationship with Clay will make her feel that she's not alone anymore.
FQ: Jenna vs. Dayna – in Bulwark, Jenna was a very likable person and Dayna was not. But in this story, the roles are reversed.  I found myself wishing Jenna would lighten up and be nice to Dayna. Was this intentional and will we ever see these two get along?
LUNDEN: Yes. It became part of the theme. Don't forget, perception is in the eyes of the beholder.
We tend to judge people based on their behavior, never thinking to examine why they do the things they do. Dayna was propelled by a bad relationship with her mother. She was needy for anybody to give her some positive attention. If we understand what drives peoples' personalities, a little sympathy and understanding go a long way. If a person is insecure, and you know the backstory, perhaps the way to treat them will make for a better outcome.
FQ: “Luck couldn’t find her if she dressed in neon and held up a sign.” Such a great line – do these lines just come to you as you write? Or do you think them up and then work them into the story?
LUNDEN: As I write them, I hear the characters. There is an edge of sarcasm to Dayna. I am never sarcastic, it's not my nature. I hear my characters loud and clear. Their voices ring in my head and I know just how they will react. Each one has an authentic voice.
FQ: Thelma Sweetpea’s role grows from an annoying neighbor to someone much more important to the story.  Will she get her own book in the future?  I’d love to learn more about her.
LUNDEN: I'm thinking she will have to finish her arc, but Trout really wants to address his story. I think he may be next.
FQ: The stories in this anthology have just enough supernatural elements to add a creepy and/or wow factor but not so much as to overpower the plot. How do you keep that balance?
LUNDEN: I want to keep it as real as possible. I love it when people close a book and say, could that be true or it just might happen. I love when the characters take on a life of their own, and people are not done with them. Many have asked Sheriff Clay Finnes to come back. I love hearing that.
FQ: Hellhounds or wolves?  What’s the difference?
LUNDEN: Werewolves are people that shapeshift into wolves. The hellhounds are monsters sent to do the bidding of bigger monsters. When I wrote Bulwark, I left hooks for authors to pull out stories. I didn't want to write about werewolves, so I left that plot for someone to pick up. I chose to use hellhounds because they are underused, and more servile to a bigger master.
FQ: What are your future plans for Bulwark, GA?  What new adventures await your fans?
LUNDEN: RL Jackson is working on something. I think she's continuing her story with vampires. I know Kay MacLeod, Eh Graham, DJ Cooper, and Brittney Leigh are working to add to the series. I think we will bring in some new authors as well. I definitely don't want to leave Bulwark. There are so many juicy subplots to explore.
FQ: You’ve written over 50 books in a broad range of genres.  Do you have a favorite genre to write? Do you find your pen flows easier in some genres, or that you have to think out a plot more in other genres?
LUNDEN: The fingers take on a life of their own on whatever subject I am working on. I just finished a book for kids about spies during the Second World War. I am taking a break to help publicize my son's book which came out on the same day. I won't start another story until the first line calls me and I sit down and just write.
FQ: Along the same lines, what advice would you give an author who would like to try writing outside their comfort zone and try a new, to them, genre?
LUNDEN: Don't be afraid of mixing things up. I never read horror, have never seen a scary movie, and yet here I am, writing frightening stories. I don't find what I write as scary, but the reviews have indicated that they are. I love stretching my imagination and seeing where it can go. The Devil and Dayna Dalton has elements of romance in it. That was challenging to see if I can write relatable romance. I love genre-jumping. I enjoy writing a non-fiction book as much as fiction. I like to finish, send it in for reviews. Getting a review is like opening a Christmas present. I cherish the words written because I learn from the comments. It also shows me my words have reached another person and affected them enough to share their thoughts and feelings about my work. It makes the world a kinder and more familiar place. It makes writing all the more worthwhile.