Sunday, October 24, 2021

#BookReview - The Power of Kindness by Ruth Maille


The Power of Kindness: Through the Eyes of Children
By: Ruth Maille
Illustrated by: Pencil Master Studio
Publisher: Orbit Publishing
Publication Date: September 2021
ISBN: 978-1955299022
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 23, 2021
Coming off the success of her debut book, The Power of Positivity, author Ruth Maille offers young readers another book full of positive messages in The Power of Kindness.
The story opens with Orbit, a character we met in Maille’s first book. Orbit is "...a fun-loving Planet Earth whose purpose is to spread kindness...” (from The Power of Positivity) This time around, Orbit is a teacher, and still intent to spread kindness wherever, and whenever, he can.
Orbit arrives at a kindergarten class where he meets an enthusiastic group of children. He asks the students, “What is kindness?” and the hands fly up in the air. Children shout their answers, and they range from it’s “...a form of love” to it’s “…filling someone’s heart so they can feel happiness.” Orbit encourages the children by telling them that they are all correct and he explains further that kindness begins with a choice.
With the full attention of every student, Orbit tells them how anyone can choose to be kind. That comment catches young Dominic’s attention because he admits that making a choice can be hard. To help Dominic, Orbit suggests a simple breathing exercise and carefully explains how it’s done.
When Orbit then asks the kindergarten class where they’ve seen kindness, the responses came quick and enthusiastically. From helping a grandparent to rescuing a dog, the children come up with wonderful ideas of how to be kind. And those suggestions are sure to give young readers lots of great ideas as they keep turning the pages.
Author Ruth Maille has struck gold with her new “Power of” series for children. I read/reviewed her first book, The Power of Positivity, and found it a great way to help children understand and get through the pandemic. Now, with her second book, she shows children how to spread kindness, something we could really use more of right now. In her Introduction, the author notes that the idea for the book came when she asked children in her daycare and preschool “…where they felt kindness in their lives.” As children often do, they came up with some creative examples, and The Power of Kindness was born. But this book doesn’t just have a nice message, it’s also beautifully designed. The illustrations by Pencil Master Studio are gorgeous and a perfect match to the story, but that’s not all. The paper is a thick, high-gloss paper, the type that isn’t often used because of the expense. Finally, the cover is embossed and just beautiful. It’s obvious that these books are a labor of love for the author and readers are the lucky recipients. Kudos to the author for this lovely book and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Quill says: The Power of Kindness is a fantastic way to help children understand the awesome power they have to spread kindness and truly make the world a better place.
To learn more about The Power of Kindness: Through the Eyes of Children, please visit the author’s website at www.ruthmaille-author.com

Saturday, October 23, 2021

#BookReview - Grounded Eagles: Three Tales of the RAF in WWII


Grounded Eagles: Three Tales of the RAF in WWII
By: Helena P. Schrader
Publisher: Cross Seas Press
Publication Date: October 2021
ASIN: B09HJ99VSR
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: October 22, 2021
Three intriguingly intertwined stories by aviation expert and award-winning author Helene P. Schrader focus on the experiences of wartime pilots in the sky and on the ground, coping with trauma, disability, and the possibilities for new challenges.
Each story reads like, and could be deemed, a novella, so much background and apparent zeal does the author provide for her characters and their complex situations. "A Stranger in the Mirror" is David Goldman, whose horrific crash has left him with burns on the face that make him unrecognizable even to himself, and a crippled hand that may prevent him from ever flying again. Raised by a cold, distant father of Jewish heritage and a mother who cared but could not reach out to her children as she should have, the boy had an ambition to fly from childhood. Born in Germany and schooled in Switzerland, Goldman finally has a chance to volunteer for the RAF from Canada, at the outbreak of war. But when his plane is downed, he awakes in a hospital where a pretty young nurse gasps in horror at the sight of him. He will slowly recover with the help of an adopted family who also need his help, and learn to accept his new capabilities.
"A Rose in November" depicts a romance between two people who are older but not necessarily wiser. Rhys Jenkins, a widower struggling with fathering two teenagers and handling a new job and sudden transfer for the RAF, will need to examine his past mistakes and look to the future. He will have the quiet but affirming support of a woman who finds in Jenkins a possible soulmate. When he discovers an unpleasant truth about her, he acts in haste, with potentially disastrous consequences.
In "Lack of Moral Fibre," Schrader explores the tangled web of post-traumatic stress as earlier defined by military thinkers and dictated by those in power. Kit Moran is being analyzed for his LMF, the official term at the time, after expressing unwillingness to take to the sky again following a disastrous incident that has shaken his confidence. Like other characters in Schrader’s pantheon, Kit will need to find and boldly express himself.
Schrader’s expertise in subject matter she has chosen is evident on every page of the three tales she has created. A previous novel, Where Eagles Never Flew, garnered several prestigious awards. In this trilogy, she has tapped some of the characters from that work, a few of which were real people, with some action based on true incidents of war. She supplies historical background for each segment, and a lengthy glossary of aviation terminology and some common slang reflecting the era and culture in which the stories are based. Her readership will doubtless welcome this new foray into the nuts, bolts and bolts-from-the-blue realm of wartime airmen and will gladly anticipate another novel promised soon.
Quill says: With credentials and genuine enthusiasm for the daily professional and personal challenges faced by men who choose to make war in the skies, Schrader has constructed a trio of powerful tales expressing a myriad of viewpoints - male, female, young, old – with rich historical detail to underpin and enrich each offering.

#BookReview - Dangerous Freedom by William Dean


Dangerous Freedom
By: William Dean
Publisher: Lonely Whale Press
Publication Date: August 2021
ISBN: 978-1737345206
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: October 22, 2021
Once a serial robber on the FBI's Most Wanted list, Wallace "Bud" Baker spent half of his life in the Idaho State Penitentiary, and wasn't very surprised when he was recently denied parole once again. He openly admitted that, despite avoiding fights and generally keeping to himself in prison over the years, nothing dramatic changed. Except for the fact that, in more recent years, he found himself becoming a prison hero of sorts by studying law books for countless hours, and successfully bringing about much needed reform in the Idaho prison system. But unfortunately this wasn't enough of a positive transformation for a release from his life sentence. So it came as a major shock when, not too long after the parole denial, Bud was awoken in the middle of the night, given a bus ticket and fifty dollars, and was told that the governor gave orders for his immediate release. The catch? Bud was to take the bus to the Oregon coast, and from there he could go anywhere, just never back to Idaho, and he would never involve himself in any further lawsuits between the state of Idaho, or their prison system, otherwise he would risk being taken back into custody with no possibility of parole. He of course agreed, nobody would ever forgo their chance at freedom, but how was he going to survive in the real world with no money or job training because he spent over two decades of his life incarcerated?
Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against him, Bud arrives in the quiet town of Astoria, Oregon, and immediately begins setting up a new life for himself. His ultimate goal is to work and save enough money so he can return to a cabin that’s been waiting for his arrival in Alaska, near an area he fondly remembers from childhood, and quietly live out the rest of his life. However, Bud’s plans begin to change when he falls in love with a local woman who played a part in helping him get on his feet. Everything seems to be going well with his future, and their relationship, until one day his girlfriend asks him the ultimate question. Will Bud help her sister get her baby back, who was stolen from her a few months earlier while she was in the hospital. Will he break the law and risk his freedom, and a chance at living his dream life in Alaska, in order to right a wrong that happened to someone he barely knows?
William Dean, a former investigative journalist turned fiction author, writes a solid and enjoyable tale of suspense in his new novel, Dangerous Freedom. Along with the author's ability to vividly, but succinctly, describe the book’s settings, readers will find themselves quickly devouring the pages to find out what will happen next in this story, as the tension builds around the characters and the plot quickly unfolds. More than just a fictional story, Dangerous Freedom also provides readers with the ultimate food for thought that will linger in your mind well after finishing the novel - is breaking the law by kidnapping a baby from his adoptive parents justified, because in the end you’re doing the right thing by returning the child to his biological mother?
Quill says: Pick up a copy of Dangerous Freedom by author William Dean for a page-turning suspenseful read that will keep you thinking about the story well after you’ve finished reading.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Meet the Author!




Meet author Tamel Wino who has a love for the horror short story genre. Check out his new author biography.




#AuthorInterview with Tamel Wino, author of Ekleipsis: The Abyss


Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kimberly Trix Lee is talking with Tamel Wino, author of Ékleipsis: The Abyss.
FQ: Ékleipsis: The Abyss is your second short story collection. Why did you decide to write a collection of short stories instead of one longer horror novel?
WINO: I have always been partial to short stories. In my opinion, in a story, what's undisclosed is just as important as what's revealed. In this regard, short stories are more malleable. Following the footsteps of some of my literary ideals (Poe, Roald Dahl, Shirley Jackson, among others), I find crafting short fiction to be challenging yet exhilarating and gratifying.
FQ: A majority of the stories in this collection were written from a first person perspective. How do you choose the POV in which to write a specific story?
WINO: Personally, I much prefer the first person. For horror stories, there's nothing more horrifying than to unfold and experience the madness and the vileness firsthand. However, I try to make the stories as varied as possible. Thus, I usually pick two stories (out of a collection) to be written in different POV.
FQ: I’ve always loved reading horror (and also watching horror). When I was young, it was about zombies and ghosts and monsters and giant bugs. As an adult, I now know that humans are way more horrifying than any creature. With your focus on morality and darkness of human nature in your stories, what would you say is the thing that scares you the most about yourself?
WINO: The human mind is an incredible, complex thing. It's undecipherable, unpredictable. Most people would label themselves as nice, normal. What scares me the most of myself is not knowing/being certain of how I would react, the length I would go to, in an extreme situation. When you have to preserve your dignity. When you're backed into the deepest corner. When you have to protect your loved ones. When your life's on the line.
FQ: Ékleipsis is a Greek word where “eclipse” originated from but literally it means abandonment. Tell us more about why you specifically chose this title for your short story collection.
WINO: I wanted a title that evokes intrigue and embodies my stories well. The fact that it's an ancient Greek word adds another layer of meaning to my books. That the stories are essentially about something that's been around since the dawn of time, since the birth of modern civilization. Something that everyone has, a part of us, lurking beneath. The nuance I strived to convey is the darkening of the soul / the abandonment of humanity.
FQ: In “En Prise,” after Ash laid out her terrible backstory to the serial killer, he made her get out of the truck (and by extension, she’s no longer potential prey). I wonder, was that because at that point he truly believed that they’re kindred souls in this serial killing business? Tell us about what Ty was thinking in those moments.
WINO: As I mentioned in the first question, in a story, what's undisclosed is just as important as what's revealed. Frankly, I don't have the right answer. There is no right answer. I want the readers to ponder and let their minds arrive at their own conclusion(s). Personally, I think it wasn't out of pity or camaraderie. Can't imagine Ty being capable of all that. He might not even buy her story, not entirely at the very least. I'd like to think that there was just the tiniest seed of doubt that Ash managed to plant in the back of his mind. He's a wolf, he hunts and exploits sheep. In his mind, Ash might very well be a sheep but she's cladding a wolf's clothing pretty convincingly.
FQ: I found that “Blue Devils” was the only story in the collection that did not have the same atmosphere, tone, and mood as with the other stories. Was that intentional?

WINO: If you meant that the story is more bleak and has more of an air of hopelessness, then yes. It is a horrific story but I wanted it also to be a story of redemption, provided she survives the adversity. To be able to do that, I portrayed the world, through her eyes, as desolate and irremediable.
FQ: The concept of how a savior complex could be a start of a horrifying descent to villainy madness in “The Descent” is interesting. What was the inspiration for this?
WINO: As strange as it may seem, I got the inspiration from the movie Sully. Turned it inside out and incorporated a healthy dose of insanity and malice.
FQ: I cannot remember which horror author it was but I remember reading about how that author would go up in the attic and turn off all the lights whenever he had writer’s block. What about you? Do you do something specific to get out of a writer’s block?
WINO: That is very interesting. No, nothing too bizarre for me. Walks in the park, biking, reading books and watching movies of similar vibe as my stories.

#BookReview - Ékleipsis: The Abyss


Ékleipsis: The Abyss
By: Tamel Wino
Publication Date: October 2021
ASIN: B08LR1PCJH
Reviewed by: Kimberly Trix Lee
Review Date: October 19, 2021
Ékleipsis: The Abyss is a collection of six short stories about different people in different situations with different issues but all centered around a thematic focus of human nature. Three stories stuck out the most for me.
In “No Place Like Home,” Jordan, his vlogger wife Rebecca, and their two kids were living a picture-perfect family life until, one day, Jordan came home to find an unknown woman who claims to have been sent by his wife to their house to cook dinner for them. This woman had keys to their house, the passkey to their security system, and she even knew her way around their kitchen with suspicious ease. She even knew about Jordan and Rebecca’s gift-giving tradition. With his wife’s whereabouts still unknown and this strange woman acting like she was family, Jordan needed to figure out how to deal with things, fast.
“En Prise” is told from the perspective of Ash, a guitarist who just ended a two-year-long relationship with her alcoholic now-ex-boyfriend. She drove half a day to see her mother, and after a good long cry and a warm cup of tea, Ash decided to take up the offer of a musician friend to share an apartment and be introduced to potential gigs. With her backpack and her guitar, Ash set out to hitchhike. She first rode with a kind lady who warned her about a possible serial killer on the loose before dropping her off but Ash had no space for fear in her heart. Trying to find her next ride, she came across a man playing chess against himself and eventually secured a spot in this man’s truck to get her to the next city. As they drove, her amusement at the man’s social ineptitude gave way to disgruntlement and eventually to suspicion and fear. Ash decided that, if this man were a predator, the best thing to do is for him to think that she was a predator too.
“The Descent” is about a hedonistic pilot, Chris, who was adrift and aimless in his life up until he saved an old woman and a dog from being crushed by a subway train in the nick of time. He was heralded as a hero. Chris then started changing his life for the better but the itch to feel that same high that he had felt during that heart-stopping rescue was ever present. Still chasing that high but unable to grasp it, Chris started drinking and was in a downward spiral once again. He eventually revealed to a friend that he once tried skydiving to chase the same high and got banned because he delayed pulling the parachute. His friend then told him that perhaps it wasn’t the adrenaline rush that Chris was chasing after but rather the feeling of doing something heroic. Armed with this revelation, Chris went to work.
Ékleipsis: The Abyss by Tamel Wino is a collection of short stories that focus on psychological horror. The title itself is a Greek word that means abandonment, which I think correlates with how the collection attempted to explore the darkness of human nature and the abandonment of what is rational in the face of the irrational. The stories were all predictable but this is not really a criticism because I’ve always thought that good horror is less about the unpredictability of the outcome and more about the effectiveness of the storytelling. Although I’d say that all of the stories in this collection started strong, I found that they fizzled out in the middle; in some more than the others. For some of the stories, suspension of disbelief with respect to the characters’ reactions was something that I did not find easy. If it was intentional, to show how irrational people could act, I think the execution could have been better. In one specific story, the abrupt change in the main character’s conviction was disorientating, especially since it was written from a first person point of view, hence I found the narrative quite unconvincing. However, one story that I particularly enjoyed was “En Prise” with how it explored the concept of how when a sheep meets a wolf, all the sheep could do was to pretend to also be a wolf in order to survive.
Quill says: Ékleipsis: The Abyss is a psychological horror short story collection that’s easy to read and predictable but explores promising concepts about the human psyche.
For more information on Ékleipsis: The Abyss, please visit the book's website at: https://www.Ekleipsis.ca

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

#BookReview - Divine Sparks: Interfaith Wisdom for a Postmodern World

Divine Sparks: Interfaith Wisdom for a Postmodern World

By: Starr Regan DiCiurcio
Publisher: DartFrog Books
Publication Date: October 2021
ISBN: 978-1-953910-94-3
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: August 3, 2021
Spiritual awareness is a gift that all of us possess and can cultivate and enhance, according to author and minister Starr Regan DiCiurcio.
According to the author, we are all a rich combination of qualities and characteristics imbued from three sources: our DNA, or blood ancestry; our spiritual ancestors – those who influence our thinking and feeling about higher realities; and our land ancestors – those who occupied the earth before us.
Moving back from this overview, DiCiurcio makes practical suggestions. Deep looking and deep listening may be needed to begin to grasp the inner realities that infuse the outer world we occupy. Meditation or mindfulness, induced through thought and posture, joined with mantras – certain words or phrases that can be repeated as part of the practice – and even greater awareness of the simple act of breathing – all can help us in our search for expanded consciousness. Through such habits, along with attachment to a spiritual community, creative expressions and the occasional retreat into solitude, we will gradually find ourselves experiencing connectedness with others, which can lead to the wish and ability to accept, forgive and join in a collective effort to improve what the author sees as a slowly decaying planet. In her chapter “Saving Mother Earth,” DiCiurcio urges readers to learn from our ancestors such as Native Americans and the ancient Celts, peoples who honored the natural world without heavily intruding upon it. We can do so in a myriad of ways today, expressing as we do so our sense of what Thich Naht Hahn called “interbeing.”
DiCiurcio is an “interfaith minister,” meaning she explores and shares the truths inherent in all great spiritual traditions. She has made a particular study of the work of Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese priest, Buddhist monk and peace activist. She has constructed her gentle guide with “Questions for Reflection” and “Creative Stretch” at the end of each chapter, and has appended a lengthy section containing “Prayers and Meditations” focused on such significant matters as the seasons, death, birth and healing. True to her interfaith calling, she offers prayers and practices from all the world’s great religions without bias toward or against any particular spiritual path. This openness, continually expressed in numerous creative, intelligent examples, makes her work a useable, accessible guide for all ardent seekers after truth and peace.
Quill says: DiCiurcio’s Divine Sparks holds out the promise of illuminating our lives through personal meditation techniques and contemplation of spiritual truths provided in a format both poetic and pragmatic.