Friday, July 10, 2020

#BookReview - The Ten-Dollar Dream

The Ten-Dollar Dream: Live and Love Your Own Dream
By: Aksana Palevich
Publisher: Dansk bogfortegnelse - DBC
Publication: May 2020
ASIN: B0888JZGFW
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: July 9, 2020
Debut author Aksana Palevich presents The Ten-Dollar Dream, a book that is part autobiography and part inspirational self-help. Organized in forty-seven lessons and one bonus “eternal lesson,” the author takes readers on a figurative drive through her life. We follow Palevich as she grows up in former communist Belarus, and then moves to Denmark at the age of twenty-three with a mere ten dollars to her name. She may have had just ten dollars, but she had a mind filled with lifelong dreams and aspirations to better her life. Along the way Palevich tells her personal story of dreaming big, setting goals and most importantly accomplishing what she set out to do by sticking through rough times and continuing to challenge herself to be the best she can be.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of the numerous lessons covered in The Ten-Dollar Dream, some of the noteworthy points are as follows:
Dream big, set goals and stick to them
Believe in yourself, and hold on even in the toughest situations 
Educate yourself and view all employment as an opportunity to learn 
Stressful situations are unavoidable, but don’t overreact to them. 
Seize opportunities, don’t wait for them to be handed to you or fall from the sky
It’s okay to experience sorrow 
The Ten-Dollar Dream is undoubtedly an uplifting story of the author’s perseverance and dedication in her pursuit of a happy and fulfilled life, with lessons sprinkled throughout the chapters. Coming from a world of communism in Belarus where everyone is equal and told what to do, Palevich took a huge risk at a young age by moving to a foreign country both in language and in political ideologies. Readers will both enjoy and be inspired by the author’s stories of her struggles and achievements, while learning pertinent skills to achieve their own success. However, with forty-seven lessons, some about setting goals and employment pursuits, while others are about family, parenting and first love, readers may be somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of information squeezed into one book. Lessons also tend to be a bit wordy and are scattered throughout the book, not appearing in any specific order, which may add to a reader’s confusion. Fortunately, a list of abbreviated lessons are included at the end of the book, which is quite helpful, especially if you’re planning on frequently referring to it. But with that said, readers should take time to explore the personal story of one woman’s life and learn from her experiences and the most essential element - you can take many roads to accomplish your dreams and goals, but first and foremost, believe in yourself; you have the power to never give up, even during the most difficult times.
Quill says: Make it one of your goals today to read The Ten-Dollar Dream, a real-life story of successful perseverance and a motivational guide for everyone, all combined into one inspiring book.
For more information on The Ten-Dollar Dream: Live and Love Your Own Dream, please visit the Facebook page: facebook.com/The-Ten-Dollar-Dream or the Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/the-ten-dollar-dream

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Mushtaq Jaafri

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Mushtaq Jaafri, author of My Ego, My Soul, My God: Correcting the Perception of Separation from God.
FQ: When it comes to the current education system, can you offer information about your idea (and how it first came to you) in regards to how we could actually reduce time spent earning “book knowledge” by acquiring “spiritual knowledge”?
JAAFRI: Amy, this is a wonderful question and goes right back into the root cause of our problem of why our current educational system is failing us and how we could actually reduce time spent in our contemporary schools on the acquisition of “book-knowledge” only acquired through outside of us and not acquired through inside of us. 
I believe that you are talking about what I say on page 174 of this book about our new educational system that can reduce the time spent in schools to less than half simply by incorporating the “Triple-tiered” way of thinking. The ego in a specific “job,” the mind being an enemy and Soul is a divine part of God - and who we really are in reality.
FQ: You’ve written other titles in the past, such as, “How to Maintain the Presence of God in This Hectic World.” With all the darkness at this time, from riots to a pandemic, what are your ideas on how humanity can rise above this pain and create a better world?
JAAFRI: Amy, I believe that you have already given the best ideas in your book review on how humanity can rise above this pain and create a better world. Here is what you say: “Surrender your ego to God and live as your own wonderful Soul. Understand that nothing should separate us as a people. We are humans and each one of us makes up humanity.”
FQ: It is stated that you discovered this process of emotional and spiritual growth that this book describes over 40 years ago. Can you explain to readers what brought about this understanding? In addition, is that moment the point where you decided to become a Reverend/Doctor in order to help others?
JAAFRI: Amy, you have asked a question that is very dear to my own heart. Forty plus years ago, due to failure in a business venture in the Middle East I lost everything that was precious to me: my home, my belongings and my business. 
Down on my luck and no place to go to I began to wander around searching for myself and some answers that would make my own life bearable. I spent much time in local parks and in public library because they were warm and free.
Then, in the hour of my greatest distress, I discover my own-self, the God-self that revealed my life purpose. I earned my Doctoral Degree in Metaphysic and was guided to a Spiritual Master and received my ordained as minister and became an initiate to order to help others.
FQ: Have you returned to Pakistan since becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and acquired your education? Do you teach there and in the U.S.; or, perhaps, give conferences or hold meetings to share your beliefs with others?
JAAFRI: Yes, I did go to Pakistan after I acquired my education and got married. I believe that the teaching is more suitable for Western people because they are more open to new age thinking such as I share in my new book. For many years I gave seminars and lectures on Soul Awareness Seminars in my local community.
FQ: Earning a Master’s in Communication must be a difficult task. Is this particular choice something that truly helps you in your writing and with your clients? In addition, are you one who wishes that face-to-face communication would once again become predominant in this age of social media and technology?
JAAFRI: My Master’s in Communication was more toward Television Station Operations and was fun and entertaining. It was an easy task. Most of my writing came from inside through inspiration hunches and guidance that came from within.
FQ: How difficult is it to change a human’s way of thinking; or alter their perception that they learned from a very young age in order for them to live happier lives? Is there any time when you look at the headlines and feel that it is an impossible task?
JAAFRI: Amy, this is another excellent question you just asked. We can spend our time in spiritual pursuits instead of just reacting to the material world. Our ego does its best to keep you stuck in this world. We only turn to spiritually after an adversity, or illness or death of a loved one or failure in business. How sad it is.
FQ: Do you believe the political realm could be ‘cleaned up’ or balanced in a way that would stop having adverse effects on humanity?
JAAFRI: I do believe as long as the Ego is in charge of the political realm it will stay imbalance and continue to have adverse effects on humanity. Who do you think started this Corona Virus? 
After the election is over, there would be no fights between the egos of the world and everything will be balanced. Egos know that their time is up now. 
FQ: If you could change one thing on this earth right now, what would it be and why?
JAAFRI: Amy, I believe that you have answered this question most eloquently in your book review already. Here is what you say:
“In these times that we are living, it is especially important to understand that nothing should separate us as a people. We are human and each one of us makes humanity.”
If I could change one thing on earth right now, it would be to somehow vanish the Corona virus pandemic—and the reason why is that I believe that God had nothing to do with it. 
As I mentioned in the book, that God had nothing to do with it. I believe that it was initiated by the world’ egos—to discredit the existence of God on earth by blaming God for starting it to punish us for some things we did to disobey Him.
Sure, we have advanced enormously technologically, but as race we are doing the same destructive things that were reported in the Bible thousands of years ago. Our thinking that we have all the time in the world prevents us from maturing.
Finally, I believe that the most profound Book Review is God-sent message to me that my own 40+ years of writing about His messages, wasn’t waste of time but to fulfill my own spiritual promise here on earth, for which I thank you.
So, in a way, you were doing the work God created you to do here on earth. God says: that it take one to know one. You certainly proved it. Perhaps, it time for humanity find a different way of looking at spirituality. 
Perhaps, we will now know why our contemporary educational system in world is failing us. Perhaps, our primary focus of our educational system on earth will not be the acquisition of knowledge from books—instead from inner knowledge within us—and is free!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

#BookReview - My Ego, My Soul, My God

My Ego, My Soul, My God: Correcting the Perception of Separation from God
By: Rev. Dr. Mushtaq Jaafri
Publisher: Mushtaq Publishing Company
Publication Date: May 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9845-7761-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 6, 2020
There are so many passages and lessons in this book that hit you like a brick, sometimes it becomes almost difficult to move on to the next chapter. This is not a negative; this is a purely positive statement. This is one author who knows how to make a point that you actually want to think about and mull over before moving on to the next chapter of wisdom he presents. 
A great many people (myself, included) hear the word “ego” and automatically view it as a bad thing. Egotistical, simply put, is defined as being “extremely conceited,” which is a description that doesn’t exactly bring warmth to one’s heart. But this book actually shows the ego in a specific “job” and how it works within this author’s triple-tiered way of thinking. He teaches a plan that allows you to make sense of your life and better understand the paths you’ve taken; how you can surrender your ego to God; and how to live as your own wonderful soul. Is there a way to even find a balance of happiness, true love, and safety and security in your own skin and the world, itself? The answer is: yes. But only if you read and really think about this book and what it teaches. 
This is aimed at no specific religion, either. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, this author helps you make sense of the fact that the messages from God reach everyone – and they’re supposed to. In these times that we’re living in, it’s especially important to understand that nothing should separate us as a people. We are humans and each one of us makes up humanity. And this book not only makes sense, but the author is quite personal about his own life lessons and messages received that will allow all of us to get the facts and learn how to face conflict and struggle and overcome it in order to live a better, safer, happier life.
There are too many chapters and poignant ideas to talk about when it comes to this material, so I will mention just a couple. In one, we discuss the story of the serpent and how it lets Satan (AKA: ‘Ego’) into the Garden of Eden. This subject allows us to analyze, appreciate and grasp the story of Adam and Eve and how it applies to free will, God’s love, and our own decisions. Another section that strikes home is learning how to face the enemy inside of you and talks about how stubbornness can be transformed into sheer determination to ascend to happiness instead of descending into the depths of anger and depression. 
This is one of those very few inspirational books where the term “the truth can set you free” really applies. So, it is my suggestion that no matter what you may believe (whether you’re religious or not), you should read this book. Not only will you receive facts, but you’ll come away with the ability to not judge and/or chastise yourself and others. Anything is confusing until we know more about it, and this presentation is a true education that everyone should have.
Quill says: An entertaining, truthful book that allows all of us to better comprehend life. 
For more information on My Ego, My Soul, My God: Correcting the Perception of Separation from God, please visit the author's website at: www.godconnectionstory.com

Monday, July 6, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Ruth Finnegan

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Ruth Finnegan, author of Voyage of Pearl of the Seas
FQ: What do you hope children, or readers of all ages, will learn from reading your book?
FINNEGAN: To love dogs and friends, and adventure beyond what you dare, and that God has many ways, many names (and no name too - he just is there).
FQ: I noticed that you have a few creative writing publications under the pseudonym Catherine Farrar (as well as pseudonyms in other genres). What made you decide to write under a different name?
FINNEGAN: Well you’ll maybe find it hard to believe but the truth is that when I was first somehow induced to write fiction, I felt that ‘Ruth Finnegan’ was associated with academic stuff so that it might be misleading if I kept to the same name. But more important - this is the strange but true - that I in some way had inherited the responsibility to dream of a little Catherine, my mother’s sister (but somehow my sister too, very close) who, before she was seven, died of scarlet fever (it wouldn’t happen now, would it). She was too young to have dreams, if rather too young to tell them or to write them down. So I knew I had to do them for her. Her name, ‘Catherine, has been a constant, even magical, one,through generations of my maternal life (hence the Kate in my stories) and Farrar was her mother’s maiden name.
So in another way I feel I was also writing for my family.
Now that her stories (stories, not full length novels) are out in the world I want to resume my own person, as a, by now, both fiction and nonfiction writer, why not!
FQ: I really enjoyed the illustrations designed by Rachel Backshall sprinkled throughout the book, especially the one in chapter ten depicting various animals in a large tree. I’m always impressed by great illustrators who can enhance a story’s plot with their designs. As an author, do you find it difficult to align your thoughts and writings with the perfect artist?
FINNEGAN: Luck! Like so many things it just happened. I met Rachel, then a final year undergraduate, at a Somerville College jamboree in Oxford, and we just clicked. Like me she studied classics and loves animals (as you noticed) and, again like me, adores her family, so we’re always on the same wavelength. We’re working on a magical Kate-Pearl series (of which this book is one), maybe as they come out we’ll send you them for reviewing. Here they are: Oh Kate!, a board book (coming soon), The Magic Adventure: Kris and Kate build a boat, a picture book (already published),  Kris and Kate's Next Adventure: The Magic Pearl-Maran, a picture story book, The Enchanted Pearl-Away, a chapter book, Pearl of the Seas, a fairytale prequel to The Black Inked Pearl ( published), (later books in the series, starting with Black Inked Pearl don’t have illustrations, they’re just words - well to my mind SOUNDS: audio versions of them could be coming soon)
FQ: You have had quite an extensive writing career. Do you enjoy writing fiction or nonfiction, and which of your books is your favorite?
FINNEGAN: Um, usually whichever is the most recent. I’m so surprised that after a lifetime of writing nonfiction books (continuing) I seem to have tumbled into creative writing, and I love it, so in a way all if that - still a surprise to me, awesome - is my favorite. I do so love learning new things (don’t you?) to build on the old... So yes, whatever I’m doing this minute (just now it’s a retelling with a deeper message of the mythic incredible story of Orpheus and his lyre. Most tragic ever, and yet, and yet...I can’t decide if it’s a novel or a screenplay, which I suppose means it’s going to be both).
Like the other fiction, it begins with dreams...Otherwise, not sure.
No, I do know: Of non fiction The Hidden Musicians because it’s about real people and about music, greatest of the human arts, and has inspired others to SEE, and do similar research on, the music being created all around them; but even more Why Do We Quote? because it brings together all my interests and skills and is at first sight such an unlikely but, in the end, deep and pervading subject. 
Fiction? Again not sure but probably The Helix Pearl, a companion to the other novels, Voyage of Pearl of the Seas (this one); and The Black Inked Pearl. It’s in the same kind of literary, allusive style, was equally born in dreams, and tells essentially the same mythic tale but this time from the perspective of ‘the wine dark [Homer’s epithet] garrulous sea’ - a new light on the story which was a surprise to me too. If you enjoyed Voyage of Pearl of the Seas, you’ll like that one too.
FQ: Why did you decide to write a prequel to your original novel, Black Inked Pearl, but mainly write it for a younger audience?
FINNEGAN: It wasn’t really planned. Like my other fiction the story and the words it was clothed in just ‘arrived,’ and at the time I was thinking of young adults, maybe encouraged by my teenage grandchildren who - it’s the greatest honour - sometimes share their reading with me.
FQ: I see that you've been interviewed many times. What is the one thing you wish someone would ask you, or something you're just dying to tell readers, and have never had a chance to?
FINNEGAN: First - Why on earth did I put the Notes at the end (several reviewers say they’d have liked them at the start)? Because though one of the books aims, as you detected, was to bring readers, specially young readers, into some awareness of the great riches of literature, I wanted this to be subtle, emerging, NOT up front. The last thing I wanted was for it to seem a text-book kind of thing.
And - am I allowed a second question? If yes: When will it be made into a film?! It would be super, Narnia-like. Oh when when when - you tell me. I need a magic offer for the script - already there - to turn this enchanted log lying in the sand into a boat that sails the world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

#BookReview - Oliver Doodle Dandy

Oliver Doodle Dandy
By: Todd M. Zimmermann
Illustrated by: Kyle Hernandez
Publisher: Oliver and Friends, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-0986341663
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: July 2020
The Fourth of July is just around the corner and Mom and Dad are busy getting the red, white, and blue decorations out. Henry and Holly, however, just don't seem interested. They'd rather play on their "devices." Will they be able to get into the spirit of the holiday?
When Mom asks the kids to go to the attic to get the flags they need for decorating, Henry and Holly don't immediately jump into action. Instead, they want a few more minutes to play. Meanwhile, up in the attic, Oliver and the other ornaments are preparing a celebration of their own. By the time Henry and Holly make their way to the attic, the ornaments are already marching and playing patriotic music. Both kids are mesmerized by the festivities. 
When Oliver, the ornament at the center of the story, is asked by Holly why they are making such a big deal out of the Fourth of July, it's time for Oliver to jump into action with a little history lesson. Oliver tells the kids about some of America's great leaders, famous people who made a difference, and describes some of the amazing beauty of the country. Will Oliver's little history lesson be enough to get the kids excited about the Fourth of July?
It's nice to read a book about patriotism aimed at children during these trying times. When it seems like every other news story is about problems with our country, it's important, especially for children, to be reminded of what a truly remarkable place the United States is and that the American Dream is still possible. At the end of the book are the lyrics to eight popular patriotic songs as well as a two-page spread where the reader is encouraged to write down "What I Love About America." The illustrations are bright, and yes, use red, white, and blue as a frequent color scheme throughout. While the story is a bit long, and younger children may lose interest, the points the book makes are important. Many of the historical events the ornaments describe each get a very brief mention (many just a short sentence) and while that works for some events, several will be hard for any child to understand ('"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," Oliver concluded with the words of Ronald Reagan.'). In addition, a few presidents are referenced just by their initials (FDR, JFK) which means either parents will have some explaining to do, or children will need to do their own research for a better understanding. In contrast, other important elements, such as religious freedom, get just the right amount of text to allow young readers to grasp the meaning. Overall, this is a nice book that will introduce children to the remarkable freedoms and opportunities our country has to offer and would be a good starting point for curious children to begin a project researching the history of the United States.
Quill says: While the book has some minor flaws, Oliver Doodle Dandy is a good story to introduce children to what an amazing country the United States of America truly is, and the fantastic opportunities it has to offer everyone

Friday, June 26, 2020

#BookReview - Voyage of Pearl of the Seas

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas
By: Ruth Finnegan
Publisher: Balestier Press
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-1911221241
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: June 24, 2020
At first glance, Voyage of Pearl of the Seas, written by accomplished British author Ruth Finnegan, appears to be a simple children’s short story about a boy, a girl, a dog, and a boat they built from a log. However, readers will quickly discover that this story is so much more, as they embark upon a marvelous adventure that is part fantasy and part parable, all interconnected by a mix of intense poetry and prose.
Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is a prequel to the adult novel, Black Inked Pearl, however, it was written a few years after the original novel, and targeted primarily for older children. Friends Kate and Chris, and Kate’s little dog Holly, happily spend their time at the seashore frolicking in the sand and water until, one day, Chris discovers a piece of driftwood in the sand and manages to convince Kate it could be made into a boat. So together they spend what seems like forever building the piece of wood into an impressive ship with masts and sails and, after a bit of arguing, they agree upon naming her 'Pearl of the Seas.' Around the world they go, as they bravely sail along, running into disaster and coming across beings, both magical and royal. The magical challenge Kate with riddles, encouraging her along the way, while the royals tell magnificent tales of a time when all animals understood each other's languages. In the end, after what seems like a year and a day, something truly extraordinary occurs between the children, all in time for their evening tea. 
While the message being conveyed in Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is one of friendship, adventure and perseverance, there is a critical issue to be noted in this book. It is not a typical children’s or young adult book. If you’re looking for an easy read, look elsewhere. While the overall plot is a fantasy-based story, brimming at times with vivid descriptions making the reader feel as if they’re on the ship riding next to the children, the wording is also intense and requires quite a bit of concentration to fully comprehend. The author reports that this is partially inspired by such notable authors as Homer and Wlliam Blake, but sadly in this era that relies heavily upon video and technology, many children (and some adults!) have not been exposed to such writing which may lead to some reading frustrations. Of course reading of all authors, genres and writing styles should be strongly encouraged for all ages, and this book may be the gateway to getting someone interested in expanding their reading horizons. The author does however include a “Notes” section at the back of the book that corresponds to a few specific chapters explaining some of the references to other notable works, which was a bit helpful, but would have been appreciated more by this reader had it been located at the front of the book. However, armed with the aforementioned knowledge, readers are encouraged to give Voyage of Pearl of the Seasa chance by sailing through some possibly rough reading waters, and landing on a great tale with a heartwarming ending. 
Quill says: Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an epic sailing adventure that is sure to delight seasoned readers of all ages.
For more information on Pear of the Seas, please visit the author's website at: www.ruthhfinnegan.com

Monday, June 22, 2020

#BookReview - The Rising Place

The Rising Place

By: David Armstrong
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Publication: April 2020
ISBN: 978-1509230655
Reviewed by: J.M. LeDuc
Review Date: June 19, 2020
David Armstrong has written a riveting novel that was as true in the very beginning of the civil-rights movement as it is today.
Based in the deep south, David tells us a story through a box of letters found after the writer of the letters, Emily Hodge, has passed away. I have to be honest, when I began reading The Rising Place, I was skeptical that a book written in this style would be able to hold my interest, but I was wrong. The emotion and the power of the letters written by the central character pull the reader into the story in a way I have not experienced before.
The Rising Place tells a story about a young woman who has been brought up in a town steeped in southern culture. A place where blacks and whites are far from equal and do not intermingle except when the blacks work for the whites. 
Emily Hodge falls in love with a young man and is carrying his child when he goes off to war. As bad as the stigma of being single and pregnant was in 1941, it is extrapolated by the fact that her suitor is 1/8 black. At that time and place, that makes him black. Period. Once this knowledge gets out, Emily is ostracized by her community, and all the people she thought were her friends turn on her. The only person who stays by her side is her black friend, Wilma. The Rising Place deftly tells of life before and at the very beginning of the civil-rights movement as well as the beginning of organizations such as the KKK.
Through Emily’s letters we gain a better understanding of racial divide, whether it be in the 1940’s or today. We also gain an incredible perspective on what it is like to keep your moral and ethical standards when everyone around you is telling you different. But most of all, we learn how important it is to be “color blind” and to love people because of their spirit and not because of the color of their skin.
Quill says: I highly recommend The Rising Place to all readers regardless which genres you enjoy. David Armstrong has cut through all genres with this amazing story. It is a thriller, a romance, a literary novel, and so much more. If it were up to me, The Rising Place would be required reading in all schools.