Monday, May 23, 2016

#BookReview - General Houstons Little Spy @caraskinner


General Houston's Little Spy

By: Cara Skinner
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-68028-436-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 24, 2016

The Texas Revolution is one of those periods in American history that is sometimes overlooked in the classroom. Fortunately, author Cara Skinner has brought this time to life in an exciting way. From the very real characters that made up the state of Texas during the wave of massive battles and frightening moments; to the endless terrain decorated with nothing but scattered cactus and cattle, this author has not only brought this amazing era to life, but has also put together a fictional tale of courage, hope and mystery-with a dash of spies mixed in for good suspense.

Samantha Russell is our main character. A wonderful girl, she isn't a willful child or a "bad egg." She is a simple, kind girl who thinks only of her fiancĂ© and the future they're going to have together. Born in a small community near the Nolichucky River in eastern Tennessee, Samantha lives on a farm with her parents and four siblings. Just five miles south lives Danny Autry. Their early days together were basically spent growing up. Definition? He knocked her down and pulled on her pigtails until she grew up and he realized that she was the girl he loved.

What the couple must do, however, is exit Tennessee in the middle of the night because her parents are opposed to their tying the knot when Samantha is only fourteen. Leaving behind a note, she and Danny end up in the great state of Texas just as political issues begin to take shape. The battle between Texas settlers and the Mexican dictator Santa Anna is stirring, and when the famous fight at the Alamo occurs, Samantha is handed the most heartbreaking loss of her life. With the Alamo's fall and Sam's devastation, her path leads her to be a spy in order to serve justice on the evil man who has taken the future she so wanted away from her.

"Watching" the Mexican Army, "seeing" Burnham's Ferry burn on the Colorado River, "feeling" the anger and the passion of an army wanting nothing more than to destroy Santa Anna and all he stands for, while learning about the Texian Army and what General Houston might have said to change the future of America so that tyrants could never again tread upon U.S. soil - each and every chapter delivers these gems and many more. Drawing the reader in and keeping them riveted until Samantha's final fight, this tale of war, suspense and heartache is a perfect 'square' to add to the American 'quilt' of courage.

Quill Says: Great for many age groups, this book proves that history can come alive if delivered by a writer who knows her subject and loves to research.

For more information on General Houston's Little Spy, please visit the publisher's website at: www.caraskinner.tateauthor.com






Saturday, May 21, 2016

Interview with Author Ann Anovitz

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with Ann Anovitz, author of Charlie's Tale: The Great Questions of Life and Death

FQ: When creating the characters of the different worlds, how did you decide what personalities they should have?

ANOVITZ: I tried for good creatures, striving to do what was right in their world, but who did not see the evil that was also there. Then I wanted to balance that beautiful world with a dark, stark world that was not able to recover from the traumatic occurrence that had destroyed their previous, good world and turned the inhabitants into characters that were constantly fighting to hold on to their own territory.

FQ: What was the process you used to create the characters that are similar enough to humans to be relatable but different enough to learn from?

ANOVITZ: I wanted their thinking to be human, showing both good and bad characteristics and of course, their physical attributes and to go along with their character.

FQ: What was your inspiration for the two different worlds that Charlie visited?

ANOVITZ: My inspiration was the ideas of good and evil in the Bible, in Dante’s work and in other sci-fi material.

FQ: Was there a particular reason you chose the Civil War era to have Charlie visit/experience?

ANOVITZ: I chose the Civil War era because it was such a devastating time for Americans and I was more familiar with American history than that of other nations. The stress of people with different opinions pulling each other and the nation apart, the great killing, the utter destruction of an entire society that we are still fighting to pull back together was very meaningful.

FQ: What research did you do when writing about the Civil War section of the book?

ANOVITZ: I have done a great deal of reading about the Civil War, including novels, history and personal essays of those involved in the war.

FQ: When doing your research on the different religions, what did you find to be the most useful source for your writing?

ANOVITZ: I have been studying the Old Testament for several years. I also read commentaries on the Koran and several books on Buddhism and Hinduism.

FQ: What were your reasons for having the protagonist as a father, as opposed to having the main character be, say a mother, or sister?

ANOVITZ: Interesting question. I find there is a big difference in the way men and women have been brought up in our world society. I also think while women can do many things at one time, men tend to concentrate on doing and finishing one job at a time. They are more involved in their work than in their home, although that has changed somewhat. But that is also why Charlie became a women in China, so that he could see the difference.

FQ: What was your favorite section to write about in this book - the different worlds, Civil War era, China, etc?

ANOVITZ: I loved writing about the other worlds, but I think the Civil War brought so much home to me and pointed out to the reader how alike humanity is. China, the animal kingdom and the entire book were really about showing how our beliefs about life, the universe and the God we each believe in are so totally alike, and yet still we fight to kill each other’s beliefs.

To learn more about Charlie's Tale: The Great Questions of Life and Death please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.















Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#BookReview - Charlie's Tale: The Great Questions of Life and Death


Charlie's Tale: The Great Questions of Life and Death

By: Ann Anovitz
Publisher: Richer Press
Publication Date: November 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9903291-9-0
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: May 17, 2016

The timeless question of what happens after our death is one that has intrigued mankind for thousands of years. Author Ann Anovitz weaves a story that attempts to shed some light on this intriguing question with Charlie's Tale.

Charlie's journey starts as he is enjoying a baseball game, about to eat a hot dog and then unexpectedly everything goes dark except for a few spots of light that he can barely make out. As his vision gets better he realizes that there are hundreds of bright balls of light all around him, each a slightly different color. Suddenly a person appears in the distance and as Charlie comes closer he realizes that he is looking at his own father, but his father passed away a few years ago, so how could this be?

As Charlie begins to pepper his father with a ton of questions, his father explains to him that he had a heart attack while at the baseball game and is on his way to heaven. However, before Charlie can get there he has to learn a few lessons about what it really means to live a good life. As Charlie takes a second to look back on his life, he knows he made mistakes along the way, but he always thought that he was a good person. As his journey progresses, Charlie will realize that there were many things he took for granted in his life, things that he should have known to pay attention to and respect.
The first step is to travel to two different worlds, each very unique in how the planets' inhabitants live their lives. Each world forces Charlie to think back to his life on Earth and see the similarities. Next, Charlie is sent back to Earth but he does not go back as himself. In order for him to realize the important things in life he is sent back to various points in history, each time as a different person. He goes back to the time of the Civil War, as an orphaned young boy taken in by a farming family; sent to China as a young girl, and then spends some time in the woods as a deer. Each lesson pushes the limits of Charlie's ideas about how he lived his own life, and what he would have done differently.

This book started out to be quite intriguing for me. I was drawn into the story and was curious to see the main character of Charlie travel to two very different worlds. The author's creativity in creating these two planets was quite enjoyable. However, for me the story began to take a turn when Charlie journeyed to China. It was at this point that the story shifted from a journey about Charlie to more of a lesson about different cultures. There was an immense amount of information on different religions and I felt I lost touch with the personal journey of the character. While it was interesting, that transition made for an unsatisfactory reading experience as the story, about a man's journey, got sidetracked.

Quill says: A book with an interesting topic, but with a story that fell short for me.






Tuesday, May 17, 2016

#BookReview - Itchy Pig


Itchy Pig

By: Nicole Bruno Cox
Illustrated by: Jessie Judge
Publisher: Inkshares, Inc
Publication date: March 2016
ISBN: 9781941758571
Reviewed by: Jennifer Tilley-Voegtle
Review Date: May 8, 2016

Itchy Pig is a delightful children’s story about a little pig with big allergies that loves to be outdoors. He enjoys being outdoors rain or shine, beach or mountain. Itchy pig lives in a barn on a farm with his mom and lots of other animals including his good friend, a little mouse, who is always there by his side to watch out for him and help. On a particularly beautiful sunny day Itchy Pig just has to go outside to play! But little Itchy Pig’s mom knows how serious his allergies are and warns Itchy Pig that going outdoors may make him sick. Unfortunately, he just can’t help himself! He must go out and enjoy the day!

While Itchy Pig is outside he revels in the beauty of the day, enjoying nature to the fullest! Unfortunately, while reveling in the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors, he is exposed to all kinds of allergens and soon discovers that despite the joys of being outside, he’s not feeling so well. With runny eyes, itchy skin, and giant sneezes, he heads back to the barn in sorry shape.
When Itchy Pig makes it back to his barn, his mom knows just what to do to make him feel better and gives him a cool oatmeal bath. Itchy Pig’s mom is aware of how much he loves the great outdoors but reminds him why it’s so important to take care while playing outside. All of the animals in the barn are also there to make sure he gets well soon, love him, and make sure he feels better. Itchy Pig’s mom reminds him that while being outside and exploring is quite wonderful he must take precautions and be careful. Itchy pig learns that as much as he loves being out and about in nature, its best to listen to mother and take heed of her advice.

Itchy Pig is a great book for children with allergies but will also be relatable for children who do not suffer from allergies. The lovingly told moral of the story is to listen to your mother or there may be rather unpleasant consequences.

The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful and will be very memorable to the child reading it. On each page there is a lovely, vibrant illustration that adds so much more to the written words. Itchy Pig’s little mouse friend is in almost every picture, there to support our poor, allergic, hero. There are also some unexpected images in the illustrations that provide another engaging aspect for a child to discover. Itchy Pig is rich with moral fiber as well as love and understanding. The young reader will learn about the importance of listening to one’s mother while enjoying life responsibly.

Quill says: Itchy Pig is a lovely book that is sure to become one of your child’s favorites!






Monday, May 16, 2016

#BookReview - Flight Patterns


Flight Patterns

By: Karen White
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: May 2016
ISBN: 978-0-451-47091-1
Reviewed by: Diana Hettinger
Review Date: May 17, 2016

How happily can you live while running from your past? Apparently, Georgia Chambers thinks she can live very happily on her own in New Orleans. Having left her home ten years ago, Georgia immersed herself in a world of antiques and the stories of others in order to occupy her mind and time. The less she thought about her mistakes and the less she saw her family, the better. Georgia has not seen or spoken to her sister, Maisy, in the ten years she’s been away. Those ten years have been filled with bitterness, resentment, and constant running from a past they used to know and share together. When her job demands that she return home, Georgia is forced to face her past and ends up unearthing a family secret that threatens to unravel them all, even more so than they already are.

Heading home to a place Georgia does not want to go is hard enough on her own. It’s even harder with her client, James, in tow. Not only does she have to face her younger sister and her daughter Becky, but she has to face her estranged mother, Birdie, who does not speak and is prone to random episodes ever since finding an old suitcase in the attic. They all live in one house with her grandfather, a local beekeeper, who has devoted his life to the study of bees and honey. This is reason enough for Georgia to not want to return, however, by going home and bringing James, it means she must confront her past and now someone else will bear witness to it, as well. Flight Patterns puts together a brutal past, an unknown family secret, and a little mystery. What could go wrong?

Having a sister, I found this an extremely relevant book. The rivalries and different personalities present between Georgia and Maisy mimic those of my younger sister and I. This enabled me to place myself in the story and think about what I would do and what I would have done under the same tragedies and circumstances that Georgia and Maisy faced. Would I have run from the past like Georgia because my mistakes were too hard to face? Would I have let anger rule my life because it is easier to blame someone else and the truth is too hard to face like Maisy? Or would I have stayed and fought because as sisters, burdens are shared and it is a connection like no other. White weaves a tale that will force you to place yourself in this family's shoes and will pull you in with the slight mysteries and twists in the plot. Never having read anything by Karen White before, I look forward to going back and reading each one of her books. I can only hope that they are as addictive and well-written as Flight Patterns.

Quill says: Flight Patterns is a light mystery that is well-executed and able to give a sense of perspective and hope to anyone who needs to face a rough past and forgive in order to move on.




Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Books In For Review

Check out the latest books to arrive for review!



Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces...Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star. Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground...And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human.

Tabitha Fink On a Mission to Mars by Rick Felty Tabitha Fink is a special cat, a cat with one eye who loves to explore. In this her second book, Tabitha goes on an exciting adventure in space to the planet Mars where she learns how rewarding it can be to try something new. She also meets some new friends along the way and helps them to overcome their fear of things that are different. With cute drawings and wonderful rhymes, Tabitha Fink On a Mission to Mars is a great book for early readers and children of all ages.

The House of Dreams by Kate Lord Brown In 2000, Gabriel Lambert is a celebrated painter who hides a dark secret. Sophie Cass, a journalist struggling to begin her career and with a family connection to Lambert, is determined to find the truth about his past and the little known story of the real Casablanca. In 1940, an international group of rescue workers, refugee intellectuals, and artists gather in the beautiful old Villa Air Bel just outside Marseilles. American journalist Varian Fry and his remarkable team at the American Relief Center are working to help them escape France, but "the greatest man-trap in history" is closing in on them. Despite their peril, true camaraderie and creativity flourishes - while love affairs spring up and secrets are hidden. At the House of Dreams, young refugee artist Gabriel Lambert changed the course of his life - and now, sixty years later at his home in the Hamptons, the truth is finally catching up with him.

Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan by Michael Reagan Noted political commentator Michael Reagan, the son of Ronald Reagan and first wife Jane Wyman, has traveled across America, giving speeches and meeting the public. Time and time again, people tell him how much they love and miss his father, and what his presidency meant to them. In a world where role models are few and far between, Ronald Reagan’s legacy stands strong. In Lessons My Father Taught Me, Michael Reagan looks back over his years with his father and reflects on what he has learned from the greatest man he has ever known—and one of the greatest men the world has known. When Michael was growing up, his father would drive him out to his ranch. There Ronald Reagan taught Michael how to ride a horse, how to shoot a gun, and much more. As they drove together or did chores together, Michael’s father told him stories and taught him about life, love, family, faith, success, and leadership. Michael didn’t fully appreciate those lessons at the time, but years later he remembered—and he understood. Now, Michael Reagan shares his father’s wisdom and experience in this inspiring book.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#BookReview - #SlothLove


SlothLove: An Inspiring and Intimate Visual Journey into the World of Sloths

By: Sam Trull
Publisher: Inkshares
Publication Date: April 2016
ISBN: 978-1941758496
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 11, 2016

Thanks to the movie Zootopia, Sloths are enjoying a spat of unprecedented attention. Are they really that slow? That hairy? That cute? Check out the new book SlothLove to find the answers to these, and many other questions about sloths (and yes, they really are that cute).

In 2007, author/photographer Sam Trull experienced two personal tragedies that would change her life forever. Feeling lost, she traveled, switched careers and basically tried to 'find herself.' After several false starts, she eventually found herself in Costa Rica, where she started working for 'Kids Saving the Rainforest' (KSTR). It's while at KSTR that she discovered sloths and she freely admits that "...sloths saved my life."

Trull's first experience with a sloth was with holding a baby sloth as she learned to feed the fragile creature. There must have been something that connected between that little baby and Trull, for she's been caring for the gentle creatures since that time. With SlothLove, the author uses her abilities as a photographer to share these amazing animals with those of us who have not had the pleasure of meeting these slow-moving, expressive-eyed animals up close. SlothLove, is replete with a wonderful assortment of Trull's photographs of sloths, from the tiny, adorable babies to full-grown adults doing what they do best - sleeping. But do they really sleep as much as we're led to believe? The photographs are accompanied with facts about the mammals, and you'll learn a lot about them as you scroll through the pages.

Along with the wonderful photos and facts, Trull includes six accounts of sloths she has cared for and loved. You'll meet 'Monster' who is anything but a monster, 'Kermie,' the first baby sloth the author cared for, and 'Elvis,' the sloth with "...seriously flexible hips." SlothLove is a very informative and truly enjoyable book that left me with a smile. Your dad would be very proud of you Sam!

Quill says: Love sloths? SlothLove is the perfect book for both the sloth lover as well as the person who simply wants to know more about these amazing animals.