Monday, August 21, 2017

#AuthorInterview with J.R. Klein

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with J.R. Klein, author of The Ostermann House

FQ: In The Ostermann House, Michael discovers what appears to be a nonagram in their basement and others randomly appear throughout the story. Can you explain to potential readers what is the significance of a nonagram?

KLEIN: The nonagrams are the connection between Herman Ostermann, who once owned the house, and the power source that is focused on the property. The number nine, which is part of the nonagram itself and is a number that reappears many times in the book, has historical connections to the occult, the paranormal, and the supernatural. As the reader will see, the significance of those to the nonagrams becomes apparent at the end of the book.

FQ: It is often said that science and the paranormal don’t mix. As a person who has a PhD in Immunology, do you believe in the paranormal?

KLEIN: As a scientist with a PhD, I think that there are many things in the universe about which we know little. Some of these even border on seemingly paranormal events that may be connected in perfectly ordinary ways, though we don’t know how or why this is as yet. When I am not in the laboratory, it is fun to let my mind go and create alternate universes that come out in books like The Ostermann House.

Author J.R. Klein

FQ: Over the years you’ve written for many scholarly journals and magazines. How has the writing process been different for you now that you’ve been writing novels?

KLEIN: It is really quite different. In writing about science for scholarly journals, it is important to stick to what we know, to stick to the facts. The beauty, and the fun, of writing fiction is that you can let your mind wander, particularly when it comes to fantasy, sci-fi, or the paranormal. You can create your own world-view that straight science doesn’t permit.

FQ: Are any of your characters based on anyone in your life?

KLEIN: Probably all of my characters are drawn to some degree from various people I have known, though not from just one person. Often, a character in a book is an amalgam of these people. But then, too, the beauty of writing fiction is that you can go beyond what you have known and add personal features and characteristics that make a character become completely unique. It is like painting a picture of a scene in the city or the countryside and then adding or subtracting from it in order to give the new image a special and different essence.

FQ: Why did you choose to write a thriller novel primarily based on the paranormal?

KLEIN: The idea for the story came while my wife and I were traveling in central Texas from Houston where we lived. We had gone down a dirt road out in the country and came upon an old farmhouse. On the property was a barn and a pond and a small graveyard out on the back of the pasture. For some reason, an old abandoned school bus was out there as well. I incorporated all of those into the story. The house was on the outskirts of a small town that in the book became Krivac.
When I got home, I kept thinking about how perfect this would be as a setting for a thriller – something spooky and weird – all connected to the house, the property, and the town. The paranormal part grew naturally into to the book as events transpired. Having just published a book of literary fiction (Frankie Jones), I was looking for a different kind of a challenge. I have always enjoyed thrillers of all kinds.

FQ: Who are some of your favorite authors?

KLEIN: I like a range of authors. For horror, thrillers, and suspense, Stephen King and Dean Koontz are on the top of the list, of course. But I also love good literary fiction. Probably one of my favorite authors is Patrick Modiano. His work is almost surrealistic. It floats back and forth between the past and the present in the most elegant sort of way.

FQ: I really appreciate the cover design on The Ostermann House. Though it is simply a picture of the farmhouse depicted in the story, it gives readers a great sense of foreboding and creepiness that you feel throughout the book. Is this cover based on a real-life house?

KLEIN: Yes, it is very similar to the house we came across while we were traveling through central Texas. It was weather-worn but inhabited, and fairly-well kept up for its age. It looked like it had a multitude of stories, good and bad, hidden somewhere inside – the perfect place to begin the journey into the book.

FQ: Are there any future novels in the works that your fans can look forward to reading?

KLEIN: I have a novel that I recently completed that would certainly fall into the horror/suspense category. It takes place at a college in a small town in Vermont. In the centuries-old library building, a pair of students inadvertently stumble upon a passage that leads to an ancient ceremonial altar chamber deep underground, where medieval occult rituals are being performed. All is fine until something very dark and very dangerous is unleashed.

To learn more about The Ostermann House please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.
















#BookReview - The Ostermann House


The Ostermann House

By: J.R. Klein
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-1544815053
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: August 19, 2017

Married couple Michael and Audrey Felton are hardworking professors at a local university in Houston, Texas. Together they decide that they desperately need to get away from their strenuous jobs, and purchasing a house in the country, isolated from the craziness of Houston, but not too far, is just what they want for their much-needed respite. After spending considerable time in search of the perfect place, they are just about to give up when their real estate agent presents them with a house in the small town of Krivac. Despite some initial misgivings, Michael and Audrey purchase the property, known locally as the Ostermann House. Sure, the house is a one hundred and seventeen-year-old fixer upper with a possibly dubious past, but they were hard-pressed to find a farmhouse complete with land, a barn and in a remote location, for such a low price anywhere else.

A month later, the Feltons are happily settling into their new vacation home by keeping themselves busy cleaning, painting and furnishing the place. During the home inspection, a mysterious stone doorway was discovered in the basement, and now Michael, who can no longer stand the suspense of wondering what it is, decides to painstakingly remove the old bits of stone until he is able to slip through to what appears to be a dank, creepy, but basically empty room. On his way out he manages to discover an unusual coin-like object stuck in the dirt floor that has nine flat sides and a few odd symbols on it. To rid himself of the eerie feeling he’s having, he makes a decision to eventually completely knock down the walled-in doorway, and open it up to the entire room.

Time continues to rush by for Michael and Audrey, and except for occasional and odd encounters with the locals, things continue to be positive for them. While Michael appears to sometimes be disturbed by the wildly crazy stories told by these locals relating to the old owners of their home, Audrey simply chalks it up to the locals trying to test the nerves of the newbies in town. However, things start to take a sinister turn for the worse after Audrey leaves Krivac to return to her job in Houston, leaving Michael behind and alone in the house. Words mysteriously appear on computer screens, and objects disappear and reappear in other locations; it all seems as if someone is somehow getting into their house, but security cameras say otherwise. The tension escalates when not only do bizarre things happen outside the home on their property, but the town police officer, Rainey, makes matters worse by telling Michael tales of the crazy happenings of the previous owners, only to deny ever speaking with him, on another day. As time passes, an increasing amount of scary events take place forcing the Feltons to consider selling their home and ridding themselves of the Ostermann property and the whole strange town of Krivac. Unfortunately, their hesitation comes at a considerable price near the end as they are forced to abandon their quest to find out what’s causing all this paranormal activity, and to immediately flee from their vacation home. But will they be successful, or will they be victims of something that is not only greater than themselves, but greater than all humanity?

Author J.R Klein is a master at crafting tales of paranormal suspense. Readers will easily look past the simple and sometimes overused plot, and will become quickly engaged in The Ostermann House for what it really is, a well-written novel that is so creepy you may want to turn on music so as not to scare yourself too much while you’re deeply engrossed in reading this page-turner. The characters, even the strange-acting townspeople, are realistic and likable, and definitely set the tone for a disturbing story that displays an increasing urgency to find out what went on at the Ostermann property years ago, and how it relates to what the current owners are being subjected to. Many scenes unfold at a slow, detailed pace but Klein has the ability to keep readers not only engaged throughout, but craving more.

Readers should be advised that the ending of The Ostermann House may come as not only a shocker, but a disappointing and jarring end to an otherwise great paranormal suspense story. Events and occurrences throughout seem as if they could be a part of real-life situations right up until the ending. If you’re looking for a read that has a predictable and tidy finish, perhaps even leaving readers on a positive note because the characters resolved their conflict, look elsewhere; this is not the book for you. If however, you are a fan of the paranormal who has a passion for the tension and suspense in these type of stories, and enjoys a considerably twisted ending, this book is a must-read.

Quill says: The Ostermann House is a fast-paced ominous tale for fans who love to read a good paranormal suspense that will keep you thoroughly engaged right up until a whammy in the ending.

READ THE INTERVIEW!

For more information on The Ostermann House, please visit the author's website at: www.johnrklein.com








Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nominations Are Open! #BookAwards



It's that time of year again ... nominations are now open for the Feathered Quill Book Awards. We are currently offering an "Early Bird" discounted nomination rate until Sept. 1 (so judges can start reading now - it really helps them with all the books they have to read). We have a few new categories this year AND now include "Judges' Comments" for all entries. Learn more and nominate at:

#BookReview - Dog Dish of Doom


Dog Dish of Doom: An Agent to the Paws Mystery

By: E.J. Copperman
Illustrated By: David Baldeosingh Rotstein
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-08427-9
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: August 17, 2017

After finishing law school, Kay Powell wanted to start her own business and the one thing she knew for sure was that she preferred working with animals over people. With a background in theatre, as her parents are both stage actors and she was once involved in their act growing up, she decides to start an agency that represents animal actors. Little does she know how this will change her life...

With her new business, Kay sees all kinds of animal talent from many different species including cats, birds, reptiles, and even dolphins. Her latest client, however, is a lovable dog named Bruno. As soon as Kay meets Bruno she can see he has potential to be a great actor for he’s obedient, calm, and above all has a face that all of the audience will fall in love with. Unfortunately, Bruno’s owners Trent and Louise Barclay are not as simple to deal with, making it twice as hard for Kay to seal a contract for Bruno. For you see, Kay is so close to getting Bruno the part of the dog Sandy in the play Annie, if only she can convince Trent to keep his opinions to himself about the director, Les McMaster.

After some negotiation with both parties, Kay thinks she has the role captured for Bruno and is proud of her client’s bright future, but everything takes a drastic turn when the next morning she is informed that Trent Barclay has been murdered. Suddenly Bruno’s future is not so bright as an investigation starts to find a motive for Trent’s murder. This is when Kay finds herself in an odd predicament - she represents Bruno and by all means wants to look out for his best interest and keep him safe. However, if someone was angry enough to murder Trent then Bruno could possibly be in danger too. The situation becomes even stranger when Trent’s wife, Louise Barclay, accuses Kay of dog napping the morning of Bruno’s first rehearsal. Louise doesn’t seem to recall that Kay called her many times to arrange a drop off time for Bruno. Instantly distraught, Louise tries to get Kay arrested, but is quickly told there is no grounds for arrest. Louise, angry with the whole situation, storms away leaving her dog yet again with Kay.

Because Kay is in the center of all the theatre drama, Detective Rodriguez, who has been assigned the case, asks for Kay’s help in searching for clues. At first Kay is a little apprehensive for shouldn’t the police handle all of this business? But then, knowing that the safety of her client Bruno is in her hands, she agrees to help and soon uncovers a dog pile of secrets.

Before I even started to read this book I was pulled in by the unique main character of Kay Powell, for being an agent to the animals is just such a fun and creative place to start. Then throwing in a lovable dog like Bruno, I was instantly hooked to the bond this pair had throughout the story. It was perfect for the reader to see the dog’s perspective in a unique way for the main character keeps the reader in tune with all that is transpiring with Bruno, while still keeping up with a fun dialogue between the human characters. This is a great first novel in this series and I’ll be looking for the second one.

Quill says: Could not ask for a more unique and fun story!






Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#Book Review - A Measure of Murder


A Measure of Murder: A Sally Solari Mystery

By: Leslie Karst
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 2017
ISBN: 978-1-68331-018-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 15, 2017

Leslie Karst tantalizes her audience with her savory new ‘Sally Solari Mystery’: A Measure of Murder.

Sally Solari is a busy gal. Her balancing act includes working in her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s on one hand, while planning the autumn menu for Gauguin, the restaurant she inherited from her aunt on the other. Sally also loves to sing and joins a chorus. It was a no-brainer to join when she learned it would be performing a newly discovered version of her favorite Mozart composition, the Mozart Requiem. On her first night of rehearsal at the church, accomplished tenor, Kyle, falls to his death in the church courtyard. His soprano girlfriend Jill isn’t convinced this was an accident. Jill knew Sally solved the mystery of her aunt’s untimely death; which happened to be murder and convinces Sally to dig deeper into Kyle’s death.

Matters become more complex in Sally’s life as rehearsals intensify and demands at both restaurants escalate. Tempers and jealousies are rearing their ugly heads at rehearsals. To add to her challenges, when a fire breaks out during a busy service at Gaugin’s one evening, Sally is more than convinced the reason behind the fire is because she was getting closer to establishing murder as the real reason for Kyle’s unfortunate death. The fire may have been a setback, but it doesn’t deter Sally from forging forward to solve the mystery. What she doesn’t know is more greed, jealousy, secrets and another death lies in wait in her path ahead.

Leslie Karst creates a great recipe of mystery and intrigue in her latest novel. Like a culinary master, she has mixed up a batch of yummy characters who are full of zest and individual personality. She has accomplished the golden rule when it comes to writing a murder mystery in that she delivers the body to her audience in a timely fashion. There is a nice ebb and flow throughout this read of rich and engaging scene set ups that is followed by equally credible dialogue. At story’s end, the reader is treated to the bonus of a handful of recipes in the back of the book—recipes that were showcased in the story. I find this to be innovative as much as creative when an author shines a light on yet another facet of their creative ability. I have not had the pleasure of reading Ms. Karst’s first book in her Sally Solari Mystery series and hope to do so at some point in the future. Meanwhile, I give a thumb’s up to A Measure of Murder. It’s a well-rounded murder mystery without a lot of blood and gore, but certainly a bounty of ‘who done it’ at the turn of each page.

Quill says: A Measure of Murder is the perfect recipe of one-part mystery and two parts engaging which makes for a dish served well with a glass of wine and a comfy chair.





#BookReview - How To Change a Life


How to Change a Life

By: Stacey Ballis
Publisher: Berkeley
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-0-425-27662-4
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 15, 2017

Foodie novelist Stacey Ballis is back and delivers yet another delightful read in her latest novel, How to Change a Life.

Eloise has a comfortable life. She is a successful private chef and couldn’t ask for more perfect clients. Her corgi sidekick, Simca, is the only member of her immediate family which is fine by her. Eloise reflects on her high school years and experiences a pang of melancholy when she thinks of her ‘besties’ Lynne and Teresa. She thinks about Mrs. O’Connor and how she was the one teacher who made a difference in Eloise’s life. Aside from her loving parents, Mrs. O’Connor helped Eloise see there was more to her life than being an Olympic contender once those dreams were quashed due to an injury in her senior year. Time moves forward, friends move on and here she is today, months away from her 40th birthday. When she receives the sad news of Mrs. O’Connor’s passing, Eloise had no idea the event would end up being yet another gift of wisdom and hope from her dearly departed teacher.

How fitting the three women would reunite at Mrs. O’Connor’s funeral. They became fast friends in high school thanks to Mrs. O’Connor. When they reconnect, they decide to reignite the flame to their senior class assignment. Each girl was to make a list of things to accomplish before their respective fortieth birthdays in a few, short months. Lynne is a successful advertising executive and has no time for domestic responsibilities. She must get a dog. Teresa has mastered the art of being the perfect mom and homemaker. Her role of wife could use some spicing up and her challenge is to do just that. Eloise has been off the dating scene for more than a decade which is more than too long. Her goal is to start dating again. While the occasion for the reunion was a solemn one, it doesn’t take long for the three to rekindle their friendships. Or maybe the years have paved the way to show their true colors. Perhaps the resurrection of their ‘bucket list’ wasn’t such a great idea after all. Only time will tell if the three women make it to forty together with friendships intact or perhaps they will find themselves achieving their goals solo.

Stacey Ballis is the quintessential author when it comes to spinning a light and balanced read. How to Change a Life introduces three women (besties in high school) years later and Ms. Ballis manages to craft events and dialogue to portray a ‘that was then, this is now’ allure which is believable. The level of drama is tempered, but it does manage to surface at opportune moments in the story. Eloise is the grounded and nurturing type, Teresa is the loyal friend and Lynne is the jet-setter who may want what Eloise and Teresa have, but will never admit it. Ms. Ballis nailed the balance of conflict and kinship individually and as a group beautifully. I’ve had the pleasure of reading other titles by Ms. Ballis and, once again, say I am a fan of her work. I look forward to the next ‘foodie’ adventure.

Quill says: It’s never too late to change a life and become that someone you were always destined to become.





Monday, August 7, 2017

#Interview with Author Steven M. Moore

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Steven M. Moore, author of Rembrandt's Angel

FQ: I read that you have penned a plethora of novels and short stories. Do you have any unfinished stories that never made it to a final published form?

MOORE: I’ve been collecting plot ideas, character sketches, themes, dialogue snippets, and potential settings for years. My muses know this, so they’ve been after me to turn them into stories since I became a full-time writer. That’s a fanciful explanation for my many stories during these last ten-plus years. I’ve never had writer’s block, and I love to write. I often have several projects going (three right now).

Unfinished stories? You bet. My first novel, written during the summer I turned thirteen (not finished because I had several possible endings) wound up in the trash can when I left for college. It wasn’t all that bad (similar to the plot of the movie City of Angels with the masculine and feminine main characters’ roles reversed), but that trash can is definitely the appropriate place for most first novels.

When I start a story, I never know whether it will be a short story, novella, or novel. The first two often appear as free blog posts (serialized for novellas or longer shorts) and later as PDFs free for the asking. I can’t and won’t publish everything, although I think some of the short fiction is entertaining too, enough so that I’ve published a few short story collections. With projects in the works right now, we’ll see what their fate is. An author doesn’t have to publish everything s/he writes. The important thing is to keep writing.

FQ: If you could talk with your younger self, is there any advice that you would give him pertaining to your writing?

Author Steven M. Moore

MOORE: Yes. My biggest mistake was to use my own name instead of a pseudonym. My advice to all new authors is to choose a pen name if their real names are as common as mine. Name recognition is so important nowadays when there are so many good authors and good books to tempt the avid reader.

I’ve somewhat avoided another mistake. Like many writers, I have more fun writing and not so much doing what needs to be done after. Today one can’t ignore that, and I’ve learned not to do so. While most writers are nerds like me, we all have to leave our comfort zone from time to time too. There are no sufficient conditions for book success, but we can do a lot toward establishing the necessary conditions for that to happen.

FQ: In a synopsis for Rembrandt's Ange you asked, “To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece?” I’m curious, how would you answer that question?

MOORE: I think it’s appalling that some unscrupulous people will steal art and sell it to other unscrupulous people who selfishly keep the public from enjoying it. That said, I’m sure I don’t have my main characters’ skills to do something about it except to serve as cheerleader for those who do.

FQ: What do you believe makes Rembrandt’s Angel stand out from other detective mysteries, and how is it similar to the classic Agatha Christie novels?

MOORE: I call my book a mystery/thriller because it has elements corresponding to both genres. Crime fiction and suspense are also possible genres. The book begins like a classic mystery, hopefully doing due diligence to justifying its dedication to Christie and her great characters, Miss Marple and Monsieur Poirot. I’m sure the great mystery writer would feel right at home when Esther Brookstone visits her old school chum in Oxfordshire at the book’s beginning. The mystery becomes more complex as Esther and her paramour, Interpol agent Bastiann van Coevorden, uncover a complicated conspiracy that takes them into a more thriller-like storyline.

This novel is neither a classical who-done-it nor a simple thriller. Life is complex; so are my stories. I dedicate the book to Agatha more for the entertaining times I enjoyed as a young lad reading her books, but I always wondered why she didn’t have at least one novel where her two famous sleuths formed a synergistic team.

FQ: There is a debate that is still going on about whether the artwork obtained for the Hitler Museum was outright stolen, sold by forced coercion, or legally purchased. What do you personally believe happened?

MOORE: That could depend on your definition of “stolen.” If I’m not mistaken, Hans Posse and others sometimes paid a pittance for some paintings and/or used coercion. The fact that half the paintings in the treasure trove associated with “An Angel with Titus’ Features” have never been found is for me a strong hint that they were effectively stolen, often from groups persecuted by the Nazis, and some unsavory people still possess these stolen goods.

There was a lot of this going on during the war, but not all stolen artwork was destined for the museum either. Stolen art was often considered by many Nazi VIPs to be better plunder than gold bullion when designing their escape plans. The movie The Monuments Men documented a bit of that. I wrote my book before that movie, though (Esther and Bastiann both have cameos in other novels in my detective series).

FQ: Esther Brookstone is an unusual character because of her advanced years. What drew you to creating someone who isn't your typical young, or even middle-aged, character?

MOORE: With Miss Marple, Agatha Christie showed age isn’t much of a factor when solving mysteries. Sleuths of advanced years are common in mysteries, especially cozies. Of course, Esther Brookstone is a 21st century version of Miss Marple and a bit younger. They say sixty is the new forty, and if women can (and should be able to) serve in the military, that alone is sufficient reason to have a main female character.

Her advanced years do weigh on Esther a bit, though. She says toward the end of the book that she’s physically tired and rightfully so, and her doubts about retirement are probably ubiquitous among people at that age. What do you do when you retire from that stressful day-job not to become too bored? Esther doesn’t immediately have an answer. Bastiann might help there.

I’ve always admired strong, smart women and often think the world would be a better place with women more in charge. Testosterone seems to play too large a role on the world’s stage. And age doesn’t matter that much anymore. The story shows that Esther is young-at-heart and enjoys being with young people. The coincidental encounter with the thief of the Bernini bust at the Scottish castle Esther inherited (the coincidence is found in the inheritance, not the fact that the thief was hiding there—she knew the place from her teenage years), and the lively repartee between Esther and the young hacker from MI5 and his friend confirms how much she understands and commiserates with young people.

Many older adult readers have enjoyed Harry Potter and still enjoy other young adult tales. At book signings, I’ve found tweens interested in my mysteries and thrillers and elderly people interested in my sci-fi while I expected exactly the reverse. Being old and thinking young is very common now, so why not write about it? And those tweens show young people have a surprising maturity these days.

FQ: Why did you decide to write about the world of art theft and forgery? Do you have any artists that you're particularly fond of besides the two featured artists in your novel, Rembrandt and Bernini?

MOORE: I admire most creative people and their creations, and I admire them all the more if I can’t do what they do (I usually cannot). My favorite artists are impressionists, but my father (obviously a favorite) was primarily a landscape artist. In the book I also mention Botero and Obregon, two Colombian artists; their works are also favorites. One’s art appreciation is like one’s preferences for wine: it’s all subjective and everyone’s tastes are a wee bit different. What one likes is important, not what some critic says should be liked.

I believe I already mentioned how appalled I am by art theft and the resale of stolen artwork. The theft at the Gardner Museum in Boston (I lived and worked in the area for twenty-three years) and the discovery of a treasure trove long hidden in an apartment in Germany both motivated my interest in the black market in stolen and forged art. The latter was briefly mentioned in the novel (Esther’s case involving cruise ship auctions and her suspicions about the Rembrandt), and that’s appalling too. Most of my novels have themes woven in and around the plot. Art thievery and associated crimes represent one theme in Rembrandt’s Angel; two others are terrorism and the illegal drug trade.

FQ: There are several countries in this novel that the characters travel through; what are your favorite places that you’ve traveled to in the past?

MOORE: Fascist fanatics can be found anywhere, of course, so I apologize to my Austrian and German friends for stereotypically locating the main villains in Austria and Germany (I’m half-German and my mother only spoke German until she was eight, by the way). Mexican drug cartels are probably more infamous than South American ones now, but I knew the area around that corner of Colombia and Peru a bit better, so I have to apologize to my Latino friends too (I lived in Colombia for more than ten years). My experience with Great Britain and Ireland is more limited.
Today an author can use books, the internet, or cable channels to “visit” almost anywhere, many times in more detail than the average tourist. But it happens that I’ve lived and traveled abroad, and I’ve found different countries, people, and cultures so fascinating that I’m hard put to name my favorite places. I have fond memories of many places in North and South America and Europe. I celebrate the diversity I’ve found in our world in my life as well as in my books.

FQ: If Rembrandt's Angel were to become a big Hollywood movie, who would you like to be cast as the characters?

MOORE: My novels are probably too complex to be made into a movie. Some novels are, of course, and that probably guarantees some good plots and characters, but two hours cannot really do justice to the lengthy and complex tale told in a novel. That said, I’ll give a partial answer to this question I’m often asked.

I’d maybe choose Helen Mirren for Esther Brookstone. Ms. Mirren’s movie career has taken off since 2000. She is great in serious roles, and the comedy/thriller movie Red, where she plays a retired assassin, shows she could play Brookstone, although she’s possibly about ten years too old now. Unfortunately David Suchet, who probably did the best job of playing Poirot, is too old for Bastiann van Coevorden. I’m sure some other actors from the PBS Mystery Theatre and BBC TV’s series could do well playing these characters’ roles, though. My failure to make my answer more precise is why Hollywood doesn’t hire me to do their casting, although they haven’t been terribly good at it either.

FQ: Are you planning to write more exploits of Esther Brownstone and Bastiann van Coevorden? I’m sure readers are curious if Bastiann will become hubby number four!

MOORE: Several readers have made this same query. A sequel is possible. I’ve also been thinking of a prequel about Esther’s experiences in the British intelligence services before she joined Scotland Yard; they’re barely hinted at in the novel. Of course, that wouldn’t mitigate the curiosity associated with Esther’s future with Bastiann! I’m just going to have to wait until Inspector George Langston, Esther’s friend, immediate superior, and chronicler, decides to tell me what’s happening over there in merry old England and Scotland concerning Esther and Bastiann.

To learn more about Rembrandt's Angel please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.






























#BookReview - Rembrandt's Angel


Rembrandt's Angel

By: Steven M. Moore
Publisher: Penmore Press LLC
Publication Date: May 2017
ISBN: 978-1946409027
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: August 2017

Aging Inspector (and three-time widow) Esther Brookstone, remarkably skilled in the Art and Antiques Unit with Scotland Yard, has a few major life decisions to consider. Should she quietly retire from a lengthy and productive career with the Yard, or should she, as Dylan Thomas once penned, "...rage against the dying of the light" and continue to pursue her passion as a specialist in stolen art? Almost as if to instantly answer her quandary, Brookstone comes across an invitation to a private showing of "An Angel With Titus' Features" by the artist Rembrandt van Rijn. She is fairly certain that this piece of artwork is either the long-ago stolen original by the Nazis, or, more than likely, a black market forgery, and sets out to pursue the dealers and investigate the criminal activity, putting aside any thoughts of retirement. To assist her in this wild endeavor, she joins up with Bastiann van Coevorden, who is not only a well-respected Interpol Agent, but also Brookstone’s significant other. Together their hunt takes them traveling through numerous European countries and all the way to South America and they are briefly assisted by a cast of special agents from America and Germany, as well as numerous nefarious characters, who are hell-bent on thwarting their efforts to uncover the truth behind the artwork and put a stop to a potential plot that will create a worldwide disaster.

Rembrandt’s Angel, by Steven M. Moore, is a thrilling, globetrotting adventure that provides readers a glance into the world of art forgery, Neo-Nazi conspiracies and even links to ISIS. The duo of Brookstone and van Coevorden can be favorably compared with utmost respect to Agatha Christie’s classic characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Esther is a strong, well-liked character with a saucy disposition, while Bastiann, though he plays costar and lover to Esther, is able to hold his own with regards to likability. In addition to Esther and Bastiann, there were quite a few other characters in the story and while the author did include a "Cast of Main Characters" (which was used extensively throughout the book) this reader found it quite distracting to the overall reading flow. Perhaps if there were fewer characters or if their descriptions were a little bit stronger, it would make it easier to remember everyone involved.

The plot is complex, taking readers to many different locales, intertwining characters both new and old and this can lose the reader if they do not carefully follow along. Also, this reviewer found the subplot that included the character Sylvia Bassett to be a bit farfetched. Specifically when Sylvia, who is on the run, just happens to be discovered hiding out in Esther Brookstone’s recently inherited Scottish castle. However, despite the few issues Rembrandt’s Angel may have, this reviewer believes that Steven M. Moore’s novel should be read by fans of the mystery genre. Particularly because the author has a keen ability to weave a great storyline that is not only filled with suspense, but captures a reader’s attention. A few quotes stood out as quite descriptive and remained with this reader well after the book was completely read, for example, "In the ice cream shop of crime, there are many flavors" and "A committee of clouds enjoyed a private meeting over the manor." Finally, the character Esther Brookstone provides readers with an unusual female protagonist who is more than just a senior Scotland Yard Inspector, she is a memorable and tenacious dame who readers will undoubtedly enjoy throughout the novel and will look forward to reading any of her possible future exploits.

Quill says: Rembrandt’s Angel is a complex thriller with several plots intertwined throughout the story. It is recommended for serious mystery fans who are looking for not only a challenging read, but also one that allows readers to become an armchair adventurist and detective, along with Brookstone and van Coevorden, spanning many different parts of the globe.

For further information on Rembrandt's Angel, please visit the author's website at: www.stevenmmoore.com





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Aruna Gurumurthy

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Aruna Gurumurthy, author of A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey.

FQ: You are a pre-med student turned poet. A few of your poems give a glimpse to this sudden change you made, particularly in “Wow-Wow World.” Would you mind sharing with your audience details into your powerful transformation?

GURUMURTHY: Well, I was a pre-med but my transition into writing was not sudden. I have worked in several medical labs and volunteered with the underprivileged world. These experiences served as the “meat and potatoes” of my writing. Over the course of time, I wrote short essays on social media, that were basically observations and reflections of my work and the world around us and how it must change for the better. The jump to poetry was certainly sudden, as one morning I woke up from a dream and started penning poems. It was a moment of epiphany. In 21 days I had the manuscript for my first book of poems, Spark.

FQ: How does A Beginning to the End differ from your previous books, DIYA and Spark? How are they similar?

GURUMURTHY: Well they are all books about change. Peaceful change. They are all written in an intense, albeit humorous and expressive fashion.

DIYA is my first publication. It is the light, a dream about bringing change, first to our minds and then in the world. It is prose articulated with bits and pieces of poetry.

Spark is my first poetry book about dreaming to dare and daring to dream and how we can transform the world with our “dreams” and “dares.”

A Beginning to the End, also a full-length poetry collection, some of the poems being autobiographical. It is a derivative of my inspirations and/or personal struggles, “how I view the world” and victories towards social justice and peace.

Author Aruna Gurumurthy
FQ: Please tell our readers the inspiration behind “To Sir, with Love” from section one, New Day, New Hope.

GURUMURTHY: Well, this is a poem that reflects the need for us as individuals and nations to grow, mature and move on. I am reaching out to all of us to give clarity and grace to our actions, to love and let live/ love, to undo discord and embrace unity within diversity.

FQ: In Love and Whatnots you created a bittersweet poem titled “It’s a Girl.” Explain what inspired you to write this.

GURUMURTHY: “It’s A Girl” is the ironical journey of a woman. What starts as a precious, beautiful birth sometimes progresses into the arms of discrimination and cruelty. I got inspired to write this poem because I want to see such huge waves, dunes and ripples gone from women’s lives. I have worked with women from impoverished backgrounds and the kind of life they succumb to is sad. Furthermore, there are consequences to physical aspects like women wearing short skirts, or long scarfs or whatnots. I want women to come out of their “covers” and men, some men to change their perceptions. Every child is born the same way, through the fusion of an egg and a sperm, then WHY this disparity, why this dysfunction?

FQ: I love your alliterated title, Discrimination, Dogma, Dirt. Which one of these poems in section three stands out the most in your mind? Explain why.

GURUMURTHY: I value all my poems. They are all my babies! In Discrimination, Dogma and Dirt, they vary in severity ranging from political upheavals, to moments and people in life that have made me cringe and cry. The maljudgments, the jealousy, the injustice, the you-know-whats. Here, I muse over some tough struggles and how I have been tenacious in making instrumental transformations, including the influence on people’s minds.

FQ: In My Inspiration, My Love you include a poem titled “Monday Morning” based on an encounter you had with your young daughter. Please tell your readers the significance of that encounter.


GURUMURTHY: It was just another Monday morning and I was driving my daughter through the back roads. I was not particularly in a great mood and the poem talks about how my little, shiny girl elevated my mood, my spirits. It’s simple.

FQ: Here’s a unique title: “Solving the World’s Problems with My Hair Conditioner.” Explain the significance behind this poem.

GURUMURTHY: Ha-ha! I swim quite a bit, and while swimming I weave my mind through people’s minds and think about bigger issues such as discrimination, dogma, and world peace. Transforming individuals can change the world. After years of the best concoction of hair conditioner, I am finally nailing down the best product for my hair (and you may say, for the world)!!

FQ: What poem would you like to discuss from Abstractions, Precisions, and Solutions — one that would round out your themes and bring a perfect close to your work?

GURUMURTHY:

A New Day 
 In this day of darkness and world of demagoguery
Where wolves bark and demons lurk
Anxious minds feed negative human tendencies...
When ribbons of wind twirl and turn and
Cause
Calm minds to Whip...
The mindless despair
Revolutions
Today becomes forgiven and
Tomorrow becomes doable

FQ: If there is one message from A Beginning to the End that you hope to convey to your readers, what would that be?

GURUMURTHY: Everything is a message! Put some thought into the way you treat people. Stigma happens because an ill child, or an elderly individual, or a shy woman, or even someone from another part of the globe are viewed that way. Everyone one needs care, empathy and an equal status. This is a beginning to the end. Let us make this a better place.

FQ: Do you have a new project in the works, and if so what do you think the thematic overtones will be?

GURUMURTHY: Yes! I am always thinking about something. ‘What’ that something will become, is a surprise to you and to me!

FQ: I noticed that you self-published A Beginning to the End. What made you choose the self-publishing route rather than go the more traditional route of finding a publisher?

GURUMURTHY: I chose a self-publishing platform that aided me in making my manuscript into a book. Self-publishing is fast and easy. I get it my way 100%. The book turns out professional because I have control over the interior, cover and everything in-between. The editors are great. I don’t want to be slowed down by traditional publishing if they take a couple of years to get my book out. Prestige is my work and my work is prestige. There is no shame in self-publishing. It is a matter of pride to create and publish your own book.

To learn more about A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

























Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#BookReview - A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey


A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey

By: Aruna Gurumurthy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: May 2017
ISBN: 978-1544742571
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: July 21, 2017

Poet Aruna Gurumurthy weaves enlightening and inspiring themes in her latest work, A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey.

A pre-med student turned poet, Gurumurthy has found her calling in rhyme and verse. Speaking from the depth of her soul, Gurumurthy leaves no stone unturned in expressing how she feels about various aspects of life, deftly weaving this common theme over the course of six sections that include forty plus poems.

Each poem, set in first person POV, alternates between “I” and “we.” This subjective shifting creates a sense of unity, of oneness, providing her audience with the opportunity not only to engage in the reading process but also encourage individual contemplation. Two literary tools that Gurumurthy heavily uses to emphasize this sense of unity and oneness are repetition and restatement. Her writing style is lilting—at times, resembling raps. Gurumurthy always speaks from the heart, speaking truth into existence.

In part one titled New Day, New Hope, Gurumurthy opens with a warm and welcoming invitation to readers before delving into her lyrical poetry. The last stanza of “New Book in the Cards” aptly closes with these words: “With soft palms, come life my new book. / With sparkling eyes, a gentle smile, and / Kind fingers, / Come sift through my new book.”

Replete with current political overtones, the six poems in New Day, New Hope reflects Gurumurthy’s choices made after introspection. Certainly, what she embraces—love and well-being for all—are themes that do not stand alone but ring true to all who have chosen to create a new and positive page turn in their lives. In “We Are the Homo sapiens,” Gurumurthy offers a profound statement and word of encouragement to people throughout the world who are fighting for justice and equality: “We are the Homo sapiens / We are the Champions / Don’t tether our voice. / Don’t shackle our vision. / Don’t extinguish our spark.”

Epiphanic and sagacious moments grace the next set of poems in part two, Love and Whatnots. At the end of “A Writers’ Confluence,” Gurumurthy writes: “Because, as writers, / We are responsible for the humor, drama, and / Awareness in people’s live / We as responsible for people’s lives.”

Parts three and four, Discrimination, Dogma, Dirt and My Inspiration, My Love, give glimpses of the racial profiling and cultural stigmas that Gurumurthy has had to face, as well as her persistence to overcome all those barriers. “There is no doubt in my mind, not even slight / Keep on going-- / You may have lost today, but I promise! Tomorrow looks bright.” (My Inspiration, My Love, “Quit Not!”)

Lastly, Gurumurthy emerges from her painful situations, determined to make a difference in her life and the world in sections five and six, Clarity in the Fog and Abstractions, Precisions, and Solutions.
“Freedom in No Fickle” (Abstractions, Precisions, and Solutions says it all: “I am free / I love to be free / There is freedom in no fear / Freedom in no fickle / Freedom in the infinite / Freedom in everlasting... / Freedom in / Never lasting torment / Freedom in the eternal / In eternity.”

Quill says: A Beginning to the End is a “feel good” book, offering encouragement and empowerment to those who desire meaning and purpose in life.

For more information on A Beginning to the End: A Poetic Journey, please visit the publisher's website at: www.createspace.com










#AuthorInterview with M.J. Evans @mjevansauthor

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with M.J. Evans, author of The Stone of Courage: Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles

FQ: Was it always your plan to create four books for this series or did that develop after the writing of the first book?

EVANS: From the moment I first conceived of this storyline, it was four books…one for each of the stones that would give Carling the traits of a wonderful queen. The traits of Mercy, Courage, Integrity and Wisdom are characteristics that I wish all leaders possessed.

FQ: If you had to pick a favorite character, which would it be from this book and why?

EVANS: My heart continues to be first and foremost with Carling. She is the type of character that I can relate to. She is humble and filled with doubts and insecurity yet is committed to her assignment and willing to push herself beyond her perceived limits. She’ll take that step into the darkness and bring her own light with her. That said, I also have fun creating the bad guys! Shim, the Tommy Knocker, (note my spelling is different than the miner’s tommyknockers because I was creating an entirely new creature) is a nasty little fellow but he makes me chuckle when I write about him.

FQ: What was the inspiration for the Ice Horses?

EVANS: The idea to add the Ice Horses came from a photograph that a friend sent to me of a snow sculpture contest. The sculpture in the picture was of beautiful horses carved out of snow. They were so spectacular; my imagination went crazy and I had to add them to the book as inhabitants of the Northern Reaches.

FQ: Are movies ever an influence when designing the look of the different races such as the centaurs, ogres etc.?

EVANS: The images of the creatures such as the Centaurs, Ogres and Cyclops that influence me the most are early paintings of mythological characters rather than movie characters. I take all the literary license I want, however, and make them look like I imagine them in the story. For example, the Ogres are far different than any ogre you would have read about…kind of a stone “transformer” if we are looking for a movie connection. Carling is a Duende. The Duende are creatures that I created. They are half human, half fairy. So, she and her friends just came out of my imagination.

FQ: What is your favorite part of writing a book - developing the plot, writing particular types of action scenes or ...?

EVANS: I love, love, love creating the plot. I’m a story-teller at heart and I love to let my imagination go wherever it wants when developing the storyline. Next are the action scenes, especially scenes filled with tension where the reader gets a little bit nervous wondering what the outcome will be.

FQ: What has been the easiest part of working on this series?

EVANS: The easiest part of this series is keeping it organized. With each book telling the story of Carling acquiring a new stone, it is easy to keep the plot organized. I did something a little atypical, however. Instead of writing the story so that Carling finds each stone at the end of a book, she finds it in the middle. Then I get to show how the stone changed and influenced her while she developed each quality.

FQ: How do you keep each book unique from the one before it but cohesive at the same time?

EVANS: The cohesiveness is achieved by repeating the pattern: 1) Carling is sent on a Quest to find the next stone, 2) Carling finds the stone, 3) Let the stone influence Carling as she faces those who oppose her.

Each story is unique in that each quest takes Carling to a different part of the land of Crystonia where she meets different challenges and opponents.

FQ: What would you say is the most difficult part of writing?

EVANS: The most difficult part of writing a series like this is keeping the protagonist consistent while helping her learn and grow. Even as she gains mercy (the first book) and courage (the second book,) she must remain Carling, a young, naïve, and insecure girl who never desired to be the queen.
The most difficult part about writing in general is how lonely it is! I am a very social person. I love to be around people. However, writing is a solitary job. I sit by myself, surrounded by my imaginary friends and type, type, type! Then I hope someone will like my work. However, there are no guarantees!

FQ: Since I'm so eager for book 3, would you tell us how far along you are in the writing of it? Can you give our readers a little tease on the storyline?

EVANS: I am so glad that you are eager for book 3. I think it is the best so far. I have completed the first draft of the manuscript and am now doing revisions…so I’m getting there. Carling is sent on a new quest to find the third stone: The Stone of Integrity. It has been hidden on a mysterious island populated by Fairies who hide their faces behind masks. They don’t want anyone to know what they are thinking or feeling. They must learn to develop integrity even more than Carling does.

To learn more about The Stone of Courage: Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.



















#BookReview - The Stone of Courage @mjevansauthor


The Stone of Courage: Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles

By: M.J. Evans
Publisher: Dancing Horse Press
Publication Date: April 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9966617-6-8
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: July 24, 2017

In book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles, the fate of the land of Crystonia rests in the hands of a girl named Carling.

Carling has been given the silver breastplate, a sign that she is the next destined ruler of the kingdom. However, before she can sit on the throne she must find four stones, The Stone of Mercy, The Stone of Courage, The Stone of Integrity, and The Stone of Wisdom. Carling has already acquired The Stone of Mercy, which she had to battle through an angry group of centaurs from the Heilodius herd to get, but with the help of her friends Higson, Tibbals, and Tandum she made it through unharmed. Unfortunately, her and Higson’s families were killed in a raid by the evil Heilodius herd that will stop at nothing to make sure that Carling is not able to claim her rightful throne. With the support of each other, Carling and Higson pull together and begin to train with different weapons for they know that the fighting is far from over and that they have many more dangers to face in the upcoming months.

Now, the wizard of Crystonia who has been suddenly appearing and disappearing in Carling’s life ever since she received the silver breastplate, informs her that it is time to find the second stone, The Stone of Courage. It was such a dangerous quest finding the first stone that Carling is initially apprehensive about this next adventure but she does know that this is now her destiny and she must be ready to confront whatever challenges come her way. The wizard then tells her that the stone is hidden in the mountains of the Northern Reaches and protected by a creature named Shim. Just the mention of the Northern Reaches sends a chill up Carling’s spine for no one she knows has ever dared to venture into those lands - they are just too treacherous for anyone to travel through. Of course, this is where her journey is taking her so with all the courage she can muster she gathers her friends and they set off for the Northern Reaches, hoping that their combined strength will be enough to find The Stone of Courage and return home safely. Unfortunately, the guardian of the Stone of Courage is not a friendly creature and may give Carling more trouble than she ever thought.

Before this journey is over Carling will face ogres and angry centaurs and also find that a treacherous plan is unfolding to keep her from ever taking her rightful place as ruler of Crystonia. As each new challenge hits her Carling begins to question if she is strong enough for this task, for how could such a small being be chosen to rule all of Crystonia?

When I saw that the second book had come out in this series I could not wait to read it, for the last book left on such a cliffhanger that I was excited to see what would happen next. Through the first book, author M.J. Evans introduces her characters beautifully and that really helped to get me into the story. In book 2, The Stone of Courage, Evans expands on the characters' personalities in such a way that it had me relating to them even more. The camaraderie that is created through these adventures is wonderful and had me hanging on every page.

Quill says: Another wonderful addition to the Centaur Chronicles that I could not put down!

For more information on The Stone of Courage: Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles, please visit the publisher's website at: www.dancinghorsepress.com








#BookReview - A Beautiful Here: Emerging From The Overwhelming Darkness Of My Son's Suicide


A Beautiful Here: Emerging From The Overwhelming Darkness Of My Son's Suicide

By: Linda Phillips
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: August 2016
ISBN: 978-1537413678
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: July 24, 2017

Award-winning author Linda Phillips shares her journey from darkness into joy amid unspeakable grief in her poignant memoir, A Beautiful Here.

“Suicide remains a silent neglected epidemic.”

While this terrifying fact is something mental health professionals have to contend with every day, the quote has a different impact upon those who have lost loved ones to this muted disease. One such person is Linda Phillips, who lost her youngest son, Nuçi, on Thanksgiving Day in 1996. Nuçi was twenty-two at the time that he decided to end his life. There are no appropriate words to describe the mental and emotional anguish a parent goes through when they lose their child. Nonetheless, Phillips finds a way not only to turn her darkness into joy amid unspeakable grief but also to capture her emotional upheaval after Nuçi's death.

Opening on her wedding day, Phillips gives a glimpse of married life during the first few years. Marrying the man of her dreams is truly a freeing experience from her scarred and traumatic childhood. Surrounded by family riddled with mental illness of one form or other, Phillips determines early on not to follow in their footsteps. Pushing her troubled past deep in the recesses of her brain, Phillips is confident that her tainted childhood history will never rise and haunt her ever again, especially when her two beautiful boys, KP and Nuçi, enter the scene. Little does she know that genetics will come back to bite her, affecting her life in more ways than she could ever imagine.

Phillips is not one for mincing words. Her straightforward two-part narrative carries readers from a happy tight-knit family to one that suddenly gets thrown into the turbulence of Nuçi’s teen years and the first sign of mental illness, even though Phillips doesn’t recognize it until his later teens. Helplessness seems to be her trademark as she fails to reach out to him during a flurry of moody interludes. While her story leads up to that fateful 1996 day in part one, Phillips walks readers through the ordeal of figuring out a way to process Nuçi’s demise. After a two-year period of mourning, Phillips begins to look into mental health issues. Her words are profound:

“If the medication is the right one, energy levels may increase before the mood lightens. This is a period when the depressed person may regain the energy to take his/her own life. Therein lies—in my opinion—the Achilles Heel of treatment. Those waiting gaps, they need to be addressed.”

Phillips’ reasoning leads to the establishment of Nuçi’s Space, an adjunct to the treatment process.

With an overarching focus on suicide prevention, Nuçi’s Space’s emphasis is on musicians. Nuçi was a musician. Beyond that, the community of Athens, Georgia—where he was attending college and eventually ended his life—is heavily based on music. As Phillips states, “Many musicians consider themselves somewhat disenfranchised from society. They struggle to make a living and more often than not have no medical or dental insurance. Society tends to look at what they do as fun rather than work. Many times, rather than receiving a paycheck, they’re paid with alcohol or drugs.”

Phillip’s story is nothing less than a gut-wrenching yet highly encouraging read. It is fitting to close with Phillip’s goal for writing A Beautiful Here: “I sincerely hope that anyone who reads this will never know intimately the horror and heartbreak of losing a loved one to suicide. But for those who do, I hope to offer a bit of solace and hope. There is a way to survive and even to flourish.”

To learn more about Nuçi’s Space, go to www.nuci.org

Quill says: A Beautiful Here is one story that needs to be told and shared widely!

To learn more about A Beautiful Here: Emerging From The Overwhelming Darkness Of My Son's Suicide, please visit the author's website at: www.lindaphillips.org












BookReview - The Bookshop at Water's End


The Bookshop at Water’s End

By: Patti Callahan Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-58311-7
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 25, 2017

Patti Callahan Henry delivers a perfect blend of family secrets, tragedy and true friendship in her latest novel, The Bookshop at Water’s End.

It’s been decades since Bonny Blankenship visited Water’s End. She built a life of rewarding success as a doctor. She is married to an equally successful attorney. However, all great things have their moments of a downward spiral. Bonnie is at the headwaters of her unraveling. Her daughter, Piper, has miserably tanked her first year of college. To compound the situation, when her best friend’s brother Owen winds up in the ER (and she is the attending physician), little did Bonnie know the ‘reunion’ would be the catalyst to the possibility of her losing her license to practice medicine. The trifecta to her drama is the imminent implosion of her marriage of thirty years. All signs were pointing to a trip back to Water’s End.

Bonnie and Lainey were known as the Summer Sisters. Lainey McKay got as far away from Water’s End as possible. Petaluma, California was her home—a home where she married a great guy and had two beautiful children. When she received the call from her ‘summer sister’ with the request to meet her in Water’s End for ‘one last summer before she sold the place,’ she wasn’t sure she could accommodate. She was thirteen years old that last summer. It was also the last time she and her brother Owen would ever see their mother—a mother who left them and was never to be seen again.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to review a variety of wonderfully entertaining bodies of work. As an author, I consistently (and typically) approach fellow writers’ stories with the question: ‘what makes this one special?’ In Ms. Callahan’s case, it began for me with her dedication. She pays tribute to one of the most iconic authors of our time: Pat Conroy; ‘In honor of Pat Conroy October 26, 1945-March 4, 2016. Your life and work taught me both the power of story and of truth, and your death the same. You are and will be achingly missed for all time.’ In my opinion, truer words have rarely been written. I took pause after reading such a powerful dedication and knew I was in for a treat. With each word Ms. Henry had placed upon every page, there is purpose and intention. She beckons the attention of her audience and refuses to let go. She artfully builds plot from one scene to the next and infuses rich dialogue throughout. Her characters have depth; enabling her reader to engage and know these fictitious beings as one of their own in their respective circle of friends. Just like a Pat Conroy novel, as the pages dwindle in number, melancholy takes over - the end of the story is near. Ms. Henry nails the art of writing in The Bookshop at Water’s End. Outstanding read and I look forward to her next.

Quill says: The Bookshop at Water’s End takes a stronghold on its audience and vows to entertain from beginning, to middle, to end.





#BookReview - Walter and the Wallet


Walter and the Wallet

By: Billy Bloom
Illustrated By: Tanya Leonello
Publisher: Eifrig Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-1-63233-116-8
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 25, 2017

Okay, kids, did you ever have a bad day? Well, if you have not, you are either very lucky or living in a world created by Disney (which, believe me, is a place I would love to live.) However, since I know that everyone in life has witnessed a bad day (unfortunately), where it seemed like nothing at school seemed to go at all well, then each and every one of you will do what I did after reading this book: You will become friends with Walter Whippingdale.

Walter is from Connecticut (as am I), and he has had a bad day. What else could you call a day when everything bad happens, from the girl you have a crush on in school liking someone else to slipping on some mustard just as you are about to enjoy a hot dog? Not to mention, being mortified that on this day that pimple grew to the size of a volcano right on the end of your nose. Yes, this is a bad day for Walter, but...the day isn’t over.

Earlier that day, in Walter’s hometown, a wallet had been dropped in the street. The wallet was old, brown, yet brimming over with money. Walter, leaving school with his head hanging down is the one who finds this wallet, and with this find, he realizes he can purchase everything he wants at the local stores and turn this horrible day into a super one. But when he meets up with a somewhat frightened, definitely worried man talking to a policeman and begging the officer of the law to find his lost item – an item that without it he won’t be able to pay the bills, or feed his child – Walter has a decision to make.

To every parent out there, BUY this story. Not only because you are talking about a great tale that speaks of morals and values through a super-fun character, but also because the author has written this in rhyming verse (which I always praise because how difficult that is to do and keep doing throughout the book in order to hold the child’s interest). And don’t forget to take a look at the cool website (www.eifrigpublishing.com) to learn more about Walter.

Quill says: From awesome words to fun illustrations, the day you ‘find’ Walter will always be on your list as being one of the best days you’ve ever had.





#BookReview - Bring Her Home


Bring Her Home

By: David Bell
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-0399584442
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 25, 2017

Author David Bell does not disappoint in his latest thriller, Bring Her Home.

Bill Price and his fifteen-year-old daughter Summer don't exactly get along. Since Bill's wife died in a tragic accident almost two years ago, he and his teenage daughter have been doing more fighting than getting along. Still, life must go on, and it does, until the day Summer goes missing. When Summer and her best friend Haley disappear, Bill goes into full panic mode. The story opens as Bill arrives at the local hospital, relieved that the girls have been found. Sadly, Summer is in a coma and Haley is dead, both girls having been brutally beaten. Even though Summer can't speak, Bill refuses to leave his daughter's side.

With Summer's face swollen and bandaged due to the severe beating she was given, Bill is hard-pressed to recognize his daughter. And when he and his sister, who rushed to Bill's side when Summer was found, learn the truth about Summer and Haley, their world goes into a tailspin. The police have been digging into the girls' past and what they find doesn't please Bill. Has he been that out of touch with his teenage daughter? Bill goes from doting, somewhat calm father to panicked and almost out of control father in a snap. Things change quickly in the case and Bill doesn't like what he's finding...

I brought Bring Her Home with me on a recent vacation in the hopes that I'd find some time to read. Typically I get very little reading done while traveling but I gobbled up this book in just two days. The story took off in the first chapter and had me asking questions before I began chapter two. There were plenty of twists and turns that I'd expect from a David Bell novel, and just enough new questions kept popping up that I couldn't stop reading. While I did figure out "who dunnit" well before the end, it didn't diminish my enjoyment of Bring Her Home.

Quill says: Bring Her Home is a fast-moving story that will keep mystery fans satisfied.





#BookReview - Freefall


Freefall

By: Joshua David Bellin
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4814-9165-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 25, 2017

This fantastic new sci-fi/fantasy YA book most definitely sounds like the 'real' world right off the bat. From the very beginning, readers learn that the upper 1% of Earth - the privileged, if you will - are going to abandon planet Earth. Yes, Earth has been absolutely devastated and the only ones who will have to stay on Earth (now called: the Lowerworld) are the lesser beings who are most definitely rejects and certainly not good enough to colonize the pristine new planet with the 'upper crust' citizens. But love...can change everything.

In the Lowerworld, a video is created that crosses paths with the main character of this book, Cam Newell, and his two best friends, Adrian and Griff. These guys are spending their days in Colonization Preparation - doing things that are getting them trained and ready to make the new planet their home - when one of them hacks into a server and comes across this video. The Lowerworlders are basically protesting. They say "Otherworld Colonization," which is what only the top 1% of the populace gets to do, "is a right NOT a privilege." (Sound familiar?)

But it's not so much the words that call out to Cam; he becomes entranced by a girl on the video who he believes is talking directly to him. This is a girl "with golden eyes" who pierces his heart and buries herself in his soul. Her words, her beliefs - they open Cam's eyes to the unfairness of what's happening all around him.

But even understanding won't stop the battles that are coming. One thousand years in the future, Cam wakes up in his pod (that was supposed to 'shoot' him to the new planet) to find that he is all alone. He is trapped on a completely unknown planet that has its own hostilities and may just point their anger directly at him. Will he find Sofie again? Did he do something one thousand years ago that brought about this complete failure? Did his love for Sofie somehow sabotage humanity? You will have to read to find out.

The sci-fi/fantasy aspects of this tale are awesome. But most readers will also note that a great deal of the foundation of this tale is still very much happening in our own world in 2017. This author has managed to address social and cultural issues that we, as Earth's citizens, have been dealing with and fighting about since the beginning of time. And even though we have changed in some areas and grown in others, with each new decade bringing about more understanding of other cultures, there are still too many out there who will never fully accept the fact that there should never be a 'Lowerworld' and an 'Upperworld:' there should just be one world where everyone is offered the same chances at happiness and success.

Quill says: A great story that offers fun and fantasy, while teaching a moral path.






Sunday, July 23, 2017

Interview with Author Wanda E. Brunstetter @WBrunstetter

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Wanda E. Brunstetter, author of Amish Cooking Class: The Blessing

FQ: I was happy to have the opportunity to review The Blessing. The writing is fluid and I found it effortless to turn the pages. Given your background, have you ever thought of writing a memoir about your family history?

BRUNSTETTER: I have never considered writing a memoir about my family history, but it might be fun to do it sometime.

FQ: You have captured the essence of the beauty and simplicity of the Amish lifestyle and faith. I enjoy the positive and non-judgmental way you deliver your stories. Have you ever been challenged with a less than positive critique? If so, what was the occurrence and how did you address it?

BRUNSTETTER: I once had someone ask me why I always include God in my Amish stories. My answer was that God is the center of the Anabaptist faith, which the Amish belong to, and therefore He cannot be left out. The Amish are devout Christians and God comes first in their lives.

FQ: How difficult is it for the Amish community to adhere to their practices and beliefs in the world in which we live today? Are there any moments when you’ve pondered this concept with your Amish friends (and if so), how did he or she respond?

BRUNSTETTER: It’s not that difficult for most Amish I know to adhere to their practices and beliefs. Their belief in God and their plain lifestyle is deeply rooted and passed down from generation to generation. That being said, when an Amish young person who has not yet joined the church, goes through their running around years, they might veer from their traditional ways, but most (around 90 percent) end up setting modern things aside and joining the Amish church.

FQ: I enjoy the bonus of recipes at the end of each of your stories. Do you have a favorite? If so, which one (and why)?

BRUNSTETTER: One of my favorite recipes is Haystack, which we have eaten in many of our Amish friends' homes. The dish is a layering of several ingredients that may include cooked ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, rice, onions, broken saltine crackers or corn chips, melted cheese, and sour cream. It’s not only tasty, but quite filling.

FQ: With the immersion of our younger generation in the world of technology, how does this impact the younger generations within the Amish communities? Is there a situation that stands out in your mind (and if so), would you care to share the experience and outcome?

BRUNSTETTER: Many Amish young people who have not yet joined the church have cell phones, drive cars, and may partake in some things English people do. I also know several Amish young people who are on Facebook.

FQ: It is clear you have a love of putting pen to paper and placing your words along the way with intent. In reading your biography, I must say you have an interesting array of interests. I am particularly interested in your ventriloquism. Do you have your very own ‘Charlie McCarthy’ side-kick? How often do you practice this art? When did this come about?

BRUNSTETTER: I have several ventriloquist puppets I like to use. While I don’t spend much time practicing, my skill as a ventriloquist is never lost. I use it sometimes at speaking engagements, and especially enjoy sharing how to throw my voice when I’m speaking to Amish school children.

FQ: In line with question 6 and your interests - what is the rarest bird you have ever happened upon and where was it sighted?

BRUNSTETTER: I’m not sure how rare the bird is, but I’ve always been fascinated with the little zebra doves that are found in Hawaii. They are much smaller than the turtle or mourning doves we have here on the mainland. They also make a distinctive sound like no other dove I’ve heard here on the mainland.

FQ: I thank you for the pleasure of reading your work. Is the next in the series in the works? Are you able to share some highlights?

BRUNSTETTER: I just finished writing book 3 in my Amish Cooking Class series. The first book, The Seekers came out in Feb. 2017. The Blessing is the second book and will be out the first of August 2017. Book 3, The Celebration, will be out in Feb. 2018. In this series a young Amish woman who is an excellent cook, opens her home to several English people who want to learn how to cook. They all come from different walks of life, and each has some sort of problem that needs a bit of mentoring. I’m also working on a sequel to my co-authored novel, The Hawaiian Quilt. When my daughter-in-law, Jean, and I wrote the first book we thought it would be a stand-alone, but an idea came to us for a sequel, so that book (The Hawaiian Discovery) will be out in June 2018.

To learn more about Amish Cooking Class: The Blessing please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.















Friday, July 21, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Rich Zahradnik @rzahradnik

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer amy Lignor is talking with Rich Zahradnik, author of Lights Out Summer (A Coleridge Taylor Mystery)

FQ: Being a ‘visual’ writer is a talent that not many possess. In other words, some tell the tale but you have the ability to speak to the reader of NYC, the 70’s, and even the ‘Son of Sam’ hunt with such clarity and emotion that it all comes alive, almost as if the reader is there in The Big Apple. Can you tell readers a bit about where that passion and emotion come from in regards to your subject and location?

ZAHRADNIK: That passion and emotion comes not from the specific material, but from how I fell in love with stories when I was in fifth or sixth grade. I became fascinated not with just reading, but with what the writer was doing. I called it putting movies into my head. When I sit down to write, that’s what I want to do. Put my movie in your head. Everything I do when I write has the goal of creating what John Gardner called “the fictive dream,” which sounds more writerly than movies in your head. But it’s the same. I cut if material is getting in the way. I add if it’s needed. I do a fair amount of research, yet am very selective about which details I include. I want to carry you along. I want you turning pages.

FQ: You have a background as a journalist (working in the industry for 30 years), so the question to be asked, is Coleridge Taylor a muse? Such as, do you come up with the stories, characters, etc., from your own real life and what you personally covered?

Author Rich Zahradnik
ZAHRADNIK: Short answer: no. I covered cops early in my career, but not as long or in as much depth as Taylor. My career experience means I don’t have to research the mechanics of reporting. At the same time, I strive to put in just enough so it’s interesting—not a journalism lesson (see my answer above). People I’ve met have certainly informed characters, or parts of characters, in the stories, but that comes as much from observing everyday life as my former work life. The main plot of each book, that comes from my imagination.

FQ: If you had to say, is there one magazine and/or newspaper that is truly missed by the journalists out there? One that perhaps gave it their all to tell the facts and deliver the stories of the basic ‘unknowns’ out there and is no longer around?

ZAHRADNIK: I’d say the problem is the many newspapers we’ve lost. Competition better insured all the facts came out. Bloggers in basements don’t do the same job.

FQ: For all the dog people out there, of which there are many, is Mason ‘the dumbest Lab in New York’ a real pooch?

ZAHRADNIK: Jake, a chocolate lab, was our dog for ten years until he died a year ago January. We adopted him at three-ish (Pet Rescue wasn’t sure of his age). Mason and Jake have a lot in common, including not-the-highest dog IQ and a tail that never stops—so there’s one character from real life that made it into my books.

FQ: Considering your educational and career background, can you tell us your feelings towards the online news world? Is having all this online news more efficient for the world out there than it was when it came via only print? What, to you, are the drawbacks of the online world?

ZAHRADNIK: I started one online news site—CNNfn.com— and worked on others. Online news is more efficient; it’s faster. It’s not great for long-form stories. It’s not great for investigative journalism. Those are two areas where we’re losing out. I worry most about local news in towns and villages and counties outside the big markets. The mayor of New York City will always be quoted. Bloggers in basements won’t cover your local village’s planning board. You’ve never needed a degree—Taylor doesn’t have one—or a license to be a journalist. Thank you, First Amendment. Online opens reporting up to many more people. That’s great. But agreed standards of professionalism have been chucked overboard by many websites. Facts are important, as Taylor would tell you. Too many ‘news’ websites wouldn’t know a fact if it ran them over in the street.



FQ: Coleridge Taylor is one of those characters that deserve a TV spot. Because others are saying ‘so long’ to the screen (i.e., Temperance “Bones” Brennan), is it possible in the future to see Coleridge Taylor in his own series? Are you looking in that direction eventually? If so, have you ever thought about the actor who would be perfect for the job?

ZAHRADNIK: Sure, I’d love a TV series. Getting Hollywood’s attention is tough. I always say that A&E or Amazon would make a good home, because they work hard to get the look of a place and time right. I like a younger Mark Ruffalo for the job--which isn’t really possibly, given we can’t make Mark younger and he doesn’t do TV. He’s rumpled enough for Taylor. The Taylor books would make a better TV series than a movie.

FQ: Do you have thoughts in regards to delving into any other genre in the future?

ZAHRADNIK: I’ve completed a thriller set in the present day called The Causeway and a middle grade science fiction novel Samuel Tripp and the Timer's Watch. I’m working on a present-day mystery set among the Russian immigrants in Brooklyn. I will soon set that aside to work on book five in the Coleridge Taylor series.

FQ: If you could have dinner with one author or character, who would it be and what question would be at the top of your list to ask them?

ZAHRADNIK: I had a great, long dinner with Ray Bradbury many years ago, so while he might have been first, I’d now choose Dickens. Charles, tell me which is your best novel and why.

To learn more about Lights Out Summer (A Coleridge Taylor Mystery) please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.