By: Jonathan Moore
Publication Date: January 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 27, 2017
Jonathan Moore takes his audience on an intriguing journey of mystery and suspense in his current thriller, The Dark Room.
Seasoned SFPD homicide inspector, Gavin Cain, is working a cold-case. He is at the graveyard and while exhuming the body of the victim to his case he receives a call from his Lieutenant. It would seem San Francisco’s mayor, Harry Castelli, is being blackmailed and Cain is ordered to hand the exhumation off to his partner, Grassley. The Lieutenant has bigger plans for Cain and informs him the helicopter will be there momentarily to retrieve him and transport him to San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza.
When Cain arrives at Civic Center Plaza, he’s still in the dark and isn’t sure why he was the one to draw the lucky straw to be there. He is greeted by Inspector Nagata who informs him his FBI contact will be Karen Fisher. It was late at night and Cain was getting increasingly frustrated given the lack of information he was receiving. As he makes his way into the reception lounge, the only source of light was a small, glass-shaded lamp on the receptionist’s desk. Not waiting for further instructions, Cain takes it upon himself to cross the room and enter the mayor’s office. Bent over his phone, Harry Castelli glances up and covers the mouthpiece to the phone. Castelli hangs up the phone and points to one of the two chairs. He looks at Cain, “...you’re Cain—Inspector Cain...?” Castelli elaborates and explains to Cain that he asked for him by name. “...I wanted the best, and that’s why you’re here...” Little did Cain know at that moment that those words were a mere tip to the iceberg of the tangled web he was about to jump into.
Sadly, I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Mr. Moore’s previous titles. However, after finishing the likes of The Dark Room, I will waste no time in stepping back to do so. This author is the real deal when it comes to not only knowing how to write for his intended audience, but seeing the clear path he must take from beginning to end in delivering the quintessential thriller. His prose is flawless and the set up for each scene is superb. He complements his staging with eloquent and succinct, yet powerful sentences that paint a distinct picture of the moment at hand. One sentence that resonated with me was: “...He crossed the entry hall and entered a room that didn’t seem to have any purpose except to be large…” I was barely 50 pages into this read when I came upon this sentence - I literally paused and went back to read it a couple of times I was so taken with it. This is the signature of an author who, in my opinion, values his word placement (and uses it in a way to maintain the attention of his audience). I thoroughly enjoyed this read and must say he packed some great hooks and surprises throughout. Bravo Mr. Moore. I look forward to reading your next body of work.
Quill says: The Dark Room will grip you from its onset and take you on an adventurous and intriguing journey throughout.
By: Laura Wolfe
Illustrated By: Caroline Andrus
Publisher: Fire and Ice YA
Publication Date: March 2017
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: March 23, 2017
After breaking nearly every rule last summer during her time at Foxwoode’s Riding Academy, Brynlei was not sure that she would even be able to make it back for another year but fortunately she was welcomed back. For besides the fact that she broke several significant rules she did solve the mystery of Caroline’s disappearance and now Caroline is actually a Foxwoode instructor. So, even though last year was a rough three weeks for everyone involved, Brynlei is extremely thankful that she has been given another chance to ride at this prestigious camp.
This year the only thing that Brynlei is going to focus all her attention on is winning the top rider award. She is determined to not let her thoughts wander to anything besides perfecting her riding skills and expanding her horsemanship talents. Luckily her good friend Anna from last year has returned but also the spoiled rider Alyssa has returned with her amazing horse Bentley. Brynlei, however, is intent that not even Alyssa will foil her goal of achieving the top rider status.
When Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode she first notices that construction is going on outside of the current riding arena, and she is quickly informed that a brand new indoor arena and barn are being added to Foxwoode. Excited about the potential for a new barn but worried that the extra noise may cause her distraction, Brynlei silently hopes that she doesn’t let this affect her riding. To her relief Brynlei is paired with Jett, the same horse she fell in love with last year and she begins to settle into her lessons. However, despite her efforts to focus only on her riding, strange things start happening that eventually Brynlei cannot ignore.
The strange happenings begin after Brynlei finds an old fashioned doll at the edge of the construction site covered half way up with dirt. Even though this doll in an inanimate object Brynlei has a distinct feeling that through her blue eyes this doll is trying to tell her something very important. This is when the unnerving events start to happen, for Brynlei begins to notice that her bathroom supplies keep being dumped all over the floor, someone is changing the time on the clocks, and she sees strange sightings in the woods of a young girl in a cotton dress. Then to top off the strangeness Brynlei discovers a picture in the tack room of a little girl holding the same doll that Brynlei found at the construction site, but this picture is dated in the year 1965. Even though Brynlei wanted nothing to worry about besides riding she is not sure how long she can ignore the creepy things happening around the camp before they overtake her attention.
After reading Laura Wolfe’s first book in this series, Trail of Secrets, I was excited to get the chance to check out this next installment because the first one was so fun to read. The storyline for this book was actually even better for me than the first, as the supernatural aspects were more prominent for this second novel. In the first book there was a realistic answer to all of the mysterious things that happened, but for this one there is some wonderfully intriguing supernatural characters - which really added a delightful aspect to the story.
Quill says: Another great installment in the Dark Horse series that was exciting to read.
By: Bree Record
Publisher: Page Pubishing
Publication Date: September 2016
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: March 19, 2017
Come along with author Bree Record as she takes you on an eye-opening journey of her tumultuous life as a transgender person in the book The Road to Transition. While a critical aspect of this story may have taken forty days to create, it is the fifty five years of this author’s life, (a life that was often felt as mere existence, rather than truly being alive) that this book also focuses upon. These years were repeatedly filled with unbearable emotional torment that is descriptively written in such extreme detail that the reader can feel and understand what it is to be living in a body that was assigned one gender at birth, but which your mind thoroughly believes is inaccurate, and should be the opposite gender.
It is strongly advised to carefully read the author's prologue, and her first diary entry where she explains that this book is not just a memoir about a past life that was filled with crippling gender dysphoria. More importantly, the other part of her narrative is taken directly, and unedited, from journal entries that were created in the forty days prior to her gender reassignment surgery. The author openly admits that the wording of these journal entries are a bit awkward at times, and while it is true that mining passages directly from the source can indeed yield a plethora of raw emotion that may otherwise be missed if it were to be overly edited, this book could use a bit of fine tuning - particularly because The Road to Transition has such vividly descriptive details and moves from chapters discussing the author’s past starting from childhood all the way to the present day some five decades later interspersed with equally raw present day diary entries. Perhaps splitting this book into two separate sections starting with the author’s past living as a transgender person, and then moving onto the second part where the author embarks on her road to transition surgery by including her forty days of journal entries would make this good memoir clearer and even more impactful. Readers may also become a little bit confused at times when the author refers to her past selves as two different names, one being born as Sarah and the other being Steven. To clarify this, (and ultimately prove how disjointed the author’s life truly was most of her life) the author truly felt that she was born a female and named herself Sarah for the first twelve years of her life despite the fact that her parents named her Steven.
After reading The Road to Transition and looking back and ruminating upon the book’s cover one can truly empathize with the author embarking on a journey that will ultimately lead to transition. Readers will notice that the bottom of the picture depicts a desert road that is rocky and contains a broken road sign with the word “Transition” written on it. This is much like the broken and rocky life that the author led for most of her life. Proceeding up the road is a hazy greenish area in which the transition road leads directly into tall snow-capped mountains - perhaps this could be viewed as the unknown oasis in the future leading up to the better, more beautiful world that the author will be able to live in once the transition is complete.
Quill says: While The Road to Transition is a winding course filled with many bumps for both the author and the reader, it is filled with emotionally charged passages that makes it a good read for not only the LGBTQ community, but for anyone who wants to truly understand what it is like to be transgender.
By: L.D. Critchton
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: March 2017
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: March 23, 2017
As her Volkswagen Beetle breaks down, we find Emma Fletcher back in her hometown of Stonefall - the place she spent her entire life trying to get away from. After growing up with an alcoholic mother and a past she would rather not remember, she returns only out of necessity - it's the only place she could go. After years of not returning home and every intention of leaving as soon as she can, an old childhood friend rides up on his motorcycle. Desperate to not be remembered, she pretends she does not know him and hesitates when he offers to send for a tow truck. Not only can she not afford it, but she knows it will be Tristan behind the wheel, Mateo’s best friend and by far the best looking man in their small town. Emma, too tired to argue anymore, finally relents and Mateo calls Tristan, telling him to hurry as it’s going to rain and he can’t leave a beautiful girl in the rain. Within ten minutes, Tristan arrives and sees Emma, and upon seeing her, old childhood memories of her flood back into his mind. If he thought the reunion was going to be a warm one, he was sadly mistaken, as she is carrying a secret far darker than he could have ever imagined.
Upon arriving at her mother’s house, she finds that her mother may have stopped drinking, much to her surprise, but Emma refuses to get her hopes up, as she has had them broken before. Not long after settling in, Emma's best friend, Marley drops in. Surprised to see her but not surprised Mateo told Marley she was home, Emma comes up with the excuse that she needed to take some time to settle in, and that she’s sorry she didn’t tell her she was coming home. There has been a lot she hasn’t told Marley, and she certainly doesn’t intend to now. After avoiding Marley and Stonefall for three years, when Marley asks her to go to a party with her, Emma is reluctant, but her guilt drives her to go. Mateo and Tristan are there, and Tristan is just as reluctant as Emma to be there. Tristan and Emma end up spending time there together, and this is when Tristan gets the first glimpse that something terrible has happened to Emma, and he wants to help her in any way he can - even though he has deep-rooted problems of his own past to deal with. Both not ready for a relationship or love, they come to find it and together, work through their past problems and tragedies in order to overcome and slay their own dragons, learning that the past can be let go and the present can be better than ever before.
Not only is The Enchantment of Emma Fletcher completely suspenseful and captivating, but it will leave you needing a second volume. This is the type of book that you could easily read a little at a time, but you will dread putting it down. Not only is it well-written and descriptive, but it also deals with all too relevant issues in a manner that is taken seriously and gives the reader hope for the future. The way the internal conflicts were handled and tied in with the other characters and the rest of the story was clearly and easily understood, while not sacrificing the serious material. The lessons that were taught in The Enchantment of Emma Fletcher were deep and thought-provoking, not preachy and cliche. It was refreshing to read a book with this subject matter and not feel awkward or as though it was too lightly discussed. It was taken as seriously as it should have been without going overboard and left you with the feeling that no matter what you have been through, no matter how it altered your life, you have the power to slay your dragons and control your future. This was a beautifully tied-together love story where the female conquered her demons thanks to taking control of her own story, not the man saving the damsel.
Quill says: The Enchantment of Emma Fletcher is a book you will want to spend the entire day devouring, as it’s impossible to put down.
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Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Diana Rowe, author of Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love FQ: It is obvious that you have a deep love for our Lord and Savior. Would you share with our readers a bit about how he came into your life? Was it through your parents’ love? A special teacher? Or ???
ROWE: I must admit that I do love the Lord. My dear mother introduced me to Him when I was a young child. Every morning we had worship at home before leaving for school and my mother always reminded us (my siblings and I) to “make Jesus your best friend and you will have a friend for life.” Fortunately for me, I took her words literally. So, although
Jesus is my Savior and so much more ultimately, He is my friend. Additionally, I attended Christian schools so the Christian values I was taught at home were reinforced in school each day. Consequently, as I grew older, I learned to love Him more. In my early childhood, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was baptized. It has been an amazing journey walking through this life with Him.
FQ: When did you start working with children to grow their faith? What was your initial reaction to what they knew and what they wanted to learn?
ROWE: I started working with children to grow their faith when I was a teenager helping out in Sunday School classes. One of the many questions I was asked was “Does Jesus really listen to little children?” The same child wanted to know “How can I get Jesus to stay in my heart? I was thrilled to learn what was going on in their little mind. I did my best to share my childhood conversations that I had with Jesus and He listened to me. So I assured the children that Jesus will listen to them and that He will also speak to them because He loves children. I shared the words of Luke 18:16 where Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I wanted the children to understand that Jesus wants them close to Him even in His kingdom. Also, I shared with them that all they had to do was ask Jesus to come into their hearts and He would. When they learned how much He loved and wanted them close to Him, they were very receptive to Him.
FQ: You clearly want to share your love for Jesus with others, particularly children. Have you always wanted to write books for youngsters to help them get closer to Jesus?
ROWE: Yes, I have always wanted to write books to help youngsters get closer to Jesus. It is amazing how so many children and young people that I have worked with believe that Jesus does not view them as significant. Thus, I wanted to do something about that. I wanted them to see Jesus as a person and also as a God who loves them and has the patience to deal with all their issues without condemning them. My books allowed me to share that message with youngsters and adults alike.
FQ: It was nice to re-connect with Anna and her grandmother. Are they based on anybody you know?
ROWE: Yes, indeed. The character of Grandma reminds me of my mother. My mother is everyone else’s mother because she embraces my friends as well as the strangers around. I also remember sitting at my mother’s feet listening to stories and testimonies of how God cared for her over the years. Anna is reminiscence of me. I always had a lot of questions
as a child and absolutely loved learning about Jesus and sharing His love with others. There is something powerfully heart-warming about an older person pouring out the love of God into the next generation. That is a tremendous blessing.
FQ: The questions that Luke asks Anna’s grandmother – are these questions that children have asked you? What is the most frequent question you get from youngsters?
ROWE: Some of the questions have been asked by different youngsters over the years. Others were some that I asked growing up (as I was reminded by family members). Overall, the questions are in the minds of many children who might feel a bit shy to ask and there are adults who struggle with some of those questions as well.
One of the most frequent question asked by both children and adults, “Is Jesus really God?” This is why I took the time to answer that in details in my second book, “Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love.” I wanted all my readers (children and adults) to understand how Jesus is both human and God at the same time.
FQ: Luke asks “What is Sabbath” and Grandmother’s response is “...God created [it] for people to stop working and rest while worshiping...” These days, however, stores stay open, kids sports games are held, and people seem to ignore the Sabbath. How do you think we can bring people back to church and Christ?
ROWE: I think we can bring people back to church and Christ by helping them to understand that the Sabbath was made for humans. Our world is fast paced and that can add stress to the daily life. People are moving 24 hours 7 days per week and that is not healthy. So, God in His wisdom created the Sabbath Day as noted in Genesis 2:2, 3. Therefore, He wants all people to pause and rest their body, mind, and spirit for their own health and wellness.
Demonstrating the love of God in the way we treat others can also help them to come to Christ and church. If someone is overwhelmed, we can help them by sharing a meal or volunteer to watch the children or help in the area of their needs. People don’t always need a verbal invitation to come to Christ and church, they simply need to see His love in action as in the story of the “Good Samaritan.”
FQ: You frequently quote from scripture in the story. How do you decide what quotes to use?
ROWE: The scriptures in the story came as a result of studying the Bible and asking the Lord what He wants me to write and how because I want everything to revolve around Him and who He is. I also want my readers to search the scriptures for themselves and see how it inspired the story.
FQ: I mentioned the lovely illustrations in my review. Are you the illustrator? If so, would you tell us a bit about your process? If you hire an illustrator, would you tell our readers how you go about working with her/him? Do you discuss each drawing in detail? What colors you want, what you want shown in the picture, etc.?
ROWE: I do rough sketches and some drawings, but I do not consider myself an illustrator. However, the illustrations are very vivid in my mind so I am able to write in details what each picture should look like. While I write my story, I envisioned the characters and the settings with all the details. Then, I describe in details (pages) all of the colors, all the shapes of every object, all the characters, their clothing, and facial expressions, and the different settings. I wrote more details for the illustrations than the length of
the story because the person I hired did not know what I wanted and was not familiar with the Bible stories. It was a tedious process and I often had to break down my explanations again after the first draft and provide more ideas of examples of what I want.
FQ: Grandmother tells the children about how we sometimes have to work to pay our bills, but other times we should work for the joy of helping our neighbors without the promise of payment. This is so important and a hard lesson for children to learn. Do you have any suggestions to help parents teach this lesson to their children?
ROWE: Volunteering is a great way to show others that we care about them. Parents can teach their children this lesson by helping them to see the joy in serving others at home and around the community. Also, parents may want to explain the difference between their careers that has an income attached to it and the many things they do for others with no payments
attached. It is good to remind children that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In the act of giving, there is a blessing for the giver.
Also, compassion must be understood as more than a feeling; it must also be expressed in literal kindness to others. This will give parents the opportunity to get the children involved in small family projects centered on helping a person or a group. Whenever I want to start one of these projects, I would ask the child/children to find someone or think of someone that we can help in the upcoming days, weeks, or months and let them take ownership of the steps to accomplish the goal of helping.
FQ: I enjoyed the section where you talked about Jesus loving nature and how he would go for walks to enjoy the plants and animals that God had created. What made you decide to include this in the story?
ROWE: Whenever I consider the works of creation that God made, I know that He loves nature. The intricate details of the plants and animals that we try so hard to understand had to be created by a God who is a master designer of originals. I want my readers to know that God loves His entire creation. When He sent His Son (Jesus) naturally, Jesus would take
time to walk among the trees and relax for a moment. Jesus came to this earth and lived as a human being, I know for sure that He would enjoy the animals and plants just like we do. In fact, that is a lesson for us to enjoy the beauty we see in nature because it is a good way to de-stress. As noted in my book “Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love,” “Jesus was really human” and His life and work is an example for us to follow.
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Rev. Dr. Mushtaq H. Jaafri, author of Go with the Flow! A Way to Blissful Living FQ: You are the head of the International Mind-Conditioning Society. Could you tell readers a bit about this organization and what it does for people to alter their lives in a positive?
JAAFRI: I believe that you are referring to what I mention on page 40 of this book. In an effort to establish this cultural innovation, I founded the International Mind-Conditioning Society) IMS for short).
It is devoted to the teachings of the working principle of the human mind. How many spiritual teachings do you know of that openly declare that mind is your enemy or attempt to reveal the five parts of the mind that we must bypass to free the Soul . The human mind will go against you in your spiritual pursuits.
The only sure way for people wishing to alter their lives in a positive manner is to come into alignment with the Spirit and this book will assist you in converging your Spirit back into alignment.
Lastly, I am currently looking for a few select like-minded people to join me in the capacity of the board of directors in this California based organization. Will love to hear from them. Email: email@example.com. FQ: How do you feel about the ever-increasing world of science and technology? Do you feel it hinders the spiritual paths of people in 2017? If so, in what ways?
JAAFRI: Amy, this is an excellent question and does go right back into the core components of what hinders the spiritual paths of people in 2017. It refers to what I talked about on page 24 of the book about a highly educated director of one of the world’s largest healthcare organizations in California.
Here’s a direct quote from this highly intelligent and intellectual professional.
“There is no profit in curing the body if in the process we destroy the Soul.” I asked myself, "How can you destroy something that is eternal and God loves?"
As I mention in this book, Souls exist because loves them! They are as real as the air we breathe into live on earth. Many of us are not still aware of the fact that making souls an everyday reality is a spiritual purpose we all need to fulfill. There is this thing inside of us that stops us from knowing what is going on in life or who we really are?
The point I’m trying to convey here is that no matter how intelligent or how intellectual you maybe, you may not have a clue as to who you are or why you were born in this physical body.
With the ever-increasing world of science and technology, we are still doing the same destructive things that we did in the Adam and Eve days. But, as notice in the message that there is hope, because science and technology are at least confirming the existing Soul.
You see, the director of this world’s largest healthcare organization is a ‘man-of science’ and not a ‘man-of religion’. For him to even say the ‘word’ Soul—is a clear science that Science and technology and spirit will embrace spirituality soon.
FQ: When it comes to the “wheel of 84,” are there any key elements you could suggest to those who wish to find a way to stop that process earlier?
Author Rev. Dr. Mushtaq H. Jaafri
JAAFRI: Amy, this is another wonderful question you have asked. Like most of us, I used to believe that when we die, that’s it. One life, one time, and then heaven and hell. Genius people and people with disability were the quick examples of the influence of the wheel of 84.
You ask for the key elements that anyone can use to find a way to stop the wheel of 84 earlier, but I can only suggest what has worked for me. So—here are the five key elements that helped me stop the process.
Recognize the fact, that we are all here because we did something the way we were not suppose to do.
We did not attempt to learn the awakening process which is the separation of thinking and awareness. Thinking of the mind, and our awareness of of it.
Take the Thirty-Day Mind-Theory Challenge. With practice and persistence, you’ll soon open-up sort of a passageway between the soul and the third-eye.
Just observe the mind-activity until subsides and eventually leave the mind. The moment you become aware of yourself as soul , not in just theory but a reality in your daily life, you have learned to stop the wheel of 84.
But, the best element to stop the wheel of 84 for me has been to seek God in every moment of my life. I call this process ‘stalking the Spirit.’
As I go about my daily business I show love for God by constantly repeating this affirmation to myself: THANK YOU GOD. I also stalk death by rehearsing my last words: “I did the best, God.”
FQ: You are involved in the teachings/seminars of various churches. Can you explain a bit what you teach in regards to transcendence?
JAAFRI: Amy, you have asked a question that is very dear to my heart. As I mention in the introduction of this book that for most of my adult life, I’ve sensed a part of me was non-physical and longs to communicate with me, but I didn’t understand it. I thought I was going crazy.
I remember once I told about my condition to the head of my graduate study college, he said I needed to see a ‘head-shrink’ (whatever that means). You can see how much the most educated people know about spirituality.
He had no clue as to what in the heck I was talking about. The funny is that he was the head of one of the largest vocational colleges in California. He was highly intelligent and intellectual book knowledge, but spiritually, you know what I mean.
It wasn’t until I joined an organization called the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA), and became a student of its teachings that I began to learn that beyond your mind, body and emotion there is the Soul.
Soul transcendence is a journey of traveling into and above the consciousness of Soul—and into oneness with God—where you see things in perspective, attune to Spirit and releases karma.
Soul transcendence is an active process and a positive state-of-being. It lights up a path for you to become established in Soul consciousness and beyond, where you are freed from creating more karma, and can stop the wheel of 84.
(The following is a direct excerpt from the MSIA. Please log on to www.msia.org.)
FQ: Turning to more negative side, perhaps, when it comes to “going with the flow,” have you found those who cannot find that “quiet mind” or simply don’t believe in it? If so, what do you do or suggest?
JAAFRI: As you well know, it’s very common to fear the unknown. People would say, is it natural to control your own mind? Could it be dangerous to stop the mind? What if you die when you stop thinking?
For me, it began back in the fall of 1977 during my first major turning-point in my life. I stumbled upon the secret a ‘quiet mind” by reading the world famous book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Napoleon Hill said that I could control my own mind simply by controlling my own thinking. I believed him and devoted 39+ years trying to prove him wrong but I could not because it was one of our God-given power and the privilege of being able to control the mind and direct to whatever end we choose. Just think of it!
That is when I stumbled upon the concept of a mind without thought. That is when I coined the phrase go with the flow to express a state-of-mind known as blissful living. So—to answer your question about people who cannot find that “quiet mind” or simply don’t believe it?
It reminds me what my daddy used to say: “You can lead a horse to water but, you cannot make him drink.” In all honesty, that is one of the main reasons for establishing the International Mind-Conditioning Society (IMS) where people like you and me can start a ‘shift’ in human consciousness about this new awakening through a process I explain on page 39 on this book.
If one hundred monkeys can do it, surely, one hundred human can do it too.
FQ: This country has hit a turbulent time in the world of politics. Do you have an opinion on how, perhaps, people could be helped and calmed by spiritual teachings?
JAAFRI: As I read this question, suddenly, a famous quote by a world’s famous poet by the name RUMI, flashed into my mind. He said: “This too shall pass.” In the Bible we read “Let God make perfect in you.”
It’s very true, this country has hit a turbulent time in the world. The worse I’ve seen during the pass half a century I’ve been here. The whole world used to look up to this country. In my humble opinion, the only way it could be helped and clamed is the way we learn to stop the wheel of 84.
Here is a direct quote from the MSIA founder John-Roger, DDS that could help in this country’s turbulent time and help calm by keeping in mind these three things as we go through life, and they are our guidelines:
Don’t hurt yourself and don’t hurt others.
Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Use everything for your uplifting, growth, and learning.
(Fulfilling Your Spiritual Promise by MSIA founder John-Roger).
FQ: You mentioned Emerson in your dedication. One of the questions readers like to have answered by an author is: If there was one person (historical or president-day) you could sit and have lunch with and discuss everything from writing to the spiritual, who would it be and why? Is there one specific question you would like to ask them?
JAAFRI: The name that comes to my mind right now is Dr. Paul Kaye, DSS, the President of MSIA who encouraged me to train for becoming the MSIA Seminars Leader hosting the Soul Awareness Seminar in my local community to teach people in regard to Soul transcendence.
Dr. Kaye took John-Roger’s lecture and skillfully recognized the book: Spiritual Warrior—The Art of Spiritual Living. The funny thing is that for thirty-nine plus years, I’ve been living the Spiritual Warrior life-style and wrote my new book.
By: Patrick Oster
Publisher: Padraig Press
Publication Date: April 2017
Review By: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: March 2017
Aloysius Wachter, whom everyone calls Vic, isn’t your typical rich kid. Although he does receive an allowance from his mother and lives in a loft paid for by her, he does have a job, which she forced him to take. With the threat of taking away his allowance, his mother found him a job working with his cousin Danny as a watchman at the Organization for Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC). Here he works as a watchman viewing numerous security cameras across Chicago. With this job, he also gets to utilize his skills as a hacker.
Shortly after he starts his new job, Vic's first assignment comes in. The security cameras have picked up a man lying on the ground - a man who is presumed dead. Vic must find out when and how the man got there and discover if anyone was with him. While Vic is looking for any bystanders, he finds a woman who was with the man before he collapsed. Vic brings this information to Danny who brings it to their supervisor. Vic is then tasked with trying to find this young woman. He uses his hacking skills to find out who this woman is and because she reminds him of his ex-girlfriend Portia, whom he hasn’t gotten over, he immediately becomes attached to her and wants to do everything possible to help. Again using his hacking skills, he is ultimately able to clear her name. Through his sleuthing, he finds that he has a real knack for detective work.
After his first assignment, Vic decides that he likes this kind of detective work. By watching the cameras, he has two other robbery cases come in that he helps solve. He later decides that he wants to do this kind of work - unofficially. While looking and waiting for his first client, he speaks with his mother who lets him know that her bank account has been hacked and she is completely broke. Vic knows that this is the first case he has to take on.
After hacking for some information, he realizes that he needs some help finishing the job. He decides to bring in Vassily, one of his hacker friends. Vassily, who used to be deep into Russian hacking, also has his girlfriend Michelle, who used to do some hacking for the Chinese, get involved as well. As Vic, Vassily and Michelle dig deeper, some of Vassily’s old hacker acquaintances seem to be involved. This gives Vassily a new sense of revenge. Soon Vic, Vassily and Michelle must put it all on the line in order to get the money back and take down some enemies.
The Hacker Chronicles is an interesting read. It provides details about hacking and how it can be used for good instead of always for bad. Although it does get into the details of hacking and what is involved, it isn’t too difficult for someone without any hacking knowledge to understand. There is some detective work in it as well. It will walk you through, using the scenario with Vic’s mother, what happens once something is hacked and all the details that go into covering it up. Also it shows you just how susceptible one may be when it comes to personal information and how it is stored. This book was fun to read, but is was also a bit frightening to see how easy it is to hack into someone's computer or phone. It will definitely teach you to be more aware of your surroundings.
Quill says: If you know about hacking or want to learn about it, in a book that adds in some detective work to keep the story moving along, this is the one for you.
For more information on The Hacker Chronicles, please visit the author's website at: www.patrickoster.com
By: Rev. Dr. Mushtaq H. Jaafri
Publication Date: February 2017
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 13, 2017
When it comes to the arena of self-help/inspirational books, there are far more than 84 of them. However, this actually helps you understand the “wheel of 84,” among other practices, and how to achieve a spiritual mindset.
What does this mean, exactly? It is a fact that in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi there is an object called a “lakh” that represents one hundred thousand units – this represents (or keeps track of) the 84 hundred thousand rounds of birth and death that a soul passes through. However, this particular book offers ‘inside information’ on how to best attain a life that allows you to bypass this constant wheel.
In this highly informative book, Rev. Dr. Jaafri begins with an introduction to what the soul really is and why we should acknowledge and understand the fact that a human being is not just a physical being or physical body. We are actually all souls or spirits that are not just a theory that is written about in religious texts: our souls are a reality.
It was this informed man who felt as if his own spirit was trying to communicate with him for quite some time during his life. He went through stages of feeling “odd,” perhaps even a little crazy – as we all do when we suggest to others a reality that they may not believe in or see a need for. Joining various spiritual organizations on his quest for the inner soul, Rev. Dr. Jaafri went on to learn more, communicate and actually “see” that inner spirit that made up a substantial part of him.
This book speaks about what a soul really is and how to identify with it. How we can attain a “quiet mind” that allows us to accept our souls which then allow us to “go with the flow” and accept who we are in reality. Readers learn about this man’s first look at America and how he went on to walk his own spiritual path – not with blind faith, mind you, but a path that an individual can test and “try on for size.” He speaks about having faith in daily experiences and how to know that you are on the right spiritual path. Educationally, he goes step-by-step through the mental exercises that can be done to monitor your thoughts, as well as offering answers to questions regarding the five parts of the human mind outlined in his book. He also delves into the human being’s three personalities: ego self, personal self and spiritual self.
In summary, this author offers up an easy-to-understand, and even easier way to practice and accept, how to allow your spirit to be a large part of your daily life and your daily adventures.
Quill says: Among the many titles on the market in this genre, this is one that is extremely deserving of a place on your bookshelf.
For more information on Go with the Flow! A Way to Blissful Living, please visit the book's website at: gowiththeflowstory.com
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Susan Count, author of Mary's Song - 2017 First Place Winner in the Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Best Animal - Children's/YA category.
FQ: You've written two award winning books about horses - Mary's Song and Selah’s Sweet Dream. Can readers expect more installments in the Dream Horse Adventures series?
COUNT: How did you know? Yes, I'm working on a continuation of Selah's story. She has a knack for finding adventure and it's fun to ride along with her. Plus on my website; there is a free short story that was to be the beginning of a collection, but might turn into a novel instead.
FQ: What do you think is so magical about horses that attracts children (especially girls) to them?
COUNT: It would be easier to explain where pixie dust comes from. This world is full of wonders that draw our hearts to God above. Equines are a special wonder and blessing. Perhaps children are more open to an almost spiritual connection with them. On one hand the horse can be wild, powerful and dangerous. On the other, it can submit gently to the smallest child. To ride a horse is magical experience. For that moment in time, the world withdraws from your mind. In the best of relationships, the horse will respond to the most subtle of cues and it inspires awe. I've heard a horse knows what you're thinking before you think it. They seem to know your heart as well. A nicker will melt your heart like chocolate in the warm sun.
FQ: Can you tell us a little bit about your illustrator, Ruth Sanderson, and why did you choose her to design your cover?
COUNT: Ruth Sanderson is nothing short of amazing. She did the covers for the Black Stallion paperbacks. I've long admired her exceptional horse art, but her princesses and fairies are exquisite and well worth a side trip to her website.
FQ: Do you currently own any horses? How has your past experiences with horses influenced your writing?
COUNT: My passion is forest trail riding. I have a six-year-old, precocious, Rocky Mountain gelding who indulges me for two hours worth of riding. After that he bites my stirrup. I think he's concerned he might be losing weight.
FQ: In what ways do you believe Mary’s Song is a unique story that sets it apart from other children's horse books?
COUNT: Perhaps Mary's Song is unique in that there are layers of conflict and threads of drama that can take the reader deeper if they are willing. It's a glimpse through a window of time when life for children was more innocent.
FQ: Are any of the characters in Mary’s Song based on real people, or horses?
COUNT: Miss Charlotte Dann, the librarian, was loosely based on my grandmother. Like the character, my grandmother was elegant, refined, and feminine. She worked in a charming library with wood floors and wood shelving in Falls Village, Connecticut. She put Black Beauty and The Black Stallion in my hands.
FQ: I see that you've been interviewed by numerous book blogs, what is one question (and answer) that you haven't been asked, and would love to tell your readers?
COUNT: What is the most extraordinary experience you've ever had with a horse?
When I bought an eleven-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter grey mare who had already had 11 owners, I promised her I would never sell her. She was a powerhouse of a horse for being 14.2 hands high. She was like riding a steam engine. Bold and fearless, and I adored her. At 33 years old, I had to have her put down as she was suffering from reoccurring colic episodes and had gotten to the point where she refused to eat even chopped apples. The vet gave her the first sedation, then took the lead rope. When he gave the second injection, she nickered to me. The most tender moment I've ever experienced with a horse. All the love I'd given her was returned to me in that moment.
By: Rick Felty
Publisher: Dreamschooner Press
Publication Date: January 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 2017
Tabitha Fink, the amazing cat with one eye, is treating readers to another story where they will learn and laugh - at the same time. In her latest adventure, she doesn't travel to faraway places as she did in her last book, but rather, helps a playful mouse overcome his fear of the dark.
As the story opens, Tabitha Fink is outside her house, introducing readers to herself and her home. She then introduces her good friend, Bartholomew Blink - a mouse with a great big smile. Tabitha and Bartholomew are "besties" who love to play hide and seek all day long. They play inside the house, around the kitchen table, and everywhere there's a good hiding place, until they get tired. Then it's nap time! A little rest, and then it's time to play again - all day long. Until...the daylight slips away.
As the sun fades, Bartholomew Blink confides to his friend:
"I get kind of scared,"
he admits with a fright.
"Things just aren't the same
when the day turns to night."
Bartholomew Blink then tells Tabitha Fink about all the scary things that come out at night. The little mouse is convinced there's a big, furry monster in the closet, a witch under the bed...and...and...oh, don't even ask him what's at the bottom of the stairs!
Tabitha Fink listens carefully to her friend and thankfully, this is one smart cat! She tells Bartholomew:
"You imagine the worst
and you're certain it's true.
I've been there myself.
I felt just like you."
Tabitha Fink's solution of turning into a "Ninja at Night" and what she does as a ninja, will undoubtedly delight children. Her actions as a ninja are funny and author Felty is to be credited for coming up with such a clever and unique solution to Bartholomew's problem.
Tabitha Fink Ninja at Night is the third book in the "Tabitha Fink" series, and like the others (Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye and Tabitha Fink On a Mission to Mars), it is an adorable tale about a wonderful, incredibly up-beat cat that young readers will love. This newest book tackles a common fear youngsters often deal with - fear of the dark - and does it with such humor and cheer that little ones will want the book read to them over and over. In short, this is the perfect book not just to help children overcome their fear of the dark, but simply a fun bedtime story for all children.
Quill says: The "Tabitha Fink" series just keeps getting better and better - if you haven't discovered this adorable cat yet, you need to check her out! Your children will definitely love her and her exploits!
For more information on Tabitha Fink Ninja at Night, please visit the author's website at: www.tabithafink.com
By: Susan Count
Illustrated by: Ruth Sanderson
Publisher: Hastings Creations Group
Publication Date: October 2016
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: March 7, 2017
Mary’s Song, Book One of the Dream Horse Adventures series, is a delightful story about a twelve-year-old girl who is wheelchair-bound, caused by a virus that attacked her muscles when she was four. She lives with her protective father who is away from home often either on business or in constant search of a cure for Mary’s condition. She often dreams of owning her own horse and being able to ride wild and free. Unfortunately, she spends her time at home with no friends, sitting quietly near a neighbor's fence sketching the horses she sees grazing next door. Mary feels a strong pull towards a particular foal, but thinks there might be something terribly wrong with the young horse because she has spotted it limping on a few occasions.
One day as Mary is busy practicing her cursive penmanship with her tutor and dreaming about warhorses, a horse and buggy comes down the road stopping at her house. A girl the same age as Mary gets out of the buggy and introduces herself as Laura from the farm next door. Despite having different experiences and upbringings, Mary and Laura quickly become friends sharing their love of horses and secret buggy rides.
Together the two girls learn that the young horse who Mary took a liking to, named Illusion, on Laura’s farm is destined to be put down because of a club foot. While Laura seems to accept this prognosis as a fact of life on the farm, Mary is devastated and cannot understand why Illusion isn’t being given a second chance. She tries to convince the farm manager and Laura’s father to help the horse, but they are hesitant to take on such a big endeavor. Finally, after much thought and convincing, Laura’s father agrees to keep the horse for six weeks with one catch. He states that either the foal will get better on her own, or he’ll allow the horse to get a surgery that may help fix her lameness, but he expects Laura and Mary to come up with the money to pay for the surgery. But where are the two friends who share a love of horses and second chances going to get enough money to pay for an expensive operation in time?
Mary’s Song is a wonderfully encouraging story especially for young readers primarily because it has a multitude of positive messages throughout. One such strong example is the theme of perseverance despite adversity. Not only does Mary struggle with her own physical limitations, but so does the horse she has fallen in love with, and together they face their challenges and work towards a positive resolution. Friendship, love, hope and faith are also gently weaved into the fabric of this story making it a great read for not just fans of horses, but animal lovers alike. The author expertly writes a story that not only flows well but has likable characters who you really want to root for. It is also an easy read recommended for middle school children because it is not overly bogged down with horse keeping terms, but explains things well enough to keep the story exciting and understandable.
Quill says: Mary's Song is a great story about love, friendship and tenacity all sweetly wrapped up in a tale about the love of a horse sure to please readers.
For more information on Mary's Song: Dream Horse Adventures, please visit the author's website at: www.susancount.com
By: Clare Mackintosh
Publication Date: February 2017
Review By: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: March 7, 2017
Zoe Walker tries to live a normal life living and working in London. After divorcing her ex-husband Matt several years prior, Zoe moved her two children, Justin and Katie, to South London. Here she met neighbors Melissa and her husband Neil. As Zoe struggled to be a single mother, Melissa and Neil started helping Zoe with the children. They soon became an extended family. Although now all grown up, Justin and Katie still live with Zoe and her current boyfriend Simon.
One day as she is taking her normal commute home from work on the train, Zoe decides to pass the time looking through the newspaper. She skims through many articles and advertisements, but settles on an article about recent thefts on the train. After reading the article, she looks at the advertisements. While she is looking, she comes across an advertisement for a dating website, findtheone.com. Here above details of the website and a phone number, Zoe realizes that the person being advertised is herself.
When Zoe returns home, although she is adamant that it is her picture, she listens to her family tell her it isn’t her. Still not convinced, she continues to look through previous ads. While looking through the ads, she finds a picture that she knows she has seen before. This ad is of a woman named Cathy. Cathy was recently mentioned in the article about thefts. Zoe learns that the ad ran a couple days before Cathy’s theft took place. Zoe brings this information to British Transport Police officer Kelly Swift. Zoe also tells Kelly that although nothing has happened to her, Zoe’s picture ran in an ad a couple days ago. Kelly informs Zoe that she will look into it and get back to her.
One morning while Zoe is waiting to hear from Kelly, she sees a picture on the news of a woman who has been murdered and realizes that she has seen this woman before. Both pictures are of a woman named Tania, whose ad ran a couple days before she was murdered. Zoe decides that she has waited long enough and brings the information to the division investigating Tania’s murder. When Kelly follows up with Zoe, Zoe tells her that she has taken the information to the murder division. Kelly, knowing the cases are connected, through much coaxing, temporarily gets transferred to the murder division.
While police are investigating, they find out that the website, findtheone.com, allows users to download detailed information about the women. More specifically, it gives details of the commutes to and from work. Although she was warned about giving this information to Zoe, Kelly decides to tell her about the website.
Zoe soon starts to get paranoid that people are always watching and following her. While she is trying to let the police do their job, she runs into someone who downloaded her information. After having a close call with this man, Zoe knows that she is in danger. Since she cannot focus on anything, her boss gives her some time off. With her time off, she starts to notice things in her own life that cannot be a coincidence to this investigation. Zoe soon wonders who she can trust and how far one person would go.
I See You will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat as it is a real page-turner. Just when you think that the police are closing in on the person behind the website, the story takes another turn. As the reader learns more about the website and the characteristics of the creator, you can start to get an idea as to who the suspect could be. It isn’t until the very end that you learn who it is and why. This story will blow you away and take a twist you are not expecting.
Quill says: If you like to solve investigations, then this is the one for you. It will definitely test your problem-solving skills.