Saturday, February 18, 2017

#BookReview - Natalie's Dilemma


Natalie’s Dilemma: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller

By: Susan Fleet
Publisher: Music and Mayhem Press
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9847235-9-1
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 19, 2017

There is no better place to begin a suspense/thriller than on the gritty streets of New Orleans. And there is no better person to begin with than Homicide Detective Frank Renzi and his longtime partner, Kenyon Miller. This is how the 7th tale in the “Frank Renzi” series starts, but where it heads is far from New Orleans, into the stunning world of Venice. Renzi is also not the only character that author Susan Fleet has created over the previous stories that appears in this tale. Frank’s longtime adversary – a woman by the name of Natalie - is back, and in a real bind.

Cesare Valenti, along with two of his carabiniere officers, are in Venice monitoring a house directly across the street. Inside that house is a defenseless five-year-old girl who doesn’t belong there. Her name is Bianca, and not only is her mother dead, but her father is currently in a comatose state and might die at any moment. Her parents met their horrible fates when two Mafia brothers organized a diamond heist, shooting the owners and kidnapping their daughter. Europol knows that they need a spy to be set inside that house in order to bring these Mafia criminals down and save the child. Enter...Natalie.

Now, Natalie has been chased by NOPD Homicide Detective Frank Renzi for more than a little while, and she has managed to evade capture. This time around, however, an agent who is fully aware of Natalie’s long list of crimes is the one who forces her to act as the spy. Natalie has more than a dilemma; she is in a quandary that basically comes down to a child’s life versus her own freedom and staying one step ahead of Frank Renzi.

Natalie ran from her past and ended up in Venice, where she starts out by thinking that she has finally found that perfect sanctuary where all will be well and all will leave her alone. She certainly didn’t count on being immersed in a Europol sting operation. As a spy, she must take on the role of nanny. If she doesn’t do this, she will be shipped back to the states and placed on Renzi’s doorstep. But there are other questions and fears pulling on her heartstrings. Will the Mafia gang kill the child? Will she blow it completely and end up being the one the Mafia sends to an early grave? Or...will Frank Renzi somehow step into all this and find a way to finally apprehend her? Let me just say that Frank and Natalie do find themselves in the same place at the same time. But what these longtime rivals may just figure out is that when you have to face a different demon head-on, what you once saw as your enemy may just turn out to be your only ally.

Susan Fleet has delved into these characters and their cat-and-mouse game before, and it’s always a thrill to be able to say that these books just keep getting better. With as much talent and savvy as both Frank and Natalie have, they actually would be a killer team if they weren’t on completely different sides of the law.

Quill says: You will not see the end of this one coming...and you may just feel a roller-coaster of emotions when it does.

For more information on Natalie’s Dilemma: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller, please visit the book's website: susanfleet.com/nat-dilemma







Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#BookReview - Dream Big @katkronenberg


Dream Big

By: Kat Kronenberg
Illustrated by: Stephanie Dehennin
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-1626343474
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 15, 2017

There once lived a moody, grouchy baboon who never smiled. Things were as they were so why should anybody hope for more? He seemed to think that dreaming was for silly animals who didn't know any better. But Baboon was about to learn a very important lesson.

One night while Baboon sat with his drum, Caterpillar wandered onto a nearby branch and wished upon a star, "Oh, I wish I could be like Bird and fly." Baboon couldn't believe what he heard and laughed and made fun of Caterpillar's dream. How, he reasoned, could an animal with 16 feet and no wings fly? What a foolish dream. Caterpillar felt bad and cried - Baboon was right, what a silly dream. Caterpillar spun a cocoon to hide but within that cocoon he kept dreaming until...he emerged from the cocoon as a butterfly! He could fly! Baboon was truly amazed.

The next night Baboon spotted Tadpole who also wished upon a star. Tadpole wanted to dance to the wonderful beat that Baboon was playing on his drum. Again, Baboon made fun of a dreamer - How can Tadpole dance? He doesn't even have feet. Tadpole felt so bad that he went deep into the water to sulk. But he continued to dream until...he emerged from the water as a frog. Baboon couldn't believe his eyes! What was going on? Did dreaming really work?

Dream Big is the enchanting story of a baboon who learns a very important lesson - that of believing in yourself and reaching for the stars. Baboon eventually dares to dream a dream for himself and through his wish, brings many of the animals together. Children will love seeing what happens to Caterpillar, Tadpole, Flamingo and even little Termite as they reach for the stars and dream big. Add in the wonderful illustrations that bring the savannas of East Africa to life, and children will want to read this book again and again.

Quill says: Dream Big is a delightful story that teaches children to never stop believing and dreaming.





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#BookReview - Shoes For Anthony


Shoes For Anthony

By: Emma Kennedy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-1-250-09096-6
Review by: Janice M. Ladendorf
Review Date: Feb. 15, 2017

This heartwarming story is set in a Welsh coal mining town in 1944. It is a company town where most of the men work in the local coal mine. The protagonist is a bright eleven-year-old boy whose father and older brothers are miners. His character is based on the author's father. Most of the men in this town die young or are permanently disabled from mine accidents or diseased lungs. They say the coal they bring out is earned with their blood.

Their community is a close one with a moral code followed by all who live there. Wives and mothers work hard with none of the facilities we take for granted today, but they can dominate their families and no man dares argue with them. War rationing has already done much to worsen the already impoverished lives of these people.

The hero, Anthony or Ant, is part of the Scott Street gang. They play together, compete with each other, and fight other boys. All of them have to wear hand-me-down clothes and Ant's rubber boots are two sizes too big for him. When a banana comes to town, everyone runs to see what it is, but nobody knows how to eat it. The next excitement is the news American troops are coming to train on their mountains.

Ant's gang likes to climb up the slope of the mountain above their home to a place where they can watch bombers fly in and out of the nearby RAF base. One day a plane crashes near them and they help rescue a Polish prisoner of war who is brought to Ant's home. The next day the boys salvage everything they can find from the crash site and bring it to their hideout on the mountain. Ant's mother nurses the soldier and he soon becomes part of the family. When Ant's father is disabled, he helps out with funds passed onto him by an RAF officer.

The boys discover someone has been stealing food from their hideout and messing around with their salvaged treasures. They couldn't figure out who had discovered it; then the RAF discovers there should have been one more body at the crash site. The horrified town realizes there must be a German airman hiding out on their mountain. Fear-based hatred and anger run through the town like wildfire. When the man is caught, Ant becomes a hero when he prevents the German officer from stealing a plane from the RAF base.

After Ant's father dies, he no longer wants to be a miner. He takes the eleven plus exam, does very well, and wins a scholarship to a Grammar School. He will be required to wear the school uniform and is given a new set of clothes and a pair of shoes, all of which fit him well. He can hardly believe how fortunate he is.

Ant's many adventures realistically evoke both the beautiful physical setting and the close community life of this impoverished town. The horrors of war are brought home to Ant and the town by the stories of the Polish and German soldiers. Ant figures out they are both people just like those from his town who are serving in the British army.

Quill says: An exciting story with an unusual setting. Well worth reading.








#BookReview - A Bridge Across the Ocean


A Bridge Across the Ocean

By: Susan Meissner
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: March 2017
ISBN: 9780451476005
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: February 15, 2017

Brette Caslake was one of the females in her family to be given "The Sight." A gift that is only given to the women in the family, at random, The Sight is something that Brette tries her very best to ignore. This gift allows Brette to see drifters in the thin places between Earth and their afterlife, as a result of not being able to make it to the other side because of the fear of letting go. As the only living member of her family to have this gift, Brette has always felt alone and let very few people know of her ability, thanks to various mishaps in high school and college. Even her husband knows only the basics of her ability. It is only when the subject of children comes up that she freezes, as she could potentially pass on her gift to her daughter. With a promise to talk about what made her mother decide to have children while knowing the risks it could pose, he sets off on a business trip. Soon after, an old high school friend in need seeks her out for help for his daughter and leads her to answers she has always needed.

Simone Deveraux, the daughter of a shoe shiner, fell witness to her father and her brother’s murder as a result of being part of the Resistance during WWII. Upon a previous request from her father, she flees. In an effort to make sure no one sees her escape to the address her father had given her, Simone enters an old abandoned shop, where an awful event threatens to change the course of her life. She soon makes it to the address her father provided, where she is then taken to a winery in southern France, where she resides, and falls in love with an unlikely companion.

Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina, was also no stranger to wartime strife. After being forced to marry an abusive Nazi soldier who kept her cooped up in their apartment, she escapes to be with her childhood friend, Katrine. Annaliese lives with Katrine and has plans to move with her to America after Katrine marries an American. Things do not exactly work out the way that they are planned and these events leave Annaelise with a choice, what is right and what is wrong? What actions can be forgiven and what can not? Soon, these women are aboard the Queen Mary, a ship transporting war brides to America, to reunite with their husbands and begin their lives anew. But is one of them living a lie? Or are both of them? What actions are to be forgiven during a time of fear and war?

Even from the very beginning, I was hooked on A Bridge Across the Ocean. It is simple to get pulled deeply into the stories of Annaliese and Simone, as their pasts are haunting and filled with twists and turns that make you wonder what you would do in their situations. Brette and her Sight not only tie the stories together perfectly, but provide some extremely relatable thoughts and feelings. The different settings and times were separated perfectly and this ensured that the story did not become confusing to the reader. It was easy to differentiate the stories of the characters even when the story had just begun. As books like this are easily confusing at first, I was impressed that there was never a part of the book where I had to question what was going on.

Quill says: A Bridge Across the Ocean is the perfect historical fiction read for those who want to be thrown into a different place and time and challenged to put themselves in the characters' positions.





#BookReview - A Dog's Journey


A Dog's Journey

By: W. Bruce Cameron
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0765330543
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 15, 2017


A Dog's Journey continues the story of a very special dog's soul, or essence, first told in the best-selling book A Dog's Purpose.

A quick recap from the first book: The reader is introduced to a puppy, Toby, who begins life as a feral dog, along with his littermates and mother. Toby's life is tragically cut short and then he is reborn, renamed, and lives a very full life in the body of another dog, with a different owner and a very different experience. The key is that Toby, or Bailey, or Ellie, or Buddy, as the dog is known through his various lives, remembers each previous life and experiences. As Bailey, the dog is loved by, and loves, a boy named Ethan and it is perhaps because of Ethan that the dog is reborn again and again as he searches for his special boy.

A Dog's Journey picks up right where the pervious book ended, with Buddy living in Ethan's home with his widow Hannah. Soon we meet other relatives, including Hannah's daughter-in-law Gloria, a woman who is basically a waste of oxygen. Self-centered and self-important, the only redeeming thing about her is that she has a delightful young daughter Clarity Jane. CJ, as she is soon called, is the focus of this book as the dog follows "his girl" through her life via several different dogs.
With the passing of Buddy, the dog is reborn as Molly, a poodle mix who is adopted by a now teenage CJ. The young girl has a terrible life with her mother Gloria, who brings a multitude of boyfriends through the house and finds that being a mother is just too much work. The only good things in CJ's life are her dog Molly and her best friend Trent. But things with Gloria go from bad to worse and CJ is forced to grow up much too fast. Molly and her other dog reincarnations do their best to help CJ and it is through her various dogs that CJ is finally able to find peace.

If you've read my review for A Dog's Purpose, you know that I loved that book and recommended it for all dog lovers. While A Dog's Journey is not quite as much of a page-turner, it was still a very enjoyable read. The main difference between the stories is that in the first book, the dog's various lives did not always intertwine with previous owners, making for very different adventures throughout the book, while in this book, the journey was all about CJ and the dog coming back repeatedly right into her life (with a little work on the dog's part to catch her attention). Regardless, there's no doubt that author W. Bruce Cameron has a talent for catching the essence of what a dog must be thinking and these thoughts, shared with the reader, are what captured the imagination and made the book a fun and quick read.

Quill says: While not quite as engaging as A Dog's Purpose, this second book is still very enjoyable and highly recommended for dog lovers.







Friday, February 10, 2017

Feathered Quill Sponsored Awards @ReaderViews

We'd like to thank the wonderful companies that have sponsored special awards in our annual award program. The authors who win these awards truly appreciate the extra recognition their books get, and we too, at Feathered Quill, really appreciate what these companies do to promote authors! Here are some of the sponsored awards:

The Write Companion Award for Best Overall TOP PICK - Adult, Children's and Young Adult categories: Originality is key. Falling into a stereotypical plot or character is difficult for an author. That is why this award is given to the author that makes that lasting impression. Based on pure originality, this award seeks the writers who - like Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas or Preston and Childs' inventive detective Aloysius Pendergast - have created a character who makes that lasting impression on readers. Do I smell sequel? The winner will receive marketing on all Amy Lignor's websites: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TWC, Pinterest, as well as a free consultation regarding their next book project. This comes with a free edit/polish/notes/suggestions of their next book. If there is not a project as of yet, the consult will be given to answer any author's questions when it comes to publishing, agencies, independent books, self-publishing - a conversation regarding the here and now of the industry that may help them in the future. - $250 value

ReaderViews Award for the Readers' Favorite - We will choose from the winners of all categories on the book for this award, based on Reviews Scores, Cover Design, and relevance to readers today. The winner will get a Publicity Package AA, which includes a Book Review, Live Interview and a one-week Feature on our Home page, Inside Scoop Live page and Newsletter. Plus one hour of online publicity consultation. - $385 value



Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity Award for Best Mystery - One professionally written press release with distribution. - $1000 value 






Five Star Publications Award for Best Children's Illustrated - A one hour- book consulting session - $200 value 


BestsellersWorld Award for Best Romance - This award includes an author page on the site and the book and synopsis added to the Featured Books page for 10 days. - $125 value

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Award-Winning Books Get Free Ads On Feathered Quill Book Reviews


Winners of our annual award program all receive a free front-page ad on our website, www.featheredquill.com. The first batch of ads have been posted - check them out!  (If you visit the ads on featheredquill.com, clicking on each ad brings you to a page - Amazon or author's - where you can purchase the books.)









Saturday, February 4, 2017

#BookReview - Rufus Finds a Home


Rufus Finds a Home

By: Theodore Jerome Cohen
Publisher: TJC Press
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-1542691697
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: February 2017

Rufus is a beautiful golden retriever who lives with Charlie, a wonderful, caring man. Charlie loves his dog but the man is getting older and can no longer care for Rufus. What will happen to this special dog?

Rufus is full of energy and wants to play. He loves to chase sticks, go for long walks, and explore his surroundings. While Charlie would love to run around with his dog, the man has grown old and tired - he can't play fetch with his dog now. The two sit by a tree on a beautiful fall day, as Charlie worries about his dog. Soon Charlie will be moving to his daughter's house, and Rufus won't be able to follow his owner to the new home. Charlie remembers many of the fun times the two shared, but his thoughts keep returning to his dog's future. What will become of Rufus?

While the two friends sit quietly by the tree, a young boy comes up to Charlie. He asks the man about his dog - what's his name, can he do any tricks - and Charlie's face lights up. There's nothing he loves better than talking about Rufus. Charlie tells Jimmy about the tricks Rufus can do, how the dog went to doggie school and was a star pupil, and how Rufus helps around the house. Jimmy is quickly joined by his sister Heather, and their mother, and all three are intrigued by the beautiful golden retriever.

As Charlie talks about his dog, Heather notices that he is quite sad.

"Then why are you sad?" asked the boy's sister, Heather,
"A fine dog like Rufus should bring joy forever."


"I know," said the man, wiping tears from his eyes,
"but old age has taken my youth by surprise."


It's obvious that Jimmy and his family are loving people who adore Rufus. Will they be able to give the dog a new home?

While I've read and reviewed many dog stories that deal with rescues and finding homes for abandoned dogs, this is the first one that deals with a very difficult, but rarely discussed, topic of what happens when an elderly person is no longer able to care for their pet. Having to part with a beloved pet is hard for anybody, but for an elderly person who may have already lost a spouse, or other loved one, the event can be particularly stressful. Told in rhyme, with lovely photographs of Rufus that fit perfectly with each page's action, the story is easy to follow and heartwarming too. Rufus Finds a Home is a book that children will love to read, while it also educates them about how/why dogs sometimes need new homes.

Quill says: A difficult subject, tackled with sensitivity, makes Rufus Finds a Home a wonderful story and one children will enjoy and want to read over and over.

For further information on Rufus Finds a Home, please visit the author's website at: www.theodore-cohen-novels.com










Thursday, February 2, 2017

FEATHERED QUILL BOOK AWARDS

Feathered Quill Book Reviews is excited to announce the winners of the 2017 award program.


Started in 2008 by a small group of dedicated, enthusiastic reviewers, Feathered Quill Book Reviews has become one of the preeminent review sites on the internet. In the summer of 2013, it opened submissions for the first annual award program, and since that time, the award program has grown substantially.  This year, Feathered Quill was honored by the large number of submissions, coming from around the world and from all types of publishers, from the one book self-publisher all the way up to the major New York houses. 

When submissions closed on December 15, 2016, the judges had the daunting task of reading a HUGE number of excellent books and trying to decide the best of the best.  Every book was read,  
every book was judged, and often it was a mere point or two that separated the winners from the ‘almost won’ books.

In addition to the prestige of winning a national award, all winning books have been listed in the Feathered Quill online bookstore, accessible from all pages of its review site, www.featheredquill.com.  Feathered Quill also offered numerous additional awards, sponsored by various publishing related companies, valued between $100 and $1000.  For a complete list of winners, please visit the award page, www.featheredquill.com/awardprogram.shtml, and click on ‘list of 2017 winners.’



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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Feathered Quill #BookAwardWinners

It's official!!! All winners in the 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards program have been notified. A listing of winners has just been posted to our site and we'll be featuring many of them in the coming weeks on our various social media sites. Congratulations to all the authors who had winning books. What an amazing batch of nominations we had this year!!!

Winners are listed on this page - open link to pdf of 2017 winners: