Monday, March 19, 2018

#BookReview - Head of the Pack @HudsonDogStar

Head of the Pack: Chester Gigolo's Advanced Dog Training Secrets

By: Christina Potter
Publisher: Aperture Press
Publication Date: August 2017
ISSBN: 978-0997302097
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 19, 2018
Dog trainer and author Christina Potter, in her third book in the "Chester Gigolo" series, delivers a book that is a lot of fun to read while, more importantly, giving readers a lot of very useful information on dog training. 
Head of the Pack is divided into sixteen chapters that examine various aspects of the dog world that will help you train your dog.  The book opens with an introduction that shares how much dogs enjoy human companionship and how it works best when both dog and human understand each other.  So, how do you improve your ability to communicate with your dog?  That's what the book is all about.
Right away in the first chapter, the author offered advice that drew me in and made me want to read the rest of the book.  "Blur the lines between playing and training, and you will have a dog that is delighted to work with you any time."  From there, she goes on to explain that you must be firm but not too firm.  How?  She uses an analogy of a spaghetti noodle that works perfectly to get her point across.  The chapters are fairly short - most are three or four pages - and everything is very easy to understand.  
Head of the Pack is "written" by Chester Gigolo, a Berger Picard, and he's one smart dog.  Chester shares his training expertise on a broad range of topics from knowing what each breed has been bred for (and using that knowledge to select the proper dog as well as using their innate instincts to advantage when training) to how often to give treats and even what kind of treats work best.  And unlike many dog training manuals that offer tips in a dry, dull manner, Chester is quite funny and entertaining.  He livens up each chapter with commentary - for example, when talking about getting treats, "march into the kitchen, load up on yummy treats - in your hands, not in your tummy - and let's get started."
There is a lot of useful information in this book that both first-time dog owners and more advanced canine fans will learn from. What I particularly appreciated is that the author didn't just share her views and say "it works for me, it'll work for you."  Rather, she backs up her statements with research from around the world, noting the researchers/institutions/journals, how the tests were conducted, and the results. While I've had dogs all my life and like to think I know what I'm doing when training, I definitely learned a lot from this book.  Did you know that tail wagging doesn't always mean a dog is happy?  What about growling? For tricks, the author advises using your dog's breed to help determine what tricks will be easiest for your dog to learn and then follows up with several real life examples that show how different breeds react to the same situation.  And speaking of tricks, chapter ten (smack dab in the middle of the book) is dedicated to trick training.  There are 25 tricks dissected in such a way that again, it's easy to see how to teach each trick.  Most are also accompanied by a picture of a dog performing the trick.  I "dog-tested" several of the tricks on my dog Rocco (a dachshund/yorkie mix who is lovable but not the brightest light bulb in the pack), and he was able to follow my lead and do the tricks.  That is itself is worth the price of this book!
Quill says: Rocco the "dorkie" would like to thank Chester for writing a book that was easy for his human to follow and use to advantage to build a stronger bond with him.
For more information on Head of the Pack: Chester Gigolo's Advanced Dog Training Secrets, please visit the website:

Friday, March 16, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Lorenzo Petruzziello @lorenzomagnus

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Lorenzo Petruzziello, author of The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy.
FQ: You were inspired to write this book during your temporary stay in Rome, Italy back in 2011. What was it about Rome that inspired you to write? 
PETRUZZIELLO: It goes without saying that Rome is a beautiful and enchanting city and I thought, who wouldn’t want to read about it? When I decided to pick-up and move there in 2011, I knew I wanted to get to know the city as a citizen, not a tourist. I wanted to dive in deep and immerse myself into the daily Roman life. – I was quickly captivated by my surroundings and once I decided to start writing, I knew it had to be set in Rome. I had the idea of playing with a story that was influenced by the comedic and glamourous side of Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita. However, Alex was not a Marcello. He was more a Michael J. Fox character. I knew I wanted my story to be in a simple, light tone, like that of a Michael J. Fox 80s comedy: Secret of My Success and For Love or Money. So, I had both those ideas in mind as I wrote out my story. I kept asking myself: “What would Michael J. Fox do in this situation?”
 FQ: Who would you list as “exceptional writers”—those who inspire you to write?
PETRUZZIELLO: I love to read, but I struggled to find a voice to which I can relate. It wasn’t until I reread The Great Gatsby that I felt like I was at home. I appreciate Fitzgerald’s observations and the slightest details when describing two people attracted to each other. I enjoyed this particularly in Tender is the Night. Of course, I like the brash and forwardness of Hemingway. For contemporary writers, I appreciate the delivery and style of Ian McEwan – Atonement is one of my favorites. And the storytelling of one of my favorite contemporary Italian authors Fabio Volo.
FQ: Is there any correlation between the plot and your life, or is it totally a work of fiction?
PETRUZZIELLO: Alex has a lot of me in him, but he’s not me. I used my experiences as the anchor to this story. For example, I worked for American Public Television, the major distributor of programs to public television stations across the country. Most of my work was on how-to programs and their national channel called CREATE TV. My role was marketing and publicity for shows on cooking, travel, gardening, home improvement and such. I made my main character Alex have a similar background because it’s what I knew. At APT, one of my first projects was for an international cooking series called New Scandinavian Cooking – the show – still airing – is hosted by Scandinavia’s popular culinary professionals and focuses on modern and traditional Nordic cuisine. When I got to thinking about La Dolce Vita – in which the celebrity was a whimsical, blonde ethereal movie star played by Swedish film star Anita Ekberg – I thought, I will make my celebrity Scandinavian too – OH! How about a Scandinavian cooking host? I have some experience with that. And the celebrity chef concept has been around for a while now. So, I thought the idea could be comical: for the ridiculousness of the label celebrity chef, and for the fun journey on which Pernille takes the reader.
FQ: Amid your quick read, you mention a variety of iconic places and works of art. Obviously, they mean more to you than just incorporating them into your plot. Did any of them specifically inspire you in your writing process?

Small Lake in the Villa Borghese Gardens
PETRUZZIELLO: Absolutely! Again, living in Rome allowed me more time to really get to know the city. I mean, I’ve been to Rome a few times already and seeing the usual sights. But this time, I made it a priority to see sights that are either overlooked or not able to be fit in to tight tourist schedules.  Villa Borghese is my favorite to this day-It’s an absolutely gorgeous park. Strolling the gardens I eventually make it into the Borghese Gallery museum. Being there just fueled my creativity, adding even more life to my story concept, so I had to put it in the book. But I didn’t just add it in the story, I wanted to make the space a part of the story.
FQ: You incorporate a cat sanctuary in your story. Does this sanctuary actually exist in Rome, or is this something that you made up? 
PETRUZZIELLO: This is actually a real place. I didn’t live too far from here, and sometimes I would go by and watch the cats frolicking; allowing my mind to wander and come up with more for The Love Fool. Again, I think of my book as a Rome 2.0 – meaning: if you’ve visited Rome and its famous tourist attractions, The Love Fool will take you back and make you feel like a local.
FQ: You incorporate passive-aggressive conversations within Alex and Emily’s relationship, which is a perfect story enhancer. Would you say this type of behavior is or is not common among people who are still processing who they are and what they want out of life?
PETRUZZIELLO: Yes. Simply, yes. OK, sure, not everyone acts the same, but I specifically made Alex and Emily this way as my personal nod to Jane Austen. When I was introduced to Pride & Prejudice I fell in love with the tension, hatred, stubbornness, and attraction between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I wanted to give my characters that same intensity.
FQ: You close with a surprise ending, which seems to indicate that there may be an upcoming sequel. Is a sequel in the works?
PETRUZZIELLO: No. I honestly don’t think a sequel would be necessary, nor interesting enough to read. The Love Fool is meant to be a basic message to men and women: Don’t be a fool.
FQ: You provide plenty of encouragement for other burgeoning writers. Now that you’ve had a fair taste of the process, what do you foresee will be future literary projects?
PETRUZZIELLO: I think we will continue to see more independent writers in the forefront. Just like other industries, creatives don’t have to stop if they don’t land a big publisher. More and more small publishers are out there offering more doors to open for first time writers to establish themselves. I went through a hybrid publisher – Inkshares – and it allowed me to test the waters with presales. Fortunately, I made it through by the skin of my teeth, but so happy that I have a small publisher to represent The Love Fool.
FQ: Do you see yourself getting involved in writing conferences for new writers?
PETRUZZIELLO: I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I mean, I think writers would like to hear more stories about other writers that found a way, and I’d be happy to share any insights on the struggles of a non-writer writing. I consider myself more a storyteller than a writer. I feel that the label writer should be awarded to those who have actually studied the craft of writing, prose and such. I never have. I’m just a guy with great stories to tell, and for some reason, I think they are so amazing I’m sharing them with the world.
FQ: Are there any genres that you’re interested in, but apprehensive is holding you back?
PETRUZZIELLO: Noir. In fact, the new story I’m working on has more of a noir-type style to it. As you can see, I’m still ironing out what my writing style will be. I am veering away from the romantic comedy label – it’s actually not the type of stories I prefer. So, it’s funny that my debut novel is a romantic comedy – but, it’s what The Love Fool was created for and meant to be. But now, a slightly darker side is ready to emerge.

#BookReview - The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy @lorenzomagnus

The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy

By: Lorenzo Petruzziello
Publisher: Quill Publishing Company
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
ISBN: 978-1947848194
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: March 16, 2018
A young man who moves to Italy faces unresolved love issues when his estranged girlfriend comes to visit in Lorenzo Petruzziello’s debut, The Love Fool.
After getting laid off from “an amazing job with a large global PR firm” in the U.S., Alex Corso takes a lower-level marketing position at Zero Otto Marketing in Rome, Italy. He is given an assignment to promote a Danish cooking show into the Italian market. To Alex’s advantage, the drop-dead-gorgeous host, Pernille Bjǿrn, easily attracts publicity. 
Quite the storyteller, Petruzziello spins an amusing tale of unrequited love and superficial relationships. Petruzziello’s third-person plot centers on its protagonist, Alex Corso, who has no idea what life will have in store for him once he moves to Italy. His U.S. position provided the perfect outlet for Alex to lose himself in his work and thereby bury his unresolved love life. Now stripped of his successful job, the ugliness of his past resurfaces.
To capture Alex’s life, Petruzziello alternates between the present (2011) and past (the 1990s—Alex’s college days when he met Emily). Before Emily’s entrance, the first few chapters vacillate between the crazy things that take place in Alex’s new job and his loneliness. As sweet as Alex and Emily are toward one another, they both have additional unresolved issues, which is very apparent in their passive-aggressive conversations.
Petruzziello concentrates on dialogue to amplify the emotional tension between the two lovers. This constant ebb-and-flow of their relationship may be annoying, but it is also intriguing because of the driving element of resolution tightly woven into the fabric of this story. Petruzziello also incorporates plenty of twists—on top of more problems at work—that make his debut a real page-turner.
 Quill says: Replete with a surprise ending, The Love Fool is one well-written and unforgettable romantic tale with Silver-Screen potential.
For more information on The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy, please visit the book's website at:

#BookReview - The Pirate Bride

The Pirate Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower, Book 2

By: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1683224976
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: March 15, 2018
Twelve-year-old Maribel Cordoba has recently found her mother and grandfather have passed, leaving her in the hands of her father, Antonio Cordoba, whom she barely knows. She is travelling with him on the Vengaza from her home of Spain to his post in Havana, where he is to serve as the Consul General. An avid reader with a passion for exploration, Maribel is hesitant but hopeful this journey will be filled with excitement and adventure, however, she may have gotten far more than she bargained for...
A once calm crew suddenly bustles with excitement and Maribel overhears words such as “pirates” and “ghost ship.” It’s during this time her curiosity surges and she can think only of her beloved book, The Notorious Seafaring Pyrates and Their Exploits, by Captain Ulysses Jones. Soon, their ship is attacked, and Maribel comes to find out that instead of pirates, those aboard “The Ghost Ship” are in fact Privateers from France. The captain of the privateer vessel, Captain Jean Beaumont and Maribel’s father have a past that needs settling, and against his usual rules, a dual ensues, leaving Maribel’s father dead and Maribel in the hands of Captain Jean Beaumont. With her fiery spirit and desire for adventure, she begs to stay on the ship and work with them, an agreement that everyone is hesitant about at first. Beaumont agrees to let her stay, but an attack puts Maribel in danger and places Beaumont into a coma, leaving his crew to take Maribel to Mother Superior of St. Mary of the Island Orphanage, where all memories of the privateers are to be forgotten. But for how long?
At St. Mary of the Island Orphanage, Maribel is known for getting in trouble, especially when she climbs into trees to read her books. After spending eleven years at the orphanage, someone comes to get her and take her back to her mother and grandfather, who were not dead as she previously believed. Instead, it was a ploy for her father to take her away. Excited to meet the family she once knew, yet still desiring to know more about this past as a privateer she so vividly remembers, she gets ready to make way for New Orleans. Before departing, however, she meets some old privateers she once knew and sees a ship that is familiar, triggering memories from her past. Upon arrival in New Orleans, she comes to find that she is going to have a very hard time fitting in, especially with her wild ways and less than proper mannerisms. It is when her family gets in trouble that she is put back into the hands of a privateer she once knew as a child, changing the rest of her life as she knows it.
The Pirate Bride is a deliciously addicting tale that places you right into the heart of adventure. Not only are Maribel and Captain Beaumont extremely relatable and likeable, but it’s easy to understand Maribel’s journey back into society after having the adventure of the open seas. Her love of books, her need for adventure and her attitude are addicting. The fact she’s a strong woman, even at a young age, goes to show that even though one may be considered young, and although she is a female, she can be strong and demand the attention she deserves. This book is perfect for anyone who wants a quick, easy read or those who want a taste of adventure without leaving their own home.
Quill says: A delightful read that enchants, delights and makes you crave adventure.

#BookReview - Be A Good Dragon

Be A Good Dragon

Author/Illustrator: Kurt Cyrus
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1585363834
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2018
What happens when a dragon gets a cold?  In one small village, a sneezing dragon brings chaos and hilarity that young readers will absolutely love.
Enzo the dragon is not feeling well and the townspeople are running for the hills:
When cinders come showering down from the skies...
And thunder is rumbling,
and smoke burns your eyes...
Then run like a rabbit! Fly like the breeze!
Enzo the dragon is starting to sneeze.
Enzo is miserable and every time he sneezes, he spreads his misery - and germs! - to everybody around him.  The crops are wilting, the corn is popping, and the knights are covering their faces.  This can't continue!
The royal magician is called to help the dragon, but the dragon doesn't want to take his advice (medicine and a nap).  Enzo continues scorching, sneezing, and destroying everything around him.  Will he ever get better?
Be A Good Dragon is a fantastic story about a sneezy dragon who zaps everything in his path with his sneezes.  Told in rhyme that doesn't miss a beat, and that has no "clunky" lines that don't work, the story is full of laughs.  The author is also the illustrator and his drawings are hysterical and perfect for this fun-loving story.  There aren't many review books that I keep to add to my children's book shelf, but Be A Good Dragon is heading to that shelf as soon as this review is posted.  I look forward to many more books by author/illustrator Kurt Cyrus.
Quill says: Enzo the dragon is lovable, goofy, and silly, and what he does when he gets a bad cold will have everybody laughing.

#BookReview - May I Come In?

May I Come In?

By: Marsha Diane Arnold
Illustrated by: Jennie Poh
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1585363940
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2018
It's a nasty night - rain, thunder, lightning - and Raccoon is not happy.  He's cold and a bit frightened.  "Being alone on a night like tonight is scary," he says.  So he sets off to find a friend willing to take him in on such a dreay night.
Raccoon grabs his umbrella and heads to Possum's den:
"Possum, old friend, may I come in?"
Raccoon shouted over the thunder.
"What bad luck," Possum replied.
"My den's too small for one your size."
Determined to find shelter with a friend, Raccoon next heads to Quail's brambles.  But he gets the same reply from Quail, who says Raccoon is too wide to fit into the brambles.  Raccoon continues onward, heading to Woodchuck's hole as his umbrella is blown inside out by the wind and rain.  Unfortunately, Woodchuck too has no room for his friend.
Just as Raccoon is about to give up, he spots a light far off in the distance.  It's Rabbit's house...but when Raccoon knocks at the door and sees ten little rabbits hopping and bopping behind their mother, he assumes she too has no room for him. But Raccoon just might be in for a surprise.
May I Come In? is a sweet story that young readers will certainly enjoy.  It will be easy for them to identify with Raccoon who is frightened by the bad weather.  If read as a bedtime story, it allows several spots where parents can ask their children, "What would you do?" each time Raccoon is turned away.  The ending, which reassures children that good friends always find room to welcome others, is a comforting message that is perfect for a nighttime read during a bad storm.
Quill says: Making room for friends is a win-win and so is this book.  Sweet and charming.

#BookReview - Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest

Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest

By: Steve Richardson
Illustrated by: Chris Dunn
Publisher: Impossible Dreams Publishing Company
Publication Date: March 2018
ISBN: 978-0978642211
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2018
It's early fall and the children have just returned to school.  During recess, Jimmy Squirrel boasts that his dad, who owns the largest construction company in the state, is going to help him build an awesome treehouse.  This catches everybody's attention and they all start to talk about what they each could do to build a cool treehouse.  Soon the kids begin to challenge each other and the great treehouse contest is on!
Jimmy Squirrel is a bit of a braggart, but that doesn't stop the other children, Simon Shrew, Arnold Otter, Thomas Fox, and several others, from accepting the challenge. The children are a bit surprised, however, when quiet Paisley Rabbit joins the contest. She doesn't have a dad to help her, and her brother Davy is sickly, staying home between hospital visits because he needs a new kidney.  How could she hope to win the contest?
While the other children, with the help of their dads, get busy building their treehouses, Paisley Rabbit heads to the library to do research.  Next, while the other treehouses begin to take shape, Paisley Rabbit heads to town for some important meetings... The other children don't know about the meetings, only that Paisley Rabbit hasn't started building her treehouse.  She certainly doesn't stand a chance of winning the contest.
Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest was a fun story about one very determined little rabbit.  The boastful Jimmy Squirrel managed to scare off a few of the other contestants simply by his repeated bold statements about his treehouse, but Paisley Rabbit didn't let her friend's comments bother her.  She quietly, and with great determination, went about with her plan.  A clever aspect to the story is that the reader isn't given enough information to know exactly what the rabbit is doing. There's a bit of a mystery behind her treehouse - just what is she doing? - that add an extra element of fun to the story.  And no review of this book would be complete without mention of the absolutely fantastic illustrations that accompany the tale. Chris Dunn's watercolor paintings are stunning and really carry the story to a whole new dimension.  Finally, there is a fair amount of text, making this suitable for a "read-together" for six year olds, and a good tale for slightly older readers.  The author has also provided a lesson plan that meets Common Core State Standards on his website.
Quill says: A delightful story about a young rabbit who won't give up - leading to amazing results.

Monday, March 12, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Mirta Ines Trupp

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Mirta Ines Trupp, author of Destiny by Design: Leah's Journey.

FQ: Thank you for such an engaging story of a time in the not-so distant past. I was immediately intrigued by the subject matter of your book and wonder if there were times you had to step away from the writing given the familial connection. How did this affect your writing and what would you do to get back to it if you needed a break?
TRUPP: Firstly, allow me to express my gratitude for this opportunity. I’m honored you enjoyed the story and—as any author would tell you—nothing is more pleasing than having a tête-à-tête to discuss one’s work! I’m thrilled that you found the subject matter intriguing, as it is truly a topic very near and dear to my heart. I have a penchant for all things Judaic, along with a great passion for historical or period fiction. There is an adage that states “write what you know,” as well as, the axiom that urges one to “write the book you wish to read”—that is what I have done here.
The Abramovitz family in Destiny by Design: Leah’s Journey are a set of fictional characters; however, their plight, both in Imperial Russia and later in Argentina, is based on historical facts. My ancestors, although neither wealthy, nor of the nobility, resided in and around the port city of Odessa and although I was not made privy to their personal trials and tribulations; the general history of the people in that particular time and place has taken hold of my heart.
Throughout the writing process, I wasn’t emotionally affected to such a point where I had to step away from the work, as you say; rather, I was passionately motivated to validate the Abramovitz experience. Too often, when one mentions Russian Jews or the immigration of Eastern European Jewry, people think of Tevye and “Fiddler on the Roof.” There is nothing wrong with that—Sholem Aleichem, the author of the short stories which formulated that epic play and film, was a beloved and brilliant teller of tales. I, however, wanted to paint a different picture, mostly because of my aforementioned partiality for period novels. My fictional Abramovitz family was crying out to me. If ever I felt overwhelmed by the material, I simply focused on their voices. Their aspirations and achievements needed to be put down on paper; in that way, the reader could take Leah and her family into their hearts, hopefully setting them alongside the stories of Tevye or their own ancestors.
FQ: In your opinion, why do you think there was such an animosity toward the success of the Jewish community?
Author Mirta Ines Trupp
TRUPP: Ah…that is the question of the ages! I don’t know if I am qualified to answer that in any sort of definitive manner, but in general terms, I could—humbly—point to my research and narrow our view to a certain period in time. In the first few chapters of the book, you may recall this passage where Moishe Abramovitz responds to the revizor’s accusations...
“Inspector Reshetnikov, as you well know, we are not foreigners,” Moishe dared to point out. “My siblings and I were born here—in Odessa. My grandparents and those of their generation were practically invited by Catherine the Great with the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth! How can we be considered foreigners when Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland were assimilated by Mother Russia? We are Russian citizens just as the Moldavians, the Crimean Tatars, and Albanians…”
In 1772, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was invaded and the first of three partitions brought a huge territory under the control of the Russian Empire. Prior to that time, relatively small numbers of Jews lived in Russia, but with the incorporation of modern-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland, Jews became a sizable minority overnight.
The influx of Jewish merchants, scholars and farmers into “Novorossiya”, intimidated an already agitated population of mixed ethnicities. Beginning in 1792, Catherine acquiesced to internal pressure and created the Pale of Settlement, an area in the western part of the empire in which Jewish subjects would be obligated to reside—but even this couldn’t curtail the animosity or violence being perpetrated against them. Blamed for everything from disease, famine, economic strife and even the assassination of Alexander II, pogroms or attacks were often authorized by the church, local police or military officials. I don’t know if we can ever fully answer the question of ‘why’, but I suppose fear and ignorance are at the root of all atrocities.
FQ: In your acknowledgments, you reference the fact that your ancestors left Imperial Russia and began their new lives in Entre Rios in La Pampa. You expand on their success thereafter, but there was still the nuance of anti-Semitism and the significant role it played in the lives of Argentine Jews. Could you elaborate on the similarities between Russia and Argentina in such situations?
TRUPP: It was my intention to shed some light on the history of Jewish Argentina, mostly because when one mentions Jewish and Argentina in a sentence, people automatically think of Nazis. It is widely known that thousands of Nazis, high-ranking party members and collaborators—including many notorious war criminals—escaped and found refuge in Argentina. This was largely in part to Juan Peron and his connections to the Third Reich and of course, to many German immigrants who had remained faithful to the Fatherland. There is so much more to the story of Jewish Argentina and it was my hope not to focus solely on the anti-Semitic policies and tragic events. That being said, one cannot turn a blind eye to history and the presence of this particular evil.
Between Argentina’s peak immigration years of 1870-1930, there were approximately 130,000 Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. By the early-1960s, this number surpassed 250,000. Jewish Argentines figured more prominently in society than their numbers might have implied. From literary giants to Nobel-prize winning scientists, to artisans, educators and businessmen, the Jewish community left an indelible mark on Argentine culture. Although they have greatly shaped Argentine society, this community has been plagued by periodic outbursts of malicious anti-Semitism—very much like what they experienced in Russia and Eastern Europe. Examples abound…
In January 1919, for the duration of an entire “tragic week” (Semana Trágica), the Jewish community in Buenos Aires experienced physical violence and destruction of property. The coup d'état in 1943, orchestrated by a group of army officers known as the G.O.U. (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos) which included a relatively unknown colonel named, Juan Perón, imposed compulsory Catholic education. In 1962, after Eichmann was executed in Israel, gruesome riots broke out throughout Argentina, culminating in the so-called “Sirota affair.” Neo-Nazis kidnapped a college student named Graciela Narcisa Sirota and carved a swastika on her breast. Jewish organizations cited the incident as an example of police laxity in a mounting number of violent cases against their community. During the “Dirty War” era of 1976-1983, disproportionate numbers of Jewish students and professionals were victimized, kidnapped, tortured, or were simply made to “disappear. In the 1990’s, both the Israeli embassy and the A.M.I.A. (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) buildings were bombed—hundreds were killed or injured.
When I would ask my grandparents to tell me stories of Russia, they would sometimes reply, “What for? We have made a new life here.” When I would ask my cousins about the anti-Semitism they faced at school or with society in general, they would say, “Yes, it exists, but we don’t allow it to define us.” During the Jewish holiday of Passover, we read the story of the Exodus. We are directed to think as if we, ourselves, were the Israelites escaping Egyptian servitude. The point of the story, for me at least, is to recognize that at one time we were enslaved, tortured physically and mentally, but we are now free…what will we do with that personal freedom? We cannot move forward and create a better future for ourselves and our children, if we live as victims. So while the answer to your question is: Yes, they faced similar stifling and horrific events—comparable to what was experienced in Russia—in many important ways, their adopted country did, indeed, prove to be their “New Jerusalem.”
FQ: I’m in awe of authors who weave accurate history throughout the storyline. While you site many references, I’m assuming there were eyebrow raising moments when it hit close to home during your genealogy research. Please share an instance when this occurred and how it made you feel.
TRUPP: As noted above, there were stories—worthy of raising eyebrows and my ire—but I’d rather focus on the awe-inspiring stories! Throughout the many years of research, I have been blessed with several discoveries. Thanks to the wonderful people at the Civil Registry of Santa Isabel in La Pampa, I was gifted with numerous documents detailing the lives of my ancestors. They were able to send me birth, death, and marriage certificates of my relatives. In addition, the Jewish association in Bernasconi, La Pampa sent me a book which had been published to commemorate the founding of that particular Jewish colony. My paternal great grandparents are listed among the honored pioneers. In a Jewish cemetery in the town of Rivera, I discovered a tombstone with the name Esther batMendel Trup (daughter). I was not familiar with the infant, but Mendel Trupp was my grandfather. Upon further investigation, I confirmed that this baby had, indeed, been the second of the Trupp’s daughters; however, Esther had died within months of her birth. Her life and death was never discussed—my father never knew of this sister. With help from the Chevra Kadisha (the Burial Society) of that isolated township, I discovered a delicate branch in my family tree. It is a Jewish custom to commemorate the dead on the anniversary of their passing, as well as on the holiday of Yom Kippur—I now can recite the mourner’s Kaddish (a mourner’s prayer) for Esther. There is a Yiddish proverb that states: The only truly dead are those who have been forgotten. What started out as a hobby has enabled me to bring this babe into the family fold. Writing historical fiction has allowed me to provide my reader insight into a past society; it has allowed me to build a bridge between the “then and now.”
FQ: Have you ever visited the Russian empire of Odessa? If so, what resonated most for you? If not, do you have plans to ever do so?
I have never visited Russia or Odessa, which, of course, is in the modern-day country of Ukraine. In my first attempt at writing, I offered up a Creative Nonfiction which outlines my rather unique upbringing thanks, largely in part, to my father’s employment with Pan American Airlines. One of the many fringe benefits Pan Am bestowed upon their employees was the ability to fly around the world—practically for free! Unfortunately, the only place we ever visited was Argentina and I have at least five discarded passports to prove it! A trip to Odessa would be bittersweet, but it is definitely on my bucket list. Who knows, maybe one day, I will find myself sitting in a corner café in the Pearl of the Black Sea…drinking tea from a crystal podstakannik.
FQ: Given this is a story that touches upon familial experiences, was there any push-back from family members on any of the content? If so, how did you overcome the circumstance to reach an amenable way forward with the writing?
TRUPP: I am known as the family historian and genealogist. Upon the publication of “With Love, The Argentina Family” and later, “Becoming Malka” and finally, “Destiny by Design”, my family saw my dedication and passion come to life. Everyone has been supportive of my scribbling, although I do recall one or two cousins being surprised that I wrote a second and a third novel. They had assumed that, like the first book, I had continued to write my memoirs. Since “Becoming Malka” is about a tarot card endowed with time-travel abilities and “Destiny by Design” showcases an aristocratic family on the run, I found their comments worthy of being mocked! “Yes,” I retorted. “The books are all about my time travel to Odessa in 1901, where I wore a corset and a bustle—while dancing to the tune of ‘Tum Balalaika’ with the neighborhood cossack!” I found my answer to be quite amenable! I’m not quite sure what my cousins thought.
FQ: How long did this story percolate in your subconscious before you knew it was time to set pen to paper?
TRUPP: Even as I child, I was mesmerized by historical fiction. I remember reading a biography of Florence Nightingale in the third grade and the mold was set. The history, combined with the foreign settings, fashion, and mannerisms sparked something inside of me. In addition, I had a fascination with genealogy and my family’s own history of immigration, so you see; subconsciously, all of my novels were sown from the same seed.
In a previous question, I mentioned that old saying about writing the book you wish to read. With my novels, I did just that. I wanted to incorporate my love for Austen, Gaskell and the Bronte sisters with Judaica. I think we are seeing an extraordinary renaissance of the period drama—a quick look at Regency author, Jane Austen’s popularity can attest to that fact. Destiny by Design: Leah’s Journey took hold in my mind while I was writing Becoming Malka. In one of the final chapters of that book, Leah is having a heart-to-heart with Marina—otherwise known as Molly Abramovitz. Leah is confessing her dreams and aspirations, all the while ignorant to the fact that her world was about to come crashing down. I knew then and there—I had another story in me. It would be Leah’s turn, once I finished with my dear Molly. I published Becoming Malka in March of 2016 and began working on Destiny by Design in December.
FQ: You have a wonderful ability to breathe credibility into your characters. Of the many beautiful characters in Destiny by Design, who resonates most with you and why?
TRUPP: I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the diverse cast of characters. Each one brings their own individual gifts and talents to the story; it is rather difficult to choose one. Malka, the matriarch, is the epitome of elegance and wisdom. She imparts a sense of constancy and respectability. These are most definitely characteristics which I would hope to emulate. Then we have Leah, who, at times, reminded me of Lydia Bennett, the silliest of young ladies of “Pride and Prejudice” fame. With lighthearted, teenage bravado, Leah is continually throwing caution to the wind, and yet, I hope readers see a more refined—a more sensible—Elizabeth unfold as she (Leah) matures throughout the novel. I see myself in Leah’s plans and aspirations. While I can’t profess to have lived the life of an aristocrat, I can admit to the fact that, I too, was a cossetted and naive young lady—thanks to an overprotective and old-fashioned family. Like Leah, I wanted to pave my own way, paying homage to my culture and heritage, but fashioning my life in my own terms.
FQ: It’s been an honor and pleasure to chat with you today. I would imagine you are already onto the next project. Are you able to share what you’re working on and when we can expect to see it in print?
TRUPP: The pleasure has been all mine, I assure you! I would be delighted to share my next project with your reading audience, but I haven’t a clue to what that might be just yet! For now, I am letting this experience sink in. I’ve accomplished something that has brought me great joy—I know my parents would be kvelling with pride. I invite you all to follow me on Facebook to learn more about Jewish Argentina and view the various photo albums that depict the lives of those I mean to honor. Thank you again!
Mirta Ines Trupp

Sunday, March 11, 2018

20 Quirks & Strange Habits. The Weird Side of Famous Writers

Here's an interesting infographic on "20 Quirks & Strange Habits. The Weird Side of Famous Writers" by Jack Milgram. You can see a larger version of this at:

You can also visit Jack Milgram's Facebook page to see more great tips for writers:

Infographic by Jack Milgram Custom-Writing.Org

Saturday, March 10, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Michael Bernoudy

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Michael L. Bernoudy, author of Stained Glass Windows: Memoirs of a Cheater.

FQ: In the book's foreword you explain how you arrived at the title of your memoir - Stained Glass Windows.  I thought it was rather beautiful.  Would you share the meaning/how you arrived at the title, with our readers?
BERNOUDY: The eyes are the windows to the soul.  If we gave a color to all the people who have influenced us, then the windows to our souls would resemble stained glass windows.  These windows are generally found in holy places, and like holy places, what you see on the outside or expect to get doesn't always reflect the reality within.
FQ: As I mentioned in my review, you really share everything in your memoir, even events others might shy away from.  How did you decide what/how much to share in your book?
BERNOUDY: Concealing the truth does not make an accurate memoir.  If I didn't include everything, then it would just be reality-based fiction.
FQ: Your high school career as a rapper - do you ever miss those days?  Or wish that it might have become a career?  Do you ever get the urge to perform again?
BERNOUDY: Looking at many of today's rappers, I can't believe that I didn't make it big.  Lol.  But after looking at the way things turned out, I'm happy where I am.  Rapping was not meant to be my creative outlet.
Author Michael Bernoudy
FQ: Do you ever think about how your life might have turned out differently if you had not met Natasha and had that short fling that made you a convicted felon?  Do you think you would have stayed in the military?  Become a lawyer sooner?  Are there a lot of "what ifs"?
BERNOUDY: Well I only became an attorney because of this incident.  Really never had an interest in being a lawyer before this incident.  But I really didn't feel like justice was served in my case.  Had this never happened, I most likely would have been career military.
FQ: You talk about the struggles you had while going through probation and parole.  Indeed, it seems like in one sense, "the system," by making it so difficult, encourages felons to fall back into the same behaviors that got them there in the first place.  Do you see any hope in making the system better so that felons can get back on their feet?
BERNOUDY: Sadly no.  In some larger cities there are programs and opportunites for persons who have been convicted of crimes.  But generally, the nation doesn't care about what happens to persons convicted of crimes.
FQ: You had to overcome some major obstacles to get into law school and then again to become a lawyer.  What was it that drew you to the law so strongly?
BERNOUDY: I was convicted of a crime when someone lied to me about their age.  That didn't seem fair.  I decided that I wanted to learn more about the law so that I could help with future injustices (I know that sounds corny).
FQ: Mona - you truly had/have a love/hate relationship with her.  Are things better with her now or still somewhat crazy?  Do you truly think the two of you could have made it work?
BERNOUDY: I finished the first edition of this book in 2004.  Mona and I divorced in December of 2003.  We dated for about 3 years after our divorce but ultimately went our seperate ways.  She's been married with 2 kids for about a decade now.
FQ: You say at one point that " life seems to be an ever-revolving door of regret." (pg. 160)  Is that still the case?
BERNOUDY: Now days I'm the complete opposite of my younger self.  I spend my time working and writing.  I'm a soccer dad.  I kept repeating the same mistakes with women.  Now, I barely date and have been single for quite some time.
FQ: If you could sit down with your younger self, what advice would you give?  Do you think your younger self would actually take the advice?
BERNOUDY: Don't chase after every pretty face and big butt you see stay focused on your goals and what's important.  He most definiely wouldn't.
FQ: Along those same lines, you have three daughters who you are deeply devoted to and love.  If there was just one thing that you could tell them, what would it be?
BERNOUDY: Every date, every meeting, every interesting encounter doesn't have to lead to a relationship.  Meeting people is good, necessary for growth but keep your hearts and bodies guarded.

#BookReview - Stained Glass Windows: Memoirs of a Cheater

Stained Glass Windows: Memoirs of a Cheater

By: Michael L. Bernoudy, Jr.
Publisher: Blu Phi'er Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9858378-2-2
Review by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 10, 2018
Author Michael Bernoudy delivers a deeply honest, no-holds-barred story of his life in his memoir, Stained Glass Windows.
This memoir is divided into six sections, each representing an important stage in the author's life.  From "Loss of Innocence" through the final "Hope for the Future," these sections take the reader through a vast array of experiences and events.  Within each section are chapters, all named for women who have been a part of Mr. Bernoudy's life - relatives, teachers, his much-loved three daughters, wives (yes, more than one), as well as a long list of lovers.
Author Michael Bernoudy

Mr. Bernoudy begins his story with his earliest memories - "...the happiest times in my life, when it was just my mom and me."  His parents, both Vietnam vets, were not a well-matched pair and there was tension in the marriage.  Because money was tight, Mr. Bernoudy's mother went back to the military and this led to feelings of abandonment.  He spent time with his father, and then his grandmother, but like any young child, he missed his mother.  This sense of longing for his mother, desiring closeness and yet not getting that much needed contact, the author explains, would have a profound impact on his own future relationships with women.
The author next moves on to his life in Lewisville, Arkansas (having moved from Los Angeles at the age of five or six).  As a city kid trying to adjust to life in a sleepy southern town, there were challenges met and struggles to overcome.  For his last two years of high school, Mr. Bernoudy became a rapper and his group actually made an album.  But it was the trouble he got into, and the fighting, during those final years of high school that got the author expelled.  It was R.O.T.C. that saved the young man from trouble and within the walls of the R.O.T.C. building where he felt he belonged.
As the pages turn, Mr. Bernoudy shares many events that other writers might hesitate to share.  He tells of the time his friend Dell brought two very hot young women to his house.  Dell soon left again, taking one of the girls with him.  Mr. Bernoudy and the other woman had a wild night and it wasn't until several days later that he learned the girl was underage.  He was arrested and was soon a convicted felon - he was now listed as a sex offender.  This had a ripple effect on his life; keeping him from going to law school and getting him discharged from the military.  But the author continued to struggle onwards and he did eventually get that law degree and not only practice law, but have his own law firm.  Along the way were lessons learned, woman dated, and career choices made.
Stained Glass Windows takes the reader through a whirlwind of emotions as the author shares his deepest desires, wants, and needs throughout the book.  With 37 chapters, there are a lot of women and events chronicled in this memoir.  The intimate scenes, and there are many, are not overly explicit, because the author is focusing on the relationships rather than the physical events.  While many of the women chronicled in this memoir only appear for a few pages, and thus it's hard to get to know them, the author does a nice job of bringing to life several more prominent women, such as Mona, his wife, then ex-wife, a woman who moved out a total of twelve times.
When I received this book for review, I admit that I thought a memoir of a cheater wouldn't be to my liking, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself drawn into the story.  Mr. Bernoudy has a knack for writing as though he is talking to a friend over drinks at the local bar, sharing stories of his life.  The story had a nice, easy flow and was an interesting read that left me thinking about how a few life choices can alter everything to follow.
Quill says: A very personal story that entertains while also providing a cautionary tale of one man's mistakes.
For more information on Stained Glass Windows: Memoirs of a Cheater, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Destiny by Design: Leah's Journey

Destiny by Design: Leah's Journey

By: Mirta Ines Trupp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: December 2017
ISBN: 978-1974562800
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 5, 2018
Mirta Ines Trupp delivers a tale full of history, grit and resurrection in her latest novel, Destiny by Design.
Malka is the matriarch of the Abramovitz family. It is 1900 in Odessa, Russia and the current challenge is to keep her overprivileged daughter Leah at bay during the family meeting. While planning Leah’s eighteenth birthday is important, there are greater concerns to address. Leah’s oldest brother Moishe has called a family meeting. There are tumultuous times ahead if one is a Jew living in Russia. Moishe took the liberty to extend an invitation to Aaron, the family accountant, as support to plead his dire case. Leah, on the other hand, is not having any of it. Malka hadn’t asked to be the head of the family but had no choice when her beloved husband passed five years earlier. Granted, he had left a solid legacy for his family thanks to the success of the Abramovitz Manufacturing Company. However, Mother Russia had other designs for its future destiny.
The revizor has paid the family a visit; forcing Avram, Malka’s logical and studious son, to request an extension to maintain the required balance needed to qualify their business for certification. The increasing animosity toward wealthy Jews in Odessa is becoming more ominous with each passing month. Leah, on the other hand, wants nothing of this ridiculous drama. Soon it will be her eighteenth birthday and the most important matter to focus on is the grand display her family will orchestrate to make the occasion the envy of all her friends. What Leah doesn’t realize is while opulence and indulgence may be all she has ever known, the Abramovitz family will be faced with the decision of either fleeing their Mother Russia with their lives in tact or stay and lose everything.
I applaud Mirta Ines Trupp for the depth she demonstrates in writing an historical account of the perils Jews faced in 1900 Russia immediately preceding the Russian Revolution. She touches upon the premise of the have’s and have not’s and the stark differences between both classes. There are several passages early on where she focuses on the distinct corruption a government can force on a class of people to be sure they never get ‘too successful.' It is the government that will have the final say at the end of the day. The dialogue is rich, and the character development is defined beautifully. The motivation and inspiration behind this story is bittersweet as Ms. Trupp shares her personal journey of setting pen to paper in organizing this quite engaging story: “…Throughout this process, I have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of what my ancestors achieved. Had they remained in Russia, they would have, of course, suffered through the Revolution and the tumultuous period thereafter…” It is always a joy to read a story that is blanketed with the history that surrounds the premise. It is a winning formula that immediately captures the desire of the reader to continue to turn the pages. Beautiful job Ms. Trupp! I look forward to reading your next book.
Quill Says: Destiny by Design is an epic journey that portrays the strength of family in the direst of times.

#BookReview - Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Ville

Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Ville

By: Janice E. Clark
Illustrated by: P. Anthony Visco
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-1983740725
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 7, 2018
It's the first day of school at Wee Ville Elementary School and all the students are excited to be starting a new year.  Along with 'reading, writing, and arithmetic,' students are about to meet a very special young man with a very positive, truly amazing attitude that will change them all.
As the new school year begins, the children of Mrs. Fernandes' class are eager to get started and they are happily smiling and chatting away as they choose their new desks. When the youngsters settle down, their teacher welcomes another student who is a bit late arriving for school.  Mrs. Fernandes introduces her pupils to Roland Faissett, a boy dressed up as a wizard, complete with cap and magic crystal ball.
Slowly, he walked across the room,
Robe dragging on the floor.
He chose a seat that stood alone
Right by the Exit door.
Roland seems to be a quiet boy, but soon the class is busy with their first assignment - drawing a picture of something they did on summer vacation - and forget about the shy child.  At last it's lunchtime and the students eagerly head to the cafeteria.  While there, Caitlin, another of Mrs. Fernandes' students, notices that Roland isn't at lunch. Her teacher explains that he had an appointment and would return the next day.
The next day the students in Mrs. Fernandes' class are happy to see that shy Roland has returned, still in his wizard outfit.  The day progresses quickly until recess when the students start asking the young wizard about his outfit.  He explains that the nurses at the hospital made the costume and gave him the crystal ball so he could work magic and get better.  Roland's new friends are curious so the boy takes off his hat and shows off his bald head.  He explains that, "I had treatments called chemotherapy because my blood is sick," and that his crystal ball allows him to see his future healthy self which helps him get better.   Roland's new friends are happy to learn that Roland is finished with his treatments and for Halloween, they all do something very special that brings the whole class together to cheer on Roland and his recovery.
Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Ville is a touching story that is perfect to share both with youngsters who are faced with medical challenges as well as their friends who may not understand what is happening.  The story doesn't focus on Roland's chemo or other  challenges, but rather on how the other students react - and help their new friend.  They see a boy dressed differently and rather than make fun of him, they ask questions because they are curious.  Indeed, even the boy's name - Roland Faissett (roll and face it) - is a play on words that show the amazing resilience of children.  The watercolor illustrations are lovely and add a nice, soft touch to the story.
Quill says: Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Ville shows, in a heartwarming way, the positive reactions children can have to somebody who is different and how, with love and caring, they can help that child overcome his/her challenges.
For more information on Roland Faissett and The Wizards of Wee Ville, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Imperfect Justice

Imperfect Justice (Hidden Justice)

By: Cara Putman
Publisher: Haper Collins Publishers
Publication Date: December 2017
ISBN: 978-0718083489
Review by: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: March 2018
Emilie Wesley spends her time as a lawyer at the Haven, a safe place for women to get help to get out of domestic violence relationships. Although it can be stressful, Emilie is great at what she does and has been able to help numerous women. Although she has helped many, her recent case is one that she cannot move forward from.
Kaylene Adams has been coming to the Haven for the past couple of months looking to get out of the abusive relationship with her husband Robert. Along with leaving Robert, Kaylene plans on taking her two children Kaydence and Kinley with her. Although Kaylene had been going back and forth with the idea of leaving Robert, the time has finally come. Her plans were to meet with her attorney, Emilie, to officially get a protective order against Robert.
When Emilie got to the courtroom, she was expecting to see Kaylene there. When she couldn't find her, she began to panic. After calling her numerous times, with no answer, Emilie had to postpone the hearing until she could find her client. As she was leaving the courtroom, Emile spotted a detective that she knew. Emilie asked him to check on Kaylene and let her know if Kaylene was okay. Emilie continued her day, but later got an unexpected call. Kaylene and her daughter Kaydence were dead and Kinley, although still alive, had been wounded as well. It is suspected that Kaylene shot both of her daughters before turning the gun on herself.
Knowing that this cannot be true, Emilie decides that she has to figure out what actually happened. Not wanting to go to Robert, Emilie contacts Kaylene's brother Reid. Reid however is hesitant - he isn't sure what information he can give Emilie since he wasn't very close to Kaylene.
Emilie, not wanting to give up and knowing that she has to save Kinley, continues to look into Kaylene's death. Reid, not wanting to believe it either, wanted to look into Kaylene's death as well. Although Reid wasn't close to Kaylene, he did have a couple boxes of Kaylene's that she asked him to keep for her. While he was looking through those boxes, he found a letter from her. In the letter she asks him to look after her children if anything were to happen to her. After reading the letter, although he still doesn't know what was going on between Kaylene and Robert, he knows that he has to do whatever he can to protect Kinley and clear Kaylene's name.
Emilie and Reid begin working together to not only protect Kinley, but to get the proof they need to clear Kaylene's name. Although they have people who say things weren't the best between Kaylene and Robert, they do not have the proof they need to prove it was Robert and get custody of Kinley. Emilie and Reid, knowing that they can't help Kaylene anymore begin to wonder if and when they will get enough evidence to prove Kinley shouldn't be in Robert's care. As the time draws nearer for Kinley to be released from the hospital, Emilie and Reid are in a race against time to get justice for Kaylene and Kaydence and protect Kinley.
Imperfect Justice was an interesting read. When you first start reading, you start to get an idea of how the book is going to go. You believe that Emilie knows the truth, but now she has to prove it. As the book goes on, you can get conflicted. On one hand, you want to believe that Kaylene wouldn't hurt her children, but as Emilie and Reid hit one roadblock after another, you can start to think that maybe Kaylene did do it. You continue down this path of - I don't know or it could go either way - until the very end. The end ties it together and tells you a story that you weren't expecting. The story is very well written and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering if Emilie was going to get what they needed in time.
Quill says: Imperfect Justice is a great read and shows that you really can't judge a book by its cover.