Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with John Henry Hardy, author of Whisper In My Ear (Vol I of III)
FQ: Out of your main stars, is there one character that is most like you? In the same respect, are these characters based on people you met during your years of service?
HARDY: Yes Amy, there is a character that I think is like me. Although I do not have the stature of a football player, I tried to create Dion Murphy in my image. I too was turned down by West Point, and was raised on a farm like Dion. After attending Catholic grammar school, I enrolled in a small public high school that was too small to field a football team, but I was very adept at intramural sports. Also, Dion and I we were both Marine officers, and I tried to project how I feel about women into his character. To answer the second half of you question, there is no doubt in my mind the characters of Norman Coddington, Dion's platoon sergeant Jim Russ, and Sid Johnson (the Marine sniper who kills Ngu Gin) are based on real life Marines. Even Ngu Gin is a character based on a North Vietnamese sniper, who ate cobra meat to give him courage. Some of the other people in the story are real, but I didn't know them personally.
FQ: Can you tell readers how this project first came into your mind?
HARDY: After my first stint in a Marine Corps Reserve artillery battery, I attended college and I was reading a newspaper article about an army nurse, who just returned from Vietnam. As she was walking through the airport in uniform, some kid with a punk hair cut hit her in the back with an orange and called her a baby killer. That kid, who probably wasn't smart enough to wipe his own arse, had no clue as to what the doctors and nurses did and endured n Vietnam and on the hospital ships. At Da Nang hospital alone, they treated 66,000 patients during the war, both American and Vietnamese. I was infuriated, and thus in my mind was born the characters of Cathy Addison and Marlene Larkin. By the way, although the four main characters are fictitious the events of the war are mostly based on facts.
FQ: Being Volume I of III; can you give us a bit of a “sneak peek” as to what’s in store for us moving forward?
HARDY: In volume II, the F4 pilot, Norman Coddington is angered by the Viet Cong trying to hit the hospital where the love of his life, Barbara Mandera, is working, not to mention the wounded and he seeks his revenge. Dion Murphy ends up in intensive care and Cathy Addison is his nurse. While caring for the wounded, a Viet Cong patient sneaks up behind her with the intention of stabbing her in the back with a pair of scissors. Barbara Mandera's ex, a psychopath named Ray Slaugh, discovers she is in Vietnam and he stalks her with the intention of killing her for leaving him. She eludes him so he decides to take his revenge out on Cathy Addison, Barbara's best friend in Vietnam. We meet another nurse named Nina Mumsford, an army nurse assigned to Korea, who falls in love with a handsome doctor and leaves her state-side husband, and lives to regret it. She meets up with Cathy and Barbara in Vietnam, and her experience is invaluable when Ray Slaugh stalks and terrorizes the entire women's barracks in his search for Barbara Mandera. This volume is meant to give the general public an understanding of what women in war can go through, even due to the problems created by American soldiers as well as the Viet Cong.
FQ: How do you feel about the way things have changed in regards to the respect shown to the amazing people who serve and have served this country? Are there areas you wish could be addressed that may not have seen changes as of yet when it comes to veterans?
HARDY: Thank God our returning vets no longer have to endure the horrors heaped upon our military by the "me first generation" during the Vietnam War! Obama did virtually nothing for the veterans, who sacrificed life and limb for our great nation. When Donald Trump was elected president, I got down on my knees and thanked our Creator! Under Trump's leadership the public's opinion has done a one hundred eighty degree turn towards our veterans (although it actually started changing somewhat before then). But as president he is strengthening our armed forces and the treatments of our veterans. The one thing I would like to see changed as of this moment is the availability of housing. So many of our veterans are living on the streets. Even if we could just provide temporary housing until the vets were able to improve their lives and get back on their feet (so to speak) it would be a great step forward.
FQ: Thirty-three years in the U.S. Marine Corp. Can you give a little information on your background and that area of your life?
HARDY: I entered the US Marine Corps on 27 June 1961 as a scared and skinny private. It was also my 22nd birthday. After basic training on Parris Island, South Carolina, it was on to infantry and artillery training. At that time, President Kennedy sent additional advisors to South Vietnam in light of China's providing North Vietnam with military aid and their attempt to spread communism, and our armed forces were struggling with the type of training needed to counter-act guerilla type warfare. My stint was over in 1966 and I entered college, and the day before I graduated in 1972 I reenlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, with the intention of going to Officer Candidate School. However according to the needs of the Corps at the time I was promoted to Warrant Officer and served in various billets as a Military Police officer and later as a Public Relations officer, and a Marine Aircraft Group Staff officer for almost ten years. Then I transferred back to the fourth division were I served as a platoon commander, company commander, engineer officer, and Force Level Staff officer, where I retired on 27 June 1999. I was in the active reserve and on active duty at various times during my career, but never assigned to a combat zone. However, I met hundred of Marines who were there and got to know a lot of what on in Vietnam from their first hand experience, as well as interviewing other personnel in the army, readings book by those who served there, and doing other meticulous research. While the four main characters in the story are fictitious, the events of the war as depicted in Whisper In My Earare factual for the most part, as is the culture of the Vietnamese at that time.
FQ: Having a BA in psychology, does that (and if so, how does it) help in regards to dealing with the psychological/emotional issues you address in this book?
HARDY: Having a BA in Psychology helped a little in character development. I wanted to be a clinical Psychologist and the company I worked for paid a good deal of my tuition. But in New Jersey you need a Master's Degree to be a licensed psychologist (at least at that time). Unfortunately, the company needed lawyers on its General Counsel and was paying thirty one selected employees to attend law school and also paid them a salary while attending classes. The day before graduation thirty of them resigned, and the company changed the tuition rules so I could no longer continue in my area of interest. But being older and my own personal life experiences, working for a large corporation, and being a Marine actually helped me the most.
FQ: Is there a memorable moment you can share in regards to meeting a veteran who read this book? Something that perhaps really struck you?
HARDY: Yes, in fact there were several memorable moments. It is amazing how my perspective of the war differed from theirs. For example, one vet I talked to spent a year on Monkey Mountain as a mortar man. Yet his unit never knew who named it Monkey Mountain or why, but I did even though I had never set a foot on Monkey Mountain. I met a man who claimed to be a former Navy Seal, and yet he never heard of Rung Sat, and others who never heard of the fate of the aircraft carrier US Forrestal and the one hundred thirty two crewman who died trying to save their ship and their comrades-even though they were in Nam at the time!.
FQ: Have you always wished to one day be a writer? If so, are there also other genres or areas you wish to write in one day, when this series has come to an end?
HARDY: Yes, when I was in grammar school I was encouraged to continue writing and finished my first novel when I was eighteen. I have already written a novel called The Place Where The Giant Fell, which deals with prejudice in pre-statehood Arizona, and another book When Brothers Meet that deals with the humungous debt of our country and the attempts of China and Russia to destroy the United States and control the world's oil supply.
FQ: Who do you feel was the best U.S. President when it came to successfully running the country and taking care of its people, and why? If you could meet that person, is there one question you would explicitly like to ask them?
HARDY: I love what President Trump is doing for our country right now. I don't care what he Tweets, what his personal relationships are or were, or what the party, whose appropriate symbol is a Jackass, says about him. Strengthening our military, dealing with the unfair trade balances, and his attempts to seal the border are primal problems facing this nation. I also love Lincoln. He saved the union and abolished slavery forever in this country. What amazes me is that the Democratic Party was the dominant party in the south and fostered the slavery of blacks. Yet most blacks who are registered are Democrats. If I was a black man and knew that about the Democratic Party, I wouldn't walk away, I would run!
Sir, I thank you for your time, this amazing book, and I most definitely thank you for your service. I look forward to reading the volumes to come. - Amy Lignor
It’s a love triangle of epic proportions, except that two of the three don’t know that the other exists. Marissa Moreau is recently a not-so-happily married part-owner of New Heights, a pregnancy crisis center. In her world of troubles, she believes her husband is potentially being unfaithful to her and is still grieving over the loss of a pregnancy and a continuous battle of infertility. Unfortunately, she believes he may be cheating because of her infertility problems, and begins spying on him, only to discover far more than she had ever bargained for.
Colin, Marissa’s husband, is a distinguished professor who has the perfect life, except for the fact it’s all a facade. He’s got a gorgeous wife, an established career, coaches boy’s Little League and is up for tenure. It can’t get much better than that, only that he’s unhappy in his marriage and has a woman on the side. What’s worse is that this woman is actually one of his students, which could ruin not only his marriage, but the career he’s worked so hard for. While this fact should stop him, it doesn’t until it’s far too late and she becomes pregnant, threatening everything he’s ever worked for.
Kaitlyn Farrows is a college student, employee at The Bean - a local coffee shop - and, most importantly, newly pregnant by a man she can’t even claim she has a relationship with because of his career. She knew that seeing her college professor was a bad idea, but it never stopped her. Now Kaitlyn is pregnant and will have to quit school. Once she quits school, however, there’s no reason they can’t take their relationship further and make it public…except he broke it off, without even knowing she’s pregnant. Desperate to make a way for her and the baby, with or without Colin’s help, she takes up a second job at New Heights where she is finally accepted and feels at least partly secure. Now if only Colin would listen to her and take her back. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to go through all this alone.
Marissa and Kaitlyn quickly become friends and sources of support to one another. While neither shares too much about their personal situations, they know the gist of what is happening in each other's lives and try to help each other out as much as possible. Colin, completely unaware that his wife and his pregnant mistress know one another and are actually friends, and the girls, not knowing just how intertwined their lives are, are in for the surprise of their lives because, as always, the truth always comes out. It’s up to love, hope and faith to keep them all going through this time, no matter how it ends.
Georgiana Daniels has made the characters of this book so relatable that it makes you wonder what you would do in the characters' shoes. Would you ever forgive your husband for such an unspeakable act? Would you stay with him or be unable to deal with what he’s done? Could you remain friends with the woman he cheated on you with? Although religion is lightly mentioned throughout the book, it’s so woven in that it’s not overbearing for those who aren’t particularly religious, but those who are can still contemplate what it means to forgive as a Christian. It truly makes you ask yourself what your limits are and how you would handle such a situation. By the end of the book, you are cheering for Marissa and feeling for her situation, while dying to know the outcome and what is next. I do hope there will be another book in this series, because I don’t quite want to part with Marissa and I certainly want to see how Kaitlyn and her new baby girl develop as time goes by.
Quill says: Shadows of Hope is a lightly suspenseful read that leaves you unwilling to put it down.
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with John Henry Hardy, author of The Day God Played Baseball
FQ: What is your baseball background?
HARDY: Well Barbara Scott you may chuckle over this, but my baseball experience is limited to playing in the cow pastures with my cousins who lived next door to me in an old duplex farmhouse. I also played grammar school baseball with the orphans who resided at Saint Michaeel's Childrens Home in the little town of Hopewell, New Jersey. That being said however, my daughters Michele and Wendy were rather athletic and were the only two girls to make a the league team. The boys all wore their hair long as was the style then so the coach thought they were boys, since he didn't know any of the kids names as it was a try-out session. When practice was over and my two kids were picked to play on the team, the coach was flabbergasted when I called them by name. It was a miracle they made the team. That is the basis for concocting the story The Day God Played Baseball. I also did a lot of research to learn about various pitches and the rules of the game, and that league coach, whose real name I can't remember, became Alex Sardinski, one of the main characters in the story.
FQ: Do you come from a tiny town like Pineville, PA?
HARDY: Yes I owned a small farm in Pineville, Pennsylvania for several years. We had five cows, two horses, hundreds of chickens, several dogs and a coupe of rabbits. My children learned responsibility early in life, since taking cre of farm animals is a lot of work; it was how I grew up. We actually lived in Pineville, when the girls made the league team. The town is so small it looks like a mere cross-roads to a stranger. It had a general store that also served as the post office and boasted of a tavern, both of which are depicted in the story.
FQ: You seem to know a lot about the textile industry; where does that knowledge come from?
HARDY: I worked on a farm that belonged to Catholic Charities and its produce went to the orphanage mentioned above, Barbara. We would take the corn and other grains to the feed mill and have it ground up into feed for the stock. That is when I learned about the colorful flour sacks the farmer's wives made into dressees, skirts and blouses. Of course there was the ubiquitous burlap bags for the cattle feed, but later the plastic coated feed bags became very popular and were cheaper to make than the cloth bags. I also researched the textile industry to make certain I knew something about that industry.
FQ: Do you envision this book as suitable for young adult readers?
HARDY: I was raised in a Catholic home and I have a strong belief in God, and I wanted to write something that the youth of this country might find interesting and perhaps inspirational. Our country was founded on Christian-Judeo principles that are waning as progressives and the American Civil Liberties Union push our nation toward atheism, with the assistance of the liberal ideologists in our schools and colleges.
FQ: You have several “miraculous” happenings in the baseball game engineered by Timmy; how did you decide what specific plays/moves God might make?
HARDY: Actually Barbara the ideas just popped into my psyche as I wrote the book. I wanted something simple and subtle, and not out right miracles. I wanted the story to be humorous and not to religious oriented. I also wanted a story and the character of Timmy to relate to all religions and not just Christianity.
FQ: Maria is a “natural” name for the mother of God, but why did you choose Timmy (later Tommy) for the “god-boy” baseball ace?
HARDY: Well Barbara, I wanted the God character to have a name just like any other kid who plays baseball. The name Maria points you in the direction of who Timmy really is in the story, but his common name identifies more closely with the kids who actually play baseball. When it become so obvious that God loves baseball as much as the other kids do when He appears as a pitcher for another team and another season, I wanted a name that was very similar to Timmy's name so a youngster could readily identify the new pitcher on Alex's team; a one letter change from Timmy to Tommy worked very nicely for me.
FQ: Have you known of amazing turnarounds in a life such as you depict in the life of Conrad Beamis?
HARDY: I once worked in the business world and met a few people who remind me of a Conrad Beamis type character, although all of them were not males; I wanted to make fun of them as they did some rather mean things. My wife was a Chemical Dependency Nurse and detoxed many drug and alcohol abusers-the Heroin users were the worst patients-and although I never knew their names I knew their turn-around stories.
FQ: One scene that is especially moving is when Conrad’s autistic son makes a great play. Have you worked with autistic children in sports?
HARDY: No I have not, but I have a relative who is autistic, and I can tell you first hand that they live a rather challenging life, and I wanted to give a young adult who reads this book a glimpse of what kinds of challenges autistic children-and their parents-face every single day of their lives. When that autistic boy finally gets a hit and the people cheered, I hope it gives the reader the impression that all is not lost for for these unfortunate people if we love them and support their efforts.
FQ: What can you say about baseball as a character-building sport for children?
HARDY: Baseball, and in fact all sports are a great opportunity to instill in all children a sense of work, comradeship, and self confidence. Hopefuilly, they will relize the need to be physically active all of of their lives. The lack of exercise is one of the major causes of poor health among adults, along with smoking and drug abuse, which includes alcohol.
FQ: Do you envision a sequel to The Day God Played Baseball?
HARDY: Maybe some day the good Lord will inspire me to write something like The Day God Played Baseball, and hopefully if I work hard enough at it the kids will understand and espouse that we need to keep God in our Pledge of Alligence and in the Christian-Judeo principles upon which our country is founded!
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with John Henry Hardy, author of Whisper In My Ear (Vol II of III)
FQ: This series definitely gives women a large role in the war. Can you give a little background in regards to Cathy Addison? How she came about; what made you wish to give her such a large role in what some would call a “man’s universe?”
HARDY: You can call it a man's universe Amy, but it is not and never has been solely the men who fought in wars. Women have played important roles in all wars in which the US has been involved. Some disguised themselves as men and served in battle, especially during the Civil War. Women have not always served in combat, but they have always played an important part in the defense of our nation in one way or another. The men did most of the fighting and still do; however many women have been killed or wounded in WWII, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. I have a daughter that served in the air force and another that was in the navy. The role of Cathy Addison in the story is typical of what a lot of women endure in war zones, and I inserted Cathy into the story as a main character as a tribute to all the women who have ever worn a uniform for this country, and I am hoping they will continue receive the respect and recognition they so richly deserve.
FQ: In regards to the above, and having spent thirty-three years in the U.S. Marine Corp., can you talk a little bit about your views when it comes to women’s recent uprising against certain things? Do you feel they warrant this, for lack of a better term, revolution and should seek justice?
HARDY: This question really left me scratching my head, Amy! I am rather ambivalent about the current situation, whereas women are reporting that they were sexually harassed twenty or thirty years ago. Any crime committed against any human being needs to be reported immediately, and the criminal brought to justice if found guilty. A lot of these women (but not all) , who endured such treatment, put up with it to enhance their careers or social position at the time (such as the Harvey Weinstein case), and now years later they want justice? Putting up with that harassment at the time for personal gain was a choice they made at the time. In the Marine corps, any known or reported infractions or crimes are addressed immediately. In light of the current events, I guess each complaint needs to be judged on an individual case basis, and some charges such as those fostered by liberals against the president are politically motivated-in my opinion.
FQ: This series, thus far, has been so moving and so emotional, are there times you need to “walk away” from the computer keyboard and take a breath, or did this story “pour out” of your mind all at once?
HARDY: What I realized Amy, was that when I get emotional-and I do-it keeps me glued to the keyboard-and my fingers work in harmony with my brain and I can't walk away; that is when the story "pours out" of mind mind and I don't want to quit. However since I am also my wife's full time caretaker, I get a lot of "breaks" I really don't want to take. Otherwise, if I do "walk away" at other times its because I can't think of what to write next, and if possible I sit quietly somewhere else to plot the next sequence of events.
FQ: Along those lines, can you tell readers what a “John Henry Hardy Perfect Writing Day” is like? Do you have various things that must be done in order to get back into the flow of the story after taking a break? (Example: Do you need to write outside, in a den, have music in the background, need total silence…etc.?)
HARDY: A perfect writing day for me, Amy, is perfect silence. I am a very conscious person, and any thought of a pending task or question greatly disturbs my creative thought process. I am simply forced to react and usually lose my whole train of thought.
FQ: When you finished work on this, Volume II, did you head directly into writing the grand finale? And, did you know how it was going to end before you even began?
HARDY: To be honest with you Amy, I wrote this story as a single book and not a series. I did a lot of research, interviews of combat veterans, and read several books and numerous newspaper articles to make certain I got the facts of the war straight-especially the horrible treatment of our returning veterans. My emotions kicked in, and I just kept on writing. It was the publisher that convinced me to break the book down into a series; it was a good decision. Whenever I write a book I always know the beginning and the end, but they are only a few sentences in my head. I must do a lot of "fleshing out" throughout the book to make the story work.
FQ: Can you give readers a “sneak peek” of what they will see for these characters in Volume III?
HARDY: Volume III looks at what happened to the main characters towards the end of their tours of duty and when they arrive home. A prior book reviewer said, "Volume III morphs into a soap opera."
What that reviewer doesn't realize is that there is life during a war, and after it is over everything and everyone has changed, including the survivors and those on the home front. Everything changes for the veteran but love; it is the one thing that keeps a soldier's hopes alive during a war. For the combat soldier and everyone else involved in wars, the word home has a magical ring to it. Dion Murphy and Cathy Addison are court martialed and charged with murder; Norman Coddington is shot down over North Vietnam and is captured and tortured for years in the Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo); the facts of the North Vietnamese torture of prisoners is verified by other POWs; Barbara Mandera returns to the Philippines and marries a man of infamous notoriety. But that is not how this story ends!
FQ: Are you currently working on another book?
HARDY: Yes I am Amy. It is about UFOs and space travel to another planet inhabited by an advanced and peace loving race, but their sun is dying, and they are looking for a new home. However, US government officials believe the blips seen on NORAD's radar screens every Christmas Eve are really foreign nationals infiltrating the country and that they are bent on destroying the United States.
FQ: As a writer, the question of what one can do to become a better writer or a published author is asked a great deal. So, let us flip the coin: If there was one thing you would recommend or “teach” to those who want to write in regards to the negatives of this craft and what they need to avoid, what would you say?
HARDY: My advice to any new writer (including myself) is to say that if writing is not your passion you may as well forget it. In extremely rare cases, such as J. K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series, you can sell millions of copies of your book without paying a dime to a publisher. As an indie publisher, you are going to have to pay someone sooner or later, and you will be surprised at the number of scammers out there. I have heard of authors, who literally paid thousands of dollars to have their manuscripts edited only to have them appear in print with the same mistakes make in the original copy. There are several sites on the internet that offer advice on which publishers are reputable and those who are not; do your research and fine your best choice.
FQ: The violence in this country seems to be escalating on a daily basis. Do you have any personal views as to what is causing this and what, perhaps, people could do to end this violence?
HARDY: Violence has been a part of humanity since the stone age. But additional guns laws aren't the answer. Anyone wanting to kill people can use, knives, swords, baseball bats, golf clubs, homemade bombs, etc etc etc. Perhaps vetting the buyers, shutting down random gun shows and sales, and enforcing a waiting period would be more effective. But most important of all, is the mere pittance we spend on mental health issues in this country-that is the heart of the problem. With better mental health facilities, the mentally ill could be identified sooner before another tragedy occurs.
By: John Henry Hardy Publisher: CreateSpace Publication Date: September 2017 ISBN: 978-1973953814 Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott Review Date: March 25, 2018
If a baseball team ever needed help, it is today; yet somehow Alex Sardinski suspects that a savior is out there, as the Cherokees, the youth baseball team he coaches, battles it out with their biggest rivals, the Creeks.
Sardinski, banker in the tiny town of Pineville, PA, has coached the Cherokees for fourteen years. His passion for the sport, his willingness to play fair, his openness to take both boys and girls for the team, are all part of who he is. Another important piece of Sardinski’s character of late has been his loving feelings for Candy Hollis, who works in the bank. Alex has even found a nice little house for sale that they can just afford. It all seems like a dream coming true. But there is a force of evil in Pineville – Conrad Beamis, who owns the only big business in town, a textile mill, and supports the Creeks. Beamis is enraged at Sardinski for refusing to recommend him for a loan, and schemes revenge. He recruits big, rough boys, secretly too old for the team, and has the umpires in his pocket, folks who won’t defy Beamis for fear of losing their jobs. But worse, he courts Candy, offering her a big salary to be his personal secretary.
By the day of the championship game, Beamis is crowing and Sardinski is sweating. But Sardinski has a secret weapon, a small, energetic kid named Timmy, newly recruited as pitcher. Timmy and his mother Maria seem to have come from out of nowhere, yet know all about the lovelorn banker even without being told. As the big game looks lost, 6-0 in favor of the Creeks, Timmy starts displaying his remarkable, almost supernatural skills, and things slowly turn around.
Author, businessman and former Marine Hardy (Whisper in My Ear, The Day the Giants Fell, When Brothers Meet) has created a magical mystery combining the excitement of a kid’s baseball championship with the course of a true love derailed and a serious adult rivalry that threatens an entire community. His writing shows an enjoyment of simple, hometown humor and empathy for young people and their activities. But there is something else, an unusual element crucial to the story: embedded in this small-town sports saga is a spiritual parable. Hardy skillfully insinuates the religious aspect revealed in the book’s title into a fast-paced, amusing, romantic story that has the power to charm readers of all ages.
Quill says: Hardy’s page-turner plot could make an excellent focus for family religious study, and will appeal to baseball fans for the many small touches that indicate an insider’s expertise about the game.
For more information on The Day God Played Baseball, please visit the author's website at: JohnHenryHardy.com.
By: John Henry Hardy Publisher: CreateSpace Publication Date: July 2017 ISBN: 978-1-5148-0101-7 Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: March 24, 2018
When this series first began in a very powerful Volume I, we met up with three very different people with very different backgrounds. We dove into the world of one young man whose family (especially his mother) was all about wealth, status and making sure you kept your chin “higher,” so to speak, than anyone else in town. Another was not about money. In fact, he grew up in the swamplands and had a true tragedy in his past. After becoming a college football hero, he moved on to become a hero in Vietnam. The third is a female; an emotional girl who strives to love, lead, and aid others. The one thing this trio does have in common, however, is their penchant for loyalty.
Readers watched the Bostonian fly the skies over Vietnam and defend; the college football hero learn to survive in a war zone; and the young girl blossom into a woman with a broken heart but a sense of belief and hope that life was going to get better.
Then…we open on this, Volume II, and the action begins on page one. Sitting in a highly quiet alert room trailer on Da Nang Airfield with Norman Coddington, we can almost hear the sound of the clock ticking and the men snoring as they wait and see if the VC will attack. The enemy are skilled night fighters and the skin almost crawls while wondering when the sounds of violence are going to begin. Norman is thinking about the woman who has tripped him up and stolen his heart; a Filipina nurse named Barbara that his pristine Bostonian family will most certainly abhor, bringing his mother’s threats to disinherit him closer to becoming a reality. This once happy-go-lucky playboy knows Barbara will never be accepted by his dysfunctional clan based on skin color, alone. Of course, Barbara knows that if his family also knew the truth – that she came from a background so poor that she ended up in the world of prostitution before escaping from a sadistic husband – they would literally be sent over the edge. She is in love with Norman…but she also has to deal with the fact that a murderous ex will not stop trying to find her until he has her by the throat.
Cathy Addison RN, the woman who readers fell in love with the first time around, is Barbara’s best friend. They have a lot in common, particularly that they both work as nurses and have stalkers who are intent on taking them out. Engaged now to Dion Murphy (the young college hero), Cathy is dealing with another huge emotional smack-in-the-face now that Dion has disappeared and is being hunted by an enemy sniper by the name of Ngu Gin. When one of Dion’s soldiers reveals information to an enemy agent by mistake, an enemy who was disguised as a prostitute at the time, an all-out hunter versus prey plot takes over. But what will eventually occur will send Cathy into the darkest areas of both war and life that can possibly be imagined.
If wondering whether or not this incredible sequel is a stand-alone story, the answer is no. Yes, the action and war tales are fantastic and would get any reader involved instantly, but the story packs way more of a punch when the reader has already followed this trio through the first book. This is war…this is violence and pain told in the most realistic of ways. This is love, emotion, life, dealing with bigotry, money, the upsides and downsides of what you are born with, who you are born to, and the life you are “instructed” to lead. No stone is left unturned here, and if possible, this second installment is even better than the one that started it all.
Quill Says: Clear the bookshelf in order to put this series in a place of honor, and…bring on the Grand Finale!
For more information on Whisper in My Ear (Vol. II of III), please visit the author's site at: JohnHenryHardy.com
Publisher: in60 Learning Publication Date: February 2018 ISBN: 978-1977094971 Review by: Janice M. Ladendorf Review Date: March 25, 2018
Kublia Khan: Khan of Mongol, Emperor of China is part of a new series of non-fiction historical books by in60Learning. The idea behind these books is to "...produce concise historical and biographical works that can be read or listened to in 60 minutes." This book, and its new format have definite pluses and minuses that overall, make it a book worth investing 60 minutes of your time.
This extremely short book is similar to the long entries found in some encyclopedias. It is only 37 pages long and many pages are only partially used. There is no author (or authors) listed, but a short bibliography of source material is included. The author(s) does do a creditable job of producing a summary of Kublai Khan's life and accomplishes.
The book describes the Mongolian empire at the time of the death of Genghis Khan, Kublai's grandfather. It covered most of eastern Asia, but did not include southern China. The Mongols did not have any method of determining inheritance and the many descendants of Genghis fought amongst themselves for power. During this time, Kublai was a boy and well protected by his devoted mother. She also saw to it that he was well educated. As a young man, he held various minor posts until his brother, Mongke, died and he became the supreme Khan over all the areas ruled by the Mongols.
The Mongols had already conquered northern China. This is where Kublai built his fabulous palace, Xanadu, and surrounded it with miles of game parks. At that time, the rich lands of southern China were ruled by the Song Dynasty. Kublai's great achievement was conquering them, but he had to fight many bloody battles to take over their land piece by piece. His greatest failure was the abortive battles he fought in his attempt to conquer Japan.
Given its length, this short book is an excellent biography, but it does have a few flaws. Many of the chapter headers include a quotation or poem which illuminated the text, but some illustrations would also help enliven the story, or perhaps some photographs of the lands discussed in the book - it would also be a good use of some of the empty space on various pages. The text did need better proofing - the numerous sentences with extreme spacing were irritating. Overall, it's a good start to a new series of educational books.
Quill says: A concise biography which gives a good overview of Kublai Khan.
Kimberly Woodhouse treats her audience to an engaging historical account in her latest novel, The Mayflower Bride.
Mary Elizabeth Chapman crouched low in the rafters beside her best friend Dorothy Raynsford and listened to Pastor John Robinson confirm to the congregation they had the patent from the Virginia Company to settle a colony in the New World. Reeling from the news, Mary Elizabeth’s first thought was she would leave the grave of her beloved mother behind in her Holland homeland. Her family would travel across the vast ocean to this new and strange land with the likes of the Strangers. She was a Separatist as was the rest of her congregation. Strangers could not be trusted. It was the Separatists who wanted to separate themselves from the Church of England and it was common knowledge that anyone outside of their group was a Stranger. Contrary to Mary Elizabeth’s apprehension, Dorothy embraced the notion as she tried to convince her friend of the wonderful adventure they were about to embark upon. Dorothy couldn’t possibly know such adventure would come with great peril.
In July 1620, Mary Elizabeth and the small congregation of Strangers set out toward the open sea on the Speedwell. Mary Elizabeth’s heart grew heavy as the shoreline dwindled on her horizon. She questioned whether she could truly do this. She had no choice. Why did her mother have to die? Why wouldn’t her father listen to reason? What about her young brother David? He was barely eight years old. What kind of danger was the Chapman family placing themselves in? It wouldn’t be long before answers to Mary Elizabeth’s questions would surface. Mere weeks into their voyage the Speedwell faced her first challenge. It seems it had sprung a leak and was taking on water. The crew must ready about and head toward Southampton, Englandfor repairs.
William Lytton prepared for his departure from Southampton, England. He too was headed to the New World on a vessel known as the Mayflower. Orphaned at a young age and prior to being taken in by his master Paul, William lived on the streets. He squandered what little food he could from trash cans and alleyways and it was difficult at best to trust this man Paul. Over time, William would learn to trust and not long after he buried the only person who ever cared for him, he decided England had nothing left to offer. Time, faith and the prospect of the New World were on William’s horizon. What he didn’t know was love, marriage and the prospect of happily every after could be his for the taking as well.
Kimberly Woodhouse has done an admirable job of anchoring the timeline of a journey into the new and untamed New World. She’s taken the time to set the tone of the dynamics between man and woman during this era, but also shone a bright light on the intrinsic faith these people had in their Lord. She references scripture often to complement the many scenes related to such scripture. While I’ve not had the pleasure to read any of Ms. Woodhouse’s other works in this series, the thing that resonated with me in The Mayflower Bride, was that it is a novel that can stand on its own merits. To this note, she assists her audience by providing a guide in the beginning of her book that defines not only the characters, but a glossary of terms used that are specific to sailing. There are many highs (and some lows) which manage to move the story along at a pleasant and engaging pace. Ms. Woodhouse has a winning formula that naturally welcomes a vast audience to sit back and enjoy the read ahead. Well done Ms. Woodhouse. I look forward to your next book.
Quill Says: The Mayflower Bride is a captivating historical account that carries a well-seated message of faith throughout the read.
By: Cynthia Weil Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing Publication Date: March 13, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-939100-14-6 Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: March 25, 2018
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, with so many “harsh” and “dark” topics lately – whether that be in books or on the news – it is extremely inspiring and a real palette cleanser to receive a fun, emotional, light-hearted tale that makes you smile. And that is exactly what this book is all about.
Their names are KT, Jesse and Gabe. Although, some may refer to them as Sibling 1, 2 and 3. Why is that? Because the one thing these kids have in common is the fact that they were all “created” the same way. They came into being with the help of sperm donor 806. Each have their own quirks and talents. One is a bit on the angry side, although is great at strumming the guitar. Two is all about…magic. A mystical soul, yes, but unfortunately has to deal with what seems like allergies to absolutely everything. And when it comes to #3, you are talking about a true sports champion. Being on the varsity swimming team is one thing, but he also loves the fact that both his looks and skill cause batting eyelashes wherever he goes.
Teaming up, this trio decides that they want to do nothing more than meet biological Daddy: 806. What does that mean? Yup: ROAD TRIP! Jumping into a Jeep that doesn’t exactly look like the safest vehicle out there, these three have to deal with a life-changing trip that brings them closer together and closer to understanding where, perhaps, they got all these skills and quirks in the first place. And they do all this while trying to evade those familiar red, white, and blue lights of cop cars that are pursuing them for a reason.
Readers will have a blast (especially when they meet a certain fantastic pig) with all the different adventures that these guys get into. These three like each other at times, and dislike each other at times. The humor is there as they get to know each other during their journey. And, in the end, you will be thrilled to get to know them too.
The author has done an excellent job. Not a surprise, considering the talent here. Weil is a lyricist who happens to be internationally known. She’s behind the most played song of the 20th century (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”) as well as Oscar-nominated and Grammy Award-winning hits. It’s amazing she can find any spare time to pen a tale. But, this is most definitely a superb one.
Quill Says: Even though this falls under the YA category, everybody should take the time to read this great book!
By: Patrick Oster Publisher: Padraig Press Publication Date: April 2018 ISBN: 978-0-9916437-6-9 Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: March 20, 2018
As any suspense reader will tell you, one of the most perfect locations for murder is where the power in America is amassed at all times: Washington, D.C. This is most definitely a setting that delivers a good crime. This time out, fans have a new main character to meet and follow as she does her best to solve the crime of a Supreme Court Justice found dead as a doornail.
Her name is Melissa McGinty. A plus-size girl with brains, panache, and a boyfriend by the name of Mike, she also heads up The Amazon Detective Agency (named this because of all the smart, cool females who make up her staff). Melissa’s love of detecting began at an early age, when she sat with her father (also a detective) and watched the famous Sam Spade and others solve crimes and bring in the bad guys. Because her agency is still in its start-up phase, however, Melissa also had to take a job working as an overnight guard at the Supreme Court, joining their little known police department in order to pay the bills.
One night, she and her partner (a dog named Hergé who not only flunked out of the Navy SEALs dog program but also has a highly active bladder) come across Justice Oliver Wendell Oglethorpe who is stone-cold dead on the floor of the private basketball court inside the grand marble building. An idea creeps into Melissa’s head at the sight of this man: if she can solve a murder of this caliber, then she will become famous and turn her Amazon Detective Agency into a full-time, great-paying business. Trouble is, there are more than a few people (FBI agents by the names of Fu and Romero to name two) who do not want any help from her—especially once the case takes over the headlines and becomes a crime that could reach all the way to the top of the political ladder.
But Melissa was not raised to be ‘put in her place’ and begins her personal investigation into the crime. With the help of her colleagues, like Tesla, an expert hacker, as well as a Tarot card believer who tells Melissa that dangerous things are coming her way, and others, Melissa works to sift through the wealth of suspects. From activists to corporate executives who have a beef with U.S. political players in power, she and her crew do not give up until they uncover the ultimate criminal.
The story is a good one, and the reveal at the end is one that most readers, along with the main character, will not see coming. The only ‘hiccup’ for some who read this tale is the fact that editorial issues do crop up and the flow of the story can get a bit muddled at times. But, not to worry. Whether they be human or canine, the characters are well-done; and the plot, itself, holds the attention until the very end.
Quill Says: Fresh, fun characters immersed in a plot that only D.C. can provide!
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: chestergigolo.com
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?
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.
By: Lorenzo Petruzziello
Publisher: Quill Publishing Company
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
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: http://thelovefool.com
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.