Thursday, May 31, 2018

#BookReview - The Griffin's Feather

The Griffin's Feather (Dragon Rider #2)

By: Cornelia Funke
Illustrated By: Cornelia Funke
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: July 2018
ISBN: 978-1-338-21553-3
Reviewed By: Kristi Eldridge
Review Date: June 1, 2018
In Cornelia Funke's first book in "The Dragon Rider" series, she introduced the beautiful silver dragon Firedrake. This fascinating dragon goes on a quest to find a safe home for the herd of dragons he has lived with, as humans were infringing on their home. Accompanying him on his journey was a brownie named Sorrel, a unique furry cat-like creature, and a human boy named Ben who becomes Firedrake’s dragon rider. Together they find the mythical place called The Rim of Heaven, a place thought to not exist. However, through their unrelenting friendship they find The Rim of Heaven, which will become the home for the dragons. They also manage to defeat the dragons' mortal enemy, a fierce golden dragon named Nettelbrand.
Now, Firedrake and Ben are faced with another challenge, to help save the lives of Pegasus foals, the last ones known to be on this Earth. However, Pegasus' eggs are extremely delicate and these young foals had unfortunately lost their mother. It was her care that would help the eggs to grow, but now without her Ben and Firedrake have to find another way to help these foals. A family called the Greenblooms, who had helped them search for and find The Rim of Heaven, come to their aid once again to find a solution.
After all of their research they find only one remedy, to use the golden feather of a griffin, as these feathers have the unique ability to make the Pegasus eggs grow, and in turn save the lives of the foals. Unfortunately, griffins are really not at all friendly animals, and they have a particular hatred for Pegasus in particular. They fancy themselves as the ultimate master's of the sky, so they do not take kindly to any other winged creature flying in what they deem as their territory. Of course, this presents another obstacle as Firedrake is a winged creature as well, so the griffins may have double the reason not to help them. No matter what, however, Firedrake and the others must try, or risk losing the species of Pegasus forever.
This story has so many wonderful characters that are perfect for a pre-teen book. From the mighty dragon, to a mouse that pilots her own plane, this book is filled with characters that fill the imagination. I loved being surprised in every chapter as Ben and Firedrake would meet someone new and author Cornelia Funke would then expertly weave a unique background for each of them, creating a fantastic series.
Quill says: A fantastic read and I can't wait for the next installment.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Reilly DeVie for Author Daniela Bronzy

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Reilly DeVie, representing author Daniela Bronzy, author of Roots, Rumors & Wrath.
FQ: Mr. DeVie, can you speak to readers about how and when you met Daniela Bronzy and what your first impressions were of this obviously creative individual?
DeVIE: The story of meeting Ms. Bronzy or ‘Dee,’ is one of my favorites to tell. At the tail of the 90’s there was really only one art store in Boise. I was hanging flyers advertising the start of my furniture and metal business while she was picking up supplies before returning home to her residence two hours north of Boise. She happened to be accompanied by a priest that I had known and we began talking. This would all come out later on in the story of her life, but she had rethought the idea of the novel by including imagined products integral into the manuscript and then physically producing those products to be available to readers. I am guessing at this time she had already written her first novel, roots, rumors & wrath and she was looking for someone capable of realizing her ideas. She ended up asking me if I could figure out how to make an Ida-Hoe, which was a garden hoe in the shape of our state of Idaho.
I didn’t know what to think about her when we first met. Later in my mind she would became a grandmotherly figure and memories of her have become intermixed with my real grandmother, even in appearance.
FQ: When did you receive Ms. Bronzy’s work, and what made you take on the task of getting her words out to the public?
DeVIE: Our story takes a turn in March of 2017 when I received a box from a lawyer’s office in McCall, Idaho. When I talk about Dee and this story of our relationship, it almost seems implausible. Our relationship was mostly through phone calls and an occasional visit to her home. I would not say we were close, but that it is my opinion. In her mind perhaps we were closer than I realized. Why else would she send me the box?. I did not know she was a writer. I just knew she had a vivid imagination. We never spoke about her writing. The box from the lawyers held several unpublished manuscripts and a half dozen illustrated children’s books in various levels of completion. I still do not know why she sent them to me. Together we had made prototypes of several of her ideas and we had several fun conversations both in person and over the phone, but I didn’t think we were that particularly close. But you just never know what kind of influence you have on someone’s life when you take the time to get to know someone. I just wish I would have spent more time with her. There are several unanswered questions.
I have spent the last year getting the first novel of hers ready for publication. There is a lot to putting a book together, but the experience has been both cathartic and incredibly satisfying. I am working on her second novel now which will be released in October and the first of her children’s book should be out for Christmas. The coolest thing is people are reading her words that no one knew even existed and really enjoying them. I just wish she could have been at her book launch. We donated the funds generated that night to a local charity, The Learning Lab, and sold out of books. I think she would have really loved that.
FQ: Can you tell us a little about your own creative talents? It is said that you are an artist, a welder, and actually created something for Ms. Bronzy?
DeVIE: I don’t know about talent, but I enjoy being creative. I think the secret to Dee and I’s success together is that while they were most certainly her ideas, she gave me creative license in making them. It was a nice partnership. Before I ever knew she was writing, we made several of her products come to life. A few were introduced in the first novel, and there are many to come in the proceeding releases as well. Because of her, I have had a chance to hone my welding and wood working skills as well as step out of my box and enter the world of technology. Bringing her worlds that she created to life and hearing how people have enjoyed reading them has been especially great. To better get her name out there, I have been attending book clubs that have read her first book roots, rumors & wrath and being part of the discussion. I take with me book themed snacks and drinks and several of her products and spend the evening discussing Dee’s ideas. It is a thrill. And I have learned a lot about the book from these discussions.
FQ: Tell us a bit about the next book by Ms. Bronzy that you are looking at publishing? What the plot/characters are all about?
DeVIE: Dee left notes behind. Not written to me, but I think to herself. She saw the writing process as a potential business. A means of making money. She had researched the most popular genres of novels and she found thrillers and continuing character development throughout multiple novels as the key to creating followers and financial success. All of her novels exchange characters but are ‘stand alone’ books as well and can be enjoyed without reading the preceding releases, but in reading the others, you delve deeper into the characters. The next novel, signs, sushi & psyche continues to follow several of the characters as well as introducing a few new faces. It is several years later and world is following the launching of a land train capable of incredible speeds. We follow the characters lives as they are brought on board and are challenged with solving several mysteries at once which in Dee’s style somehow brings them all together at the end tying together all the loose ends. There is a bank robbery, drug dealers, plagues; characters deal with dementia, fist fights, parenting, bad decisions, and love. There are political and social commentaries that challenge our ideals and there are new ideas that have you visiting her website (www.danielabronzy.com) to see if the ideas really exist.
FQ: It was stated on the back of the book in the bio that Ms. Bronzy also penned children’s books. Can you tell us about those projects and whether or not you will be looking to publish them as well?
DeVIE: So besides writing novels, Ms. Bronzy illustrated and wrote several children’s books. They are each in different stages of completion. Some were simply sketched out, others were colored and ready to be scanned and formatted. I have decided to release them over the course of several years. For one, it gives me the chance to get them ready for publication while still continuing to pursue other projects. And second, I want her name to become known and slowly releasing her works over the course of time, building her reputation and brand recognition, will keep her in the zeitgeist and hopefully expand her readership.
FQ: Are you, yourself, interested in becoming a writer after all the work you have done in the industry bringing these books to fruition?
DeVIE: Having an idea is the easy part. Putting the idea on paper and building characters and formulating a plot and executing a climax is beyond me. My job is to help Dee realize her dreams of getting her books in front of people. While perhaps we all have the desire to write a book, I do not possess that ability. I think just brining Dee’s work to life will take me the better part of a decade to accomplish. And taking it slow has made it possible for me to really enjoy the whole process. No extreme time pressures. Of course if a big name publisher came to me with an offer of purchasing the rights to her remaining works, I would consider it, but it would be tough decision. The whole goal is to get her books in front of people and a big publisher would most definitely broaden her readership.
FQ: Do you feel, personally, that any of the characters in this book were based on real people that affected Ms. Bronzy’s life? If so, who would that be?
DeVIE: The question of who her characters are based on is one that comes up at every book club. The priest I am fairly certain is the same priest I knew. The hardware store I think is based on the store that first sold the Ida-Hoe and still does. The rest, if only we knew. I hope as readership grows, people will come forward with stories and theories of just who these characters might be. They may be no one and just products of her imagination.
FQ: If Ms. Bronzy were still with us, what do you think she would say about this book and your incredible passion as a friend to see it through to the end?
DeVIE: If Dee was able to hear what people thought of her book, if she was able to see her book on shelves, well I know I am thrilled, so I think she would feel the same. My only hesitation to guess is perhaps she didn’t want to know and this is why she sent me the box after she was gone. The subjective world of art or anything creative and our social media’s current love of cruelness, perhaps she didn’t want to endure criticism. I know that a dozen kind remarks or reviews are often erased with one negative. Perhaps she was happy with just the process itself. The cathartic release of creativeness?
FQ: Is there one thing you would like all readers to know and remember about Ms. Bronzy?
DeVIE: If Daniela Bronzy is remembered for anything, it will be her written words, her products, her ideas, her social commentaries. The story of Daniela Bronzy will continue because of our relationship. Her story will continue to grow long after her obituary was published, and I am glad that I can help that happen.

#BookReview - Roots, Rumors & Wrath

Roots, Rumors & Wrath

By: Daniela Bronzy
Publisher: Daniela Bronzy
Publication Date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-0-999275023
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 28, 2018
We begin in 39 A.D., in a cell made of stone. A body awakens and emerges from this horrible chamber to find one named Sagan – a man who addresses the wounded person as “friend and teacher” before offering a robe to cover themselves with and a body for the prisoner to lean on while journeying down the road. This intriguing beginning comes from the Halabi Family Journal…and leads readers into a tale that will make them feel every human emotion by the time it’s complete.
Haway (pronounced Howie by her peers) Halabi is in America. We greet this person as the “star” of the story, so to speak, as she boards the number 1 bus into downtown Boise, Idaho. When Haway was orphaned, she became a Syrian refugee and began living with her Uncle Dahan in small-town America. She is currently a college co-ed, and shows a bit of resentment and sometimes anger at the people around her.
One day, she comes home to find that her uncle, her last known living relative, has suffered an unexpected and far-too-early death. Now, a journey begins that is beyond confusing for Haway. You see, her family has a secret from long ago that no one can know; a secret that she alone possesses that causes others to pursue her as if she were a criminal. These people who wish to uncover her secret force Haway to go on a personal pilgrimage.
Readers walk beside Haway during her struggles and basically play a part in her own self-discovery, watching her alter her ideas and beliefs as she meets and greets a variety of characters who touch her heart in some ways, and alter her perceptions of life in other ways. Breaking the information up into sections, from Haway’s experiences to excerpts from the Halabi Family Journal to Dahan’s experiences and more, everyone from Navy translators to officers of the law to people in the religious community appear. There are so many people, places and events, in fact, that the reader views a true tapestry of life.
It is a shame that the author of this book has passed on; it would be interesting to learn what aspects of her own life are embedded in these scenes. From action to drama to a bit of comedy at times, some will find themselves caring for Haway and her need to protect her family secret. Others will find her difficult to warm up to because of her initial comments in regards to life in America and the “lazy” people who dwell here. She has a very hard exterior which makes for a very complex story. In other words, if you’re looking for a quick “summer” read, this is not the one to choose.
Quill Says: Prepare for a character who, whether you end up liking her or understanding her attitudes and struggle, will stay in your mind long after the book has come to a close.
For further information on Roots, Rumors & Wrath, please visit the author's website at: www.danielabronzy.com

#BookReview - Best Beach Ever

Best Beach Ever: Ten Beach Road Series

By: Wendy Wax
Publisher:  Berkley New York
Publication Date:  May 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-58441-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 28, 2018
Wendy Wax checks in with the ladies of Ten Beach Road in her latest novel: Best Beach Ever.
Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy are still licking their wounds and trying to recover from the aftermath of the implosion of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over. To compound the disaster of the show, the ladies are forced to move into the cottages at the Sunshine Hotel after Kyra’s plunder of leveraging Bella Flora.
Maddie has done her job. Her children are grown. Her ex is back on his feet and she can honestly admit she doesn’t loathe him anymore. Sparks have grown into a decent and long-burning fire between her and revived Rock Star Will Hightower. Yep, she has the world on her platter and can’t figure out why she’s so apprehensive to dive into the deep end and savor every moment.
Nikki finally said yes (even if the babies came first) and FBI hotty Joe is more than her dream come true. Granted, she had no idea becoming a mother would be such a monumental task. Take that role and multiply it by two bundles of joy and the recipe is one for overwhelm overload most days. Once again, Joe to the rescue. With the reality of him having to travel more, he decides it’s time Nikki accepts some helping hands. Nikki has other designs on just how much help she will accept from the new nanny and it isn’t necessary to bother Joe with all the details of her decisions on this front.
Avery and Chase are on again. This is to say, at least all cylinders are firing in the bedroom. It was a tough call for Avery to make after virtually being kicked out of Chase’s life thanks to the shenanigans of his son. No matter, the sex was great, and it wasn’t like she was ever going to marry him, but did Chase feel the same way?
Having nearly lost Bella Flora, Kyra had no choice but to rent her beloved property to the mysterious (and obviously wealthy) tenant. Besides, she and Dustin would soon be on set near Disney World which meant she wouldn’t have to face the errors of her ways living in the same town as the stranger who occupied Bella Flora. She hated the idea of exposing four-year-old Dustin to the uncertain and harsh elements of Hollywood glam. She didn’t have much of a choice. How is it that every time Baby Daddy (and hunky movie star) Daniel Deranian beckoned, Kyra forgot how to say the word ‘no.’
…and last, but certainly not least, is Bitsy. The former Palm Beach maven was more of a seashell washed up on a deserted seashore to all those former ‘Worth Avenue Friends’ of hers. It’s been nearly a year since Bertie absconded to parts unknown with his eye-candy pole dancer and every penny of Bitsy’s wealth. It was high time Bitsy pick herself up out of her pity party for one and get some good old-fashioned justice. She may rise to the occasion but will have to be careful what she wishes for. Sometimes justice comes with a higher price tag.
Wendy Wax has delivered a fantastic continuation of the ongoing saga of the women of Ten Beach Road. Having read a few of the books in this series, it’s a fact that Ms. Wax has done this series justice once again. The divine characters she’s developed in Maddie, Avery, Kyra, Nikki and Bitsy are superb and she has maintained their unique and diverse personas. Ms. Wax is the master mixer of blending two parts big happy family with (sometimes) one-part dysfunction and the outcome is a masterpiece of exceptionally unique and strong women. She has built a solid foundation with her ‘beach’ family and setting and with each tower she adds to this magnificent collection of beach castle novels, she manages over the top enjoyment and anticipation for the next from her audience. I was already a fan and simply ask: may I have another, please? Well done Wendy Wax!
Quill says: Best Beach Ever arrives just in time for kick off to summer. This is a must have for your summer beach reads this year.

Monday, May 28, 2018

#AuthortInterview with Kathleen Kaska @KKaskaAuthor

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Kathleen Kaska, author of Run Dog Run.
FQ: At what age would you say you caught the writing bug?
KASKA: I didn’t start writing seriously until my forties. I also taught middle-school science and once I got the hang of teaching and had more time on my hands, I started writing.
FQ: What inspired you to shift from your degree in physical anthropology to writing mysteries?
KASKA: Physical anthropology and writing mysteries goes hand-in-hand. My degree allowed me to study animal behavior (grin). Also, I used to be a member of Wildlife Rescue, Inc. when I lived in Austin, Texas. I rehabbed and raised orphaned wildlife with the goal to release them back into the wild if possible. It was a very rewarding experience.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors and what about them do you find inspiring?
KASKA: I love authors who devote a lot of time to developing their characters. I have a variety of favorite authors from Arthur Conan Doyle to Agatha Christie, from Raymond Chandler to Rex Stout, from Elizabeth Peters to Ann Perry. They all write series, giving their readers a chance to get to know their characters.
FQ: After producing a flurry of historic mysteries (Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series), what inspired you to shift over to writing a mystery centered on animal abuse and of particular dog racing since, according to your website, you are a bird watcher?
KASKA: I still write my Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series. These are lighthearted and humorous and set in the 1950s, my favorite decade. Writing zany characters and humor is a nice balance to writing traditional mysteries.
But Run Dog Run, was actually the very first mystery I wrote. I finished the first draft fifteen years ago. It came close to being published several times, but no cigar. I finally put it on the back burner and let it simmer for a few years. The manuscript has been revised and updated so many times I almost had the thing memorized. Two years ago, I updated it again(technology changes faster than automobile designs) and submitted it to Black Opal Books. They sent me a contract, and there you have it. The story takes place in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. If you’ve never been there, you should treat yourself to a trip in the springtime when I wildflowers are in bloom.I also wanted to write a mystery series with a social cause and animal rights was top on my list. I chose to write about the world of greyhound racing after I discovered the appalling conditions that occur behind the scenes. I want people to be aware of the issues involved and to consider adopting one of these beautiful dogs.
Yes, I’m a bird watcher! When I’m not writing, you can find me outside with binoculars glued to my face. Bird watching led to writing the biography, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story. Another passion; another social cause.
FQ: In the shaping of your protagonist, Kate Caraway, did you incorporate features and situations inspired from your own experiences, or is she merely a figment of your creative imagination?
KASKA: Kate is very much like me. Besides our passion for animal causes, we are both runners, severely acrophobic, which comes to play in the second book, and we both deal with the guilt factor having been raised Catholic, although we can joke about it. Kate, however, is braver than I am. Kate’s husband, Jack, is a retired major-league baseball player who played for the Chicago Cubs. My husband and I are big baseball fans. Making Jack a catcher allows me to write a little about baseball.
FQ: You mention Sherlock Holmes in passing in Run Dog Run. One of your non-fiction reads is Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s series obviously means a lot to you, and your present mystery reflects Doyle’s red-herring and twisted format. When did you first get interested in the iconic series, and what about Doyle’s writing style influenced you the most in the creation of your fictional works?
KASKA: I first started reading Sherlock Holmes when I was in college. Conan Doyle was a master at character descriptions, which always pull me into a story. A few years ago, I formed a Sherlock Holmes society, which is a scion of the Baker Street Irregulars. The name of the society is The Dogs in the Nighttime, a reference to the Holmes story, “Silver Blaze.” We meet once a month and discuss anything Sherlock. Holmes is also mentioned in my Sydney Lockhart book, Murder at the Driskill, when twelve-year-old drama queen, Lydia, dresses up like Holmes and becomes a self-appointed assistant to aid Sydney in solving a murder.
FQ: Kate Caraway presents a strong feminine character. What inspired you to create this type of character?
KASKA: I love strong female characters, whether fictional or real. I’m inspired by Karen Blixon, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Michelle Obama, to name a few.
FQ: Strong feminine characters are not a usual occurrence, unfortunately, in fictional literature. Which authors have inspired you to go against those norms in the creation of Run Dog Run and your other works of fiction?
KASKA: Janet Evanovich is one of my favorite authors. My character Sydney Lockhart is often compared to Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Both are gutsy, sassy, and too smart for their own good. Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell is another character I adore. She’s smart, stubborn, and married to Sherlock Holmes. What’s not to admire? And then there’s Amelia Peabody, developed by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia speaks her mind, has her own agenda, and never tires of adventure.
FQ: Run Dog Run being the first in your new animal-rights mystery series, can you give an inkling as to what is in store for future sequels?
KASKA: The next Kate Caraway mystery, A Two Horse Town, will be out toward the end of 2018. This book deals with the plight of wild horses in Montana. Book number three, Eagle Crossingis about a woman who owns an animal rehab facility on Lopez Island in Washington much to the annoyance for her neighbors. That book is finished and in queue.
FQ: According to your book, “A percentage of the proceeds from this book’s sale will be donated to The Greyhound Project, Inc.” Would you tell us a little about this organization and do you see this as a new trend you will include in your future sequels?
KASKA: The Greyhound Project, Inc. is a greyhound rescue and adoption organization. Their mission is to promote welfare for greyhounds and to find racers good homes after they retire. Yes, I’ll donate a portion of my proceeds to whatever cause I write about. My royalties from The Man Who Saved the Whooping Craneare donated to Operation Migration, an organization that developed the Eastern Migratory flock of whoopers in order to help increase the population.

#BookReview - Run Dog Run. @kkaskaAuthor

Run Dog Run

By: Kathleen Kaska
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: March 2017
ISBN: 978-1626946279
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: May 25, 2018
A supposed time of respite turns into a traumatic animal rights’ situation in author Kathleen Kaska’s first book of a new animal-rights mystery series.
Kate Caraway and her husband Jack head to Texas after a five-year researching stint that ends badly in Nairobi, Kenya. Staying near the Rodr√≠guezes, their longtime friends, Kate and Jack look forward to a time of respite. Unfortunately, their goddaughter Rosa Linda Rodriguez gets Kate involved in an animal rights issue regarding greyhound racing. Ironically, the issue is in connection with Guy Fordyce, a friend of the Rodr√≠guezes, who is involved in the greyhound racing business. Even though Kate is a seasoned animal rights activist, what she doesn’t anticipate is the grisly death of Jesus, Rosa’s informant.
Ruthlessly investigating the mysterious murder, Kate’s prying ways collect information that is confusing at best. The more she sleuths, the more convoluted her clues become. It doesn’t help that Rosa Linda’s interest in the issue suddenly wanes. The only way Kate will get concrete answers is to sneak into the Fordyce kennel and find out for herself. Slinking to the back of the facility, Kate believes that she witnesses enough of the real goings-on to begin connecting the puzzle pieces. But when she’s about to leave the area, and an arrow pierces her arm, Kate realizes that there are broader issues that go beyond the greyhound situation.
Kaska’s newest book raises awareness to the evils of Greyhound racing. A page-turning mystery riddled with red herrings, Run Dog Run opens immediately with unsettledness—a theme that sets the pace for the whole of the plot. Kaska places a strong feminine character in the midst of uncertainty laced with a flurry of questionable characters. Indeed, Kate Caraway is one gutsy protagonist who is accustomed to uncomfortable situations and facing her challenges head on.
Kaska uses both tightly-knit and directed dialogue and passages replete with detailed descriptions to bring her characters and scenes to life. Her crisp narrative draws her audience into the realm of animal abuse and in particular the ugliness of Greyhound racing. Aside of creating a well-defined cast, Kaska masterfully and aptly weaves in vivid depictions of not only the breathtaking landscape of Nairobi but also the Texas Hill Country—all complete with native flora and fauna, birds, luscious sunrises, brilliant sunsets, and massively star-studded skies.
Animal rights activists will be pleased to know that a percentage of the proceeds from the sales of Run Dog Run will be donated to The Greyhound Project, Inc. Closing on a satisfying note, Run Dog Run sets the groundwork for the next installment in Kaska's new series.
Quill says: Run Dog Run will definitely keep mystery aficionados on their toes to the very end.
For more information on Run Dog Run, please visit the author's website at: www.kathleenkaska.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

#AuthorInterview with David Boglioli. @davidboglioliNY

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with David Boglioli, author of New York City Bum.
FQ: How long did it take you to pen this book (and was it difficult to put your personal experiences into actual words)?
BOGLIOLI: It took me ten years to write New York City Bum. The book went through many drafts before publication.
FQ: In line with question 1, were there times you wanted to scratch the project altogether (and how did you get back on track)?
BOGLIOLI: No, though I went through long periods of not working on the book, due to various distractions.
FQ: There is a strong tone throughout your book toward justifying the choices you made to become a drug addict. Yet, there is also a tone of ‘the heck with the ones who used to care… it’s my life!’ At the headwaters of diving into the deep end of drug addition, did you ever have lucid moments of remorse and regret? How did you overcome them if you did?
BOGLIOLI: I don’t think that in my ten years on the street I ever regretted being there. I was where I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do. I had no desire to go back to the life I left behind. I had a job for a year or two in a fancy restaurant, once I got sober, but then I went back to drinking and drugs. I spent all I made on alcohol and drugs. I found I didn’t want to be part of the establishment any more. I gave the better part of my life to being a member of the establishment, but I didn’t find what I wanted or needed from that way of life. When I started smoking crack, other opportunities opened up to me, headstrong guy that I am. Once I was on the street, once I was used to it, and had learned how to function in that world, it was more attractive to me.
FQ: Your writing certainly depicts a person who is educated and well-spoken, yet there is a nuance that you thumb your nose at such an existence. Has it always been important for you to make a statement to stand out in a crowd?
BOGLIOLI: Yes, I think so.
FQ: Why crack and why not sell it all and move to the mountains to live off the grid as an alternative?
BOGLIOLI: The first puff of crack made up my mind. That was all I wanted to do. That’s why there was the big epidemic.
FQ: Do you miss creating with food? It sounds as though you were quite talented in your craft. What turned you off so deeply you resorted to life on the street and drugs?
BOGLIOLI: I love cooking and I still cook at home. I still do garde manger work for the holidays. However, once I experienced crack cooking fell by the wayside.
FQ: Do you have animosity toward authority? Have you ever thought to explore this facet of your personality or are you more akin to: ‘people just don’t understand me and I don’t care what they think’?
BOGLIOLI: I don’t feel that people don’t understand me. I’ve just always had a distaste for authority.
FQ: I was extremely challenged when it came time to evaluate this read. There were often times I found myself wanting to shout out: “Why are you throwing your life away?” Yet, I kept turning the page to see what was going to occur next. Who was/is the audience you were writing for and was my reaction the vision you intended for your audience?
BOGLIOLI: My vision was to move people emotionally as well as to reveal the world of street life. I write for people who are a little out of the box: actors, actresses, fellow alcoholics, homosexuals, as well as people who would like a look at a life that’s not open to them. People who don’t want to live that life but are curious and want to understand more about that life. I have yet to find a book that describes the street, homelessness, and crack as vividly mine does.
FQ: I want to thank you for your time and must say upon finishing the read, you’ve left me with much to think about. This is a story that will linger with me for a while beyond its proverbial ‘the end.’ What’s next? Are you able to give us a teaser?
BOGLIOLI: There’s a 20-page preview of my upcoming book, Detour, at the back of New York City Bum. I continue to work on my blog, which is an extension of NYCBum: https://davidboglioli.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#BookReview - New York City Bum @DavidBoglioliNY

New York City Bum

By: David Boglioli
Publisher:  Midway
Publication Date:  September 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9860476-0-2
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 12, 2018
David Boglioli embarks upon an epic journey (and slide) from the throes of reality into the depths of debauchery in his latest body of work and personal account that details his ten-year achievement of becoming a New York City Bum.
When asked to consider reading and reviewing this book, my initial pull to do so was the title. Titles are the essence of an anchor to hook the prospective reader into what lies between the covers. Moving beyond the title, it is key to have cover art that somehow ties to the title. The display of the American flag, flanked by a flag depicting a skull and crossbones was fitting, in my opinion, to the inevitable dichotomy of the tale that lurked beneath its cover. I rose to the challenge and settled in for a leisurely read of what Mr. Boglioli had to share.
The book opens with a foreward setting the record straight on the fact that the story is true and ‘…all names and places are real and did exist in New York City at the time of telling (1980s and 90s). Any errors in documentation are accidental…’ I ventured forward to the first chapter. Mr. Boglioli makes it perfectly clear within the first few sentences how very easy it is for one to get ‘lost’ in New York City. He wastes no time in painting the diversity between the haves and have-not’s and in purposeful dialect, he makes it clear while he started out as one of the ‘haves,’ he coveted to live the life of a ‘have-not.’
There is a formula Mr. Boglioli assumes in his writing of his ten-year experience living (most times barely existing) on the streets of New York in its bowels of drug-infestation, prostitution and down-right perilous situations. He steps the reader through his former life of being a renowned culinary perfectionist working for the Ritz Carlton only to sabotage his own livelihood and well-being for one more dance with crack. All in all, this is a telling of a tale that transcends across 500+ pages of situation upon situation and happenstance of how to live a life of nothing more than day-to-day and hour-by-hour survival with the notion of self-destruction being the only beacon on his horizon.
This was an extremely difficult read for me to get through. I often set the book down for a day (sometimes more) to reinvigorate that inner person who is committed to reading a book and evaluating its content for two things: 1) does the story flow; and 2) does the premise capture my interest. I would say Mr. Boglioli wins high scores concerning the ‘capture my interest.’ Frankly, his annotations and colorful descriptions of his quest to become less than whole was firing on all pistons throughout. Where the story fell short was the flow. Mr. Boglioli clearly is well-spoken (and I would surmise well-read). However, for the lay person, some of the terminology used requires the companion of Webster’s dictionary to understand the meaning of the word and the context in which it was used: ‘…I was seeking to penetrate, to enjoin the meretricious world of the street… In that I strove inveterately as I needed…’ I’m all for the flair of descriptive prose, but found Mr. Boglioli was insistent to a fault to write at a level beyond 50,000 feet versus using a succinct and powerful punch with action figure verbiage to get his point across. I simply could not connect with the premise of his anti-establishment rant toward the general populace of normality to opt for a ten-year journey to pay homage to drug addiction.
Quill says: New York City Bum is a demonstrative and slanted homage to the horrors of drug addiction and certainly not a ‘must read’ for the faint of heart.
For more information on New York City Bum, please visit the author's website at: www.davidboglioli.wordpress.com

#AuthorInterview with Jebediah Jenkins

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Jebediah Jenkins, author of I'm Not Perfect: But God Still Loves Me! (Mac and Cheese Books for the Heart - Volume 4)
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book.
JENKINS: Jebediah Jenkins is just a crazy, fun, and amusing pen name I chose to use for my children's book series... Mac & Cheese Books for the Heart. My real name is Jason Brown. I graduated from Lee University with a degree in music performance in 1997. I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters who each have contributed to the creation of these books (4 so far). I could not have written these books without their love and support.
FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?
JENKINS: I'm a musician at heart, a pianist... but I remember being told as a child that I was a very good writer. I feel the rhythm, the rise and fall, ebb and flow of words much like music.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
JENKINS: Mac & Cheese Books for the Heart is a series of reassuring books for children with imperfect parents and circumstances. Each book in the series contains a message assuring a child that no matter what happens in their life... (sickness, deployment, divorce or just a bad day) they are still loved! We all make mistakes or go through disappointments and unfortunate circumstances in life that can often leave a child feeling unsure of things. Every story in each Mac & Cheese Books For the Heart book is designed around something very specific a child may be facing and assures them that no matter what... they are still loved.
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
JENKINS: As a father and author, I wanted to give today's children an uplifting message through written words of affirmation and reassurance (life's not perfect, we're not perfect, but we STILL love you!) and fun, engaging and interactive pictures (children have to find Mr. Jenkins the owl who is carefully hidden inside each amusing picture throughout the books!).
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or …?
JENKINS: My inspiration for Mac and Cheese for the Heart came from my own experience as an imperfect dad and my desire to use children's literature to make a positive impact in the lives of children today. I plans to use Mr. Jenkins the owl to address topics like bullying, deployment, cancer, and other real-life challenges children face each and every day.
FQ: What was the hardest part of writing your book? That first chapter, the last paragraph, or …?
JENKINS: It's a children's book so I don't claim to have had much of a challenge with the words. It was the artwork that took a great deal of time to get just right. Most of my time editing these books were spent on the artwork so I have a newfound appreciation for all of the amazing illustrators out there.
FQ: Do you have any plans to try writing a book in a different genre? If so, which genre and why?
JENKINS: I am currently writing a book for teenagers about anti-bullying based on my own painful experience as a child. However, I am writing the book as a self-help book rather than an autobiography.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
JENKINS: I seriously doubt anyone reading this would have ever heard of Joseph Prince from Singapore but I love reading his books. My other favorite authors are rather commonplace... C. S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, J. K. Rowling, etc.
FQ: Which do you find easier, starting a story, or writing the conclusion?
JENKINS: I just start writing without worrying about where it will end up so I guess it's the same.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
JENKINS: Grace Revolution by Joseph Prince. I am sure his book has influenced me in some small way to create the Mac & Cheese Books for the Heart series.
FQ: Where do you think you’ve improved the most in your writing process and ability and how do you think you have evolved?
JENKINS: I've only written 4 children's books but it feels amazing to have accomplished something that seemed so daunting at first. I stumbled around in the dark until I finally found the light switch and things started coming together.
FQ: Is this the first book, the second, etc. in the series and how many books do you anticipate writing in this series?
JENKINS: I have written 4 books so far for children ages 1-6 featuring Mr. Jenkins the owl and am currently writing a self-help book for teenagers.
FQ: Tell us a bit about the series. Do you know where the series will take the characters or are you working that out as you go along with each book? What has been the reader response to your series?
JENKINS: Mr. Jenkins the owl takes children on a journey through both positive and negative circumstances and reassures them that, no matter what happens in life, they are still loved.
FQ: Do you feel any pressure to hurry up and get the next book in the series published? Does this make it harder to write or do you work better under such pressure?
JENKINS: I like to process ideas over time and write in short spurts as the ideas come to me.
FQ: Do you see your series going longer than originally expected? More stories to write than originally planned?
JENKINS: Yes... I would like to write at least 4 more books addressing divorce, deployment, illness, death and bullying.
FQ: Many authors say that it’s hard to say good-bye to the characters in a series? Do you think it will be difficult for you? Have they become part of your life?
JENKINS: I would love to continue using Mr. Jenkins the owl going forward and perhaps add a Mrs. Jenkins down the road.
FQ: What made you/Why did you decide to write this book? Did you see a need?
JENKINS: As a father and author, I wanted to give today's children an uplifting message through engaging interactive pictures and written words of affirmation and reassurance. Life's not perfect, we're not perfect, but we STILL love you!
FQ: What makes your book unique? Why should readers pick up your book over others in the field?
JENKINS: I wanted to develop a complete series of children's books using words of affirmation reassuring children that they are still loved no matter what happens in life. An owl named Mr. Jenkins takes children through a series of positive and negative circumstances and reassures them that although Daddy's not perfect (or Mommy's not perfect, etc), they are still loved.
FQ: Tell us a little about your qualifications in your field.
JENKINS: I grew up in a very strict, religious environment where little love and affection was given. My dad was an absent workaholic father and I do not recall a single memory of my parents hugging/kissing me. They had there own issues they were dealing with so I do not blame them. However, I truly believe if I had access to books like the ones I have written, it would have helped reassure me as a child that although my dad wasn't often around, he still loved me and although my mother was not affectionate, she still loved me.
FQ: With so many books being released each year, what made you decide to publish your book? What makes your book stand out from the crowd? 
JENKINS: I wanted this series of books to deal with some tough issues like divorce, deployment, illness and even death to reassure children that they are still loved regardless of their circumstances. Life's not perfect, you're not perfect, we're not perfect, but we still love you no matter what.
FQ: How much research went into writing your book?
JENKINS: I had never written a children's book before so it took a lot of trial and error to move through the process... a couple of months.
To learn more about I'm Not Perfect: But God Still Loves Me! (Mac and Cheese Books for the Heart - Volume 4) please visit the publisher's website at: macandcheesebooks.com

#BookReview - Wild Wild Weasel

Wild Wild Weasel (World of the Weasel – Book Two)

By: Salvo Lavis & James Munn
Illustrated by: Dave Leonard
Publisher: Spitball Studio
Publication Date: June 15, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9977982-2-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 16, 2018
It’s very possible that some readers out there don’t know how entertaining a weasel can be. But if you and your kids read Once Upon a Weasel together, which was the first book in the World of the Weasel series, you already understand that this is one creature you can definitely have fun with.
Here, in adventure number two, the young boy and his best friend – his pet Weasel – are enjoying their time together. The only hard part is Mom and Dad just don’t seem to understand the creature. They believe Weasel is just a wild animal, and they have certain rules their son must follow in order to keep him. After all, weasels can’t be trained like…say, a dog or a cat, so the boy must make sure that when he’s at school Weasel is in the bedroom locked in a cage, and the boy cannot play with Weasel until he’s done with his homework.
And speaking of homework… At school, the boy’s class must write a paper for the teacher about something they learned in a book. Although the boy is confused at first, not knowing what to write about, an idea “hits him.” He will learn how to train Weasel and write about it. That will take care of his two biggest problems at the same time. Mom and Dad will see that Weasel is an appropriate pet that can be trained to sit, obey, etc., and the boy will have a great paper. But when he heads to the library and finds there is no book focused on weasel training, the boy is crushed.
Until…he comes across a school where, if he gives the instructor money, he can learn to train his pet and then graduate with a diploma to make Mom and Dad proud. But when it comes to training, Weasel definitely has a mind of his own. So will Weasel end up back in the wild? Will the boy find anything to write about for his homework assignment? You must read to find out all about friendship, determination, and the ability to make things right when you put your mind to it.
Kids will love this series. Weasel is fun, wild, and inspirational all at the same time. The illustrations are hysterical, with Weasel showing he has the ability to do everything from downhill skiing to rock climbing. The team of authors and illustrator have done a fantastic job putting this creation together, and for those who want to have even more fun, they can visit WorldOfTheWeasel.com.
Quill Says: This definitely represents the excitement that only books can provide to a young imagination, and is a series that should end up on your child’s bookshelf!

#BookReview - Death by Opera

Death by Opera

By: Erica Miner
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Publication Date: May 2018
ISBN: 978-1-60619-130-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 2018
For those who have met Erica Miner’s awesome character, Metropolitan Opera violinist Julia Kogan, you will be thrilled with this newest murder mystery.
Julia has just recently gotten out of the debacle that occurred at the Met in New York. It was there that murder took place and had caught her up in a web of lies, suspects and mayhem. Now looking forward to a far calmer summer, Julia goes on assignment for the warm months in the coveted role of concertmaster for the Santa Fe Opera Company, during the world-renowned summer opera festival. Larry Somers is an NYPD Detective and also Julia’s significant other. And let us just say, after the murders at the Met, he’s more than a little exhausted himself. One thing is for certain, though, neither Julia nor Larry ever expected the beautiful, mystical world of New Mexico to involve even more death and destruction.
As a citizen of this great state, this reader can tell you that tales and legends in regards to the area of Santa Fe abound. In fact, the author begins Julia’s new tale with a Prologue that causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise. It is the year 1610, and at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Santa Fe, on the site of an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin, the Governor and his crew make a plan for a city to be built. One hundred years later, a shadow of a figure digs a deep hole in this spot and then walks away, leaving nothing but a hollow void behind that is set aglow by the special Super Moon.
Although Julia arrives with happiness in her heart at being able to take a step away from “The Big Apple,” it does not take long before this amateur sleuth once again finds herself in the middle of a killing spree that is happening backstage. This is one of those times where the show must go on; but now it must do so while Julia is wrapped up in meeting new faces and trying to glean who they are, if they’re angry and, if so, what they’re angry about before another performer or artiste falls to their death. Chaos ensues while readers get to revel at the outdoor elegance of the Santa Fe Opera Theatre, learning with each step Julia takes what an old legend has to do with the very current, harsh reality.
Julia, her officer boyfriend, her life, and all these amazing characters that are brought to the page, from a costume director to an Italian diva and beyond, make this a compelling mystery that is the perfect continuation for author Erica Miner’s series.
Quill Says: Get on board with this violinist now. You will not be disappointed by these action-packed mysteries that are as memorable as the music that “accompanies” them.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

#BookReview - Jerusalem Stone @susan_sofayov

Jerusalem Stone

By: Susan Sofayov
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-1626948556
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: May 9, 2018
Julie Wasserman struggles to go on with her life after the devastating loss of her twin brother in an automobile accident. Will exotic travel and a new love help her resolve her “survivor's guilt” and move on with her life?
As Jerusalem Stone opens, we’re taken to a beautiful beach on an island in Thailand where we meet Julie Wasserman.  Julie is a young woman desperately searching for something – something to release her from the pain of missing her beloved brother Jack.  Julie is convinced that she is the reason Jack is dead and she can’t forgive herself.  She has traveled to Thailand because it was a place Jack always wanted to visit and she hopes that she might find a bit of peace traveling to the exotic location.
As Julie sits on the gorgeous beach, watching other people enjoy the glorious day, she is approached by a man she assumes is a beach bum.  With a dark tan, a backpack, and his brown hair falling below his shoulders in a tangle of dreadlocks, he certainly gives off the air of somebody who lives on the beach. But it’s his piercing eyes and bright smile that really catches Julie’s attention.  The young man introduces himself as Avi Gold, and he’s definitely not shy as he quickly works his way onto Julie’s mat.
Julie unwillingly strikes up a conversation with Avi – she’s not looking for friends and would really prefer to be left alone to read her book.  But Avi is persistent and won’t take no for an answer.  He pours on the charm and it isn’t long before Julie agrees to have dinner with him.  She is surprised to see so many people, both at the Chabad House, as well as on the streets of Phuket, who know Avi and greet him as they would a dear friend.  Avi is, no doubt, a handsome man, but there’s something more to this mysterious man.
Julie may, reluctantly, be falling in love with Avi, but she holds herself back from her true feelings because of the immense guilt she feels over her brother’s death.  Avi tries his best to get Julie to attend several services at Chabad, thinking this might help her, but she isn’t interested.  Going to services reminds her of Jack, who never missed the Kabbalat Shabbat service at their local Chabad House.  Even meeting Avi’s good friend, Rabbi Sam, doesn’t help convince Julie.  At the same time, Avi does his best to persuade Julie that their meeting was bashert (meant to be), but she refuses to believe.  Perhaps a romantic trip to the jungle, or even a trip to Israel will help Julie let go of the past and move on with her life…
Author Susan Sofayov set the scene perfectly when the story opened as I was instantly transported to that beautiful beach, listening to the splash of the waves along with Julie.  The street scenes, the jungle trip, the visit to Israel – these locations all came to life with the guidance of Sofayov’s pen.  The author also does a nice job of building her characters into believable people with real-life struggles.  It’s easy to feel Julie’s pain at the loss of her brother, and her conflicted emotions when she wants to love Avi but is afraid to let go of her guilt. There were also numerous interesting discussions between Julie and Avi about life, religion and whether there is such a thing as bashert.   The one criticism is that as the story progressed, Julie continued to be paralyzed by her guilt and she became somewhat annoying.  She was visiting amazing places in Israel with a wonderful man who was deeply in love with her and still her mind kept going to her brother.  I found myself starting to wonder how Avi could really love Julie if she could not let go of her pain. Other than this minor point, the story was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to reading more from Susan Sofayov.
Quill says: Jerusalem Stone is a heartfelt and engaging story about one woman’s struggle to let go of her guilt and move on with her life and new love.
For more information on Jerusalem Stone, please visit the author's website at: www.susansofayov.com

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Interview with Author Stuart Samuel

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Stuart Samuel, author of The  Adventure of Thomas the Turtle.
FQ: How does The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle differ from your first children's book?
SAMUEL: My first children's book One, Two, Three, This Book 's for Mewas written for my son when he was just turning four years old. I was looking for a book with certain features (all capital letters, rhyming and rhythm, pictures beneath words to aid in the reading, etc.) that would maximally assist him to read and count. However, I could not find anything available in bookstores or online. So I generated the content myself and later turned it into a published book. Hence, this first book was non-fiction and highly educational and even lead to the publication How I Taught My Four-Year-Old Son to Read. Secondly, One, Two, Three, This Book 's for Mewas written from a young child's viewpoint. Indeed, the reaction of preschool children to it was phenomenal; they become so excited to discover how easy it was to read. However, despite this and the fact that the book won a prize (Best of 2002 by January Magazine), sales were mediocre. What I discovered was that the book did not appeal that much to parents, and parents, of course, are the ones who buy the books. So when I decided to write a book for my daughter, I deliberately wrote it from an adult point of view.  The Adventure of Thomas the Turtleis in some sense adult literature in which the parent is to read and to explain it to a child. So compared to my first book, The Adventure of Thomas the Turtleis narrative fiction aimed to be enjoyable to a slightly older child (ages 5 to 9). It is a sophisticated book in its language, with deep meanings and multiple themes. Indeed, a few reviewers have criticized the language of the book and I accept this. Authors are not usually supposed to reveal their books' ideas but many of the reviewers at Netgalley.com and Goodreads.com have discussed them for The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle. Foremost is the idea of obeying one's parents. Thomas's mother told him not to go to the forbidden regionand although he did not outright disobey her, he – out of curiosity – did venture too close. The consequences of his actions taught him a lesson that will help convince young readers that they should listen to their parents. Another theme involves family unity: Thomas sets out on a heroic endeavor to be re-joined with his family. And this brings in the character themes of courage and determination. In this regard, Thomas often prays for help. To paraphrase one reviewer, “praying in times of trouble provides hope and support to never give up.” When Thomas is separated from his mother by falling over a waterfall, he struggles battling the forces of nature to survive. This is a direct physical experience. But there are perceived supernatural elements in The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle: the forbidden region and the evil force. When a brother and sister rescue Thomas from being stuck in a thicket, it is from the Thomas' point of view as if some mysterious external intervention has answered his prayers. And this brings us to another theme, the one for which Feather Quill Reviews has selected The Adventure of Thomas the Turtlefor the “Be Kind to Animals Award”: The brother suggests taking the turtle home as a pet. However, his sister believes that Thomas is (in her words) “a natural creature and should be left as such.” So the children end up helping Thomas return to his natural habitat rather than taking him home. I have discussed quite a few themes here; however, I believe that a deeply thinking reader will find several others.
FQ: What made you want to write a children's book about turtles?
SAMUEL: The best way to answer this is that the story selected the animal. I needed a separation event: I realized that a waterfall would be perfect given how traumatic it would be to be toss over it. This and being sweep over rapids would provide a battle with the forces of nature. If you think about the rest of the story, a turtle is really the only option. I also like turtles very much.
FQ: So are you hopeful that young readers will realize that should they find a turtle in distress, they should help it return to a safe place?
SAMUEL: Definitely. As I  explained above, this is one of the themes of The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle.
FQ: The illustrations forThe Adventure of Thomas the Turtle are quite lovely. Were you and the illustrator, Nathaniel Dailey, acquainted before starting this project and how hard was it to work together?
SAMUEL: Actually, I have never met nor had any contact with Nathaniel Dailey. An editor at Jupiter Scientific (the publisher) handled everything. I agree that the illustrations are beautiful and that Dailey did a wonderful job of using them to render the story vivid.
FQ: Are you currently working on your next book? If so, will it be another animal story?
SAMUEL: If The Adventure of Thomas the Turtlesells well then there is a natural sequel.
I would like to say one last thing: Frequently authors become bored with their books having written, rewritten, read and reread them so often. However, with the passing of time, I have actually become quite fond of this brave, little turtle named Thomas.