By: Joseph O'Donnell Illustrated by: Kasidy Sinteral Scott and Kestrel Erickson Publisher: Outskirts Press Publication Date: September 2019 ISBN: 978-1977211842 Reviewed by: Holly Connors Review Date: October 30, 2019
A woodland adventure that takes place in, and around, a beautiful tall tree, is a treat for children who will anxiously follow along to learn the fate of a missing mouse.
Deep in a forest stood a lovely tree. But the tree wasn't just beautiful to behold, it was also the tallest tree in the forest. Many woodland creatures called the tree home. At the very top lived a family of birds. Papa and Mama Bird worked hard to feed their six little babies. Below them lived a busy family of squirrels, as well as a family of chipmunks and at the bottom of the tree, on the ground, was a family of rabbits. The tree was crowded but all the residents were content. While they were all different, they played together and helped each other when needed. In fact, they were one big, happy family.
One day, two little mice showed up - brothers Sammy and Benny. Seeing how happy everyone in the tree was, the mice asked Papa Bird if they could move into the tree. Papa Bird was thrilled to welcome the mice to the tree and soon Sammy and Benny were considered part of the big, happy family. All was well until Sammy, who loved to explore, wandered away from the tree. Hours later he realized he could no longer see the tall tree - he was lost. Would Sammy be able to find his way home? Or would his friends in the tree be able to find him? What would happen...
The Tall Treeis a delightful story that shows what can happen when people, or in this case, cute little animals, come together to help each other. Seasoned mystery author JP O'Donnell (the "Gallagher" mystery series) has struck gold with his first venture into the world of children's books. The story moved along quickly with enough action to keep little readers engaged. And speaking of holding the interest of readers, the illustrations will also keep readers' attention. They are wonderful - vibrant and adorable. The animals come to life through their expressive eyes and cute expressions and beautifully move the story along. This is a book that your children will want to read every night at bedtime for a very long time!
Quill says:The Tall Treeis an adorable story that is beautifully illustrated. Children will love following along with the adventures of all the creatures who live in the tree while also learning that everyone, no matter how different, has something valuable to contribute to every adventure.
For more information onThe Tall Tree,please visit the author's website at:jpodonnell.com
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Steven M. Moore, author of Son of Thunder (Esther Brookstone Art Detective).
FQ: Can you say a bit about making your central characters – Esther and Bastiann – seniors, retired or on the verge of, and, in the case of Esther, a three-time widow?
MOORE: The first book in the Art Detective series, Rembrandt’s Angel, was dedicated to Agatha Christie and her two sleuths, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. I’d always wondered how they’d play together in a single mystery (now two). While Esther Brookstone is perhaps a younger and hyperactive Miss Marple and Bastiann van Coevorden only looks like the actor that often played Poirot, wags at Scotland Yard used Christie’s characters to nickname the pair.
Esther is debating retirement in Rembrandt’s Angel and is retired in Son of Thunder. She’s still an energetic widow, though, and manages to get into trouble. She wants to spend more time with Bastiann, and he feels the same way. I left unresolved whether he’ll retire from Interpol, but he might be tempted now because I put him through a lot more than just trying to keep Esther on the straight and narrow.
Each of Esther’s first marriages were followed by the death of her husbands—bad luck for this grande dame who belies the Miss Marple nickname. Obviously this creates some doubts about making her relationship with Bastiann more permanent. On the other hand, Bastiann has never been married and was set in his ways until Esther expanded his horizons. Fate brought them together.
I wanted this romantic element in the prose to show that seniors can fall in love too. One motivation for the second book was to continue their romance. In the vapors of my creative mind, I’m thinking of a future murder mystery where the duo solves yet another crime on their honeymoon!
FQ: Are any of your own religious views reflected in your examination of John, Peter, and the two Marys?
MOORE: As I state in my end notes, I hope no one’s faith is shaken by the religious aspects of the book. In fact, the main twenty-first century characters have different opinions about religion, from Father Jean’s academic piety to Bruno’s violent agnosticism.
That said, I always wondered about John’s life after Christ’s Crucifixion. There are indications he lived for a long time, especially if he was truly the author of the Book of Revelation. I imagined a missionary life for him, carrying on Christ’s work in more of a clandestine fashion—historical fiction for the most part, but with danger and suspense added because of the Romans’ persecution of early Christians.
More to the point of your question, the views in the book come from many sources, in particular other gospels not included in the Bible. I’ve always been fascinated by religious history, and that includes Catholic history. My personal beliefs really didn’t influence me as much as chats with Jesuits and professors of comparative religion both here in the US and abroad over many years.
FQ: With which of the large cast of characters do you personally most identify?
MOORE: My answer might surprise you. I’d probably identify myself more with Father Jean, a priest/historian who serves as mentor and guide for the younger Bastiann van Coevorden. His discussion with Bastiann reflects some of the dialogue I’ve had with myself and others during my lifetime.
FQ: Have you traveled to any of the many countries/sites mentioned in the book?
MOORE: With Google maps and internet references, it’s very difficult nowadays to know whether an author has visited one of the settings in her or his books. But the answer is the same as for the first book in the series: yes, I’ve visited many of the countries used for settings. I traveled extensively as a scientist and just returned from a trip to Europe where I revisited Vienna, a setting used in the book. And I was like Bastiann years ago using those chains for support against la borra to make my way down to Triete’s harbor, for example—sans Bruno interrupting my reverie, of course. (Abdus Salam’s International Centre of Theoretical Physics is in Trieste.) I’ve never been to Turkey (Ephesus), though. I had to use some creative license there and research that too, as I did for a few other historical settings in the novel.
FQ: How do your unique book ideas usually develop?
MOORE: In the case of Son of Thunder, I’ve always had an interest in St. John and wanted to write something about him and his life about which so little is known. That’s a great opportunity for historical fiction. After Rembrandt’s Angel, Esther Brookstone seemed to be the logical one to help fill in the details.
In general, I’ve collected story ideas all my life, often in the form of what-ifs. For example, what if Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot teamed up to solve a mystery? (Esther and Bastiann were surrogates who answered that question, probably not in a way that Dame Agatha could have imagined.) What if the Magdalene and John were a missionary team that worked to convert the Roman Empire to Christianity? (I figured something like that had to go on.)
Collecting what-ifs, plot ideas, dialogue snippets, character descriptions, and possible settings has been a lifetime activity. Finding the time to use them is a challenge!
FQ: You state that this book is a “departure” for you - what elements drew you to this divergence?
MOORE: The departure is mostly in adding a religious context to the standard mystery/thriller genre—that’s not exactly original, but it was a departure for me personally. The other aspect is writing three parallel story lines, each taking place at different times in world history, and then bringing it all together. That required a lot of research, more so than in any previous book of mine (they all require some research, of course). The result is a work that differs greatly from other books in my oeuvre.
FQ: Son of Thunder is ultimately optimistic although many dark threads run through it. Is that what you originally planned, or did the story just grow on its own?
MOORE: Each story “just grows on its own.” In technical writing jargon, I’m a pantser. I never make an outline, so each story grows organically—hopefully like flowers and not weeds! Many of my mystery, thriller, and sci-fi books contain dark threads, but I always try to end on a note of optimism. For example, the novel published before Son of Thunder, The Last Humans, is a post-apocalyptic thriller, about as dark as it can be in spots, but the survivors make a new life for themselves.
FQ: Do you have more plans for Esther and Bastiann?
MOORE: I mentioned one idea above: their solving a crime on their honeymoon. We’ll see how that goes. After all I put them through, they deserve a bit of rest, though, but a trilogy is certainly possible. The Nile is 4132 miles long, while the Danube is only 1771 miles. The latter is still long enough for Esther to find trouble as Poirot did on the Nile.
FQ: I imagine a lot of research went into the writing of this book. Do you find the research aspect of writing historical fiction exciting or just a necessary part of the job of accurate writing?
MOORE: I’ll confess I learned a lot more about St. John and Sandro Botticelli in my research for this book—that was exciting. I owe a lot to Isaacson’s masterful biography Leonardo da Vinci in describing the Florentine Renaissance scene. I delved into the non-canonical gospels as they were discovered. I find background material for my books in many sources.
Most of my fiction requires some research, and that often just means getting the facts right. In the case of Son of Thunder, I wanted to be super careful and not buy into any hoaxes. For that reason, and not so much that it’s historical fiction (which only complicates the job), it’s the book I’ve researched the most. Esther and Bastiann often question what is historical fact and what is legend, as does Sandro, all for the same reason—to express doubts about what is fact and what is legend.
FQ: You had a career in academia and scientific R&D - is that where you developed your obvious expertise of conducting extensive research to create vivid historical periods/scenes?
MOORE: In physics and other sciences, a laboratory can confirm theoretical conjectures. In history, archaeology, and so forth, humanity’s existence on Earth provides the laboratory where the resulting data is often full of gaps and sometimes is lost and must be rediscovered. The scientific method still applies, although time scales are often extended.
I’ve always been interested in history but firm in my belief that historical theories should be checked as much as any scientific theory. Who knows? New historical research might prove some of the fictional account in Son of Thunder completely incorrect, requiring an added note in the end material of the book in the future. Historical fiction writers must, by necessity, fill in the gaps in historical knowledge.
The Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse
By: Tracy Stopler Publisher: CreateSpace Publication Date: August 2016 ISBN: 978-1533381118 Reviewed by: Skyler Boudreau Review Date: October 27, 2019
InThe Ropes That Bind,author Tracy Stopler tells the story of Tali Stark, following her from childhood into adulthood. At nine years old, Tali is abducted and sexually assaulted by a stranger on her way to school. Miraculously, she is released hours later. However, Tali carries the lingering trauma of this event with her for decades.The Ropes That Bindexplores Tali’s experiences as a survivor long after her abduction and assault, guiding both her and the reader through a difficult and inspiring recovery process.
The Ropes That Bindmakes two important observations very early on. The first is that trauma doesn’t simply go away because the event causing it is over. Tali carries the memory of it with her throughout her life. It haunts her in nightmares and flashbacks, completely altering the way she might have lived her life otherwise. The second observation is that healing doesn’t happen in a day. It can be messy and it’s never a straight and easy path, something that author Tracy Stopler writes about without flinching. Readers journey with Tali as she stumbles into a healing process of her own, searching for one that’s right for her. The book is full of lessons like these and while it could certainly be beneficial to other survivors, it’s also something that people who have never experienced this kind of trauma will be able to learn from. It’s a powerful story of healing.
While the messages Stopler delivers in her novel are undeniably positive, there are several negative aspects that stand out in sharp contrast. The book is written less like a novel and more like a summary of a novel. This is an issue that comes from trying to load too much into one relatively short book. Rather than a story,The Ropes That Bindreads more like a list of barely related events. As readers follow Tali from childhood to mid-life; her story is a combination of vague explanations of pivotal events and other painstakingly detailed scenes that add very little to the story. These scenes are never tied together into a single cohesive story.
The novel also lacks a sense of time and place. Sometimes years will pass in a page or two without warning, and other times a single scene with little significance to the story will drag on for an entire chapter. Often the story will continue as if moving in a regular, linear fashion, only for a character to suddenly say that anywhere from two years to ten have passed. The audience is constantly pulled out of the story to accommodate these unexplained time skips.
The Ropes That Bindis a novel clearly written with the best of intentions. The author knows what she’s talking about when she discusses what goes into healing from a traumatic event. On the other side of that coin, the information is not portrayed in a way suitable to fiction, woven into the narrative. Instead, it is given to the audience in massive chunks all at once.
Quill says: Author Tracy Stopler makes her best effort to portray a long and arduous post-trauma healing process.
For more information onThe Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse,please visit the book's website at:www.TheRopesThatBind.com
By: Max Tomlinson Publisher: Oceanview Publishing Publication Date: August 2019 ISBN: 978-1608093410 Reviewed by: Gina Montanha Review Date: October 30, 2019
It was The Summer of Love in 1967, on the dark, foggy streets of San Francisco. Eighteen-year-old Margaret Copeland, stumbling around alone while tripping on LSD, decided it was time to straighten her life out and go home to her estranged family. But while she tries to focus on locating a pay phone to call home, an ominous young man in a green Ford Falcon entices her into his car and she meets her dark fate that night, instead of beginning her journey home.
Eleven years later, Margaret’s father, Edward Copeland, is nearing the end of his battle with terminal lung cancer and as his last dying wish, he wants to see Margaret’s unsolved murder solved and her unknown murderer brought to justice. He hires a young private investigator, Colleen Hayes, to re-examine the cold case. Colleen, who is on probation for committing a crime of her own, is working as a security guard for an abandoned old warehouse. The warehouse doubles as her home while she tries to get her life back on track after serving nine years in prison. Mr. Copeland’s lawyer convinces Colleen to take the job, after she realizes she has nothing to lose and desperately needs the generous compensation they are offering.
While juggling her obnoxious parole officer, an estranged daughter of her own and the dead girl’s handful of a sister Alexandra, Colleen still manages to piece together a puzzle that the authorities seemed uninterested in pursuing in 1967. When she discovers homicide detectives and a local, powerful politician were somehow involved in a cover up and secret affairs, things get dangerous for Colleen. Yet she persists and pursues every little detail of the murder, hoping to find something that was missed. Will an old roommate, a conscientious maintenance man and mysterious fragments found in the victim’s stomach be enough for Colleen to solve this eleven year old mystery? You’ll have to race to the end to find out! This book kept me up late a few nights, wanting to read just one more chapter. It is very well-written and has deep, well-developed characters. And just when I thought I had it all figured out, some last minute plot twists had me stunned...and yearning to read the next book!
Quill says: Vanishing In The Haight is tantalizing and engaging, the kind of book that is very hard to put down. This one is highly recommended for all lovers of a truly chilling murder mystery.
6 Novel Digital Marketing Ideas for Book Promotion
In these last few years, authors have started to pay more attention to marketing, considering the variety of digital tools they have available and can use to their advantage. As great as your finished book might be, without the right marketing tactics, meeting your ultimate goals as an author won’t be possible.
The power of marketing can directly impact your reputation, that’s why you need to start getting serious about your promotional approach, and actually make use of the most appealing techniques. Having your book on the top shelf of a book store isn’t what will help you drive the interest of readers, you need to find marketing strategies that allow you to boost awareness around your name and around the tile of your book.
So what exactly should you be doing at the moment? What digital marketing ideas come with most potential?
#1 Set up a website for your book
You can help potentially-interested readers to find you even before you actually finish writing and launch your book. How? By setting up a dedicated website for it. Your presence online will directly impact the number of sales, regardless if you choose to sell your book in book stores solely, or if you release an eBook version as well.
The website can become the central place for digital users to discover some insights on what you’ve published. You can share a few interesting paragraphs there, to entice readers to actually buy the book, you can add the description, and any other info you believe will work well for promotional purposes.
Find a custom domain that can be easy to identify. Also, make the platform SEO-friendly, so potentially interested people can easily come across it when searching online. The website can be used for your future projects as well, so try to keep it updated even after you’ve reached a pleasing number of book sales.
#2 Build a powerful online presence on social media
You don’t need to be an expert in digital marketing to know how much social media matters, and how much it can do for your promotional journey. Building a powerful presence on the most popular social channels will differentiate your success as an author. ‘
On these channels, you can create connections, engage with your readers, and spark interest in your target audience. You can use various strategies that will allow you to boost your exposure on popular platforms.
●Set up an account on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - these usually are the channels with the biggest audience.
●Create great promotional content and publish regularly - try to generate buzz among your followings.
●Start a social media contests and give a few copies of your book away - it will help you increase your number of followers and make more people interested in your creation
●Partner up with an Instagram influencer who you resonate with and can promote their book on their own accounts and redirect followers to yours.
●Share photos of people reading your book - entice users to get their own copy by showing them others enjoy reading the book you have available
● Make use of visuals - play around with photos, videos, and graphics. Social media is all about visuals, so use them to your advantage.
●Leverage the power of hashtags - make your creation recognizable and use the power of relevant hashtags in your social media posts.
#3 Create a killer book description and share it with the Internet
From your social media accounts to your website, or the websites of people reviewing your book, share a great book description with the Internet in the way you think will work best. This should provide readers with a glimpse of what’s most interesting about the book itself, and not a summary of the storyline.
Even if you are a brilliant writer, creating a killer book description that actually generates buzz on the Internet can be more difficult than you’ve thought, especially if you have to handle the task rapidly. A book description for digital marketing purposes needs to be made with promotional purposes in mind, and with attention to detail.
#4 Identify your audience and direct your market efforts towards their favorite online “spot”
You need to learn who exactly your audience is and what their usual digital activities look like on the daily. Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can go to those parts of the Internet where they enjoy spending most time.
This is what author Lewis Howes did when marketing his book ‘The School of the Greatness’. He started by outlining his reader’s interested, followed by profession, where they lived, and their age as well. Basically, what he did was create a customer persona.
With data at his disposal, he developed a digital marketing strategy tailored to his audience’s interests. He created content based on his book, repurposing it into social updates, videos for Snapchat and Instagram, scannable blog posts, longer clips for YouTube, etc.
Whether it’s Reddit, Snapchat, Instagram, or YouTube, figure out where your readers are online, and create a plan on how you can reach them and catch their interest.
#5 Reach out to top reviewers
Today’s readers are informing themselves properly before deciding to actually spend money on a book. They have reviewers they trust, where they go see if a certain book is worth reading or not. Find top reviewers online who are mainly interested in your personal writing style, and reach out to them. Having a well-known book reviewer read and rate your book online can work quite well in your favor. This will help you increase visibility, and at the same time, it will contribute to your credibility as an author.
#6 Amazon Ads
Even if you decide to sell your book on Amazon – which you probably will, considering how big of a marketplace the platform actually is – to generate sufficient exposure, rely on Amazon AMS Ads. More authors have seen the potential of Amazon Ads for sale increases. Start a campaign of this kind yourself, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
In the digital era, marketing opportunities are more versatile and promising than ever. Promoting a book and reaching out to your target audience, without investing a lot of money into the process, is possible. While options are plenty, you should start looking into the ideas highlighted above. Each one of these actions will help you generate awareness around your book, and draw a larger number of readers. The way you choose to approach things in terms of promotion will directly impact your reputation, as well as your future as an author. Look over these suggestions, decide what would work for you personally, and start designing and implementing a marketing action plan that can help you reach your goals.
Dorian Martin is a writer from Queens, NY. He graduated from New York University and started his career as a writer, now working as a content marketing specialist at Trust My Paper. He is a regular contributor to websites, such as Huffington Post, WOWGrade, The Guardian and also has a personal blog named NotBusinessAsUsusal.com
By: Richard Robbins Publisher: Evolved Publishing Publication Date: November 2019 ISBN: 978-1622538232 Reviewed by: 978-1622538232 Review Date: October 2019
What does it take to attain high office? And is it worth it? And are the people behind the scenes as influential as the ones who stand before the crowd? And, most importantly, is success in professional and public life worth the sacrifice of familial peace and security? By comparing two very different families, author Robbins ponders these time-honored questions in his latest novel.
The Wax family – Paul, his wife Jamie and their two sons Alex and Matthew – are smart, plain-living people who sprang from humble roots. The Murnanes – Emerson and Elizabeth and their children Robert and Jonathan – are bluebloods, so steeped in money and privilege that they take it for granted. The two families meet at a poolside, where Matthew takes a shine to Emily, Robert’s daughter, while Emily takes a shine to a new puppy belonging to Dodah, Paul’s surrogate mom, and the older Murnanes learn about some of the simple pleasures of the local scene from Paul and Jamie. From that time onward, there are further encounters as the children grow up. Among their parents and grandparents are stirrings of far-reaching consequence as Emerson persuades Robert to run for high office, Alex and Matthew learn they have a surprising benefactor, and Matthew and Emily continue their friendship with small favors along the way to sweeten the relationship. Political machinations, substance abuse, crime and deep-seated jealousies all will play a role as the story moves toward an unexpected climax.
Robbins handles these wide-ranging plot shifts deftly. His book’s title references a plant with multiple branches and on each branch, multiple flowers, an apt symbol for the intertwining of this generational saga. Too, each character is multi-dimensional: Emily is sweet-natured and stronger than she knows, but plagued by a family propensity to alcoholism; Matthew, blessed with sudden wealth, chooses to use his skills in a giving profession; Dodah lives like a proud pauper while managing a secret fortune. Putting all these branches on one tree seems impossible, but by the end of Robbins’s skillful planning, it will come about. There is much to be admired in his writing style, especially the credible views of the more challenging way of life experienced by the Waxes contrasted with the frills enjoyed by the Murnanes. Luckily, as Robbins depicts them, among both clans there is a willingness to accept and understand the other. The strands of relationship and possibilities for further meshing suggest that a sequel could be forthcoming.
Quill says: Richard Robbins has constructed a dynamic, dramatic story of two families entangled in the same lines of destiny. This cross-generational tale grows and branches out until finally, after sunlight and storm, it will come to full bloom.
The Dung Beetles of Liberia: A Novel Based on True Events
By: Daniel V. Meier, Jr. Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books Publication Date: September 2019 ISBN: 978-1945448379 Reviewed by Lynette Latzko Review Date: October 22, 2019
AsThe Dung Beetles of Liberiaopens, the reader is transported to 1961 where we meet nineteen-year-old Ken Verrier who finds himself at a major crossroads in his young life. He’s in his second year of school at Cornell University, and although he is doing fairly well in his studies, he is far from satisfied with his education and future as a physicist.
Ken yearns to get away, not only from the brutal winters in upstate New York, but to escape a world that has recently faltered due to the death of his brother. He informs his equally shocked parents and girlfriend of his decision, and thanks to a few connections his father has, he obtains a visa and employment as a pilot for an air transport operation in Liberia, West Africa.
A few days later, Ken lands in Liberia, begins his job, and is thrown into a new world that is drastically and often disturbingly dissimilar to what he was used to in America. While he expects this country to be a great match for his future endeavors, thinking he’ll do well because Liberia is reportedly a rich and prosperous country, he quickly comes face-to-face with the stark and brutal realities of life in West Africa. The few rich people have a strong grip and power over the poor masses, and everyone, regardless of economic status, appears to have no regard for ethics or morals as they scratch their way to the top or merely cling onto anything for survival. Ken is also exposed to a motley crew of people, including a few foreigners, particularly paranoid ex-Nazis, political dignitaries, international businessmen, local tribesmen, and even the Peace Corps, who all seem to have a similar agenda, to squeeze the most possible out of the land and the people, at any cost.
The Dung Beetles of Liberiafollows the main character from a naive young man escaping the demons of his past, through his years of living and working in Liberia. His time in Liberia is filled with heart-pounding tales of often narrowly escaping sudden disaster and sometimes humorous bits of his escapades that takes readers on a wild adventure, making one feel as if they are right there in the seat next to Ken. But will Ken Verrier become a changed man, getting sucked into the endless corruption that is now a part of his life, or will he manage to escape the evils that surround him and maintain his integrity throughout his time in Liberia?
Readers should note thatThe Dung Beetles of Liberiamay appear to be a memoir, but as it states on the cover, it is a “novel based on true events.” It is much more than a simple accounting of a life spent in West Africa, it is a story about a young white man’s coming-of-age, set in the backdrop of a real country experiencing a tumultuous time in their history. In fact, the author has created a unique blend of memoir and historical fiction that will capture your attention from the beginning, and fly you through the pages until the very end. While the writing is polished and flows well, some of the characters’ development could be a bit more fleshed out. In particular, this reader felt that Ken Verrier’s girlfriend needed something more substantial, and was left dangling at the end of her part in the story. However, with that said, this novel, because of its excellent writing, likable characters, and a riveting, page-turning story-line should not be missed by anyone.
Quill says:The Dung Beetles of Liberiais not only an engaging read, but an eye-opening education on life in 1960's Liberia as experienced by a young American pilot.
For more information onThe Dung Beetles of Liberia,please visit the author's website atdanielmeierauthor.com
"Thump...Thump...Thump..." starts this solemn, true story of the woman who saved a diary in 1944, a diary that would become the most famous one ever. Miep Gies was a courageous, caring woman, who risked her life over and over again, in order to save, help, and protect as many people as she could, while she herself lived through World War II in Amsterdam. Anne Frank and her diary are well known worldwide, but many people do not know the story of Miep, who lived to be 100 and penned an autobiography of her own.
This book, aimed at simplifying this historical, tragic tale for a younger audience, brilliantly uses sound effects (onomatopoeia ) throughout the story, begging you to read it out loud, as it should be. From that first “Thump,” which is the sound of Nazi officers on Miep’s back stairs, to the “Sssssshhhhhhhhhhp” of slicing open an envelope containing a heartbreaking letter, author Meeg Pincus does a wonderful job of keeping readers engaged in the awe-inspiring story of bravery and compassion. When Miep rescues the diary after the family is captured, it is her wish to safeguard it until Anne herself returns after the war to publish it.
More than a year later, Otto Frank returns to the Gies family, where Miep once again provides more than just shelter for her weak and ailing friend. When they sadly learn of Anne and her sister’s death, Miep hands over the diary to a grief stricken Otto, who learns what a talented writer his daughter was. Poor Miep could not and did not bring herself to read the diary herself until many years later. She was fascinated at how famous the diary has become and encouraged by Anne’s words to continue living a life of hope and help.
The “Author’s Note,” “More About Miep’s Courage,” and the “Timeline of Miep’s Life” at the end of the story are insightful accompaniments that will help explain and encourage conversations about World War II and the circumstances surrounding this era.
Quill says: Miep and the Most Famous Diary conveys a tender tale of a troubling time. You’ll want to read this one aloud and be prepared to help children understand how small and large actions alike can create the most incredible outcomes!
By: Simon Plaster Publisher: Mossik Press Publication Date: September 2019 ISBN: 978-0-9994185-3-6 Reviewed by: Amy Lignor Review Date: October 17, 2019
Simon Plaster’s bevy of tales when it comes to his girl, Henrietta Hebert from Henryetta, Oklahoma, have ascended in many readers’ minds to sit among the “best of the best.” His is humor to the most brilliant degree and, if questioned, it’s easy to state (which this reviewer has done before), that this author is the ultimate “King of Satire.”
This time around, we join Henrietta as she’s driving her old yellow Checker cab west on Historic Route 66. Henrietta said ‘so long’ to her small hometown in Oklahoma once to go after her dream. Yes, she is a journalist, and that Pulitzer Prize is out there. It’s dangling in her future, like a squirrel in a tree mocking the barking dog in the back yard saying: “Learn how to climb yet, Fido?”
Lack of education is Henrietta’s problem. After all, she only enjoyed a half-semester of remedial reading and writing in a junior college before heading home to help her mother when she had a brain stroke. There, she was stymied while working for Harold Mixon, the owner/publisher of the Henryetta Weekly Herald. Finally, after going nowhere, she has quit the job and hit the highway in order to better herself so she can catch that elusive squirrel.
Pulling up in front of the Oklahoma Public Education Center (Yes, OPEC) in Oklahoma City, Henrietta is a bit surprised that this once tech school is now offering a curriculum that includes the career path she’s chosen. After signing up for a minor in cheerleading (yes, there’s a joke there), Henrietta heads out to meet her new Professor of Journalism, Mr. Owen Hatteras. He “teaches” his course in the print shop which is a metal shack located behind the run-down WELCOME CENTER on campus.
Owen is interesting, to say the least. Sixtyish, cigar smoking, bowtie-wearing, cusses like a drunk cowboy man—he has a past that includes being too smart for the people whose chins are far too high (a.k.a. Harvard), and despising politicians, among many others. The person he despises most at the moment, however, is a man already holding the D.A. slot in Oklahoma City, Lawrence Farrell. When he was younger, Owen became the courthouse reporter for his hometown newspaper, the Oklahoman out of OKC, so he has witnessed how absolutely unscrupulous Farrell can be in order to keep his career moving ahead. In fact, Owen once worked for this man and hates him with a fervor. Oddly enough, however, he wants to help Farrell win an upcoming election. But...why? Oh, trust me, there’s a reason.
Henrietta learns from Owen all about the new OPEC curriculum, which is not only adding journalism to their offerings but also two other choices: A Department of Feminist Studies, and an English Department run by Temporary Adjunct Professor Joseph McDokes, who will teach western literature. Included in this course will be Genesis I.
This is significant because in the state of Tennessee, in the year 1925, there was a famous trial referred to as the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” It had to do with religion and education coming together in an “unlawful” way. A substitute high school teacher was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The lawyers on hand for this trial were big-name to say the least, and it also brought in arguments from Modernists and Fundamentalists. (Must have been a real happy time in that courtroom. Too bad cell phones weren’t invented then to take some friendly pics.)
In the here and now, it is Henrietta Herbert, aspiring journalist, who will be taking on many roles. She will not only find herself attracted to the accused, but will also be reporting on what could turn out to be a new “trial of the century.” This is all happening while Owen is playing his own cat-and-mouse game; the constant yapping can be heard from the former D.A., William “B. is for Bullshit” Ryan; and the Church has their own uprising against people who still do not understand that God’s word trumps (no pun intended) science, and so much more. Henrietta will even be referred to as Miley Cyrus. (Wanna know why? Read the book!)
Defined in reviews and bios across the Internet, Simon Plaster is a storyteller: both a writer of fiction and a fibber (a.k.a., downright liar.) To fans who are completely on edge at times waiting to see Henrietta again and laugh hysterically over the new characters she will meet up with, the more correct definition of Simon Plaster is, downright funny with a mind that creates books which are unforgettable. If you have not “jumped in” with this series as of yet, this is a great place to begin. After this, you will most assuredly “jump backwards” and read every word that has ever been uttered in regards to Henrietta Herbert of Oklahoma.
Quill says: This book offers humor and a unique education that brings the trials and errors of this current world into focus.
By: Steven M. Moore Publisher: Penmore Press Publication Date: September 2019 ISBN: 978-1950586073 Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott Review Date: October 16, 2019
Practiced mystery author Steven M. Moore creates three tales in one, from different historical plateaus, blending elements of a modern thriller with myth and fact from two earlier centuries in his newest offering,Son of Thunder.
The stories open as painter Sandro Boticelli presents to his patron Lorenzo de Medici his latest creation – untitled - depicting the New Testament Zebedee and his two sons James and John, the latter definitely resembling the artist. When Lorenzo spurns the unusual painting, Bishop Leo steps in and makes Boticelli an offer he can’t refuse. Once he has possession of Boticelli’s creation, Leo hides it away in an armoire along with some cryptic notes regarding the true burial site of John, whom Jesus named a “son of thunder.” Next we find John, in the first century; he’s fleeing the violence of the Romans against Christians by traveling furtively through Europe, calling on Mary the mother of Jesus, who is on her death bed, and Mary, known as the Magdalene, who, like John, is boldly attempting to preserve relics of their Master’s life and teaching.
Skipping to the twenty-first century we meet Esther Brookstone, a retired operative from Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Division, and her male companion, Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent. The two have just spent some quality time together in her newly renovated castle and both are, secretly, considering the possibility of marriage. Through her contacts in the art world, Esther authenticates the Boticelli painting once hidden away by Bishop Leo, and discovers his arcane notes concerning the grave of St. John. These will lead her, Bastiann, and a varied cast of characters - with a wide, sometimes nefarious mix of motives and methods – on an international chase to a faraway place where sacred bones are buried.
Moore has written about Esther and Bastiann previously; the interest about and between the two is deepened in this latest exploration of their vibrant partnership. Though Esther seems at times the more assertive of the two and quite capable of taking care of herself, she needs someone like Bastiann -- a plodder, an observer, and a good man to have on one’s side when the chips are down. Moore offers an abundance of stirring intrigue related to the current political climate, against a background of historical speculation. Terrorism and its foes play a role, and a weirdly motivated descendant of one of the ancients joins in the fray. Moore has included an afterword he calls “Notes, Disclaimers and Acknowledgements” that sheds light on the lure for him of this multilayered, twisting tale.
Quill says: Moore’s deft interweaving of history, religion, fable and fact makes for a fascinating read, highly recommended for readers who favor a thriller that makes them think beyond the page.
To learn more aboutSon of Thunder,please visit the author's website at:stevenmmoore.com