Thursday, October 17, 2019

#BookReview - Wind

WIND: A Tragicomedic Tale of Trials & Errors
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.


#BookReview - Son of Thunder @StevenMMoore4

Son of Thunder (Esther Brookstone Art Detective)

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 about Son of Thunder, please visit the author's website at: stevenmmoore.com

#BookReview - Eating for Pregnancy @WerbieLLC

Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook, 3rd Edition

By: Catherine Jones and Rose Ann Hudson with Teresa Knight
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7382-8510-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 2019
Eating for Pregnancy is a fantastic guide to source if you are the expectant momma who is committed to embracing the concept of ‘you are what you eat’ and making the right choices of what you eat for your unborn child.
This book encompasses an overarching and solid guideline of insights and nutritional facts that focus on the importance and essence of making healthy food and life choices from conception to delivery of one’s unborn child. Speaking from my experience with my first pregnancy, I had no idea where to look or what to consider once I knew I was pregnant. Of course, the guidance and care of my physician was key, but the everyday in between as the baby developed was a mystery to me. In Eating for Pregnancy, the ‘what to do and what not to do’ is spelled out throughout the book. It is broken down into the three trimesters of pregnancy and provides not only the changes a woman’s body goes through in each phase, but provides the critical needs an expectant mother must consider to not only develop a healthy child, but to nurture and take care of her ‘body/temple’ along the way as well.
Early in the read, each author takes a moment to introduce herself and provide credentials that solidify why they are knowledgeable and equipped to lay out the read. The book then launches into the daily nutritional needs during each trimester of pregnancy. The information is provided in easy to read charts that outline not only caloric needs, but how to attain healthy choices to satisfy the necessary caloric intake. It delves further into the average weight gain during pregnancy and how the weight gain should be attained in a healthy fashion. This book is not preachy by any means and it breaks down the scientific reasons for the weight gain with a guide to follow to make sure the expectant mother is taking the proper balance for healthy gain. There is an abundance of recipes ranging from meal entrees to soups, salads and desserts that maximize on the correct balance to strike in order to insure a viable pregnancy. 
After reading Eating for Pregnancy, my first thought was: I wish this book was around when I had my second child. My first pregnancy was textbook in that I did ‘everything right’ and delivered a healthy baby girl. I got back to my ‘fighting weight’ in a mere couple of months and was ready to take on the world. My second pregnancy was a completely different experience. While I delivered another healthy baby girl, my food choices and weight gain were off the charts. I didn’t eat poorly. Rather, I ate a lot. With Eating for Pregnancy, there is scientific and nutritional information throughout the read that supports not only the importance of maintaining a diet that is just as important for mother as it is for the unborn child, but it educates the reader along the way. I especially enjoyed the abundance of recipes that contain wonderful ingredients and nutritional information as much as they strategically focus on what nutrition is vital during specific periods of the pregnancy. In my opinion, this book may be targeted to the importance of developing the healthiest baby possible, but I believe it also sets the tone and foundation of smart food choices and nutrition as a lifestyle beyond delivery. Well done! 
Quill says: Eating for Pregnancy is a fantastic, one-stop, nutritional guide for all expectant mothers that also lays the foundation for overall healthy nutrition beyond pregnancy.
For more information on Eating for Pregnancy, please visit the author's website at: www.catherinejonescookbooks.com

#BookReview - Ruth Ready: While You're Waiting on Your Boaz, you better be...

Ruth Ready: While you’re waiting on your Boaz, you better be...

By: Kitty Arceneaux
Publisher: Kitty Isaac-Arceneaux
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1075494741
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 2019
Ruth Ready is Kitty Arceneaux’s thought-provoking, faith-based book that focuses on what it takes to build a solid relationship between man and woman. 
Before settling into the meat of Ruth Ready, Ms. Arceneaux sets the tone with: ‘My intention is to help position you for a man that can guide you to a place worth going to, a man with focus, courage and determination.’ True to her words, Arceneaux explains her methodology in that she developed the content of her book by sourcing many single women. The ‘tag line’ to challenge her audience was for them to understand why they were ‘...waiting on my Boaz...’ From the onset, Arceneaux uses ‘Boaz’ (from the bible) as the premise of the guide women should seek in finding their soul mate—forever someone, life partner, etc. However, as the writing evolves, Arceneaux delves deeper into the concept and importance of not only adhering to a committed faith and belief in God, but to also ‘...take responsibility for anything in the relationship that went sideways...’ This is a skewed perception on what really attributes to the end of a relationship.
Ms. Arceneaux outlines her book in logical fashion in a step-by-step journey of chapters that build one upon the other; beginning with ‘Chapter One - Love is...’ She challenges her audience with laying out her own marriage that began in 2002 and the premise that she was faced with the daunting question of: ‘...I had to question if I was Ruth-Ready even though I never ever said I was waiting on my Boaz...’ She anchors the notion with the concept that many females get caught up in. We classify affections in the same category as love, but we don’t understand the true definition of love—often confused with lust or the physical attraction. Throughout the read, the audience will discover several opportunities to understand the importance of God as much as accountability and ownership of his/her contribution to the budding relationship—specifically the woman and whether (or not) she is ‘Ruth Ready.’
Ms. Arceneaux delivers a succinct and direct body of work in Ruth Ready. Just under 100 pages, it is packed with many opportunities for one to pause and reflect on his/her relationship. While the book focuses on the woman’s perspective in what it takes to ‘find her Boaz’ and be ‘Ruth Ready’ in a relationship, there are ample passages where a man could learn volumes from the premise as well. The writing flows and the book is laid out in a logical progression where one chapter sets the tone for the next to come. There are several vignettes toward the end of the book where Ms. Arceneaux shares accounts from real case studies and how their journey of ‘finding Boaz’ helped them along the way in their respective lives. Arceneaux is quite connected with her faith and often uses the importance of seeking the wisdom of God in fulfilling the richness of a complete and lasting relationship. The only area where this book often fell short was in the editing. There are numerous areas throughout the read where grammar and punctuation has been overlooked. I would caution Ms. Arceneaux to address this as it does take away from the overall read. Aside from that, this was an enjoyable and certainly, thought-provoking body of work.
Quill says: Ruth Ready is a great guide for those who are solid in their lasting relationship as much as those who are in search of the ‘perfect’ happily ever after.
For more information on Ruth Ready: While you're waiting on your Boaz, you better be...,please visit the author's website at: www.kittysbookshelf.com

#BookReview - Back Roads, Country Toads

Back Roads, Country Toads

By: Devin Scillian
Illustrated by: Tim Bowers
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-1534110397
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: October 2019 
Two friendly little hat-wearing, strawberry soda-drinking, country toads are at the center of this amusing little tale of adventure and misunderstanding. Hank and Buckaroo aren’t the smartest little hoppers, but they sure do know how to have a good time! When they overhear a conversation about some country folks going FLY-fishing, they know they have to sneak along and be part of the feast of flies. 
“Fly-fishing!” croaked Buckaroo. “It’s going to be the
greatest day of our lives!”
“Toadally,” agreed Hank.
Hank and Buckaroo hide themselves among a treat filled picnic basket, embark on a ride down Highway 41 in the back of a pick-up truck and end up in the woods near a fish-filled stream. When they run into their friend Emmitt the raccoon, they get a lesson on what fly-FISHing is really all about – and they are confused but not discouraged! To Hank and Buckaroo’s great delight, and not so much to Emmitt’s, they figure out a way to have a fly feast after all.
Illustrator Tim Bowers has crafted wonderful little creatures, with the focus of the drawings being on the animals rather than the people. His toads are full of personality and their facial expressions are priceless. He does especially funny and creative things with the toads’ tongues, which are sure to elicit giggles from young readers.
Quill says: Back Roads, Country Toads is cute and comical, sure to entertain readers of all ages. There’s something to be said about making lemonade out of lemons...or in this case, catching flies out of fly-fishing. 

#BookReview - Snow Globe Wishes

Snow Globe Wishes
by: Erin Dealey
Illustrated by: Claire Shorrock
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1534110311
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: October 17, 2019 
Author Erin Dealey has written a sweet, snowy story of making a magical wish on a simple, little snow globe. 
When a snow storm arrives, knocks out the power and keeps everyone indoors, a little girl and her family make the most of their precious time together. They unwind and relax with indoor picnics, soft candlelight and whimsical blanket forts. The adorable little girl makes her snow globe wish while her family sleeps. When morning comes, families, friends and neighbors venture out to play in a white-covered wonderland, and a wish for kindness and peace is imagined.
Claire Shorrock illustrates this delightful book with lots of snowflakes on the outdoor pages and all the warmth and coziness of home on the indoor pages. The muted colors have a very calming effect and her attention to detail is impeccable. The simple holiday trimmings are enough to conjure up all the heartfelt feelings of the Christmas spirit. 
Quill says: Snow Globe Wishes warms the heart and the soul with one little girl’s big wish for peace on earth. It’s a great story to read to the children around the Christmas season or any time of year when you want to be reminded of the true spirit of the holidays.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#AuthorInterview with Brit Lunden @britllunden

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Brit Lunden, author of The Devil and Dayna Dalton.
FQ: Dayna made a brief appearance in Bulwark.  What made you decide to explore her character more with a book of her own?
LUNDEN: I felt bad about Dayna. For a long time, I kicked around the idea that I had been unfair to her. When I decided to add to the anthology, I knew Dayna had to be the subject. Truthfully, I had no idea where the story was going to head. The characters usually push me in a direction.
FQ: Dayna discovers something very important about her relationship with Clay (not to be revealed here!).  Will she ever tell him what she learned?
LUNDEN: Yes. She realized she has a great friendship with him. Dayna has spent her life feeling alone. I think knowing the truth about her relationship with Clay will make her feel that she's not alone anymore.
FQ: Jenna vs. Dayna – in Bulwark, Jenna was a very likable person and Dayna was not. But in this story, the roles are reversed.  I found myself wishing Jenna would lighten up and be nice to Dayna. Was this intentional and will we ever see these two get along?
LUNDEN: Yes. It became part of the theme. Don't forget, perception is in the eyes of the beholder.
We tend to judge people based on their behavior, never thinking to examine why they do the things they do. Dayna was propelled by a bad relationship with her mother. She was needy for anybody to give her some positive attention. If we understand what drives peoples' personalities, a little sympathy and understanding go a long way. If a person is insecure, and you know the backstory, perhaps the way to treat them will make for a better outcome.
FQ: “Luck couldn’t find her if she dressed in neon and held up a sign.” Such a great line – do these lines just come to you as you write? Or do you think them up and then work them into the story?
LUNDEN: As I write them, I hear the characters. There is an edge of sarcasm to Dayna. I am never sarcastic, it's not my nature. I hear my characters loud and clear. Their voices ring in my head and I know just how they will react. Each one has an authentic voice.
FQ: Thelma Sweetpea’s role grows from an annoying neighbor to someone much more important to the story.  Will she get her own book in the future?  I’d love to learn more about her.
LUNDEN: I'm thinking she will have to finish her arc, but Trout really wants to address his story. I think he may be next.
FQ: The stories in this anthology have just enough supernatural elements to add a creepy and/or wow factor but not so much as to overpower the plot. How do you keep that balance?
LUNDEN: I want to keep it as real as possible. I love it when people close a book and say, could that be true or it just might happen. I love when the characters take on a life of their own, and people are not done with them. Many have asked Sheriff Clay Finnes to come back. I love hearing that.
FQ: Hellhounds or wolves?  What’s the difference?
LUNDEN: Werewolves are people that shapeshift into wolves. The hellhounds are monsters sent to do the bidding of bigger monsters. When I wrote Bulwark, I left hooks for authors to pull out stories. I didn't want to write about werewolves, so I left that plot for someone to pick up. I chose to use hellhounds because they are underused, and more servile to a bigger master.
FQ: What are your future plans for Bulwark, GA?  What new adventures await your fans?
LUNDEN: RL Jackson is working on something. I think she's continuing her story with vampires. I know Kay MacLeod, Eh Graham, DJ Cooper, and Brittney Leigh are working to add to the series. I think we will bring in some new authors as well. I definitely don't want to leave Bulwark. There are so many juicy subplots to explore.
FQ: You’ve written over 50 books in a broad range of genres.  Do you have a favorite genre to write? Do you find your pen flows easier in some genres, or that you have to think out a plot more in other genres?
LUNDEN: The fingers take on a life of their own on whatever subject I am working on. I just finished a book for kids about spies during the Second World War. I am taking a break to help publicize my son's book which came out on the same day. I won't start another story until the first line calls me and I sit down and just write.
FQ: Along the same lines, what advice would you give an author who would like to try writing outside their comfort zone and try a new, to them, genre?
LUNDEN: Don't be afraid of mixing things up. I never read horror, have never seen a scary movie, and yet here I am, writing frightening stories. I don't find what I write as scary, but the reviews have indicated that they are. I love stretching my imagination and seeing where it can go. The Devil and Dayna Dalton has elements of romance in it. That was challenging to see if I can write relatable romance. I love genre-jumping. I enjoy writing a non-fiction book as much as fiction. I like to finish, send it in for reviews. Getting a review is like opening a Christmas present. I cherish the words written because I learn from the comments. It also shows me my words have reached another person and affected them enough to share their thoughts and feelings about my work. It makes the world a kinder and more familiar place. It makes writing all the more worthwhile.

#BookReview - The Devil and Dayna Dalton @britlunden

The Devil and Dayna Dalton: A Bulwark Anthology

By: Brit Lunden
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1950080021
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 8, 2019
Author Brit Lunden has written a perfect mix of action, mystery, and a hearty dose of romance to top it off, in the latest offering in her "Bulwark Anthology Series," The Devil and Dayna Dalton.
We first met Dayna in Bulwark, the book that introduced readers to this popular anthology. Dayna was a reporter for the local paper with a minor role to play in that story. What we did learn about her from Bulwark was that she was driven, had a long-simmering crush on Clay Finnes, the sheriff of Bulwark, and that she could be a bit annoying. To be fair, there was more to Dayna's story that needed to be told, things that would explain her "issues" and what drove her to relentlessly pursue Clay as well as mess up her own life. Fortunately for readers, author Brit Lunden decided to explore Dayna's background in The Devil and Dayna Dalton.
The story opens with Dayna waking up at home after another night of drinking too much and bringing the wrong man home to help ease the pain of her life. Unfortunately for Dayna, bringing home yet another loser does nothing to help make life better. She quickly kicks Skip Benson, the latest dud date, out the door, gets some snide comments from her neighbor about her lifestyle choices, and then calls her mother. Again, probably not the best move as Dayna's mother is not the type of mother to bake cakes and spread the love. Rather, she's the type "...who couldn't even identify her daughter's father..." (pg. 10) and probably doesn't have any kind words in her vocabulary.
Dayna then heads to work and this is where the story gets going into overdrive. She decides to take the long way to work, along Old Jericho Road, a road that has a lot of history for readers, and characters, in the town of Bulwark. The story intersects with Bulwark at this point as Dayna meets up with Sherry Watson, a deputy who is investigating a local elderly man's death. As they talk, off in the distance, Officer Terrence Blake exits the old man's cabin. Sherry and Dayna walk toward the cabin but then suddenly Dayna is shoved to the ground by Sherry as a huge gray wolf comes bounding out of the woods. Sherry and Terrance run after the wolf as Dayna scrambles to keep up. After all, what a story! A wolf - particularly because no wolves live in the area.
It's at this point that things go really "weird" for Dayna as she soon gets lost, is almost attacked by the wolf, and is saved by a mysterious hunk of a man. More questions are asked, than answered, by Dayna about the man who saved her life, and the reader is brought along to try and figure out who he is, and what is going on. Curious characters abound, such as Mrs. Sweetpea, Dayna's one-time babysitter and now annoying neighbor. Like the others in this anthology, The Devil and Dayna Dalton is a quick read and one that kept me glued to the pages throughout. I've grown to love the fantastical world of Bulwark, GA, and can't wait to see where the author takes us next.
Quill says: The Devil and Dayna Dalton is another very satisfying read in the "Bulwark Anthology Series." If you've been reading these books, don't miss this one and if you haven't yet discovered this fun series, start reading now!

#BookReview - One Great Big World Community

One Great Big World Community
Written by: Christina Nordstrom
Illustrated by: Mark Richards
Publisher: Blurb
Publication Date: April 2019
ISBN: 978-0464157465
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 2019
Singer-songwriter Christina Nordstrom takes a unique approach to teaching children positive communication skills in her new book One Great Big World Community.
The first half of this twenty-page book is devoted to the lyrics of the song One Great Big World Community, with music and lyrics by Ms. Nordstrom. Each page has one verse, along with a picture that helps illustrate the subject of that verse. For example, on one page we read, 
How ‘bout when you are speaking,
well, then, I will be listening,
I will be listening, I will be listening.
Then when I am speaking,
It is your turn to listen
In this great big world community!
Below that verse is a picture of a young man with his head tilted toward another young man, clearly listening to what that second person is saying.
Midway through the book is the song, One Great Big World Community, in its entirety, with all the lines and notes so that you too can play the song. (I’m no piano virtuoso, but the catchy tune is very easy to play.) Following the song, the second half of the book carefully breaks down the topic of each verse, with questions for the child/children to consider as well as guidance for the educator, or parent, to help stimulate the discussion. Here we see things such as taking a line from the song – “If I don’t understand you, then I’ll ask you a question” – followed by a brief discussion of why you might have trouble understanding someone, along with a few suggestions on how to properly resolve the issue, such as “Can you tell me what ________ means? I don’t know that word.” This second section uses the same pictures as we saw in the first section, matching them to the same topics. 
One Great Big World Community, both the book and the song, tackle some important topics that kids are faced with each and every day. These include bullying, hurtful words, respecting the opinions of others and how to listen. The people featured in the book represent the diversity of the world and while the illustrations are a bit simplistic, they’re not the focus of the book, but merely an aid to help get the conversation going. The message the author successfully shares with readers comes through her music, which is a great way to engage kids. Once she has the readers’ attention, she keeps it by asking a multitude of questions, and by offering advice on how to deal positively with different situations – something we all could use a lot more of these days.
Quill says: A unique book that helps engage young readers to think more positively about those around them and how best to communicate with everybody.
To learn more about One Great Big World Community, and to purchase a copy, please visit its page on Blurb.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

#BookReview - The Last Woman in the Forest

The Last Woman in the Forest
By: Diane Les Becquets
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: March 2019
ISBN: 978-0399587047
Reviewed by: Skyler Boudreau
Review Date: October 3, 2019
Discovering your dead lover was a psychopath is scary. Discovering your dead lover might have also been a serial killer is terrifying. Author Diane Les Becquets takes readers on a harrowing, high-stakes race to learn the truth behind a seemingly perfect relationship.
Main character Marian works for a program that tracks the populations of endangered species, using dogs to find and collect scat samples. She is a hard-working, career-oriented woman who stumbles into a romance with her co-worker Tate along the way. Though it isn’t the main point of the story, I enjoyed reading about Marian’s experiences with this program. The author takes time to paint a vivid picture of what is clearly an important part of her character’s life. It adds significant dimension to Marian throughout the novel.
Readers get to travel alongside Marian as Diane Les Becquets describes the lush and fascinating settings her job and research of Tate’s past take her to. She expertly weaves a creeping tension into her descriptions. The reader is always aware that something isn’t quite right, lending a spooky edge to an already eerie story.
The Last Woman in the Forest does an excellent job exploring the aftermath of trauma. As Marian begins to learn more about Tate’s past, she takes a serious look at her relationship with him. As she sifts through her memories, she comes to the shocking realization that their relationship was far from perfect. Diane Les Becquets does a phenomenal job writing a young woman working through the complex emotions that come with realizing she was in a relationship that was both toxic and dangerous.
The strongest part of this novel is its climax. Diane Les Becquets slowly builds up to a final, explosive confrontation between Marian and Tate that keeps her audience riveted until the very end.
There are a few drawbacks to The Last Woman in the Forest. As engaging as the setting descriptions are, there are several other instances where description is overused. Entire paragraphs are spent describing the simplest of actions, such as answering a phone call when the audience’s attention should be focused on more important happenings.
The mystery/investigation elements of the story were also difficult to believe at times. Marian isn’t a detective, and she does the best research she can with the help of a retired criminal profiler. I enjoyed their investigation of Tate a lot, and Marian’s uncertainty with the proceedings added a great deal of suspense to the plot. However, there are multiple points where everything goes a little too smoothly.
Marian gains a lot of her information by asking very specific, nosy questions about Tate, completely out of the blue, to people who were close to him. These people never question why she wants to know detailed information about his locations and activities during a very specific time frame. Very few people question her motives throughout the novel and easily hand over everything she needs to know.
The Last Woman in the Forest is an intriguing combination of thriller and trauma recovery story. It’s disturbing in very obvious ways in addition to much smaller ways that will catch its readers off guard.
Quill says: This is a great novel for anyone who wants to get into the mystery/thriller genre but doesn’t know where to start.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Meet Authors Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl @jimkroepfl


Meet the authors of Merged 
via our 
"Meet the Authors" page!



#Interview with Authors Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl @jimkroepfl

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl, authors of Merged
FQ: This is one of those questions I have to ask. Is it difficult being married and being a writing team? What is the biggest benefit that comes along with that scenario; and, is there a way to just “shut the book idea down” for a bit when need be?
photo by John Williams
JIM AND STEPHANIE: Good question! We had careers in different industries, and it had always been our dream to find a way to work together. Writing side-by-side is fulfilling that dream, although there were trials and tribulations while figuring out how to make that work. The secret? Let go of the ego. The biggest benefit is every writer has their own strengths, and we’ve learned at what point in the process each of us excels. Also, it’s wonderful to have a cheerleader during those times when doubt and insecurity tries to take hold. And yes, it is hard to shut down the book ideas, but luckily we have a young dog who won’t take “no” for an answer when it’s past his walk time.
FQ: Do you each take a set of characters to write at the beginning of the project, or does that “ownership” come naturally as the book progresses?
JIM AND STEPHANIE: At the beginning, plotting is the most critical step to ensure we’re on the same page (sorry for the pun) about what happens when, and most importantly, how the story will end. We write the first draft by dividing the chapters. After a few rounds of our own edits, we swap and keeping refining the writing and plot to the point where we forget who originally wrote what. We don’t assign characters. Jim typically takes the scenes with backstory and action scenes, and Stephanie focuses on dialogue and cutting scenes that don’t drive the story forward.
FQ: Did the idea first stem from Orfyn; where did the idea of Orfyn first come from? Although all your characters are fantastic, there is something about his timing and skills that make him extremely memorable.
JIM AND STEPHANIE: Creating Orfyn was one of those times that makes what we do feel almost
The authors with their book "Merged" and a moose!
magical. Stephanie was playing around, just writing for fun, when this sentence appeared: “Depending on your point of view, I’m either famous or infamous.” Then, a sensitive street artist named Orfyn came to life. It was so strange because, back then, neither of us knew anything about street art. Lake was supposed to be the protagonist, and even in the late-stage of editing Lake’s chapters were first. But Orfyn kept stealing the spotlight, and we finally led the story with him. So the first line ever written actually formed the story and remained to become the beginning of the book.
FQ: Can you share with us a writing day in the life of Jim and Stephanie: Is there a specific place you work? Does your beloved dog ever play critic or reviewer? Does the Colorado majestic scenery help creatively, etc.?
JIM AND STEPHANIE: Jim likes writing in coffee shops, and Stephanie prefers working in our home office overlooking the mountains and forest. We live in a tiny town at the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and our daily walks with our dog, Finn, are a big part of the process. That’s when we plot or discuss scenes. Getting away from the computer and strolling around the lake clears our heads so fresh perspectives can emerge. And, Finn is only a critic when we take what we’re doing too seriously and forget to have fun.
FQ: It is stated that you regularly speak at writers’ conferences, as well as colleges and high schools to help others achieve their writing dreams. Can you perhaps share with our readers one of the greatest or most memorable moments you experienced with either a reader or future writer?
JIM AND STEPHANIE: After we’d written a manuscript that didn’t sell, Jim took some classes at Metropolitan State University at Denver. Thankfully for us, this included Young Adult Literature and Creative Writing. Now, we speak about the craft of writing at these same classes, which is always a thrill. The message we share is we’re proof that their dreams of being an author can come true. We often hear from these students later, and we always respond to their questions. Our biggest honor is “Merged” is included in this semester’s Young Adult Literature curriculum, and in a few weeks we’ll be speaking to that class after they’ve read the book, which will be a first.
FQ: Along those same lines, is there a piece of advice you give when it comes to being a successful author one day?
JIM AND STEPHANIE: Attend a writer’s conference. These events are important in so many ways. There are a wealth of classes on writing and about the industry, and you’ll hear famous authors speak about their journey. Also, this is one venue to pitch your story and find a literary agent. But even more importantly, you’ll meet your tribe. Writing can be such a solitary endeavor, it’s wonderful to realize you’re not alone. The attendees are in all stages of their career, from just thinking about writing a story to multi-book published authors. You will never meet a more supportive, inspiring group of people.
FQ: Because you are world travelers who love to see things, like ruins and obscure historical sites, can you tell us about one place you saw that completely blew your mind, and why? Is there a location you have not yet visited that is most definitely at the top of your ‘bucket list’?
The authors and their new dog Finn, the day they adopted him.
JIM AND STEPHANIE: Jim has been writing a story that deals with the North American mound builders from a thousand years ago. During his research, he discovered that mounds can still be found in Wisconsin. During a visit to Madison, we suggested to our friends that we find them. Unbelievably, some of the best preserved mounds were in a cemetery one mile from their house. Our girlfriend works with a pendulum, and the earth’s energy emanating off these mounds would transform any doubter into a true believer. So, one of the most awesome places ended up being right here in the United States. We love exploring Ireland, which has so many of these sites, both ancient and modern. We’re still hoping to see a crop circle, and of course, the alien remains at Roswell.
FQ: As an already annoying fan, which everyone will be the moment they read your book, I have to ask: How’s the second coming along? Can you give us a “sneak peek” at a character that may take on a bigger role; or, a new character who may simply take over when it comes to penning the next book?
JIM AND STEPHANIE: The sequel to Merged is plotted, and we’re currently working on the first draft. The stakes are bigger in this story. The mysterious Mind Sweeper virus is targeting and destroying the mental capabilities of teens with high leadership, academic, or athletic skills. Stryker plays a bigger role in this book while he and the next class of Nobels try to save the future leaders of their generation. But don’t worry, readers will get to follow Orfyn and Lake to see if they ever find each other.

#BookReview - Merged @jimkroepfl

Merged

By: Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1-948671-34-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 26, 2019
As a fan of Teen Fiction, like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games, I learned long ago that I love living in a world of YA sci-fi/fantasy novels that “blow up” to become some of the greatest movies of our time. Hence, when I received this particular masterpiece, I was once again exhilarated to dive right in. (It’s also a blessing for a YA fan to know ahead of time that you will not have to listen to vampires and their tales of woe.)
Right off the bat, we meet Orfyn, who is one heck of a street painter. This is a teen sitting in one of the many alleys of Brooklyn and “decorating” a building with his version of The Last Supper. What does that mean? Well, Judah has a black eye, robes have been exchanged for N.Y. Rangers’ uniforms, and that blessed ‘cup of Christ’ is now the brilliant silver NHL championship trophy, the Stanley Cup. This is not the first painting of Orfyn’s to hit Brooklyn, and he expects—with the help of a girl who stumbles upon him while at work—to receive notice for his art. Unfortunately for him, a slight mistake made by the girl may turn that ‘notice’ into total disaster.
Orfyn is not only an orphan, he’s also a highly gifted teenager, which is what this tale focuses on. There are a total of seven teens who are on the path to becoming Nobels. This means they will be the ‘hosts’ who will receive implants of genius minds, referred to as their Mentors. You see, scientists have found a way to accelerate human progress using an evolved form of living known as “Merged Consciousness.” Simply put, the minds of dying geniuses will be merged/placed into the minds and bodies of these particular teens, bringing about a path to immortality. But, of course, as so often happens in the world of science, they neglect to ponder the question: “Just because something can be done, should it be?”
There is such a thing as right and wrong when it comes to humankind, even though scientists would like to lead experiments (with no guilt attached) that would have them succeed at becoming creationists instead. This group is known as the Darwinians, and they are currently looking at losing the funding they so desperately need. Although they originally select six teens for their study (based on the six Nobel Prize categories), they add Orfyn to the lot, and the story focuses on a specific trio of the Nobels.
Our sixteen-year-old heroine is named Lake, and she’s not actually ready to merge with her particular Mentor. Lake has the title, Nobel for Chemistry, and she is part of the inaugural class of Nobels that also includes Orfyn, the Nobel for Art. Even though they are up for this particular challenge, they begin to have more than a few doubts when the Nobel for Peace, a.k.a. Stryker, makes them question what the scientists behind this odd program actually have in mind.
Evil, and the darkest of secrets, begin to rise to the surface as the Nobels work to learn more about this program that could help people live forever...in a way. But as they investigate further, and the action mounts, these kids start to see the saviors of science look a great deal like suspects in a crime of monumental proportions. With each page, readers hold their breath while the young ones battle to save their own memories, as the Mentors begin to invade.
This definitely has to become a series. Even though the end is fantastic, there is so much more you want to learn about the rest of the Nobels who are waiting somewhere in the minds of this debut writing duo. I, for one, am already on the edge of my seat waiting for this couple to bring on the next tale so I can, once again, escape into this fantastic world.
Quill says: Intriguing, well-written, action-packed, and enough teen angst to make YA readers excited!
For more information on Merged, please visit the authors' website at: jimandstephbooks.com

#BookReview - 9 Lively Cat Tales and Other Pet Poems

9 Lively Cat Tales and Other Pet Poems

By: Jeffry Glover
Publisher: Poems for Pleasure Press
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1948854009
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: September 2019
Poet Jeffry Glover provides middle-school-grade to adult ailurophiles with entertaining quadruped anecdotes in 9 Lively Cat Tales and Other Pet Poems.
Jeffry Glover has a hankering for catchy rhymes and all things whimsical in 9 Lively Cat Tales and Other Pet Poems. The one-time school librarian and English teacher now turned poet, as well as the winner of a Robert Frost Foundation national poetry award, very cleverly designed his debut according to the mythical feline “nine lives” by dividing his eighty-one poems into nine sections.
Glover covers more feline territory than tuna and mice as he relays verse after verse of realistic to ridiculous rhymes. Meet a leopard who lives in the land of Katmandu, learn the dreaded tale of an Egyptian goddess cat, and a three-page ballad based on an 18th-Century favorite. There are real pets, too, along with all the elements that make up a pampered cat’s life. While feline troubles abound in a couple of different sections, Glover makes sure to incorporate wild cats, such as the lynxes, lions, cheetahs, and a curious variety known as “a liger.” However, all is not lost to the cat realm as Glover closes with doggie and other pet tales.
A delightful lilting quality accompanies Glover’s mix of rhyming schemes that are set mainly to couplets, alternating rhymes, and ballads. Add to that, his ability to break up any chance of monotony by periodically completing sentences in following stanzas. While he admits to drawing inspiration from many sources, such as William Blake and Edward Lear, to name a few, this reviewer would like to add Ogden Nash to the list since Glover has a way of occasionally yet succinctly weaving in fabricated words as well as the element of surprise. A great example is his poem titled “Why the Lynx Isn’t Famous.”
The lynx is not a cat with fame
Due perhaps to its strange name,
And unlike lions with shorter mane,
All reasons fame it can’t obtain.
For felines like this we feel sorry,
Or should since it gets no glory.
Its sized may also be to blame,
From its perspective just a shame.
So what’s the lynx supposed to do?
These facts won’t change because they’re true.
Of course the lynx could simply lie,
But what’s the use? Why even try?
The lynx could mount its own campaign,
A PR effort aimed to gain
More public notice and attention.
How about a lynx convention
Complete with national TV speeches?
After all, the media reaches
Lots of folks who might react
Well to such a dark horse cat.
Alas, this likely will not happen.
The lynx is shy, too often nappin’
In the forest undercover,
Hard to search for or discover
Where it spends its daylight time
On the ground or when it’ll climb
Up a tree to take a nap,
Far too wild for a human lap,
When all it wants to do is snooze,
For humans simply has no use.
And that’s the problem with the lynx,
So far its reputation stynx.
Quill says: An enjoyable read from end to end, 9 Lively Cat Tales and other Pet Poemsopens readers to the fascinating world of felines.
For more information on 9 Lively Cat Tales and Other Pet Poems, please visit the author's website at: www.JeffryGlover.com