Friday, July 31, 2020

#BookReview - Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi series, Book 3)

Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi series, Book 3)

By: Michael Pronko
Publisher: Raked Gravel Press
Publication Date: June 2020
ASIN: B087QVRXZB
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: July 30, 2020

They’re back again! Author Michael Pronko and his protagonist, forensic accountant-detective Hiroshi Shimizu, returns with his comrades in yet another pulse-pounding, crime-solving thrill ride through the streets of Tokyo. 

The third novel of the Detective Hiroshi series, Tokyo Traffic, opens inside a warehouse converted into an adult film studio, where a young, strung-out and terrified young woman, Sukanya, is hiding amongst a mess of toppled-over equipment. She manages to control her shivering body long enough to go near the dead bodies lying on the floor, to take out cash from their wallets, and run off with an iPad and laptop. As if being shot with drugs and confronted with death isn’t horrible enough for anyone to live through, Sukanya is on the run in a completely foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t know where to go, and the few people she does know are nowhere to be found. A few things are certain, Sukanya needs to get her passport to safely get out of the country, and someone wants her, and the electronic equipment she escaped with, and they’ll do everything in their power to get it. 

Meanwhile detective Hiroshi is living with his girlfriend, Ayana, after rekindling their long-lost relationship (and mutual love of the Japanese martial art, Kendo) from when they were young. He finds himself in a constant turmoil between being pulled into odd, and long hours at work, and spending quality time with Ayana. In fact, a recent call from his boss Sakaguchi, requesting his immediate presence at a crime scene filled with dead bodies, interrupts the ending of their Kendo practice. But duty calls and detective Shimizu is compelled to answer, even if it could potentially ruin relationships...or his life. Once the crime scene was worked over, three bodies were identified as the film studio director, an unidentified teenage female, and the head bureaucrat at the Ministry of Finance. Upon further investigation, the detectives uncover more clues in the warehouse murders that lead them down a dark, complicated path involving a mix of human trafficking and the use of cryptocurrency as a means of funding pornographic projects. They also receive critical information that reveals the possibility of another girl who may have been a witness to the murders, and they must do their best to find her in the vast streets of Tokyo, before the killers do. 

Tokyo Traffic, like its two award-winning predecessors, is a solidly written novel that extends further past the simple “whodunit” mystery genre, and delves deep into a complex and thrilling exploration of strong, multi-layered characters and an equally compelling, gritty setting. The author's many years of experience in writing is evident; and combined with his personal experience and knowledge of the Japanese culture, the story propels readers right into a fast-paced thriller from the shocking opening scenes, moving into a vividly described middle that keeps readers at the edge of their seats, and swiftly slides right into a seriously electrifying finale. Pronko’s novel may be fiction, but the novel’s themes, specifically that of human trafficking, are real-life. By sensitively writing about these heavy subjects, he brings them into the forefront of readers’ minds, making this not only entertainment, but also food for thought. 

Quill says: Author Michael Pronko adroitly takes readers on another outstanding Detective Hiroshi thrill ride into the streets of Tokyo, this time presenting a murderous case involving human trafficking that you don’t want to miss. 

For more information on Tokyo Traffic (Detective Hiroshi series, Book 3), please visit the author's website at: www.michaelpronko.com

 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

#BookReview - Peter and the Whimper-Whineys Coloring Book

Peter and the Whimper-Whineys Coloring Book
By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Illustrated by: Kalpart
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication Date: June 2020
ISBN: 978-1-952269-68-4
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: July 2020
Prolific, and very successful, children’s book author Sherrill S. Cannon is at it again, with another fun and engaging adventure, but with a twist...this one isn’t just a great story, but also a coloring book.
Peter is a cute little rabbit, living in a house near the woods with his mother and sister. While he’s adorable, he does have a problem – he complains about everything. He whines, he gets grumpy, and he cries. Nothing seems to make him happy. At dinner that night, he complains about his sister having more soup, more jelly for her roll, and gosh darn it, it just wasn’t right.
Peter’s mother had already warned him that if he kept up his grumpy attitude, the “Whimper-Whineys” would come looking for him.
“If you can’t stop that whining, I very much fear
That the old Whimper-Whineys will look for you here.
You’ll go live with them in a land far away,
Where you’ll join them in whining and crying all day.”
The little rabbit didn’t listen to his mother and soon he was sent to his room to sulk and think about his poor attitude. Looking out the window, he wished he was in the woods beyond his home. Instantly, he was transported into the woods where he soon met...a Whimper-Whiney. Peter was about to learn just what being a whiner was all about from a group of woodland men who were nothing short of professional whiners. Would Peter learn that complaining about everything was not a good way to live one’s life?
Peter and the Whimper-Whineys is based on a story the author’s mother told her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. With the urging of her own children, Sherrill Cannon worked her magic to bring the story of Peter and the Whimper-Whineys to life in a very imaginative way. The story is lighthearted, and the author has mastered the very difficult technique of telling a story in rhyme without the text feeling forced – not an easy feat! While once again partnering with Kalpart for the illustrative work, the difference with this book is that the pictures aren’t colored, but rather simple line-drawings, leaving the coloring up to the child's imagination. The added coloring activity will likely spark more creative play around the concept of Whimper-Whineys and the negative impact of complaining all the time.
Quill says: Peter learns a big lesson in his adventure with the Whimper-Whineys, a lesson that he wants to share with others. It’s a lesson that your kids will love learning, while they color each page.
For more information on Peter and the Whimper Whineys Coloring Book, please visit the publisher's website at: sbprabooks.com.sherrillscannon

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

#BookReview - The President's Dossier

The President's Dossier
By: James A. Scott
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1608094134
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Date: July 21, 2020
Kicked out of the CIA after somehow being framed by his girlfriend, Claudia, Agent Max Geller is looking for a new job. It all started with Claudia initiating an email exchange expressing Max’s negative bias towards the president. He’s now putting his best foot forward to possible future employers, but after the news of him dissing the POTUS has circulated, no one wants him on their side.
Three weeks later, a lawyer named Bill Bowen approaches Max while he’s having a drink at a bar. To say that Bowen’s got a big offer for him is an understatement. What he wants is for Max to verify the content and the sources of the infamous Ironside Dossier, in exchange for ten million dollars. This dossier is a set of incriminating evidence against Ted Walldrum, the winning Republican candidate for the next US election.
Bowen seems like the real deal as he provides everything Max might need for this dangerous operation. Immediately after this strange encounter, Rodney, his former boss at the CIA, calls him. Lo and behold, Rodney’s business invitation is not far from Bowen’s. Why is everyone after him and the dossier? Not that he’s complaining -- he needs the money. With the help of his long-time trusted friends and a surprise assistant from Bowen named Jill Rucker, he travels to England, Russia, Panama, and Switzerland to finish the job.
James A. Scott’s The President’s Dossier is a thrilling and chilling spy fiction. It’s fast-paced, action-packed, and detail-oriented. The story is excruciatingly complex; it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s happening. There’s also an unsettling tension that leads to something bigger and scandalous. In the end, it’s a splendid thing to see how all these entanglements loosen up and satisfyingly play out.
The overall tone is serious and intellectual. Scott sure knows his craft and his unquestionable background becomes evident as he relays the story. There’s good representation and balance among the characters. This is not like most espionage thrillers where the stage is dominated by men. Here, there are bad-ass women too who are up for the job.
Quill says: The President’s Dossier tells a game of power, authority, and stealth that will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Monday, July 20, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Aksana Palevich

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Aksana Palevich, author of The Ten-Dollar Dream: Live and Love Your Own Dream.
FQ: What inspired you to write this book?
PALEVICH: The birth of my daughter. This life experience changed me and changed my view on many things such as what makes us happy, why we are hungry for success, and what our most important lifelong values are. Also, in my very active life, I met people from all over the world and some of them had a hard time believing that I’ve built a brand-new life from scratch in a foreign country. Telling bits and pieces about my story, I could see how people were getting energized, asked me more questions, and had an inspiring smile on their faces. It was a great feeling and I wanted to tell more. So, I started telling my story in a personal diary to my daughter, which later became The Book.
FQ: You mention raising your young daughter by yourself while juggling a career. What important message would you like to tell her when she grows up and begins her own career?
PALEVICH: The modern way of parenting is no longer focused on food, a warm bed, and a safe environment for our children. It is more than this. It is about investing a great proportion into kids’ development, which requires time. So, I would advise Maali to make room for that development but that would not mean necessarily mean stopping her career. I would tell her to never stop chasing her dreams even after having children and becoming a mom. Because humans can achieve a lot while doing many things in parallel. What I would warn her about though, is to listen to her inner wellbeing detector, which I hope she would develop in time. A detector that would tell her to stop and breathe when the balance of work and personal life deteriorates.
FQ: Setting goals, both small and complex, are one of many themes discussed in your book. What are some of your current goals?
PALEVICH: I have a few. Learning to play the piano is the biggest one, I guess. I almost achieved this when I was 10. But my parents could not afford a piano at home and I thought I would fail if I was unable to practice. Now is the time to fulfill this ambition. Also, I am planning to adjust my career, so I can work more with people – coaching, teaching or self-development. After a year of running a not for profit dance class for 6-7 year olds, I was offered a paid job, which I might consider as well.
FQ: In lesson five you say that a person can be impatient, but once they set their goals they won’t need to worry about being impatient because the drive to complete the goal will push them along. What do you suggest for people, especially for some teenagers, who are too impatient and scattered in their thoughts to even know where to begin setting goals for themselves - they just want to experience the end result? 
PALEVICH: Start small but start somewhere. Start with one very simple thing – something rooted into your daily routine – a task that a person is doing occasionally anyway. Important that this is an obvious part of the daily routine because it can easily be converted into a long term goal. For example, many people focus on their health and well-being and spend a fortune on diets, workouts, and healthy eating. It is all worth it. But such ambitions can easily be supported by nearby surroundings and nature. Instead of driving to work, use a bicycle (if short distances) or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pause the gym and introduce a family workout in the yard with your kids. Stick to one simple thing and just practice it regularly. It will become embedded everyday and you would stop thinking about it as an ambition by becoming a natural habit and a quick win.
FQ: After reading this story I would say you’ve had (and are continuing to have) a successful life. Is there anything you would have done differently if given a chance to do it over?
PALEVICH: No, I would not change anything. I tend not to look back to the past thinking of what I could have done differently. I look back to find what I can learn for my future. I cannot change the past, but I can surely change my future. I even forget past events quickly if they meant nothing to me. And even if I had a possibility to change the past, I would be able to change some things, while many other things would still remain tough and unpredictable. What is the point of changing something when you cannot change everything? 😊
FQ: What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning their writing career?
PALEVICH: Just start writing whatever thoughts and ideas pop into your head. With time there will be a clear indication if your work is progressing into a book. And when things will start getting serious, spend a lot of time researching about the life of a book – writing, coaching, line editing, publishing, distribution, marketing – the whole end 2 end process, so you know what to prepare for.
FQ: The titles of the chapters in your book reference cars and driving such as “The Gearshift” and “The Sightseeing.” Can you explain the reasoning behind your decision to organize your book in this manner?
PALEVICH: Driving a car is very similar to living a chapter of your life. With this I mean there will always be a start, a journey, a coffee break, and a final destination. That association tells me that we will always drive in some direction throughout our lives until we reach the final destination. And each ride will be unique, maybe exciting, but full of experiences. Also, the feeling of driving fast on the highway (when it's allowed) reminds me of how I can push my driving skills to the limit and challenge my fear, which is also very much related to the content of my book.
FQ: You present forty-seven lessons and one bonus lesson in The Ten-Dollar Dream. If you had to choose the most essential lesson of them all, which one would it be? 
PALEVICH: Lesson 32 because it is connected to my struggle from when I was so exhausted that I could not feel anything anymore. I could have stayed feeling like that forever if I didn't try to get up onto my feet again. It also reflects that even a strong and ambitious person like me can end-up in crisis, stressful and extremely life-threatening situations, when it is so easy to say, “I cannot function anymore”. In such hard times we all can get up and we all can find the strength to carry on. The power of humans to survive any challenge in life is amazing and I wish that power for everyone.
FQ: Do you have any future writing endeavors?
PALEVICH: Yes. I would love to write a book about the future of mankind. We all know that in times of technology and digital solutions, human jobs will be (and are already being) replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. Finding out about how the future could change and how we as humans can remain humans is a very interesting topic which I am keen to research. 😊


Sunday, July 19, 2020

#BookReview - Otis P. Oliver Protests

Otis P. Oliver Protests

By: Keri Clairborne Boyle
Illustrated by: Daniel Duncan
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-1534110434
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: July 18, 2020
Well just imagine a little boy, doing little boy things all day long...digging in the dirt, playing with worms and his dog...Now imagine he hates baths! The odors almost float off the pages of Otis P. Oliver Protests and make you want to plug your nose!
Young Otis is the star of this compromising (in more ways than one!) children’s book, who simply decides he is done taking baths. As the youngest of four children, with three older sisters, you might guess his opinion isn’t favored and his decision is not taken lightly. The dog only gets one bath a month, so why should Otis need four a week? He decides to rally up the neighborhood kids and demand his voice be heard.
“The only thing we have to fear is soap itself,” becomes his platform and the kids march the streets in peaceful protest of bath-time everywhere, signs and all, saying “Join the anti-tub club” and “Occupy dirt!” While this silly story will elicit plenty of giggles, it has an important message to convey as well. There is power in numbers, an art to compromise and reasonable negotiations can help you achieve your goals.
Daniel Duncan does a wonderful job of creating unique and memorable characters for this stinky story. The facial expressions of each one, including the family dog are amusingly accurate.
Quill says: Otis P. Oliver Protests teaches you to stand up for what you believe in, even if that’s a dirty job!

#BookReview - Daddy Loves You!

Daddy Loves You!
By: Helen Foster James
Illustrated by: Petra Brown
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: March 2020
ISBN: 978-1534110595
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: July 19, 2020
Such a delightful little story, perfect for a bedtime read from Daddy...It will warm the heart, while emphasizing the special bond between a father and his child. 
This adorable children’s book, by experienced children’s author Helen Foster James, is written in rhyming verse, taking a trip through an adventurous and special day, spent with the affectionate Daddy bunny and his cuddly little baby bunny. The big, bold words are perfect for little eyes to start following and even reading along, as they get older.
Daddy and baby bunny share a special relationship as they set out for a fun-filled day of playing, exploring, hopping and swinging, ending with a warm and fuzzy bedtime cuddle. Daddy bunny explains how his love is endless and how he’ll be his baby’s teacher and protector, his whole life through, “You’ll be a superhero...especially to me.” Daddy helps build confidence and assurance that his baby bunny is loved. 
Illustrator Petra Brown uses the softest colors, you can almost feel the warmth and sunshine radiating off the pages! The book even includes a space at the end for Daddy to write an endearing note to his child and to include a photo of them together.
Quill says: Daddy Loves You is ideal for a bedtime story or anytime Daddy wants to share some one-on-one special time with his son or daughter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

#BookReview - When Life Was Like a Cucumber

When Life Was like a Cucumber

By: Greg Wyss
Publisher: Page Publishing
Publication Date: February 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64462-166-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 2020
This review has to begin this way because, quite frankly, people who were born after the psychedelic decade that was the 60’s are really going to be mad at their parents after reading this book. Tis’ true, readers. I had the 80’s to grow up in. You know...Reagan, heavy metal, hair bands, and that silly New Coke—a brand trying to take a classic and make it better just to have it bomb with consumers. In other words, boring. After reading this stellar book, all I wanted was a time machine to go back and be born again so I could call ‘The Sixties’ my home. 
We begin here with author Greg Wyss at a point when the calendar reads 1972. Jeffrey Hesse is a character who will appeal to all. He has just gotten a divorce from his wife Jane – who has quite the energy and anger within – and is about to go on a mission. He wants to take one of those journeys to explore his life, his choices, and go on a “trip” of both mind and body. (Enter the acid.) 
Through Jeffrey’s eyes, readers like me—who only learn about events that plagued The Sixties during a history class—are able to frolic in the colorful culture of the United States, fear the war in Vietnam, see the violence-charged protests on the streets (which, unfortunately, have not been erased in the 21st Century), and so much more. Everything comes alive in this tale, and no illicit substance is needed for the reader to have a ball.
This is a character who jumps into some pretty bizarre situations; a great many of them will make you laugh, and with those laughs you’ll learn the lesson there is to be learned. But this is never preachy. This young man is a whole lot of fun as his travels take him from Massachusetts to Florida to a plane ride where Jesus sits beside him all the way to Luxembourg – a part of the book that will keep you absolutely memorized!
From America to Europe, this great man “finds himself” once again as life changes all around him. We head to Switzerland where he spends time learning about his ancestral home in Amsterdam. We tag along with him to the island of Crete during the summertime, where he meets up with a Renaissance man – and does all this with the help of Isadora Duncan who wears her very own halo, so to speak. Just by reading and laughing at his thoughts and words, which are extremely clever, the author creates such a vivid picture of this decade that I almost feel like I didn’t miss out on anything; like I was really there during the Woodstock years.
Greg Wyss has, hands down, created an engrossing, intriguing tale so detailed and, for lack of a better word, beautiful, that it almost rivals the art of Michelangelo, himself.
Quill says: No matter if you are a flower child or not, you will love this charming “trip”!
For more information on When Life Was like a Cucumber, please visit the author's website at: www.gregwyss.com

#BookReview - Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation

By: Marilea Rabasa
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: June 2020
ISBN: 978-1-63152-898-9
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Date: July 15, 2020
Marilea C. Rabasa shares her personal journey of addiction, loss and transformation in her memoir, Stepping Stones.
The carefully kept secrets, stored in the equally hidden baggage from the past are the perfect formula for an eventual awakening. Marilea Rabasa spent her adolescence growing up in post WWII Massachusetts. Her family was the dream of comfort and normalcy in what was once recognized as middle class. She had opportunities afforded her and willingly accepted them. However, certain secrets were to remain protected and that nuance and existence of generational alcoholism must be carefully closeted and confined to familial knowledge only.
Her long and arduous journey toward healing and clarity begins when Marilea’s mother passes. This is not to say it was a relief she lost her mother. Rather, it is a time for her to begin the process of reflection and understanding of her past that reaches back to a childhood filled with unhappiness. Marilea strategically breaks down her life through a series of personal acknowledgement of what transpired, how her conflicts evolved and an awakening of sorts toward embracing what a balanced life could be. She methodically breaks her story down into three distinct milestones: recognition, navigating through the hurt and breaking down the many walls and roadblocks that had been constructed through years of not so much denial, but pain to push through. Only then could the euphoria of hope be seen on her horizon. 
I applaud Marilea with her strength and fortitude to have the courage to take inventory of all that was wrong in her life and learn to heal from it. There is a sublime tone and nuance throughout this read that suggests often the pain certainly outweighed the comfort. Yet, through descriptive passages her willingness and desire to heal resonates throughout. She is graphic with the strained relationship she had with her mother growing up. It is when the uncanny similarities presented again when she became a mother to her daughter, she realized change happens when one commits to change. She was quite prolific in describing the relationship and how uncanny it was that ‘history was repeating itself’. There is a poignant moment in her chapter titled ‘Crossroads’ where she states: ‘It’s hard to see which of the many turning points in my life was the most important. I usually avoided the more difficult paths. Many times, I made choices that were easy: the pill to feel better, the food in my mouth, the isolation that dwarfed and limited me, the subservience to my husband. But the juncture that changed my life forever occurred during the three years we were living in Greece...’ Marilea had many demons to address and overcome, but the aforementioned passage is literally at the halfway mark in the book which makes it the pinnacle and turning point to the entire memoir. I applaud Marilea Rabasa for delivering such a profound and real experience of her life and its challenges and, in the end, the victory of recognizing the sorrows, some joys and ultimately arriving in a place where she has gifted herself with true peace and tranquility. Bravo Ms. Rabasa. Excellent read!
Quill says: Stepping Stones is a memoir that depicts the essence of its title throughout the entire read in that life, after all, truly is a series of ‘steppingstones.’

#BookReview - Dead Silence


Dead Silence
By: Robin Caroll
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication: June 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64352-331-6
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 2020
Dead Silence has a dash of politics, a sprinkle of who done it and a whole lot of adventure making it a must-read this summer.
Elise Carmichael is a widow and mom to a young son who is deaf. She is an attorney and works for the court system as a sign language interpreter and happens to be darn good at what she does. Perhaps she’s a little too good. As Elise wraps matters up at the courthouse one day, she happens to glance at the two men off to the side. One is talking on his phone and after her brain registers what his moving lips are saying, she cannot believe what she has witnessed. It would seem the stranger on the telephone is discussing an attempt on the life of her mother-in-law, Lillian York. However, Lillian is far more than Elise’s mother-in-law. She also happens to be an Arkansas State Senator. As unsettling as what Elise witnessed, the matter will have to wait given the disturbing phone call she receives seconds later.
Elise absently files the phone incident concerning her mother-in-law after receiving the call from Hallie, her son Sawyer’s caregiver. Sawyer took a fall while at the park with Hallie and they are on the way to the hospital. It’s normal for little boys to fall and get cuts and bruises, but Elise is distraught. Sawyer isn’t like most little boys. He was born deaf and her fear that he may have sustained a head injury or even worse, has Elise completely off her rails. Fortunately, Sawyer’s injuries aren’t catastrophic, but they will present a challenge. He has broken his wrist and will be in a cast for a while which will force some creative signing measures. By the time mother and son get home later that evening, all Elise can think about is getting Sawyer settled before she does the same. The next day is brighter and Elise is ready to take it on. She flips on the tv, turns up the volume and continues to her walk-in closet to get ready for the day ahead. Just as she finishes getting ready for work, breaking news stops Elise in her tracks. The memory of what she witnessed the day before comes flooding back to her. The tragic death of her mother-in-law is announced, and Elise will soon learn that this is just a sneak preview of the devastation and danger headed her way.
While I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of Ms. Caroll’s previous books, Dead Silence was a great introduction for me. There is a distinct "must" when writing a murder mystery. In order to engage with your audience, a body must be delivered and the earlier, the better. Not only did Ms. Caroll provide the necessary body, but she continuously ramps the story page upon page thereafter. There are ample twists, turns, surprises and aha moments in this book to maintain a constant connection. The dialogue is believable. The character development has depth and the story line has a great flow from beginning to end. The element of suspense and seeds of doubt Ms. Caroll plants throughout are wonderful. One might think he/she knows what’s coming next, but Ms. Caroll is prepared with yet another ‘gotcha’ at precisely the right time. 
Quill says: Dead Silence is a fast-paced, thrilling adventure of who done it from beginning to end.

Friday, July 10, 2020

#BookReview - The Ten-Dollar Dream

The Ten-Dollar Dream: Live and Love Your Own Dream
By: Aksana Palevich
Publisher: Dansk bogfortegnelse - DBC
Publication: May 2020
ASIN: B0888JZGFW
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: July 9, 2020
Debut author Aksana Palevich presents The Ten-Dollar Dream, a book that is part autobiography and part inspirational self-help. Organized in forty-seven lessons and one bonus “eternal lesson,” the author takes readers on a figurative drive through her life. We follow Palevich as she grows up in former communist Belarus, and then moves to Denmark at the age of twenty-three with a mere ten dollars to her name. She may have had just ten dollars, but she had a mind filled with lifelong dreams and aspirations to better her life. Along the way Palevich tells her personal story of dreaming big, setting goals and most importantly accomplishing what she set out to do by sticking through rough times and continuing to challenge herself to be the best she can be.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of the numerous lessons covered in The Ten-Dollar Dream, some of the noteworthy points are as follows:
Dream big, set goals and stick to them
Believe in yourself, and hold on even in the toughest situations 
Educate yourself and view all employment as an opportunity to learn 
Stressful situations are unavoidable, but don’t overreact to them. 
Seize opportunities, don’t wait for them to be handed to you or fall from the sky
It’s okay to experience sorrow 
The Ten-Dollar Dream is undoubtedly an uplifting story of the author’s perseverance and dedication in her pursuit of a happy and fulfilled life, with lessons sprinkled throughout the chapters. Coming from a world of communism in Belarus where everyone is equal and told what to do, Palevich took a huge risk at a young age by moving to a foreign country both in language and in political ideologies. Readers will both enjoy and be inspired by the author’s stories of her struggles and achievements, while learning pertinent skills to achieve their own success. However, with forty-seven lessons, some about setting goals and employment pursuits, while others are about family, parenting and first love, readers may be somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of information squeezed into one book. Lessons also tend to be a bit wordy and are scattered throughout the book, not appearing in any specific order, which may add to a reader’s confusion. Fortunately, a list of abbreviated lessons are included at the end of the book, which is quite helpful, especially if you’re planning on frequently referring to it. But with that said, readers should take time to explore the personal story of one woman’s life and learn from her experiences and the most essential element - you can take many roads to accomplish your dreams and goals, but first and foremost, believe in yourself; you have the power to never give up, even during the most difficult times.
Quill says: Make it one of your goals today to read The Ten-Dollar Dream, a real-life story of successful perseverance and a motivational guide for everyone, all combined into one inspiring book.
For more information on The Ten-Dollar Dream: Live and Love Your Own Dream, please visit the Facebook page: facebook.com/The-Ten-Dollar-Dream or the Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/the-ten-dollar-dream

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Mushtaq Jaafri

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Mushtaq Jaafri, author of My Ego, My Soul, My God: Correcting the Perception of Separation from God.
FQ: When it comes to the current education system, can you offer information about your idea (and how it first came to you) in regards to how we could actually reduce time spent earning “book knowledge” by acquiring “spiritual knowledge”?
JAAFRI: Amy, this is a wonderful question and goes right back into the root cause of our problem of why our current educational system is failing us and how we could actually reduce time spent in our contemporary schools on the acquisition of “book-knowledge” only acquired through outside of us and not acquired through inside of us. 
I believe that you are talking about what I say on page 174 of this book about our new educational system that can reduce the time spent in schools to less than half simply by incorporating the “Triple-tiered” way of thinking. The ego in a specific “job,” the mind being an enemy and Soul is a divine part of God - and who we really are in reality.
FQ: You’ve written other titles in the past, such as, “How to Maintain the Presence of God in This Hectic World.” With all the darkness at this time, from riots to a pandemic, what are your ideas on how humanity can rise above this pain and create a better world?
JAAFRI: Amy, I believe that you have already given the best ideas in your book review on how humanity can rise above this pain and create a better world. Here is what you say: “Surrender your ego to God and live as your own wonderful Soul. Understand that nothing should separate us as a people. We are humans and each one of us makes up humanity.”
FQ: It is stated that you discovered this process of emotional and spiritual growth that this book describes over 40 years ago. Can you explain to readers what brought about this understanding? In addition, is that moment the point where you decided to become a Reverend/Doctor in order to help others?
JAAFRI: Amy, you have asked a question that is very dear to my own heart. Forty plus years ago, due to failure in a business venture in the Middle East I lost everything that was precious to me: my home, my belongings and my business. 
Down on my luck and no place to go to I began to wander around searching for myself and some answers that would make my own life bearable. I spent much time in local parks and in public library because they were warm and free.
Then, in the hour of my greatest distress, I discover my own-self, the God-self that revealed my life purpose. I earned my Doctoral Degree in Metaphysic and was guided to a Spiritual Master and received my ordained as minister and became an initiate to order to help others.
FQ: Have you returned to Pakistan since becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and acquired your education? Do you teach there and in the U.S.; or, perhaps, give conferences or hold meetings to share your beliefs with others?
JAAFRI: Yes, I did go to Pakistan after I acquired my education and got married. I believe that the teaching is more suitable for Western people because they are more open to new age thinking such as I share in my new book. For many years I gave seminars and lectures on Soul Awareness Seminars in my local community.
FQ: Earning a Master’s in Communication must be a difficult task. Is this particular choice something that truly helps you in your writing and with your clients? In addition, are you one who wishes that face-to-face communication would once again become predominant in this age of social media and technology?
JAAFRI: My Master’s in Communication was more toward Television Station Operations and was fun and entertaining. It was an easy task. Most of my writing came from inside through inspiration hunches and guidance that came from within.
FQ: How difficult is it to change a human’s way of thinking; or alter their perception that they learned from a very young age in order for them to live happier lives? Is there any time when you look at the headlines and feel that it is an impossible task?
JAAFRI: Amy, this is another excellent question you just asked. We can spend our time in spiritual pursuits instead of just reacting to the material world. Our ego does its best to keep you stuck in this world. We only turn to spiritually after an adversity, or illness or death of a loved one or failure in business. How sad it is.
FQ: Do you believe the political realm could be ‘cleaned up’ or balanced in a way that would stop having adverse effects on humanity?
JAAFRI: I do believe as long as the Ego is in charge of the political realm it will stay imbalance and continue to have adverse effects on humanity. Who do you think started this Corona Virus? 
After the election is over, there would be no fights between the egos of the world and everything will be balanced. Egos know that their time is up now. 
FQ: If you could change one thing on this earth right now, what would it be and why?
JAAFRI: Amy, I believe that you have answered this question most eloquently in your book review already. Here is what you say:
“In these times that we are living, it is especially important to understand that nothing should separate us as a people. We are human and each one of us makes humanity.”
If I could change one thing on earth right now, it would be to somehow vanish the Corona virus pandemic—and the reason why is that I believe that God had nothing to do with it. 
As I mentioned in the book, that God had nothing to do with it. I believe that it was initiated by the world’ egos—to discredit the existence of God on earth by blaming God for starting it to punish us for some things we did to disobey Him.
Sure, we have advanced enormously technologically, but as race we are doing the same destructive things that were reported in the Bible thousands of years ago. Our thinking that we have all the time in the world prevents us from maturing.
Finally, I believe that the most profound Book Review is God-sent message to me that my own 40+ years of writing about His messages, wasn’t waste of time but to fulfill my own spiritual promise here on earth, for which I thank you.
So, in a way, you were doing the work God created you to do here on earth. God says: that it take one to know one. You certainly proved it. Perhaps, it time for humanity find a different way of looking at spirituality. 
Perhaps, we will now know why our contemporary educational system in world is failing us. Perhaps, our primary focus of our educational system on earth will not be the acquisition of knowledge from books—instead from inner knowledge within us—and is free!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

#BookReview - My Ego, My Soul, My God

My Ego, My Soul, My God: Correcting the Perception of Separation from God
By: Rev. Dr. Mushtaq Jaafri
Publisher: Mushtaq Publishing Company
Publication Date: May 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9845-7761-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 6, 2020
There are so many passages and lessons in this book that hit you like a brick, sometimes it becomes almost difficult to move on to the next chapter. This is not a negative; this is a purely positive statement. This is one author who knows how to make a point that you actually want to think about and mull over before moving on to the next chapter of wisdom he presents. 
A great many people (myself, included) hear the word “ego” and automatically view it as a bad thing. Egotistical, simply put, is defined as being “extremely conceited,” which is a description that doesn’t exactly bring warmth to one’s heart. But this book actually shows the ego in a specific “job” and how it works within this author’s triple-tiered way of thinking. He teaches a plan that allows you to make sense of your life and better understand the paths you’ve taken; how you can surrender your ego to God; and how to live as your own wonderful soul. Is there a way to even find a balance of happiness, true love, and safety and security in your own skin and the world, itself? The answer is: yes. But only if you read and really think about this book and what it teaches. 
This is aimed at no specific religion, either. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, this author helps you make sense of the fact that the messages from God reach everyone – and they’re supposed to. In these times that we’re living in, it’s especially important to understand that nothing should separate us as a people. We are humans and each one of us makes up humanity. And this book not only makes sense, but the author is quite personal about his own life lessons and messages received that will allow all of us to get the facts and learn how to face conflict and struggle and overcome it in order to live a better, safer, happier life.
There are too many chapters and poignant ideas to talk about when it comes to this material, so I will mention just a couple. In one, we discuss the story of the serpent and how it lets Satan (AKA: ‘Ego’) into the Garden of Eden. This subject allows us to analyze, appreciate and grasp the story of Adam and Eve and how it applies to free will, God’s love, and our own decisions. Another section that strikes home is learning how to face the enemy inside of you and talks about how stubbornness can be transformed into sheer determination to ascend to happiness instead of descending into the depths of anger and depression. 
This is one of those very few inspirational books where the term “the truth can set you free” really applies. So, it is my suggestion that no matter what you may believe (whether you’re religious or not), you should read this book. Not only will you receive facts, but you’ll come away with the ability to not judge and/or chastise yourself and others. Anything is confusing until we know more about it, and this presentation is a true education that everyone should have.
Quill says: An entertaining, truthful book that allows all of us to better comprehend life. 
For more information on My Ego, My Soul, My God: Correcting the Perception of Separation from God, please visit the author's website at: www.godconnectionstory.com

Monday, July 6, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Ruth Finnegan

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Ruth Finnegan, author of Voyage of Pearl of the Seas
FQ: What do you hope children, or readers of all ages, will learn from reading your book?
FINNEGAN: To love dogs and friends, and adventure beyond what you dare, and that God has many ways, many names (and no name too - he just is there).
FQ: I noticed that you have a few creative writing publications under the pseudonym Catherine Farrar (as well as pseudonyms in other genres). What made you decide to write under a different name?
FINNEGAN: Well you’ll maybe find it hard to believe but the truth is that when I was first somehow induced to write fiction, I felt that ‘Ruth Finnegan’ was associated with academic stuff so that it might be misleading if I kept to the same name. But more important - this is the strange but true - that I in some way had inherited the responsibility to dream of a little Catherine, my mother’s sister (but somehow my sister too, very close) who, before she was seven, died of scarlet fever (it wouldn’t happen now, would it). She was too young to have dreams, if rather too young to tell them or to write them down. So I knew I had to do them for her. Her name, ‘Catherine, has been a constant, even magical, one,through generations of my maternal life (hence the Kate in my stories) and Farrar was her mother’s maiden name.
So in another way I feel I was also writing for my family.
Now that her stories (stories, not full length novels) are out in the world I want to resume my own person, as a, by now, both fiction and nonfiction writer, why not!
FQ: I really enjoyed the illustrations designed by Rachel Backshall sprinkled throughout the book, especially the one in chapter ten depicting various animals in a large tree. I’m always impressed by great illustrators who can enhance a story’s plot with their designs. As an author, do you find it difficult to align your thoughts and writings with the perfect artist?
FINNEGAN: Luck! Like so many things it just happened. I met Rachel, then a final year undergraduate, at a Somerville College jamboree in Oxford, and we just clicked. Like me she studied classics and loves animals (as you noticed) and, again like me, adores her family, so we’re always on the same wavelength. We’re working on a magical Kate-Pearl series (of which this book is one), maybe as they come out we’ll send you them for reviewing. Here they are: Oh Kate!, a board book (coming soon), The Magic Adventure: Kris and Kate build a boat, a picture book (already published),  Kris and Kate's Next Adventure: The Magic Pearl-Maran, a picture story book, The Enchanted Pearl-Away, a chapter book, Pearl of the Seas, a fairytale prequel to The Black Inked Pearl ( published), (later books in the series, starting with Black Inked Pearl don’t have illustrations, they’re just words - well to my mind SOUNDS: audio versions of them could be coming soon)
FQ: You have had quite an extensive writing career. Do you enjoy writing fiction or nonfiction, and which of your books is your favorite?
FINNEGAN: Um, usually whichever is the most recent. I’m so surprised that after a lifetime of writing nonfiction books (continuing) I seem to have tumbled into creative writing, and I love it, so in a way all if that - still a surprise to me, awesome - is my favorite. I do so love learning new things (don’t you?) to build on the old... So yes, whatever I’m doing this minute (just now it’s a retelling with a deeper message of the mythic incredible story of Orpheus and his lyre. Most tragic ever, and yet, and yet...I can’t decide if it’s a novel or a screenplay, which I suppose means it’s going to be both).
Like the other fiction, it begins with dreams...Otherwise, not sure.
No, I do know: Of non fiction The Hidden Musicians because it’s about real people and about music, greatest of the human arts, and has inspired others to SEE, and do similar research on, the music being created all around them; but even more Why Do We Quote? because it brings together all my interests and skills and is at first sight such an unlikely but, in the end, deep and pervading subject. 
Fiction? Again not sure but probably The Helix Pearl, a companion to the other novels, Voyage of Pearl of the Seas (this one); and The Black Inked Pearl. It’s in the same kind of literary, allusive style, was equally born in dreams, and tells essentially the same mythic tale but this time from the perspective of ‘the wine dark [Homer’s epithet] garrulous sea’ - a new light on the story which was a surprise to me too. If you enjoyed Voyage of Pearl of the Seas, you’ll like that one too.
FQ: Why did you decide to write a prequel to your original novel, Black Inked Pearl, but mainly write it for a younger audience?
FINNEGAN: It wasn’t really planned. Like my other fiction the story and the words it was clothed in just ‘arrived,’ and at the time I was thinking of young adults, maybe encouraged by my teenage grandchildren who - it’s the greatest honour - sometimes share their reading with me.
FQ: I see that you've been interviewed many times. What is the one thing you wish someone would ask you, or something you're just dying to tell readers, and have never had a chance to?
FINNEGAN: First - Why on earth did I put the Notes at the end (several reviewers say they’d have liked them at the start)? Because though one of the books aims, as you detected, was to bring readers, specially young readers, into some awareness of the great riches of literature, I wanted this to be subtle, emerging, NOT up front. The last thing I wanted was for it to seem a text-book kind of thing.
And - am I allowed a second question? If yes: When will it be made into a film?! It would be super, Narnia-like. Oh when when when - you tell me. I need a magic offer for the script - already there - to turn this enchanted log lying in the sand into a boat that sails the world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

#BookReview - Oliver Doodle Dandy

Oliver Doodle Dandy
By: Todd M. Zimmermann
Illustrated by: Kyle Hernandez
Publisher: Oliver and Friends, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-0986341663
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: July 2020
The Fourth of July is just around the corner and Mom and Dad are busy getting the red, white, and blue decorations out. Henry and Holly, however, just don't seem interested. They'd rather play on their "devices." Will they be able to get into the spirit of the holiday?
When Mom asks the kids to go to the attic to get the flags they need for decorating, Henry and Holly don't immediately jump into action. Instead, they want a few more minutes to play. Meanwhile, up in the attic, Oliver and the other ornaments are preparing a celebration of their own. By the time Henry and Holly make their way to the attic, the ornaments are already marching and playing patriotic music. Both kids are mesmerized by the festivities. 
When Oliver, the ornament at the center of the story, is asked by Holly why they are making such a big deal out of the Fourth of July, it's time for Oliver to jump into action with a little history lesson. Oliver tells the kids about some of America's great leaders, famous people who made a difference, and describes some of the amazing beauty of the country. Will Oliver's little history lesson be enough to get the kids excited about the Fourth of July?
It's nice to read a book about patriotism aimed at children during these trying times. When it seems like every other news story is about problems with our country, it's important, especially for children, to be reminded of what a truly remarkable place the United States is and that the American Dream is still possible. At the end of the book are the lyrics to eight popular patriotic songs as well as a two-page spread where the reader is encouraged to write down "What I Love About America." The illustrations are bright, and yes, use red, white, and blue as a frequent color scheme throughout. While the story is a bit long, and younger children may lose interest, the points the book makes are important. Many of the historical events the ornaments describe each get a very brief mention (many just a short sentence) and while that works for some events, several will be hard for any child to understand ('"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," Oliver concluded with the words of Ronald Reagan.'). In addition, a few presidents are referenced just by their initials (FDR, JFK) which means either parents will have some explaining to do, or children will need to do their own research for a better understanding. In contrast, other important elements, such as religious freedom, get just the right amount of text to allow young readers to grasp the meaning. Overall, this is a nice book that will introduce children to the remarkable freedoms and opportunities our country has to offer and would be a good starting point for curious children to begin a project researching the history of the United States.
Quill says: While the book has some minor flaws, Oliver Doodle Dandy is a good story to introduce children to what an amazing country the United States of America truly is, and the fantastic opportunities it has to offer everyone