Mia and Nattie: One Great Team!
By: Cam Lang
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: December 2020
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Date: February 25, 2021
On Canada’s 150th birthday, 91-year old Edward Mitchell, who is quite the celebrity on Niagara-on-the-Lake, is mysteriously killed. As the investigation begins, instead of finding answers, more questions arise as leads and revelations point to different people; it seems like everyone has a motive. As if his death is not enough of a mystery to solve, it is also a puzzle to figure out what happens now to his vast private property since he doesn’t have a next of kin. Or does he?
Detective Bryan Dee, the chief investigator (also an avid golfer), makes his move but the private property alone would take days, even weeks, to finish searching. He's annoyed he's losing time for his dear sport but he's got to do the work. Fortunately, his urban planner best bud Kris Gage is taking a vacation and visiting the town shortly. Since Kris is an expert with properties, Bryan initially asks for his advice. The next thing they know, Kris is also investigating the murder. But the deeper they go, the more and more people get involved. Is it the shady realtor and his son who did this? And just a few days after Edward's death, his best friend and executor of his will, Benedict Picton, goes missing. Looks like the cause of this whole fiasco points to the will, the beneficiary, and of course, the inheritance. The more secrets they uncover, the more Bryan realizes that he can’t trust anyone, not even Kris.
Cam Lang’s The Concrete Vineyard has the power to intrigue. A huge chunk of the book carries an intellectual tone but there are witty moments too. The book anchors on great world-building that strongly appeals to the senses. However, due to the complexity of the story, the main narrative gets sidetracked by subplots, character backgrounds, and the setting’s history.
At first, it’s not even obvious what the plot is about. It was mentioned at the very beginning that it will be Edward’s last day, but it takes a while to get to his death and the audience’s anticipation dies down waiting for that. Lang writes incredibly well and nothing ever gets predictable. However, as he pours his heart into writing, he gets carried away with details. Although the facts about Canada, wine, and grapes are interesting, as the story progresses, these facts tend to drag down the reading experience. As mentioned earlier, the main narrative gets sidetracked by these facts and more.
While The Concrete Vineyard does a good job in engaging the readers' minds with the main plot, it does have an issue with its voice. There is a constant shift from third to first person. It would have been better if the change happened per chapter. But no, sometimes, within the same chapter, there would be a sudden change in point of view. This makes the transition rough and confusing.
Quill says: In general, Cam Lang makes a good and compelling debut in The Concrete Vineyard. But looking closely, some details need to be more concise and consistent.
For more information on The Concrete Vineyard, please visit the author's website at: www.camlangauthor.com.
Looking for some great reads? Here are some additional selections - books that placed in our 2021 annual award program. See all the books at: https://featheredquill.com/feathered-quill-book-awards-2021-winners/
By: Sue Gilligan-Hannon
Illustrated by: Morgan Spicer
Publisher: Gilligan Publishing
Publication Date: December 2020
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 2021
Debut author Sue Gilligan-Hannon introduces readers to her two adorable goldendoodles, Sammie and Lulu, in her new book, Sammie and the New Baby, the first in a planned series of books that tackle topics common to young families.
Sammie is a very, very happy dog who just loves and adores her family. She gets to go on long walks with her daddy and go for car rides with her mommy where she can stick her head out of the window and enjoy all the great smells as they zoom along. And probably Sammie's favorite activity is eating. Eating from her doggie bowl, eating from the kitchen table, eating from...just plain ol'eating.
There are so many fun things Sammie does with her family like playing ball, taking a nap in the sun, and oh yes, did I mention she loves to eat? Life is good for Sammie - she loves her family and she knows they all love her.
One day, some strange things appear at the house - a baby gate, a new food bowl, a blanket, a ball...wait a minute, this doesn't look good to Sammie. The lovable goldendoodle is then dismayed to discover a new puppy in the house. How could her family get another dog? And what's worse is that her whole family seems completely charmed by Lulu, the new puppy.
Author Gilligan-Hannon has written a delightful story about welcoming a new baby into a family. Instead of showing the usual reactions of a young child to a new baby, the author tells her story through the eyes and thoughts of a dog. Children will easily get drawn into the story of Sammie, who suddenly feels that her family has forgotten about her once the new puppy arrives. The illustrator, Morgan Spicer, has done a fantastic job of creating two very cute dogs who help capture the imagination and will likely delight children. Kids will fall in love with Sammie and Lulu and come to understand that having a new baby doesn't mean that they will be forgotten by their family but instead realize that a new sibling can bring a whole lot of fun. And Sammie's discovery, at the end of the story, of the trouble, er...fun that he and Lulu can get into will give kids a giggle.
Quill says: Welcoming a new baby into the family can be a challenging and stressful time, but Sammie and Lulu are ready and eager to help ease the transition with their adorable new story, Sammie and the New Baby.
By: Robin Newman
Illustrated by: Susan Batori
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: March 2021
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 23, 2021
A bear's hibernation, and a woodpecker's need to peck wood, lead to an epic fight between woodland creatures that instead of escalating, ends in a delightful resolution among good friends.
Bear is getting ready for his annual ritual of hibernation. He tucks himself into bed with his teddy bear and falls asleep almost instantly. Unfortunately, Bear is a very light sleeper and almost any noise can wake him up. So he knits a sleeping cap and earmuffs and chops down several trees to make a good, solid front door. Now it should be quiet enough for him to sleep.
Nearby, Woodpecker is a master building of houses, from rustic ranches to solar-powered duplexes. To build his houses, Woodpecker has to peck holes in pine trees. But when Woodpecker notices that some of his houses have disappeared, he goes on a search to find out who, or what, was taking away his buildings.
When Woodpecker follows the trail of evidence right up to Bear's front door, he confronts his neighbor and asks about the missing houses. Bear doesn't appreciate being woken up from his deep sleep and calls Woodpecker a Featherbutt. Woodpecker's feeling are hurt but he doesn't back down and soon things escalate and the pretty bird calls Bear a Fuzzybutt. Eeek! Like Woodpecker, Bear's feelings are hurt. Will they be able to patch things up or will the name-calling continue?
Author Robin Newman has tackled an all-too-common issue that many kids are faced with on a daily basis. Name-calling can be hurtful and too often children who find themselves in such battles often don't know how to de-escalate. Through the eyes of Bear and Woodpecker, two cute animals who truly mean no harm to each other, readers will see that feelings can easily be hurt. As well, the author shows how the simple act of apologizing can do wonders to resolve such conflicts.
Quill says: A fun story that shows children how easily name-calling can escalate and what to do if such a fight develops.
Looking for some great reads? Check out these award-winning books that placed in our 2021 annual award program. See all the books at: https://featheredquill.com/feathered-quill-book-awards-2021-winners/
FQ: Can you detail some of the particular ways that your work in the field of Sexual Assault Nursing played into this story?
RIVERS: My understanding of and appreciation for the field of forensic nursing is probably the most obvious way that working in the field plays into my story. Despite not being a nurse, I completed Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training, observed and debriefed on cases, and prepped nurses to give expert testimony in court. I was involved in several multi-disciplinary teams that put me in direct contact with law enforcement and other professionals from a variety of jurisdictions. I was involved in community education and advocacy events, which gave me invaluable perspective on the impact of sexual violence for victims, their families, and entire communities. To say that these experiences simply affected me would be an understatement. I think it would be difficult to leave that field completely behind and I am grateful to have found a way to not only make sense of my own thoughts and feelings about these topics, but also to share some of my perspective with readers.
FQ: Which female writers, contemporary or classic, have served as inspiration for your mystery books?
RIVERS: I love to read Karin Slaughter and Lisa Gardner, who are both masters of this genre. They write a lot of trauma and interpersonal violence into their books so I get a pretty good education on how it’s done just by reading them. These are the women who I hope one day will read one of my books and think “YES!” I’m a huge fan of Isabel Allende who writes beautifully about women and familial relationships. I also adore Jane Austen’s knack for creating minor characters who are as fascinating as her leads. Really, there are too many to list. Women writers are amazing.
FQ: Kate and Tilly, two of your lead characters, have had many traumas to overcome; did you have a model for their often rancorous, but ultimately forgiving, relationship?
RIVERS: Since I’m constantly studying human behavior in relationships, especially when it comes to my family, the dynamic between my sister and I was where I looked first to make interactions between Kate and Tilly more authentic. That being said, neither character really resembles us. We’ve both certainly had our fair share of struggles, but nothing like what Kate and Tilly have gone through and continue to go through. On the other hand, my sister is my best friend and I wanted Kate and Tilly to find their way back to one another, probably because I find so much comfort in my relationship with my own sister.
FQ: How long did it take you to complete Complicit from the time you first envisioned it?
RIVERS: The general idea for Complicit has been stewing in my brain for years but from the time I started putting words down it took about a year and a half to finish. The initial writing process is pretty quick for me. I spend most of my time in revision, where I get rid of all the garbage and fine-tune what’s left. At publication, Complicit will have gone through about 10 full revisions, a developmental edit, a line edit, and proofreading.
FQ: Could you envision a feature length film based on this book?
RIVERS: I would love to see this story on screen. When I’m writing, I think about who I’d want to see playing my main characters. For Kate and Tilly, I’d love to see someone like Diane Guerrero or Adria Arjona. It’s probably not a coincidence that both of these women are activists and advocates in addition to being accomplished actresses. The subject-matter of Complicit is very dark and serious. I’d love to see it acted by people who can really showcase the depths of these themes, while bringing out the hope and resiliency that are also present.
FQ: Is writing now your full-time profession?
RIVERS: It is, yes. Of course, I also run a writing organization and I’m a mom, so I have responsibilities that sometimes supersede my writing time, but I’ve always worked best under pressure so the rigorousness of my juggling act suits me. I am very lucky to be able to pursue my dreams this way, and I owe a lot of thanks to my incredibly supportive family.
FQ: How has your role as Director of Northern Colorado Writers influenced your own writing style and aspirations?
RIVERS: The great thing about running NCW is having access to so many talented people. I’ve learned a lot about writing outside my comfort zone and I’ve come to appreciate how passionate and steadfast writers can be, even in the face of constant rejection. In terms of my personal time, I knew when I took over the organization that I’d have to make some changes to my personal writing goals and that’s actually been a blessing. I sometimes resist letting go of things, but writing full-time and running NCW has forced me to slow down, to get extra-organized, and to prioritize in a big way. All good things to practice.
FQ: What advice would you offer to other women who might wish to undertake works in the mystery novel genre?
RIVERS: There really is no limit to what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. The publishing industry can be a trying space to work and crime fiction can sometimes feel very male-dominated, but there are really wonderful, supportive organizations out there that will help you in your journey. Sisters-In-Crime is one of my favorites. My local chapter consists of wonderfully talented writers who span the genre from cozies to hard-boiled detective stories to thrillers. Finding a community is one of the most important things that I’ve done for myself as an author, and I really recommend it to anyone who wants to journey down this rabbit-hole.
Award certificates and award seals are being mailed out this week for all gold, silver, and bronze winners in the Feathered Quill Book Awards 2021. For finalists, we had a run on the seals and have had to re-order so there will be a bit of a delay before we can ship your certificates/award seals out to you.
By: Amy Rivers
Publisher: Compathy Press
Publication Date: April 2021
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: February 15, 2021
Award-winning author Amy Rivers creates and gradually untangles a complex story of hometown horror, family dysfunction, and the triumph of determination over decadence in the first book in her new Legacy of Silence series, Complicit.
Central character Kate Medina is a school counselor in her childhood home of Alamogordo. She talks to troubled teens at work, and cares for her father Frank, who is slowly dying of cancer, when at home. Her profession allows her to do some good, but there are girls who seem to need extra guidance, and refuse to take it when offered. And Kate has old traumas to deal with, having left her former, and highly desirable employment as a prison counselor after being the victim of a brutal attack. And there’s her younger sister Tilly, whose avoidance and sarcasm make Kate feel like the good sister, though, frustratingly, Frank always seems to side with Tilly.
When a teenaged girl goes missing, reviving Kate’s memories of a terrifying experience she had as a teen that has haunted her ever since – she and her pal (but not boyfriend) Roman discovered a charred body in a car, a mystery that was never completely solved. Now it seems, the two of them may have to collaborate, since Roman is a police detective and needs to mine Kate’s professional observations for any slightest clue to the missing girl’s background, mood states, and possible whereabouts. Together Kate and Roman will uncover a web of evildoers among the town’s elites, putting them both in jeopardy.
Rivers writes with skill and art, putting us squarely in the scene and inside the mind of her heroine. Kate is a strong woman trying to be stronger, overcoming harsh memories as she learns to empathize with other victimized females, many of them young and all systematically abused, right in her own, supposedly safe hometown. She must deal with conflicting feelings and with some scurrilous players who seem to hold all the cards. Even with Roman’s support, it’s a tough position to be in, made more so as the two find themselves becoming more than pals, but still reluctant to make a full commitment. This book is denoted as the first of the Legacy of Silence series, treating in this volume with the wide and often hidden activities of sex traffickers. Readers will hope that Kate and Roman will return again in partnership to battle crime and abuse wherever found.
Quill says: Amy Rivers has outdone herself with Complicit, a far-reaching, imminently relevant look at covert conspiracies and sisterly secrets in small town America. Her fans will be watching for the next in her Legacy of Silence series.
For more information on Complicit (A Legacy of Silence), please visit the author's website at: www.amyrivers.com.
7 Steps to Write a Great Book Description
Have you finished writing your book? Congratulations! You’ve done a great job! You are one step away from success. Now you need to write an outstanding book description to attract more readers.
Modern readers have unlimited access to millions of different books. And that explains why they’re getting pickier about what they read. If your book description is not enticing enough, the book lovers will likely skip your book.
If you want to get your book noticed, you need to use the following seven tips.
Think like a reader
The first thing you should do is to switch your mind from “author’s mode” to “reader’s mode.”
Imagine yourself as a reader. What is your background? What do you value in a book the most?
Once you put yourself in your readers’ shoes, you will get an idea of what you should write in your product description.
Let’s say you wrote a thriller book. Your target audience is female readers of the 25 to 34-year-old age category. What things should you emphasize in your book description to grab the attention of your readers? You can specify that the protagonist of your story is an attractive blond guy with beautiful blue eyes.
Do you think that it’s a “cheap” trick and it’s not worth using? Well, this trick is simple, but it always works. And if you want to engage your target audience, you should consider using this trick for marketing purposes.
Present your protagonist
Your book description must include information about your protagonist. That’s an obvious thing.
But do you know how to present the hero of your story the right way? Think about what your protagonist and your readers have in common. It can be anything from childhood memories and family problems to conflicts with bosses and attitudes toward social movements.
The key idea here is to describe your protagonist in a way it will resonate with your target audience on a deep emotional level. This psychological trick will allow you to hook random readers and convince them that your book is worth reading.
Create an intrigue
The next step you should take is to reveal some key aspects of the plot.
That’s the most challenging part of the book description writing. You need to present the most provoking ideas from the first chapters of your book to entice readers. But you should do it mindfully and carefully in order not to kill the intrigue.
Keep in mind that if you overdo this part and reveal too many details, book lovers will not want to buy your book. They will choose other books that have descriptions that drive curiosity.
Use emotional adjectives
You need to describe the content of your book using emotional adjectives. It will allow you to tap into your readers’ emotions and maximize your marketing efforts.
Here are a few examples of emotional adjectives for different books:
Create a few book descriptions
If you want to know whether your book description is good enough, find a way to test it.
Create two or three book descriptions and show them to your friends and family. Ask them to provide you with adequate feedback and to choose one description that they like the most.
If you don’t trust your friends’ opinion, you can consider other options. For instance, you can post your book descriptions on social media and ask your followers to vote for the best description. Or, you can visit websites and forums for book lovers and publish your descriptions for review there.
Set the right tone
It goes without saying that you should write a book description in the same way you wrote your book. You should use the same language and the same tone of voice. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate your unique writing style to the readers and make them want to buy your book.
Proofread your book description
Your book description must be perfect in terms of grammar. Otherwise, your book will make a bad first impression on your target audience, and that will result in a big failure.
Don’t forget to edit and proofread your book description before publishing it. Double-check every sentence and spell-check every word. If you find it challenging to spot your own typos, seek professional editing and proofreading help.
There is no limit to perfection
We can’t stress enough how important a great book description is.
A winning book description will turn your book into a bestseller. A poorly-written book description will ruin all your efforts.
If you have already written a description for your book but feel like it’s not good enough, don’t rush to publish it. Try to find a way to improve it and make it almost perfect. Your efforts will be rewarded in the long run.
Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger at GetGoodGrade, an aggregator for useful college resources and websites. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.