Thursday, March 30, 2023
#BookReview of The Raven's Cry: A Winter Mystery
#BookReview of Inassea Chronicles: The Blighted Flame by P.A. Pena
#BookReview - The Silver Coin (The Oaths of Dante, Book 1)
The Silver Coin (The Oaths of Dante, Book 1)
By: Mika Mathews
Publication Date: September 11, 2022
Reviewed by: Trix Lee-Rainwater
Review Date: March 29, 2023
In a war-torn world full of demigods, how does one low-born non-magical orphan shape his destiny? We follow Dante and his journey in The Silver Coin by Mika Mathews.
Fifty years ago, the gods descended down to earth and brought war with them, leading to the destruction of many countries and the decimation of the population. The gods won and, as it goes, multiple demigod bloodlines were conceived over the next decades. It was in this world ravaged by perpetual wars among the different god factions that fourteen-year-old Dante woke up in a hospital after his city became collateral damage in one of these civil wars. The wars had left him an orphan and now, his foster mother was also dead. All alone, he was then sent to New Olympus as a refugee.
As a voracious reader who is now working in the Inheritance Library, Dante has access to a multitude of books, including magic books. He knows that knowledge of magic is forbidden to those without divine bloodlines or an affiliation with the gods or their priests. He also knows he is not even allowed to touch these books. The risk is great but Dante has yearned for magic for so many years - and now this is one risk he is very willing to take. His desire to learn magic leads to him picking up a book from the magic section of the library and reading a passage on The Power of Choice and Magic. His resolve to be a sorcerer grows and he calls to the Goddess Hecate with a request to help him help the world. As the Goddess of Paths and Choices, Hecate listens. Dante then receives a small silver coin with the mark of Hecate and a condition that, in a month’s time, if Dante can prove that he’s able to feel and wield magic without Hecate’s aid, he can then be a Priest in Training under the goddess.
The Silver Coin by Mika Mathews is the first book in this mythic fiction series about how an ordinary person can achieve extraordinary deeds by shaping his own destiny. Dante was endearing and easy to like. The boy had been through a lot of struggles and came out of it stronger than ever. After he lost his mother to the war, his father and stepmother abused and discarded him and yet, when faced with the choice, he still chose to help them. It was a well-written scene that showed that Dante could feel anger and resentment but still choose to be altruistic toward his abuser for the sake of others. The story mentioned a lot of mythological gods which did not have any role in the plot but the ones that do have roles were written well. I especially liked the fresh perspective on Hecate. There was also a romantic subplot that I initially thought was a bit abrupt but, at the same time, I appreciated the fact that the writer did not let the romance take the focus away from the actual plot.
Quill says: This is a mythology-based fiction about an ordinary orphan with a heart of a healer and his benefactor Hecate, Goddess of Choice and Magic, as they find their paths and shape their destinies.
For more information on The Silver Coin (The Oaths of Dante Book 1), please visit the website: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/the-silver-coin
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
#BookReview of Drink Win and Be Beautiful: Short Stories
Monday, March 27, 2023
#BookReview of Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot by Regan W.H. Macaulay
Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot
By: Regan W.H. Macaulay
Illustrated by: Wei Lu
Publisher: Mirror Publishing
Publication Date: May 2022
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 24, 2023
What could have been a sad story about a misunderstood parrot, is instead an uplifting tale about a sweet parrot finding happiness with her "forever flock" in author Regan W.H. Macaulay's children's book, Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot.
Chloe is a beautiful red-masked parakeet. She's not a large bird and her new owner thought that her living requirements were minimal. A small cage set on a table near a decorative plant seemed like the perfect home for the little bird. The man who purchased her meant well, but he traveled a lot and had little time for Chloe. Like so many first-time parrot owners, he thought Chloe had everything she needed.
As time went on, Chloe grew bored and lonely. She had no toys to play with and more importantly, her owner was rarely home, so she had no one to interact with and entertain with her antics. Chloe started screaming and as her frustration grew, she began plucking out her own feathers. Soon, most of the little bird's feathers were gone. Fortunately, Chloe's owner recognized that his bird was unhappy so he contacted a parrot rescue. The Parrot Sanctuary agreed to take Chloe and find her a "forever flock."
The experts at the sanctuary allowed Chloe to settle in while they got to know her. They discovered that the red-masked parakeet was very sweet and liked to play with toys, but she could be loud and wasn't the best "snuggler." Her new owner would need to be experienced with bird ownership and accept this special bird just the way she was - almost featherless but full of love. Would Chloe ever find her special flock?
When I was offered Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot to review, I jumped at the chance. As the mom to five parrots, I know how much attention these little feathered love-bugs require. But I've never read a children's book about the challenges, and rewards, that come with parrot ownership. Author Regan W.H. Macaulay did a fantastic job of presenting the issues around parrot ownership in a sensitive and informative way. We never see the face of Chloe's original owner (he's always shown from the back), and there's no accusatory tone about his poor care of his pet parrot. He simply didn't know and when he realized there was a problem, he did the right thing and contacted a parrot rescue. We also meet several different birds at the sanctuary that are beautifully, and correctly, illustrated - children get a nice education on different parrots. If you're looking for a book for a bird-crazy child, or any child who loves animals and wants to learn more about them, I highly recommend Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot. And yes, Chloe does find her forever flock.
Quill says: Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot is an endearing tale that inspires and teaches young readers about the love parrots are capable of giving while also showing that they are not household decorations, but rather thinking, feeling creatures who deserve loving homes.
For more information on Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot, please visit the author's website at: www.reganwhmacaulay.com
#MeettheAuthor - Meet Author Kim Herman Shapiro
Friday, March 24, 2023
#AuthorInterview with N.R. Alexander, author of Go To Hell
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Risah Salazar is talking with N.R. Alexander, author of Go To Hell.
FQ: As a writer, what was your aim in writing this book? Did you want your readers to consider a different interpretation of Heaven and Hell?
ALEXANDER: A friend once told me that the coolest thing about me is the way I get other people to think. I want people to challenge their own beliefs and really test their boundaries. When you do that, you naturally become more creative. Heaven and Hell were obvious targets for this exercise because those concepts are so ingrained in our culture, yet we can’t definitively say what they are actually like. My aim was also to push other boundaries. What is funny? What is offensive? What is both?
FQ: I love the title of your book, Go To Hell. It's definitely an attention-getter. Were you ever worried that some potential readers might be put off by the title or were you planning on the opposite, that readers would be drawn to the book because of the title?
ALEXANDER: Worried is an understatement. Go To Hell was a working title as I wrote the book and I soon realized that it was the perfect name. But when it was time to publish, I spent a good week or two agonizing over it. I loved the title but also wondered if Amazon would ban it or if potential readers would be offended. I decided the answer to both questions was probably. But Go To Hell is the book’s identity! It would be the equivalent of taping a tail on my cat before guests come over. Sure, he’d look like a normal, run-of-the-mill cat. But that’s not who he is. He’s a tailless cat with a droopy butt and he’s proud of that! Go To Hell likely appeals to a niche audience and I want that to be clear from the beginning.
FQ: Why make the devil a woman? It was an interesting twist on a figure that has been portrayed through time as a man.
ALEXANDER: Women are so powerful. All of the best leaders and mentors in my life are/were women. Men are often in positions of power, but oftentimes they shouldn’t be. If the devil were a man, Hell would probably go bankrupt. Lucy challenges Alex (and readers) to look at Hell with an open mind and to see it with a competent, multifaceted ruler.
FQ: If you were Alex, would you have taken the deal? Would you do anything differently?
ALEXANDER: Oh hell no, I would not have made a deal with the devil. But that’s because I am boring. I’d have been like “What? The devil wants to make a deal with me? Sounds too complicated. I have to go home and walk my dog anyway.” I would have done everything possible to make sure nothing interesting happened. That’s why the book is about Alex, not me.
FQ: Speaking of Alex, did you pattern him after yourself? I read that you're also a marketing consultant, and your pen name, N.R. Alexander, is similar to the protagonist's name. How similar are you to Alex?
ALEXANDER: Was it that obvious? We do have similar career experiences and have dealt with some similar relationship struggles. Alex is probably some variant of me in the multiverse who split off in like 2015. Since then, he and I have made totally different decisions. We have different motives and passions. But even though we have a similar origin and both share a love of sweet potatoes, his name actually is not related to my pen name. I had made a list of 25 names for my main character. None of the others felt right. He is 100% an Alex.
FQ: There is a lot of humor in your book, and it kept the mood upbeat (as much as a story about Hell could be upbeat!) and the story moving. How hard was it to get that humor in there, and do you think without it, the story would have gotten too dark?
ALEXANDER: I’m glad you thought it was funny. I need validation often because I worry people just think I’m some kind of deranged weirdo. The humor was actually pretty easy to fit in. Sometimes, a funny concept would pop into my mind and simply knew that I had to get it into the book so I’d write a chapter or change part of the plot to help get the story there. It sounds like putting the cart before the horse, but isn’t it all about the cart anyway? The dark parts actually came easily too. Maybe too easily (see the ‘deranged weirdo’ comment above). I’m so glad the book has both though because if there was no humor, this story would have been a gruesome downer. I’m currently working on another story that is more serious so I’ll probably tone down the gore to make sure it doesn’t get too dark. Humor, darkness, gore, etc. are all just dials that have to be carefully calibrated. If you crank them all up all the time, the result is just a lot of noise.
FQ: If you could make your own version of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, how would they look?
ALEXANDER: I’d painstakingly map them all out in spreadsheets and flowcharts but here is the summary version:
1. Hell would be that party your friend dragged you to when you were in your twenties. You don’t know anybody there so you get really drunk and then you want to leave but your friend keeps saying “in a bit.” You never leave.
2. Heaven would be a cocktail reception where all of your extended family talks about the shows they’ve been watching. Oh my god, you haven’t seen Yellowstone yet?
3. Purgatory would be a hot and stuffy subway platform in New York City at 2AM. You’re dead tired but you can’t go to sleep yet. You look at the sign and it says “Next C train in 20 mins.” Then you look at it ten minutes later and it says “Next C train in 30 mins.”
...As you might guess, I don’t want to go to any of these places. I like being alive on Earth.
FQ: Given the statement on the front page of your website, "Waste time with social media," I take it you're not a fan of social media. Would you advise other authors to skip the madness that is being pushed (Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc.) and instead focus on writing?
ALEXANDER: This is a tough one. If I could get in with a trending Book Tok or Bookstagrammer, then it’d be different. Or maybe if I could just get that one post that goes viral...It’s unlikely so I do very minimal social media. I even have a timer on all of my apps to make sure I don’t get sucked in. If it takes me more than five minutes to post, my app locks down and I can’t get back in until the next day. This helps me make sure I spend time writing and working instead of scrolling. If I had to give advice, I’d say “know exactly what you want to do before you open Instagram/TikTok. Then do that thing and only that thing. Then do something else that is important in your life.”
FQ: Might we ever see a children's book about your paleontologist cat? Perhaps more sophisticated than the crayon version you once penned, but it sounds like it could be a fun book.
ALEXANDER: Oh boy, I think that ship has sailed. Writing a children’s book would be really fun but I’ve actually heard that it’s much more difficult than writing a book for adults. Also, when I was a kid, I got carried away with the illustrations. Crayons were certainly be a part of it, but I also used to tape chicken bones to the pages to make it a multisensory picture book! I just don’t think parents would appreciate that though.
FQ: Is there going to be a sequel to Go To Hell? The ending was a good start to what could be a whole new plot.
ALEXANDER: Absolutely. Get ready for some thrillers where Alex and Nat pursue hellishly gifted villains and solve paranormal mysteries. You might even see some stories that exist in the same universe but with totally different characters and of totally different genres. Aaaand, Alex might actually publish his book someday under his name...You can get all those juicy details from my website.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
#BookReview of Go To Hell by N.R. Alexander
Go To Hell
By: N.R. Alexander
Publisher: Pixel & Moogley
Publication Date: February 25, 2023
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Date: March 20, 2023
Alex Ometto’s dream is to be a successful writer. The problem is, he is not that great of a writer, but he is a fantastic marketing consultant - his day job. Though he is amazing at his day job, it does not really satisfy him, and leaves him feeling empty. As the days go by, he gets more and more frustrated. His girlfriend, Sara, would have been his best source of emotional support, as he does not have any close family members, but he cannot exactly remember when their conversations became strained and robotic. Plus, Sara is not particularly enticed by the stories Alex writes. It’s official - Alex’s life is completely falling apart.
One day, he receives a call from his best friend, Ernie, asking to meet. As if a blessing from the universe, Ernie eventually tells Alex that he has found the solution to everything, the key to life itself. But Ernie’s news is not philosophical or existential in nature. If it had been, Alex would have grabbed the opportunity as soon as Ernie dropped it on him. Ernie's news is completely unbelievable. As it turns out, Ernie has made a deal with the devil, and now he gets everything he wants - as simple as that. He even shows Alex some proof, but Alex is just too perplexed to accept it as truth.
Now, curiosity just won’t let Alex sleep. After some time, he traces his steps back to the tattoo parlor where Ernie confirmed the devil does her business. Wanting to “know” but not exactly “believe,” he finds himself a spot in purgatory in the afterlife. But this is not what Alex wanted; now he has to trade his soul for a spot in Hell. Actually, it’s more than a spot - he gets half ownership of Hell - if he can gather a million souls to sign up for Hell before Easter. This might be a good plot to write, but Alex does not need his writer's brain for this to work. He has to be the great marketing consultant one last time. With a special phone, a demon, another consultant, and a wrestler-turned-actor at his disposal, Alex has six months to complete this magic trick. But time slips through his fingers as he realizes this deal is not exactly what he thought it would be. Will Alex succeed and make it to Hell?
N.R. Alexander’s Go To Hell is a short but interesting read. It will take the reader to unexpected places, leaving them with confused emotions. It is fast-paced and alluring; it's too hard to put down. Though there are certain points in the plot that need justification, in general, it’s a good satirical comedy. And while the climax is questionable, the resolution is actually quite good and ties everything together.
Quill says: Go To Hell is funny and exhilarating, although the storyline could be improved for a more seamless reading experience.
For more information on Go To Hell, please visit the author's website at: www.nralexander.com/