Friday, December 1, 2023

#Bookreview of Rome's Last Noble Palace by Kimberly Sullivan

Rome's Last Noble Palace

By: Kimberly Sullivan
Publication Date: December 6, 2023
ISBN: 979-8-9868844-3-1
Reviewed by: Katie Specht

Women’s fiction author Kimberly Sullivan is back with her newest release, Rome’s Last Noble Palace, an historical fiction account of two women centuries apart. This is a dual-timeline novel following two female main characters, Isabelle and Sophie, as they both inhabit the same attic room in the Palazzo Brancaccio Museum in Rome, Isabelle from 1896-1897 and Sophie in 2006 and 2018.

Sophie’s story alternates between the years 2006 and 2018. In 2006, she is a doctoral student interning at Rome’s Near Eastern Art Museum while living in an attic room in the Palazzo Brancaccio Museum. She meets a native Italian, Martina, and they quickly strike up a friendship as Martina offers to help Sophie learn Italian. In Sophie’s story in 2018, she has returned to Rome with her son, Matt, for a lecture and meeting at the museum and to visit with her old friend Martina. Isabelle’s story takes place from 1896-1897 as she is sent to Rome to live with her aunt, who is a princess. However, Isabelle, who is an American, dreams of bigger things for her life than simply marrying an Italian nobleman.

As a doctoral student, Sophie is stressed as she oversees a major exhibition at the Near Eastern Art Museum, but when she begins experiencing ominous ghostly sounds outside her attic room at the same time each night, she wonders if there is a spirit living in the museum that has a message for her. When Sophie meets Luisa, who is interested in the occult, including seances and communicating with spirits, she is thrilled at the idea of being able to freely talk to someone about the disturbing nighttime presence she keeps hearing. Isabelle, in her time, is longing for more than to simply be married off to a nobleman, and works in secret with her friend Stefania designing costumes for the theater.

The one unique characteristic that both Sophie and Isabelle have in common, even centuries apart, is that they are leading tortured lives. As they both navigate their lives the best they can to try to escape the issues that plague them, they will both face unexpected circumstances and unsavory people will attempt to prevent them from achieving their goals.

The way in which Sullivan wrote this book, utilizing the dual-timeline, was quite distinctive. It’s a style that one might think would be confusing for the reader, but in fact, the author did an impressive job of keeping each character’s story separate and easy to follow. Since there are essentially two main characters, this means that there is a large supporting cast of characters as well. With such a large cast, it is often easy to let them fall between the cracks underdeveloped, but once again, Sullivan achieved success here by not only thoroughly developing all necessary characters, but also making them extremely relatable to the reader. While reading, there were certain characters I wanted to give a big hug to, and simultaneously, other characters that I hoped would experience the brutal sting of karma.

A rather special aspect of this book was that it incorporated two very different genres, historical fiction and the supernatural. I thoroughly enjoyed learning historical aspects during Isabelle’s story, while relishing the shivers that went down my spine as the ghost story was explored during Sophie’s timeline. While including such diverse topics could have led to a book feeling choppy, Sullivan integrated these two very different genres seamlessly and flawlessly.

Quill says: Sullivan has achieved a winner with the historical fiction account combined with a haunting tale in Rome’s Last Noble Palace. Readers will be drawn into the book by the amazing setting of Rome, while the eerie and thrilling ghost story will ensure that they remain transfixed until the last page.

For more information on Rome's Last Noble Palace, please visit the author's website at:

Thursday, November 30, 2023

#AuthorInterview with James D. Bell, author of BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with James D. Bell, author of BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero.

FQ: Previously, you have published two legal thrillers for adults. The story of BeeBop is quite a departure from your prior published works. What motivated you to write a story for children this time?

BELL: Thank you for having me. It is an honor to be interviewed by Feathered Quill.

We started thinking about children’s books when my wife and I attended a book signing at a small, independent bookstore. The owner told us she needed more kids’ books. I thought about the stories I used to tell my children every night. One was about BeeBop. Joanne loved the idea and gently and frequently persuaded me to write the story.

FQ: How was the writing process different when writing a children’s book versus your adult legal thrillers?

BELL: The process is similar, but scenes are “toned down” for the youthful audience. The young reader wants action, intrigue, adventure, and mystery, but the story needs to unfold quickly. We need to put easily identifiable good life lessons in children’s stories. That may not be a bad idea for adult stories.

FQ: Now that you have written one book for children, do you foresee yourself writing any more children’s books in the future? Perhaps another adventure with BeeBop?

BELL: There will be more stories. Joanne is planning to have me write a BeeBop follow up. I’m thinking about The Adventures of Sherlock Hound.

FQ: I see from your author biography that in addition to your legal interests, you also give talks to civic groups and churches. In this very divided and stressed-out world, have you found people to be eager to hear your message? And do you think you might consider penning an inspirational book related to your talks?

Author James D. Bell

BELL: I considered my law practice to be a ministry. People brought their biggest life problems to me to help them find solutions. Frequently, I felt the legal problem was a symptom of a spiritual problem. If so, I asked if I could share Scripture that seemed to fit the issue. 100% of the time the answer was yes. Then, after reading the Scripture, the person would say, That’s me! Tell me more!” People are hungry for the truth found in Jesus Christ.

One subject I speak about is the overwhelming evidence that Jesus lived, that he is the Christ, that he died for our sins and rose again, conquering death. I call the program, The Verdict. The audience is the jury. Evidence is presented. We ask for a verdict. The audience wins every time. Turning that program into a short book is a future project.

FQ: The cast of BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero is rather unique. It is not too often that the main character of a children’s book is a bee. Can you share how you decided that your characters would be bees as opposed to any other type of animal?

BELL: I used to call my daughter BeeBop and included her in stories. In one story she was a bee who saved the day. The book was built around that nighttime story from long ago.

FQ: The story of BeeBop is enhanced by some adorable illustrations, which are not always found in a chapter book. What made you decide to include illustrations in your story, and how did you go about finding your illustrator? Did you have in-depth discussions about each illustration and what you envisioned, or did you give a brief overview and let the illustrator's imagination take over?

BELL: Joanne had the idea to add illustrations. We did art contests and invited art classes to submit ideas. Ultimately, she found Wacky World in Florida and we worked with them. They are true professionals. We picked scenes together and met frequently. They did a fabulous job.

FQ: The extra materials included at the back of the book, the parent and teacher’s guide, the test, and the vocabulary list were a nice touch. What prompted you to include them?

BELL: Once again, that was Joanne’s idea. The truth is, she should be considered the author. All I did was write the words that pleased her. She wanted fun facts about bees, and a parent/teachers guide at the back. We added a vocabulary, because I used a few words I hoped would expand a young reader’s linguistic toolbox.

FQ: You have practiced criminal law since opening your law firm in 1977 as well as presided as a judge for seven of those years. Having worked in the world of law from both of those perspectives, would you say there is one career you prefer over the other and why?

BELL: I love them both. As a lawyer, I helped people at critical times in their lives. I made sure that both the person and the Constitution were respected. As a judge, I was charged with giving everyone an impartial forum for the fair resolution of disputes. What an honor it has been to serve in both capacities.

FQ: The premise of BeeBop: The Honeybee WannaBee Hero presents a valuable anti-bullying lesson for kids. What was the impetus for focusing on this issue? 

BELL: Everyone has experienced bullying, particularly when we were young and in school. I hope BeeBop allows the victim of bullying to see that with determination, character, and perseverance, you can overcome bullying. I hope that the bully who reads the story might see his own injustice and recognize that his victim could instead be his best friend.

#bookreview of BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero by James D. Bell

BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero

By: James D. Bell
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: October 30, 2023
ISBN: 979-8846879508
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: November 28, 2023
Author of two legal thrillers as well as a retired Mississippi Judge, James D. Bell has recently released his first children’s book, BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero. This early reader is the sweet story of a determined young bee named BeeBop, who is abandoned at birth, and his journey to fit in and prove himself among the hive that adopted him.
The story of BeeBop opens as a hive has been destroyed by a bear, leaving nothing but destruction except for one lone egg that is somehow unscathed. The bees, surveying the damage, decide to take the egg back to their Queen so she can determine what to do with it. That egg turns out to be our hero, BeeBop. As he grows up among his adopted brothers and sisters, he learns all he can from the Queen. The time soon comes for BeeBop to begin attending school, where he will learn all he needs to become a productive member of the hive. Once there, he quickly learns that he is not welcome as a big bully named Buzz makes comments about him not being “one of them.” When BeeBop comments about wanting to be a hero one day, Buzz laughs at him, telling him that he’s “too puny to be a hero,” and that he should leave the “hero business” to Buzz. This makes BeeBop feel very alone and miserable.
One of the young bee’s first assignments is to find nectar for the hive, which is running dangerously low with winter quickly approaching. BeeBop partners with his one close friend, BettyBee, and off they go in search of nectar for the hive. Buzz and BeeBop clash again as they argue over the same patch of flowers, which ultimately leads to them losing the flowers to another group of bees. After this, BettyBee flies away, upset with BeeBop for the way he argued with Buzz and lost their nectar, leaving BeeBop to find nectar alone. He soon finds the biggest patch of flowers he has ever seen, but upon returning to the hive to announce his discovery, no one believes him, except for BettyBee. She travels with him to see the patch for herself only to discover that the flowers are gone. It is now up to BeeBop to overcome the most challenging of obstacles in order to gain the respect of his fellow bees and provide much-needed nectar for his hive community.
BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero is a sweet, charming story with a meaningful message about bullying that kids and parents alike will appreciate. The book is written in chapter format and has a few illustrations interspersed throughout. There is also a parent and teacher’s guide, a test, and a vocabulary list at the back of the book to enhance learning. The story is written simply using words kids can understand, but due to the fact that it is a chapter book, and it is 76 pages long, I would recommend the book for grades three and up.
Quill says: With BeeBop: The Honeybee Wannabee Hero, James D. Bell has penned a touching story of loyalty, perseverance, forgiveness, and belonging that children and parents alike can relate to, complete with a hero that every reader will root for throughout the story.

#BookReview of Danish Connection: The Dansgaard Family Saga

Danish Connection: The Dansgaard Family Saga

By: Keith Thye
Publisher: Classic Day Publishing
Publication Date: January 1, 2023
ISBN: 978-1598493429
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: November 28, 2023
When we first meet Bjorn, the central character in acclaimed author Keith Thye’s latest work, Danish Connection: The Dansgaard Family Saga, he is a soldier in Belgium at the height of World War I. Wounded, he tries to think as positively as he can about his recent past and potential future. The possibilities will unfold through the pages of this vibrant historical saga.
One thing on Bjorn’s mind as he crouches in a foxhole is the last night he spent with Karla – the only occasion when the two lay together. That memory will form a large piece of his later life after he learns that Karla has a daughter – his. This is the beginning of his epic journey from poverty and war-time injury to success in business, and from Denmark and Germany, in both of which he has connections, to the charms of California and elsewhere. Bjorn will have more children, and more loves to add to his storehouse of care and achievement as the years pass. Each child has his or her own story to add to the plausible plot that Thye has constructed. One son, Tor, will join with the Nazi movement and be selected to hunt down Jews as the next world war is in full sway, while Bjorn, at the same time, will be involved with Frieda, whose Jewish connection would make her a target for Hitler’s extermination. Fleeing, first from Denmark and then to the US, Bjorn will make the most of his business acumen while his offspring become well-educated and have their own destinies to explore. Tor will find himself enamored of a Native American woman, forcing him to question his earlier attachments to the Nazi template of despising inferior races. And Bjorn’s last great love, in his waning years, will be a Black woman with whom he can share his uniquely broad worldview.
Award-winning writer Thye is himself a world traveler, having written extensively about his motorcycling ventures in two continents (The Whole Story). He is also, as demonstrated here, a diligent historian whose descriptions of the times that his characters are living through – two world wars, the Great Depression, a succession of American presidencies and the attacks of 9-11 - are offered in rich detail. He has based this book on the heritage of his wife’s German origins and supports his narrative with a lengthy array of references. Still, the central attraction of this creation will be the complex interactions, growth, intimacies, and emerging realizations experienced by Bjorn and his extended family.
Quill says: Thye’s vast panorama of international events tethered to family faith and future will especially enchant readers whose background includes immigration, racial and cultural mixtures, and a sustained belief in basic human values.
For more information on Danish Connection: The Dansgaard Family Saga, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, November 27, 2023

#AuthorInterview with Terry Broxson, author of Santa Claus: The Beginning

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with Terry Broxson, author of Santa Claus: The Beginning.
FQ: I was intrigued when I learned of the premise of your story. What prompted you to write a book based on the character of Santa Claus?
BROXSON: In March of this year, at five in the morning, I had a dream and heard a voice that said, “Terry, write a new version of A Christmas Carol. But instead of the main character being Scrooge, make it about the man who would become Santa Claus.”
As I lay in bed, now awake, I started thinking about the idea. I wondered “Who would that guy be? What did he do before being Santa? How did he grow up? And who would visit him on Christmas Eve, and try to convince him to be Santa?”
I thought this required some good salesmen.
I am a member of a writer’s forum called FanStory. It’s a group of writers who share stories and use each other’s input to do better work. The morning I had the dream I started working on the story. I posted the first draft. The response was very favorable. That is how the book evolved.
FQ: Your bio states that your career was in management in the non-profit and private sectors. Can you elaborate a bit on what that entailed?
BROXSON: My entire career was spent in the health/medical arena. I held management positions in nonprofit and profit fields. The last twenty years before retiring I was the CEO of Advanced Ergonomics, Inc. We provided services to employers by doing pre-employment physicals.
FQ: You also share that you worked with charitable organizations for twelve years. What types of organizations did you work with, and what kind of work did you do?
BROXSON: Upon graduation from college, my first job was with the American Cancer Society. I spent two years in Waco, Texas, and then two years as the director of fundraising in Dallas. I also served for eight years as the Executive Director of the Dallas Chapter of the American Heart Association.
FQ: The pictures that were interspersed throughout the story were a nice added touch. What made you decide to include these in the book?
BROXSON: I thought a book about Santa needed pictures to help illustrate the story. Some of them made me laugh.
FQ: Within the synopsis, you state that your book is suitable for all ages. Do you hope that your book touches any certain age group, in particular, more than another?
BROXSON: That is a great question. My wife and I never had kids, only cats. When I finished the first draft of the short story, I sent a copy to a friend who read it to her grandson. She told me he enjoyed it, but she loved it. That is where I got the idea for the book. I think parents and grandparents will like sharing it. I also think they may smile or chuckle at something and have to explain it. I think that will be cool.
FQ: This is your third published book, but the first you have written in the fiction genre. What prompted you to shift to writing a fictional story?
BROXSON: I have been on the writer's forum I mentioned for a couple of years and have been experimenting with fiction. I had a lot of fun writing this story.
FQ: Do you have any plans for future books, and if so, what can you share about these plans?
BROXSON: It’s possible I might continue the story of Santa. I have a few ideas for more adventures. One might include another marriage of a couple of elves, but I might have to find some pixie dust.
FQ: It was a rather unique addition to the plot to have Jessica, Santa’s bride-to-be, raised by royalty in England and to also include them in their wedding. How did you develop this rather interesting portion of the story?
BROXSON: I wanted the future Mrs. Claus to be interesting. I wanted the wedding to be fun and a bit unique. I thought having some real historical characters would add to the story. I also tried to make sure the names and dates were correct.
FQ: Santa Claus: The Beginning is a heartwarming, classic story that explains how one of children’s most beloved characters began. Are there any lessons or messages that you hope to impart to your readers with your book?
BROXSON: I made up a translation for the name of Santa Claus. At least I hadn’t heard anyone else use it. Santa Claus means to give freely and lovingly. That also applies to each character in the book.
There are some thoughts on fairness, fun, chocolate, and the secret to success—hard work.
FQ: After spending your career in management, what prompted you to begin writing books once you retired?
BROXSON: For some people, publishing a book is a life-long dream, whereas, for others, there may be a motivating event. Would you fit into one of those categories?
My wife died suddenly from a heart attack five years ago. I wrote a poem about her death. The writing of it helped me.
One day, I saw a contest on a website for writers, FanStory, and I entered the poem. It was the first contest for writing I had ever entered. It won second place. I was now hooked on writing. It's kind of like she led me there.

#Bookreview of Santa Claus: The Beginning by Terry Broxson

Santa Claus: The Beginning

By: Terry Broxson
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 7, 2023
ISBN: 979-8891320130
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: September 19, 2023
Author Terry Broxson is back with his third published book, this time his first work of fiction, entitled Santa Claus: The Beginning, a heartwarming story of how a young toymaker embraces the role of Santa Claus.
Our story begins as we meet Rudolph Stern, a trained toy maker and owner of Rudolph Stern Toys, located in Boston. Rudolph adopts two young boys, Benjamin Timmons and John Nicholas, from a nearby orphanage and teaches them how to become extraordinary toy makers. Rudolph gives them a good life at the toy shop, making them his apprentices, setting them up with savings accounts at the bank, and announcing the designation of them as partners in the toy shop. Rudolph eventually passes away, leaving the toy shop in Benjamin and John’s capable hands. For the next four years, they busy themselves making quality toys until tragedy strikes as a cholera epidemic spreads across the city. Unfortunately, the disease claims Benjamin’s life. That Christmas Eve, John finds himself lonely and sad when, unexpectedly, Benjamin appears to him as an angel and tells him that he has been chosen to carry out a very special mission. From that moment on, John’s life will never be the same.
John is immediately transported to the North Pole where he is presented with an amazing castle nestled among snow-covered mountains, reindeer, elves and the most incredible workshop he has ever seen. Once there, John is astonished to discover that Rudolph Stern, his former mentor, is also present and is part of this mission as well. Rudolph and Benjamin try their best to explain the mission and what John’s role will be in it. John is stunned as he is faced with an incredible, unbelievable situation...
Santa Claus: The Beginning is an uplifting and easy-to-read story that readers both young and old will enjoy. Broxson has crafted a magical story that explores the origins of Santa Claus in a way that has never been explored before. The adventure is sure to please young adult readers who still like to partake in the fun and imagination of Christmas. Broxson’s writing is simple enough that young readers will have no difficulty reading it. It was also especially fun to see the bright and colorful images that Broxson included throughout the story. This was a lovely added touch to the story.
Quill says: With Santa Claus: The Beginning, Broxson has taken a classic story and added a new twist, resulting in an entertaining, magical, and uplifting story about the wonder of Christmas and its foremost character, Santa Claus.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

#Bookreview of Hologram by Walker Larson


By: Walker Larson
Publisher: Swallow Hill Press
Publication Date: November 18, 2023
Reviewed by: Lily Andrews
Review Date: November 24, 2023

A beautiful and captivating read, Hologram is the story of one man's quest to save his captured family from a fate worse than death.

Aaron, a Taurusian, living in one of the nation's outposts known as Fen, finds himself as a lone fugitive when the only family he has ever known is captured by the ruthless Vanguards. The Vanguards are Voturan shock troops that have an eerie ability to vanish into any surroundings. Using the military technology of developing holograms, the Voturan government sends fleets of nonexistent drones and divisions of ghost troopers mixed with their real forces. The hologram forces appear real and thus, their foes are not able to tell the difference. This gives the Voturan an upper hand against all their enemies.

Aaron has no destination set to go seek refuge, only the dogged determination to keep walking. Unfortunately, he is captured by the Voturans with his life taking an unforseen twist when he is promoted to the rank of a colonel once the power-hungry Voturan General, Druxa, discovers that Aaron has the remarkable and unique gift to tell the difference between the holograms and real soldiers. The general considers him a great weapon to help decipher the deceits of their enemies who have resorted to using holograms as well. With the acquired resolve to find his missing family members who had been taken as prisoners of war, and to save his life, Aaron decides to play the long game, by feigning loyalty to Druxa, while all along concealing his unrelenting desire for revenge and growing hatred for this wicked nation. A lot is at stake and time is of the essence...Aaron realizes that his first duty is staying alive and clawing through every day before carrying out his rescue plan.

The book's prose is organic and fresh, and the potent words the author uses evoke the complex relationships among characters and lucid landscapes. This searing story offers concise details - "A snarling blue wolf face was painted on the underside of its wings, and next to it were fixed several small missiles. A little glass dome protruded from its nose — a camera. Wafts of air from the propellers swept over the skiff and awakened the surrounding water into riffles and set the reeds to dancing, frothed in foam..." (pg. 5) - unfolding into unanticipated events that are utterly compelling and gripping.

A study of moral values and ethics gives an unexpected twist to this tale and the cinematic sequence the book builds up to, is not rushed. The author gives readers ample time to connect with the main character, and the secondary ones as well, and this makes them feel part of the story every step of the way. Aaron, the main protagonist, is a flawed character, and some of his decisions are questionable, but it is his character growth along the pages that is most satisfying.

Quill says: A tale that slowly and expertly builds up to a fantastic and satisfying end, Hologram by Walker Larson is a welcome treat for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts as they await the author's next adventure.

For more information on Hologram, please visit the author's website at: