Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview with Author Erin Sankey

Today we're talking with Erin Sankey, author of NaLee

FQ: I have to begin with where you came up with this particular story? Readers will note in the beginning of the book that you say “how I remember it in my mind’s eye.” Was this, perhaps, based on a dream? Or, was there a “real life” island that you were thinking of when writing?

I have always been a fan of mermaids, and I was always looking for a book like the one I wrote. I figured since no one else has written any thing like this, why can't I? I don't want to give to much of this trilogy away, but it told in the perspective of a grandpa telling his grandkids this story that takes place in the future and will be revealed in the 3rd book as to who it is.

FQ: YA has become the largest and bestselling genre since Mr. Potter began waving his wand and Bella & Edward fell in love. Are you a YA writer exclusively? Or, do you write adult fiction, as well?

I am thinking about being both since I have many stories that will please both young adults and adults alike, this is just the first to come in many more books that I want to write.

FQ: The YA world is SO filled with vampires and werewolves...are you a mermaid fan, specifically?

No, I love the mysterious vampire and all the traits he beholds, but I also have room in my story telling for many new mythological creatures that I feel need to be brought out and enjoyed by readers.

FQ: NaLee is a trilogy, so I was wondering if you could tell fans when Book II will arrive, the title, and perhaps any specifics about where NaLee is headed?

Book 2 is already out it is call Fire and Ice. I am still revising book 3 it will be out when these books take off and I have more fans begging for last book in the series.

FQ: I, myself, am a cover art fan - as are a great many readers. Did you design the cover yourself?

Yes I had the idea for the cover and I went to a local artist here in Chicago and had him design it for me.

FQ: Are there plans to perhaps focus on the legends of the sea such as Poseidon, etc.?

No, this book takes a whole other twist that brings a powerful message of saving the earth's oceans and all it beauty it gives us.

FQ: You seem to truly identify with NaLee. Readers always like to know if the characters an author “obviously” loves so dearly have more than a bit of themselves written in. Would this be true of your book? Because NaLee certainly captures the heart.

Yes, I picture myself to be her, to find such a wonderful island and way of life like I have written about in the book.

FQ: Do you have a favorite series? Or, a favorite fantasy novel that encourages you to write?

To be quite honest with you I do not read all that often. I tell stories more than I read, and I thought that I would share some of my talent and see what the readers of the world think.

To learn more about NaLee please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Book Review - NaLee


By: Erin Sankey
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication Date: November 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4535-7700-4
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 31, 2012

Beginning with an accident that takes his parents' lives, Frances is at a loss of what will become of him. The funeral brings well-wishers and sympathetic eyes, but no answers. Frances has no idea what to do; his choice of homes are between a hypochondriac uncle, a musician cousin who is riddled with debt and a sister who has just begun a brand new life and, even though she’s loving, has far too many things on her plate. All of a sudden a limo pulls up in front of the house and an estranged grandmother steps out as elegant as the Queen and, in what seems like seconds, Frances’ life is completely and utterly changed.

Going to live with this slightly odd relative, Frances is whisked away to an island in the Atlantic located off the coast of Florida called Caytone Island. There, Frances is thrust into a life that includes everything from a butler riding around in a golf cart, a private jet, a private tutor, and even a pair of Macaws that patrol the property. Frances’ newfound relative is a very nice woman (and a character who is beyond memorable); even though she’s a bit pampered, she’s extremely funny and their egos seem to mesh well.

One day, as Frances is walking along the beach, he takes a spill, and when he wakes up he is staring into the most beautiful violet eyes he’s ever seen. Of course, the violet eyes are not the most unique trait when it comes to this stunning creature - it is the fact that the owner of them is an actual mermaid. Her name is NaLee, and from then on out, Frances begins the adventure of a lifetime.

With each new chapter, this author has the wonderful ability to introduce characters who cover a wide range of emotions. A man of the law who can literally jump off the page and scare you to scenes of dolphins' buried treasure, tales of pirates and ghosts…this one has it all. What readers will like most is watching Frances develop. Being a simple boy from Chicago who has gone through tragedy and who is desperately trying to overcome and find his own ‘path’ in life is hard enough, but to then watch him enter a world that is sparked by sheer serenity and magic almost makes it feel as if the reader is back with Mr. Potter and following yet another unforgettable tale of growing up in a world you won’t soon forget.

The only tough part comes from the formatting of the book. Unfortunately, this read does need an editor to clean up the dialogue and separate the characters from one another. For example, in one paragraph you will find an entire conversation between characters with no paragraph breaks which makes it hard, at times, to follow. However, the beauty of the land and the heartwarming story is very intriguing. In addition, we are looking at only Book I of the NaLee trilogy, so it will be fun to see how it all moves forward.

Quill Says: A very good YA story that simply needs a bit of polish.


To learn more about NaLee, please visit the book's website at:

Book Review - Dark Soul

Dark Soul: A Jake Somers Mystery

By: Don Castle
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-468-18497-6
Reviewed by: Cory Bickel
Reviewed On: May 2012

According to FBI agent Sharon Wooldridge, a “Dark Soul” is someone “so evil and so vile that he or she is beyond evaluating or dealing with under the normal rules of decency...this person must be handled just as someone would handle a poisonous reptile or a medical lab would deal with a dangerous drug.” (pg. 172). In Don Castle’s new novel, private detective Jake Somers finds himself in charge of capturing such a man and stopping his plans to destroy a neighborhood and the life of anyone who gets in his way.

The case begins with the unprovoked shooting of an African-American girl at a routine traffic stop in the upscale neighborhood of Bryan Point in Dallas, Texas. Jake hears of the shooting on the same day he is contacted by his former boss, Captain Huddleston of the Dallas Police Department, for a seemingly unrelated issue of problems with the department’s new communication system. At their meeting Huddleston also tells Jake about problems he’s been having with his officers, including accusations of racial profiling and bogus tickets issued at traffic stops, as well as the latest senseless shooting. He is also puzzled by a drastic increase in crime in the Bryan Point area. He asks Jake to check out the company installing the new communications system, owned by Terry Mancini. The job sounds like an easy one, but things get more complicated when Allison Tyler, intern at Mancini Systems and daughter of an influential property owner in Bryan Point, goes missing. Jake finds out that she is working for the FBI, who has had its eye on Mancini for a long time and suspects him of kidnapping her. A series of murders of police department members also appear to be the work of Mancini, but without any solid evidence, the law enforcement agencies have their hands tied. The discovery of some unexpected additions to the department’s communication system reveals the devious route by which Mancini hopes to carry out an elaborate plan driven by pure greed. As time runs out for saving Allison and stopping Mancini, Jake is elected to coordinate the offensive on this heavily secured company. But by taking on such a twisted individual, he may be risking the lives of those he loves most.

In Dark Soul, Castle packs a lot of intrigue into a relatively short story and still manages to neatly tie everything up. Despite some editorial problems and rather stiff dialog, the book is fast-paced and absorbing. Jake is the all-around good guy hero who rescues injured dogs and treats his girl and mother right. Castle adds in humor and some unusual twists on the typical police story, such as a stripper joining the police and FBI in a raid. The cooperation between law enforcement agencies that he depicts is refreshingly different from the usual macho territory fights of crime novels. And the unique methods that Mancini employs to carry out his plan offer originality to mystery lovers who think they’ve read it all.

Quill Says: Through a complex plot that keeps one guessing right to the end, Castle explores the unfathomable depths to which a Dark Soul will sink to satisfy his desires.
For more information on Dark Soul, please visit the author's website at:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review - Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love

By: Sebastian Cole
Publisher: Sebastian Cole LLC
Publication Date: April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-985-11560-9
Reviewed by: Cory Bickel
Reviewed Date: May 30, 2012

The narrative of Sand Dollar weaves back and forth through the life of Noah Hartman to tell a story of the undying love of soul mates and the trials and rewards of following one’s heart. As the story begins, Noah is about to be married to Sarah, a beautiful young woman who has his parents’ approval and his trust and devotion. Just as Sarah is about to walk down the aisle, the ceremony is interrupted by Robin, the free-spirited but damaged girl who left Noah with a broken heart years before. She tells him that leaving him was a mistake and that she remembers her love for him. We are left with Noah standing uncertain between the two women, not knowing whether to choose his true love or the woman who is a reliable friend.

Next we see Noah at eighty, in the hospital for reasons he can’t remember. He tells Josh, a hospital orderly, the story of himself and Robin and the ups and downs of their relationship over the years. In his late thirties, although he seems to have it all – money, a fancy car, a house on the beach and a secure job with his father’s company, Noah feels trapped by his parents’ strict control of his life. He longs to break free and make it on his own, to live a real life and make his own mistakes, but isn’t brave enough to challenge his parents. The night he meets Robin at a dance club, he is enchanted by her free spirit and the two are instantly drawn to each other. Yet Robin has problems of her own that made it difficult for her to stay in a relationship. After finding and losing Robin several times, Noah, despite his heartache, is inspired by her to finally start his own business and live his own life. Although Robin never leaves his heart, he eventually finds some happiness with Sarah and the two arrange their wedding when she becomes pregnant. As Noah recounts the events of the wedding to Josh, he sees the course of his relationship with Robin with a new clarity, and the choice he made is finally revealed. Will Noah take this final chance to be with his true love?

In the tradition of Nicholas Sparks, whom Cole cites as his favorite author, Sand Dollar is a sentimental love story about finding and losing one’s soul mate. Cole metes out important information at a good pace, keeping the reader as baffled as Noah by Robin’s strange changes of heart, and carefully manipulates details to lead to a real surprise ending. Although he often simply describes the feelings of Noah and Robin, rather than fully developing key scenes to make the reader really fall for them and feel their emotions, both characters have enough charm to keep us interested in their fate. Anyone who has felt that they missed an opportunity for love and wishes for a second chance will find themselves relating to Noah. His quest to find the courage to live his own life is inspiring, and his struggles in this area will likely hit home for a lot of readers as well. Some really lovely and romantic scenes add to the story’s appeal.

Quill says: Sand Dollar is a touching romance with the hopeful message that it’s never too late to reconnect with a lost love, or to take a chance and follow your heart.

New Review - Deadly Policy

Deadly Policy: A Silver Sleuths Mystery

By: Mitzi Kelly
Publisher: Avalon
Pubishing Date: April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8034-7473-4
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 30, 2012

I again have the honor of reviewing one of the best reads in the cozy genre. Deadly Policy written by Mitzi Kelly is the second book in Ms. Kelly’s Silver Sleuths Mystery series (the first is Classic Revenge). These books have a cast of characters seldom seen in mysteries; three very feisty ladies who made their debut in Classic Revenge and are better at snooping than most of the detective’s in today’s fiction.

In this particular book the ladies, Millie Morrow, an extremely stubborn 80-year old Pitt Bull of a mother and her two best friends, Edna Radcliff, a 65-year old and a very shy, gentle lady and Trish Anderson, a 45-year old who is very level headed and tries to keep Millie from going off the deep end. These women are indestructible when it comes to protecting someone who they love and Millie’s daughter is that someone. The insurance company that Michelle (Millie's daughter) works for has had to pay off on a series of car thefts on policy holders and it seems that Michelle is going to be dragged into a case of fraud as the authorities believe that the fraud is being run by an insider at the company. The three women go into detective mode, much to the distress of local law enforcement and kick it up a notch to go after their suspects.

As they swing into high gear, a body is found outside the insurance office where Michelle works. This complicates things for a while, and the ladies have to work a little faster. Even though Michelle wasn’t caught with a smoking gun, the case against her is growing. Millie and friends, including the Chief of Police, Henry Espinoza, are on it. Things don’t go well at first as Millie has a tendency to make a lot of enemies in a very short time. There's no doubt that this team of ‘Silver Sleuths’ will keep you reading and laughing as they work to solve this case. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and even though it’s the second in a series, it definitely stands alone and the reader will be able to make a smooth transition into the next story.

Quill Says: All mystery/cozy/thriller readers will love this new book and especially the ladies over the age of 40 who can really show that they are still full of life. This is a keeper!! Don’t miss it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review - Sea Change

Sea Change

By: Karen White
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-451-23676-0
Reviewed by: Holly Weiss
Review Date: May 29, 2012

In the Prologue of Sea Change, set in 1804, we meet Pamela Frazier, wife of Geoffrey. She is a midwife who lost two of her own babies. Walking the beach of her St. Simons, Georgia home, she finds a ring engraved with a single word, “forever.” She takes the ring home, the golden circle reminding her that beginnings and endings are connected and that “…sometimes it is impossible to distinguish between the two.”

Lonely midwife Ava Whalen meets psychologist Matthew Frazier at a 2011 conference. They elope and he whisks her off to his ancestral home on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. Life here is difficult for thirty-five year old Ada. She has a deep-seated fear of the water. Her new husband and his Revolutionary War era home seem to be hiding secrets from her. Refusing to close the book on her husband’s past, Ada plunges into the mystery, finding herself an integral part of its unraveling.

Ava’s relationship with her family has always been precarious. She believes that making a life with Matthew will bring her what she always lacked—a sense of belonging. He constantly tells her that he loves her, but in Daphne du Maurier style the presence of his first wife, Adrienne, eerily hovers over their relationship. Ada finds Adrienne’s drawings in the house and her dress in Matthew’s closet. Only after Matthew turns a shuttered shack holding Adrienne’s art supplies into a potting shed for Ava’s garden does she begin to trust him.

Ada’s confusion worsens. In her search to solve the puzzles of the island’s past, she finds unexplainable epitaphs on gravestones. She sees visions of Pamela’s husband, Geoffrey. Her nightmares of drowning persist. Psychologist husband Matthew offers to hypnotize her. In the trance, Eva sees memories she thought belonged to someone else, but now understands are her own.

A tensely spun mystery, the book is written in the first person from the alternating viewpoints of present day Ada, her mother Gloria, and early nineteenth century Pamela. Mimi, Ada’s wise ninety-one-year-old grandmother is a sensitively written character who gushes words of insight. “…Some endings are really beginnings.” Although Ada’s fear of the water and sense of foreboding permeate the book, Pamela emerges as the mesmerizing character, dominating the reader’s imagination. The book explores themes of karma, reincarnation, mother/daughter relationships, birth, and death.

Shrouded in mystique, illuminated by enchanting description, and peopled with unforgettable characters, Sea Change is beautifully nuanced. Ghosts lurk everywhere on the ethereal St. Simons Island. The unexpected twists and many layers of mystery will transport you to an enigmatic world. St. Simons Island itself becomes a character; as do a backyard shack, a wedding ring, and a makeshift graveyard. The connection between the midwives of the eighteenth and twenty-first century is slowly unraveled. Does Ava ever solve the puzzle? Like the 200 year-old oak trees that tower knowingly over the St. Simons cemetery, Ms. White masterfully detangles the secrets from long ago and spans the bridge from Ava’s past to her present. Along the way she explores the tenacious, heart-wrenching hold we have over love and relationships.

Quill says: Savor the mystique of St. Simon’s Island, its secrets and its inhabitants with the haunting, beautifully rendered Sea Change.

Book Review - Quilt or Innocence

Quilt or Innocence: A Southern Quilting Mystery

By: Elizabeth Craig
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0451237330
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 28, 2012

Beatrice Coleman had recently retired and moved from Atlanta to Dappled Hills, North Carolina to be closer to her daughter, Piper. At first glance it appeared to be the type of town where one might find Opie Taylor just around the corner, but she quickly discovered it just wasn’t so. A disheveled, decidedly maniacal woman showed up on her doorstep and attempted to drag her into the neighboring barn for some sort of guild meeting. Beatrice was going to call the police, but Police Chief Ramsay Downey was practically at her door before she dialed 911, claiming “She’s not as crazy as she looks.” Beatrice had just made the acquaintance of Meadow Downey, his wife.

It looked as though her dreams of walking with her corgi, Noo-Noo, swinging in a hammock drinking southern sweet tea and reading the Whispers of Summer, would have to be put aside. The Village Quilters guild was anxious to have her as a member despite her inability to thread a needle. As a folk art curator she knew more about things like the Quilts of Gee’s Bend, but she “was happily ignorant of the precise methods of constructing” any kind of quilt. Needles were a no-no, but Meadow was insistent. Unexpectedly, the members of the guild began to gossip and trash-talk, so much so they could have opened a dump.

Everyone from Posy, the owner of the Patchwork Cottage, to the Potter twins managed to have a bone to pick with Judith. She was doing everything from trying to fleece Felicity out of a valuable Civil War quilt to attempting to put Posy out of business. Piper had warned her mother that the woman never missed “an opportunity to irritate large numbers of people at once.” Beatrice was on an early morning walk with Noo-Noo and accidentally ran into Posy when they spotted something indescribable. “Beatrice, there’s something lying on the ground over there...” It looked like Judith had irritated one person too many in Dappled Hills. Threatening notes soon began arriving on Beatrice’s porch. Would she be able to solve the mystery of Judith’s murder before she became the next victim?

This dazzling debut will keep you on pins and needles as you try to figure out whodunit. Beatrice, a staid patron of the arts, stands out in sharp contrast with the down-to-earth members of the Village Quilters guild, some of whom were six pins short of a bowling rack. Not unlike Beatrice’s book, The Whispers of Summer, this mystery will charm you whether you’re lounging in a hammock smelling the roses or sticking your toes in the sand at the beach. The flow was smooth and the plot was as intricately stitched as a Dutchman’s Puzzle with just the right touch of humor to hold it together. The Dappled Hills quilters are definitely one gang of gals to watch out for!

Quilt says: Pull up a chair, nuzzle up in your favorite quilt, and get ready for a darn good time!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review - The Azalea Assault

The Azalea Assault: A Garden Society Mystery

By: Alyse Carlson
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251300
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 26, 2012

Camellia “Cam” Harris struck it big when she somehow finagled the magazine, Garden Delights, into featuring the Roanoke’s La Fontaine gardens. The event seemed to be tailor-made for her considering her three loves were “gardening, her hometown, and PR.” Neil Patrick, the owner of La Fontaine and founder of the Roanoke Garden Society, as well as Samantha Hollister, current president of the RGS, were more than delighted to welcome Jean-Jacques George to town. The ooh la las and the how-do-ya-dos were short-lived when the so-called “world-renowned,” insufferable boor of a photographer actually showed up.

Genteel was not exactly Monsieur George’s middle name, nor was the command of his supposed native tongue exactly his strong suit. Derrière was as good as it got and he promptly began to pinch them, including that of Petunia’s, Cam’s sister who hardly had one. Jean-Jock, as Petunia soon dubbed him, was nuzzling up to Evangeline Patrick, but soon began an argument with Ian Ellsworth, the photographic editor. Jean-Jacques’s seemingly nondiscriminatory policy of aggravating everyone in sight didn’t exactly endear him to the RGS. The next day, Samantha, who “envisioned herself as a local celebrity,” was going to host a reception catered by Petunia and her tattooed husband, Nick, a man she despised.

Annie and Rob, Cam’s best friend and long-term boyfriend agreed with her that Jean-Jacques was little more than a “French fraud.” Little did they know that he’d be leaving almost as soon as he arrived. Monsieur Jock was found deader than disco lying underneath Evangeline’s window in the azaleas. Rob, a reporter anxious for a scoop, claimed the medical examiner said there was “a set of pruning sheers through the abdomen.” Joaquin “Jake” Moreno had a lot of people to interrogate, including Nick, suspect número uno. Things began to really blossom on the estate when Joseph Sadler-Neff began to scream, “I think the brownies have been poisoned!” Would the gardens of La Fontaine be host to more than one corpse?

This is a fantastic first in a series that has just the right touch of sweet, southern style elegance...with a dash of murder added to the recipe. The cast of characters was marvelously diverse and included everyone from southern blue-bloods, the wannabe princesses, to the ex-con with a prison wire tattoo around his neck. I found the plucky protagonist, Cam Harris, to be a smart, down-to-earth gal who will be a force to be reckoned with in this up and coming series. The plot had more twists and turns than Chubby Checker had in his prime, something that fans of new Garden Society mystery fans will appreciate. If you’re a garden geek, this is one series you’re going to love!

Quill says: If you like your mysteries a tad on the serious side, hard to solve, with a sleuth to be reckoned with, this Garden Society mystery might just be what you are looking for!

Book Review - Corpse in the Crystal Ball

Corpse in the Crystal Ball: A Fortune Teller Mystery

By: Kari Lee Townsend
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251331
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 2012

Sylvia “Sunny” Meadows was settling in nicely in Divinity, despite her recent, unsettling setback. Never in a million years had she expected the finger to be pointed at her for the murder of the town librarian after she’d read her tea leaves. Small town Divinity was a far cry from the Big Apple and her Victorian home at the end of Shadow Lane was the perfect place to set up her fortune-telling business, especially since it was “rumored to be haunted.” Her clientele list was growing and even included Mayor Cromwell, who was a regular. Granny Gert, who was singularly quirky, had just moved in to help, if you could call baking cookies helping.

Jo Burnham, Sunny’s best friend, had to chuckle at Sunny’s ‘almost’ relationship with Detective Mitch Stone. Their relationship always seemed to end before it even got started. Mitch thought that fortune-telling was tomfoolery and would have no part of it. Worse yet, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, Isabel Gonzales, had just arrived in town and wanted Mitch back AND a reading. Sunny reluctantly held Isabel’s hands and decided she needed to use Moonbeam, her crystal ball. After placing four protective crystal angels around the ball, a vision came into view. “I clearly saw that you will be noticed, only not in the way you want.”

Fingers would once again be pointing because Isabel’s strangled corpse would soon be found in the woods. This time they pointed at Mitch. Was Sunny falling in love with a murderer? Captain Walker officially appointed her as part of the investigation team for her impressive work in helping locate Isabel. Sunny suddenly found herself driving in the fast lane in more ways than one. Granny wanted driving lessons and was trying to set her up with Kevin, the mailman, while shady out-of-towners started coming out of the woodwork. When Sunny discovered one of them floating face up in the swan pond at Mini Central Park she began her own investigation. Mitch angrily spouted, “I thought your job was reading people’s fortunes, not their Miranda rights.” He had a point because Father Moody just might end up giving Sunny her last rites after she discovered a cold-blooded killer was stalking her!

A quick tea-leaf reading shows that Sunny Meadows is going to be a first class detective. The energy simply sparkles and flows through the pages of this mystery as Sunny tries to find out whodunit. Although she couldn’t use her psychic abilities to figure out where her love life was going, I was just as anxious to find out who could land a date with this spunky scryer as I was to have her ferret out the killer. The wide variety of characters, from the psychic and the psycho to the shady and shiftless, will garner new fans for this visionary series. Granny’s charming antics add just a dash of humor that rounds out the mystery quite nicely. I predict that if you like a bit of new age in your mysteries, you’re going to adore Sunny Meadows!

Quill says: This quirky new age mystery will delight cozy fans who like a blend of excitement, romance, and a big dash of humor in their reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Books Have Arrived for Review!

Here's a sample of the books just in for review.  Check them out and then stop by our site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, in a few weeks to read the reviews.

What Color is the Wind? A Feel Guide to the Out-of-doors for Parents with Young Children by Ed Bieber Based on over 40 years of work (and play!) with many thousands of children in the out-of-doors, this book is Ed's inspired collection of wonder, exploration and discovery. A 'feel' guide for parents with young children, What Color is The Wind provides simple, backyard activities for four seasons, and along the way, opportunities for parents and children to connect with each other and with the earth.

Heart's Blood by Elizabeth Zinn Heart’s Blood is a family saga, spanning two generations, set on the border of southern Arizona. Beginning in the early 1970s, the story follows the life of the central character, Tyler McNeil, from his impulsive (and fateful) decision to leave his itinerant existence, through unexpected parenthood, loss, love, and finally peace in his old age. A cast of colorful characters wander in and out of the tale, sometimes taking center stage, sometimes weaving themselves into the tapestry of the whole. We meet Mana, an illiterate and abused border crosser who bears a child and then vanishes; Lita, her infant daughter whom Ty adopts and raises; the complex and evil Blanco, leader of a powerful drug cartel; the frightening Marcela Beltran, Blanco’s wife, who only eats white food and covets Lita’s daughter; Claire, the love of Ty’s life whose stumbling heart threatens to take her from him; and, CJ, Ty’s natural son who rejects him when he learns of his parenthood. These and many others serve up a hearty mixture of love, hate, murder, compassion, and humor. On one important level, Heart’s Blood is a novel of place, filled with lyrical and cinematic descriptions of the grasslands and vistas of the southern Arizona border, the changing seasons, and the people who are part of the rich mix of rural life at the end of the 20th century. On another level it brims with those themes that scream at us daily from the media about the evils of the drug trade, illegal immigration, human smuggling, and the plight of those caught up in the drama of life on both sides of the border. But at the most fundamental level its themes transcend place and time, for it is a tale of secrets kept and revealed, blood ties versus emotional ties, blood spilled and blood passed on from generation to generation, family to family.

The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery by Bryan Gruley A series of mysterious break-ins is plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. Someone is slipping into the homes of elderly people when they're out playing Bingo. Oddly, the intruders take nothing, despite evidence that they rifle through personal files. Worry turns to panic when a break-in leads to the death of a beloved citizen. Phyllis Bontrager is found dead in the home of her best friend, Bea Carpenter, mother of Gus Carpenter. Bea, suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, remembers little of the break-in. Her son, editor of the local newspaper, must pursue a terrible story: the death of a woman he has known all his life, who also happens to be the mother of his ex-girlfriend, Darlene.

The Conviction by Robert Dugoni Lawyer David Sloane is desperate to get through to his troubled teenaged son Jake. Still reeling from the devastating loss of his mother in a brutal murder, Jake has spiraled out of control and Sloane has barely been able to keep him out of jail. So when his old friend, detective Tom Molia, suggests that Sloane and Jake join him and his son TJ on a camping trip, Sloane gratefully accepts. What Sloane imagines will be the perfect excursion to spend quality time with his son out of harm’s way, turns into a horrifying nightmare when Jake and TJ are caught vandalizing a general store late at night and sentenced by the presiding judge to six months in the county-owned wilderness detention camp, Fresh Start.

Winds of Redemption by Harvey Goodman It's 1872, and young Sammy Winds has a better life than he ever imagined possible. He has a beautiful new bride, and his twenty-thousand acre cattle ranch is the best land in the highlands of New Mexico Territory, worked by Sammy and his tough and talented crew. And, he feels especially fortunate for the chance to help a down and out ex-priest and five orphans get a fresh start. But a black storm looms on the horizon in the form of a ruthless, criminal organization that has plans on taking the finest properties in the territory long before statehood becomes a reality. Now they want Winds' Sky W Ranch and will do anything to get it. In this sequel to Along The Fortune Trail, follow Sammy Winds' heroic life and death struggle as he gives his final measure to keep his land and save the people he loves from the evil that besets them all.

XO: A Kathryn Dance Novel by Jeffery Deaver Kayleigh Towne is gorgeous with a voice that is taking her to the heights of the country pop charts. Her hit single “Your Shadow” puts her happily in the spotlight, until an innocent exchange with one of her fans leads Kayleigh into a dark and terrifying realm. The fan warns, “I’m coming for you,” and soon accidents happen and people close to Kayleigh die. Special Agent Kathryn Dance must use her considerable skills at investigation and body language analysis to stop the stalker—but before long she learns that, like many celebrities, Kayleigh has more than just one fan with a mission.

The Black Stiletto: Black & White by Raymond Benson It's 1959, and Judy Cooper, the Black Stiletto, sets out to confront a dangerous gangster known as the heroin king of Harlem when the teenage daughter of her beloved martial arts instructor ends up a prisoner in an uptown narcotics den. The Stiletto has troubles of her own- a shady filmmaker is threatening to reveal her identity to the world- a close friend of her landlord and substitute father may be in cahoots with the Harlem criminals- she's fighting for racial equality- and she has fallen in love again.this time with an FBI agent who has standing orders to arrest her. Meanwhile the Stiletto's son faces his own blackmail crisis when he finds out that there is a second copy of an 8mm film he found in his mother's strongbox - showing the Black Stiletto unmasked in a film studio dressing room. As he tries to stop the filmmaker's son's extortion plot, he learns that his daughter, Gina, has been brutally assaulted in New York City. The past and the present meet.

Book Review - Jasmine Nights

Jasmine Nights

By: Julia Gregson
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: June 012
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5558-5
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 25, 2012

Set during World War II, this story is beautiful in some areas and really sad and hard to take in others. The story centers around Saba Tarcan, who is in her early 20's and is looking forward to a singing career. She lives with her family in Cardiff, Wales and it is certainly not a really interesting place. Saba feels like most of us felt when we had to get away from the hometown and seek greener pastures. As Saba is traveling around Britain, singing for wounded soldiers, she meets Dom Benson, a fighter pilot who was burned badly when his plane crashed. They have started a relationship when she is asked to audition for the Entertaiment National Service Association that sends entertainers to places in Egypt and Turkey to give shows for soldiers who are fighting in the North African desert.

Much to her parents dismay, Saba signs up with the Association and, leaving Dom behind, she heads off to perform in Cairo. After a recovery period Dom is again able to fly and, in spite of the dangerous missions, he refuses to be grounded and goes back to combat flying. For her part, Saba is very happy in her chosen profession.

Saba is soon contacted by the British Secret Service in the guise of an agent, Mr. Cleeve. Cleeve asks Saba to take part in a secret mission but she will have to conceal her part in the mission from her friends at the Association and Dom too. She is sent off to Istanbul to spy on a very rich Turkish gentleman who is associating with the Germans and doesn't realize that this could be her last gasp because her mission has been kept secret.

Saba and Dom meet again but now they argue all the time. Saba refuses to give up entertaining and Dom wants to go up into the wild blue yonder - they never seem to be able to think alike. There is much time to go yet in the war and these two people want to keep working to help out their countrymen. The story is a well-written one that doesn't make the war years seem like some big love story. Bad things happened to good people, just as in real life, and the reader will appreciate the fact that things were not always rosy in Europe and North Africa and all the horrible places where these young people had to work. This is a powerful account of one such couple.

Quill Says: Checking into some of the entertainment associations during the war, there were many stories of female entertainers who were asked to be spies. This is a story of one such singer (fictionalized) but sadly, the story holds true in what it was like for these women.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Review - Baseball's Best Short Stories

Baseball's Best Short Stories: Sporting's Best Short Stories series

Edited by: Paul Staudohar
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Publication Date: April 2012
ISBN: 978-1613743768
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 23, 2012

Originally published in 1995, this new, expanded edition of Baseball's Best Short Stories includes eight new short stories for a total of 34 tales centered around America's Favorite Pastime. So popular was the original edition, that is sprouted a series of "Best Short Stories" books from all areas of the sports world. After reading this fun, entertaining book, it will be quite apparent why the series has been so popular to sports fans.

The various stories in Baseball's Best Short Stories, written between 1888 to 2008, were all first published in other publications, from Sports Illustrated to The New Yorker. Authors range from those recognizable by sports aficionados such as George Plimpton to others famous for other writings such as Garrison Keillor and Zane Grey. The editor has done an excellent job of selecting a well-rounded variety of stories to highlight in this book and you'll find everything from inspiring, to funny, to goofy and yes, even sad tales within its pages.

Bullet in the Brain by Tobia Wolff is one of the new stories added to this expanded collection. It's the tale of not baseball, but rather a bank robbery. A very cranky book critic, Anders, is stuck in a long line at the bank when two robbers come in to make their fortune. Anders and one of the robbers come to blows and yes, baseball does seep into the story, in a very tragic, yet beautiful way where one can smell the freshly mowed grass and see the sun slowly setting on several boys playing ball.

One of my favorite stories in this collection was Who's On First by Lloyd Biggle Jr. and no, it's not based on the Abbott and Costello routine. It is a very funny, slightly bizarre tale of Muko Zilo, an escapee from the Juvenile Rehabilitation Center on the planet of Philoy, Raff III, Sector 1311 (at least I think it's a planet!). Zilo is about as wide as he is tall (although he isn't very tall) and he just happens to LOVE baseball and is a pretty good player to boot. Of course, there are also plenty of realistic stories such as Smoke by Michael Chabon about Matt Magee, an aging pitcher who attends the team's catcher's funeral. Attending the funeral causes Magee to re-examine his own life, much of it in the context of baseball. Like Smoke, many of the stories in this anthology trigger a wide range of emotions and will undoubtedly bring back fond memories for the reader.

Quill says: Lots of baseball talk, lots of baseball action - this book is the perfect leisurely read for the baseball fan. As the editor noted in the Preface, "Batter Up!" and enjoy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Cozy" Mysteries in for Review

Love "Cozy Mysteries"?  Then check out this tempting selection of new books that just came in for review.  Stop by the mystery section of our review site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, soon to read the reviews.

The Azalea Assault: A Garden Society Mystery by Alyse Carlson
Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’ job to promote them. But when an out of towner turns up dead, she discovers there’s no good way to spin murder…

Hearse and Buggy: An Amish Mystery by Laura Bradford Claire Weatherly has fled a high-stress lifestyle for a slower pace—in Amish country: Heavenly, Pennsylvania. She only planned a short visit but instead found herself opening an Amish specialty shop, Heavenly Treasures, and settling in.Claire loves her new home, and she’s slowly making friends among the locals, including Esther, a young Amish woman who works in the shop. So when the store’s former owner,the unlikable Walter Snow, is murdered, and the man Esther is sweet on becomes a suspect, Claire can’t help but get involved. 

Grace Among Thieves: A Manor House Mystery by Julie Hyzy As curator and manager of the Marshfield Manor, Grace Wheaton is delighted to be part of the estate’s magnificent history, but no one told her solving murder was in her job description…When Grace’s former professor calls to warn her that there have been a rash of thefts at various historical sites, Grace isn’t surprised—because Marshfield Manor has been targeted, too. She wonders if it has something to do with the film crew roaming the grounds, digitally immortalizing the manor, but then she gets distracted by an incident much more dire: the shooting of one guest and the murder of another. 

Threaded for Trouble: A Threadville Mystery by Janet Bolin Welcome back to Threadville, Pennsylvania, where crafts are king, and a “killer” sewing machine lives up to its name…Darlene Coddlefield, the winner of a national sewing competition, has come to Willow Vanderling’s embroidery shop, In Stitches, to be presented with a top-of-the-line Chandler Champion sewing and embroidery machine as her prize. But Darlene’s triumph is short-lived after she’s found dead under her sewing table, apparently crushed by the heavy machine. 

Corpse in the Crystal Ball: A Fortune Teller Mystery by Kari Lee Townsend Psychic Sunshine Meadows makes a dark discovery in the woods…After clearing her name as the prime suspect in a murder, Sunny Meadows hopes she can finally enjoy some serenity in the idyllic town of Divinity in upstate New York. She’d also like a second chance with Detective Mitch Stone. But when Mitch’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend Isabel Gonzales shows up, Sunny’s not sure she can compete. Then Isabel mysteriously disappears. 

Hot Button: A Button Box Mystery by Kylie Logan Button collector Josie Giancola has a sharp eye for detail, and a love for keeping things together. But when a murder interrupts her button business, she’s always ready to snap into action…As chairwoman of an international conference for button collectors, Josie has plenty to worry about. Between greeting collectors, overseeing the dinner cruise, and attending to the many needs of the guest of honor, Thad Wyant, she barely has time to deal with her gorgeous ex-husband…let alone a dead body. 

Unraveled: A Knitting Mystery by Maggie Sefton Spring is in the air of Fort Connor, Colorado-a time of new beginnings for the House of Lambspun knitters. But for fellow knitter Jennifer's new real estate client, it is his end. He's been murdered and Kelly Flynn is left unraveling a tangle of clues. This may prove to be her most challenging project yet. 

Quilt or Innocence: A Southern Quilting Mystery by Elizabeth Craig

Book Review - Soft Target

Soft Target

By: Stephen Hunter
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1451675344
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 2012

America, the Mall, an enormous mall on the outskirts of Minneapolis is abuzz with excitement. It is Black Friday and the huge mall is jam-packed with shoppers trying to get the latest deal. The amusement park rides are running and a little girl is sitting on Santa's lap, telling the jolly man what she wants for Christmas. All is well until somebody shoots and kills Santa while the little girl talks. Chaos breaks out as a terrorist group, the "Mumbai Brigade," herds all the panicked shoppers into the center of the mall where they plan to kill helpless shoppers and get their message out to the world.

Ray Cruz, who many readers will have met from Hunter's previous book, Dead Zero, is in the mall shopping with Molly, his fiancée when the terrorists strike. A retired Marine sniper, he may be the only hope for the 1,000 shoppers being held hostage. After seeing to the safety of Molly and some other shoppers who he hides in the back of a store, Ray goes to work.

This rapid pace thriller takes place all in one day, in fact, within seven hours it's all over. There isn't much time for Ray, or the reader, to take a breath as there is something happening on every page. The action shifts between Ray, the terrorists, a news crew, other snipers, as well as the police. Add in a bit of cyber warfare, and a storeowner with an agenda, and you'll be eager to find out if there's more to the terror attack than a group of teenage boys with guns. Without a doubt, the sections featuring Ray are the standouts and while his fiancée fades to the background, keep an eye out for Lavela Oates. Ms. Oates was doing her best to get through her first day of work at a day care center in the mall and she's not about to lose her job over some crazed jihadists. While some may find the Somali terrorists a bit too predictable in their insane plans, others will see this as a great action thriller and a story line that could well happen one day.

Quill says: Those who like their thrillers to start fast and never let up, won't be disappointed with Soft Target.

Books In For Review

Here's a sample of the books that have recently arrived for review.  Check them out then stop by in a few weeks to read the reviews.

Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love by Sebastian Cole
Noah Hartman, eighty years old, lies sick in a hospital bed recounting his life of love and loss to Josh, in his sixties, a wise and compassionate orderly who stopped in to bring him dinner. As Noah's loved ones arrive one by one to see him, they listen in on his story, and we're transported back in time to Noah's younger years. Though outwardly seeming to have it all, Noah, now thirty-five, is actually an empty, lost, and broken man running on automatic pilot. He has no true identity due to having allowed his powerful, wealthy parents to manipulate, control, and brainwash him from a young age. With the threat of disinheritance and withholding love and approval if he doesn't comply with the plan they have for his life, Noah is lured in by the reward of great wealth and the illusion of running the family business empire some day. In truth, however, Noah is like a regular, everyday guy living a life that was not meant for him.

Dark Soul by Don Castle An African-American girl is shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop - a female FBI agent is drugged, kidnapped and severely tortured - and a prominent neighborhood has been targeted for racial profiling and hate crimes - but why? Jake Somers finds himself dealing with a maniacal criminal - an injured dog - a bad guy with an AK47 assault rifle - and an attempt on his mother's life. 

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter It starts out as a simple shopping trip with his fiancee. But suddenly, retired marine sergeant Ray Cruz, whom we met in Hunter’s last bestseller, Dead Zero, is in the middle of the softest target of all, a huge emporium outside Minneapolis where a self-styled “Mumbai Brigade” has come to bring massive death to the heartland. Hunter flashes over the events as if in real time: the assembly of the killer team composed of terrorists from one of the world’s hellholes, but led by a nihilistic insider who knows the mall backwards and forwards and has taken over the security software as well as the vast building and 1,000 hostages; the politics of SWAT as officials argue over tactics outside while the killing goes on inside; the panic in the halls of the death zone, as hostages are herded to an amusement park. As the clock ticks on, the terrorists begin to execute their captives. But they don’t know Ray Cruz is in the building....

Sea Change by Karen White After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. This book was nominated for the prestigious RITA award in 2001 in two separate categories. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including another RITA, the Georgia Author of the Year Award and in 2008 won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Learning to Breathe.

The Diva Digs Up the Dirt (A Domestic Diva Mystery) by Krista Davis Determined not to be a garden-variety diva, Sophie Winston’s neighbor Natasha cultivates a plan to shine on television -- using Sophie’s backyard.  As the cast and crew of the make-over show Tear it Up with Troy bulldoze through her backyard -- and vacation -- Sophie retreats to her perennial boyfriend Wolf’s to replace a dead rosebush.  But her tender deed goes awry when she digs up a purse belonging to Wolf’s missing wife. As speculations sprout, Wolf bolts, and then a body crops up in a garden.  Is Wolf’s thorny past raising an ugly head? This is one case the domestic diva can’t let wilt on the vine.

The Azalea Assault (A Garden Society Mystery) by Alyse Carlson Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’ job to promote them. But when an out of towner turns up dead, she discovers there’s no good way to spin murder…

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book Review - The Second-Last Woman in England

The Second-Last Woman in England

By: Maggie Joel
Publisher: Felony & Mayhem
Publication Date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1934609996
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 20, 2012

If you don't want to know how the story you're about to read ends before you read it, then you may not want to read this review because there's really no way to review The Second-Last Woman in England without giving away the ending. You see, the prologue tells us exactly what happens to the protagonist of the book, Mrs. Harriet Wallis. On a grey November morning in 1953, she was the second-last woman in England to be hanged. On Coronation Day, 1953, she shot her husband Cecil six times in front of several witnesses. The question is, why? To learn the answer, you must read the book. And after reading the prologue, you'll want to read the book to quench your curiosity.

Chapter one picks up the pervious year, nine months before the murder in September of 1952. All seems well in the upper middle class Wallis household. Harriet is busy interviewing Miss Jean Corbett, a possible new nanny for her two children, Julius and Anne. When the police come to the house to ask Mr. Wallis about one of the employees at the shipping company where he works, Harriet becomes curious and listens in from another room. It seems that the employee, Mr. Rocastle, had been embezzling from the company and has now disappeared. What might Cecil know?

The story progresses through the next nine months, telling bits and pieces of Harriet's story, mixed in with those of Jean and Cecil's. We meet Harriet's brothers Simon and Freddie, and the tangled lives they've lived. There are numerous flashbacks, telling of Harriet's past travels and experiences, as well as Jean's horrific life during the War.

The author does a nice job of setting the pace and bringing the reader into the post-war 1950's, where rationing was necessary and many people struggled amid the bombed out buildings of London. While most of the country struggles, Harriet and Cecil attend frequent parties held for the upper tier of society and worry about seemingly irrelevant things. Jean does her best to care for the Wallis's two children and rebuild her life and gets little to no help (emotional or financial) from her employers.

Wondering what made Harriet, a seemingly happy, well-to-do wife, kill her husband in cold blood will keep the reader involved through the end of the story. However, while the story was well-written, it was hard to like Harriet, who seemed rather cold and empty. Her treatment of Jean, while appropriate for the time period, added to the dislike of her character. It left a bit of a void in the story that keeps the reader from truly caring. In addition, although there are a few twists and turns and the reason for the murder might be unexpected, there wasn't a big, suspenseful buildup, but rather a slow progression to the end that kept the book from being truly satisfying.

Quill says: While not a nail-bitter, The Second-Last Woman in England was a fun mystery story for a lazy afternoon read.

Book Review - The Diva Digs Up Dirt

The Diva Digs Up the Dirt (A Domestic Diva Mystery)

By: Krista Davis
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251348
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 16, 2012

Desdemona practically lunged at Sophie Winston like a Venus Flytrap getting ready to engulf its prey. She wanted her to find her “little Anemone,” Linda, who had been missing for five years. Seriously, Sophie was not Jessica Fletcher, but rather an event planner who had coincidentally solved a few murders. All her Old Town nosy neighbors, including Francie Vanderhoosen, Olive Greene and her best friend, Nina Reid Norwood, would hear about Mona’s antics AND lies before the day was out. Sophie had her hands full getting ready to plan Roscoe and Princess Mindy’s Greene’s annual party, a party his ex-wife, Olive wouldn’t be attending. Not ever.

Sophie decided to pick up a rosebush and head over to her perennial boyfriend’s house and plant it in his backyard. Her own backyard would soon be invaded by hunk Troy Gardner and his “Tear It Up with Troy” gang for one of those reality shows. It was one of Natasha’s meddling projects and when the backhoe went through her fence it was a bit much. It wasn’t quite as bad as the dung doo problem at Roscoe’s when piles of manure landed in his yard, but still. Wolf was a homicide detective and Soph hoped a little feminine touch in his backyard would be appreciated.

Sophie was prepping the soil for the rosebush when all of a sudden she struck something and it wasn’t liquid gold. It was a handbag, “a nightmare wrapped up in good leather.” Mona quickly flounced into the yard, as well as any elderly Southern belle could, and began to scream. “My baby! He killed my baby!” Her “Linda” was none other than Anne Fleishman, Wolf’s missing wife. Olive always maintained he’d killed her, but it suddenly dawned on Sophie that she just might be dating a killer, a married one at that. The nightmare was only beginning. A mysterious theft, poisonous posies, and something even better awaited her at Roscoe’s...a hand peeking out from underneath a mulch pile!

Sophie Winston, Old Town’s darling diva, definitely knows how to dish up a murder...southern style. This fast-paced, zany mystery will delight old-time fans and charm the new with it’s tightly woven plot and quirky characters. The mystery was sometimes as dark and deep as that of du Maurier’s Manderley mansion in “Rebecca,” but more often than not will make the reader howl with glee with all the twists and turns of the plot. It isn’t often that the discovery of a corpse will bring tears to one’s eyes from unabashed laughter, but Davis does just that. As soon as I was convinced that I’d caught the murderer, another character would become suspect. The whodunit could have been almost anyone, but just who was it? Was it Olive, Audie, Violet, Roscoe, Wolf, Princess Mindy...

Quill says: If you like your cozies quirky, over-the-top funny, and hard to solve, Krista Davis can definitely dig one up for you!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview with Author Thomas J. Foley

Today we're talking with Thomas J. Foley, author of Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected

FQ: - You mention several times that Bulger’s reputation, particularly in South Boston, was of a sort of Robin Hood. Did he actually ever do anything to help the residents of South Boston that promoted this image, or was it a complete myth?

Whatever he did he did to promote and maintain this false image. It has been told that he helped the elderly and the poor but we found those stories to be more hype than fact. He and his supporters also claimed that he kept drugs out of the South Boston neighborhoods while law enforcement was aware that he was profiting from the drug trade.

FQ: You make it very clear that Whitey Bulger was no Robin Hood, that he was an incredibly cold-hearted, sadistic killer. If there was one thing you’d like people to know about him, what would it be?

That he was ruthless and how his victims suffered. If you read the accounts of how his victims died you would understand that he was no Robin Hood.

FQ: As a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, and alum of the University of Massachusetts where Billy Bulger was President, I find it odd that so many of my fellow residents know little to nothing about the Bulger family. Whereas the New York mobsters seemed to hold almost celebrity status, the Massachusetts mob seemed to stay under the radar. Would you agree with this assessment and if so, why do you think the Massachusetts mob was largely unknown by the public?

Bulger and his crew were not the average run of the mill organized crime group. Boston had its share of celebrity type gangsters just like New York. A lot has been written about the Patriarca/Anguilo crime family that was once part of La Cosa Nostra or Mafia in Boston. They were known as traditional organized crime, following the same culture and structure of other mafia groups throughout the country. They were organized and disciplined with titles such as boss, underboss, consigliere, capo, and soldier. In contrast was the so called Irish organized crime group operating around the same time in the Boston area. In the 1960’s Boston had several of these groups and after lengthy gang wars the Winter Hill Gang emerged. Bulger was part of this group known for their ability to strike at their enemies in a military type manner efficiently disposing of the problem. The mafia in Boston feared and respected the Winter Hill Gang and both operated in a somewhat peaceful coexistence as far as organized crime goes. Bulger’s ability to stay under the radar screen for some time was directly related to the public relations effort making him out to be a “not that bad a guy” and the FBI’s efforts to protect him. Law enforcement knew how dangerous he was but it took time to peel away the layers of false reports and image building over the years. In addition his brother Billy held the most powerful political position in the State as State Senate president. There was little appetite by those in powerful positions to take him on. Bill controlled the legislature and Whitey controlled the streets.

FQ: At the Greek diner, the Busy Bee, you mention doing surveillance and winding up sitting just one booth over from Steve Flemmi, one of Bulger’s associates. Would you tell our readers a bit about that experience?

The challenge that faces organized crime investigators is to be able to maintain constant surveillance of organized crime members activities without being detected. Cases are built on criminal conversations when OC members gather. In this particular case, at the Busy Bee restaurant in Brookline just down the street from Fenway Park, Flemmi and Mafia boss Frank Salemme met with others on a regular basis. Blending in with the other partrons we tried to get as close as possible. We tried to overhear their conversations and at the same time tried to “bug” the booths they were sitting in. Our team had good success on a regular basis but it was always a challenge; a challenge to overhear incriminating conversations and a challenge not to be detected.

FQ: The descriptions of the murders of Steve Flemmi’s girlfriends, Debbie Davis and Debbie Hussey, by Bulger were quite upsetting. It really shed light on Bulger’s horrific, brutal personality. After questioning Kevin Weeks about the murders, were you able to go home and not "bring work home with you"?

I think it was these murders that really drove us and made us so determined to bring Bulger to justice. As difficult as it was to listen to the gory details of these murders at the same time it was uplifting in that our case against Bulger was being strengthened. Finally we had eye witness testimony and the bodies to prove what we had been saying for years; mainly that Bulger was an animal not that harmless guy that many tried to portray him as. Those in law enforcement who protected him and defended him for so long could no longer do so when the bones of his victims including both Debbie Hussey and Debbie Davis were being pulled from shallow graves after tortuous deaths. Difficult for us to live with; yes. But it was making the case to bring Bulger to justice.

FQ: Is Catherine Greig, Bulger’s girlfriend, also awaiting trial? What is likely to happen to her? Is she still "a real ball buster"?

Catherine Greig has plead guilty to related charges. She is to be sentenced this June. She has tried to portray herself as an innocent bystander but she is far from it.

FQ: So many people would have given up long before seeing Whitey Bulger brought to justice. Between the threats and FBI cover-ups/misinformation, how did you keep going?

Our job was to investigate organized crime. Bulger was the most dangerous and ruthless organized crime figure in Boston for many years. When we targeted him we soon found out that Bulger’s activities were only part of the problem. Corruption in law enforcement directly related to Bulger’s criminal activities soon began to make an organized crime case expand into a deep and complicated public corruption investigation. For us to quit, like others had done in the past, would mean we would become part of the problem. It was our job and we knew it was time for this to end.

FQ: One of the things I kept wondering as I read your book was that your wife must have been incredibly understanding – and worried. Did your investigation of such a dangerous criminal put a strain on your relationship?

Our team was fortunate to have understanding wives in a business that I can only describe as extremely demanding and challenging. Often we didn’t tell our wives of all we were involved in so that they didn’t worry and at other times they were the ones we relied on when we needed to talk. I know my wife understood the importance of our work and what we were up against. She made so very difficult a time a lot more bearable.

FQ: Will you be attending the trail (and/or testifying) of Whitey Bulger?

Yes..I will be attending the trial. I have testified in other related trials but have not been told if I will be needed to testify at this time.

To learn more about Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review - Grace Among Thieves

Grace Among Thieves (A Manor House Mystery)

By: Julie Hyzy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251393
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 16, 2012

Emberstowne’s Marshfield Manor was once again quiet, exuding a more stylish and elegant aura. Grace Wheaton was back on the job as curator and manager of the estate, preparing to help Corbin Shaw produce a DVD touting the finer points of the North Carolina mountain manor. Advertisement was good for business, but corpses simply were not. Grace’s predecessor, Abe Vargas, and Zachary Kincade had been murdered in the manse and the last thing she needed to do was dwell on it. Detectives Flynn and Rodriguez, two of the worst bumbling officers the Carolinas had to offer, could manage without her assistance.

Bennett Marshfield, owner of the Manor, was quite fond of Grace, or Gracie as he preferred to call her. His demeanor was as elegant and appealing as his home, which in part served as a museum. A polite way to put it was that he was a “very upscale hoarder,” something that served the public well. The one thing that didn’t serve him well was his stepdaughter, Hillary, who used him for an ATM machine and a man-magnet. Whenever her toadies found out she wasn’t actually an heiress they hoofed it off like Secretariat at the Kentucky Derby. One horse’s patoot Grace was glad to get rid of was her former beau, Jack Embers. Least ways she pretended to be.

Grace had little time for “her highness” and her inane desire to be a movie star because John Kitts had a late-day tour arriving. Another thorn in her side was the mysterious disappearance of valuable artifacts from both the Kane and Marshfield manors. Grace would soon encounter yet another when Lenore Honore, an OCD member of the tour, decided to play touchy feely with Marshfield’s personal belongings...that is before someone decided to snap her neck and toss her down the stairwell. Apparently, it just wasn’t going to be her day. Frances, Grace’s decidedly disagreeable assistant calmly probed, “How come we never had any murders at Marshfield before you got here?” She couldn’t answer that one, but when she received a note claiming, “You’re dead. You just don’t know it yet,” she knew there might just be another murder at the Manor...hers!

Murder and mayhem at the Marshfield Manor is once again on Grace Wheaton’s to-do list. Murder, a deep dark secret, and a new romance turns this “Manor House Mystery” into a recipe for a decadently scrumptious southern special. The mystery had just the right touch of sophistication that fans of the series have come to expect with Bennett Marshfield and Grace on board. Hillary Singletary, Grace’s “nosy assistant,” Frances, Ronny Tooney, and the two Keystone Kops, Flynn and Rodriguez gave a nice, lightly humorous balance to the tale. The action cracked in all the right places with a little bit of romance to glue it all together. If you like your mysteries served up with a sweet southern style twist, amateur detective, Ms. Grace Wheaton, will gladly take you on a tour!

Quill says: Grace Wheaton is the type of sophisticated southern sleuth that cozy fans will adore!

Book Review - The Sadness of the Samurai

The Sadness of the Samurai

By: Victor del Arbol
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publishing Date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9475-6
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 16, 2012

In a brief preface, taking place in a hospital in Barcelona in the spring of 1981, a woman, Maria Bengoecha, is on her deathbed. She’s under police guard because she is about to stand trial for murder. Maria was accused of plotting the escape from prison of a man who she had previously prosecuted for murder. Maria is a lawyer, as you have probably figured out. As readers will ponder the event that brought Maria to this place, we will be taken back to 1941 in Merida, Spain.

Enter Isabel Mola (in 1941), another woman who is in a mess of trouble. Isabel is trying to get away from her viscious, Facist husband, who has mistreated her frequently and forced her to leave with their young son, leaving another son behind. Isabel has a lover, who will eventually betray her and drag them back to her husband. All this comes down to a Facist bid for power in pro-Nazi Spain and what happens there. Most historians will get this part.

The novel goes back and forth between accounts of the lives of Maria and Isabel and will eventually connect the two. Things were so disturbing in Spain during both time periods and the author does not gloss over this aspect of the story as the lives of these two women unfold.

This is an extremely violent book that will definitely set the scene for blood and gore and may overwhelm some readers. It is also a translation and sometimes things do not translate well. Between the jumping between the time periods (1941 and 1981) and the translation, the text can be rather confusing in places. Readers may have to re-read a few sections as well as have some knowledge of Spanish history for a full understanding of the story. The Sadness of the Samurai is the first of this author's books to be translated into English, and is a difficult thriller and will require the reader to be patient to avoid being confused.

Quill Says: This can be an extremely difficult book to read in places as there is much cruelty to women. If you can move beyond the violence, and don't get lost in some of the side stories, it is overall a good read.

Magic Treehouse 20th Anniversary



National Literacy Programs, Theatrical Projects and Philanthropic Initiatives
to Launch Throughout Celebratory Year

Magic Tree House, the award-winning children’s series that is widely regarded among teachers and parents alike for its power to instill a passion for reading, celebrates its 20th anniversary. Written by Mary Pope Osborne, the series has sold more than 100 million books and has been translated into 32 different languages in 100 countries.

To celebrate this major milestone, a calendar of national literacy endeavors, theatrical projects, philanthropic initiatives and publishing releases have been scheduled throughout the year. Following is a brief description and timing of each event:

Online Literacy Program
Classroom Adventures Program is a free, comprehensive set of online educational resources for teachers. Complete with lesson plans, curriculum guides and creative activities, the Classroom Adventures Program, which launched earlier this year, incorporates every book in the series including the nonfiction Fact Tracker titles, enabling teachers to build upon students’ interest in Jack and Annie’s adventures, while simultaneously meeting core curriculum standards across a multitude of subjects.

Theatrical Projects and Tour
Read! Read! Read! A Magic Tree House Live Adventure is a live Jack & Annie musical with meet and greet for kids, complete with book stampings and photo-ops. It will be performed at SeaWorld San Antonio on April 21 and then for four weeks at the California State Fair in July with several local charity tie-ins.

Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans, a musical featuring original music by legendary New Orleans composer Allen Toussaint and based on Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts celebrating the life of Louis Armstrong, will introduce children across the country to jazz. Co-written by Will Osborne and Murray Horwitz, the musical will be previewed in April and will premiere at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as part of the James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival in October.

Publishing Schedule
Magic Tree House #49: A Perfect Time for Pandas – the 49th book in the Magic Tree House series to be published on July 24, 2012.
Magic Tree HouseFact Tracker #26: Pandas and Other Endangered Species to be published on July 24, 2012.
Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark – The first book in the series, originally published in 1992, will now be available as a full-Color 20th Anniversary Edition, published on September 25, 2012.
Magic Tree House #44: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time to be published on September 25, 2012 in trade paperback.

All Magic Tree House books are available in print, as e-booksand Listening Library audio books, which are all narrated by Mary Pope Osborne.

Author Activities
Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce will embark on a three-city tour in the Fall.

An anniversary video is now available:

National philanthropic initiatives will be announced separately in the Spring. Publishing activities will be supported by national consumer print and online advertising campaign, as well as retail promotional activities and events.

Teachers and kids can experience more of the Magic Tree House fun at:

Mary Pope Osborne is the award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, including novels, retellings of mythology and folklore, picture books, biographies, and mysteries. From 1993-1997, Ms. Osborne served as president of the Authors Guild, the country’s leading organization for published authors. She has traveled extensively in the US and abroad, visiting schools and speaking on issues related to children’s literacy. She recently spoke at the UN regarding the importance of worldwide literacy. She lives in Connecticut with her husband.

Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, and ebooks, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. The company’s website, Kids@Random ( offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann AG, a leading international media company.