Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review - Blockade Billy

Blockade Billy

By: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: May 2010
ISBN: 978-1451608212
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: August 1, 2012

"There was something strange about him, something off, something that made folks nervous..." William "Blockade Billy" Blakely was a last minute replacement for not one, but two catchers who met with accidents right before the baseball season opened. There was no expectation that he'd do well, but the New Jersey Titans needed a catcher and were desperate. So up from the minors came Blakely, and while he was a little "off," he could stop a ball, and an opponent, like no other.

The story opens with an old man in a nursing home telling Stephen King the story of Blockade Billy. We soon learn that the old man is George Granny Grantham, the long since retired third-base coach of the Titans. Billy, he recalls, was called up from the farm team and it was soon apparent that he was a young man of few words. But that didn't matter once his talents were exposed. Billy was a strong hitter and nobody got past him trying to slide into home plate. The fans loved him, holding up signs such as "Road Closed" and "Bloh-KADE!" Okay, so he talked to himself and often spoke of Billy in the third person. Quirky? Yup, but he was an invaluable member of the team so who cared?

Since this is a Stephen King short story, we know that there is more to Billy that initially meets the eye. And at just 80 short pages, it doesn't take long to discover what the mystery is. While a fun story, it certainly doesn't rank among the creepiest of King's. The language is also a bit "spicy," and because it revolves tightly around baseball, will likely appeal primarily to baseball fans. Still, if you are a Stephen King fan, I'd recommend adding this one to your collection.

This edition of Blockade Billy contains a second short story, Morality. In this tale, we meet Chad and Nora, a seemingly happy couple. Chad works as a substitute teacher while working on his novel, and Nora works as a visiting nurse, caring for an elderly, retired minister, Winnie, who is recovering from a stroke. Money is tight, so when Winnie proposes a deal in which Nora will have to do something illegal but unlikely to land her in jail, in exchange for $200,000, she and Chad must make a big decision. Of course there'd be no story if they passed on the offer, the question is, what will happen once Nora "does the dead"? The tale doesn't hold any real surprises, but does bring home the fact that money doesn't buy happiness.

Quill says: Typical quirky King, Blockade Billy certainly won't rank as one of King's best short stories, but it is a satisfying read for a Saturday afternoon.

Authors and Social Media

Interesting article on using Social Media to promote books and why it may not be the great promotion vehicle so many claim it to be:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Time is Running Out!

Time is running out to enter this month's book giveaway contest.  This month we have a wonderful children's book, Journey Around New York from A to Z by Martha & Heather Zschock.  All you have to do is fill out a simple contest form on our website.  No obligation, and there are absolutely no hidden charges (no shipping charges, etc.).  If you have a young one, this is the perfect opportunity to add to his/her library.  Follow this link and good luck!

Book Review - How to Dine on Killer Wine

How to Dine on Killer Wine: A Party-Planning Mystery

By: Penny Warner
Publisher: Obsidian
Publication Date: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0451237866
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 2012

Presley Parker was pumping herself up for one of her “Killer Parties,” and was learning how to appreciate the finer qualities of wine. She didn’t appear to be Chef Rocco Ghirenghelli’s most talented wine aficionados when her roll-around-the-mouth bit made her look more like she was sampling Lavoris. Presley was a seriously “wine-disabled student,” but she was one heck of an event-planner and her upcoming wine-tasting event for Rob and Marie Christopher would undoubtedly be wildly successful and go off without a hitch. One, two, three ... whiff, swish, let it “play” on the palate. Got it. Urrhmm, nope. Maybe she’d better practice a bit more.

Even Presley’s boyfriend, Brad Matthews, looked more sophisticated driving his SUV with the crime scene cleaner logo on the side, but by the time she showed up at the Christopher’s Tuscany-style mansion, she’d be a pro. They owned the Purple Grape and were throwing a party to introduce their new line. Independent Napa growers were being trounced on by Napology, who was trying to buy them out and then there was that “wine pest,” JoAnne Douglas. Everything had to be “green” or she was going to throw a hissy fit. She was known for threatening people, the type of person who wasn’t exactly known for winning friends and influencing others.

Victoria, Presley’s mother who had early-onset Alzheimers, was hot to trot and appeared to be falling for Larry, her bingo buddy, but the party must go on. And it did. Sleazeball lawyer Kyle Bennett was hitting on Presley, the new merlot was a hit, and the Grape-Stomping River Dancers were gonna stomp. The guests were raving that the party was “off the hook,” but everyone had overlooked one little problem. “Oh no. Presley. Not another dead body,” Victoria exclaimed to her daughter. Someone had bludgeoned Ms. Douglas with a bottle of merlot and for good measure stabbed her with a corkscrew. Had they been frolicking all the time with a corpse under the table? And then there was the floater. Would Presley be able to figure out whodunit before she became the third one?

Presley Parker has once again planned a killer party, a real corker. The lighthearted nature of the plot and daffy way Presley went about solving this whodunit made the tale very relaxing and popcorn popping fun. Of course her partner, her mother Victoria, pointed her to the bingo hall where “a wealth of information” was awaiting them. This is one of those perfect beach books where Presley, a wannabe Jessica Fletcher, bumbles and stumbles onto clues that lead her right to the culprit (and almost to her own demise). This tale is as delectable as a fine Napa wine and as amusing as a bottle of “Two-Buck Chuck” on sale. If you like your cozy mysteries a tad on the silly side, you’ll love this one!

Quill says: How to Dine on Killer Wine has dazzle, pizzazz, and the bouquet of fine cozy mystery. Magnifique!

Book Review - Chihuahua of the Baskervilles

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles
By: Esri Allbritten
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1250007094
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: August 2012

At a spry seventy years, Charlotte Baskerville is enjoying the success of her labors. Her company, Petey’s Closet, a clothing company for Chihuahuas and other small canines, is quite profitable. Unfortunately, Charlotte’s husband Thomas thinks she’s rather batty and would love to have her committed. Add in a cast of oddball employees, from Ivan, the Siberian dog trainer, to Ellen, the designer who holds a grudge, and you have a story that promises a great start to a new cozy mystery series.

One night as she’s getting ready for bed, Charlotte hears the very unique bark of Petey, her beloved Chihuahua who was the inspiration for the company and who, alas, has also passed on to the great dog house in the sky. Charlotte rushes outside to see the ghost of Petey floating through the backyard. Ivan, Ellen, Cheri (Charlotte’s granddaughter), and Thomas hear the commotion and come outside to investigate, but by the time they arrive, all they can find are a few paw prints. Did Charlotte really see a ghost?

Anxious to learn whether she truly saw a ghost, Charlotte calls on Tripping Magazine, a publication dedicated to traveling to spots with a paranormal connection. Once the three person magazine crew of Angus, Michael and Suki arrive, the fun really starts. Surely they’ll be able to determine if a real ghost appeared.

The ghost of Petey (or is it something else?) appears again and this time, Thomas is bent on proving his wife is imagining the ghost. With the full cast in tow, the ghost is chased from the Baskerville’s backyard to the front, with Thomas in the lead. Unfortunately, ghosts can run through oncoming cars and husbands can’t so when Thomas chases the ghost into the street, he gets hit and is pronounced deader than the ghost of Petey.

With the investigation in full swing, Angus, Michael and Suki work together to solve the murder, finding lots of clues along the way. When they discover Charlotte’s will, it becomes clear that several people had a motive to hurt Charlotte but why Thomas? Granted, he was a pain in the butt who wasn’t particularly well liked, but killing him? Maybe it really was a ghost.

This cozy mystery is quite lighthearted in parts, with sections that will make you laugh. The dialogue is crisp and believable, as though you’re sitting around the family table with people who have known each other forever. Set in a town in Colorado known for its ghostly connections, there are some truly odd scenes, such as the re-enacted wake and the annual coffin race. While the guilty confess all too easily at the end, you will be guessing right up till those last few pages just who, or what, is responsible, for the strange events at the Baskerville house.

Quill says: A strong start to a new cozy series. Hopefully, we’ll see more of the gang from Tripping Magazine as they travel the country solving paranormal crimes.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Review - Dead in Red

Dead in Red: A Jeff Resnick Mystery

By: L. L. Bartlett
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: March 2011
ISBN: 978-1461010982
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 30, 2012

Baseball bats are known for bashing in brains, but in Jeff Resnick’s case, one actually bashed something in. He’d actually seen that bat coming at him when he was mugged, but the result was quite startling. It left him with an uncanny psychic ability, “bursts of insight” into the unknown. Simply touching a person or their possessions would bring him into their world and enabled him to have this freaky insight into things he’d sometimes rather not see. Jeff wasn’t exactly Magnum, P.I. living in a mansion, but rather at the mercy of his physician half-brother, Richard Alpert, living in an apartment above his garage.

Things could have been a lot worse, but he’d seen better days. Lots better. Jeff’s insight, along with the help of Richard, had almost snuffed out his brother’s life, but had solved the murder of that banker. It wasn’t exactly something that endeared him to Brenda Stanley, Richard’s significant other, but she loved him anyway. Jeff had to get out of his apartment so he got off his duff and snagged a job at The Whole Nine Yards. The sudden opening came up when Walt Kaplan, the previous bartender, was stabbed forty-six times and dumped near the Old Red Mill.

Walt’s cousin, Tom Link, was Jeff’s new boss. He knew about Jeff’s gift and wanted him to find the killer. Jeff and Richard headed to the roped off crime scene to see if he could get an impression, but it was an ugly one. Walt’s “milky eyes” were staring up at clouds he’d never see again. Jeff also saw a red stiletto shoe embellished with gaudy sequins. When he sat at Cyn Lennox’s desk to question her, he saw a face awash with fear and panic. He knew Walt had sat at the desk, but why? The cops pinned the murder on Craig Buchanan, some homeless guy. Jeff began envisioning a pair of bloodied hands with a “rivulet of scarlet cascading down a wrist.” Whose were they? His? Jeff had to find out because the killer was going to strike again ... soon.

This stunningly freakish paranormal P.I. mystery will keep the reader glued to the pages. I’ve read a couple of books in this series, but each one is a captivating stand-alone mystery. Jeff Resnick, along with his uncanny insight, quickly moves into the seedy underground world of drag queens, into bar brawls, and the mind of a murderer. The paranormal aspect of the investigation was so well outlined, it was almost believable. Nothing was spelled out, but rather came in flashes as they came to Jeff, sometimes in an unexpected manner. The mystery swirls into the far reaches of the mind, drawing the reader into the unknown ... the mind of a murderer. If you like your murder served up with a touch of the unknown, Jeff Resnick will take you there.

Quill says: Police procedurals have nothing over the paranormal and Jeff Resnick's ability to solve a murder!

DVD Review - The Forsyte Saga

The Forsyte Saga Collection-DVD

By: John Galsworthy
Publisher: Acorn Media
Publishing Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59828-871-1 (DVD collection)
Reviewed by: Mary and Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 28, 2012

When Jane Austen and the world of technology came together in the 20th century it was exciting. Why? Because with the invention of movies, television and then, DVD’s, a true reader could actually watch a perfect piece of literature come to life on the screen. Whether or not you like the book or the movie better is neither here nor there, what matters is that the characters enter your household and leave a lasting imprint on your imagination. THIS is The Forsyte Saga. THIS is yet another amazing gift for readers to watch and learn all about the pride, wealth and ups-and-downs of societal Britain during some of the most turbulent times in history.

The story truly wraps around the character of Soames Forsyte. This is a man who represents the higher echelon of society and loves the 1800’s London world. He’s a man of property who sees his future in the form of the lovely Irene – who he begins to pursue like a hungry lion chasing after a doe with only marriage in mind. Irene is not really fond of Soames, but when her stepmother tells her they will soon be destitute, Irene approaches Soames and accepts his proposal.

Now the Forsyte clan is beyond wealthy, and Soames is the manager of all that wealth who demands that the family be respectable. Soon they are celebrating the engagement of June Forsyte, daughter of Jolyon; Jolyon was cast out of the family for leaving his wife and running away with the governess (a major slip-up, which made Soames put him on the ‘out’ list). June's fiancĂ© is a young architect named, Philip Bosinney. When June introduces Philip to her relatives, she singles out Irene, whom she has become very friendly with. What she doesn’t realize is that Irene is looking for love – real love. Soames treats Irene as yet another piece of property instead of a soulmate (even though he is completely in love and obsessed with her). So the ALWAYS unhappy Irene decides to begin a love affair with June’s prospective groom and, to make matters even worse, the independent outcast, Jolyon, comes back into the picture.

These situations get everyone into a mess as Soames’ ownership of Irene spawns a horrific moment that results in Irene running away and separating from Soames for the next ten years. Soames wants a child and truly wanted that child from Irene, so he tries to get her back into his life. What happens? He drives her into the arms of another family member.

What goes around comes around, so to speak, and Irene bears a son while Soames sires a daughter. And this son and daughter end up falling for one another, yet their parents won’t allow them to be together because of the awful secret that the family holds. The daughter’s name is Fleur, and she is JUST like her father. A Daddy’s girl through and through, she will not be told that she can’t have the man she wants and throws herself into the love affair body and soul.

This story runs from the Victorian era straight into the beginning of the 1920’s. The changes in the world make Soames shudder at times. From women’s rights to allowing them to ride horses in the Park to motorcars that fill the skies with black smoke – these are issues that Soames despises. He wants to bring back the good old days when respect and wealth went hand-in-hand. Not to mention keep his beloved daughter far away from Irene’s son.

This is the beginning of Galsworthy’s saga about the Forsyte family. This first trilogy opened the door for him to write two more, which showed how the later generations dealt with the wars, financial problems, lost loves and changes in the world. This is a classic story; extremely well written and amazingly well acted. You’ll get emotionally involved with the characters – hating them one minute and loving them the next. Galsworthy’s words put the modern love stories to shame proving, once again, that we need more of these tales and far less of the ‘fanged and furry’ ones.

Quill Says: This is a definite keeper that will be watched over and over again. Hopefully the next two trilogies will be filmed very soon because the books were truly phenomenal!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review - Johnny Big-Ears Meets His New Neighbor Suzy

Johnny Big-Ears Meets His New Neighbor Suzy

By: John Paul Padilla
Illustrated by: Victor Ramon Mojica
Publisher: Padilla Goldworks
Publication Date: April 2012
ISBN: 978-0985313722
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 28, 2012

Johnny Big-Ears is excited! Coming home with his mom from the pizza parlor, he notices a moving van in front of the house next door. New neighbors! Maybe he’ll finally have a friend to play with. Johnny rushes off to meet the neighbors, soccer ball in hand, ready for an afternoon of fun games. Johnny is thrilled to meet Tatis Dancer, and they have a great time kicking the soccer ball around. But Tatis’s sister, Suzy, won’t come out to play. She’s a bit overweight and is afraid Johnny will make fun of her.

In Suzy's old town of Meannie-Apolis, all the kids made fun of her. They called her names and didn’t want to play with her. Suzy is afraid that here in the new town, people will be just as cruel. Suzy’s mother tries to cheer the little girl up but it’s no use; Suzy has been hurt too many times. She stays in her room while Tatis and Johnny play outside.

The following day is the first day of school and while Tatis is thrilled to be starting preschool, Suzy is shy and worried about kindergarten. Will the new kids make fun of her? But then Tatis introduces her sister to Johnny and Suzy quickly realizes that the boy with the big ears is not going to tease her. Instead, Johnny turns out to be just about the best friend a person could wish for because he has also endured teasing and bullying and knows how much it hurts. He sees Suzy for who she is, a special person, and he even invites her into the “Feel-Good Friends Club,” a club to help those who are bullied.

This is the second book in the Johnny Big-Ears series designed to help kids with self-esteem issues. With weight problems and bullying in the news almost every day, this book is quite timely. Young readers will see, and likely identify with, a young girl who has been hurt by bullying. Suzy’s mother gives her pep talks but that doesn’t help much when Suzy is on the playground and enduring the taunts of two other girls. It takes Johnny, and his friend Charlie, to help Suzy deal with the bullies. While real life situations may not end so harmoniously, reading this book can help the bullies see how hurtful they are, show bystanders how to help, and those bullied will see they are not alone. At the back of the book are a few pages with suggested questions “to start a dialogue with children about teasing and bullying,” as well as a few other fun activities. This book would be a useful tool in the classroom setting to get all the children talking about bullying.

Quill says: An excellent resource to help kids cope with bullying, get ideas on how to handle it, understand that they are not alone, and most importantly, to accept themselves as they are, special in every way.

For more information on Johnny Big-Ears Meets His New Neighbor Suzy, please visit the author's website at: www.JohnPaulPadilla.com

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review - Dust Girl

Dust Girl: Book One of The American Fairy Trilogy

By: Sarah Zettel
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86938-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 2012

Yes, there is a new fantasy trilogy to hit the shelves in 2012 and this one is...unique! That is an extremely hard word to use in this day and age, but this is not about the ‘fanged ones’ or the ‘barking wolf’ ones at all.

Callie LeRoux and her mom live in a town called Slow Run, Kansas. Right now they are living through one of the most horrific dust storms that hammered the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s and chased many home owners into other states, because they could not live (and a lot of them didn’t) through these particular storms. Homes were ruined, crops dried up and nothing the poor people tried to do made it any better.

Running a small hotel in town, Callie and her mom are still there when Callie is taken seriously ill by the dust that constantly flies through their home. She wants out, but her mom is still waiting for Callie’s father to return and will not leave until he arrives. However, when a particularly fierce dust storm hits the town, Callie’s mom runs away and no one can find her.

Suddenly a mysterious man called Baya turns up and tells Callie a story about what her future life holds; he also unveils the secret that Callie is both half mortal and half fairy. Callie is told that she must follow the path to ‘the golden hills of the west’ in order to find her parents and get a new life for herself.
On her journey she meets Jack, a young boy who has been riding the rails in order to get out of the area, and he decides to go with her to California. In their travels they run into some very odd folks (good and bad) which keep the story going. Among these beings are people who are desperate to kidnap Callie because she is, in fact, quite a ‘star’ in the fairy world. With Callie doing her best to evade the kidnappers who are trying to capture her in order to claim her powers for themselves, this adventure keeps right on going until the last page is turned.

The writing in this novel is very good and unlike any fairy stories on the market today. Not to mention, Callie and her friends will leave a very solid, fun imprint on the imagination.

Quill Says: After reading the first in this series, readers will most definitely look forward to seeing what happens next!

Book Review - On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel

On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel

By: Nancy Holder
Publisher: Gallery Books/MTV Books
Publication Date: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-7447-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 27, 2012

For fans of this truly fantastic television series shown on MTV, this book (and hopefully a series of books) are a great addition! Not to mention the fact that Nancy Holder, one of the most amazing writers in fiction who is responsible for the bestselling Wicked series, is the author - which makes this story a whole lot of fun to read.

For anyone who has not yet tuned in to the series (which you should as fast as possible), this is a story about a young man by the name of Scott McCall- a lacrosse player, a quiet sort with a best friend who is absolutely hysterical, and a boy who was bitten by a werewolf. This ‘Alpha’ who changed his life won’t give up on Scott, wanting to take him into the pack and make him one of them. But Scott is desperate to try and hold on to who he is and what he wants - including his teen love, Allison. Allison’s family are werewolf hunters. (Talk about picking the wrong girlfriend when you’re a wolf!) Derek is another Beta, like Scott, who is out for vengeance, and he wants nothing more than to track down this Alpha who has changed them both because he’s seeking revenge for his sister’s death.

In this story we begin with Allison’s birthday. She and Scott decide to skip school to celebrate together and have been found out. In addition, a dead body has also been found. Yet another in a long line of vicious attacks in Beacon Hills that has been blamed on a mountain lion. (Even though Scott knows that the Alpha is the real killer).

One evening Lydia (Allison’s best friend) tells Allison that her boyfriend Jackson has up and disappeared. She can’t reach him on the cell and no one seems to know where he went. Begging Allison for her help, she and Scott go on the hunt to look for Jackson. Scott is beyond scared that the star lacrosse player has met up with the same fate as the rest of the Alpha’s prey, but while searching, Allison and Scott not only find even more romance with one another, but as they hunt the woods for Jackson, they soon come across a truly beautiful silver wolf that basically just sits and stares at them before walking away. A picture of things to come? A new wolf in the forest ready to help…or, harm?

Again this is a great plotline that is far different than the multitude of werewolf books and movies that have been tossed into reader’s laps over the past decade. In fact, the MTV show is extremely well-acted and well-written, so it is NO surprise that this book is a whole lot of fun, as well.

Quill Says: It would be great to see Nancy Holder take charge and bring even more Teen Wolf novels to life!

Rapture: Fallen Book 4

Rapture: Fallen Book 4

By: Lauren Kate
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-73918-4
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 27, 2012

Millions of readers across the globe were waiting for this one. THIS is the story of whether or not Luce and Daniel would finally overcome and be able to live a full life together. Over the years they have fought to accomplish this goal. Daniel has been the fallen angel who chose Luce as the girl he wanted a long time ago; Luce is the teenage girl down below who was fighting and struggling to live her life (or, at least, find a way to like her life) when they first met up at Sword & Cross. And, yes, this was the school that made all readers a little creeped out and definitely wanted to do better in school so they wouldn’t be put there.

Over the years (and books) Luce began to have incidents and, most of all, memories. She saw her past lives in China, Egypt, and other locations where she and Daniel met, kissed and death took over. This was a curse and something they had to overcome in order to be together.

Suffice to say the final book was the picture of a paranormal battle of wills. This was the war of Heaven versus Hell that had to be played out in order for Luce to finally unveil and uncover exactly what she is and find out exactly why she and Daniel have had this horrific heartbreaking history. The cast of characters are back - the angels (bad and good) must get together to hunt the land for three objects; three objects that when brought together will show a solution to stop Lucifer from altering time and starting the world all over again - erasing the lives and future that Luce and Daniel had shared, making sure they will no longer find each other the next time around.

This is the pain, the agony and an adventure where the group must actually meet up with creatures they haven’t exactly liked along the way in order to fight for what they want. What’s the main issue? Luce has a secret buried in her own mind and when she finds this secret out she will have to fight for her very life, existence, and - of course - the ability to be with the boy she loves.

This is one of those ‘vacant’ reviews because…it has to be. Literally every page of this adventure introduces a new character, a new piece of the past, and a new secret that readers will want to learn for themselves as they sit in a room alone and come to terms with what Lauren Kate has been saying across this series. There are those readers who will not be surprised (frankly, I think many knew where this was all going). But the biggest issue with this series is the fact that it has come to an end. Likened to the ‘fanged’ character that everyone loved for so long as he fought for his lady and vice versa - Lauren Kate’s couple will be caught in the imagination for a good, long time until - perhaps - the movie screen allows readers to see Luce and Daniel up close and personal.

The writing is as good as Book I and does not leave readers unhappy. ‘Nough said. Advice to Lauren Kate? Get going on another YA series because you’re certainly a master at it!
Quill Says: A fond farewell to Luce and Daniel!

Searching for the Next Star in Scholarly Publishing

Searching for the Next Star in Scholarly Publishing:
Association of American Publishers Announces 37th Annual
PROSE Awards Call for Entries

Washington, DC, 24, 2012 – The Professional and Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) today announced the call for entries for this year’s American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) Awards. Now in their 37th year, the awards recognize books, journals and electronic products that contribute to professional and scholarly publishing, while also maintaining the highest editorial and design standards.

“This year’s PROSE Awards should be the most exciting yet,” said PROSE Awards Chairman John A. Jenkins of CQ Press. “By expanding the award categories, we anticipate an increase in submissions—and competition—for what has become the industry’s most prestigious recognition of scholarly publishing achievement.”

Book submission categories for this year’s PROSE Awards include: humanities, reference works, mathematics, social sciences, physical science, as well as biological and life sciences. E-products and electronic platforms with multiple components, meanwhile, can compete for best in humanities, best in multi-discipline platform, best in physical sciences and mathematics, best in biological and life sciences, and best in social sciences. Journals may be entered in print or electronic formats.

Five “best of” awards will be chosen from the winners of the books, e-products and journal categories. Only one PROSE prize winner, however, will take home the prestigious R.R. Hawkins Award, which recognizes scholarly works in all disciplines of the humanities and sciences. 

“Winning the R.R. Hawkins Award was a tremendous honor for McGraw-Hill because it underscores the value of engineering and the sciences—the importance these technical fields and their applications contribute to our everyday lives,” said Michael Penn, Senior Editor, McGraw-Hill Professional, publisher of The Diffusion Handbook: Applied Solutions for Engineers and winner of the 2011 R.R. Hawkins Award. “After winning the award, we saw a significant boost in sales in wholesale, library, and special sales channels—the PROSE Awards helped to elevate visibility of the science and engineering category within the world of scholarly publishing.”
Books, journals and e-products submitted for this year’s PROSE Awards must be published by a member company of PSP, AAP, or the Association of American University Presses (AAUP). All book entries are required to have a 2012 copyright date, and new journal entries must be published a minimum of two times after 2010. E-product entries must have been launched or changed significantly in 2012. Winners will be announced at the PROSE Awards Luncheon at the PSP Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. on February 7, 2013 and be broadcast via live webcast.

For additional 2012 PROSE Awards entry details including rules for eligibility, guidelines and required submission information, visit www.proseawards.com.

About AAP
The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry.  AAP’s more than 300 members include most of the major commercial publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies.  AAP members publish hardcover and paperback books in every field, educational materials for the elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and professional markets, scholarly journals, computer software, and electronic products and services.  The protection of intellectual property rights in all media, the defense of the freedom to read and the freedom to publish at home and abroad, and the promotion of reading and literacy are among the Association’s highest priorities.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Books For Review

Here's a sample of the books that have arrived over the last week for review.  Check them out and then stop back soon to read the reviews.

Johnny Big-Ears, Meets His New Neighbor Suzy by John paul Padilla Suzy is a beautiful little girl, but she feels self-conscious about her looks because she is overweight. In her old town people teased her. Now that she has moved to a new town, she is worried she will be teased again. Suzy wishes she could be more like her happy, energetic little sister. Suzy is about to meet Johnny BIG-EARS for the first time. He will teach her that not all kids are mean. Suzy will also meet other little girls, who are not so nice and sweet. Follow Suzy and Johnny BIG-EARS and see what challenges they face as they teach others how to deal with teasing and bullying!

Murder Takes Time: Friendship & Honor Series, Book One by Giacomo Giammatteo A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn't good. Frankie has taken two oaths in his life--the one he took to uphold the law when he became a cop, and the one he took with his two best friends when they were eight years old and inseparable. Those relationships have forced Frankie to make many tough decisions, but now he faces the toughest one of his life; he has five murders to solve and one of those two friends is responsible. If Frankie lets him go, he breaks the oath he took as a cop and risks losing his job. But if he tries to bring him in, he breaks the oath he kept for twenty-five years--and risks losing his life. In the neighborhood where Frankie Donovan grew up, you never broke an oath.

On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel by Nancy Holder In Beacon Hills, a mountain lion is blamed for a spate of vicious attacks; Scott McCall wishes the cause was that simple. Unfortunately, hiding his werewolf identity, especially from Allison Argent, while fighting his need to shift, is only one problem. Keeping his mysterious, murderous Alpha off his back (literally), avoiding hunters, deciphering strange dreams about flames and impending doom . . . is really eating into lacrosse practice and hang-out time. So when Jackson Whittemore doesn’t show for his date with Lydia, Scott hopes that helping Allison track down their buddy will be simpler. Derek—whose hunger for vengeance blinds him to the dangers that lie in wait—and Stiles are also looking, but the worried teens’ search is leading right to the preserve from Scott’s nightmare. They aren’t the only ones in the woods, and their little trip starts looking less like a rescue mission and more like an elaborate trap—one that will force them to make the choice between killing and being killed...

Raja: Story of a Racehorse by Anne Hambleton Written from the horse’s point of view and filled with authentic details, this young adult novel chronicles the life of a well-bred Thoroughbred racehorse destined for greatness. After a promising—and winning—start on the path to the Triple Crown, a series of bad-luck events end Raja’s racing career, and he finds himself pulled into the random world of off-the-track Thoroughbreds. His odyssey takes him from the breeding farms of Ocala, Florida, to the stakes races on the Kentucky Derby trail; from competing as a show jumper on the “A” show circuit to becoming a member of the New York City Mounted Police and witnessing the horrors of the livestock auction. Finally, Raja finds himself in a stable belonging to a retired steeplechase jockey and his 16-year-old niece, where he finally has a chance to realize his destiny.

Holy Flying Circus DVD/Blu-Ray

The Forsyte Saga - The Complete Series - DVD The miniseries that started it all! In 1969, a internationally-acclaimed BBC show began airing on the fledgling public broadcasting network. The Forsyte Saga, in telling the remarkable story of a nouveau riche English family, introduced America to a new kind of TV. Millions of Americans devoted the next half year of their lives to following the frank treatment of all sins, foibles and peccadilloes of the Forsytes and their circle. The passing decades can never the erase the memory of their extraordinary evenings with the Forsytes: Kenneth More as Jo, the philosophical outsider; Eric Porter as Soames, the grasping man of property; Nyree Dawn Porter as Irene, "born to be loved and to love" and in later episodes, Susan Hampshire in an Emmy-winning performance as Fleur, Soame's 'restless' daughter. The series was so popular that Masterpiece Theatre was created to meet the new demand for great literary adaptations. With 150 characters, 2000 separate costumes and over 100 sets, this sprawling yet intimate saga continues to move, provoke and entrance viewers today.

Thirteen by Kelly Armstrong It’s been more than ten years, a dozen installments, and hundreds of thousands of copies since Kelley Armstrong introduced readers to the all-too-real denizens of the Otherworld: witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons, among others. And it’s all been leading to Thirteen, the final installment, the novel that brings all of these stories to a stunning conclusion. A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing.

Deception by Kris Kennedy Breaking and entering to reclaim her corrupt late father’s ledger comes surprisingly easily to Sophia Darnly. But is it mere coincidence that her misdeed unexpectedly reunites her with Kier, the outlaw lover who abandoned her years ago?

Blockade Billy by Stephen King Every effort was made to erase any evidence that William Blakely played professional baseball, and with good reason. Blockade Billy had a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today. His secret was much, much worse... and only Stephen King, the most gifted storyteller of our age, can reveal the truth to the world, once and for all.

The White Forest by Adam McOmber In this hauntingly original debut novel about a young woman whose peculiar abilities help her infiltrate a mysterious secret society, Adam McOmber uses fantastical twists and dark turns to create a fast-paced, unforgettable story. Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father in a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of man-made objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan. But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London’s elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation with the goal of discovering a strange hidden world, a place he calls the Empyrean.

Book Review - A Sinister Sense

A Sinister Sense: A Raven's Nest Bookstore Mystery

By: Allison Kingsley
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0425251416
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 21, 2012

Finn’s Harbor was a quiet little town on the coast of Maine. Well, quiet if you didn’t count Roberta Prince, the owner of the stationer’s store, who had a fit when she thought Tatters was going to jump on her. She was a prissy Prada type who dressed to the nines to impress Rick Sanders, the owner of the hardware store and that disgusting dog. Tatters, who had absolutely no fashion sense, plowed into the cookbook display at the Raven’s Nest bookstore trying to get her attention. “You need to control that monster.” Yes, and Roberta, the biggest gossip in Finn’s Harbor, needed to control her mouth.

Since the economy tanked, Finn’s Harbor wasn’t exactly a happening town. The only thing remotely exciting was when Clara Quinn and her cousin, Steffie, the owner of Raven’s, joined forces to help solve Ana Jordan’s murder the year before. Common sense should have told Clara to stay out of police business, but she had another sense that told her otherwise. Clara had the Quinn Sense, a paranormal sense that “led her down paths she didn’t want to go” and one of them was figuring out whodunit. The voices that came to her were posed as riddles. Clara’s secret psychic abilities would soon come in handy.

“There’s been a murder,” Molly squawked at Clara and Steffie. A bludgeoned corpse just happened to turn up in the back of Rick’s pickup. Frank Toski was deader than a bag of nails and had been pounded into the great beyond with a hammer from his hardware store. The Quinn sense was never wrong, but when Clara asked Rick if he knew Frank, it claimed, “He’s lying.” Huh? The Sense also told her he didn’t do it. Mayor Carson Dexter wanted an immediate arrest in “the bowling alley murder.” The Quinn cousins began to investigate, but for some reason the Quinn Sense was becoming unpredictable ... just like the guy who was pointing a chain saw at them!

This delightfully charming mystery blended with a touch of paranormal Quinn-sensibility will garner many fans. I became enamored with Tatters, the mischievous dog who was there when Clara needed him and when she didn’t. The humorous realism he brought to Finn’s Harbor, as well as many other incidents, made this mystery a down-to-earth tale that made it into an irresistible page turner. The Quinn Sense, which was an on and off again psychic sense, was one that Clara was finally accepting in her life. Hopefully as the series progresses, it will become a stronger and more prominent part of her life. Clara was a smart, serious, and gusty Maine sleuth that you’ll totally fall in love with!

Quill says: If you want a quintessential cozy mystery with a touch of paranormal and a sleuth with a lot of Maine chutzpah, you're going to love Clara Quinn!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review - Tahoe Trap

Tahoe Trap

By: Todd Borg
Publisher: Thriller Press
Publishing Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-9312-9620-5
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: July 2012

Tahoe Trap, an excellent addition to Todd Borg’s Tahoe Mystery Series, starts with a phone call to Owen McKenna from a young boy named Paco who is in the back of a truck careening down a road near Lake Tahoe. The boys just screams “HELP ME!!” McKenna tries to get Paco to talk to him but all the boy can say is that he is trapped in the back of a pick-up truck near Tahoe and two men who are driving the truck have murdered his foster mother, Cassie. The men do not know that Paco had jumped into the truck and also didn’t know that he had witnessed the murder of his mother. McKenna, using all the police authorities in the area are trying to pin point Paco by using the GPS in his phone. McKenna finds out that the two men are contract killers from Vegas that use stun guns on their victims and then smother them with plastic wrap.

They do find Paco and Owen takes him home as the boy is an illegal and the only person who took care of him was Cassie. Paco knows a lot about gardening that he learned from Cassie and he also goes to school to learn English. McKenna doesn’t know why these men are after Paco but wants to catch them as, if he doesn’t, they will keep after the boy. So McKenna and his police cohorts hatch a plan, using Paco as bait, to catch them. This author has become a success writing this series featuring a detective and his dog. Good Job!! I'm looking forward to the next Tahoe Mystery.

Quill Say: A fascinating story with first class writing and, of course, my favorite character, Spot, a Great Dane that steals most of the scenes.

Book Review - Target: Tinos

Target: Tinos: An Inspector Kaldis Mystery

By: Jeffrey Siger
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publishing Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59058-976-2
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: June 2012

This book is the forth for this author’s books about the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea, featuring Andreas Kaldis, the head of the Greek Special Crimes Division.

The Inspector is called to the Island of Tinos to investigate the remains of two bodies burned beyond recognition, found chained together in a van. They were wrapped in a Greek Flag and a message was left saying “Freedom or Death.” It’s a weird place for anything like this to happen. The Inspector is also in a bind as he is getting married in a few days and wants to sew this crime up so he can concentrate on the big day. When the victims are identified as gypsies, known as Rom in Greece, that seems to be the end of the investigation. These Rom are noted for being criminals and the theories of the crime, according to Greek authorities, is that this might be a war between criminal families or a hate crime. Andreas’ boss, Greece Minister of Order, Spiros Renatis, and his pals let the investigation slide and tell Andreas to close it as the people involved are not high on his list of people the Greek Government care about.

Andreas and his sidekicks, Yianni, Kouras and Tassos decide to look into the crime anyway and take the trip to Tinos again to check up on the victims' whereabouts before they were incinerated. The team of detectives gets almost no cooperation from the locals so they have to figure it all out for themselves. There are a couple more murders and some meetings in Athens with the criminal element from Albania who seem to be hip deep in this whole operation. There is a large festival coming up in the town and the detectives feel that there may be a robbery at the Church of Panagia Evangelistria as they have an icon of the Virgin Mary there that many people pray to and leave money and jewels. But the case still drags out. Andreas’ will not give up and it is left up to him and his men to find the killers, find out where the robbery is going to take place and last, but certainly not least, GET MARRIED!!

Quill Says: This book is a definite keeper. The descriptive passages about Greece and the Greek Isles had me fascinated as I really am a history buff and this author definitely knows his subject. This book is a gem and is an exciting read.

Book Review - The Take-Charge Patient

The Take-Charge Patient: How YOU Can Get the Best Medical Care

By: Martine Ehrenclou, M.A.
Publisher: Lemon Grove Press, LLC
Publication Date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9815240-3-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 19, 2012

Knowing that this author’s first book, Critical Conditions, was a true ‘must-read,’ it is no surprise that this second offering is a necessity that will seriously help anyone and everyone who is tired and frustrated (and more than a little frightened) with the medical care that they are receiving in this country today.

Even with the best doctors by their side, the treatment and care being given patients in hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes can vary greatly and sometimes it can be quite bad. The constant fight between private healthcare and national healthcare has been fought for decades, yet the one who is constantly losing in the battle is the American public. Haunting personal stories are told every day. Recently one was told regarding the fact that the doctor had written notes on a chart and the assistant reading those notes to the patient actually screwed up the information and had the patient taking far more medication than they should have been taking. The doctor - this ‘professional’ - stated that it was just a ‘mistake in communication;’ a mistake that had the patient almost dying from an overdose. Charts that are read incorrectly, x-rays that are read incorrectly, treatment plans that harm instead of heal - these are just samples of the issues that are going on out there every day.

This author, a patient advocate, does a fantastic job offering everyone who reads this book a chance to become their very own ‘protector.’ With interviews and ‘insider’ information collected from people in the healthcare community, she covers everything from how to choose the right doctor to how to untangle the twists and turns of medical insurance.

Splitting the book into easy to read, and, better yet, easy to understand, categories - readers first learn about the author’s own trials with the medical industry and how she used her skills and studies to become a ‘Take-Charge Patient.’ The book then takes the reader by the hand and leads them through the process carefully and intelligently. Step one is all about preparing for your doctor’s appointment. This truly teaches people how to build confidence and be able to find a way to be polite and work with the doctor, but also build the assertiveness and persistence that they need to be proactive. As the book moves forward, it takes into account all the paperwork that is sometimes impossible to get a handle on; the author breaks everything down into ‘health summaries’ that focus on how a patient would read and better understand diagnoses, treatments, and whatever past health issues they may have suffered. One of the best and most helpful parts is at the end of each chapter where a ‘patient checklist’ allows the reader to make sure they have understood the material presented and are ready to move forward.

In addition, at the back of the book, there is an area reserved for safety checklists and lists of sample questions that you can (and should) ask your doctor about everything from pain to tests to mediations prescribed.

Ms. Ehrenclou has made sure to touch on all bases in order to help people feel better and safer about their medical care by taking charge of their own future.

Quill Says: Becoming a take-charge patient and looking after your own health definitely begins by reading this informational and extremely helpful book!

For more information on The Take-Charge Patient: How YOU Can Get the Best Medical Care, please visit the book's website at: www.thetakechargepatient.com

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Interview with Cabot Barden, author of Mixed Blessings

Today we're talking with Cabot Barden, author of Mixed Blessings

FQ: First, I have to ask, being a songwriter you certainly have a background in emotional text - but when did the songwriting lead into novel writing?

I had read several Clive Cussler novels during the early 1980s. Then I kind of jotted down some memories of playing with my band, Common Faith, that I played with in the 70s, in 1986. I ended up writing about 5 or 6 chapters about that. I didn’t pick up the writing pen again until 10 years later, when I wrote a couple of more
chapters. Then in 2008 I was unemployed for a while, so I had plenty of time on my hands to work on a novel, so I completed my first novel, It’s The Bass Player almost a year later. Once it was finished and published, I knew I had the writer’s bug. So I started on the sequel to the first book. Now that the second one has been published, I have started on a third one.

FQ: This is truly a very personal tale. Was this therapeutic to put on paper?

It felt good to tell this story, even though most of it is fiction, because of my own experiences in life, which were similar to those in the books. I had a son that died in childbirth in 1979, which gave the inspiration for Nancy’s tragedy.

FQ: Having the book revolve around the concept of ditching the dream for the reality, it seems in the beginning of the book that it was really a quick decision for you to make. Can you tell our readers about that moment - where you changed the course of your future?

I was a lot like Toby at that point in my life. The music just couldn’t quite fill that void I had. Like someone once said, “Sometimes you have to give up your dreams to do the right thing. To stay the course to fulfill your own needs and the needs of a loved one, you have to make sacrifices.” At that point most of my friends were getting married and settling down and being happy. I wanted the same thing. But at that point, that meant that I had to give up my dream of being a “Rock Star.” But that didn’t mean I had to give up being a musician or writing songs. I’m still writing songs today. I’ve had several on the radio over the years, even had the opportunity to have my songs in a major motion picture.

FQ: On to a more 'upbeat note'… Are you currently in a band? Still writing and performing?

I am still playing in a band called Renegade. I belong to the Nashville Songwriters Association International. The local chapter of songwriters performs practically every week locally around my hometown area in central Alabama. I have a CD in the back of every autographed copy of my book Mixed Blessings of original tunes that I recorded in Nashville.

FQ: Opening for Mickey Gilley must be absolutely amazing. Who are some of your favorites when it comes to the bands and/or singers you’ve performed with over the years?

Mickey Gilley was truly one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve had the pleasure to work with in the entertainment business. Another would be Vince Gill. I got to be in the studio that he recorded in back in the late 90s in Nashville, while I was living there. My band opened for Billy Joe Royal at a private party back in 2009. He’s another nice guy. There are some I’ve met who acted like they were better than everybody else, but most are just plain folks like you and me.

FQ: Are you currently working on a new book? And are you interested in writing other genres?

Yes. I have started on my third book, which I don’t have a title for yet. I usually don’t really have a title when I start out. I let that come to me after I’ve been working on it for a while. This next book has a ghost story in it, so it’s a little bit different from the first 2. It also starts out in the 1800s, then moves up to the 1940s, then back into the 70s. My buddy Clive Cussler uses this technique of writing in different time eras to tie in a main theme. Clive is the one who inspired me to write in the first place. I may try something entirely different for my fourth book.

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

Book Review - Mixed Blessings

Mixed Blessings

By: Cabot Barden
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication Date: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4669-2070-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 19, 2012

Told from an insider’s perspective, this story takes the reader through the very difficult choices that people must make between the ‘brass ring’ they so desperately want, and the life they so desperately crave.

It was the seventies - a time where emotions ran high and music was the universal language that seemed to be able to bring people together. Toby Martin is the bass player in a local band called Common Faith. He and his friends have been working for three years to 'get something started' in the music world, but Toby comes to a crossroads quite early in his life. Common Faith is given the opportunity to cut a record in Los Angeles and then go on tour with one of the hottest rock bands in the country - Steppenwolf. Now this would definitely be what you would call a big break, but there is something that is twisting Toby’s thoughts about this, and her name is Nancy. Nancy is the girl of his dreams and he’s asked her to marry him (after dealing with a slightly fanatical fifteen-year-old fan).

Although his friends are more than a bit bummed by Toby’s choice to stay with Nancy and forgo the dream of being a star, his two closest friends in the band, Fred and Corey, also decide to head down the path of love, marriage and building a future in their small southern town.

Toby needs his education and concentrates on finishing college as well as working second shift on a loading dock in order to become the man he wants to be. From there, Toby soon realizes that adulthood is not at all what it’s cracked up to be. From relationships that go awry, to dealing with financial and emotional issues as he grows up and learns how to take care of others with everything he has in his soul - being an adult becomes far harder than ever being a star.

Although this book has some layout issues (i.e. spacing, indentations, etc.) that make it a bit difficult to read - the compilation of births, deaths, rebirths, friendships gone bad and triumphs show that the writer has made sure to touch upon any and every tragedy and beautiful moment that life has to offer. In fact, most of these ‘scenarios’ will cause the reader to nod their heads most of the time as they ‘see’ their own lives and battles through Toby’s eyes.

Quill Says: Anyone interested in the dramatic genre will be pleased with this offering.
For more information on Mixed Blessings, please visit the publisher's website at: www.traffordpublishing.com/cabotbarden

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Size 12 and Ready to Rock

Size 12 and Ready to Rock: A Heather Wells Mystery

By: Meg Cabot
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-173478-6
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 2012

This is number four in Meg Cabot’s amazing series featuring Heather Wells, a former singer who was extremely popular until her record company stopped promoting her just because she gained a few pounds. Also, as an extra slap in the face, she found her boyfriend, Jordan Cartwright, in the arms of her archrival, Tania Trace. Now involved with Jordan’s older brother, Cooper, Heather has a job at New York College as an Assistant Residence Hall Director, and is ready to put the ugly past behind her and start living again.

It’s summer break and the campus is pretty much deserted, but Heather is called into work by security to check out a report that an unconscious body has been found in the residence hall. When Heather arrives she looks out the window and sees an ambulance pulling up in front of the dorm, and soon discovers that the emergency personnel are there for none other than Tania Trace, who is now married to Jordan and pregnant.

Apparently, the first annual “Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp” - a reality show - was going to be filmed in the empty dorm for two weeks. But when one of the producers of the T.V. show is killed, it becomes clear that Tania was the intended victim and Heather’s ‘new’ happy life goes straight down the tubes.
Cooper, who is now a licensed PI, is hired to look into the case. And when he joins Heather to discover what the heck is going on, the story goes from fast to supersonic. Almost everyone seems to be involved in the crime and each one is hoarding a secret of their very own.

As always when it comes to the incomparable Meg Cabot, this is a truly fun read. Heather is the perfect character for all us ‘real’ girls and women out here in America who are more than sick and tired of the Size 2 princesses that seem to rule the world, and it is always a pleasure to follow Heather through her trials and triumphs.

Quill Says: Meg Cabot has brought her ‘A-game’ yet again, so enjoy!

Book Review - Lies Beneath

Lies Beneath

By: Anne Greenwood Brown
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-74201-6
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 18, 2012

Readers will be thrilled with this new YA because the experience they ‘think’ they’ll receive is completely wrong. Most people think of mermaids as Disney animated characters that became popular ‘under the sea.’ But from the opening quote of this very cool novel, readers will be hooked and creeped out all at the same time.

This is the story of Calder White, a boy who can change into a merman when he enters the water. Calder didn’t start out life as a merman; he was changed when he was a baby and fell out of a boat on Lake Superior. Having three sisters who actually began their lives as mermaids is a little difficult for Calder who still has some of his morality intact, whereas his siblings are stone cold killers. Luring people to them with their looks and charm, they take their prey into the depths of the lake and ‘drain’ them of their emotions (i.e.: excitement, happiness, joy, etc.) Any positive emotion is absorbed into these creatures which gives them a brief moment of happiness that cancels out the painful emptiness in their minds.

Calder, who is spending time in the Caribbean, is called back home by his sisters. They believe that they’ve found the son of Jason Hancock, a man who they think killed their mother. The sisters make a diabolical plan; they want Calder to lure Hancock’s daughter, Lily, into their clutches so they can get to her father and extract their revenge.

Calder has never met a woman he couldn’t make fall in love with him at first sight, but he soon realizes that he’s met his match in Lily. She’s not a pushover and does not fall for his fatal charms, but she does notice that he and his family are more than a little strange. Lily begins to suspect that there’s something dark going on in the neighborhood and begins an investigation that brings fear very, very close to home.

So well-written, the characters are beyond surprising and the author has a true gift of being able to lure readers in with her haunting scenes.

Quill Says: Chock full of subtle surprises, readers who live near large lakes may just move to the desert after they’ve devoured this one!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review - Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells

Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells

By: Lisa Cach
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1416513315
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 17, 2012

Grace Cavanaugh is planning on a relaxing summer. She has agreed to stay with her great-aunt Sophia, a one-time B-movie star, who is now an elderly woman facing hip surgery. Grace will keep Sophia company, finish up her Women's Studies dissertation on how beauty leads to misery, and have plenty of time to relax. How hard can it be? Boy, is Grace in for a surprise!

Grace has only met her great-aunt once, back when she was ten and Sophia was a very intimidating woman who wore too much fake jewelry and insulted Grace to the point that Grace ran from the house and spent the rest of the day sulking. Surely, Grace reasons, her elderly aunt has softened through the years. The first hint that Sophia is not what Grace imagines is the Pebble Beach house of Sophia's, which is actually a mansion. Combine that with an 85-year-old woman who still exudes a charm and confidence that draws the attention of all the males around her, and it's clear that it's going to be one very interesting summer.

Sophia doesn't mince words when Grace arrives with Cat, a friend who Sophia doesn't particularly like. The old woman manipulates the situation so that Cat, insulted to the point of tears, leaves the next morning. Sophia also makes it clear that she doesn't like Grace's frumpy way of dressing, nor does she care for Grace's dissertation topic.

That first day at Sophia's, Grace also meets two handsome men, Declan, a womanizing, good-for-not-much, but VERY easy on the eyes, hunk of flesh, and Andrew, a good-looking and respectable doctor. Grace and Declan have a private, and somewhat steamy encounter that first evening, and things take off from there. While discussing the men with Grace, Sophia makes her great-niece a deal the financially strapped PhD student can't refuse. Sophia will pay her $50,000 at the end of the summer if Grace agrees to transform herself into a woman men can't resist. As an added enticement, Sophia argues, it'll be great research for the dissertation. Can Grace make Declan fall in love with her and then dump him like a hot potato? And what about Andrew? Is he the marrying type? Would he be the perfect match for Grace?

Grace agrees to the proposition and is soon taking classes, dieting, exercising, and learning the fine art of man-teasing. She tells herself that Declan is a slime, that she hates him, and yet, she is definitely attracted to him. The scenes with him are quite hot and passionate, but he's a womanizer and will surely move on once he gets Grace into bed. Andrew, meanwhile, is reliable, educated, and, well, honestly, boring. But he's safe and would be a good provider.

Declan is clearly the more interesting of the male characters and the reader will quickly look forward to the scenes with him and Grace. While the plot isn't particularly original, and the outcome is fairly easy to predict, the story is quite enjoyable. Grace is a very likeable character, one who uses quite a bit of humor in her diary writing and is shown with all her vulnerabilities exposed.

Quill says: A fun, witty story about a woman who learns how to lure a man, and learns a lot about herself along the way. The perfect book to keep you company while you lie on the beach, dig your toes into the sand, and soak up the sun.

Book Review - Incarnation

By: Emma Cornwall
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9035-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 17, 2012

Bram Stoker knew what he was writing about…but do the rest of us? Before you vampire ‘haters’ out there wish to disregard this one as ‘yet another fanged ones book,’ you really need to reconsider. The author has created a truly stunning work with so many twists and turns that readers will have NO idea who’s bad, good, in charge, searching for power - OR, who Dracula really was.

We begin in 1897, sitting beside Lucy Weston as she is mesmerized by the opera playing out on stage. It is her twentieth birthday, and she knows that her parents and her sister are only there to be nice (they really had no interest in the performance.) Oddly enough, however, Lucy’s ‘sight’ seems to go a bit awry. Where there was once singers performing, now there is only one man - a seductive, handsome man who seems to be calling out to her as if she is his one and only.

As the image fades, Lucy wakes from and finds herself buried in dirt with a piece of wood sticking out of her chest, and desperately clawing her way out of the grave. She really didn’t have to worry very much considering she was (sort of) dead already. As the ‘light’ begins to shine on her memories, images come back to her. She also finds her house, completely abandoned as if her family was chased away by something monstrous.

Lucy goes on the hunt to meet Bram Stoker and ask him why, exactly, he turned her life and murder into some silly piece of fiction. Not to mention, if he knows so much then he HAS to know where she can find this ‘Dracula’ creature and get some answers!

Walking through the gritty, macabre world of steampunk London, Lucy finds herself becoming embroiled with a man who comes from a long line of hunters, as well as a woman who wants nothing more than the power she feels she’s owed. And when readers find out how two legendary stories are interwoven where Dracula is concerned, they will be enraptured with Incarnation until the very end.

Quill Says: From the characters of wolves, unicorns, trolls and more, this one has it all - and the ‘cool’ Lucy is a great main character!

Book Review - Molly, by Golly!

Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America's First Female Firefighter

By: Dianne Ochiltree
Illustrated By: Kathleen Kemly
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Publication Date: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59078-721-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 17, 2012

It’s not often that I am graced with a children’s book that is not only a fantastic story and beautifully illustrated, but is also a walk through history that any and all adults and children will absolutely love!

Molly Williams is a very real figure. Back in the early 1800’s in New York City, Molly was a cook for a local Fire Company. She was the best at everything, making these men dishes that (will!) make your mouth water; Molly was loved and appreciated by the men.

One night, a hideous snowstorm hit the City and many of the men were struck down with influenza. And, sure enough, that’s when a blaze went up and hardly any of the men from the Company were able to respond. Molly was far more than a cook. Without even thinking about her own life, she put on the uniform and raced out into the snowstorm. She helped the men who were able to arrive pull the “fire truck” down the road and worked until ash had practically buried her in order to save the family and stop the blaze.

Molly is one of those heroic people who come along every now and then. She was full of love, kindness, and the courage to save lives! This book not only shows a very thrilling, action-filled tale - but the historical information about how fires were actually put out way back then - from what the uniforms looked like to how difficult it was to get the fire “equipment” to the blaze - is extremely interesting to read about. And, the historical facts and extra information in the back of the book will offer you and your child a very cool look into the rich, vibrant history of the American Firefighter. True heroes and heroines!

Quill Says: Perfectly written with stunning illustrations, this is by far (and, so far) the best children’s book of 2012!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review - The Sins of the Father

The Sins of the Father: Book 2, The Clifton Chronicles 

By: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-250-00097-2
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: July 2012

This novel is the second installment of Jeffrey Archer’s new series called the Clifton Chronicles.

Only Time Will Tell is the first in the series and tells the tale of a family that will cross generations, oceans and very difficult situations. The first book begins with Harry Clifton, a dock worker’s child who is born to Maisie Clifton. As he grows up he develops a talent for music which gets him a scholarship to an exclusive school. At the school he meets boys who are much richer than he but become very good friends of his. This book takes the reader through World War I and the outbreak of WWII when Harry has to decide whether to join the Navy or stay in school.

The second book, The Sins of the Father, is very much a continuation of the first. It is best to read Only Time Will Tell first to gain an understanding of the characters and sitiuations. In the first book, Harry was about to marry Emma Barrington when they found out that the marriage would be a big mistake because Harry’s parentage is questioned. He might be the son of Hugo Barrington, who had a one-nighter with Harry’s mother. This would make Harry and his bride related so Harry decides to join the Merchant Marines rather than get married.

When the ship Harry is on is torpedoed by a German U-Boat, Harry makes a quick decision to take the identity of a passenger who was killed. Why? Because Harry wants a new identity and wants to disappear into New York City. This turns out to be a big blunder because the passenger, Tom Bradshaw, is wanted for murder. Harry, thought to be Tom, is arrested and sent to prison. Now, Harry has more problems than he had before coming to the city. Harry ends up in prison, serving the sentence that was handed down to Tom Bradshaw.

Back in England, Harry’s bride-to-be at the wedding that never happened, Emma Barrington, refuses to believe that Harry is dead and goes to America to prove that Harry is alive and to let him know that he has a son. Emma’s brother, Giles, who is also Harry’s best friend, joins the service of his country and becomes a war hero. This second novel in the series takes readers through WWII and we meet many characters who are both saints and sinners and readers will read avidly to see which sinner gets what he/she deserves and which saint will come up a winner.

Quill Says: This is an excellent story, as Archer’s stories always are however it jumps around a lot and is a bit confusing at times. The reader will definitely have to read the books in sequence as not very much is explained - book two is continued on from book one without any explanation.