Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review - Smemory


By: Yvonne Moore
Illustrated by: Angie Scordato
Publisher: Jungle Wagon Press
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978-0983409243
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: April 2013

Everybody has at least one…a special smell that brings back wonderful memories. Perhaps it’s the smell of baking bread in Grandma’s kitchen, or the sweet smell of apples on a crisp fall day that brings back memories of a time spent with a best friend. The “Smemory” (yes, that is the word for it) is very real, and in this new book, it helps bring peace to a young woman who has lost a very special person.

The story opens with a young girl and her mother going for a walk in a beautiful garden. It is one of their favorite places where there is beauty all around. Flowers, however, are not the only things that live in the garden, for there is also “Smell.” Smell loves the little girl and her mother deeply and surrounds them with amazing fragrances that help seal in the memories of each special day.

The little girl loves going to the garden with her mother and they spend many truly joyous times there. But the years go by and then, one day, the little girl, now grown, returns to the garden. She is alone, and quite sad. She smells the cool fall air but there is nothing there – no sweet smells, no memories of happy times spent with her mother. But then, ever so faint, the young woman picks up the aroma of Smell. Will she be able to reawaken the Smemory of wonderful days gone by?

Smemory is a truly delightful story that isn’t just for young readers but for all of us. Perfect for a cuddle-up together read with your child, it has a lovely message of love and hope, tied up in something that we take for granted - the smells that we encounter every day. The tale also encourages discussion as it asks at the end, “What Smemory is waiting for you?” Add in the lovely artwork by Angie Scordato, full of soft, pastel colors, and you have a book that will be cherished for years to come.

Quill says: A very sweet, loving story that helps the child in all of us bring back our own special Smemories.

For more information on Smemory, please visit the author's website at: www.ymoorebooks.com

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review - Don't Sell Grain to a Bird on Credit

Don’t Sell Grain to a Bird on Credit and More Arab Proverbs

Compiled By: Stephen J. McGrane
Publisher: Llumina Press
Publication Date: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60594-888-1
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 30, 2013

‘Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.’ ‘Live for today, not tomorrow.’ There are many proverbs out there. Each and every country, state, region, religion - every group has their own words and their own style when it comes to offering the next generation little tips that will help them better deal with life.

Proverbs are focused on all areas of life - careers, love, family - and this author has done a great job in breaking down each and every category, offering proverbs that focus on everything from luck to sorrow to friendship to honesty. These words still help and still fit in with the chaotic world we live in today, and the author has gone one step further by providing the Western equivalent of the Arab proverb so that all readers, no matter where they dwell, can better understand the meanings.

In his first book: Trust in God but Tie Your Camel, this author produced a collection that covered various situations that occur in life, offering guidance - that little tip - that perhaps makes us feel better or helps us to make the right choices. With this new collection, the author has come up with another wealth of proverbs that are unique to the Bedouin people, but also cover a range of topics.

There will always be that memory of sitting down at a table and listening to grandma or grandpa or the head of the household as they taught common sense, knowledge, love, and offered humor as you grew up. Their words were short, but had meaning. Instead of utilizing hundreds of phrases to get a point across, their point was made in a simplistic way that stayed in the mind and heart as we matured. This collection brings back those memories, while opening the door to a culture with beautiful wisdom, humor and beliefs.

Everyone is different - that is the beauty of life. This is not a proverb, this is the truth. And what this author does is prove to every reader that even though we all exist in different geographic locations, we all truly believe that knowledge is power and that life is filled with goodness. This ‘common sense’ collection will be a fun learning tool for some and a fond remembrance of the past for others.
Quill says: A compilation that builds camaraderie and understanding in a fun way!

For more information on Don’t Sell Grain to a Bird on Credit and More Arab Proverbs, please visit the book's website at: www.llumina.com/store/dontsellgrain.htm

Book Review - A Certain Summer

A Certain Summer

By Patricia Beard
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4767-1026-6
Reviewed by: Holly Weiss
Review Date: April 30, 2013

The promise of the island Wauregan, that “nothing ever changed,” that the colony survived both the Great Depression and both world wars, gives Helen Wadsworth hope as she boards the first ferry to the summer paradise. She desperately needs a carefree summer in her weather beaten shingled cottage on the beach.

Languishing in a relaxed community seems a perfect way to spend the summer of 1948. Even in this small island off the coast of Long Island, people stop to catch their breath after the horrors of World War II. Helen can’t find closure after her husband, Arthur, was declared mysteriously missing after a 1945 OSS operation in France. The hope that he might be alive paralyzes her emotionally. Confused by her anger at her absent husband, she religiously washes and irons his clothes each summer, hoping that when he returns he can easily slip back into the person she used to know. When two other men fall in love with her, she strives to uncover the truth so that she can be free. Frank, Arthur’s friend who was on the same mission, finally discloses what actually happened. Helen takes her son, Pete, to the sight of the mission for closure.

A Certain Summer may be set in an idyllic summer community, but haunted memories and frightened reactions plague its inhabitants. The island and happy memories of time spent there are major themes of the book. Couples stay together to keep their island cottages intact. “Losing the island summers would be another kind of divorce. A man or a woman might find another spouse, but nothing could replace Wauregan.” The healing power of the island is neatly juxtaposed against the tattered emotions and horrid war memories of the people who go there to heal. Their haunted struggle is the overriding premise of the book. The men who returned from World War II are damaged in many ways. Their efforts to keep their ghosts to themselves are valiant. In reality, pain seeps out in the forms of irrational jealousy, brutality, insomnia and impotence.

The book contains a reader's guide with an author’s guide, discussion guide and author interview. The characters are meticulously written, but once you learn more about them you will find your sympathies shifting. Although Helen’s character is not fully filled out, she is a compelling and sympathetic character. The author expertly evokes the atmosphere of the island. You can feel the sand between your toes, feel the pounding surf, smell the diesel fuel from the boats, and hear the laughter of the children set free on their tricycles to roam without parental supervision.

Max, the faithful war dog, is loved by some and feared by others. This new resident, whose battlefield experience will never be known, is gripping and sympathetically written. His inability to tell his own story seems a metaphor for the men who can’t relive their own horror stories by telling them.

Quill says: A Certain Summer is a story of mystery, love and redemption for all to ponder, but especially for those whose hearts have been wrenched by war.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review - The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold

The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold

By: Edmund Contoski
Publisher: American Liberty Publishers
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9655007-0-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 26, 2013

Edmund Contoski delivers riveting insights that are soundly supported by facts in his latest economic body of work: The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold.

The opening chapter “Beginnings of the Crisis” sets the tone of the vast differences between the European financial system and its contrast to U.S. systems. In his words: “It began in a small country—Greece has only 11 million people—but it led to revelations of international financial vulnerabilities that are overturning the monetary system of the world…” Mr. Contoski gains momentum with a basic explanation of how European financial stability began to unravel with Greece. As part of the euro zone, Greece cannot inflate its own currency. It is one of 17 European nations utilizing one currency (the euro), whose money supply is determined by the European Central Bank. Conversely, the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency which translates to the U.S. being "…the only country in the world that can pay back its borrowings by simply printing more of its own money…"

There is a natural cadence and logical procession to the information Contoski delivers—the cadence accredited to his use of simple terminology supported by powerful context and facts. The logical procession is carefully laid out in basic economics again, supported by statistical and historical data. This book tracks the monetary history trail by explaining the development, manipulation, failures and ultimate quest for alternatives to the dollar as it segues into the introduction and importance of gold. There are many indicators through Contoski’s research that support the world’s quest for alternatives to the dollar. This book is not over-infused with statistics or scare tactics. Rather, there is a confident message that resonates as Contoski often cites our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, and the importance of man to be able to exercise his “…unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

The greatest ability I embrace to this day is not only to have learned how to read, but my inherent love of reading. I am honored to render my review of Mr. Contoski’s book for a multitude of reasons. Overall, I commend him because economics has never been one of my strengths. However, after reading The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold, I want to thank Mr. Contoski. Due to his agility and skill toward word placement (coupled with a tremendous knowledge of his topic), Mr. Contoski has taken the complex subject of finance and economics, laid it out across a mere couple of hundred pages and left me with an unbelievable sense of understanding the topic. His thoroughness in opening the camera lens beyond the economic constraints within the United States to incorporate a global perspective for the reader is fascinating and well documented. I say bravo for the work you put into writing this book Mr. Contoski! The end result is an extremely compelling and informative body of work.

Quill says: The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold is an informative and insightful read that focuses on the importance of owning accountability and the fix versus continuing down the well-traveled road of who to blame next.

To learn more about The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold, please visit the book's website at: www.amlibpub.com

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review - A Legacy of Revenge

A Legacy of Revenge (Legacy Series, Vol. 2)

By: Harriet Schultz
Publisher: Cottage Park Press
Publication Date: April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9891-4664-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 26, 2013

What began in Legacy of the Highlands continues in this new incredible offering. Scottish intrigue, unbelievable passion, mystery, revenge - this one hits on all cylinders - providing a truly thrilling plot that readers will not be able to put down.

For those who do not yet know, Alexandra Cameron is the heroine of this saga. It’s been only two short years since her beloved husband, Will, was slain in the streets of Boston. Getting back on her feet, seeking revenge against the person who ripped her love from her life, Alex did so with the help of Diego Navarro. Diego is a strong, handsome, passionate Argentine who was the rock Alex leaned on after Will’s demise, but he ended up being the man who stole her heart.

Although they deserve happily ever after, Diego has a responsibility in life. His family is incredibly wealthy and has built a real estate empire that Diego will one day be asked to run. After a night of lovemaking, Diego must head back to Buenos Aires leaving Alex to run her gallery in Boston - each wondering how the relationship is going to work.

Alex isn’t alone, of course. A bodyguard by the name of Alain watches over her (a Frenchman who’s just as sexy as Diego). He’s on alert, considering that in a very short time James Mackinnon will be let out of prison in Scotland - a man who has nothing else on his mind but getting revenge on the people who killed his son. And his evil plan begins with Alex.

Serge, Diego’s bodyguard, is also on edge waiting for the Scot to show his face. Sure enough, Mackinnon is released, hale and hearty, and heads to Boston where, despite everything, the kidnapping occurs. Diego, Serge, Alain - literally a brigade of enticing warriors head out to rescue Alex and put an end to this once and for all. But as Alex finds herself tied up in a rustic cabin dealing with a man who looks at her with far more than just revenge in his eyes, she may end up being the one who must fight the battle in order to save her own life.

Quill says: The first book was exhilarating; this one is a heart-pounding adventure that never stops. The Legacy Series is a true gift to readers!

Book Review - The Star Snatcher's Planet

The Star Snatcher's Planet: The Little Prince

By: Thomas Barichella
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1467707374
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2013

The sky darkened and soon the rain was coming down in sheets and lightning lit up the sky. Claos urged Naomi to head for shelter, but the harvest was important to the village and she wanted to continue. The Cholorphylians wouldn’t “make it through next winter,” so he relented. All of a sudden, the sky opened up and two spiral-shaped object were seen hurling to the ground. Claos and Naomi clutched each other, sure of the end as the ground lit up with an explosive force. Boooom! They survived the explosion, but wouldn’t know for sure what exactly had happened until two more strange beings came through a portal in the sky twenty years later.

The Little Prince and Fox tumbled through the sky until Little Prince transformed a cloak, wrapping them in a cushion that curled into a pod. The pod cushioned them as they bounded into a garden of flowers and rolled down to the ground. Plop! The pod opened and they found themselves at the base of the flowers. The Cholorphylians glanced at Fox who was hanging upside down, hung up in a trap. Claos, who was an old man by then, confronted him. “You fell right into our trap. Your crop-eating days are over!” It took some convincing, but finally the Little Prince persuaded him that they were only in search of the snake.

The snake’s henchmen, the gloomies, were creating havoc on the planet and when the Little Prince worked his magic to destroy them and save Ted, the Cholorophylians relaxed. The Little Prince stooped to listen to the plants, to find out the problem of the planet. The snake was at work and it was obvious he was working through Antoine, the little astronomer. They had to find him, but when they did, something went terribly wrong. The little astronomer was interested in Fox and Little Prince’s planet, B612. He’d been capturing the stars, making the Chlorophylians planet darker and darker. How could the Little Prince save the planet and keep snake and Antoine from destroying his planet and his beautiful Rose?

This is the exciting tale of the Little Prince and the Fox who once again try to foil the evil Snake. The plants, the planets, and the stars are dying because the evil Snake is once again on the prowl. He’s enlisting the help of the Astronomer, the son of Naomi and Claos. This is a fast-paced, graphic novel that will excite young readers, especially reluctant ones interested in fantasy. The artwork is stunning and the fantasy panels will have definite appeal to the young reader. In the back of the book is a short story, “The Little Prince,” as imagined by Pierre Makyo, a brief biographical sketch of Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, and a brief discussion about the series, and the adaptation.

Quill says: The Star Snatcher’s Planet is the fifth in a new series about the Little Prince, a graphic novel that is sure to excite young fantasy readers!

Only 7 days left until the entry deadline for the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards!

The Purple Dragonfly Book Awards are geared toward stories that appeal to children of all ages. We are looking for stories that inspire, inform, teach or enter...tain. A Purple Dragonfly Book Awards seal on your book's cover tells parents, grandparents, educators and caregivers they are giving children the very best in reading excellence.

Purple Dragonfly Book Awards

Five Star Publications’ Purple Dragonfly Book Awards Deadline Approacheshttp://www.fivestarpublications.com/bookcontest/images/PDGrandPrizeSticker.jpg

April 24, 2013 (CHANDLER, Ariz.) —Five Star Publications, Inc, of Chandler, Arizona, announces this year’s Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, a national writing contest conceived to honor published authors of all types of children’s literature.  
We are sending this information to you because of your support of authors and their books.  May we ask you to  pass this information along to authors you think deserving of an award.
Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2013.
The Purple Dragonfly Book Award will give a book increased attention and appreciation by the book industry and readers alike. Our judges are industry experts with specific knowledge about the categories over which they preside. Being honored with a Purple Dragonfly Book Award confers credibility upon the winner, as well as provides positive publicity to further their success. The goal of these awards is to give published authors the recognition they deserve and provide a helping hand to further their careers.
One winner will be chosen from all entries to receive the $300 grand prize.
 A complete list of categories and rules for eligibility and submissions can be found at www.fivestarpublications.com/bookcontest.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review - Gatsby Girls

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby Girls: Short Stories from the Saturday Evening Post

By: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: BroadLit
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0989020046
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: April 24, 2013

With all the hype surrounding the release of yet another Big Screen version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, it’s no surprise that other works of Fitzgerald’s are being re-released. As a fan of the author, this thrills me no end. So when Gatsby Girls came in for review, I grabbed it, hunkered down in my favorite over-sized chair, and started reading. What a delight!

Gatsby Girls features eight short stories that Fitzgerald wrote in the 1920s for the Saturday Evening Post. These were the first of 68 stories of Fitzgerald’s that the Post published, and they all feature strong, carefree women. These characters were the inspiration for the “Flapper” – the romantic version of the 20s girl who has been popularized through the years in both movies and books.

The first story, "Head and Shoulders" (my favorite of the group), introduces the reader to Horace Tarbox, an intellectual young man busy with his studies. He meets, and falls in love with, Marcia Meadow, a singer at the local theater. This appears to be a simple story of 'opposites attract' featuring the studious Horace, and the free-wheeling actress Marcia. She dubs them “Head and Shoulders” for the odd pairing of one with brains and one with “shoulders” (a dancer who swings her shoulders). But as the story progresses, an unexpected twist sees that fate reversed. Another favorite (although I enjoyed them all) was "The Ice Palace." In this tale, we meet Sally Carrol Happer, a young woman from Georgia. She’s bored with the quiet, dull life she has known and has decided to marry a northern man. When she travels north to meet his family, well, let’s just say winter is NOT the time for a Southern gal to travel north.

If you’re a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald and have never read these stories – or even if you have – you’ll want to get a copy of this book. Along with the stories, the original illustrations from the Post are included as well as two appendixes, one that has reproduced all the stories as they first appeared in the Post, complete with ads, and again, with the illustrations. It’s worth the time just to enjoy the ads of the 1920s! The second appendix is of all the illustrations, enlarged a bit for easier viewing.

If you’ve never read any work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, what are you waiting for? The writing is exquisite, so descriptive and inviting. Impress your friends with knowledge of these stories - and I'm willing to bet you will discover a "new," favorite author too.

At the front of the book is a brief biography that Fitzgerald wrote about himself for a weekly feature in the Post. This is followed by a brief history of the author’s time at the Post, including his salary (he went from $400/story to $4000/story!), critics’ opinions of the stories and his friends' reactions, as well as a look at the popularity of his work. Before each story is a brief history of that tale, when it was published and a few other facts the reader will likely find interesting.

Quill says: Get ready for the “new” Great Gatsby by sinking into your favorite chair and getting lost in this “new” offering of short stories. They are a wonderful, enjoyable view into the world of 1920s Flappers and a country springing to life after a devastating war.

Book Review - Booboo Stewart: Twilight's Breakout Idol

Booboo Stewart: Twilight's Breakout Idol

By: Marcia Amidon Lusted
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 1467708801
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2013

Multi-talented Booboo Stewart has definitely been launched into the limelight when he landed a starring role as Seth Clearwater in “Eclipse.” Booboo definitely has the right kind of moves he needed to play a shape-shifter, but he was no newcomer to acting. In fact, “he got his start onstage by learning martial arts when he was three.” He started out as a very young stuntman, but before long he was landing parts in movies and television. Acting wasn’t the only thing that interested Booboo. In fact, he just happens to play three instruments and was in the Disney band, T-Squad.

Perhaps it was there Booboo got a taste of what real stardom was all about when some “crazed fans” went after him at a football game. “They were trying to rip my arm off,” he claimed, “and we were running and running.” T-Squad was the first musical act he was with, but there were others, including one with his sisters. Of course if you’ve checked out his super good looks in “Eclipse,” it would be no surprise that his was a model. How about a writer? Yes, he tried that as well. In this book you’ll learn about charities he supports, his family life, how he got the part in “Eclipse,” roles in other movies, and you’ll learn many other interesting things about Booboo Stewart, superstar.

This is a fascinating book about Booboo Stewart that young fans will love. Booboo is one of those kinds of guys who has garnered admirers of all ages. This mini-biography is short, sweet and is perfect for kids who just have to know a bit more about their idol. The layout of the book is appealing with numerous full-color photographs and numerous small sidebars. For example, in one we learn that he is a “health nut” and does things like “goes to the gym six times a week.” In the back of the book is an index, source notes, and additional book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: If you love the Twilight Saga films, you just might want to take a closer look at Booboo!

Book Review - A Marked Man

A Marked Man: The Assassination of Malcolm X

By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-0761354840
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2013

Reverend Earl Little was a marked man when he began to speak out for “the rights of black Americans.” He was a member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), a group the Ku Klux Klan frowned upon. It was cause for lynching, but when they went to his home Earl wasn’t home. Instead of leaving a body behind, they left a warning: “If the Littles valued their lives, they would leave.” Malcolm had yet to be born, but the family did just that and ended up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and later Lansing where the family touched hands with violence once more when their house was torched. When Malcolm was six years old, tragedy struck when his father met with an “accident.” Louise Little was left alone to raise seven children.

Things didn’t bode well for the remaining Little family when Louise “suffered a mental breakdown and was officially declared insane.” As a young teen Malcolm was unable to cope with yet another loss and began to act out. As a result he ended up in a detention home, one in which he learned that “racism wasn’t always paired with hatred and violence,” but could come in the “form of kindness and ignorance.” When his half sister arrived for a visit, he learned about pride. He later moved to Boston and an unfortunate set of circumstances found him behind bars where he had years to rehash his life’s circumstances.

It was there he learned about the Nation of Islam (NOI) and Elijah Muhammad, their leader. Malcolm wanted in and it was then and there that he “felt he had a place in the world.” Once prison was behind him, Malcolm X, as he was then known, began to climb the ladder in the organization. Malcolm began speaking to the masses and “poor young blacks responded to his message.” He was a Black Muslim and felt violence was the way to effect change, not civil disobedience. In this book you’ll read about Malcolm X’s family, his role in the civil rights movement, his rift with the NOI, the history of slavery, the black struggle for civil rights, his split with the Nation of Islam, his assassination, and you’ll learn many other fascinating things about this “controversial civil rights leader.”

This is a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of Malcolm X. Many young people are more familiar with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., but in order to receive a good overview of the struggles occurring during the civil rights era, they need to know about other leaders as well. This book definitely captures another point of view during the era, one that was not necessarily a popular one at the time. The brief look at the history of black America gives the reader a good idea of what leadership during this time had to face. The book is liberally illustrated with black and white photographs and is interspersed with numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a timeline (1925 to 2012), some brief biographical portraits, source notes, a selected bibliography, and numerous book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This book is an excellent biography of Malcolm X that would be an outstanding addition to homeschool and classroom shelves.

Book Review - Tillie Pierce

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg

By: Tanya Anderson
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1467706926
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 24, 2013

The winds of war were in the air, swirling around Gettysburg and families prepared for the onslaught. The Shrivers and the Pierces, residents of the town, grew fretful when they heard “alarming news about growing tension between the Southern and Northern states.” Troops were converging on Gettysburg and families began to prepare, hiding their valuables and stockpiling food. Tillie Pierce, a fifteen-year-old girl, nervously watched the changes around her. The free blacks, fearing for their lives, began to move because they knew “they were in danger of being captured and dragged back into slavery.” Some fled to the woods while others sought shelter with families in the community.

The shouts began to ring out while Tillie was in class. “Children,” Mrs. Eyster urged, “run home as quickly as you can.” The desperate Rebels, led by Major General Early, were filling the streets. They began to plunder and loot the town, demanding food and stealing horses, including Tillie’s. The town became silent as they moved on and a few days later Union soldiers began to arrive and shots were fired. Hettie Shriver came knocking, asking for Tillie’s help with her children. She was going to head to her parent’s farm on Taneytown Road. Surely they would be safer there, so the Pierces agreed to the request.

Three miles seemed like a hundred as they waded through mud, trying to get to the farmhouse. The safety they longed for was not to be had, because the horrors of war quickly descended upon them. An explosion rocked the air and they “saw a man thrown high in the air and come down in a wheat field close by.” The man was brought into the Weikert household, but he would be the first of hundreds to fall in battle. Tillie began to hand out water to anyone in need, but soon knew that “instead of being safer out in the country, she and the others in the house were in great danger.” The Battle of Gettysburg and begun ... around the farmhouse.

This is a stunning account of Tillie Pierce, a teenager who witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg. Later, upon the urging of others, Tillie wrote her own story, excerpts of which are in this book. Instead of fleeing to a safe haven, Hattie Pierce, her young daughters, and Tillie found themselves in the midst of battle. The history of the Battle is here, but seen through the eyes of a teen the glories of war are definitely absent as she recalls piles of amputated limbs and hundreds of dying men. She tends to them as best she can, all the while fearful for her own family. The pages are liberally illustrated with black and white photographs, maps, and contain numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, an amazing activity (Taking Tillie’s Path: An Activity Using Google Earth), source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. This is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Quill says: This is an amazing book that young people interested in learning about the Civil War should definitely have on their list!

Book Review - Used Any Numbers Lately?

Used Any Numbers Lately? (Millbrook Picture Books)

By: Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1467708647
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2013

There are numbers all around us, but where can you see them? If you run and play in a hallway in an apartment building you'll see an "apartment number." A is for apartment, but if you get ready to hop on a school bus with your friends, you'll know which bus to get on when you see the "bus number." B is for bus, but when you have calendar time you need to point to "calendar numbers." Ah, but when the school day is done you can head to the candy store. There you'll be able to make your selection and will know how much you have to pay when you see those "dollar numbers.' D is for dollar, but what comes next?

If there is a little fire on your picnic table when the candles fall over, Dad knows just what to do. He'll call 911, an "emergency number." Not to worry because things will be fine. E is for emergency, but when you go on vacation it's fun to swim in the hotel pool. If you get in the elevator, you'll know when to get off when you see a "floor number." F is for floor, but when you are back in school you have a "grade number." G is for grade and everyone in Mrs. Wellington's 1st grade class is hamming it up for the camera. When the day is done, you'll head back home where the mailman has delivered your mail. He knows your "house number." H is for house, but can you think of other numbers to make your way through the rest of the alphabet?

This is a delightfully charming alphabet book based on numbers around us. Although the title of this book indicates a focus on numbers, it also focuses on the alphabet. Each letter is printed out in lower and uppercase letters on one side with a number to the left. Each number relates to things that most young children either see on a daily basis or are familiar with. The artwork is quite busy and very appealing. The book was unusually ingenious with some of the more "difficult" letters seen in alphabet books. For example, for the letter V we see grandma and grandpa dancing away as their young granddaughter puts the "volume number" on 35. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss during circle or storytime in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: This is the perfect book to acquaint young children with number and alphabet concepts!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Books In For Review

Here's a sample of the books that have come in for review recently.  Check them out and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews.  Enjoy!  :-)

Smemory by Yvonne Moore "Smemory" is the story of a smell that lived in a garden and in the heart and memory of a young princess who danced there once with her queen. Summers passed, and one fall day the princess came alone. A tumbling tear, for what had been lost, touched the last pink flower pushing up through cracking cobblestone. Entering her nose, the smell's key touched the sleeping memory, and like the pages of a story book, opened a smemory.

The Depth of Grace: Finding Hope at Rock Bottom by J. Bronson Haley From street fights and seances to drunken parties and drug runs into Mexico ...J. Bronson Haley lived life so fast that he'd sometimes wake up in a jail cell without having a clue as to how he got there. As one of the most feared street fighters in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bronson had a reputation that preceded him-and usually made people get out of his way. But in spite of the breakneck life that he lived-and the tough childhood he'd endured-Bronson discovered Someone strong and loving enough to pull him out of the deep hole he'd dug for himself: Jesus Christ. Now, in The Depth of Grace, Bronson shares the highlights-and lowlights-of his life ... and he pulls no punches. All the raw, gritty details are here, showing how Bronson failed miserably time and again. Even more, though, Bronson shares the story of how, through Jesus Christ, he overcame his sin and struggles by the grace of God and the power of His Word. And as a bonus, Bronson offers you "Rest Stops" along the way-bits of what Bronson has learned from God's Word and how he found out that the heroes of the Bible were just as human, sinful, and in need of God's grace as we are today. So fasten your seatbelts for a wild ride that stretches from Louisiana and Colorado to Florida and Mexico-and all the way into the arms of Jesus Christ! Through this amazing story, you'll see that God's grace is always deep enough to reach us in our darkest hour if we hold on to Him and His Word!

Lioslaith: Last of the Painted Ones by George C. Myles Lioslaith, Last of the Painted Ones is a historical fiction adventure about 9th century Picts amidst the turmoil of events shaping the birth of the Scottish nation. It is the story of a spirited woman's struggle to rise above the brutality of the age and its prejudices. The mysterious customs of her thousand year old culture are buffeted by winds of change that propel her and her fellow Picts headlong to their destiny. Lioslaith struggles to preserve the traditions that define her while a formidable seafaring foe and a new religion sweep across her homeland. Power lust, treachery, and revenge combine to test the strength of love and the human spirit in a tale where lives and Scottish history entwine.

Dining at the White House: From the President's Table to Yours by John Moeller

Bible Bullies: How Fundamentalists Got The Good Book So Wrong by C. Arthur Ellis and Leslie E. Ellis Bible Bullies is a controversial new book that explores the nature of a special kind of bully: the kind who use the Bible to force or coerce others into conforming to their beliefs. The book identifies fourteen personality traits of these bullies, their tactics, and how they misuse the Bible to abuse children and attack identified “out-groups,” including women, the LGBT community, and social programs for the disadvantaged. Six of these personality traits were previously identified in a study, commissioned after World War II by the American Jewish Committee, to try to understand the mind-set of Europeans who supported Hitler’s atrocities. Chapters discuss misogyny, sexual diversity, child abuse, intelligent design, social programs, and family planning, in the process revealing specific targets of Bible bullies and their misguided use of Scripture in their assault on their victims. After identifying the salient traits of Bible bullies and how they attack their victims, the book discusses the bullies’ MO—how they operate. Not content with abusing just the victims in their own hometown, the Bible bullies seek to expand their personal power through political means, by arguing against separation of church and state and pushing for an exclusively Christian nation. The final chapters reveal the crucial rift in the New Testament that laid the groundwork for those seeking to distort the message of peace and love brought by Jesus.

Bristol House by Beverly Swerling In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica. Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work. He’s also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House. In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished. In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets. Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to puzzle out—at their own peril. This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.

The 25,000 Mile Love Story: The Epic Story of the Couple Who Sacrificed Everything to Run the World by Serge Roetheli The 25,000 Mile Love Story is a love storybut not a love story in the traditional sense. It is not just about a man and woman; nor is it just about a husband and wife. There are many people who can write that story. Instead, this is a love story that has lasted a lifetimea love for the worlds roads and all the people who inhabit them. You will follow Serge Roetheli through his childhood as an adventurer, through his teen years as a boxer, and through his adult life as a runner and mountain guide. As he writes in this intriguing memoir, You will sit by my side as I fell in lovenot once, not twice, but three times. And you will run the road with me on The American Challenge and The World Tour. Then, you will return with me to where I belong, and I pray that you will take away some life lessons and the truth I have come to know so well.

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher First it was SLUT scribbled all over the school's lockers. But one week after Lizzie Hart takes her own life, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it--in Lizzie's own looping scrawl. Photocopies of her diary show up in the hands of her classmates. And her best friend, Angie, is enraged. Angie had stopped talking to Lizzie on prom night, when she caught Lizzie in bed with her boyfriend. Too heartbroken to let Lizzie explain the hookup or to intervene when Lizzie gets branded Queen of the Sluts and is cruelly bullied by her classmates, Angie left her best friend to the mercy of the school, with tragic results. But with this new slur, Angie's guilt transforms into anger that someone is still targeting Lizzie even after her death. Using clues from Lizzie's diary and aided by the magnetic, mysterious Jesse, Angie begins relentlessly investigating who, exactly, made Lizzie feel life was no longer worth living. And while she might claim she simply wants to punish Lizzie's tormentors, her anguish over abandoning and then losing her best friend drives Angie deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High--and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Shadow of Night: Book Two of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

Book Review - Bowled Over: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery

Bowled Over: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery

By: Victoria Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0425251928
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 23, 2013

Jaymie Leighton never figured that a hobby could turn into such a lucrative and fun job. She collected vintage kitchenware and cookbooks and whipped up a recipe for a successful business combining the two. People could picnic with a passion the old-fashioned way when they rented one of her themed picnic baskets filled to the brim with old dishes and a picnic with all the fixins. It was a blast to the past that even Lily Haxworth Wallace, vintage cookbook author, would give thumbs up to. Even curmudgeon Mrs. Trelawney Bellwood finally had to admit that the old stuff was better. One blast from Jaymie’s not-so-grand past walked into the Queensville Emporium to pick up a rental.

It was Jaymie’s old nemesis from Wolverhampton High, Kathy Cooper Hofstadter. Blast was the word for it when she tried to make small talk. “The fact that you can stand there,” she snarled, “and claim not to know what you did just astounds me.” Huh? True that Kathy was “the queen of holding grudges,” but seriously not knowing what she did was insane. Jaymie was going to the St. Clair Regatta to picnic with Daniel Collins even though she was secretly pining for Joel Anderson. Daniel just could be her “someone like you,” but she had to give him a chance. Looked like Kathy wasn’t giving anyone a break because she decided to lambaste Johnny Stanko for the heck of it.

Jaymie had nicknamed Kathy’s then future husband “Pooper Cooper” in high school, but that couldn’t be it. The St. Clair regatta had once again drawn to a close and the fireworks were over. Jaymie’s sister warned her about going into the disgusting public restroom, but she couldn’t have foreseen what she was about to find. “You found another body,” Detective Zachary Christian exclaimed. “What are the odds, in this fly-speck town, that one woman would find two bodies?” Things weren’t looking up for Jaymie because someone clunked Kathy over the head with a bowl of potato salad ... hers. The cause of their “subversive feud” would remain a mystery, but she had to solve this one or she just might be singing the blues behind bars.

Jaymie Leighton is really under pressure to find Kathy’s killer when it looks like she did it. Kathy Cooper Hofstadter is hotter than a pressure cooker ready to blow and even after her murder things are explosive in Queensville. This mystery has just the right mix of small town romance, a lost love, and those long, but not forgotten feuds that made it really interesting. Of course there were the small town characters that we all know, characters who just could have done it, including those mean gals in high school. Anyone could be toast in this one because Jaymie can’t seem to figure out whodunit until the very end. A fun cozy, but you sure won’t catch the killer unless Columbo is your middle name!

Quill says: If you want a cozy mystery with a lively vintage feel, Bowled Over is the perfect addition to your collection!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review - Loogie the Booger Genie: A Very Nasty Cold

Loogie the Booger Genie: A Very Nasty Cold (Volume 2)

By: N.E. Castle
Illustrated by: Bret Herholz & N.E. Castle
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4802-1970-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 22, 2013

For those who missed the first in this truly funny series, this tale brings back Loogie, the Prince of Prank!

Loogie is actually Prince Loogar who, eight hundred and five years ago, was made into a genie and shoved into a bottle by a wizard. This was punishment because the Prince was a real snot, and he will only be freed from the bottle when he has done good deeds and erased his arrogance.

The problem is that while on vacation, an eight-year-old boy named Charlie Simms was investigating Garoth Castle and ended up with the small genie bottle stuck in his nose. Ever since, he has been Loogie’s ‘master’ - so to speak - and when Charlie rubs three times on his nose Loogie appears (hanging from his nostril) in order to grant Charlie wishes, play games with him, and learn how to be a true friend.

Charlie is a good boy and he actually thinks of Loogie as a pal. He wants to help him be free, but without Loogie stepping up and changing his attitude, that’s just not going to happen. In this new tale, Charlie wakes up one Saturday morning extremely sick. He feels ill and when he sneezes or his nose itches, well…let’s just say that Loogie comes out at the wrong times.

When Loogie grants the wish for Charlie to feel better, Loogie takes on the cold. Charlie calls upon Hendrick (who is the wizard that’s still alive after hundreds and hundreds of years because he made a promise to his King that he would watch over the Prince). Hendrick arrives in an ice cream truck, and Charlie wishes for the wizard to have his laboratory with him so he can cure Loogie and make him feel better. Well, you know how when you’re sick you don’t really hear things all that well? When Charlie wishes for Hendrick’s laboratory he receives a lavatory from a very sick little genie. He also receives something else…

Magic is released into Charlie’s town in the form of everything from fairies to a really angry centaur, and Charlie - along with his friends Kate and Tom - has to figure out a way to rid the town of magical creatures before the secret of Loogie is discovered. Add in a very evil genie that has suddenly appeared in Charlie’s life, and you have a huge mess on your hands that only Loogie can make right.
As with the first book, this is an extremely hysterical character that - even though he may sound a bit ‘icky’ - allows children to have a ball!

Quill Says: This series is a winner. Hopefully Loogie will be back very, very soon!

For more information on Loogie the Booger Genie: A Very Nasty Cold (Volume 2), please visit the author's website at: www.necastlebooks.com

Book Review - Adele: Soul Music's Magical Voice

Adele: Soul Music's Magical Voice (USA Today Lifeline Biographies)

By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1467708081
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 2013

Adele was a little girl who “was fascinated by voices.” Raised in a single-parent household, she didn’t feel deprived. In fact, her collective upbringing by her mother Penny’s side of the family was probably a blessing in disguise. Adele dreamed about several different careers when she was growing up in Tottenham, but “music moved her and made her feel connected to people all over the world.” She liked a variety of music, but there was something special she found in Etta James’s and Ella Fitzgerald’s voices. School just didn’t cut it for Adele and when she finally was accepted into the London School for the Performing Arts & Technology, the BRIT school, it was there she’d find the confidence she needed.

Could she possibly become a singer? It wouldn’t be long before she “was convinced that she had what it took to become a vocalist. “ Her friends were impressed with her work and they helped her put her songs on the Internet. Adele got an e-mail from XL recordings, but because she’d never heard of them she put them on ignore. It wasn’t a joke because at the age of eighteen, “Adele and XL agreed to a recording contract in September of 2006.” Just who was this Adele? It wouldn’t be long before most of the world knew about her. She began to write songs for her album, but even before it was released she began to perform.

The buzz was out, “All without releasing a single album,” but when her debut album came out there was a roar. Her album “19,” raced to the top and she garnered the Critic’s Choice award. Fame would prove difficult for her, in fact somewhat depressing, but soon she’d have to head to America to see if she could break into a new market. Adele’s first venue was at Joe’s Pub in New York City. She had nothing to fear because she was on her way. In this book you’ll read about her musical influences, her albums, how she had to promote herself, her Grammys, her relationships, problems with her voice, her achievements, and you’ll learn many other interesting things about Adele, “soul music’s magical voice.”

This is a fascinating biography of Adele, the woman with a mesmerizing voice. Even if you are unfamiliar with Adele, by the time you’ve finished this book and checked her out on YouTube, you’ll probably be a fan. Young readers will undoubtedly be inspired by Adele’s work and engaging personality. The book has full-color photographs, period USA Today articles, and numerous informative sidebars. For example, you learn about how many were critical of her style in “Image Isn’t Everything.” There are several sidebars about people in the music business who have influenced her style including Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, the Spice Girls, Mary J. Blige, and others. In the back of the book is an index, a timeline (1998 to 2012), a discography, expansive source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: If you love music and want to learn more about Adele's life, you'll love this biography!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Review - Don't Screw It Up!

Don’t Screw It Up!: Avoid 434 Goofs To Save Time, Money, and Face

By: Laura Lee
Publisher: Readers Digest
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1621450054
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: April 20, 2013

From cooking burgers on the grill to avoiding credit card dept, Don’t Screw It Up! tackles an amazingly wide range of common “screw ups,” and tells the reader just what to do to either avoid or correct said mistake. It’s fun, interesting, and has a surprisingly large amount of useful information within its pages.

Don’t Screw It Up! is divided into thirteen chapters:

Don’t Screw Up Your Home
Your DIY
Your Food
The Great Outdoors
How You Look
Your Health
Your Transportation
Your Job or Your Computer
Your Money
Your Vacation
A Good Time
Your Relationships
Worst-Case Scenario

Each chapter is then further divided into numerous sections, each on a different “screw up.” The book is very attractively designed, bright, and easy to read. There are sidebars throughout with “top screwups” for each topic as well as for additional suggestions. One of the best things about this book, beyond the helpful hints, is that the author is funny, very funny. She is candid, tells it like it is, and inserts humor that helps keep the pages turning. You won’t fall asleep reading this book!

When I first saw this book, I thought, well, what on earth can I learn from a book like this? A few handy tips on how to get stains out of my clothes? But no, there is a LOT of helpful information here. And while there are some basic tips such as locking your doors to keep burglars out of your house (you’re thinking sure, of course, it goes without saying), even with these "obvious" suggestions, the author then takes it a step further (in this case, by pointing out that “…a surprising number of burglaries occur with no forced entry.") Hmmm….maybe it isn’t so obvious?

Beyond the basics, there are just so many useful ideas within the pages of the book. I now know how to open those incredibly annoying hard plastic packages so many products are wrapped in; what to do (and NOT to do) for frostbite, why so many people tend to use more paper today than before recycling; and how to tell if a compost pile is properly working as well as a myriad of other things that I didn’t even know I didn’t know.

Quill says: Whether you need to fix your car, a picture frame, or even fix your dating life, Don’t Screw It Up! will likely have the answer you need. And you’ll have a really good laugh while reading it too!

In Book Publishing, Less Is The New More

The hottest book publishing trend today: less is the new more.

“The first time I saw a 73-page ‘book’ offered on Amazon, I was outraged,” says New York Times best selling author Michael Levin.  “But I thought about how shredded the American attention span is.  And I felt like Cortez staring at the Pacific.”

The trend in books today, Harry Potter notwithstanding, is toward books so short that in the past no self-respecting publisher—or author—would even have called them books.  But today, shortened attention spans call for shorter books.

Levin blames smartphones and social media for what he calls “a worldwide adult epidemic of ADH…ooh, shiny!”

“Brain scientists tell us our brain chemistry has been transformed by short-burst communication such as texting, Tweeting, and Facebook posts,” Levin adds.  “Long magazine articles have given way to 600-word blog posts.  And doorstop-size books have been replaced by minibooks.”

This sudden change in attention spans changed the way Levin approaches ghostwriting.  “Even five years ago, we aimed for 250-page books.  Today we advise our business clients to do 50-page minibooks to meet impatient readers’ expectations for speedy delivery of information.”

Levin, who runs the ghostwriting firm BusinessGhost.com and was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, says that people are looking for leadership disguised as a book.  “Today,” he asserts, “people don’t want you to prove your assertions.  They just want to know that you have legitimate answers to their questions and that they can trust you.  If you can’t get buy-in with 50 pages today, you won’t get it in 250.”

The trend toward shorter books caused Levin to offer what he calls the “Book-Of-The-Quarter Club,” which creates four 50-page hardcover minibooks a year for BusinessGhost’s clients.  “This allows them to address four different major issues, or four different sets of prospects, and provides quarterly opportunities for marketing events,” Levin says.

How short will books eventually run?  

“Can you say ‘haiku’?” Levin asks.  “We’re waiting for a three-line, 17 syllable book.  It could happen.”

 About Michael Levin
Michael Levin, founder and CEO of BusinessGhost, Inc., has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others; and one that became “Model Behavior,” an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week. His new minibook, “The Financial Advisor's Dilemma,” teaches how to create trust and distinctiveness in the highly competitive marketplace.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Books in for Review

Here's a sampling of books that have come in for review recently.  Check them out and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews.

Don't Sell Grain to a Bird on Credit and More Arab by Stephen J. McGrane “If you are seeking deeper cultural understanding and a window into the Arab mind, Stephen McGrane’s book is a balanced and delightful guided tour laced with the fragrances, textures, and tastes of an Arab bazaar. You can sample this collection of proverbial delights and experience all of the flavor without the heaviness of more traditional narratives. McGrane’s choice of Arab proverbs delivers quick snapshots of cultural intimacy in an easily digestible little package that is fun to read and yet immensely satisfying.” —Ilario Pantano Author, conservative commentator, and Marine veteran of Desert Storm and Iraq “This book is a comprehensive collection of simple and common Arab proverbs that will be of interest to anyone in our global society. Stephen McGrane did a great job of gathering proverbs from all the regions of the Arab world.” —Salam Al-Manasir, MD Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, UAE “As the world becomes increasingly ‘flat,’ Stephen McGrane’s follow-up book on Arab proverbs is recommended for business leaders seeking to do business in the region and is a conversation starter.” —Binh Q. Tran, Ph.D. Assistant Dean, School of Engineering, Catholic University of America “Proverbs are a key part of Arabic culture, and Stephen McGrane did a wonderful job of collecting and interpreting them, giving readers a unique insight into the rich lives and heritage of the Arab people.” —Mike Hawa, MBA Diageo Plc, Dubai, UAE “Stephen McGrane did not let ‘haste make waste’ from Volume 1: Trust in God but Tie Your Camel to producing Volume 2: Don’t Sell Grain to a Bird on Credit. His impressive collection of Arab proverbs continues to provide a vehicle for more people to have a greater chance to learn about the beautiful Arab culture through this collection of simple, honest, and funny concrete sayings.” —Richard Schuttler, Ph.D. International public speaker and best-selling author.

A Wicked Thing by Michael Kasenow Murders, ghosts and madness! Jonathan MacAlister recovers from a family tragedy to discover that a beautiful serial killer and an angelic spirit are competing for his life and death.

Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’son just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither could ever have imagined.

Santa's Sugar by jane Gerencher Nugget, a little elf in Santa's workshop, has difficulty finding his place and purpose. After various job attempts in and out of the workshop, Nugget accepts the responsibility of caring for Santa's beloved cat, Sugar. He does well at his job until one Christmas Eve when Sugar can't be found. Desperate to find her, Nugget is aided by a friendly reindeer. The themes of teamwork, fairness, gratitude, friendship, and doing the right thing flow gently under a delightful story of self discovery with charming illustrations to match.

Time Flies: A Novel by Claire Cook Years ago, Melanie followed her husband, Kurt, from the New England beach town where their two young sons were thriving to the suburbs of Atlanta. She’s carved out a life as a successful metal sculptor, but when Kurt leaves her for another woman, having the tools to cut up their marriage bed is small consolation. She’s old enough to know that high school reunions are often a big disappointment, but when her best friend makes her buy a ticket and an old flame gets in touch to see if she’ll be going, she fantasizes that returning to her past might help her find her future . . . until her highway driving phobia resurfaces and threatens to hold her back from the adventure of a lifetime.

Royal Mistress by Anne Easter Smith Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows King Edward will find her irresistible. Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as those of Jane and Will Hastings, hangs in the balance. Jane must rely on her talents to survive as the new monarch, Richard III, bent on reforming his brother’s licentious court, ascends the throne. This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for five hundred years, and, as told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well.

A Certain Summer by Patricia Beard Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war.

A Diet To Die For Sarah Steding Meet Jen Stevens—a New York City event planner with a sweet tooth who’s thirty pounds overweight, in her thirties and flirting with disaster when it comes to sticking to her diet. Her work at the Yummy Channel constantly surrounds her with deep-fried, sugar-coated, chocolate-dipped temptation. When one of the channel’s most renowned celebrity bakers meets an early demise, Jen is hungry to find the truth. Baker extraordinaire Bess Brantwood is the Yummy Channel’s brightest star—and the biggest diva of them all. Despite the off-camera drama, Jen has to admit that Bess’s chocolate buttercream cupcakes drizzled with caramel are simply to die for—and kill for, as it turns out—when Bess’s body is discovered outside her bakery. Who iced the cupcake queen? With the help of her BFFs—fab food-blogger Gabby and super-fit life coach Elizabeth—Jen starts sifting for clues. She’s got all the ingredients for the perfect crime, including one delectable detective, one divalicious diary, and enough industry rivals for a battle of the network stars. But is Jen prepared to risk her life as well as her waistline?

Gatsby Girls by F. Scott Fitzgerald She was an impulsive, fashionable and carefree 1920s woman who embodied the essence of the Gatsby Girl -- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. As Fitzgerald said, "I married the heroine of my stories." All of the eight short stories contained in this collection were inspired by Zelda. Fitzgerald, one of the foremost writers of American fiction, found early success as a short story writer for the most widely read magazine of the early 20th century -- the Saturday Evening Post. Fitzgerald's stories, first published by the Post between 1920 and 1922, brought the Jazz Age and the "flapper" to life and confirmed that America was changing faster than ever before. Women were bobbing their hair, drinking and flirting shamelessly, and Fitzgerald brought these exciting Gatsby Girls to life in the pages of the Post. A foreword by Jeff Nilsson, archivist for the Post, adds historical context to this wonderful, new collection, which is highlighted by an introduction written by Fitzgerald himself. Each story is accompanied by the original illustrations and the beautiful cover images from the Post. Read the stories that made F. Scott Fitzgerald one of the most beloved writers in America -- and around the world -- still today.

The Time Between by Karen White Eleanor Murray will always remember her childhood on Edisto Island, where her late father, a local shrimper, shared her passion for music. Now her memories of him are all that tempers the guilt she feels over the accident that put her sister in a wheelchair—and the feelings she harbors for her sister’s husband. To help support her sister, Eleanor works at a Charleston investment firm during the day, but she escapes into her music, playing piano at a neighborhood bar. Until the night her enigmatic boss walks in and offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, back on Edisto. For Eleanor, it’s a chance to revisit the place where she was her happiest—and to share her love of music with grieving Helena, whose sister recently died under mysterious circumstances. An island lush with sweetgrass and salt marshes, Edisto has been a peaceful refuge for Helena, who escaped with her sister from war-torn Hungary in 1944. The sisters were well-known on the island, where they volunteered in their church and community. But now Eleanor will finally learn the truth about their past: secrets that will help heal her relationship with her own sister—and set Eleanor free...

Book Review - The Whispering Lake Ghosts: A Mystery About Sound

The Whispering Lake Ghosts: A Mystery About Sound

By: Lynda Beauregard
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1467707343
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: April 16, 2013

Lightning bolts lit up the sky as rain poured down around Camp Dakota. Jordan was ready to head out to eat, but Braelin hid under the bed. No way he was going to venture out in that storm. Jordan tried to reassure him that it would be fine because the lighting wasn’t close. He thought about it and said, “I think there’s a way you can tell, by counting the seconds between the flash and the sound.” Kyle, a camp counselor, came to hustle them off to the camp cafeteria and then gave them the formula for figuring out just how far away that lightning was. By using his calculations there wouldn’t be a problem. Once everyone worked through them they knew the storm was more than a mile away. The sound of thunder really got to Braelin, but the sound of something else was getting to some of the other campers. It was the Lake Ghosts.

Everyone started to debate whether or not the ghosts were “real,” but no doubt there was something strange going on down by the water. It was time to wrap up their dinner and Kyle got them off the subject of ghosts as he began instructing them. This time the campers would learn how to make a flute. Loraine wanted to know just how the flute worked. Kyle explained to her that “The air vibrates inside the flute, which makes a sound covering the holes where vibrating air comes out.” After they made their flutes the campers headed out to sit by a log near the lake to practice. There was a lot of noise from the flutes, but suddenly a strange sound began to come from the lake. “Mmrmur mmrmur.” It had to be the Lake Ghosts, but if they were real, how would the Camp Dakota campers find them?

This is a fascinating mystery that will intrigue young science detectives. Told in a graphic novel format, this science mystery will appeal to a wide range of readers, including the reluctant one. The science lessons introduce various concepts of sound and how they work. The mystery is fun and the science is woven into it, but doesn’t overwhelm the story. There are numerous informative sidebars scattered throughout the book that explain what happens. For example, we learn that “Sound travels faster in fluids and solids than it does in gases.” Undoubtedly, most youngsters who read this mystery are going to want to try one or both experiments in the back of the book. There are step-by-step instructions on how to make a sound cannon or a telephone. There is also a list of “Mysterious Words” and some additional tips that might have helped solve the mystery of “The Whispering Lake Ghosts.”

Quill says: If you have young science detectives in your classroom, the "Summer Camp Science Mysteries" series is one you should be looking at!

Book Review - Through Frankie's Eyes

Through Frankie’s Eyes: One Woman's Journey to Her Authentic Self, and the Dog on Wheels Who Led the Way

By: Barbara Techel
Publisher: Joyful Paws Prints
Publication Date: February 2013
ISBN: 978-0980005295
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: April 15, 2013

What happens when one woman, trying to find herself, falls in love with one very special dog? A deep bond develops that can carry the pair through just about anything life might throw at them. That’s the story of Through Frankie’s Eyes.

Barbara Techel was a young wife, with a loving husband, but no real direction in her life. She had worked for over a decade at a job she liked until a manager, who kept taking credit for her work, got the best of her and she left. She eventually went to work with her husband, doing office work for their construction company. But money was tight so Barbara, with her husband’s blessing, took $400 to invest in a vitamin supplement marketing business. Unfortunately, Techel didn’t have the makings to be a pushy saleswoman and so, the job never took off for her. She didn’t give up, though, and after a year, was planning on taking a test that would take her to the next level with the company.

Right before the weekend of the test, Techel found a lump on her beloved chocolate lab Cassie. Managing to get through the stressful test while worrying about her dog, Techel rushed her dog to the veterinarian as soon as she could. After a series of tests, the vet told Techel that the news was not good. Cassie had bone cancer and while there was medicine that could prolong her life, she didn’t have long to live. It was only with the love of her family and her other very special dog, Frankie, a sweet dachshund, that Techel managed to get through the trying time.

After Cassie’s passing, Techel and her husband brought a new dog into their lives. Kylie, another lab, and Frankie loved each other from the start and all seemed well. While Techel still struggled with finding herself, and a job that would bring meaning to her life, she counted her blessings and tried to move on. That was until Frankie had an accident that could possibly end her life.

Through Frankie’s Eyes is as much about Frankie’s owner as it is about the dog. The struggles Techel went through, the jobs, the insecurities and feelings of guilt, experiences with a life coach and how she eventually found her life’s calling, all play a part in this story. The book is a fairly quick read and while it took a bit to get to the “meat” of the story, the reader will be rewarded with a touching story once that happens. It seems that all is lost when Frankie gets a crushing diagnosis, but that is truly the beginning of a new life for both the adorable dachshund and his loving owner.

Quill says: You might just shed a tear as you read about the love between Frankie and Techel, and how they saved each other’s life.

Book Review - A Marvelous Mustang

A Marvelous Mustang: Tales From The Life Of A Spanish Horse

By: Janice M. Ladendorf
Publisher: iUniverse.com
Publication Date: December 2010
ISBN: 978-1450269605
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: April 2013

A Marvelous Mustang tells the true story of Skan, a registered Spanish Mustang who was bred and raised on the ranges of North Dakota by the Horse Head Ranch. While he was “owned” by humans, he really was born wild, enjoying his first months of life roaming with the herd. One day, while he was still at his mother’s side, he was rounded up and sold to “Wind,” a human so named by Skan because of her clean scent. This is the story of how Wind tamed and trained Skan, while he, at the same time, trained Wind to the ways of the mustang.

Told in the first person by Skan, the reader sees and experiences everything the young mustang encounters. From his early fear of humans, to his encounters with a veterinarian and blacksmith, Skan has a lot to share. During the horse’s first year, he slowly comes around to easing his fear of humans, but also tests them to see just who is herd boss. As an example of this testing, once the colt had figured out that treats were good, he decided that perhaps he could control how many (more, lots more!) treats he could get. He used horse language (what else?) to “encourage” Wind to dispense more treats. He laid his ears flat back against his neck, and pushed her with his nose. When that didn’t work, Skan next bared his teeth and finally, charged at her. But Wind also “spoke horse” and body slammed the colt, almost knocking him down. Lesson learned.

The book follows Skan through his four-year-old year and saddle training. He gets moved to a few different barns and reading his reactions to new environments is fun and informative. The horse must adjust to new smells, new horses, and new people. Along the way, the much loved mustang also observes a couple of other horses being mistreated by their humans. While he tries to figure out why a human would want to hurt their horse, the reader too, will be wondering.

Told in the first person by a horse, a story such as this can be hard to pull off. I admit that it did take a little getting used to as Skan told his story, but after the first few chapters, it failed to be an issue and the story could be enjoyed. Chapters were fairly short and made for easy reading, broken up into sections by the age of Skan. Also, at the end of each chapter were “New Rules for My Survival Code” which was a summary of what Skan had learned in that chapter.

There are a lot of lessons in A Marvelous Mustang, both for the horse as well as the humans involved as the author explores the mind of a mustang. Skan is not a “normal” (raised from birth in captivity) horse and so his reactions can be a bit different. Fear must be overcome – slowly – before any real training can begin. Again and again, fear came into the picture as Skan resorted to his strong, natural survival instincts. Some of the horse reactions, explanations, and training methods are fairly basic and will do well to educate the new horse owner, while there are still several where experienced equestrians just may learn a thing or two.

Quill says: Whether a new horse lover or an experienced horse trainer, A Marvelous Mustang is sure to entertain.