Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Review - Down & Out in Bugtussle

Down & Out in Bugtussle: The Mad Fat Road to Happiness

By: Stephanie McAfee
Publisher: NAL - New American Library
Publication Date: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-451-23990-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 1, 2013

Anyone who fell in love with Diary of a Mad Fat Girl and the follow-up, Happily Ever Madder, will be jumping for joy about this new release. The fun, the friends - everything is back as we once again meet up with our favorite character, Ace Jones.
Now that the fiancé has been left behind, Ace is headed back to Bugtussle, Mississippi, taking solace in the fact that she’s back in the world where she’s always felt safe. Living in Gramma Jones’ house, Ace wants to lick a wound or two, and find a new path. But it seems that many things are standing in her way.

When it comes to the job front, the art teacher who took over Ace’s position when she left is more than a bit annoying. She has no interest in vacating the position to allow Ace to retake her former place. This sends Ace down the school’s staff food chain a wee bit, landing her with the position of substitute teacher. All Ace can really think about is how to make Miss Becker get the heck out of dodge so she can have her job back.

As far as friends go, Chloe and Lilly (the best fiends a girl could ever have, by the way), are working on bringing Ace out of her newly-formed shell. They want her to start dating again and get back into the world of romance; but the last thing Ace wants to do is deal with her love life.

So, to forget the ‘man factor,’ Ace begins a do-it-yourself project to keep her mind engaged. This comes in the form of restoring her grandmother’s once amazing gardens. Yet, when Ace finds a gardening book stuffed with notes that indicate Gramma had a beau, Ace throws herself into the mystery. This way, she can keep her mind on a puzzle, stay away from the blind dates her friends are begging to set her up on, and basically heal herself by looking into a mysterious past.

They’re all back and more fun than ever. Even the little chiweenie, Buster Loo, is still standing by Ace’s side, and fans will have an absolute ball.

Quill says: Ace Jones will always be that girl who reminds us of ourselves, and shows us that you’re never really alone when you’re with Me, Myself, and I.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Feathered Quill Book Awards are Here!

We're very excited to announce the establishment of the Feathered Quill Book Awards.  After much thought, and several months of fine tuning the details, we have come up with an award program that we believe is unique and offers many advantages to the author wishing to promote his/her work. 

Open to all size publishers, from the large NY houses to the small, one or two book self-publisher, we are offering a select number of categories so a win at Feathered Quill will bring prestige to the book carrying our award seal.  We have also kept the nominating fees low because we understand that authors are working on a tight budget.  There is even an 'early bird' reduced nomination fee to encourage early nominations. 

We have several promotional opportunities that are included for the winning books, from press releases to entrance into our online store that is linked to our high-traffic book review site.  In addition to the category awards, there is a growing list of 'special awards,' awards valued anywhere from $100 to $1000!  Finally, to recognize the special efforts that self-publishers must take to publish/promote their books, we've established several special awards to honor the top placing self-published books.  To learn more about our program and to nominate YOUR book, please visit Feathered Quill Book Awards.

Books in for Review

Wow!  Lots of interesting books have come in during the last week.  We're going to be very busy!  Here's a sample of the books.  Check them out and then stop by in a few weeks to read the reviews.  Enjoy!

The Pipers: and the First Phase by Kuir ë Garang Little Michael, Christopher Fox and Isaac Burns don’t know that their paths will cross and their lives changed in a cruel manner that sees them through the intricate web of Africa’s political heartache, manifested in a well-orchestrated coup attempt in the African country of Sivals. Little witnesses an overnight success of his business only to see the building burnt down in a calculated sabotage. Chris sees his life changed from prominence to near pauperism. Isaac Burns thinks, with blunt self-righteousness, that his philanthropic work is enough an effort to win the hearts of his fellow countrymen in Panda, and the whole of the African continent. He’d soon learn the bitter reality of his capitalist life. The problem though is the three men don’t know that someone is watching every single step they take in their lives. Will they learn the bitter truth? The truth will first taste bitter before the end of their nightmares.  

The Silver Sphere: The Kin Chronicles by Michael Dadich Shelby Pardow never imagined she could kill someone. All she wants to do is hide from her troubled father... when she is teleported to awaiting soldiers on the planet Azimuth. Here she is not a child, but Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members whom Malefic Cacoethes has drugged and imprisoned. He seeks to become dictator of this world (and then Earth by proxy). His father, Biskara, is an evil celestial entity, tracked by the Assembly with an armillary device, The Silver Sphere. With the Assembly now deposed, Biskara directs Malefic and the Nightlanders to their strategic targets. Unless.... Can Shelby find the other Kin, and develop courage and combat skills? Can the Kin reassemble in time to release or replace the Assembly, overthrowing Malefic and restraining Biskara?  
Plum Deadly by Ellie Grant Unjustly accused of cooking the books, Maggie Grady is forced to retreat from her high-flying New York financial career to the town where she grew up. Her aunt Clara greets her with open arms and a job at the family-owned business that has baked the best pies in the South for over forty years. Unfortunately, while Maggie is determined to return to banking, her reputation there seems permanently in the pits. That is, until her old boss, Lou, visits with news that he’s found the real crook. Before he can reveal the details, though, Maggie finds his body right behind the pie shop.

Dark, Love, and Light: A 21st Century Play with Shakespeare-style Language by Marcus Brady From the Author: either 1997 or 1998 (I remember I was seventeen), I was lying in bed one night, and I got the idea of a girl on a beach. Soon after this, I got the idea of a title for a book – Dark and Light. I joined the two ideas together and this was the start of my play Dark, Love, and Light, its first scene, and its lead character, Annabel. I conceived Dark and Light as a novel at first, but whilst I was reading Shakespeare’s complete works, the novel became a play. Dark and Light was the title of my book until 2008, when I was on the Internet one day, and came across information pertaining to a video game called Dark and Light. 

Wild Nights by Mary Ellen Courtney Age 32 is when a woman figures it out. At least that was true for Hannah Spring. Her job as a production designer was going great in Los Angeles. Her mostly crazy family was at a safe distance in San Diego. And after a rather lengthy run of bad ideas made more interesting than they deserved to be by her vivid imagination, she was dating a man with only one name. Her last man had needed an alias. Life was good. Her hope, like a promise-filled seed that drifts to earth in search of safe nurturing soil, was that it would just keep getting better. Then her beloved grandmother died and bequeathed the poet Emily Dickinson to Hannah as well as, well, a dead bird. Dead or alive, Grandma made sure Hannah knew about "Wild Nights." At least that's what Hannah thought a year later, after many miles and men and coconuts. By then she knew she'd never figure it all out, but knew she could figure out a lot as she went along. Which was even better.

The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web…Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope—and passionately in love with her. Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept.

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian Day One-I swam around my bowl. Day Two- I swam around my bowl. Twice. And so it goes in this tell-all tale from a goldfish. With his bowl to himself and his simple routine, Goldfish loves his life…until one day… When assorted intruders including a hyperactive bubbler, a grime-eating snail, a pair of amorous guppies, and a really crabby crab invade his personal space and bowl, Goldfish is put out, to say the least. He wants none of it, preferring his former peace and quiet and solitude. But time away from his new companions gives him a chance to rethink the pros and cons of a solitary life. And discover what he’s been missing.

Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Who: Football From the editors of Sports Illustrated Kids comes The Big Book of Who: Football, a 128-page collection of the brightest stars in America's favorite sport, past and present. Profiles, facts and stats will bring the best players in pro football history to life with all of the classic touches that Sports Illustrated Kids is famous for - terrific, age-appropriate writing and exciting sports photography. Gridiron greats such as, from Sammy Baugh to Cam Newton, Jim Brown to Emmitt Smith, Dick Butkus to Ray Lewis will be profiled.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall Fade to Black by Jeffrey Wilson Jack is a young man caught between two terrifying worlds. In one, he is Marine Sergeant Casey Stillmam, locked in combat in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq. He is lying next to his dead and dying friends, bleeding in the street - until he wakes up at home, in bed with his wife. In this other world, Jack is a high school science teacher, husband, and devoted father to his little girl. But the nightmares of war continue to haunt him, and to Jack/Casey they feel in many ways more real than his life at home with his family. When news of killed Marines in Fallujah surface, Jack realizes he knows far more about these men then he should. But, when the dead Marines begin visiting him while he is awake-he realizes he is in serious trouble. Faced with the possibility of losing his mind, or far worse, the nightmares being real, Jack knows he must somehow find a way to bridge the two realities and fight his way back from the nightmares to save his wife and little girl.  

Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes It was meant to be a diversion — a summer in Florence with her best friend, Liam, and his travel-writer mom, doing historical research between breaks for gelato. A chance to forget that back in Vermont, May’s parents, and all semblance of safety, were breaking up. But when May wakes one night sensing someone in her room, only to find her ghostly twin staring back at her, normalcy becomes a distant memory. And when later she follows the menacing Cristofana through a portale to fourteenth-century Florence, May never expects to find safety in the eyes of Marco, a soulful painter who awakens in her a burning desire and makes her feel truly seen. The wily Cristofana wants nothing less of May than to inhabit each other’s lives, but with the Black Death ravaging Old Florence, can May’s longing for Marco’s touch be anything but madness? Lush with atmosphere both passionate and eerie, this evocative tale follows a girl on the brink of womanhood as she dares to transcend the familiar — and discovers her sensual power.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Interview with Author Enid Harlow

Today we're talking with Enid Harlow, author of Good to Her

FQ: Your characters in Good to Her are beautifully portrayed and full of life. Which one is your favorite and why?

Most writers, like good parents, don't play favorites. I'm in love with all my characters.

FQ: What inspired you to choose Dinty Moore’s as your iconic backdrop in Good to Her?

I have fond memories of the place, having often gone there for dinner as a child with my father.

FQ: Nate often considers the question of whether or not he was good to her. Why did you center on this perspective throughout the story?

That seemed to me to be the heart of the story.

FQ: You allude to Sallie’s marital infidelities and Nate’s awareness of them, yet there seems to be acceptance of this factor. Why?

The answer to that resides deep in Nate's character.

FQ: Your connection with your characters is clear. Without presenting too much of a spoiler, how difficult was it to write your ending?

Endings are always difficult. This one, particularly so.

Author Enid Harlow

FQ: New York has an incredibly bountiful and intriguing history. As a native New Yorker, if you were able to take a period of time from New York’s distant past and replay it today, what period would that be and why?

I'd go with the present. What's happening at the moment is always the most exciting.

FQ: Is there a topic you would like to write about; yet shy away from it because you don’t have an instant connection? If so, what is the topic and why the aversion?

No such topic, no aversion.

FQ: What would be a “must do” you would recommend a New York City visitor to do and why?

For first-time visitors: walk through Central Park; walk along the High Line; walk through China Town and the Broadway district and Riverside Park. Walk, walk, walk. New York is one of the only cities in the U.S. where that's still possible.

FQ: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Good to Her and thank you for the opportunity to interview you. Is there a possibility you could provide a glimpse into your current project and its anticipated release?

I am currently working on a collection of short stories. No release date yet.

To learn more about Good to Her please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review - Good to Her

Good To Her

By: Enid Harlow
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-62516-398-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 24, 2013

In her latest novel, Good To Her, Enid Harlow delivers a bittersweet tale that spans New York’s Prohibition era to the changing and evolving times of the ‘60’s as Nate Neumann ponders the true meaning of love and the essence of its worth.

Nate Neumann is a successful and accomplished New York city businessman. He is the president of Chicle; the company responsible for the famed Chiclets® gum. The year is 1964 and today he reflects on the countless years his life was blessed because of his wife, Sallie. How appropriate his reminiscing should occur in James Moore’s iconic New York eatery, Dinty Moore’s; a place he has frequented for decades. This was the one place Nate resolved as the only true home he ever knew. Long gone are his inner circle of fight night buddies—one-by-one over the years beginning with James. Today his thoughts are not reserved for them. Today is Sallie’s day. He remembers the first time he laid eyes on his beautiful Sallie—young and full of life Sallie with her piercing green eyes, contagious laugh and exuberance toward life. He goes back to Wednesday night—November 21, 1945. Sallie May Wheeler walked through the front, etched-glass door of Dinty Moore’s. She chose him—a man more than twenty years her senior…him. Was he Good to Her? He wondered...

For some it was as much a shock as a surprise when Nate married Sallie; yet others understood why. It was his destiny. It was the one event in his life that could wash away the guilt his father imposed on him from the day he was born—a day when just as he was being brought into the world, his mother was washed away. How could that have been Nate’s fault? It doesn’t matter; his father insisted it was. Sallie came and so began his chance to do life over. Nate was blessed with the prospect of taking her innocence and teaching her the ways of the world as their years together unfold. He educates her on the history of the Big Apple and all its allure as she graces him with a family—two adoring daughters. She may have had her infidelities over the years and perhaps even some selfishness with her insistence in her pursuit of a dancing life; but she always came home to him. Yet Nate wanted to know. Was he Good to Her? He wondered…

As a native New Yorker, Enid Harlow delivers a confident and delicious epic tale of the inner works and coveted allure of the goings on behind the etched glass entryway of the iconic Dinty Moore’s restaurant. She showcases the celebrity, famous patrons and theatre people as they frequent the one establishment they all had in common—Dinty Moore’s. Through detailed imagery and the tangible electrical pulse of New York, Harlow portrays the essence of the Big Apple both pre and post prohibition. Simply put, her wonderfully descriptive writing springs off each page. She coaxes a willing reader to follow her lead as she exposes the complexities of the lives of her characters. However, she devotes detailed focus and dedication to the intricacies of her main characters, Nate Neumann and his Indiana born Sallie Mae Wheeler. Enid Harlow has delivered a story that will leave her readership with a melancholy sense of loss but has, at the same time, eloquently accomplished the necessity of closure by the time she arrives at story’s end.

Quill says: Good to Her is a truly enjoyable read that focuses as much on true love as it does the fantastic history of one of the world’s most iconic cities.

For more information on Good to Her, please visit the author's website at:

Book Review - Yarn to Go

Yarn to Go

By: Betty Hechtman
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0425252215
Reviewed by: M.A. Thomas
Review Date: June 23, 2013

Betty Hechtman’s Yarn to Go is the first novel from the new Yarn Retreat Mystery series. Casey Feldstein is a dessert chef who is talented in baking delicious desserts and muffins for customers. Although she demonstrates proficiency in the kitchen, she lacks knitting skills. Her passion does not consist of mastering the technique of using needles and hooks. Her creative endeavors were more in the line of baking.

Casey finds out that her deceased aunt’s business Yarn2Go has a scheduled “Petit Retreat.” At first, she is reluctant to attend the event for her aunt due to her inexperience as a knitter and being a hostess. She is overwhelmed with the responsibility. However, with the assurance of her friend and a master knitting teacher who will also be at the retreat, she makes the decision to go ahead with the event.

The peaceful, breathtaking scenery of the Monterey Peninsula is tarnished when danger suddenly strikes. While the retreat is underway, one of the members is found dead in her hotel room on the first night. Casey is suspicious since her aunt and a former member of the retreat had died recently. She feels that their deaths are somehow related to this current incident. During the course of six months, three people who were connected to the retreat have been found dead. Although her temporary experience working at a detective agency did not prepare her to solve a case, Casey feels a sense of responsibility for the victim. She begins her own investigation in order to find clues that might lead her to the identity of the real killer.

The mystery deepens when there is a suspicion that one of the retreat members could be the killer since the victim was found with knitting needles sticking out of her chest. This revelation becomes evident when Casey discovers that her aunt’s knitting needles were missing. Upon further investigations, Casey learns that if it hadn’t been for the knitting needles sticking inside the victim’s chest, the case would have been considered an accidental death due to the presence of drugs and alcohol that were found in the victim’s system. Until the case is solved, the retreat members and the victim’s boyfriend are all considered suspects. Will Casey postpone the retreat or stick through the ordeal until the end?

Yarn to Go by Betty Hechtman consists of various twists and turns that will leave readers in a shroud of mystery. They are in for a huge surprise when the identity of the killer is finally revealed. This is an interesting tale that ensnares the reader from the first page. In addition to writing a great mystery, the author also includes an easy to follow knitting tutorial and recipe. I would recommend Yarn to Go to readers who enjoy an enthralling mystery story where there are several suspects and clues to piece together. Ms. Hechtman effectively demonstrates her talent by creating an engrossing mystery plot and a cast of witty, complex characters. With these elements, I must say that Yarn to Go is the perfect summer read.
Quill says: If you enjoy a riveting mystery novel that keeps you guessing until the case is solved, you’re sure to have an entertaining time reading Yarn to Go.

Book Review - The Digest Diet Dining Out Guide

Digest Diet Dining Out Guide: Follow the Breakthrough Diet on the Go!

By: Liz Vaccariello
Publisher: Readers Digest
Publication Date: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1621450115
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: June 21, 2013

Anybody who has ever been on a diet (that’s just about everybody!) knows that eating out can be the killer of any good diet. Unknown ingredients, fatty sauces and hidden calories are just a few of the challenges facing those who dine out. How can a person lose weight? Now, the Digest Diet series by Liz Vaccariello tackles those problems in the newest offering from the series, the Dining Out Guide.

After a brief introductory chapter in which the author goes over the intent of the book, some of the tricks restaurants use to get you to eat more, and the three phases of the digest diet (not all of which can be done by dining outside the home), it’s on to the meat of the book. Each franchise is given one to three pages, on average, to explore their offerings. While not every fast food franchise is included in this 147 page book, with 60 chains covered, you’re likely to find at least a few where you eat.

The author is very interested in “fat releasers” vs. “fat increasers” – terms that are important to the success of the Digest Diet. She analyzes foods to let you know which they are, and thus, which will work to lose weight. It is clear that the diet will take some work and careful attention, where dining out may require you to order a mix from various menu options. Servers may require a bit of patience to take your order correctly. For that reason, the author prefers chains where ordering a la carte is possible. Vaccariello notes this in her introduction, saying, “In some chains…in order to get the right balance of lean protein and fat releasing veggies, you need to do some mixing and matching of foods…these restaurants aren’t the best choices for Digest Diet dining, but we’ve included them in case you find yourself stuck.”

Sample menu items are given for each restaurant, with foods that are best for Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the diet. Some people may find this a bit confusing and frustrating, it’s not a simple “stay off carbs” type of diet.

Quill says: A good diet that works for many although it can seem a bit complicated. It is likely that you’ll need to keep this book handy when dining out rather than relying on memory to know what to eat/not to eat.

Book Review - Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman

By: Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins
Illustrator: Wade Zahares
Publisher: Imagine/Peter Yarrow; Rei
Publication Date: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1623540128
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: June 21, 2013

It’s never too early to start celebrating the holidays, and if this new, brilliantly illustrated rendition of Frosty the Snowman isn’t enough to get you in the mood, well, then, you’re just an old Scrooge.

Frosty the Snowman first came to life over sixty years ago, and through the years it's been sung by many famous singers such as Gene Autry. The popularity of the song led to a holiday movie and each year, Frosty re-appears to delight new generations of children. In this version, children can follow along with the book as they listen to Kenny Loggins sign the famous song. His version is wonderfully bright and playful, and, along with two other songs on the CD (“Cyndi” and “Fishin’ Blues”) it will undoubtedly be played over and over.

While the read-while-you-sing format of this book/CD combination will enhance the holiday experience, the bright, very bold illustrations will make the book a keeper. The illustrator, Wade Zahares, has a New York Times Best Illustrated Book under his belt (Window Music), and continues to produce amazing artwork. His work has been described as using “…strong lines, bold colors, and dazzling perspective,” and it’s clear that this new edition of Frosty follows his trademark style.

Quill says: A great story, brilliant artwork, and the perfect rendition of the famous song make this edition of Frosty the Snowman a winner.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interview with Author S. Thomas Bailey

Today we're talking with S. Thomas Bailey, author of Shades of Death: The Gauntlet Runner Book II

FQ: You have obviously woven a fair amount of history in this novel. What are your preferred references, if any?

I used a number of different references for my research. Paintings by Robert Griffing, John Buxton, Todd Price, David Wright and other artists who depict historically correct material in their work. Some of them are my friends and their hours of research are very evident. There are a number of excellent written sources and authors that I also referenced. In particular, books by Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War, Rene Chartrand’s work with Osprey Publishing Books and Robert Lickie’s A Few Acres of Snow.

To me the best sources for information and inspiration were the actual historical sights. There is nothing like walking Braddock’s Trail or understanding the terrain and mountains that Jacob and Maggie experienced. Talking with the great staff at the sghts, the living historians or just being amongst the historical atmosphere that many of these places hold, gives me the background and inspiration to continue with my writing.

Anyone interested in the 18th Century should visit and support the many forts in and around New York and Pennsylvania area such as Fort Ligonier, Fort Ticonderoga or Fort Necessity.

FQ: You obviously have a passion for this particular era in American history. Can you pinpoint its origin and tell us a bit about it?

I come by it honestly. My Grandfather on my mother’s side was a full blooded Mi’kmaq from Eastern Canada. The Mi’kmaq people fought alongside the French in the defense of the Fortress at Louisbourg during the French and Indian War. On my father’s side, his mother’s maiden name was Cook and she was directly related to James Cook. He surveyed the St. Lawrence River system for General Wolfe before they attacked the French at The Plains of Abraham. James Cook later became the famous explorer who mapped out most of the Southern Pacific region.

The time period has always intrigued me. It is referred to as the ‘Forgotten War’ and not many readers know the importance it had in our history. Jacob and Maggie were typical of a young settler family and I really wanted to tell their story and what these amazing people faced to have a small plot of land and decent living.

FQ: Maggie and Jacob lost their children to the Huron in a raid. Joshua and One-Ear were childhood victims of this practice. Can you tell us more about these child abductions? Was it a commonplace occurrence?

The native people in the Ohio Valley region did raid the growing number of settlers who encroached into their lands west of the Allegheny Mountains. White captives were commonly taken for many reasons. They were used for trading for goods with other tribes or their French allies. Captives were also used as a threat against other settlers to leave or to discourage future settlers from moving into their territory.

Captives were used as slaves or laborers in some villages but one of the main reasons they were taken was to supplement a tribe’s population. If a husband, wife, son or daughter were lost due to illness, disease or war, a white captive would be ‘adopted’ into the tribe basically inheriting the same rights and privileges as the deceased. For a great story about an ‘adopted’ captive taken as a young girl who remained with her new family until her death, you will enjoy reading the accounts of Mary Jemison of Pennsylvania.

FQ: Monsieur Lamont, the infamous and somewhat evil merchant, claimed that Maggie was his property. Did merchants deal in human trafficking as well as hard goods? Can you tell us a bit about this?

Human trafficking was unfortunately practiced and a lucrative trade at the time. There was ‘value’ in trading white captives primarily between the French and their allies. Some were shipped off to Continental France and used as laborers and slaves. Most were sent to Quebec and used as farmhands to replace the Canadian Militia off fighting in the south. This proved to be one of the best ways to encourage recruitment into the local militia since they could use English, German and Dutch laborers to keep the food supply moving and their families fed.

Just as Maggie experienced, a captive could be traded for food, muskets or rum. They held enough value that a young, strong captive could be shipped to Quebec City and become a wealthy family’s maid or servant.

FQ: There was a call-to-arms that included soldiers from southern states. Can you tell us about these soldiers and what their lives were like?

The Colonial Militia was the backbone of the war. The British brought over several Irish and Scottish regiments but they had no knowledge of the area and were ill-prepared to fight on the frontier of North America in the 1750’s.

The Militia provided the army with hunters, tradesmen, laborers and experts in wilderness fighting. The European-trained British regulars struggled to alter their fighting tactics but after several disastrous battles, they finally adopted a similar way to fight like their colonial allies.

The men who fought within the ranks of the various militia units were simple settlers who hacked their way through the wilderness to secure a plot of land to raise a family and make a meager living. If they decided just to let the British regulars fight the French and their native allies, we might be speaking French instead of English.

Like most colonials, Jacob and his brother joined for a term of service. In return they received a small wage and the promise of some land. As a Militia volunteer, you provided your own musket, clothing and anything else you could carry. The regular British soldier and officers only saw them as undisciplined, crude men but their enemies saw them as fighting units they feared.

FQ: There was a brief mention about the Black Robes. Obviously these were religious missionaries of sorts. Pray tell, who were they?

The Black Robes were the missionaries sent over by the King of France to ‘civilize’ and Christianize the native population in what is now Quebec and Ontario. The name Black Robes came from the attire they wore while they traveled in the wilderness visiting the numerous villages. Some even made their way down into parts of New York and Pennsylvania but were more prevalent in 17th and 18th Century Canada.

FQ: Readers who are interested in the history of this era will obviously recognize figures such as General Braddock. What did the British learn from his fatal mistake?

Unfortunately it took a couple other costly defeats to finally convince the highly disciplined British regulars to rethink their battle plans.

The blame for Braddock’s defeat was directly pointed towards Braddock and his officers. Washington did attempt to have some of his Virginians take cover within the woods but Braddock would not permit such ‘dishonorable’ actions and ordered his men to stay in line.

In future books, I will be covering the additional disasters that severely weakened the British campaign until they changed their tactics and fought more like their colonial counterparts.

FQ: Jacob Sims (Murray) and Joshua joined forces with Captain Stevens’ Provincial Rangers. Tell us a bit about the Provincial Rangers and their role during the war.

The Ranging units became an invaluable arm of the British army, despite several senior officers who never appreciated their value. The most famous Ranging units were formed by Robert Rogers in the New England territory.

Jacob was the perfect Ranger. An expert marksman, scout and hunter, he thrived once he got away from the over-disciplined British army and had the freedom to scout ahead of the advancing units. Most of the men were backwoodsmen and trappers who knew the endless trails that traversed the Pennsylvania and Ohio territories. Their specialized skills kept their mates fed, safe and alive.
When the harsh winters hit, most of the frontier forts were lightly garrisoned. Most of the militia returned to their farms and the British regulars billeted back in Philadelphia and Williamsburg. The Rangers remained back on the frontier, setting trap lines or raiding what Indians or French dared to travel the trails during the winter.

In future books, Jacob and Joshua will soon make their way into the New York province and meet up with Robert Rogers and his famous Rangers.

To learn more about Shades of Death: The Gauntlet Runner Book II please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

‘Jetson’-Age Tools Click with Big-Event Planners

Trade Shows Expert Shares 3 Cutting-Edge New Technologies
Most of us think about technology on a mostly two-dimensional plane as we flick our way from screen to screen on touch glass. But today’s tech includes applications that are far from flat, says major-events expert Ann Windham.
“What if you could control all primary aspects of major events like trade shows, big weddings and awards ceremonies through your iPad or smartphone; imagine shutting everything down at the end of a long and exhausting night by pushing one button on your phone – that’s just some of what’s possible with today’s software,” says Ann Windham, president and CEO of Imagine Xhibits, Inc. (
Lights, climate control, projectors and monitors, curtains, fountains and much more can be controlled with an app, and the data that you take away from trade shows can be used to quickly follow up on sales leads, says Windham, who will be showcasing this cutting-edge technology July 9 at Trade Show Technology Summit 2013, to be held at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
The summit will show attendees how to manage technology such as QR codes, mobile apps, virtual trade shows, social media, on-line asset management, interactive media and live stream video on electronic devices as simple as a mobile phone, she says.
“We’ll show planners the newest event management tools for efficiency and streamlining tasks before, during and after their event. We’ll also have hands-on, educational workshops to show them how to use management,” she says.
Windham shares three of her favorite new technologies:
• Pre-show – Event Management Software: This one-stop source for managing every detail about your event – from Fed Ex tracking numbers to vendor contact information to photos from the show – even allows you to manage multiple events from any location. “In the past, we carried all the details for each show in one huge binder. If you were at a show in Texas and someone called with a question about the show in Oregon, you wouldn’t have that information handy,” Windham says. Event management software relies on cloud storage, so members of your team can access it from their smart phone or iPad no matter where they are. Another benefit: You’ve got just one place to input all that data.
• During the show – Remote Sensors: Sensors built into the walls of an exhibit allow you to control all of the electronics from your smart phone or iPad. Not only does it save time, it’s an easy way to add valuable theatrics during a demonstration. “Say you’re standing at the back of the room and you realize the speaker can’t be heard, you just turn up the volume on his mic, right from your your iPad,” Windham says. “Or, if you want to create special effects using lighting and room temperature, you can dim the lighting and drop the temperature.” Her favorite feature? At the end of a long day, rather than walking from one device to the next, shutting off each, you press just one button and turn everything off while walking out the door.
• Post-show – Sales Leads Follow-up: Seventy percent of percent of exhibitors who capture sales leads at trade shows don’t collect qualifying information, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).Scanners collect only the most basic data from visitors to each booth – there’s no way of knowing whether they were a “hot” lead ready to buy, or someone who stopped by for the free T-shirt, Windham says. Now, however, event management software allows exhibitors to include qualifying information every time a visitor’s badge is scanned. “At the end of the event, you can quickly see who your hottest leads were and send them an email or postcard before you’ve even left the event,” Windham says.
For planners who’ve been hamstrung by personnel cutbacks in recent years, these new tools are lifesavers, she says.
“The days of ‘The Jetsons’ has arrived.”
About Ann Windham
Ann Windham is the president and CEO of Imagine Xhibits, Inc., a full-service trade show marketing company that offers custom design exhibits using modular components. Windham’s company offers customers more than 50 percent savings on operating expenses; expert face-to-face marketing consultants that will work to increase ROI with four-step marketing; quarterly seminars offering continuous education by certified trainers; in-house design services for custom structures, graphic design and brand development; turn-key services and exhibit management program for all logistical needs; and a one-stop shop for meeting planning, promotional products, collateral web-site and more.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Interview with Author Shelley Costa

Today we're talking with Shelley Costa, author of You Cannoli Die Once

FQ: First, I LOVE the title! How many titles did you have to toss around before deciding on You Cannoli Die Once?

Thanks! Believe it or not, there was a list of about twenty possible titles my agent John Talbot and I put together before deciding on Cannoli.. When you're trying for some blend of pun, word play, references to movies or books about murder, you can hit bottom pretty quickly, so I won't tell you some of the other suggestions. John actually came up with the title for Cannoli, so I can't take credit, but his wife, my husband, and several friends have weighed in with possibilities. For this particular story, we knew You Cannoli Die Once was a winner.

FQ: You’ve captured the fun, and ‘trials and tribulations’ of a close-knit Italian family perfectly. Did you draw on your own family experiences?

Thank you very much! I have tried to offer a view of a different sort of "Italian family," one that veers away from the pop cultural view of Italians and Italian families as explosive, demonstrative, emotional, back-slapping folks. Based on my sense of my own extended family on my father's side, there's more personal reserve, a deep love of art and beauty, a sense of individualism. The job I set for myself was to find a comic tone in all that material. I'm guessing the Angelottas in You Cannoli Die Once are part pop cultural and part Costa.

FQ: I suspect that Maria Pia will be the favorite character of many readers. Was she based on your own grandmother?

No, because I was four years old when my Italian nonna, Pia Costa, died. I never really knew her, although I remember her stuffed artichokes! Maria Pia is a work of pure imagination, so if she seems lifelike, then I'm really pleased.

FQ: There’s enough about Italian cooking in your story to make every reader’s mouth water. Are you a cooking aficionado?

I'm so glad to hear that! I wanted just enough kitchen scenes to establish a work world for Eve and her family. Learning how to do that knowledgeably is an ongoing process for me, since, although I love good cooking, and can even produce a few passable dishes, I'm not myself a chef. But my three first cousins on the Costa side are chefs, so I'd like to think they've got my back. And I'm lucky enough to live near a fine cooking school, where next week I'll be learning how to make homemade pasta one day, and various Italian chicken recipes the next. The research continues, and the results will no doubt turn up in future installments in Eve's story. As for the cannoli recipe in You Cannoli Die Once, I spent two days in what I call the Costa Test Kitchen finessing the filling and the shell.

FQ: My grandfather used to play Enrico Caruso records all the time. Since the singer plays an important role in your mystery, is there any chance you also had a relative who loved Caruso?

Interesting you should ask. Eve's opera collection absolutely mirrors the one that has come down in the Costa side of my family since, oh, 1930, from generation to generation. The joke is that none of us knows what to do with it! Short story: Beniamino Gigli, the tenor at the Met who took over after Caruso died, had to leave NYC very quickly because of his political beliefs, so he gave -- gave! -- his entire personal record collection to his chauffeur. The chauffeur, who didn't care for opera, passed the collection on to his friends, who happened to be my grandparents, who did like opera. A couple of the records in the collection are actually mentioned in You Cannoli Die Once: the only song Caruso ever recorded in English, and a demo recorded by Gigli himself.

FQ: There are some nice, unexpected twists and turns in your story. Do you know before you start writing what they will be, or do they come to you as you write?

Good, I'm glad you liked the twists and turns. In plotting a mystery, I outline enough to keep the basic story straight in my head: victim, suspects, major points in the investigation, killer. But all the richness of detail -- the ups and downs of Eve's investigation, the false leads, the places where things get discovered -- which can suddenly include twists and turns, I discover as I write. It's how I stay in love with the process of telling a story.

FQ: Are you currently working on the next book in the series and if so, would you give our readers a little peak into what they can expect?

Sure! The second book in the series is called Basil Instinct (a new title altogether, not from the original list, and one of my own creation). I actually love this story because the two plot lines seem very rich to me and full of comic possibilities. In this book, Maria Pia, Eve's grandmother, is invited to join Belfiere, a two hundred year old secret all-female cooking society that has a very shady (homicidal?) history. At the same time, Eve's cousin Choo Choo Bacigalupo ropes her into teaching a basic cooking skills course at a local career center. But what he neglects to tell her is what kind of students these are. How these stories intersect with murderous results can be found this December, when Basil Instinct is released.

To learn more about You Cannoli Die Once please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review - Memoirs of a Hamster

Memoirs of a Hamster

By: Devin Scillian
Illustrated by: Tim Bowers
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1585368310
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: June 14, 2013

Life is good for Seymour the hamster. He has a great cage full of fresh, deep shavings, lots of seeds, clean water and, oh, yummy, those wonderful yogurt treats. When his new super-de-duper wheel arrives, well, Seymour is in heaven. As he says, “My life is perfect.” Perfect, that is, until sneaky Pearl the cat tells him a big, fat lie.

Pearl thinks of Seymour as a tasty snack and all she has to do to enjoy that snack is get the little hamster out of his cage. When she tells him that the sunroom is filled with yogurt drops, the staircase is made of sunflower seeds and there’s plenty of room outside of his cage to run around without a wheel, the trusting hamster decides to escape from his cage. Seymour makes his escape plan, and with a little help from “sweet Pearl,” his freedom is assured. Alas, there are no yogurt drops waiting for him in the sunroom, just a hungry cat.

Memoirs of a Hamster is one of those rare, wonderful children’s books that gets you laughing on page one and then never stops. Seymour is just so lovable, and the fact that a wheel and yogurt drops are enough to send him into a permanent state of bliss will endear him to everyone. This hamster tale teaches a great lesson on being happy with what you have in a very enjoyable way.

Quill says: Memoirs of a Hamster is goofy, silly, and a whole lotta fun!

Book Review - The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let's Visit Rome!

The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let's Visit Rome!

By: Lisa Manzione
Publisher: Bella & Harry LLC
Publication Date: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1937616083
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 12, 2013

Wide-eyed Harry smiled as he put on his gladiator outfit and exclaimed, “I am a gladiator! I am a gladiator!” Not really, he was simply pretending to be a Roman gladiator. Of course Bella, his sister, thought he was being a bit silly and talking to himself. Bella knew that gladiators were long gone and hadn’t “been around for thousands of years.” They could, however, be seen in costume at the Roman Colosseum where tourists could take their pictures. The “real” gladiators competed at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Bella got out her pointer, pointed to Italy and began to give Harry a little Roman history lesson. It was time for Harry and Bella to head off on one of their excursions to actually see just where those gladiators competed.

The Colosseum, which was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, was in ruins “mostly because of earthquakes and stone robbers.” The underground hypogeum was where Harry would have entered the stadium had he been a competitive gladiator. Bella told Harry that the amphitheater, an “oval or round” building, was 2,000 years old. The Roman Colosseum was just the first stop on their busy, busy tour of Rome. They went on to visit the Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Trident, and the Spanish Steps.

This is a fun tour of Rome with Chihuahua siblings, Bella and Harry. One way to learn a bit about geography and foreign customs is to head on out around the world with Bella and Harry. This is one of several books in the “Adventures of Bella and Harry” series, one that reluctant readers are sure to enjoy. The tour of Rome is a casual one where the young reader can learn about some of the main tourist attractions of the city, hopefully using one of them as a stepping stone to further reading. The dialogue is casual and conversational and the book is presented in a picture book format. The artwork is bright, animated, and appealing. In the back of the book are a few Italian words and phrases. If you’re interested in a ‘round the world Chihuahua travel series, this is one you may wish to add to your list!

Quill says: Harry and Bella will give you a few lessons about the world around us in their series, the "Adventures of Bella and Harry," that young geographers are sure to be interested in!

Book Review - Dining at the White House

Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours

By: Chef John Moeller
Publisher: American Lifestyle Publishing
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1608000135
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: June 14, 2013

No doubt you’ve seen the delectable meals served at the White House featured in a documentary or perhaps in a few movies. Tantalizing appetizers, scrumptious entrées, and desserts “to die for,” are all important points of these amazing meals. Our mouths have watered but we will, most likely, never get to sample the offerings. Now, however, we have the next best thing, a book that delves into the mystical, and mouth-watering, world of White House meals, written by John Moeller, a chef who had the honor of cooking for three First Families.

Chef John Moeller began his White House career in 1992 as a sous chef (second in command, directly under the executive chef), joining the staff towards the end of the George H.W. Bush Administration, working through the Clinton years and into the George W. Bush presidency. Moeller worked his way up to White House Chef, preparing amazing dishes for dignitaries from around the world.
While the book has over 100 mouth-watering recipes that Moeller created and served at the White House, this is really the story of his time as a chef; his early love for cooking, his training, and the primary focus of the book, his time at the White House.

By high school, Moeller knew that he loved to cook and that he wanted to learn more, thus eventually enrolling in the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. A fortuitous trip to Europe upon graduation from culinary school introduced him to some amazing foods, courtesy of England and France. Wanting to improve his skills, Moeller moved to France where he studied both French and cooking. Returning to the States, he worked at various establishments until he re-connected with a previous associate, Pierre Chambrin. Pierre was working as the sous chef at the White House and had just been promoted to executive chef and he needed to hire a new sous chef. Thus began Moeller’s White House career.

The bulk of Dining at the White House is, of course, about Moeller’s experiences at the prestigious address. The book is a treasure-trove of behind-the-scene stories, not just of cooking, but of all things related to what it’s like living in the White House. From increased security measures, to celebrities showing up in the kitchen, this is a great source for enthusiasts of ‘everything White House’ as well as cooking fans. Perhaps what sums it up best is a quote from Moeller where he explains that the staff was serving a “real family in a real home…” but also that “it was like working in a country club with a busy banquet facility.”

Quill says: A delectable treat for those who want to learn what it is really like inside the White House as well as those who want to get a taste of some of the delicious meals served to presidents.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book Review - Rhoda's Ocean

Rhoda's Ocean

By: Betty Abbott Sheinis
Publisher: Gallery 55
Publication Date: September 2012
ISBN: 978-0615675442
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 2013

Rhoda Rabbit sat quietly shelling peas while Wilma Woodchuck daintily swept the hearth. Swish, swish! Wilma was neat as a pin, while Rhoda was ... well Rhoda. Tidy just wasn’t her thing and “her buttons were rarely buttoned straight, and sometimes, she forgot to pull up her socks or put on her shoes.” Rhoda was the imaginative sort and cleaning wasn’t on her list of important things. She glanced up at some butterflies, imagining perhaps that they were sipping “flower tea with honey.” Wilma chuckled at her and reminded her that cleaning was more important. That sock wrapped around the chandelier just wouldn’t do!

Rhoda’s imagination soared to the skies as she flew with the birds. She smiled to herself as she sat in her overstuffed chair daydreaming of things that may not have been as important as being tidy like Wilma. The sock under the soup tureen didn’t seem to matter when Wilma came to keep Rhoda company when she was sick. Carrot soup was just the ticket when a rabbit was feeling under the weather. Tales of “past adventures” and soaring into the wilds of Rhoda’s imagination made them smile as they sipped their tea together. Ah, Rhoda asked, “Can you imagine what it would be to be as small as a ladybug?” Perhaps, perhaps ...

This is the delightfully charming, whimsical tale of Rhoda Rabbit and Wilma Woodchuck. In spite of their differences, the two look beyond them and are inseparable friends. It matters little that Rhoda’s socks are seldom where they should be nor does it matter that Wilma is a neat freak. Swish, swish! What does matter is that their love for each other transcends everything. There is a delightful little twist at the end of the story that will bring a smile to faces of young and old alike. The artwork is simply beautiful and reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s. In the back of the book is a brief autobiographical sketch of the author. The charm of this story of friendship is heartwarming, one you just may wish to add to your list of inspirational tales!

Quill says: This is an enchanting tale that young and old will enjoy reading!

Book Review - No Ordinary Apple

No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully

By: Sara Marlowe
Illustrated by: Phil Pascuzzon
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1614290766
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 2013

Elliot was heading to his neighbor Carmen’s house after school. As soon as he opened the door he was ready for a snack, but when she asked, “Would you like an apple,” visions of candy danced through his head. Jelly beans, chocolate, and even a lollipop would do, but no apple. It just wouldn’t do. “Sorry, I’m all out of candy,” claimed Carmen, “But try this apple. It’s very special.” Elliot looked very closely at the apple and didn’t see anything special at all. Perhaps if it was out of the ordinary it would give him superpowers, but the only way he could find out was to taste it.

The only way that Elliot was going to find out if the apple was special was to really take a close look at it. Carmen explained, “Eat the apple like you have never tasted one before. Only then will you discover what makes it so special.” It wasn’t the first time he’d ever eaten an apple, but it would be the first time he really paid attention to it. Elliot “rolled the apple around in his hands, checked out the color, listened to it, smelled it, and tasted it. Hmmm, there was something very different about the apple. Had he found something extraordinary about an ordinary apple?

This is an enchanting story about Elliot and how he discovers special things about food. This is not an ordinary book, but rather a contemplative read that imparts a lesson about food and “eating mindfully.” The emphasis is on the fact that children, as well as adults, should pay attention to the food they eat and savor its many qualities. Rather than voraciously eating food Elliot learns by discovery that the simple apple has many extraordinary qualities that make it special. The confident reader could tackle the text readily, but it would be best suited as a read and discuss book in a homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: If you want your children to learn about "mindful eating" and exploring the foods they eat, Elliot will show you how in No Ordinary Apple!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Interview with Author L.A. Matthies

Today we're talking with L.A. Matthies, author of Surviving Curtis Hall: The Lure of Blood.

FQ: The first thing that struck me about your book was that your main human character was a teenage boy. I thought you pulled off the teen male angst side of things quite well. Was it hard to get into the head of Tristen?

One of the things I enjoyed the most about writing this story was getting into Tristen's head. To a large degree he's the opposite of what I was as a teen, that's what made him so appealing to write. Tristen enables me to relive my youth in a more calculated way without having to focus too much on all the girly drama.

FQ: There is also a lot of teen romance (and as in the case of Sasha, Billy, and Pierce, breakups/conflicts) in the book. Did you draw on your own high school experiences for this part of the story or?

Actually, if you consider that in looking back (like most teen girls) I thought it would be exciting to have two heartthrobs competing for my attention, yes! At the time however, I did not draw from my own personal experience.
Author L.A. Matthies

FQ: My favorite character was definitely Skye. She just seems to have it so together. In a lot of stories, the sidekick ( if I can call her that, as a sidekick to Marcella) seems to have a dark secret. Skye however, was so true and faithful and I really liked that. Had you thought about giving her a dark side?

I love that Skye was your favorite, because as intriguing as she gets she's not an obvious choice. Skye had a very different upbringing from your average teen of today, but she's always true to herself and proactive about her circumstances. These are traits that I think are great for our young people to be exposed to and emulate so I've never regretted not giving her a dark side.

FQ: I love all the symbols you created for the tunnels. What was your inspiration?

Keeping in mind that I primarily write for a younger crowd (or at least young at heart), I feel that maps and symbols tend to help unlock the imagination. Since I had the perfect opportunity to incorporate both into my story, given the location and setting of a school campus adjacent to an old mine, I was able to exercise both my research skills and creativity in one fell swoop. Symbols are something I've always found fascinating.

FQ: Marcella has a great backstory. Have you ever thought of expanding it into a book?

I've given a great deal of thought to Marcella, her character being someone with the strength and imagination to endure through the ages. It is possible that I could expand her tales to create a stand alone book, but since it was my intention for Surviving Curtis Hall to be a series it's more likely that I'll continue to pull from her past to embellish my narrative.

The Author at a Book Signing with Some of Her Fans

FQ: Marcella's brother Pietro is a nasty guy! Why did Marcella put up with him rather than destroy him?

Marcella is torn in her feelings toward Pietro. On the one hand she views him as the embodiment of evil, while she battles her conscience over bringing him to his second life. If he is never redeemed does the blame fall to him or is she in fact to blame? She did beget him in an act of vengeance which not only goes against her beliefs, it conflicts with her honorable qualities. Marcella was instructed by an incredibly virtuous Sire, this coupled with her guilt hinders her ability to condemn Pietro outright.

FQ: Will we be seeing more of Tristen and Marcella? Our readers want to know!

Tristen and Marcella's story has just begun to unfold. I'm happy to say that readers can look forward to these two characters sharing more of the center stage in the next installment. They can also anticipate more about what drives Pietro along with insight into a few more Curtis Hall residents.

To learn more about Surviving Curtis Hall: The Lure of Blood please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review - The Peacock Angel

The Peacock Angel: Rise of the Decarchs

By: Glenn Dale Bridges
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4787-1389-0
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 10, 2013

Glenn Dale Bridges presents the coup de grace between good and evil in the first of his Angel series, titled The Peacock Angel: Rise of the Decarchs.

Thousands of years have come and gone. Earth among humans is thriving in the ebb and flow of day-to-day life as we know it. The time has come, however, for angel brothers Armaros and Azazel to face off—one with a clear vision of inherent victory of global peace and harmony; the other on a mission to achieve total destruction.

The story begins in the year 5799 BC and the location is Eastern Turkey. Armaros has been directed to walk with man, but he must get to the mountains before he can do so. His own survival depends on getting to higher ground. He quickly traverses the raging rivers as a formidable storm laps at his heels. He is the chosen angel and has survived the beasts and all the evil they represent. He does not understand why he is the chosen one although he knows his assignment is to walk among the humans. He must warn and protect them from the imminent destruction his fallen angel brother Azazel has planned for them. There was no clemency for Azazel. This Armaros knows as he runs faster and climbs higher to free his memory from the merciful cries and hate-filled shouts from the battle he has left behind.

Convinced he will rise again, Azazel gathers his army of fallen angels. Perhaps the great one favored his brother Armaros. Perhaps things were as they should have been; but he would not accept his fate. His rise to power this time would be with grander vengeance and solid demand for nothing less than supreme power. After all, his exile provided him with too many years filled with nothing but time to rebuild and develop a greater strength in order to conquer all mankind. He would defy the odds and be victorious. This, he believed, was his destiny. His key to winning, however, was to obliterate the one force that stood in his way. He would need to accomplish the total destruction of Thane, prophet of absolute truth. Therein lays the only inhibiter of his hope that supreme power would be Azazel’s for the taking.

Mr. Bridges has done an admirable job of presenting the case of good versus evil (or perhaps the other way around). He has adequately delivered a story that encourages the reader to continue to turn each page in order to learn who will prevail when all is said and done. He creates believable scenery in a time long before man and certainly spins the story in a way where one has no choice but to choose sides. Bridges achieves toying with the psyche of his reader through strategic word placement; challenging them to consider their own conscience and the choices humans must make when faced with good versus evil. There is, however, one observation I would point out about the writing which is a consistent flaw when using the word "to." There are several areas in this book when the word "to" should have been "too" and it became a contributing deterrent to the overall read. As a whole, however, this is a fast-paced, engaging story and it will be interesting to read the continuing legacy of the Peacock Angels.

Quill says: The choice of good versus evil lives in all humankind. The question is: What will you choose?

For more information on The Peacock Angel: Rise of the Decarchs, please visit the publisher's website at:

Book Review - Monument to the Dead: A Museum Mystery

Monument to the Dead: A Museum Mystery

By: Sheila Connolly
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0425257128
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 2013

Nell Pratt felt ever so slightly rapacious when she perused the obituaries. Morbid, true, but also somewhat necessary. As the president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian society, she was well aware of the need for bequests and perhaps Adeline Harrison had left them a tidy sum. Maybe a large one if they were lucky. With three new hires, the need to catalog the Terwilliger collection, and numerous items courtesy of the FBI, things were hopping at the Society. Another thing that was picking up speed was her relationship with Special Agent James Morrison. The FBI would frown on Nell's involvement with his cases if they found out they were dating, but what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them.

"I think," James broke it to Nell, "Adeline Harrison was murdered." Needless to say she was shocked, but James went on to explain that he suspected a connection between Adeline's death and that of Frederick Van Deusen, another well-heeled philanthropist. There was something fishy about "elevated medications" in their blood. When Nell ran the theory by Martha "Marty" Terwilliger, James's cousin, Marty had a hard time believing that someone was running around bumping off old socialites, but couldn't help wondering if she'd be next. It wouldn't hurt to put Shelby Carver to work on finding out how some of Philadelphia's elderly philanthropists died.

One Benton Snyder was soon added to the list and it appeared to be a gruesome threesome. It was totally shocking to think a "serial killer was preying on the elderly Philadelphia cultural elite." There was definitely something hinky going on and everyone was getting more rattled by the minute. Edith Oakes was soon added to the list and Nell had to really sort out the facts with James before she read about Marty in the obits. Things began to come together rapidly. "You know, don't you?" the voice snarled, "That's why you've been keeping tabs on me." Yes, Nell knew ... and she also knew she was in trouble, big trouble!

This mystery snagged my attention as soon as Nell started browsing the obituaries because I knew there would be more than one corpse in this cozy mystery. The characters were well-developed and the Society grouping was quite an interesting and cohesive group. Nell is quite a capable sleuth and I loved the way she worked all sorts of small angles (with a little help from James) to find out how and why the victims were being targeted. The glimpse at strategic fundraising with the cultural elite was interesting to say the least. This mystery was a bit classier than most and even weaves a bit of Philadelphia history in its pages. Fun, fatally appealing, and definitely one you should add to your list.

Quill says: You won't need a docent to tell you that Sheila Connolly's "Museum Mystery" series is a classic!

Book Review - A Case of Redemption

A Case of Redemption

By: Adam Mitzner
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-7479-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 2013

Adam Mitzner delivers an entertaining and high stakes courtroom drama in his second novel, A Case of Redemption.

Defense attorney Dan Sorensen had the perfect life. His high-powered position at one of New York City’s most prestigious firms, Taylor Beckett, was his cake. The cherry on top was his gorgeous wife Sarah and angelic daughter, Alexa. Sorenson soon learns perfection comes with a price when a drunk driver kills his family; leaving him with nothing more to consider than the rest of his life without them.

After the funeral, Sorenson takes some time to regroup—enough time for the revelation that perhaps he should have spent more time with his family. Second chances are hard to come by when the first one is ripped away. With his decision in hand he tenders his resignation to his boss, Benjamin Ethan, managing partner at Taylor Beckett. High stakes and long hours didn’t matter anymore. His new best friend Johnnie Walker convinced him it was what he needed to do. After months of swimming in a bottle, Sorenson finds himself putting in an appearance at best friends Rich and Deb’s Christmas party. Maybe jeans and a sweatshirt, accompanied by a week’s worth of beard stubble wasn’t the most festive attire, but at least he was making an attempt to rejoin the living. What Sorenson didn’t know was meeting Rich’s sister Nina was his second chance—something that would require donning the courtroom as a practicing attorney once again.

Pop star Roxanne is found bludgeoned to death by way of a baseball bat. The accused is number one rap star Legally Dead “L.D.” It makes sense he is the perpetrator given the lyrics to his number one hit: Gonna stop you when you sing, gonna give it til you scream; don’t like what you said, gonna go A-Rod on your head. Sorenson doesn’t care. He was more concerned with getting through each day than defending a killer, innocent or guilty. Nina refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer and continues to plead her case the next morning on the other end of the phone. Not quite remembering the previous evening’s conversation, Sorensen attempts to recall just exactly when he agreed to teaming with Nina in defending L.D. Nina reminds him of her certainty that L.D. is innocent and finally manages to coax Sorensen into a trip to Riker’s. What neither of them realize once they team up on the case are the challenges that lay ahead—challenges ranging from the constant smack-downs from celebrity wannabe Judge Pielmeier as well as road blocks from L.D.’s silver-tongued and diabolical manager Matt Brooks.

Adam Mitzner has proven ten-fold his confidence and ability to deliver nothing less than compelling courtroom drama in A Case of Redemption. He is a confident master of his pen and not only does he deliver full-bodied characters, but he also plays out a tremendously gripping tale of deception and intrigue from beginning to end. I am a huge fan of suspense-filled, courtroom drama and nowhere throughout this novel did Mitzner disappoint. The story never stumbled and the element of surprise was always present in his winning formula. Mitzner has set the bar high for his competition with a superior surprise ending. Well done! I sit in anticipation of your next novel Mr. Mitzner. Clearly, there is no question you endeavor to push the envelope from good to great in whatever you write. Hands down, this was a great read!

Quill says: A Case of Redemption is by far an entertaining and fast-paced body of work filled with nothing less than a bounty of strategic twists and turns.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Review - Surviving Curtis Hall

Surviving Curtis Hall: The Lure of Blood

By: L.A. Mathies
Publisher: iUniverse
Publication Date: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1475952667
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: June 10, 2013

High school is hard. There's dating, sports, and lots of peer pressure. The last thing a student needs on top of all that is to have to deal with vampires. But that's just what Tristen McCoy and his friends have to do when they transfer from the local high school to the elite Curtis Hall.

The elite school that Tristen and his friends have transferred to has a unique history. Once a mansion sitting on fifty acres of tranquil beauty, the campus has grown to include many buildings. The truly unusual feature is that the mansion was built near a series of mine tunnels, thirty-five acres of tunnels. In addition to the maze of tunnels for the mines, there are numerous passages connecting the various buildings on campus. Marked well, they are kept open for emergency exits and use during bad weather. Of course, high school students tend to be quite curious so time and again, various students go exploring, and occasionally get lost, down below.

Back to the story...Tristen seems to have it all. He's smart, a star lacrosse player, and a definite hit with the ladies. When he runs into Marcella Venier (literally, he runs into her), he thinks he's found the woman of his dreams. Beautiful, smart, and at first, seemingly uninterested in Tristen. Marcella, however, has a lot of secrets, one of which just happens to be that she's a vampire.

Tristen's reaction to Marcella is strong, he's quite attracted but with her cold reaction to him, he doesn't think she shares his feelings. However, the truth is quite the opposite, but as a vampire, and one on a mission, Marcella hides her feelings as best she can. Marcella works as a research assistant for Professor Stavros, a brilliant scientist who loves research much more than teaching. Like Stavros, Marcella is quite involved with research, but not because she loves it. Rather, she is on a quest to find an elixir that will allow vampires to go out into the daylight without harm. Marcella’s research requires a substantial amount of blood, and conveniently, Curtis Hall is the site of many blood drives. All students are required to donate blood at least six times per year, which keeps Marcella's research flowing.

When Tristen is caught texting a friend in class, his punishment is to 'volunteer' at the upcoming blood drive. It turns out to be an interesting event as it's really the first time that Tristen and Marcella have a chance to talk, albeit not a deep, informative discussion but rather a short, uncomfortable chat. Marcella continues to hide her attraction to Tristen and tries to concentrate solely on her research, but there are other vampires at Curtis Hall, vampires that Marcella must keep under control.

As the attraction between Tristen and Marcella continues to grow, other relationships also go through changes. Tristen's long-time best friends from public school days, Billy and Sasha, have been an item, but when Sasha meets the suave and handsome Pierce, she realizes that Billy is really more like a brother to her and she tries, as best she can, to gently break up with him. As tensions rise, Bryce, a student from Curtis, goes missing in the tunnels. It will take more than Marcella's brute strength to save the young man from what lurks down in the dark tunnels, and so she enlists Tristen, and several others to help in the search. Secrets will be revealed, lives put in jeopardy, and the very existence of Curtis Hall questioned.

With a quick introduction to Marcella in the prologue, giving the reader a peak into her background, it doesn't take more than a few pages to get caught up in the story. Each fairly short chapter focuses on a different character, and there are several additional people we meet, primarily students intertwined in the events surrounding Tristen and Marcella. From Skye, the very cool, totally awesome vampire masquerading as a student, to the downright nasty Pietro, there are lots of personalities who share the pages and keep the story moving. We're also given a look at Marcella's backstory which adds a nice depth to the tale.

Quill says: If you love vampire stories, you should check out Surviving Curtis Hall for a unique and fun trip down some dark and creepy tunnels, sprinkled with just the right amount of romance.

For more information on Surviving Curtis Hall: The Lure of Blood, please visit the book's website at:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review - The Diva Frosts a Cupcake

The Diva Frosts a Cupcake: A Domestic Diva Mystery

By: Krista Davis
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0425258132
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 9, 2013

Sophie Winston had long ago broke up with Wolf, but there was yet another breakup in Old Town that was very unexpected. Joy had blind-sided Renee and opened up her own cupcake shop, Sugar Mama, right across the street from Sugar Baby. It took a lot of chutzpah to duplicate almost everything except the name. A Cupcake War was just what everyone needed with the Cupcakes and Pupcakes fundraising event coming right up. Yet another war was brewing when Clarissa Osborne started getting on her case about something to do with Wolf. “Have you no shame? Have you no morals?” Huh? Must have been something in the water that was making everyone act a little off. Well, maybe a lot off.

Nina Reid Norwood, Sophie’s BFF, agreed. "People are crazy, nutso, cuckoo, and just plain weird." While Sophie and Nina were trying to find homes for animals at “Cupcakes and Pupcakes Adoptions,” a gorgeous guy actually asked Sophie out. Nina was all for her getting together with Alex, but things seemed a tad off. “You steered me toward my last boyfriend,” Sophie exclaimed. “Need I remind you what a mess that turned out to be?” The only one who seemed to be having any luck, oddly enough, was hopeless Humphrey Brown, the mortician. Every other woman in town seemed to be fawning over him.

Just when Sophie and Nina needed his help at the adoption booth, Humphrey turned up missing. Sophie headed over to fetch Humphrey at Sugar Baby and found him tending the cash register. If she didn’t know better, Sophie would have sworn that Humphrey was helping himself to a bit a cash. No money was missing, but one thing was missing and that was Muffin. The smell of burning cupcakes was wafting throughout Sugar Baby so she couldn’t have been gone long. “Why would anyone hurt Muffin?” cried Humphrey. “She wasn’t much more than a kid.” Muffin was lost, but now she’d been found ... dead under a bed. There was something really strange going on in Old Town, but would Sophie be able to find out who killed Muffin before the killer struck again?

I love the cast of interesting and quirky characters in this series, including the cast of critters. Krista Davis does know how to keep readers interested and I’m no exception. Even nasty curmudgeon, Maurice Lester, has a bit of appeal in his own way. There’s a light touch of humor throughout the book and everyone will chuckle when Nina claims Sophie “Only dates murder suspects.” Of course, as Sophie claims, you have to add the ones who are “married, separated, have missing wives, or are murder suspects.” The tale moves right along and no one will be able to figure out whodunit until practically the last page is turned. There are a lot of cupcake and pupcake recipes in the back to try.

Quill says: Krista Davis definitely knows how to put the right touch of frosting on her domestic diva mysteries to create the perfect, delectable cozy mystery!