Monday, September 30, 2013

Books In For Review

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

Macaroni and Cheese Vol 1 by Stacie Isabella Volume 1 is the first of six volumes in the Macaroni and Cheese Anthology. Inspirational stories and songs for children and their parents designed to champion a child's unique view of the world. Volume 1 contains three stories with all different illustrative styles + two original groovy tunes songs + a narrated audio version, each with a different voice and a suggested activities page to further weave these character building concepts into your children's awareness; how to cultivate gratitude, being your best in the world even when the world might not be its best, self-esteem.

Eyes in This World by Ray Melnik Five humans and one AI are on an extraordinary mission to unlock the secrets of the cosmos. It takes the one among them least able to experience it, to help them understand. In what might be their final chance to unlock the collective knowledge of an alternate reality, they choose compassion for a friend. Five people searching science for the answer; but all of them were finding it within themselves.

Turk Stillwater by Nicole Helget Clement and Angel are fraternal twins separated at birth; they grow up in the same small, frontier logging town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Clement was left at the orphanage. Angel was adopted by the town’s richest couple, but is marked and threatened by her mother’s mental illness. They rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come to save him. Stillwater, near the Mississippi River and Canada, becomes an important stop on the Underground Railroad. As Clement and Angel grow up and the country marches to war, their lives are changed by many battles for freedom and by losses in the struggle for independence, large and small.

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders—but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev murdered thousands of men, and Princess Rani Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers minibiographies of all these princesses and dozens more. It’s a fascinating read for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Have You Nominated Your Book Yet???

Have you nominated your book yet for the Feathered Quill Book Awards???  With fourteen different categories, lots of planned publicity, a LOW nomination fee, and plenty of special awards, this is one award program you don't want to miss!  Learn more at Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review - A Butterfly Called Hope

A Butterfly Called Hope

By: Mary Alice Monroe
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1607188568
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2013

Butterflies flitted quietly in her mother’s garden, hiding in and around the colorful flowers. If you look closely you can find a monarch, a cloudless sulphur, a gulf fritillary, and a black swallowtail. The little girl spotted a “bright yellow and black bug starring” at her from the top of a milkweed leaf. Her brow furrowed as she watched him eat. She called to her mother, “Mommy, come quick! What is it? Will it bite? Or sting me? Will it make me sick?” No, it was a very special caterpillar that would one day be a “beautiful butterfly.” How could that happen and just what kind of butterfly would it become?

There was one person who could answer their questions and that person was Nana Butterfly. They put the little caterpillar in a jar and brought it to her shop. Nana knew at once that it was a monarch butterfly and wanted to take care of it. The little girl wanted to do that herself and they took it back home. They carefully set up an aquarium to take care of the monarch caterpillar. What would happen as it grew and what special name would they give to it when it emerged from its chrysalis?

This is a fascinating tale of the life cycle stages of a monarch butterfly. Of course this is also the special story of what the little girl decided to name her monarch when it was time to set it free. The entire story is accompanied by photographs that relate the life cycle of the monarch. The centerfold has eight amazing pictures that show the new monarch emerging from its chrysalis. Newly independent readers can tackle this book with some assistance. The text is large and bold and is generously illustrated with full-color photographs. In the back of the book are additional activities, including downloadable instructional materials on the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent read and discuss book in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: If you are doing a module on life cycles in the classroom, this is an excellent book to consider!

Book Review - The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story about the Six Simple Machines

The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story about the Six Simple Machines

By: Lois Spangler
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1607186328
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2013

The backyard on Fourth Street had flowers, a tree, some stones, and a dog. There was something missing and that was a fort that would soon be built with Grandpa’s help. He leaned over his drafting table, poring over the plans that would make that special fort. There were many simple tools that Grandpa would need, including many simple machines such as levers, wedges, pulleys, inclined planes, screws, and wheels and axles. Perhaps you can think of some things that he might be using when he started to make the fort?

Grandpa’s dog raced happily beside the wagon when the project began. “These are the wheels and axles / that move my wagon without hassles. / It carries wood in a great, big mound, / with wheels that make a squeaky sound.” Grandpa began by using his saw, then used some screws to hold those boards in place, set up a pulley that will “bring up the treats,” used a crowbar to move those rocks, and built a ramp. Soon the fort would be complete, but do you know what kinds of simple machines Grandpa used to finish it?

This is an excellent book to introduce the scientific concepts of simple machines to young students. The book, presented in picture book format, will entice even the most reluctant reader. The concepts are much easier to understand when presented with visuals of everyday objects children are familiar with. As a story in rhyme, accompanied by a progressive rhyming sequence on alternating pages with visuals, it’s much easier to grasp the concepts. In the back of the book are additional activities, including downloadable instructional materials on the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent read and discuss book in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: This is a perfect book to introduce the scientific concept of simple machines to young students ... painlessly!

Book Review - Anybody Home?

Anybody Home?

By: Marianne Berkes
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1607186304
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2013

Polly `Possum held on tightly to her little red polka dotted suitcase as she glanced up into the branches of an old oak tree. It was swarming with activity as all the animals tended to their homes and families. A home would be a nice thing to have and Polly wondered, as she looked up, “Was there room for her?” Hmmm, perhaps Sammy Spider just might have a bit of room for her. He was very busy spinning his web and when Polly stepped on it ... oops! Sammy would have no part of her toes in his house and told her to bug off. Maybe someone else would have a bit of room for her.

Robbie Robin was busy tending to his house, but there wasn’t any room for Polly. Polly was going to have her babies soon and definitely needed a place to stay. Robbie flapped his wings at Polly and exclaimed, “I’m going to have babies too. We built our nest way up high to keep predators like you away!” Maybe someone else would have a bit of room for her. Polly kept moving and checked out the homes of Becky Bee, Suzy Squirrel, Timmy Turtle, and even Milton Mole. She searched and she searched. Would someone have a home for Polly `Possum before her little babies arrived?

This is the delightfully charming story of Polly `Possum who is searching for a home of her own. Young children will definitely love accompanying Polly as she searches for the perfect home to raise her own little family in. As the tale goes on, we find out about the many homes other animals have. For example, we learn that Milton Mole has a burrow and Betty Beaver has a lodge with a mote around it. The tale is upbeat and the full-page, full-color artwork is bold and bright with a touch of humor. In the back of the book are several activities, including some that can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. This is fun book that can be read at home or utilized for educational purposes in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: If you want to know just where other critters live, this is a fun, imaginative tale that will tell you just that!

Book Review - A Day in the Deep

A Day in the Deep

By: Kevin Kurtz
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1607186298
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2013

A massive sperm whale swam deep in the ocean as other stranger than fiction animals swam alongside him. There were somehow lights in the dark waters that made them visible in the depths of the seas. Far above, “As you first dive into the ocean, / the sun is still shining bright. / Brown algae floats near the surface / and makes its own food from the light.” If you look closely, you can see many creatures as they disguise themselves in the Sargassum seaweed. Five hundred feet below, there are “sharks with bellies that glow.” Are there really such critters?

Yes, and it seems the deeper down we go, the stranger they become. “One thousand feet below sea level, / a fish with protruding jaws / waits patiently in the darkness / with teeth like a raptor’s claws.” Watch out! A shrimp will soon be a tasty snack for the viperfish as he flashes a light protruding from a “spine attached to his back.” Down, down, down, you go. Can anything be stranger than that viperfish? Once you read this book you’ll know that there are some really strange creatures beneath the ocean waves!

This is an amazingly well-written and illustrated book that will captivate the young audience. The artwork and the verse seem to contribute equally to the allure of this book. This story in rhyme is written with ballad stanzas (the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme). The full-color, full-page artwork is quite stunning and will mesmerize the reader as they travel further and further down into the ocean. Confident readers should be able to tackle the material readily, but it will also be of high interest to those much younger. In the back of the book are several activities, including some that can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: This is a fun, fascinating journey beneath the ocean waves that will mesmerize young and old alike!

Book Review - The Perfect Pet

The Perfect Pet

By: Samantha Bell
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1607186335
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2013

Every girl and boy wants a pet, but sometimes the answer is “no, no, no!” One day the answer was “yes,” but just what kind of a pet would do? There were all kinds of animals at the pet store, including that slithering snake, the terrifying tarantula, and even a rascally looking rat. Just what kind of pet would do? “The kingdom Animalia / is where I’d start my search ... / a bear, a slug, a killer whale, / a catfish, or a perch.” It didn’t look like there would be a perfect pet in that bunch so it was off to think about another group. No invertebrates in Mom’s house!

Perhaps a crocodile, an anteater, or maybe, just maybe, that cobra. They all were very, very interesting and a croc in the tub would be awesome. “No reptiles or -- amphibians; / they are too hard to scrub. / You just can’t bathe a crocodile-- / it won’t fit in our tub.” Just what kind of pet would do? There were birds of all kinds and that elephant had big appeal. A lion or tiger or even a cheetah would look great on a bunk bed. Not. Just what kind of pet would do? There had to be a perfect pet somewhere!

This is a humorous story in rhyme that will delight any youngster who’s in search of that perfect pet. The verse definitely has charm and the flow of the story is perfect as animal classification is covered as a child's imagination thinks about the “perfect pet.” Naturally, a child’s notion of the perfect pet can greatly differ from one looked at from an adult perspective. The full-color, full-page illustrations are vibrant and lend a lot to the pet-appeal of the story. Newly independent readers can tackle this beginning nonfiction book with a bit of assistance with unusual terms such as Canis lupus familiaris. In the back of the book are several activities, including some that can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: This is a humorous, charming way to introduce young students to animal classification ... and that perfect pet!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review - Dino Tracks

Dino Tracks

By: Rhonda Lucas Donald
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
ISBN: 978-1607186311
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2013

The dinos roamed the banks of the river, their heavy feet sinking into the mud and sands. In time the river would disappear, yet something would remain behind. “T’was quite long ago in Hadley, Mass., / a farm boy plowed a field. / What he turned up, created a fuss -- / what had his work revealed?” The dino footprints made so long ago, had turned to stone. The boy’s eyes widened at the sight of the massive tracks. Three-toed fossilized prints were all around him. What could they tell the world about the dinosaurs that made them? There would be much more to learn than he ever expected.

Some of the dinos traveled alone, while others formed herds. You can even figure out “what it might eat” by looking at the tracks. Amazing! Some of the tracks are massive, while others might only span a few inches. Many at the water’s edge could have been aiming to catch that fish as the dragonfly flitted overhead and the turtle swam beneath the water. “Down by the river where crocs were thick / are tracks of dainty feet. / They skitter on by--it’s best to be sly-- / or hungry crocs they’d meet.” What else could those tracks made long ago tell us about how the dinos lived?

This is a fun look at some of the things fossilized dinosaur tracks can tell us. The amazing full-color, full-page artwork definitely lends a hand in telling the story of those dinos long ago as they made those tracks. The tale itself is a story in rhyme, with ballad stanzas (the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme). Newly independent readers can tackle this beginning nonfiction book with a bit of assistance with unfamiliar words such as “squeezed.” In the back of the book are several activities, including some that can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: If you have a youngster who loves dinos, he or she will be fascinated by what their tracks can tell us!

Book Review - Between a Mother and Her Child

Between A Mother and Her Child

By: Elizabeth Noble
Publisher: Berkley Books, New York
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-425-26793-6
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 24, 2013

Elizabeth Noble delivers a poignant story of the promise of hope that lies beyond the tragedy of loss.

Maggie Barrett was an Olympic contender. She trained her whole life to represent Australia in the swimming competition. Life, however, had a different plan for her coveted hopes and dreams. When seventeen year old Maggie and her family are dining out at the sailing club one evening, she meets nineteen year old Bill Barrett; a young man on a gap year from his studies and far from his London home. It just so happens he is their server. Unbeknownst to Maggie, the Olympics would remain a dream and in the years ahead, her only memory of the experience would be the years of training she spent to ultimately get there.

After twenty years of marriage to Bill Barrett and the loss of their first-born son, Jake, to the egregious tsunami that accosted the Indonesian coastline, Maggie Barrett pulled in her sidewalks. She and Bill had separated. Her sleepless nights are compounded by the imminent end of her emotionless marriage, the struggles of navigating teenage drama with her daughter Aly and dealing with the over-the-top energy from her son, Stan. She hadn’t the strength to carry on with the substance and tenacity she had before Jake’s death. Unlike Bill’s mission of grief counseling and healing, such remedies were far from her list of things to do. Her reality and lack of healing was a daily remembrance of her son; the one she would never see again.

Maggie’s only salvation and anchor with reality is her sister Olivia. However, Olivia is 20,000 miles away. It is when Olivia pays a holiday visit, although Maggie cannot see it initially, there is a ray of hope about to shine upon Maggie’s dark and despondent life. Maggie isn’t the only person grieving from a loss. Kate Miller has lost her husband Phillip—the love of her life. They had barely ten years together when a sudden heart attack ripped him away. Kate’s attempt toward healing is to take an ad in the paper in hopes of finding a family to fill her ever present void. When Olivia answers the ad (on Maggie’s behalf) perhaps the needed companionship will be Kate’s return as much as coping with Jake’s loss will be Maggie’s new beginnings.

It is no wonder Elizabeth Noble has a status of International Best Seller. She has taken the vitally important topic of loss and has delivered an exceptionally beautiful story through its premise. The foundation is laid early on in the book: the reality of pain that is the constant aftermath in the wake of death and loss. Ms. Noble has the option to spin a maudlin tale of woe and darkness; yet in Between a Mother and Her Child, she has chosen the path of having despair take a back seat to the promise of hope and healing. The substance and character she portrays in both main characters, Maggie Barrett and Kate Miller, is outstanding. They are credible women who have endured more than a fair amount of sadness and sorrow; yet their respective sublime tenacity to forge forward is ever present. Ms. Noble has impeccable timing and tone and keeps the pace alive and moving forward with the right balance and blending of her secondary characters (and their respective challenges). Never once did I feel the weight of ‘having’ to turn a page. Rather, I looked forward to not only turning each page, but the wonder of ‘what next’ in the chapter ahead. Well done Ms. Noble!

Quill says: Between a Mother and Her Child delivers a profound message of recognizing the importance of living each day to its fullest and embracing each memory in the moment.

Book Review - The Legend of the Jersey Devil

The Legend of the Jersey Devil

By: Trinka Hakes Noble
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: July 2013
ISBN: 978-1585368372
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 24, 2013

The windows in the little cottages twinkled with light as the darkened sky sparkled with lightning bolts. Boom! Soon it would be time, time for Mother Leeds to give birth to her thirteenth child. It was 1835 and the British Crown still ruled over New Jersey, the place where the new baby would be born on that dark and stormy night. Essie Turnbuckle and Hattie Higbee were on their way to Mother Leeds’s, but they were frightened. “’Tis rumored she dabbles in witchcraft,” Essie exclaimed, “but we must help.” Halloween would soon be upon them, but a nightmarish creature would arrive even sooner.

Mother Leeds began to howl, “Oh, let it be a devil!” The skies lit up with lighting once again and with “a clap of thunder, Mother Leeds’s thirteenth child was born ... but it was no ordinary child!” A hideous critter circled the room and escaped up the chimney. The prophecy had come true and a devil was among the people. The Jersey Devil sat in a tree overlooking the village as he “surveyed his new lair with its black swamps, dark woods, and murky bogs.” Ah, what kind of mischief lay in store for the villagers when the Jersey Devil would make himself known?

This is an amazingly fun and spooky folklore tale of the infamous Jersey Devil that youngsters will love. This tale has just the right amount of spookiness to it without being scary. The stunning artwork carries with it a touch of humor with the caricatures of the Jersey Devil and those villagers he wants to scare. This folktale is of Native American origin and Trinka Hakes Noble gives it a nice breath of fresh air that young people will enjoy. If you need a new, fascinating folktale for your shelves just in time for Halloween, this is a good one.

Quill says: This is a perfect tale to add to the folklore section in your library or classroom shelves!

Book Review - Animal Helpers: Zoos

Animal Helpers: Zoos

By: Jennifer Keats Curtis
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1607188506
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 24, 2013

The giraffe leaned forward to nuzzle a pumpkin filled with luscious snacks to nibble on. Where can anyone see animals such as the giraffe, rhinos, antelopes, polar bears, and other creatures normally seen in the wild? In the zoo of course. Many of the animals in zoos “are plentiful in the wild,” but others are endangered and need the protection of zookeepers. In fact, they can actually “help conserve and protect an entire species.” There are many things zookeepers do and perhaps you’ve even thought you’d like to be one when you grow up. If you love animals, it may just be something worth thinking about.

You could help feed young animals, help them learn to walk on a leash, or you could even help “scrub a rhino’s foot.” There are animals who need rescuing and there are animals you would have to build homes for. You can see those fuzzy brown bears and that not-so-cuddly porcupine as he lounges in his little log cabin home. Do you know how to “create a cake for chimps and keep monkeys from being bored?” There are a lot of things you’d need to learn about in order to become a zookeeper. When it’s hot out can you give a zoo animal a Popsicle? If you don’t know the answer to that one, you’ll know once you read this book!

This is a fun, interesting book about zookeepers that will charm young readers. The layout is very vibrant with full-color, full-page photographs that often span two pages. In some instances, there are additional thumbnails that add to the story. Newly independent readers can tackle this beginning nonfiction book with a bit of assistance with unusual words such as “enrichment.” In the back of the book are several activities, including some that can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss in the homeschool or classroom setting.

Quill says: If you have a young animal lover, who just might want to be a zookeeper, they'll most certainly love this book!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Books in for Review

Here's a peek at some of the books that have come in for review over the last week or so.  Check them out and then stop by our site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, in a few weeks to read the reviews.  Enjoy!

Between a Mother and Her Child by Elizabeth Noble Twenty years after their impulsive marriage, Maggie and Bill Barrett are happily settled into the quiet comfort of their dream home with their three beautiful children. Then, the day after Christmas 2004, their world is shattered apart. Feeling isolated, Bill leaves to try to discover peace on his own. Maggie shuts down, incapable of connecting with her children or even sleeping most nights. Getting by in a daze, she has no idea how to begin picking up the pieces of their lives. Enter Kate: a woman who placed an ad in the paper to be a housekeeper and companion to a family. Kate has secrets and sorrows of her own, but her gentle caring has an immediate effect on the children—and on Maggie herself. When Bill announces that he’s fallen for another woman, Maggie realizes that she will have to fight to put her family back together. But after all they’ve been through, can anything truly fix their broken ties?

The Legend of the Jersey Devil by Trinka Hakes Noble The Pine Barrens region in New Jersey has long been a place of mystery, with its dark pine groves, black swamps, and dank bogs, oftentimes shrouded in mist and fog. Reputed to be haunted by spirits, it’s an unsettling place to be sure. But of all the mysterious happenings and sights to be found in the Pine Barrens, there is none so intriguing as the Jersey Devil. Since its first reported sighting in 1735, local lore has it that a “devil-like” creature with the head of a horse, the wings of a bat, and the hooves of a goat has menaced townspeople, frightened livestock, and caused all manner of trouble over the years. Is the Jersey Devil real?

Fixed: A Gin & Tonic Mystery by L. A. Kornetsky A professional problem solver, Ginny Mallard can’t resist a call for help. And try as he may, Seattle bartender Teddy Tonica is powerless to resist a challenge. They may not agree on much—Teddy prefers bar cat Mistress Penny, while Gin’s shar-pei, Georgie, is her constant companion—but these friendly rivals make perfect sleuthing partners. When Gin learns that the shelter where she adopted Georgie is being ripped off by a thief, she’s determined to find out what kind of lowlife would steal from a place devoted to rescuing dogs and cats. Gin and Teddy plan to rattle a few cages and save the animals from losing their home. But when a body is discovered, and nearly everyone is lying, Gin and Tonica discover that it takes more than talk to nab a killer. Sometimes the best way to solve a crime is to bring on the big dogs. Or dog and cat, as the case may be...

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you. Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.  

Animal Helpers Zoos by Jennifer Keats Curtis Zoos are amazing places to see and learn about the many native and exotic of animals that inhabit this world. Some animals are plentiful while others are threatened or in danger of extinction. Zookeepers not only feed and care for these animals, they may also be helping to conserve and protect whole species through breeding and “head start” programs. Follow the extraordinary duties of these unusual animal helpers in this behind-the-scenes photographic journal. The 

Perfect Pet by Samantha Bell After begging for a pet, a child's mother finally says "yes." But which animal will be the best pet? Using animal classification and habitat needs, the child narrows it down from Kingdom Animalia, through invertebrates to vertebrates. Reptiles and amphibians are out, and birds and fish are soon off the list. That leaves mammals, but which one? An elephant won't fit through the door, and a tiger would be too hard to walk. What's a child to do?  

Dino Tracks by Rhonda Lucas Donald Step back in time and follow dinosaur tracks around the world. Whether made by a few dinosaurs or large groups, these tracks provide clues to the movement and behavior of these lovable ancient creatures. What dinosaurs made the tracks and what do scientists think they were doing when they made them? The author tells the story in rhythmic rhyme that may be sung to the tune of Over the River and Through the Woods.  

A Day in the Deep by Kevin Kurtz Travel deep into the ocean way below the surface and you'll encounter some creatures you never knew existed! This book takes you on a journey through the dark depths of the sea towards the ocean floor. Most ecosystems need sunlight, but deep in the ocean where the sun doesn't shine animals have adapted some very interesting ways to see, protect themselves, and eat. Discover the unique habitats, adaptations, and food chains of these deep-sea creatures.  

Anybody Home? by Marianne Berkes Polly 'Possum is looking for a new home to raise her expected babies. Along the way, she meets a wide variety of diurnal and nocturnal animals. She learns how they build and live in webs, nests, hives, shells, burrows, lodges, dens, caves, dreys, and even hollows. While those homes are perfect for those animals, they aren't right for her. How does Polly find a home and will she find it in time?  

The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story About the Six Simple Machines by Lois Spangler When a young child decides to build a fort in the backyard, Grandpa comes forward to help. But they can't do it alone-they get help from the six simple machines: lever, pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw, and wedge. Told in cumulative rhyme, similar to The House That Jack Built, readers follow the building process to completion and discover the surprise reason it was built.  

A Butterfly Called Hope by Mary Alice Monroe The colorful flowers in Mama's garden reveal a strange-looking creature. "What is it? Does it sting, does it bite?" Join in this photographic journey as the young girl and her mother care for the caterpillar. Watch as it transforms into a chrysalis and then emerges as a beautiful monarch butterfly. How can the young girl "claim" the butterfly as her own but still let it go free?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review - Volcano Rising

Volcano Rising

By: Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrated by: Susan Swan
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1580894081
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 17, 2013

Volcanoes are cool! They rumble, blow up, and spew lava all over the place, but did you know that volcanoes also help create things, such as mountains and islands? You’ll know how those things happen, and a whole lot more, after you’ve read Volcano Rising.

Volcano Rising begins by pointing out the things that people first think of when they hear the word ‘volcano’ – a sleeping giant or an angry mountain with loud explosions, and hot, flowing lava. However, volcanoes are so much more and this is where the truly cool part comes in. While reading this book we learn how an eruption works, the difference between creative and destructive eruptions, and even investigate supervolcanoes.

Each two-page spread focuses on a different topic and uses a large, easy to read font and a few sentences to explain the subject. Also included in a smaller, but still easy to read font is a more detailed discussion or real-world example of the topic. Readers will learn how a volcano can erupt under water, how they can suddenly appear, and grow(!), produce super fertile land, and even create new land.
The author of this new book, Elizabeth Rusch, is a big fan of volcanoes. She once witnessed a ‘dome-building’ eruption at Mount St. Helens, which really fanned her interest and she’s since learned all she can about these fascinating natural wonders. Her passion for the subject comes through wonderfully in this educational book which is perfect for youngsters who can’t get enough “volcano.” At the back of the book is a helpful glossary of the various volcano terms used in the book as well as a bibliography and suggested additional reading sources.

Quill says: An excellent book for the young volcano enthusiast as well as those who are working on a research project about volcanoes. There is a lot of useful, and interesting, information within the pages of Volcano Rising.

Book Review - Alphabet Trucks

Alphabet Trucks

By: Samantha R. Vamos
Illustrated by: Ryan O’Rourke
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1580894289
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 2013

Vroom! Rumble! Zoom! Here come the trucks! Did you know there is a truck for every letter of the alphabet? Young readers learning the alphabet are in for a real treat with the newest book from author Samantha R. Vamos. With bright, lively drawings and creative rhyme, this book shines.

I is for ice-cream truck,
with frozen treats to taste,
J is for junk truck,
removing scrap and waste.

The pages of this book are free of clutter and make the letters and trucks easily stand out. The retro-illustrations bring back fond memories of books from the 60’s and earlier – simple and fun. For me, it brought back recollections of my favorite childhood book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
I’ve read a lot of alphabet books and was quite curious to see how this one would handle the more difficult letters. I’m not a truck expert, but I honestly couldn’t think of trucks for some letters. Fortunately, Vamos is far more creative than I and wrote a book that flows easily, uses all the letters of the alphabet, includes some neat trucks, and will easily engage even reluctant readers. If your child is learning the alphabet, consider this book to help him/her along.

Quill says: Young truck enthusiasts will love learning the alphabet with Alphabet Trucks!

Book Review - "I'm So Hollywood" (Summer Saltz)

“I’m So Hollywood” (Summer Saltz)

By: Connie Sewell
Illustrated by: Elyse Whittaker-Paek
Publisher: Tiny Hands Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9888324-0-4
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 16, 2013

The imagination of a little girl is a gift; and in a world where we are bombarded with negatives, it’s so special to come across a book that shines with that adorable magic and zest for life that sometimes feels lost. When you pick up (and you should) this entertaining, creative and fun book, a smile will immediately form on your face. Why? Because Summer Saltz represents the sassiness and pure and utter fun that we all need to feel - whether little girl or all grown up.

Summer has a great family - and a really big dog. She loves her life, loves the color pink, and has a best friend named Molly who really is a loyal, caring friend.

One day, Summer goes shopping and finds an awesome pair of sunglasses. They are so cool, in fact, that when she puts them on she receives the comment that she looks oh, so, Hollywood. Now, let’s face it, if you find something that makes you look that good you need two things - a pink purse to go with them, and a party to go to where you can show off the fact that you are the essence of Hollywood. Summer gets them both.

A party is had by her parents and Summer invites Molly to attend. She also tries to figure out how to carry her dog in her purse (so cute!). But lets just say you would need a BIG piece of luggage to carry this one around. The dog also decides to be more than a little rambunctious at the party and ends up harming Summer’s evening.

But this is a story of pure enjoyment, and Summer’s Mom joins with best friend Molly to come up with explanations and solutions that make Summer feel like little Miss Hollywood - the most fashionable of them all.

Written perfectly, the plot of this story gets an A+. The illustrator also needs a big commendation for the amazing work she did bringing Summer and her Hollywood feelings to life! If you are looking for the ultimate holiday gift, or simply looking for one of those books you will read over and over again and share with your own kids someday - this is it! I can’t wait to see what this outstanding author/illustrator team come up with next!

Quill says: Special, unique and a whole lot of fun! Summer Saltz is a breath of fresh air in a literary and real world that desperately needs one!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review - Married in Haste

Married in Haste (eBook)

By: Tonya Thomas
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Publication Date: March 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 10, 2013

"Honey, you're blocking the set." Jennifer had said yes to the dress, but the ring and the romance somehow ended up missing. Eloping to Aruba only to find Mike more enamored with the NBA playoffs than making love to her was enough to make her want to drown herself in the Caribbean. Jenn knew going into the relationship that he was a sports nut, but to prefer basketball over sex on their honeymoon? Football, basketball, hockey, soccer ... it looked like Mrs. Michael Joseph Palmer had some competition. A lot of competition.

Jenn had studied up in an effort to get Mike's attention and it had worked. Perhaps a bartender in a sport's bar wasn't a great catch, but neither was she unless you counted her trust fund, something that Mike didn't know about. Not many guys would exactly line up to catch a shrinking violet so Jenn had to take what she could get. "Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time." No, Jenn's life wasn't going to be anything like Casablanca. Nada. Soon she discovered that Mike's interests strayed far beyond sports in unexpected ways. Just what were the meaning of those "phone calls at odd hours?" Who was this man she'd married?

This short story nicely captures the dilemma of a woman reexamining her marriage. The writing is strong and expertly weaves the tale of the excitement and downfall of a marriage made in haste. Obviously given the length of the tale, one cannot expect in-depth character development, but intuitively we quickly understand how Jenn feels, her angst at the situation she has found herself in. I liked how the author makes Mike a blip on the radar as he is someone, or could be anyone, that a woman might "accidentally" fall for. I read this story in The Edge and I, a collection of short stories that is well worth looking into.

Quill says: If you are looking for an amazing author, this short story is one of many from a collection of short stories that shows a lot of promise!

Book Review - A Commonplace Killing

A Commonplace Killing

By: Sian Busby
Publisher: Atria Books/Marble Arch Press
Publishing Date: September 17, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4767-3029-5
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: September 10, 2013

On a hot and sticky day in the month of July, 1946, a woman, Lillian Frobisher, is on her way to buy some bread. She knows that she will have to stand in line for about two hours and wait for it. She also knows that bread is about to go on the ration list but she still makes up her face and checks the seams on her stockings to see if they are straight. If you met Lillian you would think she was a lot younger than her true 43 years. When she left home her husband, Walter, was still in bed. He is a WWII veteran. She looks at him sometimes and wishes that he hadn’t come back to her. It’s not that she wanted him to be killed in the war, she just didn’t want him to come back to her. But, nevertheless, here he was. She can’t help but wish for those war days to come back.

Moving ahead a few hours, a couple of school children find the body of a woman lying in an area of North London that took a lot of bomb shelling during the war. The woman is identified as Lillian Frobisher, wife and mother, who lived nearby. Detective Inspector Cooper is called to the scene and expects to find a prostitute as the area is a known hangout for ladies of the evening. This is, of course, an assumption by the authorities. However, an autopsy finds no evidence of assault or rape so the Inspector turns to Lillian’s private life. Many questions need to be answered, such as: How did Lillian come to be in this area? Why was she strangled? Why was her husband not aware that she had failed to come back from the market on the day she was killed? Apparently, post war London was not a great place to be. It seemed that the murder of a prostitute was a regular thing (A Commonplace Killing) that did not surprise the Inspector. Fighting men coming back from the war to their homes were scrambling to find jobs and trying to adjust to civilian life. Lillian’s husband was just looking for life to begin again but Lillian wanted much, much more. Could that be the connection to her murder?

This novel was fictional although it was based on life in post war Britain. While the story started out a bit slow, it did pick up. It was very moving as it tells very human stories of people who had to go through the war.

Quill says: A gripping murder story that shows how the common folk tried to come back from a devastating war.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review - Dark Waters

Dark Waters: A Jeff Resnick Mystery

By L.L. Bartlett
Publisher: Polaris Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-1492165897
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 10, 2013

The light was pulling him toward it, with “icy-pinpricks of energy” penetrating his very being. No, no, it couldn’t be happening again. When Jeff got his head bashed in by a mugger eighteen months before he saw plenty of lights, but *the* light was not where he wanted to go, like ever. A simple bee sting had sent him into anaphylactic shock, but his brother, Richard, pulled him out of it. Life was good. Almost. It was until Brenda’s sister, Evelyn, showed up with that punk nephew of hers, Da-Marr. The mugging had left Jeff with uncanny psychic abilities and he knew that the baby Brenda was carrying would be a special kid. Betsy Ruth would have a special place in his heart.

Jeff was struggling with his girlfriend Maggie’s infidelity. Starting over with her was something he wanted, but could he get past an issue that serious? Another issue Jeff Resnick wasn’t getting over any time soon was the fact that that black face of Da-Marr’s practically sent him over the edge. The baseball bat that practically did him in could have been wielded by that kid. “I’m sorry, Jeffy, this black face just doesn’t rub off.” Even his beloved sister-in-law was slamming him over the issue. “And I can’t take responsibility for what other people of my race do ....” Women. One thing for sure was that Da-Marr gave him bad vibes and it wasn’t a psychic thing.

So now Brenda thought he was a racist. What next? A Mr. Jack Morrow had his head blown off while he was sitting in the front seat of his Lexus, that’s what and Sam Nielsen wanted his help in finding the killer. Jack was a greedy scumbag who fleeced people out of their life savings. Any number of people wouldn’t have minded putting a glock to the back of that guy’s head. It was going to be a tough job trying to find out about the man with his stuff being guarded by Meier’s Auction House. A piece of pool chalk wouldn’t cut the mustard, but there had to be a way to “soak up the soul of a killer” and find where Morrow secreted his assets, but how? Sophie Levin could see Jeff’s future and he could hear her voice in his head, “If you are able.” Were Morrow’s evil tentacles going to reach out from the grave and somehow take Jeff with him?

The Jeff Resnick series is going nowhere but up. Anyone familiar with Jeff’s quirky psychic abilities he gained as a result of his mugging knows that despite those abilities, he’s a pretty tough, intuitive investigator. In Dark Waters he’s using his psychic abilities, but is now combining his own investigative experience, pulling the series to yet another level. I’ve come to really enjoy Resnick. He’s tough, he’s gritty, but he’s also vulnerable and real. Conflicts swirl and like the dark waters of the Niagra in this one. “A thirty-seven year-old man should not be sponging off his relatives.” And along came Evelyn. Anyone with the “second sight” will know that Dark Waters is not to be missed.

Quill says: If you are a fan of mystery, suspense is your game, and the thrill of a touch of paranormal, Jeff Resnick is your man!

Facebook vs. Google

Here's an interesting article on the showdown between Facebook and Google for your advertising dollars.  Good points made.  If you're an author, pay attention and decide where to best spend your advertising dollars.  FACEBOOK VS. GOOGLE

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review - Cold Tuscan Stone

Cold Tuscan Stone: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery

By: David P. Wagner
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publishing Date: Sept. 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0192-9
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: Sept. 6, 2013

This is a debut novel, and a very good one. The main character, Rick Montoya, is a translator by trade and has moved from the United States (Sante Fe, New Mexico) to Rome where he has opened a translation business. Rick meets an old friend from the American Overseas School of Rome, Beppo Rinaldi, who works for the Ministry of Culture. Beppo asks Rick to go undercover for the Ministry and try to find out who is stealing and selling priceless Etruscan antiques. As Rick is a translator who is very fluent in Italian, Beppo asks that Rick pose as an agent from a New Mexico Art Gallery to get closer to some of the antique dealers in the Tuscany town of Volterra.

Rick goes to Volterra and finds that the town “likely looked the same as it had five hundred or even a thousand years earlier.” Driving his rental car along the ancient city walls, Rick notices the stones in the walls “at this lowest level were the original Etruscan, and that there would be a higher part of the stone wall added by Romans and above this, added by Medieval Italy.”

Rick starts out early on his first day to talk to the owner of a gallery that sells artifacts and meets an employee who is an artisan who makes some of the alabaster art. Unfortunately, this worker falls or is thrown from a high cliff. Rick has just as much trouble with his next contact, who is an import/export businessman. Rick is unable to talk or even find this gentleman. There is a museum director who is not friendly to Rick and last but not least a very beautiful heiress, also an art dealer.

There is also the local law, Commissario Conti, who is Rick’s contact in the police department, who is not happy to have to babysit this outsider. However, he tends to be a very amiable sort who is looking forward to his up and coming retirement. Just when it seems that Rick and the authorities are closing in on one of the contacts, Rick’s girlfriend, Erica, shows up. It is somewhat of a reunion between Erica and the heiress, who is one of the main suspects.

This mystery is very well-written and a good story that includes both a mystery and a travelogue. Any reader who is a traveler will look the town up and head on to Italy on vacation. As the book is called “A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery” it is expected that we will see more of Rick.

Quill says: This is a definite keeper and I look forward to meeting Rick again as he solves another mystery.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review - Margot


By: Jillian Cantor
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1594486432
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 4, 2013

Jillian Cantor’s latest novel, Margot, is a gripping and compelling story of Holocaust survivor, Margot Frank. Margot is not only a survivor; she is Anne Frank’s older sister.

“The third day of April 1959 seems, at first, just like any other Friday of my American life…” She is known to no one as “Margo.” Rather, the essence of reinventing oneself is to change one’s name. But “Margo” does not stop with her name. She is also no longer Jewish. Margie Franklin works for Joshua Rosenstein as a secretary in the law offices of Rosenstein, Greenberg and Moscowitz. The fact she is alive is the very essence and further affirmation toward her mission of never allowing the truth to surface and find Payter. It was what they promised each other: “…I will no longer be a Jew, he’d whispered to me as we were lying on the divan in his room, more than once. I will leave everything behind. Hiding who you are, it’ll be so much easier than hiding where you are. He would be Peter Pelt, and I would be Margie Franklin. We would come to Philadelphia, and we would be Gentiles together, safe together…”

After the war, Margie leaves Europe and seeks a place halfway across the world to her new life; Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love. Sponsored by Ilsa and Bertram, cousins to Eduard, Margie’s mother’s friend, Margie is welcomed as the daughter they never had. They willingly nurture her with her adaptation into her new American life. It is when the movie The Diary of Anne Frank is released that Margie’s well-kept secrets begin to unravel. She is consumed by survivor’s guilt and the struggle to understand why she is alive. She is tormented with the thought that her father, Otto ‘Pim’ Frank, found her diary in the Annex when he found Anne’s. Did his plans include telling Margie’s story next?
Margie finds solace in her office mate and friend, Shelby. She is everything Margie is not—outgoing, carefree and happy to live in the spontaneity of life. Unfortunately, when Holocaust survivor, Bryda Korzynski, meets with Joshua Rosenstein, Margie soon learns Bryda’s case entails righting anti-Semitic assaults Bryda and her co-workers have endured. Margie’s hidden truths begin rising uncomfortably close to her once secure and very protected surface.

Jillian Cantor has taken a compelling topic and has woven a beautiful story. She portrays the horrific and emotional torment a human being endures when they are faced daily with the reality they have survived an epic tragedy in the history of mankind. “Margie Franklin” is the modern day reminder of the real young girl we are all familiar with—a child who endured the perils of the very essence of the definition of Axis of Evil we know as the Holocaust. Cantor does not spin a tale of maudlin woe. Rather, she paints reality through her word placement and subliminally reminds the reader that this is an event we must never forget and most certainly, mankind will (hopefully) never repeat. Her precision writing has enviable merit. There is never a moment when her words must “coax” the reader to turn the page. To the contrary, her word placement entices the reader to consume the next page and the page after that. This is a beautiful story and it compels me to pick up The Diary of Anne Frank and read it again. Bravo Ms. Cantor! You have gained a new fan of your writing!

Quill says: This book is as much a story about the deeply-rooted scars a survivor must bear as it is about healing and the hope truth provides once it is set free.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August's Book Giveaway

We had a HUGE response to August's book giveaway, a copy of "Sharkopedia." Congratulations to Christi Carpenter of Oakland, CA for winning. The giveaway for September will be announced shortly.