Friday, November 29, 2013

Nominations Close Tomorrow!

Nominations Close Tomorrow!

Have you nominated your book for the Feathered Quill Book Awards?  If not, you better hurry!  Nominations are due by tomorrow, November 30, 2013.  Fill out the submission form asap (by tomorrow night at the latest) and then get those books in the mail.  We'll be sorting and getting shipments ready to send to our judges for the next week, so don't delay.  There's still time, but not much!!!

Here's the Award Page where you'll find all the information you need.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review - Headlong


By: Ron MacLean
Publisher: Last Light Studio
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-938692-98-7
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: November 27, 2013

Ron MacLean serves up a delicious and interesting plot in his latest novel, Headlong.

Much to his chagrin, Nick Young returns to his Boston roots to address the realities of caring for his dying father. What he doesn’t know, however, is that soon after his return; the dormant reporter within him is about to resurface. It seems there is an unsolved mystery that involves a labor strike, an Occupy-style movement and a murder that possibly involves his best friend’s son.

Nick Young is a has-been journalist. Reality hit hard that his Los Angeles life had come to a close. He is forced to trade his LA palm trees and an ex-wife (an aging actress reduced to bit parts in B-rated scream films) and return to the relentless humidity of a Boston summer. Granted, his motivation in returning entails taking care of his stroke-stricken father Thomas, but it’s not like there was endless love between the two. To temper his Boston return, Nick joins forces with his best friend's son, high school senior Bo who happens to have a posse of believers who are equipped to change the world...or so they think. Most of Nick’s nights are spent hitting the club scenes with his new buddies to partake in Boston’s eclectic music scene. It doesn’t matter if the majority of Nick’s new friends are twenty plus years his junior, it’s the music that keeps him from falling into the abyss of hopelessness.

When Nick is exposed to his friends’ civil demonstrations and their recent cause in support of the Janitor’s Union, it doesn’t take long for matters to progress from civil disobedience to violence. It is when Nick is approached by colleagues from his past to cover the story that he is forced to resurrect his dormant journalist from within. Nick struggles to balance the mounting financial medical disaster of his father’s demise as he dons his reporter’s cap. This is not what he envisioned when he arrived at the second half of his life. It’s not easy being forty-something and realizing life is about to take a sudden and sharp left turn.

Ron MacLean has done an admirable job of laying out duel plots in this body of work. While the main focus of his story is devoted to the younger generations’ perception of blatant greed and corporate capitalism, he strikes a beautiful balance with the back story of an adult child forced to deal with an aging and dying father—both topics very real in today’s world. I give Mr. MacLean big props for not only demonstrating patience in laying out his story, but tying both concepts together as though they were tailor-made for each other in one book. MacLean’s writing style is comfortable in that there is a natural flow and cadence that keeps the reader engaged. The author made my reading of his story a pleasant experience as I read page upon page of believable dialogue. Well done Mr. MacLean. I thoroughly enjoyed Headlong and look forward to reading your next body of work.

Quill says: Headlong may be a work of fiction, but the premise provides a hefty dose of reality and an ample serving of food for thought.

For more information on Headlong, please visit the book's website at:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review - The Crazy Careers of Video Game Designers

The Crazy Careers of Video Game Designers

By: Arie Kaplan
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467715867
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Having a career in the field of video game design would be the way to go and would be one way to justify all those gaming hours. Wait, it’s not all that easy and there are definitely a lot of career possibilities to consider and jobs to take a close look at. There are “indie [independent] game companies,” small companies or people who design video games from A to Z, but for the most part, it takes a lot of people to create just one game. If you seriously want a career in the industry it will “require lots of studying, reading, and work.” Time to put down that controller for a while and hit the books.
The game designer is the central person in the creation of a game. He or she “ensures everyone is doing the game properly.” If even one thing is out of sync the flow of the game will be interrupted. 

The game designer’s job all boils down to one thing and that’s to “make sure the game is fun for players.” Would you be a gamer if the games were boring? Probably not. A game designer isn’t the only career option in the field. There’s the level designer, sound designer, environment artist, combat designer, game writer, programmer, character artist, rigger, animator, and last, but not least, the QA.
Throughout this book, you’ll learn all about the people who have chosen these particular career paths. You can probably easily figure out what artists, game writers, programmers, and animators do, but you might be clueless about some of the others. A level designer “decides where and when the game takes place” for starters, but also does things such as making those levels we are all familiar with. Have you ever tried to “beat each level” only to have something like a “fire-breathing dragon” defeat you? In this book, you’ll take a look at all the “crazy careers” in the world of video games. Still don’t know what a QA is? You will once you’ve finished this book!

This is a fun and fascinating look at careers in the video game world that will amaze young readers. This book opens up the world of video game design and shows youngsters a wide array of careers they could consider or simply dream about. The layout of the book comes alive with full-color photographs, including those of people who hold very unusual, but essential jobs like the riggers. For example, one photograph shows an actor wearing “a special suit covered in sensors that look like Ping-Pong balls.” Included is a down-to-earth chart showing the varying careers, the needed skills, what classes a student will need to take, and the average salary (2011). In the back of the book is an index and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: Young readers will be mesmerized by this book as they learn about the crazy career paths they one day make take!

Book Review - The Awesome Inner Workings of Video Games

The Awesome Inner Workings of Video Games

By: Arie Kaplan
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467715843
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Those old, antiquated games from the 1970s like the Atari 2600 have absolutely nothing in common with today’s games. Not so fast, they have a lot in common, In fact “most game systems are basically the same. The graphics in the newer games are out-of-sight awesome, but the “guts” of the consoles are the same. They include things such as processors, a software kernel, computer code, storage space, memory, outputs, and controls. It’s basically a team effort between all these parts that “bring your games to life.” Perhaps you have approached the expert level in some of your games, but do you know about the workings of the console?

The console has to have some way of thinking or none of the video games would be at all exciting. In fact you’d much rather clean your room if that were the case. The inner brain of the console is “known as the central processing unit, or CPU for short.” Both video consoles and computers need them in order to run properly, but of course the CPU cannot work in isolation. The kernel holds a couple of important jobs. For example, “it helps the CPU talk to the software” and other “important pieces of hardware besides the CPU.” In a nutshell, that kernel is the mover and shaker in the system.

It should be easy to program a game or write in code - wrong. The CPU needs instructions because it “only speaks a specific language and that language is called programming code.” You’ll be wowed when you see an example of a two word character in a game and just how complicated it looks. You’ll learn all about the computer programmers who make those games you love come alive. You’ll also learn about things like game engines, game cartridges and subsequent upgrades such as DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, RAM, specialized cables, controllers, touch screens, and many other things that make those video games perform.

This is a marvelous look at how video games come to life through their “inner workings.” Technology has come a long way from the creation of the Atari 2600 to the consoles and games we’re seeing today. Young gamers will be fascinated with the history of consoles, their guts, and how they work. The layout of the book is exciting and has numerous, small informative sidebars that add additional information. For example, one says “hardware = any kind of computer program, including video games.” There is a very interesting section entitled “Breakthroughs in Technology” that offers a historical overview to the young reader. In the back of the book is an index and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: Young gamers will be wowed when they learn the evolution of gaming consoles from the 1970s games like the Atari 2600 to the present!

Book Review - Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen: Call Her Amazing

By: Nadia Higgins
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467715478
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 27, 2013

No doubt about it, Carly Rae could sing and early on her father “realized she sang perfectly on key.” For a three-year-old, that was a totally awesome thing, but she was also bitten by the performance bug. Four short years later she was all hyped up and ready to enter a talent contest when disaster struck. Carly was going to wear a “frilly pink dress,” but when she went to yank it off the hanger ... watch out! The show must go on and when she performed she had to sport an eye patch because the “hanger popped off and scratched her eyeball.” It was the beginning of a long love affair with performing.

By the time Carly hit high school, she was an avid performer and “everyone knew where to find Carly.” Naturally, she was rehearsing for one thing or another because that performance bug just didn’t see to wear off. When she went off to college, it wasn’t to train to be a teacher like her parents and stepparents, but rather to the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Carly had moved to Victoria, British Columbia to train to be a Broadway star. She learned to dance up a storm (and not very well) and then got a guitar, a guitar that proved to be a life-changing event.

Yes, Carly wouldn’t have minded being famous, but she simply “wanted to write and perform her own music ... and make the rent.” That just wasn’t good enough for her old drama teacher. Carly was pushed into auditioning for “Canadian Idol,” but she wasn’t going to play by the rules. No, she was going to perform her own music, not something another artist had made big. It was the first of many stages and a breakthrough time for her. Carly got “a deal with a Canadian label” and started working on her first album.” But then someone who was very famous heard her sing and wanted her to open for his act. Just who was this guy and why was she so nervous when she began to sing in front of his audience?

This is a fascinating bio of Carly Rae Jepson, a singer-songwriting superstar. The layout of the book is fun and vibrant with loads of full-color photographs and sidebars that add a lot of pizzaz to the book. For example, one says that “Carly says she is crazy about shoes. Since she’s only five feet two, she wears heels most often. She even carries a separate suitcase just for shoes when she travels.” The book will be a definite draw to young fans with extra tidbits about Carly’s life that range from information about her family to her advice to teens and ‘tweens on boys, seeking career paths, and how she’s “keepin’ it real.” In the back of the book is an index, source notes, and additional book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: Young teen and 'tween Carley Rae Jepsen fans are definitely going to be wowed by this pop superstar bio!

Book Review - Map My Continent

Map My Continent

By: Jennifer Boothroyd
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467715294
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Four children are standing around looking at a globe. They are pointing to where they live in North America and know that “it is a continent.” One way to learn about it is to create a map. With this map you can learn the “location of different places.” One way to show directions is to “put a compass rose” on the map. The compass rose will “show the four directions,” north, south, east, and west. When planning a map, it’s necessary to decide what to put on it.

There are several different things to consider including countries, mountains, rivers, lakes, and deserts. When you plan a map, you should get together “a list of places” for it. If you check out an atlas, you’ll be able to select several places to put on the map. If you look at a map of Florida, it has “symbols.” These symbols “stand for places.” There’s a lot of work that goes into making a map. What kind of map would you be making? In this book you’ll learn how to draw one and put on special things like symbols and will learn how to add a key.

This is an excellent book to teach young students map skills and how to put together a map. This beginning nonfiction book, geared toward emergent and beginning readers, has one or two lines of text on each page. More difficult words, defined in the glossary, such as “continent,” are highlighted in bold print. There are photographs, line drawings (for the maps), and a planning chart. After the short discussion of what goes on a map, the story starts to detail the creation of one. There is one page that gives numbered, step-by-step instructions. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and a page of “Fun Facts.”

Quill says: This is an excellent beginning nonfiction book to help teach beginning map skills in the homeschool or classroom setting!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review - Light Riders and the Missouri Mud Murder

Light Riders and the Missouri Mud Murder

By: Ann I. Goldfarb
Publisher: Two Cats Press
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-937083-20-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 2013

This is Volume 3 in the ‘Light Riders’ series, and the one thing that can be said for this humorous, imaginative author is she keeps producing books that get more fun each and every time.

Brother Ryn and his sister Aeden are back! These are the siblings who act as any teens would; however, they do have special knowledge when it comes to traveling through time. Using this wisdom, they have been able to solve mysteries in many locations.

This time around, Ryn is in the middle of lacrosse season, and has a date coming up that he doesn’t want to miss. Aeden just landed the lead role in her school play and does NOT want to miss out on her first shot at stardom. Unfortunately, their mother has other plans.

Mom gets a phone call from an old neighbor who moved to a little town in Missouri a while ago. The woman, Evie, has a daughter named Ajay who Ryn and Aeden definitely don’t want to spend time with. Ajay is beyond annoying. But sure enough they must cancel their plans and head to Missouri whether they like it or not. It seems this woman’s grandfather, who went missing long ago, has just been found mummified in the Missouri mud. Apparently, he was the victim of murder.

Ryn and Aeden can barely put up with Ajay, but knowing they can go back in time and sort out this mess, the kids take it upon themselves to fix the situation so they can get back home. Well...time travel doesn’t work well when solar flares are messing with the old time-space continuum, which means they overshoot the past big-time, landing in the Ice Age with saber-toothed tigers running amok. Unfortunately, Ajay comes with them. The kids do reach the grandfather’s decade and go on the hunt for a killer. They end up at an old Playhouse in town sorting through potential suspects as a secret from the past comes to life.

Awesome! These stories are the perfect combination of ‘The Hardy Boys’ mixed with ‘Harry Potter.’ Not only is there a mystery that needs to be solved, but the sci-fi, historical, and fantastical elements provide a whole lot of fun to the reader.

Quill says: These adventures are unique and extremely entertaining. In other words, keep them coming!

For more information on Light Riders and the Missouri Mud Murder, please visit the website:

Book Review - Behind the Smile

Behind the Smile During the Glamour Years of Aviation

By: Bobbi Phelps Wolverton
Publisher: Village Concepts, L.L.C.
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-615-82764-3
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: November 26, 2013

The author tells us that this book was written about “Sex, Humor and Terror during the Glamour Years of Aviation.” This sounds like an awful lot to put into one book but it turns out to be very true. This memoir, about being a stewardess on international flights, takes place during the "glamour years of aviation," (1965-73) and there are a lot of stories about crazy things that happened during travel that the author recounts in an easy reading and enjoyable style.

It's true that those years were a time when air travel was much more relaxing, enjoyable, and yes, fashionable. Today, it's the age of having to get to the airport hours before your flight to be checked out by folks with cameras and have luggage searched for contraband, also, perhaps sitting next to a US Marshall on the plane. In contrast, during the 60’s and early 70’s, people actually dressed up to travel by plane and flying was a much more laid back means of transportation, with very little thought to terrorism or security.

When the author, Bobbi, joined the ranks of Stewardesses, it was a glamorous time in air travel. The ladies had to go to school, not only to learn the ups and downs of taking care of their passengers, but they also had to attend a beauty school to learn how to put on makeup correctly and dress, talk and look like fashion models. As noted earlier, passengers frequently dressed formally, no shorts and T-shirts on those planes, passengers were allowed to smoke and drink and have a party in the air, and the Captain would allow people to visit the cockpit.

However, notes the author, there were bad times too. Sometimes the work was difficult, such as when the stewardesses had to take care of passengers who were scared, tired or just plain unhappy or grumpy. Sometimes the trips were very far from glamorous and, once in a while even dangerous. The stewardesses were in charge of everything and expected to do a lot. In those early years, there were no male flight attendants and many of the passengers had never flown before and were a little antsy about it. There were no in-flight movies and no hook ups for cell phones and game cartridges to keep passengers busy.

Some of Bobbi’s stories are set in Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Many of them are in Europe: France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Egypt. Bobbie and her cohorts worked long hours and had to do many tasks that they didn’t enjoy but they had lovely vacations in many exotic places. This book is a fascinating read and includes some wild stories about crews and their passengers, some stories starring rather weird passengers, and trips to fascinating and exotic places.

Quill says: Behind the Smile is a real page-turner with very real adventures using humor, excitement and sometimes sadness to get the point across.

For more information on Behind the Smile During the Glamour Years of Aviation, please visit the author's website at:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review - Map My State

Map My State

By: Jennifer Boothroyd
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467715331
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 25, 2013

Three children are standing around looking at a map because their “family is planning a trip to Texas.” As they can see there are all kinds of roads, cities, and towns on the map. One way to show directions is to put a “compass rose on the map.” The compass rose will “show the four directions,” north, south, east, and west. When planning a map, it’s necessary to decide what to put on it.

There are several different things to consider when planning a map of Texas including such things as the Alamo, Johnson Space Center, Guadalupe Peak, Dallas, and the Rio Grande. When you look at a map of Texas it has “symbols.” These symbols stand for things like rivers, mountains, and a big yellow star could be a “symbol for the capital.” There’s a lot of work that goes into making a map. What kind of map would you be making? In this book you’ll learn how to draw one and put on special things like symbols and you will also learn how to add a key.

This is an excellent book to teach young students map skills and how to put together a map. This beginning nonfiction book, geared toward emergent and beginning readers, has one or two lines of text on each page. More difficult words, defined in the glossary, such as “directions,” are highlighted in bold print. There are photographs, line drawings (for the maps), and a handwritten planning chart. After the short discussion of what goes on a map, the story starts to detail the creation of one. There is one page that gives numbered, step-by-step instructions. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and a page of “Fun Facts.”

Quill says: This is an excellent beginning nonfiction book to help teach beginning map skills in the homeschool or classroom setting!

Book Review - John Smith: Las Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars

By: Roland Hughes
Publisher: Logikal Solutions
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-939732-00-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 25, 2013

The Jobs vs. Gates debate may be the spark that comes to your reader’s mind when you first glance at the title of this book. However, the particular realm of computers and the digital industry does take a backseat when it comes to this well-written, yet sometimes extremely haunting tale.

Here we have an interview of mammoth proportions. A young woman sits down to speak with our lead character. This woman’s mother is the mayor of a city, and her father runs the newspaper in said city ... on Earth. Her basic job throughout the book is to question and learn from John Smith. Smith is a man who will feel a lot like the people you know and see each and every day. Smith complains, reviles, applauds, honors and debates our past - the things humanity did wrong that led to our eventual demise that took place on November 13, 2013.

This reporter goes into the interview with only one basic question on her mind: Why was it called the Microsoft Wars? But her interviewee can not simply state the answer. After all, the actual end came about from a history of errors and misjudgments occurring in everything, from religion to technology to the handling of diseases and healthcare. Therefore, John Smith takes our interviewer back through the old days to explain the foundation of humanity and how it disintegrated.

He was only eleven-years-old when Earth turned into the Earth That Was. When this ‘ending’ happened, John Smith watched the world change and split into a twelve-continent globe. He watched as the history, information and all that we were, did and said over time was completely lost. The new generation - the new Earth - would never understand who we were and what we were about because that data was now long gone. So taking on the huge weight of explanation, John Smith delves into everything from nuclear power to our War on Terror, throwing in things like Atlantis and King Arthur references as well.

This novel remains in an interview format throughout, which can become a little slow at times without a change of scenery or movement. Yet the dialogue given by John Smith will have readers nodding their heads at times, smiling at others, and most definitely feeling a bit chilled, as if they’re leading up to a Stephen King-type closure.

John Smith is a regular, average-Joe. He is not a democrat nor a republican and does not wish to express the views of any certain ‘side.’ In fact, he remains just like the rest of us at his core. We are a people who wonder if we will be annihilated. Is there a nuclear war on the horizon that’s yet to be seen? Will terror, or climate change; finance, or the basic greediness of our culture destroy us? There is no answer to that question as of yet, but this character and his views will certainly have you thinking about the many wrong avenues we’re walking down long after the book has come to an end.
Quill says: Part historical, part sci-fi, this story is definitely realistic and covers all debatable subjects when it comes to our people and our planet.

For more information on John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars, please visit the book's website at:

Book Review - Little Star

Little Star

By: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrated by: Mark Elliott
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0736958592
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 24, 2013

I admit it - I love children's Christmas books! Perhaps it's because I'm still a child at heart, but whatever the reason, I look forward to new books about the sacred season. Stories that impart Biblical lessons into their pages are a special treat. Books such as The Donkey That No One Could Ride, by Anthony DeStefano, with its charming tale and beautiful illustrations, hold a special place on my bookshelf. Thus I was looking forward to receiving the newest Christmas offering from Mr. DeStefano, Little Star, and I am happy to report that it does not disappoint.

Little Star blends fiction with the Bible story of Jesus' birth. On Christmas Eve, a young boy is looking out his window to see if he can find the Christmas Star. He asks his father where the star is, and is told, "...You won't find him. He's not up there anymore." Eager to learn what happened, the boy asks to hear the story about the Christmas star.

A long time ago, far up in the sky, there were many stars who happily "twinkle-talked" every night to pass the time. All the stars except for Little Star. He was so small that the other stars ignored him. The stars had a lot to talk about because there had been a rumor going around for a loooong time that a king would soon be born. The stars were particularly excited because there was going to be a special reward for the star who would shine the brightest on the new king.

When the night of the king's birth finally came, the stars went to look for the newborn. Little Star came upon a very poor couple in Bethlehem who could only find a stable to sleep in. Surely, thought the other stars, the child born to that couple could not be the king, but Little Star came to understand - that Jesus "humbled himself to be born in a stable..." and that the new king's message was LOVE. Little Star did his very best to shine brightly, but would he burn himself out?

This is a beautifully written story that perfectly blends a fictional story with the birth of Christ. By telling the story of the star that shone above the stable that blessed night in Bethlehem, it connects the star that we put on top of our Christmas trees to the Nativity story. The illustrations, as always in DeStefano's books, are beautiful and add so much to the story. When you light up the Christmas tree this year, share this book with your children to help them connect the decorated tree to the most important event in our faith.

Quill says: A delightful Christmas story that is sure to become a favorite at bedtime as well as around the Christmas tree.

Book Giveaway for November

Time is running out to enter this month's book giveaway.  For November, we have a SIGNED copy of The Hero's Companion: Tallent & Lowery Book Three.  It's easy to enter, only takes a few minutes.  Head on over to our review site and enter today!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Special Offer from Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

Feathered Quill recently reviewed Ripley's latest book - Dare to Look! - and LOVED it.  Now the publisher is offering a special holiday purchase price to our readers:

We would like to offer your readers an exclusive discounted price, with our Holiday Special, which can be accessed by clicking on this shopping cart link: 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Interview with Author Carrie F. Shepherd

Today we're talking with Carrie F. Shepherd, author of Ashes to Ashes: The Scribing of Ishitar, Volume 2

FQ: We’ll begin with the fact that, I would assume, you already know: How much I love this series. What on earth made you come up with these characters? Are you a research maven who is very into religious history who likes to then expand on theories? Or, simply a person who is trying to put across the point that the war between good and evil still exists?

Author Carrie F. Shepherd

SHEPHERD: Thank you so much for talking with me today. I really appreciate your time and I’m very happy to hear that you enjoyed my new book.

I’ve always been fascinated with mythology and religion. As I allowed myself to research each of the different theologies I came to the conclusion that every religion shares the same basic principles. I would read stories from the bible that mirrored stories from the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Then, in my mid twenties, I started studying the angels. Specifically, I found Azrael extremely appealing as a concept character. What must it be like to see, hear, feel and know every joy and every pain that every individual in all worlds and times is experiencing and to do so all at once and in a single moment?

The Author and daughter Riyan at Banff National Park in Canada
FQ: What do you feel is your favorite genre - not only to read but to write? In addition, when it comes to series fiction, how do you feel about less intricate/interesting characters becoming so popular?

SHEPHERD: I love a good mystery. Anything that keeps the reader guessing and turning the page to find out what happens next. As for series fiction and its characters, every reader has their own genre and preference. I think for most people, reading is a means to escape into another world. Any author that can achieve that end goal for their reader deserves credit for their writing in my mind.

Daughter Riyan

FQ: Do you base any of your characters on people that are real; family members, friends, etc. I ask because I’m sure many fans of Ishitar wonder if he is perhaps a character that’s based in reality?

SHEPHERD: All of my characters are most definitely based on the people in my life who have influenced me, both positively and negatively, including Ishitar. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have met a broad range of people and each and every one of them have touched me enough in some way to become part of Ishitar’s story.

FQ: Readers always wonder what the author’s perspective is on issues such as Ebook publishing taking over the traditional paperback world. Do you believe the rise of Ebooks helps or hurts the author out there who has such a compelling subject but is perhaps pushed aside by traditional houses?

SHEPHERD: I’m an old fashioned reader, so my response to this question is influenced by that. I like the feel of a heavy book in my hands. At the same time, I understand the draw to e-books. As to whether it helps or hurts an author, that’s a tough question to answer. You have the opportunity of getting your work to a broader range of readers because, clearly, you can’t sell a digital copy for the same price as a paperback. Then again, as you say, the competition of being noticed and read can mitigate any advantage that may be present by being available in digital format. Still, as a reader, I’d rather spend a little more and have the physical book than a tablet, nook or kindle.

FQ: Do you believe that angels/religion is on the rise in fiction now that the vampires seem to have run their course?

That’s an interesting question. And I’m not certain of the answer. Every generation seems to pick its own theme and jump on board for the ride. Not so long ago it was Harry Potter and every other band of witch or wizard that captivated the readers’ imagination. I think people, right now, are just looking for something fresh and new. And that’s a more difficult task to achieve than I think people realize. I started writing Ishtar’s story over twenty years ago, not knowing that, some day, he would find his place and time. Then again, I supposed Milton’s fans would have gobbled this series up!

Author Carrie F. Shepherd

FQ: No spoilers, of course, but is Book 3 going to be the finale of this series, or will there be more to come?

SHEPHERD: Book three will not be the end. I’m not sure how many more installments there will be, at this juncture, but there is still a lot to resolve before we see who, ultimately, wins Noliminan’s crown!

To learn more about Ashes to Ashes: The Scribing of Ishitar, Volume 2 please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review - Going, Going, Dragon!

Going, Going, Dragon! (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye)

By: Colleen AF Venable
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467707268
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Mr. Venezi’s store, “Pets & Stuff” had changed as in big time. He was no longer selling pets. There had to be another way to make some money so Mr. Venezi began to order other things for the store. Of course everyone would simply rush in to buy those walrus toothbrushes he ordered, or so he thought. In his shop a mystery was never all that far away and soon he was shouting, “My pen! It’s gone!” It was a true mystery and Detective Herbert the turtle was slowly going to work on the case.

Now you’d think that in Venezi’s store, detectives Sasspants and Hamisher would step up to the plate to solve the mystery of the pen, but there was a little problem. Sasspants and Hamisher had retired. No more cases for them because as Hamisher exclaimed, “Now we’re deep-sea explorers! The astronauts of the ocean!” Viola, Mr. Venezi’s assistant arrived to work and discovered the toothbrushes. Not to worry, Mr. V had some “aardvark neckties” that would soon be arriving at the shop. There was only one problem and that was that no one was buying anything.

Herbert was still trying to find the pen thief while Sassapants talked to the chinchillas to see how they had been doing at Viola’s. Suddenly unusual things began to happen in the shop not long after Bree came into it reading a mysterious dragon book. Things began to appear while other things like Mr. V’s walrus toothbrushes and aardvark neckties began to disappear. One unwelcome thing that appeared in the shop was Mr. Westing. He was going to evict Mr. V for not paying the rent. Was it time for Sasspants and Hamisher to come out of retirement to solve a very perplexing mystery? Were they all going to be out in the streets?

Sasspants PI(G) and Hamisher come out of retirement to solve a very fiery, perplexing case. As usual, things are hopping in Mr. Venezi’s pet store, but there are a lot of changes occurring. Mr. V is no longer selling pets and a few other very interesting things are happening that will excite young readers who look forward to each installment. We are introduced to Detective Herbert, a turtle, and there appears to be a love interest on the horizon. Of course even dropping a hint would be a spoiler, so you’ll just have to read Going, Going, Dragon! to find out. If you’re a newbie to the series, you may wish to start at the beginning, but if you’re not, you’re going to be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next installment!

Quill says: If you have a wanna be detective, Sasspants PI(G) and Hamisher, will definitely give them a few pointers!

Book Review - The Heartbreak Killer

The Heartbreak Killer

By: Pamela Proehl
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication Date: April 2013
ISBN: 978-1483610993
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 2013

A thriller about a serial killer who believes he is a 'good man,' a woman who is haunted by dreams of being his next victim, a psychic who thinks the dreams do not foretell the woman's murder, and a cop who thinks psychic visions are a lot of hooey, make The Heartbreak Killer a book that you can't put down.

Rachel Carter is a young woman who works as a teacher in Seattle, Washington. While she is busy every day with her students, her nights are filled with horror. She has repeatedly dreamt that she is the next victim of the 'Heartbreak Killer,' a vicious serial killer of young woman who the police have been unable to catch. Rachel might simply ignore the dreams except that she once dreamed of a plane crash, a plane that she was originally supposed to be on. Could the dreams about the killer be another warning?

At the suggestion of her friend Heather, Rachel makes an appointment with Monica Rupert, a psychic who even the police have used to solve crimes. Rachel is skeptical about Monica's ability but without any other options, she agrees to meet.

At the meeting, Monica asks Rachel to think about her dream and as the schoolteacher does, Monica is able to see what Rachel sees. Because Rachel watches the victim get murdered in her dream, rather than experiencing it as if she is the victim, Monica believes it is not a premonition, just a bad dream. Rachel, however, is not convinced and as the story unfolds, she, Monica and Ted Parchelli, Seattle's head of homicide, get drawn into a terrifying nightmare as they try to find the killer.

The Heartbreak Killer is a murder mystery that starts out fast. The first chapter is a dream sequence, one of many horrifying dreams that Rachel has had to endure. It is graphic and will, no doubt, make your heart skip a beat. From there the story kicks into high gear. Rachel slowly learns more and more about the killer, but not before more murders are committed. The police doubt her and she is terrified that her time is running out. The mystery moves quickly although when new characters are introduced, the story slowed as the reader is given bit more background information on that person than needed. Beyond that, however, the mystery was a lot of fun, a handsome man/romance came from an unexpected source, and the twists at the end are not ones you'll be able to see coming.

Quill says: Not for the faint of heart, but if you like some real 'horror' in your crime novels, spun with several unexpected twists, then check out The Heartbreak Killer.

Book Review - Elmer and Snake

Elmer and Snake

By: David McKee
Publisher: Andersen Press
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1467720335
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 19, 2013

Elmer the patchwork elephant was just lazing around by the little bluebirds thinking about what he was going to do that day. Two other elephants put their heads together and did some thinking themselves. Hmmmmm, exclaimed one to the other, “Elmer is thinking up a trick to play on us. Let’s play a trick on him instead.” Well, that sounded like a grand plan, but neither one of them could think up a good trick. What to do? Go see snake, that’s what to do because he probably knew all kinds of tricks. And so he did.

Snake, who was all colors of the rainbow like Elmer, knew just the trick. “Tell him he’s looking pale. Get him to lie down and rest.” Of course if Elmer heard that he was looking pale often enough, he’d begin to believe it. Would it work? Hmmmmm, they weren’t sure. They got all the other animals of the jungle to help them out, but in the meantime, Snake was up to a trick of his own. He told Elmer all about the plot. Snake would cover him up with white mud and he’d surely fool them. “They want to trick you,” exclaimed Snake, “but we’ll trick them.” Hmmmmm, who was really going to be tricked in the end?

This is a tall tale about Elmer and tricky old snake that is sure to captivate its young audience. Of course little ones may not be able to see what mischief Snake is up to, but by the time the tricky twist is revealed at the end, they’ll certainly ask for this book again. Loveable Elmer, the patchwork elephant, has a lot of young fans and every time he has a new adventure, he garners a few more. The full-page, full-color artwork is vibrant, peppy, and sure to please young Elmer buddies. Fun, engaging, and a sure-to-please tale!

Quill says: Have you ever met Elmer? If not you're going to fall in love with this very loveable patchwork elephant as soon as you meet him!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Review - Ashes to Ashes: The Scribing of Ishitar, Vol. 2

Ashes to Ashes: The Scribing of Ishitar, Volume 2

By: Carrie F. Shepherd
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-484198605
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 17, 2013

In Volume 1 of this amazingly interesting and fun series, fans were first introduced to Ishitar. This is a character who certainly came into the world at the wrong time, since a tremendous war was gearing up between two gods. These gods, of course, were the big guns who ruled over the realms of Heaven and Hell.

Taking modern-day debates into this fantastical world, the author was able to show readers the difference between a society that was controlled and one that was working diligently in order to bring about freedom for all. Ishitar learned a great deal from that tale, as antagonists came out of the woodwork and ended up proving to Ishitar that what was going on around him was no game.

This is the setup leading into this even more exciting Book 2. Beginning in a very calm manner, readers sit by the side of Charles Hamilton. This is a man who has a great deal on his mind, since he just discovered a ‘gift’ left in a safety deposit box that he visits once a month. The box, usually empty, was filled this time around with a strange sort of puzzle box that another man who was on the scene referred to as an ‘incredible archaeological find’ (cue Indiana Jones music).

Solving the puzzle together, the men looked into the box and found a book that had been missing forever. Although the other man truly wanted to study it, Charles walked away. And the symbols, history, and danger that comes with the tome make up a twisted tale that reader’s will not believe.
The basic premise wraps around Iykva, who is a demon that was sent down in order to create a new race of mortals. Exiled, angry - Iykva comes to the conclusion that the only way for his people and the angels who were exiled to be equal in each others’ eyes is to bring about War.

Ishitar, this time around, is working to put a person on his father’s throne. He is sick of the game his parents play with each other; they do not have any feeling, apparently, for the lives that are lost simply because each one of them must be the top god on the food chain.

As hellish webs and divine puzzles intertwine, readers will once again find themselves taken on a ride of mythical proportions that has this particular reader practically panting for Volume #3.

Quill says: If you have not jumped aboard the Ishitar train, do it now and hold on for the coolest ride of your life.

Book Review - White Fire

White Fire (Pendergast)

By: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Publisher: Grand central Publishing
Publication Date: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2583-6
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 17, 2013

“The shudder of fear is as sensual as the shudder of pleasure, if not more so.” This is a line that speaks volumes when it comes to putting together a review of this latest incredible novel by Preston & Child.

Special Agent Pendergast is a character who has become beloved by millions. From his introduction in The Relic to his incredible growth and presence in a score of others, Special Agent Pendergast books have literally been A+ across the board.

In this new offering, the line above is stated by Oscar Wilde at a dinner table in 1889. Wilde is about to tell the gruesome tale he heard when he was on a speaking tour in the U.S.. You see, Wilde had come across a small town called Roaring Fork. This town was basically made up of miners long ago; men who barely ever saw the light of day because of the hard work they had to do. One miner told Wilde a story regarding men who were killed by an overly-hungry bear. Wilde offers up this tale to Arthur Conan Doyle, and watches as the creator of Sherlock Holmes turns pale and rushes away.

Oscar Wilde is not the only one to see Roaring Fork. In present day, Pendergast’s protégé, Corrie Swanson, also finds herself traveling to this location in order to write her thesis. She is only a Junior and has very little chance of winning the grant/award she needs. But when a strange story appears on her horizon and she’s told that bodies in a cemetery in Roaring Fork were actually dug up and moved so that a billionaire community could be built there, Corrie uncovers a project that she knows will blow her professor’s mind.

Roaring Fork is veiled with the glitz and glam that comes from wealthy snobs who want nothing more than to live in an exclusive community, when they’re not living in their palatial mansions elsewhere. But there are also many secrets lodged within the glittering village; secrets that Corrie stumbles across when she rubs a woman of power the wrong way.

The characters are many; from a librarian who wants to help Corrie and despises the rich; to a Sheriff who really wants nothing but coffee and quiet, and for all the bad stuff to stay far away; to a military woman who has more problems than you can possibly count. And when an arsonist begins to take their revenge at the same time as Corrie uncovers a human defilement of mammoth proportions, the story goes from A+ to A++.

Pendergast is the quiet, accented voice; he is the man in black who brings more intelligence and more satisfaction to the story than any character ever written. Helping all he can, Pendergast soon finds himself heading back to the past to see if perhaps Sherlock Holmes once had the answers to his present-day problems.

Quill says: Amazing; excellent; exhilarating - name an adjective! The only wish from readers like me is that Pendergast could have a book every month. But he IS always worth the wait! Outstanding, once again, gentlemen - thank you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review - Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

By: “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Illustrated By: Scott Garrett
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59474-648-2
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: November 15, 2013

This story starts at the beginning of eleven-year-old twins Nick and Tesla’s summer vacation where they have been shipped off to live with their Uncle Newt for the summer, as their parents had to make a work related trip to Uzbekistan to study soybeans. From the very beginning Nick and Tesla have doubts about this explanation but they do not have much time to think about it as one of their experiments, a homemade rocket, launches Tesla’s pendant into the yard of a creepy old house with a pale and scared looking girl peering out the window warning them to go away! Of course this mystery will not be ignored as Nick and Tesla work to find out what happened to this girl. Along the way they get thrown into more than they had ever expected including two very unfriendly criminals, killer dogs, and a mysterious black SUV that keeps following them. The only way to find out exactly what is going on is to put their minds together and come up with contraptions that will not only solve the growing list of questions but keep them alive.

These two authors do a great job of combining a mystery with science allowing a reader who is interested in just one or both to enjoy this book. There are enough elements that keep the reader guessing, such as the pale scared looking girl staring out the window, the creepy old house, and a mysterious black SUV, that any mystery book lover would want to continue turning the pages. On the other hand the ideas, contraptions, and plans that Nick and Tesla come up with are engaging for anyone who thinks scientifically. Then the way these two components fit together to create an appealing and page turning story is surprisingly wonderful.

For any reader who enjoys science, experiments, and building your own contraptions this book would definitely deliver. In addition to a fun, adventurous story there are step-by-step instructions to build homemade burglar alarms, electromagnets, and even a rocket launcher! For me the story was a good mystery with inviting and believable characters that fit and worked together well. Both Nick and Tesla are characters who are easy to relate to and I found myself wanting to search for the answers to their questions as much as they did. However, I am not a person who understands the mechanics of the experiments and contraptions they were building even though seeing that they worked to solve the mystery was quite amazing.

Quill says: This book has elements of both science and mystery so if a reader and especially a young pre-teen reader is interested in both of these elements it is a winner.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review -The Holdout

The Holdout

By: Laurel Osterkamp
Publisher: PMI Books
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1933826400
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 2013

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go on a reality show? Would you participate if offered the chance? Would you expose your innermost secrets on national television? In Laurel Osterkamp’s quick-reading new book, The Holdout, that’s just what Robin Bricker must decide as she’s given a chance to compete for one million dollars.

Told in the first person by Robin, the story picks up quickly. We immediately learn that Robin has returned home after competing on "The Holdout," a "Survivor" type reality show. Now home, she's dreading the fact that the last three episodes have yet to air, and she admits that " most humiliating moments are yet to come." Her contract states that she can't change her appearance while the show airs, so maybe she should just stay in her house until the next season starts. The reader's interest is piqued - what humiliating things happen to Robin? Can't stop reading now!

Our protagonist next introduces the reader to her family and it quickly becomes obvious that they don't all have faith in Robin, or in her ability to win the million dollars. Indeed, some of them laugh at the thought of Robin being good at sports and survival skills, two important things needed to win the show. A great support team they're not. It's no wonder Robin doubts herself, her employment skills and her ability to pick men.

Now it's on to the really fun part of the story - Robin's time competing on "The Holdout." We meet the other contestants, including the dorky Henry, the sultry Klemi, and the very handsome Grant. Before the contestants have even arrived at the island, Grant is making eyes at Robin and she's soon pretty happy about his interest. Unfortunately, Grant's only goal is to win the million dollars and he'll do anything to get the prize, including taking advantage of Robin. While the reader, and the national audience watching the show, can see that Grant is two-timing Robin, she's far too slow to pick up on the betrayal.

The majority of the book switches between the telling of the competition, and Robin's time at home while the show airs. She is called for Jury Duty and is hopeful that she can hide her true identity to the other jurists, since the final episodes will air during the trial. As she listens to the case, and gets to know some of the other people on the jury panel, Robin starts to grow, to mature, to find herself and maybe, just maybe, allow another man into her life.

While I'm not a fan of reality shows, I truly enjoyed author Laurel Osterkamp's version of a survival show. The scheming, backstabbing, and yes, skill required to win had me glued to the page. Like the imaginary national audience, I picked my favorite and kept my fingers crossed that that person would win. The jury scenes started out a bit slower, but as the case neared conclusion, and Robin and a fellow juror "got closer," the courtroom scenes were just as enjoyable. The Holdout is a definite gotta read book that fans of romance, fans of reality shows, and yes, even those who switch the channel when that tribal music comes on, should pick up a copy and start reading. You won't be disappointed!

Quill says: Grant is a royal scumbag who you love to hate, Robin is believable and likeable, the story moves quickly, the romance is spicy without being too outlandish, what's not to like? The Holdout is well worth your time.

For more information on The Holdout, please visit the author's website at:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Books in for Review

Here's a peek at some of the books that have just come in for review.  Check them out and then stop by in a few weeks to read the reviews.  Enjoy!

Headlong by Ron MacLean It's a hot Boston summer, and Nick Young, a washed-up journalist back in town to care for his dying father, is feeling the heat. Using his old skills to solve a mystery before the police do: to connect the dots between a major labor strike, a violent Occupy-style movement, and a murder that may involve his best friend's teen son. HEADLONG is a literary thriller about fathers, sons, eco-terrorism, murder, immaturity, anarchism, marriage, friendship and failure.

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars What if the Mayans got the start of the end correct because they had survived it once before? What if our written history was just as accurate as the old tale about three blind men describing an elephant? What if classic science fiction writing and television shows each got a piece of it correct, would you know which ones? If your eyes can only see a tiny portion of a collage do you know it is a collage?

Little Star by Anthony DeStefano Tonight a king will be born, and all the stars in heaven are competing to see who can shine the brightest for him. But when the stars see the poor family huddling in the shabby stable, they begin to think that this baby couldn't be a king after all! That is, all the stars except the smallest, loneliest star in the sky, Little Star. He recognizes the baby Jesus as the King of kings and understands His special message of love. Read on to discover the extraordinary way Little Star serves his King on that cold, dark night.

Light Riders and the Missouri Mud Murder by Ann Goldfarb Sixteen-year-old Ryn and his younger sister, Aeden, hadn't planned on using their knowledge of time travel to solve any more murders. But when the body of their friend's great-grandfather turns up encased in mud, they decide to tackle one more mystery. Unaware that solar flares would interfere with the time-space continuum, the siblings find themselves caught in a time loop between 1952 and the Ice Age and are forced to use survival skills they never thought they had. But worst of all, someone has traveled back in time with them, posing a greater threat than any of the prehistoric animals they face. "Light Riders" Ryn and Aeden must work frantically to unlock the clues, because the next jolt through time could be their last. And this time, Snell's Law of Refraction won't save them.

Behind the Smile: Sex, Humor, and Terror During the Glamour Years of Aviation by Bobbi Phelps Wolverton A memoir about international flying in the glamour years of aviation (1965-1973). Bobbi, a young adventurous woman, joins the airline industry and shares fascinating true tales, illustrating life behind the scenes while flying through bullets into Vietnam, having babies born in flight, sexual escapades, and harassment from violent passengers.

Swimming to the Moon: A Collection of Rhymes Without Reason by Jeff McMahonWords of wisdom, whimsy and wonder fill this collection of tall tales and silly stories. As you wander through the pages you just may come across a rare Giraffapotamus, or meet The Remarkable Hector McTwee, and maybe even take a ride on a Unicornicycle. There are Cannonballs and Cartwheelers, Tree Climbers and Trampolinists, Moon Swimmers and Moose Riders, and an amazing assortment of funny, strange, and unforgettable rhymes that will have you wondering just what's coming next. A timeless collection of poems and art keeping the tradition of hardcover books and bedtime reading alive. This is the first in a projected trilogy which will include the sequel Running To The Sun, to be followed by Sailing To The Stars.

Gourmet French Macarons: Over 75 Unique Flavors and Festive Shapes (CD Included) by Mindy Cone French macarons with a unique twist of color and shapes! Go beyond circles and basic flavors and give the popular classic a modern and whimsical makeover. Gourmet French Macarons is filled with tried and tested recipes, techniques, styling ideas, templates, and decorating tips. Impress everyone with over 75 flavors and shapes to fit each season, holiday, or life celebration.

Cherished Memories by Sylvia Rouss When nine-year-old Amy offers to help her grandmother recover her worn and stained dining room chairs, she is surprised to learn that her grandmother likes them just the way they are. Grandma's loving explanation is an amusing and delightful tapestry of Cherished Memories.

Book Review - Esther's Hanukkah Disaster

Esther's Hanukkah Disaster

By: Jane Sutton
Illustrated by: Andy Rowland
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0761390435
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Oh, my! Esther the purple gorilla was in trouble because she forgot all about shopping for Hanukkah. She did have a shopping list prepared, but there wasn’t anything on it for her friends. “Bananas, bananas, bananas, leaves, bananas.” That would never do because not everyone wanted that sort of thing for Hanukkah. Well, maybe Sarah who was a monkey, but certainly not Hal who was a hyena. No that would never do. Off to the Jungle Store she went to shop for those very special Hanukkah gifts, or so Esther thought they were special. She wheeled her bamboo cart right to the clothing department and began to shop. “What unusual socks!” Into the cart they went. Esther rushed thought the store finding Hanukkah gifts that were sure to please.

She smiled, giggled, and laughed out loud as she read 100 Jokes about Elephants, something that Oscar the elephant would certainly love. After she wrapped her gifts in pretty in pink paper, Esther “lit the shamash candle and said the special blessing.” After the two candles in her menorah had burned down “it was time for Esther to deliver her presents.” Things began to go terribly wrong. The socks were too big and those elephant jokes were in very bad taste. Was there anything Esther could do to make up for her mistakes?

This is the hilarious tale of Esther the purple gorilla and her near disastrous Hanukkah gifts. Esther had forgotten all about Hanukkah and in her haste to shop, she didn’t think about her friends’ need. The funniest one, of course, was when she handed Oscar that book of elephant jokes. “There should be a law against elephant jokes,” he declared. The charming twist at the end fortunately gets Esther out of her Hanukkah dilemma. The artwork is bold, colorful, and has just the right touch of zany to please the young reader. In the back of the book is a brief discussion about Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.

Quill says: Young readers are sure to laugh at the zany, near disastrous Hanukkah shopping experience of Esther, the purple gorilla!

Book Review - Sadie's Almost Marvelous Menorah

Sadie's Almost Marvelous Menorah

By: Jamie Korngold
Illustrated by: Julie Fortenberry
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0761364931
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Hebrew school was ever so much fun. Sadie sang Hebrew songs, played house at the “wooden sink in the kitchen corner,” and snuggled up in an overstuffed green chair to spend quiet time with a book. Sadie loved everything about school, including her teacher, Morah Rachel. She even gave her a paper heart to prove it. During circle time Morah Rachel asked if anyone knew what special holiday was coming up soon. Well, the hands began to wave wildly because everyone knew that Hanukkah was nearing. Sadie began to think of all the special things she did during the holiday season.

Sadie would spin her dreidel, eat some “potato latkes with applesauce,” and help “mommy and Daddy light their Hanukkah menorahs.” She could picture Mommy lifting her up with the shammash to light them, the thing she loved most of all. When Morah Rachel told them they were going to make menorahs Sadie was really excited. “My very own Hanukkah menorah!” All the boys and girls began to sculpt their menorahs and when they were done Sadie had the prettiest one of all. On Friday when she ran to Mommy to show her that pink and blue menorah she dropped it. How would Sadie be able to celebrate Hanukkah with a menorah that “broke into a million, zillion pieces?”

This is the delightfully charming tale of Sadie’s near-disastrous Hanukkah celebration. When the beautiful menorah hits the floor young readers will want to know what in the world can happen to make poor Sadie feel better. The surprising little twist at the end turns a disaster into something very special and memorable. The artwork is bold, bright, and has a somewhat retro feel that I’ve seen in the other “Sadie” books. Young children will learn a bit about the menorah, the Hanukkah celebration, and that not all is lost when something is broken. In the back of the book are a few candle blessings. This is an excellent story that any parent or caretaker can use to begin a child’s religious education or simply read for enjoyment.

Quill says: If you're a fan of Jamie Korngold's "Sadie" series, you're sure to love her almost disastrous Hanukkah celebration!

Book Review - Don't Sneeze at the Wedding

Don't Sneeze at the Wedding

By: Pamela Mayer
Ilustrated by: Martha Avil
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467704298
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Anna opened her mouth wide as Mommy felt her forehead and Daddy looked into her throat. "Ah-choo!" It looked like Anna was getting a cold, but it was not a good time to get one. Not a good time at all. Aunt Rachel and Uncle Matt were getting married and she was going to be the flower girl. It would never do if Anna sneezed through the wedding. "If you feel a sneeze coming, press your upper lip with your finger like this," Daddy instructed. Anna's flower girl dress was so very pretty and she was very excited to wear it.

"Ah-choo!" There Anna went again, but this time she sneezed on Grandma in front of the temple. No, it was not a good time to get a cold. Grandma told her that wiggling her earlobe was just the thing to do. "Press lip, wiggle, earlobe, don't sneeze." Anna sneezed on Monsieur Phillippe, the make-up artist, Betty, the florist, Glenn the photographer, and even the Rabbi. Anna worked on all the "stop sneezing suggestions" because everyone told her not to sneeze during the wedding. Everything was going fine until it was time to break the glass. Ahhhhhh ... was Anna going to ruin the wedding?

This is a delightfully charming story Anna and her big ah-choo young children will love. Everyone will smile at Anna as she tries out all the suggestions for keeping that big sneeze in check. Try as she might that ah-choo keeps coming to the surface. Everyone tells her not to "sneeze at the wedding" because they don't want her to ruin Aunt Rachel and Uncle Matt's day. The humorous twist at the end will make everyone, young and old alike, chuckle at the solution to Anna's ah-choo dilemma. The artwork is wonderfully whimsical and bright. In the back of the book is a brief section "About Jewish Weddings."

Quill says: This is a humorous tale of an almost-disastrous wedding that young children will love!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Humor Book Award

Are you a funny person, with a funny book, that you want to promote to all the readers who love to read funny books??? How do you get the word out about your book??? Consider entering your title in the Feathered Quill Book Awards! We have a humor category just for you!  Learn more at Feathered Quill Book Awards!

Book Review - Rifka Takes A Bow

Rifka Takes A Bow

By: Betty Rosenberg Perlov
Illustrated by: Cosei Kawa
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0761381280
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Mama and Papa looked so very different when they put on their makeup. Rifka smiled in amazement as they turned into old people. They really weren’t old, but rather they were “actors in the Yiddish Theater.” When they took her to work, they rode the subway to Union Square where they would begin their walk to the theater. They would “stop at the Automat for a snack” on their way. Mama and Papa smiled as they watched Rifka stand on a bench to reach that big piece of cherry pie. Yum! Walking to the theater was interesting, but when they reached The Grand, a theater on Second Avenue, the fun began.

Rifka’s eyes grew wide as Mama became different characters. Papa too. Who was that man with the little glasses and the big, long beard? Now that’s what Rifka wanted to know. “Piff-Paff! Not to worry. I am really your papa. How else would I know your name is Rifkeleh?” She whirled through the dressing rooms (no swearing!) and peeked out onto the stage as she waited for the plays to begin. Underneath that stage it was a bit scary though with all those props. Papa told her all about how actors did special things during plays, but what was he going to say when she accidentally stepped out on that stage during a performance?

This is a fun and fascinating look at Rifka and her surprise performance in a Yiddish theater. Of course Rifka’s experiences are fictional, but we are treated to a rare glimpse back in time through the eyes of Betty Rosenberg Perlov, who grew up in the theater. Her “real” story, along with photographs, is in the back of the book. The artwork is bold, bright, and delightfully whimsical as it captures the aura surrounding Yiddish theater. One of the interesting things children will marvel at are the tricks that Papa showed Rifka. Do you know why an actor isn’t hurt when an "actor hits another actor with a loud slap?" If not, you will after you read this book!

Quill says: This is a rare glimpse into the world of Yiddish theater through the eyes of Betty Rosenberg Perlow, a woman who experienced it!

Book Review - Cherished Memories

Cherished Memories

By: Sylvia Rouss
Illustrated by: Pat Davis
Publisher: Apples & Honey Press
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978-1467585422
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2013

Amy’s smile broadened as she rushed up the stairs to visit her grandmother. Her blue eyes twinkled as she hugged Grandma tight and exclaimed, “I got the part of the princess in the school play!” Amy would need some material for a costume and after she scouted out some material in Grandma’s sewing cabinet, she came back to find a snack waiting for her. A “glass of chocolate milk and a plateful of cookies” were as perfect as the pink flowered material she found. Oddly enough, that beautiful material was somehow familiar... it was the same pattern that covered Grandma’s dining room chairs.

There was only one difference and that was that the “cushions were faded and worn and covered with stains.” Perhaps that was a big difference and Amy thought that it might be time to make “new seat covers” for those chairs that had “lots of stains and worn spots.” Amy’s red ponytails bobbed and she smiled at Grandma and waited for her reaction. It was a good idea, but those stains and spots were a special remembrance of the years the family had come together to “celebrate many happy occasions.” Just what were those occasions that would make those threadbare cushions worth saving?

This is a charming story of Amy and how she learns about her Grandma’s cherished memories. Of course not all memories are easily seen, especially when they come in the form of stains and spots. The story, which many families can relate to, wind around those fond memories that sometimes come from things you would nominate as least memorable. In this story Amy learns about those special times Grandma cherished that were in her heart and in those cushions. The artwork is simple, yet very appealing. If you have some cherished memories you wish to share, this book would be a perfect book to read and discuss with your children or grandchildren.

Quill says: If you want a special book to use as a jumping off point to share those "cherished memories" with your family, this is one you may wish to add to your list!

Interview with Jim Gilliam

Today we're talking with Jim Gilliam, author of Tarnished Hero

FQ: You are obviously a multi-talented person and are an emerging force in the publishing world. If you were only to be known for one accomplishment, what would that be and why?

GILLIAM: To be compared favorably with: Joseph Conrad and Jack London, and to be loved by my readers.

FQ: From a runaway to an airborne combat physician assistant is quite a leap. Briefly tell us what motivated you along your chosen career path.

GILLIAM: My parents were divorced when I was nine, I was an only child, and I thought it was my fault. That’s ridiculous of course, but that’s how kids think. Or, at least this kid. I ran away to the mean streets of New Orleans just prior to my fourteenth birthday. I survived on those tough streets, often sleeping on rooftops and under bridges. I ended up looking for work, based out of a Catholic mission for men down on their luck. I lucked out and found work as a deckhand on a sailing yacht the Windjammer II. A little later, I lied about my age and joined the Coast Guard. It’s all chronicled in my first novel: Point Deception. After being medically retired from the Coast Guard, I became an academic bum, changing my major in college like some men change their socks. Then I got serious about a career in the medical field and transferred from the University of Houston to the Baylor College of Medicine’s new Physician Assistant Program—I had a full scholarship. A few years later, I entered the Army as an airborne combat physician assistant, a vocation, I was apparently well suited for.

FQ: In Tarnished Hero, Tim Kelly is the type of hero that movies are made of. Perhaps you had someone in mind who might portray him in a movie? Any hints as to whom that might be and why?

GILLIAM: If I’m lucky enough to have any of my books made into movies—actually, two different movie producers have requested the synopsis of both: Point Deception and Tarnished Hero—I would hope Matt Damon would like to do it. He’s great in the Jason Bourne series.

FQ: Obviously your own service in the military has had an influence in your writing. Do you have a snippet of a story to tell that may have slipped into the pages of your work?

GILLIAM: Most first novels tend to be somewhat autobiographical, and that was the case in Point Deception, which soon took on a life of its own and basically wrote itself as did Tarnished Hero, to some extent. Here is my portrayal of fourteen year-old Tim Kelly’s first real day at Coast Guard boot camp, Cape May, NJ. Just substitute Jim Gilliam for Tim Kelly:

“At 0500 on Wednesday, January 2, Kelly was in a deep REM sleep. Without preamble, the door to the transient squad bay slammed open, the barracks trash cans were hurled the full length of the room, loudly crashing against the far wall, sounding like a mini train wreck, creating apprehension and confusion among the room’s twenty some odd occupants—all of them, new recruits.

Kelly rolled out of the bottom bunk and bounced off the floor, or deck, as he soon learned to refer to it.
“Okay you scum bags, life as you knew it is over!”

Totally disoriented, standing there in his underwear next to his bunk, his whole body was covered in goose bumps; it was bitter cold outside and the barracks heat had been turned down by the barracks watch during the night.

A bewildered Kelly just stood there that first bitter-cold morning, trying, without success, to figure out what had just happened. The beginning of his recruit training had commenced, literally, with a bang.”

FQ: As a onetime airborne physician assistant, was it easy to transition to a similar position in civilian life or was it a whole ‘nother ball game as they say?

GILLIAM: Actually, it was the other way round, I was a fully trained Physician Assistant when I entered on active duty with the Army. Later in my Army career I was a Surgical Subjects Instructor, at the Army Physician Assistant Program, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

FQ: There’s always that turning point in one’s life that make them pick up that pen and put it to paper. What was yours and will there be more books in the future?

GILLIAM: All of us are writers of nonfiction from an early age. We do essays and book reports in school and write work related memorandums and reports and letters—business and personal—after our school days are over. I was the medical service officer on a Navy ammunition ship cruising off the coast of Kuwait in 2008, when I decided to write my first novel. The task of the nonfiction writer is to simply convey information, while the task of the fiction writer is to evoke an emotional response in the reader. That is the very essence of showing versus telling. I’m currently working on my third novel: The SADM Project and here’s what I mean about evoking emotion rather than simply conveying information:

"His skin the color of old leather, attesting to years of operating in jungles from Bolivia to Cambodia and back again, the man in the faded Army fatigue jacket sat on the bench, the regulation duffle bag containing all his worldly possessions at his feet, his Thousand Meter Stare focused on the windows of the apartments across the street, at the strange race of civilians who still had the promise of hope his fallen comrades had secured for them."

As a reader, would: “The man, occupying the bench on Main Street, looking up at the apartments across the street is one of thousands of homeless veterans returning to civilian life from one of our nation’s wars, as reported by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.” Have the same effect? Not for me and I’ll bet, not for you either. Writers and readers are partners, and if a partnership is to work, both, must be attentive to the needs of the other.

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