Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Books In For Review

Here's a quick look at some of the books that have recently arrived for review.  Check them out and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews!

A Man in Control by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. David Wynthers is a microbiology professor who needs to control all aspects of his life. His orderly world gets thrown into turmoil by the death of his wife. A cascade of events follows for Dave to cope with - murder, mystery,terrorists tracking him, sudden wealth, an intriguing police detective, and the FBI. Can Dave maintain control of the events swirling around him?  

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry. Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead. Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.  

Sprouting Wings: The First Novel in the Alan Ericsson Series by Henry Faulkner Filled with the sights and sounds of the pre-World War II era, Sprouting Wings (the first novel in the Alan Ericsson series) pulls readers into the tensions of the daily life of our military men and women. From working with new equipment to working with the US Navy's diverse population--and strong egos--few punches are pulled as Alan finds himself riding the forefront of technology. Having survived a submarine sinking, can Alan make it as an aviator? Will he and his new love make it through months apart as they both pursue their dreams? Can love--and Alan--survive the lead-up to war?

The Ghost of Donley Farm by Jaime Gardner Johnson Rebecca, the red-tailed hawk, is not afraid of ghosts! One night, she bravely ventures into the barn to meet the famous ghost of Donley Farm. But when she finally meets him, Rebecca is surprised to discover that this “ghost” is much more familiar than she’d expected. Join Rebecca as she stays up late to talk with her new friend and find out what they have in common and how they are different.

Little Gray's Great Migration by Marta Lindsey Little Gray loved his lagoon and the humans who came to visit him there. One day, Mama announces that they must swim north to a far-away sea. At first he is sad to leave his home, but Little Gray soon realizes the importance of their journey. What happens along the way and how does Little Gray help his mother? Swim along with Little Gray as he finds the way to this special, food-filled sea.

Animal Eyes by Mary Holland The sense of sight helps an animal stay safe from predators, find food and shelter, defend its territory and care for its young. We can tell a lot about an animal from its eyes: whether it is predator or prey, whether it is more active during the day or night, and sometimes even its gender or age. Award-winning nature photographer and environmental educator Mary Holland shares fascinating animal eyes with readers of all ages.

Animal Helpers: Raptor Centers by Keats Curtis Even powerful birds of prey can get sick or hurt. When that happens, animal helpers at raptor centers come to the rescue! Dedicated staff treats injured, sick, and orphaned animals. They return the birds to their native environment or find forever homes at education and raptor centers for those that can’t survive in the wild. Follow along in this photographic journal as staff and volunteers come together to care for these remarkable birds.

Animal Partners by Scotti Cohn From the “crocodile’s dentist,” to the “mongoose spa,” Animal Partners takes a whimsical look at symbiotic relationships of animals large and small. Although many animals live in groups of the same kind, here you will learn how some animals form unique partnerships with different species. After all, don’t we all need a little help from our friends?

Clouds: A Compare and Contrast Book by Katharine Hall There are many different kinds of clouds all around us. Clouds come in diverse shapes and colors. Some clouds are fluffy and others are wispy. Some clouds float high in the sky and others sit low on the ground. Some clouds warn of storms and other clouds tell of fair weather. Compare and contrast the characteristics of different types of clouds through vibrant photographs.

Dino Treasures by Rhonda Lucas Donald Just as some people dig and look for pirate treasure, some scientists dig and look for treasures, too. These treasures may not be gold or jewels but fossils. Following in the footsteps of Dino Tracks, this sequel takes young readers into the field with paleontologists as they uncover treasured clues left by dinosaurs. Readers will follow what and how scientists have learned about dinosaurs: what they ate; how they raised their young; how they slept, fought, or even if they ever got sick. True to fashion, the tale is told through a rhythmic, fun read-aloud that can even be sung to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Salamander Season by Jennifer Keats Curtis

Trees: A Compare and Contrast Book by Katharine Hall Trees grow in many habitats, all around the world. Some trees are short and some are tall. Some grow in hot deserts and others grow on cold mountains. Some have leaves that are broad and wide and others are short and narrow. Some trees stay green all year round while others have leaves that change color. Compare and contrast the different characteristics of trees through vibrant photographs.

Book Review - Things Half in Shadow

Things Half In Shadow

By: Alan Finn
Publisher: Gallery Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Publication Date: December 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-6172-5
Reviewed by: Charline Ratcliff
Date: December 31, 2014

I was uncertain what to expect when I agreed to read Things Half In Shadow by Alan Finn. Yes, of course I'd read the book’s Amazon ‘about’ blurb, but that only seemed to make the book a bit more ‘mysterious’ and thereby more challenging to categorize into one specific genre. Having also noticed that Things Half In Shadow was 400 plus pages long, I certainly hoped that it would at least be an interesting read – and thankfully, it did not disappoint.

From the very first paragraph of the Foreword, I was captivated. Finn has written this tale in the first person (a style that I sincerely enjoy) and I truly loved the manner in which he shared the story – using verbiage and mannerisms that made me feel as if I really was in a previous century. Things Half In Shadow is fiction, yet, as I read, Edward Clark, the book's main character explained (via the Foreword) that this recounting is, in fact, truth. Clark’s granddaughter, Isabel, has a deep-seated interest in the macabre (and other-worldly), so when she learned that her grandfather had personal experience with a ghostly murder she requested that he write his account down for posterity’s sake.
Once readers finish the Foreword, they will turn the page and meet a much younger Edward Clark from 1869. At this stage of Clark’s life, he’s a respected crime reporter for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin – and on this particular April morning, Clark was unceremoniously roused from his slumber at five o’clock and escorted by a policeman to the city’s waterfront. The body of a young woman had just been pulled out of the Delaware River and the police need the Evening Bulletin readers’ help to identify her.

William Barclay (a Police Investigator, but also Clark's friend), is labeling this death as an accidental drowning. However, Clark (having seen his fair share of drowning victims) feels that this woman does not visually show any of the signs needed to warrant a death by drowning conclusion. No purpling skin due to lack of oxygen, no bloating of the body – in fact, the woman’s expression is so peaceful that she looks as though she could have passed in her sleep.

This debate between Clark and Barclay is interrupted though when an older woman and her younger daughter push their way past the police barrier. Sadly, they are able to identify the deceased woman as their missing sister/daughter. And with that revelation, this case is closed so to speak and Clark trudges off to the paper.

Once there, his editor corners him with a very unfavorable-to-Clark assignment – visit the homes of local mediums; participate in their séances and then write a weekly article debunking the myth and proving that each medium he visits is a fraud. This is certainly not Clark's cup of tea – he is after all a well-known and respected crime writer, but his editor will not let him off the hook so easily. Clark must at least give the proposed assignment some sincere thought first.

At this point I’ll stop with the book's summation as I really don't want to ruin the reader's journey of discovery. I’ll just state that Things Half In Shadow was a grippingly-good read. Finn has a wonderful writing style and he certainly managed to portray the feel of 1869 accurately. The plot, scenes and characters were exceptionally believable and at times I almost felt as though I was reading one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

Quill says: Things Half In Shadow has it all: murder, mystery and intrigue – with a smattering of some ghostly other-world thrown in for good measure! A fantastic tale and an author we’re looking forward to reading more from in the future. Five stars, and certainly deserving of each one.

Book Review - We Are Not Good People: Ustari Cycle series

We Are Not Good People: Ustari Cycle series

By: Jeff Somers
Illustrated By: Allen Dingman
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-9679-0
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 1, 2015

Lem Vonnegan was not a master of magic, he was a trickster by choice just barely getting by on the spells he could cast using his own blood, for he refused to bleed anyone else to fuel his own magic. Blood was the key to all magical spells and the more blood that was available the more powerful a spell could be cast. Then the next step was to learn the correct words to be said in order to get what you want from a spell. Thankfully Lem was good with the words and knew how to manipulate them into getting exactly what he wanted. However, it was the choice not to bleed anyone else that unfortunately kept Lem and his humble sidekick Mags in a life of poverty for years with no real way to get out of it. The main difference between a trickster and a powerful mage was that mages were willing to bleed as many people as it took to cast their spells without a second thought while tricksters preferred to stick to small insignificant spells that could be cast with the blood they had within themselves.

In an instant both Lem and Mags' lives are completely turned upside down as they come across a girl named Claire Mannice who for some reason is covered in ancient runes that can only be seen by people who practice magic. The only reason these runes would be put on a person like this is because she is very important in something extremely powerful. The pair of friends comes across Claire at a hotel where it appears she is being kidnapped and without much thought as to why they are doing it, Lem and Mags rescue her. It does not take long for Lem to find out exactly why this certain girl is so important, for she is wanted by the most powerful mage in the world, Mika Rena, who has destructive plans that Claire is the key to. Quickly thrown into a battle for the Earth that no one saw coming, Lem finds himself trying desperately to protect both Claire and Mags from whatever devastating plan Mika Renar has in mind.

Through the years I have read countless novels about magic but this story showed magic in quite a unique way that I had not seen before. It was interesting as the story developed to see how each of the characters viewed the different methods of fueling their spells and why they made the decisions they did. It was also intriguing to think about the possibility that these powerful mages could have been behind some of the biggest disasters in this world that have changed the face of history. That is what I love about writing - that you can bring to life so many new possibilities and create whole new worlds that can give an entirely new perspective. Jeff Somers does that in this novel.

Quill says: This is an intense and intriguing novel that keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Interview with Author Sally Smith O'Rourke

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Sally Smith O'Rourke, author of Days of Future Past

FQ: You have proven many times over that you have that historical romantic vein running in your blood, with the intriguing ‘Jane Austen’ bent of some of your novels. Is history something you love to explore? Are you a research demon when it comes to past centuries?

O’ROURKE: Indeed, I love history. I believe the old adage that you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. Many ideas come from research I do for enjoyment, so I guess you’re right, I am a research demon or junkie, depending on how you look at it.

FQ: There are many authors who say they must ‘write from something they know,’ whereas others say their ideas come from the imagination. In your case, because all of the emotions are so deep in your tales, how exactly do your ideas come to you?

O’ROURKE: I guess I’m a combination of the two. The base storyline is generally from my imagination, but everything around it, details, relationships, and events are often based on my own experiences or those of people I know. Some does come from intense research. (An aside, the house manager of the Jane Austen House Museum told me that my depiction of Chawton made her feel as though she was walking down the road there – I’ve never been to Chawton)

FQ: If you could go into a book, any book, which would it be? And which character would you wish to be, and why?

O’ROURKE: You don’t stipulate fiction or non-fiction (although I suspect you meant fiction) and my choice is a bit of both. As a young teen-ager I picked up a copy of Anna and the King of Siam at a garage sale. After telling my mother how much I enjoyed it, she gave me a copy of The English Governess at the Siamese Court so that I would know the real story and not just the fictionalized one. There are those who believe that Anna Leonowens’ memoir was fictionalized. We will never know for sure, the world has taken Margaret Landon’s novel as the ‘real’ story. The bottom line, though is that in the mid-nineteenth century, in the heart of the Victorian era, Anna Leonowens was a fiercely independent woman who traveled the world and wrote about her experiences. Her bravery in a time when women were expected to marry well, have children and follow the proprieties of a repressive society, is extraordinary.

FQ: The vistas written are stunning; whether it be a bungalow in California or a Scottish 1800’s world. Is there a trick, I wonder, when it comes to writing such descriptive and detailed locations, to somehow not lose the characters or the core of the story? Much like Austen, your writing has that small ‘core’ of people, yet the world around them is so lofty.

O’ROURKE: I thank you for the compliment. I don’t think there’s a trick, although I don’t really know how I do it. Based on research and experience I visualize a scene or sequence and write it exactly as I see it in my mind. Perhaps that is why my writing has been called cinematic.

FQ: Time movement, history, past lives; are these subjects you are most interested in when it comes to writing a novel?

O’ROURKE: I’m sure my love of history is, at least, partially responsible when it comes to using time as a vehicle. However, not all are time related, The Maidenstone Lighthouse is a ghost story (of course, the ghost is from the past) and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage is strictly contemporary (although is narrated by the family’s pet Golden Retriever, Meteor). But I must confess a desire to venture into the past.

FQ: Along those same lines, are there other genres you wish to explore with your writing?

O’ROURKE: I don’t really write in any particular genre, although they all include a love story, they are not considered romance. My books are listed as general fiction, and frankly because they don’t have a genre are often hard to market. My publisher put a ‘romance’ type cover on The Man Who Loved Jane Austen for the mass market edition, and we got several letters complaining that it wasn’t a romance novel. That said, I won’t be doing mystery or crime drama or anything like that, perhaps I will eventually write an actual historical novel, only time will tell.

FQ: Can you tell our readers what may be coming up next?

O’ROURKE: I am currently working on a ghost story that takes place in San Francisco, working title: The Bridge. I plan to do the third and final Jane Austen book, Farewell, Sweet Jane and on the back burner is a story that takes place on the Monterey peninsula of California and is peopled by fairies. I’ve been considering a novel set during the Civil War which may become my historical novel. So many stories, so little time.

FQ: I always end my interviews with a question that readers love to know the answer to: If you could have lunch with any author, alive or dead, who would it be, and why?

O’ROURKE: I would love to sit by a fire and have tea with Jane Austen. I find her mind, wit and talent amazing and fascinating. Comparing my writing to hers is the ultimate compliment. Thank you.

To learn more about Days of Future Past please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Interview with Author Fat Hendrick

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Fat Hendrick, author of Buttermilk

FQ: The biggest question: Where did this particular idea come from? Readers will definitely want to know.

HENDRICK: One day, when my twins were little, I saw a stuffed cow they left out on the floor. In an act of spontaneity, I decided, "I'm going to write a story about a cow," but I wanted something unique, something crazy, almost implausible. I began to think...what if this cow didn't give milk; what if it gave something different? What might a cow produce that you might hear as a rumor and think, "Could that be real?"

It struck me that when milk is churned enough, it becomes butter. Now I needed to figure out how and what might cause this phenomenon. Well...if the cow were moving around enough, and churning the milk inside of her, that might do it, but she would have to be moving an awful lot...what would cause a cow to bounce up and down and rock and roll back and forth enough to produce butter...what if the cow were dancing? The Mysterious Man from Tupelo was introduced and the rest, as they say, is "history."

FQ: When it comes to the background of your family, many things are stated. Can you expand on the amazing tale of the Van Wie family? Is it true that this book was written by his great (x10) grandson?

HENDRICK: My family history is true. In 1664, Hendrick Gerritse Van Wie paid eight full beaver pelts and four half pelts to sail from Texel Island in the Netherlands on the ship De'Endracht. He arrived in America right when the British were taking over New Amsterdam (Manhattan). According to the Kingston Papers, Hendrick Gerritse Van Wie was referred to as "Fat Hendrick" of Wildwyck. Fat Hendrick occupied a farm called Domine's Hoeck, which is now known as Van Wie's Point. He built a house in Beverwyck (Albany) and married. On August 11, 1691 Fat Hendrick, under the command of Major Peter Schuyler, was badly wounded during an attack of a large French force on August at Paray in Canada during the French and Indian War. He died soon after, leaving a line of Van Wies that still exist today. The Van Wies have been in every American war since, including the American Revolution. Now 350 years later, and after many, many years of researching my family tree, I am proud to use my Great-Grandfather's (x10) nickname, Fat Hendrick, as my pen name.

Buttermilk wins a blue ribbon! - Image from the book "Buttermilk"

FQ: Was writing always a gift in the family – passed down through the generations? Or is writing a new path?

HENDRICK: When I was a young Boy Scout we went on a "Wilderness Survival Campout." You were allowed to bring a little food, a drop cloth and a sleeping bag. No tents, no matches, no comforts. There were four of us put together and we didn't know each other. We were told where to camp and then left to our own devices. We were very nervous being in the wilderness without any adult supervision and quickly began preparing our drop cloth and sleeping bag around a center location where we hoped to build a fire. We each went out and gathered all the things we needed for the fire...tinder, kindling and some larger logs if we were successful. As the sun began to sink, we gathered around our fire pit to cut off the wind as we each took turns sliding our knife down a magnesium striking stick, hoping for a spark. It wasn't long before all of our training paid off and a small spark started some smoke. We rapidly built the fire up until we could see that it would provide enough heat and light for all of us that night.

When it was completely dark, we were all staring quietly quietly into the fire, letting the heat settle our nerves. None of us was very hungry or had much to say. One of the scouts had a tiny flashlight, a breach in the rules for wilderness survival, and was reading a book. I leaned over, "What are you reading?"
"Where the Red Fern Grows," he replied.
"How far along are you?"
"Just started," he said.
As much as the cracking of the fire helped our nerves, I thought a distraction might be nice... "Would you read it out loud?"

All night we sat up taking turns reading the pages, listening intently to Old Dan and Little Anne's adventures. Our fears, concerns, and worries were gone as we were lifted away into the story, watching those dogs hunt raccoons, grow up together, and finally save their boy master Billy in the end. That night showed me the power of a good book and the impact it can have. I don't remember the location of my campsite, I don't remember the names of the other scouts I was with, but I never forgot how that book helped us all get through that cold night, huddled around our small fire. I knew then, that someday I wanted to write something that people could share as well.

The Author with Author David McCullough (left)

FQ: What made you choose children’s books for the genre to write in? And are there other genres you have, or wish to explore in the future?

HENDRICK: While getting my master's in education, I spent a lot of time with children in the classroom. I remember being fascinated with their responses to quality literature, especially when read by a Master Storyteller. I love seeing the look on a child's face as he is sucked into a great story...when he is locked on every word as it hangs in the air like candy, and the pure silence in the room as students intently listen to a pivotal moment unfolding before them. There is a certain joy in children's books that capture young readers' imaginations, draws them in, and makes them never want to leave...I wanted to be part of that.

I am very excited to begin artwork on another children's book. I'm a bit of an American Revolution history buff so this story is children's historical non-fiction. It tells the story of a ten-year-old boy embarking on a sea adventure with his father to help in the American Revolution. What makes their journey even more dangerous is that his father has been labeled the number one traitor by the British, to be hung the instant he is caught.

FQ: Is Farmer Floyd based on a real person…seeing as that other ‘real’ people make an appearance?

HENDRICK: If you can find that lone dirt road in the middle of farm country lined with a worn, wooden fence and follow it over a small hill, you'll come down into a lush green valley. A fresh sweet smelling breeze will hit you as you make your way past the grain silo and at the base of the valley you'll see Farmer Floyd's blue house, red barn, and a quaint little guesthouse sitting in the middle of fields and fields of corn. As you make your way to the sturdy two story house and night starts to fall, make sure you listen carefully. In the distance, you just might hear some distinct music floating through the cool night air coming from an old phonograph player sitting on a window sill. And, if you're really lucky, you might even find a guest or two sitting on the porch with Farmer Floyd and Mrs. Mavis, playing their musical instruments, singing, dancing, and having a great time. They will surely invite you to join them and enjoy the music while they smile and ponder what strange event might occur in the morning...

FQ: Can you tell readers what’s next for ‘Fat Hendrick: Master Story Teller’?

HENDRICK: Farmer Floyd's Farm has not seen its last adventure. I have just finished the manuscript for the second book. A new visitor rents out the guesthouse and Farmer's Floyd's chickens have never been the same since!

FQ: I always end with a question readers love to know: Is there an author or personality, alive or dead, you wish to have lunch with…and why? (Hmmm…Is this a surprise, or will a young ‘plucker’ be the answer?)

HENDRICK: I think the Mysterious Man from Tupelo would have been an incredible legend to visit, however I was very fortunate to have dinner many years ago with the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book John Adams (2001), David McCullough. I had helped finance the repair one of the original copies of the Star Spangled Banner and was invited to sit with Mr. McCullough at a dinner after the John Adams Library went on display at the Boston Public Library (I actually held some of the original books that John Adams owned and read). It was one of the true highlights in my life. So, to answer your question, if given a chance to have a lunch or meeting with any author or personality, I would love nothing better than to further discuss the American Revolution with another Master Storyteller, Mr. David McCullough.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Review - Buttermilk


By: Fat Hendrick
Illustrated by: Jamil Adler
Publisher: David Van Wie
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-615-15505-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Date: December 24, 2014

There are children’s books that are all about education; there are children’s books that are pure fun; and then there are children’s books that become a part of the household, where they are read over and over again because they are so funny and so cool and so unique that every child, as well as their parents, have a ball reading them. This is one of those books.

Readers will not know off the bat why Farmer Floyd’s prize cow, Jesse, suddenly seems a bit odd. By odd, I mean that Farmer Floyd is looking very forward to Jesse once again winning the prize at the county fair the very next day for her amazing milk. But in order for Jesse to ‘do her best’ she needs her sleep, yet in Farmer Floyd’s world there is only: “Noise! Noise! Noise!”

You see, a new tenant is on Farmer Floyd’s property right now; and all this tenant wants to do is pluck a guitar. The farmer is not at all happy about this because Jesse can get no rest, which means she may not produce the best milk she can. But the next morning, Jesse doesn’t even bother to give any milk; instead, she makes a wonderful butter that has the entire town going crazy. Everyone for miles around wants this “wonderful, delicious, savory…butter.” In fact, they can’t get it in their hands fast enough. Not only has Jesse produced something far more amazing than her usual awesome milk, but she keeps producing this butter over and over again. But…how exactly is she doing it?

Let us just say that there is something ‘magical’ happening on Farmer Floyd’s property; a type of magic that is wonderful to listen to; a type of magic that will go on for decades to come, turning every frown into a smile. Although parents may know from a shadowed picture what, exactly, is pleasing Jesse so much that she is producing something so wonderful, it will open the door for kids of today to learn all about a ‘presence’ that once made everyone really, really happy.

Listen to the ‘plucking’ of the strings; root for Farmer Floyd to figure it all out; and praise Jesse for all her work, as you fall in love with Buttermilk. The author has reached out to the stars to create this tale, and the illustrator has done a wonderful job showing all human emotions, as well as a very happy cow.

Quill says: A fun fantasy based in reality that you will love to read over and over and over again. Readers will say to the author: “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

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

Book Review - When I Grow Up I Want to Be ... A Veterinarian

When I Grow Up I Want to Be...A Veterinarian: Sofia's Dream Comes True
By: Wigu Publishing 

Publisher: Wigu Publishing
Publication Date: November 2014
ISBN: 978-1-9399-7314-6
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Date: December 23, 2014

It is always a thrill to find the next book in this amazing series in my mailbox. Wigu Publishing has five titles, thus far, in the "When I Grow Up" series with, thankfully, more to come. And each book not only provides a fun story with characters that kids love, but they also give pictures, facts, histories, past events, and facts that are essential to each 'career' that a child wishes to learn about.

In this latest offering, Wigu has picked something extremely close to my own heart. And for many, many readers, this book explores a job that is high up on the 'cool' meter. In this story, Sofia is a young girl who is desperate to take care of all the creatures in the world. Her mind and thoughts are full of information about animals that roam jungles, forests - even the mammals that swim in the ocean. Her room is covered with posters of all kinds of animals and the only thing she wants - more than anything else - is to have a pet all her own. Unfortunately...Mom says 'no' to pets. Not because she doesn't like them, but because she feels Sofia is not yet up for the responsibility of owning a pet. What does that mean? That means Sofia is going to work hard to prove to her mom that she can be the best pet owner out there.

One day, fate comes into play when a cat appears outside her window. The sorry-looking feline was struggling in the cold, hard rain, and Sofia wants to help him out. Sure enough, after some interesting twists, Sofia takes a trip down the responsibility path, using the help and learning the skills of a real veterinarian. She educates herself on all types of things that a person needs in order to be a good animal doctor later in life, and the tale is one of kindness, hard work, and real love.

Yet again, Wigu Publishing has made sure to cover all bases in order to intrigue and delight their readers. The intricate research is offered up in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand way so that all young people who want to learn about this career focusing on the protection and love of animals will be thrilled.

Quill says: These books definitely spark a child's mind, opening up the imagination and giving kids a chance to take an in-depth look at the amazing careers they could one day have.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Review - Days of Future Past

Days of Future Past

By: Sally Smith O’Rourke
Publisher: Victorian Essence Press
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-1-8914-3706-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Date: December 20, 2014

Ann Hart has one of those dream romantic lives that all women wish for on the stars. Although there is one regret in her past, one painful remembrance, she journeyed on from that moment in her life to marry her husband, Alex, and live in what could only be seen as a ‘fairytale’ home; a bungalow that spoke of nature, beauty and peace. However, as with any love story, there is darkness and suspense waiting right around the corner. And in this case, for readers, that thrilling and captivating ‘unknown’ begins in seconds.

Alex was a warm, kind man who wanted to help people. Unfortunately, that kindness brought him a shortened life, leaving Ann to live in their bungalow alone and do her best to go on. A normalcy for Southern California, an earthquake, hits and scares many; yet instead of being a blisteringly painful moment in Ann or any of her family’s lives, the quake turns out to be a door that opens into the past.

Ted McConaughy is a trauma specialist, and because of this earthquake, he and Ann Hart run directly into one another…again. You see, Ted is the one regret that Ann has. She and Ted were once extremely happy together; to the point that they were even ready to walk down the aisle, when something Ted did led to their relationship breaking apart. But now, after all these years, Ted is far worse off than ever. In fact, he is spouting words that only a person from the 19th century would say; not to mention, speaking in a Scottish brogue that he does not usually own. This is where the past meets the present, and Ann and Ted find out that the present-day may not be the only time they have ever fallen in love.

This author does an amazing job of interweaving the beauty of another day and age with the harsh modern world. This is not a surprise, as this author has written works that mirror the life and times, the love and passion, of a Jane Austen realm. As readers become attached – quite quickly, in fact – to the main characters, they will find themselves drawn into a journey that they will never forget. Not only will mystery lovers be pleased, but the romantic and mystical, even supernatural fans out there, will be over the moon for this one.

Quill says: From the intriguing dialogue to the expansive plot that wraps around a truly unforgettable couple, this book has it all!

For more information on Days of Future Past, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Today is the LAST Day!

Today is the last day to nominate your book for a Feathered Quill Book Award!  We expanded our categories this year to include 'Best Debut Author,' and 'Best Seasonal.'

 With a total of 22 categories, there's a nice selection of genres to fit most books.  Our nomination fee is low AND it's only an additional $35 to nominate your book for a second and third category.

Nominate your book today!  If you win, you'll discover just what an award seal on your book can do to increase sales!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Last Chance to Nominate YOUR Book

Nominations close Monday - don't wait!  If you're looking to increase sales of your book, consider the importance of adding an award seal to its cover.  Readers/buyers look for award-winning books.  They know that a book that has won an award is a quality book.  Learn how to nominate your book here:

Book Review - Stork's Landing

Stork's Landing

By: Tami Lehman-Wilzig
Illustrated by: Anna Shuttlewood
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publisher
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-1467713962
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 14, 2014

Maya is enjoying a lovely spring day on the kibbutz when she looks up and sees a flock of beautiful white storks fly through the sky. Knowing that the birds like to rest at the kibbutz, Maya realizes that the fish farmers may have covered the nearby ponds with nets to protect the fish from the hungry birds. But when one of the storks lands and gets caught in one of the nets, Maya has to act quickly to save the bird's life.

Maya knows just what to do when she sees the stork struggling in the fisherman's net. Unfortunately, it looks like the bird's wing is broken. Maya pulls out her walkie-talkie and calls her father. When Abba, her father, arrives he gently picks up the bird and decides the vet must be called. Unfortunately, the bird's broken wing can't be fixed. What will happen to the beautiful stork?

Stork's Landing is an engaging story about a young girl and her efforts to help a wild stork. In addition to learning about the wildlife in Israel, children will also learn about life on a kibbutz and how everybody chips in to help each other. Through Maya, young readers will see the importance of caring for all animals.

Quill says: A sweet story about a young girl who cares for a hurt bird, along with the help of her father and other members of their kibbutz.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review - Latke, The Lucky Dog

Latke, The Lucky Dog

By: Ellen Fischer
Illustrated by: Tiphanie Beeke
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0761390398
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 12, 2014

Latke really is one very lucky dog! Saved from a shelter by a loving family, he’s brought into their lives and truly enjoys his new home. Unfortunately, he enjoys it a little too much and after getting in more trouble than one dog should, he’s afraid his family might return him to the shelter.

As the story opens, Zoe, her brother Zach, and their parents have gone to the animal shelter to find the perfect dog. After looking at many dogs, they settle on a medium-sized dog with a beautiful golden brown color – the color of fried latkes! Yum! And that’s how Latke got his name.

Latke quickly settles into his new house and as his family celebrates the eight days of Hanukkah, he finds so many neat things to taste. One day he eats all the sufganiyot, another day he chews Zoe’s dreidel and then he discovers some latkes… yum! Will Latke have to go back to the shelter?

Told from Latke's point of view, this is a very sweet Hanukkah story that brings home the message of love and forgiveness. With each transgression, Latke thinks he will get punished and perhaps be returned to the shelter. But with each mistake, Latke learns a lesson – he is loved. While one of the children might be upset, the other comes to the dog’s rescue and explains that Hanukkah isn’t ruined. At the end, Latke gets his own special chew toy and the family enjoys the Festival of Lights together.

Quill says: A story of love, forgiveness, and the joy of Hanukkah. Latke really is one lucky dog!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Books In For Review

Here's a quick look at some of the books that have just arrived for review.  Check them out!  Reviews will be posted here and to our main site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, shortly.

Days of Future Past by Sally Smith O'Rourke It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think of as our present existence, as a dream. Edgar Allen Poe Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. And the 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together. In search of her cell phone after the tremor, Ann picks up a shard of vintage cut glass from a collection she and her husband gathered during the four years of their marriage. For the millionth time she thinks about the day six years ago when he disappeared on a search and rescue mission in the Sierra foothills. Sitting atop the shattered crystal, a small silver cigar lighter glistens in the beam of her flashlight. Gently she returns the Victorian piece to the shelf. What does it mean that something she and Ted, her ex-fiancé, bought together survived when Alex’s beautiful glass is smashed to dust? Ann tells herself that it doesn’t mean anything more than glass breaks and silver doesn’t. Sara Jane McConaughy has never experienced a strong earthquake, and as her father comforts his 16-year-old daughter, his mind is flooded with memories of the Northridge quake in 1994. He was living with his fiancée, his ex-fiancée, and even after all these years he doesn’t know what caused the split, but he always loved her. And he’d been sure she loved him. Volunteering with the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the earthquake brings Ann and Ted face-to-face for the first time since their break-up, twenty years ago. Angry, flustered, excited, and bewildered by Ted’s sudden appearance and unusual behavior while she’s teaching a small group of people relaxing exercises, Ann demands he leave. Just as excited and bewildered, Ted rushes away. His exit leaves both of them wondering about … everything. The earthquake (or is it seeing Ann?) ignites a series of recurring dreams peopled by total strangers in places Ted has never been. Accompanied by short lapses of time and sleepwalking, the dreams take a heavy toll on his waking hours. Sara Jane’s concern sends Ted on a quest to discover the cause and find a cure. When all medical possibilities are exhausted, he turns to a colleague, whose diagnosis leaves Ted more baffled than ever. Tom Alderman believes that the dreams are memories of past lives. The lives live in his subconscious, and the cure is hypnotherapy. After several months of suffering with these increasingly emotional recurring dreams, Ted turns to Ann for help. One of Ann’s specialties is hypnotherapy and since he must be able to trust the hypnotist, Ann is his only salvation. Ann’s agreement to try and help (at the urging of a mutual friend) sends her carefully regimented and calm life into complete turmoil. The garden gate they pass through together sends them on a journey that defies time and reason, forcing them to rethink their past, present, and future. Now, each must reconsider their capacity for love and forgiveness. Things are not always what they seem.

Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy—the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes...a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten. Now a crime reporter for one of the city’s largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city’s most highly regarded—and by all accounts, legitimate—medium, who dies mid-séance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.  

High Stakes: A Jack Doyle Mystery by John McEvoy Irreverent Jack Doyle has worn many hats, one or two blown off by his irrepressible temper. A former boxer, advertising rep, and publicity man, Jack’s midlife career has been shaped by the world of thoroughbred horse racing and dark deeds therein. So it’s no surprise when two FBI agents he’s sleuthed with before pressure him to identify an animal activist who is carrying out “mercy killings” of retired race horses donated to Midwestern university veterinary schools. Plus two Chicago senior citizens are being threatened by an imperious Internet millionaire intent on owning their beloved horse. Then a call comes from Ireland where the life of Jack’s friend Niall Hanratty, the noted bookmaker, is under attack from an unknown enemy. Meanwhile Doyle’s nemesis Harvey Rexroth, the rapacious media mogul Jack helped put into federal prison, enlists a fellow inmate, a Mobconnected attorney, to have Jack killed. Carrying out this contract will be W. D. Wiems, a brilliant, frighteningly warped University of Kansas student who has eagerly launched a career of murder for hire. Fast tracking, Jack visits vet schools while juggling pieces of investigations near home and traveling twice to Ireland where his quest to find Hanratty’s enemy takes him to Kinsale, Connemara, and a Dublin slum. Meanwhile the vicious contract killer is, all unknown, tracking Jack…

Book Review - Sammy Spider's First Mitzvah

Sammy Spider’s First Mitzvah (Kar-Ben Favorites)

By: Sylvia A. Rouss
Illustrated by: Katherine Janus Kahn
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-1467719483
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 6, 2014

Sammy Spider looked down at Josh who was lying on the couch in his pjs. “A-c-ch-o-o-oo-o-oo!” Even Josh’s teddy bear heard that sneeze. There was definitely something wrong with Josh and Sammy asked his mother what was wrong. “He caught a cold,” Mrs. Spider told him. Mrs. Shapiro had a spoonful of medicine for Josh, and Sammy wanted some too. “Silly little Sammy. Spiders don’t take medicine,” his mother declared, “Spiders spin webs!”

Moti, Josh’s new neighbor, soon arrived with a big pot of chicken soup for Josh. It was sure to help him get better. Mrs. Spider told Sammy that “When someone is sick, it is a mitzvah to visit them.” The sneezes kept coming and Moti exclaimed “Labruit.” Of course that was the “Hebrew word you say when someone sneezes.” Bringing that soup was Moti’s mitzvah for Josh, but was there anything that Sammy could do for his own mitzvah? He began to think as he spun a web.

This is yet another Sammy Spider tale that young children will love. I’ve read many Sammy Spider tales and this one is a perfect one to introduce the bikkur cholim. Even the youngest children can visit someone who is ill or send a card and will learn just how important this is from Sammy. The ever-popular Sammy, along with Mrs. Spider, impart a lot of Jewish traditions. The artwork is the typical Sammy Spider, a mix of collage and gouache, that has simple appeal. In the back of the book is a brief paragraph describing bikkur cholim and the mitzvah.

Quill says: Young children will learn from Sammy an easy way to perform a mitzvah!

We're Excited to Announce...

Feathered Quill Book Reviews is excited to announce that Charline Ratcliff has joined our review team.  Charline comes to Feathered Quill with many years of experience as a reviewer for other sites, as well as her blog, .  Charline is also the author of several books, in both the adult and children's genres.  Here's her official bio from our site:

Charline Ratcliff has an unusual educational background in that her parents removed her from school near the completion of sixth grade. While her parents had no interest in furthering her education, she on the other hand did. Charline has always loved to learn and thus, shortly after turning twelve, she began her solo literary journey of learning. By age sixteen, Charline had traveled and/or lived in every state except Alaska, and she has also traveled through a good portion of Europe. 

Charline would tell you that she fell into writing by accident – that it wasn't until her first book, The Curse of Nefertiti, was actually published when she realized that she wanted to be a writer. Shortly thereafter, during the course of securing reviews for her own book, she noticed that there was a huge need for book reviewers. Having a sincere desire to help others, and understanding the importance of an impartial review, Charline began reviewing in early 2010. 

Nowadays, Charline divides her time between writing adult historical fiction, children’s books, online articles, reviews and interviewing other authors. When she’s not writing, she works on her line of all-natural soy candles and of course travels – making certain to enjoy the beauty of the world around her.

Time is Running Out!

Time is running out to nominate YOUR book! Nominations close next Monday, Dec. 15th. Learn more at:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Interview with Author Rose Miller

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Rose Miller, author of Little Miss Muffitt: Guardian of My Heart: A Tribute to All Those Special Dogs Who Capture Our Hearts and Stay Forever

FQ: You’ve written two books about equines. What made you decide to write a book about dogs?

MILLER: Well, the advice is to write about what you know, and my life is full of animals, so my books concentrate on them. I really love these dog stories; they are timeless and could be written by many other dog lovers about their own pets. I usually work on several books at a time, because I try to write about animal things as they happen so I don’t forget. Finally, the dog book got finished and published.

FQ: You developed an interesting way of selecting new puppies, by sitting with them and watching their interactions and how they related to you. Would you share with our readers a little of your philosophy about picking a new best friend?

MILLER: I believe the animals in our lives should have a choice to be a part of it, if possible. It isn’t always possible, and not all of mine have been “chosen” that way, but it is a real thrill when a dog or puppy decides “you are the one.” My favorite way is to sit quietly and observe what happens. I also write about adopting a little poodle from the humane shelter by observing him in his little pen while sitting outside while a friend played with one she eventually adopted. He definitely called me, and I heard him!

FQ: I’m a horse show person too and while tempted, I’ve never brought a dog/puppy home from a show. Did your husband Hal eventually get used to seeing new dogs when you returned from a show?

MILLER: I think my dear husband was more resigned than anything else, but he is a real trooper, even to this day. As I meet other ladies who are really into fostering and adopting needy dogs, I hear the same refrain, “My husband threatens divorce each time I bring home a new animal.” Most are joking as their husbands are actually supportive too. Hal, however, never even in jest said that. He knew his wife, and knew that animals are as much a part of my life as breathing.

FQ: I found the ‘BARF’ diet interesting. Would you discuss this a bit?

MILLER: The very first thing about feeding BARF, or raw foods to dogs, is that it is controversial. It is like being a Republican or Democrat. There is no middle ground, apparently. You either love it or think it will kill your dog. We got started doing it sort of on a whim, after talking to a Doberman breeder in Indiana who used it. Her dogs were beauties and I am a health food “nut” for people and my animals. Husband Hal was a chiropractor (now retired), and good diet and nutritional supplements are second nature to me, so it was only natural that I would investigate the BARF diet. It just made sense. Dogs need meat. Fortunately for us, we had a large wholesale meat market available and chicken backs are the mainstay because the young chickens are tender and bones more flexible. (NEVER feed cooked, bones become sharp and brittle) It also is relatively inexpensive compared to other meats. However, other meats or supplements must also be fed. Feeding raw isn’t cheap, or particularly easy if you do it right. I think the reason BARF gets a bad rap is that folks don’t do it correctly. Much can be found on the internet about this diet, so I won’t say more here, but as I write in the book, we did see a very wonderful effect in one of our dogs. Almost a miracle. Don’t want to spoil the story for readers, but our Giant Schnauzer ended up with a hip problem similar to hip dysplasia when she was around four months old. After eating the young chicken backs with the raw cartilage, she responded better than she had on medication and many, many supplements, even with cartilage supplements. The raw natural substance was a miracle worker with Lady Blue. To this day, we still feed raw, and Blue is now nearly 11 years old (and just had a nearly perfect annual vet check up). As she is aging, her hips give more problems, but considering what happened to her, and how she is now, we are more than happy with feeding raw foods. We just got a 2 year old Doberman male, and after hearing that we would feed raw, the gentleman almost had apoplexy, said we would ruin him, and that NO vets he had talked to approved of raw. Just goes to show...

One can purchase already prepared raw dog food. It includes the vegetables, fruits and various red meats. Because we have big dogs and that would be very expensive for us, we did our own.

Author painting of her beloved Little Miss Muffitt

FQ: Related to the best diet for dogs – all natural, grain-free diets are all the rage now. Some of the well-known brands are very expensive. What would you suggest dog lovers do to be sure their pet is getting the best? Make their own or ?

MILLER: I admit feeding raw foods is more time consuming that dumping kibble in a bowl! Sometimes I just think I cannot look at another glob of frozen chicken backs. To be safe, we cut them in half now that Blue is older, to be sure she can chew safely, and it can be yucky. When we got Jac, the Doberman, he was in a breeding facility; they were shutting down because of health reasons, and wanted a nice family home for him. I had been looking for a puppy, but found Jac instead, so wanting to do a nice thing, took him. These folks had developed their own brand of dog food, and I admit, all the dogs looked wonderful. So, thinking I would keep Jac on his food, I bought 2 large bags. Life would be easier in my “older age.” Well, Jac had horrible gas and he now got to sleep in the bedroom, so something had to change. As a treat to Lady Blue, we had been giving her a small portion of very expensive Bison/Sweet potato dry kibble in the morning, raw food at night. We switched Jac to the same program and the gas was gone. He is a big boy and eats a LOT. So I admit, we are no longer “pure.” I think that isn’t a bad thing. They get the best of both. The dry kibble is, as you say, very expensive as it is a meat product. I have a friend whose four dogs are their family. She had fostered about 40 dogs in her past, and she cooks food for them every day. It is meat and vegetables, but cooked. She is a vegetarian! So there are many ways to feed dogs correctly. I would definitely stay away from the cheaper mainly grain diets, which have been proven to be detrimental. However, a dog that is starving, alone and afraid, would love to be pampered with less than perfect dog food. So do what you must, and save and love as many dogs (and cats) as you can!

FQ: Some of your early dogs didn’t fit into your lifestyle/farm and you were forced to find them new homes. I found your honesty in discussing these episodes refreshing. Some people say you should never give up on a dog, but yet, your dogs found great homes. What would you advise somebody who just can’t make it work with their present dog?

MILLER: This is a question near and dear to my heart. As I wrote, I did find some dogs didn’t work for me. I never took one to the shelter, but did find other homes. What doesn’t work for one, could work for another. I also write about this in my mule book: Mules, Mules and More Mules. The deal here was that I had horses for nearly 40 years, and when I retired from showing, I wanted a safe, trained mule for trail riding. It took me several buys and re-sales to find the right two that I still have. That made a good book, but again, what didn’t work for me did for others. One mule, Samson, was very big and beautiful, my first gaited (didn’t trot) mule. We had a lovely year together before Samson decided he should run the horse farm and that included me. First I gave him to my son to ride, and that sort of worked, but I still had to feed/turnout etc. It was obvious he was going to hurt me someday. In all good conscience, I couldn’t sell him to another unsuspecting person, and I had paid a LOT of money for him. I ended up selling him back to the person who had trained him as a young mule and had later sold him. She and her family never had any problems with him. And, yes I lost a ton of money...

The dogs were the same way. One went on to become a famous cow dog in Texas but for me she chased my horses dangerously. She was bred to chase. I didn’t need that talent, or know what to do with it. I think more problems, grey hair and mental breakdowns can happen to both animal or human if you think you have to conquer every problem. But, find a home or foster group for the animal yourself, do not relinquish to a shelter. That is my motto.

Author Rose Miller with one of her mules

FQ: There are several times in your book where you mention seeking the wisdom of an animal communicator. People have very strong opinions about animal communicators, both pro and con. Is there something you can point to that led you to believe in them? What would you say to somebody who doubts their validity?

MILLER: First I would suggest they read all three of my books, as I tell stories of communication with my animals. Second, it again is black and white in some folk’s minds. They are not open to a higher level of love and communication. I have learned not to try and change their minds. I also have found that is usually the men who don’t believe it. I first got hooked on it with a young colt I was trying to teach to lead. I simply couldn’t get him to follow along beside his mom with me “leading” him with a rope which should be easy. He fought, backed up, fell over and it was ugly. I was in tears. Now by this time in my life, I had taught numerous baby horses to lead, indeed had shown some. This colt was my pride and joy, sired by my new stallion, and out of a super mare. A year or so earlier I had been told about a lady who talked to the animals over the phone. She didn’t need to see or touch them. She was psychic. I am open to most things, and fascinated by things intuitive. I called Mary the next day. We talked to the little colt, she explained to him what I wanted, gave him the feeling of being led. The next day, with great excitement, but apprehension, I put the halter on his little head, attached the lead rope and simply led him out of the stall without his mother! I was hooked forever. Over years of chatting with Mary (my favorite communicator) I discovered talking to the animals is like talking to children. Sometimes they are very communicative, helpful and willing to cooperate, sometimes not, but I still love it and work at communicating with my animals myself. I am getting better, but I am not as good as Mary.

FQ: Proceeds of your books go to various animal support groups. Would you tell our readers a little about a few of those groups?

MILLER: There are a few that are close to my heart. One is in Elkhart, Indiana, The Second Chance Small Dog Rescue. I adopted a Miniature Schnauzer from them after my special dog, Muffitt passed on. Now that we have moved to Arizona, I have found 3 that I am currently supporting. One is United Animal Friends: which is again a foster/adopt group. I cannot say enough about these dedicated folks who take in the unloved, change their lives and hopefully find new wonderful homes. They do the most challenging training, finding out if they will like cats/other dogs. Some are medically challenging and hard to find homes for. Many times these volunteers keep them. Another is a horse rescue in Snowflake Arizona, Equine Well Being: It is a “Mom and Pop” rescue. They do all the work. And another is run by a friend of mine. Her husband was one of the 19 Arizona Hotshots who died in an AZ wildfire last year. Saving horses from a feed lot where they would then go to slaughter in Canada, has “saved her life” she says. All of these are run by small groups or individuals. I also support the National Anti Vivisection Society (NAVS) which fights to get animal testing outlawed and find homes for animals thus used. They do a lot of good things small groups cannot do.

FQ: Any advice for our readers who may wish to donate to an animal group? What are some of the ways to find a good, reputable organization?

MILLER: As you can see from the above statements, I love to support small groups of people that are in my own town or state. I do feel that money donated in this manner is best spent for the animals. Perhaps one exception that I know of might be “Best Friends” in Utah. Their motto is: “Save them all.” And they work hard to do so and have outreach help throughout our country. Many local pet stores support local foster/adopt groups, and you can donate time, money, and kind words to the groups at that time. The local animal shelters appreciate dog walkers. You should check them out, meet some of the foster parents and see for yourself the need. It will make you want to donate more and maybe even foster! Veterinarian clinics can make suggestions as to good ones, or those needing the most donations. When I met up with a representative of UAF to do a book signing (where all my profits were donated to UAF) she told me many local groomers donate time to make the fostered dogs presentable for adoptions. It makes my heart swell with gratitude for all these charitable people. The dedication to Little Miss Muffitt says it all:
This book is dedicated to the many men and women who tirelessly, unselfishly and devotedly work to make this world a better place for all animals. I am honored to count many of you as friends.

To learn more about Little Miss Muffitt: Guardian of My Heart: A Tribute to All Those Special Dogs Who Capture Our Hearts and Stay Forever please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Book Review - Death Takes A Mistress

Death Takes A Mistress: A Dan & Rivka Sherman Mystery

By: Rosemary and Larry Mild
Illustrated By: Marilyn Drea
Publisher: Magic Island Literary Works
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9838597-5-8
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: December 6, 2014

After twenty-three years of living in England without a biological parent, Ivy Cohen has still not given up on finding the man who murdered her mother all those years ago. In addition, there is a possibility that the man who murdered her mother is also her father. Ivy does know from her mother’s diary entries that she was involved in an affair with a married man and when that affair ended the alleged killer fled to Annapolis, Maryland to engage in a new family business. With not much more than a picture of her mother and entries in a diary Ivy still feels a tie to the parent she was never able to know or talk to. Even after growing up with two loving people who stood in as Ivy’s parents she is determined to travel to Maryland from England to find the answers she has been seeking all of her life.

When Ivy finally arrives in Maryland her plan is to make it her permanent home. She finds a job at a local bookstore where the owners, Dan and Rivka Sherman, are sympathetic to her search and agree to help in any way they can. With a few calls to Scotland Yard Dan is able to get a full copy of the diary of Ivy’s mother and the hunt for clues begins. They soon discover that there are many people who could be the murderer when they finally find the family that the murderer is a part of. With the small size of Annapolis, it is easy for Ivy to talk with and get close to this particular family and she quickly gets to work inquiring and waiting for details that could help lead to the murderer. However, it does not take long before Ivy realizes that this quest for justice could be much more dangerous than she thought but she is determined to continue the search for answers no matter the consequences.

Going back into the past and describing the original murder that became a cold case was intriguing
and I was hooked early on when starting this book as the first few chapters were filled with suspense. However, I did feel that after the initial suspense it took a little while for the story to get going again as Ivy was trying to figure out the potential suspects. Towards the end of the book the excitement did pick back up and I was reading as fast as I could just to find out who the true murderer was. This is when I really appreciated the writing of Rosemary and Larry Mild as they had me easily thinking that I knew who the culprit was and then suddenly out of nowhere new information was given to the reader that turned everything upside down. When I’m reading a mystery I love when authors are able to do that with their writing and throw something at me that I was not expecting.

Quill says: This is an intriguing mystery that starts and ends with appealing and exciting suspense.

Book Review - Goldie Takes a Stand

Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade (Kar-Ben Favorites)

By: Barbara Krasner
Illustrated by: Keley Garrity-Riley
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-1467712019
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2014

Goldie Mabowehz was a nine-year-old girl who was the president of the “American Young Sisters Society.” Of course being self-appointed worked very well for Goldie. Very well indeed and all the other girls clustered around her would probably agree, including her little sister Clara and her best friend Regina. There were problems to be solved and Goldie was just the girl to get things done. The problem was textbooks. “The kids in our school didn’t have enough money to buy them,” she explained to the Sisters.

Many of the kids like Hymie had tattered books and that annoying Jennie leaned over her desk to peek at Frieda’s. Goldie figured out the math and if all the members could bring in a whole “three cents a week,” that would do it. Now that was enough to buy either a loaf of bread or a quart of milk so that was a lot! Goldie was going to work in Mama’s store to get her share and would charge everyone a little extra. Mrs. Garfinkel was not very happy when Goldie asked extra for those eggs. Stomp, stomp! Out the door she went. Not a penny more from her.

Things weren’t looking up for the American Young Sisters Society because no one managed to raise that three cents. Goldie put her pointer finger to her chin and began to think. “We’ll hold a public meeting, a fundraising gala,” she told the girls, “and collect from everyone at one time.” They began to make posters, Frieda was going to do the invitations, and Lillian would create a “list of important people.” Sarah was wondering just where the big event could be held. Goldie was a big thinker, but could she think big enough to get those textbooks?

This is a charming story about Goldie that will delight young readers. Of course Goldie Mabowehz is none other than Golda Meir. Even as a young girl she had great leadership qualities. This fictionalized tale, based on real events, had a great flow and will draw in even the most reluctant readers. Goldie’s generosity and empathy toward others will resonate with the young reader. The artwork, a mix of gouache and collage, had a nice period feel. In the back of the book is a brief vignette about Goldie’s life, including pictures, a bibliography, and additional recommended websites to explore.

Quill says: This is a wonderful look at young Goldie (Golda Meir), a girl who knew how to get things done!

Book Review - Mr. Samuel's Penny

Mr. Samuel's Penny: An Elizabeth Parrot Landers Mystery

By: Treva Hall Melvin
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Publication Date: November 2014
ISBN: 9781929345045
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 9, 2014

Treva Hall Melvin spins a delightful tale through the eyes and adventures of fourteen-year-old Elizabeth ('Lizbeth) Landers one particular summer in the sleepy, southern town of Ahoskie, North Carolina.

It is the summer of 1972 and just like the summer before and the one before that, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth ('Lizbeth) Landers and her younger sister, Lena, have arrived to spend it with their Auntie Alice and Uncle Frank. Nothing much ever happens in Ahoskie that would cause reason to raise one's eyebrows. This is, until Joseph Samuel drives his car off the bridge and into the Ahoskie River; with his baby girl, Emma, in the back seat...

'Lizbeth is a precocious fourteen-year-old New York city girl. When her family moved to the City, they determined Ahoskie and the southern comforts of Auntie Alice and Uncle Frank was a more befitting setting for 'Lizbeth and her sister Lena to wile away the long and lazy days of summer. 'Lizbeth has an interesting hobby. She collects pennies - not just any pennies, but wheat pennies. The coveted and grand master of them all is the rare 1909 Lincoln wheat penny and it just so happens that when Samuel's lifeless body is raised from the churning waters of the river, he is clutching such a rarity. Samuel has left a trail of unanswered questions in his passing: Was the 'accident' really an accident? What will become of his beloved wife, Violet? What about his lumber yard business? Will his brother Benjamin carry on the legacy? Then there's cantankerous "Ms. McMeanie" - like a dog with a bone and the 'bone' is the lumber yard business she's convinced should be hers. Indeed, the summer of '72 would be anything but sleepy for 'Lizbeth Landers now that she has a mystery to solve.

Treva Hall Melvin has done a marvelous job in writing a murder mystery for young adults. While the story is not limited to the YA mystery genre, the overall story appeals to this particular audience. Her main character, Elizabeth ('Lizbeth) Landers is charismatic as much as she is a teenager in the throes of her teen 'wonder years.' Melvin assigns just enough sass to her young protagonist to keep the story moving forward. She isn't disrespectful, but Melvin is sure to write passage upon passage of nuance toward the age-old theory of: '...seeking forgiveness is certainly easier than asking for permission.' Ms. Melvin has developed a uniqueness to each character and adeptly blends them as a community of personalities that work well together. 'Lizbeth's dialogue is spot-on in that the reader can easily connect with the many 'growing pains' of a fourteen-year-old girl. This is a terrific 'chapter book' for pre-teen and young adults. It has a solid plot, engaging conversation and a tempo that flows from beginning to end. Well done Ms. Martin. I look forward to your next book.

Quill says: The whereabouts of Mr. Samuel's Penny is a mystery that will keep you turning the pages until you find out what has become of it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Review - Little Miss Muffitt

Little Miss Muffitt: Guardian of My Heart: A Tribute to All Those Special Dogs Who Capture Our Hearts and Stay Forever

By: Rose Miller
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1457531149
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 3, 2014

Dobermans! Lots and lots of Dobermans. Add in several German Shepherds, a couple of Giant Schnauzers, some cow dogs of various abilities and one very special Miniature Schnauzer and you have the makings for a wonderful dog memoir that will have all animal lovers glued to the pages.

Rose Miller, who has already authored two animal books about her other favorite four-legged friends (mules and Tennessee Walking Horses), pours all her energy and love into this memoir about the dogs who have shared their hearts with her. After giving the reader a brief overview of her early life so that we can understand her underlying love of dogs, Miller jumps right into her story by recounting her early attempts at dog ownership. One of her first dogs was Thunder, a Collie/German Shepherd cross who was trained by Miller to help bring in their farm’s cows at milking time. While Thunder loved running cows, this was a major ‘no-no’ for farmers who needed their dairy herds to be kept calm so as not to ‘drop their milk.’ Thunder’s boundless energy also came to blows with the farm’s pet peacock Peep.

Miller found herself finding a more suitable home for her dog and then began a search for a new dog. She settled on an Australian Blue Heeler, a breed known for their cow sense. Unfortunately, Heather, the new dog, needed to be kept busy all the time and her high energy level was getting her into trouble. Heather soon found herself at a new home with a rancher who knew just how to put all that pent-up energy to use.

Finding herself once again without a dog, Miller knew she had to carefully select an animal of just the right breed and temperament to fit into her farm’s lifestyle. Dobermans were recommended to her by a horse friend and after researching the breed, she began to look for the perfect dog. Miller's search led her to Falcon, a young male who easily settled in at the Millers' home. This handsome dog was soon joined by Quazar, a beautiful female Dobie. So begins the author’s love affair with this noble breed.

We meet the star of the book, Muffitt, several chapters into the story. At the time, Miller was looking for another Doberman to replace one who had just passed, but was disappointed to find no ads from local breeders for Doberman puppies. There was, however, an ad for a litter of Miniature Schnauzer puppies that grabbed her curiosity. Soon a little opinionated bundle of love named Muffitt entered Miller’s life and stole her heart forever.

The bulk of Little Miss Muffitt centers around the exploits of the title character, who, along with other canine friends, helps run the farm. We also meet several German Shepherds through the author’s daughter Michal, who is a K9 police officer. Several of the author’s family members make frequent appearances with their canine companions (I have to say Miller has the MOST understanding husband!). Along with the laughter and joy, the reader will share the author’s sorrow when it’s time for an elderly or ill dog to gently pass into the next life.

Having previously enjoyed the author’s book The Horse That Wouldn't Trot, I knew I was already a fan of her easy-going writing style. Little Miss Muffitt has that same comfortable, fun style that resembles one friend telling another about her pets. The distinct personalities of each dog comes through loud and clear in this book, which makes it all the more enjoyable. In addition, Miller isn’t shy about discussing her initial failures at selecting dogs and these pages can certainly help a new dog owner choose their first pet. She also shares how she learned to select just the right puppies and stories about police dogs who risk their lives every day. At 234 pages, it’s not a fast read lengthwise, but I nonetheless found it a quick read as I truly enjoyed reading about Muffitt and her friends. Thanks too, Ms. Miller, for donating the proceeds from your books to animal support groups!

Quill says: If you have ever shared your heart with a special canine friend, you will surely enjoy Little Miss Muffitt.

For more information on Little Miss Muffitt, please visit the author's website at: