Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review - Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven: A Sweetland Novel

By: Lacey Baker
Illustrated By: St. Martin’s Press
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-01923-3
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 30, 2014

Moving on and overcoming her past were the two most important things on Heaven Montgomery’s mind as she traveled to a small quaint town in Maryland called Sweetland. She was there to adopt a chocolate lab puppy named Coco thinking what could be a better way of starting over than having a perfect companion with unconditional love, however she finds much more than she bargained for. Preston Cantrell, the current owner of this puppy, is drop dead gorgeous on top of being a smooth talker, so Heaven quickly finds herself pressing down the instant attraction to him. Her only reason for coming here was to adopt a puppy, she keeps reminding herself, but as a couple of days turn into a couple of weeks, Heaven finds herself falling in love with way more than a puppy. Preston, his family, and the wonderful town of Sweetland itself has her feeling that this place may be her new beginning, and hold her future. Unfortunately, when her past threatens to tear her from everything she is coming to love Heaven has to find the courage to fight for the chance to live her life and find her happiness.

Sweetland was where Preston grew up and shared many good memories with his family but he is convinced that this small town could never be a place he would want to settle down. However, after the loss of his grandmother he joins the rest of his siblings in his hometown to come up with a plan on how to keep their family business thriving. Preston knows he owes his family that much but as soon as things are settled he plans to return to his life in Baltimore, that is until a beautiful woman named Heaven Montgomery comes to adopt the puppy he inherited after his grandma’s passing. Suddenly his smooth talking ways and reputation with the ladies are not doing him any good as he desperately tries to learn more about this gorgeous woman who is creeping her way into his heart. There has never been another woman who has made him feel like this and then when her former life becomes a threat Preston knows he will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

When I picked up this book to start reading, I expected a typical romance story but was pleasantly surprised when I received much more. From the beginning it was shown that both Preston and Heaven had experiences in their past they were both trying to overcome and that added to the fun of the story as the reader is clued into both of their secrets. I think it always intriguing for a reader to get the impression they are behind the scenes and feel as if they have an upper hand on the characters, and that’s just want Lacey Baker did with this book. Of course that is what makes reading so enjoyable many times, as the thoughts of each character can be revealed in detail and Baker does a wonderful job of this. In addition to being an appealing romance, this story also held suspenseful elements of a mystery that kept me reading and hoping to find out what happens next.

Quill says: Such a great combination of a compelling romance and thrilling mystery!

Book Review - Baseball's Greatest

Sports Illustrated Baseball's Greatest

By: Editors of Sports Illustrated
Publisher: Sports Illustrated
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-1618930552
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 30, 2014

Sports Illustrated has published some excellent coffee-table type books on various sports, with lists of the greatest, the best and the top ten, for both kids and adults. One of their newest offerings is a book on the best baseball has to offer, whether it be players, managers, or ballparks. This book is more than a coffee-table decoration – it should be read, enjoyed, and argued over! In essence, it’s a fun book to get us all thinking of opening day.

The book is divided into twenty chapters, the majority of which deal with players – a chapter on the best first basemen, another on the best second baseman, and so on, down the line of all the positions. Then it’s on to the best managers, games, franchises, etc., until the very last chapter that looks at the ‘best of the rest’ (uniforms, movies, quotes, and even best Sports Illustrated covers). Each of the ‘best of the rest’ list takes up a mere page, but for the major categories, there’s a full page devoted to each person, park, whatever the list is about, plus typically two pages devoted to the top position. Each page includes a photo of the honoree, what clubs they played for (and the years they were there), a comment from one of the Sports Illustrated panelists who selected the winners, brief career highlights, and a quote pulled from a Sports Illustrated article about that player, manager, park, game, etc.

If you’re looking for a book heavy with statistics, this is not that book. Rather, this is a big (288 pages), heavy (about 5 pounds) hardback, replete with fantastic action shots of our favorite players and ballparks. I agreed with many of the selections but then, found myself at times saying, ‘Nah, not that game,’ or ‘Really? That player?’ But truly, isn’t that the fun with these Best Of books? It’s impossible to come up with lists that everybody will agree with but it’s a great idea to put together a Top Ten and get us all talking. If you love baseball, check out this book!

Quill says: Thankfully, baseball season is just around the corner. Get ready for opening day with a great book on the best of the best and see you in April!

Book Review - Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel

By: Ransom Riggs
Illustrated by: Cassandra Jean
Publisher: Yen Press
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-316-24528-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 28, 2014

For those readers who have not yet been exposed to the absolute beauty, eerie horror, and hauntingly stunning story that is, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, this book is not only an amazing gift, but it will also have one and all running back to the bookstore in order to purchase the ‘original’ book, not to mention the highly-anticipated sequel.

This story by Ransom Riggs shot to the top in what seemed like moments after the book came out on the market. It was so different and so well-written, that a great many readers, authors, publishers - you name it - gasped when they read the words and saw the incredibly odd, haunting pictures that highlighted Riggs’ story.

Miss Peregrine’s was a book that took the world by storm, because the story was beyond inventive. But it also made many believe that oddities which ARE out there in the world may just be true after all. Our own fears, from aliens crashing in Roswell to bilocation to the existence of real angels, demons and ghosts, have always been placed in the category of the ‘supernatural.’ And if any actual evidence or photos are located, they are simply passed off as fake, because it remains easier to deal with them if they’re chalked up as nothing more than a joke. In some ways, Ransom Riggs’ story changed the way people think.

The tale followed Jacob Portman. This boy found himself on somewhat of a mission trying to unravel fact versus fiction in the stories that his grandfather told him regarding his own life during WWII, where he dwelled at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, with some of the most amazing kids imaginable.

Jacob sees pictures of these children - some with supposed ‘gifts’ that Jacob feels could not possibly be real. He sees some things as nothing more than a product of his grandfather’s imagination until…Jacob sees with his own eyes what Miss Peregrine’s is all about.

A book feasted on by readers, is now a graphic novel that is truly a ‘feast’ for the eyes.
Quill says: Do not miss out on entering the peculiar world of Miss Peregrine.

Book Review - Duffy's World

Duffy’s World: Seeing the World Through a Dog’s Eyes

By: Faith McCune
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication Date: December 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61448-719-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 2014

Your canine is your friend, companion, perhaps even a long lost soul that you swear you’ve met in another life. The reason for these honorable traits comes from the fact that dogs are the most honorable and loyal of animals out there, and they give to their owners/friends times of laughter, magic, and even help change our points of view with their non-judgmental attitudes. (Okay...they may judge a cat or two, but those felines can be seriously mean).

A reader falls in love with Duffy in this unique and heartfelt memoir, from the first page. In fact, the story of finding Duffy and how he learned the basics of life, from potty training to cuddling, reminds a dog lover of their first experience when they saw their ‘favorite friend’ who had a way of changing their lives for the better.

Told mostly from Duffy’s point of view, the stories in this book are truly sweet and captivating. Seeing the world through a dog’s eyes can open our own in a big way. Even though we are talking about kind and funny tales...Duffy truly shows us what it’s like to not judge, not yell and scream, and not constantly have to wear down or put down others in order to make oneself feel better.

The homecoming, the first bath, learning to live with the parents who will treat you as a privilege and not a chore - Duffy experiences all these things. He experiences his chew toy, Girl Scout cookies, the love of grandmothers, and meets new friends while also adventuring into day care.

The most difficult part of the journey, of course, is when that feeling comes upon him; a body that is not feeling well combined with a mind that has an idea that age eventually comes upon us all. There is always the day when time stops passing and just...stops, and this is something none of us - not even a magical companion who has more sense and intelligence than most humans will ever know - can stop.

Included in this story are tips for better dog care, from leash training to the right foods to good veterinary care all dogs need throughout life. But, in the end, the best lessons we learn from Duffy are the fact that we should enjoy life to the absolute fullest, make each moment count, and make sure we constantly honor, respect and love the people - and canines - who love us.

Quill says: Humorous, kind, sweet - readers will find it an absolute privilege to meet Duffy!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Interview with Author Christopher Grey

Today we're talking with Christopher Grey, author of Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon

FQ: How long did you research for this book before you started writing?

GREY: There were really three different levels of research that occurred with Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon. Firstly, the details and nature of the secret societies the book explored including Knights Templar, the Freemasons, secret orders of the Catholic Church, the Rosicrucians and Golden Dawn (to name a few) came from research I’ve done over the years beginning in about the mid 90s when I was first introduced to the “masonic conspiracies.” Secondly, the specific conspiracy theories in this book were derived heavily from Pirates and the Lost Templar Fleet by David Hatcher Childress. I was absolutely compelled to bring these fascinating conspiracies to life in a novel. The book went into detail about the identity of Shakespeare, the arrival of Scottish masons to Canada before Columbus, as well as the more exciting scenes surrounding Oak Island and ultimately the Holy Grail’s final resting place in Bermuda. The last layer of research was in location and period. All in all, it took years, but much of the fact-checking occurred after the novel was written in the editing phase. That said, the conspiracies and secret societies discussed in this book are, long term, in the same literary world as my other existing and long-term works so, fortunately, much of the heavy lifting has already been done.

FQ: There can be many different versions of the facts when researching these secret societies and conspiracy theories. How do you decide what to include in your books?

GREY: I think that the word “fact” gets thrown around too much in the world of conspiracy theories. I am, through my fiction, working hard to dispel the hysteria and disinformation enforced by the conspiracy theory community. So, to that end, my focus is on a plausible approach to conspiracies using a realistic depiction of the secret societies. I’ll go so far as to accept secret societies have more control and influence than I believe they actually do, but in the vein of providing context for who they are and why they exist.

Ultimately, my formula for determining what should be included is that it must be plausible (or difficult to disprove) and it must be consistent with the other theories and plot points that I am using. In my fictional world, many secret societies exist above society, but do not necessarily work against society. That is a unique position amidst the conspiracy theory community.

FQ: A few times in this book the conversations are given in foreign languages such as French, are you fluent in these languages?

GREY: It’s interesting to me that so much of my fiction ends up using French. This book, due to its location in Montreal and Nova Scotia, a recent short story about a haunting, and the novel I’m currently working on set in New Orleans all require the use of French. That is one language I am not confident in and had to triple-quadruple check with editors on my use of it. Given the location, it was important French was included and given the content, Latin was required as well. I believe that, especially for American readers, paying honest tribute to languages can add color to a story, but beside that, it would have been odd in Ships of Solomon if Will and Dorothy didn’t run into at least one French-Canadian.

FQ: What was the most enjoyable part of working on this book, the research or the writing of the story?

GREY: For me, it is all about the story. There may be a misconception that by dealing with the topics that I do that I have a hidden agenda—whether it be academic or philosophical—to bring issues or theories to light. I think, for instance, Dan Brown is very much compelled by this. My interest, however, is in telling a good story and I use the large breadth of conspiracy theories out there to find really good ones. In a way, I think it’s cheating—so much is out there, I have to do very little in conceiving the story. My task then is to lay out a narrative, make it interesting and fun, and then end with a punch.

FQ: During your research were you able to gather your information from interviews and written documents, books, etc.?

GREY: Almost all of my research was from books—and from secondary sources. If I were writing academically, or even in the literary genre, there would be value in going deeper than I did. However, since my focus was really at the same depth as a traditional pulp action/adventure, I focused more on the plot and character structures.

Author Christopher Grey

FQ: If you were able to use both types of information, while researching for this book which was more helpful, the interviews or the written documents?

GREY: I did conduct an email dialogue with a master mason, which was very helpful. In the future, I can definitely see the benefit of doing more of this type of research, as it adds authenticity and color to the narrative. Depending upon the novel’s objectives, in my case, to entertain and only secondarily to educate, run-of-the-mill book research was certainly adequate. It also helps to have a first-hand account of the subject matter. I spent a great deal of time looking at maps, reviewing photos and reading travel guides to get a good sense of Montreal and Bermuda, since I’d never been. I’m finding that in my current novel, set in New Orleans—a place I’m rather familiar, it is coming much easier for me, even if it is set in a different time.

FQ: Robert Louis Stevenson was mentioned when Will and Dorothy came upon treasure in one of the caves. Was Treasure Island a book you enjoyed in your childhood?

GREY: I’ve always been a very big reader of speculative fiction and adventure. I was a fan of classic adventures such as Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, and almost anything Mark Twain and Jules Vern wrote. I think, however, I was mostly influenced by Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, and more contemporary stories that wouldn’t have fit as a reference in this novel. Of course, if it isn’t completely obvious, film is a huge influence and I view my work on this novel and future ones as an extension of the Indiana Jones genre, a banner I proudly carry.

FQ: History can be a tough subject to write about as sometimes it is not viewed as very exciting by some. How do you personally go about creating an intriguing story combined with history?

GREY: As my career progresses, it is likely I will be known for being a historical fiction novelist, and generally I’m okay with that. I have always been eagerly fascinated by history and find a tremendous amount of inspiration from it. Few stories can be told better than actual events. Ships of Solomon deals quite a bit with history—the first Europeans to arrive to the New World, the true nature of William Shakespeare, the role of Francis Drake and Francis Bacon in the development of a Utopian ideal that would eventually become the United States of America, etc. It was important for me to address these ideas in a contemporary light, so that it could be relatable to the readers. It was also important to put it in a genre that was easy for a reader to navigate. I chose the post-war period as a setting, because it was consistent with the pulp adventure genre, and also avoided getting lost in the quagmire of advanced technology, complex world politics and falling into the spy genre. In answer to the question, history is an intriguing story, the trick for an author is to find the narrative and run with it.

To learn more about Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Review - Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon

Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon

By: Christopher Grey
Illustrated By: Pacific Coast Creative Publishing
Publisher: Basilicus Press
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9839641-9-3
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 26, 2014

Will Shakespeare knew when he was accepted into the Knights of the Templar that danger could be lurking around every corner but he faced that danger head on and became a dedicated soldier of the secret group. However, nothing could prepare him for the betrayal he faces as men he trusted with his whole being murder all of the masters and commanders who Will had come to respect and look up to.

Will is now the only one left alive and is charged with a most sacred mission, to protect Dorothy Wilkinson no matter what it costs. This task is not an easy one as there are enemies lurking everywhere from other secret brotherhoods that are on their own missions, to back stabbing traitors who can’t see past their own greed. Even without knowing the full extent of why this woman is so important, Will decides he will carry out this mission even at the cost of his life, for everything he has trained for, and believes in, is at stake. Before he knows it, Will realizes that his objective is not only to protect Dorothy but to protect the Holy Grail itself!

It was not uncommon for Dorothy Wilkinson to be sent on business trips to represent her father but it was still surprising that he would send her on an international trip, even if he was becoming ill. Pushing her fears aside, Dorothy does her best to deal with the group of men gathered in a cathedral, of all places, as they ask questions about her father’s property in Bermuda. With every passing moment Dorothy continues to fear that this deal may be something she wants nothing to do with and her fears are justified when gunfire suddenly breaks out and the men she was just talking to fall dead right beside her. Trying desperately not to panic, Dorothy suddenly finds herself fleeing with a man named Will who she hardly knows. At the same time, she can’t help but realize that he is probably her only ally and hope for survival. As Will reveals to her about the Knights of the Templar and the importance of her safety she can’t help but be skeptical, as she has seen nothing but danger since Will dragged her from the cathedral. With each passing danger however, she comes to realize that Will is not in this for greed or personal gain, he is here to protect her and against all odds they become a team with a common purpose, find and protect the Holy Grail.

This is an absolute thrill ride of a book and I enjoyed every page of it! After starting the first chapter I put everything else on hold to finish it and read it in one sitting. The action starts almost instantly as Will and Dorothy are plunged into a dangerous mission that neither one of them completely understands, but they are forced to depend on each other to stay alive. Both characters are brilliant and it was not long before I was completely engaged in their situation. I immensely enjoyed seeing both points of view from each of their eyes as that gave the story a relatable quality. At first I was not sure if this book would hold my attention as I could tell it had elements of history in it and I was hoping I wouldn’t be bombarded with facts and dates. With immense pleasure I realized from the very beginning that this was going to be a thrilling story that brought history to life in a way I have not experienced before. I commend Christopher Grey for combining history with a truly engaging and extremely intriguing story. Not only was I learning facts I had never heard of before but I was caught up in the breathtaking story of impossible missions, hidden treasures, daring escapes, and non-stop action that can only come from an amazing book!

Quill says: This is a wonderfully exciting roller coaster ride of a book, and will have you hanging onto your seat until the end.

For more information on Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, please visit the website:

Book Review - Compass: Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader’s Guide

Compass: Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader’s Guide

By: William F. Brandt, Jr.
Publisher: Winter Vale Press
Publication Date: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9883205-0-5
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 26, 2014

William F. Brandt, Jr. delivers exemplary leadership knowledge and experience in his “Leader’s Guide” toward what it takes to create and develop a sustainable and exceptional organization.

Mr. Brandt enlightens the reader with an informative introduction that explains how to use his "Leader’s Guide." The Universe’s cup truly runneth over with ‘how to’ books on virtually any topic known to man. With such fierce competition, in my opinion, Mr. Brandt not only achieved, but delivered a winning formula in his book. Using American Woodmark (his company) as his model, he establishes credibility and therefore an immediate interest and engagement occurs for his readership. In the first chapter, Mr. Brandt shares his experience of leveraging the buyout of American Woodmark—a company he cofounded in 1980. This former kitchen cabinet division of Boise Cascade grew to substantial financial strength completely independent of Boise Cascade and did so through the guidance of Brandt and his adept team.

There is no ‘candy-coated’ writing in this book. Rather, direct, basic and understandable dialect is used as Brandt describes many high and equally low points of the company’s history. However, he consistently drives the message of the intrinsic importance and constant application of adjustment and engagement necessary for the evolving changes the people within the company must endure in order to soar.

The book’s chapters are broken down into distinct categories, in a logical process, beginning with: The Vision, The Leader, The Processes and Tools, etc. Mr. Brandt builds from one chapter to the next, always incorporating the message of the necessity of not only a quality product, but the strong attributes all team members must own and bring to the table in his or her role within the organization.
What Mr. Brandt’s book did for me was to provide clarity (and certainly hope) along with a sound understanding of how a successful organization should operate. I have been blessed with good health and the fortitude and ability to work in the corporate world for many years. After reading Compass, I have a newfound belief that if more books like this are written (and more importantly, read), perhaps the Fortune 500’s will include in their reporting stats the human contribution to the entire package rather than solely reporting on company profits and lofty bottom lines. I applaud Mr. Brandt for not only endorsing the importance (and reality) of turning a profit as being foundational, but to impart the wisdom often that such end results come from the value, support and super qualities of a committed and cohesive team of people propping it up. Ultimately, the success of any company is the team who delivers such a winning formula. Bravo Mr. Brandt for your precise wisdom and knowledge in not only having such vision, but sharing it with the business world as well.

Quill says: Compass: Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader’s Guide is THE guide for those with a vision toward achieving overall and recognizable greatness for the Company through the engagement and sound abilities of its people.

For more information on Compass: Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader’s Guide, please visit the publisher's website at:

Book Review - Throw in the Trowel

Throw in the Trowel: A Flower Shop Mystery

By: Kate Collins
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0451415509
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 27, 2014

Abby Knight only had one worry in the world and that was to remember to add the name “Salvare” to the end of hers. Life was good and being married to Marco made it even better. After their honeymoon to Key West, settling down in New Chapel for a lifetime of wedded bliss was perfect. It almost seemed providential to have been clunked out of law school and dumped by Pryce Osborne II (thank goodness!). With their three-legged canine, Seedy, they would make a perfect family. Now if she could only keep Marco’s mother, Francesca, from reorganizing her flower shop, Bloomers, and her mom, Maureen “Mad Mo” Knight from trying to sell her creations there, she’d be all set.

Marco’s only problem concerned plumbing in the basement of Down the Hatch Bar & Grill. Abby and Seedy headed down to check out the latest fiasco. Seedy decided she’d help out the gang by digging up the dirt floor. After all, Stan had already dug up most of it. The real fiasco began when Seedy presented Abby with a little “twig” as a result of her dig. “Marco, that’s not a twig. That’s a finger bone.” Clogged pipes were one thing, but skeletal remains were quite another. It wouldn’t be long before crime reporter Connor MacKay showed up for the scoop and Seedy unearthed yet another clue.

This whole mess was going to make Maureen’s latest creation, “Nutter and child” look good in comparison. Just who was lying in that dank, dark basement? Convincing Marco to take on the case with her wasn’t going to be easy, but doable. Clues were pretty sparse, but there was an “arc-shaped indentation” in that skull, an old key ring to go on, and the mysterious disappearance of Kermit Cannon years ago. Parthenia Pappas, a loose cannon, who had been seeing Kermit and Rusty Miller, who once owned Down the Hatch, were telling taller tales than Marco had ever heard in that bar. New Chapel dirt was being unearthed by the truckload and things were beginning to disappear, including those bones!

Abby Knight Salvare is once again digging up mounds of old dirt and bones. There are great touches of humor in this cozy mystery, but also a good, solid plot. Cousin Jillian is on hand for a few laughs, as usual, but I really liked the layer upon layer of mysterious clues Abby had to unravel. This was as if Discovery ID entered the cozy mystery world and no one was going to find out whodunit until the last minute. Kate Collins was dangling little clues in front of me until I was practically convinced I knew not only who those bones belonged to, but also who clunked that corpse on the noggin with that trowel. Wrong. And then there’s yet a new PI in the making in this one!

Quill says: Everything's coming up roses and bones in this fabulous Flower Shop Mystery!

Book Review - Digger and Daisy Go on a Picnic

Digger and Daisy Go on a Picnic

By: Judy Young
Illustrated by: Dana Sullivan
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-1585368433
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2014

Digger licked his chops as he carried an overflowing picnic basket while he ambled behind his sister, Daisy. Yum! Going on a picnic at Barkenton Park would be lots of things. “Daisy likes to look at things. Digger likes to smell things. And he has a very good nose.” Yes, indeed his nose was very good at smelling those nice big lemons on a tree and the flowers in a garden at the park. Digger leaned way over to stick his nose in the flowers, but bzzzzz, watch out! Daisy warned him by saying “Look out! That bee will sting you!” Bzzzzz, be careful Digger!

Daisy and Digger kept on walking and the next thing Digger's nose smelled was something very tasty. That yummy smell was even better than anything in Digger’s picnic basket. That smell was coming from that little yellow house and it was a pie! “Digger puts his nose in the window,” but watch out because that window is coming down. No pie for nosy Digger. Daisy and Digger kept walking through the park, smelling all kinds of interesting things. They found a hole and Digger’s nose went right on in. When it came back out there was dirt up his nose. Oh, no! Digger couldn’t smell anything at all. What was he going to do?

This is a fun, humorous tale of Digger and his big nose young readers will love. Digger is certainly a curious little brother and his older sister, Daisy, is ultra-patient with him. Like many youngsters, Digger is insatiably curious and loves to explore new things. Fortunately his big sister Daisy keeps an eye out for him. There’s an adorable twist at the end of the book that will make young readers chuckle at Digger. The artwork it bright, colorful, and has that Digger ‘n Daisy spunk I saw in the first book in the series. Digger and Daisy are a brother and sister team that will definitely be a hit series for beginning readers.

Grades K - 1

Quill says: The very youngest readers will love the new sister and brother team, Daisy and Digger, as they are off on their second adventure in the series!

Book Review - Otter Out of Water

Otter Out of Water

By: Kathy-Jo Wargin
Illustrated by: John Bendall-Brunello
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: February 1014
ISBN: 978-1585364312
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2014

The little otter’s eyes widened in surprise as he looked at the sign the ranger had posted. Even the gnarly old roots of the tree looked as if they couldn’t believe it. Nope, all the otters had to stay in that water. Not even so much as a paw could come out. A rule was a rule, but the little otter had other ideas. His tail whirled around as he twisted and turned in the water. Splash! Splash! A little girl and boy with their dog crawled toward the river bank to take a peek at the little otter. “But what if that otter / jumps OUT of the water? / Would you shout hip-hooray? / Would you ask him to play?” Hmmm, just what were they going to do?

Mud began to fly as the children slid through some on their bellies as the little otter looked on. Next they started down the path home and he hopped and bopped and jumped behind them. It sure did look like that little otter wanted to come along. No thanks. They hid in the bushes, but that crafty little guy knew they were there. Surprise! “And what if that otter is right on your heels? / Will you run, will you jog. / will you jump like a frog? / Will he follow you through an old hollow log? What if that otter is right on your heels?” It looked like trouble because when they arrived home he opened the screen door to let himself in. What on earth were they going to do with an otter in the house?

This is an adorable story of an otter out of water that little ones will love. The mischievous little otter, who just didn’t want to follow the ranger’s directive to stay in the water, was a real charmer. The wide-eyed children simply don’t know what to do when that little guy begins to follow him around. There’s a delightful twist at the end that young and old will love. The artwork is lively, whimsical, and is very appealing. This tale, especially if read by someone with an expressive voice, would be perfect for circle or story time. This story in rhyme is fun, full of action, and just the tale for real live mischief makers!

Quill says: This delightful tale of a little otter out of water will make your little ones laugh as he rambles through the pages of this book!

Book Review - Human Views and Equine Behavior

Human Views and Equine Behavior: Self Fulfilling Philosophies and Communicating with Horses

By: Janice Ladendorf
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 9781493542789
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 2014

The book Human Views and Equine Behavior by Janice Ladendorf gives the reader much to think about when communicating with horses. With her chosen discipline of classical dressage and years of working with her own horses, Ladendorf has experienced and observed many of the interesting and intriguing behaviors of equines. Both in wild herds and domesticated horses certain recognizable behaviors have been noticed and studied over the years and with this book those are well described. She gives another look at these unique animals and conveys information that is great for anyone interested in horses to know and that experienced horseman have seen time and time again.

In addition to describing the behaviors of horses, Ladendorf also shows how these behaviors affect training and then continues to show some methods that can be used to gain the most out of a relationship with your horse. Along with extensive descriptions of training techniques there are also diagrams and pictures accompanying the text that help the reader to understand how each technique can work for their particular horse. Different types of equipment are also mentioned to show that there are many alternative solutions to effectively train your horse or work on a problem area.

There were some good points in this book and for the most part I did enjoy reading about each of the techniques and ideas that Ladendorf wrote about. However, I also found many of the chapters to be a little repetitive and caused me to feel as if I was reading the same chapter over again. I understand that when writing a non-fiction book there will be some points that will be repeated but with this particular book I honestly think fewer words would have made the information more interesting for the reader. In regards to the content of the book I was glad to see this author give equal time describing the different views of equine behavior and the options of training techniques. Many times when reading about horses, I get the impression that the author has one way of thinking and that is the only way. To my surprise, most of the writing in this book did not do that and I was glad this author continued to show that there is not just one sure fire way to work and train horses. She successfully conveyed that each horse and situation will be different and each rider/trainer has to make the decision on what they want to achieve with their horse and how they want to reach that goal.

Quill says: Here is a book that gives many views on equine behavior and options of training to achieve the best relationship between horse and rider.

Book Review - Find Momo

Find Momo

Author/Photographer: Andrew Knapp
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59474-678-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 26, 2014

Yes, there is a ‘Waldo’ out there that appears in pictures, and his only reason for being is to see if readers can find out where old ‘Waldo’ is hiding. However, now that Momo has come along - a border collie who is the sweetest creature readers have seen in a long time - ‘Waldo’ will definitely have to take a backseat to the beauty and creativity of this book.

The photographs that Momo plays hide-and-seek in range from exterior landscapes to interiors; the photographs that Andrew Knapp has put together are out of this world. Cityscapes, fields of snow, deserted back roads, football stadiums; some that are so colorful and so full of brightness and light, it will most definitely take you a while to find that border collie. (Thankfully, Mr. Knapp added some hints for the really ‘busy’ photographs so that Momo can eventually be found.)

Not only does this book truly offer honor to our canine friends, which may be just about the most honorable animals in the world, but it also gives readers a look at the beauty that this world still has to offer us. With so many negatives that the news and life emit each and every day, it is a breath of fresh air to have a book like this in hand. Andrew Knapp has made sure to show one and all that our surroundings, family, Mother Nature, and the glorious fun and comfort of a companion like Momo - are all privileges to love and admire.

Momo stories, his travels, his bio and more, are also offered so that the reader gets the full spectrum of enjoyment that this lovely border collie has to offer. Although ‘Waldo’ may be fun, Momo is most definitely the one who will find a place in your heart for a good, long time to come.

Quill says: Unique and stunning. By meeting, traveling and ‘finding’ Momo, you will definitely rejuvenate your spirit!

Book Review - Hollow City

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

By: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59474-612-3
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 26, 2014

This is definitely one of the most highly-anticipated sequels that readers have been salivating over...waiting for the time they could rejoin Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children and see what their next steps would be. For those who are wondering, the vintage photographs are still incredible and unbelievably realistic. They not only bring out the goose bumps, but also scream for the reader to turn on all the lights in the house while reading...just in case the subjects in those peculiar photos come to life.

The first book in this series was immensely popular because of the extreme inventiveness of the writer, Ransom Riggs, and everyone will agree that Riggs delivers yet again with Hollow City.
To catch everyone up, the first book centered around Jacob Portman and the stories his grandfather told him about his own life in WWII, where he grew up in this ‘home of peculiar children.’ Jacob wasn’t sold on any of this, even after seeing the haunting photographs. So when his grandfather passed away, Jacob went on a journey to find out what was real and what was complete fabrication.
Hollow City begins exactly where Book I faded out. Jacob and his ‘peculiar’ companions are on the run from soldiers (which are actually wights); the kids need to get to London fast because that is the place where the cure resides that will transform Miss Peregrine from the bird form she’s stuck in, back to the woman they love and need.

Sinister...evil...all the things that go bump in the night are thrown at the children as they make their way on this very important journey; they even meet some new peculiar children along the way. But humans are not the only things they must bypass; strange animals, a gypsy troupe that may have their own agenda, telepathic characters, shape shifters - this has got it all! And, yes, Emma Bloom - the girl who can make fire with her hands - is also among Jacob’s problems, because he’s trying to figure out his love for her while searching for the hollowgasts that could tear their group apart.

The most amazing thing about this sequel is the fact that the inventive tale, along with the vintage photos, is even better than the first.

Quill says: Miss Peregrine’s realm is full of tension, fear and the unknown; it is a ‘habit’ NO reader will ever want to break.

Book Review - Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella

Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella

Written/Illustrated by: Jan Brett
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: November 2013
ISBN: 978-0399257834
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 26, 2013

Poor, poor Cinders. She’s a little chicken who gets pushed around by the big, ol’ mean Largessa and her two equally pushy daughters Pecky and Bossy. When the little girl Tasha comes to feed them, Cinders barely gets any food. Those old, grumpy, cruel chickens seem to get all the good eats.

One evening, with a storm raging outside the henhouse, Tasha decides to stay with the chickens for the night and soon falls asleep. As soon as the girl is sleeping, a magical glow descends and the chickens begin talking about the prince’s ball. From this point on, the story follows the familiar story of Cinderella, albeit with chickens.

Cinders is, as expected, made to help Largessa and her daughters get ready for the ball. Once those pushy hens leave, Cinders is left alone – she certainly can’t go to a ball with her tattered clothes and frayed feathers. That is until a beautiful Silkie (a very feathery, beautiful type of chicken) comes to Cinders’ aid and, as a fairy ‘godchicken’ of sorts, waves her magic wand and turns Cinders into a dazzling beauty. Her clothes morph into a lovely dress, her feathers now have a silvery sheen, a pumpkin turns into a carriage and an assortment of little creatures become her footmen, coachmen, and horses (not quite horses, but you get the idea). Cinders goes to the ball, meets the prince, dances, must leave quickly and well, we all know the story – it has a happy ending. The story isn’t terribly original, but the chickens are absolutely wonderful.

The tale starts off slowly, with the girl Tasha going to the henhouse. She doesn’t have any important part to play in the story, other than falling asleep in the beginning and befriending Cinders at the end. The story would have read better to have simply been a tale about chickens. Other than that small qualm, however, I truly enjoyed Cinders, particularly the illustrations, which were amazing.

Quill says: The illustrations are the real stars of this book – they are magical. Combined with a well-known story with a twist, the book will likely find a place on a special shelf in your house.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Interview with Catherine Aerie - Author of 'The Dance of the Spirits'

Today we're talking with Catherine Aerie, author of The Dance of the Spirits

FQ: War can be a tough subject to write about, how did you decide what to include when describing the battles, surgeries, and wounded?

AERIE: I wanted to emphasize the varying reactions of the human mind when under the crushing weight of hopelessness, despair, and depression - in this case, that of the barren, hellish, bleak, napalm burnt, and shell scarred terrain that was the Korean Peninsula. In my personal opinion, the various scenes of carnage and violence are there to serve the developments of the characters involved in them.

FQ: The Korean War doesn't get as much attention in novels as other wars (thinking WWII for example). What made you decide to write about this war/time period?

AERIE: In the past, I’ve noticed that many historical fiction books set during the Second World War take place on the European fronts. Without meaning any offense, this seems to be because many of the writers behind such literature tend to be unfamiliar with the complexity of Asian cultures, and thus is perhaps why there’s a tendency for fewer novels revolving around the Pacific campaigns.
While there’s also the uniqueness that comes with setting the novel in a conflict and time period often left obscure and untouched by fiction writers, a major aspect of Dancing with the Spirits and the Korean War in general, is of the symbolic clash between the cultures and nations of the West and East. Also, I felt that such symbolism can be timed perfectly with the current rising influence of Asia into the cultural, political, and economic affairs of the West.

FQ: There are times in this book that Chinese architecture is mentioned, is this an interest of yours?

AERIE: Yes; in fact, I was originally born into a family of architects whom were often on the move due to the valuable nature of their work. The quaint, foreign, and mysterious nature of the described architecture also serves to highlight the alien and unfamiliar world in which the book’s Western characters are dropped in.

FQ: Jasmine is an intriguing character who is strong and determined so I was expecting her upbringing to be different. Was she an easy or difficult character to create?

AERIE: It was indeed challenging to write about Jasmine, whose story is a complete inverse of the fabled rags-to-riches adventure. However, almost all humans will inevitably have to face the unpredictable currents of the sea that is life, or else be swept away and consumed by time and misfortune. Both Jasmine and Wesley are shipwrecked in some sense, with the former being disavowed by her country while the latter is captured in battle. In the trials and tests that follow, both characters are tempted to give up to the figurative sea in desperation of escaping the suffering and pain around them. However, a major theme in my book is of how people can find the inspiration and drive to keep on swimming despite the tides around them, and eventually hold on long enough to be rescued while many others fail to.

In essence, Jasmine’s fall from a comfortable and carefree girl living in wealth and residing in a prosperous city to a mud and blood soaked woman struggling to get by on a battlefield, does the job of serving as a platform for trials and tribulations to be thrown at her. Instead of an optimistic Dickens style transformation where the miserable achieve strength and courage through rising to happiness, Jasmine gains such traits through coping with life after being robbed of such happiness and learning to find another form of it in the process.

FQ: It is mentioned a few times about certain characters having a “thinking problem.” What is your definition of this in regards to this story?

AERIE: The aforementioned “thinking problem” as stated by several of the Chinese characters, is a blanket term for personality traits and behavior deemed potentially dangerous or resistant against the supposed merits of the new Maoist culture of China. Those suspected of “thinking problems” were thought to be unappreciative of the reforms theoretically meant to benefit them. Thus, it was lawful in the new China for political personnel to take the initiative in “correcting” these “thinking problems” in whichever method they thought to be effective. On a much more broader scale, the “thinking problems” as mentioned in the book represent the iron handed nature by which tyrannical governments in general assert their authority and ruthlessly stamp out even the most subtle forms of potential discord.

FQ: It was interesting to see a glimpse into Wesley’s point of view and he seems to have some of the same compassion and determination as Jasmine. Was it your intention for them to be alike personality wise?

AERIE: Yes; as readers may have noticed, it is in fact the willpower and perseverance of the two that enables them to reunite and interact with each other again and again, lest alone survive individually, despite the constantly changing circumstances of the war raging around them often striving to separate them.

FQ: The efforts of doctors in the war was highlighted with Jasmine’s character, what research did you have to do in order to write about that part of the war?

AERIE: Apart from several notable books regarding the US MASH units, namely Otto Apel’s MASH: An Army Surgeon in Korea and as well as various passages describing them from general Korean War histories, my main sources for The Dance of the Spirits also included several dated surgical textbooks, and as well as interviews with relatives who practice medicine.

FQ: The ending was a surprise for me. Without giving the ending away, did you plan from the beginning to have the story end that way it did?

AERIE: Surprisingly, yes; I wanted the plot to ultimately fall along realist lines despite using a number of liberties over the course of the book. I also wanted to reflect the prevalent misfortune and suffering people go through in harsh times, even if it meant slightly upsetting readers expecting a more optimistic and satisfying conclusion.

As a matter of historical fact that can hand-wave the nature of the book’s final climax, it should be noted that the United Nations’ faction of the war struggled with the immense burden of providing safety and shelter for its thousands of communist prisoners; despite the alliance’s best efforts, suicides, violence, and even riots continued to occur in its camp housing its prisoners of war.

To learn more about The Dance of the Spirits please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Book Review - Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football

Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football: Make-or-Break Moment

By: Carla Killough McClafferty
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1467710671
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 17, 2014

It was a rough-and-ready game for athletes who were willing and able to give it all, including their lives. Von Gammon “died as a result of playing the game he loved so much.” Football was slated to be outlawed, but Von’s mother, Rosalind, wanted it to continue. Fans and players alike clamored for the game’s continuation, a game that “was a perfect combination of brains, brawn, and brutality.” Feelings were mixed as some luminaries were against the game while others such as Teddy Roosevelt supported it. Von had died in 1897 and in spite of the continued deaths and injuries, the game went on.

The violence and deliberate brutality were alarming and finally it was agreed that an Intercollegiate Rules Committee would be set in place. Roosevelt was convinced, in 1905, that “the evils of the sport can be eliminated and the game saved.” Eventually, after a few name changes, the “main governing body” of the collegiate football arena was called the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Illegal and potentially lethal moves were banned from the game and some sense of civility was brought to the field. In spite of these changes, the “football rules didn’t drastically reduce the number of football-related deaths.” What was going wrong?

If a player broke an arm or a leg, the result was visible, but what about those head injuries? Oftentimes the “result of a collision is often trauma--a term derived from the Greek work for wound.” Getting a “ding” or “bellringer” didn’t necessarily exclude a football player from continuing a game. A little headache, nausea, or blurry vision wasn’t going to keep a man down. Some players continued to die on the field, but many others would later lead sub-par lives as a result of these invisible injuries. In this book you’ll read about those players, the science behind those subtle traumatic brain injuries, repetitive brain trauma, CTE, what researchers are now learning, and hope to learn in the future.

This is a startling book about the result of concussions earned on the football field. The basic history of the game is outlined for young readers to examine. There is an immediate hook with the death of young Von Gammon, but we go on to see both sides of the football debate. A look back in time unearths the detractors and somewhat prophetic anti-football men such as Harvard president Charles William Eliot. The first part of the book pinpoints alarming incidents, including deaths. The latter part of the book goes more into the science of concussions and brain injury, closing with yet other examples of its devastating consequences. In the back of the book is an index, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional book and website resources to explore. There are free complementary, downloadable educational resources on the publisher’s website.

Quill says: This is a powerful book that should be read and discussed among young and old alike in order to prevent sports brain injuries.

Book Review - Darkness Everywhere

Darkness Everywhere: The Assassination of Mohandas Gandhi

By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0761354833
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2014

There was nothing about young Monhandas Karamchand Gandhi to indicate that he would one day be a beloved leader revered not only in his country, but around the world. “I used to be shy and avoided all company,” he later claimed, a characteristic that most certainly was not indicative of any future leader. Intellectually even his studies proved to be a struggle, yet another thing that would be a detriment “if he was to become a successful politician,” something he aspired to. His youthful marriage at age thirteen to Kasturbai Kapadia was turbulent at best. Later in life his poor treatment of Kasturbai came back to sting his conscience. It was not an auspicious beginning, not at all.

Obviously there had to be a turning point in Monhandas’s life and the suggestion that he continue his education in England was it. Gandhi realized that it “would be a test of his courage” and indeed it was. In spite of much disappointment and pain, especially at the death of his mother, he began to mature and cement his life philosophy. His “new path,” which would groom him for leadership began with a single incidence of racial intolerance. The twentysomething Gandhi was, first class ticket in hand, told by officials that “he would have to move to the baggage carriage.” It was a life-altering eye opener to the injustices of South African society.

The despicable incident was one that would eventually immerse Ghandi “in the fight for Indian rights in South Africa.” It was also a fight that would, in addition to making him a much revered man, make him the target of extreme Hindu nationalists once he was back on Indian soil. Gandhi’s “ideas of nonviolence and civil disobedience” were set in place to unify Hindus and Muslims in their fight for independence from British rule. It was the work of a simple, yet brilliant man, who began to loosen the British reins of oppression. All the while, a conspiracy began to unknowingly roil in the waters around him. Nathuram Vinayak Godse began his plan to stop the one man he thought was weakening and destroying India. Would he succeed?

This is an excellent look at the assassination conspiracy surrounding Mohandas Gandhi. Many students learn about Gandhi and his philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience, but little about the evil surrounding him. This book discusses the well-known aspects of Gandhi’s life, but also Nathuram Godse, his co-conspirators, their beliefs, their initial attempt on his life, and ultimately the successful one. It’s an excellent overview that tells the other side of the story, one that could easily become a stepping stone to further research or a school report. The book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs and numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a timeline (1869 to 1949), a “Who’s Who” biographical section, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This would be an excellent addition to any homeschool, classroom, or library shelves for students interested in world history and its leaders.

Book Review - Numbed!


By: David Lubar
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: October 2013
ISBN: 978-1467705943
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 17, 2014

Ms. Fractalli’s class was on their way to a field trip to the Mobious Mathematics Museum. Boooring! “I’m counting on you,” she told Logan, “to see that Benedict behaves.” That would be a lot of counting because Benedict never behaved. Everyone was heading to the Chamber of Fractions, but that restricted area that was off limits to the public looked a whole lot better. Leave it to Benedict to figure that it was just the place to head to. Yep, Logan could c-o-u-n-t on Benedict to make a mess of things. Under the rope and down the stairs he went to check things out.

Dr. Thagoras just happened to be in one of those rooms downstairs. The doctor was cool, but the robot he was working with was awesome. Benedict and Logan soon found out that its name was “Cypher, the Number Cruncher,” part of a new exhibit for the museum. The weird thing was that Cypher only knew two digits, as in binary like a computer. “I love numbers,” Cypher droned. “Numbers are wonderful. I am numbers. Numbers are wonderful.” Not. The robot went on and on until smoke literally came out his ears. And then Benedict had yet another idea. He began to shout at Cypher. “Numbers are stupid!”

Blah, blah, blah. Logan didn’t quite know what to do and things got scary when Cypher had one more phrase for them. “You are wrong about numbers. You must be numbed.” Huh? A “bolt of energy” quickly zapped Benedict and Logan in their heads and then there was darkness. After Dr. Thagoras splashed a little water on them they left Mobious and were soon back in the classroom. Ms. Fractalli promised that if they did well on the math test they would “earn a class party with ice cream sundaes.” Awesome! Well, almost, because Benedict and Logan were numbed and knew nothing about math. How could they possibly ace that test if they couldn’t even count?

This is a fun, humorous tale about math that young readers will love. Of course the premise of this tale is that yes indeed, there are lots of uses for that seemingly useless subject ... math. Benedict and Logan embark on a numbed adventure finding just how many day-to-day uses they really had for it. In their scramble to regain their skills they head back to the Mobious to regain them. In the process they learn all kinds of very interesting math hints, hints that youngsters can use to wow their friends and potentially ace their own tests. The flow of the story is fun, exciting, and far from boring as Benedict and Logan learn all about math.

Quill says: If you have a young math hater in your classroom, they might just love it after reading this book!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Books In For Review

Here's a quick peek at some of the books that have just arrived for review.  Take a look and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews.

Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon by Christopher Grey In the fall of 1947, Will Shakespeare saw the world collapse around him. Shakespeare, a secret soldier for the Knights Templar, barely escapes the slaughter of his entire knighthood at the hands of a rogue militant arm of the Vatican in a small Montreal church. With orders to escort Templar business associate Dorothy Wilkinson back to her home in Bermuda, Will must locate and rescue the most important secret treasure in human history before it is devoured by a hurricane in the watery caves beneath her father’s property. The spiraling quest sends Will and Dorothy into uncovering dark secrets that make up the origins of the knighthood as they confront the traps and puzzles that masterfully protect the world’s most coveted treasure.

Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder by Ann Goldfarb When 15 year old Ryn and his younger sister Aeden find themselves in Paris, France due to the murder of a distant relative, they cannot resist the temptation to travel back in time to find the killer. Although they think they have mastered Snell’s Law of Refraction and a way to use light for time travel, something goes terribly wrong. The pair finds themselves in 18th century Paris a day before the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution. To make matters worse, they are lost in the underground sewers and their only hope of survival rests with a member of a secret society of revolutionaries who is bent on killing the aristocracy. When Ryn and Aeden learn that his next victim is their ancestor, who has sought refuge in the Bastille, they are forced to conceal their identities and find a way into that fortress to rescue the gentleman. With a bloodthirsty mob of angry citizens only hours away, Ryn and Aeden must rely on their instincts and skill to escape a frightening fate. Will time be their ally or their enemy?

Just Like Heaven: A Sweetland Novel by Lacey Baker As a successful criminal prosecutor, Preston Cantrell thrives in the hustle and bustle of Baltimore. Much as he loved his grandmother, the cozy streets of his hometown aren’t enough for him—not when he can make a real difference in the city. To get back to his career, all he needs is a new home for the energetic puppy he inherited. But when the gorgeous woman who arrives to adopt finds the dog more appealing than he is, Preston’s determined to plead his case.

Compass: Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader's Guide Hardcover by William F. Brandt Jr. A how-to-do-it compass for business leaders, executives, and managers of for-profit and nonprofit organizations, large and small. The traditional view of economic reality holds that the pursuit of self-interest benefits not only individuals but also society. While this book acknowledges the past successes of this premise, it offers a new, more powerful paradigm—the simultaneous pursuit of both self-interest and concern for others. This new orientation provides a guide for behavior that reflects both the greatest aspirations of humankind and the reality of the world in which we live. As a leader, you can act according to this new paradigm and create Exceptional Organizations that are viable (they achieve their purposes while acting according to society’s highest values), sustainable (viable over time), and valued (all your owners, employees, clients, providers, and communities benefit far more than with competitors). Such Exceptional Organizations foster the personal, professional, and moral growth of their members and are valued by society because society is among their stakeholders.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises. Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs When Jacob Portman was a boy, his grandfather regaled him with stories of his fantastic life at Miss Peregrine's home during the Second World War, even sharing photos of the remarkable children with whom he resided. As Jacob grew up, though, he decided that these photos were obvious fakes, simple forgeries designed to stir up his youthful imagination. Or were they...? Following his grandfather's death - a scene Jacob literally couldn't believe with his own eyes - the sixteen-year-old boy embarks on a mission to disentangle fact from fiction in his grandfather's tall tales. But even his grandfather's elaborate yarns couldn't prepare Jacob for the eccentricities he will discover at Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children!

Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results. Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution...Record Nielsen ratings follow. But when Reagan decides to use her newfound power to teach everyone a lesson about sibling rivalry, she’s the one who will be schooled...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review - A Bag of Marbles

A Bag of Marbles: The Graphic Novel

By: Joseph Joffo
Illustrated by: Vincent Bailly
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467707008
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2014

Jo crouched down on a cobblestone street in Paris taking careful aim with his last marble. He had lost the other ones to his brother, Maurice, and didn’t want to lose his lucky one. Tears quickly came to Jo’s eyes when Maurice pocketed the marble. “Ten-year-olds don’t cry over marbles,” Maurice exclaimed as he gave it back. It was time to hurry home to their father’s barbershop and that dreaded homework. Outside the black boots hit the cobblestones on their way to Joffo’s for haircuts. The skulls on the bands of their hats, the iron crosses on their pockets, and the swastikas could only spell trouble, trouble that their father was not unfamiliar with.

One of the soldiers began to ramble on saying, “The war is rotten. The Jews are to blame.” When Mr. Joffo told them that they were among Jews, their faces tightened and they soon left. Maurice’s and Jo’s nighttime stories from their father reminded them of the Russian pograms and how their family was forced to flee. The stories were exciting and visions of the experience entered their minds. “Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité” was the motto that set the family free in France. Soon that very freedom would be threatened again by those who forced them to wear a yellow star.

Jo and Maurice were banned from “the movies, the train,” and began to be bullied and beaten. Their father had escaped the clutches of soldiers when he was seven and soon his sons would have to travel down a similar path. Their older brothers had already made it to the Free Zone. “Yes, my sons, you’re going to go away. Today it’s your turn.” Money had been put aside for their journey to Menton, but they would have to live by their wits. “There’s one more thing you have to know,” their father explained to them. “You’re Jews, but you must never, ever admit to it. You hear? Never!” Would the Joffos once again escape the clutches of evil?

This is the stunning, powerful story of Joseph Joffo and his escape from the Nazis. The tale is based on the true story Un Sac de Billes, by Joseph Joffo. Told in a graphic novel format, the tension and excitement remain true to the much longer memoir. The tale is divided into two parts, the first concerning the long journey to the Free Zone, and the second once they arrived in Menton. Jo and Maurice, brothers who have to use their street smarts to survive, are very appealing young men. The panels of this novel are amazingly detailed and easily transport the reader back to 1940s Paris and environs. In the back of the book is a glossary, a brief discussion about France and the German occupation, and a map depicting Jo and Maurice’s long journey.

Quill says: This is a fascinating tale of survival that young history buffs will be wowed by!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review - Think Like Your Dog

Think Like Your Dog and Enjoy the Rewards

By: Dianna M. Young and Robert Mottram
Publisher: Island Book Publishing
Publication Date: July 2013
ISBN: 978-0989200806
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: January 13, 2014

We’ve all heard (and some of us have seen) horror stories about dogs behaving badly. Dogs who have their owners all figured out, dogs who rule the house, dogs who are, honestly, out of control. Why can’t their owners train them better? Most likely, those owners don’t understand their dogs and are going about the animal’s training all wrong. In an effort to correct these problems, author Dianna Young, a professional dog trainer, lays out the facts about how dogs think in her new book, and how a person can use that to their advantage when training.

Young begins her book with an introduction that explains how dogs are superb readers of body language. Dogs communicate with each other primarily by reading body language and they use this ability to “read” humans as well. While we may think our dog has an innate ability to know when we are stressed, he is actually picking up on tension expressed through the face and body. This communication method, then, can also be used by humans to communicate what we want from our canine friends.

The first few chapters of Think Like a Dog give an overview of dog behavior, their need for a ‘social hierarchy,’ their desire to be a leader or a follower, what their body language means, which senses are the most vital, and how they learn. Eighteen more chapters follow, covering everything from choosing the right breed, raising a puppy, obedience training, environmental effects, problem-solving and dealing with dominant dogs.

Much like a good novel, I found myself drawn into this book within the first few pages and kept reading late into the night. Unlike many training books that tend to be dry and dull, this one was quite well-written and enjoyable to read. What I particularly liked is that Young used a myriad of real-life examples to back up all her points; examples gleaned from her years as a trainer, seeing clients come in with problem dogs, problems caused by their lack of knowledge and how (or if) the problems were resolved, and why. These real-life situations really brought home the points the author was making and made them stick in my mind. For the obedience training section, photos were abundant, which again, made each point much easier to understand. Overall, after reading Think Like a Dog, I came away with a better understanding of why my canine friends do what they do and am eager to work with them to see what we can achieve.

Quill says: Well-written, easy to understand, and abundant illustrations make Think Like a Dog a book you’ll want to read if you desire a clear understanding of your dog and how to train him to be a wonderful companion.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review - Leave Tomorrow Behind

Leave Tomorrow Behind: A Stella Crown Mystery

By: Judy Clemens
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 9781464202025
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 10, 2014

In this fun book, Leave Tomorrow Behind by Judy Clemens, Stella Crown finds herself in the middle of a murder at the fair when all she wanted was to enjoy watching her young friends in the dairy judging events. From the very beginning of the fair nothing goes as planned in this quirky mystery and the surprises keep coming to the very last page. The first night Stella and her fiancé Nick are at the fair, they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and discover that a local up and coming country singer, Rikki Raines, has been murdered and thrown into the manure pile. The enjoyable week at the fair is gone as Stella is now constantly confronted by police, detectives, and the Greggs who are not liked by many fair families for their cheating ways in the dairy cattle barn.

If trying to piece together clues of a murder are not enough, Stella is also having to constantly confront her wedding crazed future sister-in-law, Miranda, who insists on helping with every detail of the wedding plans. For Stella, going to the court house in jeans and t-shirt would work just fine but of course Miranda will not hear of that. Against her will Stella is dragged to the salon for a spa day and battered with prices, cakes, dresses, and details that almost cause her to strangle her future sister-in-law. At times she finds herself thinking, do I really have to deal with the family too or can’t I just have Nick by himself?

When I looked at the cover of the book the story I was confronted with was not what I had expected, it was better! I absolutely adored the character of Stella and her tough, no nonsense personality with just a touch of softness at certain times. Her attention and support of her young friends at the fair with their various events for me was completely heartwarming. For eight years I also competed in livestock fairs and Clemens does an outstanding job of showing the support, friendships, hard work, and bonds that are made when raising an animal for showing. From the dirty jobs of cleaning stalls to the nervous feeling of taking an animal into the show ring, everything is included perfectly. In addition, it was wonderful to have a strong female protagonist who had me constantly laughing at her raw sense of humor, which I thought was great! Every situation Stella faced had me glued to the writing waiting to see what quirky, smart comeback she would have and each time I found myself routing for her with great intensity. This was the first book I had read of the Stella Crown mysteries and I have to say I am looking forward to reading some other adventures of Stella’s.

Quill says: Here is a story that would be a fantastic read for almost any book lover, for in addition to its main character, it has strong and confident aspects combined with soft and heartfelt moments.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review - Dreamtreaders


By: Wayne Thomas Batson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: May 2014
ISBN: 9781400323661
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 10, 2014

Dreams, they can be fun, scary, dangerous, amazing, and unpredictable and it is Archer Keaton’s job as a chosen Dreamtreader to make sure that the world of dreams and the world of reality stay safe. Lately that job is becoming harder and harder however, as breaches between the two worlds are becoming more and more frequent. In addition, the two other dreamtreaders have come up missing which leaves Archer alone in this battle. The number one culprit is the Nightmare Lord and Archer is convinced that this dangerous figure is planning something awful that could destroy the dream world and actual world in one foul swoop. Archer knows he needs to focus all of his strength on defeating this enemy and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get it done. However, the leader of the Dreamtreaders, Master Gabriel, is not so sure Archer knows exactly what he is up against and if he has the strength to complete this task.

While circumstances are becoming bleak in the world of dreams, Archer also has some new problems surfacing in reality such as the new kid at school, Ridgy Thames, who has Archer wondering exactly who this guy is and what he knows. He seems to be extremely smart and smooth but it seems as if he is hiding something very important and Archer can’t let go of that nagging feeling that something is wrong with this guy. He claims to be the nephew of a well known dream scientist and this fact continues to be of interest to Archer as there are few people who understand dreams as well as he does.

The best words I can use to describe this book are incredible and original! The unique and fascinating world of dreams is showcased in a way I have never seen before and makes for an amazing reading experience. Wayne Thomas Batson allowed me to walk into another world and journey with an easily relatable but brave character and I enjoyed every page. It was great reading about something that many times is hard to understand as dreams come in our subconscious but they can appear unbelievably real. To create a story where a teenage boy can enter a dream and make anything happen that he wants was brilliant. However, as with all stories of adventure, the reader is introduced to the fact that as with everything there are rules to dreamtreading and with that simple explanation Batson gives Archer a noble and worthy cause. Now not only is he a warrior in an unknown world to most people but he has the responsibility to uphold a commitment to protect both worlds. That easily made this a wonderfully appealing book for me and I read this book in a matter of twenty four hours as I could not bring myself to put it down.

Quill says: This is absolutely a book that will be unforgettable once read as it captures the imagination and doesn’t let go.

Book Review - Mission 2: Supersonic (Max Flash)

Mission 2: Supersonic (Max Flash)

By: Jonny Zucker
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1467712088
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2013

The Flash family wasn’t your ordinary family, but Max never knew that until recently. There was a secret room in their basement he’d never even known about. How could he have lived in a place all his life and not known about it? There was an amazing “techno pod” in their very own house and when his parents introduced him to Zavonne, a DFEA agent, Max was some impressed. His parents were actually covert agents for the Department of Extraordinary Ability. “The DFEA needs your help,” Zavonne had said to him. Max went on a solo secret mission to keep the Virtual world from destroying the “real” world and now was going on yet another mission.

Max was perfect for the DFEA missions because of his “stage-magic abilities” and the fact that he was “remarkably double-jointed.” The fact that he was smart and cool-headed in freaky situations didn’t hurt either. Apparently the Zockrans were suffering from all the pollution engulfing them coming up from earth. They were able to receive energy from humans from a Re-Energizing Pod. They protected the human race from the Guzzlets who had “plans for total intergalactic domination.” In other words, they were going to destroy the Earth if Max couldn’t defeat them.

It was going to be a tricky mission because, as Zavonne claimed, “You must leave the pod when those two minutes are up.” Max had a few weapons to use in extreme circumstances and this sounded like a mission that would use all of them plus some. A Direct Passage Pulverizer, a Zing-Board, and a Net Can were his weapons. Max was soon blasted into outer space, but it wasn’t long before he encountered a “silver-and-purple craft” intent on attack. Ninth, the weakened Zockran knew just who they were. “They are our attackers. They have kidnapped the DFEA Unit!” Max’s first mission wasn’t easy, but this one was way out there. Would he be able to save the Zockrans so they could save the Earth?

Max Flash is an x-tremely cool, exciting young DFEA agent to watch out for. Readers will suspend their disbelief and believe in the magical powers young Max has as he soars off into the Hedra galaxy to find and stop the Guzzlets before they attack Earth. The tale is as action-packed as it can get with threatening situations and very unusual alien creatures at every turn. The Max Flash series is a new one and no doubt will be a popular one. Max is very likeable and when he left our world to do battle, the tale took off into a fun, exciting adventure. Reluctant and young scifi fans will definitely love this fast-paced series!

Quill says: If you have a young scifi fan who is also into gaming, this is a series that is sure to please!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Could You Write Your Novel on a Tablet?

Most writers work either in longhand or type their work straight into their home computer or laptop. However, those are far from being the only methods that people use to get their words down in black and white. Writers who have learned some kind of shorthand—for example Teeline or perhaps one of the Pitman varieties such as New Era or Pitman 2000—may find that filling a notepad with those apparently mysterious squiggles is the quickest and most efficient way for them to get their ideas onto the page. Then there are those brave—or, some might say, foolhardy—souls who compose whole novels on their smartphone. While that is certainly a resourceful use of downtime for any commuters who might be stuck on a long train journey without recourse to a pen and paper, writing on such a small screen is far from easy and probably sounds incredibly weird to most writers. Nonetheless, is easy to understand the appeal of having a tiny, portable computer that allows you to write on the fly, wherever and whenever the mood takes you. After all, most people do not spend their whole day in front of their PC and even a laptop computer may well be too cumbersome to take with you everywhere.

Rise of the Androids
Perhaps this is one reason why tablets of all kinds are gaining popularity. Thanks to their compact footprint, tablets, such as Apple’s iPad and its Android counterparts such as the Samsung Galaxy devices, are highly portable while still possessing a sufficiently large screen for comfortable web browsing, e-book reading and movie viewing. To date, relatively little has been said about the potential value of the tablet as a tool for writers, but it is certainly worth considering it as a powerful tool for creating documents of all kinds. With software apps geared to the needs of both business use and creative writing of all kinds, tablets are increasingly proving themselves to be a powerful aid for writers.

Looking After Your Tablet
The more you use your tablet, the more you may come to see it as a valuable ally in your writing work. However if you are going to carry it around with you, it is important to protect it from damage that may occur. Even if it is in your bag, it could be damaged if it is knocked or dropped and that may require repairs to the screen or internal components which could have been avoided with the right protection. You can protect your tablet with a sturdy cover. These are available in a wide range of colors and designs. If you live in a large city or town within the US, or if you are visiting any large city overseas, such as London or Manchester, stores devoted to tablet repairs  and tablet accessories will be within easy reach. If you are based in a smaller town, you may find you have a wider selection available to you if you order the cover online. It is not only the outside of the tablet which needs to be cared for. Like any other kind of computer, your tablet can easily become clogged with files that you do not need any more. This can cause its performance to become sluggish, unless you take the time to clear these unnecessary files every so often.

Writing Software for Your Tablet
Despite their surge in popularity, tablets are still a source of puzzlement to many of their users. Certainly, many people, especially those who receive their tablet as a gift and are not particularly aware of the technology may be delighted by its compact footprint and relatively large screen, but have insufficient awareness of the nature of the tablet to get the maximum benefit from it. Even writers who are used to creating documents on their home computer or notebook may not have considered the potential of their tablet as a tool that could help them as writers. However even a brief glance through some of the apps that are available for your tablet will be enough to confirm that there are now a great many productivity software tools for writers. If you need word processing software for your tablet, a good free one is Kingsoft Office.

While it may be slower as a writing tool than a traditional keyboard if you are a fast touch typist, many hunt and peck typists will see little difference between the speed with which they can enter text on a tablet and that on a traditional keyboard. Hardcore fans of texting may even find input on a tablet is faster for them. For portability and convenience, the tablet is a real boon to a busy writer who is looking to fit a few extra minutes of precious writing time into his or her schedule. The increasing choice of helpful apps available for tablets of all kinds can help you make the most of the writing time at your disposal.