Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Books In For Review

It may be cold outside, but things are sure heating up here at Feathered Quill.  Here's a look at some of the books that have just come in for review.  We're busy, busy, busy!!!

I'm Free!: Techniques to Bypass the Mind and Free the Soul by Rev. Dr. Mushtaq H. Jaafri Does Soul Really Exist? One of the most difficult things a person will face is to recognize, relate, assimilate and apply the fact of life that we as human beings are not merely a body, but we are in essence a Soul or a Pure Spirit. We are indeed much higher than a physical body and everything that we see is not what it appears to be. In this book, I would like to teach you how to begin to develop a deep sense that there is someone inside of us, not an abstract force but a real person who was placed there by our Creator God to experience living on earth and eventually become a Co-worker with God. It's called Soul. Let's explore Soul together, and begin enriching your life now. then you can truly enjoy this life, and wait expectantly for the joys to come.

Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl by Philip Gaber In this new collection of introspective and edgy literary caricatures the work has the feel of a neo-alternative itinerant busker involved in a passionate and fiery partimen with himself. In high-concept terms: These are psychology tales with a strong theme of unavoidable destiny. The crux of the story involves a philosophical experience. The story begins with a miscommunication and ends with a poet searching for a finish line.

The Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone by Will Storr Killian Lone comes from a long line of gifted cooks, stretching back to the seven­teenth century, and yearns to become a famous chef himself. When he starts an apprenticeship under Max Mann, the most famous chef in London, he looks set to continue the family tradition. But the reality of kitchen life is brutal. Even his fellow apprentice, Kathryn, who shows Killian uncharacteristic kindness, can’t stop his being sucked into the vicious, debauched world of 1980s fine dining, and gradually he is forced to surrender his dream. Then he discovers a dark family secret—the legacy of an ancestor who was burnt as a witch for creating food so delicious it was said to turn all who tasted it mad. Killian knows he can use this secret to achieve his ambitions and maybe, finally, to win Kathryn’s affections. But is he willing to pay the price? This is Killian’s confession—a strange tragedy about love, ambition andincredible food . . .

Sinners and The Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife by Rebecca Kanner The young heroine in Sinners and the Sea is destined for greatness. Known only as “wife” in the Bible and cursed with a birthmark that many think is the brand of a demon, this unnamed woman lives anew through Rebecca Kanner. The author gives this virtuous woman the perfect voice to make one of the Old Testament’s stories come alive like never before. Desperate to keep her safe, the woman’s father gives her to the righteous Noah, who weds her and takes her to the town of Sorum, a haven for outcasts. Alone in her new life, Noah’s wife gives him three sons. But living in this wicked and perverse town with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than to her takes its toll. She tries to make friends with the violent and dissolute people of Sorum while raising a brood that, despite its pious upbringing, develops some sinful tendencies of its own. While Noah carries out the Lord’s commands, she tries to hide her mark and her shame as she weathers the scorn and taunts of the townspeople.

Home Behind the Sun: Connect with God in the Brilliance of the Everyday by Timothy Willard Life opens up before each of us, it beckons, it tempts, it thrills, it betrays. And what do we desire? All of it and none of it. We’re not in this to survive, but to live. We want to experience joy in the everyday grind of work, relationships, and parenting. We want healing in our suffering. Forgiveness in the midst of our pains. Purpose through the journey. We want to break free from the temporal and live with an eternal perspective. We want to be brilliant. In Home Behind The Sun coauthors Timothy Willard and Jason Locy invite you to step out of the shadows and into the brilliance. They want to introduce you to the God of the mysterious. A God who combats despair with joy, topples bitterness with forgiveness, and eliminates cynicism with belief and whimsy.

Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett Dr. Ben Faulkner is a veterinarian on warm, welcoming Sanctuary Island, a refuge for wild horses. Though he’s dedicated his life to healing animals and rescuing the ones no one wants, Ben is nursing deep wounds of his own. After tragedy tore his family apart, he gave up his dreams of finding happiness long ago…until Merry Preston arrives on the island. Vivacious, friendly, and instantly loveable, Merry is everything Ben is not. She’s also nine months pregnant and attempting to carve out a new life for herself and her unborn child.

Tempting Fate by Jane Green Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can’t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years…And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her—until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive—something she hasn't felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything—and find out what really matters most.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke Eva has only been married for eight months when her husband, Jackson, is swept to his death while fishing. Weighed down by confusion and sorrow, Eva decides to take leave of her midwifery practice and visit Jackson’s estranged family with the hope of grieving together. Instead, she discovers that the man she loved so deeply is not the man she thought she knew. Jackson’s father and brother reveal a dark past, exposing the lies her marriage was built upon. As Eva struggles to come to terms with the depth of Jackson’s deception, she must also confront her growing attraction to Jackson’s brother, Saul, who offers her intimacy, passion, and answers to her most troubling questions. Will Eva be able to move forward, or will she be caught up in a romance with Saul, haunted by her husband’s past? Threading together beautiful, wild settings and suspenseful twists, A Single Breath is a gripping tale of secrets, betrayals, and new beginnings.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review - Red Riding Hood Gets Lost

Red Riding Hood Gets Lost: Grimmtastic Girls Book 2

By: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: March 2014
ISBN: 978-0545519847
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 2014

Red Riding Hood was some psyched about auditioning for a role in Tom Thumb's new production, "Robin Hood." She'd been "acting all her life" and this was a place to showcase her talents, or so she thought. Red hit the stage, but not running. She not only passed out cold from stage fright, but almost took out a couple of the teachers on her way down. No one at Grimm Academy had probably ever witnessed such an embarrassing scene and it wasn't even from a play. "Hey," Wolfgang flippantly said to her as he helped her up, "I always thought you were a little dizzy, Crimson." Unreal, simply unreal that she'd flubbed the audition of a lifetime!

Mr. Anti-social was actually being nice to her for a change, but if he'd at least get the real shade of her name right it would be even nicer. It looked like Red's acting career was over before it even started and just the thought was enough to bring tears to her eyes. Avery's unusual distraction in the form of a "Clomp. Clomp. Clomp," a domp domping sound soon brought her out of her funk. An annoying basket was doing more tricks for her than a circus clown. Seriously! Wow, could this possibly be her magical charm? Cinda had those magical slippers and Red knew that it was "an honor for a charm to choose" someone. Could it possibly be happening to her?

It was grimmazing to have a magical charm basket, but better yet grimmtastic friends like Cinda, Snow, and Rapunzel. At Grimm Academy everyone "was a character from literature," including Principal Rumpelstiltkin. Stiltsky was certain that the academy was doomed for lack of finances and was 4-ever practicing alchemy. There were a lot of other practices resurfacing at the Academy ... E.V.I.L. ones. Red and her friends were tying to find the "long-lost treasure of Grimmlandia" in the Neverwood Forest with mapestry, a map of the land. "That basket," Ms. Wicked exclaimed to Prince Wolfgang, "is exactly what the Society needs!" Just what kind of evil was lurking around the halls of Grimm Academy? Would Red's magical charm be able to help save the Academy from disaster?
This is yet another grimmazing tale in the "Grimmtastic Girls" series. Initially I wasn't sure I'd be wild about it, but after reading about Cinda (Cinderella), I was definitely hooked. Mind you, I'm not exactly the target audience, but the love of a good yarn doesn't exactly have an age limit. Red Riding Hood is a modern-day gal who is way cool and fun. The cast of characters, in this book and in future ones, has that special spark that only Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams can create. They are coming alive and moving from the pages of nursery rhyme, fairy tale, and folklore books into the grimmtastic world of the Grimm Academy. Red Riding Hood, Cinda, Snow, and Rupunzel are definitely girls to watch out for.

Quill says: If you fell in love with the "Goddess Girls" series, you're going to love Grimm Academy and its grimmsastic cast of characters!

Book Review - Revolutionary


By: Alex Myers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6332-7
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: February 26, 2014

Revolutionary is a real gem; it will make readers as well as historians look at the Revolutionary War in an entirely new light.

Beginning in Massachusetts in 1782, Deborah Samson is a young woman looking for adventure. On her own, she has left her church, her very good friend, Jennie, and no longer wants to wait on (or, as they called it in this small Massachusetts village), ‘serve’ men who disrespect her and all of her gender. She wants to join the Army and serve her country.

Deborah starts out on her new adventure. Cutting her long hair, she dresses in boy’s clothing to enlist in the Continental Army in order to fight for her freedom. Changing her name to Robert Shurtliff, Deborah joins the Army and takes up the job of caretaker for the horses. Deborah eats beans gladly, because they’re better than what she’s used to, and prays to the Lord that she can keep her scheme up and be able to do her job as a boy in the Army. With her mind set, she and her cohorts set off for West Point, marching to a drummer’s beat.

Deborah turns out to be a brave soldier under fire; some of her fellow soldiers make remarks like; “Good Man” and “Someday, you’ll make someone a fine husband.” In other words, the illusion is working. After being wounded, Deborah is taken to the Army Hospital in Philadelphia and then on to the home of Dr. Barnabas Binney to recuperate. Dr. Binney assures Deborah that even though he knows she’s a woman, it will remain their secret. However, when Deborah is well enough to leave the doctor’s home he gives her a letter to give to her commanding officer stating that she is a woman; he tells her, “The letter is for your commander, it declares who you are and I leave it up to you as to what you want to do. One should never be ashamed of their true nature and there are worse ways the General could find out than from your own hand.”

Deciding to leave the Army as Robert Shurtliff, she does hand the letter to the General and tells him her story, hoping that – in the end – he will come to terms with her situation and why she chose to do what she did.

Based on a true story, the tale of a woman living and doing the work of a man, Deborah is actually a distant relative of the author. Very much an in-depth story of the Revolutionary War, the research done by the author is an excellent account of both history and the lives of the people who lived through it.

Quill says: In the 21st Century, Deborah’s story is a true battle for identity; proving to one and all that gender is not, and never should be, the foundation for honor and heroism.

Book Review - Cinderella Stays Late

Cinderella Stays Late: Grimmtastic Girls Book 1

By: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: March 2014
ISBN: 978-0545519830
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 26, 2014

Cinderella was finally getting the opportunity to attend Grimm Academy. Her Steps, Malorette and Odette, had been going there like forever and Cinda was thrilled. It was more like grimmazing because Cinda never thought she'd be going to an academy where real princes attended. The Academy would soon be home to a new prince, Prince Awesome. Impressed she was! Not. Malorette and Odette were wild over the idea that Prince Awesome was coming and made no effort to hide the fact. They made no effort to hide the fact that they despised Cinda either. Her father was a "little clueless" and because he traveled for work he had no idea she had turned into the "family maid."

Ms. Jabbberwocky, the dragon lady in the principal's office, had started Cinda's day off by giving her a locker key. Bespellings and Enchantments, Comportment (huh?), and Balls were on her list of classes. Prince Awesome was "taking Balls sixth period" and that only meant one thing: Malorette and Odette would want an intro to the prince. Cinda "pretended their words didn't hurt her," but she was only kidding herself. If they didn't get that intro there would be trouble. She had already been late for school and soon there would be even more when Principal Rumpelstiltskin blew his stack at her. Maybe her Steps were right for once. Cinda really was a Loserella.

"Stand up straight!" Odette stabbed at Cinda, "Don't draw attention to your awful gown." Would it never end? It was a bit difficult to be a fashion plate like the Steps with a hand-me-down wardrobe. The only bright patch at the otherwise grim Grimm Academy was meeting new friends in Mistress Hagscorch's lunch room. Red, Snow, and Rupunzel didn't even notice her gown and probably wouldn't mind if they did. The talk of the Academy was all about Prince Awesome and his upcoming ball, but Cinda "didn't care about crowns or royalty any more than she did about fashion." Besides, she couldn't dance. There was talk about an E.V.I.L. society, but something else quite sinister was afloat in the Academy. Someone was trying to sabotage Cinda and ruin the ball!

This grimmazing tale of Cinderella and her wicked Steps will mesmerize young readers. Of course this is a modern-day take on Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's fairy tale, Cinderella. As soon as I started reading, I knew this little hearth cleaner was not about to let those Steps walk all over her. Attending the Grimm Academy was a dream come true and everyone will immediately fall in love with and root for Cinda. There are all kinds of mesmerizing, magical goings on in the tale that add a lot of humor and fun to the tale. I enjoyed meeting Cinda's new friends, who undoubtedly will be main characters in this series. I had no choice but to chuckle as I met the likes of Grumpystiltskin, Coach Candlestick, Ms. Blue Fairygodmother, and other recognizable Grimm brother's characters. The "Grimmtastic Girls" is a fairy tale world full of grimmazing (almost) modern day gals 'n guys young readers will fall in love with!

Quill says: If you fell in love with the "Goddess Girls" series, you're going to love Grimm Academy and its grimmstastic cast of characters!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review - The Troop

The Troop

By: Nick Cutter
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-1771-5
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: February 24, 2014

Nick Cutter delivers gripping, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense in his latest thriller, The Troop.

It’s the perfect fall weekend for the annual camping excursion to Prince Edward Island. Scoutmaster Tim Riggs and his teen band of boy scouts, Kent (the most popular), Ephraim and Max (best buddies and well-liked by all), Newt (the dork), and (the oddball) Shelley are bound for an adventure and so much more in the great outdoors. How could they possibly know evil would join them due to the unexpected arrival of emaciated Thomas Henry Padgett? Why is he so incredibly thin and what is with his maniacal quest to quell his insatiable appetite? How could Scoutmaster Riggs have possibly known his hospitality and offering of shelter and food to the pitiful Thomas Padgett was a choice that would upend the lives and redirect the destiny of not only Riggs’ future, but the lives of the boys in his care.

To understand the connection between Thomas Henry Padgett and Scoutmaster Tim and his scouts, one needs to take a step back. Padgett spent the majority of his life combating weight issues. How fortunate (or not) for him when he met the likes of brilliant Dr. Edgerton and the doctor’s equally talented colleague, Dr. Nathan Erikson. Padgett finally had hope and the opportunity to shed many unwanted pounds. Padgett was the doctors’ ‘Patient Zero.’ Willingly, he surrendered himself to their adept knowledge and clinical trials as they applied their scientific research. The doctors’ had spent endless hours of modifications and experimentations to perfect the Hydatid worm. Their reward was to finally put it to human testing. Padgett was their conduit and their lab-modified worm was beyond ready to transcend from Petri dish to pill form suspension for human consumption. Indeed, the worm (beast, actually), would stop at nothing once it had infiltrated and infected its human host. In mere hours it would conquer and devour every fiber of life and form that had once been governed by its host. Unbeknownst to Scoutmaster Tim and his boys, when all paths converge, they were about to become the latest innocents of a scientific trial that had gone terribly wrong.

Nick Cutter has written a book worthy of placing himself in the same arena as some of the greatest writing thrill masters of our time. Cutter’s distinct and goose bump inducing writing ability consistently taunts and wills the reader to keep going forward into the abyss of evil and terror that unfolds in The Troop. As adept as he is at scaring the crap out of his audience, Mr. Cutter demonstrates amazing control of his pen as he tempers the reader’s fear with beautifully written and thought-provoking one-liners such as: ‘The past had a perfection that the future could never hold...’ I say bravo to Mr. Cutter for being the ‘real deal.’ The Troop is a sound example and testament to your gifted writing abilities.

Quill says: The Troop provides more than a hearty portion of “food for thought” when mapping out healthy lifestyle choices!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review - Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder

Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder

By: Ann I. Goldfarb
Publisher: Two Cats Press
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-937083-25-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: February 17, 2014

For any reader who has already jumped head-first into the stories of these two teens who can go back in time using refracted light (hence, the Light Riders); and for those who MUST start reading them now because you are missing one of the best series out there, this is a new offering in the series that produces quick dialogue, humor, and a mystery that is both historical and extremely cool.

This time out siblings Aeden and Ryn are once again going to have their Spring Break ruined because of a dead relative. Ryn is more than a little upset because he’s been doing extremely well at lacrosse and does not want to miss out on the practices. For Aeden, she’s just a little sick and tired of the whole thing. However, Mom and Dad get a call about great, great Uncle Henri, who has been found murdered. Oddly enough, he was sliced across the throat with a small fleur-de-lis symbol carved into the skin for extra, added effect. This particular symbol dates back to the French Revolution (1700s), and murders that took down the elite socialist pigs who didn’t understand the plight of the poor.
Well, if you’re going to have your Spring Break ruined, it is an upside that the dead relative you’ve never even heard of is kind enough to lose their life in Paris, of all places. Ryn’s attitude changes immediately and he runs off to speak with his French teacher, who he learned fluent French from (but only because he had a crush, not because he actually wanted to learn), to tell her all about it.
Why is this death so strange, and why would some family in America be called to come to France and investigate? Turns out, Mom has actually been named in the Will; which is impossible, considering the Will was created way before Mom was ever born.

On the plane, a stranger appears and scares Ryn a bit with his odd words; not to mention, he leaves a note in Ryn’s pocket that Ryn finds after the stranger mysteriously disappears. Aeden can suddenly speak fluent French in her sleep, and Uncle Henri’s murder opens the door to a seriously strange background that only the kids may be able to solve.

Using the largest prism in the world, the Louvre, the kids have a small time shift when they attempt to go back just a couple of weeks to solve the murder of Henri. They happen to end up in sewer drains running underneath the city of Paris. It is the apex of the French Revolution and their family is on a list to be killed; if that killing takes place, they will no longer exist in the future.

From the pain and fear of the Bastille, to the elegant households, to the struggle of the city that brings them in contact with the hungriest and most evil of society, this adventure for Aeden and Ryn is more fun than ever. The reader gets lost in Paris during a time of confusion; where wealth was under siege for a very good reason.

This author has once again done a brilliant job of putting together a YA mystery/adventure that is fun for absolutely every age. History is taught in a descriptive, unforgettable way, and the humor and love between Aeden and Ryn shines through.

Quill says: Get on the Light Riders train! You will never be disappointed!

For more information on Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder, please visit the series' website at:

Interview with Author Ann I. Goldfarb

Today we're talking with Ann I. Goldfarb, author of Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder

FQ: Being a teacher and school principal, I must ask, are Ryn and Aeden based on, or have any specific qualities of, students you once taught?

GOLDFARB: Ryn and Aeden are composites of the students I’ve taught as well as my nieces and nephews. I’ve taken bits and pieces of individual personalities and fused them together to create believable characters. Since “Light Riders” is a series, I’ve worked hard to make sure that my characters develop with each novel. In the first novel, Light Riders and the Morenci Mine Murder, Ryn is thirteen and Aeden is twelve. He’s somewhat whiny but it makes him endearing given the situation. Aeden is wide-eyed and charming but all of that changes when she turns fourteen in this novel, Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder. Aeden is now bossy and according to her brother, a “know-it-all.” Again, their personalities grow in the subsequent novel.

FQ: The locations you pick, especially this latest story set during the French Revolution...are these specific locations you wish to visit one day, or have? And what location, if you can narrow one down for us, would be the ultimate place you would like to visit?

GOLDFARB: I was fortunate to spend two weeks in Paris during my study abroad program while in college. The city and its rich history was fascinating for me. In addition, my mother was quite knowledgeable about the French Revolution and gave me the “fodder” I needed to craft this adventure. There are a number of places I’d like to visit so be on the look-out for: Iceland, and the Mediterranean countries.

FQ: In a way, I always think of Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) when I read these fantastic books. I start feeling as if this is the last family you want to be in, considering they have a lot of relatives who drop dead of odd murders. Are there any specifics you can give us on how this ‘family’ and their mysteries first began in your mind?

GOLDFARB: Interestingly, the setting for the first novel in the series was the immediate thing to “gel” for me. I based it on an actual house not far from where I live. Then, the characters started to emerge in my mind. Sometimes, I can “hear” their dialogue. The names that begin with “A” in the series are the actual names of real readers who live in Missouri and whose grandmother is a friend of mine.

FQ: One question, a signature question, if you will, that I always have to ask is: If there was one writer (living or dead) you could sit and have lunch with and ask any questions you like, who would that be, and why?

GOLDFARB: Without a doubt, Charles Dickens. I continue to be mesmerized by his storytelling, his crafting of characters and his ability to create mood. From the fictional “Coketown” from Hard Times to the bucolic setting in Pickwick Papers, he does it all.

FQ: Even though these are ‘YA’ categorized, I have to say these books, much like Potter, can truly be enjoyed by all ages. Do you, personally, like the action/adventure genre as a reader? Or, historical fiction?

GOLDFARB: While I have an eclectic approach to reading, I do tend to gravitate towards historical fiction, gothic romance and high adventure. I’ll fluctuate from a nail-biting high octane novel to a descriptive romance and a laugh out loud comedy. As long as the characters are compelling and the plot is solid, I’ll keep turning the pages.

FQ: The way you chose your characters’ mode of travel - with refracted light was ingenious, considering many use a piece of jewelry, or something similar. How did this particular ‘route’ come to mind for you?

GOLDFARB: When I first started writing time travel mysteries, I did quite a bit of research. I wanted readers to have enough science so that the “suspension of disbelief” would be seamless. In addition, I always want to spark curiosity in my readers so that they will do a bit of research on their own. (That’s the teacher in me!)

FQ: I am hoping (like many others) that the Light Riders will continue on. Can you give us that good news here today, and perhaps speak of the next location for them that you are playing with in the imagination?

GOLDFARB: I’ve got good news for you. The next novel in the series, The Time Borrower, will be released by my publisher, Two Cats Press, in June, 2014. It takes place at the end of the 13th-century in Scotland with a series of strange murders at a monastery. Readers can catch the preview on my website at: Each month, I’ll reveal a bit more on the storyboard.

FQ: Will Ryn EVER be able to move forward in lacrosse and enjoy a spring break without murder getting in the way?

GOLDFARB: Not likely!

To learn more about Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review - Manner-Man


By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Illustrated by: Kalpart
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication Date: January 2013
ISBN: 978-1622124787
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: February 15, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... no, it's not one of those other superheroes, this time it's Manner-Man, the superhero who helps children deal with bullies and other misbehaving children.

As the story opens, we meet a young boy who has been bullied by another boy. He's upset and tells his mother what happened and gets some excellent advice. That night, he thinks about what his mom said, and soon falls asleep and dreams about Manner-Man:

"Call upon Manner-Man; he'll save the day
And help all good children to share when they play..."

The next day at school, two boys are fighting. Fortunately, our young protagonist knows just what to do:

I put up my hand, from the tips came a flash,
And Manner-Man came, just as if I had asked.
He stopped all the fighting and arguing too,
And then he told them what they needed to do:

Manner-Man is smart, he knows the way to stop the fighting is not to push back. Instead he tells the children to use words, words to explain that fighting is not cool; words to explain that sharing is more fun. He also cautions that words can hurt too, and explains that calling people names is not kind and will hurt feelings.

Manner-Man helps the children through many tough situations, from the bullies who push and shove, to the teddy bear snatchers, and those who don't know how to say "please" and "thank you." Soon most of the kids at school are calling on Manner-Man to help and they all know that,

No matter the problem, no matter the crime,
Manner-Man saves the day, time after time.
He teaches good manners, so take his advice:
If someone starts shoving, just shout out "Not nice!"

Normally I don't use as much text from a children's book in my reviews, but I must confess that I just love the easy-flowing rhymes of Manner-Man and wanted to share that with readers. So many books that tell stories through rhyme have at least a few sections where the rhymes don't quite work, where text is forced. Not so in this adventure tale! The whole story flowed so perfectly that I read it through three times - it was that much fun to read. Of course, the truly important question is, does the story work? The answer? Absolutely! Dealing with bullies is not easy for anybody, especially young children. As adults, we know that fighting back is NOT the way to deal with a bully, but the temptation to push back is strong with a child. Manner-Man uses his superpowers to teach children that that is not the way to stop bullying. The line, 'If someone starts shoving, just shout out "Not nice!" is repeated numerous times in the story in slightly different variations. It's an important lesson, and one that comes through loud and clear.

Finally, a review of Manner-Man would not be complete without mentioning the fantastic artwork. Created by Kalpart (a group of illustrators specializing in children's books), the author has used this team for her other award-winning books. While I haven't read the other books, the illustrations for Manner-Man are absolutely perfect. The drawings are bright, quite colorful, expressive, and eye-catching. They add the perfect finishing touch to a fun, creative book.

Quill says: A delightful book that not only entertains but also teaches children an important lesson.
For more information on Manner-Man, please visit the author's website:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review - The Warsaw Conspiracy

The Warsaw Conspiracy

By: James Conroyd Martin
Publisher: Hussar Quill Press
Publication Date: December 2012
ISBN: 978-0-61574191-8
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: February 14, 2014

For any reader who craves that sweeping family saga, or historical fans who wish to be wrapped up in a stunning world that was built on intrigue and elegance, this is the book that’s a perfect ‘can’t put down’ read.

The foundation of this plot is the November Uprising (or, Rising), which was the armed rebellion of the Polish-Russian War that ran from 1830 to 1831. Beginning when young Polish officers from the local ‘Army of the Congress’ (Poland’s military academy) revolted, the uprising was truly a fight for freedom, Poland’s rights, and attaining the ability to stand on their own two feet without mighty Imperial Russia keeping them in check. Considering the size and brutality of the enemy they fought, it was no surprise that the rebellion did not succeed, but this particular author has done a thrilling job of taking the hand of the reader and walking them through an incredible time.

Forbidden to remember a moment in the past (offered in the gripping Prologue), the story begins with a birthday party. Michal is the recipient of this honor, and it is he and his brother, who serve as the backbone of this incredible tale.

Michal is a veteran who may seem to some as paranoid and overly cautious when it comes to how the Polish people are ‘talking’ about conspiracies, as well as uniting in the face of a realm that will not be defeated easily. Jozef, his much younger brother, is absolutely passionate about being a cadet and becoming part of a plan that will score a major win for Poland and her people.

Involved in a plot to abduct the Grand Duke of Russia, the historical and military ramifications affect this family with heart-wrenching reality. And when it comes to the true loves and strong matriarchs of their family, the women work hard to bring the family through the fire so they can come out unharmed.

Everything in this tale is astounding. The writer owns a gift; everything from an extravagant Manor House to little towns where skirmishes and bloody battles are fought at dawn, not one scene is lacking in beauty, darkness, and imagination.

The cadets are much like any youngsters in the military who have the ultimate faith that they, because they are on the right side, will have no problem taking down the beast that, in this novel, is represented by Russia. Readers will want to cheer and stand behind them, yet also take Michal’s way and not throw caution to the wind.

Quill says: Compelling. This author has made sure to explore every emotion of the time period to present a truly epic novel.

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

Book Review - The Cat, the Devil and Lee Fontana

The Cat, the Devil and Lee Fontana

By: Shirley Rousseau Murphy & Pat J.J. Murphy
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperLuxe Lrg. Edition)
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-226878-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: February 13, 2014

This is a novel that’s most definitely an attention-getter. From the title, to the cover, to the amazing plot and characters, this literary duo captures the imagination and provides a perfect one-day read.

We begin with a different cat than the one usually written about by Murphy. For those who know her famous feline, Joe Grey, you will be more than happy to meet yet another kitty who brings mystery, aid and a bit of the supernatural along for good measure.

Meet Misto, a prison cat. Although it has gone to its heavenly reward, the cat is still floating about in the prison keeping track of things; sometimes you see him, sometimes you don’t. Said cat is, as all felines are, a Guardian of the Underworld, so the animal definitely knows when something’s fishy. Which brings us to the next character in the title.

The Devil happens to be after Lee Fontana, who will be set free from prison the very next day. It seems Lee’s grandfather once humiliated Satan many years ago, leaving the ‘bad guy’ honor-bound to get his revenge by harassing Lee until he owns his soul. The Devil is nobody’s fool; he believes if someone has just a tiny bit of evil inside them, than they will do what he wants and he will score the ultimate win.

However, Misto begins working his magic, getting into Lee’s mind with thoughts of right and good. Lee has been a criminal all his life, but as soon as he begins to listen to evil and becomes tempted to do something rash, the cat is there to talk him out of it. After parole, when Lee gets out of prison, Satan scares him and claims that if he does just one more robbery, he will be kept in the lap of luxury for the rest of his life. So, who will win? Cat or Satan?

Well, the upside is that Misto leaves the prison behind and travels with Lee on an adventure the reader will never forget; an adventure that will also remind many fans of Joe Grey and his pals in California.

A wonderfully written book, readers will love the whole story of this yellow tabby-cat ghost who is, by far, the brains of the outfit.

Quill says: Everyone who reads Murphy’s feline sleuths will be delighted by this definite ‘must read.’

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winners of Feathered Quill's Sponsored Awards


THE WARSAW CONSPIRACY BY JAMES CONROYD MARTIN WINS The Feathered Quill's Best Self-published Novel: All self- published books, in all categories, are eligible for this award. The TOP PICK self-published book award includes a front-page review on Feathered Quill Book Reviews and author interview with links to the book's (or author's) page. Review and interview will also be posted to our blog, twitter account, Facebook page, and Book- In addition, the review will be posted to Barnes& and Google Books (if the book is listed on those sites). - $125 value

THE SILVER SPHERE BY MICHAEL DADICH WINS The Write Companion Award for Best Overall TOP PICK - Adult, Children's and Young Adult categories: Originality is key. Falling into a stereotypical plot or character is difficult for an author. That is why this award is given to the author that makes that lasting impression. Based on pure originality, this award seeks the writers who - like Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas or Preston and Childs' inventive detective Aloysius Pendergast - have created a character who makes that lasting impression on readers. Do I smell sequel? The winner will receive
marketing on all Amy Lignor's websites: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TWC, Pinterest, as well as a free consultation regarding their next book project. This comes with a free edit/polish/notes/suggestions of their next book. If there is not a project as of yet, the consult will be given to answer any author's questions when it comes to publishing, agencies, independent books, self-publishing - a conversation regarding the here and now of the industry that may help them in the future.

THE DOGS OF PROUD SPIRIT BY MELANIE SUE BOWLES WINS The ReaderViews Award for the Readers' favorite - We will choose from the winners of all categories on the book for this award, based on Reviews Scores, Cover Design, and relevance to readers today. The winner will get a Publicity Package AA, which includes a Book Review, Live Interview and a one week Feature on our Home page, Inside Scoop Live page and Newsletter. Plus one hour of online publicity consultation. - $385 value

NATALIE’S REVENGE BY SUSAN FLEET WINS The Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity Award for Best Mystery - One professionally-written press release with distribution. - $1000 value

THE GENTLE BEAGLE BY KAREN ROBERTS WINS The Five Star Publications Award for Best Animal - Children's and YA A one hour book consulting session - $200 value

COMET’S TAIL BY STEVEN WOLF WINS The Polka Dot Banner Award for Best Non-Fiction Personal Award - The Polka Dot Banner, the book visibility site, will provide the winner of this category with a one-year Pro- Promoter profile that includes: a front page book cover ad, top-of-the-page banner, Featured Author interview, book cover ad, a top-of-every-page mini book icon, Platinum Authors highlight page placement, special easy-access browse tab to your book, and access to all available profile tabs. (See site for complete details of this option.) - $169 value

VIEW FROM THE EDGE BY MICHAEL KASENOW WINS The Savannah's Choice Award for Best Adult Fiction Written by a Self- Published Author - Prize includes: book review by Savannah Mae, a page highlighting both author & book to be featured for a month on the home page of following the awards. Book review and highlight pages to remain on website indefinitely, featured under "Savannah's Choice Awards" and an ad with the winning book cover linking to for 1 year on sidebar.

SUMMER SALTZ BY CONNIE SEWELL WINS The Savannah's Choice Award for Best Children's Book Written by a Self-Published Author - Prize includes: book review by Savannah Mae, a page highlighting both author & book to be featured for a month on the home page of following the awards. Book review and highlight pages to remain on website indefinitely, featured under "Savannah's Choice Awards" and an ad with the winning book cover linking to for 1 year on sidebar.

SHADOWS: A JAKE SOMMES NOVEL BY DON CASTLE WINS The BestsellersWorld Award for Best Cozy Mystery - This award includes an author page on the site and the book and synopsis added to the Featured Books page for 10 days. - $125 value

LIFE WITH ANNA BY JANE KELLY WINS The Larch Hill Orchids 'Spoil An Author' Award Because authors work so hard to promote their books, they deserve to be spoiled, just a bit. One winning author will be randomly chosen from all award-winning authors, to receive an orchid from Larch Hill Greenhouse. Note that due to weather considerations, orchid will be shipped to winner in mid- April (or later if weather is severe in Massachusetts where greenhouse is located).


Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review - Murder with Ganache

Murder with Ganache: A Key West Food Critic Mystery

By: Lucy Burdette
Publisher: Obsidian
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0451465894
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 11, 2014

“Chad was a loser,” Haley’s mom self-righteously spewed out over drinks. Good to know as they say, but Haley already knew that. She’d come down to Key West with him and now he was history. There weren’t going to be any wedding bells with the guy with the “shifty eyes and the clammy handshake,” but they were going to be ringing for Connie and Ray. Connie was Haley’s best friend and she couldn’t be happier if it was happening to herself. The whole blended family was showing up for the big event. Haley’s family couldn’t be any more blended had they all been thrown into a Vitamix.

Haley’s mother was now with Sam Cooper and her father, Jim Snow, had been married to Allison for some time. Haley had always been fond of Allison’s son, Rory. Her stepbrother had long passed the cute, cuddly stage and now was a fifteen-year-old whose idea of fun was not being with the Vitamix crowd on vacation. Haley was glad to see them all when they arrived, but she had piles of work to accomplish before the wedding. A couple of hundred cupcakes had to be baked for Connie’s wedding and cooking up a food review for the “Key Zest” wasn’t too much to ask for. Haley was practically “emotionally fried” even before a single cupcake was frosted.

Jai Somers, director of Project Lighthouse, had a missing teen on her hands. Haley and Jai had become great friends and in addition to everything else she had to be on the lookout for Mariah. Rory was already MIA so adding yet another teen to scout out was nothing. Ugh! Haley asked Lieutenant Torrence for some assistance, but ultimately it ended up being a family affair as they looked for the kids. “Oh please God, let him be alive,” Allison quietly exclaimed as they spotted Rory’s seemingly lifeless body on a rusty old sailboat. He was ... barely, but there was the matter of that purloined Jet Ski and a little something else. It was a body in the mangroves. Could Haley ferret out what really happened in the mangroves before Rory ended up there too?

Haley Snow is one of those female sleuths who is easy to get hooked on. She claims that “Nothing would thwart Mom’s drive to make me a match,” but no doubt she’ll make her own. There’s just a little hint of future romance coming up that fans of the Key West Food Critic mystery series will love. This was a fun, quick read with the type of plot that definitely hooked me. There was that corpse in the mangrove, stolen treasure, and, of course, that Vitamix family who could be totally entertaining at times. A little pre-wedding catastrophe lurked in the background, making it even more interesting. Murder with Ganache was a cozy mystery with a lot of panache and Key West zest everyone will love!

Quill says: From cupcakes to corpses, Murder with Ganache is a recipe for irresistible sleuthing with Haley Snow in Key West!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Books In For Review

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

Manner-Man by Sherrill S. Cannon "I am strong, and my flash is bright, And I will defend you and make things all right." These are the magic words to call upon Manner-Man - a superhero who can help control bullies and teach children ways to be considerate of others. Manner-Man arrives, shouting "To the Rescue", helping children learn about sharing and warning about not 'hitting with words.' He teaches that if someone starts pushing, just shout out "not nice!" Meet the children who form the Manner-Man team and find out how to join! Manner-Man incorporates messages and characters found within some of Cannon's earlier books - helping children learn how to cope with bullies and look within themselves for their inner superhero!

The Dragon's Orb by J.T. Twerell In the 1970’s, France developed a nuclear missile program called the TN-90. In 1996, President Mitterand slashed the program and placed the remaining warheads in storage. Unfortunately, five of the missiles were recently “lost” and somehow North Korea “found” them. Dawn Laskey, a thirty-two year old fashion designer from New York, decides to take a vacation break to Paris where she becomes involved with Anthony Marconi, a romantic and fun–loving resident of Paris. On the last night of her vacation, she witnesses a murder and is forced to run for her life. Unknown to her, Anthony is an arms dealer with ties to North Korea and is in the midst of the theft of the TN-90 missiles. The murder she witnesses is part of Anthony’s dealings with the North Korean underground known as the Munmu Warriors, who report directly to Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea. Anthony is killed during their attempt to flee from the North Korean assassins. While Dawn escapes, the Munmu Warriors believe she is involved with Anthony and has vital information they need to complete the arming of the stolen TN-90 missiles. Fleeing to America, Dawn is now hunted by North Korea with the plan to torture her for the information. In addition, high levels of the French police discover her connection to Anthony and now want to question her. In New York, she comes under the protection of thirty-eight years old Detective Gerald Denton who tries to grasp her innocence while the international incident escalates. The story is filled with twist and turns leaving the reader riveted as Dawn tries to stay alive while very dark forces hunt her down and ultimately capture and torture her.

Simple Faith (The Peacemakers) by Anna Schmidt After losing her beloved husband and daughter and surviving Hitler’s Sobibor death camp, Quaker widow Anja Steinberg dedicates her life to helping others and keeping her son safe. As a member of the resistance, she helps displaced Allied airmen get back to their units in England. The journey is rigorous and filled with danger and there is no time for romance. Then American Peter Trent parachutes into her life. She must face facts—her heart did not die with her late husband and true love could be hers again. But will a romance hurt Peter’s chance of escape from the Nazis—and endanger her life as well?  

Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell Seventeen-year-old Cricket Montgomery was born with a silver spoon in her mouth (though Tiffany Platinum would have been preferred). So when her father rips her from her cashmere comfort zone and ships her off to work at a rural Michigan summer camp, she is less than thrilled. Adding to her horror is the arrival of two short buses and the realization that she will be a counselor to teens with special needs. What puzzles Cricket more than just a world without Vuitton bags and four-star dining, is why these “strange-faced” kids are so happy, despite their obvious differences. But between being force fed a hearty dose of reality (by a very cute co-counselor) and organizing the end-of-summer talent show, Cricket might be able to survive this summer one wheelchair spoke at a time.  

Revolutionary by Alex Myer In 1782, during the final clashes of the Revolutionary War, one of our young nation’s most valiant and beloved soldiers was, secretly, a woman. When Deborah Samson disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army, she wasn’t just fighting for America’s independence—she was fighting for her own. Revolutionary, Alex Myers’s richly imagined and meticulously researched debut novel, brings the true story of Deborah’s struggle against a rigid colonial society back to life—and with it the courage, hope, fear, and heartbreak that shaped her journey through a country’s violent birth. After years as an indentured servant in a sleepy Massachusetts town, chafing under the oppressive norms of colonial America, Deborah can’t contain her discontent any longer. When a sudden crisis forces her hand, she decides to finally make her escape. Embracing the peril and promise of the unknown, she cuts her hair, binds her chest, and, stealing clothes from a neighbor, rechristens herself Robert Shurtliff. It’s a desperate, dangerous, and complicated deception, and becomes only more so when, as Robert, she enlists in the Continental Army.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying by Carol Leifer Part memoir, part guide to life, and all incredibly funny, How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying is a book by a woman—and for women—who are driven, determined, and definitely not afraid to “lean in.” Carol Leifer is lucky to have had a long career in comedy, from 1970s stand-up to behind the scenes at Seinfeld to Academy Awards writer and beyond—but she knows better than anyone that success is more than luck. With hilarious anecdotes drawing from her tenure at Saturday Night Live, her work cocreating The Ellen Show, and her enduring friendships with fellow comedians like Larry David, Leifer presents tried-and-true tips and tricks for getting ahead, finding your way, and opening doors—even if you have to use a sledgehammer.  

The Troop by Nick Cutter Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfre. Te boys are a tight-knit crew. Tere’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well-liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked . . . It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine. And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected . . . or one another.

Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake Order dictates Tucker Carmichael’s life—his orders. On a cattle drive, a moment’s hesitation can mean death. The Chisholm Trail is dirty, dangerous, and no place for women. After years at school, Jessalyn Culpepper has come home and is determined to show everyone that a woman can manage everything from cooking to cattle—whether they like it or not! Tucker tries to manage his partner’s headstrong sister, horrified when she wants to join the cattle drive. But when they need a chuck wagon cook, Jessalyn seems the only solution. Will God stir up love along a trail filled with their Plots and Pans?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Interview with Nicole Helget

Today we're talking with Nicole Helget, author of Stillwater

FQ: I see that you wear many hats; teacher, mother, writer and still are able to get up in the morning in freezing Minnesota and go on. I really loved Stillwater and am looking forward to the next Helget book. I’m interested in the fact that you set your book mostly about the Civil War and people who lived through it in the North. Usually, Civil War books are all about the South and the Gone with the Wind characters. I realize that Minnesota is your home base but what made you use the Northwoods as the location for your book? The women were nothing like 'Scarlett.'

HELGET: Ha. No. My female characters aren’t much like Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlett. A couple of them might feel familiar to readers of William Faulkner, though. I’ve long been a fan of the gothic southern writers.

I spend a lot of time outside, and I spend a lot of time reading history (I mostly read classics, nonfiction, and poetry.) I find the combination of fresh air and historical reading to be a cosmos of literary inspiration. Many years ago, I saw a photo of a man sitting on a log, which was tangled in a log jam on the St. Croix river. Though the photo was taken in 1884, the man had a “civil war era” look to him. My mind took hold of him, and he became my Clement. Though war, its battles, statistics, maps, and colorful characters, often take up the pages of our history books, we should remember the world doesn’t stand still while we war. During the Civil War, the country moved west, set up homesteads, built towns and industry, and in many cases, created the foundations for later conflicts and later resolutions. For Stillwater, I focused on the timber industry, which brought people and money from the east to the west, which then populated the territory to the standards of statehood, which then created tension as the quickly-growing country was unprepared to a) regulate law or industry in the west, b) manage the precarious balance between slave states and free states, and c) deal with the native people who were already here and were prepared to fight for their lands.

Author Nicole Helget - photo courtesy of Nicole Helget

Not only that, but plenty of writers have written about the Civil War, and many of them have done a very fine job setting their stories in the traditional places of concern. I didn’t feel a need to contribute to that. I didn’t see a hole there. I also didn’t feel a need to write about the battles. In fact, I purposefully avoided it. While researching and preparing to write, I read a lot of soldiers’ correspondences from the Civil War. What struck me the most was the amount of sitting around in tight quarters, waiting for something to happen, that plagued the Northern soldiers in particular. The war went on for years largely because Lincoln had a terrible time finding a leader who would actually use the troops amassed. All that sitting around together spread disease, of course. And kids like Clement and Davis, who had spent all their lives in the wide-open north, were suddenly exposed to germs for which they had no immunity. That kind of thing interested me enough to write about.

FQ: An excellent beginning for Stillwater, using the birth of twins and placing one in a wealthy home while the other had to work long and hard to make his living. How did you come upon this storyline?

HELGET: If I remember right, I think the “music” of that section came to me first, as in I heard how a couple of lines were supposed to sound, and then I found the words that fit them, and they just happened to be about a young woman birthing twins. I know that sounds a little ridiculous. But that’s how poetry reading affects me. I think about the way words sound all the time. As my friend and the wonderful poet Richard Robbins often says, “Sometimes, the music makes the metaphor.” So, the twins were born in my mind because I liked the way the individual words and sentences sounded. Then, I had to figure out how to use them. I like to think that the twins become a metaphor, though it would be too ridiculous to pretend I was always thinking of this as I wrote about them. But somehow, Clement and Angel, do become a metaphor for the conflict in the whole country. One, Angel, wants to press forward with progress. The other, Clement, wants to remain rooted in tradition. Angel, whose adoptive parents are very wealthy, has her eyes on the future. She and her family are opportunists and exploiters. Clement, whose adoptive mothers are very poor, has his on the old ways and present needs. He and his parents are stewards and traditionalists.

FQ: Angel, one of the twins, is adopted by a rich family, but the mother is a little off and Clement stays at the orphanage and makes a life for himself that turns out to be a good one. How did you decide which twin was about to make mistakes and how the other would always be there to help?

Author Nicole Helget - photo courtesy © Jason Miller

HELGET: I like that Angel, who is strong and hard and determined despite having a mother who tried to poison her all the time, ends up being the one who is resolute against the odds. I like that she takes care of Clement and encourages him to toughen up and fend for himself. She’s probably partially inspired by every female relative I have. Good lord, I’ve got some tough old birds in my family. Strange though, too, because they all lived pretty traditional lives, as devoted wives and tender mothers, but they could also ring the neck of a chicken without a moment’s hesitation. Have you read Elizabeth Cady Stanton? If you haven’t, you should. She was Susan B. Anthony’s right arm. She never got the attention she deserved because she was always stuck at home tending seven children. But, she was the real voice of the suffrage movement, wrote most speeches Anthony delivered. Anyway, she’s my kind of woman. And I was reading her at the time, so some of her concerns might have gotten into Angel a little bit, too. Like Cady Stanton, Angel is physically beleaguered, but emotionally durable.

Clement is a caretaker, too, enormously concerned about the reckless clearing of the forests and clogging of the river. He also aids his mothers in their efforts to assist escaped slaves. And, most importantly, he takes the heat for Angel’s crime. He’s physically resilient, but his heart is soft.

FQ: Your research is right on the money. Living in Minnesota you probably knew the history of the Underground Railroad. Did you have a lot of research to do because you certainly did it well.

HELGET: I knew about the presence of the Underground Railroad, but it’s not a thing many people talked about here until very, very recently when the Minnesota Historical Society included a bit of it in a Civil War Exhibit. I believe I first heard it mentioned, briefly, by William Lass in a History class I took from him a really long time ago. There’s a lot more to be learned. And I know that the information is out there, but it’s waiting to be discovered, studied, and disseminated. I remember the time before the Dakota Conflict of 1862 was thoroughly studied, how there was barely a document available to study. The stories I heard about it while growing up were all anecdotal and passed down from my dad and grandma. But then, suddenly, there was a flush of renewed interest and devoted study on the topic, and now we have easily accessible manuscripts from and about that late summer tragedy. I am hoping very much that the same kind of scholarship and attention will soon come to the Underground Railroad in Minnesota.

When I first began writing Stillwater, I read an account of a young woman, Eliza Christmas, who came to Minnesota as a slave with her masters, the Winstons. While here, she was convinced to escape by free blacks already here. So, she did. Her name struck me. I remembered Joe Christmas of Faulkner’s Light in August, and she morphed into my character Eliza Winston.

FQ: I can see that you are a very busy woman and as I live with a writer (my daughter) I know writing takes up a lot of time. When do you get a chance to get any sleep?

HELGET: Well, my big joke is that I haven’t slept in 17 years, which is the age of my oldest child. But, I do sleep, of course. I come from industrious people. I associate with industrious people. I have a great affection for work. And, as any of my children or students will tell you, I go on exhaustively about the value of it.

FQ: Who is your favorite literary figure? (Thought I’d throw an easy one at you!)

HELGET: That’s not easy at all! I like Jean Valjean of Les Miserable. I like Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. I like Alexandra Bergson of O Pioneers. I like Hugh Glass of Lord Grizzly. I like Clara of Lonesome Dove. I like Per and Beret Hansa of Giants in the Earth.

FQ: Here's another easy one. My favorite question: Do you have any animals?

HELGET: Nope. Not at the moment. I do have six children, though. The final two, Archie and Gordie, fight like bear cubs. When they’re bigger, and I have a place that can hold it, I’ll have a dozen farm cats, a couple of scraggly dogs, and whatever else that wants to hang around. I have big dreams about owning a farm someday.

FQ: What a great job of writing, to take a Civil War book and use locations in the Northwoods. This is the first book about the War Between the States that I’ve read where the North is the star player. Stillwater was a pleasure to read, keep up the good work.

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review - Summer on the Short Bus

Summer on the Short Bus

By: Bethany Crandell
Illustrated By: T.L. Bonaddio
Publisher: Running Press Teens
Publication Date: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7624-4951-4
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: February 4, 2014

A plush, no-worry, carefree life was all Constance Montgomery, aka Cricket, knew and that was completely fine with her. Unfortunately, her father decides that her behavior is no longer suitable and sends her to a summer camp where she is expected to work as a counselor. Of course, Cricket fights it every step of the way and from the moment she steps out of the car she is determined to find a way out of the horrible camp. Her negative feelings are intensified as she realizes this is not your run of the mill summer camp, but a camp for special needs kids! Instantly horrified, Cricket cannot fathom any way of getting through two whole weeks at this ridiculous place and to top it all off the camp director, Rainbow, is quickly becoming the creepiest person Cricket has ever met and she cannot understand why.

The only slight glimpse of hope is an extremely cute co-counselor named Quinn who could easily pass for Zac Efron. As her attempts to escape fail, Cricket slowly begins to think that spending time here may not be as bad as she first thought. Sure her two campers that she was put in charge of still freak her out at times but she is strangely becoming used to having them around. As she slowly gets to know the people at this camp, Cricket realizes that she in fact has been living in her own bubble and really has not done anything truly worth mentioning in her life. Finally deciding that she needs to change for the better, Cricket allows herself to grow into a worthier person. A person who realizes she should find a way to contribute to the world instead of believing that she is the center of it.

I absolutely loved every page of this book! It was amazingly refreshing to read a story that included special needs children who were not portrayed through rose-colored glasses. From the very beginning the writing had me laughing out loud as the author held nothing back and that was what made it great! Bethany Crandell creates a wonderful and relatable protagonist with Cricket but even better than that, she surrounds her with equally relatable, flawed, and real characters. One of my favorite parts of this book was hearing the story of each of the other counselors which allowed Cricket to realize that they had some of the exact same reactions when they first came to work at the camp. The quirky, fun, and spirited personalities that are shown by the campers are equally incredible and truly intriguing. This is one of the few times I have seen a story that spotlights special needs kids in this way and it took all of the “political correctness” right out of the picture and allowed the reader to see each character as the human being they were. I was truly impressed with this story and could not keep the smile off my face as I read every word.

Quill says: This book is an absolute winner!

Book Review - Twister Sisters

Twisted Sisters

By: Jen Lancaster
Publisher: NAL (New American Library)
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-451-23965-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: February 4, 2014

Ah...the joys of sibling rivalry. There are many readers out there who have been the one to stand in the ever-expanding shadow of the ‘family favorite’ - the sister who seems to be accomplishing ‘SO much more than you are.’ This book not only offers the immense humor and sarcasm that will keep readers laughing over this particular situation, but also presents a real-life story when it comes to loving your sister, even while you’re dreaming of turning her on a spit above an open campfire in hell, and sitting in front of it with a bag of popcorn thoroughly enjoying the show.

In Freaky Friday style, this tale follows Reagan Bishop; a highly intelligent, highly successful woman who has literally worked her butt off to become a celebrity psychologist on a very hot and happening television show. Reagan is a massive overachiever, and it’s paid off big time. Not only that, but the show is soon bought by a national network - which will make her even more successful. The only thing she has to worry about is how to get sky-high ratings on national TV.

Of course, it turns out that she could basically become ‘Queen of the World,’ and her parents would still throw no respect her way. They actually spend too much time putting the spotlight on her younger sister, Geri, who is definitely not an overachiever...unless you call being a hairdresser who still lives with her parents an achievement.

Not only does the anger weigh on Reagan but the absolute confusion does too. She has no idea, from her view, why everyone must basically ‘hang on their hooks’ until Geri arrives so she can always be coddled and appreciated. Add these emotions in with new responsibilities at work, and really bad advice given by a New Age healer, and you have a modern-day take on the ‘switch-er-oo,’ where the underachiever and overachiever find out just how difficult it is to be them.

The mix of humor, family and love is rare in the literary world, but Lancaster has supplied it for many with her amazing books that keep you laughing until you cry, and make you see things in a whole new light. Bravo!

Quill says: Erma Bombeck, humor goddess, is up there right now laughing and clapping for this incredible author! And you can’t get a better accolade than that!

Feathered Quill's New Store for Award-Winning Books

It's here! The new Feathered Quill Book Review site's new 'store' - your one-stop shop for all the books that have won awards in our first annual book award program. The link for the store can be found on every page of our book review site.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

And The Winners Are...

Congratulations to the winners of our first annual awards program.  We had a HUGE response and our judges worked very, very hard to select the winners.  There were many top books, but we could only choose three per category.  Thanks to all the authors/publishers/publicists who nominated books.  And now, the Winners of the 2014 Feathered Quill Book Awards are:


- Best Children's Illustrated
1. Summer Saltz by Connie Sewell
The Christmas Tree Elf by Valentine D’Arcy Sheldon 
3. Murphy and the Magical Hat by Kate David

- Best Juvenile/Young Adult Non-Fiction
1. The Depth of Grace by J. Bronson Haley
2. Tails of Sweetbrier by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne 

3. Life with Anna by Jane Kelly

- Best Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction, Graphic/Anime
1. The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich 
2. 84 Ribbons by Paddy Eger
3. Fall Down Seven by Chuck Edmonson

Best Adult Fiction (General)
1. The Magdalene Mystery by Christine Sunderland 
2. Vampire Defense by James Bell
3. The Rockin
Chair by Steven Manchester

- Best Romance
1. Acadian Waltz by Alexandrea Weis 
2. Sand Dollar by Sebastian Cole
3. The Palomar Parodox by Richard Rydon

Best Mystery/Thriller
1. Natalie’s Revenge by Susan Fleet
2. Too Much Blood by Jane Bennett Munro 
3. A Wicked Thing by Michael Kasenow

Best Cozy Mystery
1. Shadows: A Jake Sommers Novel by Don Castel
2. Saving Faith by Patrick Garry
3. Off the Hook by James Twerell

Best Non-Fiction Personal (Self-Help, Memoir, Inspirational)
1. Comets Tale by Steven Wolf
2. Up and In by Steve Kubicek
3. Dogs of Proud Spirit by Melanie Sue Bowles

Best Non-Fiction Informational (Business, History, Parenting)
1. Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
2. COMPASS: Creating Exceptional Organizations by William F. Brandt, Jr.
3. The Impending Monetary Revolution by Edmund Contoski

Best Short Story
1. So Too My Love by Harvey Goodman 
2. Reflections of Life by Jon Nelson
3. Remnant by Roland 

- Best Historical (both historical fiction and non-fiction)
1. The Warsaw Conspiracy by James Conroyd Martin 
2. Visibly Struck by Steve Kubicek
3. Law of the Desert Born by Beau L’Amour

Best Humor
1. The Seraph Contingency: Anael’s Tale by Jennifer Fales
2. Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captian Coytus by Alex Mueck
3. The Lost Mind of Buffalo Morgan by Barry Hemmerle

Best Animal - Children's and YA
1. The Gentle Beagle by Karen Roberts
2. The Little Blue Dog Goes to School by Karen Roberts 

3. The Story of Moses by Jennifer Talbot Ross

Best Animal - Adult (both fiction and non-fiction)
1. Comet’s Tale by Steven Wolf
2. The Belair Stud by Kimberly Gatto
3. The Dogs of Proud Spirit by Melanie Sue Bowles