Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review - Murder on the Naval Base

Murder on the Naval Base

By: Behcet Kaya
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 9781495478598
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: July 31, 2014

Lieutenant Anderson Garret is devastated when he realizes his wife Bevin has been having an affair with a man he considered one of his greatest friends, Charles McPhearson. Bevin was the only woman Anderson had ever felt comfortable enough with to share his life, while many great memories were made with Charles and his family spending countless vacations together, but now Anderson is feeling betrayed by the two people he trusted most in this world. Not only has this affair been going on for a while but it adds salt to the wound when he finds out they were together briefly even before Anderson and Bevin were married. Yes, Anderson was upset and thought about confronting the two of them about this situation but committing murder was not an option he was considering. However, when both Bevin and Charles are shot and killed in broad daylight at the Officers’ club, all evidence and eye witness accounts points straight to Anderson. With no knowledge of what just happened Anderson is apprehended by the local police and charged with the murder of his wife and former friend.

When the trial begins the prosecuting team throws every detail out that they can, trying to convince the jury that the anger Anderson felt about the affair was enough to brutally kill the two people who were closest to him. Even though Anderson knows he did not do anything of the sort he begins to feel that proving his innocence will be next to impossible. The odds become better however, when an anonymous person pays for Anderson to have one of the best defense attorneys in the nation to represent him. Will it be enough, however, to convince the jury to decide Anderson is not guilty? Anderson’s freedom is on the line but with no other obvious suspects the defense team will have to dig deep in order to uncover the truth about this murder.

From the very first page this book had me hooked as it begins with a bang by laying out and describing the murder which had me instantly turning pages as quickly as I could. I was intrigued as I continued to read about the background of each character and the events leading up to the pivotal murder, and with a mystery book I think that is the greatest part. It is so much fun for me as a reader to feel as if I am putting together clues and facts just as the characters are but still be in the dark on a few secrets. That is exactly what Behcet Kaya did with this book as he included little details that help the reader put together pieces of the puzzle, but not enough to give anything vital away. In addition, while the opening to the story was definitely exciting, the ending had me biting my nails as there were so many unexpected twists that I completely did not see coming. This made for an amazing conclusion!

Quill says: A thrilling murder mystery that delivered non-stop secrets from beginning to end.
For more information on Murder on the Naval Base, please visit the author's website at:

Book Review - Sports Illustrated Kids What are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports

Sports Illustrated Kids What are the Chances? The Wildest Plays in Sports

By: Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids
Publisher: Sports Illustrated
Publication Date: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1618933744
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 2014

There are bloopers and then there are some of those really mega-cool things that happen now and then in sports. There are rare, really rare, almost impossible, and those close, but no cigar “never happened” events we all wished for. Maybe you weren’t around to watch Micheal Williams in action, but he almost made 100 free throws in a row. Missed it by only three, but Micheal made the record books for something that never happened. Ooooh, ahhh! So sorry, Micheal. There’s another Michael (different spelling) for a super rare feat that probably won’t be seen again any time soon. Michael Jordan scored more than 3,000 points in one season, 3,041 to be exact. Way to go, Michael!

Some people sit around reading record books, but if you watch your favorite teams in action long enough you just might see something that will make it into a book. You into hockey big time? Maybe you were on hand to watch Semyon Varlamov as he “became the 47th goalie in NHL history to reach 40 wins in a season.” That’s one Colorado Avalanche player who no one can put anything over on. How about baseball? Now that’s one sport that has more than a handful of fans. Garret Anderson was some hot when he belted in ten RBIs in a game. If you’re a Los Angeles Angels fan, you’ll never forget that game. Neither will the New York Yankees because that “really rare” feat handed them a loss.

Basketball, hockey, baseball, golf, tennis, soccer, and football are all sports that have those moments we all love to watch. Sometimes those “never happened” moments are just as awesome as the ones that did. Hey, where’s bowling? Yes, that sport is in here too because there’s a lot of fans who watch the players closely. If you love golf and enjoy getting in a few games now and then, you probably have checked out Yusaku Miyazato’s record. Now he “became the second golfer to make two holes-in-one in the same round of a PGA Tour tournament” in 2006. Now that was almost impossible, but Yusaku did it. Twice in the same round probably even surprised him.

Young sports fans and fanatics will love to see their favorites in action. Some are way before their time, while there are other way wild accomplishments they may have seen with their very own eyes. Things are wild and wacky in this book, just what the sports lovers love to see. Of course you don’t have to be young to enjoy this book, but being a kid at heart like me certainly helps. The eye-popping layout with lots of action-packed photographs certainly livens things up. Baseball, basketball, football, and hockey are heavily featured, but that’s where the high interest lies for the intended reader. It’s definitely a fun book that will find its way into the hands of even the most reluctant readers. In the back is an index that will point the way to some of those record-breaking players and those who didn’t quite make it.

Quill says: This book has everything from the rare to the “never happened” wild n’ wacky sports events young readers will love!

Book Review - Sports Illustrated Kids Football: Then to WOW!

Sports Illustrated Kids Football: Then to WOW!

By: The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids
Publisher: Sports Illustrated
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-1618931160
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 31, 2014

We all know that in football a touchdown is four points. No, not so. How about five? No, not so. It’s now six points, but it wasn’t always. Over the years there have been lots of changes in the rules, starting in 1878 when that touchdown went up to five points. Over the decades, right up to the Tuck Rule in 2013, football has seen all kinds of changes and not just in the rule department. Everything from the very ball players have used to the stadiums they play in have undergone some form of change. Way back in 1892, William (Pudge) Heffelfinger made a whole $500 for playing football. Do you know what your favorite player makes? Not chump change like Pudge made.

There are plenty of betcha-didn’t-know facts in this book. For example, if you take a look at an NFL football you’ll see the signature of the NFL commissioner on the ball. On the other side is “THE DUKE.” Hmmmm, now that is an odd one, but if you are an NFL history buff, you’d know that it’s in “honor of New York Giants owner Wellington (Duke) Mara.” This book is so full of fun facts and trivia anyone reading it will be surprised at what they don’t know. A lot of players had nicknames as well. White Shoes, Ickey, Whizzer, and A.D. are just a few of them. Recognize any of these players?
Starting with the “Basics,” this book starts from day one of football and runs, passes, and snaps its way to the present-day game. Just imagine a bunch of guys sitting around a table with Walter Camp making up the rules. Fast forward to fantasy football and you’ll realize just how big and popular the game really is. In between there are the players, the equipment, those rules (again), technology, records, positions, and soooo much more! Oh, yes, forgot those coaches and their styles. There are the “master motivators,” the masterminds, and the taskmaster. If you’re a football fanatic, let’s just say you might like this book. Well, maybe love it.

This book pops in more ways than one. The layout breathes life into the game and makes it come alive for the young reader. Even the most reluctant readers will be drawn to the eye-popping, action-packed photographs and all those fantastic football facts. There are four basic chapters that cover the basics of the game, the players, strategies, and take a look at how fans enjoy the game. There are photographs galore, line drawings, illustrated timelines, and captions that add some very interesting information to the book. The book is a lot of fun, but most certainly a learning experience that everyone from the football fanatic to the ordinary fan will get a kick out of!

Quill says: This is one book that kids from nine to ninety just won’t be able to put down!

Book Review - Discovery Snakeopedia

Discovery Snakeopedia: The Complete Guide to Everything Snakes-Plus Lizards and More Reptiles

By: Discovery Channel
Publisher: Time Home Entertainment
Publication Date: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1603209908
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: July 2014

Ever dream of becoming a herpetologist? Maybe you don’t even know what that is, but if not you probably know if you are into spiders ‘n snakes. Maybe lizards, turtles, tortoises, crocs, and gators have that wow factor for you too. If they don’t, just walk way away from this book fast because there are loads of them in this book! Pssssss ... this book is for snake lovers who want to know more about their favs. Everyone has heard of rattlers, but did you know that “some fiddlers and banjo players put [their] rattles inside their instruments?” No! Yes, and that’s just one interesting fact you’ll discover about snakes inside this book. Some of the facts are just eeew, but some are mega-cool.

There is a bit of science behind snakes and a few unfamiliar words that will pop right out at you. You’ll quickly learn that the snake is from a class of animals we call Reptilia. Next you’ll slither over into a section about their taxonomy, a “way of organizing our natural world.” If you don’t know about their kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and their species, you will after you study a bit about them. Perhaps you just want to look at snakes, but that’s not a problem. There are a ton of them to look at. You’ll be able to pore over blind snakes, shield-tailed snakes, pipe snakes, sunbeam snakes, pythons (oh, yeah!), boas, wood snakes, file snakes, and more!

Venom is so not cool if you get a snake bite, but awesome to learn about. There are even different varieties. They are called neurotoxins, cytotoxins, cardiotoxins, and hemotoxins. Did you know that “the same snake venom that can kill people can also save them?” It can. You’ll learn about the anatomy from head to the end of that tail in snakes, not just those fangs. Some snakes even have the remnants of legs, but if you want to know more about that, you’ll just have to read this book. Crocs are cool too, but you probably won’t see one until you head to Africa, but you might see a gator. One thing for sure is that you’ll see lots of critters in this book!

This is one eye-popping book that will keep any young snake lover turning the pages. It’s an encyclopedic book that is loaded with facts and photos that will not only amaze, but also educate. The layout of the book is alive with Reptilia slithering, sliding, and staring at us from the pages. The book is peppered with numerous informative sidebars that add a lot to the book. For example, there’s one on mamba legends that debunk some and lend a bit of credence to a couple of others. There are “Did you Know?,” “Word!,” “Star” sidebars, and “Fang Fact” sections that are short, sweet, and add to the experience. In the back of the book are activities, a section on how children can help reptiles, reptile resources, and additional recommended book resources to explore.

Quill says: This is one fangtastic book that young snake lovers everywhere will go wild over!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Interview with Author Scott Pinsker

Today we're talking with Scott Pinsker, author of The Second Coming: A Love Story

FQ: I would like to begin with the character of David Shepherd. He is a very outspoken individual, strong and forthright, so much so it sounds a lot like he is a preacher. Does this character have any special meaning for you? Such as, is David the person delivering your own personal views while being the "verbal sharpshooter" as you refer to him in the novel?

PINSKER: Just like his Biblical namesake (which wasn't coincidental; all the characters in The Second Coming: A Love Story are modern updates of Bible characters), David is a warrior with blood on his hands. He's never been able to forgive or forget those who've wronged him, and he's as much defined by his insecurities as he is by his strengths. By trade, David Shepherd is a speechwriter for far-left causes, and you're correct: He's almost evangelical in his bloodlust to out-preach, outduel and outgun his (perceived) enemies. On the surface he's witty and charming - a hip, trendy Washingtonian who'd be a blast to gossip with at a DC cocktail party - but a river of unresolved rage is always bellowing below.

As for the second part of your question, no, David wasn't echoing my personal beliefs. None of the characters are. I know this sounds peculiar, especially since it's fashionable for authors to use their stories as a personal soapbox, but it was never my intent to apostatize for ANY ideology, theology or denomination. This novel is an elaborate thought-experiment about religion, politics and the human condition - and all the characters are tools to unlock the Almighty's most vexing secrets. They're rats in a maze, all searching for the same thing, but searching in very different directions.

The Second Coming: A Love Story will directly challenge your belief in God, humanity and the meaning of life... but beyond that, I have no interest in arguing to the death about what happens after you die. That's your burden, not mine.

Author Scott Pinsker

FQ: The points given in the story are certainly present-day truths. When you look at churches/organizations in the 21st century, do you believe there are those that still were made to basically prey on the people who feel hopeless in order to get the congregation they want? And is it really all just for cash, or do you believe there are good souls out there who mean what they say?

PINSKER: No, it's not always about the money. I'm not that cynical. Instead of casting blanket dispersions on the sincerity of religious men and women, I prefer to take them at their word.
Not all, of course... but most.

Faith-based charities are responsible for a remarkable degree of good worldwide, and we should all applaud them for it. Still, one can't help but remember Harper Lee's words in To Kill a Mockingbird: "Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle." Religion surely makes many people better, but it also makes a percentage far worse - and infinitely more dangerous.

FQ: Do you believe humanity will face Armageddon at some point? And what will be the turning point to make that happen, considering horrific things are happening and have been for hundreds of years?

PINSKER: As our weaponry and scientific sophistication increases, our margin of error proportionally decreases. Deadlier firepower raises the stakes - and we've reached the evolutionary tipping point when we can genetically modify viruses, split atoms in suitcase bombs, and hover armed drones over unsuspecting citizens. War and conflict have always been part of the human condition, but never before have the keys to extinction been in so many hands.

We're standing at the threshold of a great gateway - and the Sword of Damocles is swinging overhead. I don't advise wearing a top-hat.

The author with his best buddy

FQ: It is extremely interesting that you used the pulpit to separate the people; using the congregations as left-wing versus right. Which may just upset some readers...wondering which group followed the evil side. Do you believe that politics is like religion? After all, the leader of the free world holds power, and can pick and choose a great many times when it comes to ruining or bettering humanity.

PINSKER: We might be able to separate church from state, but it's impossible to separate God from politics. Our entire theory of American government is predicated on the belief that God has endowed man with certain inalienable rights - which was a shocking declaration to other nations, who still insisted that rights were bestowed by the whims of a Monarch. Even the constitutional provision of impeachment closely mirrors the Biblical belief in regicide: On occasion, Judeo-Christian morality demanded the deaths of Kings. (Benjamin Franklin wryly noted that the impeachment clause was considerably more beneficial to a President than anyone else - because without it, the only recourse for a President's removal would be the removal of his head.)

Interestingly, if pro is the opposite of con...then wouldn't the opposite of constitution be prostitution?
In The Second Coming: A Love Story, the culture war between Red America and Blue America explodes, and there's never any hope for reconciliation. Since we're already demonizing one another on a daily basis...what would we do when a REAL Demon appears? The hardcore left that hated George W. Bush and the hardcore right that despises Barack Obama have one big thing in common: No matter WHAT happens, the most dastardly motive that could possibly be ascribed to the other side is the one that MUST be true! This is the new American default setting, and there's an intrinsic danger to perpetually thinking the worst about your countrymen.

FQ: How do you think social media changes humanity for good or bad?

PINSKER:L Social media hasn't changed who we are as a people, but it's greatly accelerated our tribalization. A conservative in Red America will see, hear, eat and drink something completely different than a liberal in Blue America. This insularism reinforces our differences, expanding and exasperating the cultural divide. We spend more time in our self-imposed echo chambers than in the outside world.

Before the rise of the World Wide Web and social media, there was far greater cultural conformity. We all sampled and shared the flavors of society's top tastemakers. Red America and Blue America overlapped constantly. Everyone knew about The Beatles, who shot J.R., Michael Jackson's moonwalk and why Johnny Carson hated Joan Rivers.

That’s not the case anymore.

With the Internet, Facebook feeds, digital downloads and all the social media sites, a person can fully immerse himself in his tribal passions 24/7. There is no popular culture; it's all just cult culture. And as The Second Coming: A Love Story explores, who better to exploit cult culture than a cultist?

FQ: And, considering the plot of the story, I must ask: If you could ask Him one question, what would it be?

PINSKER: Hmm... I'd ask God, "What should I do to be a better father?" I have two little boys, and being a good Daddy is the most important thing in the world to me. (Or maybe as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I'd ask him why He's clearly CURSED Tony Romo...? Argh!)

FQ: And...what would you hope His answer would be?

PINSKER: Imagine if God simply answered, "You're doing good, Scott. I love you and I'm proud of you." What could be better than that?

To learn more about The Second Coming: A Love Story please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Book Review - A Pinch of Ooh La La

A Pinch of Ooh La La 

By: Renee Swindle
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-451-41665-0
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 29, 2014

Renee Swindle’s latest novel, A Pinch of Ooh La La is a delicious page-turner!
Oakland, California bakery owner Abbey Ross needs more than a pinch of ‘ooh la la’ to jump-start her stagnant love life. Four years is more than enough time to lament over what could have been since she and the womanizing love of her life, artist Avery, parted ways. Besides, his cheating ways were foundational in Abbey picking herself up and starting over. After successfully completing her culinary studies in France, she returns to Oakland and opens her bakery, Scratch. Business was great and life was better than fine. At least she thought it was. Her best friend Bendrix had a thing or two to say about this...

Midnight wanderers and grafitti ‘tag masters’ of the inner city abandoned buildings of days gone by, Abbey and Bendrix had come a long way from those high school days. In many respects, their lives were on a parallel course. It seems Bendrix was lacking in the love category too after his lover Anthony moved on. Not important... keep the focus off him and on Abbey. When Bendrix convinces Abbey to sign up on an online dating service, little did she know how soon the boomerang would return with Mr. Perfect, Samuel Howard.
Organized chaos is an apt description of Abbey’s family. Most children have one mother and one father. While Abbey may have had only one father, she had more than enough mothers (five, actually). Then there were her siblings...more than a gaggle ranging in ages from their thirty’s down to infancy. It was a family filled with love, harmony, and a whole lotta jazz. Her dad was famed jazz master, Lincoln Ross and music was the end all, be all. Perhaps it was time for Abbey to take a closer look at the reasons why she may have been looking (and finding) love in all the wrong places...

After reading A Pinch of Ooh La La, Ms. Swindle’s first two novels (Please Please Please and Shake Down the Stars), are now on my list of must reads! To say this book is hilariously funny is an understatement. Without giving a spoiler of the opening scene, the subject matter of the conversation that unfolds between characters Abbey and Bendrix is nothing less than brilliant humor. Renee Swindle knows how to set up a scene and infuse dialogue that puts the reader in the moment. She has exceptional ability when it comes to writing believable dialogue. Each character has an audible voice. I connected often with her characters and could imagine myself into the very places and scenes she described. Her conversational tone is spot on. The larger than life jazz talent of character Lincoln Ross is beyond credible given the attention and detail Swindle carefully crafted in developing his persona and musical talent. It is abundantly clear that she not only did her homework in researching the history of some of the jazz greats, but her love of the music affirms the tangible connection she has with this character in particular. This book gets an A+ in delivering what a book is supposed to deliver: the perfect 'escape.' Thank you for a fantastic read Ms. Swindle!

Quill says: A Pinch of Ooh La La is a sassy blend of love and family and a book that will have you laughing out loud on more than one occasion before you get to 'The End.'

Book Review - The Second Coming: A Love Story

The Second Coming: A Love Story 

By: Scott Pinsker
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: June 2014
ISBN: 978-1-5001-6721-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 29, 2014

Armageddon is here. People are being looked at by both ‘sides’ – as demons and angels take in the behavior, prejudice, bias, and the complete flaws of the humans around them.
In the beginning of this tale, readers meet up with an odd duo of the Archangel Gabriel and Archdemon Abaddon. Standing in the sunrise looking around at humanity, Gabriel is, as always, the intelligent one who attempts to defend, whereas Abaddon speaks of the fact that atheism still astounds him. It is a wonder, a disbelief to him that people should go about their working days, make advances in science, medicine and more, yet do not have the brainpower to figure out there is a God.

As the universal good guys versus bad guys scenario commences, readers are introduced to David Shepherd. He is a voice, a loud voice that makes sure to speak out about the issues. He loves the debate, and his boyfriend, Michael Waters, stands in the shadow of David’s voice – a man who feels uncomfortable with pain, hurt, and definitely confrontation. David gets into a debate with a minister on the corner who’s preaching and attempting to make people stop and listen – make them take the time to realize that they need Jesus in their lives. David disagrees, in his own way. However...the minister he battles is nothing but a man, and he is about to meet up with a powerful charmer who invites he and Michael to a church service. This stranger seems to be far more than just a man and welcomes David and Michael to the revolution.
From this point on, characters arise from the pages that cover all walks of life. A woman who believes in justice and worked hard to become a lawyer who actually defends those who would have been eaten alive by judge and jury simply because of bigotry; but she also is living with the fact that she has defended guilty parties along the way. A stranger appears to her, as well. Walking into the bar where she sits, he speaks words that make her give up her career on the spot, choosing to follow this man named ‘Joe.’
People become followers of a church like others that cropped up in the 20th century; an organization where a congregation of people grow larger by the day, following a leader who is more interested in the cash he can get than the actual saving of souls.

The plot is a simple one; appearances can deceive and people are different. Different backgrounds, different beliefs – some have gone through such hard times that they need support, they need someone to listen to, even if that person is a fake. And there are those who believe whole-heartedly, yet wear blinders to the negative things happening in the world. Two strangers enter these peoples’ lives. One of these men is actually the savior they’ve been waiting for; but the other is saying he is the one, and offers the same saving grace. So, which one is true and who do you follow? The point is...if two people are preaching goodness, and both accusing the other of being evil, how do you know which is which?

This book has some true nuggets of gold inside its pages. Among the frequent sarcasm and pessimism, which is warranted, the reader can find brilliance if they set aside the diatribes, and overlook the cover. Each ‘messiah’ in the novel truly pertains to something political. One messiah attracts the left-wing whereas the other attracts the grassroots followers. Therefore, religion and politics are brought together in a unique way.

Quill says: In the end, this is one book that is exactly like its own plot – you will either love it, or hate it; but either way, you should hear it. 

For more information on The Second Coming: A Love Story, please visit the book's website at:

Book Review - Beetle Boy

Beetle Boy 

By: Margaret Willey
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4677-2639-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Date: July 29, 2014

A book came along in the literary world back in January of this year titled, Four Secrets, and when that title hit the shelves, the word ‘beautiful’ was used a great deal. The reason for this is because of this amazing author: She took a story, a point from real, everyday teenage life, and made it into a source of entertainment and support all at the same time. Now she’s done it again, and this new incredible read will appear on shelves in September.

This tale opens with Charlie Porter. A haunted young man, he has become used to popping pills and having odd dreams. His head is a playground for bad thoughts...and small nuggets of happiness buried so far within that it’s hard for him to even see them anymore. In a cast from an Achilles tendon tear, Clara, his girlfriend, watches out for him. She is a young woman who likes to ask questions; to probe into someone’s psyche in order to learn more...or, perhaps, just be closer to Charlie. But when she hears him call out his brother’s name during his sleep, that one word causes the entire past to come to light.

Charlie Porter has a gift. He was thrust into the spotlight at a very young age, becoming an author while still a kid. The story was told to him by his mother, and it caught on with one and all, even though it was originally meant to simply stop his father from weeping and feeling bad. The story was about a beetle, and became so popular that there was even a beetle costume made for school events, etc. But what would be happy to some, was not a blessing to Charlie. Now that he’s eighteen, he is still plagued by the beetle, as if it’s some sort of enemy that will take his life away.

What is slowly unearthed is a boy who lived in a broken home. A father, a brother, and a mother who took off, and Charlie must come to terms with the facts of a disjointed past, where small rays of light do poke through the dark clouds every once in a while. Above all, Charlie must find a way to move on – leaving the beetle behind so that he can change his future so it does not mimic the past.

Willey is a great author; she can weave sadness, trauma and tragedy with light, kindness and hope absolutely flawlessly. This allows readers to cry, but tears of faith, not pain. The story is open, fresh, and literally holds one of ‘those’ lines that you will remember long after you’re done with the book: “Good luck with your childhood.”

Goodness knows, it has certainly become one of (if not the most) toughest time life has to offer.

Quill says: One word: Brilliant!

Book Review - My Fingerpaint Masterpiece

My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication Date: January 2014
ISBN: 978-1628572889
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 28, 2014
Have you ever wandered into an art show, spotted a 'modern' painting, with blobs of color going every which way, and wondered what made it a 'work of art'? In this delightful story, we see how one fingerpainting found it's way to a grown-up art show, adorned with a blue ribbon.

My Fingerpaint Masterpiece begins in a school art class. Our young protagonist is given a project - use fingerpaint to create something that you see in your imagination. The aspiring artist dabs some green on the paper, then some red, but before the project is complete, the bell rings. The unfinished picture is carefully packed up to bring home, but on the way, a gust of wind speeds by and blows the painting away.
Our young artist watches as the painting floats away, high up in the sky. Where will it land? As the wind dies down, the painting gently lands right in front of the local art dealer's store, The Rainbow Connection. In fact, it didn't just land in front of the store, but on top of a pile of paintings an artist was gathering together to submit to the store. This artist doesn't notice the addition to his pile and while the young child would like to see what will happen, it's about to rain AND it's dinnertime. Better hurry home!

Later that week, Mom and child head to the mall where (surprise!) there's an art exhibit and what should be prominently displayed but the fingerpainting, matted, framed, and about to receive a blue ribbon! Wow! The reactions of judges and spectators are priceless, with many people trying to figure out the message in the painting. Beauty definitely is in the 'eye of the beholder'!!!

This book is fun, fun, fun! Told in perfectly flowing rhyme, the text never feels forced:

Then right in the middle, I put a red blob
'Cause I wasn't quite sure how to best draw my dog;
But then the bell rang, so I put things away
And never got back to my picture that day.

The story moves quickly and manages to impart an important message too. While our young artist wasn't quite finished with the 'masterpiece' and did intend to make that red blob a dog, the judges and people watching the judging process saw things much differently. The judges saw "...creative texture and brush strokes ... its deep inner meaning ... quite clear." The crowd cheers while our young artist wonders why people see a flower, or the sky, when it's just the dog. A nice additional touch to My Fingerpaint Masterpiece is that the main character is never identified. A girl? A boy? The reader can imagine it either way; a nice fit for young readers. Finally, the artwork, by Kalpart (not one person but rather a group of illustrators who specialize in children's books), is cheerful, vibrant (I LOVE the actual 'masterpiece' - heck, I'd hang it in my office), and fits the story perfectly. All around, this is a 5-star 'masterpiece.'

Quill says: This book is pure magic! Inspire your children with this wonderful tale of a 'Fingerpaint Masterpiece.'

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Books In For Review

Some really interesting looking books have just arrived for review.  Check them out and then stop by in a few weeks to read the reviews!

McKay and the Magical Hat by Kate David McKay and the Magical Hat is another engaging story with a magical theme from award-winning author, Kate David. In this second book from "the magical hat" series, readers are reintroduced to Murphy and meet her younger sister, McKay. Sparked by a conversation with a little boy at school, McKay wonders what she can be when she grows up? Is there something she is destined to become? Are there things she can't be? As readers begin McKay's imaginative journey where she explores some of the many things she can be when she grows up, they may find themselves reconsidering their own stereotypes about careers little girls dream to have. Where will McKay's imagination take her? What will McKay decide to be when she grows up?

Santa Rita Stories by Andrew J. Rodriguez Welcome to Santa Rita, a Cuban fishing town populated by a colorful cast of saints and sinners, con men and fishermen, athletes and hunchbacks, politicians and priests...where everyone eventually knows everyone else's business and the collective memory reaches backward for generations. To help him unravel the deeply rooted traditions and gossip of this tropical melting pot, fifteen-year-old Carlos turns often to his friend Pedro, a foul-smelling, cigar-chomping vagrant who lives on the docks and is affectionately known as el Viejo-the Old Man. In the course of ten linked stories, Andy Rodriguez brings to vivid life the rhythms of daily life in mid-1950's Cuba, and the transition from Carlos's carefree, nurturing childhood to his awakening to the responsibilities-and possibilities-of young manhood. Carlos resists authority; but he can't resist Pedro's wisdom as the Old Man dispenses advice about everything from the proper method of romantic kissing, to how to avoid judging a book by its cover-dramatized by a tale of Ernest Hemingway and an encounter with a Nazi spy. By the final story, just as Carlos longs to escape the restrictions of a small town and spread his wings in the big city of Havana, we also long, right along with him, to linger forever in the magical, love-filled world of Santa Rita. In the course of ten linked stories, Andy Rodriguez brings to life the rhythms of daily life in mid-1950s Cuba, and the transition from Carlos's carefree, nurturing childhood to his awakening to the responsibilities--and possibilities--of young manhood. Carlos resists authority; but he can't resist Pedro's wisdom as the Old Man dispenses advice about everything from the proper method of romantic kissing, to how to avoid judging a book by its cover--dramatized by a tale of Ernest Hemingway and an encounter with a Nazi spy.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Reality Shock! by Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Reality Shock! is the 2015 edition of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! bestselling annual series. This incredible collection is loaded with unbelievable facts, amazing stories, and incredible animals. With amazing photography, zany stories and unbelievable facts and figures, this book is sure to be a favorite with adults and children alike. Reality Shock! Is filled with more of the amazing facts, unbelievable stories and extraordinary photography that makes Ripley’s Believe It or Not! so popular. Read all about the amazing things that people all over the world have done- from insane stunts to crazy traditions. Take a closer look at the extraordinary images nature produces, such as mutated animals and amazingly impossible vistas. Crystal clear photography paired with zany stories, amazing facts and figures that are undeniably true but incredibly hard to believe will make this book a must have for every household.

Basil Instinct by Shelley Costa In this second cozy mystery series that started with You Cannoli Die Once, a chef and her cousins launch their own investigation when a new sous chef turns up dead in their Italian restaurant. When Chef Eve Angelotta’s grandmother, Maria Pia, is invited to join Belfiere, a secret all-female Italian culinary society, Eve is concerned. Rumor has it that membership is lifelong—whether you like it or not. Eve and her cousin Landon try to research Belfiere, but all they come up with is a two-year-old blog entry warning against the two-hundred-year-old society that centers around meals inspired by famous female poisoners. Soon after, Eve’s new sous chef turns up dead just inside the front door of Miracolo, Eve’s restaurant. When they discover the sous chef had connections to Belfiere, Eve and her Italian cousins start a mission to find out what happened—before Maria Pia is made an offer she can’t refuse.

Prism by Roland Allnach Prism presents the best of Roland Allnach's newest stories together with his most acclaimed published short fiction. These selected stories fracture the reader's perceptions among a dazzling array of genres and styles to illuminate the mysterious aspects of the human experience.

Grandma, Aren't You Glad...the World's Finally in Color Today! by Lori Stewart We all can imagine what children think when they first see the old black and white family photos hanging in the hallway, framed on the mantle, or carefully tabbed into place in the family photo album. It s certainly enough to make grandchildren say, Aren't you glad the world's finally in color today! Grandma, Aren't You Glad The World's Finally in Color Today! is a story in rhyme that takes readers on a then and now journey through time. Narrated by a grandmother, the story compares her own mother's life and times to those of her grandchildren. Side by side vintage and full color photos contrast fashion, schools, transportation, entertainment, technology, culture and the arts from the Great Depression and World War II years to those of today. This book creates an opportunity for readers to share their own family tree, and gives grandparents a way to start conversations about who we are and where we came from, and fulfill their role as family historian.

The Book Stops Here: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle You never know what treasures can be found in someone’s attic. Unfortunately for bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, some of them are worth killing for. Brooklyn Wainwright is thrilled to be appearing on the San Francisco edition of the hit TV show This Old Attic as a rare-book expert and appraiser. Her first subject is a very valuable first-edition copy of the classic children’s story The Secret Garden, which is owned by a flower vendor named Vera. Once she hears what her book is worth, Vera is eager to have Brooklyn recondition it for resale. But after the episode airs, a furious man viciously accosts Brooklyn, claiming that Vera found the first edition at his garage sale, and he wants it back—or else. Brooklyn is relieved that she’s put The Secret Garden in a safe place, but Randolph Rayburn, the handsome host of This Old Attic, is terrified by the man’s threats. He confides in Brooklyn that he fears he is being stalked. He doesn't know who might have targeted him, or why. In the days that follow, several violent incidents occur on the set, and Brooklyn is almost killed, leaving both her and her security expert boyfriend, Derek, shaken. Is someone after Brooklyn and the book? Or has Randolph’s stalker become more desperate? And then Brooklyn visits Vera’s flower shop…and discovers her dead. Is the murderer one of the two obvious suspects, or is something more sinister—even bizarre—going on? Brooklyn had better find the clever killer soon or more than her chance at prime time may be canceled…permanently.

Conversion by Katherine Howe CONVERSION follows a group of teenage girls who must uncover the real reason behind a mysterious outbreak at their high school.

The Good Know Nothing: A California Century Mystery by Ken Kuhlken During the summer of 1936, destitute farmers from the Dust Bowl swarm into California, and an old friend brings police detective Tom Hickey a manuscript, a clue to the mystery of his father Charlie’s long-ago disappearance. Tom chooses to risk losing his job and family to follow this lead. Even his oldest friend and mentor, retired cop Leo Weiss, opposes Tom’s decision. Why so passionately? Tom lures the novelist B. Traven to a meeting on Catalina and accuses him of manuscript-theft and homicide. Traven replies that the Sundance Kid, having escaped from his reputed death in Bolivia, killed Charlie. Tom crosses the desert to Tucson, tracking the person or ghost of the legendary outlaw, and meets a young Dust Bowl refugee intent on avenging the enslavement of his sister by an L.A. cop on temporary border duty in Yuma. Tom frees the sister, delivers the boy's revenge, and becomes a fugitive, wanted for felony assault by the L.A.P.D., his now former employer. What he learns in Tucson sends Tom up against powerful newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. He hopes to enlist Leo, but instead Leo offers evidence that Tom's father was a criminal. For Tom and his sister, both victims of Charlie’s wife, their crazy mother, what now? This is the final chapter in the Hickey saga that ranges across the 1900s, the California Century.

Sports Illustrated Kids What are the Chances? The Odds of Everything in Sports by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids How often do golfers make a hole in one? What are the chances you'll catch a foul ball at a baseball game? How often do Number 1 draft picks become Super Bowl winners? This book is the perfect combination of little-known stats, amazing plays, and fun facts. Not only will we address all the burning questions that curious sports fans want to know, this book will highlight some incredible moments and underscore exactly how special those highlight-reel plays are.

Sports Illustrated Kids Football: Then to WOW! by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids See how all aspects of football have evolved in this highly visual book filled with history and trivia about the game. You'll see a football transform before your eyes from a melon-like ball crudely stitched together to the aerodynamic pigskin it is today; or watch as a quarterback evolves from a scrawny helmetless player of the 1930s to a hulking play caller of the modern era. From rules to equipment to the all-time greats, this book is a journey through the game spanning the years

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review - Surviving 26th Street

Surviving 26th Street

By: Carol June Stover
Publisher: PublishAmerica, LLLP
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1630041021
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 23, 2014

Carol June Stover's second novel, Surviving 26th Street, is a candid work of fiction that focuses on the life of 'good wife' character, Laura Justice. While she may be happy with her title of mom and homemaker, her dream is to do more. However, the only place for a woman in the '50's was in the home.

Laura Justice's life wasn't necessarily the life she envisioned. After college, she experienced her first taste of independence. When she reconnects with Winton Justice, the last thing she imagined was he would eventually be her husband. She couldn't figure out Winton's draw-the sex? Or maybe it was his attentiveness during their courting stage that hooked her. No matter, once married, they packed up their worldly possession and headed for New York. The year is 1954 and Winton's 'can do' attitude was all Laura needed to follow him to the ends of the earth.

In the beginning, Winton was everything a good husband and provider could possibly be. He secured the perfect nest egg for his growing family in the quaint northern suburb of Mayfair, New Jersey. After his New York based advertising business implodes, Winton wastes no time moving on to the next hair-brained scheme. It's 1954 and a warm summer day. Nine-year-old Jane Justice sits in the usual place on their front porch of their 26th Street home. She knows her job: eyes on five-year-old Denton, her brother, and wait for the shouting match between her mother and father to die down before going back inside. When Winton announces his next sure fired answer to reaping millions and that the scheme includes sloth-like Hubert Hubley, it's only a matter of time before constant chaos pays a visit to the Justice home front.

Ms. Stover accomplished the task of writing a book that (I imagine) depicts what it must have been like to be a woman/mother in the 1950's. There is more than a sublime message throughout her novel that delivers a distinct message of: Women of the 50's were permitted to covet a career, but the reality was they were destined for nothing more than rearing children and making sure dinner was on the table each night for their man. While the pace is quick, the storyline itself was a bit too predictable. There were too many passages devoted to character Laura Justice's subservience to her husband. However, Ms. Stover is spot on with her depiction of Winton Justice: cad and brute wrapped up in one package. He is a believable and credible bully of a husband. When Ms. Stover does come around to writing in a backbone for Laura Justice, without giving too much of a spoiler, I was disappointed with Laura's reaction when she learns of the egregious acts her husband Winton engages in with one of their neighbors. Again, this is a quick read and I believe it could be shortened some-currently 404 pages. I would encourage Ms. Stover to focus on dialogue and build around it in her next novel. She demonstrates a strong ability when it comes to writing dialogue.

Quill says: Surviving 26th Street is a good read for women to reflect upon - 'you've come a long way baby'!

For more information on Surviving 26th Street, please visit the book's website:

Book Review - TIME for Kids X-WHY-Z Animals

TIME For Kids X-WHY-Z Animals: Little Kids Ask. We Answer.

By: Editors of TIME For Kids Magazine
Publisher: Time For Kids
Publication Date: June 2014
ISBN: 978-1618931061
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 23, 2014

As the back cover of this book says, ‘Kids Ask Why’ and without a doubt, the Editors of TIME for Kids magazine have done an outstanding job of answering those questions in this new book all about animals.

After a brief introduction that gives readers an overview of why we’re so fascinated by animals, the book moves on to all those questions. Divided into types of animals, the chapters include: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, sea animals, birds and yes, even dinosaurs. From fun facts such as ‘why do pigs like mud?’ to more technical queries such as ‘why do we call reptiles cold-blooded?’, even parents are likely to learn a few things from this book. For example, did you know that ‘a crab’s gills are on its legs. When crabs are on land, they have to keep their legs wet to breathe’? You’ll learn lots of great facts such as the above when you open this fun book.

Aimed at the 3 to 6 year-olds, with a reading level of preschool/first grade, this book is perfect for the very young animal lover. In simple language, with appealing fonts, large text, and colorful, eye-grabbing photos, this book is sure to delight young animal lovers.

Quill says: So many facts, so little time! TIME for Kids X-WHY-Z Animals does a great job at answering the questions that kids ask. This is a perfect book for the young animal lover.

Book Review - The 101 Stars Every Fan Needs to Know

Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Who: ALL-STARS: The 101 Stars Every Fan Needs to Know

By: The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids
Publisher: Sports Illustrated
Publication Date: June 2014
ISBN: 978-1618931078
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 23, 2014

Do you think you know all the great sports records, from football to hockey? Do you know who was the NHL's youngest scoring champ? What about who was the first European-born player to be named MVP of the NBA finals? Prepare to quiz yourself, stump your friends, and even learn something new about your favorite sports in this newest offering from the Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Who series.

To make it easier to find the stats, sports figures and facts you want to know about, the book is divided by sport. Those included are: baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, Olympics, racing, soccer, tennis and Xtreme. There is also a ‘player index’ in the back so you can look up your favorite players quickly. With a reading level of third grade/age 8 and up, this book is well suited for the young sports fan.

With 125 pages of great sports facts and photos (the last few pages are for the player index and photo credit), there is plenty here to keep the reader busy. Some sports (baseball, basketball, and football), garner the bulk of coverage, but even those sports with lighter coverage have plenty of interesting facts to keep fans happy. Do you know who has the longest winning streak in tennis history? It’s not who you think, and I’m not going to tell you...

Quill says: Fun! Fun! Fun! Every young sports fan should have a copy of this book!

Book Review - TIME for Kids Explorers: Robots

TIME For Kids Explorers: Robots

Publisher: Time For Kids
Publication Date: June 2014
ISBN: 978-1618933737
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 23, 2014

Did you know that a robot can help a surgeon operate on a real person? Wow! Did you know there is a snake-like robot that can creep and crawl into small, tight spaces and push through debris while sending back images to see if humans are trapped below the rubble? You'll learn about these two robots and so much more in this new book from TIME for Kids Explorers.

This almost 100 page book is loaded with page after page of really neat robots that do everything from explore the depths of the ocean to go into outer space. First, the reader will get a little history on robots, and learn where the word 'robot' came from, when the first robot was made, and what early designs looked like. Have you read the famous book, I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov? It's mentioned in here, along with Asimov's famous "Three Laws of Robotics."

After reading about the history of robots, the rest of the book is divided into seven chapters: Robots that Work, Protect, Explore, Fly, Help, Play and my favorite, Robots that Kids Make. There's no need to read Robots page-by-page, it's the perfect book to flip back and forth, finding interesting sections (hint: they're all interesting!) that grab your attention. Bright, clear photos abound on each and every page. In short, this is a great book for kids who want to learn about robots!

Quill says: For kids who love robots, this is a totally cool book!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review - Dead Float

Dead Float: A Cal Claxton Mystery

By: Warren C. Easley
Illustrated By: Nick Greenwood
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0266-7
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: July 23, 2014

After a career as an L.A. prosecutor, Cal Claxton has moved to the Oregon countryside to run his own small town law practice and help a friend with guided fishing trips. It is quite a change from the hustle and bustle of the city but Cal knows this is where he needs to be, especially after the devastation of losing his wife a few years earlier. The most important things in Cal’s life now are his daughter Claire and getting back to a better quality of life. It is not long before Cal’s fishing buddy Philip Lone Deer asks him to help with an upcoming fishing trip paid for by a group of co-workers in a large technology company. After agreeing to help, Cal learns that the group includes people who he talked to before about coming to fish but also includes a woman he had a short fling with. So, Cal now finds himself in guiding a fishing trip with a woman he had an affair with named Alexis and her husband Hal who happens to be the CEO of this company. Oh yes, this trip should be interesting.

It does not take long for this trip to take a turn for the worst but in a way no one could have imagined. The first night on the river the unthinkable happens as a scream pierces the quiet of the early morning and everyone discovers that Hal has been murdered! With the recent talk of new technology coming into the company everyone on this trip could possibly be a suspect but Cal never expected for the number one suspect position to land on him. After his knife is found in the river, the local police quickly come to the conclusion that Cal himself committed this murder and they won’t let up until they somehow pin this crime on him. Knowing the only way to prove his innocence is to solve this crime himself, Cal embarks on his own investigation, desperately trying to piece together clues and follow any leads that could possibly help him before it’s too late.

This book starts out with a bang as within the first two chapters a gruesome murder is committed with the victim’s throat cut from ear to ear. After starting with such a dramatic event I was thinking the entire book would be just as intense but as I continued reading the middle part of the book was not quite as appealing. Everything was written in first person through Cal’s point of view but I did find myself wishing that other views were given to allow the reader to feel as if they were a part of the story and have a behind the scenes view. However, in that last few chapters the author comes back with another bang throwing all of the clues quickly together.

Quill says: This is a book that starts and ends with intensity but slows down in the middle.

Book Review - Last Night at the Blue Angel

Last Night at the Blue Angel

By: Rebecca Rotert
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-231528-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 23, 2014

In her debut novel, Last Night at the Blue Angel, Rebecca Rotert delivers a sumptuous story of sultry-voiced songstress Naomi Hill and her ten year journey of chasing stardom in 1960’s Chicago.

The story opens with ten-year-old Sophia sitting in the wings contemplating the complicated singing career of her mother, Naomi Hill. It is Naomi’s last night at the Blue Angel, the once iconic jazz club in the hub of Chicago. It is 1965 and even though it has only been a few months since Naomi got the gig, tonight is the night and the Blue Angel is the place where she will launch her career. Jim is a photographer. He fell in love with Naomi the moment he laid eyes on her. He was also (sort of) the only father figure Sophia knew.

It would have been perfect at that point for Sophia to put a “happily ever after” stamp on the scene before her, but too much happened leading up to this night. Actually, it all started before Sophia was born. Naomi didn’t grow up in Chicago. Rather, she reinvented herself in Chicago. Back in that small Kansas town, her name was Naomi Hutnik. Her family was poor—her father a German immigrant and her mother a woman with a brood of seven children (including Naomi) to tend to.

Naomi lived on the poor side of town and Laura and David Miller lived among the rich folk. When Naomi befriends Laura and their friendship transcends beyond the boundaries of school girl antics and into the throes of more than an intimate encounter, perhaps things would have been different had Laura’s mother not interrupted their moment. Sadly, Naomi was never quite fortunate enough to have do-over’s. There are no coincidences in life and at seventeen, Naomi leaves Kansas not quite sure where she’s going, but how ironic David Miller would be at the receiving end when she finally arrives.

Rebecca Rotert has written a fascinating account of what it must have been like during the 1960’s glory days of the jazz scene in downtown Chicago. She captures the essence of iconic buildings that stand no more and breathes believable life into each of her characters; particularly Jim. He is a photographer in her novel, yet he is believable given he was crafted after noted photographer Richard Nickel—a talented photographer on a mission to capture the essence of the many iconic landmarks of Chicago before they met their fateful destruction in the1960’s. Ms. Rotert guides the reader in perfect see-saw cadence between Naomi’s past and present as she tells the story of her conflicts. Naomi is a fiercely passionate singer and nurtures her singing to a fault. Rotert does an equally admirable job of conveying the conflict Naomi faces with the responsibility of being the only mother Sophia has. There are elements of humor infused just when the reader wants to admonish as much as there are moments of absolute sorrow. Ms.Rotert, you are a phenomenal conductor in charge of your symphony of words across each and every page! I look forward to your next book.

Quill says: Sit back and relax into every delicious moment of the Last Night at the Blue Angel.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review - The Gravity of Birds

The Gravity of Birds

By: Tracy Guzeman
Publisher: Simon & Shuster Paperbacks
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-8976-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 19, 2014

Tracy Guzeman defies the constraints of gravity in her debut novel, The Gravity of Birds, and has penned an absolutely stunning body of work.

Sisters, Natalie and Alice Kessler, are polar opposites. Natalie's beauty is obvious. It is her weapon of choice and in subtle and twisted ways uses it against her younger sister. Alice, on the other hand, is not necessarily a wallflower, but her gift of kindness resides deep within the folds of her being. Growing up in the same household was never easy. The girls were equally loved by both their parents. Years later and after the passing of their parents, trips to the lake house each summer had long-since ended. Natalie's beauty didn't falter, but her life was not what she expected. Since the age of fourteen, Alice had been a victim to the throes of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Once their parents were gone, Natalie's beauty was shelved for the rest of her life in order to live out her days as Alice's caretaker. It is only when Natalie's untimely death occurs that Alice realizes her life could have been the life she was meant to live.

Woven into the intricacies of the Kessler girls' existence is one Thomas Bayber. Nearly twenty years have passed since his summers on the lake in the home in proximity to the Kessler's retreat. Perhaps the reclusive painter, Bayber, had planned all along to resurrect the never seen "Kessler Sisters" rendition at this very moment in time... Dennis Finch had devoted his life to Bayber. How is it after so many years and the recent loss of his beloved wife that Bayber should need him now? Long gone (and somewhat forgotten), the notion of reviving their relationship is more than unsettling for Professor Finch. However, with Bayber, there was always a caveat or condition. When Finch agrees to Bayber's summons to meet, Bayber doesn't disappoint. It seems before he will agree to commission Finch with the sale of his unknown "Bayber masterpiece," he insists Finch must seek the services of (little known) art authenticator, Stephen Jameson.

Ms. Guzeman's prolifically haunting style completely consumed me. It took less than two days for me to devour the words in this 294-page novel and it is difficult to select one passage over another to site. Ms. Guzeman's carefully crafted characters' strengths and weaknesses leach into the readers memory and carry the reader down an endless and meandering river of an amazingly beautiful (and sometimes frustrating) story of disappointments, rivalries and ultimately, hope. There is one scene in particular I was so taken with that I tested it on a few of my (voracious reader) co-workers. Each and every time, their reaction was to look at me with woe begotten eyes and render their interpretation of its meaning to be maudlin. To the contrary, this reader was not only pulled to this passage that describes character Thomas Bayber, but for the remainder of the read, I often wondered if Ms. Guzeman had shed a tear or two when she carefully placed the following words onto her page: "...I was born old. My mother told me once that I looked like a grumpy old man from the moment I was born-wrinkled, pruney face, rheumy eyes. You've heard the expression an old sole? I was born with a head full of someone else's failed dreams and a heart full of someone else's memories..." Ms. Guzeman is worthy of every bit of praise for her near perfect literary prowess and I, for one, cannot wait to read her next novel. Bravo, Ms. Guzeman...bravo!

Quill says: The Gravity of Birds is a journey of desire, loss, resurrection and the underlying premise of 'what if' things had turned out differently. This is an outstandingly beautiful example of how utterly painful it is to arrive at the end of a story that was most certainly meant to be told.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Books in for Review

It's certainly not slowing down here at Feathered Quill.  More books arriving every day for review.  Here's a sampling of what has just arrived.  Check them out and then stop by in a few weeks to read the reviews!

Surviving 26th Street by Carol June Stover The year is 1954, and Laura Justice's ambitious husband, Winton, makes a decision that shocks family and friends. He moves his Memphis family North, vowing to strike it rich on Madison Avenue and savor the pleasures of suburban life. This does not happen. The southern family is a poor fit in their New Jersey neighborhood, and loyal wife Laura feels ostracized. What's more, Winton's advertising agency soon fails, and he becomes depressed and combative. 1950s women are supposed to obey, but Laura Justice refuses to stay mute. She dares to complain when Winton launches a new business selling wire recorders (the very latest technology!) from their basement. Incensed at his uncooperative wife, Winton persists, bringing chaos to their family, including his strange parents, a creepy employee and a sexy neighbor, not to mention financial disaster. A tireless fixer, Laura tries to stem Winton's antics and stop the cash drain, to no avail. Meanwhile, the couple's children are caught in their parent's cross fire, drifting around the neighborhood and depending on neighbors for fun and attention. When 9-year old daughter Jane rises above the crisis to help police solve the crime, Laura is inspired to take action too. Defying 1950 taboos, she struggles to make a life-changing decision: Should she rein in husband Winton and his maddening life style...or at long last cut bait?

A Pinch of Ohh La La by Renee Swindle Abbey Ross, who runs her own bakery in Oakland, California, is known for her visually stunning wedding cakes. But lately, Abbey’s own love life has become stale. According to her best friend, Bendrix, Abbey’s not the spontaneous young woman she was when they were teenagers listening to the Cure and creating attention-grabbing graffiti. Of course, her failed relationship with a womanizing art forger might have something to do with that. Nevertheless, it’s time for Abbey to step out of the kitchen—and her comfort zone—and Bendrix has even handpicked a man for her to date. Samuel Howard is everything Abbey’s dreamed of: handsome, successful, and looking to raise a family. But a creamy icing might be needed to hide a problem or two. When Samuel complains about disrespect for the institution of marriage, Abbey’s reminded of her nontraditional family, with thirteen children from various mothers. And when Samuel rails about kids having kids, Abbey thinks of her twenty-year-old sister who’s recently revealed her pregnancy. Soon Abbey is facing one disaster after another and struggling to make sense of it all. Her search for love has led her down a bitter path, but with the help of her unique family and unwavering friends, she just might find the ooh la la that makes life sweet.

Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier. Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

Discovery Snakeopedia: The Complete Guide to Everything Snakes--Plus Lizards and More Reptiles Snakeopedia tells the whole story of these amazing creatures. From the enormous Green Anaconda to the tiny Zootaxa, the book includes hundreds of snakes and all 12 families. You an learn about identifying features, habitats, their dangerous venom, how they can swallow such large prey, and unusual snake behaviours. Along the way, colourful callouts offer tons of cool facts. You can meet pythons that can survive as long as a year between meals, spitting cobras that can squirt venom eight feet away, and even flying snakes, which can sail from branch to branch to catch lizards! From vipers to rattlesnakes, boas to cobras, Discovery Channel Snakeopedia is the ultimate encyclopaedia for snake fans of all ages.

My Fingerpaint Masterpiece by Sherrill S. Cannon Have you ever seen a "work of art" worth millions, which looks like something your child just brought home from school? The dual perspective of "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder" and just a little bit of "The Emperor's New Clothes" is evident in this clever artwork story of a child who paints a fingerpaint print in class and then loses it in the wind on the way home. Illustrated from the point of view of a child, whose identity is left to the imagination of the reader since all of the illustrations are what the child sees, the fingerpaint print is interpreted by official "judges" as well as by bystanders. Should people be influenced by what others see, or use their own self-esteem to make their own judgments?

Murder on the Naval Base by Behcet Kaya Murder on the Naval Base begins with a blurry account of a cold-blooded shooting of a couple, singled out while having dinner at an Officer’s Club. The prime suspect is apprehended hours later while apparently attempting to flee the state. With over a dozen eye-witnesses collaborating the incident, little was left in the puzzle for the military investigators to piece together; especially once it was determined the two victims were in fact the perpetrator’s wife and the man she was having an on-going affair with. Transporting the reader into the supersonic fighter jet world of Naval Aviation, with aircraft carrier scenes, the novel brings the reader close to the egos and confidence of those commanders that fly our warplanes. Combined with a steamy undercurrent of lust, love, sexual fulfillment, jealousy and primordial desires of the protagonist, the human condition of married life versus the structure and demands of military careers are juxtaposed against the strength and will of personal upbringing and ethical behavior of the characters. Offering the reader a page-turner of excitement, legal intrigue, psychologically thrilling moments, steamy sex and military honor - complete with a surprise that is foreshadowed so brilliantly, even the most seasoned reader will raise an eyebrow at the end with humble acknowledgement of the literary mastery contained herein.  

The Second Coming: A Love Story by Scott Pinsker In "The Second Coming: A Love Story," the devilish new novel by Scott Pinsker, the culture war between Red America and Blue America turns shockingly real when two self-declared saviors appear on earth. The first “messiah” attracts legions of liberal and secular-progressive followers with his message of New Age brotherhood, quickly becoming the darling of the left. The second “messiah” preaches fire-and-brimstone traditional Christianity, gaining a grassroots army of conservative worshipers ready to battle to the death. It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon! Novelist Scott Pinsker is a Tampa Bay-based celebrity publicist who has also written for as a marketing expert. As Pinsker tells it: “Late one night I had an unsettling thought: If the Devil truly wanted to con mankind, he wouldn’t have a pitchfork and horns. All those horror movies have it wrong; a pitchfork and horns are bad marketing. Instead, his smartest strategy for activating new followers would be to appear as a holy man – and claim the faith of his target audience. Because if I were Satan’s publicist, that’s what I’d recommend.” Scott Pinsker has worked with a long list of athletes and entertainers, ranging from scandal-plagued NFL stars to Saturday Night Live alums to Grammy-winning icons. While he insists that his story’s characters are wholly fictional, he freely admits that the Red America / Blue America political divide is directly ripped from the headlines: “We’ve become so polarized that we automatically assume the worst about our opposition. The most sinister explanation becomes the dominant narrative – and each side is skilled at exploitation. So in "The Second Coming: A Love Story," you have conservatives firing-up the Tea Partiers on talk-radio shows, and liberals decrying their ‘extremism’ and ‘lack of inclusion.’ You have evangelicals, businessmen and born again Christians waging a multimedia Holy War against secularists, urbanites and liberal activists – and neither side will cede an inch. Sadly, none of this was a stretch: Since we’re already predisposed to believe that the other side is evil, an all-out apocalypse is simply the natural progression.”  

Beetle Boy by Margaret Willey When his mother walked out on the family, seven-year-old Charlie comforted his inconsolable father by sharing the silly beetle boy stories his mother told him. Years later, these stolen stories still haunt Charlie's dreams.

Book Review - TIME For Kids Book of Why - Awesome Animal Kingdom

TIME For Kids Book of Why - Awesome Animal Kingdom 

By: Editors of TIME For Kids Magazine
Publisher: Time for Kids
Publication Date: May 2014
ISBN: 978-1603209830
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 2014

How many questions about Awesome Animals can you ask and answer in just 48 pages? If you're the editors of Time for Kids, you can squeeze a whole lotta information in those few pages. And the best part? What's in those pages is really, really interesting.
The first half of this book deals with all sorts of animals, both wild and domesticated. In fact, that's one of the 250 facts in this book - the reason why some animals are domesticated. Other animals/topics include such things as why penguins can't fly, why cats always land on their feet, and why birds fly south for the winter.

The second half of Awesome Animal Kingdom focuses on the animal we all know best ... humans! There are so many interesting facts packed into this little book that it's hard to choose what to mention. Do you know why people go bald? Why we cry? Why we produce saliva? You will after you read this book. How about why people have earwax? Why do some people have curly hair? Why do knuckles crack? These questions, and their answers, are just a small sample of what you'll find in this wonderful book.

The layout of this book is very appealing, with abundant bright, colorful photos and easy to read text. More difficult words are highlighted with bold and defined in the glossary in the back of the book. While no topic is discussed in detail, there is enough per topic to grab a child's attention and lead to further research.

Quill says: Every classroom and homeschool should have a copy of this book and the others in the series. They make learning fun!

Book Review - TIME for Kids Book of Why - Really Cool People and Places

TIME For Kids Book of Why - Really Cool People & Places 

By: Editors of TIME For Kids Magazine
Publisher: Time for Kids
Publication Date: May 2014
ISBN: 978-1603209847
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 13, 2014

Why was the Civil War fought? Why did the Titanic sink so fast? Why is an area in Beijing, China, called the Forbidden City? So many questions - so little time! Fortunately, Time for Kids has made it possible to answer those questions quickly when they introduced this awesome series of books answering so many questions kids (and adults!) ask.

This book, focusing on people and places, answers questions about regions all over the world. Want to know some interesting facts about China? It's in here. How about Australia? Yup, you'll find snippets about the 'Land Down Under' too. There are so many neat facts in this book that I suspect everyone reading this book, child or parent, will learn something. Did you know the London Bridge is actually in Arizona? You'll learn what happened to the bridge and how it wound up at Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Ever wonder how various US cities got their nicknames? From 'The Big Easy' to 'The Windy City,' it's in here.
The first half of the book is devoted to history (the Trojan War, Civil War, etc.) and the final half is about people and places. While reading through the book, however, chances are you'll be too busy reading all the interesting facts to notice how the book is arranged.

The first thing that struck me about this book was how much information was packed into 48 short pages. It's a LOT! And with its eye-appealing design, it's a lot of fun to read. Really Cool People & Places is the sort of book that is easy to flip back and forth, reading pieces of one page then moving on to the next fact that catches your eye. While there is not much detail about any of the topics, the facts are enough to grab a child's attention and encourage further research.

Quill says: Really Cool People & Places is part of a fantastic series for kids. Don't miss these books!