Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review - Mysteries Have No Borders

Mysteries Have No Borders

By: Nancy Gettelman
Publisher: Nightengale Press
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-1935993582
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 25, 2014

March in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is, honestly, dreary. Spring hasn’t quite arrived and everything is a bit gray. That’s why Sara Schneider jumps at the chance to attend the International Craft Brewery Convention in Victoria, British Columbia where, promises her husband Robb, the flowers have already begun to appear. Robb will attend the convention while Sara takes in the sights of the area with the wife of one of his friends. In a snap Sara has her bags packed and is ready to go!

When the couple arrives in Victoria, they take a quick sightseeing trip before heading to their hotel. Then it’s time for a nice dinner party with Robb’s friend, and fellow craft brewer, Stephen Albright, his wife Diane, and a few other folks. Sara takes an instant liking to Diane, and the evening goes quickly. The food is great, conversation interesting and lively and everybody seems to be having a good time; everybody except Blanche McDonald who appears as though she’d rather have a root cannel than be at the party. Sara is put off by Blanche’s behavior but with everybody else being so nice, she manages to have an enjoyable evening. Even Jane Hamilton, the Albright’s houseguest, whose husband has gone missing in the Arctic, is friendly and approachable. All but Blanche, who is cold to everybody, including her husband Jerry – what is her problem?

The next day, while Robb heads off to the Convention, Sara is taken on a wonderful trip to Butchart Gardens by Diane, Trish (another dinner guest) and Jane; all the ladies from the night before with the exception of Blanche. Sara asks about the missing woman but is only told that Blanche probably wouldn’t enjoy the trip. The day goes by quickly, with Sara (and the reader) learning all sorts of interesting facts about the gorgeous Butchart Gardens.

The week flies quickly as Sara travels all over the city of Victoria. Between the sightseeing and ‘table talk’ at the various dinner parties she and Robb attend, all sorts of facts about Victoria, and Canada, are presented. From the lives of the Intuits’, to the Canadian Shield and local cultural events, the visitors from Wisconsin learn quite a bit. At the same time, Jane, and the rest of the group of new friends, finally learns what happened to her husband. That, however, is not all that occurs in this relatively short (157 pages) novel; Sara and the others are drawn into not one, but two murders.
Mysteries Have No Borders is a relatively quick read that showcases the love and bond between a husband and wife. By the end of the book, Sara has a new appreciation for all that she lovingly shares with Robb. Sara’s interactions with her new friends, too, are part of the fun of the story as they explore all that Victoria has to offer. At points, the dialogue is a bit stilted, as characters explain historical and other aspects of Canada and the story slows when these discussions take place. In addition, there is a fair amount of emphasis on the land and people of Canada – this is not just a murder mystery, but a tour of the Canadian province of Victoria.

Quill says: A fun murder mystery that offers plenty of background on the great land of Canada.

Book Review - Star Wars Episodes I-VI: The Skywalker Saga Poster-A-Page

Star Wars Episodes I-VI: The Skywalker Saga Poster-A-Page (Star Wars Poster-a-Page)

By: Disney
Publisher: Disney
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-1618933645
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 28, 2014

One of the newest offerings in Disney's popular Poster-a-Page books for young readers (ages 6 and up), is on a topic sure to get rave reviews from young Jedi fans - Star Wars!

Over 100 full-color, full-page images from all six movies, plus nine extra large removable posters, grace the pages of this book. From young pilot Anakin's podrace to Luke Skywalker's epic fight with Darth Vader, it's all here. Our heroes, Luke, Leia, Han and of course Yoda, all have plenty of coverage, but what would a Star Wars book be without villains? Darth Maul, Jango Fett, Jabba the Hutt are here too. In addition, lesser known players in the Star Wars saga such as Zam Wesell (shape-shifter assassin), make an appearance.

Each image is accompanied by a few words; lines taken from the movies, or comments about the character, planet, ship, etc. that help bring the fun to life. My favorite has to be a page with a few images of Jar Jar Binks that includes a small picture of Qui-Gon Jinn with a 'bubble' above him noting, "The ability to speak does not make you intelligent." How true!

Quill says: As Yoda would tell young Jedi fans, "Be silly you would, if you not get this book."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review - Frank!


By: Connah Brecon
Publisher: Running Press
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7624-5423-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 23, 2014

‘Better late than never!’ Well...that’s what this amazing book reminds me of, as well as any other person who went to grade school and high school and really didn’t want to get up on time to attend. (Yup, that’s just about everybody.)
Frank is one of those boys who is just a tad bit late for things. He’s not being mean, of course; he’s simply busy. And his imagination is a true barrel of fun. This is not only a boy who gives excuse – this is a boy who makes sure to think up the most amazing stories possible so that everyone knows how hard he works...even if he’s not ‘working’ where he’s supposed to be working at the time.

His teacher rolls her eyes, of course, upset that he’s always late. But, you see, Frank is a hero. This is a young one who loves to help the world. Everyday people who surround him are cranky; they are always worrying or yelling about something. But Frank keeps the smile on his face and always remembers that helping others is far more important than being angry or rude all the time.
When school begins, Frank has a rough first day. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually show up until everyone else has gone home. But as the story progresses, Frank gets better and better – closer and closer to being on time. You can’t fault him, though. Frank saves kittens, stops bullies...and even faces down a massive, giant zombie lizard king. (Not a lot of kids can say they did THAT!)

Allowing for the light to shine in and let go of the constant worry, nervousness, etc., that everything from jobs to paying the bills brings on, is something everyone can learn from Frank. Life is far too short, and being able to enjoy the good stuff is something we all should take advantage of.
The author of this story is a young boy, himself. He is an illustrator as well as a writer of stories, with one already out there that people absolutely love. And, hopefully, since his stories are absolutely charming, his illustrations are darling, and his humor is most definitely needed in this world – this young writer will continue for a long time to come.

Quill says: Fun with a capital ‘UN.’ Frank most definitely helps everyone understand that imagination is necessary; especially when it’s time to stop and smell the roses!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review - The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook

The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook: 200 Everyday Recipes That Take the Guesswork Out of Counting Calories - Plus, the Exercise It Takes to Burn Them Off

By: Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo MS, RDN
Publisher: The Experiment LLC
ISBN: 978-1-61519-104-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 21, 2014

Catherine Jones, Elaine Trujillo and Malden Nesheim have teamed up and created a phenomenal cookbook, The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook. This body of work transcends well beyond its 200 everyday recipes in that it is an exceptional reference point and source of information.

In the first 34 pages of this book, Jones and Trujillo address the importance of understanding what makes our respective ‘temples’ of our bodies tick and more importantly, the necessity of engaging with the overall process of living a healthy lifestyle. Jones opens the book with her chapter titled: A Cookbook for Everyone and breaks down her message with her own testimonial of what inspired her to delve into the importance of who we are, what we eat and why we eat it. Once the tone is set, the message evolves in the next chapter with a logical explanation of Understanding the World of Calories (by Malden Nesheim). There is a wealth of knowledgeable professionals throughout our world today who have done insurmountable studies surrounded with the premise of eat this, not that. However, what makes this particular book stand out is the simplicity and logic behind the intended message. We live in a society rife with ‘diet and weight loss,’ yet, there is a stronger sublime message of ‘do this, not that’ and, generally speaking, the end result is typically failed attempts and on to the next...

The authors have virtually paved the way for the reader to understand the process of what it takes to make healthy food choices (and live a healthy lifestyle). The most valuable information for me personally were the two chapters devoted to determining daily caloric and exercise needs and the tools to get there: healthy recipes and shopping and cooking tips. It was time for me to put what I had learned to the test! This is the perfect time of the year for making soups and this book has some amazing recipes! Two of my personal favorites are Quick Zucchini-Basil Soup and Perfect Pumpkin Bread. Hello? It’s Fall. Who doesn’t want ‘comfort’ food sans the guilt? There is a guide paired with each of the 200 recipes that not only breaks down the nutritional value, but also provides what man or woman must do to work off those calories he or she just ingested. Sheer brilliance.

This book has moved to the front of my pantry reserved for my cookbooks. Not only are the recipes easy to follow, but not once did I find an ingredient that I couldn’t pronounce (or not know what it was). The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook covers snacks, breakfast, desserts, dinner, vegetarian and a wealth of information. The message that resonates throughout this book is all the baker/cook needs to do is engage and the end result I personally believe is the perfect life balance: healthy food choices, exercise and feeling good! Bravo ladies and thank you for such a thorough and easy guide!

Quill says: The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook is the perfect balance of making smart food choices, cooking them and liking what you see in the mirror down the road! 

For more information on The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook, please visit the book's website at:

Book Review - A Sudden Light

A Sudden Light

By: Garth Stein
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8703-6
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 20, 2014

New York Times Bestselling Author Garth Stein has mastered a winning formula. With one part closeted skeletons and two parts beauty and grandeur of the Pacific Northwest, Stein has blended these delicious ingredients and created a beautifully baked story in his latest novel, A Sudden Light.

Jones Riddell is at a crossroads with his future. The stability of his marriage is questionable at best given the recent decision his wife has made to leave their Connecticut home and return to her native England (without him and their son). The recent turn of events solidifies Jones’ decision to return to his childhood home, the legendary Riddell House mansion located in the gorgeous timberlands of Seattle’s Puget Sound. Jones isn’t traveling alone, however. Alongside him is his fourteen-year-old son Trevor.

It’s not easy returning to a place Jones vowed he would never see again. The memory of his father, Samuel, shipping him off to boarding school after his mother’s passing over twenty years ago, is one that is still quite real. His sister Serena has grown into an eccentric young woman. Perhaps her quirkiness stems from caring for a father who is on the brink of full-blown dementia. Trevor stands before the magnificent mansion at his father’s side. Once the family reunion is behind the weary travelers, it doesn’t take long for young Trevor to discover there is more to Riddle House than age and historical grandeur. It seems he has become the conduit to the bevy of ghosts that have chosen to communicate their messages. Their insistence on making things right once and for all soon becomes Trevor’s burden to share...

Garth Stein is the real deal when it comes to placing words to paper. The life he breathes into his characters is tangible. The main character, Jones Riddle, is a man who carries the burden and complexities of facing the turmoil of a life he could have done differently had the pain of childhood memories and loss of a mother he deeply loved not shadowed his adult years. Stein creates passage upon passage of heartfelt prose that usurps the reader’s emotions and leaves the reader deeply connected with his richly developed fictitious people. His set up of the story is brilliant. He takes the reader back to a time when the complexities of emerging technology and daily doses of scandalous politics were not the governing rule. Rather, he places the reader front and center to listen to (now grown character) Trevor’s retelling of the story of legendary Riddell House. I have not had the pleasure of reading Mr. Stein’s infamous The Art of Racing in the Rain, but after reading A Sudden Light I cannot wait to do so. Stein is the quintessential master of prose and a truly gifted writer. He clearly deserves a vast audience that is undoubtedly awaiting his next great novel. Thank you Mr. Stein for this incredibly beautiful story you have written and titled: A Sudden Light.

Quill says: A Sudden Light shines like a beacon and will undoubtedly; pierce the very depths of emotions in anyone who reads it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Books In For Review

Another interesting batch of books have just arrived for review.  Check them out and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews!

Mysteries Have No Borders by Nancy Gettelman Robb Schneider, owner of a successful brew pub in Milwaukee, has accepted an invitation to attend the International Convention of Brew Pub Owners, to be held in March, in Victoria, British Columbia. He urges his wife, Sara, to go. It is still cold in Milwaukee, he points out, and he has been told at other conventions that Spring is much earlier in that western province where the capitol is famous for its many beautiful flowers. As well, they would have an opportunity to meet Canadians from other provinces. Sara agrees and, as the ferry pulls into the harbor, the sights captivate her imagination. Much to her delight, she meets the Victorian who encouraged Robb to bring her along, and who, with his wife, hosts a dinner party to meet their friends. During the day when there are meetings for the men, Sara's new friends take her to various places of interest in the city. Everyone is very friendly to her―with one exception a woman who is wrapped up in herself and disinterested in almost everything else. Later, unexplained tragedies dampen everyone's pleasure, and the search is on for answers.  

Frank by Connah Brecon Try as he might (or might not), Frank is a bear who is always late. And when he starts school, the trouble really begins. Frank has very good reasons, like the time he had to save a cat stuck in a tree and the morning he found himself challenged to a charity dance-off, and even the time he had to rescue a family of bunnies from a huge, smelly ogre. Frank's teacher has heard enough of Frank's excuses, but what happens when a giant zombie lizard king really does attack the school? Sometimes there is truth to the most unusual of circumstances, and being helpful can pay off in the most unexpected ways.  

Star Wars Episodes I-VI: The Skywalker Saga Poster-A-Page (Star Wars Poster-a-Page)by Disney Star Wars is an ever deepening, timeless, mythological tale of good versus evil, set in a galaxy far, far away. Filled with noble Jedi Knights, fearsome creatures, and cruel villains, the epic space fantasy introduced "the Force" into the global vocabulary, along with characters such as evil Darth Vader, wise old Yoda, idealistic Luke Skywalker, and lovable Chewbacca. The epic Star Wars saga continues to grow and expand, captivating new generations with its exotic worlds, iconic themes and unforgettable stories. A new era in the rich history of Star Wars is about to begin with the announcement of a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, starting in 2015, and the announcement of a series of Star Wars spin-off movies, over the coming years.  

Story Monster and Friends: Creatures to Color from Five Star Land Paperback by Conrad J. Storad (Author), Jeff Yesh (Illustrator), Michael Hagelberg (Illustrator), Nathaniel Jensen (Illustrator), Nadia Komorova (Illustrator), Alex Lopez (Illustrator) An ingenious hybrid of enlightening factoids about animals and insects living in the delightful, fictional world of Five Star Land, Story Monster and Friends entices little ones to learn more about the world around them. As kids color whimsical illustrations extracted from award-winning children's books and read the words of internationally acclaimed children's nature and science writer, Conrad J. Storad, their young minds are primed for the wonders of literature. The 36-page coloring book's central character is Story Monster, a.k.a. “Little Greenie,” a friendly green being who "devours stories of all kinds" and guides children from cover to cover. Its mission: to turn children into ravenous readers by introducing them to a variety of real-life creatures they will surely want to investigate to further.  

We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers The ethics in a world of blood are gray—and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people. Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work. When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her—and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.  

The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield The booming North Dakota oil business is spawning “man camps,” shantytowns full of men hired to work on the rigs, in towns without enough housing to accommodate them. In such twilight spaces, it’s easy for a person to vanish. And when two young men in their first year on the job disappear without a trace, only their mothers believe there’s hope of finding them. Despite reassurances that the police are on the case, the two women think the oil company is covering up the disappearances—and maybe something more. Colleen, used to her decorous life in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb, is determined to find her son. And hard-bitten Shay, from the wrong side of the California tracks, is the only person in town even willing to deal with her—because she’s on the same mission. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, these two unlikely partners question each other’s methods and motivations, but must work together against the town of strangers if they want any chance of finding their lost boys. But what they uncover could destroy them both...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review - Finding Flipper Frank

Finding Flipper Frank

By: Patrick M. Garry
Publisher: Kenric Books
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9833703-3-8
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 14, 2014

Patrick M. Garry spins a deliciously delightful tale that teeters between the conflict of too many regrets and its adversarial prospect of hope and new beginnings in his latest novel Finding Flipper Frank.

Walt Honerman’s life hadn’t always been a routine that didn’t reach much beyond three squares a day. After prison, however, he never thought he’d leave his native Baltimore and end up in Oakdale, Montana. His Uncle Henry had a lot to do with the latter part of that statement. Henry moved to Montana seven years before and convinced Walt to do the same. He could use his apartment now that Henry’s new residence was the Oakdale Nursing Home. Walt didn’t have much vision or purpose and Uncle Henry’s proposition convinced him to travel west and spend his final years keeping him company. Walt got a job, construction, and built a reputation for being quite crafty and handy at his trade. Uncle Henry was the last living blood relative Walt had—this is until he found himself taking care of his funeral arrangements.

For a time leading up to his passing, Henry worked Walt relentlessly until he extracted his promise to return to Baltimore for the great Cal Ripkin’s final game. It wasn’t long after the promise was made that Henry passed quietly. What Walt hadn’t bargained for was company during the promised road trip back east. There was an eclectic gathering of friends at the funeral who were not only there to pay their final respects to Henry, but support Walt; the nephew they’d all grown quite fond of. Henry also knew a few peculiar sorts—Izzy Dunleavey, for starters. It seemed he had plans to travel back east to resurrect his grandiose resort nestled by the sea in Crawfish Bay, Maryland. The last thing Walt needed was an eccentric and somewhat curmudgeonly old guy by his side for the 2,000 mile trek across the country. When Moira Kelly approaches Walt for passage east, maybe her purpose is to act as the buffer between the two as much as it is Walt’s destiny.

Patrick M. Garry has penned an intriguing story. He has intricately developed three utterly mismatched personalities and mastered the harmony of their characters when developed across the pages. Situations during their road trip from the mighty Montanan west to the salty Baltimore shoreline left this reader laughing in one moment and holding my heart in the next. I found myself connecting most with Walt Honerman. In many respects, Mr. Garry has chosen him to be a man likened to damaged goods. Honerman goes to prison a young, college graduate and exits a grown man. The secondary roles assigned to Moira and Izzy are the temperance to Honerman’s unshakable guilt. Mr. Garry easily manages to tug at the reader’s heartstrings as much as he is able to exasperate the reader through strategically placed prose. The delicate balance between both premises throughout this book is yummy! I praise Patrick Garry for his accomplishment of writing an easy-to-read, fast-paced and without question, delightful story. It is abundantly clear Mr. Garry is fully equipped with the necessary tools of what it takes to spin a good read. Bravo! I look forward to your next novel.

Quill says: Road Trips are the backbone of Americana. Finding Flipper Frank is one road trip that lingers on in memory long after the last page has been turned.

For more information on Finding Flipper Frank, please visit the author's website at:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Have You Nominated Your Book?

The annual Feathered Quill Book Awards program is open and nominations are coming in.  Have you nominated your book yet???   Here's just one of the special awards we offer:

Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity Award for Best Mystery - One professionally-written press release with distribution. - $1000 value

Learn more at Feathered Quill Book Awards.  Don't wait - nominate your book today!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Interview with Author Knut Hansen

Today we're talking with Knut Hansen, author of Chuck It

FQ: I see that you are Norwegian and still live in Norway. What made you decide to write about a New Yorker living in Norway?

HANSEN: Still live...Well, at least I am back in my native country after ten years of expat life here and there, mostly in Shanghai. I returned from China to get back in touch with nature, really, which is plentyful and everywhere in good old Norway. Obviously, this is not the case with a metropolis such as Shanghai (still a blast! Fantastic city.) You've got to leave the province, even travel through another two, before you can experience what I now have just outside my window. Anyway, The book.... The protagonist Matt is based on a real person from the States who tried the expat life in Norway years ago. What's more, some of the most thought-provoking and inspiring people I know or know of - musicians, writers, cartoonists, artists in general - happen to speak English and come from the US (and whom I've met in both my hometown Bergen and in Shanghai. Great, eh?) Then again, if I immersed myself in Spanish like I've done with your native language since I was ten, I'd probably say the same about Hispanics, so I am biased here.

FQ: Along the same lines, why write in English, and for a primarily American audience? What was it that challenged you to do this?

HANSEN: I like the English language. Very hybrid, very dynamic, and the better I get at it, speaking or writing, the more friends and colleagues from around the world I will gain. My expat life in Shanghai taught me this.

Through my entire adult life, a solid 20 years now, I have dealt with Americans at a more or less every-day rate. Regardless of ethnicity, religious orientation, age, sex, etc. they, or should I say you, strike me as more direct and humorous than Norwegians and north Europeans in general (just don't include Brits here, 'cause they certainly know how to make fun of each other, at least compared to Scandinavians!); less inhibitions, I would say, in terms of daring to express an opinion about whatever subject crosses the table. Of course this might be considered a steretypical American, somebody who talks and laughs with ease, but so what? Whether he is dishonest, annoying, conceited - as long as he says something. It's far worse with a quiet sad-sack saying nothing. You might find remnants of this Norwegian stereotype in the Midwest, maybe not. Either way, a Minnesota blue-collar or executive is hardly more representative of the average American than of those of the same heritage still living in Norway. Common traits normally don't follow nationality, or do they? I don't know. Might be easy to structure a mindset from generalizing social behavior this way, but then it's just as easy to judge or strain relationships, or what?

FQ: On to the story! We meet Matt right away, on the first page, having lost his zest for life. How did he get that way? What made him despair so much that he attempted suicide?

Montessori school children made this for the author -
Trees play a role in the story.  Find out why ...

HANSEN: That reveals itself as the story progresses. Should be plenty of bits for the reader to piece together without relying too much on narrative guidance. Certain chapters display Matt's thoughts on the whole point with existing. He spends a lot of time pondering what life is all about, which I think anyone open to self-reflection feels tempted to contemplate and to do something about such as accelerating one's own death, hoping to find something better in the netherworld or whatever we should call it (if there is one). Since I'm from a Viking country, perhaps I should call it Asgaard? Anyway, I believe many of us for various reasons have never gotten the chance to get to know oneself - and then, as a grown-up, ends up thinking 'Hey, what happened to my personality?' Why? Well, some readers of Chuck It might say my personal take on this surfaces in dialogues, monologues, in sudden change of events etc.; some might say 'No, the characters give me nothing, the plot goes nowwhere,' the ones looking for the blood and gore parts - and a hero. I can say this much, the reader will get around to that, but there isn't much implying fairytale conflicts in early stages of the story when Matt is lying in a hospital bed full of self-pity and remorse.

FQ: I found Jeanette to be a particularly interesting character, She was a strong-willed woman who knows what she wanted. Is she based on anybody you know?

HANSEN: Her strong-willed attitude, no. Her 'alluring looks' as it goes, yes. There was this girl, from my university days...To me she might have looked a little Mediterranean, a bit Spanish perhaps. I dreamed she had sparkle and spunk matching her voluptuous facade which had nothing shallow or plastic about it. She rarely wore make-up, that I remember. A plain natural beauty. I think Jeanette's personality sums up how I wanted, and still do, young women, and men for that matter, to be in Norway: more confident and honest when it comes to articulating emotions or voicing standards in general, I should think. I can tell you, there is still a lot of beating around the bush at these European latitudes when it comes to lust. When someone wants to advertise a crush or just curiosity, so many of us fumble and stutter. The craving for booze on the weekends, the manner in which a party unfolds through the evening - it still perplexes me how people cannot court and flirt without being intoxicated or far worse, cannot display a serious interest in a date without a script, without a back-up friend, without preps and props and all that. How do you think online dating services are doing in Norway? I wouldn't know the statistics here, I can only speculate there's a huge demand for that sort of thing. Wherever there is the internet and tons of shy people...How's that for stereotypes!

FQ: Without giving too much away, would you tell us a little about Barry? He has a profound effect on Matt.

HANSEN: Matt encounters all kinds of people who have profound effects on him. One of them is Barry, whom the reader gets to meet first in chapter 2, the turf showdown with some bullies. I'm not a childhood psychologist here, but I suppose the incident could be considered a milestone in their relationship, pointing to what? Well, maybe how reciprocal admiration generates bonds, true brotherly love, which nothing can break up, no matter how roughly conflicts or mistakes test-drive them through early and late stages in their lives. They walk through adolescence together, they enter early adult life together and so on, forgiving but never forgetting one another's flaws.

FQ: Matt and his friends like to party. The crazy party mid-way through the story was probably the wildest I’d ever read. How did you come up with all the action that happened within those pages?

HANSEN: If you map-google the address in Bergen, you'll see the neighborhood abounds with villas like the party house in the story. They all overlook the railway tracks and the brackish lake from the hillside running down to the city valley. I have been to one or two of those parties up there. Well-decorated, well-adorned, well everything! Once you're inside there is nothing there reminding you of an old wooden villa, unless you get lost in the basement. So there you go, that was my inspiration for the setting. The action is purly imaginative. The characters, though, how they reason and discuss what's going on around them are not. I think I remember the developing of the dialogue between Matt and Lars in the basement as being one of the toughest in the whole book. Another challenge I loved with the villa party was my attempting to describe all the impressions from a female angle. How does a male author qualify to wear the shoes of a woman and judge men through her spectacles? This point goes back to the question about the strong-willed Jeanette.

FQ: "Chuck It!" is a phrase first used by Matt’s sister Mary. Would you tell us a little about the role this phrase plays in Matt’s life?

HANSEN: First of all, look at all the super-cool combinations the verb 'chuck' offers you. Maybe you as a native speaker are not as fascinated as I am, understood. You try Norwegian one day! (1) It means to toss or throw with a quick motion; (2) it means to resign or give up; (3) it means to pat or tap lightly; (4) it could mean to eject a person from a public place; (5) it could also mean to vomit, then rather combined with the prefix 'up.'

When the reader gets to the chapter where Matt's sister utters 'Chuck it' he will also come across the word 'vomit.' However, other words, phrases and actions in the chapter may point to a few possible meanings of 'chuck.' Further, Matt might not understand why Mary says 'Chuck it' in this particular scene, displaying a family incident at an early stage in his life. Perhaps later in the story the maturer protagonist will share his own interpretation of the combination 'chuck' and 'it.'

FQ: The best line in the book, in my opinion, was “His depression had robbed him of his appetite for life.” (pg. 213) I believe that sums up Matt’s issue perfectly. Would you tell our readers a little about this aspect of Matt?

HANSEN: Matt's appetite for life materializes in his urge to act and be theatrical on stage and off stage. The Christmas school play chapters in the first part of the book elaborates on this. As long as he can surround himself with inspirational and challenging people nourishing his glow, he shines. Fanny, his young crush, and Mr. Franklin, one of his teachers, are typical examples. Then as an expat he gets to play the crazy New Yorker in front of a live audience every day. Take his improvised story-telling. The listener can never be sure whether Matt refers to actual events or just makes up things. He becomes exotic in the eyes of Norwegians, but also a clown. The euphoria he indulges in from rattling about the past, nonetheless, distracts him from something more important - his future. That he misses the camaraderie from his bands and wishes he could bond with neighbors and colleagues - what is he going to do about it if it depresses him to the point he can't take it any longer? It relates to his complicated character, of course, but just as much to cultural diversity and tolerance in a North European corner not too unfamiliar to the American audience.

FQ: What are you plans for your next book? Would you give our readers a little tease?

HANSEN: Something completely different! I have already finished a story about some young classmates signing up for a song contest at their school. The whole class gets involved and they never seem able to decide what song to pick or who should do what on stage. The scene is set in a small community right outside my hometown, so this one will not involve Americans at all. It's more for kids than for an adult audience, I believe, but it might have something in it for parents, too. It's written in Norwegian but I will definitely consider a translation. What do you say?

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review - To Have and To Hold

To Have and To Hold

By: Trae Stratton
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4637-8323-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 9, 2014

Talk about a breath of fresh air to all the readers out there. Instead of zombies, gore, grim fairytales, or murder and mayhem, this author has put together a truly inspiring, emotional, humorous, and perfect story that people can relate to.
A middle-class family living in the suburbs of New York City, the MacLann’s, are all about living life and loving each other. The crew includes Mom and Dad and their brood of five children, who are living the good, bad, and sometimes difficult life, along with their dog, Storm; a Husky with two different colored eyes.

As the story begins, Colin MacLann is about to take the big step into matrimony. Colin is a smart boy who has enjoyed a good upbringing and was very close to his brother, Matthew. He was one of those charmers who had numerous girlfriends over the years and the five girls he wooed over time liked him in all different ways. Some of them even broke his heart for a while...but not for long.

Colin has made his choice to settle down, and a narrative begins that goes back in time, remembering each and every niche of the MacLann’s early days, delving into both the great times and the sad that transformed the family dynamic in different ways over the decades. Centering the narrative on the soon-to-be groom, the love story between Colin and his bride-to-be comes to life. Now, they are suffering from pre-wedding jitters, yet remembering the family, and the fun had in the MacLann home, brings relaxation to the scary moment.

Flashbacks galore, as Colin strives to keep his nerves in check. From the days leading up to the wedding to the family members adding in their own thoughts, like Mom and Dad viewing the years of their children’s lives as they grew into adults and began lives of their own. There are trials and tribulations that must be taken on, learning how to succeed and how to brush yourself off and stand back up again, when circumstances weigh you down. And remembering Mom’s ‘look’ that could come from nowhere, and was like a laser shot directed at the member of the family who had just made a bit of a mistake by angering her. Even the smallest family tidbit is told.

As the wedding day unfolds, readers will finally realize who the bride actually is, chosen from the bevy of beauties that made up Colin’s past loves, and as the time ticks off to the moment where aisle-walking is imminent, the MacLann family makes everyone realize and remember how wonderful and necessary a strong, loving family unit can be.

Quill says: Funny, enlightened, kind, nurturing and real, this is a thoughtful book about a family anyone would want to be a part of.

For more information on To Have and To Hold, please visit the author's website at:

Book Review - The Turning Season

The Turning Season (A Shifting Circle Novel)

By: Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Ace Books, New York
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978-0-425-26169-9
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 9, 2014

In the third installment of her shape shifter series, Sharon Shinn delivers a captivating novel rife with rich characters and entertaining story line.

Karadel is a shape shifter and her greatest challenge in life is learning how to manage the unpredictability of her next transformation. Meeting Janet Kassebaum was no coincidence back in the day and after Janet’s passing, it only made sense for Karadel to stay on at Janet’s rural farm/vet clinic and continue its legacy as a safe haven for the many four-legged (sometimes two-legged) patients she treated over the years located on the outskirts of the sleepy town of Quinnville, Illinois. Karadel is not alone in her plight. It would seem there is an entire sub community of shifters and how fortunate for them to have the clinic as their refuge. While working on perfecting the perfect serum to control the timing of her transformations, Karadel dodges a near miss of her secret being exposed when the symptoms usurp her on a recent return from town to the clinic. With barely enough time to place the critical call to her friend and confidant Bonnie, in the midst of her change, she doesn’t quite make it back to the farm. Fortunately, she’s perfected the concoction enough to change shape into the orange tabby her alter body has grown accustomed to becoming...

It’s not easy having a social life when you’re human one day and animal form the next. However, Karadel’s 'bestie,' Celeste, convinces her to join her and her bubble-headed blonde friends for a night on the town at the new club Arabesque. Celeste is a shifter too, but the big difference between her and Karadel is Celeste dictates when she changes. The night starts out on a high note and begrudgingly, Karadel finds herself actually enjoying the moment. After a few dances, she takes a break from the band’s pounding bass and bar noise for a breath of fresh air. Joe the bouncer seems to be a likable guy and Karadel lets her guard down long enough to engage in light conversation. Just when things seem to be going well, all hell breaks loose. Town bad boy Bobby got a little too fresh in the back alley with Celeste. When Joe hears the screams and goes to investigate, he’s greeted by a crazed Bobby screaming about the crazy chick who changed into a wildcat right before his eyes and left more than a few kitty scratches on his face and chest. To add to the confusion, Sherriff Wilkerson rolls up on the scene in time to cart Bobby off, but not before asking where the wildcat/woman has gone. The problem is; Celeste is nowhere to be found.

Sharon Shinn has no difficulty in ramping up the adventure in her third novel of her “Shifting Circle Series.” While I’ve not had the pleasure of reading the first two books in this series, it was extremely easy to jump right in and travel the story with her richly developed characters. On face value, the notion of a human morphing from human to animal and back to human again is a bit of a reach. However, Shinn spins such credibility into such a metamorphosis, I found myself completely believing the premise. The dialogue is crisp and natural and the conflicted emotions Shinn assigns to each of the shifters’ characters is plausible. This is truly an engaging and action-packed novel that leaves the reader looking forward to the ongoing saga of the underworld of the shape shifting community. I am a fan of Ms. Shinn’s work and hope there is a “next book” in this series.

Quill says: This is a solidly written story that will convince its audience to ‘shift’ gears and read the first two books in this series once they’ve read The Turning Season.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Book Review - Doghouse: A Gin & Tonic Mystery

Doghouse: A Gin & Tonic Mystery

By: L. A. Kornetsky
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 2014
ISBN: 978-1476750040
Reviewed by: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: October 6, 2014

While helping in private investigations is something that Ginny Mallard and her bartender friend Teddy do together as a sideline, it seems that this 'job' is taking more and more time. After uncovering some shady truths about a local shelter this team thought it would be a while before they would have to jump back into investigating. Of course, as fans of the series, we all knew they were mistaken.

In the newest Gin & Tonic mystery, a man named Seth who works at Mary’s (the bar Teddy manages) has a friend named Deke that he believes is being wrongly evicted by his landlord. Seth explains that Deke is an ex-boxer and when a situation gets stressful there is a strong chance that Deke could act out in ways that would get him into more trouble. Not wanting to spend money on an actual lawyer, Seth asks Teddy and Ginny to look into this problem and figure out why Deke’s landlord is throwing him out of his rental. So, here the dynamic duo goes again trying to figure out the right questions to ask and the right people to find to solve this mystery.

Of course there are two more members of this team, Penny, an independent cat that has made her home in Teddy’s bar, and Geogie, a shar-pei dog that lives with Ginny. Both of these animals have proven their worth before in helping to solve mysteries and also protect their owners. Penny will not hesitate to use her claws on someone attacking Teddy and Georgie has spent the last year training with Ginny in order to protect her effectively. Although Penny is the brains of the two as she will quickly remind Georgie many times a day, both know that they need to make sure and pay attention to every sight, sound and smell that they come in contact with. Any little clue could help their humans solve this new case as long as they can get Teddy and Ginny to listen and understand them before anyone gets hurt.

This was a fun and exciting mystery that has great characters I found myself easily liking. I thought it was unique having the relationship between Teddy and Ginny along with the relationship between their two animals Penny and Georgie. The rough exterior but soft center of Teddy and the no nonsense but gentle ways of Ginny make for an amazing team and I enjoyed reading a story where these two characters played off each other in such humorous ways. At the same time it was so much fun bringing the characters of Penny and Georgie to life as this author had me laughing out loud with the way these two animals talked to each other. It was hilarious as in perfect cat-like fashion Penny reprimands Georgie for not noticing or remembering a specific detail and then in perfect dog-like fashion Georgie tries so hard to think of anything she missed to please Penny. These characters are what made this book such a great read.

Quill says: A well written and humorous mystery that had me quickly turning pages.

Book Review - Intelligent Design: Revelations

Intelligent Design: Revelations

By: J.M. Erickson
Illustrated By: Velvet Wings Designs
Publisher: AIA Publishing
Publication Date: July 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9873231-7-0
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: September 2014

The existence of life on other planets has consistently been a question that no one has a definite answer to, but that has not stopped many people from dedicating their lives to researching the unknown. In Intelligent Design: Revelations, we meet one such person, a doctoral student by the name of Andrea Perez. Andrea has dedicated years to the study of light and how it can hide things from our line of sight. Her recent study has indicated that light has somehow been hiding the existence of an unknown planet behind the sun. This means, of course, that this ‘new’ planet has been obscured from Earth’s view for millions of years. However, when anyone gets close to an answer about this obscured planet their research suddenly is lost and the scientist ends up missing.

As Andrea’s research closes in on this planet, her life is suddenly turned upside down. She is apprehended by the FBI and told that her life is in danger. Apparently there are some people in the U.S. Government who do not want the research Andrea is doing to go public. If getting rid of Andrea is the only way to get that accomplished, that is what would be done. Now, Andrea has a choice to make and that choice could take her on a journey she could never have imagined.

Meanwhile, in the midst of losing one of her closest colleagues, Roberta Joanne Riesman is feeling misplaced. Her colleague, Hiaki Nakamura, was a brilliant scientist and together they were conducting amazing research. Now he was gone, along with all of his research and there appears to be no hope of recovering it (or him!). As Riesman tries to make it through the funeral luncheon she notices some odd people lurking around who just seem out of place but she cannot understand why. Later, she is apprehended by agents of the U.S. Government who tell her she will need to spy on a friend by the name of Anthony Perez (who just happens to be Andrea's father). Riesman is told that Anthony might be a lead to an enemy of the country. Confused on what is the truth and what is not, Riesman is given no choice on the matter. She will soon come face to face with the actual truth and have to make a choice on what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

This book did not hold back one bit in creating a fast-paced science fiction storyline that I enjoyed imagining as I read, as thinking about the unknown is always interesting. Adding the element of mystery and conspiracy via the plot of the U.S. Government trying to cover up the research of an unknown planet added an extra element of suspense and excitement that made for a good read. However, there were a few times that I had trouble keeping up with where the story was as this book was told from many perspectives and from many different times. The chapters would switch from not only different characters but also jumped back and forth from past to present and even to the future, which, at times, made it difficult to follow. Overall, however, this is a very enjoyable read.
Quill says: A great read for the true science-fiction lover.

For more information on Intelligent Design: Revelations, please visit the author's website at: