Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book Review - #TheWidow

The Widow

By: Fiona Barton
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: February 2016
ISBN: 978-1101990261
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 24, 2015

It was all over in an instant, really. Glen just stepped off the curb and was run over by a bus. Later his wife shed a tear of two, but it was all a bit of fluff. “I was glad he was gone,” she thought to herself. “No more of his nonsense.” There was all kinds of nonsense like the fact that he had been “living in a fantasy online universe.” Porn. He’d even been sacked from his job at the bank, for God’s sake. Jeanie used to think she knew him, but sometimes she wondered about him. He was the proverbial older man who swept her off her feet and took her for his bride in 1989. Instead of being a bride and having to put up with all that nonsense, Jean Taylor was now a widow. Fancy that.

Glen was a simple driver, and Jeanie was a hairdresser for Hair Today. It was a comfortable enough life before all that nonsense. The worst of it began when Dawn Elliot lost little Bella. “She’s been taken,” she cried out to the 999 operator. “She’s only two.” Baby Bella and that online life would be the ruin of them. Glen’s Qwik Delivery van had been spotted over near Manor Road in Westland and that was the end of their nice little life. Jeanie had lied a bit to Deputy Inspector Bob Sparkes, but it was only a little one. The biggest lie was that everyone thought Glen had reached over the wall and picked up Bella, but it was really her mother’s fault for not watching her.

It was a relief to not have to bother with all that nonsense because frankly, Jeanie was tired of having to “keep his secrets” as well as her own. It was too much, really. Kate Waters, a reporter from the Daily Post, just walked right in and rather took over where Glen left off. She whisked her off to a hotel to get the “story of a lifetime,” but was there anything left to say? Waters and Sparkes were certainly tenacious and would never give up. Sparkes figured that Glen was a “man with an answer for everything.” Perhaps he did, but Jeanie didn’t have answers for anything. On October 2, 2006 it all began, the beginning of the end for Glen and his now widow, Jeanie. Was  she covering up for the man? Glen was always directing the show, but now he...just...wasn’t.

Fiona Barton is the type of author I could certainly become addicted to in a big way. Every chance I got, I grabbed the book, whether it be for a snippet or a few chapters. The Widow isn’t a psychological thriller in the sense that there was a frightening experience behind each door, but rather one in which the characters offer up their lives for examination. Just who were Glen and Jeanie Taylor? The suspense of not knowing what happened to Baby Bella made this one into a page turner. The development of the story reminded me of Sinclair Lewis and his ability to dissect the human psyche and serve it up on a platter. It wasn’t until the last pages that I was gobsmacked with the realization of just who the Taylors were. An amazing thriller for a first-time author.

Quill says: If you love the excitement, the allure of a psychological thriller, Fiona Barton’s Widow will make you wonder about the couple next door!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review - Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt! @frankmurphy2009

Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt!

By: Frank Murphy
Illustrated by: Richard Walz
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-0375869372
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: December 2015

As a child in New York City, Teddy Roosevelt was a sickly child. The pollution of the city aggravated his asthma and made it hard for the boy to breathe. Fortunately, his parents knew what to do – they moved to the country and told their son to “take a hike!” His parents’ wise advice helped cure Teddy of his ills, and gave him a life-long love of nature.

Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt! chronicles the life of President Roosevelt with a strong emphasis on his love of nature and desire to preserve the beauty of our country for future generations. Several pages are devoted to his early life, hiking through the woods, observing animals, and writing down everything he noted. Readers will even see the young man in his “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History” and want to follow his cue. And while Teddy loved spending his time in the great outdoors, he was distraught to see how his fellow man was destroying so much of it in the name of progress. What could he do?

Teddy’s love of animals and nature didn’t stop when he went off to college. Instead, he continued to learn and his dorm room was shared with several animals including a giant turtle! Upon graduation, Teddy wanted to find a way to help save both the animals and land that was being gobbled up by those wishing to build and make money. Readers will learn what Teddy did and how he preserved so much land for future generations to enjoy.

I had a smile on my face throughout the reading of Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt! The story is fun and engaging, the pictures bright and inviting, and youngsters will delight in seeing all sorts of animals on just about every page. The subtle way that Teddy grew older as the story progressed was well done, as was the message of conservation, which was conveyed without being preachy. Readers will learn about the health benefits of caring for the environment as Teddy’s well-being was directly affected by the fresh air and his robust physical activity while enjoying the wild outdoors. Add in the “Step into Reading” rating where the level of the book is clearly delineated (this book is rated a 'Step 3' for grades 1-3/children reading on their own - more specifics on the publisher's website), and you have a winner. Overall, this is a great history lesson for kids and would make an excellent resource for those who need to do a project on one of this nation’s presidents.

Quill says: A great book for young readers to learn about America’s twenty-sixth president AND about the importance of conservation.

For more information on Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt!, please visit the publisher's website at:

Book Review - Storm Buddies

Storm Buddies (Paperback w/Plush Toys)

By: Melissa Pope
Illustrated By: Beth Zyglowicz
Publisher: 1st Books
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4918-1097-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: December 2015

Any child or parent (any human, for that matter) will agree: every single one of us suffers from at least one fear. Whether that be the creepy spider, the Stephen King-‘esque’ clown, the boss who has the power to fire us...the list goes on and on. But one of the largest fears out there still remains those loud storms that produce scary lightning and thunder. The kind that keeps us awake and makes us want to crawl under the bed. Well, believe it or not, there is now an answer to that problem.

This amazing (and much-needed) book, written by Melissa Pope, delves into that fear. Not only does it help and support kids, but Pope also uses plush “buddies” to drive home her point. With this incredible book (also available with just the paperback) comes a small, blue, soft pillow—and inside, three “buddies” await. A kitten, a horse, and a puppy are all there to hold and snuggle with while reading the book.

This is a tale of Tommy, a young boy who owns that fear of storms. His family has tried everything they can to help Tommy not be so scared, from praying for him to giving him snacks and bringing out the flashlights when the house goes dark from the storm. But poor Tommy just can’t be calmed. night while brushing his teeth, Tommy sees something move under his covers. (Another fear?) Not at all. When he looks, there is a blue pillow in the shape of a cloud with those three small animals inside that promise Tommy they will not only calm his fear, but they will also be his buddies forever.

It is no surprise that the author was able to 'hit the mark' for all the children out there. Once an elementary school teacher, Melissa is now a stay-at-home Mom. She loves spending time with her three children, and this is a tale that’s actually based on one of her own child’s fears. Her goal was to create characters that would come alive when children needed them the most. And, as it was with Toy Story, these characters are a true delight to behold.

Quill says: This is a book that will definitely be that “calm in the storm” that so many need. And they will absolutely love the gift of these three life-long pals. Great job!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Books In For Review

Take a look at the books that have just arrived for review!

Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt! (Step into Reading) by Frank MurphyA Step 3 Step into Reading Biography Reader about Teddy Roosevelt and his efforts to protect our environment and establish national parks. Teddy battled asthma all his life, and the list of things he shouldn’t do was long. But when people told him “you can’t,” he set about proving them wrong. This book focuses on his inexhaustible enthusiasm and his commitment to preserving America’s natural resources. Step 3 Readers feature engaging characters in easy-to-follow plots about popular topics. For children who are ready to read on their own.

The widow by Fiona Barton When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything...

The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings by Mike Berenstain Stan and Jan Berenstain launched the Berenstain Bears books in 1962 with The Big Honey Hunt. Since that time, more than 365 Berenstain Bears books have been published, making it one of the best-selling children's series ever. Today, Mike Berenstain continues his parents' tradition of creating warm and engaging stories featuring the lovable Bear family. In The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings, the cubs learn about the many blessings in their lives, and especially the greatest blessing of all-the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter. The short, simple story and well-loved characters provide toddlers with a perfect introduction to this very important Christian holiday. Ages 2-5.

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander All things bright and beautiful,/All creatures great and small,/All things wise and wonderful,/The Lord God made them all. First published by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848, this favorite hymn has become a mainstay of churches and Sunday school classes everywhere. Here artist Katy Hudson brings new joy to the words with her fresh and bright watercolor style. Readers can join in the fun as they follow two little girls and their brother on a day filled with the discovery of all things bright and beautiful. Ages 4-7.

Book Review - The Stuff of Stars @DavidLitwack

The Stuff of Stars

By: David Litwack
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: November 2015
ISBN: 978-1622534364
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 15, 2015

A young woman of the “Darkness” had washed up on the shore, a shore that came after a long journey across an unknown sea. It was a silent boy who broke Orah from her brief dream-like existence on the sand, but someone was missing. It was Nathaniel. Orah and her husband, Nathaniel, had spent “months confined to a cell in Temple City,” but had journeyed together in search of a knowledge that eluded their people for so long. Nate had been a hero of the revolution, but the time had come for them to leave, possibly to recover the secrets of the past and build yet another world. Indeed, Orah’s chronometer and sextant had guided them into a world filled with greenies and technos. Kara, a teen techno, just might be the one to take them to the mystical dreamers they’d heard about in the Village of Little Pond.

It was a world overrun with orphaned techno children for their parents had entered the mountain. William, their now decrepit mentor had “forbidden the children from going into the mountain fortress until” they were grown. The greenies, who labored and communed with the land, were led by Annabel, the earth mother. Caleb was determined to destroy the dreamers, who lay in cocoons in the mountain. It was a soon-to-be doomed world if Orah couldn’t converse with the dreamers, who held the secrets of the universe. The dreamers’ minds were united as one, but their bodies were little more than decaying shells.

“We call them greenies,” the mentor explained to Orah and Nathaniel, “because they believe in the land. They call us technos because we believe in machines and in our ability to someday relearn the science behind them.” Dead machines and people who couldn’t weave a decent basket, let alone weave cloth from the wild flax in their fields. The pathos of the world that lay before them could destroy the very knowledge they needed to save them. The only way to discover the secrets was to go to the mountain and enter the dream world of those dreamers. Paranoia began to erupt from both sides... Were Orah and Nathaniel taking the side of the greenies? Were the technos twisting their minds? Would they die trying to find out the secrets of a world gone awry?

The Stuff of Stars is dystopian literature at its best. It’s the sequel to The Children of Darkness, a book I wasn’t privileged to read, yet I thoroughly enjoyed Orah and Nathaniel’s journey into the unknown. It could easily have been a stand-alone novel, yet is the centerpiece of a trilogy. I didn’t feel lost, but rather was instantly swept up into the excitement of these young seekers. This novel is a tug of war between two post-apocalyptic-like societies, each one firmly believing that their way is the right way for their people, for all people. I could easily imagine our world living in this dystopian society. I cast aside all doubt that this unreal world wasn’t real as soon as I began walking with Orah and Nathaniel. This book could have been the beginning in a series, but certainly not the last. It is simply one of those novels that make me want to travel along with it discovering the dreams that miracles are made of.

Quill says: If you are a dream seeker, Orah and Nathaniel will take you into a world quite unlike any other, but which world will you find yourself in?

For more information on The Stuff of Stars, please visit the author's website at:

Book Review - Embracing the Wild in Your Dog

Embracing the Wild in Your Dog: An Understanding of the Authors of Your Dog's Behavior - Nature and the Wolf

By: Bryan Bailey
Publisher: FastPencil Publishing
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 978-1619334717
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 21, 2015

Just what makes this guy tick? No, I’m not thinking about Bryan Bailey because I now know that the call of the wild makes him tick, makes his heart beat just that much faster. Since Storm came to live with us, I’ve been much more interested in what he’s all about. I’ve seen and heard some very disturbing things lately, including the fact that a woman was mauled within an inch of her life (literally) by a couple of dogs just up the street. The dogs remain comfortably behind closed doors and for some time there was a community in turmoil. It still is, but more of the discussion is about poop, wayward dogs, uncontrollable ones, and just plain old dog talk.

The tale begins, and it does read like a tale, when we find Bailey learning about the wilds of Alaska. His seemingly merciless mentor began to teach a young boy how to face his world and survive. It’s a tale so masterfully woven into the threads of this book I didn’t want it to end, but to go on for a few more pages. It’s obviously the background material that gave me great insight into what the man was all about. Not unlike his mentor, words aren’t minced. Those dogs aren’t pets, but rather “we own make-believe humans in fur coats, and we treat them as such.” No, Bailey obviously isn’t one who’s even going to care one whit what anyone says about him.

I read a little more and the book quickly came alive for me when Bailey was confronted by an Indian. It all came about when that Alaskan Indian perceived he just couldn’t handle his lead dog, Ranger. The race would be on, but could he win? “He’s no dog,” the man stated. “He’s a wolf. Treat him like one, and he will run faster and with more spirit.” Bailey now was faced with discovering just what that Indian meant. My curiosity piqued, my race was on to delve into pages trying to find out what I probably instinctively knew. I wanted to learn about that wolf in my dog and how to work with it to my advantage.

And then the man pounds us with his beliefs, all relative to the fact that he truly believes there’s plenty of wolf in our dogs. Ah, yes, and then there’s that line that’s going to be a big turnoff for some: “if we tried putting our foot in our problematic dog’s butt every now and then...” Of course that’s not the beginning nor the end of Bailey’s controversial stance on much of anything dog-related. I learned what he thought of things like no-kill shelters, dog trainers (not much), dog aggression, survival of the fittest and where and how it got misplaced. One of my favorite lines is that “Obedience is required. That is the rule.” Well, that’s a couple of lines, but I’ve only got two words for those who want to know more about their it.

Quill says: A controversial viewpoint for many, but a totally fascinating one all dog owners should read!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Interview with Author Dr. Sherry L. Meinberg

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Deb Fowler is talking with Dr. Sherry L. Meinberg, author of A Cluster of Cancers: A Simple Coping Guide for Patients

FQ: As you mentioned in A Cluster of Cancers, you found it necessary to “get past the trauma and drama” after your diagnosis. Just how long did it take you to accomplish this, and when did you feel it was critical to your well-being?

MEINBERG: Not long at all. A couple of days, at the most. That is because I had experienced other major trauma and drama in my life, and lived to tell the tale: epilepsy as a child, physical, mental, and emotional abuse from my first husband, and 50+ years of being stalked (I am considered to be the longest-stalked person in the nation—which includes deliberate car accidents, guns, kidnapping, etc.), alongside my extremely high blood-pressure (the systolic number was 300, for which I was called the “walking dead” by hospital staff), and several other unrelated operations, all while teaching for 34 years in inner city public schools (with the daily negative nonsense involved), and 16 years as a core university professor. So it was like a “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and still wearing it” experience; a “here-we-go-again” roller coaster ride.

FQ: It’s not easy to even hear the word “cancer,” let along have it. Many people run through a gamut of emotions, including anger. Were you angry, and how did you deal with it?

MEINBERG: I was irate, more than any thing else, shouting at the Universe, “Oh, come on! Cut me some slack here!” But I had already gone through the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance— proposed by the great Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., with previous above-mentioned experiences, and didn’t feel the need to address those issues again. Other than a short fit of anger at first. I thought I had paid my dues already. And I was in the middle of writing “Autism ABC” (a book for both children and adults), and the timing wasn’t right for me. I felt that I didn’t have the extra time, effort, or energy to deal with cancer, as I was so totally focused on my manuscript. The general public didn’t know much about autism back then, and I wanted to finish my book, without worrying about my own health. Having cancer later was better for me, but the Universe had different plans. I figured that my cancer situation was just one more hurdle I had to jump. So I decided to treat my cancer as a temporary experience, and rolled up my sleeves, and carried on. I had learned early on that moaning, groaning, and crying about any situation didn’t help matters, and that I just needed to barrel on through the ordeal, and get on with my life. So I focused on raising autism awareness, and gave my cancer situation short shrift. After all, I had lived through other tough experiences (I never thought I’d make it past forty), and I was still here! My positive approach helped me to continue writing, instead of freaking out over my cancer prognosis, wherein I was told to go home and get my house in order (a living will and health proxy, or power of attorney)! The good news is that I survived the operation, in which a five-pound cancer tumor completely encapsulated my left kidney, so both had to be removed. It was a “touch and go” procedure, in which a second physician had to come in and help). Thereafter, Autism ABC (2009) won 23 awards.

Author Dr. Sherry L. Meinberg

FQ: You had a rather negative experience while shopping around for medical care. Perhaps you can impart to your readership just how important it is to find an oncologist or specialist they can work with.

MEINBERG: Choosing your urologist is one of the most important health decisions you can make. You need to have an “interview” appointment, to use as a kind of litmus test. Even though the doctor has the necessary skills, consider your compatibility for the long run. Are you comfortable being in the same room together for any length of time? Having good communication and collaboration with your doctor is paramount.

At first, I met with a cranky, elderly doctor, who told me,” You made your bed, now lie in it.” Say, what?! There was no understanding, support, or respect involved. His way was the only way it was going to be. He was way past the time when he should have retired. I passed. Next, I met with a middle-aged doctor, a Lord of his own Kingdom kind of guy, who sat behind his huge desk that appeared to separate him from the unrefined and riff raff. His eyes bored through me. He never arose, nor did he shake hands. He rarely smiled, and when he did, it seemed forced. He was abrupt and impatient. He appeared to love the sound of his own voice, allowing little input from me. He was extremely rude, treating me like a kindergartner. I demanded someone else. Later on, I met Dr. John Paul Brusky, and we instantly bonded. I felt safe in his hands.

FQ: You dedicated this book to your oncologist, Dr. John Paul Brusky. What qualities or treatment approaches did he have that made you know he was “the one” for you?

MEINBERG: A cancer patient is in for a lifelong relationship with his or her doctor. As such, you need to find one that is a fit for you, one in which you have a connection, someone that can be trusted, and whose personality is acceptable. First of all, Dr. John Paul Brusky had a smile on his face, as he walked in and introduced himself. He gave me total eye-contact, instead of being focused on files, handheld papers, or the computer. His delivery was quiet and self-assured. He actually listened to what I had to say. He included my husband in all the discussions, answering our questions, at length. He made sure we understood all the tests involved, the diagnosis, treatment options, the procedures, and the prognosis. He didn’t give us the bum’s rush, with an eye on his watch or the doorknob. He appeared to genuinely care (this wasn’t just a job for him, it was a calling). He also had been a practicing physician for years, and was the head of the Urology department for the Kaiser Permanente Orchard Medical Offices, in Downey, CA, so he had the background and experience needed. and was highly successful in his field.

FQ: The online Mayo Clinic was one resource you personally studied. What were some of the other online resources that you found especially helpful in your journey towards wellness?

MEINBERG: As a patient, you can’t expect the doctor to “fix” you. You must actively participate in your recovery process. Get moving. Take action. Do something toward regaining your health. Fully engage yourself in the subject. One way to do so, is to read cancer books and magazine articles, and use online resources, for both general and specific information, such as:

FQ: You are infectiously optimistic and your writing uplifting. Are you a natural-born optimist, or was this something you learned along life’s path?

MEINBERG: I don’t live a cookie cutter existence. My weird, wacky, off-the-wall daily experiences are often hard for others to believe. But with some space and time between such encounters, I can usually find something funny and positive about any negative events. As Mary Poppins sang, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” All such occurrences become story fodder. I can tell the most vile classroom or personal experiences during my lectures, but have audiences laughing a short time later. My attitude is: Leave ‘em with a smile!

FQ: A brief mention was made of your sixty-two books about dreams and dream interpretation. Obviously a special interest for you. Tell us a bit about this interest in dreams.

MEINBERG: I had married a psychotic schizophrenic and didn’t realize it, until we were driving home from the wedding, during which he said three things, which totally changed my life: (1) “Oh, by the way, I lost my wallet, so we can’t go on a honeymoon.” What a liar, I thought, but I was so mad, I couldn’t articulate what I wanted to say. (2) A little further on, he said, “Oh, by the way, I quit my job, to play the horses full time.” I was shocked silly by this, as I came from a family that was strictly against gambling, and how was I going to explain this to them? And I was a new teacher, with very little income, that couldn’t cover my own expenses, much less his. What to do? What to do? Again, I was so shocked, I couldn’t utter a response. (3) A little further along, he announced, in a perfectly normal sounding voice: “Oh, by the way, if you ever have a baby, I’ll drown it in the bathtub.” I was struck dumb by then, realizing that I had married a monster. [The details are chronicled in my third book, The Bogeyman: Stalking and its Aftermath, which became the premier episode “The Bogeyman” on the Investigative Discovery Channel (I.D.), on 12/12/12. I was later told that it became their most popular rerun.]

Anyway, he said that he would kill my family, if I ever left him, so I endured. I couldn’t get doctors, the police, or the legislature, to help me. Of course, this was long before the general public paid attention to spousal abuse, and long before the word “stalker” was coined.

And so there came a time when the Night Train chugged into my life, and my vaguely threatening anxiety dreams graduated into full-blown nightmares. Now the creepy-crawling terrors of the night took hold, and I slid into the world of Hieronymous Bosch. Later, I dreamed a series of operatic dramas, including voice-overs, flashbacks, and fantasy sequences—two or three each night—in which I was murdered in the culminating scene. Each in a different manner. By my husband. These dreams were brilliantly intense, and colorful, with accompanying sound effects, while the disturbing strains of Chopin’s Opus (“Marche Funebre”) played solemnly in the background: Dum, dum, da dum, dum, dum, dum, da dum, da dum. It was all too Gothically spooky.

Although each murder was creatively different from the next, the final scene was always the same. My coffin was slowly lowered into the ground, and after thumping to a stop, I could hear the dirt shoveled in on top of the lid: thud, thud, thud. Jolted wide awake, freaked out and jittery, with my heart hammering wildly in my chest, as a warped recording of “The worms crawl in...” ominously scratched into my awareness. Of course, with 31 flavors of fear coursing through my mind, I was afraid to go back to sleep.

So, being a champion researcher, I plunged heavily into the subject of dreams, reading everything I could get my hands on, in an attempt to understand my situation. It was writ so large, you could have read it from a Space Station, but I ignored the obvious, of course. Consciously, I hadn’t a clue, but luckily instinct and intuition lent their guidance. Thank goodness, I was picking up the information subliminally, so I finally got the message: I was being sized up for a chalk outline. My husband was literally plotting my imminent death.

Then I started reconsidering all the near misses, and the variety of unusual incidents, and bizarre accidents, I had encountered over a number of months, and putting them all together, the light finally dawned. Duh. At length, I accused him of planning to murder me. Breaking into a malevolent grin, he happily answered in the affirmative, taunting in exuberant glee, “A wife can’t testify against her husband!” I haven’t carried life insurance since.

FQ: Many people do turn their “problems and woes over to a Higher Power.” Was this a motivating factor that helped you to push beyond all the worldly woes and stress cancer brought to you?

MEINBERG: Of course, I believe in a Higher Power! But I surely didn’t, when I was going through the worst of my stalking problems. I had lost my belief. Over the following years, I worked myself out of that deep, dark hole, and have resumed a strong, spiritual faith. Studies show that resolving spiritual issues can significantly support your recovery from cancer, as your spiritual or religious connection has a healing impact. I truly believe that the form one’s faith takes—whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever—is less important than the love it imparts.

FQ: Now that you are a cancer survivor and have written a book to encourage others, what’s next in Dr. Sherry Meinberg’s life?

MEINBERG: A Cluster of Cancers was written this year (2015), as was Seizing the Teachable Moment, and Alzheimer’s ABC. The first two were also published in 2015, whereas I am still waiting for the art to be completed for that last book (which is for both children and adults), so it will be published in 2016. No grass grows under my feet! That will be my 14th nonfiction book. I have no solid plans beyond that, until I get excited about another subject. I am all about getting the word out! As such, I am open to suggestions, from any and all (feel free to contact me at:

To learn more about A Cluster of Cancers: A Simple Coping Guide for Patients please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Book Review - The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas

The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas

By: Keith Brockett
Illustrated by: Joseph Cowman
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 978-1585368891
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 16, 2015

A well-lit theater looked down upon a sleepy, snowy little town. Wreaths hung from the lamp posts and colored lights twinkled along the eaves of the houses. It was as if the town was waiting for the big event and indeed it was because it was opening night for “The Nutcracker.” It was a doubly special night because it was also Christmas Eve and Santa would soon be on his way! All was well...almost. At the theater things began to go wrong, disastrous actually.

Things just seemed to go from bad to worse as the day progressed. “The programs had come from the printer that day / with titles misspelled, ‘The Nutsnacker’ Ballet. / The error was funny and might have amused, / if not for those programs that couldn’t be used.” The stagehands were sick, the spotlight had tumbled to the floor, and the theater cat had ripped up the tulle skirts. Of course without skirts the Snowflakes and Flowers couldn’t perform and they all began to cry.

All the sparkle and glittery gems had fallen off the tutus and it looked like a pair of mice were stealing a sword. “But worse was to come. With a crash! And a yell! / The Christmas tree used in the party scene fell! / Its ornaments shattered across the stage floor / and none of its lights would light up anymore.” Even the Mouse King was missing. The little snow-covered town was going to be sorely disappointed if the show didn’t go on. Could anything be done to save the theater from the worst disaster ever?

Similar to many Christmas tales, this one is adapted from Clement C. Moore’s poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas. Indeed it was a disaster in the making at the little theater that young children will find amusing, especially those who love ballet. I loved the rhyming scheme, one that’s so difficult to do well. The touches of humor, both in the verse and the artwork are totally charming. Every turn of the page finds yet another disaster that will delight. In the back of the book is a glossary of ballet and theater terms and a brief overview of “The Nutcracker” Ballet.

Quill says: A very unique and fun tale that will amuse even the most curmudgeonly person!

Book Review - Princess Rosie's Rainbows

Princess Rosie's Rainbows

By: Bette Killion
Illustrated by: Kim Jacobs
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1937786441
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 16, 2015

A beautiful rainbow arced above a quaint little village. The village was nestled in a valley below a most magnificent castle under the clouds. Ah, but that castle wasn’t yet full because the handsome King and beautiful Queen wished for a child. It wasn’t long before their wish came true because on a “rainy summer day a daughter was born to them.” Of course the first thing she saw was one of those beautiful rainbows the villagers often saw above them. Unfortunately, the Princess of Rose-colored Light would be “truly happy only when a rainbow was in the sky.”

Princess Rosie wasn’t full of smiles and “often wore a frown.” The only time that smile lit up her face was when there was a rainbow in the sky. “I wish,” she exclaimed, “I could have a rainbow all the time.” There was nothing too good for the King’s little princess and soon he issued a decree. “A bag of gold to anyone who can bring forever rainbows to make our princess smile.” Faraway visitors began to arrive, bearing those forever rainbows, but of course none of them were real.

There were rainbow parasols, banners, paper lanterns, kites, and a rainbow bowl of fruit. No, none of them were real. Near and far they continued to come for who would not want the King’s bag of gold? A procession rode through the valley headed by bakers carrying a special forever rainbow cake, but alas that rainbow wasn’t real either. “They are beautiful,” Princess Rosie declared, “but they are not real.” Soon the Royal Astronomer stepped forth at the bequest of the Queen. He had something special to show Princess Rosie, but were his rainbows the forever kind or just one more disappointment?

This is a whimsical forever rainbow fairytale that will enchant young and old alike. The most striking thing about the book is the magnificently regal artwork that complements the tale perfectly. It definitely has Maxfield Parrish-like qualities, yet somewhat softer, more fitting for a child’s fairytale. Of course the moral of the tale is that happiness comes from within, not from things around us. In the back of the book is a fun science activity, “Make Your Own Rainbow.” The basic concept of what rainbows are and how you can make your own are covered.

Quill says: A fun, beautiful book that will complement any fairytale collection.

Book Review - In a Different Key

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

By: John Donvan
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: January 2016
ISBN: 978-0307985675
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 16, 2015

I simply didn’t know enough, next to nothing actually, about the trials that families go through when they have a child with autism. Like many, I could probably spout out a few statistics and have heard a few stories now and then, nothing particularly earth-shattering I suppose. My only encounter with an autistic child was some time ago in a school hallway. The boy was so out of control I was wondering why they couldn’t get a grip on his behavioral issues. Perhaps I was ignorant, but in retrospect I simply didn’t know anything about autism.

My journey through this book began in the preface where I met Jodi DiPiazza. The introduction to this child was brief, but poignant as I made my way to YouTube to learn a bit more about her. “Night of Too Many Stars” brought this little star to a stage where she performed with Katy Perry. Jodi played the piano and sang “Firework” with this mega-star. I was mesmerized with the performance, now fully aware of how loved she was and how hard she’d worked to get where she was. I wanted to know more about autism, I had to.

It turns out I knew more about autism than I expected, but it was a phenomenon hidden from plain sight. Yes, I’d seen these children before, I’d read about them, and had actually worked with many. The more I read, the more I recognized and remembered them. What about that little girl who bit me so many times? The little echolalic boy I dearly loved who fought gallantly when anyone pulled him out of his little world. Yes, I knew them, but knew nothing about them. This book took me back through time to learn about these children.

Case 1 just happened to be Donald Gray Triplett. This boy obviously was not the first, but the first child to be “officially” diagnosed and followed. His mother Mary was under a great deal of stress and later exclaimed to Leo Kanner that she had a “hopelessly insane child.” Later in the book I found that the word “insane” had been tossed little Archie Castro’s way, but he was sent up the river to an insane asylum when he was a five-year-old, but I digress. The Tripletts did have some money, a fact that didn’t hurt and aside from some time at the Lewis’s farm, Donald remained home. I kept reading.
Yes, I’d even met these children when I was a child myself. Have you read about the Wild Boy of Aveyron? It was none other than Victor, but he wasn’t wild (not really), he was autistic. This was a book I needed to read, to read to understand these children, to understand what their parents face, to understand what society faces, and to understand how we can help them. This is a narrative history that captivated me in more ways than one. My emotions ran the gamut from anger and shock to becoming thrilled right along with Ruth Sullivan when she said “we had hope” when the National Society for Autistic Children was born on November 14, 1965. In the backmatter there’s an Autistic Timeline, expansive chapter-by-chapter source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Quill says: I learned, but I now want to learn more.

Book Review - Game Changer

Game Changer: John Mclendon and the Secret Game

By: John Coy
Illustrated by: Randy Duburke
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1467726047
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 16, 2015

Two cars quickly filled with young white men, “a group of basketball players who thought they were the best in the state of North Carolina.” No doubt they were among the best, but they were clueless as to the style and presence of their opponents until they later hit the basketball court. The game would be secret and even the players themselves didn’t know who they would play. It was a secret that would be kept for decades, one that these young players would always remember. Members of the Duke University Medical School team were prepped to play, but just who were their opponents?

As they were driven through the seedy back streets of Durham, “they covered the windows with quilts so they wouldn’t be seen.” When they exited the cars they “pulled their coats over they heads and walked through the women’s locker room into a gymnasium.” Their faces were tentative and for good reason. In 1944 the consequences for “race mixing” were serious, so serious that anyone caught doing it could be put to death. Before them stood five of the Eagles, from the North Carolina College of Negroes and their coach, John McLendon.

Segregation had kept them apart because the Eagles “were prohibited from playing against white teams,” but today prohibition would be set aside...there would be a game. They looked at one another and only saw one thing and that was a basketball game. The game began slowly, clumsily for some of them had “never been this close to a person of a different color” and they “were hesitant to touch or bump into one another.” It wasn’t long before they forgot about color and began to make their moves, erupting into a flurry of activity on the court. Just what would happen on that court that would change the course of history?

This is the amazing story of a “secret game” of basketball that young readers will love. The tale is about a little-known game that proved that race doesn’t really matter when it comes to sports. What really mattered was all of the young men loved the game and could learn about each other on the court. I loved the pacing of the tale, the build-up of tension that walked me right onto that court as the members of the Duke University Medical School team and the North Carolina College of Negroes Eagles sized one another up. It would almost seem unimaginable to young people today that there was such extreme racism. It’s through books such as this one they will learn. The artwork is muted, executed in such a subtle manner that it gives it a retro feel.

Quill says: An amazing work that is a Junior Literary Guild Selection.

Book Review - Writing Outstanding Opinion Pieces

Writing Outstanding Opinion Pieces

By: Nancy Loewen
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2015
ISBN: 978-1467779050
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 16, 2015

Opinions, opinions, opinions! Perhaps if you're the mega-opinionated sort of person, you just might want to share some of them in your writing. You could decide to write a commentary about something you may be passionate about. The most "effective commentaries often start with a specific incident or example and put into a larger context." Not into writing a commentary? You can still let your voice be heard by writing a letter to the editor or perhaps you could write a review about a product you've used or a book you've read.

The first thing you'll have to do is select a topic. You may have plenty of opinions, but selecting one to write about could be rather difficult. If you do decide to go outside your comfort level and write a commentary, you'll need to remember that "commentaries don't have to be negative." Well-researched, but not always negative. Get that notebook out and start jotting down your thoughts! After you start writing them down, you may learn "how to pay attention to your thoughts and experiences - and then connect your ideas to what others may be experiencing."

Can you just spout off what you want in an opinion piece? You could, but "not if you want to be taken seriously." As with most types of writing, especially opinion-based, you'll need to gather evidence to support your work, research your topic, and document those sources. If you're planning on writing a review, check out some of the questions the author suggests you think about. For example, you could ask yourself, "Which scene in your book had [me] turning pages as fast as [I] could?" In this book, you'll also learn about structuring your work, making an outline, the "essentials" of good writing, drafting your works, and you'll learn many more effective tools that will help you write those "outstanding opinion pieces!"

Young wannabe writers have lots of opinions, but putting them on paper can be quite another story...almost literally. This book is a great motivator and included are several sidebars with additional suggestions, including those from established writers. For example, Colbert King from the 'Washington Post' suggests young writers "don't shy away from the personal angle." Special emphasis on topics is indicated by bold print. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, suggestions for making a living by writing, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent guide that will help and encourage young writers to voice their opinions.

Book Review - Writing Notable Narrative Nonfiction

Writing Notable Narrative Nonfiction

by: Sue Hook
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2015
ISBN: 978-1467780841
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2015

Perhaps you've always dreamed of being a writer, but just where does one start? The dream can be real and rest assured that "If you have thoughts and ideas and stories in your head, you 'are' a writer." It may be perfectly clear to you that you're interested in writing nonfiction, but what might not be clear is how to go about it. There's no GPS to lead the way, but "this book will guide you through the process of writing narrative nonfiction, from beginning to end."

First up on the agenda is the selection of a topic. You just might have a lot of ideas, but narrowing down the possibilities can be difficult. If you are uncertain, or haven't found a topic that's a standout one, you can "brainstorm ideas." A couple of methods are suggested, but the choice is yours. Once you have decided on a topic, "you're ready for your first piece of writing." Create that title and get ready to gather together the information you'll need.

Gathering those facts you'll need will require that you "find some good resources for information to add to your piece." Of course you will not only have your own memories, but also will need to interview, research, check out databases, and more. This book is a step-by-step guide in which you'll also learn how to work in a chronological manner, select a point of view, write and rewrite, learn to pace your work, and a guide in which you'll learn many more interesting ways to write some truly "notable narrative nonfiction!"

It's not always easy for anyone to begin writing, but I feel this book not only provides a framework, but also offers up a huge dollop of motivation. There are sidebars with advice from several nonfiction writers, including Jeanette Walls, Amy Tan, John McPhee and others. There are numerous informative charts that add additional support. For example, one gives examples of literary techniques students can use. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, suggestions for making a living by writing, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is an excellent guide that will help and encourage young writers to put that pen to paper.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Awards Sell Books! #bookawards

Don't wait! Nominations close Tuesday, December 15, 2015.  Twenty-one categories including Best Debut Author, Best Seasonal and Best Poetry.  Learn more at:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Book Review - The Puffin of Death @bettywebb

The Puffin of Death: A Gunn Zoo Mystery

By: Betty Webb
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: November 2015
ISBN: 9781464204142
Reviewed by: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: December 13, 2015

As a zookeeper in California, Theodore Bentley, who goes by “Teddy,” is used to sunshine and fair weather.That's why, when she gets a notice from her boss that she is going to Iceland to pick up a polar bear cub, Teddy is a little hesitant. With no say in the situation Teddy packs her bags and flies into a small airport bundled up in her warmest clothes. However, to her delight when she arrives the temperature at this time of year ranges from 60-70 during the day, so she actually feels right at home. She soon meets Bryndis, the local zookeeper, who quickly introduces her to the young cub named Magnus. Fortunately, this was trip was not intended to be all work so Bryndis helps her find time to enjoy the local sites.

On one particularly beautiful horseback ride along the cliffs of a small village Teddy comes across something unimaginable - a dead body that immediately shouts murder. The bullet hole in this man’s head is proof enough of that and now Teddy finds herself a star witness in a murder in a foreign country. The man’s name turns out to be Mr. Simon Parr, an avid birdwatcher who won a huge Powerball prize and then treated a group of friends to a once in a lifetime bird watching trip in Iceland. Unfortunately, the money might have been a motive for one of this group to murder their generous host. After a few questions, the local police release Teddy and make sure to say that she needs to stay out of the investigation completely or she will regret it. As much as she tries to abide by that rule Teddy soon finds herself trying to solve the crime alone when her new friend and fellow zookeeper Bryndis finds out that her boyfriend Ragnar is a suspect.

Now, Teddy finds she is looking for ways to be around the group of birders who most likely have a potential murderer among them. At first she simply roams from person to person asking pertinent questions to see if one will slip up and say something that could present potential clues. At first the snooping just causes more confusion than ever as Teddy comes to see that each person in the group has their own colorful past which leaves her with way more questions than answers. However, when this plan turns dangerous as another murder takes place, Teddy is not sure if it is worth getting mixed up in this investigation.

Author Betty Webb creates another wonderful mystery novel with her protagonist Teddy Bentley, finding herself in the middle of another murder case, with no intention to be there of course. The picturesque setting of the unforgettable landscape of Iceland presents a perfect backdrop to this story as it was easy to picture the amazing scenery with each page. Along with the wild territory of Iceland Webb brings an amazing look at the wildlife of the country that made for a great read.

Quill says: A thrilling mystery with an ideal setting for a killer showdown.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Feathered Quill Book Awards - Nominations Close Next Week! #bookaward

If you were thinking of nominating your book for a Feathered Quill Book Award, don't wait!  Nominations for this year's award program are due by next week - Tuesday, December 15 to be exact.  Then it's time to sort the books and ship them out to the judges.  Wouldn't this seal look great on your book????   Learn more at:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review - Country Store

Country Store: It’s All About the Journey

By: Tim Noah
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 978-1517305352
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: December 9, 2015

Fiddley-diddley-diddley-dee, it’s a beautiful day and time for some fun! A young boy has a nickel to spend, his faithful dog at his side and the sun is shining. What a perfect time to go to the Country Store!

As he kicks a can down the path, our young man (we never learn his name) happily sings his tune while his dog wags away. It isn’t long before they run into Bob, who is standing along the path, hoe in hand, a blade of grass in his mouth. Bob asks, “Would ya help me do my chores so I can go to the store?” The two friends head to Bob’s farm where chores are quickly completed and the journey to the Country Store can continue.

Time passes, the sun is high in the sky, and the travelers are getting tired. Along comes Jim on his bike and before long the three friends are all riding high and fast on the bike. Fiddley-diddley-diddley-dee! Will they ever get to the Country Store?

Country Store: It’s All About the Journey is truly about the journey – and what a fantastic journey it is! The kids have lots of adventures along the way and your young reader will LOVE joining them. The illustrations are wonderful – bright, slightly goofy, and setting off the fun tone of the story perfectly. Several of them are downright hysterical (check out the full page illustration of the cow – her expression is priceless!). Did I mention that there’s a CD that’s included so your child can sing along to the story? If you’re looking for a story your child will want to read, and sing, again and again, check out Country Store!

Quill says: Delightful, entertaining and with a catchy tune too, Country Store is a fantastically fun journey to the Country Store. Let’s go!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Review - Florist Grump @flowershopmyst

Florist Grump: A Flower Shop Mystery

By: Kate Collins
Publisher: Obsidian
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-0451473431
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 8, 2015

New Chapel, Indiana was once again quiet, but it hadn’t always been that way for Abigail “Abby” Knight Salvare. Abby and her husband, Marco, had been some busy at the Salvare Detective Agency and had solved a whopping eleven murder cases. Of course Abby was known as the town’s “trouble magnet,” but it is what it is and everything was coming up roses (almost literally). Business was good at Bloomers, her flower shop and the couple was settling in with her parents while they went house-hunting. Cousin Jillian had her baby, Harper Abigail Lynne Osborne, but so far the only baby on their horizon was Seedy, their kind of “ugly mutt.” Quiet was cool, but it wouldn’t be that way for long.

“The man’s been strangled, Abby,” Marco broke the news to her. Now just how was a man sitting bolt upright on the courthouse steps dead. Sergeant Sean Riley said two words that explained just why he was deader than a mackerel on ice. Rigor mortis. The man had been strangled and put on the steps. It turned out to be Dallas Stone, a familiar figure at the savings and loan, and he’d been dead for at least a day. Why on earth would anyone want to murder anyone, let alone put him on display? Seedy had tried to lead her to the scene, but Abby was in too big of a gotta-get-breakfast-sandwiches errand to stop. No way was she taking on any more cases, let alone this one.

Riley thought that Jingles the window washer was involved. He was such a gentle soul it was hard for anyone to believe that he was capable of any wrongdoing whatsoever, let alone strangling a man. However, said Jingles, who was really Samuel Atkins, knew Dallas a long time ago. There was the simple matter of a gold money clip in Stone’s pocket with good old Sam’s initials on it. It rather looked like the beloved Jingles just might have had something to do with the murder after all. Nope, Abby was not going to take this case. “Marco, you spoke for both of us again before checking with me,” she chided him, but it was a bit too late.

Jingles had skipped town even before that planted corpse was cold and he had known Dallas. Things were not looking up for him, but then again it started to look like several other people might have had reason to do in Dallas. Lavinia, his ex, had been stalking him and she’d taken a quick vacation. Then there was Kandy Cane, his girlfriend. The clues were scant, but the suspect list was growing. Dalla’s tie was missing as was a blue necklace. Not a lot to go on for a case Abby wasn’t planning on taking. An unwelcome hand suddenly shot forward and grasped her shoulder, sending a “tinge of pain down” her side. It looked like she just might be getting a bit too close to the real murderer, one who might add her to their trophy list!

Just like a good cup of coffee, any cozy mystery by Kate Collins is good from the first drop to the last...well make that murder. I haven’t visited with Abby in a while, but it’s a seamless process to step right back into her and Marco’s lives. There are those characters like her mother, Mad “Mo” Knight, and cousin Jillian who are always good for a few laughs. I do know that this series certainly isn’t getting old and in fact, it’s getting better. The plot thickened in all the right places and there were certainly enough suspects to keep me wondering. The characters still are lively and dead Dallas was definitely a victim that had more than one person who could have dumped him on those stairs. Can’t wait to see what Collins will come up with next!

Quill says: This is a fun cozy mystery with a planted corpse that more than one person might have wanted to do in!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Monthly Book Giveaway @freebook

Have you entered this month's contest yet?  It's free to enter and only takes a few seconds to fill out the form...and you could be the winner of this month's book, Tails From the Booth by Lynn Terry.  No obligation, we don't collect emails and we don't charge to ship the book to you.  Nope, nada, nothing. Enter today at:

Friday, December 4, 2015

Time is Running Out! #BookAwards

The annual Feathered Quill Book Awards is still accepting nominations but you don't have much time to get your submission in!  Nominations close Dec. 15, 2015.  Hurry!  Nominate your  book today!  Learn more at:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Review - Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye @tabitha_fink

Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye

By: Rick Felty
Publisher: Dreamschooner Press
Publication Date: July 2015
ISBN: 978-0909912822
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 2015

Tabitha Fink is one awesome, amazing, wonderful cat! Why? Because while she’s cute and adorable like other cats, Tabitha Fink also has just one eye – and she thinks that’s just perfect for her.

The star of this book begins her story by telling us that “I am Tabitha Fink/quite simply a cat” and then she proceeds to tell us what she is not. She is NOT a car, a star, a truck or several other things. Nope, she is “…Tabitha Fink, a cat with one eye.”

Tabitha Fink may only have one eye, but that certainly doesn’t slow her down. She might climb up the table to try and get the scrumptious blueberry pie that’s just sitting there or have a blast playing with a ball of yarn. Nope, having one eye is not a problem for Tabitha Fink because “ makes me special with each single blink.”

Told in the first person by Tabitha Fink, the story is written in a simple rhyme style that flows perfectly:

I am Tabitha Fink, somewhat hard to ignore
with only one eye where some others have more.
I’ve still got one tail and four paws on the floor.
I’m still Tabitha Fink as I’ve mentioned before.

The message of accepting who you are and embracing your differences, no matter what they are, comes across loud and clear without being preachy in Tabitha Fink. The illustrations are simple, bright and cheerful and when combined with the brief text, come together to make the perfect book for the preschooler (ages 2 to 5). I’ve no doubt that both parent and child will be smiling ear-to-ear after reading Tabitha Fink.

Quill says: A not-to-be missed story for the preschooler in your life – uplifting, enjoyable, and just plain fun. I loved every word!

For more information on Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye, please visit the book's website at:

Book Review - A Caterpillar, a Bee and a VERY Big Tree

A Caterpillar, a Bee and a VERY Big Tree

By: Dicksy Wilson & D.B. Sanders
Illustrated by: D.B. Sanders
Publisher: Yorkshire Publishing
Publication Date: April 2015
ISBN: 978-1-942451-06-8
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 1, 2015

Gus the green caterpillar wasn’t like the other caterpillars who lived around the big oak tree. The other caterpillars liked to hurry about drinking and eating as fast as they could while Gus wanted to slow down and wander about, exploring the world around him. He just didn't fit in.

It’s during one of his adventures away from the tree that Gus runs into Shoo Bee. Like Gus, Shoo Bee is a bit different from his friends because he’s allergic to pollen. A bee allergic to pollen? How can that be (pardon the pun)? Together these two unlikely friends will brave the elements as they depend on each other to save those around them.

After a brief chat, the new friends, Gus and Shoo Bee, go their separate ways. Gus has to go back to the oak tree to work on his cocoon, so he’ll be too busy to spend time with Shoo Bee for a while. But the growing storm clouds are going to change his plans very quickly.

Before Gus can get back to the spot where his cocoon will be, Shoo Bee comes buzzing back with a warning about the oncoming storm. In an instant, Gus knows that his caterpillar friends are in danger. Their new cocoons will never be able to withstand the high winds of the storm. Gus soon realizes that the best thing to do is tell Councilor Cricket – he’ll know what to do. But the cricket lives at the top of the oak tree and Gus will never get there in time...unless Shoo Bee can fly him up to the top of the tree. Will the two friends, working together, be able to save the day?

The sister and brother team of Dicksy Wilson and D.B. Sanders created this whimsical tale together, with Sanders adding the lively illustrations. Told in rhyme, the story is fun, creative, and teaches a great lesson of overcoming obstacles and working together to solve problems. There’s also a little bit of a science lesson in this tale as readers will see Gus build his cocoon, take a looooong nap, and then emerge as a beautiful butterfly. What a fun story!

Quill says: An enchanting story about how working together can solve problems, and help others at the same time.

Book Review - Good Dogs, Great Listeners @friedabherself

Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter

By: Renata Bowers with JoAnn and Joel Bacon
Illustrated by: Michael Chesworth
Publisher: Charlotte's Litter, Inc
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 978-0986300110
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: December 1, 2015

Charlotte is a young girl with a vivid imagination. Together with her beloved dog Lily, and “The Litter” (a group of six ‘stuffies’), they go on many adventures. Those adventures could be so much more amazing if Charlotte would pick up a book and read it through to the end. Unfortunately, whenever she reads, Charlotte keeps getting distracted and never finishes her books. How will Charlotte ever become a veterinarian if she doesn’t read?

One day Charlotte was going to read a book about an ocean voyage. Yawn...why read about the ocean when you can go in the bathroom and create your very own ocean in the sink? Lily and The Litter follow her and before long, there’s a fish, a seashell, a boat…and the floor, overflowing with water. Oops.

Charlotte’s adventures lead to lots of messes and at one point, poor Lily, her faithful dog, gets hurt while playing. Off to the vet they go. The vet tells Charlotte that Lily will be fine but she needs to be kept quiet for a while. What can Charlotte do to entertain Lily that doesn’t require running around? How aobut reading a book?! Will Charlotte be able to stay still long enough to read/finish a book and discover a love of reading along the way?

This is an absolutely delightful tale of a young girl who is full of energy, enthusiasm, and life - who along the way discovers a LOVE of reading. Inspired by six-year-old Charlotte Helen Bacon, who lost her life in the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, her parents wanted a story to celebrate Charlotte's life, her love of dogs (and all animals) and help others along the way. Good Dogs, Great Listeners does that and more as proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the 'Charlotte's Litter' organization, a group dedicated to using therapy dogs to help others heal. Lest you worry, this is NOT a sad story, but a very, very happy, uplifting tale of a girl, her dog, a bunch of 'stuffies' and silly adventures. It's a story that your child will want to read again and again.

Quill says: A book your child will love – and proceeds support initiatives related to literacy as well as the use of therapy dogs for children – a clear winner!

To learn more about Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter, please visit the book's website at: You can also learn more about Charlotte's Litter by visiting their website at:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Books In For Review

Check out these books that have just arrived for review!  Reviews will be posted to our site and blog shortly so be sure to come back to read the reviews!

Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye by Rick Felty This is the story of Tabitha Fink. Tabitha Fink is a cat. She happens to have only one eye, but that’s just what makes her special. Otherwise she’s just like every other cat. She likes to run, to play, to hide, to climb up things and gobble up her food. "Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye" is a fun little book, written for children age 2 to 5 that tells Tabitha’s story in a simple playful rhyme wrapped around delightful illustrations that kids will love. The story also contains the important message that everyone is special, no matter how different they may seem. In addition, inside every book (both print and Kindle) is information about how to get a free enhanced audio version of "Tabitha Fink: The Cat With One Eye." The world of Tabitha Fink is a simple and playful reflection of the many special things that are part of children’s lives. The Tabitha stories start with the truth that no one is perfect, that we are all special and unique and that we should celebrate the uniqueness in everyone. Then they use this friendly little one-eyed cat Tabitha Fink to tell other stories that will help children explore their emerging and sometimes challenging worlds.  

The Stuff of Stars: The Seekers, Book 2 by David Litwack Evolved Publishing presents the second book in the dystopian sci-fi series, The Seekers. ~~~ "But what are we without dreams?" ~ Against all odds, Orah and Nathaniel have found the keep and revealed the truth about the darkness, initiating what they hoped would be a new age of enlightenment. But the people were more set in their ways than anticipated, and a faction of vicars whispered in their ears, urging a return to traditional ways. ~ Desperate to keep their movement alive, Orah and Nathaniel cross the ocean to seek the living descendants of the keepmasters' kin. Those they find on the distant shore are both more and less advanced than expected. ~ The seekers become caught between the two sides, and face the challenge of bringing them together to make a better world. The prize: a chance to bring home miracles and a more promising future for their people. But if they fail this time, they risk not a stoning but losing themselves in the twilight of a never-ending dream.

Country Story by Tim Noah Singing a happy refrain, a boy with a nickel and his faithful dog set off for the Country Store. They are soon joined by two more pals and a simple trek turns into an epic adventure.Through twists, turns and hair-raising surprises, surrounded by his friends, the boy reaches his final destination only to discover it was all about the journey.

A Caterpillar, a Bee and a VERY Big Tree by Dicksy Wilson and D.B. Sanders A story about positive thinking, helping others and never giving up. Authors Dicksy Wilson and D.B. Sanders tell the inspirational story of one very small caterpillar overcoming huge obstacles to save the day and make some memorable friends along the way.  

Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter by Renata Bowers Charlotte loves dogs, especially her loving and loyal dog, Lily. And she loves adventure, especially with Lily and her Litter of six stuffed dogs in tow. But, she doesn't love to read. Charlotte has a pesky habit of abandoning a book in favor of a distraction. Paired with her dogs and her bold imagination, that distraction has a way of turning into a grand adventure. But when Lily gets hurt on one of their adventures, Charlotte relies on her imagination and her heart to find a way to love Lily back to health...and discovers a love for reading along the way - along with her beloved companions.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nominations Close Soon - Don't Wait! @bookawards

We offer twenty-one categories from mystery to science fiction and young adult.  Have a poetry book?  We have a category for it!  We also have several speciality categories including Best Debut Author and Best Seasonal.  Plus, we have numerous special awards for top placing books.  Learn more at:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review - Murdock Rocks Sedona: A Matt Murdock Murder Mystery

Murdock Rocks Sedona: A Matt Murdock Murder Mystery

By: Robert J. Ray
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-1603813372
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: November 2015

Author Robert J. Ray spins a suspenseful and one-of-its-kind sexagenarian and septuagenarian story in his seventh book of the Matt Murdock Murder Mystery series.

After their taxing adventures in Taos (Murdock Tackles Taos), Helene Steinbeck comes to Sedona Landing not just for a three-week writing workshop, but also for some R & R and an opportunity for her and Matt to mend their now fragile relationship. Helene's idealistic Arizona vacation falls flat when she meets Axel Ackermann, a billionaire and one of a handful of investors planning to buy the historic hotel. Setting his eyes on Helene, Ackermann hires her to find the person who is killing off his investors. Helene agrees to the deal only if Murdock's name is included in the contract since she insists that they work as a team.

But Helene's concept of teamwork goes out the window when Steve and Connie, local cops, join the investigation after a third investor is found dead. While there is periodic head butting between Murdock and snarky Steve and emotional and sexual tension between Murdock and Helene—especially when Murdock pairs up with Connie during investigations, Ackermann keeps getting pressure from various sources to give up his plans for Sedona Landing. Amid all of the tension, sinister plans are lurking behind the scenes—twisted, unimaginable evil plans, and with a little help from Homer's Odyssey.

Unique to Ray's mysteries is Matt Murdock's hard-boiled persona. Murdock carries all the qualities of refined sleuth who always has a "hunch" and a stick-to-itiveness when others doubt that his clues will amount to anything. And perfectly complementing his gruff traits, Ray has created his equal—Helene Steinbeck. Although centering on these featured characters, Ray incorporates a host of colorful characters, especially his villains who are not always readily identifiable. That said, Ray does a stellar job of throwing in red herrings just at the right time, which keeps his audience on their toes in their own sleuthing pursuits.

Ray's writing style is also unique. Focusing much of his plot on tight conversations, he uses a wonderful blend of directed, misdirected, and modulated dialogues that weave in and out of each chapter. In this particular book, Ray employs a Vonnegut-flair to his third person narrative—reminiscent of Slaughterhouse-Five. Not giving away any spoilers, there is indeed a war theme, which is very critical to the storyline's apex.

Combining all of the above-mentioned literary tools, Ray's plot runs smoothly from one chapter to the next. Frequently closing with cliffhangers, Ray's short chapters are grouped into five sections labeled in days. Alternating character scenes throughout, Ray deftly orchestrates all of these elements into one amazing performance to keep his audience absolutely captivated from beginning to end.
Quill says: Murdock Rocks Sedona is bound to be both a best seller and an all-time classic!

For more information on Murdock Rocks Sedona, please visit the author's website at:

Book Review - Butterfly Waltz

Butterfly Waltz

By: Jane Tesh
Publisher: Silver Leaf Books
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978-1-60975-124-1
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: November 23, 2015

A beautiful young woman, Kalida, had grown up with the destructive and conquering ways of her people down deep in a place called The Caverns, but one day she hears music and she is forever changed. Suddenly she feels as if she does not fit in her world and that she needs to be somewhere else, to start a new life. So, secretly she runs away from The Caverns and travels through to another world, our world called Earth. Instantly Kalida is transfixed on the amazing green color of the grass and the gold tint of the leaves for she has never seen colors like this, so vibrant and alive. This is where she decides to stay and makes a quiet life for herself away from prying eyes, quietly existing in the woods. However, one day there comes the sound of music like nothing Kalida has ever heard before and it calls to her, beckoning her to come out of the woods and come closer. Everything inside her pushes for Kalida to go find who is making this wonderful music and she finds that she does not want to resist.

Becoming a successful musician was becoming harder and harder for Des Fairweather as he was finding out that it was difficult to even get started. He had a few students who took lessons but that hardly paid the rent each month and he also had not composed any of his own pieces in months, as each time he sat at the piano the music would not come to him. As if things could not get any worse, Des’s friend Jake comes by to tell him that he needs his help to track down the latest story Jake is working on for The Galaxy, the newspaper he works for. The article is about a woman's garden that supposedly has talking flowers. Even though Des did not particularly enjoy these crazy trips with Jake he agrees to go as his music writing was going nowhere.

As they approach the woman’s house Jake comes up with a story that they are writers from City Gardens Magazine who have come to hear her talk about her garden. Surprisingly the lie works and they find out the woman’s name is Christine. As Jake asks her questions, Des notices that she has a beautiful piano sitting in her living room and without thinking he sits down to start playing. Amazingly a beautiful waltz melody comes easily to his mind as his hands slide over the keys effortlessly. Suddenly he looks over to the window and sees an overwhelmingly beautiful woman with long black hair standing there watching him. By the time Des stands up to get a better look, the woman has vanished. Des shakes his head thinking that he knew she was real, not just his mind playing tricks on him, and most importantly he must see her again.

This book did a wonderful job composing a story of two lives brought together by fate as two worlds cross. Author Jane Tesh creates two characters who I could not help but relate to as they both were having struggles in their own lives but together everything seemed to work out. It was so easy for me to picture in my mind the way music affected these two characters as Tesh puts such incredible detail in the emotions of her characters which made for a wonderful read.

Quill says: An incredible fantasy novel that had me swaying to the music along with the characters.