Saturday, January 31, 2015

And The Winners Are ....

Just posted!  The winners of the 2015 Feathered Quill Book Awards!  We had so many amazing books nominated this year, it was a tough job to pick just three books per category.  We'll be posting more about the winners soon - in the meantime, you can view a complete list of the winners here:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review - The Price of Blood

The Price of Blood

By: Patricia Bracewell
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publishing Date: February 2015
ISBN: 978-0-525-42727-8
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: January 29, 2015

The Price of Blood is the second volume of a trilogy featuring Emma of Normandy, who comes to England in 1002 as the 15-year-old bride of King Aethelred II of England. Hers is a loveless marriage but she makes the best of it by being a good Queen to her subjects. She also falls in love with Athelstan, her husband’s son.

The first book in the series, Shadow On The Crown, was based on the Anglo-Saxon stories and is full of violence, power and intrigue. Emma has an interesting life as Queen while her husband is not all together sure she can be trusted. Emma soon finds she must defend herself against all enemies and, in order to secure her crown, she has a son for her King.

The Price of Blood picks up in the year 1006, as Emma is making alliances with the court and is a good Queen to the English people. There is a Viking invasion on the horizon that threatens the peace. At the same time, she is fighting the loving feelings that she has for her stepson. Her husband, King Aethelred is a very mistrusting soul. He really doesn’t trust his councilors, his relatives or his Queen and crazy though it sounds he is very scared of the ghost of his dead brother. Emma watches over her husband although she fears for her children and the English people. She is bound and determined to survive so her son will claim the crown. King Aethelred’s son, Athelstan, is still in love with Emma and is very close to the crown and is content to wait until his father’s demise. When the Vikings attack, it soon becomes apparent that father and son do not get along at all. Queen Emma is trying not to play favorites and does her duty to be by her husband’s side and risks her crown and her life to bring her son to the throne.

Using the wonderful research done by the author, this book never gets dull as the Court drama and history will keep readers going for hours. With all that history and family drama, I would suggest that you start with the first book in the series, Shadow On The Crown. This second book continues the fascinating story of a Queen who is not really remembered and her role in helping her husband against the ever rising Vikings during the Middle Ages. As she struggles to survive for her son, Emma is very protective of those who she cares for most. The reader, too, will come to care about Emma and her struggles.

Quill says: A story that will bring across a strong woman who, as was typical of her time, wasn’t consulted on anything. But while the men fight and scheme, Emma’s wisdom helped keep the kingdom together. This story kept me glued to the pages until the very end.

Why Men Opt Out of the (Women’s) Fiction World

Fewer and fewer men read fiction.  They compose only about 20% of the fiction market according to surveys. Some lay this off to genetics, suggesting that the way men’s minds work discourages them from entering into another’s experience the way fiction demands.

“Boys and men are, in general, more convergent and linear in their thinking; this would naturally draw them towards non-fiction,” wrote author Darragh McManus, pondering the question.

Others, like Jason Pinter, suggest that the overwhelmingly female publishing industry simply overlooks books that appeal to men because they fall outside the female experience.  In other words, men now suffer the same fate women suffered at the hands of a male-dominated publishing industry for so many years—and payback’s a bitch.

Others suggest that boys are discouraged from reading at a young age by children’s books that fail to engage them.  Give them the proper material, the story goes, and young boys will engage with reading.  They point to the fact that young males were principal consumers of the Harry Potter books as proof.  “More boys than girls have read the Harry Potter novels,” according to U.S. publisher, Scholastic. “What’s more, Harry Potter made more of an impact on boys' reading habits. Sixty-one percent agreed with the statement ‘I didn't read books for fun before reading Harry Potter,’ compared with 41 percent of girls.”

I always balked at these rationales because I read fiction all the time.  However, thinking on it, I had to admit that I avoid modern fiction like the plague.  I have tried the popular plot-thick page-turners and the feel-good tearjerkers and the occasional cause celebre with a literary reputation.  So many have left me so cold, that I simply won’t shell out the cash for a paperback or e-book version, much less a hardcover. 

Trying to assess what I found lacking in most of the current novels I attempt, I find their utter reliance on the world around them (and me) supremely dull.  So many work so hard to place characters in a world I will recognize.  Too many work hard to create characters with which I (or their prime demographic audience) will ‘identify,’ and recognize as someone they could be, or someone they know. 

It then made sense that men would ask why they should read something “made up” about this world when there was plenty of factual reading material on that subject.  I have never approached fiction to re-visit “this world.”  I’m already here.  Instead, I want an alternative—a vision of this world exhaled through the writers’ and characters’ hearts, minds and eyes.  Exhaled with the distinction of the smell of an individual’s breath.  Fitzgerald’s Long Island in The Great Gatsby is his own creation, no kitchen sink recreation.  Fitzgerald’s people and prose warp this place into something utterly unique. 

Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles is his distinctive projection of that city. You don’t pick up Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me with the idea of identifying with the protagonist.  You don’t grab Faulkner to meet the boys next door or titter with recognition of your kith and kin.  You don’t visit Patricia Highsmith to look in a mirror.  You pick them up to enter worlds as fantastical in their way as Harry Potter’s.  I read fiction to meet characters I otherwise would not.  I read fiction for the larger than life—not a retread of this one.  I want to watch and think with characters who are nothing like me, who dare what I never would, who experience in ways that I cannot. 

In an article titled, “Why Women Read More Than Men,” NPR quoted Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain suggesting a biological reason why women read more fiction than men:

The research is still in its early stages, but some studies have found that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men. That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.

What horseshit. Reading, and reading fiction, require no such thing.  They require that you understand and grow intrigued by characters and situations.  You need not imagine yourself as them or believe that they behave as you would.

Perhaps more men stopped reading fiction when fiction stopped presenting unique worlds, and settled for presenting this one so that readers could better “identify.”  Maybe we’re too megalomaniacal to “identify” with that.  We want words recreated, not rehashed. 

“Shall I project a world,” asks Oedipa Maas in Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.”  Somewhere along the line, in tandem with the female domination of the publishing industry and fiction readership, the ideal of doing so fell from vogue.  Instead, writers rely on identification with this one.  Male readers seem have checked out.


Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels.  His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, ( is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.
In the company of Educated Men

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review - The Reluctant Psychic

The Reluctant Psychic: A Memoir

By: H. Alan Suzan Saxman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-04771-7
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 26, 2015

Susan Saxman shares her gifted psychic experiences between the covers of her memoir, The Reluctant Psychic.

The 60’s were a time of make love, not war and little did Suzan Saxon know that her psychic gift would take her on a life’s journey that erred more toward the side of turmoil than peace and love. From an early age, Suzan knew she wasn’t the teddy bear tea party princess. Most kids had a fear of monsters in the closet at some point during their tender years until they eventually vanished into the never after. For Suzan, however, the monsters never left. At the risk of sounding proverbial, she saw dead people...everywhere. This isn’t to say they were foreboding by any means. Rather, they came to her because they had a message to deliver to their departed living and Suzan was their conduit to do so. For many years, Suzan would awake in the middle of the night and as real as the sun in the sky is, the dark man with the black-rimmed hat and eyeless sockets of flames would be there. It wouldn’t be until many years later she would understand his full meaning and purpose in her life.

Suzan’s relationship with her mother was, for the most part, non-existent. There was a strong undertone throughout their lives together that Suzan was a mistake that should have never happened. Her insignificance was a daily reminder to her mother of the random act of infidelity she should never have performed. Suzan’s real father was a drifter and he loved the ladies. He loved Suzan’s mother, but there was a vast space between such love and actual commitment. Suzan’s everyday father was a good provider, but an uneventful being. Adding to the complexity of her family dynamics would be the years of struggle and skepticism she would navigate before she would be able to come to terms with her tremendous gift.

Suzan Saxman has done an exceptional job of penning an extremely interesting view of what it means to have genuine psychic abilities. Her writing of the subject and her first-hand experiences further affirm there is no ‘hocus pocus’ or ‘folly’ to what she has endured during her life. There is a sense of urgency throughout this book and the reader is able to grasp that her intentions in writing of her life wasn’t to gain a following. Rather there is a sublime calling to all her fellow ‘seers’ that it’s okay to talk about your experiences and embrace the reality that there truly are many spirits surrounding all of us. It is abundantly clear that Ms. Saxman took great care in the mechanics of telling her story. Each chapter outlines a particular point in her life and she closes each premise with a vignette of a reading she conducted. There is a balance of those who believe and those who think “poppy cock,” but it is up to the reader to decide which side he or she migrates toward. I applaud Ms. Saxman for the courage and tenacity to tell her story because there is a strong voice throughout that's non-apologetic. Rather, she is a woman of substance who tells it like she lived (and lives) it and affirms throughout the notion that there are NO coincidences in this life we live. Rather, there is an entire sub universe of what’s happening and it is there for the believer to dive in and explore. Thank you for a truly engaging memoir Ms. Saxman. I hope I have the good fortune to find my way to Woodstock some day and the pleasure of a chat.

Quill says: The Reluctant Psychic is a testament of courage, strength and conviction from a woman who knows she is ‘different’ and embraces and accepts who she is.

Book Review - Sadie's Big Steal

Sadie’s Big Steal

By: Marla McKenna
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-63268-744-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 26, 2015

What began with Mom’s Big Catch continues in this sweetheart of a book that is both all about a dog, and a source to help dogs in a very positive way.
For those who missed the first tale, kids were introduced to a loving family that includes Mom, Dad, Ashley, Julia, and their dog, Sadie. This was a family all excited about heading to the ballpark one day. Dad had never caught one of those home run balls in the stands, and Ashley wanted to catch one, too – way before she had to reach her father’s “old” age to do it. Readers could almost smell that popcorn, hear that national anthem sung, and listen to the cheers, as the fans made sure to shout-out for their team.

Well, in this new tale, the family is back, yet Sadie is the one who has her heart set on the baseball that sits on top of the mantle. Sadie loves baseball as much as the rest of the family, and she has told her dog friends in the neighborhood that she is devising a plan to steal the ball when the family is asleep so she and the rest of her canine friends can play with it. She also wants to include a new dog in their group, Rosie, that has been seen wandering in the area. Unfortunately, other dogs think Rosie is ‘different,’ and she has no family or friends who care about her. So they think if Sadie were to get caught stealing the baseball, she could blame it on Rosie.

When Sadie overhears a story told by her beloved Julia that night, about a new girl in school who everyone is teasing, yet she really likes her, Sadie begins to change her mind about a great many things.

A lovely story with a sweet message, this second book gives everything there is to give to kids: a wonderful family that supports each other, the always awesome sport of baseball, and a really cool dog that proves things like prejudice, bullying and lying are really bad choices for anyone to make.
It is important to note that partial proceeds from these books go to the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation that is on a mission to rescue the canines of the world and give them a second chance at finding a happy, loving home.

Quill says: Wonderful books for parents to share with their kids. Hopefully, this author will continue to gift readers with more adventures in the future.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review - Saint Odd

Saint Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel

By: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-34554587-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 24, 2015

There are moments in time when every fan of some writer out there falls into a depression when they know that their absolute favorite character will never be heard from again. There was a line in this novel that spoke of how this one young man had made so many friends in his short life – a line that could not better fit the character of Odd Thomas. This is it. After a long run, one of the greatest authors out there has offered an action-packed, thrilling, deeply-emotional and frightening journey to provide Odd Thomas with a first-class send-off.

Pico Mundo, the original spot where it all began, is where readers are brought back to. Odd must get there; he is being followed by members of the desert cult that truly want to take him out. In the last novel, Odd saved children from these vicious individuals, and now all they want to do is get even.
When Odd arrives back home, he heads to the Green Moon Mall, and readers almost feel as if they are walking through that devastating scene right beside him. Odd looks back on the day when Stormy, his beloved, was taken away from him in a burst of gunfire. He knows he has become the prey and the predators are closing in swiftly, giving him less than twenty-four hours to save the town. So with the help of old friends, and characters that readers have fallen in love with, Odd heads to a safe house where a sweet married couple who have the ability to shoot are waiting to help him. As the action grows, wolves appear, dynamite is stolen, and police officers cringe as they wait to see what comes next.

Pico Mundo is the host of a carnival this time out, bringing back the same old Gypsy that’d once promised two kids they would be together forever. Psychic midgets dressed like bears, face painting by females who are immersed in dreams, and an ogre that instills fear at the Fun House: all of these things and more are in Odd’s path to help him or harm him, as he faces the impossible challenge of stopping death…and discovering his own life.

The ultimate battle, Dead Koontz has saved the best for last. He is the owner of the brilliant mind that continues to grace the literary world with an illumination that can’t be found anywhere else. And although I am grateful Koontz will gift me with the next unbelievable tale very soon, I feel the heartache saying goodbye to one of the best characters written. Odd Thomas will be sorely missed.

Quill says: A fantastic tale from start to finish. Readers will want to go back to the beginning and follow Odd once again.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Editor Needed - Ouch!

Like all good authors, I'm always on the search for places to promote my books.  I have horse books so, of course, horse related sites work well.  I came across one today that offered different advertising packages, including this one:

Full Year

Online for a hole year!
Full year ads are useful when listing your stallion at stud or advertising your service. Full Year ads are equipped with Premium Photo Ads with a duration of 365 days!
Hmmmm..... anybody know what a 'hole year' is???

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Books In For Review

Here's a look at some of the books that have just arrived for review!

Matthias: The Ghost of Salvation Point by Jodi Auborn Ten-year-old Dylan is excited when his father inherits an old lighthouse and cottage in Maine. Dylan and his family get to live there all summer! He goes sailing on the bay, explores the small town down the road, and searches for a legendary pirate treasure that was said to be buried nearby. After mysterious things start happening at the cottage, Dylan meets Matthias, a gruff lighthouse keeper who had died in a storm one hundred years before. A ghost! Dylan is startled to find Matthias living in his bedroom, but he is glad when they become friends. It’s the best summer ever! Things change when they learn that the lighthouse is threatened by a greedy treasure hunter who also knows about the pirate legend. He will do whatever it takes to find the treasure…even kidnapping! As Dylan and Matthias team up to protect their home, they begin an adventure that changes Dylan’s life forever.  

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late. In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.  

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder. As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.

Love by The Book by Melissa Pimentel Love by the Book charts a year in the life of Lauren Cunningham, a beautiful, intelligent, and unlucky-in-love twenty-eight-year-old American. Feeling old before her time, Lauren moves to London in search of the fab single life replete with sexy Englishmen. But why can’t she convince the men she’s seeing that she really isn’t after anything more serious than seriously good sex? Determined to break the curse, Lauren turns her love life into an experiment: each month she will follow a different dating guide until she discovers the science behind being a siren. Lauren will follow The Rules, she’ll play The Game, and along the way she’ll journal her (mis)adventures and maybe even find someone worth holding on to. Witty, gritty, and very true to life, Love by the Book will have you in stitches.

The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur As a college freshman, Erik Fiskare is drawn to the world of theater but prefers backstage to center stage. The moment he lays eyes on a beautiful, accomplished dancer named Daisy Bianco, his atoms rearrange themselves and he is drawn into a romance both youthfully passionate and maturely soulful. Their love story thrives within a tight-knit circle of friends, all bound by creativity and artistry. A newcomer arrives--a brilliant but erratic dancer with an unquenchable thirst for connection. And when this disturbed friend brings a gun into the theater, the story is forever changed. Daisy is shot and left seriously injured. And Erik finds himself alone in the aisle, looking down the muzzle of a pistol and trying to stop the madness. He succeeds, but with tremendous repercussions to his well-being and that of his loved ones. Traumatized by the experience, Erik and Daisy spiral into depression and drug use until a shocking act of betrayal destroys their relationship. To survive, Erik must leave school and disconnect from all he loves. He buries his heartbreak and puts the past behind. Or so he believes. As he moves into adulthood, Erik comes to grips with his role in the shooting, and slowly heals the most wounded parts of his soul. But the unresolved grief for Daisy continues to shape his dreams at night. Once those dreams were haunted by blood and gunfire. Now they are haunted by the refrain of a Gershwin song and a single question: is leaving always the end of loving? Spanning fifteen years, The Man I Love explores themes of love and sexuality, trauma--physical and mental--and its long-lasting effects, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik's experience we reflect on what it means to be a man, a son and a leader. A soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel. What it means to fight for what you love.

The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco’s forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, and the garden, laden with orange blossom, grows wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Emma is London’s leading perfumier, but her blessed life has taken a difficult turn. Her free-spirited mother, Liberty, who taught her the art of fragrance making, has just passed away. At the same time, she broke up with her long-time lover and business partner, Joe, whose baby she happens to be carrying. While Joe is in New York trying to sell his majority share in their company, Emma, guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed to her in Liberty’s will, decides to leave her job and travel to Valencia, where she will give birth in the house her mother mysteriously purchased just before her death. The villa is a perfect retreat: redolent with the exotic scents of orange blossom and neroli, dappled with light and with the rich colors of a forgotten time. Emma makes it her mission to restore the place to its former glory. But for her aging grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed in Valencia during Spain’s devastating civil war, Emma’s new home evokes memories of a terrible secret, a part of her family’s past that until now has managed to stay hidden.

Wall, Watchtower, and Pencil Stub: Writing During World War II by John Carpenter Even as World War II raged on, contemporary writers were riveted by its every twist and turn. One of the war’s most fascinating features was that it was subject to constant change, surprises, and fate reversal. It ensured that wartime writers, who did not yet know of its outcome, adopted points of view that were entirely spontaneous, rather than based on historical hindsight. This remarkable book presents the war in its entirety, with all its force, suspense, and drama. With exceptional clarity it shows how the extreme events of war challenged writers, inspired their art, and in turn produced a modern legacy of literature.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Score Sheets are Coming In!

It's an exciting time here at Feathered Quill.  Our judges have been busy reading/scoring the books nominated for our annual awards program.  With 22 categories, there are a LOT of books to read.  Score sheets have started arriving here at our main office and we've been going through them, organizing, comparing and placing books.  There were some HUGE categories this year with just a few points separating the top books.  We can't wait to share the results with our readers, authors, publicists, publishers and YOU!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review - High Stakes

High Stakes: A Jack Doyle Mystery

By: John McEvoy
Illustrated By: Charles Shockley
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: December 2014
ISBN: 9781464202742
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 19, 2015

There is no doubt that the world of Thoroughbred race horses can be exciting and glamorous but where there is money, corruption seems to follow. That is a fact that Jack Doyle has come to terms with as lately he has done well exposing some dark secrets in the world of horse racing and now the FBI has asked him for help on a new case involving horse killings. Apparently the killer finds Thoroughbred horses that have been donated to colleges and universities and injects them with a lethal substance causing them to die almost instantly. Then after the terrible deed is done the killer leaves a note with the letters ALWD standing for Animal Life With Dignity and a message reading, “No More Exploitation For This One Of God's Creatures.”

Of course this seems to be the act of a crazy animal rights activist to Jack but with no real leads to go on he knows the only way to gain any information is to hang around the track and see if any talk around there could lead to some clues. Using all of the contacts he has made working around the track Jack talks to trainers, jockeys, owners, and a veterinarian named Ingrid but no one seems to know anything that could be of help. The FBI agents become even more desperate when these killings continue and constantly harp on Jack to provide some answers but of course there is only so much that can be done with so little information.

In the meantime Jack receives a call from a friend from Ireland asking if he would come to an awards banquet for a former jockey he was an agent for. While enjoying the trip to Ireland Jack gets a message from a friend’s wife saying she is concerned there may be someone out to harm her husband but he just keeps blowing it off. So, suddenly on top of attempting to solve the horse killings in the U.S., Jack is trying to help a friend who is across an ocean to stay safe from whoever might be trying to hurt him. In addition, there is a plot brewing unknown to Jack that centers on an attempt of his own life.

With my interest in horses this was an easy book choice for me as I loved reading a mystery in the midst of the horse racing world. Even though I have not read any of John McEvoy's other books I instantly connected with the character of Jack Doyle and enjoyed every chapter of this story. Especially towards the ends I could not bring myself to put this book down until I reached the conclusion and I love when books keep me holding on like that. The plot created in this book was quite intricate but McEvoy ties everything together so well that I was able to keep up with the story and not once did I get lost in what was happening.

Quill says: An absolutely intriguing mystery with a perfect setting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Feathered Quill Reviewer Receives Amazing News

Long time Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor recently received some amazing news.  Amy, who splits her time between reading/reviewing and writing some fantastic books including the Tallent & Lowery mystery/adventure series, learned that Amazon would be re-releasing her books via AmazonEncore.  Go Amy!!!!!!!!  We are SOOOOOO happy for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The “Tallent & Lowery Adventures” (Titles: “13”, “The Sapphire Storm”, “The Hero’s Companion”, and “The Charlatan’s Crown”) have been picked up by AmazonEncore and will be re-released on January 13, 2015. Amazon chose this series (published by Suspense Publishing) for their Encore imprint which, “helps readers discover extraordinary, previously-published, or overlooked books from emerging authors,” in order to expand and deliver this series to readers everywhere!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review - Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles

By: Anne Rice
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: October 2014
ISBN: 978-0307962522
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 2015

It's been a long time, over ten years in fact, since one of, if not THE most popular vampires of all time last appeared in print. Now, Lestat is back in all his glorious glory and the book is soaring up the charts as fans of Anne Rice grab their copies of Prince Lestat.

The book opens with a brief "Blood Genesis" that gives the reader an overview of the history of vampires, and then a "Blood Argot" that is basically a list of terms you need to know if you are to understand the story. At the back of the book are two appendices, with a 'cast of characters' and a guide to the other Vampire Chronicles books. I mention this first because, while fans of Ms. Rice will know all of this already, if you haven't read any of the previous books in the Vampire Chronicles series, you will need to read these sections first if you hope to follow the story! Alas, even with those, you may find yourself lost.

Now on to the story - sort of. Part 1 (of four parts) of Prince Lestat runs over 70 pages and is, again, basically an overview - an overview of the history of Lestat and others who have played major roles in the other books. There's a bit of action with a 'vampire doctor' who helps Lestat, um, procreate with a human but otherwise, it takes over 100 pages for the real story to start.

The basic premise of Prince Lestat is that there is a 'Voice' that has a nasty way of getting into the minds of vampires and speaking to them. The Voice is manipulating 'ancients' (the old vampires) to kill the young ones. Vampires are dying all over the world, courtesy of the Voice. If the vampire world is to survive, the Voice must be stopped.

Interrupting the plot of who/what the Voice is and will it/he/she be stopped, are a myriad of characters and their backstories. Some of these are interesting, some are slow and dry, and they all pretty much bring the plot to a halt. At times it's easy to forget all about the Voice as yet another character is introduced. The writing, and pacing, is all over the place, with some of it fast and tight, and other sections rambling and confusing. I suspect that rabid fans of Anne Rice will devour Prince Lestat, but for those who have either not read the books, or read a few in passing and enjoyed but were not consumed by them, you might want to give this one a pass.

Quill says: Not an easy read for those who have not read the previous 'Vampire Chronicles' books, but for those who can't get enough of Prince Lestat and Anne Rice, the book may prove an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review - The Great Beanie Baby Bubble

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute

By: Zac Bissonnette
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1591846024
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 7, 2015

Like many, I do have remnants of a craze gone by around my house. Beanie Babies were purchased and much loved in this house, but not collected. A collection, so far as a child might consider it one, was amassed during each shopping trip when money was doled out to buy a favorite. I loved reading little vignettes about Ty Warner's theory that no one would buy if those babes were in a bin. The fact that they were only $2.50 retail, raised one eyebrow, then two considering how that child's little wallet was gouged by an unnamed retailer.

A little lobster beanie sits near my desk as a memento, but he wears no tag and certainly isn't in a plastic box. Princess Diana sits behind the glass in my secretary, cozily peering out. I never really had to have any Beanies, but I certainly had to have this book to learn about the seedier side of plush. The compilation of collectors, their stealth methods to snag the so-called rarities, and those who spent their children's college funds waiting for a return on their investments.

I see the old collectors' value book for sale a stone's throw away from Bissonnette's on Amazon. You may not remember or even know about "The End" bear, but you 'll read about it in the these pages along with the story of many other 'special' Beanies. "The thrill of the hunt" got them all at the end of the craze, but there were many who rode the wave right to the bank. You'll read about them in this book and of course you'll find out all about Ty Warner, the guy who would have been voted least likely to succeed by anyone who knew him when he was young. No doubt he was a master salesman and he could spin a bit of a line as well.

Mesmerized by this tale and it almost read in part like a fairy tale, it kept me at attention. A tale of greed, irrational behavior, foolhardiness, and more. The secrets you'll find out are better than the big "find" you may have made when you snagged a Beanie you wanted. I do see those collections being sold for a song now on eBay and elsewhere. Did you know that in the early days of eBay Beanies comprised 10% of their sales? Meg Whitman called those collectors "obsessive types." They were. Whether you like Beanies, loved `em, collected them, or spent your last dime on them, you'll really need to look inside the pages of this book. Personally, I just couldn't resist.

Quill says: Want to know why you loved `em, like `em, were obsessed with them (or lost your shirt)? Read this book ...

Book Review - Bubbe's Belated Bat Mitzvah

Bubbe's Belated Bat Mitzvah

By: Isabel Pinson
Illustrated by: Valeria Cis
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 978-1467719506
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 7, 2015

Bubbe sat on the couch as her granddaughter Naomi watched her crochet yet another kippot. Undoubtedly her great-grandmother had made a “gazillion” of those things. Naomi held a hook and a strand of blue yarn in her hands because she too was going to learn to crochet. Bubbe had made her first kippot for her brother Charlie to wear at his Bar Mitzvah, but there were many more to come. “Did you make a kippot for your own Bat Mitzvah?” Naomi asked her Bubbe. Oh, no because girls didn’t learn to read Hebrew way back when.

Naomi nestled in her bed that night and dreamed that Bubbe was “standing on the bimah reading from the Torah.” Her lips moved as her pointer moved across the words, but it was only a dream. No, girls didn’t learn to read Hebrew back then. Grandma Rachel didn’t read from the Torah, but did give a speech in the synagogue. No, girls didn’t learn to read Hebrew back then either, but Naomi had a big idea. Bubbe could read Yiddish so maybe, just maybe there was a chance she could have a Bat Mitzvah. Would Naomi be able to turn that dream into a reality?

This is a charming tale of Naomi, a young girl who really knew how to dream. The tale, based in part on the real story of the author’s grandmother, Esther, is quite inspirational. The flow of the tale will generate excitement in young readers, making them hope that Bubbe will be able to actually stand at the bimah and read from the Torah. I definitely like the group effort that Bubbe’s great-grandchildren make to enable Bubbe to do just that. It’s especially nice that Naomi’s part is none other than that of crocheting kippot. A lovely tale that multiple generations will enjoy and learn from.

Quill says: This is a charming tale of Naomi, a young girl who knew how to make dreams come true, that readers will love!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review - With Baited Breath

With Baited Breath: The Lotus Bay Mysteries

By: Lorraine Bartlett
Publisher: Polaris Press
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 978-1940801070
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 6, 2015

What better than the mystery of a “panty poacher”to start a new year and a new series? Tori Cannon and Kathy Grant were college roomies who, like everyone else, have vowed to stay best friends forever, but life oftentimes gets in the way. They haven’t stayed in touch and yes, life did get in the way. Tori became an English teacher, hitched up with Billy Fortner, got rid of Billy and would soon be somewhat unemployed. Let’s say dumped by the school system. Kathy was in the hotel hospitality line at the not so hospitable Batavia, New York Hampton Inn.

Now someone was rifling Tori’s panties right out of the dryer in her laundry room complex. Such incredulous behavior was amazing and rather scary in a way. The phone rang and Kathy answered. “Come for a day or two. We can talk, shop, talk, eat, talk, and maybe discuss the future.” Oh, and find out who was swiping those panties. And so they reconnected and yeah, discovered the unexpectedly weird thief! They also discovered that the fates that had split them apart for so long would bring them back together again, hopefully to solve many in this new series, “The Lotus Bay Mysteries.”

With the mini-mystery behind her, as well as the job, Tori was off to Lotus Bay. Grandma had just been laid to rest and she figured that home is where the heart is and that would be with Gramps. Herb Connor was the king of the Cannon Compound: Cannon’s Bait & Tackle shop and the Lotus Lodge. Of course when Kathy later arrived, it didn’t take long for the both of them to notice “the place was a dump” and the rooms were “crammed from floor to ceiling.” One other little thing was crammed in that mess and it was none other than Michael Jackson who was deader than a mackerel on ice.

Why on earth would Gramps “kill a paying customer?” Not very likely, but someone had strangled the life out of Michael and stuffed his mouth full of spikes. “Old Lady Bloomfield” was sticking her nose where it didn’t below (as usual) trying to pump Gramps. Detective Osborn was officially on the case, but just maybe there was someone else who could do the job better. There were those strange lights that Michael had seen, but everyone knew he was nuts. Stranger things began to happen in the antiquated dump of a building Kathy had her eye on. Was everyone a lunatic in Lotus Bay?

This is a fabulous start in Lorraine Bartlett’s new series. I do love how she came up with the novel idea of starting a mystery as an introduction to her new series. The introduction to the two main characters was made and I learned their basic histories and why they ended up in Lotus Bay. It was all so cozy and crafty in the sense that the author seemed to know exactly how to draw me hook, line and sinker into the tale. There was quite a bit of humor, especially with Gramps on the scene. Herb is quite the character and I knew I’d love this tale when he shouted out, “Holy smoke. It’s Michael Jackson.” The scene has been set and I’m certainly looking forward to reading all about Lotus Bay and some of their not-so-quaint and very quirky residents.

Quill says: Lorraine Bartlett has just taken the word 'cozy' to a new level when she landed her readership on the shores of Lotus Bay!

Book Review - Sprouting Wings

Sprouting Wings: Book One in the Alan Ericsson Series

By: Henry Faulkner
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Publishing Date: December 2014
ISBN: 978-1-935204-60-2
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: January 2015

This novel is listed as the first novel in the Alan Ericsson Series by Henry Faulkner. It is, by far, a fascinating countdown of the 1940’s leading up to the beginning of World War II. Lieutenant Junior Grade Alan Ericsson is an officer in the Navy on assignment at the US Navy Newport Torpedo Station. Lt. Ericsson is thinking about his next assignment and hopeful it will be better than what he is currently doing. While the Germans have goose-stepped over Poland, France and Norway, Ericsson has had to serve at a desk job after disagreeing with some of the Navy brass after he was one of the survivors of a new submarine that went to the bottom (during peace time) and some men were killed.

Alan decides that he will ask to be transferred to Naval Aviation, preferably on an aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, he has proposed to his girl Jennifer, she has accepted and then he has to go off to his training which is quite far away from his fiancée. She has also started a new position in Naval Intelligence in Washington, DC.

In the spring of 1941, after Alan finishes flight training, he and Jennifer get married and are blissfully happy. Alan is assigned to a carrier squadron in Norfolk so they are able to spend many weekends together. However, good times don't last as Jennifer is transferred to Pearl Harbor and Alan goes into the North Atlantic on a carrier. His work as a carrier pilot is going well when the ship comes to dock in Norfolk in December, 1941.

When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the United States realizes that war has arrived on its shores even though it has been hovering over America for quite a while. There’s a scramble to get Alan's ship ready for the Pacific and Alan is waiting for word that Jennifer is OK as she works at Pearl Harbor.

This story is fictional but is full of historical facts relating to the prospect of the United States going to war. In the back of the book are illustrations and photographs of planes and ships along with a glossary of abbreviations, codes and Names of Aircraft Carriers and Destinations.

Quill says: This book is a find for readers who are WWII buffs. Looking forward to more books in this series!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review - A Man in Control

A Man in Control

By: Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publishing Date: October 2014
ISBN: 978-1503-10091-6
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: January 3, 2015

From the very beginning of this tale, readers will certainly understand this author’s choice of title, as Gilleland has hit the nail on the proverbial head with his over-controlling main character, Dave Wynthers.

Dave and Brenda Wynthers are the kind of couple that many others would like to count as friends. Dave is a microbiology professor, giving the two a good life. One of those ‘good things’ comes in the form of a twelfth anniversary celebration, where the two head up to a swank ski lodge where they had gone on their honeymoon.

One of Dave’s ulterior motives for this trip is to coax his wife into considering having a child, while Brenda just wants to enjoy herself and not listen to Dave’s continuous harping. When it gets to be a bit much, she walks out of the lodge on her way to the ski trails, leaving him behind to pout. Sadly, when he finally goes out to look for her, Dave finds that she has had an accident on a very dangerous slope and was killed. David goes back to their home in Fort Collins, Colorado while his twin brother Dan and their mother take over the arrangements for Brenda. In David’s grief, he could hardly remember the services.

Many events follow that David has a difficult time dealing with as he begins to try and handle his job and all of the daily events that are happening around him. A trend begins to form which will let readers understand why the title is perfect. This man is a very controlling person who definitely does want to be in control at all times, no matter how chaotic life becomes.

As things start to happen to Dave and the people around him, including the murder of a person close to him, terrorists who are tracking his every move, a lot of suddenly inherited wealth, the FBI and a female police officer arriving on the scene and more, Dave finds it a little daunting to keep control. Dave is a person who needs to control all aspects of his own life and the lives of the people who orbit around him, and as the story progresses, the reader will see just what that control costs him. A Man in Control is quite fast paced, although at times it seemed as if the author was trying to put too much into the story, sometimes going from one thing to another swiftly so the reader will have to pay close attention to keep up. However, the character development is very good and the plot lines are excellent, making this a very satisfying read.

Quill says: The fact that Dave Wynthers is extremely controlling comes out loud and clear as he works to keep his job, relationships and anything else under his thumb much to the dismay of some of his friends and colleagues. Watching Dave deal with this makes A Man in Control a very good read.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review - The Accidental Empress

The Accidental Empress

By: Allison Pataki
Publisher: Howard Books
Publishing Date: February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9022-0
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: January 1, 2015

This is a true story set during the years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire featuring Elisabeth “Sisi” and Emperor Franz Joseph of the Hapsburg Court. A powerful court with an empire that stretched from Austria to Russia and Germany to Italy.

Sisi is fifteen years old when she travels to the Habsburg Court with her mother and older sister, Helene, who is about to be betrothed to Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi is much more outgoing than Helene and captures the young Emperor’s eye right away. Sisi soon falls in love with the Emperor and Helene doesn’t seem to be too upset because she didn’t want to marry him anyway. Franz is extremely interested in his charming sister-in-law to be and backs out of his proposal to Helene, declaring his intentions to marry Sisi.

This decision alarms Franz’s mother Archduchess Sophie, who is also aunt to Helene and Sisi. The Archduchess tries to stop it but to no avail - the wedding of Franz Joseph and Sisi will go on. After the engagement and royal wedding, Sisi must adjust to the way the royals celebrate being married; the worst is that she has no privacy whatsoever, all details are observed and remarked on by court spies, sent to Sisi’s rooms by her mother-in-law/aunt who has told Sisi in no uncertain terms that she is the head of the family and that’s that.

As life continues at the royal court, Sisi and Franz become the parents of two daughters and finally after a time a son is born. Franz is not around all that much and there are small nations within the Habsburg realm that want to be more independent. Sisi turns out to be very popular among the masses and helps her husband heal many problems in the affairs of state.

The Accidental Empress is a very readable book showing the trials and tribulations of the royal families during the Austro-Hungarian times. The reader also learns what the Empress was able to accomplish, for her Emperor, and how she brought about the love of the people for their rulers.

Quill says: Anyone who likes historical novels will love this book. The characterizations are very real and the plot lines, made all the more interesting because they are true, have a way of telling this love story in a very gripping mannor.