Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review - Petticoat Surgeon

Petticoat Surgeon: The Extraordinary Life of Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen

By: Maureen Thalmann
Publisher: In The Fullness of Time
Publication Date: February 2015
ISBN: 9780692302385
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: May 2015

Throughout history there have been many people who dedicated their lives to something great and because of that we are able to see how the past has shaped the present. In the area of medicine there was a specific woman named Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen who gave her life to this field in the early 1900’s. This was a time when women faced intense discrimination and numerous obstacles when trying to enter the medical field. From growing up on her family’s farm to becoming one of the most well known surgeons of her time, Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen conquered every challenge in her path to follow a lifelong dream.

At an early age Bertha showed a particular interest in medicine and health especially concerning the animals on the farm which were her only “patients” at the time. Fortunately Bertha grew up in a home where every child was expected to gain an education that included going to college. When Bertha and her sister Alice were ready to work toward a higher education the main career for women was teaching, but both of these women had their eyes on quite different careers. Bertha of course had her eye on medical school and was determined to do whatever it took to make this possible. The first step was to save the money to actually attend school so for a time Bertha did numerous jobs until she had enough saved up for the first semester and her journey began.

The intense happiness of being accepted was short lived as Bertha found that the discrimination against women was even worse inside the medical school and it was difficult for her to find anyone who would allow her to gain experience. However, Bertha was fortunate enough to find a handful of women doctors that had come before her who knew the hardships she was facing and helped her see that it was possible to push through these challenges and succeed. It was not long into medical school before Bertha found that she was developing a particular interest in being a surgeon and so began the next step in her journey and this decision would lead to places that she never would have thought possible.

There were so many aspects of this book that I immensely enjoyed as the author, Maureen Thalmann, put it together in a way that truly showed what an accomplishment it was for Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen to do everything that she did. It was unbelievable to read about what she had to go through to get into medical school, the challenges during medical school, and then the time it took to establish a practice after graduating. In addition, I was intrigued reading about how medicine has developed and changed since Bertha's time. I think today we take for granted many of the medical advances that we have available and to see what it was like for those living in the early 1900's was a real eye-opener.

Quill says: An absolutely incredible story of an inspiring individual.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

6 Ways Reading Brings Joy To Our Lives

A Good Book Can Transport Us To Other Worlds, Or Reveal More About This One, Author Says
The options for latching onto a great book – whether a classic by Victor Hugo or the latest bestseller by John Grisham – appear limitless these days.
Printed books remain popular, but e-readers provide additional choices. We can still visit bookstores and libraries, but a seemingly infinite selection of titles is available for ordering online.
And, despite periodic worries about the reading habits of the young, a Pew Research Center study released last year showed that young adults, ages 18-29, were the group most likely to have read a book in the previous 12 months.
It’s not surprising people are still eager to lose themselves in a richly plotted novel, a well-researched biography or any title on a favorite topic, says Darlene Quinn, an author whose latest novel, “Conflicting Webs” ( is the fifth in her standalone Webs Series, which features stories steeped in family issues in today's rapidly paced world.
“Reading is beneficial for everyone, whether we do it for entertainment, to pass the time or to learn,” Quinn says. “We can grow and change from the first page to the last page, and anywhere in between. A love for reading can open a lot of doors.”
Quinn, a lifelong lover of books, suggests six ways reading brings joy to our lives:
•  Relaxation factor. After a busy day, down time with a book can be a rewarding way to segue into bedtime. “Putting up your feet with a cup of tea and a timeless story can make the stress melt away,” Quinn says. “What better way to unwind?” The beauty of ending the day with a good book is that you can still have mental stimulation even as you seek a distraction from personal issues, work concerns and the unexpected complications of life.
•  Universal appeal, personal experience. People can read the same book, yet come away with an experience that is distinct for them, Quinn says. That puts her in agreement with Edmund Wilson, the American literary and social critic, who observed that “no two persons ever read the same book.”  Quinn says we often alter what is written – or at least our interpretations of it – to reflect our situations, personalities and opinions.
•  Tech savvy welcome, but not required. E-readers are popular these days and it’s not hard to understand why, Quinn says. They bring numerous benefits to the reading experience, such as the ability to instantly download new books or change the type size on the screen. But tried-and-true print versions of books remain strong and it’s nice to be able to grab a book without charging its battery or bringing along a power cord, Quinn says. “And as far as I’m concerned, you just can’t beat the intoxicating aroma of fresh book pages,” she says.
•  To infinity and beyond. Trains, planes and automobiles all have limits on where they can take us. Books don’t. A science fiction novel can whisk us away to an alternate universe. A historical novel can plunk us down in the middle of the Salem witch trials. In the movie “Toy Story,” Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase was “to infinity and beyond.” That aptly describes the reach of books and the power they have to transport us. “Right in our hands we have the passageway to a new world, a new language or a new understanding,” Quinn says. “We can be anywhere and we can be there at any time.”
•  Lessons within the pages. The opportunity to expand our creativity and knowledge is what reading is all about, Quinn says. Name a topic and a book exists that can help you learn more about it. The options are numerous – music, history, art, geography, exploration, science, nature, religion and more. “My goal has always been to be a lifelong learner and books are a fantastic asset for achieving that,” Quinn says.
John Green, author of such works as “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” has said, “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” Quinn says that might be the best reason of all to read.
“The feeling that someone else knows our struggles and relates to our lives can give us a sense of completeness, and help us realize we aren’t the only ones who feel or think the way we do,” she says.
“Reading can make us happy when we are sad. It can make us laugh when we are depressed. And it can excite us when we are disheartened. Those are great accomplishments for such a simple activity.”
About Darlene Quinn
Darlene Quinn ( is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif., whose novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years working in management with Bullocks Wilshire Specialty department stores. Quinn’s novels are steeped in family issues in today’s rapidly paced world. Her latest is “Conflicting Webs,” the fifth book in her epic Web series. Previous titles in the standalone series have been “Webs of Fate,” “Webs of Power,” “Twisted Webs” and “Unpredictable Webs.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review - Primate School

Primate School

By: Jennifer Keats Curtis
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing
Publication Date: April 2015
ISBN: 978-1628555646
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 2015

Franco, an Allen's swamp monkey, slipped his little hand through the bars of his cage. He had something that needed to be done, but so did Kwan, a silverback gorilla. Each primate had learned that in order to receive special grooming they had to pay attention to signals they learned in class. Franco needed to have his fingernails clipped and Kwan (ahhhhh-open-wide!) needed his teeth checked out. Of course there was a little treat in store for each one of them.

Primates that "live in zoos don't perform tricks," but do need to learn how to cooperate with their keepers. Just like their human counterparts, they need to learn lessons. Franco, Kwan, and other zoo animals study their lessons in "training classes where they learn behaviors that keep them happy and healthy." There are many different species of primates, but one thing they do have in common is that they are smart. Of course there are many other traits they have in common. You'll learn exactly what a primate is and will be able to see just how cool they really are.

Did you know that some of these primates can learn some of their lessons from an iPad? They can! Perhaps they aren't capable of playing games like Words for Friends, but Christopher, an orangutan, can work through a memory game. Primates who aren't in zoos "learn from members of their group" by "exploring, observing and playing." If you want a behind the scenes look at how primates learn in a zoo setting you need only turn the pages of this book and you'll be able to receive a few lessons yourself!

This is a fun and fascinating look at zoo school learning that will wow young students. No, not all training that takes place in a zoo setting involves circus-like tricks, but rather something quite unexpected. Young readers will get a glimpse of primates as they hold out their arms for a blood pressure check to those working their magic on a touch screen. The pages are filled with full color photographs and fascinating facts that will draw in even the most reluctant readers. In the back of the book there are four pages of activities as well as free complementary activities on the publisher's website.

Accelerated Reader: 3.9
Flesch-Kinncaid: 4.4
Lexile: 670L
Fountas and Pinnell: O

Quill says: This is a fun and fascinating look at zoo school learning that will wow young students!

Book Review - Animal Mouths

Animal Mouths

By: Mary Holland
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing
Publication Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62855-5615
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 28, 2015

Is there such a thing as a critter that doesn't have a mouth? Almost everyone would think that's not a possibility, but it is. The adult luna moth has such a short lifespan it doesn't need one. They "only live for about a week" so snacking on leaves is not necessary. Naturally the majority of animals do have mouths, but some have teeth while others such as the common snapping turtle "use the sharp edges of their jaws to eat both plants and animals."

Birds of course don't have teeth, but rather use their beaks to access their food supplies. A grosbeak uses his beak to eat seeds, but red-shouldered hawks "have strong, curved beaks to tear the flesh of the animals they eat." If you've taken a close look at photographs of birds in this and other books, you've probably noticed each one is different. They have adapted to the type of food they eat. Why would an egret need such a long pointed beak? Perhaps that's something to think about as you study animal adaptation.

Obviously birds don't have teeth, but what about a frog? Yes, they "have a row of very small teeth along the edge of their upper jaws and on the roof of their mouths." Unlike the common snapping turtle, a frog needs those teeth to hold onto their prey before swallowing them. In this book you'll get to check out many different types of animals and learn how they eat their food as well as get a close look at their teeth, if they have any. What kind of teeth do you have to eat your food? You'll find out when you check out this book!

There are a lot of interesting facts and photographs that will keep even the most reluctant reader interested in the animal kingdom. Mary Holland's award-winning photographs make the book a standout one in her nature series of books for children. The pages are filled with full color photographs, including insets of animal skulls, and fascinating facts that will be of high interest to young animal lovers. In the back of the book there are four pages of activities as well as free complementary activities on the publisher's website.

Accelerated Reader: 4.5
Flesch-Kinncaid: 4.9
Lexile: 920L
Fountas and Pinnell: N

Quill says: This is a fascinating look at animals and how they are able to eat their foods, a perfect book for students in a homeschool or classroom setting.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review - Undercover Bride

Undercover Bride: Undercover Ladies series

By: Margaret Brownley
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62836-627-3
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 27, 2015

Maggie Cartwright is a woman who takes her job very seriously. Indeed, she’s not just a Pinkerton operative working in the male-dominated 1870’s, but one who is willing to go undercover as a mail-order bride to prove a suspect guilty. And her willingness to do just that may mean she’ll be getting married to protect her cover...Will Pinkerton catch their man and will Maggie close the case before wedding bells ring?

As the story opens, we meet Maggie, who has just arrived in the Arizona Territory to meet her betrothed, Garrett Thomas. Or at least that’s what Garrett thinks. He also thinks he is meeting Maggie Taylor, his mail-order bride. Garrett is suspected of being one of the bandits who took part in the ‘Whistle-Stop Robbery,’ in which one man was killed. Garrett matches the description of one of the bandits given by an eyewitness and it’s Maggie’s job to prove his guilt.

Gaining Garrett’s trust by masquerading as a potential bride, and being able to move about his house without suspicion was a brilliant move on the part of the Pinkerton agency, but for Maggie…not so much. You see, Garrett is handsome, smart, and gentle, and has two adorable children who manage to wiggle their way into Maggie’s heart. Before long, she realizes that she is falling for this man and is determined to prove his innocence.

I have not read the first book in the Undercover Ladies series, Petticoat Detective, but had no problem jumping right into this tale. Each book is a stand-alone cozy, so no need to hesitate on buying this book if you haven’t read the first. The characters are well-developed for a cozy mystery, with my favorites the indomitable Aunt Hetty and a fellow Pinkerton detective who helps Maggie solve the case. Disguises flourish, plots to expose the guilty are planned (including a few that real Pinkerton detectives were known to use) and you may just learn a little history along the way. Throw in a light dose of Christian themes, and you have the perfect ‘gentle’ cozy. Undercover Bride is a delightful change from so many of the hard-core crime mysteries on the market today.

Quill says: A fun, easy-reading, quick moving Christian cozy that will keep the pages turning and the reader guessing until almost the last page.

Book Review - In Shadows

In Shadows

By: D.R. Willis
Publisher: iUniverse LLC
Publication Date: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4917-3115-4
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 26, 2015

In his prequel to Lonely Deceptions, D.R. Willis casts intrigue and a bounty of twists and turns that beckons his audience to pay attention and enjoy the thrilling ride in his current murder/mystery, In Shadows.

Roth Braun navigates the dense Thailand forest with a vengeance. His mission is to retrieve the mysterious package left to him by his diabolical father. The year is 1946 and Braun’s motivation to succeed is to rid himself of a father who continues to dictate his life...a hold he has on his son even from the grave.

Meanwhile, in the confines of a formidable New Jersey winter, Nelson Davis has returned home from war. As he buries both his parents, his mother’s dying wish haunts him: '...take care of your older brother Christopher...' The commitment to honor his mother’s wish is one that was much easier made than achieved. Christopher has visions fueled by a complete lack of common sense and a whole lot of trouble. Nelson believes he can convince Christopher to join him in his venture of opening a chocolate store with the future of happily ever after. Sadly, when Christopher heads to Savannah, Georgia, with the hope of his own vision of success, Nelson has no choice but to follow. Rose Blake is a Savannah Times reporter and the one person unbeknownst to the Davis brothers, the key to connecting them to the dark and mysterious Roth Braun. The unfortunate connection will lead to the demise of one of the Davis brothers, but not before a series of unfortunate events unfold.

D.R. Willis portrays a distinct confidence when it comes to spinning up a great murder mystery. This book may be slightly more than 120 pages, but the action and adventure that is peppered with ample twists and turns is instantaneous. There is a sublime nuance of ‘pay attention’ across each page with less than a handful of characters. Willis anchors each and every one of his or her purpose in the story by assigning their worth through powerful word placement. In my opinion, the winning formula in writing a solid murder mystery is the inherent need to deliver the audience a body and do so within the first few pages. Check that box clearly Mr. Willis as you did so and did it superbly! The ending has a fantastic twist to it that one will not see coming—even a reader (like me) who insists on reading the last page of the book first! Well done Mr. Willis! After reading In Shadows, it’s a no brainer for me to seek out Lonely Deceptions and devour it as well.

Quill says: In Shadows is a murder mystery with the perfect balance of intrigue and suspense that will draw its audience in immediately and hold onto the reader to the very end.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Review - Essie's Roses

Essie’s Roses

By: Michelle Muriel
Publisher: Little Cabin Books
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9909383-0-9
Reviewed by: Charline Ratcliff
Date: May 24, 2015

I have finished my reading of Essie’s Roses and all I can say is – wow, what an amazing read. What a well-written, completely believable and insightful book. Essie’s Roses is a ‘fictional’ novel, yet it encompasses the same importance of message, and will certainly remind readers of their intrinsic knowledge of right versus wrong with the same quiet strength of conviction that Harriet Beecher Stowe provided to her readers when she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Additionally though, this book is much more than just that. Essie’s Roses is the beautifully poignant tale of two girls; one white, the other colored – who grow up together (but still separate) during the mid-1800s. This is the story of their heartfelt and true love for one another. An accounting showing how they are each able to overcome the odds of the lives they have been born into. For even though slavery (the subjugation of an entire race due only to the ‘infraction’ of being born a different color) was commonly accepted as ‘right’ during our country’s younger years; this book will force the reader to look even further beyond that misconception – in order to acknowledge that there are many additional forms of slavery; and that they each stem from cruelty, coupled with a complete and utter disregard for the pricelessness of another human’s soul.

In Essie’s Roses, the reader will begin his, or her, literary journey with a very poignant show of love – as a young colored girl named Essie Mae seeks to save the life of her (white) best-friend, Evie Winthrop. Essie Mae also understands that to be caught would result in the loss of her own life, but she cannot – more importantly will not; leave her best friend to suffer alone.

From here, the story continues – providing the reader with a brief glimpse into the lives of the mothers who birthed these two girls, before the story again moves forward and focuses on each one of the two very different, yet very similar, lives of Essie Mae and Evie.

While I could provide the potential reader with additional information about this amazing and riveting novel – I choose not to. The power of the words and the story found within Essie’s Roses needs to be discovered by the reader for her or himself.

Quill says: Michelle Muriel has penned a wonderfully moving work of fiction – and one that will leave no reader with a dry eye. I fully expect to see Essie’s Roses on the silver screen someday, but until then I will simply look forward to reading future works by this author. Five Stars (and then add some more)!

For more information on Essie's Roses, please visit the author's website at:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Books In For Review

Here's the latest batch of books to arrive for review.  Check them out!

As All My Fathers Were by James A. Misko Ranchers, Richard and Seth Barrett, are devoted to running the family ranch on Nebraska's Platte River. It is their intent to keep doing so the rest of their lives; however, the terms of their mother's will requires them to travel by horse and canoe along the Platte River, to understand why their maternal grandfather homesteaded the ranch three generations earlier. From the grave, she commands them to observe industrial farming's harm to the land, air, and water. A 90-old bachelor farmer, with a game plan of his own, butts in and threatens to disrupt and delay the will's mandatory expedition. Using a gullible hometown sheriff and a corrupt local politician, a conniving, wealthy neighbor, seeking to seize the property, thwarts their struggle to keep their ranch and meet the will's terms. The Platte River, A mile wide and an inch deep, becomes its own character in this turbulent novel and lives up to its legend as being too thick to drink and too thin to plow.  

Sweet Cast Iron Creations: Dutch Oven Desserts by Doug Martin Master the art of Dutch oven sweets! Award-winning chef Doug Martin uses easy-to-follow instructions and irresistible recipes to take you beyond basic cobblers and into the realm of gourmet delicacies like his famous Chocolate Ganache Cake and the award-winning Tropical Dream Cake! With all the delicious Dutch oven flavor you love, these sweet treats will have your friends and family scraping the black pot clean.

Backyard Dutch Oven Cooking by Bruce Tracy Make your favorite Dutch oven foods in your own backyard! Whether you're making a hearty, no-fuss breakfast in the woods or a fancy Sunday dinner to serve at your dining table, there's nothing better than Dutch oven cooking. With over 100 recipes encompassing all skill levels and lots of expert advice, you'll be a black pot master in no time.  

Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed-up true-crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback, one more shot at the bestselling success he once enjoyed. His chance comes when he’s promised exclusive access to death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the notorious cult leader and mass murderer who’s ready to break his silence after thirty years, and who contacted Lucas personally from his maximum-security cell. With nothing left to lose, Lucas leaves New York to live and work from the scene of the crime: a split-level farmhouse on a gray-sanded beach in Washington State whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners—runaways who were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. There, Lucas sets out to capture the real story of the departed faithful. Except that he’s not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.  

It's You by Jane Porter In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else. What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on. As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.  

Hope In Every Raindrop by Wesley Banks "Small towns have big stories." That was a lesson Katie’s father taught her years ago. A lesson she’s taken to heart. And right now, Katie is desperate for a big story. Reeling from the recent loss of her father and with her agent breathing down her neck for the next book, the twenty-one-year-old writer picks a spot on the map and finds herself bound for a middle-of-nowhere town called Bishopville, South Carolina. Taking a chance on the words of a local grocer, Katie stumbles upon a rare breed of dogs raised by the town doctor and his nephew Kyle. The only problem? Kyle isn’t interested in telling stories—especially not to a big-city girl who can’t seem to sit still. In an attempt to win him over as the clock winds down, Katie finds herself immersed in Kyle’s world, doing everything but writing. When inspiration finally strikes, Katie is faced with an unforeseen catastrophe and a truth she can no longer ignore. While she has come to love the dogs, the real story may be about Kyle Walker.  

The Tulip Resistance by Lynne Leatham Allen Pulled into a war she doesn't understand, Marieka Cordoven is just a Dutch girl who wouldn't dare resist the Germans. But helping a wounded German soldier- a defector- changes her mind about everything. This tense historical drama delves into the intricacies of the Dutch resistance, its grit to defy orders, and its plan to do what is right.  

The Way You Wear Your Hat by Patricia Underwood The ultimate celebration of the hat. Renowned milliner Patricia Underwood presents a visually stunning and informative look at the transformative value of the hat. Featuring cloches, top hats, visors, wide-brimmed hats, berets, fedoras, turbans, trilbies, sun hats, and more, this spirited volume luxuriates in the multifariousness of one of the most diverse accessories. Underwood shares her inspirations—from art, cinema, historical periods, and nature—as well as sharing her favorite hats. She also offers her readers guidelines on how to choose a hat. The book’s lavish illustrations showcase Underwood’s many years of collaborations with such top-notch designers as Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, and a host of others. Images are drawn from the designer’s own archive, as well as editorial work from some of the world’s greatest fashion photographers, including Richard Avedon, Norman Parkinson, and Bruce Weber.

Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-based, Whole-food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite by Annie Oliverio Whether you want salty, sweet, spicy, comforting, crunchy, or chocolaty-indulge all your cravings and give your body the nutrition it needs. With these tantalizing plant-based, vegan recipes, like Creamy Thai Carrot Coconut Soup and Chocolate-coated Key Lime Coconut Creme Pie, popular blogger and food photographer Annie Oliverio teaches you how to train your body to want healthy options, while feeding your appetite, and satisfying your cravings-all at the same time.  

Ally's Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates by Alice Phillips Wander the world without leaving your kitchen! Popular blogger, chef, and TV darling Ally Phillips shares her favorite recipes from around the globe in this truly unique cookbook. Full of cultural background, delicious recipes, and Ally Phillips's signature "food branching" ideas, this cookbook is guaranteed to turn your ordinary meals into memorable masterpieces.  

The Cheese Lover's Cookbook by Emily Chambers From gruyere to gouda, you can add a little cheese to any meal! This tasty collection of recipes features all your favorite cheeses from around the world. Try the Mozzarella Caprese Salad or the dreamy Rocky Road Cheesecake, and don't forget the Ultimate Grilled Cheese! Simple and delicious, these recipes will make all your meals easy cheesy!

 Eat, Drink, and Be Green: Easy and Delicious Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle by Michele Nielson Give your menu a green make-over with tasty, healthy meals you can prepare in half an hour or less! Using easy-to-find ingredients and some simple preparation, you can green up your diet with silky green smoothies, savory salads and so much more. With recipes from around the world, detailed instructions and multiple FAQ lists, this cookbook makes it easy to love eating right. Try the: Orange Creamie Greenie Smoothie; Butter Lettuce and Tomato Salad; Zucchini Spaghetti; The Best Hummus; Huevos Rancheros; Speculoos Bake-me-nots and many more -- more than eighty recipes, many with recipe conversions for small and large batches. Mouth-watering photos make it easy to know what you want to make and almost all the recipes have gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan versions so you can keep everyone happy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review - Brightness from the Shadows

Brightness from the Shadows

By: Jon M. Nelson
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1-68028-791-2
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 19, 2015

Jon M. Nelson delivers an uplifting compilation of poetry and offers his audience hope and positive inspiration in his latest body of work, Brightness from the Shadows.

“Human Condition” is a broad subject matter and Nelson breaks it down in sections. In his book’s opening many stanzas fill the pages with the focus on children and how very important they are in his life: ‘A Child Is… precious and should be treated as such… is the future and should be shown the way…’ Nelson has devoted the first 40+ pages to his take on the importance of children in our lives. He uses his basic (and signature) language to communicate a heart-felt message and does so with a positive tone to his written voice.

This book is not all lollipops and cotton candy, however. There is a section titled ‘Human is Falling’ that is devoted to the gradual decline of humankind. One of the poems, Crimson Rain, appeared in Nelson’s first book (Reflections of Life) and was used then in a context of war. The beauty in poetry is its subjectivity to interpretation and if used via a different platform, the essence of its meaning can take on a whole new light and deliver new ‘food for thought’ perspective. In Reflections I recall associating the overall premise of Crimson Rain to war. In Brightness, however, I found myself associating the message and meaning to the constant and unnecessary acts of violence: ‘...I look down and cry at this dreadful sight, for all of this suffering just isn’t right...’ The recent (and unnecessary) raping and pillaging of the City of Baltimore came to mind for me.

Even in the harsh realities of life as we know it today, however, Nelson refuses to paint a maudlin picture of woe and destitution. Rather, he continues to raise his audience to higher limits with his insistent connection with God in the book’s section titled: For God and Country. He leads his audience by the hand down his all-too-familiar military path. Nelson is an active duty soldier and in this portion of the book, his words exude the message of his heartfelt love and pride to serve this great country of America. Bond of Brothers is a strong message of the importance of working together no matter the individual differences: ‘...We may not have always gotten along, but we knew we were a part of the same times the bickering was senseless...but we came together under stress, it created a bond that was permanent...’

Similar to Reflections of Life, Mr. Nelson categorically breaks down Brightness from the Shadows into specific topics/themes. He feeds his positive messaging to his audience in tiny, bite-sized pieces in order to savor the varied flavors of hopeful inspiration. Nelson has a distinct style of using basic English that allows the reader to absorb the message without scratching his or her head trying to figure out lofty and outrageous words. Nelson has done an admirable job of assembling a body of poems that offers up a little something for everyone. Brightness from the Shadows is the perfect addition to anyone’s nightstand.

Quill says: Read one or two poems before turning in for the night. It’s the perfect remedy for completing the day on a positive note.

For more information on Brightness from the Shadows , please visit the author's website at:

Book Review - The Sussex Downs Murder

The Sussex Downs Murder: A British Library Crime Classic

By: John Bude
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publishing Date: May 2015 (re-release)
ISBN: 978-1464203718
Reviewed by Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 20, 2015

This book is an extremely well-written story from the 1930’s featuring Superintendent Meredith, who was prominent in other murder stories from the ‘British Library Crime Classics.’ To begin: John and William Rother, brothers, live together at their home, known as Chalklands Farm, in Sussex Downs. John and William are two separate entities as they don’t seem to have anything in common with each other. John is the farmer while William, who doesn't enjoy farming, is a very sensitive fellow who is into experiments and seems to be a little over the top. But John holds the purse strings and William has to go along. One day John announces that he is going on a holiday and leaves William and his fairly new wife, Janet, to look after things.

A few days later, John’s car is found abandoned and covered in blood but John is nowhere to be found. William and his wife are instant suspects and some people in the village think that John and William’s wife, Janet, are just a little closer than they ought to be. Superintendent Meredith is assigned to the case, if there really is a case here. Meredith quickly gets to work and he is a wonder. He is like a puppy with a bone as he goes into the case and begins to solve it little by little using his brains. At the same time, he is driving most of the suspects a little crazy because he keeps showing up with more questions. And then, another murder occurs and the body is found instantly. A new case for the detective and the readers.

This is a great puzzle with great characters; a refreshing detective who is a good policeman doing a good job, who does not have a shattered past or an unhappy marriage and a son who is so smart he keeps giving his dad tips. The characters are ordinary folks from a small town. The readers, if they are avid crime story readers, will begin to realize who is who and solve the mystery but it takes a while and in the meantime the reader will be fascinated by the narrative.

Quill says: The Sussex Downs Murder was originally published in 1936 and through the publishing genius of Poisoned Pen Press, the 2015 public is able to draw on this perfect English mystery and enjoy an afternoon of great reading.

Book Review - Murder in Piccadilly

Murder in Piccadilly: A British Library Crime Classic

By: Charles Kingston
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publishing Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0373-2
Reviewed by Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 2015

Here is another offering from the British Library Crime Classics series (see my review for The Sussex Downs Murder). This book, Murder in Piccadilly, by Charles Kingston was originally released in 1936 and has been re-released by Poisoned Pen Press. For those who like English mysteries it is a real find and also those readers who are not really keen on English mysteries; try this one. It is a very well written book and the mystery is a good one.

The story begins in an older part of London that will remind British readers of a drawing room mystery, something like “Clue.” One of the main characters, Massy Cheldon, is the owner of a country estate worth many, many pounds. Massy is head of the family, not married nor does he have any children. He’s visiting his widowed sister-in-law and lording it over her and her son Bobbie, who is the next in line to be owner of the country estate. Bobbie is also wishing his uncle a short life. Sister-in-law Ruby has spoiled her son rotten and as Bobbie has just announced to the two of them that he is in love with Nancy Curzon, a nightclub dancer, and wishes to marry her, his mother and uncle are not happy. This is not a great thing as he has no job (his mother thinks that Uncle Massy should just give him money that he will eventually inherit). Uncle Massy does not agree.

Bobbie knows that the girl of his dreams has stated that she doesn’t want a husband with a job! Nancy said: “I don’t want to marry a man with a job. I want to marry a man who can afford to do without one.” She obviously has her eye on marrying a rich man and thinks that Bobbie is that man. She doesn’t realize that he won’t have any money until his uncle dies and Bobbie is thinking that he just must find a way to become wealthy without actually earning it. Enter Nosey Ruslin, who has a plan to help Bobbie out. Unfortunately, Uncle Massy meets his maker and as it happened in a London tube station there are lots of witnesses but no one saw anything.

The law is pretty sure that Bobbie wouldn’t have the smarts to kill anyone but his friend Nosey might. This novel is full of entertainment for the 2015 reader with a very surprising ending too.

Quill says: Recommended for all readers young and old; and not just for British Crime writing fans.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interview with Author Linda Gould

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Linda Gould, author of Handmaidens of Rock

FQ: You have an eclectic cast of characters in Handmaidens of Rock. I’m curious to know of the three girls, who did you most identify with and why?

GOULD: I identified with Candy the most, as she is the one who aspires to be a writer and to chronicle all of the group’s adventures. She is also the most shy and least confident of the three girls, at least at the outset. Those are flaws that I’ve struggled with. In a sense, she’s the one who has the farthest to travel on the journey to become a grown woman.

FQ: Your development and description of your character Swami has all the makings of a ‘cult.’ What do you suppose draws people into such an environment?

GOULD: Young people seem to be most vulnerable to these influences when they’re at a crossroads in their lives, confused about their life goals and looking for some kind of higher meaning. The late 60s-early 70s era saw a growing interest in mysticism and mistrust of traditional authority, owing to the Vietnam War and rapid social changes. The very name “Swami” tends to attract seekers of the “truth.”

FQ: The 60s seemed to be a tantamount period of time in history. What other period of time do you think is the closest in comparison?

GOULD: I don’t think there has been a comparative era since then. Although we continue to fight questionable wars, the end of the draft and the establishment of all-volunteer armed forces have reduced the amount of anger directed at the military, and have in fact increased the public’s respect for it. To find a comparable era of social change, we’d probably have to go far back in time, perhaps as far as the “roaring 20s.”

FQ: I am impressed with your bio. Are you a full time author or do you work in an environment to utilize your political science education?

GOULD: I’ve been retired for almost a year from my career as a Budget Analyst at the Department of Labor. The process of producing Federal budgets did allow me to utilize both my English and my political science degrees. I’ve lived in the Washington DC area my entire life and come from a long line of government employees.

FQ: With four books to your credit, what words of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring author?

GOULD: Self-publishing is gradually losing its sigma, thanks to the growing number of excellent authors working independently today. But don’t mistake “independence” for “working alone.” Every author needs help to make his or her products the best they can be. Don’t publish too quickly, just because you can. Reread your work relentlessly, seek out critique groups or beta readers during the process, and if at all possible, have at least one complete draft professionally edited.

FQ: When you finish writing a book, is there much ‘down time’ before you embark upon your next project?

GOULD: No down time at all, as I always seem to begin a new project before completing the previous one. For example, I got the idea for Handmaidens of Rock at least a year and a half before my third novel, Let’s Play Ball, was finished. I couldn’t resist working on the new, fresh idea, which was more fun than the book I was supposed to be working on! I know that’s not the best method, but sometimes it’s irresistible. When it comes to the final round of edits, however, the current project always gets my full attention.

FQ: When you experience a ‘dry spell’ in your writing process, what do you do to overcome the gap and get back on track?

GOULD: Really, there is no choice when that happens but to keep plugging away. Sometimes it helps to get away from a project for a while and then return to it with a fresh eye. But I find I’m in danger of losing my fluency if I don’t work at some kind of writing almost every day.

FQ: What is your writing formula? Do you outline? Do you sit down and just write? Stream of consciousness exercises?

GOULD: I start out with a loose outline, which I tend to discard as soon as I start trying to write the actual story. Once my ideas start flowing, the “outline” gets revised, only to be violated again! I generally start out writing a few paragraphs with old-fashioned paper and pencil until I accumulate enough for a page or two to put on the computer. I edit some on the computer, then print it out and mark it up.

FQ: It was a pleasure to read and critique your work. Are you working on your next project and if so, would you care to share?

GOULD: With the help of my great critique group, I’m working on a sequel to my second novel, The Rock Star’s Homecoming. Tentatively entitled Sycophants, it picks up the lives of the college students featured in the original story as they attempt to navigate the adult world by establishing an entertainment production company.

To learn more about Handmaidens of Rock please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review - Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My!

Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My!

By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Illustrated by: Kalpart
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1631359491
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 2015

Oh my! What will poor Rosemary do? Before leaving school on Friday, her teacher, Ms. Eddy, told the children that come Monday, there would be mice in the classroom! Eeek! Rosemary does NOT like mice. Nope, nada, not one little, tiny bit. The young student tells her mother that she will not be going to school Monday morning.

Rosemary’s mother is quite confused at her daughter’s declaration. She knows Rosemary loves school and has lots of friends there too. What could the problem be? When Rosemary explains the imminent arrival of several mice, her mother assures her that all will be okay and surely a few little creatures can’t keep the girl from school. After all, she reasons, the mice will be in a cage. That may be so, replies Rosemary, but Ms. Eddy also said there’d be spiders…and webs! Double-eek!!!

“I know they’re just bugs, and perhaps they won’t bite,
But something about them just gives me a fright.
They move much too quickly, they scurry and crawl,
I know I should like them – I can’t, though I try.
If this one has legs that are hairy, I’ll cry!”

With the addition of spiders and webs, even Rosemary’s mother is a bit apprehensive about Monday morning. Surely, the teacher wouldn’t let spiders run around the classroom. Time for Mom, Rosemary, and Ms. Eddy to have a chat!

Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My! tackles a really fun, and often ignored, topic – misunderstood words, how many words have more than one meaning, and the importance of listening to what the teacher is saying. You see, while Rosemary thought her teacher was talking about real mice and spiders, Ms. Eddy was using computer terms to introduce her students to popular technology. No spiders spinning webs in her classroom – nope, nada, not going to happen. Instead, Ms. Eddy was talking about the Internet, the mice we use to control our cursor, and email as well as other useful tools.

This is the second book of Ms. Cannon’s that I’ve reviewed, and the third that Feathered Quill has reviewed (the other two are Manner-Man and My Fingerpaint Masterpiece). Like the other books, Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My! is a super-fun book that will surely put a smile on the faces of both children and adults. The rhyme is perfect, setting a light-hearted but informational tone, and the drawings, again by Kalpart, are bright and well-matched to the story. The author has taken a very interesting topic, computer technology, and turned it into a fun learning experience. Children will get a giggle out of Rosemary’s confusion of various terms while also learning what some of those terms actually mean. This book is a winner any way you look at it!

Quill says: Another winner from author Sherrill S. Cannon and a great way to introduce youngsters to computer technology.

For more information on Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My!, pleaes visit the author's website at:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review - Handmaidens of Rock

Handmaidens of Rock

By: Linda Gould
Publisher: iUniverse LLC
Publication Date: October 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4917-4543-4
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 14, 2015

Linda Gould resurrects the late ‘60s with a little bit of rock and roll and a whole lot of adventure in her novel Handmaidens of Rock.

It all started in the gymnasium of a suburban Maryland high school. The band Homegrown is on its upward trajectory and nothing will stop Preston, Neal, Brad and their three girls (Hope, Candy and Theda) from following them on their journey toward coveted stardom. Now that the band of merries (no pun intended) have achieved their first educational hurdle of high school, the stateside college scene isn’t near the exposure the band seeks in order to land the quintessential recording contract. Convinced they need to broaden their horizons (and avoid the draft), it’s time to cross the Atlantic and see what London has to offer.

The band decides to embrace opportunity and take a month-long study opportunity abroad. The groupies have no problem tagging along. Once underway, the life of aspiring rock stars and faithful groupies isn’t quite as glamorous as they once thought it would be. Fortunately band member and drummer, Neal, happens to have a cousin who lives in Scotland. How perfect he happens to own and operate a commune for those who truly are in search of the answers one seeks when finding oneself. ‘Swami’ appears to be the real deal when it comes to ‘peace, love and happiness’ until reality hits and the band has a lucid moment. Funds are running low and the fact that Swami’s Utopia is little more than a safe haven for draft dodgers certainly doesn't help. Friction becomes the operative to motivate Homegrown and its loyal groupies to go on the move once more. It’s time to head back to their native America, but not quite Maryland. The next stop is L.A. and their mission is a last ditch effort to make their legacy a reality. With big dreams complemented by sex and drugs, the only take away left is coveted rock and roll infamy.

Linda Gould delivers a grounded tale of what it must have been like to not only be a struggling musician in the ‘flower power’ era of the 60s, but to also be the groupie hanging onto the other end of the spectrum and chasing the dreams of rock star trail blazers. The dialogue isn’t too over the top ‘groovy’ and the situations are credible in that most of what I know (mostly read) about this particular period often has undertones of a perpetual cloud of weed and the insistent purpose of those who smoked it to pontificate righteousness. Gould does a credible job of establishing her six characters (3 guys and 3 gals) and creates a distinct persona for each while blending their natural connection as a whole.

Quill says: Handmaidens of Rock is a story that will appeal to those heroes of yesteryear who truly believed they would change the world with a whole lot of rock and roll and some sex and drugs to balance the blend.

For more information on Handmaidens of Rock, please visit the publisher's website at:

Books In For Review

Here's another great selection of books that have just arrived for review.  Check them out and then stop by our site in a few weeks to read the reviews!

Petticoat Surgeon: The Extraordinary Life of Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen by Maureen Thalmann Petticoat Surgeon tells the extraordinary life story of Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen. Born in 1863, the pioneering female surgeon was raised on a farm in South East Michigan and followed her calling in medicine to the University of Michigan. With a successful obstetrical and surgical practice in Chicago, Bertha worked tirelessly for the advancement of women in medicine. In 1915,she became the founder and first president of the American Medical Women's Association. Bertha's life story includes many firsts, international recognition, an abiding love of family and a commitment to advance and improve the lives of women.  

 Six-year-old Suzy Jenkins desperately wants a pony for Christmas. And she's certain Santa will deliver. After all, she's been on her best behavior for months--not tattling on the bullies and even sharing her only candy cane. Besides, this year she has everything ready, including a cracked water bucket and several wizened carrots. Suzy's mother struggles just to put food on the table. Life has been challenging since her husband died, and any pet—especially a pony—is impossible. However Suzy's unflagging belief in the importance of being kind serves as a catalyst, sending ripples throughout her snowy Montana town and bringing love and happiness to more than just a big-hearted little girl.  

Undercover Bride: (Undercover Ladies) by Margaret Brownley Pinkerton detective Maggie Cartwright is tasked with going undercover as a mail order bride. Her “fiancĂ©” is widower Garrett Thomas, aka the suspected Whistle-Stop Bandit. No sooner does Maggie arrive in Arizona Territory when she’s confronted with an early wedding date—the clock is ticking on her detective work or she may end up a criminal’s wife! As the day of the wedding draws near, Maggie begins to panic. The problem is that the more she gets to know Garrett and his two adorable children, the harder it is to keep up the deception. Can a man as kind and gentle as Garrett really be the Whistle-Stop Bandit?  

Doodle Lit by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver Now kids can celebrate classic literature in doodle form! With Doodle Lit, artists can use their imaginations to complement favorites such as Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, and many more. Kids can follow the entertaining prompts provided and put pencils to work doodling such things as • Mr. Darcy’s dog • Bob Cratchit’s Christmas tree • Tattoos on Queequeg’s arms • Anna Karenina’s hairdo • Dress designs for Elinor and Marianne Sprinkled throughout are also designs with perforated edges, perfect for popping out and crafting! Illustrated in the same colorful and playful style as the acclaimed BabyLit board book series.  

InterstellarNet: Enigma: Omnibus Edition by Edward M. Lerner Humanity once feared that we might be alone in the universe. Now we know better. And we’ve learned there are worse things than being alone... Joshua Matthews has the opportunity to write the definitive history of InterstellarNet. In that history he plans to focus attention on the improbability that an interstellar community even exists. But somehow, returning home from the party thrown to celebrate his good fortune, he has lost a month of his life. Everyone is certain he’s been on an epic bender. And so, rather than promoted, he is disgraced, unemployed, and unemployable. Firh Glithwah, leader of the Hunter clan Arblen Ems, schemes to liberate her people from two decades of ignominious internment and isolation on a remote moon of Uranus. And in the process to take vengeance against their human oppressors. Reporter Corinne Elman and United Planets intel agent Carl Rowland, each in their own way, remains scarred and haunted by the bloody fiasco that was the Hunter invasion of the Solar System. And none of them suspects that their tribulations have only begun, or that their lives will entwine—across time and space—to confront the InterstellarNet Enigma.  

The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts Based on a true story.  1885.  Anne Stanbury. Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems? Edgar Stanbury. The grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life. Dr George Savage. The well-respected psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

4 Reasons Landing A Radio Interview Is Valuable

Talk Radio Remains A Great Venue For
Promoting Industry Leaders & Businesses
By Marsha Friedman
Prospective clients often have questions for me about how they can best promote themselves or their businesses, but many seem surprised when one of my suggestions is talk radio.
“Does anyone actually listen to talk radio anymore?” they ask.
Now, from my own experience, I could answer with an emphatic “absolutely!”
But to confirm what I already knew, I checked in with Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the industry’s top trade publication, who is even more emphatic. Since the modern era of talk radio began in the late 1980s, he says, its detractors have been quick to point to every blemish or minor ratings down-tick as indicating the death of the format. They could not be more wrong.
“If no one is listening to talk radio, then no one is listening to radio at all,” Michael says. “With the normal ups and downs inherent in any format of the medium, talk radio (and country music radio) remain the two most-listened-to genres of radio, ratings period after ratings period.”
Is talk radio important and influential? Michael says you might as well ask if voters and active consumers are influential.
“Research continues to indicate that talk radio is where a high concentration of voters and active consumers are indeed listening,” he says. “Talk radio also puts the spotlight on important issues that for reasons of ratings, circulation or sizzle the rest of the mainstream media often tends to ignore or simply bury.” 
There are a few types of radio stations. The conventional ones are referred to as terrestrial. That's your AM and FM stations.  AM is home to most talk-formatted shows and it's where my public relations firm books clients most often. FM is primarily music but also carries some talk shows, such as those on National Public Radio.  
 There's also satellite radio, such as Sirius and XM that people subscribe to, and internet radio, which is accessible online.
 Here are a few reasons talk radio is a great source of publicity:
•  It's an easy, effective way to get your message out.  There's no travel or special equipment involved.  As long as you have a landline, you can be interviewed from the comfort of your home or office. (Producers don't like cell phones because the signal is unreliable.)  If you give a compelling interview, you'll impress listeners with your expertise and personality, which will help them remember you. It will also prompt hosts to plug your work and offer your website address.
•  Talk radio audiences are educated and engaged. Talkers magazine periodically profiles news/talk listeners. The numbers show these are people who read books, buy products, care about issues and participate in the political process – potential customers!
   According to the most recent Talk Radio Research Project:
o 72 percent of listeners are ages 35 to 64.
o 70 percent are college graduates or have attended college or graduate school.
o Men comprise 58 percent; women 42 percent.
o Almost three-fourths of listeners earn $30,000 to $79,000 a year.
o 79 percent of those eligible to vote do.

•  Shows in smaller markets can be as helpful as big ones. Some clients tell us, “I don't want to waste my time on small market shows.”  But here's why they are valuable: Smaller markets have devoted fan bases because listeners have fewer shows from which to choose.  So, not only do you talk to a dedicated audience, it's likely your interview will be longer than it would in a larger market. That gives you greater potential for making a strong impression and driving home your points to those devoted listeners.  
•  It can live online for you to share. Your interview can be saved as a podcast so you can share it on social media and on your website.  Having the ability to re-purpose it in this way is what I like to call marketing gold. The radio interview’s return on investment is not necessarily just new customers or clients who find you because of the interview. The ROI actually is that these interviews help build your credibility as the go-to expert in your field, and that can lead to people choosing you over competitors down the line. 
Besides the great publicity potential, talk radio also is easy. When a show host wants to interview me, I simply close my office door for 15 minutes and get on the phone.
There's simply no better way to have a live conversation with a dedicated audience tuned in to hear what you have to say. 

About Marsha Friedman
Marsha Friedman is a public relations expert with 25 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and media newcomers alike. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations (, an award-winning national agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies. She share

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review - Kittens Can Kill

Kittens Can Kill: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir

By: Clea Simon
Illustrated By: Rich Siegle
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 9781464203589
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: May 8, 2015

When animal behaviorist Pru Marlowe got a call about a kitten that was given as a gift to a local lawyer she sees this as an opportunity to expand her paycheck as clients were far and few between in the small town of Beauville. However, Pru soon finds that she got much more than she bargained for. When she arrives at the address she finds the door unlocked but no answer to her knocking, so she goes in but finds the owner lying dead on the floor. Pru learns that this man’s name was David Canaday, a long time lawyer in the town of Beauville. Apparently his health was diminishing for a while so a possible heart attack seems to be the likely cause. However, when his three daughters come together for the reading of his will they instantly start pointing fingers at each other, accusing each other for their father's demise.

With the entire family at each other throats, Pru knows that the kitten that she was originally called about is not safe with any of these women so against her better judgment she takes the kitten home. Of course her own cat Wallis is not pleased but she hopes that maybe in time Wallis can get the little kitten to open up about what happened to Mr. Canaday and allow Pru to use her unique skill of talking with animals.

With curiosity getting the better of her, Pru once again finds herself in the middle of a mystery as rumors start to spread about all three of the Canaday girls and how they could somehow be linked to their father’s murder. On top of that the youngest of the three, Jill, has decided that being an animal behaviorist is her calling and she is constantly contacting Pru to learn all of her ways. Pru is not quite sure that Jill is being completely honest with her about what she knows and how much she is involved. The short and scattered thoughts of the Kitten with the name Ernesto are unfortunately not much help at first but piece by piece Pru will work to solve the mystery in front of her.

This is the second book I have read in the Pru Marlowe series and I have immensely enjoyed both of them as Pru is such an interesting character that I can’t help but easily relate to her. One of the aspects I enjoyed most in this book was the way the thoughts of the animals are presented with the way the animals actually see the world instead of the way humans would see it. It's fun to picture how the pets are reacting and then have Pru slowly figure out why and I think that makes for a great story. For any animal lover or mystery lover the book delivers on both counts.

Quill says: Another intriguing mystery that has me looking for the next one in the Pru Marlowe series.

Wanna Share Your Views/Comments/Thoughts?

Have something interesting to say? Wanna see it posted to our FB page and blog? Always looking for posts that will interest either a) authors or b) readers. Will include your bio and link to your website. Contact for more info. (Note: I'm not looking for 'ads' for books - your post needs to be something others will find helpful)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ten Most Memorable Moms in New Fiction

What better time of year than Mother’s Day to showcase some of the most memorable fictional mothers in some of the best new novels?  From loving, supportive mothers to complex, trailblazing mothers to selfish, vindictive mothers, this list has it all!    

1) The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White (Lake Union, July 2015)
Ella Fitzwilliam, the mom in THE PERFECT SON, quit a successful career in jewelry design to be full-time parent, mental health coach, and advocate for her son, Harry, who has a soup of issues that include Tourette syndrome. She has devoted 17 years of her life to his therapy, to educating teachers, to being Harry’s emotional rock and giving him the confidence he needs to be Harry. Thanks to her, Harry is comfortable in his own skin, even when people stare. After Ella has a major heart attack in the opening chapter, her love for Harry tethers her to life. But as she recovers, she discovers the hardest parenting lesson of all: to let go.

2) Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb (Plume, January 2015)

In RODIN’S LOVER, Camille’s mother, Louise Claudel, is spiteful, jealous, and disapproving of Camille’s pursuit to become a female sculptor in the 1880s. She also shows signs of mental illness. Because of this relationship, Camille struggles with all of her female relationships the rest of her life, and ultimately, to prove to her mother that she’s truly talented. 

3) Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen (Astor + Blue Editions, April 2015)
In IMAGINARY THINGS, young single mother Anna Jennings has a unique power that most parents only dream of—the ability to see her four-year-old son’s imagination come to life.  But when David’s imaginary friends turn dark and threatening, Anna must learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, what his friends truly represent, and how best to protect him.

4) The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister (Sourcebooks, January 2015)

In THE MAGICIAN'S LIE, Arden's mother is remarkable both for what she does and what she doesn't do. As a young woman, she bears a child out of wedlock and runs away with her music teacher, never fearing the consequences. But later in life, her nerve fails her—just when her daughter needs her most.

5) Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (Putnam, 2014)
In FIVE DAYS LEFT, Mara Nichols is, in some ways, a typical mother: she loves her daughter fiercely, thinks about her constantly and goes to great lengths to balance her high-stress legal career with her daughter’s needs. But there are two ways in which Mara isn't typical at all. First, she adopted her daughter from India, making good on a lifelong promise to rescue a baby from the same orphanage where Mara herself lived decades ago. And second, when Mara is diagnosed with a fatal, incurable illness that will render her unable to walk, talk or even feed herself, she has to make the kind of parenting choice none of us wants to consider—would my child be better off if I were no longer alive?

6) House Broken by Sonja Yoerg (Penguin/NAL, January 2015)

In HOUSE BROKEN, Helen Riley has a habit of leaving her grown children to cope with her vodka-fueled disasters. She has her reasons, but they’re buried deep, and stem from secrets too painful to remember and, perhaps, too terrible to forgive.

7) You Were Meant for Me by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Penguin/NAL, 2014)

In YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME, having a baby is the furthest thing from Miranda Berenzweig’s mind.  She’s newly single after a bad break up, and focused on her promotion at work, her friends and getting her life back on track.  Then one frigid March night she finds a newborn infant in a NYC subway and even after taking the baby to the police, can’t get the baby out of her mind.  At the suggestion of the family court judge assigned to the case, Miranda begins adoption proceedings.  But her plans—as well as her hopes and dreams—are derailed when the baby’s biological father surfaces, wanting to claim his child.  The way she handles this unforeseen turn of events is what makes Miranda a truly memorable mother. 

8) The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft (Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2015)

In THE FAR END OF HAPPY, Ronnie has hung in there as long as she can during her husband's decline into depression, spending issues, and alcoholism and he will not accept her attempts to get him professional help. She is not a leaver, but can't bear for her sons to witness the further deterioration of the marriage. She determines to divorce—and on the day he has promised to move out, he instead arms himself, holes up inside a building on the property, and stands off against police. When late in the day the police ask Ronnie if she’ll appeal to him one last time over the bullhorn, she must decide: with the stakes so high, will she try one last time to save her husband’s life? Or will her need to protect her sons and her own growing sense of self win out?

9) Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (Washington Square Press, 2014)

In YOUR PERFECT LIFE, long-time friends, Rachel and Casey wake up the morning after their twenty year high school reunion to discover they’ve switched bodies. Casey is single with no children before becoming an instant mom to Rachel’s two teenagers and baby. Despite her lack of experience as a parent, and her often comedic missteps with the baby in particular (think: diaper blow outs and sudden sleep deprivation) Casey’s fresh perspective on her new role helps her connect with each of the children in a very different way than Rachel. And when the oldest, Audrey, is almost date raped at her prom, it is Casey’s strength that she draws from an experience in her own past that ultimately pulls Audrey through. Although it is hard for Rachel to watch her best friend take care of Audrey when she so desperately wants to, she realizes that Casey can help her daughter in a way she can’t. And Casey discovers she might have what it takes to be a mom to her own children someday.

10) The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (Bantam, 2013)
Elizabeth Bohlinger, the mother in THE LIFE LIST, is actually deceased. But she still has a big presence in her daughter's life—some may say too big! With heartfelt letters, Elizabeth guides her daughter, Brett, on a journey to complete the life list of wishes Brett made when she was just a teen. Like many mothers, Elizabeth has an uncanny ability to see into her daughter's heart, exposing buried desires Brett has long forgotten.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrea Lochen is a University of Michigan MFA graduate. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Berkley, 2013), won a Hopwood Award for the Novel prior to its publication. She has served as fiction editor of The Madison Review and taught writing at the University of Michigan. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, where she was recently awarded UW Colleges Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her second novel, Imaginary Things (Astor + Blue Editions, 2015) is recently released and has garnered wonderful praise. With features on Barnes &, Huffington Post, and Brit + Co., her work is being introduced to thousands of new readers.  Andrea currently lives in Madison with her husband and daughter and is at work on her third novel. For more information visit