Friday, January 29, 2016

Award Winning Books

All winners of the 2016 Feathered Quill Book Awards have been notified (by email).  We're now working on spreading the word about all these fantastic books via social media, press releases, our Pinterest board as well as our Amazon linked book store.  For those books that are available through Amazon, they've just been added to our Award Winning Books Book Store.  Check them out!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review - Karma's a Killer

Karma's a Killer (A Downward Dog Mystery)

By: Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 2016
ISBN: 978-0738742106
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 27, 2016

The trouble starts early in the third book in the 'Downward Dog' mystery series when Kate Davidson, a Seattle yoga teacher, tries to do something nice. Kate has agreed to teach a ‘Doga’ class (dog yoga!) at a fundraiser for a local animal shelter. While her intentions are good, the results are disastrous – besides mayhem during the class, the whole event ends in utter confusion when a dumpster catches fire, endangering a group of adorable goats, and a body is found floating in the nearby lake. It looks like Kate is about to be dragged into another murder case.

Karma’s a Killer opens with Kate surrounded by a tangle of dogs, all eager and in various forms of excitement or displeasure as they and their owners prepare for the fund-raising dog walk. Kate manages to get away from the mayhem and makes her way down to the dock along the lake. There she inadvertently stumbles upon two women arguing. Their argument about protesting the shelter confuses Kate as Dogma, the shelter, is a no-kill shelter and certainly not deserving of protests. What should Kate do? Go to her boyfriend Michael? The shelter owner? Or maybe the police? With little time to think, Kate decides to get ready for her class that will be starting soon. Hopefully she’ll see somebody who she can tell about the impending protest.

When a somewhat eccentric older woman, and large donor to the shelter, decides to bring her rabbit to the doga class, Kate nicely tries to convince the woman to leave. Meeting with a stern refusal from the woman, Kate’s inner senses tell her the class will not end well. Of course, she’s correct when the rabbit decides all the dogs are a bit menacing and makes a run for it, and the dogs decide the rabbit looks like lunch. While everybody is running around, somebody, perhaps one of the protesters, sets a nearby dumpster on fire (or was it an accident?). Chaos ensues and Kate can’t wait to get home to her own dog Bella. However, the next morning a body is found floating in the lake where the event was held, and it just happens to be one of the woman Kate saw arguing. Then, as if things couldn’t get worse, the other woman who was seen arguing is arrested, and then gets in touch with Kate to tell her that she’s Kate’s long estranged mother. Yikes!

Karma's a Killer sucked me into its pages quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery. Kate is a very likable character, albeit with some 'issues' that can get in the way, and the supporting cast was quite believable and helped move the story along. For animal lovers, there are numerous feathered or four-legged creatures to cheer for, my favorite being Blackie the crow as well as some interesting information about shelters and rescues. The dialogue was crisp and flowed nicely, and the mystery kept me guessing as suspects were eliminated one by one. My one disappointment was that once the murderer was revealed, that person was much too willing to tell his/her whole story. Other than that small issue, Karma's a Killer was a winner.

Quill says: A light-hearted mystery that will have you cheering for a yoga teaching, animal loving sleuth and her pack of odd-ball friends.

Book Review - The Cheese Lover's Cookbook

The Cheese Lover's Cookbook

By: Emily Chambers and Whitney Lindsley
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Publication Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1462115907
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2016

There’s oh so much more to cheese than simple cheese and crackers fare. Even the Golden Girls knew that when they needed some group comfort food, cheesecake it was. In the Cheese Lover’s Cookbook they could find Dulce de Leche and White Chocolate cheesecakes, definite crowd pleasers. Of course those gems can be found in the dessert section, but because cheese is such a versatile food this cookbook also has main dishes as well as appetizers, sides, and salads. I do tend to like what I might call middle of the road cheeses flavor-wise, but there are even ones that take into consideration those who adore spicy. Anyone for a jalapeño grilled cheese sandwich? Havarti jalapeño mac & cheese?

Even though I don’t do spices well, I do have some family members who love anything spicy. Vegans need not apply here, but rather they’ll head to books such as the Artisan Vegan Cheese. Needless to say, I do own that book and adore cheese. It provides that much needed dollop of protein with a mega-dollop of taste. This is a slim book packed with a nice variety of recipes that can be whipped up in as little as five minutes. There are no prep times given, so consider this one of those leisurely cookbooks. For example, I got that wedge salad up and running quite quickly.

The “Iceberg Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing” is an easy one to prep and delicious. I’d stay away from President feta cheese on this one and head right for the nice fresh blue cheese crumbles in the deli section of your favorite store. The dressing is simple, but delicious, calling for those crumbles, mayo, Greek yogurt, and milk. The full-page, full color photographs that accompany many of the recipes are scrumptious looking, adding a lot of appeal to the book. Not all of the recipes are as simple as the wedge, but run to the more involved Stromboli and “Baked Ribbon Blade.”

One good to know section in the front of the book included a sidebar on types of cheeses: Soft, Semisoft, and Semi-Hard / Hard as well as a list of Fruit or Spreads for a fruit and cheese plate. I have yet to put together a platter, but definitely appreciated the inclusion of this information. Each recipe has a colorful sidebar that includes the number of servings as well as the ingredients that will be needed. The directions are in the main text as well as an interesting vignette about the recipe. For example when I read about the “Dubliner Puff Pastry Bites” I learned that it is an “Irish cheese named after the city Dublin” and is a “hard yellow cheese that is somewhere between Swiss and Parmesan in flavor.”

There are several places to pick up cheeses, but this time around I went to Trader Joe’s for ingredients for several recipes. I recently acquired a pizza stone and took several suggestions from the “Easy Marherita” pizza. Substitutions can be made and instead of the recommended buffalo mozzarella, I picked up a package of Trader Joe’s shredded mozzarella. Delicious! Most of us don’t keep a wide variety of cheeses on hand so this cookbook, for the most part, has recipes that will need to be planned. The ones I tried I loved, but do have my eye on several like the “Seafood Mac & Cheese” and “Romano-Crusted Eggplant.” Yep, this is definitely a cookbook for the cheese lover like me!

Quill says: If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll definitely find a great variety of cheese recipes for everything from the simple appetizer to a side dish or a full meal!

Book Review - The Year of the Monkey

The Year of the Monkey: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac

By: Oliver Chin
Illustrated by: Kenji Ono
Publisher: Immedium; Bilingual edition
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1597021180
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 27, 2016

It’s the Year of the Monkey, and to celebrate, Max the monkey has some mischief up his sleeve. Will he and his best buddy, Kai, be able to overcome the odds and win the local Jianzi tournament?

The Monkey King had a well-earned reputation for being a prankster so it was no surprise that his son, Max, would continue his dad’s shenanigans. Like his dad, Max was quite energetic and mischievous. When he was old enough to go to school, his pent-up energy often got him into trouble. The principal’s office was a place he visited often. What could his parents do to help channel some of that energy?

One day Max’s teacher showed him and the other kids the gym, where all sorts of activities were taking place. Ping pong, badminton, name it, it was going on in that gym. When his teacher called him over to show him a few students playing ‘Jianzi’ (a traditional Chinese game, where players hit a shuttlecock over a net without use of their hands), Max was at first unimpressed. That was, until he tried it and fell in love with the challenging game.

Max soon decided that he wanted to be “...the best jianzi player,” but in order to do that, he’d have to team up with his friend Kai and then they’d have to beat Dragon and Tiger, THE best players, at the local tournament. Could they do it?

The Year of the Monkey is a neat story in the “Tales from the Chinese Zodiac” series that celebrates the 2016 Chinese Zodiac animal. Max has all the traits the Chinese zodiac ascribes to those born in the year of the monkey – “carefree, curious, and crafty...playful, nimble, and persistent.” Through Max, young readers will see how persistence can pay off when they see Max not give up. Even when others doubted Max could beat the reigning champions that didn’t keep him from trying. Not one to give up, his hard work was rewarded with a great prize – achieving his goal. There's plenty of action in this story to keep kids glued to the pages, plus it's the first time in the 'Chinese Zodiac' series that includes a Chinese translation along with the English text. Add in the bright, cheerful, and very playful artwork, and you have a book that young readers will love.

Quill says: A fun story about practice, practice, practice, and how it can help you achieve your goals.

Book Review - Eat, Drink, and Be Green

Eat, Drink, and Be Green: Easy and Delicious Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle

By: Michele Nielson
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media
Publication Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1462116140
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 27, 2016

Years ago when someone said they were a vegan or vegetarian, people considered it to be a rather quirky food identity. Not so today and in fact many people are adopting a more “green” approach to eating. People from Dr. Sanjay Gupta to Bill Clinton have adopted a green or plant-based diet. Clinton learned the hard way that his jogs to McDonald’s were detrimental to his health. Those who have gone green, in whole or part, are always looking for cookbooks with recipes to go with their lifestyles. Eat, Drink, and be Green is exactly what I was looking for.

There are plenty of cookbooks, old, new, and vintage that I can find a smattering of recipes in, but I seldom find one with so many awesome recipes. Mind you, some of the recipes I’ve tried are simply tasteless. Not so with Michele Nielson’s fare. This is the type of book that were it sitting in Trader Joe’s would fly off the shelves. In fact, when I decided to try out a few of the recipes, that’s exactly where I went. The shelves were filled with those specialty items I needed from rice vinegar to sliced almonds, all at reasonable prices of course.

Nielson herself may have had Trader Joe’s in mind when she experimented with the Asian Crunch Salad recipe, a favorite of mine. The recipe calls for broccoli slaw, one of their specialties, which is always on shelves when I head there. I found that this is a recipe that can easily be experimented with. For example, this recipe calls for soy sauce, but I chose to use Trader Joe’s Soyaki, which can also be used in other recipes. The Asian Crunch Salad was unexpectedly good by the way and if one has someone who isn’t going green in the house, slices of roasted chicken can be placed on the top. Always a big hit if there’s an easy way to make a recipe a crossover one. I found that several of them could be adapted.

Eat, Drink, and be Green has great visual appeal. Each recipe is accompanied by a totally scrumptious looking full color photograph of the finished product. Mind you, I took a pass on the Orange Creamie Greenie smoothie, but I’m sure one other family member just might love it. Each recipe begins with a short and sweet, but very appealing blurb from the author about not only how she feels about the recipe, but also good times to serve it up or who to serve it to. We then can check out a sidebar with the ingredients for a single, double, or quadruple batch with the servings listed below.

The introduction is a wonderful way for the newbie to the green lifestyle to know what to look for and to look forward to. There’s even a short blurb about how to work with your diet away from home: “At Subway, ask for triple spinach and leave off the cheese.” Good advice for the vegan, but from experience, not all Subways are amenable to leaving the cheese on the side for a friend. Ask first! There’s a great “Equipment List” and if you’re purchasing Eat, Drink, and be Green as a gift, perhaps including some of these kitchen tools would be quite welcome. In the back of the book is an list of FAQs and a very comprehensive index as well as a recommended reading list.
This is definitely one cookbook that I’ve made good use of, from the recipes to the advice. There are six main sections filled with delightful recipes: Green Smoothies, Salads, Main Dishes and Cooked Vegetables, Weekend Breakfasts and Healthy Breads, Appetizers, Dips and Dressings, and Drinks and Sweet Treats. The variety of recipes is amazing and needless to say, the ones I tried were delicious. Now, there are plenty of gluten-free recipes as well as those that will suit the vegan. I found they were easily adapted to the person who isn’t on a special diet by adding meat or poultry to the dish. Quite a nice cookbook that’s definitely a winner in the green corner!

Quill says: If you are going green, Eat, Drink, and be Green is a fabulous cookbook for anyone on a plant-based diet!

Book Review - Crave, Eat, Heal

Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-Based Whole Food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite

By: Annie Oliverio
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2015
ISBN: 978-1462115556
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2016

If you think plant-based diets are boring, think again. Many people have someone in the family that’s either a vegetarian or vegan in the family and have no idea what to serve up when they visit. Simply throwing a salad their way isn’t a particularly good solution, but adding a side dish can be. If opting for a plant-based lifestyle, instead of scouring the Internet trying to amass one’s own recipes, cookbooks like Crave, Eat, Heal can be not only helpful, but fun. One of the first things I spotted was a recipe that incorporated goji berries. What to do with them?

Well, I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand and tried out “Sarah’s Almond & Goji Berry Chocolate Bark.” In the past I tried out one peppermint bark recipe from a Moosewood cookbook and was delighted with the result. This one is slightly different in that it incorporates some of the more unusual ingredients such as the goji berries and cacao nibs. These are great ingredients and aside from using them sporadically, I now have a recipe that’s sure to please even those who aren’t on plant-based diets. It’s one of many great recipes in this book that will get people moving toward a healthful lifestyle and satisfy the palate...and that sweet tooth.

We all have cravings and Annie Oliverio is no different. She begins by describing cravings that most of us have experienced in our lives. Those M & M’s called out to her and so did that buttery popcorn. She had cravings that were “salty, sweet, tart, spicy” that made her gravitate toward unhealthy foods. Working through Crave, Eat, Heal, I can easily see how Oliverio targets the “craving” part. The almond & gogi berry bark is under the chocolate section, but other sections address other needs and cravings that crop up. If you are craving those carbs (who isn’t) there are even recipes for French toast and pizza. I tried both, but did adapt them to my own tastes and needs.

What Oliverio makes clear from the start is that this isn’t a “diet” book nor is she a dietician, although I must say any dietician could learn from this book. It’s a book that “simply offers whole food, plant-based recipes designed to healthfully satisfy whatever kind of craving sneaks up on you, no matter what time of day it is.” There are a few hints in the front that can be very helpful. For example, how to cook sans baking oil. There are introductory sections on ingredients used in this book, supplements, and one on those all-important friends who helped with some of the recipes.

Each recipe is prefaced by a personal vignette, something I do like in any cookbook! The vignette is followed by an ingredient list and the all important directions. There are some suggestions and icons indicating special notes about the recipe (i.e. gluten-free, oil-free, and preparation difficulty) as well as prep and cook times. There are some excellent photographs that give this book a definite yum factor, but it’s not overwhelmed with them. There are still several recipes I want to try, but those I did I thoroughly enjoyed. I have yet to experiment with things such as tempeh bacon, but I’m into it! A very nice book with a wide variety of recipes to satisfy anyone who’s now on a plant-based diet or wants to experiment with one.

Quill says: Crave, Eat, Heal is a great, well-rounded cookbook for the vegan or anyone wanting to experiment with plant-based recipes!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

And The Winners Are...

Stay tuned - winners in our annual awards program will be announced shortly! Winners will be receiving emails tonight and then once they've all been notified, we'll start posting winners to our various sites.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review - Time Tracer @Timetravelgal

Time Tracer

By: A.I. Goldfarb
Publisher: World Castle Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 9781629894072
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 2016

Computer gaming and real life adventure collide in A.I. Goldfarb’s current Science Fiction/Young Adult adventure: Time Tracer.

Leo Dawson is the 15-year old poster child when it comes to the world of gaming. If it were up to him, school, chores and the mundane task of interacting with humans would not be on his list of ‘top ten things’ to do. Rather, he would much prefer to spend countless hours in each of his today’s in front of his computer screen interacting with the likes of his adversary Caspertin. Much to his chagrin, reality taps Leo on the shoulder and reminds him it’s time to get a move-on. He is headed to Atwood, Michigan with his dad to check on his grandparent’s home.

On the drive to Atwood, Leo is lost in his memories of near victory on his computer game. He plays multiple scenarios in his head of what it will take to conquer the villains and be the number one gamer amongst his on-line adversaries. As they arrive at his grandparent’s home, reality comes crashing back and it is time to roll up their sleeves and hunker down to do the much-needed repairs of a home, in Leo’s opinion, that has stood well beyond its time to stand. As they settle into the work at hand, there is a sound at the door. When Leo’s dad, Kevin, opens the door, he is left speechless at what appears on its other side. His beloved dog Skipper disappeared thirty years earlier, yet here he is now. When Leo appears by his dad’s side, he is just as surprised and offers to assist in finding the dog’s rightful owner. Imagine his surprise when Kevin tells Leo he knows the is him. Of course, this is the mere tip of the iceberg in what comes to pass between father and son in the few short days to come...

Time travel is one of those topics that fits well within the realm of leprechauns and their respective pots of gold at the end of the rainbow or perhaps unicorns and the wonder of whether they truly do exist (or not). A.I. Goldfarb deserves big props for anchoring a story steeped in future world adventure and real-life possibilities across the pages of Time Tracer. Her intentional word placement commands the attention of her YA audience to consider fantastic possibilities and her conduit is a 15-year-old boy. She makes him the star and draws him away from his computer gaming adventures into a real-life experience with his dad. The plot is realistic in that it builds on the back story villain who is a serial killer who was never caught during his dad’s childhood only to resurface thirty years later in Leo’s present day world. Of course, the only way to get the evil that lurks from then to now is to enlist time traveling abilities. Goldfarb fluidly guides the reader from the past to the present to the future effortlessly in that the transitions are smooth from one period to the next. She establishes enough “show” in each scene as she subliminally guides the reader to the next period without obvious cliché or too much telling along the way. To assist in the memory of the story living beyond its proverbial ‘end,’ Goldfarb encourages the reader to revel in its outcome with a wonderful Study Guide at book’s end. What a clever enhancement to further cement the joy of reading in a young person’s world.

Quill says: Time Tracer is a great Sci-Fi/YA read that promises to draw the most committed gamer away from the joy stick and into the pages of a most enjoyable adventure.

For more information on Time Tracer, please visit the publisher's site at:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book Giveaway - Great Children's Book YOU Could Win!

Have you entered this month's Feathered Quill Book Giveaway yet???  This month we're offering a copy of a very cute children's book (you can even read the review on our site) - Storm Buddies by Melissa Pope. AND, this adorable book comes with FREE 'Storm Buddy' plush animals. Learn more and enter on our site. Just click the link to be taken to the entry form.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review - The Lie and the Lady

The Lie and the Lady (Winner Takes All series)

By: Kate Noble
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1476749396
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 19, 2016

Leticia “Letty” Price wanted it all. Being the daughter of a miller wasn’t going to get her anywhere fast. She did manage to become Lady Churnzy until an unfortunate accident made her a widow. The Earl of Ashby had won her heart and her body literally throbbed with desire for the man. It was everything Letty had ever dreamed of...everything, but she hadn’t counted on one thing. That thing was John Turner. Turner was nothing more than one big lie, a man who’d won a bet. The wager was a foolish one, but he’d played the part of the Earl so well the Countess had believed him. The title, the money, the life of luxury was dashed in a moment’s time in her boudoir. The Lie had begun and undoubtedly Letty would have trouble living this one down. Through no fault of her own, she would be disgraced should anyone find out. There was nothing to do, but take flight, far away from anyone who knew.

Paris. It would be a wonderful place to start her life anew, but selling her remaining bits of jewelry would have to sustain her. No one would ever learn about the Lie, least ways Sir Bartholomew Babcock wouldn’t. There was no falling in love, yet she lusted after the life he had to offer her. Sir Barty was so much older than Letty was, but was it of any concern to her? No. She would marry once again and would even have a stepdaughter, Margaret to dote on. Letty admitted to Barty that “the man in question was playing me false.” All her cards were on the table with the admission of her past sins. Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it? It could and it would.

Letty had “fallen into disfavor with the women of Helmsley in less than a sentence.” Her relationship with Sir Barty’s daughter, Margaret, fared little better. There were secrets and lies in Helmsley, but the Lie was a well-known fact to some there, including the miller. Helen Braithwaite Turner was a good friend to her fiancé as well as mother to none other than John, the man whose passionate touch set her very being on fire. The banns were being read in St. Stephens, a place her past could come back to haunt her. John Turner was a man who ignited her soul, but there was yet another who could burn it. Palmer Blackwell knew everything. The secrets, the Lie, and the lies...

This is the type of romance that can keep anyone captivated from the first page to the last. I haven’t read a romance in years, but would definitely pick up one by Kate Noble again. There’s a lot more than meets the eye in The Lie and the Lady, a romance that actually kept me wondering what would happen to Letty next. The coincidences were plentiful, but ones that were totally unexpected. Letty, of course, was a gold digger that could rival Sister Carrie. It was onward and upward, but with each turn of the page there seemed to be yet another obstacle in her way. The characters were quite well-developed and I became interested in the subplot with Margaret and the swirl of attention surrounding her. There wasn’t enough steam in the book to power up John Turner’s grain mill, but plenty of intrigue and mystery to make this tale a winner.

Quill says: If you want a romance with substance, subterfuge, and oh-so-sexy undertones, Kate Noble has penned a romance with all of those qualities plus some!

And the Winner Is...

It's been a busy month as judges have been reading a TON of books for our annual award program. Score sheets are starting to arrive here at 'home quarters.' I have to say there are some amazing books nominated this year, several even received perfect scores of 100!

There are quite a few, too, that came very close but lost points because of typos and/or grammatical errors. It's so sad when a book is an amazing read plot-wise and yet is not professionally edited. It keeps the book from winning an award, and more importantly, will keep readers away. If you're an author, please, please, please have your book professionally edited.

Book Review - The Not-So-Right Day

The Not-So-Right Day (Basic Concepts)

By: Wiley Blevins
Illuystrated by: Elliott Kreloff
Publisher: Rocking Chair Kids
Publication Date: January 2016
ISBN: 978-1634400831
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Reveiw Date: January 2016

Milo’s little brother Iggy was a different kind of guy, a kind of different that bothered Milo. Everything had to be just so because “Milo liked things in order.” Everything on his shelves were arranged very neatly and when he colored, his crayons were right next to him on his desk. Oh, and Milo colored in the lines. Not so for Iggy. Such a mess you never did see! His shelves were a mess and when he colored his crayons were all over the floor. Oh, and Iggy scribbled. Milo did like things in order, but Iggy just didn’t seem to care.

When Milo washed his hair he did it carefully in the tub. After he was done “he dried his hair and combed it just so.” No, there wasn’t a hair out of place. When Iggy took his bath and washed his hair he just squirted on the shampoo after he brushed his hair. Such a mess you never did see! Milo looked over at Iggy and thought to himself, “That’s not right.” Things never seemed to be right with little brother Iggy. He put his socks over his boots, when he made a sandwich it was a sticky gooey mess, and when he got ready for bed he didn’t use water with that soap. Such a mess you never did see! There was something right about Iggy, but what could it be?

Of course there’s really nothing wrong about Iggy, but big brother Milo just doesn’t seem to see it that way. All children are different and need to learn to realize that not everyone is like them. This is an excellent book in which young children can learn to appreciate those differences in others, including siblings. Individual differences is a key concept that young children need to be aware of and garner respect for others. The artwork is bright, cheerful and will definitely keep little ones turning those pages!

Quill says: This is a charming story about Iggy, a different kind of brother that young children will love.

Book Review - Mr. Goat's Valentine

Mr. Goat's Valentine

By: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: Kevin Zimmer
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: January 2016
ISBN: 978-1585369447
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 17, 2016

Mr. Goat leaned back in his armchair to read his newspaper, the “Goat Times.” Alas, it was Valentine’s Day, time to purchase a gift for a loved one. “I’m off to show my first love,” he explained to his cat, “how much she means to me. Of course Beatrice the cat simply opened one eye and yawned, “Meow.” Off to the market he went, stopping first at Miss Nanny Goat’s “weed stall.” Certainly there must be something special for a first love there. Mr. Goat ordered a lovely bouquet of “crabgrass, pigweeds, and ragweed.” Miss Nanny Goat even threw in a rusty old tin can.

Next up he stopped at Mr. Pygmy-Little Goat’s stall. Certainly there must be something special for a first love there. Rotten eggs it was and he explained that they had “rotted for two years” and were “guaranteed foul and disgusting.” It was just the thing Mr. Goat needed and he took four of them. Into a lovely heart-shaped box (tied with a bow no less!) and off he went to the next stall. Well, perhaps the next stall came to him because it was Miss Skunk and “her perfume cart.” “Do you have a Valentine’s card for her?” she asked. No, but Mr. Goat would think up something extra special for his first love. Do you remember who your first love was?

The tale is quite lively and little ones will find the selection of gifts to be quite silly as Mr. Goat seems to love anything stinky. The full color artwork is quite appealing and fun as Mr. Goat shops for his first love. Of course his special Valentine was none other than his mother. A special verse is a marvelous hint and everyone will guess who will open the door as he sings it. In part Mr. Goat sings, “You have loved me from the start / I love you with all my heart!” This is definitely going to be a crowd-pleaser and would be a perfect tale to read during story or circle time!

Quill says: This is a fun, animated tale about Mr. Goat and his first love that young children will love.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Interview with Author David Litwack

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Deb Fowler is talking with David Litwack, author of The Stuff of Stars

FQ: The major conflict in The Stuff of Stars centered around two opposing groups, the greenies and the technos. If you lived in this imperfect world, which group would you align yourself with and why?

LITWACK: That’s a choice I’d hate to make. Both groups are too locked into their principles, and can’t appreciate what’s good in the other side. If you forced me to choose, I’d probably pick the technos. As a math major and long term software guy, I’m too fascinated by the constant evolution of technology, and the creativity and genius that goes into it. That, and my knees couldn’t take stooping to pick berries.

FQ: As the second in a trilogy, The Stuff of Stars is also a great stand-alone novel. As part of a trilogy, however, do you have the entire three books worked out in your head before you start writing the first? Or do you have a general idea of where the story will go and then develop it as you write?

LITWACK: I’d love to say I had it all planned out in advance, but I’d be lying. I wrote The Children of Darkness as a standalone novel (originally titled There Comes a Prophet). It was only after readers started asking for more that I considered expanding it into a trilogy. Fortunately, Orah and Nathaniel are both strong willed and were kind enough to provide me ample material for the rest of the trilogy. Once I sketched out the latter two books, I did have to go back to rewrite (and re-publish) the first, to adjust the characters a bit, and put in place some additional plot elements.

FQ: Anabel, the ragged lady, would have been deemed mad in Little Pond, yet revered by the greenies. Was she patterned after someone you know? Someone in the pages of a book?

LITWACK: My wife’s family had a cousin named Anabel, who was homeless and always dressed in rags. Relatives tried to help her, but she insisted on sticking with that lifestyle. Though I never met her, hearing her story sparked the idea.

Most things in novels have some basis in experience, but fiction does not exactly mirror reality. Sometimes, while I’m struggling to work out a plot problem, a stray comment or the most trivial event will trigger an idea, and I use the author’s craft to find a way to fit it into the story.

Anabel, the ragged lady, is a revered and wise leader of the people of the earth. The real life reference is only a minor part of her character.

FQ: Dystopian literature has been around for centuries in one form or another. Do you have a favorite, perhaps one that influenced you to write about the worlds Orah and Nathaniel find themselves in?

LITWACK: My favorite kind of dystopian is where people with good intentions have created a world gone awry, and a brave character or characters struggle to fix it. The Giver is a good example—there’s hardly any violence and the people seem to live a content existence, but with an undercurrent that their humanity has been suppressed.

The closest inspiration for the Seekers trilogy might be The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke. While some may dispute that this is a true dystopian, to me this classic exemplifies a society that has gone off the rails in a misguided attempt to protect itself.

The City and the Stars is about a highly advanced world in the far distant future, a seemingly perfect society, but one where all progress has stopped. But ancient clues have been left revealing the truth about a much different past. A single malcontent follows those clues and discovers that his ancestors had long ago been even more advanced, but following a near cataclysm, had chosen to impose limits on themselves. It becomes the task of the main character to find the reason why, and then end the stagnation and let the growth of his people resume.

FQ: Maine. Undoubtedly those northern lights encourage many a young man or woman to write, but just when did the writing bug capture your soul?

LITWACK: The urge to write started with that daily newsletter at that one-week encampment in norther Maine, but its real roots were probably when I discovered a love of reading. Still, there’s nothing like seeing your first published work under your byline.

FQ: Science fiction is one of those genres that ignites a lifetime passion for many. Did you read until the wee hours of the night? Attend a convention or two? Or perhaps you kept your love of the genre a secret. Tell us a bit about what you love about the fantastic world of science fiction.

LITWACK: To tell the truth, I never attended conventions because few existed when I began reading scifi, but I did read until the wee hours. My favorite authors were Asimov, Heinlein and especially Arthur C. Clarke.

FQ: People need to be encouraged, oftentimes mentored as they begin to write. Who encouraged and supported you in your journey? Tell us about those special people who believe in you.

LITWACK: I had two special mentors. The first was Dr. McNamara, an eccentric high school English teach. He believed that only one thing mattered in teaching English: giving the students a lifelong love of reading. Without that love of reading, there’s no way I’d ever want to write.

The second was John Mathews, a playwriting professor in college. He was the first to convince me that writing was a craft to be learned over a lifetime, but never to be fully mastered. He preached that drama is conflict with something at stake; the higher the stakes, the greater the drama. Whenever my plot feels like it’s bogging down, I hear his booming voice in my mind: Raise the stakes!

As far as encouragement, no one has been more important than my wife. I was writing when we first met, and through all those years when I’d given it up, she always believed I’d go back to it.

FQ: Tell us a bit more about Zachariah, the silent boy with the big voice. I was fascinated by him and hope to see him in the next book.

LITWACK: Zachariah, who appears in the opening scene of The Stuff of Stars, was at first nothing more than a means to introduce Orah to the strange new world on the far side of the sea. But I too became fascinated by him and included him more and more in the plot, in the end giving him a key role. Just as Zachariah had no intention of leaving Orah’s side, I have no intention of leaving him out of the third and final book.

To learn more about The Stuff of Stars, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review - All Things Bright and Beautiful

All Things Bright and Beautiful

By: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrated by: Katy Hudson
Publisher: Ideals Childrens Books
Publication Date: February 2016
ISBN: 978-0824956769
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 16, 2016

A famous poem that has been featured in books, television and movies is re-imagined and brought to life in this delightful new book illustrated by Katy Hudson.

In this new version, three young children take a walk through the woods and fields and delight in all that God has given us. The children meet an owl, see some deer and enjoy the songs of several birds. They spot numerous other animals while also enjoying the simple treasures of the land such as blowing the seeds off of a dandelion, picking blueberries and dipping their toes in the water of a cool mountain stream. In short, the children revel in all that God has created on and around the unspoiled land they are exploring.

Towards the end of the book, we see the children’s parents setting up a tent for a campout. Next, the stars come out in full force in a nighttime mountain scene that includes a full moon, and several animals as they scurry about.

Illustrator Katy Hudson is to be commended for creating the absolutely beautiful watercolors that accompany the Cecil Frances Alexander poem, All Things Bright and Beautiful in this book. The images are bright, cheerful and yet striking in their beauty. The three children, who appear in almost every picture, are playful and happy and young readers are sure to identify with them. I found myself reading the book with a smile on my face, enjoying the scenery that the artist so perfectly captured.
Hymn-writer and poet Cecil Frances Alexander wrote countless poems, many of which were featured in her book Hymns for Little Children. One of those, All Things Bright and Beautiful, is probably the best known by today’s youth. It precisely captures the greatness of God’s gifts to us in this amazing world he created. Combined with illustrator Katy Hudson’s fabulous drawings, this newest version of the poem is a winner. Add it to your collection!

Quill says: A lovely book, with an equally lovely message, this book will easily convey the message of God’s gifts to your little ones.

Book Review - The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessing Board Book @TheBerenstains

The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings Board Book

By: Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Ideals Childrens Books
Publication Date: January 2016
ISBN: 978-0824919672
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 16, 2016

It’s Easter! The Bear family cubs sure are excited! All that food…and the candy! But Easter isn’t really about candy, is it? The Berenstain Bear cubs are about to find out exactly what Easter is all about.

As the story opens, the Bears are about to enjoy a scrumptious Easter breakfast. Before anybody can dig in, however, Mama reminds her cubs that “Papa will say grace.” The family holds hands while Papa says a brief prayer, and then they all enjoy the meal.

Next the Bears dress in their Sunday finest and off to church they go. The parents are carrying baskets of Easter ‘goodies,’ which thrills the children. As their excitement grows, they are reminded that the candy is for after church. First, they should count their Easter blessings. The cubs don’t realize just how lucky and blessed they are, so their parents and grandparents point out the many blessings they enjoy, such as the beautiful spring day and the love of family and friends. They truly are blessed.

In this new offering in the Berenstain Bear series, young readers are shown that while Easter candy is nice (no mention of the Easter Bunny), that’s not what the holiday is really about. Celebrating our many blessings is a far more important aspect of Easter. While there is a page in the book devoted to the risen Christ, “We give thanks for Easter blessings and for the greatest blessing of all – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is risen!” the focus/main message of this simple story is to count your many blessings – an easy and important message for little cubs.

Quill says: A sweet book that will help very young readers understand the many blessings surrounding the celebration of Easter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Books In For Review

Check out the books that have just arrived for review!

Time Tracer: Science Fiction Time Travel Thriller by A.I. Goldfarb It’s one thing to vanquish killers on a computer screen, and another when the screen disappears and you’re the one about to be killed. Until today, the only dangers fifteen-year-old Leo Dawson faced were on a video game. When he and his dad decide to check on the family farmhouse in northern Michigan, they make a startling discovery. His father’s dog, who disappeared thirty years ago, has returned. The shock brings back memories of an awful summer decades ago when a serial killer terrorized the small city where Leo’s father grew up. Leo is abducted by the killer and thrust ahead three decades. As he struggles to escape from his eminent fate, he joins forces with Bria, a teenage gamer girl, who, like him, would rather be strategizing fantasy Warcraft games on a hand-held device than playing them for real in order to outwit a shrewd, cold murderer. This time there is no keyboard, no APP, and no HELP button. Leo’s only hope for survival rests with the skills and strategies he has learned from years of gaming. Will it be enough?

Karma's a Killer (A Downward Dog Mystery) by Tracy Weber When Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson agrees to teach doga (yoga for dogs) at a fundraiser for a local animal shelter, she believes the only damage will be to her reputation. But a few downward-facing dogs are the least of Kate’s problems when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning. The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism and organizational politics. As they investigate the dangerous obsessions that drive these groups, Kate and her sleuthing team discover that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like hOMe.

The Year of the Monkey: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, the eleventh adventure in the popular annual series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac. Max is the son of the legendary Monkey King. Succeeding at school is not easy, but luckily playing in the gym is! Can Max forge his own claim to fame? Empowering themes of self-discovery and cultural exchange, plus charismatic characters, have proven appeal with children, parents, and elementary educators.

Calico Spy: Undercover Ladies by Margaret Brownley Pinkerton operative Katie Madison s newest case takes her to Calico, Kansas, where two Harvey House restaurant waitresses were murdered in mysterious circumstances. Calico s sheriff, Branch Whitman, has never met a Pink he liked and is stunned to learn the pretty redhead s true identity as she works undercover as a Harvey girl. A tornado hits town, and a past deception puts Branch s eight-year-old-son in danger. Now the Sheriff has no choice but to work with Katie or chance losing everything he holds dear.

The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer As the Titanic and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg late in the evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on. Second Officer Herbert Stone, in charge of the midnight watch on the SS Californian sitting idly a few miles north, saw the distress rockets that the Titanic fired. He alerted the captain, Stanley Lord, who was sleeping in the chartroom below, but Lord did not come to the bridge. Eight rockets were fired during the dark hours of the midnight watch, and eight rockets were ignored. The next morning, the Titanic was at the bottom of the sea and more than 1,500 people were dead. When they learned of the extent of the tragedy, Lord and Stone did everything they could to hide their role in the disaster, but pursued by newspapermen, lawyers, and political leaders in America and England, their terrible secret was eventually revealed. The Midnight Watch is a fictional telling of what may have occurred that night on the SS Californian, and the resulting desperation of Officer Stone and Captain Lord in the aftermath of their inaction.

Her Forever Hero by Melody Anne The jury is out on whether this match is made in heaven—but with sexy Camden Whitman as lead counsel, they’ll surely find in this sizzling couple’s favor! You’ll want to see the ultra-sexy new Unexpected Heroes romance, based on New York Times bestselling author Melody Anne’s unmatched Billionaire Bachelors series, in chambers. Growing up in a big adoptive family, gorgeous small-town attorney Cam has always had a life rich with love. But the one thing he’s missing is the perfect woman to grow old and raise a family with—and send sparks flying on those cold Montana nights! Still, Cam knows if it wasn’t for his caring parents and brothers, he wouldn’t be where he is today, so he tries to pay it forward whenever he can. And if the client happens to be a modern-day damsel in distress, he’ll happily don a suit of shining armor. This time, his sister-in-law’s best friend Grace is in serious trouble, and Cam’s determined to get his smart, beautiful client off the hook. But as attorney-client privilege brings Cam and Grace closer than they ever imagined, the sexual tension heats up. It’s clear before the gavel comes down that the verdict is going to be red hot!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Book Reviews: Finding Fontainebleau

Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France

By: Thad Carhart
Publisher: Viking
Pubication Date: May 2016
ISBN: 978-0525428800
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 9, 2016

The harrowing transatlantic flight was memorable, but perhaps the realization that Thad had once walked among kings would not come to him for years. The family had flown to France during the fifties where his father would work at the Nato command headquarter. The Château de Fontainebleau would house his office, one that decades later Patrick Ponsot would show that boy turned man where his father once worked. The kings of France had many residences, but Fontainebleau would be their real home, a place where a young American boy would call home as well.

Château de Fontainebleau was “a supreme repository of French style, taste, art, and architecture” built in 1137. A four-year-old boy knew nothing of this, but only knew when he started school that his new name would be “Ted Cararr.” The pronunciation was beyond his teachers, his fellow students, but no matter, Ted would learn. His brothers Tom and Judd would have a more difficult time, but Ted Cararr was eager to learn. Yes, it was only when he became a man that he’d learn just how special “Phone-Ten-Blow” really was.

The family lived in the maison de maitre, the “master’s house,” where it was assumed that anyone could just stop in for a visit. It was a bit of a culture clash, but the family would survive when their mother put a halt to unwanted company. There were very unusual things such as the times Madame Duval had to undertake the “reading of the inventory.” Judd declared her to be a bit bonkers (“She’s crazy!), but customs were customs, odd as they were. Could one consider a stove an heirloom? Yes, in France they were.

“But how can we know the past,” Ponsot posed to Thad, “if we don’t save some of it?” Thad had saved those boyhood memories, but Ponsot was heading up the restoration of the Château de Fontainebleau for France, for the world. That American boy in France had grown up and brought his own family there to capture yet another generation of memories. But then there were those kings, the land, and even Marie Antoinette. Château de Fontainebleau was a magical place for a boy, a magical one for the royalty, a place “imbued with the history of France.”

I was expecting a simple memoir of a boyhood in France, but was quite surprised to find so much French history. If you don’t care for history (I do and loved it) simply take a pass. When reading this history, it very much reminded me of travel writers and how they could bring a place alive. Carhart could certainly join their ranks as he brought the Château de Fontainebleau and France alive. There were certain vignettes, such as a brief trip to Normandy that did so as well. He even off-handedly described the smells of Paris from the flowering blossoms to the grunge of the coal-fired furnace. If you love French history, you’ll certainly love the trip down memory lane, hundred of years of it.

Quill says: If you love French history, you'll love traveling with a young American boy through the decades of history of the Château de Fontainebleau!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Review - Stones in the Road

Stones in the Road

By: E.B. Moore
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-0451469991
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Review Date: January 7, 2016

Moore's latest takes readers into the worlds of a mother's unrelenting desire for her lost son and a young boy's incredible adventure into unfamiliar territory and spiritual awakening.

An unexpected fire gives Joshua the opportunity to run away from his overbearing father. But the year is 1867 and Joshua, eleven years old at the time, is now outside his Amish Pennsylvanian sphere and has nowhere else to turn except to the supposed ungodly community—better known as the English. Ten years later, Joshua returns to his family, unaware of what the future holds. Espying a grave marker that bears a reminder of his lost youth, Joshua thinks back to the journey that changed his life forever. Never forgetting his schoolteacher's geography lesson about a land that is always sunny and warm, Joshua sets his sites for Monte Ray, California. But fulfilling his goal is not as easy as it seems. Indeed, Joshua's travels are precarious at best.

Joshua's faith and upbringing is challenged when he finds himself surrounded by a host of colorful people-a mix of the good, bad, and the downright ugly-amid a flurry of uncomfortable situations. Yet while Joshua's life is evolving, so too is his mother's life. Miriam resolves not to let go of hope that Joshua may be alive. Aside of her determination, Miriam is on her own spiritual journey, and as a result her perspectives and attitudes about non-Amish people begin to change. Better defined as self-awareness, Miriam recognizes that the wickedness associated with those outside of the Flock does not hold true, especially when she befriends a kind English woman. It happens again when she breaks the norm by lovingly but firmly standing up to her flawed husband.

Mistress storyteller, Moore connects readers with common personal and familial themes in her latest read. Divided into three sections, Moore opens with Joshua's return before probing deeply into backstories. Written in split third person narratives, Moore alternates between Joshua's and Miriam's experiences and spiritual journeys. Aside of Joshua and Miriam, Moore has sculpted a well-defined cast, perfectly foiled to force her principle characters to see themselves for who they really are.
While introspection is one aspect that readers can quickly relate to, Moore also zeroes in on other modern-day themes, such as the tension that normally arises within married life and parent-child relationships, as well as the nagging hope that healing and forgiveness will follow. Combining all the above-mentioned literary tools, Moore seamlessly moves from chapter to chapter, weaving into the split narratives rich and oft time lilting poetic descriptions of character's moods, scenarios, and various landscapes that together slowly coalesce in one unforgettable ending.

Quill says: A poignant and compelling story from beginning to end, Stones in the Road is guaranteed to become a bestseller!

Book Review - The Hundred Gifts

The Hundred Gifts

By: Jennifer Scott
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-0-451-47324-0
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 7, 2016

Jennifer Scott delivers a heartfelt tale of new beginnings in her current novel, The Hundred Gifts.

Bren Epperson is at the headwaters of the next stage in her life. She stands in the doorway of that monumental moment in a parent’s life when her little chickadees have flown the nest. Gone are the days of carpooling her kids, Kevin and Emily, from one school activity to the other. No longer does she have to clear the path from the clutter tornado in their respective wakes. The reality is, Bren is at a loss as to exactly what it is she is supposed to do with her life now that her role of doting mother has been replaced with the remnants of her once-full nest. Her husband, Gary, on the other hand, has no problem with moving on. He embraces the time to delve into his latest mid-life attraction and with the willingness of some of his buddies, forms a band. According to him, with the right amount of practice, they could be the next best thing to the ‘Fab Four.’

It's a new day and Bren approaches it just like any other day. She’ll head into town and hit her favorite eatery, The Hole Shebang. Their specialty is taking the humdrum, every day, ‘jelly doughnut’ and morphing it into the most absurd experience one’s pallet could ever imagine. Concoctions such as crispy bacon brittle and buttered cracker crunch were a select few of the many bizarre combinations to challenge one’s taste buds. Bren didn’t care. The kids were gone. Her husband was there, but absent just the same. Why not have two doughnuts today...

As Bren is leaving The Hole Shebang, she passes the storefront that has been vacant for as long as Bren can remember. Imagine her surprise when she notices the sign advertising: ‘...Love to cook? Love sharing your recipes with friends and family? The Kitchen Classroom needs a teacher for a holiday cooking series...’ Bren does love to cook. She’s been a stay at home mom her entire life, but that title is retired now that she has nobody to ‘mom’ anymore. Mayb...just maybe she could pull this off. After inquiring within and securing the job with little effort, Bren experiences a new pep in her step. Perhaps empty nesting wouldn’t be so difficult to endure after all. This is to say until she meets the likes of one Virginia Mash.

Jennifer Scott has a bevy of titles under her belt. While I must say The Hundred Gifts is the first title I’ve read, it is clear she knows how to navigate the pages and deliver an enjoyable read. Her subject matter is familiar and relatable in that I personally am not too far from my ‘empty nest.’ Scott taps into the wonder of life beyond the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges of child rearing. Once our little cherubs fly the coop, we find ourselves with an abundance of time on our hands, yet don’t know how to channel the overabundance of energy to fill the void. This is not to say Ms. Scott has penned a maudlin tale of woe with a lack of self-identity. Rather, she has planted the nuance of how fulfilling life can be in that next chapter. The Hundred Gifts is a foundation of feel good prose and reflection of learning how to reconnect with one’s self. It is a lighthearted resurrection that provides many moments of how to let go and reconnect with the inner person who is ready to resurface. I applaud Ms. Scott for writing a novel full of life’s little moments and the importance of making each event count along the way.

Quill says: This is a heartwarming story with a message of the importance of embracing life and knowing what to do with its gift.

Book Review - Médicis Daughter

Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois

By: Sophie Perinot
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-07209-2
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 7, 2016

Sophie Perinot focuses on the house of Valois and pens an intriguing and historical account of sixteenth-century France in her latest novel, Médicis Daughter.
The year is 1564 and Princess Margot is called to the court of France by her overbearing and burdensome mother, Madame la Serpente, also known as Queen Catherine de Medicis. She is a force to reckon with in a land rife with religious war. Margot’s role is to be the subject of marriage in her formidable mother’s plan. While her love and life belongs to the Duc de Guise, her hand in marriage will be brokered to Henri of Navarre. He is a Huguenot leader and they are at the headwaters of what will deposit their legacy into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

How is it so difficult for Queen Catherine to recognize the undeniable devotion and loyalty Princess Margot has for her? Perhaps the reality is Margot has spent her life vying for the attentions and approvals of a woman barren of emotions unless personal gain were the prize to acquire. Peace may be the goal in these tumultuous times, but it is all it will ever be; a desire for tranquility and the reality, a mirage in the middle of the Dessert Sahara. When Margot begins to connect the dots and realizes the evil that exists in the very souls of her brothers and Queen mother, perhaps it is not too late to achieve what it is she most desires in life. Of course, there will be much bloodshed and loss along the way and perhaps at the end of her journey, it all would have been for naught.

This was an interesting read for me. There is an endorsement of Médicis Daughter comparing it to the likes of Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones and I must confess before I turned to the first page, I was reluctant to want to read this tale given such testament. This is not to say I have an aversion to Game of Thrones. Rather, it is a series that seems to have usurped the general population at best while I have never seen one episode. However, I continued forward, opened the book to page one and from that point forward, was consumed with this story. Ms. Perinot has delivered a beautiful blend of history with an intriguing story line that escalates and consistently gains momentum with the turn of each page. The dialogue is credible to the period of time and her historical facts play out beautifully as the chapters grow in number. There is a terrific cadence throughout that translates to a desire for her audience to naturally engage. I have often associated the importance of the necessity of an author to not only know his or her intended audience, but to also know how to deliver to that same audience as well. Ms. Perinot accomplishes this ten-fold. While the aforementioned is essential in writing a ‘winning tale,’ it is also vitally important that the package complements the contents. Ms. Perinot gets an A+ on all fronts: the formatting is superb, the length spot on and the care, focus and attention to delivering all of the above in true class fashion is evident. Bravo Ms. Perinot. I look forward to the next of (hopefully) many reads to come.

Quill says: While Médicis Daughter is rich and appeals first and foremost to Renaissance historians, it is a title that offers hours of enjoyable reading for anyone who seeks a solid, darn good book to read!

Book Review - Nightmares Can be Murder

Nightmares Can be Murder: A Dream Club Mystery

By: Mary Kennedy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 978-0425268056
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 6, 2016

Taylor Blake, on temporary leave from her busy life in Chicago, was visiting her sister, Ali, in Savannah. The leisurely pace of the South was the perfect place to set up a vintage candy store and Ali had done just that. “Oldies But Goodies” just might be a job that could help her settle down for once. Allison was a dreamer in more ways than one and needed something solid in her life. Ali was into dreams ‘n dreaming and in fact had founded the Dream Club. Dream interpretation, dream-hoping, prophecy, with a dollop of prophecy was right up her alley. Taylor didn’t take much stock in anything New Age and was “inclined to think it’s a bunch of hooey.”

Ali wasn’t the only one into dreams and in fact her Dream Club was quite popular. Taylor may have had a “BS register” when it came to dreams, but even the well-respected Harper sisters, Minerva and Rose, were members. “It was all about murder,” Persia began explaining her recent dream at a meeting, “right here in Savannah.” Dorien, Lucinda, Sybil, and Samantha were all ears. If Persia’s dream was a prophetic one, Sam Stiles, a rookie detective would certainly want in on the case. What better way to pick up clues than in a collective like the Dream Club? Of course it was only a dream, or was it?

It wasn’t long before Taylor just might have to suspend her disbelief in the Dream Club. “I think he’s dead,” Gina spouted out after hammering on their door. It looked like Chico Hernandez, dance instructor not-so-extraordinaire, had danced his last and was deader than disco. Chico was quite the man about town and had tangoed with more than one of the Dream Club members. In fact, three of them had been to visit the infamous Latin lover at the studio that night, including Ali. Sam Stiles, who had a “dual role as an investigating detective and Dream Club member” was on the case. It looked like there would be plenty of secrets...and lies...surrounding Mr. Hernandez.

Even Councilman Thomas Walton, who was running for the Senate, seemed to have his fingers in the proverbial pie. Taylor’s interest peaked in the case when Noah Chandler, her ex, showed up in Savannah. A former FBI man, turned PI, was just what this case needed. Of course the Dream Club was certainly pulling out all the stops to find out who did in Chico. The fact that Ali was hiding the truth was one little “lie that was coming back to haunt her.” Did Taylor’s very own little sister slip some potassium cyanide into Chico’s drink? Were the Dream Club members as innocent as they looked?

I had so much fun reading the second in this series, Dream a Little Scream, I thought I’d backtrack and read the first one in the series. This is going to be a fun series, especially for the New Age crowd. The concept of having a Dream Club dream their way through a whodunit, is a fabulously interesting idea for a series. Taylor Blake, who doesn’t think much of the Dream Club initially, was a totally likeable female detective. I definitely like all of the characters, who are the focus of the book right along with the most unusual Dream Club. The scene is certainly set for the series, including a love interest for Taylor. The dream team, Taylor and Noah, are a steady duo that will hold together the New Age club.

Quill says: A lighthearted, fun series, that cozy fans will love.