Thursday, March 31, 2016

Books In For Review

Check out the latest books to arrive for review!

Black Inked Pearl: A Girl's Quest by Ruth Finnegan An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected. Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people's home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut. On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate's fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not in vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.

Shot Down: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth by Steve Snyder For the first time, the full and complete story of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth is shared in unbelievable detail. Author Steve Snyder’s story of his father, Lieutenant Howard Snyder, and the Susan Ruth crew, provides in-depth details about many aspects of World War II few understand or know about including the: • separation for young families as men went off to war; • training before heading to foreign soil; • military combat operations; • underground and resistance and what Lt. Snyder did when he joined it; • German atrocities toward captured crew and civilians; • behind-the-scenes stories of the Belgium civilians who risked all to save American flyers who were in the air one moment, spiraling down in flames the next; • creation and dedication of the monument to the Susan Ruth and its crew located in Macquenoise, Belgium in 1989 Shot Down was created from the vast number of letters and journals of Howard Snyder; diaries of men and women on the ground who rescued, sheltered and hid the crew; and interviews conducted by historians. Centered around the 306th Bomb Group in Thurleigh, England, it is informative, insightful and captivating. For most, 70 years is a long time ago. World War II fades in importance as each year goes by. Shot Down moves history out of the footnotes into reality, keeping the stories of real people alive as they experience being shot down. You are there, almost holding your breath as Lt. Snyder gets his crew out of his B-17 when bailing out over Nazi occupied Europe.

Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko Motions and Moments is the third book by Michael Pronko on the fluid feel and vibrant confusions of Tokyo life. These 42 new essays burrow into the unique intensities that suffuse the city and ponder what they mean to its millions of inhabitants. Based on Pronko's 18 years living, teaching and writing in Tokyo, these essays on how Tokyoites work, dress, commute, eat and sleep are steeped in insights into the city's odd structures, intricate pleasures and engaging undertow. Included are essays on living to size and loving the crowd, on Tokyo's dizzying uncertainties and daily satisfactions, and on the 2011 earthquake. As in his first two books, this collection captures the ceaseless flow and passing flashes of life in biggest city in the world with gentle humor and rich detail.

Firstborn Destinies: Lies (Volume 1) by M. L. Lacy Have you ever wondered if your life—your destiny, was preordained? If someone or something has played a part in the choices you make; in the direction your life takes? Everything Kelsey has always thought to be true is shattered, when, her grandmother reveals secrets about Kelsey’s past. Having thought her parents died in a house fire when she was just three years old, her grandmother confesses the hurtful truth that, though they’d loved her dearly, her parents had in fact moved away and left her in her grandparents’ care. All Kelsey has to help her make sense of this new revelation is a box of letters and cards, and precious few clues—one of which is the pendant she has worn since birth. Having promised to never take it off, she learns the necklace is a powerful amulet, meant to protect her from some unknown evil. Now Kelsey must find out why her parents left her, and why and from whom she is in such danger. It was written in his destiny that Justin, a magickal and the firstborn of his Royal House, wed the firstborn of another Royal House—Hannah. He is not and has never been in love with Hannah, and has been defying what was written, when he meets Kelsey, a tourist who has stopped in his hometown looking for answers. Will Justin be able to prove to his family his Writings are wrong, when what he feels for Kelsey is what he is supposed to feel for Hannah? Will Kelsey have time to find the answers she seeks, as the foretold danger gets closer? Will they be able to fulfill their destinies before it’s too late?

Under the Desert Sky by Sara Luck Phoebe Sloan isn’t afraid of hard work—she couldn’t have survived on the Arizona frontier if she were. But ever since her husband was killed in a ranch accident, she’s struggled to make ends meet and preserve her young son’s birthright. Her last gamble was to start raising ostriches—the plumes are prized by fashionable city ladies—and it could work, but someone’s determined to sabotage her efforts. Enter Christian de Wet, a South African importer who finds himself drawn to the fragile but determined Phoebe. He begins helping her around the ranch as a kindness, but the two quickly find that the heat rising between them has nothing to do with the Arizona desert! When the saboteur finds a way to endanger not just the ranch, but Phoebe’s family, will she have to forsake her happiness to save her son?

From Bags to Riches: A Jessie Stanton Novel by Sandra Bricker Jessie Hart has struggled to put her Adornments boutique on the map, but when a celebrity stylist with her own reality show makes the shop a hot spot, Jessie’s hard work is finally paying off. Just as her dreams are coming true, she gets the word: her beloved grandfather in Louisiana is diagnosed with cancer. Of course she feels the pull to see him, but that means returning to the very place she worked so hard to escape. To add further complication, “husband” Jack turns up again and he can’t help but notice the new-and-improved Jessie. As he fights through his residual legal battles, he makes every effort to win her back and marry her for real this time…before Danny gets the chance. In her quest to find the success, true love, and faith that has always eluded her will God really lead her right back home?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#BookReview - The Midnight Watch

The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian

By: David Dyer
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 2016
ISBN: 9781250080936
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 28, 2016

David Dyer blends fact with fiction and delivers a magnificent tale of what (perhaps) really happened in the aftermath of the sinking of the iconic Titanic in his debut novel, The Midnight Watch.

In the barren and frigid waters of the North Atlantic, the Titanic would experience her last day afloat during her virgin crossing from England to America. Something is amiss in the early morning hours of April 14, 1912. The Titanic has entered a field of unyielding icebergs and strikes them head on. The steamer, Californian, is nearby; watching the tragedy unfold. Midnight Watchman, Herbert Stone, witnesses the first of a total of eight distress rockets. It rips a stream of white fire across the dark and desolate night sky in its cry for help. Stone immediately recognizes the maritime distress call and retrieves the speaking tube to alert his sleeping Captain Lord. Imagine Stone’s quandary when the response he receives from his beloved Captain was to persist in further due diligence and not disturb him until he is certain the signal was one of distress. Another and yet another bright white rocket that pierces the night sky to no avail. Communication by Morse lamp and the new Marconi telegraph is non-existent. By the morning of April 15th, the Titanic has been lost to the sea forever; carrying along with her more than fifteen hundred passengers and crew.

John Steadman is a reporter for the Boston American. When word reaches Boston of the tragedy of the ship’s passing, all hands are on deck so to speak. There is a scoop to be gotten and it had better be by the Boston American first and foremost. Steadman was no stranger to compelling stories. He had an innate ability to read the souls of those who had perished. His writing ability gave them life long after death had consumed them. Somehow, the sinking of this majesty of a vessel would be different. Something wasn’t quite right in the timeline and how was it with the Californian being so close but yet so far, she was unable to scurry to the Titanic’s rescue? For the first time in his reporting career, Steadman would face-off the challenge of writing a piece that catered to those who survived versus those who no longer had the luxury of imparting their story.

David Dyer is a lyrical and masterful wordsmith in his telling of The Midnight Watch. He has patiently stepped a story that, to this day, intrigues historians and poses the age-old question of what really happened (beyond the obvious of striking a massive iceberg). There is a beautiful marriage between the fact and fiction across the pages of this story that consumes the reader from the onset. He carefully tends to each of his characters; breathing a splendid believability into their humanness. There is an engagement and connection displayed in each passage of prose Dyer lays out that lends its way to concise and direct dialogue. It is abundantly clear Mr. Dyer was passionate toward laying down facts with precise accuracy as much as he was committed to overlaying the facts with fantastic fictional enhancement. His nautical knowledge is superb in that he demonstrates time and again correct terminology and places it exactly where it is destined to be placed. I applaud this author for penning an exceptional read coupled with the fact it is his debut novel. In my opinion, the stakes have just gotten much higher for fellow authors in this genre. Mr. Dyer is a force to reckon and I anxiously anticipate his next body of work. Well done Mr. Dyer. I am a fan!

Quill says: The Midnight Watch is a compelling read and more than one hundred years beyond her tragedy, the question of ‘what happened beyond the iceberg strike’ continues to plague the curious.

#BookReview - Keep Me Posted

Keep Me Posted

By: Lisa Beazley
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: April 2016
ISBN: 9781101989869
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 30, 2016

Lisa Beazley’s debut novel, Keep Me Posted, is a whimsical story of how two sisters’ brilliant scheme to reconnect backfires and ultimately changes the course of their lives going forward.

Sisters Cassie and Sid Sunday ventured out into polar opposite lives. Cassie is a city dweller and loves the Manhattan life she and husband Leo and their twin boys have built together...for the most part. Manhattan was beyond perfect when it was just Leo and Cassie. Once they welcomed their twin boys Quinn and Joey, and they became increasingly mobile, their tiny NY walk-up wasn’t quite as romantic and convenient as it had once been.

Sid, on the other hand, had it all under control. She and husband Adrian had perfected the expatriate lifestyle. They lived continents away in Singapore with their sweet baby girl Lulu and Sid’s (pre-Adrian) teen son River. Okay, maybe Sid’s life wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. Granted she had a nanny and could want for nothing thanks to her ‘devoted’ husband Adrian—devoted, that is to say when he found time away from work to spend with family.

The holiday season is upon them and it’s time for another Christmas at Grandpa Joe and Grandma Margie’s. This year would be bittersweet as it would be the last year they would host the festivities at their house. They were getting too old and it was time somebody else step up and own the task. When Sid arrives with baby Lulu and son River, it’s no surprise Adrian isn’t with them. Indeed, ‘work’ intervened once again. No matter. It didn’t take long for Cassie and Sid to settle into the familiarity of what sisters do best: reconnect and continue forward as though time had not intervened. It is when the reality of the disconnect of the distance between them becomes more than an elephant in the room that Cassie and Sid hatch the scheme to continue the connection once the holidays have passed. Cassie is woefully tethered to her iPhone. However, Sid manages to extract a promise from her that, for the next year, they will stay connected in a more traditional manner. They are not permitted to use the impersonal conveniences of email or texting. Rather, they must volley handwritten letters back and forth across the ocean to each other. Off to a fantastic start once the first round of letters has been delivered, the sisters settle into the process with positive expectations toward the year of separation ahead. Great plan until Cassie comes up with the brilliant idea of saving all the letters on her blog. When she realizes after the fact she should have checked the privacy settings, damage control was the least of her worries after she hit ‘save.’

Lisa Beazley has a familiar story-teller’s quality to her style that entices the reader to sit back and listen as he or she savors the shenanigans of two grown sisters bound by sisterly love. I personally enjoyed this story as I have two sisters and there were times when I could relate to the dynamics that played out among the fictitious characters. It’s not easy standing in the shadows of the sister you idolize and Beazley seizes opportune moments to portray the insecurities of one sister against the confidences of the other. The premise breathes a strong sense of credibility to this work of fiction. The dialogue flows nicely and the pace moves along at a nice clip. This read is definitely worthy of tagging along on a weekend getaway. Great effort Ms. Beazley. I look forward to your next book.

Quill says: Keep Me Posted is a delightful and supportive homage to the art of letter writing as the ultimate way to reconnect with the one you love.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Have you entered this month's book giveaway contest yet??? Time is running out. Great book being offered this month - The Last Thousand by Jeffrey Stern. Enter here: 

#BookReview - The Golden Rule @sherrillcannon

The Golden Rule

By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Illustrated by: Kalpart
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency, LLC
Publication Date: February 2016
ISBN: 978-1681813264
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 2016

Young readers get ready! Author Sherrill Cannon has penned another fun, engaging book that not only entertains but teaches a very important lesson too.

As our story opens, we meet Robert and Kait, siblings who are on a mission:

“We need to start looking for something that’s great,”
Said Robert, while talking to his sister, Kait.
“For there is a ruler Mom says is quite old
It must be important – it’s made out of gold!”

Right away, parents will catch on to the wordplay, but it takes Robert and Kait (and likely our young readers) a bit longer to figure out just what the Golden Rule is. Our two protagonists decide that if the ‘ruler’ is made out of gold, it must be valuable. Perhaps they could sell it and make some money.
Robert and Kait head to their school, for where else would a ‘ruler’ be kept? They look everywhere – under chairs, on the desks – but the only ruler they find is an old, plastic ruler. Ewwww...

Perplexed at their inability to find the ruler, Kait asks Robert if perhaps they’re looking for the wrong type of ruler. Robert thinks for a minute and then a light bulb goes off (yup, we see a light bulb over his head) and he says,

“It’s not a ruler...It’s a rule, instead!”
That’s why we can’t find it – it’s not just at school.
It’s not a school ruler, or a measuring tool...
It’s a rule that you live by, to give and to share,
A way to treat others to show that you care.”

The two children are thrilled that they’ve figured out what the Golden Rule is and now it’s time to share with others just what it means. The bulk of The Golden Rule is devoted to Kait and Robert looking into how this important rule can, and should, be applied to everyday experiences. From bullying to ‘Paying It Forward,’ readers will learn about numerous situations where being kind and treating others the way you want to be treated, is THE BEST way to live your life.

This is the fourth book by Sherrill Cannon that Feathered Quill has reviewed (and the second by this reviewer), and like the others, Manner-Man, My Fingerpaint Masterpiece and Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My!, this one is a winner. Ms. Cannon is a master at writing playful rhymes that impart important lessons, and her use of wordplay (see also: Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!) is clever and quite funny. The rhyming flows nicely while conveying an important lesson, and that’s not easy to do! Add in the always entertaining illustrations by Kalpart, and you have another 5-Star children’s book by Ms. Cannon!

Quill says: Another winner in the Sherrill Cannon collection of children’s illustrated books that engage readers while also teaching important lessons.

For more information on The Golden Rule, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - When Bunnies Go Bad

When Bunnies Go Bad: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir

By: Clea Simon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: March 2016
ISBN: 9781464205354
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: March 28, 2016

After a long, cold winter Pru Marlowe finds herself wanting to be out enjoying every bit of sunshine she can find but she is not the only one. When a rude rich tourist, Teddy Rhinecrest, comes into town with his much younger ski bunny girlfriend, Pru hopes to stay out of their way until their little vacation is done and they go on their way. However, when Pru stumbles across the dead body of this rich tourist she can’t help but find herself in the middle of another small town mystery. A simple ski trip to the extremely tiny town of Beauville seems a harmless getaway but as details start to surface about the former Teddy Rhinecrest and his red headed girlfriend it turns out they were involved with some very dangerous characters.

On top of getting mixed up in this current web of mysteries Pru also has to keep her current clients happy, even if there are only a few of them. Luckily she also has the chance to work for a new client and of course Pru never turns down the opportunity to add to her client list. When Pru finds out what kind of animal this lady has she is not so sure she is the right person for the job, as this lady is keeping a wild cottontail rabbit illegally in her home. Pru’s secret skill to communicate with animals works well with domestic pets but it is a whole other ballgame to communicate with a wild animal. At least there is one person in town that Pru has come to trust and rely on but even her beau, Jim Creighton, seems to be acting strange with this case making Pru think that perhaps her trust in him is not the best idea. As always the clues will slowly piece together as Pru listens closely to the animals around her and takes what they know to heart.

After seeing that Clea Simon had come out with another Pru Marlowe mystery I was excited about scooping it up as I have read a couple of her books before and have enjoyed the fun and exciting stories. However, I do have to admit that I was a little disappointed in this most recent book of hers. The start of When Bunnies Go Bad was promising as Simon set up what seemed to be another fun and intriguing small town mystery but unfortunately there was never a point where the story turned exciting. In her other books there was a moment where I caught myself holding my breath but with this book I was consistently waiting for that moment and it never came. I have come to love the characters and plot in this series but this particular book just wasn’t one of my favorites.

Quill says: Unfortunately a mystery with an absence of excitement and suspense.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Susan Joyce, author of Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Journey of Discovery

FQ: This was an exciting read for me given the setting is devoted to sailing. Have you been on many sailing voyages since this experience?

JOYCE: I've sailed on a couple of dive ships, but I'm not that comfortable when I'm far from shore. I now know the power of nature and feel quite lucky to have survived the Indian Ocean journey. Following that harrowing experience, 1997 was my first time aboard a sailing ship for a dive off the coast of Venezuela. It took me many deep breaths and time to adjust to being on the sea again.

FQ: In line with the previous question, did your Indian Ocean crossing curtail your desire to do a long voyage ever again?

JOYCE: Yes! I like being able to see land. My husband, Doug, and I visited Australia and the Great Barrier Reef in November of 1998 for a dive at a popular site, St. Crispin's Reef. He went with other divers to check out the reef. I swan and snorkeled near the yacht...until I spotted a shark. I quickly swam in the direction of the boat and climbed aboard. A member of the crew informed me that the type of sharks swimming around the boat that day usually didn't nibble on people. Unless they were hungry. When the dive ended, the captain checked names of people on board several times before heading back to shore. It seemed strange the way the crew checked and double-checked to make certain all passengers were safe onboard. That evening when we returned to our hotel, I mentioned it to a bartender and he told us about an incident which happened earlier in the year when a couple of experienced American divers were accidentally left behind at St. Crispin's Reef. They went out for a relaxing day of scuba diving and never came back. I gasped. Their story was later made into the movie, “Open Water.”

Author Susan Joyce with her husband Doug at the Miami Book Fair

FQ: You have traveled to many far reaches and I wonder if you had to choose a favorite, is it possible to do so (and why your choice)?

JOYCE: It would be difficult to choose a favorite. I have enjoyed traveling and living in many wonderful places around the world over the years. Each has been a favorite at the time. At the moment, I live most of the year in Uruguay and love the tranquility. We moved here after living in Mexico for a few years. When the violence there got too close for comfort, we visited Uruguay and felt at peace and decided to make it our home. It's a tranquil place in this troubled world.

FQ: Without too much of a spoiler, how did you cope with the news of Dylan’s and Mia’s ultimate fate?

JOYCE: It was a surprise to discover Dylan's blog shortly after finishing writing the book. I was glad to find it, and in it find answers to questions I had about Dylan, Mia, Charles and the Zozo. I had often wondered if the yacht made it safely back to the Mediterranean. His blog was removed shortly after I discovered it.

FQ: I enjoyed reading about your spiritual awareness and how it developed the further into the voyage you traveled. How vital was this to your mental survival during this journey?

JOYCE: Being spiritually aware was key to my sanity and physical survival. I was so grateful to have books with me that encouraged me to open my mind wide, be in the now, and face fears head on. A great life lesson!

FQ: I cannot even begin to grasp what it was like to have to flee a country at war. How did you cope with the unrest of the war in Cyprus? Was there a time before you got out that you thought you may not? If so, what were the circumstances and how did you survive? If not, what was the catalyst to convince you to get out and get out quickly?

JOYCE: After living in Cyprus for a couple of years and getting to know locals, I began to sense the unrest as the tension between the sides escalated. The village of Kyrenia (on the northern coast) was mixed with Cypriots of Greek and Turkish heritage. They went to school together and often inter-married. If Cypriots had been left alone to sort out their problems, perhaps the Greek backed coup and subsequent Turkish invasion would not have happened. Unfortunately, Cyprus is of strategic importance for a number of powerful countries and since Greece and Turkey were both members of NATO, the coup ignited fires of tension that exploded into an all out international crisis when the Turks invaded the island a week later.

I experienced several close calls (during the coup and the invasion) when I thought I was a goner. This is detailed in my first book, The Lullaby Illusion.

On the morning of 15 July, after dropping my husband Charles at the Nicosia airport, I noticed armed soldiers everywhere. As I neared the main road roundabout, I saw an army tank approaching from the direction of the Greek army camp. A sudden burst of gunfire behind me, sent me speeding around the traffic circle and onto the frontage road, in the direction of our mechanic's garage. (I had a scheduled appointment with him to check the car brakes.) Hoping he knew what was happening, I sped toward his garage and brought my car (screeching brakes) to a halt in his parking lot. I jumped out and ran inside. When I told him about the soldiers near the airport and the gunfire, he assured me it was probably a routine army exercise.

While inspecting my car brakes, gunfire started again. We ran back inside his office and he called someone, then quickly hung up. “Get out of here. Go home,” he yelled pushing me out the door. “It's a coup!”

Oh my God, I thought as I drove my convertible sport's car (top down) back in the direction of the roundabout and the main road leading back to my home in Kyrenia. The roundabout was blocked by tanks. Traffic was at a standstill. I saw a driver get out of a car to ask questions and he was forced back into his car by tanks firing over his head. I didn't know what to do, so I returned to the mechanic and asked if there was back road leading to Kyrenia. He screamed at me to go now, and pushed me back into my car. He said all roads out of the city were blocked and told me to drive to my friend's apartment, located a few blocks across the main road. I took the sides roads he suggested to the main road and upon reaching it looked both ways. Looking left then right again, I was shocked to see a line of Greek tanks approaching less than 100 meters away— moving in the direction of the presidential palace and firing in all directions. Knowing I was in their direct line of fire, I knew had to cross the road fast. Legs shaking, I shifted into gears and sped across the main road to safety.
During the Turkish invasion, bombs fell all around us for several days. Once we left our village with other foreigners and drove up the mountain to the UN camp, we were caught in the cross fire of the Greeks and Turks fighting over the mountain pass, and the bombs being dropped to wipe out the enemy. It was was a harrowing experience. One I shall never forget.

A dream I had the night before the Turks invaded showed me I would survive and gave me courage to deal with life—moment by moment.

FQ: How weary were you to be in an area that is the proving grounds for military strategy in a part of our world where unrest is the norm? More importantly, are you a thrill-seeking, danger junkie and have you always been?

Author Susan Joyce with her dog Gita on the beach near their home in Uruguay

JOYCE: At the time, young and naïve, I didn't realize that the Middle East was such a hot-spot. I laughed when I read your next question about being a danger junkie. I would never chase a tornado or go into areas of danger if I knew they existed. However my astrological chart shows it is my destiny to be in interesting places at exciting times, and that has been true in my life.

FQ: There is a vast amount of history and fact peppered throughout this story. How difficult was it to sort the progression of the story?

JOYCE: Thanks to notes and sketches in my journal, I was able to piece it together. Glad it worked for you as a reader.

FQ: I want to thank you for the pleasure of reading your book. It was a terrific read (and great adventure). I can assume you are working on “Journeys Book Three” and if so, are you able to share a bit (and when can we expect its release)?

JOYCE: Thank you for your great questions! Happy you enjoyed reading my work.

I am working on a new book about my life with my husband Doug. Seems the universe had a plan for us to meet and work together before we realized life was speaking to us. As our relationship unfolded in serendipitous and awesome ways, we knew we were meant to be creative together. No idea when it will be completed. I'm hoping by 2017. Stay tuned. Thanks for your interest!

Please visit for further information.

To learn more about Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Journey of Discovery please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, March 21, 2016

#BookReview - The Icarus Prediction

The Icarus Prediction

By: RD Gupta
Publisher: Kadamedia Publishing
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 978-0692346723
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: March 2016

Over the years Jarrod Stryker had developed a reputation as the golden boy of the banking world. As one of the most successful employees at Blackenford Capital Management, one of New York’s largest financial firms, Jarrod is on the top of the list for a huge promotion. A promotion that will allow him to have his own limousine and driver with access to all of the benefits and perks this large company provides. Even though a suit and tie was not always his choice wardrobe, Jarrod has worked tirelessly to reach this goal and he wasn’t about to let it go now that he was so close to reaching it. It was true that when Jarrod was in the military years ago he never would have wanted a promotion like this, but now the sweet taste of luxury was something he could not resist.

However, underneath the cool confident exterior Jarrod has a few secrets lurking from his past that he would prefer to forget. As an ex-CIA operative in the military he took the fall for the woman he loved and was dishonorably discharged. Even though he knew the consequences of that decision it did not stop him from concealing the truth and keeping the secret for the rest of his life. Now, with the memories of that day still fresh in his mind, Jarrod hopes that one decision does not jeopardize the work he has done to earn this promotion.

Suddenly Jarrod finds that all of his CIA training is coming in handy as he stumbles upon the greatest international conspiracy that the world has ever known. Not only would this affect the financial stability of the world Jarrod lives in, but would turn the stability of every other foreign country upside down. Instantly allies would become enemies and the Earth would turn into a dark pit of chaos unless Jarrod finds a way to stop it.

The intensity of this story continued to build as I started to read, making each chapter more exciting than the last. Big business scandals and conspiracies are a fascinating subject to me because much of the time they are spending millions of dollars on a thing that could or could not happen in the future and that blows my mind. The delicate balance between companies, between cities, and between countries is unbelievably fragile and it only takes one corrupt deal to send it all spiraling into a downward tailspin. Author RD Gupta brings to light this intense fast-paced world in an amazing way that held my attention to the very last page.

Quill says: An absolute thrill ride of a book with intensity on every page.

Book Review - The Cost: My Life on a Terrorist Hit List

The Cost: My Life on a Terrorist Hit List

By: Ali Husnain
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: March 2016
ISBN: 978-0310344865
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 19, 2016

A young man, who shares his story of conversion to Christianity, tells his amazing story in this new book, that will open readers’ eyes to just how blessed we are in the Western world to be free to worship whoever/however we want.

Ali Husnain (all names were changed for safety reasons), opens his memoir with a brief prologue in which he recounts his time hiding out in a dilapidated shack, fearing for his life. What brought Ali to such a horrible place, and why does he then flee to England?
In order to understand what brought Ali to such dire circumstances, the reader is given an intriguing look into his life. Born into wealth, Ali was a Shia Muslim, who took his easy life for granted. His mother, Ami, was one of those very rare Pakistani women who successfully filed for divorce from her abusive husband. While the divorce proceedings were underway, the family moved in with Ami’s mother, and eventually with Ami’s new husband.

The author recounts his early life, the trouble he and his friends caused, as well as the good times with the mother he adored. All that would change, however, when he and his sister went to visit their ailing Aunt Gulshan in Oxford, England. During their visit, Ali was astounded to learn that his aunt had converted to Christianity. At first he tried to dissuade her, but eventually, he came to know the peace of accepting Jesus as his savior. Returning to Pakistan, Ali tried to hide his new found faith, but one mistake blurted out to some friends and his life spiraled out of control.

The Cost, written by a very brave young man (Ali was just 17 when his conversion took place), will have the reader riveted to the pages. For Westerners, it will be hard to comprehend many of the things the author divulges about daily life in Pakistan. At the same time, reading about Ali’s wonder when he visits England and experiences such simple pleasures as walking into a huge (to him) grocery store, and realizing that anybody, regardless of stature, can go into the local electronics store, will make ‘us’ appreciate just how lucky we are here in the States. The true revelation, however, is to see what a Christian man is subject to in a Muslim country – ‘horrifying’ is one word that comes to mind but that might be an understatement.

Ali opens up about his personal experiences, what happened while attending church and his inner struggles before accepting Jesus. Evangelical Christian readers, in particular, will find these events of great interest. The most profound statement I’ve read in a very long time, in any book, came in the chapter “Jesus, Only Jesus” in which Ali notes, “What struck me...was the fact that I had witnessed something in church that I had never experienced in a mosque: the absence of fear.” (pg. 101) Whether or not you’re a Christian, this book will make you ponder the realities of life as a Christian in a Muslim country.

Quill says: A book written by a very brave man, that shows the price he paid for his beliefs, and proves just how blessed we are in the Western world to be able to follow any faith.

#BookReview - The Promise of Forgiveness

The Promise of Forgiveness

By: Marin Thomas
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: March 2016
ISBN: 9780451476296
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 19, 2016

Marin Thomas delivers an enjoyable read about family and its many complexities in her latest novel, The Promise of Forgiveness.

Mia was growing up way too fast for Ruby’s liking. It wasn’t her fault. Making a choice to grow up wasn’t an option for Ruby once she became a mom. Mia was barely four months old when Ruby’s parents died. She still struggled with the knowledge that she learned her parents weren’t her real parents—after they were already dead. To compound her troubles, the day Ruby came home to find her fourteen-year-old daughter in bed with a boy, it was time to make a change—a drastic change. Call it coincidence, but some power greater than Ruby sent that letter in the nick of time. With nothing more to lose, it was time to go to Unforgiven, Oklahoma, and meet the man responsible for her creation. Mia had no choice but to tag along with Ruby.

Ruby Baxter is somewhat of a drifter. The problem is, she’s supposed to be a responsible mom. She would do anything for her daughter if she could just get her own life on the straight and narrow. When the bus deposits Ruby and her daughter Mia at the depot in the dust pit of Unforgiven, Oklahoma, it wasn’t hard to recognize where its name came from. It’s tough to believe less than a week before, she and her daughter Mia were living out their days in Missouri. Granted, the trailer wasn’t anything that would be on the cover of House Beautiful, but it sure beat the pants off what she was looking at now. She would have never dragged Mia away from Missouri had she not received the letter from her father’s attorney—a father who gave her up thirty years ago...

Marin Thomas knows how to paint a picture of absolute destitute and sprinkle just enough intrigue to keep the reader turning pages. Main character Ruby is salty and has been around the block a few times, but Thomas tempers the rough edges with a heart that is in the right place. There’s nothing and no one who will stand in the way of Ruby protecting her child. Thomas brings the reader to the edge and just when he/she feels as though the turn of the next page will plunge the reader into the abyss, Thomas whips up a passage of hope and promise. This see-saw writing effect creates a solid tempo throughout the book. Her dialogue is real and as a result, one can hear the conversations. Even though this book is over 300 pages, it goes by quickly and the reader is engaged throughout. As an added bonus, Ms. Thomas has included a reader’s guide of discussion questions at book’s end which is a terrific enhancement.

Quill says: The Promise of Forgiveness is a great read for a book club group. The tempo is smooth and the plot provides ample subject matter for group discussion.

#BookReview - Covered Bridge Charm

Covered Bridge Charm

By: Dianne Christner
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: March 2016
ISBN: 978-1630588977
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2016

A light-hearted story, set in a Mennonite community in Oregon, brings together two long-time friends who may, or may not, eventually find love in the newest novel by Dianne Christner.

Carly Blosser, a 27-year-old conservative Mennonite doesn't quite fit the mold of an Amish woman. She's always buzzing around on her bicycle, with her rabbit in the front basket, and while she'd love to be married and have a family, she suspects that God's plan for her requires she be single. That way, she can use all her energy to care for those living at the Sweet Life Assisted Living Facility where she works as a caregiver. Along with the elderly inhabitants of Sweet Life, who all have very distinct personalities, Carly must deal with her boss Simon Lapp. Simon seems more often annoyed with Carly and her brazen ideas on how to improve life at the facility, than he does supportive of her ideas. It doesn't help that Carly was once engaged to Simon's son, Dale, and that he paritally blames Carly for Dale up and leaving Oregon.

Dale's cousin, Adam Lapp, helps out at Sweet Life (mostly fixing Carly's bike after her many accidents) and Carly does enjoy his company. When Simon asks Adam to keep Carly out of his hair by taking her out for a picnic or somesuch outing, Adam scoffs at the idea. But it isn't long before he and Carly start spending more and more time together. When Carly enlists his help to try and find the long-lost love of Martha, a resident at Sweet Life, the time together begins to look more and more like Carly and Adam are falling in love. It starts to look like there may be a marriage on the horizon, but then another young man, Jason, comes on the scene and things get, well, things get a little messy. Adam gets jealous, there's a fight, Carly doesn't want to see Adam, maybe Jason is a better get the idea.

Covered Bridge Charm was an enjoyable, one-night read. There were quite a few characters to get to know in this book, and I particularly enjoyed the residents of the assisted living center - it's not a setting that has been used for many romance novels. A few things kept me from absolutely loving this book, including the fact that Carly was always getting into accidents with her bike (you'd think she'd find a better mode of transportation) and that her frequent remark after falling or running into things was simply 'ouch.' Such comments made the dialogue feel a bit unnatural at times and made it a little hard to get lost within the pages of this book. That said, overall it was a nice, easy-reading story.

Quill says: While not a 'can't put it down for a second' novel, fans of Amish & Mennonite fiction will enjoy this light-hearted romance.

#BookReview - Sally Dance

Sally Dance!

Written/Illustrated by: Jody Mackey
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-1493162130
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 2016

All young girls need to be encouraged to ‘reach for the stars,’ and in this charming book by Jody Mackey, they’ll see what happens when a young dancer goes for her dream.

At the opening of the story, we meet Sally, a young lady who loves to dance. She loves ballet and even has pink ballet shoes and takes lessons. But it isn’t just ballet that Sally loves; she loves all types of dance from jazz to disco, and everything in between. While Sally enjoys all forms of dance, her absolute favorite style is hula dancing. There’s nothing she likes more than standing in front of her mirror practicing while her faithful dog, Little Mack, happily watches her.

Sally has a friend, Evangelyne, who is a hula dancer and even gets to dance at luaus. One day, Evangelyne asks Sally to dance with her at the Hawaiian festival. Sally is both excited and nervous. She’d LOVE to dance at a luau, but can she? Will she be able to perform the dance correctly?

Sally Dance! is a sweet story about a girl who, although at first hesitant, decides to go for her dreams. The results are wonderful (Sally wishes the dance could go on forever), and opens new and exciting doors for the young dancer. Readers will see how Sally, with the help of her family and her best friend Evangelyne, was able to overcome her fear and do the one thing she wanted most – to dance a luau. Combine this upbeat story with the author’s simple, yet lovely illustrations, and you have a wonderful story to engage youngsters who will be inspired to reach for their dreams.

Quill says: A sweet story that will inspire youngsters to reach for their dreams.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

#BookReview - Good Morning Diego Garcia

Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Journey of Discovery

By: Susan Joyce
Publisher: Peel Productions
Publication Date: February 2016
ISBN: 9781943158904
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 19, 2016

In the second of her Journeys Book Series, Susan Joyce takes the reader on a perilous voyage across the Indian Ocean.

It’s June of 1975 and Susan and her husband Charles enjoy the day-to-day of their quiet lives in Ojai, California. They had only been in Ojai for a few months and managed to settle into a gorgeous home nestled among the hills of Southern California. It was a necessity after their return from Cyprus (and having survived the Coup and war there in 1974). As Susan leafs through the mail one particular afternoon, she is excited to hear from not only their friend Ilene in Malta, but Sabri Tahir; currently residing in Kyrenia. It was the latter letter she was most interested in reading since they had been neighbors in Cyprus. The evacuation was swift and uncertain which didn’t leave much time for drawn-out farewells. Not much interest in the balance of the bundle, Susan is about to set the rest of the mail aside when she discovers an envelope from Taiwan.

Anxious to solve the mystery, Susan tears into the envelope and announces to Charles it is the “English guy Dylan” who she reminded Charles was the boat captain, characteristic of Sinbad the Sailor, and his Israeli girlfriend, Mia. After reminding Charles they were the pair who were live-aboards on the Swedish millionaire’s yacht anchored in Kyrenia harbor, the lightbulb went off. However, Charles was more interested in his video game and wasn’t listening much to Susan’s account until he heard why they were reaching out now. It would seem they were picking up a new yacht and transporting it across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, bound for a final destiny of Europe. It would be the vessel’s maiden voyage and they were assembling a crew to do so. Charles paused the game and insisted they should join the adventure—specifically, ‘...Wow, it’s like the opportunity of a lifetime...pleasure yachting! Three months of fun and adventure...’ With the decision made, the first of many challenges would be to get there. Through a series of cancelled flights, delays and a fair amount of chaos, Susan and Charles finally make it. Little did they know what lie ahead could cost them their lives, but to compound such possibilities, hindsight would confirm it’s not the wisest decision to set sail at the onset of Monsoon season to cross the Indian Ocean.

Good Morning Diego Garcia is a captivating tale from its inception. Ms. Joyce has a natural flair for dialogue exchange and an innate ability to capture the essence of the moment in her many scenic passages. I’ve sailed many Northern California waters as well as logged a fair share of hours on the Chesapeake Bay and experienced an instant connection to this story as a result. She is knowledgeable in her use of sailing terminology and capitalizes on such knowledge once the crew is underway. Ms. Joyce has a keen eye for detail without dragging the story into ad nauseum and catapults the reader from situations ranging from facing off gale force winds and twenty foot waves to pristine days and frolicking with a pod of dolphins; all the while crossing an endless horizon of water for days on end. I found myself clenching my teeth on more than one occasion during this read. Her character descriptions and their individual quirks make this read all the more pleasurable and credible. I am a fan. Well done Ms. Joyce!

Quill says: Batten down the hatches and brace yourself for an unforgettable journey.

For more information on Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Journey of Discovery, please visit the author's website at:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Interview with Author Aruna Gurumurthy @aruna_24

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Aruna Gurumurthy, author of DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change.

FQ: First, I wish to thank you for sharing DIYA: the thoughts and key statements (I feel) will truly help everyone who is struggling to understand the world today. Now on to our questions!

Your bio states that you are a medical researcher; what made you wish to branch off into the writing realm?

GURUMURTHY: Between juggling life as a medical researcher and a wanna be med student, I was thinking and talking science a lot. Simultaneously, I was observant about life around me and have been so for over 3 decades. I have always been a creative thinker and spontaneous at expressing my thoughts. I wrote long, interesting letters by snail mail to friends and cousins. I won writing competitions as a student in India, did well in essays in school and since about 2008 been an active contributor to writing on Facebook. My book DIYA is an extension of this prolific interest. I found joy and thrill in writing about almost anything under the sun and my excerpts made people happy and reflective. I figured out there is a lot I could do to help people and the world through my writings. And this is how I made the transition to the writing world.

Author Aruna Gurumurthy
FQ: Your book is formatted much like a personal diary - were most of the thoughts/advice/information and stories given in DIYA part of a personal change or alteration in your own life? Perhaps you can tell readers a bit about your background?

GURUMURTHY: Sure. I was born in Bombay (India) and owing to my dad’s profession, we as a family moved around the country quite a bit. I went to a few different schools and faced the challenges of being the ‘new kid on the block.' Not only that, growing up I felt that my views seldom met eye to eye with my peers, family members or teachers and I was criticized for being different. I clearly had a mind of my own and reacted emotionally if someone interrupted my thoughts. I felt cornered by the envy, mockery and hatred inflicted at me and this became a pattern in my life from school to college to some family, roommates and friends. I suffered quite a bit due to this seclusion that I felt and extrapolated my experiences to our world and the problems we face today. DIYA has been an intense and emotional journey. It took me years to undo the fear and anger within myself and I’ve made that change primarily because I wanted to be a happy and content person. Today as a mom, I have that power to share what I learned, with my little daughter and make her a strong person.

FQ: Is there a way, in your opinion, that regrets can become a thing of the past in all lives?

GURUMURTHY: Absolutely. I am a living example of how I discovered tools to overturn the unhappiness in my life at certain points. The key to that is to understand what it is that bothers you, a person, a circumstance, or full blown dissatisfaction about your life and choices and almost study it like a math problem. Once you have a clear picture, and you can use help from different sources, you start executing, one instance at a time, one person at a time. You are essentially diagnosing your own insufficiencies and using a positive frame of mind to help execute your thought process. Practice, practice and practice makes you perfect.

FQ: If you have to pick one piece of wisdom that you feel is of the highest priority to pass along – what would that be, and why?

GURUMURTHY: That’s a hard one! But I would say STOP comparing yourself with others. There is no person, infant, vegetable or country inferior to another. You are who you are and the sooner you learn to embrace this fact, the more liberated your soul will be, the more peace there will be in the world. We are all equal. :-)

FQ: Is writing something that you will continue in the future? If so, are you looking at staying with non-fiction or are you interested in also branching off, perhaps, into fiction of some genre?

GURUMURTHY: I am super spontaneous, I don’t have a five year plan! That said, I do enjoy talking (in my mind) and writing what I discover, for my own benefit and for others. Regarding the genre, I don’t like that things get put into strict compartments. Even from DIYA you’ll notice that there is an overlap of genres. This system has to change for multifaceted authors like me. But my interests in philosophy, psychology, poetry, essays, science, text book medicine promise to set my readers into a sense of newness and wonder. And oh, I would like to top it all off with an autobiography some day!

FQ: What brings you the most peace? Is there a scene in your mind (or a real location) that brings you the most tranquility?

GURUMURTHY: I am going to answer this in 2 parts: One is my happy family. And a happy world. Where people are friendly and suave in their interactions with each other, where there might be borders, but not mental borders. Where hatred, terror, horror are a thing of the past. Where poor people have clothes, and hungry people get food. Where children can ask wild questions in the classroom and have fun in the playground. Where medical illnesses are treated and cured. Where we all learn from each other, because each one of us is special. Where the World is ONE.

FQ: I always like to end with this question, because readers like to know: If you could have lunch with one person who you would most like to find out about, or ask them questions to hear the knowledge they own, who would it be, and why?

GURUMURTHY: I would like to have a lunch date with Aishy. Aishwarya Sriram. She is my friend’s sister who is in her thirties and autistic since she was three. She is amazing at art and her mind’s got to be brimming with knowledge that no one knows to date. At lunch, I would congratulate her on her beautiful mind, her journey, and on being strong. Why? Because, I would like to look into newer ways to cure autism. Because I can’t stand when people are branded with it. And are forced to live with it.

To learn more about DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Books In For Review #bookreview

Here's the newest batch of books to arrive for review.  Check them out and then stop by Feathered Quill Book Reviews in a few weeks to read the reviews!

The Golden Rule by Sherrill S. Cannon What if you treated others the way you'd like to be treated? What if everyone did that? What kind of world could there be? Robert and Kait decide to look for the golden ruler that their Mom has told them about, only to find out that she meant RULE instead of ruler. What is this "Golden Rule" and what does it mean? Join in the children's quest to discover how to follow the Golden Rule and share it with others, as you meet many classroom friends from the author's previous books.

The Obsession by Nora Roberts Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes. Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton. Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley Sisters Cassie and Sid Sunday have not done a bang-up job of keeping in touch. In their defense, it hasn’t been easy: life veered in sharply different directions for the once-close sisters. Today, beautiful and big-hearted Sid lives an expat’s life of leisure in far-off Singapore, while harried, iPhone-clutching Cassie can’t seem to make it work as a wife and a mom to twin toddlers in Manhattan. It doesn't help that Sid spurns all social media while Cassie is addicted to Facebook. So when Sid issues a challenge to reconnect the old-fashioned way—through real, handwritten letters—Cassie figures, why not? The experiment exceeds both of their expectations, and the letters become a kind of mutual confessional that have real and soul-satisfying effects. And they just might have the power to help Cassie save her marriage, and give Sid the strength to get her life back on track. But first, one of Cassie’s infamous lapses in judgment comes back to bite her, and all of the letters wind up the one place you’d never, ever want to see them: the Internet...

If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?": Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times by Gina Barreca Gina Barreca is fed up with women who lean in, but don't open their mouths. In her latest collection of essays, she turns her attention to subjects like bondage which she notes now seems to come in fifty shades of grey and has been renamed Spanx. She muses on those lessons learned in Kindergarten that every woman must unlearn like not having to hold the hand of the person you're waking next to (especially if he's a bad boyfriend) or needing to have milk, cookies and a nap every day at 3:00 PM (which tends to sap one's energy not to mention what it does to one's waistline). She sounds off about all those things a woman hates to hear from a man like "Calm down" or "Next time, try buying shoes that fit". "'If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?'" is about getting loud, getting love, getting ahead and getting the first draw (or the last shot). Here are tips, lessons and bold confessions about bad boyfriends at any age, about friends we love and ones we can't stand anymore, about waist size and wasted time, about panic, placebos, placentas and certain kinds of not-so adorable paternalism attached to certain kinds of politicians. The world is kept lively by loud women talking and "'If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?'" cheers and challenges those voices to come together and speak up. You think she's kidding? Oh, boy, do you have another thing coming.

Sally Dance! by Jody Mackey Sally dances ballet, tap, jazz, and more, but she dreams about hula dancing in a luau with her friend. Sally loves to Dance! is about dreaming and encouragement, family, friendship and being able to achieve one s goals. It is impossible not to feel the joy and accomplishment as Sally finishes a performance on stage with one of her best friends.

Covered Bridge Charm by Dianne Christner Carly Blosser may not match the typical description of a conservative Mennonite woman; unmarried at 27, living alone, and careening around her Oregon neighborhood on a pink bicycle—but she has a soft heart for the elderly Mennonite residents at Sweet Life Assisted Living Facility, where she works as a caregiver. When Carly's plans for a new volunteer program go awry, she shifts her focus to one lonely resident named Martha. Adam Lapp, a wood shop instructor at Sweet Life, joins with Carly to reunite Martha with an old flame before her 85th birthday. Carly and Adam's hunt involves carved initials on covered bridges, digging up the past, and the appearance of a newcomer, who hinders the budding romance between the two. Soon, new clues sweep them all in a harried race to the finish line where love is sure to be the ultimate prize.

Original Cyn by Sylvia Dickey Smith Drowning in the lack of identity beyond the one assigned by her preacher-husband, Cynthia wonders whether she should stay in the relationship, but before she can decide, events force her to flee. If she goes far enough fast enough, those back home will have to deal with the chaos they created. Deal with it or go to hell in their sanctimonious handbaskets. Until a phone conversation leaves her with even more difficult choices.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?

#BookReview - Sing What You Cannot Say

Sing What You Cannot Say

By: Cathy Raymond
Publisher: iUniverse
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4917-6405-3
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 2016

Cathy Raymond connects the lives of two exceptional women via the conduit of music and pens a bittersweet novel rife with heart-felt emotion.

Professor Emily Thurgood is devoted to her study of the music created and performed in Nazi camps during the Holocaust. Anna Katz is her subject and Emily’s task is to pay proper homage to the woman who was held captive as a prisoner in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp. The story begins in 1942 and the dismal scene unfolds with Anna listening to the howling wind outside her barracks. She arrived three months prior from Prague and the only tangible possessions she owned were the tattered clothes on her back and the threadbare blanket that did a formidable job of keeping her warm at night. Unlike her bunkmates, however, Anna had a treasure. She had her love of music and the ability to compose melodies she locked deep within her soul. Nobody could ever take that away from her.

Moving forward to 2014, Professor Thurgood’s thoughts race through her mind. She is preparing a lecture on Felix Steinitz and his musical writings from the concentration camp, Terezin. As she makes her way across the frozen tundra of the Wisconsin college campus, she is agitated. How is it she has all the facts committed to her mind, yet when she plays them out on paper, they are a jumbled mess? To compound her angst, she is supposed to meet boyfriend, Brian, for dinner at Chez Nous and has come to the realization that it’s not going to happen...again. She pondered their quirky relationship. They couldn’t be more opposite, yet, they had been together for nearly ten months. Brian was rigid. Emily had depth. Perhaps when she finished her latest project, she would make more of an effort in their relationship. What Emily couldn’t know, however, is once she immersed herself into the work of Steinitz, Anna Katz would come to life. The outcome would change Emily’s life in ways she could never have imagined.

Congratulations to 2016 Feathered Quill Silver Award recipient, Cathy Raymond. It is no surprise this author received such an honorable award for her compelling and haunting Sing What You Cannot Say. There are a little over 100 pages in this story, yet the depth and emotion that resonates from each page seeps into the very soul of the reader. The Holocaust is a period of time that lives on in historical infamy. Ms. Raymond captures the essence of its terror, trauma, inhumanity and degradation superbly through the voice of her character, Anna Katz. I applaud Raymond’s fearless embrace of this egregious era. Her tone is a resounding strength from one page to the next. This is the gift of a true writer and a fine example of how to get it down on paper, discard endless (and unnecessary) pontification and deliver her audience to a brilliant and beautiful ending. Raymond has created a memory in this body of work that solidifies yet another example of how we must never forget and be grateful for the life we have. Well done Ms. Raymond. This is a truly beautiful story.

Quill says: Sing What You Cannot Say is a lovely bouquet of hope and inspiration.

#BookReview - When I Grow Up I Want To Be...a Good Person! @WiguBooks

When I Grow Up I Want To Be...a Good Person!

Author/Publisher: Wigu Publishing
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1-9399-7304-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 15, 2016

For those of you who have not yet leapt aboard the Wigu Publishing train where the series of “When I Grow Up” is concerned, then you need to hop on right now!

Wigu Publishing has put out some amazing titles that should be a staple of family reading time, as well as be included in school rooms as quickly as possible. Why, you ask? Because the books not only delve into various careers that children would love to set as their future goals – from nursing to firefighting to veterinarian, and more – but they also offer fantastic stories to show exactly what a career in any and all of these would be like. This time, however, Wigu has gone a step further and really touched on a great (and very rare) subject.

Being a good person.../that is one goal we all share – children and adults. A goal we all strive to succeed at no matter what career it is we eventually choose. In this tale, brothers Blake and Brendan have to attend a funeral. Suffice to say, they don’t wish to go. But Mr. Becket, passing at the age of 88, was known as being one of the kindest, most generous men in the whole town, and everyone cared for him a great deal. And even though one of the boys is a bit afraid of ghosts, they do what their parents say and put on their best suits.

The boys run into many people who are already old friends in this tale, from the firefighter to the nurse to the local grocer in town, as well as a man who doesn’t want to attend because he has a hard time saying goodbye to an old friend. The boys learn a great deal from the members of the town in regards to living a good life and how to be the type of individual that others will look up to.
This, as with all the rest in this series, was a truly enjoyable read. The characters are varied and one and all always have intelligent things to say. But in this day and age, with all the problems and issues that are faced by our younger generations, it was truly a breath of fresh air to talk about the one thing we all want our children to end up as; good people. Not to mention, what we want to be as parents; good examples.

Quill says: I have yet to come across a better series for both kids and adults. This is a true celebration of life and a “5-Star” read!

Monday, March 14, 2016

#BookReview - DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change @aruna_24

DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change

By: Aruna Gurumurthy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5170-5977-4
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 15, 2016

With all the dark, depressing and, let’s face it, all the news in regards to politics, finances (and the list goes on), it is quite easy for people not only to lose hope, but also lose their way entirely. Some look to faith to continue – belief and allegiance to a Divine entity that is watching over us all. There are others who struggle each and every day to find what is within them that they can use to power past the hard days and not succumb to the negatives of life.

This book does a spectacular job of showing all people how to do just that. Written in a format that is much like a blog or someone’s personal diary, DIYA offers entries that highlight many of the questions people in all countries of the world ask. The answers are not all given here, of course, but what is given are the paths that can be taken when times seem more than a little rough. Paths that can not only be learned, but also be shared and discussed with others out there. In other words, a learning experience that could bring positive changes to us all.

The author speaks about a “Bible of Life,” at the beginning of this book – a set of tenets that would be great to have when it comes to dealing with everyday experiences. DIYA, if read well and taken the time to study and enjoy, becomes this Bible: everyone can learn what it means to keep an open mind, or find a way to alter thinking patterns that could even lead to world peace. From talking about Mother’s Day to better understanding senior illnesses to a stunning look into the world of music and why it sparks so much joy and fire in people, the author covers it all. She speaks eloquently about self-doubt, and not having fear when it comes to a personal dream changing over the years.

Humor, in-depth conversation, real life struggles – DIYA is exactly what it claims to be; an approach to the world of change that everyone can understand and feel grateful for while making those changes count. To place this book in some sort of self-help “niche” in the world of non-fiction would be (to this reviewer) belittling the message. In other words, this is not self-help, this is a book filled with wisdom that will open doors (by opening the mind) to hope, prosperity and success.

Quill says: A giving, highly generous book that will speak to people in all walks of life.

For more information on DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change, please visit the book's Facebook page at:

#BookReview - The House on Primrose Pond

The House on Primrose Pond

By: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: February 2016
ISBN: 9780451475381
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 15, 2016

Susannah Gilmore delivers a good read that includes loss, the past and the healing power of family in her latest novel, The House on Primrose Pond.

Susannah Gilmore has the perfect life. She has a husband who adores her and two children who top the chart of ‘near perfect.’ Susannah is an historical novelist and what better place to live than in the burbs to one of the mecca publishing hubs: New York. Her husband Charlie is her one and only. He commutes into Manhattan four days a week to the School of Visual Arts. He teaches illustration and has the luxury of working from home on Friday’s. When Charlie appears in the doorway of Susannah’s office and presents his best puppy dog-eyed plea, Susannah experiences a jolt of guilt. It’s January and unseasonably warm; the perfect day for the two of them to venture out on a bike ride. Sadly, Susannah is on a tight deadline and cannot break away from her current project. Much to his chagrin Charlie ventures out alone. Charlie is absentminded. Susannah often reminded him of the details. If only Susannah had reminded him about his bike helmet, perhaps the end of the day would have been even more spectacular than its beginning...

Consumed with her writing, she didn’t realize the afternoon had slipped away. When she realized Jack and Cally (their children) were home from school, she shut her laptop down for the day and began to think about dinner. It wasn’t unusual for Charlie to be gone for hours on one of his bicycling adventures or any journey for that matter. Somehow, this time felt different. As Cally and Jack rallied to set the table for dinner, the doorbell rings. Susannah makes her way to the front door and is surprised to see the two uniformed officers on its other side. She manages to catch a random word: accident. When the officer relays the word Queens, there is a flicker of hope. There is no way the biking accident involved Charlie. He wouldn’t ride as far as Queens. When Susannah checks back in, the female officer suggests: ‘...I think maybe you should sit down...’ Beyond her suggestion, Susannah’s world goes dark. The Gilmore’s were about to enter their new life—a life without their beloved husband and dad, Charlie Gilmore.

Yona Zeldis McDonough delivers a heart-felt story of the tragedy of loss and the importance of picking up and starting anew in the aftermath of such loss. She takes the reader on a journey that wills the Gilmore family to maintain hope even if it means uprooting their familiar lives to do so. There is also another dynamic of pointing main character, Susannah Gilmore, in the direction of returning to her past which is something she would have never done had her husband not died. Gilmore adds a bit more complexity to spice up the plot when she creates an element of Susannah’s mother’s life that forces her to question whether she ever knew her real mom...or not. With ample twists and side roads to navigate in this story, the beauty in Ms. McDonough’s style is she has an innate ability to bring all roads back together in the end in effortless and flowing cadence. I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of Ms. Gilmore’s previous books and now that I’ve read The House on Primrose Pond, I look forward to doing so.

Quill says: The House on Primrose Pond is an enjoyable read that provokes a thought of how we sometimes need to travel back in time in order to move ahead to the future.

Friday, March 11, 2016

#BookReview - Sam Maloof

Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker

By: Fred Setterberg
Publisher: Heyday Books
Publication Date: April 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59714-333-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 9, 2016

When you hear the word “artist” you tend to think of a musician who changed the scene and altered the minds of a generation; or, a person with a brush who painted famous works that now hang on museum walls. When you hear the word “artisan” you think of the craftsman/woman who owned the mind that could design a work of art from scratch. Then, putting in major hours of work, used their hands to sculpt, nail, glue, saw, polish, etc., to bring that design to life.

For a few, (like this particular reviewer who has the good luck of living with a woodworker who can literally take pieces of junk and transform them into magical pieces of art), the craftsman that this book spotlights is one of the finest ever to wield any tool known to woodworkers. Sam Maloof was a genius in the field of woodworking. He understood definition, from the finely carved lines to the intricate details that make a piece of furniture come alive.

But it was not just his genius for details, or his imaginative work that made Sam Maloof a household name, it was also his kindness and warmth as a human being and friend – as well as a teacher to those who were lucky enough to be able to watch him work – that made him special. People can even feel this artisan’s vibe as they pass by his Southern California compound which once was filled with many artists and artisans who brought about transformations in the world of woodworking, arts and crafts, and more.

In this lovely memoir, six years after Mr. Maloof’s death, chapter after chapter of friends, admirers, and co-workers tell tales of the Sam Maloof most never got to know. Hiram Chodosh (president of Claremont McKenna College) talks about the pure emotion and beauty that Sam Maloof brought to even the simplest pieces of furniture. Jennie Chin, daughter of a man who was the roommate of Sam’s in Los Angeles when they were young and working as graphic designers, shares the more personal layers of the woodworker. And with each new chapter, the reader gets to learn more and more about the dynamic Maloof who was strong-willed, determined, and believed in the beauty of furniture.

In other words, this is a tribute to an amazing man who’s work will never be forgotten, with people coming together to reveal the ‘best of the best’ in the world of woodworking. And a man who had such great passion for his art that he was kind enough to share it with one and all.

Quill says: Fun, lighthearted, beautiful stories, this memoir is one to be savored.