Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Interview with Author Sally Saylor De Smet @sallydesmet

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Sally Saylor De Smet, author of Pages in the Wind

FQ: This was a wonderfully captivating (and written) novel. I’m curious, given the depth devoted to the development of each character, how much of the work is ‘real’ versus ‘fiction’?

DE SMET: My characters are primarily created from my imagination, but some characters have similarities to the people in my life. Reid, Emily’s boyfriend, was created as a non-stereotypical boyfriend with no ties to anyone in my life. Perhaps he’s the boyfriend I had wished for. Robert, Emily’s brother, has similarities to my two brothers in the sense of loyalty and intelligence. Pudge, Emily’s friend, is the friend I would have wanted in my childhood. The mother is someone I created from my imagination and I have never known anyone like her. Emily is the character that I most relate to. I had difficulties with identity as a child and young adult and never felt good enough. I spent a lot of time alone and used my imagination as an escape. Like Emily, I played the “I’m okay” mantra and didn’t want anyone to see my pain. There is a section in the book where Emily ditches her friend Pudge in the cafeteria and goes to play with the popular crowd. She didn’t want to anyone else to know of her torment at home. When lunch was over, she looked around for her friend, Pudge. She was angry with herself and said she felt, “as phony as a Godless prayer.” I have felt that way too.

FQ: Once you were done with the writing process, was it difficult to begin working on your next project? How much of the story lingers in your memory and does it impact your ability to move on and focus on your next body of work?

The author, Sally Saylor De Smet

DE SMET: So hard! I lived with my characters for three years and they were real to me. I would talk with my daughter about the book like we were discussing flesh-and-blood people in our lives. When the final edit was completed, it was like a death for me. I didn’t want to let them go and missed writing scenes every day. Pages in the Wind was a three-year work, so they were deeply woven into my life. I was most attached to Emily because of the similarities of our lives, but Doctor Lieberman had my heart! I loved the man, and could visualize him. The doctor was the grown-up version of me as a child, explaining why I took a certain path or felt inadequate at times.

FQ: The mind is an amazingly powerful tool we humans house between our ears. During your writing, did you engage with professionals at any time to capture the essence of the sessions between characters Lieberman and Quinn?

DE SMET: No, I didn't other than medical research. Interestingly, when the novel was finished, I started getting nervous about how the psychiatric community would feel about the novel. Did I make mistakes in psychiatric terms and the like? Did I stereotype? One weekend, I wrote three psychiatrists, none of which I knew, and asked if they would read the book. One doctor wrote back right away and asked to read the entire book. He loved it! He wrote a wonderful testimonial for which I am so grateful. His name is Rodrigo Munoz, M.D. and Professor of Psychiatry and the University of San Diego, California. He was also the former President of the American Psychiatric Association. I feel blessed that he took the time to read the book and give me an endorsement.

FQ: How difficult was it to decide to make Emily the murderer of her father? Was it troublesome to write her experiences of facing the consequences of her actions (and if so, how did you overcome your own emotions and channel her character to do so)?

DE SMET: It wasn’t difficult, really. I wanted her reactions to be true to her character, and it was important that the consequences make sense in terms of her connections to her family. Emily had very little support, other than her grandma who she lost too young. Her brother was a support but they didn’t live the same childhood, which validated her feelings of self-hatred. They were close, but tended to talk in code. Once he left for college, her life worsened and she had no one to turn to. Her mother’s coldness toward her only amplified her worst fear that she was hopelessly flawed.

FQ: Interesting twist at the end of the story. Without giving a spoiler, when did you know this was the course you would take and how did the realization come to you?

DE SMET: The twist at the end was not in the original draft. It happened suddenly, and was a breakthrough moment for me. It all made sense. The story has three twists; it was important to integrate them carefully so they made sense without giving the event away. It was gut wrenching!

FQ: I am intrigued by your writing background. How did you migrate to writing fiction from editorials and PR for dignitaries? How have your former colleagues reacted to Pages in the Wind?

DE SMET: I've always loved to write but lacked the confidence to push it forward. One day I woke up and thought, "There will never be a right time." So, I devoted every morning before work to my own writing. One hour eventually grew to three and so on. The last year, I wrote six hours a day before going to work. I don't know how I worked so many hours, but Pages in the Wind had become my life and passion.

I asked a former boss to read it, and he was thrilled. This man is a genius scientist and has authored several books, so his testimonial meant the world to me.

FQ: What advice would you give to a first time author who knows nothing about the publishing process?

DE SMET: It depends where they are in the process. If they are starting out, I would say write, write, and keep writing. Get beta readers you know will tell you the truth. Read your work out loud or get an audio app that will read it to you (amazing what you catch). Try to get an agent but if you become discouraged, self-publishing is fantastic. Make sure you have it well edited and proofed.

FQ: I see you have lived in several states. Of the many landscapes, what is the one place you would truly call home (and why)?

DE SMET: Wow, I think I've moved around too much and didn't live in a home or city long enough to feel connected enough to call one place "home." I was very attached to my mother and grandparents so would probably say San Diego and Pasadena. I'm probably attached to where I felt most loved.

FQ: You have a love for the ‘classics.’ What is your favorite and did it provide foundation for your own personal love of writing? I ask this latter part of the question because you have a very strong connection with your pen.

DE SMET: I have a first edition of The Harvard Classics, passed down from my Belgian grandma. I am reading the fifty one-volume collection, which would take a lifetime to devour so I pick and choose. I love the imagery of the words and the depth of feeling. The lyrical words hit my ear in a pleasing way. Poetry is a favorite and the Greek Dramas. Of course, there are many fabulous works not covered in the Harvard Classics, in particular works by women as well as literature dated from the last hundred years; but those works can be found elsewhere. Right now, I'm reading Count Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist, and his work I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) circa 1825.

FQ: When you are mapping out a story, do you outline and follow a specific process (or do you simply sit before your computer and let the words flow)?

DE SMET: I do a brief outline but let the story unfold. Pages in the Wind would have suffered if I had stuck to an outline. It was the kind of book that had a life of its own and I had to follow my heart with these characters. At times, it was as though the characters were talking to me—asking for more or guiding me in a different direction. I wrote the first draft with my heart in a free association style, and got my brain involved in later drafts. I didn’t tie myself down with an outline; the emotions could not have squeezed into an outline—they needed the freedom to flow.

To learn more about Pages in the Wind please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children" tote giveaway @5PeculiarYears

We have our winners in our "Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children" tote giveaway! Congrats to: Sheila Potts of Quakertown, PA and Karen Jacobs of Worcester, MA. Enjoy your totes!

Books In For Review

Check out the latest books to arrive for review!

A Black Sail: A Coleridge Taylor Mystery by Rich Zahradnik On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs. Convinced he's stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York's major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim--in a watery grave. Book 3 of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.

The Fire Trail by Christine Sunderland U.C. Berkeley grad student Jessica Thierry walks the Fire Trail in the hills and witnesses a rapist-murderer leave the scene. Fearing for her life, she tries to focus on her doctorate about Christianity’s role in Berkeley's history. Grad student Zachary Aguilar, in love with Jessica, searches for goodness, beauty, transcendence, and truth as he tries to protect her from the killer. Armenian Pastor Nathaniel Casparian, disfigured by burns, is resident caretaker of Comerford House Museum. He cares for his dying brother who is writing The Question of Civilization. Nate prays for religious freedom and for the return of faith in a loving God. Anna Aguilar, Comerford's docent, vets violent novels donated to her children's library. Frightened by rising crime, she is encouraged by Nate’s belief in the Judeo-Christian tradition in the public square. Set against the collapse of Western civilization, The Fire Trail draws these four characters to an unforgettable conclusion.

Abandoned in Search of Rainbows by A.K. Diggs Discovered inside a brown paper bag left on a toilet seat in a Rochester, New York, bar-and-grill washroom, newborn A.K. Driggs made headlines from the start. Adopted by a loving couple, she continued making waves on her extraordinary life journey--animal communicator, musical prodigy, bisexual lover, phone-sex superstar, recording artist.... Welcome to the colorful world of A.K. Briggs. From abandonment and betrayal to unconditional love and trust, Abandoned in Search of Rainbows chronicles Driggs's incredible life. Her provocative, often sizzling, candor lets us experience the whole spectrum of emotions as Driggs searches for a meaningful life. By finally finding her place in the world--personally and professionally, romantically and sexually, musically and spiritually--Driggs illuminates a magical path for each of us to follow to get there too. As she says in her song, "I Found the Rainbow": In perfect harmony/my answers are clear. With my eyes finally open/And now I can see. For I found the rainbow/And the rainbow is....ME.

An Act of Murder: A Professor Prather Mystery by Mary Angela In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play. Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em's house, Lenny advises caution--and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they're on the brink of an important breakthrough.

The Pennydale Zoo Great Talent Contest by Ian Sadler A fun visit to the Pennydale Zoo brings even more excitement when Juniper Mouse discovers the Zoo’s very own Great Talent Contest. Anyone can enter and that means Juniper too. But what will happen? Is there enough time to practice? From Gerald the giraffe trying to make a rabbit disappear to a quartet of singing camels and a nut-juggling turtle, the story has hilarious consequences under the guidance of head judge, Big Paws Galore, a fearsome lion with a terrifying roar. The creative store for children ages 4-8 shows that one CAN succeed with determination and practice. Even the underdog (or mouse!) can rise to the top.

Normal Nina and the Magic Box by Ian Sadler Normal Nina knows all about it. She is just a regular person that people don’t notice or appreciate for the regular things that she does. There’s certainly nothing fun about that. So, when Nina discovers a strange magic box outside her house and meets the blue-masked genie who lives there, she knows exactly what her three wishes will be. And there’s nothing normal about them at all! This delightful story for children ages 4-8 it shows that exciting adventures can be fun but being normal has its good points too.

Where Jesus Slept by Norma Lewis "This is the bed where Jesus slept. This is the straw that lined the bed where Jesus slept." From here, the story builds with each spread, adding a new element and explaining the relationships among the participants in and witnesses to the first Christmas. From Jesus sleeping sweetly to the wise men bringing gifts, this charming book reminds readers of the joyous event we celebrate at Christmastime. Children will love the charming illustrations and the engaging repetition in this Nativity tale. Ages 4-7.

#BookReview - Pages in the Wind @sallydesmet

Pages in the Wind

By: Sally Saylor De Smet
Publisher: Greenly Publishing
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 9780996527606
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 27, 2016

Sally Saylor De Smet delivers her debut novel Pages in the Wind on a silver platter. It is a compelling novel devoted to the complexities and many facets a troubled mind is capable of delivering.

Emily Quinn is trapped in her mind. She is the surviving twin sister of Penelope Quinn. Penelope died and left Emily to navigate the tenuous waters of a family rife with issues. Her brother Robert is her anchor, but is no longer there for her. Her father was a diabolical work of evil and had mastered the art of traumatizing Emily. Her mother is a captivating beauty—the conduit to Emily’s beauty. Yet, she is a shell of an existence. Daddy dearest controlled all of their lives.

At the tender age of nineteen, Emily faces the rest of her life within the confines of prison walls. After brutally stabbing her father to death, she is incarcerated and her journey toward salvation and answers to the ‘why’ begin. In her first session with psychiatrist Daniel Lieberman, the ground rules are established. It is Dr. Lieberman’s job to determine why Emily did what she did through their weekly sessions of regression therapy. Emily’s purpose is to explain why she did what she did. Early on, Dr. Lieberman becomes sympathetic to Emily as the details of her egregious childhood are exposed. As time unfolds, he learns of the constant abuse—both physical and emotional this young woman had endured.

As the weeks transpire, Lieberman digs deeper into the layers that make up Emily Quinn. His job is to push ever so gently as the two travel further into the dark abyss of her life. Emily is resistent to liberate the self-imposed blocks on her psyche, but realizes she must free them. Her salvation is to move beyond the fact she has murdered her father and she must learn how to overcome her formidable act in order to learn how to embrace her life going forward.

Sally Saylor De Smet delivers an (at times) heart-wrenching story of a little girl who never had a chance. Through artfully scripted prose she paints a picture of a troubled family unit—unit being an oxymoron at best. The characteristics she assigns to each of the four familial characters are extremely well-developed and I found myself often wanting to jump in between the pages and accost the father, in particular. The mother is a passive existence of life and the brother and dead sister, in my opinion are the fortunate ones as they were able to escape—one to college; the other by death. Smet’s clinical nuance to the psychiatric sessions between prison doctor, Lieberman and inmate, Quinn are fascinating. There is a natural flow of Smet’s pen when they are conversing that allows the reader to be an active listener to the session as he or she reads on. This story has no drag whatsoever and the voice of compassion Smet maintains throughout the entire novel is tremendous. I look forward to this writer’s next novel. It is abundantly clear she has found her calling in life and should continue to embrace the natural writing ability she has. Her audience will welcome the next after reading Pages in the Wind.

Quill says: Pages in the Wind is a superb example of how an outstanding novel of compassion and grit is written!

For more information on Pages in the Wind, please visit the author's website at: www.sallysaylor.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

Interview with Author A.K. Driggs

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with A.K. Driggs, author of Abandoned in Search of Rainbows

FQ: Can you tell readers the difficulties an author has when writing the story of their own life? Does ego get in the way? Is it painful to go down memory lane?

DRIGGS: For me ego never entered into it. It took me over forty years to be willing to do this project even with years of people asking me to do so. In the middle of the night I was awakened with a little voice whispering in my ear. “It’s time. you must write the story of your life. People need hope. Don’t stress. Don’t worry. You can do it.” At times it was painful to go down memory lane. I was amazed at how much I did remember in detail by just sitting quietly in my little writing room with my two dogs next to me supporting me all the way. I just asked for help inwardly to bring it all back. I re-lived the many conversations I had with mom and dad over the years and the many stories over the years I’ve shared with close friends.

FQ: Is there a bio of someone you particularly admire with a life story that inspires you? If so, who would that be and why?

Author A.K. Driggs

DRIGGS: Barbra Streisand and Karen Carpenter had a huge impact on me. Barbra Streisand because she had challenges as a young gal growing up within her family and self esteem issues. She overcame all of that with the gift of her voice. She overcame Hollywoods negative feedback about the movies she made, and she continues to thrive and give to millions through her voice and movies. Karen Carpenter and The Carpenters showed me how to implement harmonies (like colors of the Rainbow) each voice, each color one on top of the other by simply “overdubbing” your voice. Everything about the Carpenters impacted my life and journey with my music. I was heartbroken when Karen couldn’t overcome her battle with Bulimia and Anorexia. To this day I cry every time I hear her voice, yet she still has a positive impact on everyone who listens to her and Richard's music today. I always said as long as I’m alive, Karen will live through me.

FQ: Please tell readers a little about your music. Can they pick up your recordings somewhere?

DRIGGS: In the book it outlines the struggles, abandonment and betrayals that went along with me trying to do what I loved most, sing. I wanted to make records and continue healing people with my music. I saw the wonderful outcomes when I’d sing in public. I thought being a recording artist was the logical next step. I had a 45rpm record out all over the country for a while. Ja Vas Lu blu and Spotlight Routine. It did well with the DJ’s but unfortunately there was no LP (album) to back it up. Now however, with the new world of digital download and my ability to produce my own CD’s I have compiled all of my original music with me doing all vocals and harmonies and playing my guitar. The album is called Journey Through the Years by A. K. Driggs. This album has twelve songs on it from the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and the most recent song called "I Found The Rainbow," written and recorded when I finished the book. It is available in digital download through:

Apple iTunes



Or you can go to my website: www.abandonedinsearchofrainbows.com and order the Vinyl Hard copy CD. There are also links to the each site if you want to download.

FQ: Along those same lines, what is the most important facet of music for you? Do the poetic words of the songs just come?

DRIGGS: While the words are extremely important, the music and it’s ability to wrap its tones around you is the most important thing to me. The subtle overtones and harmonics is what thrills me the most. I have to be inspired, moved in some way for the words and music to come. When finishing my book, Abandoned in Search of Rainbows, I was overcome with emotion and suddenly the words and music flowed from me. The entire song was done in thirty minutes. It is the story of my life yet anyone can relate to it as though it were their story. I went into the local recording studio here in Hawaii and recorded with live musicians. I did all the vocals and played guitar as well. This was the first time I was back in a recoding studio since the 1990’s. What a thrill.

FQ: Is there another tale, perhaps a fictional one that may be in the works for you in the future?

DRIGGS: At this time there is not. That is not to say I won’t write one. At this time I’m focusing on getting this book and music out to the world. A portion of the proceeds of the book and music goes to, ocean, marine, animal and land conservation causes in the USA and globally. I would love to write another book down the road.

FQ: Was this book cathartic in any way for you? Did putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, I should say) help you in any way?

DRIGGS: Yes it was. By re-living all the happy and sad times, it allowed me to realize how far I have come. It also gave me the awareness that when something happens in my life that pushes an old engram or button, I’m aware of the emotion and am more able to deal with it. The purpose of writing this book was truly to help others. The responses I’m getting from people who have read the book shows it’s doing just that. For that I am fulfilled.

FQ: You certainly know your own stories by heart, as you tell readers in the beginning of the book, but was there something you ran across that you did not remember from the past? (Sometimes an author is just writing away and ‘something’ will enter the memory that has been lost or buried over time, so I wonder if that particular ‘moment’ might have happened for you?)

DRIGGS: I couldn’t possibly put down every incident and every situation as I didn’t want to loose my reader. I had to pull from my life the most important compelling scenes and experiences that I felt would have the most impact. While there were some things I remembered, I chose to not put them in the book as they were not really relevant to the overall purpose of the book. I feel I did capture all the most powerful and moving moments.

FQ: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

DRIGGS: From my dad. 1. Always tell the truth. 2. Always give 100% to whatever you do. 3. Always have Health Insurance.

FQ: If you could have lunch with one artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

DRIGGS: Barbra Streisand. She went through a lot of heartache and emotional suffering as a child within her family and growing up. I would love to sit and talk to her on many levels.

To learn more about Abandoned in Search of Rainbows please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

#BookReview - Abandoned in Search of Rainbows

Abandoned in Search of Rainbows

By: A.K. Driggs
Publisher: Book Publishers Network
Publication Date: September 2015
ISBN: 978-1-940598-77-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 22, 2016

There are some authors out there, and yes, readers will agree, who should not write their life stories. This, however, is not one of those authors.

Just think...from the very beginning, as a baby left inside a brown paper bag, on a toilet seat of all places, this author has been on a one-of-a-kind, completely unique path. Now, a beginning like that could spell a dark, perhaps even dangerous future for a child. But in A.K. Drigg’s life, any darkness would eventually be overcome by her talent, her heart and her passion. No, she is not a psychic who can see in vivid color the Ancient World (readers have run across those in the past). What A.K. can do, however, is heal and help all living creatures with the amazing power of her voice. Her singing...her songs, her poetic words actually create light in lives that need just that.

As readers walk along the path with A.K., looking at oddities that somehow, after the chapter comes to an end, make complete sense, they discover A.K. communicating with animals, building a loving and supportive relationship with her adoptive family, fighting cancer, as well as using her voice in both the phone-sex industry and as a musical prodigy.

When Act I begins, in present day, she is taking her mother to a place where she truly wants her to be happy – a condo in Vegas. While in the car on the road, A.K. and her mom get into a conversation that leads down memory lane. And when the memories begin to flow, the reader finds themselves in the frigid, gloomy New York State winter of 1954. Baby Jane, found in the restroom of a local restaurant and bar, makes headlines and is adopted by the Driggs family. Her mother, Elizabeth L. Driggs, is a wonderful woman who loves Baby Jane and she and her husband anoint her with the name, Ann Kimberly Driggs. She and her husband not only adopt Ann; they have also adopted a young boy named Chip who becomes the older brother that A.K. immediately looks up to.

The years following highlight a path filled with a rainbow of color. Dark days are lived with the author, as well as bright, positive moments in time when she discovers that her voice is a blessing. Readers will love this family; the heartfelt and true emotion that this Driggs group share is monumental and lasting. And dealing with everything from how hard it is to lose a pet to how on earth you find/define yourself when a large part of your own history is simply not there, is riveting. Life, love, finding a mate to care for with your heart and soul, and expressing beauty and power through music – this book has a story with so many tales that every reader will find something they can definitely relate to.

And, in the end, it’s so nice to know that even an odd beginning can lead to an amazing Act II.

Quill says: Offering the perfect balance of positive and negative – the two real sides of life’s coin – this is a story you won’t soon forget.


#BookReview - Angels, Angels, Everywhere

Angels, Angels, Everywhere

By: Michelle Beber
Illustrated By: Susan Shorter
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication Date: October 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4525-1894-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 22, 2016

When things go wrong...When life gets upsetting, difficult to deal with, or when you just experience a day that goes haywire and you need to feel love, angels are the perfect friends to ask for help.

I want to begin with the fact that this is a children’s book full of heart. It shows each child in the world what it feels like to have a special friend who always calls out: “You’re Number 1!” when the child achieves a goal. It shows children how to stay calm in the face of a bad moment in life and call upon the group that literally is always watching out for them, over them, and standing behind them when they need support.

Many people have stated that when you believe in angels anything is possible, and then (like this particular author) those same people went on to achieve their goals. A completely non-denominational book, this title is truly a book of rhyme, color, reason, love and fun that offers a learning experience and also a look at how good life can be when the “winged ones” are a part of it.
Having a book that actually uplifts you in a world that seems to grow so dark at times that most do not want to get out of bed, is a real blessing. The author has done a great job focusing on a very basic message that still, to this day, hits home in a big way. Angels are everywhere. Whether you are talking about angels here or angels “there” (wherever your “there” might be), all they want to do is share their love. They want to calm you when you’re scared, hug you when you’re sad, and basically be the best friend you can ever have. This book does a lovely job of driving that message home, and the illustrations are offered by a talented hand with a love for vibrant color that makes this a book you will want to keep on your child’s bookshelves for a good, long time to come.

Quill says: Inspirational, uplifting and hits just the right subjects for kids (and adults) who need and want to catch a glimpse of their best-winged friend.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

#5PeculiarYears Tote Giveaway! @quirkbooks

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books has given us TWO neat totes for a giveaway!

Front of tote

Back of tote

How to enter: simply send an email to us at: info@featheredquill.com with the subject line 5PeculiarYears.  The body of the email needs to have your name and mailing address.  (U.S. addresses only) That's it!  We'll pick two winners Monday morning at 9 a.m. est.  Good luck!!!

In addition, Quirk is running a contest for fans of the series over at http://www.quirkbooks.com/5PeculiarYears. All you need to do is submit your Miss Peregrine fan art, cosplay, shelfies, or selfies to be entered to win a number of prizes. Feel free to enter the contest yourself using #5PeculiarYears and share the news with your friends/followers.
Can you believe it's already been #5PeculiarYears ???  And there's a movie coming out this September!!! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

#BookReview - The Memory of Lemon

The Memory of Lemon

By: Judith Fertig
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2016
ISBN: 9780425277959
Reviewed by: Diana Hettinger
Review Date: June 18, 2016

Claire “Neely” is the owner of Rainbow Cake Bakery in Millcreek Valley, Ohio. As a top wedding professional, she has seen it all and has been able to deal with even the toughest of brides, thanks to her ability to identify with people based on flavors. Neely is able to pair these flavors with memories of the bride in order to create a completely personalized wedding cake that gives the bride exactly what she wants. Up until now, that is. A bride and her mother come into a cake tasting at total odds with each other and it is clear that what the bride wants and what her mother wants are two completely different things. Neely has to dig deep and decipher this family’s history in order to come up with a flavor that will enhance this wedding and make everyone happy. Neely knows exactly what the bride wants, but can she please her mother?

While she is trying to solve this mystery, she is also trying to solve the puzzle of her own past while moving on to her future. Her father, a Vietnam war veteran, left her when she was young, her grandmother’s memory is failing her, and she is struggling to get her unfaithful and famous husband, Luke, to sign divorce papers so that she can finally be with Ben, her old best friend and newfound love. It seems that just about everything wants to get in the way of her happiness, but in order for her to be happy and move on, she needs to learn about and face her past.

The Memory of Lemon has a nice, light reading feel that makes this book easy to read within a few days time or even in one sitting. How the desserts are described will not only make you crave sweets but literally taste them. The way this is written makes you contemplate what flavors identify with your own past and what flavors make you think of certain events that have happened and how they make you feel. It is easy to identify with Fertig’s characters and put yourself in their shoes and try to understand why they are the way they are and why they did what they did. This book makes you see that a little bit of passion, love, and flavor can go a long way.

Quill says: The Memory of Lemon is a fun and light read that is perfectly paired with a front porch and lemonade.

Friday, June 17, 2016

#BookReview - Crowning Glory @stacyharshman

Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise

By: Stacy Harshman
Publisher: Andarina Publishing
Publication Date: June 26, 2016
ISBN: 978-0997368819
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: June 18, 2016

A social experiment unexpectedly initiates a profound healing journey in Harshman's eye-opening memoir.

Diagnosed bipolar, suffering from depression, and constantly dealing with panic attacks, thirty-three-year-old Stacy Harshman is fed up with five months of unfulfilled private therapy. In a moment of desperation to escape from her dismal mental and emotional state, Stacy purchases a red wig unaware that the hairpiece will dramatically change her life. Donning the stunning "Showgirl" as she prances throughout New York City, Stacy feels empowered as complete strangers feed her with flattering responses. Impressed by the transformation from her mousy-looking hair to her styled do, Stacy wonders if people's reactions would be the same if she had a different colored hair. That thought turns into a five-week/six-days-a-week social experiment appropriately named Crowning Glory and the topic of Stacy's memoir.

Stacy hires a gal she dubs Agent Thorn to observe and record people's responses. Going undercover and assuming a new life each week, Stacy documents her external (interactions with public) and internal (how she feels) experiences. Pretty much keeping to the same "diverse settings and Manhattan neighborhoods," Stacy transforms into red-haired Kali Amsterdam during the first week. The raven-haired Nada Jolie, the blonde Raya Mer, and the brunette Paula Isla follow on weeks two thru four. Lastly on week five, Stacy makes her rounds simply as herself with the hair from her own head. Through ups and downs and sexual encounters with cyberdates, the over two-hundred-hour experiment has its way with morphing and reshaping Stacy—ultimately building up her self-confidence.

It is astounding how one comment can have a negative effect on a person's life. During her childhood, Harshman internalized a family member's statement about her hair. Harshman concluded that she's ugly—a nagging stigma that stayed with her into her early adult years, and thus the attraction to full-bodied and eye-catching colored wigs. Almost ten years have passed since the Crowning Glory experiment. Certainly, Harshman is not the same person that she was back then. The wacky and wild five plus weeks definitely pushed her closer to accepting herself—something that professional therapy couldn't nail down. As Harshman aptly confirms, "It was as though I had been growing a real-me seed inside a wig-covered greenhouse."

Harshman's one-of-a-kind life changing story is nothing less than compelling. A balanced combination of journal entry, storytelling, and background history, Harshman's writing style is direct and at times visceral. Harshman leaves no stone unturned in her desperate attempts to escape her lackluster introverted lifestyle with her present boyfriend. While capturing times when she succumbs to panic attacks and grapples with uncomfortable as well as unsuccessful sexual escapades, Harshman also incorporates plenty of hilariously awkward and embarrassing moments. Such highlights include her wig hair getting caught in the subway doors, a price tag stuck on the seat of her pants at a popular hipster bar, and a psychic reading with Mama Marie—just to list a few.
Today, the multi-talented Harshman is quite the entrepreneur. Taking all her challenging and creative circumstances and turning them into something beautiful, Harshman's musical talent has produced six albums. Her passion for color led her to not only become an artist, but also to launch Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company.

Quill says: Crowning Glory is not only entertaining, but also a powerfully positive read.

For more information on Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise, please visit the book's website at: www.crowningglorybook.com

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Interview with Author S. Marriott Cook

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with S. Marriott Cook, author of A Home for Abigail: Everyone Needs a Forever Home

FQ: I enjoyed the tremendous kindness you portrayed when telling Abigail’s story. What is your worst experience with a person who has that preconceived notion of how vicious pit bulls are?

COOK: Once when I took Abby to a mall, two policemen stopped me, telling me I could not walk Abby there. I asked Abby to “sit,” then asked them to pet her. She was so sweet and calm; they let us continue walking. Many people and children loved petting her when we went places.

FQ: Your illustrations are beautiful. Which came to you more naturally during the process of developing A Home for Abigail, the writing or the illustrations?

COOK: Oh my, the illustrations, without a doubt. I love to paint, as you can see there are over sixty illustrations in the book. Writing the story proved trickier making sure all the events were true. Abby was dumped the day she had puppies, I was taking her to be boarded and decided to take her home, Mr. Buns thumped and Coco came in the see her. Abby fed the ducks with us every day. Newsie did follow us home after we got Abby and all the rest of Abby’s adventures in the book are true. Well, she and the cats didn’t wait up for Santa.

Meet Abby!

FQ: I’m assuming you had many pets growing up. Please share a fond memory of one of them.

COOK: I recall teaching Frieda, our dog, to climb the steps to my slide-down, where she spent many hours watching what was going on in the neighborhood.

FQ: You say this is based on a true story. Did you ever find the person who abandoned Abigail and if not, how would you handle the encounter if you ever did?

COOK: Since Abby was most likely dumped, we never found anyone claiming her. We really looked, as you can tell from the book, we really didn’t think we wanted her at all. If someone had lost a dog and claimed her, we would have gladly returned her.

FQ: I love the interaction between Abigail and the cats. In our family, we have a dog and two cats. The two cats are polar opposites and our dog always seems to migrate to the cat who could care less about him. Do you suppose they have a mission to be loved no matter what and why do you suppose this is?

COOK: I agree, dogs like to be accepted by all. I think it’s because they are pack animals. Although, unlike your dog, Abby pretty much left Coco alone...she was a toot. Abby was great with Chloe and Gus, and of course, Mr. Buns was her best friend!

FQ: With the thousands upon thousands of animals abused, abandoned and simply mistreated, do you ever find it is too difficult to continue with the cause? What gets you over that moment?

COOK: You just have to remember you can’t change the whole world, but you can change the whole world for the pet that you adopt.

FQ: It was a pleasure to read A Home for Abigail. Is there another project in the works and if so, would you care to share?

COOK: Yes, I have finished the manuscripts for two other books. I am working on the illustrations now.

To learn more about A Home for Abigail: Everyone Needs a Forever Home please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

#BookReview - The World Beneath

The World Beneath

By: Janice Warman
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: May 2016
ISBN: 978-0763678562
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: June 15, 2016

A world unknown to many youth today is brought back to life by author Janice Warman in the mesmerizing young adult novel The World Beneath.

It is 1976 in South Africa and apartheid is in full force. For young Joshua it is a scary time. He is living with his mother, Beauty, in white-dominated Cape Town. Beauty is a maid working for a wealthy white couple in their beautiful home. Out of necessity, she has left her other children behind in "Ciskei" (the designated areas for black people in South Africa at the time). Beauty managed to convince her employer's wife, Mrs. Malherbe, to allow Joshua to stay in the maid's quarters with her. Mrs. Malherbe agreed, but with the requirement that he stay out of the way, and pretty much hidden from her husband. If Mr. Malherbe should learn that Joshua is living at the estate, things might get ugly. This is the environment that Joshua is forced to grow up in - hiding in the cabinet with the family's dog, and running to his mother's room whenever he hears Mr. Malherbe's big Mercedes pull into the driveway.

Joshua is too young to understand what apartheid is, he simply accepts that this is the way things are. But when he rescues Tsumalo, a young, injured man running from the police, Joshua slowly comes to realize what is happening all around him. While the Malherbes' marriage slowly dissolves, the couple's son, Robert, comes home to visit his mother. Joshua soon learns that this rich white man is sympathetic to the plight of blacks and while Joshua doesn't understand exactly what is going on, he does know that he doesn't have to hide when Robert is home. Soon, Beauty and Joshua's relatively safe living circumstances are threatened because the Malherbes' household is in turmoil. But the more frightening thing is that the country is being drawn into more and more violence. As events in South Africa escalate, Joshua's life changes and he is forced to grow up quickly.

The World Beneath is the story of apartheid as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Author Janice Warman has done an excellent job of bringing this period of South African history to today's youth without being preachy. The story is never dull, and it is easy to feel for Joshua as he innocently discovers the world around him. As he grows, Joshua must make some hard decisions, which will determine what kind of person he will be. The World Beneath is a story that all young people should read!

Quill says: An excellent story that brings the unspeakable horrors of apartheid to life in an unforgettable way for young readers.

#BookReview - Max and Annabel

Max and Annabel: The First Patrol

By: Catelyn Kronfeld
Illustrated by: Jennifer Brandon
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1480824263
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: June 2016

Max and his new friend Annabel are two beautiful Clydesdale horses who join forces to patrol the vast landscape of Central Park in the children's book Max and Annabel: The First Patrol.

Max is a seasoned police horse who helps the police patrol Central Park. He is a pretty chocolate brown Clydesdale who lives in a comfy eight-stall barn where he is well cared for and happy with his job. One cold, windy day in January, a horse trailer pulled up outside the barn and delivered a new horse - Annabel. Like Max, Annabel is a big Clydesdale. Soon it would be time for Annabel to start her new job, with Max leading the way to teach her all she needs to know.

The first day of work is quite eventful for Annabel. As the horses were cantering along the bridle path, a jogger ran up to them, pleading with the police to hurry - the tennis center was on fire! One of the officers quickly called the fire department and then headed to the tennis center. It would be the horses' job to keep the crowd away from the dangerous fire. Would Annabel obey her rider and perform her duties as needed on her first day?

The story of Max and Annabel is a sweet story for young horse lovers that unfortunately suffers from a serious need of editing. There are numerous misspelled words, missing commas that make sentences confusing, as well as other issues. While the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, they're not enough to save the book from the editorial problems.

Quill says: What could have been a wonderful children's book unfortunately suffers from a lack of editing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

5 Great Books To Read This Summer

5 Great Books to Read This Summer
By: Cassie Phillips 

Summertime means adventure, exploration and mysteries to uncover. Regular book recommendations simply will not do! From introspective realities to alternative universes, this summer reading list was made to get you going on big time summer fun. 

The World’s Largest Man, Harrison Scott Key 

For fans of the memoir, Key’s The World’s Largest Man is a delightful descent into one man’s relationship with his family, his home and his quirkiness that will have you giggling, crying and everything in-between. A tale of the trials and triumphs of coming of age under the direction and tutelage of “a man’s man” in the Deep South, our author describes all the painful and brilliant life-affirming moments that shaped who he is today. Not only that, but he does so with such hilarity that it’s hard not to sympathize and relate with his plight. Twain lovers, this is going to be your new favorite read.

Think of Me And I’ll Know, Anthony Varallo 

A series of shorts for those with limited time (or limited attention spans), Anthony Varallo’s way with words gets straight to the point in Think of Me And I’ll Know, delivering heartwarming stories that illustrate how easy it is to arrive at wisdom too late. Packed with laughs and humorous situations that will undoubtedly make you think of your own mishaps, Think of Me And I’ll Know brings spontaneity to the everyday in ways that are both familiar and enlightened.

The Round House, Louise Erdrich 

Multicultural authors don’t have to come from outside of the US to be revelatory, and for Erdrich’s stories, there’s nothing more enriching than The Round House, a tale of love, loss and mystery on a Native American reservation. Readers follow Joe, a thirteen-year-old boy tackling events far beyond his years, as he tries to uncover the secrets of his tribe. Erdrich’s masterful writing and poetic style will leave readers speechless with the tale and a lifelong fan of his work.

Olivia & The Fairy Princesses, Ian Falconer 

Olivia & The Fairy Princesses is the latest installment of Ian Falconer’s devilishly wonderful series about a headstrong little pig and her daring adventures. In Olivia and The Fairy Princesses, our piggy heroine discovers that all the little girls her age are dying to be fairy princesses instead of something out of the ordinary. For an extraordinary pig, these options are quite limiting. Delightful for all ages and containing incredible illustrations, Olivia and The Fairy Princesses is the kind of book that sticks with the kids because it teaches them that they can think outside the box.

19Q4, Haruki Murakami 

Murakami’s ode to Orwell’s 1984 is a massive undertaking for the author and his readers alike. The series spans three volumes and over 900 pages, making this a sprawling saga. Yet it’s not too long for the story of two lost lovers searching for each other in a strange world that switches between alternate realities on the fly. It’s certainly the one text you should take on a long vacation to the Bahamas. Science fiction, love and the mysterious all entangle in 19Q4 to give Murakami’s fans an epic of massive proportions. This is one that will leave you grasping for the next page, even after you’ve reached the last. Whether you’re a fan of long novels or picture books, this list will get you through the summer with equal parts literary cred and laughs, so dive headfirst into these picks for the perfect holiday escape.

Author Bio: Cassie Phillips is a digital nomad who spends much of her time reading through library stacks. She also writes about tech for Secure Thoughts and books and entertainment for Culture Coverage. She loves to share her favorite books with others and hopes that you find some you love from the choices above.

Friday, June 10, 2016

#BookReview - A Home for Abigail

A Home for Abigail: Everyone Needs a Forever Home

By: S. Marriott Cook
Publisher: Jabberwocky Books
Publication Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1-63413-279-4
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 10, 2016

S. Marriott Cook nudges the heartstrings of any lover of animals in her heartfelt story of A Home for Abigail.

Abigail’s story begins on a terribly sad note. She is a new mother of eight pups and her master wants nothing to do with her. He drives her to a random street and stops his car; looks up the street, then down. When he is certain there are no witnesses, it’s time to finish what he set out to do. “...Come on...” the man said as he pulled the dog from the car. As soon as the dog was on the ground, the man slammed the back door closed. He jumped in the car and sped away. If only Abigail had a voice, perhaps that man would have been the one who would be brought to justice...

Abigail didn’t start out as Abigail. Rather, her name was Whitey. She was a gentle soul and might have been a great mother to those eight puppies, but never had the chance. She was thirsty, hungry and very weak. A glimmer of hope is immediately snuffed when that mother with two young boys recedes. Abigail looks like a pit bull. Even with a tail wag, that lady wasn’t going to have anything to do with her. All pit bulls are vicious, aren’t they? Further down the road, Abigail finds a place to rest. When the kindly lady pulls over and opens her car door, Abigail isn’t certain the reception will be any better than the last. Thankfully, the lady coaxes her into her car. The next stop would be the vet. After a thorough examination and the confirmation that Abigail had given birth earlier that day, Sandy is convinced she is the one to nurture this sweet dog back to a place and life filled with love and trust.

It is abundantly clear from the onset of this story that Ms. Cook is a lover of animals and she portrays amazing kindness and empathy throughout the storyline. Even though Abigail is a pit bull, I applaud Ms. Cook for her discounting the ‘vicious’ that stigmatizes this breed. Rather, there is ample nuance throughout the story that focuses on her kind and gentle ways. This is a tender tale full of heart and the illustrations complement the story line nicely. In addition, this is a story that will appeal to many age groups. I think it would certainly be a great read for parents to expose their children to; especially if they are planning to add a dog to the family (and even more so if it is a rescue). Well done Ms. Cook.

Quill says: A Home for Abigail is a tender tale devoted to a sweet dog who is one of the fortunate ones to have found a home filled with love and care.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Books In For Review

It's gonna be a hot summer!  Check out all the great looking books that have just arrived for review!  

Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise by Stacy Harshen You want your hair to be perfect to show the true you. But without the hair on your head, who are you? What if it is somebody else s hair? In this beautifully written, heartfelt, witty, and life-affirming memoir, Stacy Harshman tracks her amazing experiment. By wearing dramatic, identically styled but differently colored wigs for weeks in New York City, Stacy Harshman learns more about who she is and what she can find in herself as a redhead, a raven-haired goth, a brunette, and a blonde. After hiring a spy to document how people responded to her, Stacy realizes how her hair is woven into every aspect of her life: her self-image, her depression, and her relationships. Changing her hair changed how she approached all of them. By turns rapturous, rueful, and riotous, this wise and funny book charts the story of one woman s way to shake it up, change it all, and discover something new about herself. Humor, danger, laughter, lust -- even madness combine to make Crowning Glory as perfect a fit as one of her own flamboyant hairpieces. You won t be able to put it down or take it off. -- Author Richard D. Smith

Pages in the Wind by Salley Saylor de Smet After the brutal murder of her father, Emily Quinn finds herself detained at the San Francisco County Jail, charged with first-degree murder for a crime she cannot remember. Emily’s mother, a wealthy socialite, quickly distances herself from her troubled daughter, but in an attempt to salvage the family name, hires world-renowned psychiatrist, Daniel Lieberman, to assist in Emily’s defense. The famed doctor, an aging, lonely psychiatrist with an addiction to sugar, caffeine, and understanding the human mind, quickly becomes sympathetic to Emily and her tortured childhood. Together, Lieberman and Emily explore the frightening and twisted world of her damaged psyche, uncovering the complex reasons behind the young woman’s self-hatred and disconnected self-image. They develop an abiding partnership, weaving through unexpected revelations and disturbing secrets. Of particular interest to the doctor is Emily’s strange attachment to the imaginary girls she sketches—and is driven to personify. The secrets hidden in Emily’s mind could help with her defense—or confirm the death penalty case against her. But Lieberman senses other secrets hide within the patient’s mind, particularly the events surrounding the unexplained death of her twin sister, Penelope. A gripping, twisting tale of psychological intrigue, Pages in the Wind enters the mostly uncharted realm of the human mind, seeking truth buried deep within Emily’s subconscious. Lieberman can help her uncover her past, but Emily is the one who has to face it—or remain damaged forever.

The World Beneath by Janice Warman South Africa, 1976. Joshua lives with his mother in the maid’s room, in the backyard of their wealthy white employers’ house in the city by the sea. He doesn’t quite understand the events going on around him. But when he rescues a stranger and riots begin to sweep the country, Joshua has to face the world beneath—the world deep inside him—to make heartbreaking choices that will change his life forever. Genuine and quietly unflinching, this beautifully nuanced novel from a veteran journalist captures a child’s-eye view of the struggle that shaped a nation and riveted the world.

Dance of the Jacaranda by Peter Kimani Set in the shadow of Kenya's independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the rise and fall of colonialism, and the special circumstances that brought black, brown, and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation. The novel traces the lives and loves of three men: preacher Richard Turnbull, the colonial administrator Ian McDonald, and Indian technician Babu Salim, whose lives intersect when they are implicated in the controversial birth of a child. Years later, when Babu's grandson, Rajan--who ekes out a living by singing Babu's epic tales of the railway's construction--accidentally kisses a mysterious stranger in a dark nightclub, the encounter provides the spark to illuminate the three men's shared, murky past.

No One Told Me Not to Do This: Selected Screenprints, 2009–2015 by Jay Ryan This third collection of Ryan's "greatest hits" features prints made between 2009–2015, including posters for bands such as Andrew Bird, Shellac, My Morning Jacket, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Hum, St. Vincent, and others, as well as posters featuring Lil BUB, Cards Against Humanity, various bicycle races, film screenings, and pictures of sloths, walruses, and other mammals in states of troubled sleep. With an introduction by master illustrator Aaron Horkey, this volume comprises 200 screen prints with commentary and original drawings used in the screenprinting process.

South Haven by Hirsh Sawhney Siddharth Arora lives an ordinary life in the New England suburb of South Haven, but his childhood comes to a grinding halt when his mother dies in a car accident. Siddharth soon gravitates toward a group of adolescent bullies, drinking and smoking instead of drawing and swimming. He takes great pains to care for his depressive father, Mohan Lal, an immigrant who finds solace in the hateful Hindu fundamentalism of his homeland and cheers on Indian fanatics who murder innocent Muslims. When a new woman enters their lives, Siddharth and his father have a chance at a fresh start. They form a new family, hoping to leave their pain behind them. South Haven is no simple coming-of-age tale or hero's journey, blurring the line between victim and victimizer and asking readers to contend with the lies we tell ourselves as we grieve and survive. Following in the tradition of narratives by Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz, Sawhney draws upon the measured lyricism of postcolonial writers like Michael Ondaatje but brings to his subjects distinctly American irreverence and humor.

The Worst Breakfast by Zak Smith Two sisters sit down one morning and begin describing all of the really gross things that were in the worst breakfast they ever had, until all they can picture is a table piled sky-high with the weirdest, yuckiest, slimiest, slickest, stinkiest breakfast possible. And then they have the best breakfast ever...almost.

The Bear Who Wasn't There by Oren Lavie One day, a few minutes after Once Upon a Time, a bear awakes to find he has lost something very important: himself! He sets out into the Fabulous Forest to find himself, using only a few clues scrawled on a piece of paper: the bear he's looking for is a nice bear; he is a happy bear; and he's very handsome too! These sound like pretty good qualities to Bear, and so begins his memorable journey. With the help of Fabulous Forest critters like the Convenience Cow, the Lazy Lizard, and the Penultimate Penguin, Bear finds that he himself is just what he's been looking for all along: a nice, happy bear--and handsome too!

New Orleans Noir edited by Julie Smith Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book. Brand-new stories by: Ace Atkins, Laura Lippman, Patty Friedmann, Barbara Hambly, Tim McLoughlin, Olympia Vernon, David Fulmer, Jervey Tervalon, James Nolan, Kalamu ya Salaam, Maureen Tan, Thomas Adcock, Jeri Cain Rossi, Christine Wiltz, Greg Herren, Julie Smith, Eric Overmyer, and Ted O'Brien.

Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield Simon Tofield's animations have taken YouTube by storm. Now, the feline Internet phenomenon makes his way onto the page in this first-ever book based on the popular animated series. SIMON'S CAT depicts and exaggerates the hilarious relationship between a man and his cat. The daily escapades of this adorable pet, which always involve demanding more food, and his exasperated but doting owner come to life through Tofield's charming and hilarious illustrations.

By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster Actuary Penny Sinclair has a head for business, and she always makes rational decisions. Knowing that 60% of spouses cheat and 50% of marriages end in divorce, she wasn’t too surprised when her husband had an affair. (That he did so with a woman their daughter’s age? Well, that part did sting a bit.) She just made sure she got everything in the divorce, including their lovely old Victorian house. And as soon as her younger daughter has her hipster-fabulous wedding in the backyard, she’s trading it in for a condo in downtown Chicago...Well within the average market time in her area, Penny gets an offer on the house. But then life happens. Her children, her parents and her ex come flying back to the nest, all in need of Penny’s emotional—and financial—support. Spread thin, Penny becomes the poster child for the “sandwich generation,” when all she really wanted to do was make managing director, buy a white couch, and maybe go on a Match.com date...

Abomination by Gary Whitta He is England's greatest knight, the man who saved the life of Alfred the Great and an entire kingdom from a Viking invasion. But when he is called back into service to combat a plague of monstrous beasts known as abominations, he meets a fate worse than death and is condemned to a life of anguish, solitude, and remorse. She is a fierce young warrior, raised among an elite order of knights. Driven by a dark secret from her past, she defies her controlling father and sets out on a dangerous quest to do what none before her ever have―hunt down and kill an abomination, alone. When a chance encounter sets these two against one another, an incredible twist of fate will lead them toward a salvation they never thought possible―and prove that the power of love, mercy, and forgiveness can shine a hopeful light even in history’s darkest age.

The Battle for Oz by Jeyna Grace When a foreign queen invades Oz and steals its citizens’ magic, the land turns to someone who has aided them before: Dorothy. But the silver-slippered girl has grown up, and in her years away from Oz the game has changed. So, in order to defeat this new and unfamiliar enemy, Dorothy seeks the aid of Alice, a legendary woman who once famously defeated a queen.