Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#BookReview - What Happens Under the Mistletoe

What Happens Under the Mistletoe

By: Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp & Meredith Duran
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: November 2015
ISBN: 978-1476786087
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: January 31, 2017

What Happens Under the Mistletoe includes four Holiday-related short stories by four different National Bestselling Authors. An anthology encompassing 391 pages, each story is concise and packed with mischief, missed chances and mystery. Two of these short stories share the theme of a love gone sour when misunderstandings occur. With time and space keeping them apart, can the mistletoe bring them back together? The other two short stories bring together two unlikely couples with entirely different personalities and beliefs, but will their pride keep their love from growing?

Sweetest Regret – Promised an authentic English Christmas, Georgiana must entertain her father’s house guests after he is called away on business. Not only is he called away, but a very important letter has gone missing, one of extreme importance and secrecy. In an effort to aid Georgiana, he sends Lucas, Georgiana’s old love interest who broke her heart two years ago. Will this letter bring them together, or will their past tear them apart?

The Heiress and the Hothead – An obligation to kiss someone under the mistletoe as revenge may not be such a great idea when someone else is wearing an outfit of the same description of the person you were to kiss. Not only did he kiss the wrong person, he kissed the exact person he wanted to interview as a mill owner in his paper, The London Monitor. Striving to make a change in the mill industry, Stephen has taken to exposing the wrongdoings of mill owners and their awful conditions. A mill owner herself, Miss Keane is reluctant to speak to him because of his poor opinion of mill owners and his prejudice that all mill owners are bad. Will a life or death situation be enough to make them put aside their differences?

Twelve Kisses to Midnight – In this short story, yet another unfortunate incident occurs under the mistletoe. After accidentally kissing his long-lost love instead of his mistress at a masquerade, Rothesay comes upon quite a spectacle. Recent widow Lady Montrose and Rothesay are caught kissing under the mistletoe and it becomes rumor he has seduced her. In an effort to clear her good name, she goes to visit her father. With a snowstorm approaching, she sets off on an unfamiliar path, leaving Rothesay no choice but to follow after her, where more trouble ensues.

By Any Other Name – Rylla Campbell is on a quest to find her brother, who has disappeared just before Christmas. With fear that he will not return home, she sets out dressed as a man to find him. It is then she finds herself in some compromising positions and dire circumstances. Thankfully, she meets Gregory Rose, who not only protects her, but sets out to help her, while falling in love along the way.

Some of these stories are romantic and will have you cheering for the couple to reconcile their differences, others are a little more cliche and predictable, but all tied in the Christmas spirit and make you want to snuggle up with your loved ones.

Quill says: Make sure to place the mistletoe in all the right places when the Holidays come around, because nothing will put you in the loving Christmas spirit more than this anthology.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Interview with Author Bill Welker

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Bill Welker, author of The Sparrow’s Spirit: A Champion Wrestler’s Lifetime Reflections on Prayer and Perseverance

FQ: As a new fan (and a writer), I have to ask, can you tell us your feelings about writing versus sports? Such as, do these two professions have commonalities that people should be aware of?

WELKER: Actually, I found them to be one in the same. In sports, and in my case as a wrestler, it involves drilling, drilling, drilling until you perfect a move. Likewise, writing involves edit after edit until you master the perfect wording.

FQ: The complete honesty with which you tell your tale is intriguing. Was it at all difficult, or perhaps therapeutic, to write this down and open yourself up to the world at large?

WELKER: Not at all. Everyone, who is honest, will admit that they have often made mistakes in life, especially in their younger years. The key is moving forward, learning from your past mistakes. I have often told those who are beginning a sport or career: “Always listen to the advice of the most experienced person because he is the one who has made the most mistakes.”

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

WELKER: Not really. My heroes in life (those who inspired me) were my parents and grandparents, as well as the teachers and coaches I was exposed to during my formative years. One’s true heroes are those who personally had a profound influence on his or her life. For me, that also includes the Holy Trinity.

FQ: Do you have any sports figures – wrestlers or otherwise – in 2017 that you would like to meet, perhaps interview?

WELKER: Wow, that’s a tough one. I have always admired the sportsmanship you see in professional golfers. My dad introduced me to this honorable game. I would have loved interviewing Arnold Palmer. Likewise, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Yes, they are the ones that come to mind.

FQ: Would you give a sneak peek to readers regarding your memoir? Such as why you chose teaching?

WELKER: I believe my memoirs will let the reader know that it is okay to “screw up” in life, move forward and make something of yourself. But most importantly, learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes.

Now why did I choose teaching? At the time, I thought that was the only curriculum I could possibly graduate with a degree. Sports were my life in high school, not studying, which was a challenge for me as an undergraduate college student.

As it turned out, I fell in love with teaching and the kids, and had a wonderful 40 years in the K-12 classroom. I truly believe it was “His” plan for me in life. I also learned how to study, which I emphasize in my memoirs.

FQ: Have you ever experienced regret for not staying in the sports arena?

WELKER: Not really. In high school, I had a lot of pressure on me (be it from others or self-induced) to be a state champion wrestler, following in the footsteps of my cousin Harold and older brother Floyd, who I admired very much.

A million pounds were removed from my back when I was able to triplicate the feat. To be honest, I was tired of the competitive arena; wrestling is a very stressful and physical endeavor. However, I enjoyed coaching others in wrestling, football, and track for decades. As a former athlete, I understood their various emotions involving competition.

FQ: Are you interested in pursuing writing fiction one day? If so, is there a genre you would be most interested in?

WELKER: I have always been told to write about something one has experienced or know. Though I like fiction, if I were to delve into the genre, it would more likely be “historical fiction,” involving historical events that deeply inspired me.

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

WELKER: “You can recover your balance when you trip, but not your words when they slip.” – Anonymous

How many times have we said things in anger, and later regretted them. Unfortunately, no matter how much we apologize, the unkind words will always be remembered. As mentioned in the Holy Bible, a person’s tongue can be quite a vicious and unfeeling weapon at times.

FQ: With your background, the inspiration and advice you passed on to students must be substantial. When it comes to the world of sports, college athletes, etc., what is your take on the changes that have evolved over time? Is the pressure greater now than it was then to be the best of the best? What is the best piece of advice you would pass on to them?

WELKER: There are very, very few individuals who reach the apex of athletic professionalism. Keep in mind, pressure is in all walks of life. Participating in sports assists kids of all abilities to deal with such pressure. So just do your best, and see what happens. But never forget your studies. Plato, a wrestler by the way, said it best: “He who is only an athlete is too crude, too vulgar, too much of a savage. He who is a scholar only is too soft. The ideal citizen is a scholar-athlete: a man of thought and a man of action.”

FQ: Are you currently working on another book? If so, would you tell us a little about it? And if not, can you tell readers what your path currently is, and where they can find you on the internet?

WELKER: Not yet, but that might be in my future. I currently write op-ed columns for our local newspaper regarding major issues in our society.

Over the years, I have written 100s of articles on athletics (West Virginia Mat Thoughts), as well study skills articles (Parent Teaching Tips). They can be retrieved and copied at www.wvmat.com.
Finally, as a retired certified reading specialist, I have always stressed with my students: “Reading is Learning.”

To learn more about The Sparrow’s Spirit: A Champion Wrestler’s Lifetime Reflections on Prayer and Perseverance please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Interview with Author Diana Rowe @Anasbooks

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Diana Rowe, author of An Invitation to the Sanctuary

FQ: As I mentioned in my review, your third book, An Invitation to the Sanctuary, tackles a more difficult topic than the first two books, and one that is often overlooked by other authors. What made you want to bring the concept of “being in God’s holy presence” to today’s teens?

ROWE: I believe it is important for today’s teens to know that even though they are faced with a myriad of choices and places to be, there is a safe haven in the presence of God. It is there in His holy presence that they will find peace and self-acceptance without condemnation.

FQ: What do you think is the biggest misconception today’s youth have about coming to the Sanctuary?

ROWE: The biggest misconception that today’s youth have about coming to the Sanctuary is that many believe God is somehow waiting to zap them for all the wrong things they did. Some of the teens that I spoke with felt that because God is holy, there is no way He could want them to come close to Him when they are not holy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FQ: I enjoyed the story of Mark and his turmoil. Do you think readers will see themselves in Mark?

ROWE: I think readers will see themselves in Mark because everyone can remember a time when they made some wrong choices.

FQ: You tell readers that Mark “...did not hold himself responsible for his actions,” which is a problem with so many youths these days. They’re not held accountable, and they in turn blame others. What can we do, as a society, to help them?

ROWE: To help the youths hold themselves accountable, they must first be taught what is acceptable behavior and what is not. The parents, guardians and caretakers in the schools and churches have the difficult task of molding minds so as to shape character. Thus, we must make every effort to equip the youths with the necessary skills to face everyday challenges. At the same time, each youth is responsible for his/her reactions to the various issues that will come their way on a daily basis. A good place to start is with self-examination. Example: how did I handle that situation? What could I have done differently without causing harm to myself or others?

FQ: As a mother, I completely connected with Mark’s mother when she asked herself (in regards to her son’s problems), “where did I go wrong?” What can parents do to help their children find God and by doing so, avoid so many problems? (I know there is no one, simple answer, but a few suggestions would help our readers.)

ROWE: As mentioned before, parents do have a great task. To help children to find God, parents can pray with and for their children daily; parents can model the love, kindness, and compassion of Christ in their interactions with their children so that the children can see God in them which can stir up a desire in the children to want to get to know God; another important thing that parents can do is to introduce children to Jesus through the reading of the Bible and worshiping together morning or evening or both to help the children to cultivate a relationship with God; finally parents should talk about the goodness of God and remind the children of how much God loves them.

FQ: As a Christian educator, what do you tell people when they say to you, “I’m a sinner. Why would Jesus want anything to do with me? Why would he help me?”

ROWE: Whenever I hear those questions from children or adults, I always make haste to let them know that God loves every sinner and He wants to help in every situation. He promised that if we call on Him, He will answer... (Jerimiah 33:3). So, everyone has access to call on God. Furthermore, Jesus did not die on the cross for perfect people because perfect people do not exist. John 3:16 states that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So basically, God loves sinners so much that He sent Jesus to die in their place so that they can have eternal life. God will help each person just because He loves each one. God loves us even though it cost Him the life of His Son.

FQ: I enjoyed your detailed description of the earthly tabernacle/heavenly Sanctuary. While you took parts of the description directly from the Bible, it truly read as if you were there, down to the wonderful smell of the incense. Do you visualize the Sanctuary when you think about being in God’s presence?

ROWE: Yes, I do visualize the Sanctuary when I think about being in God’s presence because it is not a place to be afraid; it is a place where the love and grace of God awaits me and every person who wants an audience with God, especially when you understand that you are a sinner in need of a loving Savior.

FQ: Would you tell our readers a little about the “Mercy Seat”?

ROWE: The “Mercy Seat” is the place where God invites every person to meet with Him. God is literally waiting to show mercy and forgiveness to those who ask. Because God is the epitome of love, He created a special meeting place where sinful, scared, sinners can come and experience His love without fear of being destroyed or condemned to death.

FQ: I suspect many people have not heard of the “Book of Life.” Why is it important?

ROWE: The “Book of Life” is important because that is where God writes the names of those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Revelation 21 talks about heaven and how God has prepared a grand place for those who love Him and will live with Him there. The text made reference to the fact that no sin will be there, but sinners who are saved by the grace of God whose sins were removed by the blood of Jesus will be there. Thus, now is the time to repent of our sins at the “Mercy Seat” and be covered by the righteousness of Jesus so that our names can be written in the Lambs Book of Life before Jesus returns.

FQ: I like how Mark and his friends at school created the “Invitation Club.” Sadly, so many schools today are so secular that any mention of God creates a problem. Do you see this as one of the reasons so many of today’s youth are “lost” and without faith?

ROWE: Indeed, this is one of the reasons. I say this because God produces love, gentleness, kindness, peace, forbearance, joy, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Excluding God from the schools is a direct invitation for evil to come in. Meanwhile, the schools try to find solutions for the chaos they help to create. If you notice, whenever something devastating happens in the schools or to students, there is always a request to pray. This helps us to see that the school system is aware of God’s existence and His power to help. Fortunately, God loves, so He helps anyway because every situation could always be worse if it were not for God.

FQ: Ms. Rowe, thank you for your devotion to Christian education and helping readers find Jesus. Do you have another writing project in the works? If so, would you give us a little “tease” about the book?

ROWE: I have a few projects that I am working on. One is a compilation of experiences; poetry; and a “how to” book. I do hope to have something out in the near future. Thank you for these intensely provocative questions; they are very much appreciated. I pray that my responses will be helpful to my readers on their journey.

To learn more about An Invitation to the Sanctuary please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Feathered Quill Book Awards - Announcement Coming Soon!

All of the score sheets from the judges have arrived back here at the home office and we're busy putting together the final placings.  We'll be announcing the winners in the next few days!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

#BookReview - Nickerbacher @IamNickerbacher


By: Terry John Barto
Illustrated by: Kim Sponaugle
Publisher: TJB KIDS
Publication Date: December 2016
ISBN: 978-1944878276
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 2017

Nickerbacher the dragon dreams of being a stand-up comedian. The problem is that everybody knows dragons aren't comedians...their job is to protect princesses from princes. What will Nickerbacher do?

Nickerbacher's job is to protect Princess Gwendolyn from any and all princes who may come her way. She lives in a tall tower, and spends each day talking with the dragon. Over time, they become good friends and share their dreams and hopes with each other. Nickerbacher's dream is to appear on "The Late Knight Show" as a comedian. The problem is (actually there are several problems) that the show films in La La Land, a place far away from the tower. Then there's the dragon's father who doesn't want to hear anything about comedy - dragons simply do not do comedy. Nickerbacher is not happy and Gwendolyn wants to help.

One day a prince comes along to try and save the princess from the dangerous, nasty dragon. Boy is that prince in for a surprise! The prince quickly learns that Nickerbacher is not scary, and that he has a big dream and the princess would like the prince's help to get Nickerbacher to La La Land. It looks like the three friends are going on a trip!

The friends do make it to La La Land and Nickerbacher manages to get an audition for "The Late Knight Show." But when the audition doesn't go quite as planned, and his parents show up, Nickerbacher is afraid that his dream may not come true. Will his friends be able to help him achieve his dream?

This is author Terry John Barto's third children's book, and the second about the lovable dragon Nickerbacher. He has definitely found a niche that kids love - fun-loving dragons who reach for the stars. Nickerbacher tells lots of jokes; some good, some so bad they're funny, that will keep kids laughing. He has a problem that youngsters will be able to identify with - a parent who doesn't approve of his dream - that will keep them reading to see what happens. The story is light-hearted and funny throughout, and there are lots of black and white drawings to accompany the story. These drawings are reminiscent of a comic book style of drawing that adds a whole new level of fun to the story. Nickerbacher is simply a wonderful story for young readers.

Quill says: A delightful story about a dragon, a princess, a prince, and reaching for your dreams.

For more information on Nickerbacher, please visit the author's website at: nickerbacher.com

#BookReview - A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans

A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans

By: W. Bruce Cameron
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: December 2016
ISBN: 978-0765388117
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 26, 2017

Dog lovers have always known that dogs are smart, loving animals that are deeply devoted to "their humans." Author W. Bruce Cameron has taken this knowledge and added a unique twist that builds on it - a novel that imagines one dog, who lives several dog lives, and remembers each life, and the lessons learned in that life.

A Dog's Purpose opens with a puppy describing his life. It soon becomes clear that the puppy, along with his three siblings and his mother, are feral. Eventually the puppy, along with his mother and one brother, are captured by a dog rescue. They are placed in a backyard with many other dogs and while the puppy, who is soon named Toby, adjusts well, his mother can't handle the human interaction and manages to escape. Toby grows, makes friends and is eventually reunited with his sister. But trouble comes when the rescue is shutdown by the authorities for having too many dogs. Toby soon finds himself in a bad situation ...

When Toby's life comes to an end, he is reincarnated as a beautiful Golden Retriever. Now the puppy is part of a healthy litter, kept with a breeder. When he sees other puppies, from other litters, being adopted and disappearing into the great beyond outside the yard, he wants to go. He remembers watching his mother from his first life open the door handle, and he works to copy her. It works and he escapes from the breeder and wanders around until he is scooped up by a kindly man who takes him for a ride in his car. Unfortunately, the man stops at a bar and leaves the puppy in his hot car. Once again the puppy is rescued, this time by a woman who breaks the car window just in time before heat stroke kills the dog. She takes the puppy home to her young son, and this is where the bulk of the story is - between "Bailey" the dog and "Boy."

After "Boy," Bailey comes back a few more times - once as a K-9 Search and Rescue German Shepherd and again as a black Lab. His final reincarnation as the Lab brings him full circle with a very satisfying conclusion to the story.

Told from the dog's point of view, A Dog's Purpose is a delightful story that immediately drew me in and kept me reading until the last page was turned. The author has a true gift of capturing the thoughts of a dog and it truly felt as if the dog was sharing his life with me. Toby/Bailey/Ellie/Buddy was a loving dog who knew that his purpose was to do what his human wanted/needed him to do, whether that was save a child from drowning, or go for a car ride to make a boy happy. Like every dog, this dog picked up words - "kennel," "bed," "sleep," etc. and basic concepts such as "Merry Christmas" that to him meant people coming to the house. He would be sitting at the feet of his owner and pick up a word from the humans talking - for example, his name - and get all excited, not knowing what the rest of the conversation was about. The author did include a minimum amount of dialogue from the humans to give readers a hint of what was happening, but even without that assistance, it wasn't hard to follow. Much of what the dog did was pick up on emotions of those people around him - sensing joy, fear, pain - and reacting accordingly. The writing style definitely worked quite well, and I look forward to diving into the sequel, A Dog's Journey.

Quill says: There's a reason Hollywood came calling and made a movie based on this book! If you love dogs, do yourself a favor and read A Dog's Purpose.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Interview with Author Joseph Scott Amis @scottamis

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with Joseph Scott Amis, author of To Shine With Honor - Book One: Coming of Age

FQ: There is obviously a lot of research that went into the writing of this book. With your background as a fan of medieval history as well as a writer/managing editor at "Real Crusades History," how extensive was your research (vs. what you knew from your own previous studies) and what did you find to be the most useful when doing research for this book?

AMIS: I began writing To Shine with Honor as sufficiently conversant with the times, places, events and chronologies of the Holy Land Crusades to construct a serviceable first manuscript. However, further development of a work of historical fiction that would form an entertaining and engaging story, convincingly advance certain themes, and evidence a degree of academic quality made more than rote knowledge a compelling necessity.

In consequence, my research was extensive, including numerous works written by a wide variety of authors of similar historical fiction, as well as equally numerous scholarly works. In this respect, I was most fortunate to have the benefit of bona fide medieval and Crusades historians as advisors and critics over the oft-tedious path from first to final manuscripts.

FQ: What area of research was most useful?

AMIS: All of it, but the devil is in the details, and this is the area in which the kind attention of literary and scholarly friends and well-wishers proved invaluable.

Author Joseph Scott Amis

FQ: Do you have a method to keep the lineage of all of the families straight, as this was such an important detail?

AMIS: The leading Coudre and Evreaux families are entirely fictional, and no particular method was needed to create them and maintain their lineages throughout the story. More difficult was ensuring that they conformed to the feudal norms of late 11th century France.

FQ: How do you decide what to include in the battle scenes to make an impact on the reader but not be overly graphic?

AMIS: Early in the process, I realized that the battle scenes had to be based on a fundamental understanding of medieval warfare, as what is commonly seen in movies, TV, and novels is, more often than not, woefully fanciful and inaccurate. To gain the needed knowledge, I relied upon proven historical sources as well as some first-hand instruction in traditional European martial arts.
With this resolved, creation of a clear image of the physical locations was the first priority, followed by a single-character point of view and concentration on the action as seen and experienced by him. Graphic violence was of course a necessity; equally necessary was keeping the 'blood and guts' aspects to a minimum, only using at points where maximum impact demanded them.

FQ: Was there any special meaning to the names chosen in this book?

AMIS: First names were chosen based on research which found those in common use at the times and locations. Surnames were most often a province of the nobility, and were usually derived from the location of ancestral landholdings. Surnames became attached to commoner families by way of occupation or by adoption of the liege lord's surname.

The only fictional name with a special meaning is that of Joseph of Reims - Joseph is my first name, and I studied and worked in the architectural profession.

FQ: Where did the inspiration for the character of Joseph come from?

AMIS: Architecture was truly a profession in High Medieval France, and the skills and knowledge that created the great historical precedents of Rome and Greece had been, like those of literature, art, and philosophy, preserved in the monasteries established throughout Europe in the late Western Roman period and into the High Middle Ages, all of which made an architect character who practices within a monastery entirely plausible.

A direct historical precedent for both Joseph and Galien as his nobleman assistant is found in William of Volpiano, a son of Italian upper nobility and a highly-educated monk. In the early 11th century, William was engaged by Duke Richard II of Normandy to design and oversee building of the base structures and Romanesque church still extant at Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.

Urban II Clermont

FQ: Do you have an interest in architecture that created inspiration for the architecture in this book?

AMIS: Indeed! I received a degree in architecture in 1977 and practiced as a professional architect before 'hanging it up' in 2006. Had architectural history been an option for a MA at the time, I certainly would have pursued it.

FQ: The locations are intriguing in this book, what was the inspiration for those locations?

AMIS: The first volume in the To Shine with Honor trilogy essentially sets the stage for the events of the First Crusade and the characters' participation. For this reason, I chose to place the fictional Barony of Mirefleurs and County of Saint-Lille in an area of France closely proximate to the present city of Clermont-Ferrand. At the time of the story, Clermont was within the Duchy of Aquitaine, the seat of a bishopric and cathedral, and where, on 27 November, 1095, Pope Urban II gave his famous address, which marked the beginning of the Holy Land Crusades.

In To Shine with Honor, Troyes is the location of a fictional 'Gothic' cathedral designed and begun by Joseph of Reims. This location was chosen because the cathedral there at the time of the story, completed ca. 950, burned to the ground in 1188, and construction of the present Cathedral of Troyes, designed in what was then called the 'New Style' or 'French Style', began ca. 1200. Though the activities of Joseph and Galien in Troyes take place a century earlier, I considered using the history of the present Cathedral of Troyes for background acceptable literary license.

FQ: To Shine with Honor is book one. How many books are you planning on writing in this series and can you give our readers a little tease on book two?

AMIS: Three books will complete the series. Book Two is nearing substantial completion, with release anticipated for late spring or early summer of this year.

Regarding Book Two, after finishing Book One, a friend commented that the ending was 'almost too happy' for a novel set in an extremely violent era. In reply, I told him to hang on to his seat with Book Two, as life gets very rough in a hurry for Galien de Coudre and everyone around him. Suffice to say that Book Two lives up and more to its subtitle, A Trail of Blood.

To learn more about To Shine With Honor - Book One: Coming of Age please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

#BookReview - Pepe Builds a Nest

Pepe Builds a Nest

By: Theodore Jerome Cohen
Publisher: TJC Press, Wood Bridge Division
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-1541194564
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: January 2017

Pepe the Penguin is so happy! Winter is over and spring has finally arrived. He stretches his wings, waddles around and then decides that he better get down to business and start building his first nest.

As Pepe walks around the "rookery" (a breeding area for animals such as birds), his friends tell him that they all need to collect stones for their nests. "Stones?" Pepe asks. "Yes," his friends tell him. They explain that stones are needed to build nests and they all must have wonderful nests.

It doesn't take long for Pepe to find a wonderful rock, a rock so lovely that it will make the perfect first stone for his nest. Then he's off to collect more stones. As Pepe searches for stones, he realizes that it is a lot of work to build a nest, but he knows that it has to be done so he doesn't stop. He searches and searches for stones, and carefully places each one that he finds on his nest. Soon Pepe has the most wonderful nest - a nest that will be perfect for his "Queen."

As Pepe's nest grows in size and beauty, it catches the attention of Otto, the bully of the colony. The bully waits until Pepe leaves his nest in search of another stone and then Otto creeps in, and steals first one stone, then another and another. Pepe soon discovers what Otto is doing, but how will the young penguin deal with the bully?

Author Theodore Jerome Cohen is principally known for his many adult novels, but with this newest writing endeavor, he has dipped his talented quill into the realm of children's books. As a scientist with three degrees in the physical sciences, Cohen spent some time in the early 60s studying in Antarctica. It was there that he met the stars of Pepe Builds a Nest, and these adorable and fascinating birds piqued his interest and the story of Pepe was born. But Pepe isn't just a story about penguins - it's a fun story that also deals with a very important topic for children. Tackling the sensitive subject of bullying, the author shows young readers how to handle a bully with the use of an easy rhyming verse and photos of real penguins. Kids will love following Pepe build his nest and at the same time learn how to handle a bully.

Quill says: A delightful story that tackles an important topic - bullying - in a gentle way that children will understand, while also educating readers on the life of penguins in Antarctica.

For more information on Pepe Builds a Nest, please visit: theodore-cohen-novels.com

Monday, January 16, 2017

#BookReview - To Shine With Honor @scottamis

To Shine With Honor - Book One: Coming of Age

By: Joseph Scott Amis
Illustrated By: Joseph Scott Amis
Publisher: Real Crusades History
Publication Date: July 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9976668-2-3
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 14, 2017

As young Galien de Coudre, the third son of well-known knight Henri de Coudre, comes of age he is faced with the impending thoughts of his future and where it will take him. Even though he has always been trained to go into the Priesthood as his father wanted for him, Galien cannot help but see that he increasingly favors the life of a knight. With two brothers to practice with, Galien is no stranger to the skills of swordplay and horseback riding and with each passing day he is finding that his heart is edging toward the career of a knight and not a priest. His chance comes when the family is threatened by a neighboring enemy and Galien is thrown into the battle next to his brothers and proves himself worthy to fight as a knight. After seeing this skill Galien indeed has, his father must admit that he would make a great knight and play a crucial part in protecting his family’s home and lands.

Galien's father’s opinion soon changes, however, when it is revealed that Galien has fallen in love with a servant girl named Lisette, who began serving in the house after her husband was killed in a previous raid. Not willing to let his son marry below his station Henri de Coudre decides that Galien should be sent off to a monastery for six months and then decide what his path in life shall be. Wanting to respect his father’s wishes Galien sets off for the monastery but not before he tells Lisette of his love for her. In his heart he still feels that he will return to his family’s land and become a knight but knows that to go against his father’s wishes at this time would be foolish.

Not wanting to waste his time Galien quickly finds that he has a talent for architecture and is assigned to help a famous architect named Joseph within the monastery. It takes little time for Joseph to see the great potential in Galien and after weeks of working together Joseph offers a permanent job to Galien with impressive pay that is more than he ever hoped for. Now, thinking of the future, Galien is now questioning whether the life of a knight is really what he should be doing, as he is now making much more than he ever hoped to make as a knight, and the work is not quite as dangerous. However, he also has constant thoughts of Lisette and what would be best for each of them, so now Galien if faced with a choice to follow his heart or his head and then vigorously follow it.

This was a well-written and eye opening story that truly brought to life the daily struggles and decisions of the people in this age. I enjoyed that author Joseph Scott Amis wrote in a way that conveys the characters real lives and did not try to diminish the struggles that these people faced at the time. It was easy for me to understand the decisions each character was making as Amis clearly presents how the customs and beliefs shaped the way these characters conducted their lives, careers, and marriages. I found myself wanting to hurry into the next book to find out what obstacles Galien will come to next.

Quill says: For any reader who has an interest in medieval history, this book is a perfect fit.

#BookReview - A Lady's Code of Misconduct

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless)

By: Meredith Duran
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 2017
ISBN: 978-1501139024
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: January 16, 2017

February 1860. We are taken into a scene of relief after tragedy. Crispin Burke awakes in his parent’s London townhouse after being beaten half to death and left to die. He narrowly escaped death, but not without a price – his memory. Upon awakening, Crispin comes to realize he remembers nothing of the past few years and that only his long-term memory remains. This is not his only surprise, however. He wakes to find he is also newly married, and can remember nothing of his bride, Jane Mason. This is not only caused by his lack of memory, but, unknowingly to him, the fact that the marriage certificate was forged and fake. Flashback to three months earlier. Jane, in an effort to flee her corrupt uncle, did the only thing she could to secure her freedom and her fortune. Jane’s parents had previously died and left her with a sizeable fortune. Funds were available at present and embezzled by her Uncle, whose care she was left in. Money was running out quickly and the only amount left was secure in a trust that no one could touch until she was married, with an amount that would be available to her and her husband and an amount available only to her. In a desperate plan to access her money, her uncle planned her to be married to his son, Archibald. She fled and ran into Crispin Burke, who convinces her to stay and spy on her uncle for him, and in return, he would have an Archbishop sign marriage papers that would free her from her uncle and give her the fortune at last.

Soon after this takes place, Crispin is found with an injury to the head and is said to be dying. Believing this is her ticket out, Jane finds the Archbishop, has him sign marriage papers and goes to be with her dying “husband.” Miraculously, he wakes, leaving Jane trapped in her role as his wife and fearing for the day his memory returns. An ambitious and corrupt politician, Crispin was known for bribery and dirty deeds and can now remember none of that. He was feared widely and was out to get as much money and power as he could, and it had finally caught up with him. Jane stays, as she has no choice, but she leaves a bag packed in order to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice. As time goes on, Jane comes to find that the old Crispin is nothing like this new Crispin. Caring, respectful and giving, she finds herself falling in love with him. She tries to help him put the pieces of his life back together and helps to guide him to do what is right in his political career, with the hope he never remembers the past five years of his life. Meanwhile, he is falling in love with her, although he knows someone like her never would have married someone like him and vice-versa. However, he does not care what occurred in the past to make them meet, he just wants to be sure he keeps her by his side.

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct is a book that is not only extremely relevant to our current political state, but it is also extremely addicting. It is filled with the mystery of finding who may have attacked Crispin and why, suspense when it comes to Crispin regaining his memory and the romance of two people falling in love. I could have easily sat and devoured this in one evening as each of the chapters seemed to end on a cliffhanger that just won't let you put the book down.

Quill says: A Lady’s Code of Misconduct is the perfect book to sit in your favorite chair with and let the world pass by for a little while you get lost in the past.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Interview with Author Stef Smulders

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Stef Smulders, author of Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life

FQ: What made you decide to put your experiences down on paper to share with others?

SMULDERS: The fact that so many unexpected, mostly laughable things happened while we trying to settle here. Fortunately we were very active blogging so after a year I had all the material handy. Then it turned out to require quite some effort to turn these blog posts into stories that would be of interest of a general public though.

FQ: The Italian people seem oh-so-colorful the way you describe them in this book. Is there one who truly touched your heart and sums up Italy? If so, who would that be and why?

SMULDERS: That must be Giorgio, our tenant. He is politeness in person, very serious in doing the good thing, sarcastic about the Italian institutions but with a good sense of humor as well. And a romantic.

FQ: After all is said and done, knowing what you know now, would you still have moved to Italy and set this adventure in motion?

SMULDERS: Definitely, yes! We might have chosen to go and live somewhere away from the actual building site while the renovation was going on though...

FQ: I have to ask: is there another place/country you want to visit? Or have you had enough when it comes to travel?

SMULDERS: We love to discover other regions of Italy now that we are here, so we visited the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Chianti, Le Marche and ... Sardinia which has become a new love.

FQ: For the dog lovers out there (I being a big one), how is Saar? Still enjoying the Italian world and everything it has to offer?

SMULDERS: Sadly no, she died of old age in 2009. We then had another dog, given to us by the vet who later turned out to abuse his personnel and animals! This I wrote about in part two, that is still only available in Dutch.

FQ: Can you tell readers a bit more about your B&B and how/where they could learn more in order to take a vacation there? Does it supply the guests the “Good Life?”

SMULDERS: We certainly try to present our guests with the dolce vita and fortunately almost all of them do experience it. Many arrive all stressed out after a year of hard work but within a week they are completely relaxed and do not want to leave anymore! We organise small scale cooking workshops, a truly Italian too-many-courses dinner and wine tastings. Many go walking or cycling straight from our house and are impressed by the silence and friendliness of the people here. Curious? Have a look at our website http://www.duepadroni.it

FQ: If you had to pick the top three things Italy has to offer that literally makes it the best place to live; what would those be?

SMULDERS: Climate: it is truly summer here from June to October, without becoming too hot.
People: in our region, the Oltrepò Pavese, tourists are rare and met with surprise and enthousiasm.
Gastronomy: the Oltrepò Pavese is the wine region of Milan and there are hundreds of small producers of excellent wines. And the food! It does not get more authentic than here.

FQ: I realize this is a truly personal book, but you have that rare gift of hilarity (and goodness knows we all need that). So, have you thought of writing another book along these lines? Should fans expect more tales from Italy?

SMULDERS: In fact I already did. My second book with hilarious tales was published last year, in Dutch, and a third is about to in March. Weird things keep on happening here almost every day ?. Only yesterday, for example, we discovered that a neighbour, whom we never met, has listed a room of his house on Airbnb with horrifying, nonsense pictures and also a few better ones that he copied from our site! We are even on them. I think that’s typical of some things that occur here. And it is hilarious. First story of part four!

To learn more about Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

#BookReview - Living in Italy

Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life

By: Stef Smulders
Publisher: Babelcube, Inc.
Publication Date: November 2016
ISBN: 978-1507162965
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 2017

How hard, annoying, and at times utterly ridiculous was it for you and your family to relocate? Ah…just thinking about it makes all those lovely stories float back through your mind. Learning the language(s) (or attempting to understand new accents); cost of living changes; education changes; trying to set up a house; going to a brand new DMV to get licenses changed – and the list of ‘fun stuff’ goes on. Add on the extra problems that can come with relocating from America to a whole new country, and you have this extremely entertaining book. Witty, charming, fun – this author tells all about the interesting issues that crop up when setting up shop in Italy.

From word one, this tale/memoir is filled with short stories of all the “new” things Mr. Smulders, his husband, and their dog, Saar, met up with when they decided to leave friends and family behind in order to move to Italy and set up a Bed & Breakfast.

Italy is known for amazing food, kind people, beautiful sites to see and enjoy – AKA: “The Good Life.” But very rarely (if ever) do you hear about the fact that “The Good Life” is an extremely difficult thing to achieve: The house can be a nightmare to set-up— ending up dark, even in sunny weather, because all the windows face north. You may have to deal with one main public TV channel that airs a plethora of daytime talk shows, and nothing else. Not to mention, having to learn the language in order to not panic when attempting to narrow down where, exactly, those toilettes are located.

The characters in this book, as well, are absolutely hysterical. From the slightly devious to the fun-loving Italian folk who always seem to have a story for everything, this author and liver/lover of the Italian dream introduces readers to these "Signore e Signori" one right after the other. You literally become so engrossed with them that you start believing you’re in a fiction novel. (You will love Torti, the builder, by the way. In fact, once you come across him in this book, you will not want to put this down!)

There are many tales written about those who have emigrated to the U.S.A. from their own beloved birthplaces; they have written about America’s “good, bad and ugly” when it came to their experiences setting up a new life in this new place. With this book, however, it is not only interesting and fun, but also refreshing to embark on an adventure going the other way across the ocean.
Even with all the trials that landed in Mr. Smulders ‘extremely difficult to achieve’ column when it came to this move to Italy, he has done a remarkable job laying all his cards on the table and still making Italy feel like one of the most enchanting and charming countries you could possibly call home.

Quill says: For those who wish to laugh and see a more up-close-and-personal Italy, this is most definitely the book for you!

For more information on Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life, please visit the website: italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#BookReview - An Invitation to the Sanctuary @Anasbooks

An Invitation to the Sanctuary

By: Diana Rowe
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication Date: November 2015
ISBN: 978-1514415498
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 11, 2017

A teen who has sinned and is not sorry for his actions until he learns about the Heavenly Sanctuary where Jesus will forgive all his sins, is the topic of author Diana Rowe's newest book.

To help set the topic for the book, An Invitation to the Sanctuary opens with a brief discussion about receiving a wedding invitation. The author asks the reader how they feel upon opening the envelope, what they were thinking about the event, and how it gave them a feeling of inclusiveness. It's a good analogy to receiving an invitation to the Heavenly Sanctuary and to guide the reader to a deep understanding of the sanctuary, author Rowe tells the story of Mark, a teen who has sinned.

One day while walking home from school Mark is given an invitation from an old man he doesn't know. Mark has no idea what is in the envelope and so he doesn't open it right away. The young man has much more important things on his mind. That day at school, Mark stole a classmate's phone, and then hit another classmate for telling on him. He was angry for the school's punishment of him and at dinner that night, when he told his mother what had happened, he showed no remorse. Mark's mother was very concerned by her son's lack of remorse, and so that night, after worrying about where she "went wrong" with her son, prays to our Heavenly Father for guidance. She knows in her heart that God will answer her.

The following morning after his mother goes to work, Mark cleans his room and finds that invitation he was given the day before by the elderly man. He opens the envelope and finds that it is an invitation from Jesus to "The Most Holy Place in the Heavenly Sanctuary." Mark decides to accept the invitation and thus begins his journey of discovery about the Heavenly Sanctuary and how it will change his life forever.

This is the third of author Diana Rowe's books that I have read and reviewed and like the other two, I found this one both enjoyable and educational. An Invitation to the Sanctuary tackles a more complicated subject than her other two books, Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story and Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love. In this book, the author explores the mercy and forgiveness of our Lord, and how "...He forgives your sins and covers you with His righteous life..." Through the story of Mark (as well as with examples from the Bible), and how he comes to learn of Jesus' love and forgiveness, young adults will be able to explore just what it means to be loved by Jesus and that He will love them in spite of their sins. At the back of the book is "A Special Invitation for You!" as well as "Thoughts to Ponder" (with two pages of questions for further self-discovery), a glossary and index. For those looking to grow their faith as well as the Christian home or classroom, this is a good book to add to the collection.

Quill says: An insightful journey for teens and adults to help them explore and understand the "mercy seat" where they can meet with Jesus and receive forgiveness.

To learn more about An Invitation to the Sanctuary, please visit the website: www.mybookgarden.com

Sunday, January 8, 2017

#BookReview - Settle for More

Settle for More

By: Megyn Kelly
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: November 2016
ISBN: 978-0062494603
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 9, 2017

A successful lawyer on the way to being offered partner at her law firm and a top-notch journalist with one of the most widely watched programs on cable news - Megyn Kelly has enjoyed both careers. Throw in a loving husband and three great kids and you've got the makings of a wonderful life. In Settle for More, Kelly recounts her life and how she went from being a middle-class kid growing up in upstate New York to having one of the most recognized names in journalism.

Settle for More opens with Kelly recounting the first Republican debate of the 2016 election season in August of 2015. She gives the reader a few pages of behind-the-scenes events and then tells of getting violently ill earlier in the day. Somehow, with the help of her doctor and shear determination; she pulled through and was well enough to participate in the debate. Her first question, about Donald Trump's treatment of women, would not just make headlines the next morning, but catch the ire of the future President. That exchange would propel Kelly into the spotlight in a way she didn't desire. It would require she get round-the-clock security, deal with hateful email and texts, as well as fear for her children's safety. How did she get to this point?

To understand where Megyn Kelly is in her life now, she takes the reader back to her childhood. She grew up with two loving parents, parents who did not accept excuses, and as Ms. Kelly likes to recall, "rejected the trophies for everyone mentality." Her early life was fairly normal, a typical middle class family. That was until her father died unexpectedly when she was in high school. Her father's death would have a profound impact on her life, and she discusses it openly with the reader.

After high school, Kelly went on to law school, and then found a job with a Chicago law firm. She moved up through the ranks, and was well on her way to making partner when she realized her law career was not fulfilling. Having always wanted to be a journalist, she took a big risk and pursued a new career path. It wasn't long before she had a job at a local news show and from there her career really took off. The second half of the book discusses Kelly's rise at Fox News as well as the events surrounding the 2016 election season.

Author Megyn Kelly writes an interesting memoir with her first book, Settle for More. She frequently shares her fears, joys, and difficult decisions during various points in her life, how she learned the difficult lessons that her parents worked hard to teach her, and how never settling for less than she felt she was due helped propel her forward. The best parts of the book are near the end, where she talks about her current job at Fox News as well as her fight with Donald Trump. Readers will learn what was going on behind closed doors that viewers were never privy to. For those who enjoy watching Megyn Kelly on television, this will be an entertaining read. If you've never watched her show (and she's just announced that she is moving to NBC to pursue new challenges), the book will make an interesting read as it shows how somebody with little managed to make it to the very top of her chosen field.

Quill says: Settle for More is an enjoyable read about a woman who excelled in two different careers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Interview with Author Diana Rowe @Anasbooks

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Diana Rowe, author of Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story

FQ: I was touched by your dedication – “to my beloved mother Millicent” – as well as other people in your family/life. Obviously, your mom means a lot to you, as does your family. Would you tell us a little about her, as well as what made her such a strong influence in your life?

ROWE: My mother is a humble, yet strong individual who loves and cares about people. I grew up watching my mother take a particular interest in people who are hurt, mistreated and poor. She often reminded my siblings and I that “we are never too poor to help others.” Every week my mother cooks and shares with the poor. Every Sunday morning, in Brooklyn, NY she helps to distribute food and clothing to those who are in need. I guarantee, this Sunday, even though it’s Christmas day, she will be doing just that. She never lost sight of the people around her who are in need. She sees each face with a compassionate glance and always tries to give from whatever she has no matter how small it maybe. My mother has made a tremendous impact on my life because she uses her life to make a daily difference in the community. Anna’s grandma in my book, Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story, captures my mother’s heart.

FQ: Before asking questions about your book, Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story, I think our readers would like to learn a little about you. I see from your bio that you’re a Christian Educator. How/why did you choose this for your career?

ROWE: I chose to be a Christian Educator because I love both God and His creation, especially people. My mom often helped children including those with special needs and I would see how they thrived because she treated each of them as individuals whom God loves. That truly inspired me to become a Christian Educator. Educating students (children and adults) go beyond the temporal. I believe that each person was created in the “image of God.” Thus, each person is valuable and that needs to be communicated in such a way that the students value themselves and fulfill their God-given potential.

FQ: What age children (or perhaps adults?) do you typically work with and what are some of the things you have learned about yourself from teaching them?

ROWE: I have worked with children from Kindergarten to high school and adults of various age groups. Some of the things I learned about myself from teaching are (1) I enjoy learning from each person regardless of their age or socio-economic background. (2) I love empowering each student to succeed. (3) I am happy when I can problem-solve to help someone else. (4) I have a significant role to play in the development of my community both locally and within the global context of creating a better society. (5) I appreciate the unity that emerges amid diversity.

FQ: I understand that you enjoy gospel and classical music. Do you sing or play an instrument? How does this help you grow closer to God?

ROWE: I love to sing. Singing to me is like making my prayer requests, my praise/adoration, and my gratitude to God a melodious “symphony of one.” Singing helps me to grow closer to God because I actually spend time with Him and allow the words of the song to teach me about His love for me and others. Additionally, I love to sing the words that are written in the Bible because it helps me to memorize them faster and also to remember that God is present in every situation and at all times. Singing also helps me to destress after a long day and promotes an atmosphere of gladness in my heart.

FQ: It’s so refreshing to read a Christmas story that truly focuses on the birth of Christ, while also bringing up the overabundance of material things Americans enjoy during the Christmas season. Was it important to you to include the mention of material things in your book?

ROWE: The mention of material things in my book was extremely important because the meaning of Christmas can get lost in overindulgence. It is important to be sensitive to people who cannot afford the gifts and the spread of “delicacies” that so many enjoy. It is interesting that you mention “Americans” because my upcoming dissertation relates to students from refugee backgrounds who are so appreciative of the “little” that is given to them. For many in America and around the world, this country is blessed with abundance and it should be shared with those who are in need. It is always good to remember that Christmas is bigger than the people who celebrate it. Therefore, each individual or family can participate in the celebration just as they are with an abundance of what they possess in their hearts instead of clamoring for material things.

FQ: And speaking of material things, I found the story of Anna and her grandmother, and their lack of material things, yet love of the holiday, very touching. Do you think this will help children consider their own relationship to “things” they want for Christmas?

ROWE: The lesson of benevolence and philanthropy has to be taught by the children’s care-givers. The true “wants” of Christmas can be viewed from the perspective of “what does the struggling, poor, and unfortunate person wants?” How can I fulfill the “wants” of a person in need? I recently worked with a group of students who were asked to meet with other unfortunate children and make a list of what the unfortunate children wanted for Christmas. Some of the lessons learned caused some of the children to look beyond receiving “things” and give more to others in need. One 8-year-old boy said, “I just want someone to read me a Christmas story because no one ever read me a Christmas story before.” I thought that was incredible. Something that can so easily be taken for granted was all that this boy wanted. He received many volunteers to read him a story, counting down to Christmas. These are some of the moments that can change children’s “relationship to things they want for Christmas.”

FQ: “...Anna understood that Jesus deserves everything that she has, starting with her heart of worship.” This is so important – how would you suggest we help children learn this very important lesson?

ROWE: We can help children to learn this important lesson by introducing them to a “God who loves them so much that He gave His only Son to die in their place.” Jesus gave everything when He gave His life. Recognizing that Jesus deserves our everything is crucial to giving “a heart of worship.” Each person has a heart. Therefore, each individual can afford to give their heart to Jesus because that is all He really wants. Teaching children how to give a “heart of worship” includes helping them to build a relationship with Jesus and totally depend on Him for everything both small and great things.
FQ: My favorite line in the book is “...God sent Jesus to those who are poor and to those who are rich.” In this very divided time in our country, the truth in this line needs to be learned by everybody. Any suggestions on how people can use God to come to peace with themselves, and all the turmoil around them?

ROWE: God loves all people everywhere around the globe. Unfortunately, many of these people are poor. It is also unfortunate that many of these people are rich (specifically when the riches are misused to oppress the poor). God is the only one who can really bring people of every class together. In this time of earth’s history, it is imperative for people to pray to the Almighty God in heaven because He “rules in the affairs of men” on earth. God is the great Problem-solver, Peacemaker, Deliverer, and Economy-stabilizer. God is full of mercy and love yet most people are afraid to ask for His help because they believe that they must be perfect in order to approach Him. That is not so. God is waiting patiently for leaders of this country and other countries around the world to simply ask Him for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to govern the nations with equality and justice without partiality.

It is important for the families in the homes to call upon God to direct their lives and give them the love they need to love and respect each person in the home. This will ultimately spill over into the larger society because families make up our society. Each person need to ask God to help him/her to be more “other-centered” not self-centered. Then we will begin to look for the good in others and do something good towards them, expecting nothing in return.

When it comes to peace, God really longs to give each person His peace which is different from what the world classifies as “peace.” God’s peace is present even in the midst of turmoil. That means the individual who totally trust in God to take care of him will not be envious, jealous, or worried about what others may have or become stressed out when things seem to be going wrong. God is able to keep those who trust Him in a state of calm with the assurance that He is in control and nothing can happen without His permission.

FQ: On your “Show Appreciation for the Gift” page, how did you choose the questions and what responses have you had from readers about their answers/their child’s answers?

ROWE: I chose the questions on the “Show Appreciation for the Gift” page by looking beyond the story and thinking about the readers. I believe that when God saw our dilemma on this earth, He didn’t just sit back in heaven and do nothing. The Bible says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...” (John 3:16). Therefore, God acted as a result of His love for us; He didn’t leave us to perish. Likewise, we also need to act as the recipient of such love.

I have had many responses from the questions on the “Show Appreciation for the Gift” page. One family sent me an email about their new family tradition which was about “making Christmas a time to give God’s love.” They decided to purchase copies of my book, Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story and give to the families and children they came in contact with during the month of December.

Another response was from a single mom who sent me a letter about her list of 5 things that she will do to “show the love of Jesus at Christmas.” Because Anna and her Grandma shared pies and cider in the story, this single mother bought five apple pies and five small bottles of apple ciders for five less-fortunate families. Also, she went to the nursing home and read the story to the men and women and they were very happy.

One child wrote me a letter telling me that she bought three copies of my book for her teacher and two friends at school because she wanted them to know about the real “Gift.” Recently, I received a letter from a Sunday school teacher who bought 25 copies of “Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story” for 25 children in her church ministry. After the children listened to the story, she asked them “Who do you want to share this book with so that they can know about God’s Gift?” To the Sunday school teacher’s surprise, all the children wanted to donate their personal copy of the book to another child who had none. She noted that “this book evokes a tremendous passion to be unselfish and simply consider the real Gift and how to become a giver.”

Another interesting response to the story was from a group of both adults and children who shared with me that they have “totally turned Christmas around by not buying any gifts for themselves, instead they bought gifts for the people at a local shelter and served them on Christmas day.” After dinner, they read “Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story” to all those who were present and many of the homeless individuals stated that “they did not know that Jesus is a Savior for both the rich and the poor. And the story made them feel included and loved by God.”

These are just a few of the personal responses that I have received through word of mouth, emails, and letters from my readers. This really touch my heart to know that my readers are making a difference in their community as they are inspired by my book, Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story. It’s a Christmas story that continues long after December 25 to remind each person that God loves them no matter who they are.

To learn more about Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#BookReview - The Guests on South Battery

The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street Series)

By: Karen White
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-0451475237
Reviewed by: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: January 4, 2017

Melanie Trenholm lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband Jack, her stepdaughter Nola, and her twins Sarah and JJ. Although on maternity leave, she is ready to go back to her job as a real estate agent. And while it may seem like she leads a normal life, she has an ability that many do not know about. Passed down through her family, Melanie is able to see and speak with the dead.

On her first day back to work, things do not go as planned. Melanie starts her day with her alarm clocks mysteriously stopping at ten after four in the morning and a mystery phone call with no one on the other end. Since she doesn’t believe in coincidences she knows that these occurrences have something in common, but she doesn’t know what. When she gets to work, after meeting the new receptionist, she finds that she already has a new client named Jayne waiting for her. After talking with Jayne, Melanie learns that her client has inherited a house from a prominent Charleston family. For Jayne, having been in and out of foster care her whole life, inheriting this house is a complete shock. Melanie agrees to take on the listing and offers to help Jayne figure out why she would inherit this house. While they are discussing the house, Melanie learns that Jayne is looking for a job as a nanny. Since her and Jayne agree on numerous parental topics, Melanie agrees to hire Jayne.

Although Jayne does not like old houses, she ultimately decides that she should renovate the house before she sells it. Since the work is being done by one of Melanie’s friends, Melanie agrees to help oversee the renovations. After just one visit to this house, Melanie’s sixth sense kicks in and she realizes there is more to this house than she thought. As odd things begin to happen every time Melanie is there she realizes she has to find out what really happened all those years ago and why Jayne inherited this house in the first place. With the help of her husband Jack, Melanie digs into the history of the house. As Jack begins to learn about the previous family, he finds that there is more to the story than people thought and that it involves Melanie and her family as well. Ultimately Melanie has to decide how much she is willing to do for a complete stranger.

The Guests on South Battery is a very captivating book. Each chapter leaves you wanting more - it is very hard to put down. Every detail and scenario that plays out in the book is very descriptive, making you feel like you are actually there and experiencing everything for yourself. Along with the mystery aspect, The Guests on South Battery provides great detail about Charleston. With the scene being set in the historic district of Charleston, the book is written in a way that shows just how much history is there.

Quill says: If you are looking for mystery with guests from the other side, as well as a story with plenty of historical mentions, this is the book for you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

#BookReview - Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love @Anasbooks

Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love

By: Diana Rowe
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1503542327
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 3, 2017

Every person who is familiar with the Bible knows that there is a big, empty space in the life of Jesus within its pages. We know of his birth, a little about his early days but then we don't read anything about him from age twelve through thirty. What did the young Jesus do during those years? In author Diana Rowe's children's book, Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love, she imagines what his life in Nazareth was like during those formative years.

According to the Bible (Luke 2:42), after the age of twelve, Jesus "advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." But what did he do? There is nothing in the Bible about that time. Was he busy learning the carpentry trade? Did he travel to other lands? Study with respected scholars? We don't know, we can only guess at what he might have done. In Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love, author Rowe, through the use of a lovable grandmother, creates a life for Jesus during those years, in order to make him more relatable to children so that they can grow closer to their Lord and Savior.

The book begins with Luke, a young boy who has many questions about Jesus. He decides to visit Anna and her grandmother (who we first met in Rowe's book Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story) because Anna shared her grandmother's story of Jesus with him. Surely they could answer all of his questions. Luke takes a bus to Anna's grandmother's house where he is met by his friend. Together with Anna's grandmother, they share a lovely lunch, do some gardening, and then head into the house to talk about Jesus.

Anna's grandmother tells both children about the early home life of Jesus in Nazareth, how he helped his mother, and temptations that faced him. Grandmother tells Luke about how difficult life was in Nazareth for Jesus, and Luke asks many questions. Grandmother's story discusses those unknown years of Jesus' life, and continues through his adult life, the agony in Gethsemane, and his dying on the cross to save us all. Grandmother's story ends with Jesus rising from the dead and all that he did so our sins can be forgiven.

This is the second of Diana Rowe's books that I have read and reviewed and I have enjoyed reading both of them. The story is a gentle way of introducing the life of Jesus to young readers and it was fun to read about what his life might have been like in Nazareth. The illustrations are bright, cheerful and appealing and add nicely to the book. The story runs 32 pages, but those pages are heavy with text so very young children, and those who don't like to sit for a long time, may need the story broken up into several readings. The author has divided the story up into nine chapters that will help parents section the book off into nightly readings. At the back of the book are numerous additional pages - on the first is a lovely poem, The Mighty Rose Arose! written by the author, followed on the next page by Luke's Prayer, three pages of questions listed as "Thoughts to Ponder," as well as a glossary of various difficult words and an Index. It is clear that the author has a deep love for our Lord and is eager to share his sacrifice with others.

Quill says: A lovely addition to the Christian Inspirational genre for young readers.

To learn more about Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love, please visit the website: www.mybookgarden.com

Monday, January 2, 2017

#BookReview - Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story @Anasbooks

Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story

By: Diana Rowe
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication Date: December 2014
ISBN: 978-1503519657
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 2017

So many people have forgotten what Christmas is truly about. Instead, they rush around, trying to find that perfect present, get their Christmas tree decorated, and bake a delicious dessert for their guests. But Christmas is about the birth of Christ, and how he was "born to die in my place." Author Diana Rowe has written a lovely book to remind all readers of this fact.

Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story begins by asking the reader what their favorite holiday is and why. From there, we explore the holiday of Christmas, and all the wonderful things associated with this very special holiday. The author talks about the mouthwatering food, the songs, and the gathering of families. And don't forget the presents! The wonderful presents! It sounds like so much fun, but then the author introduces the reader to Anna, a young girl who has a very different type of Christmas.

Anna lives with her grandmother and they are very poor. They don't have money for fancy presents, elaborate food or even a Christmas tree. But the holiday is still very special to Anna - she loves to sit by the fireplace and listen to her grandmother's stories. The rest of Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story is grandmother's retelling of the Christmas story, introducing young readers to Mary and Joseph and the story of the birth of Jesus.

Diana Rowe, the author of Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story has done a wonderful job of bringing the story of Christ's birth to young readers. In today's society where it seems like everything is about "me, me, me," it was certainly refreshing to read a children's book about the true meaning of Christmas. While the text was a bit small for a children's book, and there were some "big" words (scrumptiousness, exultant), that is a small point for such a nice book (and there's a glossary in the back of the book were those big words are defined). Within the story there were many places where the author asked the reader questions related to the text (ex., when talking about the long trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, she asks, "Wouldn't you be tired after walking those long hours?"). At the back of the book, along with the glossary, is a "Show Appreciation for the Gift" page with five questions that asks the reader to truly think about their relation to Jesus. Whether you're looking for a book for a Sunday school class or to teach your little one, you should consider Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story.

Quill says: A touching book, beautifully illustrated, that reminds young and old alike, what Christmas is really about.

To learn more about Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story, please visit the website: www.mybookgarden.com

#BookReview - The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2017

Editor: Sarah Janssen
Publisher: World Almanac; 2017 edition
Publication Date: December 2016
ISBN: 978-1600572050
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: January 2, 2017

It's always a good day when the new edition of The World Almanac and Book of Facts arrives at my office. By the time it arrives, the old edition is a bit tattered and worn and in need of replacement and I'm happy to start fresh with the new edition.

First published in 1868, this ultimate reference guide covers topics in the political sphere, economic trends, as well as scientific statistics. There's also a plethora of educational information, sports records and so much more. Are you looking for "landmark decisions" made by the U.S. Supreme Court? It's here. Do you have a high school senior in your house looking for the perfect college? There's an all-inclusive table of four-year colleges that includes tuition/fees, enrollment and the all important graduation rates. Not sure your child can get in that top college with his SAT score? Check out your state's mean SAT scores in another table. There is so much covered in this reference guide that it's impossible to do more than lightly scratch the surface of what's inside its pages with a review.

New this year in The World Almanac and Book of Facts are several features including "2016 Election Results" - with just the facts - a perfect way to continue that political discussion and dazzle your opponent with the statistics/facts. A new "Statistical Spotlight" that provides statistics for the top stories of 2016 makes for fun reading while the "Top 10 News Topics for 2016" help round out the selections.

Every year when I receive the newest edition of The World Almanac and Book of Facts, I spend some time simply flipping through the pages to see what will catch my attention. I tend to lose track of time as I sift through the topics and inevitably learn quite a few tidbits about all sorts of things. Beyond the 'fun facts' that you'll find in this book, however, is information on everything you could possible need. I suspect that if the information is not found in this reference guide, then you will have a hard time finding it anywhere. Updated with several new topics and "Spotlights," this new edition is definitely worth purchasing. If you haven't seen this indispensible book in a while, or you don't have one at your desk, it's time to check it out!

Quill says: There's a reason The World Almanac and Book of Facts is the country's all-time top-selling reference book. If you don't have one in your office, you need to get one now.