Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Feathered Quill #BookAwards

Time is running out to take advantage of our "early bird" discounted nomination rate for the Feathered Quill Book Awards. Nominate before Sept. 1 to enjoy the reduced rate (and give our judges a nice start on reading all the books!). Learn more at: 

#BookReview - Donna

Donna (The Girls of Spindrift Book 2)

By: V.C. Andrews
Publisher: Pocket Star Books
Publication Date: August 2017
Review by: Jennifer Rearick
Review date: August 29, 2017

A prequel to Bittersweet Dreams, this e-novella gives the reader needed background on one of the main characters from Bittersweet Dreams, and also makes for a very good read.

Donna isn't your typical high school student. While she goes to school like any other teen, her life is anything but normal. Donna is what some would call a genius. She knows just about everything there is to know about any given subject. Although she goes to school, and has to take the same tests as everyone else, her schooling is very different. She keeps to herself. Since she already knows what the teachers are teaching, she spends her time digging deeper into subjects and trying to learn something new.

Whether she is in school or at home, she always thinks about things factually instead of with emotion. Whenever she is asked a question, she always has to think about the facts and logistics of the question or situation before answering.

Although she is trying to get out of her own head, it's a daily struggle. While she is hanging out with one of her only friends, Greg, he asks if she would be interested in going to the beach with him and some of his friends. He thinks it would be a great way for her to interact with some of his friends and since they both kind of like each other, it's a plus for them both. Donna immediately tells him that she will think about it. While she is in her classroom she contemplates the good and the bad of going with him. Then, as she is walking the hall between classes, she sees Greg with another girl. Seeing this makes Donna a little jealous and she tells Greg that she would love to go to the beach with him. Although Donna is still nervous about hanging out with Greg and his friends, she is also a little excited.

Finally the anticipated day has arrived. At first when they get to the beach they are having a fun time. As the day goes on, and Greg's friends have been drinking, they do not take well to Donna. When Greg and Donna decide to leave, everything spirals out of control. Donna and Greg soon find themselves in a situation that will change their lives forever.

Donna is one of the e-novella prequels for Bittersweet Dreams (see also Corliss, book 1 of The Girls of Spindrift prequels.) This book gives the reader some background information on one of the main characters, Donna, and will help guide the reader into the main book. It is very well written and not only gives you the information you need, but draws you into the main novel, Bittersweet Dreams. It is definitely a page-turner. Through each page it will leave you guessing and wondering how and why Donna ended up where she did.

Quill says: If you are looking for a book about a group of talented individuals, check out this new series, and be sure to read Donna before digging into Bittersweet Dreams.

Monday, August 28, 2017

#BookReview - The Inside Story

The Inside Story

By: William LeRoy
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: November 2014
ISBN: 978-0991448036
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: August 28, 2017

Tricksters, archenemies, and unveiled secrets abound as the plot thickens in author William LeRoy’s sequel to The Same Old Story.

It is Christmas 1998, nearly two months since the mysterious death of Johnny D’Agostino on Halloween night. The story opens with a televised news show reporting on an altercation that goes awry between people closely connected with JohnnyD. As a result, a person is supposedly dead, and Captain Patrick Riley arrests one of his men, Peter Angelo, charging him with the murder. Regardless of the arrest, Peter, who investigated JohnnyD’s case, is confident that Matt Finley—one of the people caught up in the mysterious love triangle with JohnnyD—is JohnnyD’s murderer. Further investigation into JohnnyD reveals that Johnny wasn’t a “he” as many believed, but a “she.” Even more noteworthy is the fact that Johnny is the niece of the notorious local gangster—as well as Riley’s longtime nemesis—Bruno Giordano.

But in the “new universe of virtual [or cyber] reality,” which seems to have been “created overnight,” JohnnyD is not the only person with a dual identity. Captain Riley determines to find out the truth about JohnnyD’s case. But the more he investigates, the more the facts become convoluted. It doesn’t help that it appears that “the devious head of Internal Affairs” is waging psychological warfare against him to undermine his standing as police chief. In fact, Riley feels as though he is “trapped in a boardwalk fun house at the beach, surrounded by chaotic reflections from warped mirrors.” It’s not until he studies the cryptic text messages leading up to JohnnyD’s death that Riley feels challenged to not only re-evaluate his stance on the case but also does a bit of introspection in the process. Amid all the confusion, more twists and turns ensue as the case draws to its outcome.

Readers who thought The Same Old Story was replete with multiple plot twists are in for a big surprise when they get started with LeRoy’s sequel, The Inside Story. LeRoy shifts gears from alternating viewpoints between Peter and Matt to take his audience through behind-the-scene situations connected to JohnnyD's case. A bit dizzying but fascinating, LeRoy's plot will keep readers hopping as he introduces a plethora of new and multifaceted characters, many of which are used as red herrings.

Over the course of three days beginning with Christmas 1998, LeRoy packs his story with seemingly out-of-the-blue people and accounts that tightly tie to JohnnyD's life. One would think that with additional clues, there would be more clarity to the mysterious case. Not necessarily so. With each new situation comes added confusion, especially when many of the new characters become shifty. That said, it is easy to throw them into the mix of possible murder suspects.

In the midst of plot perplexity, LeRoy jabs at religion (primarily the Catholic Church since there are plenty of Irish overtones), conservative religious views, politics, and sex. The latter continues with the nostalgic romance stories, operas, and movies from The Same Old Story with additional nuances. He also includes some Bostonian history connections with Irish immigrants. Of particular interest is the way LeRoy coincides dual identities with the advent of the Internet and chat rooms. In reality, the new form of communication provided many opportunities for people to disguise their true personalities.

Quill says: The Inside Story will keep mystery and melodrama aficionados hopping until the very end.

#BookReview - Shadow Girl

Shadow Girl (An Afton Tangler Thriller)

By: Gerry Schmitt
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-0425281789
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: August 22, 2017

Author Gerry Schmitt is at it again in her second "Afton Tangler" thriller, creating a tense, gripping story that will have you hanging on every word.

Shadow Girl gets a quick start with a helicopter crash within the first few pages. The helicopter was just minutes from arriving at the University of Minnesota Hospital, transporting not people, but medical cargo, when it gets hit with a surface-to-air missile. Immediately called to the scene are Detective Max Montgomery and Family Liaison Officer Afton Tangler, both of the Minneapolis Police Department. The two are at a loss to explain why somebody would want to shoot down a helicopter that was only carrying medical cargo - a heart.

As Afton and Max begin their investigation, they learn that the heart was meant for Leland Odin, a very sick, but also very wealthy, millionaire who is the founder of a bustling home shopping network. In fact, he was actually "on the table," with his surgeons prepping him, when the helicopter was shot down. Afton and Max initially suspect that the attack has something to do with Leland's business, or his wife, or maybe that really beautiful host who is probably responsible for selling more on Leland's shopping network than any other personality.

The future for Leland isn't very bright unless he gets another heart and that looks unlikely. Wasting away in the hospital, Leland is attacked - and killed. Why would somebody want the man dead? Afton, who dreams of one day moving beyond the "Family Liaison Officer" title and becoming a detective, works the case harder than anyone, taking a few more chances than she should. And with those risks, come several dangerous people who want to get Afton off their tail, and are willing to go through her children - and dog - if necessary. But beware, if you go after Afton's family, you might be the one in danger.

Shadow Girl is the first Afton Tangler book that I've read and I have to say that I'm hooked. The dialog is spot-on and the action is well-paced to keep the reader turning the page. This is not your typical "who-dunnit" mystery as we know early on who the culprit(s) is, although it does take a little while to figure out the "why." However, there is definitely a sense of urgency as the bad guys plot and plan their next move and whether Afton and Max will come out safe in the end. And kudos to Afton's French bulldog, Bonaparte - the little dog with a big attitude. I look forward to seeing where the author takes Afton Tangler next.

Quill says: Another great thriller in the Afton Tangler series. I'm looking forward to the next in this series, and think that Afton certainly deserves a promotion to detective after this case!

#BookReview - Soaring Soren

Soaring Soren: When French Bulldogs Fly

By: Deborah Stevenson
Illustrated by: Morgan Spicer
Publisher: Aperture Press
Publication Date: October 2016
ISBN: 978-0997302059
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: August 2017

Soren is an adorable French Bulldog who is on a mission - to prove that dreams can come true, especially if you work hard to obtain them. And he wants to take your child along with him on his adventure.

Soaring Soren is based on the true story of Soren, a little French Bulldog who traveled all the way from Denmark to the United States to become a top-notch show dog for his owner Deborah Stevenson. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for Soren because as he grew, he grew a little too much. He was too tall for the strict showing standards required of French Bulldogs. What would Soren do? There was no doubt that Deb truly loved and adored him so maybe Soren was destined to simply become a lap dog.

One day while Deb was outside watching her beloved dog play, she noticed that Soren loved to run fast and jump quite high. Hmmm....maybe Soren would make a good agility dog. But everybody knows that French Bulldogs are too slow, too heavy, their legs are too short, and, well, they just can't do agility. But they didn't know Soren. He adored Deb and would do anything for her. He also loved the fast-paced training required for agility, and soon he loved participating in agility trials too. Soren was about to change the minds of those who doubted him but would he be good enough to earn an agility championship? Dreams do come true if you work hard and never give up...

Soaring Soren is a totally delightful story of one dog's efforts to make his, and his owner's, dream come true. With a positive message of working hard, and never giving up, children will be inspired to reach for their dreams too. The illustrations are quite nice, and fit well with the happy mood set by the story. In addition, with Soren's happy face and big, brown eyes appearing in almost every drawing, the artwork really brings out the personality of Soren. At 37 pages, there's a bit more text than restless 4 or 5 year olds may sit through, so for the youngest readers, you may need to break the story up into 2 or 3 bedtime readings.

Quill says: Soaring Soren helps teach children that with a little hard work, if they can dream it, they can achieve it. A wonderful message and a delightful book.

For more information on Soaring Soren: When French Bulldogs Fly please visit the publisher's website at: www.FrogPrinceBooks.net

#BookReview - Piece By Piece

Piece By Piece

By: Stephanie Shaw
Illustrated by: Sylvie Daigneault
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-1585369997
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: August 22, 2017

A talented weaver, beautiful memories, a dream to better the lives of her children and a cruel shopkeeper all come together in the wonderful new children's book, Piece By Piece.

As the story opens, we meet a weaver who is collecting memories along a beach while her three children play near the water's edge. The weaver puts the memories - "the crunch of leaves, the springiness of moss, the leap and splash of a fish" - into her collection basket. That night, as her children sleep, the weaver sits at her loom and weaves the day's memories into her fabric.
The next day, the children ask their mother about the different fabrics she has made:

"Tell us where this came from."

The weaver held a piece of fabric to her nose. "Ah." She smiled. "The sweetness of a puppy!"

"What else?"

"The breath of a hot air balloon as it floats against a morning sky, and the squish of mud between your toes."

The weaver soon has a beautiful dress she's made from the "memory" fabrics and she is hopeful that the shopkeeper in the village will pay a good price for the dress. With that money, she plans to buy food, shoes, and perhaps even a few treats for her three children. Unfortunately, the shopkeeper is a curmudgeon who does not appreciate the beautiful memories woven into the lovely dress. First he demands that the weaver remove the top that has "starlight and candle glow," woven into it, and when the weaver returns the next day, he, and his wife, say that other parts of the dress must be removed if they are to sell it. They're convinced that the memories woven into the dress are utter nonsense. Soon, there is nothing left but a small piece of fabric that holds "...the wishes from a dandelion on a summer's day." Heartbroken, the weaver leaves the shop, as her dreams seem to float away...

Piece By Piece is a lovely children's fairy tale (with a happy ending) about reaching for your dreams. With just a little bit of magical flair thrown in to capture the imagination of young readers, the story moves along at a perfect pace. I've included more quotes from the story than I typically do to show the reader that the author has a real talent for writing descriptive lines that truly bring the magic of the story to life. Add in the truly beautiful illustrations and you have the makings of a new classic fairy tale.

Quill says: I loved everything about this book. Borrowing a few lines from the story that the author used to describe the weaver's fabrics, I'd like to use them here to describe this book: "It was rich. Exquisite. Unique."

Friday, August 25, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Lisa Stauder

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Lisa Stauder, author of Imprint

FQ: Imprint is based on very real experiences in your life. Can you tell readers a bit about your gifts and how they’ve grown to become acceptable/easier to live with in this day and age?

STAUDER: Well, Imprint is a Fiction book with a mix of real it in. I do see and hear spirits and learn more and more every day how to listen to the messages that are coming through. People are more and more open to the idea that we can communicate with loved ones who have passed so, the messages are easier to share compared to 30 years ago, at least for me...

FQ: Do you feel in the 21st century that the sphere of everything from angels to spirits to seeing those who have passed, etc., have become part of the norm?

STAUDER: Certainly there are far more books, as well as TV series that touch upon these subjects. Absolutely! People are more and more open to the idea that we can communicate with loved ones who have passed so, the messages are easier to share compared to 30 years ago, at least for me... When you tell someone a message and validate the information in a way that there is no explanation HOW I would know that - it's powerful.

FQ: When and why did you decide to write this book? Was it therapeutic for you in a way?

STAUDER: A few years ago, I was a single mom who just got laid off. I had always said I was going to get back to writing. So, instead of saying I was unemployed, I declared that I was a writer. Then, one night I woke up at 3am and started writing. The following 31 days after that, each night at the same time, I woke up with another chapter coming out... It was very therapeutic as well as a little scary. I was announcing to the world that I see and hear spirits and not everyone knew that about me. I feel very liberated now that it is out! I originally wrote it for my kids. Then others started reading it... Two years ago our 21 year old son passed away. The cliche' "LIFE IS SHORT" became a harsh reality for me. So, publishing my book was one of my "someday I am going to do that" things and I realized I had to stop living that way. Life IS short - do what you love NOW! Just go for it! So, that is why I published the book.

FQ: Looking into the future and, after having this writing experience, do you see yourself delving into writing more books? And would you be interested in writing in other genres to reach out to more readers?

STAUDER: I have many books in the works now and I am enjoying traveling around and speaking to groups as well. There are so many of us who have experienced similar gifts and it is fun to talk with them. It is also great to have open discussions as to WHY certain things happen in life. Is there a deeper meaning, what is the bigger picture, is there a soul agreement for whatever happened? It is great to explore the why's.

FQ: You speak about the Pequot Indians and various historical events that played out in the Eastern half of the U.S. Do you like doing research?

STAUDER: I do! However, that information was unknown to me as I was writing the book. The information came to me - I later double checked to see if it was somewhat accurate but again - it is a fiction book so some of it might not be historically accurate.

FQ: Do you have a favorite author? If so, who would that be and why?

STAUDER: I am a book nerd so I read everything! I love self help books. I have 5 kids so I also read what they are reading. I have read every Harry Potter book (Yup - I was the parent with the kids at midnight at the book store when they released a new book!) I read the Twilight series, The divergent series, Hunger Games series etc.... It is a great way to keep up with what the kids are in to and great fun as a family! I have to say that I love the stories of HOW people came to write their story. I love reading author bios!

FQ: Can you tell readers a bit about your public/motivational speaking? Is there a particular story that you can relay in regards to a memorable meet you had at one of your events?

STAUDER: I love connecting with people. My goal is to help people through tough situations and heal... Sometimes you plan for what you are going to cover and then it goes a completely different direction. The energy in the room sometimes determines what topics we will uncover. I was at an event and a young woman came up to me to introduce herself. When she was a child she came to some of my speaking engagements with her mom so it was great fun getting to hear her journey and validating for me that I am on the right path to helping people heal as they move through life situations.

FQ: If you had to pick, what would be the one thing/lesson/point you’d like readers to take away from Imprint?

STAUDER: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. I spent so many years trying to "fit in" and have approval from others that I was not living my authentic self. Now, I am not only empowered to BE ME but, I am able to help others be accepting of who they are and make an impact in other people's lives.

FQ: If people wish to speak to you further about their own gifts, is there a place they can reach you with questions?

STAUDER: Yes! I am on Facebook and love to get messages and videos from readers. I also answer emails at ImprintByLisa@gmail.com

To learn more about Imprint please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

#BookReview - Imprint


By: Lisa Stauder
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5487-4045-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 25, 2017

Remember those days of “imaginary friends?” What if those days didn’t end upon maturation? What if those friends turned out to be a whole heck of a lot more? Well...after reading Imprint, not only will readers have a cool time, learn about an interesting piece of history, and be able to meet, greet and relate to a variety of characters, but readers will also find themselves questioning whether or not we simply “accept” the norm because it’s easier than making waves.

Leah is a seventeen-year-old girl who has been ‘traveling’ in her dreams for years. She has been able to see and hug those who have gone before, and even has the ability to take back messages to the rest of the family. For example: she met up with her great grandmother and brought a message back to her grandmother in regards to a treasure of sorts that was hidden underneath the floorboards of her grandparents’ house. In addition, Leah has always heard and seen, mind you, since she was a toddler, two girls named Amy and Jessica. Not just in dreams, but during the day, as well. Leah’s mother believed that it was one of those adorable traits when she was a kid, although Leah’s father knew it was more than that. As Leah grew, her mother became more and more frustrated by these various ‘gifts’ her daughter had, while Dad was simply waiting for a time to explain to Leah what they were all about and how to use them properly.

Soon, Leah’s horizon is opened by her father’s side of the family. She is taught many things about her abilities, dating back to 1641 and the Pequot tribe that lived in what became the State of Connecticut. Leah learns facts in regards to how people lived and exited the earth at one time before subscribing to the “normal” way in order to not scare people. She was also shown a place called ‘The Labyrinth’ which ends up being a core piece of the story.

As the reader follows Leah through her own path of enlightenment, many things are touched upon from the true art of tattooing, to ‘traveling’ in other bodies, viewing incidents both bad and good happening in life, the theory of guardian angels, a family’s attempt at understanding and acceptance, and the wisdom and spirituality of grandparents as they bestow the future generations information they should be aware of in order to live a full life.

As it is with prejudice in other forms, there are a great many who make fun of those who believe they have abilities that cannot be proven, so to speak, by scientific fact. However, everyone has these gifts; they simply choose to go with the “norm” and give titles to the unknown, such as déjà vu, in order to explain them away. Imprint gives an interesting take on this gift. The only downside to this book is the formatting troubles. There is punctuation left out, as well as tabs omitted so that at times the actual structure of the paragraphs is a bit messy. Although these issues may, to some readers, detract from the book (which is unfortunate), it is important to remember that this author has not only put together a fun story, but she has also put her own experiences on paper in a tale that can be enjoyed. And a tale that, perhaps, will have people stop closing the door on something that is labeled “unknown.”

Quill says: It is true that we leave an imprint on other peoples’ lives. This is a great read for those who want to laugh, love, and learn about that imprint.


For more information on Imprint, please visit the author's website at: www.LisaStauder.com

Monday, August 21, 2017

#AuthorInterview with J.R. Klein

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with J.R. Klein, author of The Ostermann House

FQ: In The Ostermann House, Michael discovers what appears to be a nonagram in their basement and others randomly appear throughout the story. Can you explain to potential readers what is the significance of a nonagram?

KLEIN: The nonagrams are the connection between Herman Ostermann, who once owned the house, and the power source that is focused on the property. The number nine, which is part of the nonagram itself and is a number that reappears many times in the book, has historical connections to the occult, the paranormal, and the supernatural. As the reader will see, the significance of those to the nonagrams becomes apparent at the end of the book.

FQ: It is often said that science and the paranormal don’t mix. As a person who has a PhD in Immunology, do you believe in the paranormal?

KLEIN: As a scientist with a PhD, I think that there are many things in the universe about which we know little. Some of these even border on seemingly paranormal events that may be connected in perfectly ordinary ways, though we don’t know how or why this is as yet. When I am not in the laboratory, it is fun to let my mind go and create alternate universes that come out in books like The Ostermann House.

Author J.R. Klein

FQ: Over the years you’ve written for many scholarly journals and magazines. How has the writing process been different for you now that you’ve been writing novels?

KLEIN: It is really quite different. In writing about science for scholarly journals, it is important to stick to what we know, to stick to the facts. The beauty, and the fun, of writing fiction is that you can let your mind wander, particularly when it comes to fantasy, sci-fi, or the paranormal. You can create your own world-view that straight science doesn’t permit.

FQ: Are any of your characters based on anyone in your life?

KLEIN: Probably all of my characters are drawn to some degree from various people I have known, though not from just one person. Often, a character in a book is an amalgam of these people. But then, too, the beauty of writing fiction is that you can go beyond what you have known and add personal features and characteristics that make a character become completely unique. It is like painting a picture of a scene in the city or the countryside and then adding or subtracting from it in order to give the new image a special and different essence.

FQ: Why did you choose to write a thriller novel primarily based on the paranormal?

KLEIN: The idea for the story came while my wife and I were traveling in central Texas from Houston where we lived. We had gone down a dirt road out in the country and came upon an old farmhouse. On the property was a barn and a pond and a small graveyard out on the back of the pasture. For some reason, an old abandoned school bus was out there as well. I incorporated all of those into the story. The house was on the outskirts of a small town that in the book became Krivac.
When I got home, I kept thinking about how perfect this would be as a setting for a thriller – something spooky and weird – all connected to the house, the property, and the town. The paranormal part grew naturally into to the book as events transpired. Having just published a book of literary fiction (Frankie Jones), I was looking for a different kind of a challenge. I have always enjoyed thrillers of all kinds.

FQ: Who are some of your favorite authors?

KLEIN: I like a range of authors. For horror, thrillers, and suspense, Stephen King and Dean Koontz are on the top of the list, of course. But I also love good literary fiction. Probably one of my favorite authors is Patrick Modiano. His work is almost surrealistic. It floats back and forth between the past and the present in the most elegant sort of way.

FQ: I really appreciate the cover design on The Ostermann House. Though it is simply a picture of the farmhouse depicted in the story, it gives readers a great sense of foreboding and creepiness that you feel throughout the book. Is this cover based on a real-life house?

KLEIN: Yes, it is very similar to the house we came across while we were traveling through central Texas. It was weather-worn but inhabited, and fairly-well kept up for its age. It looked like it had a multitude of stories, good and bad, hidden somewhere inside – the perfect place to begin the journey into the book.

FQ: Are there any future novels in the works that your fans can look forward to reading?

KLEIN: I have a novel that I recently completed that would certainly fall into the horror/suspense category. It takes place at a college in a small town in Vermont. In the centuries-old library building, a pair of students inadvertently stumble upon a passage that leads to an ancient ceremonial altar chamber deep underground, where medieval occult rituals are being performed. All is fine until something very dark and very dangerous is unleashed.

To learn more about The Ostermann House please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

#BookReview - The Ostermann House

The Ostermann House

By: J.R. Klein
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-1544815053
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: August 19, 2017

Married couple Michael and Audrey Felton are hardworking professors at a local university in Houston, Texas. Together they decide that they desperately need to get away from their strenuous jobs, and purchasing a house in the country, isolated from the craziness of Houston, but not too far, is just what they want for their much-needed respite. After spending considerable time in search of the perfect place, they are just about to give up when their real estate agent presents them with a house in the small town of Krivac. Despite some initial misgivings, Michael and Audrey purchase the property, known locally as the Ostermann House. Sure, the house is a one hundred and seventeen-year-old fixer upper with a possibly dubious past, but they were hard-pressed to find a farmhouse complete with land, a barn and in a remote location, for such a low price anywhere else.

A month later, the Feltons are happily settling into their new vacation home by keeping themselves busy cleaning, painting and furnishing the place. During the home inspection, a mysterious stone doorway was discovered in the basement, and now Michael, who can no longer stand the suspense of wondering what it is, decides to painstakingly remove the old bits of stone until he is able to slip through to what appears to be a dank, creepy, but basically empty room. On his way out he manages to discover an unusual coin-like object stuck in the dirt floor that has nine flat sides and a few odd symbols on it. To rid himself of the eerie feeling he’s having, he makes a decision to eventually completely knock down the walled-in doorway, and open it up to the entire room.

Time continues to rush by for Michael and Audrey, and except for occasional and odd encounters with the locals, things continue to be positive for them. While Michael appears to sometimes be disturbed by the wildly crazy stories told by these locals relating to the old owners of their home, Audrey simply chalks it up to the locals trying to test the nerves of the newbies in town. However, things start to take a sinister turn for the worse after Audrey leaves Krivac to return to her job in Houston, leaving Michael behind and alone in the house. Words mysteriously appear on computer screens, and objects disappear and reappear in other locations; it all seems as if someone is somehow getting into their house, but security cameras say otherwise. The tension escalates when not only do bizarre things happen outside the home on their property, but the town police officer, Rainey, makes matters worse by telling Michael tales of the crazy happenings of the previous owners, only to deny ever speaking with him, on another day. As time passes, an increasing amount of scary events take place forcing the Feltons to consider selling their home and ridding themselves of the Ostermann property and the whole strange town of Krivac. Unfortunately, their hesitation comes at a considerable price near the end as they are forced to abandon their quest to find out what’s causing all this paranormal activity, and to immediately flee from their vacation home. But will they be successful, or will they be victims of something that is not only greater than themselves, but greater than all humanity?

Author J.R Klein is a master at crafting tales of paranormal suspense. Readers will easily look past the simple and sometimes overused plot, and will become quickly engaged in The Ostermann House for what it really is, a well-written novel that is so creepy you may want to turn on music so as not to scare yourself too much while you’re deeply engrossed in reading this page-turner. The characters, even the strange-acting townspeople, are realistic and likable, and definitely set the tone for a disturbing story that displays an increasing urgency to find out what went on at the Ostermann property years ago, and how it relates to what the current owners are being subjected to. Many scenes unfold at a slow, detailed pace but Klein has the ability to keep readers not only engaged throughout, but craving more.

Readers should be advised that the ending of The Ostermann House may come as not only a shocker, but a disappointing and jarring end to an otherwise great paranormal suspense story. Events and occurrences throughout seem as if they could be a part of real-life situations right up until the ending. If you’re looking for a read that has a predictable and tidy finish, perhaps even leaving readers on a positive note because the characters resolved their conflict, look elsewhere; this is not the book for you. If however, you are a fan of the paranormal who has a passion for the tension and suspense in these type of stories, and enjoys a considerably twisted ending, this book is a must-read.

Quill says: The Ostermann House is a fast-paced ominous tale for fans who love to read a good paranormal suspense that will keep you thoroughly engaged right up until a whammy in the ending.


For more information on The Ostermann House, please visit the author's website at: www.johnrklein.com

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nominations Are Open! #BookAwards

It's that time of year again ... nominations are now open for the Feathered Quill Book Awards. We are currently offering an "Early Bird" discounted nomination rate until Sept. 1 (so judges can start reading now - it really helps them with all the books they have to read). We have a few new categories this year AND now include "Judges' Comments" for all entries. Learn more and nominate at:

#BookReview - Dog Dish of Doom

Dog Dish of Doom: An Agent to the Paws Mystery

By: E.J. Copperman
Illustrated By: David Baldeosingh Rotstein
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-08427-9
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: August 17, 2017

After finishing law school, Kay Powell wanted to start her own business and the one thing she knew for sure was that she preferred working with animals over people. With a background in theatre, as her parents are both stage actors and she was once involved in their act growing up, she decides to start an agency that represents animal actors. Little does she know how this will change her life...

With her new business, Kay sees all kinds of animal talent from many different species including cats, birds, reptiles, and even dolphins. Her latest client, however, is a lovable dog named Bruno. As soon as Kay meets Bruno she can see he has potential to be a great actor for he’s obedient, calm, and above all has a face that all of the audience will fall in love with. Unfortunately, Bruno’s owners Trent and Louise Barclay are not as simple to deal with, making it twice as hard for Kay to seal a contract for Bruno. For you see, Kay is so close to getting Bruno the part of the dog Sandy in the play Annie, if only she can convince Trent to keep his opinions to himself about the director, Les McMaster.

After some negotiation with both parties, Kay thinks she has the role captured for Bruno and is proud of her client’s bright future, but everything takes a drastic turn when the next morning she is informed that Trent Barclay has been murdered. Suddenly Bruno’s future is not so bright as an investigation starts to find a motive for Trent’s murder. This is when Kay finds herself in an odd predicament - she represents Bruno and by all means wants to look out for his best interest and keep him safe. However, if someone was angry enough to murder Trent then Bruno could possibly be in danger too. The situation becomes even stranger when Trent’s wife, Louise Barclay, accuses Kay of dog napping the morning of Bruno’s first rehearsal. Louise doesn’t seem to recall that Kay called her many times to arrange a drop off time for Bruno. Instantly distraught, Louise tries to get Kay arrested, but is quickly told there is no grounds for arrest. Louise, angry with the whole situation, storms away leaving her dog yet again with Kay.

Because Kay is in the center of all the theatre drama, Detective Rodriguez, who has been assigned the case, asks for Kay’s help in searching for clues. At first Kay is a little apprehensive for shouldn’t the police handle all of this business? But then, knowing that the safety of her client Bruno is in her hands, she agrees to help and soon uncovers a dog pile of secrets.

Before I even started to read this book I was pulled in by the unique main character of Kay Powell, for being an agent to the animals is just such a fun and creative place to start. Then throwing in a lovable dog like Bruno, I was instantly hooked to the bond this pair had throughout the story. It was perfect for the reader to see the dog’s perspective in a unique way for the main character keeps the reader in tune with all that is transpiring with Bruno, while still keeping up with a fun dialogue between the human characters. This is a great first novel in this series and I’ll be looking for the second one.

Quill says: Could not ask for a more unique and fun story!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#Book Review - A Measure of Murder

A Measure of Murder: A Sally Solari Mystery

By: Leslie Karst
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 2017
ISBN: 978-1-68331-018-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 15, 2017

Leslie Karst tantalizes her audience with her savory new ‘Sally Solari Mystery’: A Measure of Murder.

Sally Solari is a busy gal. Her balancing act includes working in her family’s Italian restaurant, Solari’s on one hand, while planning the autumn menu for Gauguin, the restaurant she inherited from her aunt on the other. Sally also loves to sing and joins a chorus. It was a no-brainer to join when she learned it would be performing a newly discovered version of her favorite Mozart composition, the Mozart Requiem. On her first night of rehearsal at the church, accomplished tenor, Kyle, falls to his death in the church courtyard. His soprano girlfriend Jill isn’t convinced this was an accident. Jill knew Sally solved the mystery of her aunt’s untimely death; which happened to be murder and convinces Sally to dig deeper into Kyle’s death.

Matters become more complex in Sally’s life as rehearsals intensify and demands at both restaurants escalate. Tempers and jealousies are rearing their ugly heads at rehearsals. To add to her challenges, when a fire breaks out during a busy service at Gaugin’s one evening, Sally is more than convinced the reason behind the fire is because she was getting closer to establishing murder as the real reason for Kyle’s unfortunate death. The fire may have been a setback, but it doesn’t deter Sally from forging forward to solve the mystery. What she doesn’t know is more greed, jealousy, secrets and another death lies in wait in her path ahead.

Leslie Karst creates a great recipe of mystery and intrigue in her latest novel. Like a culinary master, she has mixed up a batch of yummy characters who are full of zest and individual personality. She has accomplished the golden rule when it comes to writing a murder mystery in that she delivers the body to her audience in a timely fashion. There is a nice ebb and flow throughout this read of rich and engaging scene set ups that is followed by equally credible dialogue. At story’s end, the reader is treated to the bonus of a handful of recipes in the back of the book—recipes that were showcased in the story. I find this to be innovative as much as creative when an author shines a light on yet another facet of their creative ability. I have not had the pleasure of reading Ms. Karst’s first book in her Sally Solari Mystery series and hope to do so at some point in the future. Meanwhile, I give a thumb’s up to A Measure of Murder. It’s a well-rounded murder mystery without a lot of blood and gore, but certainly a bounty of ‘who done it’ at the turn of each page.

Quill says: A Measure of Murder is the perfect recipe of one-part mystery and two parts engaging which makes for a dish served well with a glass of wine and a comfy chair.

#BookReview - How To Change a Life

How to Change a Life

By: Stacey Ballis
Publisher: Berkeley
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-0-425-27662-4
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 15, 2017

Foodie novelist Stacey Ballis is back and delivers yet another delightful read in her latest novel, How to Change a Life.

Eloise has a comfortable life. She is a successful private chef and couldn’t ask for more perfect clients. Her corgi sidekick, Simca, is the only member of her immediate family which is fine by her. Eloise reflects on her high school years and experiences a pang of melancholy when she thinks of her ‘besties’ Lynne and Teresa. She thinks about Mrs. O’Connor and how she was the one teacher who made a difference in Eloise’s life. Aside from her loving parents, Mrs. O’Connor helped Eloise see there was more to her life than being an Olympic contender once those dreams were quashed due to an injury in her senior year. Time moves forward, friends move on and here she is today, months away from her 40th birthday. When she receives the sad news of Mrs. O’Connor’s passing, Eloise had no idea the event would end up being yet another gift of wisdom and hope from her dearly departed teacher.

How fitting the three women would reunite at Mrs. O’Connor’s funeral. They became fast friends in high school thanks to Mrs. O’Connor. When they reconnect, they decide to reignite the flame to their senior class assignment. Each girl was to make a list of things to accomplish before their respective fortieth birthdays in a few, short months. Lynne is a successful advertising executive and has no time for domestic responsibilities. She must get a dog. Teresa has mastered the art of being the perfect mom and homemaker. Her role of wife could use some spicing up and her challenge is to do just that. Eloise has been off the dating scene for more than a decade which is more than too long. Her goal is to start dating again. While the occasion for the reunion was a solemn one, it doesn’t take long for the three to rekindle their friendships. Or maybe the years have paved the way to show their true colors. Perhaps the resurrection of their ‘bucket list’ wasn’t such a great idea after all. Only time will tell if the three women make it to forty together with friendships intact or perhaps they will find themselves achieving their goals solo.

Stacey Ballis is the quintessential author when it comes to spinning a light and balanced read. How to Change a Life introduces three women (besties in high school) years later and Ms. Ballis manages to craft events and dialogue to portray a ‘that was then, this is now’ allure which is believable. The level of drama is tempered, but it does manage to surface at opportune moments in the story. Eloise is the grounded and nurturing type, Teresa is the loyal friend and Lynne is the jet-setter who may want what Eloise and Teresa have, but will never admit it. Ms. Ballis nailed the balance of conflict and kinship individually and as a group beautifully. I’ve had the pleasure of reading other titles by Ms. Ballis and, once again, say I am a fan of her work. I look forward to the next ‘foodie’ adventure.

Quill says: It’s never too late to change a life and become that someone you were always destined to become.

Monday, August 7, 2017

#Interview with Author Steven M. Moore

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Steven M. Moore, author of Rembrandt's Angel

FQ: I read that you have penned a plethora of novels and short stories. Do you have any unfinished stories that never made it to a final published form?

MOORE: I’ve been collecting plot ideas, character sketches, themes, dialogue snippets, and potential settings for years. My muses know this, so they’ve been after me to turn them into stories since I became a full-time writer. That’s a fanciful explanation for my many stories during these last ten-plus years. I’ve never had writer’s block, and I love to write. I often have several projects going (three right now).

Unfinished stories? You bet. My first novel, written during the summer I turned thirteen (not finished because I had several possible endings) wound up in the trash can when I left for college. It wasn’t all that bad (similar to the plot of the movie City of Angels with the masculine and feminine main characters’ roles reversed), but that trash can is definitely the appropriate place for most first novels.

When I start a story, I never know whether it will be a short story, novella, or novel. The first two often appear as free blog posts (serialized for novellas or longer shorts) and later as PDFs free for the asking. I can’t and won’t publish everything, although I think some of the short fiction is entertaining too, enough so that I’ve published a few short story collections. With projects in the works right now, we’ll see what their fate is. An author doesn’t have to publish everything s/he writes. The important thing is to keep writing.

FQ: If you could talk with your younger self, is there any advice that you would give him pertaining to your writing?

Author Steven M. Moore

MOORE: Yes. My biggest mistake was to use my own name instead of a pseudonym. My advice to all new authors is to choose a pen name if their real names are as common as mine. Name recognition is so important nowadays when there are so many good authors and good books to tempt the avid reader.

I’ve somewhat avoided another mistake. Like many writers, I have more fun writing and not so much doing what needs to be done after. Today one can’t ignore that, and I’ve learned not to do so. While most writers are nerds like me, we all have to leave our comfort zone from time to time too. There are no sufficient conditions for book success, but we can do a lot toward establishing the necessary conditions for that to happen.

FQ: In a synopsis for Rembrandt's Ange you asked, “To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece?” I’m curious, how would you answer that question?

MOORE: I think it’s appalling that some unscrupulous people will steal art and sell it to other unscrupulous people who selfishly keep the public from enjoying it. That said, I’m sure I don’t have my main characters’ skills to do something about it except to serve as cheerleader for those who do.

FQ: What do you believe makes Rembrandt’s Angel stand out from other detective mysteries, and how is it similar to the classic Agatha Christie novels?

MOORE: I call my book a mystery/thriller because it has elements corresponding to both genres. Crime fiction and suspense are also possible genres. The book begins like a classic mystery, hopefully doing due diligence to justifying its dedication to Christie and her great characters, Miss Marple and Monsieur Poirot. I’m sure the great mystery writer would feel right at home when Esther Brookstone visits her old school chum in Oxfordshire at the book’s beginning. The mystery becomes more complex as Esther and her paramour, Interpol agent Bastiann van Coevorden, uncover a complicated conspiracy that takes them into a more thriller-like storyline.

This novel is neither a classical who-done-it nor a simple thriller. Life is complex; so are my stories. I dedicate the book to Agatha more for the entertaining times I enjoyed as a young lad reading her books, but I always wondered why she didn’t have at least one novel where her two famous sleuths formed a synergistic team.

FQ: There is a debate that is still going on about whether the artwork obtained for the Hitler Museum was outright stolen, sold by forced coercion, or legally purchased. What do you personally believe happened?

MOORE: That could depend on your definition of “stolen.” If I’m not mistaken, Hans Posse and others sometimes paid a pittance for some paintings and/or used coercion. The fact that half the paintings in the treasure trove associated with “An Angel with Titus’ Features” have never been found is for me a strong hint that they were effectively stolen, often from groups persecuted by the Nazis, and some unsavory people still possess these stolen goods.

There was a lot of this going on during the war, but not all stolen artwork was destined for the museum either. Stolen art was often considered by many Nazi VIPs to be better plunder than gold bullion when designing their escape plans. The movie The Monuments Men documented a bit of that. I wrote my book before that movie, though (Esther and Bastiann both have cameos in other novels in my detective series).

FQ: Esther Brookstone is an unusual character because of her advanced years. What drew you to creating someone who isn't your typical young, or even middle-aged, character?

MOORE: With Miss Marple, Agatha Christie showed age isn’t much of a factor when solving mysteries. Sleuths of advanced years are common in mysteries, especially cozies. Of course, Esther Brookstone is a 21st century version of Miss Marple and a bit younger. They say sixty is the new forty, and if women can (and should be able to) serve in the military, that alone is sufficient reason to have a main female character.

Her advanced years do weigh on Esther a bit, though. She says toward the end of the book that she’s physically tired and rightfully so, and her doubts about retirement are probably ubiquitous among people at that age. What do you do when you retire from that stressful day-job not to become too bored? Esther doesn’t immediately have an answer. Bastiann might help there.

I’ve always admired strong, smart women and often think the world would be a better place with women more in charge. Testosterone seems to play too large a role on the world’s stage. And age doesn’t matter that much anymore. The story shows that Esther is young-at-heart and enjoys being with young people. The coincidental encounter with the thief of the Bernini bust at the Scottish castle Esther inherited (the coincidence is found in the inheritance, not the fact that the thief was hiding there—she knew the place from her teenage years), and the lively repartee between Esther and the young hacker from MI5 and his friend confirms how much she understands and commiserates with young people.

Many older adult readers have enjoyed Harry Potter and still enjoy other young adult tales. At book signings, I’ve found tweens interested in my mysteries and thrillers and elderly people interested in my sci-fi while I expected exactly the reverse. Being old and thinking young is very common now, so why not write about it? And those tweens show young people have a surprising maturity these days.

FQ: Why did you decide to write about the world of art theft and forgery? Do you have any artists that you're particularly fond of besides the two featured artists in your novel, Rembrandt and Bernini?

MOORE: I admire most creative people and their creations, and I admire them all the more if I can’t do what they do (I usually cannot). My favorite artists are impressionists, but my father (obviously a favorite) was primarily a landscape artist. In the book I also mention Botero and Obregon, two Colombian artists; their works are also favorites. One’s art appreciation is like one’s preferences for wine: it’s all subjective and everyone’s tastes are a wee bit different. What one likes is important, not what some critic says should be liked.

I believe I already mentioned how appalled I am by art theft and the resale of stolen artwork. The theft at the Gardner Museum in Boston (I lived and worked in the area for twenty-three years) and the discovery of a treasure trove long hidden in an apartment in Germany both motivated my interest in the black market in stolen and forged art. The latter was briefly mentioned in the novel (Esther’s case involving cruise ship auctions and her suspicions about the Rembrandt), and that’s appalling too. Most of my novels have themes woven in and around the plot. Art thievery and associated crimes represent one theme in Rembrandt’s Angel; two others are terrorism and the illegal drug trade.

FQ: There are several countries in this novel that the characters travel through; what are your favorite places that you’ve traveled to in the past?

MOORE: Fascist fanatics can be found anywhere, of course, so I apologize to my Austrian and German friends for stereotypically locating the main villains in Austria and Germany (I’m half-German and my mother only spoke German until she was eight, by the way). Mexican drug cartels are probably more infamous than South American ones now, but I knew the area around that corner of Colombia and Peru a bit better, so I have to apologize to my Latino friends too (I lived in Colombia for more than ten years). My experience with Great Britain and Ireland is more limited.
Today an author can use books, the internet, or cable channels to “visit” almost anywhere, many times in more detail than the average tourist. But it happens that I’ve lived and traveled abroad, and I’ve found different countries, people, and cultures so fascinating that I’m hard put to name my favorite places. I have fond memories of many places in North and South America and Europe. I celebrate the diversity I’ve found in our world in my life as well as in my books.

FQ: If Rembrandt's Angel were to become a big Hollywood movie, who would you like to be cast as the characters?

MOORE: My novels are probably too complex to be made into a movie. Some novels are, of course, and that probably guarantees some good plots and characters, but two hours cannot really do justice to the lengthy and complex tale told in a novel. That said, I’ll give a partial answer to this question I’m often asked.

I’d maybe choose Helen Mirren for Esther Brookstone. Ms. Mirren’s movie career has taken off since 2000. She is great in serious roles, and the comedy/thriller movie Red, where she plays a retired assassin, shows she could play Brookstone, although she’s possibly about ten years too old now. Unfortunately David Suchet, who probably did the best job of playing Poirot, is too old for Bastiann van Coevorden. I’m sure some other actors from the PBS Mystery Theatre and BBC TV’s series could do well playing these characters’ roles, though. My failure to make my answer more precise is why Hollywood doesn’t hire me to do their casting, although they haven’t been terribly good at it either.

FQ: Are you planning to write more exploits of Esther Brownstone and Bastiann van Coevorden? I’m sure readers are curious if Bastiann will become hubby number four!

MOORE: Several readers have made this same query. A sequel is possible. I’ve also been thinking of a prequel about Esther’s experiences in the British intelligence services before she joined Scotland Yard; they’re barely hinted at in the novel. Of course, that wouldn’t mitigate the curiosity associated with Esther’s future with Bastiann! I’m just going to have to wait until Inspector George Langston, Esther’s friend, immediate superior, and chronicler, decides to tell me what’s happening over there in merry old England and Scotland concerning Esther and Bastiann.

To learn more about Rembrandt's Angel please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

#BookReview - Rembrandt's Angel

Rembrandt's Angel

By: Steven M. Moore
Publisher: Penmore Press LLC
Publication Date: May 2017
ISBN: 978-1946409027
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: August 2017

Aging Inspector (and three-time widow) Esther Brookstone, remarkably skilled in the Art and Antiques Unit with Scotland Yard, has a few major life decisions to consider. Should she quietly retire from a lengthy and productive career with the Yard, or should she, as Dylan Thomas once penned, "...rage against the dying of the light" and continue to pursue her passion as a specialist in stolen art? Almost as if to instantly answer her quandary, Brookstone comes across an invitation to a private showing of "An Angel With Titus' Features" by the artist Rembrandt van Rijn. She is fairly certain that this piece of artwork is either the long-ago stolen original by the Nazis, or, more than likely, a black market forgery, and sets out to pursue the dealers and investigate the criminal activity, putting aside any thoughts of retirement. To assist her in this wild endeavor, she joins up with Bastiann van Coevorden, who is not only a well-respected Interpol Agent, but also Brookstone’s significant other. Together their hunt takes them traveling through numerous European countries and all the way to South America and they are briefly assisted by a cast of special agents from America and Germany, as well as numerous nefarious characters, who are hell-bent on thwarting their efforts to uncover the truth behind the artwork and put a stop to a potential plot that will create a worldwide disaster.

Rembrandt’s Angel, by Steven M. Moore, is a thrilling, globetrotting adventure that provides readers a glance into the world of art forgery, Neo-Nazi conspiracies and even links to ISIS. The duo of Brookstone and van Coevorden can be favorably compared with utmost respect to Agatha Christie’s classic characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Esther is a strong, well-liked character with a saucy disposition, while Bastiann, though he plays costar and lover to Esther, is able to hold his own with regards to likability. In addition to Esther and Bastiann, there were quite a few other characters in the story and while the author did include a "Cast of Main Characters" (which was used extensively throughout the book) this reader found it quite distracting to the overall reading flow. Perhaps if there were fewer characters or if their descriptions were a little bit stronger, it would make it easier to remember everyone involved.

The plot is complex, taking readers to many different locales, intertwining characters both new and old and this can lose the reader if they do not carefully follow along. Also, this reviewer found the subplot that included the character Sylvia Bassett to be a bit farfetched. Specifically when Sylvia, who is on the run, just happens to be discovered hiding out in Esther Brookstone’s recently inherited Scottish castle. However, despite the few issues Rembrandt’s Angel may have, this reviewer believes that Steven M. Moore’s novel should be read by fans of the mystery genre. Particularly because the author has a keen ability to weave a great storyline that is not only filled with suspense, but captures a reader’s attention. A few quotes stood out as quite descriptive and remained with this reader well after the book was completely read, for example, "In the ice cream shop of crime, there are many flavors" and "A committee of clouds enjoyed a private meeting over the manor." Finally, the character Esther Brookstone provides readers with an unusual female protagonist who is more than just a senior Scotland Yard Inspector, she is a memorable and tenacious dame who readers will undoubtedly enjoy throughout the novel and will look forward to reading any of her possible future exploits.

Quill says: Rembrandt’s Angel is a complex thriller with several plots intertwined throughout the story. It is recommended for serious mystery fans who are looking for not only a challenging read, but also one that allows readers to become an armchair adventurist and detective, along with Brookstone and van Coevorden, spanning many different parts of the globe.

For further information on Rembrandt's Angel, please visit the author's website at: www.stevenmmoore.com