Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Feathered Quill #BookAwards

And the winner is.... stay tuned... the winners to our annual award program will be announced shortly...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

#AuthorInterview with C. Read

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with C. Read, author of Walking with the Enemy: A Testimony

FQ: You make a very poignant comment at the beginning of this book that asks for all readers – whether they be believers, skeptics, etc., - to read this book with an open mind. Do you feel that people, no matter what category they fall into, will do just that?

READ: Due to the provocative nature of my book, I realize that those with religious differences, or a bias against women, may just disregard what I am saying, but I truly hope that those who read “Walking With the Enemy,” especially Christians, would prayerfully consider my testimony with an open mind and heart.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” rings so true for my book, and I know that not everyone will value what I have written, but I do appreciate honest reviews. To illustrate this point, I want to share a quote from a reviewer who only gave my book two stars, which signified he would not recommend it, but he was able to see “one or two bright spots.” Actually, I loved his critique of my book, and who knows what God may do with those “bright spots!”
“And if, as Read attests, the devil is everywhere, and in all guises, especially those who brandish Bibles, then the only way out is to give oneself completely over to God, without reservations.” — IndieReader Reviewer

This reviewer spoke to the heart of my message, whether he understood it or not! The devil is working overtime these days, even in the churches, and only God can give us the ability to know who is true and who is false, who is of God, and who is not. That’s why we need to give ourselves “completely over to God, without reservation.”

But I am quick to add, our dependence must be in the true and living God of the Holy Bible—the Creator of Heaven and earth. There are many deceivers in this world, and they use—or should I say misuse—the name of Jesus Christ to attract followers. I fell victim to such people, but thank God, He showed me the truth!

FQ: What do you want or hope readers will take away from this testimony? Did you have specific goals in mind where that was concerned when first sitting down to write?

READ: When God revealed to me that the leaders of the Bible Study group that I had been involved with for three years actually served Satan, I had an overwhelming desire to tell others about it. God then led me to write a letter warning about them, and I started mailing it to family, friends, former church members, and different churches. I ended up sending out over one thousand copies of that letter, but when I first wrote it, I had no idea that it would become the first chapter to my book that I could potentially publish to the entire world from my home!

As far as specific goals, I hope my book encourages lost souls to get on the side of the LORD while there is still time. And my ultimate desire for those who believe my testimony is that they will come away from it with more of a love and deeper appreciation for God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit of the most high God!

FQ: It must have been a bit frightening to reveal all of this, considering the people who were involved. How did you, or when did you first attain the courage to make your story known?

READ: As my testimony reveals, they tried very hard to get me back under their control and influence, but thank God, they were not successful. It stands to reason that I should have been fearful of them, and when I was with them, I was very intimidated by them. However, after that amazing evening when God revealed Himself to me in such a mighty and supernatural way on 28 February 1993, I had such a boldness that I was actually intimidating to them!

In fact, prior to my release I could sense a fear growing in them that I didn’t really understand, but I see now that it was because they knew God was starting to open my eyes. I pray that God will continue to give me the boldness to speak out against false teachers and ministers of Satan who are intent on destroying the lives of God’s people.

FQ: When this young Marine who you had never met before came up and handed you a Bible, and said he thought you should read it, what did you first think when he walked away? Did you feel as if this was a sign? Is this the “key” to when you became a Born Again Christian?

READ: That brief encounter with that young Marine in the deserts of Yuma, Arizona was a major turning point in my life! And yes, I believe that meeting was the “key” to my entry into the Kingdom of Heaven! I like to think that he was an angel sent by God to show me the way that I needed to go, because that is exactly what happened. I took his advice and started reading and studying the Bible, but that was just the beginning of my walk with God.

Just a little background so you can understand why I was so receptive to the word of God. At the time, I was enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. My permanent duty station was in Hawaii, but I was on a temporary assignment to Yuma, Arizona. On 4 November 1979, Iranian students seized the American Embassy in Tehran, and took over fifty American hostages. A special Marine friend of mine was on a six-month deployment to Japan, and he was prepared to go to Iran at a moment’s notice. It was such an uncertain time in my life, and I felt so helpless! I am just so thankful God used that extremely distressing situation, to cause me to see my great need for my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And I am sure many others were also calling out to God during that difficult time.

What’s interesting, a few days before that “heavenly encounter,” another Marine had knocked on my barracks door and was handing out religious tracks. I told him I wasn’t interested, but he proceeded to shove his way into my room; that is, until he saw my friend. He just threw the track at me and stormed off. I share this to say, that just because someone uses the name of Christ, doesn’t mean God sent them. I learned that lesson the hard way, but I hope others will read, and believe, my testimony and be spared some of the scars that I carry.

FQ: Although your tale is very difficult, did you find peace when writing it down and being able to get it on paper; did it take a weight off your shoulders, so to speak?

READ: I had a perfect peace in my heart while writing my book! Even through the tears, writing and publishing my testimony has been one of the greatest joys of my life! I first published my testimony of “Walking With the Enemy” (now in the Fifth Edition), over twenty years ago; and through all the edits and after reading it countless times, I have never grown weary of it. In fact, it has been like a fire burning in my soul that I just have to let out! And I am certain that God has had His hand on my book from the beginning, and He will see it through to the end.

FQ: In addition, writing, itself, is a highly difficult thing to do. After this, are you now interested in perhaps writing in the future…penning more books that offer help and support to others?

READ: I never really aspired to be an author, but I have always loved to write. Ever since I was a young girl, I would put my thoughts down on paper; and I even continued writing in my journals while I was in that cult group. And because of that, I was able to use letters and journal entries to help portray my “state” during that time.

I did publish a second book entitled “Walking in the True Light: A Testimony,” published on 5 September 1997, exactly one year after I heard about the “revival” that took place in Pensacola, Florida, on Father’s Day 1995. I learned of this “move of God” after listening to an interview on a Christian radio station of the minister who was promoting a “women in ministry” conference at his church that was heavily involved with the “Pensacola Revival.” God led me to attend the conference, and when I saw what was happening at the services, it was reminiscent of what took place at the Bill’s ministry, but on a much wider scale! [Bill was the male leader of the cult group.]

My situation involved totally different people and places, but it is just as what a youth minister once wrote to me after reading my testimony when I first published it back in 1995. “It would take a while to share with you all that I found to be in common with your story. Though they are different, the similarities are undeniable. It’s amazing how the enemy’s signature is the same.”

FQ: You, like the rest of us, see the horror that occurs every day. From terrorist attacks to church shootings, it seems like the violence will never end. Do you have any words of wisdom you could share with readers out there on how they could restore their own faith, or advice on how to utilize the Lord in order to get through these dark times?

READ: I just want to emphasize that I am nothing without the LORD, and I desperately need Him more than ever. I know it can be very discouraging when we look at all the wickedness and perversions that are going on all around us. It is especially distressing when the perpetrators and facilitators of such evil acts claim to be Christians. For those of us who know the truth about them, we know that they are imposters and certainly are not followers of Christ!

It’s as if the dragon has been unbound from his chains and has been released from the bottomless pit! Which is why it is imperative that God’s people must “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:9-11

I am convinced that we are living in the final days just before the return of the LORD, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-10
It saddens me to think about all the people that have been deceived by the Wicked One, and it is my hope that my testimony will be likened to a Light in a dark place that will give people a chance to see the truth and get out from under Satan’s control and dominion. Please prayerfully consider this excerpt from Walking With the Enemy.

“So many professing Christians today are conformed to the ways of the world, rather than the ways of God. Sin is the doorway into the darkness, and if you walk in sin long enough, it will lead to a place you really don’t want to be!

Remember, good and evil are rooted from the same tree, but godliness comes only from the tree of life. And unless men delight completely in the word of God, and are “born again” by His Spirit, they will never be able to put forth their hand, “and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”
False teachers, corrupt Bibles, and disorderly churches are abounding, just like God said it would be like in the final days. And only those who have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” will truly understand the times we are living in.

God’s people have wandered off the intended path because their faith is in the word of men, and not the word of God. And I must say, woe, woe, woe be unto those who call themselves Christian, yet do not follow Christ!

There is still time to come to the Lord, and only those who are walking in the True Light, with their candles brightly shining, will Jesus welcome into His kingdom when He comes for His glorious bride. [Matthew 25:1–13.]”

End of excerpt.

Also consider this except from my devotional entitled Beware of False Prophets, posted at my website.

“I was a target of the Devil, mainly because of my genuine love for the LORD, and my desire to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. And because I fully trusted those who falsely claimed to be "Christians," I was adversely affected and greatly misled by their false teachings. That is, until God rescued me!

Even when I was walking with the Enemy, my love for God was growing stronger every day because my love for Him was true from the very beginning. And when I look back on that time, and see what God did for me, in spite of what the Devil intended, I have such an overwhelming love and gratitude in my heart for God. And I believe I always will! The more I know God through His word, by prayer, and by His Spirit, the more I love Him.

The more I love God, the more I want to please Him. And as I continue to experience God's love and grace in my life, my love for God, His dear Son, and His people grows stronger. I pray that is your testimony too!

1 John 4:19 "We love Him, because He first loved us."

FQ: What advice would you give in regards to spotting and avoiding those ministries/groups that are still very much out there practicing evil?

READ: Just as a banker will study the actual currency to recognize a counterfeit, the best advice I could give to fellow Christians who desire to walk in the truth (and not error), is to be diligent to read and study the Holy Scriptures, with a sincere heart and a prayerful attitude towards God and His dear Son, the LORD Jesus Christ.

If something doesn’t seem right, question it. If what someone tells you about God seems to contradict His word, don’t blindly accept it. As “Real Christians,” we must be like the men and women of Berea, “in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11b

And always remember, God can, and will, use all things (even our mistakes and heartaches) to “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Please consider another excerpt from my testimony that I believe will more fully answer your question.

“It has been really exciting since I have been walking in the True Light! As the Lord reveals Himself to me, and I gain more wisdom and understanding of Him, I just adore Him more every day. My relationship with the Lord is so different since the night of 28 February 1993. The word of God has become so real for my life in a way that I could have never imagined. I would like to share with you an excerpt from my journal. I wrote this exactly two weeks before the confrontation we had on 2 March 1993.


I had asked the Lord, at the request of Elisha (Ira)[she was the female leader of the group], to tell me if I could trust the people He’d placed around me. And she said that when things get crazy all around here I can go back to this book and read what the Lord said.

The Lord is so neat! He didn’t even address anyone else. He said to look at me and take notice of my behavior. He brought up two scriptures...

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

1 Corinthians 13:1–13 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.”

The Lord told me if I don’t see these things happening in my life that the enemy is attacking me and I must put on my armor. He then led me to the following scripture. Ephesians 6:10–20 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” End of Excerpt from Walking With the Enemy: A Testimony.

I really appreciate your thought provoking questions, and I thank you for the opportunity to share my testimony with your readers. You all at Feathered Quill are in my prayers! And I truly thank you for yours! “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” (Ephesians 6:24) God bless and keep you!

With the love of Christ,
C. Read

You can go to my website at www.truelightpublications.com to read some of the varied reviews, critiques, and commentaries on Walking With the Enemy: A Testimony, along with some of the awards it has received. From there you can click on the clouds on the sidebar which leads to my ministry site www.truelightministries.us where I post articles that I hope will be encouraging and informative. I also have a link at my website that leads to GoodReads where I post devotionals at the “Real Christian” blog site.

To learn more about Walking with the Enemy: A Testimony please read the review.

#AuthorInterview with John Henry Hardy

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with John Henry Hardy, author of The Place Where the Giant Fell

FQ: Arizona captured my heart the first time I visited Sedona years ago. I enjoyed your intro to this story in describing the stark majesty of this high desert country. What is your most memorable moment in exploring this stark land and what makes this memory stand out?

HARDY: It was the moment I stood and gazed out for the first time at the beauty and silence of what seemed to be the loneliest place on earth. Thirty seven years ago, the vastness of the Sonoran Desert was unbelievable for this new arrival from the small State of New Jersey. I love this desert land, but the beauty and variety of desert flora and fauna of this ancient land, with its towering saguaro cacti and tumble weeds, dupes the observer into believing it is a land of serenity and safety. It is beautiful, but death also lurks here for the unwary. Deadly Diamondback and Mojave rattlesnakes rule this land and the bite of a Gila monster proves to be painful and sometimes fatal. Bighorn Sheep, coyotes, and pumas roam the desert, but the deadliest killer of all is the drug smuggler with his weapons and cache of evil wares. Water, water, water, is the vital necessity here, and one can sometimes run across the bleaching bones of illegal aliens, who cross this desert by the thousands each month, but come unprepared and die of thirst in this parched land. However, our Border Patrol and others also save untold numbers of them from this horrible fate each year.

FQ: As a fiction writer, I often say: “There is no such thing as fiction. Rather, the names have been changed and the story embellished to protect the guilty.” What inspired you to tackle the premise of forbidden love between a white girl and a Mexican boy?

HARDY: It was reality-the fact that there are now thousands of mixed racial couples in Arizona and most other states. However, in pre-statehood Arizona the general populace abhorred such practices, but ignored the contribution of the Mexican heritage that is prevalent in our cuisines, architecture, customs, and the fact that many Americans of Mexican heritage also served in our armed forces, in spite of the treatment they received at the time from the dominant white race.

FQ: I enjoyed the depth of this story. You have a natural ability of infusing action and intrigue throughout. What was your approach in getting the story down on paper? Did you have the beginning, middle and end in mind before you began writing it? Do you follow an outline, or do you simply let your pen flow and you follow its lead?

HARDY: Actually, what inspired me to write this story was not just the Mexican heritage that surrounds me, but also my imagination. As a retired Marine Corps officer I like to stay in shape and jog as much as I am able now that I am older, and when I lived in the town of Paradise Valley, each morning I would run down Tomahawk Trail past a house that had a huge saguaro cactus on the front lawn. One night we had a rainstorm, and when I got to that house I was saddened to see lightning had destroyed the cactus. Then every morning thereafter as I jogged by that house, a thought would pervade my mind that this is The Place Where the Giant Fell. I thought about this for years, and over time I had a beginning, middle and an ending in my mind when I wrote this story, but it was all in my imagination only. I never use an outline and just sit before my computer and let the thoughts flow.

FQ: Thank you for your service to our country. I’ve not had the pleasure of reading your ‘Whispers’ series, but it seems the platform is the Vietnam War. What compelled you to break away from this theme to write The Place Where the Giant Fell.

HARDY: Thank you for saying that and you are welcome. Both of those books were compelling thoughts in my mind for years before I began writing them down on paper. I have other thoughts that I want to write about that are still just mere sentences that I continually think about. The Whisper series is about the Vietnam War, and although the four main characters are fictitious, the war’s events are all true facts. I know of the horrible treatment Vietnam Vets received during and after the war-and as a veteran I found it very disgusting, not only for the men but the women who served there as well! That compelled me to write that series. But in order to be an effective writer I think one must be variable in thought-most writers probably don’t want to be known to be as well-educated on one subject only. I believe variety is the “spice” of writing.

FQ: In your explorations of the Arizona dessert, did you happen upon a real place like The Place where characters Carrie and Rodney would clandestinely meet? What was that like? Is it like the location described in your story?

HARDY: Yes, there is a mountain not far from my home that is named Red Mountain and that is how I came up with the name Fire Mountain. It is not far from Goldfield and is steep and treacherous like the one in the story. Of course, the Superstition Mountains are close by too, where the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine is rumored to be located, which I mention in the story. No one has ever found it but they keep looking and blasting away parts of the mountains-which I believe is now illegal. Red Mountain is riddled with nooks and crannies and that is how I came up with that secret location inside Fire Mountain.

FQ: In the world of publishing today, there are many avenues a writer can navigate to arrive at publication. Why self-publish and what has your experience been in doing so?

HARDY: It seems to me that today’s literary agents have been spoiled rotten. They seem to turn up their noses at new writers, treat you as though you are an inferior, and unless a manuscript is absolutely perfect-according to their standards-you may as well forget it. They prefer known writers and offer no encouragement, suggestions or anything else unless they feel they can make an easy buck while you do all the work. Instead of giving your work even the slightest consideration, they judge you solely by a letter of inquiry. I got sick of this crap and decided to do it my way! I decided to self-publish and have had some success and I am still working on that and hope for greater progress in the future. The greatest weakness in indie publishing as I see it is that marketing is the weak link; you must be your own marketer.

FQ: When the last word was written, and you knew it was time to set your project free into the hands of many readers, was it difficult to let your characters go? How did you cope?

HARDY: No, it was not difficult at all to let the characters go, since I believe a writer wants to share them with the world; that is why a book is written-to be shared with others!

FQ: There is a strong undertone of racism in this story. Were there moments when you had to take a break from the story line for fear of crossing a line of no return? If so, how did you move your pen forward?

HARDY: I lived in a segregated neighborhood in Trenton, New Jersey until I was about ten years old. The blacks lived on one side of the railroad tracks and we lived on the other. A footbridge spanned the RR tracks, but in the four years that I lived there I only crossed it once, since the black kids (about my age at the time) did not like white kids walking through their neighborhood and it sometimes caused a lot of trouble and tension between people of all ages. In the Marine Corps, I served with a lot of different races and I think this old adage still holds true; if people treat each other fairly you will have very few problems of any kind. No, I had no problem dealing with racism in this novel, since I believe the truth is a very powerful sword. What I wrote about in that novel was how the Mexicans were treated in pre-statehood Arizona. However, the problems we have here today have mostly to do with illegals. In 1994 my present day home was being built, and I took a short leave from the Corps to check on the progress. Not one single Mexican worker framing my house could speak English-only the white foreman could. So the idea illegals only do menial tasks white people don’t want to do is pure bull shit. Yes, the sword of truth is a mighty sword, but it also cuts both ways.

FQ: When did your ‘aha moment’ surface that you are a writer and how do you continue to nurture your craft?

HARDY: I have written hundreds of military news, speeches, air show scenarios, and magazine articles when I was in the Marine Corps, so seeing my name in print was kind of old hat. However, when I received the first bound volume of the “Whisper In My Ear” series it was a defining moment for me. A novel is a lot different than a news or magazine article. It took me years to write the series, partly because my wife is rather ill and has been for the past fourteen years. I am her care taker. She was on a heart pump for twenty two months and it required my full concentration and effort. But as soon as her heart was well enough to come off the Cad Legacy One pump and she could survive on oral meds, I went right back to finishing the series. It was as though I never stopped writing it. How do I nurture my craft? It is my passion and the days fly by so fast when I write that I sometimes feel as though I am growing old before my time!

FQ: It was a treat and pleasure to read The Place Where the Giant Fell. Hopefully, you are working on your next and if so, are you able to share some nuggets?

HARDY: I am currently writing and doing research for a novel about aliens from another planet, who are searching for a place to live. They are an advanced civilization and their sun is dying. They are exploring other planets in other galaxies, including the Milky Way, and our solar system. Their knowledge and experience of inter-galactic travel is enormous. Of course, the human race, with its paranoia, greed, and fear of the unknown, deny their existence. These aliens have solutions to many of the problems and diseases that still plague Earth, but the United States fears they are agents from other countries, who might be assembling nuclear weapons on American soil, with the intent of conquering the US. The title of this new novel is The Phantom Effect. The essence of this title will be revealed in the completed novel sometime this year.

To learn more about The Place Where the Giant Fell please read the review.

#BookReview - The Double-Edged Sword

The Double-Edged Sword (Tallent & Lowery Book 5)

By: Amy Lignor
Publisher: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: December 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 29, 2017

Everything and everyone has an opposite - good versus evil, yin and yang, God against Satan. And in book 5 of the popular Tallent and Lowery series, heroine Leah Tallent (one of my favorite characters in an adventure series bar none) is about to find out where she stands in her own personal battle between good and evil.

When we last saw Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery in book 4, The Charlatan's Crown, they were battling Daniel Bauer, the Australian fortune hunter they met in a previous adventure. Bauer had done everything in his power to make life unbearable for Leah and Gareth as he tried to use Leah's special skills to hunt for artifacts that he needed for some nefarious purposes. In book 4, they were all in a race to find a very special emerald that, once added to a powerful crown, would give the bearer powers beyond imagination. As the story winds to an end, Leah and Gareth barely escape with their lives. And the reader is left wondering what happens next...

When The Double-Edged Sword opens, Leah and Gareth are in Bergama, Turkey, exploring the ancient ruins of Pergamon. While Pergamon is known by some as "Satan's Dwelling," Leah and Gareth don't let that stop them. They are there because they had recently found a photo of Gareth's father with a handwritten "Pergamon 2009" on the back. The problem is, Gareth's father and mother reportedly died many years earlier in a car accident. If the handwritten inscription were true, then how could his father have died? Might he, and Gareth's mother, actually be alive? Might they have been caught up in the fight between good and evil, much like Leah's mother, Neith? Perhaps Daniel Bauer, or Michael Hansen, another power-obsessed psychotic we met in an earlier story, forced the couple to help in their search for the all-powerful crown. At Pergamon, Leah and Gareth hope to find clues to Gareth's parents whereabouts, if, indeed, they are still alive.

Leah and Gareth discover some pretty cool things while at Pergamon (no spoilers here although a river of mercury does stand out), and those discoveries lead them all the way to Crete, the largest island in Greece. It is here that knowledge of Minoan history is going to come in handy if Leah and Gareth are going to be able to save themselves and others. King Minos and the legend of the Minotaur, as well as the famous labyrinth where the Minotaur reportedly lived, come into play and the action reaches a fever pitch in that labyrinth.

The Double-Edged Sword is an all-out "bite your nails" adventure story wrapped within a mystery with just enough historical facts inserted to make everything seem plausible. Many of the places and artifacts the author uses do exist, and the reader will be hard pressed to know where fact stops and fiction begins. As with all the books in this series, the dialog between characters is sharp and animated, and truly brings the story to life. Leah has a very difficult decision to make that will test her relationship with Gareth and her choice may just decide whether or not the couple survives. Pages will be turning quickly as Leah struggles with her choices.

I have read all the books in the Tallent & Lowery series and must say that they keep getting better and better. Each story builds on the last and I would suggest that you start with the first book, 13, to get the full range of enjoyment from this series. With just one more book to go in this fantastic series, the action and cliffhanger ending in The Double-Edged Sword will leave readers hankering for that last book, to see how this epic fight between good and evil ends...

Quill says: Action-packed, a great plot, witty dialog, and some very cool historical places make The Double-Edged Sword another winner in the Tallent & Lowery series.

#BookReview - Common Backyard Birds

Common Backyard Birds

By: Doris Dumrauf
Publisher: Raccoon Creek Press
Publication Date: April 2018
ISBN: 978-0997676716
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 2018

Author/nature nature photographer Doris Dumrauf has put together a beautiful collection of "common" backyard birds that young bird watchers will love to add to their collection of special books.

Common Backyard Birds includes twenty birds that are seen in backyards across North America. Some of the names most people will recognize - American Robin, Mourning Dove, and Blue Jay - while others such as the Dark-eyed Junco may not be familiar to readers.

There's a full page devoted to every bird, with one, and sometimes two, beautiful photographs as well as a brief paragraph about the bird. The text includes information such as what that bird eats, its temperament (we learn that the blue jay is very aggressive and that small birds fly away when they see one), and where it likes to perch, or hide. Each of these "factoids" is told in the first person, as if the bird is talking directly to the young reader.

The author's deep love of nature, and birds, comes through clearly on every page. Her photographs are truly stunning and give readers a close-up look at the birds they might come upon in their own backyards. She encourages youngsters to provide the basics that all birds seek - water, food and shelter - so that they too can have lots of birds visit their yards. The last two pages of the book is a "How to attract birds to your yard" tutorial with lots of good information on how to make your own backyard attractive to birds. Common Backyard Birds is a fun book that provides plenty of helpful information. Rated for K-4th grade, this book would also be good for those working on research projects about North American birds.

Quill says: A truly lovely book about backyard birds that comes to life through the beautiful photography.

#BookReview - 365 Days of Cookies

365 Days of Cookies: Sweeten Your Year with a New Cookie Every Day

Publisher: Reader's Digest/Taste of Home
Publication Date: October 2017
ISBN: 978-1617656828
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: January 24, 2018

If you have a sweet tooth and love to bake, check out the new cookie book from "Taste of Home" that offers a different recipe for every day of the year.

Like many cookbooks, this one starts with several pages of cooking basics - obviously centered around cookies. The proper way to mix, how to measure different ingredients (liquid, sour cream, butter, brown sugar, etc.), as well as some "Problem-Solving Pointers" are included in this section. Then it's on to the fun part - baking the cookies! The recipes are divided into five chapters - Cozy Bites; Celebrate Spring; Summer Fun; Fall Flavors; and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

The recipes themselves are varied and a lot of fun to make - and the recipes I tested all came out tasty. Each recipe includes a colorful picture of the finished cookies, as well as prep time, bake time, and how many cookies that particular recipe will make. If you're in a rush, you can look for the "Short & Sweet" notation found on many of the pages. One of those recipes, for Peanut Butter Penguins, is definitely quick and easy, using a favorite store bought cookie as the base, and then "dressing them up" to look like penguins. The finished cookies were a big hit at a local school bake sale. There are several other animal face cookie recipes that will likely be big hits at school events.

I love to bake cookies but it seems that I have three very basic, very standard recipes that I always turn to when I get a sweet tooth attack. 365 Days of Cookies has definitely changed that. I really loved the "Short & Sweet" varieties which were perfect for those rushed days. This cookbook also includes ten recipes for special days of the year (World Nutella Day, National Gumdrop Day, Hot and Spicy Food Day) which added another level of fun to the book. Finally, something that was really appreciated in my rather messy kitchen is the heavy-duty cover and very thick and strong spiral bound format - it made a world of difference when referring to the directions while my hands were covered in flour. Overall, this is an excellent book for the cookie loving cookie baker.

Quill says: 365 Days of Cookies will keep "cookie cookers" busy and happy for a very long time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

#BookReview - The Place Where the Giant Fell

The Place Where the Giant Fell

By: John Henry Hardy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: May 2016
ISBN: 978-1523973156
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 23, 2018

John Henry Hardy sets his pen to paper and delivers an engaging tale of forbidden love in his novel The Place Where the Giant Fell.

Goldfield, Arizona used to be a thriving mining town at the turn of the century. Carrie Ann Benton was a young girl with her whole life ahead of her. Her daddy was a force to reckon with in the town. His name was Horace Benton and he was a racist, power-hungry Arizona Judge. He wanted nothing more than security and safety for his beautiful daughter, no matter the cost or consequences.

Perhaps the apple didn’t fall far from the tree given Carrie could be as headstrong as the father who raised her. She was mindful and conscientious of doing the right thing in the eyes of her daddy, but eventually, the heart wants what the heart wants. It would seem Carrie’s vision of happily ever after wasn’t quite what her father had in mind. Horace had designs that Carrie would eventually settle down and marry Earl Remington. His family came from fine stock and would certainly make things easier for Horace when it came to the next logical step in his political career. The only ‘mother’ Carrie ever knew was the hired help, Maria. She naturally assumed the role of ‘mom’ after Carrie’s real mom had passed away when Carrie was two years old. It wasn’t important to Carrie that Maria was Mexican and she wasn’t married to her father. She loved her as the only ‘mother’ she ever knew.

When Rodney Buchard asks Carrie to the school dance, it became abundantly clear to Horace Benton he had damage control to do and do it fast. No child of his was going to engage in the likes of some Mexican from the wrong side of town. His plan had been set long before Carrie knew anything about it. Carrie would marry Earl Remington; son of a rich cattle farmer and there was no further discussion to be had where this matter was concerned. Little did Horace know his daughter had other plans. It would involve a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, murder and a secret place to rendezvous. What began as innocence would change the course of the Benton family’s legacy.

John Henry Hardy takes an age-old premise of forbidden love and spins a tremendous tale of deceit and tragedy across the pages of The Place Where the Giant Fell. His descriptive prose of wide, open spaces of the Arizona dessert is captivating. The character development of Carrie and her forbidden lover, Rodney, sets the stage for the reader to willingly cheer on the underdog in hopes that true love will eventually conquer all. Mr. Hardy has a savvy style and is adept at planting seeds of action, danger and adventure to move the story along nicely. While this book is under 200 pages, Mr. Hardy hooks his audience at the onset and drives this story with a multitude of engaging scenery and dialogue. He knows his audience and speaks to them with confidence via his adept word placement throughout. I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Mr. Hardy’s work until now. However, having read this title, perhaps it is time to do so. Well done Mr. Hardy. I look forward to your next book.

Quill says: This is a story of forbidden love and the many consequences in pursuing it.

Monday, January 22, 2018

#BookReview - Maid of Baikal @PrestonFleming

Maid of Baikal: A Novel of the Russian Civil War

By: Preston Fleming
Publisher: PF publishing
Publication Date: October 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9994418-0-0
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: January 21, 2018

Beginning with a flashback to war in the Philippines, we meet First Lieutenant Edmund “Ned” du Pont, a leader in the U.S. Army. Haunted by his nightmares, Ned is also eager to fight again. After going to visit Colonel Charles Holt, they strike up a deal where Ned can return to war, but not exactly as he planned. Holt wishes to send him to Siberia, not to fight, but to aid in correspondence and intelligence as an undercover worker in the Russian Railway service corps as an American Railway Man and telegraph and wireless expert. While this task seems far from simple in the beginning, the truth is he’s about to be in over his head in a completely different mission involving a young Russian woman that could completely change the tides of the Russian Revolution.

Upon arrival in Irkutsk, Ned is to meet Staff Captain Igor Ivanovich Ivashov, his Russian liaison officer. After exchanging information and learning a very small amount about each other, they board a train heading to Omsk. Prior to arriving at their destination, however, they stop at Verkhne-Udinsk, where they will join Stepan Petrovich Dorokhin and his guests for dinner. It is at this dinner that Ned first meets Zhanna, Stepan’s daughter. Zhanna is a headstrong girl of eighteen, and Ned is instantly attracted to her, although he is unsure of exactly why. At the end of the evening, Zhanna gives a slip of paper to Ned with a message to meet her the following morning. The next morning, Ned meets with her and Zhanna reveals that she has been hearing voices of saints. The voices, she explains to Ned, have been calling her to go to Omsk to deliver a message to Siberian dictator Admiral Kolchak. That message could change the course of the war, and she wants Ned to take her there to introduce her to the Admiral. Ned refuses and later finds out she also asked Ivashov. Zhanna's voices, however, tell her they will soon meet again and her mission will be fulfilled. Later, her voices call her to serve in the Serbian Army and lead troops as the Maid of Baikal, but does she get more than she bargained for? How much can her faith and beloved voices protect her?

The Maid of Baikal was by far one of the most well planned and engrossing books I may have ever read. I was impressed from the very beginning thanks to a list of characters, carefully chosen musical themes, historical photographs and maps. There was not one time in this book that I was confused, not only thanks to the tools given in the beginning, but because each character and place was so well-written into the story. The Maid of Baikal provides a deep history in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way while allowing you to become connected to the characters and their stories. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was drawn in almost instantly. Anyone who loves history or a well-written story will love Maid of Baikal.

Quill says: The Maid of Baikal is an intriguing tale of war, miracles and the power of faith that is sure to engross history lovers.

For more information on The Maid of Baikal: A Novel of the Russian Civil War, please visit the author's website at: www.prestonfleming.com

#BookReview - Whisperings


By: Julie Halliwell
Publisher: Off the Porch Press
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-0-692-88340-2
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 22, 2018

In an enchanting tale of good versus evil, Julie Halliwell resurrects the archangels in her debut novel, Whisperings.

Michael, the archangel, protects against all forces of evil. Is it fate that Miguel, Jibreel and Rafael have embarked upon their respective journeys to make the world a better place of courage and hope? Perhaps it is more than fate.

Miguel lives in the Mexican countryside. His work consists of long days from sunup to sundown conducting back-breaking work in the fields. His pay is small and the drug cartel he works for could care less. They have product to be harvested and that's what matters most.

Halfway around the world, Jibreel is a young Hindu girl trying to make a better way. School is forbidden for the children in the small village near the Hindu Kush mountains. This, however, is not a deterrent for Jibreel and her young sister Hila. They are in search of purpose and the evils of the Taliban will not take this notion away from either of them. The very essence of Hila's name means 'hope.'

Rafael is a young African boy. He lives in one of the richest countries on the mighty continent of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a goat herder and spends his days tending to his herd and often ponders his purpose.

Each of these humans have been chosen by a higher power and in time, clarity will resonate for them to make the difference they are intended to achieve. Miguel learns he is named after the archangel Michael; the glorious protector against evil. Jibreel is named after the honorable messenger Gabriel. Rafael was named after the God of love.

Yuri is the conduit that will bring the three chosen together to launch his international peace project. He is privileged and six years earlier, his life consisted of a free-spirited enjoyment in a life as a university student in Moscow. Originally from the Ukraine, he lived a simple life on his family farm until oil was discovered. His life changed from humble beginnings to belonging to a family of great wealth. Unbeknownst to him, he would be the chosen one to unite Miguel, Jibreel and Rafael to solidify their quest of making the world a better place - a place of courage and hope for generations to come.

Julie Halliwell has penned an inspiring body of work. Her direct approach in focusing on the premise of Archangels and the power of belief is poignant throughout this novel. She uses simple language and realistic events that plant a seed of believability across the pages. There is heartache as much as there is victory in the scenes she sets that are anchored with credible dialogue. I applaud Ms. Halliwell for her patience in laying the groundwork through her worlds and delivering the premise of hope to anyone who is willing to embrace the story. The takeaway is a strong message of belief and faith. Well done Ms. Halliwell. I look forward to your next book.

Quill says: Whisperings is a novel of hope and new beginnings that encourages the reader to have a little faith and a whole lot of belief.

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

#BookReview - Just Between Us

Just Between Us

By: Rebecca Drake
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-1250167200
Reviewed by: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: January 22, 2018

Alison, Julie, Sarah, and Heather may seem like a typical group of friends. They enjoy coffee after they drop their children off at school, some go to full time jobs while others are stay-at-home moms, but in reality, they are anything but typical. They all are hiding secrets, some more than others, secrets that can not only put them in danger, but hurt their families as well.

Alison works from home with an IT company and Julie works in real estate. Sarah and Heather are both stay-at-home moms. Although these four friends are not extravagantly rich by any means, they do live in a nice neighborhood with very little crime.

One morning as the ladies are settling into their favorite coffee shop, when Alison goes to receive their order, she notices something on Heather's arm. Heather, trying her best to hide it, didn't notice that her sleeve had risen up, exposing a bruise on her arm. When Alison asks her about it, Heather claims she must have bumped into something and brushes it off. Alison, concerned that it could be something more, lets it go, but brings it up to Julie. Alison thinks that it is possible that Heather's husband Viktor is abusing her. Julie doesn't think that there is anything wrong and that Alison is just being a little too paranoid. Julie talks to Sarah and they both agree that Alison is wrong and brush it off. They do not want to believe that Viktor, a well-known surgeon, could be hurting his wife. Although the ladies do not think that Viktor is abusing Heather, they do start to pay attention a little more.

One night while they are all at a party, Julie notices Heather and Viktor talking alone. Julie also notices that Heather looks a little tense while Viktor has a firm grip on Heather's arms. Not wanting them to see her, Julie tries to walk away, but Heather and Viktor notice her and rejoin the party like nothing ever happened. With Alison's theory in her head, Julie starts to wonder if Viktor could be abusing Heather. It isn't until the ladies are at the park with their children and they notice a mark on Heather's stomach, that they realize that Viktor is abusing Heather and that they need to help her.
After this incident, the group decides to have a sort of intervention with Heather. Heather, feeling as if she is being ambushed, finally agrees that Viktor isn’t the awesome doctor who everyone sees and confirms their suspicions. Although the ladies try to convince Heather to leave him, she refuses. Heather also informs the group that she is pregnant, which her friends think is even more of a reason to leave Viktor. As Heather continues to refuse to leave Viktor, her friend's concern continues to grow.

One night as Alison is sleeping, she receives the call that they all have been dreading. Heather calls Alison frantically in the middle of the night. Alison, worried that Viktor is about to do something, is surprised to hear that Viktor is dead. Alison, trying to calm a frantic Heather, rushes over while calling Julie and Sarah along the way. When they all arrive, they try to calm Heather down. Knowing, because of Viktor's injuries, that it would not look like self-defense, they come up with a plan to make it look like a carjacking, and take his car to the spot they picked out. Thinking that it is all over, and that they covered their tracks, they try to go back to normal.

The police begin an investigation and soon, the four friends start to worry that they may not have covered up everything and their nervousness grows. While they are trying to remain calm and continue on as normal, they receive a letter from someone claiming to know what the women did. The blackmailer has photos of that night and is planning on going to the police unless the women pay up.

The women are left to make a decision that could not only harm them, but will also affect their families as well. Their decision will change their lives forever.

Just Between Us is a really great book. The whole story is so suspenseful that I was not able to put it down. It is very well written with a lot of detail that makes you feel like you are there. There are so many twists that just when I thought I knew where it was going, it changed and it was something totally unexpected. When I first began Just Between Us, I thought I knew where the story was going, but admit I was very wrong - and that's part of what made this such a fun read.

Quill says: Just Between Us is a great suspenseful story that will show you just how much your decisions can alter and impact your life. It is a really great read.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

#AuthorInterview with David Litwack @DavidLitwack

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with David Litwack, author of The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3)

FQ: As an entrepreneur who developed several successful businesses...when, exactly did you have time to write?

LITWACK: The short answer is, I didn’t. Between building businesses and raising a family, I gave up writing for many years, until my two sons were grown and I had more time.

FQ: According to your bio, you wrote exactly five pages a day. I have to ask: How many do you get to write now? And, as in the past, are you a writer who makes sure to set a certain number of pages to complete each day?

LITWACK: In the early days, I needed the discipline of completing five pages. This was especially true when producing the Seekers trilogy, which was a daunting task. Now, I write when the ideas swirling in my brain compel me to—less frequently than before, but with better results.

FQ: Orah and Nathaniel are a fantastic duo. Where did the idea for this tale come from? Are the characters based on people in real life, perhaps?

LITWACK: I suspect all fiction has an element of real life experience, but for me the characters evolve with the story. I get to know them as one gets to know close friends over a period of years, constantly discovering something new about them. Many times, I attempted a plot turn, but Orah and Nathaniel resisted.

Both of these characters sprouted from a seed, planted during a long walk along Falmouth Heights beach near my home on Cape Cod. This path along the ocean passes two inlets: Little Pond and Great Pond. I imagined growing up in Little Pond with a sense that there was something greater out there waiting. My main characters are two sides of this feeling: Nathaniel is idealistic but impulsive, willing to take any risk to fulfill his adolescent vision of greatness; Orah wants just as much from life, but is more cautious. She approaches each challenge with careful planning, although she’s no less passionate than Nathaniel.

FQ: As a writer, how difficult was it to say so long to characters that have been with you for so long? Is there a time of depression that comes after the final edit has taken place and it’s off for publishing?

LITWACK: The parting was harder than I thought. I’d lived with these characters for more than four years, my mood rising and falling with their successes and failures. Like them, I struggled to find solutions to their seemingly insurmountable problems. The good news is that I can visit them anytime I wish and share memories.

FQ: So what is being planned for 2018? Do you already have a new series in mind, and, if so, can you give readers a sneak preview of what’s going on in that creative mind of yours?

LITWACK: I’m hoping to release a couple of books by the end of 2018. The first will be a new edition of one of my favorites, Along the Watchtower. Like many of my works, this one crosses genres, but more so than the others. It takes place half in the world of a wounded Iraq War vet rehabilitating in a VA hospital, and half in a fantasy realm concocted by his damaged mind, where he strives to overcome demons he’s unable to confront in the real world.

The second is a work-in-progress, and has been tough going, due to a variety of factors: needing a break after the four-year push to complete the Seekers trilogy; some family health issues; and a shift in the kind of novel I wanted to write.

I’ve completed fifty thousand words, but will require some effort to publish by the end of 2018. Like Along the Watchtower, this next novel is a mix of fantasy and reality, but in this story, the protagonist actually crosses into a fantasy realm, thanks to the power of magic.

Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, gave the classic definition of Science Fiction vs. Fantasy:
“It is said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things. Science fiction is the improbable made possible, and fantasy is the impossible made probable.”

My latest work moves further into fantasy than any of my others. In an increasingly chaotic world, sometimes even the possible seems too remote. Time to step through that door and use magic to make the impossible probable.

Stay tuned.

FQ: Is there a certain genre you have not yet written in which you would like to try one day? Is Sci-Fi/Dystopian your favorite realm?

LITWACK: I like to claim that I write literary speculative fiction, which lets me explore my major themes without the constraints of reality. In some cases, this requires an alternate or dystopian world. In others, it may be a alternate view of reality as seen through the eyes of my main character. With my next effort, I’m adding the dimension of magic.

The “literary” label tries to distinguish my works from pure genre fiction (scifi or fantasy). I always aspire to create strong characters, explore thoughtful themes, and tell a good story.

FQ: Considering all that you have done in life, was there ever a time when that “dream” of becoming a writer disappeared? If so, what encouragement/event allowed you to resuscitate that dream?

LITWACK: I wrote throughout my twenties and then stopped as career and family intervened. But truth be told, I also stopped because, as an insecure twenty-something, I needed some positive reinforcement. They say to become a good writer takes ten thousand hours and a million words. After several years, I was less than halfway there. My writing also suffered from some of the pretenses of youth, having not yet learned the most important skill of a writer—to tell a good story.

Of course, I wish I had all those years back to allow me to write more books, but I believe that the passage of time—with so many new experiences (good and bad)—was needed to get me to where I am today.

FQ: Authors are always asked to give a piece of advice to those who are just beginning down the writing path; something they should do that will help them on their journey. But if you could give one piece of advice on what not to do, or what to avoid, what would that be?

LITWACK: On the craft side, read, read, read, and write, write, write. There’s no shortcut and no substitute. On the emotional side, if you love it so deeply that you have no choice but to write, keep at it and never quit. If not, give it up. It’s not an easy path.

To learn more about The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3) please read the review.

#BookReview - A Deadly Ecliar

A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery

By: Daryl Wood Gerber
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-1683313410
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 15, 2018

Agatha award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber gives her new "French Bistro" mystery series a strong start with the first book in the series, A Deadly Éclair.
As the series opens, we meet Mimi Rousseau, a seasoned chef, who has been forced to leave San Francisco by her husband's untimely death and his enormous debt. She returns home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley, where her best friend Jo introduces Mimi to Bryan Baker. Bryan, a wealthy entrepreneur who loves to help young people who he thinks hold promise, sees something in Mimi and quickly agrees to finance her dream - a bistro and right next door to it - a cute little bed and breakfast. Both businesses are in need of "love" and Mimi quickly gets to work to build both businesses and work off her debt to Bryan.

The first event at the inn is the wedding of Angelica Edmonton, a famous talk show host who also happens to be the daughter of Bryan's half brother Edison. No pressure to pull off the perfect event...

Mimi and her devoted staff get to work to cook up some amazing, memorable food for both the wedding reception as well as the dinner the night before the wedding. While the food is amazing, some of the guests could use some lessons in manners, including the bride's father Edison, who gets drunk at the dinner and causes some problems. Mimi is able to get the guests, and the dinner, back on track and the evening finishes up on a strong note. But the real trouble is about to begin...

The next morning, Bryan is found dead with an éclair stuffed into his mouth. Mimi is just as stunned as everyone else but when the evidence starts pointing to her, she knows she's going to have to work hard to clear her name - and find the real killer. Shortly after Bryan's body is found, Sergeant Tyson Daly, a childhood friend of Mimi's, arrives to question her. It seems that somebody called Bryan shortly before he was killed, and the call came from Mimi's cell phone. And then when it's discovered that Bryan left a letter in his office that said if he should die, his estate would forgive Mimi's debt, things go from bad to worse for Mimi. Strong motive indeed!

Told in the first person by Mimi, it was easy to get drawn into the story quickly. The author brings Mimi to life and makes her a likeable character, and the reader can certainly feel the pressure she was under, hoping her first event would be a success. Background information is introduced quickly so that the story can gear up and get going. There were a few spots in the book where the story slowed a bit, but overall it was a very enjoyable read. It's not the sort of mystery where I have to stay up late into the night to finish the book, but rather an easy read over several days. Note that when you read this book, you'll likely get hungry over and over as Mimi is always cooking up something delicious. Fortunately, the author has included numerous recipes at the back of the book so readers can enjoy some of the same delicacies that the protagonist created at her bistro.

Quill says: A Deadly Éclair is a strong start to a new cozy mystery series.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

#BookReview - A Penny for Your Thoughts @SherrillCannon

A Penny for Your Thoughts

By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-1946540560
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Review Date: January 12, 2018

Award-winning author Sherrill Cannon has a knack for turning feelings into words in her latest book of poems on love and loss.

Cannon’s newest has been a long time in the making. A collection of one hundred plus poems geared for a wide range of ages (middle school on) who have experienced the joys and sorrows associated with love, Cannon’s writing reflects many, many years of creativity that didn’t just pile up in notebooks. According to her website, the former teacher applied her gift of wordsmithing to help others: "As a teacher, I used poetry to help counsel many troubled teens and friends, and have continued this pattern throughout the years."

Now in book form, and appropriately divided into three poignant sections, Cannon invites readers to embrace her words of wisdom through this marvelous journey called life.

Subtitled Poems of Love and Loss (Feelings Into Words), Cannon goes a step further by adding Coin Toss? in her Table of Contents. Each carefully weighed section—Heads...Of Love and Friendship; Spinning—Of Related Emotions; and Tails...of Heartache and Anguish—begins to make sense...one poem at a time.

Keeping largely but not exclusively to first-person narrative, her first section centers on light issues, such as friends, lovers, parent and child relationships, God, music, and even the beloved Teddy Bear. But as she moves on to sections two and three, the timbre slowly darkens into areas of loss, such as loved ones moving away and death.

Cannon’s assortment of mellifluous poetry, many sprinkled with puns, is replete with free verse, blank verse, couplets, simple 4-line rhymes, alternating rhymes, quatrains, haiku, and concrete poems, just to name a few. Amid the bulk of Cannon’s work, though, are sonnets.
While the various poetic forms in A Penny for Your Thoughts do admirably to translate “feelings into words,” Cannon capitalizes upon her love theme by using a potent structure to verbalize this amorous mien: the Shakespearean sonnet.

Audiences familiar with The Bard’s works will immediately recognize how Cannon effectively captures the varied expressions of this commanding yet fickled four-letter word that is known as “love.” Perfect examples of the Shakespearean sonnet include “Music,” “Sonnet to Friendship,” and “The Road.”

(From “Music”)

“Stop and hear the music in your life— A melody for you to sing along; For it will soothe your heart and ease your strife. If you would only listen to its song...”

Second to the Shakespearean sonnet usage is the Petrarchan. Examples include “A Memory,” “Tentative,” and “The Transplant.”

(From “Transplant”)

“It really wasn’t very long ago, My plant was set into this strange new ground Where everything was different. But it found That even in new sunlight, it could grow...”

There is no vulgarity. Every word spoken is straightforward, intentional, and from the heart. If the reader follows judiciously, he/she will discover that the poems provide plenty to ruminate on and are very therapeutic for those who have unresolved conflict.

Quill says: A Penny for Your Thoughts is so much more than another compilation of poems; it is indeed a book of healing.

For more information on A Penny for Your Thoughts, please visit the publisher's website at: www.sbpra.com/sherrillscannon

#BookReview - The Light of Reason @DavidLitwack

The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3)

By: David Litwack
Publisher: Evolved Publishing LLC
Publication Date: November 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62253-438-8
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 9, 2018

What began in the spectacular book, The Children of Darkness, and then continued in the equally-spectacular, The Stuff of Stars, now concludes with this, The Light of Reason. Let us just begin with the fact that this author has most definitely created a memorable ending for this great series that speaks to readers. In fact, this is one of those rare series that do the genres of Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, and even Religious Fiction, proud.

First, a quick recap: This journey stars childhood friends, Orah and Nathaniel—two kids who grew up in the very small village of Little Pond. Like most who are born in areas that are limited when it comes to things to do, Orah and Nathaniel always wanted to see the world and experience life outside the borders of their town.

Little Pond was not always considered a “nice area.” In fact, a thousand years ago the “Darkness” came upon the village; a world ruled by fear and violence commenced, where technology brought about evil. It was the vicars of the Temple of Light who introduced peace and kept it for centuries by utilizing what they called “temple magic.” When Thomas—Orah and Nathaniel’s pal—returned from the Temple after his teaching, he was a depressed, broken young man. And when Orah received her summons to go to said temple to receive her instruction, Nathaniel rushed to save her from becoming just as broken.

This journey went into the prisons of Temple City, and allowed readers to join Orah and Nathaniel’s escape as they kept one step ahead of lies and secrets in order to find the forbidden keep. Now, concluding their story, this couple has finally accomplished what they sought out to do...and so much more. They are now on a ship headed home in order to bring about a better, kinder life for the people of Little Pond. They have missed their family and friends terribly, and can’t wait to see their village once again. They are also no longer just friends: Orah and Nathaniel return to Little Pond as husband and wife.

The ship they travel aboard was designed by the dreamers, some of which have accompanied them home. The first glimpse of their past comes in the form of a bright light cutting through the fog; a light that blazes from the top of a wooden tower on the seashore that had never been there before. Nathaniel’s father is waiting for their arrival. But instead of being the vibrant man they once knew, he is now a weary soul who looks as if death is only a short distance away. The reason for this comes with a tale that includes the disappearance of a loved one, and a mighty, evil grand vicar (AKA: The Usurper) who has literally strived for power and has been crushing anyone and anything that gets in his way or attempts to usurp his reign.

Orah and Nathaniel planned for a fabulous homecoming, where their newly acquired wisdom, combined with a “special treasure” they have brought with them, would usher in a new age for Little Pond. Unfortunately, a horrific battle lay in front of them instead. The seekers are about to become leaders of an army that will have to fight evil in order to see the days of enlightenment begin.
In a nutshell: Start with Book 1 and immerse yourself in these incredible seekers, dreamers, keepmasters, and more. You will be completely pleased with this author’s incredible writing, the flow of the dialogue, and will ultimately fall in love with two young people who grew up to be incredible adults.

Quill says: Make room on your bookshelves because this is definitely a trilogy you will want to read again and again.

For more information on The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3), please visit the author's website at: www.davidlitwack.com

Monday, January 8, 2018

#BookReview - His Grandfather's House @ronfritsch

His Grandfather’s House

By: Ron Fritsch
Publisher: Asymmetric Worlds
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-0997882933
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 6, 2018

One of the few consistent parent figures in Kurt Reinhart’s life was his grandfather Henry Reinhart. Kurt’s actual parents were Johnny Reinhart and Lorelei Juergen, who married quickly at eighteen years old in a shotgun wedding at the Justice of the Peace. Five months later Kurt was born and then his father Johnny quickly enlisted and went to fight in World War II. During those times Lorelei became more and more distant from her son, and when Johnny returned from the war she quickly ran off with a gentleman friend from California. The trauma from the war and then the betrayal of his wife was too much for Johnny to handle, and he took his own life just after his son, Kurt, had turned four.

Now, with both parents gone, Henry takes it upon himself to raise his grandson and teach him all about running the farm. Kurt is eager to learn and takes pride in doing everything his grandfather teaches him, and he even decides against doing sports to make sure he is there to help his grandfather on the farm. However, there have always been accusations surrounding Henry Reinhart that suggest he only acquired the land he has by committing murder. The rumors all started when Henry’s brother Conrad was found drowned in a creek when they were children. Henry was the only one who saw what happened, and even though there was no hard evidence against him, the entire town instantly assumed that Henry killed his brother in order to obtain their father’s farm.

These accusations never made any sense to Kurt, because the man he saw and had come to love was not a murderer. Sure, he was a tough businessman who worked toward his goals, but Kurt never believed he would have actually killed someone, especially his own brother. As Kurt grew up he wanted to know the truth about his grandfather, so he would inquire with other members of the family and friends of his grandfather, trying to get to the bottom of these accusations. For, the man who had raised Kurt from childhood couldn’t be a cold-blooded killer, could he?

The plot of this book is quite intriguing as it is filled with secrets, small town gossip, and also a little action. The new developments that emerged as Kurt began to learn more and more about his grandfather’s past was exciting, but I did find this book a little hard to follow at times. It is not written in the first person from Kurt or Henry's point of view, but rather it's told by several of the characters. All the different "voices" and points of view often made the story confusing. There are numerous times where the author writes about something that happened in the past, and at those times I found that I had to stop and figure out what was happening in the story. Still, the plot was absorbing and I found myself eager to discover the truth about Henry Reinhart.

Quill says: While the writing style holds the characters back a bit, His Grandfather's House has an interesting plot that will keep you wondering what really did happen all those years ago.

To learn more about His Grandfather's House, please visit the book's website at: www.hisgrandfathershouse.com

#BookReview - Obedience @vgkilgore


By: V.G. Kilgore
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 2017
ISBN: 978-1546343301
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 5, 2018

The story of Noah, the Ark, and the flood is one that many people know well, but little is said about what happened in the time after the flood. After all, life had to find a way to continue after the rains had stopped and author V.G. Kilgore gives us a glimpse into what transpired when the Ark finally hit land again.

Noah’s youngest son Ham has never been the most obedient child, but he has always been a hard worker and became a huge help to his father. However, when Ham fell in love with Lita, the daughter of a fisherman, his whole outlook on the world changed. Suddenly, she was all he could think about and he would go down to the shores to buy fish from her father just to catch a glimpse of her. With feelings this strong, Ham could not help but think that this type of passion could only come from God. Unfortunately, Noah did not share Ham's view on the romance, and wanted Ham to marry someone of Noah's choosing, and a woman who held a higher rank in the community. Knowing that his feelings for Lita would not let him be happy with another woman, Ham told his father that if he did not give his blessing for their marriage he would leave, and Noah would then lose his hardworking son. With a grumble Noah agrees and allows Ham and Lita to marry.

After their marriage, Ham and Lita were extremely happy. A very loving couple, they had seven children together.

When Noah tells his family of God’s command to build an Ark, Ham begins to question his father's sanity, for why would God ask a farmer to build a boat? Even though he is not sure, Ham does what he is asked and helps to build this boat and is surprised when pairs of all the animals come forward to board, just as his father said they would. As Ham and his wife cling to each other when the flood waters come, they both grieve over the people who are lost and hope that wherever this journey is taking them, it will bring a better life. Over the course of the forty days they are aboard the Ark, Lita finds out she is pregnant and the pair are elated that their child will be the first born in the new world. When the rains stop and the Ark hits land, everyone on board is ready to start their new lives and establish rules and traditions for a new future. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes both Ham and Lita, leaving them wondering if this life is really any better than the one they left behind; the one that was devoured in water.

This book was quite fun and intriguing to read. When I first read the book's summary, I was worried the writing would be too structured - much like a history book instead of a novel. Fortunately, author V.G. Kilgore writes in such a way that it was just like reading a good dramatic story. Each of the characters were developed fully, as their unique personalities were shown allowing the reader to relate to each one. This is not a book that is simply restating a famous story, but one that dives deeper into the emotions, the fears, and the joys that each character would have felt and that made for a great story.

Quill says: This was a wonderful book, giving the reader a great addition to a well-known story.
For more information on Obedience, please visit the author's Facebook page.

#BookReview - Walking with the Enemy

Walking with the Enemy: A Testimony

By: C. Read
Publisher: True Light Publications
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9672825-7-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 5, 2018

In the world we live in today, it is not that difficult to come across a news story that is pure evil. What is amazingly difficult, however – as well as frightening – is the fact that because of so many horrific events, people are hardly batting an eyelash when the next one hits the headlines. It is rare to find that glimmer of hope...a story that, although wrapped in horror relates how a person walked through darkness in order to see the light through the power of her faith in God.

Not unlike the Branch Davidians who suffered death and destruction by following the teachings of a demon by the name of David Koresh (who, unfortunately will live in all of our memories for a good, long time to come), this woman discovered her faith only to find herself immersed in a Bible study group that was all about lies. A collection of people who most definitely fell under the definition of “cult” and not an actual loving group.

C. Read is not a flighty woman, by the way. We are talking about a member of the United States Marine Corp. who found her way and committed her life to the Lord in the fall of 1979. A Marine, whom she had never met, came up to this woman, handed her a Bible and walked away. This was the moment in time when C. Read began studying Jesus and walking down a path that had everything to do with living a life based on faith. For three years Read was a part of a Bible study group with members and “leaders” who she had grown to love and respect. When lies were uncovered, however, and the truth was revealed about evil things these people were doing and saying, that respect and trust was lost.

In this book, readers are given her testimony. She explains various meetings and offers up a variety of letters that went back and forth between her and the leaders/members of the group, as well as letters that her husband penned when it came to his outlook of what was going on. She shows how Bill and his ministry strived to get her back within the confines of the group, and how much they wanted to get her back under their control so she would not release the truth about them and their teachings to the rest of the world. She offers up many experiences; she also includes a section of End Notes that give extra information on the events she talks about, as well as the scripture she quotes.

Readers will note that this testimony – the unveiling of secrets, etc. – takes a while to be told. For approximately the first 100 pages of this book, the reader is given many of the letters to read that do not exactly get into the facts. Instead, these are letters stating who was right and who was wrong, and why. There are also apologies by the author to friends and family, as well as a great deal of scripture references before getting to the exact details of what occurred.

In the end, this is all about one woman’s enlightenment, and she does a good job of bringing hope and restoring faith to readers who perhaps have misplaced theirs along the way. Whether you are a believer or a critic, C. Read’s testimony is something you should “listen to.”

Quill says: This author should be commended for bringing her struggle to light in order to make others aware of the evil that is still, unfortunately, operating among us.

For more information on Walking with the Enemy: A Testimony, please visit the publisher's website at: www.truelightpublications.com