Monday, November 30, 2020

#BookReview - Apex by Tyler Michael


By: Tyler Michael
Published by: Tyler Michael Books
Publication Date: October 2020
ISBN: 978-0578781990
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: November 29, 2020

Gaming is the overarching theme behind Tyler Michael’s compelling saga, Apex,beginning with a simple camping trip and ending in international intrigue, with much blood shed along the way.

Chris is a college grad trying to figure out what to do with his life, and in the meantime, he leads new campers on wilderness adventures, teaching hardcore survival skills. On this gig, he’s with Kate, an athletic young female college student, and Kevin, who has a problem-solver mentality but little experience in the wild or in facing physical challenges. They’re in a national park very familiar to Chris, first night out, already working through the decision of where to camp as the planned location has been flooded. It’s then that Chris meets Ranger, who pulls him into a casual conversation that soon turns somewhat dark: Ranger works for a mysterious organization called Apex that arranges very costly hunting trips for exceedingly wealthy clients – all in a cloak of secrecy.

Somewhere across the globe, three men have been summoned to a meeting to arrange their next assignment: they will have three targets, and all three must be destroyed. The stakes are high – in the millions of dollars – and all three men willingly sign on, knowing what they must do.

The next day, Chris, Kate and Kevin wake up in an unknown place, with red wristwatches strapped to their wrists. The three are now the unwitting prey of three motivated, ruthless hunters. The young campers’ personal survival skills, down to the most basic life-and-death scenarios, are all that they have for safety. This bizarre sport will be played to the last breath.

Author Tyler Michael is a self-described “film and video game enthusiast” who has here created two kinds of games, at first highlighting the activities of the young campers learning the rules of the wild, and then superseded by the evil schemes of high-stakes bettors willing to kill for sport and selfish entertainment. The plot belongs as much to the amoral hunters, whose names are all color-coded, as to the youthful, essentially naïve nature-loving explorers. The hunters are competing with one another, their rivalry contrasting with the life-loving determination of the young people they are charged with eliminating. The author, in this debut work, shows strong plot sense and the ability to switch scenes and viewpoints page by page. There will be a winner in the game and a sad but needed denouement, in this unusual, imaginative story.

Quill says: Tyler Michael’s dark tale is recommended for teen and adult readers, bearing in mind that violence and danger are ever-present factors in the action-filled, do-or-die drama that cries for a sequel.

For more information on Apex, please visit the author's website at:


Sunday, November 29, 2020

#BookReview - The Greatest Hoax on Earth

The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can

By: Alan C. Logan
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
ISBN: 9781736197400
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: November 28, 2020

Award-winning author Alan Logan debunks myths of the iconic con man, Frank W. Abagnale, in his newest release, The Greatest Hoax on Earth.

Who hasn’t heard the likes of Frank W. Abagnale or the iconic movie Catch Me If You Can? The twice-over millionaire peppered with a list of distinguished job descriptions and passing seventeen thousand bad checks—all under the age of twenty-one. What very few know is that the famous con man is really a con man extraordinaire. Logan unravels the truth of Abagnale, the man who sweepingly caught the attention of people internationally in his newest book, The Greatest Hoax on Earth.

The year is 1977—a time when the public shifted “appetite for sensation and infotainment over substance” (much like today’s news), and the world is looking for their next hero based on all things outlandish. One shining example is Evel Knievel with his daredevil stunts. Just as Knievel loses popularity, Frank W. Abagnale jumps in, running on the heals of this epic figure, starting with a sixteen-page dossier filled with audacious tales of his youth. Abagnale’s convincingly impassioned con-man-turned-conscientious story takes him from local Houston news to a contestant on the To Tell the Truth game show, springboarding him to Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, which cinches his madcap-tales credibility and made him “America’s favorite con man.”

A year later, two different journalists—one from the San Francisco Chronicle and the other from The Daily Oklahoman—took it upon themselves to verify Abagnale’s story. Their investigations lead them to realize that the con man lied on top of lies and continued to fabricate stories. But since this was the pre-digital age, the not-widely-publicized articles paled against the well-established belief the public had about him. What unfolds is the truth about Frank W. Abagnale, which is “not the story of a teenage mastermind” but rather “the story of a troubled adult…”

Logan utilizes his sleuthing skills to trace the truth behind Frank Abagnale’s past. The Belfast-born historian includes over three-hundred bibliographic entries, not to mention primary-source pictures, and deftly weaves them into a story that is so much more than The Great Imposter’s life. While Logan unfolds the heroic attempts of the comprehensive 1978 investigations from small-town journalists to expose Abagnale’s fantastical claims, he also focuses on the people Abagnale took advantage of: most significantly, Paula Parks (Delta Airlines stewardess at the time), her family, and Mark Zinder, Abagnale’s booking manager, taking Abagnale’s tale back to 1969.

Well-written chapters incorporate storytelling and dialogue amid a flurry of facts. Logan adds an interesting element of leaving some chapters dangling while filling readers with chronological data before bringing them to a close.

Quill says: The Greatest Hoax on Earth is a shocking and eye-opening must-read for all, especially Abagnale enthusiasts.

For more information on The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can,please visit the website at: 


#BookReview - Journey to Jumbalot

Journey to Jumbalot

By: Ryan Wakefield
Publication Date: February 2021
Reviewed By: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: November 2020

Upon reading the first pages of Journey to Jumbalot, by debut author Ryan Wakefield, readers will quickly discover that the story is more than just the journey of a housecat named Alby; it’s an adventure of epic proportions filled with exciting highs and lows and, the most intriguing part, hybrid animals.

Our story begins with Alby, a chronically hungry cat, who was once a stray, but now lives in a house with the wise Professor Wizoom, who busies himself inventing things in his home laboratory. On one particular evening, Alby hears all sorts of noise in the house and discovers that the professor is busy at work in his lab creating something mysterious that looks like a triangular doorway. Wizoom explains to the kitty about his hopes and plans that he’ll finally have his childhood dream come true of being able to travel to unknown lands once he completes the necessary adjustments to his creation.

The next day Alby awakens to complete silence, and is unable to locate Wizoom anywhere in the house. A few hours later, however, loud noises and flashing lights emanate from the lab, causing Alby to get excited assuming the professor is coming home. Instead, the housecat hears strange voices coming from the triangular doorway, imploring him to be brave and “help them,” so Alby does what anybody would do in this situation when somebody important is lost, he enters the strange doorway in search of Professor Wizoom.

After getting spun through a tunnel filled with bright lights, Alby finds himself in a strange but beautiful land with glowing grass, an endless amount of multicolored flowers, and great forests as far as the cat’s eyes can see. Unfortunately he also notices that the doorway he came through closed behind him, and he’s unable to go back through, so he decides he must travel forward in search of the professor. Alby hopes the professor will be able to open the door, and get them safely back home. No sooner does Alby make this decision than he sees a wolf-like animal with wings flying in the air, and sitting on top of its back is a terrifying lizard-like man, with the head of a shark. This "man" is busy communicating to his wrist about trying to find the intruder that recently came through the gate into their world. Luckily Alby is able to narrowly escape being caught by the scary creature by hiding in a tree until it flies off in an angry huff, but he’s quickly confronted again by another odd-looking, less menacing animal, this time a frog with spotty green hair and a furry tail. The frog encourages Alby to eat something called a jumberry so they can properly communicate with each other. Alby agrees and immediately is able to tell the frog about going through a door in his world in search of his owner, Professor Wizoom, while the frog introduces himself as Fremmy the froguar, living in this land called Jumbalot. Fremmy decides that even though Alby is a weird-looking trespasser in Jumbalot, he will help the lost cat find the professor, and get back through the gates toward home. First, however, they must travel to the Kingdom of Jowla to speak with the special animals who will hopefully know how to get the ancient gates to reopen once again. While on their quest, the pair will become close friends as they encounter a plethora of brilliant hybrid animals including yetiguanas, tigeroons, and bearhinoxes, all in the magical kingdom of Jumbalot. But will Fremmy and Alby not only successfully find the lost Professor Wizoom, but also be able to get through the ancient gates back home, or will something far more sinister stop them in their tracks, and threaten not only their safety, but the survival of the entire land of Jumbalot?

Journey to Jumbalot is a wonderful tale for middle-grade children in search of a read that’s a bit different from the usual fantasy-based story filled with goblins, dragons or talking animals. After all, it is hard to resist not being excited dreaming of the images of powerful creatures such as the brave half-human, half-dinosaur, brontaurs, or the irresistibly cute half-frog, half-jaguar, froguar named Fremmy. Not to mention the fact that the actual story is packed with a wildly thrilling adventure, and is sprinkled with silly humor, that’s both easy to read and sends a few feel-good messages about bravery and perseverance. While enjoying Journey to Jumbalot, readers may crave a few more drawings of scenes within the story, especially of the hybrid creatures that are not depicted on the front and back covers. However, in the end I’ve come to believe that my imagination, and the imagination of future readers, will be far more exciting in creating our own ideas of what something looks like rather than if it were simply drawn out by the author. Therefore, let your imagination run wild and you’ll easily enjoy going on the adventure with Alby and Fremmy on their journey in Jumbalot.

Quill says: Are you craving a wild children’s adventure filled with unusual fantastical creatures? Then you definitely do not want to miss Journey to Jumbalot!

For more information on Journey to Jumbalot, please visit the website:


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

#BookReview - Soul Seeker (Gehenna) by Kaylin McFarren

Soul Seeker (Gehenna)

By: Kaylin McFarren
Published by: Creative Edge Publishing
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 979-8-6652-8490-3
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 24, 2020

In our minds, as readers, we begin with familiarity: The stench of the prison; the cold air that seems to penetrate the skin (even though you’re home in a nice, warm room reading); the clank of the handcuffs; the clunk of the locks on the metal doors. Here is where we first meet the murderer, Benjamin Poe. Now, Benjamin has been in prison for four years, found guilty of killing his own son. Although he has always stated that, yes, he did fire all the bullets; Ben has also always stated that it was not his son he was after.

Enter attorney Pierce Beaudoin. With a slightly failing independent practice, Pierce is hoping that helping this high-profile defendant who is most certainly headed for Death Row no matter what ‘magic’ a lawyer tries to create at the last minute, will help Pierce bring in more clients. So here he sits in Lochton Correctional Institute in small town Lochton, Illinois, staring at Ben. Pierce is looking for any information on who might have also been there the night of the killing if Ben is telling the truth about “being after someone else” when he fired the gun.

What Pierce ends up with is a story of monumental proportions. Not only will he learn all about Benjamin’s life as a firefighter in the small town, but he’s going to learn about the man’s somewhat shaky marriage to Lexi, his relationship with his boy, his devotion to the peaceful town, and how, exactly, Ben was tricked into killing his son by a demon who is the perfect representation of pure and utter evil.

After a wretched fire at the College Inn, where lives are lost, Ben gets a call from a police officer letting him know that a vagrant has been picked up trespassing on the site of the fire who has an odd request: he needs to speak with Ben. Although this person has no priors and is a highly passive man, according to the officer, the one thing about him is that his eyes are such a startling green color that they make Ben, and others, uneasy to be around him.

The name of the "vagrant" is Crighton and his story is unbelievably intertwined with Ben’s as well as other souls he has been sent to seek. Malevolent to a fault, Crighton’s main job is to work for Lucifer rounding up wicked souls and one important angel that Lucifer is after. Trouble is, Crighton finds himself placed in a situation where that particular angel is going to go from being his prey to being his very own soulmate – causing the King of Hell to turn against Crighton.

Now, being the target of Satan’s wrath, Crighton has a new future to think about. He can no longer be an arrogant danger to the populace; instead, he must walk the very thin line of either finding redemption or finding himself thrown into the pits of Hell and living a life of eternal hatred, anger and enslavement.

Even when Benjamin Poe meets his end in the book, the unveiling of the story and how Crighton is introduced into the tale, makes the heart beat fast and causes you to want nothing more than to start the journey as swiftly as possible. And quite a journey it will be, because this book is only the very first in a series entitled "Gehenna."

The book is fast-paced and all the characters you expect to see when speaking of the “otherworldly” are there to enjoy – from the brightest of angels to the darkest and most evil demons, this writer has done a fantastic job of putting it all together.

My advice would be, however, to keep an open mind. Yes, there is romance in this story. I know that some admirers of the category Christian Fiction can’t see past the characters to enjoy the romance, but this book does everything very well. To me, it is an amazing supernatural story that is so good I am already looking forward to seeing where the series goes next.

Quill says: The twists and turns in Soul Seeker are unique, and guaranteed to keep readers on their toes!

For more information on Soul Seeker (Gehenna), please visit the website:


#BookReview - Stocks, Bonds & Taxes by Phillip B. Chute, EA

Stocks, Bonds & Taxes: A Comprehensive Handbook and Investment Guide for Everybody

By: Phillip B. Chute, EA
Published by: Phillip B. Chute EA
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-7328855-3-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 2020

Subtitled, “A Comprehensive Handbook and Investment Guide for Everybody,” the final word in that statement most assuredly is the ultimate selling point of Stocks, Bonds & Taxes. Not only are we all experiencing a rough emotional state in 2020, but small businesses as well as families are suffering financially because of the mess that this pandemic has brought upon us, making this book a critical asset that is needed right now.

This book is definitely aimed at serious investors who are looking their portfolios over and needing that helping hand when it comes to gaining knowledge about what the best ways are to invest in order to not take a header while trying to outlast COVID-19. After all, hiring that financial expert for most is not feasible right now because even though the advice is good (hopefully), those experts expect payment for their services.

When it comes to this "encyclopedia," the author splits the categories up so that they are easily understood and easily researched. The first section, Investments, offers a breakdown into the subcategories of equities, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments available that are not as well known to the public. Every investor is shown and basically walked through the ups and downs of all types of investments, from blue chip stocks and small capital stock to life insurance, mutual fund operations, and even the less talked about items, such as low-income housing credits. In the second section, Life Planning, the reader is given much needed information on financial planning for his/her family, pensions, living trusts, wills, even a break-down of IRAs, the renting/leasing of real estate, and more. A much-needed glossary of terms, as well as an index, provide extra help in order to make sure you are getting as much benefit as you possibly can from this particular advisor.

On that note, this particular author is most definitely giving good advice and can be trusted. Enrolled to Practice before the IRS since 1976, Mr. Chute is both a Registered Investment Advisor and a Registered Security Principal – which means you are getting that ‘helping hand’ from a financial expert with this book, without having to pay the exorbitant bill that most would charge if you set up a meeting.

To say this is a readable book, is putting it simply. Highly organized, each part gives a clear definition of what is going to be discussed. It addresses negative things that can and have happened in the market, while also providing great ‘tips’ for each area that you are interested in investing your money. Highly educational, it is also a casual, informative read that will not cause you to shy away from the terminology, or set it down thinking you’re just “not ready to understand” how best to take care of your money and the financial future of you and yours.

Quill says: Even if we were not living in such anxious times, there are a multitude of reasons why your first investment should be this book.

For more information on Stocks, Bonds & Taxes: A Comprehensive Handbook and Investment Guide for Everybody, please visit that author's website at:


Monday, November 23, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Burt Clinchandhill

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Burt Clinchandhill, author of Aldaraia (The Matthew Bishop Series - Book One).

FQ: Mr. Clinchandhill, per your biography, you are a Dutch-born author. Can you tell readers a bit about when you wrote your first story and how the passion for writing first came about in your life? 

CLINCHANDHILL: As a kid in the seventies and eighties, in my teens, I was intrigued by a British TV show called Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. Fantastic stories told in half an hour that always had a surprising ending. I felt those were the kind of stories I wanted to tell, so I started writing short fantastic stories, which I – of course – felt were pretty good. Unfortunately, none of those words survived, and we'll never know if, indeed, they were any good. 

FQ: You have had a long career in photography. Has this creative pursuit helped your writing? In addition, because of that career path, do you create your own book covers? 

CLINCHANDHILL: To start with your last question, no, I don't create my own covers. A very talented lady from Ukraine designed my indie-published book covers, and for my latest books, my publisher works with a talented designer named Kabir Shah from the UK. Don’t you love that the world has become the small place it is now? Regarding my photography career. When studying photography, you learn to visualize a picture before you take it. I like to think that's how I write. Before the words appear on paper, I visualize every image, every scene, like a movie. When I close my eyes, I see my characters speak every piece of dialogue, and the environment they're in. 

FQ: Please tell readers a little about this fantastic title, Aldaraia, and when/how the idea came to you in regards to this work? In addition, will this be part of a series or a trilogy? 

CLINCHANDHILL: To be honest, I wanted to write a 'Dan Brown-like' story. Not that I'm a big fan of his writing style, but I love the way he develops a story—especially the intertwining of past and present and making it (almost) believable. The same goes for the books by Michael Crichton and the way he combines adventure with current medical knowledge to create science fiction stories. Fantastic and, again, believable. I try to tell my stories, however wild sometimes, in a plausible way. 

FQ: Do your characters, in this case Matthew Bishop, share any characteristics with you personally? 

CLINCHANDHILL: I don't think so, at least not much. He and I like fishing and traveling, but for the rest. I do think that all of my characters reflect some smaller traits of me. Even the bad guys. I do like strong but flawed character so in that way we might have more in common than I like to agree on. 

FQ: With other titles, such as Kursk, 47 Hours, etc., you concentrated on true stories and real-life tragedies. Is this work more "out of the realm" for you when it comes to genre? If so, what made you decide to go in this direction with your writing? 

CLINCHANDHILL: I love this current genre. This is absolutely my favorite. It took this long to write my first book in this genre because I simply believed I couldn't do it, that it simply would be too difficult to do. That's why I started with more or less true stories like Kursk. I felt that a story like Kursk was especially suited to start writing (again) because, being a true story, there was a sort of an outline there. Fortunately, there was also a lot of unknown mystery that I could fill in using my fantasy. In that first book, I created a character called James Mitchel that I felt deserved a sequel. And since I like trilogies, the James Mitchel trilogy was born. 

FQ: What comes next? Can you give us a "sneak peek" in regards to Matthew Bishop's next step? 

CLINCHANDHILL: Ah, well. Bishop's next adventure is called Lemuria and will take him again across the globe. Only this time, it will be personal for him when a close friend disappears mysteriously. Of course, there's a mystical reason for the friend's disappearance, and even the Vatican seems to be involved this time. For the rest, you'll have to wait until May 2021. 

FQ: Is there a genre you have not explored as of yet that you would like to one day? 

CLINCHANDHILL: Matthew Bishop's adventure comes as a trilogy, and currently, I'm writing the final installment, planned to be released in December 2021. That final chapter will end in a sort of cliffhanger into a new series that will be in a different genre. Think of it as more of a fantasy series that plays in our own current realm. Confused? Sorry, that's about all I can tell you about it now, and it changes just about every day in my mind, so who knows. I love the fantasy genre, but again, It seems so hard to write. 

FQ: Is there one author you would love to sit down and talk to about writing? If so, who would that be and what would be one question you would like to ask them? 

CLINCHANDHILL: Michael Crichton would absolutely be the one I'd like to sit down with. Unfortunately, that will never happen, of course. But I simply admire, maybe even worship, the man. Not just for his active writing style but also for the way he wrote his view of the near future into his adventurous stories. Many of them have a predictive value that I love. I love books that when you finished reading them, your first thought will be, What if?"

Friday, November 20, 2020

#BookReview - Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge - Audio

Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The sequel to A Christmas Carol (Children's Edition - Narrated With Audio Christmas Carols)

By: Norman Whaler
Illustrator: Voxillustrations
Publisher: Beneath Another Sky Books
Publication Date: November 2020
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: November 20, 2020

In 2017, author Norman Whaler released his version of a sequel to the Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, that was appropriately titled Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The Sequel to A Christmas Carol. Now he's taken his love of Dickens' a step further by releasing a magical audio edition geared to young readers.

As the story opens, we learn that:

...a mean, selfish old man named Scrooge
who used to scowl and frown,
had a change of heart and said,
"I won't let you down!"
Tiny Tim's leg was soon mended
and his lonely, unhappy days then ended.

Turn the page and we learn that thanks to Scrooge's change of heart, Tim grew into a healthy young man, happy, strong in faith, and it appears, falling in love. Yes, Tim is in love. But there's a problem - the parents of his true love, Becky, don't approve of Tim. Without their approval, Becky is unable to marry Tim and so, the two must go their separate ways.

As time goes by, Tim grows sad and miserable. "...without his Becky, his heart just grew colder." If this sounds like Tim might be falling into the same unhappy life that Scrooge had before his life-changing visits from three ghosts, you're right. And it appears Tim might just be in need of a ghostly visit from his dearly departed friend Scrooge.

In 2018, I read/reviewed the first version Whaler wrote of the sequel (the print version) to A Christmas Carol, that was, at 100 pages, geared to an older reader than this audio version. It was an enjoyable read and the author did a very good job of imagining what Tim's life was like after that fateful, happy Christmas Day when Scrooge visited Tim's household with the Christmas goose. This new audio version can be easily enjoyed by much younger readers as they follow along with the narrator (a perfect choice of narrator to bring the reader/listener back to Victorian London). The jingle-jangle of the background sounds, horses trotting, carolers singing, etc., really added to the Christmas spirit. Each page of text/audio is accompanied by a lovely illustration that uses soft tones to convey the nostalgia and atmosphere of Victorian London. When I sat down to listen to the audio, I definitely wasn't in a Christmas mood but after listening to the entire story, I was excited to continue on to the Christmas songs that are at the back of the book. The songs, with their print versions included, are delightful and complete the entire audio experience. This is a fun story, wonderfully produced, and children will likely be watching, and listening to Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge over and over, well past Christmas time.

Quill says: A fantastic holiday book that will get not only children, but your whole family, in the Christmas mood.

For more information on Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge, please visit the author's website:


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Helena P. Schrader

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Helena P. Schrader, authors of Where Eagle Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel.

FQ: Helena, I have to say you have an absolute gift for bringing history to life. Can you start with what brought about the idea to re-release the book; and was there a specific reason you chose to change the title?

SCHRADER: Thank you! The compulsion -- which became an obsession -- to re-release this book was sparked by pure chance. I received an email from an Englishman asking where he could purchase one of my other titles, which I'd pulled out of circulation because a comprehensive re-write was underway. I suggested he might want to read one of my other books instead. He chose Chasing the Wind. Soon I was receiving emails from him saying "I CANNOT PUT THIS DOWN!" and similar messages ending with one saying the only thing wrong with the book was that it ended. But then, very gently, he asked if I would like him to edit it for "Americanisms" that had "slipped in." Knowing that British readers detest American English in the mouths of British characters, I readily agreed. He sent back more than a thousand corrections. Not the obvious things, mind, like "trucks" for "lorries" and the like, but the British preference for looking "out OF the window" rather than the American "look out the window" and such things. 

Well, as they say, "in for a penny, in for a pound." If I was going to make that many corrections, then it made sense to go through the manuscript with fresh eyes and make other editorial changes as well. In the midst of this, I realized it was an anniversary year, and decided to (using an Americanism!) "go whole hog." I purchased the rights to evocative photos to lead into each section, and worked to reduce both the page count and, most important, the price. Since I've just launched my own imprint (Cross Seas Press) and I'm working directly with a distributor, I was able to reduce the price by $7 -- although, given the length of the book (590 pages) I fear some readers will still find it pricey. However, this time there will be an ebook edition, which will sell at $9.99.

As for the title, I love Chasing the Wind -- so do a lot of other authors. There are so many books by that title -- about sailing around the world, and wind energy and the like -- that my novel was completely lost in the heap. I felt I simply had to find a more distinctive title. So I returned to the poem High Flight by John Magee and paraphrased another line of the poem. 

FQ: There are certainly gazillions of stories and books and movies about the Nazi’s; how were you able to make this so personal? The story is extremely human, showing the flaws that all of us have. Do you have family members who were perhaps a part of this battle?

SCHRADER: Not really, an uncle served as a navigator in bombers with RCAF later in the war, but I had no family involved in the Battle of Britain.

What enabled me to create realistic and complex German characters were literally years of research, including nearly a hundred personal interviews with survivors of Nazi Germany for my PhD in history. My dissertation was on a member of the German Resistance to Hitler, but naturally I interviewed many people who were not part of the Resistance, but merely family, friends, colleagues and comrades. I was living in Germany at the time and one interview often led to another, resulting in dozens of interviews not directly relevant to the topic, but all valuable for giving me insight into the society and how Nazism warped human interactions.

For the RAF side, I did many interviews and corresponded extensively with scores of RAF and WAAF for my books on women pilots in WWII and the Berlin Airlift. My research on the women pilots brought me into the homes of some of these remarkable women and their husbands (unsurprisingly) were almost invariably RAF pilots. Likewise, many -- indeed virtually all -- British pilots who flew in the Berlin Airlift had been in the RAF during the war. So talking and corresponding with these men and women enabled me to soak in the atmosphere and attitudes of the period. 

Finally, the greatest inspiration for the characters came from the dozens of autobiographical accounts of the Battle of Britain written by RAF pilots. These include classical works such as Richard Hillary's The Last Enemy and Paul Richey's Fighter Pilot, both published during the war with all the intimacy (and censorship!) that implies, but also works by Douglas Bader, Philip Townsend, 'Johnny' Johnson, Al Deere, Bob Doe and others. These names will all resonate with people familiar with the RAF in WWII. I consciously included many incidents recorded by these pilots because the novel attempts to be as authentic as possible, and that is best achieved not by inventing, but rather incorporating history. 

FQ: Females are often overlooked when it comes to historical non-fiction. These women you write about are amazing. Did this take a ton of research for you to get so close to these people that you were able to tell such personal, interesting stories? In addition, did you listen to real-life accounts while compiling this book? If so, were you in awe at what they had to say?

SCHRADER: Yes, I did meet, talk or correspond with a number of amazing women, particularly Edith Heap Kup, who graciously allowed me to use one of her personal photos on the cover of the book. She was a WAAF with Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. She sent me her personal unpublished and handwritten memoirs and we corresponded for over a year, during which she endeavored to answer my many questions and steer me away from errors. Another wonderful woman was Diana Barnarto Walker, an ATA pilot, who welcomed me into her home and hosted me overnight while we talked and talked. 

FQ: Do you have your own favorite character in this book; one that you would love the chance to sit down with and hear their story in person?

SCHRADER: Robin is without doubt my favorite character. One of my readers claimed to be "addicted" to "Squadron Leader Priestman" and keeps suggesting different theaters of war in which he could feature in a future novel. I feel much the same way, but I have to be reasonable about how much research I would need to do to, say, write a book about the Suez Crisis featuring Robin seconded to the Israeli airforce (so he could still fly Spitfires).

I'm also fond of Christian and surprised that he does not seem to resonate as much with readers. He features as a secondary character in my book about the German Resistance to Hitler. 

FQ: You have written in other genres. Is there one in particular – or even one character out there that would be a work of non-fiction – who you yearn to write about in the future?

SCHRADER: Oh, yes. I have not finished my series about the rebellion of the barons of Outremer against the Holy Roman Emperor, and both John d'Ibelin and his son Balian are both historical figures/book characters I want to return to. Finally, before I die, I'd like to write a biographical novel about Edward of Woodstock and Joan of Kent. 

FQ: How do you look at the world today, when thinking about the pandemic and society’s current issues? Do you see a better future coming soon?

SCHRADER: Let me see, the world's largest democracy has a president who is refusing to recognize the completely legal and uncorrupted elections that he LOST by almost five million votes. This corrupt dictator is being supported by members of the legislative branch, while the dictator fires competent ministers, destroys the professionalism of the civil service and undermines the security of the nation. Do I see a better future coming? NO, I'm thinking about the urgent need to re-release my novel about the German Resistance to Hitler because people need to know what they are facing in the future as this "cult of personality" destroys America and American democracy. Hitler was an upright and patriotic citizen compared to the cruel, egotistical madman currently putrefying the White House, who is willing -- literally-- to walk over corpses of his own supporters purely for power and self-engrandizement.

FQ: Do you have mentors of your own? Along those lines, do you have your own favorite authors out there that when one of their books come out you just have to read it right away?

SCHRADER: I've always been a fan of Sharon Kay Penman, but I couldn't get excited about her most recent book. 

FQ: Readers and fans would love to know what project you are currently working on that we will (hopefully) see soon.

SCHRADER: I've just completed a little book -- two novellas actually -- about secondary characters in Where Eagles Never Flew that I want to release as sequel entitled Grounded Eagles. My next project (that addiction, remember?) is following Robin and Emily to Berlin and the Berlin Airlift. It's a wonderful, exciting story, which to my knowledge has rarely been the subject of a novel. That probably means there isn't much of a market for such a book, but since I've already done the research, this is a book I can get straight into. 

FQ: Thank you for yet another great book!

SCHRADER: Thank you for your enthusiasm and the opportunity to talk about it. - Helena



#BookReview - Where Eagles Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel

Eagles Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel

By: Helena P. Schrader
Published by: Cross Seas Press
Publication Date: November 2020
ISBN: 978-1-7353139-4-8
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 15, 2020

I’m absolutely giddy about the decision to re-release this book. Why? Simply because if you did not get the chance to enjoy this spectacular read when it was titled Chasing the Wind: A Story of British and German Pilots in the Battle of Britain a few years back, then you now have the opportunity to delve into one of the best historical works to appear in a good, long time.

This release marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and this author does an incredible job by taking on both the German and English point of views when it came to the strategies they created in order to win. She also was able to deftly present the emotions of each person and show how they handled the celebrations and losses they felt, like the perfect ‘human’ chess game unveiled to the public.

In the telling, Helena Schrader opens the world to the early days of WWII, first placing us in Dunkirk to see the Battle of France end, before heading to Britain where their storied battle came to pass. We meet a menu of characters who will lead us through the story, like Robert “Robin” Priestman, RAF aerobatics pilot. We learn of a true flaw that he has to deal with on a daily basis. When stress hits him hard, he stops seeing the fact that he has limitations like any other normal person does, and tends to cross the line. The Air Ministry is already down on the man because of a mistake he made related to the King’s Regulations. And even though he has compiled a good service record when fighting with a squadron in France, it is the Battle of Britain that sticks his body in Training Command, and places his heart in danger as he falls deeply in love with a woman from The Salvation Army.

No. 606 (Hurricane) Squadron is still trying to come back from the losses they incurred over Dunkirk. Although new pilots join every day, the squadron’s morale is low and their resentment of these newbies runs deep as they continue to mourn their now dead friends. But in the end, the goal of the RAF is to make sure that the hideous Nazi flag never finds a place atop their beloved Buckingham Palace.

Their monster nemesis, however, the Luftwaffe, will do anything to stamp that dreaded swastika on every front porch of every house in Britain. They have plans in place, and are even recruiting women as communications specialists to help them in their fight.
Enter...Klaudia von Richthofen. A sweet, inexperienced female who is recruited by the Luftwaffe Women’s Auxiliary. She is not only seduced by a man who she should run from, but also finds herself falling for one, Baron von Feldburg. Who she doesn’t seem to recognize is Feldburg’s wingman, Lt. Ernst Geuke, who has eyes only for Klaudia and wants her to see him as more than a secondary character in her life. Of course, it doesn’t help Ernst that, next to these handsome men, his face and body and background simply don’t measure up, causing it to be nearly impossible to catch Klaudia’s eye.

Page after page we have pilots risking their lives on both sides of the Channel in order to call themselves heroes when the dust settles on the battlefield. Following both the females and the pilots, readers really get to know all the characters while they are off-duty and showing their more vulnerable sides. One of the most interesting parts of this book was the fact that even though I was intrigued by the RAF and their support, I was equally intrigued by the German Luftwaffe members. The author did a fantastic job of showing that death and the emotional aftershocks of losing someone has no boundaries. In fact, she showed that much like the North and South during our Civil War, both sides of the Battle of Britain went through the same type of pain, loss, and love – and each side worked just as hard to achieve success.

In addition, another attention-keeper was when the author vividly showed the “walls” that most assuredly are still seen in daily life: The hatred that flows between the poorer working class and the officers; the fact that no one is invincible, no matter what country they hail from or what flag they fly under; the fact that you may feel like the “supreme power” yet, in the end, the classic scrappy dog fighters who will never stop until they break the ‘big man’ continue to win.

This author struck gold with this story. You can now read what you perhaps missed the first time around, while all those readers who are already in love with this woman’s writing can go back and read this tome once again and enjoy it even more. The human side of war is intense and the detailed descriptions of the crafts and the fights were so vivid that they pulled me back in time...everything found in this book brought this somewhat overlooked battle to life.

Quill says: I cannot recommend this highly enough. Do not miss this memorable, intense, amazing story.

For more information on Where Eagle Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, November 16, 2020

#BookReview -The Silver Thread of Life by Phillip B.Chute, EA

The Silver Thread of Life: True Accounts of Spiritual Interventions

By: Phillip B. Chute, EA
Publication Date: January 2018
ASIN : B07D54XZ89
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Review Date: November 2020

Author Phillip Chute offers a fascinating collection of divine-intervention stories in his fascinating book The Silver Thread of Life.

Have you ever experienced a time when you had an inconceivable thought, vision, or dream of someone dying, and it came true? Have you ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time and miraculously come out of it unscathed? These are small examples from a captivating collection author Phillip Chute includes in his latest read, The Silver Thread of Life: True Accounts and Dozens of Amazing Life-Changing Spiritual Interventions.

Phillip Chute, a tax and financial advisor by profession, explores psychic episodes that we encounter more frequently than not, the unmeasurable, unprovable, and unexplainable events scientists toss into the paranormal category. The seemingly-endless stories combine Chute's accounts (i.e., his war encounters, travels, and unusual situations) and his clients' incidents that relay near-death experiences and the return to life after brief death among other topics.

Chute’s retelling of accounts comes mainly from his clients who, over the years, appreciated Chute’s good listening skills enough to divulge areas of their past they would not typically discuss. Each story follows a broad spectrum of beliefs as people attribute their ethereal encounters based on their beliefs: Jesus, the Spirits, Karma, guardian angel, divine intervention, Yin and Yang, and faith.

Chapters grouped thematically vary in length. Dreams, others’ ability to see auras, déjà vu, demonic activity, and healers from Third World countries only begin to scratch the surface of the topics covered. Chute makes sure to incorporate words of inspiration and caution, which provides an excellent addition to storytelling. For example, “Messages from the Soul” focuses on dreams and how they “can be compelling gifts and guides” and the importance of “being careful with your actions” in “The Curse.”

Not every story paints a rosy picture as Chute balances chapters with sections that show the dark side of the ethereal realm. One example found in the chapter titled “The Demon” addresses “self-inflicted desolation by mankind—evil people manipulation and corrupting the spirits of others.” Just as there are good psychics, there are bad ones, as mentioned in more detail in the chapter titled “Psychics.”

Chute’s recounting of these paranormal experiences is not flashy; he relays each story as is, making sure to emphasize that while these otherworldly situations appear miraculous (and they are), the incidents are more common than expected since they occur among ordinary people. The only difference is in one’s approach to life’s situations. That said, Chute offers sage advice to his readers: “Leave yourself open to the universe, give yourself to the universe, and it will return your openness in kindness. Let your guardian spirits visit.”

Quill says: The Silver Thread of Life is a fascinating read from beginning to end.

For more information on The Silver Thread of Life: True Accounts of Spiritual Interventions, please visit the author's website at:


Thursday, November 12, 2020

#BookReview - Versus: A Tale of Zero-Sum Contestation

VERSUS: A Tale of Zero-Sum Contestation

By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: October 2020
ISBN: 978-0-9994-1856-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 11, 2020

From BOO! to Geezers to Brokla and beyond, I can explain my continuing recommendations of this author in four simple words: I love this guy!

It is not a shocker to see a review of a Simon Plaster book that includes the word “brilliant” or the phrase “the king of satire.” This is an author who takes on the hideous (and at the same time, ridiculous) subjects of today’s world, face them, fight them if need be, and leave the reader not only laughing but finally understanding what the s##t in this world is all about.

I became a huge fan of Simon’s series of standalones that feature small-town reporter turned detective, Henrietta, who was named after her hometown Henryetta, Oklahoma, when they first began. Personally, I think this woman is one character in fiction that the whole state of Oklahoma should bow to because she gives them definite flair.

Beginning on a Tuesday, readers immediately start having fun with the news that an election is on the horizon. (Goodness knows, we finally just got over the last one in real-life). Here, however, we’re talking a race for the Governor. Henrietta is at a point in her life where she’s happy. She is getting a solid paycheck for her work as a private detective, and her boss, Leroy “Lero” O’Rourke has a ton of work on his plate now that he became a “big name” in town for defending an illegal Mexican who was wrongly charged with murder.

Heading into her boss’s office, Henrietta is ready for her next case to be assigned. Opening the door, she first sees political campaign posters of the two men running for Governor. One depicts the Democratic candidate, Richard “Big Dick” Goodman; the other shows his opponent, Montgomery “Big Johnson” Johnson, who is a Republican all about family values. After seeing that, she is passed a file by Lero labeled Crammer vs. Crammer. This case she’s about to take charge of involves a ‘wronged woman’ and a bad marriage. And that’s only a sneak peek at the plot-filled party that’s about to commence.

We soon get involved with two lawyers sitting in their fancy offices on the 20th floor. One is Randolph McCoy who is part of the divorce lawsuit; the other is Andrew Hartfield – opposing counsel – who can be found in the building right across the narrow street. In fact, Hatfield and McCoy (don’t you just love that?) can see each other through their windows. These men are longtime rivals who work hard to one-up the other on a daily basis. Ever since grade school these boys have been competing in every avenue of life: from sports to board games; from making their careers a success to landing women, and earning the highest salary. They do agree on one thing, though: In this life, there was no such thing as a “tie.” 

As this divorce case comes to pass, pitting a woman named Lilith against her estranged husband who just happens to be an extremely rich doctor who loves being at the top of society and being invited to any and all prestigious events, things get really out of hand. The doctor, by the way, is a die-hard Republican. Murder, of course, is a hot topic in this tale, and trying to figure out the ‘who, what, why and how’ is again one of Simon Plaster’s greatest gifts.

Not only is it a whole lot of fun to delve further into the Crammer matter, but readers will also be educated on organizations with names like, “Doctors Without Limits Political Action Committee” and the “Christian Family Circle.” (Think about those for a while.) It seems on every page there are people versus people, groups versus groups, and lawyers versus lawyers...everyone is battling. Henrietta remains the lone character with common sense (thank goodness) who can work through these ridiculous wars in order to solve every question that arises. 

The culmination of the tale where a revelation is offered occurs during a high-brow golf tournament with the backdrop of a huge storm, and adds even more fun to the whole political enchilada. This author needs a fan club set up for him, PRONTO! (You can count on me paying annual membership dues.)

Quill says: So funny, you’ll wish that THIS was the election we had to deal with instead of the real one. This one was far more entertaining.

For more information on VERSUS: A Tale of Zero-Sum Contestation, please visit the author's Goodreads page at:


Monday, November 9, 2020

#BookReview - A Wild Day at the Zoo

A Wild Day at the Zoo (Little Polyglot Adventures, Book 2)

By: Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos
Illustrator: Eszter Miklós
Publisher: Linguacious
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1649620439
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: November 2020

A fun day at the zoo turns into a crazy adventure full of excitement in the newest book in the “Little Polyglot Adventures” series by Victor D.O. Santos.

Siblings Dylan and Isabella are super excited to be going to the zoo. It is a special day, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day because the zoo has designated it as a day when visitors can bring their own pets to the zoo. Most people bring their dogs, or cats, or other common animals while one family brings their ferret. But Dylan and Isabella steal the show by bringing Kiki, Dylan’s adorable pet chicken that he received for his last birthday. Kiki is just as excited as Dylan and Isabella. What a day it will be!

Stopping at the zoo’s gift shop, the kids’ parents buy Kiki a special backpack so she can “ride” on Dad’s back, while Isabella gets a soap bubble machine. Next it’s off to visit all the amazing zoo animals.

Isabella decides they should first visit the Africa section of the zoo. She tells her dad what types of animals live in Africa and he’s quite impressed. “Wow!” he exclaims. Then he asks the kids what else they know about the animals that live in Africa. They impress him with their knowledge, check out the animals, and then the family heads to the next section of the zoo.

When the family gets to the giraffe enclosure, they’re thrilled to meet a friendly giraffe who is quite curious about Kiki. The adorable chicken, however, isn’t so sure about the giraffe. Dad, thinking that this is the perfect time to get some pictures, puts Kiki, still in her backpack, down on a bench. And that’s when the inquisitive giraffe makes her move. When Dad turns his attention back to the giraffe enclosure, he’s startled to see poor Kiki running around the enclosure with the giraffe following close behind. A quick thinking Isabella may be Kiki’s only hope...

A Wild Day at the Zoo is indeed a wild and fun adventure story. Dylan and Isabella, the children at the center of the story, are sweet and curious, and their eagerness to learn is inspiring. They also speak several languages, English, Portuguese to their dad, Ukrainian to their mom, and Isabella even hopes to learn “dogenese” one day so she can speak to dogs. The author uses words from different languages in several places (with footnotes translating the words), and visitors to the zoo are representative of many different cultures. It’s a nice detail to an already creative story. Kiki’s rescue comes at the hands of a quick thinking Isabella which adds another nice element. The illustrations are lovely, with Kiki and her adorable expressions as the highlight. Wrap it all up and this is a charming book that should be on your child’s bookshelf.

Quill says: A Wild Day at the Zoo is indeed a culturally and linguistically diverse wild adventure that kids will love.

For more information on A Wild Day at the Zoo (Little Polyglot Adventures, Book 2),please visit the website: