Tuesday, June 29, 2021

#BookReview - Supplant by Shane M. Toman


By: Shane M. Toman
Published by: DartFrog Books
Publication Date: June 2021
ISBN: 978-1953910585
Reviewed By: Kimberly Trix Lee
Review Date: June 26, 2021
How far would humanity be willing to go in pursuit of scientific progress? Mik and Zen find out in Supplant by Shane M. Toman.
The year is 2071 and there is a serial murderer with poison frog genetic code on the loose leaving trails of dead girls in his wake. This process of genetic implantation known as Supplantation had once been the world’s most sought-after elective procedure. That all changed in the late 2040s when the world found out about the massive side effects on all offspring of supplanted people. The procedure was then criminalized.
Supplant follows several characters as they live their lives - lives which will all inevitably converge. Albert Murata is the CFO of Genovas, a gene-editing corporation on the verge of bankruptcy with crashing share prices. Professionalism and morals out the window, he lied to investors and eventually convinced the Genovas CEO to sign a human supplantation experiment with Correcticorp, the state prison system, the US Army, and the state of Illinois.
Mik is the only surviving member of the US Army’s 121st reconnaissance division, a division that had been created with all of its members supplanted with pit viper genetic code. He signed up for it for the sake of his father’s medical treatment but now that his father is dead and the 121st division defunct, the US military essentially forgot all about Mik. He is now a butcher’s apprentice who likes to hang out with his friend Ollie and drink in one of the dive bars that do not have any of the security sensors that could determine whether somebody’s genome has been implanted with a non-human genetic code. The trouble begins when Mik and Ollie are brought in for witness statements after they get involved in a barfight and Mik’s supplantation history is flagged in the system. With the help of Filip, the owner of the butcher shop where Mik works, Mik gets introduced to an underground haven of supplanted people.
Meanwhile, Zen is a security firm executive with a reproductive system issue and an abusive husband named Aidan. After one violent encounter that leaves Zen with a concussion and an imprisoned husband, a phone call from said husband leads her to look for information and ask questions that inevitably put her name on somebody’s hit list. With armed men on her heels, she crosses paths with Filip and eventually gets to join the ragtag underground haven. Together, they all work to put a stop to the unethical human experiment.
Supplant by Shane M. Toman is a plot-driven sci-fi thriller that started strong but began to fizzle about halfway through the story. In the beginning, the introduction of the various characters was effective, the dialogues were crisp, and the scenes engaging. However, as the story progressed, in the middle of the rising action of the story, the actions of the characters and the resulting sequences of events started becoming disjointed. The crucial scenes that would drive the plot were rushed and the dialogues became mundane. This story has a lot of potential and I think I would have liked it had there been a better-developed connection between the characters’ motives and their actions while at the same time, driving the plot to where it’s supposed to be. I have to say, however, that my favorite in this story is a well-written side character, an inmate named Jose, and all the sequences he was in. Jose, I’m rooting for you.
Quill says: Supplant is a story with an interesting premise on CRISPR technology in a Human Nature x Gattaca setup that starts out strong but fizzled halfway through.
For more information on Supplant, please visit the author's website at: http://shanemtoman.com

Monday, June 21, 2021

#BookReview - Saints and Martyrs by Aaron Roe

Saints and Martyrs
By: Aaron Roe
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 2021
ISBN: 978-1636495644
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: June 18, 2021
A youth becomes a man through a perilous, painful search for ultimate truths in this dynamic debut offering by author Aaron Roe.
Damian Kurt was raised by a strict Catholic mother and a strong, forbearing father whose sudden death has left a hole in the teen’s life. His home-schooling, domineering mother is bent on impelling him to acknowledge his destiny to become a priest. But Damian knows that his private actions, mainly his youthful, almost uncontrollable lust, could or should keep him from that vocation.
An accident while working out at the gym may be a blessing in disguise for Damian, slowing him down and giving him time for journaling, contemplation, and more visits to the confessional. He splits with his mom, going to live with his gym teacher for a while, but finally, Mt. Angelus beckons and he joins the ranks of young seminarians overseen by priests who at times seem diligent, at times negligent and dismissive, and at least once, rather creepy. Damian feels comfort in his priestly garb and has time for further introspection, attempting to write his father’s biography. His efforts are aided by Professor Harold House, whose class, Spiritual Autobiography, feeds perfectly into Damian’s wish to follow in the footsteps of the great saints – including, he believes, his own dad. Meeting Harold’s son Eden, who loves to gaze at and study the stars, is further inspiration. But when something great is lost in Damian’s conflicted young life, something greater will be gained, to put him on the path to a brighter future.
Roe writes with notable skill, moving the reader quickly but rationally from scene to scene. We see Damian’s struggling with his adolescent urges, while diligently making lists of the steps he must take to spiritual self-improvement. He is a reader as well as a writer, and his inner explorations, as deftly drawn by Roe, may be his saving grace. Roe is comfortable with dialog and narrative alike; this is an intelligent book about a teenage boy’s search for piety, but it is not a pious book, so young adult readers can easily identify with Damian and appreciate his conflicted viewpoint. The book leads steadily to a startling and gratifying conclusion that could, one feels, beg a sequel, with a youthful, likeable and believable protagonist with much more to accomplish.
Quill says: Issues of piety, priesthood and true integrity provide the undercurrent in Aaron Roe’s action-filled, contemporary and credible saga of one tormented teen’s quest for life’s meaning.
For more information on Saints and Martyrs, please visit the publisher's website at: http://www.atmospherepress.com

#BookReview - Hickory Doc's Tales by Linda Harkey

Hickory Doc’s Tales (The Pack: First Generation)
By: Linda Harkey
Illustrated by: Archway Publishing Publisher: Archway Publishing
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4808-4725-5
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: June 21, 2021
Author Linda Harkey brings her experiences as a hunting dog owner to life in her book entitled Hickory Doc’s Tales (The Pack: First Generation). This story shares the adventures of a hunting dog named Doc and his family. Doc is a German shorthaired pointer, the oldest and wisest in his family, which also includes Zeke, Rush, Patch, Newt, Sadie, Rocky, and Deacon.
Doc and his family find themselves in some interesting situations, some of which include Zeke impulsively catching a skunk, Rush accidentally obtaining a mouth full of porcupine quills, and Doc giving in to temptation by eating his human’s meal of hamburgers, fries and salad, which subsequently leads to him being punished in more ways than one. Doc also successfully solves the mystery of what causes Sneezy the owl to constantly sneeze and consequently turn himself upside-down on his perch.
The escapades that Doc and his family find themselves in are frequently humorous and, more often than not, provide some example of a positive characteristic, such as resiliency, determination, and the strong bond of a family unit. These situations often require Doc and his family to solve a problem by working together. Once they have used teamwork to engineer a solution, the gratification and pride that they feel as a result is unmistakable.
A simple chapter book, Hickory Doc’s Tales is best suited for young readers ages 7 and up. The chapters are short and written in easily understood prose for those readers who are just beginning to read chapter books. Kids will appreciate the fun and often quirky chapter titles and subheadings found throughout the story.
While this is a chapter book, the author did include some illustrations scattered throughout the book. Adding these illustrations is a definite method of attracting the interest of young readers who are transitioning from full picture books to books with more text.
The author wrote this book from the point of view of Doc, the hunting dog. Young kids will find this perspective fun and entertaining. However, it is worth noting that older kids, especially middle schoolers, may think that this makes the story too “childish” for them. Therefore, this book appears to be most appropriate for young readers ages 7 to about ages 9 or 10. It is plausible that even young kindergarteners of ages 5 and 6 would be able to read this book with assistance.
Quill says: Hickory Doc’s Tales is a fun-filled collection of the adventures of Doc the hunting dog and his family. Harkey’s writing style is easy to read and amusing for young readers, while the explorations themselves are humorous and often teach valuable lessons.
To learn more about Hickory Doc’s Tales, please visit the author’s website at www.harkeybooks.com.

5 Tips for Writers to Build a Personal Brand on Social Media

5 Tips for Writers to Build a Personal Brand on Social Media



One of the most important aspects that any writer coming to social media should realize is that people these days will use either professional or personal accounts. It may be a bit complex for those who have no prior social media experience. In simple terms, if you are wishing to start your business as a writer and promote your work in terms of commercial profits only, you should focus on business accounts on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter. 


However, it is also possible to make things more personal and keep your posts unified as you share more candid information and trivia that will make your audience appreciate you more as a person. In either case, since we are dealing with a personal brand on social media, the safest way would be to set your goals and create a more personal relationship with your audience since it is usually the purpose to be recognizable as a writer.


5 Tips That Will Help You Create a Personal Brand on Social Media 


1. Learn to Set Yourself Apart. 


It means that you should find that unique aspect related to your writing style and personality. Your brand is what you would like to be known for. Before you establish something online, just ask yourself what you would like to be known for and what sets you apart from the rest. Do not forget that you cannot just mention that you are a writer because you will have to compete with skilled entrepreneurs and implement marketing. Therefore, you should choose a specific niche and narrow things down a little bit! Your audience may not include just anyone but will revolve around people who will truly appreciate your art and spread the word further! 


2. Your Content Matters


Of course, you can talk about writing, marketing, your interests, your family life and basically anything that comes your way, yet it will not fully reflect your marketing plan and will not make your content unique. The trick is to focus on something that you do really well and where you can serve as an expert. It will always depend on what can explain the best way possible. For example, if you have lived somewhere in Europe and worked as a fashion designer, it can be mentioned in your posts with the link to your book where you use relevant skills. It will help people see why you have included something in your narration. Likewise, your biography should include more than just several lines about your life and interests. These days it is vital to provide a clear LinkedIn profile bio that can help your audience identify you with professional skills that you have. 


3. Hashtags and Social Profile Unification. 


Take your time to study hashtags that relate to your writing style and interests. Most importantly, create your own hashtag and remember to use the same profile picture, full name, or nickname for all social media platforms that you use. It will help people recognize you both as a person and as a brand. Even if you do not use something like TikTok yet, make sure that you reserve your social name profile by turning to websites like Knowem regarding name availability. 


4. Daily Posting Routine. 


Post daily and make yourself easy to find! It should not be long or too complex, yet it must be inspiring and honest. It is recommended to post 2 times per day on Facebook, while Twitter will require at least 5 daily posts, just like Pinterest. As for Instagram, 2-3 daily posts will be good enough to keep the right balance of your online presence. 


5. Cooperation With Influencers. 


Participate in charity and social projects, get to know social media influencers, make duets by sharing joint videos, and discuss things together. If you become known for something positive, it will already make your branding strategy work as people will recognize you. Of course, you do not have to be everywhere because it can quickly make you a star for one day only! Participate only in related campaigns and always choose them wisely! 



Know What You Share



The trick is to control what you share and understand clearly where your online personality starts and where the mark should not be crossed. If something that you post can be valuable and teach people an important lesson that you have learned, it is worth sharing. As a writer, you must be creative by sharing things that inspire you. If it means talking about your professional and business challenges, you should not ignore being sincere. While it may not bring you more sales or create additional traffic, it will help your visitors see you as a person who is confident and comfortable about sharing things. 


Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun. You can contact Jessica via her Twitter account: https://twitter.com/fender_jess

Friday, June 18, 2021

Meet Author Aaron Roe, author of Saints and Martyrs

Meet author Aaron Roe in his new author bio page at Feathered Quill Book Reviews. Aaron is the author of the new book, Saints and Martyrs. Check out his page and learn how you can get your own author bio page.

Meet Author Katy McQuaid

Meet author Katy McQuaid in her new author bio page at Feathered Quill Book Reviews. Katy is the author of the children's series, "Everybody Loves Grace." Check out her page and learn how you can get your own author bio page.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Katy McQuaid, author of Everybody Loves Grace

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Katy McQuaid, author of Everybody Loves Grace: An Amazing True Story of How Grace Brings Love to Everyone She Meets, Book 1.
FQ: First, thanks so much for sharing Grace with us. It was a pleasure getting to know her. Now on to our questions! We learn in the story that when Grace was adopted by you, she had to fly on a plane to get to your home. Where did you first learn about Grace and what made you decide to welcome her into your house? What was it about her, or the ad (video, friend’s recommendation?) that told your heart she was the one for you?
MCQUAID: I was looking for a companion for my 15-year-old Finnish Lapphund, Tinto, and he was very clear he wanted a female companion, but not a puppy. He also said, ‘I want a dog who looks just like me.” So, I sent out a letter to all the Finnish Lapphund breeders in North America to see if there was a female Lappie who needed a home.
That’s when I learned that Grace’s owner was looking for a new home for Grace. She also thought it was sweet that Tinto wanted a younger sister, so she agreed to have Grace come live with me.
I just knew after hearing Grace’s story that she was meant to come live with Tinto and me. Once I knew, I had faith that everything would work out and it did. Tinto and Grace bonded the moment they met.
FQ: What was that first meeting like? From the book, I’m guessing you met at the airport. With all that noise and for Grace, strange smells, how did she handle that meeting? Did your heart melt when you first saw her?
MCQUAID: I remember our first meeting like it was yesterday. Grace arrived at the cargo terminal at the Denver International Airport. When I walked into the cargo office to pick her up, there was a woman behind the desk and Grace was in a crate.
I opened the crate door and Grace quickly looked at me and then down at the ground like she was shy. In that quick glimpse, I saw such beauty and sweetness in her eyes. We walked down a set of stairs and walked over to a grassy field so she could go to the bathroom.
It didn’t take long, maybe five minutes, and Grace looked straight into my eyes and into my heart. That was the moment our hearts connected.
FQ: How old was Grace when she came to you? Was the transition from farm life to city life difficult for her?
MCQUAID: Grace was four years old when she came to live with me. While living in the city was a big change, she adapted easily. Right away, she seemed to enjoy the “good sniffs” and followed Tinto’s lead. He showed her where all the best sniff spots were in the neighborhood. I would take Grace on frequent hikes in the mountains or for a walk in a city park so she could enjoy open spaces. I also think that meeting people who stopped to say hello and pet her, helped Grace adjust to life in the city.
FQ: Tinto sounds like he must have been a wonderful dog too. How did he handle having to “share” you with a new dog?
MCQUAID: I think Tinto really enjoyed having a little sister. He was 15 years old when Grace came, and there was a new bounce in his step after she arrived. It makes me want to cry just remembering the day Grace walked in the door and Tinto was waiting for her at the end of hallway. He was so gentle with her. He got up from his resting spot and came right up to greet her.
In a way, I believe Tinto knew that he was handing over the baton. I showed him pictures of Grace for weeks before she arrived, so he was prepared. It was as if he was going to enjoy his time with Grace and prepare her to take over when he died.
FQ: When did you first realize that Grace had a special talent for knowing when someone needed some extra love? Were you surprised at her gentle nature and desire to help others?
MCQUAID: I started to notice this when I had friends over for book club. Invariably, Grace would sit next to the person who was going through a difficult time in their life. One night I had a small group of friends over for dinner and Grace spent the evening sitting next to this one guy who had recently lost his best friend to a heart attack. Grace wouldn’t leave his side the entire evening. He still talks about it.
FQ: In the story, Grace meets a few people at different times who are in wheelchairs. Many dogs would be frightened or quite cautious around a wheelchair. Did Grace immediately go up to these people, without fear, and shower them with love?
MCQUAID: Tinto used to visit residents in a nursing home every week as part of the Pets on Wheels volunteer program in Northern Virginia. I think Tinto had a way of communicating to Grace and he taught her how to approach a person in a wheelchair. He was so good with people in wheelchairs, and he made sure Grace was good at it too.
And yes, Grace has always been discerning with people and she maintains a sense for who in a room (or on the street) needs the most love.
FQ: Your background is quite interesting. How did you go from being a senior executive with the Central Intelligence Agency to being a children’s book author?
MCQUAID: I had an amazing 32-year career with the CIA where I got to live and work in some very interesting places around the world. I was also surrounded by intelligent, dedicated and creative colleagues.
I can honestly say I never planned to be a children’s book author. I thought I might write a book one day, but I never thought it would be a children’s book. It just happened one day after I was walking Grace as she was doing her rounds at Denver Health. The head of the Paramedics stopped dead in his tracks as he was walking into work. After he petted Grace and looked in her eyes he said, “if only I could start my day like this every day.”
When I got home from that walk, a thought occurred to me - the book I was supposed to write had nothing to do with me. I was supposed to share Grace’s story and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Grace’s story is filled with love, kindness and the ability to work through change in a positive way.
FQ: I see that you have your own company - McQuaid Corporate Performance LLC. Would you tell our readers a little about your company? It sounds like it grew out of your experiences in the CIA. We’d love to learn more!

MCQUAID: I work as a strategy adviser to people and organizations. My goal is to lead, inspire and empower people and their organizations to drive through change so that everyone can flourish.
I look at an organization and help identify underlying operational issues and develop strategies for optimizing performance. I like to look at the big picture with someone and help them figure out the steps they need to take to get where they are going.
FQ: There are currently five books in your “Everybody Loves Grace” series. Would you tell our readers a bit about the other books and if you have plans for more books in the series?
MCQUAID: As you know, the first book is about Grace coming to Denver and it shows how her simple acts of kindness change people’s lives and that every day is an adventure.
The second book, Everybody Loves Grace: An Amazing True Story of Grace’s Adventure to the Grand Canyon, offers readers two new insights:
* The journey is an important part of every adventure.
* Good things can happen on the “trail less traveled.”
The third book in the series, Everybody Loves Grace: An Amazing True Story of Grace's Adventure to Texas, reminds readers that:
* Good friends remain good friends even if they don't see each other often.
* Moving to a new place is a chance for new beginnings and the opportunity to make new, special friends.
The fourth book is Grace’s adventure to Utah and the book provides uplifting new insights for readers of all ages:
* Going places with "just the girls" is empowering.
* People and places change over time so, even when we visit a place we've been before, it's always a new adventure.
* Have courage to do the things you want do.
The fifth book is Grace’s Adventure to Pennsylvania where there are new life lessons for children and adults:
* Go for the things you want to do in life
* Don’t put off your bucket list
* Prepare for key events and be flexible when changes are necessary.
I’ve written a sixth book and Susan Lavalley is hard at work on the illustrations for Grace’s Adventure to Washington, DC. This is another beautiful story where Grace reminds us to go our own pace and there’s no place like home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

#BookReview - The Sightless City

The Sightless City

By: Noah Lemelson
Published by: Tiny Fox Pres
Publication Date: July 2021
ISBN: 978-1-946501-33-2
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 15, 2021
Although steampunk is a genre that’s not among the majority in 2021, when judged against, say...thrillers or police procedurals, this particular book—the first in what will be a fantasy steampunk trilogy, was not only a great read, but it was a breath of fresh air.
We begin by meeting a soldier named Marcel Talwar, and the rest of his group that’s referred to as the Huile Sewer Rats, fighting a battle that would one day become well-known in Huile history. Donning their gas masks because of the hideousness that filled the air all around them, as well as the sewer pipes they were about to head into, this gang of men, led by Captain Alba, were fighting the Pincipates in order to save their city of Huile. This particular place is seen as the “beacon” sitting at the edge of the Wastes, and Marcel is one of the many who helped liberate Huile during The Calamity, and avenge his fellow soldiers who had perished.
Fast forward and Marcel is not only a veteran of those times, who has come away from that horror with both emotional and physical scars, but he’s also now a private investigator, which turns out to be a very good job for this intelligent person. There are those in power who will do anything to protect their own particular interests in a product called √¶ther-oil, which is actually a treasured fuel that runs Huile and one that Marcel and his gang fought to maintain.
When Marcel’s fellow soldier/brother Heitor Desct (who was also the Editor-in-Chief of The Huile Gazette) passes away, Marcel attends the funeral which is quite literally a hero’s event. Not because Heitor had money, but because a major business tycoon has decided to “sponsor” the funeral and produce a gallant sendoff for the man. Now, Marcel is working regular P.I. jobs at this time, and soon begins to help this tycoon, an acquaintance he also made during the war, by the name of Lazarus Roache. Roache is a high brow who runs his own major company called Lazacorp, that just happens to deal in another coveted product called sangleum.
Marcel soon finds himself entrenched in a case that involves everything from kidnapping to murder. Evidence he needs to follow includes some mechanical drawings that appear at his office; no one can seem to decipher these diagrams that are simply marked with the words “show to an engineer.” This leads Marcel to a massive conspiracy that may involve Roache and Lazacorp coming to the top of the other muck-ridden slime out there among the Wastes. While revealing a new revolution that might be the next step in the future of this already war-torn area – a movement that may even put the last one to shame – Marcel must deal with power-hungry individuals who seem to be even more whacked out than our own masters of evil from WWII, Hitler and his pals. In fact, the people in this world may just want to use genocide themselves in order to get control over what they truly desire.
In addition to Marcel’s efforts, his life may just cross paths with an engineer who is incredibly intelligent. As an animalian engineer, Sylvaine Pelletier is on her own journey to bring back the glory that these lands and this city boasted before the apocalyptic time period fell over them like a veil of darkness, ugliness, and sludge. Will the good guys win again? Or, perhaps worse, can you even spot who the good guys are this time around? Answer: You HAVE to read it!
The author has produced a literal slam-dunk with this steampunk fantasy. I loved learning about the Border States and their ways and actions, as well as the Wastes and the very cool city of Huile. It was amazing to “visualize” the citizens as well. From the kortonians (who are short and have square heads), to the metallic-haired malva, to the salvi (who are massive, but actually go out of their way to stay as far from those slender malva as they can when they’re in the same room) — all the way to the other mutants with extremely odd and memorable qualities. Not to mention the humans who come from a range of lands that the writer describes so well, you actually feel like you’re walking through these streets and living your daily life among these people.
Because this is a trilogy, it makes the story even more exciting. The plot keeps you involved and intrigued the entire time. It will be difficult to wait for the next one, but after reading this, it certainly looks like number two will be worth the wait!
Quill Says: Fast-paced, fresh, new, and thrilling; this fantasy world and all who are found there are truly fun to follow. 5-Stars
For more information on The Sightless City, please visit the author's blog at: www.noahlemelson.com/blog

#BookReview - The Golden Rule Coloring Book

The Golden Rule Coloring Book
By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Illustrated by: Kalpart
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.
Publication Date: December 2020
ISBN: 978-1-68235-338-7
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: June 15, 2021
Award-winning author Sherrill S. Cannon allows young readers to color their own story in The Golden Rule Coloring Book, the accompaniment to her best-selling children’s story The Golden Rule. This story asks a very simple question: what kind of world would we live in if everyone treated others the way they’d like to be treated?
Cannon’s story begins as Robert and his sister, Kait, search for an important golden ruler. They hunt all over their school without success. Kait realizes that perhaps this golden ruler they are seeking is not the kind of ruler that you use to measure things, but rather a rule that you live by. They come to recognize that the rule they are trying to find is instead The Golden Rule, which declares we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.
The author offers numerous examples of situations in which kids might find themselves, and offers strategies explaining how kids could apply The Golden Rule to these scenarios. Finally, the book closes with a challenge for the readers to remember to use The Golden Rule every day and in doing so, making themselves and the people around them happier.
The Golden Rule Coloring Book is distinctive for several reasons. Cannon’s story is written in rhyme, a style which is often loved by children. Kids who read books written in rhyme are more likely to be able to memorize the story, and consequently, become familiar with the content and retain what they read.
Another unique characteristic of this book is that while it is a coloring book, the black and white drawings are accompanied by a story. Kids who read this book will be able to enjoy not only the narrative itself, but they will also be able to bring the tale to life by coloring their own version of the story. This allows The Golden Rule Coloring Book to be much more interactive than average coloring books. This is a concept that appears to be new and notable, and one that kids will surely adore.
Quill says: With The Golden Rule Coloring Book, Cannon appears to have written another memorable tale for young readers. The rhyming story teaches children valuable lessons about good manners and respect for others. Parents will appreciate the excellent morals that Cannon imparts with her story, while kids will love being able to ignite their own creativity as they color the accompanying pictures.
To learn more about The Golden Rule Coloring Book, please visit the author’s website at sbprabooks.com/sherrillscannon

Monday, June 14, 2021

#BookReview - The Art of Betrayal

The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery

By: Connie Berry
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64385-594-3
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: June 12, 2021
Award-winning mystery author Connie Berry continues the Kate Hamilton mystery series with the third installment entitled The Art of Betrayal. Our protagonist, Kate, is an American antique dealer who has a unique skill for solving mysteries. The setting for this tale is springtime in the Suffolk village of Long Barston in England. Kate is temporarily running her friend Ivor Tweedy’s antiquity shop while he recovers from hip surgery.
While Kate is attending the May Fair with her friend Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, a brutal murder halts the event. After learning that the murder itself happened in Ivor’s shop, Kate, along with help from Tom, is determined to follow all leads to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Kate is shocked to discover that a valuable Chinese hunping jar is stolen from Ivor’s shop the same night of the murder. This news devastates Kate as it was her responsibility to keep this jar safe until she could obtain a buyer for it. Kate quickly realizes that the fate of Ivor’s business depends on her solving the murder and recovering the precious jar.
As Kate and Tom work together to solve the crime, Kate realizes that the key to finding the killer may be found in an old Anglo-Saxon legend of the green maiden. With the help of friends both old and new, Kate unravels a web of lies and deception that spans decades.
While the heart of The Art of Betrayal is the story of our likeable protagonist Kate solving a murder, the narrative encompasses so much more. There is a tale of romance, English history lessons, charming characters, surprises, and suspense. The reader of this book will be left with newfound knowledge of the antiquities world, along with an appreciation of English history and folklore.
Compared to other murder mysteries, the murder details themselves are explained skillfully and are not gory in any way. Sometimes the graphic nature of homicides depicted in books are exaggerated for simple shock value. It is refreshing to read a murder mystery that is devoid of these often appalling details, but still tells a story that captivates its readers.
Quill says: With The Art of Betrayal, Connie Berry delivers another enthralling tale in the Kate Hamilton series, complete with a charming protagonist, shocking discoveries, and a suspenseful journey to solve the crime. Our hero uncovers a shocking decades-old incident of betrayal with a twist that will leave readers stunned. This book is definitely one to be cherished.
To learn more about The Art of Betrayal, please visit the author’s website at www.connieberry.com.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Cindy Yates, Author of Just Be Honest

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Cindy Yates, author of Just Be Honest.
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
YATES: To think that I have written a book is hard to wrap my head around still. I became very interested in fashion and began modeling in my early teens. That led me to L.A. to get my education in fashion. I was hired by my university to be their fashion director at a very young age. From there I went on to start my own company “Image Productions” where I created fashion show productions for large malls and fashion forward events. This was my first experience with entrepreneurship. I have owned many companies since then.
The interesting thing back then is that in my mind I was trying to find a way to help women have a healthy self-image. My mom was a beautiful and talented woman, but she never seemed to embrace that about herself. She really struggled with her self-esteem. It broke my heart, and it became my own private life mission to help women combat that vicious cycle. Even though my mother was beautiful, in her mind, she didn’t see it. This was a devastating lie she believed about herself. Why are we so willing to believe that lie when the truth is so much more beautiful and empowering?
After creating fashion shows and modeling myself I realized I loved being behind the scenes more than out in front and I loved the business side of it all. I became a makeup artist and learned to love what I could do for my friends and clients with a makeup brush and great products. From there I became involved in starting businesses and loved it.
But here’s what I found, no matter how beautiful the result of my makeup application or the results of the success I was able to attain with my business partners, most of my colleagues still had issues with their own image and inner confidence. I wanted to find the answer and in searching for the answer, honesty became my quest if you will.
FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?
YATES: I never thought I would be an author and I didn’t set out to write a book. I simply began writing down my thoughts and life lessons early on in my professional life because it seemed that I was one of those people who had to learn the hard way in some areas. My favorite uncle and mentor said to me many times that the best education came from the University of Life, and he was so right. So, I wrote it all down as I went along. I didn’t once think about putting my writings into a book as a “writer.” I just wrote down my thoughts. The book idea was an inspiration that came along after so many life experiences; highs and lows that included big successes and failure and grief and self-discovery. I knew I had to share all of these with the world because of the life changing opportunities they were for me. I wanted with all of my heart to give others hope.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
YATES: Honesty became the theme of my life in a very big way. It helped me find my husband and helped me raise my kids. I share examples of this in my book. I know this sounds kind of crazy because we all know how important honesty is, but the truth is, if we don’t make it a top priority in every aspect of our lives, we can become lost in so many ways. I eventually found my passion for coaching people to success and to joy through honesty, but the journey was not a straightforward journey directly toward writing a book. I was so very intrigued by personal integrity and personal honesty. How many talented beautiful people walk around not knowing their true selves because of the lie that they have buried within their minds. These lies can come from outside sources, usually from someone we trust. A parent, teacher, aunt or uncle, sibling or friend can have a huge impact on how we see ourselves even if it isn’t close to the truth.
And personal honesty is something that we don’t pay enough attention to. I mean how many times have we told ourselves we were going to do something and then we don’t follow through. I think about my own dieting experiences. Personal honesty is almost nonexistent but is so important when it comes to creating that balance and joy, we all are searching for.
Just Be Honest is a compilation of my experiences in life. Some of the most profound lessons that changed my life forever were and continue to be discovered under a seemingly everyday experience. I mean I challenge all of you to take a minute every day and find the lessons in your everyday life. Then keep a journal of those lessons. I wouldn’t be surprised if you wrote me someday in the future to share your own amazing book with me.
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ?
Author Cindy Yates
YATES: My writing process has evolved into a therapeutic way of clearing my mind. I write when I am inspired. So, in addition to writing down the lessons of the day, I also take time to write down the inspirations of my heart. It can be from one of my favorite books that I am reading at the time or from a conversation that I had with a client. I am the most inspired by prayer and when I speak with my kids. They inspire me to think big and to keep striving to understand social issues and the ever-changing needs of the human family.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
YATES: My favorite author right now that makes me think and inspires me is Dr. Joseph Murphy. His words in his book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind speaks to me on a very deep level. I have read and listened to this special book countless times and I learn something new every time. My favorite author for entertainment is Tessa Afshar. She is intelligent and teaches truths through her fictional characters. I have read every one of her books. I respect her so much.
FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?
YATES: An author I would like to have dinner with is Erma Bombeck. She is hilarious and was way before her time. She wrote things as she saw them. I would love to sit with her and learn from her. I’m sure we would share laughter and insights with one another.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
YATES: If I were to choose my favorite book of all time it would be the scriptures because of the impact they have had on my life and the deep peace I feel when I submerge myself in them. If I were to talk about a book of fiction it would probably be Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice because it was one of the first books I read that spoke to me. I related so much to the heroine Elizabeth Bennet and her need to be true to herself even if she had to go against the expectations of others. I loved her strength and conviction. I don’t know if this book inspired me to write my own book. I mean I think we are the product of all of our experiences in life. I am grateful to all of the talented authors who have shared their words with me both fiction and non-fiction. I am a better person because of their willingness to share.
FQ: Did your family & friends encourage you to write your book?
YATES: Each of my children wrote parts of the foreword for my book. I asked them to share their thoughts about honesty. I printed them as they came to me, unscripted and unedited. I am so honored by their words. I have the support of all of my family members. My husband is a very quiet man who leads his life with deep integrity, and I share a powerful lesson I learned from him while we were dating in chapter 2. He is not comfortable getting attention and has been my constant for over 30 years. It took some time to find him, but I am grateful I waited because he is a treasure in my life.
FQ: Tell us a little about your qualifications in your field.
YATES: Like I said, I feel that we are the product of our life experiences but in addition to that we must direct our own lives according to what we feel is our divine purpose. I talk about this in my book and in all of my coaching. My main focus when I am coaching my clients is to help them find their own unique identity because this is when we find that beautiful confidence and balance. But this can only come when we are honest with ourselves and have the courage to follow the path we are inspired to follow without peer pressure or worrying about the expectations of other. This is harder than it sounds and having a coach guide us through this process is key. It is one of my loves. I love God and I love my family and a very close second are the people I coach. I want to help everyone in the human family find their own unique identity and purpose in this life. Comparison is the thief of our joy and trying to bring ourselves joy through superficial efforts is tragic. I know because I have been in the beauty and fashion world most of my adult life one way or another. Yes, it is important to feel beautiful but not in the place of our efforts to be authentic. We are more beautiful when our inner self is clean of deceit and confusion. If you would like information or would like to express your own experiences or thoughts, please feel free to contact me at cindy@honestyacademy.com or www.honestyacademy.com. I would love to hear your thoughts.
FQ: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
YATES: Writing this book was easy at first because I was just writing my thoughts but then it became hard as I realized that having a publisher critique my life experiences and my manner in which I expressed myself was going to be painful, I thought. I mean, it is a vulnerable spot to be in when you open yourself up to have others review your work. Having said that, the wonderful part of the journey was when I began working with the team at Atmosphere Press. Every step of the way with them was made easier. They helped me see my words as valuable and they cleaned it up to be beautiful and easy for others to understand. I cannot express enough how very much I love and respect everyone at Atmosphere Press. Nick, Trista, Cammie and Lennie have been amazing. I might just have a few more books in me now that I know I have them behind me to help me shine.
For more information on Just Be Honest, please visit the website: honestyacademy.com