Saturday, July 31, 2021

#BookReview - Keeper of the Mirror

Keeper of the Mirror: The Book of Peter Axtell

By: Theresa Nellis
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 13, 2021
ISBN: 978-1637528129
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: July 29, 2021
Author Theresa Nellis presents her debut young adult fantasy novel in Keeper of the Mirror: The Book of Peter.
In the opening pages of Keeper of the Mirror, we are introduced to Peter, a 13-year-old who constantly butts heads with his parents and prefers malevolence to kindness in every aspect of his life. One day, while trying to escape from his mother, he stumbles into the backyard shed with his dog, Sully, and uncovers an old magic mirror. Sully leaps directly at it, and to Peter’s surprise, rather than crashing into it, Sully disappears right inside the mirror. With Sully being Peter’s one and only friend, Peter throws himself into the mirror after him.
Once on the other side of the mirror, Peter finds Sully and encounters an old man with piercing blue eyes. As Peter gets to know the old man, he finds that he has more and more questions about him and where he originated from. Together, Peter and the old man pass back to the other side of the mirror and find themselves in Peter’s backyard shed again. Shortly after returning to the other side of the mirror, Peter learns that the old man’s name is Bael. As they travel along together, Peter notices something strange about Bael. He seems to have the ability to control people when he looks directly into their eyes. Peter is in awe of this talent and begs Bael to teach him how to do it. Bael shows Peter a few tricks and explains that he is a dark elf who feeds off people’s dark emotions. Peter is ecstatic to learn that he possesses the same powers as Bael.
The first quest that Bael and Peter embark on together is to visit a children’s foster home under the ruse that Peter is Bael’s adopted son and Bael wishes to adopt more children to help run his farm. Bael and Peter successfully convince three boys to join their “family.” However, it is not long before the strange behavior of Bael and Peter causes one boy to run away in terror. The other two boys soon begin to fear for their lives and attempt to escape in their own ways. However, Bael plans to go to great lengths to ensure that the remaining boys will not be able to leave him freely.
Nellis’s debut novel presents a unique story of dark magic, villains, and fantasy for young adults. For a young adult novel, Keeper of the Mirror: The Book of Peter is a rather dark story. For this reason, this book would be best suited for readers ages 12 and up. Themes of hatred, mischievousness, disobedience, and dishonesty are prevalent throughout the story.
While the story itself is well-written, it must be noted that are several formatting and grammatical issues present. These issues included: formatting issues with quotation marks, such as leaving them open when a character had finished speaking, and not starting a new line when a different character began speaking. These errors do not take away from the story; however, they should not be present in a published work.
Quill says: Keeper of the Mirror: The Book of Peter is a suspenseful story of mystery and dark magic. Readers who enjoy stories filled with adventure and fantasy will appreciate Nellis’s debut young adult novel.
For more information on Keeper of the Mirror: The Book of Peter, please visit the author's website at:

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Meet Author Dave J. Andrae

Curious about how an author develops his/her ideas and transforms those ideas into a book? Check out all the authors we have in our Meet the Author section. The latest author to join our ranks of listed author is Dave J. Andrae, author of The Friends of Allan Renner. Check out his listing here: 

#AuthorInterview with Dave J. Andrae

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Dave J. Andrae, author of The Friends of Allan Renner.
FQ: Who do you envision as the ideal reader for this book, the kind of person you hope most to reach and influence?
ANDRAE: That’s a good question but one I don’t have a specific answer for, in that when I sat down to write The Friends of Allan Renner I honestly didn’t envision an ideal “type” of reader or person who would or should be drawn to it. Because the book represents a hybrid of sensibilities in terms of the moods and subjects explored, the backgrounds of the characters encountered, the genres touched upon and so on, I would say that anyone with an open mind who isn’t too politically or ontologically rigid might possibly be into it--which isn’t to say all of said people will like it. Probably having a wry sense of humor would help. And having a bit of an intrapersonal streak, being drawn to cinephilia, the paranormal, being curious about people in general, and maybe being keen on literary fiction and cool music. But I would never assume a certain demographic should automatically be smitten with the book. My philosophy has been that once the book is out there, if people take the time to delve into it and they end up enjoying it, then regardless of who they are they should consider themselves “the target audience.”
FQ: You seem to be a very broad-minded thinker; how much of Allan Renner’s open, accepting attitude is really Dave Andrae?
ANDRAE: There are always going to be some sort of parallels or discrepancies between a novelist and his creations, and I have to be careful about mapping out that terrain in explicit terms. I would say that the general attitude of the book, as evinced through the dialogue, exposition, and various asides, is close to my own, even if the characters and scenarios are mostly made up. I think in general people should try to enjoy themselves and see if they can lean toward making things more enjoyable for others as well. So as an author, on this outing at least, I’ve tried to create something inviting that readers can get lost in, preferably off the internet—which is why I think people should buy the physical books. I see authoring a book as similar to hosting a party at your house: you don’t want people to show up and see you sobbing and drunk in your bathrobe with unkempt hair smashing dirty dishes on the wall and lighting the rug on fire. So a kind of decorum is in order, a mode of restraint and some affability, which isn’t to say things can never get a little crazy. Overall this book is an accumulation of that sort of vibe that elides most of the miseries and tedium that were incurred by its humble author while writing it.
FQ: The ending of this volume could be seen as preparation for a sequel. Do you envision that possibility?
ANDRAE: It was very tempting when the book was finished and the smoke had cleared to get cracking on a sequel novella or something similar. But I’ve officially decided against expanding upon it. I have my own theories of what will happen in that story world, how Renner will use his preceding experiences to achieve a kind of “self-actualization” mostly only hinted at in the book. But for all intents and purposes The Friends of Allan Renner will remain a hermetically sealed literary universe. It ended up being a stroke of good fortune that things came together the way they did, and I’m wary of jeopardizing that, of pushing my luck. Even if it were to one day become financially lucrative, I’d have to decline for fear of ruining something that sits fine on its own.
FQ: Have such psychic phenomena as astral travel mentioned in the book been part of your experience, leading you perhaps to speculate about worlds beyond our own?
ANDRAE: I’ve had sleep paralysis twice, which was frightening, but I don’t think I’ve ever astral traveled. I’ve had exactly one intense experience of the vibrational state; late at night I was listening to a lecture in bed and kind of lost the thread of consciousness and the next thing I knew I was enveloped in an intense warm tingling sensation throughout much of my body. That may be the closest I’ve come to the sublime, but it lasted less than a minute. It’s the most relaxed I’ve ever been and if I could get that in pill form, it would surely get the best of me. But in terms of literal worlds beyond our own, as in aliens in other stars systems, I could talk your ears off about various theories related to that (The Great Filter, Drake’s Equation, the Fermi Paradox, etc.), but I haven’t had any direct experiences with it. I did once spot a strange momentary apparition while biking one night, which was the inspiration for a similar scene in the final chapter, but I can only assume it was a hallucination.
FQ: How long did it take to write this work, considering the many interlocking characters and plots that had to be brought together?
Author Dave J. Andrae

ANDRAE: The book took two years and some change to put together, from about mid April 2018 to early July 2020. It was written from beginning to end, with a refining of the previous chapters as it progressed. I wrote the first three chapters in Southwest Florida, the fourth and most of the fifth in Wisconsin, with the remainder of the book being completed back in the Sunshine State. The last chapter was written just as the pandemic made everything wonky and unpleasant; it was intense grinding it out while the world seemed to be falling apart, masses of people were dying, and the 2020 Election insanity was hanging over all of us, almost like an act of sadism. But as grueling as it was, I preferred having something constructive to work on that got me out of bed nearly every morning.
FQ: Would you characterize this novel as a mating of dystopia and utopia?
ANDRAE: I think it’s ultimately a humanist novel, leaning more toward a kind of utopian vision of humanity in the end, on an individual level, in that Renner can see himself and everyone else from a dignified remove via the Klybohxians. But there are nightmare visions within, not quite as nightmarish as some of J.G. Ballard’s work or a book like The Road, but Renner does speculate about a potentially grim future for humanity and it’s not hard to draw these same conclusions if one pays attention to the news and the internet or certain works of science fiction. As far as putting these things down in the book, it was a way of me grappling with these concerns in a more constructive manner than just typing them on social media and bumming out an unsuspecting stranger (as I’ve lamentably done in the past). In Chapter Six, though, the book takes on a critical attitude toward such lines of thought, in that Renner understands he might alienate Carmen if he goes on about it; he doesn’t want to run the risk of sabotaging a potential romance by coming off like a crank.
FQ: Is there a single author who influenced your choice to construct a central story glued to a wide variety of mostly separate characters?
ANDRAE: No, I can’t recall a single inspiration for that in literature, at least not one that was on my mind while writing it. But in terms of my personal life it’s often been that way, in that I’ve had several friends and acquaintances with whom I’ve interacted on some level, sometimes over many years, who might not have ever interacted with each other, or might not do so anymore, or who will check in with me in a sporadic, almost comically random manner.
FQ: Noting that you are a filmmaker as well as a writer, do you have cinematic plans for The Friends of Allan Renner?
ANDRAE: In order to pull off such a project, I think its budget would have to be far more substantial than the films I’ve made up to this point, each of which has had a total cost of well under $10,000. So there would need to be outside funding, a lot of it. And that would probably be contingent on a well written screenplay/adaptation, which I don’t have the wherewithal to write, having already spent so much time with the story. But if someone else whipped up a good screenplay and the funding materialized, i.e. if someone else did most of the hard work at this point, I’d be happy to work as a creative consultant and play a bit part in it, maybe as the haggard homeless man in Minneapolis who wears a Hypercolor shirt and likes robust tobacco. But I wouldn’t want to direct it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

#BookReview - The Friends of Allan Renner

The Friends of Allan Renner

By: Dave J. Andrae
Publisher: Kaji-Pup Press
Publication Date: November 2020
ISBN: ‎ 978-1-64970-128-2
Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: July 26, 2021
A thoroughly modern man with a variety of fascinating friendships becomes the focus for something entirely different, in this panoramic plot-twister by debut novelist Dave J. Andrae.
It is clear from the beginning that the book’s title is a literal description of its narrative. Told in seven segments as briefly described in the Introduction, Renner’s saga involves the influence of seven presences – one being his rowdy canine companion, the only creature selected to be with him through most of his adventures and misadventures. Andrae introduces Akhil, an Indian semi-mystic who tipsily tips Renner off about the possibility of something like miracles; Sadie, an erstwhile smalltime singing star who has remained attached to Renner over the years; Fred, a cinematographer who encourages and impacts the young man’s artistic bent; Carmen, another musician with the undertones of love ever present in her vibrant persona; Renner’s parents, Phillip and Alice, nurturing their own secret sorrows and hopes for their son; and Ruby, the faithful pooch. One last player in this dynamic tale will appear out of the blue - and Renner will join him there.
Renner, the reader will learn, is a seemingly ordinary human being who attracts extraordinary attention because of his willingness to consider just about every possibility for how life can be organized, freely criticizing hostile and small-minded approaches and, in his own quiet manner, admiring and rewarding the glimmers of love and sharing that come his way. This singular quality, a refusal, it could be said, to mingle with the mob, will take him farther than he could ever have imagined, and the reader will be happy to join him on the journey.
The book begins with the rather dissolute and very hip Renner approaching mid-life and postulating his death and how others might react to it. It ends when others might well imagine that he has passed – but to where? And how? With a fine grasp of dialogue and his filmmaker’s skill for hundreds of swift scene changes, Andrae moves and shakes his hero through lively encounters that will keep the reader wondering what can happen next, and - by the end – begging for a sequel.
Quill says: The Friends of Allan Renner is an intriguing bundle of cross-threaded notions creating a unique tapestry, displaying author Andrae’s talents as a yarn spinner and story weaver.
For more information on The Friends of Allan Renner, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, July 26, 2021

#BookReview - The Final Girl Support Group

The Final Girl Support Group
By: Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 2021
ISBN: ‎ 978-0593201237
Reviewed By: Kimberly Trix Lee
Review Date: July 26, 2021
Anyone who has ever seen an old-school slasher film knows what a Final Girl is. But after the credits roll and the last moviegoer exits the cinema, do we know what happens to the Final Girl? We find the answer in The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix.
Lynnette Tarkington is the sole survivor of a bloody massacre that happened two decades ago. Since then, she spends her every waking day living in fear, always looking over her shoulder, always restless and jittery, dreading that her monster would come back to finally finish the job. She transformed her apartment into her cage, panic closet included, and her address is one of her best-kept secrets. Whenever she has to go outside, she takes an extremely roundabout way of getting from point A to point B, making a lot of train and bus transfers, taking detours into a movie house to check for potential stalkers, changing stops every so often. She memorizes people’s shoes because that’s how she would find out if someone has been following her throughout her roundabout way of going back home. There is no semblance of normality in Lynnette’s life. Her best friend is a plant she calls “Fine,” short for “Final Plant,” and the only other thing that provides structure in her existence is her monthly support group session with five other Final Girls and their therapist.
The six Final Girls, including Lynnette, who meet every month have nothing in common with each other except for the deep-seated trauma that each of them has been carrying all these years after suffering at the hands of their monsters, irreversibly changing the way they view the world. They all have kept on meeting up for their monthly support group sessions despite the constant drama and antics. With their distinctive personalities and varying levels of paranoia and coping mechanisms, the sessions seem to have run their course. That is, until one of the Final Girls misses a session and is found dead. Soon enough, they will realize that someone is coming after the Final Girls, one by one.
The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is a meta story about the Final Girls from classic slasher films like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Hendrix asked the question “what if you put all the Final Girls together in their final slasher flick?” and wrote exactly that. The concept is interesting and, although I find the execution a bit wanting, I think it was written exactly like how a slasher flick is supposed to be written – action-packed, bloody and violent, and minimal character development. I think this would be a great TV series or a movie. On the book, I especially liked the epistolary-style snippets after every chapter as it helped a lot with the world-building that Hendrix was trying to show. I would recommend this to fans of the classic slasher films as you would find a lot of easter eggs such as in the names of the characters and from the titles of each chapter.
Quill says: This is a meta campy horror/thriller that pays homage to the classic slasher films.

Friday, July 23, 2021

#BookReview - Little Pink Book by Zahra Jons

Little Pink Book

By: Zahra Jons
Publisher: DreamPunk Press
Publication Date: April 2021
ISBN: 978-1938215971
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Review Date: July 20, 2021
One teen’s accidental possession of a mysterious pink book morphs into an obsession until near-deadly situations arise in Zahra Jons’ second full-length novel, Little Pink Book.
Amelia Perrin is caught off guard when Matt Curnal, a guy she has a crush on at Granby High, says “hi” to her. To hide her embarrassment, Amelia keeps her head down, pretending to study her history notes. What she doesn’t expect is to collide into THE Samantha, one of a perfectly slim with flawless complexion five-girl group. In English class, Amelia suddenly gets sick to her stomach. Later, when Amelia relays the incident of THE Samantha with Casey Fitzgerald, her best friend, their conversation moves to a little pink book—both glittery and stinky—Amelia finds in her bookbag and assumes it belongs to Samantha.
Amelia attempts to investigate the book’s contents only to receive a paper cut in the solitude of her bedroom. She watches wide-eyed as the book’s cover promptly absorbs her blood droplets. The scents of honeysuckle and strawberries immediately overpower the book’s putrid licorice odor. Weirded out by what she witnesses, Amelia returns the book to her bag, intending to give it to Samantha at school. The only problem is that Samantha is a no-show for the rest of the week. Things grow eerie when Amelia receives threatening anonymous texts. As Amelia checks out some of the strange book entries, like “Boston Créme doughnut to Emily Dornhauser,” a peculiar old gypsy woman warns: “You gots to burn it.”
Amelia and Casey deduce that the five-girl group use the cryptic entries to mysteriously transfer their unwanted items (zits, added pounds, and sicknesses) to others at school. The girls assume that it must be dark magic, and Amelia thinks back to the old woman’s cautionary message. Nonetheless, Amelia feels compelled to continue to write down her list of undesirables and pass them on to those “who deserve it.” As a result, Amelia (as well as Casey) begins to trim down nicely. Just as their physical changes take form, Samantha returns to school with her skinny version transformed back to her old heavier self. Although Amelia and Casey befriend her, things grow from strange to downright scary with an uptick of anonymous texts that turn life-threatening.
Zahra Jons has produced a unique tale filled with a slew of “paranormal horror twists.” Jons presents a military brat’s awkwardness having to adjust from one place to the next. It’s only been about a year since Amelia's family left Okinawa, Japan, and settled in Norfolk, Virginia. During that time, she’s made one close friend: Casey. Amelia may be a good student who helps her parents care for her young, energetic twin brothers. Still, she has yet to find a way to fit in at school, especially with her crush, Matt. Little does she know that her life is about to turn upside-down when she comes in possession of the little pink book.
Jons grabs the attention of teen readers, opening her novel with the ubiquitous “girl crush” before shifting into the unfathomable aspects of the little pink book. Using a relatively small but tightly-knit cast, Jons slowly builds narrative tension by sprinkling in mystical eeriness within scenes befitting a teen environment. Although Amelia plays the lead role, Jons has crafted a cast that function more as foils to develop Amelia’s persona than simple secondary characters to enhance the storyline.
Chapters are short with cliffhangers and alternate between Amelia’s life at school, home, and otherwise over several months. While the tension-driven narrative centers on the effects of the little pink book, it also reveals the impacts the book has on Amelia’s life. Whether or not she succeeds in succumbing to the book’s lure remains to be seen.
Quill says: Little Pink Book is a perfect twisty coming-of-age book for teens.
For more information on Little Pink Book, please visit the publisher's website at:

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Joe Numbers, author of The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Joe Numbers, author of The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body.
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
NUMBERS: I’m 71, married and have one daughter who lives in Sydney, Australia. I’m a licensed architect and have practiced in Idaho and California (Lake Tahoe/Truckee area) for over forty years. Ever since high school, I’ve written poetry. Looking back, it was REALLY bad poetry. But my classmates kept encouraging me, so I kept writing.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
NUMBERS: This book is a collection of odes to the body. Celebrating the individual body parts literally from head to toe. It is both a serious and a humorous look at the human body.
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
Author Joe Numbers
NUMBERS: I felt compelled to complete this collection of odes because it seemed like no one else had done anything similar. I was originally inspired by the odes of Pablo Neruda. I was introduced to his poetry while living in Santiago, Chile in the early 1970’s.
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 ?
NUMBERS: I only write when the desire surfaces…usually late at night.
FQ: The genre of your book is narrative poetry. Why this genre?
NUMBERS: This collection is meant to be a celebration of the human body and its many individual parts. By definition, odes are celebratory in nature and therefore they are the perfect literary expression to convey the beauty and complexity of the human body and the human experience. Anything less becomes a dull textbook description of a miracle of design and purpose.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
NUMBERS: I enjoy the writing of Pablo Neruda (obviously), Ernest Hemingway, and the “Don Juan” series of books by Carlos Castaneda.
FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?
NUMBERS: I’d like to have dinner with Ernest Hemingway because of his strong connection to Idaho and his clean, straight forward writing style. He led an incredible life in many countries around the world and experienced the best and worst of humankind and then wrote powerfully about his experiences.

FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
NUMBERS: I think my all-time favorite book is Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda. It changed my life. I had been writing poetry since high school, but this book gave me a vision of what really good, beautiful poetry looked and sounded like.
FQ: If you were to teach a class on the art of writing, what is the one item you would be sure to share with your students and how would you inspire them to get started?
NUMBERS: I would urge the students to be keenly aware of their surroundings and to mentally describe what they see around them. Also, to look for the patterns, colors and structures of natural and everyday objects around them.
FQ: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
NUMBERS: I agonized over virtually every single word in this collection. Is this the right adverb? Adjective? Is there a better, more poetic way to phrase this thought? Is it too wordy? Not wordy enough? Does it make sense? Etc., etc.
For more information on The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body, please visit the publisher's website at

Monday, July 19, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Dan E. Hendrickson

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amyn Lignor is talking with Dan E. Hendrickson, author of Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess.
FQ: Dan, it was a pleasure reading this book. Per your bio, I know you grew up in Wyoming, so majestic mountain ranges made up your surroundings. Where and when did the idea for the warm seas of the Caribbean and the pirates sailing them come into play?
HENDRICKSON: Well, it was really not from the movies; Pirates of the Caribbean. I was born in 1962 and I grew up reading books like Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and watching movies like Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, and The Master at Ballantrae. I dearly loved the Book Series about Captain Horatio Hornblower by Eneas Mackenzie from the early 50’s as well. So, I have always been fascinated with the pirate theme but after finding out in college history classes what a huge part of the Caribbean Slave trade they were involved in it took some time for me to come up with a story that would still satisfy my childish affection for the topic while dealing with their real world impact.
FQ: I had read that journalism was what you majored in; when/how did it come about that you chose the fictional world to write in over that path?
HENDRICKSON: I love the science of journalism in that one has to separate themselves from a story and present it from an observational point of view endeavoring to show all sides of the account. At least that was the ideal I was taught in college. My desire to write fiction began in my childhood and is something that has only rekindled in my heart in the last few years. So, my training as a journalist has caused me to want to tell stories in that same way. That is why I choose to write in the third person, and present tense. Because that is how a story is presented in a newspaper or on a television broadcast. I think that it gives a fun way to read a story because it allows the reader to make their own observations and judgments about the situations and characters. It is great fun to read the feedback in reviews and such, because others’ opinions of characters and situation vastly differ, and more times than not differ also from my intent in their presentation. Some might take that as an insult, but it tells me I put enough variety in the story to allow each reader to see their own version of the tale.
FQ: You practiced martial arts for a long time, earning black belts and others. Did you call upon this background when it came to the battles played out in this book?
HENDRICKSON: Most obviously in my character, Zhang Yong whom I portray as a man from China who is also a Shaolin Priest. The understanding of the ‘secrets of Tai Che’ and its universal practice in China is one of the key elements of the relationship between him and my character John Edwards. John had learned Tai Chi from a monk while serving in the British Navy but did not understand its practical application in fighting techniques until Zhang revealed it to him in the story. In the story I endeavor to show how though John was quite formidable before he met Zhang, his talent increased exponentially after receiving some training from him. Also, there are a couple of places in the book where Zhang and Captain Joshua are shown to “think alike” in matters of strategy and combat. This concept I got from the book entitled, The Art of War by Sun Tzu in the 5th century. It is a very well-known and well-read among both military and martial arts practitioners worldwide. In small ways, I endeavored to show that both men used the principles in the book in their thinking and strategy for combat.
FQ: Has the “swashbuckler” hero and villain been an interest for you since you were a child?
HENDRICKSON: Very much so. As I stated before, those kinds of books and movies have always been among my favorites.
FQ: Out of all the pirates in the past, do you have a particular one that was a muse, perhaps, when it came to creating them in your book? Which would you prefer to be cast as: the good or the bad on the high seas?
HENDRICKSON: Well, my character ‘The Scarlet Mistress,’ is based on the famous female pirate Ann Bonny of the early 18th century. She was of Irish decent and known for her fierce temper. I tried to portray the pirate life as something to be ashamed of and avoided. My intent with Brandy was to show her growth and transition out of that life by way of the help she received from people like John Edwards, whose character is based on people like Captain Horatio Hornblower, and Captain John Smith.
FQ: Give our readers a peek, if you will, at a normal “writing day” for you.
HENDRICKSON: I own and operate a full-time automotive body shop and detail shop and I still do volunteer Christian ministry work, so my writing can be sporadic. I try to get some in the mornings after I open my business. After those few precious hours, it is basically anytime and anywhere I can.
FQ: Is there an author, classic or present, that you would like to sit and chat with? If so, what would be the one question you would love to ask them?
HENDRICKSON: Ernest Hemingway. He also was a journalist. In literary circles he was accredited to have introduced the use of shorter sentences, and paragraphs in his fiction writing. Although controversial at the time his style has since hugely changed the way people write books. Thus, making the reading of novels more popular and easier. I would love to talk to him.
FQ: I read that you are working on several more books at this time; can you let our readers know what to expect in the future?
HENDRICKSON: Right now, I have two in the works. The first is based on one of my main characters in my ‘Last Enemy Series’ and prequels. Captain Tommy Williams. He is the one who led the rescue mission to free Commander Jacob Edwards in the third book of that series. He is also Jacob’s mentor. Captain Williams has a label attached to him by his colleagues that he is not very fond of, which is: “The Living Legend”. In the upcoming book I show how he got that label and why he doesn’t like it when people call him that.
The second book is called Magi Apprentice and it is a historical fiction of the wise men who visited the young child Jesus in Bethlehem after his birth.
For more information on Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess, please visit the author's website at

Thursday, July 15, 2021

#BookReview - Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess

Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess

By: Dan E. Hendrickson
Publication Date: March 2021
ISBN: 978-1-7345-1875-7
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 14, 2021
Whether you were playing the role as a kid or grew up and absolutely loved watching Johnny Depp stagger about as Captain Jack Sparrow – you must’ve thought at one time that swashbuckling was the coolest thing on Earth. And when it came to books, all the way back to Robert Louis Stevenson introducing one and all to Long John Silver in Treasure Island, the classic pirate on an incredible journey had to draw you in...for life. But no matter what you chose to do—pick up the saber as the hero, or be the one having only one eye to see (because the patch covered the other one)—the pirate tales you read certainly had to get the creative juices flowing.
Which is exactly what Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess does in ‘kegs.’ Not only is this tale captivating, it also offers gifts to those fans who are looking for everything from historical fiction to adventure to romance to the need to see a female take the lead. We are stationed in the Caribbean (Captain Sparrow, you out there?) during the early 1800’s, when we meet up with Miss Brandy Erasmus. Not exactly a debutante, her father is one of the deadliest pirates sailing the ocean blue, flying his skull-and-bones flag from the mast of his unconquerable ship, The Red Witch. Both of Brandy’s parents strike fear into others’ hearts. But while her parents have pilfered the Caribbean for over twenty-five years, Brandy and her Uncle Skinner soon find themselves barely breathing as they escape an attack on Brandy’s parents when first mate, Lomoche, picks up a sword, takes her parents out, and proceeds to steal away the ship and her crew.
Walled up inside a tavern that her uncle has opened in Jamaica, the orphan Brandy is now safe. But as she works there serving ale to the crowd, she still simmers with anger at the fact that her parents are gone, her friends are now ensconced on a ship with a murderer, and her rightful place at the helm has been taken away. Fortunately for Brandy, however, one day Captain John walks through the doors of the tavern with a group of his own friends. Soon, the dashing captain escorts Brandy aboard a ship once again and they head out on what could be a perilous journey to steal back what rightfully belongs to Brandy.
Not only does the author dive into the civil turmoil and disorder that was occurring in the world at the time, he also offers up a focus on the perspective of slavery, showing both sides of the debate with precision. Add on the fact that many cultures are also shown colorfully, elegantly, and respectfully, and you have a story that never stops grabbing you for a single second. Perhaps the most difficult part is watching Brandy make that ultimate decision to leave her gore-filled past behind and move on, or get back The Red Witch and her crew in order to go on a rescue mission that could cost Brandy her life.
The plot as well as the characters are equally fantastic. Readers are given the action, the adventure, characters that grow before your very eyes in complexity and, yes, a romance unfolds that is up there with the best of them when it comes to making your heart beat faster. Learning about the lives of these characters was as much fun as watching the swashbuckling parts take center stage, which is yet another thing this particular reader wants to thank the author for; by not allowing one ‘peg-leg’ step to lag or one second of text to be dull, the writer deserves a round of applause.
Quill says: Avast Ye Readers! Put down the swords and pick up this book; you will be thrilled that you did so! 5 out of 5 stars is an understatement.
For more information on Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Lulu and Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lulu and Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park (Lulu and Rocky Adventures)
By: Barbara Joose
Illustrated by: Renee Graef
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: May 2021
ISBN: ‎ 978-1534111332
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 14, 2021
Lulu and Rocky are off on another adventure - this time to discover the natural wonders of the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Lulu & Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park starts off with a very cool map of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Well known spots are marked with their names (Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Alberta Falls, Grand Lake, etc.) as well as things such as tents, buildings, and various animals. Turn the page and the adventure begins with Rocky packing up all his gear for an exciting adventure.
When Rocky arrives at his destination, he heads to the Stanley Hotel (is it haunted?) to meet his cousin Lulu as well as their buddy Pufferson the penguin. The cousins also meet Henry, who will be their guide throughout the trip.
The group heads out early the next morning on a hike along the Cub Lake Trail. Next up is camping in a tent, exploring the park by horseback, fishing, eating s'mores around a campfire, as well as checking out the very loud rumbles of water in the Glacier Creek. Along the way, the explorers see many different animals, experience a very loud thunderstorm, and see lots of beautiful wild flowers. By the time the travelers return to the Alpine Visitor Center, they're tired but have so many neat stories to tell.
Lulu and Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park is the fifth book in the Lula and Rocky Adventures series. Each book sees the friends exploring a different city (Milwaukee, Detroit, Nashville and Indianapolis), although this is the first book that has Lulu and Rocky visiting a national park. I read one of the earlier books (the Nashville adventure) and while it was full of facts, I wasn't sure it would hold a young reader's attention. The Rocky Mountain adventure was a bit more intriguing with all the animals and natural wonders Lulu and Rocky discovered. Like the other books, however, the story doesn't have much of a plot - it's more of a guide to the park. The illustrations are the highlight to the book, with great, vibrant colors that bring the Rocky Mountains to life. At the back of the book there's a two-page "More to Know" fact sheet to help readers prepare for their upcoming trip.
Quill says: If you're planning a trip to the Rocky Mountains, then Lulu and Rocky in Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect book for the young travelers in your group.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

#BookReview - The Pursued and the Pursuing by AJ Odasso

The Pursued and the Pursuing
By: AJ Odasso
Publisher: DartFrog Books
Publication Date: September 2021
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: July 6, 2021
The Pursued and the Pursuing begins where the other one ends – almost. Essayist and poet AJ Odasso has taken F. Scott Fitzgerald’s signature novel, The Great Gatsby, for another run around the track, with considerable twisting and turning in the process.
The book opens as Jay Gatsby’s longtime friend, first-person narrator Nick Carraway, is helping to move Jay’s corpse minutes after he was shot to apparent death by a misguided jealous husband. But Gatsby is, in fact, still clinging to life, as styled by Odasso. He chokes out a few choice words that astonish Carraway, who hastily arranges his friend’s trip by ambulance to a local hospital where a miraculous recovery is affected. Efforts are made to keep the patient safe from publicity - Gatsby, once a mover and shaker in high society, reverts to his humble birth name, James Gatz.
As Gatsby/Gatz slowly recuperates, he and Nick shyly, cautiously, become more than friends. Their destiny as lovers is fulfilled and the past set aside if not entirely forgotten. But that past will creep in, as Jay’s once great love Daisy will return to complicate their relationship. And her daughter Pammy, a vibrant and rebellious teen, will provide further links, not only to events that preceded the two men’s newly avowed affection, but also to current concerns. Pammy’s closest companion is a dark-skinned beauty, Sylvie. Together this dynamic foursome will need to weave and in some cases re-weave the unfinished tapestry of their connections, while blazing fresh trails. But through it all, Nick and Jay have one another, a bond that only strengthens with time and circumstance.
Odasso, who initiated this work with some separate chapters that attracted favorable attention, has reintroduced Fitzgerald’s world to a new audience, using their noteworthy skill as a wordsmith and reminiscent touches from the earlier novel, with the fresh twist of great love that transcends great barriers. The storyline affords a close, emotive examination of the challenges faced by those daring enough to assay a long-term gay relationship in a past, less enlightened, era. Too, the loyalty of a character very briefly mentioned in Fitzgerald’s work, Finnish servant Magda, provides new possibilities in Odasso’s bold re-invention. Spicy scenes between Nick and Jay add piquant realism to a story that combines international settings and varying locations in the US as the two try to find the right fit for their professional and personal passions, with the thundering backdrop of war threatening in Europe.
Quill says: With a sweep of large issues arising and small but deftly drawn classical touches, Odasso is distinguished as a penman of promise whose imagination is as expansive as the classic drama they so satisfyingly devise in The Pursued and the Pursuing.

#BookReview - Victim Eleven by Tom Chorneau

Victim Eleven
By: Tom Chorneau
Publisher: DartFrog Books
Publication Date: June 2021
ISBN: 978-1953910615
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: July 6, 2021
Victim Eleven is a gripping, yet sometimes confusing, thriller written by seasoned author and veteran reporter, Tom Chorneau.
James J. Cole, a former investigative journalist and current private investigator, is attempting to sell his home when he is informed that his house was the site of a rape and murder allegedly committed by the notorious Golden State Killer (a man who was suspected of raping, burglarizing and murdering dozens of people in California between 1973 and 1986). Not knowing much about the sensational coverage of the recent arrest of the alleged serial felon, and potentially worried about how he should deal with this information, Cole embarks upon his own investigation in an attempt to prove that this crime did in fact occur in his home. While searching for answers, Cole is thrown unexpectedly into dangerous territory when he discovers a theory circulating around for years that the Golden State Killer may not have carried out his crimes alone, but with an accomplice.
While Cole is deeply entangled in his own inquiry about the crime committed in his house, he starts a new job as a private investigator for a law firm. His first two assignments, Cole thinks, are fairly mundane, and even a bit ridiculous. But he is quickly assigned to several other cases that not only require more research and involvement tracking down an extensive list of leads, but as Cole quickly discovers, are also a lot more dangerous to conduct.
The overall story is an excellent melange between fiction and fact, and it is obvious that the author did extensive research about the Golden State Killer while writing. The nail-biting suspense and plot twists keep readers engaged throughout the main character’s tireless search for answers. However, because of the concurrent subplots, and many new characters (often with multiple nicknames) involved in Cole’s other investigations, readers are presented with too much critical information and may become lost and frustrated, finding themselves rereading portions of the story in order to understand, and fully appreciate, what is going on. While it is, of course, a reality that an investigative journalist/private investigator may be working on more than one case at a time, perhaps if the author focused solely on, and expanded the original story, it would be easier to follow, and thus a bit more enjoyable to read. This reviewer also felt that although the final chapter tied everything together nicely, it was a bit of an abrupt ending, particularly for Cole and all the adventures (both mundane and harrowing) he successfully went through in order to ultimately get all the answers he was searching for throughout the various cases he was juggling. Maybe there will be continued exploits for James J. Cole in the future? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Quill says: Victim Eleven is part thrilling fiction and part cold hard facts, mixed into one interesting read.
To learn more about Victim Eleven, please visit the author’s website at: