Monday, August 30, 2021

#BookReview - Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna

Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna
By: Ann Birdgenaw
Illustrated by: E.M. Roberts
Publisher: DartFrog Books
ISBN: 978-1-953910-50-9
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: August 29, 2021
Best friends and space explorers Hawk and Matt are off on another adventure, this time with a new friend, Celeste, in the second book in the Black Hole Radio series, Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna.
As book two begins, Hawk and Matt have just returned from their amazing adventure from book one where they got sucked into a wormhole thanks to an old radio in Hawk’s garage. Was it a dream or was it real? Regardless, it’s soon time for school and the two boys once again find themselves sitting in Mrs. Bupkiss’ class. Unfortunately, she decides to call on Matt to see if he’s done his homework. Amazingly, he’s able to answer every question correctly, thanks to Hawk giving him all the answers via ESP. Apparently their last adventure wasn’t a dream.
After class, Hawk notices the new girl, Celeste, standing by herself. The teacher said Celeste has Asperger Syndrome, and while Hawk doesn’t know what that means, he tells the reader that Mrs. Bupkiss says Celeste may be shy and not like to make eye contact. Since Hawk gets picked on for being too “geeky,” he feels he can relate to Celeste. Soon they’re talking and before long, Hawk is inviting her to his house to check out their very cool science club.
Celeste is the perfect new science club member – her parents are both astronomers and she too, loves science “stuff.” But at the first meeting, Celeste hears a strange beep, beep, beep, beep, and needs to find out what’s causing the noise. Of course, Hawk and Matt know that it’s the radio. Yes...that radio - the radio that sucks people into a wormhole and sends them far, far away.
The three friends are soon transported to a bug planet, with all sorts of cool bugs. Thanks to Hawk and Matt’s ability to use ESP, they’re able to communicate with the bugs. BUG-203, a “Bipedal Unibodied Golem,” tells the travelers that they “…are on moon Bilaluna, orbiting planet Poo-ponic.” The bugs welcome Hawk, Matt, and Celeste, and give them a ride in their moon buggy, heading to the bug colony. The three earthlings, however, notice that the terrain appears dead. The few areas where they find trees, they discover that the bugs are destroying them to create power to produce nectar that the bugs need to survive. Celeste has to use her knowledge of insects, as well as environmental issues, to try and help the bugs save their moon. Will she and her new friends be able to convince the bugs to use the humans’ knowledge to save Bilaluna? And if so, will what they propose work?
Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna is the second book in the Black Hole Radio series and like the first book, this one is quite imaginative. The author has found her stride in this book, where the writing is tighter, and the story moves quicker than it did in the first book. The resolution to the bugs’ problems with their moon requires an understanding of environmental issues such as what bugs contribute to the Earth’s health, which Celeste happily shares with the bugs, and thus, the reader. Another nice touch is that while the first book was narrated by Hawk, this time Celeste takes “the reins,” and narrates most of the story. The reader gets a look at what it’s like to have Asperger Syndrome, the struggles Celeste faces, as well as all the awesome things she contributes. It’s a great way to build empathy toward those who might be different.
Quill says: Space, bugs, wormholes, and saving a moon environment all figure prominently into Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna. If you have young readers (ages 9-12) who like stories with wild and crazy adventures, check out the Black Hole Radio series.
For more information on Black Hole Radio: Bilaluna, please visit the author's Goodreads page at:

#BookReview - The Abalone Ukulele by R.L. Crossland

The Abalone Ukulele: A Tale of Far Eastern Intrigue
By: R. L. Crossland
Publisher: New Academia Publishing
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Reviewed by: Skyler Boudreau
Date August 29, 2021
The Abalone Ukulele is, at its heart, a true love letter to both Asian culture and the naval experiences of sailors. A novel of naval intrigue taking place across several years and locations, Author R. L. Crossland’s intimate knowledge of sailing and various Asian cultures is on full display in his latest project.
The Abalone Ukulele is a story containing many different plotlines. The overarching story is about Yi, a young Korean tribute bearer attempting to reclaim the treasure he lost while delivering it to China. This treasure was lost due to an unforeseen attack on the transport group by the Japanese. It soon spirals into a political nightmare and Yi decides that he must somehow earn this treasure back. He takes a few less than honorable roads along the way and crosses paths with the kinds of unsavory figures we might imagine in a crime thriller.
Several other plotlines follow the activities of different naval officers as Yi continues to try and collect this lost money. These other characters do ultimately tie into Yi’s story at the very end, but throughout the majority of the novel, it’s difficult to see the connection. With that seeming lack of connection comes confusion as to why they were included as the reader follows them throughout their own stories. These other adventures are not nearly as interesting as Yi’s, but they do take up substantially more page time.
The Abalone Ukulele has as many narrators as it does plotlines. As with the plotlines, Yi is by far the most intriguing. He is at the heart of this redemption quest, striving to recover the treasure he lost. All of the narrators keep the audience relatively distant, and Yi is not an exception. While he doesn’t invite readers into his head, he does show a lot of dedication to his quest and is someone that the audience is easily able to root for. His story is the one that draws the reader in and keeps them engaged. The other characters are equally distant from the reader, but do not offer the compelling qualities that Yi does.
Author R. L. Crossland is certainly a very capable and knowledgeable writer. His understanding of different Asian cultures bleed through every paragraph and his passion for this project is evident. This passion brings a unique flavor to the text that invites the reader to dive headfirst into a new environment that they may not be familiar with. Crossland is also very knowledgeable when it comes to military movement and maneuver thanks to his thirty-five years of service as a U. S. Navy SEAL. He provides a lot of information on these two subjects in long paragraphs and while the information is interesting, it’s thrust on readers very quickly. These information dumps play a big part in why the secondary plotlines are so slowly paced and difficult to get through.
The Abalone Ukulele has a lot going for it. It’s a welcoming novel for a reader familiar with Asian cultures and naval groups, but a bit difficult for a reader unfamiliar with those subjects. It’s a novel written for a very specific audience, and that’s okay. Between Yi’s quest to retrieve the lost fortune and the wealth of knowledge Crossland provides, that audience will no doubt greatly enjoy this novel.
Quill says: Crossland’s target audience will be thrilled with his dedication to detail!
For more information on The Abalone Ukulele: A Tale of Far Eastern Intrigue please visit the website:

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

#BookReview - Black Hole Radio

Black Hole Radio
By: Ann Birdgenaw
Illustrated by: E.M. Roberts
Publisher: DartFrog Books
ISBN: 978-1-953910-48-6
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: August 23, 2021
Debut author Ann Birdgenaw introduces young readers to a varied cast of characters in the first book in her outer-space adventure series, Black Hole Radio.
Hawk is a fifth-grade student who is a bit of a space nerd. His best friend Matt shares his love of all things cosmologically related, including their favorite t.v. show, Star Trekkers. Unfortunately, the school bullies think that wanting to learn about exploring the universe makes Hawk and Matt “super cosmo-nerds.” The best friends better be careful or the bullies will come after them.
Hawk really misses his Grandpa Ray who died not long ago. Fortunately, he has his buddy Matt, their secret space club, secret handshake, and club ring to help distract him from his sorrow. After school the two friends head to Hawk’s house to watch Star Trekkers. Their secret club meets at the clubhouse, which is actually the old tool shed behind the garage.
While watching their favorite show, the boys hear an odd sound. Beep, beep, beep, beep. What could it be? Hawk and Matt search for the origin of the noise and soon discover an old radio in a box in the garage. The radio’s alarm is going off so Matt simply turns off the alarm. But…that doesn’t stop the beeping. So then Matt takes the batteries out. And when that doesn’t work, they start getting worried. But then things get really crazy when a gravitational force starts to pull them toward the radio...and beyond.
Hawk and Matt are transported to an alien planet where they are attacked by some odd alien drones. After the drone encounter, the boys meet Yxzyurchmung, or Mung for short. Mung explains that the drones were sent from their enemies the Boogernauties, and that he and his people are grateful for what Hawk and Matt did to vanquish the Booger-Bully drones. They would also like the boys to help them get rid of the Booger-Bullies once and for all. But all Hawk and Matt want is to find a way to get back home.
In the author’s note at the end of Black Hole Radio, author Ann Birdgenaw, an elementary school librarian, tells of always wanting to try her hand at writing her own story. When a strange beeping sound occasionally called out from her garage, and it took all summer to locate the radio that was making the noise, the idea for Black Hole Radio was born. Birdgenaw has created a fun adventure series that includes aliens, zombies, ESP, hoover-scooters and even a wormhole. The story is told by Hawk and young readers will undoubtedly relate to both him and Matt. They are fun characters and it’s clear that the author spends her time in a school library because the “lingo” is spot on. The best part, perhaps, is that Grandpa Ray, who Hawk misses terribly, plays a role in the final resolution to the boys’ dilemma. At the back of the book is a glossary of space and science terms to help all “space nerds” better understand the terminology. Overall, this is a solid start to a new series and is a great way to get kids who love all things “space,” to dig in and start reading.
Quill says: Get ready for an outer space adventure that sends best friends Hawk and Matt on a crazy ride through all sorts of bizarre alien encounters that will have young readers, particularly those intrigued by space travel, itching to get their hands on the next book, Black Hole Radio – Bilaluna.
For more information on Black Hole Radio, please visit the author's Goodreads page at:

Monday, August 23, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Christopher Cole, author of Sanctuary

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Christopher Cole, author of Sanctuary (The Dark Days Series Book Two).
FQ: Could you tell readers about the “day in the life of Christopher Cole” when Sonny and his friends were realized?
COLE: Sonny is a character that I’ve always wanted in a story. Someone who is strong, capable, and willing to fight for what he believes in and for what he cares about. Ashley and Carrie are both his friends and his family. They are as much of an influence in his life as he is to them. The moments where you see them care for each other I wanted the readers to feel that as they’re reading. These three came to me out of my love and desire for similar characters that have such a strong and likable bond in each other.
FQ: What made you decide to make this story a series? Did you first see it as one, or was it one of those things where there was just too much to put into one book after you were half-way through writing Outbreak?
COLE: First I wrote an outline and as I continued to add the major events, I knew it was too much for one book. Also, a series can make the readers want more of the story whereas one book even if it’s great, it’s finished when you get to the end. A series can end each book on a cliffhanger making the readers wanting more and that’s what I wanted for my series.
FQ: Where do you get all of these wonderful characters? Are they based on people you know, or are they all invented?
COLE: Some of the characters are based on other characters or at least certain elements are based on other characters. I wanted the characters to be ones that the readers would care and root for. Growing up, it was hard for me to get into reading, because I kept finding stories that didn’t have a main character to root for or one with side characters that were better than the main character.
FQ: Speaking of your cast of characters, I absolutely loved Grim. He was fascinating on several levels - was he a fun character to develop?

COLE: He’s both a fun character and a complicated one. Out of all the characters I’ve created, Grim’s character was the one I wanted to do just right. I wanted to make it clear on who and what kind of person he is without filling everything about him with answers. Leaving some parts of him a mystery pulls people in and that’s what I wanted for him. Grim has what I would call “The Cowboy Code,” like in the classic Western movies. After all the bad things they’ve been through, the cowboys have their own code of honor where it’s enough where they’re not gonna give and keep fighting even if it’s not entirely clear what that is.
FQ: In addition, there are a menu of characters. How do you keep them all straight?
COLE: I have a list of the characters I keep track with and I also try to add something to characters that make them different from the other characters. Like how Jess knows about plants, Patch is the prankster/funny one, River is the tough girl with a kind heart, Molly is a free spirit, etc. As each book, I’ll continue to add new things that make them different to help them grow. Characters change and evolve as they grow.
FQ: When does your mind begin to form the next story? In other words, do you already have the plot for Book Three mapped out while in the process of writing Book Two?
COLE: Book Three is mapped out and in development as are the other future books, but as time goes on, I continue to add and re-edit the outline to make it better or different. Sometimes ideas come to me, while other times I brainstorm what would work and what wouldn’t.
FQ: Do you have particular authors you enjoy? Some out there where you are practically antsy for the next one to be released?
COLE: I greatly enjoyed Gary Paulsen and his Brian series and Tucket books. His books are written through the characters POV like mine so you feel like you’re in the action. However, Neal Shusterman’s Skinjacker Trilogy is what inspired me to write. His books just pulled me in and lit the writer’s fire in me.
FQ: Is there a different genre you would like to try during your career? If so, what would that be and why do you wish to tackle it?
COLE: I’ve taken interest in drama fiction. I’ve co-written a book that’s also gonna be a series with a fellow author of Kingston Publishing. The book is called Rising Up. It’s about two kids that are best friends who realize that they need each other in their own way. I wish to tackle this, because I did enjoy certain drama books growing up and I’ve developed a story in my head that I wish to tell.

FQ: You have to give us something (LOL). A little sneak peek at Book Three, and whether or not The Dark Days will be a trilogy or will it be going further?
COLE: In my outline, I have at least six books in my mind. It might be five, I’m still working on the outline. I know how I want the whole series to end, but it’s everything in between that I’m struggling with which is what is causing me to edit the outline.
Sneak Peak of Book Three: Survival
“It’s only been a few short years since Nathan and his friends found the sanctuary Fort Gold Rush. After being recruited for the Black Shadows, along with the enduring brutal zombie and bandit attacks, those two years felt like two hundred. However, their problems are only just beginning.
A rebellious anti-government terrorist organization called The California Freedom Fighters, has emerged to commit a coup on the Pacific Army and take over the fort. On top of that, rival communities that are at war with each other have their eyes set on Fort Gold Rush as well. The badlands of America are becoming more and more dangerous.
Nathan and his friends must use all their strength, power, and wits to defend the only home they have left, but will it be enough? Can they save their safe haven from total destruction or will they be forced to live out in the badlands again?”

Sunday, August 22, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Thomas Duffy, Author of Heavenly

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Thomas Duffy, author of Heavenly.
FQ: Your books are so emotional that I have to ask: Is there one that stands out as being the most difficult to write?
DUFFY: The Separation was very difficult to write and that book, contrary to popular belief, is also extremely emotional. It is about a character named Finn who is separated from his family because of the rules that are implemented in society. It is set in the distant future. Towards the end of the book, Finn talks about his dreams where he can envision seeing the people he's lost in his life again. I think that advertising that book as merely science fiction with a plot hook that was very intriguing was a mistake. It's not meant to be an action driven book but rather a story of one man's emotional journey where he has lost everything that he's ever had in life. I was fortunate enough to get people to read it but people are mostly looking for lots of action and a happy ending and are, thus, sometimes disappointed. I wrote it to be a very human story and although there is action, the action is not the point of the book. The point is that the character loses everything to conform to society's rules. I think the book could have been better--every book probably can be improved-but I struggled with having a lot of people truly understand it. A lot of people didn't get it. I always intended it to have a sequel which I will release one day in the future.
FQ: Although I know To Never Know was a novel based on the horror of 9.11, another fantastic book by the way, were any of the others based on true events?
DUFFY: Thank you. To Never Know is one of my best reviewed books to date. While Stockboy and its sequel were "inspired" by true events, Social Work was very much based on true events. The scene where the main character, Marc, is ridiculed on a television show closely parallels the time one of my friends was mocked on the internet especially regarding him not driving. Though he lived in New York City where driving is not essential, a girl really made him look bad online. Social Work also includes a little of my experiences when I was in therapy in my 20's and the social worker in that book is modeled closely after a real social worker I had worked with. One Love also has semi-autobiographical aspects to it although it is more fictional than Social Work which is very much based on real things that happened to both me and a friend of mine who has since passed away. I wrote Social Work for people to know that where there is life, there is hope, however cliched that may sound. Heavenly is based on my relationship with my Catholic religion and has some true elements woven throughout it such as when the character goes to the young people's group that the church in the book conducts.
FQ: Along those same lines, how do your ideas come about? Such as, are they formed because of an event; do you research something you’re particularly interested in and then set a story within or around it; are you a person who outlines the chapters before-hand, or are there more ideas that come ‘out of the blue’ and you sit down and just start writing?
Author Thomas Duffy
DUFFY: I get ideas all the time. The process of creation happens during the actual writing of the book, not before which I guess is pretty obvious. I start with a very general outline then take it from there. As I am putting together the books, I will jot notes down while I am out and about and then flesh them out more when I actually sit down and write. As for the events that inspire the topics I write about, they come about based on what I find interesting. Plots that will appeal to me will probably find readers and even though all my books haven't been huge hits, they all have found some readers who could relate to the material and that is very important to me. Heavenly came about because of my relationship with my religion.
FQ: Now, John’s passion for films in this book seems to be very close to your own interests. Can you tell readers about your background and love of the silver screen, as well as the actors you’ve interviewed?
DUFFY: I love movies and am currently a film critic and news writer for in my spare time after years of simply posting reviews on social media websites. I previously wrote for UniverCity which was a paper given out at college campuses such as NYU during the time I attended college. It is no longer in circulation.
I interviewed stars during my college years for that paper and also met actors/directors at the Village Seven movie theater in the East Village in New York City where I worked while in college. I served Quentin Tarantino and Ben Stiller snacks there. At the State movie theater in Times Square (it's not there anymore!), I had an interesting experience where I ran in to Brad Pitt in the bathroom at the premiere of the move The Waterboy. I didn't speak to him but I nodded to acknowledge my respect for his work. He had Meet Joe Black coming out that month. I actually spoke to Ben Stiller and Quentin Tarantino as a fan. They didn't know I also wrote film critiques.
Matthew Modine is an actor I met at the Loews Village Seven who I interviewed for UniverCity as well. He acknowledged me more at the movie theater when I told him I interviewed him a few months back before meeting him at the theater. Modine was with his kid seeing Lethal Weapon 4 if memory serves.
I also interviewed John and Joan Cusack, Minnie Driver, Richard Dreyfuss, Jenna Elfman, and Mark Waters, the director best known for his remake of Freaky Friday. Claire Danes I talked to at a press junket for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet where I asked her about her chemistry with Leonardo DiCaprio and lastly, I also interviewed Elizabeth Berkley from the television show Saved By The Bell and the film Showgirls for UniverCity.
I grew up on movies because of my long gone dad's love for them and that passion now is found in the work I am currently doing and the things I am seeking to achieve with my future career goals. I've met other stars and directors but I could be here forever if I named them all. Definitely read my recent movie reviews on, though!
FQ: If someone asked what the best movie ever made was, would that be an impossible or easy question for you to answer? And, if you have one, what exactly would you say is the best?
Author Thomas Duffy

DUFFY: I just saw Nine Days which is a dramatic film which blew me away. It's fresh in my memory so I love it but every year I have a favorite film. As for my all-time favorite movies, I think The Muse is high on my list because of the fact that the film revolves around the life of a writer who is getting beat up by life while trying to write a hit screenplay. Albert Brooks is a genius. If I had one movie and one movie only to name, it would be Good Will Hunting. At the end of the film Matt Damon's character must choose between a highly paid job and being with the girl he loves. He chooses to "go see about a girl"and I just love that. It's also the incomparable Robin Williams' finest hour and co-stars the wonderful Minnie Driver who I interviewed so yeah, if I had one, it would be Good Will Hunting. It also won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar so is a writer's movie.
FQ: Is part of your writing journey seeing your own titles on the big screen one day? If you had to choose one to ‘show off’ first, which would you love readers to watch and who do you believe should star in it?
DUFFY: So funny you should ask that. I would love to see Zac Efron play the supporting character of Joe, Jr. in The Separation. I wrote that character with him in mind. I would think, though, that if I had to start with only one film being made based on one of my books, though, I would loved to see that film be Social Work with Hollywood heartthrob Timothee Chalamet playing Marc and Lily James of the film Yesterday playing the therapist, Lauren. They would be so great for the roles!
FQ: Are you going to do standalones at all times, or have you ever thought of doing a series at one point? In addition, is there a genre you wish to tackle in the future?
DUFFY: I want to write a sequel to The Separation and another sequel, Stockboy Wedding, soon. I love standalone books, however. I have two up my sleeve right now that I am developing. One is a comedy and the other is a thriller. I would never restrict myself to just one genre.
FQ: Can you give readers a sneak peek into the next book?
DUFFY: Well, I have been working on a movie book that is called 100 Movies I Love which includes reviews of my 100 favorite films. It's my own personal tribute to former film critic Roger Ebert's movie companions.
As for the two fiction titles I am developing, one is a comedy that revolves around a guy finding a winning lottery ticket on the ground that is worth $500,000 but in trying to cash it in, he is distracted by his job (which he could probably just quit once he claims his prize) and the people who he has told about the winning ticket. There's also the fact that the ticket wasn't even his to begin with! The reason the old person who had the ticket threw it away was because he didn't scratch the back. Some scratch-off tickets have a game on the back that sometimes, but rarely, people overlook. It would be a fun book but when it will come out is a mystery. I'd love to get a publisher for that one and the thriller I'm working on but if I can't, I'll self-publish them.
Thank you for the interview and I hope to get back to working on my writing the next couple months and get these projects out some day soon!

Friday, August 20, 2021

#BookReview - Heavenly by Thomas Duffy

By: Thomas Duffy
Published by: Independent
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
ISBN: 979-8718984675
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 20, 2021
In author Thomas Duffy's ninth work of fiction, Heavenly, I was intrigued by its unique storyline, incredible characters, and the elements of love and faith that are focused upon throughout. John Robinson is our main character here. You immediately feel for him because John is a middle-aged man who seems to live in a world of depression. The only thing that brings him any kind of enjoyment is the world of movies. Fittingly, he works in a movie theater and is able to view the films and all the happy endings that Hollywood is so good at. Far too lonely at forty-three, John’s existence in New York City is difficult; he’s never able to find love, and he remains distant from his family because their relationship is fractured. So John simply watches the days go by with no hope or ultimate life goal in mind. A sad ending to a sad life, John meets his fate when he is killed on the platform of the Times Square train station, shot by a thief who is overcome by drugs this it? Not at all. In a strange twist, John gets face-to-face with his “officer” in Heaven who goes by the name of Andrea, and begs for another chance. After all, no one should die with this many regrets, and John wants the option to be able to make better decisions in order to have a better life and mend the rifts he’s left behind. When Andrea takes his case to the “Big Guy,” John is granted a second shot at things and is sent back to Earth – reborn as an infant named Peter.
As readers now follow Peter, we see his trek through life and the unfortunate familiarities his journey has with John’s original one. He cannot find love, happiness still alludes him, and there is no stability whatsoever. He also has one extra hideous thing that comes in the form of vivid and disturbing dreams that make absolutely no sense to Peter. As things move forward down a somber path, Peter meets up with a woman named Teresa and, in the blink of an eye, his black-and-white world turns into one of color. All Peter wants is to have a happy future with this woman he now desperately loves, but there are things in Teresa’s world that causes him concern, and instead of listening, he ends up suffering even more because of his judgements. So, is there a way where Peter will make the right choices in the end, or will he follow John’s first journey and stay on the path of loneliness and despair?
The author once again creates characters you both want to slap and root for at the same time. You see mistakes, you see bad decisions, and you want nothing more than to jump in front of Peter and give him a map that will lead him to a “good” place. The relationships that are explored, the emotions that are offered ten-fold, even the spiritual connections are written in a clear, concise, and beautiful way that makes you want to take that leap of faith and believe there is such a thing as a second chance.
Peter and John may be the same character, in a way, but they have completely unique personalities. When it comes to Teresa, she is the character who reminds the rest of us not to judge a book by its’ cover, which is something we all tend to do on a daily basis. And when it comes to Andrea and the “Big Guy,” they’re the ones who allow the heart to feel sparks of faith and hope that we all could possibly meet up with them one day and have absolutely no regrets, allowing us to read our ‘Life Review’ with a smile on our faces. This is another Duffy novel that I will read more than once.
Quill says: Life is short; too short, in most cases. This ‘5-star’ plot makes you rethink how hard you should work in order to live that life to the absolute fullest.
To learn more about Heavenly, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Celestial Persuasion

Celestial Persuasion
By: Mirta Ines Trupp
Publication Date: June 2021
ISBN: 979-8701397673
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: August 20, 2021
An intelligent young woman will grow in strength and understanding at a time and in places where women’s equality was little recognized, in this emotive novel by Mirta Ines Trupp.
We meet Abigail Isaacs in 1811, suffering the tragic loss of her father. She writes about the event to her brother Jonathan who is working at sea as a ship’s officer and unofficial physician. Little does she know that her brother’s life is in peril; then she gets word of his passing from Captain Wentworth, who, having spent some time with Jonathan, feels that he is “part of the family.” Wentworth also knows Abigail as a brilliant young woman and a self-educated, highly motivated astronomer. Abigail is now, it seems, bereft of all close family, having been left with an inadequate income.
At the encouragement of Wentworth and others, Abigail decides to sail to Argentina, where there may be another means of support awaiting, established by her father and brother. Abigail is Jewish but has been sheltered; as she enters the wide world, she will encounter those who are virulently against her faith and heritage. She will also meet Lt. Raphael Gabay, who is attracted to her, even though much of their relationship seems riddled with conflict. They agree, however, on the need to help the people of Buenos Aires in their fight for freedom. And Gabay may have something to tell her that will change Abigail’s life and alter her opinion of the bold lieutenant.
Astute readers will quickly realize that Trupp has paired her story with that of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, since Captain Wentworth, a key character in this work, also had a role in Austen’s novel. There can be no doubt that Trupp has engaged in serious research to construct this lively, literate tale. The elements include: the language and manners of English aristocracy in colonial times; rough life on shipboard; revolution in South America; Jewish cohesion and customs; the mystique and metaphor of the heavens; and the seemingly unlimited manner in which women in all levels and climes were assigned an inferior role to menfolk. All play their part in what is not only Trupp’s stirring tribute to Austen’s aspirations as an author and a feisty female, but also, at its heart, a deftly developed romance between two equally matched people caught up in a whirlwind of longing, loss, and the possibility of enduring love.
Quill says: In Celestial Persuasion, Mirta Ines Trupp has brought the past to life in her story-telling, her wide knowledge of history, and her genuine wish to connect with an earlier, similarly gifted woman and wordsmith.
For more information on Celestial Persuasion, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - The House of Ashes

The House of Ashes
By: Stuart Neville
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: September2021
ISBN: 978-1616957414
Reviewed by: Dianne Woodman
Review Date: August 20, 2021
The House of Ashes is a chilling story of physical and psychological maltreatment. The novel is comprised of dual timelines set in the present and about sixty years in the past. The present timeline focuses on Sara Keane and her fledgling association with Mary Jackson. The past timeline tells the story of Mary’s childhood.
Sara and her controlling husband, Damien, recently moved to Northern Ireland. They live in a house that is undergoing renovations after being gutted by a fire. The building is more than a century old. Mary, who is the former owner, shows up claiming Sara and her husband are trespassers. This is the motive for drawing Sara into a desire to discover what secrets the old house might be hiding. Will Sara uncover any mysteries that involve the house and concurrent odd happenings in her life?
The author then takes readers back sixty-plus years to when male family members are holding Mary, an adolescent, and abducted women in captivity. The circumstances in which they are living are horrifying and terrifying. Each one of the victims shares their own experience of the inhumane treatment they are being subjected to by captors who have imposed on them demeaning and subservient roles. There does not appear to be any feasible way to escape. Are the prisoners destined to spend the rest of their lives in captivity or will a miracle come to pass?
Stuart Neville has written a disquieting novel that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go. Readers get to see both the dark side and the positive side of human behavior, and the desperate measures taken by people in an unimaginable plight. Each of the characters, whether they are evil-doers or innocent victims, portray realistic personality traits. Neville superbly captures how atrocities committed against innocent victims can affect emotional and physical health. Even though a great deal of the book is about the fallout from abusive relationships, it also shows the strength of the human spirit and the benefits of optimism and friendship in the face of adversity.
In this page-turning novel, Neville skillfully braids two time periods for maximum suspense. The story is told from multiple perspectives with each chapter titled with the name of the viewpoint character. Readers get a glimpse into the personal history of different characters and gain an understanding of the motivation behind their behavior. Neville incorporates colloquial language that accurately fits in with the Northern Ireland setting. The story includes aggressive and violent behavior that is described in graphic detail and a smattering of mild profanity. The House of Ashes is scary good, but not for the faint of heart.
Quill says: The House of Ashes is an agonizing and suspenseful psychological thriller that sheds light on heartless behavior and the perseverance of the victims of those behaviors.

#BookReview - Sanctuary (The Dark Says Series Book Two)

Sanctuary (The Dark Days Series Book Two)

By: Christopher Cole
Published by: Kingston Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 9, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64533-260-2
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 18, 2021
I absolutely fell in love with this series when I read the first book, Outbreak. For those who have not had the luck, knowledge of the product, or the ability to hunt down a thriller, Book One was set in 2019. Sonny Daniels was introduced during this horrific time where the undead walked the planet and the goal for all humans was to somehow survive. Sonny is put through the proverbial wringer in this first in the Dark Days series in order to protect both himself and the people he loves. After living through the first year of this nightmare in upstate New York, Sonny and his parents’ home base is attacked, leading to Sonny and his friends (Ashley and Carrie) being sent to Fort Denver, Colorado, where they will have military protection...a plan that doesn’t pan out.
Now (thankfully, for fans of Book One), we are back with Sonny in Book Two as he continues to do his absolute best to protect those he cares for from the undead. Working hard and determined to find some sort of sanctuary in the badlands, readers grip this book in their hands as they see Sonny make some harsh decisions in order to save his friends. Eventually, they do make it to a militarized city that goes by the name of Fort Gold Rush; this is a place that calls out to those who want to survive by offering them protection from the zombies that roam outside the Fort’s walls. However, the locals living there see Sonny and his crew as outsiders, and are not all that much nicer than the bad guys are to the newcomers.
The leaders of the Fort believe that it is just a temporary sanctuary. They know the only way it will survive the predators that are amassing and getting stronger and more dangerous by the day, is to train a new generation of defenders. Sonny, Ashley, and Carrie seem to be among the perfect candidates to become the fighters who are needed, but in order to get this job done, they will end up having to break apart to complete their difficult training to become soldiers in competing units for the city.
As time passes, the teens soon realize that zombies are just the first layer of things they need to survive; everything from bandits that practice cannibalism to horrible weather to the bad side of Mother Nature that includes both deadly animals and killer plants, are things that could also bring about their ultimate demise.
One stranger that Sonny meets during his time out in the woods goes by the name of Grim. A cool but odd anti-hero, Grim decides to train Sonny his own way and ends up being a huge influence on Sonny’s life. Much like Yoda was to Luke, it is this particular relationship that ultimately will serve as the biggest help to Sonny when this amazing plot comes to a huge climax.
Nothing is left out of this ‘coming of age tale’ set against a post-apocalyptic background. Readers also watch Ashley and Carrie and their paths, as well as meet up with a slew of new characters who bring their own backstories and demeanors to enhance the plot. Although violence is certainly in this book, I believe that the crowd to enjoy this series should not be regulated to just YA readers. Adults, as well as younger readers who like that sci-fi, out-of-this-world, world would absolutely love to get their hands on these stories, too. The characters are believable and quite memorable, especially when it comes to the addition of Grim. Plus, the pace is fast and engaging, and you are able to dive in and enjoy each and every scene because of the creativity this particular author owns.
The one downside to this book is...there will be a wait for Book Three. So the only thing I can think of to do is go back and enjoy Book One again and then...try to think of something else to keep me busy until Sonny and his friends return.
Quill Says: Book Two of The Dark Days Series follows its predecessor with awesome action, new characters, and an unforgettable style that makes Dark Days a “5-Star” series!
For more information on Sanctuary (The Dark Days Series Book Two), please visit the author's website at:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

#BookReview - Labyrinth by Eenam Vang

By: Eenam Vang
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: July 2021
ISBN: 978-1637528372
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: August 17, 2021
Unrequited love, regret, and emotional pain are a few themes that center on the concept of death in Eenam Vang’s poetically dystopian debut, Labyrinth.
In every life, there is human trauma, which comes in different forms but consistently focuses on one thing: one’s defilement. Voicing one’s pain in poetic form is as old as Shakespeare. Yet, some relate to poetical works; others don’t unless they have “lived through it,” so to speak. Poetry and prose often mix present-day eras with relatable topics such as life, death, and love. Nonetheless, the overall experiment of transforming pain into pen and paper has and continues to have the power to create a healing balm for both author and reader. That said, upcoming poet, Eenam Vang, keeps true to that formula by taking her trauma and utilizing it as an expression of her inner turmoil—a hope to lift others out of their emotional muck and mire. Labyrinth does come with a warning: “The following contains emotions. If proceeding, I dare you to be vulnerable with me.”
Vang’s unique writing style is not bound to tradition. There are few instances of tercets, nonets, and monostich, for example. Vang appears to relish in several-lined, free-verse stanzas, non-concrete poems, and proses, primarily but not exclusively set to first-person point of view (POV). While also dabbling in the other POVs, Vang delves into the concept of death, the result of a downward spiral that comes with low self-esteem and alcohol and drug addictions, to name a few. Her descriptions are visceral, and death appears more symbolic than concrete, like forewarnings instead of finality. Dystopian throughout, Labyrinth is a tightly woven collection that offers hope since it can be viewed as stages in one’s introspective journey. Vang’s one-hundred-plus works could easily be divided into three categories: self-deprecation, self-awareness, and enlightenment, according to this reviewer.
In “Befriending Fiends,” Vang succinctly captures the essence of introspection:
I cannot afford to let my seldom spoken
Demons scare anyone else away.
It should only haunt me.
A great example of self-awareness which is then spoken to another, can be found in “Asudem” (Medusa spelled backwards):
She hibernates on false glorification.
Ships to her throne
Comes farewells to clones.
She is wicked, magnificent, and graceful.
Curse her heart,
I warn you.
Listen to the venom speaking from her slaves;
Indeed, you should protect yourself,
But you should know,
You’ll still end up in your grave.
Breaking free, Vang writes in “Solace & Her Witnesses,”
A battle cry broke through the essence of these long-overdue critiques. We fought through old mazes that lead back to the very beginning of its entrance...
“We are all guilty, charged of a crime, no matter how big or small it is; innocent does not run in our blood. We play life, gambling expectations from movies and false alarmed desires...Please, always be human. These words are for you to keep for as long as you breathe,” Vang writes to her readers—words of truth and encouragement.
Quill says: For those who love dystopian genres, Labyrinth provides fresh insight into the world of death.