Friday, December 31, 2021

#BookReview - Dying to Live by Barbara Macpherson Reyelts

Dying to Live
By: Barbara Macpherson Reyelts
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 2021
ISBN: 978-1639881598
Reviewed by: Dianne Woodman
Review Date: December 30, 2021
Dying to Live is a fascinating story from debut author Barbara Macpherson Reyelts, featuring Esther Windom, whose soul has been reincarnated.
Esther is deeply perplexed when she wakes up as a newborn baby instead of a senior citizen whose last known memory is connected to an assisted living facility. All her memories from her past life are intact even though she is now physically an infant named Esme Montgomery. As a renowned scientist in her past life, Esme’s intelligence surpasses that of her chronological age. Esme’s interactions with her parents are not like a normal baby, making for a challenging home environment. Due to Esme’s intellectual abilities, she becomes a student at a year-round school for gifted individuals at the age of four. The students at the school have extraordinary abilities where they learn to develop them in a positive and supportive environment.
The pupils at the institute continually advance in their capabilities. They are given real-world experiences with professional organizations that want to utilize their gifts in specially selected and crucial situations. However, any help given to organizations by the pupils is kept secret to protect them from anyone taking advantage of their unique talents and skills. Esme is responsible for ensuring the pupils receive appropriate treatment while engaged in activities outside the school environment. She also participates in rescue operations when necessary. These responsibilities do not take away from research projects meaningful to her or interfere with her building emotional bonds with others.
The characters created by Barbara Macpherson Reyelts in Dying to Live are a diverse group from different cultural backgrounds. They all have unusual gifts to be shared at opportune times. The students do not shy away from the responsibility of their talents. Although the story revolves around Esme, each character contributes to the storyline in pivotal ways. And while the characters have special abilities, they all come across as real people. Readers get to see how their powers affect their everyday lives and how people reap benefits from a group of individuals with exceptional talents.
The author has written an impactful story about prodigious individuals filled with a passion for using their unusual abilities in meaningful ways to benefit the population. Readers see how young people’s skills and interpersonal relationships develop as they grow older and deal with unexpected and challenging circumstances. This story is a beautiful illustration of how gifted individuals fit into society, both as students and adults, and how they help make lasting contributions and receive acknowledgment of their invaluable input.
Quill says: Anyone interested in reincarnation and individuals with phenomenal abilities will find this an intriguing read.
For more information on Dying to Live, please visit the author's Facebook page at:

#BookReview - Convalesce by Enne Zale


By: Enne Zale
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 2021
ISBN: 978-1639881796
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: December 29, 2021
A poet looks back on a failed attempt at love and recounts the many ways that it has affected her, even as she tries to forget and move on, in this stirring collection by Enne Zale.
In a brief introductory free verse piece, Zale avers that “my poetry has no chronological order.” Thus, the reader may understand that her thoughts are randomly spaced, before, during, and after a blighted love affair. There is a sense of confession here, injecting a tinge of abuse as she speaks of “a bubble-wrapped girl, who was unboxed too early.”
Against her better judgment, she recalls, she chased after a shadow, a shadow that made her feel “more radiant.” At one point, dealing with her depression, she urges herself to “Get up,” but then retreats again into the comfort of staying down, so she won’t have to try again. She wisely observes that if someone leaves you once, “They’re sure to walk away again,” and notes the paradox that:
“Learning to trust
Is finding warmth in a flame
And hoping you don’t get burned.”
Recollections of the happy times are peppered through the sad ones, as Zale thinks, “If it’s you, I’d do it all again.” Once, on a page illustrated by a swinging bell, she even poses this seemingly optimistic outlook: “Why reminisce on bad times, when good memories ring louder?”
Zale’s main intent seems to be to give voice to darker discouragements we have all shared at times, no matter what the root cause. She has become “skeptical of beautiful things,” and even on a “normal day of simplicity” her mind wanders back to the way that her one-time lover made her fearful. She boldly announces, “Just because you KISSED me, doesn’t mean you OWN me.” She wonders sometimes if the one who betrayed her ever has such feelings. She considers taking pills that “numb the mind.” She meets someone new, but still thinks bitterly of her abandonment. Importantly, she wants her “mommy and daddy to never know…” arousing that suspicion of youthful maltreatment by an older person in the memories she so carefully, intelligently shares.
Enne Zale is a pen name, to disguise a young woman who is pursuing a college degree while serving in the United States Marine Corps. Her gift of poetic expressions - crafted mostly in free verse with some deft internal rhyme scattered throughout - will doubtless evolve and increase to serve her well in future times. The fans she gathers do not need to know her identity until she is ready to disclose it; they will be satisfied to appreciate her empathic words of love lost and lessons learned.
Quill says: Enne Zale’s Convalesce is a wide-ranging, memory-tinged aggregation of poems providing solace, sympathy and even some mild amusement for anyone who has ever walked in her shoes, and will doubtless make them wish for more of her outpourings.
For more information on Convalesce, please visit the author's Instagram page at:

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

#BookReview - Sunflowers Beneath the Snow

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow

By: Teri M. Brown
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 2021
ISBN: 978-1639881420
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 27, 2021
Teri Brown welcomes her audience to a bittersweet story that highlights the myriad of challenges three generations of Ukrainian women of substance face in her debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow.
Ivanna’s beautiful life is torn to shreds the morning she opens her door to uniformed officers. It would seem her beloved Lyaksandro has betrayed her and the comforts she was accustomed to—shelter from the storm, food, and memories of her beloved husband, are all shattered within seconds. Ivanna and her adoring daughter Yevtsye must now brave the endless battle of survival in Soviet Ukraine. What Ivanna may never learn is the truth behind Lyaksandro’s betrayal.
In 1973 Soviet Ukraine, what had happened to Lyaksandro Rosomakha that saw him go from ‘...a university employee, a son, a father, and a husband–to a man facing a decision at the end of a gun? What had pulled him into a life littered with secret meetings, men with no names, and information passing the hours between darkness and dawn?’ Simply put, Lyaksandro was a Ukrainian spy, and he was at the crossroads of having to choose life or death. Life, on the one hand would mean from the moment of his decision forward, he would have to leave his wife and child and never see them again. The latter option was if he decided not to leave his family for a ‘greater plan,’ which meant that his handlers would execute him on the spot. However, had Lyaksandro known his final destiny, perhaps he would have welcomed death as the alternative...
Meanwhile, Ivanna is reeling from the information her husband has died at the hands of a jealous lover and she grieves not only over his betrayal, but the fact he is dead. In true warrior fashion, Ivanna must pick up the pieces of her life and make a way for her and her young daughter Yevtsye. After the multitude of sacrifices Ivanna makes over the years, imagine her pain when she believes the only child she has done so much for seems to betray her as well.
I was intrigued by this body of work by Ms. Brown. She has done a superb job of treating her readership to multiple layers and complexities of life and survival in a communist/socialist country. It is also quite relevant in today’s global climate of unrest among certain nations. Ms. Brown spends an admirable amount of time and patience in the development of her characters which gives her audience a sense of walking alongside her as she tells the story. I was especially intrigued by Yevtsye’s (Ivanna’s daughter) character because Ms. Brown intentionally gave her a nuance of being the ‘rebel’ to speak out against the communist world she lived in. While Ms. Brown also strategically leads the reader to what her audience hopes the prevailing conclusion will be, the journey to get there is not predictable. I enjoyed this book and look forward to what Ms. Brown has in store for her audience in her next book.
Quill says: Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is a testament to the will and perseverance of women who embrace challenge and refuse to give up.
For more information on Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, December 27, 2021

#BookReview - An Impossible Life

An Impossible Life: The Inspiring True story of a Woman's
Struggle from Within (The Impossible Series)
By: Rachael Siddoway and Sonja Wasden
Publisher: The Gap Press
Publication Date: February 2019
ISBN #: 978-1-7336194-00
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 23, 2021
Mother (Sonja Wasden) and daughter (Rachael Siddoway) collaborate and frame a compelling journey to expose a multitude of layers and the ripple effect mental illness has not only on the victim to the illness, but the impacts on those subjected to it. Both women deserve recognition of the raw reality that played out across the pages of An Impossible Life, Book 1 in this 4-book series.
The mental illness that is the essence of this story is bipolar disorder. I was vaguely familiar with this mental illness but had no idea the ramifications not only to the person living with it, but the myriad of land mines those loved ones closest to the affected had to navigate most days, weeks, and months in their respective lives. Rachael Siddoway is the daughter (and first child) of Sonja and Mitch Wasden. Sonja was (eventually) clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The book opens with author notes from both Rachael and Sonja. Rachael begins by explaining to her audience that what they are about to read ‘...Between the covers of this book is my mother’s life—quite literally in your hands...’ Rachael insists in her ‘Author’s Note’ that she authored this book not to capture the endless moments of chaos her mother was adamant to sequester. Rather, she wrote it to bring to light the multitude of moments her mother was insistent to bury.
On the other hand, Sonja’s Author’s Note was more succinct in that she ‘...conveyed to the best of my recollection...’ those moments, weeks, months, and years of turmoil she subjected her family to. Her motivation to team with her daughter and bring her bipolar disorder to light was, ‘…my hope is that my story will give people who do not suffer from mental health disorders a new perspective, helping them build stronger relationships with those who may suffer...’
Rachael Siddoway has a unique ability to paint a clear, black and white image of not only the complex layers of the eventual diagnosis of her mother’s bipolar disorder, but what it means to be on the receiving end of what this disorder delivered to her daily. The roller coaster of events and years of non (and mis) diagnosis of her mother’s illness inspired Ms. Siddoway to share heart-wrenching events from her early childhood, through adolescence and into young adulthood. There is a sublime but quite anchored voice throughout this account that affirms the unrequited love Ms. Siddoway has for her mother throughout the years of imbalance. On the other side, Ms. Wasden also does a phenomenal job of portraying the hellish world she navigated inside her own head with her bipolar disorder. Both women anchored their respective voices early in the read and deserve big love and props for pulling back the curtain to share the terror, reality, hope, faith, and love of family in this story. Bravo to you both. I look forward to reading all the books in this series.
Quill says: An Impossible Life is a testament to the heights and measures we humans will go to keep our ‘laundry’ clean to unsuspecting outsiders.
For more information on An Impossible Life: The Inspiring True story of a Woman's Struggle from Within (The Impossible Series), please visit the authors' website at:

#AuthorInterview with Rick Quinn, author of Jazzy and Kettle

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Tripti Kandari is talking with Rick Quinn, author of Jazzy and Kettle.
FQ: Jazzy and Kettle is your first book. What made you want to write a children’s book as your first published work?
QUINN: Two things: First, I wanted to have a project I could complete in a reasonable amount of time. I wanted to finish a work and not get frustrated and turn it into a multi-year effort without any result. Secondly, I couldn’t help but notice, in walks trough libraries and bookstores, that the vast majority of children’s books were about animals, not kids. Some of them were about dogs, who were friendly and had human powers, and others, like There’s a Giraffe in My Soup, were about phantasmagoric creatures that wouldn’t be interesting beyond a reading or two. I wanted to write a story that children could see themselves being a part of.
FQ: On your website you talk about what you were seeing in children’s books that you didn’t like. Would you tell our readers a bit about that and how/why you wanted to use a different approach for your book?
QUINN: I think many authors of children’s books underestimate their audience. As I mentioned above, kids are kids and, I believe, like to read about kids doing things. Fantasy stories about animals with human or supernatural powers can be fun but when that accounts for a tremendous percentage of all children’s books, I think it becomes tedious. There are also many children’s books that are preachy and attempt to impart social lessons that aren’t needed. Things like ‘Don’t hate the purple cat because he’s different’! Kids don’t need that. Adults do. Kids belong to a strong union: Kids! If another kid shows up in the classroom or the playground, the first reaction is usually ‘Yaayyy! Another Kid’! My book has lessons in it that are learned as Jazzy and Kettle go on their adventure together. Nobody is telling what to do or not to do.
FQ: Jazzy and Kettle are two very unique, and interesting, children. Where did they come from? Are they based on children you’ve met, kids in your neighborhood, or did they pop up from your imagination?
QUINN: I don’t think they really are unique. I think it seems that way because there are only two of them and, they are unsupervised, and have the freedom to let their imaginations and feet take them where they want to go, stimulated by what their eyes see!
I created them from memories of my own four children (all fully functioning adults now) and some of my own childhood memories. Two of my kids would have dashed right up that tree, and the other two would have been standing on the ground watching what happens. All four of them would have climbed up as the helper though.
FQ: I love how positive Jazzy and Kettle are – both the story as a whole, as well as the two friends. Was it important for you to keep the story upbeat throughout?
QUINN: Yes!!! I wanted every aspect of the story to be ‘Positive’! There is so much negativity in the world, and so many people criticizing, and, especially, kids getting measured, judged, and graded by adults as if there was timeline for success. That is why, when the parents finally show up in the story, you don’t see their faces. They just ask the kids what they’ve been up to. Every kid’s fantasy!
FQ: Jazzy and Kettle, at first appearance, seem quite different, but we quickly learn that the innocence of childhood doesn’t see differences. We meet two children who just want to have fun. How do we get adults to do this - to see past the differences and judge each person on their character?
QUINN: ‘We’ don’t. Our differences as a civilization disappear through familiarity. From my perspective, there is more blending of cultures among society now than I have seen before. Sadly, there are more people trying to highlight differences, to provoke anger and unrest for personal gain. I think the current generation of children will be wiser than the current generation of adults. I think they will look back on the social infighting today, as many of us look back in disbelief to the era of Jim Crow or Internment Camps.
FQ: My favorite part of the book is when Jazzy says, “I can see over the trees. I think I can see tomorrow.” It’s something an innocent child would definitely say. Did you come up with that or did you hear a child say it once?
Author Rick Quinn

QUINN: I, myself, as a little kid, remember looking out my parents living room window, being able to see over the young trees in our new neighborhood of 1950s Long Island. As the sun started to set, and I could see shopping center lights off in the distance, I just imagined ‘tomorrow’ must be out there beyond them, and it was on the way, and if I could get up high enough I would be able to see it! When Jazzy climbs that tree, that’s as high above the earth as she has ever been and tomorrow shows up in the same place as today, so it must be on the way!
FQ: Like any good story, this tale has some excitement when Jazzy climbs a tree and the branch breaks. The way the two new friends work together is a great lesson for young readers. What would you like your readers to come away with after reading about your book?
QUINN: Lessons that (hopefully) will be a recurring theme: Don’t be afraid to investigate something new; but always be a little careful. And, you are capable of a lot more than you think, so never give up!
FQ: You mention on your website that it took several attempts to find the right illustrator. What sort of problems were you running into with other potential illustrators? Did they just not “get” the project or were there other issues? How did you find Sefira Lightstone?
QUINN: Initially, I reached out to a couple of artist friends of mine because they were both very talented and I thought it would be fun to have a friend as a partner. I learned however, that there is a big difference between a painter and an Illustrator. Sefira was recommended to me by one of those friends who passed. She had a social media page and I was able to look at her work there. One picture, in particular, was of a mother holding her young child. The lines and expressions were beautifully soft, and the colors primary. I got an introduction and it turned into a great combination. Sefira nailed the Jazzy character quickly and I had a couple of tweaks added to Kettle. Sefira also added the squirrel to the story and (hopefully) will be a continuing character as we go along.
FQ: I see that you have plans for more books. Would you share with our readers a little of what you plan? Will there be more children’s books? Will we see Jazzy and Kettle again? Will you try different genres?
QUINN: I have more Jazzy and Kettle stories in my head. If I do any more children’s books, they will be more Jazzy and Kettle episodes. I don’t consider myself a Children’s Author, just a writer. I write because it’s enjoyable. This book was a lot of work. I had a model in mind that put the text of the book on the left page and the illustrations on the right. That was to make it easy for a pre-reader to look at the picture and look at the words on the left side, then begin to associate the sounds the letters make by the activity in the illustration. Even the word crAck is broken to create a sound/visual effect.
Despite the frustrations of trying to introduce a new children’s Book into the pandemic wave of closed bookstores, libraries, and schools, while also being a self-published author, I am very happy with it. It is, in fact, what I had imagined from the beginning. I still believe it will have its day. They are two great kids!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

#BookReview - Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief

Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief
By: Meg Nocero
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: September 2021
ISBN: 978-1647421755
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: December 21, 2021
Butterfly Awakens is a profoundly moving memoir of transformation through grief and finding one’s purpose, written by seasoned author and former attorney, Meg Nocero. This book is set up in three main segments, which combine as a memorial tribute to her mother and anyone who is currently struggling to find their way through the darkened tunnels of life and adversity.
Readers begin in the first section learning about the author’s wonderful mother, Mary Jo (who has been a solid rock of support for Meg her entire life) and her mother's breast cancer diagnosis, subsequent journey through treatment, and her death, that unfortunately sends the author into a tailspin of not only deep sadness, but fear and anxiety as well. Without Mary Jo's regular loving support that Meg relied upon since childhood, she finds herself at loose ends, questioning her life's purpose. To make matters worse, Meg is having difficulties at work that has her feeling underappreciated, stuck, and completely stressed.
As time progresses into the second part of this memoir, Meg's grief and anxiety culminate in both physical and mental issues, including nightmares and unbearable tinnitus. When her job stress worsens, her pleas for less work hours fall on deaf ears, and her family seems unable to completely understand what she's going through, Meg briefly finds hiding in her bedroom closet a temporary relief of her pain. Realizing that she desperately needs help, she reaches out to an old friend who suggests she seek the assistance of Chinese medicine, and together with talk therapy, journaling, and finally being granted some time off from work, Meg begins to piece together a plan that will get her through the oppressive darkness that has her trapped inside.
In the third and final segment, partially titled "Live, Laugh, Love - Beginning the Journey to Bliss!" Nocero begins with honoring the seventh anniversary of her mother's death two days before embarking on a week-long pilgrimage in Spain called the Camino De Santiago, which she hopes will be the final journey to discover her inner happiness.
Meg Nocero's Butterfly Awakens is without a doubt a candid, vivid and beautifully written story that has the potential to shower its wisdom upon anyone who reads it, regardless of their past or current situations. While memoirs are profoundly personal experiences that are usually presented with great intentions (making them sometimes a little awkward to review), there are a few segments in the story that seem a bit lengthy and may be interpreted as boastful, such as the author meeting a few celebrities during the course of her transformation. Also, Ms. Nocero had a lot of resources at her disposal that assisted in her difficult times that may not be as easily accessible for the average person going through a similar situation, and therefore some of her experiences may not be that relatable. That doesn't, however, change the fact that Butterfly Awakens is for anyone, regardless of their situation, who is searching for inspiration, encouragement, and hope on their own path of transformation.
Quill says: In Meg Nocero's memoir, Butterfly Awakens, she personally shows us all that we can pick ourselves up from the worst possible grief and inner turmoil only to awaken our inner butterfly...we all have it inside us.
To learn more about Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War

Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War (Heroines of WWII, Book 4)
By: Mary Davis
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
Publication Date: February 2022
ISBN: 978-1636091563
Reviewed by: Tripti Kandari
Review Date: December 20, 2021
Mary Davis relays the tale of WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War to ensure that the unsung story of these WWII warriors is not brushed over.
Peggy Witherspoon, a lately widowed WASP pilot continues to perform her duty of relieving men pilots of overseas tasks for their combat in WWII, a battle that the WASPs are deemed unfit for. Her fate collides with Major Berg, the WASP new reporting officer, and affection develops between them that both doubts, try to avoid, and eventually succumbs to. Peggy is skeptical about God’s grace on her in the wake of mishaps in her life. However, He appears to have big plans for the bold and compassionate Peggy. Is it, however, going to drive her to follow in the footsteps of her husband George, or her father and brother, all martyrs of war?
Peggy, a mother of two girls, is driven (like other WASP) to establish her skills as a pilot on par with men. Three WASP, Peggy, Jolene, and Brownie, with a propensity to courage equal to none, have a rare opportunity to represent all of WASP competence in tasks not perceived as up to their abilities. Given the scenario of army and government embroiled in war politics, the three WASP are willing to rescue soldiers after obtaining intelligence that the soldiers are held captive in Cuba, despite the fact that Cuba is their ally...What will their task (not to mention the clandestine mission) entail in terms of risk or departure from the WASPS' traditional role? Will Mama Bird's (Peggy’s call name) selflessness keep her safe this time?
The WASP in this Christian fiction novel exude a laudable sense of boldness and strength throughout. The romantic thriller keeps developing events that put the two main protagonists in close contact with God for support, despite their periodic lack of faith in God's plan and blessings. The subtle but constant tenderness between Peggy and Berg remains a pleasant element to the fiction. Mary David has explored the misconceptions surrounding the role of female pilots, highlighting people's persistent endeavor to blend in with their surroundings, neglecting adversities in order to establish their worth, which is so readily taken for granted at any given opportunity.
Quill says: Covering a period during WWII, Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War beautifully and explicitly demonstrates a sense of environmental loss, zeal to fight for our own, and a longing for affection.

#AuthorInterview with Scott Petty, author of The Fourth Wall

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Scott Petty, author of The Fourth Wall.
FQ: You have quite a large resume when it comes to the arts. From being an actor in features and short films to TV shows like Days of Our Lives, etc. Can you tell me what stands out for you when it comes to writing? Is there a specific draw for you when it comes to putting pen to paper or, more likely, fingers to keyboard?
PETTY: Hmmm...someone has taken a deep dive into my acting background, mentioning what was just a featured extra gig on Days. But those were the days when I started writing, when I was living in Los Angeles. I wasn’t writing fiction. I was journaling. It was a way to capture the essence of a period of time. That’s the draw. And you had it right the first time: pen and paper. The Fourth Wall started out handwritten.
FQ: Where exactly do your very creative ideas emanate from?
PETTY: They build upon each other. Writing The Fourth Wall was a years-long journey. I didn’t just come up with one idea and then run with it. I sometimes get ideas from notes I wrote many years ago, or conversations I may have had or a piece of music, and then I trust my own writing process to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It is an intuitive process.
FQ: Are you a planner when it comes to plot, such as, does an idea percolate over a period of time where you outline chapters, etc.? Or, are you one of those who has ideas that hit them from out of the blue and you just begin?
PETTY: More the latter, because I’ve developed a great sense of trust with my writing process over the years. It is instinctive work. Brainstorming is crucial. It opens all the initial doors. Get it all out on paper first, then decide what’s useful later. That’s when I’ll start building a structure. You have to be humble to the work, though, and have the courage to quit a path.
FQ: Do you have any personal mentors who you feel create works or offer words that help you in your pursuit to write fiction?
PETTY: Not in particular. When I need inspiration, I turn to other artforms. I enjoy visiting museums. During my main writing years for The Fourth Wall, 2014-2018, I spent many Saturdays at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. I would write there, in the Hirsch Library, after viewing the collection. Movies also stimulate my creativity. During those years I watched hundreds of movies, mostly at one cinema in Houston. It was on Dunvale Road, but the theater closed in 2020. I drove by recently and the theater was torn down. It was an empty field. It was a sad moment, because much of The Fourth Wall took shape there.
FQ: Is there a genre you admire that you have yet to write in, but are looking forward to perhaps tackling one day?
PETTY: I would like to write a horror novel, something gothic or modern-gothic. I’ve written some macabre short stories, but nothing that is truly spine tingling. I read all genres, and each has its reigning superstars. If I attempt to do something completely different in the future, my approach will be the same: write a story that only I can write in a way that only I can write it.
FQ: Tell readers, if you will, a bit about this incredible story, The Fourth Wall. Not the synopsis, of course, but how the characters came about.
PETTY: You may be surprised to learn that the character closest to a real person is Maddox, not I. There was a man in Kuwait, I don’t remember his name, and he spoke to me as Maddox speaks to Jett. I wanted The Fourth Wall to be a serendipitous hero kind of tale, where the hero submits to the unknown and is transformed by the unexpected. That’s Jett’s character. I recall a Russian woman cutting my hair in Afghanistan, and she was the inspiration for Yvonne. In order to keep things interesting and dramatic, I came up with different types of people from different countries. A variety of characters and settings made The Fourth Wall an entertaining project to write. A project must keep me entertained or else I’ll abandon it.
FQ: Your lead, Captain Thomas Jett, is certainly affected by the magical/spiritual realm, such as tarot cards. Is this something that intrigues you personally?
PETTY: I’ve always been interested in the macabre and tales of the unknown. Our earliest works of literature feature characters encountering supernatural beings and monsters, epic adventures that were not too scary, which was my approach with The Fourth Wall. I present the horrors of modern warfare but in an unusual way, as an adventure that includes the reader. Jett’s Fourth Wall becomes a portal into these ways I am still discovering.
FQ: You’re sitting down at a table to discuss writing. Across from you for this talk sits...who? And why would they be your number one choice when it comes to learning more about their work and/or the literary field?
Author Scott Petty

PETTY: Andre Aciman. First, he is among the living and could actually sit at a table with me and discuss writing. Second, he is a professor of literary theory, so I’m sure I would learn a great deal from him about the field. His work is both lyrical and powerful. You can tell he works hard at it. This business takes more perspiration than inspiration. I would ask him about his writing process—not inspiration, because that is deeply personal—but questions about workflow and how he manages his time.
FQ: Please let us know what is next in your writing career. Will there be a follow-up to The Fourth Wall? Or perhaps something completely different.
PETTY: Yes and yes. The Fourth Wall is the first in a five- or six-book story arc. Only the first two or possibly three books will take place in Afghanistan. I envision some massive story twists, and my imagination cannot remain within my own construct of war in the year 2012. I have an expansive outlook. The rest of the world will become my playground. On the other hand, I have written numerous other novels that have nothing to do with war, and I look forward to revisiting those old friends. But for now, they will have to take a back seat to the next chapter of The Fourth Wall.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

#BookReview - What Feeds the Heart

What Feeds the Heart

By: Daryl Glinn-Tanner
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 8, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-6398-8099-7
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: December 17, 2021
This is a tough one to review, readers. This story is as captivating as it is frightening. It’s as amazing as it is horrifying. And it’s as memorable as it is, unfortunately...memorable.
The author states that this read encompasses a number of things. I can see the memoir elements, some fiction, some “magic,” and some almost lyrical poetry within the pages. And even though the subject matter is something I have no desire to remember, I know I will. In fact, I found myself giving this author a standing ovation when the story came to a close. Not only for her fantastic and well-developed writing, but also for the fact that if this author lived through even one moment of this nightmare, she has my utmost respect.
We first meet Jean-Marie (aka: JM) Stark when she’s a grown woman, getting a demanding phone call from her brother, Adam, telling her to go to a local hospital because their mother has been taken there. She’s in serious condition, and he is simply tired of dealing with the situation. When JM arrives and sees her mother lying there—weakened from a life of drugs, suicide attempts, and a parade of somewhat hideous males that all came together to give her a stroke—JM’s mind begins to wander back to her own beginnings...opening a door to the reader that involves a real-life definition of what the famous and infamous 60’s “Summer of Love” was all about for this child.
The reader proceeds to attend grade school with Jean, where the only person there who’s even pleasant towards her is the school nurse. First, however, we watch this innocent child wake up in a house that smelled like a drug party and that included naked people leftover on the couch, vomit on the floors, and her own mother, Marie, who’s once again with child. Jean must traverse a carpet that is also serving as a bed for a man she calls ScaryJerry – and for a very good reason – in order to get to school in time just so her completely empty stomach can get a box of raisins the teacher gives out to students. Jean lives this life with her brother, Adam, as well as her sister, Krystal. They each have had their own occurrences with monsters their mother has chosen over time, as well as various fostering episodes where one went to live one place, and two went to another. Jean speaks of her biological father, as well as others from her past, and readers get a view of all of them. One, a blind man named Michael, tries to be as kind as possible to Jean. Even though he’s suffering through his own drug issues and detox, her mother feels there’s a "magical quality" about Michael and shows him the motherly affection that she can’t seem to find for her own children.
One escape that Jean has throughout the story is an invisible friend by the name of Willothin. This is the girl Jean can see; she believes completely in her friend, who whispers words of hope in her ears during the darkest of days, and offers a shoulder for Jean to lean on during the terrible times she lives through.
As the author moves the story flawlessly, from past to present, her words flow and keep the reader’s attention by showing JM in the hospital reading a copy of her own manuscript to her comatose mother one minute, before moving on to the next scene that shows Jean growing up in this nightmarish time period which ended up being personified by the peace sign, yet was one of the most painful and tortured times in America.
The author deserves rewards in this life, as well as awards for this book about a childhood that brought about as much wonder and imagination in the form of Willothin, as it did sadness and hardship for the teller of the tale. I also state here that the author is a far better person than I am. Although I thought myself to be a good person, once I read this I found out that I did not own the strength she has; thankfully, I never had to go through an inkling of what she did, but I know that I would never be able to find appreciation or offer forgiveness to any of the demons this woman wrote about.
For others who have experienced the pain that this author has, I hope they find her faith, reflections, and road to liberation to be a huge help. I believe that the story is one that will support them and allow them to find the happiness they so deserve in this life. For me, as a reader who has been honored to see excellence between the covers, I give this author “5-Stars” and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Quill says: This is an outstanding book that offers a stunning core of faith and beauty set against a backdrop of total darkness.
For more information on What Feeds the Heart, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share

Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share
By: Sharlene Novak
Illustrated by: Sarah Gledhill
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 2021
ISBN: 978-1639881208
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: December 16, 2021
An adorable little dog learns about sharing and the importance of friends in debut author Sharlene Novak’s sweet story, Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share.
Lucy is an energetic and smart West Highland White Terrier who leads a very active life. Every day she goes to the Happy Tails Dog Camp where she has lots of friends. But, she tells the reader, when she first went to the dog camp, she was quite nervous. Her humans said it would be fun, but Lucy wasn’t sure. When she arrived at camp, the little white-haired dog saw big dogs, little dogs, all sorts of dogs, all running around and having fun.
It didn’t take long for Lucy to make several friends at camp, and when the humans went to a shed and brought out a bunch of doggie toys, well...let’s just say the fun level went up several notches. Lucy’s attention was drawn to an orange ball but before she could get it, another dog, Baxter, pounced, and grabbed the ball. Instantly he was off to play with the ball that Lucy wanted. Lucy found another toy but it just wasn’t the same – she wanted the orange ball.
On the way home from camp, Lucy came up with a plan to get the orange ball the next day. Her plan worked and she was one happy dog when she was able to grab the orange ball and run off with it to play. But she soon discovered that it wasn’t much fun to play with a ball by yourself. While she hid behind a bush to keep Baxter from finding her ball, she watched other dogs playing fetch. They seemed to be having a lot more fun than Lucy. Should Lucy bring her ball out from behind the bushes and try sharing it with other dogs? What should she do?
While the story of Lucy is primarily about learning to share, it also tackles the nerves that many youngsters have on their first day of camp, or, along the same lines, on the first day of school. Lucy admits that she was nervous when her humans first took her to camp but she assures the reader that it all turned out well and she made lots of friends. Then it’s on to that beautiful orange ball. Like a child fixated on a new toy, Lucy really wants the ball, and wants it even more when another dog takes it away. Sound familiar? But she soon learns that wanting and having aren’t the same thing, especially if you can’t share it with others. The author does a nice job of showing youngsters, without lecturing, about the joys of sharing versus the loneliness of keeping your toys (or other things) to yourself. Readers will come away from reading Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share eager to get their own group games going. Lucy learns to share and love it and so will readers of her book. I hope we see Lucy in another adventure soon – she’s much too cute not to have many more escapades.
Quill says: Happy Tails Camper Stories: Lucy Learns to Share is a charming and engaging story that teaches children the importance of sharing and the joy that can come from playing with others.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

#BookReview - Solitario: The Lonely One

Solitario: The Lonely One
By: John Manuel
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 2021
ISBN: 978-1639881376
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: December 15, 2021
From veteran author John Manuel comes the sequel to his previous novel The Lower Canyons entitled Solitario: The Lonely One. This novel follows the adventures of river guide Robbie Ducharme as he embarks on a journey down a never-before-run river. The adventures that Robbie and his clients live through while on this river trip turn out to be truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Our protagonist, Robbie, is an experienced river guide living near the Rio Grande in Texas. As our story opens, Robbie is leading his last trip of the year and looking forward to spending the off-season with his girlfriend, Carmen. However, shortly after arriving home, Robbie is unpleasantly surprised to learn that an acquaintance of his, Daniel Gallagher, has filed assault and battery charges against him for an altercation that happened two years prior.
After being exonerated of these charges by the judge, Robbie is ready to go back to river guiding for the next season. Before heading out for the upcoming season, Robbie hires an assistant for his trips, Lara, who is the daughter of a close friend with whom he had a romantic relationship with in the past. They head out onto the river with their clients, not knowing that the trip they are about to embark on will be one that they will never forget.
Author John Manuel has achieved another success with Solitario: The Lonely One. Manuel’s writing is so descriptive that the reader will feel as though he is paddling down the river along with the characters. With his eloquent writing, Manuel paints a beautiful picture of the landscape that is the background of the story. The supporting details are well-developed, and the story moves along at a timely pace.
The story itself is the perfect blend of adventure, interpersonal relationships, and excitement. With his characters, Manuel crafts well-developed, intricate relationships, both romantic and platonic. The character of Daniel is one that the reader loves to hate throughout the bulk of the story. Amazingly, as the story progresses, Manuel converts this character’s actions so much so that by the conclusion, the reader finds himself developing a level of affinity for him. Achieving this successfully is a rare gift that not every writer is fortunate enough to possess.
Nature lovers will surely appreciate this book, as Manuel takes time to meticulously illuminate the background in which the story takes place. A distinct appreciation for history and the sanctity of ancient artifacts is also present. Any reader with an interest in the past will greatly value that aspect of the story.
Quill says: Manuel has succeeded in producing another thought-provoking, thrilling, and inspiring tale of life on the river through Robbie Ducharme’s eyes. Solitario: The Lonely One presents the ideal balance of character relationships and dangerous explorations on the Rio Grande, intermixed with a few surprises along the way.
For more information on Solitario: The Lonely One, please visit the author's website at: