Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Big Announcement Tomorrow!

Feathered Quill Book Awards - And the Winners Are...

We've been very busy behind the scenes...tabulating the score sheets for award-nominated books. The final placings are in, the award page is ready to go live our website, and we'll be announcing the winners tomorrow, Feb. 1, 2023. Entries were up again this year - we've had a steady increase in nominations every year. Poetry and the Informational categories were two of the categories that saw the biggest increase in nominations for 2023. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

#BookReview of The Miracle of You

The Miracle of You

By: Cleere Cherry Reaves
Illustrated by: Alejandra Barajas
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: March 2023
ISBN: 978-1400242108
Reviewed by: Ephantus M.
Review Date: January 20, 2023
A simple, universally appealing story told in rhyme, and whose language and pacing will grab a child’s imagination quickly, await readers of The Miracle of You.
The Miracle of You is a short lyrical and pictorial children’s book by Cleere Cherry Reaves, an author who delights in abetting high regard and esteem in young minds, through highly imaginative compositions and narratives. The storyline captures a parent’s unconditional love for their children, and the incomparable position children hold in their parent’s heart and mind. The author's message is straightforward, particularly when she offers a warm comparison between different creations such as the ocean's life forms and the stunning galaxy, to parental love.
The enchanting yarn aims to make young minds aware of the selfless nature of genuine parental love such as, it has no strings attached and isn’t based on what they are or what they do. Children are visual readers and this book will easily captivate their attention due to its colorful pictures and fine wording which offer an element of excitement that keeps one hooked from page to page, as well as adding layers of meaning to the story. Reaves's creative imagination does not just leave readers entertained but challenged, fascinated, and reflecting on their uniqueness and value. This makes this storybook go beyond an ordinary children's book to one that implores repeated reading with diligence and attention. Though Reaves's wonderful publication is dedicated to young children between the age of four to eight years, the book's gorgeous and unforgettable illustrations that have been masterfully drawn to aid understanding will have the book stand the test of time and still elicit a response from adults, for years to come.
Quill says: A good children’s book goes beyond an entertaining story and enters a realm of timelessness and treasure. The Miracle of You is an excellent all-time read that can be read repeatedly by virtue of its rhyming language, tone, and tempo which keep readers connected and engaged.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Meet Author Annie Seyler

Meet Author Annie Seyler in her new author biography page. Learn about her new book, The Wisdom of Winter, and her thoughts about writing:


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner


Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner

Feathered Quill Book Awards Reviewer's Choice Winner - winners selected by our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they reviewed for Feathered Quill Book Reviews in 2022.  Congratulations to all the winners! #bookawards #featheredquillbookreviews #featheredquillbookawards #reviewerschoice 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

#BookReview of The Illustrated Courtroom: 50+ Years of Court Art

The Illustrated Courtroom: 50+ Years of Court Art

By: Elizabeth Williams and Sue Russell
Publisher: Redwood Publishing
Publication Date: June 3, 2022
ISBN: 978-1956470154
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: January 26, 2023

Co-authors and artists Elizabeth Williams and Sue Russell have gathered artwork from within a most unusual setting – the American courtroom and present said artwork in their book, The Illustrated Courtroom: 50+ Years of Court Art.

Williams, Russell and court artists Bill Robles, Howard Brodie, Aggie Kenny and Richard Tomlinson, have worked within intense, highly structured boundaries, accomplishing what for the most part the camera is not invited to do. Their hand-drawn works in black and white or vibrant, realistic color, tell more than mere words can convey. The opening chapter cites some of the most “Famous Faces” seen in the restricted world of official judgment: Mick Jagger, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and a keenly envisaged young Donald Trump, testifying in a case involving the National Football League. Williams’ portrait of the wide-eyed future president gives support for her observation of him as someone who “didn’t mind being drawn.” The sensational trial of Charles Manson, enhanced by Robles’ on-the-scene works, include the rather charming faces of the young women whom Manson – posing as a modern messiah - inveigled into savagely murdering seven people including an unborn child.

Sometimes courtroom drawings must be made quickly, as when Manson leapt up to attack the presiding judge, or when the aforementioned young women appeared in court one day with shaved heads in imitation of their murderous guru. Emotions, or lack of them, are captured by the skilled sketching: the faces of the accused, such as that of Jack Ruby, who murdered the murderer of President Kennedy, waiting tremulously for the jury’s verdict; the visages of family of those killed or tormented, fraught with feeling; and the professional stance of attorneys and judges presenting and weighing the mountains of evidence presented in each stirring scenario.

Entwining the artists’ sketches with some of the most famous cases seen in press and television in the past fifty years, Williams and Russell reveal a unique realm of jurisprudence that most readers will not have known about heretofore. They explore the courtroom as a “stage” where practiced professionals and alleged criminals obey, or sometimes skew, legal stipulations, hoping for findings in their favor. On site, in haste, under great pressure but with notable care and expertise, the illustrators cited have devised lasting impressions of defendants, jurors, family and prosecutors as they speak and act in a context in which the result can be a life-or-death matter. This is a large book offering highly readable, engagingly visual material for readers across a wide spectrum of interests.

Quill says: This dynamic, brilliantly illustrated treatment by artists/authors Williams and Russell satisfies the eye and opens the mind, offering new perspectives on courtroom drama and legal complexities both behind the scenes and within the headlines.

For more information on The Illustrated Courtroom: 50+ Years of Court Art, please visit the book's website at: www.illustratedcourtroom.com

Feathered Quill Reviewer's Choice Awards

The first of our 2023 award winners have been notified. The Reviewer's Choice Awards is the brainchild of one of our reviewers. Each reviewer selects their favorite reviewed book of the previous year. We'll post the winners tomorrow. 

And next Wed, Feb. 1, we'll announce the winners of our Feathered Quill Book Awards.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

#MeettheAuthor Josie Peterson

Meet Author Josie Peterson in her new author bio page. Learn about her new book, Godsmack, Part 1: The Mother Earth, and what inspires her to write. 

#AuthorInterview with Randall Moore, author of A World Without Men

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Dianne Woodman is talking with Randall Moore, author of A World Without Men.
FQ: On your website, you talk about how writing each novel is “an experience.” Could you expand on that? Does the writing take over your life? Do you get drawn into your characters’ lives?
MOORE: I become immersed in each story I write. I’m writing in longer form, and maintain a sense of the story’s arc and what could and must happen during the process. Many of my works have been written as I go, thinking about each prior day’s work before continuing, while pre-plotting more recent works. In that sense the stories and characters become quite real in my mind to me, driven by the inner logic that reveals itself while telling the tale. The first time a major character died in one of my books, I wept inconsolably. I weep again every time I read it. Even in my vampire vigilante series there are moments that continue to affect me emotionally. Driving to the climax of a story, keeping the stakes high, with the fate of the protagonists in doubt makes each story an experience I live through as if it really happened.
FQ: You also mention that each novel you write is one of your children. Given the importance of your novels, do you have trouble “letting go” when it’s time to write the words, “the end”?
MOORE: I think of one of the impossible questions parents are sometimes asked: which of your children is your favorite? I reflect on my father’s evaluation of each of his children’s plusses and minuses, my mother’s too. Each child has their own unique qualities that set them apart, making the world unimaginable without them. I feel the same about my novels. While my favorite is the one I’m currently working on, I reflect on what I’ve written before and double down on doing the best in making the current one as comparable as possible, better even. I mentioned inner logic earlier, and that’s what drives me, even if the story has been pre-plotted. Once I’m fleshing out a pre-plotted novel, I’ll change the plot to match the inner logic encountered. Sometimes new solutions present themselves while delving deeper into the story. Each story has a beginning, middle, and end. It’s like a symphony. You can tell when the music is reaching a climax, and then the end. I know when the story is coming to a conclusion. I write until it’s complete. And then it’s on to the next one.
FQ: Turning to A World Without Men – what spurred you to write a story about a single-gender society?
MOORE: I’d been thinking a lot about the language I’d been hearing in the broader society for quite a while. Ultimately influenced by #MeToo, concepts like toxic masculinity, rape culture, the declining rates of men in higher education, the rise of dominant feminism, what some have deemed the war on boys, and how appallingly some women have been treated. In evaluating Western society I believe women have never had it as good as they do here, now, but many don’t seem to recognize it. There are far worse places for a woman to live in this world than in the West.
In my opinion, despite the obvious differences between men and women, a human being is not merely male or female. The human being is a duality, consisting of both the feminine and the masculine. Without each, our species is incomplete. Even if reproduction without sex becomes possible, man (both male and female) will not be fully human without both the feminine and the masculine present.
I envisioned a world run by competent, capable, talented experts—all women—replacing men in their traditional roles. As a man who was raised by women and worked with many women over the years, I know firsthand how capable they are, and in some arenas how they outperform their male counterparts. While there are jobs that demand physical dominance best performed by men, such as military and law enforcement, removing men from society wouldn’t eliminate the necessity for those roles. They would need to be filled. And in a World Without Men, they are filled by women.
FQ: You listed plausible reasons why men were no longer members of the society. How did you come up with those reasons? Were they based (loosely) on any current or past civilizations?
MOORE: I used an amalgamation of ancient and more recent history to spark my imagination. Coming up with the specifics was an interesting and stimulating process. The misdeeds of men have been well documented, as have women’s. Wickedness plagues both the feminine and the masculine. Wars of conquest in antiquity resulted in the enslavement or slaughter of the vanquished, and the wholesale rape of the conquered women, some women committing suicide rather than accepting new masters. If one does a cursory examination of the people of Belgrade, one of the most conquered cities in Europe, one finds evidence of the mixing of races from Europe and Asia, and this mixing is undoubtedly the result of rape. I also thought of some more recent cults where when they ran afoul of the authorities, the women and children in their thrall died en masse rather than their leaders surrender their power. Sometimes men commit atrocities coming to the aid of women. I think of ancient Etruscan civilization. There was an incident where drunken Etruscan men raped a Roman girl. This so enraged the nascent Romans (who at the time were rather prudish in contrast to their later reputation) that they rose up and rioted against the Etruscans, wiping out nearly every vestige of their civilization. While Etruscan ruins exist, primarily in Tuscany, as well as examples of their writing, we cannot translate their language. One of the things we know about the Etruscans is that they engaged in drunken, gluttonous orgies accompanied by gladiatorial contests to the death, things the Romans ironically later adopted. One need only think of restraining orders issued against estranged husbands who prove the necessity of the orders by murdering their wives and families.
FQ: I liked the idea of women of wealth and prestige secretly owning men. The hypocrisy struck me as something found in today’s society where politicians (and others) might say one thing but then get caught going against their own rules, laws, etc. Was this a reaction you were hoping for?
MOORE: Yes. I think that corruption is something that has always, and will always exist in human society. The examples are myriad where people in power exempt themselves from rules they’ve imposed on others. While history is replete with people trying to perfect humanity, I believe humanity is imperfect and forever corruptible.
FQ: An interesting addition to the story was the leap forward in technology which you described in detail. Are you familiar with the science behind the technology, or did you conduct research?
MOORE: I had a flash of inspiration about making solar power far more efficient than it is today. One of its weaknesses is its meager ability to store energy. A more efficient battery is essential. I had to come up with a way to store this new abundant power I envisaged, and doubled down on research before coming up with the concept of a living organism storing energy that could be depleted over time, and how that might be possible. Once I learned that mercury is an excellent conductor of electricity, I had what I needed: a plausible technological innovation that could be exploited by someone smarter than me: Eleanora Duncan.
FQ: The political reactions of the characters, whether in favor of integrating men into the society or leaving things status quo, is quite believable. How hard was it to get that right and do you see parallels to these in today’s society – with the political polarization?
MOORE: In some respects, that was one of the easier aspects of the story to write. Political conflict has always plagued human society. I see today’s polarization as part of a continuum. There is always someone who thinks they should be in charge rather than another. CEOs deposed by rising executives. Old Generals replaced by up-and-coming officers. One sales rep promoted to rule them all. As a writer, I’m deeply informed by what I see going on around me, and what I’ve learned from history. Mirroring it seems to come quite naturally. One of the things I really enjoyed inserting into the story was the news media, which I’ve been doing for a while in my stories. It’s human nature for people to believe things that are the polar opposite of what others believe. It’s also human nature for one faction to attempt to impose its will over the other. In that, this is more of an eternal explanation that’s applicable to our times as well as times past and times to come.
FQ: The vehicles in the story were built for both ground and airborne transportation. Was there any particular reason you chose vehicles with the added ability to fly?
MOORE: How could I not? Since it’s the future, and flight has always been a dream of mine, I chose for their vehicles to have that capacity. I really enjoyed envisioning the flying car pursuit and its conclusion. In some ways that really ignited the story beyond what it already was. I’ve written several novels with flying vehicles in them, with chases and battles. They play an important and exciting part in those as well.
FQ: Most authors seem to stick to one or two genres but your books are quite varied in topics/genres. Do you have a favorite genre to write? Or do you enjoy the challenge of “mixing it up”?
MOORE: While I’ve disciplined myself to stick to a single genre, with a few, I really enjoy mixing it up. In some respects, each of my novels becomes filled with action and adventure before it ends. I even wrote a romance where a man travels to Guatemala to try to find out what happened to the woman he loves after she disappeared in the civil war that was raging in that country in the 1980s. Among my unpublished novels is a fantasy novel that turns out to be about a man with dementia who’s close to death. The bottom line for my works is that I strive foremost to entertain.
FQ: With your prolific catalog of books, I’m sure you’re working on another new title. Would you tell our readers what’s next?
MOORE: That’s hard to decide. A World Without Men is my sixteenth published novel. I’ve written thirty-four and counting, and have been looking for representation for a while. While I still hope to find an ally, I may have to resign myself to being my sole advocate. The question demands an answer and it may be a novel I completed in 2017, Boise Eclipse. It’s about a heist that takes place under the cover of a total eclipse of the sun masterminded by a former stripper who now owns the club that fueled her rise to power, and the men she uses to execute her plans. Other possible titles include: The Liberty County Vanishings (a detective noir with a macabre secret at its heart), The Secret of the Puzzle Box (a 30s historical noir peripherally about the construction of the Transcontinental Railway), and Into the Vortex (a sequel to my sci-fi novel The Masters of Time and Space). Whichever I decide to publish, I hope to find readers for it.
In closing, I want to say that I really appreciate your thoughtful questions and have enjoyed thinking about and answering them.

#AuthorInterview with Teri M. Brown, author of An Enemy Like Me

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Teri M. Brown, author of An Enemy Like Me.

FQ: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss An Enemy Like Me with you. Your prolific command of the English language and your adept ability with your word placement are enviable! You transcend epic periods of time in history dating back to the ’30s and in the next chapter, we are in 2016 with the character William (Jacob and Bonnie’s son); only to take a step back to wartime ’40s. How did you keep track of the back and forth among all your characters?

BROWN: There are two main timelines in An Enemy Like Me. We have William as a grown man looking back on his life and providing his memories and insights. Then we have Jacob and Bonnie with their young son William beginning before the war and moving through it. For me, the back and forth flowed easily because I often used William’s memory to jump the readers back in time. When I’m writing, I tend to jot down notes on a pad to remind me where the action stopped. I also have to sneak back and do a bit of rereading to be sure what I want to write next makes sense!

FQ: On Page 122, there is an incredibly profound passage portrayed through character Bonnie’s musing: "...War. It was such an ugly word. Small but powerful. These three letters pitted nation against nation, men against men. But from her vantage point, war did something far worse. It trapped men between the love of their country and the love of their family, their wives, and their children. How was a good man, a man with strong values, supposed to choose between the freedom of his country and the love of his family, in particular, when it appeared one couldn’t exist without the other..." This was incredibly powerful, and I re-read this particular passage a few times because it was so strong and insightful. Were you channeling your character when you wrote this?

Author Teri M. Brown

BROWN: I am of the belief that war is created by governments who want power, land, money, and resources. These governments then create enemies by focusing on the differences between people. They convince ordinary citizens that fighting is the only way to keep living the life they are living. But these citizens then have to choose to fight in a war that could do just that – completely change their life and the lives of those they love.

However, this is a complex topic. What if someone attacks your nation? Or tries to take away your freedoms? I firmly believe in having a strong military – my grandfather, father, and husband are all veterans, and I applaud their service to our nation.

So, that passage, for me, explains the angst I feel about war.

FQ: To expand on my previous question, how do current-day events influence your writing, and do you temper the similarities between the fiction you write and the reality of what plays out in real life?

BROWN: I have trouble believing all authors aren’t influenced, at least to some degree, by what is happening in real life. Although German Americans no longer feel the brunt of hatred because of their nationality, there are many marginalized groups that do. We have a world of “isms” and “phobics” that create an us vs them mentality. Although An Enemy Like Meportrays this as a by-product of Hitler, I hope that people will look inside themselves to see who they fear – and why.

FQ: If you had the power to change the course of time to circumvent imminent war, how would you do this?

BROWN: I don’t know how to circumvent imminent war. I wish I did. I do believe, however, that each of us has the power to eliminate fear and hatred toward others.

My husband and I rode across the United States on a tandem bicycle (3102 miles from the coast of Oregon to Washington, DC). While out on the road, we met hundreds of people from all walks of life – different colors, religions, nationalities, political affiliations, sexual orientations, socio-economic situations, and more. The amazing thing we learned was that we had something in common with every person we met. They rode bicycles or had children or vacationed at the beach or had been in the military or donated to Toys for Tots – and on and on. We would spend time standing in a gas station parking lot or along the side of the road chatting with people about our similarities. And guess what? Because we focused on our commonalities, the differences didn’t matter.

FQ: On the very next page (123), you reference Jeannette Rankin. The nuance between her and Bonnie’s character was spot on. "...Bonnie didn’t pay much attention to politics, but she had always admired Jeannette..." It’s interesting how you painted Bonnie as a woman of substance well ahead of the time she was living in. Is there a little of Bonnie that runs through your veins? Please elaborate.

BROWN: I hope so! Bonnie is patterned after my grandmother, a woman who was intelligent, funny, gutsy, and completely a lady. If I can manage to be half the lady my grandmother was, then I will be one lucky woman.

FQ: War truly is an ‘ugly word’ and as idealistic as this may sound, why can’t we all just get along? If someone asked you to write a one-liner impact statement that would solidify peace versus war, what would you write?

BROWN: I agree, so let’s all just get along! As for the one-liner, how about:

Look in the mirror – there you will find the enemy of your enemy.

FQ: I loved the relationship between the characters Jacob and Axel. Axel was such a foundational influence in Jacob’s life. Was his character fashioned after someone in your life? If so, how did he or she shape (or contribute) to your life?

BROWN: I have had several such people in my life at different points in time. When I was a child, my grandmother was a strong influence. She helped me see beauty in myself and others and gave me courage to be myself. In high school, I had a coach who helped me through the gangly years. He was able to point out my strengths when I was too busy finding my weaknesses. As an adult, I had an older friend who gave me the strength I needed in a bad season of my life. Today, that person is my husband. He is currently fighting a war against an aggressive form of brain cancer with grace, compassion, faith, and amazing strength. Axel is a combination of these four – and more.

FQ: Again, without too much of a spoiler, there is a nuance of bittersweet regret that plays out in William’s character toward the end of the book. The scenes you wrote about William’s reflections toward the relationship (or lack of) he had with his father were very much-so akin to a notion of: "...If I had it to do over, I would do it this way..." These moments struck a chord with me and if you had to share a moment in your life where you would do something differently, what would that be and why would you do it over?

BROWN: My second marriage was not a good one. My husband was emotionally abusive, but I stuck with it for 14 years because I didn’t want to a divorced-twice failure. Although I learned a lot during that experience, I regret what my children had to go through and I regret letting him take away my relationships with extended family – parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. For several years, I had almost no contact with those I loved. Even if I couldn’t change marrying this man, I would not let him take away my family like he did because you can never recapture lost time.

FQ: Thank you again for your time and the pleasure of chatting with you about your fantastic book. I can’t imagine this is it for you. If you’re working on your next book, are you able to share a sneak peek?

BROWN: I’m currently working on a book about Maggie, a 19th-century healer woman living in the mountains of North Carolina. It is another multi-generational, historical fiction novel that looks at what happens when traditions come up against modern ways, and whether it is necessary to throw the baby out with the bath water. My hope is that this novel – currently untitled – will come out in early 2024.

#BookReview - An Enemy Like Me by Teri M. Brown

An Enemy Like Me

By: Teri M. Brown
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: January 24, 2023
ISBN: 978-1639885459
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 21, 2022
Teri M. Brown’s latest novel, An Enemy Like Me, is a beautifully layered book that delves into the complexities of war and the affects it has on those who have an intense love of country, family, and one’s heritage.
Jacob Miller is a first-generation German American who grew up in New Berlin, Ohio, a small town where many German immigrants settled. It is the Great Depression and like many others, he has no choice but to endure the day-to-day perils of this iconic time in American history. Life is not easy, but Jacob maintains his faith that eventually he will have his happily ever after. When his friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, the war overseas weighs heavily on Jacob and he is faced with a life-changing choice to make. With the blatant animosity toward Germans, Jacob is determined to demonstrate his allegiance to America and enlists with the promise to his beloved wife Bonnie and their four-year-old son, William, that he will return.
Fast forward to the fall of 1938 - Bonnie reflects on her privilege as a child and "...if ever a child was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, it was Bonnie..." Her father Carl was a successful engineer and spent a fair amount of time in his early years designing products most Americans needed (or perhaps wanted). When the opportunity presented itself, Carl ventured out on his own and landed in the automobile industry in Detroit, Michigan where he designed new and coveted versions of the automobile. They lived in a strapping mansion near the water where their 65-foot yacht was moored. Unfortunately, the stock market was about to crash and its aftermath work take Bonnie’s privilege along with it. Forced to make drastic changes, Carl accepts a job with the Hoover Company in Canton, Ohio. When Bonnie’s father is presented with a new opportunity in Connecticut, Bonnie decides to remain in Canton. Little did Bonnie know her future would be with Jacob Miller, and their union would be the start of the next generation of Millers.
Ms. Brown is the quintessential baker when it comes to creating delicious layers of filling for great story content! The epic periods in history that transcend from beginning to end in this book make this an exceptionally captivating read. Ms. Brown is quite adept at weaving a believable tale among the nuances of the historic Great Depression and the war in Europe. Her characters have depth and the flow from one chapter to the next is seamless. She has a wonderful gift of setting scenes and providing each character with his/her well-deserved spotlight and while there is a fair amount of back and forth between one period of time to the next, it ties beautifully and effortlessly for the reader to follow the storyline with ease. It didn’t occur to me until I was reading this book that I had read a previous title by Ms. Brown (Sunflowers Beneath the Snow); a fantastic read as well. Well done, Ms. Brown! I look forward to your next book.
Quill Says: An Enemy Like Me is a tremendous read that showcases the indelible mark the many facets and effects war leaves on the human spirit.
For more information on An Enemy Like Me, please visit the author's website at: https://www.terimbrown.com/

Thursday, January 19, 2023

#AuthorInterview with Mickey Bridges, Author of It's About Time

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lily Andrews is talking with Mickey Bridges, author of It's About Time.

FQ: Your memoir, It’s About Time, is very open and honest and you don’t mince words when recalling various events. What made you decide to write your memoir, and was it a hard decision on what to keep in (or keep out) of the memoir?

BRIDGES: My book started as an independent study paper at the request of a Professor in Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1978. After I graduated, I would pull my paper out on occasion and reflect. Then I work on it a little more. Over time, my paper had grown immensely in volume, as it remained in my file cabinet. I remembered what the professor had intimated to me, “Your story is one in a million and should be shared with individuals who may be experiencing similar trials.” Because I was so embarrassed to share the story of my past with anyone, I excluded several scenes, because they were sensitive in nature.

FQ: What would you like readers to get out of reading your memoir? Do you hope to reach those who might be lost or falling into the same traps that you did as a young man? 

Author Mickey Bridges

BRIDGES: My sincere hope is that individuals who are heading down a similar path in life, be informed and educated by what God has brought me through and to use my life experience as an example of what not to do. I would like youth to realize that even though they may have made some wrong choices early in life, the game is not over and they still have a lot of time and opportunity to improve and to set their records straight. I would also like them to learn how to use their adversity and setbacks to fuel their goals, ambition and dreams.

FQ: How has writing this memoir impacted other areas of your life, such as family, relationships, and work environment? Have any of the people you wrote about in the book reached out to you/reacted to the book?

BRIDGES: Initially, my wife was reluctant about me sharing my life story with the world. She was embarrassed and didn’t want her family to know about my seedy past. The names of the characters have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Many of them have either passed away, or aged and are senile. Remember much as my story takes place in the early 70’s. Perhaps, some of the individuals I wrote about will reach out to me but as of yet, no one has responded with the exception of the character "Goldie" and she has encouraged me to release my memoir.

FQ: You've candidly spoken about your life experiences. Is there a particular event that primarily inspired you to be who you are today? 

BRIDGES: Yes, When I was in custody at Terre Haute Penitentiary in Indiana, my mother passed away. It was the most guilt wrenching and remorseful experience I’ve ever had to endure. It was brutal. I had failed her and would never have an opportunity to make it up to her. The warden granted me a three day unescorted furlough to bury her and to tend to her personal affairs. When I returned to the penitentiary, I knew it was time to grow up and become a man and responsible human being. No longer would I be able to hide behind my mother's apron strings and have her make excuses for my incorrigible behavior.

FQ: Writing a memoir is living twice, which is by turns painful and exciting. Are there periods in which you were discouraged or at least less enthusiastic about writing this memoir and especially when recalling traumatic experiences? 

BRIDGES: Yes, many of the experiences I’ve written about were traumatic and very difficult to write about and re-live. Each rewrite allowed for a cathartic event and release of the guilt, shame, and remorse that I was feeling. Over time, my feelings have diminished. The scene where I was trapped in the bathroom at my associate’s house in Gary, Indiana and the “Family” robbed and nearly beat me half to death. This was the hardest scene to re-live and write about. Each time I re-wrote this scene, it was a most frightening experience and it caused me considerable discomfort and occasional nightmares. I am truly grateful to be alive today to share my story with the world.

FQ: Can you tell us about how you kept yourself going in these instances and what worked for you?

BRIDGES: My professor at UCSB believed that my story would someday have a significant impact on at-risk youths and individuals dealing with obstacles and adversity. Every time I thought about stopping, I would somehow get motivation to continue writing. I was fueled by the belief that someone might someday actually benefit from reading or hearing my story.

FQ: As our country becomes more and more secular, it seems that more young people are “lost” and seeking meaning in their life. Do you think our country’s move to more secularism is a problem?

BRIDGES: Secular humanism is definitely a problem for our society today. Those in power are constantly pushing the envelope. Our norms and values have all been dramatically replaced by an attitude of “anything goes” and if it feels good then it's alright. Gender identity is causing a lot of confusion for parents with children in school.

FQ: Do you believe it is at least partially responsible for the problems we see in today’s world? 

BRIDGES: I believe that secularism has distorted our view of the world and has allowed all forms of evil and wickedness to take hold. Secularism has definitely created a world tormented with chaos and conflict.

FQ: In 1999 you founded the Eternal Youth Foundation. Would you tell our readers a little about the organization?

BRIDGES: (EYF) a not-for-profit incentive based educational enrichment program that works in cooperation with the Compton Unified School District. EYF has served at-risk and underserved students in the city of Compton for more than twenty years. EYF has received numerous awards and recognition for years of service to the community.

FQ: I love that you play the saxophone and use it in your ministry. How can music help reach young men (and women) who are lost and perhaps need some guidance to find their salvation?

BRIDGES: Music is the catalyst that connects all of us together. Music ministry is like applying a salve to an injury or wound. It soothes and helps to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with being out of the will of God. For a lost soul, music can help guide them back to Christ.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Power Of series of Books for Children

If you have children, check out "The Power of" series of books that deal with such important themes as empathy and gratitude.

#BookReview of Destined To Be: Sweet Romantic Suspense

Destined To Be: Sweet Romantic Suspense
By: Dione Grace
Publication Date: July 26, 2021
Reviewed By: Ephantus M.
Review Date: January 18, 2023
An intensely satisfying read that boasts a depth of romantic tension, characterized by the rich use of emotion and nerve, and whose ending has a jaunty and inspirational standard await readers of Destined To Be: Sweet Romantic Suspense.
The yarn begins by revealing Daisia, an intelligent, ethical, and interesting young woman who is working her first job at Printing Works and Design. This industrious company masses around five hundred employees but today's daily tasks have been paralyzed by a peeved gunman who is on a vengeful mission in the towering office. As the read advances, his actions are revealed to have been fueled by hints of mistreatment and ridicule by fellow employees and supervisors. Daisia can't stop praying and making countless promises to God that she comes out unscathed from this frightful situation.
As she huddles deeper and deeper in the photocopying room, the author reveals the main protagonist’s hidden feelings towards her employer, Blake. A deep liking and admiration sit deeply tacked in the inner chambers of her heart, with fear of crossing the professional line engulfing her. However, his fascinating personality and charming kindness steadily but surely intensifies her soul's longing that the two will become a thing someday. Her mind is quickly jolted back to the chaotic setting by piercing police sirens outside the building and the sudden appearance of her boss who tightly embraces her. The author introduces another lucky survivor who is similarly shaken by the day's twist of events. A series of dialogue ensues when suddenly Daisia is drawn to a familiar tone in his voice and the jiggling of keys in his pocket. One can feel the cold trickle of sweat running down her back in horror and confusion, as she wonders whether she was staring at the vicious shooter all along,
Grace's strikingly original short story is a suspenseful composition that intensely appeals to readers with its breathtaking action and eye-popping drama. The story is excellently told, and its lively and relatable characters drive forward the gripping story without lapsing into the improbable. The author's ingenuity is visible when she adds melodic tunes, Biblical quotations, and prayers in the protagonist's time of great distress, leaving readers inspired to trust in God always, even when faith is most vulnerable. It is a short story that aims to touch numerous lives and transform them into fearless go-getters and resilient achievers.
Quill says: Destined to Be: Sweet Romantic Suspense has a plot that is logical, credible, and realistic, detailing two characters’ emotional journeys, and whose sweet and charming affection doesn't disappoint. It is a satisfying publication that will have you holding your breath with pure adrenaline pumping in your veins due to its concrete substance and remarkable significance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

#BookReview - Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash

Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash

By: Hiwalani Perkins, Puniaikeao Perkins, Alapaki Perkins & Paki Perkins
Publisher: Perks Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: November 22, 2022
ISBN: 979-8-9869379-2-2
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: January 16, 2023

From a father and his three teenage children comes their debut children’s book entitled Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash. In this heartwarming story of gratitude, two sisters from Hawaii meet their cousin from California for the first time. During their visit, they experience an unexpected lesson on gratitude, compassion and kindness taught to them by their Pupu and Papa.

The story opens as AJ, the cousin from California, comes to Hawaii to visit the sisters Hiwa and Keao. They give each other hugs and exchange the gifts they brought for each other. Hiwa hugs AJ and tells him “Mahalo!” after opening her gift, to which AJ looks confused and withdraws from Hiwa’s hug. AJ asks his mother why Hiwa called him trash. The parents all laugh and explain that ‘mahalo’ does not mean trash; rather, it is a way to say ‘thank you.’ AJ thought it meant trash since the garbage cans in Waikiki are all labeled with the word ‘mahalo.’ After this silly misunderstanding, the parents drive the kids over to the grandparent’s house so they can spend the day with them.

As the children spend the day with their Pupu and Papa, the ‘mahalo’ question comes up again, and the cousins begin arguing about what it means. Pupu and Papa see this as an opportunity to tell their grandchildren a story to help them understand and solve this dilemma. They explain about the deeper meaning of ‘mahalo:’ how in Hawaiian it means admiration, praise, respect and appreciation. By the end of the day, all the children have a new understanding for the word and what it means to the Hawaiian people.

On the surface, Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is an adorable and fun children’s book. However, if you look deeper, there is a more significant message that the authors are trying to convey with their story. Young readers need to be taught about the importance of being grateful every day, no matter what their circumstances may be. This story teaches them just that. This story also shows how to effectively solve disagreements, as evidenced when Hiwa and AJ were arguing about the meaning of ‘mahalo.’ Although they were both frustrated and upset, they calmed down enough to listen to one another and eventually come to an understanding.

Young readers will love the bright, vibrant illustrations in this story. The authors also included some pronunciation tips for the Hawaiian language as well as definitions of Hawaiian words found in the story, which was a nice added bonus that readers and parents alike will appreciate. For a children’s book, this was a bit long at 54 pages, and could be wordy at times. Depending on the target age of the reader, some kids may not have the attention span for a children’s book of this length.

Quill says: Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is a delightful children’s story that conveys an important message for young readers of gratitude and showing respect for others.

For more information on Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash, please visit the book's website at: www.mahalobooks.com

Monday, January 16, 2023

#AuthorInterview with James P. Wollak, author of Distress & Determination

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with James P. Wollak, author of Distress & Determination: The Trials of Frederick Darcy, Young Gentleman.
FQ: It is obvious that Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice (an author and a book that I completely adore) have really shaped what you have written in this novel but where did this interest in her come from and was it difficult for you to pick up the pen (or in the world today, sit at the keyboard) and try to continue what she started so many years ago?
WOLLAK: It all started in college when I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I found the approximate time when Ms. Austen’s novel was published intriguing and thought it would be interesting to read more classic literature. I remember my roommate’s friend marveled at the stack of books I acquired (including Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair) – did I really have time to read something other than textbooks?
I’m glad I did and expanded my reading over the years from that beginning. I loved Pride and Prejudice from the start, and it’s my favorite novel of all time. I also love Persuasion and Emma. And the various thoughtful or hilarious completions of Sanditon, in either novel or film, have been delightful!
Over the years I enjoyed reading continuations, prequels, and retellings of her novels so much I thought it would be fun to try and write one myself. It was definitely challenging for me to use Ms. Austen’s characters and continue their stories. I wanted the story to be believable and interesting to the reader, but also appropriate to the period and its location. Obviously, a lot of research was needed, and thank goodness for my faithful readers who pointed out some factual and societal errors!
FQ: The book is very well-written and very proper in terms of the locations and language and family dynamics throughout the story. How hard was it to accomplish that being a native of San Francisco and not from England or having lived during that time period?
WOLLAK: It was difficult. After all, the novel takes place in a time and culture different and much removed from our own. Why should we care about these characters and what happens to them? But we do, and we want more. Even now with two novels published, I don’t consider myself to be an expert on Ms. Austen and her world. But as an author I want to be as faithful and accurate as I can be to her own works.
Even in my first novel (Insight & Suitability), it was hard not to use contemporary expressions. I tried very hard to edit them out, but in the end, I let a few remain. (For example, characters “shooing” someone else off, and Frederick’s fear his father “would kill him” for making a mistake that ruined his meeting with important gentlemen). I tried to make the text and dialogue sound appropriate for the time, but thought it acceptable to leave a few reminders that this story was written in the early 21st century. I also hope that may help make my story more timeless in its appeal, accessibility, and applicability to our current lives.
FQ: All of the characters are very interesting and well-written. Do you have a particular favorite, after Frederick of course, in the story? And I have to ask, who was your favorite character in Pride and Prejudice? I am wondering if the answer to both questions will be the same.
WOLLAK: After Frederick, my favorite character is either his brother Nick, or Tom the driver. After all, it’s a boy/young man’s story! As for the female characters, my favorites are Julia, Jane, and Anne. I picture Julia being played by a teenage Elizabeth Taylor (one of my favorite actresses, thinking of her performance in Little Women from the late 1940s). I haven’t cast Jane or Anne, but I savor their spunk and determination to become something other than what is expected of them.
My favorite characters in Pride and Prejudice are, of course, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy; I love the other characters so much that I can’t make another choice. My least favorite character was Mr. Collins – I couldn’t bear to write much dialogue for him in Insight & Suitability; the novel was already long enough without trying to emulate his long discourses!
So, after all that, it means my answers aren’t the same.
FQ: You took some major risks in the story, given the time period, such as an unwed mother and an attempted suicide. Did it worry you that it might be too much for the reader to accept?
WOLLAK: I took risks, but didn’t worry that it might be too much for the reader to digest. I think contemporary readers are equal to the challenge, and the characters needed to experience serious situations so that the story wasn’t just one big living happily ever after. I was more concerned that their experiences be believable and interesting enough to hold the reader’s interest and keep the story moving.
As an author, I had to try to make these situations believable enough that they had occurred, that they contributed to the story’s development, and were not just cheap “headline” spikes. Everything that occurs to everyone, especially Frederick, had to dovetail towards an ending, when absolutely every story line and specific point came to a complete resolution and a gentle, but firm end.
An unwed mother and attempted suicide are a lot to inject into the Austen/Regency world. Insight & Suitability came first, a comedy of manners, and my attempt to be faithful to all of Ms. Austen’s novels. Distress & Determination needed to move beyond that drawing room/ballroom world and give readers a window into other real-life situations that the characters could experience. I hope readers enjoy this journey!
FQ: While all of the characters are wonderful, I especially enjoyed the fact that both Frederick and Jane were so emotional and honest in their speaking to others and about themselves at times. I know that these types of emotional speeches made to family members were not the norm for people living in this time-period. Was it hard to write these scenes?
WOLLAK: It was very challenging to write them, but I wanted to bring the characters alive for the reader. I wanted to infuse the scenes with drama that was believable and appropriate, and make their experiences accessible and timeless. I tried imagining the characters speaking my dialogue, as if they were in a movie, and that made them become real to me so that I could write for them.
FQ: Are there any other authors, besides Ms. Austen, who had a large effect on you as you embarked on your writing career?
WOLLAK: I read only mystery novels for years; so, in terms of mystery fiction, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Ellery Queen are foremost among many excellent authors that influenced me to write. Elizabeth Daly, Ellis Peters, James Lee Burke, and Ruth Ware too. Long ago I wrote two mystery manuscripts I would like to revisit because they are so awful!
I also like horror fiction and the macabre, so H.P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, August Derleth, Shirley Jackson, and Stephen King are great influences.
I read some fiction that is not Jane Austen or ghost related, but I can’t name a favorite contemporary author because there are too many novels that I’ve read and enjoyed.
FQ: Is there another time period or author that you would like to try to work on or continue as you have done in this case?
WOLLAK: I’ve always been fascinated by the Roaring Twenties and the grim Thirties. Since I’m a third-generation San Franciscan, I’m also interested in setting stories during times in the city’s history, even around the time of the 1906 earthquake and fire – or earlier, since the Gold Rush.
As for an author to emulate, I’d like to continue trying to write more short stories in what I think is a Shirley Jackson vein. I find her stories so unsettling and intriguing; she is a master at launching a story with seemingly ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, then introducing an unexpected twist, or having one of them inexplicably and unexpectedly acting in a petty or cruel way. She understands human nature to its molecular level, and her fiction is so thought-provoking as to what is motivating her characters in what they do and speak.
FQ: Please tell us what is next for Frederick and his sibling!
WOLLAK: I’m happy to share that the original manuscript of Distress & Determination was so long that I thought it’d be too much to ask a reader to stay with, all the way through; therefore, I divided it into two books, Distress & Determination being only the first half!
The second half of the story finds Frederick returning to Cambridge to try and succeed in his studies. After a couple of terms, Julia and Jane make their social debuts during the London season. Frederick acts as their escort, and the siblings experience a variety of adventures as they navigate the pleasures, challenges, and expectations in high society. Will their lives be the same once the glittering season is over? And how will the story of the Darcy family continue after that?
Maybe I will need to give the second part a new title, but that remains open.
In closing, thank you very much for this opportunity to answer your wonderful questions and share with your readers!