Sunday, July 30, 2023

#BookReview of Bespoke Betrayals and Sartorial Secrets

Bespoke Betrayals and Sartorial Secrets

By: Marc Kage
Publication Date: October 25, 2022
Reviewed by: Tripti Kandari
Review Date: July 27, 2023
In Marc Kage’s Bespoke Betrayals and Sartorial Secrets, a tense composition intertwines a web of human relationships, wherein the threads of deception violate trust, resulting in a broken mosaic of what were once-magnificent bonds.
Jabir, a talented but struggling photographer from Boston, is drawn to Melford, a town increasingly turning into a bustling tourist city with a plethora of opportunities for a promising future. However, his aspirations are destroyed when this new place knocks him down, leaving him at an impasse. Most people prefer other photographers with charming social media auras, leaving Jabir’s career path stale. Meanwhile, his wife, Michelle, a publicist by profession, harbors her own dirty secrets that gnaw at her conscience.
Amid all his worries, Jabir embarks on a chance excursion into Melford's "old town," a quaint community that once teemed with life and bustling activity but has now slipped into oblivion as a forgotten corner of Melford. Once a flourishing town, it now bears the scars of a tumultuous past marked with industrial unrest and deep distrust. Little does Jabir know that a blessing is on its way to his door.
Jabir's long-time friend and fashion designer, Aaron, reaches Melford with the thrilling prospect of organizing a fashion runway event. Aurelio, a writer and widower with two daughters, joins the fray, rounding out the formidable trio. The friends not only have the opportunity to demonstrate themselves as masters of their various professions as part of the runway event, but they also have the chance to help the residents of the "old town." Through their collaborative efforts to fulfill the runway event's requirements, the focus on the abilities of the old town's residents may become a spark for breathing new life into their forgotten community. Fate seems to be intervening to help everyone, but amidst the excitement, doubts still linger. Could this apparent stroke of good luck be too good to be true? Could it be the beginning of a perilous adventure, with the road ahead steeped in mystery and distrust?
Meanwhile, Michelle’s involvement in covert dealings from her prior business complicates matters amid the trio’s promising venture. Unbeknownst to the others, she has been driven into a precarious situation as a result of severe economic problems and personal troubles. To have a prosperous future with Jabir, she must decide whether to hurt Aaron’s reputation while she's working as a publicist for another designer. The weight of her deeds weighs heavily on her heart, knowing that the consequences may leave permanent scars on the lives of everyone involved.
Bespoke Betrayals and Sartorial Secrets begins with a character-driven plot, with individuals battling with emotions and the intricacies of life. However, the story soon takes on the traits of an enthralling suspense thriller. Kage’s remarkable character development brings depth to his characters, creating multi-dimensional people that the reader will want to learn more about. However, Jabir’s portrayal stands out as he becomes the epitome of a social-media cynic, unapologetically questioning the façade of perfection portrayed on social-media platforms. Jabir’s monologues depict the challenges of a struggling artist, the intricacies of capturing moments on camera, and his disdain for bogus artists. This gives readers insight into his psyche, helping them to build a greater bond with his character. There is also a major emphasis on the consequences of dishonesty and broken trust. The characters struggle with the consequences of their deceptions throughout the novel, leading to a murky path that undermines the entire foundation of their connections.
Quill says: Bespoke Betrayals and Sartorial Secrets delivers a slow-burn narrative of unyielding stains of falsehoods and human subtleties, immersed in suspense and a whirlwind journey of twists and excitement.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

#BookReview of The Guitar Decoder Ring

The Guitar Decoder Ring: Featuring SIGIL - the New Language of Guitar

By: Asher Black and Barry Gilman
Publisher: MadPipe Publishing
Publication Date: July 4, 2023
ISBN: 979-8988636816
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: July 24, 2023
Two musical minds, Asher Black and Barry Gilman, collaborate in presenting an innovative method for approaching the guitar – seeing it as both an instrument for conveying musical tunes and tones, and a harbinger of deeper, almost magical, moments in their new book, The Guitar Decoder Ring: Featuring SIGIL - the New Language of Guitar.
Gilman and Black have dedicated this fascinating guide to Pythagoras, who spoke of the relationship of sounds – the humming of strings – to the music of the spheres. Those who have either played guitar or closely observed others doing so will realize the truth of that perception and wish to delve into the methodology set forth here. In introductory segments, the history of musical instrumentation and organization is explored, showing the early development of group, or orchestral, music in which the players were confined in a pit, directed by the conductor from above, as compared with the wild and wonderful freedom of bands and individuals in current times. Various standard means to learn to play guitar are set forth, including rote memorization and imitation based on observing others. But, as Black challenges, “When do you actually get to be an author?” SIGIL (a term that is literally defined as “a type of symbol used in magic”) as applied to the structure of the guitar itself, is heralded by the authors as an open-handed, open-minded strategy. SIGIL is, they assert, a means of guitar mastery based on a five-note sequence that can be played on any frets, in any keys of the player’s choosing. This “circle”- written as 7IXIL – readily combines theory with production.
Black, a South African indie musician and guitar instructor, and Gilman, an author and recent guitar student who also works in corporate sales, provide their guidance with copious illustrations, principally showing the 7IXIL pattern as it pertains to the frets and strings of a typically tuned guitar. They have also included quotations from and references to a very wide variety of sources, from Frank Zappa, the Byrds, the Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Prometheus, and of course, Pythagoras, who perceived the connection between geometry and the production of musical sound. Their writing is personable, offering slang-laden musician-speak deftly mixed with highly technical information. The remarkable “decoder ring” set forth here will be immediately comprehensible to many guitar enthusiasts, allowing them to use the technique freely, though they may or may not fully grasp its Greek, mathematical, and scientific bases.
Quill says: Asher and Black’s well-organized manual can and should be utilized by anyone interested in creating – and better grasping the principles of – spontaneous, master-minded guitar music.

#BookReview of Third Moon Rising by Rina Olsen

Third Moon Passing

By: Rina Olsen
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 18, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-639889051
Reviewed by: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: July 24, 2023
Third Moon Passing is the debut novel from teenage author Rina Olsen and it is one that is definitely going to put this young writer on the literary map. Everything about the story is riveting, from the legends of the Korean culture, to the characters, to the attack by US soldiers, and it is all pulled together in such a perfect way that it will appeal to a broad range of readers.
Third Moon Passing is the story of Chansol, the daughter of a God, and Moonsoo, the dragon of the Han River. These two young people, both facing futures that become more and more confusing and uncertain, were the catalyst of a terrible accident years ago. They now have to find a way to fix things from back then and, in order to do that, they will have to work with not only the Gods, but with two "normal" girls from their village. As these two girls, Daseul and Wolhwa, are all of a sudden pulled into a world of Gods, curses, new friends, and many villains who do not want to see them succeed, their lives are changed forever as they try to figure out the secrets of their pasts in order to change their futures.
This story is set in a mythical and magical world full of powerful Gods and strange creatures who are all there to either help Daseul and Wolhwa or find a way to hinder them as they travel to the underworld to break a curse and save all of those that they love as their own world is under the threat of a real military attack. Third Moon Passing is full of lots of twists and turns as these two characters, as well as Chansol and Moonsoo, try to navigate all of the issues thrown at them as ancient stories become their own truth. Can they accomplish what they have set out to do? For that answer, you will have to pick up the book to discover for yourself what happens.
Rina Olsen, a teenager herself, has given readers a story that is filled with vivid descriptions of a beautiful world. The story is written so well and it combines many different outlooks as we read about what is happening from many different characters. The author shows such skill in her writing by being able to seamlessly pull all of this together into a descriptive story that flows so easily. It is very impressive.
The characters in Third Moon Passing, every single one of them, are very well-developed. From Moonsoo’s attitude to Chansol’s fear and confusion over becoming a leader after her father becomes ill, to Daseul and Wolhwa attempting to get along, the author shows us not only her characters attempts to do what needs to be done but also all of the emotions that they are feeling as they face what needs to be faced. In addition, this is a story that gives the reader very strong female leads who step up and take on a lot of responsibility and, as a reader, I love these types of characters. This group is truly remarkable, especially given the fact that all of the main personalities in this story are so very young.
This book is an exceptional example of storytelling and I recommend it to everyone. There is simply no way to read Third Moon Passing and come away not a fan of the plot, the characters, or the mind-blowing teenager who wrote it. I sincerely hope to see more from this author in the future.
Quill says: Third Moon Passing is a vividly written and captivating novel and amazing in the fact that the young author who wrote it is only sixteen years old. It really makes one stop and think about how much young people can accomplish if they really want to, and that is such a lovely thing for readers to find in the literary world.
For more information on Third Moon Rising, please visit the author's website:

#BookReview of The Flowers of Hiraeth House by Angelica Krystel

The Flowers of Hiraeth House

By: Angelica Krystel
Publisher: Amazon
Publication Date: July 12, 2023
ISBN: 979-8850466954
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: July 24, 2023
From emerging new author Angelica Krystel comes her debut novel entitled The Flowers of Hiraeth House, a thrilling, dark murder mystery combined with romance whose protagonist, Rose, is just as much of an enigma as the entire story is.
The story opens as Rose is traveling on a train with no real destination in mind, when she is approached by a mysterious stranger named Volya who invites her to his home. Although Rose is wary of this strange man, she feels drawn to his intense and passionate demeanor, and finds herself accepting his offer without much careful consideration. Once they arrive at Hiraeth House, Rose is immediately taken aback by the extreme appearance of the estate. It seems as though it was once quite attractive, but over time, Hiraeth House has been left to wither away and now displays dead, rotting plants outside and uneven, broken steps leading to the front door.
The events that transpire as Rose begins to settle in with Volya at Hiraeth House are nothing short of alarming and perplexing. Rose meets Vanya, Volya’s son, and oddly enough, Volya introduces Rose as his cousin. Vanya and Rose begin developing a passionate relationship, while at the same time Rose is being pursued by Volya. Shortly afterwards, Vanya brings his girlfriend Scarlet to Hiraeth House, which understandably infuriates Rose. Once Volya learns of this, he decides that Scarlet needs to be dealt with, and that is when the story takes a much more sinister turn. Shortly after Scarlet disappears, the body of a dead man is found in the gazebo on the grounds, prompting a police investigation on the property.
Krystel’s novel is the epitome of an amalgamation of genres, encompassing romance, mystery, suspense, and even psychological thrills. She did a superb job of crafting a story that is sure to appeal to a broad audience. The way Krystel writes is almost poetic, so fans of poetry will appreciate that about her work as well. Some of the plot developments were simply appalling and will certainly keep the reader engaged.
For a debut novel, Krystel did a stellar job with character and plot development. One minor issue is the story was rather short at just 120 pages. At the pace the story was progressing when it concluded, Krystel certainly could have kept writing with more accounts of creepy happenings at Hiraeth House, but perhaps Krystel has plans for future books to continue the story of Rose.
Quill says: The Flowers of Hiraeth House is an engaging, albeit short, mystery, romance and crime novel all combined into one gripping story that will leave its readers stunned and longing for more chapters chronicling Hiraeth House.
For more information on The Flowers of Hiraeth House, please visit the author's Instagram page at:

#BookReview of The Curse: A Hope Allerd Novel by Robert Thornton

The Curse: A Hope Allerd Novel

By: Robert Thornton
Publication Date: May 23, 2023
ISBN: 979-8395822802
Reviewed By: Ephantus Gold
Review Date: July 24, 2023
The Curse: A Hope Allerd Novel by Robert Thornton follows the adventures of a young medical doctor, whose longing to fulfill a patient's last request places her life on a knife's edge...
Owing to her brilliance, Dr. Hope Allerd has been consulted by Father Jerome Weir, a faculty member of St. Bede's University, to evaluate a patient at St. Bede’s Hospital who has been diagnosed with an infection. A thirty-minute study of the patient's records leaves no doubt in her mind that a potentially fatal fungal infection, pulmonary aspergillosis, has had the best of the poor man's lungs. To her astonishment, the patient is quick to attribute the infection to a source that is not normally found in the International Classification of Diseases - a curse.
The able doctor is further shocked when the patient dies immediately after sharing the news, but not before handing her his house key for her to find an item of value in his home. With a deep longing to fulfill the old man's wishes, Dr. Hope finds a pouch that a carbon-14 dating report confirms to be between four thousand and four thousand eight hundred years of age. The mystery deepens further when its content is disclosed to be a twenty-first-century phone - an iPhone 13. How did it get inside an ancient, sealed pouch, and what will be the cost of unveiling this puzzle?
In this novel, toxic benevolence is exposed, discretion is tested, and underlying dread in characters comes alive. From the moment the read begins, the element of imagery is well utilized to bring up a sense of terror which is relevant for this book's genre. Author Thornton is an intellectual who brilliantly twists up theories, impressions, and moments into incredible embodiments, which without a doubt, pull readers out of their comfort zones. The stakes keep rising as the read advances, particularly with the introduction of an overly savage entity, which the protagonist believes is connected to a well-guarded scientific operation. Well-illustrated themes of quantum tunneling, human monstrosity, and cruelty heighten the suspense and apprehension, and the strong beating of a reader's heart gradually grows louder with every new chapter.
Quill says: The Curse: A Hope Allerd Novel by Robert Thornton is a novel that taps into a reader's soul and inner emotions, by combining the ordinary with the abominable, the unorthodox, and the grotesque. The author utilizes descriptive words, character choices, and dangerous situations to create suspense and, in the end, offers a thrilling ride that will stick in a reader's memory for years.
For more information on The Curse: A Hope Allerd Novel, please visit the website:

#AuthorInterview with Mona R. Semerau, author of Ranbir

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Trix Lee-Rainwater is talking with Mona R. Semerau, author of Ranbir: A Seven-Year-Old's Introduction to Higher Mathematics.
FQ: Mathematical fiction, particularly for young readers, is not one of the more common genres readers might stumble upon. What inspired you to write a mathematically-based book? Do you have a background in mathematics or a related field?
SEMERAU: I have no background in math, and in fact if anything should qualify me to write this story, it’s that, like Buck, I’m not at all good at math. But I do have an appreciation for the beauty and symmetry of numbers which have helped shape our understanding of the Universe, and unlock its many secrets.
FQ: What were the specific challenges you faced in balancing the imaginative elements of the story with the educational aspects of mathematics?
SEMERAU: Kids make up stuff as they go along. I put myself into the mind of a seven-year-old, which follows its own peculiar logic, and inserted what I needed to justify the details of the story as it developed. What fun! The math and the zaniness of Buck’s imagination all followed a logical path.
FQ: How did you decide which concepts to include in this book? Were there some topics that you wanted to include but, because of space limitations, had to exclude?
SEMERAU: I was amazed at how much material I could put into a book less than 100 pages long.
FQ: I liked the tangible representation of popcorn, styrofoam, and fluff bunnies to explain decimals and fractions. Can you tell us more about your thought process behind these choices?
SEMERAU: Buck imagines Ranbir doing hard time, in which he is tasked with moving all the numbers on the left side of the decimal point to the right of the decimal in order to make everything equal. While Ranbir insists this is impossible – and explains why – he suggests another solution in the hopes of lightening his sentence. His friend Buck at first is just as mystified as those who should know better, but the idea begins to take hold. Here the math perfectly coincides with the storyline.
FQ: Keeping a book on target for young readers can be a challenge. One way is to be sure the language/dialogue is correct, which I believe you captured perfectly (hooky things, squishy scales). How hard was it to capture that? Did it require research, perhaps hanging around kids, speaking to them about math, or...?
SEMERAU: No. I just remembered I was a kid myself once, the way I looked at the world in terms of how I understood it at the time.
FQ: What do you hope young readers will take away from reading the book in terms of their perception and appreciation of mathematics?
SEMERAU: I actually have in mind not kids, but adult educators who will read the book and take from its ideas. I would hardly expect this to be used as a textbook, but the visual concept I think would be ideal in a classroom full of distracted students, and the Ranbir slide rule would make a fun art project.
FQ: Getting children excited about mathematics and other STEM fields can be a challenge. How can we help get children involved and, more importantly, excited about these topics?
SEMERAU: What I hope to convey through Ranbir is the conviction that kids at a very young age can be introduced to concepts way beyond their grade level, without the expectation of mastery at this time. But now their minds are better prepared to absorb the material later on in their educational experience. Math needn’t be abstract, hard, or esoteric. It’s for dumb kids, too.
FQ: Your first book, Forces, sounds intriguing. I noticed it’s been miscategorized by some as YA, but you state that it is for a more mature audience. Would you tell our readers a little about it?
SEMERAU: Forces has the literary feel of fantasy with a hint of the graphic novel, an immersive experience which builds on the sense of wonder, pure and simple. There is no magic in it, nothing supernatural; rather, ‘science wears a jester’s mask’ in a mythological imagery unique to the story itself. It is not to be plowed through to learn what happens at the end, but savored, the wordcraft appreciated in the telling.
FQ: Speaking of Forces, I notice that, like Ranbir, it is about STEM topics. So many readers, even adults, have a fear of mathematics and other science topics. I believe that fear is really a misunderstanding, not realizing how beautiful mathematics truly is. Do you think books like Forces and Ranbir, which incorporate fictional adventures wrapped around math/science, can help people overcome that fear/misunderstanding?
FQ: Do you have plans to write another mathematically based story? Or will your writing talents take you in another direction?
SEMERAU: Another book is not forthcoming at this time. However, Atmosphere Press is helping me set up a website which I hope will become a springboard for introducing math on a count-on-your-fingers level. Forces will be featured in it as well, so there’s some of your science. I’m not sure how far this will go, but this is an investment in an idea, I think worth the risk.

Monday, July 24, 2023

#BookReview of Shadow of the Son by Ivan Obolensky

Shadow of the Son: Book Two of "Eye of the Moon"

By: Ivan Obolensky
Publisher: Smith-Obolensky Media
Publication Date: June 16, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-947780-17-0
Reviewed By: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: July 21, 2023

Shadow of the Son is the sequel to Ivan Obolensky’s incredible first novel, Eye of the Moon and, if possible, this return to Rhinebeck is even better than our original trip. Percy and Johnny are back, along with all our old friends and a few new ones in another wonderful, mysterious, and captivating weekend that just might hold even more secrets than the first.

As this sequel begins, we are all back at Rhinebeck for another gathering full of old secrets, new beginnings, and, of course, amazing dinner parties. While all of the characters that we became attached to in the first book are back, there are some new additions to the weekend that really add so much to the story. Percy’s mother arrives and the reader is given a wonderful look at the past between our beloved main character and his childhood as Mary opens up to her son. There is also the evil Lord Bromley, a character touched on in Eye of the Moon, who crashes the weekend in order to finally meet his son Percy face-to-face. Of course, nothing with Lord Bromley is simple, and there are numerous underlying reasons for his being there that are so much fun to discover. What does he really want?

An exceptional part of Shadow of the Son, and the weekend, was learning more about Stanley and his wife Dagmar. They are both intriguing characters who run the household with humor, talent, and an iron fist. Between these two characters and the exploits of everyone around them, this book is so worth the read. And that, dear readers, is just what you will have to do if you want the answers to what everyone is really up to.

Mr. Obolensky has given us yet another wonderfully written novel. The words flow together so perfectly and show that this author has an incredible talent for writing and, his background in such a world of glamour and privilege allows him to write about it perfectly. The descriptions are so vivid that anyone reading the book will feel as if they are actually at the splendid estate taking part in the weekend. The characters are all so riveting that it is almost impossible to pick a favorite. Any reader will find themselves rooting for each and every person in the novel and it will easily feel as if you have grown to know them and care about what happens to them, not only on these pages, but even after the book is finished. This author does no wrong in terms of the way he writes about the friendships, issues, and love that is dealt with between this multitude of very diverse characters.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone. In my humble opinion, you should definitely read Eye of the Moon first so that you understand who these characters are and where they are coming from, and then devour Shadow of the Son as soon as you are finished. I cannot say enough good things and I hope that everyone out there joins me in becoming a huge fan of Percy, Johnny, their family and friends, and especially, Ivan Obolensky.

Quill says: The first book in this series, Eye of the Moon, was an amazing novel that was extremely difficult to put down once you start reading. It says a lot about the author, the storyline, and the characters when the sequel is even more compelling and even harder to put down, as is the case with Shadow of the Son. I truly cannot wait to see what comes next.

For more information on Shadow of the Son: Book Two of "Eye of the Moon," please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview of The Lost Princess of Alicante by E.V. Padilla

The Lost Princess of Alicante

By: E.V. Padilla
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2023
ISBN: 978-1639888863
Reviewed by: Rebecca Jane Johnson
Review Date: July 20, 2023
Inés Zaragosa has been lied to about her past. Her abusive Aunt Sofia claimed she was the daughter of a doctor and his wife who came to the States from Venezuela; tragically, they had died in an accident when she was a baby (or so she had been told). Now a grown woman living in poverty with her ailing aunt, Inés is pursuing an advanced degree in history and working for a wealthy local heiress. It is frustrating to observe Inés so passively enduring her aunt’s and employer’s insults. But this story does not develop through a focus on the main character’s emotional inner world; instead, it moves from one detailed scene to the next bringing in new characters whose histories intertwine.
One total stranger to Inés (but Aunt Sofia’s estranged cousin), a famous man named Don Román, from the royal family in Betania, shows up beside her aunt’s sickbed and tells Inés that her family was not from Venezuela, but was the royal family of Betania (a Caribbean Island). And the young woman’s real name is María Magdalena Talavera de Alicante San Germán.
Inés, without hesitation, embraces her identity as Magdalena, realizes she is the descendant of the royal family, and up and leaves her life in the States. She walks away from her adjunct teaching job at the university to move with her sick aunt and Don Román to Betania. There, she lives on her uncle’s sugarcane farm. She aids the local priest and doctor to support the hard-working peasants on this Caribbean Island where everyone refers to her, endearingly, as “child.” Meanwhile, she absorbs all she can learn about several historical families in the region—Talavera, San Germán, and Velasquez.
She continues her adventures in her new homeland, and if Magdalena has any personal desires or motivations, the reader is not made aware of them. Magdalena is mostly thrown around by her circumstances. She is a grown woman who does not seem at all troubled in the face of condescending affection: As Don Román assures her, “When you’ve had your thesis accepted, child, you’ll be something of a phenomenon here on Betania. Our women have not yet come to value advanced education.”
Magdalena eventually learns to refer to the ineffectual Prince Agustin as Tio. While he is her uncle, the prince laments not saving Magdalena’s real parents long ago when they died by the hand of Salomón Montemares, who is the Socialist revolutionary enemy of the royal family. His guerilla threat forced Aunt Sofia to flee with the baby Magdalena. In one moment, Magdalena seemed upset and entertained a desire to see justice done, but that desire is sabotaged by her own next thought, determined she will never witness judgment of Salomón Montemares.
The Lost Princess of Alicante is plot-driven, historical fiction about the Caribbean. While the story is intriguing, it is hard to get drawn into Magdalena’s life because her character fell flat. The way she gave up her life and career in the United States without thinking for herself makes her seem small. Once she lived in Betania, she seemed to go from one adventure to another without any mention of her feelings or desires, and this made it hard to know her. I wanted to get to know Magdalena and this aspect of the story was frustrating. Overall, however, The Lost Princess of Alicante is a satisfying read for those interested in the history of the Caribbean.
Quill says: The Lost Princess of Alicante is an ambitious saga that reveals truths about ancestors, adversity, and nobility, virtues, and flaws of ordinary and extraordinary people facing hardship, poverty, and social unrest while keeping faith in utopian dreams.

Friday, July 21, 2023

#AuthorInterview with Paris Song, author of Modern Dealership

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lily Andrews is talking with Paris Song, author of Modern Dealership: A Blueprint for the Dealership of Tomorrow.
FQ: I'm fascinated by your background. Would you give our readers a quick look at what "drives" you, and how you came to have such a passion for the automotive industry?
SONG: My fascination with cars began at a young age when I visited a dealership with my parents. The sight of those beautiful shiny cars sparked a sense of wonder and curiosity within me. I couldn't help but wonder who the fortunate individuals were that worked with these magnificent cars every day. However, my parents didn't share the same enthusiasm.
What truly drives me is my innate desire to solve problems. As a budding physicist in college, I was drawn to the complexity of unsolved equations such as P vs. NP, Riemann hypothesis, and Hodge conjecture. I spent countless days immersed in solving these mathematical mysteries. Over time, my passion has evolved to focus on applying my problem-solving skills to the real world. Today, I find immense satisfaction in identifying operational glitches and outdated business models and obsessively working to fix them. Though my path has shifted, I remain a scientist at heart, using my analytical mindset to create practical solutions in the automotive industry and beyond.
FQ: Your book is one of the most interesting texts I have read regarding the automotive industry. You obviously have the passion, but what made you decide to write a book about the issues you see in today's dealerships?
SONG: Writing a book about the issues facing today's dealerships was a natural progression for me. I love the automotive industry. It’s filled with fascinating jargon, and the work is undeniably exciting and rewarding. It became evident that in order to stay relevant and successful, dealerships needed to adapt to evolving consumer behaviors, embrace technological advancements, and embrace transparency in their operations. It was my burning desire to share my insights and practical principles with others, offering guidance to navigate these transformative shifts and thrive in an ever-changing market.
FQ: Can a new auto dealership rely on the practical principles offered to help them prepare for probable catastrophes such as Covid-19 that may occur in the future? Do you see resistance from some businesses to implement change?
SONG: Absolutely. The practical principles outlined in the book can serve as a valuable guide for any dealership—new or established—when preparing for uncertain times like Covid-19. Embracing change can be met with resistance in any industry, including automotive, but the pandemic has shown the importance of adaptability. Dealerships that are open to change and agile in their strategies are more likely to weather future challenges and emerge stronger.
FQ: If there was one thing that you would encourage dealers to address now, to better prepare for the 2023-2024 financial year, what would it be?
SONG: To better prepare for the 2023-2024 financial year, I would strongly encourage dealerships to fully embrace the concept of a digital experience and automation. The post-pandemic world has witnessed a significant shift in consumer behaviors and preferences. Although masks may have been dropped, the impact of these changes on our way of living and thinking is here to stay. As a result, the demand for a seamless and fully digital purchase experience will continue to rise. Dealerships that invest in robust digital platforms, streamlined online processes, and innovative automation technologies will be better positioned to meet the evolving expectations of customers. By focusing on providing a convenient and efficient digital journey, dealerships can enhance customer satisfaction, attract new buyers, and ultimately drive business growth in the upcoming financial year and beyond.
FQ: Some of the challenges facing the auto industry are brought on by advancements in technology, and I'm sure readers would desire to read an elaborated text on this topic. Do you have any plans to do a book on the topic?
SONG: Advancements in technology indeed pose significant challenges and opportunities for the auto industry. While I haven't planned a specific book on this topic yet, I'm certainly intrigued by the idea. Understanding and harnessing technology are vital for dealerships to remain competitive and provide exceptional customer experiences. Exploring this area in depth could prove valuable to the industry.
FQ: I recall back in the 80s, when shopping with my father for a new car, his warning about "hidden costs and other issues." You have highlighted this issue, the lack of transparency, as a predominant issue that breeds customer mistrust. This transparency seems to be well-known among consumers - why have dealerships not gotten proactive? Why have they let this "fester" for years?
SONG: The lack of transparency in some dealerships has been an issue for decades, and it's a complex matter. It may have been overlooked by some because change can be uncomfortable or challenging. However, I believe the tide is turning, and more dealerships are recognizing that transparency is essential to building trust and establishing long-lasting customer relationships. Embracing radical transparency can differentiate dealerships in a positive way, increasing customer loyalty and improving overall reputation.
FQ: Speaking of lack of transparency, would you discuss how long you think results may start to show once a business employs radical transparency?
SONG: Implementing the policy of transparency will show initial results relatively quickly—within 2-3 months. However, its full impact takes time to permeate throughout the dealership. Building trust is not an overnight process, and consistent efforts to foster transparency will gradually yield positive outcomes. As customers witness the dealership's commitment to openness, their confidence will grow, leading to increased loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
FQ: What is your opinion regarding the volatile employee retention state in the auto industry, and how does it affect profitability?
SONG: The volatile employee retention state in the auto industry is indeed a challenge. High turnover rates negatively affect dealership profitability, impacting both operational efficiency and customer experience. Addressing this issue requires a multi-faceted approach, including offering competitive compensation and benefits, providing opportunities for growth and advancement, and fostering a positive and inclusive work environment.
FQ: What are your thoughts regarding the effects of evolving consumer habits such as internet shopping, particularly for brick-and-mortar businesses that may take longer to fully automate?
SONG: Evolving consumer habits, particularly the shift towards internet shopping, have significantly impacted the automotive industry. While some customers embrace the convenience of online transactions, brick-and-mortar businesses can still thrive by providing exceptional in-person experiences. Dealerships should focus on creating a seamless omnichannel approach that complements digital offerings with personalized in-store experiences, ensuring a cohesive and customer-centric journey.
FQ: Your book cover and title are simple and minimalistic, with the design's focal point grabbing one's attention. Tell us a bit about how you arrived at this impeccable design.
SONG: The design of the book cover and title aimed to capture the essence of the content succinctly. The minimalistic approach symbolizes transparency and simplicity, core principles discussed in the book. We wanted the design to be eye-catching, evoking curiosity and inviting readers to explore the insights within its pages.
FQ: In your epilogue, you mentioned that this book took three years to write. Should your audience expect a new publication soon, or do you plan to spend time marketing this book first, before starting a new project?
SONG: I don't have immediate plans for a new publication, but I'm always exploring new ideas and topics. For now, my focus will be on sharing the lessons from Modern Dealership and engaging with readers to drive positive change in the industry.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

#BookReview of Hair Goes History by J.D. Taylor

Hair Goes History: How Hair Enhancement Has Shaped the Arc and Trembling Hand of History

By: J.D. Taylor
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 19, 2023
ISBN: 978-1639888969
Reviewed by: Douglas C. MacLeod, Jr.
Review Date: July 18, 2023
J.D. Taylor, author of Hair Goes History: How Hair Enhancement Has Shaped the Arc and Trembling Hand of History, is a fount of knowledge about all things follicular. Based on his newest text, it seems Taylor has a savant-like understanding of history, politics, philosophy, sports, and entertainment; and how all of these broad and vastly different subject matters have a profound connection to what he calls the “hair systems” of those in power, whether placed into that position legitimately or otherwise. Hair systems, by Taylor’s definition, are wigs, weaves, extensions, hairpieces, etc.; essentially, anything that, for any variety of reasons, adorns a denuded pate.
How Taylor frames Hair Goes History is that the work is both a personal journey about his own admitted fears of inferiority, failure, and hair loss along with a way to “transport the reader on an historical journey never taken before in the history of mankind.” (pg. 3) He claims he started writing the book after what he believes was the harsh reality of Donald Trump’s presidential win, recognizing “hair systems have had a momentous repercussion on the dawning of human history.” (pg. 3) The rest of Taylor’s book, which is over four-hundred and fifty pages long, is his attempt to prove this unique and compelling argument, which ultimately leads to an extensive list of bald or balding politicians, dictators, military generals, celebrities, royalty, etc., all of whom have used some form of hair system, whether to their advantage or to their detriment.
Most of Hair Goes History is objectively devoted to American leaders and figureheads (although he does speak about the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Queen Elizabeth’s entire family) who display their prowess in their words, actions, and physicality; in other words, the addition of a hair system, which is supposed to look natural, can be deemed as a sign of strength, trustworthiness, and virility (among what are considered other positive traits). Taylor also spends a good amount of quality time on how the constituents, lovers, advisors, and sycophants (among others) around these powerful entities are, in general, blindly drawn to their charisma and bravado, which can oftentimes be attributed to how one wears their hair or if one wears someone else’s hair.
There is no doubt Taylor has a firm grasp on hair; he knows what he is talking about. Even when Taylor provides prolonged historical commentary and acerbically-charged, witty articulations that, although successfully informative, satirical and honest, hinders the argument’s theoretical objectivity, he does a stellar job proving an argument that is not easy to untangle.
Quill says: Although at times a bit verbose and emotionally-driven, Hair Goes History provides a unique, in-depth, and competent look at hair systems, and how they can sometimes dangerously contribute to one’s cult of personality.
For more information on Hair Goes History: How Hair Enhancement Has Shaped the Arc and Trembling Hand of History, please visit the author's website at:

#Bookreview of Discovering Mom by Bryan Foreman

Discovering Mom

By: Bryan Foreman
Publisher: BForeman Books
Publication Date: June 22, 2023
ISBN: 979-8399150000
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: July 18, 2023
Novelist Bryan Foreman applies his wordsmithing wit and wisdom to the tale of a tormented teen who is secretly longing for a sense of true identity in his newest book, Discovering Mom.
Daniel is an adopted child, something he didn’t know until his natural curiosity at seeing his aunt late in pregnancy prompts the boy to ask his mother if he came out of her belly as his aunt’s offspring will soon do. His somewhat estranged but prosperous parents – a distant but errant father and a hardworking but anxiety-ridden mother - decide to level with him, and thus Daniel learns that he is the son of a Caucasian mother and a Native American, Comanche father. At first dismayed at being a “half-breed,” and worse, half “bad guy,” he soon learns to take pride in this ancestry, even asking for an Indian costume for his ninth birthday. But his dark features and knowledge of his background will make him an object of scorn with his schoolmates, until he meets Jasmine, also of mixed (Black/White) race. Though young, the two bond, loyally defending one another and rebelliously taking on the role of defiant outcastes. Daniel’s zeal to meet his birth parents begins to eat at him, and, remarkably, he learns his mother’s whereabouts and name – California, and Karen - with the help of a concerned grown-up in Jasmine’s family circle. After many phone conversations with Karen, the young couple – just seventh graders - jump on a bus and head to California. What Daniel will find there is a genuinely loving, caring woman whose life is unfortunately heading for disaster. Karen has joined a bizarre religious cult and has a serious, mysterious past that will gradually unfold to Daniel as he digs deeper, learning secrets about the creepy creed and its dictatorial leader that will call for a battle of wills. It is a battle that Daniel must win to secure his newly burgeoning self-respect and sustain the very life of his newfound parent.
Foreman, a dedicated fiction writer, has interwoven complex themes and lightning-fast action, revealed through the eyes of a tormented youngster determined to become a better person than many of the grownups who oversee him. Daniel’s phone conversations with Karen are a tender combination of a mother’s sincere concern and a son’s resolve to seal the relationship. His closeness to Jasmine, which will be especially crucial as the story progresses, develops over time from puppy love to a quality far more enduring. Foreman’s humor abounds throughout this well-paced adventure, with dialogue appropriate to the varying group settings, and scenarios that can evoke smiles along with those that will have readers holding their breath – even shedding a tear or two - as his cinematic plot progresses.
Quill says: Foreman’s sky-wide, open-hearted, and sometimes closed-fisted story of a misfit youth determinedly seeking and triumphantly finding a niche and a purpose in life should be read by anyone who has ever had a dream and worked to make it come true.
To learn more about Discovering Mom, please visit the author’s website at:

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

#AuthorInterview with Davidson Loehr, author of Hollow Gods

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Davidson Loehr, author of Hollow Gods: Why Liberalism Became a Destructive Religion.
FQ: I found that Hollow Gods really made me think and reconsider some of my own ideas. What prompted you to write it?
LOEHR: It was a gradual growing away from the liberal ideology I had just accepted for decades. I think my seven years in graduate school helped, when we were pushed to find a bigger picture, a bigger context, which almost always changed about everything. Add to that the fact that our ideologies are seldom much more than propaganda, designed to be persuasive rather than really informative.
FQ: I was fascinated by your description of yourself as a "lifelong liberal." When did you start rethinking some of your beliefs? Was it a slow process over many years? Or was it something quicker, particularly given how quick things have been changing in our country? Have you discussed these beliefs/changes with friends, and if so, how did they react?
LOEHR: The book will lose me a lot of liberal friends, almost all Unitarian Universalists. Luckily, I’ve never cared much for what people believe. If they have empirical data, I’m interested. But not in their certainties. I always remember Wittgenstein’s wonderful five words of wisdom: “Certainty is only an attitude”.
FQ: I really enjoyed the way the chapters in the book were broken up into three different sections. Did you write the book chapter by chapter, or did you write all of the “Visions” sections first and then go back and start on the next section, the "What's Wrong" parts, and so on?
LOEHR: I wrote all three sections together in each chapter. The “Excerpts” were put in to cut down on footnotes, and let people read the data themselves. They may have different responses than I did, which is fine.
FQ: I think that many readers will look at the book as a “political” one, although I am positive that is not how it is intended. How do you feel about that view of the book?
LOEHR: Yes, I’m sure most will see it as an attack on liberal politics. But it’s really an attack on the religion that has been created from those politics. My background is religion, not politics. I don’t much care for politics.
FQ: Along the same lines, given today's intense political atmosphere, was there any hesitation in putting your opinions (and of course, research) "out there" for all to see?
LOEHR: None at all. I’ve been a heretic since I was six. I really hate phony religion, whether it’s dressed as religion or politics. But it’s giving people beliefs that aren’t worth serving.
FQ: How hard was it to separate the “liberal” and the “religious” aspects of your personality while writing Hollow Gods?
LOEHR: Pretty easy, I think.
FQ: While I don't want to get too political, do you see an issue with our two-party system, in that we'd be better with a multiple-party system? Something perhaps similar to the parliamentary system in the UK?
LOEHR: If we do it right, two parties are just right, I think. We need one that’s grounded and factual—the first Culture—and one that’s abstract, concerned with the possibility of change and improvement. Their honest dialogue—pretty rare today—can produce the real gifts of democracy.
FQ: While Covid certainly caused serious problems in our country, it did awaken an awareness in parents for what their children were being taught in school. Do you think this awareness could ultimately lead to a positive change in what is taught?
LOEHR: God, I hope so! But the so-called “Democratic party” has been taken over and spoken for by the Marxist socialists. As I think I said, it feels like we’re about 60-80% established as a proto-totalitarian socialism. I don’t know whether we’re done or not.
FQ: I found your biography fascinating, particularly your comment about "honest religion." Would you explain to our readers what you mean by this?
LOEHR: Wittgenstein’s “language philosophy” basically says that we need to be able to translate our thoughts/beliefs into ordinary language. If we can’t put it into ordinary language, we really don’t know what we’re talking about. When this is applied to religion, it’s revolutionary. My Ph.D. dissertation was titled The Legitimate Heir to Theology: A Study of Ludwig Wittgenstein. It was for the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, a great school. I’ve been told by 2-3 friends who teach religion in colleges that they don’t think any other Divinity School or seminary would have approved that title.
FQ: For my last question, I'd like to ask about your other passion - wood turning. I'd never heard the term before. What is it and why does it give you so much pleasure? Are you able to be alone with your thoughts while "wood turning," or is it something else that draws you to it?
LOEHR: You use a lathe. It turns the wood at over 1,000 rpm. You have a tool rest and sharp wood gouges, etc. The wood spins toward you. You wear a face mask (if you’re smart). You have to turn wood twice. The first time, the wood is wet—I had a big chain saw and would cut my own logs—and sort of sprays water as you cut it with gouges. If you’re turning, say, a salad bowl, you turn it to maybe 1-1/2” thick. Then there’s a special water-soluble wax you spread over the wood (to slow down the drying and evaporation). You might cover it with newspaper, though I built a big wood-drying kiln, which could dry the wood in a few days rather than weeks. When it’s dry, it has warped, the bowl is slightly oval and the rim bends up. Then you put it back on the lathe and do the final turning. Now you turn it down to its final thickness—say, 3/8” or so. And the wood is now stable. It won’t shrink or warp again. You finish the wood with special oils or maybe polyurethane. I’ve made many salad bowls, platters, dinner plates, salad/soup bowls, candle sticks, salt and pepper mills, etc. I studied with half a dozen or more good wood turners from around the country and England. It’s a technique and can be an art. I do like it. But no, you can’t think other thoughts while doing it! You have to concentrate or you can get hurt and screw up the wood.
Photography is equally a love of mine. I began as a combat photographer in Vietnam, then went around the country studying with half a dozen or so of the country’s best people photographers: portrait and wedding. Then I opened a high-class, high-priced portrait and wedding studio in Ann Arbor. I had a gift for it. I never cared for contests, but entered one, and won first place over 900 other professional portraits. But after five years, I got bored, sold the studio, taught myself carpentry and woodworking and did that for a few years, got bored, finally took some tests to see where my interests and aptitudes really fit, and wound up choosing Religion from the list of eight the tests showed. I loved the tough graduate school, and my 23 years as a Unitarian minister.
Thank you for your time and for sharing your views and research in Hollow Gods.