Friday, September 22, 2023

#Bookreview of I Really Really Don't Want Braces by Sophie Jupillat Posey

I Really Really Don't Want Braces

By: Sophie Jupillat Posey
Illustrated by: Mary Claire Hoffmann
Publication Date: April 24, 2023
ISBN: 978-1088014233
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 21, 2023
Braces are not fun, but in I Really Really Don’t Want Braces, young readers will discover that along with all the unpleasant things that come with braces, there are also some very important positive things to consider.
Mario is upset – he’s been told that he needs braces. His parents have told him braces are necessary, and his dentist has told him too. His teeth are very crooked, food gets stuck in them, and he gets too many cavities. But Mario doesn’t want braces. He hates the way they look and he’s heard that they hurt. Plus, the bullies at school will make fun of him. So Mario does what any smart kid would do – he hides. He tries hiding in the attic, in a laundry basket, and even under the family’s trampoline. Maybe if his parents can’t find him, he won’t have to get braces.
Alas, Mario’s idea to hide is a flop. His mom finds him, and brings him, pronto, to the dentist. Before Mario knows what has happened, he’s got brand new braces on his crooked teeth. Ouch!
Mario is upset because his teeth hurt so much. It hurts to eat, and he can’t even nibble on candy. When he goes to school the next day, people make fun of him. Poor Mario is just so miserable.
When Mario gets home from school, he’s excited to see that his big brother Tony is home from college. It doesn’t take long for Mario to tell his brother about his braces, and how horrible everything is now because of them. Will Tony be able to help Mario get through the discomfort of braces, and help him see the advantages to getting his teeth straightened?
Lots of children have to get braces and it can be an anxious time for them as they hear from friends about braces. They may be told braces hurt, they look funny, or that people will tease them. All of those things are true and author Sophie Jupillat Posey doesn’t sugarcoat the facts about braces. The braces feel funny to Mario, they hurt, and some of the kids at school do pick on him and call him names. But through big brother Tony, Mario (and readers) learn how to cope with all aspects of getting braces. After starting the story as a very unhappy child, Mario finishes his tale happy, excited, and looking forward to his soon-to-be very straight teeth. An additional helpful element to this book is that it is bilingual - written in both English and French. I Really Really Don’t Want Braces is a nice book to share with youngsters who are nervous about the prospect of getting braces.
Quill says: Joining Mario on his journey within the pages of I Really Really Don’t Want Braces is a great way to help youngsters ease the anxiety of getting braces and understand the good things that come from having your teeth straightened.
For more information on I Really Really Don't Want Braces, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview of Sisters of the Soul by Kristin A. Fulton

Sisters of the Soul

By: Kristin A. Fulton
Publisher: Broadway Pacific Press
Publication Date: July 20, 2023
ISBN: 979-8988597711
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: September 20, 2023
Author Kristin A. Fulton creates in Sisters of the Soul a historical tapestry that combines the rumors and realities of race, war, and personal triumph as seen in the bonding of two women – one white, one black – in the wake of national conflict seeded in the very issue they embody – human slavery.
Told through the perspective of several of its dynamic characters, Fulton’s tale begins in 1837, in Louisiana, on the Sweetbriar Plantation where the Dumont family has settled. Black maid servant Addie silently observes the often cruel treatment of Lucille Dumont by her domineering spouse Hugo, and the two women become secret allies. This abusive relationship passes on to a future generation when Hugo ruthlessly seduces Fern, an orphaned servant assigned to care for Lucille as she sinks into old age and depression. Fern dies giving birth to Elizabeth, and Lucille feels a divine obligation to take the infant as her own. Lizzie (Elizabeth) and Sophie, Addie’s child, will grow up closely and always companionably.
Hugo and Lucille’s son Bert, imbued with his father’s sinfulness, ravages Lizzie. She retaliates with a murdering maul, and Sophie aids in hiding the body. It’s clearly time now for the two women – Lizzie with child from the rape - to escape to a new life – not only because the law must be evaded, but also because, in the tenor of their mutual but separate worlds, talk of liberation – for slaves, for women – is being sounded. In 1859, they head west in a horse-drawn wagon. Their adventures on the trail comprise the second half of this fascinating family epic. The two determined heroines along with Lizzie’s daughter Rose will face a far different, more promising world than the one they left behind, and will find within themselves new purpose and ambition to live worthwhile lives, justifying their flight from the place they once called home.
Fulton, a practiced wordsmith who has found much worth mining in the book’s geographical settings and timeframes, allows her heroines to speak, each in her special argot. They recall and describe small household happenings against a background of major national upheaval and the burgeoning of significant issues such as slaveholding and women’s rights that will impact them directly over the novel’s span of nearly 100 years. These separate contributions so imaginatively constructed by Fulton reveal the changes each character is experiencing in ideas and emotions, deftly expressing their differing perspectives based around growth, education, travel, and gradually widening world views.
Quill says: Fulton’s women’s epic is absorbing, packed with both action and reflection, and will engage and expand the author’s fan base, presaging more such stirring and thought-provoking sagas.
For more information on Sisters of the Soul, please visit the website:

#AuthorInterview with E.V. Padilla, author of The Lost Princess of Alicante

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Rebecca Jane Johnson is talking with E.V. Padilla, author of The Lost Princess of Alicante.
FQ: The Lost Princess of Alicante ruminates on history, especially on the complexity of reclaiming lost homeland and family stories; plus, there is the process of making amends with enemies. Can writing and reading novels about such themes help us heal from the wounds of our real, lived history?
PADILLA: Reading about characters in novels allows the reader to see them as if on stage or in a panorama, to share their dilemmas that are similar to one’s own, but from a distance, so that it’s possible to analyze both the person and the situation. Studying other characters’ behavior helps to formulate ways of interacting with them in a more productive way. Seeing characters in situations that create sadness or discomfort often reflect one’s own negative experiences, which helps to minimize the pain and view it as manageable when compared with situations beyond one’s control.
FQ: What are some cultural sensitivities and understandings that you gained or sharpened through writing about these characters and the islands of the Caribbean?
PADILLA: Living as I did in a diverse population (in New Mexico, with its blend of many cultures) helped me to understand how people of different cultures viewed situations from unique perspectives, to appreciate these perspectives and to respect the right of the people to their own views, as long as they do not conflict with universal standards. While all may not share the same standards of what is ethical or unethical, the majority in my own experience do hold universal ideals.
FQ: What do you enjoy writing about more: political unrest, family drama, romance, class issues, etc.? Did you find one harder than the others to write about? Which topic did you find most enjoyable, or interesting?
PADILLA: Romance was the most involving experience, but all the other classifications intrigued me as well, forcing me to make objective judgements about controversial views. As an English major, I took equal pleasure in studies of history, politics and human behavior.
FQ: One theme confronted in this novel is the fulfillment or failure of utopian visions or dreams of leaders/colonizers. Can you discuss the fulfillment of utopian dreams and what that means in other historical or contemporary contexts?
PADILLA: People naturally have different and sometimes conflicting ideas about the perfect society. Culture and ethnic varieties affect attitudes about what makes life more enjoyable and brings about a feeling of fulfillment of people’s dreams, of fairness and freedom from oppression. History has demonstrated the rise of civilizations, their successes and their failures. We can only hope to avoid the mistakes of those that did not survive.
FQ: Were Don Román Valasquez and Salomón Montemares based on real political figures?
PADILLA: The character of Don Román was based on a family member who was a businessman and community leader. A person honored for his fairness and integrity. Salomón Montemares was inspired by different individuals who seemed harsh and even cruel on the surface while demonstrating compassion and great affection for those who had difficult trials in their lives.
FQ: What was your research process for this novel? Can you tell us about your own personal connection to the Caribbean?
PADILLA: A visit to Puerto Rico years ago left me with enduring memories of climate, vegetation and people. Through the years since, reading literature and news accounts of that region kept me aware of the fact that societies don’t remain static but evolve with the times.
FQ: Are you a writer who carefully plans out the plot with an outline, or do you write “by the seat of your pants” as they say?
PADILLA: Starting with a general idea or plan, I start and re-start, revising as I go. Fresh ideas pop up so that means more revisions. Sometimes characters present themselves while I am writing, so that means additional revisions. By some miracle the finished manuscript is born.
FQ: Are you working on a new novel? Are there other parts of the world, other historical contexts, you would like to write a novel about?
PADILLA: I have worked on a YA novel inspired by stories passed down through the years about a young girl growing up in America of the early 1900s. Older readers might enjoy it as well as it could bring back memories of their own families’ stories.
FQ: Thank you for taking the time to talk with Feathered Quill! We appreciate your work.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

#AuthorInterview with J.D. Taylor, author of Hair Boes History

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Douglas C. MacLeod, Jr. is talking with J.D. Taylor, author of Hair Goes History: How Hair Enhancement Has Shaped the Arc and Trembling Hand of History.
FQ: Hair Goes History speaks a great deal about hair systems. What are hair systems and in what ways have they become representative of success and power around the globe?
TAYLOR: Hair systems are essentially hair replacements to blanket thinning hair and baldness. Hair systems are manufactured according to the p¬attern of hair loss. Hair system is a term to supplant such units of discourse as wig, periwig and toupee. Egyptians as far back as 3100 BC had a bias for baldness and made a crude hair replacement matrix to cover. A hair system with excellence represents the appearance of youth, vigor, self-confidence and vitality - all analogous to power and success around the globe.
FQ: You often speak of yourself as an expert in hair systems. What piqued your interest? How does one become an expert in hair systems?
TAYLOR: My initial interest was piqued by the nightmare of glabrous. Further, being Testosterones-laden, vain, hubristic and harboring an inferiority complex forced me to find a solution to my angst. Repetitive trial and error over decades of experimentation with topical, surgical and hair replacements rendered me an expert because I can detect any and all hair replacements that come into my view.
FQ: You speak a bit about your own struggles with hair loss and how it helped you in the writing of this book. Do you see self-image as being a primary drive to achieve greatness for those individuals you speak about in Hair Goes History, whether they are sports figures or politicians?
TAYLOR: Vanity, hubris, an inflated ego and a sense of self often drives success and failure. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is a prime example. All of the above propelled me in part to write such a book as Hair Goes History. Better yet, I was inspired by Robert Kennedy's profound statement: "Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why'? I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not'?" Self-image is momentous in sports, politics and life in general when seeking success and perhaps greatness.
FQ: In Hair Goes History, you briefly speak about the cult of personality and how hair/hair systems play a role in one’s acquiring of that status. Can you elaborate on this point, and how much are hair or hair systems a contributing factor?
TAYLOR: A scraggly-haired bad boy image (such as Charles Manson) or a much too perfect hair system (Trump) along with inflammatory bombast (Trump) lends itself to a historical cult of personality. Take the Hitler cult. He wore a smash-down right-parted brown hairpiece which created an historical image cemented in time. Without that system, he never would have become dictator of Germany - not in a "Munich Minute." The Trump cult would vanish if his hair system would be exposed as it is in Chapter 4 of my book. "History, after all, is fable agreed upon." Napoleon.
FQ: Where does the concept of vanity play into your thoughts about hair systems and worldly power dynamics? Do you think it does at all?
TAYLOR: Vanity is a fixture in the human psyche that helps one establish "The Self." When youth begins to wane, vanity intensifies. Hair systems then create a visual akin to youth: youth to vanity, vanity to self-image and self-image to power. But, "Power without reason is insanity." Samuel Johnson. Above all else, vanity plays a major role in worldly powe - especially in the mind of a deranged autocrat like Trump.
FQ: On page 136 of Hair Goes History, you speak about “historical imagery.” Can you define this term and how it coincides with the importance of hair systems?
TAYLOR: Historical imagery is a visual that's piercing beyond words. It evokes herculean emotions in heroes like Biblical Samson. With his colossal might, he dismembered an Asiatic lion, and in a blind rage he murdered 100 Philistines for burning his wife and father to death. Samson's strength was his hair. Without it, he was powerless. He was never to cut his hair until a greedy and beautiful Delilah seduced him and cut his hair for 1,100 silver coins. After capture and being blinded, his hair grew back. At that time, he pulled the pillars of the Temple away from himself thus destroying the Philistines and himself. As previously stated, Hitler's hairpiece with his mustache fixed his historical image in time. And notwithstanding all of Julius Caesar's greatness, his historical image was firmly implanted by his Signature Wreath. Caesar was tormented by his baldness.
FQ: You speak about how some individuals made “Faustian bargains” as it pertains to their hair systems. What is a Faustian bargain as it pertains to the acquiring of a hair system, and why is this term specific to your chapter on celebrities?
TAYLOR: It was Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray that sanctified the notion of a "Faustian Bargain." Wilde's hero Dorian traded his soul to the devil for immortality (not a bad deal). In effect, a "Faustian Bargain" is a trade-off. And celebs seek immortality in the context of fame. Fame is fun. Fame creates wealth, styles, glamour, attention and magnifies self-image. Fame, however, like snake handling, can be lethal. Fame creates a make-believe world where celebs feel immune to the slings and arrows of daily living. But it is the alluring hair system that creates a self-image of celebrity in the first place that enables a celeb to engage a "Faustian Bargain." The downside to a "Faustian Bargain": Drugs (Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix), Alcoholism (Ben Affleck), Obesity (Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley) and a Lethal Mentality (John Hinckley Jr. reaching out to Jodie Foster). In sum, "Faustian Bargains" for good or for ill with celebs.
FQ: Not only do you speak a great deal about hair systems, you also speak a great deal about how these individuals wear their hair systems. Do you think that plays a role in whether or not someone is successful? Trustworthy? Recognized for their brilliance? Does an ill-fitting hair system make one less apt to be persuasive? What about the coloring of the hair systems?
TAYLOR: In today's gloomy and sinister world ill-fitting hair systems make no difference in terms of success, trustworthiness or persuasiveness. Hair systems do play a role in success, however, ill-fitting or otherwise. There is a Rogues Gallery of ill-fitting hair systems: Boris Johnson, Ron DeSantis, Russian Oligarch Victor Vekselberg, Prof. Michael McFaul, John Kerry, Tom Brady, Brad Pitt, Burt Reynolds (1950's "Gunsmoke"), Roger Stone, Jake Sullivan (ugly system), Nicole Wallace MSNBC, Mike Pence, Josh Hawley, Newt Gingrich, Elon Musk and above all Donald Trump. Coloring is difficult because of oxidation. No system matches perfectly. A person’s side hair or back hair in photos always shows some discoloration - especially Trump's system. Texture is similar. Anthony Scaramucci is seen on Google and the internet exposing many color variations, as an example. Again, modern technology has mitigated the coloring issue. Hair Clubs hair systems have permanent coloring which does not oxidize.
FQ: You speak about multiple positions of power: politics, sports, entertainment, the military. Are hair systems monolithic in how they are used for each position or is there a difference between someone in the military wearing one versus a senator, for example? They are in different positions of power, but are these hair systems used for differing persuasive purposes?
TAYLOR: Hair systems are not monolithic. That would be an unforgivable absolute. Except for gray, most 21st century hair systems use real hair with natural color. There is no difference between someone in the military (like Gen. Milley) or a Senator (like Tuberville), or sports (like Tom Brady). A litany of gutless pols who have bad hair systems: Goetz, Jordan, McCarthy, MTGRENE, Cruz, Abbott, LaPierre and finally Manafort. Inferior hair systems do not hinder their political agendas.

Meet Author J. Shep


Meet Author J. Shep and learn about his new book, The December Issue in his new author biography page at @FeatheredQuill

Friday, September 15, 2023

#BookReview of The Magic in Metaphor by Harley Sears

The Magic In Metaphor: Empowering Children Through Healing Stories

By: Harley Sears
Publication Date: May 20, 2023
ISBN: 979-8393868291
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: September 14, 2023
Writer and counselor Harley Sears offers a wide-ranging teaching method for children that has its roots in the basic enjoyment of listening to and pondering enthralling tales in his debut book, The Magic In Metaphor: Empowering Children Through Healing Stories.
In twenty-five chapters, each of which is designed for listening and learning, the author sets forth stories, generally focused on the natural world, that allow the reader/listener to perceive meaning by imagining her/himself in the situation of a caterpillar, a butterfly, or, as in the opening segment, a home-loving puppy named Archie. Archie's story takes a turn when he is suddenly consigned to a doggy daycare. At first, Archie is understandably nervous, but as he meets other daycare dogs, he soon makes friends and feels a sense of comfort. By the end of the day, he is looking forward to his next visit to the facility. Teachers will see how well this metaphorical situation applies to a child facing care away from home or on the first day at school.
As with all the stories, Archie's tale is followed by Lessons Revealed, Suggested Activities, and more, guiding both student and instructor to make the story’s meaning clear by allowing free discussion, artwork, and various exercises. Other deftly spun yarns include a bee’s encounter with a Friendship Garden, giving him insight into how flowers – as friendships – are nurtured “through acts of kindness, understanding, and compassion.” Children will be encouraged to create artwork depicting their idea of the lovely garden. In “The River of Truth,” a lion cub is shown how the flow and purity of a river can be polluted and darkened by dishonesty, stressing the need to remain truthful and keep the river’s waters “clear and bright.” Students are asked to invent honesty pledges, poems, and songs. “The Garden of Memories” concerns the passing of an aging cat who is comforted by being shown that he will be remembered. This introduces concepts of mindfulness and meditation and encourages discussion focused on grief and loss.
Sears is a hypnotherapist who has worked extensively, aiding and mentoring children in hospitals and other treatment centers. His award-winning work shows a genuine concern for young people, and a talent for artful, indeed magical, composition. It provides a highly varied and imminently practical tool for teachers who will use the metaphorical examples found in the stories to generate true absorption among children needing its many valuable lessons.
Quill says: The Magic in Metaphor reveals author Harley Sears as a mentor and educator with a wish to assist youngsters in confronting emotionally charged life situations with a positive outlook and thorough understanding.
For more information on The Magic In Metaphor: Empowering Children Through Healing Stories, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReveiw of Overlord by Eric James Fullilove


By: Eric James Fullilove
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: August 3, 2023
ISBN: 978-1639889617
Reviewed by: Trix Lee-Rainwater
Review Date: September 12, 2023
If half the world starts sinking tomorrow, how will the other half cope? Let’s find out in Overlord by Eric James Fullilove.
The beginning of the end happens in 2027, when three hurricanes devastate Houston and essentially wipe it off the map. In the following months, rapid massive melting of the polar ice caps somehow pulls the continental tectonic plates down by several hundred feet. In a matter of months, the entire East Coast of the United States is wiped out, quickly followed by the fall of the West Coast. The aftermath is a landscape of chaos and despair, marked by a tremendous loss of life and the looming specter of destabilization, potentially creating the conditions for a civil war. The nation’s leadership is in shambles. The president is dead and the next three people in line for succession have all vanished. In their absence, an illegitimate government led by a general takes the reins of power. Borders between the remaining dry land and the devastated coastal areas are now sealed to prevent the refugees from moving inland. The people who have been swept out of their homes are now derogatorily called “coasties” and are brought into detention centers. They no longer have basic human rights. The detention centers are set up to corral the coasties, who are then subjected to forced labor or dispatched on perilous missions with high casualty rates.
Two years into this apocalyptic nightmare, a ragtag team of prisoner coasties is sent to put out the fire from a burning oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Madison Cervantes, a former Miami police officer, leads this crew, which includes Reaper, a former military man turned armed security; Gunnerson, a construction company owner and demolitions expert; Sensabaugh “Sense,” a former Presidential Secret Service agent; and Night, a Silicon Valley engineering supervisor. Their mission takes an even more perilous turn when they discover they are sent into the middle of a category 5 hurricane, with a mere three-hour window to complete their operation before they are stuck in the middle of the tempest. To make matters worse, the submerged regions teem with genetically-engineered polar bears known as "Moglis" – apex predators that are larger, more aggressive, amphibious, and perpetually ravenous. A daunting dozen of these formidable creatures encircle the blazing oil rig.
Overlord by Eric James Fullilove is a thought-provoking work of dystopian fiction that plunges readers into a world reeling from a catastrophe that obliterated entire states, leaving devastation and despair in its wake. This is a plot-driven story that tackles the consequences and resulting implications of a world-changing catastrophe and the events that follow. Set against the backdrop of a resource-scarce and space-constrained society, it raises the age-old dilemma: should outsiders be admitted at the risk of one’s own people, or should they be kept at bay to protect the existing order? The author chose the latter and expounded on it with nuance. This book also sheds light on the weaponization of racism as a means of rallying and mobilizing people. Fullilove’s story has realistic dialogues and engaging action sequences. The relentless pace keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they grapple with questions about morality, survival, and societal collapse. Given its thrilling and fairly straightforward storyline, Overlord has the potential to captivate a diverse audience, making it highly accessible for many.
Quill says: Overlord is an engaging and accessible dystopian fiction that explores the consequences of climate change, much like a prequel of Waterworld.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

#AuthorInterview with Diane Solomon, author of Eva

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lily Andrews is talking with Diane Solomon, author of Eva: A Riveting Romantic Suspense with a Supernatural Twist.

FQ: In my review, I mention that Eva fits nicely into the genre of "magical realism." I suspect some of our readers may not be familiar with this genre. If you had to describe the genre to a potential reader, what would you say to convince them to give it a try? Basically, what makes magical realism so much fun to read?

SOLOMON: Defining magical realism is simple. It’s a genre that employs a realistic setting but with magical elements that are accepted as real. Eva’s power, although strictly supernatural, is set within a normal, current-day reality in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Magical realism differs from fantasy in that the latter creates a whole new world, almost invariably.

A few current authors using magical realism successfully are Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, Emily Colin, Menna Van Praag, Laura Esquivel, and even Neil Gaiman. Gaiman veers into the surreal, and indeed, some magical realism authors do. I prefer to stay in the real world and bring in supernatural ideas. That’s what is fun for me; the idea that magic could happen in our daily lives.

My husband and I have written two time-travel novels, and are working on a third, and many time-travel stories occur within a realistic setting. I consider Lake House, for example, the movie with Sandra Bullock, to be a good example of a movie that fits in the magical realism genre.

FQ: You describe Eva as "a romantic suspense novel with a supernatural twist." That's quite a lot for one novel! And, I might add, part of what makes the story so enjoyable. Most romance novels might add a little suspense or a little mystery, but few have all the elements you mingled together so well. Was it hard to keep all the elements working together throughout the story?

Author Diane Solomon

SOLOMON: Oh my, you’ve hit on it! The book is certainly a blend of genres, making it hard to know where to place it when publishing and marketing. It is suspenseful but is not a suspense. It is romantic but is not a romance. It has fantasy elements but is not a fantasy. However, magical realism is too new a genre to be allotted a slot in many venues. “Romantic suspense with a supernatural twist” was as close as I could get.

As for being hard to pull it together, no, it wasn’t. The story was in my head, and I realized the arc of the character was the most important element for me. Her growth, self-determination, finding her power, both in real life and in her gift, drive the story. The romance, the media pressure, the new family, and the danger are all subplots that stress her and bring her to her knees. Almost.

Writing it as Eva, in my head, simply drove it along, and I didn’t spend much time worrying about genre. I know many people can write to genre, but I prefer to go with the creative flow, as much as possible, and then figure out where it fits. Backwards, perhaps, but that is creativity for me. The story just wanted to be told.

FQ: Is there a "real" backstory that inspired the storyline (or part of it) or is Eva purely a creative work? 

SOLOMON: My years working hard at helping people heal, as a homeopath and nutritionist, are what qualifies as backstory for this novel. My compassion for people suffering led me to fantasize about being able to touch people and heal them. Plus, ever since I was a child, my bucket list has contained a yearning to swim with dolphins. So, vicariously, if only in my head, I fulfilled two dreams.

FQ: With Eva's desire to be a veterinarian and the strong animal theme running throughout the story, I suspect that you, too, are an animal lover. Am I correct? Do you share this desire to help animals with Eva? Do you have any pets? Did you ever have a dream to be a veterinarian or another job helping animals (communicator, trainer, vet tech)?

SOLOMON: I am very much an animal lover. I tend to be more comfortable with them than with people, being a complete introvert, and more and more reclusive as the years go by. My husband and I have three dogs, two English Cocker Spaniels and an English Setter. And a half-Siamese kitty. They are the joys of my life. I hold them for long minutes, eyes closed, meditating on the love I feel for them. It is blissful!

As for being a veterinarian, I am too sensitive, too soft, soppy, too compassionate, and I don’t know how I would control my emotions when an animal was suffering. You have to have strong control over your emotions for that work, and I admire those who do. It was hard enough when I treated people…

FQ: In Eva's world, sick animals are healed through supernatural abilities. I found this a very heartwarming concept. Is this something you've imagined for a long time and wanted to put into one of your stories? Do you believe that animals have spirits that their human friends can connect to?

SOLOMON: Yes, animals have spirits just as we do. For me, mankind has been guilty of arrogance regarding the treatment of animals, and I hope and pray that day is soon over. We all share this planet, and I don’t believe humans have any more right to its resources than other species on Earth. This is a passion for me.

Not only does every cat or dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of “owning” have a different personality, each has feelings. And I don’t just mean feeling pain, which of course they do. They feel embarrassment, for example. I was playing with my little black cat, Fudgie, with a feather on a rod, on the bed, and she leaped into the air to catch it. One time she misjudged her landing and slid down between the end of the bed and the bench at the bottom of the bed. There was nothing to hurt her, it was soft, but we laughed. We laughed. She stayed under the bed and wouldn’t come out, wouldn’t look at me. When she finally reappeared, she was not hurt at all, of course, but had been embarrassed, or even angry that we laughed at her. I’ve seen examples like this many times.

And how about animals' ability to connive? That takes brains and cunning. We had a beautiful English Setter named Feather, who was obsessed with a robin’s nest in a lilac, with a few babies in it, chirping. Drove her crazy. We kept demanding she leave the area alone, and I must have said “No!” a hundred times. She would back away, then sneak all the way around the house, thinking she could slink around unobserved and get under that lilac. And when I caught her doing it, she stopped abruptly and looked around innocently. “La la la, here I am, what a nice day, just happened to be here…. La la la.” It was too funny.

That spirit in an animal that I can feel when I hold them and meditate, quietly, focusing on them, is the energy that Eva connects with when she heals them. But how I wish I knew how she does it!

FQ: I love how you portrayed the media - how they had to get their hands on the story of Eva and try to ruin her happiness (through their carelessness). Was this meant (perhaps only in passing but still...) as a statement on today's media and how they seem to jump on stories quickly, with no thought to the lives they may be destroying? And how, once the story is "used up," they move on to the next big story?

SOLOMON: I was famous for a while in the UK, and the media was bad enough then! Now it seems the bottom-line drives everything, and photographers and journalists fight to get candid shots, with no mind to the privacy of the celebrity. Or even the slightest attention to their own sense of decency. You phrased it perfectly in your question; yes, they jump on stories with little regard for the consequences of their actions and use up a story (or a person) and move on. It makes me cringe.

FQ: Speaking of the "enthusiasm" of the media, the death threats that Eva received sound all too real, again in today's world. Why do you think people today seem so eager to embrace their "side" in whatever story is currently playing and make such evil threats to others? Is it the anonymity of the internet? Or maybe just the breakdown of society?

SOLOMON: Oh boy, how long have you got for an answer? I think you have hit on a great deal of the issue with the anonymity of the internet. I believe people say things online that they’d never in a million years say in person to someone. My husband has a rather coarse term for it, but I shall just say it’s “Cyber Courage.”

I think too positively to believe we are really approaching the breakdown of society. And my personal experience every day is evidence to the contrary. People are angry and treat each other poorly on Twitter or Facebook, but when I am in Market Basket or Trader Joe’s I have no idea what someone’s political affiliation is, or know any of their other beliefs. And almost everyone is universally nice. They are helpful; they help you reach something on a high shelf. They say excuse me, smile at you. I make a point of watching out for a pretty scarf, nice hair, cute dress, and complement a woman on it. And I am jazzed and thrilled by the huge smile I get for that small kindness. I don’t think people are becoming evil, I think the current atmosphere of partisanship, fueled by social media and opposite “news” channels, has created a strange current of venom that I thought I’d never see. Online mostly.

I hope it settles out somehow without deteriorating further.

FQ: Your biography is quite interesting - you've had so many different, and amazing jobs/careers/interests! While planning on going to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, you were discovered playing guitar at a party and your singing career began. Is singing/music your first love?

SOLOMON: It was for many years, starting at about four or five years old, when I found it easy to sing harmonies with my sister, then loved being in choirs and chorus groups until I was given my own TV series. I just found it so easy that it never occurred to me that could be a career; I was bent on acting!

I don’t sing much anymore since I am now not pleased with the sound. I have been focused on writing for the last decade. The vocal instrument is a muscle, and it atrophies a bit with disuse. And I am passionate about writing now. It is like acting for me; as I built Eva’s character, I started writing as her and it is very like my experience when taking on a role on stage. The difference is, in this creative act, I am able to create the dialogue and narration as well! It is fabulous fun.

FQ: Having a friend who struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I was fascinated by your experiences and how you were helped by a "German homeopathic system of healing, plus nutrition, and diet..." There are a lot of people who struggle with similar issues - what would you tell them about the path you followed and how you were helped?

SOLOMON: I wrote a book that answers that question. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; a guide to the homeopathic treatment of CFS/M.E.

In the nineties, after a period of prolonged stress and my father’s death, I came down with the flu and never recovered. Rest didn’t work. Exercise was impossible. I couldn’t sleep, so I never felt better in the morning. My first waking thought was "Oh my God, another day. How on earth do I get through it?" There was no reprieve from the never-ending headaches, body and muscle aches, and the inexplicable, all-consuming fatigue. Imagine you flew from L.A. to Bangkok (16 hours or so), with the flu, and a hangover, and then add the sensation that you’ve drunk five cups of coffee so you can’t sleep. When you do sleep, it is a light, floating, semi-sleep full of horrible dreams, and you wake up over and over and over again. So, the nights go on forever, but you feel no better in the morning. You just hurt all over like someone has hit you with a baseball bat about 40 times, and you honestly wish you were dead. That’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Over the next seven years, I tried every possible modality. First, of course, were the orthodox physicians, three of them. No help at all. Just the offer of anti-depressants. I also tried, oh, so many alternative practitioners, who, while more caring people, couldn’t seem to help, either. I would find a bit of improvement from herbs, a chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, or whatever, but it would not hold, and I’d sink right back down. I sought out naturopaths, acupuncturists, Chinese herbalists, chiropractors, a DO, massage therapy. I even tried hypnotherapy in case I had somehow brought this all on myself and therefore my mind could undo it. I felt guilty contemplating that I had somehow done this to myself. But nothing I tried was of much use, certainly nothing lasting. I spent a fortune, was unable to work at the time, and was terrified. And very depressed about it. It truly felt like a lifetime, those years of suffering, and thoughts of suicide haunted me. I know it was cowardice that prevented it, not any sense of hope. That was long gone.

Then I tried homeopathy – goodness knows why I did not find it sooner. A Los Angeles-based homeopath recommended I take a remedy made from the Coxsackie virus. I took three doses over 24 hours and then promptly experienced a full-blown aggravation. Any tenuous balance or coping I was holding on to vanished. I fell into bed – boy, did it ever make me sick! I was much worse; for about a week and a half I felt as if I had the full-blown flu again. It scared me, I can tell you.

But then it was over. At about the ten-day mark, I just woke up. Everything felt different. There was no pain, no foggy feeling in the head, much less exhaustion, no swollen glands, no sore throat, no sore muscle points. I was still tired, weak, still had some mild IBS and gut problems, and the occasional inherited tendency to migraines that I had experienced for years before the CFS. But the majority of the symptoms were gone, and I was a consistent 80-85% better. No relapse. Then I got to work to mop up the other symptoms, allergies, etc. And began studying homeopathy at the British Institute of Homeopathy in London.

I have since helped many people with CFS to recover some or most of their health with a remedy similar to Coxsackie. It might be another virus, such as Influenza or Cytomegalovirus, or even the Mononucleosis EBV virus. This is not to say that I think everyone with CFS will recover this dramatically with the use of a viral nosode, but it certainly can be a part of the picture needing to be addressed. Or at least viral involvement must be eliminated as a cause.

FQ: What's next for Diane Solomon? Is there another novel in the works that might follow Eva further on her journey? Or another book (fiction or non-fiction) that you are currently working on?

SOLOMON: I am laying out the next novel, this one I will write with my husband Mark Carey. He is brilliant, both as an ideas person and as a wordsmith, and it’s a joy to brainstorm with him. The new novel will be called Dream Traveler, a time-travel mystery.

Plus, I have a series of non-fiction health eBooks, called Healing Therapies that Work from my experience as a homeopathic practitioner. The first is Ear Infections, the second is Allergies. Both of these conditions respond very well to homeopathic remedies. The next in the series that is almost ready to publish is The Homeopathic Treatment of Depression and Anxiety, and I have seven more topics in the series.

Back to fiction and what fun it is, too! I am noodling around with the ideas for the second book in the Eva Chronicles, and even a third is coming clear. So, I have my work cut out. But the good news? I don’t find it work!

#BookReview of Vandella: Resilience (Vandella Series, Book 2)

Vandella: Resilience (Vandella Series, Book 2)

By: M. Ch. Landa
Publisher: Landa Publishings LLC
Publication Date: November 15, 2023
Reviewed by: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: September 11, 2023
So...on a personal note...a little over a year ago I wrote my first review for Feathered Quill and it was for a book titled Vandella. I said at that time that it was one of the best books I ever read and I was very grateful that it was the first book that I had worked on in my new part-time career. Here we are 14 months later and I have to say that Vandella: Resilience, which is book two in this series, may have actually outdone the first book. M. Ch. Landa has given us a prequel to his first novel that is simply amazing.
In Vandella: Resilience, we as readers now get to understand the story of Peach, the grandmother of the main character from the first book, and how she herself came to meet the Harbinger of Death. We learn how she found a way to defy all the odds in order to make her own story end with the ability to continue on in life and actually become a mother and then grandmother. In this story, readers meet a young woman named Emma, or Peach as she prefers, who lives with her mother in a small German village. With the war raging and the Nazi’s in control, Peach longs for the day when she can go back to Berlin and make a name for herself as an Olympic champion.
For now, however, Peach must head to the wedding of one of her closest friends who is marrying an SS officer in a castle. Upon arriving at Wewelsburg Castle, Peach finds her friends, her father, a possible beau in the adorable Ghislain, and so much more. While wandering around the castle, Peach stumbles upon more than she bargained for when she finds seven children who have been taken from their own parents and are being held in the dungeon. Peach is beside herself and decides she must take action. As this young girl gets the children out and escapes with them in the hopes of getting out of Germany, she finds herself becoming the mother she did not think she ever wanted to be. Along the way, Peach and the children suffer greatly as they try to deal with the shocks and fear that come with war, the loss of their virtue, and the loss of the loved ones that surround them. All of this is done while the SS officers are on the hunt for Peach and the children.
With some other friends that show up along the way, Peach does everything that she possibly can to save her newfound family and be the mother that these children deserve. In addition, as the journey goes forward, our wonderful friend Sidney, the Harbinger of Death and, in my opinion, one of the most interesting characters ever created, shows up to try to guide Peach along the way while still doing his ultimate job of collecting the souls that have been called up to make a completely different and final journey.
As with the first novel in this series, Vandella: Resilience is a truly riveting story that is perfectly written. With a very strong female protagonist in Peach and an excellent cast of supporting characters, this is a story that will grab the reader from page one and never let go. Peach is the perfect heroine. The seven children are wonderfully written and bring so much to the story as they are each so very different but have one thing in common...they all need a mother to take care of them and try to change the path of their lives. Bill and Ghislain, two men that Peach cares deeply for, are outstanding additions to the story and to her quest. And, of course, there is Sidney. A superbly written and outstanding character in the series who brings so much to the lives of the characters, even though they do not realize it and he can only actually be seen by one of them.
In addition, there is so much history involved in this story from the places, to the horror of the war, to the way of life at this point and time - all well researched and included in the story in an honest and interesting way. That alone will hold a reader’s attention as they are transported back to Germany during the war and see how the world was at that time.
All of the above comes together in a captivating story that adds more to this series than I can say on this page. While you do not have to read the first book in order to understand this one, I highly recommend that you do. Vandella: Resilience (and the first book in the series) are at the very top of my must-read list regardless of the genre of stories you enjoy. I cannot recommend this book or this author highly enough and I am so excited to see what is going to come next. I have no doubt that you will all feel the same.
Quill says: Vandella: Resilience is a superb addition to this series, filled with old and new characters that have become very near and dear to my heart. I cannot imagine anyone reading just one of these books and not falling in love with the story and the characters. It is truly spellbinding and something that I think would be an excellent addition to the big screen (hint, hint). Go out and grab a copy of this book immediately!
For more information on Vandella: Resilience (Vandella Series, Book 2), please visit the author's website at:

#AuthorInterview with Dan E. Hendrickson, author of Magi Apprentice

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with Dan E. Hendrickson, author of Magi Apprentice.
FQ: You are no stranger to the written word, having authored eight novels, including your most recent, Magi Apprentice. It appears that Magi Apprentice is your first book that is based on Christianity rather than a secular story. What was the inspiration behind the shift to this kind of story?
HENDRICKSON: I have been a Christian minister for 35 years. My other books, though secular, have many Christian themes and principles woven into the fabric of their stories. I have always loved reading the Bible and find great satisfaction in delving into the accounts of people’s lives in its pages. When considering the Wise Men of Matthew chapter two, I have always wondered about their backgrounds, motivation, and logistics of their journey to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. My inspiration to write about their stories started when I first realized who they were and how their disciplines of astronomical studies originated. Some of this you can find from the Bible itself and some from historical research. After learning about them in ministering school and beyond, I just naturally wanted to tell a story about who they were and how they might have been able to accomplish their journey.
FQ: With your degree in Practical Theology, did you find that you already knew most of the background knowledge necessary for writing this story, or was it necessary to conduct research in order to write Magi Apprentice?
HENDRICKSON: My education as a minister gave me much of what I needed to tell the story, but it was the research I continued to do about the eastern magi that finally enabled me to put the story together.
FQ: You share that you picked up on your father’s love of the written word when you decided to major in journalism in college. Would you credit your father with being the motivation for you starting to write novels?
HENDRICKSON: Absolutely, my dad was an English professor and the most prolific reader I have ever known. My brother and I used to marvel at his ability to read 2 or 3 full-length novels a week. He also loved to write poetry and plays. I only wish he were alive today because he would have been my primary editor and would have helped me bring my stories along.
FQ: Once you got your degree in journalism, where did your career path take you? In your bio, you share you discovered that you had an aptitude for investigative reporting, but it sounds like you did not pursue it for very long. Was it simply not enjoyable to you?
HENDRICKSON: It was in college when I felt the calling to become a Christian Minister. Though I worked in the newspaper industry as a reporter while still in college and had good success in tracking down and reporting interesting stories, I just felt that I wanted to be a minister instead.
FQ: Martial arts seem to be an important part of your life, both studying it as a student yourself and teaching it to others. Can you share a bit about how you became involved in this sport?
HENDRICKSON: In high school, I competed in an AAU boxing league in Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. During that time, I also studied Judo. I was the competition that I was good at, and back then, it helped channel my more aggressive tendencies to a safer outlet. When I went to college, I joined a school called Bill Shaw Kung Fu and Karate in Casper, Wyoming. Bill turned out to be a celebrity in the martial arts community having choreographed fight scenes for movies like Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles, Get Carter, Sylvester Stallone, and Shootfighter with Billy Zabka. Bill’s combination of being one of the best Martial Artists in the country and knowing how to make it look real and exciting in a movie had a big effect on me. I thought that his know-how would be valuable in learning how to put good fight scenes into words and could be profitable. Turns out that every fight scene he’d ever choreographed had to be written out and put into a script first. He shared some of this technique with his students to show us how to articulate and teach our style to other students. Later in life, I used these methods in my books.
FQ: As Magi Apprentice is a work of historical fiction, how did you make the determination of which characters to include in your story that were historical figures from the time period and which characters you created for the story?
Author Dan E. Hendrickson

HENDRICKSON: Well, very little is known about the Wise Men that visited the child Jesus and his parents in Matthew 2. What we know is that they were Magi from the East. The Magi of that time period were as diversified as the religious denominations today. So, the fictional characters I made up were made up from the templates of what I could find about those different religions in the Parthian, Median, and Arabic cultures. Rassan, my main character, is depicted as the son of Parthia’s most famous general, Surena, who defeated the Roman Army of Marcus Crassus at Carrhae. That victory was the greatest achieved by the Parthian Empire. Surena was outnumbered 4 to 1. 79,000 Roman soldiers were annihilated by 20,000 Parthian calvary and archers. This historical fact gave my main character a lot of ground to move in and out of Parthian Culture, including the Magi, with ease. The fixed historical characters like Phraates IV and V, Herod the Great and others, gave me the framework to develop my story plausibly. The main thrust behind the narrative of Magi Apprentice is the endeavor to show how a bunch of Eastern Magi could enter the kingdom of Israel, gain entourage into Herod the Greats presence and procure help from him to find someone that these magi believed would replace him and his family’s rule. Without giving away any spoilers, I will just encourage those interested in reading the book and find out how it has them accomplishing this phenomenon.
FQ: The drawings of the constellations toward the end of the book were a welcome surprise as I was reading. What was your motivation for including these, and did you do the drawings of them yourself?
HENDRICKSON: The drawings were made by the same person who did the cover art. She is a brilliant oil painting artist named Carla Phillips. I had her draw them to look like some type of note taking the magi would do as they observed the pertinent astronomical configurations. They are historically accurate renditions of the configurations that occurred at the dates cited in the book. My motivation was to display the genuine accuracy of the astronomical configurations that many renowned scholars believe are the ones that declare the birth of Christ.
FQ: How did writing Magi Apprentice, a story based on Christianity, differ from writing all your previous secular novels?
HENDRICKSON: Research, research, research. Magi Apprentice is the most intensely researched book I have written to date. Staying accurate with dates, events, and culture of the time was a major focus of my research. Outside of that writing, it was the same as the others. I thought that telling the tale from an action adventure, romance and thriller perspective would make it more enjoyable to read.
FQ: What was your motivation for wanting to write a book based on the story of Herod and the Magi?
HENDRICKSON: I have been fascinated by the ancient astronomers from the east that could see and understand the astronomical conjunctions that declared the birth of Christ since my youth. Telling a story about them just developed naturally over the years.