Monday, April 29, 2024

#AuthorInterview with Clint Adams, author of LIve & Learn

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Clint Adams, author of Live & Learn: A Retiree's Guide to Keep Going.

FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?

ADAMS: Well, I’ve been around a while. So have others. I’m hoping they (near-retirees, retirees, seniors) will be able to embrace their worth, their purpose after their careers have come to an end. Live & Learn: A Retiree’s Guide to Keep Going is written for them.

These last 30+ years of my life have been lived exclusively to learn, accept and be grateful. In 1991, I had a life-changing event that altered my life dramatically. These years were/are my university and have provided me with the authority to share my knowledge and wisdom with you, the reader.

Life’s lessons learned lend credibility. At 66, I unequivocally believe lessons learned are our life’s purpose.

FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.

ADAMS: Live & Learn is about the infinite power of lessons learned. Several of my lessons (tests, obstacles, etc.) are shared for the purpose of you reflecting on your own. Optional exercises exist at the end of every chapter for you to recognize and appreciate what you've intentionally learned from them.

Written for people of ALL ages because personal development (of any kind) adds meaning to life. Whether you're younger or more mature, if you're always on the go or slowing down, your soul's stopwatch remains perpetually active.

Genre: Spiritual self-help for seniors; mid-life management; motivational.

Different because it’s a spiritual book that refers to no set, established spiritual practice or religion. All about learning from life itself. Period.

FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?

ADAMS: Through observation and research, I discovered a colossal need right in my own backyard. At a gym in Silicon Valley, California, the land of über-achievers. These are folks I admire completely, but what about when their careers come to an end? All that built-up ambition and desire to achieve? What’s next for them when they face retirement? This is when many ask, “Why?” “Why did I live this life?” “What does it mean?” “Why am I here?”

Live & Learn provides the answer. It’s meant to keep them going. Not to achieve but to learn from the life they’ve lived and continue to live. Lessons learned = life’s true purpose. Accepting this provides much needed value for those who wonder what’s next.

FQ: Where do you think you’ve improved the most in your writing process and ability and how do you think you have evolved? 

ADAMS: Easy, one of the lessons that was provided to me I chose to learn from: compassion for others. I spent most of my early life being quite self-involved and I feel that my awareness of others now is reflected in my current writing.

Live & Learn is mostly written in the second person (you). Many self-help books are. All about the reader. Non-fiction pure and simple. No story, no plot or character development. The reader is the protagonist, and the story is theirs.

I love switching genres, but writing this book seems to have been the most natural. Grateful to have had the opportunity to write it. After having previously written in first and third, second person is my favorite.

FQ: How do you approach a new story and when you set pen to paper, is there a specific process you follow (or do you just write and let your story take the lead to where it must go)?

ADAMS: Another adage: Mostly every reader (when reading) sees themselves within the story, whether fact or fiction. They are ghost protagonists. The content presented in Live & Learn is cumulative. One tip builds upon the previous. The reader is asked to draw upon their own experiences and lessons.

My hope is that the reader will want to remain engaged, because motivation grows as much as each page is turned. Whether they participate in the (optional) exercises that exist at the end of every chapter or not, they, should conceivably be wiser at THE END than they were on the first page of Chapter 1.

FQ: If you were to teach a class on the art of writing, what is the one item you would be sure to share with your students and how would you inspire them to get started?

ADAMS: One? How about one thousand? OK, one that should be new to no one: “Write what you know.” This is a staple in every Creative Writing 101 class, but it’s true. It’s true because there’s nothing more powerful than the truth. And, in my opinion, truth is indeed more interesting than fiction.

A synonym for truth: authenticity. Even when writing creatively, fiction works best when it’s believable. Nothing more potent than that.

FQ: How did you approach the need to keep readers engaged and tuned in to keep turning those pages?

ADAMS: Another adage: Mostly every reader (when reading) sees themselves within the story, whether fact or fiction. They are ghost protagonists. The content presented in Live & Learn is cumulative. One tip builds upon the previous. The reader is asked to draw upon their own experiences and lessons.

My hope is that the reader will want to remain engaged, because motivation grows as much as each page is turned. Whether they participate in the (optional) exercises that exist at the end of every chapter or not, they, should conceivably be wiser at THE END than they were on the first page of Chapter 1.

FQ: Why did you decide to write this book? Did you see a need?

ADAMS: To a certain extent, this question has already been answered, but let’s get real. Honest. At 65, last year, when looking back at my life (as many others do at this age), I saw failure. Or to be most precise, by societal standards, I have been a massive failure. Not many of my goals were attained, I achieved little success until I realized that accomplishing and achieving have nothing at all to do with our true life’s purpose.

My life over the past 30+ years has revolved around all things spiritual. When I look back from a more enlightened perspective, I chose to learn from circumstances I never would have chosen. Now, I am thankful for them all merely because I learned from them. My life, looking back, is filled with value and worth because of what I’ve chosen to learn from it. (No ego, but...) My life has been hugely successful. I hope readers see their lives the same way.

FQ: How much research went into writing your book?

ADAMS: Like I already said, my research has been my ability to look back to my own experiences. But, I know, that’s not sufficient. In the 200+ pages of Live & Learn, I cite about forty-five sources, articles from highly credible sources (The Washington Post, Boston School of Medicine, Yahoo! Finance, and more). Statistics, accumulated data, studies, interviews all available to the reader via live links (in all ebook editions of Live & Learn). Links are also listed in the Notes section of the print editions.

Now, research continues as I make my best effort to match up the content of this book with its target market (near-retirees, retirees). Market research is never ending.

FQ: Tell us about your research process? Where did you go, how much time you spent, travel to other parts of the country, world, etc.

ADAMS: The most valuable tool available to any writer: the Internet. In many instances, I added these citations after the fact. I had already written the content, then to add authenticity, credibility to any notion I’d already come up with, I wanted to bolster proof, validation. So, I did. My goal was to add at least two professional sources to every chapter. It makes a difference, especially to those that may question my authority.

On a side note, related to travel, having lived in different countries added to my perspective. In 2004, I became an Italian citizen. I kept my American passport as well, but I learned so much from becoming acquainted with other ways of life. From 2004-2011, I lived in Italy, Denmark, Germany, Spain, and England.

Right off the back, Italians reminded me that, “We work to live. You Americans live to work.” Yikes! Italians are the second longest-living population on Earth. Maybe for a reason.

FQ: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

ADAMS: Saying “goodbye” to the reader. Written in second person like I’d said, I saw this whole creative writing experience as a conversation. A back and forth. I took the readers’ needs as seriously as my own. No difference between my needs and those reading my words. We’re in this together. If I have the capacity to help one reader via the creation and publication of this book, LIVE & LEARN is a tremendous success.

For more information on Live & Learn: A Retiree's Guide to Keep Going, please visit the author's website at:

Saturday, April 27, 2024

#BookReview of The Changed Man (The Olympic Peninsula Series, Book 4)

The Changed Man (The Olympic Peninsula Series, Book 4)

By: Cat Treadgold
Publication Date: February 25, 2024
ISBN: 979-8987736340
Reviewed by: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: April 26, 2024
Having read all of the books in The Olympic Peninsula series, I can say that author Cat Treadgold has outdone herself with The Changed Man. This series is getting better with each new story and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the romance genre or simply a fan of great writing.
In The Changed Man, readers once again get to meet Jake O’Connell, the twin brother of Joe who was prominent in the first book in the series, The Silent Woodsman. Jake shows up in the town of Port Townsend for his brother David’s wedding. Having not seen his family in a number of years, it is a shock when he knocks on the front door. He offers everyone in the family yet another shock when he announces that he has chosen to step down from running the family business. Jake has devoted his life to running the business, while his brothers and sister have stepped away from this career and followed their own passions. Jake is ready to change his life now as well and continue on his secret career as a best-selling author of spy novels.
At the wedding, he meets Chiara, a quiet and plain Italian woman who came to the United States as a student and became a social worker. In the States, she met and married Arnold. Having left her job behind, she took over the care of David’s son Lorenzo and tried to convince herself and those around her that she was happy and that she had a good marriage. The first time she sees Jake, she is completely captivated, but there is still the matter of her husband. Will they be able to make things work, and will Jake’s family, especially his mother, accept his decisions and welcome him back into the family fold?
The Changed Man is an excellent story that reminds readers it is never too late to change your life and follow your dreams. The story is very well-written and the characters, both familiar faces and new ones, are extremely well-developed and keep things interesting throughout every moment of the story. Jake is one of the best characters that the author has given us. Having appeared in the first book, he was a person who all would love to hate. In this story we get to see the real Jake and watch as he literally transforms in front of our eyes into a man who you can care about and route for. Chiara is a sweet, mouse-like character in the beginning but, as she spends more time with the O’Connell’s and with Jake while her husband is not around, we witness the changes in her and can understand why Jake falls for her so quickly.
Cat Treadgold’s storytelling is so apparent in this book. The writing is descriptive and places the reader right there in the middle of the action. She has a talent for being able to keep all of the characters and subplots (and there are a lot of them in this story) running along like a perfectly oiled machine. This lets the reader care for everyone and understand everything that is going on as the story builds and ends.
Sometimes, the books in a series get a little less interesting with each new story, but this series does exactly the opposite, with every new story getting better than the last. The Changed Man is a story of love, transforming, healing, and family, with just a bit of the paranormal included to make it interesting. With such a wonderful cast of characters, I have no doubt that Cat Treadgold has another success on her hands!
Quill says: The Changed Man is an excellent addition to a wonderful series.
For more information on The Changed Man (The Olympic Peninsula Series, Book 4), please visit the author's website at:

Thursday, April 25, 2024

#Bookreview o f Marvin's Little Mermaid by Deborah Stevenson

Marvin's Little Mermaid

By: Deborah Stevenson
Illustrated by: Stella Maris
Publisher: Notable Kids Publishing
Publication Date: April 16, 2024
ISBN: 978-1735853567
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: April 23, 2024
A lonely young boy wishes for a friend, and that dream comes true in an amazing way in award-winning author Deborah Stevenson's newest children's book, Marvin's Little Mermaid.
Marvin has moved to a new town, and he really, really misses all his friends back in his old town. It's just no fun doing things all by himself. And that's why he almost didn't go to the carnival. But he did go, and once there, he wasn't sure it was a good idea. just wasn't much fun without his friends. As Marvin walked around the carnival, he saw a sign - "The Great Magnifico - Know Your Fortune" above a fortune teller machine. The young boy slipped a dollar in the slot. The machine made some noises, and out came Marvin's fortune.
As Marvin walked away, he read his fortune. "Your Wish Will Come True." Marvin played along and made a wish...he closed his eyes...waited...and nothing. That was a waste of a dollar. Poor Marvin was even more depressed as he continued to wander around the carnival. He went on some rides and even walked through Hannibal's House of Mirrors, but nothing was fun without friends. That was until he tried his luck at winning a goldfish.
For a dollar, Marvin received three balls. Ball one...missed. Ball two...missed. Ball three...missed...but actually, it hit a girl's forehead...and then plopped into a glass bowl filled with water and Marvin's new goldfish! But when he was handed the bag with the goldfish, the fish talked to him! Marvin stared in disbelief. It wasn't a goldfish but a mermaid! "Greetings. I'm Stella," said Marvin's new best friend.
The next few days were filled with great fun for Marvin and Stella. They shared gummy bears, played Go Fish, and when Stella mentioned she missed her home, Marvin turned the bathtub into Stella's new home away from home. The friends continued to have fun, but Stella still missed her home. What could Marvin do to help his new best friend?
I have read/reviewed several of Deborah Stevenson's children's books and have thoroughly enjoyed every one. Like all of Stevenson's books, Marvin's Little Mermaid is a very unique and creative story that also teaches a life lesson. In order to help Stella, Marvin makes a very difficult decision that puts the needs of others above his own. But his sacrifice is rewarded by a surprise ending that readers will love. Many readers will also see themselves in Marvin - how many children feel alone at one time or another? The author and illustrator have collaborated on several other books and it shows here as the drawings perfectly compliment the story. Even the end pages, decorated with goldfish, seashells, and gummy bears, show the attention to detail that these two creative artists have brought to each of their projects.
Quill says: Marvin's Little Mermaid is a delightful book that young readers will love, especially those who have found themselves alone at one time or another (and isn't that most children?).
For more information on Marvin's Little Mermaid, please visit the publisher's website at:

#AuthorInterview with Behcet Kaya, author of Uncanny Alliance

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Tripti Kandari is talking with Behcet Kaya, author of Uncanny Alliance: A Jack Ludefance Novel.

FQ: There are foreshadowing elements throughout the narrative, such as the Bitcoin intrigue at the beginning and the characters' suspicious behaviors. Was it difficult to strike a balance between foreshadowing and maintaining suspense? Was there a concern of disclosing too much too soon?

KAYA: Foreshadowing, which has been used in all forms of literature for centuries, is a balancing act for all writers. Too much and the story is given away too soon. Too little and there is not enough tension for the reader to keep reading. In writing a PI series it is an invaluable tool. PI’s are by nature introspective and intuitive. They must be in order to solve a case which is their ultimate goal. In writing this series I imagine myself as Jack Ludefance. I must think like him, feel like him, act like him. Because I write from the heart, there are times when I have given away too much too soon and my editor will critique the scene and help me pull back on the narrative. That is why every writer must have an editor he or she trusts to pull back when necessary.

FQ: The murky world of cryptocurrency plays a crucial role in the storyline. What inspired you to incorporate cryptocurrencies into the plot?

KAYA: Pick up any newspaper, or listen to any news station and there are horror stories of people being scammed out of thousands, millions, even billions of dollars. It is the latest get rich quick scheme gone bad. I actually foreshadowed cryptocurrency in Appellate Judge.

FQ: Can you describe your ideal writing environment? What time of day or specific place do you find most conducive to creativity or writing?

KAYA: All my writing is done in Starbucks. There are three all in close proximity to me and I alternate as to which one I go to. I like being surrounded by people as I lose myself in my writing with a Grande Americano sitting next to my laptop. A true story: I had started talking with a gentleman about my writing at one of the Starbucks he frequents daily. The next week when I went to that particular Starbucks, he came to me with a copy of my first novel, Voice of Conscience, for me to sign. After I left I found out he’d told the staff he knew a writer. Because the cover of the book is quite intriguing, they asked what kind of book it was. He explained he had just started reading it but that the author comes in quite frequently. The next time I went to that Starbucks he was there and told the staff, “Here’s the writer!” One of barristers said, “Oh, that’s Ben! We know him, but we didn’t know he was a writer!” From that time on the staff have started reading my novels.

FQ: Rudy is an engaging character with a distinct skill set in hacking and technology. How do you see this character progressing in future books?

Author Behcet Kaya

KAYA: Rudy was introduced in Body in the Woods, the second novel in the series. An unusual young man, his character is being developed and deepened in each successive novel. Finding out Rudy was an orphan was a pivotal moment in the relationship between them. Because Rudy’s talents are invaluable and an integral part of solving the crimes Jack finds himself taking on increasing responsibilities for his well being and stepping in as a father figure.

FQ: Speaking of Rudy, are you ever concerned that Rudy's crucial involvement in investigations may overshadow Jack's role as primary investigator?

KAYA: I doubt very much Rudy would ever overshadow Ludefance. Remember NCIS? Jethro is the boss and has many skilled computer nerds working for him. Rudy’s hacking skills are unique and Jack’s intuitive skills are unique. Together they make a team.

FQ: Do you have an outline for the whole Jack Ludefance PI series in advance? Or do you let each book develop spontaneously while adhering to an overarching narrative framework?

KAYA: No, I don’t have an outline for the entire series. Each novel in the series is conceived individually through moments of inspiration from various sources. Once the inspiration takes hold, I begin developing the story in my head before I even start typing the first chapter. I know the beginning, the middle and the end with that I begin adding all the details. As I finish each chapter my wife will do a first edit over which we discuss what needs adding or deleting.

FQ: Kingsley University is more than simply a setting in the novel; it's almost a character. Can you discuss any real-life institutions or experiences that influenced its creation?

KAYA: The first paragraph in the novel describes Kingsley University as I envisioned it in my mind. I had been itching to write a murder mystery involving academic circles. By using the location of a fictitious private university, I had more leeway in describing the physical characteristics as they pertained to the development of the storyline.

FQ: Your bio indicates your acting experience. What connections do you find between playing a character on stage or film and portraying a character in writing?

KAYA: To tell you the truth, when I analyze a character in a script that I have been given to play, I compare the character with my own, incorporating myself into and becoming that character. I use the same technique when developing the characters in my novels.

FQ: Lastly, can you tell us about your journey to become a published author? What advice do you have for budding authors navigating the publication industry?

KAYA: If you have an itch to write, if there is story percolating in your head, listen to your heart and write. Just write. All the rest will follow.

#Bookreview of Uncanny Alliance: A Jack Ludefance Novel

Uncanny Alliance: A Jack Ludefance Novel

By: Behcet Kaya
Publication Date: April 14, 2024
ISBN: 979-8322440970
Reviewed by: Tripti Kandari
An installment in the Jack Ludefance PI series, Uncanny Alliance, unfolds in the prestigious academic halls of Kingsley University – a murder mystery with each twist raising the stake, crafting a maze of intrigue where truth becomes ever more elusive.
A shocking murder has devastated the sacred walls of Kingsley University. A student discovers the body of controversial Professor Zambear in a distressing state, and lo and behold, the likely perpetrator is his wife, Stella Zambear. James Kingsley calls on the savvy private investigator Jack Ludefance to clear his daughter's name in the murder. In light of Stella's disclosure of her chaotic marriage and the darker aspects of their relationship, complexities lure Jack into a web of suspicion. Yet, little does he know the extent of deception and intrigue that await him as he lunges further into the case...
As Jack delves deeper into the investigation, he unravels the growing mystery of Professor Zambear's contentious cryptocurrency involvements. To add to the chaos, there is another murder right on the college grounds. Khole Rivers, extensively involved in the realm of cryptocurrency and likely holding crucial clues in the case, is found murdered on university premises. River's extensive knowledge of Zambear's covert crypto dealings, coupled with his implication of Zambear in a theft scheme, hints at the tragic circumstances that led to his untimely demise. With this grim speculation, it is clear that a treacherous environment fraught with peril confronts Jack in his pursuit of truth and justice.
Jack soon uncovers additional suspects, each harboring their motives and secrets. Zoey Harrington, a university police officer present on the night of Zambear's murder, enters the fray with a composed demeanor that masks a past clouded by aliases and mysterious behavior. Zoey's connection with Aaliyah Konuku, a key figure intertwined with Zambear in the past, offers a potential breakthrough in unraveling the mystery. However, Aaliyah's disappearance suggests a deliberate absence, adding another layer of intrigue to the puzzle. Another suspect emerges with Professor Maria Cornell, a complex character with a military background and suspected ties to criminal activity. Despite Zambear and Cornell's professional façade, their history reveals a turbulent relationship beneath the surface.
With each step Jack takes to unravel riddles at Kingsley University, he gets closer to the threat lurking in the shadows, apparent when a Russian assassin attempts to silence him and prevent further investigation. Jack and his right-hand man, Rudy, engage in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. Jack must tread carefully, as the truth may prove more elusive and dangerous than anticipated.
A contrast between appearance and truth emerges throughout Uncanny Alliance. The site of the murders, Kinglsey University, exemplifies this dichotomy since it provides the illusion of intellectual distinction while concealing scandalous truths. Also, as the murder investigation progresses, Zambear, who was formerly seen as a respectful professor, emerges as a dark character involved in illicit crypto transactions and shady relationships with students. The same is true for his wife Stella, who initially appears to be a grieving widow before later revealing herself to have had a stormy marital life, implying that her external demeanor may conceal her inner thoughts. This appearance vs. reality theme repeats throughout the story, as the suspects often show themselves one way while camouflaging their true sentiments. The theme depicts complicated human conduct in a world where outer appearances can conceal deeper truths and actual intents.
The author uses rich images and evocative language to create a dramatic atmosphere, transporting readers from the hidden and distinguished walls of Kingsley University to the remote landscapes of Alabama. With twisted and surprising twists, the dense web of characters and plot may compel readers to engage thoroughly with the thriller. Also, some narrative sections may linger, allowing readers to take up the atmosphere and nuances. Readers of the Jack Ludefance PI series will also enjoy the presence of familiar individuals, which ensures comfortable familiarity in the unfolding narrative.
Quill says: Uncanny Alliance tracks PI Jack Ludefance as he navigates the murky depths of cryptocurrency underground and unravels the thread of a chilling murder mystery.
For more information on Uncanny Alliance: A Jack Ludefance Novel, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, April 22, 2024

#Bookreview of 10-Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors

10-Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors: Simple Illustrated Workout Guide for Core Strength, Balance, and Flexibility to Prevent Injuries and Lose Weight in Under 30 Days

Publisher: PrimeLife Wellness
Publication Date: April 2, 2024
ISBN: 978-1915710598
Reviewed by: Douglas C. MacLeod, Jr.
Review Date: April 15, 2024
10- Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors, published by PrimeLife Wellness and written by lead author, James Evans, is an informative follow-up to 10-Minute Balance Exercises for Seniors, published earlier this year (2024). This newest text, however, is more about keeping our elderly population limber to ensure they stay fit during their golden years, and to do so in a manageable and economically viable way. As we age, so does our body and, as Evans astutely points out, much of the body’s breakdown happens because of a lack of exercise. Evans writes that “your body adapts to whatever demands you regularly place on it,” (pg. 5) so if we do not work at keeping active, an inevitable dwindling of muscle mass will occur. Thus, these chair exercises are meant to help readers build back muscle without the “purchase [of] expensive gym equipment or [a commitment] to regularly commuting to a public gym.” (pg. 6)
The introduction to 10-Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors sets the pace for the rest of the work, which is well-organized and easy to read. There is a positive and persuasive tone to Evans’s content, which came about with the help of multiple professional fitness experts and has simple instructions to ensure the person performing the exercise does not get hurt. Evans spends time on the human body’s adaptability, even if that body is not in shape; on what chair exercises are; and on why chair exercises should be performed. He also writes about PrimeLife Wellness, which provides readers with some insight into what the company’s goal is: for the elderly to do five-to-ten minutes of exercise a day to prolong life, help prevent heart attacks and unexpected falls, and “increase your balance, coordination, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and muscular power.” (pg. 😎
Evans establishes that the exercising elderly must prepare their bodies and equipment before they begin their regiment. First, they need a stationary, sturdy chair that is able to take the weight of the person exercising. Then the reader is given further details about the type of chair as well as other elements that might provide assistance. Evans et al. show in their first chapters they are strong critical thinkers, presenting multiple scenarios that may lead to issues that need immediate problem-solving. They understand mistakes can seriously hurt, maim, and kill those seeking their help. For obvious reasons, the writers take every possible precaution before they delve into the exercises for comfort and safety, and even writing about the exercise environment, which should be free of tripping hazards; close by to water sources and healthy snacks; and, accessible to breathable clothing and sensible footwear. In providing extensive instructions, which include breathing exercises, warm-up and cool-down regiments, and body awareness conversations, it shows PrimeLife Wellness cares for their constituency.
The next several chapters are devoted to cardio and muscular endurance; working the core, and lower/upper body; and, stretching and flexibility. Most fascinating about these chapters is the number of exercises Evans et al. presents to their readers. Having such a vast variety allows for those doing those exercises an opportunity to switch the plan whenever they wish, which in turn takes away any possible issues surrounding redundancy and complacency. Similar to 10-Minute Balance Exercises for Seniors, 10-Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors has limpid instructions and simple drawings to help those who may not stay focused, or those who may need a visual to better understand; and, a QR code and video are also available, making these exercises accessible to those who are either allistic or neurodiverse. Evans et al. made this book inclusive by including multiple forms of learning within the text, whether tech savvy or not.
By the end of the text, Evans et al. lays out a firm foundation for their aged readers. They provide the ten-minute plan, a weekly plan, and opportunities within the plan to modify. Some of these plans are at the beginning stages of the reader’s fitness journey while other plans are devoted to the more adventurous; but they leave the plan up to the people doing the exercises. They have autonomy and, ultimately, PrimeLife Wellness wants the elderly to feel more accomplished. The company recognizes how essential our elderly are. The aged should be healthy, hearty, and happy citizens, who live with the knowledge that they can be around for their families and friends, without pain and discomfort.
Quill says: 10-Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors is a strong pseudo-sequel that is more focused than its predecessor, but equally as effective in its execution.
For more information on 10-Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors: Simple Illustrated Workout Guide for Core Strength, Balance, and Flexibility to Prevent Injuries and Lose Weight in Under 30 Days, please visit the publisher's website at:

Friday, April 19, 2024

#Bookreview of What Lies Buried by Leslie Iain

What Lies Buried
By: Leslie Kain
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
ISBN: 979-8891321816
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
What Lies Buried by Leslie Kain is a fascinating psychological thriller with rich character development and a riveting storyline. It takes the reader on a journey of understanding the crippling effects of C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) while unpacking the complexities of this egregious disorder.
In the beginning, life was a storybook fairytale for Gavin and Katie DiMasi and their sweet baby girl, Maggie. They lived on the beautiful Hawaiian Island of Kauai where the Ono Kulok restaurant was their pride and joy. Gavin was its accomplished chef and quite a successful owner...and just like that, life was about to deliver some crushing blows. The DiMasi’s perfect family was on the precipice of disaster and derailment. Gavin was struggling. He was the sole remaining member alive from his extended family—his father was shot (taking a bullet that was meant for his brother, Devin). His mother is dead (a tragic fall down the stairs in his childhood home). Then there was the death of his identical twin brother Devin (who hanged himself, only to be discovered by Gavin). The death (and discovery) of his brother throws Gavin into an altered world of desperation and denial. He doesn’t trust...anyone. He has night tremors and spirals into fits of anger followed by crippling paranoia. His lifelong curse of guilt over his inability to save his twin from self-destruction consumes him. If not for the strength and support of his loving wife, Katie, and his perfect princess of a daughter, Maggie, he may have already begun his departure from sanity on a direct course to his bottomless pit of no return. However, how much longer can Katie be the strength to bring Gavin back?
As Gavin stares into the imaginary abyss of his thoughts in his perfect home, Katie brings him back to earth when she hands him an envelope. It’s from Levine, McDermott & Lombardi, LLP. Lombardi was his father’s attorney. Reluctant to read its contents, Katie explains she already has. It would seem they are reaching out to have Gavin return to his childhood Boston home to settle his father’s estate. To ease the tension, Katie encourages Gavin to think about taking his brother’s ashes back to Boston to put him to final rest with his deceased parents. Gavin is angry and thinks back to his brother’s death... "Now the weight of his brother’s suicide…seeing him hanging front of the taunting message he left...comes crashing down on him all over again, after he thought he’d finally put it behind him..." (pg. 6) It angered him when he thought about the countless times his father berated him; often reminding him of his inability to succeed at anything. Yet, Devin was the one always getting into trouble. Gavin was the honors student, the track and field star, and the Culinary Institute graduate. It was time—time to face his final reckoning in hopes that putting this last tragedy behind him would heal him. What Katie and Gavin couldn’t possibly know was this would be the crossroads; neither of them could have ever anticipated the actual outcome.
Leslie Kain writes with impressive conviction and soul in a phenomenal way. It is clear from the onset of this book that she wanted to deliver a memory. Her research on the crippling disorder of C-PTSD is fascinating, given the connectivity between her research and how the knowledge was used toward character development. Katie DiMasi (Gavin’s wife) is a pinnacle of strength and is portrayed as the woman who will stand by her man no matter what. Gavin is broken in every aspect of the definition of broken, and the debilitating effects that surface due to his sever C-PTSD are moments that grasp the reader and take him/her on a journey of trepidation toward what could possibly happen next? Is Gavin happy today? Angry? Paranoid? Hopeless? With the cacophony of ups and downs throughout this book, there is never a question that the reader's desire to keep turning the pages will be maintained until the last page. I applaud Ms. Kain for how nurturing and caring she was to expose the emotions and feelings of not only the afflicted (Gavin) but also the damage and destruction C-PTSD causes in what (at times) is an endless nightmare of anxiety held together with a very fragile thread of hope...somewhere. Bravo, Ms. Kain! I cannot wait to read your next book!
Quill says: What Lies Buried is a must-read that reminds the reader of how very complex (and fragile) the human psyche is.
For more information about What Lies Buried, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, April 15, 2024

#Bookreview of The Horseman Who Came From the Sea by Jeff Turner

The Horseman Who Came from the Sea

By: Jeff Turner
Publisher: Page Publishing
Publication Date: January 24, 2024
ISBN: 978-8-89157-581-3
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: April 8, 2024
From veteran author Jeff Turner comes The Horseman Who Came From the Sea, the third book chronicling the story of Henry Cameron. This tale follows Henry, a young man who finds a place for himself working with horses on a Vermont horse farm.
The beginning of The Horseman Who Came From the Sea picks up where Turner’s previous novel, A Rescued Soul, concluded. Henry’s mentor and the father he never had, Lieutenant Cooper, has recently died from the Spanish flu. Prior to his death, he appointed himself as Henry’s legal guardian and taught Henry everything he knows. After Lieutenant Cooper passed away, Henry was shocked to learn that the Lieutenant had left his entire inheritance to Henry, including all monetary holdings and the entire farm, as well as its land. Henry is honored that the Lieutenant chose him to bequeath his legacy to, while at the same time, Henry realizes what a massive responsibility has just been placed upon his shoulders. He wishes to respect the Lieutenant’s memory by preserving the reputation and good image that the Cooper farm has been proud to sustain for many years.
In order to keep the farm in good order, Henry knows he must bring in some additional workhands to assist with chores, especially because he wishes to purchase some additional horses. He begins by offering a job to his old bunkmate and friend, Mickey Parker. Mickey and Henry were both enrolled at Camp Dewey, which prepared teenagers for service in the navy or merchant marines. During the war, Mickey found himself injured when an artillery shell exploded near him, resulting in the loss of his left hand and forearm, along with facial burns. At first, Mickey is resistant to Henry’s job offer, arguing that he cannot work since he is a cripple. It does not take long, however, for Henry to convince Mickey that there is lots he can offer, and he accepts Henry’s invitation, and they leave together to drive to the horse farm in Vermont.
As Henry begins to rebuild the horse farm, he enlists the help of a gifted horse trainer, a young and eager-to-work set of twins, along with the protective caretakers who worked for Lieutenant Cooper. During Henry’s journey, he also encounters some unsavory individuals that he must deal with, including a crooked sheriff and his own resentful uncle, who is after Henry’s inheritance. As Henry builds his farm family, he witnesses his friends partner up as they find love amongst each other, and while he is happy for them, this brings to the surface the pain of a love he lost years ago. He finds himself wondering if love will ever find him again.
I had the pleasure of reading Turner’s previous novel, A Rescued Soul, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that book, I can honestly say that The Horseman Who Came From The Sea was simply magnificent. Throughout the entire story, we see Henry go from building camaraderie and companionship to forming a close-knit family that can count on each other. He offers jobs to those who have fallen on hard times and really need the work and the money. Above all, what is most admirable about Henry is the lesson he can teach us about forgiveness. It is a touching lesson about kindness and forgiveness that we could all use a reminder about in today’s world.
Turner has a true gift for writing that appeals to the human side of his readers, making his stories real and relatable and creating characters that his readers sincerely come to care about over the course of the narrative. What is unique in Turner’s books is that not only does he create loveable, relatable human characters, but he also adds significant characters in the horses that play an important role in the progression of the stories. As a reader, it is impossible not to form an attachment with the horses that help shape the emotional narrative.
Quill says: With The Horseman Who Came From The Sea, Turner has penned a heartwarming, genuine, feel-good story about a young man who was once a runaway, but ends up finding his passion working with horses and creating a close-knit family to finally call his own.

#AuthorInterview with Patrick Galvin, author of Ruan Lingyu: Her Life and Career

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Patrick Galvan, author of Ruan Lingyu: Her Life and Career.

FQ: What started your interest in Chinese film? In particular, the silent film era?

GALVAN: I must confess that while I’ve been a movie fan for as long as I can remember, Chinese cinema was something of a blind spot until my late 20s. I’d seen a handful of movies from that part of the world, but it wasn’t of particular interest to me. That changed, fittingly enough, with the actress my book is about: Ruan Lingyu. In 2018, I saw Wu Yonggang’s 1934 masterpiece The Goddess, where Ruan plays a single mother who resorts to prostitution in order to raise her son. From the moment she appeared on screen, I was enamored: with her beauty and then with her incredibly natural, gut-wrenching performance. She was one of those rare talents who made great acting look easy, and I was immediately interested in her.

I'd known, before seeing the film, that Ruan Lingyu was one of China’s major stars of the 1920s-30s and that she died—by her own hand—at the age of twenty-four. Caught in one of those moments where moviegoers briefly forget that famous people have struggles and complications, I wondered why this woman who seemingly had everything—talent, fame, success—was so unhappy with her life that she ended it. Initially wanting only to answer this question for myself, I started researching her, and in doing so inevitably learned about her industry, her colleagues, and the times in which she lived.

I’ve always loved silent movies because of their purely visual nature. And in the case of Chinese silent film, most of the surviving ones came when filmmakers took notes from Hollywood regarding narrative, montage, and cinematography. You had directors like the internationally trained Sun Yu putting together technically intricate films that addressed social issues. That’s another fascinating element to early Chinese movies. Many were shot amid great sociopolitical upheaval and thus offer a glimpse into what was happening at the time.

FQ: And of course, your interest in Japanese film? Are you also drawn to the silent era, or are you more interested in more modern Japanese films?

Author Patrick Galvan

GALVAN: I’ve been a fan of Japanese cinema considerably longer—since I saw Okawara Takao’s Godzilla 2000 as a nine-year-old. I think part of what captivated me about Godzilla, besides my affinity for monsters, was that it was set in another country. I grew up in a small town in the American Midwest (not much Asian culture), and in Godzilla movies the people looked different, the architecture looked different, the language was different. In high school, I learned the director of many early Godzilla films, Honda Ishiro, was close friends with Kurosawa Akira, renowned as one of the greatest directors of all time. I saw and was stunned by Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) and from there became obsessed with Japanese cinema.

I love the entire historical spectrum of Japanese cinema. Admittedly my favorite decades are the 1930s and the ‘50s-70s, but even lesser eras have interesting things going on. Presently, my favorite film of 2023—from any country—is one I recently saw in Tokyo: Konaka Kazuya’s Single8, about high school students inspired to make a sci-fi flick after seeing Star Wars (1977). A terrific movie about moviemaking; I hope it receives the international attention it deserves.

FQ: Have you visited Shanghai and other venues highlighted in this biography? If so, how did that travel affect your perspective?

GALVAN: Actual production on this biography began during the covid-19 pandemic. I’d been collecting information about Ruan Lingyu since 2018, and first decided to write a book about her in 2019—though I didn't start writing until autumn 2021, in the midst of the lockdowns. A book seemed like a productive way to utilize my time. International travel was riskier and more restricted then, so I didn’t visit China as part of my research.

FQ: Do you identify with any particular personage in the Chinese film world described in your book?

GALVAN: In my own very small way. I’ve never directed movies professionally, but I’ve made a few short films (indie projects in the most literal sense: with practically no money and done entirely with friends) wherein we put together something with little to no resources. In the burgeoning days of Chinese film history (late 1900s-10s), most movies were shot by entrepreneurs who’d rent equipment, transform office space into stages, and cast family members. I also spent some time on a professional film set in 2010 and through that observed the struggles that go into moviemaking.

FQ: Your book stresses women’s rights and feelings; if you could tell potential readers one thing about women’s rights in Ruan Lingyu’s time, what would it be?

GALVAN: The best way to answer this is to mention that societal mistreatment of women in China is dramatized in one of Ruan Lingyu’s surviving movies. In Cai Chusheng’s New Woman (1935), her aristocrat heroine gives up the bourgeoisie to marry a man who later abandons her. From there, she struggles to lead a successful life independent of men but is constantly used and tormented by them. She writes a novel, which a publisher rejects until discovering the author’s an attractive woman, and is sexually pursued by a man who goes above and beyond to force her into desperation.

FQ: I was amazed at the reaction to Ruan Lingyu’s death, and the women who committed suicide. Why was the reaction so intense?

GALVAN: Although we’re entering an age where the movie star’s becoming less important to the masses (at least in the United States), in Ruan’s day obsession with film celebrities was prevalent. A big reason behind her popularity was that her movies reflected struggles that women (especially lower middle-class women) knew all too well. Audiences felt a connection to her.

FQ: How long did it take to write this work, considering all the fact-gathering that must have been involved? Did you have trouble finding resources, or get discouraged at any time, given some of the material (including Husband and Wife in Name) has been lost?

GALVAN: I’d collected three years of research by the time I decided to do the book, and continued educating myself as I wrote over a period of nine months. Materials came from across the world, in three languages (English, Chinese, and French—huge thanks to my translators Zhang Le and François Coulombe). Writing about the lost movies wasn’t so difficult, as Chinese historians have done a remarkable job preserving plot synopses, reviews, and testimonies from the people who worked on them.

Of course, I’m sad many of these films no longer exist. You mentioned Ruan’s debut film, Husband and Wife In Name—obviously that’s of historical interest. I also regret we can no longer see pictures that cast her against type. The image most associated with this actress even now is proletarian suffering; in her surviving films, she almost consistently plays someone victimized by society. But as I discovered in my research, this wasn’t always the case. In Bu Wancang’s Three Modern Women (1932), Ruan played a take-charge activist resisting the exploitation of the working class. And in Sun Yu’s Spring Dream in the Old Capital (1930), she was a straight-up villainess—someone who brings suffering upon others!

I’ll add this last research story, about the occasional difficulty of locating materials. Ruan’s earliest extant film, Love and Duty (1931), is based on a novel by European author Stephanie Rosenthal, who married a Chinese, moved to his country, and wrote fiction about her adopted homeland. The novel was penned in French and later given Chinese and English editions. I knew it was a long shot given its obscurity (and that the book was nearly a hundred years old then) but hoped to track down an English copy as part of my research; I’d just about given up when I discovered one was available at a bookstore in Australia.

FQ: Do you have plans for more books of a similar nature? Another biography of someone, once famous, from a bygone era?

GALVAN: I don’t have plans for more biographies at the moment. Though if I were to do one, likely the subject would be another less-talked-about person from Asia.

FQ: Could you envision making/directing a feature-length film or film series about Ruan Lingyu? It seems like her life and career would make a fascinating movie.

GALVAN: To date, there have been several Chinese television shows about Ruan. On the film front, Stanley Kwan directed a movie in 1991 called Center Stage, which documents his personal fascination with Ruan and his efforts to create an artistic expression about her. The story consists of footage of 1) Kwan conversing with his colleagues about Ruan’s legacy 2) Kwan and his crew shooting a movie about her, and 3) the completed scenes they filmed. It’s not a true biopic, but mesmerizing in its own right.

I think it’d be fun and challenging to make a movie about Ruan. I’d absolutely need assistance—especially from people who know China and filmmaking better than me—but it’d make for an interesting experience.

Personally, I think the ideal movie about Ruan would’ve been the one her colleague Zhu Shilin attempted to make shortly after her death. Zhu wrote several of her films—and even directed a few—so he would’ve been more qualified than most to tell her story. He prepared a five-page treatment for his Ruan Lingyu biopic, though it sadly never got off the ground.

FQ: Building on my last question, in today’s cinema, what actress might play Ruan Lingyu?

GALVAN: Anyone playing Ruan Lingyu today would immediately face comparison with Maggie Cheung Man-yuk’s performance in Center Stage. That’s a tough act to follow. I would’ve been interested in seeing Gillian Chung Ka-lai tackle the part at some point, because—as I document in the book—she personally relates to some of the tribulations Ruan faced.

FQ: Your biography notes that you are part of the team that puts together the online film convention Kaiju Masterclass. Would you tell our readers a bit about it?

GALVAN: Kaiju Masterclass is another project that came about in part because of the pandemic. In 2020, when film conventions throughout the United States were shutting down, a discussion started among some friends of mine. Initially as a joke, they remarked how nice it’d be if there was a Japanese sci-fi convention that—rather than the obvious thing of toys and autographs—focused on intelligent discussion about the movies and the people who made them.

That joke quickly transformed into a serious conversation. I was asked to join a team putting together an online convention (which allowed us to interview people in Japan without the risks and expenses of travel). We scored interviews with a broad variety of people, including filmmakers (Kaneko Shusuke, Higuchi Shinji) and composers (Oshima Michiru, David Arnold, Bear McCreary). In 2021, we held another convention and got a similarly stacked list of guests—one of the big ones being composer Koroku Reijiro, who’d never been interviewed for an English platform before!

The past two Kaiju Masterclass conventions—plus the content we’ve put out since—are archived and free to watch on our YouTube channel of the same name.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

#Bookreview of In$urance to Die For: A John Smith Mystery

In$urance to Die For: A John Smith Mystery
By: Charlotte Stuart
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: April 11, 2024
Reviewed by: Diana Coyle

CCharlotte Stuart
When John Smith took the Claims Adjuster position for Universal Heartland Liability and Casualty Assurance Company of America, he never thought he might be involved in trying to solve a murder case, along with a high-value art and jewelry case, but that's just what happens in In$urance To Die For by Charlotte Stuart, book 2 in the John Smith mystery series.
John is just an average guy trying to do his job and stay employed, especially since he seems to annoy his office manager, Emma, all the time. They seem to not get along no matter how hard John tries. When he goes out on a routine art appraisal job it seems like things should be cut and dry, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When a client asks for an appraisal of her artwork and jewelry, things get out of control fairly quickly for John. Then he finds out that a young gentleman by the name of Lonnie, who is an avid drone hobbyist, is found dead, and there are connections coming back to John’s clients. He now finds himself in deeper than he could ever imagine. Does John find out what’s going on with all the snags he’s experiencing with his art appraisal clients? What exactly can John do to fix these major issues? Can he save his job while trying to get to the bottom of this crazy mess? Why was Lonnie killed?
This murder mystery will have readers eagerly turning the pages to discover what happens next for John. This poor, average guy just wants to go to work and keep a low profile, and it seems the more he tries, the more he finds himself deeper into not only a murder investigation, but a high-priced art and jewelry investigation that Lonnie may have been involved in. When John starts seeing things aren’t matching up on his appraisal claims, he reaches out to his best friend, Sergeant Bruno McGinty, who is an officer in the local precinct. As Bruno discusses the strange details of these cases with John, Bruno realizes that John may be more involved in these cases than his friend should be...
This reviewer found In$urance To Die For to be a mystery that had plenty of intrigue, along with numerous twists and turns that would keep any mystery reader riveted to their seats. Stuart portrayed John to be an average guy, trying to get by in his day-to-day life. The ironic part was that no matter how John tried laying low, trouble always seemed to find him. Readers will feel empathy for John, especially since it was obvious he did have a bit of a self-esteem issue. He seemed like an odd character, but not in a bad way.
Another thing that stood out was the author’s dry, but hilarious sense of humor. While the whole story was written with an air of seriousness to the mystery, the crazy things John experienced daily gave this reader plenty to laugh at throughout the entire book. From John, who lived on a houseboat, going through the daily attack and harassment from a murder of crows that just seemed to have a vendetta against him, to his nosey mother constantly meddling into John’s business because he remained a middle-aged man who wasn’t married, this story had plenty of things that would give any reader pause for some good laughs amongst the seriousness of the rest of the story. Readers will laugh out loud on numerous occasions because John just always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time throughout the story. It was nice to see toward the end of the novel that he gained some respect from his friends and fellow colleagues.
Quill says: This reviewer highly recommends In$urance to Die For: A John Smith Mystery! Readers are sure to enjoy this heart-pounding, while also amusingly funny, mystery. Well done, Ms. Stuart!
To learn more about In$urance to Die For: A John Smith Mystery, please visit the author’s website at: