Welcome to Feathered Quill Book Reviews, a place for readers to find their next treasure.
Along with reviews of many well-known titles, this site also searches out unique books
from small, independent presses.
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A Bridge Across the Ocean
By: Susan Meissner
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: March 2017
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: February 15, 2017
Brette Caslake was one of the females in her family to be given "The Sight." A gift that is only given to the women in the family, at random, The Sight is something that Brette tries her very best to ignore. This gift allows Brette to see drifters in the thin places between Earth and their afterlife, as a result of not being able to make it to the other side because of the fear of letting go. As the only living member of her family to have this gift, Brette has always felt alone and let very few people know of her ability, thanks to various mishaps in high school and college. Even her husband knows only the basics of her ability. It is only when the subject of children comes up that she freezes, as she could potentially pass on her gift to her daughter. With a promise to talk about what made her mother decide to have children while knowing the risks it could pose, he sets off on a business trip. Soon after, an old high school friend in need seeks her out for help for his daughter and leads her to answers she has always needed.
Simone Deveraux, the daughter of a shoe shiner, fell witness to her father and her brother’s murder as a result of being part of the Resistance during WWII. Upon a previous request from her father, she flees. In an effort to make sure no one sees her escape to the address her father had given her, Simone enters an old abandoned shop, where an awful event threatens to change the course of her life. She soon makes it to the address her father provided, where she is then taken to a winery in southern France, where she resides, and falls in love with an unlikely companion.
Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina, was also no stranger to wartime strife. After being forced to marry an abusive Nazi soldier who kept her cooped up in their apartment, she escapes to be with her childhood friend, Katrine. Annaliese lives with Katrine and has plans to move with her to America after Katrine marries an American. Things do not exactly work out the way that they are planned and these events leave Annaelise with a choice, what is right and what is wrong? What actions can be forgiven and what can not? Soon, these women are aboard the Queen Mary, a ship transporting war brides to America, to reunite with their husbands and begin their lives anew. But is one of them living a lie? Or are both of them? What actions are to be forgiven during a time of fear and war?
Even from the very beginning, I was hooked on A Bridge Across the Ocean. It is simple to get pulled deeply into the stories of Annaliese and Simone, as their pasts are haunting and filled with twists and turns that make you wonder what you would do in their situations. Brette and her Sight not only tie the stories together perfectly, but provide some extremely relatable thoughts and feelings. The different settings and times were separated perfectly and this ensured that the story did not become confusing to the reader. It was easy to differentiate the stories of the characters even when the story had just begun. As books like this are easily confusing at first, I was impressed that there was never a part of the book where I had to question what was going on.
Quill says: A Bridge Across the Ocean is the perfect historical fiction read for those who want to be thrown into a different place and time and challenged to put themselves in the characters' positions.
A Dog's Journey
By: W. Bruce Cameron
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: May 2013
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 15, 2017
A Dog's Journey continues the story of a very special dog's soul, or essence, first told in the best-selling book A Dog's Purpose.
A quick recap from the first book: The reader is introduced to a puppy, Toby, who begins life as a feral dog, along with his littermates and mother. Toby's life is tragically cut short and then he is reborn, renamed, and lives a very full life in the body of another dog, with a different owner and a very different experience. The key is that Toby, or Bailey, or Ellie, or Buddy, as the dog is known through his various lives, remembers each previous life and experiences. As Bailey, the dog is loved by, and loves, a boy named Ethan and it is perhaps because of Ethan that the dog is reborn again and again as he searches for his special boy.
A Dog's Journey picks up right where the pervious book ended, with Buddy living in Ethan's home with his widow Hannah. Soon we meet other relatives, including Hannah's daughter-in-law Gloria, a woman who is basically a waste of oxygen. Self-centered and self-important, the only redeeming thing about her is that she has a delightful young daughter Clarity Jane. CJ, as she is soon called, is the focus of this book as the dog follows "his girl" through her life via several different dogs.
With the passing of Buddy, the dog is reborn as Molly, a poodle mix who is adopted by a now teenage CJ. The young girl has a terrible life with her mother Gloria, who brings a multitude of boyfriends through the house and finds that being a mother is just too much work. The only good things in CJ's life are her dog Molly and her best friend Trent. But things with Gloria go from bad to worse and CJ is forced to grow up much too fast. Molly and her other dog reincarnations do their best to help CJ and it is through her various dogs that CJ is finally able to find peace.
If you've read my review for A Dog's Purpose, you know that I loved that book and recommended it for all dog lovers. While A Dog's Journey is not quite as much of a page-turner, it was still a very enjoyable read. The main difference between the stories is that in the first book, the dog's various lives did not always intertwine with previous owners, making for very different adventures throughout the book, while in this book, the journey was all about CJ and the dog coming back repeatedly right into her life (with a little work on the dog's part to catch her attention). Regardless, there's no doubt that author W. Bruce Cameron has a talent for catching the essence of what a dog must be thinking and these thoughts, shared with the reader, are what captured the imagination and made the book a fun and quick read.
Quill says: While not quite as engaging as A Dog's Purpose, this second book is still very enjoyable and highly recommended for dog lovers.
The Sparrow’s Spirit: A Champion Wrestler’s Lifetime Reflections on Prayer and Perseverance
By: Bill Welker
Publisher: Rosedog Books
Publication Date: November 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 28, 2017
Although some groups will state that this world is all about technology in 2017, there is one other industry that continues – even after all this time – to grow and evolve no matter what new “rules,” ideas or fads come to life. It is also the one industry where people with extreme talents pull down major paychecks to do their jobs: the wide world of sports. Arguably, when it comes to publishing, the genre of memoir has grown and evolved over time, as well, with more and more people being able to put their life stories down in print. This is one author who has found a way to correlate both, offering a truly invigorating, heartfelt and memorable book that stems from the sport of wrestling.
For those who love and crave the excitement that comes from wrestling, the name Bill Welker is synonymous with the sport. Beginning in grade school, Bill Welker had a love affair with this particular competitive world. He states he was a conservative wrestler – one who went on to leave a life-time career on the mats and head in the direction of teaching. Welker is a member of four wrestling hall of fames, and even published the national bestseller, The Wrestling Drill Book, among hundreds of other articles on the sport since the mid-1970’s.
What Bill brings to readers, however, is not just for the sports-minded. This memoir leads readers through a “boy’s” life at first, telling people about some perhaps bad decisions made by him and his brother at a young age. There are stories about that principal many met up with in school and had a run-in with. And there are stories about a boy’s will, and the set-in of self-doubt that comes from taking the wrong path and pulling yourself up (in this case) “off the mat” by your bootstraps.
Wrestling was a Welker Family Legacy, so to speak. Harold, Bill’s cousin, won states; brother, Floyd Robert Welker, was also a champion and Bill’s idol, who saw him as a “gallant gladiator on a glistening mat.” Life, however, does get in the way sometimes (well, let’s face it, all the time), and when Bill lost his will to wrestle – a sport he literally coveted – it caused choices to be made that removed Bill from the wrestling team altogether in college.
Open, honest – that’s rare, in this age of memoirs, but Dr. Bill Welker is highly capable of supplying just that. He speaks candidly about his OCD, dealing with depression, and the ultimate pain of not wanting to go back home to a small coal region in Pennsylvania where he felt he would have to face failure. This is a man who worked. He learned. He wrote. He also became one of the country’s foremost authorities on Folkstyle wrestling. In other words, he took a journey through life that began with sports and ended with something even better.
For those adults out there who are doing the same, or trying to – as well as the people who want to be that “star” and will do anything and work harder than anyone to make it on the mat, gridiron, etc. – then Dr. Bill Welker’s words are the ones to read!
Quill says: Reaching your goals is one thing. Evolving in life to set new goals is more than difficult. But whichever one it is for you, giving up is wrong. With this book: Lesson learned.