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.
Feathered Quill Book Reviews prides itself on giving the reader an honest, unbiased critique of each and every book on its website.
So slip off your shoes, pour yourself a cup of coffee, explore our pages,
and discover many wonderful gems in the world of books.
Named one of the best websites for independent authors by The Association of Independent Authors!
Pages in the Wind
By: Sally Saylor De Smet
Publisher: Greenly Publishing
Publication Date: September 2015
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 27, 2016
Sally Saylor De Smet delivers her debut novel Pages in the Wind on a silver platter. It is a compelling novel devoted to the complexities and many facets a troubled mind is capable of delivering.
Emily Quinn is trapped in her mind. She is the surviving twin sister of Penelope Quinn. Penelope died and left Emily to navigate the tenuous waters of a family rife with issues. Her brother Robert is her anchor, but is no longer there for her. Her father was a diabolical work of evil and had mastered the art of traumatizing Emily. Her mother is a captivating beauty—the conduit to Emily’s beauty. Yet, she is a shell of an existence. Daddy dearest controlled all of their lives.
At the tender age of nineteen, Emily faces the rest of her life within the confines of prison walls. After brutally stabbing her father to death, she is incarcerated and her journey toward salvation and answers to the ‘why’ begin. In her first session with psychiatrist Daniel Lieberman, the ground rules are established. It is Dr. Lieberman’s job to determine why Emily did what she did through their weekly sessions of regression therapy. Emily’s purpose is to explain why she did what she did. Early on, Dr. Lieberman becomes sympathetic to Emily as the details of her egregious childhood are exposed. As time unfolds, he learns of the constant abuse—both physical and emotional this young woman had endured.
As the weeks transpire, Lieberman digs deeper into the layers that make up Emily Quinn. His job is to push ever so gently as the two travel further into the dark abyss of her life. Emily is resistent to liberate the self-imposed blocks on her psyche, but realizes she must free them. Her salvation is to move beyond the fact she has murdered her father and she must learn how to overcome her formidable act in order to learn how to embrace her life going forward.
Sally Saylor De Smet delivers an (at times) heart-wrenching story of a little girl who never had a chance. Through artfully scripted prose she paints a picture of a troubled family unit—unit being an oxymoron at best. The characteristics she assigns to each of the four familial characters are extremely well-developed and I found myself often wanting to jump in between the pages and accost the father, in particular. The mother is a passive existence of life and the brother and dead sister, in my opinion are the fortunate ones as they were able to escape—one to college; the other by death. Smet’s clinical nuance to the psychiatric sessions between prison doctor, Lieberman and inmate, Quinn are fascinating. There is a natural flow of Smet’s pen when they are conversing that allows the reader to be an active listener to the session as he or she reads on. This story has no drag whatsoever and the voice of compassion Smet maintains throughout the entire novel is tremendous. I look forward to this writer’s next novel. It is abundantly clear she has found her calling in life and should continue to embrace the natural writing ability she has. Her audience will welcome the next after reading Pages in the Wind.
Quill says: Pages in the Wind is a superb example of how an outstanding novel of compassion and grit is written!
For more information on Pages in the Wind, please visit the author's website at: www.sallysaylor.com
Abandoned in Search of Rainbows
By: A.K. Driggs
Publisher: Book Publishers Network
Publication Date: September 2015
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 22, 2016
There are some authors out there, and yes, readers will agree, who should not write their life stories. This, however, is not one of those authors.
Just think...from the very beginning, as a baby left inside a brown paper bag, on a toilet seat of all places, this author has been on a one-of-a-kind, completely unique path. Now, a beginning like that could spell a dark, perhaps even dangerous future for a child. But in A.K. Drigg’s life, any darkness would eventually be overcome by her talent, her heart and her passion. No, she is not a psychic who can see in vivid color the Ancient World (readers have run across those in the past). What A.K. can do, however, is heal and help all living creatures with the amazing power of her voice. Her singing...her songs, her poetic words actually create light in lives that need just that.
As readers walk along the path with A.K., looking at oddities that somehow, after the chapter comes to an end, make complete sense, they discover A.K. communicating with animals, building a loving and supportive relationship with her adoptive family, fighting cancer, as well as using her voice in both the phone-sex industry and as a musical prodigy.
When Act I begins, in present day, she is taking her mother to a place where she truly wants her to be happy – a condo in Vegas. While in the car on the road, A.K. and her mom get into a conversation that leads down memory lane. And when the memories begin to flow, the reader finds themselves in the frigid, gloomy New York State winter of 1954. Baby Jane, found in the restroom of a local restaurant and bar, makes headlines and is adopted by the Driggs family. Her mother, Elizabeth L. Driggs, is a wonderful woman who loves Baby Jane and she and her husband anoint her with the name, Ann Kimberly Driggs. She and her husband not only adopt Ann; they have also adopted a young boy named Chip who becomes the older brother that A.K. immediately looks up to.
The years following highlight a path filled with a rainbow of color. Dark days are lived with the author, as well as bright, positive moments in time when she discovers that her voice is a blessing. Readers will love this family; the heartfelt and true emotion that this Driggs group share is monumental and lasting. And dealing with everything from how hard it is to lose a pet to how on earth you find/define yourself when a large part of your own history is simply not there, is riveting. Life, love, finding a mate to care for with your heart and soul, and expressing beauty and power through music – this book has a story with so many tales that every reader will find something they can definitely relate to.
And, in the end, it’s so nice to know that even an odd beginning can lead to an amazing Act II.
Quill says: Offering the perfect balance of positive and negative – the two real sides of life’s coin – this is a story you won’t soon forget.
A social experiment unexpectedly initiates a profound healing journey in Harshman's eye-opening memoir.
Diagnosed bipolar, suffering from depression, and constantly dealing with panic attacks, thirty-three-year-old Stacy Harshman is fed up with five months of unfulfilled private therapy. In a moment of desperation to escape from her dismal mental and emotional state, Stacy purchases a red wig unaware that the hairpiece will dramatically change her life. Donning the stunning "Showgirl" as she prances throughout New York City, Stacy feels empowered as complete strangers feed her with flattering responses. Impressed by the transformation from her mousy-looking hair to her styled do, Stacy wonders if people's reactions would be the same if she had a different colored hair. That thought turns into a five-week/six-days-a-week social experiment appropriately named Crowning Glory and the topic of Stacy's memoir.
Stacy hires a gal she dubs Agent Thorn to observe and record people's responses. Going undercover and assuming a new life each week, Stacy documents her external (interactions with public) and internal (how she feels) experiences. Pretty much keeping to the same "diverse settings and Manhattan neighborhoods," Stacy transforms into red-haired Kali Amsterdam during the first week. The raven-haired Nada Jolie, the blonde Raya Mer, and the brunette Paula Isla follow on weeks two thru four. Lastly on week five, Stacy makes her rounds simply as herself with the hair from her own head. Through ups and downs and sexual encounters with cyberdates, the over two-hundred-hour experiment has its way with morphing and reshaping Stacy—ultimately building up her self-confidence.
It is astounding how one comment can have a negative effect on a person's life. During her childhood, Harshman internalized a family member's statement about her hair. Harshman concluded that she's ugly—a nagging stigma that stayed with her into her early adult years, and thus the attraction to full-bodied and eye-catching colored wigs. Almost ten years have passed since the Crowning Glory experiment. Certainly, Harshman is not the same person that she was back then. The wacky and wild five plus weeks definitely pushed her closer to accepting herself—something that professional therapy couldn't nail down. As Harshman aptly confirms, "It was as though I had been growing a real-me seed inside a wig-covered greenhouse."
Harshman's one-of-a-kind life changing story is nothing less than compelling. A balanced combination of journal entry, storytelling, and background history, Harshman's writing style is direct and at times visceral. Harshman leaves no stone unturned in her desperate attempts to escape her lackluster introverted lifestyle with her present boyfriend. While capturing times when she succumbs to panic attacks and grapples with uncomfortable as well as unsuccessful sexual escapades, Harshman also incorporates plenty of hilariously awkward and embarrassing moments. Such highlights include her wig hair getting caught in the subway doors, a price tag stuck on the seat of her pants at a popular hipster bar, and a psychic reading with Mama Marie—just to list a few.
Today, the multi-talented Harshman is quite the entrepreneur. Taking all her challenging and creative circumstances and turning them into something beautiful, Harshman's musical talent has produced six albums. Her passion for color led her to not only become an artist, but also to launch Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company.
Quill says: Crowning Glory is not only entertaining, but also a powerfully positive read.
For more information on Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise, please visit the book's website at: www.crowningglorybook.com