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.
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The Garden of Letters
By: Alyson Richman
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group
Publication Date: 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 2, 2014
Using the backdrop of World War II Italy, Alyson Richmon delivers an engaging story in her latest novel, The Garden of Letters.
The story opens with the introduction of Elodie Bertolotti, an accomplished cello prodigy. She lives in Verona, Italy and was blessed at birth with her father’s gift of music and her mother’s hypnotic beauty. War is the furthest thing from Elodie’s world until Mussolini’s Fascist regime is on her family’s doorstep. Elodie has no intentions of being drawn into the resistance movement until she meets Luca—a young man with a passion for his books. With the Occupation looming on Verona’s horizon, Elodie realizes her musical talent can contribute more than a lull of listening enjoyment and save lives from the devastation and ravages of war. Perhaps this is the reason Elodie was graced with her gift of music.
War is not selective in those it scars. Alone and frightened, Elodie’s journey takes her to Portofino. She is a stranger in a strange place as she steps off the boat. It would not have come to this had she not forgotten the secret code she was supposed to play on her cello for the Wolf that night. The Verona she barely escaped is now a sad memory and her reality is that it is a place she can never return to. Fortunately for Elodie, young doctor Angelo Roselli is at the docks and what she doesn’t know is he will be her sanctuary. Angelo is weighted down by his own burden of battle wounds in the form of guilt and remorse. Destiny has placed these two strangers in this moment with little more than a glimmer of hope and the prospect of new beginnings.
Alyson Richman accomplishes a heartfelt connection for the reader with her rendition of what it must have been like to survive one of the most iconic wars of our time. Her style lends a tangible ‘in the moment’ sense of being right beside the characters during the Occupation in Italy during World War II. Richman lends her distinct voice to her main character, Elodie Bertolotti, enabling the reader to feel the depth of her tragic experiences and loss. Yet, the sublime thread of hope Richman has woven throughout the story provides a comfortable cadence for the reader’s use in turning each page. Richman breathes life into each character and uses the premise of the importance of Elodie’s cello playing that reaches beyond music to one’s ears as the substance to establish a strong pace in moving the story eventually to its ending. This story is full of heart and this is the very essence of what a solid story is intended to be: the ‘perfect escape.’
Quill says: The Garden of Letters is a moving account of endurance and perseverance and Ms. Richman deserves praise for its delivery.
The Wishing Tide
By: Barbara Davis
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: September 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 27, 2014
Barbara Davis uses the allure of the sea and the pristine North Carolina Outer Banks as her backdrop to tell her captivating tale in her latest novel, The Wishing Tide.
Tropical Storm Penny is making her steady progress toward the small Outer Banks community. The summer season is over and the last of the tourists have all but gone. The quaint bed and breakfast, Cloister House, has survived a storm or two in her sands of time. Lane Kramer watches the progress of the storm as she thinks about her departure from her native Chicago. The devastation of her miscarriage and the end of her marriage is in its wake. As she continues to watch the storm’s progress from her favorite room—her writing room, it is difficult to believe she has been here for five years. She could see the storm clouds circling Starry Point in the distance. The last of her guests were leaving today and so another season would come to its end. Lane would settle into the solitude of her winter months—writing articles of things she knew nothing about for the many magazines she equally knew nothing about...
As the last of her guests leave, Lane is surprised by the sudden knock on the door. When she opens it to find Michael Forrester standing on its other side, her first reaction is to advise him Cloister House was officially closed for the season. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Penny had other plans—particularly now that she was gaining strength. It would seem a rather large tree had fallen across the only point of access in and out of the small community. For the time being, it looks like Lane’s season isn’t quite over after all. When Lane agreed to provide shelter from the storm for Forrester, little did she know her comfortable and predictable life as she knew it would be put to a battery of tests and choices that would change course for ever more...
Barbara Davis anchors her story with the splendor of the Outer Banks as she sets scene and tone early on. Her detailed description of the beauty along with the threat of a formidable storm bearing down at season’s end manages to capture the reader’s interest to read on. Her characters are believable in that their moods are solidly defined—Michael Forrester: handsome and mysterious with a moody edge. Lane Kramer is a woman of substance and has managed to reinvent her life by making a drastic change of scenery from her native Chicago. Even Bag Lady Mary’s role of roaming the desolate dunes daily beckons more than a curiosity from Davis’ audience. Davis has clear tone and voice throughout as she strategically plants the necessary seeds to build her sound plot. She further enhances the plot with the suggestion of the important connection the ‘haunted house’ across the street from Cloister House plays in this story. The dialogue is strong and the story moves forward at a comfortable pace. This book has all the makings and merits of a good read to take along on summer vacation. It has just the right amount of intrigue and flow to keep the reader engaged from beginning to end.
Quill says: The Wishing Tide is the perfect addition to a tall glass of sweet tea, a gentle summer breeze and a schedule with nothing more to do than 'be.'
The Cockroach Invasion
By: Sherry L. Meinberg
Illustrated By: Thinkstock
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Publication Date: June 2014
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: August 16, 2014
The way that young children learn, observe, and then explain what they see is always interesting and reading about the adventures of the third graders in room eight is no exception. Everything that comes out of the mouths of kids is straight forward, to the point and usually quite entertaining. However, in this story the subject is cockroaches and that subject alone provides endless opportunities for these third graders to express their young opinions on these creepy, crawly creatures. Of course each one of these children have their own ideas about these insects but they never imagine how much they will learn about these relatively unknown species.
It was a normal school day for the third grade class in room eight as they all prepared to start a lesson in Ms. Matson’s classroom. However, the day drastically changed as a swarm of cockroaches suddenly came scurrying out of the sink drain! The room erupted into shrieks, screams, and crunching as the boys (primarily) decided they needed to take a stand against the army of roaches invading their classroom. Desperately trying to control the mayhem, Ms. Matson tells the students to find as many containers as they can and trap the cockroaches inside. After most of the pesky insects were trapped in jars the janitor was called in to take care of the mess in classroom eight. As the mess was cleaned, everyone’s interest was quickly overcome with everything that was unknown about cockroaches.
Using this new interest, Ms. Matson decides that as a class they will all do their own projects explaining all sorts of facts about cockroaches. At first the students know very little about cockroaches, but they are eager to learn and answer the many questions as they embark on an information finding quest. What they discover is more interesting than any of them could have predicted. The lesson even brings the quiet students out of their shells.
Working with children is always unique as there is never really a way to predict what will happen or what they will say. It was obvious that the author of this book, Dr. Sherry L. Meinberg, has quite a way with young children as she brought to life a book that not only entertains but teaches - which is exactly what great educators do. Including sketches made by kids was also an amazing touch as I can see how that would be incredibly appealing in the eyes of a child. The writing also flowed easily and quickly, allowing this book to be enjoyed by any age. I even found myself laughing out loud at some of the comments of these third graders. The humor and fun made for a great and enjoyable read!
Quill says: This is a fun read that can be enjoyed by a reader of any age.