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.
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Selah’s Sweet Dream
By: Susan Count
Illustrated By: Melissa Gates
Publisher: Hastings Creations Group
Publication Date: December 2015
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: February 5, 2015
The two weeks that twelve-year-old Selah gets to spend with her grandfather are always wonderful but the only thing that could make it perfect is having a horse. Unfortunately, her grandpa has decided to never have horses again, for after Selah’s grandmother passed away he vowed to never be around them again. The memories of the happy times with his wife were just too hard to think about and horses brought those thoughts up even more. So, much to Selah’s dismay it looked like the only animal she would be hanging out with was her grandpa’s sweet dog named Skunk.
One day when her Grandpa went into town to run errands, Selah decided to take a hike but soon discovers a group of buzzards circling over something. As she ventures closer she discovers that the buzzards are zoning in on a horse that has been tangled up in wire and could not get herself out. Frightened that trying to free the horse by herself would just cause the horse to become even more entangled, she runs as fast as her legs can carry her and scrambles back to the house to find her grandfather. Thankfully he is back from his trip into town and after hearing his granddaughter’s frantic story he quickly follows her to the trapped horse. With a quiet, gentle approach Selah and her grandfather slowly untangle the frightened animal, carefully slip a halter on her head, and one step at a time they lead her back to the barn.
After a thorough exam from the veterinarian, Selah and her grandfather finally get a minute to get a good look at this mysterious horse. Aside from the cuts and scratches they could see she was a beautiful, well-balanced, and attractive black mare that was clearly owned by someone who cared for her at one point in her life. As Selah’s grandfather continues to look at this horse he remembers a young horse that got loose after a trailer had flipped over about two years ago; the horse was never recovered so everyone assumed it was living wild in the woods. As the search for answers continues, both Selah and her grandfather will be surprised to find that this horse is connected to their family in more ways than one.
This was a wonderfully written story that inspires an age of reader that sometimes is overlooked. At the age of twelve the main character of Selah goes on quite an amazing adventure that had me smiling the whole way through this book. I also enjoyed the real life experiences that were brought alive as Selah works through the training issues that arise as she works with her horse.
Quill says: A wonderful combination of inspiration and engaging horse adventure.
For more information on Selah's Sweet Dream, please visit the author's website at: www.susancount.com
Ally's Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates
By: Alice Phillips
Publisher: Front Table Books
Publication Date: May 2015
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 5, 2016
I’ve most certainly been an adventurous person during my lifetime, with a passport to match. In the kitchen, I must admit I’m rather lacking in the “adventure” line when it comes to trying out new recipes. I have more or less colored within the lines so to speak, but Ally’s Kitchen has made me look beyond the rather bland cooking of my youth...way beyond. When I’ve traveled I have enjoyed trying many new dishes, but never experimented with them on my own. When I first began taking a look at this cookbook it was almost as if I were taking a peek into kitchens around the world.
In fact, I enjoyed reading about the foods, their origins, and even how Alice “Ally” Phillips savors them as much as I loved sampling them. Armchair travelers will more than welcome the worldwide adventure as well as the foods. Each section is prefaced by a personal, almost lyrical introduction to the area as well as personal vignettes. What’s really amazing is the awe Ally feels for each recipe, something I could immediately sense as I read those vignettes! Each recipe is prefaced by a story and has a “Style Maker” at the bottom to round it out. For example, the Jerusalem eggs recipe “looks really cool served in wooden bowls” because “Somehow a ‘common’ serving piece makes this once-forbidden treat even more tasty now that we can all enjoy it.”
As I worked my way through the book I peppered it with Post-It Notes marking my favorites or those adventures I wanted to try. One everyday recipe I loved was the “Dead Sea Spiced Granola & Granola Bars.” Not so exotic, but great tasting and fun to make. One can opt to make one or the other, but I decided to go for the granola, which can be set aside to make granola bars at a later time. No chance because it was great to eat a bit at a time, tossed in my oatmeal, as well as a great addition to my yogurt. Many of the ingredients are standard granola fare, but also included are Chinese 5-spice that gives it that flare (maple syrup too!) and cacao nibs. Needless to say, the granola wasn’t exotic, but was delicious.
One other recipe I ended up loving were the unfamiliar “Down Under Anzac Biscuits.” The photograph made it one of those I-just-have-to-try-it recipes for me. Although one can garnish these biscuits, I loved them as they were. Old-fashioned oats, coconut, honey...well, they just had to be made. This particular recipe was in the “Side Trip Escapades” section. There are several main sections that include European, Mediterranean, Middle Easter, African, Asian, Caribbean, and a smattering of other foods. My favorite section was the Asia section as I’m a fan of Asian food, but those Post-Its have marked several other recipes.
Ally’s Kitchen is most certainly a cookbook for the person who loves to experiment with a wide variety of foods. The more I read, browsed, and experimented, the more the book struck me as a food travelogue as well as a cookbook. It reminded me of foodie Anthony Bourdain...it was that good. I certainly enjoyed traveling with Ally around the world. The book popped with alluring photographs, those fabulous vignettes, and recipes. If you’re not adventurous in the kitchen, you’ll certainly want to be after you try a couple of recipes and browse the others. Fabulous cookbook for the foodie who loves adventure!
Quill says: If you’re a foodie who loves adventure, Ally’s Kitchen is one cookbook that you’ll just have to put on your kitchen shelf!
Karma's a Killer (A Downward Dog Mystery)
By: Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 2016
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 27, 2016
The trouble starts early in the third book in the 'Downward Dog' mystery series when Kate Davidson, a Seattle yoga teacher, tries to do something nice. Kate has agreed to teach a ‘Doga’ class (dog yoga!) at a fundraiser for a local animal shelter. While her intentions are good, the results are disastrous – besides mayhem during the class, the whole event ends in utter confusion when a dumpster catches fire, endangering a group of adorable goats, and a body is found floating in the nearby lake. It looks like Kate is about to be dragged into another murder case.
Karma’s a Killer opens with Kate surrounded by a tangle of dogs, all eager and in various forms of excitement or displeasure as they and their owners prepare for the fund-raising dog walk. Kate manages to get away from the mayhem and makes her way down to the dock along the lake. There she inadvertently stumbles upon two women arguing. Their argument about protesting the shelter confuses Kate as Dogma, the shelter, is a no-kill shelter and certainly not deserving of protests. What should Kate do? Go to her boyfriend Michael? The shelter owner? Or maybe the police? With little time to think, Kate decides to get ready for her class that will be starting soon. Hopefully she’ll see somebody who she can tell about the impending protest.
When a somewhat eccentric older woman, and large donor to the shelter, decides to bring her rabbit to the doga class, Kate nicely tries to convince the woman to leave. Meeting with a stern refusal from the woman, Kate’s inner senses tell her the class will not end well. Of course, she’s correct when the rabbit decides all the dogs are a bit menacing and makes a run for it, and the dogs decide the rabbit looks like lunch. While everybody is running around, somebody, perhaps one of the protesters, sets a nearby dumpster on fire (or was it an accident?). Chaos ensues and Kate can’t wait to get home to her own dog Bella. However, the next morning a body is found floating in the lake where the event was held, and it just happens to be one of the woman Kate saw arguing. Then, as if things couldn’t get worse, the other woman who was seen arguing is arrested, and then gets in touch with Kate to tell her that she’s Kate’s long estranged mother. Yikes!
Karma's a Killer sucked me into its pages quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery. Kate is a very likable character, albeit with some 'issues' that can get in the way, and the supporting cast was quite believable and helped move the story along. For animal lovers, there are numerous feathered or four-legged creatures to cheer for, my favorite being Blackie the crow as well as some interesting information about shelters and rescues. The dialogue was crisp and flowed nicely, and the mystery kept me guessing as suspects were eliminated one by one. My one disappointment was that once the murderer was revealed, that person was much too willing to tell his/her whole story. Other than that small issue, Karma's a Killer was a winner.
Quill says: A light-hearted mystery that will have you cheering for a yoga teaching, animal loving sleuth and her pack of odd-ball friends.