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!
Envoy of Jerusalem: A Biographical Novel of Balian d'Ibelin
By: Helena P. Schrader
Publication Date: August 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 23, 2016
A historical trilogy needs a great deal of substance. When it comes to this writer and her work, this particular reviewer once stated that for a trilogy comprised of very large books, a writer needs to pick a subject that will entrance, excite and lure readers so deeply, so emotionally, that they never want to stop reading. Helena P. Schrader has done just that throughout this entire ride. And now...the grand finale. Beginning in Knight of Jerusalem and continuing in Defender of Jerusalem, this is one of the best historical series ever written.
Readers of these books have walked through the confusing, romantic and amazing time of the Crusades, meeting both valiant characters and others whose souls were as dark as night. Everybody had a plan back then, and would do anything to achieve it. In the last book, readers watched Jerusalem under siege by the Kurdish leader, the sultan of Egypt and Damascus, Salah ad-Din Yusuf. He wormed his way through life and combined two forces, Shiite Egypt and Sunnite Syria, into one major force that went against the Christians. King Baldwin IV was fighting leprosy all his life, yet had to find his strength and prepare for battle. And main character, Balian d’Ibelin, was still the lone source of loyalty to the king.
Now, in Envoy of Jerusalem, the Christian city of Jerusalem is solidly in the hands of Salah ad-Din. With his takeover, the people who are poor and cannot pay a ransom for their freedom are being sold into slavery. In Tyre, in October of 1187, Balian and his wife, Maria, are among the sufferers. It does seem as if the Holy Land is gone, but Balian’s heroic belief and strength has him taking it upon himself to try and negotiate the freedom of the Christians still left in the city.
There is hope. Of course, with hope comes more battles. Beloved man and warrior of many, Richard the Lionheart, now graces the scene with his army and takes his leap into legendary status. He takes center stage, leading the fight to reclaim the Holy Land. All through the battles Balian becomes the ultimate mediator, seeing the hope yet also dealing with the horrors that come as the French and English people, as well as the Christian and Muslim ideas clash.
A very detailed drama full of historical truths intertwined with a fantastically written tale, Balian solidifies himself as a marvelous character; one that was able to challenge all the supposed heroes and villains of his time as he married a dowager queen and brought about an astounding dynasty.
Begin at the beginning, however. Not because this is ‘too’ confusing to be a standalone, but because every page of this series will inspire a reader to move through the battles, lay eyes on these crusader kingdoms, and cheer for a man whose name could not compete with those in high places, yet one who owned the strongest will you can possibly imagine.
Quill says: The zest this author has for her subject is dramatic, intense and something that will never be forgotten!
For more information on Envoy of Jerusalem: A Biographical Novel of Balian d'Ibelin, please visit the series' website at: defenderofjerusalem.com
Double Talk: A Warren Kingsley Mystery
By: Sherban Young
Publisher: MysteryCaper Press
Publication Date: June 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 8, 2016
For those who have not yet had the good fortune to pick up a Sherban Young mystery, now is the time to do so! Let’s just say that once you begin reading this title, you will immediately run to the library and/or Amazon and get all the rest.
A character with his own series, Warren Kingsley, is back. Warren, a man who has the face and physique of a god (and the ego to match), also owns the abilities to brood, ignore others, and know deep in his heart that he really is the “best of the best” in most areas. An ex-bodyguard, he is now the speechwriter for the Mayor of Kilobyte.
In Kilobyte the residents are truly multifaceted; they can never have just “one” career. Even Mayor Frederick Abbott is not content with just being a public servant. He also owns a baseball team, he’s a restaurateur, and has his hands (and money) in half of the other companies in town.
Frederick Abbott was bedazzled by Warren Kingsley when they first met. He saw a very handsome man who could easily nab the female vote right away. Warren stole the mayor’s speech off a table and basically edited out most of it. Without looking up his background, the mayor hired this man...not realizing at the time that he’d just employed a speechwriter who believed everyone spoke way too much.
Mayor Abbott is also married to a much younger, prettier wife who has the acting ability of Streep or Loren. She can turn on the frightened waterworks when need be, flutter her eyelashes and show adoration to her ‘old’ husband, and then turn on a dime and be caught in a pool house with a young dog groomer and have a completely believable excuse for the whole thing.
An old acquaintance of Kingsley’s, John Hathaway, walks into Kilobyte one day with his own agenda. Apparently, Hathaway is the only ex-client of Kingsley’s who’s still alive. Trying to get information about the town and its people from his old bodyguard is basically impossible, but Hathaway is there to do a little “detecting” and won’t go away until his own job is complete.
Very soon, strange packages show up for various workers at the Municipal Building and a paid assassin takes a shot at the mayor in his office. The mayor, thinking on his feet, throws both a dog toy and a much heavier bust at the killer, saving his own life. But the assassin escapes and vows to do the job they were hired for. A press secretary ends up murdered, the cops go on the hunt (led by the very cool Sheriff Jenny Blake), and suspects come out of the proverbial woodwork.
Yes, it might be even more thrilling and funny if you began the Warren Kingsley series with book one: Five Star Detour, but this is definitely a standalone that readers will enjoy without knowing any of the Kingsley backstory. This author and his funny, intelligent words will make you wish that he would actually become the speechwriter for someone in this very real election year. That way, at least the jokes would be funny.
Quill says: Sherban Young continues to gift fans with fantastic mysteries that make you laugh out loud.
For more information on Double Talk: A Warren Kingsley Mystery, please visit the publisher's website at: www.mysteycaper.com
Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! (Volume 2)
By: Jerry Hall
Publisher: Sundance Hall Publishing
Publication Date: October 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 4, 2016
What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful thoughts of returning home alive are painfully absent.
Jerry Hall experiences moral dilemmas. Although wanting to avenge death, he still feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. Killing sometimes seems too easy; yet for the enemy, warfare has nothing to do with morality. Learning lessons the hard way, the reader is taken out in the rain-soaked landscape every day, at times screaming at Jerry and telling him not to question what’s right, because if he thinks too long the only one zipped in a body bag will be him.
Personal heartbreak unravels at home, as Jerry attempts airstrikes on suspected V.C. camps while thinking of his beloved son going blind. His brain becomes muddled with anger and alcohol as he says farewell to his annoying captain while a new squadron commander comes aboard. Father William offers up humor and friendship, and a new man arrives (referred to as Walrus), and the loyalty that grows between these men keeps the reader engrossed.
Individual war stories are told, as well as visits with the family who are waiting for the day “Daddy” can come back home. Readers learn that the cockpit was Jerry’s sanctuary—a place where he could think while flying above the madness. In fact, he wanted nothing more than to ride out the rest of the war peacefully. He came to understand that certain people down below were a lot like him. Their families, too, had been ripped apart. Destroyed by the foreign occupation, they now stare at craters where rice paddies used to be.
An assignment back to the States arrives, and the slow trickling of his final days add to Jerry’s nightmares. The ending of this memoir is not something you would guess as you begin Volume 1. Changes certainly occurred for Jerry Hall upon returning home. Perhaps the best lesson to take away from this memoir is the fact that we can change for the better. Perhaps it’s the fact that Jerry Hall crossed many lines, yet somehow found the power within himself to cross back over. But whatever the case may be, the downside remains that war hasn’t become obsolete.
Quill says: This story is a fantastic look at those who served, died, and who returned home to fight a personal war all their own.
*Americans typically write Vietnam as one word. The Vietnamese use two, Viet Nam, when referring to their country. Out of respect, Jerry Hall chose this version.