Book Review: Saving Phoebe Murrow by Author Herta Feely















Women’s Fiction, Adult Fiction

Paperback 425 pages, Kindle edtion 416 pages

Published September 2nd, 2016

Publisher: Upper Hand Press LLC

ISBN13   9781785770326






A timeless story of mothers and daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist, this heart-wrenching debut for fans of Kimberly McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia) and Liane Moriarity (Big Little Lies) will make you question how you and your family spend time online. With Saving Phoebe Murrow, acclaimed writer and longtime children’s activist Herta Feely introduces readers to Isabel Murrow: a suburban mother precariously balancing her busy career as a D.C. lawyer and her family, who she would do anything to protect. In a world of bullies and temptations, all Isabel wants is to keep her thirteen-year-old daughter, Phoebe, safe. But with her hectic schedule, Isabel fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger her daughter faces by flirting with a mysterious boy online. A cyber-bulling incident aimed at Phoebe, with horrific consequences, finally pushes Isabel to the edge. Smartly paced and equal parts shocking and sadly familiar, Saving Phoebe Murrow is a riveting addition to the contemporary women’s fiction landscape that will resonate with parents, teens, and anyone compelled by timely and beautifully crafted stories







Five golden stars isolated on white background




This was a stellar read about the teenage tragedies that exists throughout our society. Gripping, riveting, and deeply disturbing on many levels. This one will stick with you for quite a while. Author Herta Feely does a excellent job of capturing the fragile relationships, peer pressure, and split-second decisions that our young people have to make in order to navigate the world. Front and center is Phoebe’s loving mother and stout attorney, Isabel Winthrop.




CHARACTERS:  5 stars  The Characters were all too real.

PLOT: 5 stars     Masterful and wrought with emotional intensity.

STORY EFFECT:  5 stars  A very powerful story with a lingering effect.


Notes:  The depth of each character is amazing. From adolescents, parents, friends, antagonists it was captured perfectly.

















Herta Feely is a writer, full-time editor, and the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide. Her short stories and memoir have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including The Sun, Lullwater Review, The Griffin, Provincetown Arts, and Big Muddy. In the wake of the James Frey scandal, Feely edited and published the anthology, Confessions: Fact or Fiction? Awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for The Trials of Serra Blue, she has also received an award from American Independent Writers for best published personal essay for a piece on immigration. Feely is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University. She has two grown sons and lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and cats.






Q&A with Isabel Winthrop, mother of Phoebe Murrow in Herta Feely’s new novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow



*If you had to do one thing over in life what would it be?

I would have taken a year off from work when I learned about the extent of Phoebe’s problems – the bullying and the cutting. And then I would have made a point of getting to know my daughter’s friends, Jessie and Emma. Not doing that was a mistake on my part. Definitely. And I believe if I’d done that, what happened to Phoebe in the fall of her freshman year would never have happened.

Well, you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20. I certainly enjoyed meeting Jessie and Emma!











*If you had a chance to do it over again would you homeschool Phoebe, or take your chances in public/private school?

I don’t happen to believe in homeschooling, nor do I think I would be any good at it. But don’t get me wrong, my hat’s off to people who are capable teachers and can provide a solid education to their children by homeschooling. It’s just not for me. I know my limits.

And yes, I would stick with private and/or public school. In the end, I believe you cannot protect your children from life. They will have to go out into the world at some point, as flawed as it sometimes is, and as dangerous as it can be. It’s also a wonderful place…the world, and you just have to help your children navigate the difficult parts.

I bet you could have pulled it off though, Izzy. Your’re fully capable, methodical, determined and very considerate in your way of doing things. 

Your’re right, we can’t protect our children from life. We have to help them navigate through the storm and focus on the beauty in life. But after the storm is over and gone, there’s always the sweetest calm.










*If you could impart a missing virtue into Phoebe what would it be?

I don’t believe Phoebe has any missing virtues. She is a bit over-sensitive, but that’s far better than being insensitive. She is a wonderful human being.

Well said. Over-sensitive, yes. She’s only 13! There’s so many things going on in your head at that age. 




*If you could add a missing virtue to yourself as a parent what would it be?

I’ve learned a lot about being more open-minded and less judgmental. I assumed that Phoebe’s close friends were a bad influence on her, but I think that was wrong. I made those assumptions without really knowing either Jessie or Emma very well. So before judging other people it’s important to actually know them!

Well, you had good reason to be judgmental from the beginning considering what happened. Being open-minded is always a plus, but it’s hard not having a knee-jerk reaction under those circumstances.











*If you were a friend Phoebe’s age, how would you protect her?

It’s difficult to protect someone else at that age, except to be a good and loving friend, there in good times and bad. Maybe in Phoebe’s case, it would have been helpful for her friends to stand up to the children who bullied her in eighth grade (which, I believe, Jessie did as much as possible), and then in ninth grade to counteract the cyber-bullying by writing Facebook posts that are supportive of Phoebe. Even to call Phoebe and suggest she get off of Facebook/the Internet. Or to contact an adult and ask them to intervene. But that’s a lot to ask of 13- and 14-year- old girls and boys.

Having supportive friends in times of trial is certainly a big help. But I suppose that’s asking a lot from a 13 or 14 year old!



*What is the most challenging quality of Phoebe? 

Her emotional volatility. She is a bit too sensitive and reactive to other people’s opinions. But I’m sure she’ll outgrow this once she establishes a firmer sense of herself. This comes with maturity. It also comes from us, her parents, by helping her through this period in her life.

It’s tough being a teenager. Especially managing your own reactions to peers who should be your support group. 
















*What do you cherish most about her?

I cherish Phoebe’s basic goodness. She is a loyal friend; she’s smart and kind and considerate. What more could anyone want?

She’s a sweet kid.



*What from your past has affected your parenting style?

(Isabel arches her brow at the interviewer.) You need to ask? It’s the same for most people, I believe. One’s own parents’ behaviors and parenting styles often influence us, their children. So my father was rigid and uncompromising and so was I. But now I see what that cost me. What that cost us. Phoebe. And I’ll never be that way again. I don’t mean that I will compromise my values, no, but I will listen more closely and try to understand what my children are going through before deciding what’s best in the way of limits, consequences and so on. I’ll even listen to my husband. No doubt there will still be disagreements, but I won’t rush to judgment or to decision so quickly.

I can totally relate to this, Iz. My mother was the rigid disciplinarian type. I know it all too well. But two heads are better than one. Talk it over with Ron, he’s the more easy going type. Tell him I said hello and let’s hook up for coffee sometime. 











*What frustrates you most about other parents?

I can’t help it, but parents who allow their children to do whatever they want without any consequences, well, that drives me crazy. They are trying to be their children’s best friends, and that means they are abdicating their role as parents. You may not believe this, but I’ve actually heard girls say that they wish their parents were stricter and not just let them do everything they ask. Sometimes kids need to be able to say, “No, sorry, my parents won’t let me do that.” They actually want limits, it’s a great way for them to be able to say no but place the blame elsewhere.

YES. This is so true. Children on one had test the limits, but they also want them apparently. Sounds ironic doesn’t it? But it matches my experience. Sometimes I feel bad being the “policeman” all the time but they appreciate and respect the boundaries that are set. 














*If you could encourage other parents, what would you say?

Learn from my mistakes. I was too rigid in upholding rules and not listening closely enough to what my daughter was trying to tell me.

This is such a hard lesson for a parent. It’s almost a science; knowing when to be compassionate and pliable, or when to apply rigidity. I’ve often made the same mistake as you, Izzy.  

Raising children is the most wonderful and difficult experience  we’ll ever have. As they grow up we may not realize that we need to grow along with them. They have their own little personalities and needs….And we need to listen to them. 



















Saving Phoebe Murrow [Upper Hand Press, September 2 2016] is available in paperback and e-book formats via all online and select brick-and- mortar book retailers.

Get your copy today on Amazon




Connect with Herta on Facebook, Twitter,

Goodreads and her website:













Twitter: @hertafeely

Facebook: Saving Phoebe Murrow

Goodreads: Herta Feely







Thank you Herta and Smith Publicity, INC. for a great blog tour!






Benjamin Thomas


Watch “A Thousand Nights Book Review!” on YouTube






Welcome to Television Tuesday














A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson









Have you read or heard of it? Tell me in the comments!




Benjamin Thomas

Book Review: Your Book, Your Brand by Dana Kaye



I’ve been waiting for a book like this!





Writing your book is just the beginning of a long journey. Especially in today’s new age of mass publishing. There’s probably more writers in the market today than ever before. Which makes it even more critical to be educated on what to do after your book is published. In order to be successful authors we need more than just knowledge of publishing. We need to continually learn how to effectively market and promote our books. So whether you’re self-published or traditional, this book is for you.

Dana Kaye does a wonderful job laying out this comprehensive guide. From developing your campaign, content strategy, pitching, media, it’s all there. Want to be your own publicist or hire one from the outside? Look no further. This book is a step by step guide for anyone looking for practical advice from a seasoned professional.




Benjamin Thomas


Forensic Lenses: Interview with Voracious Reader, blogger and Reviewer Candace















Take the journey to enjoy the view -Jeffrey Benjamin






What is the actual experience of the reader? -Benjamin Thomas










Welcome back ladies and gentlemen for another edition of Forensic Lenses; an investigative and exploratory approach into minds of voracious readers. Somewhat recently I put my thinking cap on (Yes, I have one) and imagined viewing people in a different light. Not just as writers, but as readers. Reading is the fire that ignites the imagination in so many that have become authors. So we’re here trying to discover the vast wealth of the complete reader experience. Join me, as we embark on this journey.



Everybody please welcome Candace!






Candace is a book fiend, a classic reviewer, excellent blogger, and the awesome mind behind Literary Dust.  You can find her on Twitter at @literarydust, on Facebook Literary Dust: A Bookish World, and on Instagram at Literarydust.




I’m so glad I had opportunity to connect with Candace, because she is an avid reader who consumes books by the minute. I wish I could read as fast as she does. Or perhaps, a second set of eyes could be helpful. Or it could prove to be more troublesome! Hah!




*You’re a blogger, book reviewer and a reader.  Are you also a writer or artist?

Well I try to write, but haven’t gotten far enough where I could be called a writer. Hopefully one day I will finish a book. I also used to be really into photography, but I don’t have much time for that.  As for any other art form? I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life.

Hey, if you writing you’re a writer. There’s no set of rules to dictate the designation. You’re a writer when you call yourself one. This kind of struggle is fairly common actually. Myself included. It took me several months to call myself a writer. Try it, its fun!



*What did you study in school? 

I studied to be a teacher, but I didn’t finish that.

Never too late I suppose. You don’t necessarily need school to be a positive role model in someone’s life though.



*I saw that you are obsessed with books. What is it about books that you love?

I love the escape, and the opportunity to be in someone else’s mind for a moment. The fact that you can go almost anywhere whether it is a fictional world that is beautiful or dark without the worry of something dreadful actually happening to you yet getting to experience something incredible.


Candace, I utterly enjoy the escapism too. The last six years have been a complete nightmare. I plunged deep into depression without a way out. Just this morning while listening to an audiobook on the way to work was therapeutic. I take great pleasure being in someone else’s skin for a while. You know, there’s a lot of benefits to audiobooks that you don’t get by reading. The subtle intonation of voice, minor dramatic effects, and the different dialects of characters make a BIG difference. Actually I laughed pretty hard a few times because the way something was said. 



*What is your current occupation? 

I actually stay at home.  I suffer from hemiplegic migraines.

More time to read books!  Sometimes all I want to do is read and write. Put the world and everything in it on pause. 







Time to read…





*What were your favorite childhood books and why?


Strega Nona, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Giving Tree. I loved these books because they have meaning within them, and I feel they teach life lessons inside of their short pages, and the pictures inside are memorable and have stayed with me.


Those are the best. The stories that teach you something with theme and rich significance. You can’t beat it.



*You mentioned how you like to be in someone else’s mind when reading. Name your all time favorite characters and how you most relate to them.


I was always into reading when I was younger, but when I was in high school I read 1984, and that book opened a whole new world for me. Being in Winston’s head was interesting, and the whole thing was just intense.  I feel like if I were in that situation with the whole “Big Brother” type situation I would want to break the rules too.

Nice. It’s stunning, how one character can open up “worlds” for us when we read them on the page. Amazing.



*Name your top five fictional worlds


1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by: Sarah J. Maas 

2. The Covenant series by: Jennifer L. Armentrout 

3. The Hunger Games by: Suzanne Collins

4. Angelfall by: Susan Ee

5. Shatter Me by: Tahereh Mafi


Don’t hate me, but I actually haven’t read any of these authors yet. I always enjoy seeing what others favs are though. Thanks for sharing. 



*If you had a one way ticket  to one of them, which would it be?

Most of these worlds would actually be pretty scary to live in, but I am going to go with A Court of Thorns and Roses because in Rhysand’s world I could spend an eternity.


Sounds intriguing!








*Have you ever cried while reading? If so, why, and state what you were feeling at the moment.

I have cried while reading, but I don’t get hysterical.  It is mainly just tears sliding down my face, but it has been when characters I really have grown to love die, and it feels like a piece of your soul has been torn away.  It is weird how you can feel for these characters that aren’t even real, yet they feel so three dimensional.


This is the most amazing experience, when an author can make me cry. There’s only two books where I’ve almost cried, only because I was holding back. *he he he*   😉







It’s good to cry, let those feelings out. 


You know in some countries if you burp that means the meal was good. Well, if and when there’s a tear streaking down your face, hats off to the author. 









*Name your favorite YA books and what you love about them. 

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, The Under the Never Sky series by: Veronica Rossi, The Precious Stone Trilogy by: Kerstin Gier, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses by: Sarah J. Maas, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Falling Kingdoms series by: Morgan Rhodes, and The Blood of Eden series by: Julie Kagawa, and I could keep going on for a while. I love these mainly because most of them are just a whole different world, and these characters just all do things that normal people just don’t do, and I love that.

I can almost see your enjoyment here. Great!





*Name your top 5-10 pet peeves you hate when reading a book. 

1. Too much self loathing

2. When characters say someone “Let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding”. How is that possible?

3. If characters have kissing scene etc. and get interrupted too many times. Does that happen in real life?

4. Way too many point of views.

5. Names I can’t pronounce. Unless the author provides a page on how to sound out the names.


Hold it right there, pal…




*What other genres do you read?

Fantasy, Paranormal, New Adult contemporary. I can’t do a lot of the “People with real problems” type books.

I hear you. Guess that could be rather depressing.



*What do you think of the current 5 star system for book reviews?

It is okay, but I know the 3 star area is different to some people. Some people say 3 stars is still a good book while others have 3 stars as thinking it wasn’t great, so it is all opinion pretty much.

I’ve heard the same thing. It think it serves a certain purpose while failing in others. Doesn’t capture the complete reader experience in my opinion. But eh, what do I know?



*When you rate a book, do you have specific criteria? Or does it depend on your subjective feeling?

If I am left really thinking about the book I give it a 5. I don’t really give books a 1 because those are ones that I wasn’t able to finish, but I feel bad about rating a book I don’t finish, so I just don’t rate it at all.

Same here. If I didn’t finish a book I wouldn’t be able to properly assess it.



*In your opinion, who are the top authors of the century and why?
Wow okay sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have something like Shakespeare or Poe. At the moment it has to be Sarah J. Maas. Her series are just so addicting and always has me yearning for the next book.
You just elicted the WOW factor!
Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising
Give credit to Sarah J. Maas
*Over the course of your life, how has reading affected you?
It has opened doors to all sorts of places where I now have an open mind and can see from others perspectives even if I don’t agree with their actions. I feel that that has helped me be a better person and can empathize with people in real life and understand the choices that some people make even if they are not the same choices I would choose. Everyone is different, and if we were all the same and thought the same then what a boring world this place would be.


Awesome! I read somewhere that reading literally changes your brain and how you think. Empathy was one thing the article mentioned. That’s so cool!



Thanks for joining us Candace!













~Books fall open, you fall in. -David McCord







“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.” -Maud Casey







Never take for granted what you read -Benjamin Thomas






Benjamin Thomas