Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Judy Penz Sheluk, Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton, Billy Ray Chitwood and Diana J. Febry

The first book with a recent review is one that I am currently reading and is the latest release of Judy Penz Sheluk – Past & Present – A Marketville Mystery.

About Past & Present

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

This is the second in Judy Penz Sheluk’s Marketville Mystery series, set in a small town outside Toronto, and the series establishes a cozy, warm-hearted atmosphere. As in her earlier book, Skeletons in the Attic, the first-person narrator is Calamity (Callie) Barnstable.

Along for the adventure are her friends Chantelle Marchand and Arabella Carpenter, owner of a nearby antiques shop (the protagonist in Sheluk’s other series, the Glass Dolphin Mysteries).

In this book, Callie and Chantelle team up in a new business called Past & Present Investigations, in which they hope to use Callie’s research acumen and Chantelle’s genealogical knowledge to help people find missing relatives. Arabella will help if someone brings in an old object related to the missing person, and Callie’s retired librarian friend will do the archive searches.

Callie vacillates between loving the business idea and fearing they will find nothing but dead ends, but Sheluk has written nicely three-dimensional characters that are game to try. Callie also faces an ongoing personal challenge. It seems she cannot escape the hostility of her grandfather. He has never forgiven her mother for marrying Callie’s father who was, her grandfather felt, many ladder-rungs beneath her.

Before long, Arabella sends Callie a potential client. Louisa Frankow’s German grandmother, Anneliese, immigrated from England in 1952 on the ship Canberra. A mystery surrounds her grandmother’s death only a few years after that voyage. Family papers and photos and other clues to the grandmother’s past are few, but Callie locates an ephemera dealer with relevant artifacts from voyages of that era—much more glamorous than modern-day trans-Atlantic air travel, that’s for sure!

Callie and Chantelle capitalize on the growing online availability of genealogical databases, newspaper archives, and the like. You may be familiar with these possibilities, if you’ve done some family research of your own, and Sheluk makes the search for Anneliese’s past full of the thrill of discovering how the pieces fit. They learn that Anneliese was murdered, and her husband convicted of manslaughter (on very flimsy evidence, in Callie’s view). He’d been in prison only a few months when he was stabbed to death in the showers. If he was not guilty, as Callie suspects, the real murderer is responsible for two deaths.

Sheluk includes a couple of features that require a bit of a leap of faith. She relies on a long-ago coincidence, which, granted, might have been more likely in the early 1950s when Toronto’s population was a third its current-day size. And, she’s helped by a psychic who interprets objects, and while Callie remains skeptical of the validity of psychic phenomena, the psychic’s revelations help confirm her hypotheses about the crime.

The murder in this book is many years old, but it has consequences for Louisa and Callie too, which makes it significant even without splattering fresh blood all over the pages. It’s fun to watch Callie and her friends in action, and the book ends with the promise of another interesting case to come.

It’s a quick and satisfying read for those who like cozy mysteries or are fascinated by the long tail of the past.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK :

Also by Judy Penz Sheluk


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About Judy Penz Sheluk

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While the Bombs Fell which is written by Robbie Cheadle and her mother Elsie Hancy Eaton is also receiving new reviews.

About While the Bombs Fell

What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?

Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.

Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes

One of the recent reviews for the book

While The Bombs Fell is a well written book about growing up in England during World War II. It’s brimming with great appreciation for the simple things in life that we take for granted these days, such as, eating bread and butter and getting a new dress. The accounts about families spending time together enjoying songs brought a smile to my face. It was impossible not to be in awe of the hard work and patriotism of the men, women and children so vividly depicted in this novel.

If you enjoy reminiscing or are interested in learning about growing up in Britain during World War II, then you’ll definitely enjoy While The Bombs Fell.

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And Amazon UK:

Children’s books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

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The next author with a recent review is Billy Ray Chitwood for Hammer’s Holy Grail – A novel of Love and Redemption.

About Hammer’s Holy Grail

A star quarterback at Grand View University in Knoxville, Tennessee battles not only his gridiron foes but his Appalachian father’s anger toward his mother and sister. By a turn of fate and nature, Wesley Walton will meet a man ravaged by war and lost love, a man, through his hardships, has come to peace with his spirituality, a man who will become a surrogate soulmate and mentor to the confused young athlete.

This is a short novel but it is long on love, family, forgiveness, and football action – all blending to make this short read a ‘tour de force’ in its own right, with a twist at the end to tie the ribbon to this gift of a novel!

One of the recent reviews for the book

Billy Ray Chitwood has a wonderful way of telling a story. He writes as though he is sharing with a close friend. With humble casualness, he draws the reader into situations often hidden from sight and exposes a deeper story. His characters are familiar and their passions relatable. Through their vulnerabilities, we see our own. We experience domestic violence – as the hurt child, as the beaten spouse, and as the abuser. We experience love – driven, consuming and also tender. Hammer’s Holy Grail takes the reader on a journey through life’s challenges and life’s gifts.

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and on Amazon UK:

Here is a small selection of Billy Ray’s books


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Reviewer Gwen Plano is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Gwen Plano, Buy:

The final author today with a recent review is Diana J. Febry the author of the Peter Hatherall mysteries and her recently published book Five…Twisted Truth

About Twisted Truth

It’s hard to defend yourself when you have memory lapses, and everyone thinks you are crazy.

Journalist, Megan Roach, is given a story by an old man in a nursing home that could make her famous. When her carefully constructed life starts to unravel, she is forced to confront her childhood demons and the possibility she could be a murderer.

DCI Peter Hatherall uncovers a conspiracy that confronts his own beliefs and goes far deeper than Megan Roach imagined. But can he believe anything she says?

One of the recent reviews for the book:

Twisted truth. What an apt title in our age of fake news and so much corruption, where truth is hard to come by or believe. Of course that title captured my attention but I’m also a frequent reader of this author, having read the earlier in the Powell series. And speaking of fake news, no surprise that one of the main characters is a reporter, Megan Roach, who works with her photographer, Rob. They are cast well; she with the frustration of working for a rag newspaper and wanting for her chance at fame and accolades and he a great counter-part to her character, a gay man who is just embarking on a relationship with a man in the closet (an elementary school teacher). Then factor into the cast of great characters is Peter Hatherall, his side-kick DI Fiona Williams (who he has an unrequited attraction for), his wife Sally, and their children (featured in the backdrop).

Into the storyline comes David Prater a wealthy and influential businessman, his mother, Miranda, a deceased wife, Carolyn (the victim who we learn about in hindsight who has a lover on the side who was also murdered with her), and mention of the rich and well connected deceased politician father. There are many other characters who enter for subplots that shine richness into the story: the newly married couple who ask Hatherall to check into another of their friends who have gone missing, a young runaway boy who stole a horse from a glue factory but this is no ordinary horse, and Lorna a friend who mysteriously pops up from Megan’s childhood (a childhood she doesn’t remember as she’s been adopted).

The story begins with Megan and Rob covering a story at a nursing home. There an elderly man on a wheelchair surreptitiously captures her attention. She mistakes him for a demented elderly, which couldn’t be further from the truth. He has a box he wants to give to a reporter. He can’t go to the police; it’s too dangerous—the police are in cahoots with the powerful involved. Megan is doubtful about its contents until later when she opens it and see evidence that points to a murder; of David Prater’s wife and lover. As the story unfolds the reader comes to learn that Carolyn Prater knew her life was endangered. She wanted to leave her husband who she claims has secrets.

The storyline’s intensity increases when Megan asks a police officer friend of hers to send her the file on the auto accident that killed Carolyn and others. It’s missing. Been deleted or sideswiped and she is told to leave it alone. Into the story factors the earlier mentioned boy on the horse who Hatherall and Fiona are now looking for. This leads them to David Prater, who takes an interest in working with the boy; training him for races as news has spread that the boy on bareback is jumping hedges and fences and showing great show promise. While on that case Hatherall catches wind that a reporter has asked about Prater’s wife’s missing file. When his interest is piqued, he enquires to some locals to discover that David and Carolyn had a discreetly open relationship. And another juicy tidbit is it’s questionable that their sons are his.

As the storyline comes together the reader goes beyond questioning if Carolyn and others in the car were murdered to who did it? No spoilers here. This is a tightly-written, well-crafted, detailed story rich in a main theme and subplots. The relationship between Hatherall and Fiona is witty and well dialogued, which has always been a treat in reading this author. Febry knows how to weave a mysterious yarn that not only captures and holds attention but is highly entertaining. 

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The other books in the DCI Peter Hatherall series

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And on Amazon US:

Read many more reviews and follow Diana on Goodreads:

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Thank you for visiting today and I hope you will head over and check these authors and their books out further. thanks Sally.


21 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Judy Penz Sheluk, Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton, Billy Ray Chitwood and Diana J. Febry

  1. Another great set of prolific authors with fascinating stories, Sally! I’ve got Robbie’s WWII book on my Kindle and just need a few more days to my week to get to it, but I will, I will. It’s interesting how cozy mysteries are becoming a respected and well-liked genre now. I enjoy them on a cold snowy night, and Past & Present sounds perfect for that. Billy Ray – the deepfelt intense stories he writes stay for the reader long after the book is closed. Twisted Truth sounds like an edge-of-the-seat well-written mystery.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – St. Kitts, Mother Sauces, Family Drama, Music, Short Stories and Humout | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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