Welcome to the second of the Cafe Updates this week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.
The first author with a recent review is Vashti Quiroz-Vega for her short story – Memoir of a Mad Woman.
About the book
A novelette from the award-winning author of The Fall of Lilith and Son of the Serpent, Vashti Quiroz-Vega.
Who can explain how madness begins?
This is the story of Emma. Reared by a religious fanatic, orphaned at a young age and sent to a mental institution and an orphanage. Molested and betrayed by the people who should be watching over her…
Who can say that madness has no logic?
During a fight, Emma’s best friend punched her in the abdomen. Since then, Emma has believed there’s something damaged inside of her.
Every month… she bleeds. She tries to fight it all her life, but the pain and the blood return twenty-eight days later… and the cycle begins again.
But Emma, even in her madness, knows how to take care of herself.
She knows how to make things right…
You may not agree… But, who can reason with insanity?
Read this tragic but fascinating tale and traverse the labyrinthine passages of madness.
One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads
Memoir of a Mad Woman by Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a horror story but entirely believable. Emma introduces herself in the first few pages. Her name, she states, “means ‘whole’– something I’ve longed to be my entire life.” As the story progresses we learn that her father left her at an early age and her mother was a shrieking, religious extremist who died in a house fire when Emma was eleven years old. Concerning the fire, Emma states, “I had nothing to do with it.” This clue caught my attention, especially when I later learned that her mother was doused in “some kind of an accelerant used to ignite the fire.”
Emma was placed in a hospital where doctors noted that she, “Lacks emotions in regard to the severity of the situation.” I have known many friends living on the streets who showed this same lack of emotion. Some were convicted of murder, others who had committed murder were not convicted. In conversation, they seemed ordinary, something that Emma aspired to be.
Memoir of a Mad Woman gave me some insight into the life of a person who had suffered neglect, mental illness, physical and especially sexual abuse. This story will probably give me nightmares but the artistry and mastery of the words, plot, dialog and storyline leave me filled with admiration for the skill of author, Vashti Quiroz-Vega.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MLYP5XP
Also by Vashti Quiroz-Vega
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Vashti-Quiroz-Vega/e/B00GTXG5W4
and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vashti-Quiroz-Vega/e/B00GTXG5W4
Connect to Vashti via her website/Blog: https://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com/
The next author with a recent review for her latest book is Karen DeMers Dowdall for The Captain’s Witch.
About The Captain’s Witch
Lost in the Annals of Time: A Story of Love and War
The Captain’s Witch is a hauntingly beautiful story of love that transcends time. Sara Windsor Knightly, born into a family with generations of witches inherits Windsor Manor, a colonial era manor built in 1680. She had no idea that the Manor is haunted by Jacobite ghosts, and a ghost named Christian Windsor.
He is a gentleman farmer who is also a Captain in the British Brigade in the year 1690 in Colonial Connecticut during King William’s war with the French and the Abenaki Indians. To complicate matters, the White Oak Tree on the property of Windsor Manor, is haunted by the ghost of Alice Windsor Hall. The White Oak Tree was once a sapling on the grave of Alice Windsor Hall, one of Sara’s distant relatives who was falsely accused of witchcraft in 1690. Alice has haunted the White Oak for more than 300 years and she has plans of her own that sets everything in motion. Alice spins a spell that sends Sara and Christian to the year 1690 to save her little girl, Clara, from the hands of Reverend Baron Warwick, a Puritan Zealot who has diabolical plans for the child. Alice promises to return Sara and Christian back home as soon as Clara is safe from harm.
Alice’s promise sends Christian back to war and certain death. A brokenhearted Sara is sent back to the present day to Windsor Manor. Sara is, quite by accident, sent once more back in time to revisit a very different Christian, who has no memory of Sara, putting her in great danger of being accused of witchcraft.
One of the recent reviews for the book
This story reminded me quite a bit of the Outlander series with a fair amount of swashbuckling, romance, and brogue, as well as some time-travel to make things exciting and complicated. But there are plenty of differences too. The main character Sarah is a white (good) witch in modern Connecticut, and she’s untroubled by magic, fairies, and ghosts, several of the latter who reside in her historic home.
The captain, Christian, is one of the ghosts and the source of the story’s romance. There are some clever and humorous moments resulting from the 400 years of technological and cultural advancement separating the two protagonists. It’s clear that the author knows the geographic area and did her research into colonial Connecticut. The thick brogue seems realistic, and once I became accustomed to reading it, I had no problem.
The book seems to have two parts, the first half a time-travel rescue. The villain, a murderous preacher, is pretty dastardly, and yet he’s easily evaded and disappears from the book at the midpoint. The second half dives into the romantic push-pull between Sarah and Christian and provides a satisfying conclusion. The story does need some professional editing to compliment the engaging personalities and plot.
The pace moves along nicely. I liked the two main characters quite a bit. They were well-rounded, and it was especially refreshing to see Sarah so blasé about her supernatural home. Recommended for romance readers who enjoy a little magic
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Captains-Witch-Karen-DeMers-Dowdall-ebook/dp/B07X2BRVB9
Also by K.D Dowdall
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-DeMers-Dowdall/e/B00JO0Q4AM
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Karen-DeMers-Dowdall/e/B00JO0Q4AM
Read more reviews and follow Karen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7394355.K_D_Dowdall
Connect to Karen Anna via her blog: https://karendowdall.com
The final author with a recent review for the first book in her successful Howarth Family Trilogy: Pattern of Shadows is Judith Barrow. I can highly recommend all the books about the Howarth Family.
About Pattern of Shadows
Mary is a nursing sister at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling; life at home a constant round of arguments—often prompted by her fly-by-night sister, Ellen, the apple of her short-tempered father’s eye.
Then Frank turns up at the house one night—a guard at the camp, he’s been watching Mary for weeks—and won’t leave until she agrees to walk out with him. Frank Shuttleworth is a difficult man to love and it’s not long before Mary gives him his marching orders. But Shuttleworth won’t take no for an answer and the gossips are eager for their next victim, and for the slightest hint of fraternization with the enemy.
Suddenly, not only Mary’s happiness but her very life is threatened by the most dangerous of wartime secrets
One of the recent reviews for the book
The first instalment of Judith Barrow’s Mary Howarth series is ‘Pattern of Shadows’, a historical romance set in World War Two Lancashire that explores the challenges and new opportunities for women in wartime. Set against a male-dominated background where the aspirations of working class women have traditionally been put second, war brings change and some people adapt better than others.
Mary is a nursing sister in the hospital attached to a prisoner of war camp, nursing German soldiers captured and injured in action. Some people find that challenging but for Mary it is a satisfying and fulfilling job. Things get complicated when she attracts the attention of two men who could not be more different. One night Mary meets Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the POW camp and, thanks to a combination of unforeseen circumstances, runs to a shelter with him during a bombing raid. This evening has far-reaching consequences for Mary and her flighty younger sister Ellen. There are tensions at home too with her argumentative irascible father and defeated mother, as Tom her older brother is in prison as a conscientious objector and her younger brother, injured fighting, must now work as a coal miner. Meanwhile a new German doctor arrives at the hospital. With two choices in front of her, Mary must decide whether to do what is expected or defy convention, to be loyal to her family who are not always loyal to her, or to be selfish and do something for herself.
A well-paced story combining stalking, prejudice, domestic violence, homophobia, poverty and family strife, Mary is the only unselfish, balanced person in her family. Will she finally put herself first? This is at times a grim story set at a difficult time and at first I worried this was misery fiction and longed for an occasional bright light. But the setting and time period are so well researched I soon relaxed into the story as the character of Mary and her predicament drew me in. I admire her stubbornness, her selflessness and loyalty, above all her bravery. Sometimes she is misguided, always well-intentioned, I look forward to reading more about Mary in ‘Changing Patterns’, the sequel.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1906784051
And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1906784051
Also by Judith Barrow
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow
Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/
Thank you for dropping by today and I hope you are leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.