Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Fantasy/Horror Vashti Quiroz-Vega, #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #ScienceFiction Teri Polen, #Memoir Karen Ingalls, #SeeingEyeDog Patty Fletcher

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first author with books to delight fantasy/horror/thriller lovers, is Vashti Quiroz-Vega and her featured book today is the first book in the Fantasy Angels Series – The Fall of Lilith.

About The Fall of Lilith:

So says Lilith, the most exquisite of the angels. The two most important pledges an angel makes to God are those of obedience and celibacy, and dire consequences await any who break their oaths.

At first, the angels are happy in their celestial home, learning and exploring together. As they grow older, though, Lilith begins to question these pledges, which now seem arbitrary and stifling. Her challenge of the status quo leads to disagreement, jealousy, and strife among her peers. As the arguing and acrimony grow, lines are drawn and sides are chosen. Is war inevitable?

Filled with robust characters, incredible landscapes, and exciting action, The Fall of Lilith is an epic tale of seduction, betrayal, and revenge.

Free Will involves asking difficult questions and making hard choices, choices that require strength and sacrifice. These decisions can tear apart friendships and cause rifts between allies.

They can even threaten the foundations of Heaven.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Nov 15, 2019 Joshua Grant rated it Five Stars

Vashti Quiroz-Vega paints a fascinatingly dark picture of the dawn of creation in The Fall of Lilith! As angels rebel against God following Lilith, humanity falls into their crosshairs. Quiroz-Vega’s look at a time before humanity was incredibly intriguing, filled with depth and action that kept me flipping for more! Check this one out if you love angels or fantasy with a darker twist!

Also by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Read the reviews and buy both books: Amazon US

and : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Vashti : Goodreads

Connect to Vashti via her website: Vashti – WordPress

The next author is Mary Smith and I have selected No More Mulberries to feature as it was a book that I fell in love with and have in fact read twice. I can highly recommend. Mary has also a number of other books based on her work in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Scottish history.

About the book

Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.

When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

Her husband, too, has a past of his own – from being shunned as a child to the loss of his first love.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jul 09, 2019 James rated it Five Stars

No More Mulberries is an international contemporary drama written by Mary Smith and published in 2009. The story focuses on Miriam, a Scottish midwife, who has married two men from Afghanistan during her lifetime. The tale unfolds by jumping time frames across different chapters to share the reasons why Miriam’s life has become what it is today. At times, her days have been heartbreaking, and at others, they have been an admirable source of strength. I chose this book because I’d seen many positive reviews and it fit the parameters for my month of international and/or autobiographical reads. Let’s chat more about this complex and wonderful story…

Miriam had a wonderful husband and life, but he passed away. She had a young son to raise in Afghanistan during a difficult period in the country’s history, especially for a red-haired Scottish woman with strong beliefs about how things should be. Knowledgeable in medicine, she won over some of the village, yet she always knew she was viewed differently. Then, she remarried and had another child with the second husband. At first, they had a strong love. Although she’d converted to Muslim, her husband, Iqbal was careful to find a balance between his beliefs and her beliefs. While he could be strict, he was by no means radical or excessively controlling of his wife. As tension rises between them, Miriam revisits her past to understand why her first husband died. Through the process, her eyes are opened about her own blame in the new marriage as well as as what truly happened to her first beloved.

The story is rich with a supporting cast who provide laughter, love, fear, and pain. Smith eloquently shares a culture and a lifestyle with her audience, some who may know little about the Muslim faith or Afghani culture. While I’ve read a few other books focusing on this part of the world, they tended to stick to the religious aspects of the Middle East rather than the social aspects. I was glad to experience a different side of the life through this story and the author’s wonderful ability to showcase both the good and the bad.

Questions of parenting, forgiveness, pain, tolerance, and curiosity quickly enter a reader’s mind. What will become of someone who defies her husband? Who will stand by you when you have no one else to trust? How do you ensure the village listens to your advice on bearing a child when the culture dictates the complete opposite solution? This novel helped me understand a different mindset, and while it wasn’t necessarily one I agree with or support, I found a balance of alternative ideas and options to push me to think more critically. It’s a great experience, and one we should all have when reading a book about something different than our own knowledge.

A great find, and something that would be a benefit for all readers with an open mind, a curiosity about life outside their own culture, and a small glimpse into the world that many know from the outside but little know from the inside.

Also by Mary Smith

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Mary: Goodreads

Connect to Mary: Mary Smith’s Place

Now one for those of you who enjoy Science Fiction/Fantasy from Teri Polen with The Gemini Connection which has received a recent review.

About The Gemini Connection.

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is. On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing. A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Kevin Cooper 5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly penned. 12 November 2019

This is one of the best sci-fi stories I’ve read in a long, long time. What I loved about it the most was the dynamics in the relationships between, Evan and Max, Syd and Evan, Simon and Max, and of course, the Gemini connection between, Evan and Simon. The intensity of these relationships alone is enough to keep the reader intrigued page after page in this brilliantly penned masterpiece.

Also by Teri Polen

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Teri: Goodreads

Connect to Teri via her website: Teri Polen

The next book, is in my opinion one that all women would find interesting and inspiring and their partners too. Written by ovarian cancer survivor, author and retired nurse Karen Ingalls – Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Survivor.

About Outshine

When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage II Ovarian Cancer, she realized how little she knew about what was once called ”the silent killer.” As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, Ingalls redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality.

In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and positive companion, offering a refreshing perspective of hope with the knowledge that ”the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation.”

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is a story of survival, and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.

One of the recent excellent reviews for Outshine

Ms Fiza Pathan 5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Read! September 5, 2019

Outshine’ by Karen Ingalls is a memoir of strength, faith & resilience in the face of Cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 2 Ovarian Cancer & this book is about how she tackled the cancer or as Ingalls puts it ‘the big C word’. This is a memoir penned by a strong woman who did not buckle down in the face of ‘the big C word’. I admire her husband Jim who was a great support to her during this situation. I don’t think I would ever be as brave as Ingalls if I ever was detected with a fatal disease. Kudos to her for her perseverance & faith in the Almighty. Ingalls’ book is tender, inspirational & full of wonderful soul stirring quotes at the end of every chapter that can make your day brighter. She shows herself to be a woman of spirit & a woman who has taken the cancer she was a victim too as a life lesson or a test sent to her by the Almighty to make her a better human being. Kudos to her on that point. This book is interactive with a set of excellent questions at the end of the book which can be used for discussion purposes at any book club or any place where books about Cancer survival are discussed. I highly recommend this book to anyone & everyone who needs a bit of sunshine in their lives. I also highly recommend this book to Cancer patients, survivors & care givers. I hope to read more books by Ingalls in the near future, especially her novels which she wished to write after her chemotherapy was over. Do support this book & happy reading to you

Also by Karen Ingalls.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Karen: Goodreads

Connect to Karen via her blog: Karen Ingalls Blogspot

The final book today is for dog lovers and tells the story of how a Seeing Eye dog transformed the life of Patty Fletcher – Campbell’s Rambles

About Campbell’s Rambles

This is the story of how the author obtained her first guide dog, Campbell, from The Seeing Eye™ in Morristown, New Jersey: what motivated her, the extensive training she had, the special relationship she developed with her trainer, and the good friends she made.

Once she returned home to Tennessee, there were many new challenges to be met and overcome, including domestic abuse. All that was in addition to her chronic conditions of bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia.

With honesty, courage, and humor, Patty Fletcher tells a remarkable story of personal development that is sure to inform, entertain, and inspire others, both blind and sighted.

One of the recent reviews for Campbell’s Rambles

Certain books come to you at just the right time. I have been meaning to read Patty Fletcher’s memoir entitled Campbell’s Rambles for quite some time, but life events have prevented me from doing so. I regret not reading the book sooner. This book is one of my favorite reads this year. Campbell’s Rambles is a story of the beautiful love that exists between a dog handler and her first guide dog. But, more than that, the book reaffirms that life is a gift, that though many hardships exist, love always manages to find a way into your heart.

I was so touched by Patty’s gradual realization that the relationship between a handler and their dog is based upon mutual love and trust. Her first meeting with Campbell made me both laugh and cry. I love sloppy dog kisses, too, and could totally relate to the moment she realized that she and Campbell belonged together. A particularly favorite scene for me occurs at a time when Patty is threatened and Campbell illustrates his unfailing loyalty to her. Campbell’s Rambles affirms something I have known for some time: that animals love those who show them love in return and will defend those for whom they care with every fiber of their being.

Perhaps the best aspect of Patty’s book is the growth she experiences through the gentle caring and steadfast support of Mr. Drew Gibbon, her instructor at The Seeing Eye. I loved certain scenes where Patty learns to accept the kind offers of assistance from others. One of my favorite scenes occurs in a creamery. I will not provide spoilers. I will just say that a simple act of kindness means so very much. I related most to her feelings of self-doubt as it is a problem that has always plagued me as well. Campbell’s Rambles is a candid and fast-paced memoir that I simply could not put down. Acquiring a seeing eye dog is a momentous decision, and I enjoyed learning about Patty’s experiences and the enriching rewards Campbell has brought into her life. I also loved learning of the independence Patty has found through her time with Campbell.

The book has given me a desire to consider the possibility of training to acquire a guide dog more seriously. At the very least, it has given me insight into the joys (and challenges) that await when life-changing decisions are made. As my favorite person in the book says, “Take a chance. You have a 50 percent chance of being right”.

Campbell’s Rambles is thoroughly recommended. I urge anyone who is considering acquiring a guide dog or who would like to learn more about the process and the experiences of one particular handler to give the book a chance. A prospective sequel entitled The Raw Truth was mentioned in the Afterword of Campbell’s Rambles. I hope that one day it will be written. I will definitely read it. Happy reading to you all.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Connect to Patty via her blog: Campbell’s World

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm… thanks Sally.

35 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Fantasy/Horror Vashti Quiroz-Vega, #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #ScienceFiction Teri Polen, #Memoir Karen Ingalls, #SeeingEyeDog Patty Fletcher

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up- 18th – 24th November – Storms, Malta, Thanksgiving Menu and Tributes, and Christmas Book Fair. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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