Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #SouthernFiction Claire Fullerton, #FlashFiction Sarah Brentyn, #FamilyDrama Judith Barrow

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore updates with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with reviews rolling in for her latest novel is Claire Fullerton for Little Tea, which I can also highly recommend

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Apr 26, 2020 Linda Zagon rated it Five Stars

Claire Fullerton, author of “Little Tea’ has written an emotional, poignant, memorable, captivating, intriguing, and thought-provoking novel. The genres for this novel are Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and Domestic Fiction. There is some Historical background mentioned in this story. There are two timelines mentioned in this story, the 1980’s in the south and the present day. The author describes her characters as complex and complicated. This is also a coming of age book. This is a book about family, friendship, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness, love, and hope.

The author discusses important issues that existed in the south in the 1980s, discrimination, and the differences between the poor and richer classes. Sometimes you have to revisit the past, to accept what is in the present and what will be in the future. I love that Claire Fullerton vividly describes the characters, events, and landscape in the story.

In the present, Celia who now lives in California with her husband gets an urgent phone call from her long time friend Renny pleading with her to come to her Lakehouse in Arkansas to discuss and deal with their troubled friend Ava. Celia decides to go, and what is supposed to be a helpful visit to her friends, becomes a visit to the past, memories, and tragedy. Is it possible to learn, forgive, and move on? I would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy reading about southern culture.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

Connect to Claire on her website: Claire Fullerton

The next author celebrating a recent review is Sarah Brentyn for her flash fiction collection On the Edge of a Raindrop.

About the collection

When You’re on the Edge, It’s Easy to Fall

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Finished in a delightful flash  Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2020

Another brilliant book of flash and micro fiction from author Sarah Brentyn. This is the second book by this writer that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The only problem is that I finished it in a flash.

Here are a few lines that stood out for me … although so many others did too …

Her memory lane was pot holes and busted chunks of asphalt.
Lightning lit the room then plunged me into darkness. I was petrified. Not of the storm, but of the thing I’d seen next to my bed.
When the skies were beautiful watercolour paintings of our bruises.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods. Brilliantly done. On the Edge of a Raindrop gets a resounding five stars from me.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Sarah Brentyn

Read the reviews and buy the Collections: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Sarah: Goodreads

Connect to Sarah via her: Blog

The final author is Judith Barrow with a review for her compelling family drama and another book that I can recommendThe Memory.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga

One of the recent reviews

Terry Tyler 4.0 out of 5 stars Familiary breeds contempt…  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 April 2020

I liked the structure of this book a lot – it’s written in the first person, and each chapter starts with a small section in the present day (2002), with Irene, the main character, taking care of her mother, who has dementia. Then it goes back in time, starting in 1963 when she was a child, and her sister, Rose, who has Down’s Syndrome, is born. I really loved the first third, which detailed Irene’s love for her sister (quite beautiful) and the difficulties within the family, with her cold, brusque mother, delightful father and the grandmother she adored. I was completely absorbed. The rest of the story pivots around a shocking event that takes place at around 40%.

The book slowed down for me a little during the middle section, which was about Irene’s growing up and the early part of her marriage to Sam, and I found the family’s lives rather depressing (which is a bit rich coming from someone who writes about dystopian horrors, but I find the end of the world as we know it less depressing than a humdrum life. I know, I’m weird). In the final third developments became much more interesting, and I was engrossed once more. I would have liked a little more in the way of plot, but that’s just personal taste, not a criticism; this is a character rather than a plot-driven book.

The strongest aspect of the latter part of the book was the initial development of the mother’s dementia; I have experience of this with my late mother, and, although the circumstances were very different, it certainly struck a chord, with one particular episode bringing tears to my eyes.

My favourite characters were Irene’s father and her husband, Sam, who I thought got a bit of a raw deal and put up with too much (I do hope he had more fun than he admitted to Irene, during a time when circumstances forced them apart). I can’t say I liked Irene, who put her own obsession with the past before his happiness, and whose outlook often seemed rather narrow (I kept wanting to tell her to lighten up, and do something a bit crazy!), but I appreciated how deeply and lastingly she was affected by the aforementioned shocking event, and she’s a thoroughly three-dimensional character.

The other star of the book is the time and place—the working class northern England of the 1960s and 70s, which was as starkly and realistically portrayed as any TV kitchen sink drama.

The ending brings a most surprising twist directly related to the events of Irene’s earlier years, which filled me with regret on her behalf. If you enjoy emotional family dramas that dig deep into the psyche, you will love this book, with its vivid descriptions of familial conflict, loss and the day to day difficulties of caring for a person with dementia.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

And:  Amazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judith: Goodreads

Connect to Judith via her blog: Judith Barrow

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

28 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #SouthernFiction Claire Fullerton, #FlashFiction Sarah Brentyn, #FamilyDrama Judith Barrow

  1. Thank you so much, Sally, for including me in this author update and showcasing Harmony’s review of On the Edge of a Raindrop. I had just seen Claire’s new book around the blogosphere and it sounds wonderful (love that cover)! And I’m off to check out Judith’s new release. I’ve only read Secrets so far but adored that one. Judith is so talented! Thanks, again. 💙

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – 3rd – 9th May 2020 – New York, Houston, Waterford, Sri Lanka, Asparagus, New books, Reviews, Guests and Laughter | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  3. Thanks, Sally. Another set of great recommendations. Having read Little Tea, I also recommend it, and I’m going to check the rest of the books. Congratulations to all the authors.

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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