Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Weekly News – K.M. Allan, Judith Barrow, Ritu Bhathal, Sandra Cox and James J. Cudney

Welcome to the new  Cafe and Bookstore Weekly News – where I will share recent reviews for authors in the Cafe.

The first author is K.M. Allan with a review for the first book in the Blackbirch series – The Beginning.

About the book

Welcome to Blackbirch. It’s a place no one forgets. Except for Josh Taylor.

The fatal car crash took more than 17-year-old Josh’s parents. It stole his memories and returned him to his birthplace, Blackbirch, a tourist town steeped in a history of witchcraft.

Amongst friends he’s forgotten and a life he doesn’t want, Josh is haunted by nightmares so believable he swears the girl in his dreams is real. Kallie is so captivating he ignores her blood-stained hands, but he can’t overlook the blue glow summoned to her skin.

Kallie says it’s an ancient magic they share and a secret worth hiding, because as Josh discovers, they aren’t the only gifted ones.

To restore his memories and find the true cause of the car accident, he must learn what’s real. And what secrets Blackbirch has buried in its woods.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jan 26, 2021 Tomas Grizzly rated it Five Stars

This is slightly out of my usual genre preferences. And I’ve read it in 3 days. I admit I’m not even sure what genre it is. Paranormal/thriller with fantasy elements, maybe? So, take the 5-star rating with a grain of salt because it’s mostly based on how it dragged me inside but I can’t comment on genre specifics.

Either way, I was easily gripped by the story. The dream sequences were quite livid and nailed their purpose, and the ending raises just the right questions to make me interested in how it may play out next – to the point I’ll likely return to the story sooner or later.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow K.M. Allan: Goodreads – Instagram: K.M. Allan Writer – Facebook: K.M. Allan Writer – Twitter: @KMAllan_writer

The next author is Judith Barrow with a review for her latest novel set in World War I which I can also highly recommend. The Heart Stone.

About the Book

1914. Everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her feelings for Arthur are far more than friendship. And just as they are travelling home, war is declared.

Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals’ Regiment. Jessie’s widowed mother is so frightened, she agrees to marry Amos Morgan. Only Jessie can see how vicious he is. When he turns on her, Arthur’s mother is the only person to help her, the two women drawn together by Jessie’s deepest secret.

Facing a desperate choice between love and safety, will Jessie trust the right people? Can she learn to trust herself?

One of the recent reviews for the book

The Word Bird 5.0 out of 5 stars Consummate storytelling  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 March 2021

As with her previous books, what you get in this latest – The Heart Stone – from the pen of Judith Barrow, is consummate storytelling. Other reviewers have detailed the riveting story. I’m reviewing the writing, which in my view is exceptional.

Once again we are privy to the internal and external life of a brilliant central character. Jessie is as courageous as she is challenged. The rawness of her fears and struggles in the face of the horrors of war and its aftermath, are acutely observed. It is her resilience that shines, moving the story as well as Jessie herself, through the big-picture drama and the everyday, as the story unfolds. It’s perfectly paced, cleverly structured and an absolute joy.

What I particularly appreciate about Judith Barrow’s novels is her attention to detail. There is a breadth of history in this book. It’s almost panoramic in places; it’s also deeply personal: the horror of war encapsulated in the experience of one man. A man Jessie loves. But love, not least in a time of war, is never easy for women. And life on the home front during both world wars presented women with a myriad challenges, with choices which were sometimes no choice at all.

The Heart Stone is an unflinching, very real portrayal of people – families – at war. Above all it is a love story to the women who survived WW1. And those who didn’t. Highly recommended. Not enough stars.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Goodreads – blog: Judith Barrow – Twitter: @judithbarrow77

The next author is Ritu Bhathal for her lovely romance Marriage Unarranged.

About Marriage Unarranged

It all started ended with that box… Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after. But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged. Old images erased, new beginnings to explore. And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

One of the recent reviews for the book

The Bee 5.0 out of 5 stars It made my heart sing in a difficult time  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 February 2021

I started reading ” Marriage Unarranged” at the beginning of my journey through cancer treatment and at first could not get into it. Ashi so got on my nerves in her breaking up and and going through the motions. It was so bad I had to stop reading it. I guess, her emotional state was too close to mine which I had probably totally ignored.

A couple of months later between chemotherapy and radiotherapy it crossed my path again and I gave it another go. This time, I simply could not put it down and spent a couple of nights reading it.

What I love about the book is it’s vibrant characters which are lovable with edges. They keep a brilliant balance of conflict and harmony. You can see that they were created with much love but in a realistic fashion. I also love that many difficult topics (not only for the Indian community) are touched with tenderness, clarity and a huge amount of kindness. Too often today this isn’t the case and taboos are rather judged and dismissed than looked upon from different angles and with an attitude of wanting to understand rather than judge. That really impressed me.

I believe, “Marriage Unarranged” gives you a deep insight into the life of today’s Indian Community and it left me wanting more.

Besides all that, it is simply a beautiful love story that you can let yourself immerse in and go travelling in your mind. I am so looking forward to more books from Ritu Bathal.

Thanks Ritu, for having given me a break in a very difficult time!  

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – andAmazon US- Blog: Ritu Bhathal WordPress Follow Ritu: Goodreads – Twitter: @RituBhathal

The next author is Sandra Cox with her latest release Gwen Slade Bounty Hunter.. another book that I can recommend.

About Gwen Slade Bounty Hunter

Bounty hunter Gwen Slade always gets her man. Until she meets charming outlaw Jordie Kidd.

After Jordie saves her family, she finds she can’t in good conscience turn him in, even if he is worth a thousand dollars dead or alive. Instead she sets her sights on the meanest, most-wanted gang in Kansas. Gwen always works alone until she goes after the gang then finds herself partnering with an unlikely source.

This time around, not only her life, but her heart is on the line.

A recent review for Gwen Slade

Joseph A Congel VINE VOICE  5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written and terrific on so many levels!  Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2021

Author, Sandra Cox knows her craft. I have read several of her novels and all of them have been well-written and edited, and because of her attention to detail, all have been extremely engaging reading experiences. She is a highly talented writer who is in top form in this, her newest offering, Gwen Slade Bounty Hunter.

Gwen Slade is smart. And she’s tough. She can fight, and she knows her way around the barrel of a shotgun. She also has the responsibility of taking care of her younger brother. So to put food on the table, and hopefully one day provide a better life for her family, she puts her skills to work as a bounty hunter. Not an easy task, to say the least, especially for a female living in the west in the late 1800’s. But her ability to take down the bad guy and collect the bounty has gained her the respect few have in her profession.

Gwen has always worked alone, and she prefers it that way. And then in walks Jordie Kidd. A charismatic outlaw with a twinkle in his eye who helps save her family from harm. And although his charms are not completely lost on Gwen, she has no time for that kind of thing. But she doesn’t turn him in, instead letting him go as a gesture for saving her family. And besides, she is gearing up to take down a ruthless gang with a huge bounty on their heads. A bounty large enough to let her and her family finally cash in on the life they’ve always dreamed of.

As Gwen sets out on what she hopes will be her final bounty hunt, she finds herself forced into a questionable partnership. A partnership that she doesn’t want to be in, but turns out to be one she can’t live without.

All I kept thinking throughout this story was what a great movie it would be. It’s a captivating storyline with richly developed characters whose interaction with one another helps draw you into their world. If you are a fan of Western-Romance stories that feature a strong female lead, then you are going to love this book. If you’ve never read a book in this genre, give this one a try. I guarantee you will be a fan by the time you get to the end. I really enjoyed this book. Truly a 5 STAR read.  

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon UK – And: Amazon US- follow Sandra Cox: Goodreads – Blog: Sandra Cox Blogspot – Twitter: @Sandra_Cox

The final author today is James J. Cudney with a recent review for the first book in his Braxton Campus mysteries – Academic Curveball.. this is an excellent introduction to the series that I much enjoyed.

About Academic Curveball

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents.

A recent review for the book

Feb 10, 2021 Teri rated it five stars

I have to be honest – I haven’t read many cozy mysteries, but a small town college setting, the adorable cover, and great reviews drew me to this book.

I immediately liked Kellan. He’s a fairly recent widower with an adorable young daughter who’s trying to do the single dad thing, while also keeping the peace with his in-laws. When he travels to his hometown for his father’s retirement party, it’s clear there’s also friction in his own family. The reader doesn’t have to wait long for the action to begin. A body is discovered at the party and what looks to be an accident is soon revealed to be a murder. In several mysteries I’ve read, it’s pretty obvious who the murderer is early in the story, but that’s not the case in this novel. Several characters have a motive (even some within Kellan’s family), and I was kept guessing until almost the end.

While investigating on his own (and finding himself in some interesting situations), Kellan reconnects with some old friends and a girlfriend. Learning his backstory gave me more insight to his character, and I liked him even more. He also ponders making some life changes in the best interests of his family. Speaking of his family, shout-out to Nana D, who gave me several laugh out loud moments. She’s a feisty, intelligent lady who speaks her mind – and also makes repeated attempts to fix up her grandson with questionable choices in women.

I’m so glad I picked up this cozy mystery – the author has a new fan of the series. I have to comment on that cliffhanger at the end – it was a doozy and completely out of left field. And I absolutely need to know what happens next!

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US andAmazon UK  – Website/Blog: This is my truth nowGoodreads:James J. Cudney – Twitter: @Jamescudney4


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.

41 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Weekly News – K.M. Allan, Judith Barrow, Ritu Bhathal, Sandra Cox and James J. Cudney

  1. Excellent reviews and something for everyone in this varied collection. I’ve read The Heart Stone and loved it, and I have Ritu’s book waiting in my stuffed Kindle! xx

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  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – March 7th -13th 2021 – Free promotion, Petula Clark, Pigeons, Poetry, Anti-Aging, Frozen Shoulders and humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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