Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #WWI #Family Judith Barrow, #Thriller Mark Bierman, NorthernIreland #Thriller Jane Buckley

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

The first book today with a recent review is The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow

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?

A recent review for The Heart Stone

DGKaye 5.0 out of 5 stars Love and War and Family  Reviewed in the United States on July 24, 2021

This is a beautifully written heartfelt story that takes place during the beginnings of World War I through 1921. It’s the story of love and war and the people whose lives are affected, painted beautifully with imagery and prose by this talented writer who is known for her heart-wrenching family saga historical fiction storytelling. It’s a story about struggles, love, hatred, abuse, survival, and highlighting the strength of the women left to endure.

Jessie and Arthur are best friends since childhood, now teenagers at the tender age of 16, who’ve discovered their friendship has blossomed into true love, Arthur decides he must enlist to join the war, despite his not being of legal age yet.

Jessie’s widowed mom runs a bakery and Jessie works alongside her mom to run the store, but at the news of upcoming war, quite a few bakers enlisted, leaving mom with the decision to marry Amos Morgan, head baker, who Jessie detests and remains puzzled why her mother would succumb to allowing Amos into the family business by marrying him.

In her own worries, Jessie and Arthur’s friendship turns into a romantic relationship just before Arthur announces he’s enlisted – under-aged, but the thrill of asserting his manhood calls, and he volunteers to join the fight with his country, England. This decision leaves Jessie distraught and tightening her bond with Arthur’s widowed mom, Edna, as they can share their worries and commiserate together.

Months pass no word from Arthur, but Jessie, now pregnant from their last goodbye stint continues to visit the the heart stone up the hill where they declared their undying love forever before Arthur left. Meanwhile, Amos the pig, married to Jessie’s mother, finds every opportunity to ‘touch’ Jessie. This was enough for her to revolt and move into Arthur’s mother’s home with her as a safe place and company to raise the baby.

Time passes and there’s no word from Arthur, but Jessie keeps in touch with her friend Clara, married to Stanley, Arthur’s best friend who also enlisted for war. Stanley eventually returns home – in a wheelchair, but home. Jessie travels to visit them in hopes to discover some news about Arthur.

Back at the bakery, Jessie’s mom falls ill and becomes bedridden, putting more pressure on Jessie at work – and more time around the pig, Mr. Morgan. After mum passes, Morgan takes over the bakery, even though it is rightfully in mum’s will left to Jessie, and that presents another interesting tidbit as to how he took over and what happened after; karma perhaps? And then suddenly, another baker, ‘old’ friend of Jessie’s, Bob Cleg, proclaims a sudden desire for Jessie. Somehow these two end up married – not in a good way, and a lot more dramatic things happen along the book to keep us turning the pages, and alas, Arthur returns home! This changes the dynamic of things to come now that Jessie is unhappily married to a man she can’t stand and the love of her life returns. And to find out what happens next, you are going to want to read this book!  

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

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

The next author today is Mark Bierman with a review for his novel a thriller set in Haiti, Vanished which I can highly recommend.

About the book

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.

Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

One of the recent reviews for the book

W.T.Hammond 4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!  Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2021

I finally got around to finishing Vanished and the only negative thing I can say is that I’m sorry I didn’t read this earlier!

This was a powerful read about the controversial and real topic of human trafficking/child trafficking.

The story’s backdrop is the island of Haiti.

Multiple characters tell the story as it unfolds to a exciting ending. The characters kept me invested to keep reading.

Great read overall. Fantastic work by Mark Bierman!  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Follow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

Delighted to welcome Jane Buckley to the Cafe and Bookstore with her debut novel Stones Corner Turmoil. This is the first in a four book series with book two available soon.

About the book

Be warned! Stones Corner Turmoil is a gruelling read. It’s harsh but importantly truthful and objective. If you love a terrific thriller with individual stories that form a cataclysmic ending then this book is for you! At the same time, learn what everyday life was REALLY like in Derry during those dark, harsh times.

Caitlin McLaughlin is just like any other teenage girl: during the week she works at the Rocola shirt factory in Stones Corner, Creggan where she has become secretary to her boss’s dishy nephew James. At the weekend she likes music and trips into the city with her best friend, but this is Derry 1972. A simple trip to the shops can lead to life-changing injuries or death and staying at home can be just as dangerous when the British Troops raid house to house .

Robert Sallis is a private with the Royal Fusiliers recently posted to the city. He’s repelled by the way some of his fellow soldiers behave; wary too of civilian feelings running high against the occupying army. Accidentally separated from his patrol in Creggan, he’s discovered by Caitlin hiding in her family’s garden. He expects the worse but having seen enough violence too close to home, she doesn’t give him away. Instead she prefers to daydream about her charming boss who has made his feelings for her plain. A Catholic girl from the Bogside and the Protestant heir to a big local employer….

In her youthful innocence, Caitlin believes their love can overcome the triple obstacles of politics, class and faith. Meanwhile Robert, newly recruited to British undercover forces, is closing in on a terrorist strike in the heart of the city centre.

One of the recent reviews for the book

After Bloody Sunday, things are still volatile in Northern Ireland. The British forces in Derry, exhausted from lack of success, are zealous for payback. Private Robert Sallis is in his barracks, trying to understand the hatred with which he and his mates are daily bombarded.

19-year-old Caitlin McLaughlin is terrified by the sounds of invading helicopters. The Brits already have her brother Martin, who’s friendly with the Provos. Now they’ve come, causing as much destruction as possible, for her father Patrick.

A girl is wooed by the fervent Republican Kieran. Kieran convinces her to set up a honeytrap for soldiers.

Caitlin and her sister Tina try to carry on. Caitlin, her face black and blue from the soldiers’ blows, goes to work at the only remaining shirt factory. The boss’s nephew, James Henderson, catches her eye.

Her father has a heart attack in custody, and a neighbour rushes them to the A&E, through aggravating checkpoints and impossible traffic. There’s been a bombing, and the A&E is swamped. Her father is badly beaten, unresponsive, and not expected to last the night.
James, in his uncle’s opulent dining room, finishes his partridge dinner, surrounded by Protestant businessmen, politicians and policemen. The factories are threatening a strike against internment. At work, James needs a secretary, and her supervisor suggests Caitlin, warning him that she’s ‘a Papist’.

As he and Caitlin pursue a clandestine love affair, James plans a conference with both sides of the sectarian divide, hoping for a rescue strategy for the factory and peace for Derry.

All these characters interconnect in complex and heart-wrenching ways, finally climaxing at the fateful conference at the City Hotel. Stones Corner-Darkness, Part II of the series, deals with the fallout from this event.
The characters are rich, and the plot moves along at a good pace. The dramatisation is great and the dialogue believable.

My only niggle was that I found Robert’s naïveté a bit surprising. Surely British troops in Northern Ireland knew precisely what their historic role was. James seems a bit clueless, too. The characters at the extreme ends of the Republican/Orange spectrum—Kieran and Charles Jones—are a bit one-dimensional, but that’s alright, as all the other characters are well developed.

This novel is gorgeously written, with careful editing. We feel the terror of the raid on Derry—the down-draught of helicopter blades, the rattling of rooftiles, the salivating German Shepherds—the agonising grief at her father’s death.
I rate this 5 stars Plus.  

Print copies available: Jane Buckley Writes

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon USFollow Jane:Goodreads –   website: Jane Buckley Writes – Facebook:Jane Buckley Writes – Twitter:@janebuckley_sc


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

49 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #WWI #Family Judith Barrow, #Thriller Mark Bierman, NorthernIreland #Thriller Jane Buckley

  1. I’ve read Judith’s book and loved it – Debby’s review is superb and reflects my opinion of it, too. I must investigate Mark and Jane’s books; the subject matter of both, plus these lovely reviews, point to powerful reads. xx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great selection of books and authors, thanks for this. Trafficking in particular is a difficult subject to write about, so are ‘the troubles.’ Well done both. Judith’s book must ring bells with so many families touched by war. Many men went to war never to be seen or heard about again. the not knowing must have been destructive. Good luck everyone, fab books.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 1st -7th August 2021 | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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