In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.
The first author today is Mark Bierman whose thriller set in Haiti was a chilling reminder that there is always someone with the power to take advantage of the vulnerable. Looking forward to his second novel and 50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.
Meet Mark Bierman
Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.
Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.
After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.
My review for the book November 2020
This book is a challenging read, not because of how it is written, but the subject matter. We tend to picture islands in the Caribbean as having sun swept sandy beaches, luxury accommodation and smiling faces of the inhabitants, happy to see tourists pouring into their paradise. However Haiti has had centuries of political, economic and social unrest and suffered devastating natural disasters. Following one such event, the earthquake in 2010, thousands of men, women and children were killed and many more thousands were left homeless. The population is left reliant on assistance from the outside world, including volunteers to help them rebuild. However, as well as the suffering caused by this natural disaster, there is an underlying evil that thrives on misery, and manipulates parents in dire straits, to offer up their children under the pretense of a better life.
Two Americans Tyler and his father-in-law John Webster arrive on the island following a tragedy of their own, with the loss of Joy, Tyler’s wife and John’s daughter from cancer. Hopeful that the physical labour of helping to construct an orphanage, will bring them both a measure of peace, they find themselves caught up in the violent world of the human traffickers preying on children in particular. From mines to plantations the trade in cheap slave labour is thriving, and it is manned by thugs with money the motivator.
In a desperate search across the mountainous interior of the country, and forced to form alliances with those they cannot trust, and in some cases with those wishing them violence, the two men seek one child among thousands. Their story runs in parallel with heartrending accounts of others who have been caught up in the trafficking, who seek to escape, often at the expense of their lives.
The author has created strong characters across the spectrum of good vs. evil, and the story maintains its pace throughout the book. The mission Tyler and John have undertaken hurtles towards a violent climax, and consequences that will need to be faced. A thought provoking thriller that serves as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a kinder world.
The next author is Lisette Brodey and although I have only read one of her impressive range of books, I do intend to read more in the future.
Meet Lisette Brodey
Lisette was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. She spent ten years in New York City, and now resides in Los Angeles.
She’s a multi-genre author of nine novels and one short story collection: Crooked Moon (General/Literary Fiction); Squalor, New Mexico (Coming-of-Age/Literary Fiction); Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! (Women’s Fiction/romantic comedy), The Desert Series: Mystical High; Desert Star; and Drawn Apart (YA paranormal/magical realism), Barrie Hill Reunion (Literary Fiction); Hotel Obscure: A Collection of Short Stories (Literary Fiction), Love, Look Away (Women’s Fiction/romantic comedy), and The Sum of our Sorrows (Contemporary Fiction.)
In addition to her nine novels and one short story collection, two more of Lisette’s short stories are published in an anthology: Triptychs (Book 3, The Mind’s Eye Series.)
A selection of books by Lisette Brodey
My Review for The Sum of our Sorrows January 2021
This is a well written family saga, packed with complex but relatable relationships that we may well recognise from our own experiences. Father and daughters, sisters and between lovers. Friendships that fizzle out as circumstances change, or grow through surprising connections.
The author sets the scene early in the story as we learn of a family tragedy that changes the dynamic of the relationship between father and daughter and the three sisters. The spread of ages of the girls, places them all in a different stage in their lives and each is vulnerable in their own way.
As the novel progresses we are introduced to other characters who impose their own agendas on the sisters and their father, sometimes with traumatic effect. Others bring clarity and hope to the family as a whole and individually There are moments of drama and also evil, as the family try to come to terms with a mother’s death and three young women face uncertain futures.
The author does an excellent job of getting to the heart of her characters and portrays them well. The reader is left feeling that they are part of the family and involved in a very personal way as they face demons, secrets that are revealed and the future. I can recommend the book to lovers of family drama with elements of thriller, mystery and romance.
The next recommended author is Mae Clair and I have read two of her books so far, one a humourous take on love and the other her recent short story collection, both terrific reads.
Meet Mae Clair
A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.
Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.
A selection of books by Mae Clair
My review for Things Old and Forgotten December 2021
Wow this is a story collection across the genres that will amaze and delight the reader.
We travel roads from the past and into the future meeting interesting characters along the way, some drawn from the worlds of fantasy and others from the edge of darkness. There are also light-hearted moments with encounters with intoxicating small yellow birds and escapees from the confines of ancient bottles.
Mae Clair writes with clarity and with a focus on the reader’s engagement, creating memorable characters and bringing favourite legendary elements into a new environment.
The stories are all excellent and tough to highlight any for special merit but my heart was warmed by Father’s Day, I was totally drawn in by Robin of Sherwood and Miss Lily Makes a Wish had me laughing.
I can highly recommend this well written and entertaining collection of stories that crosses the genres with ease and expertise.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… Sally.