Smorgasbord Book Reviews – Round Up – March 2023 -#Portugal #Dogs Alyson Sheldrake, #YA #Dystopian Teri Polen, #Crimethrillers Rebecca Bradley, #Africa #Poetry Robbie Cheadle #Historical #Family #Romance C. E. Robinson

Welcome to my recap of the books I have enjoyed and reviewed during March.

My first review in March was for the heart warming story of a little dog whose life might have turned out very differently if not for the kindness of a stranger. Kat the Dog: The remarkable tale of a rescued Spanish water dog by Alyson Sheldrake

My review for the book March 4th 2023

This book will shock, sadden but inspire as the story of this beautiful dog Kat unfolds over a period of several years.

As an animal lover it is always difficult to be witness to cruelty, and in the first part of the book, as the author gifts Kat her own voice to tell her story, it is challenging to read. However I took heart knowing that this book is about a rescue dog and that life would change for this amazing girl.

After such an appalling start in life it took some time for Kat to settle in with her adopted family, but their patience and kindness opened up her world to adventures on the coast and in the countryside of Portugal. There are some wonderful encounters with chickens, rabbits ice cream and goats, and some not so great interactions with cats and ticks. With owners who adored her unconditionally, Kat was also able to explore being the puppy she was never allowed to be.

Those who own dogs will appreciate the accuracy of the observations and non-verbal communications between Kat and her owner as their bond develops, and at times you will forget it is a dog doing the narration. There are some laugh out loud moments as you recognise the manipulative power of a dog’s eyes and the antics they employ to get that all important treat.

I can highly recommend for all pet lovers and to those who enjoy reading inspiring real life stories.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Delighted to share my review for the dystopian thriller by Teri Polen, The Insurgent (The Colony Series Book 2)

My review for the book March 11th 2023

The Insurgent is a nail-biting thriller that brilliantly continues the story of A36 and the characters on both sides of the conflict in this dsystopian and terrifying world.

I really enjoyed the first book A36, but this second book can stand alone as the author does a great job of catching the reader up on past events and characters. The main cast members are all young but have had to mature early as they suffered life changing and threatening events orchestrated by the megalomaniac in charge of The Colony.

Ripped from their families and losing siblings to the ever increasing demand for genetic enhancements, they have chosen to fight although not all are on the same side. Those who have received enhancements, such as Asher have an internal struggle to maintain their humanity and to resist the evil they have been programmed to rain down on the innocent.

At the heart of this story is love. For family, between two young warriors and for freedom. We get to know some of the earlier characters in more depth which adds to the story and there are plenty of surprise revelations as the story reaches its climax. Other characters from the first book take centre stage and share their point of view on the unfolding drama, as as allegiances begin to shift in response to the increasingly intensive devastation of neighbouring countries and their populations. The action packed interactions between the colony forces and the insurgents have you turning the pages to find out if good will triumph over evil and whether the characters you have become attached to will survive.

This is a YA series but I have no hesitation in recommending both books to lovers of well written and fast paced thrillers.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US And: Amazon UK

On my recent break, I decided to raid my TBR for a box set I have waiting in the wings. This set contains the first three books in the Hannah Robbins crime series by Rebecca Bradley. Extremely good value for three excellent books.

My review for the books March 18th 2023

These three books in the series establish not just interesting lead characters, plots that have plenty of twists and turns, but also a realism stemming from the author being a former police detective.

This is not a fantasy, and the reality of our world today is that there are monsters, vulnerable victims, damaged men and women who see violence a valid response to their agendas, and psychotic individuals who have no redeemable qualities.

It is no wonder that there is so much pressure on the police to solve crimes, particularly when heavily regulated to not just ensure justice is done, but that there are no loopholes in a case going to court. The paperwork alone adds a huge burden on a team trying to catch a killer, but to then make sure they are convicted. It is no wonder that the members of this team are under extreme pressure, not least having to witness the depravity of others.

The author pulls no punches when describing the crime scenes and also sharing the point of view of some of the victims caught up in unimaginable suffering. It is hard to read at times, but we cannot ignore that this is the reality for so many.  The detailed account of the process of solving all three cases in these first books is reassuring, and also highlights how traumatic it is for those on the front line. It is not surprising that the characters portrayed are not perfect and in many cases their stress results in complex relationship issues and breakdowns.

One one side are the perpetrators and victims, and on the other ambitious and demanding senior officers who want answers and results to keep even more senior ranks off their backs. The team in the middle is between a rock and a hard place. Then there is the media, who have only one agenda, making news and placing blame wherever it will result in the most outrage.

I was highly impressed at the attention to detail, the character development and the well paced storyline, leading to some unexpected climaxes. 

If you love an authentic, realistic and well written thrillers, then you well love this series. I can highly recommend and will be reading the rest of the books over the coming months. I can certainly recommend this box set which is a terrific introduction to the characters and the author at an excellent price.

Read the reviews and buy the box set or individually:  Amazon UK – and:  Amazon US

Very happy to share my review for the recently released collection Lion Scream: Syllabic Poetry About Southern African Wildlife by Robbie Cheadle.

My review for the collection March 20th 2023

This is a collection of poetry, essays and a short story highlighting both the wonder of the wildlife of South Africa and the tragic decrease in the number of these amazing creatures who have populated the earth for many thousands of years largely due to man’s predation in one way or another.
The poetry captures in 99 syllables the beauty and the tragedy with skill and insight. I particularly liked Hippopotamus (“Hippo”) – Don’t be fooled and Jackal Love although all have great appeal and are thought provoking. There is also a wonderful and entertaining acknowledgement of the natures of the animals, reptiles, birds and insects that are featured. The poems are complemented by stunning photography of wildlife and scenery taken on holidays across this beautiful country.
It is clear that conservation is a key element of the preservation of most of the endangered species, and the author shares links to many of the videos that she has filmed on trips to sanctuaries around South Africa. It is also evident that for all that is done to increase the numbers of animals at risk, there are many who are determined to undermine their efforts.
It is a reflection of this that rhinos, for example, in sanctuaries have their horns removed to dissuade poachers.
The short story at the end sadly reflects on how the impact of our modern world and the fears of the future, prey on the minds of the younger generation, who struggle under that burden.
This collection is educational and brings the individual creatures and their challenges to thrive into sharp focus. It is also entertaining and having access to the many videos filmed by the author adds an added element to their stories. It will leave you more aware of their plight but also marvelling in their beauty.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US 

Delighted to share my review for the debut novel the historical romance – Three Years of her Life by C.E. Robinson

My review for the novel March 25th 2023

The story is set during the Cold War when there were still a great many prejudices resulting from the 30s and 40s and particular the pre-war years in Germany. Two people fall in love on opposites sides of these prejudices and their romance is opposed and challenged.

For Elizabeth, now a dedicated nurse, it is heartbreaking that the man she has fallen in love with, is so disrespected by her grandmother who brought her up and her extended family. She also has to face the disapproval and opposition of Erik’s mother, who feels her son should be married to a Jewish wife and follow tradition.

They both set out on a quest to discover more about Elizabeth’s grandfather’s origins in East Germany and the whereabouts of Erik’s great uncle. This leads to danger and unexpected revelations that will certainly cause frictions within the families.

With all the uncertainty that surrounds the couple, both begin to have doubts and for Elizabeth her love of music leads her into a relationship that becomes more intense than she internded. However the author handles each of these challenges with great skill and takes her characters through these missteps and brings them to a place they can be happy.

Interesting characters, great family dynamics and the controversial issues dealt with extremely well.

I know there is a sequel in the works and look forward to reading. I can recommend to readers who enjoy romances and also mid-20th century history.

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


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

32 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Reviews – Round Up – March 2023 -#Portugal #Dogs Alyson Sheldrake, #YA #Dystopian Teri Polen, #Crimethrillers Rebecca Bradley, #Africa #Poetry Robbie Cheadle #Historical #Family #Romance C. E. Robinson

  1. Great books on this list, Sally. I am drawn to books written from a dog’s perspective, but would have a huge amount of trouble reading about abuse. Still, knowing Kat the Dog has a happy ending–I might give it a try!

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  2. Congratulations to all these authors on these compelling reviews. I’m glad I already have a lot of them in my Kindle already! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sally, thank you again for the wonderful review of my debut book, THREE YEARS OF HER LIFE. Your support is much appreciated. And your general and health blog posts are very informative and helpful. Thank you for those, too. 📚🎶 Christine

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