Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2019 #Prehistoric Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 of the Crossroads Trilogy) by Jacqui Murray

Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

I will be sharing the reviews out of sequence between 2017 – 2020 as some authors have more than one book in the folder…

Today a review from April 2019 for Jacqui Murray – Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 of the Crossroads Trilogy)

About the book

Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, Survival of the Fittest is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion.

Chased by a ruthless enemy, Xhosa leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands following a path laid out decades before by her father, to be followed only as a last resort. She is joined by other fleeing tribes from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant, all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, tragedy, secrets, and Nature itself, Xhosa is forced to face the reality that her enemy doesn’t want to ruin her People. It wants to ruin her.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia, where ‘survival of the fittest’ was not a slogan. It was a destiny. Xhosa’s People were from a violent species, one fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened their lives except for one: future man, a smarter version of themselves, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

My review for Survival of the Fittest – April 17th 2019.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jacqui Murray’s  Born in a Treacherous Time which introduced us to one of the earliest humans, Lucy.  In her latest book Survival of the Fittest, we fast forward to a mere 850,000 years ago, when the earth continues to be extremely unsettled as it goes through its own growing pains.

The dangers are frighteningly and ever present for humans, who are forced to flee, not just environmental perils, but the brutality of invading tribes who want to usurp rivals for the safest caves, and the lands needed to support life.

We meet a woman who is strong and unusually a leader of men. Xhosa has a massive responsibility on her shoulders to take her tribe to safety, as well as find a way to work side by side with other human species that they encounter. She is supported by a warrior who has to fight his own ingrained resistance to a female leader, and along the way she finds good counsel in Pan-do and his daughter who are also fleeing to safety with their tribe. However, at the end of the day, it is she who must decide which path to follow despite resistance from some of her followers.

There is adventure in abundance, since this is not a gentle environment, and one can only admire the strength, courage and intelligence required to navigate all the obstacles that stand between Xhosa, her people, and sanctuary.

The language is straightforward, descriptive and direct, which is appropriate, since at the time communication would have been reliant on body language, sign language and I would imagine a lot of guesswork. Especially as each tribe had different identifiers for the same animals, landscape or danger. But Murray has created a language and a world that we can become immersed and invested in, leaving us with a desire to find out what happens next to these people that have so many of the traits and flaws we understand and see in ourselves. 

The environment has been established and the various groups are poised for the next stage in their development, which 850,000 years into the future led to the humans we are today.

This is what adds an extra element of fascination to the story. These are our ancestors and as we see their struggles, invasions of land, and the thousands fleeing anywhere to call home, it is difficult not to draw parallels with our world today. I am looking forward to reading book II to find out what my ancestors faced next in this trilogy.

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

A selection of other books by Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray, BuyAmazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter@WordDreams

About Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the webmaster for Worddreams, her blog about all things writing. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming prehistoric fiction, Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for Ask a Tech Teacher an Amazon Vine Voice  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to take away with you.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2019 #Contemporary The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie

Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

I will be sharing the reviews out of sequence between 2017 – 2020 as some authors have more than one book in the folder…

Today I am sharing my review from September 2019 for Jessica Norrie’s The Magic Carpet.

About The Magic Carpet

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

My review for The Magic Carpet  A novel as diverse and intriguing as its characters September 2019

The Magic Carpet is set in outer London in early September 2016, and its cast is a group of young schoolchildren aged seven and eight, tasked with developing the classic fairy tales into performances on Friday October 14th.

The children head home with their assigned stories with the wide remit of telling the fairy tale in any way they wish, involving whoever they wish, including family members.

The author invites us into the children’s homes to meet parents, brothers and sisters and grandparents, and for them to have the chance to share their stories of how they arrived in this part of London.

Beautifully written from both the children’s and adult’s perspective, we get to understand the complexities of integration within a multi-cultural society. It is not just about religion, colour or traditions, as within a single family there can be three generations struggling to understand the new culture, language and accepted practices of a society they were not born into.

Such as the loving grandmother struggling to communicate with her English speaking grandson as he shares the wonders of the story he has been given. A single father who is concerned about the proprieties of bringing his son’s friends into the home, and a young girl who sees a side to her parent’s marriage that will challenge her perspective on the happy ever after of fairy stories.

We also come to appreciate the role of teachers at primary schools, who patiently prepare the children from these diverse backgrounds, and with varying language skills, for their future as part of society.

The story culminates with the performances and the interpretations the children have brought to the classic fairy tales. We also discover the impact of this simple exercise has had on the dynamics of the families involved and the changes in perception it has achieved. Demonstrating it is the children, who have the power to bring the generations and different cultures together.

Highly recommended.

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

Also by Jessica Norrie in English and German

Jessica Norrie, Buy: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Website:Jessica Norrie on WordPress Goodreads: Jessica Norrie – Twitter: @Jessica_Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught adults and children, co-authored a textbook and ran teacher training. In 2008 came the idea for “The Infinity Pool”, which appeared in 2015 (and in German in 2018). Her second novel “The Magic Carpet”, inspired by teaching creatively in multicultural schools, was published in July 2019, and she is working on a third. She divides her time between London and Malvern, blogging, singing soprano, and walking in the forest and hills.


Thanks for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will read The Magic Carpet too… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2018 – Past and Present: A Marketville Mystery by Judy Penz Sheluk

Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

I am moving these past reviews to the lunchtime slot Monday, Wednesday and Friday otherwise I won’t get through them quickly enough… Today a review for  Past & Present: A Marketville Mystery by Judy Penz Sheluk

About Past & Present

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

My review for Past & Present from October 2018

As a fan of the classic ‘whodunit’s’ from Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, it is great to find an author who writes a mystery with plenty of opportunities to guess who the murderer is and still be surprised at the end.

Calamity Barnstable has gathered a team of experts in a number of fields such as genealogy and psychic phenomenon. Together they have been commissioned to solve a very cold case using what little public records available and a lot of seat of the pants guesswork. This first case for the investigative team has another wrinkle. The link between the client and Callie’s past.

The pace is gentle and if you did not read book one, Skeletons in the Attic, you will have plenty of time to catch up as the author refers back to the story as she introduces the new and returning characters and the formation of Past & Present Investigations. There is some romance, intrigue, family mystery and drama and also the development of the relationships between the members of the team. It will be interesting to see how that evolves in the next book in the series.

Clearly there was a great deal of research by the author in finding all the sources that the sleuths would have needed to access to obtain the clues needed to solve the case. And for anyone who is researching their family history, particularly in Canada, this story is also an excellent reference to where records are kept.

An enjoyable read and will please all mystery fans.

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

An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was published in July 2015. The sequel, A Hole In One, is scheduled for Spring 2018.

Skeletons in the Attic, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her Marketville Mystery series, was first published in August 2016 and re-released in December 2017. Past & Present, the sequel, is scheduled for early 2019.

Judy’s short crime and literary fiction appears in several collections.

In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy works as a freelance writer and editor; her articles have appeared regularly in dozens of U.S. and Canadian consumer and trade publications.

Past editorial responsibilities have included the roles of Senior Editor, Northeast Art & Antiques, Editor, Antiques and Collectibles Showcase, and Editor, Home Builder Magazine. She is currently the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, Inc. the South Simcoe Arts Council, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. In addition, Judy has been elected to the 2017-18 Board of Directors for Crime Writers of Canada, as a Director, and as a Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario.

She lives in Alliston, Ontario, with her husband, Mike, and their golden retriever, Gibbs.

A selection of books by Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Judy : Goodreads –  blog: Judy Penz Sheluk – Twitter: @JudyPenzSheluk


I hope you have enjoyed my review from 2018 and will head over to check out Judy’s other books too.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #Thriller Carol Balawyder, #Thriller Mark Bierman, #Romance Linda Bradley

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

The first review today is for Carol Balawyder for her thriller Warning Signs

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Anneli 5.0 out of 5 stars Drawn In  Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2020

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them while keeping me on my toes with dilemmas they each struggled with. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates, and we expect this, but when he befriends Angie, their internal conflicts come into play as well. We already understand why Angie would fall for someone like Eugene, because, by now, we know her personality. But will Eugene hurt Angie? What will Angie do once she starts to suspect that Eugene may be the killer?

What about Darren, the policeman who finds Angie attractive? Will his feelings toward her interfere with his murder investigation?

I was impressed by the way this novel’s plot flowed so smoothly, pulling me in as the characters I came to know so well became entangled in it.

After being drawn into the story on page one, I didn’t want to put the book down until I read, “THE END,” and even then I was thinking about it after I closed the book.

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

A selection of books by Carol Balawyder

Read reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Read more reviews : Goodreads – WebsiteCarol BalawyderLinkedIn: Carol Balawyder

The next author today is Mark Bierman  with a review for his novel Vanished.

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

Wanda Fischer 4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and Heartbreaking  Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2020

Remember when Haiti suffered from a devastating earthquake in 2010? The country still hasn’t recovered from that tragedy. This novel begins by setting the scene for just how horrific the earthquake was, by describing the abject poverty of this country, in the form of the terrible conditions within a Haitian prison. The earthquake happens and some of the prisoners escape–into a country of chaos and deprivation, potentially worse than the prison they had lived in.

Enter two Americans, who decide to go on a missionary trip to Haiti with the aim of helping to build an orphanage. Tyler is John’s son-in-law, and they’re both recovering from the untimely death of Tyler’s wife (John’s daughter) from pancreatic cancer at a very young age. Upon arriving in Port-au-Prince, they meet Steve, the head of the mission, but they don’t spend much time there. Instead, they discover that the young daughter of one of the mission’s employees has been kidnapped and sold into child slavery by a trafficking ring. Then Tyler and John decide it should be their job to find the girl, no matter what it takes.

Although John studied Creole prior to their trip, he soon discovers that he only knows how to order a meal or ask for simple directions. The language barrier proves difficult in many ways; they must get help from the locals in order to get any clues where the traffickers have taken the girl.

John and Tyler embark on an ever-changing, ever-dangerous, emotionally and physically challenging adventure that takes them through Haiti to the Dominican Republic. They’re shaken at every turn by the differences in culture and the language barriers, as well as the pure evil they encounter throughout the novel.

This novel is eye-opening about the cruel world of human trafficking, whether in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world. The intense, sadistic power over the children is unimaginable; these children are slaves and considered disposable. They’re beaten, sexually abused, tortured and minimally fed. The author provides heartbreaking descriptions of inhumane treatment, and, although he assures readers in his afterword that the book is “purely a work of fiction,” what he includes in this novel is certainly true to what happens to children who have become slaves. Some are sold by their parents because they can’t afford to keep them, while some are snatched off the streets. This author’s characters capture the essence of this worldwide tragedy.

I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read an exciting, unpredictable book. However, be prepared to encounter situations involving children that may be uncomfortable and eye-opening. It’s not for the faint-of-heart.

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

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

Mark Bierman buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

I thought that I would catch up with a free offer that Linda Bradley ran in early September for – Maggie’s Way (Montana Bound Series book 1). Judging by the number of new reviews and ratings on Goodreads it did very well.

About the book

Middle-aged, Maggie Abernathy just wants to recuperate from cancer during the solitude of summer vacation after a tiresome year of teaching second grade. Maggie’s plans are foiled when precocious seven-year-old Chloe McIntyre moves in next door with her dad, John. Maggie’s life changes in a way she could never imagine when the pesky new neighbors steal her heart. With Maggie’s grown son away, her ex-husband in the shadows, her meddling mother’s unannounced visits, and Chloe McIntyre on her heels, somehow Maggie’s empty house becomes home again.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Sep 02, 2020 Sylvia Joseph rated it Four stars really liked it
A Test Of Love

A sweet novel of a home spun teacher, faced with the lost of a much loved husband, a 7 year old bright child who could make you laugh and also cry, and a very scary illiness that we all could be struck with and a strong will of being capable to cope with getting on with life of a new neighbor and a sneaky Mom, a Purple cat and a motorcycle that just gets started up but not taken out of the garage, this is a good story of strong wills and trust of many, makes for good clean reading and from a teachers side of reading problems. I recommend this book to all ages.

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

Also by Linda Bradley


Linda Bradley, Buy: Amazon US –  And : Amazon UK – Follow Linda :Goodreads website: Linda Bradley Author – Twitter: @LBradleyAuthor


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


Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Guest Interviews 2015 – #Pembrokeshire, #FamilySagas with Judith Barrow

As I sort through and organise my files here on WordPress which now amount to over 12,000 since 2013, I am discovering gems, such as guest interviews that I would love to share with you again..

This week an interview from 2015 as part of the ‘A Funny Thing Happened to Me’ series which featured author Judith Barrow. I have read all of Judith’s books and am a huge fan and I hope you will enjoy this early post. I have updated to reflect Judith’s current books and reviews.

About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years.

She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions..

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Welcome to the Sunday Interview Judith and looking forward to finding out more about your work.

You swapped the majesty of the Pennines in Saddleworth near Oldham for Pembrokeshire with its amazing coastline at about the same time. What if any were the differences in culture or lifestyle that you encountered initially and now when you return to Oldham which do you consider home?

We found Pembrokeshire by accident. With three children under five, an old cottage half renovated in a village in Saddleworth at the base of the Pennines, and a small business that took off more successfully than we could ever hope for, and now threatened to spin out of control, we decided to get off the treadmill. At least for a fortnight.

Pre children, cottage and business, we holidayed in Cornwall. Too far with three children and an unreliable converted van, we decided. ‘I’ve heard West Wales has wonderful beaches,’ I said.

I borrowed books on Pembrokeshire from the library. Balancing one-year-old twins on each knee, I read as much as I could about the county. It sounded just the place to take children for a holiday. ‘At least it’s not as far as Cornwall,’ I said, packing the van to the hilt with everything the children would need – and remembering at the last minute to throw in changes of clothes etc. for their parents.

It took ten hours. In 1978 there was no easy route from the North of England to West Wales. We meandered through small lanes, stopping for such emergencies as feeding the twins, picnics, lavatory stops. The closer we were to our destination the more we were stuck in traffic jams (which had no obvious reason for being traffic jams whenever we got to the front of the queue) with three ever-increasing fractious children. We got lost. Numerous times.

We arrived at the caravan site in the middle of the night and were relieved to find the key in the door. The owner, a farmer, had given up and gone home.

I woke early. Leaving David in charge of our exhausted and, thankfully, still sleeping family, I crept out. The sun was already warm; a soft breeze barely moved the leaves on the oak tree nearby. Skylarks flittered and swooped overhead, calling to one another. The caravan was one of four in the farmer’s field. We were the only people there. It was so quiet, so peaceful. I walked along a small path. Within minutes I was faced with a panorama of sea.

It seemed so still from the top of the cliff, but the water, blended turquoise and dark blue with unseen currents, the horizon was a silvery line. Faint voices from two small fishing boats carried on the air. The sandstone cliffs curved round in a natural cove. Jagged rocks, surrounded by white ripples of water, jutted up towards the sky. I fell in love with Pembrokeshire.

I’d always liked living so close to the Pennines. The moors, crisscrossed by ancient stone walls, were glorious with wild rhododendrons in summer, heather in the autumn. Even when brooding under swathes of drifting mist or white- over with snow, I was happy there.

But Pembrokeshire has a powerful glory of its own.

Within months we’d thrown caution, and our past lives, to the wind and, that November, moved to a house that was half-built in an acre of land. Much to the consternation of the family, who truly believed we were mad and, as far as they were concerned, were moving to the ends of the earth.

It took a long time to get the house and garden right and a while to get used to the massive changes in our lives. But having the children helped; we became involved in local activities and people in the area accepted us (once they could understand our Northern accents!) We have made many friends here.

All in all, it’s been one of the best decisions of our lives. We called our house ‘Saddleworth House, so we still have a reminder of our roots. But Pembrokeshire is our home.

In one of your interviews you mentioned that you had kept a diary of your experience with mainstream publishing which must have been very frustrating. Perhaps you could share some key points that you learned from the experience and some words of advice for those thinking of going that route?

It took me a while to get where I am today, being published with a small independent publishers. Honno is a Welsh based women’s publisher. I’ve been with them for nearly ten years, first publishing in their anthologies and then with my own novels. It was a conscious choice in the end, after a disastrous period of time with an agent.

It’s a long tedious story, which, to anyone else, would be boring. The long and short of it (oh dear a cliché – I teach creative writing and one of my pet ‘no-no’s with my students is clichés – I add this in case they’re reading the post here) was that she suggested the manuscript went to a commercial editor. With me paying! Being gullible, I did. It came back completely different; not my book at all. I have nothing against chick-lit; my friend writes brilliantly in that genre, but it’s not my style. The agent wouldn’t listen – I sacked her.

To my mind, you only have one first book, you’ll never have another ‘first’ – so it must be the best writing you can do. And you have to be true to yourself.

It was only months afterwards that I discovered this agent was considered to be a liability in the publishing world, one way and another, (cliché, cliché), so I’d done the right thing by breaking off with her.

To backtrack a little; the day I acquired the agent, I also had acceptance from Honno. They were very gracious about my decision and – when I turned to them later, very gracious in accepting my book. I met with their editor, liked her immediately. I was hooked on the idea of a smaller publisher, so, when, that same week. I was approached by a larger publisher I had no hesitation in turning them down. And I am so glad I did. With a small company you know everyone, get more personal attention and care. And you get to take part in the choice of the covers for the books – and I have to say, I’ve been thrilled with those.

I do have one Indie published book; Silent Trauma. This is a fiction built on fact book. I have a relative affected by a drug that was taken by her mother during pregnancy; Stilboestrol, or Diethylstilbestrol in the US – (DES).Silent Trauma was a difficult book to write. I found myself going through a whole gamut of emotions from day to day.

You were obviously personally affected by the subject matter of  Silent Trauma and perhaps you could summarise your research and the side effects of the drug Stilboestrol DES ((Diethylstilboestrol in the USA) and the impact it has had on so many women’s lives?

In 1938, Stilboestrol (Diethylstilbestrol) was created by Charles Dodds. It was expected that his synthetic oestrogen would help prevent miscarriages. At the time it was not known how dangerous this drug would be to developing foetuses. Years later, he raised concerns about DES but by then very few in the medical field were listening. .In the early 1970’s cases of a rare vaginal/cervical cancer were being diagnosed in young girls. Now researchers are investigating whether DES health issues are extending into the next generation, the so-called DES Grandchildren. As study results come in, there is growing evidence that this group has been adversely impacted by a drug prescribed to their grandmothers. And then, in later life, those women who became pregnant couldn’t carry a baby beyond the first trimester due to a malformation of the uterus – another effect on this drug.

I was lucky to be given permission from the Independent on Sunday newspaper to use an article they had written, about two DES Daughters in the UK, as a Foreword for my book. By combining that and quotes from the DES Daughters I have been in contact with at the beginning of the chapters with the fictional story I hope I have achieved what I set out to do; to bring the information about the drug to the reader and to give them a good story.

The mission of DES Action groups worldwide is to identify, educate, provide support to, and advocate for DES-exposed individuals as well as educate health care professionals. Unfortunately DES Action UK folded due to lack of funds and support but DES Action USA promise to help and advice anyone who contacts them. They have a website:

And there is also a wonderful DES Daughter in the UK who has a website – Des-Daughters– which is constantly updated with the latest news. She also has a Facebook page which can be found by just typing in DES daughter

In America there is been a huge campaign to prove that some DES daughters who developed breast cancer did so because their mothers were prescribed Diethylstilbestrol The first DES Breast Cancer trial was settled out of court by the drug company after the opening arguments. The company did not have to admit guilt for making and promoting DES as an anti-miscarriage drug that causes breast cancer and the DES Daughters, who accepted the settlement, cannot disclose the amount. But there are many other DES breast cancer lawsuits already filed and waiting in the wings. So, even though there was no actual guilty verdict against the drug company there is still a feeling of satisfaction in the DES community.

I did approach my own publishers. The reasons for the rejections were twofold. One was that ‘they wouldn’t be able to sell “issue –led” novels’. And two, I was told, was the worry of being sued by the drug companies. Which I can understand but, to my mind, if any of them decided to sue, they would be accepting culpability. However just in case any of them are reading this, the house is in my husband’s name only and I have no assets!

You took a Diploma in Drama at Swansea University and gone on to write plays that have been performed at the prestigious Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea and as a short film. Have you other projects in the works and what do you find most fulfilling about this area of writing?

I have written a play based on Silent Trauma, but have yet to do anything with it. I’ve written about a dozen plays, so far, for both stage and radio and done nothing with them. Mainly through lack of time. And I love teaching this genre. I think this might be that, mostly, plays are about dialogue. I love dialogue in all genres; there’s nothing more satisfying than bringing a character to life in the way they speak.

In fact I love writing and can ramble on for ages. I suppose that is why, whatever I write, there is always so much editing to do afterwards.

As my husband so often; I write as much as I talk – too much. As is proved here.

Judith there is not a problem with everything that you have written today because it has been a fascinating look behind the scenes at your life and a very important subject that has impacted many women and their families.

Perhaps we could now move onto the opportunity for Judith to do some more storytelling in the central theme of the interview. ‘A funny thing happened to me on the way to……’

A Funny Thing Happened to me on the Way Home….I was waiting to turn left into the lane leading to our house. It was a murky grey afternoon in November, cars swished past on the wet tarmac. All at once the passenger door opened and a small woman slid onto the seat and beamed at me.

‘Thank you. Thought nobody would stop,’ she said. It was her little red wellington boots, her red plastic coat and yellow sou’wester that immediately identified her; I’d seen her often over the years; she was a local eccentric who called herself ‘Mad Madge’. Red wellies in winter, flip flops in summer. Always the sou’wester. Always walking. Always thumbing for a lift.

‘You heading for the village?’ She had a dewdrop balancing precariously on the end of her nose. She waggled her head. The drip flew off onto the dashboard

‘Well no—’ I just stopped myself getting the duster from the door compartment and wiping the offending drop.

‘Me too.’ She looked over her shoulder, ‘There’s a queue behind us, you’d better go.’

And I did. Don’t ask me why. A number of reasons I suppose; I knew that, although she was strange, she was harmless, I didn’t want to tell her I wasn’t offering her a lift (yes, yes, weak but it was raining hard and she was very wet.) And she was smiling and thanking me. Anyway, it was only two miles to the village.

We travelled in silence until …’Stop here a moment.’ She pointed. ‘I need to go in there.’

And, before I could say anything she’d hopped out and gone around the back of a house. .

What to do? She’d left a bag in the car – so she wasn’t going to be long – was she? I waited, listening to the soft swish of the windscreen wipers and the low grumble of the engine. After five minutes I turned the engine off and put the radio on. I waited.   And waited. Then I sounded the horn – twice. Nothing. I got out of the car, carrying the bag. It was still pouring down. I knocked on the door. No answer. I went around to the back. She was sitting at the table having a cup of tea, still in her shiny red coat.

‘You left this,’ I said, holding the bag out.

‘Oh, you didn’t need to bring it in, I’m ready now,’ she said and, jumping up, rushed past me, leaving the door open. I closed it. If I hadn’t I might have beaten her to the car. We both raced along the path (I can still see those little red wellies galloping along in front of me) I’d forgotten to lock the door and she was in. Beaming!

I drove her to the village. She got out of the car without a word but still beaming. I went home.

I’ve seen her since – and kept on driving. I’ve often wondered how many other people she conned like that. Not so Mad Madge, after all. You have to laugh.

My thanks to Judith for such an indepth and wonderful look at her life and work and also thanks for her tireless support for all of the bloggers that she comes into contact with.  A truly delightful person and part of our community.

Books by Judith Barrow

One of the recent reviews for The Memory on Goodreads

Sep 08, 2020 N.N. Light rated it 4.5 stars

Irene is her mother’s caretaker and over a twenty-four period, she revisits the past, allowing long-buried shameful secrets to be brought to light. Years ago, when her sister, Rose, was brought into the world, Irene was overjoyed. It didn’t matter to her Rose had Down Syndrome, she loved and took care of her as if Rose was her own daughter. Her mother, on the other hand, rejected Rose and would have nothing to do with her. Rose’s death, shrouded in mystery even after all these years, bind Irene to her mother. As Irene remembers the past and tries to reconcile it with the present and future, she wonders if her memory is flawed or does the answer lie with her own mother?

The Memory is an emotional story about mothers and daughters, love and loss, raising a special needs child, and the barren canyon of emotions that lay hidden behind grief. The plot is overflowing with feeling as Irene comes to grips with the past. I cried so many times while reading, I needed two boxes of tissues. Judith Barrow framed the story as a 24-hour period but I tend to disagree as there were plenty of flashbacks and flashforwards. I personally couldn’t relate to the characters, but I could relate to being the daughter of a mother with high expectations. The tension is palpable throughout the story, so it took me awhile to read it. The writing is exquisite, the pacing perfect, and the characterizations well-developed. If you’re a fan of family-life sagas, you’ll love The Memory. Fans of Rebecca Wells, this is a must-read.


Judith Barrow Buy: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Judith: Goodreads – blog: Judith Barrow – Twitter: @judithbarrow77


Thanks for joining us today and I know Judith would love your feedback…thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2018 – #Thriller – Lies by T. M. Logan

Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

This week a thriller that was recommended to me and I reviewed in October 2018. Having read my review again it has reminded me to head over to check out this author’s latest releases. Lies by T.M.Logan

About the book

“Assured, compelling, and hypnotically readable―with a twist at the end I guarantee you won’t see coming” (New York Times bestselling author Lee Child), T. M. Logan’s debut psychological thriller dissects a troubled marriage straight to the marrow as one man separates the truth from the Lies…

Six days ago, Joe Lynch was a happily married man, a devoted father, and a respected teacher living in a well-to-do London suburb. But that was before he spotted his wife’s car entering a hotel parking garage. Before he saw her in a heated argument with her best friend’s husband. Before Joe confronted the other man in an altercation where he left him for dead, bleeding and unconscious.

Now, Joe’s life is unraveling. His wife has lied to him. Her deception has put their entire family in jeopardy. The man she met at the hotel has vanished. And as the police investigate his disappearance, suspicion falls on Joe.

Unable to trust the woman he loves, Joe finds himself at the mercy of her revelations and deceits, unsure of who or what to believe. All he knows is that her actions have brought someone dangerous into their lives―someone obsessed with her and determined to tear Joe’s world apart.

What if your whole life was based on LIES?

My review for the book which I give 4.5 Stars in October 2018

On the UK site there are over 2,000 reviews for the book and I was surprised by some of the varying reactions to the book. Clearly the plot is in the eye of the beholder, as some thought it predictable and others edge of your seat.

I enjoy thrillers, and don’t like to predict the outcome in the first couple of chapters. With this book, I was certainly caught on the wrong foot with the ending. Also the plot kept me guessing, and there were times when I almost shouted out loud ‘Don’t Do it!’ Even when you know a car crash is coming, you can’t bear to look away.

For anyone who has been in a long-term relationship, you will understand that trust has been built up, habits, routines, and there is a solidity to the structure that reassures and keeps the connection strong. But like a thread in a piece of knitting, you start pulling on one strand, and the whole thing unravels.

This is where Joe was in his relationship with his wife Mel, and their son William. Joe is not in the fast lane, and is content in his job as a teacher, leaving the high flying to Mel. They have a small circle of friends, some of whom they have known since college and others who have joined the group as they have married and had children. They all get along although most of the interaction is driven by Mel.

The action starts within a few pages, as the first questions and doubts are raised, leading to a face off in a car park, and the worm of distrust creeping into what was once a strong and seemingly loving marriage.

It then becomes a free for all, with accusations, suspicions, threats and lies.. plenty of lies. Joe goes from being a back seat kind of guy to the passenger at the front of a roller coaster. The police are not much help as they focus their attention on Joe, with carefully orchestrated clues and circumstantial evidence muddying the waters.

I did enjoy the book very much. I did get a little frustrated with Joe’s dogged determination to make things work between himself and Mel… Not sure I would have given her as many passes, but at the heart of it is the well-being of William their young asthmatic son, who is bewildered by it all and is Joe’s first consideration.

I do recommend that you read for yourselves…

Read some of the 4000 reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – and : Amazon US – Goodreads: Goodreads

Also by TM Logan

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and Amazon UK: Amazon UK

About T.M. Logan

Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES (2017) was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 330,000 copies and gathering more than 1,300 5-star reviews so far. It is now being published in ten other countries worldwide. His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, will be published in the USA in summer 2019. Tim lives in Nottinghamshire, UK, with his wife and two children.

Connect to T.M. Logan – Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor – Facebook: TM Logan Author


I hope that you have enjoyed todays look back at a previous review thanks for dropping by… Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Author Updates – #Reviews #Family James J. Cudney, #WWII Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Haney Eaton, #Fantasy D. Wallace Peach

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

The first author today is James J. Cudney – with a recent review for the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter  – Hiding Cracked Glass (Perceptions Of Glass Book 2)

About the book

A blackmail letter arrives at an inopportune moment, and the recipient’s name is blurred out. Who is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands, her sons try to figure out who’s seeking revenge on them.

Across the span of eight hours, members of the Glass family contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets, or find a way to bury them forever. Some didn’t learn an important lesson last time, and as each hour ticks by, the family has to come to terms with what happened in the previous months.

Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, and this time the stakes are even higher.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Oct 08, 2020 Malia rated it Five Stars

I read the first book in the series Watching Glass Shatter a while ago and would recommend reading these books in order, because a secret that is revealed in book one plays a role in book two. This is more complex than your average crime novel, and I am a big fan of family dramas with an element of mystery. Hiding Cracked Glass is very much about each member of the Glass family trying to hide the cracks in their lives and relationships. The characters, as in Cudney’s previous book, seemed very real, each distinctive, and the dialogue as clever as the plotting. There is something about this book that reminded me almost of a Golden Age mystery, with the way the plot unfolded and each character has something to hide, which built an atmosphere of tension throughout the book. Hiding Cracked Glass is both an intelligent mystery and an examination of how people act under enormous strain, how secrets can eat away at you and how even powerful families have vulnerabilities. If this becomes a trilogy, you’ll get no complaints from me! Recommended!

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

Also by James J. Cudney

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

The next book today is While the Bombs Fell which is written by Robbie Cheadle and her mother Elsie Hancy Eaton.

About While the Bombs Fell

What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?

Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.

Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes

One of the recent reviews for the book

Bette A. Stevens 4.0 out of 5 stars Through the Eyes of a Child—A WWII Memoir  Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2020

While the Bombs Fell is a family and community story told through the eyes of a very young girl (Elsie Hancy Eaton) in Suffolk, England during WWII. I found this family’s story both informative and unique. Author Robbie Cheadle collaborated with her mother (Elsie) to bring us this unique perspective of war to life. From a simple family living life through food rations and falling bombs, it was a fascinating look into war-torn England told from a child’s perspective. The book includes recipes and definitely left this reader with the flavor of what families and children often endure during times of war.

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

A selection of other books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle and as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.


Read the reviews and Buy :Amazon US And:Amazon UK – Robbie on : Goodreads – blog: Robbie’s Inspiration- Twitter: @bakeandwrite

Finally a recent review for the latest release from Diana Wallace Peach and the first book in a new series. Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil Book 1)

About the book

Behind the Veil, the hordes of Chaos gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.

Three unlikely allies stand in his way.

A misfit elf plagued by failure—When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.

A changeling who betrays his home—Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.

A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.

When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.

Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.

A recent review for the book

K. Brown 4.0 out of 5 stars Great High Fantasy Read!  Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2020

First, can we talk about the world-building? Because I need to talk about the world-building. It is sometimes hard for me to read epic fantasy because world-building can be laborious. Even the great Tolkien had me snoozing if I’m being honest.

However, D. Wallace Peach does an excellent job of presenting a politically complex world with an engrossing story. I never felt bored with superfluous detail. She has created a world that is both fitting for fantasy and incredibly unique. Her characters might be called “goblins” and “elves,” but they’re simply not the same creatures we know from Tolkien and I love that.

Along with this well-planned world we have some truly deep characters here. Alue, Talin, and Naj are all flawed (each being just a little bit racist) but they are also so realistic that I was rooting for them the entire time. Alue was especially my favorite. She’s brazen, she acts without thinking and often lets her anger get the best of her, but she also has a moral conscience that seems unique to her people. I really want to give examples, but I’m not sure I can without spoilers.

My only complaint about this novel is the ending–and by that I mean that I hate that it ended at all. I need the sequel ASAP!

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

A selection of other books by D.Wallace Peach


D. Wallace Peach, Buy:  Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Diana: Goodreadsblog: Myths of the Mirror – Twitter: @Dwallacepeach


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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves – #Mythology – King of the Asphodels by David Jordan

Delighted to welcome David Jordan and his books to the Cafe and Bookstore and the featured book today is King of the Asphodels released in September.

About the book

John Thomond has made a deal with the mage, Jack Foster. In return for directions to the Underworld, and the means to bring back his dead wife, he must become the magician’s apprentice. In the Underworld, Thomond is guided by the spirit of the great Bluesman, Robert Johnson, who sold his soul to the Devil to become the ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers’. As they travel through Hades, Johnson shows Thomond some of the sights the Underworld has to offer and Thomond also learns the principles of magic. Eventually, newly empowered, he makes it his business to free the soul of the Bluesman, but there are hazardous consequences, in both the Underworld and the world above…

King of the Asphodels is a novel concerned with many things: power, music, magic, myth. But at its heart it is a book about friendship and freedom.

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

Also by David Jordan

One of the recent reviews for The Echoing Green and Other Stories

Jan 17, 2020 Jessica Belmont rated it Five Stars

The Echoing Green and Other Stories by David Jordan is a unique, short story collection of contemporary stories mixed with fantasy and mythological elements. I found it very atmospheric and addicting as I read through it.

I loved the Irish mythology mixed into the contemporary world. It was really cool to see how much research went into this as I learned something new quite a few times. David Jordan‘s writing is wonderful, and he keeps you entranced by the setting and the characters.

Speaking of characters, every one was fleshed out and real. I love when an author is able to take their characters deep in a short story. That is a rare and wonderful ability.

I am looking forward to reading more from David Jordan. I’m happy I had the chance to experience this collection and I highly recommend it!

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon UK – Follow David: Goodreads –  Website/Blog: Shadow of the Glen – Facebook: David Jordan Cork –Twitter: @daverayjord

About David Jordan

I’m writing out of Cork, Ireland, where I was born and bred. As well as writing fiction and poetry I play the bass guitar. Steve Harris from Iron Maiden is my bass god. My favourite author is either WB Yeats or James Joyce – I can’t decide which, but I also love popular fiction, especially dark fantasy: Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Alan Moore are all huge influences on my writing.

I love to quote. My current favourite quote is by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘You need to have some chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’

I love dogs, the great outdoors and coffee. My favourite film is A River Runs Through It. My favourite song is Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix.

You can check out David’s poetry and short fiction magazine, Crossways

And if you enjoy melodic metal music, visit the site for his instrumental project, Bladehound


Thanks for joining us today and it would be great if you could share David’s books – thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Author Updates – New #Poetry Balroop Singh, Reviews #Mystery Lizzie Chantree, #SouthernContemporary Claire Fullerton

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore updates with new releases and reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today is Balroop Singh with a new release. A poetry collection – Magical Whispers

About the collection

I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.

‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on the whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.

Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whispers life into us.

One of the early reviews for the collection

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful collection  Reviewed in the United States on October 9, 2020

I’ve read a few of Singh’s poetry collections, and this one is my favorite. Each poem is a gem, and though this isn’t a long book, it’s worth taking a few leisurely days or weeks to savor.

The 73 poems are divided into two sections: Magical Whispers and Whispers of Life. The poems in Magical Whispers have a strong focus on Nature—the mysteries, solace, and magical connections the author has to Mother Earth. A few of my favorite poems are Dawn Whispers, Magic of Senses, and A Moon Fairy.

Whispers of Life is broader in scope, touching on love, growth, longing, memories, and other facets of human life. Though personal to the author, the poems are relatable and insightful. My favorites in this section are My Words, Only Memories are Mine, and Muted by Time. Highly recommended.

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

Also by Balroop Singh


Balroop Singh, Buy: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Balroop : Goodreads – blog:Balroop Singh on WordPress – Twitter@BalroopShado

The next book today is If You Love Me I’m Yours by award winning inventor and author Lizzie Chantree.

About the book

‘If you love me, I’m yours…’

Maud didn’t mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and love life… if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he’d begun! She could tolerate not fulfilling her dreams, if her parents would pay her one compliment about the only thing she was passionate about in life: her art.

Dot should have fit in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn’t paint. She tried hard to be part of their world by becoming an art agent extraordinaire, but she dreamed of finding her own voice.

Dot’s brother Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas. Women worshipped him, and even Dot’s friend Maud flushed and bumped into things when he walked into a room, but a tragic event in his past had left him emotionally and physically scarred, and reluctant to face the world again.

Someone was leaving exquisite little paintings on park benches, with a tag saying, ‘If you love me, I’m yours’. The art was so fresh and cutting-edge, that it generated a media frenzy and a scramble to discover where the mystery artist could be hiding. The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked Maud, Dot and Nate’s lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down.

Were bonds of friendship, love and loyalty strong enough to withstand fame, success and scandal?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my, what a wonderfully sublime book; my heart soared.  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 October 2020

I stepped outside my normal genre comfort zone of crime thrillers to read this book; it had been recommended to me and I had my eyes and heart opened. I laughed, I cried and had a precious insight into the life of people who on the surface appear, okay.

This is a story of repressed feelings. Yes, it is a love story and on so many fronts, but first and foremost it is about the delicacy of self-esteem. It is real. It is about dreams and nightmares.

The characters are ‘real’; Maud, her artistic flare crushed by domineering parents. Dot, a wonderfully crazy lady, dressing eccentrically because she comes from a famous artistic family – it is what she feels expected to do as she is continually informed she has no talent. Nate, Dot’s brother, a famous artist and reputed rake and, a whole host of players who play parts that appear to be at best benign, supportive, but come with an underlying desire to address their own ego.

I cannot reveal the plot because it is life and you need to live it in this book – I did, and finished feeling both wrung out and wretched and yet, elated, at the same time – I didn’t want it to end.

This is not a roller coaster ride so much as a ghost train of soul searching and I defy anyone not to feel a part of it, the central characters, to recognise something of themselves – I did, and, love it and it is you.

I have bought another book from this author and started reading it immediately – such exceptional writing. I do not hesitate to recommend this book. Love it, and it’s yours – 5 stars.  

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

Also by Lizzie Chantree

Lizzie Chantree, Buy: Amazon UK – And:Amazon US – Follow Lizzie: Goodreads – website:Lizzie Chantree – Twitter:@Lizzie_Chantree

The final author today is Claire Fullerton with a review for her novel 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

Sep 26, 2020 D.G. Kaye rated it Five Stars

A tale that encompasses several topics of life – family, friendship, racism, mental health, and tragedy. Southern fiction at its best. We’re introduced to the triangular friendship between Celia, Renny and Ava, friends from childhood, in a reunion visit up to Renny’s lakehouse where the girls recant stories, memories, and unresolved issues from their pasts, introducing the many characters who played parts in their lives.

Celia managed to leave the deep south and is happily married now living in California, but the girlfriend reunion brings up some painful memories that Celia Wakefield finds herself now having to put closure on, including her ex-fiance Tate whose deep south family wasn’t too accepting of Celia’s close friendship with ‘black people’, – mainly her oldest best friend Little Tea and her family. And once tragedy struck within the plantation, a silent slithering away of Tate occurred.

The story goes back and forth through time – current day at Renny’s lake house in Arkansas where the reunion takes place and back in the 1980s when they were younger girls where we’re taken into Celia’s younger life with her family living in Mississippi on their cotton plantation and the black hired help living on that land in a cottage, becoming closer than most with their white bosses in the still divided south. Thelonius and Elvita and their daughter Little Tea who becomes Celia’s best friend, and ultimately, the love interest of Celia’s brother Hayward – still in a dangerous time for mixed races to show themselves publicly, but accepted within the family – except for Celia’s eldest brother John who comes off racist.

In this story, the past comes back to haunt as it does in real life. Celia must find closure, Ava must choose her happiness between two men, and Renny is the host where everyone meets up at her place to mull over their pasts and solidfy their futures. Renny is the group organizer. And nobody knows the deep dark secrets better than the three girls.

Some wonderful prose to quote from this book. Here are just two:

Little Tea and Celia discussing Tea’s plans after graduating high school: “I know times have changed for people of color, but there’s a residue that’ll stick around forever.”

Celia talking to her brother Hayward about their grandmother’s racism, trying to figure why as someone who came from poverty and now riches, why she didn’t have compassion: “People attack what they fear.” “People always have to have something to look down on.”

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

Also by Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton, Buy: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Twitter: @Cfullerton3


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to take away with you.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – Share your review – Darlene Foster reviews The Jigsaw Puzzle King by Gina McMurchy-Barber

Welcome to the series where you can share your reviews for any children’s books you have read recently and posted on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads or any other online bookstore. If you would like more details here is the post that explains how it works: Showcasing Children’s books

This week a review for children’s author Darlene Foster for The Jigsaw Puzzle King by Gina McMurchy-Barber


About the book

When you’re new in school, all you want is to fit in. When eleven-year-old Warren and his family move to a new city, his twin brother, who has Down syndrome, attracts too much attention for Warren’s liking. Bennie’s different and doesn’t care about it. But while Bennie may be oblivious to those who are curious or uneasy with him, Warren notices every smirk, comment, and sideways glance.

Warren is weary of flip-flopping between trying to be just like everyone else and being the protective brother of a boy with special needs. Sometimes he thinks his life would be easier if he had no brother. But what he really needs is to stop worrying about what other people think

Darlene’s review for the book on Goodreads

Feb 17, 2020 Darlene Foster rated it Five Stars it was amazing

A great middle-grade book about brothers, twin brothers. Warren has made it his life mission to look out for his twin brother, Bennie, who has Down Syndrom. But when Bennie wants to enter into the talent show at their new school, Warren is determined to stop him before he embarrasses both of them. The characters of Warren, Bennie, and their classmates are very real 21st-century eleven-year-olds. Kids will love this book filled with cool stuff like hockey, peanut butter, and stink bombs. I enjoyed the references to familiar places in the Vancouver area. When Warren has to choose between his family and the cool kids, he finds himself in a sticky situation. This book is perfect for tweens and adults like me, who love tweens

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

A selection of other books by Gina McMurchy-Barber for YA

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US –  And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads

Books by reviewer Darlene Foster

About the book

Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos.When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger?Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.

A recent review for the book

tpolen 5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful!  Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2020

This is my first time ‘meeting’ Amanda and while there are several books in the series, I chose this one because I traveled to Calgary earlier this year and visited some of the places mentioned in the description.

What a delightful story! Amanda is excited to spend time with her friend, Leah, and show her around during her holiday with Amanda’s family. I really enjoyed ‘re-visiting’ some of these places with them, while also learning new facts. Being a dinosaur nerd (I love that great aunt Mary is a paleontologist), I wish we’d been able to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum and see the World’s Biggest Dinosaur – maybe on our next visit.

Amanda is intelligent, feisty, and adventure-loving, and her inquisitive nature soon draws the girls into a mystery which results in some perilous situations. They run into some pretty unsavory characters while trying to learn more about the markings on the stone.

The author does a wonderful job of blending educational facts with a mystery and adventure that will thrill young (and older!) readers. These are quick reads I’d highly recommend, and I look forward to traveling with Amanda to more destinations.

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

Also by Darlene Foster


Darlene Foster, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Website/BlogDarlene Foster WordPress – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @supermegawoman


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books for the younger members of the family.. thanks Sally.