Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Roberta Flack, Roses, Bacon, Cruise Ship Tips, Jersey and a whole bunch of other stuff!!

The Music Column with William Price King – Roberta Flack – Part Two.

The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss

This month a look at the history, myths and truths behind one of the most popular flowers in the world. The Rose.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

There are not many of us who don’t love a piece of crispy bacon or tender boiled ham, and this week Carol shows us how to cure our own bacon and prepare ham for our summer salads.

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Cruise Ships – Part Two – Ship Tips

This week Debby shares her insider knowledge about dining, tipping, excursions and shopping. Invaluable advice before you take that cruise.

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Darlene Foster.

Darlene shares a favourite childhood song, an action hero she would like to be, something that she could never learn….you will be surprised considering the number of books that she writes! And the animal she would like to have a conversation with..

Travel Posts from Your Archives Sherri Matthews – A Tour of Jersey and the history of the island during World War Two.

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Personal Stuff

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story Serialisation

Chapter Seven – Snow and Favourite Things.

Chapter Eight – Language

Odd Jobs and Characters – Department manager for a store leads to crime solving!

Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – Hawaii

Poetry and Haiku

Sally’s Drive Time and Playlist

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author updated reviews

The Blogger Daily and Meet the Reviewers.

Cathy Ryan

Health Column

Magnesium is one of the minerals that is likely to be deficient with a resulting long list of health problems.

Often mis-diagnosed Interstitial cystitis is difficult to treat.




Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Claire Fullerton, Judy Penz Sheluk and Darlene Foster

Welcome to the Friday Cafe and Bookstore update with more recent reviews to share for the authors on the shelves.

The first author is Claire Fullerton, whose book Mourning Dove, I reviewed last week. I am not the only one who is enjoying the story set in the rich and inclusive Memphis.

About the book

“An accurate and heart-wrenching picture of the sensibilities of the American South.” Kirkus Book Reviews

The heart has a home when it has an ally.

If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.

But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Mourning Dove isn’t just a book about family in the South. It’s about the reality of a family in the South. There are many dramatizations of what people believe life is like here in the Southern part of the US, but unless you lived it, you don’t know it. Claire Fullerton lived it. The author and I have had exchanges in the past about commonalities in our lives to the point that I know she is the real deal. She grew up a Memphis girl while I lived just 2 hours away in Tupelo, MS.

One thing about Southern life is there are layers. Depending on who you are socializing with will determine which layer you allow to show. That’s for your own protection. You learn this quickly to survive, not only in Southern society but in your own family. If you aren’t like your blood then you in more trouble than you would be at any other point in time. This is just an observation I’m throwing in here.

Mourning Dove finds Posey, moving back to Memphis, the city of her birth with her two children. The story is told through the voice of Millie, the youngest child. She’s the quiet one who looks up to her charismatic brother, Finley. The children are thrown into a world totally alien to their Minnesota home when they set foot in Memphis, a city where old society still looks to generational lines to help determine societal prestige.

Posey, sets out to find a new husband and ends up catching the Colonel, a totally inappropriate match for a husband only because of his place in society in the hopes it will continue to help her and assure her children will not fall from grace. The problem is, this leaves her children without true parents. Posey mothers occasionally but it doesn’t really help her children.

The star of the show is Finley, the big brother that has been given almost god like qualities by Millie in his perfection. His talent, his intellect, his abilities to move people. The things she cannot do. But just as a god, he is just out of reach in his kinetic life of always pushing higher and higher to next level of his creativity. His time in Charlottesville to attend university and expanding his music lies perfectly with the music scene of the day for a certain element that continued in university towns on into the 80s.

But without Finley, Millie has to fend for herself in the aristocratic society of her mother’s upbringing. He was her navigator of Memphis, her protector of sorts.

If you want to know the real South of the 1970s, read Mourning Dove. Much like Claire Fullerton’s masterpiece, Dancing to an Irish Reel, you get atmosphere, emotions, characters, not only the main but a wonderful supporting cast, which very much matches what you find in the South. You also find yourself pulled in to the landscape and forget you exist in a present. You are present in the past.

Read the other reviews and buy the book in Kindle, print and audio:

and Amazon UK:

Also by Claire Fullerton

Buy the books and audio editions:

and Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow Claire on Goodreads:

Connect to Claire via her website:

The next author with a recent review for her latest book is Judy Penz Sheluk for Hole in One: A Glass Dolphin Mystery

About the book

Hoping to promote the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, co-owners Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland agree to sponsor a hole in one contest at a charity golf tournament. The publicity turns out to be anything but positive, however, when Arabella’s errant tee shot lands in the woods next to a corpse.

They soon learn that the victim is closely related to Arabella’s ex-husband, who had been acting as the Course Marshal. With means, opportunity, and more than enough motive, he soon becomes the police department’s prime suspect, leaving Arabella and Emily determined to clear his name—even if they’re not entirely convinced of his innocence.

Dogged by incriminating online posts from an anonymous blogger, they track down leads from Emily’s ex-fiancé (and the woman he left Emily for), an Elvis impersonator, and a retired antiques mall vendor with a secret of her own.

All trails lead to a mysterious cult that may have something to do with the murder. Can Arabella and Emily identify the killer before the murderer comes after them?

One of the recent reviews for the book

I enjoyed this book, the second in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series. Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland once again find themselves in the middle of a murder when they agree to sponsor a hole-in-one prize at a charity golf tournament. But things are not what they seem.

Shortly after the tournament begins, Arabella shoots into the woods on the third hole, and while she tries to retrieve her ball, she stumbles over a dead body. Even worse, it turns out to be the father of her ex-husband, Levon Larruquette, who is still carrying a torch for his her. Levon becomes the number one suspect, and Emily and Arabella must dig through layers of blackmail, fraud, and murder to try to prove him innocent.

I really like the characters in Penz Sheluk’s books, and this one has enough unique and funny characters–like an Elvis impersonator–to keep the plot moving along.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and  Amazon UK:

Also by Judy Penz Sheluk

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Read the reviews and buy all the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Judy on Goodreads:

Connect to Judy via her website:

The next author is Darlene Foster with a recent review for her children’s book Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind finds student Amanda Ross on a school trip in Taos, New Mexico. While there, her classmate Cleo thinks she sees ghosts. Amanda feels anxious too, sensing that something or someone is watching her. An engaging adventure ensues during their visit to the Land of Enchantment in this sixth book in the fun and educational series for early middle grade readers. 5/5

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads:

Connect to Darlene via her website:

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share these authors and their reviews. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Timeless Echoes – #Poetry by Balroop Singh

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Balroop SinghTimeless Echoes, Poetry for young adults and teens, released on June 30th.

About Timeless Echoes

Certain desires and thoughts remain within our heart, we can’t express them, we wait for the right time, which never comes till they make inroads out of our most guarded fortresses to spill on to the pages of our choice. This collection is an echo of that love, which remained obscure, those yearnings that were suppressed, the regrets that we refuse to acknowledge. Many poems seem personal because they are written in first person but they have been inspired from the people around me – friends and acquaintances who shared their stories with me.

Some secrets have to remain buried because they are ours
We do share them but only with the stars
The tears that guarded them were as precious as flowers
Soothing like balm on festering scars.

While there are no boxes for grief and joy, some persons in our life are more closely associated with these emotions. Their separation shatters us, their memories echo, we grieve but life does not stagnate for anyone…it is more like a river that flows despite the boulders. When imagination and inspiration try to offer solace, poetry that you are about to read springs forth.

Head over and buy the collection:

And on Amazon UK:

Also by Balroop Singh

A review for Emerging from the Shadows

In a topsy-turvy world where people grapple to make sense of the events around them, they look to literature for a moment of reflection. Poetry by Balroop Singh helps clear the chaos by making life easier to navigate, find, and feel cheerful about.

In The Secret of Being Alive, she writes, “sharp shards of shattered emotions, pierce as I try to gather those sensations, wilderness walks with me; yet a dim, discrete light beckons” – has such spunk, that last shred commanding us to hang on to hope, not rope, as the first step. And, no matter how glossy the outside world looks, there’s always a struggle “beneath that beauty lie broken dreams, beneath that smile recline unspoken words,” which she pens in When Darkness Deepens. What she does in How Can I Thank You? “The dazzling rays of sun, had to pierce through you, to reach me, while the moonlight was all mine,” is pure enchantment.

So many pearls of unalloyed magic glisten in Emerging from Shadows, worth visiting and revisiting. Anyone can externalize, but if one wishes to internalize in a world where emotions are fast dying, grab a copy of this book. Now.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Balroop on Goodreads:

About Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh, a former teacher, an educationalist, a blogger, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart.

She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in Danville, California.

Connect to Balroop Singh.




Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – C.S. Boyack, Karen Ingalls and Sally Cronin

I have decided to consolidate the Meet the Reviewers and the usual twice weekly posts to maximise exposure for both author and reviewer.. I will however, include reviews for non Cafe and Bookstore authors in the new series of The Blogger Daily.

My aim with these posts and by using the Cafe as a focal point is to give authors a regular spot to show case their reviews… and with the New on the Shelves their recent releases. I do catch many of them by seeing notices on social media, but it does help if you drop me a line, particularly with your new releases.

The July Summer Sale for authors in the Cafe is beginning on July 9th.. with follow up posts on 13th, 16th and 20th. There were originally 20 slots available for those of you who would like to offer your books at a discounted rate during that period and for the following week or so. There are now only five slots and if you are interested here is the post.

Now time to share today’s recent reviews and the first author is C.S. Boyack with a recent review for The Yak Guy Project.

About The Yak Guy Project

Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.

When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You’ve obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.

This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.

Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to adapt or perish.

The Yak Guy project is loosely based around The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Those with experience in Tarot will spot people and situations from the Major Arcana.

One of the recent reviews of The Yak Guy Project on Goodreads

Jun 23, 2018 Karen rated it Five Stars

This book introduces you to a man who gets a second chance and to a yak.

With The Yak Guy Project, C. S. Boyack presents us with an entertaining and sometimes pretty funny dystopian story. The story is skillfully elaborated and has a great flow. Ernest Hemingway once stated “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” C. S. Boyack shows this masterly with this story – he created living people (and an amazing yak) instead of mere characters; even if the yak is not human – it has personality. I was drawn into the story right away, very close to the man and – the yak. The protagonists’ personalities are complex, the others of sufficient depth according to their relevance. Protagonists who grow with their tasks and a yak as a moral guide will take you on an unforgettable journey. I could easily envision the characters and locations. I had a wonderful time reading The Yak Guy Project; it is a highly entertaining read.

This is for you if you like great story-telling, dystopian stories, interesting personalities to cheer on, as well as thought-provoking, and fun moments. This is a book to read again. Highly recommended! 

Head over and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

For all other Amazon Bookstores:

A small selection of other books by C.S. Boyack

 Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow C.S. Boyack on Goodreads

Connect to Craig via his blog and website:

The next featured author is Karen Ingalls with her book Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

About Davida

Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the premier American sculptor from 1880-1920. Though married he fell in love with his model, Davida Johnson Clark and their love affair lasted more than twenty-five years. This fictionalized account will introduce the reader to some of the great art, historical facts, and the moral values of that era.

The author is the great-granddaughter from this union and her purpose in writing the book is to bring recognition to Davida and remove any negative stigma to her. Her grandfather suffered his whole life from being labeled a bastard while growing up and this story is intended to remove that label.

How can a love affair last for such a long period of time? What affect did it have on his career? How did his wife and son cope with their being a second family?

This is a compelling and beautiful love story that has needed to be told.

One of the recent reviews for Davida:  Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

While a bit slower paced than my usual reads, I did enjoy Davida. It is a tale of forbidden love during a time of extreme social conservatism.

The main character, Albertina, has a sweet innocence and charm that capture the reader’s adoration.

Her lover, Gus, is a driven artist who is torn between his desire for Albertina and his passion for art. He’s already married and has a son. If he chooses Albertina exclusively, his career as a sculptor is over.

I would highly recommend Davida to anyone who is a fan of romance, history, and art.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:

Also by Karen Ingalls.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Karen Ingalls on Goodreads:

Connect to Karen via her website:

Now time for me to show off my most recent review for Just an Odd Job Girl which delighted me this week from Robbie Cheadle.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.
Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

The recent review for the book

Imogen has been rejected by her husband of 20 years. She discovers that he has been having an affair, that the woman has become pregnant and that he wants a divorce all in one go. It is devastating to Imogen who has devoted her life to building her home, raising her children and being a good wife and mother. Somehow, along the way, Imogen seems to have lost all her vitality and spunk and changed into another, less vivid, version of herself. Although she knows this, Imogen struggles to overcome her depression and feelings of inadequacy until she makes a impulsive decision to go for an interview with a placement agency for older women and find herself a job.

The man who interviews Imogen is interested in her and her past jobs and life. He spends time talking to her and draws her out of the shell she has crawled into. As Imogen starts to remember her previous challenges and triumphs in her jobs as a younger person, her resilient character and determination start to resurface. Imogen embarks on a wonderful make-over and shares her numerous entertaining jobs with the reader. They range from a young girl selling trinkets on the beach, to the resourceful manageress of a steakhouse and lastly, to the manageress of a hotel in Cornwall [which I have not been to but which sounded quite rural and remote to me and the thought of arriving on my own at such a place, by train and late in the evening, gave me the shivers], with many other interesting experiences in between. Things in Imogen’s varied roles don’t always go smoothly and her mishaps and slightly reckless decisions will have you howling with laughter.

I really enjoyed this book and reading all about the various odd jobs Imogen had in her youth. The ending is very satisfying and leaves you with a very happy and uplifted feeling.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

A selection of other books by Sally Cronin

To read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads:

Robbie Cheadle is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Robbie Cheadle, Buy:


Thank you for dropping in today.. and don’t forget if you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and you want to get your news out there… get in touch at

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer Sale – July 9th – July 20th – What do you Think?

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer Sale – July 9th – July 20th – What do you Think?

I am just floating this as an idea at the moment as it will take a combined effort to pull it off.

I notice that the summer can be a little flat for some of us on the book selling front and that many of you will be putting our books on offer at a reduced price for a week at a time or longer.

What I am proposing is that authors in the bookstore who are planning on doing an offer this summer, schedule it between 9th and 20th July to cover four of the Cafe Updates.

Monday 9th July, Friday 13th, Monday 16th,  Friday 20th July

How it will look:

  • Usual format with ‘about’ the book
  • Most recent or most effective review
  • Direct links to Amazon US and UK to buy the book. (Happy to add a universal book link as well, but find that most people will head to Amazon to buy as they are usually set up there. If they are from other Amazon zones they will be redirected)
  • Link to Goodreads for further reviews.
  • Covers of other books by the author
  • Link to website

If you have not visited an update recently here is an example.

I can feature 5 authors in each of the four updates during those two weeks which is 20 in total.. should there be more then I will post and extra update.

If there is only 10 authors interested I will just do the sale for a week.

How I see it working.

  • Currently the blog is receiving between 5,000 and 6,000 views a week and an average of  2000 unique visitors. Most of whom are readers.
  • The cafe updates receive an average of 150 views with the reblog going out 12 hours apart to cover different time zones.
  • I will also post across my social media on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google.
  • The post will be boosted again during the day and also on Sunday in the Weekly Round Up.
  • I will put a sale sign up on your entry in the Cafe and Bookstore with the date of the offer so that any visitors will see the red sale stickers.
  • There is power in numbers and if a reader comes into the post and sees 5 books at a reduced price they may well opt to buy more than one. Especially as the word SALE usually prompts people to drop in!
  • Also if each author who participates shares the post on their own blogs and social media it will have a definite boost to the traffic.
  • I am not featuring Free books as I would prefer to generate sales for you in this particular feature. Should the demand arise then I could repeat this again later for free book.

What I would like from you.

  • Firstly would this be of interest to you?
  • Secondly you would need to book your offer for sometime between 9th and 20th of July on Amazon. (one book per author)
  • Next you would need to email me and let me have those booked dates so that I can put you into the nearest update and they go out on Monday’s and Fridays. (if more than 20 authors for the four updates I will schedule extra posts).
  • As you are in the cafe and bookstore I have all your details and I will just let you know which of the dates your book will be going out.

Here is the link to the Cafe and Bookstore and it might be time to double check your entry anyway.

  1. Are the covers up to date?
  2. Have you had a recent review that I have missed?
  3. Do you have a recent release that I need to do a promotion for?

Contact me on if your entry is not up to date.

If there are no takers then not a problem and I will post the usual cafe updates as normal. Thanks Sally.


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Teagan Riordain Geneviene, Sandra J. Jackson and Helen Jones.

Welcome to the first of the author updates this week and with a recent review for her book Murder at the Bijou, is  Teagan Riordain Geneviene.

About Murder at the Bijou

Long ago I developed a writing exercise. I would ask friends to give me three completely random things. Then I would write until I had mentioned all the things. I brought that exercise to my blog, but I had the readers send me their things. I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters. That resulted in The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to this culinary mystery. However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.

As with the first serial, Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is a spontaneously written, pantser story. I let the “ingredients” readers sent each week drive every aspect of a new serial story. This is the “bookized” version of that serial.

This time the Jazz Age setting is Savannah, Georgia where our flapper, Pip is “sentenced” to live with her grandmother and learn to cook. Pip gets caught up in a layered mystery that includes bootleggers, G-men, and the varied challenges of being a young woman in changing times. She meets new friends including some animal characters.

If you have not read The Three Things Serial Story, be warned. This adventure contains a bit of a spoiler, but does not go into detail about it.

A recent review for the book

Charles R. 5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and mysterious….. June 13, 2018

I received this book as a gift, and it truly was the gift of entertainment. It was hard to put down. It picks up where “The Three Things Serial Story” left off. Again it is set in the Roaring Twenties. New characters are added, including the feisty Granny. The author added a food element to this story, making the random “things” from her blog readers “ingredients.” It was fun to see the food-related items made into part of the story. Another thing I liked was the fact that I didn’t need to worry about kids seeing the book. The author wrote an exciting mystery without using extremes in violence, language, or sex. This story follows the first book, but I don’t think anyone would have trouble picking it up without reading the first one – but there are some spoilers. So if that bothers you be sure to read the Three Things novella first.

Murder at the Bijou is available in paperback and eBook:

and on Amazon UK:

Also by Teagan Riordain Geneviene.

Read the reviews, buy the books :

and Amazon UK:

Connect to Teagan via her blog:

The next author today is Sandra J. Jackson who has a recent review to share for Playing in the Rain.

About Playing in the Rain

When the effects of a hypnosis inducing drug begin to fade, April not only remembers her name but is introduced to a sister she wasn’t aware she had. The more she learns about her environment, the more she wants to escape.

One night, the girls awaken in a strange environment. Confused as to their whereabouts, the sound of rain, a sound they haven’t heard in a long time, interrupts their conversation and eventually lulls them to sleep. They are together, but where?

When dawn arrives, they get a glimpse of their new surroundings and find themselves in a nearly empty room with a large cabinet and a small window. It is a window that offers them a view of the world and a glimmer of hope for freedom.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’ve read Sandra’s first novel and that one was excellent. So, when I saw that she had written a second novel I jumped at the chance to read it, not knowing what it was about and I was not disappointed. Just like her first novel this story is well written, with attention to details which makes all the difference. “Playing in the rain” is thought provoking, and captivating the whole way through. I’ll be honest, this type of story is not my usual cup of tea as I tend to shy away from the dystopian stuff a bit but this story became the exception to that rule from the opening pages right to the very end. I wanted to punch that Cecile in the face, and you will end up with a lot of questions at the end which leads me to believe that there may be another story in the works here?? I’m hoping my theory is correct, Sandra is an excellent author and has quickly become one of my favorites. You have found your calling! 

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Sandra J. Jackson

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow Sandra on Goodreads:

Connect to Sandra via her website:

The next author is Helen Jones who received a recent review for her book A Thousand Rooms

About the book

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

A recent review for A Thousand Rooms (translated from German) on Goodreads

May 10, 2018 Julia rated it Five Stars.

A wonderful book!

Katie wakes up and has an “out-of-body” experience, just that it’s not an experience. She was actually killed in a car accident. But there is no white light to go into. There’s only Katie – in her chic outfit, with the new red shoes – she sees everything, can travel to different places, but nobody can see her. Now, Katie wanders through the “spaces” of her life and visits the people that are close to her heart to find her version of the sky.

The book is not religious and it surprises with sad as well as encouraging moments. There is even a love story that I did not expect

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

Also by Helen Jones

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Helen Jones on Goodreads:

Connect to Helen Jones via her blog:

Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure there might be a book or two to tempt you. thanks Sally,

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #BookReviews Terry Tyler, Charles Yallowitz and Yecheilyah Ysrayl

The next author celebrating recent reviews for her latest release is Terry Tyler for UK2 (Project Renova Book 3)

About UK2 (Project Ronova Book 3)

‘Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.’

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors’ way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south. UK2 governor Verlander’s plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies. Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum…

‘I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows. I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man. I was free, at last.’

Although this concludes the Project Renova trilogy, there will be more books in the series. A collection of five side stories is planned, and another novel, set far into the future.

One of the recent  reviews for the book

I have read and reviewed the two previous books in the Project Renova series, by Terry Tyler, had read great reviews about the third book in the series, and was eager to catch up with the characters after what had happened in the previous two books. I will try not to spoil any of the surprises in the novel, but I want to advise anybody thinking about reading this book that they are written as a series and they should be read in the right order (first Tipping Point, then Lindisfarne, and UK2 third), as the story and the characters’ arcs grow as it goes along, and it is the best way to fully enjoy the story. There is also a compilation of short stories about some of the characters called Patient Zero (I have that one on my list but haven’t managed to get to it yet), but it is possible to follow the story without having read that one, although I’m sure you’ll feel curious enough to grab that one as well when you’ve finished the three main books.

I thoroughly enjoyed UK2. The novel is divided into three parts, and big events (and big secrets) are discovered in each. Readers who have been following the series will have been eagerly waiting for some of the things that happen in part 1, but in this novel, the action is divided between what is happening in Lindisfarne and what takes place at UK Central (the planned new capital of the UK post-virus). The brains behind UK Central are trying to gather as much of the population together as possible and that means some of the characters choose to move, and readers are given the chance to see how they are affected by their new circumstances. Their fates seem very different, to begin with, but, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that things are not as they seem.

This book is told from a large number of points of view. Many of the characters are given a voice, and here most of them tell the story in first-person, therefore allowing us to see them as they really are, rather than as the personas they try to portray to others. Some of them come out of it very badly (yes, Dex, I’m talking about you) but in other cases, we see characters who grow and develop in front of our eyes. This might come at a cost, but we get the sense that it is well worth it. There are brief interludes written in the third person, some about characters we know whose circumstances change, and others from an omniscient narrator, giving us an insight into what is going on in the world at large and helps create even more tension and anticipation.

The characters remain consistent throughout the series, and there are clear developmental arcs for them. Vicky fluctuates but after some more bad news manages to bounce back, Lottie remains one of my favourite characters and gets some new allies, and there are some surprises, like Flora, who slowly but surely comes into her own. I also enjoyed getting to know more about Doyle, who is another one of the characters who grow through the series, from being quite self-centered and doing anything for a quiet life, to developing a backbone and taking risks.

The quality of the writing is excellent, as usual in this author’s work. There is a good balance between fast-paced action and slower and more reflective moments, but there are gruesome and cruel scenes and sad events that take place as well, as should be the case in the genre. It’s impossible not to think about current politics and wonder what would happen if something like this took place. Let’s say that it feels scarily realistic at times and the novel is great at exploring how human beings can react when faced with extreme situations, with some becoming a better version of themselves, and others… not so much. But, this book is far from all doom and gloom and I loved the ending, and I think most readers will do as well. (Yes, I could not help but cheer at some point!) My only regret was that I had to part with the characters that have become friends by now, but I was reassured by the author’s promise to publish some companion novellas and another novel set in the far future.

Even if you’ve read the other two novels some time ago, you don’t need to worry because the author has included a link at the very beginning of the novel that allows readers to read a brief summary and catch-up on the action so far.

A great follow-up and closing (sort-of) to the Renova Project series, and one that shouldn’t be missed by anybody who’s been following it. A great ending, a beginning of sorts and a reflection on what extreme conditions can do to the human spirit. Unmissable.

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A selection of other books by Terry Tyler

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The next author is Charles E. Yallowitz, with a recent review for his latest book in the new series. War of Nytefall: Loyalty

About War of Nytefall: Loyalty

In the wake of the Great Cataclysm, a new predator will emerge from within Windemere’s shadow.

For fifty years, Clyde has been trapped beneath the earth while the vampire kingdom has been gradually losing its war against the Sun God’s followers. Only Mab believes that her partner survived his holy execution and is determined to bring him back to the city of Nyte. Retrieving the vampiric thief is only the beginning as he comes out of the ground stronger, faster, and possessing abilities that their kind have never witnessed throughout their ancient history. Thrown into the war, Clyde must be careful to hide his true nature while fighting alongside his old friends. Too bad he is having so much fun being free that keeping his secret might be the furthest thing from his mind.

Will anyone be ready for the inevitable rise of the Dawn Fangs?

A recent review for the book

Vampires and Duragians (Sun God followers) have been fighting for supremacy in Nyte for as long as anyone can remember. The Duragians have captured the elusive Clyde and his execution is set to happen. Clyde’s partner, Mab, takes many risks to free Clyde but he won’t have it. Mab leaves to get help when the a large explosion happens and Clyde is buried deep in the ground. After fifty years, Clyde emerges stronger and possessing new powers. The Sun God calls Clyde an abomination and maybe he is but he’s having too much fun to stop. Can the vampires control him long enough to wage war on the Sun God in an all-out battle or has Clyde become a traitor and must be eliminated before it’s too late?

I’m a classic vampire reader and I like my vampires non-sparkly. When I discovered my favorite fantasy author wrote a vampire adventure set in Windemere, I knew I had to read it.

From the first page, I loved Clyde. He reminded me of Spike from Buffyverse. He’s a classic vampire with his dark, brooding eyes, hidden secrets, feeding whenever possible and creating chaos.

Yallowitz doesn’t just emote Bram Stoker, he invokes his writing style as well. Very descriptive with tantalizing plot twists I didn’t see coming. A tad slow in places but that speaks to his Stoker-like narration. The world-building, as expected, is spot-on with a world I’m familiar with yet surprising with characters and societal rules new to Windemere. I can’t wait to read the next one!

If you love vampire stories and looking for a unique spin, read this one today. My Rating: 4.5 stars 

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A selection of the most recent books by Charles Yallowitz


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And now a recent review for Yecheilyah Ysrayl for her latest release Revolution: The Nora White Story

About the book

When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When the community discovers the truth of the alleged crime they devise a way to get Gideon out of jail but their actions could mean life or death for everyone involved. Will Nora come to her senses and return home in time to help the family or will her naiveté lead her astray once again?

One of the recent reviews for the book

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Nora once again. One of the things that really got my interest is the time era of the story line. I am a fan of the Harlem Renaissance and history and with Nora I am able to feel like I am part of that time. Yecheilyah did a great job with incorporating history into a fictional list of characters that you could imagine that you were right there having enlightening conversations with. I had not really dug into Marcus Garvey and the UNIA but I will now since reading this portion of the story. I felt like I was at the rally and listening to the empowering speeches of one of greats.

I was going through the motions with the family back in Mississippi and it really upset me how they were treated. Gideon was a true definition of a leader and even when he was down he was still strong. That is something to be admired.

I wanted to know what happened to Lisa..when does Karma come to hit her in the butt. I was not too thrilled at how the story transitioned with Nora and the family at the end and time passing however the overall story was amazing

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A selection of other books by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

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Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed finding out more about the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and their books. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews #News – Christoph Fischer, Tina Frisco, N.A. Granger and Sue Hampton.

The first author receiving reviews for his new book by Christoph Fischer – Over my Dead Body: Murder at Eurovision – A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery.

About the book

On her return from a cruise ship gig Bebe Bollinger learns that fellow Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler has decided to enter a European Song comptition for the UK. While Bebe jealously watches the pre-publicity trail for ‘Eurovision’ in Malmö, a string of ‘odd accidents’ endangers several participants of the competition. This stirs her desire for playing detective again but also a curiosity to check out the suitability of Eurovision for her own career.
Follow Bebe’s continued search for fame and a comeback before it’s too late, step into the weird world that is Eurovision fandom and see how Bebe gets on with her naughty daughter and deals with those evil TV presenters.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Great to see Bebe Bollinger back! Love this character with her quirky ways. While still working on her comeback Bebe is asked by her friend Tom if she would help him with a problem at the Eurovision song contest. Bebe agrees and enlists the help of Beth (a former policewoman). Beth and Bebe teamed up once to solve a murder in Wales and work well together.

There is much to enjoy in this book thanks to excellent writing by Mr Fischer. A fascinating insight into Eurovision. I could feel the atmosphere and excitement of this song contest.

I love how Bebe deals with various unusual situations, in fact let’s just say I really enjoyed the whole experience of Bebe’s latest adventure and hope there is many more to come.

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A  small selection of other books by Christoph Fischer.

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An author with fantastic news isTina Frisco with Vampyrie:Origin of the Vampire. The book won the Authorsdb 2018 First Lines Competition… fantastic news and if you have not read Vampyrie then I do recommend.. it will change your views on Vampires for life….

About Vampyrie

What if vampires were not the undead, but rather the dying? What if there were two factions among vampires: the sustained and the unsustainable? And what if those factions were at war with one another over the life of a young woman who promised them a future? Vampyrie brings the myth of the vampire into the realm of possibility. Phoebe Angelina Delaney is a reluctant genius and compassionate hothead. She finds herself in a pitch-dark underground and doesn’t remember how she got there. Did she drink too much alcohol and wander off in a stupor, or was she kidnapped by a malicious element determined to make her life a living hell?

Sir Michael Alan David is a vampire – an enigma, charismatic and mysterious, who weaves in and out of Phoebe’s life. Does he intend to use his title as a ruse to draw her closer to an unearthly fate, or is he a cloak-and-dagger knight in shining armor? Too many secrets have been kept for too long. Phoebe must unravel the mystery in order to survive. Two major characters from the author’s first novel, Plateau join forces with Phoebe to battle the demons in Vampyrie.

And here is the  review for Vampyrie that I posted last year.

Like many growing up, I read about and watched the films that featured vampires. Apart from the odd comedy, all painted those with fangs and a craving for blood as evil creatures that deserved a stake to the heart. After watching these demons, most of us opted to keep the lights on at night and wear clusters of garlic around our necks. No wonder some of us were never asked to the prom.

However, thanks to Tina Frisco’s book, it is clear that not all is as it seems when it comes to Vampires. As with humans there are good and evil walking amongst this element of society, and as you meet the various characters of the story, discovering more about their backgrounds, you will find yourself warming to the idea that most Vampires are good people.

Unfortunately, Phoebe Angelina Delaney suddenly finds herself in the hands of the rogue element of this ancient peoples. To this point she has been totally unaware of the forces at play within herself, or around her that have made her a target. She meets the enigmatic Michael who rescues her and then sets in motion an unravelling of the secrets that have been woven to protect her life. Close friends that have been part of her world since childhood are not as they seemed, and her frustration mounts as she tries to make sense of the increasingly complex deviations from her original path in life.

There are some wonderful characters, whose emerging backgrounds bring colour and context to the darkness surrounding Phoebe. Apart from her father Mitchell and Michael, you will meet Master Po at the dojo where she studies martial arts, Hannah a lifelong friend and work colleague and her best friend Lunah. Bringing their own kind of ancient and mystical element to the story are W’Hyani and RoDinjah, major characters from Frisco’s book Plateau.

As the forces of light and darkness within the Vampire peoples comes to a head, Phoebe and her friends must train tirelessly to prepare for the battle to come. What Phoebe does not realise, is that her growing mental and physical strength, are not just going to be needed in the fight against evil, but will lead to even more startling revelations. One of these being the true origins of those who have walked amongst us for 200,000 years.

The book is listed as horror and occult but I do think that it has a much wider appeal with action and adventure culminating in a brilliantly orchestrated final battle sequence. There are some scenes of violence but I would recommend for young adults upwards.

I enjoyed the story very much, the writing and plot flow easily throughout the book and from the middle of the book onwards, you will find yourself being drawn in and engaged in the build up to the ultimate battle against evil. I am sure that if you read this book, like me, your previous perceptions about vampires will be challenged in a very enlightening way.

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Also by Tina Frisco

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The next book to receive reviews is  Rhe Brewster Mystery, Death in a Mudflat by N.A. Granger which was published a few weeks ago.

About the book

Fearless detective, ER nurse, devoted mother, and Pequod, Maine’s, answer to Kinsey Milhone, Rhe Brewster is back on the case. When an idyllic seaside wedding is suddenly interrupted by the grotesque sight of a decaying human arm poking out of the tidal mud, Rhe is thrown head first into a treacherous world of duplicity, drugs, and murder.

With her best friend Paulette and her main man Sam, the Chief of Police, Rhe seeks to solve the puzzle of the body found in the muck while also working with the FBI to identify the source of shipments of tainted heroin flooding the local campus and community. Maine’s opioid crisis has hit the town hard, with an escalating number of overdoses. More murders are uncovered, testing Rhe’s detective skills and steely resolve. While she follows the clues, Rhe encounters some sinister inhabitants of Pequod’s underbelly, including a practitioner of the Dark Arts, a hydra-headed crime gang, and an embittered, unhinged lobsterman with an axe to grind and nothing to lose. In her relentless drive to solve the crimes, Rhe narrowly escapes a watery grave, trades blows with Russian goons, and unknowingly prompts Paulette to put her life on the line in an attempt to catch a murderer in the act.

One of the recent reviews for the book

“Murder by Mudflat” is a hugely enjoyable, fast-paced mystery with excellent attention to forensic and scientific detail. I can promise you this book will keep you at the edge of your seat. Funny and cozy scenes alternate with high-octane, breath-taking action sequences. Rhe is a wonderful character: a mother and vulnerable lover one minute and a thug-chasing and quick-witted heroine the next. Her romance with Sam and the way that Rhe’s son Jack responds to it is beautifully done and adds just the right counter-weight to the fist-punching and at times tough and explosive plot. While generally cozy in style, there are some not so cozy scenes as well.

Grainger serves us some serious issues amongst some very light-hearted and entertaining sections: drug use, murder and some other, deeply personal issues, such as forgiveness and moving on.

Her characters are very real with problems of their own and an ability to reflect that surpasses the often one-dimensional place-holders in the genre. The combination of two separate investigations which may or may not be linked makes this a particularly rich and rewarding read, with plenty of possibilities for the plot and its denouement. This is a well written, breath-taking ride through two cases that show a crime writer at her best.

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Also by N.A. Granger

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The final author today with recent reviews is Sue Hampton for The Lucy Wilson Mysteries – Avatars of the Intelligence.

About the Book

Threatened by an old enemy, Lucy must step into her grandfather’s shoes. But in her new hometown, who can she trust?

Lucy Wilson doesn’t want to move from London to sleepy south Wales. But when she arrives at her new seaside home, it doesn’t appear to be as boring as she expected.

Ogmore-by-Sea seems to be under the control of a mysterious and powerful force. But why is Lucy its target? And why, when students at her new school start to disappear, does no one seem to care?

With the help of her new friend Hobo, Lucy Wilson must assume the mantle of her grandfather, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and defeat an invisible enemy before it’s too late.

The Lucy Wilson Mysteries is a Lethbridge-Stewart spin-off adventure and features licensed characters created for Doctor Who by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln.

One of the recent reviews for the book

AlaranTop Contributor: Doctor Who TOP 1000 REVIEWER 4.0 out of 5 stars Lethbridge-Stewart: The Next Generation 12 June 2018

With the ongoing publication of Lethbridge-Stewart novels as well as the Brigadier’s daughter, Kate, now a recurring character in onscreen Doctor Who and his genetic grandfather, Archie, making an appearance in ‘Twice Upon a Time’, the Lethbridge-Stewart extended family has been quite prominent in the last few years. Now his granddaughter receives her own spinoff series of novels.

Clearly this is intended to be a children’s or young adult novel. However, it seems more likely that its primary market will be adults who have been following the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels. It is independent enough from those, though, that it will hopefully attract a young fan base new, perhaps, to the Brigadier and maybe even Doctor Who.

The character of Lucy Wilson really began life in a short story named after her by the same author. This established the close connection between her and her grandfather. ‘Avatars of the Intelligence’ is set several years later. Her grandfather has sadly passed on and she is determined to follow in his footsteps.

With her parents moving the family out of London to the coastal Welsh town of Ogmore-by-Sea, the story is initially concerned with young teenage worries of being uprooted and having to start a new school and make new friends.

However, Lucy almost immediately picks up her own ‘companion’ in the form of Hobo. He is an intriguing and enigmatic character who looks likely to become her investigating sidekick. Together they are soon thrown into a mystery of disappearing children. It is not too much of a mystery though as they don’t exactly have time to solve it before events move on ahead of them and they embark on a trip to London to celebrate the life of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.

Although this is yet another clash with the Great Intelligence, it makes sense that the first Lucy Wilson novel puts her up against the foe that the Lethbridge-Stewart family has faced for several generations. Setting the story in the modern day means that the Intelligence can operate in a way it wasn’t able to during the time-period of the main Lethbridge-Stewart books and exercise its influence through the technology of mobiles, tablets, etc. Thus, the Intelligence is utilising a similar medium to that which it does ‘In the Bells of St. John’.

I wonder what Nicholas Courtney would think about all this. I’m sure that, like the Brigadier, he would be pleased with Lucy Wilson adopting the Lethbridge-Stewart mantle.

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A small selection of other books by Sue Hampton

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Thank you for dropping in today and hope you have enjoyed the reviews and news. It would be great if you could spread it around. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Karen Ingalls, Deborah Jay and Alethea Kehas

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore Update and the first author today celebrating a recent review is Karen Ingalls who has received another wonderful review for her memoir Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir

About the book

When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage IIC ovarian cancer, she realized how little she knew about what is called “the silent killer.” As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, she redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality.

In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and positive companion, offering a refreshing perspective of hope with the knowledge that “the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radian. It is a story of survival and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.

One of the recent excellent reviews for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir

Thank you, Karen, for sharing your story! It was educational and uplifting. When I say educational, I found that things that weren’t written opened my mind to maybe just as many truths and questions as what was written. You survived a challenging ordeal and you had a wonderful, talented, supportive and knowledgeable healthcare team. I couldn’t help but feel for those facing the same challenges who are in areas that don’t have access to healthcare.

You mentioned the cost of one particular medication (that was – thankfully – covered by your insurance), which led me to wonder about the plight of those with less-than-adequate health insurance (or no insurance at all). It was clear and obvious these were stressful times for you; it’s hard to imagine facing all you did AND piling medical bills or the understanding that you simply can’t afford treatment that is available [to others]. It’s always good to be enlightened to or reminded of the realities of some of life’s biggest challenges. I hadn’t thought about, for instance, of the significance of fear in relation to cancer. It seems you were fighting your fears almost as much as the disease (not just about your prognosis, but also other aspects of life that one might think of as “less significant”, like body image – nope…not insignificant at all when you’re the one facing the fears). Thanks again for sharing; I appreciate what you’ve given me the opportunity to learn and think about!

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Also by Karen Ingalls

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The next author with a recent review is  Deborah Jay with The Prince’s Man which is Book One in The Five Kingdoms Series.

About The Prince’s Man

Think ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’

Rustam Chalice, dance tutor, gigolo and spy, loves his life just the way it is. So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin who despises him.

And to make matters worse, she’s the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.

Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN is a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Captivating story. on May 19, 2018

Surprising bits of magic popping up when needed, most of the time, caught my imagination. The world we live in has the same cruel, kind, selfish, generous, self-centered and loving people as those in this book of Jay’s, but we have to manage without magic. Considering some people, I am thankful we do not have magic. But I really enjoyed the escape into Book 1 of The Five Kingdoms.

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Also by Deborah Jay

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The final book today with recent reviews is A Girl Named Truth by Alethea Kehas

About A Girl Named Truth

Some mystics believe we choose our name, along with our life’s lessons, before we are born. The name we select becomes our constant guide, helping us to navigate the journey ahead. In her memoir, A Girl Named Truth, Alethea explores the subjective nature of truth while she untangles the uncomfortable wrap of narratives she was raised on. Her name serves as her beacon, guiding her to heal and find the inner voice of her own truth.

The author’s story begins with her formative years, when her mother left her father and went into hiding with the Hare Krishnas. Months later, the young Alethea finds herself living 3,000 miles away from her extended family, trying to love a new father and forget the one she has left behind. Only she never forgets…A Girl Named Truth is a story of loss, love and the redemptive power of awakening a silenced voice.

One of the recent reviews for the book

An absolutely compelling memoir about family, what is the “truth”, and finding your footing in both love and family. It was a hypnotic read; I couldn’t put this book down. Truly recommend it.

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Thank you for dropping in today.. and don’t forget if you are in the Cafe and Bookstore and have a recent review.. I do try to feature authors every four to six weeks.. Thanks Sally



Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the #Reviewers – James J. Cudney for Angie Dokos, Judith Barrow #RBRT for JJ Toner and M.J Mallon for Carrot Ranch Anthology

This series is aimed at promoting and celebrating those that review books regularly. Especially those who do so via their blogs, as it would be great to create more traffic to their sites. I am happy to also showcase those that are put directly on Amazon.

The details are here in this first post with an example..

  • If you click the images of the books you will be taken directly to Amazon.
  • Where an author or reviewer is in the Cafe and Bookstore I will include their entry.
  • If a review has been posted to Amazon directly without a blog post, I will share the entire review with a link to the reviewers blog.

The first reviewer is author James J. Cudney  who has posted his recommendation of MacKenzie’s Distraction by Angie Dokos

Here is an extract from the post and please follow the link to read the whole review

Mackenzie’s been hurt in the past and steers clear of relationships especially when the man seems too good to be real or true. But in this case, before she even meets him, her life is traumatized when her mother is a car accident and struggles to survive. Though Mackenzie has friends and other family to help her handle the huge blow, it’s not quite as simple as all that. Her mother’s hospitalization leads Mackenzie to learn a few deep-rooted family secrets, meet friends from a parent’s former life, and discover things about herself she never knew existed. That’s when the potential man of her dreams walks into her life, but is she too crushed and shocked to accept it? Let’s not forget the sudden onset of several available and potentially great catches who are very interested in getting to know her. Who will she choose, if any? Now that’s where the plot of this book takes off… weaving readers on a very emotional and manic ride with the unfortunately impacted young woman just looking to heal.

I’m normally a plot, then character guy. In this book, though the plot is important, it’s less about what the secrets and actions are and more about how Mackenzie deals with all the repercussions. It was a great change of pace for me as you had to settle in, listen, and understand why Mackenzie reacted the way she did in each instance. I didn’t always agree, and I sometimes got angry with her for what seemed like an unnecessary or spoiled adolescent attitude; however, I also haven’t suffered through the craziness that hits her in the span of a few days. In that sense, she certainly tries to find a balance, and readers can easily connect with her on the journey. I vividly recall thinking, if she didn’t accept Trevor’s love and attention, I’d certainly volunteer to stand in. (I won’t tell you if she does or doesn’t, but it’s complex!) He was practically perfect in every way, what exactly was stopping her? Well… that’s where psychology and personality truly come into play and drive her responses. It takes a truly analytical, sensitive, and courageous mind to deliver this kind of story. Kudos to Dokos.

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The ReviewerJames J. Cudney


Books by James J. Cudney – Click cover for Amazon

Angie Dokos is in the Cafe and Bookstore

Angie Dokos, Buy:

The next review is for The Black Orchestra by JJ Toner and is reviewed by Judith Barrow as a member of the Rosie Amber Review Team. An excellent example of a constructive review.

28139814Here is an extract from the post.

I have to say I struggled with this book and it took a long time to read, mainly because the beginning is convoluted and littered with so many characters that each time I picked it up again, I needed to go back to see who was who, what rank they held and and where they fitted into the Nazi regime.

However, around three quarters through, the book became easier to read and was interesting.

After reading the first part of the book, and to be fair to the author, I knew I needed to make notes on what was working for me and what didn’t. (it’s the first time I’ve done this) So here are my thoughts:

I know little about the intricacies of the Nazi regime during WW2 so I had to take the military rankings, the way the regime worked and the historical details within the book at face value Though some of the scenes did seem a little far fetched.

I felt that many of the characters deserved more ‘fleshing out’ because of the part they play in the story. The protagonist, Kurt Müller, grows more rounded as the story unfolds and becomes easier to empathise with. The female characters, Gudren, Liesal and Tania are well portrayed but I felt that some of the sections they were each in could have been given more depth. The descent of Kurt’s friend, Alex, is well written and reflects the breakdown of the society at the time. I would have liked more to be shown of the character of main antagonist, Uncle Reinhard; his function in the plot is enormous but, for me, he wasn’t layered enough.

You can read the rest of Judith’s review here:

More about the author J.J Toner: JJ Toner Amazon Author page

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Now a review for an anthology.. The Congress of Rough Writers – Flash Fiction including stories by Sacha Black, Norah Colvin, Charli Mills, and Sarah Brentyn, reviewed by Marjorie Mallon.

Here is an extract from Marjorie’s post. is an online literary community where writers can practice craft the way musicians jam. Vol. 1 includes the earliest writings by these global literary artists at Carrot Ranch. Just as Buffalo Bill Cody once showcased the world’s most daring riding, this anthology highlights the best literary feats from The Congress of Rough Writers.

My Review

Thank you to Charli Mills for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

A thoroughly enjoyable read and very well structured. It delivers a wide range of flash fiction and so much more. The anthology succeeds in celebrating the wonderful sense of community that is Carrot Ranch and the benefits of participating, therein. Charli Mills has created a welcoming, nurturing community of ‘Rough Writers,’ who develop through practice – the necessary skills to polish their flash fiction writing, overcoming the challenging constraint of 99 words.

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