Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 – #FamilySaga – Under a Dark Cloud by Mary Crowley


I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

Delighted to share my review from April 2020 for Under a Dark Cloud by  Irish author Mary Crowley

About the book

Under a Dark Cloud is a grippingly emotional story of shattered dreams, haunting nightmares and bitter memories. Kelly Henderson wants reprieve to emerge from Under the Dark Cloud that shrouds her life.

Kelly Henderson returns to Bunreen, a small town nestled in the South East of Ireland, weeks after her husband’s tragic death, wanting to re-establish a relationship with her mother and sister. However, as the taxi approaches her old home, she is harshly reminded of the night her mother Lorraine banished her to live with her father in Scotland, when she was only fifteen years of age.

Kelly’s’ heart is heavy and her grief raw, but she must keep strong as she soon discovers there are more secrets within the family. While Lorraine’s indifference to her pain gives renewed determination to right the wrongs of the past and prove she had not been lying about what had happened to her as a teenager. A wrongdoing that led to the breakdown of her marriage and in Kelly’s mind, inevitably caused her husband’s death. It’s time to take back control and get the reprieve she deserves.

Nessa Quinlan has a simple but happy life with her devoted husband Liam; however, her life is turned upside-down when her estranged brother contacts her to say he is dying of cancer. Nessa had broken all ties with Donald after he had killed a local teenager in a road accident showing no remorse.

Kind-hearted, Nessa becomes his carer which concerns her family and best friend Clodagh, but Nessa has more to contend with than the disagreeable Donald, with ghosts from her past threatening to cloud her happiness, which in turn puts a strain on her marriage. This is not helped by Donald refusing medical treatment until one day Kelly arrives on their doorstep as his new Health Nurse.

Can Nessa save her marriage? Does Kelly hold the answers to Nessa’s problems, or will her presence bring further recriminations?

Under a Dark Cloud is Mary Crowley’s second Novel following her Debut A Sweet Smell of Strawberries, a heart wrenching tale of a mother’s loss when her son, a talented athlete is killed.

My review for the book 4th April 2020

I read and enjoyed A Sweet Smell of Strawberries and was looking forward to reading Mary Crowley’s second novel and was not disappointed.

There is some continuity from the first book which featured characters on the edges of the main story, who now take centre stage in this novel. This did help bring me in to the story right from the start and although a stand alone book, you would gain a great deal by reading the first book.

The women in this story all have fractured pasts, trauma, loss and challenging personalities. Kelly and Nessa have secrets and unresolved issues that are now influencing their relationships and their futures. Their families are also going through challenging times and those who you would expect to be supportive and trustworthy are holding on to their own darkness.

In this small town evil is lurking and it will take strength of character, resolve and courage to confront it and move on from the devastating repercussions of its impact on individuals and the community.

Mary Crowley has created wonderful characters and even those who are dark and unlikeable are compelling. The threads of each character’s story from the past to the present, are woven into a complex and interconnecting web of lies, mystery, trauma and secrets. The reader is left guessing who might be the perpetrator of the actions that have resulted in both Kelly’s and Nessa’s turmoil, and there is a surprising ending that brings the story to a satisfactory close.

It is a well written family saga, with twists and turns that will keep you guessing and I am sure that like me, you will enjoy reading Under a Dark Cloud.

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

Also by Mary Crowley

Read the reviews and buy the booksAmazon UK – And on : Amazon US – Follow Mary : Goodreads – Blog/Website: Mary Crowley WordPress – Twitter: @marycrowleym

About Mary Crowley

Mary Crowley is a Contemporary Irish Literature Novelist and Freelance Writer. Author of Under a Dark Cloud and A Sweet Smell of Strawberries, she is also the winner of The Waterford Writers’ Weekend Short Story Competition (2016) with her story entitled The Three Sisters’. Mary’s work focusses on strong emotional relationships, adding humour, hope and most of all heart.

Mary lives in County Waterford, on the South East Coast of Ireland, with her husband and three children. Having worked for many years as a qualified dental nurse, and dental health educator whilst bringing up her family. She is now concentrating on her love of writing. She has had stories published in Writing.ie, one of which was inspired by her literary heroine Maeve Binchy. Several short fiction pieces published in Flash Fiction Magazine, along with articles in Woman’s Way, the Irish Times and local newspaper The Munster Express. Having studied courses in creative writing and journalism, she is currently working on several writing projects along with doing freelance writing.

When she is not writing, she loves reading and spending time with her husband John and their three children Damon, Steven and Katie, though they are growing up too quickly. Her most favoured way of family time is travelling to new and interesting places in her beloved VW Camper.

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed my review for Mary’s book and will head over to discover more about her.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Familydrama Mary Crowley, #Cyberpunk/Scifi C.S. Boyack


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

The first author with a recent review is James J. Cudney for his latest release Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6)

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reader Editor 5.0 out of 5 stars Kellan’s Incredible Life Inadvertently Solving Mysteries Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020

In this 6th book of the Braxton Campus cozy mystery series, the author brings another character to the front of the action. Madam Zeyna predicts some occurrences in Kellan’s future that may be insurmountable. Once again, Cudney’s ability to portray his characters made me smile. While we envision Madame Zeyna – we know exactly how she may look – Cudney focuses on her personality and how she fits into the action.

Kellan’s grandmother, the feisty and wise Nana D goes missing. By the way, she is one of my favorite characters in this entire series. Cudney has created a spunky older woman we all might like to be when we age. Kellan is on overload searching for her while also solving the murder of a prominent Braxton citizen the has the town in near lock down. Then there is his tempestuous liaison with the Deputy Sheriff, April, which is becoming a solid relationship, but both have different duties, and this always tears at their relationship. As this series moves along, we watch the characters grow and learn life’s lessons. An air of mystery shadows this story and I feel it may run into the next story, though all the stories in this series are stand-along if you wish to read them that way.

Cudney builds an exciting story around these events, with occurrences and surprises we don’t see coming. As with all his stories, he ends this one with a superb cliffhanger. The story finishes nicely, but now we know there will be another soon.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

Connect to James via his blog: This is my Truth Now

The next author is Mary Crowley and a review for her second novel Under a Dark Cloud

About the book

Under a Dark Cloud is a grippingly emotional story of shattered dreams, haunting nightmares and bitter memories. Kelly Henderson wants reprieve to emerge from Under the Dark Cloud that shrouds her life.

Kelly Henderson returns to Bunreen, a small town nestled in the South East of Ireland, weeks after her husband’s tragic death, wanting to re-establish a relationship with her mother and sister. However, as the taxi approaches her old home, she is harshly reminded of the night her mother Lorraine banished her to live with her father in Scotland, when she was only fifteen years of age.

Kelly’s’ heart is heavy and her grief raw, but she must keep strong as she soon discovers there are more secrets within the family. While Lorraine’s indifference to her pain gives renewed determination to right the wrongs of the past and prove she had not been lying about what had happened to her as a teenager. A wrongdoing that led to the breakdown of her marriage and in Kelly’s mind, inevitably caused her husband’s death. It’s time to take back control and get the reprieve she deserves.

Nessa Quinlan has a simple but happy life with her devoted husband Liam; however, her life is turned upside-down when her estranged brother contacts her to say he is dying of cancer. Nessa had broken all ties with Donald after he had killed a local teenager in a road accident showing no remorse.

Kind-hearted, Nessa becomes his carer which concerns her family and best friend Clodagh, but Nessa has more to contend with than the disagreeable Donald, with ghosts from her past threatening to cloud her happiness, which in turn puts a strain on her marriage. This is not helped by Donald refusing medical treatment until one day Kelly arrives on their doorstep as his new Health Nurse.

Can Nessa save her marriage? Does Kelly hold the answers to Nessa’s problems, or will her presence bring further recriminations?

Under a Dark Cloud is Mary Crowley’s second Novel following her Debut A Sweet Smell of Strawberries, a heart wrenching tale of a mother’s loss when her son, a talented athlete is killed.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Feb 26, 2020 Joyce Murphy rated it Five Stars

The intrinsic set of secondary characters drawn from Waterford city create a suspense right from the start. Irish drama coming to life with a rich set of colorful characters, flawed in their own way but with very big hearts. A lovely companion book any time you want to sit down, grab a coffee and treat yourself to this special story.

I have just started reading ‘A Sweet Smell of Strawberries’ the authors first book and even after the first few pages, I am already hooked.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Mary Crowley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Mary on: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her blog/website: Mary Crowley WordPress

The final author today is C.S. Boyack with a review for his Cyberpunk/Scifi Grinders.

About the book

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again: No one has a wilder and more fertile imagination than C. S. Boyack. His latest release is so packed full of entertainment, it boggles the mind! And the world-building is beyond creative. Holy Moly! This vision of an all-too-possible future is engrossing, funny, frightening, and compelling, all at the same time. And oh, yeah—about the story. It works to perfection as well. Take some cool characters, an interesting antagonist, and a few fun critters being taught wild and crazy skills, stir well, and what do you get? Grinders! A book that’s an all-around treat to read.

Although this was my first foray into cyberpunk, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I felt as though I were doing a “country bumpkin” walk through this futuristic cityscape, my mouth hanging open every step of the way. I highly recommend you take that walk, too. You’ll be glad you did.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

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

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

AndAmazon UK

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

Connect to Craig via his blog: Cold Hand Boyack

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair -#Romance Linda Bradley, #FamilyDrama Mary Crowley, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher


Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first book today which would make romance lovers very happy is Maggie’s Montana which is the third book in the Montana Bound Series by Linda Bradley.

About the book

Maggie Abernathy, best friend Judy, and Judy’s two young sons travel cross country to visit John McIntyre and daughter Chloe at their Montana ranch. Maggie’s convinced herself that she’s only making the trip to fulfill her promise to visit Chloe, but once there she can’t help but fall in love with the horses, the land, the ranch, and the Montana ways of life. With Chloe’s loving antics, Winston’s gift, and a handful of wranglers showing her the ropes, will Maggie have the heart to say goodbye?

One of the recent reviews for the book and series on Goodreads

Sep 03, 2019 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
A Second Chance at Life

A trip to Montana with Judy, Harry and Walter turns into the adventure of a lifetime. Chole and John are settled in at the ranch and there’s so much to enjoy. Winston lets Maggie know that she has a place in their life if she’ll take the chance. Will Maggie find the strength and courage to move forward towards a new home and relationship? Recommend Series.

Also by Linda Bradley

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Linda on : Goodreads

Connect to Linda via her website: Linda Bradley Author

The next author is Mary Crowley who has two books set in Ireland that would make wonderful gifts..Her first novel A Sweet Smell of Strawberries has a recent review..

About the book

Imagine, a warm summer’s morning with the Sweet Smell of Strawberries wafting through the air, tantalising your senses….

For Sarah Connolly, this invokes beautiful memories of her son Jack. A talented athlete destined to represent Ireland in the Olympics and loved by everyone who knew him. While out training early one morning, the sixteen-year-old was killed when Desmond Shanahan lost control of his car. Jack’s death crushing Sarah, as her only child, he was the very essence of her life.

Losing a child in tragic circumstances, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, a sense of unjust…..

Now, five years after the tragedy, Desmond’s early release from prison leaves Sarah feeling let down by the justice system and she makes sure he knows this. Even if it means losing friends in her quest to remind the close community of Kilmer Cove, of Desmond’s guilt. What Sarah fails to realise is nothing will bring back her son.

However, Sarah is not alone in her angst over Desmond’s release, and a web of lies soon becomes untangled over the events which lead to Jack Connolly’s death.

Can Sarah find it in her heart to forgive Desmond?

A Sweet Smell of Strawberries takes in a beautiful Irish setting along the coastline of Donegal and The Wild Altlantic way. A story of love, heartache and retribution which makes you realise no one is perfect!

One of the recent reviews on Goodreads

Oct 21, 2019 Eleanor Murphy rated it it was amazing

Great Read, I loved this book. It is a story of love and loss with twists to keep you intrigued throughout, immediately pulling you in to the characters who are very relatable and believable. I could imagine sitting in the Cove listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline. I’ve never been to Donegal but I definately plan to visit after reading this book.

Also by Mary Crowley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Mary on: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her blog: Mary Crowley WordPress

Now time for some action and adventure courtesy of Audrey Driscoll with a recent review for  Book 4 of the Herbert West Series – Hunting the PhoenixI am sure the complete series would make a great gift for anyone.

About the book

Journalist Alma Halsey chases the story of a lifetime to Providence, Rhode Island and finds more than she expected – an old lover, Charles Milburn, and an old adversary, renegade physician Herbert West, living under the name Francis Dexter. Fire throws her into proximity with them both, rekindling romance and completing a great transformation.

More Details: Middle-aged and cynical, journalist Alma Halsey looks back on the missed chances in her life with bitterness and regret. Revisiting her home town of Arkham, she comes into possession of a letter that changes everything. So what if it’s not addressed to her, but to her old flame, librarian Charles Milburn? Suddenly she’s chasing down a big story, and maybe she’ll reconnect with Charles as well.

Giving up her New York City life, Alma moves to Providence, Rhode Island and begins tracking down another man from her past – one she’s assumed to be dead for more than 15 years – none other than renegade physician Herbert West. It seems he’s living in Providence under the name Francis Dexter, and is once more engaged in nefarious doings. Once she’s gathered enough information, Alma plans to write an expose.

Things get complicated when Alma discovers that Charles Milburn is also in Providence, working for “Dr. Dexter,” and English neurosurgeon Edward Clapham-Lee is also looking for Herbert West. Everything goes wrong when the house she is living in catches fire. Seriously injured and far from home, Alma is forced to accept the hospitality of the man she has made her quarry. In Dexter’s house she finds healing, strangeness and unexpected friendships, and realizes that her real quarry is herself.

Alone with Dexter for several days, Alma has occasion to revisit her relationship with him and discover the roots of her disaffection. Soon after Charles’s return from a business trip, the three repair to Cape Cod where they celebrate their renewed friendship, until the appearance of Edward Clapham-Lee – a man as amoral and dangerous as Dexter’s former self – demands a return to Arkham for a final reckoning.

One of the recent reviews for Hunting the Phoenix.

So speaks Charles Milburn near the end, when he and Alma are contemplating writing the story of Herbert West/Francis Dexter. I can’t argue with that sentiment!

Reading this book is definitely a powerful experience. However, I think I would have enjoyed it even more and comprehended it better if I were more knowledgeable about alchemy. It’s never been a subject that interested me; I’ve always viewed it (when I thought about it at all) as a primitive footnote to the history of “real” science. But I can concede that alchemy makes an excellent “crucible” for a paranormal plot. After all, all SF writers employ futuristic fictional science in order to move their plots along; why not utilize archaic fictional science?

A noteworthy aspect of this book is the author’s skill in evocative description. She really knows how to set a scene and create a mood; furthermore characters appear, take shape, and are molded in front of your very eyes. Here are only a few examples:

From the Prologue section: “Last night I dreamed again of Provincetown in the summer of 1939, seven years ago. A silver pink sunrise off the Cape in August. The taste of peach juice on his lips, his arms holding me as he dances us out of the world. The legacies of one who was born of fire and has returned to it.”

“My thoughts dissolved into a whirl of light, colour, and sound – the strange dissonances and harmonies of the two instruments, the copper-haired child with her birdlike song, the candlelit procession from darkness to light, the Christmas tree with its suns, moons, roses and dark orbs. And in the center of it all, our enigmatic host …”

And when Alma first starts to write poetry: “I sat in my quiet, rose-scented study, scribbling in fits and starts, stalking ripples of my own emotions as the hunter stalks his prey, fishing for feelings and catching them in a net of words.” On that subject, this book contains some remarkable poetry; the author displays a fine comprehension of that literary form.

Dreams and hallucinations also play a mesmerizing role in “Hunting the Phoenix,” and the author skillfully uses flashback techniques to relate earlier events. Most loose ends from the three earlier volumes are tied up, although there are still a few things I wonder about, especially what became of the John Hocks demon, who appears near the end of v.1
I strongly recommend this book and the three previous volumes in the series, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, She Who Comes Forth.

A selection of other  books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

 Amazon Canada

 Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Audrey on: Goodreads

Connect to Audrey  via her website: Audrey Driscoll

And finally today the memoir by  Brigid P. Gallagher that shares her experiences and also strategies to overcome chronic illness in Watching for the Daisies.

About the book

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

  • The busy life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating disease
  • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms
  • Entering a new life of SLOW

Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety of self help techniques and lifestyle changes. She also unearths a love of solo travel including Egypt, India, Rome, Lourdes, Carcassonne and Bali…

Brigid learns many insights about LIFE on her journey, the most valuable being: “First learn to love thyself.”

In 2006, she began a new career in Organic Horticulture eventually teaching part time in schools. Although she has now retired from teaching, she continues to pursue her lifelong passion for gardening and watching the daisies.

One of the recent reviews for the book

A fascinating read through all the naturopathic and alternative remedies Brigid has been involved in. Clearly a very active and intelligent person, she applied herself to learning, teaching and living the naturopathic principals. Many people will owe much to her knowledge and generosity in sharing her gifts.

Her own health problems dictated a new path and a need to slow down and take care of herself. Her new pace of life has resulted in this book on life lessons and the importance of slow. We are the happy beneficiaries. Thank you for your insights Brigid!

Read the rest of the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

and at:  Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Brigid on : Goodreads

Connect to Brigid via her blog: Watching the Daisies

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. Sally.