Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors 2021 – #Poetry M.J. Mallon, #Fantasy A.J. Alexander, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow


Over the summer I will be updating author’s details in the Cafe and Bookstore and also sharing bios, books and recent reviews with you in this series…

Meet M. J. Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: M.J. Mallon. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over: One hundred book reviews

I write collaborative articles celebrating the spiritual realm and love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious. I am a member of two professional writing bodies: The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators – SCBWI and Cambridge Writers.

Books by M.J. Mallon

One of the recent reviews for Lockdown Innit

Colleen M. Chesebro 5.0 out of 5 stars Covid Poetry You Will Relate to!  Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2021

“Lockdown Innit – Poems About Absurdity” is a collection of poetry about the third wave of lockdowns in the U.K. because of the Corona Virus pandemic. Seen through the eyes of poet and author M. J. Mallon, not everything is as it seems, and we should take nothing for granted.

The Coronavirus has brought much of the U.K. and Europe to their knees, while here in the U. S. they’ve taken a more lackadaisical approach to the pandemic. Mallon shares the trials and tribulations of her life in lockdown through her poetry.

Her poem, “The Face Mask Rolls” left me with the haunting image of a discarded mask rolling down the road, clearly, a metaphor for the despair this virus has wracked upon humanity.

This is a short, poignant collection that will forever remind us of a time when no one had control over their lives. A must-read! 

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK Website:M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

Meet Aurora Jean Alexander

I’m a fantasy author working on a paranormal romance series. The first book of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, ‘Soul Taker’ was published December 15, 2018.

I have written short stories and poetry in the past. Some of my poems can be read on my blog ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest.

My rare free time I’m spending in extreme reading, excessive pool swimming and playing monster-monopoly. My strongest support system are my sister, most of my family, my friends and my three cats.

Also by A.J. Alexander

One of the recent reviews for Bounty Hunter

Jasmin5.0 out of 5 stars Centriel‘s point of view  Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2021

Bounty Hunter is already the fourth book in the ‘The Council of Twelve’ series. While reading it, we meet not only the meanwhile quite familiar characters like Raphael, Katie, Sundance, Zepheira, and Uriel; we’re also introduced to Simin Arnatt. She not only turns Centriel’s head, but she also keeps a huge secret…

In this latest adventure, for the first time, Alexander wrote a big part of the story from the point of view of one of the Archangels, which I liked very much.

Of course, with Simin, we get to know another new, strong, interesting female character. But I also enjoyed very much how the author let us peek into Centriel’s life.

Bounty Hunter is a terrific book, filled with secrets, suspense, and the perfect amount of AJ Alexander’s unique humor. I didn’t like too much about the book because it ended at one point, and I will have to wait for the next book in the series.  

A.J. Alexander, Buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Aurora Jean Alexander – Twitter: @AuroraJean_A

Meet Judith Barrow

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

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

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

Books by Judith Barrow

One of the recent reviews for The Heart Stone

This is a compelling read – well researched and written.

I read another review where the reviewer states that the book stayed with them after they had finished it – and I felt the same each evening when I had to put it down to go to bed – I have to admit to an extra 5 mins here, chapter there and more sometimes.

It was a story of the hardships of WW1 – the boys that went to war, underage, for the patriotic chance to help their King and Country, the women left behind often cowed by those men who didn’t go to war and made to feel inferior.

In fact, the main character, Jessie, was married to a man who did so purely because ‘What was hers was his’ when in fact the Law had changed and she was entitled to inherit her family business in her own right.

Jessie. like so many thought she had lost her love and married for respectability.
Her lost love, forced to become and act like a man when little more than a boy himself and was traumatised by what he had seen and endured in the Trenches of WW1 which was described with horrific detail by the author. This meant it was obvious the book was well researched for the finer details of how futile and terrible aspects of WW1 were.

I have written far more about the storyline than I would normally but I felt it important to point out that this was more than a tale of love and loss in WW1 – there was the horror of the Trenches, injuries sustained, women left behind struggling to cope emotionally and financially, domestic abuse and in the end redemption and hope.
Though not necessarily complete healing for the soldiers traumatised by the scenes they had endured.

If normally you would pass this book by then maybe give it a chance 

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Goodreads – blog: Judith Barrow – Twitter: @judithbarrow77

 

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

 

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Book Reviews – #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #Historical Tony Riches


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

My reviews for current books has now moved to Thursdays.

The first review is from 2017 and is for A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow which is the fourth book of hers that I have read and enjoyed.

About A Hundred Tiny Threads

It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.

The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife.

Meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down. But Honora and Conal disappear, after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, and abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home.

The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns his dream is still of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.

My review for A Hundred Tiny Threads.

Highly recommended – A brilliant prequel to the Howarth family saga.  Five Stars.

I read and reviewed the three books in the Howarth Family Saga series and was delighted to discover that Judith Barrow was going to release a prequel to the series. We meet Winifred Duffy and Bill Howarth well into middle-age in the trilogy, and it is wonderful to find out how they began life, and the experiences that formed their characters.

Winifred Duffy finds it difficult to bond with her rigidly unloving mother despite the best efforts of her father. Their grocery shop is a focal point in the street and being under the watchful eye of the neighbours makes their strained relationship worse. It is a time when the Suffragette movement is gathering pace, and much against her mother’s wishes, Winifred becomes involved. Her new friends are vibrant and colourful. They are completely different to anyone that she has known before and they draw her into a dangerous liaison. Winifred has to develop the strength to overcome the consequences of these relationships if she is to continue to live within the narrow minded community around her.

Bill Howarth is a young man whose early life and time in the mines has marred him, leaving scars that make him unpredictable and angry. But Winifred catches his eye and ignites a love that is both powerful and destructive. Bill enlists to fight in the First World War and his experiences of the horror drives any compassion he might have had, deeper beneath his anger. This is reinforced with his service as part of the Black and Tans regiment in Ireland leaving him with few options if he is to find redemption.

Judith Barrow has created two very different characters that cross paths on a number of occasions, sometimes without being aware of each other’s existence. It is very difficult to like Bill Howarth, and it takes a skilled writer to instil some compassion and understanding for the young man he becomes. Winifred is much easier to admire, as she faces and overcomes some life-changing events, and comes to terms with secrets from the past.

The pace of the story is excellent, with several other wonderfully drawn characters such as Honara and her brother Conal, and the completely unlikeable Ethel Duffy. The history of the suffragette movement and the Irish conflict are very well portrayed, forming a compelling backdrop to the story of two young people being drawn into events, often beyond their control.

I recommend that if you have not already read the three books in the trilogy, that you begin with A Hundred Tiny Threads. This will offer you a wonderful introduction to the Howarth family that you will next meet during the Second World War. Also, having become familiar with the locations in this prequel, you will feel immediately at home when you encounter them in the first of the books, Pattern of Shadows.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

About Judith Barrow.

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

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

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

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Judith: Goodreads – blog: Judith Barrow – Twitter: @judithbarrow77

My next review is for the first in the Tudor Trilogy – Owen by Tony Riches. I all the books and will share my reviews for those during the series.  I can however recommend all three books and enjoyed reading them back to back.

About Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history.

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.

My review for the book. November 2017

I loved history at school but it was never taught in depth. Central figures such as Elizabeth I, Queen Mary of Scotland and of course Henry VIII were mentioned, as were major battles or events in their lives. But you never got to know the person behind the crown or those around them in great detail.

I discovered Bernard Cornwell at an early age and have read all his books. And that is why I am delighted to have discovered Tony Riches, who writes his books with the people as the focus, with the events being incorporated into their story, rather than the other way around. This accomplished with not just superb story-telling but by giving Owen Tudor his own voice.

It is 1422 a few years after the Welsh rebellion led by Owen Glendower against Henry IV fails, and his supporters, including his cousins the Tudor family, have also lost lands and titles.

Owen Tudor has been a soldier serving in France, but is now a servant in a privileged position at Windsor castle when the young widow of Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois arrives with her baby son, Prince Henry later to be King Henry VI. Their first meeting was to be fateful, and during the following years of civil war in England, would lead to the founding of the Tudor dynasty.

Tony Riches takes us through the next 40 years in this first book in the trilogy. It begins as a love story that would change the course of history, but it also provides a clear and engrossing background to the beginning of the hostilities between the Houses of York and Lancaster.

Alliances change rapidly with the English throne as the ultimate prize.  What might be dismissed as minor engagements are given the respect they deserve, as integral moves in a chess game that spans decades, and is played adjacent to, and part of the 100 years war between the English monarchy and the French House of Valois.

The characters, even those with a less regal role, are richly drawn and deliver a much enjoyed respite from the destructive and violent events of the time. Sympathy grows for the young royal brides barely in their teens who are traded for land, alliances and truces. The cost of disloyalty is harsh and usually brutally extracted, unless there might be more to gain from clemency.

I would recommend the book as one that brings the cast members of this long drawn out struggle for power into the spotlight. History is a wonderful subject; but can be very dry and indigestible in the wrong hands. That is not the case with the Tudor Trilogy and whilst Tony Riches has created additional fictitious characters and events within the story, they serve to bring the lead cast members to life.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

About Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK. A specialist in the history of the early Tudors, Tony is best known for his Tudor Trilogy. His other international best-sellers include Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and Katherine – Tudor Duchess.

A selection of other books by Tony Riches

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Tony Riches: Goodreads – Website: Tony Riches –  Twitter: @tonyriches

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

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews -#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #Fantasy, #Paranormal C.S. Boyack


The first review is for award winning poetry collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude written by Miriam Hurdle.

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude depicts a road traveled with optimism, hope and appreciation amid heartache and unpredictable circumstances. It also celebrates genuine love and fulfilling relationships.

The poetry collection includes nine themes: Songs of Nature, Songs of Dissonance, Songs of Physical Healing, Songs of Marriage, Songs of Parenthood, Songs of Tribute, Songs of Reflections, Songs of Challenge, and Songs of Inspiration. Each of these themes covers various aspects of her life experience.

The poems are inspiring to the mind, heart, and spirit. The readers will resonate with these experiences. Hurdle illustrates the poems with her photograph and watercolor paintings.

A recent review for the collection

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 July 2020

What a lovely collection of poetry, photography and paintings. I really enjoyed this poetry collection. Songs of Heartstrings tells the story of the author’s life and the many difficulties she has overcome. It is heartfelt and personal. Miriam Hurdle’s poetry touches upon human frailties: struggling through cancer, learning to love again, rejoicing in the gifts of parenthood, music, exalting in the joy of nature, friendship and the sadness that returns with loss.

There is much that I related to, especially the poems of nature and the sea. Both of which mean a lot to me. It’s clear that Miriam Hurdle takes a great deal of comfort from religion and she shares her faith in her poetry.

The reader is enriched from reading Songs of Heartstrings with a sense of shared reminiscences and a deeper connection. Miriam Hurdle’s poetry is simply that, truthful, personal and real. My recommendation: Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.

Read the reviews and buy the collection also in Spanish and Portuguese: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read reviews and follow Miriam: Goodreads

Connect to Miriam via her website: The Showers of Blessings

The next author is Judith Barrow with a review for her compelling family drama – The Memory.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga

One of the recent reviews for the book

HeatherGirl 5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful storytelling  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 June 2020

Having long been a fan of Judith Barrow’s ‘Mary’ sagas, I was looking forward to ‘The Memory’. It did not disappoint.

The story of Irene and her ‘special’ sister Rose grabs you and pulls you in from the start. It’s a brave writer who tackles the themes of a Downs Syndrome child and the agony of caring for a parent with dementia, but Judith Barrow is utterly convincing. With her masterful eye for telling detail, and her understanding of the complexities of family relationships, Judith Barrow brings this story alive. At first glance, it should be depressing. But it is not. It’s certainly no light read, but all the more satisfying for it. And, without giving any spoilers, it is also a journey of self-discovery that is ultimately uplifting.

‘The Memory’ is another triumph of storytelling from Judith Barrow, one that will stay long in my mind. I’m already looking forward with eager anticipation to her next novel!

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

And:  Amazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judith: Goodreads

Connect to Judith via her blog: Judith Barrow

The final author today is C.S. Boyack with a review Viral Blues

About the book

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Jun 09, 2020 Jaye Marie rated it Five Stars

I wasn’t sure about the premise for Viral Blues, considering the state of the planet right now. I thought it might be just a little too close for comfort, but the cast of characters soon grabbed me by my coat tails and pulled me into the story with wonderful enthusiasm!

Such an interesting idea, bringing all your favourite characters together in one book. They all fit together well, apart from the Hat, who has never been a team player but did his level best to rule the roost!

That extra chapter at the end was worthy of being compared to some of Hollywood’s best (and cringe-making) finales. It is extremely well written but nasty in the extreme, but villains should always get their comeuppance, shouldn’t they? And what happened to Danny O’Malley was wonderfully poetic!

Read other 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

And :  Amazon UK

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

Connect to Craig via his blog Cold Hand Boyack

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews -#FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #History Mike Biles, #PsychologicalThriller Lucinda E. Clarke


Welcome to the first of the cafe updates this week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author is Judith Barrow with a review for her compelling family drama and another book that I can recommendThe Memory.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Irene is delighted when she finds out her parents are expecting, and when they bring home a beautiful little girl she falls in love instantly. But she doesn’t understand why her Mum doesn’t feel the same and doesn’t want anything to do with her…… She realises her sister is special, and later finds out that she has Down’s Syndrome. Only strengthening the love she has for, Irene has an unbreakable bond with Rose and will protect her above all else. Until she passes away at the age of 8….and Irene believes there is more to it than she is being told.

Left devastated Irene moves on with her life as best as she can with plenty of ups and downs, and eventually ends up back home caring for her Mum. Having kept a secret since the day Rose died, Irene faces up to what she feels she must do to put things right. Stressed, overwhelmed and tired, the only question is will Irene go ahead with her plans……

The Memory was so moving, it actually had me in tears at one point. Told from Irene’s viewpoint, we experience 24 hours with her as she’s at home caring for her challenging Mum who is suffering with dementia. But at the same time she takes us back through her memories of her childhood and life; when she meets her little sister, the bond they have, her death and the challenges that follow for Irene as an adult.

I was so invested in Irene and honestly felt like I was reading someone’s real life memoirs. Irene loved her sister so much and would have done anything for her. We go through the tragic loss with her and it’s heart breaking. As Irene grows she ends up sacrificing her own desires to care for others, something that constantly seems to happen through her life. When she seems to be able to move on with her life, something else crops up. The poor woman is so selfless, and goes through so much. You can’t help but empathise with her and wish you could give her a massive big hug!

I fell in love with Rose instantly. An adorable little character who’s end I was devastated by. Sam is a real gentleman although I could have given him a bit of a boot a few times! And then we have Irene’s Mum, Lil…….this woman brought out every emotion in me. I was angry with her, disgusted, sad and shocked. She says and does some terrible things, but isn’t always what she seems……And I loved Nanna……

The Memory is a truly emotive and heart wrenching novel covering sisterly bonds, family, secrets, betrayal, loss and ultimate sacrifice. I didn’t want to put it down. Highly recommended by me.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

AndAmazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judith: Goodreads

Connect to Judith via her blog: Judith Barrow

The next author with a recent review is Mike Biles for his history of Britain that I can also highly recommend.. A Bit About Britain’s History.

About A Bit about Britain’s History: From a long time ago to quite recently.

Could this short, elegant, volume be the only book on British history you’ll ever need?

A Bit About Britain’s History is for anyone who wants a serious, yet light, introduction to Britain’s amazing story. If you don’t know the basics, or would like a reminder, this book is for you. It is also perfect for those that didn’t enjoy history at school, but who have suddenly realised they’d like to understand it a bit better now.

What did the Romans achieve? How did Christianity arrive? Who are the English and why did they fight the French so often? What is Henry VIII’s greatest legacy? When did democracy start and people get the vote? Why on earth did Britain get involved in WW1?

Organised clearly and chronologically, A Bit About Britain’s History covers every period from a long time ago until quite recently. It begins by briefly mentioning that the place was once inhabited by extremely large lizards, and ends up with a post-war 20th century consumer society. Brief articles explain the essential aspects of Britain’s past, including how the ancestors of its current inhabitants arrived, how they fought each other, formed nations, fell out over religion, acquired a large empire, became gradually more democratic, helped win a couple of world wars and were left wondering what to do next. At the end of the book are detailed timelines for each period, which provide useful reference and make fascinating reading in their own right.

A Bit About Britain’s History might be the only book on British history you’ll ever need; or it might be your stepping stone to more in-depth academic reading

One of the recent reviews for the book

Denise G. McGee 5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to learn more about the history of Britain  Reviewed in the United States on May 22, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed reading “A Bit About Britain’s History.” While history has always fascinated me, too many non-fiction books about history tend to be exceedingly dry. This book was very informative and entertaining and didn’t put me to sleep. I’m American, and more than a bit of an Anglophile, so this book was right up my alley. I’ve been following Mike’s blog for several years now, and am delighted that he has a published book. I’m very much looking forward to the second installment!

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

And on Amazon US: Amazon US

Follow Mike on : Goodreads

Connect to Mike via his blog: Bit About Britain

The final author today is Lucinda E. Clarke with a recent review for her latest release A Year in the Life of Andrea Coe: A Psychological Thriller (In the life of …. Book 2)

About the book

Andrea was Leah’s best friend. A strange attraction between a wild, confident, fun-loving, widow and a quiet, insecure housewife.

But Leah’s gentle and loving nature hide the depths of an underlying iron-hard mental strength. After surviving her vicious husband’s terrifying games and the mental asylum he committed her to, Leah’s only desire now is for a life of peace with her new partner, and her best friend, Andrea. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out. With her husband now on the run from a mob hitman, and his family each hiding their own secrets, they are prepared to go to any lengths to finish what they started three years ago. Will they succeed this time?

Leah knew the only person she could rely on was Andrea.

This is book two in the series and answers all the questions raised in Book 1: A Year In The Life of Leah Brand.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Tom 5.0 out of 5 stars Keep your enemies closer …  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 May 2020

A superb sequel to ‘A Year in the Life of Leah Brand’. Yes, this is Andrea’s story but a key component is her best friend, Leah. This tale has been well-constructed to develop and highlight every aspect of Andrea’s life, but it also refreshes readers’ memories about how fragile Leah is psychologically and how she interacts with other people.

In monthly increments, we are introduced to a level of promises, lies, deceit and artificial support normally only found in political election campaigns. Apart from the monthly episodes, the chapters are presented in the point of view of the main individual characters. I believe this increases the depth of the intrigue and suspense rather than diluting it.

The characterisation is produced to the author’s usual high standard, so although the supporting characters do not all have personal chapters they are still well-developed and earn their places in this excellent tale of relationships, need and greed.

There may be readers who would like to see this become a trilogy, which, if the author wished, it could be, but if left as Leah’s year and Andrea’s year, the two books are fine entertainment.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Lucinda E.Clarke

Read the reviews and buy the books:  Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Lucinda: Goodreads

Connect to Lucinda via her blog: WordPress Lucinda E. Clarke

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

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #Thrillers John W. Howell, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #ContemporaryIrish Mary Crowley


There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.

In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.

Meet John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the tension. The final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016 concludes the thriller series. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a different thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. The fifth book is a collaboration with the ​award-winning author, Gwen Plano titled The Contract. Heavenly bodies become concerned about the stability of the Earth and send two of their own to risk eternal salvation in order to save the planet. The Contract achieved number one status in its genre. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Books by John Howell

One of the recent reviews for My GRL

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Great character and lots of action Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2020

John Cannon is on a sabbatical from his high-powered attorney job and decides to spend a year on Mustang Island off the coast of Texas working on his used 65’ boat. Then his friend ends up shot, and the sheriff suspects that he’s keeping secrets. Add to that, it turns out that terrorists want his boat.

This book moves along at a good clip as John deals with the sheriff and then gets embroiled in the terrorists’ plot. He’s a great character, and for me, he brought the book to life. He’s kind of an average guy, but he’s smart and resourceful (for the most part), and he has some attitude. I had a great time watching him deal with all the problems while completely out of his element.

The story didn’t bog down with description or backstory, and it had just the right amount of shipboard detail to lend authenticity to the setting, John’s capabilities, and the story’s resolution. I would definitely read more of this character and author. Though a thriller, the book was also a lot of fun. Highly recommended for readers of action novels and thrillers, and book-lovers who enjoy great characters. 

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USand on: Amazon UK – Goodreads:John Howell Goodreads Blog: John W. Howell. com – Twitter@HowellWave

Meet Judith Barrow

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

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

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

One of the recent reviews for The Memory

Georgia Rose 5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and thoughtfully written book I highly recommend  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 May 2020

I have been a fan of Judith Barrow’s work for a long time so bought, The Memory, her new release the moment it was available. I also chose it as the book of the month for my reading group because it would ensure I read it in a timely fashion.

I have struggled to read much at this time and I was concerned how I’d manage with what I anticipated would be a difficult subject matter but I need not have worried. I found the way this was written, with short chapters broken up consistently into two time periods, was ideal. The length of chapter meant I wasn’t put off starting another one and in fact I found I read far more as I was keen to know what would come next in this compelling story.

The first part of each chapter was the story told over a day or so in 2002 and consisted of the intensely grim life that Irene was living with her mother. The second part started in 1963 and was the story of Irene’s life from when she was eight when Rose, her sister, arrived in it. Her love for Rose was absolute and moulded the rest of her life. This second storyline was also very much a love story as Irene meets a terribly patient Sam.

Barrow’s writing is, as always, superb. Her attention to detail transports you so far into the story you could be in the room with Irene and her mother, even if you’d rather not be present at times. Her characters are terrific and descriptions vivid.

This book was thoroughly discussed at my reading group (held via Zoom) and the views of all were broadly along the same lines although many wished Irene had not given up on so many of her own dreams because of the responsibility she felt towards others. But of course these were different times.

Highly recommended, this is an excellent, thoughtfully written read I’d recommend to all who enjoy realistic, well told tales of family life.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Judith: Goodreads – blog: Judith Barrow – Twitter: @judithbarrow77

Meet 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.

My review for Under a Dark Cloud 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 books: Amazon UK – And on : Amazon US – Follow Mary : Goodreads – Blog/Website: Mary Crowley WordPress – Twitter: @marycrowleym

Thank you for joining me today for this series and I will be sharing another three authors and their work every weekday during June and July. It would be great if you could share. Thanks Sally.