Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Crime Jacquie Biggar, #FlashFiction Sarah Brentyn, #Contemporary #Humour Lizzie Chantree


The first review today is for USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar and her recent release Virtually Gone: A Mended Souls Novel (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6)

About the book

From USA Today Bestselling Author, Jacquie Biggar, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how.

Investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw stumbles upon the case of a lifetime–one that could cost her everything.

When Julie is called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, she doesn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial rapist. Soon she’s in a race to find the facts before a killer makes her the headline.

Detective Matthew Roy is frustrated with his inability to track a rapist terrorizing his city. Added to that, his partner’s reporter girlfriend is dogging his every step and won’t heed his warnings. Time is ticking with the perpetrator escalating his crime to murder. Matt needs to find the killer soon, or chance losing someone he cares for- the question is, how?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Tytanmom19 5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced Techno Thriller!  Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2020

Virtually Gone (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6) by Jacquie Biggar. I loved the previous books in the series so I had high hopes for this one and I was not disappointed. It can be read as a standalone but I’ve enjoyed reading them all. Its the story of Julie Crenshaw who is an investigative reporter and Matthew Roy who is a detective. Julie has come upon a case that may make or break her career. There is a string of Sexual abuse cases but what Julie doesn’t know its going to throw her right in the rapists path. Matt is ticked off because he can’t solve this case. He is ticked at Connor his partner whose reporter girlfriend seems to always be one step ahead of him. If it weren’t for Connor, Matt would have probably killed or at least locked up Julie. When the rapist resorts to murder the stakes are even higher. Will Matt, Connor and Julie use technology to solve this crime before some else gets hurt or worse murdered. Will Matt and Connor still be partners/friends at the end of this investigation? Read Virtually Gone to find out!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar, Buy:  Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacquie : Goodreads – website: Jacquie Biggar – Twitter: @jacqbiggar

The next author celebrating a recent review is Sarah Brentyn for her flash fiction collection On the Edge of a Raindrop.

About the collection

When You’re on the Edge, It’s Easy to Fall

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

GraemeCumming 5.0 out of 5 stars Savour each morsel… Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 July 2020

It’s fair to say that I like my fiction with a bit of depth. I don’t mean War and Peace kind of depth, but I like a good yarn with layers, ideally a few twists, and characters that feel real, even when they’re a little larger than life. And yet I like short stories, and I always admire a writer who can produce an effective one.

I’m even more impressed, then, when I read flash fiction. At least, I am when it’s well written. As I understand it – and I’m no expert in these matters – flash fiction can be anything from a few words to a few hundred, so it can be very difficult to convey much in the way of a story with so little to play with. Very often, flashes will be suggestive rather than explicit.

Sometimes, they get across a state of mind or being rather than a whole story. Whichever route is taken, for that writing to stir something in the reader – for example, senses of loss, fear or exhilaration – means the author has done their job.

Probably the most famous flash fiction reads: ‘For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.’ Attributed to Hemmingway, though there are some doubters, this conveys so much and is a masterpiece of the genre.

Frankly, Sarah Brentyn’s work easily stands alongside this. Her ability to capture the essence of an emotion or a moment in so few words is staggering. In a single line, she can encapsulate something that many authors would struggle to do in several pages.

Like her first book, Hinting at Shadows, this is a book to savour and not rush. When you’re confronted with stories or essays that cover only a page or even a few lines, the temptation is to read one then leap on to the next. Don’t. Read one and reflect on it. The whole book is only 48 pages long, but what it contains is volumes and it should be read as if that’s the case.
Take your time. Savour each morsel as it’s fed to you. It’ll be more satisfying than you can imagine.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn, Buy: Amazon US – And on: Amazon UK – Follow Sarah: Goodreads – Sarah: Blog – Twitter: @SarahBrentyn

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

About the book

‘If you love me, I’m yours…’

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

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

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

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

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

One of the recent reviews for the book

MADEUPgroup 4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book that’s easy to read  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 July 2020

If you’re looking for a story that’s relatively short, yet full of memorable characters and twisty changes to the scenes while remaining lighthearted, then this is the perfect book for you.

The two main characters are brilliantly individual, and yet they just work so wonderfully together. I often find in books like this that the Characters become almost the same personality by the end of the book, and i find it quite frustrating. In this case, the personalities remain very distinctly individual from start to very end, with their own attitudes and quirks.

Seeing Dot and Maud work together and encourage one another to reach their goals and realise how amazing they are as individuals was wonderful. They were inspiring without being corny, and the friendship was a delight to read about. Everyone needs a friendship like this in their life!

I love the fact that although this looks like a romance novel (and that cover is gorgeous!) it’s so much more than that. This isn’t just a story about a typical romance, boy and girl meet, fall out, live happily ever after. Instead, we see Dot, Maud and Nate all learning to handle a variety of very realistic and believable problems. The book touches on some sad moments, and they’re handled well, you feel the sadness to your core and yet it doesn’t overpower the wonderful connections being made.

All of the characters are flawed in some ways, and they’re so much more lovable for it because it makes them feel real.

With Humour, realism, romance and life in general, this is an easy to read book that delights from start to end!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Other books by Lizzie Chantree

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

 

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #Thriller Carol Balawyder, #Flashfiction Sarah Brentyn, #SciFi Richard Dee


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 Carol Balawyder

Carol was born in Quebec but now lives in Montreal. After studying Early Childhood Education and spending time amongst the mayhem that is called ‘Kindergarten’, she then went on to obtain a B.A. in Education so that she could teach in High Schools. After the often challenging task of introducing poetry to teenagers Carol moved on to teaching English as a second language.

Fast forward through a trip in her early 20s (involved working passage on a Norwegian cargo ship) to Rotterdam and then to the British Library Museum to read the heavily guarded original Lewis Carroll manuscript of Alice in Wonderland. Then on to Concordia University in Montreal to study Applied Linguistics to M.A level and the publication of ESL books Open For Business and Windows on Sci-Tech under the name of Carol Ann Foumier.

Then came the desire to pen crime novels, and aware that it is expected that these be accurate and factual, Carol obtained a M.Sc. in Criminology. However writing crime stories was put on the back burner, as Carol put her degree to good use, teaching Police Technology and Corrections for 18 years in a college in Montreal. (We all know where to go when we have a crime story line that is not panning out!)

For some people the connection between crime and dating is all too apparent particularly when getting back on the dating scene after a divorce. After a long term relationship the prospect can be daunting and fraught with pitfalls, humour if you can find it and perhaps the need to kiss a lot of frogs.

Books by Carol Balawyder

A recent review for Warning Signs

Ellie Marrandette 5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly well-written novel into the world of evil  Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

This intelligent, well-written psychological thriller will remain in the reader’s mind long after finishing it, Carol Balawyder’s background in criminology is clearly evident in the detailed way she delves into the complex brain of the mentally insane. The author’s ability to create sympathy for a despicable protagonist reminded me of the novel, “House of Sand and Fog.” The story beautifully unfolds in such soft steps that the reader cares about all the characters involved, while rooting for ultimate justice to be done. This novel will not disappoint.

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

Meet Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi.

She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them.

When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

A recent review for On the Edge of a Raindrop

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Finished in a delightful flash  Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2020

Another brilliant book of flash and micro fiction from author Sarah Brentyn. This is the second book by this writer that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The only problem is that I finished it in a flash.

Here are a few lines that stood out for me … although so many others did too …

Her memory lane was pot holes and busted chunks of asphalt.
Lightning lit the room then plunged me into darkness. I was petrified. Not of the storm, but of the thing I’d seen next to my bed.
When the skies were beautiful watercolour paintings of our bruises.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods. Brilliantly done. On the Edge of a Raindrop gets a resounding five stars from me.

Sarah Brentyn, Buy: Amazon US – And on: Amazon UK – Follow Sarah: Goodreads – Sarah: Blog – Twitter: @SarahBrentyn

Meet Richard Dee

Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon, England He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.

Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.

In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.

Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. He contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection and is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.

Please go to Amazon or Richard’s website to view all his books.

One of the recent reviews for Survive

Norats Inthecorn 5.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi Fans Will Love This  Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2020

Imaginative futuristic story about space exploration gone wrong, interwoven with the survivors’ testimony on a television show about their harrowing ordeal after crash-landing on a strange planet rife with deadly creatures and amazing discoveries. Author Richard Dee has either done tremendous research into the technicalities of everything related to space exploration, etc., or he’s a dang genius. His writing is superb, his characterizations distinct, and his imagination – well – out of this world.

“Survive. The Tale of Ballantyne Alysom” is the first in a series. This series will appeal to fans of Science Fiction as well as those who like a good study in narcissism, for the main character, Ballantyne, is narcissism on steroids. Add to that the twists and turns, unexpected revelations, and underlying theme of corporate greed exploiting the expendable, and you’ve got a story that keeps you doing the, “just one more chapter,” thing. This is another one on my Recommendation List. Five stars.

Richard Dee, buy: Amazon US And: Amazon UKWebsite: Richard Dee’s ScifiGoodreads: Richard Dee at Goodreads – Twitter: @RichardDockett1

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #SouthernFiction Claire Fullerton, #FlashFiction Sarah Brentyn, #FamilyDrama Judith Barrow


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

The first author with reviews rolling in for her latest novel is Claire Fullerton for Little Tea, which I can also highly recommend

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Apr 26, 2020 Linda Zagon rated it Five Stars

Claire Fullerton, author of “Little Tea’ has written an emotional, poignant, memorable, captivating, intriguing, and thought-provoking novel. The genres for this novel are Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and Domestic Fiction. There is some Historical background mentioned in this story. There are two timelines mentioned in this story, the 1980’s in the south and the present day. The author describes her characters as complex and complicated. This is also a coming of age book. This is a book about family, friendship, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness, love, and hope.

The author discusses important issues that existed in the south in the 1980s, discrimination, and the differences between the poor and richer classes. Sometimes you have to revisit the past, to accept what is in the present and what will be in the future. I love that Claire Fullerton vividly describes the characters, events, and landscape in the story.

In the present, Celia who now lives in California with her husband gets an urgent phone call from her long time friend Renny pleading with her to come to her Lakehouse in Arkansas to discuss and deal with their troubled friend Ava. Celia decides to go, and what is supposed to be a helpful visit to her friends, becomes a visit to the past, memories, and tragedy. Is it possible to learn, forgive, and move on? I would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy reading about southern culture.
 

Head over to read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

Connect to Claire on her website: Claire Fullerton

The next author celebrating a recent review is Sarah Brentyn for her flash fiction collection On the Edge of a Raindrop.

About the collection

When You’re on the Edge, It’s Easy to Fall

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Finished in a delightful flash  Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2020

Another brilliant book of flash and micro fiction from author Sarah Brentyn. This is the second book by this writer that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The only problem is that I finished it in a flash.

Here are a few lines that stood out for me … although so many others did too …

Her memory lane was pot holes and busted chunks of asphalt.
Lightning lit the room then plunged me into darkness. I was petrified. Not of the storm, but of the thing I’d seen next to my bed.
When the skies were beautiful watercolour paintings of our bruises.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods. Brilliantly done. On the Edge of a Raindrop gets a resounding five stars from me.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Sarah Brentyn

Read the reviews and buy the Collections: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Sarah: Goodreads

Connect to Sarah via her: Blog

The final 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

Terry Tyler 4.0 out of 5 stars Familiary breeds contempt…  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 April 2020

I liked the structure of this book a lot – it’s written in the first person, and each chapter starts with a small section in the present day (2002), with Irene, the main character, taking care of her mother, who has dementia. Then it goes back in time, starting in 1963 when she was a child, and her sister, Rose, who has Down’s Syndrome, is born. I really loved the first third, which detailed Irene’s love for her sister (quite beautiful) and the difficulties within the family, with her cold, brusque mother, delightful father and the grandmother she adored. I was completely absorbed. The rest of the story pivots around a shocking event that takes place at around 40%.

The book slowed down for me a little during the middle section, which was about Irene’s growing up and the early part of her marriage to Sam, and I found the family’s lives rather depressing (which is a bit rich coming from someone who writes about dystopian horrors, but I find the end of the world as we know it less depressing than a humdrum life. I know, I’m weird). In the final third developments became much more interesting, and I was engrossed once more. I would have liked a little more in the way of plot, but that’s just personal taste, not a criticism; this is a character rather than a plot-driven book.

The strongest aspect of the latter part of the book was the initial development of the mother’s dementia; I have experience of this with my late mother, and, although the circumstances were very different, it certainly struck a chord, with one particular episode bringing tears to my eyes.

My favourite characters were Irene’s father and her husband, Sam, who I thought got a bit of a raw deal and put up with too much (I do hope he had more fun than he admitted to Irene, during a time when circumstances forced them apart). I can’t say I liked Irene, who put her own obsession with the past before his happiness, and whose outlook often seemed rather narrow (I kept wanting to tell her to lighten up, and do something a bit crazy!), but I appreciated how deeply and lastingly she was affected by the aforementioned shocking event, and she’s a thoroughly three-dimensional character.

The other star of the book is the time and place—the working class northern England of the 1960s and 70s, which was as starkly and realistically portrayed as any TV kitchen sink drama.

The ending brings a most surprising twist directly related to the events of Irene’s earlier years, which filled me with regret on her behalf. If you enjoy emotional family dramas that dig deep into the psyche, you will love this book, with its vivid descriptions of familial conflict, loss and the day to day difficulties of caring for a person with dementia.

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

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