Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – #Humour Mae Clair, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Historical Apple Gidley


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

The first author with a recent review is Mae Clair for her mystery with a touch of humour… In Search of McDoogal

About the book

In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Bookworm 92 5.0 out of 5 stars  The Things We Do for Love  Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2020

Anytime I see a new release by Mae Clair, I know it’s going to be a fantastic read. Having enjoyed both her Hodes Hill and Point Pleasant series, as well as, single titles such as Eclipse Lake, I immediately bought a copy of In Search of McDoogle.

While this story is far different from her usual genre, it didn’t disappoint.

Brady Conrad wants to impress his girlfriend. When he accidentally sells her beloved painting, he enlists the help of his friend, Declan, to help retrieve it.

What follows is a trip to a nearby town in search of the elusive “masterpiece”, a cast of quirky characters, a comedy of errors, and lots of laughs. A solid five stars for this one.

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

A selection of books by Mae Clair

Mae Clair, Buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Mae on: Goodreads
Website: Mae Clair – Twitter: @MaeClair1

The next book with a recent review is Islands of the Gulf Volume 1, The Journey (The Herbert West Series Book 2) by Audrey Driscoll

About the book

Once, he was Herbert West, superlative surgeon and revivifier of the dead. Now he’s lost his reputation, his country and his name. Rebuilding his life as a country doctor on Bellefleur Island, he struggles with doubts, emotional entanglements and terrible memories of the Great War. Above all, he must forge a new relationship with his old adversary – death – and negotiate with a new one – love.

More Details: Boulogne, France, 1916. Wounded soldier Andre Boudreau awakes to find himself under the care of renegade physician Herbert West of Arkham, who is serving as a medical officer in the Great War. Having lost his memory and reluctant to return to a home and family he cannot remember, at the end of the War Andre gratefully accepts West’s offer of employment.

In Arkham, Andre works as chauffeur, valet and lab assistant, serving with unquestioning devotion the man he calls the Doctor. He remains loyal when West is forced to escape from Arkham by drastic means, changing his name to Francis Dexter. In the course of a bizarre journey across North America, Andre finds himself in charge of their travels as Dexter, his health and judgment impaired, grows increasingly unstable.

Arriving by tramp steamer on the West Coast, Andre is eager to begin a new life, despite his loyalty to the Doctor. A chance meeting brings them to Bellefleur Island, where Andre finds work as a lighthouse keeper. Hoping that the island may offer a chance for the Doctor to begin anew as Dr. Francis Dexter, Andre leaves him in the hands of Margaret Bellgarde.

Married young to ambitious lawyer Richard Bellgarde, Margaret is devastated when he volunteers for service in the Great War and is killed in action. Offered a home on Bellefleur Island by her father-in-law, Margaret gives birth to her son there and becomes absorbed into the island’s life.

With the arrival on Bellefleur of Dr. Francis Dexter, Margaret finds herself questioning him about his past and herself about her future. Showing him the beauties of her island home, sharing conversations and experiences, Margaret comes to find Dexter attractive as well as mysterious. Charming but evasive, Dexter builds a successful medical practice and spends summers exploring the coast with sailor and artist Julian Vernon.

When tragedy strikes, Margaret finds herself in a unique position to help Dexter, but first she must choose between the inclinations of her heart and the principles she has taken for granted all her life. Her choices have unfathomable consequences for her family and the island she loves.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Vic Hess 5.0 out of 5 stars A Macabre Adventure worth reading  Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2020

A man of macabre background is described first through the eyes of his valet and then through the eyes of a widow who slowly grows fond of him despite the mysteries surrounding him. This is a well-written story, each paragraph either informing us or teasing us with questions, each paragraph conversational and through it all, you learn as much about the narrator as the subject of their discourse.

This is a well-planned story that has multiple plot points systematically delivering us from Europe, to Canada, to Boston, to New Orleans, to the Gulf of Mexico, and ultimately to the Strait of Juan de Fuca off of British Columbia. Ships and ports and mariners make the journey interesting to the reader, and, you are tempted to stay awake one more hour to get to the next chapter.

I gave this book five stars because of the quality of writing, the unique points of view which were expertly handled, and the unfolding story that kept me reading. Driscoll clearly works diligently on her writing and quite carefully on her editing. This is a very good book!

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

A selection of books by Audrey Driscoll

Audrey Driscoll, Buy:Amazon US – And:  Amazon UK – follow Audrey: Goodreads – Website:Audrey Driscoll – LinkedIn: Audrey Driscoll

The final author today is Apple Gidley with a recent review for the historical novel Transfer

About the book

Transfer traces the lives of those on Anna’s Fancy, the Clausen estate on Saint Croix in the Danish West Indies, handed down through three generations. An historical novel and the sequel to Fireburn (OC Publishing 2017), Transfer sees Niels Clausen, the illegitimate child of a Danish landowner and his black mistress who both died as a result of the 1878 worker revolt, leave his adoptive mother’s sugar plantation and sail to England to continue his education.

With the help of Toby, a British aristocrat, Ivy, a lady’s maid turned lady and her botanist husband, Timothy, Niels challenges the perceptions on the streets of London of a black man at the turn of the 20th century. His development as a writer and political protagonist continues as he travels to Denmark and France where he meets up with childhood friends, Javier and Fabiana Gomez, before returning to Saint Croix.

The Danish West Indies face an uncertain future as the declining sugar industry lessens Denmark’s interest in their colonial outpost. Niels becomes increasingly involved in the future of the islands as war looms and concerns grow that Germany might covet a presence in the Caribbean. Will the islands’ security be guaranteed by the transfer of power to America?

The highs and lows of Niels’ life are punctuated by the crossing of oceans and cultures as well as the political manoeuvrings of a turbulent time in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.

One of the recent reviews for the book

D Briscoe 5.0 out of 5 stars Love the history!  Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2020

Loved the book! This was the story of a special group of people – a continuation of the first book, Fireburn. Transfer follows the families/friends through the years following the Emancipation of slaves (Fireburn) to the takeover of St. Croix and the other Virgin Islands by the United States. Ms. Gidley brought the people to life and highlighted the issues of the time. Excellent story!

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

Books by Apple Gidley

Apple Gidley, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Apple: Goodreads –  Blog:Apple Gidley WordPress – Twitter: @ExpatApple

Thank you for dropping by today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #YAFantasy Kevin Cooper, #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards, #Historical Apple Gidley


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 Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper is an eclectic author & songwriter. His works are multifarious. He has published fantasy, sci-fi, memoirs and drama in the form of novels, novellas, short stories, poetry and song.

Some of KC’s major influences in literature are JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman, C.S Lewis, Terry Brooks, and J.K Rowling.

KC was born in Hull, England. At 21 years of age, he moved to the USA where he first attended Western Kentucky University, but transferred to Asbury College where he graduated with a BA in Psychology. He then attended Asbury Theological Seminary for a couple of years before moving to Arizona where he enrolled at the Grand Canyon University, obtained a research fellowship and graduated with a M.Ed. His career in education spanned from tutor to teacher, to college lecturer. He later changed careers and went into management working for The Hertz Corporation. After almost twenty years living and working in the USA, he returned to England where his worked in the NHS for several years before giving up work to care for his wife, and focus on his writing and music.

A selection of books by Kevin Cooper

A recent review forThe Wizard, The Girl, and The Unicorn’s Horn: The Chronicles of Geo Book One

An ancient evil power is encroaching on the world of Geo, blanketing the land in shadow and stealing villagers. The story tracks the daring adventures of three groups, two off to destroy the shadow, and one simply trying to survive. They all ultimately come together for a final battle.

One narrative follows the wizard, the protector of Geo. He joins with some rambunctious goblins who lead him through the mountain’s tunnels to Land’s End, the barren home of the shadow and its packs of demon wargs (wolf-like creatures). At the same time, Elyysa, a young girl with a magical past, allies with Geo’s wise trolls who collect tolls at the many bridges. She too heads for Land’s End and carries with her a powerful unicorn horn. The third narrative focuses on the villagers who find themselves swept up by the shadow and stranded in a cave. They must make their way through dangerous passageways to the surface.

The story is simply told with a steady pace and vocabulary that a middle-grade student would be able to handle … but there is quite a bit of tragedy in the caves, including the deaths of children and families, and significant violence during the warg attacks. For these reasons, I’d steer this read to mature middle-graders, preteens, and young teenagers who enjoy a fantastical tale of adventure and can deal with the scary and sad moments. (My 7-year-old grandson couldn’t handle it, but grammy enjoyed it!)

Kevin Cooper, Buy: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US –   Follow Kevin: Goodreads – blog:Author Kevin CooperTwitter:@KevinCo34737852

Meet Mary Anne Edwards

Born in Mercedes, Texas, Mary Anne has lived in Georgia for most of her life. A life-long fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Mary Anne listened to the voices in her head and began writing her own series of traditional mysteries featuring Detective Charlie McClung.

The first book in the series, Brilliant Disguise, was released to critical acclaim in January 2014. The next three in the series, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of my Youth were released soon afterward. The fifth book in the series, Flirting with Time, was released on June 30, 2017. Mary Anne released the sixth book, How Deep is the Darkness, on December 2, 2019, with at least three more to follow.

Although Mary Anne is a middle-aged woman, she believes no matter how old you are you should have fun. Don’t let anyone steal your joy by telling you you’re too old. The main female protagonist in the Charlie McClung Mysteries is an interesting snapshot of the author’s sensibilities.

Mary Anne and her husband of 39 years live in Smyrna, GA with an ill-tempered Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. Mary Anne is active in the Sisters in Crime and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, a non-profit advocacy group for the developmentally challenged.

Books by Mary Anne Edwards

A  recent review for How Deep is the Darkness

Carolyn Hindel 5.0 out of 5 stars A thriller through and through!  Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2020

I always look forward to the next book in this series! And this one was no exception. The thrill and mystery was on until the end. If you love mysteries full of life, love, and excitement, this one’s for you! Two thumbs up 👍

Mary Anne Edwards, Buy:Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Mary Anne on: Goodreads – Website: Mary Anne Edwards Twitter: @maedwards58

Meet Apple Gidley

A transient life has seen Anglo-Australian Apple Gidley live in countries as diverse as Papua New Guinea and Thailand, Equatorial Guinea and the USA, and another eight in between. Her memoir, Expat Life Slice by Slice tells of the highs and lows of that nomadic life – one she wouldn’t trade for all the proverbial tea in one of the places she hasn’t lived, China.

Gidley’s roles have been varied – editor, intercultural trainer for multi-national corporations, Her Britannic Majesty’s Honorary Consul to Equatorial Guinea, amongst others. She started writing full time twelve years ago.

Gidley writes a regular blog, A Broad View, and has two published novels, Fireburn and Transfer, which are set on St Croix, and she has stories published in various anthologies and is working on a book of short stories. A novel, set in 1950’s Malaya is currently with agents and she is now working on another historical novel set in Poland and India.

Books by Apple Gidley

One of the recent reviews for Transfer

 Dianna 5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining  Reviewed in the United States on April 20, 2020

What an entertaining story, one of two books. Fireburn , the first and now Transfer, the second book allow you to visit what life was like in St Croix VI back in the day. You’ll be absorbed deeply into each characters personalities and experiences. Truly engaging and so hard to near the end of the book without craving more. Thank you Apple for your talent to combine St Croix history and landmarks with fictional characters. Truly sensational!!

Apple Gidley, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Apple: Goodreads –  Blog:Apple Gidley WordPress – Twitter: @ExpatApple

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you have enjoyed meeting more of the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and discovering their books. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews -#Shortstories Cathy Cade, #Science Fiction A.C. Flory, #Historical Apple Gidley


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

The first author today is Cathy Cade for her short story collection Witch Way and other Ambiguous Stories.

About the Collection

Characters who aren’t all they seem – or are they? You decide.

A tale inspired by the White Rabbit, one set in the shadow of Vesuvius, and one in a garden pond.

Meet Mirlings and Brownies, a misguided confidante, an unlikely Samaritan, a trainee mortician, and a witch  …or not.

A recent review for the collection.

Phil 5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant collection  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 May 2020

Cathy is an excellent writer. The well written short stories and poetry in this book are varied and eclectic, the product of a wonderfully fertile imagination.

My favourite but only just, is probably Witch Way, I loved it from the moment of my first reading and have reread it several times.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Also by Cathy Cade

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read reviews and follow Cathy: Goodreads

Connect to Cathy via her website: Cathy Cade

The next author is A.C. Flory with a review for Vokhtah – Book 1 of The Suns of Vokhtah

About the book

Vokhtah is not a gentle planet. Ravaged by twin suns, it tests all living things in the battle for survival, but none more so than the iVokh.

Intelligent, and clever with their hands, the iVokh [literally meaning ‘small Vokh’] live in eyries under the protection of their huge, winged cousins, the Vokh. However when the Vokh battle each other, the first casualties are always the small creatures who serve them.

The only place on the whole planet where iVokh can truly be safe is in the Settlement, an eyrie ruled by the Guild of Healers rather than a Vokh. Yet even there, change is coming, and not for the better. Thanks to the healers’ obsession with abominations, even the Settlement may soon become a battle ground.

As one of the few healers not terrified of abominations, the Blue is determined to save the Guild from itself. It leaves the safety of the Settlement with a caravan of Traders, intent on manipulating the Vokh into dealing with the abomination themselves. However life, and iVokh politics, are never simple.

Aided by just one reluctant ally, the Blue struggles to survive in a savage landscape where even the elements are vicious. If it dies without completing its mission, the Settlement could well die with it. Yet what can two, frail iVokh do in a world where the predators are all starving, and iVokh are very much on the menu?

Time is running out, for both the Blue and the Settlement.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Mar 11, 2020 Audrey Driscoll rated it Five Stars – it was amazing Recommends it for: Readers of serious science fiction.

This book is remarkable for the imagined world on which it’s set. Vokhtah has two suns. Its dominant life forms are the Vokh, creatures I visualized as similar to pterodactyls, and their smaller cousins and supporters, the iVokh. Most of the story is about the latter. These creatures are not human. Humans do not exist on this world, but human readers can relate to the thoughts, dilemmas, and emotions of the iVokh who are the primary actors.

The Vokh reign like feudal lords over their eyries, which are managed and maintained by the iVokh, who are divided into a variety of physical types with different abilities, including (in the case of a few) telepathy and mind control. Traders are a clan who distribute goods among the eyries, and Healers are a guild with skills and knowledge to maintain life, and end it when necessary. The interactions of the groups are governed by iron-bound protocols and traditions and complicated by secrets and enmities. Sex, especially for the Vokh, is a brutal, violent business, but outside of mating occurrences, there is no gender. The only personal pronoun is “it.”

This is not a quick, easy read. I re-read the first half of the book before writing this review to make sure I understood some of the details. The characters, even the sympathetic ones, don’t actually have names. They are designated by ranks and titles, some of which change over the course of the story. The reader is plunged into this alien world on the first page and has to figure out how things work while following the action. Some might give up in confusion, but the dilemma of the Drudge who is the first character encountered is eminently relatable. By the time that’s resolved, I was thoroughly engaged in the world and the story, keen to find out more about the strangely fascinating creatures with two hearts and inflatable wings.

The book features a constructed language (conlang), but it does not appear frequently enough to be daunting. There is a helpful glossary at the end, which also explains how the creatures vocalize. Otherwise, the prose is clear and straightforward, with description kept direct and businesslike. There is no hyperbole. Dialogue is minimal, even though the iVokh have a characteristic (and curiously attractive) way of expressing themselves.
Setting aside the alien aspects, the theme of this book is change and difference. Individual characters, and the groups to which they belong, must come up with ways to cope with situations they find unacceptable or challenging. Both the physical environment and the social structure are harsh and unforgiving. Transgressions come with a high price.

It appears this is the first book in a series, and indeed much remains unresolved at the end. I hope a second volume is forthcoming

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by A.C. Flory

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow A.C. Flory: Goodreads

Connect to A.C. Flory (Meeks) via her blog: A.C. Flory WordPress

The final author today is Apple Gidley for the historical novel Transfer

About the book

Transfer traces the lives of those on Anna’s Fancy, the Clausen estate on Saint Croix in the Danish West Indies, handed down through three generations. An historical novel and the sequel to Fireburn (OC Publishing 2017), Transfer sees Niels Clausen, the illegitimate child of a Danish landowner and his black mistress who both died as a result of the 1878 worker revolt, leave his adoptive mother’s sugar plantation and sail to England to continue his education.

With the help of Toby, a British aristocrat, Ivy, a lady’s maid turned lady and her botanist husband, Timothy, Niels challenges the perceptions on the streets of London of a black man at the turn of the 20th century. His development as a writer and political protagonist continues as he travels to Denmark and France where he meets up with childhood friends, Javier and Fabiana Gomez, before returning to Saint Croix.

The Danish West Indies face an uncertain future as the declining sugar industry lessens Denmark’s interest in their colonial outpost. Niels becomes increasingly involved in the future of the islands as war looms and concerns grow that Germany might covet a presence in the Caribbean. Will the islands’ security be guaranteed by the transfer of power to America?

The highs and lows of Niels’ life are punctuated by the crossing of oceans and cultures as well as the political manoeuvrings of a turbulent time in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Dianna 5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining  Reviewed in the United States on April 20, 2020

What an entertaining story, one of two books. Fireburn , the first and now Transfer, the second book allow you to visit what life was like in St Croix VI back in the day. You’ll be absorbed deeply into each characters personalities and experiences. Truly engaging and so hard to near the end of the book without craving more. Thank you Apple for your talent to combine St Croix history and landmarks with fictional characters. Truly sensational!!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Apple Gidley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Apple: Goodreads

Connect to Apple via her blog: Apple Gidley WordPress

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