Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Meet the #reviewers – Wednesday 10th October 2018 – Sue Vincent, Judith Barrow and Lizanne Lloyd


On Monday I was the guest of Sue Vincent  on the subject of old age and the preferred state of Second Childhood.  What I did not know at the time was that I had missed a post of Sue’s on the same topic when I was unplugged in September… Just to confirm that great minds think alike (in contradiction to “Fools never Differ”) I hope you will head over and enjoy Sue’s take on this issue… take your toys and video games with you.

Frolicking Nick Verron

Frolicking ~ Nick Verron

With the unconscious wisdom of youth, my son decided that he would give me a games console. It is not, perhaps, the obvious gift for a woman about to enter her seventh decade, but then, he assures me that as I am a ‘tweenager’, it is entirely appropriate.

When the boys were young we always made sure they were up to date with the growing technological revolution. From the blocky arcade games of the ancient Atari to our first home computer, they soon became confident with consoles and keyboards and we played as a family, working out the puzzles, learning how to share, to be patient and to persevere in the days when games took ages to load and progress could not be saved.

Spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, foresight, reaction times and logic were all well-served, Games that now look primitive were often complex and demanding and to complete them was a real triumph. We have fond memories of those times. The software available for the Commodore 64 and the old Sinclair Spectrum even allowed you, with a little vary basic knowledge, to build your own games. Such violence as there was tended to be of the ‘Tom and Jerry’ variety, with little or no relation to reality and gameplay was often as much of an intellectual challenge as a test of manual dexterity. We hoped that introducing the boys to technology early would stand them in good stead in later years and that has indeed proved to be the case.

I am decades behind the times where technology is concerned these days. Modern consoles do more than play games, it seems, allowing you to access your PC, play music and films and do much of what I now do at the computer from the comfort of the sofa, which can only be a good thing… as long as the dog lets me share. All the skills that early gaming honed for the boys are ones that need to be maintained in later years… and oddly enough, I kept the best of the old games. So, in an unexpected role reversal, my son is giving his tweenage mother a games console for her birthday.

Please head over and read the rest of Sue’s insightful post: https://thesilenteye.co.uk/2018/09/09/second-childhood/

Sue Vincent and Stuart France, Buy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W
Blog: http://scvincent.com/

Please visit Amazon or Sue’s blog to view all her books and those written with Stuart France.

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The next blog post is from Judith Barrow who shares a story from one of her creative writing students, which will resonate with any of us who remember black and white televisions and snow on the screen… Meet Trish who is a very talented writer.

The Rat in the Python #MondayBlogs #Fifties #Memoirs #Humour

Many of you will have enjoyed Trish’s writing here before. She is one of my many talented students that I’m privileged to tutor each week. Hope you equally relish this dip into the past. For some of you it’s a small history lesson, for others, a memory. I am not saying which group I belong to!!

The following words belong to Trish…

If you haven’t heard of a liberty bodice, believe that half-a-crown is something to do with impoverished royalty and never had the experience of slapping a television to stop the grainy black and white picture from rolling, then this book is probably not for you.

It is intended for us Baby Boomers who, in the stability following the Second World War, formed a statistical bulge in the population python. It is a personal snapshot of a time that is as mystifying to my children as the Jurassic Era -and just as unrecognisable.

My intention is to nudge some long-forgotten memories to the surface, test your own recollections and provide statistics to put it all in context.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

The Rat in the Python

Chapter One The House

It would be fair to say that most houses in this country pre-date our generation and so this topic should present few surprises.

However the external appearance is deceptive. We’ve all seen old postcards of towns and can instantly recognise many of the buildings. But what of the insides?

They were different.

In my day none of my friends had fitted carpets and central heating was unheard of. We did have carpets, and the ones I remember were hideously patterned, but they were square or rectangular, circular or oval and housewives in a hurry could lift a corner and sweep the dust and dirt under them.

Heating

We had a coal fire downstairs and my mother would plait and weave strips of newspaper, lay them like a nest in the grate and build a carefully-constructed pyramid of coal in the centre in and around more of these strips. Then she’d light the paper. If it looked as though it was going to sulk and go out she’d produce a sheet of galvanised zinc like a flat shield that she’d hold over the front of the open fire to ‘draw’ it up and once it was going properly we’d feed it with great hunks of coal the size of bread loaves that you could later split open with the poker.

My father would hold the paper he was reading in front of a flagging fire to quickly perk it up. This wasn’t always successful. A dark patch would appear in the middle of the newsprint before the hastily dropped paper burst into flames. Occasionally we’d use a toasting fork to dangle bits of bread in front of the fire but conditions had to be just right. Too soon after the addition of fresh coal and you had a brittle piece of bread with smoked edges; wait until it was too hot and the bread itself would flame and char. There was also a knack to balancing the bread on the fork so that as large a flat surface as possible presented itself to the heat. I lacked this knack. The bread would tear around the prongs and slide down towards the handle or I’d have it so delicately balanced that it would fall off into the gritty ashes or the blaze itself

Paraffin heaters were also popular; ugly great brutes that reeked and smoked but put out an impressive bit of heat. When I first heard ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ I thought of these heaters and even now I can see the blue ring of flames that had to be set at just the right height to balance heat against pollution. And if you’ve lived in a house with a paraffin heater you won’t need me to remind you of that all-pervasive, oily smell. 

Carry on reading this very entertaining post and enjoy the nostalgia of remembering some of the things you don’t miss and those days: https://judithbarrowblog.com/2018/10/08/the-rat-in-the-python-mondayblogs-fifties-memoirs-humour/

Judith Barrow – Buy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Blog: judithbarrowblog.com/Goodreads: Judith on Goodreads

Now time for a book review from Lizanne Lloyd –  Gift Horse by Jan Ruth

A time-slip novel about the choices women make, the healing power of horses, and the devastating consequences of human error.

Imagine living eighteen years of your life around a mistake…

Caroline Walker’s daughter suffers a horrific riding accident. Her distraught parents wonder if she’ll ever walk again, let alone ride. And when Mollie’s blood group is discovered as rare, her husband offers to donate blood. Except Ian is not a match. In fact, it’s unlikely he’s Mollie’s father.

Eighteen years previously, Caroline had a one-night stand with Irish rock star, Rory O’Connor. Caroline fell pregnant. Deeply flawed boyfriend, Ian, was overjoyed. And Caroline’s parents were simply grateful that their daughter was to marry into the rich, influential Walker family. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Caroline turns to Rory’s friend Connor; and although his almost spiritual connection with his horses appears to be the balm she needs, Caroline cannot forget Rory, or her youth – both lost to a man she never loved. Eighteen years on and after surviving cancer Rory lives as a virtual recluse in the Welsh mountains. Through his well-meaning but interfering sister, he is shocked to discover he has a teenage daughter. Or does he? As the truth begins to unravel, Caroline finds herself faced with a complex trail of moral dilemma.

Someone has made a terrible mistake… someone is going to get hurt…

My Review

Caroline has it all, a rich successful husband, a large beautiful home and a daughter they both love. But Mollie’s terrible accident while competing on her horse, Sahara Sun, exposes cracks in their apparently happy life and Caroline’s past catches up with her. Can she take Mollie from Ian, the father she loves so much, and will Mollie ever forgive her secrecy?

Read the rest of Lizanne’s review for the book: https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/2018/09/29/gift-horse-by-jan-ruth-newrelease-bookreview/

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Judith Barrow, Sue Coletta and Audrey Driscoll.


Welcome to the Friday author update with more talented authors from the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for their books.

The first update today is for A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow, which I can also personally recommend.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Story-telling at its very best  TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 September 2018

It’s wholly irrational on my part, but I frequently shy away from books that I believe to be part of a “saga” – with some ridiculous expectation that they will be lesser in some way than the contemporary issues-based fiction that tends to make up much of my reading list. I hate to think what I might have been missing out on – this book was just stunning. If you’re looking for issues, you’ll certainly find them here, set against a social and political background vividly and compellingly described. The research that went into this book must have been immense, transformed into its vivid settings and the authentic portrayal of life of the time.

It’s a sweeping story that takes in life in the slums (and among those who perceive themselves rather more genteel), the rise of the Suffragette movement and the extraordinarily violent reaction to it, moves to the front during World War 1, travels to Ireland with the Black and Tans, and takes in the very different lives of those in the countryside. There are harrowing images in this book that seared themselves into my memory – and others that moved me deeply. But while its scale and reach took my breath away, at its heart it’s a story of two individuals, Winifred and Bill – the twists and turns of their own small lives, the events that changed the world and the lives of everyone they touched seen through their eyes and from their unique perspectives.

The characterisation is wonderful. Winifred is something of a heroine for her time, endeavouring to escape the control of her mother, both warm-hearted and immensely likeable. Bill is rather more of an enigma – his early attraction to and obsession with the lovely shop girl turning into something altogether darker and considerably more menacing. There’s an immense skill in retaining a reader’s compassion for a character when sometimes repelled by their actions – but the author certainly achieves it, making the relationship element of the story totally compelling. The book’s structure, with their alternating stories, drives the narrative at considerable pace, but also serves to bring the key characters vividly to life. Every supporting character is drawn in perfect detail – the excitement of the forbidden and different through Honora and Conal, the family relationships that are so complex and challenging. Every exchange, every moment of dialogue, is absolutely real, moving the story on and illuminating the characters, who have absolute historical authenticity.

When I emerged at the end of this book – during the reading, my immersion was total – it was with a sense of having experienced it all first hand, and of having deeply felt every moment. This was story-telling at its very best… and a book that will long linger in my memory.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

The next author with glowing reviews is Sue Coletta for her latest release, Scathed, Grafton County Series #3.

About Scathed

On a picturesque fall morning in Grafton County, New Hampshire, a brutal murder rocks the small town of Alexandria. In the backyard of a weekend getaway cabin, a dead woman is posed in red-satin, with two full-bloomed roses in place of eyes.

In her hand, a mysterious envelope addressed to Sheriff Niko Quintano. Inside, Paradox vows to kill again if his riddle isn’t solved within 24 hours.

With so little time and not enough manpower, Niko asks his wife for help. But Crime Writer Sage Quintano is dealing with her own private nightmare. Not only did she find massive amounts of blood on the mountain where she and her family reside, but a phone call from the past threatens her future—the creepy mechanical voice of John Doe, the serial killer who murdered her twin sister.

Together, can Niko and Sage solve the riddle in time to save the next victim? Or will the killer win this deadly game of survival?

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Paul Dale Anderson 5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced thrill ride  August 25, 2018

Each of Sue’s novels is better than the last. With their dogs Colt and Ruger, Sheriff Niko Quintano and Sage, his best-selling authoress wife with infant son Noah in tow, are the Nick and Nora Charles of rural New Hampshire. Wherever they are, there’s always a mystery to solve and a murderer to apprehend. And. of course, the plot is always thickened by the unorthodox Frankie Campanelli, Niko’s chief deputy.

These are the essential elements we’ve come to expect in a Grafton County series novel, and Scathed doesn’t disappoint. A brutal serial killer who calls himself “Paradox” challenges Niko to solve a riddle or he’ll kill another person. Niko has to enlist Sage’s aid to try to solve the riddle in time, but Paradox has no intention of stopping no matter what. There are mysteries within mysteries, and the tension builds. A quick read from a writer I admire.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Scathed-Grafton-County-Sue-Coletta-ebook/dp/B07FH7Y8RD/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scathed-Grafton-County-Sue-Coletta-ebook/dp/B07FH7Y8RD/

A selection of books by Sue Coletta

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

Read more reviews and follow Sue on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14078869.Sue_Coletta

Connect to Sue via her website/blog: www.suecoletta.com

Now a recent review for supernatural/paranormal author Audrey Driscoll, for Book 3 of the Herbert West series – Islands of the Gulf Volume 2 – The Treasure

About the book

Abandoned and abused, young Herbert West resorts to drastic measures to survive. At Miskatonic University, he becomes a scientist who commits crimes and creates monstrosities. Decades later, haunted by his past, he finds safety as Dr. Francis Dexter of Bellefleur Island, but his divided nature threatens those he loves and forces him to face the truth about his healing powers.

More Details: Seeking relief from grief and illness in the refuge of Bellefleur Island, Francis Dexter relives in memory his early years when his name was Herbert West. To survive his mother’s disappearance, the capricious attentions of his father and the brutalities of his brothers, young Herbert makes himself into a juvenile strategist and warrior of vengeance.

Turning to science as a solace for emotional turmoil, Herbert studies medicine at Miskatonic University in Arkham. As both student and physician, he pursues forbidden experiments with single-minded determination, seeking to discover the secrets of life and death. The Great War presents West with a great opportunity, but in that maelstrom of violence he crosses the frontier of rationalism into the territory of the bizarre.

Recoiling from these poisoned memories, Francis Dexter turns to his years on Bellefleur Island and relives his tumultuous relationship with the artist Julian Vernon. For the first time since his troubled childhood, he allows himself to become emotionally attached to another human being, but the idyll is eroded by depression, drugs and jealousy and Dexter’s choices result in tragedy.

Saved and supported by Margaret Bellgarde, Dexter allows himself to be drawn into her family to recover from illness and sorrow. Until a day in July when his past confronts him and forces him to face the truth about his role as physician and healer.

One of the recent reviews for The Treasure

ACFlory 5.0 out of 5 stars Deeper and deeper August 19, 2018

Book 3 begins as a series of flashbacks to Herbert West’s childhood as he recovers from the illness that almost finished him off in book 2. I love character driven stories and I found book 3 incredibly satisfying. It’s not often that all the parts of an over-arching story are equally good. These are. Very good.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J1ROTVY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Islands-Gulf-Treasure-Herbert-West-ebook/dp/B00J1ROTVY

A selection of books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Audrey-Driscoll/e/B00J7X7QVC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Audrey-Driscoll/e/B00J7X7QVC

Read more reviews and follow Audrey on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4202146.Audrey_Driscoll

Connect to Audrey via her website: www.audreydriscoll.com

Thank you very much for visiting today and I hope you have found a book to read from one of these talented authors… thanks Sally

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


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

The details are here in this first post with an example.. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/smorgasbord-new-series-starting-this-saturday-meet-the-book-reviewers/

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

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

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

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

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

Head over and read the rest of the review: https://thisismytruthnow.com/2018/06/08/book-review-mackenzies-distraction-by-angie-dokos/

The ReviewerJames J. Cudney

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Books by James J. Cudney – Click cover for Amazon

Angie Dokos is in the Cafe and Bookstore

Angie Dokos, Buy: www.amazon.com/dp/B01BL4H20E
Blog: https://angiedokos.wordpress.com/

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

28139814Here is an extract from the post.

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the rest of Judith’s review here: https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2018/06/09/rosies-bookreview-team-rbrt-ww2-mystery-the-black-orchestra-by-jj-toner/

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

Judith is also an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Judith Barrow – Buy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

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

Here is an extract from Marjorie’s post.

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

My Review

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

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

Read the rest of the review: https://mjmallon.com/2018/06/09/abrsc-review-the-congress-of-rough-writers-flash-fiction-anthology-vol-1-congress-of-the-rough-writers-flash-fiction-anthology/

Marjorie Mallon is in the Cafe and Bookstore.

M.J.Mallon, Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/
Website: https://mjmallon.com/

Thanks for popping in today and if you have recently reviewed a book and would like to be featured here, then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com 

You can find details of the Cafe and Bookstore and the free promotions: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-free-author-promotion/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Book Reviewers – Barb Taub for Judith Barrow, M.J. Mallon for Annette Rochelle Aben, Linda Hill for Katherine Clements and Liz LLoyd #RBRT for Rachel Walkley


Welcome to this week’s Meet the Reviewers…

This series is aimed at promoting and celebrating those that review books regularly. Especially those who do so via their blogs, as it would be great to create more traffic to their sites. I am happy to also showcase those that are put directly on Amazon. The details are here in this first post with an example.. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/smorgasbord-new-series-starting-this-saturday-meet-the-book-reviewers/

And here is last week’s post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-meet-the-reviewers-judith-barrow-for-thorne-moore-balroop-singh-for-deborah-a-bowman-robbie-cheadle-for-john-w-howell-and-cathy-ryan-for-abigail-osborne/

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

The first reviewer today is Barb Taub with her views on the wonderful Howarth Family Saga by Judith Barrow. A series that I have read and enjoyed very much. Here is the start of Barb’s post and I hope you will head over and read the entire review for the whole series.

We’ve all read epic family sagas—sweeping multi-generational tales like The Thorn Birds, The Godfather, Roots, the Star Wars franchise, and anything remotely connected to the British Monarchy. So as I read Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, I kept trying to slot them into those multigenerational tropes:

  • First generation, we were supposed to see the young protagonist starting a new life with a clean slate, perhaps in a new country.
  • The next generation(s) are all about owning their position, fully assimilated and at home in their world.
  • And the last generation is both rebel and synthesis, with more similarities to the first generation made possible by the confidence of belonging from the second one.

But the complex, three-dimensional miniatures I met in the first three books of the trilogy stubbornly refused to align with those tropes. First of all, there’s Mary Howarth—the child of parents born while Queen Victoria was still on the throne—who is poised between her parents’ Victorian constraints, adjustment to a world fighting a war, and their own human failures including abuse, alcoholism, and ignorance.When Pattern of Shadows begins in 1944, war-fueled anti-German sentiment is so strong, even the King has changed the British monarchy’s last name from Germanic Saxe-Coburg to Windsor. Mary’s beloved brother Tom is imprisoned because of his conscientious objector status, leaving their father to express his humiliation in physical and emotional abuse of his wife and daughters. Her brother Patrick rages at being forced to work in the mines instead of joining the army, while Mary herself works as a nurse treating German prisoners of war in an old mill now converted to a military prison hospital.

Mary’s family and friends are all struggling to survive the bombs, the deaths, the earthshaking changes to virtually every aspect of their world. We’ve all seen the stories about the war—plucky British going about their lives in cheerful defiance of the bombs, going to theaters, sipping tea perched on the wreckage, chins up and upper lips stiff in what Churchill called “their finest hour”. That wasn’t Mary’s war.

Read the rest of the post and review at Barb’s blog: https://barbtaub.com/2018/05/22/hundreds-of-tiny-threads-bookreview-of-the-howarth-family-trilogy-by-judithbarrow77-family-histfic-tuesdaybookblog/

Judith Barrow is in the Cafe Bookstore.

Judith Barrow – Buy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

Barb Taub is also in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Barb Taub, Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Barb-Taub/e/B00EZP9BS8/
Website: https://barbtaub.com

Next we have Marjorie Mallon reviewing the latest poetry collection by Annette Rochelle Aben, A Haiku Perspective 2018.

An extract from Marjorie’s

This is an enchanting book of poetry. So many wonderful haiku! I love short form poetry and Annette Rochelle Aben’s book covers a multitude of poetic topics in a warm and inviting way.

The first poem Strings is a poignant haiku love story. I read this particular poem several times and seemed to take more from it on each reading. I read it down and then from the bottom up! The family dynamic in this poem changes when a new baby is welcomed and Annette Rochelle Aben captures this to perfection in this thought-provoking poem. The message within will no doubt resonate with many. Love can be the most exquisite emotion. But, there are many loves. Can the love of a child be so consuming that your partner, wife, or husband feels neglected? I loved how this was expressed in a musical way.

Read the rest of Marjorie’s review: https://mjmallon.com/2018/05/24/book-review-a-haiku-perspective-2018-annette-rochelle-aben/

Marjorie Mallon is an author in the cafe and bookstore

M.J.Mallon, Buy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/
Website: https://mjmallon.com/

As is Annette Rochelle Aben

Annette Rochelle Aben, Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY
Blog: www.annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com

Please visit Amazon or Annette’s blog to view all her books.

annettebooku_cover_for_kindle6124zpvlnhl-_uy250_

 

The next reviewer is Linda Hill... proprietor of Linda’s Book Bag, and congratulations are in order for winning Best Overall Blog at this year’s Blogger’s Bash in London.

In this post Linda reviews The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements. You can read all of the review by clicking the link at the bottom of the extract… and to buy the book click the cover.

The Coffin PathMaybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.

Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.

When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.
My Review of The Coffin Path

Living at Scarcross has never been easy for Mercy, but it is about to get considerably harder.

Now, I must confess that I don’t usually read books marketed in the ghost or horror genre as I find them too unsettling, but The Coffin Path was a perfect read for me with just the right amount of creepiness and supernatural to disturb and entertain me. Hardcore horror readers might find it wasn’t horrific enough, but I loved it.

The quality of writing is outstanding. There’s a sophistication to Katherine Clements’s prose style that draws in the reader and that is completely convincing so that I felt I was really able to understand the 1600s when the book is set, and to comprehend its superstitions and practices making for a realistic and powerful reading experience. There’s such realism alongside the more supernatural elements so that this narrative is finely balanced and nuanced.

Read the rest of Linda Hill’s review of the book: https://lindasbookbag.com/2018/05/23/the-coffin-path-by-katherine-clements/

The next reviewer is Elizabeth (Liz) Lloyd, who as well as reviewing books on her own blog Lizanne Lloyd, is a member of the Rosie Amber Book Review Team #RBRT.  This review was featured on Rosie Amber’s site earlier in the week. It is for The Women of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

38910952When book illustrator, Miriam Chambers, inherits Great Aunt Felicity’s Victorian mansion in the Norfolk countryside, she discovers it is a poisoned chalice. Either she must live in the run-down cold building for a year and a day or it will be auctioned for charity. Since she is able to work at home she decides to accept the challenge and she employs some local tradesmen to improve the facilities a little. But it is a lonely house set in overgrown woodland and Miriam is grateful when a strange-looking young man comes to the door offering to chop wood and do odd jobs. As the creaks and bangs around the house alarm her, she is pleased when Charles, the reticent young man, provides company.

Increasingly Miriam tries to find the reason for the conditions imposed in her Great Aunt’s will. Was there foul play when she had her accident and what happened years before when part of the house burnt down? This beautifully written mystery weaves a spell around the house and the people connected to it. It is easy to empathise with Miriam but there is a surprising conclusion which you are unlikely to predict. Reminding me of the books of Kate Morton, this is a story for lovers of ghost stories, history and romance. The introductory quote.

“One lives in hope of becoming a memory”

Is an apt description of this haunting story, about the nature of love.

Head over and read the rest of the review: https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/rosies-bookreview-team-rbrt-womensfiction-the-women-of-heachley-hall-by-racheljwalkley-3/

If you review books then if you would like to become one of Rosie’s respected Book Review Team, here are the details: https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/join-rosies-book-review-team/

Thank you for popping in today and if you have written a book review on your blog or for Amazon in the last month then please let me know. Thanks Sally

 

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist #Music to get the Weekend Started – Requests from Annette Rochelle Aben, N.A. Granger, Jan Sikes, Judith Barrow and Darlene Foster


Since the beginning of this series, I have asked you to share your favourite music with links in the comments. I thought I would create a special playlist, sharing the track and link to the latest post of those requesting the song.

Annette Rochelle Aben has a music background and I would love to do a road trip with her… I am sure we would have a few laughs and plenty of sing-alongs. Her request was for Michael Franti and Spearhead. Michael Franti and Spearhead Amazon

The next request is from author N.A. (Noelle) Granger who has just posted details of her new historical novel…a departure from her murder mysteries. She has requested Private Dancer by Tina Turner – Buy the music here: Tina Turner Amazon

Next it is Jan Sikes, who too has a music background.. this song was new to me.. “So This is Life” by Courtney Patton and you can buy her music here. Courtney Patton Amazon

The next request comes from author Judith Barrow and is for Willie Nelson and The Traveling Wilburys. End of the Line from the album Roy Orbison Collected

 

The last track today is from children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster with a wedding song that brings a tear to her eye.. Anne Murray  – Can I have this Dance for the Rest of My Life  — one of my music idols.. and you can buy her music here: Anne Murray Amazon

 

My thanks to all those who requested their favourite tracks.. one more post next week and then back to the normal Friday posts. Thanks Sally.. keep singing and dancing...

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Jacquie Biggar, Natalie Ducey, Dan Alatorre, Carol Balawyder and Judith Barrow


Welcome to the first of the author updates this week is Jacquie Biggar who released her latest book in time for Valentine’s Day this year.. But being Jacquie.. you can be sure it is time for romance any time of the year. Valentine: A Hearts & Kisses Romance.

About the book.

Take two humans who pretend they can’t stand each other and one matchmaking canine and the fun is nonstop!

Val Hodgins is on the road to success. His architect firm handles some of the biggest contracts along the western seaboard. He doesn’t have time to babysit his aunt’s aging house or her pain in the butt dog, but when she falls ill with pneumonia he drops everything to go to her aid.

Sierra Johnson’s dreams of owning a catering company go up in smoke thanks to a bad choice in boyfriends. Now, she’s stuck working for a tyrannical boss, care-taking an aging townhouse, and being tormented by the owner’s aggravating, caustic, way-too-attractive nephew.

Will these two get over their prejudices in time to realize love comes without a price tag?

One of the recent reviews for the book

If you are looking for an endearing light-hearted romance look no further and try “Valentine: A Hearts & Kisses” romance by Jacquie Biggar. Valentine Hodgins, our hero, is reluctantly taking care of the dog and home of his great aunt who has fallen ill with pneumonia. Val is busy with his successful architecture firm and really doesn’t have time for the dog, the home or checking up on the caretaker who is living in his great aunt’s home. Sierra Johnson is the caretaker and working as a baker at a catering company while trying to get her life back in order. Sierra had great plans to open her own catering business, but now that seems to be a long way off. These two both have past histories that will get in the way of romance – will they work things out? Great characters and witty dialog make this a fun and lovely read. I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to give an honest review. (by paytonpuppy)

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Valentine-Hearts-Romance-Jacquie-Biggar-ebook/dp/B078QFJH4H

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valentine-Hearts-Romance-Jacquie-Biggar-ebook/dp/B078QFJH4H

A selection of of other books by Jacquie Biggar

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

And at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG/

Read more reviews and follow Jacquie Biggar on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445812.Jacquie_Biggar

Connect to Jacquie via her website: http://jacqbiggar.com

The next poet with a recent review is  Natalie Ducey for her latest collection of poetry The Heart’s Lullaby

About The Heart’s Lullaby

The Heart’s Lullaby is a candid portrayal of love in all its splendor and pain. Love, in its purest form, is tranquil and soothes the soul. But love, as is life, can sometimes be cruel and unjust with its paths of uncertainty and forced goodbyes. In essence, it is a journey of self-discovery. A continuous journey of becoming. Often, it becomes a delicate dance of holding on and letting go.

We linger in memories of ill-fated love; our minds can easily soil them, and our hearts can effortlessly polish them to perfection, altering their resemblance entirely. We can anchor ourselves to yesterday by zealous choice or solemn grief. So easily, we can become obsessed with what “might have been” and miss the beauty that lies before us. Our minds craft spectacular moments that will never be realized. Why? Is it self-indulgence, or are they necessary companions for our soul’s survival?

Love, its force so formidable, transcends time, distance, and even death. Eternal love is the epitome of its grandeur.

To feel the exquisite, majestic splendor of love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. To have another see the unique beauty in our imperfections, that will protect us and elevate us without greed or envy, a soul willing and proud to walk this journey of life with us and share in its joys and sorrows … this is love, a gift unmeasurable and unmatched by earthly possessions.

But two souls must be willing. Therein lies the intricate complexities of the heart. And in the end, we must never forget … love, as is life, is a continuous journey of becoming.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Reviewed by Robin Goodfellow for Readers’ Favorite The Heart’s Lu …
14 days ago –

The Heart’s Lullaby by Natalie Ducey is a beautiful book of poetry that describes the fragility as well as the strength of the human heart. The book is separated into four parts. Embers of Love focuses on the bittersweet aspect of heartbreak, the pain of saying goodbye to someone you care about. Eternal Love illustrates the beauty of love lasting forever, even after death. The Agony of Holding On & The Angst of Letting Go is about falling out of love, and that despite everything you do to hold onto that person, sometimes it’s better to let go. Finally, The Journey of Becoming is about being comfortable with yourself, and knowing that both the heart and the mind need to work together to bring peace and comfort. Whether it be through pain, loss, or peace, Ducey shows us that love can comfort us in our time of need, and show us how human we really are.

The world is a funny place. Sometimes, we do so much to protect ourselves to the point where we simply forget what it means to laugh or cry, or to even love our own selves again. This collection does, in fact, remind me of a lullaby you would sing to a small child at night, or even to a grown-up in need for comforting. For example, one of my most favorite poems in this collection comes from Eternal Love, where the narrator promises to love their beloved for all time in the memories of their past, even if they’re gone. It’s wonderful, because oftentimes we worry about if we’re missed, if we’re better off gone. It’s a question that’s haunted many people, but this poem answers it easily. In my mind, it shouldn’t be an easy question, but nevertheless, I’m shocked at how easy it is. It’s nostalgically iridescent, to say the least.

Ducey provides a soothing, comforting atmosphere interlaced within her poetry. From the pain of losing a loved one, to the relief of finally finding yourself in the end, this book encourages those suffering from heartbreak, and mesmerizes others just by its messages of hope alone. As such, I would recommend it to fans of Feathers, Shades, Shadows and a Few Raindrops by Mandar Naik, and Catching a Dream by J.R. McRae.

Read the other reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Lullaby-candid-portrayal-splendor-ebook/dp/B072TMDGRB

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hearts-Lullaby-candid-portrayal-splendor-ebook/dp/B072TMDGRB

Also by Natalie Ducey

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Ducey/e/B014XNEG8G

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Natalie-Ducey/e/B014XNEG8

Read all the reviews and follow Natalie on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13534715.Natalie_Ducey

Connect to Natalie via her blog: https://natalieducey.com/

The next author is International best selling author Dan Alatorre and An Angel on her Shoulder.

About An Angel on her Shoulder

A series of unexplainable tragedies surround a family and their young daughter as they seek to determine whether they are possessed, paranoid or collectively going insane. Meanwhile, forgotten clues from the father’s past may indicate forces are at work in ways more ominous than any of them could have imagined.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I really enjoyed the audio book version of this story and thought the narrator had a very good voice and reading style.

The style of this book reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s book It where he goes back in time to the children’s childhoods for pieces of the story which help to explain how the events in the book all fit together in the end.

Alatorre’s main character, Doug, is an ordinary man with a good job and a lovely family. He adores his wife and small daughter and enjoys spending time with them and going on family holidays.

The story starts with an unexpected and nearly tragic incident in the parking lot at a wine farm which appears initially to be frightening, but not completely out of the ordinary; accidents and tragedies do happen in life. When Doug starts to realise that this latest incident is another in a seeming series of similar events, he starts to wonder what is happening to his family. Is this normal or is there more to these near tragedies than meets the eye?

Doug sets out to investigate the matter and learn more about why these incidents are occurring. His investigation leads him to a priest at his local Catholic Church and other interesting characters who delve into the world of spirituality and the occult. Something out there doesn’t like his attempted intervention though and is determined to step up its efforts to achieve its goals.

Very creepy and yet written with a sense of possibility that makes it all the more eerie, Dan Alatorre conveys his story in a way that really plays on the readers emotions and imagination. I rated this book five out of five stars.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Her-Shoulder-Dan-Alatorre-ebook/dp/B073GLVT71

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Her-Shoulder-Dan-Alatorre-ebook/dp/B073GLVT71

A small selection of other books by Dan Alatorre

Discover all of Dan’s books, read the reviews and buy: http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU

Read more reviews and follow Dan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7847408.Dan_Alatorre

Connect to Dan via his website: www.DanAlatorre.com

The next author is Carol Balawyder and a recent review for The Longest Nine Months published in October 2017.

About The Longest Nine Months.

In Getting to Mr. Right, Campbell debunked the Prince Charming myth, only to meet a special man who turned all her assumptions upside down.

Now she’s married to Chand..

But Happily-Ever-After turns out to be another illusion.

Campbell deals with job burnout and struggles to find her place in the world. An unexpected pregnancy and its complications undermine her relationship with Chand and take her to a difficult crossroad. No matter which way she decides to go, nothing will ever be the same!

One of the recent reviews for the book

on March 7, 2018

Pregnancy can seem interminable for many woman. In this instance, there’s an added reason that Campbell’s pregnancy seems long, convoluted, and stressful. Author Balawyder uses excellent description and dialogue to allow her readers to feel great empathy and fear and joy along with Campbell. The themes of love, marriage, getting through a relationship through good and bad, abortion, and disabilities intertwine throughout this well-written contemporary women’s fiction. I wasn’t sure if the ending would be sad or happy, but I did know that whether the relationship grew or dissolved, the main character’s strength would shine through her challenges.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0765RYGLK

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Longest-Nine-Months-Getting-Right-ebook/dp/B0765RYGLK

Also by Carol Balawyder

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Carol-Balawyder/e/B00QYYX008

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carol-Balawyder/e/B00QYYX008

Read more reviews and follow Carol on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7704883.Carol_Balawyder

Connect to Carol via her website: http://www.carolbalawyder.com

The final update today if for A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow, which I can also personally recommend.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book

As a big fan of the Howarth family series, I was delighted to read ‘A Hundred Tiny Threads’. It’s the fourth book and a prequel set the early 1900s. As always, Barrow paints a big picture and juxtaposes it with clever detail to create a work of intimacy. This book involves suffragettes, the 1919 influenza epidemic and the horror of WW1. Throughout though, the dark family secrets of the Howarth clan are liberally sprinkled and keep the page turning tempo to the max. This is no pretty sanitised version of the times. Expect violence and cruelty and a realistic depiction of the harshness of the era. But there’s love too, and unexpected kindness from the always engaging characters. A great and satisfying read.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

Thank you very much for dropping by today and I hope you find the selection of books interesting. Thanks Sally

If you would like to know more about the Cafe and Bookstore and how you can enjoy FREE promotion throughout the year: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Judith Barrow, Bette A. Stevens, Vashti Quiroz-Vega, Dan Alatorre and Eloise de Sousa


Welcome to the first of the updates this week for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore. If you are a first time author then here is a post which shows you how you can get FREE promotion for your new book and join the other authors on the shelves of the bookstore.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/smorgasbord-free-book-promotions-first-time-authors/

The first author is Judith Barrow for a recent review for the first book in the Howarth family saga, Pattern of Shadows.

About the book

Mary is a nursing sister at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling; life at home a constant round of arguments—often prompted by her fly-by-night sister, Ellen, the apple of her short-tempered father’s eye. Then Frank turns up at the house one night—a guard at the camp, he’s been watching Mary for weeks—and won’t leave until she agrees to walk out with him.

Frank Shuttleworth is a difficult man to love and it’s not long before Mary gives him his marching orders. But Shuttleworth won’t take no for an answer and the gossips are eager for their next victim, and for the slightest hint of fraternization with the enemy. Suddently, not only Mary’s happiness but her very life is threatened by the most dangerous of wartime secrets.

One of the recent reviews

A brilliant book about the life of a young nurse struggling to cope during WW2. Mary is from a working class family and the details of her life are spot-on for the period without being laboured or sounding artificial. She is so well-drawn she quickly becomes a figure we understand and love despite her mistakes, and when she is faced with danger from those around her we want to protect her and keep her safe. She faces prejudices that we all still face today and we can understand her dilemmas.

The others in the book all have their own multi-layered personalities which means we can sympathise, for instance, with Mary over her selfish, flighty sister, yet still feel for Ellen when things go badly for her.
This is a love story and a story of hatred and prejudice. The tension builds inexorably to its conclusion and I read on apprehensively but unable to put the book down, genuinely afraid for several of the characters. That is the mark of a good book.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pattern-Shadows-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B00940YWKQ

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Shadows-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B00940YWKQ

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

The next author is popular children’s writer Bette A. Stevens.. and instead of one of her stories, here is her puzzle book, Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, which has received a recent review.

About the book

The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too! is a resource for multi-cultural and interdisciplinary studies in the classroom or at home. Integrates Math (measurement and geometry) and Language Arts (research and writing) for elementary and middle school students, while presenting a few historical facts about tangrams.

Tangrams and word puzzles (rhyming riddles/poetry) encourage students to have fun while they’re learning, and then to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Includes ideas for home/school projects. Tangram outlines, with rhyming riddles as clues, are even labeled for coloring for preschoolers. Hands-on fun for the whole classroom/family!

A recent review for the book

D.L. Finn 5.0 out of 5 stars Very Clever! January 2, 2018

I bought this book to give as a gift to my grandchildren. Reading through the book before giving it to them, I found it taught me a few things, too. First, I had no idea a tangram is a seven-piece puzzle with specific shapes. A pattern is provided to cut out and get started along with the history of it. There are many ways to put the pieces together, but the book supplies shapes to make– with clues or riddles as to what they are. Although, this is a very clever and educational book for children, I appreciated the added bonus that an adult can sit down and enjoy it with the kids!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Tangram-Zoo-Word-Puzzles-Too/dp/1470124777

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tangram-Zoo-Word-Puzzles-Too/dp/1470124777

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

Read more reviews and follow Bette on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Connect to Bette via her website: https://4writersandreaders.com/

The next author who has received a recent review is Vashti Quiroz-Vega for The Fall of Lillith.

About The Fall of Lilith:

So says Lilith, the most exquisite of the angels. The two most important pledges an angel makes to God are those of obedience and celibacy, and dire consequences await any who break their oaths.

At first, the angels are happy in their celestial home, learning and exploring together. As they grow older, though, Lilith begins to question these pledges, which now seem arbitrary and stifling. Her challenge of the status quo leads to disagreement, jealousy, and strife among her peers. As the arguing and acrimony grow, lines are drawn and sides are chosen. Is war inevitable?

Filled with robust characters, incredible landscapes, and exciting action, The Fall of Lilith is an epic tale of seduction, betrayal, and revenge.

Free Will involves asking difficult questions and making hard choices, choices that require strength and sacrifice. These decisions can tear apart friendships and cause rifts between allies.

They can even threaten the foundations of Heaven.

The most recent review

I enjoyed reading about the various characters of this book, They are angels with wings to fly, one of them has additional abilities to change into different shapes. other one can breath fire, third one can sense the presence of others at any distance from him. There are others too with special abilities including Lilith, who can influence anyone by her words and can see future. All of them are created by God Himself to live in Floraison, with strict rules.

Most of them followed the rules, but Lilith despised following those rules because she had visions about the freedom to be bestowed upon yet to be created mankind of Earth. She revolted against God for not allowing the angels of Floraison the same freedom.
The revolt led to a bloody war between angels who followed rules and the others who were influenced by the designs of Lilith. Lilith and her supporters lost badly in the revolt and God condemned them to fall on Earth and bear punishment of hard living on earth.

They had to endure the punishment given by God in various forms. Fighting with various animals of earth, escaping from natural disasters such as volcanoes, earthquakes, dust storms in deserts etc. and finding food for survival were only some of the problems they had to tackle. This story of the survival of fallen angels on earth is very interesting till the last page.

Besides the story, I liked the use of vocabulary in this book to express the various actions and thoughts. Honestly, I learnt the use of many new words from this book. Most interesting part of this book for me was the narration of a story by Lilith. 

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Fall-Lilith-Fantasy-Angels-ebook/dp/B074CPKLHH/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fall-Lilith-Fantasy-Angels/dp/1947475002

Also by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Read the reviews and buy both books: https://www.amazon.com/Vashti-Quiroz-Vega/e/B00GTXG5W4

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vashti-Quiroz-Vega/e/B00GTXG5W4

Read more reviews and follow Vashti on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7122693.Vashti_Quiroz_Vega

Connect to Vashti via her website: https://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com/

The next author is International best selling author Dan Alatorre and An Angel on her Shoulder.

About An Angel on her Shoulder

A series of unexplainable tragedies surround a family and their young daughter as they seek to determine whether they are possessed, paranoid or collectively going insane. Meanwhile, forgotten clues from the father’s past may indicate forces are at work in ways more ominous than any of them could have imagined.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Audio version. This was wonderful. It starts with a horrible accident. But the next thing you know it goes to something else that has you thinking, what the heck did they mess up the story it’s totally different now. It took me a little while to realize that the story was now in the past. It goes back and forth like that several times, so it eventually started to make sense. I hate spoilers so I’ll leave it there.

The narration is superb he really brings the story to life.

This Audiobook was given to me for free at my request from the publisher, author or narrator and I provided this unbiased voluntary review.

Reasons I enjoyed this book:
Action-packed, Unpredictable, Great world building, Original, Page-turner, Entertaining, Happily Ever After, Inspirational, Whimsical, Scary, Haunting, Easy-to-read, Wonderful characters, Twisted.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Her-Shoulder-Dan-Alatorre-ebook/dp/B073GLVT71

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Her-Shoulder-Dan-Alatorre-ebook/dp/B073GLVT71

A small selection of other books by Dan Alatorre

Discover all of Dan’s books, read the reviews and buy: http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU

Read more reviews and follow Dan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7847408.Dan_Alatorre

Connect to Dan via his website: www.DanAlatorre.com

The final author today with a recent review is Eloise de Sousa for her book The Iron Pendulum.

About the book

Julia Webster and Hugo del Fuego are missing from their third floor apartment in Bagley. The grisly display discovered in their home leaves Detectives Perkins and Jones with little evidence to follow and, as more remains turn up, the pressure mounts to find the killer. Time is the key element in solving a case riddled with dead ends and a strange family hiding its true evil behind the façade of money and power.

Can they unravel the secrets hidden behind the closed doors and will it be enough to solve the case and rescue the couple in time?

A recent review for the book

Stella F 5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Read December 17, 2017

High paced crime thriller? or rather slow and going nowhere in the case of detectives Perkins and Jones. But what makes their job so addictive? There are plenty of descriptive elements in here; a mix of first person, Julia Webster, and third person, narrative. Whilst the majority of us would consider ourselves normal, we continue to read what unveils to be far from the ordinary. This is a thriller that shines its light into the dark recess of a mental institution. Eloise rations the laughs, but there are still one liners beautifully woven between the suspense, intrigue and horror. Skilful plotting and insidious build-up of tension, makes for an unexpected outcome.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Pendulum-Eloise-Sousa-ebook/dp/B01HYFLBII

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Iron-Pendulum-Eloise-Sousa-ebook/dp/B01HYFLBII

A selection of books by Eloise de Sousa

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Eloise-De-Sousa/e/B00JKTFVXI

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eloise-De-Sousa/e/B01N9PWJ5Y

Read more reviews and follow Eloise on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7781215.Eloise_De_Sousa

Connect to Eloise via her blog: https://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found an addition or two to your groaning TBRs…… thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected by Judith Barrow


Delighted to welcome Judith Barrow to the Archive Series and she is going to share some of her more hilarious and unexpected moments hosting guests in her holiday let.

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected by Judith Barrow

Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the Sports Fanatic.

Before I go any further I think I should mention that although we live along a quiet lane we are only a five minute walk to the village. In the centre is the local Co-op. The frontage is very old fashioned; it’s an old building. For years there’s has been talk of building a new store on the outskirts (actually about five hundred metres behind the existing one, on the edge of common land) but nothing has come of it. In winter the place trundles sleepily along; goods not available because of snow somewhere up country. the odd garbled message over the tannoy that everyone ignores, staff huddled in corners exchanging local gossip, wandering around, trying not to make eye contact in case you want to ask them something. It’s a place to meet up with local people who haven’t been visible all summer due to being too busy keeping holiday visitors entertained.

Which, as an aside, reminds me of a time I asked Husband to go and buy a red cabbage from the Co-op.

After half an hour he returns, empty handed and looking stunned.

‘No red cabbage?’ I enquire.

‘No, couldn’t find one. Asked an assistant. She said cabbages were on the veg stall and there was red food colouring in the baking section.’ He shook his head. ‘You couldn’t make it up!’

In summer the place comes alive: more than one assistant on the tills, lots of bustle, filling up shelves,assistants eager to help. Lots of happy visitors always glad for a natter, which inevitable ends with the comment,”you are so lucky to live here.’

I don’t argue… we are.

The visitors! (Should add here there is a sign asking customers not to shop in their nightwear) Apparently beach wear is acceptable. Nowhere else have I seen people shop half undressed: men in shorts (even Speedos … don’t think too long on that image; not nice mostly), bare chests and nothing on their feet, accompanied by shoals of similarly dressed and bare-footed children. All very jolly… until someone runs over toes with a trolley. Or they step in something.

None of this, by the way, has anything at all to do with the Sports Fanatic.

The couple arrived late one Saturday evening. The man struggled out of the car and walked, wincing, slowly along the drive, using two sticks, irritated-looking wife marching in front of him.

‘He’s sprained his ankle,’ she said, tilting her head towards him and without introducing herself. ‘happened yesterday. I came home from work and there he was, lying on the settee, bandaged up. Apparently,’ she stressed the word, ‘apparently our neighbour took him to hospital.’

‘Good of him,’ her husband said. ‘Nice chap.’

Wife snorted. ‘Fine start to our week,’ she said.

‘Mrs Morris?’ I asked. I knew they were down for a family reunion. Her family reunion.

She ignored me. ‘This way, is it?’ Pointing towards the apartment door and stomping off.

‘She’s a bit cross,’ her husband offered. Struggling with sticks he held his hand out to Husband and shook it. ‘I’m Simon,’he said, ‘you got Sky Sports in there?’

The following day it was the the reunion. The husband apparently had hardly moved from the settee in the living room of the apartment.

Mrs Morris was no less cross than before. ‘He’ll have to stay here,’ she said. ‘he says he’s in a lot of pain and can hardly stand.’ She stared at Husband. ‘I’ll be out all day. Would you go in and see if he’s okay every now and then, perhaps give him a cup of tea. I’ve left sandwiches on the coffee table for his lunch. It really is a nuisance.’

Husband was clenching jaw, the ears were giving off warning signs..

‘It’s fine,’I said, hurriedly. ‘Don’t worry.’

Half an hour after she’d driven off Husband went in to the apartment ‘ I can’t find him, he said.

‘In the loo?’I offered.

‘No! Anyhow, he’s not supposed to be able to move around at all.’

The implications of that suddenly struck us.

‘I’m not bloody clearing up after him if anything happens,’ Husband says.

I don’t answer but I knew it wouldn’t be me, either.

We searched around the apartment, then the garden.

‘He won’t be out here,’I said. ‘He can’t walk.

Just then Mr Morris came running around the corner of the house, a pack of six cans of pale ale in his arms.

We stood and looked at one another

Then, without an ounce of shame, he said, ‘can’t stand her family. Anyway, there’s loads of sport on the telly I don’t want to miss.’

And with that he grinned, walked past us and into the apartment.

Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week but Mrs Morris left on the Friday and the last we saw of Mr Morris was him trudging off the drive, carrying his suitcase, to make his way to the railway station on the Saturday morning

©Judith Barrow January 2017

My thanks to Judith for sharing this very entertaining experience and I have a feeling that husband was going to home to hot tongue and cold shoulder. Join us next week for another of Judith’s adventures.

About Judith Barrow

Although I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, for the last forty years I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place.

I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago. Four novels safely stashed away, never to see the light of day again, I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. The prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads will be published in August 2017. Hopefully then the family in this series will leave me alone to explore something else!

I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.

Along with friend and fellow author, Thorne Moore, I also organise a book fair in September. This year we’ve changed venues. Here’s the link that tells all!! Narberth Book Fair. When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m doing research for my writing, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline or reading and reviewing books for Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT, along with some other brilliant authors and bloggers.

Books by Judith Barrow

A Hundred Tiny Threads  is a prequel to the three books featuring the Howarth family.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Judith Barrow’s extremely well crafted, gritty, no-nonsense characters- a trademark in all of her novels – simply grab hold of the insides of your gut. In her stories so far, there always seems to be a strong, compelling well-written female protagonist and a strong, compelling yet deeply despicable man. Her characters stifle cries of outrage within the reader and in this particular book- which is the prequel to her family saga trilogy- she demands that you study the tiny threads, the origins that create the Duffy/Howarth family’s tapestry. Also, the tiny threads creating the flipside family rope that so often strangles hope – the hope of them ever breaking out of unhealthy family patterns, passed down through the generations, seen in the trilogy.

We observe the bravery of the Suffragette movement and the gear change in women’s thinking, bringing challenges on the domestic front through the eyes of Winifred and absorb the compelling backdrop of the dire First World War and the unforgiving callous behaviour of the Black and Tans. Judith pushes the reader into these frontlines and into these volatile worlds where we can, I think, surely comprehend- though with unease – that even the most undesirable character can be called nasty and a victim at the same time, and in the same breath.

The prequel and the trilogy make for a gripping read.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith Barrow

Blog: judithbarrowblog.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/judithabarrow
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3/about

Sally Cronin’s Book Reviews 2017 – My recommendations for Christmas Part One – Mary Smith, Judith Barrow, Cynthia Reyes, Kristina Stanley and Jack Eason


As part of promoting books for Christmas, I thought that I would share some my book reviews from 2017 that I featured on the blog. These are books that I can recommend personally and I hope that if you have not read the work of these authors you will head over and check them out.

I have not read nearly enough books this year and I still have some reviews to write that will appear after Christmas. My intention in 2018 is to maintain book and author promotions but also ring fence some time for my own writing and reading. I will be featuring one review a week which is my target of 52 books reviewed for next year.

Anyway I do hope you enjoy my personal selection over the next two days.

My reviews and recommendations for Christmas Part One.

No More Mulberries by Mary Smith was a treat as you will gather from my review and I am not alone in my opinion. There are an impressive number of excellent reviews for the book which continues to delight readers.

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

My Five Star review for No More Mulberries.

First let me say that this book should be made into a film as it has all the ingredients of a action packed love story.

It is visually stunning and I found myself completely involved in the people and locations such as the village of Sang-i- Sia that Mary Smith uses as the backdrop to the unfolding story. Combined with the increasing conflict between the various factions in the region it has an element of danger that brings even more tension to the central theme.

All the characters had wonderful depth and some of the minor personalities stood out for me as well. Including Ismail an old and trusted friend from her previous life in Zardgul and his gentle and wise wife Usma.

There is a love triangle between midwife Miriam, Iqbal her second husband and Jawad her charasmatic first husband who died tragically, and whose death she has not fully come to terms with. Through flashbacks, Mary Smith masterfully takes us through each of their lives, revealing the secrets and events that have brought them to a crisis point in Miriam and Iqbal’s marriage.

I came to admire Miriam who felt out of place in her native Scotland and embraced the cultural differences of living in a small Afghan village with enthusiasm and humour. She does everything she can to be accepted by learning the language and adopting the role of a traditional wife and mother.  Relationships can be daunting at the best of time, but add in the inability to communicate,no running water, basic cooking facilities and harsh extremes of weather in an isolated enviroment, and fortitude is required.

I did sympathise with Iqbal who clearly loves Miriam but finds it very difficult to deal with the ghosts of his past, and the ghost of Jawad who he feels is the third person in their marriage. He wants to be a good father to Farid who was just a toddler when his father died, but Miriam has also been trying to keep the memory of Jawad alive for her son, who is now confused. The light in their marriage however is provided by the delightful little girl, Ruckshana who is unaware of the tension and shines her love on all of them.

This is a complex relationship but the story is written in such a way that you come to understand and empathise with all the players in the drama. Mary Smith brings her extensive experience of living and working in Afghanistan and Pakistan into this story, creating a wonderful tapistry of life, love, danger and redemption.

I highly recommend you read the book.

Read more of the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith/dp/1849234205

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith-ebook/dp/B005RRDZ12

I also read and reviewed Donkey Boy and Other Stories in October

My review for the collection which I gave  5 stars on October 2nd.

This is not a long read, but you should never judge a book by the number of pages, but in the quality of the writing. Each story is beautifully crafted and leaves the reader with questions. Not about the outcome of the story, but about how we might have behaved under similar circumstances. In the title story we meet a small boy who has to work for his father rather than go to school. His resentment is natural in a child, as his reasoning over a moral dilemma that becomes even more complicated than he anticipated.

For me there was a theme running through all the stories, of a sense of being trapped in situations and circumstances. These included childhood memories laced with bitterness, secrets that if revealed could endanger life, and visions that show the darker side of human nature. I read and enjoyed the novel No More Mulberries by Mary Smith, and highly recommend that you read this short story collection too.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075VC1XNX

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075VC1XNX/

A selection of books by Mary Smith

NEWSFLASH: Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni is on offer until December 23rd at 99p..

Mark Williams 5.0 out of 5 stars A Finely Wrought and Fascinating Memoir 24 August 2017

This is an outstanding memoir, a record of the time that Mary Smith spent working in Afghanistan where she was establishing a project to train female volunteer health workers. This perspective makes for an account that is so much more vivid and intimate than a mere visitor to the country could have created. Mary Smith writes with humour and a delicate touch that faithfully records the daily life she experienced directly. She also evokes a lost time when the country enjoyed relative peace, pre-Taliban, and because of that there is an elegiac mood too as Taliban were later to gain ascendance. What shines forth, however, is the resilience and spirit of the Afghan people, especially the women, which Mary Smith captures in a lively, limpid style that ensures you will want to keep reading right to the end. It is easy to see why Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni has become a best seller.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

Connect to Mary via her website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/

My next review 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.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

My next review is for the beautifully written and illustrated children’s book Myrtle the Purple Turtle by Cynthia Reyes and illustrated by Jo Robinson.

About Myrtle the Purple Turtle

Myrtle is a lovely Turtle. Not an ordinary Turtle. She is Purple and different from other turtles. After being bullied by another turtle, Myrtle tries to become someone else. In the end, Myrtle and her friends help children learn to not be afraid of being different. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a thoroughly engaging story that stresses the importance of self-acceptance and friendship.

My review for Myrtle the PurpleTurtle

Beautifully illustrated children’s book with a lesson for us all.

This is a beautifully written and illustrated children’s book, that gently encourages the young to accept that being different should be celebrated. Whether it is the colour of a person’s skin, accent, cultural background, religion or disability, they should never feel excluded and forced to change to fit in. Adapting is a different thing altogether and that comes when two people or groups respect each other’s differences, learn from them and adopt some elements in common. Cynthia Reyes expresses that effectively with the words in this book, complimented perfectly with wonderful illustrations of Myrtle and those she meets along the way by Jo Robinson. I also believe that parents or any adults reading this to a child, will also take on board how important it is for young children to grasp this concept as they enter this multi-cultural world we live in.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075ZGB235

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Myrtle-Purple-Turtle-Cynthia-Reyes/dp/0620773421

Also by Cynthia Reyes

book-photo-agh-cover2

Read the reviews for both books and BUY: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

Read more reviews and follow Cynthia on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7072186.Cynthia_Reyes

61etre3zbbl-_ux250_Connect to Cynthia Reyes via her blog: https://cynthiasreyes.com/

Illustrations by Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson currently resides in her homeland, South Africa, after having lived in rural Zimbabwe for many years. Her obsessive affection for the African continent, most humans, and all creatures feathered and furred are what inspire her writing. Her stories are mostly about people, and the sometimes dark twists that life takes. She also writes science fiction/fantasy, humour, and horror, not being one to restrict herself.

Connect to Jo via her website: https://africolonialstories.wordpress.com

The final review for today is for  Look the Other Way by Kristina Stanley which was released in August this year.

About Look the Other Way

Submerged beneath the depths is a sea of secrets

A year after her Uncle Bobby mysteriously disappears in the turquoise waters surrounding the Bahamas, Shannon Payne joins her grieving aunt to trace Bobby’s last voyage. Shannon hopes the serenity of the sea might help her recover from a devastating breakup with her fiancé.

Sailing the 38-foot catamaran, A Dog’s Cat, is Captain Jake Hunter, a disillusioned cop who has sworn off women. While Shannon tries to resist her growing attraction to the rugged captain, she uncovers dark truths about her uncle’s death that might send them all to the depths.

My review of Look the Other Way.

A romantic thriller with some great twists and turns.

I am not a sailor but have enjoyed time on the sea with a very capable captain at the helm. It was clear throughout the book that there was a very capable sailor writing the story who knew their way, not just around a boat and the Bahamas but also a romantic thriller.

The main characters were everything that a romance needs. Attractive, feisty and independent heroine, Shannon Payne who has some very good reasons for taking a break from her life, for some much needed time to think and consider her future. A good-looking and rugged hero, Jake Hunter who seems to be hiding a secret from his past, and who is desperately trying to keep his eyes of the bikini clad Shannon who might just put a dent in his resolve to remain single and celibate.

Shannon’s aunt Debi is on a mission to unravel the mystery about her husband Bobby’s last sailing trip. It seems that wherever the boat with its occupants anchors in the exotic Bahamas, the mystery deepens with dangerous manipulative female hitchhikers, and a much disliked yachtsman who likes to help himself to expensive keepsakes. Add in Debi’s excitable little dog and you have all the ingredients of a great adventure.

The locations from the Florida coast to the various yachting havens in the Caribbean are authentic and clearly well researched. Whilst the appeal of the nomadic life sailing these waters was apparent, so was some of the darker elements of this lifestyle.

One of the clever elements that the story of a troubled boy and teenager that is told in the background.. is it Jake or someone else? As Shannon’s brother joins the crew and seems at odds with everyone, it raises more questions about both their backgrounds.

Who are Shannon and her aunt to trust, and will they discover the truth behind the loss of Bobby? As the feelings heat up between Shannon and Jake she is knows that she must discover the truth if she is to find true happiness.. Oh and look out for the ex-fiancee who decides to confuse the issue even further by turning up uninvited.

I enjoyed the book very much. I escaped to the warm waters of the Bahamas with Kristina Stanley at the helm and found myself captivated to the end. Not my usual genre, but there was plenty of excitement, mystery and action to keep any reader happy. With the cold winter nights drawing in I recommend you curl up by a fire and escape to the islands.

You can read other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Look-Other-Way-Kristina-Stanley-ebook/dp/B073QHLZSB

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Look-Other-Way-Kristina-Stanley-ebook/dp/B073QHLZSB

Also by Kristina Stanley

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Kristina-Stanley/e/B0106J097I

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kristina-Stanley/e/B0106J097I

Read more reviews and follow Kristina Stanley on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14130411.Kristina_Stanley

Connect to Kristina via her website: http://kristinastanley.com/blog/

Earlier in the year I read and reviewed the historical novella 1066 by Jack Eason

About the book

Down the centuries the British Isles has always been seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon occupation, ending on the 14th of October, 1066. In Autumn 1066, author Jack Eason gives a great sense of ‘place’, of detail. The reader is right ‘there’ in that poignant year, marching, shivering with September cold (as ‘…no warming fires were allowed lest ‘enemy spies would soon spot their approach.’) From the very first few lines, Eason, practising his unique drycraft, begins to weave his particular brand of magic on his reader. Eason glamour’s with well-crafted dialogue, drawing his reader into the time and into the action. To accomplish this, the author proffers a gentle blend of informative nomenclature coupled with familiar speech, to ease the reader into his story without distancing with words too unfamiliar, which is a criticism frequently made of Bernard Cornwell’s epics. I long to read more Martin Bradley

My review for 1066 May 18th 2017.

Prepare yourself to stand in the shield wall.

This novella may be a short read, but it so packed with authentic detail and action, that you feel you are reading a much longer book.

Our heritage is founded on the backs of ordinary men such as Aldred and his nephew Cynric pressed into service as were thousands of farmers and craftsmen who were sworn to the feudal Anglo-Saxon lords. The story is factual but told through the eyes of these two fictional characters as warring armies battle to gain control of Britain.

One army is led by the barbaric King Harald of Norway or Hardradå as he is known by his men. He has formed an alliance with the Anglo-Saxon Tostig, claimant to the throne, now held by his brother King Harold, following the recent death of Edward the Confessor. This invasion force has the backing of Duke William of Normandy who has made promises to Tostig should there be victory.

With all the various factions identified, the story then takes us through the build up of forces led by the Norwegian king in southern Scotland, the defeat of the army entrenched in York and the significant and decisive victory by the forces of King Harold at Stamford Bridge.

This leads to the battle that was to change the life of every man, woman and child in Britain on October 14th 1066.

The main characters are portrayed vividly, and their backgrounds and involvement in this pivotal time in history, demonstrate how human traits such as greed, revenge and jealousy leads to the deaths of thousands who follow them.

The battle scenes and the acts of barbarism are very realistically portrayed both through the eyes of Aldred and Cynric, as well as those leading the various forces. The action maintains its pace throughout the story and Jack Eason has recreated the terrifying and brutal results of hand to hand combat and archery.

This was a dark time in our history and 1066 was a turning point for a Britain about to move into the Middle Ages, Jack Eason has captured this moment excellently.

If you enjoy a fast paced story and historical accuracy then I recommend you read 1066.

Buy the book – Amazon US –  https://www.amazon.com/Autumn-1066-Anglo-Saxon-dominance-ended/dp/1546685308

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1546685308

A small selection of other books by Jack Eason

Discover all of Jack Eason’s books and read the reviews: https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Eason/e/B003MEA7AY/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Eason/e/B003MEA7AY

Follow Jack and read other reviews on Goodread: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4026249.Jack_Eason

Connect to Jack via his website: https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/

I hope you have enjoyed today’s selection and there will be more of my reviews tomorrow. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Judith Barrow, Shehanne Moore, Judy Penz Sheluk and Marcia Meara.


Thank you for dropping in to the last Christmas Bookstore of the week. Another five authors with terrific books that would make wonderful gifts.

The first author is Judith Barrow with more reviews for her latest book A Hundred Tiny Threads, a book that I enjoyed and reviewed a few weeks ago. Definitely a gift for someone who loves family dramas.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is the first book I have read by Judith Barrow and it certainly won’t be the last! A superbly written novel set in 1911 and during the First World War. Winifred Duffy is disillusioned with her mundane job and domineering mother and wants to become involved in the Suffrage Movement. She is persuaded by her Irish friend Honora to go to a meeting and is determined to play her part in trying to get women the vote. Winifred is introduced to Honora’s brother and falls in love for the first time in her life. Can it last?

Bill Howarth works in the mines and has a serious accident which leaves him out of work and disgruntled. He worships Winifred from afar and is determined to be with her. However, things take a turn for the worse and then Bill is drafted into the war. When he comes out, he is battled scarred and weary, but still his needs for Winifred are undiminished.

How will the story unfold? Will it end in tears or happiness for our three main characters?

An excellent read from start to finish, great narrative and Judith Barrow is an author to be commended.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

The next author with a shelf full of books that would make any historical romance lover happy is Shehanne Moore. Here is Splendor ( London Jewel Thieves Book Two) which was published in May this year.

About Splendor

The only thing he hates more than losing at chess is marriage…

For Splendor, former servant to London’s premiere jewel thieves, pretending to be someone else is all in a day’s work. So when she learns of a chess tournament—a men’s chess tournament—with a ten thousand pound prize, pretending to be a man is the obvious move. The money will be enough to set her fiancé up in his own business so they can finally marry, and more importantly, it’ll pay off her bills and keep her out of debtor’s prison. But she doesn’t plan on her opponent, the rakish Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, being a sore loser—and a drunken one, at that. But before she can collect her prize, she finds herself facing the most merciless man in London across a pair of dueling pistols at dawn. Chess may be Splendor’s game, but she’s never fired a pistol before. And dressed as a man with ill-fitting shoes on the slippery grass and borrowed glasses that make it hard to see, she’s certain she’s finally tipped her own king.

Bitter divorcee Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, is the ton’s most ruthless heartbreaker. And he’s got three pet peeves: kitchen maids, marriage…and losing. So when he realizes the “man” opposite him has entered the chess tournament under false pretenses, he’s in the perfect position to extort the little chit. But that’s before the exasperating woman begins to slip beneath his skin, and soon all he can think about is slipping beneath her skirts. But the confounded woman is engaged to someone else, and worse—she’s nothing but a former kitchen maid, just like the one that lured his father into the marriage that ruined the family name. And his ex-wife taught him more than he cared to know about why marriage was the worst kind of checkmate of all…

One of the reviews for the book

I loved every delicious page of this book. The story of Splendor’s tempestuous rise from skivvy to become the wife of the gorgeously glowering Kendall Winterborne, third Earl of Stillmore, is an enthralling read. Exhilarating, witty and wicked, as well as wonderfully original. Ms Moore has a voice like no other and it is as irresistible as chocolate brownies. I gobbled it up. This is Georgian England, so of course there is a rollicking duel, class warfare and subjugation of women, but no one is going to get the better of the brilliantly ballsy Splendor, whether it’s at chess, at disguise or at love. Yet underneath all the abundant fun and crazy cross dressing there runs a powerful and serious comment on what women have had to face throughout history.

In Splendor Ms Moore has created a cracking champion for the female of the species, infinitely more deadly than the male. She comes out fists swinging, but the vulnerability that she is so determined to keep hidden from view is immensely touching. And the finale will capture your heart. Shehanne Moore can spin a tale that is a romance like no other. Savour it.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Splendor-London-Jewel-Thieves-Book-ebook/dp/B071S9W9W

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Splendor-London-Jewel-Thieves-Book-ebook/dp/B071S9W9WN

Also by Shehanne Moore

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Shehanne-Moore/e/B00CMBK7BW/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shehanne-Moore/e/B00CMBK7BW

Read more reviews and follow Shehanne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7029905.Shehanne_Moore

Connect to Shehanne via her blog: https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

The next author is Judy Penz Sheluk and her novel Skeletons in the Attic – A Marketville Mystery which is now available in audio for those who love to listen to their books as well as read them.

Judy has some FREE codes for the audio book as she would like obtain more reviews for the book. If you are interested please connect to Judy via her website listed below.

51wcykazzl-_uy250_About the book

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

One of the reviews for the book

The characters spring to life with their words and actions. Hints and clues are woven throughout the story and kept me guessing as the mystery unfolded. First of all the main character is named Calamity Barnstable and with a name like that you know it is going to be unique and interesting. Calamity goes by Callie Barnstable and inherits a house from her father that she never even knew existed. She is stunned when her father’s lawyer gives her the keys and a nice budget to work with as well as a thirty-year-old mystery to solve.

This story had so much going on that you could feel the frustration of this woman that had been tossed into a mystery that took place when she was six years old. A missing mother, a psychic, a nosy neighbor and other completely colorful cast of characters makes this book such an enjoyable read. Each chapter brought new suspects and helpful hints to light.

I almost gave it a 4.5 heart rating because of the hurried ending, but I enjoyed the book so much I stayed with the five.

Read the  reviews for the book and buy in print and audio: https://www.amazon.com/Skeletons-Attic-Marketville-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01IQ0N3X6

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Skeletons-Attic-1-Marketville-Mystery/dp/1772232645

Also by Judy Penz Sheluk

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Read the reviews and buy all the books: http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04/

Read more reviews and follow Judy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8602696.Judy_Penz_Sheluk

61kxh8dcqrl-_uy250_Connect to Judy via her Blog: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/

Our next author who has a series that would make fantasy readers very happy is Marcia Meara and here is her most recent release, The Emissary – A Riverbend Spinoff Novella which follows the story of a previous character in the series.

About The Emissary

Was Gabe Angelino, the mysterious truck driver in Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2, really an angel, as Willow Green believes? Or was he simply a good man, determined to help a stranger in need? Find out, as author Marcia Meara reveals the truth in the first Riverbend spinoff novella, The Emissary.

An angel’s work is never done—that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.

The archangel Azrael has had enough. He believes he’s found a way to ease their burden while saving jeopardized humans, too—hired help.

When Jake Daughtry lost his life rescuing a total stranger from certain death, he was on the fast track to Heaven. But that was before Azrael pulled him right out of line at the Pearly Gates. Now, as an Emissary to the Angels, Jake is taking to the highway in a quest to help souls in trouble. But the innate stubbornness of human beings bent on self-destruction is a challenge unlike any he’s ever faced.

It’s up to Jake and Azrael to bridge the gap between humans and angels. Will they ever convince the Council of Angels this endeavor is worthwhile? Can Jake figure out how to play by Azrael’s complicated rules? Will Azrael ever master the use of contractions in general conversation?

To find out the answers, hop on board Jake’s big red-and-white semi and travel the roads from the Florida Keys to north Georgia on an adventure that will make you laugh hard and cry even harder.

One of the recent reviews for the book

As a spinoff, I wouldn’t recommend reading this before the Riverbend books, unless you don’t mind plot spoilers. If you read Finding Hunter, and wondered what was up with the mysterious Gabe Angelino, this book will answer all your questions.

This is a perfect read for this time of year–cozy, magical, and even set in winter. Jake Daughtry, AKA Gabe Angelino, died–and then the angel Azrael put him to work helping lost souls. There’s liable to be some issues along the way–angels aren’t the cuddliest of people, and Jake has a bit of a sense of humor–but there’s also going to be wonder, and hope, and examples of humanity’s best and worst.

At 105 pages, this story packs a lot into a short amount of time, making it a great read for a busy season, without the story being rushed. It wraps up satisfactorily at the end, but leaves more room for the next adventure. And in between–is a sweet story, full of faith without hitting too heavily on dogma, willing to have a little fun with the idea of angels, and the emissaries they might need to get their jobs done.

The relationships between the characters grow pretty quickly like any novella, but are engaging for all that. There’s not as much space for lovely descriptions of the landscape, but there are song titles and funny place settings at the chapter headings, such as “close to here but not far from there.” It’s a story of journeys, physical and spiritual, and always in motion. No matter the tragedies that form obstacles along the way, you know that there will be a happy ending coming, because this is that kind of book–the sort that wraps you like a warm blanket. A great read for fans of Marcia’s work, and fans of cozy mysteries with a bit of the supernatural.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Emissary-Riverbend-Spinoff-Novella-ebook/dp/B075Y2T3CL

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emissary-Riverbend-Spinoff-Novella-ebook/dp/B075Y2T3C

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Marcia-Meara/e/B00EUCXRU4

And Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marcia-Meara/e/B00EUCXRU4

Read more reviews and follow Marcia Meara on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7242441.Marcia_Meara

Connect to Marcia via her website: http://marciamearawrites.com/

I am sure there will be a book or two that you might add to your TBR for your own reading pleasure or might buy as a gift for somebody else. Thanks Sally