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:

Sue Vincent and Stuart France, Buy:

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


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.


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:

Judith Barrow – Buy:
Blog: 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:


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..

And here is last week’s post:

  • 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:

Judith Barrow is in the Cafe Bookstore.

Judith Barrow – Buy:

Barb Taub is also in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Barb Taub, Buy:

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:

Marjorie Mallon is an author in the cafe and bookstore

M.J.Mallon, Buy:

As is Annette Rochelle Aben

Annette Rochelle Aben, Buy:

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



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:

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:

If you review books then if you would like to become one of Rosie’s respected Book Review Team, here are the details:

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


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Meet the #BookReviewers – Balroop Singh, D. G. Kaye, Colleen Chesebro, N.N.Light, Janice Spina, Lizanne Lloyd and Mark Paxson

This series is aimed at promoting 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..

The series is already evolving as predicted and we will just see where it goes.

  • 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 review is by Balroop Singh for a volume of poetry ‘Into the Hearth’– by Wendy E. Slater. It was posted direct to Amazon so I will share the entire review.

Profound and brilliant anthology of poems on April 20, 2018

Into the Hearth by Wendy E. Slater is a poetic journey into self, a comment on self-discovery from flame to love to home and hearth. Though it has been marked as spiritual poetry but it addresses the most basic truths connected with life, probably suggesting that spirituality begins from within. Hurts merge with reconciliation, as “your absence means neither anything nor everything,” yet “I will always sing to your heart and you mine.” Emotions recede like waves, get restored in the heart, where they ebb and discover a new path, sometimes taking solace in the superficial sounds.

Slater’s poems have to be read gently to discern their depth. The imagery is drawn from the universe…waves, stars, moon, music are mere instruments that ignite the fire to understand our harmony with the blue and the green, into which our souls would merge one day.

From the softness of lotus that unfolds slowly to “Sahara, all me” – are the symbols of the struggle with passion and solitude, eventually arriving at only one conclusion…“There can no attachment, it’s all within.” This is a brilliant anthology of poems and I would recommend it to all poetry lovers.

Balroop Singh, Buy:


Now time to showcase D.G. Kaye who as many of you know is a non-fiction author who writes thought provoking and heartwarming memoirs. She also has a Sunday Review spot and this week she reviewed Writing Hard Stories by Melanie Brooks.

Today’s book review is on memoir writer, Melanie Brooks’ book – Writing Hard Stories. I always try to read a book on my craft in between reading other genres I enjoy too. I was drawn to this book, not only for its whimsical cover (covers do attract), but for the content of the book, which is a series of interviews the author conducted with other more well known memoir writers. Brooks was searching for the heart of why and how each writer goes about writing their memoirs – what inspires them, how they get over the tough parts to write, overcoming fears of featuring people in their lives and how their work will be accepted.

Head over and read the rest of Debby’s review: D.G. Kaye Review Writing Hard Stories

D. G. Kaye – Buy:

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

The next review is by Colleen Chesebro who is a prolific and much respected reviewer of books and never fails to do a book and its author justice. This week she reviewed the latest book from the poet Annette Rochelle Aben – A Haiku Perspective 2018.

Here is an extract from the review and if you click the cover it will take you to Amazon to buy.

American Poet, Annette Rochelle Aben has created a dynamic collection of syllabic poetry and prose that shouts out her unique perspective on everyday life. Her poetry is filled with humor and pathos expressed through various forms of Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka formats covering a wide range of topics.

Aben’s talent lies in her deep understanding of the human psyche expressed through poetic bursts of emotion that reach out and grab the reader. One of the most powerful verses is called, Absolution:


If I let you see
Some parts of my history
Would they set me free
Wiping clean the deeds
See flowers disguised as weeds

Head over and read the rest of the poem and the review from Colleen: Colleen Chesebro’s review of A Haiku Perspective 2018

Colleen Chesebro, Buy:


Annette Rochelle Aben, Buy:

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


The next review is from N.N. Light’s Book Haven for Twilight’s Encore – Wounded Hearts #3 by USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar.

Here is an extract from the review.

If you like Military Romance, Wounded Warrior Romance, Contemporary Romance, or Romantic Suspense, this is a sure to be a story you will love from USA Today Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar.

My Review:

What is it about the town of Tidal Falls that makes me yearn for the next book by Jacquie Biggar? Could it be the larger-than-life men and their penchant for attracting danger? Could it be the strong-willed women who love their men, not caring if their life is in peril? Whatever it is, I love it!

Katy’s come home to Tidal Falls to get married in the soon-to-be restored Twilight Theatre (owned by her father). When she meets the contractor, Ty Garrett, time stands still. Ty, her first love, stands between her and the wedding she desperately craves. Working in such close proximity is a recipe for disaster, considering how they went down in flames years ago

Head over and read the rest of this excellent review:  N.N. Light’s Review for Twilight’s Encore by Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar, Buy:

Please visit Jacquie’s Amazon page of website to view all her books.

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The next review is from author Janice Spina for the wonderful book No More Mulberries by Mary Smith. Janice is an award winning children’s author with other books for adult readers and is a huge supporter of authors in her community. I can also highly recommend this book.

The review for the book by Janice Spina

No More Mulberries is more than just a love story but a tale of hardship, loss, survival against all odds, and the importance of family. It is a story about two people who are different as any two can be. Miriam, from Scotland meets Jawad, an Afghan, and fall in love. She moves to his country and begins a love affair with Afghanistan.

When Jawad suffers an untimely death Miriam must decide whether to go back to her own homeland of Scotland with her son or stay. She meets another Afghan man, Iqbal, and sees a way to stay in this country with her son.

The cultural differences are numerous and difficult for the couple to overcome. They must come to terms with complicated problems in her new husband’s past in order to continue with their life together. All couples, no matter what culture they come from, have similar setbacks to deal through.

The author takes the reader on a journey through this backward country and all its antiquated beliefs about medicine and education for girls. The reader is drawn to all the beauty that the author is detailing which shows the love she has for this country.

Although I have never traveled to this part of the world I felt an empathy for the people and their remarkable ability to survive. With the Taliban at their back door they are forced to escape or stand against evil.

This is an unforgettable story about the resilience of one woman to conquer what many could not fathom. An enjoyable book and a must read for all! Kudos to the author for an outstanding novel!
Janice Spina, Buy:

Please visit Amazon or Janice’s blog to view all her books for adults and children.


Mary Smith, Buy:

Please visit Amazon or Mary’s website to view all her books.

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Lizanne Lloyd has reviewed That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughn on her blog. Lizanne is also part of the Rose’s Book Review Team which is a fantastic reviewing collaboration.

SeahorseHere is an extract from Lizanne’s review on her blog

An old house in an estate on the beautiful east coast of Ireland is a perfect setting for romance and mystery. Mia Flannagan is summoned to Galty House by the sad news of the imminent death of Archie Fitzgerald, a celebrated Hollywood actor who took the place of a father for most of her troubled childhood. During a rather distant relationship with her mother, stunning actress Fenella Flannagan, Mia was nurtured by Archie’s family and friends, but even they would never reveal the identity of her father.

Leaving the set of a disastrous film where she is in charge of the wardrobe, she is relieved to find Archie is in good form despite being weak and tiring easily. He maintains a good relationship with his new neighbour, American hotel manager, Ross Power’ but Mia is more interested in a friendship with Pearl, the lonely, neglected niece. Just as Mia was, she is an imaginative, talkative child and the two have adventures together visiting the mysterious island just off the coast.

Head over and read the rest of the review: Lizanne Lloyd reviews That Summer at The Seahorse Hotel

The final reviewer today is Mark Paxson  who has written a wonderful post about both Audrey Driscoll and Carrie Rubin..Mark Paxson is also the author of One Night in Bridgeport, The Marfa Lights, Deviation and Shady Acres available from Amazon Mark Paxson

The review I want to feature is for Audrey Driscoll who is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Here is an extract from the post on Mark’s blog

Audrey Driscoll is a blogger/writer who has followed my blog for some time. I have always appreciated her likes and occasional comments, but I only recently returned the favor and started following her blog a few months ago. It’s the kind of writer’s blog I appreciate. Most of the time you don’t even realize she has pursued publishing efforts because much of her blog is dedicated to her other pursuits.

A few weeks ago Berthold Gambrel posted a review of one of Audrey’s books, The Friendship of Mortals. Interestingly, Berthold learned of Audrey from my blog, likely because of a comment she left there that he then followed down the WordPress trail. His review inspired me to read The Friendship of Mortals. And I don’t know why. I’ve never read Lovecraft and haven’t the foggiest idea about his (her?) books and stories, although I’ve heard the name occasionally over the years.

Actually, I do know why. I wanted to show some support for a fellow writer and I hoped for a good story to go along with it.

Head over and read the rest of the blog postReview for The Friendship of Mortals by Audrey Driscoll by Mark Paxson

And here is Mark’s review for the book on Amazon.

I read a review of this book on a blog and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It is an excellent story, exceptionally well-written and well-told. I put Audrey in this category of writers who write in a more old-fashioned style. There is a poetry to her style, a rhythm and movement that is … well, it’s like baseball. There is no clock, and there are moments when nothing much is happening. But a good storyteller and a patient reader can recognize that even in those quiet moments something is happening. And a lot happens in this story. I highly recommend it.


To view all of Audrey’s books please visit her Amazon page.


I think that you get the idea of how this is shaping up. My aim is to get reviews spread as far as possible and as bloggers from countries around the world we have that ability.

I want to recognise those that already review books and thank them for taking the time to do so, and I also want to encourage others to review the books that they read. This post is just a small drop in the ocean and your help to spread its message is gratefully received.

Thanks for dropping in today and here is a quick summary of how you can participate.

  • If you are a regular book reviewer, or have recently reviewed a book on your blog send me the link to your latest post.
  • If you do not blog your reviews but post them on Amazon and Goodreads then send me the link to the review and give me your blog link to include.
  • If you are an author who has received a blog post review recently please send me a link.
  • If you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore with a recent review send me the link and I will include in the twice weekly updates.
  • If you are an author with a recent review on Amazon or Goodreads and are not in the Cafe and bookstore then contact me so we can put you on the shelves with a promotion.
  • You can put your links in the comments or you can email me on If you are a new author to the blog then please email me.

Please check out all the authors and their books in the Cafe and Bookstore: