Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Mystery – Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6) by James J. Cudney


I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

This is my review from August 2020 for Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6) by James J. Cudney

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

My review for the book 27th August 2020

It is hard to believe that Kellan Ayrwick has only been back at the Braxton Campus for a year in this series of mysteries. In that time he has solved several murders and other criminal activities and either charmed or alienated family and residents. Just when the poor guy thought he could relax with his daughter and nephew away in Florida with his parents, and his developing romance with the town sheriff April on track, a storm front races in.

It is not just the snow that Kellan is up to his eyes in, with his fiesty grandmother going missing, corruption allegations rocking the judicial office, accusations piling up against all his family members and bodies being discovered on an alarmingly regular basis.

As always the author keeps us on our toes with fast paced action and a growing list of suspects; all well drawn with their own quirks and characteristics. Some are familiar from other books and others new to the town.. including the irritatingly arrogant Fox Terrell who seems to turn up when he is least wanted or expected.

James Cudney writes a very good murder mystery and leaves the reader guessing to the last minute as to who could be the killer. He also unravels the other mysteries very satisfactorily in the final chapters, although we are left with a cliffhanger guaranteed to encourage you to buy the next book in the series, which of course we will.

Recommended for murder mystery readers who enjoy second guessing the author right to the last page.

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

Also by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US and: Amazon UKWebsite/Blog: This is my truth nowGoodreads: James J. Cudney – Twitter: @Jamescudney4

About James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review from 2020 and if you have not read any of James’s books yet, they are great… Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2019/2020 – #Mystery – Mistaken Identity: Death On The Cable Car ( Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 4) by James J. Cudney


I have read some amazing books in the last two years and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

We all tend to focus on the books we are currently marketing, but particularly in the case of series it is a good idea to promote earlier books to encourage readers to start at the beginning.

Today my review from November 2019 for James J. Cudney and A Braxton Campus Mysteries Book #4.. Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death On The Cable Car  

About Mistaken Identity Crisis

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. Meanwhile, a string of jewelry thefts, remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old-case, is taking place in town.

When a body is discovered at the campus, Kellan is called in to investigate. And if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud.

As the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County, what other surprises are in store?

My review for Mistaken Identity November 2019

This is the fourth of the Braxton Campus mysteries by James J. Cudney that I have enjoyed, and it very much feels like a much anticipated family reunion.

The author has cleverly added new characters and story lines in each successive book so as not to overwhelm the reader, and this fourth mystery has plenty of new interesting players and plots to keep us coming back for more.  And should you be concerned that you might not be able to keep up with the new characters, there is a very helpful list of the cast members and their roles in the front of the book.

Kellan Ayrwick is kept very busy in this book and is stretched thin between his job as a professor teaching a summer course, supporting his grandmother as she prepares to take office as the new Mayor, solving the mysterious series of robberies eight years previously, now being repeated which appear to implicate his brother, and being the go between for his supposed dead wife Francesca’s mob family and their mafia rivals.

Apart from trying to discover who murdered the contractor in the cable car, there are also secrets from the past that if revealed are going to impact the lives of those close to Kellan.

Luckily he has now formed a working relationship with the sheriff April Montague, although there is a promise of something more personal always lingering in the background. Also his friend Connor Hawkins formerly campus security but now a detective on the force is there as a back up and source of information. However with all the action going on and worry about his daughter’s safety, he is getting plenty of sleepless nights.

This is the most complex of the mysteries to date and certainly several new faces to get to know . I do recommend that you read the first three books in the series so that you hit the deck running with Mistaken Identity, or at least familiarise yourself with the cast list before reading the book. I have no idea where the next book will take us but I am looking forward to finding out.

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

Also by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US  and:  Amazon UK  – Website/Blog: This is my truth now Goodreads: James J. Cudney – Twitter: @Jamescudney4

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I began working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment, media, retail, and hospitality industries. Although I enjoy my job, I also want to re-focus on my passions: telling stories and connecting people through literature.

In 2017, I published my debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor, and romance. The sequel, Hiding Cracked Glass, released exactly three years later in 2020. I’ve also written another family drama novel, Father Figure, and created the Braxton Campus Mysteries, a light investigation series about a humorous thirty-something guy dealing with murders and the drama of a small town. I am currently co-authoring a book with a surprise writer and finalizing the next Braxton Campus Mystery, both set to be released in early to mid 2021.

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at This is my truth now, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this review from 2019. I have read the other books in the series and can highly recommend. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2019 -Broken Heart Attack (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 2) by James J. Cudney..


This is my review for Broken Heart Attack (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 2) by James J. Cudney.. from 2019.

I read and reviewed Academic Curveball the first book in the series earlier in the year which I enjoyed and I was looking forward to catching up with Kellan Ayrwick and his family and friends.

About Broken Heart Attack (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 2)

When an extra ticket becomes available to see the dress rehearsal of King Lear, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies.

When one of them dies of an apparent heart attack in the middle of second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate the death. With family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns that the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks.

But can Kellan find the killer, or will he get caught up his own stage fright?

My review for Broken Heart Attack July 2019

One of the good things about reading the second book in a series is that you are already up to speed with the main characters. This helps you slip into the story where the last one left off, with a bit of a cliffhanger for the lead character, Kellan Ayrwick, which continues to intrigue throughout this story. We get to know new players in the drama, including the leading family in the town, who have a finger in most pies, including the university and particularly the drama department. Nana D, Kellan’s grandmother has ambitions of her own, but when it comes to friendship, she will leave no stone unturned to find out the cause of her friend’s problems.

Rather she will get Kellan to leave no stone unturned, and in this case it is the suspicious death of the matriach of the Paddington family, who expires in an untimely fashion in the middle of a Shakespeare play. And what things he finds when he does lift some rocks and secrets and lies are abundant.

Add in a fiesty sheriff who likes to play hardball, his former mother-in-law making impossible demands, and a boss who would be delighted to see the back of him, and you have a fast paced mystery with plenty to keep the reader busy.

There were red herrings which is always a good thing in a mystery, nothing worse than identifying the killer in the first chapter… I had my suspicions about a few characters but only discovered my misconceptions in the last chapter of the book. Whilst the case is satisfactorily closed for most people concerned, the author has left some threads for us to follow up in the next book, Flower Power Trip, which I am looking forward to.

I do recommend that you begin with Academic Curveball so that you are up to speed with the cast members and you will then enjoy this next mystery to the full.

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

Also by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US and:  Amazon UK  – Website/Blog: This is my truth nowGoodreads: James J. Cudney – Twitter: @Jamescudney4

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I began working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment, media, retail, and hospitality industries. Although I enjoy my job, I also want to re-focus on my passions: telling stories and connecting people through literature.

In 2017, I published my debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor, and romance. The sequel, Hiding Cracked Glass, released exactly three years later in 2020. I’ve also written another family drama novel, Father Figure, and created the Braxton Campus Mysteries, a light investigation series about a humorous thirty-something guy dealing with murders and the drama of a small town. I am currently co-authoring a book with a surprise writer and finalizing the next Braxton Campus Mystery, both set to be released in early to mid 2021.

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at This is my truth now, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this review from 2019. I have since read the other books in the series and can highly recommend. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews #Anthology M.J. Mallon, #Thriller Carol Balawyder, #Mystery James J. Cudney


Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first review is for This is Lockdown by M. J. Mallon with contributions in part two from writers around the world.

About the collection

An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.

The full list of authors are:

Richard Dee, (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns, (Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,) Lynn Fraser, (Humorous Dark Comedy,) Jackie Carreira, (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring philosopher,) Willow Willers, (Poet and writer,) Sharon Marchisello, (Murder Mystery, Financial non-fiction,) Fi Phillips , (Copy writer, Author,) Jeannie Wycherley, (dark stories, suspense, horror,) Chantelle Atkins, (urban fiction, teen/YA,)Tracie Barton Barrett, (Speaker/author,) Peter Taylor Gooby, (Crime, Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal, (Chick Lit romance, poet,) Alice May , (Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen, (Reader, Blogger, Post Doctoral Researcher and Academic,) Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine Mezzacappa, (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally Cronin, (huge supporter of indie community/blogger/author) Debby Gies (D G Kaye), (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park, (Fantasy, horror, urban fantasy,) Marian Wood, (blogger, poet and writer.) Samantha Murdoch, (Writer, Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (blogger, African storyteller.).Frank Prem (Poet, Author) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger) Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val – Community Masks for The NHS .

One of the recent reviews for the anthology on Goodreads

Jul 23, 2020 Sarah Northwood rated it Five Stars

The corona virus outbreak has been a unique time for many of us, having never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. This moment is history is an opportunity for writers to help others by expressing this situation through diary entries, poetry, and fictional works. This is lockdown begins in just such a way as we take a look at diary entries from MJ Mallon, which were written in the moment and not only become a documentation of events from this author’s point of view but also a way of making sense of the turmoil encountered during this difficult time.

The book then moves on to poetry which is written by from people of different nationalities, this gives such an insight into how nations can be united in global events and in many ways highlights how experiences through this pandemic have created a unity for us all as humans.

Finally, the author offers us some excellent fictional short pieces illuminating how many of our ordinary routines were shaped and impacted by this pandemic. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to read an early copy of this book and was delighted to see the author putting this collection out into the world. A highly recommended read that I imagine readers of the future looking to.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

 Also by M. J. Mallon

M.J.Mallon, Buy:   Amazon US – And  Amazon UK Website: M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

The next review is for Carol Balawyder for her thriller Warning Signs

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jul 21, 2020 Janet Gogerty rated it Five Stars

More vivid than a television murder drama, this is an intelligent psychological thriller with the killer trying to understand why he could be tempted to kill and how he can stop himself. It is also the story anyone will recognise of young women looking for love, the dating game. Everyone is a stranger when you first meet them, when do we start trusting a person and when you begin dating someone how do you know if you are safe? A great story that kept me on edge all the way through.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Carol Balawyder

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

The final review today is for Broken Heart Attack (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 2) by James J. Cudney..

About Broken Heart Attack (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 2)

When an extra ticket becomes available to see the dress rehearsal of King Lear, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies.

When one of them dies of an apparent heart attack in the middle of second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate the death. With family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns that the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks.

But can Kellan find the killer, or will he get caught up his own stage fright?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Cecilia Salinas 5.0 out of 5 stars Great series  Reviewed in the United States on June 17, 2020

Second book in the series and it’s as enjoyable as the first one, although all the sassy comments from Nana D, the sheriff and Myriam are sometimes a bit annoying and I celebrate and cheer whenever Kellan defends himself and answers them back to stop the comments. That’s something I have always wondered, why is it okay to be sassy or bully or whatever you want to call it in books and why the character that is on the receiving end never defends himself or herself? Under the “I’m a better person flag” doesn’t work. You still need to speak up and stop the abuse. Back to the plot, I was able to solve a few plot lines but some others were a total surprise. I’ll read the next book because I want to see how the conflict between Kellan and his not-so-dead-wife Francesca gets solved.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

A selection of books by James J. Cudney

James J. Cudney buy the books: Amazon US andAmazon UK  – Website/Blog: This is my truth nowGoodreads: James J. Cudney – Twitter: @Jamescudney4

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be taking some books with you.. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Poetry Natalie Ducey, #Mystery Stevie Turner


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

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

Meet James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

A recent review for Frozen Stiff Drink

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and fast paced while retaining unique family elements  Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2020

Frozen Stiff Drink is another incredibly fast-paced and fascinating murder mystery in this great series by author, James J. Cudney. This one is even more complex as it involves three murders and a couple of close attempts so you have to pay attention and stay on your toes while reading. This book also includes a ramp up in Kellan’s relationship with law enforcer, April, despite some trials presented in the unexpected appearance of her husband, Fox Terrell, who turns out to have some unexpected relationships with the people of Wharton County, and his continued interference in her murder cases.

Kellan’s brother, Hampton, plays a bigger role in this tale and becomes involved in a lot of intrigue. He is accused of embezzlement by his father-in-law, Orin, Read, the founder of the firm where he works, and when Orin is discovered dead, Hampton is the natural suspect in the case.

Nana D, now mayor of Wharton County, but still high spirited and indefatigable in her dealings with family, friends and her constituents. Nana D goes missing during a bad snow storm and Kellan is worried about her. During his search for her he finds her car with another body inside it, but no sign of Nana D.

The story line is exciting with lots of twists and turns and the ending was clever and unexpected.

All the wonderful family elements that make this series so special are present with Kellan’s daughter, Emma, going to Disney Land with his parents and his surrogate son, Ulan. Francesca, Kellan’s on-so-dead mobster related wife who he is trying to divorce, also pops up in a threatening manner as she wants to get her hands on Emma.

James J. Cudney has a very natural style of writing and includes lots of great description in a simple and unencumbering way which does not detract from the pace of the story. I look forward to see what this author produces next.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US andAmazon UK  – Website/Blog: This is my truth nowGoodreads: James J. Cudney – Twitter: @Jamescudney4

Meet Natalie Ducey

With a BA in Psychology, Natalie has worked in the Counselling field for 15 years. Through her work and personal journey, she has witnessed the remarkable power of the human spirit. Now, as an author and poet, she is passionate about stories that touch the heart and awaken the soul. Through words, she aspires to offer solace and hope, love and understanding.

Natalie is the Co-owner and Writer of Peace by Piece Puzzles and the Owner of ND Designs.

She was born and raised in beautiful Newfoundland, Canada, with her two brothers and twin sister. She now resides in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and their little dog, Bella. She loves sailing and the freedom and serenity of being one with water. She is an avid reader, passionate writer, and seeker of tranquility along life’s mystifying journey.

One of the recent reviews for The Heart’s Lullaby

Yecheilyah 5.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful, Succinct, Honest  Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2020

The Heart’s Lullaby is the perfect title for this lovely collection of poetry about the grace and anguish of love. From the introduction, I could tell I would enjoy this book because even the intro has a poetic language about it. Embers of Love opens this heart-warming piece and will remind you of Pablo Neruda’s If You Forget Me. Anyone who has experienced the happiness and the torment of love (and not necessarily within a romantic context) will relate to this book. The author’s voice is honest, almost as if she is speaking for all of us in words few people dares to say out loud, a peaceful and comforting truth.

I enjoyed a lot of the shorter poems. Something about the depth of a short poem makes you sit back and think intensely about the words. Some of my favorite poems are Embers of Love, Summer Nights, Memories, Blessed or Cursed, Ecstasy, To My Sister, Mended Wing, and Our Place in Time. Some of my favorite verses in this collection:

“I said goodbye a thousand times
Both in whispers and screams of rage”

“When the moonlight kissed our skin
And the winds cradled us as one.”

“You’ll never see her cry
Alone she bows her head.”

“The power of a thousand suns
Delicate as morning dew
The dawn chorus of enchantment
This is my memory of you.”

“Without greed or envy
He nourished her soul.”

Read the reviews and by the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Natalie: Goodreads – Blog: Natalie Ducey  – Twitter: @NatalieDucey

Meet Stevie Turner

Stevie Turner works part time as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital and writes suspense, women’s fiction, and darkly humorous novels in her spare time. She won a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her book ‘A House Without Windows’, and one of her short stories, ‘Checking Out’, was published in the Creative Writing Institute’s 2016 anthology ‘Explain!’ Her psychological thriller ‘Repent at Leisure’ won third place in the 2016 Drunken Druid Book Award contest.

Stevie lives in the East of England, and is married with two sons and four grandchildren. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and one screenplay, ‘For the Sake of a Child’, won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival. ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017.

Some of Stevie’s books are currently being translated into German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

A selection of Stevie’s books.

A recent review for Finding David

Anita Dawes 5.0 out of 5 stars  Well written, but disturbing story…  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 March 2020

Hoping for a message from her son David, who disappeared years ago, Karen attends a Spiritual meeting with her husband, Mick. Through the medium, Karen receives a message from her son. This message shocks her and sends her on a journey of discovery, rocking the foundations of her marriage.

Her husband Mick is not a believer in these things and aggressively refuses to believe that David blames him for his death. This was a classic misunderstanding, for Mick is David’s stepfather.

Right from the beginning, I hoped the child would be found alive. I found myself wondering what I would do in those circumstances. The message would have to be convincing, like something no one else would know, for there are many so called mediums out there who prey on the vulnerable. I don’t understand what drives people to these meetings, surely it must only bring more heartache?

It was particularly distressing to witness the destruction of Karen’s marriage, although the husband’s attitude didn’t help. The author has done a brilliant job of creating a devastating story and believable characters, sometimes a little too realistic!

The medium in this story and the story itself, are remarkable, very believable, especially the effect this discovery had on the parents of the missing child. Finding David isn’t very long, but it certainly packs a punch…

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Stevie : Goodreads  blog: Stevie Turner on WordPress – Twitter: @StevieTurner6

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews #YAFantasy M.J. Mallon, #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Poetry Joyce Murphy #Childrens Bette A. Stevens


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

The first author is Marjorie Mallon with The Curse of Time : Book One – Bloodstone a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Apr 10, 2020 Darlene Foster rated it Four Stars

For someone who doesn’t usually read fantasy, this YA novel caught my interest. The teenage characters in the book are very real with typical issues such as lack of confidence, jealousy, confusion, parental disagreements, and volatile friendships. Amelina comes from a dysfunctional family with a paranormal twist. If she can figure out the curse, perhaps her family could be happy once more. In her quest, she meets a self-harming girl locked in a mirror, a heartthrob boy with a mean side, a cottage full of amazing crystals and an old woman with sage advice.

I like that the story is based on a real clock, the Corpus Chronophage clock, in Cambridge, England. (Chronophage means time-eater). There is some time travel in the story, which I love. There’s a lot happening in this very descriptive book and not everything is explained. But that is because it is the first book in a series. I look forward to reading more about Amelina and her quirky friends.

Read the reviews and buy the book:Amazon US

And:Amazon UK

Also by M. J. Mallon

Read the other reviews and buy the book:Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Follow M.J. Mallon on: Goodreads

Connect to Marjorie Mallon via her website: M.J. Mallon

The next author with a recent review is James J. Cudney for his latest release Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6)

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

One of the recent reviews for the book

L. Higgins 5.0 out of 5 stars  Perfect Title  Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2020

Both clues and motives for murder abound in Frozen Stiff Drink, the latest addition to James J. Cudney’s Braxton Campus Mystery Series. With each book, I think the plot threads can’t get more tangled than in the previous books, but they do! With a cast of characters that will intrigue you, draw you in, and evoke strong reactions, this cozy mystery will provide you with all the distraction you need during this time of shelter in place.

Kellan has a history of finding dead bodies since he returned to Wharton County; but his girlfriend, Sheriff April Montague, has finally begun to accept that he doesn’t go looking for trouble. With the series’ usual large number of characters, this book holds a challenge when trying to sort through the many relationships, but the author helps out with a list of characters including their connections to other characters.

I enjoyed Frozen Stiff Drink all the way to the conclusion where my jaw dropped as the many plot threads were resolved, and several new issues dramatically appeared beckoning me into delightful anticipation of the next installment in the series.

Read the reviews and buy the book:Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

Connect to James via his blog: This is my Truth Now

Now Joyce Murphy with a review for her debut poetry collection Inner Rumblings: Poems to Give My Inner Self a Voice, the Self I Call Joycie Reilly

About the collection

Inner Rumblings is a collection of poems about life, about courage, and about emotion. Whether you are looking for the courage to keep going when your heart is breaking, the inspiration to follow your dreams or a feeling of ‘someone else has been here too,’ these poems offer an open invitation to share joys, struggles, loves and pain with you.

The poems are expressed through Joycie Reilly, the name the author gives to her inner self – the self that speaks honestly about her battles with social anxiety and self-approval – the self that is searching for acceptance in a cold and turbulent world.

But despite her struggles, Joycie Reilly continues her journey through life, experiencing feelings of great happiness and great pain along the way. And her hope for you the reader is this, that in knowing her journey, you may better come to understand your own.

The book is divided into 10 lifecycles – each lifecycle presenting a separate set of poems relevant to the age and circumstances of the author. The lifecycles span over a 30 year period beginning with Early Teens and ending with Coming Home.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly relative  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 March 2020

I don’t usually buy poetry books online but I liked the description of this book, I was not disappointed. The poems are incredibly moving and I found it interesting to see the style and voice of the poems evolve over time. There are little story lines before each segment/lifecycle explaining the motivation behind each set of poems and how they relate to the author’s life.

I would recommend this book to a variety of ages and personalities as there is a segment/lifestyle in it for everyone. I think young adults would also find this book very relatable and helpful with dealing with issues of social anxiety and mental health. Being a romantic at heart these poems spoke to me. I also related to the rawness of the poems in the section My Mother Myself which were about grief and loss. But if you take the book as a whole, I think my favourite is ‘The Phoenix’ which appears at the beginning and end of the book, a poem which promises that no matter in our lives we can pick ourselves up and fly free.

Read the reviews and follow Joyce: Amazon UK

And:Amazon US

Read reviews and follow Joyce: Goodreads

Connect to Joyce via her blog: Joycie Reilly Poetry

Bette A. Stevens has her children’s book Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale on offer April 21st – April 24th  at 99c/99p as it is Earth Day on April 22nd and as the Monarch butterfly is an endangered species it is an opportunity to draw attention to its plight.

About  Amazing Matilda

(Ages 4-11 + grownups love it too) Friendship, patience and persistence are among the lessons learned in this gem of a tale featuring an amazing monarch butterfly.

This award-winning picture book adventure follows the monarch butterfly’s life cycle as Matilda embarks on a quest to make her dream of flying come true. Matilda emerges from her egg on a milkweed leaf—she stretches and yawns and knows she wants to fly. Sparrow tells her to follow her dreams. Toad and Rabbit laugh at a creature without wings who wants to fly. You’ll be as amazed as Toad and Rabbit are as you follow Matilda from egg to imago. Science, art and wise lessons for children—all wrapped up in a tale the kids will want to read/hear again and again!

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jan 19, 2020 Patricia Furstenberg rated it Five Stars

“Amazing Matilda” is one of those special, unforgettable books that are a captivating story AND a wonderful message blend into an attractive format.

Through Matilda’s adventures, children will absorb a valuable lesson: that patience and self-belief are important in achieving one’s dreams and that if you wish for something and try hard enough, you will succeed.

“Amazing Matilda” is an enchanting book that belongs on any child’s bookshelf.
An enchanting book that belongs on any child’s bookshelf.

Read the reviews and buy the book April 21st- 24th at 99c: Amazon US

And at 99p: Amazon UK

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Bette: Goodreads

Connect to Bette A. Stevens via her blog:  4 Writers and Readers

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books to add to your reading list.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Familydrama Mary Crowley, #Cyberpunk/Scifi C.S. Boyack


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

The first author with a recent review is James J. Cudney for his latest release Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6)

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reader Editor 5.0 out of 5 stars Kellan’s Incredible Life Inadvertently Solving Mysteries Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020

In this 6th book of the Braxton Campus cozy mystery series, the author brings another character to the front of the action. Madam Zeyna predicts some occurrences in Kellan’s future that may be insurmountable. Once again, Cudney’s ability to portray his characters made me smile. While we envision Madame Zeyna – we know exactly how she may look – Cudney focuses on her personality and how she fits into the action.

Kellan’s grandmother, the feisty and wise Nana D goes missing. By the way, she is one of my favorite characters in this entire series. Cudney has created a spunky older woman we all might like to be when we age. Kellan is on overload searching for her while also solving the murder of a prominent Braxton citizen the has the town in near lock down. Then there is his tempestuous liaison with the Deputy Sheriff, April, which is becoming a solid relationship, but both have different duties, and this always tears at their relationship. As this series moves along, we watch the characters grow and learn life’s lessons. An air of mystery shadows this story and I feel it may run into the next story, though all the stories in this series are stand-along if you wish to read them that way.

Cudney builds an exciting story around these events, with occurrences and surprises we don’t see coming. As with all his stories, he ends this one with a superb cliffhanger. The story finishes nicely, but now we know there will be another soon.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

Connect to James via his blog: This is my Truth Now

The next author is Mary Crowley and a review for her second novel Under a Dark Cloud

About the book

Under a Dark Cloud is a grippingly emotional story of shattered dreams, haunting nightmares and bitter memories. Kelly Henderson wants reprieve to emerge from Under the Dark Cloud that shrouds her life.

Kelly Henderson returns to Bunreen, a small town nestled in the South East of Ireland, weeks after her husband’s tragic death, wanting to re-establish a relationship with her mother and sister. However, as the taxi approaches her old home, she is harshly reminded of the night her mother Lorraine banished her to live with her father in Scotland, when she was only fifteen years of age.

Kelly’s’ heart is heavy and her grief raw, but she must keep strong as she soon discovers there are more secrets within the family. While Lorraine’s indifference to her pain gives renewed determination to right the wrongs of the past and prove she had not been lying about what had happened to her as a teenager. A wrongdoing that led to the breakdown of her marriage and in Kelly’s mind, inevitably caused her husband’s death. It’s time to take back control and get the reprieve she deserves.

Nessa Quinlan has a simple but happy life with her devoted husband Liam; however, her life is turned upside-down when her estranged brother contacts her to say he is dying of cancer. Nessa had broken all ties with Donald after he had killed a local teenager in a road accident showing no remorse.

Kind-hearted, Nessa becomes his carer which concerns her family and best friend Clodagh, but Nessa has more to contend with than the disagreeable Donald, with ghosts from her past threatening to cloud her happiness, which in turn puts a strain on her marriage. This is not helped by Donald refusing medical treatment until one day Kelly arrives on their doorstep as his new Health Nurse.

Can Nessa save her marriage? Does Kelly hold the answers to Nessa’s problems, or will her presence bring further recriminations?

Under a Dark Cloud is Mary Crowley’s second Novel following her Debut A Sweet Smell of Strawberries, a heart wrenching tale of a mother’s loss when her son, a talented athlete is killed.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Feb 26, 2020 Joyce Murphy rated it Five Stars

The intrinsic set of secondary characters drawn from Waterford city create a suspense right from the start. Irish drama coming to life with a rich set of colorful characters, flawed in their own way but with very big hearts. A lovely companion book any time you want to sit down, grab a coffee and treat yourself to this special story.

I have just started reading ‘A Sweet Smell of Strawberries’ the authors first book and even after the first few pages, I am already hooked.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Mary Crowley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Mary on: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her blog/website: Mary Crowley WordPress

The final author today is C.S. Boyack with a review for his Cyberpunk/Scifi Grinders.

About the book

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again: No one has a wilder and more fertile imagination than C. S. Boyack. His latest release is so packed full of entertainment, it boggles the mind! And the world-building is beyond creative. Holy Moly! This vision of an all-too-possible future is engrossing, funny, frightening, and compelling, all at the same time. And oh, yeah—about the story. It works to perfection as well. Take some cool characters, an interesting antagonist, and a few fun critters being taught wild and crazy skills, stir well, and what do you get? Grinders! A book that’s an all-around treat to read.

Although this was my first foray into cyberpunk, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I felt as though I were doing a “country bumpkin” walk through this futuristic cityscape, my mouth hanging open every step of the way. I highly recommend you take that walk, too. You’ll be glad you did.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A small selection of other books by C.S. Boyack

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

AndAmazon UK

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

Connect to Craig via his blog: Cold Hand Boyack

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

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves #Pre-Order for March 18th – Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6) by James J. Cudney


Congratulations to James J. Cudney on the upcoming release of Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6) – On Pre-Order at $2.56/£1.99 for March 18th

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

Head over to pre-order the book $2.56: Amazon US

And £1.99: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

One of the recent reviews for Watching Glass Shatter

Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2020

This is not your average run-of-the-mill story. There is no serial killer, no kidnappings, no amnesia victims, no dreadful nanny, no terrorists, etc. This is a sobering story about a deceased husband exchanging his dead baby in the hospital nursery with that of a healthy infant many years ago and leaving a letter for his widow detailing the facts, to be opened upon his death. Upon opening the letter it is now up to Olivia to discover which of her 5 sons is not really her biological child, and thus the story begins. The five sons, Teddy, Zach, Matt, Caleb and Ethan are all holding secrets of their own. Throughout the book we delve into the lives of Olivia and her 5 sons, hoping for a happy ending. The only complaint I have is the use of wanna and gonna, as I feel adults would use the proper wording of want to and going to. Also, I feel proper punctuation was lacking throughout the book, as too many commas were omitted when needed in sentences. Other than that, I loved the story, as it was very original and out-of-the-box, and a breath of fresh air in this era of stagnant, copy-cat novels.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

About James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

Connect to James

BlogThis is my Truth Now
Facebook: This is My Truth Now
Twitter: @Jamescudney4
LinkedIn: James Cudney

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the word about the release of the new Braxton Campus Mystery.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Review – #Family #Mystery – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney


The first book review for the year is for the family drama Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney. Having enjoyed the books in the Braxton Campus Series, I was looking forward to reading the first of the author’s books, and was not disappointed.

About the book

After 40 years of marriage, Olivia’s husband unexpectedly passes away. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers.

Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father. But will the secrets destroy their family, or bring them closer together?

My review for the book.

Another excellent read from author James J. Cudney.

For anyone coming from a large sized family this book will only confirm that brothers and sisters, and sometimes our parents, don’t share everything with us as they tend to operate on a need to know basis. Especially as we don’t necessarily reveal every side to our nature when it might go against other people’s expectations of us, real or imagined.

There are five brothers all grieving the untimely death of their father, all with different emotions about their connection to him and also their mother Olivia. On the surface Olivia is elegant with a perfect home and life laid out meticulously, leaving her sons with a sense of coolness and detachment, despite her own way of showing her love for them. This has forced some of them to keep secrets from her in case of upsetting the status quo. From what we hear about their father Ben, he was much more attuned to the events in their lives even if he might not have acknowledged their choices whilst alive.

Whilst dealing with her own grief at the loss of the love of her life, Olivia now is faced with a dilemma about how she handles the secret she has now been made aware of. Which one of her sons is not the one she gave birth to? And how can she forgive her husband Ben for his actions and for leaving her to clear up the mystery on her own. Sensibly she decides to spend time with all of her sons before reaching a decision, and in doing so uncovers other truths she was unaware of, some of which are hurtful and some devastating.

For me Olivia is well crafted central and complex character, with what appears to be a coldness, but which is really a facade hiding a doubts about her abilities of a mother and her perceptions of how she is regarded by the society she has grown up within. Throughout the story we watch as she dismantles this facade to reveal the warmer and more genuine person beneath.

We also get to know each of the sons in turn discovering their secrets and their misconceptions about how they will be received. It shows what most of us know, that much of the time we misjudge how others are going to react, projecting our fear onto them. Usually we find they already know and have accepted the situation without judgement.

There is much miscommunication to sort out and James Cudney does this very well, with understanding and compassion as well as a realistic view about family life and relationships. There is tragedy ahead but that too brings another element to the story that strengthens the bonds between the brothers and their mother.

This process is facilitated by another well developed character, Olivia’s sister Diane, childless and recently divorced, and who is an impartial, loving, non-judgemental sounding board for both her sister and her nephews as they re-establish their connection to each other and mysteries are revealed.

I came away from reading the story with a renewed sense of appreciation of my own family, as I realised how easy it is as we grow older to detach ourselves from the lives of those close to us, only sharing what we think they might want to hear, instead of who we really are.

I recommend Watching Glass Shatter to anyone who enjoys well written family sagas with the mystery at the heart of the story, skillfully kept hidden until the last pages.

There are over 150 excellent reviews for the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Discover more about James J. Cudney – read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

About James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

Connect to James via his blog This is my Truth Now

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will head over to discover more about James J. Cudney and his books. Thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Reviews #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher, Children Annika Perry, #Romance Harmony Kent


Since the middle of November I have featured all the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with a recent review and since we have a few days left, I will now share more up to date reviews that have been posted.

The first book is for book one of The Braxton Campus Mysteries (one of my recommendations for 2019) Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney.

About the book

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement, he finds a body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father, and someone attempts to change students’ grades. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up.

With the help of his eccentric nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. But who killed Professor Abby Monroe?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Academic Curveball is the second book I’ve read by James J. Cudney and the first of his Braxton Campus cozy mysteries. Having enjoyed his first novel, the standalone family saga Watching Glass Shatter, I was curious to see how he would handle a cozy mystery. I wasn’t disappointed. The characters in Academic Curveball were all well portrayed. I especially liked Kellan, the main character, a widower with a young daughter who was called home for his father’s retirement party as president of Braxton College. Upon his return, Kellan who is currently working for Dark Realities, a television reality crime show, plans to meet Professor Abby Monroe who has material for the second season of his show after his father’s party. Unfortunately, he never gets to do so because Abby’s dead body is found during the party by his father’s assistant Lorraine Candito.

A number of people, some close to Kellan including his own father, are suspects in Abby’s murder, but the murder weapon is missing along with two other items, one that was intended as a gift to Kellan. The motive is believed to have involved the changing of a grade for an athlete so he can compete in a game that a college scout will attend. But when another murder occurs and they find the possible weapon hidden in Kellan’s father’s desk, Kellan has even more reason to solve the case despite the warnings by the town’s female sheriff who refers to him as “Little Arywick.”

Aided by his sassy grandmother, Nana D. and his old school friend Connor who is dating both his sister Eleanor and his college girlfriend Maggie, Kellan sets out to find the person responsible for the murders. Although I had a funny feeling about the character who the killer ended up being, I didn’t know the identity of the murderer until it was unveiled . . . and then it all made sense. What surprised me even more was the cliffhanger at the end of the book that was totally unexpected. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but I love double twists. This one was done exceptionally well. I can’t wait to read the second book where it should be explained. My only criticism of this book was that the plethora of characters were introduced close together which made it somewhat difficult to keep them all straight initially. Otherwise, I highly recommend this series to those who like academic settings, a variety of interesting characters including a male protagonist, and cozy mysteries with lots of subplots and twists.

In addition to being a talented writer, Cudney also has a terrific WordPress blog called This is My Truth Now.

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

Connect to James via his blogThis is my Truth Now

And the next book to receive a recent review is the memoir by Brigid P. Gallagher that shares her experiences and also strategies to overcome chronic illness in Watching for the Daisies.

About the book

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

  • The busy life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating disease
  • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms
  • Entering a new life of SLOW

Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety of self help techniques and lifestyle changes. She also unearths a love of solo travel including Egypt, India, Rome, Lourdes, Carcassonne and Bali…

Brigid learns many insights about LIFE on her journey, the most valuable being: “First learn to love thyself.”

In 2006, she began a new career in Organic Horticulture eventually teaching part time in schools. Although she has now retired from teaching, she continues to pursue her lifelong passion for gardening and watching the daisies.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Balroop Singh 4.0 out of 5 stars Exudes positivity December 17, 2019

Watching the Daisies by Brigid P. Gallagher is an autobiography that recounts various experiences of dealing with grief, depression and healing through spirituality, natural medicine and self help techniques like electro-crystal healing and color therapy. She even obtained a diploma in Electro-crystal Healing and color therapy that she acquired at the International Association of Color Therapists. I am amazed at how much a person could learn in one life time despite the misfortunes that she had faced and how much could she absorb in the name of faith in crystals, feathers, feng shui and herbs! The traditional healing methods were put together by her to deal with her mental and physical pain.

Brigid’s story exemplifies how life flows and passes by if we accept its trails and change our direction accordingly. On the way she became stronger and discovered her true self. Her love for music, travel and gardening kept her spirits high. Written in a detached style, without any emotional touches despite the distress that she keeps to herself, she doesn’t pause to dwell on her misery. She conveys many profound lessons in a subtle way – be positive and face life boldly.

Read the rest of the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

and at:  Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Brigid on : Goodreads

Connect to Brigid via her blog: Watching the Daisies

And now the lovely children’s book by Annika Perry.  Perfect for 3 – 6 year olds – Oskar’s Quest.

About the book

Oskar is afraid of adventures. Yet one day he finds himself on a mysterious island which needs his help.Join Oskar on this unexpected and magnificent quest, where he finds not only courage but so much more…“It’s light, extremely enjoyable and very gripping.” Esther Chilton – author & editor.Perfect for ages 3 to 6.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Annika Perry has produced a children’s book that totally captured my heart. I have fallen in love with Oskar, who on his brave pursuit finds courage of heart and acts With bravery that bewilders himself. He is the Star but there are other wonderful and strong charachters there.

And we mustn’t forget about the frightening Drang who in the end totally surprises us all. Any child – or grown up child will fall for him too in the end.

Let us fly with Oskar on his magnificent quest. Annika doesn’t disappoint, there is gold dust on every page as the story develops.

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

And: Amazon US

Also by Annika Perry

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Annika: Goodreads

Connect to Annika via her blog: Annika Perry

The reviews are in for award winning author Harmony Kent. for her Christmas release– Oh Baubles: A Christmas Romance Novella.

About Oh Baubles

After a tragic accident one Christmas, Charlene loses her husband and her leg.

Scarred and damaged, the losses leave her lost and reeling, and a long recovery lies ahead of her.

When John, a hot young physiotherapist, comes into her life with his ripped abs and good-god good-looks, she can’t imagine he’d give somebody like her a second glance.

Then she falls for him.

Can Charlene overcome all obstacles to gain back her life and find true love once more?

Find out in this fun-filled, clean Christmas romance novella from award-winning author Harmony Kent.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Mae Clair 5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and Lovely! December 10, 2019

This is a short, enchanting story sure to warm the heart. Charlene, a young widow, requires physical therapy due to a tragic accident in her past. She feels an immediate connection with John, her PT, but can’t believe he’d spare a second glance for her. Although this is a romantic story, I really enjoyed seeing the progression in Charlene’s character from beginning to end. The author delivered that change—and the build up of romance—in a believable manner. Watching Charlene transform as the book progresses is like watching a beautiful butterfly emerge from a cocoon. With its holiday setting, Oh, Baubles makes a charming novella for the holidays, but it will leave you with a warm feeling any time of year. Lovely!

A selection of other books by Harmony Kent.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Harmony: Goodreads

Connect to Harmony via her website: Harmony Kent

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