Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Poetry Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath, #Supernaturalthriller Mae Clair, #Poetry Miriam Hurdle


The first book with a recent review is for poetry lovers  Roads: A Journey With Verses – Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath

About Roads

“Roads” is a poetic rendezvous that takes the reader on a panoramic journey, making one pause, ponder and celebrate life.

The book is a light, alluring read that instantly strikes a chord and elevates one’s spirits. A trove of 60 poems, it is quilled with beads of nine virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Love, Hope, Strength, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude. The verses encapsulate life’s ebbs and flows while prompting the reader to enjoy its simple pleasures.

“Roads” is a book that you would want to keep on your bedside, for a quiet read before retiring for the night or for the morning wisdom to seize the day. With poems revolving around emotions that each of us experiences, “Roads” very easily develops a personal connect with the reader that is defiantly refreshing.

“Roads” is a journey with verses. Take it on yours.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Roads: A Journey With Verses’ by Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath is a brilliant collection of poems that talk about life, love and the paths that mold us, values that mentor us, and pay a tribute to the persons who hold our hand through turbulent times to make our journey smoother.

In perfect sync with each other, Smitha’s tenderness is complemented by the exquisite style of Vandana who lashes out at societal norms that fetter us to the threshold, trying to slash our wings to compress us into compartments. Bold and chilling, her poems question the dogma, the exploitation and injustice that have been meekly accepted in the name of parochial diktats. Raising voice against subjugation, she calls upon shedding “the mask” and “darn the rules.”

One of my favorites, ‘Writer vs. Woman’ validates the power that lies dormant within the so-called fragile woman who proudly declares: “Do I need a better armor when words are my defense?” Realism percolates through their words as they capture a thousand emotions with élan. ‘Miss You When You’re Gone’ touches the most precious memories of letting go and break free from the stifling love that lingers despite the pride of watching our children soar toward the horizon of their choice. All mothers could relate to the pangs embedded within the words of Smitha.

For a person like me who values emotions and relationships, these poems are heart-warming. Along with tender moments of nurturing love and trust, self-belief, determination and courage stand out to reassure that there is no need to be swayed by the age-old traditions of embracing the defined roles. These poems would tug at your heart; stirring a thousand moments that stand and smile at you, reassuring that roads of life may be arduous yet shimmer with hope and happiness.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Connect to Vandana via her blog: My Feelings My Freedom

Smitha V

Connect to Smitha via her Blog: Life a Teacher

The next author with recent reviews for her latest release is Mae Clair for Eventide (A Hode’s Hill Novel Book 3)

About Eventide

The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Tripower53 VINE VOICE – 4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice addition to the series January 4, 2020

This book is an excellent addition to the series.

Madison Hewitt witnessed the stabbing death of her husband some time ago. She has now declared herself recovered and a bought an old house in an isolated spot in Pennsylvania.

But all is not well in her new house. There are noises – and that cistern in the basement!!

This story move back and forth between the present and the 1890’s. Something very bad happened back then and the old house has held on to it.

Tension ratchets up as the story goes along. Ms. Clair is a fantastic writer. Her stories are filled with reality. That is to say, the reader could almost believe that the events are really happening. The book is remarkably well written and plotted. One event follows another in a logical progression. The characters are colorful and likable – for the most part. I liked Madison, her slightly psychic sister and her new beau. Well done, Ms. Clair! More please.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and on: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Mae Clair

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Mae on: Goodreads

Connect to Mae via her website: Mae Clair

The next book is an award winning poetry collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude written by Miriam Hurdle.

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

A recent review for the collection

Jan 02, 2020 H.R.R. Gorman rated it Five Stars


As I read through many of these poems, I had a feeling like I was reading the book of Psalms. Miriam is a fitting Psalmist, I’d say – her zest for life and ability to see the Creator in all things is admirable and amazing. Reading this book made me feel like I was intimately connected with he author.

And Miriam Hurdle, I dare say, is someone everyone should know.

If you enjoy poetry or want to be inspired, this is a great set of poetry. I read the poems one or two a day (sometimes I’d cheat) and try to soak them in. I don’t know if this is the way I was supposed to enjoy it, but I think it worked for me.

Also a hint: there are some photos in this. I can’t comment too much on them because I have an old Kindle that didn’t show them in good quality. If you want full effect, go f

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read reviews and follow Miriam: Goodreads

Connect to Miriam via her website: The Showers of Blessings

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with a book or two under your arm..thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Writers Denise O’Hagan, #Familydrama Christa Polkinhorn, #Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #Thriller Iain Kelly, #Writers Harmony Kent


Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first book which would make a great gift for writers is by editor Denise O’Hagan. Mini Style Guide: An Introduction to Good Writing and Manuscript Presentation

About the guide

An easy-to-use guide for writers, editors and students

The Mini Style Guide covers the fundamentals of good writing and explains how to present a manuscript for publication. It is written in a direct and accessible manner suitable for all ages and backgrounds, and assumes no prior knowledge of the writing trade or the publishing industry. Explanations are accompanied by plentiful ‘real life’ examples, and each chapter opens with a humorous quotation. The book consists of three parts.

Part 1 covers the essence of good writing, both factual and non-factual. It covers the principles of Plain English; words that are often misused or misspelled; and common grammatical and punctuation errors. Differences between Australian, British and American English are explored; inclusive writing is defined; and copyright law as it applies to writers is clarified.

Part 2 explains the technicalities of how to present a manuscript. It examines the advantages and disadvantages of working exclusively on computer and working partly on hard copy; outlines the structure of a manuscript and the order of its various components; and explains how to compile a contents page to reflect the heading hierarchy. It explains how to treat quotations, lists, abbreviations and numbers; offers advice on presenting illustrations, tables, charts and graphs; and discusses bibliographical material and indexes.

Part 3 explores possible publishing avenues; that is, commercial publishers, literary agents and self-publishing. It defines the role of each; explains which one is best suited to which type of writing; and includes advice on how to write a synopsis, select sample chapters and draft a covering letter.

The Appendix contains templates of standard forms and letters that can be photocopied and tailored to suit individual needs.
The Glossary contains commonly used terms to do with writing, publishing and printing.
The Bibliography contains sources used and recommended.
Foreword by Robert Fairhead, book reviewer at Writing NSW.

One of the reviews for the guide 

Reading about style is about the last thing an aspiring writer would want to read about. But for the serious writer, reading and studying style guides are essential to the craft. This style guide was clearly and succinctly written with plenty of examples to make the medicine go down easily! I recommend this book for both the new writer and the seasoned veteran.

Read the reviews and buy the guide: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Connect to Denise via her website: Black Quill Press

The next author with a wonderful selection of books that make wonderful gifts is Christa Polkinhorn and the featured book is The Italian Sister (The Wine Lover’s Daughter Book 1).

About the book

Standing at her father’s grave in California, Sofia Laverne mourns his untimely death. Henry had not only been a loving parent but Sofia’s best friend and mentor. Imagine her shock and grief when she finds out her father had lived a double-life, that she has a ten-year younger sister and inherited a vineyard in Tuscany. Torn between anger about his betrayal, grief for her loss, and hopeful anticipation, Sofia packs her bags and takes off for Italy to meet fourteen-year old Julietta. Arriving in the small hill town of Vignaverde, she is greeted by olive groves, neat rows of grape vines, and picturesque houses. Some of the inhabitants of this beautiful estate are, unfortunately, less welcoming and resent her intrusion into the family business. Soon, strange occurrences begin to frighten Sofia. When a suspicious accident lands her in the hospital, Sofia fears for her life.

Part family drama, part romantic suspense, THE ITALIAN SISTER takes us on a wild journey from California to Tuscany and provides glimpses into the exciting world of winemaking.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Brigitte & Karen 5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner!! August 25, 2019

Not only is this a fascinating family drama, the combination of wine and mystery is absolutely perfect. From California to Tuscany, this book is a page turner! Even if you are a true wine expert, you’ll learn so much more about Italian wines. Christa Polkinhorn’s descriptions of the Tuscany landscape will make you want to go to Italy tomorrow!

A Selection of other books by Christa Polkinhorn

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Christa : Goodreads

Connect to Christa via her blog: Christa Polkinhorn

The next book is an award winning poetry collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude written by Miriam Hurdle. The collection has just won the solo “Medalist Winner” in the Poetry category of the 2019 New Apple Summer eBook Awards!

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

A recent review for the collection

I was gifted Miriam’s book during a particularly tough season of life, with my tiny baby in the NICU. Slowly reading through Miriam’s poetry brought peace and calmness to my heart. Her wisdom, faith, hope and inspiration comes through in each poem.

Given the season of life I was in, I found myself going back to the poem “ Beautiful Tiny Baby” over and over. Knowing the wonderful woman of faith that Miriam’s beautiful tiny baby has grown into not only brought me an amazing comfort that I am grateful for, but also reminded me that Miriam’s faith and hope is intimately woven into her – inspiring me to do the same for mine each day.

No matter what season of life you are in, this is a book you can read over and over again, and find wisdom, hope and inspiration.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read reviews and follow Miriam: Goodreads

Connect to Miriam via her website: The Showers of Blessings

The next book is for thriller lovers by Iain Kelly – State Of Denial (The State Trilogy Book 2).

About State of Denial.

Election time in The State, the citizens prepare to vote. A journalist from the Capital City heads north to report on growing resistance to the powerful ruling Party. An ex-police detective returns to the City he once fled. Together they become entangled in a burgeoning opposition movement. Soon they learn the Party will do whatever it takes to remain in power, and one life is all it takes to spark a revolution.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Ms. Laurie J. Bell 5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific book two October 15, 2019

A very well done book two. State of Denial picks up a few years after A Justified State and is set in the same near future world. It introduces a new character, Maxine Aubert, to the familiar cast. Max is a journalist who becomes drawn into the impossible rebellion against the all powerful State. Our favorite character, Danny, is now living in the wilderness, having escaped the all controlling city after the events of Book One. He is forced back to the city and once there becomes entangled once again in city politics, the election and the machinations of an ex-spy he once thought of as a friend.

This is an easy series to get drawn into. Well written, the plot flows effortlessly through it like the river though the city. Danny is a well developed character and Max’s introduction is a joyful contribution to the story of intrigue and the makings of a civil war. The futuristic elements of the setting are cleverly thought through and easy to imagine. The concept of a government state doing everything in its power to keep control of its citizens is a frightful yet realistic theme.

A gripping sci fi that is a little bit horrifying and a lot entertaining.

Also by Iain Kelly

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Iain:  Goodreads

Connect to Iain on his website: Iain Kelly Writing

And finally today another book for writers from Harmony Kent

Creative Solutions for the  Modern Writer…Inspirational tools to fire your imagination.

About the book

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer is the perfect gift for the writer in your life.

Do you want to be an author? Are you struggling to find inspiration? Do you ever find it difficult to put words on the page? Or are you simply looking for novel ideas? If so, then this book is for you.

This little guide will help you unlock your story ideas and fire your imagination. The text covers things such as writing from various prompts, to using Chess, Tarot, and even nursing Triage (and much more) for developing your characters, story, and plot.

From the award-winning author of Polish Your Prose: Essential Self-Editing Tips for Authors—an excellent companion text—Creative Solutions focuses on the creative side of writing rather than the technical.

This book gives you the tools you need to make writing fun, as well as tips and techniques on creating characters and stories that will stay with you and your readers forever.

Crammed with easy-to understand examples, this guide is for writers of every genre—both fiction and non-fiction, literary, and commercial. But most of all, it’s about having fun and making friends with your muse.

A recent review for the book

While not necessary, you really should read Ms. Kent’s dystopian novel, Fallout first. It’s not required, but it would help you understand when she outlines her method of preparing to write a story. (BTW, I did read and enjoy, ‘Fallout.’)

While I am a 15% planner/85% ‘pantser’ writer, I’ve seen a lot of methods of setting up a novel outline. Ms. Kent gives the reader several different approaches for those who ‘think differently’ than others do. In high school and college, I took several various chemistry courses, but still had a problem understanding the Periodic Table of Elements. In my fifth chemistry course, an instructor said something that opened my eyes, and suddenly the chart made perfect sense.

In a ‘how-to’ book to plan a novel, I never thought I read about ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,’ a month-long topic in one of my psychology courses being used to explain plot development. Interesting concept!

At the end of this story, Ms. Kent lists many useful tools and how to get them. If you are a beginning author, those tools alone are worth the money for the book.

While I’ll never be a ‘planner,’ I will put some of these concepts to use. I’ve always started with a premise, a basic idea of where I was going, and an ending. All I had to do, then was to use my premise and work my way to my conclusion. It’s worked for me. Harmony’s information will influence my next novel. Thank you!

A selection of other books by Harmony Kent.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: 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.