Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair 2022 – #Prehistoric #Adventure Jacqui Murray, #Psychological #Thriller Terry Tyler, #PostWar #Russia Marina Osipova

Welcome to the Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair with a selection of books from personally recommended authors on my bookshelf I believe will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and for you.

The first book today is the third book in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy by Jacqui Murray. I can highly recommend Natural Selection (Dawn of Humanity Book 3)

About the book

In this final book of the trilogy, Lucy and her tribe leave their good home to rescue captured tribemembers who are in grave danger. Since leaving her mate, Lucy created a tribe that includes an eclectic mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium kit, and different iterations of early man. More will join and some will die but that is the nature of prehistoric life, when survival depends on a mix of man’s developing intellect and untiring will to live. Each brings unique skills to the task of saving Raza and his Group from sure death. Based on true events from 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

One of the reviews for the book

The final book of the Dawn of Humanity series ends on a positive note though I suspect that Lucy’s story of survival in the prehistoric world will continue to be riddled with danger and challenges. As the title suggests, not all the branches of primitive mankind will survive and those who do will depend on their ability to develop new skills and think strategically.

The plot is straightforward with two main threads. The first is Lucy and her group’s continuing search for a sustainable homebase. The second is their plan to rescue past members of her tribe from Man-who-preys before they become so weak from hunger that they’re killed. Lucy is the main character, but not the only point of view, and other characters are frequently brought to the forefront. These include her two-legged group members as well as those with four.

Murray’s research continues to add depth and realism to the read, and I found it as fascinating as I did in the first book. Our ancestors had it tough, and their lives were intricately entwined with the world around them. I appreciated that Murray didn’t spare our modern sensibilities. Grooming bugs from each other’s skin, eating rotten meat, and “fear poop” aren’t very glamorous, but they added to the authenticity of the story. Her word choices—to describe the harsh environment, its rhythms and wild creatures, and the nature and skill of each member of her diverse group—bring life on Earth 1.8 million years ago into vivid relief.

For readers who enjoy a meticulously researched primitive world and the remarkable challenges faced by our evolutionary ancestors, I highly recommend this series. It’s fascinating. 

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

A selection of books by Jacqui Murray

Discover more about Jacqui Murray and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter: @WordDreams

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Terry Tyler and my review of this psychological thriller… Where There’s Doubt.

About the book

‘I can be anything you want me to be. Even if you don’t know you want it. Especially if you don’t know you want it.’

Café owner Kate is mentally drained after a tough two years; all she wants from her online chess partner is entertainment on lonely evenings, and maybe a little virtual flirtation.

She is unaware that Nico Lewis is a highly intelligent con artist who, with an intricately spun web of lies about their emotional connection, will soon convince her that he is The One.

Neither does Kate know that his schemes involve women who seek love on dating sites, as well as his small publishing business. A host of excited authors believe Nico is about to make their dreams come true.

Terry Tyler’s twenty-fourth publication is a sinister psychological drama that highlights the dark side of internet dating—and the danger of ignoring the doubts of your subconscious.

One of the reviews for Where There’s Doubt

Four rich and lonely women fall for the not unsubstantial charms of the thoroughly obnoxious and narcissistic Nico Lewis. Nico is only after one thing… money. He manages to divide his time between all four ladies, promising love and eternal devotion. If he’s not sorting out wedding plans or taking Polly, Kate, Heather and Minerva (separately of course) around the mansion where he proposes they shall live (of course he needs ‘help’ to fund a deposit), then he’s duping wannabe authors into believing he runs Curlew Publishing, a vanity press whereby authors pay money up front and then seemingly wait forever for their book to be published.

This book is very well written and told from multiple perspectives. When women like Kate, Polly, Heather and Minerva are lonely and isolated and then somebody like Nico comes along, wooing them with charm and the promise of eternal devotion, then they believe any lie they are told because they are looking for love and are gullible.

The four women all deal with the fallout of Nico’s activities in different ways, making this book very readable and quite a page-turner. I read until the very last page as I was interested in how things would turn out. I found Nico to be the most reprehensible person with no redeeming features at all, but then again that’s because of Ms Tyler’s writing skills. 

Read the reviews and buy the bookAmazon UKAnd: Amazon US

A small selection of other books by Terry Tyler


Find out more about Terry Tyler and buy the books:Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Terry Tyler: GoodreadsBlog: Terry Tyler Blogspot – Twitter:@TerryTyler4

The last book today is by Marina Osipova – Push Me Off a Cliff a novel set in post war Russia when wounds and loss are still dominant in the minds of the survivors.

About the book

March of 1948. Three years have passed since the Great Patriotic War ended in victory, disposing into the streets of the destroyed and hungry cities and villages brave decorated soldiers: thousands of them having been burned, maimed, or disfigured beyond recognition.

On a crowded commuter train, Maria hears an invalid singing, which painfully connects her to her time at the front and to the love that failed to happen to her. Why, then, since that day, does the voice from the past echo so insistently in her present life? The torture of uncertainty—was it really Armen?—intensifies after the next encounter and leaves her with an unsettling compulsion to do . . . what? Help him? Or, rather, rescue herself from her lonely and unassuming existence her heart subtly rejects? She must decide whether she is willing to let go of the life she knows for feelings she had never thought she could experience.

But, first, she has to find him.

As the genocide of 1915 within the Ottoman Empire destroyed the lives of Armen’s parents and about one-and-a-half-million ethnic Armenians, his future is shattered by this other war and betrayal. Legless and totally alone, and without any family after his mother is gone, it seems the most merciful thing for him would be to end his miserable existence by leaping off a cliff. Otherwise, he must find the courage to continue living in the condition the war left him and find his place in the bitter every-day reality full of difficulties prone to men like him.

Maria and Armen. Each carries private wounds. In the face of despair, will fate offer them a chance to heal their souls and hearts?

One of the reviews for the book

Now that I finished reading it, I’m absolutely certain this book will stay with me for a very long time. The author doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities the Soviet people had to deal with during the post-war years, and the brutal honesty with which she describes the neglect and humiliation that yesterday’s heroes of war – now homeless and disabled people – had to face from their own government and fellow countrymen left me speechless many times throughout the book.

Both Maria and Armen are incredibly real and likable characters, but it was the character of Armen that has left me completely in awe. In the first part of the book we see him as a sensitive, compassionate and somewhat impetuous young man. The tragedy that befalls Armen later is supposed to crush his personality, it nearly destroys him, and that’s where it becomes evident just how much inner strength and will to live there is in him.

The parallel Marina Osipova draws between the two episodes with the man on the cliff shows that Armen wouldn’t become such a strong person without his mother and her love for him. His family’s legacy and his people’s culture live in his heart, preventing him from losing the last shreds of hope and guiding him towards the light even in the darkest of times.

I loved the gradual, careful and authentic development of feelings between Maria and Armen. Despite their youth, they are old souls because of what they’ve seen and lived through, and the fact that their bond is based on the same experiences, mutual respect, compassion and eventual friendship makes it all the more precious and hard-won. Together, they learn to heal and leave the pain and loneliness behind, and, as a reader, I couldn’t root for them enough.

I was also very surprised and happy to find the descriptions of Novopestchanaya street in the Moscow district Sokol where I myself live in one of the chapters.

Overall, if you are a World War 2 and Soviet Union historical fiction lover, Push Me Off The Cliff by Marina Osipova will be your best choice. Highly recommend. 

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

Other books by Marina Osipova

Discover more about Marina Osipova and buy the books: Amazon US – And on: Amazon UK – follow Marina : Goodreads – website:Marina OsipovaTwitter: @marosikok


Smorgasbord Book Reviews Round Up – April 2022 – #Psychological #Thriller Terry Tyler, #Biography S. Bavey, #1920s #Jazz Beem Weeks, #Shortstories Simon Van Der Velde, #Crime Sue Coletta

Delighted to share my review for the latest release by Terry Tyler a psychological thriller… Where There’s Doubt.

My review for Where There’s Doubt on April 9th 2022

This is a psychological thriller which delves into the minefield that is modern day online dating and keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one.

Dating has become big business. Certainly for those who host the sites where millions hopefully upload their photographs, likes and dislikes and reach out into the void for a connection that will fulfil their dreams of everlasting love. It is also a feeding ground for sharks, seeking out the vulnerable, the desperate, the broken-hearted and those who are easily manipulated. Their intent is to bequile and deprive their victims of their money, self-esteem, dreams and hope.

Kate is just out of a long term relationship which has left her wondering about the myth surrounding true love. Then along comes a man who ticks all the boxes… seems to know her so well from the outset, anticipating all her needs and hopes within a relationship. Wary but falling in love, Kate begins to ignore her inner voice and friends well-meaning cautions and the game is on.

Over the course of the first part of the book the other players in this game each side of the con are introduced, including the masterminds behind the scam. The author is very good at creating characters who the reader can easily identify, including the poster boy for every woman’s romantic dream, handsome, attentive, successful and sexy. However we hear first hand from this adonis about what he thinks of his victims and his accomplice as well as his endgame. We are spectators to the events but can only watch from the sidelines, helpless to intervene to prevent the inevitable tragedies and loss.

In the second part of the book we discover which of the victims are going to rise above this dispicable piece of trickery and deal with the aftermath. The best and worst of human traits is explored and for some there will be surprising revelations that threaten to devastate them even further. Does crime pay, will there be retribution, who will survive the con?

Highly recommended as a thriller you will find hard to put down.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

This is my review for the recently published biography by S. Bavey about her grandfather who led a very full and colourful life by the sound of it. Lucky Jack (1894-2000)

My review for Lucky Jack 16th April 2022

An inspiring story of 106 years of living life to its full by a compelling storyteller.

I felt I was sitting drinking a cup of tea and listening to Henry Jack Rogers (Jack) recounting his adventures. It is wonderful that at over 100 years old he was able to tell his story in newspaper columns and on radio as it is certainly a life worth sharing, as his granddaughter has done in this biography.

Jack was born in 1894 and shares stand out moments in his long and hard working life from being held aloft on his father’s shoulders and getting a special wave from Queen Victoria, to receiving the telegram for his 106th birthday from Queen Elizabeth II.

What came across from the first page to the last is that Jack was not just lucky, but also courageous, hard working, kind hearted and entertaining, especially when things were tough.

There were so many ‘firsts’ during Jack’s lifetime including cinemas, cars, radios, televisions, which he embraced as soon as he could with some hair raising escapades driving on excursions with family. What I found particularly entertaining was his recollections of travelling on the first tube trains in early 1900s, visiting travelling fairs including seeing Buffalo Bill Cody, and his life long love of entertaining others.

From 1914 to 1918 Jack was in the Sherwood Foresters and saw action in the major battles as a sniper and observer before being captured. As a prisoner of war Jack and his comrades faced untold hardships and this is when his spirit really shone through keeping him alive to enjoy the rest of his long life.

The book is easy to read, well written, and entertaining and I can highly recommend.

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

Next my review for Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks... a story set in a time when the music was an escape from life for many.

My review for the book April 20th 2022

Some people are born holding a bad hand of cards. Emily Ann is one of those. At age 13 she has seen and experienced far too much for her years, and despite this, still holds on to a burning ambition to sing. Her voice moves people to tears in church and devilry in the seedy night clubs in New Orleans.

Those who she should be able to trust see the magic in this young girl and most have a twisted vision for her future.

As with any historical novel you have to keep an open mind and base a review on the era in which it is set. In this case is a time of racial inequality, sexual exploitation of the very young and a seedy underworld thriving on the vulnerability and addictions of those desperate to escape their upbringings.

As a woman who has enjoyed the privilege of being raised in a very different world, protected and allowed to make my own choices, it makes for sobering reading. Especially as I was born only 28 years after this story is set.

However raw the circumstances surrounding the story of Emily Ann and her commitment to sing for the world might be, this book is beautifully written. The characters, language, descriptions of the surroundings and the dens and dives of New Orleans are vividly portrayed and you are engaged from the first page to the last.

Emily Ann navigates herself through the minefield that is her life and you leave her story wishing her all the success in the world, on her own terms and beholden to nobody.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

Next my review for a short story collection by Simon Van Der Velde – Backstories published by Smoke & Mirrors Press.

My review for the collection April 23rd 2022

What a fascinating concept. We are bombarded by the details of those in the media who are the focus of the headlines. Most of the time we see what is in front of us, be it a glamorous celebrity, superstar athlete, award winning musician or even an infamous serial killer. Sometimes if a tell all biography is available we might be party to their past lives and motivations, but most of the time we never see passed the hype.

In this collection of short stories we are invited to speculate on the past lives of many of those known for their fame or infamy. There are subtle clues inserted, with perhaps a reference to a song lyric, or a mention of a name associated with the subject of the story.

All the stories have an edge to them as they explore the reasons for a fall from grace or a rise to fame, most rooted in childhood or teenage experiences at the hands of others.They are in some cases disturbing and it is easy to accept that these could indeed be a catalyst for what comes later.

This is a brilliantly written and compelling short story collection that I can highly recommend.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

And my last review in April the Crime Thriller –  Wings of Mayhem: The Mayhem Series: #1 by Sue Coletta.

My review for the book 27th April 2022

This first book in the Mayhem collection certainly gets the series off to a fast paced and thrilling start.

Shawnee Daniels is a complex character with a difficult past and an interesting present with a foot in both camps each side of the crimimal world. Trust does not come easily apart from her best friend, but slowly her heart opens to love and a relationship that complicates her life even further.

She is definitely independent and stubborn even in the face of a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a serial killer. As she becomes more entangled with his killing spree and protecting her own secret life, she not only endangers herself but those around her. The violence escalates and it is a race against time to catch the killer before Shawnee loses more of those she loves, her career, her freedom and very likely her life.

The main characters are excellently portrayed and the plot moves at a rapid pace towards a showdown that has you on the edge of your seat. Clearly well researched both in police procedures and the mindset of a serial killer, it will be enjoyed by readers of crime thrillers and action packed novels.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK


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