In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.
The first author today is USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar whose books combine elements from across the genres with heartwarming romance. I have enjoyed a number of Jacquie’s books with some waiting on my TBR.
Meet Jacquie Biggar
Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!
A small selection of Jacquie’s books
My review for Love Me January 22nd 2022
Having read other books by the author I fully expected that this story would be heartwarming and in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. The characters are always relateable and being a romance they also tend to have attractive personalities which makes them likeable too.
The interactions between those falling for each other are subtle, and much is left to your imagination, which is something I prefer when reading about love. In this particular case you are left with the wonderful feeling that love is alive and well despite the global troubles impacting us all at this time.
At the heart of this story is also the issue of childhood leukemia which the author adds details of at the end of the book. A difficult subject to cover, particularly in a feel good romance novel, but Jacquie Biggar handles it very sensitively.
A book to curl up in front of a roaring fire, with a large mug of hot chocolate and a couple of hours free for some lovely escapism. Recommended for lovers of romance and those who enjoy a heartwarming reminder that there are good things in the world.
The next author is almost a neighbour and we have met in person which is a pleasure. Mary Crowley also writes a newspaper column for The Munster Express sharing Irish authors and their books and she has kindly featured me a number of times. Mary has written two wonderful novels which I have enjoyed very much.
Meet Mary Crowley
Mary Crowley writes Contemporary Irish Literature. Author of A Sweet Smell of Strawberries and Under a Dark Cloud . Her fictional work generally focusses on strong emotional relationships and family conflict, adding intrigue and humour, with a sprinkle of hope but most of all heart.
Mary lives in County Waterford, on the South East Coast of Ireland, with her husband and three children. Having worked as a Dental nurse and Dental Health Educator for many years she decided to follow her dream of writing and went on to study creative writing and journalism. Winner of The Waterford Writer’s Weekend Short Story Competition (2016), she also has several short story publications, in Magazines and newspapers along with publications in writing.ie, one of which was inspired by her literary heroine Maeve Binchy, another about the local legendary Hoffman’s event, “The Pram Race,” which took place in Tramore back in the late eighties. Mary is currently working on her third novel along with writing for local newspaper The Munster Express and freelance writing.
When she is not writing, Mary loves reading and spending time with her husband John and their three children Damon, Steven and Katie, though they are growing up too quickly. Her most favoured way of family time, is travelling to new and interesting places in her beloved VW Camper searching for the next story to tell. It was a yearly trip to Letterkenny in Donegal where one of her son’s competed in the Errigal Youth Cycling Tour that inspired the setting for her first novel A Sweet Smell of Strawberries.
Books by Mary Crowley
My review for Under a Dark Cloud April 2020
I read and enjoyed A Sweet Smell of Strawberries and was looking forward to reading Mary Crowley’s second novel and was not disappointed.
There is some continuity from the first book which featured characters on the edges of the main story, who now take centre stage in this novel. This did help bring me in to the story right from the start and although a stand alone book, you would gain a great deal by reading the first book.
The women in this story all have fractured pasts, trauma, loss and challenging personalities. Kelly and Nessa have secrets and unresolved issues that are now influencing their relationships and their futures. Their families are also going through challenging times and those who you would expect to be supportive and trustworthy are holding on to their own darkness.
In this small town evil is lurking and it will take strength of character, resolve and courage to confront it and move on from the devastating repercussions of its impact on individuals and the community.
Mary Crowley has created wonderful characters and even those who are dark and unlikeable are compelling. The threads of each character’s story from the past to the present, are woven into a complex and interconnecting web of lies, mystery, trauma and secrets. The reader is left guessing who might be the perpetrator of the actions that have resulted in both Kelly’s and Nessa’s turmoil, and there is a surprising ending that brings the story to a satisfactory close.
It is a well written family saga, with twists and turns that will keep you guessing and I am sure that like me, you will enjoy reading Under a Dark Cloud.
The final author today is another writer whose books I have enjoyed. Claire Fullerton combines family sagas with Southern culture brilliantly and I look forward to reading more of her books soon.
Meet Claire Fullerton
Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Little Tea, set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the Goodreads, 2021, July Book of the Month, the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, 1st place winner in the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award, a finalist in the International Book Awards, and the Independent Authors Network 1st place in Literary Fiction winner and 2nd place winner for 2020 Book of the year.
Claire is the author of 12 X award winning Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Claire is also the author of 3X award winning, Dancing to an Irish Reel, set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary
Books by Claire Fullerton
My review for Dancing to an Irish Reel February 12th 2022
This is a love story. Not just between a man and a woman. It is also the slow falling in love with a culture rich in history, language and music, which can be confusing to the uninitiated who arrive expecting only to be there for a short visit.
The Irish have a way of embracing and drawing you into their way of life, and the author clearly absorbed all this richness during her time in the country in her twenties.
Traditional music is at the heart of communities throughout Ireland and Galway is the perfect setting. Nothing quite like dark smoky bars late on in the evening, when the musicians pick up their instruments and the magic begins.
The characters are beautifullly embellished with little details that immediately bring them into focus. Handsome enigmatic musicians, dapper elderly gentlemen imparting wisdom, free spirited craftsmen who have poetic souls, family dynasties where music runs in the blood.
Add in a young American conscious of being an outsider, trying to find her way through the complexity of adapting to the ebb and flow of this cultural colour, and you have a delightful reading experience.
The pace of the story is not rushed, for you would lose much of the detail and richness of the descriptions in the book. Life in Ireland is meant to be savoured. That can be an interesting and sometimes disconcerting concept for those who arrive for a quick holiday.
Expect to make some assumptions of how the relationship between Hailey and Liam will evolve through the story, but according to the cards all will be well, someday.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books…. Sally.