Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair 2022 – #Poetry Elizabeth Gauffreau, #Romance Jan Sikes, #History #Family Joy Neal Kidney

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 a collection of poetry in honour of those we have loved and lost. Christmas is for family, not just those around us but those who shared this important time of year across the years…I was touched by all the poems by Elizabeth Gauffreau Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance

About the collection

Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.” ~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family’s shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be. ~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review

“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.” ~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review

Head over to read the reviews and buy the collection:
Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK

One of the reviews for the collection

Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.

Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a glimpse of the day—two children waiting in the car, giggling and honking the horn. Liz fills in the rest of the story here on her blog.

“For a Crooked Smile,” however, needs no additional context.

“He was my little brother.”

That poem brought me to tears (as did several others):

Grief Song III

I held her hand
as she lay dying
death rattle
in my throat.

This is a book of poetry that is highly accessible, but with poems that resonate. It is a memoir in bite-size pieces. Each poem is a snapshot, a memory experienced in the way we are all hit by a sudden remembrance of a time, a place, or a person.

In “Sixty Years of Katherine,” Liz writes:

“minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers”

These lines feel both personal and universal. Those of us who have helped a parent move or who have cleared a home after they’ve passed, understand the complex emotions behind these beautiful, succinct phrases. 

Head over to read the reviews and buy the collection:
Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK

Also by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Discover more about Elizabeth Gauffreau and buy her books: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Read more reviews and follow Elizabeth: Goodreads – Twitter: @LGauffreau

The next novelette is perfect for the holidays, a lovely read from award winning author Jan SikesMountain Laurel Christmas

About the Book

Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.

Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?

One of the reviews for the book

Oh my goodness what a heart warming Christmas story Mountain Laurel Christmas is. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that truly gave me the feeling I had in my heart while reading it. I can’t even find the words to describe it.

This is a true rags to riches story of a young man now named Cole Knight that goes from the poverty of a coal mining family from the Cumberland Mountains to a wealthy music star of Nashville. Cole should be one of the happiest men on earth but he has become a man who drinks too much and has lost himself.

It takes a trip back to where he came from to turn his life around after finding a paper in his mother’s dresser with the location of where his younger, mentally challenged little brother, Timmy, was taken ten years prior when their mother passed away. This was the day his family was torn apart, and when Cole struck out on foot, on his way to Nashville to live his dream. Cole left the Cumberland Moutains behind and what was left of his family. Timmy is now eighteen and has a talent that Cole could have never dreamed of and has a personality that Cole never expected. To Cole’s surprise Timmy has not forgotten Cole or their sister and Timmy is no longer the quiet boy that Cole remembers.

This is a story true to life story, a book that everyone should read. A story about how money alone cannot buy happiness. A story about how family is more important than anything money can buy. It’s a beautifully written book that is worth another read every year prior to the holiday season to remind me what is most important in life and to put me in the holiday spirit.

This book makes me wonder if every alcoholic could stop drinking if they figured out what they were trying to drowned away and attempt to remedy it or at least find a way to get past it. 

I wish I could give this book more than five stars. Jan Sikes is a masterful writer that everyone should give a try. Sikes has gone from not just telling her stories in songs but to now putting them down in books for readers to enjoy. This book would be a great start for any reader to discover Jan’s talent. Just wow. 

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

A small selection of other books by Jan Sikes

Find out more about Jan Sikes and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan SikesGoodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks

The final book today is a poignant trip down memory lane by Joy Neal Kidney – Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots (Leora’s Stories) – Joy shares stories of her family and they are a wonderful reminder of another era.

About the book

During Leora Goff’s early decades, she gathered the tenacity, optimism and hope she would need throughout her long life. When she married Clabe Wilson, they became forged into parents who would shepherd their own family through two more great eras of world and local history–the Great Depression and WWII.

One of the reviews for the book

In Leora’s Early Years, Joy Neal Kidney brings to life the challenges her pioneering ancestors faced and shows how the love of family brought them closer together and helped them survive.

Helping and working hard were just what everyone in the family did. I was amazed that at the young age of seven, Leora took the buggy and team of horses by herself to pick up her Grandpap from the train station. She even milked the cows. Her brothers Wayne and Merl plowed the fields at six and seven. Imagine that!

The children did chores and pitched in without complaining. Growing up through good times and hard times, Leora and her siblings developed strong values and built character.

I especially loved the stories about the one-room school and the interesting details of Leora’s family and their way of life from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Like Joy’s first two books, Leora’s Early Years was a pleasure to read. 

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

Also by Joy Neal Kidney

Discover more about Joy Neal Kidney and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UKMore reviews: GoodreadsWebsite: Joy Neal Kidney – Facebook: Joy Neal Kidney Author – Twitter: @JoyNealKidneyInstagram: Joy Neal Kidney


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


Smorgasbord Book Reviews Round Up – July 2022- #Romance Jan Sikes, #Poetry Harmony Kent, #Dogs #Caravans Jacqueline Lambert, #Flash #Poetry M.J.Mallon, #Dystopian Teri Polen, #Western #Romance Sandra Cox

I had some great reading time in the garden during July and here are my recommendations from the month.

This review is for the first of four biographical novels by Jan Sikes based her own life and lifelong love story. Flowers and Stone.

My review for the book July 9th 2022

This is the first chapter in the passionate love story of a young woman enjoying the freedom of having left a restrictive upbringing with a bad boy of country music.

Although Darlina has tasted the joys of a more liberated lifestyle dancing for extra cash in a nightclub, there is still an air of innocence about her that attracts the much older and charasmatic Luke Stone. Wiser heads warn her of the dangers of becoming involved with a man who has long history of playing fast and loose in relationships, but she is in love.

That love will be tested in several ways over the following months and yet through it all Darlina is totally committed to being there for Luke in every way possible. His demons become hers as she watches him battle through a physical and mental crisis and yet there are still secrets that have the potential to rip them apart.

Despite his approach to women and previous relationships, Luke finds himself deeply connected to this young girl and her convictions. Secrets have a habit of being exposed to the light and in a desperate attempt to protect Darlina, Luke may have to make a major sacrifice.

You can tell that this story is written from the heart and is deeply personal. Even fictionalised the strength of the love and commitment to the relationship shines through and as the onlooker you find yourself hoping against hope things will work out. The love of a good woman can redeem a man who has fallen by the wayside, but the road is going to be long and hard.

The 70s and the setting for this story is also authentic and captures a time in music history that is legendary.

I look forward to reading the second book in this love saga soon.

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

Delighted to share the news of Harmony Kent’s new release and here is my review… Life & Soul (Book 2 in the Soul Poetry series)

My review for the collection July 7th 2022

This collection takes us on a journey exploring the many aspects of life, love, loss and renewal.

The soul that is our unique inner being, can be fragile at times, but also incredibly strong to withstand the storms that sweep through our lives.

The author is very open about her life and the traumatic events that she encountered and overcame and her strength is very evident in the poems she shares in this collection.

There are many that I can relate to, with poems that reflect the heartache of love that has not just faded, but developed a darker side, and being an outsider in a society that has strict rules for acceptance. It is also a celebration of finding love unexpectedly, and discovering true friendships that come with total acceptance.

Clearly love is all encompassing and there is a wonderful section devoted to the romance, growing connection and everyday joys to be found with your soul mate. One line in particular stuck with me.

Love in the simple things
Such as your glasses case left on the kitchen island…

I found the last section of the collection The Life of a Soul fascinating as the author takes us from birth to rebirth with such grace and poignancy. Certainly there are tears for the young child and woman trying to find her way, but also smiles at the determination to overcome a devastating accident and to adapt to the world on her own terms.

There were many poems that struck a chord with me including This Isn’t Love, The Group, True Friendships, Plastic Surgeon and This is Home.

Wild and Free is a lovely example of the authors way with words.

I’m not the prettiest flower in the field
But neither am I a weed
Take the time to watch me bloom
Don’t cut my stem and moan when I fade too soon
Far better that you leave me be
Dancing in the breeze, wild and free

I recommend this collection to those who would like to absorb the wise and poignant words of one soul to another.

Head over to read the reviews and buy new collection : Universal Link

My review for the highly entertaining and fascinating guide to caravanning and travelling through France… with four very individual pups… Year 1 – Fur Babies in France: From Wage Slaves to Living the Dream (Adventure Caravanning with Dogs) by Jacqueline Lambert.

Year 1 - Fur Babies in France: From Wage Slaves to Living the Dream (Adventure Caravanning with Dogs) by [Jacqueline Lambert]

My review for the book 9th July 2022

This book is a very entertaining and informative guide to caravanning with four dogs as companions through France.

Never having been on a caravan holiday, I was ignorant of all the technical requirements needed to not just tow this home on wheels, but manoeuvre it on and off pitches, keep it level, attach all the necessary services and avoid damaging critical pieces of the undercarriage.

The author shares her adventures for the preparation of both caravan and drivers before embarking on an ambitious debut extended tour of France. Daunting enough for the novice caravanner but with four dogs in the mix, quite a logistical challenge.

Whilst excellent information on the technical aspects are included, it is accompanied by an easy going and very humourous narration with some very witty double entendres thrown in for good measure.

For those who are planning a touring holiday of France in a caravan the book has a wealth of information on the best campsites for both scenery and facilities, especially when dogs are not always welcome. Certainly a pack is not usually considered to be acceptable despite the four in question being not only adorable but extremely well behaved. Whilst usually the case, apparently fox poop is the exception and then all bets are off. This can be a problem when you find yourself without a water connection and therefore no showers!

I know France reasonably well, but clearly you get to see a great deal more of the coast and inland areas than visits to the usual touristy hotspots. The book left me yearning for the open road and the freedom to stop in more out of the way places where campsites are the only option to stay for the night. A home on wheels definitely has its advantages, and again with four dogs who love to swim and run the beaches, the only sensible option if you take them with you, as hotels would be out of the question.

This is just the first book in the series and I am very much looking forward to reading the others. I finished this one with a smile on my face and a renewed desire for more travel adventures. I can highly recommend this honest, well written and amusing real life adventure.

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

I am delighted to share my advance review for flash fiction and poetry collection The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet by M.J. Mallon. The collection is on pre-order for 15th August.


My review for the collection July 16th 2022

This is a poetry and flash fiction collection seeped in nature and illustrates the love the author has for the environment, particular the forests.

The first pages share the delightful love story of the Hedge Witch and the Musical Poet, bringing two solitary characters together in the sanctuary of a magical forest far from the human world.

This story is followed by poems and flash ficton, some of which are poignant such as the tribute to a ginger cat in Chester, Don & I, and bewilderment voiced in The Network of Trees as they stand in danger from the human need for progress.

There is also the sad reflection that much of the beauty and adventures to be found in the forests are being missed as children find themselves engrossed in the online world instead. The author makes sure to include the fun they could be enjoying instead.

The Teddy in the Woods probably should come with a tissue alert.

There are some reminders of poems from another collection which I also enjoyed Mr. Sagittarius Poetry; one of my favourites being Rainbow – Parasol of Light.

In the second section of the collection there is a series of poems inspired by other writers. Set in the woodlands and the beauty they offer. This includes the ethereal The Forest King.

The forest king lives in the shadows
his hair and beard, a flame alight
in his crown, the fairy queen sits
far from the tangled roots of his throne.

This is a collection to savour and to dip into when the technical world we inhabit becomes too demanding, or we are in need of a touch of magic. I recommend to lovers of nature and fantasy.

Head over to pre-order the collection for August 15th: Amazon UK – And:Amazon US

Here is my review for Teri Polen and her exciting Sci-fi thriller The Colony Series Book One – Subject A36

My review for the book 21st July 2022

This is one of the most exciting sci-fi thrillers I have read for some time. Action packed from beginning to end with fascinating and complex characters that pull you into, and along with the story.

Set in the future when those with money and power only want more of the same. To ensure those living in The Colony have health and wealth at their disposal, those outside the walls, particularly the children must pay the price.

There are secrets that have been kept for over ten years and Asher finds himself on the run with insurgents unaware that he knows more than his parents have told him. Given safe haven with and adoptive family he forms bonds that he will fight to the death to protect.

The Colony soldiers widen the net to bring in more test subjects and as the insurgents fight day and night to rescue those trapped, they find themselves embroiled in treachery and deceit. With the lives at risk of those Asher loves most at the hands of an evil scientist intent on revenge, the world becomes an even more dangerous place.

The plot is brilliant as is the writing which evokes an emotional response from the reader, as they connect to the lead characters and share their love and pain, to a feeling of loss as this first book in the series comes to an end.

I can highly recommend, and suggest as I have done, that you buy the second book The Insurgent, as soon as possible so you can discover how the story and its wonderful characters unfolds.

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

I like to have one of Sandra Cox’s western romances lurking on my TBR for a wet windy day when escapism is a must…Today my review for Montana Shootists.

Montana Shootists by [Sandra Cox]

My review for the book July 23rd 2022

I have never been disappointed with any book I have read by this author and this novel was no exception. Action packed and written with such authenticity you could almost be there in person.

There is supernatural thread throughout the story as Abby finds herself caught with her body in 1882 and her heart still in the present day. Guilt and loss have a firm hold and even the devastating charm of Jake Barrow seems to be completely wasted despite his best efforts.

Abby has a strong sense of honour and duty, and whilst she may be pulled back to the future, she is also aware that there are those needing her help in this new dimension. I882 is smack in the middle of the range wars where cattle and sheep don’t mix according to those on the warpath and wanting to take over the lands of anyone who stands in their way. In a lawless town, there is strength in numbers and few can win against them.

Abby finds herself torn as she finds new friends in unexpected places who need her help despite her need to find a way back to the future to save another. Destiny however seems determined to made itself very clear about which way the cards should fall.

The characters are marvellous and colourful and those with evil intent are painted very vividly. It is easy to get swept along with the action and as always Sandra Cox brings everything together in a surprising and very satisfactory manner. I can highly recommend to anyone who love action filled romances that leaving you wanting more.

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


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




Smorgasbord Book Reviews Round Up March 2022 – #Romance Jan Sikes, #Scifi Richard Dee, #Thriller Stevie Turner, #Africa Wilbur Smith, #Poetry Frank Prem, #Fantasy Paul Cude

Another great month of reading in March and I hope you will enjoy the reviews.

My review for Jagged Feathers March 3rd 2022

Having read book one of this series I was looking forward to this next story with much anticipation. I was delighted to catch up with some of the characters from Ghostly Interference and the author made the transition seamless.

Both Vann and Nankina who head the cast in this second book, carry the burden of past events in their lives and the story highlights the many challenges facing those who have served and also civilians who have been touched by tragedy.

The setting is tanquil, but danger and violence intrude into this peaceful backwater. The last thing a recovering soldier with PTSD needs is to be back in a war zone, but his need to protect a defenceless woman becomes a mission he cannot back down from.

This is a high octane thriller and romance, with some intriguing paranormal elements which draws the reader in, and sweeps them along with the action and developing love affair. And then there is also an adorable dog who despite his own past mistreatment gives love in abundance.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and recommend to those who enjoy action packed romances.

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

My advance review for We Are Saul March 5th 2022

Having read other books by Richard Dee I was delighted to be offered an advance copy of his latest release.

There have been elements of what might be termed science fiction in stories going back hundreds of years. However it is only in the 20th century that reality caught up with the fantasy with space exploration, and humans not only landing on the moon, but orbiting the earth on a permanent manned station.

We are now faced with incredible possibilities both for the future of space travel, and in the advancements this brings to humans in the form of their capabilities.

The concept for this novel is very clever as it builds on the achievements in a number of areas including robotics and human enhancement, taking them to a whole new level.

Humans do have free will, but when you have lost everything that you have including your control over your own body, how desperate would you be to accept a radical and experimental lifeline?

Saul is about to find out. Whilst he may be paralysed, his mind and his heart still yearn for love and connection, the question is, will all of that still be possible in his future?

This is science fiction, but the author writes with such clarity that you find yourself believing that this too, like so many of the futeristic imaginings of the past, might well be feasible at some point in the coming centuries, if not decades.

Richard Dee has created wonderful complex characters including the enigmatic and secretive Dr Tendral, the nurses who assist Saul in his recovery and progress in the experiment, and others on the sidelines who will influence the success or failure of the project. He is known for his world building both in science fiction and fantasy novels and that is evident in this book too.

As a thriller prepare for some unexpected twists, dangerous revelations and some thought provoking questions about the morality of interfering with human mortality.

I can highly recommend this intriguing and fast paced science fiction thriller which is likely to leave you wondering how soon it will become fact.

Head over to pre-order the book for June 1st: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US 

My review for Scam March 9th 2022

This is an intriguing read and apart from a great story concept and interesting characters, it also carries a very important message.

There are many temptations available online, and so easy to be taken in by the glib and bequiling charms of those who wish to part you from anything they can. Money of course but also confidence, dignity and very often the respect of loved ones.

Enticement becomes menace very quickly when they have their claws into you, and once you have let them into your lives and offered up your information, it is not only you who may suffer the consequences.

This is the case for Lauren who looks for a shortcut to moving into her own home with her husband Ben, who is determined to work hard and take the time necessary to build up their savings towards their deposit.

Bad enough to become a victim of a scam, but when the criminals are on the doorstep there may be more repercussions than from some remote hacker thousands of miles away.

This is a game of cat and mouse and it impacts not just the safety of those close to Lauren but her marriage, job and future.

A thriller that will keep you turning the pages and a stark reminder that the old saying ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’

Recommended read for anyone who shares their life online.

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

My review for Legacy of War March 19th 2022

I was looking forward to discovering how Saffron Courtney and her husband Gerhard fared following the end of WWII and Legacy of War was as action packed and fast paced as the previous book.

There are certain aspects of Wilbur Smith’s writing that is present in all his books, and that is his love of Africa, the land and it’s people. That is just as evident in this book which is set a few years after the war, when colonialism was loosening its hold on countries such as India. Change is not supported by those within the white population who stand to lose land and wealth accumulated over the past century at the expense of the native population. The younger generation of black Africans who have received further education abroad, are coming home with a determination that there must be change, and the balance of power begins to shift. However, others see only violence as the solution to remove those they consider trespassers on their land. It is the time of the Mau Mau and the fear they instil brings about a time of terror and bloodshed, with both sides suffering great losses in the struggle.

Runnng parallel to this time of building tension, is unfinished business for Saffron and Gerhard. The war may be over, but some who committed the worst atrocities are still free and in hiding. Gerhard had suffered a great deal at the hands of his elder brother Konrad, who had served the Reich to further his family’s industrial fortunes and because it suited his nature.Having lost everything at the end of the war and forced into hiding, vengeance and retribution will shatter the peace that Gerhard and Saffron have found on their home close to the Courtney estate. They will be forced to confront the threat if they and their children are to survive.

In a thrilling and action packed climax, the Courtney family and those close to them, find themselve trapped in the path of a seemingly unstoppable army led by a man who sees only violence as a path to the future. The outcome will determine the legacy the Courtney family will leave on this land they love.

Recommended read.

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

My review for the collection 26th March 2022

Frank Prem’s poetry always has the power to move those who read it. Never lacking in emotional content, he creates verse that illuminates our world, its experiences and history.

In this collection we are introduced to speculative fantasy, still bringing relateable experiences and events in our lives into focus, but also exploring the outer edges of our consciousness and our universe.

Nature is not far from the centre of the verse with storms at sea, forests and skies blue and vast. Such as in the poem “storm and the sea (bubbles of foam)”

He invites us to wander with him through a garden where the blooms are black, to imagine orbiting the earth in space and offers a reminder of how our minds might lose touch with reality and the present in “Something” which begins we these words….

excuse me
I have lost something

I can’t tell
I put it

This is a collection to read at your leisure without haste and with an open mind. The poet provides plenty of opportunity to use your imagination and enjoy the experience.

Head over to pre-order the collecton for April 15th and 29th: Amazon AUAnd: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK


My review for A Threat from the Past 31st March 2022

Fantasy stories require great world building, characters that are unique and compelling, plenty of action, and a story line that engages and carries you along from first to last page. I would say that all those boxes were ticked in this first book of the White Dragon Saga.

Two worlds, one of which runs deep beneath that inhabited by humans, and is meticulously described. Accessed creatively by a number of portals enabling ancient guardians to move freely between them. There is a wonderful thread of humour throughout the book as the author shares the parallel lifestyles including food, sport and adventure holidays of the mythical creatures, which lightens the mood as the dangerous plot unfolds.

The story opens with mythical dragons and a violent attack on humans that gave rise to the legend of St.George… This chapter sets the scene for events in the present, when long buried evil elements of the dragon community seek to break the harmony created over centuries between the humans and their guardians.

The three young friends Pete, Tank and Richie all love different sports in their human forms and there are some great action sequences that take place on hockey, lacrosse and rugby pitches and on the equivalent game centres in the underworld, but on a much bigger scale. The fast paced commentary has you standing on the sidelines cheering on the players in both forms.

There is evil intent brewing; missed by those responsible for dragon security, and Peter finds himself in the middle of an escalating and frightening takeover at work and on the pitch. This builds to a dangerous climax when all could be lost for both humans and the majority of benevolent dragons. Revelations about the past and the intentions for a darker future lay the groundwork for the next book in the series which I am looking forward to.

There is magic, danger, adventure and plenty of thrills throughout the book, and it would appeal to young adults who enjoyed Harry Potter, as well as adults who enjoy well written fantasy, and are looking for an established series to follow with several books to enjoy.

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


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… Sally



Smorgasbord Book Reviews – December 2021 Round Up – #Contemporary Anne Goodwin, #Romance Jan Sikes, #Romance Staci Troilo, #Shortstories Mae Clair, #Thriller Jane Buckley

Welcome to the last of the book reviews for 2021 with some wonderful books that I can highly recommend.

The first book I read in December was the thought provoking contemporary novel Matilda Wilson is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin.

My review for the book 9th December 2021

This book is a behind the scenes drama played out behind the doors of a mental institution transitioning from a place to stash those who suffered from alleged mental disorders or lapses in moral judgment. Many living within these institutions may not have originally suffered from a mental impairment, but after fifty years within this closed and rigid environment, they have developed the inability to distinquish between reality and fantasy.

Told from three different perspectives we are introduced to Matilda (Matty), Janice and Henry who all have threads from the past keeping them from living life to the full.

Matilda’s story is heartbreaking and from an early age she was blighted by poverty, loss and abuse by those who should have kept her safe. She was a free spirit trapped by circumstances and the actions of others, and even behind the walls of this institution, there are those eager to take advantage of her vulnerability.

Her escape is the make believe world of princes and country houses in an era she felt most comfortable in. There is humour and logic behind her thinking and it was easy to fall in love with her mischievous approach to modern intrusions into her fantasy. However, after all the deprivations she has suffered, will she be able to move onto the more relaxed approach of community living?

Henry has been stuck in a time warp since his older sister he knew asTilly left when he was very young. He cannot move on as he is convinced that one day she will return to the house they shared fifty years ago. Now reaching retirement that dream is fading despite events in his neighbourhood that conspire to shake him out of his comfort zone. Can he let go of the past and move on to find love and a new life?

Finally Janice a young social worker, idealistic and convinced that she can prepare Matty for life in the new open community housing despite a number of setbacks during the process. Janice has her own past to explore as she becomes more disconnected from her adopted parents and sister and begins to question her role in mental health.

There are times, as events unfold and Matilda shares her childhood and teenage years, you as the onlooker are moved to outrage, despair but also admiration for the spirit that reached breaking point, only for it to escape instead into a fantasy world that provided comfort.

This is a thought provoking novel that is the first in the Matilda Windsor story, written by an author with first hand experience of the world of mental health institutions and the changing approach to treatment as a clinical psychologist. I look forward to discovering how the story unfolds in the next book.

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

Also by Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin, Buy:Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – follow Anne : Goodreads – blog: Annecdotal – Twitter: @Annecdotist

Just in time for the holidays, a lovely read from award winning author Jan Sikes a novelette Mountain Laurel Christmas

My review for the book December 17th 2021

This story by Jan Sikes may be a short read but it is packed with heartwarming moments and reminders about family and how important they are at Christmas and every day of the year.

For the last two years we have been restricted in meeting family and other loved ones in person, missing the shared memories, laughter and physical hugs. Mountain Laurel Christmas delivers all of those in beautiful gift wrapped packages.

Throw in a flawed, lost superstar whose material possessions and fame leave an emptiness that seems impossible to fill, a road trip that leads to redemption, and you have a wonderful addition to your own Christmas.

I have no hesitation in recommending.

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

A small selection of other books by Jan Sikes

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan SikesGoodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks

Delighted to review the festive romance by Staci Troilo – No Such Luck (Keystone Couples)

My review for the book December 22nd 2021

There is nothing like a feel good romance and a reminder of family and friendship at this time of year and No Such Luck by Staci Troilo delivers all of those elements. A short heart-warming read to add some glitter to the holiday.

As time passes. it is often the case memories can cast a rosier glow on relationships, events and expectations than in reality. We also evolve emotionally and mentally based on our experiences of life, and going back to our teenage years and our hometown, can put the spotlight on those memories with intriguing results.

This is the case for Piper Seidel, a feisty journalist who speaks her mind which can land her in trouble. Returning home for the holidays between jobs, she is faced with realisation she may have been pinning her hopes and dreams on a talisman that is not as lucky as she thought.

The characters are distinctively drawn and the story gathers momentum towards a very satisfactory outcome. Recommended

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

A small selection of books written by Staci Troilo

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK –Follow Staci: GoodreadsBlog: Staci Troilo WordPress – Website: Staci TroiloTwitter@stacitroilo

Very pleased to share my review for the short story collection by Mae Clair – Things Old and Forgotten

My review for the stories December 23rd 2021

Wow this is a story collection across the genres that will amaze and delight the reader.

We travel roads from the past and into the future meeting interesting characters along the way, some drawn from the worlds of fantasy and others from the edge of darkness. There are also light-hearted moments with encounters with intoxicating small yellow birds and escapees from the confines of ancient bottles.

Mae Clair writes with clarity and with a focus on the reader’s engagement, creating memorable characters and bringing favourite legendary elements into a new environment.

The stories are all excellent and tough to highlight any for special merit but my heart was warmed by Father’s Day, I was totally drawn in by Robin of Sherwood and Miss Lily Makes a Wish had me laughing.

I can highly recommend this well written and entertaining collection of stories that crosses the genres with ease and expertise.

Head over to buy the collection: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Mae Clair

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Mae on: Goodreads Website: Mae Clair – Twitter: @MaeClair1

My final review for the year was for the thriller Stones Corner: Turmoil by Jane Buckley

My review for the book 28th December 2021

The author gives a warning in the blurb about what a reader can expect in her debut novel set in Derry, Northern Ireland during one of the darkest years in the province’s history. The book delivers the reasons for that warning with chilling effect, bringing home the reality that this was a part of the United Kingdom, experiencing civil war within the last 50 years. The ripples of this violent outcome to the separation of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and its issues of belief and inequality, spread devastatingly outwards from the province; at times devastatingly.

When extremism on both sides of the divide are intent on winning, those innocents caught up in the turmoil are at the greatest risk, and when an outside force such as the British army are brought in, it adds fuel to the fire. The author creates that atmosphere of everyday fear and loss with great skill.

At the heart of this turmoil are young men and women who are vulnerable to manipulation by the fanatics, and imprisoned by age old segregation between religions and class.

Inhumane treatment of individuals, bombings resulting in mass casualties of innocents, illicit love affairs, revenge, espionage and poverty all combine to break the spirit of those who can see no end to the deprivation and conflict.

The author has created characters that will haunt you and some who inspire. Despite the environment, good people try to find comfort in their lives, falling in love across the divide and working to bring peace and stability.  As the story moves forward they all come together centred on an event which will impact all of them and the future of the city.

This intiguing thriller delivers a great deal in terms of the writing, characters, storyline and expectations and I highly recommend the book. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series soon.

Also by Jane Buckley

Connect to Jane Buckley: Jane Buckley Writes – Author Page: Amazon UK – And: Amazon USFollow Jane:Goodreads – Facebook:Jane Buckley Writes – Twitter:@janebuckley_sc


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