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.

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair – Recent Reviews for New Books on the Shelves – #Romance Staci Troilo, Jacquie Biggar, Jan Sikes, #Shortstories Mae Clair, #Family #LGBTQ Stevie Turner


Today some recent reviews for new books added to the Cafe and Bookstore in the last few weeks.

The first author with a recent review is Staci Troilo – No Such Luck (Keystone Couples)

About the Book

Seeds of luck usually wither. The rare one grows and blooms.

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

One of the recent  reviews for the book 

JanS 5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the obvious is right under your nose!  Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2021

In this short story, Piper has been fired from yet another job. And on top of being fired, she lost her good luck charm, a dried red chrysanthemum. Now she’s sure her luck is forever going to be bad. She returns to her father’s home early for the Christmas holidays and immediately bumps into an old crush from high school. And she struggles to form words, which is ironic considering she writes words for a living. But Tommy Burnett affects her that way. He’s handsome, a great catch, and everything she’s dreamed of. I won’t give any spoilers here, but Jack Rhodes, her best friend since grade school is her steady influence. When she needs help, he’s always there and never asks for anything in return. I love how Piper grew in the pages of this short read. Sometimes the obvious is right under our noses and we fail to see it. This is an entertaining holiday read that is short and sweet with a satisfying ending. The writing is flawless and I highly recommend it.  

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 –

The next recent release which has been receiving excellent reviews is – Love, Me: A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

About the book

Will a Christmas wish bring two lonely hearts together and give a little girl the family she’s always wanted?

Single parent, Grace Donovan arrives in the small town of Emerson with the hope a trial program at the local cancer clinic will be the answer to prolonging her young daughter’s life. She doesn’t expect to fall for her handsome boss.

As principal of Emerson Elementary, Kyle Roberts is aware of the students’ medical issues and his heart goes out to little Cassie Donovan and her mother. When he learns Grace needs a job, he fabricates a childcare program, and is pleasantly surprised by its success. Now, if only he could help Cassie’s recovery and get Grace to give him a chance before she learns of his duplicity.

Cassie Donovan barely remembers the father who died when she was just a toddler, but she does know her mother is sad. Even though Cassie wants a puppy more than anything, she gives up her wish to ask for a daddy from Santa Claus, that way if she gets sick again, Mommy won’t be alone.

This Christmas, two families are brought together by a Christmas wish and a child’s need for a miracle.

A recent review for the book

“Love Me” is a wonderful holiday read about a mother and her daughter fighting cancer. Grace and Cassie move to a new town to try an experimental treatment, and luckily an anonymous donor covers the expenses. Grace finds a job at Cassie’s school while Cassie finds a new best friend. I love how the story is told from both the mother and daughter’s POV. Cassie wants a puppy for Christmas, but she decides her mother needs a companion if something happens to her. It’s a story that tugged on my heart, thinking about a little girl battling for her life when she should be playing and having fun. Her strength and caring shine throughout the story as a powerful symbol of love, and the mother, having lived through so much loss and heartache, keeps going for her daughter. I could feel the emotion behind Cassie because her character is based on an amazing young girl on social media who is fighting this battle. This was a heartwarming romantic story that didn’t back down from the reality of childhood leukemia. I highly recommend this!  

A small selection of Jacquie’s books

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacquie : Goodreads – website: Jacquie Biggar – Twitter: @jacqbiggar

Delighted to share the news of the latest book by Jan Sikes…a novelette Mountain Laurel Christmas on Pre-order for November 15th.

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 recent reviews for the book

Mae Clair 5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a story!  Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2021

If you want a feel-good Christmas story, look no further. Cole Knight is a music superstar with the world at his feet. He has everything he could possibly ever want or need but his heart is hollow. With Christmas around the corner, he finds himself thinking back to his poverty-stricken childhood when times were hard but love of family made life worth living. In the decades since, he’s lost touch with his sister and has no idea what’s become of his younger brother. Circumstances conspire in such a way to give him a second chance and help him rediscover the connections he’s lost.

Told with heart, this is a story that shines a light on what matters most in life. It’s rife with emotion, memories, and the idea of recapturing lost chances. I love how the author brought her characters to life while painting a picture that spans from backwoods squalor to the glitz of the celebrity spotlight. A quick read, this enchanting novella is polished, heartwarming, and all-around entertaining. A beautiful holiday gem!  

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

Now a recent review for latest release by Mae Clair – Things Old and Forgotten

About the book

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

A recent review for the stories

Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2021

Things Old and Forgotten is a brilliantly crafted collection of some of the best short stories I’ve been fortunate enough to discover. Author Mae Clair proves she is more than a simple writer of tales. What she possesses is an impressive ability to sculpt scenes and characters that are both vivid and brimming with life.

Clair’s narrative voices reveal their stories in poetic tones. Each tale contains a balanced texture of dark and light embedded within. What you think might happen, often doesn’t. And that’s the genius of so many of these short works.

Remembering Sadie is perhaps my favorite of the collection. This piece tells the story of a man left behind to grieve the loss of a loved one. The twist at the end is a wonderful reminder that love comes from the heart—regardless of the recipient.

Another standout is the dark tone of Desert White. A man attempts to take his own life in the desert, only to be met by a stranger. But is this stranger man or angel? Redemption versus forgiveness in the underlying theme here.

Kin-Slayer runs a close second as my favorite. This one is a bit dark with fantasy, folklore, and dystopian elements. There’s only one way to appease the beastly Leviathan, and that is with three of the choicest First Daughters in a quaint fishing village. But not all is as it seems—especially where Leviathan is concerned.

No matter the genre, Mae Clair excels as a master artist of short fiction. Each story remains with the reader—even after you’ve moved on to the next one. If you’re a fan of fully formed short fiction, Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair is a collection that belongs on your Kindle.  

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

The final recent review today is for latest release by Stevie Turner…#Family #LGBTQ His Ladyship

About the book

Norman Wicks is 57, overweight, and has diabetes. He is sick of his life. He has never left home, had a girlfriend, or held down any kind of job. The only friends he has are online, as he prefers to stay in the comfort zone of his bedroom. His devoted 92 year old mother Agnes waits on him hand and foot.

Norman has a secret he has kept hidden from the world for the majority of his life, but now he is desperate to bring it out into the open. He is terrified of how his family will react. However, for his own happiness and peace of mind, Norman must find a way to tell his mother and siblings exactly what they do not want to hear.

HIS LADYSHIP reached the finals and the Longlist of the 2021 Page Turner Awards

One of the recent reviews for the book

Anita Dawes 4.0 out of 5 stars Such an amazing journey…  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 November 2021

This story opens when Norman was just four years old, bitterly unhappy with his birthday presents. He was already raising eyebrows at his choice of friends and the toys he preferred to play with. Even at the age of four, he knew he was different.

As he grows up, he becomes increasingly confused and unhappy, hiding away from the world. Eventually becoming something he likes even less, overweight, uncaring of anything or anybody, and obsessed with his fantasies.

Normans struggle was like watching a butterfly appearing from a chrysalis. Not immediately beautiful, but the signs were there.

His journey was long, painful and frustrating, but finally ending with him achieving happiness.

Although I rooted for him throughout, I couldn’t help wishing he hadn’t wasted so much time…  

A small selection of books by Stevie Turner

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

 

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