Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #Romance #Mystery Mae Clair, #Truecrime Sue Coletta, #SouthernCulture Claire Fullerton


Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first book today with a recent review is Myth and Magic by Mae Clair

About the book

AS CHILDREN THEY PLAYED GAMES OF MYTH AND MAGIC…

Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

THEN ONE DAY THE MONSTERS BECAME REAL.

After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

A recent review for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Romance and Mystery  Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2021

A wonderful romance/cozy mystery mash-up by one of my go-to authors. Veronica is the manager of the Stone Willow Lodge, owned by the wealthy Breckwood family. Ghost-sightings and other more gruesome events are disturbing the guests and making hay for the local newspaper whose goal seems to be driving the inn out of business. To find out what’s going on, the Breckwoods hire a private investigator who happens to be the black sheep of the family.

Caith unwillingly returns to his childhood town, pressured by his young son who wants to see his cousins and grandfather. Caith brings along a ton of psychological baggage based on old trauma that he’s unable to deal with. He and Veronica have their own issues to clear, but the attraction is as strong as ever (when she isn’t furious with him).

The romance part of the story is stormy and satisfying. The mystery part is much more… well, mysterious. The tension amps up as gruesome events at the lodge escalate and Caith runs into family resistance. The author slowly reveals Caith’s past, and I couldn’t help but worry that the tragedy of his history would repeat itself. There are red herrings and lots of potential suspects.

The plot is well done, with appropriate foreshadowing, and I didn’t know who the culprits were until the reveal. I have to say though that Caith and his three brothers stole the show. The relationships were complicated, but there were moments of pure joy too. A highly recommended standalone read for fans of deftly entwined romances and cozy mysteries.

A selection of books by Mae Clair

Mae Clair, Buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Mae on: Goodreads
Website: Mae Clair – Twitter: @MaeClair1

The second author with a recent review is for bestselling crime author Sue Coletta and Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs

About the book

For four centuries, New England has been a cradle of crime and murder—from the Salem witch trials to the modern-day mafia. Nineteenth century New England was the hunting ground of five female serial killers: Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson.

Female killers are often portrayed as caricatures: Black Widows, Angels of Death, or Femme Fatales. But the real stories of these women are much more complex. In Pretty Evil New England, true crime author Sue Coletta tells the story of these five women, from broken childhoods, to first brushes with death, and she examines the overwhelming urges that propelled these women to take the lives of a combined total of more than one-hundred innocent victims. The murders, investigations, trials, and ultimate verdicts will stun and surprise readers as they live vicariously through the killers and the would-be victims that lived to tell their stories.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Jul 11, 2021 Colin Garrow rated it five stars

Exploring murder in nineteenth century New England, crime writer Sue Coletta tells the stories of five female serial killers – Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason and Sarah Jane Robinson. Delving into their individual backgrounds, she looks at the events that drove these women to a point where they chose to commit murder. Between the five, they killed more than one hundred people, many of which were members of their own families.

Though I’m familiar with many of the famous serial killers of the 1800s in my own country (UK), I’m less aware of America’s Victorian murderers, so hadn’t heard of any of these women or the details of their crimes. Carrying out meticulous research, the author recounts how each one went about their nefarious deeds and the ensuing consequences. What I found most interesting was that the preferred method of all five was to use poison – that old stalwart of Victorian killers – arsenic. It’s also interesting that many of the women murdered their own children and husbands – in some cases several husbands!

Using witness testimonies and court records, Sue Coletta tells a captivating tale of lies, deceit and an appalling number of murders. She also reveals how some of the attending physicians involved managed to make colossal mistakes in their diagnoses (in terms of cause of death). If these serial killers hadn’t knocked off so many people, perhaps they might never have been caught.

A fascinating account of Victorian murders in New England. 

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

A selection of books by Sue Coletta

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – follow Sue : Goodreads website/blog: Sue ColettaTwitter: @SueColetta1

The final author today is Claire Fullerton with a review for her novel Little Tea.

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Jul 06, 2021 Marta Ratliff rated it five stars it was amazing

Very well written

I loved the way Little Tea took 3 friends from teen years to their 50’s. No one knows the sruggles of life like your lifetime buddies! It seems not much was different in the 80s with interracial relationships than when I was growing up in the 60’s. Claire Fullerton has a way with words and there were times she brought me to tears! Now I better wait to start another book to savor this one for a few days. 

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Blog: Claire Fullerton WordPress – Twitter: @Cfullerton3 

 

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors 2021 – #Southernculture Claire Fullerton, #Shortstories Joy Lennick and Jean Wilson, #RussianHistory Marina Osipova


Over the summer I will be updating author’s details in the Cafe and Bookstore and also sharing their bios, books and recent reviews with you in this series…

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 August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, 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

A recent review for Little Tea 

May 23, 2021 Dianna Rostad rated it it was amazing

“2020 Gold Medal Winner in Southern Fiction in the International Reader’s Favorite Book Awards”

Gorgeous writing! I can almost taste the sweet tea and feel the balmy afternoons breeze over my skin. Fullerton immerses you in the landscape and sentiments of the American South. The story moves deftly between present time and the character’s childhoods, where the roots of their troubles are firmly anchored. Changing attitudes and generational prejudice are front and center in this poignant story where the next generation teaches their elders a few lessons in tolerance, the unbreakable bonds of friendship, and ultimately love.  

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Twitter: @Cfullerton3

Meet Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current faction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

Supposedly ‘Retired,’ I now live in Spain with my husband and have three great sons.

Books by Joy Lennick

A recent review for Where Angel & Devils Tread

The charm of this collection of short stories written by Joy lennick and Jean Wilson, is that all of them are driven by interesting and authentic characters in a manner reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s novels. The superstitions, petty prejudices, and pleasures of these very English characters allow for thoroughly engaging stories with plenty of tongue-in-cheek British humour when circumstances and planned actions bring calamity down on their heads. I enjoyed the plots of the various stories but it is the style of the writing that made this a five star read for me.

A few examples of the humour which had me laughing as I visualized the characters are as follows:

“When I managed to get in I could see that Manny had left his mortal coil and wouldn’t be needing any more injections. I have to say the wife beater was very useful and I have developed a philosophy rather like the Ying and Yang that even dead losses have their uses on occasion.” This extract is from Aldgate’s Angel by Jean Wilson which tells the story of a queen’s nurse in 1950s London. In those days the nurses used to make house visits to attend to certain chronic patients. The conditions in which many of these patients lived were eye opening for me and the wry humour pulled at my heartstrings even as I chuckled.

“Mr Lawson, an ex-banker had been caught stealing some cigars from the newsagent along the road. The fool hadn’t remembered that they had security cameras and his antics were well and truly viewed, although a little mistily, and he was arrested without ceremony and taken to the local police station. Angie Roberts had given a hyena-type short laugh. It was typical of bank managers to help themselves to whatever they wanted. She held them responsible for the state the country was in.” This extract is from Death By Design by Jean Wilson in which the residents of a retirement home decide to take the righting of certain wrongs into their own hands.

“Kosher his mother’s home was not. He smiled as she flitted across his consciousness. Having decided while he was still in the womb that he should be a lawyer, she was disappointed when he became a detective, calling him a “Klutz!” adding “You could be killed!”
However, the fact that his younger brother, -“My son, Joseph, the doctor!” – fulfilled a birth wish, left her happy.” from Freeze by Joy Lennick, a murder investigation into the death of a small time crook and drug addict. The investigation grows legs and leads to some interesting findings.

“Adam was fortunate in the fact he had a head for figures and was ambitious. Very! The fact that he worked out and possessed a certain, while to some, oily, charm; had an enviable head of dark head, and expressive eyes the shade of malt whisky, helped his cause – social climbing. But, the years had thinned his hair somewhat and peppered it with several grey strands which persisted in battling against the dyes he tried.” from The Menu/Shopping List by Joy Lennick. When Piers, formerly Adam, Smythe finds a shoping list/menu in a second hand book, he decides the imagined available, attractive, likely well-heeled author of the letter is perfect for someone like him. He is in for his comeuppance.  

Read the reviews and by the books : Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Joy : Goodreads – Blog: Joy Lennick at WordPressTwitter: @LennickJoy

Meet Marina Osipova

Marina Osipova was born in East Germany into a military family and grew up in Russia where she graduated from the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives. She also has a diploma as a German language translator from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages. In Russia, she worked first in a scientific-technical institute as a translator then in a Government Ministry in the office of international relations, later for some Austrian firms. For seventeen years, she lived in the United States where she worked in a law firm. Eventually, she found her home in Austria. She is an award-winning author and a member of the Historical Novel Society.

Books by Marina Osipova

One of the recent reviews for Push Me Off The Cliff

pamarella 5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!!  Reviewed in the United States on June 17, 2021

Wow!! A beautiful book. The dedication and determination of Soviet women during WWII always amazes me. Maria’s character is strong and unyielding. An amazing woman. I loved her character in the beginning of the book but even more so as the book progressed. She shines and is such a wonderful woman to persevere as she did. Armen is a lovable guy and suffers so much. He was blessed with a wonderful singing voice and singing helped him through his greatest trials as well as encouraging others who were suffering.

My heart just broke for him. I loved the relationship he had with his mother. A strong woman. Learning about the tragic genocide of the Armenian Christians was heartbreaking and something I didn’t know. The suffering the people of the Soviet Union went through is horrible, yet the disabled veterans suffered far greater as they had no hope, no life and were reduced to becoming beggars, criminals or “prisoners” on an island with deplorable conditions. A few wonderful women pop in at various times and are the light and kindness these men need. The book has a beautiful, glorious ending which kept me smiling as I read. Please read this book. You will love it, I’m sure.

I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by this wonderful author. pamarella PRCS

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And on: Amazon UK – follow Marina : Goodreads – website:Marina OsipovaTwitter: @marosikok

 

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews #Family Lisette Brodey, #SouthernCulture Claire Fullerton, #Fantasy Tyler Edwards


Welcome to the first of the author updates this week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first review today is for the latest book from LIsette Brodey.. a story of family and relationships The Sum of our Sorrows.

About the book

In an idyllic suburb in Northern California, tragedy strikes the Sheppard family when Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is killed in a car accident. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car with her mother and survives without physical injury but remains deeply scarred on the inside.

Dalton tells Lily, his eldest daughter, that she must sacrifice long-awaited college plans and put her life on hold to take care of her sisters. Lily is torn between her devotion to family and an increasing need to find her place in the world — but how can she leave, knowing her family may crumble? Will her presence eventually cause more problems than it resolves?

The Sum of our Sorrows reveals how the aftermath of a family tragedy can precipitate sorrows never imagined. It is a tale of grief, hope, healing, coming-of-age, friendship, and survival. It is also a love story of two broken souls living through pain in search of better days and the renewal of one’s spirit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write characters as I hear them speak to me. Some of these stories contain non-gratuitous expletives and sexual references. This book also contains some situations that may be triggering to some readers. If this is not to your liking, please don’t read this book. Thank you.

A recent review for the book

Jan 30, 2021 Richard Schwindt rated it it was amazing
Lisette Brodey is one of those authors who writes for her readers. It occurred to me while reading The Sum of Our Sorrows that if you like to lose yourself in a good story featuring relatable people (and a few nasty ones), Brodey, and this book in particular, was for you. It begins in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. Eighteen year old Lily, along with her 2 younger sisters lose their mother in car crash. Her fifteen year old sister is in the car and traumatized. Her father is devastated, drinking and seems to lose himself. In the weeks that follow Lily will lose her friends and dreams too. This family is tortured in its grief, and she has to hold it all together. The story follows her, and the subsequent events, leading to love, disclosure and redemption. I have rarely appreciated the writer’s commitment to good fluid prose more than in this book. It is a cliché to say that you were “captured by the story” but in this case I certainly was. I can see The Sum of Our Sorrows appealing to many diverse readers on that basis alone. Highly recommended, with tea by the garden.

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

A selection of books by Lisette Brodey

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Lisette: Goodreads – Website/blog: Lisette Brodey – Twitter: @LisetteBrodey – Facebook: Lisette.Brodey

The next author today is Claire Fullerton with a review for her novel Little Tea.

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book

T. Bakken 5.0 out of 5 stars Friends Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2021

I knew in the first pages of Little Tea that Fullerton’s storytelling would transport me. Her descriptive passages about the humidity and verdant landscape are palpable. I knew I would feel at home in the female company of the three friends reunion on the lake. Fullerton weaves their past and present and deep understanding of one another together beautifully. What I didn’t know was that this story – of friendships, and first loves, and reliving the triumphs and tragedies of the past – would carry profound lessons on what it means to be happy, balanced, and open minded. Fullerton is a skilled linguist and philosopher – wrapped up in a fantastic storyteller. Little Tea is a gift I’m so glad I opened!

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

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Blog: Claire Fullerton WordPress – Twitter: @Cfullerton3

Delighted to welcome Tyler Edwards to the Cafe and Bookstore with his books and today I am featuring his latest release the dystopian, science fiction novel The Outlands

About the book

In the ruins of the world that was lies the city of Dios, a haven protected from the hostile environment known as The Outlands. Ruled by an oppressive Patriarch, the people of Dios are conditioned in fear. The smallest infraction could result in banishment to the Outlands, a fate worse than death.

With his make-shift family of “Undesirables”, Jett Lasting struggles to find his place in a world where drawing attention to yourself can get you killed. His very existence is considered a crime. To survive, he must avoid guards, beggar gangs, and an ever-growing tension that could drag the whole city into chaos.

Jett unwittingly becomes entwined in a plot to overthrow the government where his choices could lead to freedom or the death of everyone he’s ever known or cared about.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Nancy S 5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Story that will keep you on the edge of your seat Reviewed in the United States on February 5, 2021

I couldn’t put this book down. If you like sci-fi, dystopian fiction, you must read this one. The twists and turns don’t stop. My only complaint is that it ended too soon!! Looking forward to the next book in this series.

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

Also by Tyler Edwards

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Tyler: Goodreads – Facebook: Tyler Edwards Twitter: @tedwardsccc

 

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

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Supernatural John W. Howell, #Pilgrims Noelle Granger, #Southernculture Claire Fullerton.


Welcome to the Friday Edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first book  today with a recent review is  Eternal Road: The Final Stop by John W. Howell..

About the book

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save mankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.

A recent review for the book

Barbara W. Burke5.0 out of 5 stars If you want an exciting new adventure, then this is the book for you!  Reviewed in the United States on December 25, 2020

This is an amazing read! The first two pages lead one into one direction, then, suddenly off into an exciting new direction. Hardly able to put the book down. Highly recommended for those wanting a completely new adventure, unlike anything one has read, before.

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

Other books by John Howell

 Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USand : Amazon UK – Goodreads: John Howell Goodreads Blog: John W. Howell. com – Twitter@HowellWave

The next recent review today is for The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger.

About the book

This book captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.

Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699.

Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil.

What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.

A recent review for the book

Kindle Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars A most interesting read.  Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience though did become confused at times as to the relationships of people. I wonder if there was much inbreeding or if some of the religious rules were in effect against kinsmen marrying.

The frequent deaths especially of the women in childbirth was heart wrenching. The constant work for the good wives was unimaginable as compared to today’s times. We live such a cooshy life nowadays. With perinatal death and or maternal death grounds for malpractice.

The thoroughness of the research and attention to details was admirable. I could imagine myself in the house, garden or fields while I read this book. I would highly recommend this book as both an enthralling look into our past as well as emotional journey through the eyes of a wonderful woman’s life.

Thank you Noelle, for your fantastic journey you allowed us to accompany you on. It will stay with me for a very long time.

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

Also by N.A. Granger

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK Blog:Sayling Away – Goodreads:Noelle A. Granger – Twitter:@NAGrangerAuthor

The final author today is Claire Fullerton with a review for her novel Little Tea.

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book

Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2020

I’ve just discovered a rare gem!

Beloved author, Pat Conroy left behind a legacy that weaves it’s way through so much of southern fiction, but I trust he stopped by Claire Fullerton’s pen and whispered some of his wisdom! The proof is in her novel “Little Tea”!

She has that same knack of real-life, honest storytelling wrapped in beautifully eloquent prose. Every word being composed so harmoniously with the next.

So refreshing!

Speaking of racism and social issues with both gentle heart and pulsating tension.

Love and relationships are lovely, exuberant, determined and even heartbreaking. When everything is cracking open like a broken glass on the hot Memphis asphalt, the sun is still shining through it.

Claire Fullerton speaks of the South and being a Southerner as a status only a few can attain. Almost a deserving right! The highest of honors! I love that she reveres the South so deeply and sincerely. She writes about the South with such love, you can sense her devotion! She elevates the Southern voice!! Claire is a true gift to both Southern and Literary Fiction!

I was completely enamored and enraptured with this story and each of characters. I even found myself beginning to put the book down one night, only to chose not to because I was just too captivated with even the places and more!! I just couldn’t sleep!

That same night, I found I was reading the last sentence, and I knew without a doubt I had been introduced to one of the most talented writers of our time!

In closing, I look forward to reading Claire Fullerton’s Collection! Time to order every single book!

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

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Blog: Claire Fullerton WordPress – Twitter: @Cfullerton3

 

Thank you for dropping by today and I hope you are leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Reviews #Dystopian Alex Craigie, #YA Angie Dokos, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan, #SouthernCulture Claire Fullerton, #Pilgrims Noelle Granger


Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be sharing authors with their recent reviews or new releases. Books make great gifts for Christmas and I hope you enjoy today’s selection.

The first author today is Alex Craigie with my own review for the thought provoking Acts of Convenience a dystopian thriller

About the book

Imagine, if you will, a near future where governments adopt policies that suit them rather than the people they were elected to represent.

Imagine a near future where old age and chronic problems are swept away with expedient legislation. I know; it’s an unlikely scenario.

However, it’s a scenario in which Cassie Lincoln finds herself. It’s a scenario that compels her to take action.  It’s a scenario that leads to despair and danger.

My review for the book on November 3rd 2020

I am now of an age when I do feel concerned when I read headlines about the future burden of the elderly and questions about where is the money to come from to fund their care. Added to that the stories of neglect in some care homes and the impact of the pandemic on those living in isolation from family and friends, it does make you wonder where you will find yourself in ten or twenty years time.

Not everyone can be self-sufficient and having worked all their lives until retirement, laying the corner stones of modern society, surely that is a time of reward not censure.

Alex Craigie’s book is an eye-opener and also a disturbing glimpse of one of the possible outcomes of today’s whispers and mutterings at higher levels in Government, and in the think tanks as they discuss options for twenty and thirty years ahead.

It is a thriller with an unlikely protagonist in the form of a hard-working nurse as she becomes a mother, then grandmother whilst still walking the corridors of the local hospital. She is in the shadows as far as those in charge are concerned and as such she hears and sees things over the years that are troubling.

During those years successive ministers, including Prime Ministers, begin to put progressively more inhumane policies in place that initially seem benign, but have long term consequences on the population as they reach retirement. Personal agendas, ambition and greed are their motivations and not the good of certain sectors of society. A wedge is being driven between the young and the elderly as governmental spin doctors market to one at the expense of the other.

The author lays the groundwork to the outcome of twenty plus years of governmental manipulation in the first third of the book when the pace of the story picks up.

Can individuals or small groups of dissenters have an impact on an entrenched attitude towards the vulnerable in our society? In this novel they certainly do their best, despite at times violent opposition and corruption at the heart of the NHS. There are some heart stopping moments, and times when it seems that reaching a satisfactory ending to the story is unlikely.

The author has created some strong characters and also scenarios that are thought provoking. Despite the slower first third of the book, it did serve to remind us of the insidiousness of the drip feed of discriminatory policies that might go largely unnoticed over twenty or thirty years, it also introduced us to the characters who come together in a fight for justice. The author did a great job of making me consider my old age in a more constructive way.

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

Also by Alex Craigie

 

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Alex: Goodreads – Alex Craigie via: Facebook

The next author is Angie Dokos with a recent review for her YA novel Roadside

About the book

Zayne finds Serena’s lifeless body off the side of the road one morning. She has been beaten and left for dead. As she recovers, they become the best of friends. It doesn’t take long for Zayne’s feelings to grow stronger. Will the fear of ruining their friendship keep them from taking a chance on love?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Wendy Landsiedel5.0 out of 5 stars Friends and Family  Reviewed in the United States on August 12, 2020

Great YA story that includes strong family relationships and great friends. A fabulous storyline without all of the harsh language. Romance not unbridled lust. Well done Angie.

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

Also by Angie Dokos

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Angie : Goodreads –  website: Angie Dokos WordPress –  Twitter: @AngieDokos

The next author is M.C.V Egan with a review for her novel Defined by Others.

About the book

A word, a single word defines a moment for Anne. She needs to find a new one when her spouse, Frank, leaves her at the age of forty-seven, coming out of the closet literally in a closet.

She finds herself back in her hometown of Skvallerby, Connecticut among her high school friends which she had left in her past.

An inheritance from a frenemy leaves her with the means to meddle and spy on the lives of mutual acquaintances.

In an attempt to run from her reality Anne becomes engrossed in a game of fun and flirtation with her friend and fellow sufferer Connie.

Their fun games turn into a deadly reality. It is no longer a game. Life, death and not even a defining word can stop the reality of manipulation.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Nancy Allen (The Avid Reader) VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars Games played with people’s lives……  Reviewed in the United States on August 14, 2020

Anne a 47 year-old woman’s husband has just left her for a man. After learning that a long lost friend of hers from her hometown in Florida has died and left her an inheritance Anne takes off to Florida to receive her inheritance and you know just go home for a little while, while she deals with a divorce.

Anne’s inheritance is not quite what she was expecting. No the inheritance was just a laptop and a video explaining about the inheritance. Anne’s friend Amanda has invited her to continue playing her little online game messing with other people’s lives.

The way I saw it was that after learning about Anne’s husband leaving her for a man played a big role in Amanda’s decision to invite Anne to play her game. I think that Amanda thought that playing this little online game would be sort of like a coping mechanism or some sort of therapy for Anne. Not that I agree with it but I do get the why behind it well sort of.

Anne reunites with another of her friends from high school, Connie who is herself dealing with divorce. Anne invites Connie to stay with her in her mother’s home. Anne invites Connie to play the game with her. Connie accepts.

I did make one connection with Anne and that is her connection with a word. I don’t have the same connection with a word as Anne does but I do love words. I love to read so therefore I love words. I remember telling a friend once that if I see a word I will read it. (There is a longer version of this story but I won’t bore you will the details now.)

What drew me to read Defined by Others was the author M.C.V. Egan and her writing. I am always up for reading one of her books actually I believe I have read all of her books now well with the exception of the revised edition of The Bridge of Deaths. I would recommend all of her books even if you don’t read that genre. So if you have not read one of M.C.V. Egan’s books what are you waiting for? Head on over to your favorite place to purchase books and start clicking.

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

Also by M.C.V. Egan

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow M.C.V. Egan: Goodreads –  Website: The Bridge of Deaths – Twitter: @M.C.V_Egan

The next author today is Claire Fullerton with a review for her novel Little Tea, which I can also highly recommend

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Sep 26, 2020 D.G. Kaye rated it Five Stars

A tale that encompasses several topics of life – family, friendship, racism, mental health, and tragedy. Southern fiction at its best. We’re introduced to the triangular friendship between Celia, Renny and Ava, friends from childhood, in a reunion visit up to Renny’s lakehouse where the girls recant stories, memories, and unresolved issues from their pasts, introducing the many characters who played parts in their lives.

Celia managed to leave the deep south and is happily married now living in California, but the girlfriend reunion brings up some painful memories that Celia Wakefield finds herself now having to put closure on, including her ex-fiance Tate whose deep south family wasn’t too accepting of Celia’s close friendship with ‘black people’, – mainly her oldest best friend Little Tea and her family. And once tragedy struck within the plantation, a silent slithering away of Tate occurred.

The story goes back and forth through time – current day at Renny’s lake house in Arkansas where the reunion takes place and back in the 1980s when they were younger girls where we’re taken into Celia’s younger life with her family living in Mississippi on their cotton plantation and the black hired help living on that land in a cottage, becoming closer than most with their white bosses in the still divided south. Thelonius and Elvita and their daughter Little Tea who becomes Celia’s best friend, and ultimately, the love interest of Celia’s brother Hayward – still in a dangerous time for mixed races to show themselves publicly, but accepted within the family – except for Celia’s eldest brother John who comes off racist.

In this story, the past comes back to haunt as it does in real life. Celia must find closure, Ava must choose her happiness between two men, and Renny is the host where everyone meets up at her place to mull over their pasts and solidfy their futures. Renny is the group organizer. And nobody knows the deep dark secrets better than the three girls.

Some wonderful prose to quote from this book. Here are just two:

Little Tea and Celia discussing Tea’s plans after graduating high school: “I know times have changed for people of color, but there’s a residue that’ll stick around forever.”

Celia talking to her brother Hayward about their grandmother’s racism, trying to figure why as someone who came from poverty and now riches, why she didn’t have compassion: “People attack what they fear.” “People always have to have something to look down on.”

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

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Twitter: @Cfullerton3

The final review today is for The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger, a book I can also highly recommend.

About the book

This book captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.

Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699.

Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil.

What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.

A recent review for the book

Sue Bavey4.0 out of 5 stars An detailed account of the life of Mary Allerton Cushman, a child passenger on the Mayflower  Reviewed in the United States on November 1, 2020

Since 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, UK to Plymouth, MA, I was interested in reading this account of the life of Mary Allerton Cushman. Mary was only four years old during the arduous journey made by the separatists, who later became known as pilgrims. Their story is well known in Massachusetts and taught from an early age. I was keen to read this account written for an adult audience and was rewarded by a narrative filled with a great deal of well-researched historical detail. Some of the events were relayed in a slightly unemotional manner, there could have been more excitement during the description of John Howland having fallen overboard and his rescue, and also an episode in which one of the cross beams of the Mayflower cracks during a heavy storm. These events, the illness and death below decks must have been terrifying.

The beginning of the book introduces us to Mary in 1699, as an elderly woman, looking back on her life. We then switch to her father, Isaac Allerton, in whose voice most of the early chapters are written, switching to Mary occasionally, as she gets a little older. When Mary reaches the age of 8 she is put out to live with another family, that of the Governor of the Plymouth colony. Mary’s behaviour is unruly and her father has struggled to tame her since the death of his wife on the Mayflower. This event is useful since the narrator is now a party to the majority of conversations held within the Governor’s house and through these we learn of relations with the local natives, the problems relating to debt which follow the settlers and the subsequent trade deals set up by Mary’s father, which have detrimental effects on his relationship with the governor and eventually lead to his leaving the colony.

It was interesting to hear in detail the processes which Mary must learn in order to become a goodwife: soap making, cooking, spinning flax into cloth and how to catch leeches in a bottle from a river, to name but a few. The author clearly spent plenty of time researching every possible aspect of life in the colony and describes it in an engaging manner. 4.5 stars

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

Also by N.A. Granger

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK Blog:Sayling Away – Goodreads:Noelle A. Granger – Twitter:@NAGrangerAuthor

 

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