Welcome to the Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair with a selection of books from personally recommended authors on my bookshelf I believe will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and for you.
The first book today is the release by Mary Crowley, an author I enjoy reading, and my review for Recipes and Tales from the Kitchen of Oceanic Temptations: A Taste of the Wild Atlantic Way
About the book
Meet the women of Oceanic Temptations and try their recipes…..
Oceanic Temptations Café is featured in the novel, A Sweet Smell of Strawberries.
Kilmer Cove sits on the beautiful coastline of Donegal where the Connolly family has strived to keep their beloved father’s legacy alive by adapting their farmland and extending their businesses, one of which is Oceanic Temptations.
Ocean Temptations started out as a small farm shop run by Sarah Connolly and her sister-in-law Lily selling fresh produce from the farm and home baking. The two women soon discovered the need to expand their business and take on more staff, due to its idyllic spot along The Wild Atlantic Way. Oceanic Temptations Café was built to accommodate passing coaches of tourists on their way to Fanad Head Lighthouse. It also became a place for locals from the seaside town of Kilmer Cove to meet and socialise.
This book tells the stories of the four women who work together in Oceanic Temptations. Lily, Olive, Lena, and Sarah along with their specialty deserts, some prose, and a selection of recipes.
A Taste of the Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s first defined touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork. It was a yearly trip to Donegal where my son Steven competed in the Errigal Youth Tour in 2016, 2017 and 2018, which inspired the setting for A Sweet Smell of Strawberries, having fallen in love with the beautiful coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way.
My review for the book August 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Sweet Smell of Strawberries by Mary Crowley and was delighted that some of those memorable characters from that book would be featured again.
This is an unusual recipe book, as it is combined with short stories reflecting the lives of four women who work together at The Kitchen of Oceanic Temptations on the coast of Donegal. It is based after the Covid lockdown when all businesses are struggling with getting back on their feet, particularly in the heavily restricted hospitality industry.
Lily is strong and resilient but is hiding a frightening secret from her husband and friends and will need all their love and support.
Olive has a grown family but realises after many years of marriage that life has passed her by and now wonders if her relationship can survive sudden and shocking news.
Lena and her husband have built a life far from their homeland, leaving behind a tragedy that still haunts them and might drive them apart.
Sarah has built a wall around her emotions and is reluctant to love again, happy to be friends with and a substitute mother and sister to the other women in her life and the one man she trusts but keeps at a distance.
Kilmer Cove as also attracted the attention of a gang of thieves who will impact the lives of these women and those they love in a dangerous way, adding an extra edginess to the book.
Between the stories you will find some delicious recipes with a larger section towards the end of the book, before a satisfying final story to bring the book to a close.
The recipes include such delights as apple tart, cup cakes, mini chocolate eclairs, chocolate brownies, scones and homemade strawberry jam, coronation chicken filling, strawberry cheesecake, raspberry and chocolate roulade, bacon and onion quiche and lasagne.
With wonderfully crafted stories and memorable characters, easy to follow recipes, I have no doubt you will leave as satisfied with this book as I was.
Head over to buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US
Also by Mary Crowley
Find out more about Mary Crowley and buy the books: Amazon UK – And on : Amazon US – Follow Mary : Goodreads – Blog/Website: Mary Crowley WordPress – Twitter: @marycrowleym
The next book is set in South Africa and is set in the present and during the Second Anglo Boer War. A book I every much enjoyed. A Ghost and his Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
About the book
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summons a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death.
As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
One of the reviews for the book
“A Ghost and His Gold,” by Robbie Cheadle, was a pleasant surprise. The author takes us to South Africa, where Tom and Michelle Cleveland have recently purchased a house in the town of Irene. During a housewarming party and a chance encounter with a Ouija board, readers are drawn back to the era of the second Boer War where Great Britain’s army tried to regain what it lost in the first war. Somewhere along the way, the lure of gold and riches sets the stage for a ghost adventure like no other!
The Ouija board proves to be the catalyst that opens the door to the past. Michelle is the most receptive to the spirit world. When the others shrug off the temperature changes and the exploding bottles, Michelle senses the ghostly presence.
The next day, she researches the local history of the area and specifically the house they live in. Michelle makes some interesting discoveries, not only about the house but about Tom and how he lived the year before she met him. By the time Estelle (a supernatural ghost) makes her presence known, Michelle and Tom have collapsed into a paranormal hell.
Writing about ghosts can be tricky, and this author handles the paranormal aspects of the book well. Supernatural ghosts always have a past agenda to work through. They remain on the earthly plane until their personal trauma or unfinished business is resolved and they can pass into the light. Estelle, the ghost, makes Tom the target of her ire as the reader witnesses his descent into madness.
The historical aspects of the book are as well presented as the paranormal aspects. Cheadle retells the bloody horror of the Second Boer War in all its graphic detail. This history cements the different aspects of the story joining the past and the present into a cyclical supernatural event.
In the end, the story is really about family. We learn the story of the Boer farmer, Pieter, and his daughter Estelle’s tragic life. Estelle’s story is truly unforgettable. Be mindful that emotional abuse and trauma within family relationships could trigger some readers.
This book was so much more than a ghost story. It’s a complex read, dealing with many themes that mirror the present-day, including racism, rape, family issues, and much more. I struggled with my feelings throughout the book, and it felt like I had embarked on a roller coaster of emotion. However, I will not forget the characters, or what I learned about the Second Boer War or the history of Africa. I found the book to be an excellent read!
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK
A small selection of other books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle and as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
Find out more about Roberta Eaton Cheadle and buy the books : Amazon US – And:Amazon UK – Follow Robbie : Goodreads – blog: Robbie’s Inspiration- Twitter: @bakeandwrite
The final book today is another I have read and can recommend. Vanished is the debut thriller set in Haiti by Mark Bierman.
About the book
Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.
Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.
One of the recent reviews for the book
It would seem that on the most basic level of humanity children should be protected, nurtured and loved. It’s a concept most find little to no argument with. But this isn’t always the case. Vanished a debut novel by Mark Bierman is the story of John and Tyler (father and son-in-law) who travel to Haiti to help build an orphanage, and in turn find solace after the recent loss of their wife/daughter.
Things take a turn when the daughter of a friend is kidnapped. The two missionaries from America find themselves quickly learning a harsh reality, children in this poverty stricken part of the world are not safe. Child trafficking is a huge issue. One in which, sadly, the local authorities seem indifferent to. Despite the obvious disadvantages of being in a foreign country and a language barrier, John and Tyler take it upon themselves to find her. They embark on a very exasperating journey with great opposition.
Mark Bierman is very good at creating multiple storylines which read as separate but come together to tell a very well crafted story. One which delves into the scourge of humanity from all angles. I was instantly drawn in (especially with the plight of Janjak). Vanished is fast paced, and heart-wrenching. A very well written journey into the lengths mankind will take to preserve what is right and good in the world, against those who fight just as hard to maintain the evil.
I really love this book, it is an eye opener. It makes one contemplate what they would be willing to do in order to keep their loved ones and society safe. I highly recommend it.
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US– And: Amazon UK
50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.
Discover more about Mark Bierman and buy the book: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPress – Twitter: @mbiermanauthor
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books thanks Sally.