Smorgasbord Bookshelf – Summer Book Fair 2022 – #Crimethriller Carol Balawyder, #Thriller #Haiti Mark Bierman


Over the course of the summer months I will be sharing the recommended authors who feature in the Smorgasbord Bookshelf along with their books and a selected review.

The first featured author today is Carol Balawyder – with her coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.

As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.

Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

One of the reviews for the book

Jacqui Murray VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars The twisted turns of love  Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2021

Carol Balawyder’s Just Before Sunrise (2021) is the story of a wealthy older man who marries a former owner of a high priced call girl business (which is how the two met). Nadine accepts this proposal as her chance to escape her past life but soon realizes (shock!) that he is not the knight in shining armor she had hoped for. It isn’t long before she dislikes him as much as he disrespects her. She is a master of manipulating men–

“Nadine had the kind of body you read about in pulp fiction novels”

So she persuades the older man’s thirty-something son–Charlie–to help her kill him so the two can be together. To cover their tracks, they involve a recently homeless and orphaned teen–Maya–who has been entrusted with the job of preparing a lakefront home to be used as a halfway house which happens to be next door to Carlie’s home. Maya falls for Charlies and not-so-reluctantly agrees to help him cover up the murder. If you read “cover up” as “take the blame for the homicide”, you have the gist of what will happen.

Tangentially, thirty-something Adam falls in love with an older woman (the same one who hires Maya to fix up the home) but leaves her because he wants children and she doesn’t. That sounds simple but it sure isn’t. You’ll see when you read it. The overlap between these two plots is clever and intriguing.

At its core, this is a love story but filled with hate and lies and hurt feelings and unusual events and so much more. Love in this book isn’t a synonym for blissfully happy or the answer to dreams. In this case, it’s more fake than real but young Maya doesn’t realize that.

A clever, enticing read that you won’t want to stop once you start. Recommended for those who like unusual love stories that are darker than cozy but still fulfilling.  

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

A selection of books by Carol Balawyder

Read reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Read more reviews : Goodreads – WebsiteCarol BalawyderLinkedIn: Carol Balawyder – Facebook: Carol Balawyder

About Carol Balawyder

I hold an undergraduate degree with a major on English Literature and a graduate degree in Criminology. I taught Criminology in Police Technology and Corrections programs in Montreal. My area of expertise was in drug addiction and I worked in a methadone clinic with heroin addicts. I helped set up a writing workshop for women in prison and worked in halfway homes and drug rehab centers.

My short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Canadian Anthology of Fiction, Mindful.or, Between the Lines and Carte Blanche. I was awarded an honorary mention for a play submitted to The Canadian Playwright Competition.

I manage a blog where I write about: Women Nobel Prize Winners for Literature, Famous Writers’ Desks, Femmes Fatales, India, Book Reviews and my dog, Bau. Carol Balawyder Blog

The next book today is that I have read and can recommend is Vanished 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

Beem Weeks 5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Look at Reality  Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2022

John and Tyler arrive in Haiti on a missionary trip. Their goal is to help with the construction of a much-needed orphanage on the island. But the men soon learn of the terrible dark underbelly of life in the Caribbean nation. The scourge of human trafficking soon invades their insulated world when a young girl they’ve come to know is taken. The two men decide the only thing to do is find the child and reunite her with her mother. Obstacles and hazards attempt to thwart the pair with life and death situations. The action is rapid and harrowing throughout.

Human trafficking is a dark subject—no matter the area of our world in which you live. Author Mark Bierman tackles this story with an eye on reality. He digs deep into the human psyche and sheds a light on monsters that are always close by. Vanished is one of those reads that will open your eyes and give you reason to re-think your comfortable lives. This one is worth a read. 

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

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

About Mark Bierman

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UKFollow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

 

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #Transylvania #History Patricia Furstenberg, #Thriller #Haiti Mark Bierman, #Shortstories Sally Cronin


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

The first review is for the recent release by Patricia Furstenberg – Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

About the book

In Transylvania’s History A to Z, a collection of 100-word stories sprinkled with breathtaking photographs, Patricia Furstenberg uses the confining rules of the 100-word story form to stirringly capture Transylvania, Romania’s historical and geographical region.

Transylvania’s unspoiled natural beauty, its tumultuous history, and the people who touched it are depicted in this book.
Written as snapshots, tall tales, and descriptive narratives, these 100-word stories are the espresso of creative writing.

A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1

Each 100 Words Story is followed by a brief historical reference

The unique beauty of a 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between the sentences. So much can be told, with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader, as each time the tale is read, a new detail springs to mind.

“As an armchair historian, I love researching lost tales, traveling, exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no detail is too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100-Word Stories based on the history of Transylvania.” (Patricia Furstenberg)

An recent review for the book

Anna B 4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing little snippets  Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2021

Ms Furstenberg has written something of a teaser book, an entertaining mix of short sections of lyrical prose and equally brief fact sections that cast glimmers of light on the complicated history of Transylvania, a region that has had more than its fair share of invaders and settlers.

I suspect it is Ms Furstenberg’s intention to tickle the reader’s curiosity–if so, she more than suceeds, as I find myself overcome with an urge to read up about Dacia, about Saxon emigrants to the region, about Vlad himself, about the complex history of modern Romania.

I particularly enjoyed the sections about language: sometimes, we forget that even today we use words our very, very ancient ancestors also used. Ms Furstenberg’s little book helps remind us all that we are all part of a long, long sequence of people, with (hopefully) as many to come after us as have gone before.  

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

A small selection of other books by Patricia Furstenberg (some in Afrikaans)

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK Blog: Alluring Creations Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @PatFurstenberg

The next author today is Mark Bierman with a review for his novel a thriller set in Haiti, Vanished which I can highly recommend.

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

John W. Howell VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written and fast paced story  Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2021

The first thing that impressed me about this book was that the author took on the heinous subject of human trafficking but managed to create a compelling story without resorting to gratuitous graphic violence and sex. Instead, he kept the story within the bounds of true-to-life human emotions.

The second thing that impressed me was the author’s ability to set scenes and describe the action using colorful and descriptive metaphors that frequently occurred throughout the story. Such descriptions brought the book alive.

The third thing that impressed me was the story itself. The author spent a great deal of time on research, and it showed in the details in the story. For example, Haiti’s setting is not on the usual tourist destination list, so common knowledge of customs and other nuances was not because of kicking back on vacation but took work to ferret out.

This book has plenty of action for those who like action. Although, it does require buying into the premise that a couple of Americans want to help find a kidnapped child just to do it. But, once you get there, the story is page-turning entertainment. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a well-written fast-paced story.  

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Follow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

Finally today I would like to share my own news about reviews in the last few weeks. I am so grateful to those who have read the most recent book and also older collections and here are just two.

Patricia Furstenberg Bookbub October 15th

Having thoroughly enjoyed three of Sally Cronin’s previous books, the humorous fiction-memoir ‘ Just an Odd Job Girl’, the flash-fiction ‘Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words’, and the short-stories and poems from ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries’, I knew that ‘Life is a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony’ will be also a treat.

Sally Cronin’s gentle spirit and big heart glow in this charming poetry collection all the way from the acknowledgements’ page where Sally includes two word clouds as a special ‘thank you’ to her writing community 🙂

In ‘Life is a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony’ the reader will discover poems that are pensive, witty, or jocular, sentimental or contemplative (of life, love and nature). The poet ponders on a wide range of themes, from the joys of being alive to the everyday confinement that Covid19 has brought to all humankind, and from nature’s everlasting timeline of to the ticking of inner human clock.
Beautiful pictures point out the essence of the poems.

My absolute favorite poems were the charmingly whimsy ‘The Wise Woman’s Apprentice’ (and I am not even a cat person!) and cool and intellectual ‘The Night Sky.’

‘Life is a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony’ is a contemplative collection that I highly recommend to poetry lovers.  

Oct 15, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing

I’ve read several books by Sally Cronin and she never disappoints.
This collection of short stories takes a name from the second half of the alphabet from K for Kenneth to Z for Zoe for its main characters. The progression through the alphabet is one that clearly has to follow set rules but the stories that accompany them are hugely varied and contain twists that I really enjoyed.

There’s love, grief, joy, hate, revenge and self-sacrifice – a wide range of emotions stirred by an expert wordsmith. The settings are very different from each other, too. There’s everything from a fictitious royal kingdom to a block of flats terrorised by bored teenagers; from WWII pilots to a self-service checkout with a mind of its own; from a fortune teller’s room to a Greek Island. Every one of them has that ability to make you feel deeply for the characters, and the endings are neatly done.

There’s much poignancy is stories such as Lily and Xenia, feel-good factors in Norman and Walter and plenty of humour and surprises in Queenie, Rosemary, Theresa and Yves. Some of these tales are touching accounts of love and loss but others have a delicious edge to them where payback comes into play!

This is a selection box of treats and you never know what flavour you’re getting until the end. I recommend you sample the delights for yourself!

My other books and recent reviews: Sally’s Books and Reviews 2021

Amazon: Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK – More reviews : Goodreads

 

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