Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews – #ParanormalThriller John W. Howell and Gwen Plano, #Thriller Toni Pike.


Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

My first review is from 2018 for The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano.

About The Contract

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires. A Great summer read.

My review for the book

The Contract is a fusion of fantasy, thriller and romance and is the debut novel of the new collaboration between John. W. Howell and Gwen Plano.

I have read all of John Howell’s books and enjoyed, so I was eager to find out how these two popular writers would rise to the challenge of collaborating.

The concept is intriguing, and the opening chapter sets out this well, with the introduction to two souls, who had little time on earth to enjoy their love of each other. They are tasked by the divine council with preventing a major catastrophe on earth that could threaten mankind, but it will mean that they will be separated and have no memory of their task. Their hosts are two people with the knowledge and skill set to overcome the threat, but they are thousands of miles apart and both in mortal danger.

The writers do a good job of bringing these two characters together; now infused with the souls who have been contracted to neutralise the upcoming disaster. Watched and abetted  by guardian angels, their relationship begins with subterfuge, but quickly becomes attraction, and then love strong enough to take them through to the end of their endeavour.

This love story runs parallel to the fast escalation of violence and intrigue that reveals hidden agendas and treason in high places. The story has a good pace and there is plenty of action to keep the thriller lovers engaged with a number of surprising twists and turns in the plot along the way.

The final confrontation is a fitting climax to the story, bringing together all the players and their roles in the conspiracy, in an action packed battle of good against evil.

I am sure that this writing duo will go from strength to strength following this creative and exciting debut.

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 on: Amazon UK – Goodreads:John Howell Goodreads Blog: John W. Howell. com – Twitter@HowellWave

Other books by Gwen Plano

Gwen Plano, Buy: Amazon US – and  : Amazon UK – follow Gwen : Goodreads – website:Gwen PlanoTwitter: @gmplano

The next review today is from 2019 and is for the psychological thriller by Toni Pike…..Desolation Bluff

About the book

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Rachel to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.

A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

My review for Desolation Bluff

Desolation Bluff is packed with suspense and action.

Life is challenging enough for those with a sight impairment, when trust of those around you is essential. Oliver Cameron feels blessed to have a highly successful writing career, loyal housekeeper, a wonderfully supportive wife and best friend and back from honeymoon, he couldn’t be happier.

As we become involved in the story, and are party to events that Oliver is not aware of, it is easy to become angry on his behalf as the depths of betrayal are exposed. How will he deal with the revelations that unfold? Seeking revenge requires careful planning but people will go to great lengths to protect their secrets. For some of those who are looking out for Oliver’s best interests, this can be dangerous. Especially when an unexpected ally turns up on the scene who might be less likely to be intimidated.

The characters are well drawn and the plot moves along at a good pace. It is easy to take sides as the story develops and the climax leaves you on the edge of your seat…. and Desolation Bluff.

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

Other books by Toni Pike

Toni Pike, Buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK –  Follow Toni:Goodreads – Website: Toni PikeTwitter: @piketoni1

 

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

 

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates -#Reviews – #Poetry Frank Prem, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Writers Harmony Kent


Welcome to the first of the cafe and bookstore updates this week, with recent reviews for authors on the shelves..

The first author is Frank Prem  with a review for his poetry collection – Walk away silver heart: Poetry inspired by the Amy Lowell poem ‘Madonna of the Evening Flowers’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 1)

About the collection

All day long I have been working
Now I am tired.
I call: “Where are you?”
But there is only the oak tree rustling in the wind . . .
from Madonna of the Evening Flowers

Drawing on the phrasing of the early 20th Century Amy Lowell poem Madonna of the Evening Flowers (above) Frank Prem has produced a collection of personal and interpersonal love poems written, as always, in the unique style that allows every reader to relate.

Prem’s interpretations breathe new life into contemporary love poetry and utilise Lowell’s original phrases to inspire a tender immediacy and warmth of response as in the eponymous poem:

silver heart
I look at you

see myself the way
I should have been

but something pure
was lost
along the way
from walk away (silver heart)

Walk Away Silver Heart is the first of three collections that together comprise A Love Poetry Trilogy, with each revisiting outstanding work by stellar poets of the past to produce vibrant new collections. The second collection, a kiss for the worthy, draws on Walt Whitman’s classic work Leaves of Grass, while the third, rescue and redemption, derives from T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

This is a new kind of poetry that tells stories, draws pictures and elicits emotional responses from readers. Just as the best poetry should.

A recent review for the collection

Emily Jo 5.0 out of 5 stars A Whimsical Read  Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2020

Walk Away Silver Heart is a romantic, whimsical journey from the mind of a lover. The character in the book watches his lover doing the most average, every day things, and yet, those tasks don’t seem so ordinary. As someone who is recently married, but peen with their partner for over 8 years, I find this book to be very realistic and true. There are days where I look at my husband and find whatever he’s doing to be so wholesome and so just “i love you.” Have you ever had that feeling? If you know what I’m talking about, that’s the feeling this book emanates. 

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Frank Prem

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Frank via his blog: Frank Prem WordPress

Now for a recent review for Toni Pike for The Magus Covenant The secret that will change the world (The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series Book 1)

About the book

THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT IS IN PERIL – UNLESS ONE MAN CAN UNCOVER THE TRUTH…

A long-forgotten sect, a deadly brotherhood, a billionaire who trades in relics and a race across Europe in pursuit of a killer.

Jotham Fletcher is in Rome to give a lecture about Simon Magus at the church where he fell to his death beside the Roman Forum. Magus was a cult leader mentioned in the Bible and his libertine sect disappeared by 400 AD.

But did it really die out?

A robed man is pushed from the bell tower of the church at midnight and Jotham becomes the prime suspect. His lover Antonella, an expert on ancient documents, has a shocking secret. Rumours fly about a papyrus scroll. A ruthless Catholic Brotherhood will stop at nothing in their hunt for a hidden sect. And a reclusive billionaire has the chance of a lifetime to get his revenge.

Jotham is kidnapped, tortured and on the run. He races from Italy to England to Sweden. But the body count continues to rise and so does the heat in this non-stop thriller that will leave you breathless.

FEATURING: a fast-paced and gripping plot, chase sequences, Italian police, mysterious historical events and an ending that you won’t see coming.

Don’t miss this action-packed thriller! Discover the secret that will change the world.

There are three other books in this series – enjoy Jotham Fletcher’s continuing story.

Book 2: THE ROCK OF MAGUS – Code Red in the Vatican
Book 3: THE MAGUS EPIPHANY – Ancient treasures and a new revelation
Book 4: HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS – The covenant will be fulfilled

One of the recent reviews for the book

I mention Dan Brown because I like his books. I only recently got on to Toni Pike. This is the first in the Jotham Fletcher series; I will read more. He is a rector in an Australian parish working on research into Simon Magus (could not help but recall the Silver Chalice–where Jack Palance portraying Magus, believes he can fly, saw it as a child). Like Brown’s Logdon, Pike’s Fletcher gets embroiled in controversial sectarian elements within the Catholic Church. Unlike Logdon, Fletcher faces much more serious danger personally. So, this story is really stronger in that respect.

Pike’s book follows the mystery/thriller precepts of plot/suspense progression well and builds to a climax with heightened tension and twists. If you like the genre, you will like this book–it’s well written.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Toni Pike

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Toni on: Goodreads

Connect to Toni via her website: Toni Pike

And the final author today is Harmony Kent with a recent review for her author guide Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer

About the book

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer is the perfect gift for the writer in your life.

Do you want to be an author? Are you struggling to find inspiration? Do you ever find it difficult to put words on the page? Or are you simply looking for novel ideas? If so, then this book is for you.

This little guide will help you unlock your story ideas and fire your imagination. The text covers things such as writing from various prompts, to using Chess, Tarot, and even nursing Triage (and much more) for developing your characters, story, and plot.

From the award-winning author of Polish Your Prose: Essential Self-Editing Tips for Authors—an excellent companion text—Creative Solutions focuses on the creative side of writing rather than the technical.

This book gives you the tools you need to make writing fun, as well as tips and techniques on creating characters and stories that will stay with you and your readers forever.

Crammed with easy-to understand examples, this guide is for writers of every genre—both fiction and non-fiction, literary, and commercial. But most of all, it’s about having fun and making friends with your muse.

One of the recent reviews

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable writing tool  Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2020

I read and enjoyed one of Harmony Kent’s fictional works and I was sufficiently impressed by her writing to pick up this non-fiction book about writing techniques and inspirational tools when it launched last year. I was not disappointed and learned a lot a developing good writing habits and ways of discovering inspiration for this book.

I have always edited as I write, this is largely due to the fact that I am a perfectionist and leaving something half done is difficult for me. This book encourages writers to not edit as they write but rather to ride the wave of your creativity and go back and edit later. I have tried this over the past week and have added double the words to my WIP. I didn’t not edit completely, but I did a lot less and felt I got a lot more words on paper this way. It is difficult to pick up on an incomplete idea so this advice makes perfect sense so that you get a piece of writing written down while it is fresh in your mind.

This books sets out lots of ideas for writing prompts which I find a great way of sharpening my writing skills. The author’s prompts have given me a lot of food for thought and I certainly won’t be running out of ideas in the foreseeable future. There are also great tips on using Tarot cards, horoscopes, chess boards and other items to generate ideas or to move your story along if you become bogged down or stale with your writing.

I thought this was a valuable writing tool and I will certainly be referring back to it going forward.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Harmony Kent.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Harmony: Goodreads

Connect to Harmony via her website: Harmony Kent

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to explore the books of these authors in more detail.. and perhaps add some books to your TBRs.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #HistoricalRomance Karen Demers Dowdall, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Design Valentina Cirasola, #Memoir J.E. Pinto


Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

If you enjoy historical romance then The Captain’s Witch by Karen Demers Dowdall could be the gift for you..

About The Captain’s Witch

Lost in the Annals of Time: A Story of Love and War

The Captain’s Witch is a hauntingly beautiful story of love that transcends time. Sara Windsor Knightly, born into a family with generations of witches inherits Windsor Manor, a colonial era manor built in 1680. She had no idea that the Manor is haunted by Jacobite ghosts, and a ghost named Christian Windsor.

He is a gentleman farmer who is also a Captain in the British Brigade in the year 1690 in Colonial Connecticut during King William’s war with the French and the Abenaki Indians. To complicate matters, the White Oak Tree on the property of Windsor Manor, is haunted by the ghost of Alice Windsor Hall. The White Oak Tree was once a sapling on the grave of Alice Windsor Hall, one of Sara’s distant relatives who was falsely accused of witchcraft in 1690. Alice has haunted the White Oak for more than 300 years and she has plans of her own that sets everything in motion. Alice spins a spell that sends Sara and Christian to the year 1690 to save her little girl, Clara, from the hands of Reverend Baron Warwick, a Puritan Zealot who has diabolical plans for the child. Alice promises to return Sara and Christian back home as soon as Clara is safe from harm.

Alice’s promise sends Christian back to war and certain death. A brokenhearted Sara is sent back to the present day to Windsor Manor. Sara is, quite by accident, sent once more back in time to revisit a very different Christian, who has no memory of Sara, putting her in great danger of being accused of witchcraft.

One of the recent reviews for the book on December 5th by Colleen M. Chesebro

“The Captain’s Witch” begins in the present, introducing us to Sara Windsor Knightly, an ancestral Wiccan who inherits the family manor. After she moves in, she discovers that Jacobite ghosts haunt the residence. One, in particular, the ghost of Captain Christian Windsor seems fated to connect with Sara.

On the property stands a towering White Oak tree, originally planted on the grave of Alice Windsor Hall, Sara’s distant relative. Alice, falsely accused of witchcraft, suffered a brutal death at the hands of Reverend Baron Warwick, a Puritan Zealot who has plans for Sara’s daughter, Clara.

Now, after 300 years, Alice’s spirit returns from the otherworld on a mission to rewrite history and save her daughter. She enlists the help of Sara and Christian who travel back and forth in time trying to correct the errors of the past.

Can Christian and Sara’s love survive through the ages, or will fate deal them a cruel hand?

For me, this book came across as more of a mystery than a romance. There is chemistry between the characters, but it was not overdone.

I enjoyed the witchy aspects of the novel, especially the history behind Alice Windsor Hall. I had to pay close attention to the time travel aspects to understand when the characters moved through different periods. Yet, this was a fun entertaining read.

Also by K.D Dowdall

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK:  Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Karen on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Karen Anna via her blogKaren Dowdall

If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers then Desolation Bluff by Toni Pike would be a great addition to your gift list… and today I am sharing my review for the book.

About the book

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Rachel to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.

A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

My review for Desolation Bluff – Four Stars – July 30th 2019

For a short novel Desolation Bluff is packed with suspense and action.

Life is challenging enough for those with a sight impairment, when trust of those around you is essential. Oliver Cameron feels blessed to have a highly successful writing career, loyal housekeeper, a wonderfully supportive wife and best friend and back from honeymoon, he couldn’t be happier.

As we become involved in the story, and are party to events that Oliver is not aware of, it is easy to become angry on his behalf as the depths of betrayal are exposed. How will he deal with the revelations that unfold? Seeking revenge requires careful planning but people will go to great lengths to protect their secrets. For some of those who are looking out for Oliver’s best interests, this can be dangerous. Especially when an unexpected ally turns up on the scene who might be less likely to be intimidated.

The characters are well drawn and the plot moves along at a good pace. It is easy to take sides as the story develops and the climax leaves you on the edge of your seat…. and Desolation Bluff.

Also by Toni Pike

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Toni on: Goodreads

Connect to Toni via her website: Toni Pike

Now time to bring some colour into your life courtesy of designer Valentina Cirasola and her book Red: A Voyage Into Colors. A book about colour and its influence on our lives in all aspects including spiritually.

About the book

From the dawn of time, every race and population have attributed various meanings and symbolism to colors. This book talks about colors, how humans can benefit from using them, how our health, spirit, and state of mind can improve by using all colors without distinction.

The book teaches how to create and mix colors as a study for people who have an interest in becoming artists and are just starting. Also, the book delves into understanding colors from a spiritual point of view and how to use them, in a technical way, for interiors, fashion, food, entertainment and much more. It is so important when mixing colors to look at nature as our best teacher, where all colors are mixed together and co-exist well without rules and prejudices. We can simply copy nature and feel perfect in our choice of colors.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Nov 16, 2019 James rated it Five stars on Goodreads

For the most part, I am a fiction reader. On occasion, I pick up a non-fiction book when the subject matter or theme is of interest. Red – A Voyage Into Colors by Valentina Cirasola was a book that crossed my path earlier this year when I stumbled upon the author’s design website and personal blog. Being a person who generally leans toward blacks, grays, and whites, I thought maybe I should learn a little more about the color wheel.

Although this book is entitled Red, it is not merely about this one color. The author shares the history and background of all the colors on the spectrum, teaching us the differences between hues and shades, tones and variations. The book is only ~125 page and contains dozens of photos of colors and their uses in various designs, homes, and picturesque settings. It’s easy to digest, well-written, and has an amazing personal touch. Valentina has quite a fun personality.

Some of the content I recall learning in school. Other I’ve picked up throughout my life. Seeing it all together again in one book is a comprehensive way to learn about our lives. For instance, I remembered why red was a warm color, and blue a cool one, but I didn’t know how it affected my life or made me feel. It was great to dive back into these ideas and facts, and seeing how these colors play in my life today was helpful. I actually (without knowing it) designed my living room to use all the appropriate matching color patterns and schemes. My bedroom might need some work though!

What a great way to make us ponder the things we often spend too little time thinking about… I pick clothes based on what fits. What if I went out in search specifically for clothes with color combinations that work for me? I plan to re-read this book again in small chunks. Too much at once can get lost because you want to process the advice and imagery. Next time I need to make a color decision, I’ll definitely come back to this one to focus on the important questions.

I recommend this one for every type of reader because it has a little bit of everything when it comes to choosing what makes us happy versus what might be the first thing we see in our closet or drawer, on the computer or phone screen, or on the rack of shelf at the store.

Also by Valentina Cirasola

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

You can read more reviews and follow Valentina on: Goodreads

Connect to Valentina via her website:www.Valentinadesigns.com

The next author with a recent review for a memoir sharing the adventures of parenting when you are a sight impaired mother…by J.E. Pinto…Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark.

 

About the book

“So Sarah?” the teacher asked, in a question I had rehearsed with her, “what’s it like to have a blind mom?”“Well,” my little girl said, in an unrehearsed answer, “it’s like a regular mom, except Daddy won’t let her drive his car.”With that nonchalant reply in front of her second grade class, Sarah summed up the way my blindness has fit into the fabric of our family. It isn’t a problem; it isn’t even a novelty; it’s just part of how we roll. My blindness has changed a few practical logistics. But in the end, kids are kids and moms are moms, and the dents and delights of parenthood are universal. As I told my daughter when she was very small, putting an only slightly different spin on the words my mom had said to me thirty years before, “The eyes in my face are broken, but the ones in the back of my head work just fine.”“Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark” is a book of short vignettes—most of them lighthearted, a few more serious—about my life as the blind mother of a sighted daughter. Welcome to my journey!

One of the recent reviews for the book

I read most of this book when I couldn’t sleep last night, And the rest of it with my morning cup of coffee. I love the way she mixes humor with compassion and gives us a glimpse into the world of blind parenthood. Although this is a central theme in the book, there is so much more to it. One can learn lessons of empathy, living each moment to the fullest, solving problems creatively, looking beyond the surface, and The beauty of looking at the world through a child’s imagination. The love between daughter and mom shines through so brightly in this book. Makes me want to meet them!

And also by J.E. Pinto

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow J.E. Pinto on : Goodreads

Connect with J. E. Pinto via her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjepinto/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with a book or two under your arm..thanks Sally.