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.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #NewRelease Allan Hudson – #Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Thriller Lucinda E. Clarke, #YA Angie Dokos, #Westernhorror Jessica Bakkers


Welcome to the new look Author Updates where I share new releases and recent reviews for authors on the shelves. If you are a new author and would like to be included in the cafe please check out the links in this post: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore FREE author promotion.

The first author today is Allan Hudson who has a new release set between 1911 and 1920 The Alexanders Vol 1

About the book

In the turbulent waters off Saltcoats, Scotland, Danny Alexander dies in a boating accident. He leaves behind a wife, seven children and no hope. Dominic is the middle child. With a broken heart, his mother is forced to leave him with his bachelor uncle, Duff. None of them are happy with the decision.Eleven-year-old Dominic Alexander must earn his keep. There are no free rides. Yet despite the difficulties, he finds his place in the structured world of his uncle and overcomes his loneliness.Fortune and misfortune follow the young man until adversity forces him to make a decision that will affect the rest of his life. Is emigrating to Canada the answer?

Buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Allan Hudson

One of the reviews for Shattered Figurine on Goodreads

Jan 20, 2020 Jane Sturgeon rated it Five Stars it was amazing

A surprising and gripping detective story…

The storyline is unusual and a difficult one to tackle. Allan Hudson does this with skill and I was gripped from the first page. Jo Naylor and her supporting characters are engaging and I cared about them from the outset. The plot twists are also unexpected.

This is a different kind of detective story and the pace is tight with beautifully descriptive writing that carries you right into each scene.

I eagerly await the next book in this series and am going on to read other works by Allan Hudson, as he is a talented discovery.

Allan Hudson buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Allan: Goodreads – Website: South Branch Scribbler – Twitter: @hudson_allan

The first review today is for C.S Boyack and Serang a coming of age adventure.

About Serang

Monastic life is all about duty, service, and harmony. For Serang, a young girl abandoned at the temple by her mother after the death of her father, that life becomes all she knows. The monks give her purpose, and become her new family.

When political upheaval brings chaos throughout the land, Serang again loses everything and everyone she loves. Alone, she struggles to survive. She convinces a wandering monk to take her under his wing and complete her training. Thus begin her adventures through strange lands and her trials to become a confident, capable, independent adult.

This is a coming of age story set in fantasy world. It’s filled with monsters and martial arts, difficulties and dangers. The serious situations preclude the story from the levity of it’s predecessor, Voyage of the Lanternfish, but it provides a compelling look at the origin of one of the saga’s most fascinating characters.

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Origin story and companion book.  Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2020

This is my first read from Boyack that wasn’t a madcap paranormal adventure and I enjoyed the seriousness of this story. It’s described as an origin story about Serang who has a role in the Lanternfish books (which I haven’t read yet). I think that description is exactly right.

The story begins when Serang is 6 years old and progresses through her teens. As a child, she’s abandoned at a temple by her mother. The monastery becomes her home, its residents her family, until the Emperor has the monks killed. On the run, Serang finds a new master who continues her training as the two of them travel across the harsh land.

The characters are wonderfully 3-dimensional and I enjoyed the way their relationship developed. The worldbuilding is exquisite. After I finished reading, I learned that the tale is a fantasy, and I laughed because I had assumed that the setting was a real place.

The plot consists of the journey as well as Serang’s training and mastery. As an origin story there’s no giant climatic conclusion, but there is a satisfying ending to the intriguing tale. The pace is steady overall with moments of exciting action. I recommend this book as a companion read to the Lanternfish books, which I’ll be reading soon.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK

A small selection of other books by C.S. Boyack including new release H.M.S Lanternfish

C. S. Boyack, Buy: Amazon US – and :Amazon UK – Follow Craig: Goodreads – blog:Cold Hand BoyackTwitter@Virgilante

The next book with a recent review is A Year in the Life of Andrea Coe: A Psychological Thriller (In the life of …. Book 2) by Lucinda E. Clarke.

About the book

Andrea was Leah’s best friend. A strange attraction between a wild, confident, fun-loving, widow and a quiet, insecure housewife.

But Leah’s gentle and loving nature hide the depths of an underlying iron-hard mental strength. After surviving her vicious husband’s terrifying games and the mental asylum he committed her to, Leah’s only desire now is for a life of peace with her new partner, and her best friend, Andrea. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out. With her husband now on the run from a mob hitman, and his family each hiding their own secrets, they are prepared to go to any lengths to finish what they started three years ago. Will they succeed this time?

Leah knew the only person she could rely on was Andrea.

This is book two in the series and answers all the questions raised in Book 1: A Year In The Life of Leah Brand.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Lindylou 5.0 out of 5 stars Friend or Foe  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 August 2020

Wow what a sequel to ‘A Year in the Life of Leah Brand’. Leah’s best friend Andrea tells her story This sequel pertains to what happened after Leah had moved from London and started a new life in Weston with a new man in her life and Belinda her stepdaughter.

Out of the blue Leah’s best friend Andrea turns up and their friendship is renewed. The story is written in monthly episodes in the view point of the main characters taking on lots of twists and turns adding to the suspense of the story. I could not wait to see what the following month would bring and could not put it down.

When Leah’s criminal ex-husband Mason suddenly gets in touch the plot takes on a new twist. This sees the Leah and Andrea and the belligerent teenage Belinda traveling to Australia. What does he want and is Andrea the friend she makes out to be.

This is written with the Lucinda’s usual high standard, and is another edge of the seat thriller.

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

A selection of books by Lucinda E. Clarke

Lucinda E. Clarke, Buy Amazon US –  And : Amazon UK – Blog:WordPress Lucinda E. Clarke — Follow Lucinda:GoodreadsTwitter: @LucindaEClarke

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

Angie Dokos, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Angie : Goodreads –  website: Angie Dokos WordPress –  Twitter: @AngieDokos

And the final author today with a recent review is  Jessica Bakkers for her debut novel Guns of Perdition – The Armageddon Showdown Book 1

About the book

IT TAKES GRACE TO HUNT WHEN IT’S DARKSOME

Jessie expects he’ll be forever cleaning up after the cowpokes of the Bad Hoss Saloon. That’s until the day a drifter strides through the doors, and blows away a blood-sucking demon, along with Jessie’s belief in an everyday world. Jessie is captivated by the enigmatic Grace, with her pearl-handled revolvers, and wolf companion. He throws in his normal life and follows her across the Wild West, as she hunts down and slays the evil creatures that roam the frontier.

Along the way, they seek the aid of a Native American warrior, cross paths with a Cajun Queen, and encounter a small-town tycoon with a deadly hunger for gold. Animosity and distrust plague Grace and Jessie, and their strange group of allies, but they must put their differences behind them if they’re to have any hope of finding and defeating the frontier’s true evil, the Darksome Gunman.

The Armageddon Showdown is a dark-fantasy, weird western series of epic proportions, focusing on the age-old battle between good and evil, though in the Wild West, it’s not always clear just who is good and who is evil.

Join Grace Dyer and her band of miscreants as they battle demons and demi-gods, in the frontier’s deadliest conflict…the Armageddon Showdown.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2020

This book was my first “Weird Western,” but it probably won’t be my last. I agree with several other reviewers, right down to the gruesome and totally unanticipated shock at the end of the story. It’s been a long time since a book packed a surprise that hit me like this one did, and it might not be not for the faint of heart. But if you love a good, scary, well-told tale, and can take a large dollop of horror along the way, you should give it a try. I found the underlying theme, which is uncovered bit by bit, gives the whole thing an additional, and very interesting, twist. And when I’m braced for more shenanigans of the macabre kind, I’ll be reading the 2nd book, too.

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

Connect to Jessica: Author pages: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – WebsiteJessicaBakkers.com – FacebookThe Written Word – Twitter@JessicaBakkers

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to take away with you..it would be great if you could share.. thanks Sally.