Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews -#Paranormal Mae Clair, #YA Darlene Foster, #Supernatural Don Massenzio


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

The first author is Mae Clair with a recent review for Cusp of Night: Hode’s Hill Series

About the book

The truth hides in dark places . . .

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . .

One of the recent reviews for the book

After surviving a car accident that nearly killed her, Maya Sinclair moves to Hodes Hill, Pennsylvania. She decides to rent an old brownstone close to where Charlotte Hode was murdered over a century ago.

Maya is still haunted by the time she spent in the Aether, hovering between life and death in a reality where souls with unfinished business lingered. Now, she finds her perceptions altered, opening the doors to her own clairvoyance.

It doesn’t take long for the house to connect with its new occupant. When the clock reaches, 2:22 am known as the cusp of night, terrifying noises explode from the walls of the house. Eventually, Maya recognizes a figure from the Aether… what could it mean?

In a city where the people refuse to let go of the past, the night of the annually celebrated Fiend Festival finally arrives. The townsfolk dress up in costumes to resemble the terrifying creature that murdered Charlotte Hode all those years before. However, this year is different. Something is out there, and it‘s killed again!

It turns out that Hode’s Hill sponsored the spiritualist movement of the Nineteenth century in the form of the Blue Lady, a blue-skinned spiritualist who perpetrated a scam against unsuspecting townsfolk. Now, she uses Maya’s sensitivity to the Aether to carry out her task.

Clair skillfully incorporates the tragic story of Lucy Strick, the Blue Lady, with that of Maya Sinclair bringing the past into the future in a story that was so riveting I couldn’t it put this book down.

The author also displays a rare command over language that’s unique. Her vivid descriptions and settings put me in the story, as if I’d experienced the events myself. I’ll never look at my watch at 2:22 am again!

Maya Sinclair is the type of heroine I like the most. She’s flawed, but in a way that makes her seem multidimensional and very human. This town is full of characters, which makes the story even more realistic. The Hode family contains some despicable figures, but Collin Hode teams up with Maya to help solve the mystery of the blue lady.

If I could give this book a rating over five stars, I would. I rarely say that, but this series is exceptional. I’m already reading the second book (End of Day) in the series and have purchased the third book, (Eventide) as well.

If you love mystery and suspense with a healthy helping of the paranormal, you won’t want to miss this series.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Mae Clair

mae clair 2020

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Mae: Goodreads

Connect to Mae via her Blog/Website: Mae Clair

The next author is Darlene Foster with a review for Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars Action packed and filled with interesting titbits of information  Reviewed in the United States on February 6, 2020

Amanda in Holland is the latest addition to the exciting Amanda series of books written by Canadian author, Darlene Foster. Each book in the Amanda series is set in a different country and details some of the amazing cultural and historical sites as well as dishes, drinks and clothes that are specific to that country. This aspect of the series makes it unusual and appealing to young and older readers.

Amanda, who lives in Canada, travels to Holland to meet up with her best friend, Leah Anderson and her father, who live in England. Mr Anderson is in Holland for business purposes and the two teenage girls are free to enjoy themselves seeing all the wonderful historical and cultural sites Holland has to offer. The story starts with a bang when Amanda is nearly ridden over by a woman on a bicycle on her first morning in Amsterdam. The woman’s behaviour is a bit odd and this event is followed by Amanda and Leah discovering a young puppy which has been abandoned in a box next to a rubbish bin around the corner from a cheese shop they are visiting.

Mr Anderson agrees for the girls to keep the dog until it can be taken to an animal shelter and this decision sets in motion a series of occurrences that draw Amanda and Leah into an exciting adventure involving selling animals from puppy farms and stealing rare tulip bulbs. While the two girls investigate the mysterious circumstances of the abandonment of the puppy and the strange behaviour of various individuals who keep turning up, like the woman who nearly ran Amanda over, they also visit a number of interesting places such as the hide out of Anne Frank of The Diary of Anne Frank fame, the Keukenhof Botanical Gardens and a Canadian war-memorial cemetery. Amanda has the picture of her great uncle Harold who disappeared in Holland during the war and whose grave she is hoping she might find. The two girls meet a number of interesting people and get to spend time with a number of Dutch people who introduce them to some delicious Dutch treats.

The book is action packed and filled with interesting titbits of information about life in Holland, WWII and perseverance and determination in unraveling a mystery.

Amanda is a clever and kind girl who will appeal to middle school and young teenagers who will admire her pluck

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other  books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Darlene: Goodreads

Connect to Darlene via her blog: Darlene Foster WordPress

And the final author today is Don Massenzio with a review for the supernatural Extra Innings: Can you go home again?

About the book

Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team. Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past. That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life? Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about old adage, you can never go home again? Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2020

Extra Innings by Don Massenzio is one man’s search to find more meaning in his simple life. The Langerton Chiefs, a AAA baseball team for the New York Yankees, have always been a significant part of Joe McLean’s life. He and his brother Mike have been lifelong fans. When the city council decides to tear down Maxwell Stadium to build a more modern facility, Joe decides that he wants a piece of the old stadium as a means of remembering his beloved Chiefs.

This meat of this story is not about baseball, however. When McLean purchases an old wooden stadium seat, he finds that he can travel in time when he goes to sleep in it. He understands that he is moving in time and recognizes the critical people in his life from days gone by, but each time Joe ends in a new period, he discovers positives and negatives. The problem is that no timeline seems to be perfect and continually finds things that are imperfect about his life that he goes about trying to fix before moving to another timeline.

It was a bit tedious trying to keep track of all of the timelines, but I found this to be an enjoyable read overall.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Don Massenzio

41qgh5odr0l-_uy250_51t21unx3l-_uy250_ 41hilakdiml-_uy250_ 51kbukrunjl-_uy250_

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and buy follow Don on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Don via his blog: Don Massenzio WordPress

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #ParanormalYA Roberta Eaton Cheadle, #Thriller Lucinda E. Clarke, #History Jack Eason, #YA Darlene Foster


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.

To begin today a wonderful selection of books for children, young adults and those who are young at heart… The featured book is the YA recent release Through the Nethergate…..Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

About the book

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise. With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Margaret moves in with her grandfather after the tragic deaths of her parents. Her new home is a centuries-old English inn, and shortly after her arrival, ghosts from the near and far past begin appearing—some dark and evil, others light yet stuck between worlds. Things start going a little mad when Margaret’s presence causes the ghosts to incarnate, able to act on the modern world. In short order, Lucifer takes notice.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the macabre history of real-life maniacal murderers, primarily those who killed when there were no laws protecting peasants from the powerful. Though the author qualifies her tale as fiction, she points out that many of her characters are based on true people, and her research shines. These are some twisted people. The cast of evil-doers isn’t limited to medieval England but goes back to Nero and Caligula as well as forward through the Nazi regime of WWII.

Another interesting aspect of the book is the way technology is identified as a vehicle for evil. Hell looks like an office building full of cubicles. Cheadle ties in current events including the war in Syria, mass shootings, xenophobia, economic disenfranchisement, and “fake news” – all the work of the devil. Grounded in the old testament, faith has a hand in the story too.

I enjoyed the story though the plot got a little wild with lots of characters and simultaneous action. Margaret ends up sharing the lead in the story with several other POV characters including the incarnates. Her character is the most 3-dimensional though I was intrigued by several secondary characters. I’d recommend this book to YA readers who enjoy horror and a quick pace.

A selection of other Sir Chocolate stories co-written with Michael Cheadle and other books by Robbie Cheadle

Read all the reviews and buy the books :Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Robbie : Goodreads

Connect to Robbie via her blog: Robbie’s Inspiration

Now for a psychological thriller from Lucinda E.Clarke her latest release A Year in the Life of Leah Brand: A Psychological Thriller – Lucinda writes for all ages and has a wonderful selection of books that would make great gifts.

About the book

Leah’s nightmare began the day the dog died.

A few years earlier a fatal car crash took the lives of Leah’s beloved husband and their two babies, leaving her disabled. Life looked bleak. She was approaching forty, unemployed, broke and desperate.

Then she met Mason. He was charming, charismatic, persuasive, and a successful businessman, well respected in the community. His teenage daughter did nothing to welcome Leah into the family, but life is never perfect.

Then, two years into her second marriage, Leah Brand’s world is turned upside down; inanimate objects in the house move, her clothes are left out for the rubbish collection, pieces of furniture change places, there are unexplained noises and hauntings.

As the disturbances increase, everyone accuses Leah of losing her mind. Soon she begins to doubt herself and she starts to spiral down into a world of insanity. Is she going mad, or is someone out to destroy her? And if so, why?

A gripping, psychological thriller for fans of Mary Higgins Clarke and Louise Jensen.

An extract from one of the recent reviews for A Year in the Life of Leah Brand

Nov 19, 2019 Grant Leishman rated it Five Stars

A Year in the Life of Leah Brand is a tightly written and tense psychological thriller that draws the reader in from the very first chapter and carries you along, at breakneck speed to the unexpected and surprising conclusion. I’ve read a few of Lucinda E. Clarke’s books and one thing I’ve marveled at is her ability to chop and change genres at will – the sign of an excellent author and Clarke definitely is that. I have little doubt that the beautifully drawn and slightly neurotic character of Leah will resonate with many readers. I found myself continually second-guessing the author’s directions with the story and that is always the sign of a superb author, one who can drag the reader into “red-herring” situations and then throw them off balance with a subtle change in tack. The writing is no-nonsense and to the point, from the perspective of the main character. As a reader we are able to understand, empathise, and ride along with Leah’s swirling emotions as she is totally sure she is not crazy – but what other explanation could there be for all the weird goings-on? I liked the fact that Clarke left the door marginally ajar for a possible sequel to the tale. There is another whole path she could take this story down, if she so desired and I for one, totally hope she does. An exciting, gripping psychological thriller that twists and turns and keeps you riveted to the story, I can highly recommend this read.

A selection of other books by Lucinda E.Clarke

Read the reviews and buy the booksAmazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Lucinda: Goodreads

Connect to Lucinda via her blog: WordPress Lucinda E. Clarke

Now something for history buffs.. a novella that engages us in one of the most important battles of British history – Autumn 1066: The End of Anglo-Saxon Dominance by Jack Eason.

About the book

Down the centuries the British Isles has always been seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon occupation, ending on the 14th of October, 1066. In Autumn 1066, author Jack Eason gives a great sense of ‘place’, of detail. The reader is right ‘there’ in that poignant year, marching, shivering with September cold (as ‘…no warming fires were allowed lest ‘enemy spies would soon spot their approach.’) From the very first few lines, Eason, practising his unique drycraft, begins to weave his particular brand of magic on his reader.

Eason glamour’s with well-crafted dialogue, drawing his reader into the time and into the action. To accomplish this, the author proffers a gentle blend of informative nomenclature coupled with familiar speech, to ease the reader into his story without distancing with words too unfamiliar, which is a criticism frequently made of Bernard Cornwell’s epics. I long to read more Martin Bradley

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jack Eason has woven a short but compelling tale around the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings, the end of the Saxon times in England. It’s a story of ordinary folk, as well as the rulers of the land, and how the decisions they made shaped the times. Full of well-researched detail, the vivid picture he paints puts you in the centre of the action. Recommended reading for anyone interested in the events of 1066

A small selection of other books by Jack Eason

Discover all of Jack Eason’s books and read the reviews: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Follow Jack and read other reviews: Goodreads

Connect to Jack via his website: Have We Had Help

And another author with a wonderful selection of books which would make great gifts for young adults and also for children who are learning Spanish. Featured today is the latest in the travel novels by Darlene Foster – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars A tour of Holland  September 25, 2019

This book was quite a bit of fun. Foster combines a middle-grade fiction plot with a colorful tour of Holland, including its famous sites, snippets of history, and its wonderful flowers and food. I had the great fortune of visiting my grandparents in Holland when I was Amanda’s age, and her experiences in the book mirror my memories in great detail. It was a blast to traipse along beside Amanda and enjoy the country once again.

The main plot focuses on the recovery of a lost puppy, but secondary plots weave through the story, and all come together nicely at the end. There’s a bit of mystery and some danger to keep the tension up. There are also some very moving scenes when Amanda visits Anne Frank’s home and a war memorial dedicated to the Canadians who helped liberate Holland during WWII. A lovely book for young readers and absolutely perfect for readers who plan to travel the world.

A selection of other  books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Darlene: Goodreads

Connect to Darlene via her blog: Darlene Foster WordPress