Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews #YAFantasy M.J. Mallon, #Mystery James J. Cudney, #Poetry Joyce Murphy #Childrens Bette A. Stevens


Welcome to the first of the updates for the week, with recent reviews for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author is Marjorie Mallon with The Curse of Time : Book One – Bloodstone a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Apr 10, 2020 Darlene Foster rated it Four Stars

For someone who doesn’t usually read fantasy, this YA novel caught my interest. The teenage characters in the book are very real with typical issues such as lack of confidence, jealousy, confusion, parental disagreements, and volatile friendships. Amelina comes from a dysfunctional family with a paranormal twist. If she can figure out the curse, perhaps her family could be happy once more. In her quest, she meets a self-harming girl locked in a mirror, a heartthrob boy with a mean side, a cottage full of amazing crystals and an old woman with sage advice.

I like that the story is based on a real clock, the Corpus Chronophage clock, in Cambridge, England. (Chronophage means time-eater). There is some time travel in the story, which I love. There’s a lot happening in this very descriptive book and not everything is explained. But that is because it is the first book in a series. I look forward to reading more about Amelina and her quirky friends.

Read the reviews and buy the book:Amazon US

And:Amazon UK

Also by M. J. Mallon

Read the other reviews and buy the book:Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Follow M.J. Mallon on: Goodreads

Connect to Marjorie Mallon via her website: M.J. Mallon

The next author with a recent review is James J. Cudney for his latest release Frozen Stiff Drink: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 6)

About the Book

A winter blizzard barrels toward Wharton County with a vengeance. Madam Zenya predicted the raging storm would change the course of Kellan’s life, but the famed seer never could’ve prepared him for all the collateral damage. Nana D disappears after visiting a patient at Willow Trees, leaving behind a trail of confusion. When the patient turns up dead and a second body is discovered beneath the snowbanks, Kellan must face his worst fears. What tragedy has befallen his beloved grandmother?

Kellan’s brother Hampton learns essential life lessons the hard way after his father-in-law accuses him of embezzlement. While trying to prove his innocence, Hampton digs himself a deeper hole that might lead to prison. Sheriff Montague wants to save him, but she receives the shock of her life as the past hurtles forward and complicates her future.

Between locating Nana D and solving the scandalous murder of another prominent Braxton citizen, Kellan and April’s worlds explode with more turmoil than they can handle. Too bad neither one of them knows what to do about the psychic’s latest premonition. The suspicious deaths happening around town aren’t ending anytime soon.

One of the recent reviews for the book

L. Higgins 5.0 out of 5 stars  Perfect Title  Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2020

Both clues and motives for murder abound in Frozen Stiff Drink, the latest addition to James J. Cudney’s Braxton Campus Mystery Series. With each book, I think the plot threads can’t get more tangled than in the previous books, but they do! With a cast of characters that will intrigue you, draw you in, and evoke strong reactions, this cozy mystery will provide you with all the distraction you need during this time of shelter in place.

Kellan has a history of finding dead bodies since he returned to Wharton County; but his girlfriend, Sheriff April Montague, has finally begun to accept that he doesn’t go looking for trouble. With the series’ usual large number of characters, this book holds a challenge when trying to sort through the many relationships, but the author helps out with a list of characters including their connections to other characters.

I enjoyed Frozen Stiff Drink all the way to the conclusion where my jaw dropped as the many plot threads were resolved, and several new issues dramatically appeared beckoning me into delightful anticipation of the next installment in the series.

Read the reviews and buy the book:Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

Connect to James via his blog: This is my Truth Now

Now Joyce Murphy with a review for her debut poetry collection Inner Rumblings: Poems to Give My Inner Self a Voice, the Self I Call Joycie Reilly

About the collection

Inner Rumblings is a collection of poems about life, about courage, and about emotion. Whether you are looking for the courage to keep going when your heart is breaking, the inspiration to follow your dreams or a feeling of ‘someone else has been here too,’ these poems offer an open invitation to share joys, struggles, loves and pain with you.

The poems are expressed through Joycie Reilly, the name the author gives to her inner self – the self that speaks honestly about her battles with social anxiety and self-approval – the self that is searching for acceptance in a cold and turbulent world.

But despite her struggles, Joycie Reilly continues her journey through life, experiencing feelings of great happiness and great pain along the way. And her hope for you the reader is this, that in knowing her journey, you may better come to understand your own.

The book is divided into 10 lifecycles – each lifecycle presenting a separate set of poems relevant to the age and circumstances of the author. The lifecycles span over a 30 year period beginning with Early Teens and ending with Coming Home.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly relative  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 March 2020

I don’t usually buy poetry books online but I liked the description of this book, I was not disappointed. The poems are incredibly moving and I found it interesting to see the style and voice of the poems evolve over time. There are little story lines before each segment/lifecycle explaining the motivation behind each set of poems and how they relate to the author’s life.

I would recommend this book to a variety of ages and personalities as there is a segment/lifestyle in it for everyone. I think young adults would also find this book very relatable and helpful with dealing with issues of social anxiety and mental health. Being a romantic at heart these poems spoke to me. I also related to the rawness of the poems in the section My Mother Myself which were about grief and loss. But if you take the book as a whole, I think my favourite is ‘The Phoenix’ which appears at the beginning and end of the book, a poem which promises that no matter in our lives we can pick ourselves up and fly free.

Read the reviews and follow Joyce: Amazon UK

And:Amazon US

Read reviews and follow Joyce: Goodreads

Connect to Joyce via her blog: Joycie Reilly Poetry

Bette A. Stevens has her children’s book Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale on offer April 21st – April 24th  at 99c/99p as it is Earth Day on April 22nd and as the Monarch butterfly is an endangered species it is an opportunity to draw attention to its plight.

About  Amazing Matilda

(Ages 4-11 + grownups love it too) Friendship, patience and persistence are among the lessons learned in this gem of a tale featuring an amazing monarch butterfly.

This award-winning picture book adventure follows the monarch butterfly’s life cycle as Matilda embarks on a quest to make her dream of flying come true. Matilda emerges from her egg on a milkweed leaf—she stretches and yawns and knows she wants to fly. Sparrow tells her to follow her dreams. Toad and Rabbit laugh at a creature without wings who wants to fly. You’ll be as amazed as Toad and Rabbit are as you follow Matilda from egg to imago. Science, art and wise lessons for children—all wrapped up in a tale the kids will want to read/hear again and again!

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jan 19, 2020 Patricia Furstenberg rated it Five Stars

“Amazing Matilda” is one of those special, unforgettable books that are a captivating story AND a wonderful message blend into an attractive format.

Through Matilda’s adventures, children will absorb a valuable lesson: that patience and self-belief are important in achieving one’s dreams and that if you wish for something and try hard enough, you will succeed.

“Amazing Matilda” is an enchanting book that belongs on any child’s bookshelf.
An enchanting book that belongs on any child’s bookshelf.

Read the reviews and buy the book April 21st- 24th at 99c: Amazon US

And at 99p: Amazon UK

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Bette: Goodreads

Connect to Bette A. Stevens via her blog:  4 Writers and Readers

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books to add to your reading list.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Actionthriller Yigal Zur, #Children’s Barbara Ann Mojica, #YAFantasy M. J. Mallon, #CrimeThriller Paulette Mahurin


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.

The first featured book today is an action thriller that I have read and reviewed recently is Passport to Death – Dotan Naor thriller series by Yigal Zur

About the Dotan Naor thriller series

DOTAN NAOR is an ex-Mossad agent, bounced out of the agency not just for a fatal miscalculation in Palestinian Jenin but for his inability to live within the bureaucracy and submit to authority. Dotan is now a private detective who uses his immense skills of persuasion and violence to rescue Israelis who are in peril throughout the world. Through his extensive travels in Asia, Dotan has developed a love for Eastern philosophy and lifestyle; his enhanced spiritual existence also happens to be good for business as many Israelis run off to exotic Asian locales to let off steam after their mandatory and often dangerous military service.

About Passport to Death

Dotan Naor, an Israeli private investigator, ousted from Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—goes to Thailand to find Sigal Bardon, a beautiful young girl from a wealthy Israeli family. Sigal has disappeared in Bangkok—completely. Dotan has connections in Thailand and he’s familiar with Bangkok’s dark side—the narrow alleys with bars and hookers, trenches of stagnant water, hotel rooms with illicit activity. This is where he intends to start his search. But when the passport of the missing Israeli girl ends up in his hands during his first taxi ride in the city, he’s suspicious that someone is playing him. But who? And why?

As Dotan searches for Sigal, police corruption blocks his every path. Every lead he pursues draws him closer and closer to a black hole in his “own” past—one intertwined with his pursuit of Sigal—one that leads him to Reuven—and the haunting failure that led to the dismissal of both of them from Shin Bet. The wound between Dotan and Reuven is raw and deep, but Dotan realizes it must be healed in order to save Sigal.

A recent review for Passport to Death

Al Johnson 5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Read December 5, 2019

First, I must provide three disclosures before reviewing the book.

One, I have lived off and on in Bangkok (The location where Passport to Death takes place) and Thailand for many years as an advisor to various Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams, network analysis groups, etc to include the Royal Thai Police.

Two, I normally don’t read fiction books, unless there is a very compelling reason to, and additionally I have never reviewed them (except if you count Bill O’Reilly’s Killing the Rising Sun, which should count as a “Historical Fiction” Novel).

Three, I was asked to read the novel by the author in a message, as he received my name and contact information from a mutual acquaintance.

Having said that, I have no hesitation in recommending this book for those that enjoy a good international detective novel, or those that want to “read between the lines” to get a peek inside the world of the underbelly of Bangkok’s narcotic cartels.

First, I have to commend Mr. Zur for presenting his story with a very engaging cadence and pallet. From the opening chapter I was interested in the main character, and easily able to visualize the canvas that Yigal was painting on each page. Gradually he layered in additional textures, so that both the people and places began to become “real”. His gradual reveal of background stories mixed the fiction with real world events and archetypes kept me turning each page in order to see what would be revealed next.

The life experience of the author comes through in that, unlike so many other fictional novels, this one remains grounded within realism and true to character interactions. Many readers outside of Bangkok and Southeast Asia will be surprised by his descriptions of the “Backpacker Mule” culture that has arisen there, and destroyed so many lives in the river of Narcotics trade, but Yigal Zur has been able to do so in a way that gradually lets the reader in so they can absorb the start reality.

The book in English is a translation from the Hebrew original, however, it does not suffer as have other translated books. Unless I read the inner material carefully and noted it was a translation, I would never have guessed it wasn’t written in native English. The translation work by Sara Kitai are to be commended!

After having been introduced to the Dotan Naor series with this book, I will be purchasing the Death In Shangri La, also written by Yigal Zur. It is obvious he is able to infuse an engaging fictional character set amongst realistic scenarios and locations, and I look forward to his next work.

Also in English by Yigal Zur

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Yigal on : Goodreads

Connect to Yigal via Facebook: Yigal Zur Author

Now for something for the younger members of the family to introduce them to American history with the latest addition to the Little Miss History series by Barbara Ann Mojica. – Little Miss HISTORY Travels to Hyde Park, Home of FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: Presidential Library & Museum 

About the book

Little Miss HISTORY loves to educate children by engaging with interesting and overlooked historical facts. Interest and insight into historical places or persons are maintained by this engaging character and her fun facts, of each book. Illustrations of Little Miss HISTORY are upbeat and lighthearted.

Little Miss History Travels to Hyde Park Home of FDR walks the reader through FDR’s private life within the confines of his home. As Little Miss HISTORY takes us through each room of this home, we become increasingly aware of FDR’s accomplishments and struggles.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Oct 05, 2019 Diane Robinson rated it Five Stars and it was amazing

The Little Miss History series is incredible! The author’s newest release, Little Miss History goes to Hyde Park, home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, is another spectacular learning book in this series; this book takes the reader on a tour of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house and his personal and political life. This series is always interesting, has vivid illustrations, and is written in a way that children, and adults, will love. Kudos to Barbara Ann Mojica!

A selection of other books in the series

Discover all the books, read the reviews and buy: Amazon US

And on : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Barbara Ann on : Goodreads

Connect to Barbara Ann via her blog: BAM Author

The next author is Marjorie Mallon with The Curse of Time : Book One – Bloodstone a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Her house is haunted by a girl who lives in the mirror, her dad returned from a strange disappearance oddly aged, and inanimate objects can talk to her and control her. Her cat is capable of disappearing, a talent shared by her dark, handsome, and creepy crush, Ryder. Her family is cursed. Amelina is not a happy teenager.

Each chapter is a puzzle piece that leads the reader deeper into Amelina’s experience. The first third of the book is primarily exposition – filling the reader in through dreams, memories, visions, and the mutterings of the girl in the mirror. The odd things that happen to Amelina reminded me of the adventures of Alice in Wonderland, the connection and significance of each puzzle piece not yet clear. The line from the book, “Nothing is crazy. Everything is possible” sums it up.

For a while, the story shift and focuses on Amelina and Ryder, a budding romance riddled with teenage angst and hinting at a darker side to the handsome teen. It’s not until near the end of the book that Amelina’s goal —to rid her family of its curse— takes over, accompanied by the means to accomplish her wish.

I liked the character of Amelina and was sympathetic to her plight. She’s stuck in that teenage place of caring for one’s parents while also thinking they’re annoying. The use of crystals was intriguing and included the real-life power and wisdom that crystals are thought to possess. The read is full of teenage-life details, and I recommend it for YA readers. 

Read the other reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Follow M.J. Mallon on: Goodreads

Connect to Marjorie Mallon via her website: M.J. Mallon

And for those of you who enjoy a good crime thriller here is Paulette Mahurin with Irma’s Endgame

As with all Paulette’s books, profits from will go to rescue dogs from kill shelters.

About Irma’s Endgame.

When newspaper headlines screamed in large bold print that one of the world’s leading heart-transplant surgeons, Peter Dayton, was arrested for the death of one of his transplant patients, shock waves were felt around the world. Particularly impacted was an attorney, Irma Mullins, who found it inconceivable that the man she once loved could have committed the heinous act for which he had been arrested. Determined to find out what happened, she embarks on a course of action to uncover the truth. But when all paths lead to one dead-end after another, and Dayton continues to maintain his innocence, she detours.

Through desperation, frustration, fear, and determination she grasps at thin threads for anything that might uncover facts to help exonerate Dayton. What she ultimately discovers is both shocking and unbelievable. Written by the award-winning, international best-selling author, Paulette Mahurin, Irma’s Endgame is a story of friendship and loyalty, of betrayal and revenge, of mystery and discovery, of enmity and love. It is a narrative that shakes the very core of the scientific ground we all walk on and proves that what we think is real is not always solid terrain. This is a novel that will be remembered long after the last page is finished.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I enjoyed the complexity of the characters in this work. They feel like real people, dealing with real problems. Which is a difficult feat to pull off for any author, dealing with stark realism. The story of a doctor accused of manslaughter is intriguing in and of itself but giving the lawyer a personal investment in him is the essence of drama and kept me turning the pages. An excellent work.

Also by Paulette Mahurin

Read all the reviews and BUY the booksAmazon US

And : Amazon UK

Profits from Paulette’s books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Read more reviews and follow Paulette on : Goodreads

 
Connect to Paulette via her blog: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on WordPress
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm…thanks Sally.