Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Family #Travel #Writing by M.J. Mallon


I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author and poet M.J. Mallon (Marjorie) shares her thoughts on the prompt and how her father’s work abroad and visits to spend time with him in exotic locations and his stories ignited her own passion for writing.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Family #Travel #Writing by M.J. Mallon

Thank you so much to Sally for inviting me to share my thoughts on I wish I knew then what I know now!

In many ways, I led an unusual life as a teenager. My father was often away for long stretches of time working abroad. He tried to work in the UK but was stifled working in a dreary accountant’s office. My mother elected to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland with my brother and I, so that we would have a good education without any interruptions. My parents didn’t want to send us to boarding school, like a lot of their contemporaries at the time.

We’d regularly go to visit my dad in exotic locations such as The Caribbean British Virgin Isles, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, much to the envy of my contemporaries at school. Here are some photos of Dad in Malaysia where he met my Mum, and in Papua New Guinea, Senegal and in the Middle East.

Each time I saw my dad after his spells away he seemed different in some way… grew a beard, developed a fatter belly, or the like. To this day, I admire him enormously for his love of travel, his spirit of adventure and his desire to live amongst different cultures.

In fact, one of the favourite stories he told me was of his time living in the Malaysian jungle with the dajak tribe!

Here is an image of the dajaks on the river…

Dad and Mum are such fascinating people. Here they are at the time of their engagement.

My Dad has always been a wonderful raconteur and my Mum has many tales to tell too. I believe their combined influence has made me the writer I am today.

My Mum loved living in Scotland. She embraced the culture with great enthusiasm, going to Scottish Country dancing and the like. She still loves Edinburgh, which is bizarre given that she comes from a very different country culturally: Malaysia.

No doubt she must have found it difficult to adjust to living in Scotland to begin with. But perhaps having a Scottish dad helped!

Looking back, I wish I had continued writing. I started during my teens, writing diaries about my travels, and the like but then boys came on the scene, and later my graduate studies. I lost a sense of direction of who I was meant to be. This remained the same until eight years ago when I started blogging. My blogging site – Kyrosmagica which means crystal magic – grew with many activities, such as book reviews, photo challenges, poetry, and blog posts about my life and travels.

Sadly, I don’t have as much time for all these wonderful challenges these days. But I occasionally I still participate. I remember the pre-pandemic blogging bash events in London with great fondness. Blogging helped me grow as a person, develop my confidence and I will forever be grateful for that.

Whizzing forward to the present time, my hubby and I have decided to take early retirement recently and oddly I seem to have less time than I did before which is really strange given that there were times when I was working 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, getting home at least an hour later in the evening and still finding time to blog. I suppose your priorities change as you get older and our lifestyle is in the process of a major overhaul. We are making plans to spend more time in Portugal.

So, we have been travelling a lot. Exploring Portugal. Lisbon, Tavira, Sagres, …

More About Mum…

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve grown up with the idea of living abroad. My father, against local advice at the time, went off to the Far East and married my lovely mum, Paula, a Eurasian girl. Sadly, there was a far bit of prejudice at that time. My mother recently told me that at Dad’s office parties she often felt left out (due to being of Chinese/Eurosian parentage,) with few people to talk to. I was shocked to learn about this but perhaps not surprised. She had one or two allies who she spent time with and coped with it all admirably. When I look at photos of my mum, I see enormous strength of character.

Here she is the day she left for the UK (at the tender age of eighteen,) saying goodbye to her dear Malaysian friends… there is a touch of sadness in this photo.

Here she is with my brother and I… looking all smiley. Well, she is, I look a bit serious!

I love that she used to climb trees as a child and had a very free childhood to be adventurous herself!

I was a cheeky one too! And still am… Here’s me on a boat when I was little. I’ve always loved the sea.

So, in response to Sally’s question I wish I knew …I’d say that… doing things out of your comfort zone (like my Dad travelling abroad, my Mum leaving Kuching, Malaysia and my current plans to spend time abroad,) these adventure can enrich your life in ways you would never imagine. As can the smaller steps we take, like moving from Edinburgh to Cambridge. If I’d stayed in Edinburgh all my life, I am sure I would have been happy but… think of all the friendships I would not have made. The places I may not have seen.

I regret nothing and am looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.

And to future writing adventures!

©M.J. Mallon 2022

My thanks to Marje for sharing this lovely story of family and travel and the wonderful childhood of travel and adventure… as she says.. more to come. I know she would love to hear from you.

About M.J. Mallon

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile.

Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black hearted shadows.

Favourite genres to write: Fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic!

Books by M. J. Mallon

My advance review for The Hedge Witch & the Musical Poet July 16th 2022

This is a poetry and flash fiction collection seeped in nature and illustrates the love the author has for the environment, particular the forests.

The first pages share the delightful love story of the Hedge Witch and the Musical Poet, bringing two solitary characters together in the sanctuary of a magical forest far from the human world.

This story is followed by poems and flash ficton, some of which are poignant such as the tribute to a ginger cat in Chester, Don & I,and bewilderment voiced in The Network of Treesas they stand in danger from the human need for progress.

There is also the sad reflection that much of the beauty and adventures to be found in the forests are being missed as children find themselves engrossed in the online world instead. The author makes sure to include the fun they could be enjoying instead.

The Teddy in the Woodsprobably should come with a tissue alert.

There are some reminders of poems from another collection which I also enjoyed Mr. Sagittarius Poetry; one of my favourites being Rainbow – Parasol of Light.

In the second section of the collection there is a series of poems inspired by other writers. Set in the woodlands and the beauty they offer. This includes the ethereal The Forest King.

The forest king lives in the shadows
his hair and beard, a flame alight
in his crown, the fairy queen sits
far from the tangled roots of his throne.

This is a collection to savour and to dip into when the technical world we inhabit becomes too demanding, or we are in need of a touch of magic. I recommend to lovers of nature and fantasy.

Head over to pre-order the collection for August 15th: Amazon UK – And:Amazon US

 Read the reviews and buy the other books: Amazon US –And: Amazon UK Website: M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

Thanks for dropping in today – Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Update – #Reviews – #Poetry Balroop Singh, #YAFantasy M. J. Mallon, #Romance Jacquie Biggar


Delighted to share some recent reviews for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

Delighted to share a recent review for Balroop Singh… and her new collection…Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

About the collection

When I stumbled upon haiku – a Japanese form of poetry, I scoffed it away, thinking it to be too short and easy to write. My hubris got a setback when I was challenged to write it! My earlier efforts show how I struggled with the syllables that could convey a meaningful message. Slowly I discovered this art form, which I revere now. I’ve taken some liberties with the rules though.

The poetry in this collection is not traditional haiku and tanka but inspired from them.This collection focuses on micro-poetry, inspired from haiku, senryu, tanka and acrostic poems. Brevity and discipline is the hallmark of these poems.

A recent review for the collection

Cathleen Townsend 5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of haikus that should delight lovers of the art form.  Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2021

I was so inspired by Balroop Singh’s latest volume of vivid verse that I endeavored to frame my review in haiku form:

Balroop re-creates
Light from above in new clothes.
Faithful fragments hanging;
Mini-windows showing
Truth in starlit slivers.

Ms. Singh’s work showcases much more depth and breadth than my little tribute, however. The topics, as usual, focus on the positive–healing, flights of imagination, and the beauty both within and without.

If I were asked to choose my favorite, I would choose the fanciful fantasy, “Night Fairy.” I suppose this is hardly a surprise since I write fairy tales, but still. Pay close attention to that one as you slowly nibble your way through this assortment of little gems.

A collection of haikus that should delight lovers of the art form.  

Other books by Balroop Singh

415pxawf6tl-_uy250_51cezfo0l3l-_uy250_

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Balroop : Goodreads – blog:Balroop Singh on WordPress – Twitter: @BalroopShado

The next review is for M.J. Mallon’s new release of Bloodstone (The Curse Of Time Book 1) – Book 2 is following shortly.

About the book

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reader4life5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, magical read!   Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 July 2021

This magical young adult story is brimming with fresh imaginative ideas avoiding tropes often associated with fantasy. I was impressed with the unique vivid visual descriptions which brought both the settings and characters to life and the wonderful standard of writing throughout the story. A magical mystery unfolds for the main character Amelina, who makes discoveries during the plot, so we can enjoy seeing her grow in confidence and skill.

The story involves complex content which was difficult to follow initially but becomes more understandable as the story develops. The introduction of the antagonist, Ryder, really helps us to root for Amenlina. He is well written, and I enjoyed that he wasn’t given the typical look of a baddie but rather slowly and disconcertingly reveals his darker side, inserting himself between Amelina and her friends. I can see this being the start of a fabulous young adult series and hope there are more books to come!  

Books by M.J. Mallon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK Website:M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

The final review today is for  USA Today Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar – Secrets, Lies & Alibis (Wounded Hearts Book 8)

About the book

An elusive danger brings two obstinate lovers together for the sake of their unborn child

SAC Agent Amanda Rhinehold is driven to succeed, so it’s a bitter pill to swallow when she is forced to accept a demotion in order to distance herself from an error in judgment– one that leaves her pregnant.

Adam O’Connor uses his playboy image to keep anyone from getting too close. History has shown the people he cares about tends to get hurt, he’s like the proverbial bad luck charm. When an affair with his supervisor goes sideways and she leaves town, he figures it’s for the best, though his heart isn’t so sure.

When trouble comes calling, these two will have to sort their differences in order to protect their baby- and try not to fall in love in the process

One of the recent reviews for the book

specialangel  5.0 out of 5 stars Danger around every turn  Reviewed in the United States on July 9, 2021

Secrets, Lies, and Alibis by Jacquie Biggar is the kind of book that haunts you long after you turn the last page. It is deep, intense, exciting, really keeps you on edge, you cry, you fall in love with characters and you must pay attention to every little incident or you will miss important information. I was easily hooked from the beginning. I absolutely loved this story. Adam and Amanda tugged at my heart. Their love was such a major element of this book, one in which if I felt as though I was suffering right along with them. I recommend it highly.

A small selection of other books by Jacquie Biggar

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacquie : Goodreads – website: Jacquie Biggar – Twitter: @jacqbiggar

 

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

 

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.