Two Books to Warm Your Heart

It’s been freezing cold here and so it was the perfect weather to bundle up with a warm sweater, a pair of woolen socks, a blanket and a couple of books from some blogger friends. One a mystery, the other a contemporary romance.  

Lauren is tired of living with her in laws, especially her dominating mother-in-law and can hardly wait to be able to move out with her husband, Ben, and have the privacy and liberty she craves.

Her desires to escape her current situation make her the perfect target for falling for a get rich quick scam. By doing so, she practically loses all her and her husband’s life savings and in the process is destroying her marriage.

There is more to this novel besides the scam which places it above the white color crime genre and into the mystery crime novel.

This was an easy read and one that anybody who is thinking of embarking in a get rich scheme ought to read this book. It’s bound to make you think twice about giving your well earned money away.

SCAM is a fast paced novel with well developed characters. It is a story about forgiveness, mistakes and the power of love.

It’s short enough to be read in one sitting which I did not because of its length but because I couldn’t put it down. All in all a fun read.

SEARCHING FOR HOME takes place in a small village in Whispering Slopes in the Shenandoah Valley. Meg is both a physical therapist and runs a B&B which her sister left her along with a set of five-year-old triplets. Life is running along smoothly enough for Meg until Luke, an old boyfriend who dumped her, walks back into her life.

Cowboy Luke, as the triplets call him, is a famous bull rider who not only wants to win back Meg’s heart but sees the triplets as an opportunity to have the family he always craved for. He is especially drawn to little Tucker who has a chip on his shoulder for having been abandoned by his parents – something Luke can well understand and identify with. He himself has had a difficult past  – an unwanted child and always seeking but never getting his father’s approval. So he understand the little boy’s anger at his father abandoning him.

Romance novels, at least for me, make me relax and forget about any problems or duties awaiting me. Jill’s novels are comfort food for the soul. As all of Jill Weatherholt’s novels, this is a feel-good book. It’s also sweet proving that not all sweets are bad for you.

Two Books for The New Year

Ana Linden is a blogger I’ve been following for some time and an insightful writer. If you haven’t read any of her books I highly recommend her. In her latest post she was kind enough to review my book along with Charlie Robinson’s book – an author I was unfamiliar with until I read Ana’s review and which I now want to read. Stop by Ana’s blog. You’re in for a treat. Besides her insightful writing she is also a fabulous photographer. Thank you, Ana, for your review of my book. I am very grateful. ❤

Ana Linden

The Siege of Mr Kahn’s Curry Shop– by Charlie Robinson

“How do you live a life when you don’t have a past? I need to know – for me.”

I was already familiar with Charlie Robinson’s storytelling, thoroughly enjoying his sense of humour and witty writing style on his blog. I already knew he was working on his first novel – two decades in the making, as he put it. Then, once I saw the cover, the title and the synopsis, I instantly wanted to read The Siege of Mr Kahn’s Curry Shop as I had a feeling it wouldn’t disappoint.

“This is life – sometimes we make a success of things and sometimes we don’t. More often than not, we don’t, but we carry on and we need to carry on without bearing a grudge.”

Well, I was right. I may have mentioned this before, I don’t…

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Robyn Harding: The Arrangement

It was a pleasure to read Robyn Harding’s the Arrangement. I was immediately hooked into this novel.

The first half of the novel reads like a romantic novel where poor girl finds her prince charming (put aside the sugar daddy and sugar baby dynamics). What woman wouldn’t want the kind of attention and love which Gabe showered so generously on Nat? Think Pretty Woman.

Through Robyn Harding’s intensive research on sugar babies, (which she describes in her Acknowledgements), we get a good glance into this dark and tightly controlled world.

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving. *

The second half of the novel is a mystery/court case/crime novel.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder. *

I was surprised that one of the categories in the product description was kidnapping thriller, which I did not find pertinent to this novel. Unless I’m missing something.

The ending was satisfactory and somewhat unexpected; it had a comfortable feel to it and the novel moved at a relatively fast pace. It was a rather long book but well worth my time.

* Italic text is from the book description on Amazon.

Ten Tips On Writing Mysteries

First off, these writing tips are not just for mystery writers. Gail Bowen is the author of the Joanne Kilbourn mysteries. She’s written 16 of them so far and if you’re a fan of Joanne Kilbourne you’ll learn a lot about her in this book. Secondly, the tips aren’t just for writers of series although quite a long section in a chapter titled Creating a Robust Series is devoted to that.

  1. When writing take breaks. Well, this is hardly new advice but the author suggests writing for twenty-five minutes and then take five-minute breaks. I’ve tried it and set my timer for twenty-five minutes which works marvelously well and am always surprised at how quickly the time goes by and how I get into my writing although my five-minute breaks tend to be much longer.
  2. Write early in the morning. She gets up at five am to write claiming that two hours of writing in the mourning is worth four hours of writing later in the day. I’m with her on that although not that early!  
  3. Select brief but telling details about weather and its effect on character in order to create a mood to draw the reader into the story.
  4. Make your characters deeply flawed so that your reader will be able to identify and connect with them.
  5. Use minor characters to lighten the mood while still keeping the plot moving.
  6. Give your first draft a rigorous edit before sending it off. Rigorous being the operative word.
  7. Try to give your book a title as early in the process as possible. This will guide you in keeping to the theme of your novel.  
  8. Almost every piece of writing can be improved if you cut it by a third (ouch!)
  9. Your first obligation as a writer is to offer a powerful human story.
  10. If you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re a real writer. Stay the course.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #CrimeThriller Carol Balawyder, #Poetry Victoria Zigler, #Family Lisette Brodey

I am so grateful to Sally for promoting my latest crime novel Just Before Sunrise and Jacqui Murray’s generous review of it. Jacqui also has a new book out: The Laws of Nature which is receiving phenomenal reviews. Besides my novel’s review here, you can read about two other wonderful books. Victoria Zigler’s provocative poetry book on writing, creativity, death, grief and covid 19 and Lizette Brodey’s touching novel on grief, hope and healing. I am so happy to have discovered these two wonderful and dedicated writers who help nourish our collective souls.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review for her latest release is Carol Balawyder – a coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way…

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J.E. Spina: In A Second

In A Second has many layers. First there is the abusive husband and cruel father whom Spina takes to its ultimate limits.

Then there is the relationship between the three generations of women: mother (Carla), grandmother (Grace) and daughter (Athena) who, for those of you old enough to remember, brought to my mind The Golden Girls. Along with these three wonderful characters is their abilities to see into the future and erase memories.

Third, there is romance. Lots of heartwarming romance but not until there has been heartbreak, danger and surprises.

 Mix all of these levels and what you get is a suspenseful novel full of twists, intrigues, sitting on the edge of your seat and reading far into the night.

A month after being in a coma due to an accident, Athena finds her memory distorted and is obsessed with a man she believed she was to marry and whom she also believes was in the car with her at the time of the accident. Nobody in her family has ever heard of him. Is she living a memory or seeing into the future?

Add to this J.E. Spina’s reasons as to why Carla remains with an abusive husband and Athena’s telepathic connection with her grandmother Grace.

There’s lots to digest in this novel where clairvoyance plays a strong role.

This is the second novel I read by J.E. Spina. The first was Hunting Mariah, a fast-paced thriller.

She has also written a new book, Lubelia Alycea – a historical romance.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Comingofage #Crimethriller – Just Before Sunrise by Carol Balawyder

Thank you, Sally, for posting my latest novel along with Jacqui’s review of my other crime novel Warning Signs.

Follow me on Facebook at:  https://www.Facebook.com/authorcarolbalawyder

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Carol Balawyder – a coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next…

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Bau: It’s here!

It’s finally on sale – a book which I have been working on for years.

Throughout these years the book’s title has changed. It first was Only the Lonely, inspired by Roy Orbison’s iconic song Only the Lonely and which I also included as a quote in the beginning of the novel.

Then the title became The Boy Next Door but I found it told only part of the story. The Set Up was the third title but after a bit of research I found that there were too many books with that title.

Finally, I settled with Just Before Sunrise because it evokes the question: What happened just before sunrise? Which is the whole point of the story.

Right now, Bau, who has been so tolerant throughout this process is still manifesting his patience and control. He is just eagerly waiting for me to finish this post and press publish so that he can go for his well earned walk.

I am very proud to present my dog Mom’s latest novel Just Before Sunrise. It is available in both e-book and paperback.

I hope that those of you who will read it will enjoy it.  

Description on AMAZON

Bau: Cover Reveal

Let loose without my leash as a reward for all my patience while I waited for my Dog Mom to finish her latest novel with its new title and blurb.

She’s warned me that although the cover is done, her manuscript is not quite ready. Not more waiting around!

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency, has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder. But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him.

When she finds herself party to murder, and she realizes he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.

An older woman, a younger man and their rocky relationship become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.

Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

Bau: Let me Know When It’s Over

My Doggy Mom is still working on her book. Because she wants to change the title I am forced to endure hours lying next to her as she keeps searching for a suitable one. It’s enough to put a dog to sleep. I wonder if she spent that much time searching for my name.

Doggy Mom: Well, in fact, it was easier. You are of French origin and I wanted you to have a literary name.

Bau: As if I can read French!

Doggy Mom: I thought of Hugo, as in Victor Hugo, but I didn’t think that my daughter’s friend, Hugo, would appreciate me naming you after him.

Bau: He should have been honored.

Doggy Mom: So, anyway there was Baudelaire but that was too long. So I shortened it to Bau. Here in Montreal where almost everyone speaks French, when they ask what your name is, they think I mean Beau, which means handsome.

Bau: Oh, I quite like that!

Doggy Mom: Fits you perfectly. Anyway back to my book title.

Bau: Oh yeah (Yawn, Yawn). What was wrong with The Set Up? Lots of books have that title.

Doggy Mom: That’s the problem. I don’t want my book to get lost in the slush pile.

Bau: If that’s the case, you should have checked before wasting my time.

Doggy Mom: You’re right. Learn from my mistakes. Also the title gives the story plot away.

Bau: What about the cover?

Doggy Mom: Finally, I found what I was looking for. Now, I’m just waiting for the graphic designer to get back to me. Could be a few weeks. Of course there’s going to be the extra headache of formatting my book to fit Amazon standards.

Bau: Oh, boy! I think I’m going to go for a nap. Wake me when it’s over.