Review: “They Were Counted” by Miklos Banffy

By Banffy They Were Counted (Transylvanian Trilogy) (Tra)Pre-1914 Hungary is one of my special areas of interests and I was very excited to find this book – long lost during the communist area and finally rediscovered.
It follows two Transylvanian cousins and their differing fortunes:
One a politician, achieving and well-liked, the other a gambler, wastrel and anti-hero.
At 600 pages small print this is a book of War and Peace proportions, very rich in historic, socio-cultural, political and general descriptive details.
As I’m contemplating my next book to be set in this era I found this a treasure of information and insights.
The political situation in Hungary from the Transylvanian perspective, representing a provincial and neglected area in a parliament obsessed with Machiavellian operations, family relations, morals and courting – there is much to learn from the rich tapestry provided.
Explanations of people’s reasoning and the background for their decisions illustrate perfectly the way of living, norms and ways of thinking.
As a reader of fiction I like my books admittedly at a faster pace and found much of what I read getting in the way of enjoyment, suspense and intrigue.
Plot developments became predictable 20 – 30 pages before the inevitable happened. Yet, as I’m writing this I must confess that I still couldn’t let go of the book prematurely or skip through it. Despite all criticism the novel has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, a compelling and attractive element that I find hard to put into words.
I may not have enjoyed all of it and I may not rush to get the second and third part of the trilogy right away, but I’m glad I did read the book and I know curiosity will get the better of me and find those other two parts of the Transylvanian Trilogy.

Overall this proved a fascinating historical tour de force about an area of Europe that has been neglected by historians and politicians alike. Psychological insights into two very different people and another perspective on the Austro-Hungarian Empire coming to it’s fall.


Guest Post: Darlene Foster

Let me introduce fellow blogger Darlene Foster and her books


I am delighted to be able to bring you a guest post from the lovely Darlene Foster, a Canadian blogger and published author.

Here is her own short bio.

Brought up on a ranch in Canada, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She has always loved to tell stories and was encouraged by her grade three teacher to write them down. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring 12-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Germany, Holland and her own country, Canada. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the sunny Costa Blanca of Spain and the west coast of Canada.

And this is her unedited guest post.

How Travel Memories Became Books for Kids


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Review “The White Massai! by Corinne Hofmann

The White Masai By Corinne Hofmann

Corinne Hofmann falls in love with a Masai warrior while on holiday with her boyfriend in Kenya. After overcoming all sorts of obstacles, she moves into a tiny shack with him and his mother in his village, and spends four years in Kenya. Slowly but surely the dream starts to crumble until she flees back home with her baby daughter.

My opinion:
This is quite an intriguing story, right up my street, about inter-cultural understanding, marriage and life decisions.

Being an auto-biography at times the story made me gasp. The honesty in which it is written is refreshing and shocking at the same time.
The fate of a woman who fell for a man she couldn’t communicate with at first and who then decided of her own free will to adapt to his strict and often very limiting cultural life style will have many in doubt about the woman’s sanity. And yet her unconditional love, her willingness to compromise teaches us about the nature of compromise and understanding. We normally see the ‘primitive’ culture assimilating to the more developed, whereas here a business woman takes on the different culture and actually makes a success out of it in many ways. It is worth reading for the fresh perspective of Masai life as well as for the thoughts in Hofmann’s head.

Hofmann neither becomes a victim nor does she vilify anyone and that makes her a remarkable and compelling story teller. Quite different from what I had expected this book really grabbed me and never let me go. I still think about her and her force and wonder what other people, particularly feminists, would make of her story.

Please read it and tell me. I’d be curious to know.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Scifi – The Magisters – Book One by Jack Eason

John is a blogger I hold in high esteem. I’m very intrigued by this book and it’s synopsis. Head over to Sally’s blog and check it out 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of Jack Eason’s latest release – The Magisters: Book One.

About the book

The Magisters is a science fiction story with a difference. Apart from chronicling the ultimate change of life for a select few individuals, it questions all accepted ideas by closeminded academics that leave no room for alternative thinking by some among their number. It is also about a woman born ten years after the Romans left Britannia forever and a man born in the twentieth century. Add to that everything that is currently environmentally wrong with our planet today, and you have all the necessary ingredients for an enthralling tale. Now read on…

One of the early reviews for the book

Jan 06, 2020M.J. Mallon rated it Five Stars –  it was amazing

This engaging story makes the reader wonder. What if our ancient monuments were resurrected, what would the outcome…

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The charities who were cheated

79985588_10214393024052143_1232300905487925248_n.jpgMany of you know the authors of Do No Harm medical thriller set raised money for Operation Renewed Hope (for American Veterans) and Anicara Pet Care to support Senior Pets. We were told by the publisher, the now defunct Genius Media, that each charity would receive $1,800. Then Wid Bastian, owner of Genius Medial told us there were NO royalties for authors or money for the charities. In short, the 17 authors and named of DO NO HARM were #SCAMMED and #CHEATED along with our 501c3 charities. While we are pursuing criminal and legal action, I feel badly for the charities who have counted on those monies. I have enclosed the link to contribute to Anicara

and Operation Renewed Hope

Please, if you can, help us raise these amounts as the charities has counted on these dollars. You can use your credit card. Every little bit will help these organizations. Many thanks and Happy Holidays! 

Review / Pre-order release of The Golden Viper (The Crimson Deathbringer Trilogy Book 2) by Sean Robins

Released today


The Golden Viper (The Crimson Deathbringer Trilogy Book 2) by [Robins, Sean]

Following my enthusiastic review of Book One in the series  (The Crimson Death Bringer)
here are my announcement of Book 2 going on pre-sale and my pre-release review – thanks to the author’s preview copy.

You will all know that I rarely dive into science fiction reading but I saw the author’s quirky tweets and got into the series that way.

THE GOLDEN VIPER is a bit more serious than the first and the novel gets you more of the sci-fi action with more focus on the actual science fictions story, the fighting scenes, the different species and other fantasy elements.

A surprise attack of unexpected dimensions forces our heroes to think quickly on their feet and come up with solutions how to fight off the invaders. All the more disturbing is the re-appearance of a character previously thought dead. From there the action never lets up and keeps…

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Liars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction: A Goose Pimple Junction Mystery, book 5 by Amy Metz

Reblog from OlgaNM Liars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction: A Goose Pimple Junction Mystery, book 5 by Amy Metz

Thanks Olga for alerting me to this new book in Amy Metz’s fabulous series.
I’m a big fan and can’t believe I would have missed this.

The Blurb:
It’s election season, and there’s a new candidate in town. Virgil Pepper is determined
to take the job from Goose Pimple Junction’s long-time mayor. Virgil is a charming and
charismatic candidate but someone who will say anything (and mean none of it)
to get what he wants. Three things top his list: to become mayor, to acquire Jackson
Wright’s land, and to make Caledonia Culpepper one of his many conquests.

Wynona Baxter is back, and she’s a new woman. Now Daisy has a new identity, new life,
and new business–ironically named Killer Cupcakes. But the town soon finds out that
isn’t the only kind of killer in town. Book five of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series
combines political hijinks, delicious cupcakes, Goose Juice moonshine, the ups and downs
of finding true love, and, of course, murder.

It is said that “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only
variable is about what.” Lying in politics, lying for personal and professional gain,
lying about an identity . . . What are the folks of Goose Pimple Junction willing to
lie for . . . and what are they willing to die for?

Amy Metz
Author Amy Metz

About the author:

Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two grown sons. When not writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Pinterest and Facebook, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy loves unique Southern phrases, cupcakes, and a good mystery. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Find out more at

Olga’s review:

The author provided me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. This in no way influenced my opinion.

I have read and enjoyed some of the books in the collection, but I somehow missed number 4, and that, perhaps helps me tailor my comment also towards readers who might be considering reading this book without having checked the rest. Yes, the story is self-contained, although there are references to events that have taken place in previous books, and a lot of the characters will be familiar to those following the series, who will be in a better position to understand the background to some of the interactions and also the web of relationships and the ins and outs of life at Goose Pimple Junction. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I love the name of the place! So, regarding the issue of reading it as a standalone, I’d say one does not need to have read all the books in the series to enjoy it, but because some of the characters have names and nicknames (witty and funny, I admit), and their relationships are not always evident, it might get a bit confusing to follow the story if you are totally new to it. On the other hand, as I said, I had missed one of the books, and I could pick up the narrative without any problem. I am convinced, though, that reading them all in order enhances the experience, and it’s like visiting a familiar place where you always have fun and renew old friendships every time you go.

The way the story is told is quite interesting, and it adds to the mystery. We start with a murder (a new character, Virgil, who is in the race to become the mayor of the town, is murdered in mysterious circumstances), a confession, and then we go back to several months before the event, counting back to the time of the crime, and then moving forward with the investigation. It works well, because we keep mulling over in our minds how everything we read might relate to the crime (and there are other suspicious deaths as well), and this results in plenty of red herrings, more and more suspects and plenty of possible motives (Virgil is far from a nice man, as we discover. In fact, he is a narcissist who treats women badly, and his business practices and politics aren’t much better either). Although told in third person, the narration follows the points of views of several of the characters, without ever giving us an advantage when it comes to solving the mystery. We might think we know what has happened, and we are privy to some information the sheriff department don’t have, but things are, of course, not as straightforward as they seem to be.

As the mystery part of the plot advances, we also get to learn more about some new arrivals to the town (not totally new, but I’ll avoid spoilers), and also catch up on what has happened to those inhabitants we have come to know and cherish. There are romances developing, a new cupcake shop (if you’re on a diet, I’d take care with the book, as there are many reference to Killer Cupcakes, both the shop and the actual items), there are shady business deals (moonshine liquor, buying land with coercion and under false pretences), there is Oktoberfest to spice up things and bring in the party atmosphere (the fancy dresses, mostly wordplay related, bring in plenty of chuckles), and the ending is very satisfying, and it hints at even better times to come for Goose Pimple Junction. (Yes, I want to move there, or at least go for a very long holiday).

The story flows well, moves at good pace, and the combination of the mystery aspects with the lives of the characters is seamless. I highlighted so many parts of the dialogue, funny repartees, and quotes, that I was unable to choose just a few to add to this review, so my recommendation is to check a sample of the book if you’re trying to decide if you’ll enjoy it or not. I wonder if a list of characters, with their names, nicknames, and relationships might serve as a memory aid for readers visiting the town again, and might also assist readers totally new to the series.

The Southern-style sayings and the dialect of the region (Tennessee), the peculiar lingo and expressions of some of the townspeople, the new characters (I liked Daisy, but her mother, Kaye, must be my favourite new addition), and the quotes at the beginning of the chapter (all about lying and liars), give this book its unique flavour, and people who’ve read previous books in the series and loved them, will have a blast with this one.

I recommend this book to lovers of cozy mysteries, especially those who enjoy stories set in the Southern part of the USA and prefer their crimes laced with plenty of humour, wit, and local flavour. I think the novel works better as part of the series, and I’d recommend people who like the sound of it to start at the beginning, with Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction (you can check my reviews of the first three books in the series, here). I hope to keep on visiting the town in the future, that is, if I don’t manage to move there!

New Release: “30 Days in June” by Chris Westlake

Very excited today to receive a copy of “30 Days in June” in the mail today. The perfect Christmas present. Thanks Christ Westlake


Chris Westlake
After completing a Creative Writing course in 2010, Chris Westlake’s short story, Welsh Lessons, was awarded 1st place in the Global Short Story Award (not bad for the first writing competition he had entered). He followed this up with 1st place in the Stringybark Erotic Fiction Award and 2nd place in the HASSRA Literary Award.

Chris has written three novels. 30 DAYS IN JUNE is his first crime thriller. He is currently writing his second thriller, on schedule to be completed in 2020. He is determined to write many, many more – his main regret is that he didn’t start writing earlier.

Chris considers himself to be a developing author. He is always looking to improve, to make his next novel even better than the last. He is continuously experimenting with different styles, different genres.

You can discover more about Chris on his website,

You can contact Chris at


Dan Alatorre

I recently became a USA Today bestselling, something I’m very proud of. But in the process, Wid Bastian, an alleged marketer, stole more than $20,000from me and other authors I worked with.

That’s not okay.

(I have no concerns about what follows because the truth is the best defense. Here goes.)

The idea was…

cross market between 17 authors, our fan bases, our newsletter subscribers (some of these authors have 30,000 subscribers!), buy ads, AND – this is big – get a few big charities to work with us: we’d give 100% of the preorder money to the charities if they advertised our book to their donor list (that’s tens of thousands of people, gang).

So… we did.

The charities, contacted by authors in the group, advertised our books to their donor list.

The authors cross marketed.

We networked.

We tweeted and posted and a bunch of other stuff…

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Review / Warning of ‘promotional service’ by Wid Bastian / Genius Media / Kairos Phoenix Company

Here is a little warning about a “service” I subscribed to recently:
Wid Bastian of Genius Media who now has a new business named Kairos Phoenix Company (KPC).

I’m usually sceptical when it comes to professional indie author support but was taken in by his string of box sets. So many authors couldn’t be wrong?

Our book, Do No Harm, A collection of Medical thrillers, did well. Thanks to advertising and our own huge efforts we made USA Today and gathered 1.5 millions page reads during the short time it was in KU.

Two charities were named for this set, both 501c3 charities in the US and were to receive the pre-order proceeds.  The charities advertised and marketed the set along with the authors. I’ve seen predominantly the marketing efforts from charities and the authors involved – actually next to nothing from his company.

Anyway, when it came to the end of the project and payments were due Wid stated in a Facebook post to us that Genius Media spent over $15,000 on the set (his own fee was $7,050 USD not counting his two staff members) and the total revenues for the set were only $14,000, hence no payout.

Hang on – we already paid the expenses upfront. Per contract our own fee to him should have covered all advertising and labour already so he double pocketed – fees and earnings!
And even if our fees hadn’t been paid, we earned well in excess of the fee, with some KU money still to come. Yet, at a rate of $75 per hour for his ‘work’ or more and despite what’s in the contract there will be no money for the charities and no royalties for the authors.
It’s appalling and I am so sorry to all the people who helped us promote the set under the impression they were helping veterans and dog shelters. Beastly to rob charities. Some of us have donated their own money to said charities in embarrassment while others are pursuing legal action against Wid.

I understand Wid has other Box Sets as a marketing product line in KPC and is currently engaged in recruiting other authors and promising them potential success in a USA Today run.  Please let other authors be aware of him. This is so wrong on so many levels. He keeps moving companies and apparently uses variations of his name but the picture is verified by one of our authors who has met Wid.

Here’s what our contract stated:

“For the purposes of the USA Today Bestseller Medical Thriller Author Publishing Collaborative Boxed Set program, Genius Media shall not incur any publication and promotion expenses of any nature in excess of the fees paid under the terms of its author agreements and shall have no power to obligate the author or any other author for any publication and promotion expense above author fees paid whatsoever at any time.”

We paid a total of $12,750 which was the total amount GM would receive for publication and promoting expenses for DNH, which, of course, would include labor costs associated with that promotion and publication.