Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the shelves – Frolicksome Women and Troublesome Wives: Wife Selling in England by Barb Drummond

I’ve met Barb at bookish events from London to Llandeilo.
Barb Drummond has been researching and self-publishing books on British history for over a decade. She writes about art, architecture, civil engineering and abolition of the slave trade. She has appeared on local tv and radio, carried out research for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and is often consulted by researchers.

On September 4 2018 she published a trio of quirky, original books:
Mr Bridges’ Enlightenment Machine: Forty Years on Tour in Georgian Britain
Frolicksome Women and Troublesome Wives: Wife Selling in England
The Midas of Manumission: Samuel Gist and his Virginian Slaves

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to a new author to the cafe and bookstore… Barb Drummond and her latest book released at the end of August – Frolicksome Women & Troublesome Wives  – Wife Selling England.

About the book

In the late 18th century, French travellers claimed an Englishman tired of his wife could dispose of her at Smithfield’s beast market. Examples can be found scattered through press records. Some were, as often claimed, brutal, sometimes drunken affairs. But others were civilised, even joyful events ending in marriage-style dinners. They varied widely over time, place, and practice. In England marriage was easily entered into, but was virtually impossible to escape. Sales took many forms to ensure they were legal, and rituals were often incorporated.

This book is about the nature of marriage itself, of what it meant to our ancestors, of how the public responded to disputes, and about the rights of women and…

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Review: “The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter (A Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Book 1)” by Joan Lipinsky Cochran

The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter 

A very compelling and intense read as the daughter of a Yiddish gangster gradually learns more about the mis-doings of her father. The book is set in the Jewish community of contemporary Miami and has a very authentic feel to it. Having never forgiven her father Tootsie fully for cheating on his mother, Becks has a difficult relationship with him to start with. Then a woman accuses her father of murder and so Becks decides to investigate those claims, opening old wounds and cans of worms. At the same time she finds her own husband was also having an affair, bringing more complications and soul searching into her life.
This is as much a family saga as it is crime fiction. There are more family members involved and affected, the same as there are more criminals and business associates in the crime part of the story.
Some of the inner conflicts Becks goes through seem the same as we are going into deeper levels of crimes and disclosure, yet I found the story overall well told and the writing and the narrative voice so compelling that I read the novel within almost one sitting.
I enjoyed the few interspersed chapters told from the perspective of her father very much, too, as it added a great extra note without taking away from the rest. Definitely an author I’ll be watching.

Get the book at:

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a former journalist who now focuses on writing crime-related novels that explore subcultures of American Judaism. Her most recent book, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is about a woman whose life is endangered when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia. It was one of three 2011 Claymore Award finalists and an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalist. Her first book, Still Missing Beulah: Stories of Jews and Blacks in Mid-Century Miami, explores the racism and anti-Semitism that tarnished Miami’s past and informed the relationship between the two minority groups. Three of the short stories in that collection have won literary awards. When she’s not working on a novel, Joan is testing recipes and writing food columns and articles, playing classical and Irish violin, reading, sailing, and bicycling. She lives in Boca Raton with her husband and ungrateful cat.

Official plot:
Since separating from her philandering husband, Boca Raton writer Becks Ruchinsky has struggled to build a closer relationship with her quirky and contentious father, Tootsie, who lives in a retirement home. One evening, as she and her father are relaxing on the home’s front porch, an elderly woman accuses Tootsie of having murdered her husband fifty years earlier.

Tootsie admits to ratting on the man, who’d cheated their Jewish syndicate boss out of thousands of dollars, but denies killing the widow’s husband. He also admits to having friends in the Jewish mafia and shares stories about his experiences. But the more time she spends with her father, the more convinced Becks becomes that Tootsie is lying about his involvement. Determined to discover the truth about her dad’s past, she sets out on a journey to undercover his darkest secrets. She learns he worked for the Jewish mafia –running numbers for the Cuban lottery, beating up Nazi sympathizers, and smuggling arms to Israeli independence fighters. When she learns that he murdered his best friend and, possibly, his own brother, she must decide if she can accept his criminal past – or cut him out of her life.

The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter also explores the impact our parents’ relationships have on our own. Throughout the book, Becks challenges her father on his infidelity toward her mother and becomes frustrated by his refusal to acknowledge that what he did was hurtful to his entire family. She’s upset when Tootsie minimizes her husband’s affair and encourages her to take him back. Ultimately, Becks realizes that she cannot forgive her husband for cheating until she comes to terms with her father’s infidelities…and her mother’s willingness to put up with them.

A gripping and thought-provoking murder mystery, this award-winning novel explores the colorful and precarious world of the 1940s and 1950s Jewish mafia . . . and the limits of familial love.

Praise for The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter
Whatever you might think you’ll find in a book entitled The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, forget it. Joan Lipinsky Cochran has crafted an engaging, multi-layered family saga cum mystery where a fifty-something woman and mother of two grown sons suddenly discovers that the comfortable, predictable life she has been living is nothing but a sham. Her attempts to make sense of her impossible new reality are both touching and gripping, making for a truly unique literary experience.
Les Standiford, author of Center of Dreams and Last Train to Paradise

A compelling and well-written family drama. Cochran beautifully captures a daughter’s angst and frustration with a father who’s determined to hold onto his secrets even when his family members’ lives are at risk. These are characters you want to be friends with . . . and a few you hope never to run into in a dark alley.
Sharon Potts, award-winning author of The Other Traitor

A gripping family drama in which a daughter has to confront the mystery of her father’s criminal past. Gritty and realistic and hard to put down. Well done!
Deborah Shlian, author of Florida Book Award Gold Medal Winner for Rabbit on the Moon

A fascinating and engrossing read. The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter examines questions of trust and loyalty through the dual eyes of a father with a hidden past and a daughter who is gradually discovering her father’s secrets – and wishes she hadn’t. It’s a story of heartbreak and loss told with humor and grace.
Rabbi Ilene Schneider, award winning author of the Rabbi Akiva Cohen Mysteries and of Talking Dirty – in Yiddish

Christoph Fischer: The Body in the Snow

A charming review for my Bebe Bollinger series. Thanks Carol!

Carol Balawyder

The body in the snow

Figuring out the puzzle in a mystery is always a lot of fun and has the added perk of exercising the brain.
The Body in the Snow is a modern version of a classic Agatha Christie plotline. Set in Llangurrey, a remote hamlet tucked miles away from the nearest town, is experiencing the worst snowstorm in twenty years. All roads and motorways have been closed.
I was immediately drawn into this cozy whodunit and the domestic dynamics among the characters.
The author begins by introducing the characters, a bit of their background, their family, marital status and so forth in very broad drawn strokes. You get the picture. There’s a Diva, a happy divorcee, a handyman and a host of other unlikeable characters.
Now, in present time, they find themselves neighbors, along with their past histories, secrets and personalities that clash with each other. The characters have such unique characteristics…

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Guest author: Sally Cronin ~ Why I am skipping old age and looking forward to my second childhood instead

True and inspiring words about age and attitude

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

It is always a pleasure to have Sally over as a guest, especially when she is writing about an issue so close to my heart:

My thanks to Sue for the invitation to write a post for her today… always lovely to be over on her spectacular and eclectic blog.

Sally aged 7 years old – looking forward and not back

Why I am skipping Old Age and embarking on my Second Childhood instead.

I have researched the delights of Old Age rigorously, in an effort to determine if I want to actually accept the title. I looked after my mother for several years in her late 80s to her mid-90s, and I would say that she was young at heart until dementia robbed her of that at age 92.

She said that she felt the same inside as she had as a young woman, despite the wrinkles and…

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What does a reader have to say about A Different Kind of Angel: there is not a person out there who should not read this book.

One of my favourite writers and a woman who has taken a special place in my heart. Here’s a review of her new book. I’m close to finishing it myself, and hope to have a review ready myself very soon.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

A Different Kind Of Angel

Paulette Mahurin(Goodreads Author)

Vicki‘s review
Oct 07, 2018
it was amazing

bookshelves: 2018-releases, 201-300-pages, historical-fiction

What an amazing book written by one of my favorite historical fiction writers, Paulette Mahurin. Personally, I hadn’t heard of the “two-mile-long stretch of land in the middle of the East River [that] was the home of the New York City Lunatic Asylum” and it was called Blackwell’s Island Asylum. According to the “Prologue” it was the “first civic mental hospital in the city of New York.” I found it appalling that some of the caretakers were prisoners from Blackwell’s Island Prison, which explains at least some of the inhumane treatment of “patients.”

I must say that I’m rarely ever shocked anymore by things I read or hear about, but I still am deeply disturbed by reading when atrocities are committed upon human beings by…

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Discovering Diamonds Review: “A Painted Samovar” by Sarah Roux

A Painted Samovar by [Roux, Sarah]

“A Painted Samovar” by Sarah Roux is the moving and epic saga of one man’s involvement in the Manchurian conflict between Russia and Japan and then in WW1 / the Russian Revolution. It is a story of multiple challenges and the will to preserver.
The main story is nicely surrounded by scenes in London, 1967, when a former friend arrives at the family home to visit the now deceased Isaac.

The story then jumps back to 1905 as Isaac fights against the Japanese. The portrayal of the war scenes and Isaac’s perspective of it is very well-done; the situation of Jews in Tsarist Russia and their culture seems well-researched and authentic and is very fascinating.
The narrative jumps to the East End of London in 1912, where – now a cabinet maker – Isaac founds his family. Again, I enjoyed the detailed scene setting and the well-chosen characters. Isaac faces deportation back to Russia which separates him from his family. The rest of the novel is his struggle to return to them.
This is a compelling and inspiring read, sometimes harrowing, and historically rich, bringing to my attention yet another lesser known fate, shared by some 4000 people. Knowing that this is inspired by the author’s own family makes the story all the more powerful and captivating.
Well done.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds


Isaac, a Jewish cabinet maker fleeing his troubles in the Pale of Settlement, arrives in the East End searching for a measure of peace. When he falls in love and marries his employer’s daughter Sophie, he believes he can turn his life around. But with the outbreak of war, his new world begins to unravel. Still traumatised from his younger days in the Tsar’s Army, he is too afraid to fight in the trenches for his adopted country and after months of prevarication he is sent back to Russia in 1917.

Cast adrift in the boiling cauldron of revolution, he holds onto the memory of Sophie and their children as he struggles to survive. Travelling through the chaotic landscape with his friend Max, Isaac finds his inner strength and courage in a remarkable set of adventures, as he embarks on his epic journey home.

Lamenting one of history’s forgotten footnotes, A Painted Samovar weaves the tale of one man’s mistakes and misfortunes and an extraordinary twist of fate…

Review: “In the Shadow of Light” by Elaine Orr

“In The Shadow of Light” by Elaine L. Orr is a dramatic read that will pull on your heart strings as it illustrates the human suffering caused by the recently so strictly implemented separation policy for immigrants and their children in the US.

Headlines and scare politics about immigrants – these days as well in the past – can easily turn people and humans into numbers. And it can turn other people into unfeeling robots. Orr does a fantastic job at tipping those scales back to more realistic and a humanitarian appraisal of the situation.

Orr created excellent characters with relatable and likeable traits that allow us to feel and understand the problem, yet she has woven it into a dramatic and suspenseful and entertaining novel.

Corozón, her mother, and little brother Pico have left Honduras to seek asylum in the U.S. Grandfather Tito and her father Manuel saved the life of Colonel Bill, an American soldier, many years ago. It’s probably part of the reason Corozón’s father was murdered. They believe they are fleeing to safety, but don’t know about the family separation policy. While they flee northward, the daughter and friend of the DOJ employee who has become the face of the policy attend a birthday party. But they don’t make it home. Someone wants young Kyra’s father to feel the pain of the separated families. Thanks to a nighttime photo snapped by a freelancer, Corozón’s terror at having her little brother pried from her resonates with many. A Washington Post reporter joins Colonel Bill to try to find the family. But the DOJ isn’t helping nearly as much to get young Kyra released. Two families, different circumstances, scary options.

Highly recommended.

Connect with Elaine:
Amazon UK



Elaine L. Orr authors three mystery series, including the eleven-book Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, which is set at the Jersey shore. “Behind the Walls” was a finalist for the 2014 Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Awards. First in her three-book River’s Edge mystery series was “From Newsprint to Footprints,” followed by “Demise of a Devious Neighbor.” Iowa nice meets murder. The second River’s Edge book was a Chanticleer finalist in 2017. “Tip a Hat to Murder” is set in rural Illinois, and is the first of the Logland mystery series.

Elaine also writes plays and novellas, including the one-act, “Common Ground,” published in 2015. Her novella, “Biding Time,” was one of five finalists in the National Press Club’s first fiction contest, in 1993. “Falling into Place” is a novella about family strength as a World War II veteran rises to the toughest occasion. “In the Shadow of Light” is the fictional story of Corozón and her family, who are separated at the U.S./Mexico border.

Elaine conducts presentations on electronic publishing and other writing-related topics. Nonfiction includes “Words to Write By: Getting Your Thoughts on Paper” and “Writing in Retirement: Putting New Year’s Resolutions to Work.” She also presents online classes about writing and publishing.

A member of Sisters in Crime, Elaine grew up in Maryland and moved to the Midwest in 1994. Elaine graduated from the University of Dayton with a BA in Political Science and from the American University with an MA in Government. She worked for GAO and the National Academy of Public Administration for many year, and for two Iowa members of the U.S. House of Representatives — one Republican and one Democrat.

Elaine did some journalism course work at the University of Maryland and has taken fiction courses from The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and Georgetown University’s Continuing Education Program. She is a regular attendee at the Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis and the Book Bums Workshop in West Liberty, Iowa.


Narbeth Book Fair at the Quees Hall Sat 22 of September 2018

Narberth Book Fair 2018

Saturday, 22 September 2018 – Presented by: The Queens Hall

The fair offers a showcase for independent publishers and authors from Wales and further afield, who will be in attendance, ready to chat, sign and sell their books. All genres are covered.

There will also be pre-booked private “meet the editor” sessions for aspiring authors (see events for full details) and talks and discussions in the spacious first-floor balcony room (access by stairs and by lift).

There will be a children’s corner again, where children’s authors will be happy to talk and read with a younger audience.

Occupying the ground floor of the Queen’s Hall, along with the book fair, is the Sospan Fach cafe for anyone seeking refreshments and our book fair coincides with the Narberth Food Festival, so you are guaranteed not to go hungry.

I’ll be there next to Carmarthen author Lisa Shambrook

You can find more details about the 40+ authors attending on the book fair’s excellent website, as well as more about the events planned for the day.

Wendy White/Sara Gethin

Review of Not Thomas

if you’d told me that I’d sit, totally rapt, reading a book written in the voice of a five year old child, seeing that dreadful world through his eyes and from his unique perspective – well, I really wouldn’t have believed you… a unique and unforgettable experience. (from my review of Not Thomas)

Jo Verity

Review of A Different River

From the moment Miriam stands by the toilet with a box in her hands, the author had hooked me… I loved the twists and turns of the story, Miriam’s unconventional decision on how to “escape”, her dealing with the various family issues, her relationships both romantic and otherwise – and the fact that what looks like the perfect outcome can still sometimes leave you with the feeling that maybe it isn’t enough. (From my review of A Different River)

Thorne Moore

Review of The Unravelling

Guest post on Shadows – slightly spooky?

Review of Shadows

Extract from Shadows

This was one of those stories with a bit of everything – strong and sympathetic characters, well drawn and sometimes complex emotions and relationships, real shocks and surprises, a real edge of darkness and evil, a wonderful sense of place with superb descriptions, a touch of romance, a cracking story. (From my review of Shadows)

Jessie Cahalin

Guest post – Back to the 70s, You Can’t Go It Alone

Review of You Can’t Go It Alone

The anchor for the characters’ stories is Delfryn itself – vividly drawn, described in the kind of detail that enable the reader to walk its paths and experience its beautiful scenery through the eyes of its characters through the changing seasons… the author has a real feeling for character and place, and it really shines through her work. (From my review of You Can’t Go It Alone)

Alison Layland

Review of Someone Else’s Conflict, with author interview

Far more than its parts, (this book) exposes the waste and futility of fighting for a cause, the tragic effects of a civil war that can’t be won… an excellent read, a real page turner that confounds your initial expectations. (From my review of Someone Else’s Conflict)

Susi Osborne

Introducing Susi Osborne, on publication day for Angelica Stone

Review of Angelica Stone

I’d read the description, and I was expecting “laughter and tears” – but this book was a dark and delicious surprise from beginning to end, and really not what I was expecting at all… refreshingly different, and so very well written. (From my review of Angelica Stone)

Other features and spotlights on Being Anne

Spotlight – Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

Guest post – The House With Old Furniture by Helen Lewis

Spotlight – Remember No More by Jan Newton

Narberth Book Fair 2018

Saturday, 22 September 2018 – Presented by: The Queens Hall

The Book Fair, the inspired brain-child of author Judith Barrow in 2013, began life in St Mary’s Church House, in Tenby as the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival.  It has grown, year by year, ever more successful, with more and more authors eager to participate, so that now we need bigger premises and longer hours and we have found the ideal home in the Queen’s Hall in Narberth, with ample room for book stalls, talks and workshops.

The fair offers a showcase for independent publishers and authors from Wales and further afield, who will be in attendance, ready to chat, sign and sell their books. All genres are covered.

There will also be pre-booked private “meet the editor” sessions for aspiring authors (see events for full details) and talks and discussions in the spacious first-floor balcony room (access by stairs and by lift).

There will be a children’s corner again, where children’s authors will be happy to talk and read with a younger audience.

Occupying the ground floor of the Queen’s Hall, along with the book fair, is the Sospan Fach cafe for anyone seeking refreshments and our book fair coincides with the Narberth Food Festival, so you are guaranteed not to go hungry.

The fair will be open from 9:30am till 4pm. Entry to the fair is FREE, as are the talks. There is a charge for the Meet the Editor sessions, which must be booked in advance.

Contact us:
or write to: Narberth Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

Review “The Price of Freedom” by Alex Domokos with Rita Y. Toews

The Price of Freedom AudiobookMemoirs will always be a personal account of a life and therefor naturally miss out areas of lesser interest. That’s the author’s prerogative.
I missed more insights into the youth of the author, spent in WW2 Hungary. Later on there is far too much detail about his life in Communist Hungary, a truly terrible period in his life and so I can appreciate the unbalance. At the same time, I was beginning to skip forward suring that section,
I would have liked to learn more about the WW2 part and felt the general statements about how Hungarian knew little about what Hitler stood for difficult to comprehend, equally the passage about the homosexual communist party official, whose ‘perversions’ gave the author an advantage.
I found it hard to listen to a female voice narrating a man’s story in the first person, which kept me at a distance to the story often.
All that said, there are great passages and informative and thought-provoking snippets.


Blurb: Alexander Domokos wrote this memoir of his years during and after the Second World War with two purposes in mind. He wanted to allow his daughter a glimpse into his past and to enlighten others about the tragedy of his homeland, Hungary.

“I remember how impatient I was with my father when he tried to talk of his youth. I also swept aside my mother’s attempts to tell me of her tragic childhood. Many years after their deaths I was fortunate to read their letters and notes, only then realizing my irreplaceable loss: their view of the world at the turn of the century. Most of their experiences are lost to me forever. Often it is only after loss that we realize value. I would like to spare my daughter that irreplaceable loss.”

Domokos believes that Hungary’s sufferings were due in large part to the unjust peace settlements after the First World War.

“As Hungarians, we were driven into the arms of Hitler by the West’s indifference to our legitimate grievances….We had witnessed horrible atrocities committed by the Communists in 1919 after the First World War. Drifting into an alliance with Germany appeared at that time to be the lesser evil.”

Even after the Second World War, Hungary underwent more suffering.

“In 1945, while the West was basking in the glory of victory, our abandoned country began a new struggle for survival. My family’s hardship was not an exception but rather the norm in that forsaken part of Europe. For us, 1945 was not the end of the war but the beginning of a new kind of struggle.”

Even though the West was the victor in the Second World War, Dokomos is asking that the people of the West open their hearts and look more deeply into the effects of the war. He hopes to challenge the victor’s one-sided view in seeing themselves as the sole protector of righteousness.

Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

4327066“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky has been on my shelves for a long time, bought because of the cute title but it never seemed the right time to open it since then.
The premise of a coming-of-age story with a geeky boy who learns from some colourful other characters seemed just too worn and so I had admittedly not the greatest expectations.
On holiday I finally got to it and got sucked into it pretty quickly. While the book has indeed little to offer in terms of innovation, its characters carry it off easily long past the average marker on my scale. The author engaged me with his charming portrayal of Charlie and his conflicted love life, his love for literature and his oddball friends: teachers, gays, outcasts and even some regular ones.
The narrative voice is likeable immediately and even the fact that I waited for a long time to figure out where the book was going, it never occurred to me to put it down.
Warm , affecting and affectionate, quirky in right measures and thoughtful this has stayed with me for some time after. Just lovely.

In 2012 this was made into a movie with Chbosky as director.

Blurb: The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

He is the recipient of the Abraham Polonsky Screenwriting Award for his screenplay Everything Divided as well as a participant in the Sundance Institute’s filmmakers’ lab for his current project, Fingernails and Smooth Skin. Chbosky lives in New York.

For more information, please see…