Sunday 27 October 2019

Book recommendations. Six Great Stories - Six Fine Authors

I love books! Do you?

I have the pleasure of meeting many fine authors on the Scribbler and reading their stories. I get tremendous enjoyment from sharing them with you.

This week, I want to tell you about six more that should be on any readers list. I'm hoping to make this a regular feature on the Scribbler every couple of months. 

The first six were featured here -  September, 2018

The next six were highlighted here - June, 2019

Check them out.

#1 - The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino.

I discovered this book online and was captivated by the excellent cover. I was not disappointed by this story. An excellent debut fiction novel by Dagnino. This is one I'll read many times. 

When a car-jacking in Johannesburg leads to the death of her colleague and lover, Zoe du Plessis, a palaeontologist of Afrikaner origin, is suddenly confronted with her family’s secret, wrapped in an old Xhosa’s curse. As she heads for the Kalahari Desert in search of early human fossils, Zoe embarks on an inner journey into the sense of guilt haunting her people. Meaningful encounters with an aged Bushman, a legendary but troubled writer author and her ancestors’ diaries will reshape her sense of identity. (Source: Goodreads)

Arianna was a guest on the Scribbler with a 4Q Interview and an excerpt from her novel. Go HERE

#2 True Identity by Gisele Bourgeois.

I found out about this novel online as well and knew it was a story I wanted to read. This is a book you can't put down. Intelligent, well written and a joy to read.

Adrienne Blanchard can’t believe what she is seeing through a café window in Amsterdam. It’s Michel, a boy from home who disappeared twenty years ago. She knows the story of why he left without a trace and now she must bring him home. Compassionate, confident, and bold, she will finish what her father started, regardless of the consequences.
Michel Bourgeois is a dreamer and a loner who has never had much of a chance in life. But when the time comes to make a decision, he is not passive. He runs desperately for his freedom.
Xavier Aramburu is a brilliant and devastatingly handsome Basque millionaire. All is privilege. Everything is easy. However, his name and history are not acceptable to some and he is an outcast in his own country. Despite his success and wealth, his life is disconnected and lonely.

Set in the 1980’s in such diametrically opposed places as New Brunswick, Canada, and Bilbao, Spain, True Identity is an intense love story within a tale of exile and return. Rich in cultural and historical anecdote, this entertaining novel offers a glimpse of lives defined by the languages and landscapes of childhood. (Source: )

Read Gisele's 4Q Interview and an excerpt from her novel when she was a guest on the Scribbler. GO HERE

#3 Sunflowers Under Fire by Diana Stevan

Another great novel from this talented author. Based on stories from her ancestors, Stevan brings the pain and sorrow and endurance of the First World War through the eyes of her maternal grandmother. An exceptional story.

In 1915, Lukia Mazurets, a Ukrainian farmwife, delivers her eighth child while her husband’s in the Tsar’s army. Soon after, she and her children are forced to flee the invading Germans.
Over the next fourteen years, Lukia uses her wits and faith to survive life in a refugee camp, a typhus epidemic, the Bolshevik revolution and one daughter’s forbidden love. In this family saga, love and loss are bound together by a country always at war.
Based on her grandmother’s life, Diana Stevan captures the voices of those who had little say in a country that is still being fought over. (Source: )

Diana has been a guest twice on the Scribbler. A charming and interesting lady. Read a 4Q Interview and an excerpt from Sunflowers Under Fire  GO HERE
Her first visit GO HERE

#4. Last Summer's Evil by MJ LaBeff

I met MJ online through a mutual author friend. A friendly and amusing author, she writes captivating thrillers and this one will keep you up turning the pages. She is a tremendous supporter for other authors.

A fearful city lies in wait. Summer is here. The solstice is near. Each time the serial killer strikes there are two more victims. One woman has already disappeared. It’s only a matter of time before another woman is murdered.
Homicide Detective Rachel Hood, a psychic empath, feels every ounce of a victim’s pain but is powerless to save her.
Psychic FBI Agent Nick Draven is a skilled profiler, specializing in occult crimes. Together, they must race against the clock to capture the psychopath terrorizing Snug Harbor, Ohio. Only one victim has escaped, but she can’t ID her attacker. What they do know is the sick signature the killer leaves behind. A handmade ragdoll crafted out of the previous victim’s clothes is found in the clutches of the deceased women.
Rachel’s obsession with the case deepens, and she devises a rogue plan to outsmart the killer. The risky plot puts her life in jeopardy. The serial killer has had years to master the crime. Nick only has hours to track down the killer and rescue Rachel before she dies in a ritualistic sacrifice at the hand of a knife wielding, blood thirsty murderer. (Source: )

MJ has been a guest on the Scribbler as well. Read her 4Q Interview and read an excerpt. GO HERE

#5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Photo Credit : Author's website.

I discovered this book on Goodreads and knew instantly it was a story I wanted to read. I purchased it online and it's brilliant. I've recently purchased her newest novel - Cilka's Journey - and can't wait to read it.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions. (Source: )

#6 Rise by Cara Brookins.

I picked up one of Cara Brookin's novels several years ago and enjoyed her storytelling. Since then I've read other novels by her and was anxiously awaiting this memoir she was working on. A brave lady tells the tale of escaping an abusive relationship and rebuilding a family - by building their own house. I highly recommend this novel. Word has it that it will soon be a major motion picture. Congratulations Cara.

After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.
Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.
It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.
This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.

Cara has been one of the Scribbler's most popular guests. A 4Q Interview.  GO HERE

I hope that you'll check out these great authors. I trust you will enjoy their stories.

 Thanks for visiting and don't forget to leave a comment. 

By the way, Check this story out too!

Shattered Figurine by Allan Hudson.

Check it out HERE

Saturday 19 October 2019

Seumas Gallacher of Bahrain.

Strangely I’m Still Here.

Seumas Gallacher – a gentlemanly acquaintance, originally from Scotland, living in Bahrain, a master story teller – has written an autobiography. 

Because we all like him so much, we all want to share the news. This is Mr Gallacher’s second visit to the Scribbler. If you missed the first one, please go HERE, otherwise read on as he tells about it.

A Journey to myself – writing my autobiography

   For authors, the old maxim is often quoted, ‘Write about what you know.’

   I’ve been at this writing game properly for over a decade now, with a back list of five crime thrillers, a book of my poetry, a self-help marketing and promotional guide for authors, and almost 2,000 blog posts. Add to that a catalogue of half-a-dozen ghostwriting assignments for other people’s ‘autobiographies’, and it’s of little wonder that the thought occurred to put my own life story and experiences to print. ‘Write about what you know.’

  What happened next was a sometime bewildering, sometime painful, sometime joyful, but always exhilarating, writing trip of discovery. I now understand more clearly than ever before just how much I am truly an amalgam of everything, everybody and everywhere with which and with whom I have ever been associated.

   Were there regrets? Of course. Probably far too many to register. I doubt if more than a handful of people on this planet have led a flawless, blameless existence. But I do know that every single incident and experience, good, bad and indifferent, was necessary to bring me to this moment in my life. And I would not seek to change one second of it.

   It is amazing how memories bring back not only the plain telling of the story, but for me, it also recalled the feelings and emotions that I had in most of them. I felt them again, and again, and again, some with laughter, but also many of them attended with a quiet tear.

   I believe, at this age, finally, I am aware of who and what I am as a person. I like the man I see in the mirror each morning, although it was not always thus. I have acquired a tolerance of myself and my own shortcomings, but more importantly, I have learned to ‘live and let live’ in relation to others whom I meet day to day.

   What surprises me, is that having published the book just a few weeks ago, I find that I am remembering many other things which could have been included in the memoir. I will resist the temptation to edit online the Amazon Kindle version, which is easy to do, on the same premise that once I finish writing my novels, I leave them finished.

   To all my author friends and even those who have not yet caught the writing addiction, you may want to consider a similar project. It is a wondrous journey to yourself.

Here’s the book blurb:

Fact is often more incredible than fiction. 

Seumas Gallacher has survived long enough to savour places, characters and events for more than forty years in the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.

He started life in Scotland, travelled far and wide as a wannabe Trainee Master of the Universe, but the Universe had other plans for him.

From a career in banking, he escaped to become a corporate trouble-shooter.

He discovered the joy and torture of becoming a wordsmith, writing five best-selling crime novels, a book of poetry, and being hyper-active on social media.

‘Strangely, I’m Still Here’ is his story.

Amazon Kindle universal link:

Best of luck Seumas. 

Sunday 13 October 2019

Guest Author Monique Marie Thebeau of Riverview, NB


Monique has recently published her debut novel – In the Dark of Winter – a thriller I’m looking forward to reading. I met her through a mutual friend that is also an author. She has graciously agreed to be our guest this week and participate in a 4Q Interview, as well as sharing an excerpt from her exciting novel.

I was born and raised in Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick, in the 1950s, the youngest of nine children.  

 After graduating High School, I earned a two-year “medical stenographer” diploma and worked as a secretary for several years. But being someone who thrives on challenges with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, I quit my job, enrolled at the Université de Moncton and came out four years later with a Translation degree. Although having written thousands of pages as a Translator over the years, I always craved the imaginative part of writing and find it both pleasurable and therapeutic.

When I look back at my journals, I find poems, an autobiography and short stories, in either English or French, written long-hand and never published. This book, however, was different. I wanted to get it out to market and check it off my bucket list. As it turns out, In the Dark of Winter was the biggest challenge of my life and, while taking a life of its own at 63,000 words, has had the uncanny power to teach me about character development, settings, criminology, police investigations, the justice system and my understanding of the English language.

4Q: It’s a wonderful feeling to finally have a completed novel after all the hard work involved in getting it to the public. Tell us about In the Dark of Winter.

MT: In the Dark of Winter is a mystery/thriller that opens at a pig roast bash in the back countryside of Albert County. There, we find Ben Walsh, our protagonist, who falls prey to a local gang after witnessing a rape at the party. Ben is given two choices: be framed for murder, or work for the thugs responsible.

A year later, Ben is still at the gang’s mercy and, during a major snowstorm, lineman Jack Thibodeau stumbles upon Ben’s property and is taken hostage.  After his release, a distraught Jack hires private investigator Chuck Hanley to find the culprit.

Hanley, a retired cop, has it made. Spousal spying, insurance fraud. But as Hanley begins to make a connection between Ben and Jack, more sinister characters emerge and soon the talk of the town goes from a record snowfall to a record body-count. A manhunt ensues, one that rattles the sleepy villages of Albert County for weeks. 

4Q: What inspired this story Monique? What made you want to write a thriller?

Photo Credit: Shweta Briijpuria - author

MT: My love for the genre, of course, and the fact that I have lived, like many of us, through countless winter storms and the reign of terror of Allan Legere. It seemed only natural to re-imagine those in a mystery setting with plenty of left turns, unforgettable characters and an ongoing cat and mouse chase between the law and the outlaws.   

Writing a thriller was a no-brainer since I have always loved to curl up to a good mystery or psychological thriller. 

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

MT: I remember a time when I was about eight or nine years old, sneaking up on my father’s lap in his Lazy-Boy chair, staring at the horrific pictures of corpses depicted on the pages of the Allo Police* that he was holding in his hands. On more than one occasion, I recall my mother scolding my Dad for letting me close to those forbidden pages and reading such trash in the first place. Seeing blood never startled me. In fact, those early memories have fueled my passion for a good mystery. My detective ears perk up when I hear the words “blood splatter” and my heart beats faster upon reading of a bloody footprint.

* A weekly tabloid known as Quebec’s unofficial gazette of the criminal world.

4Q: You belong to a writer’s group. Please tell us about that and the benefits you are enjoying.

MT: I am a proud member of the YWCA’s Moncton Women’s Writing Group. I joined the group in 2017 as an aspiring author looking for a place to share my writings. Over time, the Y Writes has evolved from simply being a non-judgmental place for members to share their creative stories to becoming an amazing network of support and resources in the field of writing. For me, it’s been a central information point on varied writing subjects from upcoming writings awards to local writing events. 


4Q: Where is your favorite spot to write? Where do you feel most creative?

MT: I definitely love to write on my laptop in my office. But when I’m out, I will write anywhere. On the shore, in the park, on the deck, and in my car, either stuck in traffic or in a parking lot. I keep a notebook and pen on me at all times. A smell, a touch or a memory is sometimes all that it takes for me to stop on the side of the road to jot it down and come back to it later.

4Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

MT: I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed. And, I’d love to leave you with this quote by Octavia E. Butler “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

An Excerpt from In the Dark of Winter.

In a field next to an abandoned farmhouse, a salt-and-beer-seasoned ninety-pound hog, its flesh spitting and crackling, rotated over an open fire. Word of mouth had brought this crowd together, a no-frill yearly event in the foothills of Blossom Mountain, twenty kilometres south of Moncton. No signage existed and, year after year, the site was only found by come-by-chance, or through the grapevine. This year was no different. The crowd, eager to sink their teeth into the juicy, roast pig, huddled around the farmhouse, whose sagging roof begged for a new spine.

Early in the evening, Ben Walsh and his wife Maryel drove straight to the party by way of four-wheeler, using backroads and trails. They parked the ATV on Salem Road, behind a thick line of white pines across from the farm. Ben unlatched the tent and sleeping bags from the back of the quad and pitched the tent up, throwing the sleeping bags in it.  Then, weighed down by lawn chairs and cooler, they crossed the road and reached the back of the farmhouse.

Ben paused for a moment and stood tall, gazing out at the crowd. The field teemed with hundreds of partiers, their tents, coolers and boom boxes. A roar of laughter and music echoed back as a large wave of new arrivals flooded the pasture. Farther down the field, speakers, resting on mini stages in the sprawling farmland, blared “Magic Bus” by The Who. The drums’ rhythm reverberated through his body, pulling him in. He grabbed Maryel’s hand and they moved downhill, where the music thumped harder.

For the next hour they moved through the crowd, connecting with old friends, making new ones. And although Maryel’s brother, Mike, had insisted on them going to the party, they saw no sign of him.

As the sun set, Ben and Maryel followed a flock of people through a narrow path, crisscrossed with tree roots, that opened up to a gravel pit in the back of the property, closer to a bonfire whose blaze raged against the night. Dozens of people, eyes glowing, sat around the fire, captivated by the flames and its flurry of sparks. The grass was littered with plastic cups and paper plates. In the distance, they heard the beat of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.”

Ben took Maryel’s shoulder and pointed. There was Mike, the only one standing, intoxicated and struggling to keep his balance. The crowd cheered him on as he jumped near the blaze, one minute throwing handfuls of flame-colorant packets, and the next, armloads of deadwood. Mike waved his hands in the air to the beat of “Here for the Party” as if a maestro conducting a Mozart sonata. Girls joined him on the pretend rock stage as the fire strengthened, coughed out flames of blues, green, and hot pink. The inferno intensified, the dancers backed off and the circle of chairs widened.

Ben, nodding to the music, picked a beer can from the cooler. He cracked it open and pushed it down into the mesh cup-holder in Maryel’s chair. He fixed himself a Rum and Coke and watched as Mike, normally shy, continued to dance. Ben wished he had a camcorder to embarrass him later.

With the revelers burning through their booze and drugs, straggling and stumbling near the fire, Ben was happy they’d pitched their tent away from the redneck ball. He was cautious. It was their anniversary, after all. Ten years. Ten challenging years parenting Alec, a problem child, but they had stuck together through it all. This party was just what he and Maryel needed to mark the milestone and unwind. Ben winked at Maryel. Her lips quirked at the corners and she shook her head, eyes scanning his chest. She always got a kick out of the T-shirts he wore. Tonight, the white letters “If found…Please return to the pub” popped against the black fabric. His long, jet-black hair, tied at the nape of his neck, showed his strong jaw.

Party abandoned and holding hands, they walked past the farmhouse and across Salem Road, retiring to the tent. They undressed quickly and he climbed on top, jostling a bit until he was inside her. She gripped him harder, bracing for climax. He felt her nails on the top of his back go deep; Maryel moaned, shuddered.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Monique. Wishing you all the best in your writing journey.

For all you wonderful readers wanting more information on Monique and her novel, please follow these links:



Amazon: In the Dark of Winter, available in paperback or Kindle.

By all means, feel free to leave a comment.