The River by Starlight by Ellen Notbohm

Every well-wrought sentence in The River by Starlight is as beautiful as the Henry David Thoreau inspired title. Author Ellen Notbohm has penned a breathlessly epic, masterful story set in early 1900’s Montana in language so lyrically elevated you’ll want to commit much of it to memory but will have to get back to it later—you’ll be too busy turning the pages.
The River by Starlight is a starkly humanistic story. It’s an historical novel intimately and engagingly written in present tense concerning the sweeping life story of dark-haired and diminutive Annie Rushton, whose young marriage is permanently marred by what might be the time’s inchoate perceptions of post-partum depression. There are repercussions to Annie’s malady that propel her to leave everything behind in her home state of Iowa and hop a train to join her bachelor brother in the wilds of homesteading Montana, where she risks starting a new life. Shouldering her heartbreak, Annie applies her headstrong, fierce independence to helping her brother prosper, so when charismatic businessman Adam Fielding, a colleague of her brother’s, enters her life, theirs is a relationship forged on mutual ambition, but as the years wear on, they become two desperate souls unwittingly tossed by the unpredictable storms of life.
Life’s choices come into play, in The River by Starlight. Though Annie and Adam begin with hope and the best intentions, there is only so much one can weather in hope’s defeat by repetitious wounds that won’t heal. Through the years, communication errors and individual judgement calls are made that usher in divergent aims, and all the while is the roiling concern of Annie’s mercurial sanity.
Resiliency, perseverance, love of one’s children, and where to appropriately place one’s pledge are threads that weave the tapestry of this thoroughly realized story, whose themes, I believe, are timeless and universal.
The River by Starlight is a book for the ages. In my mind, it stands with the classics. The novel’s voice and three-part pacing are seamlessly crafted; its tone and mood are deep and oftentimes heart wrenching, so much so that the reader can’t help but be lured by emotional investment in characters so viscerally drawn they come to life on the pages.
The River by Starlight is for those discerning readers who demand excellence in language, craft, and story. It is a plausible, finely researched, resonant book ultimately about the taming of the spirit, set in tumultuous, untamed times.


Colorado Mandala by Brian Francis Heffron: Review


22964699A gorgeous, fully realized, generously crafted story on male friendship and the deep wounds motivating main character, Michael, as told through the perspective of his intimately effected best friend and business partner, Paul.
Michael is a Vietnam war vet, with a festering secret underscoring his high-living, swaggering behavior. He is a man’s man to his core: streetwise and wary, cocksure and battle-scarred with his own code of honor. It is post-war 1970’s Manitou Springs, Colorado, and author Brain Francis Heffron captivates the reader with such panoramic descriptions of the Pike’s Peak area at such a finely-tuned altitude as to cast the environment as sacred, while the reader all but breathes the clear mountain air.
The title of this book is inspired by Sarah, the wispy and vulnerable single mother at the center of a lover’s triangle, who paints batik images on silk and twists her long flaxen hair in a bun. Michael is protective of Sarah from an unfolding hidden agenda. Paul struggles with the duality of his building feelings for Sarah and loyalty to Michael. In the expert hands of writer Heffron, each character plays off the others with such reasonable impetus, Colorado Mandala reads like a treatise in deep-seated psychological motivation.
This book is astoundingly action-packed and character-driven. It takes the reader into dark caves and sets them in the gambling center of a mountain party’s cockfight. It is seamlessly paced and weaves minute visual images with poetically descriptive narratives and uncommon use of language. I understand Mr. Heffron is a poet, and it shows. There isn’t a weak sentence in the engaging Colorado Mandala, and I held my breath at its end, during one of the best literary denouements I’ve ever read. Colorado Mandala is the very definition of a page-turner. It will make you a fan of author Brian Francis Heffron, and is the kind of book you’ll recommend to your friends.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck #BookReview – The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey reviewed (2017) by Claire Fullerton

Slainte to Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord for going into my WordPress archives and sending this review around. I am a huge fan of the author, Lisa Carey! This seems a full-circle of authors supporting authors, with Sally Cronin front and center 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

For the last post in this series from the archives of author Claire Fullerton, I have selected one of her book reviews. Claire is prolific reviewer and always brings out the best in both book and author…

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey reviewed (2017) by Claire Fullerton

Because I once lived on the western coast of Ireland, and because author Lisa Cary moved to the island of Inisbofin, off Ireland’s west coast to research her first book, I’ve been following her career for many years. I’ve loved each of her four Irish themed novels, and eagerly awaited the February 7th release of her latest, The Stolen Child. It is a story much like Ireland herself: deceptive in its riddled nuances, more than the sum of its parts.

The soul of the story creeps up on you. It takes patience and willingness to allow the magic to take hold…

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Book Review: Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

In Saints in Limbo, author River Jordan’s immediate establishment of the incredible as credible serves as the foundation of this wonderfully unique novel, which takes nostalgia and wishful thinking and makes it the undercurrent of a now plausible story involving an old woman in possession of a supernaturally empowered rock that enables her to revisit her past. Saints in Limbo transcends a neat, paranormal story by gifting the reader with a cast of characters imbued with nuanced layers: they have character defects, unrealized dreams, and unfulfilled potential even as they seek a meaningful life. An enthralling page-turner written in poetic language, I found this riveting book an insightful commentary on the power of perception and the importance of longing and connection. I recommend this book to those who love to read literary fiction tinged with an intelligent use of the uncanny. Rich in setting, character, and prose, Saints in Limbo will make every reader a fan of the author River Jordan.


Saints in Limbo Book Description:

Ever since her husband, Joe, died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her rural home outside Echo, Florida.

Then one day a stranger appears at her door. Without knowing why, the agoraphobic widow welcomes him into her kitchen for coffee while she tells him stories of how life used to be, before her purposes were “all dried up.” Just before disappearing as suddenly as he came, the man presents Velma with a special gift, one that allows her to literally step back into the past through her own memories to a place where Joe still lives and the beginning is closer than the end.

While Velma is consumed with the man’s gift, her son Rudy is also being presented with a challenge to his self-centered beer drinking, skirt chasing ways, while his memories unravel like the webs that haunt him.

winds her way to Echo, determined to unravel the mysteries her dead mother left behind. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma finds herself unmoored from the fears of the past and feeling her way toward freedom.

This lyrical, Southern novel weaves mystical elements with tangible touches of God’s redemptive grace to reveal a pattern of irresistible hope

Look into River Jordan at:

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – #Ireland – The Thing about Galway (2016) by Claire Fullerton

Slainte to Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This is the third post from the archives of author Claire Fullerton, and I have selected another of her pieces on life in Ireland as I am sure you will enjoy as much as I do

The Thing about Galway (2016) by Claire Fullerton

The Thing about Galway

Even on the best of days, when the weather is temperate and the sky soft and cloudless, Galway City has a worn, secondhand feel to it: an historic, pensive, erudite quality everywhere you roam down its serpentine streets. But there’s also an energetic undercurrent to Galway that seems to thrive on the idea of opposites, which lends the atmosphere a certain air of unpredictability. In many ways, Galway seems like a lively college town, bordered on one side by the dark gray patina of Galway Cathedral, and the ever turbulent River Corrib on the other, which flows straight to Galway Bay on its way through…

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #Potluck – Notes on Pat Conroy’s 70th Birthday Celebration in Beaufort, South Carolina (2015) by Claire Fullerton

Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord ( are you following her?) has reposted this today, and I am SO grateful! Pat Conroy has always been my favorite writer and seeing this reignites my unending admiration for the author who wrote my favorite novel, The Prince of Tides. Thank you, Sally Cronin!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This is the second post from the archives of Claire Fullerton, and this week a birthday celebration for renowned author Pat Conroy. An event over several days that clearly was a highlight for Claire.

Notes on Pat Conroy’s 70th Birthday Celebration in Beaufort, South Carolina (2015)  by Claire Fullerton

Notes on Pat Conroy’s 70th Birthday Celebration in Beaufort, South Carolina

It’s a long way from Southern California to Beaufort, South Carolina, but there was only one way to attend my favorite author’s 70th birthday celebration. In my mind, Pat Conroy is the king of American literary letters; his gift of lyrical language and sense of place is unparalleled, and I’d have rather flown across the country to meet him than anyone else in the world. Oh, I hemmed and hawed and weighed and measured to exhaustive degrees before I remembered life is short and I should grab onto its once in a lifetime opportunities with both fists. So I booked my…

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Smorgasbord Posts from your Archives – #PotLuck – On an Irish Bus (2015) by Claire Fullerton.

Slainte to Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord! I hope everyone is following Smorgasbord on Word[ress 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This is the first post from the archives of author Claire Fullerton whose book Dancing to an Irish Reel is set in Ireland, where she has family links… In Ireland we do things a little differently when it comes to strangers. We welcome them and engage with them. Everyone has a story to tell and being a land of storytellers, the more that are told the merrier. In this post Claire shares a delightful example of this.

On an Irish Bus

On an Irish Bus (2015) by Claire Fullerton.

He would have stood out anywhere, and standing in front of the entrance to a boutique hotel in Spiddal, wielding a black walking cane with an ivory handle two paces before made him glaringly incongruous to everything I’d come to know about the western coast of Ireland. He wore a three piece suit on his gentle frame: black, with gray stripes the width of angel’s…

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