Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 23rd to 29th February 2020 – Clothes made out of Tents – Foods beginning with ‘D’ and Younger than Springtime…am I…

Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

Between the weather and the coronavirus epidemic…. and who is going to pay the millions of dollars security bill for Prince Harry and Meghan, the news has not been uplifting this week. However, there is one news network, determined to only share inspiring and motivational stories such as this one.

Eco-Activist Hits Fashion Week Catwalk With Clothing Made Out of Abandoned Tents Collected From Music Festivals

This eco-warrior entrepreneur is making clothes from abandoned tents collected from music festivals—and the line debuted this month on the London Fashion Week catwalk.

24-year-old James Marshall spent last summer scouring campsites and collecting abandoned tents following the Eden Festival in the Scottish Borders and Kendal Calling in the Lake District.

With the help of his friends and family, he amassed around 300 tents which were then turned into trendy bucket hats, bumbags, and jackets by fashion designer Imogen Evans.

Some of James Marshall’s designs at London Fashion Week. SWNS.

Read the rest of this story and discover more good news: Eco Activist makes fashion week clothing out of tents – The Good News Network

On that note… time to get on with the week’s posts, and as always my thanks to guests who make such an amazing contribution to the week.

Carol Taylor A-Z – Dates, Dragon Fruit, Durian and Dirty Rice

Frank Prem shares his twenty year journey to achieve his publishing dream

This week ‘Younger than Springtime’ from South Pacific…

South Pacific – Younger than Springtime and Bali Hai

Two more stories from the collection.

Owen – Face to Face

Patrick – Love in a Time of War

Love Poetry – Walk Away Silver Heart by Frank Prem

 Annika Perry with her review for the wonderful Elisabeth’s Lists by Lulah Ellender.

Book Review Elisabeth’s Lists by Annika Perry

Traffic incident with Marian Longenecker Beaman

Jennie Fitzkee with the wonderful true story of a little girl and her family.

The Story of Romana by Jennie Fitzkee

Author and finance expert Sharon Marchisello shares tips on how to make sure you get the best value for money when travelling.

Foreign Currency with Sharon Marchisello

One Writer’s Journey 1 Star Reviews by Judy Penz Sheluk

Grinders by C.S. Boyack

Magic – Mr. Sagittarius by M.J. Mallon

Poetry – Inner Rumblings by Joyce Murphy

Format Your Picture Book Paperback for Amazon by Jo Robinson

Supernatural Marcia Meara, Romance Teagan Geneviene, Post Apocalyptic Sandra J. Jackson

Poetry Miriam Hurdle, British History Mike Biles, Fantasy Vashti Quiroz Vega

Thriller Mark Bierman, Adventure Audrey Driscoll, Short Stories Anne Goodwin

Angels Jan Sikes, Review Olga Nunez Miret, Mystery Mae clair

Recycling Carol Taylor, Chocolate Eat Dessert First, Poetry Colleen Chesebro

Afghanistan Mary Smith, Legends Andrew Joyce, Patience Geoff Le Pard

Short Story Beetley Pete, Medieval History Nicholas Rossis, Author Promotion Susan Toy

A study into why the immune system of bats has caused such a rapid mutation, better breast screen monitoring and the long term side effects of the Keto diet.

Bats and Coronavirus, Breast Cancer, Keto Diet

More funnies from D. G. Kaye and some new material from Sally

More funnies from D. G. Kaye and some new material from Sally

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you will join me again next week … thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – Walk away silver heart: Poetry inspired by the Amy Lowell poem ‘Madonna of the Evening Flowers’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 1) by Frank Prem

Delighted to review the latest release of poet Frank Prem  – Walk away silver heart: Poetry inspired by the Amy Lowell poem ‘Madonna of the Evening Flowers’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 1)

About the collection

All day long I have been working
Now I am tired.
I call: “Where are you?”
But there is only the oak tree rustling in the wind . . .
from Madonna of the Evening Flowers

Drawing on the phrasing of the early 20th Century Amy Lowell poem Madonna of the Evening Flowers (above) Frank Prem has produced a collection of personal and interpersonal love poems written, as always, in the unique style that allows every reader to relate.

Prem’s interpretations breathe new life into contemporary love poetry and utilise Lowell’s original phrases to inspire a tender immediacy and warmth of response as in the eponymous poem:

silver heart
I look at you

see myself the way
I should have been

but something pure
was lost
along the way
from walk away (silver heart)

Walk Away Silver Heart is the first of three collections that together comprise A Love Poetry Trilogy, with each revisiting outstanding work by stellar poets of the past to produce vibrant new collections. The second collection, a kiss for the worthy, draws on Walt Whitman’s classic work Leaves of Grass, while the third, rescue and redemption, derives from T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

This is a new kind of poetry that tells stories, draws pictures and elicits emotional responses from readers. Just as the best poetry should.

My review for the collection February 29th 2020

I am a fan of Frank Prem’s work and his ability to tell a story in a unique way, whether it is about growing up in a small town,  the savagery of wildfires that decimate communities and the environment around them, or the desolation of a mental asylum.

Walk away silver heart has the same flow and beauty as his other work, but it has a gentleness and pace that is very different.

It is not the love poetry of the very young, but has a maturity that comes when two people are in a long term relationship and look beyond that first rush of new love. The romance is in the small everyday details about actions and words that are missed when one of you is gone. Be it for a day, a month or forever. The passion is in the the small gestures of kindness and a touch of a hand. The love is in the memories of hardships and sorrows, shared and survived because of the bond two people have forged.

The concept of the trilogy is very interesting and whilst the original poem by Amy Lowell is stunning, it is a wonderful experience to see lines taken and elaborated upon to create a new poem that takes that thought further.

It is a collection to be savoured and not rushed through. And there were many lines that stood out for me as someone who has been married for forty years. For those who are just embarking on a relationship, it offers the promise of what is to come if you keep the magic alive.

I am sure that you will enjoy.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Frank Prem

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: Goodreads

About Frank Prem

I’ve been a storytelling poet for about forty years. Longer in fact, as I remember the first poem I wrote while at secondary school was about 150 – 200 words long and was accepted in lieu of a 500 word essay. I think that may have been the start.

I love to read my work to a live audience, and have audio recorded some recent recordings and popped them on my author page. I have also done some studio- recorded work under the direction and accompaniment of my wife Leanne Murphy that can be listened to there. These poems are on mythological themes and the accompaniment by Leanne makes them a little bit extraordinary.

By profession, I am a psychiatric nurse and have worked across most facets of public psychiatry and the mental health/mental illness spectrum. My experiences and reflections on what I have seen and done are the subject of a forthcoming memoir – scheduled for late 2019, or perhaps more likely, 2020.

I’ve been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, but for a long time I haven’t sought much publication. The whims of editors are a little too capricious and unknowable, so I have preferred to hone my craft and self-publish on my poetry blogs

Leanne and I reside in the beautiful township of Beechworth in the North-East of Victoria (Australia).

Connect to Frank

Website: Frank Prem
Website Audio: Frank Prem Audio
Seventeen Syllable Poetry: Seventeen Syllable Poetry WordPress
Blog: Frank Prem WordPress
Facebook: Frank Prem Author

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed my review for Frank Prem’s latest collection.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Patrick – Love in a Time of War by Sally Cronin

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Patrick – Love in a Time of War

The first time Patrick Walsh saw her, was as he wended his way slowly down the hill between the slow moving trucks on his motorbike. The road was lined with women and old men who were handing out hastily cut sandwiches and mugs of tea to the men in the trucks, whose outstretched hands gratefully received these simple acts of kindness. It was clear from the their faces that they found the peaceful summer skies overhead, and clamour of women’s voices, a much needed reminder of home and safety.

He knew where they had come from, as for the last six days he had been flying over them as they had scrambled into small boats to be ferried out to the larger naval vessels waiting to take them to safety. He and his squadron had been a part of the massive air defence operation over the coast of Northern France. Thousands of soldiers had been pouring off the beaches having gathered over the last few days from the surrounding countryside; exposed and being attacked by superior German forces.

On the last run today his spitfire had received a direct hit to the cockpit from a persistent Messerschmitt Me 109; luckily missing his head by inches apart from a cut over his eye, earning him a few hours respite. His plane would be ready to fly first thing in the morning. The ground crews at all fighter squadrons were working around the clock to get pilots back in the air until the evacuation from the French coast was complete.

As he carefully maneuvered between the trucks he responded to the shouts from the men above him with a small wave. He knew that their good natured jibes were aimed at his uniform and the wings that it displayed, and that their friendly ribbing was their way of showing gratitude. He decided that it would be easier to wait until the convoy had passed to continue into the village square. He dismounted, standing by the hedge to watch the villagers as they persisted in their need to comfort these dispirited men with tea and offerings of food.

She stood out from the crowd of women. Tall with long red hair tied back with an emerald green ribbon, she was dressed in overalls and wore heavy boots. She had a natural elegance as she darted between an older woman, holding a tea tray piled with jam sandwiches, and the trucks. Despite the men’s exhaustion, eager hands grasped the food, winking and flirting with the prettiest thing they had seen for a long while.

Patrick leaned back against the saddle of his bike and let himself enjoy this brief moment of humanity that was so rare today. He had been flying since the first weeks of the war and his squadron had suffered huge losses; particularly in the last few weeks as they had provided air cover for the retreating British forces.

They had been warned that far worse was to come as the enemy amassed both fighters and bombers for an all-out offensive on the country. Having already lost many friends, Patrick knew that it was only a matter of time before he became a statistic.

Some of his fellow pilots and aircrew decided that they would live as hard as they fought. There were plenty of pretty girls around the station that were delighted to dance the night away and bring some laughter and sometimes love into the young men’s lives. He had seen the results of these whirlwind romances at the Saturday night dance in the village hall. As the airmen arrived in an ever changing group of young men, expectant faces would be watching the door and it was not unusual to see a girl being led away in tears by her friends.

Patrick loved to dance but gently refused the invitations to take to the floor and over the last few months he had become regarded as something of a misery. His friends gave up on their attempts to persuade him that he should live for the moment, and with a wry smile he listened to the chat up lines that were guaranteed to pull the heartstrings of a pretty girl.

But now as he watched the red head flying back and forth and smiling up at the men in the trucks, he felt an overwhelming urge to hold her in his arms and waltz around a dance floor. He shook his head and reminded himself that it would only lead to heartbreak for her, and he couldn’t bear the thought of those beautiful green eyes filling with tears.

An hour later the last truck in the convoy disappeared through the village square and out of sight. There would be more coming through from the coast, and Patrick watched as the crowd of villagers gathered up their cups and trays and disappeared back into their homes. They would prepare more from their meagre rations for the next wave of returning soldiers and be waiting for them by the roadside. He remained by the hedge until the red headed girl had linked arms with her mother and entered her house before riding down to the square.

‘Patrick, are you awake my friend?’ The voice of his Polish friend Jakub intruded into his daydream about dancing with his stunning red head.

‘Just about, do you want to go to the Black Swan for a beer? He sat up and rested his head in his hands and tried to bring his mind back to reality.

He looked around the Nissen hut that was their home, taking in the four empty cots that waited for the new arrivals. They would be mostly teenagers with only a few hours flying solo, and none of them in combat. He was only twenty-four, but he felt like an old man compared to the fresh faced and eager boys that would come through that door tomorrow.

It was now August and the skies were filled with formations of enemy bombers most nights. His plane was grounded again having the undercarriage repaired after a problem on his last landing. His mechanic said he had the ‘luck of the Irish’. Patrick was well aware that he was now one of only a handful of pilots remaining from the original group a year ago; he knew that his luck was bound to run out sooner or later.

There was just one thing that he needed tonight, and that was the sight of Red, and she would be helping out her dad behind the bar at the Black Swan.

Two hours later he and Jakub sat quietly at a corner table with their glasses of beer. One beer was the limit as both of them would be back in the skies tomorrow; a cockpit was no place for lack of concentration.

Jakub was married and expecting his first child and was happy to sit quietly in the warm and welcoming atmosphere thinking about his next leave in a week’s time. Patrick however spent his time watching Red as she served customers and laughed with the regulars. That laugh was in his head and was added to all the other pieces of her that he carried with him as he flew missions. The thought of those green eyes helped dispel the voice of the other constant companion that was by his side each time he buckled himself into the cockpit. Her presence in his heart and mind had helped him control his fear; bringing the realisation that he was experiencing the very emotion he had desperately wanted to avoid; he was in love.

Over the weeks since that first day on the hill, there had been moments in the pub, when he would catch her eye and they would both smile then look away. By sitting at the bar when he popped in alone, he had gathered more information about her. She wasn’t called Red of course, but Georgina and Georgie to her friends. She didn’t seem to have a boyfriend amongst the regulars who frequented the pub, and one day he overheard that she had been engaged to a soldier who had been killed within weeks of the war starting.

He would watch as she gently refused all attempts by eager young warriors to take her on a date, realising that her heart had already been broken. This reinforced his resolve not to give in to the growing need to tell Georgie of his feelings; convinced it would only bring her further sorrow.

Through the rest of the summer months missions intensified, with both daylight and night bombing raids on the docks and major cities; almost bringing the country to its knees. In the October the tide began to turn, but not without the loss of thousands of fighter pilots and bomber air crews. It was then that Patrick’s luck ran out as he limped home with a badly damaged plane and shrapnel injuries in his chest and arm.

Patrick fought to stay conscious as the plane shuddered and bucked as he flew using his one good hand. Blood from a head wound almost blinded him, but as he saw the runway rushing up to meet him, he managed to bring the nose around and head for the grass to the side. The last thing that he thought about as the world went black was Georgie’s face and laugh.

A month later Patrick got one of the pilots to drop him off at the Black Swan and he walked into the early evening quiet of the bar. He had just received his new orders on his return from the hospital. From Monday he would be moving into an intelligence role where his experience in combat could be put to use. He was making a good recovery, but the extensive injuries to his arm meant the end of his flying career; now he would be ensuring that he kept others safe in the skies. In one way he felt that he was abandoning those that he regarded as family in their close knit squadron, but he also knew that it offered him the opportunity to fulfil a dream that was equally important.

Georgie was polishing glasses and looked up to greet the new customer with her usual smile but instead she took a deep breath. As he moved closer Patrick could see that there were tears in her glorious green eyes. Georgie stepped out from behind the bar and walked towards him, glancing at his arm in its sling and the scar that was etched into his forehead. She stood in front of him and neither spoke for a moment until he reached out his good arm to take her hand.

‘Is there any chance that you might let me take you to the dance tomorrow night?’

She smiled through her tears. ‘How are you going to be able to dance with only one free arm?’

He pulled her into him and looked down at the lips that he had imagined kissing so many times in the last few months.

‘Don’t worry Red… I’ll manage just fine.’

©Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Amazon £3.50 :Amazon UK

Amazon US $4.53: Amazon US




Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday February 28th 2020 – #shortstory Beetley Pete, #Medieval Nicholas Rossis, #Promotion Susan M. Toy

A great story from Beetley Pete (Pete Johnson) in response to a package he received through the post from John Rieber.

Parcel Prompt Story: Writer’s Block

You saw the title? Yes, this is a parcel prompt, a first. A short story, in 1280 words.
I took the photo of a parcel sent to me all the way from California, by my blogging friend, John Rieber – He decided to go one better than a photo, and this was sent including a polystyrene box, to protect the contents.

There was a time when things were good. ‘Demon of The Marsh’ was a huge hit, and smashed into the fantasy market. Top seller on Amazon, and in the front windows of the bookshops that still existed. I was interviewed on the radio, then even a short telly spot on the BBC local news. The Guardian columnist called it ‘A fresh new take on the Demon genre’. Naturally, I was excited. And when it had sold over six thousand copies in hardback, then many, many more in paperback, I was approached by the very keen publisher with a deal for a second book.

Head over to read the rest of this excellent short story: Parcel Prompt – Writer’s Block – Beetley Pete

Get in touch with Pete and discover more about his writing – Blog: Beetley Pete WordPressTwitter: Beetley Pete

We might have some misconceptions about Medieval England, according to Nicholas Rossis there were shenanigans and a love of brightly coloured clothes…. or none at all.. What!!!

What did Medieval People Really Wear?

Contrary to popular belief, people in the Middle Ages loved color – and could afford it. They also liked to be, well, naked. Which makes sense, considering how much Medieval people liked throwing rotten vegetables at each other.

Some people take the term “Dark Ages” a little too literally. There is a notion in popular culture that the Medieval Period was a time when everyone lived in absolute poverty, wore clothes that looked like they were sewn together by a 6-year-old, and bathed zero times during their entire lives. The dark-filtered movies and shows depicting the Medieval period are supposed to symbolically reflect how bleak everyone’s life was.

Medieval clothes: Holywood vs. reality

A great example of this is the filter used in the European portion of The Kingdom of Heaven, which holds a rather negative view of Medieval Europe.

Raggedy grey clothing and a dark filter (and swords from the wrong centuries, but I digress):

Head over to see what clothes (or not) were trending at the time: What did Medieval people really wear by Nicholas Rossis

Nicholas Rossis, Buy: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Blog:Nicholas RossisGoodreads: Nicholas Rossis Goodreads

The last post today is blatant self-promotion but also is an opportunity to showcase a book marketing promotion by author and promoter Susan M. Toy. It is important to be seen at the best parties… You will find quite a few of our writing community here on WordPress in the archives. Oh and Susan also winkled out of me what books I was currently working on….

Sally Cronin – Authors – Readers  International

I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

If you would like to read the rest of the post and find out what I am up to behind the scenes: A-R International Sally Cronin with Susan M. Toy

Susan M. Toy, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Susan: Goodreads

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will head over to read the posts in full.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – One Writer’s Journey: 1-Star Reviews by Judy Penz Sheluk

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post by author Judy Penz Sheluk  and explores that moment when you find a 1 star review that knocks your belief in yourself, despite having many other reviews indicating that the majority of readers have enjoyed that same book so much, they have given you 4 and 5 stars.

One Writer’s Journey: 1-Star Reviews

Let me preface this by saying that as an author, ALL reviews are appreciated (and read)—even the much-dreaded 1-star review—because it means A) someone has read my book and B) taken the time to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N or Kobo. That doesn’t mean that 1-star reviews don’t sting. They do. It’s akin to telling someone their child is too ugly to appear in public. It might even be like saying they shouldn’t have had a child. In short, it’s harsh.

I still remember my first 1-star review as if it were yesterday. I’d been riding a wave of 5-star reviews (and Amazon Top 10 placement) for Skeletons in the Attic, book 1 in my Marketville Mystery series. And then one day, I popped onto Goodreads and there it was: “I guess I get to be the party-pooper here but I have to honestly say that this book just didn’t cut it in any way for me and I’m having a hard time trying to understand all the high ratings while believing, at the same time, these people read the same book I did.”

I went sobbing to my fellow Sisters in Crime, expecting sympathetic reassurances. Instead I got High-Fives. Apparently, you aren’t considered “legit” if all your reviews are 5-star. In fact, the odd 1-star review is actually a good thing because the “sweet spot overall rating” is apparently 3.8 to 4.3. Armed with that knowledge, I started checking the reviews for books I loved, many international bestsellers. Sure enough, every one of them had 1-star reviews. Okay then, I was in good company, especially since Skeletons in the Attic had an average of 4.25.

Fast forward to last week. I was checking my Amazon Author stats (a lovely time waster if Facebook isn’t enough to do it for me) and popped over to see if there were any new reviews. There were two posted on the same day for The Hanged Man’s Noose, book 1 in my Marketville Mystery series.

The first warmed my heart, with 4 stars and a lengthy review that started like this: “The Hanged Man’s Noose is the author’s debut book in A Glass Dolphin Mystery series. This is a classical cozy, in that it takes place in a colorful small town, and has lots compelling characters and no gore to gum it up.” The next one wasn’t quite as heartwarming. In fact, since the book was first published in July 2015, this was my first 1-star review, and the reader didn’t pull any punches: “A waste of time, frankly. The book was complicated by too many characters with too much background information to keep straight in such a short book. It could be charming, and I adore Canada, but it’s too boring.”

I can console myself with the fact that my overall rating for The Hanged Man’s Noose is 4.3, which, I’ll remind you, is the “sweet spot.” But too boring? That. Really. Hurt. Thankfully, most other readers don’t agree

PPS: Reviews really do matter. Love it, hate it, or anything in between, authors appreciate your reviews. After all, we’re writing for you.

© Judy Penz Sheluk 2019

Have you had any 1* reviews that hit you for six!  Share your thoughts with us… and here is Skeletons in the Attic with one of its recent reviews…with a definite 5*

About Skeletons in the Attic – A Marketville Mystery

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know he had. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who hopes to expose the Barnstable family secrets herself. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

A recent review for Skeletons in the Attic

C.J. Shane 5.0 out of 5 stars  Intriguing Characters  Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2019

Skeletons in the Attic is the first in Judy Penz Sheluk’s Marketville Mystery series. We meet our protagonist Callie Barnstable at her attorney’s office ready to read her recently deceased father’s will. She was reared by her father as an only child. Her mother had disappeared years earlier when Callie was only six. Much to her surprise, Callie learns that her father has left her a home in the small city of Marketville north of Toronto, a home that she knew nothing about. And, to add to this sudden mystery, she finds that she is required to live in the house for a minimum of one year. Her father made clear that he wants Callie to find out who murdered her mother during her time in the house. Callie complies, moves to Marketville, and immediately finds herself acting as an amateur sleuth trying to make sense of circles within circles of family and neighbor relationships.

This cozy mystery has specific strengths. First are the characters, many of whom are compelling personalities on the verge on being quite eccentric. Among them are a couple of tarot card readers, a very well-informed gossipy neighbor, a woman with man troubles, and a handsome contractor next door named Royce whom Callie hires to work on her fixer-upper, newly-inherited home. Sheluk has a gift for presenting characters that at times seem as allies to Callie, and at other times, potential threats. That keeps us guessing and adds an element of danger to the mystery. Along the way, Callie finds a series of clues in the form of physical objects that appear to be giving her messages: tarot cards, hidden jewelry (hidden but not too well-hidden), and a skeleton in her attic. Another strength is the setting. This is a part of the world I have never visited. My adventures in Canada have all been in the west. I consider setting to be an important part of any good story. Sheluk doesn’t fail in placing this story in environmental context.

This is a quite an enjoyable read for mystery lovers although the final pages left me with questions. We find that the mystery of her mother’s disappearance is linked to some rather implausible behavior on the part of a few family members. Or maybe not. Human beings behave implausibly all the time, especially when it comes to familial interpersonal interactions. Rather disconcerting, though, was Callie’s rather subdued, even flat, reaction to the revelations in the final pages. She appears to lack curiosity or any emotional reaction which seemed somewhat at odds with how she had reacted repeatedly to other unfolding events earlier in the story. I would like to have known more about she viewed the revelations and about she intends to go forward in the future. Recommended.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Judy Penz Sheluk

Read the reviews and buy all the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judy on Goodreads: Goodreads

About Judy Penz Sheluk

An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was published in July 2015. The sequel, A Hole In One, is scheduled for Spring 2018.

Skeletons in the Attic, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her Marketville Mystery series, was first published in August 2016 and re-released in December 2017. Past & Present, the sequel, is scheduled for early 2019.

Judy’s short crime and literary fiction appears in several collections.

In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy works as a freelance writer and editor; her articles have appeared regularly in dozens of U.S. and Canadian consumer and trade publications.

Past editorial responsibilities have included the roles of Senior Editor, Northeast Art & Antiques, Editor, Antiques and Collectibles Showcase, and Editor, Home Builder Magazine. She is currently the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, Inc. the South Simcoe Arts Council, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. In addition, Judy has been elected to the 2017-18 Board of Directors for Crime Writers of Canada, as a Director, and as a Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario.

She lives in Alliston, Ontario, with her husband, Mike, and their golden retriever, Gibbs.

Connect to Judy

Blog: Judy Penz Sheluk
Facebook: Judy Penz Sheluk
Twitter: @JudyPenzSheluk

My thanks to Judy for sharing her moment of self-doubt (brief thankfully) and as always your feedback is most welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Format Your Picture Book Paperback for #Amazon by Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson has another new book available which is a guide to formatting your picture book paperback interior for Amazon. Amazon has made some changes to their requirements on a regular basis over the last year and it can be confusing without some expert guidance.

About the book

This little book shows you how to format an interior book file specifically for a picture book paperback. It uses open source software which is all completely free, so there are no hidden costs for purchases of fancy and expensive programmes. A simple step by step guide from creating individual page images to putting it all together as a top quality print specific PDF file to upload without stress to yourself or your pocket.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon US

And:  Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Jo Robinson

One of the reviews for African Me and Satellite TV by Kevin Cooper

A truly remarkable and beautiful story. I was drawn to this book because my great aunt lived in Zimbabwe for may years. I had heard some tales form her in person. Reading this book really gave me some more insight as to the goings on in Zimbabwe around the same time. I don’t want to give away too much away. The story is really about suzette and how her gardener, Christopher see her for the great person the she really is. She is totally oblivious to Christopher’s modest interest in her until the Sherman’s arrive and disrupt life as she knows it.

The Sherman’s are hateful and deeply racist and are the kind of people that you don’t want to mess with. They are capable of anything. After beating their maid, a fragile old woman (who is treated more like a slave) they leave her for dead at the side of a road. Christopher finds her and brings her to the Hertzog’s. Suzette takes her in and makes her part of the family…it is then that she begins to get to know Christopher better. But the Sherman’s are not happy with Suzette caring for “their” maid and decide to exact revenge for the interference. Twisting things to make it look like suzette is in the wrong. Things turn from nasty to evil for suzette and her household and, if you will allow,the plot thickens.

Read the other  reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Follow Jo on: Goodreads

About Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson currently resides in her homeland, South Africa, after having lived in rural Zimbabwe for many years. Her obsessive affection for the African continent, most humans, and all creatures feathered and furred are what inspire her writing. Her stories are mostly about people, and the sometimes dark twists that life takes. She also writes science fiction/fantasy, humour, and horror, not being one to restrict herself.

Find out more about Jo’s author services: Indie Author Services

Connect to Jo

Blog: African Colonial Stories
Facebook: Jo Robinson
Twitter: @jorobinson176

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to discover more about Jo’s new book.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #Thriller Mark Bierman, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Shortstories Anne Goodwin

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore author updates, with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today is Mark Bierman has been receiving terrific reviews for his debut novel Vanished.

About the book

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.

Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Non stop action  Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2020

This story kicks off the action on page one and doesn’t let up. In fact, when I was about ¾ of the way through, I needed to sit back, take a deep breath, and work the tension out of my shoulders. Bierman’s ability to write non-stop, intense, dangerous action is noteworthy. And though in many ways, I’d characterize the story as plot-driven, there’s some deep emotion when it’s called for.

And the story isn’t a picnic. Though the author maintains that it’s fictional, he also states that it centers on a very real and tragic situation – child slavery. Tyler and John are two likable Americans who team up with an anti-hero in Haiti. The story follows their attempt to rescue a Haitian’s young child from a mine worked by kidnapped children. The difficulty of this plan is skillfully complicated by cultural barriers, corruption, poverty, and, of course, the ruthless adults who treat children like disposable tools – use them until they break and then throw them away.

Even though the book is plot-driven, I felt connected to Tyler and John. It was hard not to feel for them and root for them when things weren’t going well (which was the whole book). In a way, they are ordinary men who, as things got worse and worse, had to keep remaking decisions about what they’re willing to sacrifice, including their lives. They give it their all and it was very heroic. I’d read more about the characters and will read more of this author. Recommended for anyone who loves an intense action-packed adventure/thriller.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Mark: Goodreads

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

Amazon US Author Page: Amazon US
Amazon UK : Amazon UK

Connect to Mark via his blog: Mark Bierman WordPress

The next featured author is Audrey Driscoll for her action adventure, She Who Comes Forth

About the book

October 1962. The developing nuclear missile crisis in Cuba is of no concern to Francesca “France” Leighton. Recently turned 21, France travels from her home in Providence to a job at an archaeological dig in Luxor, Egypt. She takes with her two legacies—an emerald ring from the grandfather she never knew, and an antique cello from his friend, a man she loved like a grandfather.

The dig disappoints. France is relegated to sorting chunks of stone, the dig’s director makes unwanted advances; rivalries and mistrust are everywhere. And it’s too darn hot. Tasked with playing her cello at a gathering of archaeologists, France meets the enigmatic and fascinating nuclear physicist Adam Dexter. She’s smitten, especially when he promises to show her the secrets of Egypt, including a hitherto undiscovered tomb.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Susan 5.0 out of 5 stars Great Setting  Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2020

What an amazing journey from cover to cover. France Leighton takes advantage of a once in a lifetime job offer by accepting a position at an archaeological dig in Luxor, Egypt. Her high expectations are quickly dashed when due to her lack of experience she is relegated to menial labor – sorting stones in the oppressive heat. With her beloved cello named Eudora, she searches for adventure and romance. She’s young and sometimes reckless but full of daring while attempting to solve various mysteries surrounding the myths and legends of the area.

Well-written with richly detailed descriptions, I enjoyed France’s story and felt her joys and sorrows as she tried to connect with those around her. It was difficult to figure out who she could trust. Set in the early 1960’s using the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War as a backdrop, the story flows well and is highly recommended.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other  books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Audrey on: Goodreads

Connect to Audrey  via her website: Audrey Driscoll

And the final book today with a recent review is for the short story collection Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin.

About the book.

An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.

Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?

Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?

One of the recent reviews for the collection

This book of a collection of over 40 short stories, which was unlike most books I am used to reading. I don’t know how the author did it, but the book drew my mind and attention to the character’s identity. Not in a ‘’like -or-don’t -like’’ manner but rather in an analytical sort of way. Each story is different and presents a diverse group of personalities. The stories are about real people with real problems who caught the attention of a writer, bringing their life and struggles into the forefront for the reader to ponder. I would gladly recommend this book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Anne Goodwin

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Find more reviews and follow Anne on: Goodreads

Connect to Anne via her blog: Annecdotal

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.


COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “James: Witch Hunter,” & “Sophie: Witch Hunter,” BY AUTHOR, K. S. Marsden, @KSMarsden

Looking for a new book to read… Colleen Chesebro is always a very good source for recommended books.

About James: Witch Hunter

~Prequel to the Witch-Hunter trilogy~

James Bennett is a Yorkshire lad, making the big move to Oxford to start university.
His ambitions involve getting a good education; impressing the Rugby Club; and not throttling his roommate. All perfectly normal drama, until Hallowe’en.

A girl’s murder throws James into the dangerous world of witches, and those that hunt them.


Source: COLLEEN’S 2020 #BOOK #REVIEWS – “James: Witch Hunter,” & “Sophie: Witch Hunter,” BY AUTHOR, K. S. Marsden, @KSMarsden

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – Learn Your Foreign #Currency by Sharon Marchisello

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 20

This is the first post from author and financial expert Sharon Marchisello and this week she shares some very useful advice when travelling and paying for small services in the local currency…buyer beware!

Learn Your Foreign Currency

We recently returned from a trip abroad, and I’m constantly amazed at stories from fellow travelers about how they grossly overpaid for services because they didn’t understand the local currency. If there’s one bit of homework you should do before you visit another country, find out what the exchange rate is.

It’s especially confusing when you have to add lots of zeros to the currency unit to reach the USD equivalent. Local currency can seem like monopoly money. But tack on an extra zero or two, and suddenly you’re handing out serious funds for tips and cab rides.

For example, we talked to a guy who thought he was tipping his bartender a generous ten dollars. After comparing notes with a local customer at the bar, he found out he’d just given the guy one hundred dollars. On the bright side, he got great service for the remainder of his stay!

When you exchange money, take a moment to look at the bills and coins you receive. Get a feel for how much each is worth compared to your home currency. Some denominations may look similar but vary greatly in value.

If the exchange rate for local currency versus your home currency is not easily divisible (i.e., two to one, three to one, ten to one, etc.), don’t be afraid to whip out a calculator if you’re not good at doing math in your head. We spoke to some women who’d paid three times the amount they thought they were negotiating for a cab ride from the airport into downtown Buenos Aires. (At this writing, there are approximately 38 Argentine pesos to the U.S. dollar. They’d just come from Chile, where the exchange rate is about 650 to one; they’d assumed the two currencies were similar in value.)

Sometimes it’s easier and more cost-effective to pay with a credit card than to exchange money so you can pay with cash. However, many inexpensive services cannot be paid for with credit cards or foreign currency: bus rides, purchases at street markets, meals at small local restaurants, lots of taxis. If you do pay with a credit card, try to use one that doesn’t assess foreign transaction fees, which can add up. Also, make sure you’re clear on the amount charged. The vendor may quote the price in dollars but the charge will be entered in local currency. Verify that the amount on the slip you sign is equivalent to what you were quoted.

We had an overnight stay in Buenos Aires before boarding a cruise ship and we were able to pay for our hotel and transportation from the airport with a credit card. But when we inquired about a taxi to the pier, we were told the drivers only accepted local currency. The pier was quite close; the desk clerk advised us the fare should not be more than 300-400 pesos.

So, we set out to get cash from an ATM, which we do frequently when we travel abroad. But every machine we encountered assessed a transaction fee of between six and ten dollars. The fee wouldn’t have been so onerous if we were withdrawing a large sum of money, but for the small amount we wanted, it did not seem cost effective.

After four or five unsuccessful attempts to withdraw money without an excessive fee, we decided to return to the hotel and cash a twenty-dollar bill at the desk. We knew the exchange rate would be worse, but they shouldn’t charge a fee. Except then we found out our hotel did not offer currency exchange.

The desk clerk suggested he could call the taxi company and give them our credit card number, which they could charge when the ride was complete. We agreed, and he called us a cab.

En route to the pier, we verified the arrangement with the driver. Credit card number to the home office? He knew nothing about it. Frantically, he started texting back and forth with his dispatcher.

As we neared the pier, we eyed the meter, which still showed less than 200 pesos. “What if I just give you cash in U.S. dollars?” my husband asked.

“Much better,” the cab driver replied. When we arrived at our destination, we handed him a five-dollar bill, and he was happy.

(When we got home, I checked my credit card statement to make sure no duplicate charge had appeared from the cab company. Fortunately, there was nothing.)

On board the ship, we played trivia with an Argentine native of Buenos Aires, and we told him the story of our cab ride.

“Ooh… you got ripped off! Five dollars!” he guffawed. “That ride shouldn’t have cost you more than 100 pesos.”

So we, too, were gullible, overtipping tourists. But the ride still cost us less than withdrawing local currency for the fare out of the ATM.

©Sharon Marchisello 2019

Very useful advice from Sharon and definitely worth following to save money and stress.

For more saving and investment tips read Live Well, Grow Wealth.

Sharon Marchisello recently released her new crime mystery novel Secrets of the Galapagos…

About the book

Shattered by a broken engagement and a business venture derailed by Jerome Haddad, her unscrupulous partner, Giovanna Rogers goes on a luxury Galapagos cruise with her grandmother to decompress.

At least that’s what her grandmother thinks. Giovanna is determined to make Jerome pay for what he’s done, and she has a tip he’s headed for the Galapagos.

While snorkeling in Gardner Bay off the coast of Española Island, Giovanna and another cruise passenger, tortoise researcher Laurel Pardo, both become separated from the group and Laurel is left behind. No one on the ship will acknowledge Laurel is missing, and Giovanna suspects a cover-up.

When the police come on board to investigate a death, Giovanna is sure the victim is Laurel. She’s anxious to give her testimony to the attractive local detective assigned to the case. Instead, she learns someone else is dead, and she’s a person of interest.

Resolved to keep searching for Laurel and make sense of her disappearance, Giovanna finds that several people on board the cruise ship have reasons to want Laurel gone. One is a scam involving Tio Armando, the famous Galapagos giant tortoise and a major tourist attraction in the archipelago. And Jerome Haddad has a hand in it. Thinking she’s the cat in this game, Giovanna gets too involved and becomes the mouse, putting her life in jeopardy. But if she doesn’t stop him, Jerome will go on to ruin others.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Busy Guy in Peachtree City – 5.0 out of 5 stars  Mystery, romance, and blood-stirring adventure  Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2020

In Secrets of the Galapagos, Sharon Marchisello has masterfully blended mystery, romance, and blood-stirring adventure. Her spunky heroine successfully fights off danger and fear to overcome obstacles that fall or are placed in her path –encounter with a shark while snorkeling, the arrival at the islands of someone who destroyed her business, a murder, and a kidnapping. Ms Marchisello’s characters, including the minor players, are fully three-dimensional. The seeming hardness of the heroine is tempered by flirtation with the police officer who investigates a disappearance and then, a murder. Secrets of the Galapagos is a perfect read for both a sunny beach and a cold, rainy winter day.

Buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Other books by Sharon Marchisello

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – 

and: Amazon UK – 

Read other reviews and follow Sharon: Goodreads

About Sharon Marchisello

Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press, Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019). She is an active member of Sisters in Crime.

She contributed short stories to anthologies Shhhh…Murder! (Darkhouse Books, 2018) and Finally Home (Bienvenue Press, 2019). Her personal finance book Live Well, Grow Wealth was originally published as Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy, an e-book on Smashwords. Sharon has published travel articles, book reviews, and corporate training manuals, and she writes a personal finance blog called Countdown to Financial Fitness.

She grew up in Tyler, Texas, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston in French and English. She studied for a year in Tours, France, on a Rotary scholarship and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters in Professional Writing at the University of Southern California.

Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she lives in Peachtree City, Georgia, doing volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society and the Fayette County Master Gardeners UGA Extension.

Connect to Sharon

Blogspot: Sharon Blogspot
Blog WordPress: Sharon Marchisello
Facebook: S.L Marchisello
Facebook: Live Cheaply Be Happy
Twitter: @SLMarchisello

Thank you for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome.. more from Sharon Marchisello next Thursday.. thanks Sally.