Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 25th – 31st October – Inspiration, Legends, Boogie, Ugli Fruit, Books, Reviews, Health and Laughter

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

Happy  Halloween and I hope that despite the restrictions on Trick or Treating in some of our countries, children will still get to dress up and enjoy the night with their families.

The headlines are certainly not festive.. The world experienced a record breaking 573,000 worldwide cases yesterday worldometers info coronavirus

Not sure where some are getting their information from about a slow down when America had over 100,000 new cases and UK and the rest of Europe racked up 100,000s more. And those who feel that wearing a mask is not their responsibility, or that the pandemic is a hoax, should listen to those who have suffered from Covid-19 and are experiencing the long term effects, even if they dismiss the experts.

Here in Ireland there has been a slight dip in cases but we have come to the realisation that even with a vaccine we are likely to be following our current restrictions until at least Spring next year. Along with this realisation comes a decision to make the best use of the time to work on sidelined projects both in our house and personally.

Keeping fit is obviously high on the list and eating well and exercising is a priority. But also that feeling of completing projects with something tangible to show for it. I don’t want to look back on this year with nothing to show for it. Finishing writing projects is one way, but also coming out the other side fitter and more resilient is also a goal we are pursuing. Both of us are heading into our 70s and I am damned if we are going to slide gracefully into ‘vulnerability’, a word that has been attached to this age group by both the medical profession and the media. Since our age will play a factor in our treatment options in very severe cases, it is up to us to ensure we do all we can to reduce our risk factors where we can.

I am not prepared to spend the next twenty or so years, or the time I have left, sitting waiting for the inevitable…I want to go out on my own terms with more adventures, love, laughter and good friends. I also intend to keep on writing books, this blog and in particular promoting health with a focus on resilience as a follow on from the series Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit –

On that note, many of you have been following the posts of two amazing women, Mary Smith and Sue Vincent as they take on Cancer with such courage and grace. They are sharing their experiences on their blogs to educate and inspire, something they are certainly achieving.

Here are the links to their latest posts and I am sure they would be delighted to have your positive thoughts added to the many already supporting them.

Sue Vincent – First Catch Your Cancer

Cancer Diary 8 – Scan Results

This community is incredible and there is always someone awake around the world 24/7 ready to chat, share a smile and a word of encouragement..

Whilst I loved the Simon & Garfunkel original version, and Aretha Franklin’s, I was amazed when I heard Elvis sing this song so brilliantly… And I think it sums up the warmth and generosity of spirit I have experienced here in blog world over the last 7 years.

And as I complete the stories for my new collection… trying to maintain a positive and hopeful vibe (for most of the tales anyway), I received a wonderful boost this morning.

Despite a wild night with gale force winds and heavy rain I woke up to a ray of sunshine. I received an amazing review from John Maberry of Eagle Peak Press. To be sandwiched between Stephen King and Blake Crouch is something I never expected to happen, and to be on the same page as Paulo Coelho and Viktor Frankl is surreal. Some great books and (including mine of course lol)  I hope you will head over John Maberry – Five Books we Recommend

Time to get on with this week’s posts.  And as always a huge thank you to William Price King, Carol Taylor and Debby Gies for their contributions.

William Price King with legendary American band Earth, Wind and Fire

U’ for Upside Down Cake, Udon Noodles, Ugli Fruit and Unleavened Bread

Chapter Thirteen – Our new home and friends

Tales from the Irish Garden – All Hallows Eve – Part One

All Hallows Eve – Part Two

My Parent’s visit – Part Four Sam Houston Museum and #Galveston

Guest Interviews 2015 – #Pembrokeshire, #FamilySagas with Judith Barrow

#History – The Story of the Huguenots: A Unique Legacy by Joyce Hampton

Past Book Reviews 2018 – Past and Present: A Marketville Mystery by Judy Penz Sheluk

Past Book Reviews 2019 #Contemporary The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie

2019 #Prehistoric Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 of the Crossroads Trilogy) by Jacqui Murray

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE, MC

Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Clary Sage


UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – Keeping your focus – Tryptophan

UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Key elements of Activity and People


Share your Children’s book reviews – #PictureBooks with Jennie Fitzkee Part Three – Upper grade books for older children.

#Chocolate Robbie and Michael Cheadle, #Tractor Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, #Lamb Tales Jude Lennon

#Thriller Carol Balawyder, #Thriller Mark Bierman, #Romance Linda Bradley

Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Reviews – Poetry M.J. Mallon, Shortstories Elizabeth Merry

#Fantasy Fiona Tarr, Reviews -#Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Fantasy Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Mastiffs and Lightbulbs

October 29th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Halloween Special

October 30th 2020 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp


Thanks so much for dropping in today and for all the great support during the week.. I am very grateful.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Releases #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, Reviews -#Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Fantasy Vashti Quiroz-Vega

This week the Cafe and Bookstore has slipped by a day due to the Halloween posts…with a new release and recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

Delighted to add a new book by Fiona Tarr to the shelves Shiloh Rising – The Priestess Chronicles – Volume 3 – On offer for 99c/77p during November

About the book

An ancient relic, an evil power, a magical priestess. As they collide, the fearless, no-holds-barred battle erupts.

Ariela is surprised when she arrives in Carthage in yet another unknown time reality. Her mission is guided by ancient divinity and no-one is expecting her—or so she thinks. Those who await her are members of her Mother’s ancient Priestess Order. But she quickly realises, all is not as innocent and welcoming as it seems.

Carthage is warring over religion and politics. The conflict reveals truths Ariela isn’t expecting. But when the Priestess discovers she is to assassinate the King and that her Mother’s ancient order has been dabbling in politics, she is enraged. Order must be restored.

When the Priestess’s friend Ophelia senses an evil relic of power, Ariela realises politics are the least of her worries. She must stop the evil spirit that inhabits the relic before she is forced to kill the man who wears it, whether she wants to or not.

Head over to buy the book at 99c during November: Amazon US – And for 77p: Amazon UK

Also by Fiona Tarr

One of the reviews for Reign of Retribution

Sherrie Hansen VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars The Sacrifices Made for True Love  Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed Fiona Tarr’s latest book, propelled by the theme of love and the sacrifices we are sometimes asked to make for true love. As Princess Sheba struggles to find her way in the brutal world of Old Testament times, warring kingdoms and religious conflicts, she is thrown into a battle of good and evil, zealots, idolators, opposing dieties, arch angels and believers of the one true God. Many facets of love are explored – love of family and the loyalty that comes with it, love of carnal pleasures and selfish pursuits, love of God, misguided love, and the romantic pull of true love. The characters are either noble, endearing and admirable, or cruel, twisted and hateful, and both will hold your attention to the end. The goal is to preserve the line of David, from which the Redeemer will come to save mankind. With the stakes so high, yet seemingly impossible, you will read with tears in your eyes, even for believers who know the final outcome firsthand. Thought-provoking and highly recommended.

Read the reviews and Buy: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK Follow Fiona: GoodreadsWebsite :A Time 2 Write –  Twitter: @FionaTarr

And the first author today with a recent review is Audrey Driscoll for her latest book Tales from the Annexe: seven stories from the Herbert West Series and seven other tales

About the collection

Seven stories from the world of Audrey Driscoll’s Herbert West Series, followed by seven other tales of illusions, delusions, and mysteries on the edges of logic. Discover Herbert West’s connections to Egypt, and how a dead man can help solve a mystery. Share Charles Milburn’s ruminations as he explores another dimension of his friendship with Herbert. Sample the treats on offer from an ice cream truck from Hell. Ride along with a dad who abandoned his ten-year-old son in the woods where something howls. Find out why a woman paints her bedroom a very special colour. Watch fifteen-year-old Ann as she tries to prove she belongs to the glamorous family on the other side of town. These and seven other curious encounters may be found in this annexe to the ordinary.

A recent review for the collection

D. W. Peach 4.0 out of 5 stars For Herbert West fans  Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2020

I jumped into this collection of stories despite never having read H.P. Lovecraft or Driscoll’s novels based on the HPL character Herbert West. That may have been a mistake since the first seven stories are “by products” of Driscoll’s Herbert West novels. Without knowledge of the original stories, I had a difficult time following the narratives.

Don’t get me wrong. Driscoll is talented, and these are beautifully written tales. The prose is polished, and the characters have distinct voices and believable sentiments. I’d characterize the style as literary fiction with a turn-of-the-century tone. I suspect that Herbert West fans will appreciate the connections.

The final five stories are stand-alone speculative fiction tales, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. My favorites were The Colour of Magic and A Howling in the Woods, though I recommend them all. Each tale is unique, and they range from creepy to bone-chilling!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK

Audrey Driscoll, Buy:Amazon US – And:  Amazon UK – follow Audrey: Goodreads – Website:Audrey Driscoll – LinkedIn: Audrey Driscoll

The final author today is Vashti Quiroz-Vega with a recent review for Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Series)

About Son of the Serpent

In Son of the Serpent, award-winning author Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts another fascinating glimpse into the dark, compelling world of fallen angels and demons, revealing more about their untold stories.

The war in heaven might be over, but the ambitions of the fallen angel Lilith reach far across the roots of history. Will there be a being powerful enough to stop her evil influence before the destruction of mankind?

Dracúl knows he is the son of Satan, but the rest of his memory has been taken from him. Alone and frightened, he awakens in a forest, beginning a quest to piece together who he is. The world he encounters is cruel, but he yearns to belong and find companionship. With each step he takes, another missing piece of his memory falls into place, revealing a truth that is ever more troubling . . .

A truth that will turn his quest for meaning into one fueled by the hot-blooded thirst for revenge. A truth that leads him to Lilith, the most wicked and ruthless of fallen angels and one he soon will have every reason to hate. His quest will consume him, perhaps ruin his life, but somehow Dracúl is determined to find both belonging and vengeance—to be good, in spite of his evil nature and the dark secrets that haunt him every step of the way.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Sep 27, 2020 Yvette Calleiro rated it five stars

I absolutely loved book one, but I honestly think I love this book even more. I felt sorry for Lilith in book one, and I completely loathed her in this book. The author does a phenomenal job of allowing you to see the evil that festers and flourishes within Lilith. She also brilliantly draws you in to feel compassion and empathy for Dracul on his journey to not only fit in but to also rid the world of his horrific mother. And then, there’s Gadreel (still my favorite character…lol!). The author’s use of this character to guide the story into each situation was fantastic.

I loved how the author pulled stories from the bible and effortlessly wove these characters into the major game-changing scenes of history. The seamless story-telling shows that the author did her research to make sure the story held true to its historical depiction while also allowing her characters the flexibility to shape those moments in time.

I cannot wait to read book three, Gadreel’s story. After reading this book, I’m even more excited to read it. I highly recommend this book (and series) to anyone who enjoys well-written stories with cleverly crafted characters whose struggles will make you fight for their survival and success. 🙂

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US and  Amazon UK

Also by Vashti Quiroz Vega

Vashti Quiroz- Vega, Buy:Amazon US – and : Amazon UK –  Follow Vashti : Goodreads – website:Vashti – WordPress – Twitter: @VashtiQV

Saturday Snippets…31st October…A Halloween Special…and Loy Krathong…

Today Carol’s Saturday Snippets are all about Halloween…with creepy candy apples, the bright and the dark colours associated with the festival and music with that horror vibe…get your broomstick out and fly across for a look…

Retired? No one told me!

Welcome to Saturday Snippets where anything goes…whatever catches my eye or my imagination could be on this post…something for everyone…The temperature has definitely dropped this week enough for me to sleep comfortably without a fan and it has been overcast and quite dull although this morning I was greeted by sunshine…A nice change…

You may have wondered why my image header shows two entirely different images in type…Today 31st October is Halloween traditionally known as All Hallows’ Eve, it is always the eve of the Christian festival All Saints’ Day on 1 November… it is also Loy Krathong here where we float pretty flowers and candles…

When I looked at the meaning of Halloween and Loy Krathong I was struck by many similarities so even though our communities are far apart we are not so different. Of course, there is also a blue moon …A rarity…

The next time there…

View original post 837 more words

Tales from the Irish Garden – All Hallows Eve – Part Two by Sally Cronin

I am sharing two chapters this weekend in celebration of All Hallows Eve from my Tales from the Irish Garden. Here is the link to Part One

All Hallow’s Eve Part Two – Freakish Village prepares for the Zombies

Down in the village of Freakish, the villagers had been preparing for this night for the last week or so. Mothers slaved over costumes for their children, often biting their lips to prevent a slip of the tongue when pricking their tender fingertips with a needle. Every year one of the residents of the community on the hill would act as consultant, and this year Zenia and Zoran had both volunteered.

With pegs on noses, the mothers had gathered for a meeting to discuss the best way to make the costumes, and as an outcome, all the rags and old unwanted garments were gathered together and picked over by the consultants and placed into piles. They explained that some of the clothes would need to have cuts placed in strategic places, such as over the knees and thigh parts of the trousers for the boys. They also suggested taking already tatty shirts and ripping the sleeves and collars off and perhaps a couple of buttons. For the girls, they suggested that the mothers sew together oddly assorted coloured rags into shift dresses with ragged hems.

With the main costume out of the way, the committee moved onto the decoration phase. Mrs Dumphries, who made the dyes from the local plants, said she would take care of the reds, greens and dark browns required. Mrs Stipple who was married to the local butcher promised to get thin strips of cow hide to dye and hang from arms and legs. The thing that made them all scratch their heads was how to find a way to copy the dollops of flesh that hung so decoratively from Zenia and Zoran’s faces. Miss Fortescue, who acted as backstage makeup artist for the local dramatic society, said that she would take care of that little problem on the night.

Well pleased with the progress of the Freakish village preparations, Zenia and Zoran assured their friends that the night was going to be one of the most successful in decades.

As the sun set and the moon rose high in the sky, the villagers dressed their children in their costumes; with some taking the extra precaution of placing garlic amulets around their necks. They knew that those who were different from them, meant no harm, but just in case one of them got a bit carried away, four strong men were provided with sprays of frankincense and marjoram, which whilst not fatal, was known to give 99% of all zombies and ghouls the heebie-jeebies.

If past Halloween nights were anything to go by, these precautions were unnecessary, and as the villagers laid out tables of pumpkin fritters, apple pie, goat’s cheesecake and fresh cream, they chatted and laughed excitedly. Around them the children of the village, hideous and foul smelling, raced around trying to pick bits of artificial skin from each other’s bodies. The odd squeal indicated where an unfortunate child had some of his own ripped off over enthusiastically.

The church bell began to toll and a figure was seen to flit in and out between the gravestones. The game was on, and suddenly screams and howls of terror filled the village square. Dressed in robes of white, with a flaming torch in one hand and a dismembered head in the other, a man raced towards the knot of families as they stood frozen outside the community hall.

With a fearful screech, the creature skidded to a halt in front of the terrified villagers and threw the head at their feet. In the light of the torch a diabolical face could be seen glowing gruesomely with green and red slime. With a cackle a disembodied voice lashed into them.
‘Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha….’

Mrs Dumphries, with her hands on her hips advanced towards the rotund prankster, noting in passing that the bodiless head was made of papier-mâché.

‘Father, you nearly frightened us all to death, whatever were you thinking, we weren’t ready yet!’ She wagged her finger in his face, and with a collective sigh of relief, everyone surrounded the priest and patted him on the back.

It was now time for the real fun to begin, and everyone piled back inside the large hall and sat cross-legged in a circle. Miss Fortescue and the committee blew out all the candles and joined their friends on the floor. You could have heard a pin drop, and even the children sat quietly in petrified silence. After what seemed like an hour, but was only really a few minutes, they all heard the creak of the main door as it was pushed open by an unseen hand. A window at the back of the centre banged shut, and a sudden rush of soot was heard as it settled with a thump into the grate. There was a sharp intake of breath as a cold slimy hand brushed against a man’s cheek, and Mrs Dumphries shrieked as she felt the gentlest of bites against her neck.

The children were of course completely delighted by the whole shebang, and the ghouls and pranksters paid particular attention to making their parents scream and cry out for mercy. Small packets of sweets were left in the laps of the youngsters along with little practical jokes for use during the rest of the year. If you have ever wondered where itching powder and whoopee cushions came from, now you know!

An hour later and every one of the villagers had been scared half to death, and Bethany decided that they would indeed be much more grateful for their lives in the year to come. She relit the candles, and with a massive sigh of relief, and nervous laughter, the villagers got to their feet, with one or two stalwart men required to get the fat little priest upright.

Cecil the black cat sat on the mantle above the fire yawning with boredom, having seen it all before many times. Bethany and her friends went from person to person shaking hands and hugging some of those they had known for decades; patting eager children on the head, complimenting them on their magnificent costumes.

It was time to hit the party food and whilst Zenia and Zoran did not usually partake, they gladly passed amongst the guests, topping up glasses with the amber nectar. The Storyteller had been hiding in the community centre kitchens for the main festivities to finish. To be honest he had a bit of a dicky heart, and was not sure he could take all the frivolity. However, he had brought a surprise for the gathered villagers and their visitors, and huge cheer went up as he appeared followed by his band of musicians.

He asked Bethany if she would join him for the first dance and with grace and much admiration they executed a Viennese Waltz perfectly. The Storyteller gestured to everyone to take to the floor and soon there was a heaving mass of men, women and children prancing and reeling, rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ and twerking in time to the beat.

As the church clock struck midnight, the visitors shambled away to the hills where they would remain out of sight for another year. Bethany was cornered by one or two of the ladies, and with Cecil waiting impatiently by her broom; she dispensed some pre-prepared potions that she knew were always in demand. Miss Fortescue in particular was very keen to find a fragrance that she could wear behind her plump little ears to attract Jack Hammer the local blacksmith.

©Sally Cronin – Tales from the Irish Garden 2018

I hope you have enjoyed these two snippets from Tales from The Irish Garden  – enjoy Halloween…thanks Sally.

You can read recent reviews for all my books: My books and reviews

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – October 30th 2020 – Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Author Daniel Kemp entertains us again with his funnies from: Danny Kemp  .. Always a place to find funnies and jokes to cheer you up… plus some satirical political commentary.

More Work Jokes

Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet.

Sometimes the best helping hand you can give is a good, firm push.

Drink coffee! Do stupid things faster with more energy!

I never minded going to work, it was the 8-hour wait to go home I couldn’t stand.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.

Just about the time when you think you can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.

A committee is twelve men doing the work of one.

If everything seems to be coming your way, you’re probably in the wrong lane.

It’s not how good your work is, it’s how well you explain it.

Efficiency is a highly developed form of laziness.

The further away the future is, the better it looks.

Some of us learn from the mistakes of others; the rest of us have to be the others.

My thanks to Danny for allowing me to raid his Facebook: Danny Kemp

About Daniel Kemp

Daniel Kemp, ex-London police officer, mini-cab business owner, pub tenant and licensed London taxi driver never planned to be a writer, but after his first novel –The Desolate Garden — was under a paid option to become a $30 million film for five years until distribution became an insurmountable problem for the production company what else could he do?

In May 2018 his book What Happened In Vienna, Jack? became a number one bestseller on four separate Amazon sites: America, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Although it’s true to say that he mainly concentrates on what he knows best; murders laced by the mystery involving spies, his diverse experience of life shows in the short stories he writes, namely: Why? A Complicated Love, and the intriguing story titled The Story That Had No Beginning.

He is the recipient of rave reviews from a prestigious Manhattan publication, been described as –the new Graham Green — by a managerial employee of Waterstones Books, for whom he did a countrywide tour of signing events, and he has appeared on ‘live’ television in the UK.

A selection of books by Daniel Kemp

A recent reviews for What Happened in Vienna Jack?

Apr 27, 2020 Roberta Cheadle rated it  Five Stars it was amazing

What Happened in Vienna, Jack? is a magnificent story of espionage set in Britain and true to that country, its people and reputation down to the very last detail. Daniel Kemp has certainly rivaled Ian Fleming with his brilliant portrayal of the British government’s secret service and his version of James Bond, in the split form of the older veteran, Jack Price, and the younger and debonair Irishman, Patrick West, who together must solve some deeply hidden mysteries of the past that have never been satisfactorily resolved.

Patrick is the innocent who is identified by his superiors for a specific job and is unwittingly drawn into their spiderweb of lies, confusion and cover-ups. He is an idealistic young man who is keen to stretch his wings and take on the burden of unwinding the muddled threads of the past in an effort to achieve his understanding of justice. His character is complex and interesting as the reader follows his journey from youthful naivety to a gradual realisation that their is no perfect justice or resolution in this world. Men are not perfect and their actions are never performed with any pure intent of either good or evil, but are always a mixture, in varying degrees of both purposes.

Jack Price is highly intelligent and has pulled himself up by his proverbial bootstraps, escaping a hand-to-mouth existence to becoming a leading, albeit controversial, figure in Britain’s intelligence forces. The career limitations imposed on him as a result of his background rankle and influence some of his later decisions resulting in his being manipulated, unknowingly, by others in high places. Jack is determined and dedicated to his cause and has identified Patrick as being a man with the right looks and characteristics to eventually take over from him. Before he makes his exit from his career and life, Jack is intent on solving an old crime from the beginning of world war II. It is unfortunate that some of the information he has is flawed.

The author’s command of English and clever descriptions and depictions make this book a fascinating read although it is not a book you can read without a good measure of concentration. There is a large caste of characters, all of whom add insight into the story and its eventual outcome, so you need to keep your reading wits about you to fully appreciate the intricacies of this complex story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will certainly be reading more books by this author

Read the reviews and buy the books also in audio: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – follow Daniel: Goodreads – Website: Author Danny Kemp – Facebook: Books by Daniel – Twitter:@danielkemp6


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope it has make a good start to your weekend…thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2019 #Prehistoric Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 of the Crossroads Trilogy) by Jacqui Murray

Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

I will be sharing the reviews out of sequence between 2017 – 2020 as some authors have more than one book in the folder…

Today a review from April 2019 for Jacqui Murray – Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 of the Crossroads Trilogy)

About the book

Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, Survival of the Fittest is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion.

Chased by a ruthless enemy, Xhosa leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands following a path laid out decades before by her father, to be followed only as a last resort. She is joined by other fleeing tribes from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant, all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, tragedy, secrets, and Nature itself, Xhosa is forced to face the reality that her enemy doesn’t want to ruin her People. It wants to ruin her.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia, where ‘survival of the fittest’ was not a slogan. It was a destiny. Xhosa’s People were from a violent species, one fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened their lives except for one: future man, a smarter version of themselves, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

My review for Survival of the Fittest – April 17th 2019.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jacqui Murray’s  Born in a Treacherous Time which introduced us to one of the earliest humans, Lucy.  In her latest book Survival of the Fittest, we fast forward to a mere 850,000 years ago, when the earth continues to be extremely unsettled as it goes through its own growing pains.

The dangers are frighteningly and ever present for humans, who are forced to flee, not just environmental perils, but the brutality of invading tribes who want to usurp rivals for the safest caves, and the lands needed to support life.

We meet a woman who is strong and unusually a leader of men. Xhosa has a massive responsibility on her shoulders to take her tribe to safety, as well as find a way to work side by side with other human species that they encounter. She is supported by a warrior who has to fight his own ingrained resistance to a female leader, and along the way she finds good counsel in Pan-do and his daughter who are also fleeing to safety with their tribe. However, at the end of the day, it is she who must decide which path to follow despite resistance from some of her followers.

There is adventure in abundance, since this is not a gentle environment, and one can only admire the strength, courage and intelligence required to navigate all the obstacles that stand between Xhosa, her people, and sanctuary.

The language is straightforward, descriptive and direct, which is appropriate, since at the time communication would have been reliant on body language, sign language and I would imagine a lot of guesswork. Especially as each tribe had different identifiers for the same animals, landscape or danger. But Murray has created a language and a world that we can become immersed and invested in, leaving us with a desire to find out what happens next to these people that have so many of the traits and flaws we understand and see in ourselves. 

The environment has been established and the various groups are poised for the next stage in their development, which 850,000 years into the future led to the humans we are today.

This is what adds an extra element of fascination to the story. These are our ancestors and as we see their struggles, invasions of land, and the thousands fleeing anywhere to call home, it is difficult not to draw parallels with our world today. I am looking forward to reading book II to find out what my ancestors faced next in this trilogy.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray, BuyAmazon US – And: Amazon UK –  Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter@WordDreams

About Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the webmaster for Worddreams, her blog about all things writing. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming prehistoric fiction, Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for Ask a Tech Teacher an Amazon Vine Voice  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to take away with you.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – UnSeasonal Affective Disorder – The Key elements of Activity and People by Sally Cronin

Normally I would refer to Seasonal Affective Disorder in February as the winter months take their toll on our physical, mental and emotional health. However, reading the various reports in the media on Vitamin D Deficiency being one of the causes for susceptibility to Covid-19 and raised concerns on the levels of mental health issues including depression, the comments from readers who are experiencing lack of energy and focus, I began to see some parallels to SAD, but six months ahead of schedule.

In the previous posts I covered some of the causes of SAD, how to get sufficient Vitamin D and Tryptophan and the foods to include on a daily basis to help reduce the likelihood of deficiency.

To help you make sure that you have a diet rich in nutrients to give your body the boost it needs here is a link to a comprehensive shopping list that you can cut and paste and print off: Nutrients the body need – Weekly shopping list

The aim is help prevent the symptoms associated with SAD.. you can find more Part Three

A quick recap – Despite the fact that for some of us access to the outside is restricted we need to make sure we are getting healthy amounts of Vitamin D from sunshine when possible, and the right foods to provide an alternative source. We also need to consume foods that help our bodies produce Tryptophan and B-vitamins to produce essential hormones in the brain – Melatonin and Serotonin.

We have to eat these foods regularly throughout the day.

  • Better to have 6 smaller meals of the right foods than starve all day and then have a big meal at night that cannot be digested and processed by the body.
  • This regularity will also drip feed the essential nutrients into your body, keeping energy levels higher and the neurotransmitters in your brain firing on all cylinders.
  • Avoid taking in high carbohydrate and sweet foods later at night. A cup of warm milk with a small teaspoon of honey before bed will help activate the melatonin to send you to sleep.
  • Sleep is essential and we all need around 8 hours per night to allow the body to recover and repair… and relax.

Despite not having access to the outside and our usual exercise routines and perhaps the lack of motivation, we still need to move the body.

Some of you living in the Southern Hemisphere will be able to enjoy the sunshine outside if you have a garden or safe exercise area, and dependent on restrictions in your area. But even if that is not possible, if you have YouTube there are plenty of online exercise classes for anything from Pilates, Yoga to Zumba. Here are some examples:

Pilates for Beginners: Jessica Valant Pilates

Jane Fonda Latin Dance Workout: Jane Fonda

Chair Zumba: Get fit with Daisy Saunders

Yoga for seniors or beginners: Yoga with Adreine

or you can join in with my favourite instructor…that would be Paco..

Exercising to music actually accomplishes a couple of very important functions as the combination of movement and music stimulates the production of dopamine and activates the reward centres in the brain. (This does not mean you immediately dive into the chocolate and mojitos as soon as you finish!!)

I put on my ipod with my playlists everyday when I am doing chores, preparing meals, doing the gardening and when I am sure no-one is looking I might do the occasional bop… I also am lucky to have a treadmill and this is great for stepping up the pace. Twenty minutes a day with some intervals of increased speeds for a couple of minutes is just about right for me. I feel mentally much more positive afterwards and it also helps keep the lockdown waistline from expanding.

If you do have a garden then nothing like some weeding, mowing the lawn or if there is some winter sunshine and you can exercise in safety in a local park or around the block you will get the additional benefit of some Vitamin D.

It is up to you to find the activities that make you feel good as an individual. All of them if enjoyed, will boost the immune system and release feel good endorphins that will help see you cope with the coming winter months..

We also need the interaction in any way we can manage with our clan… our family and close friends who offer us support, companionship and purpose.

If you are reading this then you and I are the lucky ones. If we are part of this blogging community, or on Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, there is someone awake 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A key strategy for overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder is interaction with others.

Our ancestors as part of a clan would have worked together, sitting by the fires which produced the only light, telling stories, educating the young, working on the first tools and utensils such as the autumn gourds. Even perhaps, making drums from those gourds and producing the first beats of music. I am sure that laughter was part of those dark days and nights as humour cannot just have developed in our modern world. The dynamics of the relationships within the clan can only be imagined because despite all the evidence found, we simply were not there!

The good news is that even if you are separated by thousands of miles or even a few hundred you can still keep in touch with your clan members and friends. The virtual cave we all live in now offers a wonderful opportunity to stay engaged with the world, learn new skills online, have conference calls via Skype or Zoom, catch up with gossip on Twitter or Facebook and communicate.

How do we help those who are not online.

There are those however who do not have access to the Internet and perhaps live alone with only two or three 15 minute carer visits a day. They are at the most risk from both nutritional deficiency being reliant on brought in meals or easy to prepare foods that come out of a tin. Their only company may be the television and for many on a low income there may be other issues such as keeping warm.

Clearly at the moment it is not possible for personal visits with many of those in this situation but they will have a telephone. Perhaps they like to read and need some books, or a phone call once or twice a week to chat. Some shopping done, or would welcome a homemade dinnner. You may already know people in your street or neighbourhood who are in this situation but their are local organisations such as Age UK who welcome volunteers to match up with their vulnerable clients for friendship calls.

The benefit of this is not for just for the person isolated but for the person reaching out.

So that is the last post in the Unseasonal Affective Disorder series and I hope you have found helpful.

However, you cannot just sit passively and wait for all these elements to come together magically. You have to grab with both hands and participate and I hope that the components that I have shared will help you do that.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on


Tales from the Irish Garden – All Hallows Eve – Part One by Sally Cronin

I am sharing two chapters this weekend in celebration of All Hallows Eve from my Tales from the Irish Garden.

All Hallow’s Eve Part One.

You have now met some of the more prominent residents in the magic garden, and forest, but it is now time to meet those who are members of a community of rare and often maligned creatures. Those that write horror stories, delight in scaring young children, (and adults too if truth be known) with blood, decay and things that go bang in the night. Even those who practice the art of healing, are not excused from the propaganda of those who are ignorant and cruel.

The Storyteller had been their protector for centuries, providing them with lands, unwanted by farmers or other locals, where they could live in peace. There was one condition to this arrangement, and that was they must work in harmony with their nearest neighbours in the village of Freakish. Over the last couple of hundred years, an understanding had been reached between the villagers and those who preferred to walk in the shade. I would like you to meet a special friend of the Storyteller who has a tale to tell about Halloween.

Bethany looked around her cosy cottage and smiled with satisfaction. The lanterns around the walls glowed eerily; candlelight flickering through fangs and gaping wounds in the flesh of the pumpkins. The table was laid with fresh baked treats; the result of many hours toiling over her wood stove. A large pot now bubbled away on top of the said appliance. A wonderful aroma of rosemary and thyme filled the air with an enticing promise of tender meat and dumplings.

Of course you could not have a Halloween party without lots of sweet pastries and candies, and these too added atmospheric colour to the festive table. Blood red velvet cupcakes competed with the dark chocolate of the Devil cake, and green whipped cream glistened in a skull shaped bowl.

Her friends would be arriving shortly; making their way carefully along the path in the forest in the dark, and then through the narrow opening in her protective hedge. A woman living alone in a remote cottage needed to be careful of intruders, human and creature. The poisonous oleander was perfect for that purpose; both beautiful and deadly.

Those who were welcome and came to her for remedies, and for the mushrooms that she grew so abundantly in her garden, were given the knowledge of safe passage. Those who were uninvited or strangers, were warned by a sign along the path; ‘Minefield’. That usually did the trick!

Bethany turned her attention to her outfit. She loved her little black dress that came out for parties. For her age she had very good legs, even though she said so herself, and whilst her hips were a little wider than they used to be, she still looked spell-binding. She laughed to herself; her cat Cecil stirred and stood up from his preferred position in front of the wood stove. She walked across, stroking his arched back as he wound around her aforementioned legs as if agreeing with her assessment.

‘I hope you’ve rested up Cecil, it will be a very busy night,’ she gently massaged the cat under his chin. ‘Lots to do yet before the guests arrive so we had better get a move on.’

The cat moved over to the red velvet sofa and leapt nimbly up onto the soft cushions. With his paws tucked beneath him, and a gleam in his eyes, he watched as his mistress continued her preparations.

The first to arrive, as the sun set below the mountain behind the cottage, was Viktor looking stunning in a black velvet tuxedo with a cape that swung from his shoulders. He walked in without knocking as was his want, and did a twirl just inside the door.

“What do you think you ravishing creature,’ he flashed his pearly white fangs. ‘Do I look terrifying or just incredibly handsome?’

Bethany cocked her head to one side and felt a slight stirring of interest. No, best not go there as it would only end in tears; hers. Besides it was probably the result of drinking too much ginger and honey-mead whilst she was putting on her makeup. She thought she had overdone the potent root a little and it tended to make you feel a little saucy.

She went over and gave Viktor a hug. ‘You look stunning as always my friend,’ extinguishing the look of yearning in his eyes as she emphasized the status of their relationship.

He smiled ruefully. ‘The others are right behind me all dressed up in their most appropriate Halloween finery,’ he laughed as his fangs flashed in the lamplight. ‘We will certainly give the villagers their money’s worth this year.

Just then the door was pushed open and her other friends arrived in a group. Zenia and Zoran in their decaying Zombie outfits emerged into the room first; emanating an aroma that competed with the smell of the stew rather unfavourably.

Bethany wrinkled her nose and reached behind her for her homemade deodoriser made from geranium and peppermint. The two lovers entwined their bony fingers protruding from the end of their tattered costumes, and oblivious to the mist of floral scents that encased them, went over to admire the food laden table.

Behind them came her best friend. Geraldine was not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination but she was the life and soul of the party. Bubbly and a teller of tall tales, she was not in the slightest bit ghoulish as her makeup and costume would suggest. Bethany gave her a huge hug and stroked her friend’s green and red highlighted long hair.

‘Ger… You look stunning tonight,’ she stepped back to admire the entire ensemble. ‘That purple and blood stained dress suits you so well.’

Arm in arm the two women headed for their other friends who were already sipping mead and chatting away by the table. As the evening wore on, the food, and probably too much elderberry wine, was enjoyed. Laughter filled the small cottage as their plans for this Halloween night were discussed and enhanced.

As the clock struck nine times, Bethany clinked her empty glass and called for order. With some delay her friends ceased their inebriated conversations and stood waiting for her pronouncement.

‘It is time good friends, to wend our way through the oleander and the forest to the village and pay our respects. You know the terms of our agreement with these good people. We live safely here amongst them, but we must, this one night within the twelve months, frighten the life out of them, so that they appreciate the lives that they have for the rest of the year.’

Costumes were straightened and her friends assumed their most fitting expressions for the occasion. Glasses were put down on the table and one by one they filed past Bethany who was now holding the front door open to the cold night air. Apart from Zenia who gave a little hiccup as she passed by, the group was silent.

However as Viktor sidled past he flashed his fangs at Bethany and whispered close to her delicately pointed ear. ‘You needn’t think that clove of garlic on a chain around your neck is going to stop me.’

Bethany smacked him on his shoulder and he laughed as he exited the cottage.

Exasperated, but not totally immune to his charms, his proposed conquest moved to the cupboard by the door and extracted her broom. Checking that her hat was on straight, she draped a long cloak over her mini-dress and turned to the red sofa.

‘Come along Cecil, you lazy moggy, hop on; we have places to be and fun to be had’.

©Sally Cronin image Tales from the Irish Garden.

To find out just how the friends will frighten the life out of the villagers.. tune in tomorrow

You can read recent reviews for all my books: My books and reviews


A party for mom’s birthday

Whilst we might not have been able to participate in person at the birthday party of Robbie’s mom over the weekend, we were treated to a post on the amazing cake that Robbie created with several elements to celebrate the occasion. At this time with restricted visitations for most of us, it is still lovely to do as much as possible to celebrate these special moments… Robbie does just that..

Robbie's inspiration

Last week it was my mother’s 82nd birthday and we celebrated with a family gathering for lunch on Saturday. This is the first time our family has gathered since the lockdown started on 26 March and it was a welcome and delightful day. Everyone had a wonderful time and ate and drank and enjoyed themselves.

We decided on a 1960s themed event and the table was laid with colourful cloth overlays depicting flowers. The paper napkins were also colourful and matched the clothes.

I made a portable record player in a box cake in a flower garden.

Picture of the entire cake

Close up of the record player cake

Close up of the Gazania cupcakes

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Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – October 29th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Halloween Special

Firstly, with the results of sleuthing on the Internet are some funnies from Debby Gies followed by some jokes from Sally.

D.G. Writes is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

Thanks to Debby for finding these treasures… please give her a round of applause..

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK    BlogD.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads –  Twitter: @pokercubster

Check out Debby’s series here on Smorgasbord  D.G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships 2020

Now for my favourite Halloween movie.. (those of a nervous disposition look away now!)


Happy Halloween from us both, and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face.. no trick or treating in Ireland because of Covid so I guess I will just have to eat all that candy myself!