Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Author in the Cafe – #Historical #Fantasy – The Year the Swans Came by Barbara Spencer

Very pleased to welcome Barbara Spencer to the Cafe and Bookstore with her books. Today I am featuring the historical fantasy –  The Year the Swans Came.

About the book

Growing up amidst the ruins of war, four children play among the bridges and cobblestone walkways of an old city, using them as a backdrop for their games. Pieter Bader, the eldest, wants nothing more than to work with their father in the family business, designers of mirrors for royalty since the 17th century, while his young sister, Maidy, dreams of becoming a writer. She has her own special bridge, the smallest in the city, around which she weaves stories of swashbuckling pirates and princesses, dressed all in silver, who wear sandals made from the silken thread of a spider’s web. Her best friend is Ruth, a young Jewish girl whose family returned to the city as refugees after the war. Slightly the older, and both rich and very beautiful, Ruth dreams of marrying Pieter, only for him to vanish from their lives late one night.

Is his disappearance linked to the arrival of the swans, feared as cursed and birds of ill-fortune? What will happen when they return six years later, on the morning of Maidy’s sixteenth birthday? And who exactly is the charismatic and mysterious Zande? Follow Ruth and Maidy’s cursed tale of love as they discover what happened to Pieter, how the appearance of Zande will affect both their lives, unleashing events as tragic and fantastical as one of Maidy’s stories

The Year the Swans Came won Bronze in the Coffee Pot Book Cllub Book of the Year Awards for Historical Fantasy.

One of the five star reviews for the book

Amazon Customer VINE VOICE  5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!  Reviewed in the United States

The Year the Swans Came” was a beautifully-written, compelling story with truly unforgettable characters. This historical fiction with elements of fantasy/supernatural essentially dwells on the two subjects that run parallel in this novel – love and friendship – and on the importance of both as the consequences of one wrong decision may be indeed deadly. I absolutely loved the central heroine, Maidy, and I grew to actively dislike her “best friend,” Ruth. Both coping with the aftermath of the war and their small town rebuilding its life, they differ greatly personality-wise, which eventually leads to a rapt between the two and inevitable tragedy. The mystery surrounding the swans, even though it mostly takes place in the very end, added even more to an already fascinating story, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’d definitely recommend it. Great read.

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

A selection of other books by Barbara Spencer

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Barbara: Goodreads

About Barbara Spencer

In 1967, Barbara Spencer hi-tailed it to the West Indies to watch cricket, the precursor to a highly colourful career spanning three continents, in which she was caught up in riots, wars, and choosing Miss World.

A regular visitor to both primary and secondary schools, in 2010, the publication of Running, a Y/A thriller, took Barbara countrywide, her travels eliciting a series of Blogs and short stories which were published in 2017 as Age and the Antique Sideboard. This marked her retirement from writing, since when Barbara has written several books for an older audience.

The first of these, The Year the Swans Came, a magical fairytale for adults/top teens, was published at the end of 2018.

Connect to Barbara Spencer: Blog: Barbara Spencer Author – Twitter: @BarbaraSpencerO – Facebook: Barbara Spencer Author – Facebook: Barbara Spencer


Thanks for dropping by today and it would be great if your could share Barbara’s books.. thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Romance Olga Nunez Miret, #WWII Marina Osipova, #Psychologicalthriller Toni Pike

Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore that would make great gifts for family and friends.

The first book today is by multi-genre author Olga Nunez Miret and is a light-hearted look at reality baking show and the behind the scenes drama. I Love Your Cupcakes.

About the book

Dulce, Adelfa and Storm, the protagonists of I Love Your Cupcakes are business partners, friends and share some “interesting” family connections. All the men Dulce meets only want to talk about her cakes and she’s tired of it. Her friend Adelfa, although she’s a Chemistry Professor, can’t manage to find the recipe for the perfect relationship. And Storm, the third of the partners of their bakery/coffee shop/bookshop/art gallery and ex-fire station, is an artist who is not a master in the art of love. How could they imagine that at the studio of the contest “Do You Have What it Takes to Be the Next Baking Star?” they’d find sexual harassment, cheats, fights and also love? Recipes included (only for cakes, not love!)

A recent review for the book by Rosie Amber Review Team member Tovia Inokoba 18th November 2020

Where there are cakes, there’s sure to be romance. I love your cupcakes is a work of fiction that envelops you in the sugary webs of both sensational romance and astounding baking.

It’s a book centered on three like-minded creatives; Dulcina or Dulce who is every bit as sweet as her name implies is a lover of books and the goddess of flavors, Adelfa whose chemistry skills have not only brought her fame amongst intellectuals but has also made her a mastermind at calculating measurements and what not in the kitchen and last but not the least; Storm whose creativity and computer genius always has everyone in awe and his looks goes without saying as I would have swooned myself if he didn’t play for the other team. These three creatives teamed up to create what they would later come to know as Literally Literary Cupcakes and Cakes shop. Not only was Storm a creative genius and a computer wizard, he was also a spontaneous force to be reckoned with as it was him who got them into the ‘’Do you have what it takes to be the next baking star?’’ contest where they may or may not have found love.

This author uses flashbacks which such ease and synergy that it’s commendable. She’s able to tell the story with a seamless description and a diction that makes it easy to comprehend. If you’re a fan of romance as well as sugary treats then this sweet romance is definitely for you.

Will Dulce, Adelfa and Storm rise up to the task and prove that they have what it takes to be the next baking star or will dirty Harry be the end of them?

If you are nuts about TV cookery programs and think chocolate is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, keep reading…

I Love Your Cupcakes is a “sweet” romance, a virtual fantasy high in calories and a fun adventure. Dare to give it a bite!

Dulce, Adelfa and Storm, the protagonists of I Love Your Cupcakes are business partners, friends and share some “interesting” family connections.

 Read the reviews and buy the book in English and other languagesAmazon USAnd: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Olga Nunez Miret


Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – and: Amazon US – Blog: Olga Nunez Miret Author Translator Goodreads: Olga on GoodreadsTwitter- @OlgaNM7

The next author today is Marina Osipova who writes gritty stories about love in wartime including her most recent – Too Many Wolves in the Local Woods

About the book

Two unlikely women with a shared history, two different turns of fate.

The end of the 1930s. The specter of twisted paranoia of Stalin’s unrelenting dictatorship continues to tighten over the Soviet Union. NKVD, the country’s secret police, coerces University graduate Ursula Kriegshammer, a Soviet Volga German with special skills, into serving this regime.

Natasha Ivanova, a worker at a metal plant in Vitebsk, a city at the western border of the

When in 1941 the German Army invades Byelorussia, both women seem to be helping the cause to fight the ruthless occupiers. But when their paths cross, tragedy strikes and one must carry the burden of guilt. Will she ever find peace with herself and the way out of the trap fate prepared for her?

Years later, the daughter of one of them launches on a quest to uncover the heroic nature of her mother’s role in WWII, only to discover a heart-shattering revelation of her own parentage.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Sep 02, 2020 Kathryn Gauci rated it Five Stars

A page turner from the very beginning. The author’s research and knowledge of the region is evident from the beginning. Soviet partisans are forced to play a double game in order to find out who of their own are collaborating with the Germans. While this is a common thread in all areas of Nazi-occupied countries, it was something new for me to read about what took place in Byelorussia. It is a page turner as danger lurks every minute of the day – from both the Germans and the Soviets. I loved the twists and turns this story took and the way the author portrayed the human side of both sides. The characters were well-drawn and no-one could be sure if the person they knew was playing a double game or not. Some made it, some didn’t. Highly recommended.

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

Other books by Marina Osipova

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And on: Amazon UK –  follow Marina : Goodreads –  website:Marina OsipovaTwitter: @marosikok

Now something for fans of psychological thrillers from Toni PikeDesolation Bluff.. Toni also has a book in the Children’s Cafe.

About the book

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Rachel to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.

A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

A recent review for the book

Pete Springer 4.0 out of 5 stars Fast moving and suspenseful from start to finish  Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2020

Oliver Cameron writes popular romance novels under the pen name of Fidel Amore. What makes Oliver’s success as an author more impressive is how it happens. After falling from a tree as a young boy, Oliver loses his vision. He amazingly overcomes his disability and becomes a prolific writer.

Since Oliver prefers to live in seclusion and concentrate on writing, the people around him develop a plan to further his financial success. Elizabeth Townsend, the senior editor at a publishing company, introduces Oliver to Vanessa and her friend, Ray. They develop a scheme where the handsome playboy, Ray, poses as Fidel to attract more female followers. Oliver can concentrate on writing while the others can focus on marketing Fidel. The formula works well as Oliver churns out four books per year that achieve excellent sales

Oliver and Vanessa mary, but Ray and Vanessa are having a steamy affair behind the scenes. When Oliver finds out, Toni Pike’s well-crafted story becomes even more intriguing and fast-paced. The writing is excellent, and this book is a page-turner from cover to cover. The ending is quite satisfying, as well. About my only issue with this excellent book were a couple of moments of implausibility. This was the first book I’ve read by Pike, but it won’t be the last

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

Other books by Toni Pike

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK –  Follow Toni:Goodreads – Website: Toni PikeTwitter: @piketoni1


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards, #Paranormalthriller D.L. Finn, #Vaudeville Elizabeth Gauffreau

Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author today is Mary Anne Edwards with a review for the first book her mystery series and a look at the new covers for the books – Brilliant Disguise: A Charlie McClung Mystery (The Charlie McClung Mysteries Book 1)

About the book

Are you sure you could tell the difference between murder and suicide?

Having had more than enough of the big city, Detective Charlie McClung moves to a small town looking for a simpler life.

Turns out his first case is the most complicated of his career.

A young woman is found shot and while everyone is telling him suicide, his gut, and the dead woman’s beautiful neighbor, are telling him something quite different.

How far can he dig before he uncovers secrets never meant to be unearthed? Throw in a shady police chief and an unexpected love interest and McClung quickly finds himself with more trouble than he ever imagined.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Philip Michael Cooper 5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner…I couldn’t put the book down  Reviewed in the United States on October 17, 2020

This is a fantastic first book by an author I had not read before. It is a story that keeps you guessing to the very last chapter. The two protagonists Charlie McClung and Marian are very realistic and you can feel the bond between them. This book could be have been written by Agatha Christie with its twists and turns, touches of humor, and added clean romance. Certainly one of the best murder mysteries I have read. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit.

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

Also by Mary Anne Edwards

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – andAmazon UK Follow Mary Anne on: Goodreads – Website: Mary Anne Edwards Twitter: @maedwards58

The next author is a recent edition to the Cafe and Bookstore with her books D.L. Finn with her most recent release, a paranormal thriller – This Last Chance. 

About the Book

Six months after Amber’s sister is brutally murdered, she’s still looking for answers, and now someone is stalking her and no one believes her. Home alone with a powerful snowstorm approaching, Amber is determined to take control of the investigation by hiring a private detective, but her plans are disrupted when she finds herself snowed in with people she may not be able to trust. Meanwhile, Nester the evildwel, whose entire existence has been feeding on fear and pain, is seeking help from the angel who’s protecting Amber. Nester and Amber need answers. Can Amber figure out what’s going on with some subtle help from an angel? Will Nester find what he needs from his enemies? The worlds of good and evil clash, and the outcome will determine not only Amber’s and Nester’s fate but life as they know it.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Balroop Singh 4.0 out of 5 stars A unique murder mystery  Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2020

This Last Chance by D.L. Finn explores a unique connection between Angels, evildwels and humans. The story underlines the fact that love eventually vanquishes evil. I marvel at the descriptive details about the Angels and their efforts to protect us from those who might harm us. Finn builds up suspense right in the beginning; it continues to grow and a nagging tension keeps you riveted to hear the outcome. A snowy and cold backdrop adds another dimension to the murder of Amber’s sister and her own safety.

Amber’s character is admirable, as she is observant, amiable and brave. She resolves to solve the mystery of her sister’s murder despite all the scary signs of being followed. Her patience and grit in the moment of crisis is remarkable. Even Angels love her. Nester too is drawn to Amber, he struggles to communicate with the winged ones but is scared of being overheard by an evildwel. His transformation is another amazing aspect of the story. I wonder how Finn could convert it into a feel good story despite the anxious moments. Highly recommended.

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

A selection of other books by D.L. Finn

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow D.L. Finn: Goodreads – Website: D.L. Finn Author –  Facebook: D.L. Finn Author – Twitter: @dlfinnauthor

The next book today is Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau, a wonderful novel about Vaudeville in the 1920s and the story of life and love on the road. One I can highly recommend.

About Telling Sonny

At nineteen, pretty, vivacious Faby Gagne is still waiting for her life to begin. The time is 1924, the place Enosburg Falls, Vermont. With school over, her time is now occupied with mundane chores and avoiding the crossfire of resentment between her mother and her grandmother.

As the time approaches for the annual vaudeville show to arrive in the village, Faby watches the posters go up with increasing excitement. She is the best kind of audience for the Small Time: she does not discriminate.

When the show comes to the Opera House at last, Faby catches the eye of charming hoofer Slim White, who sets a course for her life that she never could have imagined.

A recent review for the book

James White 5.0 out of 5 stars Telling Sonny is romance, adventure and history  Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2020

Author Elizabeth Gauffreau resurrects the forgotten childhood fantasy of running away to join the circus with a twist in her novel, Telling Sonny.

Set in America’s idyllic early 20th century, a time of outwardly polite courtesies and thoughtfulness, Telling Sonny follows a young girl’s tragic fall from respectability to a life of white-knuckled survival among society’s counter-culture of traveling vaudeville entertainers.

Young Faby Gauthier, fresh out of high school wonders what’s to become of her life when the annual vaudeville show comes to her home town of Enosburg, Vermont.

Despite the drab setting in the Enosburg’s Opera House, Faby, accompanied by her sister and best friend, Josephine, is captivated by that year’s cavalcade of acts especially a song and dance number done by ‘America’s Favorite Hoofer,’ a tall, lanky fella known by his stage name, Slim White.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – follow Elizabeth: Goodreads – Website/blog: Liz Gauffreau – Family History: Liz Gauffreau – Facebook: Liz Gauffreau – Twitter: @lgauffreau


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this latest selection of books in the Christmas Book Fair.. thanks Sally.

A non-fiction selection box

Jessica Norrie introduces us to some thought provoking non-fiction reads that she recommends.. They cover a diverse range of subjects including the human body, race, Jack the Ripper’s victims, the royal family and the law… Sounds like a great gift package for those who enjoy exploring today’s issues in more depth than the sensational media headlines..#recommended

Words and Fictions

I mostly get my non-fiction fixes from news and media, but by mid 2020 I’d become tired of Covid related items. I wanted more varied food for thought, and entertainment. Also Novel 3, despite wonderful, polite, positive comments (“a beautiful and bracing read” said an editor from one top publisher) wasn’t finding a contract. I needed to reconsider what makes a book readable and saleable, whatever the subject. So I turned to five popular non-fiction bestsellers published or revised since 2018.

In my school chemistry and biology lessons, I pushed worms aimlessly round Petri dishes, larked about with Bunsen burners and stayed ignorant. Now being stalked by Covid rang alarm bells. I’ve passed (my) existence in this warm wobble of flesh and yet taken it almost entirely for granted. It was time I learned how my body works and I decided Bill Bryson’s The Body: A Guide…

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life’s Rich Tapestry – #Fantasy- The Enhancement Project by Sally Cronin

I have a new collection of poetry and short stories coming out later in the year, and as Life’s Rich Tapestry is now one year old, I thought I would share some stories from the collection over the next few weeks. This story was inspired by the photo prompt as part of a challenge curated by author D.Wallace Peach on her blog: Myths of the Mirror

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner

The Enhancement Project

They had been working through the night to save his life. The atmosphere in the operating theatre was one of frenzied concentration, with only clipped instructions from the lead surgeon as he worked to stem the bleeding. Scrub nurses moved around the three doctors in an orchestrated dance, slapping instruments into waiting hands, or wiping a brow of its sweat.

Doctor Shanda Graham watched from the gallery and clenched her hands in front of her. If she was religious she would have prayed, but all she could do was focus on the skill and experience of the surgeons working on the man on the table. His enhanced body armour had protected him from the blast on his right side and his robotic arm was undamaged. However, he had extensive and catastrophic injuries to the left side of his head that had likely caused severe brain damage.

Shanda had been part of the cyborg project for the last five years, designing and implementing the enhancements to the selected participants of the project. All were members of elite military units who had been severely injured in combat, and following the world war of 2080, there had been no shortage of applicants. They were men and women ideal for the task, being physically and mentally honed for war, and now for the protection of the survivors from remaining external threats and those closer to home.

Solar power had been installed across the city rooftops in 2050 and with foresight the governing body had stockpiled medicines and other essential staples in the years leading up to the final conflict. However, strict rationing was in place and this had created a criminal element that was determined to take control of the dwindling supplies. Unlike the rest of the population, striving to survive peacefully, they were unwilling to participate in the projects that brought water and food to the 50,000 inhabitants of the city; taking what they needed with violence instead.

The streets of the city were unsafe to wander, as roaming gangs preyed on anyone careless enough to be caught out after dark. During the day, the ringleaders and their followers, barricaded themselves into the high rise office blocks, vacated when the world markets crashed, and financial institutions ceased to exist overnight.

To counter this threat to the lives of the people in their care, the city elders had formed a civilian militia from adults over the age of sixteen who were not employed in other essential work. Each unit was commanded by a six man team from the Cyborg regiment who undertook the training needed for the militia to be effective. This strategy had been partially successful, as even the feral gangs feared the enhanced capabilities of the Cyborgs.

However, the battles for the streets were fierce, especially as the gangs had obtained discarded weapons in the early days following the war, when the city was in chaos.
Until tonight the governing body had thought that they were making progress in clearing the city of this threat to peace. The present riot had begun outside one of the food growing centres that had been established in all the former green areas of the city. Heavy metal fencing and guard towers protected each unit, and the thousands of citizens who would arrive each morning to work the fields and water processing plants above the aquifer deep underground. Workers were unpaid but had identification chips in their arms that entitled them to enough food for themselves and their families.

As the gangs were not eligible for the chips, and the water and food they guaranteed, attacks in the green zones were frequent and often bloody. As work in the processing plants went on day and night, citizens were at increased risk coming and going from work, and cyborg units were stepped up to protect the perimeters of the compounds and in the main streets.

The commander of the cyborg regiment was Colonel Brandon Saks, and he had been the first of the enhanced humans that the implementation team had transformed. He had been a special forces major, on the front line with his team in the final battles of the war. Severely injured, he lost not only his right arm, but also a considerable amount of his rib cage. Robotic prosthetics had already been employed for over fifty years, with military personnel acting as guinea pigs. The advancements in that time had been extraordinary, and confidence was high that continuing the project would save the lives of experienced soldiers who would be needed to survive post war.

As one of the senior surgeons undertaking the ambitious project, Shanda had focused her attention on the progress of the first of their participants; the handsome and stoic Major Saks. This led to a closeness that was not permitted, as fraternisation with patients was strictly forbidden. Over the many months that he was in recovery and re-training, they had fallen in love. They had to keep it secret even when he moved into his role as head of the militia, as technically he was still a participant of the project under her continued care. Five years later they still only met infrequently when their duties permitted, in safe houses dotted around the city.

As she thought about his smile and touch, Shanda buried her head in her hands, knowing with his head injuries he would be lucky to wake up, let alone have his memories intact.She stood, resting her hands on the glass of the gallery, looking down into the operating theatre, to see the lead surgeon stand back from the table and turn away. Brandon was alive, but Shanda could see that he now carried a great deal more metal on his left side, reaching from his chin to his forehead. Clearly there had been no way to reconstruct his face and skull with organic material. It was now a question of time and healing, and they would not know the extent of the brain damage until they woke him from an induced coma.

She walked passed the staff in the dimly lit corridor to the intensive care unit, nodding at the doctor in charge, approaching the raised bed where Brandon lay attached to tubes and monitors. They would expect her to be there, having been part of the team that had completed the original enhancement and worked with him so closely; she sat on a stool and reached out to hold his remaining hand.

The battle to rid the city of the feral gangs raged for the next four weeks. Fuelled by anger, the militia and their cyborg commanders were driven to succeed in honour of their fallen commander. Their orders were not to kill unless unavoidable, but to expel those who had committed violence outside the city walls; to fend for themselves in the wastelands. In some cases however, when brought before the magistrates, younger men and women, who had not participated in the violence of the insurrection, were given the option to join the militia or the food plant workers.

In the intensive care unit, Colonel Saks was considered healed enough to be brought out of his coma and to have his brain damage assessed. Shanda had been at his bedside every minute she was not working, and there were knowing looks between the medical staff at this devotion. But she didn’t care. It was time that everyone knew how she felt about this handsome and extraordinary man, and she would bear the consequences.

She stood in the corner of the room as the surgeon checked the new enhancements one more time for infection or instability. Satisfied he motioned for the sedation to be lightened and watched the monitors as his patient resurfaced into the world again. Shanda closed her eyes and held her breath, convinced that the man she loved was gone from her completely.

Then she heard a sound, and looked up to see that the surgeon had turned to look at her, as had all the medical staff. He was smiling and as her eyes moved to the man lying in the bed; she could see him looking at her, saw his lips moving, and above the rapid beating of her heart, heard him say her name.

©Sally Cronin 2019

About Life’s RichTapestry: Woven in Words.

Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.

Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.

This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.

John Maberry – 31st October 2020Reviews of five books we recommend.

My review of Sally Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words, is short. We will add a few lines from the book after the review, for your consideration. 

The book lives up to its title–indeed, Sally Cronin has woven a rich tapestry of life in words of many kinds. A variety of poetry–in forms unfamiliar in name to me, microfiction and short stories. What’s more, the graphic imagery of the short poems is inspiring to a person like me who has never really found poetry either appealing or easily understood. This time, for a change, the words grabbed me. I found meaningful passages that could be useful as well in prose writing as in poetry. Examples I must return to in settings or other places where showing and not telling is essential.

The microfiction and short stories were equally compelling. [As noted in the promo for the book coming up next from Eagle Peak Press, we will consider a combination of ingredients as Sally Cronin did—and more in this book]. She is a writer worth reading.

Here a poetry excerpt (not necessarily representative of the content of the whole):


“Memories are sharp

and as clear as the blue sky

smiles etched on my heart.”

Or consider this brief excerpt from the intro to a short story titled, “The Junkyard Dog.”

“Charlie was a junkyard dog and had the scars to prove it. He was head of security of this fenced off mass of scrap metal, dotted with mounds of old tyres he called home, and he took his job very seriously.”

Amazon £3.50 :Amazon UK – Amazon US $4.53: Amazon US

A selection of other books


Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow Sally:Goodreads – Blog: Smorgasbord InvitationTwitter: @sgc58
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed these stories from Life’s Rich Tapestry.. as always your feedback is much appreciated.. Sally.


Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Haiti #Thriller – Vanished by Mark Bierman

This week I have been reading Vanished the debut thriller set in Haiti by Mark Bierman.

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.

My review for the book 28th November 2020

This book is a challenging read, not because of how it is written, but the subject matter. We tend to picture islands in the Caribbean as having sun swept sandy beaches, luxury accommodation and smiling faces of the inhabitants, happy to see tourists pouring into their paradise. However Haiti has had centuries of political, economic and social unrest and suffered devastating natural disasters. Following one such event, the earthquake in 2010, thousands of men, women and children were killed and many more thousands were left homeless. The population is left reliant on assistance from the outside world, including volunteers to help them rebuild. However, as well as the suffering caused by this natural disaster, there is  an underlying evil that thrives on misery, and manipulates parents in dire straits, to offer up their children under the pretense of a better life.

Two Americans Tyler and his father-in-law John Webster arrive on the island following a tragedy of their own, with the loss of Joy, Tyler’s wife and John’s daughter from cancer. Hopeful that the physical labour of helping to construct an orphanage, will bring them both a measure of peace, they find themselves caught up in the violent world of the human traffickers preying on children in particular. From mines to plantations the trade in cheap slave labour is thriving, and it is manned by thugs with money the motivator.

In a desperate search across the mountainous interior of the country, and forced to form alliances with those they cannot trust, and in some cases with those wishing them violence, the two men seek one child among thousands. Their story runs in parallel with heartrending accounts of others who have been caught up in the trafficking, who seek to escape, often at the expense of their lives.

The author has created strong characters across the spectrum of good vs. evil, and the story maintains its pace throughout the book. The mission Tyler and John have undertaken hurtles towards a violent climax, and consequences that will need to be faced. A thought provoking thriller that serves as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a kinder world.

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

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

About Mark Bierman

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.

Read the reviews and buy the bookAmazon US – And : Amazon UKFollow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed my review of Vanished by Mark Bierman… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Author – I’m Going to My First Comic Convention by Candy Keane

Delighted to welcome a new author to the Children’s Cafe Candy Keane and her new release I’m Going to My First Comic Convention

About the book

An illustrated children’s book about a little boy excited to attend his first pop-culture comic con and all the fun things he will get to see. Whether its a stroll through Artist’s Alley, meeting celebrities, or choosing a cosplay for the big day, there’s plenty to see and do at the convention! Written for kids, but also a good resource for parents who might wonder what goes on at a comic con type event.

One of the recent reviews for the book

heather king 5.0 out of 5 stars Nerdy fun to start your child reading.  Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2020

Cute book for your little. Colorful look into what to expect at a comic convention. My son likes trying to “read” this to me. Easy rhyming words to start your child reading.

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

About Candy Keane

Candy Keane is a former professional costumier and cosplayer, turned author and blogger. For over a decade she made custom costumes for cosplay, TV and movies in her Three Muses Inspired Clothing boutique. After the birth of her son in 2015, she decided to close her store to concentrate on family and writing projects. She now writes about “geek mom life” on her blog Her first children’s book, I’m Going to My First Comic Convention, was inspired by her son and her experiences at comic cons across the nation.

Author Pages: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK- Follow Candy: Goodreads

Connect to Candy: Blog:  Facebook: Geek Mamas Blog – Twitter: @sewgeekmama – Instagram: Sewgeekmama


Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Candy’s book.. Sally.

#WATWB – Toronto Carpenter is Building Insulated Shelters for the Homeless – Goodnet

We are the World Blogfest

Debby Gies spreads the positive news story as part of #WATWB about a determined young Toronto carpenter who is building insulated shelters for the homeless facing a harsh winter. Head over to find out more about this good hearted samaritan.


#WATWB, We are the World Blogfest, #RandomActsofKindness, Tiny house personal shelters for the #Homeless

Source: #WATWB – Toronto Carpenter is Building Insulated Shelters for the Homeless – Goodnet

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Milestones Along the Way – #Ireland #Waterford – How I met Joan by Geoff Cronin

Following on from The Colour of Life, my father-in-law Geoff Cronin wrote two more books with stories of life in Waterford and Dublin from the 1930s. He collected the stories on his travels, swapping them with others in return for his own and then treating us to the results of the exchange. Geoff also added some jokes overheard just for the Craic…Over the next few weeks I will be sharing selected stories from  Milestones Along the Way.

This week how Geoff met David’s mother Joan … a wonderful mother-in-law with an infectious laugh and much kindness.

How I Met Joan

In the summer of 1944 I joined the boat club in Waterford. The headquarters of this club was situated on the Kilkenny side of the river Suir, opposite the Adelphi hotel. It was a wooden building and it was painted white and green and it housed several outriggers. These boats would be approximately 60 to 70 feet long and could be carried easily by eight men.

The club could be reached from Waterford by walking along the quay, across the bridge and down on the Kilkenny side of the river – which was would have taken a considerable length of walking time. But, for convenience sake, a member of the club could stand on the Waterford side of the bridge and whistle or signal to the boat club who would send a punt across the river to ferry the member over to the club.

In those years, my brother Dick, who was an expert musician, ran a small dance band, consisting of himself on the accordion, Ken McKinnon on tenor sax and Peerie White (The Gunner) on drums. They played for small club dances around the town. Well, my brother secured a booking to play at Sunday night ‘Hops’ in the boat club and, being a member, I always supported those dances for the joint reason that my brother was in charge of the band, and I was a member of the club.

About this time, I had returned from working in a timber gang, where I developed a considerable amount of muscle, I was also in the boxing club where I did not meet with great success, being too short in stature for my weight. Nevertheless, I stripped out at eleven stone and felt somewhat invincible.

In those days, anyone who had a respectable job went to work in a collar and tie, long-sleeve shirt which usually boasted some kind of cuff-links, and I was no exception. So, on attending the boat-club dance one particular Sunday night, I took off my coat and rolled up my sleeves until the fold was well above the biceps. This allowed me to show off my muscles and at the same time display my doubtful dancing prowess. I was at that age when, as they say, ‘a young man’s fancy turns to love’ and I had my eye on Joan Flanagan. Now this girl was probably the best looking girl in the in the city and I liked the way she walked with a very straight back, and when she looked at you her gaze was steady, and I was quite smitten.

However Joan was three years older than I was and I felt that she was beyond my reach. Imagine my surprise therefore when at this particular Sunday night dance she walked into the ballroom accompanied by a fellow who had been my junior at school and I felt a surge of anger the like of which I have not had felt since or before.

She was still taking her coat off when I walked up to her and asked her would she like to dance. This was very rude of me, really, but she agreed and we had a nice couple of rounds of the floor. During that time I was racking my brains to think how I might “anchor” the conversation.


Joan Flanagan, 1944

Joan Cronin, 1959

Again, on impulse, I said to her “by the way, do you do the Tango”? Now, to be honest, I hadn’t a clue how to do the Tango but I knew that she was interested in dancing because her cousin ran a dance studio and had a very large clientele.

Anyway, she said, “No I don’t do the Tango” but I wouldn’t mind learning.

Well, I said, “I’ve been taking lessons,” which was a downright lie, “and if you would like to come to the Atlantic, in Tramore, with me on, let’s say, on Thursday night of this week, and I can show you what I know and we could practice together.

So, she smiled deliberately at me and she said, “Well, yes, that would be nice.”

“OK,” I said. “I’ll see you on Thursday.”

Now, that was okay and to some extent it was a bit of a victory for me. But from that moment on her escort guarded her as if she was Fort Knox, and I realised that I hadn’t made any firm arrangement where to meet her, or how to get to Tramore, or whatever, and I was at pains to get back to speak to her again and I couldn’t because he kept hovering over her and blocking my entrance. Anyway, the dance came to a close and I was in a corner there, getting ready to put on my coat and I turned down the sleeves of my shirt and my cuff-links were dangling off the end of the shirt. And as I saw her getting ready to leave I went the length of the ballroom and I confronted her and I said to her, “Joan, listen, could you help me with something?”

“Yes,” she said. “What is it?”

And I said, “Joan, would you ever fix my cuff-links, I can’t get them right?”

So she smiled at me and began to fix my cuff-links.

And then I looked her straight in the face, and she looked back at me, and I felt myself sinking into those grey eyes with the feeling that I never had before. And I’m sure the angels felt a bang when I hit the ground, because I fell for her hook, line and sinker.

So, I arranged to meet her at the train station – there was a train to Tramore on a regular basis at that time – and we went to the Atlantic ballroom in Tramore together on the train, and back again and we had a most enjoyable evening. I arranged a further date with her and that continued on for four years and at the end of four years we were married.

In all we spent 50 years together, the happiest time of my life and in all that time we never had a cross word. So, there you are, that is the story of How I Met Her.


After a certain funeral, the following conversation took place:-
“So, how did the funeral go?”
“Oh, there was a big crowd there, but still it wasn’t great.”
“How’s that?”
“Well, at the graveside Jimmy Walsh tripped on a kerb and fell and broke his leg and spoiled the day for everyone.”

©Geoff Cronin 2008

Geoff Cronin 1923 – 2017

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of stories from Geoff and I will be sharing more in the New Year.. thanks Sally.