About Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

My name is Sally Cronin and I am doing what I love.. Writing. Books, short stories, Haiku and blog posts. . I move between non-fiction health books and posts and fairy stories, romance and humour. I love variety which is why I called my blog Smorgasbord Invitation and you will find a wide range of subjects. Free Book Marketing, Music, Health, Book Reviews, Short Stories, Poetry and Humour. Find out more at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-me/

Smorgasbord Short stories Rewind – What’s in a Name? – Volume One – George – Courting danger by Sally Cronin


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

George – Courting Danger

George Horsefield slowly pushed open the door of the garden shed and poked his head through the narrow opening. He slowly scanned the immediate vicinity to make sure that the dog who lived in the house behind him was not lying in wait. It was a motley small mongrel with sharp teeth and there had been a couple of occasions when those teeth had connected with his legs in a very unpleasant manner.

All seemed safe and George eased himself out onto the garden path that led to the wooden gate, but not before a quick glance behind him for a last look at his beloved. He and Mildred had been having a torrid affair throughout the summer months with secret assignations in her shed or his own. However recent events made them both aware, that for the time being, their trysts would have to come to an end.

Both structures had been cleared out, cleaned and prepared for the coming cold months. Lawnmowers had been taken apart and oiled after the final grass cutting of the year, and had been stored in one of the corners. The floors had been swept and mousetraps laid to protect the bags of seed stored on the top shelves. Old grain sacks had been pinned across the window to prevent the intrusion of any winter sunshine and the doors would be locked to prevent gale force winds from blowing them open; curtailing their delightful activities.

Mildred was sleeping peacefully, partially covered by the old plaid blanket that had kept them warm and protected their modesty should anyone enter the shed unexpectedly. George smiled to himself contentedly and could not help adding a little swagger to his walk down the path. No bad for an old codger he thought to himself as he poked his head out and checked the pavement for anyone who might know him.

The coast was clear, but he knew that any minute now, the mothers would be arriving to pick up their children from the primary school on the corner, and the area would become very busy. Hugging the hedge he moved carefully, lifting one uncooperative leg after another; muttering under his breath at the stiffness in his slightly bent knees. His earlier smugness at his athletic prowess began to fade as he struggled to cover the distance between Mildred’s house and his home. He had two garden lengths to go when disaster struck.

Ahead of him he saw the aforementioned dog sniffing her way along the pavement, lost in the scents that assailed her delicate nostrils. George knew from his previous encounters, that the monster would recognise his smell within the next few minutes; coming after him without mercy. He looked to the right and noticed that his next door neighbour’s gate was slightly ajar; with a gentle nudge he slipped rather ungracefully through the gap. He didn’t want to risk the dog following him so he pushed the barrier shut with his backside. Hearing a welcome click, he manoeuvred carefully behind the shelter of the hedge, waiting breathlessly for the animal to pass.

Outside on the pavement the dog had definitely got wind of her foe. She knew that George was up to no good in the shed and it was her job to protect the house, garden and family; including Mildred. She sniffed the air and her eyes were drawn to the closed gate. Barking madly the frenzied demon pushed and snarled at the obstacle. All it did was draw the attention of her master who was walking along behind her carrying the afternoon paper. She felt her collar being grasped firmly and was then frog-marched along the pavement and into her own garden. All she could do was whine in disappointment as she stuck her nose through the bars of the closed iron gate.

Meanwhile George was weak-kneed with relief and had to take a few minutes to recover. The pavement was beginning to fill up with mums on their way to pick up their children and rather than risk being seen, he decided to take a short cut through a large gap in the hedge that he had discovered recently. As he began to ease through the foliage he realised that it was only just in time; it was clear his absence had been noticed. He might have been a bit of a Jack the lad with Mildred, but he felt he had just cause. The mother of his children, boys he loved dearly, was a fire-breathing dragon of the worst kind and through the evergreen barrier he could hear her shouting.

‘George, come out wherever you are,’ she paused for a moment obviously scanning his usual hiding places. ‘Come along you dirty old devil, I have got better things to do than chase you about the place.’

The subject of her ire stayed stock still; poised in the middle of the hedge waiting until he heard the slam of the kitchen door. It was now safe to make his laborious way across the uneven lawn. Carefully he tip-toed into the gloomy garden shed and feigning sleep, he settled down waiting to be discovered.

A few minutes later he heard childish laughter and running feet heading for the house. He knew that after a tea of beans on toast and rice-pudding with strawberry jam he would be joined here in the shed by the three lads. Sticky fingers would nudge him awake and he would be given delightful cuddles and regaled with the adventures of the day.

He was dozing happily, dreaming of Mildred and their next encounter when he felt himself lifted up into the air and gently deposited into a large plastic box.. Beneath him he could smell fresh garden compost and he wiggled his toes as he settled himself down. A lid was placed over the container and through the holes above him he could hear the one of the children whispering to him.

‘Goodnight George, sleep tight and see you in the spring.’

Then the dragon spoke. ‘Thank goodness for that, at least we will know where the old boy is for the next few months. I swear I never knew that a tortoise could be so much trouble.’

©Sally Cronin 2017

One of the reviews for the collection.

Sandra Cox 5.0 out of 5 stars Names Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2020
This book is filled with fascinating short stories, each one based around the named character of the book. Each story is different and might revolve around a child, an adult–young to old–or even a ghost. What they all have in common is the emotion they bring to the story. The scenery is detailed and pulls you into the location. And the characters are relatable. I enjoyed these stories and think you will too. So, grab a cup of coffee or tea, put your feet up, relax and sink into these stories.

Romance,” had already been written. Needless to say, I’ve already purchased my copy.

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: :Sally’s books and reviews

I hope you will join me next weekend for the next story in the collection… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Update – July 25th – 31st 2021 – Billy Joel, Short Stories, Poetry, Book Reviews, Pet and Human Health, Funnies


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

Another week flown by and the summer is half way through in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. Nothing much to report from HQ.. my laptop that I use for the podcast in my mini-studio blew a gasket on Friday…the hard drive failed but the in house technical department has the matter in hand and I should be adding some new posts to the podcast again soon.. I do have some already pre-recorded which I will filter through in the meantime.

Thanks to William Price King for his selections for the Breakfast Show this week and Debby Gies and Malcolm Allen for their funnies. Debby has been whizzing around blogworld this week and a special thank you for all the posts she has shared this week around the usual haunts.

My thanks to you as well for all the lovely comments and shares this week of the posts, it is appreciated and keeps me motivated.. Have a lovely weekend…Sally

Chart Hits 1974 Part Two – Elton John, The Hues, The Hollies, Billy Joel.

What’s in a Name? Volume One – What’s in a Name?- Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin

Tales from the Spanish Garden – Special story – Mollie (The Duchess) Coleman – by Sally Cronin

New Review – Balroop Singh – #Poetry Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

Book Reviews Rewind – #Paranormal #Romance – Ghostly Interference: (White Rune Series Book 1) by Jan Sikes.

Book Reviews Rewind – #YA – Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8) by Darlene foster

Etheree – Peaks by Sally Cronin

Some Health Hacks for everyday niggles such as Pins and Needles by Sally Cronin

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The Kidneys and Urinary Tract – Urinary Tract infections by Sally Cronin

Ticks – What, When and How to remove safely

Grazzi hafna from Sally aged seven to the old Prickly Pear farmer and his donkey #Influencers Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Podcast – Who are you writing your book for?

Smorgasbord Coffee Morning – Bring a Guest – Authors Darlene Foster and Nancy Blodgett Klein

Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) by Kathryn Occhipinti

New Book on the Shelves – Existing Creatures Living Dragons by Leyla Cardena

#Reviews – #Poetry Balroop Singh, #YAFantasy M. J. Mallon, #Romance Jacquie Biggar

Cafe Update – #Reviews – #Family James J. Cudney, #Paranormal John W. Howell, #WW2 #Russia Marina Osipova

– #Reviews – #CrimeThriller Carol Balawyder, #Poetry Victoria Zigler, #Family Lisette Brodey

Wednesday July 28th 2021 – #WriterLinks D.G. Kaye, #Poetry Robbie Cheadle, #Reviews D.Wallace Peach, #Finances Jim Borden

Thursday July 29th 2021 – #Olympics Pete Springer, #Patchwork Jennie Fitzkee, #Research Jacqui Murray

July 27th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Shoes and Bricks

July 29th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Dogs and Tact

July 30th 2021 – Malcolm Allen – Zoom Meetings and Restaurants

 

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

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Poetry – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry by Balroop Singh


This week as I sat in the peace of the back garden and enjoyed the last of the sunshine for a while, I enjoyed reading and rereading the poems in the latest collection of Balroop Singh –  Slivers:Chiseled Poetry.

About the collection

When I stumbled upon haiku – a Japanese form of poetry, I scoffed it away, thinking it to be too short and easy to write. My hubris got a setback when I was challenged to write it! My earlier efforts show how I struggled with the syllables that could convey a meaningful message. Slowly I discovered this art form, which I revere now. I’ve taken some liberties with the rules though.

The poetry in this collection is not traditional haiku and tanka but inspired from them.This collection focuses on micro-poetry, inspired from haiku, senryu, tanka and acrostic poems. Brevity and discipline is the hallmark of these poems.

My review for the collection 31st July 2021

Poetry, particularly about nature is perfect for enjoying sitting in sunshine and listening to the sounds always present in a summer garden. The poet Balroop Singh captures this wonderful environment and other aspects of mother and human nature in her collection of micro-poetry. Inspired by Haiku and Tanka with the addition of a section of acrostic poetry, it is a collection to be savoured and reread again and again.

I have some particular favourites out of the 100 or so poems.

each day reminds us
it’s the symphony of surroundings
that whispers life into us

*****

ochre and crimson
robes of mother nature remind
decay can be exquisite

*****

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
I believe in love
even when I cannot feel it
love and light are my mentors

This is a collection that will appeal to all lovers of micro poetry that manages to capture the essence and beauty of the world around us, the fickleness of human nature, and offers hope for the future.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Other books by Balroop Singh

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Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Balroop : Goodreads – blog:Balroop Singh on WordPress – Twitter: @BalroopShado

About Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh, an educator, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in California.

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with a book or two… thanks Sally.

Balladeers Through the Years


Some great music this morning from David Prosser… some favourites including Bee Gees, The Platters, Walker Brothers, Etta James and Elton.. head over to enjoy.

The BUTHIDARS

Hello Pop Pickers. We’ve had the Queen of Soul and it was a well deserved title. But if we can’t have the Queen I’m certain that my first pick today should have been no less than a Duchess. She was a star who outshone others.

Released on Album of same name in 1960 and on a single in 1961.

Now a single from 1975 that could move even the hardest heart. A talented group but it’s the lead singer that makes them rise above many others.

1975 single. Scott Walker died in 2019.

This selection is just because this is a Happy Making Song, there are just so many to choose from in this singer’s repertoire.

From 1990 Days of Thunder Album.

For this one we’re going back to 1956 one of the best groups of the time who have survived musically until now because of their popularity. We need…

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – Tales from the Spanish Garden – Special story – Mollie (The Duchess) Coleman – by Sally Cronin


This is the prequel to Tales from the Irish garden and shares the stories of statues we inherited when we bought the house, and for the magic kingdom beneath the Magnolia Tree. The book is also available in Spanish translated by
Olga Nunez Miret

There are a handful of other stories in this collection but they are Halloween, Christmas and New Year related and I shared those recently as the introduction to the Tales from the Irish Garden.

This week….

I am going to end the series at this point, with an additional story that I added to the book, as a tribute to my mother and her gardens throughout her life. She died peacefully 9 years ago this week on July 28th 2012 at age 94. And as a wonderful surprise yesterday Sandra Cox shared her review for the tales.

Mollie (The Duchess) Coleman – Tales from the Garden

My daughter thought that I might like to introduce some of my many gardens to you as a break from her own and my other daughter’s beautiful surroundings. I am afraid that I have to go back nearly 90 years to describe my first real garden but luckily I do have one or two photographs to share with you. It is a tough ask to cram 94 years into 1000 words which is what my daughter expects, so I do hope you bear with me!

I never knew my father. For a few months after I was born in the October of 1917, he and my mother Georgina lived in Kent where he was undergoing re-training. He had been badly wounded whilst rescuing his officer and had been awarded the Military Medal. He had been told that he would not be returning to the front and that his role would now only be administrative. They decided to start a family and my Irish father named me Mollie Eileen Walsh.

He was 31 years old when he was killed on November 2nd 1918, just nine days before peace was declared. As people rejoiced in the streets of Britain my mother waited for news. It was to be three weeks after the war before she was finally informed that he was not coming home. She did not know where he was buried and sadly she and I had to move on with our lives without him.

My mother’s family were from Alverstoke in Hampshire and also Bramdean in the rural part of the county. She decided we should move closer to her home and so we arrived in the lovely village of Wickham, famous for its square and horse fairs. We lived in a small cottage off the square but I don’t really remember much of those early years.

When I was seven my mother remarried the village butcher, Norman Welch and he built us a new home on Hoad’s Hill which led into the village from Fareham and Portsmouth. As well as the modern house we had a wonderfully large garden with a small orchard of fruit trees. The following 15 years were a wonderful mixture of village hall dances and bright summer days. Here I am in our orchard at the back of the house which was called Sinclair.

Then another war shattered our hopes of peace and life in the village changed overnight.

However, in late 1939, a friend of mine in the Royal Navy introduced me to a tall and handsome electrical artificer named Eric Coleman and within a very short time we knew that we wanted to get married. We made plans to have the wedding on Saturday September 14th 1940, but on the Monday, Eric was given orders to join a convoy leaving for Canada on Thursday 12th and was confined to barracks.

To cut a very long story short…. our vicar got on the telephone to Eric’s commanding officer and persuaded him to allow him leave to marry me on the 11th, returning in time for the ship the next day. The whole village pulled together to get my dress finished and the grocery shop, that shut on Wednesday afternoons, opened to get a cake and sandwiches together for our guests. The vicar’s wife arrived in her car to drive me to the church where I found my handsome husband-to-be.

We had to return to Sinclair for the impromptu reception and the German bombers decided that they would add their contribution by dropping bombs on Portsmouth. Since they would often jettison any left on the countryside on their return flight we did some ducking and diving ourselves.

Here is our wedding party after the all clear including my giant red cat who looked more like a fox. Ironically because of the bombing the night before, Eric’s transport ship left early and he missed it. As I moped around in the garden after just one night of honeymoon, and not expecting to see him for at least a year, he walked in the front door with a week’s leave!

Wedding day Wednesday September 11th 1940

I travelled all over England to be with Eric any time he had shore leave throughout the next two years. In 1942 we had our first daughter Sonia and we moved to Scotland to Dunoon to join Eric who was based there repairing submarines. Our second daughter Diana was born there in 1943. Eric then returned to sea and did not return from the Far East and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) until late in 1946.

Sonia and Diana at Sinclair 1944

We had settled back into the house on Hoad’s Hill but sadly my mother who had ill health died in 1945 aged only 52. My step-father moved into a cottage in Fareham and as a family we enjoyed being in our own home and garden for the first time since the beginning of the war. Our third daughter Sally was born in 1953 and Eric was posted to Sri Lanka in 1955.

As it was for a two year posting we all went with him. Now that was a garden… or should I say jungle!

We had snakes and monkeys outside the front door and often inside. It was not unusual to find small monkeys helping themselves to my lipstick and pearl earrings on my dresser having let themselves in the window. And we were not just treated to exotic wildlife in our garden. The navy is very good at providing a wonderful social life but travelling back at night could be interesting with leopards and elephants on the move on the narrow road through the jungle.

However, we had an incredible time and arrived back to our home in Wickham in time for our son Jeremy to be born in 1957.

We moved to Old Portsmouth in 1958 to a modern house with a very strange garden… the house was built on the site of an old public house that existed before the Battle of Trafalgar. It had been bombed during the war and three new houses were built as a terrace on the site. However the small garden was built over the old wine cellar of the pub which now served as our garage. Without trees and a lawn I had to make use of old wooden wine caskets that I picked up locally and turned into planters. Every summer I would fill them with pink geraniums and each winter with pansies.

In 1959 we were posted to Malta and then in 1963 to 1965 we lived in South Africa. This was followed by two years in Lancashire before returning in 1967 to Portsmouth for good. When Eric retired we moved across the high street into a lovely flat but my garden became even smaller.

However, we did have a flat roof and I placed all my planters up the wrought iron stairs and around the roof top. Here I am completing the small crossword in The Daily Telegraph with my coffee which is something I enjoyed doing each morning.

We had many wonderful years in the flat, and rather than travel overseas, we made short trips to Scotland, Wales, Jersey and other beautiful parts of Britain. One of the many things that had attracted me to Eric in the first place was that he was a wonderful dancer.

We loved nothing better than going away to stay in hotels that had dinner dances on the Saturday nights and we were still dancing all through our 70s.

We would also visit public gardens and would sit in the shade on benches and enjoy their beauty.

Sadly after 56 years together Eric passed away and a year later at age 80 I moved across the road again to my little house with its small front and back gardens. Here I was to live for the next 14 years and my greatest pleasure was keeping my small piece of heaven stocked with geraniums and pansies. My living room window was large and offered me a wonderful view of all the visitors to the garden including foxes, hedgehogs and blackbirds in search of raisins.

There are some gardens that hold very special memories for me. Diana had done some research and early in the 90s had managed to establish where my father was buried. He was in a small military cemetery in a village called Poix-du-Nord along with about twenty of his fallen comrades. I visited with Diana and her husband and then again with Sally who was living in Brussels, only 65 kilometres from his final resting place. It was very emotional to finally see my father’s name carved in granite and I hope that he would have been proud to know that he left behind a family of many bright and happy grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Diana and her husband lived around the corner from me and I would often take advantage of her larger garden. I would sit quietly for hours watching her dog chasing squirrels and the many different species of birds popping into visit.

The years passed and before I knew it I was 94 years old… What a journey and how lucky I had been to have seen so much of the world and enjoyed so many gardens in the company of someone who loved me so much. And if you are wondering? I would be hard pushed to tell you what my favourite flower is but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that if it is pink, it is beautiful.

Oh and if you are wondering too about The Duchess nickname, it is probably because I was rather partial to buying and wearing beautiful jackets, and I was rarely seen without my pearls! I rather insisted on being dressed and ready for the day by 9.00 each morning even if there was nothing on the calendar… I firmly believe that you should be prepared to meet people looking your best. I suspect some might have thought I was a bit grand….

Anyway it was no longer possible for me to remain in my house but I will always remember that last view through the window and the sight of my little fairy princess in the alcove. It is engraved on my heart.

From where I sit now I can watch my daughter’s little black Staffie chasing squirrels and also seeing off the postman and anyone else who dares intrude on this sanctuary. If you catch sight of me perhaps you could do me a great favour and pop a large, cut-glass tumbler of whisky and water, no ice thank you, on the table beside me. I am finding it rather difficult to get hold of these days.

All the best… and don’t forget that whisky and water will you!

Mollie Eileen Coleman October 5th 1917 to July 28th 2012 The Duchess

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here. Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

One of the recent reviews for the collection.

Jul 27, 2021 Sandra Cox rated it five stars

More charming shorts from author Sally Cronin.

These stories take place in a mysterious garden where fairies rule and stone statues come to life. Two of several delightful stories are about a pregnant doe in danger and a boy running away from abusive parents who saves a goose from certain demise. Both the doe, and the boy and his goose, find sanctuary in the enchanted garden. These are among the magical stories the author shares with us. The captivating tales will appeal to young and old alike. So, grab your iced tea and find a comfortable seat in your own magical garden and settle in to read these wonderful stories.
 

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews::Sally’s books and reviews

 

I hope you have enjoyed the Tales from the Spanish Garden. Thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – July 30th 2021 – Malcolm Allen – Zoom Meetings and Restaurants


Author Malcolm Allen is back with some more funnies

    

Thanks to Malcolm for keeping us entertained…more from him soon

Malcolm Allen’s latest book is now available in Kindle

About the book

This is the third book by the author, following publication of his two autobiographies ‘From Birth to Perth – Memoirs of a Nomad’ in August 2013 and ‘World Turned Upside Down – More Nomadic Memoirs’ published in June 2018. This third book in the nomadic series, is a travelogue of the author’s journeys around the world. He shares both his travel experiences and his views on various subjects, with his usual frankness and humour. It’s a tale of the traveller as he moves by air, land and sea with assorted companions. The world of travel has changed the lives of many and continues to delight and surprise the author each time he packs his luggage and passport. As a fellow author, Michael Palin so eloquently said: ‘Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote. I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.’

One of the reviews for the book

Mr. Ian M. Smith 5.0 out of 5 stars A Nomad who really Entertains Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2021
The author has already written his autobiography in two volumes and that is quite a story. He is much travelled and, in this new book, he gives us the benefit of his travels in a novel way. Instead of using a chronological framework, Allen uses an alphabetical format interposing memories of places he’s visited with a miscellany of anecdotes that keep you entertained.

There is plenty of humour and I’ve given the book five stars because of its readability. It’s a winning combination of real world travelogue that puts you right there with the author, and anecdotal humour that will make you chuckle (as well as groan at some of the quips). The result is a book that you will not want to put down. If you enjoy Bill Bryson, you will enjoy Malcolm Allen. He has taken a novel approach to non-fiction that is both entertaining and highly amusing. I now feel that I’ve really been to some of the places that I’ll never get to in person and that must be the highest accolade for a book that is much more than a travelogue.

Buy the book: Amazon US And:Amazon UK – And: Amazon AU

About Malcolm Allen

The author was born in London UK and experienced a challenging childhood, leaving school with no academic qualifications at the age of 15. He had mixed fortunes in his early working days but managed to secure a job in the banking industry at the age of 19. During a period of 32 years he enjoyed a demanding and successful career in London, the pinnacle of which was becoming a Company Director at the age of 37. Following a life changing experience in November 1998 he emigrated to Perth, Western Australia in September 2001, relocating to his current home in Melbourne, Australia in November 2015.

Thanks for dropping in today and I know Malcolm would love your feedback.. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Book Reviews Rewind – #Paranormal #Romance – Ghostly Interference: (White Rune Series Book 1) by Jan Sikes.


Delighted to have reviewed Ghostly Interference (The White Rune Series) by Jan Sikes in February

About the book

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

My review for the book 27th February 2021

This is a passionate love story with a gentle paranormal theme running through it. Whilst the central characters are Jag and Rena and is about the development of their relationship, the story also has other players who also create interest and mystery.

The author has done a great job of creating the world that they all inhabit and you almost feel that you are riding pillion on a motorcycle, tapping your toes to the music and seeing something faintly familiar in the shadows.

There is also plenty of action as the lives of others intrude into the love story, and the author does not shy away from writing about tough issues such as domestic violence and life in the foster care system, both relevant to background story and as the plot evolves.

There are some terrific twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing and turning the pages.

I have no hesitation is recommending the book to lovers of well written romance, paranormal and family sagas.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A small selection of books by Jan Sikes

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan SikesGoodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks

About Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes is an award-winning Texas author who has been called a wordsmith by her peers. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way. She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to complete the story circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of Authors Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), the RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHOR (RWISA), sits on the RWISA Executive Council and hosts a monthly RAVE WAVES blog talk radio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE.

 

Thanks for visiting and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will head over to buy the book.. thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves – #Languages – Conversational Italian for Travelers: Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) by Kathryn Occhipinti


Delighted to welcome Kathryn Occipinti to the Cafe and Bookstore with her language books in Italian and French. Very useful now that the world is opening up again.

About Conversational Italian for Travelers

Your traveling companion in Italy! Truly different from other phrase books – this book is friendly, humorous, and also provides a method to understand and remember important Italian phrases. There are many tips for the reader on how to create their own phrases and how to ask questions to get around Italy comfortably. Includes sections not found in other phrase books so the traveler can really fit into the culture of Italy. Light weight book of phrases slips easily into a pocket or purse. Keep handy simple phrases of greeting, how to change money, or how to take the train. Learn about how to communicate politely in any situation. And, of course, learn how to read those Italian menus and order at an Italian restaurant! This book is contains excerpts from the larger work, Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook. All the phrases you need to know with tips on how to create your own!

One of the reviews for the book

P. Zoro4.0 out of 5 stars Effective learning guide Reviewed in the United Kingdom

Travelling to a foreign country can be a terrible experience if you don’t know how to communicate. Kathryn thus solved this potential problem for all foreign visitors to Italy with her book picking on just the important phrases.

To start with, the book is both exciting and humorous. The reader discovers the Italian alphabethas 21 letters and borrows some additions from Latin. There are surprising differences from English, like z becomes zeta and is pronounced zeh-tah. I spent some time translating my name and found the result amusing. Learning to pronounce the words correctly was an enjoyable experiment in which I found myself closer and closer to sounding very foreign and learned.

I discovered “buongiorno” is all I need to say from morning to early evening, and if I am not yet in my hotel then “buonasera” will do until bedtime. For hi and bye to friends there is just one word to learn – “ciao”, but there are so many ways to say goodbye you really have to take your time to learn them. “Millie Gracie” means thanks a lot (a thousand) though I expected it to be “thanks a million”.

The writer takes the reader through the basic everyday conversational Italian in an interesting manner. You learn to be polite and formal and at the same time to be friendly and appreciative of any assistance. You also learn how to form important phrases, how to ask for the important things and making friends. The book teaches you to get comfortable at the hotel, at a restaurant and when sightseeing. It is indeed a comprehensive guide I would recommend to anyone travelling to Italy who does not speak Italian.

As for me if someone says “Parla italiano?” (Do you speak Italian?), I will just say “Si, un po’” (Yes, a little) even though sono di Zimbabwe (I am from Zimbabwe).
Si, I loved this book.  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK  – Electronic copies: Learn Travel Italian

Also by Kathryn Occhipinti

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – Websites:  French and Italian: StellaLucente.com – Blogs: Beginning Italian: Conversational Italian! Twitter: StellaLucente@travelitalian1 and @travelfrench1

About Dr. Kathyrn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. During that time, she founded Stella Lucente, LLC, a publishing company focused on instructional language books designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience.

Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the “Conversational Italian for Travelers” series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language.

Nada Sneige Fuleihan is a native French speaker and translator who now resides in the Chicago area.

The two writers have teamed up to create the pocket travel book, “Conversational French for Travelers, Just the Important Phrases,” using the same method and format as found in the Italian pocket book for travelers “Conversational Italian for Travelers,” originally created by Kathryn Occhipinti.

You can connect to Kathryn on her websites, blogs and social media at these links

Facebook group: Conversational Italian!
Facebook pages: Stella Lucente Italian and Stella Lucente French             
Instagram: Conversationalitalian.French
YouTube Channel: Learn Conversational Italian
Pinterest: StellaLucenteItalian and StellaLucenteFrench

 

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Kathryn’s books on your own network.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #CrimeThriller Carol Balawyder, #Poetry Victoria Zigler, #Family Lisette Brodey


Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review for her latest release is Carol Balawyder – a coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.

As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.

Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

A recent review for the book

Jacqui Murray VINE VOICE  5.0 out of 5 stars The twisted turns of love  Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2021

Carol Balawyder’s Just Before Sunrise (2021) is the story of a wealthy older man who marries a former owner of a high priced call girl business (which is how the two met). Nadine accepts this proposal as her chance to escape her past life but soon realizes (shock!) that he is not the knight in shining armor she had hoped for. It isn’t long before she dislikes him as much as he disrespects her. She is a master of manipulating men–

“Nadine had the kind of body you read about in pulp fiction novels”

so she persuades the older man’s thirty-something son–Charlie–to help her kill him so the two can be together. To cover their tracks, they involve a recently homeless and orphaned teen–Maya–who has been entrusted with the job of preparing a lakefront home to be used as a halfway house which happens to be next door to Carlie’s home. Maya falls for Charlies and not-so-reluctantly agrees to help him cover up the murder. If you read “cover up” as “take the blame for the homicide”, you have the gist of what will happen.

Tangentially, thirty-something Adam falls in love with an older woman (the same one who hires Maya to fix up the home) but leaves her because he wants children and she doesn’t. That sounds simple but it sure isn’t. You’ll see when you read it. The overlap between these two plots is clever and intriguing.

At its core, this is a love story but filled with hate and lies and hurt feelings and unusual events and so much more. Love in this book isn’t a synonym for blissfully happy or the answer to dreams. In this case, it’s more fake than real but young Maya doesn’t realize that.

A clever, enticing read that you won’t want to stop once you start. Recommended for those who like unusual love stories that are darker than cozy but still fulfilling.

Also by Carol Balawyder

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Read more reviews : Goodreads – WebsiteCarol BalawyderLinkedIn: Carol Balawyder – Facebook: Carol Balawyder

The next review is for poet and children’s author Victoria Zigler for her latest poetry collection Born from Stardust and Other Poems.

About the collection

A selection of poems of various lengths and styles, exploring a variety of themes and subjects.

Topics explored in the poems that make up this collection include – but are not limited to – animals and nature, writing and creativity, death and grief, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

A recent review for the collection on the blog of Kevin Morris 24th July 2021

The title poem in this collection begins as follows:
“We’re born from stardust, you and I,
And that alone’s the reason why
I’m pretty sure that when I die
I’ll join the stars up in the sky.”

Born From Stardust is a beautiful poem, and the book of the same name is a highly enjoyable and thought provoking read.

Amongst my favourite poems is “When Mummy Missed Story Time”, in which the poet poignantly describes the emotional reactions of a young child when it’s mother won’t read a bedtime story due to her fear that she has the Corona Virus, and her very natural desire not to pass on the infection to her son/daughter.

There are several other poems which touch on the pandemic, including one dealing with the impacts of social distancing on the individual and on society as a whole. I can relate to this series of poems, and it is a topic which I have, myself tackled in my own poetry.

Other poems deal with the threat posed by climate change. Again, this is a fine series of poems.

The serious poems are interspersed with lighter pieces such as “When Even the Beach is to Hot”:

“You know the temperatures are too high,
When even the beach is too hot!”

The above poem is especially apt at the moment given the very high temperatures we have been experiencing here in the UK and elsewhere.

I have read a number of Victoria Zigler’s poetry collections, and in my view this is her best thus far. 

A small selection of other books by Victoria Zigler

Read the reviews and buy the books in print and audio: Amazon UK – and : Amazon US – Follow Victoria on: Goodreads – Website: Victoria Zigler – Twitter: @VictoriaZigler

The final author today with a review is LIsette Brodey for The Sum of our Sorrows.

About the book

In an idyllic suburb in Northern California, tragedy strikes the Sheppard family when Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is killed in a car accident. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car with her mother and survives without physical injury but remains deeply scarred on the inside.

Dalton tells Lily, his eldest daughter, that she must sacrifice long-awaited college plans and put her life on hold to take care of her sisters. Lily is torn between her devotion to family and an increasing need to find her place in the world — but how can she leave, knowing her family may crumble? Will her presence eventually cause more problems than it resolves?

The Sum of our Sorrows reveals how the aftermath of a family tragedy can precipitate sorrows never imagined. It is a tale of grief, hope, healing, coming-of-age, friendship, and survival. It is also a love story of two broken souls living through pain in search of better days and the renewal of one’s spirit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write characters as I hear them speak to me. Some of these stories contain non-gratuitous expletives and sexual references. This book also contains some situations that may be triggering to some readers. If this is not to your liking, please don’t read this book. Thank you.

A recent review for the book

Cynthia 5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read  Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2021

This book is amazing! I laughed, I cried, I was angry at a couple of the characters….what a ride.

Lisette Brodey is an incredible writer who has the ability to draw the reader into the story so deeply that all you (the reader) care about is to keep reading. I read this book in two days, I hated to put it down.

Ms. Brodey is a writer who belongs at the top of the Best Seller lists as she proves time and time again her skill and acumen in creating and allowing the characters in her stories to take us on incredible journeys.

‘The Sum of Our Sorrows’ is a MUST read 🙂

A selection of books by Lisette Brodey

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Lisette: Goodreads – Website/blog: Lisette Brodey – Twitter: @LisetteBrodey – Facebook: Lisette.Brodey

 

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