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. My previous jobs are only relevant in as much as they have gifted me with a wonderful filing cabinet of memories and experiences which are very useful when putting pen to paper. 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. You can find the whole story here. Find out more at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-me/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – James J. Cudney, Paulette Mahurin and Jean Lee


Welcome to the first of the Cafe and Bookstore updates this week and the first author with a recent review is James J. Cudney for the second book in his Braxton Campus Mysteries – Broken Heart Attack.

About the book

Who killed Gwendolyn Paddington?

When an extra ticket becomes available to see the dress rehearsal of King Lear, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies. But when one of them dies of an apparent heart attack in the middle of second act, Nana D asks Kellan to investigate.

With family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns that the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks.

But can Kellan find the killer, or will he get caught up his own stage fright?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Although this book has elements of a cozy mystery (I.e. amateur sleuths, small town setting, quirky/eccentric characters), there is more of a contemporary mystery feel to it. In this outing of The Braxton Campus Mysteries, Kellan is recruited by Nana D. And her friend Eustacia Paddington to find out who killed Gwendolyn Paddington. I will say Kellan has more patience than I do. The Paddington family is full of spoiled, rude, greedy and secretive people who tried their best to get rid of Kellan’s interference. Throw in other snarky females (his boss Myriam, the sheriff April, and Nana D.) and it is a wonder he doesn’t hate women. Do not give up hope, his sister Eleanore and friend Maggie, are understanding and supportive and by the end of the book, even the sheriff comes around. While trying to solve the mystery, Kellan is dealing with all the changes in his personal life, things at work and running Nana D’s mayoral campaign.

This is a very character driven story with characters that are being developed more in each book. The main characters are also becoming more likeable which I am happy about. The mystery was a good one with clues being dropped throughout the book, but also several red herrings. I thought I had it all figured out, then something else was revealed to lead me in another direction. As the reveal occured, I followed along shaking my head, thinking, “of course, why didn’t I think of that.” The dialogue was crisp, snarky in many cases, and revealed so much about the characters. Emma, Kellan’s 6 year old daughter is adorable. She is sweet, mature and can also give the attitude (I think Nana D is rubbing off on her). I am looking forward to the next book in this series to find out what happens next in Kellan’s life as well as picking up on those few situations that popped up at the end of the book. If you enjoy a mystery with some cozy elements, pick up this series and delve into life at Braxton College and town.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KGGJX1T

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Attack-Braxton-Campus-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07KGGJX1T

Also by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M

Read more reviews and follow James on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17128817.James_J_Cudney

Connect to James via his website and blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

The next book to receive a recent review is A Different Kind of Angel by Paulette Mahurin.

About A Different Kind of Angel

Inspired by real events chronicled by a journalist for The World News, Elizabeth Cochrane (pen name, Nellie Bly), in 1887.

Klara Gelfman’s life in Kiev was serene until she turned nineteen. That’s when Russia’s Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and a vicious propaganda campaign spread that blamed the Jews for his death. Klara and her family became victims of the many pogroms breaking out throughout Russia. None were so violent as what hit Kiev in 1881. It was there that Klara’s family was torn asunder and her world changed forever.

This is the story of what happens to this traumatized, orphaned, young Jewish woman when she escapes Russia and crosses an ocean to arrive on the rough streets of New York City able to speak only a few words of English. There, in the land of the free, Klara’s life is thrown into turmoil when she is mistaken for a drunken prostitute. Mistreated by those entrusted to protect her—the police, a judge, doctors, and nurses—she is condemned to an unrelenting hellscape when she is incorrectly and involuntarily committed to a lunatic asylum.

At a time when women had no political, economic or professional rights, comes a story where corruption by the powerful was as overt and commonplace as was garbage on the New York City streets. From the award-winning, international best-selling author of The Seven Year Dress comes an unforgettable story of the devastating effects of persecution, hatred, and arrogance. A Different Kind of Angel is also a story of love, family, friendship, and loyalty. It is a journey into the nature and heart of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave readers thinking about the story long after they finish the book.

One of the recent reviews for the book

A harrowing and riveting portrayal of Jewish refugee from the Russian pogroms of 1881. Klara Gelfman’s loses her father during her voyage to New York. Alone and with little English she is mugged and accused of being a prostitute she lands in Blackwell Island Lunatic Asylum. In the asylum for five long years she exposed to the worse and the best of the human condition.

It is a heart-wrenching to read about the horrid, inhumane and violent treatment of the patients in Blackwell. However, it is also a testimony of the strength of the human spirit to rise, survive and find strength in one another.

Paulette Mahurin did an amazing job in capturing the history Blackwell Island. The story is richly researched, well-written, emotive, inspirational, and unforgettable. I highly recommend this book!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GZYXNR4

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GZYXNR4

Also by Paulette Mahurin

Read all the reviews and BUY the bookshttps://www.amazon.com/Paulette-Mahurin/e/B008MMDUGO/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paulette-Mahurin/e/B008MMDUGO/

Profits from Paulette’s books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Read more reviews and follow Paulette on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5895757.Paulette_Mahurin

 
Connect to Paulette via her website: https://thepersecutionofmildreddunlap.wordpress.com/

And last but not least today is a recent review for the first book in the series Fallen Princeborn: Stolen by Jean Lee which is YA/Dark Fantasy

About Book 1 of the omnibus, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen

Over the Wall, they came to hunt humans. But now, a human’s going to hunt them. This girl’s nobody’s prey.

In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.

Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Peru Editor 5.0 out of 5 stars Young Adult Fantasy, Emphasis on the Adult January 22, 2019

‘Fallen Princeborn: Stolen’ fits into the category of classics like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ where a strong female lead must do battle with mysterious forces in a fantastical realm. Lee’s book is a bit darker than the typical fantasy fare, and I’d put it in the category of Young Adult (although it should be mentioned that my perspective always puts the emphasis on ‘Adult’ rather than ‘Young’). As I was reading Lee’s book, I found myself thinking, “What is it that this book reminds me of?”

I think it’s a testament to the book that I had a nagging sensation of familiarity, and it took me a long time to pin it down. The uncertain familiarity meant that Lee had captured an ambiance of a certain well-known, high quality writer, but had replicated it with enough originality to create something new. I was about a quarter of the way in when I finally figured out that the storytelling reminded me of ‘American Gods,’ and after that there was a section that reminded me specifically of ‘Coraline.’ I think fans of Neil Gaiman will see his influence on Lee, and be appreciative.

Lee isn’t quite the polished storyteller that Gaiman is, but she is certainly an author to follow. I’m kind of torn about the present tense style. On the one hand, I think it’s effective, even liberating to read. But on the other hand I know the literary world is very much a creature of habit, and they often snarl with contempt at present tense and slam the cover no matter how effectively it’s used. I like that the publisher took the time to get the book a Kirkus review, but these days Kirkus doesn’t wield nearly as much clout as it used to. I wish, instead of the Kirkus review, they’d invested in a more dynamic cover.

Jean Lee is an interesting new voice, and I think ‘Fallen Princeborn: Stolen’ will be a delight to a certain category of genre readers. The writing style is dynamic and interesting, but, unfortunately, that’s the type of thing that will make it less palatable to a wider audience. Lee creates an eerie, magical ambiance, and her characters are interesting and well-developed. A small press book, ‘Fallen Princeborn: Stolen’ represents the kind of fascinating divergence from the standard media conglomerate entertainment that so many people claim they’re looking for, but so few actually endeavor to seek out. Give it a try, and leave a response, I’m curious to hear what other’s think of this book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1949428001

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1949428001

Here is a selection of the six short story collections from Tales of the River Vine

Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Lee/e/B07DPP2RV6

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Lee/e/B07DPP2RV6/

You can find more reviews and follow Jean Lee on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18139027.Jean_Lee

Connect to Jean via her website: https://jeanleesworld.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure you will be leaving with a book or two.. thanks Sally.

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up – Waterford Castle, Romance, Great Food, Music and a few Laffs.


Welcome to the weekly round up and I have been off on a jaunt this week. As a birthday treat we went down to Waterford, which is David’s home town for a couple of days and stayed at the Waterford Castle Hotel on its own private Island.

You reach the island by a chain link ferry which only takes two minutes and runs every 15 minutes during the day and 30 minutes at night. We had a suite overlooking the magnificent gardens and all the rooms have wonderful features introduced over the long history of the castle. Such as this fireplace with a Wedgewood insert.

History of Wateford Castle

Throughout the centuries, the Island’s strategic location, in a pivotal position near Waterford City, brought it historical fame playing a major role in the history of the region.

From the 6th century settlement of Monks to the Vikings in the 9th – 11th Centuries. Followed by Norman Invasion of 1170 were Maurice Fitzgerald became the potentate of the Island and the Fitzgerald family legacy lasted for over 800 years.

You can download the full history of the castle
Click here to download our History brochure.

The food was wonderful and we ate in their award winning restaurant on the first night – freshly sourced produce, deliciously prepared. The service was brilliant and it was a meal to remember. We were treated to some live music in the form of a talented pianist and each course was much appreciated. Certainly a stunning venue for a Wedding.

The next day we had a wonderful breakfast (great poached eggs) in an atrium overlooking the gardens, with some of the wildlife in attendance. Including a red squirrel, unusual to find in Ireland but clearly the grey squirrels who decimated the red population have not learnt to use the ferry to get to the island. As we walked to the car park, we also encountered to deer intent of feasting on the new crocus shoots.

We spent the day touring the coast and revisiting some of David’s childhood and teen haunts as well as the cottage, right on Woodstown beach where Geoff Cronin (you might have read his memoirs here) grew up. Also Dunmore and Tramore, holiday spots in the summer when the family lived in the centre of Waterford.

That afternoon we went in to the city and checked out the regeneration that took place in the 1990s up to the present day. We had a birthday tea in The Vintage Parlour Tea Rooms and I had the best Victoria sponge I have ever eaten… with fresh cream… and David had a delicious piece of apple tart. Fortified with a couple of cups (porcelain) of tea, we explored the local estate agents with a view to moving to Waterford once we sell our house here in Wexford next spring (or sooner). Certainly Waterford is on the list of options as the city has great facilities and is close to some stunning coastline.

We ended the day with dinner at The Bodega Mediterranean Restaurant and I can highly recommend, especially the monkfish scampi starter. The  food, atmosphere and service was excellent and brought back happy memories of our years in Madrid.

If you are planning on visiting Ireland I do recommend that you put Waterford on the schedule. If you are travelling with family then I suggest you book one of their lodges which sleep six people and are self-catered, but you can still eat in the restaurant or clubhouse if you wish. There is a golf course, tennis courts and fabulous walks around the island. You are central for the coastline to the south of Wateford towards Cork, and when the new bridge is completed (the longest in Ireland) later this summer, it will be a much faster trip to Dublin.

Now time to catch up with the posts on Smorgasbord you might have missed during the week.

This week Paul Andruss shares part two of his recommendations for early spring bulbs.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-with-paul-andruss-this-week-spring-bulbs-part-two-daffodils-narcissus-jonquils/

And on the subject of food…. something from the Thai kitchen of Carol Taylor.. a three course meal that should get Valentine’s evening off to a good start.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-st-valentines-day-thai-three-course-dinner/

A new series of Posts from Your Archives and to kick the series off, one of D.G. Kaye’s heartfelt and heartbreaking – Memoir Bytes where she shares her childhood memories. Details of how you can share previous articles from your archives are in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-memoir-bytes-love-notes-and-other-words-by-d-g-kaye/

This week my guest is author Abbie Taylor who shares her inspiring story as well as some interesting responses to the questions.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-author-abbie-taylor/

Here is my response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 123

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebro-weekly-poetry-challenge-etheree-romance-by-sally-cronin/

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction this week prompted 99 word stories on the subject of Valentines.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-flash-fiction-challenge-together-forever-by-sally-cronin/

In this week’s music column, I share a song from each of the decades that I have been listening to music… and next Friday I will be sharing the requests that you shared, the songs that you felt were the most romantic.

Now time for the round up of the posts this week that you might have missed.

An extract from Tales from the Irish Garden to celebrate romance. Queen Filigree meets the roguish Prince Ronan.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/tales-from-the-irish-garden-valentines-day-story-the-magic-garden-comes-to-life-by-sally-cronin/

Last year I wrote this post for USA Today Bestselling romance author Jacquie Biggar on keeping the magic of romance alive…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/keeping-the-magic-of-romance-alive-every-day-by-sally-cronin/

This week in the R’s of Life, part two on the subject of relationships, and the impact of a dysfunctional childhood on our ability to connect as adults.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-relationships-in-a-modern-world-part-two-adulthood-by-sally-cronin/

I reviewed two books this week.. the first being The Beast Within (Mended Souls Two) by Jacquie Biggar.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/smorgasbord-book-reviews-the-beast-within-mended-souls-book-two-by-jacquie-biggar/

And the second book was first book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-book-reviews-mystery-academic-curveball-by-james-j-cudney/

Author Updates and reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-claire-fullerton-darlene-foster-and-angie-dokos/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-jacquie-biggar-clifford-browder-and-christine-campbell/

Many foods have been labelled aphrodisiacs through history, some deservedly so…but they also tend to be highly nutritious and have a positive effect on the whole body and not just the libido.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/smorgasbord-health-column-foods-to-get-you-in-the-mood-for-st-valentines-day-by-sally-cronin/

This week’s chapter looks at the impact of an overgrowth of Candida Albicans on our overall health. The symptoms number around 125, and I included some of the key signs that your gut may have been compromised.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-candida-albicans-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-valentine-special-you-knows-i-loves-you-right/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-valentines-day-special-and-a-parrot-with-moves/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your visits this week. Your comments and sharing on your own social media is much appreciated as always. Have a great week and hope to see you again soon.

Flow River Flow~


Cindy Knoke shares her photos of the Holler where she lives (when not photographing the rest of the world) and they are celebrating the end of a multi-year drought.. The power of the river is clear to see and lovely green pastures to nourish the amazing wildlife in the area.. Fabulous as always.

The Holler is getting hammered by storm after storm. This is the view looking north from our back patio, taken on Valentines Day as The Holler was being hit with the most massive rain storm. You can see raindrops on the lens. My iphone sent me 6 flash-flood warnings in 24 hours.

Here is the lower pasture being chewed up by the little creek which turned into a rapid-filled, raging river. The pasture gate is the white structure in the back left of the photo. It partially collapsed in the onslaught.

The river flows.
It flows to the sea.
Wherever that river goes,
That’s where I want to be.
Flow river flow,
Past the shaded tree.
Go river,
Go, to the sea. (Lyrics: The Byrds)

We hiked along the creek in the pouring rain on Valentines Day. You can see my son by the oxbow, to give you perspective on…

View original post 110 more words

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know author Abbie Taylor


Please welcome my guest this week, author and poet Abbie Taylor and let’s find out a little more about her.

About Abbie Taylor

I live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband Bill, totally blind, who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. I have a visual impairment, and during this time, I facilitated a support group for others like me. I also taught braille and served on the advisory board of a trust fund that allows persons with blindness or low vision to purchase adaptive equipment and services.

I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir and am working on another novel. My poems, short stories, and essays have been published in various journals and anthologies. I belong to several writers’ organizations and a women’s singing group and take water exercise classes at the YMCA

Welcome Abbie and can you tell us about your partner’s likes and dislikes?

I no longer have a partner, but when my late husband Bill was alive, he loved sports. The Colorado Rockies and the Denver Broncos were his favorite baseball and football teams respectively. Although he was totally blind for most of his life and partially paralyzed most of the time we were married, he enjoyed sitting outside, listening to a ball game or audio book. He liked to eat meat, potatoes, and sweets but hated most vegetables. He preferred country and bluegrass music and couldn’t stand classical or opera. My Ideal Partner is a memoir I wrote that tells our story.

What are the five things that you would always find in your handbag or briefcase?

In my fanny pack, I carry my billfold, a package of Kleenex, my medication list, in case, God forbid, I’m in an accident and paramedics are called, a pen, and a tube of Blistex. Because of my visual impairment, when I attend writers’ group meetings or writing workshops, I wear a back pack which contains my braille tablet, a portable magnifier, a folder with copies of pieces I’m submitting for critique plus braille paper in case my tablet quits working, a slate and stylus for writing in case I need them, and a bottle of water. Actually, that’s six things, but they’re all important. When I go to my water exercise class at the YMCA, my backpack contains water shoes, a towel, a plastic bag for my wet swimming suit, another bottle of water, and other essential items.

What is your favourite childhood song and why?

That would be “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. When I was in the fourth grade, I fell in love with a boy who was a year younger. We went to each other’s houses after school and on weekends where we listened to music and dreamed about launching a rocket together. He played the piano, and we sang this song for a school talent show with him accompanying us. A year later, his family moved away, and we eventually lost touch. I recently heard he’d passed away.

Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?

I enjoy traveling to Jupiter, Florida, to visit my brother and his family during their spring break. He and his wife both teach, and they have five teenagers between them, so most everyone’s out of school, and we can all have fun together as a family. They have two dogs, so we take plenty of walks. We also go to the beach and otherwise spend time outdoors. Last year when I was there, I participated in my first ever protest march, against gun violence. My trip there is a great escape from winter in Wyoming.

Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?

Yes, I play the piano and guitar. When I was about twelve, I dreamed of being a singer like Olivia Newton-John or Debbie Boon. Now, when I’m not writing, I take my guitar to nursing homes and other facilities and sing for the residents, and they love it. I also sing in a women’s choral group. We perform at church services, ball games, and other venues.

Sally Here: As Abbie likes the music of Pat Boone’s daughter Debbie, here is her 1977 hit You Light Up My Life. Amazon

About My Ideal Partner

In September of 2005, Abbie Johnson married Bill Taylor. She was in her mid—forties, and he was nineteen years older. Three months later, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side and confined him to a wheelchair. Abbie Johnson Taylor, once a registered music therapist, uses prose and poetry to tell the story of how she met and married her husband, then cared for him for six years despite her visual impairment. At first, there was a glimmer of hope that Bill would walk again, but when therapists gave up on him seven months after his second stroke, Taylor resigned herself to being a permanent family caregiver.

She discusses learning to dress him and transfer him from one place to another, sitting up with him at night when he couldn’t urinate or move his bowels, and dealing with doctors and bureaucrats to obtain necessary equipment and services. There were happy times, like when she played the piano or guitar and sang his favorite songs, or when they went out to eat or to a concert. She also explains how she purchased a wheelchair accessible van and found people to drive it, so they wouldn’t always depend on the local para-transit service’s limited hours. In the end, she describes the painful decision she and Bill made to move him to a nursing home when he became too weak for her to care for him in September of 2012. He seemed to give up on life and passed away a month later.

One of the reviews for the book

A great telling of the struggles of a young woman doing her best to cope with husband’s chronic illness which eventually took his life. A must read for anyone dealing with the issues related to caregiving and staying positive and strong throughout the process and recovery afterwards.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/My-Ideal-Partner-Married-Debilitating-ebook/dp/B01ISO66MA

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Ideal-Partner-Married-Debilitating-ebook/dp/B01ISO66MA

Also by Abbie Taylor (please click the image to buy)

Connect to Abbie

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com
Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abbie.taylor.92

Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure that Abbie would love to hear from you… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Flash Fiction Challenge – Together Forever by Sally Cronin


Here is my response to this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

February 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 19, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form Rules & Guidelines.

He heard the footsteps of the nurse receding into the distance. She had been in to check on his wife who lay sleeping, her breath shallow and laboured. On the bedside cabinet was a red rose, a replica of the one he had given his love every Valentine’s Day for over fifty years.

He leaned over to take her frail hand in his, and her eyelids fluttered. A faint smile creased her dry lips and a sigh escaped; his long wait was over. Unseen and hand in hand, they slipped passed the nurses’ station into the night, together forever.

©sally cronin 2019

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed….and will participate in the challenge yourself: https://carrotranch.com/2019/02/14/february-14-flash-fiction-challenge/

Smorgasbord Book #Reviews – #Mystery – Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney


Delighted to review the first book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

About Academic Curveball

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents.

My review for Academic Curveball

An intelligent and well written whodunnit with strong characters and enough twists and turns to keep you intrigued to the end.

It is great to read a mystery that does not telegraph its intentions. So many lead you by the hand, with obvious clues that have you identifying the culprit early on in the story. A bit like television dramas whose suspect has to be the one famous name in the cast!. James Cudney does an excellent job in keeping the suspense going until the end of the book and in creating characters that are flawed but also believable.

Kellan Ayrwick leads the cast and is ably supported by his fiesty grandmother who is a loving meddler. Being a small town everybody knows everyone else’s secrets or think they do and this adds missteps in the investigation of the initial murder. Kellan Ayrwick is a modern Miss Marple, insinuating himself annoyingly into the mysterious events as far as the sheriff is concerned, putting him at loggerheads with both her and his father who is trying to avoid any further scandal to the college.

His family and the other main characters have secrets that are wheedled out over the course of the story and add more surprises. Kellan also revisits unresolved issues from his years growing up in the town with his best friend and the girl he left behind.

The ending is not predictable and that is a mark of a very good mystery. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HMYSQFH

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Academic-Curveball-Braxton-Campus-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07HMYSQFH

Also by James J. Cudney

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M

Read more reviews and follow James on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17128817.James_J_Cudney

About James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

Connect to James J. Cudney

Website and Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4/

Thanks for dropping in and it would be great if you could spread the word about James and his books as far as possible. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss – This week Spring Bulbs – Part Two – Daffodils, Narcissus, Jonquils.


Welcome to the second of Paul’s Gardening posts and you will discover that not only is Paul Andruss is an exceptional writer, he also has a very great knowledge of plants.

This week Spring Bulbs – Part Two – Daffodils, Narcissus, Jonquils.

Pre-Raphaelite J Waterhouse’s Echo & Narcissus, in Liverpool Art Gallery I would often see it as a kid (Google Art Project)

In mythology Narcissus was a beautiful Greek youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Unable to tear himself away he eventually withered away, or committed suicide, becoming a flower which hangs its head over streams to that it can contemplate its own beauty.

There are various ideas about which narcissus flower the boy became and no agreement. Indeed it might not have been the flower we call narcissus at all. No one knows.

Narcissus poeticus (Wikipedia)

Some claim it is one of the wild narcissi found around the Mediterranean. Most popularly the flower is thought to be Narcissus Poeticus. The name narcissus is Greek related to narcotic. In an enclosed room the scent from Poeticus is strong enough to induce headaches and vomiting.

Narcissi Jonquil (RHS.Org)

Jonquils are also highly perfumed. The essential oil has been used in perfumery for hundreds of years and is still used today.

Narcissi have been cultivated since ancient Greece and were possibly brought to Europe during the Crusades. In the 1550s narcissi cultivers were grown commercially in Holland; especially double daffodils and narcissi, grown from Narcissus Tazetta.

The name daffodil is a corruption of another Mediterranean plant Asphodel which was believed to be a lily. Since early times narcissus were called affodels.

Asphodelus Ramosus grew wild in spring in Turkey (Wikipedia)

In the 1500s daffofils went by the name daffadown dilly or daffydowndilly as well as the Lent Lily. Shakespeare mentions wild daffodils growing in England, hinting at a long history of cultivation in the country that had allowed them to naturalise.

Although daffodils are the national flower of Wales, they are not that keen on the damp climate and were quite hard to grow there. Despite the myth of Narcissus and his reflection, they originally tended to grow on rocky hillsides.

Traditionally narcissi were used as cures for cancer and dysentery, as emetics, to relieve aching joints and even as cures for baldness and as aphrodisiacs. Today they have been found to contain anti-viral and bacterial properties and most fascinating at all galantamine used to combat Alzheimer’s.

Daffodils will take you from early spring with small species such as February Gold all the way through to late April with the double and scented varieties. New varieties are being introduced every year. There are far too many to illustrate.

Some narcissus cultivars (wikipedia)

Daffodils and narcissi like to be planted deep, around 3 times the height of the bulb. Failing to plant them deep enough prevents them flowering. However they can right themselves if planted upside down, and over time will drag themselves down to the right flowering depth, although it might take a number of years.

People often plant narcissi in a lawn, then want to mow the lawn after the bulbs have finished flowering but are still growing. Cutting down the leaves at this stage saps their strength and they will stop flowering and they eventually die out. After flowering you should take off the old daffodil heads to stop seed developing as this leads to more bulbs and larger clumps. Finally never cut off or tie up the untidy leaves after flowering. It is far better to let them die off naturally to keep the plants healthy. This was they will multiply quickly.

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

My thanks again to Paul for another informative post to help us fill our gardens with colour. If you have any questions for Paul on gardening, please put in the comments.. thanks Sally

 

How does gardening help writing? – Guest Post by, Jemima Pett…


A guest post from children’s author Jemima Pett on the parallels to be drawn between gardening and writing… having spent several hours recently, weeding, trimming and clipping my latest WIP it is a great way to look at it…Head over to the Story Reading Ape and read the rest of the post.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

I was out in the garden picking frosted kale last Sunday morning. Yes, that’s the sort of rock and roll lifestyle I lead. Kale, grown in the garden, picked on a frosty February morning, for the guinea pigs’ breakfast. It takes about five minutes to lose the frostiness, in case you worry about giving my boys frozen food. Frozen veg should not be given to guinea pigs (or any other animal I can think of, save reindeer, maybe).

I only have one kale plant, because I didn’t sow many last year. There’s not much overwintering veg at all, in fact, because last spring I was planning to move house. I’m still planning to move house.

And now the seed catalogues are coming in, and I’m wondering whether to get new ones of my favourite things, like tomatoes, cucumber and carrots, and having deja vu because I’m sure I debated with…

View original post 905 more words

Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters – The Sequel – Candida Albicans – Sally Cronin


In last week’s post I explored the physical events in my life from childhood that might have resulted in the inability to sustain a healthy weight. Whilst I could pinpoint an hormonal imbalance from puberty, and a cycle of crash dieting as contributors to my eventual morbid obesity. It was the more important discovery of a series of extended courses of anti-biotics at age 10, that was to result in a breakthrough.

It is not just my health that was compromised, many millions of the population, particular in developed countries also have been put at risk, with an estimated 70% of us with a candidal albicans overgrowth, seriously undermining our health.

Just to recap….

What is Candida Albicans

Candida is a fungal infection of the intestine. There is a delicate balance of bacteria in our gut and it works very much like a waste-disposal unit. However, certain conditions can activate changes in the balance between healthy flora and this opportunistic fungus, and this can result in Candida taking control of the intestine. Candida is a yeast that thrives on sugar. Among the many symptoms of this condition is an irrational craving for sweet foods including high sugar savoury foods such as pasta sauces.

The list of symptoms attributable to Candida seemed endless, but when I completed the questionnaire, my score was so high that there was no doubt at all that I was indeed suffering from an overgrowth in its most chronic form. While it was an enormous relief to have identified what had been causing my problems, it was devastating to realise that Candida had been a part of my life since childhood and was likely to be one of the main reasons for my weight problems. It was not just a childhood event that had triggered Candida, but its fire had been fuelled several times since.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the prime causes for this condition is the over use of antibiotics, and also some other medications prescribed for conditions such as asthma. Once I realised this, I put together a chart showing the periods in my life when I had experienced weight gain. Bingo! In every instance the weight gain followed heavy doses of antibiotics prescribed for a variety of reasons. In one way this discovery was reassuring.

Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

Before I look at Candida in more detail… I am often asked the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. This difference is important as diet is the key element of keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut, and our modern diet, that includes far more industrialised foods, does not provide the elements needed to maintain this balance.

Probiotics are the bacteria and yeasts that are classified as ‘friendly’. They inhabit our digestive tract and are a vital part of the process of digesting food and turning it into something that the rest of the body into a form it can utilise. Without a healthy balance of these probiotics, systems such as the immune function, can be compromised, as well as the health of other operating systems and the major organs.  If you eat live dairy products, including Kefir, or fermented foods such as sauerkraut, it will encourage the essential bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish.

Prebiotics are processed from insoluble carbohydrates in most fruit and vegetables including Apples (skin on) bananas, beans, artichokes etc (which is why we need to eat several portions of vegetables and fruit daily) This survives the stomach acid and digestive process that some foods such as yogurts might not do, and reaches the gut where it acts like a fertiliser for the existing probiotics and maintains a healthy balance.

As far as Candida Albicans is concerned this balance in the intestinal flora is crucial and I will explain that as we mover through the upcoming posts.

We are all familiar with the concerns about the rain forests and their devastation and long lasting consequences for our planet. Well our gut is an eco-system too – teeming with life that is as varied and as exotic as in any rain forest. And, like the many species that are at risk in the wider world, our bacteria that populate our gut and keep us alive, are under threat too.

All humans contain Candida Albicans in small amounts in our gut and urinary tract. In those amounts it is harmless – however – advances in medical treatment, and our modern diet, have given this opportunistic pathogen all it needs to develop from harmless colonies to massive overgrowths. It is also referred to as Monilia, Thrush, Candidiasis and Yeast Infection.

The most at risk are those with an already compromised immune system, but because of our high sugar, white carbohydrate and processed foods in our diets, most of us are now at risk.

We have also been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics for the last 65 years, as well as newer drugs that we take long term, that manipulate our hormonal balances. We as yet do not know the long term impact on our bodies of the modern drugs we take, and it may be generations before we do. Which is why there is now great concern that the pathogens are becoming more and more resistant to drugs such as antibiotics.

The eco-system which is our gut.

Our intestinal tract, like our hearts, brains, livers, kidneys etc is a major organ. Some refer to it as the ‘gut brain’ – How many times do you mention your gut feelings? Without it there would be no way to process the raw ingredients we eat to keep our immune system healthy enough to protect us from pathogens. The good bacteria or flora in the gut, two of which are, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus normally keep the Candida in balance.

In most cases antibiotics are broad spectrum, not specific, because, without a lab test it is difficult to tell the specific strain of bacteria responsible for an infection. The use of broad spectrum drugs usually guarantees that the bacteria in question will be killed off.

  • Unfortunately, not only the bad bacteria are killed off but also the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Candida remains unaffected because it is not bacteria it is a yeast and this is where it takes full advantage.

What happens to Candida to allow it to take over?

If Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked, it changes from its normal yeast fungal form to a mycelial fungal form that produces rhizoids. These long, root-like components are capable of piercing the walls of the digestive tract and breaking down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. This breakthrough allows many allergens to enter the blood stream causing allergic reactions. Mucus is also formed around major organs and in the lining of the stomach. This prevents your digestive system from functioning efficiently. The result is poorly digested food and wasted nutrients. Your body begins to suffer a deficiency of these nutrients and it leads to chronic fatigue, an impaired immune system and disease.

There would appear to be a strong link between this overgrowth of Candida Albicans to a huge list of symptoms and illness. Here is a snapshot.

  • People who are suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME usually test positive for Candida although there are also other issues involved in this complex condition.
  • Numbness, burning or tingling in fingers or hands.
  • Insomnia,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea,
  • Bloating,
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Thrush and Cystitis,
  • Sexual dysfunction and loss of sexual drive.
  • Endometriosis or infertility
  • PMS and heavy and painful periods.
  • Depression and panic attacks
  • Irritablity when hungry.
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pains often diagnosed with arthritis.
  • Headaches and mood swings.
  • Chronic rashes or hives
  • Food intolerance.
  • Liver function due to build up of toxins leading to  chronic fatigue, discomfort and depression.

The list is virtually endless – which just adds to the confusion at the time of diagnosis.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you may have a varying degree of overgrowth.

If you would like to complete the Candida questionnaire yourself then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

In the upcoming posts this week I will be featuring some of the health problems associated with an overgrowth of Candida Albicans and the strategies to reduce levels to normal, and rebalance the flora in your gut.

You can find the previous posts in this series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

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

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com