Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – Geoff Le Pard, Jan Sikes, Bette A. Stevens and Audrey Driscoll

Welcome to the first of the Cafe and Bookstore Updates with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review for his latest release is Geoff Le Pard for. Apprenticed to My Mother: A Memoir Of Barbara Le Pard 2005 to 2010. A memoir about an extraordinary woman.

About Apprenticed to My Mother: A Memoir Of Barbara Le Pard 2005 to 2010

When my father died in 2005, I assumed my mother would need more support and someone to help with decisions she previously shared with her husband. What I didn’t realise was the role she had in mind for me: a sort of Desmond 2.0. Over the five years until her death, I played the role of apprentice, learning more about her and her relationship with my father than I had gleaned in my previous 50 years. We laughed, we cried and, occasionally we disagreed, and throughout she manipulated me as, I learnt, she had my father. Neither of us minded much; we were both her so willing fools, for she was an extraordinary woman and we both knew we were in the presence of someone very special.

One of the recent reviews on Goodreads

Jul 27, 2018 Darlene Foster rated it Five Stars

A wonderful heartwarming book that will leave you laughing and crying, sometimes on the same page. Mr. Le Pard has a great way with words and gives us a delightful glimpse into the lives of his parents. Sprinkled in between amusing episodes of his life as the youngest of two sons, are poems brilliantly composed by his father, most written for his wife, the love of his life. The stories paint a picture of past times in a lovely part of England, where issues are resolved with a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake. Barbara Le Pard is a delightful character, strong-willed, tough and with a huge heart. This book is well written, entertaining and most important, it is written with love.

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And on Amazon US:

Other Books by Geoff Le Pard


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Darlene Foster is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Darlene Foster, Buy:

Please visit Amazon or Darlene’s blog to view all her books.


The next author with good news to share is Jan Sikes with a review for her book Flowers and Stone.

About the book

The epic love story begins here!

A hot Texas summer, dim-lit honky-tonk bars, a young naïve fledgling go-go dancer and a wild rebel Texas musician set the stage for this story. 1970 in Abilene, Texas finds young Darlina Flowers trying to figure out how to fit into the world she is most attracted to – the nightlife, live music and go-go dancing. Luke Stone, a veteran Texas Musician believes he’s lost all reason to care about his music career, his health and most especially his heart. A chance meeting with Darlina changes everything. But, is it too late? Has fate already determined the outcome? Join Luke and Darlina on a passion-filled journey up and down Texas roads while Luke and his band entertain crowds along the way.

Can Darlina Flowers ever hope to fit in to this strange new world and even more important, can she trust Luke Stone with her heart? Luke Stone, a good man who has made a career of bad decisions, falls as completely in love with Darlina as she does with him. But is it too late?  Will their eternal unyielding love survive the test of time, distance and iron bars?

One of the recent reviews from Goodreads

Aug 06, 2018 Laura Libricz rated it Five Stars

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a simple love story about Darlina and Luke and their whirlwind romance. I loved the biographical aspect and the honest, innocent way we were allowed to peek into the lives of these two people. It’s set in the world of country music in the early seventies and I really liked that, too. I found I wanted to tell people about this book as I was reading it and took my kindle everywhere with me so I could finish it. It’s a perfect book for commuters. (I read a lot on the train and not every book is good for the train.) Highly recommended series. I can’t wait to start the second book in the series.

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And Amazon UK:

Also by Jan Sikes.

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The next author who continues to receive excellent reviews is Bette A. Stevens for her book Pure Trash: The Story

About Pure Trash: The Story

It’s PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction/short story), a Compelling Prequel to the novel DOG BONE SOUP. The year is 1955. Remember the Good Old Days? You know, the 1950s and ‘60s, when America was flying high. The All American Family lived a life filled with hopes and dreams and life’s necessities too. Shawn Daniels isn’t your typical American Boomer Boy. No, Shawn is a poor boy. He can’t join Boy Scouts or sports teams. There’s not even enough money for necessities. Besides, Shawn doesn’t have time for that. But when chores are done, there’s always fishing!

In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels are off on a Saturday adventure in search of trash to turn into treasure. It is going to be a great day. Shawn is sure of it. No school and no bullies to remind him that he’s not one of the crowd. This is a story about bullies and what it’s like to be bullied (and not just by kids). It may redefine your definition of bullying. If you were a child who was thought of as “different” in some way, you know what bullying is about: torment, persecution, intimidation, to name a few of its synonyms. For Shawn and Willie, their difference was based upon the social status of a dysfunctional family and the alcoholism and abject poverty in which they grew up.

One of the recent reviews

This is my first glimpse into the delightful writing style of the author, Ms. Stevens. This short story was compelling and left me interested in reading “Dog Bone Soup” from which this story was derived.

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Also by Bette A. Stevens

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Now a recent review for supernatural/paranormal author Audrey Driscoll, for Book 3 of the Herbert West series – Islands of the Gulf Volume 2 – The Treasure – Amazon US 99c and UK 99p from 15th to 22nd August.

About the book

Abandoned and abused, young Herbert West resorts to drastic measures to survive. At Miskatonic University, he becomes a scientist who commits crimes and creates monstrosities. Decades later, haunted by his past, he finds safety as Dr. Francis Dexter of Bellefleur Island, but his divided nature threatens those he loves and forces him to face the truth about his healing powers.

More Details: Seeking relief from grief and illness in the refuge of Bellefleur Island, Francis Dexter relives in memory his early years when his name was Herbert West. To survive his mother’s disappearance, the capricious attentions of his father and the brutalities of his brothers, young Herbert makes himself into a juvenile strategist and warrior of vengeance.

Turning to science as a solace for emotional turmoil, Herbert studies medicine at Miskatonic University in Arkham. As both student and physician, he pursues forbidden experiments with single-minded determination, seeking to discover the secrets of life and death. The Great War presents West with a great opportunity, but in that maelstrom of violence he crosses the frontier of rationalism into the territory of the bizarre.

Recoiling from these poisoned memories, Francis Dexter turns to his years on Bellefleur Island and relives his tumultuous relationship with the artist Julian Vernon. For the first time since his troubled childhood, he allows himself to become emotionally attached to another human being, but the idyll is eroded by depression, drugs and jealousy and Dexter’s choices result in tragedy.

Saved and supported by Margaret Bellgarde, Dexter allows himself to be drawn into her family to recover from illness and sorrow. Until a day in July when his past confronts him and forces him to face the truth about his role as physician and healer.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is neither a page turner nor a quick read with its long, dense paragraphs and advanced (to me) vocabulary (like “vulning” . . . I certainly didn’t know what it meant!). The Treasure is a commitment. But like most commitments, the payoff is worthwhile.

Being a well-executed, character-driven story, the book allows the reader to sink his or her teeth into the Herbert West character, into the plot, and into the gorgeous descriptions. I loved Driscoll’s garden descriptions and even doubled back to reread her portrayal of a grassy field. Driscoll’s prose is alive and textured and beautiful.

I loved young Herbert’s tense encounters with street gangs and his tender moments with a classmate. His childhood is laid out in such a way as to totally explain why the adult Herbert West turned out the way he did.

The adult Herbert explores love and experiences loss and learns to see beauty. I came to care for him so much that he will stay with me many years I’m sure.

The Treasure is the third book in Driscoll’s respectful pastiche of Lovecraft’s Herbert West stories. At times, with Driscoll’s style, I felt as though I were reading a classic.

Head over and buy the book at 99c from 15th to 22nd August:

And Amazon UK 99p from 15th to 22nd August:

A selection of books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books (some at offer prices):

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Thank you very much for visiting today and I hope you have found a book to read from one of these talented authors… thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Traveling to #Mexico

This edition of my travel column is all about Mexico and what you need to know about traveling there.

I love Mexico and have been there many times over the years, visiting several different parts of Mexico in the past. My favorite Mexico destination is Puerto Vallarta, located on the Pacific coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. I recently spent one month there last winter and looking forward to two glorious months there next winter.

About Mexico

Mexico’s official name is The United States of Mexico – Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Mexico is comprised of 32 States. It is also the 11th most populated country in the world with a population of over 118 million people, and the 14th largest country by land. The climate in Mexico is hot and humid – less humid in the interior states. Mexico has the 9th largest economy in the world. Their main industries are: food, beverage, Tequila, Corona beer, tobacco, cotton, iron, steel, and last but certainly not least – tourism. Their rich natural resources are silver, petroleum and natural gas.

Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. Mexico City is the capital, originally built on the ruins of the Aztec capital, which was destroyed when the Spanish conquered the Aztecs. Although the language predominantly spoken in Mexico is Spanish, there are in fact 68 languages spoken there by the natives and approximately 350 indigenous dialects!

In the year 2000, Mexico finally became a democratic country after 7 decades of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the ‘PRI’. Like many other countries in the world, there are parts of Mexico that are safer than others.

Popular Places to Visit in Mexico and Places to Avoid

Currently, there are 7 northern names states and 3 western named states  that are on travel advisory lists, mostly due to cartel violence. If you click on the link supplied above with the named states, you will see that specific cities are named on the advisory in the named states. Sadly, some of my fond memories of yesteryear vacations were in the once beautiful Acapulco (in the state of Guerrero) where the cartel has finished off that resort town for travelers. And although the beautiful and serene city of Manzanillo located in the state of Colima, is said to not be part of the advisory of that state, there’s not a shot you’d catch me going back there either.

So where are the safest and most popular tourist locales?

Many people love to visit the rich culture in the heart of Mexico, Mexico City. Another popular place people like to visit, and incidentally, many ex-patriots make their home in is San Miguel Allende, which is a beautiful city located in the interior of Mexico, not far from Mexico City. But the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico are Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific west coast and Cancun/Playa Del Carmen on the eastern gulf coast.

Have a look at the map of Mexico HERE to get a broader scope of where the different cities are located geographically.

I always loved Puerto Vallarta and had spent quite a few vacations there through the years but hadn’t been back there for almost 10 years until last winter because my husband and I got hooked on cruising and exploring the Caribbean. We always said that we must go back to Puerto Vallarta and with the advent of the current administration in the U.S. and the devaluation of our Canadian dollar, we took the plunge last winter and we had the time of our lives.

Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful coastal town, and my, has it grown. I love that it hasn’t lost its native charm, yet, has grown with the availability of many North American amenities. We rented a beautiful condo right on the beach.

We shopped our groceries at Walmart and Costco, a short walking distance, and ate out at some spectacular restaurants. One block away I could get my daily dose of a Starbuck’s Soy Vanilla, Sugar-free latte. A five-minute cab ride north is the beautiful Marina area where the cruise ships dock nearby and many restaurants, yachts, shopping and weekly markets can be enjoyed. A ten-minute cab ride takes me downtown to what’s known as the ‘Malecon’ which is Mexican for the boardwalk where hundreds of people stroll, eat, shop and watch artists at work and displaying their crafts for sale. The people are friendly and the value for our dollar was fabulous. The sunshine is also virtually guaranteed daily, save for their short rainy season from mid-June til October, boasting approximately 300 sunny days per year. Honestly, I don’t recall ever seeing rain in Puerto Vallarta.

The weather in PV is hot and humid by day – usual temps in winter (November thru April) can range anywhere from the high 70s to the mid-90s. We spent last March there, and I found the days became exceptionally hotter once mid-March hit. The nights often offer a cool ocean breeze where I have been known to actually have to throw on a sweater when walking through town.

Cancun, being on the gulf side, is known to have sporadic rainfall and has become quite Americanized through the years. I personally have never gone to that side because I prefer knowing I’m waking up to guaranteed sunshine, and besides the weather, I also prefer the unspoiled feeling of being in Mexico when I’m in Mexico, not feeling I’m in a more commercialized locale, and according to the many I know who have been there, a lot more expensive in Cancun. I don’t need American dollars in Puerto Vallarta, and my Canadian dollars get me great value with Pesos. U.S. dollars are used a lot in Cancun and food and beverage are also more expensive there.

So, let’s get into what you need to know when visiting Mexico.

Facts, Dos, and Don’ts, and Safety

First and foremost, you need a Mexican Tourist Card to both, enter Mexico and to leave. If you’re flying to or on a cruise going to Mexico, the card is supplied to you by the airline or cruise line and included in the price of your flight or cruise. Please refer to the above link for instruction on how to obtain one if you’re traveling by car. You must fill out the card to have ready to hand to Mexican authorities upon entering Mexico along with your passport. This card will be stamped and given back to you at customs. DO NOT LOSE IT! Keep it safely stored with your passport. You will need to hand it in when leaving the country.


Mexican Currency is the Peso. You will get the best value when exchanging your dollars by changing them at a local bank in Mexico, or from using a bank ATM in the bank as opposed to machines located in stores or hotel lobbies. Outside of banks, other ATMs, hotels, money exchange booths, will charge higher fees and offer lower rates on exchange than the banks. You will also receive lower value on your exchange when purchasing Pesos from your home bank.

To give you a general idea, I purchased $500 Canadian worth of Pesos at my home bank before visiting Puerto Vallarta last winter. My bank was charging approximately 12. something Pesos for one Canadian dollar. When I went to the bank in PV, where my brother who winters there annually, suggested I go, I received just over 15 Pesos to a Canadian dollar, whereas the U.S. dollar was getting 19 Pesos. The service fee was only 3 Canadian dollars. This is a beautiful thing for us Canadians because we don’t have to purchase U.S. funds first, losing almost 33% on each dollar to then again have to exchange into Pesos. But please note – I do advise anyone traveling to Mexico to purchase at least $50 to $100 worth of Pesos before leaving home, despite the extra charge because you will need to have some on you for incidentals such as taxi, tips and perhaps a meal before you get settled and have time to go to the bank.

Note: Although you don’t need to purchase American dollars for Mexico, all rental properties – VRBO, Airbnb, etc. rental fees all charged in U.S. dollars.

Drinking Water and Ice Cubes

The old myth of Montezuma’s revenge still exists in Mexico. From my understanding, it’s not so much that the water is bad, but more that the delivery system through the pipes that are often old, and corroding which causes the problem. But have no fears, as long as you are conscious of what you put in your mouth you will be fine.

Most hotels and restaurants in the tourist destination spots in Mexico have water purification systems. As a leery person myself of strange waters, I never drink tap water there, nor do I even drink it at home without my filtration system. If you’re ever in doubt while visiting a restaurant, always ask if their water is purified. You can always play it safe like I do, and order bottled water, but asking about a filtration system will also give you piece of mind if you’re a salad lover because of course, raw vegetables are washed in water too. Also, be careful at buffets with raw vegetables.

Tip: When you’re drinking anywhere, look at the ice. Filtrated ice has a hole inside each ice cube!

In the condo building where we rent, the lobby concierge brings in large filtered water jugs, which we purchase for $3. It comes with a pump and I fill pitchers and ice cube trays with it, as well as wash my fruits and vegetables with (along with my fruit & veggie spray wash I bring from home). I also make coffee with that water and brush my teeth with it. Even though some say the building water is filtered I’d rather be safe than sorry. And of course, we always have cases of bottled water stored too.


Puerto Vallarta is known for its many wonderful restaurants offering a variety of tasty cuisines. There is no shortage of Mexican restaurants, Italian and North American fine dining. And the beef is fabulous there and much less costly than at home. The Malecon in downtown PV has many fabulous restaurants. Many of them are set up on a hill for exquisite views, especially at sunset while enjoying a Margarita!

The Marina area is equally entertaining with its numerous bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a cocktail after the sun or before dinner and watch the yachts come back in.
Eating out is reasonable in Mexico, much cheaper than home here in Canada, and that much cheaper for Americans. We found some fabulous eateries in town on the recommendations of fellow condo renters who are always eager to share their great finds.

Safety and Warnings

As previously mentioned, Puerto Vallarta is safe for tourists, but like anywhere in the world there will always be people with an evil agenda so pay caution when out and about with your purses and wallets. Just carry what you need with you and leave your passports, extra cash and expensive jewelry in your room safe. You never know when a professional pickpocket may be lurking.

Beware the Tides

Be careful when swimming in the ocean – specifically, the Pacific Ocean. Many coastal beaches have some deadly under-currents. It may look calm to the naked eye, but once you get in, you could be swept away by rapid undertows. Because of this, designated swimming areas on all beaches are monitored daily in resort areas. You will likely go to the beach every day and find a different section roped off showing where it is safe to swim that day. I can remember quite a few days walking on the beach and having to walk one hotel over to be able to swim in the ocean because of warnings at the beach front of our own property.

A little story: A long time ago when I was in Acapulco (when it was a safe place to go), I was sitting at the pool in a lounge chair and happened to watch a couple walking on the beach, a few feet away from the water, when a sudden huge wave came up and swooped them both into the water. Thankfully, they didn’t drown. Another time visiting there, 3 people drowned by being swept up by an under tow.


Puerto Vallarta is known for some state of the art medical and dentistry facilities. Many doctors from North America have opened specialty clinics there. In fact, many Americans go there to have elective surgeries that would cost them tens of thousands of dollars at home for nearly 1/10th the price. I’ve met people there who came for knee and hip replacements, cosmetic surgery and dental crowns and root canals. We are blessed here in Canada having our medical paid for, but from what I’m told, a knee replacement could run near 80K in the U.S. and can be done in Puerto Vallarta for approximately 10K! Doctors make housecalls there for a mere $20!

But I also know a few Canadians who get their dental work done there. In fact, last winter, my brother was seeking out recommendations for a good dentist to have a cleaning done while he was there. A dental cleaning/scaling and X-rays typically run us approximately $250 here in Canada. My very picky brother found a dentist in the Marina area and had his teeth scaled, cleaned and X-rayed for $40 Canadian!

There are also 2 hospitals, both 5 minutes away from our rental condo, which I checked out thoroughly before going because even with travel insurance, my husband’s pre-existing condition isn’t covered. I had to make sure if he got ill while away we wouldn’t lose our life savings to do so.


You will find one on almost every corner. And you’ll be stunned to discover (as I was) the pharmaceuticals available without a prescription. I’m talking about the availability of many drugs that are difficult to get a prescription for at home. Just to name a few – Valium, Sleeping Pills (Ambien), Muscle Relaxers, Percocet, and even antibiotics!

I’m quite sure there are users who delight in such access to these drugs and for a much cheaper price. But beware – if you plan on bringing any of these drugs back home and are caught by your customs without a prescription from your doctor, they will be confiscated, and you could be fined according to the laws of your country so be careful. But it’s good to know, in a pinch, that these drugs are available – especially antibiotics.

Getting Around

Taxis are cheap! There is no need to rent a car in Mexico (and believe me I wouldn’t want to drive there), unless of course, you’d like to rent a car/jeep to go exploring. I’d also highly recommend a tour guide go with you for these expeditions as there are certain parts up in the mountains that aren’t safe.

I found that a taxi to anywhere I went within Puerto Vallarta cost 50 Pesos – equivalent to about $3.25 Canadian. You can’t beat that! Although I love to walk a lot, I take cabs downtown or to the Marina and back from grocery shopping.

Just be cautious. It’s always advised to ask your concierge to hire a taxi when leaving your hotel, and you will find designated taxis lined up from many venues such as shopping centers, restaurants, etc. for your return trips. It’s not advised to flag a cab down from just anywhere. The cabs that are lined up in their designated areas are all documented and kept track of. If you’re planning on going to a desolate tour area, arrange for the same taxi that takes you there to pick you back up. And ALWAYS verify the fare before you sit down in the cab!

Alternatively, many tourists enjoy taking public transportation for the experience and the mere pocket change it costs to do so. Often these buses are not air conditioned. But I am more than happy to pay my $3 and take a cab.

Short True Story – The Good Samaritan

Approximately 12 years ago, my husband and I went to a beautiful resort in Nuevo Vallarta, a twenty-minute cab ride north of Puerto Vallarta. While we were touring around there at a market, my husband fancied a money belt that he purchased. When we checked out of the hotel to return home, the hotel concierge called us a special cab that went to the airport. We chatted with the nice driver all the way to the airport, thanked him and I gave him a nice tip.

As we lined up at airport check in, I asked my hub for his passport. He fumbled around for a moment then exclaimed, “I left the money belt in the taxi.” I freaked out and left him in line with the luggage as I was trying to find a policeman or someone who spoke English to get hold of that taxi driver. Finally, someone called the hotel we stayed at to find our which cab had taken us to the airport.

Before he hung up the phone I turned around in the beating hot sun to the sounds of a man shouting, “Lady, lady!” As though it were a miracle and a mirage, it was our cab driver – holding the money belt in his hand. Apparently, within minutes of leaving the airport, he spotted the money belt on the seat and brought it back to us, after frantically looking for us at the airport. I hugged him and couldn’t thank him enough and handed him an American $20 bill. He was elated, and we had hubby’s passport and every dollar he had in there remained.

Moral of the story? There are plenty of honest people still left on earth. Second moral? It was after that trip that I never allowed my husband to wear that money belt again – the one he thought was uncomfortable, so he took it off in the cab. From that trip on, I became the holder of all the money and the passports!

What to Buy?

Mexico is a great place to buy handcrafted items and silver. You will find many artisans crafting their wares at the markets. There are a variety of items you will find from straw bags, to cotton beach coverups, decorative plates, wind chimes, hats and much more. You will also find many of these items being sold on the beach as the Mexicans all dressed in white cotton and big sombreros carry their wares on their backs and hope to make a day’s pay. Always bargain as the prices will start higher than you will end up paying. The Mexico savvy travelers know that you must bargain, it’s half the fun!

What to Pack?

Pack summer clothes. It’s never cold in Mexico. But depending on the season, you may want to pack a couple long sleeves and a sweater. Although the temps are hot during the day, typically, November thru February you will have some beautiful breezy nights.
I found due to the humidity in the air that I never wore anything but sandals on my feet, day or night.

Make sure to pack a few sun hats, sunglasses, and bring your favorite sunscreen or buy it there. Great deals in Walmart! And of course, don’t forget your bathing suits and coverups, pretty much what I live in there.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of my Travel Column – Mexico, and maybe I’ll see you there next winter! Ole!

©D.G. Kaye 2018

I for one would love to visit Puerto Vallerta and my thanks to Debby for such a comprehensive guide to getting the best value for money in the safest and most enjoyable environment.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

About Twenty Years: After “I Do”.

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Michelle Clements James 5.0 out of 5 stars Written with candor and wit August 8, 2018

In TWENTY YEARS: AFTER “I DO” the author talks about some authentic problems one encounters when the love of their life experiences health issues of advancing age. In her instance there is an age gap of nearly 20 years, but none-the-less, the difficulties of illness of either partner, the marriage with not only a new partner, but with the partner’s family, and a plethora of other concerns are easily faced by a couple of any age and at any stage of their marriage if love and laughter are part of that union.. I’ve always believed that true love conquers all, and D.G. Kaye confirmed that belief with candor and wit in her book as she talks about the trials and tribulations of her own marriage.

To say that I am a huge fan of D. G. Kaye is an understatement. I love her style of writing, her honesty in telling it like it is, and her never-ending sense of humor. If you haven’t read any of her books, just peruse all the titles and find one or more you can relate to. The author writes in a way that you can easily slip into her identity and find yourself present in a real-life situation that may be similar to your own. You will laugh along with her, sympathize with her, and possibly learn something about life and your own situation.
TWENTY YEARS: AFTER “I DO” is highly deserving of 5 stars.

Read the other reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Other books by D.G. Kaye


Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

Come and visit me at our Literary Diva’s Library group on Facebook

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news of Debby’s travel column and we look forward to your questions and comments. Thanks Sally and Debby

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – A Summer Party, Music, Myths, Food, Great Books and Laughter…You are invited.

I never thought that I would say that I was grateful for some rain this last week.. but I am. Hopefully not too little, too late for farmers whose crops have stalled. It is a lovely afternoon and have been enjoying some sunshine.. so have my feather family who bring me constant amusement.

My best buy this summer was a metre square three inch seed tray that has become the swimming pool for a wide variety of birds. The bird bath and seed tree we bought last Christmas has also been inundated and preparing meals has never been so much fun. Sally’s Cafe and Bird Spa….

At times there are at least 50 or more birds on the feeder and in the baths with everyone joining in together. The starlings are very keen and spend ages in there splashing around, but until recently I had only seen the sparrows taking dust baths. Until this week when they have clearly picked up a few tricks from the starlings, and today there were little birds having a high old time since early morning and they are still at it now.

Normally when the crows come down the other birds scatter. The crows are not acrobatic enough to use the seeders as intended, so they have worked out another method. One stands on the metal ring and bangs his head on the seeders so that they scatter the seed on the ground below for his mates. However, like elegant pole dancers they can be found hanging upside down on the fat ball holder rocking back and forth as they try to get a morsel. They usually come in a group of rowdy teenagers, but we have got a crow who is rather bedraggled and skinny who started coming down on his own. Much to our surprise the starlings, sparrows and tits ignore him and hang around, and I even saw him in the pool with three starlings this morning.

The only bird who is not welcome is the sparrow hawk who sits on branches in the hedge and pounces on my babies… They are protected in Ireland, but there is nothing to say that I cannot come out and shout at him and wave my arms around like a mad woman. It seems to have discouraged him but my neighbour tells me it spends a lot of time in her garden.. ah well…

The Smorgasbord End of Summer Party Weekend 25th – 26th August

Thank you for such an amazing response.  There are four posts over the weekend with the themes Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner on the Saturday and Sunday Lunch. I am delighted to say that 3 spaces left for Brunch, 1 space in the afternoon tea,  and 2 for Sunday Lunch. The details are in the post and if you would like to be promoted then please do so quickly…

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – update and new promotional opportunities.

I have updated the directory with the blogger daily and other opportunities to promote authors in the cafe so please take a read.  Also in the second post.. how to put your books on the shelves for the first time.

Anyway on with the posts that you might have missed this week and as always a huge thank you for William Price King and Carol Taylor for supplying the music and the food this week, and to you for dropping by.

The Music Column with William Price King – Summer Jazz with Diana Krall

Writer in Residence rewind – Ionia by Paul Andruss.

I thought you might enjoy revisiting some of Paul’s ealier posts from the beginning of 2017 as he is on his extended break.. This week Ionia – Gods and Myths.


The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor.

This week Carol makes good use of the spices she mixed last week to create some show stopping meals for the family.

Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome children’s author, poet and master confectioner Robbie Cheadle as guest on the Getting to Know You interview. A very busy mum who works full-time but still finds time to write, blog, and support so many of us here.

Personal Stuff

Beatrix is about to end her very long and successful theatre career but what lies beneath the mask?

From early man through to the current day, the birthright of one particular family is carried from generation to generation.

Letters from America – 1985-1987 – My parent’s visit – Anniversary party and nearly lights out.

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – 1982 – Dionne Warwick and Survivor

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves.

Author Updates #reviews

Blogger Daily

Health Column

The components of our blood and Anaemia.


There has been a dramatic increase in cases of measles in some of the countries in Europe and there is a spike in the UK too. The most at risk are those with compromised immune systems and mothers-to-be and infants who have not been vaccinated.

Nutrients the body needs – Phosphorus and bone health

Humour and Afternoon Videos

More weird facts and trivia

The last part of the weird facts and trivia

Thank you very much for spending time here today and for your support.. enjoy the week .. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Robbie Cheadle.

Thank you for joining me today and I am sure that many of you already are connected to children’s author Robbie Cheadle, who writes story and cookbooks in the Sir Chocolate series with her equally talented son Michael.. The exciting news is that Robbie will be publishing a new book later this year set in wartime Britain, While the Bombs Fell. We can also expect another new release as part of a YA supernatural/horror series under the name of Roberta Eaton. Exciting times ahead.

Before we get to know Robbie a little better, here is the official word on this talented author and poet.

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books

More about Robbie and Michael’s books a little later, now it is time to find out which of the questions Robbie has decided to respond to.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

I never really thought I had any fashion sense as I have a blatant disregard for fashion. My Mother, however, says that I do have a fashion sense, it just isn’t really like anyone else’s. She says it is quaint and quirky.

I am a chartered accountant by training. People have a perception of chartered accountants, especially the women, as having a very conservative way of dressing. Grey, black and navy suits are what come to mind, with formal shirts or blouses, nylons and high heeled court shoes.

I have never favoured these colours or suits of any description. I like to wear colourful and bright clothes in yellows, pinks, pale blues and oranges. During the summer I wear full skirts with frilly, tight fitting tops and flat ballet-style shoes. Alternatively, I wear short dresses with high heeled shoes and no nylons. I love cardigans and have at least 50 in my cupboard. I have a cardigan for every occasion.

Sally here: I found this lovely photo of Robbie on Facebook at a book show wearing a beautiful red dress.

During the winter I like to wear slim fit trousers in bright colours or which sport flowery patterns. I wear long shirts over these trousers with a jersey or cardigan, colourful scarf and often short boots.

Even my hair no longer behaves itself and has gone quite wavy over the past few years. I wear it quite long now and often loose and wavy with a clip to keep it out of my eyes. No short and sharp power haircuts for me.

What do you consider the best “cake” that you prepare – and have you the recipe?

The most popular cake I make is a moist and rich chocolate cake. It is best made in a deep tin. It is not ideal for fondant icing but, as it is my family’s favourite, I often use it, together with a lovely milk vanilla cake recipe, to make a marble cake which is suitable for fondant icing.

I made a short video of how to make the rich chocolate cake which gives the ingredients. I don’t like making videos, partly because my son, Gregory, never seems to have time to do the filming and editing now that he is in high school, and partly because I often do my baking early in the morning when he wouldn’t be around anyway and I am still in my pyjamas. I have never fancied marketing myself as a pyjama-clad baker.

Sally here: You can find a number of tutorial videos on Robbie’s Youtube channel but I have to admit that I was very engaged in her video on how to make my favourite…. Choc Chip Cookies.

What is your favourite childhood song and why?

When I was a young girl we did not have a television in our home. I had to entertain myself by reading books and listening to my Mom’s record collection on her old and battered record player. Before she gave birth to me, my Mom used to enjoy to go to the theatre in London as often as possible. She would buy the record of the Broadway production after the show. She had a huge collection of Broadway records. I loved these records. I used to listen to them over and over again and I learned all the words and would sing along. My younger sister, Cath, also joined me quite often and she also learned the words. Our favourites were Mame, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music.

When my family moved into our new house and my parents moved into the cottage on the same property, my Mom gave her records to me. I still keep them in the old trunk she brought with her from England when we first came out to South Africa when I was a little girl. I often pull them out and listen to them and sometimes the boys come and listen to.

Their favourite is The Warrior from the South African musical Ipi Ntombi.

What is something you look forward to when you retire?

I harbour a hope that when I retire, I will finally have the time to do all the things I want to do. At the moment, I work full time in a demanding job, help my boys with their homework, projects and studying and also write poetry and prose, bake and make my fondant figurines. As a result, I am always frantically busy and never seem to get everything done that I want too. I hope when I retire this will change a bit but it may not as I may just find new projects to take on.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would love to live in England. I love the history and the literature that you find in England. I am not an outdoors person, preferring to spend my time doing fondant art, writing and reading to being outside. I try to squeeze in a bit of walking and pilates for health reasons but it is not a primary love.

I have travelled the UK a bit and my favourite areas are around Canterbury. I love the castles, Cathedral and other historical and religious points of interest. I feel quite familiar with this area now which is an added attraction.

I also enjoy Reading and the surrounding areas. I did enjoy Suffolk, and we have lots of family there, but I think if we moved we would need to be either close to London or Reading from a work perspective.

And I hope Robbie achieves her retirement dream and ends up living in the UK… and I thought that to end her interview I would share one of her music choices with this snippet from My Fair Lady.

Time to take a closer look at books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

About Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook.

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet get sugar water from the Sugar Crystal Caves to make delicious goodies for their shop. Unfortunately something is making the crystals melt. What can Sir Chocolate do? Includes four lovely new recipes.

One of the recent reviews for Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves.

This latest adventure of Sir Chocolate contains some of the most beautiful decorations in the series so far – the Chrystal Cave must have taken ages to construct and the other fondant figurines are lovely. The recipes are ideal for children as it shows them to make aeroplanes and wind mills with wafer biscuits. Sir Chocolate and Lade Sweet embark on another adventure to make sure that the sugar crystals won’t melt and they would still be able to make cool drinks for the inhabitants.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

Connect to Robbie and Michael


Thank you for visiting today and I know Robbie would love to receive your comments and answer any of your questions.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews #Offers – Diana J. Febry, Lorinda J. Taylor and John W. Howell

Welcome to the Friday edition of the author update where I share your most recent reviews and also news of any offers you are currently running.

The first author with a discount on a book is Diana J. Febry for Who Killed Vivien Morse (Peter Hatherall Mystery Book 4) which is 99p/99c 10th- 17th August.

About the book

Vivien Morse, a young social worker is discovered battered to death in Silver Lady Woods. Everyone assumes she was attacked by her estranged husband until her supervisor disappears. The connection appears to be Vivien’s last client. A damaged and disturbed girl who believes a bundle of rags is her lost baby and never leaves the family farm while she awaits the return of her lover.

The matter is confused by the arrival of a stranger to the area clearly searching for something or someone and an escaped convict with connections to the area.

DCI Hatherall has to separate fact from fantasy to discover who did kill Vivien Morse.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I do love a good murder mystery. This was a great one, with a fantastic plot that kept me guessing until the end. It has a very British feel and rich details that allowed me to easily slip into a foreign location. The characters were well developed, I especially enjoyed Fiona and Peter and the dynamic they have together. There were also so many other colorful characters they came across in their investigation.

I try to stay away from details, particularly with a mystery, so I don’t give anything away. So I will just say there are enough twists and turns and moments to keep you flipping pages and fully engaged to the end. Add to that the beautiful style and you can’t go wrong with this one.

Read the reviews and buy the book for 99p until August 17th:

And on Amazon US for 99c until August 17th:

The other books in the DCI Peter Hatherall series

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Read many more reviews and follow Diana on Goodreads:

Connect to Diana via her Facebook page:

The next author with a recent review is Lorinda J. Taylor for Fathers and Demons

About the book

All human beings must live with demons, but those demons are unusually powerful when they are summoned by the sort of catastrophe that happened aboard the Darter in 2761. No member of the crew completely escaped being affected, including the Engineer Cmdr. Ian Glencrosse. Nevertheless, when Capt. Nikalishin receives command of the first real interstellar mission under the new Phenix Project, he selects Ian Glencrosse to serve as his Chief Engineer; few experts in temporal quantum drive are still alive and Nikalishin and Glencrosse have become close friends. And in spite of (or perhaps because of) his own demons, Glencrosse accepts the appointment.

As the day approaches when the IS Ariana will depart for Epsilon Eridani, the crew takes leave time to attend the wedding of the Communications Officer, Lt. Avi Oman, and Capt. Mercedes Tulu, Administrative Aide to the Phenix Project’s Mission Director. Lt. Oman hails from the Istrian Judish Enclave, a place of origin mysterious to most 28th-century Earthers, and the visit proves to be an enlightening experience. What can we expect to have become of remnant religious populations in the humanist 28th century?

Cmdr. Glencrosse does not accompany his fellow crewmembers on this happy excursion. He has long been haunted by visions of a malevolent entity that inhabits the depths of space – the very entity he sees as responsible for destroying the Darter. Both his Captain and the team psychologist know about this aberration; in fact, Dr. Winehandle had at one time improvised an unfortunate nickname for the entity – “the god in the pod.” While the Engineer’s peers think his delusions are under control, Ian still secretly believes in the reality of this demon space-god – that it disapproves of humans’ invasion of its territory and therefore has doomed the upcoming mission to destruction. Ian is convinced he will not survive the voyage and so he is heading home to Mitchican Prefecture, where he plans to confront his parents and make his peace after a long separation.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Colleen M. Chesebro 5.0 out of 5 stars I’d like to be clear July 15, 2018

I have been an avid reader of the series, “The Man Who Found Birds Among the Stars,” by Lorinda J. Taylor. I have read and reviewed part one, “Eagle Ascendant,” part two, “Wounded Eagle,” part three, “Bird of Prey,” and part four, “Survivor.” All of these reviews are searchable on

I’ve adored this series which is a deep character study of Captain Robbin Nikalishin’s experiences as a starship captain set far into the future. I was thrilled to find out that the author had penned an additional book which appeared to be an offshoot of the original series.

Fathers and Demons is a detailed chronicle of two characters from the series, Captain Robbin Nikalishin and his Chief Engineer, Ian Glencrosse who are survivors of the original Darter disaster. Both men have been scarred mentally and physically from their near-death experiences.

The men embark on a philosophical journey searching for the meaning of their experiences, exploring the future religions of Catholicism and Judaism as perceived by the author. The two men attempt to overcome their fear of a malicious entity they believe is waiting for them in deep space.

Now, I’d like to be clear. The descriptions of each religion are mostly fictional and based on the author’s interpretations of what she perceives to transfer into a future era. I do, however, acknowledge that much of the religious discussion is fact-based. In this way, the characters tend to explain some of the more detailed aspects of their own belief systems.

Taylor explains:

“The theme of fatherhood and the connections between fathers and gods form the mesh that binds the book together. The most appropriate designation to accord this piece is speculative literary fiction; it is science fiction in that it takes place in a future time, at the very inception of interstellar travel, but it also deals with demons and gods that may or may not be real, introducing an element of the supernatural.”

(Taylor, Lorinda J. Fathers and Demons: Glimpses of the Future. Kindle Edition.)

It is into this atmosphere that we meet our characters. Captain Robbie has limited religious training other than a few consultations with a Catholic Priest. Ian, the Chief Engineer has grown up under Judaism. Both men are searching for answers and as most humans do when they can’t find clarification, they turn to religion to help find those explanations. Adding to their turmoil, the men are conflicted by the relationships they had with their fathers.

This is not an action-packed novel, but I found the philosophical discussions to be most gratifying. I learned quite a bit about Judaism that I didn’t know. I would suggest reading the “Note from the Author,” at the beginning of the book to gain further insight into the creativity of this author.

I’m glad I waited to read this book long after I had finished the first four books of the series. I grew to love the characters from the series, so Fathers and Demons only added to my enjoyment.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5  Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5  Reader Enjoyment: 5  Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

A selection of other books by Lorinda J. Taylor

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Lorinda on Goodreads:

Connect to Lorinda via her blog:

Colleen Chesbro is also an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Colleen Chesebro, Buy:


For the final update today, a recent review for Circumstances of Childhood by John. W. Howell.

About Circumstances of Childhood.

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

One of the recent reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the first page to the last. The main protagonist, Greg Petros, was a fascinating and well-rounded character. The relationship between Greg and his best friend/brother, Keith, was touching and heart-warming. This is quite a change from the author’s usual thriller books but a refreshing one at that.

The author created a story with great depth and heart. He took the reader on a journey from Greg’s childhood to adulthood with highlights of his accomplishments as a pro football player, announcer and then to his own business as a manager of an investment fund. The story takes a turn into the paranormal which flows into the storyline seamlessly.

The author exhibited his expertise in computers, high finance, and football strategy which added to the storyline making it full and richer. I found this to be an unforgettable read showing how love can heal and conquer all things. John W. Howell is one talented author who is a rising star.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Also by John W. Howell.

Read the reviews and buy all of the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads:

Connect to John via his website:

Janice Spina is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Janice Spina, Buy:

Please visit Amazon or Janice’s blog to view all her books for adults and children.


Thank you for visiting today and I hope you will check out the authors and books in more detail. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord End of Summer #Party – Weekend August 25th/26th 2018 – Invitation.

You are invited to the End of Summer Party on the weekend of August 25th and 26th to enjoy music, good food, witty conversation and an opportunity to plug your books and your blog.

Of course in this virtual world of ours music is great, and so is the wit, but the food is less fattening. It is a chance to mingle and make new contacts and learn more about your fellow bloggers which is always a good thing.

To enable you to do this, there will be four meals where you can be a guest over the two days.

Brunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner on Saturday and Sunday Lunch.

I want to make this as easy as possible to accept this invitation so please just answer these three questions.

  1. Please give me the title of a piece of music that means a lot to you with a brief reason why.
  2. The one food you could never give up.
  3. Give me your preferred meal – Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner or Sunday Lunch.

Then all you have to do is email me the answer to the three questions above.

What I need from you – again really easy.

If you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore or have been a guest before I need nothing more from you as your details are on file.

If you are an author and are not currently in the Cafe and Bookstore, please take a look, and if you would like to put your books on the shelves then just send me the link to Amazon.

If you have never been a guest on Smorgasbord before then please send me the link to your blog and if I need any more information I will email you back.

I have a set number of places at each of the tables, and if I cannot fit you in then I will move you to one of the other meals.

My job as the host is to make sure you are in the spotlight and I will delve into your blog or social media to find interesting snippets!!!

Don’t worry if you have other things going on that weekend and feel you cannot participate… the posts will still be there on Monday and you can catch up then.

Any questions just email me

Look forward to hearing from you pronto… table reservations will go quickly…….thanks Sally





Smorgasbord Blogger Daily and #Reviewers – Tuesday 7th August 2018 – #Pirates with Mary Tod, #Writing with Deborah Jay and #Historical Review with Olga Nunez Miret

We are never too old to learn, and one of the most exciting aspects of blogging is expanding your horizons. Every day is a voyage of discovery and I love sharing mine with you. I am just sorry that there is not enough room to share more.

And on that note… here is a post all about pirates from the blog of author Mary Tod and her guest Helen Hollick

Helen Hollick has written a series of nautical Voyages based around her fictional pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his ship, Sea Witch, but her latest UK release in paperback is a non-fiction book – Pirates: Truth and Tales published by Amberley Press, which explores our fascination with the real pirates and those who are favourites in fiction. Today, she drops anchor for another interesting addition to her on-line two-week Voyage around the Blogs … over to you, Helen.

What would you regard as ‘essential’ for a pirate? A cutlass? A bottle of rum? A buxom wench? No. He needs a ship. Without a ship a pirate wouldn’t be a pirate he’d just be a thief – unless he had a horse, in which case he would be a highwayman.

Most pirates stole their ships, upgrading to something bigger and faster, or something a little more sea-worthy than their current one. They also did not appear to have much imagination when it came to re-naming their stolen prize as there were quite a few vessels named Ranger, Rover or Revenge. But when writing fiction we have the freedom to be a little more inventive. I named pirate’s ship Sea Witch because the lead female, Tiola, is a midwife, healer – and white witch.

I came up with the idea for an adult pirate adventure soon after thoroughly enjoying the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was enormous escapism fun. I wanted something similar to read, but couldn’t find anything: plenty of young adult, plenty of ‘straight’ nautical fiction, nothing with a charmer of a hero and a touch of fantasy written specifically for adults though. So I wrote my own. I had intended it to be a ‘one off’… I am currently writing the sixth voyage in the series, seventh if you count an e-book-only novella prequel, When the Mermaid Sings.

Head over and find out a great deal more about these swashbucklers:

Now a post from author Deborah Jay  on how to grab our reader’s attention and crucially hold it until the end of the story or book. I am sure that we all have picked up a book in great anticipation and then lost momentum a few chapters in.

How to write attention grabbing sentences: active vs passive construction #amwriting

With the huge number of novels available these days, it’s important to grab your readers’ attention immediately or they may never read past the sample pages Amazon offers.
There’s lots of advice out there on writing those all-important opening lines – start with action, suggest something unusual, be controversial etc. – but I want to focus today on the physical structure of your sentences.

The inspiration for this post came about after I finished a really great book (see my review of THE HARVEST OF LIES here) and delved into my Kindle to find my next read. Yes, I have a (huge) TBR list, but I tend not to read in order of arrival, but instead sort through them until I find what suits my mood of the time, and after reading a really well written book, I wanted something comparable.

Sadly, the next book I opened, one that I’d thought from the blurb would be right up my alley, didn’t live up to my expectations. I read the first sentence and stopped.
PASSIVE CONSTRUCTION is a real turn off for me, and I know I’m not alone.
What do I mean by passive construction? Use of words such as ‘was’, ‘had’, ‘had been’ ‘begun to’, and the like – unnecessary words that slow the reading experience. Obviously past tense requires some of these, but when writing in present tense, why use them?

For example, here is that sentence that bounced me right out of a book I was looking forward to reading:

“The scream made Taka drop the snowball she had just been aiming at her friend’s head…”

Action? Yes. But the passive construction makes it wordy and distancing. Why not:

“The scream made Taka drop the snowball she’d aimed at her friend’s head…”

See what I mean? Crisper, more direct, less words. So simple.

Head over and discover more examples on how to crisp up your writing and let Deborah know what makes you drop a book after a few pages or chapters:

Deborah is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Deborah Jay, Buy

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And to round things off today a review from Olga Nunez Miret whose detailed posts get to the essence of the book she is featuring. This Tuesday an historical novel by Joanna Hickson… The Tudor Crown.

Book review. The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson

About the book

She’ll betray her King to crown her son.

‘An intriguing tale, told with confidence’ The Times

When Edward of York takes back the English crown, the Wars of the Roses scatter the Lancastrian nobility and young Henry Tudor, with a strong claim to the throne, is forced into exile.

Recently widowed and vulnerable, his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, forges an uncomfortable alliance with Edward’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Swearing an oath of allegiance to York, Margaret agrees to marry the king’s shrewdest courtier, Lord Stanley. But can she tread the precarious line between duty to her husband, loyalty to her son, and her obligation to God and the king?

When tragedy befalls Edward’s reign, Richard of York’s ruthless actions fire the ambition of mother and son. As their destinies converge each of them will be exposed to betrayal and treachery and in their gruelling bid for the Tudor crown, both must be prepared to pay the ultimate price…

The start of Olga’s review.

I must start by saying that although I’ve been reading more historical fiction recently, I am not an expert on the subject, and I know a bit more about other historical periods than about the rise to power of Henry VII of England. I was familiar with the bare facts and, like many people, knew of Richard III through Shakespeare’s play. So, please take my comments about historical accuracy with a pinch of salt (I might be totally wrong!).

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I had not read any of Joanna Hickson’s previous books but thought this would be an opportunity to familiarise myself with the period and to discover her writing. The book follows the adventures of Henry Tudor, whom we meet as a youth, as he escapes England with his uncle Jasper Owen, and also his mother’s, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who is left in the unenviable position of being widowed and a known supporter of the losing side (the House of Lancaster) in the new court of Edward IV (of the House of York). The chapters, written in first person from the points of view of the two protagonists, alternate as required by the action (at times we might have several chapters from Margaret’s point of view, and towards the end, when Henry returns to England, while his mother is confined to her husband’s household, we have several from his point of view), and we also have access to their epistolary interaction (as many years passed before they set eyes on each other).

Head over and enjoy the rest of Olga’s review of The Tudor Crown:

Olga is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Olga Nunez Miret – Buy:

Please visit Amazon or Olga’s blog to view all her books.


I hope that you have enjoyed this small selection of posts and will explore them further.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Hammer’s Holy Grail by B.R. Chitwood

Billy Ray Chitwood had a very busy month in July with two new releases. Hammer’s Holy Grail was released on July 9th.

About Hammer’s Holy Grail

A star quarterback at Grand View University in Knoxville, Tennessee battles not only his gridiron foes but his Appalachian father’s anger toward his mother and sister. By a turn of fate and nature, Wesley Walton will meet a man ravaged by war and lost love, a man, through his hardships, has come to peace with his spirituality, a man who will become a surrogate soulmate and mentor to the confused young athlete.

This is a short novel but it is long on love, family, forgiveness, and football action – all blending to make this short read a ‘tour de force’ in its own right, with a twist at the end to tie the ribbon to this gift of a novel!

Head over and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:

Here is a small selection of Billy Ray’s books


One of the recent reviews for Mama’s Madness.

Mama’s madness is a work of fiction, but according to the author Billy Ray Chitwood, there are some inspirations from actual criminal behavior. This is a story about the meanest, lowlife, straight razor totin’ woman named Tamatha Preen. She is the mother of six kids and the ex-wife of four husbands. Although this seems a little abnormal in everyday life, compared to mama’s proclivities having four husbands is normal in comparison. Let’s say mama has some problems and as you can guess the children are the ones who bear the brunt of her mental issues. To describe any of the abusive behaviors would be courting spoilers, so I’m just going to summarize by saying mama is evil.

The writing in this story is so good the reader feels like a transportation into the scenes has taken place. The descriptions of people, places, and events are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Mr. Chitwood has been blessed with a golden pen (or keyboard). He can show the reader all the sights, sounds, and smells of each scene through a tapestry that only can be woven by a perfectionist literary genius. I think that pretty much describes Billy Ray Chitwood. He has honed his writing art, and there is no more exquisite example of the resulting output than this book. I would recommend Mama’s madness to anyone who enjoys a deeply disturbing story told effectively and with great taste.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Billy Ray on Goodreads:

About Billy Ray Chitwood

An Appalachian hill boy from east Tennessee, Billy Ray Chitwood has family roots that go back to tenth century England and a hamlet just north of London called Chetwode.

Billy Ray received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, taught high school ‘Advanced Writing’ in Lorain, Ohio. He has served honorably and proudly in the United States Navy. Aside from sales/marketing management positions with top textbook publishers, he has been a model and an actor in film, stage, television. He is still active in his own business as the CEO of Chitwood, Inc.

Billy Ray has written fifteen books, most of which you will find on amazon and amazon UK. Many of his novels of fiction were inspired from actual crimes. His first book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son,” is a fictional memoir which has much factual and historical accuracy about the author’s own life.

Currently, Billy Ray spends his time on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee with his lovely wife, Julie Anne, and their feisty but lovable Bengal cat named George.

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Thanks for dropping in today and please share the news about Billy Ray’s new Kindle release.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – #Children’s Book – Where’s Noodles by Victoria Zigler

Children’s author Victoria Zigler has a new release Where’s Noodles  which I am sure will delight her many fans.

About Where’s Noodles

Noodles is a strange red creature with a squeaker in his tummy, who just happens to be the favourite toy of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie. At least, he is now, since the bushytailed squirrel and cuddly triceratops fell apart while she was playing with them – totally not her fault, by the way!

Now noodles is missing.

Lilie’s sure she left Noodles on the living room floor when she went walkies. But when she comes home and goes to fetch him so they can have a nap together, Noodles isn’t there.

Where’s Noodles? Is he somewhere else, or is he lost forever?”

Currently available in multiple eBook formats, with paperback and audio versions planned for the near future.

Barnes and Noble

A small selection of other books by Victoria Zigler

One of the recent reviews for Home Squeak Home on Goodreads

Jan 09, 2018 Robbie Cheadle Rated if Four Stars.

When Matthew’s mother takes him to the pet store to choose a pet he ends up leaving with two gerbils. The pet store assistance had told his mother that gerbils are very sociable animals and need company, so they had bought two. How wonderful.

Sooty and Scamp are a little sad to be leaving their two brothers, but they are excited to have a new, permanent home. What a home it turns out to be, so different from their old and very plain cage in the pet store.

Home Squeak Home is a lovely story for young children with a lovely subtle message about coping with change and a new environment

You can download all the other books in all formats and audio from Amazon:

and Amazon US:

Victoria has a great many reviews on Goodreads and I suggest that you head there first to read:

About Victoria Zigler

My name is Victoria, but most of my friends and family call me Tori. Feel free to do the same.

Born in the shadow of the black mountains in Wales, I now live by the sea in the south-east of England with my husband, Kelly, a degu named Joshua, a pair of chinchillas named Mollie and Maizie, and a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie.

Having battled with glaucoma since birth, I now find myself completely blind. But I didn’t let that stop me from chasing the dream I’ve had since I was a young child: the dream of being a published author. I’ve loved to read and write since I learned how, and always wanted to get my work published. Finally, in 2012, I made that dream come true by self-publishing eBooks via Smashwords. Three years later, I began using CreateSpace to make my books available in print. So now I’m a published author of children’s fiction, as well as a couple of poetry collections; all of which are available in multiple eBook formats, and as paperback books.

Reading and writing remain my favourite things to do, apart from spending time with my husband, and our rodent gang, of course. I also enjoy doing crafts (such as card making and knitting). Plus, I dabble in things like roleplaying games (such as Dungeons And Dragons) and figure games (such as BattleTech and Monsterpocalypse) from time to time, and enjoy watching movies and TV shows as well as listening to music. On top of that, I have an interest in history, especially stone age and Egyptian history, and in space exploration. I also love almost anything to do with animals and nature. I have to say “almost” because I’m not too keen on spiders and creepy crawly things, though can pretend they don’t exist if they don’t come too close to me.

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Thank you for dropping in and it would be great if you could share the news of Victoria’s latest children’s book. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Ali Whitelock, Jim Webster, D. Wallace Peach and Terry Tyler

Welcome to the first of this week’s update for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews.

Ali Whitelock has been enjoying a great deal of publicity for her recently released poetry collection – And My Heart Crumples Like a Coke Can.

About And My Heart Crumples Like a Coke Can

Raw and beautiful and completely devoid of pretension, Ali Whitelock’s poems will speak to anyone who’s ever messed up, been confused, wished they’d done things differently; to anyone who’s had an affair and regretted it, who’s been loved completely but was too blind to see it.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Kevin MacNeil author of The Brilliant & Forever

One of the wittiest, liveliest and most moving collections I’ve read in recent years. These poems are sassy, heart-wrenching and unforgettable. They evoke the best of Bukowski and Ginsberg while being the unique product of a contemporary female mind, a mind that is hilarious, provocative and – remarkable. Reading this collection made me feel like I was at a book festival, stand-up comedy night and therapy session all at once. Every poem is an event. 

Head over and buy the collection:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Ali here: Alison Whitelock Goodreads

  Buy both books from Ali’s Amazon Author Page:

Connect to Ali via her website:

Jim Webster has received a recent review for A Licence to Print Money: The Port Naain Intelligence

About the book

An honest cartographer attempts to steer his way though grasping bureaucrats, bent bookmakers, magistrates who practice performance poetry and a young lady who wishes to end an ‘arrangement.’

Can Benor see justice done? Will Mutt finally meet his match? What do they teach aspiring temple dancers nowadays?

A recent review for the book

15 July 2018

Someone has tried to cheat Benor and his young ‘apprentice’ Mutt. They set out, with a little help, to redress the balance. Another in this series of Port Naain novellas that had me smiling. They are not belly-laugh stories but full of wry, clever and thoughtful humour. Often, it’s the way he tells them. I’m always up for more of these stories.

Head over and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

A selection of other books by Jim Webster please visit Amazon to view them all.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Jim on Goodreads:

Connect to Jim via his blog:

The next author with a recent review is D.Wallace Peach for Soul Swallowers ( The Shattered Sea Book 1)

About Soul Swallowers

When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness.

Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul.

When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head.

Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.

One of the recent reviews for the book

In a sentence: I can’t wait for Book 2   VINE VOICE on July 25, 2018

As I’ve come to expect, D. Wallace Peach’s latest fantasy novel, Soul Swallowers (2018) is well-constructed with addictive characters, a riveting plot, and a world I believed. In this story, Raze Anvrell, son of Lord Rydan Anvrell of Kestrel and heir to that mighty empire, rejects an arranged marriage that would strengthen his father’s power and expand their holdings. His trump card in the contentious argument that comes to a head one evening is that he has already married–and to a commoner. In short, he chose love over politics. When his wife is killed by marauders, Raze abandons his royal life for the world of a laborer, choosing drunken brawls and hard work over a luxurious life of privilege. Life leads him to the farming freehold of a good man who is gathering like-minded individuals to help him live out his dream. Raze becomes, if not happy, at least content. When this good man dies, Raze swallows his first soul in a maybe desperate attempt to gather this man’s peace and tranquility, his vision of life, even his moral purpose and respect for all around him. When Raze’s brother seeks him out, not to return to the family but in friendship, it seems to be the nexus for change in Raze’s world.

As we travel with Raze through about a decade of his life, fight slavers, befriend a witch, cross paths with spirits of the dead, and ultimately reconnect with the woman he was promised to, the intrigue and mystery never ends. Raze’s world, though fantasy, is so realistic, I found myself subconsciously trying to figure out where in time and place it could be, knowing–of course–it was nowhere. At the root of this story is redemption, forgiveness, and family. Maybe mostly family.

Some of the great lines I found–and have come to expect in Diana’s writing:

“…brushed by the sea in hues of silver and slate, the sun swallowed by masses of churning clouds.”

“He’d kissed her and lost his grip on the boundaries framing his life, heart swept sideways and head muddled.”

“The weight of his loss drenched the very air and pressed on the clouds until they ripped open.” 

Read the reviews and buy the book

And on Amazon UK :

A selection of other books by D.Wallace Peach

Read the reviews and buy:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Diana on Goodreads:

Connect to D. Wallace Peach via her website/blog:

Jacqui Murray is also an author in the cafe and bookstore.

Jacqui Murray, Buy:

The next author celebrating recent reviews for her latest release is Terry Tyler for UK2 (Project Renova Book 3)

About UK2 (Project Ronova Book 3)

‘Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.’

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors’ way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south. UK2 governor Verlander’s plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies. Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum…

‘I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows. I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man. I was free, at last.’

Although this concludes the Project Renova trilogy, there will be more books in the series. A collection of five side stories is planned, and another novel, set far into the future.

One of the recent  reviews for the book

This is the third (and final?) instalment of the Project Renova series, and it doesn’t disappoint. In this book, our time is equally divided between Lindisfarne in the north and the dreadful UK2 city in the south. As always, excellent characterisation is the author’s bedrock. Characters may be lovely, stupid, evil, thoughtless or naive, but they always drew an emotional response. I loved the way that some characters (such as Flora) developed throughout the book and came to slowly realise the truth of the situation, whilst others turned out to be not what they seemed initially.

On a technical front, some liberties were taken e.g. the microchipping of UK2 residents, because as any dog owner knows you need to get very close to a microchip to read it.

I hope there is more to this series – I’d really like to find out what happened to Chester and Verlander amongst others.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

A selection of other books by Terry Tyler

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Terry Tyler on Goodreads:

Connect to Terry via her website:

Thanks very much for dropping in today and if you could it would be great if you could spread the word about these authors and their recent reviews.. thanks Sally.