Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Life #Change – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike

Delighted to share the news of Toni Pike’s latest release – Linda’s Midlife Crisis…

About the book

Meet Linda Lockwood: fifty, fat, frumpy and bullied by her horrible husband Ron and the vile students and principal at the school where she teaches English. But her life is about to undergo a total transformation.

Linda suffers a breakdown after a traumatic classroom incident, and that brings out the worst in Ron and devious principal, Wayne Forsythe. Then she is rocked to discover her husband has a shocking secret.

With her own determination and the help of friends and family, she starts to turn her life around. Her own success might be the best revenge, but life still has some more surprises for Linda.

My review for the book May 21st 2022

This is a heartwarming read that shares the journey of Linda Lockwood as she suffers bullies in and out of the classroom, a husband who treats her like a doormat and is very vocal in public about her ‘flaws’, and her own lack of self-esteem.

Just how much is too much, and when will Linda finally snap? At 50 years old and at the end of her tether she decides there has to be a better life than this. Especially when her secret dreams are thrown back in her face.

After years as a teacher she is resourceful and over the following months Linda gets back her joy in life and begins to open up to the world. Meeting new friends, being close to family and looking amazing she blossoms.The one area of her life that doesn’t tempt her is romance, but when you are not looking, sometimes it finds you anyway.

This story encourages all those who find themselves suddenly alone and facing an uncertain future that there is hope and a second chance. Recommended.

Head over to buy the book Amazon: USAUKAustraliaCanadaand follow reviews on Goodreads

A selection of other books by Toni Pike for children and adults

Connect to Toni and buy the books: Amazon AustraliaAmazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Toni:Goodreads – Website: Toni PikeTwitter:@piketoni1

About Toni Pike

Toni Pike is a multi-genre author who enjoys writing exciting thrillers for adults, non-fiction, and hilarious books for children. She also loves travelling and being with family and friends. She lives in Australia and firmly believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.

Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? Pike is the author of DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.


She’s also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and coping with the journey. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with great advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.


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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – #Writing, #Genres, #Indie Jacqui Murray

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Jacqui Murray shares the five things, that as a writer she wishes she knew then…wonderful insight for new authors about to begin their journey and a great review of useful tips for more established writers.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now by Jacqui Murray

I’ve been writing for over thirty years. I’ve written tech manuals, non-fiction, military fiction, historical fiction, freelance journalism, reviews for clients, lesson plans, class syllabi–pretty much anything that would pay the bills (within limits). I’ve learned a lot about what works and what should be avoided. I made a lot of mistakes, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to skip any of them because I learn from mistakes. I bet you do, too. But there are a few bits of wisdom I wish I’d known when I started that would have saved me time, money, and stress.

Here are five:

Genre have rules. Follow them

Have you ever cracked open a book that promised to be a thriller, filled with action and adventure, and got a redo of Fantasy Island? World Famous Authors can break rules when they write. Ordinary Folk (like me) have to follow them and some of the most important are the ones that apply to genres. As a new author, these are sacred ground.

Learn them and then follow them until your name appears on a cover bigger than the title.

Then, do what you want. For example, thrillers are dominated by exciting plots with flawed super heroes who save the world by doing the impossible. Literary fiction characters are ordinary people out to find themselves while they save their souls. Historical fiction–don’t skimp on authentic details about your selected time long gone, be it Ancient Greece or the Old West.

There are over one hundred genres (I know because I have a genre series where I demystify them for you and I’m up to 147) so you have a lot of choices. Early in your writing, decide what your genre is and then research the guidelines. If it’s fantasies, your audience expects serious world-building. Sci fi aficionados want space, planets, and other worlds. Give people what they want at least at the beginning of your writing career and they will return the favor by buying your books and talking about them online.

Voice is why people read your book

Readers may buy your book because the blurb sounds good or it has a great cover, but if they’ll read the next one because they love your voice. Figure out who you are, what makes you different from other writers in your genre. Embrace that and never look back.

It takes a long time to write a novel.

I took twenty-five years to write my first novel (and I’m not unusual) which included at least three complete rewrites, a dozen re-edits, and more than three times I quit only to return. I tried short stories and poetry, but really, novels are my schtick so I suffered through thinking I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or connected enough. But, each problem I knocked down like pins in a bowling alley. Sure, there were 3,498 and I had to solve all of them (because–no agent), but each one made me stronger and more confident.

Going Indie is a great option

I don’t know any authors who started writing with the dream of being an Indie author. Usually, that goal arrives after the 1,019th rejection, or the third time an agent suggests changes that revert a story to an original version. At a certain point, you get tired of playing the agent-publisher game, stick a toe in the Indie publishing world, and find out it’s warm, without piranha, and with plenty of room for all kinds of authors. For me, that took a really long time, but I’d never go back. I like the independence, relying on myself, not having to accommodate someone else’s interests, writing according to my own timeline, choosing my own cover, making my own decisions, getting immediate answers to questions (from myself), and more.

And the money is better–unless your Elizabeth George or Lee Child. Then, stick with agents.

Writing is a gift with ‘some assembly required’.

I often compare my writing to the Vulcan game of Kal-toh . It’s a Star Trek game where all the pieces look jumbled and misfit until they snap together as though by magic.

Most writers have heard that something like 80% (depends upon where you get your statistic) of people have a book in them. After all, it doesn’t take any special skills, right? You sit at a keyboard, write a story, edit it with ProWriter or Grammarly, have a best friend read and approve it, and then upload it to Kindle.

Trigger warning: Some assembly required. Remember Christmas Eve with a box of parts and you have to use all of them. That’s writing, too. All the pieces are in your head–characters, plot, setting, theme, goals. The trick is to get them all to fit before you lose interest.

That’s it–five things I wish I’d known when I started writing. How about you?

©Jacqui Murray 2022

My thanks to Jacqui for this wonderful response to the prompt. I am sure that you can relate to the five points included and great advice for new and established writers. I know she would love to hear from you.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Spring 2022.

A selection of books by Jacqui Murray

My review for Laws of Nature August 2021

I read the first book in this trilogy in 2018 and eagerly awaited book two. The author does set the scene for this second book, but I do recommend that you read Born in Treacherous Time first.

Difficult to extol the virtues of this book without giving away spoilers, but I can tell you it is an extraordinary story of survival under the most extreme conditions the earth was experiencing 1.8 million years ago. Unpredictable is putting it mildly, with earth shifts, bitter cold, droughts, floods with violent storms with lightening splintering the ground and causing rampant fires. Shelter is a rarity from the elements and when it is discovered it holds even more dangers within.

This is not a fantasy story, as it is about the real and dangerous evolutionary journey of not just man, but many of the world’s beast that we are more familiar with today. It is a time where there are a number of versions of humans, some who are more advanced than others, but even they marvel when they come into contact with those they consider more primitive. Despite this early stage in man’s evolution, natural and instinctive skills have already been lost, and it is the respect for these abilities that spark the fascination of ‘Man who Preys’ a long term enemy.

Lucy and her group have members gathered along the harsh journey who have found themselves outcast or abandoned during shifts in the earth or extreme climate conditions. They are a mismatched mix of species who learn from each other and adapt to form an unbreakable bond.There are whispers of how the individuals will evolve into modern day counterparts such big cats and primates but also sadly those that have become extinct.

The author writes flawlessly and takes you on a journey into our past with detailed accounts of this harsh environment and its inhabitants. It is an adventure with heartbreak and also moments when you can only applaud the ingenuity and the will to survive of these primitive ancestors of ours. It certainly leaves you will a greater appreciation of all we have in this modern world.

I hope you will read both book one and two of this trilogy and I am looking forward to following Lucy and her group as they continue their journey in book 3.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter: @WordDreams


Thanks for dropping in today and it would be wonderful if you could share Jacqui’s post .. Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf – New Book on the Shelves – #Mystery #Crime Ticket to Ride by Winona Kent

Delighted to welcome Winona Kent to the Bookshelf with her recently release crime mystery Ticket to Ride.

About the book

In Lost Time, professional musician / amateur sleuth Jason Davey was rehearsing for Figgis Green’s 50th Anniversary Tour of England. Now they’re on the road.

But when a fortune-teller in Sheffield warns them of impending danger, the band is suddenly plagued by a series of seemingly-unrelated mishaps.

After Jason is attacked and nearly killed in Cambridge, and a fire alarm results in a very personal theft from Mandy’s hotel room, it becomes clear they’re being targeted by someone with a serious grudge.

And when Figgis Green plays a gig at a private estate in Tunbridge Wells, that person finally makes their deadly intentions known.

Jason must rely on his instincts, his Instagram “guardian angel,” and a wartime ghost who might possibly share his DNA, in order to survive.

Ticket to Ride is the fourth book in Winona Kent’s mystery series featuring jazz musican-turned-amateur sleuth Jason Davey.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Debra Purdy Kong 5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate, Beautifully Written Whodunit  Reviewed in Canada on April 22, 2022

Musician Jason Davey is touring with his mother’s band, Figgis Green, when strange things start to happen. Threatening emails, a falling gargoyle, and a guardian angel named Jilly are just some of the events that slowly escalate into a potentially life-threatening situation for Jason and his mom, Mandy. The death of an ardent fan who might have been stalking Jason ramps up the trouble in this delightful mystery.

Ticket To Ride is an interesting blend of old and new. Set in England, the author’s beautifully detailed descriptions of historic hotels, villages, and venues contrast sharply with the technology Jason uses to investigate the threatening emails. The story evolves into an intricate web of deception and revenge that had me guessing to the end. This is the 4th installment in the Jason Davey mystery series. Fans of British whodunits and music will love this book. I certainly did.  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon CA –  Amazon USAmazon UK

A selection of other books by Winona Kent

Read the reviews and buy the books: AmazonUSAUKCAEpub: Kobo Follow WinonaGoodreads – Website: Winona KentFacebook: Winona Kent – Twitter: @winonakent

About Winona Kent

Winona Kent is an award-winning author who was born in London, England and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she completed her BA in English at the University of Regina. After moving to Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School.

Winona’s writing breakthrough came many years ago when she won First Prize in the Flare Magazine Fiction Contest with her short story about an all-night radio newsman, Tower of Power.

Her short story Dietrich’s Ash was an Okanagan Short Fiction Award winner and was published in Canadian Author & Bookman, anthologized in Pure Fiction (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) and broadcast on the CBC Radio program Ambience.

Her short story Creatures from Greek Mythology was a Second Prize Winner and WQ Editors Prize and was published in Cross-Canada Writers Quarterly.

Her spy novel Skywatcher was a finalist in the Seal Books First Novel Competition and was published in 1989. This was followed by a sequel, The Cilla Rose Affair, and her first mystery, Cold Play, set aboard a cruise ship in Alaska.

After three time-travel romances (Persistence of Memory, In Loving Memory and Marianne’s Memory), Winona returned to mysteries with Disturbing the Peace, a novella, in 2017, the novel Notes on a Missing G-String in 2019 and the novel Lost Time in 2020, all featuring the character she first introduced in Cold Play, jazz musician / amateur sleuth Jason Davey.

Winona has been a temporary secretary, a travel agent and the Managing Editor of a literary magazine. She recently retired from her full-time job as a Program Assistant at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. She’s currently the BC/YT/NWT rep for the Crime Writers of Canada and lives in N


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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up 9th- 15th May 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, St. Thomas, Magnesium, Short Stories, Podcast, Health, Travel, Books, Reviews, Health and Humour

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

I hope you are doing well in your neck of the woods. In this one we have had some glorious weather this last week and I have taken advantage of the garden. Decorating is going well with the dining room now pearl grey and white woodwork.. Awaiting the floor to be sanded and I am off to buy new curtains during the week.

The young plants I potted a couple of weeks ago are beginning to flower and it is a bit of mystery as to the colours as I bought variety packs and in a week or two I will share the results.

On the blog front

I am delighted that I Wish I Knew Then series is being enjoyed and there are several more scheduled for the coming weeks and so grateful to those who are participating and sharing their stories. This week Jacquie Biggar, Rebecca Budd, Denise Finn and Jacqui Murray share their thoughts on the prompt.

As always I will be putting on a Summer Book Fair featuring all the authors that I have personally recommended who are on the Smorgasbord Bookshelf. In the first posts beginning in June, I will be sharing books that are the first in a series to encourage readers to start at the beginning and hopefully then read the following books. I will then continue with authors with stand alone novels, non-fiction, memoirs etc.  Look out for that from June 6th through to September.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1994 and for the last part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – On Friday William begins a new series about the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us to St. Thomas this week on the Travel Column… and on her own blog shares her thoughts on being back in Toronto after her Mexican winter break and adjusting to the solitude again, weather and how grief plays its role in her perspective on life and the future. How Am I Doing?  Head over to her blog to catch up on her posts including her Sunday Book Review D.G. Writes

Carol Taylor shared some amazing recipes this week to ensure we are getting sufficient Magnesium in our diet… on her own blog she reminds us about animals waking up after hibernation in our gardens and in particular what to and not to feed hedgehogs in her Monday Musings,

In her ‘My Kitchen Post, she shares some store cupboard basics, in her Food Review what constitutes ‘processed food’ and in Saturday Snippets her prompt is Glass.

Head over to catch up on Carol’s posts this week: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 8th -14th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “” and Saturday Snippets where “Glass” is my prompt.

Thanks to you for all the support, likes, comments and shares during the week and now on with the show….

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1994 Part Two – Celine Dion, Prince, Wet Wet Wet, Corona

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Five – Live Performances

The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Caribbean Welcome to St. Thomas #Virgin Islands

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Magnesium – Coleslaw, Pumpkin Seeds, Tom Yum Soup, Morning Glory

#Olive Oil…keeps your body moving by Sally Cronin

Butterfly #Cinquain – Blossom by Sally Cronin

Chapter Eight – The Steak House by Sally Cronin

Chapter Nine – Pub Landlady and Skinhead invasions

Chapter Seven – The Magic Garden comes to life by Sally Cronin

#Psychologicalthriller – Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Jan Sikes

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Harmony Kent

#Western #Paranormal Mateo’s Blood Brother by Sandra Cox

#Romance – Love, Me – A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

#Romance – Unbranded (Montana Bred Series 1) by Linda Bradley

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Burgers and more Weird Facts

– Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Cures and more Weird facts


Thanks so much for dropping in today and for your visits and support during the week.. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and stay safe.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Harmony Kent

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today Harmony Kent shares what wisdom she would impart to her younger self as she struggled to find her own way in the world.

I wish I knew then what I know now by Harmony Kent


For far too many years, I swallowed and digested every word my parents said to me. The trouble is, I didn’t know I was supposed—or even allowed—to chew those supposed nuggets of wisdom thoroughly. As a result, I gave up on all of my childhood dreams, which included acting, becoming a musician, and writing. If only I had known better …

It took me thirteen painful years of self-reflection and self-esteem-building work to get to where I am now. Life almost derailed me with a life-changing injury about six or seven years into those thirteen years, but the work I had achieved up to then brought me through it. So much so that I published my first book at age 40 despite everything.

Even now, I still find things which contradict what my folks told me during my formative years and remind me to question what I believe. Things such as, “You need a flexible voice to be able to act. Nobody would ever take you seriously.” … Hubby and I have picked out so many current big-name actors who show the lie to the rule that you must have the ability to change your accent to become a successful actor. No matter how varied the roles such actors play, they always sound like themselves. On balance, while a few actors can and do change their voices to fit their roles, many do not. What I never questioned until my later adult years was why my parents never bothered to get me the help I needed to clear chronic glue ear and/or speech therapy to address the effects of a cleft palate repair and nasal speaking. Why, instead, did they throw all their energy into ridiculing me at every turn? Yes, to succeed in the acting world, I would have needed some voice work, but it wouldn’t have been impossible or laughable.

Time and again, even into adulthood, I heard nothing but putdowns from the very people supposed to nurture me. The only time I did something I wanted to do—change from general nurse training to psychiatric nurse training—I was met with severe disapproval. My father even called me while I was on a placement on a children’s mental health unit (oh, the irony!) and gave me a loud and prolonged verbal dressing down, where he hammered into me that I would fail spectacularly. To this day, I feel so relieved I didn’t listen and went my own way. This decision gave me my first steps to true independence. The second step came after a teenage psychiatric patient assaulted me at work, resulting in an arm injury and mandatory counselling. The wonderful woman who offered that short course of therapy helped me to identify that although I had moved a good way from my parents physically, they still controlled much of my life in every other respect.

From that point onward, I finally questioned our relationships and the things I believed as set in stone. Not long after the assault, I came across a Buddhist order and joined as a lay trainee. Within a year, I set in motion the process of ordaining monastically. Had I realised how tough that life would be, would I still have done what I did? I don’t know, but I sure am glad I stuck it out. Those years of monastic training and intense meditation opened up a whole world I never knew existed. Tough? Yes. But also invaluable. They saved my life and led me to question everything. Most especially, my identity. The person I thought I was and what made me that person. I saw from the outside, looking in, how cruel and rude my family had been toward me, and revisited all the things I could remember ever having been told to me throughout my life.

Only once I regurgitated those old words and tested them out did I realise how unhelpful and untrue they were. Only then did I realise how bad a taste they left in my mouth. Only then was I able to spit them out and rinse thoroughly to get rid of the after taste. Here is an extract from a longer poem, which shows some of that transformation …

The Monk

Rise at five
every day

even while
you work

cleaning house
pulling the skeletons
out of the closet

no sweeping
the dust
under the rug

no sewing
the frayed seams
but instead

unpicking the
so I can fall apart

only then
is it safe
to put myself back together

demons slayed
balloon popped
drapes ripped open

I see you
I know you
you have no power over me

at last
at long long last
I sit

at ease in peaceful repose
and contentment

life is easy
I take it
in my stride

no more
do I feel
I have to hide

the universe is vast

so much space
and plenty
of room for me

now it’s time
to filter
the pond

stagnant all these years
too full and silted up
I have to tap the wellspring

in the cosmic washing machine

just because
it has a long history
it doesn’t have to be a life sentence

and the jewel
in all this mud?
is that I get to choose my path

the water of the spirit
first frozen
then boiled

and now
in my veins
flowing free in fluidity

If I had one thing to tell my younger self it would be: “You are braver and stronger than you think, and so worthy of love.” Okay, so maybe there would be a second thing: “Don’t believe everything you’re told, no matter who says it.”

My biggest life lesson is that only I can prevent myself from living the life I want to. Even now, with illness and disability dictating so much of my day-to-day activities, I still have the choice of how I live with that. Of how I respond to that. Of the things I tell myself about my reality. I can waste energy and time bemoaning my lot and hating it, or I can direct my energy toward finding much-needed work-arounds to keep doing what I love to do. And to keep being loving. … Both toward myself and toward everyone else. Without first loving myself, I could never have found the love of my life.

©Harmony Kent 2022

My thanks to Harmony for sharing this inspiring journey with us and I know she would love to hear from you.

About Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include:

  • The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved
  • The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015
  • Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015
  • Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)
  • Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)
  • Interludes 1 & Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)
  • Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)
  • Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)
  • Backstage (Erotic Romance)
  • FALLOUT (Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree
  • The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the publishing arena. She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes. Harmony lives in Cornwall, England.

A small selection of books by Harmony Kent

My review for The Vanished Boy June 23rd 2021

A parent’s worst nightmare. A missing teenager and a realisation that you didn’t know them as well as you thought you did.

The author has created a fast paced thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, as widow Carole searches social media for clues as to where her missing son might be. She heads down paths that lead to even more questions, as the empathetic detective in charge of the investigation does his best to keep her updated on developments.

The circle of family and friends she can turn to is small, and as she slowly uncovers key pieces of information, she begins to feel even more isolated and her sanity is threatened. The physical evidence mounts up and turns her world upside down; trust in everything and everyone in her life is challenged.

The characters are relatable, as are the extremes of emotions and pain that fuel the events leading to the unexpected climax of the story.

Can you believe all that you see and hear? Or are you being manipulated by someone with something to hide? You will have to read the book to find out.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Harmony:Goodreads – Website:Harmony KentTwitter: @Harmony_Kent


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the post… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf 2022- Share an Extract from your latest book #Romance – Love, Me – A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

In this series you are invited to share an extract of 500 words from your most recent book published within the last 12 months. Details at the end of the post.

The aim of the series

  1. To showcase your latest book and sell some more copies.
  2. Gain more reviews for the book.
  3. Promote a selection of your other books that are available.

Today an extract from the romantic Christmas story Love, Me by Jacquie Biggar a book I enjoyed very much and reviewed in January

About the book

Will a Christmas wish bring two lonely hearts together and give a little girl the family she’s always wanted?

Single parent, Grace Donovan arrives in the small town of Emerson with the hope a trial program at the local cancer clinic will be the answer to prolonging her young daughter’s life. She doesn’t expect to fall for her handsome boss.

As principal of Emerson Elementary, Kyle Roberts is aware of the students’ medical issues and his heart goes out to little Cassie Donovan and her mother. When he learns Grace needs a job, he fabricates a childcare program, and is pleasantly surprised by its success. Now, if only he could help Cassie’s recovery and get Grace to give him a chance before she learns of his duplicity.

Cassie Donovan barely remembers the father who died when she was just a toddler, but she does know her mother is sad. Even though Cassie wants a puppy more than anything, she gives up her wish to ask for a daddy from Santa Claus, that way if she gets sick again, Mommy won’t be alone.

This Christmas, two families are brought together by a Christmas wish and a child’s need for a miracle.

Love, Me
A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

Cassie Donovan leaned over the notepaper her mom had given her and concentrated on getting her Christmas wish to Santa Claus just right. Mom warned her to take her time, because once it was in the mail and on the way to the North Pole there was no changing it.

And Cassie wanted to be sure.

Trouble was there were two things she really wanted, but she could only choose one. Momma said it was selfish to ask Santa to make extra gifts for every kid, he was busy enough, so she was supposed to choose the one thing she wanted the most. More than anything, Cassie dreamed of having her very own puppy. She almost got one a couple of years ago for her birthday, but then Daddy got sick…

She glanced up at her mom, but she was busy making their dinner, so she went back to carefully printing out her letter.

Dear Santa,

Mommy wants me to choose a special present for Christmas—it was going to be a puppy—but I was wondering if I could trade it for a gift for my mom?

She’s been sad for a really long time, and I was hoping you could bring us a new Daddy so she’s not alone anymore?

I promise to be a really good girl for the whole year!

Thank you, Santa

“Just about done, honey? Dinner is nearly ready. You need to wash your hands.” Mom carried a steaming casserole dish to the table. “Can I see what you’ve got so far?”

Panicking, Cassie hurried to fold the note and stuff it into an envelope with the Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0, address on the front. “It’s bad luck if anyone but Santa sees it,” she said, knowledgeably. “Mrs. Samson told us to keep it a secret.”

Mom slapped the potholders together and smiled. “She did, did she? Well, I hope you practiced your very neatest spelling, then. Santa needs to be able to read it.”

Cassie nodded. “I did, Mommy. Are you going to write one?”

Mom tapped Cassie’s nose. “I don’t need to; I have everything I want right here. Now hurry and wash your hands, I’m starving.”

Cassie set the letter aside and hopped down from her chair to scamper into the bathroom.

Maybe next year she could wish for a puppy.

* * *

Grace waited until her daughter closed the bathroom door to reach for the envelope she’d left behind. She felt a twinge of guilt for snooping, but Cassie had been remarkably quiet about what she wanted for Christmas this year. They’d been through a tough time, the two of them, and now that they’d made the move to a new home in a new town, she wanted to bring back some joy into the holidays.

Curious whether Cassie had asked for the latest doll or maybe one of those bake sets like she’d received as a child, Grace unfolded the note and started to read. Her eyes teared up.

David would be so proud of his girl.

She lifted her head and gazed at the ceiling, as though he could see her. “She’s just like you, you know. Always thinking of others instead of herself. Her teacher tells me Cassie is shy and withdrawn, but kind and courteous. She never used to be shy. Remember when she ran up to that stranger who dropped her scarf? I had a mild heart attack, and you laughed and said, ‘That’s my girl.’”

She blinked away the tears and carefully refolded the letter before replacing it in the envelope. Maybe some people thought her crazy for still talking to her husband, but she didn’t care. So far as she and Cassie were concerned, he was still with them, even if it was only in their hearts.

The moment Cassie left the washroom, her gaze searched the table until she spotted the letter and let out a gusty sigh. “Can we post this tomorrow, Mom? I don’t want to take any chances. Santa has to see my message.”

Great. How was she to explain without giving away the fact she’d snooped, that there were some wishes Santa Claus couldn’t fulfill?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jo 5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming story Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2022

I loved this beautiful story it was so very heartwarming. “Love Me” by Jacque Biggar is a wonderful holiday read about a mother (Grace) and her daughter (Cassie) who is fighting leukemia. Grace and Cassie (who lost husband/father about years ago) move to a new town to try an experimental treatment, and luckily an anonymous donor covers the expenses.

I enjoyed reading the story as it was told from both the mother and daughter’s point of view. The little girl struggling to appear normal to her classmates, not wanting them to know about her illness. The mother so independent not wanting charity, her strength and caring shine throughout the story as a powerful symbol of love.

The author’s writing so full of emotion, I could literally feel the emotion behind Grace’s struggles, also Cassie and her fear for her mom if she was not there. Wanting Santa to find a man for her mom. The story brought tears to my eyes many times as I was reading. I could not stop reading and wish it had not ended when it did. I highly recommend the book.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USand: Amazon UK

A small selection of Jacquie’s other books

About Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!


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

What will be in the post and how to get in touch

      • I will top and tail in the usual way with your other books and links, bio, photo and social media.
      • I will also select a review from Amazon or Goodreads that I feel has the best selling pitch for the book.
      • If your book is very recent and as yet has not received a review then I will share one from a previous book.
      • This series is open to all authors both those on the Bookshelf or new to the blog
      • I suggest an extract of approximately 500 words or a poem that you feel best reflects the theme of your collection.
      • If you have an illustration or images you can attach to the email for me to include. No need to send the cover as I will have that or will access from Amazon.
      • If you have not featured on the blog before then I will need Amazon link, Goodreads, blog or website plus your social media links (main three you use)
      • Please send your extract and any accompanying images to

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Jan Sikes

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Jan Sikes shares how her experiences in life may have benefitted her as a teenager in tenth grade.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now by Jan Sikes

That is such a loaded statement, as I have learned much in my seventy years of living.
Often, I hear folks say they wish they could go back and do things over again, but only with their current knowledge. I would never want to go backward. However, if I could talk to my younger self and know she would actually listen, I’d give her some strong advice.

I recently watched “The Adam Project” on Netflix. It is a time-travel story where thirty-year-old Adam travels from 2050 to 2022 and meets his twelve-year-old self. There is a lot more to the plot, but can you imagine? The advice the grown man gives to his younger self gave me pause. What if I could go back and tell my younger self some things to help make life easier? What would I say?

First and foremost, I’d tell my younger Janice (that is my given name) to be authentic. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Just be yourself. We are each as unique as our fingerprints. Even though society tries to force us into a mold of alikeness, we are all different.

Growing up, I was an outcast in school. Because of my parents’ religion, I had to wear long dresses and wear my long hair either in a braid or bun. I wasn’t allowed to participate in any school sports or other events. At the time, all I wanted was to fit in, to be a part of the crowd. That longing ate away at me inside and influenced some major choices I made. The first time I felt that longing fulfilled was traveling with Rick and his band when I was nineteen. I finally belonged.

But back to my advice. I’d tell her not to take things too seriously. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course, that is all based on perspective. What an adult would consider inconsequential, a young child might find to be of the utmost importance. That’s where it gets tricky.

The way I now view what I thought were catastrophic events in my growing-up years carries no significance in my life today. It doesn’t matter that I thought John Paolino was cute in fourth grade or how humiliated I was when his best friend, Joe Webb, pulled my braid and made me fall on the playground. But that day, it devastated me.

I would tell young Janice always to speak her truth, no matter what. It is impossible to please everyone. That’s a huge life lesson for many of us, particularly women. I’ve often found myself saying what I thought another person wanted to hear to avoid making waves or, worse yet, starting an argument. I am the kind of person who will walk a mile around a disagreement rather than face it head-on and confront it. Anytime we deny ourselves our truth, we give away our power.

I would advise her to stop and think before acting. I’ve often plunged off the edge of a cliff because I only acted or reacted without thinking. If I’d only known then what I know now.
I would remind her that life is short and focus on the things that make her happy and fulfilled. Creating stories for others to enjoy is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in life so far. I’ve worn many different hats, and it seems each time I switch one for another, it’s been an upgrade.

I would encourage Janice always to nurture her kind heart and have compassion for others. A helping hand or even a simple smile can often go a long way to making someone’s day better.

I would want her to know about Karma. You reap what you sow. We’ve all heard those words, but when its impact hits, we realize the true implications. The thoughts and actions we put out to the Universe come back to us ten-fold. So, if we put out negative, we will get back ten times more than we put out. Staying positive is vital to a peaceful life.

Lastly, I’d tell my younger self to always remain unafraid to open her heart to love. Love is pure, and it’s selfless. It’s a joy.

We often hear that life is a journey, not a destination. And while those are only words, they carry an undeniable truth.

Here’s to the journey! It’s been quite a ride so far.

Thank you, Sally, for inviting me to participate in this fun prompt!

©Jan Sikes 2022

My thanks to Jan for sharing her thoughts on the prompt and her excellent advice that we can apply whatever age we might be at this moment. I know she would love to hear from you.

About Jan Sikes

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. I can still remember the excitement that surged through me the first time I realized I could decipher words. Many summers, I won the highest award possible from the Hobbs, NM Public Library for reading the most books.

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in a story.

Oddly enough, I never had any ambition to be a writer. But I wound up in mid-life with a story that begged to be told. Not just any story, but a true story that rivaled any fiction creation. Through fictitious characters, the tale came to life in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books. Not satisfied to stop with the books, I released music CDs of original music to match the time period of each story segment.

In conclusion, to bring the story full circle, I published a book of poetry and art. I was done.


The story ideas keep coming, and I don’t intend to turn off the creative fountain.

I am a member of the Author’s Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. I am an avid fan of Texas music and grandmother of five beautiful souls. I reside in North Texas.

A small selection of other books by Jan Sikes

My review for Jagged Feathers March 3rd 2022

Having read book one of this series I was looking forward to this next story with much anticipation. I was delighted to catch up with some of the characters from Ghostly Interference and the author made the transition seamless.

Both Vann and Nankina who head the cast in this second book, carry the burden of past events in their lives and the story highlights the many challenges facing those who have served and also civilians who have been touched by tragedy.

The setting is tanquil, but danger and violence intrude into this peaceful backwater. The last thing a recovering soldier with PTSD needs is to be back in a war zone, but his need to protect a defenceless woman becomes a mission he cannot back down from.

This is a high octane thriller and romance, with some intriguing paranormal elements which draws the reader in, and sweeps them along with the action and developing love affair. And then there is also an adorable dog who despite his own past mistreatment gives love in abundance.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and recommend to those who enjoy action packed romances.

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


Thank you for joining us today and I hope you will share your thoughts on the prompt in the comments.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf – New Book on the Shelves – #Romance – Unbranded (Montana Bred Series 1) by Linda Bradley

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Linda Bradley Unbranded (Montana Bred Series 1)

About the book

Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.

CHLOE MCINTYRE is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet.

Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands.

After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love?

One of the early reviews for the book

Joanne Guidoccio 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written!  Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2022

Ms. Bradley skillfully drew me into the lives of the characters that populate this beautifully written novel. I quickly connected with Chloe and couldn’t read fast enough to discover how she would handle the challenges of an unexpected pregnancy. I also enjoyed reconnecting with Maggie Abernathy and other characters from the Montana Bound series. I strongly recommend setting aside large blocks of reading time. You won’t be able to put this book down.  

Head over to buy the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

Also by Linda Bradley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Follow Linda :Goodreads website: Linda Bradley Author – Twitter: @LBradleyAuthor

About Linda Bradley

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments, thus creating avenues for readers to connect with her characters.


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


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – May 2nd – 8th 2022 – Voice of Indie, Hits 1994, Ella Fitzgerald, Guest Posts, Short Stories, Poetry, Health and Humour

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

A slightly different location for this week’s round up as I am set up in the kitchen whilst our office (that is the official dining room) is given a full makeover. Because we set up our computers in there six years ago it has not been decorated as part of the renovation so a big job ahead for David. We plan to move all our dining room furniture in there and make the kitchen diner our office going forward, as we think it is important when the house goes on the market there is another fully functional reception room. So we are making progress and another job ticked off the list…

There are boxes everywhere, some already packed up to be taken away as we declutter and the next few weeks will be a bit chaotic, but it is exciting to be getting on with something we planned to do before Covid.

Apart from that, we now have a few sunny days and I am taking full advantage of the garden. Sitting in the back of the house I am treated to a revue show put on by the crows, starlings, blue tits, sparrows and the resident robin as they enjoy breakfast, lunch and high tea before they go to bed. There is a large swimming pool that is well utilised, and whilst the starlings love to get in there and splash around, the other birds often join in and it is as wild as any pool party I have ever gone to. Very entertaining and distracting, and if I sit quite still, they forget I’m there and get up close and personal.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on Monday to share his thoughts on I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now about his love of Tap Dancing. The Breakfast show this week for the first part of the hits from 1994 and for the next part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies has had another busy week on her blog D.G. Writes with a book review for the latest collection of poetry by Frank Prem – The Garden BlackA post on the ending of the positive blog series Goodbye We Are The World Blogfest And a powerful poem as part of Colleen Chesebro’s weekly challenge on Women’s Rights Taste the Rainbow Senyru

Debby will be taking us to St. Thomas this week in the Travel Column...and I hope you will join us for some sunshine and sparkling blue waters.

Carol Taylor has been to Cyprus this week to explore the wonderful fusion cuisine, shares a wonderful Chicken Pasanda recipe and one for pull apart garlic bread – do not eat all on your own…a food review on Ramen Noodles and should you be eating them…Monday Musings and Saturday Snippets featuring the word ‘candle’. You can catch up with all her posts by following the link to her Weekly Round Up. Carol will be with us on Wednesday with recipes to ensure you are getting sufficient magnesium

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 1st -7th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “” and Saturday Snippets where “Candle” is my prompt.

On Wednesday I was the guest on the Voice of Indie podcast with presenters Beem Weeks and Gary “Stephen Geez” great to talk about life, books and publishing. You can listen on Blog Talk Radio Voice of Indie Episode 92 – Sally Cronin and you can comment on Twitter @VoiceOfIndie – You can also listen to the podcast and the other editions and comment on Voice of Indie Youtube episode 92 – And Spotify

If you would like to get in touch with the team Website/Blog: Beem Weeks – And: Stephen Geez

On with the show…..

Chart Hits 1994 Part One – Collective Soul, The Cranberries, Bruce Springsteen, MC Sar & The Real McCoy

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Four – The Collaborations

Chapter Six – Ladies Fashions and shop lifters

Chapter Seven – The Cosmetic Department

#MirrorCinguain -Storm Front by Sally Cronin Posted on May 7, 2022

Tales from the Irish Garden.. The Dapperman

#Action #Supernatural #AncientEgypt She who comes forth by Audrey Driscoll

Food Therapy – #Mushrooms – The Egyptians believed they granted immortality

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Darlene Foster

#Tapdancing by Jazz singer and composer William Price King

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Gwen M. Plano

#Life #Change – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike

#Poetry #Memoir – More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose by Lauren Scott

#Fantasy The Prince’s Heir (The Five Kingdoms Book 4) by Deborah Jay

May 4th 2022 – #Spotlights Winona Kent with The Story Reading Ape, Marcia Meara with John W. Howell, Robbie Cheadle with Colleen Chesebro, #Poetry Elizabeth Gauffreau

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin -Bathtub test and more Weird Facts

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Age and more Weird Facts


Thanks very much for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week.. Stay safe.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews -#Action #Supernatural #AncientEgypt She who comes forth by Audrey Driscoll

Today I am reviewing She who comes forth by Audrey Driscoll…an intriguing action adventure set in the land of the Pharoahs.

About the book

Recently turned 21, France Leighton travels to Luxor, Egypt, taking with her two legacies—an antique cello and an emerald ring. Instead of the archaeological adventure she expects, she gets a lecherous dig director, hidden agendas, a risky balloon ride, and an enigmatic nuclear physicist. In the mysteries of the ancient tombs, France realizes she and her gifts may imperil the world—or save it.

More Details:
October 1962. The developing nuclear missile crisis in Cuba is of no concern to Francesca “France” Leighton. Recently turned 21, France travels from her home in Providence to a job at an archaeological dig in Luxor, Egypt. She takes with her two legacies—an emerald ring from the grandfather she never knew, and an antique cello from his friend, a man she loved like a grandfather.

The dig disappoints. France is relegated to sorting chunks of stone, the dig’s director makes unwanted advances; rivalries and mistrust are everywhere. And it’s too darn hot. Tasked with playing her cello at a gathering of archaeologists, France meets the enigmatic and fascinating nuclear physicist Adam Dexter. She’s smitten, especially when he promises to show her the secrets of Egypt, including a hitherto undiscovered tomb.

After a risky balloon cruise ends in a crash landing, France is forced to leave the dig. Despite warnings against solo explorations on the west bank, she finds herself with Adam Dexter in an eerie house near the Theban Necropolis. Adam’s promises are alluring, but he is both more and less than he seems and his motivations are disturbing. Fleeing his house, France makes a horrifying discovery.

Through an image of Osiris, France discovers the true reason for her presence in the Theban Necropolis. As the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war, she must call upon resources both within and beyond herself to meet the perils that await her in the world of the dead beneath the Western Peak.

My review for the book May 7th 2022

I have found the stories of ancient Egypt and the discoveries made over the last two centuries fascinating and I was looking forward to this action adventure set in the land of the Pharoahs in the 1960s.

France Leighton is an innocent abroad. Her upbringing has been unconventional, with an ancestral link to the excavation of the tombs and undecided about her future, she applies to and is accepted to a dig in progress in Luxor. With mundane tasks and friction amongst the members of the dig team, France retreats into her comfort zone which is playing her much loved cello.

The cello and an exquiste emerald ring are links to the past, and as she shares her experiences and thoughts about the present with us, strange and disturbing elements begin to filter in, making her question who and what is attempting to manipulate the future. France is the narrator of her story, but not in control of her own destiny, as others have their own agendas, pulling her into their distorted plans for the future.

The author has done an amazing job in recreating both the 1960s setting for the plot and the world of the ancient Egyptian pharoahs and deities. The characters are distinctive and easy to like or dislike with some multi-faceted, only revealing their true selves as the story reaches its climax.

We are treated to a wondrous tour of the inside of tombs both excavated and open to the public and as the mystery deepens to hidden and sacred sites deep within the earth.  Clearly the author conducted a great deal of research to create such an authentic and detailed journey into the past.

You will find the book difficult to put down, and there is plenty of action to maintain the pace of the plot, and intriguing supernatural elements that become more dynamic as the story unfolds. The book definitely has a style of writing that both Agatha Christie and H. Rider Haggard fans will appreciate and I can highly recommend this first in the series and look forward to the next.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books :Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – follow Audrey: Goodreads – Website:Audrey Driscoll – LinkedIn: Audrey Driscoll

About Audrey Driscoll

Three quarters of the way through a career as a cataloguing librarian, Audrey Driscoll discovered she is actually a writer. Since the turn of the millennium, she has written and published several novels and a short story collection. She gardens, juggles words, and communes with fictitious characters in Victoria, British Columbia. Her opinions on gardening, writing, and things that bug or delight her, along with information about her books, may be found on her blog at


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