Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Memoir- Into Africa: With 3 Kids, 13 Crates and a Husband (Book 1) by Ann Patras


Delighted to welcome a new author to the Cafe and Bookstore, Ann Patras with her memoirs of life in Africa. I am going to feature the first book in the series, Into Africa: With 3 Kids, 13 Crates and a Husband,  to introduce Ann and her story, and there are two follow up books, with the most recent published on January 11th 2020.

About the book

When Ann and Ziggy Patras uproot from England in 1980 and head off with their three young children to live and work in deepest Africa, they have no idea what they are letting themselves in for.

While prepared for sunshine and storms 13º south of the equator, the Patras family are ill-equipped for much else.

Interspersed with snippets from Ann’s letters home, this crazy story describes encounters ranging from lizards to lions, servants to shopping shortages, and cockroaches to curfews.

One of the many reviews for the book on Goodreads

Claire Bates rated it Five Stars.

I really enjoyed this memoir. I’ve never read any by Ann Patras before,also I usually steer clear of books on Africa. Not my continent of desire.

I was so surprised at just how much I enjoyed Anns move from Burton on Trent in England to Kitwe in Zambia. With her husband,3 children and 13 shipping boxes of house hold stuff. The contents of which,after their long awaited for arrival,made me laugh so much,sorry,but I just would never have thought of transporting 90% of it for a 2 year work placement.

The system the Company her husband worked for implemented for their initial stay,then the big house,servants, security even. They thought of everything.

The holiday to the big game viewing was very descriptive. I found it very interesting,even though it wouldn’t be for me. So I was pleased to share that.

The day to day life seems hard for an expat,not at all what we are used to in the western world. Queues resulting in comparatively useless items only in the shelves. No washing machine. Flies laying eggs in your washing whilst it dries in the African hot air. The many challenges I’ve not read of before in Sunny Spain and France memoirs.

I shall be reading more of Ann Patras books. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and their determination to make things work in a diverse environment.

Read the recent reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

The other books in the series

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Ann on: Goodreads

About Ann Patras

A long time ago Ann Patras was born in Burton Upon Trent, England. Actually that’s a lie. Ann Johnson was born, but she married a weirdo named Ziggy and became Ann Patras in the mid 1970’s. She was quite normal until she married him, or that’s what she’d have you believe. At one point she actually went to live in Canada to get away from him but he dragged her back by the hair (well, maybe a slight exaggeration) to England to marry her. Then, after the rather rapid arrival of three kids he hauled her off, kicking and screaming, to Africa! Well that’s a lie too really, as she was quite keen to take on that adventure.

Apart from strange sounding men and three wild children she also loves dogs and horses. (Absolutely nothing should be read into the fact that all of the dogs have been named with an alcoholic theme). She wears garish-coloured nail polish, sings along to loud music when she’s driving and likes to live in sunny places which might account for why, what started out as a two-year contract in Zambia, resulted in her living in Africa for 31 years.

The onset of those 31 years came with some surprises. She didn’t know anything about the place they were moving to (1980 was light years before the internet), if she had known she might not have agreed to go. Within days of arrival in Zambia she was horrified to find they didn’t have English-type pubs, toilet rolls were an endangered species, ants were the size of small cats and there was a fly whose larvae ate you from the inside out if you didn’t iron all your laundry. Yes, even socks!

Because of all these oddities, as well as various strange, scary and hilarious things which happened to the family, she wrote scores of letters home to relatives and friends who all thought it was so crazy she must be making it up.

Maintaining the sunshine theme she now lives in Spain, with the same weird-sounding husband and writes books about all their crazy experiences.

Connect to Ann

Website: Ann Patras Author
Facebook: Ann Patras Author

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Ann’s books. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – #Flash Sarah Brentyn, #Family Claire Fullerton, #1920s Elizabeth Gauffreau


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

The first author Sarah Brentyn with a recent review for her collection of short fiction Hinting at Shadows

About Hinting at Shadows

No One Escapes Life Unscathed

Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning. A boy desperate for his father’s affection. A woman forced to make a devastating decision. A man trapped by his obsessions.

Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction.Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath.

These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Brilliant   on November 13, 2019

This is a collection of flash fiction broken up into four sections, and it is an easy and quick read.

Having said that, brief as these snippets are, they go deep. I reckon I shall be re-reading this one over and over again. Here are a couple of lines that stood out for me:

‘Till the earth of who I was. From this mangled mass of roots, let something whole and healthy break through. Let something beautiful grow.’ and …

‘My life ebbs away, sailing from the shifting shore of my body like a piece of driftwood floating out to sea.’

And another one, which made me chuckle–I could relate to this one! … ‘The doctors say “insomnia” and prescribe pills. I say “writer” and pick up a pen.’

The writing was that good that I wanted each story to continue, but this is flash and micro fiction, so they don’t. Some of the stories are more like teasers and slice-of-life but brilliant nonetheless.

I read this in one go and couldn’t put it down. It gets a solid five stars from me.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Sarah Brentyn

Read the reviews and buy the Collections: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Sarah: Goodreads

Connect to Sarah via her: Blog

The next author with a recent review for her family saga is Claire Fullerton with Mourning Dove.

About Mourning Dove

The heart has a home when it has an ally.

If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.

But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

One of the recent reviews for the book

As a Christian, and as a southern woman, I found this book compelling, engrosing and poignant. Her dialogue is as smooth as silk and reminds me of Pat Conroy in Prince of Tides. . I was simply carried away in her story about a family in peril.

Her characters are believable her dialogue sharp as a tack and her humor reminds me a lot of Barbara Kingsolver in the Poisionwood Bible. This is the first book of Claire Fullerton’s I have read and believe me it will not be the last! Thank you for a lovely read and by reading this book I was momentarily able to relax and get away from today’s world where we are so rushed and harried and so caught up In the News of the day, we fail to notice the subtle beauty all around us and she pointed that out.

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

Connect to Claire via her website: Claire Fullerton

And for the final review today as we step back in time to the 1920’s and American Vaudeville courtesy of Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau.

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train.

Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written  December 10, 2019

This is a beautifully told story. Until the last few chapters of the book, the story belongs to the teenage Faby Gauthier who becomes pregnant in the 1920s and hastily marries the future baby’s father, a hoofer on the vaudeville circuit. For four months, she goes on the road with Louis Kittel aka Slim White. There are moments of kindness, but she is often left alone to rue her choices, and eventually returns home to Vermont to have her baby, Sonny.

Telling Sonny is a biography that reads like fiction with the perfect details to bring Faby’s world – settings, experiences, and emotions – to life. She’s a well-rounded and sympathetic character, and I found her narration engrossing. Secondary characters are equally strong, and though in many ways a sad tale, this is also a story about the strength of family. The book moves along at a moderate pace, and yet I was unable to put it down.

The title and blurb are a little misleading as they refer to the bookends of the story, not the longer tale between. The story begins and ends with Faby as a middle-aged woman fretting over telling Sonny about his father’s death. The meat of the story covers Faby’s short relationship with Louis. The structure makes sense in the end, giving a sense of closure to Faby (and the reader). A highly recommended book for anyone who enjoys biographies, literary fiction, women’s fiction, and well-told tales in general.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth: Goodreads

Connect to Elizabeth via her blog: Liz Gauffreau

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – January 12th- 18th 2020


Welcome to this week’s posts on Smorgasbord that you might have missed.

I hope you have had a good week… I am in housekeeping mode both on and offline. At the moment the Cafe and Bookstore is in the middle of a facelift with the addition of both UK and US Amazon selling pages, Goodreads where the author has a page, and their website or blog. It is a work in progress so don’t worry if your entry does not reflect this change yet, it will soon.

You can help me out if you are an author on the shelves by letting me know in advance that you have a new book being released. That helps me keep your entry up to date but also ensures that you receive a new book promotion when your book is available or is on pre-order offer.

I do go through every week to check for recent reviews but with 150 authors it is easy to miss one. To keep the cafe at a manageable size, authors listed have reviews within the last six months.

A few statistics about the Cafe and Bookstore.

  • In 2019 there were 130 Cafe Updates including the summer features and Christmas book fair and 125 New book Promotions
  • The top viewed (220) New Book on the Shelves was A Bit About Britain’s History by Mike Biles
  • The average new book on the shelves promotion has over 100 views on the blog, multi-retweets on Twitter and shares on Facebook.
  • It is a free book promotion and all it costs is a little bit of your time, letting me know and responding to comments. Judging from comments, I am confident that the posts do result, in not only effective exposure for your books but also sales and more reviews.

If you are not already an author in the Cafe and Bookstore you can find all the details at this link: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore FREE Author promotion

As to my offline decluttering… with the likelihood of a move and alleged downsizing this year, I am working through my depleted but still over subscribed clothes stash. Despite my continued weight loss, I doubt that the silver lame 1970s disco trousers that I have clung on to will see the light of day (or glitter ball) again… despite the pain it will cost me it is time to send to the charity shop and hope that some other young person might enjoy taking them for a twirl… along with the last of my stilettos….(I need a hoist to keep me upright).  Still I have my glory days to remember… and I still take to the kitchen floor when the mood takes me….

Anyway.. keep dancing

And as always my thanks to the wonderful team who keep coming up with amazing posts and to you for dropping in to read them.

A wonderful introduction to the new column from D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies who explores the Realms of Relationships. She will be on her winter retreat for February but will be back in March. In this column Debby explores our communication skills both verbal and behavioural and strategies for resolving conflict.

D. G. Kaye – Exploring the Realms of Relationships

Welcome to a new series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful A – Z of Food and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of wonderful ingredients across the food groups, spices and herbs.

Caroly Taylor’s A – Z of Food – Almonds, Arrowroot, Aubergines and Avocado

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills   the prompt was a husband carrying his wife…

Carrot Ranch – A Dream Home by Sally Cronin

Two more stories from this collection…

Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin

George – Playing Away from Home

This week the prompt for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 160 the prompt is ‘Calm and Present’… I have chosen the synonyms ‘Serene and Deliver’ for my Etheree.

Etheree – On the Wind by Sally Cronin

Movie Hits – Mrs Robinson – The Graduate by Simon & Garfunkel

My review for The Hat by C.S. Boyack

My thanks to Mark Bierman for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award

To start the new series, author Jacqui Murray who shares the wonderfully descriptive simile…very useful for all writers.

51 Great Similes to Spark Imagination from Jacqui Murray

#Canada, #Pottery and #Eagles by Darlene Foster

#Memoir Byte – Reminiscences of the 70s and 80s Fun and Fearless by D.G. Kaye

Scifi – The Magisters Book One by Jack Eason

Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

Vandana Bhasin, Smitha Vishwanath, Mae Clair, Miriam Hurdle

#Poetry Bette A. Stevens, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach

#SunshineBlogger Mark Bierman, #ReadingAloud Jennie Fitzkee, #IndieShowcase Richard Dee

#Karma D.G. Kaye, #Interview Patricia Furstenberg, #Afghanistan Mary Smith

#Guest Marcia Meara with Joan Hall, #Bookclub Amy Reade, #Q&A D.G. Kaye, #Review by Michelle Clements James

#Children’sfears Becky Ross Michael, #Nonverbal Communication Jim Borden, #Familyhistory Liz Gauffreau

#Publishing 2020 Nicholas Rossis, #Freebook Olga Nunez Miret, #Flash Charli Mills Carrot Ranch

In part two I share the best sources for vitamins C to K2 to ensure your shopping list reflects what your body needs to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient part two Vitamin C to K2

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and during the week. Your support is very much appreciated. I hope you have enjoyed the posts you might have missed and look forward to your feedback. See you next week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Dystopian – Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie


Delighted to welcome a new author to the Cafe and Bookstore, Alex Craigie and her featured book today is Acts of Convenience published at the end of November 2019.

About the book

Imagine, if you will, a near future where governments adopt policies that suit them rather than the people they were elected to represent.

Imagine a near future where old age and chronic problems are swept away with expedient legislation.

I know; it’s an unlikely scenario.

However, it’s a scenario in which Cassie Lincoln finds herself.

It’s a scenario that compels her to take action.

It’s a scenario that leads to despair and danger.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

This is a slow burner; the first third of the story sets the scene, the world that Cassie Lincoln and her family live and work in. This is a Britain that is inexorably controlled by a corrupt Government through its machinations within the National Health Service. There is an almost dystopian sense to the plot, without there having been an initial catastrophe, where the self-serving wealthy and influential people thrive and the populace suffer year by year.

I always say that I do not give spoilers in my reviews; I point out the strengths of a novel as I see them and explain why I like them. But I will also explain what doesn’t work for me. So, for the latter, I’ll say it took a second read to fully appreciate why there is a long lead -up to the action… and then there is that ‘light bulb moment’, when all the groundwork makes sense and ties in as the story progresses. And, once the action starts (at around a third into the book) there are many twists and turns to the plot.

The opening chapter is heartbreaking ( I’ll say no more but it’s our introduction to Cassie and her husband Adam in 2017). In the following chapters we follow her and her family, quite rapidly, through to 2055. And, at the same time we are privy to the conspiracies and manoeuvrings of subsequent Prime Ministers and their Governments, desperate to hold on to their power and wealth through corrupt Acts of Parliament. These are presented to the nation as strategies for the ‘greater good ‘. And any dissent is portrayed as anarchy and violent crime – and dealt with viciously.

It is to the author’s credit that, even though this is a plot- driven novel, there has been no neglect of the characters; all are well-rounded, multi-layered and grow as the story continues: some I thoroughly liked, others I disliked, some even irritated me – yet all leapt from the page as true personalities. The dialogue , both spoken and internal, excellently convey the emotions of the characters and it is obvious at all times who is speaking, even without dialogue tags.

The descriptions of the settings are well written and give a strong sense of place, a must for me as a reader; I need to see the world the characters inhabit.
Interestingly the story is written throughout in the present tense, with the third person narrator revealing the viewpoint of each of the main characters. This adds to the tension for the reader, I think.

As I said above, this is a slow-burner. But the detailed lead-up is necessary and interesting and ultimately it is well worth the wait. I have no hesitation in recommending Acts of Convenience.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Alex Craigie

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Alex: Goodreads

About Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Alex lives in a small village in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and knows that she and her husband are lucky to have their children and grandchildren living nearby. It’s often chaotic and noisy but these are her most treasured moments and she savours them – even if she’s reduced to an immovable heap after they’ve gone.

As an independent author, without a big publishing machine behind her, she is very grateful to all the people who have found and bought her books – and a huge thank you to those who’ve gone out of their way to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. These reviews make a massive difference to ‘Indies’ and the positive ones encourage other readers to risk buying a copy.

She looks forward to any contact from fellow lovers of books and any honest feedback is very welcome.

Connect to Alex Craigie via: Facebook

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be wonderful if you could spread the news about Alex and her books.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews #Poetry Bette A. Stevens, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach


Welcome to the Friday edition of the Author Update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves of the bookstore.

The first author and poet today is Bette A. Stevens and a recent review for her poetry collection My Maine.

About My Maine

Inspired by The Pine Tree State—Maine’s diverse landscape, natural beauty, rural communities, and independent people—the author’s 150 haiku poems, along with her photographs, reflect the Maine she knows and loves. Bette A. Stevens’s imagery draws the reader into her world of wonder and delight. My Maine takes readers on a poetic journey through Maine’s four seasons. Whether you’re a native Mainer or from away, Stevens’s short story poems and photographs will resonate.

The collection opens with a haiku tribute, “Maine Pines and People.” The journey continues with the rejuvenating spirit of “Spring Awakenings” and “Summer Songs”; then on to more of the magic and majesty of the places and people of Maine in “Autumn Leaves” and “Winter Tales.” This is a poetry collection to be slowly savored, made even more delectable with the author’s original drawings and photographs. In addition to its poems and photographs, My Maine includes state symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

 JanS 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Descriptive  Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2019

This book of Haiku puts the State of Maine in a whole new perspective. The author takes the reader through each of the four seasons and through well-written Haiku, shows the unique aspects of the Pine State. I also loved the fun facts about Maine at the end of the book. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Haiku, amazing photographs and has a fascination with Maine!

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Bette: Goodreads

Connect to Bette A. Stevens via her blog:  4 Writers and Readers

Time to catch up with Fiona Tarr and her latest book released in October 2019 Relic Seeker (The Priestess Chronicles Book 2)

About the Book

A young time-travelling, magic wielding Priestess and her gifted friends must retrieve an ancient Goth relic before it is used to change history.

This isn’t the Priestess Ariela’s first trip through time, but now she has friends along for the journey. When she arrives, she is alone, dressed as a servant, yet surrounded by opulence. Her guide and mentor, the Angel Raziel hasn’t given her a clue about her quest and she quickly finds herself serving a deadly enemy from her past.

Ariela realises that keeping her magical powers secret isn’t going to be easy. She is being hunted by a powerful magic wielder who is determined to destroy her and change history forever. In the midst of a violent and intense battle to protect the ancient relic Brísingamen, once worn by the goddess Freya, Ariela calls upon the strengths and powers of her friends and a group of strangers.

As Ariela gathers her allies, she realises her powerful adversary isn’t the only threat. She has been betrayed by someone she thought she could trust.

Relic Seeker is book 2 in a new series by Fiona Tarr. It is fast paced and offers a great read for young adults or adults looking for a fun, quick, weekend read. If magic and time travel spark your interest, then you’ll enjoy this fun, fantasy adventure.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Reviewed in the United States on January 6, 2020

I really enjoyed reading another of Fiona Tarr’s novels. Relic Seeker is well paced, with wonderful characters and a good balance of adventure, mystery, tender moments, and surprises. Trust is a central issue, with costly betrayals littering the battleground when the characters find out who they can trust, and who they cannot. The stage is so well set and the action so well drawn that I felt like I was right there beside Ariela and Culaan, experiencing their heartaches and adventures. Although it’s not my usual thing, I loved the elements of time travel, magic and history. Highly recommended.

Also by Fiona Tarr

Read all the reviews and buy the books including a box set: Amazon US

and : Amazon UK

Kobo, B&N, Apple : https://books2read.com/u/bM92aB

Read more reviews and follow Fiona: Goodreads

Connect to Fiona via her website : A Time 2 Write

The final author today is D.Wallace Peach for Sunwielder which is also now in audio version.

About Sunwielder

In a land on the brink of war, Gryff Worden discovers his family slaughtered, his farm in ruin.Mortally wounded, he stumbles upon a timekeeper, an old woman of the northern forests, one who tracks the infinite paths of each life. She offers him a sunwield, a medallion promising to return him to the pivotal choices that swayed his life’s journey. Her only condition—he must wear the bronze charm until the end.Now his story remakes itself, casting him backward in time to moments of decision and death. His old life gone, he no longer remembers the purpose of the medallion burning his chest. As he uncovers the sunwield’s power, new choices lead him on an epic adventure through war, death, friendship, life, and love.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars  Highly recommended to lovers of time-travel  Reviewed in the United States on December 20, 2019

If you would be granted the ability to travel back in time and redo some of your life choices, would you take it?

What if strings were attached?

Without giving any spoilers away, I loved the way D. Wallace Peach handled the plot and the magic she instilled in the time-travel charm as well as the twists she put in the past being relieved. The worlds she created were fascinating and very well developed as well as full of political intrigue. It was amazing to discover how Gryff’s new life options affected those involved and the heartache he went through was gripping, well balanced by lyrical descriptions.

I found it hard to put it down, so many chores were put on hold until I finished the book…

Sunwielder is a page turner with a super clever plot, highly recommended.

A small selection of of other books by D.Wallace Peach

Read the reviews for buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Diana: Goodreads

Connect to Diana via her blog: Myths of the Mirror

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

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Scifi – The Magisters – Book One by Jack Eason


Delighted to share the news of Jack Eason’s latest release – The Magisters: Book One.

About the book

The Magisters is a science fiction story with a difference. Apart from chronicling the ultimate change of life for a select few individuals, it questions all accepted ideas by closeminded academics that leave no room for alternative thinking by some among their number. It is also about a woman born ten years after the Romans left Britannia forever and a man born in the twentieth century. Add to that everything that is currently environmentally wrong with our planet today, and you have all the necessary ingredients for an enthralling tale. Now read on…

One of the early reviews for the book

Jan 06, 2020 M.J. Mallon rated it Five Stars –  it was amazing

This engaging story makes the reader wonder. What if our ancient monuments were resurrected, what would the outcome be? And what would happen if a modern day man could meet a beautiful woman from a previous time period? This, and many other questions are answered, some with a political/environmental slant.

Certain lines in the novella made me wish we could be the ones wielding an other- worldly Science Fiction power over our Politicians! Now, wouldn’t that be great?!

I believe this is book one and there is more to come. #highlyrecommended #reading.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

A small selection of other books by Jack Eason

Discover all of Jack Eason’s books and read the reviews: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Follow Jack and read other reviews: Goodreads

About Jack Eason

Jack Eason lived in New Zealand for forty-two years until 2000 when he returned to his birthplace in England. As far as he is concerned he will always consider himself to be a Kiwi. After military service in the 1960’s, he travelled the world, visiting exotic lands and making many friends. Now in his mid-sixties he is content to write and travel via the Internet. Besides writing novels and short stories, he contributes to his own blog “Have We Had Help?” Some of his short stories and numerous articles appear in the No: 1 online E-zine “Angie’s DIARY”. His literary interests include science fiction, history, both ancient and modern, and humorous tales like those written by his fellow writer Derek Haines, such as “HAL”. He lives in semi-retirement in his home town surrounded by his favourite books, ranging from historical fact to science fiction. His literary icons are J.R.R Tolkien, George Orwell, Arthur C Clarke and John Wyndham.

Connect to Jack

Blog: Have We Had Help
Twitter: @Akhen1Khan2
Facebook: Jack Eason

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the news of Jack’s new book… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #Poetry Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath, #Supernaturalthriller Mae Clair, #Poetry Miriam Hurdle


The first book with a recent review is for poetry lovers  Roads: A Journey With Verses – Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath

About Roads

“Roads” is a poetic rendezvous that takes the reader on a panoramic journey, making one pause, ponder and celebrate life.

The book is a light, alluring read that instantly strikes a chord and elevates one’s spirits. A trove of 60 poems, it is quilled with beads of nine virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Love, Hope, Strength, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude. The verses encapsulate life’s ebbs and flows while prompting the reader to enjoy its simple pleasures.

“Roads” is a book that you would want to keep on your bedside, for a quiet read before retiring for the night or for the morning wisdom to seize the day. With poems revolving around emotions that each of us experiences, “Roads” very easily develops a personal connect with the reader that is defiantly refreshing.

“Roads” is a journey with verses. Take it on yours.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Roads: A Journey With Verses’ by Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath is a brilliant collection of poems that talk about life, love and the paths that mold us, values that mentor us, and pay a tribute to the persons who hold our hand through turbulent times to make our journey smoother.

In perfect sync with each other, Smitha’s tenderness is complemented by the exquisite style of Vandana who lashes out at societal norms that fetter us to the threshold, trying to slash our wings to compress us into compartments. Bold and chilling, her poems question the dogma, the exploitation and injustice that have been meekly accepted in the name of parochial diktats. Raising voice against subjugation, she calls upon shedding “the mask” and “darn the rules.”

One of my favorites, ‘Writer vs. Woman’ validates the power that lies dormant within the so-called fragile woman who proudly declares: “Do I need a better armor when words are my defense?” Realism percolates through their words as they capture a thousand emotions with élan. ‘Miss You When You’re Gone’ touches the most precious memories of letting go and break free from the stifling love that lingers despite the pride of watching our children soar toward the horizon of their choice. All mothers could relate to the pangs embedded within the words of Smitha.

For a person like me who values emotions and relationships, these poems are heart-warming. Along with tender moments of nurturing love and trust, self-belief, determination and courage stand out to reassure that there is no need to be swayed by the age-old traditions of embracing the defined roles. These poems would tug at your heart; stirring a thousand moments that stand and smile at you, reassuring that roads of life may be arduous yet shimmer with hope and happiness.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Connect to Vandana via her blog: My Feelings My Freedom

Smitha V

Connect to Smitha via her Blog: Life a Teacher

The next author with recent reviews for her latest release is Mae Clair for Eventide (A Hode’s Hill Novel Book 3)

About Eventide

The darkness is coming . . .

The old house near Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her still troubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening?

Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Tripower53 VINE VOICE – 4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice addition to the series January 4, 2020

This book is an excellent addition to the series.

Madison Hewitt witnessed the stabbing death of her husband some time ago. She has now declared herself recovered and a bought an old house in an isolated spot in Pennsylvania.

But all is not well in her new house. There are noises – and that cistern in the basement!!

This story move back and forth between the present and the 1890’s. Something very bad happened back then and the old house has held on to it.

Tension ratchets up as the story goes along. Ms. Clair is a fantastic writer. Her stories are filled with reality. That is to say, the reader could almost believe that the events are really happening. The book is remarkably well written and plotted. One event follows another in a logical progression. The characters are colorful and likable – for the most part. I liked Madison, her slightly psychic sister and her new beau. Well done, Ms. Clair! More please.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and on: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Mae Clair

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Mae on: Goodreads

Connect to Mae via her website: Mae Clair

The next book is an award winning poetry collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude written by Miriam Hurdle.

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

A recent review for the collection

Jan 02, 2020 H.R.R. Gorman rated it Five Stars


As I read through many of these poems, I had a feeling like I was reading the book of Psalms. Miriam is a fitting Psalmist, I’d say – her zest for life and ability to see the Creator in all things is admirable and amazing. Reading this book made me feel like I was intimately connected with he author.

And Miriam Hurdle, I dare say, is someone everyone should know.

If you enjoy poetry or want to be inspired, this is a great set of poetry. I read the poems one or two a day (sometimes I’d cheat) and try to soak them in. I don’t know if this is the way I was supposed to enjoy it, but I think it worked for me.

Also a hint: there are some photos in this. I can’t comment too much on them because I have an old Kindle that didn’t show them in good quality. If you want full effect, go f

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read reviews and follow Miriam: Goodreads

Connect to Miriam via her website: The Showers of Blessings

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with a book or two under your arm..thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name?- Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin


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

Francis – Forging new bonds

Francis Baxter checked into the hotel in the middle of Chamonix on the Friday night and tired from his long journey headed off to bed and slept for ten hours straight.

He woke to find the sun streaming in through the windows of his suite and a craving for several cups of strong coffee. He showered and sat in the extremely fluffy bath robe supplied by the exclusive hotel and waited for room service to send up his breakfast. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He didn’t want to think about Chrissie back home in Houston or Dane and Shannon finishing off their semester before heading home for the Easter holidays. He hadn’t informed anyone, not even his business partner of twenty years, where he was going; he had not switched on his mobile since landing in Geneva yesterday.

Unfortunately denial did not stop the rush of thoughts and emotions that had been triggered two days ago when Chrissie has asked for a divorce. Their discussion that had developed into a full-blown argument replayed in his head over and over. Her accusation that he was more interested in his work and making money than their marriage, and that she no longer loved him had established itself front and centre in his mind; he had not seen that coming.

He knew that he was ambitious and he and Richard, his partner, worked long hours keeping their accountancy business afloat in these uncertain times. Yes, they played golf at the weekends but it was their way of unwinding after a long week. He admitted to himself that there were too many dinners in the city with major clients but they required constant attention.

The fact was that without the business they would not have the big house, fancy cars and vacations. He had thought that Chrissie was content with the trappings that came with his job; he was furious with himself for missing all the signs and taking so much for granted.

There was a discreet knock on the door and Francis walked over to admit the uniformed waiter who wheeled in a laden trolley. Having slipped the young guy a generous tip, Francis settled down at the table and contemplated his breakfast. Suddenly he had little appetite so sipped his strong black coffee and flicked through one of the local guides that were spread out in front of him.

The truth was that he knew this area quite well as he had lived here as a child with his French mother and American father who was an artist. They had moved to the United States when he was twelve years old which is why, when faced with this bombshell he had chosen to run as far as he could; to somewhere he still considered his home. A picture captured his attention as he automatically turned the pages in the glossy brochure. It was of a place that he remembered from his childhood when he and his parents would take long treks at the weekend up the sides of the surrounding mountains. His father would carry the rucksack containing their lunch which always consisted of a fresh baked baguette from the local cafe along with fresh tomatoes and a tub of rich homemade mayonnaise. They would find a perch above the valley and the three of them would break the bread into chunks, add a dollop of mayo, a couple of slices of the bright red tomato and it tasted heavenly.

This reminded him that he was actually hungry right now. He decided to tuck into the now cooling omelette and croissant; he was going to need some fuel for the walk he now planned to take.

Francis opened his suit carrier which he had hurriedly thrown random clothes into and realised that he was not equipped for hiking. He pulled on some jeans and a sweat shirt and headed downstairs and out into the main street. The shops didn’t open until later in the morning, but he spent his time well, window shopping and popping into a bakery for another coffee and some supplies for his hike. He returned to one of the sports outfitters that he had scoped out earlier and bought some jeans, boots, parka and a rucksack. He also picked up a detailed guide to the trails, not trusting his memory completely, and a water bottle. He returned to the hotel and quickly changed into his new clothes. At the last minute he added his mobile phone to the essentials in his rucksack for safety reasons and headed down the corridor to the elevator.

Two hours later, after realising how out of shape he was, Francis breathlessly reached his destination. The roar of the torrent of water that rushed down the mountainside from the spring melt filled the air and the scent of pine was strong in his nostrils. Memories flooded back of a different time when every spare moment that he had was filled with activities like this. His parents always seemed to be there beside him hiking, skiing and sledding down moonlit slopes close to the town. He remembered drinking hot chocolate around the fire at a local inn and being included even when there were adult guests around the big kitchen table for fondue. What he could not remember was the last time that he, Chrissie and the kids had spent any time together or even enjoyed a family meal.

He viewed the narrow footbridge across the gorge that he needed to cross to reach the small building clinging to the rock face on the other side of the raging river. It had carried thousands across safely over the hundreds of years that it had existed but a little hesitantly he walked over watching the flood waters racing beneath him.

Francis knew what to expect as he opened the door into the little chapel but was still unprepared for the wave of emotion that swept through him. Sunlight fought to gain entry into the tiny space through small windows fashioned into the thick outer wall. The faint rays illuminated the walls of stone and the shrine at its heart. Francis walked slowly inside and stood for a moment with his head bowed. Around him in the cracks in the walls, hundreds of small slips of paper caught the light. They were the prayers and supplications of people across time that had needed guidance and restoration of faith. Townspeople had walked up from the valley and travellers through the passes had stopped for a brief respite and comfort. Their combined presence had created a vortex of emotion and the hair on the back of Francis’s neck stood on end.

He had never been a religious man but he knew that this place was a spiritual oasis where all could regain their strength and sense of purpose. He remained for a few minutes longer and then gently closing the door behind him he walked back across the bridge. Gradually the feelings that had been triggered so forcefully subsided and in their place came clarity.

He walked down the trail until he reached a point overlooking the town. He sat on a warm rock and opened his rucksack. He broke the baguette into four pieces and liberally spread fresh mayonnaise on each piece before adding a thick slice of tomato with a little salt. He ate his simple meal as he contemplated his next move.

Satisfied now in body and soul he picked up his mobile and switched it back on. Ignoring all the texts and messages waiting for him; he made two calls. The first to Chrissie that lasted a long time and ended with his satisfied smile; the second that was equally lengthy to his business partner. He packed up the remains of his lunch and headed back down into the town where he spent the next few hours visiting chalet rental offices

For the first time in years, Francis felt that he was where he belonged and a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. Chrissie would be arriving tomorrow and then next week Dane and Shannon would join them. It was time to repair those bonds that had been broken and to forge new ones that were stronger and would last a lifetime.

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 5th – 11th January 2020 – Count Basie, Phosphorus, Reviews, New Books, Bloggers and Funnies.


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

It seems to take longer each year to get back to normal after the holidays. Almost the middle of January and at least spring always appears to be around the corner once we get into this part of the year. Nothing startling happening around the house as we are waiting for dry weather to get in stones for drainage and topsoil to finish the piece where the new fence has been erected. We have adopted a much more relaxed approach to these jobs now, as nothing we do or say is going to make the weather more amenable to our needs!

Never mind, there is plenty of warmth and friendship online to enjoy and we could have it a great deal worse. As the fires in Australia continue, we can only be grateful for days of rain and the ability to live safely. The devastation and loss of life and wildlife is something that will take decades to fully recover from and it must be a huge worry for relatives of families in the areas under attack.

As always my thanks to the regular contributors and to you for dropping in and supporting us with your comments and sharing of posts.

This week William shares the music of the legendary Count Basie – 1904 – 1984

William Price King with Count Basie

In the final post of this series Carol Taylor and I team up to share the symptoms of a deficiency of Phosphorus and the foods you need to include in your diet regularly.

This week cooking from scratch to prevent a deficiency of phosphorus

This month Silvia Todesco shows us how to make authentic pesto sauce, and essential ingredient in pasta sauces.

Pesto alla Genovese sauce, ten tricks for the best result

What I wish I knew then by Pete Springer

My review for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

My review #Mystery Watching Glass Shatter by James M. Cudney

Two more stories from this collection…

Eric – Just Making Do

Fionnuala The Swan

For the first Tuesday in the month for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 159 it is poet’s choice.  I have selected a Butterfly Cinquain…

Butterfly Cinquain – Friendship

Unarranged Marriage by Ritu Bhathal on pre-order February 9th.

Beck ‘n’ Call Lands of Exile Book 2 by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin

Thriller Carol Balawyder, Mystery Diana J. Febry, Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg

Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, Thriller Don Massenzio, Prehistory Jacqui Murray

Book Review Michelle Clements James, Book Launch Tips Mary Smith, Climate Change Carol Taylor

Movie Review D.G. Kaye, Funnies The Story Reading Ape, Measurements Beetley Pete

Recipes Amy Reade, Tarot Jan Sikes, Interview Jane Risdon

Carol Taylor – Whimsical Wednesdays – Robbie Cheadle Book review, Marcia Meara with a marketing opportunity

Aurora Jean Alexander – Books, Inspiration Charli Mills, Japanese Poetry Colleen Chesebro

Here is part one of an alternative shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick. This list contains the top sources for the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient – Vitamins A- B

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

More funnies and an invitation to join in the fun

Thank you for all your support and wishing you a great week ahead. Look forward to seeing you here again.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Review – #Family #Mystery – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney


The first book review for the year is for the family drama Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney. Having enjoyed the books in the Braxton Campus Series, I was looking forward to reading the first of the author’s books, and was not disappointed.

About the book

After 40 years of marriage, Olivia’s husband unexpectedly passes away. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers.

Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father. But will the secrets destroy their family, or bring them closer together?

My review for the book.

Another excellent read from author James J. Cudney.

For anyone coming from a large sized family this book will only confirm that brothers and sisters, and sometimes our parents, don’t share everything with us as they tend to operate on a need to know basis. Especially as we don’t necessarily reveal every side to our nature when it might go against other people’s expectations of us, real or imagined.

There are five brothers all grieving the untimely death of their father, all with different emotions about their connection to him and also their mother Olivia. On the surface Olivia is elegant with a perfect home and life laid out meticulously, leaving her sons with a sense of coolness and detachment, despite her own way of showing her love for them. This has forced some of them to keep secrets from her in case of upsetting the status quo. From what we hear about their father Ben, he was much more attuned to the events in their lives even if he might not have acknowledged their choices whilst alive.

Whilst dealing with her own grief at the loss of the love of her life, Olivia now is faced with a dilemma about how she handles the secret she has now been made aware of. Which one of her sons is not the one she gave birth to? And how can she forgive her husband Ben for his actions and for leaving her to clear up the mystery on her own. Sensibly she decides to spend time with all of her sons before reaching a decision, and in doing so uncovers other truths she was unaware of, some of which are hurtful and some devastating.

For me Olivia is well crafted central and complex character, with what appears to be a coldness, but which is really a facade hiding a doubts about her abilities of a mother and her perceptions of how she is regarded by the society she has grown up within. Throughout the story we watch as she dismantles this facade to reveal the warmer and more genuine person beneath.

We also get to know each of the sons in turn discovering their secrets and their misconceptions about how they will be received. It shows what most of us know, that much of the time we misjudge how others are going to react, projecting our fear onto them. Usually we find they already know and have accepted the situation without judgement.

There is much miscommunication to sort out and James Cudney does this very well, with understanding and compassion as well as a realistic view about family life and relationships. There is tragedy ahead but that too brings another element to the story that strengthens the bonds between the brothers and their mother.

This process is facilitated by another well developed character, Olivia’s sister Diane, childless and recently divorced, and who is an impartial, loving, non-judgemental sounding board for both her sister and her nephews as they re-establish their connection to each other and mysteries are revealed.

I came away from reading the story with a renewed sense of appreciation of my own family, as I realised how easy it is as we grow older to detach ourselves from the lives of those close to us, only sharing what we think they might want to hear, instead of who we really are.

I recommend Watching Glass Shatter to anyone who enjoys well written family sagas with the mystery at the heart of the story, skillfully kept hidden until the last pages.

There are over 150 excellent reviews for the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Discover more about James J. Cudney – read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

About James J. Cudney

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

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

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

Connect to James via his blog This is my Truth Now

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will head over to discover more about James J. Cudney and his books. Thanks Sally.