Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Bette A. Stevens, Phillip T. Stephens, Julie Lawford, John Maberry and Annette Rochelle Aben


Welcome to the first of the Christmas Book Fairs and books that would make wonderful gifts for readers across the genres.. It is also my way of saying thank you to the authors in the bookstore who have been in and out of the blog and so supportive over the year.

The first author to showcase is children’s author Bette A. Stevens whose books received wonderful reviews. Here is Dog Bone Soup with one of its recent reviews.

About the book

Whether or not You Grew Up in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll find DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction) to be soup for the soul. In this coming-of-age novel, Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning, splitting and stacking firewood…But when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. DOG BONE SOUP is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living The American Dream.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

A delightful story on October 1, 2017

In preparing to write this review, I read a couple of other reviews of this book on Amazon and Goodreads. I was interested to note one comment that likened this book to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I can see why this comparison has been drawn as Bette A. Stevens main character, Shawn Daniels, and Huckleberry Finn are both boys dogged by poverty and abusive and alcoholic fathers. Both boys are also fairly resourceful and have survival skills.

For me, however, that was where the comparison ended. Stevens depicts the Daniels family as being tight knit despite their unfortunate father. The children and their Mother work together to salvage their situation to the best extent they can. I really felt sad for the Mother as she was a victim of her own hormones and emotions and could not find the strength to break away from her selfish and abusive husband. She remained in a downward spiralling situation and ended up having a fourth child which was really unwise.

Shawn, the eldest child, does his best to be hard working, industrious and do well at school. He is a role model for his younger brother, Willie, and two younger sisters. Shawn tries to make the best of his situation and grasp opportunities that come his way.

I found this story to be very poignant and moving and Stevens’ writing is captivating. Despite some disturbing descriptions in the book I still found it to be a very uplifting book. Highly recommended.

Read all the reviews and buy the book at this universal link : http://bit.ly/1HGpCsZ

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

Read more reviews and follow Bette on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Connect to Bette via her website: https://4writersandreaders.com/

The next author that I would like to feature and who provided us with some wonderful lifestyle posts during the summer is Julie Lawford with her book Singled Out.

About the Book

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

One of the excellent reviews for Singled Out.

Wilma Lettings 5.0 out of 5 stars Very good 18 June 2017

A very well written thriller set during a holiday trip to Turkey, organised for singles. You might assume that this could be chick lit, but that would do the character depth and writing style grave injustice. While certainly appealing to female audiences this novel doesn’t limit itself to pure light-hearted romantic interests but visits darker sides of the dating game and crime.

Using alternate narrative strands and voices we get insight into the characters, but we’re shown enough to be drawn deep into these characters.
Things are not as they seem and while you have an incling what is about to happen, be assured that there are always surprises waiting for you.

Not the kind of book I had originally expected but in fact, a much better one. Very good!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Read more reviews and follow Julie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13411991.Julie_Lawford

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website: http://julielawford.com

Another author who is extremely supportive on Twitter is Phillip T. Stephens and here is his book Cigerets, Guns & Beer.

About the book

Dodd breaks up a convenience store robbery when his car breaks down in Sweet Water Falls, Texas. What’s the thanks he gets? The sheriff won’t let him leave, the car lot can’t find the parts and everybody wants him for something—sales pitch, church membership, and even stud pony.

But most of all, it seems a family named Dodd were shot down robbing the bank in 1949 and the half million they stole remains missing. Everyone thinks Dodd returned to dig up the loot and no one intends to let him leave until he finds it—along with (or so the legends go) a long lost flying saucer.

Here is one of the most recent reviews.

The cover of Cigerets, Guns & Beer by Phillip T. Stevens catches the eye immediately. Beer and cigarettes are present, necessary for any good breakfast. While a gun is not displayed, bullet holes are, perhaps from the night before. A reader might predict that this will be a “good ol’ boy” novel replete with rednecks. The reader would be correct.

This novel will make those who grew up in a small town nostalgic; a place where there might be only one law enforcement officer who also read water and electric meters, sold alcohol in defiance of Sunday “blue laws,” was a source of under-the-table porn, and served as a de facto judge deciding what town residents could and could not get away with.

This was the case with Sweet Water Falls, Texas. Joe Bob Meeker was the law. Brother Ralph Meeker was the mayor and JP (Justice of the Peace). Ralph also owned a general store, a car dealership, an insurance agency, and a hotel. Both men along with banker Mal Rafferty completely controlled the town. All served on the town council and exercised rezoning authority to force businesses to relocate or cease operations. The three would then buy the pieces left of the defunct property and open the businesses again under a new name and ownership.

The three men had gotten greedy, some of their business dealings were fraudulent. Up to now, geographic isolation had blocked an investigation. A series of robberies and shootings had never been thoroughly investigated by anyone other than Sheriff Joe Bob. An impartial investigation would have placed the sheriff in the category of a suspect. Any small business owners left in Sweet Water were under control of one of the three powerful men; they were forced to follow any rules formulated by the trio. There was resentment but no organized opposition had surfaced. That was about to change.

Dodd was just passing through town on the way to his new job as a partner in a law firm. The township that employed him as an intern lawyer didn’t want him to continue after his parole was up. The idea of a lawyer who obtained his education in prison was bad for publicity. Dodd was moving on to join a firm at the invitation of a former colleague. He hadn’t planned the gas leak that necessitated car repair and a stop in Sweet Water. It was just coincidence that more than decades previously Sweet Water was a town with history for a family named Dodd. Three brothers named Dodd had robbed a bank of USD 500 000. Two of the brothers were shot and killed and the third got away to hide the money before being shot and killed days later. Sheriff Joe Bob, possibly with the collusion of Ralph, had shot the first two Dodd brothers. The money was never found.

Dodd entered the town to repair his car. He entered Ralph’s store to buy supplies as he continued his trip. The store was being robbed by a nervous 17-year-old and Dodd, an ex-convict, decided to defuse the situation by recounting to the teenager the joys of prison life while attempting to convince him to surrender. Successful in foiling the robbery, Dodd was now stuck in the town until a statement could be prepared for Sheriff Joe Bob for adjudication by brother Ralph. This would take a few days. Meanwhile, town residents would speculate on the coincidence of a Dodd reappearing in the town. Was he there to find the money? Or was he there to find the UFO?

After the initial set-up for the story, all eyes are on Dodd. Especially female eyes. He either has sex with every female or is invited to but turns them down. It seems there is little else to do in a small town. They seem to be the frontline agents for finding out if he is related to the Dodd robber family, a claim Dodd will deny throughout the book. Dodd (first name) Dodd (last name) middle initial D. will apply home style wisdom combined with prison savvy in an attempt to right wrongs in this thoroughly corrupt community. He might even look for the missing money as he tries to find the UFO.

This book has laugh-out-loud understated humor in its description of small town insular life. There are several surprises to keep the reader from putting the book down. Although there seems to be a lot of sexual activity going on, offensive language is MOSTLY absent. Readers will only have to shield their sensibilities for approximately six pages of the 376-page novel.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

A selection of books also by Phillip T. Stephens

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Read more reviews and follow Phillip on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/583139.Phillip_T_Stephens

Connect with Phillip via his website: https://ptstephens.com/

The next author with news is John Maberry with his 10th Anniversary edition of his book Waiting for Westmoreland.

About the book

Surviving poverty and the deaths of loved ones, the author remains hopeful as he exits childhood. then comes the draft that sends him to Vietnam. With innocence lost and illusions shattered, he seeks answers. College courses are intriguing but offer no solutions. Eventually, hope returns in the form of a life philosophy that comes from a chance encounter at a party. It’s all about cause and effect. Events happen not by chance but as a result of karma. Unseen connections have surprising consequences. This knowledge comes in the nick of time, as he faces his most serious situation since the perils of Vietnam, the threat of death from a prospective father-in-law. He must take responsibility for the matter, despite being unaware of the underlying reason for it, reform himself and seek only her father’s happiness.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

One man’s journey from chaos to inner peace. on November 4, 2017

Here we have a book that is much more than memoir, and more life journey told (and written) exceedingly well and with great courage. If the writer’s mandate is to ‘open a vein’, Maberry has opened that vein and allowed whatever flowed to fill this work. From his background in hardscrabble Minnesota, enduring the loss of a parent, then for all intents and purposes the loss of the other, the author describes his various efforts to carve a niche for himself. Just as his efforts appear to be paying off, he’s found a companion, started school, navigated his way through the shoals of early adulthood, when the Selective Service System came calling and he was drafted.

Change scenes to Vietnam in 1967-68, and Maberry begins again to sort out the fictions of America’s involvement in South Asia Vs the realities of war: No clear purpose for being there; chauvinistic treatment of Vietnamese people, especially the abuse of women; and a lifer sergeant who embodied everything wrong with the American military. Maberry returns from Vietnam disillusioned, cynical and without real purpose. Indeed, it’s a mistake to refer to Waiting for Westmoreland as simply a war memoir. It’s much more one man’s journey from chaos and the vicissitudes of life, to finding inner peace through Buddhism, something that surprised even the author, until he saw how the practice worked in his own life.

The book does have a tendency to be dismissive of various U.S. institutions and traditions, certain presidents, and other public servants, and often with good reason. By way of disclosure, this reader too is a Vietnam Vet, and I, too, was astonished, as Maberry asserts, that the American people reelected Richard Nixon. Looking past this judgmental assessment, and reading this book with an open mind, and an open heart, reveals a path that perhaps many veterans of America’s ill advised war in Vietnam might take.

Five stars, and I don’t do that often. Byron Edgington, author of A Vietnam Anthem. A Vietnam Anthem: What The War Gave Me

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Westmoreland-John-Maberry-ebook/dp/B00VTYJE3U

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waiting-Westmoreland-John-Maberry-ebook/dp/B00VTYJE3U

Also by John Maberry

Read all the reviews and buy both books: https://www.amazon.com/John-Maberry/e/B002BM82FU

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Maberry/e/B002BM82FU

Follow John Maberry on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1210538.John_Maberry

Connect to John via his website: http://waitforwest.eaglepeakpress.com/

Annette Rochelle Aben has been very busy in the run up to Christmas with two new books on the shelves. Annette has been a part of this blog for almost four years and a more supportive and generous person you could not connect to.  Here is her newest book which is Angel Messages Two: Songs of the Heart

About Angel Messages Two

The songs of the hearts of Angels guide us, lift us and fill our lives with hope and love.

They harmonize with our heartbeats, ask us to trust and remind us that we are precious.

They call to us tenderly, helping us find comfort. Encouragement is but a request away.

How is this (and more) all possible? Because the songs of the heart are pure love. When our hearts are singing the songs of love, we connect with Angels. Open your heart to connection with Angels, with Angel Messages Two – songs of the heart.
Unlike a book that takes a story and divides it into chapters, Angel Messages Two – songs of the heart, is a book of messages (songs) that can be read one right after another or one at a time. From day to day, a different message may speak to you. Open this book to find what is perfect for you (or someone else) at that moment.

The pictures in this book, remind you that Angels appear in a variety of forms while the Tanka brings to life, the deeper message each of the photographs.

Angel Messages Two – songs of the heart, is perfect for anyone who has ever wanted to connect with Angels as much as it is perfect for anyone who already has a relationship with Angels.

The messages are presented in poetry that we call Tanka. Tanka is a form of traditional Japanese lyric poetry that uses 31 syllables spread out over 5 lines, to convey its message. The word “tanka” translates to “short song.” The short songs of this book help us to be aware of our deep, abiding connection to energies we might not be able to see but can feel in our hearts.

To be in the presence of Angels is soothing, warm; reminiscent of being around the most supportive energy you can imagine. It can also be energizing, electric and indescribably emotional. When an Angel makes its presence known, it will be when you most need the confirmation that you are not alone. You always have a home in an Angel’s heart and they are excited to be at home in your heart.

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Messages-Two-songs-heart-ebook/dp/B077ZCF2ZX

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Messages-Two-songs-heart-ebook/dp/B077ZCF2ZX

And another perfect gift for poetry lovers for Christmas; the other new collection from Annette Rochelle AbenA Tanka Picture Book.

An early review for the collection

This beautiful little book will warm your heart and stir your soul. A Tanka Picture Book by Annette Rochelle Aben is a treasure trove of inspiration, filled with picturesque images overlaid by touching verse. The author explains that Tanka means “short song.” I find this the perfect description, considering I felt my heart singing while I read. Compassion, encouragement, and gratitude create a texture and mood that will leave you feeling both peaceful and exhilarated. Whether your spirit needs fortifying or you’re simply looking for a splendid gift, this book is sure to deliver.

Also by Annette Rochelle Aben

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY

Find more reviews and follow Annette at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8262554.Annette_Rochelle_Aben

 

Connect to Annette via her blog/website: https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and I am sure that you will find plenty here for gifts for yourself and for family and friends. Thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Christmas Lights by Sue Vincent.


Hard to believe that we are only 15 days away from Christmas and this weekend we are putting up our tree. It is a six foot artificial variety that you won’t find in any botanical reference, but it has been with us for twenty years and is part of the family.

Sue Vincent shares one of the posts from her Christmas archives and as always with her stories, it will leave you with a warm glow. Tissue alert………

Christmas Lights by Sue Vincent.

“I must be mad.” A wry smile played amongst the wrinkles as she heaved the top half of the faded tree into place. Not a large tree… about the same height as its owner. Taller, probably, these days, she thought. She had always struggled with the damned thing. Why today? She cursed herself for an idiot, laughed at herself… a fine picture in her nightie putting up a Christmas tree no-one would see. Except her, of course. She would know.

So many times she had dressed this tree and carefully packed it away again. Every year for over half a century. Gawd but that sounded a long time. Somehow, at this end of life it didn’t feel it. But the children had grown and had homes of their own now… trees and children of their own. There had been the year when no-one came… and there is nothing sadder than a Christmas tree no child will see. She hadn’t bothered with the tree after that; not for a long time. Why she had decided to drag it out this year she would never know.

Boxes littered the floor; scraps of tarnished tinsel, the inevitable sparkle of old glitter and dust motes. She straightened the branches, bending their ageing wire into some semblance of order. The thing looked a sorry specimen, after all. Years of use and longer years in the cupboard under the stairs had taken their toll. “Should have left it there.” Her voice broke the silence that hung in the air. Too much silence, she thought.

In the bottom of the box she spied the old CD in its dog-eared sleeve …old favourites. Would it still work? They would make her cry… they always did… but what the hell. The machine groaned and creaked as she pressed ‘play’ and the crooner oozed into the familiar song. She could never hear it without tears welling unbidden; even in the supermarket. That and the damned chestnuts roasting … got her every time, they did. Ah well, she had memories for every note … she pressed repeat. It could keep playing.

She sniffed and wiped her eyes on her sleeve, smiling. Then, eyes narrowed with determination, she bent her knees. Joints protested at the unaccustomed movement; it took a while and a fair amount of cursing to make it to the floor. She had forgotten what the world looked like from down here. The tree looked taller, more imposing. A child’s eye view… Mind you, they had been proper trees then, smelling of pine and shedding needles everywhere that turned up all year in the strangest places. There had been trees so tall they’d had to saw the bottom off to get them in the room… and the ceilings were high in the big old house. She remembered Grandad wrestling with the biggest of them, fighting his way in. It took up half the room. The whole place had smelled like Christmas, garlanded with holly and mistletoe. She’d never liked killing trees though…

They’d always decorated the laburnum outside the French windows too… stringing monkey nuts together to make garlands and making fat balls and coconuts instead of baubles for the birds to have Christmas too. That was where she’d learned their names. So long ago now…

The lights were all tangled, of course. “Sod’s law”, she thought, “I’ll sort ‘em out and then they won’t work…” Even so, her fingers began the long, fiddly job, untangling the wires. She remembered tiny candles on the tree as a girl. Little golden holders with clips on the end. “Gawd, what a fire hazard that must have been. I suppose that’s why we only lit them Christmas Eve.” She plugged the wires into the socket, astonished to find herself surrounded by pinpoints of multi-coloured light. “Bloody hell…” She winced as she climbed to her feet once more, catching her breath as she straightened the stiff spine before winding the little lamps around the tree. Somehow, they seemed to bring it to life.

Tinsel should be next, she thought, picking up the crumbling mass. The tarnished strands looked drab and brittle. Maybe not… She’d always liked the tinsel. Even the plain silver stuff they’d had back then… thin and sparse. Not like the big, thick garlands of it she had bought when the children were small… emerald green. They had spent one December making big, shiny bows to hold the top loops of the draped tinsel that ran around the picture rail. Faded green now, almost silver. Full circle…

The icicles were okay though. She loved those… clear and iridescent, they had always looked good. Garlands of small ones to drape through the branches… big individual ones to hang alone… they looked almost new, like the day they had bought them. Their first Christmas together with the kids… Woolworths, she recalled. They had been expensive back then… they could only afford a few and by the next year the icicles were frosted twists. Not the same at all.

There had been icicles on the real tree too… glass ones. She remembered the care with which they had been packed and unpacked each year from the sectioned cardboard boxes. Each one wrapped in tissue paper… and still there were always broken baubles; shattered piles of gilded shards amid the treasures. The caps went missing too… and the little sprung pins that went through them to hang on the tree. It was always a time of wonder for the little girl, unwrapping the magic of Christmas, discovering old friends… all the baubles were special and had their stories that wound back through the garlands of time and family. Plastic now. Safer. But not the same.

Adeste Fideles… Grandma used to love that song. She sang along with the Latin carol. Her mind went back to the merry old lady in the paper crown, scraping the brazil nuts she loved against her few remaining teeth. Granny had hated the false ones. “Yeah…. I can understand that now.” Paper crowns… and turkey and Christmas pudding…. And Great Granny needing the commode halfway through Christmas dinner every year… “And I’m older now than she was…”

She found a few crackers… squashed and battered. They wouldn’t bang, not now. But then, she wouldn’t be pulling them. They’d had to help great granny pull them too. Still, they had the paper crowns and corny jokes inside. Grinning with remembered mischief, she teased the crimped end apart, tipping the little plastic toy into her hand. Utter rubbish of course… but she had been adept at peeking to see what was in them when she was little. She put the cheap puzzle back in the cracker, crimping the ends so you couldn’t tell… she could still do it… not that anyone would look. They probably never had…then she placed the crackers on the tree. The magic was always there for children… they didn’t care that the toys in the crackers were rubbish. It was the laughter.

She was near the bottom of the box now. Were they really still there? Those little parcels, neatly wrapped… their very first Christmas when they couldn’t afford baubles so had wrapped all manner of things… mainly matchboxes…to hang on the tree. Then there were the little knitted toys her own granny had made… a snowman, an angel and a Santa. The star was missing though… the big, shiny star for the top of the tree. She had made a hole in the back so she could light it up… but it had gone, who knew where… He was still there though. She smiled, reaching down to the bottom of the box… the robin was a little moth-eaten and threadbare, but he still seemed to smile back at her. Could robins smile? He would be the star. She placed him on top of the tree and stood back. A bit wonky, but suddenly it felt like Christmas.

There was still something missing though. Rooting around in the screwed up paper she found the little bag… the nativity figures. She set them out around the base of the tree. Crudely carved, she loved the lines of the tall Magi… and especially the little wooden donkey. She was still holding him as she sat down, breathing in harsh little gasps… she needed a rest. Getting old was no fun…

Rheumy eyes travelled across the tree. She’d always had good taste, always been at war with herself over the Christmas decorations. On one level she saw them as a little overblown and tawdry… but they held memories. Lifetimes of them, not just her own. Every bauble held a story… and they would all be forgotten one day. She was their custodian. For now. Did it matter? Probably not, not any more. The children had their own memories… no-one else would care, not really. They wouldn’t even know they didn’t know, would they?

Half a dozen Christmas cards on the mantle… old friends far away, one to Grandma. That made her smile. She’d kept them, the special ones… the ‘I love you’s, the ones the children had made… they were there. She remembered long strings of cards filling the walls once upon a time, hundreds of them. Never enough room. Such a lovely thing… paper thoughts that had fallen on the doormat, bridging miles and bringing friends and family close to the heart with each opened envelope. She was tired now. “…Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light…” Said it all that song… The room blurred as the tears came. They always did.

Gentle tears, greeting each memory with love, grateful for their presence. Setting them free like snowy doves, saying farewell to the memories that would not return to her ageing mind. There had been love, so much love. And laughter. Silliness and games, tears and longing. Empty places, missing faces, new brides, new babes…There had been Life. And every year of it, there had been Christmas. “…Through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow…” Would they come, she wondered? Would they be waiting? She stroked the rough lines of the cockeyed wooden donkey… she’d have to put him with the others. Let him go. Not yet though… a few more minutes…

Outside she could hear children playing in the August sun…

The young woman watched from the corner of the room, silent and unseen. She was filled with love for this little old lady. Her heart ached for her, wanting to reach out and wipe the last traces of tears from the withered cheeks… yet she smiled too, knowing they were not tears of regret for loves that were lost, but joy for the love she had known.

She watched as the eyes closed and the mouth fell open, saw the arthritic fingers relax and the little wooden donkey fall to her lap. He would stay with her till they found her.

Unseen, unfelt, she studied the quiet figure, moving closer, dropping an ephemeral kiss on her brow. Where had the years gone? How quickly they had flown… what had she learned and what would come next?

She turned to say a last goodbye to the faded glory of the Christmas tree… a present of Christmas past. A final gift. A Christmas feast of love and memory illuminated by fairy lights. The lights filled the dark corner of the little room. Lights filled with Love and the promise of a greater Light beyond.

Light that drew her like open arms, waiting… drawing her… onward.

There was always Light and Love at Christmas.

©Sue Vincent

My thanks to Sue for this delightful story that illustrates how powerful the memories of Christmas and love of families can be.

About Sue Vincent, her collaborations and her books.

One of her most important collaborations is with a small black dog with a delightful mind of her own!  Meet Ani..

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Sue is a prolific author and has also co-written a book with Dr. G. Michael Vasey and over recent years a substantial number with Stuart France.  Here is a small selection.

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About An Imperious Impulse: Coyote Tales – the latest release from Sue and Stuart.

“Couldn’t you make me into a Bull?” asked Coyote. In a time before Man walked the Earth, the Great Spirit breathed life into the land. Coyote was the First. Playful, subversive, curious and sometimes comical, he and his fellow creatures shaped the world for those who were to follow. Coyote is a Native American Trickster and hero of many adventures.

Tales of Coyote were passed down and shared with the young to illustrate the dangers of being human. Wilful, headstrong and always in trouble, Coyote journeyed through the spirit worlds, stealing fire and outwitting Death. When the Earth was loved as a living being, the rocks sang and the trees danced. Animals uttered Nature’s wisdom and the sun rose and set upon a wondrous world. The echoes of this magical landscape can still be found in the myths and legends of many cultures. They represent the weaving of the human spirit and the silent lore of creation.

‘Be careful, Coyote, never perform this trick more than four times in any one day.’ ‘An Imperious Impulse’ is the first book of the Lore Weavers, a collection of ancient tales retold. All traditional cultures evolved stories through which the natural and supernatural worlds could be explained and approached. Beyond their entertainment and humour is a deeper layer of mystery and symbolism through which the wisdom of the people could be transmitted. Telling of a time beyond human experience or memory, these tales meld a knowledge of the natural world with the spiritual and moral code of their creators. The essence of the human quest for an understanding of our role within creation has changed little over the millennia.

From the Dreaming of the Australian peoples, to the Great Mystery of the Native Americans and the ancient Celtic myths, there is a common thread that unites humankind across time and distance. It is in the rich tapestry of folk tales that we glimpse its multi-hued beauty. Long may they continue to be enjoyed.

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Imperious-Impulse-Coyote-Tales-Weavers/dp/1910478172

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Imperious-Impulse-Coyote-Tales-Weavers/dp/1910478172

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer currently living in the south of England, largely due to an unfortunate incident with a map, a pin and a blindfold. Raised in a spiritually eclectic family she has always had an unorthodox view on life, particularly the inner life, which is often reflected in her writing, poetry and paintings.

Sue lived in France for several years, sharing a Bohemian lifestyle and writing songs before returning to England where the youngest of her two sons was born. She began writing and teaching online several years ago, and was invited to collaborate with Dr G Michael Vasey on their book, “The Mystical Hexagram: The Seven Inner Stars of Power” (Datura Press).

51sl-a2xhyl-_uy250_Stuart France and Sue Vincent are also the authors of the Doomsday series.

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Find out more about their work together: http://www.franceandvincent.com/

inner-temple-three

Sue, along with Steve Tanham and Stuart France, is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, an international modern Mystery School that seeks to allow its students to find the inherent magic in living and being. http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk

Also by Sue Vincent

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Discover all of Sue Vincent’s books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W

Read more reviews and follow Sue on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6551588.Sue_Vincent

Connect to Sue Vincent

Blog: http://scvincent.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scvincent
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/S-C-Vincent/17967259931?ref=hl
Silent Eye Website: http://thesilenteye.co.uk/
Website (books) : http://www.franceandvincent.com/
Silent Eye Authors FB: https://www.facebook.com/silenteyeauthors?ref=hl

Thank you for dropping in today and I am Sue and I would both love your feedback.. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Pavlova Recipe from Brigid P. Gallagher


Brigid Gallagher shares a delicious dessert to serve over the Christmas holidays. You can never go wrong with a fresh fruit Pavlova..

In 2015, my pavlova style changed forever after witnessing Welsh actor Michael Sheen’s winning triple layer pavlova on “Great British Comic Relief Bake Off. ” Michael used passion fruit and lemon curd for his filling – a beautiful combination.

I am using an alternative filling of fresh raspberries and blueberries, to create a celebration Pavlova which will make a wonderful Christmas or birthday dessert.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 150 C/ 140 for fan assisted oven.
Prepare 3 sheets of baking parchment, and draw 3 circles around tea plates of different sizes. Place parchment on baking trays.

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs,
  • 12 ounces of castor sugar,
  • Dessert spoon of cornflour,
  • Dessert spoon of white wine vinegar,
  • 1/2 pint of whipping or double cream (I use non dairy)
  • Fruit of your choice for filling and embellishment.

Method

  • Separate egg whites and add to a clean bowl – any fatty residues will prevent the whites from whipping. (I keep my remaining yolks and usually make Creme Brulee on the same day.)
  • Whisk whites with an electric whisk until they make stiff peaks. You can turn the bowl upside down, and if the egg remains in the bowl you have the perfect consistency!
  • Add the castor sugar slowly while still whisking,
  • Add cornflour and vinegar while still whisking.
  • Scoop out meringue mixture and place on the three circles of baking parchment. Spread around to the edge of each circle. Create a nest like dent in each meringue.
  • Put the trays of meringue into the preheated oven.
  • Allow approximately one hour to cook. They should have a nice crisp shell and a pale exterior:

I switch the oven off and leave the meringues inside to cool – this prevents cracking of the outer shell.

Finally, layer your meringues with whipped cream and fruit, decorating as you please…

I gave the tops a little bash in the centre with a spoon, to create more of a nest for my cream and fruit. I could of course have created a well in the centre before it entered the oven, but I forgot!

How dull life would be without a little cake…

ENJOY!

©Brigid Gallagher 2015

About Watching the Daisies

About the book

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

  • The busy life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating disease
  • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms
  • Entering a new life of SLOW

Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety of self help techniques and lifestyle changes. She also unearths a love of solo travel including Egypt, India, Rome, Lourdes, Carcassonne and Bali…

Brigid learns many insights about LIFE on her journey, the most valuable being: “First learn to love thyself.”

In 2006, she began a new career in Organic Horticulture eventually teaching part time in schools. Although she has now retired from teaching, she continues to pursue her lifelong passion for gardening and watching the daisies.

The most recent review for the book

This delightful memoir has a number of threads running through it, all of which the author skilfully weaves together into an appealing whole.

Music is one of the threads, right from Brigid’s youth when she danced to Alan Freeman’s Pick of the Pops in the living room, to attending concerts of performers like Thin Lizzy, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox and Tina Turner, to later trips to see Tom Jones and Clannad. One day in her youth she even spent her lunchtime work break stalking Cliff Richard as he did some shopping!

Unfortunately, another major thread is ill health. From childhood dental abscesses, laryngitis and joint pains, to insomnia, depression and pleurisy later in life, afflictions crop up regularly. Eventually Brigid is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Not surprisingly therefore, Brigid develops a keen interest in healing, and over the years shows a breath-taking enthusiasm and determination to study, practice and even commercialize her skills, as she explains herself: “colour healing, crystal and electro-crystal healing, reflexology, aromatherapy, nutritional medicine, counselling skills, spiritual healing, radionics, space clearing and the ancient art of Feng shui. I reckon I had attained the equivalent of a master’s degree in natural medicines!”

She establishes the Scottish School of Holistic Healing, followed closely by Healthworks, a healing centre and shop in the middle of the Scottish town of Stirling.

The final thread is travel, which for the most time she undertakes solo. In many of these places, such as Malta, Morocco, Bali, India and Lourdes, Brigid seeks out and learns from local healing practices, which she then implements back home.

Watching the Daisies is well-written, informative, entertaining in parts, harrowing in others. At the end of each chapter Brigid gives a quick summary of insights learned, and at the end of the book she gives her top ten tips for self-healing. In other words, the book is extremely practical.

Finally, we find Brigid beginning to cut back on some of her many activities to take life a little slower (hence the title). However, as she was told once by a numerologist that “the best years of your life will come later, probably in your sixties,” I suspect that Brigid won’t be letting the daisies grow too long!
 

Read the rest of the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-Daisies-Life-Lessons-Importance-ebook/dp/B01N3M9VJ0

and more reviews at Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Brigid-P-Gallagher/e/B01N8UCYYD

About Brigid P. Gallagher

Brigid P. Gallagher aspired to becoming a doctor but God had other plans!

Instead, she spent thirteen years in the life assurance industry, including Actuarial and Life Underwriting departments, before following her heart and training as a Natural Medicines therapist.

Brigid trained in colour and crystal healing, aromatherapy, reflexology, nutritional medicine, flower essences, electro – crystal healing, radionics and E.F.T. or Emotional Freedom Technique.

She practised and taught Natural Medicines for 20 years, teaching at Stirling University’s Open Studies and Summer Schools from 1993 to 1999, setting up the Scottish School of Holistic Healing plus a therapy centre and shop in Stirling, Scotland.

In 1999, she relocated to Donegal, Ireland the home of her ancestors. Four years later, she succumbed to a mystery illness which was eventually diagnosed as fibromyalgia and possible rheumatoid arthritis.

Stopping the World for 2 years, forced Brigid to reassess her life, and thus she began retraining in Organic Horticulture. She taught this subject in schools part time until early 2016.

Her garden was featured in the Donegal Garden Trail in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Brigid continues her lifelong passion for gardening, singing and writing in her new life of SLOW.

Connect to Brigid

Blog: https://watchingthedaisies.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brigid.gallagher.90
Twitter: https://twitter.com/watchingthedai1

I love Pavlova but always timid about tackling meringue… however with this step by step guide I am emboldened… watch this space. Thanks to Brigid and I hope you will enjoy making and sharing the results too.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves for Christmas – Having a Ball and Other Stories by Lynn Otty


Delighted to welcome Lynn Otty to the Cafe and Bookstore with her debut release.  Having a Ball & Other Stories.

About Having a Ball & Other Stories.

Having a Ball is a collection of seventeen short stories that deal in varying ways with the human condition. Lynn Otty’s characters range from children at the beginning of life’s adventures through to adulthood and the frustrations of old age. Their situations will amuse, sometimes shock but always entertain the reader. This is her debut collection.

Lynn is sharing an extract from one of her stories.

Sunrise in Chiran

Corporal Masahiro Nakamura stepped out into the dawn garden and inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with fresh mountain air. Was he ready?

He looked down at the paper still clutched in his right hand and reread the words, crafted by an artistic hand in traditional calligraphy.

In blossom today, then scattered:
Life is so like a delicate flower.
How can one expect the fragrance
To last forever?

Masahiro took a deep breath. The words of the poem had already burned themselves into his memory. Admiral Onishi had written those words for the men of the Special Attack Mission – the Pilots of the Divine Wind. Takijiro Onishi had written those words for him.

He recalled the afternoon last November when their base commander assembled his squadron and unveiled the latest plan from military headquarters. It had been decided, he explained, that the most efficient method of inflicting devastation upon enemies of the homeland would be to attack them from the sky. The forces had a number of aircraft that were expendable because of their age and condition. One person would fly each plane containing enough fuel for a one-way trip, destroy the given target and cripple the American fleet.

The General told his men to close their eyes and, when the question was put to them, to raise their hand in silence if they were willing to take part. Each pilot knew what was being asked of him. They had all been so excited and proud when they discovered that they had, to a man, become volunteers.

But now, as the time approached, it didn’t seem such a clear cut decision.

**************************

And here are brief introductions to three of the other stories in the book.

The Power – A young girl who believes she has the power to bring people back from the dead decides to try that power out on a corpse in her father’s funeral home.

Blackcurrants – A monologue by an old woman who lives an itinerant life in Latvia after the fall of communism.

Under the Locust Tree – The final moments of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln’s.

Here is the link to buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Having-Ball-other-stories-Lynn-ebook/dp/B077FBDDKW

and at Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Having-Ball-Other-Stories-Lynn/dp/197810801X/

About Lynn Otty

Lynn is a writer of poetry and short stories who, although born and raised running wild on the Canadian prairies, has now spent over half her life living in southwest Scotland. She is married to a Scot and has been instrumental in raising three “Doonhamers”. Accused by some of being a dreamer, she enjoys observing people and places. She writes about life and nature, drawing her inspiration from the country where she grew up, walks in the country and the magic and wonder of foreign travel. First first venture into the world of publishing was when she produced a handmade book of her poetry called Window Dreaming. Having a Ball & other stories is her debut collection of short stories.

Connect to Lynn

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lynn-Otty/e/B077BHNB45
Blog: https://prairie796.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/OttyLynnwriter

Many thanks for dropping in today and if you are an author you will know how exciting but also overwhelming it is to put your first baby out there. Please help share Lynn’s debut short story collection.. personally I think the stories look very interesting. Thanks Sally

If you have a new book coming out for Christmas… let me know so I can do a promotion. Email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Kentucky Days Part Two – Lost River Cave by Kevin Cooper


My thanks to Kevin Cooper for sharing his time living in Kentucky and in part two we explore a cave with an interesting history.

Lost River Cave by Kevin Cooper

One of the many trips I had while in the US was to Lost River Cave. Lost River Cave is located on Nashville Road, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Now when I visited it in the mid to late 80’s. It was a ruins. See the pictures. I climbed down somewhat, but couldn’t do much at the time as I had my suit on. (It wasn’t a planned trip)

It is actually a seven mile cave system. It has always been a rich fresh water and food source throughout its history. Even in the American civil war it was used as a camping site (and escape point) for both confederate and union soldiers. Some time later, in 1943 onwards it was used for river dances. However, by the 1980’s it had become a neglected ruin and more of a dumping site than a historical site. This was around the time I came to live in Bowling Green.

I’m happy to say that thanks to Western Kentucky University and The Friends of lost river it has been restored and now offers a two-part tour. The first part is a walking tour through the caves and the rest is on the boats in the river. It is also used as an educational tour for schools. I hope to return someday so I can enjoy the benefits of this wonderfully restored place.

You can find out more about this historic location here: https://lostrivercave.wordpress.com/

As you can see from this photograph the cave is very different today from the 1980s and you can explore in comfort.

 

” Plan to spend about 45 minutes to an hour on this two-part tour.

The Cave Boat Tour begins with a leisurely stroll in the valley as your guide shares the tale of the blue hole and disappearing Civil War soldiers.

When you arrive at the massive cave entrance, prepare to board Kentucky’s only underground boat tour. Duck your head for just a moment as you glide under the famous wishing rock. Touch the cool limestone ceiling before the passage opens into a cathedral-like cavern. Sturdy shoes recommended. No dogs allowed on tours.

We encourage you to purchase your tickets online in advance, but it is not required, walk ins are welcome”

Image and more information: http://lostrivercave.org/cave-tours/

©Kevin Cooper 2015

My thanks to Kevin for sharing this post on his life in Kentucky and I hope you will head over to his blogs and follow his more current postings.

About Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, England in 1963

He moved to the USA in 1985 when he was 21 years old. He graduated with a BA in Psychology from Asbury College in Kentucky with recognition on the Dean’s List. He continued his studies at the Grand Canyon University in Arizona, where he obtained a Research Fellowship and graduated with a M.Ed with a strong focus on writing and grammar.

While in America, Kevin has been a College Lecturer of General Studies, a Manager for The Hertz Corporation, who acknowledged him with awards of recognition for his service and dedication to the company, a Substitute Teacher, and a Private Tutor.
He now resides in England and is an established Author of several works.

Kevin founded Kev’s Author Interviews and Author of the Month to help promote fellow authors worldwide through his website and across the social media networks.
He recently re-branded his website to Kev’s Great Indie Authors with added features for authors including an editing service and book reviews. He is always developing his services as he comes across new ways to help promote indie authors.

A selection of books by Kevin Cooper

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About Miedo 2: A Reckoning With Fear.

Miedo’s story continues in this chilling sequel to Meido: Living Beyond Childhood Fear. As Miedo comes into young adulthood, he is confronted with new demons while he searches for answers to his past through Spiritualism. But, rather than finding answers, he is left with more questions as a plethora of paranormal experiences occur in his life once again…

One of the recent reviews for the book

I enjoyed Cooper’s first memoir, Miedo: Living Beyond Childhood Fear, and when I finally picked up this sequel, I liked it even more than the first. It continues the story of Cooper’s early life through his teens, including his struggle to find his place in the world, understand the role of faith in his life, and control the demons that continue to plague him.

Told in the 3rd person, the memoir reads like a story, and Miedo is a highly sympathetic character. I related to his feelings of displacement, and the rambling style of Cooper’s narration perfectly reflects that time of life when young adults are stumbling about and trying to define who they are. In some ways, the narrative reminds me of Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) as it picks up on the day to day seemingly insignificant events that make up a life. People and jobs, plans and friends come and go like water through Miedo’s fingers. His sense of belonging never seems to have a strong anchor though there are some relationships that he relies on.

Cooper does an excellent job of telling his story in Miedo’s authentic “voice,” reflecting his age and education at the time events unfold. The narrative also happens in the moment. In other words, this is not a memoir that the authors relates with the benefit of hindsight, but one that unfolds for the reader as it happens.

Miedo 2: A Reckoning with Fear isn’t a long read. Cooper’s style is unique and his story is addicting. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs and stories about the struggle to overcome difficult childhoods. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Miedo-2-Reckoning-Kevin-Cooper-ebook/dp/B00SC35UG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Miedo-2-Reckoning-Kevin-Cooper-ebook/dp/B00SC35UG

Read more reviews and follow Kevin on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/460158.Kevin_Cooper

Connect with Kevin

Author page Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kevin-Cooper/e/B00EWFEYKQ
Author page Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Cooper/e/B00EWFEYKQ
Website: https://lovelifetearsnlaughter.wordpress.com/about/
Blog:https://kcbooksandmusic.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevcooper63
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrtIndieAuthors
Google: https://plus.google.com/+KevinCooper/posts

Thank you for popping in today and I am sure that Kevin would love your feedback.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Judith Barrow, Shehanne Moore, Judy Penz Sheluk and Marcia Meara.


Thank you for dropping in to the last Christmas Bookstore of the week. Another five authors with terrific books that would make wonderful gifts.

The first author is Judith Barrow with more reviews for her latest book A Hundred Tiny Threads, a book that I enjoyed and reviewed a few weeks ago. Definitely a gift for someone who loves family dramas.

About A Hundred Tiny Threads

It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.

The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife.

Meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down. But Honora and Conal disappear, after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, and abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home.

The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns his dream is still of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is the first book I have read by Judith Barrow and it certainly won’t be the last! A superbly written novel set in 1911 and during the First World War. Winifred Duffy is disillusioned with her mundane job and domineering mother and wants to become involved in the Suffrage Movement. She is persuaded by her Irish friend Honora to go to a meeting and is determined to play her part in trying to get women the vote. Winifred is introduced to Honora’s brother and falls in love for the first time in her life. Can it last?

Bill Howarth works in the mines and has a serious accident which leaves him out of work and disgruntled. He worships Winifred from afar and is determined to be with her. However, things take a turn for the worse and then Bill is drafted into the war. When he comes out, he is battled scarred and weary, but still his needs for Winifred are undiminished.

How will the story unfold? Will it end in tears or happiness for our three main characters?

An excellent read from start to finish, great narrative and Judith Barrow is an author to be commended.

Head over read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

and at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Tiny-Threads-Judith-Barrow-ebook/dp/B073W1LTSR

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Read more reviews and follow Judith on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

Connect to Judith via her blog: judithbarrowblog.com/

The next author with a shelf full of books that would make any historical romance lover happy is Shehanne Moore. Here is Splendor ( London Jewel Thieves Book Two) which was published in May this year.

About Splendor

The only thing he hates more than losing at chess is marriage…

For Splendor, former servant to London’s premiere jewel thieves, pretending to be someone else is all in a day’s work. So when she learns of a chess tournament—a men’s chess tournament—with a ten thousand pound prize, pretending to be a man is the obvious move. The money will be enough to set her fiancé up in his own business so they can finally marry, and more importantly, it’ll pay off her bills and keep her out of debtor’s prison. But she doesn’t plan on her opponent, the rakish Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, being a sore loser—and a drunken one, at that. But before she can collect her prize, she finds herself facing the most merciless man in London across a pair of dueling pistols at dawn. Chess may be Splendor’s game, but she’s never fired a pistol before. And dressed as a man with ill-fitting shoes on the slippery grass and borrowed glasses that make it hard to see, she’s certain she’s finally tipped her own king.

Bitter divorcee Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, is the ton’s most ruthless heartbreaker. And he’s got three pet peeves: kitchen maids, marriage…and losing. So when he realizes the “man” opposite him has entered the chess tournament under false pretenses, he’s in the perfect position to extort the little chit. But that’s before the exasperating woman begins to slip beneath his skin, and soon all he can think about is slipping beneath her skirts. But the confounded woman is engaged to someone else, and worse—she’s nothing but a former kitchen maid, just like the one that lured his father into the marriage that ruined the family name. And his ex-wife taught him more than he cared to know about why marriage was the worst kind of checkmate of all…

One of the reviews for the book

I loved every delicious page of this book. The story of Splendor’s tempestuous rise from skivvy to become the wife of the gorgeously glowering Kendall Winterborne, third Earl of Stillmore, is an enthralling read. Exhilarating, witty and wicked, as well as wonderfully original. Ms Moore has a voice like no other and it is as irresistible as chocolate brownies. I gobbled it up. This is Georgian England, so of course there is a rollicking duel, class warfare and subjugation of women, but no one is going to get the better of the brilliantly ballsy Splendor, whether it’s at chess, at disguise or at love. Yet underneath all the abundant fun and crazy cross dressing there runs a powerful and serious comment on what women have had to face throughout history.

In Splendor Ms Moore has created a cracking champion for the female of the species, infinitely more deadly than the male. She comes out fists swinging, but the vulnerability that she is so determined to keep hidden from view is immensely touching. And the finale will capture your heart. Shehanne Moore can spin a tale that is a romance like no other. Savour it.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Splendor-London-Jewel-Thieves-Book-ebook/dp/B071S9W9W

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Splendor-London-Jewel-Thieves-Book-ebook/dp/B071S9W9WN

Also by Shehanne Moore

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Shehanne-Moore/e/B00CMBK7BW/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shehanne-Moore/e/B00CMBK7BW

Read more reviews and follow Shehanne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7029905.Shehanne_Moore

Connect to Shehanne via her blog: https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

The next author is Judy Penz Sheluk and her novel Skeletons in the Attic – A Marketville Mystery which is now available in audio for those who love to listen to their books as well as read them.

Judy has some FREE codes for the audio book as she would like obtain more reviews for the book. If you are interested please connect to Judy via her website listed below.

51wcykazzl-_uy250_About the book

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

One of the reviews for the book

The characters spring to life with their words and actions. Hints and clues are woven throughout the story and kept me guessing as the mystery unfolded. First of all the main character is named Calamity Barnstable and with a name like that you know it is going to be unique and interesting. Calamity goes by Callie Barnstable and inherits a house from her father that she never even knew existed. She is stunned when her father’s lawyer gives her the keys and a nice budget to work with as well as a thirty-year-old mystery to solve.

This story had so much going on that you could feel the frustration of this woman that had been tossed into a mystery that took place when she was six years old. A missing mother, a psychic, a nosy neighbor and other completely colorful cast of characters makes this book such an enjoyable read. Each chapter brought new suspects and helpful hints to light.

I almost gave it a 4.5 heart rating because of the hurried ending, but I enjoyed the book so much I stayed with the five.

Read the  reviews for the book and buy in print and audio: https://www.amazon.com/Skeletons-Attic-Marketville-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01IQ0N3X6

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Skeletons-Attic-1-Marketville-Mystery/dp/1772232645

Also by Judy Penz Sheluk

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Read the reviews and buy all the books: http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/e/B00O74NX04/

Read more reviews and follow Judy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8602696.Judy_Penz_Sheluk

61kxh8dcqrl-_uy250_Connect to Judy via her Blog: http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/

Our next author who has a series that would make fantasy readers very happy is Marcia Meara and here is her most recent release, The Emissary – A Riverbend Spinoff Novella which follows the story of a previous character in the series.

About The Emissary

Was Gabe Angelino, the mysterious truck driver in Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2, really an angel, as Willow Green believes? Or was he simply a good man, determined to help a stranger in need? Find out, as author Marcia Meara reveals the truth in the first Riverbend spinoff novella, The Emissary.

An angel’s work is never done—that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.

The archangel Azrael has had enough. He believes he’s found a way to ease their burden while saving jeopardized humans, too—hired help.

When Jake Daughtry lost his life rescuing a total stranger from certain death, he was on the fast track to Heaven. But that was before Azrael pulled him right out of line at the Pearly Gates. Now, as an Emissary to the Angels, Jake is taking to the highway in a quest to help souls in trouble. But the innate stubbornness of human beings bent on self-destruction is a challenge unlike any he’s ever faced.

It’s up to Jake and Azrael to bridge the gap between humans and angels. Will they ever convince the Council of Angels this endeavor is worthwhile? Can Jake figure out how to play by Azrael’s complicated rules? Will Azrael ever master the use of contractions in general conversation?

To find out the answers, hop on board Jake’s big red-and-white semi and travel the roads from the Florida Keys to north Georgia on an adventure that will make you laugh hard and cry even harder.

One of the recent reviews for the book

As a spinoff, I wouldn’t recommend reading this before the Riverbend books, unless you don’t mind plot spoilers. If you read Finding Hunter, and wondered what was up with the mysterious Gabe Angelino, this book will answer all your questions.

This is a perfect read for this time of year–cozy, magical, and even set in winter. Jake Daughtry, AKA Gabe Angelino, died–and then the angel Azrael put him to work helping lost souls. There’s liable to be some issues along the way–angels aren’t the cuddliest of people, and Jake has a bit of a sense of humor–but there’s also going to be wonder, and hope, and examples of humanity’s best and worst.

At 105 pages, this story packs a lot into a short amount of time, making it a great read for a busy season, without the story being rushed. It wraps up satisfactorily at the end, but leaves more room for the next adventure. And in between–is a sweet story, full of faith without hitting too heavily on dogma, willing to have a little fun with the idea of angels, and the emissaries they might need to get their jobs done.

The relationships between the characters grow pretty quickly like any novella, but are engaging for all that. There’s not as much space for lovely descriptions of the landscape, but there are song titles and funny place settings at the chapter headings, such as “close to here but not far from there.” It’s a story of journeys, physical and spiritual, and always in motion. No matter the tragedies that form obstacles along the way, you know that there will be a happy ending coming, because this is that kind of book–the sort that wraps you like a warm blanket. A great read for fans of Marcia’s work, and fans of cozy mysteries with a bit of the supernatural.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Emissary-Riverbend-Spinoff-Novella-ebook/dp/B075Y2T3CL

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emissary-Riverbend-Spinoff-Novella-ebook/dp/B075Y2T3C

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Marcia-Meara/e/B00EUCXRU4

And Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marcia-Meara/e/B00EUCXRU4

Read more reviews and follow Marcia Meara on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7242441.Marcia_Meara

Connect to Marcia via her website: http://marciamearawrites.com/

I am sure there will be a book or two that you might add to your TBR for your own reading pleasure or might buy as a gift for somebody else. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Priceless Treasures by Jacquie Biggar


Delighted to share a post from the Christmas archives of Jacquie Biggar. In this post Jacquie shares some homemade treasures that hold a special place in her heart.

Priceless Treasures by Jacquie Biggar.

Do you have homemade crafts passed down from generation to generation that you can’t bear to part with?

I’m probably one of the least sentimental people you’re likely to meet, but there are some items from my childhood that I coveted. Special bowls and vases tucked away in glass cabinets so sticky little fingers couldn’t break them.

My mom had an English cottage set; cookie jar, creamer/sugar, egg cups, and tea pot. I used to make up stories of imaginary people living in that village. 🙂

Another cool thing she had was a little hollowed out shell, smaller than a fingernail, with a carved ivory queen head for a stopper. Inside was an amazing menagerie of African animals in ivory; giraffe, lion, zebra, monkey, eight in all.

Along with these beautiful collectibles, my mom and grandma were busy crafters; crocheted doilies and tablecloths, handmade quilts, paper toile pictures, and eggery.

Eggery? you say. Eggery is the fine art of decorating hollowed eggs inside and out. The most famous, of course, being Fabergé, but I think my mom did pretty good work herself.

I guess with all the commercialism of the holidays it’s made me think about the things I’ve found have everlasting value. There is no price on memories.  Happy holidays,

A lovely post from Jacquie and like me I am sure that you have some precious items that you keep because of the love that went into making them.. Please share yours in the comments.

©Jacquie Biggar

About Jacquie Biggar

JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.

And in her own words

My name is Jacquie Biggar and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of one, grandmother, and a total sucker for my dog and cat.
I’m also a hopeless romantic. I am the biggest The Voice fan ever, and can be found every Monday night with my nose plastered to the television laughing at Blake and Adam’s shenanigans. I enjoy going to my grandson’s hockey and lacrosse games, hanging at the beach with DH (darling hubby), taking pictures, and reading romance novels.
I have a slight Tim Hortons obsession.

I love gardening. I love the color pink… and did I mention I love my husband?

I thought I would feature one of Jacquie’s Christmas stories today.

About Silver Bells

Will a Christmas wish give a lonely author a family? A heartwarming, passionate story of true love.

Mystery writer, Joel Carpenter, has no time for romance. He has a deadline to meet, and too many skeletons in his closet to trust the slightly spinny artist renting his house.

Christy Taylor has her hands full dealing with an ailing business and a diabetic daughter, she doesn’t need the temptation that is her landlord, Joel Carpenter.

Can a Christmas wish bring two stubborn souls together and give a little girl the gift she wants most? A delightful mixture of women’s fiction, chick-lit, and romantic comedy, Silver Bells has something for every reader.

One of the excellent reviews for the book

SILVER BELLS: A Holiday Romance by Jacquie Biggar is a holiday novella that was sweet and easily read in one sitting curled up on the couch while the weather outside is frightful.
Joel Campbell, award winning mystery writer, has moved from Scotland to Vancover Island. He wants to be closer to his grandmother and hopes the change will get him over his writers’ block. Hating his fame, he has walled off his heart, become gruff and hates anyone interrupting him and yet, he is lonely.

Christy Taylor is an artist who has started her own shop attached to her rented home. Her life cannot be more hectic. She is attempting to grow her clientele, while caring for her small daughter, Jill, who has been diagnosed with Type 1, Juvenile diabetes. Christy is a great mother, but her divorce and her exes attitude toward their daughter has made her distrustful of any help from any man.

These two need to open up their hearts and learn to trust again before it is too late.
This novella is an enjoyable and quick read. I loved the characters in this short read, but being short, I felt some of the character development was lost. Jill was adorable and her disease was handle extremely well. I also feel this novella was not really a Christmas story, just a winter setting. That said, still a good heartfelt novella for a cold winter day.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Bells-Holiday-Augustus-Mystery-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01N58D23M

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Bells-Holiday-Augustus-Mystery-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01N58D23M/

A selection of of other books by Jacquie Biggar

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

And at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG/

Read more reviews and follow Jacquie Biggar on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445812.Jacquie_Biggar

Connect to Jacquie

Website: http://jacqbiggar.com
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar,
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar

If you would like to share a Christmas Post from your archives, all the information you need in in this post.. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Have Yourself a Merry Little Writer’s Block by Paul Andruss


Can you believe that it is a year since Paul Andruss entered out lives and took up residence here on a weekly basis. Over that year we have enjoyed learning about some of the most legendary figures and events in our history. Always deeply researched and delivered with panache.. with details that only those present at the time could have known. Paul is the master of deconstructing a myth or legend we have heard hundreds of times and the reconstructing in a completely understandable and believable way.  You can find all these wondrous articles in his directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

This was the story that Paul sent in last year for the Christmas blog promotion and here it is again but with a slightly different ending.. because Santa did leave a story and next Friday and Saturday you get to read it.. The Three Sisters…… and you will enjoy which is a promise not an order!  Anyway here is Paul’s archive post.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Writer’s Block – Paul Andruss

T’was the night before Christmas… Oh, please!

But it is the night before Christmas. And all through my head, nothing is stirring, not a single idea.

Dear Lord, if you’re listening, send a Christmas miracle.

Or should that be dear Santa?

Hallelujah, that’s it!

No, it’s just the plot for ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. I wouldn’t mind but there’s no way I’d pass for

Jimmy Stewart, even with the lights off… more’s the pity!

So, what can I say? How did I get into this mess?

Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start.

Good grief! The Sound of Music now is it? Just because it’s on every Christmas doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas film. Get a grip!

Although I have been writing for a while, I am quite new to the Bloggers-fear. (Is that the right word? Remind me to look it up.) After years of hiding the light firmly under a bushel, I needed to get out there and promote my work. Imagine my delight when I saw an invitation from Smorgasbord- Variety is the Spice to write a Christmas story.

I was hesitant. I admit. But Sally’s blog, felt like the sort of warm, safe place to dip my toe. And I mean, everyone’s written Christmas stories: Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, Hans Christian Anderson ‘The Little Match Girl’. How hard can it be?

From Doctor Who to the Crankies, there is not a TV show that doesn’t do Christmas Specials. Even the muppets managed the Christmas Story. And heaven knows I’ve been called a muppet often enough.

But what to go for? There’s the rub. Should it be something to tug the heartstrings; full of noble sentiment and the spirit of Christmas? Or something to make you laugh out loud? How about a bit of both?

Start with something like ‘A Dog is not just for Christmas.’

Then hit ‘em with the old one two… ‘If you’re careful there might be enough left over for Boxing Day!’

Hmmm, don’t think so. That might have made me roar with laughter at thirteen, but if my kids read it they’d never speak to me again. And neither would the puppy.

So it was off to the attic to leaf through my old pile of People’s Friend. Oh no, I mean Mum’s old pile. She loves that magazine. When they moved she asked if I’d store them. I guess she forgot to pick them up. To be honest I’d forgotten myself! Yes. No. Really I did. So let’s just leave it there, shall we?

Anyway, that was about 16th November, which then turned into 17th, 18th and 19th, and before I knew it… T’was the night before Christmas…

For heaven’s sake! Not this again!

I admit Sally was great about it. She was a scholar and a gentleman; if you can say that about a lady. I wrote copious emails explaining my predicament, begging for a bit more time. We ended up corresponding so regularly she now feels obliged to send me Christmas cards.
(PS. Thanks for the card Sally…. Did you get mine? It’s in the post!)

So as I started saying…

T’was the night before Christmas…

Well actually, it’s not the night before Christmas anymore. It stopped being the night before Christmas about two and a half hours ago. Who am I kidding? It’s Christmas! It’s over. Like every unstirring creature in the house, even the mouse, I should be abed.

YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS!

I had not been in bed fifteen minutes (tossing and turning; racking my brains for a Christmas story to win the hearts and minds of… yeah, you get the picture) when I heard a noise downstairs.

First I thought it was the kids; like you do. But though my little darlings got every present imaginable this year, I had no recollection of buying hob-nailed boots.

Bugger! I thought. It’s gotta be burglars; an’ on bloody Christmas an’ all.

I hunted round the bedroom in the dark, terrified to wake the missus, or kids next door, or puppy sleeping with the kids next door. I wished for a baseball bat or some other blunt instrument; knowing you’re on a total loser trying to defend yourself with a slipper. My heart raced. Mouth bone dry. I wished I was a braver man.

Taking my courage in both hands. Actually, courage in one hand; slipper in the other, I crept downstairs; hitting the one that creaks. Why does one always creak?

For a lifetime I stood outside the living room, straining to hear past my thumping heart. It was now or never. I flung open the door, snapped on the light. I was desperate to think of something butch and intimidating; wondering how to handle the whole fiasco; wondering if I’d survive it.

What did daddy get for Christmas, kids?

A&E.

What’s that?

It’s not a parlour game.

Well, knock me down with a lead pipe (in the library, Colonel Mustard). The room was empty!

All I saw was crumpled tinfoil on a plate that once held a mince pie and an empty glass. Hang on; guilty as charged. To be honest I’m not proud of myself drinking sherry at that hour, but you know, I only did it for the kids.

Then, my eyes fell on sooty footprints leading to and from the chimney.

It couldn’t be.

But it had to be.

But, it couldn’t be.

But, it was.

How fat old Santa got past the wood burner, I’ll never know.

On the mantelpiece was a scroll, wrapped in red ribbon, tied in a bow. I saw my name written in elegant copperplate handwriting. Tell you what; Santa must have gone to one hell of a good school!

With shaking hands I pawed the bow until it fell open. Swallowing hard, I unrolled the scroll. It read…

‘Jenny isn’t it?’

Jenny spun round, staring blankly at the tiny old woman wrapped up against the cold.

I laughed! I wept! It was brilliant. My Christmas miracle!

©Paul Andruss 2016

About Paul Andruss.

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

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

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

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

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

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

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

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Paul would love your feedback and please join us next Friday and Saturday for parts One and Two of the story that Santa left.. The Three Sisters……Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Christmas Archives – Christmas; Past and Present by Micki Peluso


Micki Peluso joins us today with her post on the comparison of the Christmases of today as compared with the past. The Spirit remains the same across the thousands of years of pagan and christian celebrations, with other religions observing the spirit of the celebration as one of family and friendship.

Christmas; Past and Present

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Mall, last minute shoppers scurried from store to store; short on patience and with little evidence of the holiday spirit of love. The only ones smiling were the store owners and the costumed Santa, who gets paid to be jolly.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of talking dolls, video games, bicycles and other expensive toys, danced in their heads. Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down to tackle the mountain of Christmas bills, which was larger than the national debt.

The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow, reflected the concern of families awaiting the arrival of loved ones traveling on icy roads .Years ago, Christmas seemed easier, less commercial and more enjoyable. Many families lived near each other, and most of the decorations, foodstuffs and presents were homemade. While there was stress and haste to accomplish the needed tasks by Christmas Eve, the stress was different than what is experienced today.

Generations past did not seem to lose sight of the reason for Christmas; a birthday celebration of sharing and love.

The nostalgia of horse-drawn sleigh rides through wooded country roads is sorely missed. Bells jingling accompaniment to carols sung off key by bundled-up children in the back of the sleigh, is a thing of the past. Yet Christmas retains an aura of magic, nonetheless.

Originally, the Christian church did not acknowledge Christmas at all, as such observance was considered a heathen rite. The earliest records of any Christmas celebration dates back to the early part of the third century.Gift giving, as a custom, may have originated with the Romans, relating to their worship of Dionysus at Delphi.

The Christmas tree comes from the Germans, although its origin has been traced as far back as ancient Egypt. The tree replaces a former customary pyramid of candles, part of the pagan festivals. There is a legend that Martin Luther brought an evergreen home to his children and decorated it for Christmas. German immigrants carried this custom with them to the New World, but it did not gain popularity until 1860, when John C. Bushmann, a German, decorated a tree in Massachusetts and invited people to see it.

Evergreens, a symbol of survival, date to the 18th century when St. Boniface, honoring the Christianization of Germany, dedicated a fir tree to the Holy Child to replace the sacred oak of Odin.

The “Nation’s Christmas Tree,” was the General Grant tree in General Grant National Park in California, dedicated May 1, 1926,by the town mayor. The tree was 267 feet high and 3500-4000 years old.

Mistletoe, burned on the alter of the Druid gods, was regarded as a symbol of love and peace. The Celtic custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from the practice of enemies meeting under the plant, dropping their weapons and embracing in peace. Some parts of England decorated with mistletoe and holly, but other parts banned its use due to association with Druid rites. Mistletoe was considered a cure for sterility, a remedy for poisons, and kissing under it would surely lead to marriage.

The 4th century German St. Nicholas, shortened through the years to Santa Claus, has become the epitome of today’s Christmas spirit. St. Nicholas, taking pity upon three young maidens with no dowry and no hope, tossed a bag of gold through each of their windows, and granted them a future. Other anonymous gifts being credited to him were emulated and the tradition grew. The Norsemen enhanced the legend of Santa Claus coming down the chimney with their goddess, Hertha, known to appear in fireplaces, bringing happiness and good luck.

Sir Henry Cole, impressed by a lithograph drawing, made by J.C. Horsley, instigated the idea of Christmas cards. It took eighteen years for the custom to gain popularity, and then it was adopted mainly by gentry. Christmas was banned in England in 1644, during the Puritan ascendancy. A law was passed ordering December 25th a market day and shops were forced to open. Even the making of plum pudding and mincemeat pies was forbidden. This law was repealed after the Restoration, but the Dissenters still referred to Yuletide as “Fooltide.”

The General Court of Massachusetts passed a law in 1657 making the celebration of Christmas a penal offense. This law, too, was repealed, but many years would pass before New England celebrated Christmas.

When Washington crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War, it was the observance of Christmas that made his conquest of the British a success. The enemy was sleeping off the affects of the celebration.

Befana, or Epiphany, is the Italian female counterpart of Santa Claus. On Epiphany, or Twelth Night, she is said to fill children’s stockings with presents. According to legend, Befana was too busy to see the Wise Men during their visit to the Christ Child, saying that she would see them on their way back to the East. The Magi, however, chose a different route home, and now Befana must search for them throughout eternity. The sacred song traditionally sung on her yearly visit is the Befanata.

The number of Magi visiting the stable on that first Christmas Eve could be anywhere from two to twenty. The number three was chosen because of the three gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Western tradition calls the Magi, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, but they have different names and numbers in different parts of the world.

Though distinctly Christian, the social aspect of Christmas is observed and enjoyed by many religious and ethnic groups. Rabbi Eichler, during a sermon in Boston in 1910 explains why: “…Christmas has a double aspect, a social and theological side. The Jew can and does heartily join in the social Christmas. Gladly, does he contribute to the spirit of good will and peace, characteristic of the season. It was from the light of Israel’s sanctuary that Christianity lit its torch. The Hanukkah lights, therefore, justly typify civilization and universal religion.”

Dr. Clement Clarke Moore, a professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York, penned the famous poem, “Twas the Night before Christmas.” Dr.Moore never intended for the poem to be published. Miss Harriet Butler, daughter of the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Troy, New York, accompanied her father on a visit to Dr. Moore. She asked for a copy of the poem and sent it anonymously to the editor of The Troy Sentinel. A copy of the newspaper carrying his poem was sent to Dr. Moore, who was greatly annoyed that something he composed for the amusement of his children should be printed. It was not until eight years later, that Dr. Moore publicly admitted that he wrote the poem.

Christmas is the favorite Holiday of children, who unquestionably accept the myth of Santa Claus. In 1897, one little girl began to have doubts as to the reality of Santa Claus, and wrote to the New York Sun, asking for confirmation. Her letter read: Dear editor, I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says,”If you see it in The Sun, it’s so. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?” Virginia D’Hanlon.

Francis P. Church’s editorial answer to the little girl became almost as famous as Dr. Moore’s poem. In part, this is what he wrote: Virginia, your little friends are so wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe, except they see… Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exists….Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as if there were no Virginia’s…No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

It is sentiments like this that warm the heart of child and adult alike, as Christmas nears. It is not the gifts, soon forgotten, that make Christmas a time of wonder and magic. It is the love within all people for God, for children, for each other. During this hectic holiday season, take a moment or two to savor the true meaning of Christmas.

And I heard him exclaim
As he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all,
And to all a Goodnight!”
Dr. Clement Clarke Moore

©Micki Peluso 2016

My thanks to Micki for sharing this interesting and wonderful post about Christmas.

About Micki Peluso

I have written since I learned to hold a pencil. But life interfered with serious writing until a tragedy struck my family. This time I took up the pen and wrote as a catharsis to my grief–where spoken words failed, written words helped heal my wounded soul.

My first short story of the incident was published in Victimology:an International Journal, launching a career in journalism. When writing for newspapers there were no more rejections, a nice surprise. I became a staff freelance writer for a bi-weekly award winning newspaper and freelance slice of life writer for my local paper, serving a city of 600,000 people. The diversity of writing for newspapers let me experiment in many areas of writing from essays, commentaries, interviews, humor, pathos, analogy, and short fiction.

I have recently published my first non-fiction book, . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, dedicated to the one I lost. Published by LspDigital, it is a funny, poignant celebration of life rather than a eulogy of death. My newly released children’s book, ‘The Cat Who Wanted a Dog’ is a coloring and illustrated book for ages from 4-9 years old.

Books by Micki Peluso

One of the reviews for Micki’s memoir And The Whippoorwill Sang on Goodreads

May 24, 2017 Mae Clair rated it Five Stars in May 2017

This is an exceptional story, providing a glimpse of the author’s life with her family. I don’t read many memoirs, but I found And the Whippoorwill Sang extremely hard to put down. The style is engaging and the sequence of events keeps the reader flipping pages.

From her marriage at seventeen, through the births of each of her children, several moves across country, and the ups and downs of family life and marriage, Micki Peluso tells her story candidly. Throughout, the reader knows of the coming tragedy that claims the life of one of Micki’s daughters, heartbreak that makes it bittersweet reading about Noelle and her close-knit family.

I’m sure writing this story was difficult. I was emotional reading the tale so I can only imagine how hard it had to be dredging up memories and trotting them out for the world to see. This is a superb book, and despite the inherent sadness of where the story heads, there is much joy throughout. As someone who lives in Pennsylvania, I found the sections set in that state particularly interesting. I loved reading about the “haunted farmhouse” the family lived in for many years. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to stay! I also really appreciated the conclusion of the book in which Ms. Peluso shared how each family member fared in life.

Well-written with humor, sadness and frankness in equal measure, And the Whippoorwill Sang is a powerful read.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Micki-Peluso/e/B002BLZ7JK

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Micki-Peluso/e/B002BLZ7JK

Read more reviews and follow Micki on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1156697.Micki_Peluso

Connect to Micki on social media.

Blog: http://mallie1025.blogspot.ie/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/micki.peluso
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mickipeluso

I am now looking for assorted Festive posts for December, recollections of Christmas past, family, humour, short stories, poems, recipes etc.. Have a delve through your previous December posts and if you are not planning on re-using.. pop them over to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Linda G. Hill, Teri Polen, Lyn Horner, Heather Kindt and Teagan Riordain Geneviene


Welcome to another Christmas Book Fair featuring authors from the bookstore and the books that would make wonderful gifts for all ages.  With 160 authors to feature it is time to pack the shelves.

The first author is Linda G. Hill and her book The Magician’s Curse: A Paranormal Romance – The Great Dagmaru Book 1.

About the book

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?

Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

One of the most recent reviews for the book

Modern Day Gothic on November 16, 2017

The Magician’s Curse is a modern day gothic romance. We meet Herman, who is traveling to start a new job, and Stephen, a successful magician. There is an immediate attraction between the pair, and so begins a tale of romance, intrigue, heartache, and possible danger. This is the first book I have read by Linda G. Hill, and I enjoy her style. The pace is steady, the writing flows smoothly, and the characters become people you care about. I was left wanting more, and I’m activly wishing for book two. Highly recommended.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Magicians-Curse-Paranormal-Romance-Dagmaru-ebook/dp/B0721ZH2KN

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magicians-Curse-Paranormal-Romance-Dagmaru-ebook/dp/B0721ZH2KN

Also by Linda G. Hill

Read all the reviews and buy the books:https://www.amazon.com/Linda-G.-Hill/e/B01K2LICL0

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Linda-G.-Hill/e/B01K2LICL0

Read other reviews and follow Linda on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15577348.Linda_G_Hill

Connect to Linda via her website: https://lindaghill.com

The next author I would like to feature is Teri Polen and her book Sarah which was published in December 2016.

41jwrqyo45l-_uy250_About Sarah

Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

One of the recent reviews from Goodreads

F.R. Jameson Nov 15, 2017 F.R. rated it really liked it

In the day or so since I finished reading SARAH, I’ve been trying to figure out what it does right so as to utterly grip me. After all, this is a YA novel about the ghost of a teenage girl, and the other teenagers who encounter her. Written baldly like that, most people are going to feel that it’s something they’ve seen before/read before. (Teenage girl ghosts seem to be two a penny, why aren’t there more 1890’s escape-artist ghosts?) But Polen takes something that’s in danger of tipping into hackneyed cliché, and creates a book which builds up slowly until its genuinely edge of the seat stuff.

So how does she do this? Part of it is that in the character of Sarah, our titular ghost, Polen has created a spirit – who in the first part at least – is genuinely amorphous. You’re never quite sure where you are with her and so even without overly sinister goings on, the reader is already put that little bit on edge. And that leads into the second element which really makes this book stand out, Polen is a superb writer of suspense. She understands how and when to raise the tension, to maintain it and twist the nerves that little bit more. Even the ending, which in other hands might be a rote trip to predictability, Polen still finds discordant keys to play even as us readers turn to the last page.

Just one note, the narrative does end but there’s a coming next time hint, which is normally something with the capacity to really irritate me. This one though is so clever and deliciously evil that it’s more than whet my appetite for more.

The book is in Print, Ebook and also Audible.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Teri-Polen/e/B01MYOUA6V

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Teri-Polen-ebook/dp/B01NBIFRF4

Read more reviews and follow Teri on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16114393.Teri_Polen

Connect to Teri via her Website:  https://teripolen.com/

The next author with a book for all romantics this Christmas is Beguiling Delilah: Romancing the Guardians Book Six by Lyn Horner which was published in July.

About the book

He’s a Navajo sworn to bring her to America;
She’s a sexy genius in a race with him across France

Delilah Moreau, the glamorous French Guardian, possesses a miraculous mathematical talent that provides her a privileged life, but it can’t give her what she truly wants: lasting love. Leon Tseda, a Navajo whose homeland serves as a hidden gathering place for the Guardians, vows to bring Delilah to safety, thwarting thugs sent to capture her and the valuable scroll she guards. Opening in Paris, the story whisks the pair in a life-and-death chase across France to Nice and Monte Carlo on the breathtaking Côte d’Azur.

Both Delilah and Leon have lost loved ones, and they’re no longer youngsters, but they are not too old for a second chance at love. Their journey is fraught with danger, excitement and steamy, mature romance. Will it lead to love – if they live long enough?

The series so far: There are seven Guardians, each possessing a psychic gift and a precious scroll containing a secret prophecy handed down from ancient Irish seers. Not to be revealed until mankind is ready to listen, the prophesies are in danger of being seized by vicious “Hellhounds” who want to use them for their own evil ends.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I loved this book for several reasons. The biggest reason was the characters. It was refreshing to read about characters closer to my own age rather than sweet young things in their twenties. Delilah is a mathematical genius and a business woman. Pairing her up with a rugged American Indian couldn’t have been easy. But Lyn pulled it off with flying colors. They weren’t shy about expressing their extreme differences but maturity gave them the advantage of the wisdom of how to overcome those differences and still enjoy a romantic relationship that would last a long time. But have to say, having a Leon was easy to fall for. He’s proud and protective at the same time and he knew a good woman when he saw her.

Another reason I really enjoyed the book is the French location. I’ve visited the settings in this book and it was fun to revisit them through this book as the Hell Hounds (bad guys) chase them through the French countryside to gain access to the secret scrolls Delilah protects. With each of her books in this series, Lyn takes us to a new world location and it keeps this series fresh. I recommend that fellow readers read this entire series for better understanding but I’m certain none will be disappointed. Each book gets us closer to the secrets and the big battle that is sure to happen when the Hell Hounds, descend to steal the secrets along with the power of the knowledge they contain. Can’t wait!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Beguiling-Delilah-Romancing-Guardians-Book-ebook/dp/B073XPVHSP

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beguiling-Delilah-Romancing-Guardians-Book-ebook/dp/B073XPVHSP

A selection of other books by Lyn Horner

Read the many reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y

Read more reviews and follow Lyn on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4639926.Lyn_Horner

Connect to Lyn via her website: http://lynhorner.com

And now time to catch up with Word Weaver Contest winner Heather Kindt whose debut novel Ruby Slips and Poker Chips was published a couple of weeks ago.. It is now in both eBook and print versions. It has also attracted some excellent early reviews.

About Ruby Slips and Poker Chips

Second-grade teacher Dottie Gale lives in the tiny town of Quandary, Kansas, which is pretty much smack dab in the middle of nowhere. No mountains. No ocean. No life. Her ex-boyfriend and current school board member, Corbin Lane, cheated on her, making school functions more than a little awkward. But worst of all, a tornado named Maxine Westward rips through Dottie’s school as the new principal and has made her life at work a living hell.
When Dottie is chosen to go to a teacher’s conference in Las Vegas, she knows her life is going to change.

Driving from Quandary to Vegas, three strangers enter her life. Through a string of situations involving poppies, flying monkeys, and a life-size sculpture of an iconic rock star the four soon become inseparable. So, when Westward arrives on her broom in Vegas, Dottie is ready for battle. Her boss black mails her with stories of incarceration, thievery, and a steamy relationship with her travel companion, but Dottie knows that those who hurl insults shouldn’t hold secrets of their own.

One of the early reviews for the book.

Cynthia Tatum 5.0 out of 5 stars It’s a fun read! December 2, 2017

Dottie Gale is a snappy second grade teacher in a small town in Kansas who is about to get swept up into a whirlwind cross-country road trip on the way to a teacher conference. She makes some new quirky friends on her trip and finds herself in the most bizarre of situations by no fault of her own. Add to the mix a new principal with higher aspirations than staying at a small school in Kansas and an old cheating high school boyfriend and the adventure begins!

I found this to be a fun read with many chuckles throughout as Dottie was a wise-cracking main character that kept the pace moving quickly. I enjoyed the parallels between Dottie and Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz and found the author to give just the right balance between references to the old classic and this story. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a not-so serious, yet very enjoyable, read curled up in front of a fireplace with a warm blanket and a mug of tea on a cozy evening.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Ruby-Slips-Poker-Chips-Dorothy-ebook/dp/B077Q8HWV3

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ruby-Slips-Poker-Chips-Dorothy-ebook/dp/B077Q8HWV3

Smashwords for other Ebook versions: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/hmkindt

Connect to Heather via her website at http://heatherkindt.com/

Another great read for Christmas is by Teagan Riordain Geneviene with her latest release Murder at the Bijou.

About Murder at the Bijou

Long ago I developed a writing exercise. I would ask friends to give me three completely random things. Then I would write until I had mentioned all the things. I brought that exercise to my blog, but I had the readers send me their things. I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters. That resulted in The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to this culinary mystery. However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.

As with the first serial, Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is a spontaneously written, pantser story. I let the “ingredients” readers sent each week drive every aspect of a new serial story. This is the “bookized” version of that serial.

This time the Jazz Age setting is Savannah, Georgia where our flapper, Pip is “sentenced” to live with her grandmother and learn to cook. Pip gets caught up in a layered mystery that includes bootleggers, G-men, and the varied challenges of being a young woman in changing times. She meets new friends including some animal characters.

If you have not read The Three Things Serial Story, be warned. This adventure contains a bit of a spoiler, but does not go into detail about it.

One of the reviews for the book

This is a very enjoyable murder story set in the 1920s. Pip, Granny Phanny and a whole bunch of alliterated characters populate the story of surprisingly strong suspense with equally surprising turns of events.

This is hugely enjoyable and definitely recommended to anyone with a sense of fun and humour.

I loved this book when it was published in parts on the blog and loved it even more re-reading it as a whole in one sitting. Yes, one sitting.

I only now realised just how much work had gone into the individual parts. I often forgot from one week to the next what certain references mean or what they allude to. The novel is hugely enjoyable and a fun read thanks to many quirky expressions, usage of words off the beaten track, fabulous character names and many more delicious ingredients.
The writing is very original and the story line is fun and always manages to surprise you.
That’s in part because of the randomness of the supplies ingredients, but also due to the author’s creative powers.

I’m so glad this was released as novel so I can enjoy the continuity and apprefciate just how well composed this ‘fragmented’ story actually is.

Murder at the Bijou is available in paperback and eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Bijou-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B074S5ZK7L/

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Bijou-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1974544273

Also by Teagan Riordain Geneviene.

Read the reviews, buy the books : https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Connect to Teagan via her blog: https://teagansbooks.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great to get your feedback. Thanks Sally