Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Getting To Know You with author Lucinda E. Clarke

It is my pleasure to welcome author Lucinda E. Clarke this morning for the Getting to Know You interview.  Born in Dublin but officially a citizen of the world, Lucinda has been a professonal writer for over twenty years and had also run her own production company in Africa.

Let’s find out a little more about Lucinda before finding out the questions she has responded to.

Lucinda E Clarke [not her real name] was born in Dublin, but has lived in 8 other countries to date. She wanted to write but was railroaded into teaching. She had a habit of “falling” into other careers, announcing on radio, then scriptwriting for radio and television. She has been a professional writer since 1986 winning over 20 awards for her work, including mayoral speeches, company profiles, drama documentaries, educational programmes for radio and television, adverts, news inserts, court videos, National Geographic, cookery programmes, to name but a few!

She lectured in scriptwriting, had her own column in various publications, and written for national magazines. She was commissioned for two educational books by Heinemann and Macmillan, and book reports for UNESCO and UNICEF.

She graduated into running her own video production company in South Africa.
“Walking Over Eggshells” is her first self-published book, an autobiography which describes her adventurous life, trying to escape the emotional abuse she suffered from early childhood.

She published her second book a novel, “Amie an African Adventure” in July 2014, already a #1 bestseller in genre on

Lucinda’s third book ‘Truth, Lies and Propaganda’, was published on Amazon on November 30th 2014. It is the first in a series of two books and ‘More Truth, Lies and Propaganda’ is due out in 2015. They follow the author’s journey from the classroom to radio announcing, on to television and finally to setting up her own video production company. The books are packed with anecdotes of the often hilarious things that happened while out shooting a wide variety of subjects, taking the reader behind the scenes in the media and highlighting South Africa and its people.

The second book in the Amie series Amie and the Child of Africa was released in October 2015. Amie: Stolen Future in November 2016 and Cut for Life in September 2017.

I will share more about Lucinda’s books later in the post but first.. let’s find out more about the questions that she has selected today.

Welcome Lucinda and can you describe one most embarrassing moment of your life?

The first one I can think of, though heavens there are many, was the day we were out shooting in a township area outside Durban. There were four of us, a cameraman, production secretary, sound guy and me directing it all (otherwise known as bossing people around). I was always wary when we were in areas unaccompanied by a local member of the community, but we just needed a few scenes to complete a programme.

To my horror, we had only just set up and the shots rang out, very close and coming from all directions. I’ve always prided myself on my survival instincts and threw myself flat on the ground yelling to the others to do the same. It was several seconds before I realized that they were all staring at me and giggling very loudly indeed. Slowly I stood up, covered in gravel, mud, sticks and dried leaves. It was the beginning of Divali – time to light the fireworks. I never lived that down.

Tell us about your craziest experience.

Country: Libya – town: Benghazi – location: local radio station – date 1st September 1978.

Now the date is very important as it’s the anniversary of the day Colonel Ghadaffi liberated his country and this particular year was the date he decided to come down and inspect the navy moored in the harbour (one gun boat 16 foot long).

There was a loud explosion. An attempt on his life? (There had already been over 60 so far but the Americans and the British had protected him). All I know is that when I arrived for my shift, at the radio station I was met at the barrier by a plethora of soldiers waving guns with fixed bayonets. They stuck to me like glue, in the news room, in the studio, the sharpened blade pricking my neck all the time I was on air, even to the loo (I promise you I needed it). It was terrifying, especially as I doubt they spoke English and I didn’t know what would set them off. They even held a gun on the controller who’d turned white. Never have 4 hours passed so slowly and I staggered out a shadow of my former self.

Have you got a secret talent nobody knows about?

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t, or if I have, I’ve yet to discover it and I’m getting a bit old for one to pop up suddenly at this late stage. Honestly, I’m hopeless at most things. I hate housework, I’m hopeless with fashion – many of my friends look great in a bin bag, I look as if I am wearing a rubbish sack. Once upon a time I played the violin (badly), sung (only if the backing group was very loud) and I still count on my fingers, which refused to work together when I attempted to learn to play the piano. Nope, not a single shred of talent to be found anywhere.

What does it take to make you angry?

I don’t get angry very easily, one of my mottos is ‘Live and Let Live.’ I enjoy a good debate and will agree to disagree. However, I get cross when people have too many children they expect other people to support, cut down trees and disregard the environment. I also get angry with the treatment women suffer as second-class citizens and possessions, in the west we have it the best and that’s still not great. I also get cross when people moan and groan and try to get money for everything that goes wrong.

I’d like to drag them into a squatter camp in Africa and show them what real poverty is. And finally, when people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions – too many rights, no responsibilities.

What is something you look forward to when you retire?

I admit to not being ready to retire when we arrived in Spain although I was the right age. I was so excited, I could lounge around over breakfast, read books all day, wander along the beachfront and so on. That lasted all of 6 months and I was bored to tears. We moved and that occupied me for a while, then I threw myself into local activities, started learning Spanish, taught myself power point and gave lectures but all that didn’t keep me busy enough. So, I went back to writing and then the marketing and … need I say any more? Retirement is now a 24/7 work station at the dining room table in our little rabbit hutch and planning overseas trips we’re not sure we can afford. Believe me, retirement is exhausting.

I think most of us who are officially ‘retired’ would agree with that final statement!  My thanks to Lucinda for sharing some of her thoughts and experiences with us and now time to share the fruits of her retirement!

Amie: Cut for Life is Lucinda’s latest book in the series.

They told Amie it was a simple look, listen and report back mission, but from the beginning everything went wrong. She is stalked across borders, the aid workers act suspiciously, she’s assaulted, and abandoned in a rural African hut miles from anywhere. What has happened to her partner Simon and can she trust the charismatic Frenchman who befriends her? The discovery of an ancient tribal tradition and a group of young children to rescue, test her skills to the limit. For the first time, she is prepared to kill to protect the innocent caught up in an international sex trade with an extra horrifying twist.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I must say that I’m a huge fan of Amie the spy who doesn’t think she’s any good at it. This time Amie is faced with a terrible dilemma when she spies her parents in a shopping mall in Johannesburg. Should she compromise her position by letting them know she’s still very much alive? Of course she convinces herself that she must. However that decision has implications for future events.

Her next mission is to be apparently, a simple one. She is to join a group of aid workers on a fact finding mission. They are to visit various settlements and report to the British Government back on a number of issues. Very soon she makes a terrible discovery. Young girls are being sent to Africa to undergo FGM. But what else is happening to them?

Our intrepid heroine also discovers that some of her fellow aid workers are not all they appear to be. She has to rescue some of these children and lead them to safety putting herself in mortal danger. I love the way the character of Amie has developed and become someone we really care about. She’s totally believable as she questions herself and makes mistakes. Amy is tested to the limit but eventually succeeds with her mission.
It’s a fast paced thriller and the tension never lets up from start to finish. As well as that there are some wonderful descriptive passages which help readers visualise certain areas of Africa. Just superb writing! The author tackles the subject of FGM and child trafficking and opens reader’s eyes to these horrific practices that are sadly all top prevalent even today. I can only pray that eventually this mutilation of young women and girls will be stopped. It’s to the author’s credit that she chose to highlight this abhorrent practice. I can’t wait to see what Amy gets up to next.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Other books by Lucinda E. Clarke

Read the reviews and buy all the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Lucinda on Goodreads:

Connect to Lucinda via her website and social media.

Web page
FB page:


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Book Reviewers – Barb Taub for Judith Barrow, M.J. Mallon for Annette Rochelle Aben, Linda Hill for Katherine Clements and Liz LLoyd #RBRT for Rachel Walkley

Welcome to this week’s Meet the Reviewers…

This series is aimed at promoting and celebrating those that review books regularly. Especially those who do so via their blogs, as it would be great to create more traffic to their sites. I am happy to also showcase those that are put directly on Amazon. The details are here in this first post with an example..

And here is last week’s post:

  • If you click the images of the books you will be taken directly to Amazon.
  • Where an author or reviewer is in the Cafe and Bookstore I will include their entry.
  • If a review has been posted to Amazon directly without a blog post, I will share the entire review with a link to the reviewers blog.

The first reviewer today is Barb Taub with her views on the wonderful Howarth Family Saga by Judith Barrow. A series that I have read and enjoyed very much. Here is the start of Barb’s post and I hope you will head over and read the entire review for the whole series.

We’ve all read epic family sagas—sweeping multi-generational tales like The Thorn Birds, The Godfather, Roots, the Star Wars franchise, and anything remotely connected to the British Monarchy. So as I read Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, I kept trying to slot them into those multigenerational tropes:

  • First generation, we were supposed to see the young protagonist starting a new life with a clean slate, perhaps in a new country.
  • The next generation(s) are all about owning their position, fully assimilated and at home in their world.
  • And the last generation is both rebel and synthesis, with more similarities to the first generation made possible by the confidence of belonging from the second one.

But the complex, three-dimensional miniatures I met in the first three books of the trilogy stubbornly refused to align with those tropes. First of all, there’s Mary Howarth—the child of parents born while Queen Victoria was still on the throne—who is poised between her parents’ Victorian constraints, adjustment to a world fighting a war, and their own human failures including abuse, alcoholism, and ignorance.When Pattern of Shadows begins in 1944, war-fueled anti-German sentiment is so strong, even the King has changed the British monarchy’s last name from Germanic Saxe-Coburg to Windsor. Mary’s beloved brother Tom is imprisoned because of his conscientious objector status, leaving their father to express his humiliation in physical and emotional abuse of his wife and daughters. Her brother Patrick rages at being forced to work in the mines instead of joining the army, while Mary herself works as a nurse treating German prisoners of war in an old mill now converted to a military prison hospital.

Mary’s family and friends are all struggling to survive the bombs, the deaths, the earthshaking changes to virtually every aspect of their world. We’ve all seen the stories about the war—plucky British going about their lives in cheerful defiance of the bombs, going to theaters, sipping tea perched on the wreckage, chins up and upper lips stiff in what Churchill called “their finest hour”. That wasn’t Mary’s war.

Read the rest of the post and review at Barb’s blog:

Judith Barrow is in the Cafe Bookstore.

Judith Barrow – Buy:

Barb Taub is also in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Barb Taub, Buy:

Next we have Marjorie Mallon reviewing the latest poetry collection by Annette Rochelle Aben, A Haiku Perspective 2018.

An extract from Marjorie’s

This is an enchanting book of poetry. So many wonderful haiku! I love short form poetry and Annette Rochelle Aben’s book covers a multitude of poetic topics in a warm and inviting way.

The first poem Strings is a poignant haiku love story. I read this particular poem several times and seemed to take more from it on each reading. I read it down and then from the bottom up! The family dynamic in this poem changes when a new baby is welcomed and Annette Rochelle Aben captures this to perfection in this thought-provoking poem. The message within will no doubt resonate with many. Love can be the most exquisite emotion. But, there are many loves. Can the love of a child be so consuming that your partner, wife, or husband feels neglected? I loved how this was expressed in a musical way.

Read the rest of Marjorie’s review:

Marjorie Mallon is an author in the cafe and bookstore

M.J.Mallon, Buy:

As is Annette Rochelle Aben

Annette Rochelle Aben, Buy:

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



The next reviewer is Linda Hill... proprietor of Linda’s Book Bag, and congratulations are in order for winning Best Overall Blog at this year’s Blogger’s Bash in London.

In this post Linda reviews The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements. You can read all of the review by clicking the link at the bottom of the extract… and to buy the book click the cover.

The Coffin PathMaybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.

Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.

When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.
My Review of The Coffin Path

Living at Scarcross has never been easy for Mercy, but it is about to get considerably harder.

Now, I must confess that I don’t usually read books marketed in the ghost or horror genre as I find them too unsettling, but The Coffin Path was a perfect read for me with just the right amount of creepiness and supernatural to disturb and entertain me. Hardcore horror readers might find it wasn’t horrific enough, but I loved it.

The quality of writing is outstanding. There’s a sophistication to Katherine Clements’s prose style that draws in the reader and that is completely convincing so that I felt I was really able to understand the 1600s when the book is set, and to comprehend its superstitions and practices making for a realistic and powerful reading experience. There’s such realism alongside the more supernatural elements so that this narrative is finely balanced and nuanced.

Read the rest of Linda Hill’s review of the book:

The next reviewer is Elizabeth (Liz) Lloyd, who as well as reviewing books on her own blog Lizanne Lloyd, is a member of the Rosie Amber Book Review Team #RBRT.  This review was featured on Rosie Amber’s site earlier in the week. It is for The Women of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

38910952When book illustrator, Miriam Chambers, inherits Great Aunt Felicity’s Victorian mansion in the Norfolk countryside, she discovers it is a poisoned chalice. Either she must live in the run-down cold building for a year and a day or it will be auctioned for charity. Since she is able to work at home she decides to accept the challenge and she employs some local tradesmen to improve the facilities a little. But it is a lonely house set in overgrown woodland and Miriam is grateful when a strange-looking young man comes to the door offering to chop wood and do odd jobs. As the creaks and bangs around the house alarm her, she is pleased when Charles, the reticent young man, provides company.

Increasingly Miriam tries to find the reason for the conditions imposed in her Great Aunt’s will. Was there foul play when she had her accident and what happened years before when part of the house burnt down? This beautifully written mystery weaves a spell around the house and the people connected to it. It is easy to empathise with Miriam but there is a surprising conclusion which you are unlikely to predict. Reminding me of the books of Kate Morton, this is a story for lovers of ghost stories, history and romance. The introductory quote.

“One lives in hope of becoming a memory”

Is an apt description of this haunting story, about the nature of love.

Head over and read the rest of the review:

If you review books then if you would like to become one of Rosie’s respected Book Review Team, here are the details:

Thank you for popping in today and if you have written a book review on your blog or for Amazon in the last month then please let me know. Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Steak House – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story by Sally Cronin

This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find the previous odd jobs here:

This week’s episode was kindly hosted by Sue Vincent on her fantastic blog and more about Sue’s books later in the post.

Odd Jobs and Characters – The Steak House – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story by Sally Cronin

The steak house I was working in, as I pointed out in my previous post, was cheap and cheerful. You could go out as a family on a Saturday night, and if I remember correctly you would get a prawn cocktail, steak, chips and peas and an ice-cream for under £5.00.

Portion control was ferociously maintained with specifically sized scoops for the chips and peas, ensuring that every portion that went out was identical. This was the only way to protect the slender profit margins, although because we made guests wait for an hour at least, during peak times, we made it up on sherry and beer sales.

As a trainee manager, one of my jobs was the weekly stock take. I would begin after the last orders had been served from the kitchens at 9.30pm, heading into the large walk in coolers that held the fresh produce before checking the upright freezers. Every steak was exactly the same weight, as were the chicken halves. Large bags of prawns, frozen chips and peas that had already been opened, had to be weighed and noted in my large A3 stocktaking book. I also had to count the number of sauce bottles, salt and other condiments, as well as noting rejected food that had been returned.

After stock checking in the kitchens, I would head down to the cellars, where our back up stocks were kept in freezers and shelves, and count every packet and box.

I would then climb up three flights of stairs to the office in the attic of this 1820’s building; leaving the other staff to clear up the bars and restaurants, I would gather all the collected food receipts from the week and tally the number of meals for each course we had served. For example: the most popular meal of rump steak, chips and peas.

I would use the stock take totals from the week before, adding in deliveries of the various ingredients during the week; giving me a starting balance. I would then deduct the number of steaks, chicken or fish meals that had been served, which should leave me with same amount I had just counted.

If that figure was out by even one steak, half a chicken or piece of battered cod, I would need to go back downstairs and check.

That in itself was not such a problem, but the same applied to the chips and the peas. Each scoop of peas served to a customer weighed 2 ounces. I would calculate the number of meals served (virtually all of them), multiplying that number by 2 ounces to reach the total weight of peas used during the week. Being peas rather than the more expensive main ingredient options, there was a little more latitude in the discrepancy, but more than 16 ounces, and I would have to go and investigate further.

As you can imagine, doing all this manually was a mammoth task. It was a Sunday night getting on for midnight, after a very long week of fourteen to sixteen hour days. I was already tired and it was easy to miss a handful of peas or chips!

The office in the attic was not very welcoming; being rather grim and chilly. After a few weeks, I began to notice that about an hour into my calculations, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise. Even more disconcerting was that I felt I was being watched.

I tried not to be a baby about it and put it down to draughts in the roof and through old windows. But I really began to dread that Sunday night chore that left me alone in the office.

One of our regular customers at lunchtime was an old soldier of ninety, who interestingly, had been one of the first men up the Khyber Pass on a motorbike. (As you can guess he has featured as a character in one of my stories). He used to potter in around mid-day and have a large schooner of medium sherry. I was due my break around that time, and I would often join him with my coffee and listen to his war stories. He had some fabulous tales to tell, and one day I asked him if he knew the history of the house as he had been living in the area most of his life. The conversation went something like this.

‘Seen her have you?’ He whispered.

‘Seen who?’ I whispered back.

‘His wife, she haunts the place you know.’ He looked around him to ensure that no one else was within earshot.

‘Don’t want to scare the customers away do we?’ He cackled away into his sherry while I tried to decide if he was having a joke at my expense.

‘The man who built this place was a rich merchant.’ He continued swiftly.

‘After a few years he fell in love with a widow and tried to get his wife to leave him.’
He paused for effect.

‘When she refused, he locked her into the room at the end of the attic and starved her to death, then married the other one.’

Looking across the bar he swayed slightly in his seat and went quiet. I checked to see if he was still breathing.

‘Never forgave him, she didn’t, and has been haunting upstairs ever since. Must have annoyed her something rotten having starved to death and then them turn it into a bleeding steak house.’

He was laughing his head off and kept patting my hand as he rocked back and forth.

I still don’t know if this was the truth, but from that time on I would never sit in the office on my own on a Sunday night, bribing one of the other assistants to sit with me. Interestingly, after a couple of weeks they said the place must be very draughty as they got the shivers, and the hair stood up on the back of their neck!
©Sallycronin 2015

My short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:


Amazon UK:

Smashwords for Epub:

More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

About Sue Vincent

Sue has an eclectic blog that covers a wide range of subjects, but has a focus on Ancient Britain and poetry. She is ably assisted by her second-in-command Ani.

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Sue is a prolific author and has co-written a substantial number with Stuart France.  Here is a small selection.

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Find out more about their work together:

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_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.

Discover all of Sue Vincent’s books:

Connect to Sue Vincent

Silent Eye Website:
Website (books) :
Silent Eye Authors FB:
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

Thank you very much for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the background to some of my characters in Just an Odd Job Girl.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Frank Parker, Gigi Sedlmayer, Sally Cronin and Andrew Joyce.

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore Update. The first author who has been enjoying recent reviews is Frank Parker for the historical novel Strongbow’s Wife.

About the book

Do you have Irish ancestry? How much do you know about the act of treachery that gave rise to the centuries long conflict between Ireland and the English?

A century after the Norman conquest of England, the men entrusted with suppressing the Welsh were invited to bring peace to Ireland. The result was the opposite: the commencement of a tumultuous period in the relationship between England, Wales and Ireland that began 800 years of subjugation of the Irish by the English.

Little is recorded about the life of the woman who married Strongbow in return for the latter’s assistance in her father’s quest to regain the kingship of Leinster. The activities of Strongbow, and the other Cambro-Normans who took part in the occupation of Ireland in the twelfth century, have been written about extensively. Of Aoife we know only that she accompanied her father on his year long search for assistance, that, when Strongbow eventually arrived, the marriage took place days after a massacre in Waterford.

This account of those events is presented through her eyes. First as a teenager trying to understand the politics behind her father’s downfall. Then as a young wife caught up in the rivalry between her husband and the other leaders of the invading army. Finally, as a widowed mother worried about her children and the future of her native land.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Strongbow’s Wife by Frank Parker is a sprawling saga of 12th century Irish history as told through the eyes of Aoife MacMurrough, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster. Though a work of fiction, it is evident that Parker used extensive research to bring to life the challenges of ancient feudal clans fighting for cultural preservation.

Parker’s story begins in 1152, when Aoife is a child watching her father struggle to maintain his kingdom. She travels for several years with her father and mother in search of the King of England who might be able to provide support for Leinster. The plan fails, and Dermot MacMurrough plots another strategy, offering Aoife in marriage to Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. In return, de Clare would lead the Norman invasion to fend off feuding usurpers of Leinster. Aoife MacMurrough marries Richard de Clare, also known as Strongbow, in 1170. The union assures the sovereignty of Leinster and leads to greater stabilization of peace. The story ends in 1187, the year before Aoife, princess of Leinster and countess of Pembroke, died.

In addition to remaining true to historical events, Parker uses sensory descriptions of locations to provide context. His dialogue seems to fit the period, and his metaphors are rich and colorful. These are definite strengths. I thought it was good to have the story told by Strongbow’s wife, and Parker tried to present a woman’s perspective. At times, that fell short for me. For example, Aoife only “paled” when she received word that her husband died. Other times, such as when Aoife’s son died, Parker did an excellent job of presenting the grief of a mother.

Some sections are somewhat boring, without much detail to provide an understanding of this period of medieval Irish history. Characters are mentioned, but I didn’t know enough about them to comprehend their importance. For example, Thomas Becket was presented early in the story. I’m aware that he was Archbishop of Canterbury until murdered in 1170, but I’m not sure of his connection to MacMurrough or Strongbow.

Overall, I liked Strongbow’s Wife. It would not normally be my choice of reading with battles, and decapitations, and fighting for dominance or control. But such is the history of mankind. The story’s strengths outweigh my minor criticisms. Well done, Frank Parker.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon US:

Books by Frank Parker

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads:

Connect to Frank via his website and blog:

Gigi Sedlmayer has received recent reviews for Come Fly with Me the first book in the Talon Series. She has also entered her fourth book in the series to the Authorsdb for the First lines and Cover competitions …you can find how to vote after the review.

51jo3ypdlbl-_uy250_About Come Fly with Me.

Talon, come fly with me is a delightful middle grade story set in Peru with a family of condors and missionary Australians.

Is it possible for condors to understand humans?

Suspend your beliefs and watch how an under-size girl, Matica, finds friends with a family of condors, after being rejected by the Indians because of her size.

There are beautiful descriptions of the flight of the condors, and more so when Talon is cared for by Matica. The language suits this age group and does not talk down to the reader.

This is a great inspirational story for everyone. It will lift you up and make you believe in adventures, friendships, acceptance in a whole new light.

Come and take the journey that is called Matica’s life. It is filled with rejections, heartbreaks, growth and loneliness, but through it all, it will make you feel stronger.
Talon, Come Fly With Me is the first book in this series and you will be blown away!!!
In a world full of pain this story gives ones hope

One of the recent reviews for the book

In life there are so many things that can weigh us down. Some times it is our circumstances and other times it might be ourselves. What matters most, however, is that we realize that we can soar in life if we don’t give up.

That to me is one of the big messages of the book TALON: Come Fly with Me by Gigi Sedlmayer. It takes you into the journey of Matica and Talon, both of him are not expected to do or be much because of circumstances but together realize that they are powerful. I love how this story evolves in such a way that it is great for readers of all ages. It reminds me that there is nothing that is truly impossible if we choose to believe that you can accomplish a goal. Maybe Matica couldn’t change how others saw her, but she could change how she chose to see herself. That empowered her to help Talon do the same, allowing them to show everyone why you shouldn’t count a girl (or bird) down.

Inspiring and a great reminder for everyone who has been told who they are not. TALON: Come Fly with Me reminds us to see who we are.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:

Also by Gigi Sedlmayer

Gigi has entered Talon Connected – The Fourth book of the series in the Authorsdb First Lines Contest:

And also into the cover contest:

She would be grateful if you could find the time to vote for the book.. Thanks

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Gigi on Goodreads:

71xvkajfzxl-_ux250_Connect to Gigi via her website:

And the next author is me… I have received a number of lovely reviews in the last month for What’s in a Name Volume 1… and am really delighted.

About the collection

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

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

One of the recent reviews for the collection.

What a delightful read! Despite reading good reviews, I really didn’t know what to expect when I began the first (name) short story in this collection. I was enthralled immediately. Sally Cronin has a way of writing that invites you in with a cozy cup of tea and a biscuit, and then she weaves her tales about each person so succinctly, yet so elaborately at the same time, that by the end of the story, you don’t want to let go of that name. Of that character. Clever idea – to write a story for a person with a name. Think about it – what’s in YOUR name? .

You can read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

A selection of my other books

All available in Ebook from:

And Amazon UK:

And you can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads:

Pamela Wight is also an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Pamela S. Wight, Buy:


The final author with today is Andrew Joyce with a recent review fo Ellis: One Man’s Remarkable Life

About the book

From a rich tradition—from a fearless and audacious heritage—came forth a man who would be the embodiment of the Gloucester fisherman.

Ellis Hodgkins caught his first bluefin tuna at the tender age of fourteen, using only a hand line. It weighed 750 pounds. He did it by himself, fishing out of a ten-foot skiff. That feat earned him the title of Boy Wonder in and around Gloucester.

For those who marvel at the deeds of the men of Wicked Tuna, Ellis did it all before those guys were born.

This is the true story of one man’s remarkable life—a life lived on its own terms.

“Ellis is my hero.”—Dave Carraro of Wicked Tuna

One of the recent reviews for the book

Andrew Joyce is an American historical fiction author who creates tales as large as the characters in his books, and Ellis Hodgkins is definitely one of those characters.

At fourteen, Ellis caught his first bluefin tuna by hand, which was no easy task considering the fish weighed over 750 pounds. That single feat of strength initiates the teen on a path to fame and fortune.

“Ellis,” is the character study of a man motivated by an inner determination to succeed which follows him throughout all the stages of his life. Descended from tough Gloucester fishermen, Ellis is constantly evolving and changing which I found to be part of his allure. This young man embraces change. He has the foresight to recognize the big picture in many of his adventures resulting in even more opportunities. Nobody could ever say Ellis was a slacker.

Andrew Joyce follows the path of Ellis’ life journey in three acts, incorporating a rich historical perspective which serves to set the scene for each new location. I loved the history of the Seminoles in South Florida. Those historical tidbits were woven into Ellis’ story bringing a sense of the past to the future.

I’m not much of a sailor, but if you love sailing, this book contains rich descriptions that will put you in the middle of the action. I also loved the ending which inferred that Ellis’ story isn’t yet finished.

The book is a quick read, more the size of a novella, which is perfect for bedtime reading. At $.99 for the Kindle version, it is well worth the price. Drop anchor and have a read!

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

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Andrew Joyce

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Read the reviews and buy all the books:

And Amazon UK:

61uytgjxb0l-_ux250_Connect to Andrew:

Colleen Chesebro is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Colleen Chesebro, Buy:



Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the selection of books on offer. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore #Get Caught Reading Month- Writers who have inspired me – Bernard Cornwell – And my Review

Welcome to the last in my Get Caught Reading Month posts to celebrate writers who have inspired me to write. This week it is the historical author Bernard Cornwell.. and whilst I may not have read all his books, I have certainly read at least forty, including the Sharpe Series, Warlord/Arthur books, Saxon Chronicles and some of his stand alone books.

I have re-read the Sharpe Novels when they went to ebook and I will probably do the same with the Saxon Chronicles which is the latest series. I would be hard pushed to decide which is my favourite out of them all… I suggest you try them and find out for yourselves.

You can find all of Bernard Cornwell books in order:

I thought today that I would start with The Last Kingdom which is the first in the Saxon Chronicles and set me off on a quest with the young Utred to regain his kingdom over the ten books to date. I am very excited that the next book in the series will be available in September of this year.

I have chosen most of the covers from the series that are Kindle and feature the lead actor, Alexander Dreymon, from the television series, that I can also recommend..

About The Last Kingdom

Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred’s fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault.

The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred’s growing up. He is left uncertain of his loyalties but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred’s kingdom. Marriage ties him further still to the West Saxon cause but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of the Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea. There, in the horror of the shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.

The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell’s books, is firmly based on true history. It is the first novel of a series that will tell the tale of Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba. Against their lives Bernard Cornwell has woven a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love and desperate heroism. In Uhtred, he has created one of his most interesting and heroic characters and in The Last Kingdom one of his most powerful and passionate novels.

My review for The Last Kingdom

If you are going to become invested in a lead character in a series that is going to run to ten or more books, you have to create one that engages with the reader from the offset. Bernard Cornwell manages that with Uhtred, a small boy who sees his future snatched away from him, and his past ripped to shreds on the battle field.

I love history, but always found the teaching of it dry, date and major event driven. I wanted to be told the stories not the facts, and I wanted to meet the people who were not kings and queens, but those who lived ordinary lives; pulled into whatever feud or land grab was going on at the time.

The Last Kingdom does all of that, and thanks to the vivid narrative and intimate insights into the characters, you will find yourself in the shield wall, quaking with fear and trying to  prevent your legs being cut out from under you. You will feel the passion of a young man absorbed into the Viking culture and warrior ethos, and have your loyalties torn between the sanctimonious Alfred and the pull of Uhtred’s rough hewn, pagan adopted family.

This is history that fires the imagination, brings home the darkness and fear that seemed to be a constant companion for those working the land, and in the courts of power alike. The battle scenes are choreographed and graphic. The love affairs and friendships cemented with sworn oaths of fealty, are stretched to breaking point by the reality of war. The attention to detail is stunning and I can only imagine the level of research needed to create such an epic series.

I have read all the books in the series and I highly recommend that you buy the first ten books before the next is released in September. Personally I cannot wait.

Read some of the other over 2000 reviews and buy the book and in audio:

And on Amazon US:

Here are some of the other books in the series

And here is the new book due out in September and on pre-order.

Find all the books on Amazon UK:

And Amazon US:

And if you have not seen the television series here is the link to buy:

Read more reviews and follow Bernard Cornwell on Goodreads:

About Bernard Cornwell.

Bernard Cornwell, OBE (born 23 February 1944) is an English author of historical novels and a history of the Waterloo Campaign. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe. He has written historical novels primarily on English history in five series, and one series of contemporary thriller novels. A feature of his historical novels is an end note on how they match or differ from history, and what one might see at the modern site of the battles described. One series is set in the American Civil War. He wrote a nonfiction book on the battle of Waterloo, in addition to the fictional story of the famous battle in the Sharpe Series. Two of the historical novel series have been adapted for television: the Sharpe television series by ITV and The Last Kingdom by BBC. He lives in the US with his wife, alternating between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Charleston, South Carolina.


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves -Tallis Steelyard and The Sedan Chair Caper by Jim Webster

Delighted to welcome Jim Webster to the Cafe and Bookstore with his books. This week Jim received a terrific review for Tallis Steelyard and The Sedan Chair Caper from Robbie Cheadle.

About the book

Rather than his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with one gripping adventure. A tale of adventure, duplicity and gentility. Why does an otherwise respectable lady have a pair of sedan chair bearers hidden in her spare bedroom? Why was the middle aged usurer brandishing an axe? Can a gangster’s moll be accepted into polite society? Answer these questions and more as Tallis Steelyard ventures unwillingly into the seedy world of respectable ladies who love of sedan chair racing.

One of the recent reviews for the book

In this entertaining book by Jim Webster, the reader is treated to the ins and outs of sedan chair racing in Port Naain. Sedan chair racing comprises of chairs, transporting various wealthy ladies of impeccable social standing, borne by fit young men called sedan chair bearers, which raced each other through the streets. The ladies are not at all good sports and all sorts of interesting cheats take place during these races which are bet on by those in the city with a propensity for gambling.

We are introduced to a number of intriguing characters. Mistress Bream is one, an elderly lady whose decreased mobility is depriving her of the fun and social interaction she yearns for. Her various supporters arrange to have a special chair with wheels built for her and Tallis, a poet and the hero of the story, is invited to visit and view her new acquisition. This is the start of an extraordinary tale the results in Tallis seeing Mistress Bream’s son chasing a pair of sedan chair bearers with an axe and being coerced into finding out what has caused this odd behaviour. Tallis’ quest for the truth of the matter leads him to meeting Mistress Graan, the wife of a local gangster, who wishes to be seen as more cultured. Tallis agrees to assist her with hosting a poets soiree and he soon becomes embroiled in her ambitions, including her desires with regards to the sedan chair racing in the city.

I enjoyed the little pieces of poetry that the author wove into the story to enhance it. Once such piece was as follows:

“Who would not stare?
In agitation
When the sedan chair
Comes a cropper
The gyration
Was improper.”

Will Tallis manage to hold a successful soiree for Mistress Graan and help her on her way to social acceptance? Will Mistress Graan achieve her goal of a win in the next sedan chair race? Will Tallis discover why Mistress Bream’s son was behaving so strangely? You will have to read this lovely book to find out.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

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

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Jim on Goodreads:

About Jim Webster

Jim Webster is probably fifty something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels.
He lives in South Cumbria.

He has even been cozened into writing a blog, available for perusal by the discerning (or indeed by the less than discerning).

Connect to Jim Webster.


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Jim’s books thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Over my Dead Body: Murder at Eurovision – A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery by Christoph Fischer

Delighted to showcase the new book by Christoph Fischer – Over my Dead Body: Murder at Eurovision – A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery.

About the book

On her return from a cruise ship gig Bebe Bollinger learns that fellow Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler has decided to enter a European Song comptition for the UK. While Bebe jealously watches the pre-publicity trail for ‘Eurovision’ in Malmö, a string of ‘odd accidents’ endangers several participants of the competition. This stirs her desire for playing detective again but also a curiosity to check out the suitability of Eurovision for her own career.
Follow Bebe’s continued search for fame and a comeback before it’s too late, step into the weird world that is Eurovision fandom and see how Bebe gets on with her naughty daughter and deals with those evil TV presenters.

One of the early reviews for the book

This is the second in the Bebe Bollinger series by Christoph Fischer. The is sleuth is once again the charming, talented and a bit snarky Bebe Bollinger, an early 60s chanteuse with a remarkable career behind her but fighting to be back in the spotlight.

It is quite a change up from the first book, the author having chosen the setting to be Eurovision, the longest-running annual international TV song competition, held in a different country each year. I have to admit I didn’t even know Eurovision existed until I started to read this book, but I learned a lot.

Bebe is colorful, intelligent and one of my favorite characters. When her friend Bonnie Tyler (think Holding Out for a Hero and Angel of the Morning) is chosen to represent the UK at Eurovision, Bebe jealously watches the pre-publicity trail for Eurovision in Malmö and discovers a string of odd accidents happening to several participants in the competition. This triggers her detective antennae and she decides to attend the event. Going there also allows her to assess the suitability of a Eurovision appearance for her own career.

The author does an incredible job describing Eurovision, with its countries’ representatives, both new and seasoned, the outrageous costumes, lighting, and most of all the crowds and the carnival atmosphere. I know he’s been to one or two!

We again meet Beth, now a former police detective with a drinking problem who does legwork for Bebe when she is otherwise occupied, and Bebe’s grasping and selfish daughter Helen, who shows up at the festival and promises to ruin Bebe’s renewed and growing reputation. Bebe somehow gets herself into the middle of the action, singing a version of one of Bonnie’s songs on stage with another vocalist and being asked to judge the competition, as well as be a presenter on the day of the event. While her status grows, contestants continue to fall until it becomes clear that what Bebe suspected all along: these are no accidents.

Bebe deals patiently and with aplomb with nasty TV reporters and career climbing presenters, but ultimately begins to think she may be the next target. I honestly did not know who dunnit or why until the very end.

For fans of Bebe Bollinger, mysteries with a colorful and detailed setting, followers of Eurovision, or women of a certain age (like me), this is the book for you! I anxiously await the next book to find out what happens with Bebe’s career.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

A  small selection of other books by Christoph Fischer.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Christoph on Goodreads:


About Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and ‘The Black Eagle Inn’ in October 2013 – which completes his ‘Three Nations Trilogy’. “Time to Let Go”, his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions”, another contemporary novel, in October 2014. The sequel “Conditioned” was published in October 2015. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015 and his second thriller “The Gamblers” in June 2015. He published two more historical novels “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015 and “Ludwika” in December 2015.

He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

Connect to Christoph


It would be great if you could share the post around and leave your comments. Thanks Sally.

If you are looking for a book to read then please check out the bookstore which now has over 160 authors and 500 books.. Each author links directly to their Amazon Page and also their website:

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Lorinda J. Taylor, J. E. Spina, Heather Kindt and Paulette Mahurin.

Welcome to the first of the Author updates this week and since I like to showcase reviewers as well as the reviews… you will find that if a reviewer is in the Cafe and Bookstore I will include their entry too.

The first update today is for Lorinda J Taylor with a recent review of the fourth book in her series The Man Who Found Birds Amongst the Stars: Survivor: A Biographical Fiction

About the book

Capt. Nikalishin has recovered from the Darter Disaster, received command of his own Mars ship, and married the woman of his dreams, yet his struggles with loneliness, misunderstandings, and dissatisfaction continue in spite of his many friends’ efforts to help him. His wife proves to be hard-hearted and manipulative, while the revelations that come with the loss of his mother do nothing to improve his mental state, and the persecutions of his vindictive commanding officer exacerbate his problems. His health declines and he takes increasing refuge in alcohol. He knows nothing about the existence of the new interstellar program as government officials wait for him to prove himself still capable of commanding a starship.
Will Robbin Nikalishin’s “core of character” save him, or is his life really at an end?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Captain Robbin Nikalishin’s world has imploded around him leaving him to deal with the consequences of his many bad decisions. He embarks upon the search for the meaning of life that will set him free.

Robbie’s relationship with his wife has deteriorated to the point of no return. Problems with women have always plagued him. Most of these feelings stem from his inability to understand his mother and the choices she made long ago when he was a boy. This shortcoming has stunted his emotional growth acting as the catalyst that throws him into a deep depression, coloring his decision-making capabilities.

In a downward spiral, Robbie plunges into the depths of self-loathing. He turns to alcohol, seeking sanctuary from the personal revelations that haunt his psyche. Reckless, he pushes his luck and almost ends his career.

Yet, behind the scenes, his friends are working to help him regain his confidence. It is through their guidance and love that Captain Nikalshin finds the man he once was.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. The author has created an in-depth character study of the protagonist, Captain Robbie with stunning results. Seldom in fiction do you get to know the deepest secrets of a man and why he makes the choices he does.

With that said, be prepared, because Survivor is long, maybe a bit too long. I have followed this series since its inception and always felt a motherly connection to the captain. Nevertheless, there were a few episodes where he devolved into a sniveling mess where I wanted to slap him or give him a firm talking to!

Somehow, I always find my way to back to falling for Robbie Nikalishin’s naivete and charm. You simply can’t be mad at the character for long, which demonstrates the writing talent of the author.

I’m looking forward to the fifth book. I hope the captain finds everything he’s been searching for.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 4  Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 4
Reader Enrichment: 5  Reader Enjoyment: 5  Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

A selection of other books by Lorinda J. Taylor

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Lorinda on Goodreads:

Connect to Lorinda via her blog:

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

Colleen Chesebro, Buy:


The next author with a recent review is J. E. Spina (children’s author Janice Spina) for her book Hunting Mariah.

About the book

An insane killer, obsessed with blood and death, seeks revenge with those he perceives wronged him. He is now on the loose. His next victim may be Mariah.

Mariah has lost her memory. Will she remember what has transpired in her past? Can Mariah escape this deadly killer’s grasp. Will she finally be safe? Will the killer be apprehended?

A recent review for the book

Hunting Mariah is a riveting and relentless novel that had me hooked from the very beginning. A serial ‘school killer’ is on the loose and the book begins with the gruesome details of his first victim and her death … and his particular macabre desire to mark them.

Whilst the author successfully albeit uncomfortable reaches inside the killer’s mind, the book’s main narrative centres on the young woman Mariah and for an unknown reason she is key to the killings.

For a large portion of the book, Mariah finds herself in a health facility and with the help of Dr Roberts is gradually recalling the details that led to her admission. Her amnesia is slowly and tantalisingly broken and the book is mainly told through her recollections of the past, as well as through immediate events surrounding the doctor and her school counsellor Tony, whom she has fallen in love with. Whenever solid foundations seem to have been laid, they are shaken up and no one is quite who they seem!

This fast-paced novel is darkly sinister and menacing, at times macabrely violent. The intensity is balanced by the gentle awakenings of Mariah’s memory, her sweetness and innocence and the protective and loving support around her.

Read the reviews and buy the book Amazon US:

And Amazon UK:

Also as J.E. Spina

A small selection of children’s books by Janice Spina please head over to Janice’s Amazon page to view them all.

Discover all of Janice Spina’s books, read the reviews and buy:

and on Amazon UK:

Find more reviews and follow Janice on Goodreads:

Connect to Janice via her website:

Annika Perry is also an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Annika Perry, Buy:

And now time to catch up with Word Weaver Contest winner Heather Kindt whose debut novel Ruby Slips and Poker Chips was published in November..

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 recent reviews for the book

Roses are Amber 4.0 out of 5 stars Modern day Wizard Of Oz December 30, 2017

Ruby Slips And Poker Chips is a romantic comedy and a modern-day tale of Dorothy Gale.

Fans of The Wizard Of Oz might well sit up and take note, as this book is filled with plenty of teasers to delight the reader. Dottie Gale is a teacher in Quandary Elementary, Kansas. When a tornado blew through town, she swore it dropped off Maxine Westward, the new Headmistress.

Dottie and Maxine are instant enemies, especially when Maxine installs new, unpopular, rules. Dottie is restless in boring Quandary, so when she’s picked to attend a teacher’s conference in Las Vegas, she jumps at the chance to attend.

If I tell you that Dottie is forced to drive to Las Vegas, that she pops in a tape of her favourite band, Toto, and she is asked to pick up Mr Fields and Mr Lyons who are also attending the conference, you’ll get a good feel for the storyline.

Will Dottie find the answers she wants? Does ‘there’s no place like home’, ring true for our modern girl?

I had so much fun reading this and spotting all the clever twists, it was very entertaining. In fact I’m tempted to re-read it, to find more of the subtle hints. I’ve also been to a few of the places mentioned in the book which meant an extra thumbs up for me. I would definitely recommend to readers who enjoy a modern take on a good original oldie.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Smashwords for other Ebook versions:

Read other reviews and follow Heather on Goodreads:

Connect to Heather via her website at

The final author that has some wonderful recent reviews is Paulette Mahurin with her recent release The Day I Saw The Hummingbird.

About the book

On the eve of his tenth birthday, a young slave’s life is turned upside down. The unthinkable events that led up to the day Oscar Mercer saw a hummingbird test the limits of this young boy’s body, mind and soul. Gripped with fear and filled with anger, Oscar faces raw, crushing hatred aimed at him and everyone he loves. In a time when a nation was ripped apart geographically, economically, politically and morally, comes a story of a courageous boy who began life as a slave on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana and escapes via The Underground Railroad.

Through the efforts and good will of kind, brave people determined to free slaves, Oscar faces devastating obstacles and dangers. Struggling with his inner impulse to seek revenge for the injustices and violence levied on his family and friends, he discovers that in bondage you pray to God, but in freedom, you meet Him.

From the award-winning, best-selling author of The Seven Year Dress comes a story that brings another cadre of memorable characters alive on pages that pulse with hatred and kindness, cruelty and compassion, despair and hope. Oscar’s journey on the Underground Railroad is a heart-pounding ride that the reader will remember long after this story ends.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Lynda Dickson – Books Direct 4.0 out of 5 stars This story will haunt you March 29, 2018

The book begins and ends in 1914, when Oscar Mercer attends a talk given by Booker T. Washington honoring Harriet Tubman, the woman responsible for coordinating the Underground Railway and, therefore, securing Oscar’s freedom.

Oscar reminisces about his life, from his birth in 1852 into a life of slavery until the time he gains his freedom, aged ten. As a child, he stands by helplessly as friends and family members suffer the cruelty inflicted by the plantation’s foreman. When he is five, the slaves start hearing tales of “a Negro woman who was working with a group to help free slaves.” That woman is Harriet Tubman. We never meet her, but her presence runs through the narrative. Another milestone in Oscar’s life is when he gets the opportunity to learn how to read and write. He is drawn to comment, “Why do learning things feel so good?” Then, on the day he sees the hummingbird in the field, a chain of events is set into motion that ends in tragic consequences but eventually leads to his freedom. Armed with a Bible, a dictionary, and the skills taught to him by “conductors” with the Underground Railway, Oscar finally makes it to freedom. It is a gruelling journey from Louisiana to New York City, during which his faith is tested and he learns the true meaning of freedom.

Throughout, Oscar maintains his spirit and resolve by recalling his mother’s words of wisdom: “My mama’s womb had given me life, but it was her wisdom implanted in my brain that kept me alive.” She imbues in him the belief that “Skin color don’t make us no less a person.” This belief is reinforced when he meets the many (white) people who are willing to help him on his trip along the Underground Railway: “I was overwhelmed with relief when I realized that people are people. Simple as that. And the color of my skin doesn’t make me less of a person. It doesn’t separate or define my humanness. No, what makes some less human is hatred and hateful actions.”

In the Foreword, the author gives us some background into how she came to write this story: “In many southern states, educating slaves to read or write was illegal. […] I incorporated the element of educating slaves into this story and, in particular, with the protagonist and narrator of the story. […] Many of the scenes depicted were adapted from historical notes, letters, and other documentation from slaves who lived to tell their stories.” She succeeds admirably in giving us a look into the psyche of the young slave Oscar and rendering a heartbreaking account of the atrocities committed in the name of greed and prejudice.

Oscar’s story will haunt you for a long time after you have finished reading.

Read all of the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Paulette Mahurin

51i68gzmu9l-_uy250_51kctenodfl-_uy250_51q0487ggfl-_uy250_Read all the reviews and BUY the books:

And Amazon UK:

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

Read more reviews and follow Paulette on Goodreads:


Connect to Paulette:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always it is most appreciated if you could click one or two share buttons.. thank you very much Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the shelves – Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia (The Weeia Marshals Book 1) by Elle Boca

Delighted to welcome Elle Boca to the cafe and bookstore with The Weeia Marshals Series.. Beginning with book one.. Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia….

About Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia

Sworn to protect the secrets of their race, marshals are trained to police Weeia hiding among humans. After completing her advanced marshal training, Danni is blown away by her new plum assignment to Paris. But, all is not well in the City of Lights; the offices are a shambles, her boss is apathetic, and her predecessors died under mysterious circumstances; it’s almost like somebody doesn’t want the law there. Despite that she risks her life in the seedy underworld of gypsies and tramps to search for a missing Weeia man.

One of the reviews for the book

Fun Tale  on December 21, 2016

Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia started out with the examination of a young Weeia girl, Danni, who needs to pass in order to become the next level marshal. Weeia is creatures who appear like humans at first glance, but should they gather in a crowd, they’d stand out too much from distinctive features. They possess special powers for the purpose of protecting both humans and Weeia.

When the story opens, we find that Danni’s family makes it hard to build a name for herself. Aside from a couple of faithful friends, Danni is basically paying for the sins of her family. She wants nothing more than to prove that she’s worth a second glance. She finds that chance in her first assignment: Paris.

Having never been to Paris before, I felt as though I was right there. The idea of having the first assignment in Paris can make anyone walk in an excited daze. However, Danni’s excitement is short-lived when she arrives at a dirty apartment, her boss doesn’t care to meet her and she’s stuck trying to orient herself in a new, strange place. But that won’t last for too long–soon, she will be swept up in an adventure of a lifetime.

The plot was well thought-out, characters three-dimensional. I truly enjoyed this fantasy story because it was different than most that I’ve read. There were a few problems in the editing but still didn’t keep me from becoming immersed in this wonderful tale of Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Other books by Elle Boca

One of the reviews for Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter (Weeia #1) on Goodreads.

Feb 25, 2014 Nicholas Rossis rated it Five Stars.

I don’t know what I expected when I read Unelmoija, the Dreamshifter. Probably another coming-of-age, young adult story. Instead, I was treated to an endearing, rich tale, expertly written, with many twists and surprises that made me finish it in a single weekend, unable to put it down. Boca’s writing is sharp and witty, much like Amy, her lovable heroine. It’s hard to believe this is her debut novel, first in the series.

I loved the clearly defined characters, and particularly how she avoided using a cliched “good vs. bad” approach to them. Her nuanced descriptions add much to the story, as does her constant mentions of food that reminded me of Camilleri’s books.

I’m now off to read the next book in the series, the Mindshifter… 

Read the reviews and buy all the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Elle on Goodreads:

About Elle Boca

Elle is the author of the Weeia urban fantasy series about superhumans. The Unelmoija series is set in Miami. In the Garden of Weeia, a novella, is set in Portland, Maine, and her newest Marshals Series is set in Paris, France. Growing up the only child of a monkey mother and a rabbit father she learned to keep herself entertained and spend time reading.


Unelmoija Series Miami urban fantasy – Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter, Unelmoija: The Mindshifter, Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter, Unelmoija: The Timeshifter, Unelmoija: Paradox

Portland, Maine urban fantasy novella – In the Garden of Weeia

Marshals Series Paris urban fantasyGypsies, Tramps and Weeia, Weeia on My Mind, Smells Like Weeia Spirit

Connect to Elle Boca

Author website

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news about Elle’s books.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – You’ve Lost that Reading Feeling!

You’ve lost that reading feeling…

A beautiful thing is dying (not quite the words of the Righteous Brothers hit because of copyright laws). You don’t care if the book slips down the back of the sofa or gets left out in the rain; the hero can whistle and the heroine’s dull. No other story or setting would grab you either; they’re just lines of senseless words. For some time now, you haven’t been in the mood.

Instead you’ve got that rotten feeling. A lifelong, reliable healthy habit is failing you. With it disappears your route away from stress, your imaginary version of worlds where anything can happen but all will be resolved, and your escape from situations and conversations you aren’t enjoying. Gone too are access to laughter, empathy, information and travel, new friends (and adversaries), intrigue, entertainment and the luxury of shedding tears over something that never happened. You’re stuck in the real world with the fire doors locked.
Why does reading loss occur, does it matter, and if so, what can you do?

For me it happens when I’m stressed, or worse – unhappy, grieving, in pain perhaps. I lose concentration. Even low brow pot boilers (for which I have great respect) demand a minimum level of focus, and I can’t give it.

It also happens when external demands force themselves into my consciousness – not always a bad thing. I couldn’t read (much) when my children were small. My life rerouted to their time zone and responded to their exuberant or crashed out states – there didn’t seem to be much in between but it had been in the between times that I read. The children are taller than me now, and I’m reading again. Occasionally I read a novel so good I don’t know how to follow it – like the day after a special, rich meal when nothing seems appetising. Nor could I read when my job was demanding and the management unreasonable, or when my to-do list had more pages than a Victorian novel. I missed it.

You may be unable to read because of snacking on social media? But concentration is sapped by gobbits of other people’s trivia, or even snatches of worthwhile information, complete with comments, trolls and links to yet more trivia (or worthwhile information). This article on using social media at work calls it the “pinball effect”; the effect on leisure can’t be very different.

Even before social media, I used to find I could read on holiday in peaceful countryside, but not on city breaks where my senses were already over stimulated by lights, noise, architecture, traffic, food, entertainment…So during city breaks I give myself up to the art galleries I came for and leave reading for the aeroplane. In the countryside – well, the landscape tells its own story. That distant hill is a chapter with the next one behind, the foreground sheep are (restful) characters, and the path winding along the river is the narrative. People watching on the beach is a pleasure too, sitting in parasol shade before an ever changing screen of small stories. Or watching the waves, research has shown, leads the mind to a calmer and more creative space. To read or not to read – it doesn’t matter.

Paradoxically, it can be wanting/having to read that stops us, as when our attention can’t make it to page two of a book prescribed by a course or book group. Bookbloggers, wonderful people who review and publicise books without pay and get a lot of undeserved criticism, admit sometimes to feeling snowed under by the stacks their “hobby” has sent their way, and longing to read “just for themselves”. I’ve no patience with sites like Goodreads that encourage you to set reading targets, numbers of books and genres you’ll read in a week/month/year. We all have enough targets at school and work nowadays.

Reading should be a pleasure.

It does matter when stress takes away the ability to read. It’s a vicious circle because books and stories are exactly the relief we need. When grieving, I might find empathy; when feeling guilty or defensive about my behaviour I might find my reactions mirrored (hence my joy in Rachel Cusk’s  books inspired by her family life, and Elizabeth Jane Howard’s about mothers and daughters).

A bereaved friend found comfort in Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Everyone has different books that speak to them thus, echoing thoughts and expressing feelings on their behalf. Everyone knows the rare clarity of being surprised by a phrase into a standing ovation: “I feel that! She’s telling my story!” Reading those books is as good as therapy (and cheaper). The account makes sense of our experience and we take another step towards recovery.

When the loss of reading does matter, how can you get the pleasure back?
If you are not reading because you’re stressed or depressed, don’t make it yet another thing to beat yourself up about (I’m saddened how often I come across this on social media.) Do yoga instead, or mindfulness, or walk in the park, better still on a beach. One day you’ll read again.

This blog post will appear at the end of UK Mental Health Awareness Week. Perhaps you need something channelled towards the feelings you’re experiencing. I’m not suggesting people with severe mental ill health should be palmed off with a book, but mild to moderate sufferers may have books prescribed  to complement medication. The Reading Agency has some good lists here.

If you’re not reading because you can’t find anything that interests you or the last book was a hard act to follow, try a change of genre. Forget novels: try travel, biography or history – they’re full of stories too. Perhaps you’ve read too much of the same thing recently. Try poetry – each poem is different – and relatively short!

If a book seems turgid, is there a film version? The film will give you entry points and help you visualise.

Remember old favourites. For my mother this was P.G. Wodehouse, for my daughter Harry Potter, for me it’s loved childhood books. If I keep mentioning the same names in these blog posts it’s for a reason: Laura Ingalls Wilder,  Joan AikenHester Burton.  But you will have your own. Bill Bryson makes me laugh, and the chapters are short, always helpful when concentration is poor. “...what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?” – so look for illustrated books. Magazines are lighter; good magazines lead you back to good books anyway. Try Good Housekeeping (and its supportive book group).

We don’t always do ourselves favours. Is your reading light strong enough, are your glasses right, are you sitting comfortably? Is your phone out of reach and earshot?
Above all, don’t fret. Those who worry about not reading are not the people who should be worrying. They’ll read again one day. It’s the others who need to get on board.

Jessica Norrie ©2018

My thanks to Jessica for offering strategies for those times when reading might be the last thing on our minds… but actually might be beneficial in so many ways. Have you a book or author you turn to when you need to get your reading kick started again?

About Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Well-written and acutely observed on 14 December 2017

Jessica Norrie’s novel, set on a sun-drenched island somewhere in the Mediterranean, examines the personalities and pitfalls encountered on the sort of package holiday that offers holistic life-skills and self-improvement courses. While practising yoga and suchlike activities, guests at the Serendipity resort, together with staff and, from time to time, local villagers, confront social, personal and philosophical challenges.Norrie has a confident narrative voice and a shrewd and sympathetic view of human nature, which makes her account of the goings-on at Serendipity entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

The central character is absent for much of the book: this means that the reader builds up a picture of him through the thoughts and observations of other characters, like a photographic negative – he is defined by his impact on others. When he re-emerges in his own right, his condition is so altered that we learn about other people from their decidedly contrasting (and sometimes unattractive) reactions.

The prose is occasionally lyrical – as a swimmer emerges from a pool, “The water softly shifted to a forgiving stillness” – and consistently accessible. The author is very good on the strains inherent in a globalized culture. The gulf between Serendipity’s staff and guests on the one hand and the local community on the other sours into violence, which may not be entirely surprising since, as one of the resort’s denizens observes, “Our food and our water supply are better than theirs, so we don’t eat in their restaurants or buy their fruit, except in town where it’s so touristy; most of us don’t even try to speak their language; we don’t talk to them when they come to our bar; we expect them to put up with us sunbathing naked on the beach in front of their grandmothers – and then we go on about how beautiful the country is and how fascinating the local traditions are.”

The author also has a clear-eyed view of the reality beneath picturesque Mediterranean society. A young woman considers “meeting and marrying some local man and giving birth within the time honoured local conventions, kicking just a little against restrictions on her sex because that was what each new generation did, then in turn chivvying her own daughters and unconditionally adoring her sons.”

The Infinity Pool is a well-written and acutely observed examination of diverse lives.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon US:

Find more reviews on Goodreads:

Connect to Jessica


My thanks again to Jessica Norrie and to you for dropping in.. your feedback is always welcome. Sally