Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 8th -14th December – Make a Wish, Choirs, Cranberries, A-Z Christmas and Cheesy funnies!

Before we get into the posts you might have missed this week on the blog, a reminder about the Christmas Party on the 21st of December…

The theme for this year’s party is Just One Wish. We are all familiar with the story of Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, who was pretty liberal with that magic wand of hers and managed to turn a pumpkin into a golden carriage.

Unfortunately, she has long since retired and hung up her wand, but because I asked nicely (and she would like me to promote her memoir – The Prince Charmings I have Known!) she has agreed to allow you all one wish.

  • Your wish can be for anything you like, for you, for someone close to you, real, imaginary, massive such as world peace (that might be a bit of a stretch for her) or something you wish you had done or said in the past.
  • Humour is very welcome as it is tough for anyone to deny you anything if you make them laugh, and this particular Fairy Godmother has a very active funny bone.
  • Her memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and her attention tends to wander, so I suggest you keep your wish to 100 words or less. I cannot guarantee that your wish will be fulfilled, however, putting it out there could produce magical results.
  • My part of this is to fit in as many of your requests in as possible and so I suggest you get your wish in as quickly as you can.
  • I will also do the usual addition of links to your Amazon Page if you are an author, blog as well as one of your main social media.
  • There will be younger family members at the party, so please bear that in mind when submitting your wish, and the Fairy Godmother is not very worldly!

If you are a regular visitor to the blog I will have all your details and just need your ‘one wish’ in an email to

If a new visitor then please include your blog or website, Amazon link if you have one and your main social media link to

Now time for this week’s posts and as always my thanks to the regular contributors who share such wonderful articles.  And to you for keep showing up with your amazing support.

I am so pleased that William Price King will be a sharing a selection of Christmas music to get us into the festive spirit up to Christmas Day.. enjoy.

Here is another of our posts where I share the nutritional benefits of an ingredient and Carol Taylor incorporates it in a delicious recipe. Next week Carol will be back to share some of her creations from her Thai kitchen offering you some alternative delicacies to eat over the festive season. This week… ..Cranberries – a bitter berry which has a long history in medicinal terms and is still used today in certain over the counter preparations.

Christmas Cook From Scratch – Cranberries Bittersweet

The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts by Mike Biles

Mince Pies, Christmas, Britain

Mike Biles A – Z of Christmas – Holly & Ivy to Sprouts

Delighted to share a story by Victoria Zigler from the book Ulrike’s Christmas and you can find details of how to buy this book and Victoria’s many other children’s books after her story.

The Tinsel Story by Victoria Zigler

As a special treat, Linda Bethea is sharing another wonderfully entertaining story from her archives, and today we experience a Christmas from the depression that was still filled with homemade gifts, love, laughter and some retribution for past misdemeanours.

Kathleen’s Cuthand Christmas (from Kathleen’s memoirs of the depression) by Linda Bethea

Most of you will know Carol Taylor from her Food and Cookery Column here on Smorgasbord as well as her own eclectic blog located in Thailand, where she shares the wonderful food on her doorstep and recipes that turn them into delicious meals. Carol has shared a very poignant short story.

The Snow Storm by Carol Taylor

This week the prompt words are ‘Give and Shake’ for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 157 And I have chosen the synonyms ‘Grant and Tremble’ in a Butterfly Cinquain.

I Grant you Permission by Sally Cronin

I grant
you permission
to abandon restraint
and tremble with ecstatic bursts
of joy.
It is the time of chocolate
and freedom to consume
as many bars
you wish.

©Sally Cronin 2019

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills we were tasked on writing a story about a garden gnome or gnomes…mine is loosely based on an alleged true event…

Carrot Ranch – Missing by Sally Cronin

I was given a gift of this lovely anthology and over the last few days I have enjoyed the stories, imagining myself on a front porch swing enjoying balmy breezes somewhere in the southern states of America.. having lived in Texas and visited Tennessee and Mississippi frequently, it did not take much imagination.

My review for Southern Season Stories from a Front Porch Swing

New books on the Shelves for Christmas

#Children 3 – 6 Oskar’s Quest by Annika Perry

Author updates with recent reviews

#Romance Karen Demers Dowdall, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Design Valentina Cirasola, #Memoir J.E. Pinto

#Romance P.C. Zick, #Fantasy Jim Webster, #Thriller Stevie Turner, #Poetry Balroop Singh

YA A.J. Alexander, Romance Christine Campbell, Family Claire Fullerton, PostApocalyptic Sandra J. Jackson

Fantasy Deborah Jay, Memoir Abbie Taylor Johnson, History adventure Andrew Joyce, thriller Daniel Kemp

#Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #Memoir Marian Beaman, #Thriller JP McLean, #Romance Shehanne Moore

Wendy Janes shares the differences in proofreading fiction and non-fiction and it is very interesting.

Musings on Proofreading Fiction and Non-Fiction

Robbie Cheadle who is an experienced book reviewer shares her easy to follow methodology on writing a review.

Robbie Cheadle on how to write a book review

Review D.G. Kaye, Contest Kaye Lynne Booth, Christmas Cake Robbie Cheadle

Story Contest Stevie Turner, Flash Fiction Charli Mills, Book Review Angie Quantrell

#Q&A D.G. Kaye with Lisa Thomson, #Jacksparrow Dolly Aizenman, #Redwine Christy Birmingham

It is that time of year when we tend to throw caution out of the window along with any slimming books and fitness apps we might have (well some of us anyway).

Unfortunately, our pets are also treated to our sense of liberation and they end up eating many things they are not used to. Also their eating patterns might be thrown out the window, and in my experience their inner body clock is more accurate than a Rolex. This does not make for happy pets. Some treats are toxic to pets and can lead to not just stomach upsets but death.

Safe Christmas Treats and Homecooked dinners for Dogs and Cats.

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a festive recipe from. Sally!

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a joke for Sally.

Thank you so much for dropping in today and every time you pop by. Your support is very much appreciated and I always love to hear from you… even if it is to say Hi… thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #Memoir Marian Longenecker Beaman, #Thriller J.P. Mclean, #Romance Shehanne Moore

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first author today who writes beautiful poetry is Lynda McKinney Lambert with her recently released collection of poems: Star Signs.

About the collection

Lynda Lambert covers a wide terrain of subjects and topics in this new book, from lights to legends to seasons, treating us to images and metaphors about plants, people and weather.

She opens this large collection with the title poem, Star Signs, which walks us through the alphabet as it digs through thoughts, emotions and observations, “Using star signs to map out new terrain.”Throughout this book of poems, these gems of poetic creation shimmer like beads on her fabric art, like bold brush strokes of color on her paintings, and reflect light like the gemstones on her prize–winning piece of mixed–media fiber artwork. It seems this entire collection is like a multifaceted mural.Her attentiveness to nature and strong reflections from memory have woven from a collage of remnants a beautiful tapestry for us.

It offers a wonderful feast for the eyes and the mind.—Wesley D. Sims, author of Taste of Change Painting in Mid–October Autumn’s morning light revealed changes Undermined the scarlet–red palette taking center stage on the painting Undulating rain cast gray–violet hues Misty diffusion brought a new perspective Not anticipated yesterday Aroused the softened brush strokes Layered over the primed canvas.Dying is a careful arrangement A graceful staged performance Yellow leaves are faithful dancers Spectacular choreography!

One of the early reviews for the book

Discover more about Lynda’s books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Connect to Lynda via her website: Lynda Lambert

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer Mike Biles – A Bit About Britain – The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts

Delighted to welcome Mike Biles, author of A Bit About Britain’s History as a guest writer until the end of the year. And up to Christmas, Mike will be sharing the background some of the Christmas traditions we enjoy in Britain in his A – Z.

BTW: I can recommend the book as a great gift to any history buffs in the family both in the UK and abroad…and you here is my Review

In Part Two of the Christmas A – Z Mike shared the traditions behind Christmas Dinner to Figgy Pudding.

Christmas, Britain

The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts

Holly and ivy

Here again we are reminded of the ancient rites we celebrate each Christmas. Holly was used by the Romans to decorate their homes during Saturnalia, and they would send sprigs to friends to wish them health and well-being. Ivy has been regarded as a symbol of everlasting life for centuries and was sacred to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and Osiris, the Egyptian judge of the dead. Some associate holly with male and ivy with female; some with Jesus and Mary. Christians have also associated holly with the crown of thorns that Christ wore on the cross, with the bright red berries representing drops of blood.

Some believe that ivy should not be used inside the house for decoration – and I have certainly never seen it, though Christmas would not be the same without some holly about the place (not before Christmas Eve, though). The carol, ‘the Holly and the Ivy’, is an old folk hymn – and I have to say that it always sounds very ancient, almost pagan, to me; something about the rising of the sun and the running of the deer…

Merry Christmas

We can say ‘Happy Christmas’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ – but we don’t say ‘Merry Birthday’, or Merry Anniversary’ (etc). Does this suggest we don’t want people to be joyous on their birthdays? I haven’t found a satisfactory explanation for this – not one that doesn’t ramble, anyway. ‘Merry’ is an older word than ‘happy’ and used to mean ‘favourable, pleasant’. ‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’ (note the comma) is an old carol and the phrase means something like, ‘stay well, chaps’. Merry Christmas was used extensively in Victorian Britain – the first Christmas card said, ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.’ But by this time, the meaning of ‘merry’ had changed to ‘mirthful’ – and could also mean ‘slightly tipsy’. So the temperance brigade may have preferred to use ‘happy’. My own fudge on the subject is that it’s generally bad English to use the same adjective twice in the same sentence, so if you are wishing someone seasonal greetings for Christmas and the New Year you have to choose a different one for each; and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year sounds better than Happy Christmas and Merry New Year, even though either would be appropriate.

Mince Pies, Christmas, Britain

Mince pies

There’s a theory that eating a mince pie every day over the Christmas period is good for you.

Mince pies are small round pies with a sweet filling of mincemeat, not – as you may imagine – mincemeat. The mincemeat that goes into mince pies is a mixture of currants, raisins, candied peel, apple, spices, brandy, suet and sugar. The meat component was dropped a long time ago. Originally, mince pies were emblematical of the manger in which Jesus lay, and were shaped accordingly; they became round, allegedly, because the puritans disliked the symbolism.


Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on the branches of deciduous host trees, including oak, apple and birch. The European variety has pale green foliage, long, oval, leaves and clusters of milky-white berries. The Christmas tradition is to hang up a sprig or two and, should a woman stand underneath then a man may kiss her. The mistletoe must never touch the ground, for that brings bad luck. In days gone by, a berry had to be plucked for each kiss and, when no berries were left there could be no more kissing. In these less wasteful times, though, the berries are left on for as long as possible; a wonderful ice-breaker.

The Druids who practised their religion in these islands before the Romans came believed that mistletoe was sacred and had magical, healing, properties. Apparently, it really does – though, confusingly, the berries can be deadly poisonous, so do not eat them. There is, inevitably, an association with fertility; it has even been suggested that the berries were associated with semen. It’s anyone’s guess how the kissing started, though…

Legend has it that the god Balder, son of Odin and Frigg, was killed by a mistletoe arrow given to his blind brother, Hoder, by Loki, the god of mischief. Balder was restored to life but Frigg determined that mistletoe should never again be an instrument of evil, until it touched the earth.

The name mistletoe comes from the Anglo Saxon word for dung, mistel, and twig, tan, reflecting the observation that the plant is propagated by birds eating the berries and depositing their waste on the branches of trees.

Nativity plays

A Nativity play (from the Latin nātīvitas, meaning birth) tells the story of the birth of Jesus and is a common feature of any decent primary school’s Christmas calendar. It usually features the shepherds, wise men, the fully booked innkeeper and a cast of animals ranging from the donkey to sheep and cows. In the 2003 film, ‘Love Actually’, they even remembered the Christmas lobster and octopus, which some versions of the Gospels omit to mention. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to perform, and all to be involved, though competition for the parts of Joseph and Mary can be fierce. I remember being intensely jealous of the toe-rag that got to hold Mary’s hand and was only slightly mollified by winning the coveted role of 2nd Centurion.

Legend has it that the first Nativity play was performed by St Francis of Assisi, in a one-man show to bring the story to life for people who could not read or write.

Nine lessons and carols

The carol service we are most familiar with today, the ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’, which tells the story of the Nativity interspersed with Christmas carols, was the creation of Edward White Benson (1829-1896), in 1880 when he was the first Bishop of Truro and Truro Cathedral was little more than a wooden shed. Benson went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury. The best-known form of that service was adapted by Eric Milner-White (1884-1963) at King’s College, Cambridge, and was first held on Christmas Eve in 1918. It is now broadcast around the world every Christmas. For more about this, see Kings and Carols

Kings College, Carols, Christmas Eve


Noël is simply French for Christmas, derived from the Latin natalis (dies) birth (day).

North Pole

We’re not really sure where Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus etc) lives, but a 19th century American cartoonist, Thomas Nast, suggested it might be the North Pole. No one knows where Thomas got his inside information from, but he possibly reached this conclusion from the knowledge that Santa’s reindeer lived somewhere northern and very cold, coupled with the fact that the North Pole is nicely remote and receives few visitors.


Pantomime is a uniquely British – some might even say English – form of seasonal entertainment. Based on a simple plot in which the goodies always win, such as a fairy story like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ or ‘Cinderella’, it relies on skilful ham acting, audience participation, bad – and often topical – jokes, a bit of slap-stick and some singing and dancing. There are a few other essential ingredients: firstly, a pantomime dame, always played by a man, and a principle boy, always played by a girl. Those who don’t know any better suggest this is cross-dressing; it is not; the dame is meant to be a parody of a woman and the boy normally looks exactly like a girl. There has to be an outrageous villain, who attracts boos and hisses whenever s/he enters the stage. A fairy godmother is always useful to have around and, if animals are involved (including horses and cows), they have to be played by humans. Though pantos are primarily aimed at children, good ones operate on two levels; we Brits love our double entendre.

Any town desirous of Christmas credibility will have a pantomime running over the festive period (to make up for Parliament being in recess?) and the cast often includes celebrities as well as classic actors. But you’ll come across amateur productions almost anywhere. Oh yes you will.

The history of pantomime can be traced back to a form of Roman theatre with mime, which evolved into Italian and French street theatre that involved stock characters: the heroine, Columbine, the old man, Pantalone, and the clown, Pierrot. Crossing the Channel, this became more outrageous and bawdy and then received an injection of British music hall.

Queen’s Speech

The Royal Christmas broadcast is an intrinsic part of Christmas for many in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The first Royal Christmas broadcast was in 1932, when King George V spoke on the ‘wireless’ to the Empire from a small office at Sandringham. George VI carried on the practice, delivering a Christmas message every year from 1939, through the war years, until his death in 1951. Our current queen, Elizabeth II, has broadcast every year except 1969, and the broadcast has been televised since 1957. As well as reflecting on Christmas, the Queen mentions global, national and personal events which have affected her and her audience over the year. It’s usually at 3pm on Christmas Day, by the way.

Some foreign chappie wrote that some Brits – especially older ones – stand while this is going on and even remove their hats. Well, the things you learn about yourself and your country from the Internet…but I can’t stop to natter – I feel a genuflection coming on.


Why do robins feature so much at Christmas? The short answer is we don’t know. The usual explanation is that the robin, Britain’s national bird and a bold little thing, is often seen during winter looking for food – and the red breast makes the cheeky chap stand out, particularly against the snow. Now, I’m no ornithologist, but as someone who has turned the odd spade in my time, I reckon robins are ubiquitous all year round.

Some will tell you that robins became associated with red-coated Victorian postmen (nicknamed ‘robins’), who brought the Christmas post. Robins were even depicted delivering Christmas cards. Others suggest that a robin protected the baby Jesus from the glowing fire in the stable (I didn’t know there was one, did you?) – thus gaining its red breast from the heat. Another tale is that as Christ was on the way to His crucifixion and was, mockingly, given a crown of thorns, a robin plucked one thorn that had bitten deeply into Christ’s head and, as it did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained its breast. Or it could just be that red, along with green, is one of the colours of Christmas.

Christmas, Britain, a Christmas Carol


See ‘A Christmas Carol’. The name of Dickens’ main character in ‘A Christmas Carol’ is now in the dictionary, meaning someone who is tight with money, or miserly. It is thought the name may have came from an archaic verb, ‘scrouge’, meaning to squeeze or to press. But I think ‘Scrooge’ is almost onomatopoeic anyway.


The sprout – Brussels sprouts – seem to be an essential part of the British Christmas meal. They are really mini-cabbages. And, like Marmite, you either love ‘em or detest ‘em. I’m in the latter camp and can’t figure out why they are foisted upon us at what is otherwise a reasonably joyous time of year. They smell awful, taste worse and have predictably unpleasant side-effects. Unfortunately, they are very good for you; a single sprout contains more vitamin C than an orange. They originated in the Mediterranean, but are easily grown in northern Europe, became popular in the low countries (hence the name) and common in Britain in the 19th century, when people didn’t know any better. The only explanation I can find for the inclusion of this hideous vegetable in our Christmas feast (other than the plot to get me) is seasonal availability.

©Mike Biles 2019

My thanks to Mike for sharing his A-Z of Christmas and next week we will continue the series with more traditions, legends and food.

A Bit about Britain’s History: From a long time ago to quite recently.

About the book

Could this short, elegant, volume be the only book on British history you’ll ever need?

A Bit About Britain’s History is for anyone who wants a serious, yet light, introduction to Britain’s amazing story. If you don’t know the basics, or would like a reminder, this book is for you. It is also perfect for those that didn’t enjoy history at school, but who have suddenly realised they’d like to understand it a bit better now.

What did the Romans achieve? How did Christianity arrive? Who are the English and why did they fight the French so often? What is Henry VIII’s greatest legacy? When did democracy start and people get the vote? Why on earth did Britain get involved in WW1?

Organised clearly and chronologically, A Bit About Britain’s History covers every period from a long time ago until quite recently. It begins by briefly mentioning that the place was once inhabited by extremely large lizards, and ends up with a post-war 20th century consumer society. Brief articles explain the essential aspects of Britain’s past, including how the ancestors of its current inhabitants arrived, how they fought each other, formed nations, fell out over religion, acquired a large empire, became gradually more democratic, helped win a couple of world wars and were left wondering what to do next. At the end of the book are detailed timelines for each period, which provide useful reference and make fascinating reading in their own right.

A Bit About Britain’s History might be the only book on British history you’ll ever need; or it might be your stepping stone to more in-depth academic reading

One of the recent reviews for the book

I took my time reading this one because I loved the way the author wove the facts into a highly enjoyable narrative. What amazed me was how the author could start at pre-historic times and carry the reader forward to present day in such a brief book, yet cover the essentials and connect the complicated factors behind so much of that history.

The touches of a Bill Bryson wit was just enough to amuse me while I pondered the reality of “One Damned War After Another” It was a book I looked forward to returning to each night.

I’m keeping this one on my kindle so I can refer to the amazing Timeline included at the end of the book.

Read the reviews and buy the book in print and kindle: Amazon UK

And on Amazon US: Amazon US

Follow Mike on : Goodreads

About Mike Biles

Mike has lived in Britain all his life and generally loves the place, warts and all. He first learned history on his dad’s knee and went on to study medieval and modern British and European history at university. He was planning on teaching it, but then drifted into a career running his own business. Despite having worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious firms, he is often at his happiest with his nose in a history book, or exploring a historic site where the past is close. Several years ago, Mike began a blog – now an increasingly authoritative website – ‘A Bit About Britain’. He had to write a bit about Britain’s history for the website, and it seemed only sensible to put the material into his first book, ‘A Bit About Britain’s History’.

Connect to Mike Biles and explore his wonderful archives

Website home page
Blog page
Facebook page

Thank you for dropping in today and I know Mike would love your feedback – More Christmas A-Z next Saturday – thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair #EpicFantasy Deborah Jay, #Memoir Abbie Taylor Johnson, #HistoricalAdventure Andrew Joyce, #Thriller Daniel Kemp

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

If you enjoy epic fantasy novels then The Prince’s Man which is Book One in The Five Kingdoms Series by Deborah Jay is one you will enjoy.

About The Prince’s Man

Think ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’

Rustam Chalice, dance tutor, gigolo and spy, loves his life just the way it is. So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin who despises him.

And to make matters worse, she’s the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.

Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN is a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.

A recent review for The Prince’s Man

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written September 24, 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining and skillfully-written fantasy novel. I was particularly taken with the tight narrative, not a wasted scene or conversation, every word counting as the story unfolded. This contributed to a quick pace and complimented the well-considered plot that comes together with a satisfying ending. Though the first in a series, The Prince’s Man can also be read as a stand-alone.

All that good stuff, and then there’s more… the characters are fabulous, deeply flawed and sympathetic at the same time. The relationship between Rustam and Risada takes center stage. There are hints of a romantic attraction but the reader is saved from moon eyes and heaving chests by a very real tension based on past experiences, current loyalties, and objectives. Despite being allies, there’s a lot of loathing going on here. I love that.

Elves, trolls, and were-cats throw the story into the classic fantasy genre and are integral to the plot and underlying theme of the book. The political machinations are realistic enough to be recognizable today. Prejudices, bigotry, genocide, and beliefs in cultural superiority are alive and well in her world-building. The characters are forced to revisit their worldviews, but just like in real life, they will only open their eyes so wide. And Jay doesn’t hold back on the brutality.

I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series and seeing what happens to the two main characters as well as a host of others who intrigued me no end. Recommended for anyone who loves a good fantasy.

A selection of other books by Deborah Jay

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Deborah on : Goodreads

Connect with Deborah via her website: Deborah Jay

The next book is a memoir by Abbie Johnson Taylor, the story of meeting, falling in love and marrying her ideal partner, who sadly became very ill soon after.

About the book

In September of 2005, Abbie Johnson married Bill Taylor. She was in her mid−forties, and he was nineteen years older. Three months later, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side and confined him to a wheelchair. Abbie Johnson Taylor, once a registered music therapist, uses prose and poetry to tell the story of how she met and married her husband, then cared for him for six years despite her visual impairment. At first, there was a glimmer of hope that Bill would walk again, but when therapists gave up on him seven months after his second stroke, Taylor resigned herself to being a permanent family caregiver.

She discusses learning to dress him and transfer him from one place to another, sitting up with him at night when he couldn’t urinate or move his bowels, and dealing with doctors and bureaucrats to obtain necessary equipment and services. There were happy times, like when she played the piano or guitar and sang his favorite songs, or when they went out to eat or to a concert. She also explains how she purchased a wheelchair accessible van and found people to drive it, so they wouldn’t always depend on the local paratransit service’s limited hours. In the end, she describes the painful decision she and Bill made to move him to a nursing home when he became too weak for her to care for him in September of 2012. He seemed to give up on life and passed away a month later.

Abbie Johnson Taylor lives in Sheridan, Wyoming and is the author of three previously published books.

One of the recent reviews for My Ideal Partner

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Accolades are due Ms. Johnson Taylor. I must say that it is not just for caregivers, it is a love story, a story of inspiration and determination, and a story that will make you want to read more books by this author. I, personally, am glad that Abbie does not hold anything back.

Other books by Abbie Taylor

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

Read the reviews and follow Abbie on: Goodreads

Connect to Abbie: Abbie’s Corner WordPress

The next author is on my ‘favourite reads’ list and I can recommend any of his books as gifts this Christmas… and that would be Andrew Joyce with a recent review for Mahoney his latest release.

About Mahoney

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a story of determination and grit as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America. From the first page to the last, fans of Edward Rutherford and W. Michael Gear will enjoy this riveting, historically accurate tale of adventure, endurance, and hope.

In the second year of An Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

One of the recent reviews for Mahoney

Jjspina 5.0 out of 5 starsA Memorable Historical Novel that Will Become A Classic One Day! November 27, 2019

An historical novel with epic proportions that chronicles the lives of three generations of Mahoneys. Part 1 begins with Devin Mahoney and his struggles to survive living in Ireland during a famine and how he travels from his homeland to America to begin a new life of prosperity in the Land of Milk and Honey. The author delves into the historical background of the time and how the Irish had to deal with bias and bigotry when they arrived in their new home.

Part 2 takes the reader through the colorful life of Dillon Mahoney as he travels across the West and has encounters with outlaws, an Indian and nearly loses his life. Being a man of courage and convictions he strives to do all he can to correct what he feels need to be corrected by stopping the outlaws from doing any more harm to others.

Part 3 comes full circle with the next generation of Mahoneys, David. He is a troubled soul and spoiled by his father who wanted to give him all he could to make the way easier for him. David must find his way on his own.

This story touched my soul and made me think of my grandparents who came to this country and struggled to make their way by working hard and sacrificing for their children. An unforgettable novel that is a must read. Even my husband who doesn’t talk about many books has not stopped talking about this one. He has even told his friends about it. They are now reading it too.

I have read a few other books by this talented author and enjoyed them all but this book, in my opinion, is his best to date. It’s a memorable historical novel that will stay with me for a long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a classic and one day we see it up on the big screen. Kudos to Andrew Joyce for creating such a wonderful story.

Also by Andrew Joyce

Read the reviews and buy all the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Find more reviews and follow Andrew on : Goodreads

Connect to Andrew via his blog: Andrew Joyce on WordPress

The next author with books for those of us who enjoy spy novels and thrillers is  Daniel Kemp and the featured book is What Happened in Vienna Jack?

About the book

A robbery in London. The murder of a priest at the end of World War Two. A genocide in Namibia. The discovery of the remains of Hitler’s secretary.

Something connects all this. Former British spy Jack Price knows the answer, and he’s willing to die to keep the secret. The problem? He’s not the only one who knows.

It’s the lies that are not heard, but kept as secrets, that own us all. Deep in the world of espionage and deception, how far is Jack willing to go to fulfill his mission?

One of the recent reviews for the book

If you like the novels of Graham Greene and Len Deighton, then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this very engrossing read, by Daniel Kemp. Set in the 1970s, this thriller is very atmospheric of the times and I really enjoyed the plot (no spoilers here folks) which involved historic secrets the establishment didn’t want revealed.

Mr Kemp has obviously studied the period and also the events leading up to the Second World War extensively and upon finishing the novel, I had to wonder whether the events he portrays, could in fact have happened.

I will certainly be reading more of Mr Kemp’s novels.

Also by Daniel Kemp

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Daniel on : Goodreads

Connect to Daniel via his website: Author Danny Kemp

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Reblog – Q and A with D.G. Kaye Featuring Jane Risdon – Undercover: Crime Shorts

In another of her fantastic interview posts Q and A with D.G. Kaye. Debby features Jane Risdon and her latest book Undercover: Crime Shorts

D.G, Kaye Book PromotionsSo happy to be featuring author Jane Risdon here today for a little Q and A. Jane is a wonderful author, formerly in the music biz, but always writing it seems. Jane has newly released her book Undercover: Crime Shorts. Have a read below as we get to know more about her and her fascinating life.

Author Jane Risdon

About Jane:

Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.

Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.

Her experiences have provided her with a unique insight into the business and her writing often hasa music related theme. She is published by Headline Accent.
With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69 and is published in paperback and eBook.

Recently Jane completed a collection of her first short crime stories – Undercover: Crime Shorts -published in both eBook and Paperback (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).

Jane is working on the sequel to Only One Woman as well as a series of crime novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring former MI5 Officer Lavinia Birdsong – which she plans to complete in 2020. Her experience of working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in her pre-music days has given her plenty of material for her crime/thrillers.

Jane writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also writes a blog and often hosts guest authors. She is also a regular guest on blogs and on internet radio shows broadcasting with a global reach, including UK, USA and Australia.Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms.

Head over to enjoy the rest of Jane’s interview and read an excerpt from Undercover: Crime Shorts: Q & A with D.G. Kaye featuring Jane Risdon

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US – Blog: D.G. Kaye Writes Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month:

Jane Risdon, Buy: Amazon UK – Blog:

Thanks for dropping and please head over and discover more about Jane’s globetrotting childhood and the inspirations for stories Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Book Fair -Guest Post – Wendy Janes – Musings on #proofreading fiction and non-fiction.

Delighted to welcome back Wendy Janes with a post on proofreading fiction and non-fiction books. Wendy is also the author of two books and you can find out more about those later in the post.

Back in the twentieth century when I started out as a freelance proofreader I worked solely on non-fiction, mainly academic texts for a variety of publishing houses. Each had an in-house style guide that editors and proofreaders were expected to work from, which was very useful for a newbie who felt she needed a safety net.

In addition to correcting grammar and punctuation, I became involved in decisions about the hierarchy of headings, styles for different types of lists, plus the setting of figures, tables and boxes. I was also required to check in-text quotations and references against bibliographies and reference lists, as well as ensuring that bibliographies and reference lists were set correctly and contained full publishing details. It was meticulous and rewarding work.

Friends used to remark that I must be very clever, since I spent my days reading so many interesting books about obscure aspects of subjects such as education, history, politics, art and film. Alas, this wasn’t the case. Although I had been totally immersed in a book while proofreading, once I’d finished, it was astonishing how little I could remember. Maybe there’s only so much my brain can retain. However, one fact I do recall is that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were delivered by the same midwife.

Anyway, let’s get back to the proofreading…

After a few years, a publisher offered me a novel to proofread. Elated by a sense of freedom – no lists, no figs/tabs/boxes, no quotes and, joy of joy, no extensive bibliographies and references to double-check – I reckoned this was going to be a doddle.

To my surprise, it wasn’t.

Very quickly I discovered that I had to constrain my initial impulse to impose every single rule I’d been required to use when proofreading non-fiction. Let’s take the following sentence, as an example:

The therapist should ensure they keep their notes up to date.

In the textbooks I’d been proofreading I was expected to change this to:

The therapist should ensure he or she keeps his or her notes up to date.


Therapists should ensure they keep their notes up to date.

Some of my publishers encouraged their authors to make a note at the start of the book if they had chosen to run with masculine or feminine, but the mix of singular and plural was to be avoided at all costs. For a while when I first began proofreading fiction I had to physically stop myself from correcting this. These days, whether proofreading fiction or non-fiction, this isn’t such an issue because the singular ‘they’ has become far more common. In fact, the APA now endorse the use of the singular ‘they’ in its bias-free language guidelines. I find it fascinating to see how language is continuing to evolve, and if you’re equally fascinated, I think you’ll enjoy this article about: The Singular They

Another example of a big difference between proofreading fiction and non-fiction is when dealing with contractions. When working on a non-fiction title, I would amend:

Good therapists don’t doodle in their notebooks during therapy sessions. It’s not professional.


Good therapists do not doodle in their notebooks during therapy sessions. It is not professional.

That formal style would make for a very stilted novel, and in dialogue (unless the character is particularly prim and proper) it would sound downright wrong.

As I received more fiction titles it became clearer that while errors in fiction can suck all the drama from a novel, errors in non-fiction make the reader doubt the authenticity and accuracy of the information. I also realised the importance of listening to the novelist’s voice and the need to take time to decide when to intervene and when to let something go. In fact my touch is now much lighter with both fiction and non-fiction, and I reckon that makes for better proofreading.

I believe I was lucky to start off proofreading non-fiction for publishers, picking up invaluable tips from the editors I worked with while honing my skills. I think this post is a sort of thank you for that start. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to make the move into proofreading for independent authors. Initially, working with indie authors felt like swinging through the air on a trapeze without a safety net below. No in-house style sheet to rely on, no editors to double-check things with, just a knowledge that I had the confidence and skills to take that leap, catch the bar, execute a perfect somersault and land gracefully on the other side.

©Wendy Janes 2019

My thanks to Jane for sharing this with us and I personally found very useful, particularly in relation to contractions…

About Wendy Janes

Wendy Janes lives in London with her husband and youngest son. She is the author of the novel, What Jennifer Knows and the short story collection, What Tim Knows, and other stories. She has also contributed short stories to a number of anthologies, including the fundraising anthology, A Kind of Mad Courage.

Her writing is inspired by family, friends, and everyday events that only need a little twist to become entertaining fiction.

As well as writing contemporary fiction, she loves to read it too, and spreads
the word about good books online and in the real world.

Wendy is also a freelance proofreader, and a caseworker for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service.

There are many testimonials for Wendy’s work and I am just sharing one with you here. I suggest that you pop over and read the others. You will be impressed.

“Wendy proofread my second novel, she is a pleasure to work with. Her knowledge, skill and sharp eyes picked up numerous, minor errors which both I and my editor had overlooked despite numerous read throughs. Wendy noted misleading sentences, caught graves which should have been acutes and found spaces in places they shouldn’t haven’t been.

My manuscript now sparkles, and I would definitely use Wendy again. Her prices are fair, her work is exemplary, and the proofread was completed ahead of schedule.
Thank you, Wendy, for a scrupulous and professional service. Thoroughly recommended.”

Sam Russell, author of the contemporary romances A Bed of Barley Straw and A Bed of Brambles

Books by Wendy Janes

One of the excellent reviews for What Jennifer Knows

‘What Jennifer Knows’ is a subtle and shocking tale of modern family life and relationships.
Sensitively drawn characters charm us but we, like them, are unsure who to trust. The shifting nature of loyalty and love is portrayed through searingly honest glimpses into the characters’ lives, both past and present.

The children in the novel are beautifully drawn and the way Tim’s siblings give him the acceptance and understanding he needs is both heart-breaking and wonderful.
As the complex plot deepens, we become so caught up in the characters’ lives that we have a real sense of urgency to know what will happen. How will Jennifer deal with what she knows? The final twist gives a fitting ending to this extra-ordinary book.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Wendy on: Goodreads

Connect to Wendy.

Facebook :

Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure that Wendy would be delighted to answer any questions that you might have.


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #HistoricalRomance Karen Demers Dowdall, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Design Valentina Cirasola, #Memoir J.E. Pinto

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

If you enjoy historical romance then The Captain’s Witch by Karen Demers Dowdall could be the gift for you..

About The Captain’s Witch

Lost in the Annals of Time: A Story of Love and War

The Captain’s Witch is a hauntingly beautiful story of love that transcends time. Sara Windsor Knightly, born into a family with generations of witches inherits Windsor Manor, a colonial era manor built in 1680. She had no idea that the Manor is haunted by Jacobite ghosts, and a ghost named Christian Windsor.

He is a gentleman farmer who is also a Captain in the British Brigade in the year 1690 in Colonial Connecticut during King William’s war with the French and the Abenaki Indians. To complicate matters, the White Oak Tree on the property of Windsor Manor, is haunted by the ghost of Alice Windsor Hall. The White Oak Tree was once a sapling on the grave of Alice Windsor Hall, one of Sara’s distant relatives who was falsely accused of witchcraft in 1690. Alice has haunted the White Oak for more than 300 years and she has plans of her own that sets everything in motion. Alice spins a spell that sends Sara and Christian to the year 1690 to save her little girl, Clara, from the hands of Reverend Baron Warwick, a Puritan Zealot who has diabolical plans for the child. Alice promises to return Sara and Christian back home as soon as Clara is safe from harm.

Alice’s promise sends Christian back to war and certain death. A brokenhearted Sara is sent back to the present day to Windsor Manor. Sara is, quite by accident, sent once more back in time to revisit a very different Christian, who has no memory of Sara, putting her in great danger of being accused of witchcraft.

One of the recent reviews for the book on December 5th by Colleen M. Chesebro

“The Captain’s Witch” begins in the present, introducing us to Sara Windsor Knightly, an ancestral Wiccan who inherits the family manor. After she moves in, she discovers that Jacobite ghosts haunt the residence. One, in particular, the ghost of Captain Christian Windsor seems fated to connect with Sara.

On the property stands a towering White Oak tree, originally planted on the grave of Alice Windsor Hall, Sara’s distant relative. Alice, falsely accused of witchcraft, suffered a brutal death at the hands of Reverend Baron Warwick, a Puritan Zealot who has plans for Sara’s daughter, Clara.

Now, after 300 years, Alice’s spirit returns from the otherworld on a mission to rewrite history and save her daughter. She enlists the help of Sara and Christian who travel back and forth in time trying to correct the errors of the past.

Can Christian and Sara’s love survive through the ages, or will fate deal them a cruel hand?

For me, this book came across as more of a mystery than a romance. There is chemistry between the characters, but it was not overdone.

I enjoyed the witchy aspects of the novel, especially the history behind Alice Windsor Hall. I had to pay close attention to the time travel aspects to understand when the characters moved through different periods. Yet, this was a fun entertaining read.

Also by K.D Dowdall

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK:  Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Karen on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Karen Anna via her blogKaren Dowdall

If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers then Desolation Bluff by Toni Pike would be a great addition to your gift list… and today I am sharing my review for the book.

About the book

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Rachel to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.

A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

My review for Desolation Bluff – Four Stars – July 30th 2019

For a short novel Desolation Bluff is packed with suspense and action.

Life is challenging enough for those with a sight impairment, when trust of those around you is essential. Oliver Cameron feels blessed to have a highly successful writing career, loyal housekeeper, a wonderfully supportive wife and best friend and back from honeymoon, he couldn’t be happier.

As we become involved in the story, and are party to events that Oliver is not aware of, it is easy to become angry on his behalf as the depths of betrayal are exposed. How will he deal with the revelations that unfold? Seeking revenge requires careful planning but people will go to great lengths to protect their secrets. For some of those who are looking out for Oliver’s best interests, this can be dangerous. Especially when an unexpected ally turns up on the scene who might be less likely to be intimidated.

The characters are well drawn and the plot moves along at a good pace. It is easy to take sides as the story develops and the climax leaves you on the edge of your seat…. and Desolation Bluff.

Also by Toni Pike

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Toni on: Goodreads

Connect to Toni via her website: Toni Pike

Now time to bring some colour into your life courtesy of designer Valentina Cirasola and her book Red: A Voyage Into Colors. A book about colour and its influence on our lives in all aspects including spiritually.

About the book

From the dawn of time, every race and population have attributed various meanings and symbolism to colors. This book talks about colors, how humans can benefit from using them, how our health, spirit, and state of mind can improve by using all colors without distinction.

The book teaches how to create and mix colors as a study for people who have an interest in becoming artists and are just starting. Also, the book delves into understanding colors from a spiritual point of view and how to use them, in a technical way, for interiors, fashion, food, entertainment and much more. It is so important when mixing colors to look at nature as our best teacher, where all colors are mixed together and co-exist well without rules and prejudices. We can simply copy nature and feel perfect in our choice of colors.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Nov 16, 2019 James rated it Five stars on Goodreads

For the most part, I am a fiction reader. On occasion, I pick up a non-fiction book when the subject matter or theme is of interest. Red – A Voyage Into Colors by Valentina Cirasola was a book that crossed my path earlier this year when I stumbled upon the author’s design website and personal blog. Being a person who generally leans toward blacks, grays, and whites, I thought maybe I should learn a little more about the color wheel.

Although this book is entitled Red, it is not merely about this one color. The author shares the history and background of all the colors on the spectrum, teaching us the differences between hues and shades, tones and variations. The book is only ~125 page and contains dozens of photos of colors and their uses in various designs, homes, and picturesque settings. It’s easy to digest, well-written, and has an amazing personal touch. Valentina has quite a fun personality.

Some of the content I recall learning in school. Other I’ve picked up throughout my life. Seeing it all together again in one book is a comprehensive way to learn about our lives. For instance, I remembered why red was a warm color, and blue a cool one, but I didn’t know how it affected my life or made me feel. It was great to dive back into these ideas and facts, and seeing how these colors play in my life today was helpful. I actually (without knowing it) designed my living room to use all the appropriate matching color patterns and schemes. My bedroom might need some work though!

What a great way to make us ponder the things we often spend too little time thinking about… I pick clothes based on what fits. What if I went out in search specifically for clothes with color combinations that work for me? I plan to re-read this book again in small chunks. Too much at once can get lost because you want to process the advice and imagery. Next time I need to make a color decision, I’ll definitely come back to this one to focus on the important questions.

I recommend this one for every type of reader because it has a little bit of everything when it comes to choosing what makes us happy versus what might be the first thing we see in our closet or drawer, on the computer or phone screen, or on the rack of shelf at the store.

Also by Valentina Cirasola

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

You can read more reviews and follow Valentina on: Goodreads

Connect to Valentina via her

The next author with a recent review for a memoir sharing the adventures of parenting when you are a sight impaired mother…by J.E. Pinto…Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark.


About the book

“So Sarah?” the teacher asked, in a question I had rehearsed with her, “what’s it like to have a blind mom?”“Well,” my little girl said, in an unrehearsed answer, “it’s like a regular mom, except Daddy won’t let her drive his car.”With that nonchalant reply in front of her second grade class, Sarah summed up the way my blindness has fit into the fabric of our family. It isn’t a problem; it isn’t even a novelty; it’s just part of how we roll. My blindness has changed a few practical logistics. But in the end, kids are kids and moms are moms, and the dents and delights of parenthood are universal. As I told my daughter when she was very small, putting an only slightly different spin on the words my mom had said to me thirty years before, “The eyes in my face are broken, but the ones in the back of my head work just fine.”“Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark” is a book of short vignettes—most of them lighthearted, a few more serious—about my life as the blind mother of a sighted daughter. Welcome to my journey!

One of the recent reviews for the book

I read most of this book when I couldn’t sleep last night, And the rest of it with my morning cup of coffee. I love the way she mixes humor with compassion and gives us a glimpse into the world of blind parenthood. Although this is a central theme in the book, there is so much more to it. One can learn lessons of empathy, living each moment to the fullest, solving problems creatively, looking beyond the surface, and The beauty of looking at the world through a child’s imagination. The love between daughter and mom shines through so brightly in this book. Makes me want to meet them!

And also by J.E. Pinto

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow J.E. Pinto on : Goodreads

Connect with J. E. Pinto via her Facebook:

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

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair -#psychologicalthriller Anne Goodwin, #YAAdventure Donna W. Hill, #Childrens Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, #Mystery Judy Penz Sheluk

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

And the first featured book today is by Anne Goodwin with a recent review for  Underneath….A perfect gift for lovers of  psychological thrillers.

About Underneath

He never intended to be a jailer …

After years of travelling, responsible to no-one but himself, Steve has resolved to settle down. He gets a job, buys a house and persuades Liesel to move in with him.

Life’s perfect, until Liesel delivers her ultimatum: if he won’t agree to start a family, she’ll have to leave. He can’t bear to lose her, but how can he face the prospect of fatherhood when he has no idea what being a father means? If he could somehow make her stay, he wouldn’t have to choose … and it would be a shame not to make use of the cellar.

Will this be the solution to his problems, or the catalyst for his own unravelling?

One of the recent reviews for the book

After reading the blurb, I was immediately excited by this book, as I could see some similarities to John Fowles’ novel The Collector – a book I love.

As a result, I really liked reading Underneath. It was incredibly easy to keep reading – I was definitely hooked.

Each part of the book – I believe it’s split into 6 parts – begins with a mini prologue which is set after the imprisonment has taken place. After each of these, the book returns to the current narrative, where Steve and Liesel are still happy and in love. I thought these sections were especially good and intriguing, because I was keen to learn how Steve unravels from an ordinary man into a crazed kidnapper.

I say ‘an ordinary man’ as, for most of the book, Steve is just that. There’s nothing sinister about him at all, really. Although there are some flashbacks to Steve’s childhood, in which he is bullied by his older sisters, I was not convinced his childhood was damaging to the point of causing extreme psychological issues and violent tendencies which would bubble to the surface later in his life. Personally, I wish these flashbacks had contained stronger evidence of a troubled childhood development such as, for example, Steve regularly lashing out in anger as a child, struggling to accept being told ‘No’, or showing a fascination for murder or kidnapping stories in the news. I think these sorts of things would have provided a more solid basis for the motivation behind Steve’s future plan to imprison his girlfriend. As it is, Steve’s decision comes completely out of the blue, which is arguably less creepy than a premeditated attack.

This plan is also carried out quite late in the book; I was more than halfway through before any kidnapping began. This might be something for you to bear in mind if you prefer fast-paced thrillers, as Underneath is much more of a “slow burner”. Whilst I might have enjoyed a quicker pace, in the long run, I didn’t really mind because I thought it gave plenty of time to characterise and develop Steve and Liesel well.

Having said that, I did prefer the imprisonment scenes somewhat more than the build-up to the imprisonment. The last third or so of the book was especially engrossing. There are some great twists and, following the kidnapping, Steve gradually becomes more enraged and unhinged. The ending was also dramatic and satisfying; due to his psychological state, Steve begins to hallucinate people from both his past and present – whether dead or alive – and that was fascinating to see from his perspective.

As I have mentioned, there are a few things I wish had been done slightly differently. Nevertheless, I still really liked reading Underneath and, after reading a review e-book copy, I’d love to support Anne Goodwin by picking up a paperback copy myself as well.

Also by Anne Goodwin

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Find more reviews and follow Anne on: Goodreads

Connect to Anne via her blog: Annecdotal

The next author is Donna W. Hill with her YA Adventure The Heart of AppleButter Hill.

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

When 14-year-olds Abigail and Baggy leave home, they have little more than Baggy’s camera and Abigail’s guitar. Rounded up by the authorities, they are placed with guardians and enrolled in a progressive school. Abigail, a songwriter who knows her sight is failing, is mortified to learn that she is already legally blind. When she meets Curly Connor, her new guide dog, however, she thinks her obstacles are all behind her. Troubles begin quickly when the friends uncover a dangerous secret. Someone at school wants to steal the powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied, and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but both think it’s a teacher. Educator-recommended for middle-school diversity and anti-bullying initiatives.

One of the recent over 50 reviews for the book

Robert Martinengo 4.0 out of 5 stars An imaginative romp August 20, 2019

This is a fun and feisty book. It definitely captured my imagination and left me hoping for a sequel. Give it a chance and you will be rewarded with an,imaginative journey unlike any other fantasy novel.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Donna on: Goodreads

Connect to Donna via her website

And now something for the younger generation in the family from Deanie Humphrys-Dunne.. A Tractor Named Wilbur. Illustrations by Holly Humphrys -Bajaj

About the book

WILBUR is a small, shy tractor. He loves cutting the grass for Jim. But what happens when he must find a new home? Will Jim still be his friend? Who will the new owner be? WILBUR would love for you to take him home and read about his adventure. A Tractor Named Wilbur is the first in a fun series coming your way!

A recent review for the book

A really cute story! I had to smile often at the sweetness of it. Wilbur the tractor is much loved by his owner. An easy read with an important message for children about change and seeing the possibilities of new adventures. The reader could feel what it was like for Wilbur, the owner, and Hattie, the chicken through the author’s clever style of conversing. The questions at the end were a good idea to encourage children to remember what they read, and to help them express their thoughts when answering.

A selection of books by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Follow Deanie Humphrys- Dunne on : Goodreads

Connect to Deanie via her website: Children’s books with Life Lessons

The final author today with a book for mystery lovers, and I certainly enjoyed is Judy Penz Sheluk for Past and Present – A Marketville Mystery – At the time of posting the book was priced at 99c/99p but that may now not be the case.

About the book

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.
It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

Kim Templeton 5.0 out of 5 stars Past Meet Present September 26, 2019

It’s been just over a year since Callie inherited the Marketville house from her father. She is ready to give up the house but decides to stay in Marketville and open up her own business with a few of her new friends. Thus Past and Present Investigations is born, and this is not your average P.I. firm. They quickly get their first client, a lady who wants to know what happened to her Grandmother. You will not believe how the past connects the present.

After finishing book one I could not wait to read this book. This book did not disappoint. It was just as good as the first one with plenty of twists and turns to take you on a wonderful mysterious ride. The characters are real with quirky personalities. I love how the group of women come together and use each person’s strength to solve the mystery. The plot is well developed and the story moves along at a quick pace. This story is full of suspense and humor. I can not wait to read the next book in the series.

I listened to the audio version of this book the narrator Claira Jordyn does a wonderful job with her voice acting. Even with the story being told from Callie’s POV Jordyn does a great job voicing each character. She helps bring the story to life.

A selection of other books by Judy Penz Sheluk

Read the reviews and buy all the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judy on Goodreads: Goodreads

Connect to Judy via her blog: Judy Penz Sheluk

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




Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Book on the Shelves – #Thriller – At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream by Janet Gogerty

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Janet Gogerty... A thriller – At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream.

About the book

In the summer of 2013 Annette Bethany Brown went missing without trace. Her boyfriend Toby Channing was the last person to see her, the only person who knew where she had spent the previous days.

In February 2014 Tobias Elliot Channing, private investigator, was still roaming the country, a camper van detective specialising in missing persons; hoping to discover why so many people go missing. He was visiting every place that had a connection with Anna, there were still no clues to her disappearance.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

A selection of other books by Janet Gogerty

A review for Quarter Acre Block

Anita Dawes 5.0 out of 5 stars History remembered and relived…

I can remember the winter of 1962-63, also known as the Big Freeze. It was one of the coldest winters on record for the UK. The temperature plummeted and lakes and rivers froze. The sea actually froze in a few places, something I never expected to see!
Blizzards and the freezing cold probably had most of us dreaming of living somewhere warmer. I know my mother did.

She had heard about this new scheme where you could travel to Australia to start a new life and all for £10. That must have appealed to many people after suffering through that particular winter. I was only a child then, and don’t remember why we didn’t go, so when I saw this book all about a family who did go, I had to read it.

I followed this family as they made plans, packed up their belongings and travelled all that way. I discovered what it was like to find yourself in such a vastly different environment to the UK, and found it all fascinating.
The early arrivals were given a quarter Acre block of land to live on, which is a substantial amount of space, practically unheard of in the UK unless you had pots of money.

I learned what their new life was like through the eyes of the youngest daughter. She described an enjoyable journey as they slowly came to terms with their new life.

This was a light-hearted and fascinating read about something that almost happened to me. I often wonder what my own life would have been like if my mother had managed to swing it...

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Janet on: Goodreads

About Janet Gogerty

I have been writing frantically for 12 years and still enjoy being part of two writing groups. I am inspired by anything and everything and enjoy writing about ordinary people; but usually they find themselves experiencing strange events!

When I was encouraged to tackle a novel my daughter suggested I use my short story ‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind’ as she wanted to know what happened to Emma, whose fate had been left in the air at the end of the story. The novel became a trilogy, Three Ages of Man and finally Lives of Anna Alsop, published in March 2015.

Quarter Acre Block was inspired by my family’s emmigration to Australia.

My new novel is called At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream. When Toby Channing’s girlfriend disappeared without trace he was the last person to see her…

I enjoy writing fiction of any length and have had many short stories published online.

Connect to Janet


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the news of Janet’s latest book. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair -#Romance Linda Bradley, #FamilyDrama Mary Crowley, #Adventure Audrey Driscoll, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first book today which would make romance lovers very happy is Maggie’s Montana which is the third book in the Montana Bound Series by Linda Bradley.

About the book

Maggie Abernathy, best friend Judy, and Judy’s two young sons travel cross country to visit John McIntyre and daughter Chloe at their Montana ranch. Maggie’s convinced herself that she’s only making the trip to fulfill her promise to visit Chloe, but once there she can’t help but fall in love with the horses, the land, the ranch, and the Montana ways of life. With Chloe’s loving antics, Winston’s gift, and a handful of wranglers showing her the ropes, will Maggie have the heart to say goodbye?

One of the recent reviews for the book and series on Goodreads

Sep 03, 2019 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
A Second Chance at Life

A trip to Montana with Judy, Harry and Walter turns into the adventure of a lifetime. Chole and John are settled in at the ranch and there’s so much to enjoy. Winston lets Maggie know that she has a place in their life if she’ll take the chance. Will Maggie find the strength and courage to move forward towards a new home and relationship? Recommend Series.

Also by Linda Bradley

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Linda on : Goodreads

Connect to Linda via her website: Linda Bradley Author

The next author is Mary Crowley who has two books set in Ireland that would make wonderful gifts..Her first novel A Sweet Smell of Strawberries has a recent review..

About the book

Imagine, a warm summer’s morning with the Sweet Smell of Strawberries wafting through the air, tantalising your senses….

For Sarah Connolly, this invokes beautiful memories of her son Jack. A talented athlete destined to represent Ireland in the Olympics and loved by everyone who knew him. While out training early one morning, the sixteen-year-old was killed when Desmond Shanahan lost control of his car. Jack’s death crushing Sarah, as her only child, he was the very essence of her life.

Losing a child in tragic circumstances, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, a sense of unjust…..

Now, five years after the tragedy, Desmond’s early release from prison leaves Sarah feeling let down by the justice system and she makes sure he knows this. Even if it means losing friends in her quest to remind the close community of Kilmer Cove, of Desmond’s guilt. What Sarah fails to realise is nothing will bring back her son.

However, Sarah is not alone in her angst over Desmond’s release, and a web of lies soon becomes untangled over the events which lead to Jack Connolly’s death.

Can Sarah find it in her heart to forgive Desmond?

A Sweet Smell of Strawberries takes in a beautiful Irish setting along the coastline of Donegal and The Wild Altlantic way. A story of love, heartache and retribution which makes you realise no one is perfect!

One of the recent reviews on Goodreads

Oct 21, 2019 Eleanor Murphy rated it it was amazing

Great Read, I loved this book. It is a story of love and loss with twists to keep you intrigued throughout, immediately pulling you in to the characters who are very relatable and believable. I could imagine sitting in the Cove listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline. I’ve never been to Donegal but I definately plan to visit after reading this book.

Also by Mary Crowley

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Mary on: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her blog: Mary Crowley WordPress

Now time for some action and adventure courtesy of Audrey Driscoll with a recent review for  Book 4 of the Herbert West Series – Hunting the PhoenixI am sure the complete series would make a great gift for anyone.

About the book

Journalist Alma Halsey chases the story of a lifetime to Providence, Rhode Island and finds more than she expected – an old lover, Charles Milburn, and an old adversary, renegade physician Herbert West, living under the name Francis Dexter. Fire throws her into proximity with them both, rekindling romance and completing a great transformation.

More Details: Middle-aged and cynical, journalist Alma Halsey looks back on the missed chances in her life with bitterness and regret. Revisiting her home town of Arkham, she comes into possession of a letter that changes everything. So what if it’s not addressed to her, but to her old flame, librarian Charles Milburn? Suddenly she’s chasing down a big story, and maybe she’ll reconnect with Charles as well.

Giving up her New York City life, Alma moves to Providence, Rhode Island and begins tracking down another man from her past – one she’s assumed to be dead for more than 15 years – none other than renegade physician Herbert West. It seems he’s living in Providence under the name Francis Dexter, and is once more engaged in nefarious doings. Once she’s gathered enough information, Alma plans to write an expose.

Things get complicated when Alma discovers that Charles Milburn is also in Providence, working for “Dr. Dexter,” and English neurosurgeon Edward Clapham-Lee is also looking for Herbert West. Everything goes wrong when the house she is living in catches fire. Seriously injured and far from home, Alma is forced to accept the hospitality of the man she has made her quarry. In Dexter’s house she finds healing, strangeness and unexpected friendships, and realizes that her real quarry is herself.

Alone with Dexter for several days, Alma has occasion to revisit her relationship with him and discover the roots of her disaffection. Soon after Charles’s return from a business trip, the three repair to Cape Cod where they celebrate their renewed friendship, until the appearance of Edward Clapham-Lee – a man as amoral and dangerous as Dexter’s former self – demands a return to Arkham for a final reckoning.

One of the recent reviews for Hunting the Phoenix.

So speaks Charles Milburn near the end, when he and Alma are contemplating writing the story of Herbert West/Francis Dexter. I can’t argue with that sentiment!

Reading this book is definitely a powerful experience. However, I think I would have enjoyed it even more and comprehended it better if I were more knowledgeable about alchemy. It’s never been a subject that interested me; I’ve always viewed it (when I thought about it at all) as a primitive footnote to the history of “real” science. But I can concede that alchemy makes an excellent “crucible” for a paranormal plot. After all, all SF writers employ futuristic fictional science in order to move their plots along; why not utilize archaic fictional science?

A noteworthy aspect of this book is the author’s skill in evocative description. She really knows how to set a scene and create a mood; furthermore characters appear, take shape, and are molded in front of your very eyes. Here are only a few examples:

From the Prologue section: “Last night I dreamed again of Provincetown in the summer of 1939, seven years ago. A silver pink sunrise off the Cape in August. The taste of peach juice on his lips, his arms holding me as he dances us out of the world. The legacies of one who was born of fire and has returned to it.”

“My thoughts dissolved into a whirl of light, colour, and sound – the strange dissonances and harmonies of the two instruments, the copper-haired child with her birdlike song, the candlelit procession from darkness to light, the Christmas tree with its suns, moons, roses and dark orbs. And in the center of it all, our enigmatic host …”

And when Alma first starts to write poetry: “I sat in my quiet, rose-scented study, scribbling in fits and starts, stalking ripples of my own emotions as the hunter stalks his prey, fishing for feelings and catching them in a net of words.” On that subject, this book contains some remarkable poetry; the author displays a fine comprehension of that literary form.

Dreams and hallucinations also play a mesmerizing role in “Hunting the Phoenix,” and the author skillfully uses flashback techniques to relate earlier events. Most loose ends from the three earlier volumes are tied up, although there are still a few things I wonder about, especially what became of the John Hocks demon, who appears near the end of v.1
I strongly recommend this book and the three previous volumes in the series, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, She Who Comes Forth.

A selection of other  books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

 Amazon Canada

 Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Audrey on: Goodreads

Connect to Audrey  via her website: Audrey Driscoll

And finally today the memoir by  Brigid P. Gallagher that shares her experiences and also strategies to overcome chronic illness in Watching for 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.

One of the recent reviews for the book

A fascinating read through all the naturopathic and alternative remedies Brigid has been involved in. Clearly a very active and intelligent person, she applied herself to learning, teaching and living the naturopathic principals. Many people will owe much to her knowledge and generosity in sharing her gifts.

Her own health problems dictated a new path and a need to slow down and take care of herself. Her new pace of life has resulted in this book on life lessons and the importance of slow. We are the happy beneficiaries. Thank you for your insights Brigid!

Read the rest of the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

and at:  Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Brigid on : Goodreads

Connect to Brigid via her blog: Watching the Daisies

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