Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Woodlake (Images of America) by Marsha Ingrao

Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves and today the featured author is Marsha Ingrao who is enjoying her retirement from teaching and as History Consultant for the Office of Education for Tulare County in Central California.  Her local history book tells the story of the Western town of Woodlake.  Marsha also provides excellent ‘how to’ posts on blogging for newbies and experienced writers alike.

About the book

Known as the area “within the magic circle,” the Western town of Woodlake, along with its surrounding valley, is rich in both natural resources and hardworking citizens who are proud of their heritage. Most Tulare County towns sprang up along the Southern Pacific Railroad. Woodlake, designed as a tourist town, drew together farming communities, consisting of people too busy raising fruit and cattle to create a town. Starting with Thomas Henry Davis in 1853, settlers established farms and ranches, which attracted Los Angeles millionaire Gilbert Stevenson when he arrived in 1907.

Approved by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors on October 3, 1911, the world-class tourist town named Woodlake grew from Stevenson’s imagination into reality. Led by the strong sales personality of its founder, Woodlake grew quickly, yet it remained a Western town, retaining reference points to the early communities that visitors would not find on signs. Visitors to Woodlake today will find Woodlakeans still doing what attracted Gilbert Stevenson: raising cattle and growing citrus within protection of the Sierra Nevada and foothills.

All author’s proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the Woodlake High School Foundation.

One of the reviews for the book.

Wonderful book of Woodlake history. It’s a treasure! I bought three so my kids have their own copy. Grandson loves it! It’s heritage!

Buy the book from Amazon:

About Marsha Ingrao

Marsha is a retired teacher and History Consultant for the Office of Education for Tulare County in Central California.

My first novel, Girls on Fire, a romantic comedy about three women in their early sixties looking for new loves, will come out as soon as my editor sends me back the final edits to make. Three blogs keep me busy the rest of the time I sit at my desk.

In the past year, I have focused more on writing, blogging, and photography for newbies and non-professional bloggers. I write about those topics on this blog, Always Write.

Connect to Marsha

Websites: Blogging tutorials and personal posts:

Social Media
FB Page
Google +

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally





Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Bruce Springsteen, Books and Blogs and A Musical

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts you might have missed. The weather is still a bit erratic but on our morning walks there are signs of spring. Daisies are appearing on the grassy parts of the park we walk in and there is a smell of garlic in the air.  There is wild garlic growing abundantly along the paths and into the woods so apart from snakes, it looks like we don’t have vampires here either.

Now the weather is a little more stable it is time to pick up the house refurb again and we have 14 windows and a new back door on order for a few weeks time. We noticed this first winter here that despite having new insulation in the roof and attic we were still bleeding heat. The windows are the old metal doube glazing in most of the house so they will be replaced. Then there is the jungle outside.. We cleared a huge amount last year but already with a little sunshine and plenty of rain spring has sprung.. The birds and wildlife love it and having put birdseed out all winter we are delighted with the variety of birds who visit us.  We want to make sure that we keep their habitat whilst bringing some sort of order to the garden.. bring me my rake and hoe and into battle we go!

Thank you as always for dropping in this week and for your lovely comments and shares. Do please also remember that you are very welcome here as a guest in either an author or blogger promotion or with a post of your own. Here are the options for you.

On with the week ….

William Price King meets some Legends

Part two of the Bruce Springsteen story and Bruce’s career begins to take off.

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss.

Thomas the Rhymer

Paul is writing exclusive posts every three weeks for Smorgasbord but has kindly thrown open his archives for us so that we can enjoy some of his older posts on his blog for a second time. BTW.. I have been reading Thomas the Rhymer this week and really enjoying it..

Serialisation of the Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin – life in Waterford in the 1930s

Two more chapters from my father-in-law’s first book the Colour of Life and this week life before television and putting food on the table during tough times.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview with Mary Smith.

Mary is my guest this weekend and has already received some great questions. Please read about her fascinating life in Afghanistan and Pakistan and her interesting work as a journalist.

Creative Artist Interview

This week poet, storyteller and blogger Kim Blades talks about her life and work.

Blogger Promotion – please leave a link to your most recent post in the comments section of any of the following posts.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Book Promotion – Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

This promotion is for authors who have not been promoted here on Smorgasbord before and would like to join the other authors on the shelves of the bookstore. Once there all authors can enjoy regular updates of their new releases, great reviews of offers on their books.

Book Promotion – Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

This promotion is for authors already on the bookshelves and whilst I do check every author every four to six weeks it does help if you let me know if you have news you would like to share.

Book Promotion – Collaborative Anthologies

This promotion is for anthologies with several collaborating authors.

Personal Stuff

A woman has had a tough week in the office and needs to talk through her problems with a friend on the drive home.

A trip down memory lane and gratitude for a very patient prickly pear farmer.

St. Patrick’s Day – Irish Weather – The Musical

A musical tribute to the ever changing face that is the weather here in Ireland.. bring your dancing shoes and brollies.



Thank you once again for being such an important part of my blog.. you are welcome anytime.  Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – The Bumpkinton Tales: Volume One by Matthew Drzymala

Today’s featured author is Matthew Drzymala and his collection of short stories and novella’s entitled The Bumpkinton Tales: Volume One.

About Matthew Drzymala

Matthew Drzymala was born in Manchester in 1981 and started to write seriously in 2011 when he took part in NaNoWriMo. Since then he has relocated to Liverpool, where he lives with his fiancee, Elaine.Matthew attended creative writing classes in 2012 and 2013 and was nominated for an Adult Learner Award in 2014. He also runs the Laid-back Writers Group, which meets once a month at Central Library in Liverpool. This group is aimed at writers of any skill or experience, whether they be beginners or experienced, all are welcome.This group is a place where writers can come together and write at their own pace and to help kick-start those who want to write but can’t get past a first draft.

Matthew released his first works in 2013, the majority being stories in the Bumpkinton Tales series. Matthew’s first paperback was a collection of short stories and novella’s entitled The Bumpkinton Tales: Volume One.
About the Bumpkinton Tales: Volume One

Welcome to Bumpkinton! Come in, have a cup of tea and a scone, and lose yourself in five humorous tales from the village.

Follow Father Whitworth O’Grady as he chokes on a penny, Albert Scatterhorn as he becomes the grubbiest Father Christmas ever, and Amelia Goose as she feuds with… well, anybody. Plus a whole host of characters as they attend the village’s first Singles Night with a sex-crazed ladies’ man.

Jump in and find out more for yourself…The Bumpkinton Tales: Volume One is the first paperback release by the author and includes five humorous short stories and novella’s packed with colourful characters.Find a quiet cafe, sit back and enjoy.

A selection of reviews for the book

A great read about the charms of living in a place where everyone knows everyone (and everything!). Thoroughly recommended!  By Miss K. Jenkins on 14 May 2016

I just love this collection! I read ‘Bittersweet’ by Drzymala a little while ago (also included in this collection) and fell in love with the charming characters. When I saw this being discussed on the authors Facebook page, I knew I had to read it!I was not disappointed. This collection reads exactly as ‘Bittersweet’ did. It has the same charm about it and the same characters that I’ve grown to love, even if they are strange!Growing up in a small village, I am fully aware of the fact that everyone knows everyone and nothing is a secret! I felt that Drzymala portrayed this very effectively.

Oh the small towns… I do love.. By Jen L. on 7 Aug. 2016

Filled with wit, and good old English humor. This was a very smooth, enjoyable read.

A great book to grab and go to the beach, you can pick and choose which short story to enjoy. The characters were all very unique and had that typical small-town mentality, which I can relate to.. seeing it and growing up around it. The small town talk, radiated with humor, and you found yourself chuckling to yourself, because it is oh so accurate! Everyone focuses on the “exciting/different” person/couple in town, talk and create more drama surrounding the topic at hand, because they are bored and that is what small town minds do, and then the next week they forget about it and chose another victim haha. All of the characters were a reflection of the small town characters in any town. Everyone is unique or weird in their own way, and people seem to talk about who ever is the most exciting/strange in that moment.

I have always loved small towns, and will continue to love them, because of this simple aspect.. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. And to really truly laugh about it, you have to not care what people think of you, and never participate even though they will always try to suck you in and pull you down to that level. The author did an excellent job in connecting the reader to the characters in such a short time frame, that is not easy to do. Everyone has their own story and the author communicated this across in a beautiful way. And of course there is always more to it. Definitely a great read, and I recommend this to anyone who loves small towns or is interested in their functioning.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Matthew Drzymala

One of the excellent reviews for this short story.

A Mind-Blowing Ending!  By Jean F. Coldwell on 16 July 2015

“Physician, heal thyself.” This seems to apply to therapists as well. How often do we read of psychiatrists or psychologists whose lives are as screwed up as the lives of their patients? In Matthew Drzymala’s Brainstorm, clinical psychologist Michael Erikkson’s life is out of control. After his parents were killed in a car accident, things snowballed downhill rapidly. Now he has all he can do to make himself presentable and show up for work.

This short story packs a lot of emotion into a few pages. Besides Erikkson and his daughter Casey, there are a couple minor characters, but as revealed by the interactions between Erikkson and Casey and at his office with his secretary, we know that this man has lost himself. He swings between anger, loneliness, depression, and numbness.

But helping people is what he does. It is who he is. When he is called out to talk down a potential “jumper,” in the middle of a stormy night, he is confident, invested, focused, and present for the woman on the bridge. Erikkson is in his element; he is not lost.

He goes home to Casey and tells her where he has been. This leads to an unforeseen ending. I am sure that I gasped out loud, and tears welled up in my eyes. Simply put, I was blown away.I highly recommend this short story to anyone who enjoys reading about the workings of human nature and doesn’t mind experiencing emotion along the way.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

Connect to Matthew


If you would like to join Matthew on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore and enjoy regular updates then here is the link:

Thanks for dropping by and it would be great if you could pass the word about Matthew’s work.. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – The Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk Adventure by Jaq D. Hawkins

I am welcoming a new author to the bookstore today. Fantasy and steampunk author Jaq D. Hawkins.

The Wake of the Dragon is on sale at 99c until tomorrow 15th March.

About Jaq D. Hawkins

Jaq D Hawkins is a published writer with 9 books in publication in the Mind, Body and Spirit field published by Capall Bann Publishing as well as four Fantasy novels in print and E-book; The Goblin Trilogy which consists of Dance of the Goblins, Demoniac Dance, and Power of the Dance (Combined Trilogy edition available in paperback and only on Amazon in ebook form), also the Steampunk book, The Wake of the Dragon, an airship pirate adventure among the opium trade in an alternative history, also available in audiobook. More coming soon.

About The Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk Adventure

No sane airshipman will fly near a storm, but the cover of storm edge offers effective concealment for airship pirates who can strike quickly from above before anyone knows a ship is near. With the protection of Aide, the goddess of air travel, one airship defies the elements to seek fortune for the rag tag aerialists who make up the pirate crew.

The elements are the least of their problems when they find themselves saddled with an airsick clerk, a crewmember suspected of working for the East India Company and a love sick farm girl whose headstrong misconceptions compel her to seek adventure where no decent woman would wander unescorted.

Battling businessmen, mechanoids and villagers armed with torches and pitchforks, Captain Bonny must decide who to trust, and whether the only rational course of action is one of apparent madness.

This is the first steampunk book that I’ve read. I didn’t know a genre like this existed before this book. A friend of mine read the book and felt that I would enjoy it and she was right. I do like steampunk or maybe I like this one.

This book led me on a fantastical, magical world of pirates and floating ships. I felt at times that I was caught in a bit of a spin-off from the movie Stardust and I couldn’t help but have Robert de Niro in my head as Captain Bonny. And a little bit of Jack Sparrow maybe. Like these swashbuckling pirates, Captain Bonny is full of style and bonhomie and is a very entertaining character.

I know that all the characters are larger than life because of the magical setting but each of them is multi layered and interesting. Whether it is the irritating clerk, the stowaway, everyone has their own little story which melds into the whole.

There may not have been much of a plot or rather it is a well used plot, but mix it with the magic and it is raised to a whole new level. And the ending is worth the wait. I think I may be into steampunk after this book. If you’re into steampunk, read this book, you’ll love it. If you have no idea what steampunk is, read it, you’ll love it.

I started to read “The Wake of the Dragon,” without knowing what to expect but was quickly drawn into the tale. The story is beautifully written in a style that seems almost classical, and the adventure it leads the reader on is nothing short of imaginative. The loves, fears and addictions of the main characters help them come to life, making it easy to become caught up in their journey. My favorite part was the steampunk aspect that added a different dimension to the traditional pirate tale. Like sea-going pirate ships, flying dirigibles carry their own dangers, and Captain Bonny certainly pushes the limits of his ship and crew throughout the book. I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone seeking a great adventure—steampunk or otherwise!

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

ON SALE until 15th of March 99cents

A small selection of other books by Jaq D. Hawkins

Read the reviews and buy all the books:

Connect to Jaq D.Hawkins


If you would like to join Jaq and 155 other authors on the shelves of the bookstore then here is how you can:

Thank you for dropping by and it would be great if you could spread the word about Jaq’s work. thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Round up – Bruce Springsteen, Book Readings, Creative Artists and Top to Toe.

Welcome to this round up of posts during the week and a second chance for me to showcase the guests and authors and bloggers who have featured.

This blog is sustained by the everyone who comes to visit whether as a guest or to view the posts. I am not very good at talking to myself and whilst I love to write it is so much more satisfying when it is read.  So a huge thank you for stopping by and collaborating with me here.

Special thanks to William Price King for his new series on the iconic legend that is Bruce Springsteen. I have most of his music and since working on the new series I have been playing my favourite tracks and also revisiting some of his earlier work. I was only 17 when his career began and we in the UK were behind when it came to appreciating his work. I must have been in my early 20s when Born to Run hit the charts in 1975 and I have been hooked since then. Part two this coming Wednesday.

Paul Andruss is now firmly into his tenure as Writer in Residence and in addition to new and exclusive posts for the blog every three weeks, he has opened up his archives so that we can also enjoy some of his earlier posts in the intervening weeks.  This week it is an original in the form of Dorothy – My Gift from God.  At a time when Paul was in need of a work mum, Dot stepped in to offer a shoulder and a sense of humour that lifted his spirits. I am sure that when you read the post you will identify someone in your life who has occupied a similar role.

The new interactive interviews are going very well and I am delighted that so many are takiing the opportunity to ask their own questions of the guests. There are two formats for Creative Artists across every talent and the Book Reading in the Cafe for authors. Earlier in the week storyteller Raili Tanska who lives in Australia shared her live and work with us and you can still ask her questions in the link below. Yesterday author, poet and blogger Sue Vincent was in the hot seat and is looking forward to responding to you.

I would like to remind you that your participation is always valued and that if you are an author the Cafe and Bookstore with its various promotions is there for you.

If you are a blogger and would like to share your most recent post then all you have to do is let me know. Either in the comments section of the Smorgasbord Blogger Daily or by email

But for now it is time for a recap of the week’s posts…. enjoy.

New Series William Price King meets some Legends – Bruce Springsteen.

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss – Dorothy – My Gift from God

Creative Artist Interview – with Raili Tanska of Soul Gifts – still open for questions.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview – Sue Vincent – still open for questions.

The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin – My father-in-law’s stories of life in Waterford in the 1920s onwards.      Chapter Two  Chapter Three Chapter Four

Book Promotions – How to get the best out of a book promotion here or any blog.

Book promotions are more effective with a joint effort and to get the most out of them you need to have some basic essentials in place. Help me to share your work.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Author Update

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Another 25 bloggers in the spotlight.

Health – Top to Toe – Heart Health

Smorgasbord Health 2017   Dandruff

Personal Stuff

A look back at some exceptional people doing ordinary things is an inspiring way.


Thank you again for being part of my week.. look forward to seeing you again. Sally


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Modern Waste by Marc D. Crepeaux


The new featured author today is Marc D. Crepeaux and his novel Modern Waste, a thriller set in a small town in north Georgia.

413uvvutltl-_uy250_About the book

Modern Waste is a thrilling adventure of deception, murder, and corruption in a small town in north Georgia. The town’s gangs and old families control the county and its police. A rival from another town is taking over, and war is breaking out. As the title suggests, the book is filled with lives thrown away, and futures desecrated. This is about part of modern society that is often lost, people that live in the middle. They are on the fringe, between lawlessness and legitimacy.

A selection of reviews for the book

Fast-Paced and Intense  ByJ_T_D on September 30, 2014

If you’re looking for black and white crime fiction dripping with romanticism look elsewhere. “Modern Waste” is set in the backwoods of North Georgia far removed from the comfort and sterility of the suburbs, in a world both more genuine and more disturbing than the overstimulated non-stop race to nowhere of modern life. It’s set in places where many people are only a generation removed from honest work that’s now in short supply and drugs are a perfect solution for the bored and the broke. It’s about a reality where doing the right thing requires doing the wrong things. I liked how the action kept flowing with just enough detail to draw me into their world and left me yearning for more.

Grit your teeth and inhale the smoke of Modern Waste! By Amazon Customer on November 2, 2015

I couldn’t help but feel like I knew the narrator as I consumed the pages. Even more eerily, I felt like he really knew me. If you’re a delicate Lilly living in denial then you’re in the wrong place. If you’ve forgotten to pick the kids up from school because you were caught in the throes of a good plot then call your Mema and tell her what time they get out, because you’re headed to Rome Georgia and like many others before, you won’t be returning directly.

Beautiful, Violent, Sad, and Just Great! By Kevin Lintner on August 11, 2015

“Modern Waste” is a dark and intelligent thriller that captures the reader’s attention right from the start and keeps it all of the way through the book. The story while riddled with sadness, never drags and does not rely on cliches and predictable plot devices. This is a character driven tale and the characters are the standout. From Vince, a drug kingpin to the members of a rival drug organization to the corrupt local law, every character that graces these pages is fully developed and has a purpose to advance the story. If you are a fan of the gritty crime stories by Elmore Leonard, especially “Fire In The Hole” which spawned the TV series Justified, you will love this story. “Modern Waste” is just as entertaining, but is much more elegiac, serving as a funeral song for an area and its residents seemingly forgotten by the rest of world.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Marc D. Crepeaux


This collection of poetry, prose and art is a salute and celebration of the modern American worker. Generations of unrecognized heroes who wash our cars, mow our lawns, bake our bread, douse our fires, take out our garbage, teach our kids, grow our food, build our houses, mend our roads, and defend our freedom.The American Dream is still there for all of them, hidden in plain sight, riddled with confusion and abandonment.

One of the reviews for the collection

Some of these poems spoke directly to my heart. “The Dreaded Interview”, I got my teaching degree late in life and had to go to what seemed like hundreds of interview before I finally got my first teaching job… only to have to start all over the following year. “Where Testosterone Flows”, I know this was suppose to be a bonding between a father and his son, it still brought back many memories of my father and his daughter, me. All the projects started and many never finished, the tools sitting on top of the china cabinet waiting to be put away, but we may need them again soon. Thank you so much for helping me relive my past. 

51isfpzk0el-_uy250_Marc’s latest project is a collaborative anthology that he also edited. Letters Never Meant to be Read by Marc Crepeaux (Author, Editor), Kristi Denker (Author), Joel Dockery (Author), Brandon Lawrence (Author), Meghan Rynn (Author)

Have you ever wanted to write a letter to that guy or gal you brushed up against on the train? How about that lost love or the friend that did you wrong? The family member who never really saw you? The teacher or boss who declined to see your worth? What about the person you wished you had thanked? Letters that the writers had no intention of ever sending, this collection of salty rants and unspoken melodies has been curated for the entire world to marvel upon. This book offers a hard glimpse into the perspective and time of the letter writer. If you do have any letters of your own, send them, signed or anonymous. Correspondence will always be considered for the next collection. We dare you…

Raw on January 9, 2017

This is single handedly the best book I have read in the past year. I do not typically enjoy reading non-fiction but this raw exposed book felt like a work of fiction. It had some of the Go Ask Alice type vibes. It is also fantastically edited not something I have come to expect from indie authors. This book was AMAZING. I can’t wait for volume 2. 

Read the reviews and buy the collection:


About Marc D. Crepeaux

Marc D. Crepeaux is a curator, editor and writer for Letters Never Meant to be Read. Marc has also authored the gritty, Southern crime novel Modern Waste and the poetry collection Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common. He is from Killawog, NY and spent much of his late-teens and early twenties in NYC where he acted like a maniac. He now works as an English teacher and a Captain in the Army Reserves, among other entrepreneurial endeavors, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing. Marc lives in a more calming environment with his wife, two daughters, two dogs, and two fish in Rome, GA.

Connect to Marc.


I hope you have enjoyed meeting Marc and it would be great if you could share. If you would like to be part of Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore then do take a look at how you can do that. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – A Bhikku’s Tale by David R. Jordan


The featured author today is David R. Jordan who latest book A Bhikku’s Tale was released on Febuary 27th 2017.

51zbeiywwsl-_sx311_bo1204203200_About A Bhikku’s Tale

Bhikku Reilly of Fararden Wood has defeated the mad god Morpheo’s dragon with the help of Red City’s shaman, Murray. Now they face a much harder task.

In a fight with Cernunnos, Morpheo has broken off a piece of antler from the horned god, which gives him immeasurable power over the natural world. Reilly and Murray, together with the Green Man, the Sybarite and the ghost girl, Tracy, must pursue the mad god and stop him from taking over the whole country of Inis Fail.

Their journey takes them to the Otherworld and back again, crossing the paths of many colourful characters and strange creatures.

 Buy the book:

Also by David Jordan

41ihkjujl9l-_uy250_About The Chronicles of Dan Lee O’Brien

These stories place Irish mythology into a modern context by following the adventures of the anti-hero, Dan Lee O’Brien, a pipe smoking, trench coat wearing, bike riding magician and investigator of the supernatural. An older, more laid back John Constantine, Dan Lee is the man for all things strange and Otherworldly.

 The most recent review for the book.

A great collection of short stories  By Eoin Jordan on 13 Sept. 2016

A great collection of short, and not so short stories. Jordan beautifully executes the idea that the Ancient Celtic Gods and mythological creatures still live among us, and in some cases shape our everyday lives, in a very interesting way. Oddly enough, even though the book does delve into the realm of fantasy, it is very cleverly written and therefore never appears to stray too far from the real world. The central character is a very likeable individual who works with and helps the Ancient Gods whenever they need him to, and these adventures make up the bulk of the stories here.

I know the author of old, and it was a pleasant surprise to discover that he had written and published a book. It was an even more pleasant surprise to discover that it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

413w-g-gv9l-_uy250_The End

These powerful, accessible poems blend humour and wisdom with energy and imagination to render an impressive debut. Full of music and vision, the collection will appeal to both lovers of poetry and music.

Read the reviews and buy the books:


About David. R. Jordan

I’m writing out of Cork, Ireland, where I was born and bred. As well as writing fiction and poetry I play the bass guitar. Steve Harris from Iron Maiden is my bass god. My favourite author is either WB Yeats or James Joyce – I can’t decide which, but I also love popular fiction, especially dark fantasy: Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Alan Moore are all huge influences on my writing.

I love to quote. My current favourite quote is by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘You need to have some chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’

I love dogs, the great outdoors and coffee. My favourite film is A River Runs Through It. My favourite song is Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix.

Connect to David.


If you would like to feature in a book promotion here on Smorgasbord here is the link:

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news of David’s latest book.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Not by Design – Getting to Mr. Right Series by Carol Balawyder


Delighted to welcome Carol Balawyder to the Cafe and Bookstore with an introduction to her books. The main feature is the most recent in her series Getting to Mr. Right – Not by Design.


About the Book

In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.

Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.

Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

Just two of the reviews for the book.

When I began reading Not By Design, I expected it to be a twist on a traditional romance novel but was delightfully surprised to find it was much more than just a variation of the conventional romance. Felicity left her father’s company in Montreal and moved to Rome to pursue her career in art causing a rift between Felicity and her father that could not be healed. While in Rome, she found love and a proposal of marriage, along with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Marco, her fiance, learned of her diagnosis, he said, “Arrivederci.” Frightened about what was in store for her in the future, Felicity decided to move back to Montreal where she could have health insurance and be near her life long friends Missi, Suzy, and Campbell. But what frightens her the most is whether or not with her diagnosis, will she ever be able to find true love.

The characters were true to life, and as much as I loved Felicity from the start, I equally disliked Marco. Felicity had a love-hate relationship with her mother Nicole in the beginning, but I was happy to see some of the walls between them torn down and a much better mother-daughter relationship take hold. I love characters that serve to lift up a friend or family member. Missi, Suzy, and Campbell convince her to get a puppy and a cane. Her friend Eduardo, who ran an art gallery, and her new found friend Jeff who walked his dog Clyde at the same dog park where Felicity walked her dog Bonnie, all figure into Felicity’s acceptance of her multiple sclerosis and her outlook on the future.

Third in Carol’s Getting to Mr. Right series, this continues the adventures of Felicity Starr as she continues her struggle to find contentment in a tumultuous world. Thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is caught up in a flurry of wedding plans to a man she subconsciously (and sometimes more) is unsure of when calamity strikes. Her father’s sudden death and her struggles with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis prove too much for her fiancee and he leaves her. Daunted but unbroken, Felicity finds strength in these unexpected changes and prepares to embrace a world of new truths.

This is a story so many young women will relate to. Told with the honesty we’ve become used to from Carol Balawyder, she gives us a template for surviving this type of life-changing events. If your life is in turmoil, or if it’s taken directions you didn’t expect, this is the book you should read.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Carol Balawyder

gettingtomrright_kindle_small15 51pqvjnxvxl-_uy250_ 41u05mj2lal-_uy250_ mourning-has-brokenRead all the reviews and buy the books:


About Carol Balawyder

Carol was born in Quebec but now lives in Montreal. After studying Early Childhood Education and spending time amongst the mayhem that is called ‘Kindergarten’, she then went on to obtain a B.A. in Education so that she could teach in High Schools. After the often challenging task of introducing poetry to teenagers Carol moved on to teaching English as a second language.

Fast forward through a trip in her early 20s (involved working passage on a Norwegian cargo ship) to Rotterdam and then to the British Library Museum to read the heavily guarded original Lewis Carroll manuscript of Alice in Wonderland. Then on to Concordia University in Montreal to study Applied Linguistics to M.A level and the publication of ESL books Open For Business and Windows on Sci-Tech under the name of Carol Ann Foumier.

Then came the desire to pen crime novels, and aware that it is expected that these be accurate and factual, Carol obtained a M.Sc. in Criminology. However writing crime stories was put on the back burner, as Carol put her degree to good use, teaching Police Technology and Corrections for 18 years in a college in Montreal. (We all know where to go when we have a crime story line that is not panning out!)

For some people the connection between crime and dating is all too apparent particularly when getting back on the dating scene after a divorce. After a long term relationship the prospect can be daunting and fraught with pitfalls, humour if you can find it and perhaps the need to kiss a lot of frogs.

Connect to Carol.

Goodreads –
Smashwords –
Website –

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Greenbeard the Pirate Pig by Andrea Torrey Balsara


Today I am welcoming Andrea Torrey Balsara to the Cafe and Bookstore with her children’s book Greenbeard the Pirate Pig.


About the book

Ahoy, my Piggywinkles!

Sail into adventure with GREENBEARD the guinea pig pirate, as Snug Rumkin, Greenbeard’s ratty first mate, tries to teach him how to be a “proper” pirate!

Some of the reviews for the book.

on December 7, 2016

This is a wonderful, fanciful little story, (complete with a pirate song!), that is perfect for guinea pig lovers, and animal lovers of all kinds! Our children adore the tale of Greenbeard the Pirate Pig, (whose beard has turned green due to his lettuce-eating proclivities), and they love Snug Rumkin, the sailor rat, too.

(Our son enjoyed this story so thoroughly that he actually named one of his stuffed animals after Snug Rumkin!) Crafted in a style that is part graphic novel and part fairy tale, Andrea Torrey Balsara has done a fabulous job of capturing the spirit of the inspired explorer through Greenbeard the Pirate Pig. Even when faced with the pragmatism and cynicism of others, Greenbeard always maintains an indomitable spirit and a persevering outlook.

Our family eagerly awaits Greenbeard’s next voyage, and we’ll be keeping a lookout for the sequel!

As the owners of two adorable guinea pigs, my kidswere thrilled to have a children’s book starring one!” Ashleigh,

“It really truly was a fun-tastic read from start to finish….You’ll follow the dashing pig from his homey garden outinto the world as he proves that there is nothing able tostop determination, a little luck and a great attitude.Gina,

Buy the book:


Details of all of Andrea’s published and illustrated work can be found here:

unnamedAbout Andrea Torrey Balsara

When she was little and had to go to bed, Andrea Torrey Balsara would carefully arrange stuffed animals around her bed to protect her from the Creature-Who-Lives-Under-The-Bed. Since she has grown, she has had many real animal friends: a retired racing greyhound named Jasper, a sweet but toothless rescued stray cat named Sammy, a rat named Frodo, and two sweet guinea pigs. They are all remembered and well-loved (and show up in stories and illustrations from time to time).

These days, Andrea’s family includes her patient and wonderful husband and two daughters, two cats named Tiger and Snowy, and two shelter dogs named Oliver and Maisie. With such wonderful company, the Creature-Who-Lives-Under-The-Bed doesn’t bother her anymore.

Not much, anyway.

The inspiration for GREENBEARD came from Andrea’s guinea pigs: Petunia, a fierce, lettuce-loving pig whose blonde chin-fur turned green when she ate lettuce (pictured above at right); and her mate Piggy, a sweet, gentle pig (above left). Alas, both Petunia and Piggy have gone to the happy alfalfa grounds in the sky, but their memories live on in the adventures of GREENBEARD THE PIRATE PIG!

Andrea Torrey Balsara is the author of many books and is a self-taught artist who has recently switched from watercolor to digital media for illustrating. All of the illustrations for GREENBEARD THE PIRATE PIG were done using Corel Painter and a Wacom digital tablet.

Connect to Andrea


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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves -Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story In Music by Jessica Duchen


Today the featured author is Jessica Duchen and delighted to welcome her to the Cafe and Bookstore. Ghost Variations is her latest release in September 2016 and is the strangest detective story in the history of music – inspired by a true incident.

517rcilm0bl-_uy250_A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds.

1933. Dabbling in the fashionable “Glass Game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartók, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto.

She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the “spirit messengers” do not want her to forget.

The concerto turns out to be real, embargoed by Schumann’s family for fear that it betrayed his mental disintegration: it was his last full-scale work, written just before he suffered a nervous breakdown after which he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. It shares a theme with his Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) for piano, a melody he believed had been dictated to him by the spirits of composers beyond the grave.

As rumours of its existence spread from London to Berlin, where the manuscript is held, Jelly embarks on an increasingly complex quest to find the concerto. When the Third Reich’s administration decides to unearth the work for reasons of its own, a race to perform it begins.

Though aided and abetted by a team of larger-than-life personalities – including her sister Adila Fachiri, the pianist Myra Hess, and a young music publisher who falls in love with her – Jelly finds herself confronting forces that threaten her own state of mind. Saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself.

In the ensuing psychodrama, the heroine, the concerto and the pre-war world stand on the brink, reaching together for one more chance of glory.

The most recent review for the book.

Very engaging By CathyR on 24 Feb. 2017

Ghost Variations is created from real people and true events which occurred during their lives; history dramatised into a rich and enchanting narrative.

Jelly d’Arányi, the central character, is a renowned Hungarian violinist, living in 1930s London with her sister, Adila and her family. Jelly has been the muse for several famous composers and is dedicated to her music, to the exclusion of her personal life, especially since she lost the man she loved at the Battle of the Somme during WWI. The sisters have lived in London since Jelly was sixteen and now as she approaches her fortieth birthday, Jelly is aware she is (unfairly) considered past her prime as a musician.

Adila’s close friend, Baron Erik Palmstierna, is involved in aspects of psychic research and spiritualism, and often play what they call ‘the glass game’, a form of the Ouija board. It was during one of these sessions, with Adila, Jelly (against her better judgement) and her assistant, Anna, that a message came through about a lost violin concerto by Robert Schumann.

This is an extraordinary and vividly written story when, as the author says, the truth is stranger than fiction. That the concerto should come to light in such a fashion is incredible. Jelly is finding the changes, within herself and the distant rumblings in Europe, difficult to come to terms with. How can there be another war, and so soon? Finding the concerto becomes Jelly’s quest and her lifeline.

Jelly is a very sympathetic and engaging character, not without flaws, but warm-hearted and genuine. Her kindness is shown in her behaviour toward Anna and the free cathedral concerts she performed to allow music and pleasure into the lives of those less fortunate. Jessica Duchen brings the characters to life and captures the atmosphere of the era perfectly. I like the realistic way Jelly’s life as a touring musician is portrayed and her intense enthusiasm for her craft despite the hardships.

The story is told mostly from Jelly’s perspective in the third person, with several segments from Ulli Schultheiss, a music publisher from Germany (one of the few fictional characters) who falls under Jelly’s spell during his stay in London. Persuaded to help in the liberation of the concerto, Ulli returns to Germany only to be met with a wall of bureaucracy, followed by interference by the Third Reich who wish to use the manuscript for their own purposes.

There are several subjects in this intriguing story which give pause for thought, not least the restrictions placed on women; the choice between career or family and the fact women were not allowed to attend certain of the better institutes of learning. The impending Nazi threat and the resulting fascism and growing prejudice against Jews is represented in all its horror. At its heart a touching, sensitively told story creating a wonderful read.

I chose to read and review Ghost Variations for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy from the author.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Jessica Duchen.

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Read all the reviews and buy the books:


 About Jessica Duchen

Jessica is a versatile author with a musical bias. Her output includes novels, biographies, plays, words&music projects, poetry for musical setting, music journalism and more. Born in London, she studied music at Cambridge and piano with Joan Havill.

Her novels often focus on the cross-currents between family generations, with music a recurring theme. The latest, GHOST VARIATIONS, is “the strangest detective story in music”, based on the true story of the bizarre rediscovery, and Nazi propaganda conscription, of Schumann’s long-suppressed violin concerto.

Jessica’s biographies of the composers Gabriel Fauré and Erich Wolfgang Korngold for Phaidon’s 20th Century Composers series have met with wide acclaim. Her writing has appeared in in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, as well as BBC Music Magazine and Opera News, among other publications. Her music blog “JDCMB”,, has attracted more than 2m readers.

She is now writing an opera libretto, SILVER BIRCH, for the composer Roxanna Panufnik – a commission for Garsington Opera 2017. Her play A WALK THROUGH THE END OF TIME often pops up at music festivals to introduce Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and has been performed by actor teams including Harriet Walter & Henry Goodman and Janet Suzman & Michael Pennington.

Jessica lives in London with her violinist husband and two big fluffy cats. She loves long walks, cooking, ballet, theatre and scouring second-hand bookshops for out-of-print musical gems. Special passions include Russian literature and Nordic Noir.

Connect to Jessica on her website and social media.

Facebook (author page): and book page

Thank you for dropping in and please do help spread the news about Ghost Variations far and wide. Thank you Sally.

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