Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – July 5th -11th 2020 – Josh Groban, Mango, Pigeons, Dublin 1944, Books, Health and Laughter


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

It has been a very mixed week as far as the weather is concerned. However, I was in and out more times than a cat, grabbing the odd ten minutes of sunshine here and there. It can change in a second with rain in the back garden and sunshine still in the front. There are a lot worse places to live, particularly during a pandemic as it is easier to avoid 5 million people than it is 65 million. Especially when there is more rural space.

Apart from my daily ins and outs, I also had my first hair appointment this week. I go to a family owned hairdresser and they certainly have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to prepare the salon for clients. I was wearing my own mask, but had my temperature checked once I was allowed in. A young assistant was kept busy disinfecting chairs, basins and stations between customers, and we all wore disposable gowns and the same with the towels. Thank goodness that despite the rule about no tea or coffee, and no magazines, we could still chat and it was great to catch up with my stylist Sam and her experiences over the last four months.

It feels great to have some shape back into my hair and if I can bring myself to put on some makeup on the next sunny day, I might get a new profile photo done… don’t hold your breath on either event …!

Now to the week….

I am very aware that I don’t get around to as many blogs as I would like on a daily basis and as I plan to get down to finishing the new book I am writing in August.. I thought it would be a good time to get the new Posts from Your Archives up and running. With the added bonus that I get to browse your blog archives from the last six months and catch up on all your great posts.

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 900 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history and the most recent series was on any aspect about family.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the first six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts.

So what is different about this series?

  • This time, rather than you send me two links to posts from your blog archives, all I need you to do is give me permission to dive in myself and find two posts to share here on Smorgasbord.
  • Rather than a set topic, I will select posts at random across a number of subjects from the first six months of 2020.
  • As I will be promoting your books as part of the post along with all your information and links so I will not be sharing direct marketing or self- promotional posts in the series.
  • If you are an author I am sure you will have a page on your blog with the details, and an ‘about page’ with your profile and social media links (always a good idea anyway). I will get everything that I need.
  • As a blogger I would assume that you have an ‘about page’ a profile photo and your links to social media.
  • Copyright is yours and I will ©Your name on every post… and you will be named as the author in the URL and subject line.
  • Previous participants are very welcome to take part again.

N.B – To get the maximum benefit from your archive posts, the only thing I ask is that you respond to comments individually.. thank you.

To show how your post will look when featured… please head over to the post with an example from the Friends and Family archive posts earlier in the year. Jacquie Biggar with the story of her grandson and his brave approach to his Type I diabetes.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??

William Price King is on his summer break which is a very busy time and his is offline, but I will be sharing some previous artists and every other week a Summer Music Festival… no mud, or portaloos…just good music. Some from William’s column and some from my own playlists. William sends his best wishes and apologises for not being able to respond to your comments.

This week Carol Taylor cooks up a storm as she showcases the letter ‘M’ in food and culinary terms…and there are plenty of books on show to overload your TBR’s

I am in the last three weeks of the series Meet the Authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and hopefully all your details will then be up to date… if you are in the cafe and have not yet been featured.. don’t worry everyone will be included..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban – Part Two

Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘M’ is for Mayonnaise, Mango, Mousse, Morels, Khao Neow Manuang and Marengo

Chapter Nine – The Boy, his Dog and a Fairy Princess

Geoff leaves Waterford for the bright lights of Dublin and the adventures of being a boarder with other lads of the infamous Mrs Keller….

The Colour of Life The Digs In Dublin 1944

A Haiku and some examples of my late father-in-law’s wonderful wood carving.

#Ireland Tree Stumps by Sally Cronin

Letters from America 1985-1987 – June 1985 – Photos from Disney Adventure, Alone in America, Television Fitness Classes

Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part one)

dandelion

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion

A Year in the Life of Leah Brand: A #Psychological Thriller by Lucinda E. Clarke

Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#DoubleEtheree – The Visitor

#Fantasy – Jack Hughes & Thomas the Rhymer (Book 1) by Paul Andruss

#DarkHumour Someday Everything Will All Make Sense by Carol LaHines

#Dystopian – Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

#Fantasy – Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1) by D.Wallace Peach

#YAParanormalFantasy, Heather Kindt, #HistoricalMystery Amy M. Reade, #Children’s Janice Spina

#Contemporary Olga Nunez Miret, #Poetry Frank Prem, #Poetry Balroop Singh

#Romance Linda Bradley, #Fantasy Audrey Driscoll, #YAAdventure Darlene Foster.

#Shortstories Cathy Cade, #Historical Noelle Granger, #SouthernSaga Claire Fullerton

#YAFantasy Kevin Cooper, #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards, #Historical Apple Gidley

#Memoir Chuck Jackson, #Memoir Brigid Gallagher, #ShortStories Anne Goodwin

#1920s Elizabeth Gauffreau, #History Paul Edmondson, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 7th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 9th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Irish Weather The Musical with International guests presented by I.V.E Mildew… AKA Herself.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from a Previous Book- #Fantasy – Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1) by D.Wallace Peach


The next author to share a review from one of her prevous books is D.Wallace Peach for Soul Swallowers  (The Shattered Sea Book 1)

About the book

When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness.

Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul.

When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head.

Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.

***

In this completed series, epic fantasy blends with the wisdom of old souls to create a unique coming of age story of courage and honor in the midst of evil. Slavery is pitted against freedom, anger against forgiveness, and a desire to live peacefully against the necessity to take up the sword.

It’s a story of bitter estrangement and broken hearts, of deception and unfettered ambition. For Raze Anvrell it’s a journey of violence, redemption, and his soul’s growth as he transforms from a reckless youth into a man with a rich legacy of souls.

Magic, politics, love, and madness collide in this fantasy adventure. For lovers of beauty and battle, and complex characters willing to risk everything in the fight for their souls.

An extract from Soul Swallowers

Winter monsoons scoured the freehold with less ferocity and the days lengthened. Spring arrived later than in Kestrel, but it climbed up the Ravenwood foothills nonetheless. Raze finished a tisane brewed of dried mint from Lanya’s garden. Sleep eluded him, and he lingered alone by the hearth, the remainder of the freehold tucked beneath woolen blankets. In no mood for company, the solitude suited him. Briyon’s soul catcher dangled from a cord twisted through his fingers.

Labor had filled the long daylight hours of grief, and his body ached. The freehold thrived, buildings in good repair, a new room on the cabin, expanded pastures, the start of an orchard, a growing herd of palfreys. Briyon had accomplished every goal and then died, leaving Raze to fend for himself.

Lanya and Vax had puttered through the day’s heartbreak and allowed him his space, and when Lanya retired to her room, the sound of her weeping seeped through the cracks in her door. She and Briyon had shared an intimate fondness over the years, and Raze didn’t envy her sorrow.

His grief unearthed old ghosts, his mother among them, an ageless portrait suspended in the gallery of his mind. Not so his memories of Mirelle. Those lingered with infinite fluidity, entangled with visions of the past and dreams of a future that would never be. Six years had shuffled by since her death, five since he’d joined Briyon at the freehold, and yet he’d found no lever long or strong enough to pry her from his heart. Loneliness punched the breath from his lungs and sapped the strength from his back. At twenty-two, he was master of the freehold, a tired soul, angry at a world he couldn’t control.

He rolled the pendant over in his hand, keenly aware of its delicate beauty. The white soulstone had transformed, no longer solid but translucent with pale tendrils of color swirling like morning mist. Copper wire, no hardier than a strand of hair, coiled around it, holding a round sliver of amber in place with a final twist of two tiny leaves. It glowed with soft light, indicating the presence of a soul. A soul he loved.

With great care, he unhooked the tiny copper leaves, unwound the wire, and removed the brown gem capping a small hole. Inside, an iridescent sphere resembling a pearl shone with a brilliance that startled him. Were all souls so bright? He didn’t know, this soul-catcher his first. He rolled it into his hand. Would he swallow it? Did he want what Briyon offered? Was there anything to fear?

The sphere glimmered in his palm, sharing no insight. He placed it back into the pendant. No need to choose, no decision pressing him to act with haste. The round gem refitted, he coiled the wires, paused, and then uncoiled them. In one fluid motion, he uncapped the pendant, tipped the luminous pearl into his mouth, and swallowed.

A rush of heat streamed up from his belly through his heart and into his head. It coursed down his limbs to his fingertips and toes. His body trembled, the sensation alien but not frightening, and it subsided as quickly as it overtook him. Eyes closed, he accepted Briyon’s soul. In the quiet of night, he exhaled a long breath, crept to bed, and dreamed another man’s dreams.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This book is like finding a rare and lovely color while combing a beach for seaglass. It makes you glad you took the effort to scope out indie books in the first place.

Soul Swallowers opens with a bang – an arranged marriage and a bold act of defiance in the first two pages – and it scarcely lets up from there. There are slow scenes that explore characters and setting, but they are spaced perfectly and add flavor to the epic. The world is believable and well defined, with an interesting political landscape. There’s a sizeable number of characters with points of view that come together to tell an exciting story. Most importantly to me, the essential characters are likeable.

I already intend to pick up the sequel for my next read.  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

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

Read the reviews for buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Diana: Goodreads

About D. Wallace Peach

I didn’t care for reading as a child – I preferred Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns, Saturday morning cartoons and the Ed Sullivan show. Then one day, I opened a book titled The Hobbit. Tolkien … literally changed my life.

I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem untethered in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.

Connect to Diana

Blog: Myths of the Mirror
Facebook: Myths of the Mirror
Twitter: @Dwallacepeach

My thanks to Diana for sharing this extract from Soul Swallowers and I hope you will head over to buy the book.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your latest book – #Dystopian – Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie


Today Alex Craigie shares an extract from her dystopian novel Acts of Convenience.

About the book

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

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

I know; it’s an unlikely scenario.

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

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

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

An extract from Acts of Convenience – Chapter 8 – 2025

The Health Secretary pauses outside the Prime Minister’s office. In her hand she carries a slim notebook and a file of neat, colour-coded papers. She smooths down her skirt, checks her hair with a light patting of her palm and then knocks on the door with the knuckle of her middle finger. The curt ‘Come in’ is barely uttered before she enters and approaches the massive desk on shoes that manage to combine no-nonsense business sense with high fashion.

She delivers her patter.

‘Prime Minister, I have here some research carried out by my office regarding the consequences of the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill. As you know, the results have been overwhelmingly positive with very few examples of people abusing the power it confers.’ She pauses. The Prime Minister was only elected three months ago but has had a wealth of cabinet experience under his belt to draw from. He understands the system and motions her to continue.

‘Another statistic has been drawn to my attention. I have just sent you an email with all the details, but I also have the hard copies here.’

She spreads out the colour-coded sheets across the gleaming surface of the desk. A perfectly manicured, crimson nail taps at the page that holds centre position.

‘You see here, and here and here. The Health Service has made considerable savings through no longer having to care for unresponsive patients who are only being kept alive by expensive technology and dedicated staff. If I can draw your attention here,’ the nail hovers over one of the other sheets before resting at the bottom of a column of figures, ‘you can see how much has been saved during the last three years in London alone.’

The Prime Minister leans forward, interest piqued.

The Minister for Health continues her slick campaign. ‘We spend a huge proportion of the budget on prolonging the lives of dementia sufferers. Care homes across the country are struggling to keep pace with the increasing demand for places. Many of these people with dementia, are unaware of their surroundings, unable to express themselves and in a living hell from which there is no escape.’

A faint grunt encourages her on.

‘The latest documentary on Our World Today showed these wretches squealing and crying out, desperately unhappy and hopelessly confused.’ She tries to muffle her excitement at what’s to come.

‘We’ve all seen the letters in the press, and the posts on social media, from relatives of people with advanced dementia. They speak of their distress at seeing those they love suffering dreadfully and with no hope of improvement.’

She stops and hopes that her pitch hasn’t been overdramatic and that she hasn’t overplayed the ‘poor wretches’ card.

The Prime Minister looks up, an inkling of what’s to come in the glittering of his eyes. The Health Secretary picks up on the favourable mood and drives home her scheme.

‘In collaboration with the major hospitals in the country, we’ve come up with a proposal that will end the plight of those who are incurably ill and insensible to their surroundings, while at the same time freeing much-needed beds and finance for younger people who are on lengthy waiting lists for urgent surgery.’

She takes a deep breath. ‘And so, we propose another euthanasia Bill that will allow medical staff–– and I do stress only medical staff –– to determine when a dementia sufferer has lost all contact with reality and is experiencing nothing but discomfort and unhappiness. If the medical staff conclude that the quality of life is no longer tenable, and we will insist on no less than three being in agreement on any one patient to rule out errors or abuse, then they will be permitted to painlessly bring the life to an end.’ She adds, ‘After family have been informed and allowed to pay their last respects, of course.’

The Prime Minister sits back, fingers tenting while his mind races through the ramifications of the proposal. ‘And you say that the hospitals are for this?’

‘Yes, Prime Minister.’

‘What proportion of the letters arising from the Our World Today item is in favour of bringing an end to suffering in this way, would you say?’

‘An overwhelming majority, sir. In the region of seventy-eight percent, I believe. Viewers say that they find it upsetting when they visit someone who no longer recognises them and who is clearly and irrationally upset.’ She bends across the table and her voice drops a little, conspiratorial. ‘Some are also, of course, quite reasonably concerned at the costs involved in keeping relatives in these homes and the eroding away of their inheritance as a consequence. This column here,’ the nail stabs at the figures, ‘shows the average cost of a place in a middle-rated home.’ The Prime Minister tips forward again. The patter continues.

‘That is the cost per week.’ The sudden in-drawing of breath is a satisfying response. She has him, and the rest of the country will follow suit in due course.

One of the reviews for the book on Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Alex Craigie

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Alex: Goodreads

About Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

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

Since her birth in Sunderland, she has moved house fourteen times. The last move was to Pembrokeshire in 1986 with her husband and their three children under the age of four. They knew within that first week that they wouldn’t be going anywhere else.

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

Trish has had two books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Both books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the NHS at its heart.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.

Book lovers are welcome to contact her on alexcraigie@aol.com

Connect to Alex Craigie via: Facebook

Thank you for dropping in today and if you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and would like to share an extract from your most recent book.. then check out your entry: The Cafe and Bookstore – Free book promotion – and then the post about how to submit your extract: Share an Extract

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – June 28th – July 4th 2020 – Music Festival, Book Covers, Fairy Stories, Poetry, Book Reviews and Author Promotions


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

Thanks very much for joining me today and I hope that everyone is still staying safe as the world emerges in a more unrestrained way… Today in the UK is going to be interesting, as though the British to do not officially celebrate July 4th, it is a great excuse to have a party. With the pubs opening along with hairdressers and unessential shops, it is going to make for an opportunity for much mingling, however many social distancing measures are in place.

The infection is still in the community and even here in Ireland people are still wearing masks when shopping and in close proximity to others. Despite my love of adventure… I will be taking things slowly for the next few weeks.

In the meantime life goes on and the weeks seem to fly by as they always have. The Irish weather this week has been at its variable best with autumnal high and cold winds and plenty of rain.  Apparently sunny tomorrow, so if you don’t see me around the usually haunts you will know where to find me….in the garden.

The Meet the Authors series is still running for another two weeks at least as I feature the last 30 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with their bios and links. When that is completed I will be looking at other options to help promote the books and will let you know about them in due course.

Just a some reminders about the promotions for the Cafe and Bookstore

Their purpose is to provide a consistent and free book marketing service for all authors in the Cafe, to my readers on the blog and to my social media networks.

They work better if the authors featured share on one or more of their own social media, particularly when they are multi-author promotions. I do this because I love to promote the hard work that goes into not just writing a book but the editing, cover design and creativity. However, it does make it easier and more worthwhile to be honest, if authors participate.

The one critical action that I ask is that comments are responded to individually as it does help to encourage readers to buy books. To that end I have made things as simple as possible. I only approve the first comment made by a visitor to the blog and after that there are no filters.

Later in the week a post about the new series of Posts from your Archives starting in August. So far in the last two and a half years there have been 1100 posts featured in this ongoing series…all with an opportunity to showcase books and other creative work. Looking forward to taking that figure up to 1500 in the rest of the year… details on Friday.

On with the shows from the week…

William Price King is off for the summer but we have decided to put on a Summer Music Festival with a mixture of music from William’s previous series and some tracks from my own playlists..

Smorgasbord Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Johnny Mathis, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys

The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Tales from the Garden Chapter Eight -The Goose and the Lost Boy

#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Work on a Timber Gang – 1942 by Geoff Cronin

#Eagles – Regal Hunter by Sally Cronin – Image by Tofino Photography

Letters from America 1985-1987 – June 1985 – Thunderstorms Texas style, Pool Antics and Birth Coach on Standby

© 2020 Frank J. Tassone

Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge – #Haibun – The Long Drop by Sally Cronin

#Poetry – Rescue and Redemption Poetry inspired by the T. S. Eliot poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 3) by Frank Prem

Food Therapy – Watercress – More Iron than Spinach

Vitamin D Deficiency Part One

Vitamin D Deficiency Part Two – Getting Sufficient

#Fantasy The Blessing of Krozem: A Tale of Ziraf’s World by Lorinda J. Taylor

-#Horses Jan Sikes, #Comingofage Bette A. Stevens, #Romance Ritu Bhathal

#Historical Noelle Granger, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls, #Thriller Daniel Kemp

#Memoir Pete Springer, #History Paul Edmondson #Thriller Mary Anne Edwards

#Mystery #Romance Alex Craigie, #Children Dawn Doig, #Humour Linda G. Hill

#Fantasy Deborah Jay, #ParanormalRomance A.J. Alexander, #Historical Ruth Larrea

#Humour Andrew Joyce, #Horror #Fantasy Julia Benally, #Thriller Iain Kelly

#Memoir Marian Longenecker Beaman, #Crime Sue Coletta, #Humour Geoff Le Pard

#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #Thriller Jacquie Biggar, #YARomance Angie Dokos

#Familysaga – The Memory by Judith Barrow

#1920s – Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – June 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 2nd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – July 3rd 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you for dropping in today and during the week to leave comments and to share.. it really is much appreciated.. I hope you will join me again next week..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book – #Familysaga – The Memory by Judith Barrow


Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here: Share an Extract

Today bestselling author of the Howarth Family Saga, Judith Barrow shares an extract from her compelling family drama The Memory. A book that I can highly recommend.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

An extract from The Memory

The baby was in the old blue carrycot that had been mine and stored in the attic. I’d helped Dad to clean it up ages ago.

‘What’s she called?’ Mum didn’t answer. When I glanced at her she’d come out of the covers and was looking away from me, staring towards the window. Her fingers plucked at the cotton pillowcase. ‘Is she okay?’ I asked. The baby was so small; even though I could only see her head I could tell she was really little. I leaned over the carrycot. ‘Can I hold her?’

‘No,’ Dad’s hand rested on my shoulder, warm, gentle. ‘She’s too tiny.’ He paused, cleared his throat. ‘And she’s not well, I’m afraid.’

That frightened me. I studied my sister carefully; tiny flat nose between long eyes that sloped upwards at the outer corners. A small crooked mouth pursed as though she was a bit cross about something. I could see the tip of her tongue between her lips. ‘She doesn’t look poorly.’

I tilted my head one way and another, studying her from different angles. Nope, except for the little twist in her top lip, which was cute, she looked fine. ‘What’s she called?’ I asked again, watching her little face tighten and then relax as she yawned, then sighed.

Turning on her back, Mum slid down under the eiderdown. ‘Take it away,’ she mumbled.
At first I thought she was she talking about me. Had I done something to upset her or the baby? But then I thought perhaps having a baby made you cross so I decided to forgive her. In the silent moment that followed I heard the raucous cry of a crow as it landed, thump, on the flat roof of the kitchen outside the bedroom window.

‘What’s she called?’ I whispered to Dad, determined one of them would tell me. When there was still no reply I looked up at him and then back at my sister. ‘I’m going to call her Rose, ’cos that’s what her mouth looks like; a little rosebud, like my dolly’s.’

Dad gathered both handles of the carrycot and lifted it from the stand. ‘I’ll take her,’ he said and cocked his head at me to follow.

‘Do what you want.’ Mum’s voice was harsh. ‘I don’t want that thing near me.’

Then I knew she meant the baby; my baby sister. I was scared again. Something was happening I didn’t understand. But I knew it was wrong to call your baby ‘it’. It made me feel sick inside.

‘That’s mean,’ I whispered.

Mum held her hand above the covers. ‘Irene, you can stay. Tell me what you’ve been doing in school today.’ She pointed to the hairbrush on the dressing table, pushing herself up in the bed. ‘Fetch the brush; I’ll do your hair.’

The words were familiar; it was something she said every day. But her voice was different. It was as though she was trying to persuade me to do it. Like in school when one of your friends had fallen out with another girl and she was trying to get you on her side.’ It didn’t seem right; it didn’t seem like the mum I knew.

‘No, I’ll go with Dad.’ Suddenly I couldn’t bear to be anywhere near my mother. I held the end of the carrycot, willing Rose to wake up. And then she opened her eyes. And, even though I know now it would have been impossible, I would have sworn at that moment she looked right at me and her little mouth puckered into a smile.

That was the first time I understood you could fall in love with a stranger, even though that stranger is a baby who can’t yet talk.

And that you could hate somebody even though you were supposed to love them.

One of the recent reviews for the book

DGKaye 5.0 out of 5 stars Mothers and Daughters  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 June 2020

Barrow paints a complex emotional story written in first person where Irene tells her story in two time-frames. One is in present 2002, depicted in a 24 hour time-frame, and the past in flashbacks about what transpired in her life and lead to that one day.

Three women under one roof – Irene, her mother Lilian, and her Nanna, and Sam, Irene’s ever faithful and compassionate boyfriend, are the central characters, as well as little sister Rose, born with Down Syndrome, who dies at the age of 8 years old, and the secrets about her death that keep Irene connected to the house they grew up in together. The burning secret Irene carries will take a monumental twist near the end of this book. Rose is an embarrassment to her rotten mother Lilian, and Irene and Nanna are the ones who look after Rose.

Rose’s death creates a bigger distance between Irene and Lilian, spurring Irene’s anticipation to finally move away from home and finish her schooling for her dream to become a teacher. Only, there are obstacles at every milestone for Irene from her demanding, needy and lacking of compassion mother.

Lilian is a complicated, moody, miserable bitch, whose husband has left her, leaving Irene to put up with Lilian’s antics on a daily basis – seemingly no matter how far Irene flees does not stop Lilian and her demands. Thank goodness for Sam. Sam knows Lilian well and knows how she gets under Irene’s skin and staunchly supports Irene’s decisions, despite them often leaving Sam in second place to Irene’s worries concerning her mother and the indelible bond that remains between Rose and Irene even after her death.

Irene is the designated carer for everyone in this book – first Rose, then her Nanna, then Sam’s sick father, then her sick father, then her sick (in more ways than one, mother) – a modern day Florence Nightingale.

Sam is the ideal boyfriend and then husband who adores Irene. He’s been through a lot with Irene and her family woes, causing delays for them to make a life together. When they finally do make their life complete, once again ‘mother’ calls in her neediness. The mother who never had the time of day for Irene makes her a lucrative offer, which once again turns into a bad deal and should have had Irene running like a dog on fire. But instead, she flees back to her mother leaving Sam disappointed and dumbfounded.

The twist at the end focuses on the painful secret Irene has carried with her since Rose’s death. A lot of drama ensues between Irene and her terrible, ungrateful, undeserving mother as Irene once again sacrifices her happiness with Sam in order to pacify her mother. Irene is a great character of strength who takes on all the family problems in her selfless good and compassionate nature, even risking losing the love of her life, but does she? You’ll have to read to find out!

Read the other reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

AndAmazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judith: Goodreads

About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years.

She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions..

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Connect to Judith

Blog: Judith Barrow
Twitter: @judithbarrow77
Facebook : Judith Barrow Author

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this short extract from The Memory and will head over to buy the book. If you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and would like to share an extract from your most recent book.. there is the link again: Share an Extract

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book- #Memoir – Twenty Years After “I Do” by D.G. Kaye


Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here: Share an Extract

Today’s author, D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) will be very familiar to regular visitors to the blog as the long-term contributor to the blog with The Travel Column, D.G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships 2020 and the twice weekly Laughter Lines.

The exract is from Debby’s most recent memoir Twenty Years After “I Do” : Reflections on Love and Changes Through Aging

About the book

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

An extract from the memoir.

In this chapter, I’m talking about the familiarity of moments in silence, when we grow to understand a loved one so well, often words aren’t necessary.

Knowing

In his quietest moments, I can hear him thinking. He’s always thinking.

There’s no silence in Gordon’s head. Even while watching TV, his mind is busy spinning. His thoughts may be focused on anything from the customer who’s coming in tomorrow to an item he’s remembered to remind me to pick up at the grocery store—or, often, he’s thinking about me, some old memory he’ll feel compelled to remind me about.

Often when speaking to him, I’ll notice his concentration focused on something other than me. He’ll claim he’s listening to what I’m saying, but his attention is on something else within. I call it attention-span lapsing, not quite ADD but more like brewing an idea while in the midst of a separate conversation. These little moments used to drive me crazy in the early stages of our relationship because I felt as though he wasn’t paying attention to our conversation, but he was. He always did. I hadn’t yet learned how his mind worked.

I’ve had plenty of years to study my husband and can read his thoughts just by a certain look on his face, a silence between us, or sometimes from the first word of a sentence when he speaks. Even the manner in which he’ll call out my name prompts me to know what he’ll ask me. When he calls me Cubby with a higher pitch and an emphasis on the y sound, I know he’s in a jovial mood and eager to share good news or something funny. When he calls me Cub, I know he’s going to ask me a question or has something pressing on his mind he wants to share. Deb is reserved for his pissed-off moments.

We’ve always been so in tune with each other, spoken words or not. Many times, I’ll walk into his man cave, and he’ll be watching TV, not even noticing I’m there as he focuses with eyes glued on whatever he’s watching. I’ll announce myself after standing to his left with one of my usual smart-ass comments, “Earth calling,” and he’ll turn after I startle him, chuckling because he knows the thought police is on to him.

Based on whatever may be currently going on in our lives, I have a reasonable idea about what he may be dwelling on in his moments of silence. I’ll remind him he’s home now and it’s time to turn off his brain and relax. He’ll smile with that familiar twinkle in his blue eyes and once again ask how I always seem to know what he’s thinking. I don’t know how I know. I just do. After spending so much time together, we grow an inherent understanding of the silent language interpreted by eye contact, a lack of it, body language, silence, temperament, or sometimes even by the bang or the silent closing of a door.

The thought police in me is always on duty, ready to dissect Gordon’s brain. It’s become second nature. In this past year since Gordon’s health suffered, I have noticed how much more he likes to remind me about some of our best times we’ve shared. Sometimes I know he’s trying to get a rise out of me with laughter. Other times I can’t help but feel he’s thinking about his mortality. I don’t dwell on it, nor do I let him know I know what he’s thinking about.

Nobody ever wants to think about the end of existence. But trust me, as we age, we all have many of those days when we feel the hands of time ticking by. Gordon’s brushes with death have somehow opened the curtains of a window he never previously cared to look out of, a window he never talked about—one we’ve never talked about. But I know that window revealed to him how close the end almost came for him in the past year, causing him many pauses for thought. He doesn’t say so, but I know.

Once in a while, when Gordon breaks a silent moment between us and says in mere passing, “We’ve been together twenty years,” I know where his brain goes. I never ask him to elaborate on where those thoughts come from, but I know when he’s in a reflective mood, when he feels the urge to relive tender moments, when he’s fearing his mortality. In those exact moments, I know.

One of the reviews for the book

L. Carmichael 5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Study in Married Life  Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2020

Twenty Years: After “I Do” is an autobiographical non-fiction book about the author’s experience with marriage and relationships. I’ve previously read another of her autobiographies about her relationship with her mother, and it was such an emotionally charged and well-written book, I decided to keep reading more from her every few months until I caught up on all her works.

In this one, Debby tells us what happened almost twenty years ago when she debated whether to marry the man who is now her husband. Given he was twenty years older, she had a lot of decisions to consider when it came to how her life would change. At the core of this book, and her approach to life, is her commitment and honesty in all that she achieves. Debby knew… if she married him, she would have to accept all that came with it in the future. From there, she dives into key aspects of married life: emotions, sex life, personal time, separation of couple and individual, fighting, decision-making, and death. Lessons we all need to consider.

Debby’s writing style is simply fantastic. It’s easy to devour in a short sitting, but it always makes you feel like part of her life. She openly shares so much (the good, the bad, and the ugly) while holding back in all the appropriate areas to allow for proper balance, e.g. we learn about the impacts to her sex life when one partner is ill but she doesn’t go into the details. She tells us how she and her husband tackled the issues from a day-to-day perspective and moved on… because they loved one another (to the moon and back).

There is a refreshing honesty and truth in her words, and readers will quickly find themselves a path to compare their own lives to that of the author’s. What have I done well? What could I do better? What needs to change? Excellent questions to consider, but Debby doesn’t directly tell us to do this–her actions show us why this is at the core of a good marriage. I’m thrilled I had the chance to read this one today. Although I’ve only been with my partner for 8 years, it’s easy to track where things are and what we could do differently.

Debby bravely tells us her story, allowing us to interpret for ourselves what everything means, especially in this ever-changing world where people live longer and have access to more things but it’s harder to get them. I highly recommend this book to nearly anyone in a relationship, or those who want to know how to handle one when they are. Debby shares a few secrets, some hints, and a few suggestions to consider. It’s not just for newbies or long-term couples… there’s a bit of everything for how to co-exist and still be who you are. Great work!

Read the reviews and buy the memoir: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Books by D.G. Kaye

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads

About Debby Gies

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog: D.G. Kaye Writer – About me: D.G. Kaye –
Twitter: @pokercubsterLinkedin: D.G. Kaye
Facebook: D.G. Kaye – Instagram: D.G. Kaye – Pinterest: D.G. Kaye

Thanks for dropping in and if you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and would like to promote your most recent books then please check out the post: Share an Extract

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book – #Southern Little Tea by Claire Fullerton


Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here: Share an Extract

The next author to share an extract is Claire Fullerton for her novel Little Tea a book that I can recommend. Claire also shares some location shots from the novel.

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

 

An extract from Little Tea

“Hey, Little Tea,” Hayward called as she and I sat crossed-legged on the north side of the verandah. “I bet I can beat you to the mailbox and back.” It was a Saturday afternoon in early June, and we’d spread the church section of the Como Panolian beneath us and positioned ourselves beneath one of the pair of box windows gracing either side of the front door. The front door was fully open, but its screen was latched to keep the bugs from funneling into the entrance hall. They’d be borne from the current of the verandah ceiling fans that stirred a humidity so pervasive and wilting, there was no escaping until the weather cooled in early November. The glass pitcher of sweet tea Elvita gave us sat opaque and sweating, reducing crescents of ice to weak bobbing smiles around a flaccid slice of lemon.

Little Tea stood to her full height at Hayward’s challenge, her hand on her hip, her oval eyes narrowed. “Go on with yourself,” she said to Hayward, which was Little Tea’s standard way of dismissal.

“I bet I can,” Hayward pressed, standing alongside Rufus, his two-year-old Redbone coonhound who shadowed him everywhere.

Little Tea took a mighty step forward. “And you best get that dog outta here ’fore he upends this here paint. Miss Shirley gone be pitching a fit you get paint on her verandah.”

“Then come race me,” Hayward persisted. “Rufus will follow me down the driveway. You just don’t want to race because I beat you the last time.”

“You beat me because you a cheat,” Little Tea snapped.

“She’s right, Hayward,” I said. “You took off first, I saw you.”

“It’s not my fault she’s slow on the trigger,” Hayward responded. “Little Tea hesitated, I just took the advantage.”

“I’ll be taking advantage now,” she stated, walking down the four brick steps to where Hayward and Rufus stood.

At ten years old, Little Tea was taller than me and almost as tall as Hayward. She had long, wire-thin limbs whose elegance belied their dependable strength, and a way of walking from an exaggerated lift of her knees that never disturbed her steady carriage. She was regal at every well-defined angle, with shoulders spanning twice the width of her tapered waist and a swan neck that pronounced her determined jaw.

Smiling, Hayward bounced on the balls of his feet, every inch of his lithe body coiled and ready to spring. There was no refusing Hayward’s smile, and he knew it. It was a thousand-watt pirate smile whose influence could create a domino effect through a crowd. I’d seen Hayward’s smile buckle the most resistant of moods; there was no turning away from its white-toothed, winsome source. When my brother smiled, he issued an invitation to the world to get the joke.

Typically, the whole world would.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Christi F 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read!! Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2020

Little Tea packs a powerful punch, especially reading it in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. I do not tolerate prejudice of any kind, and reading about southern prejudice, even in fiction, makes my skin crawl, but Claire Fullerton paints a picture that I was not expecting, and left me with all the feels.

Celia, the main character, is a peacekeeper by nature, and has gotten really good at suppressing her feelings about life’s circumstances, and running away from it all. It’s been years since she’s been home, but when one of her best friends needs her help, she immediately flees home. Oh, to have friends that have your back like that. One of the things I admired about this novel is the friendships, the loving despite flaws, and backing the other person even if you don’t quite see eye to eye on certain actions.

While Celia’s mission during her trip is to help her friend, she finds herself facing her own tortured past that she has fought to run away from. Written in Celia’s own words, she parallels her past story with her present situation in a seamless way, telling a tale of growing up on a plantation in a privileged family in the deep south, alongside her brother and her best friend, Little Tea. Little Tea’s family have worked for Celia’s family for generations, and to Celia they are like family, though not everyone in her family shares her sentiments, some continuing to hold onto outdated racial discrimination.

Reading about Celia and Little Tea growing up was hands down my favorite part of the story, the innocence as sugary sweet as tea on a hot summer day. I especially loved the races, and how Little Tea and all her sass just shine. It was in those moments that I fell in love with this character, and admire how strong and independent she was, even at a young age.

Incredibly written, Claire Fullerton takes you into the life of a woman struggling to find closure, yet fighting the past at the same time, painting a vivid picture that I think we all can relate to. The character development is splendid, and while I do not understand southern traditions, or this world described, I felt it was true to life.

My only beef, if you can really even call it that, is the ending. Though there is a resolution, I was still left with questions, and actually groaned, “No…” when I realized it was the end. I craved to know more at the final revelation, but alas I must use my own imagination.

Despite feeling unfinished (most likely only to myself), Little Tea is a wonderfully written memoir with enviable friendships, excruciating heartache, and courage to face the past to better your future.

 

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

About Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and on the long list of the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary.

Connect to Claire

Website: Claire Fullerton
Blog: Claire Fullerton WordPress
Twitter: @Cfullerton3
Facebook: Claire Fullerton

Thanks for dropping in and I hope the extract from Little Tea has tempted you to read the book… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book – #Crime #Mystery – Secrets of the Galapagos by Sharon Marchisello


Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here: Share an Extract

Today’s author is Sharon Marchisello with an extract from her novel, a crime mystery- Secrets of the Galapagos.  Sharon has also included some amazing photographs from her own trip to this extraordinary place

About the book

Shattered by a broken engagement and a business venture derailed by Jerome Haddad, her unscrupulous partner, Giovanna Rogers goes on a luxury Galapagos cruise with her grandmother to decompress.

At least that’s what her grandmother thinks. Giovanna is determined to make Jerome pay for what he’s done, and she has a tip he’s headed for the Galapagos.

While snorkeling in Gardner Bay off the coast of Española Island, Giovanna and another cruise passenger, tortoise researcher Laurel Pardo, both become separated from the group and Laurel is left behind. No one on the ship will acknowledge Laurel is missing, and Giovanna suspects a cover-up.

When the police come on board to investigate a death, Giovanna is sure the victim is Laurel. She’s anxious to give her testimony to the attractive local detective assigned to the case. Instead, she learns someone else is dead, and she’s a person of interest.

Resolved to keep searching for Laurel and make sense of her disappearance, Giovanna finds that several people on board the cruise ship have reasons to want Laurel gone. One is a scam involving Tio Armando, the famous Galapagos giant tortoise and a major tourist attraction in the archipelago. And Jerome Haddad has a hand in it. Thinking she’s the cat in this game, Giovanna gets too involved and becomes the mouse, putting her life in jeopardy. But if she doesn’t stop him, Jerome will go on to ruin others.

An extract from Secrets of the Galapagos

Laurel tugged at my flipper and pointed. I pivoted through the stream of bubbles in time to see a six-foot hammerhead shark, its flat head barely rippling the water it displaced. I could have touched its coarse gray skin had I dared. My heart pounded. In our dark wetsuits, did we look like seals? The guides said these Galapagos sharks were not dangerous unless provoked, but who knew when one might decide to add a little tourist delicacy to its diet of fish and crustaceans?

Her dark hair floating around her face, my new friend Laurel gave a thumbs-up. I returned the gesture. I sensed her radiant grin through her mask.

The shark glided away almost as quickly as it had appeared, replaced by a school of surgeonfish, their yellow tails and silvery bodies shimmering in the sunlight. I lost sight of Laurel as I floated among them like a mermaid.

I kicked my way to the surface and lifted my head to drain my snorkel tube. As I pushed a strand of wet hair out of my face, I glimpsed the band of white skin where my engagement ring had been—until last month. Don’t think about that jerk, I scolded myself. Focus on enjoying this incredible cruise. And the mission: justice. Our group had been snorkeling in the chilly waters of Gardner Bay for about an hour, and all I wanted to do now was get back on board the ship, dry off, and tell everyone over a tasty lunch of fresh seafood about our close encounter with the shark. Laurel would have shot some great pictures.

I pulled off my fogged-up plastic mask and rinsed it in the ocean. The sea had grown rougher since we’d started snorkeling, and dark clouds gathered. A wave slapped my face, sending salty water into my nostrils. I held up my right hand, the symbol for, “I’m ready to come in.”
Where was everybody?

“Laurel?” She’d been swimming beside me moments ago, snapping photos of the vast display of marine life.

I scanned the water for my fellow snorkelers and the guides hovering in the inflatable black boats called Zodiacs. Laurel and I had not strayed that far from the group … had we?
I put my mask back on and ducked underwater to see if anyone was still swimming beneath the surface. Nothing but fish. I didn’t care about the fish anymore.

The sudden sensation of being alone in the cold ocean sucked my energy. I took off my mask again, struggling to hold my head upright and tread water while I regained my bearings.

The steep volcanic outcropping where we’d congregated was on my left. It had been on my right before. I must have drifted to the other side. Seabirds squawked at me as if I had plans to disturb their nests wedged into the jagged, guano-coated crevices.

“Laurel?” She must wonder what had happened to me.

I dog-paddled around the volcanic rock and then sighted one of the Zodiacs—at least thirty yards away and headed back to the ship. A black speck in the distance must be the other boat.


One of the recent reviews for the book.

Reviewed in the United States on March 21, 2020

This is an entertaining murder mystery with a large dollop of romance. The story is set on a cruise ship which is travelling around the idyllic islands of the Galapogos. The author weaves some lovely and interesting information about these island, the conservation programmes they have in place as well as the amazing wildlife that is found there, into the story which I really enjoyed.

Giovanna has recently had some bad experiences. She lost all the money raised from investors to build her dream non-profit veterinary clinic to a clever con artist and, as a result, her fiancee and business partner, Tim, has broken off their engagement. To make matters even worse, her best friend, Connie, is married to the conman, and helped entice her into his trap. Giovanna’s youthful looking grandmother, Michelle, talks her into going on a cruise to help her recover from these losses and move on with her life. Giavanna decides on the Galapagos as a destination because she has learned, via Facebook, that this is where Connie and the conman have gone and she hopes to somehow get an opportunity to confront him and get the stolen money back.

Giovanna is in for some more hard knocks. While snorkeling with her new friend, Laurel, the pair get separated from the group and Giovanna is nearly left behind by the boat. Laurel disappears and no-one will acknowledge it except for Michelle and a few other guests who notice she is missing. Other unusual things are also happening on board the ship: Michelle gets hit over the head in the ship’s library, a memory stick with photographs of animals on it belonging to Laurel goes missing and one of the guides turns up dead in the swimming pool. Giavanna is determined to get to the bottom of it all and also to confront the conman if the opportunity presents itself.

Into this whole mix enters a gorgeous local policeman, Victor, who is investigating the murder, the disappearance of Laurel and who is interested in Giavanna.

This is a fast paced book with lots of action and some romance. I found it a bit hard to follow in a few parts because there was just so much happening and so many different sub-plots but on the whole this is an entertaining and interesting read.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Other books by Sharon Marchisello

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Sharon: Goodreads

About Sharon Marchisello

Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press, Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019). She is an active member of Sisters in Crime.

She contributed short stories to anthologies Shhhh…Murder! (Darkhouse Books, 2018) and Finally Home (Bienvenue Press, 2019). Her personal finance book Live Well, Grow Wealth was originally published as Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy, an e-book on Smashwords. Sharon has published travel articles, book reviews, and corporate training manuals, and she writes a personal finance blog called Countdown to Financial Fitness.

She grew up in Tyler, Texas, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston in French and English. She studied for a year in Tours, France, on a Rotary scholarship and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters in Professional Writing at the University of Southern California.

Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she lives in Peachtree City, Georgia, doing volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society and the Fayette County Master Gardeners UGA Extension.

Connect to Sharon

Blogspot: Sharon Blogspot
Blog WordPress: Sharon Marchisello
Facebook: S.L Marchisello
Facebook: Live Cheaply Be Happy
Twitter: @SLMarchisello

Thanks to Sharon for sharing this extract from Secrets of the Galapagos and I hope you will add to your TBRs.. thanks for dropping by.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from a Previous Book – #Memoir – No One Comes Close by J. A. Newman


The last post in the series where authors have shared an extract from a previous book  and today author J. A. Newman shares a passage from her memoir No One Comes Close

About the book

Many women dream from time to time of the man they would have married if only circumstances had allowed, but very few attempt a solution.

No One Comes Close is a true story of how one woman, unhappy in her marriage, set out to find her first love and the consequences it incurred.

An extract from No One Comes Close – MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 1967

There was no remedy for a fractured pelvis – they couldn’t plaster it in that awkward place – I just had to wait for it to mend. Whenever I tried to sit up the pain beat me back, so I had to be fed like a baby. Added to this was the indignity of the bed pans and the bed-baths. I hadn’t had anyone to wash me ‘down there’ since I was a toddler. The ward was full of old women with fractures who had been there for weeks and who screamed for the nurses every night.

I felt very lonely.

I had been in hospital five days when Mum told me that Ron would be coming to see me.

On the one hand I couldn’t wait, but on the other, I didn’t want him to see me like this. I asked one of the nurses to take out my powder compact from the locker so I could apply some make-up. Not an easy task whilst lying down – gravity dictated that bits of make-up fell onto my face.

I lay with my eyes fixed on the clock above the double doors. At seven-thirty they suddenly burst open and the visitors poured in. But no Ron. Another twenty minutes dragged by,

‘Gee, sorry I’m late. What a dead ‘n’ alive place Dartford is!’

His eyes scanned my vulnerable body clad only in a pink nylon nightie, the sheets pushed down to my waist. He handed me a box of Black Magic chocolates and a get-well card; but I felt helpless when I couldn’t reach the locker. I put them on the bed and managed a smile.

He sat awkwardly at my bedside. His grey eyes crinkled. ‘I still haven’t seen you in that royal blue nightie.’

If he was trying to make me feel better it didn’t work. Oh, how I wished I could see him under different circumstances! He talked, mainly about work, but I felt so proud to have him there. I kept glancing at the clock, willing the hands to stand still. He asked what had happened to Marie; I hadn’t seen her since the night of the accident.

‘She’s in another ward; a few cuts on her face and mild concussion, but she’s fine apart from that.’

If she can walk, why hasn’t she been to see me?

He was going to see if he could find her but I gripped his hand – I wanted him to stay with me.

At eight thirty the bell rang signalling the end of visiting time. I ached for him to stay. He leaned over and kissed me goodbye. ‘I’ll try and get over next Sunday. Look after yourself.’

I watched him walk through the doors and wished away the hours and days until I saw him again.

Two young Irish nurses came to make me more comfortable.

‘Was that your boyfriend, Julie?’ asked one.

I nodded.

She winked. ‘Very nice! Very nice indeed!’

One of the reviews for the book

Candyman 5.0 out of 5 stars Memories are made of … this?  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2018

What if?

What if someone contacts you after several years: someone to whom you’ve been attracted, someone you’ve often wondered … what if?

Julie Newman’s memoir takes that as its starting point: a message out of the blue she’s received. Her marriage to Mel is colourless, uninteresting. Ron, all the way out there in Australia, seems to have settled on his feet. It’s very beautiful out there and he’s done well for himself. But is he really happy with Claudette?

Is his contact with Julie more than just a hello and how are you? Could there really be a future with him: one that could make them both happy until death us do part?

Ron’s the opposite of Mel and the full colour version of everything that Julie is missing from her bland everyday routine, or so she thinks. The wheels are set in motion as Julie responds to his request to re-establish contact, even if it means a long journey for one of them. She needs to be sure of its final destination, doesn’t she? What if?

Newman’s journal style book is an easy read in attention-span chunks. As Julie and Ron circle each other her writing becomes ever more intimate, to the point where the reader feels they are intruding in an almost voyeuristic way. Diaries are after all meant to be read only by their composer: a way of pouring out their emotions to the one person they always turn to for advice – themselves.

In drawing us in to the plot of the will-they-won’t-they we become even more entangled in the cups of tea and stolen moments, eagerly watching for the final moments, to discover whether love will find a way. Or just head for the exit.

What if?

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by J.A. Owens

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

About J.A. Newman

J.A. Newman was born in Kent. As a young child she relied heavily on her imagination to amuse herself. At primary school she was repeatedly told off for daydreaming and at senior school she filled her rough note books with comic strip stories. On leaving school she enjoyed a career in hairdressing and owned her own business whilst living in Hertfordshire. In 2008 she retired to Cornwall with her husband where she found inspiration for much of her writing.

J.A.Newman has kept a diary for most of her life, the inspiration for her memoir titled ‘No One Comes Close’. This is an emotional roller-coaster set in 1966 and 1987, published in 2017.

Her second publication, published in 2018, ‘Where There’s a Will’, is a lighthearted tale of rags to riches.

And last but by no means least ,’Bay of Secrets’ is a haunting novel of intrigue, love and loss set in her favourite part of Cornwall.

She is currently researching for a historical novel set in the English Civil War.

Connect to Julie Newman

Blog: Julie Ann Newman WordPress
Facebook: J.A. Newman author
Twitter: @julie3wwn

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to explore Julie’s books in more detail… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book – #Children’s – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action by Darlene Foster


Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here: Share an Extract

Today’s author is Darlene Foster sharing an extract from her most recent book in the Amanda travel series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

An extract from Amanda in Holland.

Amanda enjoyed the scenery as they drove along the highway. “It is so flat and very green.”

Jan explained how Holland is actually below sea level in many places and dykes were built to keep the water out. “No doubt you have heard the story of the little boy and the dyke?”

“No, I haven’t.” Amanda shook her head. “Please, tell us the story.”

“Well,” Jan began, “a long time ago a small boy was on his way to school when he noticed a leak in the dyke. He saw the seawater trickle through the opening and knew that even a small hole could eventually become bigger. If too much water flowed through, the village could be flooded. So, he poked his finger in the hole to stop the water, even though it meant he would be late for school and get into trouble. He stood there with his finger in the hole for a long time until eventually someone saw him and got help. The hole was repaired and the boy became a hero for saving his village.”

“That is such a cool story. Is it true?” asked Amanda.

“It is more like a legend. The story is told to children to show them that even a small child can prevent a disaster if they use their wits. Actually an American author, Mary Mapes Dodge, first wrote about it a hundred and fifty years ago in her book, Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates.”

“That´s so interesting, don’t you think Leah?”

“Ya, sure.” Leah turned the page of her fashion magazine. “I heard that story when I was a little girl. What do you think of this outfit?” She turned around and held up the page.

Amanda smiled. “That’s very nice. It would look good on you.”

Everyone kept quiet as they passed more farm buildings and neatly tilled fields.

“Turn left,” said the GPS woman.

Mr. Anderson turned the corner and slammed on the brakes. A large, angry goose stood in the middle of the road with its wings flapping and neck stretched forward as it honked.

Amanda laughed. “What a silly goose!”

“That’s my grandfather’s goose. He likes to think he is protecting the property,” said Jan.

“You mean he’s like a guard goose.” Amanda grinned.

Jan got out of the car and spoke to the goose in Dutch. The irate bird finally left the road and waddled into the field, his eye still on them.

Leah’s dad rolled down the window. “Thanks, mate. I wasn’t sure how we would get past him. Get back in and we’ll take you to where you need to be.”

Jan climbed back into the car. “You can drop me off over there.” He pointed to a farmyard in the distance.

As they neared the farm, Amanda noticed the rustic house had a sloping roof that looked like a large slouched hat pulled over its eyes. “Is this where your grandparents live?”

“Yes, they have always lived here, and so has my great-grandmother. It is her family home,” answered Jan.

The place looked inviting and cozy.

Someone pulled aside a lace curtain and peered out the window. Grey eyes met Amanda’s.

The curtain dropped.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Apr 18, 2020 Hayley rated it Five Stars

Amanda in Holland was such a fun read! I’ll admit I was a bit bias in picking this title — my family is Dutch, so the title caught my eye instantly. I learned more about the culture there than I’ve ever learned from my family (sorry, Dad!). But my favorite part is the way Foster seamlessly ties history, culture, and mystery all in one. This book also makes the location its own character, which I love. Overall, the story had a very Nancy Drew feel to it.I didn’t realize that this book is part of a series, but now that I know, I’ll definitely be reading the others in the series.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Darlene: Goodreads

About Darlene Foster

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.

Connect to Darlene

Website: Darlene Foster
Blog: Darlene Foster WordPress
Facebook: Darlene Foster Facebook
Twitter: @supermegawoman

Thanks for dropping in and if you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and would like to promote your most recent books then please check out the post: Share an Extract