Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Anthology – The Shadows We Breathe (volume 1) Edited by Sarah Brentyn and contributing authors


Delighted to share the news of the release of the anthology The Shadows We Breathe, edited by Sarah Brentyn and featuring several contributing authors.

About the Anthology

WE ARE ALL PART SHADOW

Life promises joy and sorrow. Alongside the light, there will always be traces of darkness. It is the nature of being human.

In this anthology of short fiction, we explore relationships—how they sculpt us, hurt us, help us, and reveal our deepest desires.

Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of heartache, loss, hope, and forgiveness. They unveil the intimacy and complexity of relationships.

Whether family, friend, or lover, connections to others can hold us up or break us down.

Within these pages, beautiful words are spun into tales threaded with darkness.

Discover the shadows we breathe.

My review for the collection 10th October 2021

Wonderful storytellers take on the task of creating stories that haunt, bring hope and satisfy in stories, 100 word flash fiction and just 10 words.

That is a challenge all the writers excelled at and I found myself turning the pages eager to read the next gem.

I am familiar with the writing of some of the contributors but was intrigued to see that they embraced the dark side of human nature in some unexpected ways.

Difficult to single out any particular short story  for special mention as they were all excellent but in the first section “What You Wish For” by Georgia Bell, “The Perfect Face” by D.Wallace Peach and “A Good Night Sleep”  by Mary Smith. “Moment of Truth” by Maria Carvalho gave me goosebumps.

In the 100 word flash fiction…”Certainty” by Reena Dobson, “Fair Exchange” Ali Isaac and “A Woman Walking” by Sarah Brentyn were exceptional, as was Allie Potts 10 word interpretation of ‘Fold’

This will be much enjoyed by those who love short stories in all their forms and appreciate the skill it takes to create them in only a few words

Buy the anthology: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

About Sarah Brentyn and the contributing Authors

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi. She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them. When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

Author Page – Twitter

Georgia Bell

Georgia Bell is the author of Unbound, a young adult paranormal romance about love, fear, and immortality. She was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy and began writing the stories she wanted to read over a decade ago.

Author Page | Twitter

Maria Carvalho

Maria Carvalho is a multi-genre writer whose short stories have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, including Under the Full Moon’s Light and Cabinet of Curiosities (both by Owl Hollow Press).

Author Page | Twitter

Reena Dobson began pursuing her creative writing with a vengeance when she realised the world was never going to stop and give her time to write. She now writes at the edges, in sunshine and under cover of darkness.

Author Page | Twitter

An image posted by the author.

Ali Isaac is a writer and blogger living in Co. Cavan, Ireland. In 2020, she was awarded a writing mentorship by Words Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland, working under the guidance of author, Sara Baume. Her writing has been published in The Stinging Fly, Sonder, and Paper Lanterns.

Author Page | Twitter

D. Wallace Peach, best-selling fantasy author, started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.

Author Page | Twitter

Allie Potts

Allie Potts lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, two children, and spoiled dog. When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day, Allie consumes and creates science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic quests, cozy mysteries, and contemporary fiction.

Author Page | Twitter

Mary Smith, author and poet, is based in Scotland. Her memoir Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women focusses on her work in Afghanistan, which also provides the setting for her novel No More Mulberries.

Author Page | Twitter

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Aphrodite’s Rock by Ali Isaac


Good stories are always worth repeating and so delighted to repeat  this one by author Ali Isaac and her short story Aphrodite’s Rock that she wrote for Authors in the Sun in 2015. You can find out more about Ali and her books and blog at the end of the story. Enjoy the sunshine……

sunshine

Aphrodite’s Rock

“It’s just as splendid as I remember,” she says with a sigh, a rare smile playing on her lips. “Thank you. I never thought I’d see it again.”

I gaze at the rock; although the sea is calm, water foams and gnaws at its base. Here, they say, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love was born, and the magic of the moment is so intense, I half believe it.

The evening sun bathes the scene in soft gold, and we hang there between sea and sky, crying gulls and the ocean’s soft murmur filling our ears as we rock in our cradle-like boat, and drift with our memories.

Her voice is little more than a whisper. “Do you remember the last time we were here?”

I nod, and think back to that day; we stood hand in hand on the headland, eyes fixed on the rock, mum with tears in hers, and acknowledged there was more to life than love.

“You’ll know love one day,” she had said to me.

“Not me,” I had declared emphatically. “Love is for wimps.”

Mum had turned her face away at that. “You’re too young to be so angry.”

“Anyway, I’ll be much too busy digging treasure out of the ground,” I had added. And that, at last, had made her smile.

“Just you and me from now on,” she’d said, turning her back on Aphrodite, and I had done the same. We had never gone back. Until now.

A male voice breaks into our reverie. “Is Aphrodite… she is Goddess of love. You swim all way round her rock, you blessed with beauty all your life.”

I frown at his intrusion, and look up into disconcertingly deep brown eyes. “We know the legends,” I say in perfect Greek.

His eyes widen in surprise.

“We lived here for many years,” mum explains.

“Ah… with British Air Force.”

“No,” I snap, feeling inexplicably annoyed. “Not with British Air Force.” I don’t elaborate, and ignore his enquiring glance at my mother.

She shrugs. “My husband and I… we were free spirits, in those days. We met in Paphos, we loved Cyprus, we stayed…”

“Ah, love…” He nods vigorously, looks at the rock, then says to me, “You very beautiful lady. You swim here before?”

Mum stifles a grin, and I shoot her a murderous glare.

“Take us back to Paphos,” I tell him. “The wind’s getting up. I don’t want this bucket to capsize.”

Without a word, he revs up the engine, and turns the boat for the harbour.

“Do you have to be so rude? He was only complimenting you,” says mum. “And he’s very handsome.”

“Please don’t start match-making again,” I groan. “Anyway, the good-looking ones are the worst. Look at Dad.”

Her face hardens. “Not all men are like your father.”

The little boat bounces over the top of the waves, and we cling on in silence. Our boatman expertly guides his little craft into its mooring, and helps us alight onto the jetty. He presses something into my hand. I hurriedly snatch it from his grasp.

“A boatman with a business card?” I say in surprise.

His eyes meet mine, and for a moment, I feel my knees turn to water. “My family own many business in Paphos. Boat, Taxi, hotel, taverna, whatever you want. You want go in boat tomorrow, I know nice beach, no one else there, I take you.”

“No thank you.” I laugh. “No more boat trips for us. Once in that thing was quite enough.”

Mum tucks her arm in mine, as we make our way down the jetty. She stops at the first taverna. It’s early, and there are lots of empty tables. “Let’s eat here. I’m too exhausted to cruise the promenade tonight.”

We sit at a tiny table by the water’s edge and order calamari, Greek salad, and two bottles of Mythos. The sun descends rapidly into the sea, a huge ball of red fire, leaving little transition between day and night. The notes of a bazouki trail through the air, and a cool breeze blows in off the sea.

Mum shivers, and sets down her beer. “I’m not going back.”

“It’s ok, Mum. We can stay as long as you like.”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“I know what you mean.”

She sits back with a sigh. “Some of the happiest days of my life were lived here.”

“And some of the worst,” I remind her sourly, but she will not be goaded.

“I don’t have many left. I’m glad I could spend them here, with you.”

I force a smile. “Me too.”

She stares out to sea. I know she doesn’t see the empty darkness, for that belongs to me. She dusts off only the bright years of her life, those filled with youth, freedom, joy, before sorrow stole them from her.

“You know, you could look for your father after I’m gone… he might still be here.”

I snort laughter. “After all these years, he’s probably moved on to some other poor victim. Anyway, I don’t need him.”

Mum sighs. “Still so angry. You need to forgive, and enjoy your life. I just don’t want you being on your own when I’m gone.”

“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”

“You could stay here, there’s plenty of good archaeology.”

“Enough to occupy a lifetime,” I say, quite tempted. “But I don’t think so; too many sad memories.”

But mom isn’t listening; her attention is captivated by someone sitting at the bar. He waves at her and smiles. It is our boatman, cleaned up and wearing jeans and a white shirt. I look away crossly.

“He’s stalking us,” I mutter, but mum laughs.

The waiter brings us two more beers. “From Yanni,” he says, placing them on the table.

“Yanni?”

“My cousin, at the bar.”

Mum giggles. “His family really do own all the businesses in Paphos.”

I scowl at her.

“Come on, he’s nice. And you’re going to need a friend when I’m gone.”

“Stop talking like that. I don’t want to think about it.”

“Ok, let’s go back to our room. I’m tired, and I want to get lots of rest for tomorrow.”

“Why, what’s happening tomorrow?”

“Well, I’ve got quite a fancy for a nice little boat trip…”

©Ali Isaac Aphrodite’s Rock 2015

About Ali Isaac

ali

Who is Ali? I’ll tell you who I’m not. I’m not an archaeologist, or a historian. I’m not a scientist, or a scholar. I’m not an expert in anything, and don’t claim to be. The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know.

I’m just me, and I’m inexplicably drawn to the places of the past, the really ancient places of Ireland, where the ghosts of those who lived there once still cling, their voices sighing on the breeze. They are legend. They are myth. They want their stories known. So that is what I do.

Who is Ali? I am a conduit between past and present, a writer, a storyteller. I am the Guardian of Irish Mythology.

Books by Ali Isaac

One of the reviews on Goodreads for The Four Treasures of Eirean

Aug 06, 2012 Jay Howard rated it amazing  ·

Do you remember, with nostalgia, reading adventure stories full of youthful courage, heroes and villains, humans and fantastical creatures? Did you enjoy Narnia? If so, this book will have you doing everything in your power to read it in one sitting.

It’s firmly grounded in well researched Irish folklore and history, a sophisticated fairy tale of epic proportions that will appeal to children and adults alike. Ali Isaac cleverly leads us between the present and events of 4,000 years ago. Fourteen year old Conor, confined in his wheelchair, is fated to be the saviour of his ancestors, the Sidhe, and is led back to his kin by the intermediary, Annalee, through the Cloak of Concealment. When he learns of their plight he agrees to seek their lost four treasures, stolen from them by a power hungry traitor. Naturally, the treasures have magical powers of which mere humans are unaware.

Annalee returns with Conor from Tir na Nog to the present to help in the quest. But is she all she seems? Many trials and dangers are overcome together. In the best traditions of fairy stories, in helping the Sidhe, Conor finds his own power, and the final battle is very satisfying.

Don’t be put off by the plethora of Irish names. There is a pronunciation guide if you want to enter the spirit of it. It’s too awkward to flick back and forth on a Kindle but a print of those few pages does the job nicely. Alternatively, you can invent your own pronunciations – say it as you see it. Personally, I think a bit of work at the beginning is well worth it.

I am so looking forward to books 2 and 3.

She has also co-written a book of love stories with author Jane Dougherty, called “Gra mo Chroí, Love of my Heart, Love Stories from Irish Myth”.

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/Ali-Isaac/e/B008TV9ECW

Read more reviews and follow Ali on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6457645.Ali_Isaac

Ali regularly posts on topics of Irish interest on her blog:  www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

Find out more about Ali’s fascinating interests.
http://aliisaacstoryteller.com/irish-mythology/
http://aliisaacstoryteller.com/category/ancient-places-of-ireland/
http://aliisaacstoryteller.com/category/life-with-a-special-needs-child/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6457645.Ali_Isaac

Social Media
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/aliisaac_
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/aliisaacstoryteller
Google+ –https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Aliisaacstoryteller/posts

The Annual Bloggers Bash Awards – #ABBAs are back and you are invited to vote.


vote-now

Absolutely thrilled to have been nominated in some categories in this year’s Bloggers Bash Awards and delighted that Smorgasbord Invitation has been placed in the Best Overall Blog category.  I am very grateful to everyone who nominated me and to be in such great company in this award.

best-overallThere are some incredibly talented bloggers in all the categories and I had a really tough time voting for just one in each.  I am sure you will also have the same problem.

Head over and vote for your favourite, Funniest, Best Book Review, Best Dressed, Best Newcomer, Most Inspirational, Hidden Gem, Service to Bloggers, Most Informative Original Content Blogger, Best Pal and Best Overall Blog… Vote at the ABBAs

It is a huge shame that the organisers of the event have excluded themselves from the nominations and therefore the awards

Sacha Black

Ali Isaac

Hugh Roberts

Geoff Le Pard

Whilst you are working your way through the categories here is some music in tribute to the four dedicated followers of fashion blogging. Thanks for the hard work guys.. You are Simply The Best.

Thanks for dropping by and I hope that you will head over and show your support to the work of Sacha, Ali, Hugh and Geoff as well as the bloggers who have kept us all entertained this year.   Sally