Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday 15th January 2021 – #Recipes Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen, Amy M. Reade, Carol Taylor

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Blogger Daily with a small selection of posts I have enjoyed this week.

I am always on the look out for ‘cook from scratch’ recipes that are healthy and light enough for suppers. We have our main meal of the day at lunchtime.. and The New Vintage Kitchen is a great place to find a wide variety of dishes for every meal of the day. This one caught my eye..

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Avocado and Melon – A quick and easy recipe that is elegant and tasty.

I love a recipe that I can make early in the day and let sit around in the refrigerator getting better and better as the day goes on. Special little salads fall into this category, and in our family shrimp is always at the top of the list.

This recipe is also flexible. I happened to have a beautiful fennel bulb in my refrigerator with tons of fronds, so I used those in the salad and to garnish. You can easily substitute fresh flat-leafed parsley or cilantro if you like it.
Eat with the seasons, usually…

This is not the time of year for melons and I broke one of my eat-the-season rules when I bought a lovely organic cantaloupe that was at the perfect place of ripeness, but from far away. Sometimes we just have to listen to our stomachs first. I make a skewered shrimp/avocado/melon dish and this came to mind. I also thought of a lovely little appetizer my mother-in-law used to make that was this simple trio and a few other things I can only guess at, and haven’t succeeded in recreating. This doesn’t taste the same, but it is still a nod to her.

Head over to get the recipe for this delicious shrimp salad: Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Avocado and Melon The New Vintage Kitchen

Another blogger who posts recipes on a regular basis the first Tuesday of the month is author Amy Reade and here is her first post of 2021.. with some easy to follow instructions for some delicious food. This week Kalua Pork Loco Moco, Spinach Salad with Pears and Walnuts and Sticky Rice.

First Tuesday Recipes: January 2021

Happy New Year! I’m eager to begin sharing some of my favorite recipes with you for the next twelve months! As many of you know, I share three recipes on the first Tuesday of each month. I welcome recipes from readers, so if you have one (or more) you’d like to share, please email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll be happy to include your recipes (with credit, of course).

What would you like to see?

And speaking of sharing, if you have any suggestions for posts you’d like to see, please let me know either by email or down in the comments below. My goal is to make this blog as responsive as possible to reader wishes, so any and all input is welcome and appreciated. I do a reading round-up on the last Tuesday of each month and a worldwide blogfest of good news on the last Friday of each month, but otherwise my Tuesday posts are yours to help create. So reach out and let me know what you’d like to see!

Let’s Get Cooking!

The first recipe I’m sharing this month is one I serve my family every New Year’s Day. It’s chock-full of flavor and calories and always gets the new year off to a delicious start. If you’ve resolved to lose weight, well…it’ll have to wait until January 2nd. The loco moco is a Hawaiian comfort dish often served with a scoop of macaroni salad. You can (actually, you should) start making this dish a day or two in advance. There’s very little hands-on work.

Kalua Pork Loco Moco

Head over to read the recipes and enjoy: Amy Reade First Tuesday Recipes

Another favourite in our house is Fish Pie and Carol Taylor as always has a recipe that is easy to follow and produces fantastic results.

Fish Pie can be pastry topped or topped with mashed potato…you can slice potatoes and mix white and sweet potatoes or parsnips even pastry if you wish…The potatoes sprinkled with bread crumbs and maybe some parmesan…

For a special occasion get creative and make a pish shaped pie…

My mum always used to make it topped with potatoes sometimes she sliced them and other times she boiled them and mashed them with milk and butter… I think the slices potatoes look very pretty if you are having someone to dinner but when I am making especially here as I don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen…It’s hot!

I top with mashed potatoes either sweet potatoes ( which) I love but everyone one else likes the normal mashed potato as they call it…


fish pie with peas

Head over to discover how to make this wonderful family meal: It’s Friday and It’s Fish Pie


Thanks for popping in today and I hope you will head over to check out these recipes in full.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily -Thursday October 3rd 2019 – Amy M. Reade, Jennie Fitzkee and Mary Smith

This series is an opportunity to showcase posts from around our community and the brilliant bloggers who share with us. It would be amazing if you would follow the links to the post I have highlighted and whilst visiting follow and support the blogger.

The first post today is from author Amy Reade with some great autumn recipes including cheesy Brussel sprouts.. that I must try..

First Tuesday Recipes for October

It’s officially fall and despite what the thermometer says, I know cooler weather is coming. (It’s supposed to be almost 90F here tomorrow…ugh.)

Fall is my favorite season for lots of reasons, but food is one of them. I love using apples and apple cider, pears, Brussels sprouts, squash, parsnips, and broccoli when I cook, and this is the best time of year to enjoy them at their finest.

The recipes I’m going to share this month are a simple side dish, a pasta dish, and a quick bread. Let’s cook!


Cheesy Brussels Sprouts

This recipe is one I made up, so the measurements are approximations. It’s easy, though, so you can tweak it to your tastes.

  • 1 c. Brussels sprouts (I use frozen because they’re smaller than fresh), thawed if frozen
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 palmful grated Parmesan cheese

If you use frozen Brussels sprouts, pat them dry with paper towels once they’re thawed. If using fresh, just wash them.

Halve the Brussels sprouts.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add Brussels sprouts to the pan, cut-side down. Sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, without flipping the sprouts, until the cut sides are beginning to brown. You’ll have to check them, since cooking times vary depending upon the size of your sprouts.

Flip the sprouts and continue cooking until they are browned all over. Add the Parmesan cheese to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the cheese starts to melt and stick to the sprouts. The cheese should start to become golden. Serve immediately.


Pasta with Pumpkin Cream Sauce and Apple bread can be found here:

Amy M. Reade, Buy:
Blog: – Goodreads:

2013 154851dikCmd-RL._UY250_House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

The first post is  by Jennie Fitzkee, who shares the wisdom gained from over 30 years as a teacher of the youngest school children, preparing them for life and infusing their absorbent minds with a love of learning. In this post, a much loved friend returns to the classroom.


Gloria joined the classroom today, and oh what a homecoming it was. It’s doubtful Santa Claus would receive such a welcome. After all these years we are still amazed at the difference Gloria makes and how children are drawn to her. It started many years ago…

You see, Gloria is different. She is very shy and loves to wear black. She’s not pretty on the outside, but she’s beautiful on the inside. In order for children to learn about the world, they needed to learn about the people in the world. And that meant introducing them to diversity… to Gloria.

Children don’t even see that she’s a puppet. The word witch is never spoken. It isn’t even a thought in their heads. They see her ‘insides’; that she needs help singing the ABC’s, that she loves Maine, and likes to be read to. That’s what children really see.

When Gloria arrived today, we introduced her at Morning Meeting. She was shy and did not speak. She looked all around, and we realized she didn’t recognize the classroom, as we have moved. That took some explaining! Then, Gloria looked at the children. She knew her Aqua Room friends from last year. One by one, they came up to hug Gloria. The hugs were more like the jaws of life… it had been a long time since they had seen her. McKinley cried. We did, too. Delaney buried her head into Gloria. On and on.

Please head over an enjoy this wonderful post about the love that someone called Gloria can bring to the classroom:

Connect to Jennie – Blog: –  Facebook: – Twitter:

And last but certainly not least… a post from Mary Smith, sharing her experiences working in Afghanistan…the setting for her wonderful book No More Mulberries (highly recommended).

Travels in Afghanistan (2).


Cocooned in my black nylon, slithery, stifling burqa I retreated into a review – it was certainly not planning – of what had brought me here. Adult life had begun in a dull, but safe job as a junior bank clerk in South West Scotland. Numerically dyslexic, it was highly improbable that I would have ever fulfilled my mother’s ambition to have a daughter become one of the first women bank managers and after a boring year I left to hitch hike around France and Italy with a boyfriend.

Back in Britain we settled in Blackburn, Lancashire where I tried a succession of jobs from being a nanny to making car components before landing a job with Oxfam. It was a job I loved and would probably never have left had not the mini-bus driver taking our pool team to a match in Blackpool not been going to Pakistan. Somehow during the course of the evening it was decided I should accompany the wife and sister of a friend of the mini-bus driver when they returned to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, to see their family.

While there, I visited the Marie Adelaide Leprosy centre and was deeply impressed by the work I saw being done there. In conversation with Dr Pfau, the dynamic German sister who had worked for over 25 years on the leprosy programme she suggested I stay on for three years to set up a health education department. ‘But,’ I pointed out, ‘I don’t have any medical qualifications.’

Head over to find out why that was not an impediment to Mary starting her new life and three years later a hair raising drive in to Afghanistan:

Mary Smith, Buy:

Please visit Amazon or Mary’s website to view all her books.

No More Mulberries - web ready51ArFSI2FFL._UY250_

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you would head over to read these posts in full.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday 26th September 2019 – Jane Risdon #Interview – Olga Nunez Miret and Amy M. Reade #Reviewing Books

The first post is an excerpt from an interview with Jane Risdon about her books including her short story collection Undercover Crime Shorts, and an introduction to one of her characters from the book, Lavinia Birdsong.

Chatting to Sahara Foley about writing and getting inside a character’s head…

So, let’s get started. What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always wanted to write. Even as a child I used to make up stories – in my head at first – and when I could write properly I scribbled them down. I kept them secret for fear of ridicule.
Because my career in the international music business kept me busy 24/7 I had little time to write and so I had to wait until I retired to seriously begin to write full-time.

What’s your favorite book you’ve written and why?
All my books are my favourites: Only One Woman and Undercover: Crime Shorts – I love them all of course I do!

I have 5 more waiting to be published and I have to say that of all my books it would have to be Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka, which is the first in the series of novel about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer, Lavinia Birdsong, who is drummed out of the Intelligence Services after a joint operation with MI6 goes belly-up.

What are the best and worst aspects of writing? To find out,head over to read the rest of the interview:

Jane Risdon, Buy: Blog:

The next post is from Olga Nunez Miret and the snippet is from her regular Tuesday book review this week for Picasso’s Revenge by Ray and Caroline Foulk

I bring you another review on behalf of Rosie’s group. This is a labour of love, and I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

In the early 1920 s, immaculate gentleman, Jacques Doucet descends into the world of anarchist art, the occult and the dark turmoil of his past involving the death of his beloved Madame R. A disastrous journey leads the couturier and patron of the arts to confront the celebrated bohemians of the city, including Max Jacob, André Breton and Picasso. When troubled Doucet acquires the world’s most dangerous painting, it causes him to hack at the root of Picasso s darkest secrets, unveiling modern art’s incredible genesis.

Head over to read Olga’s review of this fascinating book:

Olga Nunez Miret – Buy:
Blog: http://www.authortranslatorolga.comGoodreads: Olga on Goodreads

A selection of books by Olga Nunez Miret


And finally today, author Amy Reade with her recommended reads for September… looks like a great collection of five books.

It’s the last Tuesday of September already, but there’s still almost a week left in the month! I intend to keep reading and adding to my Goodreads tally, but for this post I’ll summarize what I’ve finished reading since my last round-up. I’ve read a couple things outside my normal genres, and I was glad I did.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This book, set in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1920s, was the author’s retelling of a fable about a man and a woman who want a child so badly that they make one out of snow. To their surprise, the snow child comes to life and…well, you’ll have to read it if you want to find out what happens. Spoiler alert: it’s not a happy ending.

Here’s the review I posted on Amazon and Goodreads:

“Sometimes I read a book and I don’t quite know what to make of it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Snow Child is one of those books. It’s beautifully written and I could feel the raw emotions and the deathly cold of the Alaska winters as I read it.

I think I’m still processing my feelings about this enchanting book. It teaches poignant lessons about learning to love what we have while we have it, because nothing is certain in this life. It teaches us that love doesn’t mean ownership. It teaches us that hardships are easier when they’re shared.

I’m not sure I would recommend this to someone who normally reads genre fiction, but I would recommend it to someone looking for a book of literary fiction that evokes deep feelings and haunting questions.”

Head over and check out the other four books that Amy has read this month:

Amy Reade, Buy
Blog: – Goodreads:

2013 154851dikCmd-RL._UY250_House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will head over and enjoy reading the posts in full.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – Amy M. Reade, Tony Riches and Barbara Silkstone.

Welcome to the second of the author updates for the week, with recent reviews for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author is Amy M. Reade with a recent review for her latest release Dead, White and Blue (The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series Book Two)

About the book

Summer is getting hotter in Juniper Junction, Colorado.There’s a firebug on the loose, the townspeople are nervous, and Lilly Carlsen, single mom to two teenagers, has even more to worry about. She’s in charge of the Independence Day celebration, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her son is getting ready to leave for college.But things are about to get even hotter: when a bistro owner dies at the celebration and Lilly’s best friend is charged with murder, events start hitting close to home. It’s up to Lilly to help clear her friend’s name while at the same time dealing her mom’s worsening forgetfulness as well as a coming-of-age issue under her own roof.

A recent review for the book

Dead, White and Blue by Amy M. Reade is another winner. This Independence Day story comes with heat, an arsonist and a murder.

Lilly Carlsen has her hands full because she has a business, she’s in charge of the celebration and her mother appears to be having mental health issues. Her son has just graduated and he’s going to be heading for college. Oh, and her boyfriend is in town, along with his father.

Everything is weighing on Lilly, especially after her closest friend is charged with murder after a local bistro owner is murdered at the Independence Day celebration.

Could Lilly’s son or one of his friends be starting fires in vacant houses? Is her best friend a murderer? And what about her mother’s problems?

I have to say that Ms. Reade has handled all of the issues expertly. I especially like the way her character is handling the issues with her mother while trying to clear her friend’s name. Her son and daughter are at an age where things can be a bit dicey, and she’s on top of that, too.

I highly recommend this book for everyone who enjoys a good mystery. I’ve also recommended the book to a friend who’s going through a similar situation with her mother. Very entertaining, and the story gives the reader a lot to think about.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

A selection of books by Amy Reade

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Amy on Goodreads:

Connect to Amy via her blog:

The next recent review is for Tony Riches and Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy.  I have read and reviewed the books and I can recommend them all.. including the first which I suggest you begin with.

About Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history.

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Jul 29, 2019 Rebecca Hill rated it it was amazing

Owen Tudor fathered a new era in England. By marrying the widowed queen of England, he fathered children that would help to shape the future of England. His life was not one of ease, but it was one that took several surprising turns, ending with a bitter end at the end of an executioners axe.

While I am a Ricardian (I know…) I still enjoyed this book, which brought to life the grandfather of the future king of England. It was an engaging and fun read. I highly enjoyed it! Get this one your to-read list NOW!

Read some of the many reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

A selection of other books by Tony Riches

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Tony Riches on Goodreads:

Connect to Tony via his blog:

The next author with a recent review is Barbara Silkstone for the fourth book in the Cold Cream Murders Series – Sun Scream.

About the book

A series of peculiar and highly suspicious accidents threaten the life of the Loud Mouth of the South. Can Olive and Lizzy find the predator before their friend becomes the victim at her own Murder Mystery Party? Help the Cold Cream gals solve the mystery of the corpse and the canapés. Mirth and murder in Book 4 of the Cold Cream Murders.


When Olive Peroni put out her family therapy sign, she never thought her top client would be the retired head of a New York crime family. When Olive’s nonna dies and leaves her a condo in Florida and a secret recipe for miracle cold cream, Olive grabs the chance at a new life in Starfish Cove, Florida, making designer creams for ladies who spend far too much time at the beach.

But when the quiet little community on the Gulf of Mexico soon begins to compete with a certain notorious coastal village in Maine, Olive finds herself solving odd-ball murders as often as she soothes wrinkles.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is a great series by Barbara Silkstone.
Olive and Lizzy are waiting for Sophia to come to the states and endorse their products.
Jaime aka Loud Mouth of the South and her husband Chip decide to have a Murder Mystery Party the craziness begins. Then it seems someone is trying to kill Jaime, making them seem like accidents. Can Olive and Lizzy get to the bottom of these incidents before Jaime ends up dead? Is her husband behind this?
These characters are so much fun, especially Lizzy ‘ s grandmother!!
Looking forward to more with these characters.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Other books in the series.

A small selection of other books by Barbara Silkstone

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Barbara on Goodreads:

Connect to Barbara via her website:

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

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Dead, White, and Blue (The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series) by Amy M. Reade

Another new book on the shelves this week, released on June 11th by Amy M. Reade… Dead, White, and Blue (The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series)

About the book

Summer is getting hotter in Juniper Junction, Colorado.There’s a firebug on the loose, the townspeople are nervous, and Lilly Carlsen, single mom to two teenagers, has even more to worry about. She’s in charge of the Independence Day celebration, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her son is getting ready to leave for college.But things are about to get even hotter: when a bistro owner dies at the celebration and Lilly’s best friend is charged with murder, events start hitting close to home. It’s up to Lilly to help clear her friend’s name while at the same time dealing her mom’s worsening forgetfulness as well as a coming-of-age issue under her own roof.

Head over and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

A selection of books by Amy Reade

One of the recent reviews for Trudy’s Diary

Trudy’s Diary: A libraries of the World Mystery is another great mystery offered by Amy M. Reade.

After moving to Washington D.C., Daisy Carruthers hopes life will settle down. She was involved in a murder investigation prior to moving and hopes to find peace and quiet. She’s exhausted. She finds she didn’t get what she wished for when she becomes embroiled in two more murders. Her boss, who was married to one of the victims, and her best friend, who was the last person to see the other victim, soon become persons of interest.

Daisy comes into possession of a very old diary and a dated dime novel and soon starts to see similar stories in these that might relate to the current crimes. Between her boss, her best friend and a woman she works with, things become complicated.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the twists and turns Ms. Reade used to further the story. I highly recommend this book to people who love a good mystery and great character development.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Amy on Goodreads:

About Amy Reade

USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade writes Gothic, traditional, and cozy mysteries. Her books have been compared to those by authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s standalone novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Her Malice series explores a family’s secrets and mysteries set against the breathtaking backdrops of Scotland and Wales. Her newest mystery, The Worst Noel, is the first in her Juniper Junction Holiday cozies.

A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling. She loves cooking, reading, and travel.

Connect to Amy


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be terrific if you would share news of Amy’s latest book. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – Trudy’s Diary (Libraries of the World Mysteries Book 1) by Amy M. Reade

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Amy M. Reade available on pre-order for April 16th, Trudy’s Diary (Libraries of the World Mysteries Book 1)

About the book

Daisy Carruthers moved to Washington, DC, from New York City following an emotionally draining murder investigation, little knowing she would soon be involved in two more. But when her boss and her best friend come under suspicion for killing two adulterous lovers, Daisy has no choice but to help when they ask.

And when she comes across a diary and an old dime novel with suspiciously similar stories and unknown origins, she knows all the mysteries are somehow connected.

​Can she figure out the identity of the killer–or killers–before it’s too late?

Head over and pre-order the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Also by Amy Reade

One of the recent reviews for Murder in Thistlecross on Goodreads

Feb 22, 2019 Anna rated it Five Stars

What an absolute treat it was to spend time with Eilidh, Sylvie and her husband Seamus once again. This is the third book in the Malice series and a true treasure. Eilidh has left the Scottish Highlands behind when she divorced her husband Callum after he went to prison. Since then she has been living in the village of Thistlecross in Wales. She has barely worked in her life but she has been the very successful estate manager of a 15th century castle. She adores working for Annabel Baines, whom she considers not just her employer but a good friend. When Annabel’s sons arrive for a visit, the warmth and happiness of the castle is replaced with doom and gloom.

As guests and staff alike start dying, Eilidh needs to keep her whits about her, not only to figure out what exactly is going on but to keep herself alive.

As always Ms. Reade has characters that are extremely likable and there are ones that you are just not happy with because they are so full of malice. Her words are so clear and descriptive that you feel as if you are sitting on Eilidh’s shoulders and seeing things unfold through her eyes. There is not in your face blood and guts, it’s very subtle and it delivers a much stronger punch that way. She also explored the horrors of drug abuse, the symptoms and the effects on the individual and the family in a very informative and sensitive way.

It was very hard to say goodbye to characters that I’ve grown to love in the Malice series. Maybe one day our paths will cross again

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Amy on Goodreads:

About Amy Reade

USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade writes Gothic, traditional, and cozy mysteries. Her books have been compared to those by authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s standalone novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Her Malice series explores a family’s secrets and mysteries set against the breathtaking backdrops of Scotland and Wales. Her newest mystery, The Worst Noel, is the first in her Juniper Junction Holiday cozies.

A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling. She loves cooking, reading, and travel.

Connect to Amy


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be terrific if you would share news of Amy’s latest book. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Sunday Interview – The Ultimate Bucket List – Owls and Learning Greek by Amy M. Reade

Welcome to the Sunday Interview and the theme is The Ultimate Bucket List.

In this interview series I would love to know what your top TWO items are on your bucket list and if you have not written one yet, then perhaps it is time to get your thinking caps on.

Here is more about how you can participate:

Today my guest is author Amy M. Reade who shares the top two items on her ultimate bucket list. Both are well worth being at the top of the list and let’s hope by putting it ‘out there’ in this post it will happen.

I was so excited when I read about Sally’s idea to talk about bucket lists. I’ve been giving mine a lot of thought—in fact, I have a “Bucket List” Pinterest board with lots of photos of exotic places I’d love to visit.

But just this morning I read a blog post with a poem about owls, accompanied by some beautiful photos of these birds of prey. And I got thinking—that’s what I want to see. An owl.

And I want to see it in or near my own backyard. I don’t want to see one at a zoo or on television or on the internet or anywhere else but my own neighborhood. My neighborhood is quite wooded, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Right?

Have you ever read Owl Moon by Jane Yolen? It used to be one of my favorite books to read to my children, and they heard it so often I think it became a favorite of theirs, too. In the story a young girl and her father go owling and the takeaway for owl watchers is this—you can’t do much other than hope an owl will come.

Sally asked people to write what steps they could take to achieve their bucket list dreams and the truth is I don’t know what steps to take. Aside from sitting outside at night, perfectly still, and hoping with all my might, is there anything else I should be doing? Perhaps people can share their suggestions in the comments because this bucket list item is going to be something I need some help doing.

Hopefully Amy will be seeing owls flying through her back garden soon but in the meantime here are some facts on owls with some observations….

My second bucket list item that doesn’t appear on Pinterest is to learn to speak Greek.

Somehow I think this will be easier than spotting an owl, but don’t quote me on that. I’m fascinated by the Greek language because it evokes an ancient wisdom and a culture that have largely been lost to us in modern times. When I think of the amazing scientific discoveries and the mind-bending philosophy that came from the ancient Greeks, I find myself just itching to have a better understanding of the language. I took Latin in high school for four years and loved every minute of it. I loved being able to read centuries-old texts in their original language. And I can only imagine that learning Greek would be even better, and probably more challenging.

Before you say, “You know modern Greek is not the same as what the ancient Greeks spoke, right?,” rest assured that I do know that. But I also believe that learning to speak Greek will bring me just a little closer to having a better understanding of history, philosophy, and language in general.

So here’s my plan: the BBC has a page (archived) on its website devoted to teaching people very basic Greek. Since free is good, I’ve also found some apps and YouTube channels that introduce beginners to the Greek alphabet and conversational Greek phrases.

My desire is to be able to say more than just “Where is the cheese?” or “I’d like red wine” (though these two phrases should serve me very well for many of my needs), so once I’ve learned some of the basics I expect to have to shell out some money for better lessons with more in-depth content.

I should mention that I’ve never been to Greece and I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. This can be good and bad—good in the sense that a native speaker may never hear me and thus not be offended by my feeble attempts to converse, and bad in the sense that I may never be able to immerse myself in a culture that speaks Greek fluently (communities in the United States that hold Greek festivals may be the closest I come to that). But I do hope that one day I can confidently say “Opa!” and know what I’m talking about.

Good luck Amy with learning Greek and here is something to get you started.

My thanks to Amy for sharing her two top items on her bucket list and I am sure you join me in wishing her every success in achieving them.

About Amy. M. Reade

USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade writes women’s contemporary and gothic fiction. Her books have been compared to authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s standalone novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Most recently, she has been working on The Malice series, set in the United Kingdom.

A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling. She loves cooking, reading, and travel.

Books by Amy M. Reade

The most recent review for Amy’s latest release Highland Peril

The adventure in the Highlands starts with a prologue, which befits the historical element needed to tell this tale. Here the true story of the removal of the Honours of Scotland from Dunnottar Castle are told, albeit with a tasty twist that then spawns the rest of the book. While the prologue is quite factual and descriptive, the slow start proves effective when the story switches to a first person narrative set in modern times. The marked change in technique jolts the reader into the lives of Sylvie and Seamus, man and wife, and owners of a small Scottish gallery where they craft and sell Seamus’s paintings & Sylvie’s photographs – all inspired by the stunning landscapes surrounding Cauld Loch.

When a painting – that has been sitting quietly in Seamus’s gallery for many years – garners interest from two buyers, all sorts of questions arise. Why now? Why this painting? But it is only when the purchaser is later found dead following a car crash that all sorts of conspiracies come to the fore. The “accident” brings the police to their door and from hereon the Carmichaels’ lives are plunged into danger – both physical and marital. The author unites the two threads effortlessly, making the reader want to know a)who killed the buyer? b)where is the painting now? and c)will Sylvie & Seamus survive the ordeal – or rather, will their marriage?

Happily, the author immerses the reader fully into Scottish life, using British terms like ‘trousers’ and ‘mobile phones’ to keep the characters relevant and true. (Although I did spy a ‘sidewalk’ and the use of ‘bills’ as money too – but this says more about me being pernickety than anything else). The scenery is painted – pardon the pun – with great skill and diligence, worthy of any material the Scottish Tourist Board might issue. I challenge any reader to not be enchanted by the imagery and want to immediately book a trip themselves.

The story moves at a good pace, it will keep you turning the pages – or scrolling – and there are many twists and turns ahead. The questions are neatly resolved by the end, but you will undoubtedly feel the need to read more by this author. It is a rare talent to combine history and mystery with contemporary settings, characters and situations. I could see these characters in a soap opera, they have great appeal but are thoroughly down-to-earth and believable. I loved the historical flavour and felt it made for an addictive plot.

Another great story from Amy M. Reade and one I’d recommend to any mystery reader with a love for history and Scotland.

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Amy M. Reade, Seumas Gallacher and Nicholas Rinth

Welcome to the Friday cafe and bookstore update and we have some great new books to add to the shelves. The first is Highland Peril by Amy M. Reade which was published on 5th September.

About Highland Peril

Trading the urban pace of Edinburgh for a tiny village overlooking a breathtaking blue loch was a great move for budding photographer Sylvie Carmichael and her artist husband, Seamus—until a dangerous crime obscures the view . . .

Sylvie’s bucolic life along the heather-covered moors of the Highlands is a world away from the hectic energy of the city. But then a London buyer is killed after purchasing a long-lost Scottish masterpiece from Seamus’s gallery—and the painting vanishes. As suspicion clouds their new life, and their relationship, Sylvie’s search for answers plunges her into an unsolved mystery dating back to Cromwellian Scotland through World War I and beyond. And as she moves closer to the truth, Sylvie is targeted by a murderer who’s after a treasure within a treasure that could rewrite history . . . and her own future.

An early review of the book

Great Read! on September 5, 2017

Another 5 Star hit from Amy M Reade. The prologue set me off! Intrigue might be a good word to describe it. After reading those first few pages, I could not wait to get into the story. And the story did not disappoint. It was beautifully written, filled with edge of your seat events. And if you think you know what will happen next, think again!

Having read all of Amy’s books, I think I have a good feel for who the murderer is going to be. Expect the unexpected is what I tell myself! But lo and behold, I was wrong as usual. The characters were beautifully developed to give the reader a sense of their emotions; sadness, happiness, disappointment, not to mention helplessness.

Of course Amy never disappoints when it comes to descriptions, which is something I love. The food, the language, the countryside smells, everything a reader needs to be right there with the characters! I have a new favorite Amy M. Reade book and I highly recommend!

Head over and check the book out:

Also by Amy M. Reade

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Our next author with a new book on the shelves is Seumas Gallacher with a move from his thriller series starring Jack Calder…Those of us who follow Seumas on Facebook have enjoyed his all too rare poetry posts and so this collection has been published due to popular demand. A Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey was published on August 31st.

About the collection.

An innovative collection of poems with prefaced stories on the genesis of each piece. An established author’s reflections in verse on parts of a journey through a life and career.

And here is an early review for the collection.

I loved the format of this collection and the way each poem is grouped according to subject matter:- reflection, humour, love or, the more general, ‘the madness of man,’ making the book easy to dip into and providing plenty of material to suit a particular mood or occasion. Each is introduced by a brief resume from the author about his life at the time of writing and what prompted him to write it, creating a fascinating potted biographer along the way and increasing anticipation of what is to follow.

For example, as in, ‘The Night Rain,’ a poem in which it adds an extra layer to know that these are the thoughts of a sixteen year old boy, recovering in hospital from an operation and far from home and family:- ‘See the moonbeams, lonely, shine in puddles forming on the ground, reflecting, for no-one, a silvery water-line.’

The book encompasses a life-time, past and present, youth and age, innocence and experience, from the light and tender, ‘To Weep is not a Shame’, to the sense of loss in ‘At Home’, or to the reflective, ‘A Thought or Two on Memories’, a looking back on life in ‘the quiet times/with no one else around’. But all the poems touched my emotion in some way. I particularly liked, ‘Thoughts on a Wild Thing’ and the ‘kindly evening breeze’ that brings a refreshing coolness to the young couple walking home, flushed from the dance. The movement and emotion of the dance, ‘the coil of tousled hair and cheeks, flushed with fast and furious flurry’, is carried on throughout the poem, as in the dancing ‘leaf-laden birches’ and it’s just a sweet and innocent poem.

‘Golden Moments’, a moving tribute to enduring love, is just beautiful, the deep feelings expressed contrasting strongly with the despair of, ‘I asked the Wind’, which is about the hopelessness experienced when a love affair turns sour, leaving one partner bereft.

Of the more general poems, ‘To the Flowers of Tiananmen Square’, stood out for me. We probably all remember the iconic image of the young, flag-bearing student, bravely facing down the tank, but reading this poem, made me remember how I felt at the time, too and catches at the mood exactly. I was also touched by, ‘How many more migrants must we lose?’

The reality of the tragic loss of life really hit home as the voice of the narrator switches from father to child, re-enforcing the senseless waste of a child’s life.

In the preface, Seumas Gallacher talks of the little attention he feels he’s paid to the rhythm, balance and metre of his poetry but on reading his collection, I could only think that this really doesn’t matter. Each poem has its own flow and is expressive of an honest and vivid emotion, carrying the reader along with it with its own force. I think he has a true poet’s heart.

Here is the link to buy the collection:


Also by Seumas Gallacher

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And another collection of poetry, Sitting in Silence was published on September 2nd by Nicholas Rinth.

About Sitting in Silence.

Sitting in Silence is a collection of poetry and prose birthed during the idle instances of life that allow for noiseless introspection. It’s about the struggles of love, of loss, and of the unsuspecting experiences in between that make life worth living—and worth scorning.

From a beginning filled with bitter ruminations, to an ending that embraces reality and its sufferings, Sitting in Silence is a reminder to accept what the world hurls in your path, and to let those hardships shape you into something better.

You can buy the collection here:

Also by Nicholas Rinth

The most recent review for Heartstone – The Drowned Tower

The drowned tower is the first fantasy novel in the Heartstone Series written about a girl named Sylvie. Sylvie possesses magical powers and works for the Zenith Council by doing their biddings. The Drowned Tower is at the Eastern Branch of the land, which is called, Ferus Terria. The Practitioners Institute of Magic picks one child as the “Chosen” and just like any other institute, it teaches kids to enhance their magical abilities.

Things begin to change when an Elder comes to Ferus Terria. He has a mission and is seeking for people with best abilities. Sylvia is sent to the drowned tower. Those with special blood that have magical powers live in the drowned tower. The Nebbin are called the non-magic folks that live nearby. As Sylvie gets sent to the tower and begins her schooling she begins to make friends and have a better understanding of how the system works. Her path and background are revealed and she has to make some tough decisions about her future.

Everything begins to unravel while she is there and that is where the excitement begins. I particularly liked Sylvie’s personality. Although she was a girl, there was nothing girly about her. Her spirit was strong and her will was even stronger. The story had epic battles and much backstory, creating a well-balanced foundation for any future sequel.

I found the literature standard and the lyrical storytelling to be strong. The plot may not be as novel and unique, however, the picturesque descriptiveness of the book is in my opinion, the reason why this book is special.

I recommend this book to Sci- Fi/ Fantasy lovers and people that like to read on magical encounters.

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Thank you for dropping by and perhaps today you might just check to see if you are in the Cafe and Bookstore and if you are missing a new book that has been published recently let me know at so that I can include in the next update and add to the shelves.

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Sue Coletta, Janice Spina and Amy M. Reade

Welcome to the first of the updates this week with two new books on the schelves and a discounted book offer. First a new release by the crime thriller writer Sue Coletta  with the Mayhem Series crossover novella – Special Forces: Operation Alpha: Hacked.

About the book

Shawnee Daniels wrongly assumes she’s being punished for innocently hacking the Police Chief’s photos. Okay, maybe not-so-innocently, but someone had to expose him for the dog that he is. When she arrives at the mandatory computer seminar, the FBI enlists her help in stopping a serial killer who’s remotely hacking vehicles while the owners are behind the wheel.

Why he’s targeted these people remains a mystery. None of the victims frequent the same places, some don’t even live in the same state. The only commonality is they all drive Fords.

When Detective Levaughn Samuels is taken hostage—his life teetering on the edge of a high-speed chase—there’s nothing Shawnee won’t do to save him, no line she won’t cross. And when her BFF shows up unannounced with problems of her own, she only complicates matters.

Can Shawnee stop the killer before she loses the only man she’s ever loved? Or will the ride of his life end in death?

One of the early reviews for the book

I honestly thought after reading the description of this book that I wouldn’t understand the technicalities of it and that might put me off. But once the journey began I was gripped from start to finish. The explanations of how the hacks were being performed simply blended in with the storyline. I think I read this book most of the time with my heart in mouth and my blood pumping at the same speed that the cars were travelling at. Will Shawnee save her love in time, before he too flies over a cliff or crashes into a tree? Will the hacker be caught to prevent more of these terrifying murders…….the reveal of who the hacker is will have your jaw hitting the floor and your heart melting at the same time.
I cannot fault Sues work. Her attention to detail, how she crafts each character into an imaginable reality, people we care about!

So, if you want a ride on the seat of your pants read, heart stopping, fear inducing as well as tear inducing. This the one for you. I can assure you, if this is the first book you’ve read by this author you will want to read more. This is a novella, but her novels are just as gripping. So get your car keys and rev up for this 5 star pageturner!

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Also by Sue Coletta

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The next new book is prolific children’s books and mystery writer Janice Spina... the fifth case for Davey & Derek Junior Detectives with the Case of the Sad Mischievous Ghost.

About the book

Twins Davey and Derek Donato, junior detectives by their own design, are enlisted by two new characters, Abby Rizzo and her cousin Holly, sixth graders, to assist them in finding and capturing the spooky beings that haunt their house.

When the boys visit Abby’s house they discover that this old Victorian house holds many secrets and shocking revelations for all. This house appears to be haunted by multiple stubborn specters. When one of the apparitions appears to Abby and Holly and presents them with two books that reveal the identity of one of the specters, the girls feel compelled to help the ghosts find their way to the other side. Once the girls share this new information with the twins, Davey and Derek, find that they may need the assistance of their Great Aunt Gigi to handle these mischievous phantoms.

Buy the new Junior Detectives adventure:

A selection of other books by Janice Spina.

The latest review for Janice’s short story collection An Angel Among Us.

This is a collection of several short stories that bring heart touching messages to all of us. I found the first story the most beautiful, but all of the stories will bring a smile of tenderness and a warm feeling to your heart. The author did a great job bringing together amazing short stories that are a pleasure to read.

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Finally Amy M. Reade is offering her book House of the Hanging Jade for just 99c until the end of the month.

About the book

A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .

Tired of the cold winters in Washington, D.C. and disturbed by her increasingly obsessive boyfriend, Kailani Kanaka savors her move back to her native Big Island of Hawaii. She also finds a new job as personal chef for the Jorgensen family. The gentle caress of the Hawaiian trade winds, the soft sigh of the swaying palm trees, and the stunning blue waters of the Pacific lull her into a sense of calm at the House of Hanging Jade–an idyll that quickly fades as it becomes apparent that dark secrets lurk within her new home. Furtive whispers in the night, a terrifying shark attack, and the discovery of a dead body leave Kailani shaken and afraid. But it’s the unexpected appearance of her ex-boyfriend, tracking her every move and demanding she return to him, that has her fearing for her life

Two of the most recent reviews for the book

I always enjoy a lighter read when I travel, and this fit the bill. Great setting of Hawaii, yummy scenes about food, and enough mystery to keep me guessing. I enjoyed the fluent writing style and the wonderful descriptions, particularly of the Hawaiian landscape and the culinary delights. There are heavier themes of marital strife, adultery, and stalking though, so the book has ample literary heft. Made my plane ride fly by.

The author captures the beautiful locale of the book, Kohala on the Island of Hawaii, with her crystalline prose and lovingly articulated imagery. Though she lives in New Jersey, she writes convincingly in the first person as a young Polynesian woman working as a personal chef. Her descriptions of the local, Asian fusion cuisine are so authentic, I can practically taste items on the menu. The book’s dramatic tension builds deliciously as well. This book is fun to read while portraying issues of fidelity and violence in personal relationships. I highly recommend it.

Download your copy at the offer price of 99c:

Also by Amy M. Reade

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Amy M. Reade and C.S. Boyack

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe Update and the first author is Amy M. Reade who has an offer on one of her books at the moment… The House on Candlewick Lane is just 99c until July 2nd.

About The House on Candlewick Lane

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.

Two of the latest reviews for the book

I’ve read and enjoyed several of Amy Reade’s books, and The House on Candlewick Lane is my favorite one yet. I hesitated at first; I like books of suspense but get fearful of those that include child abductions. But Reade’s book focuses more on the parent involved with the search for her child, who is kidnapped, yes, but by an ex-husband who loves his daughter yet takes her for some unknown reason. The main character, Greer, is well-developed as a fearful loving mom who searches desperately for her child. The search leads her to Edinburgh, where the ex-husband was raised, and the setting is perfect for this fast-moving mystery/thriller and, dare I say, love story. A fulfilling page-turner that I’m so glad I read.

When Greer Dobbins’s daughter is kidnapped by her estranged husband, Greer stops at nothing to get her back, even traveling halfway across the world to find her. I loved the Scottish setting, which brought back memories of my own trip there years ago, and was excited to read this book for that reason alone, but it was the nonstop suspense that kept me turning pages all weekend long. With a cast of interesting and well-developed characters, the author had me suspecting just about everyone, and she did a fabulous job of keeping me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Greer’s fears for kidnapped daughter are palpable, and the danger she herself faces feels real and immediate. I almost felt as though I was in Greer’s place, living out her nightmare, but also rejoicing along with her as well. So well done!

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Also by Amy M. Reade

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The next author with a recent review is C.S. Boyack for his YA Fantasy book  Will O’ the Wisp.

About the book

There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, face the wilderness, and an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.
One of the recent reviews for the book

It’s another mashup of genres in Will O’ the Wisp. If I were to take To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Body or It (Stephen King), Any Harry Potter book, and a script from the TV show Stranger Things and throw them in a blender, it would make the smoothie that is this book and it would be a very tasty smoothy.

Boyack does an excellent job of telling the story from the point of view of Patty, a teenage girl, making it much more believable than other well-known authors that have attempted to write from the young adult perspective (John Grisham, Harlan Coben).

His main character is flawed, yet displays an enviable strength that ultimately has her taking a life and death situation into her own hands and dealing with it.

I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy any of the previously mentioned authors in my mashup description. The book has a classic storytelling feel with great period writing from the 1970s and a story that appeals to contemporary tastes. Another great read from C.S. Boyack.

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Also by C.S. Boyack

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Thanks for dropping by today and your sharing of the post is much appreciated… Sally