Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – The Story Reading Ape with his Guest Michelle Clements James

Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

Here is the second post from Christopher Graham, The Story Reading Ape. He suggested that having such an extensive archive, that I share some of his guest posts. It serves another purpose apart from showcasing that guest, as it is reminder to you that Chris loves having new guest write for his blog. This week I am sharing the guest post in 2014 of Michelle Clements James who is a wonderful supporter of this blog too and most of yours I would imagine.

The Story Reading Ape – and his guest Michelle Clements James

I am a reader, not a writer. So why am I blogging?

I am a reader, and I blog about sharing the books I love whether romance, historical fiction, chick lit, biography, memoir, fantasy, classic, contemporary fiction, and children’s books. What I will never read are thrillers (I even hid behind a pillow during JURASSIC PARK). My blog is a place to talk about current reads, and many of the wonderful books I’ve read over the years, as well. Occasionally I throw in a post about my family. I recently participated in the A to Z Challenge to write a post every day during April. I invite comments and recommendations to all posts.

A bit about me…

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio and raised my children here as well. I went to college at the University of Cincinnati and majored in Geology with a minor in German and in English.

After college, I entered the workforce, but soon left that behind when my children were born. While raising my sons, I embarked on a fulfilling volunteer path for such groups as our local children’s hospital, church, neighborhood association, PTA, classroom volunteer, Kindervelt (a local non-profit to benefit Cincinnati Children’s Hospital), military academy parents’ organization, and Make-a-Wish. Volunteering enabled me to develop lifelong leadership skills and establish an extensive professional and social network.

Of course, I have always been a voracious reader, seeking out books that are both satisfying and enjoyable. I have endeavored quite successfully to pass my love of reading on to my sons and grandchildren.

I am married to my soul mate and have three amazing adult sons and two wonderful daughters-in-law. At present count, I have three grandsons and a granddaughter. My grandchildren bring me the greatest joy imaginable.

From a Reader’s Point of View

I started blogging to share my thoughts on books I’ve read and a few other things besides (grandchildren included). But, I am a reader, not a writer as is clearly stated in the first line of the  About page on my blog Book Chat. So why am I writing now? We-e-e-l-l, Chris the Story Reading Ape asked me to write something from a reader’s point of view.

Do I like to read? You bet! I will read anything I can get my hands on – short stories, the newspaper, books, poetry, magazines, cereal boxes. You get my point. I say anything, but that’s not quite true. I don’t particularly like science fiction, and I refuse to read anything spooky. No thrillers for me…none…zilch…nada…NEVER!


Reading books is by far my favorite, so what do I look for in a book?

  1. Characters that seem real are a must. This to me is the most important attribute. I want to get to know the characters, have a relationship with them whether friend or foe, good guy or bad. I want them to have depth, to be flawed, have the same problems as everyone else. And…I want them to be memorable!
  2. Plot. Plot is the second aspect I look for in a book. I expect something that is plausible and yet intense. I want it to pull me in from the start. I will read as far as a hundred pages, and if it hasn’t hooked me, I will go no further. Hey, there are too many fish in the sea books to settle for something that is sub-par. Give me a unique story line. Nothing is worse than reading a book that retells the same story with different people and places. Surprise me! Be creative! Give me something new! Do your homework. Don’t tell me every detail, lead me there. Just show me the way and leave room for my imagination.
  3. The ending? Again surprise me. Don’t be predictable. I don’t want to figure it out half way through the book (why finish?). Bring your story to an ending that is unforgettable. Leave me with a moral quandary to ponder. Please don’t just ride off into the sunset.

If a book doesn’t hold my interest in the above three areas, I will probably not pick up another by the same author.

Will I read a book that expresses political or religious beliefs, cultural or racial differences? Absolutely, but my reviews are about what is written, and are not necessarily my personal views.

Am I critical of the author? Yes and no. I will tell it as I see (or read) it, but I don’t believe in trashing a book or its author. It is perfectly okay for you to like a book I can’t stand or for me to love one that you couldn’t bring yourself to finish. My goal is that the reader, after perusing my reviews, will find a book worthy of his/her time.


E-Book or Physical Book? I love the feel and smell of a real bound book, but the convenience of being able to take a couple of books (okay, okay – a LOT of books) on my e-reader wherever I go is hard to resist. It is my favorite travel companion. There is no more finishing a book and wondering what to do for the next hour of the flight. I just start the next e-book.


Ok folks, I’ve got to go. I hear another book begging to be read, but if you’d like to visit with me, you can find me at the following online links:

My WordPress BlogMy Tumblr Blog


About The Story Reading Ape

It does not matter if you blog once a week, once a day or several times a day but it does matter that it is consistent. We all love the fact that people who have dropped in on the off chance keep coming back for more. In my opinion it is down to the quality of the posts and also the expectation that readers will find something of interest.

The Story Reading Ape has this down to a fine art and the list of subjects that adorn his enclosure is lengthy. He is certainly a huge supporter of Indie authors across all genres and stages of their career and offers articles and information that is invaluable.

Chris has also published a volume of his mother’s poetry

One of the reviews for the collection

A charming book that reflects a woman’s life and times in verse…and humour. Rosie and Willie had me chuckling, especially as I can see just where Willie is coming from! The poems are written from an Irish perspective, but there is much a Yorkshirewoman can recognise.

The verses about the Troubles made me think. I could feel the pain in the words. “What matters is the depth of God’s sighs.”

There are memories that I seem to remember through my own mother and grandmothers’ tales, of a time now gone and a world awakening before a young woman’s eyes.

And the story of the Old, Old Man had me in tears.

Published by her son as a labour of love, in tribute to his mother, Agnes Mae Graham’s work stands up all on its own.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Part of Chris’s immense enclosure is given over to The Great Hall of Fame… This is where Indies can exhibit their work by penning an article talking about themselves and their work. (Talk about a writers dream!) Once posted the author is then elevated to the Hall of Fame to reside with hundreds of other authors from around the world, who have taken that exciting but challenging step of being a published author.

Connect to Chris


My thanks to Chris for allowing me to access his archives… and I am sure he would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – To Bee or Not to Bee by Rosie Amber

Welcome to the series where you can share four of your links from your archives here on my blog to a new audience. Perhaps posts that you wrote at the beginning of your blogging experience that deserve another showcase. If you have book promotion posts then please contact me separately for other options. Details of how to get in touch with me at the end of the post.

Welcome to the first post from the Archives of blogger and book reviewer Rosie Amber. Apart from reviewing books online on her blogs and social media, Rosie has a YouTube channel that I suggest you head over and check out.

To Bee or Not to Bee by Rosie Amber

Whilst surfing Twitter recently, I was reminded about the world plight of the humble honey bee, a creature ignored by me for some decades. Why? I spent them recovering from the scars of my teenage years.

Let me explain. I was around five or six years old when my father brought home his first swarm of bees. Weird, I thought. Like you do when you’re that age. I didn’t realise I was expected to partake in looking after them.

We dutifully dressed in long sleeves and trousers, my brother and I wearing the bee hats mother had recently sewn for us. We stood at a ‘safe’ distance on a drowsy summer’s evening in the orchard and watched as father presented the bees with their new home, and we waited for their approval. Over the next few years, it became apparent that my mother and brother were allergic to the stings and father and I weren’t.

Unlucky me!

I remember tagging along on trips to a workshop where the smell of warm beeswax scented the air, while father made sheets and sheets of hexagonal rectangles. I was bored stiff fascinated. During winter evenings he spent hours making wooden frames for the sheets to hang in.

Honey extracting was mother’s job. On hot summer days, we had all the windows and doors to the kitchen shut tight, to keep out any thieving bees and wasps. The wax frames were back, this time heavy with oozing golden honey. Most of it was covered in a thin layer of wax called a cap, which the bees added once they’d filled each cell with sweet honey. Mother’s work involved slicing off the caps, then spinning the honey out in a large drum type dustbin. It was sticky, but delicious work for small helpers.

The size of father’s apiary grew, as did his ambition to farm different flavours of honey. He needed to take the hives to different locations during the summer months. We had honey made from lime trees, oil seed rape and heather, to name a few.

I spent many summer hours, during my teens, with my father, helping him with his hobby and ruining my chances of any street cred . Mainly I helped when he needed to move the hives. Covered from head to foot, sweltering in protective clothing, including: a knitted Balaclava, thick gloves and a bee hat. We crept around the countryside in a rusty old Ford van at dusk or dawn when the bees would all be safely home. There’s nothing like being up close and personal at the end of a summer’s day with nature. NOTHING like it! Particularly when you stumble with the hive because it’s so heavy your arms are burning, and your short arm length means your chin is trapped on the hive roof and you can’t see where to put each footstep. So when the aforementioned ‘stumble’ causes a shift in the sections of the hive you’ve got, the last thing you want to hear is a buzz of an angry bee by your ear from the ONE or DOZEN that have just escaped. At this point Father wouldn’t allow us to run off screaming into the far distance stop and put the hive down. I had to hold on until we made it to the van and he soothed his ‘ladies’ and fixed their home.

In all my years of helping we were only stopped by the police once. I’m sure we looked very dodgy, driving slowly around country lanes, stopping in remote places. On that single occasion the policeman beat a hasty retreat after he poked his head in the back of the van, where upon he heard an ominous buzzing, and we were never stopped again.

Twice a year my father took me to The New Forest. The delightful picture of the wild ponies, a peaceful red dawn painting the sky, whilst early sun burned off a light mist, is never quite the same view from behind a bee veil, bouncing miles down a remote track away from the tourists. Every bump meant a rise in the volume of humming from behind our seats, mixing with my fear that the bump would cause a shift and one or two of father’s ‘lovely ladies’ would join us in the front! Windows were firmly shut in case of escapes. No bee would be left behind, to fly off into the unknown without her family.

The New Forest was home to acres of heather plants, and father hoped the bees would make some of the precious dark coloured, strongly flavour delight. We left them to enjoy their holidays and returned in October to bring them home. I used to insist father took me to the seaside after our early morning jaunt, but, alas, I was never dressed right for the occasion, no matter how often I dreamed of the trip.

I’m coming full circle back to the bees; a few years ago I did some talks in the local primary school. I created a story about the hive, giving the children parts to play and letting them handle some of the beekeepers tools. Now I incorporate honey into my family’s diet and I’ll always help a lost and lonesome bee back to a flower. But will I one day take on father’s apiary? I’m not sure.

What about you? Any beekeepers out there?

Thank you to Rosie for a fascinating look at bees and some of the shenanigans that go along with keeping them. Being a Hampshire lass it was lovely to see something of home. More to come from Rosie next week.

©Rosie Amber – images 2017

About Rosie Amber

Thank you for stopping by and taking a break from the chaos of life. Take the weight off of your feet for a while and find something about your day to smile about; thank you for becoming part of my world, if just for a minute or two. It’s a shame you can’t smell the roses, but if you take a virtual stroll around I hope you’ll find a book you might like to curl up with, some useful advice if you’re a writer or blogger, or one of my more personal pieces that you may find interesting.

I was brought up in the beautiful Hampshire countryside. I am married with two children and juggle part-time work with full-time motherhood. I started blogging to combine a love of reading with a desire to embrace social technology; since then it’s developed into a passion to introduce avid readers to new writers, and offer a platform for little-known talent.

I review nearly all the books that I read, and post to Goodreads and Amazon US and UK. Aside from this blog, you’ll see my reviews posted on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve even branched out to do 90 second YouTube book reviews to try to reach the reading youth of today. I take submissions for my personal reading list, and also have a review team with approximately 30 active readers; if you would like to submit your book, please click the ‘Your Book Reviewed’ page, above.

I am so grateful for the support from visitors to my blog, and all you have done to spread the word about it on social media, not least of all nominating me for online blog awards. I was proud to be awarded runner-up in ‘Best Book Blog’ award in 2016, in the hugely popular and far-reaching Bloggers Bash, and third place in 2015 and 2017.

The Rosie Amber blog is an ever-growing, ever evolving entity, and my wish is to continue to provide a great service to readers, writers and blog addicts everywhere.

Connect to Rosie

Facebook :

If you would like to share some of your archive posts from when you began blogging, then please send up to four links to

Please do not send self-promotional book posts as there are several other ways to promote your books here. I am looking for posts on life, relationships, health, creative writing, food, music and travel.. If you have a short story to share that is great too.

Thank you for dropping by and look forward to your comments for Rosie.