Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Eighth Day of Christmas with guest Donata Zawakzka and Robbie Cheadle


Not long now until the big day and my guests in this party are Donata Zawakzka who is a talented artist and illustrator, and who is responsible for the artwork in my latest book Tales from the Irish Garden… My other guest is poet and author Robbie Cheadle, who also creates art in the form of fondant figures that illustrate the children’s books she writes with her son Michael. Robbie will be sharing her most favourite Christmas gift ever.

Sally’s Christmas Past

My memory of Christmas past is of my father and the 12.45 rule that was strictly adhered to throughout my childhood and teenage years.

My father cooked the Christmas lunch for as long as I could remember which would be from about age four or five. We lived on Hoad’s Hill which was on the main road into the village of Wickham from Portsmouth and Fareham. My mother had been brought up in the village from the age of seven. Her father had been killed in the last week of the First World War when she was just 18 months old and my grandmother had worked as a seamstress and eked out the small war pension that she was awarded. Eventually she returned to Hampshire where her mother’s family farmed and to be close to her father and sisters in Gosport.

My grandmother married the master butcher Norman Welch whose shop was at the top of the square when my mother was about seven years old and eventually he had built the house on Hoad’s Hill. Each day he would telephone from the shop and ask what the boy should bring up for lunch. The boy on his bike would duly arrive with the joint of the day. With wonderful farms in the area for other fresh produce and a large orchard at the rear of the house, food was plentiful and varied. Norman was quite a bit older but adored my grandmother who was quite the lady and apparently there was much tension around the Sunday dinner table when he would soak his poor shop weary feet in a mustard bath…..

My parents married in 1940 but my father was at sea for almost all of the next six years only returning from the Far East in 1946. Norman or ‘Pop’ as we knew him deeded the house to my mother and went to live in a small cottage closer to Fareham.  Sinclair was our family home where my two elder sisters and myself grew up, joined by my brother when I was four years old. Wickham Village was a wonderful community where we knew most of the families amongst the villagers and the local farmers. At the end of the square is a tea house that is still in business today and has been renamed in honour of Lily Langtry. In our day however it was run by my mother’s best friend Margaret with the help of her elderly mother and aunt.

Wonderful cakes and other delights were always paraded before us in the back kitchen where we as almost family would gather and on Christmas morning it was a tradition for all of us to go down to Aunty Margaret’s for presents, and for my parents to enjoy a bit of the stronger stuff. We always came away with a large tin of Quality Street and our gifts, and after the short car ride home we would tuck into the turkey and trimmings… Legend has it that after one or two Christmas dinners that were on the dry and rather crispy side, my father decided to take over the preparation and cooking as my mother was adamant that our traditional social gathering in the square should continue. He would drop off my mother, two sisters and myself and baby brother, and then return home to finish the preparation and cooking. While the turkey rested and the potatoes roasted he would drop down and pick us up with the absolute rule that the dinner had to be on the table at 12.45 precisely.

As time went on, and whenever he was not at sea, my father would cook the weekend lunches and the 12.45 rule was adhered to. There were awful ructions if we were not prompt and I can tell you that as we became of drinking age, there were some sprint records broken from the local pub in the High Street, Old Portsmouth where we had moved to in 1958.

When he finally retired from the Navy, he took over all the cooking and right up to the day he died at age 80, lunch was always on the table on the dot of 12.45. He became a wonderful cook and in his 70s discovered the wonders of a Wok and would make the most sensational Chinese meals. He was however, first and foremost a ‘pudding’ man and his steamed treacle suet puddings were legendary – I am sure that a couple of inches I have never been able to shift of my hips are down to his steamed puddings both savoury and sweet…..particularly at Christmas.

Time for some music and another timeless classic.. Little Drummer Boy, this time from the Pipes and Drummer of the Irish Defence Forces… Óglaigh na hÉireann / Irish Defence Forces

Now time to meet Donata Zawadzka who I wanted to thank in this series of posts for her wonderful illustrations that she created for my book Tales from the Irish Garden. Not only did she work very closely to the visions that I had in my mind for the characters, but she included me at every step of the process and undercharged in my opinion for the amount of work involved. If you are looking to illustrate a children’s book or need a book cover, Donata also works in colour. You can find out more about her work in an interview last year

Here are two of the illustrations from Tales from the Irish Garden that demonstrate how talented Donata is.

About Donata

My name is Donata Ewa Zawadzka. I’m Polish born artist living in Gravesend, Kent. After completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Poland I moved into United Kingdom and here I obtained a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books in London Art College in 2010. Since then I finished 2 ebook for children in collaboration with British and American writers. I took part in 2 exhibitions in Dartford and London. I’m continuing to work as freelance artist available for commission.

Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website : http://dezawadzka.wix.com/donatasgallery
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations
Like Dona on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donataewa.zawadzka?fref=ts
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonataEZawadzka

In Dona’s interview last year she mentioned that although she loved living in England, she missed the wonderful forests of the Tatra Mountains that were her home… they are certainly majestic.  I hope she will enjoy this short video.

Thanks to all things festive Why Christmas here is something about Christmas crackers.

They were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen the French ‘bon bon’ sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper). He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet. But they didn’t sell very well.

Legend says that, one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half.

Crackers were originally called ‘cosaques’ and were thought to be named after the ‘Cossack’ soldiers who had a reputation for riding on their horses and firing guns into the air!

When Tom died, his expanding cracker business was taken over by his three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry. Walter introduced the hats into crackers and he also traveled around the world looking for new ideas for gifts to put in the crackers.

Traditionally apart from a plastic toy… there is a paper hat and a silly joke… something along the lines of the following courtesy of Funny Jokes

What did Father Christmas do when he went speed dating?
He pulled a cracker!

What do you get if Santa comes down your chimney when the fire is ablaze?
Crisp Kringle.

Why does rain drop, but snow fall?
(Nobody can answer this conundrum)

What do you get if you team Santa with a detective?
Santa Clues!

What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?
Frostbite.

What is the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?
The Christmas alphabet has No L (Noel).

Day 8 (1st January) is a celebration of Mary the Mother of Jesus and obviously Mary was extremely important within the whole story of the Nativity from the Virgin conception through Jesus’s lifetime. Mary has been revered in her own right especially with women in a number of religions including Eastern Orthadox and as Maryam in the Muslim faith.

The Eighth Day of Christmas and we appear to have moved away from the bird theme and to be honest since we had reached the largest bird known to us the next step would have been ostrich and it would have ruined the song. We move onto the eight maids a milking.

One of the more intricate recipes that has run parallel to the song itself was the roasting of a swan but inside that de-boned swan would be a goose, a colly bird, a French Hen a turtle dove and then a partridge.. It took many hours to prepare but was considered a dish fit to put before a king…Thankfully even our present day royalty seem to content to have the humble turkey for their dinner which is just as well since that is the subject of the food today.

Time to meet my next guest who is not likely to be a stranger to you. Children’s author, YA author and Poet Robbie Cheadle who has become a powerhouse in our blogging community with her support for all of us with guest spots and her book reviews. You can sample some of her amazing fondant work (often appears in the books that she writes with her son Michael) on her Blog. 

You will also be able to enjoy the families vacations across their stunning home of South Africa and their frequent trips abroad.  To find out more about her books you can also visit her Website

Robbie shares her most favourite Christmas Gift.

When I was a small girl of five years old, my mother didn’t work. As a result money was tight but my parents always managed to give my sister and me a special gift for Christmas. I was an avid doll lover and I remember receiving a First Love doll that year. She was beautiful and I could feed her water with a bottle. The water would come out into the small nappies that came with the doll. My mother hand sewed and knitted that doll a large wardrobe of clothes from scraps of material and bits of leftover wool.

Aaahh… well here is one of the adverts for First Love Dolls and I hope it brings back happy memories for Robbie….

You can read the reviews for Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s books as well as Robbie’s stand alone novel and poetry collection: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ
Blog: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

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One of the recent reviews for While the Bombs Fell

While WWII raged in England and the men left home and battled enemy forces, the bombs fell and the women and children left behind took care of the business of living. We rarely get the inside story of what it was like for the mothers and daughters; grandmothers and aunts and sisters, who had to find a way to get enough food on the table to survive, to stay warm during those cold winters with no fuel for the furnace or fireplace, to walk to the privy in cow dung and ice. Robbie Cheadle writes the story from her mom’s perspective, Elsie, when she was a child and lived through WWII. The stories remind us how spoiled we are now with our lives, and how comparatively weak. Those in the English countryside during the war needed to be hearty and strong to survive. Yet, they also found ways to have fun and to stay strong within their circle of family and friends. A loving tribute to what it was like for those left behind, “while the bombs fell.”

Time for another dish from Carol Taylor’s  Vegetarian Christmas Menu and it is an alternative to the turkey and all the other birds mentioned above…..

Image The brown paper bag.

Nut Roast with salsa

• 40 g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
• 100 g quinoa
• 150 g onion squash or cooking pumpkin
• 1 onion
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 2 sticks of celery
• olive oil
• 200 g tinned or vac-packed chestnuts
• 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
• ½ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 pinch of sweet smoked paprika
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 2 large field mushrooms
• 1 lemon
• 60 g fresh breadcrumbs
• 80 g dried cranberries
• 100 g dried apricots
• 100 g mixed nuts , such as walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and brazil nuts
• 4 large free-range eggs
• 40 g mature Cheddar cheese

 Salsa.

• 2 fresh red chillies
• 1 stick of cinnamon
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 small onion
• ½ bunch of fresh thyme , (15g)
• 2 x 400 g tins of quality plum tomatoes or the equivalent in fresh tomatoes.
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Let’s Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 1 litre loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cook the quinola according to the instructions on the packet and set to one side.
  3. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, then chop the flesh into rough 1cm chunks (you don’t need to peel the skin) unless you are using cooking pumpkin. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel and finely slice the garlic, then trim and roughly chop the celery.
  4. Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil into a large pan over a medium heat, add the chopped vegetables and crumble in the chestnuts. Add the picked rosemary leaves, discard the stalks.
  5. Add the cayenne, paprika and oregano and season with salt and pepper stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 15 mins or until slightly softened add the chopped mushrooms to the pan for the last 5 mins of cooking.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and grate in half of the lemon zest.
  7. Put mixture into a bowl and stir in the cooled quinola, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and nuts if you prefer your nuts les chunky then chop into smaller pieces.
  8. Crack the eggs into the mixture and stir well to combine then put the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Put into the pre-heated oven and cook for 45-50 minutes until cooked through and set.
  9. When there is about 30 minutes to go make the salsa… Over a low –medium heat put a pan with a glug of olive oil and add the pricked chillies and the cinnamon. Add the finely sliced garlic and the onions cut into 8 wedges. Pick some of the time leaves reserving a few sprigs for garnish. Add the tomatoes plus 2 cups of water stir well breaking up the tomatoes.
  10. Season and stir in the balsamic vinegar then bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and reduced.
  11. Once the tomato mix is ready remove 1 chilli, carefully halve and deseed and roughly chop and return to the mix. If required loosen the salsa with a little water remove the whole chilli and cinnamon stick and put to one side.
  12. Remove the nut roast from the oven and carefully remove from the tin. Put the nut roast into the tin containing the salsa and grate the cheese over the top. Put the cinnamon stick and reserved chilli back into the mix and put the reserved thyme sprigs over the top.
  13. Return to the oven for 10-15m minutes or until bubbling and golden.

Another popular carol but this time everyone can join in as it is a flash mob of O Come All You Faithful…The Five Strings

Thank you for dropping in today and please leave your special Christmas memories in the comments.. Merry Christmas. Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the Shelves – Abby & Holly Series Book Two: Unfortunate Circumtances by Janice Spina


Thanks for dropping by and today I am featuring the latest book from award winning children’s author Janice Spina… It is the second book in her series Abby and Holly: Unfortunate Events.

About the book

Abby and Holly are cousins who are more like sisters. They enjoy doing everything together. Holly lives with Abby and her family in a haunted Victorian. Holly must deal with some difficult decisions in her family when unexpected and unfortunate events come to pass.

Abby is there to lend support to Holly along with two ghostly apparitions, Felicity and Minerva, who live in Abby’s house. These specters provide some magical and helpful advice along the way as they watch over Holly during this difficult time.

The girls’ friends, twins Davey and Derek Donato, from their own series, pop in to support Holly and bring some fun and comical relief to the story.

An early review for the book

I am so excited about the Abby and Holly Series for girls, but it could be equally enjoyed by boys. In Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events, Abby’s cousin, Holly, is faced with some difficult issues. While her parents are away on overseas jobs, Holly is living with Abby. Things go downhill when her parents return for a visit and her mother becomes ill. Throughout this trying time, Holly has a tremendous amount of support from Abby, her Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob, and two ghosts who live in Abby’s house, Felicity and Minerva. Of course, their friends Davey and Derek are there to help, too.

As with all of Spina’s children’s books, Unfortunate Events teaches life lessons such as respect, kindness toward others, and the importance of being polite. This book concentrates on handling the unexpected and overcoming life’s disappointments. The unexpected was Holly’s mother’s illness and hospital stay. With the love of her extended family, Holly was able to cope with her worry for her mother. Disappointment was addressed when her father announced that he was flying out to finish his work overseas. He explained to Holly the importance of fulling his obligations to his employer.

I highly recommend Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events to all middle-graders, both girls and boys. The storyline is one that will keep children interested with its elements of suspense and mystery. Though there are references to a childhood crush, they are not a major component of the story and certainly not enough to deter boys’ interest. And who doesn’t love a friendly little ghost or two! As with all the author’s children’s books, this one is true to her ideals of writing books that encourage children to read while incorporating those all-important life lessons. As a book I think every parent will want their daughters and sons to read, I give Unfortunate Events 5 stars!

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JDRGYDK

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abby-Holly-Book-Unfortunate-Events-ebook/dp/B07JDRGYDK

A small selection of children’s books by Janice Spina

Also as J.E. Spina

Discover all of Janice Spina’s books, read the reviews and buy  https://www.amazon.com/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

Find more reviews and follow Janice on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7222888.Janice_Spina

About Janice Spina

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with eleven children’s books, Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish (won Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), Lamby the Lonely Lamb (won the Silver Medal from MOM’S Choice Awards), and Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose (won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), and Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey, and Colby the Courageous Cat. Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series (Book 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) is a middle-grade/preteen series.

Book 1, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone (won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Awards). Book 2, The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 3, The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant, also won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 5 won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and a Silver Medal from Authorsdb Cover Contest.

Janice has published three novels under J. E. Spina, Hunting Mariah, a thriller/mystery, Mariah’s Revenge (Sequel to Hunting Mariah) a paranormal/mystery/romance novel, How Far Is Heaven, and a short story collection, An Angel Among Us, all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is working on a children’s book, and a mystery series for YA girls to be published in 2018. She needs to edit a YA fantasy series which will be published in 2019 and beyond. Her husband is her illustrator and cover creator.

Connect to Janice

Website: https://Jemsbooks.com
Blog: http://Jemsbooks.blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janice.spina.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janice_spina

Thank you for visiting and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – #Children’s Book – Where’s Noodles by Victoria Zigler


Children’s author Victoria Zigler has a new release Where’s Noodles  which I am sure will delight her many fans.

About Where’s Noodles

Noodles is a strange red creature with a squeaker in his tummy, who just happens to be the favourite toy of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie. At least, he is now, since the bushytailed squirrel and cuddly triceratops fell apart while she was playing with them – totally not her fault, by the way!

Now noodles is missing.

Lilie’s sure she left Noodles on the living room floor when she went walkies. But when she comes home and goes to fetch him so they can have a nap together, Noodles isn’t there.

Where’s Noodles? Is he somewhere else, or is he lost forever?”

Currently available in multiple eBook formats, with paperback and audio versions planned for the near future.

Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo

A small selection of other books by Victoria Zigler

One of the recent reviews for Home Squeak Home on Goodreads

Jan 09, 2018 Robbie Cheadle Rated if Four Stars.

When Matthew’s mother takes him to the pet store to choose a pet he ends up leaving with two gerbils. The pet store assistance had told his mother that gerbils are very sociable animals and need company, so they had bought two. How wonderful.

Sooty and Scamp are a little sad to be leaving their two brothers, but they are excited to have a new, permanent home. What a home it turns out to be, so different from their old and very plain cage in the pet store.

Home Squeak Home is a lovely story for young children with a lovely subtle message about coping with change and a new environment

You can download all the other books in all formats and audio from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6

Victoria has a great many reviews on Goodreads and I suggest that you head there first to read: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5852247.Victoria_Zigler

About Victoria Zigler

My name is Victoria, but most of my friends and family call me Tori. Feel free to do the same.

Born in the shadow of the black mountains in Wales, I now live by the sea in the south-east of England with my husband, Kelly, a degu named Joshua, a pair of chinchillas named Mollie and Maizie, and a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie.

Having battled with glaucoma since birth, I now find myself completely blind. But I didn’t let that stop me from chasing the dream I’ve had since I was a young child: the dream of being a published author. I’ve loved to read and write since I learned how, and always wanted to get my work published. Finally, in 2012, I made that dream come true by self-publishing eBooks via Smashwords. Three years later, I began using CreateSpace to make my books available in print. So now I’m a published author of children’s fiction, as well as a couple of poetry collections; all of which are available in multiple eBook formats, and as paperback books.

Reading and writing remain my favourite things to do, apart from spending time with my husband, and our rodent gang, of course. I also enjoy doing crafts (such as card making and knitting). Plus, I dabble in things like roleplaying games (such as Dungeons And Dragons) and figure games (such as BattleTech and Monsterpocalypse) from time to time, and enjoy watching movies and TV shows as well as listening to music. On top of that, I have an interest in history, especially stone age and Egyptian history, and in space exploration. I also love almost anything to do with animals and nature. I have to say “almost” because I’m not too keen on spiders and creepy crawly things, though can pretend they don’t exist if they don’t come too close to me.

Connect to Victoria

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VictoriaZigler
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tori.zigler

Thank you for dropping in and it would be great if you could share the news of Victoria’s latest children’s book. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Janice Spina


Delighted to welcome award-winning children’s and thriller writer Janice Spina to the blog today to share the questions she has chosen to answer so that we can get to know her a little better.

Janice has been a long-term supporter of my blog and I am sure many of yours and always brightens my day when she visits.

Before we find out what Janice has to say, a look at the official biography for his lovely lady.

About Janice Spina

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with eleven children’s books, Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish (won Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), Lamby the Lonely Lamb (won the Silver Medal from MOM’S Choice Awards), and Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose (won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), and Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey, and Colby the Courageous Cat. Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series (Book 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) is a middle-grade/preteen series.

Book 1, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone (won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Awards). Book 2, The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 3, The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant, also won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 5 won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and a Silver Medal from Authorsdb Cover Contest.

Janice has published three novels under J. E. Spina, Hunting Mariah, a thriller/mystery, Mariah’s Revenge (Sequel to Hunting Mariah) a paranormal/mystery/romance novel, How Far Is Heaven, and a short story collection, An Angel Among Us, all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is working on a children’s book, and a mystery series for YA girls to be published in 2018. She needs to edit a YA fantasy series which will be published in 2019 and beyond. Her husband is her illustrator and cover creator.

Now it is time to unveil the stories that Janice has chosen to share with us.

What is your favorite holiday destination and why?

Every year my husband and I travel to Aruba. This is by far our favorite place to vacation. If you have been there, you would, I’m sure, agree. Many people I’ve met who have vacationed in Aruba come back again and again. It’s addictive, the beautiful beaches, the gorgeous turquoise water, the fabulous food, the perfect weather, and the warm and friendly people.

Each year we return the Aruban people welcome us “home”. It certainly feels like a home away from home. When we leave they open their arms and exchanged hugs and warm wishes until we return again next year.

We have met lovely people and made some wonderful friends who we see each vacation. We go out together for dinners, hang out on the beach, soak in the water, solve the problems of the world, and have parties under our palapas (wooden huts or umbrellas). Just talking about it makes me nostalgic. Can’t wait to go back! Sigh!

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains and why?

That’s a difficult question for me. I love them both. When I am in Aruba, it’s the beach. When I am home in New Hampshire, I love to visit the mountains, smell the crisp clear air, take long walks and enjoy the beauty, serenity, and majesty of the mountains. It’s the one place I feel closer to God.

We went to the mountains last year for my niece’s wedding overnight. It was glorious! The weather was in the fall, cool the first night but warm like summer the night of her wedding. It was a fantastic weekend with family, good food, and a gorgeous setting – an unforgettable view on top of Loon Mountain with the changing colors of the surrounding foliage in brilliant reds, oranges and yellows.

Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?

I have never played a musical instrument in public but fiddle around on my keyboard with one hand. I’ve have been trying to teach myself how to play for the past several years. Still haven’t learned more than how to place my right hand on the keys. I guess I am too busy with my writing, publishing and everything else that goes with it.

I have, however, sang in a choral group, part of the Sweet Adeline’s International Chorus out of Manchester, NH for about six months. We sang at a few local venues in NH. It was fun but I had to leave due to eye problems and driving at night. I love to sing but now limit my singing to the shower, in the car, while washing dishes or singing Happy Birthday to relatives. They can’t stop me then! Ha!

Sally here: This is an amazing International organisation, unfortunately I could not find a specific video for the Manchester chapter of the Sweet Adeline’s but here is an example of the standard of performance.

Have you got a secret talent that nobody knows about?

Well, that is funny. I used to do the limbo and won a contest in Aruba one year and another time on a cruise ship. It’s been years since I could get down without having trouble getting back up again!

My other secret talent is hula hooping. I can still do it for hours on end. I won local contests for keeping it going the longest at a local function hall and on cruise ships. I am known locally at this function hall as the hula hoop queen! Of course that was years ago! I am only hula hoop queen now in my own mind!

Sally here: If ever you feel like taking this amazing talent up again Janice, I am sure that you would be as popular as this artist….

    Coral Jade

What is your favorite childhood song and why?

When I was just a little girl I sang along as my grandfather played the mandolin. If you ever heard the beautiful sound of the mandolin, you would want to cry. It produces a magical sound like an angel singing. It even made me sound better than I did then. I haven’t thought about this song in years. It’s nice to bring back these special memories of my grandfather.

My grandfather was a talented musician. He played in a group and sang and my grandmother would often sing along with him. When we got together he would always ask me to sing with him as he played. I was thrilled to spend time with him in that way. No one else in my family enjoyed singing as much as I did and I did it every chance I could get.

The song I sang was, Que Sera Sera.

Thank you so much for having me on your fabulous blog, Sally. I enjoyed answering your five questions. They brought back happy memories in my life.

Janice is a prolific children’s book author and here are some of her books, including her latest release.

Janice’s latest book, illustrated as always by her husband John is Abby & Holly School Dance, book one of a brand new series, a spin off from Davey and Derek Junior Detectives.

About Abby & Holly School Dance

This is Book 1 of a series of Abby & Holly books. These two girls were first introduced in Book 5 of the Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series.

The girls are first cousins on their mothers’ side. They moved to the quiet town of Lindon, New Hampshire and live in a grand old Victorian which is haunted.

The cousins are excited about attending the 6th grade dance. When their friend, Justine, is bullied, Abby and Holly, along with the help of a ghost and Davey & Derek, work together to formalize a plan to put a stop to the bullying.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I loved Janice Spina’s new book “Abby and Holly, School Dance.” The writing style made you feel like you were enjoying the adventures of Abby, Holly and their friends. You’re sure to smile at the twins Derek and Davey’s shyness around Abby and Holly. It’s a delightful story. Trouble comes when one of their classmates, Justine, mysteriously becomes sick. How is the mystery solved? When Justine is bullied, how does the group of friends encourage the bullies to change their behavior. This is an enjoyable book teaches, families, and teens are sure to love and they are likely to remember not only the entertaining adventures, but the important message the story shares. Another wonderful book by Janice Spina.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F7MW7L6/

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Holly-School-Dance-Janice-Spina-ebook/dp/B07F7MW7L6/

A small selection of children’s books by Janice Spina

Also as J.E. Spina

Discover all of Janice Spina’s books, read the reviews and buy  https://www.amazon.com/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

Find more reviews and follow Janice on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7222888.Janice_Spina

Connect to Janice

Website: http://Jemsbooks.com
Blog: http://Jemsbooks.blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janice.spina.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janice_spina

Thank you for dropping in today and I know that Janice would love to hear from you and answer any questions.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Darlene Foster.


Welcome to Getting to Know You where guests have the option of 52 questions to allow us to find out more about them. The quirky, the secrets and the reasons how they have ended up here today… Too deep?? These interviews are turning out to be a lot of fun… for me too and if you would like to participate here are the details and also the previous interviews.

Guests so far this season John Rieber, Ritu Bhathal, The Militant Negro, Balroop Singh, Carol Taylor, Lucinda E. Clarke, Billy Ray Chitwood, D.Wallace Peach, Annette Rochelle Aben, John. W. Howell and D.G. Kaye.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-2018/

My guest today is children’s author Darlene Foster who is also an avid traveler of the world. Originally from Canada, she now lives in Spain. Apart from her series of books starring Amanda and her travels, Darlene also writes detailed and very interesting travel posts on her blog… and occasionally here in the Posts from the Archives Series.  I will share her books and most recent review later in the post, but here is the official word on my guest.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Time to discover which of the questions Darlene has selected.

Welcome Darlene and can you tell us what is your favourite childhood song and why?

My favourite childhood song is You Are My Sunshine because my dad used to sing it to me when I was a little girl. It always made me feel so happy and loved. I have fond memories of singing it together as we rattled along the dusty prairie roads in the pickup truck. Although Dad has been gone for almost eleven years, I still cry when I hear this song as I miss him so much. There are many versions of this song but I’m sharing this one as it reminds me most of my cowboy dad, who was also a big fan of Gene Autry.

If you could be any action hero, who would it be?

That would have to be the remarkable Wonder Woman. She is tall, gorgeous, funny and smart. A powerful, strong-willed, self-assured woman, who does not back down from a challenge. However, she is diplomatic, prefers peace and would never look for a fight or escalate a conflict. She’s fierce and at the same time nurturing. Wonder Woman is a born warrior who has the genuine compassion and understanding of a true humanitarian. Her natural confidence, strong leadership skills and intelligence, makes her a great role model. And she can sure rock that outfit! Yes, I would want to be Wonder Woman.

Sally here: This is the trailer for the Wonder Woman film released in 2017.. I can recommend the movie.. plenty of action. I am sure not a patch on you Darlene…..

What was the one thing you could never learn how to do no matter how hard you tried?

There are two things, one is milking a cow. My dad tried his hardest to teach me but I never got the hang of it. I didn´t really like hanging around the barn anyway and preferred being in the kitchen with mom, cooking and baking. The other thing I never learned is to type. I didn´t take it in school as I chose to take matriculation courses. Later I enrolled in not one but two adult education courses. But, like milking a cow, I couldn´t seem to catch on. I have, however, managed just fine through life without learning to milk a cow or to type.

If animals could talk, which one would you have a conversation with?

My darling dog, Dot. I would just love to have a chat with her and I´m quite sure she would enjoy talking to me. It would be a most entertaining conversation although it would probably centre around food. She is quite obsessed with food and has quite good taste. Perhaps she could tell me what food she likes best. I know she prefers homemade over store bought. I would also love to learn more about her life before us. I have conversations with her now, and although she appears to be listening, she is unable to respond. A good conversation is best if both parties speak.

If you only had two minutes to get out of your house, what would you grab?

Without question it would be my dog! When I was a child, I always answered this question with, “My books.” I had a plan that if there was ever a fire, I would open my bedroom window and throw out my books (the bookshelf was beside the window in my bedroom), then I would jump out. Since I was on the ground floor there was no concerns about me hurting myself. Mom once asked if I would not be more concerned about saving my younger brothers. I’m afraid I had to think about that. My books have always been very precious to me. They have now been replaced in order of importance by Dot.

Now to find out more about Darlene’s books and her most recent review.

Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind finds student Amanda Ross on a school trip in Taos, New Mexico. While there, her classmate Cleo thinks she sees ghosts. Amanda feels anxious too, sensing that something or someone is watching her. An engaging adventure ensues during their visit to the Land of Enchantment in this sixth book in the fun and educational series for early middle grade readers. 5/5

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

I hope you have discovered a little more about Darlene and I am sure that she would love to receive your comments and answer any questions you might have. Thanks Sally

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – The Ghost in the Gardens (A Flower Girl Mystery) by HL Carpenter


Very pleased to welcome two new authors to the Cafe and Bookstore. HL Carpenter is a mother and daughter writing team who have recently released their latest book for children, the fantasy The Ghost in the Garden. About the book

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn’t think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.  The.  Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she’s determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it’s too late.

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gardens-HL-Carpenter-ebook/dp/B07CV2GJZY/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Gardens-HL-Carpenter-ebook/dp/B07CV2GJZY/

A selection of other books for adults, YA and children by HL Carpenter

One of the reviews for The Skyhorse on Goodreads

Dec 23, 2012 Jonel Boyko rated it really liked it

Before beginning this review I have a confession to make. I chose to read this book for one reason and one reason only. It has a horse in it. Not just an ordinary horse, however, it’s a flying horse. What girl in their right mind can turn that down? And who doesn’t want to ride a flying horse. Coolest thing ever.

That said, I was so caught up in the story by the end of the first chapter that I could barely put the book down. Carpenter takes the life of a real life teenager who is transplanted from the city into a small town during high school and gives it one heck of a twist. The author has also given the story an entire mythical backdrop all of its own. It is not based on a pre-existing cultural mythology but seems to have been developed solely for the purpose of this story. It is extremely well developed and engages your imagination.

The author uses very vivid descriptions to draw you into the pages of the book without being wordy and long winded. You get so caught up in the who’s and what’s of the story that you are pulled within the pages. The story also has the ability to make you really stop and think about reality, both the reality of the story and the reality that you are living.

I must also commend the author for writing such a strong stand alone book. Although you can tell that life went on before the story began and will continue long afterwards there are no other books that you need to read to figure out what is going on. You don’t feel like you are missing anything and you aren’t guessing to fill in the blank. This is an excellent read all on its own.

This story was so unique and intriguing that I was completely in awe by the end of the story.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B007SHS9LA/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/HL-Carpenter/e/B007SHS9LA/

You will find a lot more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820921.H_L_Carpenter

About HL Carpenter

HL Carpenter is a mother/daughter duo who writes family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity

Their website also offers opportunities for promotion for other authors and here is a link to one of their latest guest posts Looking Within to Overcome Challenges – Elle Smith

If you would like to submit your guest post you will find the submission guidelines Here

Connect to HL Carpenter

Website and blog: https://www.hlcarpenter.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hl_carpenter
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hlcarpenter/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/102212877836673370583
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hlcarpenter/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Scout Pilot of the Free Union #SpaceOpera by Will Macmillan Jones.


Very pleased to welcome Will Macmillan Jones to the Cafe and Bookstore, with his latest release, and his other books for children and adults. Scout Pilot of the Free Union is the first in a new collection of Space Opera novels.

About Scout Pilot of the Free Union

Captain Frank Eric Russell is captain/pilot of a Valhalla Class Star Destroyer – until there is an embarrassing incident during a diplomatic mission to the border with the Imperium. Disciplined by being transferred to the Reconnaissance Unit of The Free Union’s Star Fleet, he finds himself assigned to an outdated Speedbird Scoutship. The missions are less prestigious, less rigorously overseen – and a lot less safe.

Threats, terror and mortal danger lurk behind every planet and asteroid as Frank tries to survive the life of a Reconnaissance Unit Scout Pilot patrolling the barely defined border between The Free Union and the Imperium during the uneasy truce between the two Galactic Powers.

Frank and his ageing Speedbird are sent on a number of perilous missions around the galaxy, both for the mysterious Colonel Rosto and on normal Space Corps business. On the way he meets a new sentient species, a terrifying space spider, finds himself involved in a deal for new spaceships that goes horribly wrong and finally has to escape the clutches of The Imperium’s Chief Enforcer, the feared Colonel Starker, before becoming involved in a battle as the rivals for domination of the galaxy clash in space.

With everything against him, can Frank and his trusty Speedbird live to run away another day?

One of the early reviews for the book from Jim Webster on his blog.

The books follow the career (in this case, career as in ‘When the brakes failed, the wagon careered downhill’) of Captain Frank Eric Russell, who becomes a Scout pilot of the Free Union. The stories are told by the good Captain in the first person.

This means that we whilst we see events through the eyes of our hero, we also begin to realise that he is in some things an unreliable observer. It begins to dawn upon the reader that Russell is a far better pilot and far more generally competent than he admits.

The universe is divided between three main powers. The first two that we meet are the Free Union, which our hero serves, and the Imperium, who are the enemy in waiting. There is no war between the two but there is a constant bickering at the outposts and attempts to destabilise the other. Finally there are the Merchant Princes, who happily trade with anybody.

In the first book, ‘Scout Pilot of the Free Union’, each chapter seems to be a separate mission and a separate story. But eventually you start to realise that there is a common thread starting to pull them together, until by the time you get into the second book, ‘Infinity is for losers’, we see that our hero is caught up in something far more complicated and dangerous than he first thought. I have no intention of saying more and spoiling the plot for anybody.

This isn’t hard military SF; similarly we are spared being plunged into some dark angst ridden dystopia, these stories are Space Opera. Admittedly there are times when Russell sees his superiors as a bigger threat to his survival than the enemy, but I suspect many service personnel could empathise with this.

Will Macmillan Jones is a story teller and a fine one. As I read these books I found myself swept along by the story.

At some point it appears the modern reviewer has to award ‘stars’. It’s not longer good enough to describe something as a ‘cracking good read.’ But I am not a number, I am a free man. I will wave my hand airily and announce that these books are undoubtedly somewhere betwixt and between four and five stars.

The far more important question is will I read the rest of the series. Too damned right I will. I’m looking forward to them and when they arrive I’ll tear open the packet and start reading. They’re fun!

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scout-Pilot-Free-Union-Space-ebook/dp/B07D5CCGCW/

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Scout-Pilot-Union-Macmillan-Jones/dp/1545184631/

A small selection of other books by Will Macmillan Jones.

Discover all the books and read the reviews: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Will-Macmillan-Jones/e/B005TIMXI0/

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Will-Macmillan-Jones/e/B005TIMXI0/

Read more reviews and follow Will on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5170305.Will_Macmillan_Jones

About Will Macmillan Jones

A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz, I have recently fulfilled a lifetime ambition: extending my bookcases to fill an entire wall of my home office. I am lucky enough to live in Wales, which for overseas readers is the main part of the UK: the separate countries of England and Scotland are superglued on to the right hand side of the border…

I’m a novelist, poet, storyteller and international tax consultant (no, really) who adores words, and not so long ago managed to win a national competition for Flash Fiction.

My Paranormal mystery series started with a very personal book,The Showing, but has now grown into a full series intended to run for 6 books.

Coming shortly will be some YA fantasy and a book that should be romance, but won’t be (no happy ending, so a bit too much like real life).

There are some books for children, and my first love as a writer: my comic fantasy series The Banned Underground, now released by Red Kite Publishing and available here. Starting with The Amulet of Kings, and running through The Mystic Accountants and The Vampire Mechanic to Bass Instinct and The SatNav of Doom, each book is a stand alone work and the series can be read in any order. Warning: these books contain beer, pizza, loud music and an enormous joke count. They may be unsuitable for those without a sense of humour.

You can enjoy watching and listening to Will doing som oral storytelling at an event in Wales. The legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge…

Connect to Will Macmillan Jones

Website: http://www.willmacmillanjones.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/macmillanjones
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/william.macmillanjones
Google +: https://plus.google.com/104203138674844361207

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will explore Will’s books in more detail. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Sunday Interview – The Ultimate Bucket List – Meeting other Writers by Darlene Foster


Welcome to the Sunday Interview post where I ask guests to share the top two items on their bucket list.  This week children’s author Darlene Foster shares her thoughts on the subject. Two that as writers are very important, one to connect with other authors and also to meet those who have been successful and learn from the best.

 

I have had a bucket list for a long time, well before it was known as a “bucket” list! As I reach one goal, it gets stroked off and more are added. The list never gets shorter. The two biggies were getting published and moving to another country. I am happy to say I have accomplished both of those but there are always others. I have travelled quite a bit but there is still a lot of the world I would like to see so that is always on my list, the names of the places just keep changing. Sally asked for two personal items from my list so here they are.

Attend a writer´s conference in the UK or Europe

I enjoyed attending writer´s conferences when I lived in Canada. I found them to be exciting, very motivating and I always learned something valuable. The chance to meet and chat with other writers is always wonderful and to meet well known and respected authors is awesome. I attended the Surrey International Writers Conference in British Columbia a number of times and met the most amazing people, whether well-established writers or struggling scribes like myself.

A couple of years before I was published, I booked ten minutes with Meg Tilly (Oscar winning actor and author) at the conference. She read the first two pages of Amanda in Arabia, gave me some tips to make it better and encouraged me to keep sending it out. It made all the difference as I was about to give up.

I also met and had my picture taken with Diana Gabaldon (author of the Outlander series). I miss the opportunity to rub shoulders with other authors and learn from them. So attending a Writer´s Conference somewhere in Europe or the UK would be awesome.

This is high on my bucket list and I have started to do research. If anyone knows of Writer´s Conferences on this side of the Atlantic, please let me know.

Here is a post by Bridget Whelan who attends the Brighton Writer’s Conference:https://bridgetwhelan.com/2017/01/25/write-by-the-beach-an-inspiring-writing-conference-in-brighton-april-2017/

and here are the details of the 2018 conference by the organisers. https://www.beachhutwritingacademy.com/conference

Meet more of my blogging friends in person

I love blogging! I have made so many wonderful friends the seven years I have had my blog. The thing is, I now want to meet them in person. I was fortunate to meet a blogging friend from Liverpool a few years ago when she made a trip to Canada which included a stop in Vancouver. Now I plan to visit her in Liverpool next month. I also met the delightful Sue Slaght from Travel Tales of Life when I was in Calgary in August. I found these blogging friends are just as nice in person as they are on the page. When we met, I felt like I have known them all my life. But that is only two out of the hundreds of bloggers I follow and who follow me. My wish is to meet many more. I´m working on it. Perhaps some would like to visit me in Spain.

Well here is a date for you diary Darlene.. The Blogger’s Bash 2018.  I went this year and met several of the bloggers that I was looking forward to meeting in person. Here is the link to keep an eye on proceedings: http://sachablack.co.uk/annual-bloggers-bash/

DATE: Saturday 19th May 2018

TICKETS: To be announced

TIME: To be confirmed

LOCATION: The George IV, 185 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London, W4 2DR

DETAILS FOR THE DAY: To be confirmed

And you can meet some to the attendees courtesy of the video compiled by Hugh Roberts: https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2017/06/18/the-offical-video-of-the-bloggers-who-attended-the-third-annual-bloggers-bash/

So there are two items from that never ending “bucket” list. Thanks Sally. I look forward to reading what’s on everyone else’s list.

Thanks to Darlene for sharing her top two bucket list items.. and I am sure that she will get those ticked off in the next year. If you have details of other conferences or blogging events, please let Darlene know in the comments.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Here is Darlene’s latest book –  Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

A recent review for Amanda in New Mexico

This is the latest installment in a series about a 6th grade girl who is lucky enough to travel, this time with many in her class on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico. They are all students who are artistic, write blogs, take photographs or express themselves in other ways that they are producing each evening after their sightseeing. Taos is a place I have visited and enjoyed so I find it exciting to see it used for the setting of a young adult novel. I also read mysteries when I was young and enjoyed the opportunity to see what is being produced today in this area,and with that hint of the paranormal.

Amanda’s character seems likable to me, smart, but not off-putting. She is also friendly and able and willing to be friends with an outsider. She is adventuresome but also loves learning. I enjoyed the way the author sprinkled the elements of education carefully throughout this novel, providing information on Taos Pueblo and the people who live there. There are also tidbits on cowboys who populated the Southwest and their culture as well as elements of the lives of the many current residents.

Were there ghosts in the Taos area? Did Amanda or her friend Cleo actually see or experience one or more? Well that’s a difficult question to answer. This story combines a good young adult adventure story with hints of the paranormal while also providing some well placed educational material lightly in the text and great ideas for other young people to aspire to.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels/dp/1771681209

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels/dp/1771681209

Also by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Thank you for dropping by and if you have news of writer’s events in Europe then please leave details in the comments for Darlene. Thanks Sally

 

 

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – The Palaver Tree: The Berrywood series Book One by Wendy Unsworth


I would like you to welcome a new author to the bookshelves today. Wendy Unsworth is the author of The Palaver Tree: The Berrywood series Book One.

About the book

Berriwood Village, Cornwall, England; quiet, uneventful like the pace of schoolteacher Ellie’s selfless, modest existence until John Hathaway stops to ask directions. Their chance meeting catapults her into a new role as wife of a wealthy businessman and resident of the most prestigious home in the area, the majestic Calico House.

But Gabriel Cole is coming to the village, and his presence will set into motion a chain of events that bring dramatic change to Ellie’s life again.

In the poor, chaotic but captivating surroundings of Central Africa, Ellie teaches at Cole’s school, The Hope Foundation. She finds friendship and purpose and, perhaps for the first time, real satisfaction and love in her life.

But this new peace and happiness is short-lived. As Ducana descends into political chaos Ellie is torn by doubt. Is the Hope Foundation really the benevolent, caring institution she first believed it to be? And is headmaster Gabriel Cole really their guardian angel?

Ellie’s unquestioning belief in fate and fair play are slowly shattered as she learns that others, close to her, have been drawn into the same web of manipulation and deceit.

Ellie is plagued by the injustice of what has happened, until the moment comes when she is presented with the choice to stubbornly hold on to her principles or take matters into her own

One of the reviews for the book.

Wendy Unsworth’s Palaver Tree (Amazon Digital Services 2012) is a beautiful, sad but happy story about Ellie. Ellies leads a fairly boring–well, uneventful–life in Cornwall England that is upended when first her husband and family dog are killed by a hit and run driver and then her elderly mother dies. She no longer has any reason to remain in a town that, though it includes friends, has never really felt like home, and now holds nothing but lonely memories.

“Even after two years of marriage, she often woke with the feeling that she was somewhere she didn’t belong and would be caught, any moment, on the loose without an entrance ticket.”
She moves to a small African village to teach, but that it turns out brings its own set of problems. By the time Ellie gets through these new experiences, she’s changed. I was originally pulled in by the cover, but it was the gorgeous storytelling from Wendy that kept me reading.

“There was a tension in the house like musical strings, stretched to their limit and fit to snap.”

“Lately, any sentence honored with a mention of her husband was apt to hemorrhage sarcasm like warm treacle through a sieve.”

You cannot fail but enjoy this tale of Ellie’s personal growth from unmotivated housewife to extraordinarily accomplished adult.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Palaver-Tree-Berriwood-Book-ebook/dp/B00719ODS8

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Palaver-Tree-Berriwood-Book-ebook/dp/B00719ODS8

Also by Wendy Unsworth

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Unsworth/e/B0071JNYEM

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Unsworth/e/B0071JNYEM

Read more reviews and follow Wendy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625095.Wendy_Unsworth

About Wendy Unsworth

Wendy Unsworth was born and raised in Lincolnshire, England; her passions are her family, travel, beautiful gardens and reading and writing stories.

Wendy lived in Ndola, Zambia and Nairobi, Kenya throughout the 1980’s and early ’90’s before returning to the U.K. to acclimatise back to the English weather in a Cornish cottage close to Bodmin Moor! The African continent has left a lasting impression; The Palaver Tree, her first novel in the Berriwood series is set in a fictional Central African country and Cornwall.

At present Wendy is working on the second Berriwood novel, Beneathwood, re-introducing cameo characters from The Palaver Tree and telling their own individual story.

Wendy also enjoys writing for children.

Kellie at Come-alive Cottage is a fun, read-aloud story introducing Kellie Culpepper and her very unusual family who include explorers, a very silly aunt and a witch that can’t stop turning into a cat!

The next in the series, Danger at Come-alive Cottage is now available. This time Kellie is called to the rescue when Come-alive Cottage is suddenly in danger from a fire-breathing dragon!

Connect to Wendy

Website: https://wendyunsworth.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/WendyUnsworth
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WendyUnsworthAuthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625095.Wendy_Unsworth

Thank you for dropping in today and if you are an author who would like to receive FREE book promotions then please take a look at this post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

Your help in spreading the news about Wendy’s books would be much appreciated. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – How Polly Became a Pirate (Polly’s Piralympics) (Volume 1) by Jann Weeratunga


Today I am featuring Jann Weeratunga and the first children’s book in the Polly’s Piralympics series – How Polly Became a Pirate.

About the book

Polly the Baby Parrot is stolen from her nest in Africa and ends up in Tobermoray, Scotland. There in a pet shop, she is bullied by village boys until rescued by Captain Hake. Then she starts her training to become a Pirate. This interactive book is a must for parents and teachers to help them identify if a child is being bullied at school or their surrounding environment, without the child feeling they are snitching. Join Polly and her LO (Life Orientation), adventures in the Polly’s Piralympics Series – where she will look at anti-bullying; cheating; disabilities – how it’s not cool to be cruel, disabled bays are for the disabled, plus it’s ok to be different e.g. wear glasses have braces etc.; don’t drop litter; global warming, droughts, tsunamis, polar melt; rhino and elephant poaching; animal trafficking; listening to adults/others and gender issues, how boys treat girls.

The most recent reviews for the book

This is a book that takes an unusual star and makes her as loved as rabbits, kittens, and dogs, in other stories. Polly is a parrot that has been stolen from her family in Africa and has been taken to Scottland. She does not find it easy living in the pet store. She is in fact treated quite horribly. She is a lovely parrot with a missing eye and saw bullying up close and personal. It was wonderful when Captain Hake rescued her and took her away from that environment. What was, even more, fun was that he provided her with training to become a pirate like him. The series is opening up to be a wonderful one with colorful characters that prove there are more to people than their abilities and disabilities. In this book 1, Polly proves to be quite the hero, championing other animals that have been stolen away too. It is the perfect beginning for a thoughtful series.

The seven-year-old loved Polly, she did not like the bullying and was willing to share her own stories of mean comments and hurtful moments at school. That is a wonderful door of opportunity that this book offered. With the leading and encouragement of the book, parents are able to discuss that touchy subjects in a less forbidding manner. THis is the excellent age to address the power of escaping bullying.

A really nice read  on September 3, 2017

This initial book in the Polly the Pirate book series is really a very nice read. Polly is slightly disabled as she only has one eye and she is scrawnier and less developed than her siblings. Despite this she is very much loved by her parents who are devastated when she is stolen away by evil two-legged destroyers.

Polly’s honourable nature and cleverness comes to the fore when she finds herself a captive with a group of other baby animals. All the babies are very distressed at having been stolen away from their families. Polly uplifts the spirits of the babies and soon finds away to help them all escape. Unfortunately, someone has to stay behind and do the distracting of the two-legged destroyers and that someone is Polly.

I like the way the Jann brings in concepts like bullying in a very subtle way and makes them a part of the story. The character of Polly develops beautifully over the course of this book and the reader becomes very fond of her and admiring of her cleverness too. My son, Michael, who read this book with me really enjoyed this initial book and we read it in two days which is much faster than usual.

Head over to Amazon and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/How-Polly-Became-Pirate-Piralympics/dp/154831756X

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Polly-Became-Pirate-Piralympics/dp/154831756X

Also by Jann Weeratunga

Read the reviews and link to buy the books Amazon UK: Amazon UK

and Amazon US: Amazon US

and read more reviews and follow Jann on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15797624.Jann_Weeratunga

 

About Jann Weeratunga

Jann Weeratunga was born in London in 1963. She has lived and worked in London, UK: Sri Lanka: UAE and Bahrain. Currently she lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She was a Primary School Teacher and a Scout/Cub Leader for over 20 years. As well as an NGO in Sri Lanka following the Tsunami there. She had been residing in the country prior to this and on the 23rd December 2005 had been staying in Yala National Park. She waved to friends as they entered and she left, and that was the last time she saw them, as the wave took their lives. http://kidsbookswithoutborders.com/2016/10/06/who-am-i-the-tsunami-and-me

Determined to help she then spent the next 2 years in Aragum Bay helping villagers where she could. Sewing machine and material to set up small cottage industries. Helping to rebuild a Montessori on higher ground – a place of safety where the children will always run to should another Tsunami ever hit. Providing hundred of books to set up a new library at the school, and helping to rebuild a small B&B. She chose her family as they were a mixed marriage (Singhalese and Tamil.) and no-one else wanted to help.

Polly’s Piralympics is the fifth children’s book she has written and was inspired by the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. In his closing speech, Sir Phillip Craven told of how a young boy was reading with his mother. In the book he saw a man with an eye patch, a hook for a hand, a parrot on his shoulder and a wooden leg. When asked who it was, he said: “Well he has only one leg, so he must be an Olympian.” Such was the strength of the London 2012 Paralympics that it changed peoples’ perceptions of disability forever. The speech made her both laugh and cry and gave her the inspiration for this series of books which are both unique in concept as well as content.

Connect to Jann Weeratunga

Website: https://kidsbookswithoutborders.com/home/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JannWeeratunga
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JannWeeratunga

I hope you will head over and find out more about these wonderful children’s books..thanks Sally