Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a Book for Christmas #Poetry – Ritu Bhathal, Christy Birmingham, Colleen M. Chesebro, Natalie Ducey and Dorinda Duclos

Welcome to another of the Christmas book promotions and today the first post for the poetry books on the shelves of the cafe and bookstore. I love poetry collections and short stories as they are something you can dip into at any time of day to distract you from life and problems or to revitalise the spirit.

And the first poet is Ritu Bhathal with her collection Poetic Rituals. I met Ritu at the Bloggers Bash in 2017 and it is no surprise that her Twitter handle is @PhantomGiggler and she will brighten your day and anyone you gift her poetry. She is also an award winning blogger at But I Smile Anyway

About Poetic Rituals.

Delve into a book of verse exploring different topics and different genres, all with a RITUal twist.
A collection of poetry drawing on the experiences of the writer, ranging from matters of the heart, love for the family, situations in life and some verses written with a humorous twist.

One of the reviews for the collection

Balroop Singh rated it Five Stars.

Poetic Rituals’ by Ritu Bhathal is an amalgamation of free verse, haiku and tanka. First section is packed with the emotions of a new mother; pride and affection flow freely through her verse but a realistic touch of worry, of angst and frustration add more charm to her poems. Every mother would ‘like to flee’ at some point when she feels that her kids are ‘devils in disguise!’ ‘Twelve Days Of Holidays’ is cute rendition of how mothers handle their little monsters during the holidays.

Ritu’s poetry matures as the book proceeds into the third segment, dwelling on love, life and its realities… trying to answer some pertinent questions like… “Head or heart, to whom do I bow?” Section four would bring a smile on your lips as you read
‘Brow-terpillars’ and ‘Oh My Bag,’ reminding you of similar groans that the poet shares about packing and trying to fit in all those things in one bag and later realize we didn’t even use. It is amazing how she could write a poem about chores like ironing, dieting, connecting a printer to Mac!

Read all the reviews and buy the collection:

and other reviews on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Ritu on Goodreads:

Connect to Ritu via her blog:

The next poet is Christy Birmingham for her collection of poetry Versions of the Self. Christy also has an amazing blog When Women Inspire and you can connect to her on Twitter @Christybis

About Versions of the Self

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration. Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

One of the reviews for Versions of the Self

All my life I thought that my emotional reliance on someone was a foregone conclusion, and that my self had to connect with another’s to inject coherence into my life’s abstract manuscript. In several unique ways in Versions of the Self, Christy Birmingham informs that the self can last ‘brutally independent’ longer without such reliance or even when it’s relying on someone. In “Gliding Under Water,” she writes, “I am gliding under the waters and my vision is remarkably clear while my body washes with liquids that contain no mixture of you.”

Christy has succinctly touched on several emotions; that we don’t pause and ponder enough to rationalize. We sense myriad versions of several people, and the only way we could connect with their selves is if it’s a soul-led journey from us, without a destination in mind, in which case, no car had driven my expectations to them. Shake hands, therefore, seeking nothing but simplicity.

“And now it seems he takes the last space in my life, outside of my heart’s walls, and miles from my reality” – she says in “The Capital.” How fierce this self-representation is, so unyielding, that it draws its strength from the innate soul-gem.

Since I’m close to my mother – everyone is and must be – these lines from “As We Walk Together” aimed for my heartstrings: “I feel you take my hand as we walk forward, together, and we inhale the scents that disclose a recent rainfall has occurred.” It reminded me of my childhood and those precious moments I so wish to return to, over and again. But, this heartwarming book wants me to return to my self, even away from the self that gave me birth because my self is the primary cure for all my worries, like the primary network that doesn’t charge out of pocket. My soul is my self and, therefore, always covered.

This is a must-have book for anyone who wants to go beyond the mundane ‘identify yourself’ literature. Sans going beyond, we are nothing but a body without life.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Christy on Goodreads:

Also by Christy Birmingham.

Pathways to Illumination is available exclusively at Redmund Productions (less)

Connect to Christy via her website:

No selection of Poetry collections as gifts at any time of year would be complete without including Colleen M. Chesebro – her Tuesday #poetry challenges are Legendary and you can connect to her on Twitter at @ColleenChesebro.

And for those of you in theSouthern hemisphere… perfect for Christmas in the Sun (or any climate)...Fairies, Myths and Magic..A Summer Celebration.

About the collection

Step into a world where fairies, dragons, and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by the celebration of Litha, the Summer Solstice.

Meet Drac, a dragon cursed by his own poisonous deeds, and two pixies who help an old man remember a lost love. You’ll meet a pair of fairies with a sense of humor, and a young girl who fulfills her destiny after being struck by lightning. Learn what happens when a modern witch’s spell goes terribly wrong. Meet the Sisters of the Fey, a group of Slavic Witches who sign a pact with the Rusalki Fey to preserve their magic for the good of all.

Atmospheric and haunting, the prose and poetry, will rewrite the mythologies of the past bringing them into the future.

One of the reviews for Fairies, Myths & Magic on Goodreads –   Lisa Thomson rated it

If you’ve lost the connection to your inner child, you’ll want to pick up Fairies, Myths, & Magic! This is a delightful and magical collection of stories and poems by Colleen M. Chesebro. A devotion to the summer solstice (and a few winter season stories), this was the perfect bed time read to get in tune with the season of full moons, star gazing, and the magic of little winged creatures. I would add that this collection would be lovely to read to a young child. The author brings the reader into her world of fairies with a great variety of settings. I will be re-reading this book every summer!

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Colleen M. Chesebro

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Find out more about Colleen Chesebro, read more reviews and follow on Goodreads:

Connect to Colleen via her website:

The next poet is Natalie Ducey who has a wonderful way with words, creating heartfelt and inspiring poetry. You can find out more about her About Natalie Ducey and on Twitter at @NatalieDucey

About The Heart’s Lullaby

The Heart’s Lullaby is a candid portrayal of love in all its splendor and pain. Love, in its purest form, is tranquil and soothes the soul. But love, as is life, can sometimes be cruel and unjust with its paths of uncertainty and forced goodbyes. In essence, it is a journey of self-discovery. A continuous journey of becoming. Often, it becomes a delicate dance of holding on and letting go.

We linger in memories of ill-fated love; our minds can easily soil them, and our hearts can effortlessly polish them to perfection, altering their resemblance entirely. We can anchor ourselves to yesterday by zealous choice or solemn grief. So easily, we can become obsessed with what “might have been” and miss the beauty that lies before us. Our minds craft spectacular moments that will never be realized. Why? Is it self-indulgence, or are they necessary companions for our soul’s survival?

Love, its force so formidable, transcends time, distance, and even death. Eternal love is the epitome of its grandeur.

To feel the exquisite, majestic splendor of love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. To have another see the unique beauty in our imperfections, that will protect us and elevate us without greed or envy, a soul willing and proud to walk this journey of life with us and share in its joys and sorrows … this is love, a gift unmeasurable and unmatched by earthly possessions.

But two souls must be willing. Therein lies the intricate complexities of the heart. And in the end, we must never forget … love, as is life, is a continuous journey of becoming.

One of the reviews for the collection

Robin Goodfellow rated it Five Stars

The Heart’s Lullaby by Natalie Ducey is a beautiful book of poetry that describes the fragility as well as the strength of the human heart. The book is separated into four parts. Embers of Love focuses on the bittersweet aspect of heartbreak, the pain of saying goodbye to someone you care about. Eternal Love illustrates the beauty of love lasting forever, even after death. The Agony of Holding On & The Angst of Letting Go is about falling out of love, and that despite everything you do to hold onto that person, sometimes it’s better to let go. Finally, The Journey of Becoming is about being comfortable with yourself, and knowing that both the heart and the mind need to work together to bring peace and comfort. Whether it be through pain, loss, or peace, Ducey shows us that love can comfort us in our time of need, and show us how human we really are.

The world is a funny place. Sometimes, we do so much to protect ourselves to the point where we simply forget what it means to laugh or cry, or to even love our own selves again. This collection does, in fact, remind me of a lullaby you would sing to a small child at night, or even to a grown-up in need for comforting. For example, one of my most favorite poems in this collection comes from Eternal Love, where the narrator promises to love their beloved for all time in the memories of their past, even if they’re gone. It’s wonderful, because oftentimes we worry about if we’re missed, if we’re better off gone. It’s a question that’s haunted many people, but this poem answers it easily. In my mind, it shouldn’t be an easy question, but nevertheless, I’m shocked at how easy it is. It’s nostalgically iridescent, to say the least.

Ducey provides a soothing, comforting atmosphere interlaced within her poetry. From the pain of losing a loved one, to the relief of finally finding yourself in the end, this book encourages those suffering from heartbreak, and mesmerizes others just by its messages of hope alone. As such, I would recommend it to fans of Feathers, Shades, Shadows and a Few Raindrops by Mandar Naik, and Catching a Dream by J.R. McRae.

Read the other reviews and buy:

and on Amazon UK:

Also by Natalie Ducey

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read all the reviews and follow Natalie on Goodreads:

Connect to Natalie via her blog:

The final author in this first post for poetry is Dorinda Duclos whose work you can also read and buy (signed copies) at her Book Page You can also connect to Dorinda via Twitter: @DorindaDuclos

The poems in this particular collection would be a perfect gift for young adults and adults and  Night Owl Poetry.

About Night Owl Poetry

Poet and author Dorinda Duclos shares her life experiences and thoughts, with you, through her poetry. In this book, you’ll find love, life, fantasy, fiction, sorrow and happiness. A vast view of one woman’s vision of the world surrounding us.

One of the reviews for the collection.

I purchased a copy of the Night Owl Poetry for myself to read in the morning time when I am reading on the sofa while also enjoying drinking my vanilla latte. I find that all of the poems inside this book were wonderfully written and the poems focus towards the young adults to adult readers. She has a variety of poetry in her book, but my favorites are “Believe,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” and “The Cherry Tree Haiku.” Those poems stood out the most to me and were the most meaningful to me in my life right now. Thank you for writing such a lovely poetry book and I will be sure to share this with others.

All the books including signed copies can be purchased through Dorinda’s website: Book Page

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Dorinda on Goodreads:

Thank you for dropping in today and there will be more poetry collections for Christmas Gifts later in the week. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – A Boy and a Gun by William Spivey


Welcome to another of the archive posts by William Spivey and one that fits into the Christmas posts series. I can remember searching our house for the presents as a child and never seemed to find them. At age 8 I discovered that my parents, knowing how devious I could be had hidden mine and my brother’s gifts in our neighbour’s basement!

This true account is well worth reading by every parent who will be hiding presents in tops of wardrobes, under the bed or even locked in a cupboard safely in the garage.. What else might your children find?

A Boy and a Gun by William Spivey

I grew up in a household with 4 boys and no girls. Without meaning to suggest that girls are not, I can definitively say that boys are curious by nature. There came a time when my parents brought home some Christmas presents early in December and it became our life’s mission to find out where those presents were hidden, what they were, guess who they belonged to and ultimately play with them long before Santa brought them down our non-existent chimney.

I was the second oldest of the 4 boys, the first three approximately two years apart. We were all quite different in personality. The oldest was quieter and had some nerdish traits preferring chess and airplanes to sports. I was perhaps the most reckless and got into far more trouble than my older brother. The one two years below me was able to learn from his two older brothers and got into less trouble while being slightly more devious and the youngest was but a baby at this time and not a participant in this particular story.

Because both our parents worked, we were home alone for at least brief periods most days. We had chores we were responsible for which should have taken up much of that time but there was always time to get into something and the mission to discover those presents was a top priority. The detached garage was eliminated early on, most everything was clearly visible and while there was an attic, a quick search utilizing the pull down ladder eliminated that as a possibility. Because we’d glimpsed the sizes of some of the boxes, many potential locations in our house were eliminated because they didn’t have the capacity to hold the items in question. We’d settled on my parent’s bedroom as the only remaining possibility which we’d pretty much saved for last as that was known to be forbidden territory.

I don’t recall which of my brothers went with me but we eventually gathered up the courage and began the search. It didn’t take long to focus on the closet and we discovered bags containing yet to be wrapped presents including the ultimate prize a remote control Jaguar XKE. We were not deterred by the need for batteries as we were able to strip them from discarded toys from earlier times and we played with that car until we thought it no longer safe and then boxed it back up until the next opportunity.

Christmas finally came, the Jaguar went to my older brother who would never appreciate it as much as I would have. I got a model airplane which within hours of being put together, was destroyed by my younger brother who “wanted to see if it could fly”. The story could have ended there but another item discovered during the search of the closet was a gun.

We had no knowledge there was a gun in the house or for what purpose. Until Christmas passed it was sufficient to play with the toys and revel in our secret time but the knowledge of the gun was always there. My brothers and I didn’t discuss it ever and I have no idea if they harbored the curiosity that I did.

It was fairly rare that I found myself home alone but on one such occasion, I was determined to satisfy my curiosity about the gun. I slinked back to the closet; it was still there on an upper shelf behind some other items. It was unloaded but there were some bullets of different sizes in a box and I took one I believed would fit. I was dying to fire a gun and searched my brain for the best way to do it. I went down to the basement, where there was an approximately 3 foot x 3 foot closet containing the water heater which was the only spot in the home with a dirt floor. The plan that shaped in my then 11 year old brain, was to fire the gun into the dirt where it would no doubt go straight down leaving little evidence that I could easily cover up. I hadn’t calculated for the noise which would likely be heard at least a few houses away as there were windows from the basement to the outside.

I loaded the gun; aimed and pulled the trigger… and nothing happened. They say God protects fools and little children and he got two for one that day. The “dirt floor” was packed so hard that there would have been no possibility for the bullet not to ricochet. At best I could have killed a water heater, at worst me. I thought at the time it may have been the wrong size bullet. Later I wondered if there was a safety that kept me from accomplishing something very foolish.

A warning to those that keep guns, whatever safety measures you employ, a determined child may have the means to overcome them. Others may not be as lucky as I was that day.

©William Spivey 2016

Thanks to William for sharing this cautionary tale with us and I am sure he would love your feedback.

About William Spivey and his blog Inigma in Black

Enigma In Black is one man’s opinion about matters primarily involving politics, education, and race. I suppose I should also add history because, without an understanding of the past, we’re doomed to repeat those mistakes. On the 7th of each month, I’ll publish a segment called, “Shadow Warriors” where I’ll focus on an individual/group that is doing significant work for good and is perhaps slightly unheralded. Blog posts will appear at least once a week, likely more often because I find I have a lot to say.

Trolls are welcome provided you comment with more than just memes. You must use your words in order for your comments to be approved. After your first comment is approved, all others will be automatically posted. There will be no censorship except for those unwilling or unable to remain civil to those who participate here.

Topics bound to keep coming up are Voter Suppression, Politics, and Systemic Injustice. On a lighter note, there will be posts about family, some poetry, and social commentary on whatever strikes my fancy.

My name is William Spivey. I’m a graduate of Fisk University which I credit for much of who I am. I reside in Orlando, Florida. I write to be heard and make a difference. Stay tuned for information about soon to be released books; “Strong Beginnings” and “Letters to Amber.”

You can read a pre-publication review of Strong Beginnings by Yecheilyah Ysrayl here:

Connect to William and read more of his posts.

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I am now looking for assorted Festive posts for December, recollections of Christmas past, family, humour, short stories, poems, recipes etc.. Have a delve through your previous December posts and if you are not planning on re-using.. pop them over to me at


Buy Art and Design for Christmas – Sarah Vernon – First Night Design

Buying a gift for Christmas for those we love can become more difficult the older we get. We probably have enough ornaments to dust, soap and socks. Finding something that is a little more inventive can be tough but if you enter Sarah Vernon’s online shopping sites there is no problem at all in finding just the right piece to delight everyone on your present list.


An actress for over 30 years on screen and stage, Sarah Vernon is also a very talented artist and writer. As a blogger Sarah has delighted with her websites including Rogues&Vagabonds founded in 2001, provided a wonderful look behind the scenes of British Theatre and from time to time further afield with some additional features on television and the big screen.

For those of us lucky enough to have discovered her blog and websites, we have been treated to her original and elegant First Night Design creations which adorn posters, cards, household items and some wonderful clothes and accessories.

For most of us this little bird will always be associated with Christmas

 Stay, little cheerful Robin!

The US link to this and all products with robins at Sarah’s Zazzle store is:
The UK link is:

Here is a wonderful and Unique courier bag that will definitely get you noticed and available from Zazzle

hollywood_vintage_gloria_courier_bags-r1251b7a381d74caaa61927fb41d81af3_2ibsv_8byvr_325US link:
UK link:

For the man in your life a tie that will stand out from all the rest on the rack with its understated elegance.


US link:
UK link:

Cushion from Redbubble (They’re in Australia but also ship from UK) to decorate that special chair in your living room.



And for good measure, a tote bag from Redbubble as they’ve proved so popular recently!



You can read more of Sarah’s fascinating story in her interview on the Sunday Show.

Other Links to Sarah’s websites, online shops and social media.

Social Media