Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Shortstories – #ScienceFiction A.C. Flory, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Life Sally Cronin, #Fairies Colleen M. Chesebro


Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

Today I will be sharing some collections of short stories which are always welcome gifts any time of the year

The first book is by A.C. Flory… The Vintage Egg – a collection of science fiction stories.

About the collection

The book takes its name from the first story in a collection of six, science fiction stories set at the end of the 21st century.

The first story, The Vintage Egg, is about a ruined sand racer, and one man’s dream of restoring it. The last story, The Egg Run, is about that man’s grandson, Tim. Tim has shared his grandfather’s dream since childhood, and now the dream is about to become reality. But what will he do when the one, great challenge of his life is over?

The Gamer and Brehak are two stories about full immersion online gaming, and the need to retain a sense of self.

The To-Do List is about family, and robots. The Christmas Roast is about family, and synthetic life chickens called SL’ick. In a world where traditional forms of meat are hideously expensive, owning your own SL’ick is a privilege. Eating them can be tricky though, especially when one of your children thinks of them as pets.

A recent review for the collection

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars Original and unique  Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2020

This is the first book by A.C. Flory I have read and I will definitely be reading more. Originality and uniqueness rate highly on my rating list for a book, and these six science fiction stories certainly meet that criteria. The stories are all well written and easy to read, which makes this book a great choice for most readers.

All of the stories assume a futurist world after an undisclosed event or series of events which turn Earth into a hot and arid desert. The surviving people of the world are forced to live in underground cities. Food sources have changed and meat is scarce and expensive. The population, forced to live this unnatural life, are kept entertained with digital games which are so realistic they are almost life experiences. There is, however, a limit on gaming time to prevent people from starving to death while playing. These are indications of how the unnatural lifestyle is impacting on people.

The Vintage Egg and The Egg Run are interlinked stories, with the former presenting the beginning and the later the ending, of one story idea. Both stories are complete and can be enjoyed as standalone reads. This is the tale of an elderly man’s dream of finding a way of exploring the ruined Earth above ground through the restoration of a vintage machine he acquires. He involves and interests his young grandson in his project and it becomes something they do together. The Egg Run depicts stage 2 of the project through the eyes of the grandson.

The Gamer and Brehak are another pair of stories, each told from a different characters point of view. This story is fascinating as it explores the lack of reality and truth presented in digital worlds and how both of the participants in this ‘life like’ game are totally deceived by the other’s digital avatar and how this lack of truth impacts on their lives.

The To-Do-List is an interesting peak into the differences between older and younger people when it comes to adapting to fast changing technologies. It is an entertaining, but frighteningly realistic, look, at the older generations determination to hold on to the past and they world they knew when they were younger, versus the younger generations easy ability to adapt to change.

The Christmas Roast was truly horrifying for me. The concepts explored in this short story about a world where food is short and improvisations have become the normal, was quite overwhelming for someone like me who has always bought milk in a bottle [does it really come from a cow?] and meat neatly packaged with few reminder that it was one a living, breathing creature.

A great book of short stories and one I have unhesitatingly given a 5-star rating.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by A.C. Flory

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US  –  And: Amazon UK – Follow A.C. Flory: Goodreads Blog : A.C Flory Twitter: @ACFlory

The next author is Jane Risdon for her short story collection Undercover: Crime Shorts.

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Pamela Allegretto 5.0 out of 5 stars easy 5 stars  Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2020

Jane Risdon treats the reader to her rare talent for spinning well-written, unique, and memorable yarns. Her writing is uncluttered, with each carefully chosen word packing a maximum punch. I thoroughly enjoyed this imaginative compilation.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK  – And: Amazon US

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And:  Amazon US–   Blog:Jane Risdon WordPressGoodreads:Jane Risdon Goodread –  Twitter: @Jane_Risdon

I am going to sneak my collection Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words in here …Short stories and poetry…

About Life’s RichTapestry: Woven in Words.

Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.

Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.

This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.

One of the recent reviews for the collection by John Maberry – 31st October 2020Reviews of five books we recommend.

My review of Sally Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words, is short. We will add a few lines from the book after the review, for your consideration.

The book lives up to its title–indeed, Sally Cronin has woven a rich tapestry of life in words of many kinds. A variety of poetry–in forms unfamiliar in name to me, microfiction and short stories. What’s more, the graphic imagery of the short poems is inspiring to a person like me who has never really found poetry either appealing or easily understood. This time, for a change, the words grabbed me. I found meaningful passages that could be useful as well in prose writing as in poetry. Examples I must return to in settings or other places where showing and not telling is essential.

The microfiction and short stories were equally compelling. [As noted in the promo for the book coming up next from Eagle Peak Press, we will consider a combination of ingredients as Sally Cronin did—and more in this book]. She is a writer worth reading.

Here a poetry excerpt (not necessarily representative of the content of the whole):

Memories

“Memories are sharp

and as clear as the blue sky

smiles etched on my heart.”

Or consider this brief excerpt from the intro to a short story titled, “The Junkyard Dog.”

“Charlie was a junkyard dog and had the scars to prove it. He was head of security of this fenced off mass of scrap metal, dotted with mounds of old tyres he called home, and he took his job very seriously.”

Read the reviews and buy the collection :Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

A selection of other fiction books

51ui0kwaml-_uy250_

Read the reviews and buy the books :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow Sally:Goodreads – Blog: Smorgasbord InvitationTwitter: @sgc58

The first featured book this week with my review from 2019 (and I thought I should get it posted whilst we still have some summmer) is by Colleen M. Chesebro, Fairies, Myths & 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.

A recent review for the collection on Goodreads

Jul 01, 2020 Brenda rated it Five Stars

This is an amazing read for anyone who loves magic, myths and folklore. It combines knowledge and wisdom with an array of stories and poetry that will take you to another realm. This book is a must have and a great summer read. You will not be able to put it down and you will want to read it over and over again. A great book for all ages.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US – And Amazon UK:

Also by Colleen M. Chesebro

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US –  And:Amazon UK   –   Goodreads: Colleen at Goodreads –  Website:Colleen Chesebro – Twitter: @ColleenChesebro

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some great gifts to share.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews -#Contemporary Ritu Bhathal, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Poetry Leon Stevens


Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today is Ritu Bhathal for her romance Marriage Unarranged.

About the book

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Mum of 2 5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, a page turner  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 July 2020

This book is beautifully written. I love how the characters are so different from each other and well described. I absolutely loved the holiday to India which depicted a very honest experience of India for Ritu I am sure. It certainly brought back a lot of memories for me. I loved how she brought out the best in it and how the characters embraced and enjoyed their experience of the country.

I read this through lockdown and found it hard to put down. I love the short chapters as I don’t always have a lot of time to read, however I kept saying ok..one more chapter and would that would turn into six! That’s a sure sign of a good book!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal, Buy: Amazon UK – andAmazon US- Blog: Ritu Bhathal WordPress Follow Ritu: Goodreads – Twitter: @RituBhathal

The next author today is Jane Risdon with a review for her collection Undercover: Crime Shorts.

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection on Goodreads

Jul 29, 2020 Roberta Cheadle rated it Five stars it was amazing

I take my hat off to this author. Jane Risdon has taken the genre of murder mystery short stories to a new level with this collection of six superbly different and unique stories. Each story is complete and stands alone with a proper story line which I really liked as I have read a number of short stories that feel incomplete, as if they are intended to be part of a larger work. There is also an excellent extract from a forthcoming novel included at the end as a bonus.

My personal favourite story was The Watchers which starts off on a horribly creepy note with the main character, Candice, being stalked telephonically by an unknown someone. The tension as she stands there with the telephone in her hand following the latest call is almost unbearable. “Her heart was making her blouse shake as it thudded faster and faster. Sweat ran down between her breasts and her legs felt as if they were going to give from under her. The constant ringing vibrated through her hand and up her arm.” Wow! I was shaking with Candice. This story certainly is not your standard peeping Tom tale and the twist at the end is clever and unexpected.

It is difficult in a short story to get your reader to really connect with your characters as you have such a short time to do this in. Jane Risdon has done it seamlessly in this collection and I really felt for all her characters. Sweet Sable – also known as the Red Siren, a gorgeous woman with her own agenda and the determination and ruthlessness to achieve it; China, the writer next door, who gets pulled into a very strange situation involving her neighbours and the Russian Mafia; Candice the seemingly innocent victim of a stalker but who has a past; the photographers who both had “the look”; a wealthy deceased woman with an extraordinary sense of justice and humour and a successful British diplomat whose encounter with a prostitute doesn’t go according to plan.

If you enjoy the murder mystery genre and like stories that are fast paced, exciting and unique, you will love this book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And:  Amazon US–   Blog:Jane Risdon WordPressGoodreads:Jane Risdon Goodread –  Twitter: @Jane_Risdon

The final review today is for writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter and artist Leon Stevens for his poetry collection, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

About the collection

Lines by Leon is a selection of poems, prose, and short stories that address the subjects of loss, struggle, and reflection. Inside these thoughtful contemplations are original observations about ego, behaviour, human relations, places, and the environment. Many of the pieces feature a lighthearted and even humorous take on a subject, and the author invites his readers to laugh, think, cry, and meditate on the wide variety of thoughts.

Scattered throughout the book are sketches of various subjects, many that relate to the poems and stories they illustrate; others speak for themselves.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Nia 4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of poems  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 July 2020

This anthology is fantastically emotionally aware. Stevens provides a personal perception on various key aspects of living, especially the human condition and environment, both natural and urban, in a casual yet deep manner. There is a great variety in tone throughout and each poem’s rhythm is appropriate to the section it features in.

I find As I See It especially relatable and love the honesty of Stevens’ interpretations of sociability. How I See also prompts the reader to acknowledge individual’s differences because the alternative, us being all the same, would be tremendously dull. How Many’s A Crowd also expresses the importance of quality not quantity in social groups, implying that having few close friends is of more value to them and yourself than having a million acquaintances. I came away from this particular poem reminiscent of an analogy that it is better to have five-pound coins than five-hundred pennies.

People and Places is rich in urban imagery, appealing to the reader’s senses with its casually cosmopolitan descriptions. There is a certain charm to how the narrator explores the world around them, regardless of whether or not their surroundings are minimal or flashy.

I love how each individual poem throws (sometimes subtly, other times in full force) at the reader a question for them to answer about life and their own way of living. How the narrator approaches social conventions in Just Say Yes is particularly self-aware and its honesty is what pulls me in, essentially stating that in some cases it is far easier to say ‘Yes’ to people than ‘No’ to avoid any form of argument, conflict, or even just to politely hasten the conversation so that it is over soon.

In short, this anthology is an emotionally and spiritually refreshing read. It affords the reader a moment to pause, step back from the fast-paced modern world around us and appreciate the beauty in simplicity. To appreciate nature, loved ones and oneself is of utmost importance. The brevity of certain passages also leaves room for reflection, whilst appreciating the background’s minimalist aesthetic with simple stick-figure illustrations and shady charcoal doodles.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Leon Stevens, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Leon: GoodreadsWebsite: Lines by Leon Twitter: @linesbyleon

 

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

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors -#Paranormal Don Massenzio, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Fantasy Jan Sikes


There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.

In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.

Meet Don Massenzio

51w8ilqqnkl-_ux250_Like his character, Frank Rozzani, Don was born in Syracuse, New York to first generation Italian American parents. He’s an avid reader. Some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, John Grisham, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird.

He started writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate life. He use writing as a therapeutic outlet to combat his homesickness.

His first published book, Frankly Speaking, rose to the top of the Amazon charts. It was the first in a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The series is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from the 70’s television show, The Rockford Files. He’s also released a collection of short stories called Random Tales that is available for your Kindle or in paperback.

Also, look for his non-fiction book, The Ultimate Guide For Independently Published Authors: Tips for improving quality and selling your work, now available on Amazon.com as an eBook or in paperback

He moved to Jacksonville, Florida 22 years ago where he currently lives with his wife, daughter, and three dogs.

A selection of books by Don Massenzio

One of the recent reviews for Extra Innings

Apr 02, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Four Stars on Goodreads

Extra Innings by Don Massenzio is one man’s search to find more meaning in his simple life. The Langerton Chiefs, a AAA baseball team for the New York Yankees, have always been a significant part of Joe McLean’s life. He and his brother Mike have been lifelong fans. When the city council decides to tear down Maxwell Stadium to build a more modern facility, Joe decides that he wants a piece of the old stadium as a means of remembering his beloved Chiefs.

This meat of this story is not about baseball, however. When McLean purchases an old wooden stadium seat, he finds that he can travel in time when he goes to sleep in it. He understands that he is moving in time and recognizes the critical people in his life from days gone by, but each time Joe ends in a new period, he discovers positives and negatives. The problem is that no timeline seems to be perfect and continually finds things that are imperfect about his life that he goes about trying to fix before moving to another timeline.

It was a bit tedious trying to keep track of all of the timelines, but I found this to be an enjoyable read overall.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USand: Amazon UK Follow Don Massenzio: Goodreads Blog: Don Massenzio – Twitter: @dmassenzio

Meet Jane Risdon

About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.

Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.

With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one-time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69.
Recently Jane completed her first collection of short crime stories for publication – Undercover: Crime Shorts – published in both eBook and Paperback 2019 (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).

Jane writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also has a blog and often hosts guest authors.

She is working on the sequel to Only One Woman as yet untitled, as well as a series of crime novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring former MI5 Intelligence Officer Lavinia Birdsong which she plans to complete in 2020. Her experience of working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in her pre-music days has given her plenty of material for her crime/thrillers.

Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms.

One of the recent reviews for Undercover Crime Shorts on Goodreads

Feb 14, 2020 J.P. Willson rated it Four Stars

An eclectic collection of sinister scenarios…
See what I did there?
Seriously though, albeit short, a very good collection of stories that will leave you guessing through till the end.
Well worth a look.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And:  Amazon US–   Blog:Jane Risdon WordPress Goodreads:Jane Risdon Goodread –  Twitter: @Jane_Risdon

Meet Jan Sikes

Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, began her writing career as a young girl. Her first work was a gospel song. She had an uncle whom she loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from their home. So, she wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is her first memory of feeling the passion deep down to her toes for writing and for music.

When her husband passed away in 2009, she thought someone would come along and write the story of his unique and inspiring life. She awoke one morning to realize she was the only one who could write it, since she was the only one there with him through it all. So, she took several Creative Writing courses at local community colleges and went to work.

Her books are true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love…True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

She also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

Jan has also developed several writing workshops that you can get more information about on her website.

She is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, The North Texas Book Festival and the Texas Musicians Museum.

A selection of books by Jan Sikes

One of the recent reviews for Jonah.

I really enjoyed this story. Jonah is a convict who was given a choice about how to serve his sentence and chose to be deserted on an island where the elements and environment were difficult to endure. The story focuses on his journey to inner redemption, and I love stories that focus on that internal struggle. I loved that Jonah’s isolation stripped away his need to appear tough and feared, the way he was in his home turf. I also loved that he innately protected Titus without even realizing he was doing so at first.

I just wished the story was longer. I know that it was meant to be a short story, but I would have loved more depth and more details. I would have loved more memory scenes that showed Jonah’s past life. I would have enjoyed more interaction with Titus as he grappled with his inner growth. And I would have enjoyed more of a lead into meeting the adults. I wanted to learn about his lessons and the trials and tribulations he would need to go through before being ready to fulfill his purpose. I honestly think this could be developed into a great novel if the author ever chooses to do so. All in all, it’s a great short story that will leave you wanting more. 🙂

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan SikesGoodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks

Thank you for joining me today for this series and I will be sharing another three authors and their work every weekday during June and July. It would be great if you could share. Thanks Sally.