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

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

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

Here is more about how you can participate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Amy. M. Reade

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

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

Books by Amy M. Reade

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Amy on Goodreads:

Connect with Amy via her website and social media links:

Amazon Author Page:

Thank you for dropping in today and if you would like to participate in this series then please contact me on for details.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – The Viking and the Courtesan by Shehanne Moore

New on the shelves

Today’s featured author is Shehanne Moore who has a smexy historical romantic theme in her books that is proving very popular. I suggest that you head over to her blog and enjoy her many interviews of fellow authors… conducted alongside some furry ‘dudes’ who have minds of their own and a very direct line of questioning.

On with Shehanne’s books beginning with The Viking and the Courtesan which was published in 2015…

51hcyukkqjl-_uy250_About The Viking and the Courtesan

In 898 AD she wasn’t just from another land. Wrecking a marriage is generally no problem for the divorce-obtaining Lady Malice Mallender. But she faces a dilemma when she’s asked to ruin her own. Just how businesslike should she remain when the marriage was never consummated and kissing her husband leads to Sin—a handsome Viking who wants her for a bed slave in name only?

She came from another time.

Viking raider Sin Gudrunsson wants one thing. To marry his childhood sweetheart. Only she’s left him before, so he needs to keep her on her toes, and a bed slave, in name only, seems just the thing. Until he meets Malice.

One kiss is all it takes to flash between two times.

But when one kiss is no longer enough, which will it be? Regency London? Or Viking Norway? Will Malice learn what governs the flashes? Can Sin?

Where worlds collide, can love melt the iciest heart?

Two of the reviews for the book.

A real page turner! 4.5 stars By Nicole Laverdure on August 29, 2016

I usually don’t have a problem writing a review, but this story, The Viking and The Courtesan, written by Shehanne Moore, has so many twists and turns that I don’t know how to start! What happens when two headstrong women, Malice and Snotra, compete for the same man, a Viking named Sin?

The story starts in London 1819 and wanders into 898 AD, back and forth. Forced to marry Cyril, Malice becomes the victim of this arrangement because he really doesn’t love her . . . he only wants her money. But a single kiss will send her into the arms of a Viking named Sin, who is betrothed to another woman, Snotra. Sin will make her his bed slave. This story is filled with twists and turns to kept your attention! Follow their journey to discover the true nature of Malice and her discovery of how she can control her destiny. Which men will choose to love for eternity?

Which woman will win the Viking’s heart for eternity?

I loved the inconvenient time travelling and the gradual reveal of its meaning By Jolliffe on July 29, 2015

The Viking and The Courtesan is an historical tale—well-written, fast paced and intriguing, with a touch of time travel!

Lady Malice is not your typical Regency heroine but she is compelling and strangely likeable. A victim of an arranged marriage, she is still, woefully innocent and unfulfilled. Maybe this is why she enjoys her chosen career so much?

Destroying marriages is an unusual pursuit for a married lady but it keeps her in shoes and stops her thinking about her own disastrous nuptials. Faced with an unthinkable dilemma she seeks out her errant husband to carry out her latest commission, with life changing results.The time slip is seamless and the shift from Regency drawing room to Saxon village under Viking attack, swift and shocking. Malice’s surprise and fear is tangible but her cynical outlook and sharp tongue remain. Both traits help her withstand the unexpected ordeal, despite the carnage surrounding her.

Sin is less than impressed with the latest slaves but he needs a bed slave to keep his fickle fiancée interested. Malice is no one’s slave but she finds Sin hard to resist. The chemistry between the courtesan and the Viking is memorable, despite the incongruity of their situation.I loved the inconvenient time travelling and the gradual reveal of its meaning. Malice is prepared to risk all for her man and her strength and tenacity are legendary.

I purposely delayed writing this review for a few days, to see what I could remember. Malice, Sin and their compatriots’ formidable personalities, are easy to recall

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Shehanne Moore

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Read all the reviews and buy the books:


About Shehanne Moore

Shehanne Moore is a Scottish born author who writes gritty, witty, more risky than risqué, historical romance, set wherever takes her fancy–stories that detail the best and worst of human behaviour, as opposed to pouts and flounces.

For years she did various jobs while pursuing her dream of becoming a published writer, so she was thrilled to be offered a contract by Etopia Press for The Unraveling of Lady Fury, six days after subbing it.

Shehanne still lives in Scotland with her husband Mr Shey. She has two daughters. When not writing intriguing, and of course, sizzling, historical romance, where goals and desires of sassy, unconventional heroines and ruthless men, mean worlds do collide, she fantasizes about cleaning the house, plays the odd musical instrument and loves what in any other country, would not be defined, as hill-walking.

Connect to Shehanne.


I am sure that we shall be seeing Shehanne again soon in an update with her next book.. in the meantime it would be great if you could spread the news about her current books far and wide.

If you would like to be on the virtual Cafe and Bookstore shelves with regular updates on your new books and great reviews then please take a look at the Free options to promote here on the blog..

Thanks for dropping by.. you are always welcome.  Sally








My First Book Shout Out – A Perfect Plan – Book One The Wiltshire Chronicles by Alyssa Drake

first book shout out

Today’s debut novel, A Perfect Plan by Alyssa Drake is the first in the Wiltshire Chronicles. An historical romance It was published in May this year and has already received over 26 excellent reviews.


About the Book

Samantha Hastings lived a quiet, peaceful life on her family’s country estate. With no man to order her around and no stifling society rules to follow, she considered herself blessed. However, when her brother’s ship sinks during a short trip to France, Samantha receives a request from her sister-in-law to return to town and manage the late Earl’s finances. Suddenly thrust into society, Samantha faces an unfamiliar world and a pair of very familiar green eyes.

Lord Benjamin Westwood never intended on following through with his rash promise to his best friend. Now, with Edward’s death, Benjamin becomes the unwilling guardian to Edward’s bratty little sister, who has grown up considerably since the last time they met. His intention to marry her off to the first available suitor is thwarted when he finds himself falling for Samantha’s unique demeanor. He lights upon the perfect plan; a marriage of convenience, giving him the opportunity to romance Samantha without distraction.

However, when they discover Edward’s disappearance was due to foul play, Benjamin’s perfect plan begins to quickly unravel. Now, Samantha is in more danger than either of them realized and Benjamin is running out of time.

A selection of reviews for the book

Such a quick read! A historical romance isn’t my usual read but I’m always willing to give romance a chance and I’m so glad I did! I enjoyed Samantha Hastings so very much; if I could go back in time to 1853 I would act just like her. And let me fan myself while I think of Lord Benjamin Westwood! That man right there is all I would need for the rest of my days! This book gives you laughter, love, mystery and murder; it’s everything you could need in a book.

If you enjoy romance then read this one for sure. The author does leave you with a cliffhanger and I may of messaged her asking for the rest of it because I need to know what happens next. I’ll be keeping my eye out for the next one so I know what happens with Benjamin and Samantha.

This book is the first book in the Wiltshire Chronicles and a debut book by Alyssa Drake. This beautiful time period book was both mysterious and funny. As you experience the antics of Samantha a young beautiful woman who is full of life and spunk and the rake Benjamin that she falls in love with. You are also caught up in the mystery of finding out who murdered her father which is the scene that opens this book and has you guessing the why and who til the very last moment. This was a wonderful exciting book that i thoroughly enjoyed. It has you laughing, crying, and trying to figure out who could possibly have done it. It holds your attention til the very last page of the book giving you laughs, love, and mystery in a way that has you traveling the gamut of emotions. Can’t wait to read the next installment of this wonderful series.

on October 23, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I was rooting from the beginning for the ward and the guardian to wind up together. The chemistry between these two just jumped off the pages. Sam and Benjamin deserved to find happiness with one another.

However, trouble, murder and mystery await them both. Who will live? Who will die? Who will get their HEA?

I want to read the next book right this moment to get those answers! And that epilogue… what a tease! But I have to say, I saw it coming.

Must. Have. Next. Book!

Read all the reviews and BUY the book:

About Alyssa Drake


Author Alyssa Drake has been creating stories since she could read, preferring to construct her own bedtime tales instead of reading the titles in her bookshelves. Enraptured with all types of writing, Alyssa has tried her hand at short stories, collaborations and poetry. However, her first love has always been books. She thoroughly enjoys strong heroines and often laughs aloud when visualizing conversations between her characters.

Alyssa graduated from the University of the Pacific, with a B.S. in business and a concentration in French literature. Currently she resides in Northern California with her blended family, where she works full-time at a chocolate factory.

She believes everyone is motivated by love of someone or something. One of her favorite diversions is fabricating stories about strangers surrounding her on public transportation. Alyssa can often be found madly scribbling notes on a train or daydreaming out the window as the scenery whips past.

Other buy links for the book

Barnes & Noble
Kobo –
Smashwords –

Connect with Alyssa Drake


FB for books

If you would like to promote your blog or books in the weeks before Christmas.. look out for the new promotions coming next week.

My First Book Shout Out will also be running. If you are a first time author then check the details in this post.

Please spread the news about Alyssa’s debut novel and thanks for dropping in. Sally




New Book in Series – Marked by Honor – The Knights of Valor Series by Lauren Linwood

New book in series

The featured book today – Word of Honor – is the first book in The Knights of Valor series by Lauren Linwood.

Brief overview of the series to date:

The Knights of Valor is the first historical romance series written by Lauren Linwood after nine previous standalone novels. It takes place in 14th century Medieval England and centers on the de Montfort family. Each romance will focus on honor and the code of chivalry that bound knights of this era.

Word of Honor, the first book in the series, introduces Lord Geoffrey de Montfort and his bride, Merryn Mantel. This couple will get their happily ever after and appear in subsequent books in order to tie the series together.

Future books will spotlight the love stories of Geoffrey’s cousin and best friend Raynor; his two nieces Elysande and Avelyn; and his twins Alys and Ancel de Montfort.

Word of Honor Final 600x912About Word of Honor:

Merryn Mantel and Geoffrey de Montfort have loved each other since childhood. Once betrothed, Geoffrey leaves for the wars in France for five long years. Upon his return, the two marry and spend one blissful night consummating their love and making plans for their future.

But her new husband vanishes the next day without a trace. Merryn grieves for almost seven years—and then Geoffrey returns to her—changed from the boy and man she knew and worshipped. This stranger refuses to reveal where he has been and why he stayed away for so long.

Will her husband’s silence create a rift too large to heal, or can Merryn and Geoffrey recapture the love they once shared?

The book is already receiving great reviews including this one.

A captivating story you won’t put down!  By Java Mama on April 6, 2016Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I am a huge fan of Lauren Linwood, and I couldn’t wait for her to launch her first series. Needless to day, she delivered in a huge way with Word of Honor! In this story, we are introduced to dashing knight Geoffrey de Montfort and his lady, Merryn Mantel, who have loved each other since childhood. Rare for this time, it was a true love match. Merryn waits for Geoffrey to return from the war in France, and once he does, they marry. Passion ignites between the two lovers, and we know this is a marriage that will not only be full of passion but true love.

But happiness is short-Geoffrey disappears soon after their wedding day, leaving Merryn absolutely devastated. She mourns for her love for seven years, learning to run the estate on her own, grieving for her true love every night. But when Geoffrey returns, something is obviously very, very wrong. He is like a different man. Seven years has changed both of them. Can their love grow once again? Can Geoffrey overcome the trauma of his unspoken past?

Ms. Linwood weaves a tale that is utterly captivating. The passion, the suffering, the hope of love is all woven in the pages that are rich with description and feeling. I couldn’t put this book down! From historical detail to gut wrenching emotion to the believe that love can truly heal, this book has it all.

Buy Word of Honor : Amazon
Other Buy Links can be found here: Wind Tree Press

Cover Reveals for the next two books in the series.

Marked 349x531Code 349x531

Marked by Honor is available from July 6th and Code of Honour on October 5th 2016.

A selection of other books by Lauren Linwood


Buy all of Lauren’s books: Amazon author Page

About Lauren Linwood

Linwood IMG_4199 4x5 web

Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her historical romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire for one another grows into the treasured gift of love. Her romantic suspense novels feature strong heroes and heroines who unite to defeat a clever antagonist and discover a deep, abiding love during their journey.

A native Texan, Lauren lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with long walks. She plans to start a support group for Fixer Upper addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.

Connect with Lauren on her websites, blogs and social media.

Amazon Author Page:
Goodreads Author Page:

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Thanks for dropping by today and we would love your feedback and also if you would share across your own network.. Sally