Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews – #ParanormalThriller John W. Howell and Gwen Plano, #Thriller Toni Pike.


Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

My first review is from 2018 for The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano.

About The Contract

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires. A Great summer read.

My review for the book

The Contract is a fusion of fantasy, thriller and romance and is the debut novel of the new collaboration between John. W. Howell and Gwen Plano.

I have read all of John Howell’s books and enjoyed, so I was eager to find out how these two popular writers would rise to the challenge of collaborating.

The concept is intriguing, and the opening chapter sets out this well, with the introduction to two souls, who had little time on earth to enjoy their love of each other. They are tasked by the divine council with preventing a major catastrophe on earth that could threaten mankind, but it will mean that they will be separated and have no memory of their task. Their hosts are two people with the knowledge and skill set to overcome the threat, but they are thousands of miles apart and both in mortal danger.

The writers do a good job of bringing these two characters together; now infused with the souls who have been contracted to neutralise the upcoming disaster. Watched and abetted  by guardian angels, their relationship begins with subterfuge, but quickly becomes attraction, and then love strong enough to take them through to the end of their endeavour.

This love story runs parallel to the fast escalation of violence and intrigue that reveals hidden agendas and treason in high places. The story has a good pace and there is plenty of action to keep the thriller lovers engaged with a number of surprising twists and turns in the plot along the way.

The final confrontation is a fitting climax to the story, bringing together all the players and their roles in the conspiracy, in an action packed battle of good against evil.

I am sure that this writing duo will go from strength to strength following this creative and exciting debut.

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

Other books by John Howell

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USand on: Amazon UK – Goodreads:John Howell Goodreads Blog: John W. Howell. com – Twitter@HowellWave

Other books by Gwen Plano

Gwen Plano, Buy: Amazon US – and  : Amazon UK – follow Gwen : Goodreads – website:Gwen PlanoTwitter: @gmplano

The next review today is from 2019 and is for the psychological thriller by Toni Pike…..Desolation Bluff

About the book

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Rachel to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.

A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

My review for Desolation Bluff

Desolation Bluff is packed with suspense and action.

Life is challenging enough for those with a sight impairment, when trust of those around you is essential. Oliver Cameron feels blessed to have a highly successful writing career, loyal housekeeper, a wonderfully supportive wife and best friend and back from honeymoon, he couldn’t be happier.

As we become involved in the story, and are party to events that Oliver is not aware of, it is easy to become angry on his behalf as the depths of betrayal are exposed. How will he deal with the revelations that unfold? Seeking revenge requires careful planning but people will go to great lengths to protect their secrets. For some of those who are looking out for Oliver’s best interests, this can be dangerous. Especially when an unexpected ally turns up on the scene who might be less likely to be intimidated.

The characters are well drawn and the plot moves along at a good pace. It is easy to take sides as the story develops and the climax leaves you on the edge of your seat…. and Desolation Bluff.

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

Other books by Toni Pike

Toni Pike, Buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK –  Follow Toni:Goodreads – Website: Toni PikeTwitter: @piketoni1

 

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

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Party – Just One Wish – Guests, Food, Music and laughter


The theme for this year’s party is ‘Just One Wish’. We are all familiar with the story of Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, who was pretty liberal with that magic wand of hers and managed to turn a pumpkin into a golden carriage.

Unfortunately, she has long since retired and hung up her wand, but because I asked nicely (and she would like me to promote her memoir – The Prince Charmings I have Known!) she has agreed to allow my guests, just one wish…

My thanks to everyone who sent in their special wish and with a great deal of positive thought from us all, and of course a little assistance from the magic wand of the Fairy Godmother, they might just come true…

Please help yourself to food and drink and if you would like to dance on the tables… that is great. You will find links to authors author pages and a selection of their books and their social media so please head over and discover more.

And to get the party started on a high … something that will definitely work off the mince pies and Christmas Cake (please don’t try this at home unless you have consulted your doctor first!).. courtesy of Riverdance

You can find all the Riverdance tour dates for USA, Canada, UK and Europe: Riverdance tour schedule

John W. Howell.

Thank you, Sally, for this beautiful party and for the opportunity to submit a wish to the Fairy Godmother. My one wish is that the entire population of the Earth pause for a moment and reflect on the beauty of our precious home.

It seems to me that if we all paused for just one moment, we would realize that this Earth is what we each have in common. Our petty squabbles and desire to dominate one another, would I believe, diminish in the presence of the awe inspired by this beautiful blue marble.

Fairy Godmother here: A wonderful wish John and I hope that these images will encourage others to share your dream.This is the live stream from NASA where you can watch as the world turns throughout the day and marvel at its wonders: courtesy of Space Videos

John Howell, Buy: Amazon USGoodreads: John Howell Goodreads – Blog: John Howell

Katharine Everson

m-and-me

Dearest Fairy Godmother, I am desperate for snow. What a delight it would be to celebrate a white Christmas! Also, while I have you, please use your special wand to eliminate the snow-and-ice ‘sandwich’ effect which we’ve had too many times. I’ll make you a special snow woman as a thank you! Katharine

Fairy Godmother here: Thank you for your wish Katharine, unfortunately the Winter Fairy has a mind of her own and does not always stick to the rules… I get this wish a lot at this time of year and not just from humans…I hope this will keep you smiling until your own smile arrives. Courtesy of Epic Laughs

Katharine EversonTeachez Well Blog – Twitter: @Teachezwell – Facebook: Teachezwell

Janet Gogerty

It’s about time this was invented, but then I doubt I could afford it; the modern version of a magic carpet… a solar powered airship. It need not be big, just like a camper van in the clouds that floats gently, but fairly fast, to visit family on three continents for Christmas. Starting with Western Australia as they are 8 hours ahead of us and finishing in Nevada as they are 8 hours behind us. I expect it to be fully equipped with food and comforts for a luxury holiday and entertaining those we visit.

Fairy Godmother here: I had a word with Goodyear and they have built an airship for you but you will need an intensive pilot training course.. I hope that you enjoy your flights…Courtesy of YOUCAR

Janet Gogerty books: Amazon UK – Blog: Tidal Scribe WordPress – Twitter: @ytregog

Balroop Singh…

Hi Fairy grandmother, my only wish this Christmas is to take me around the world in a golden chariot, decked with Christmas lights. I want to keep the reins in my hand so that I could stop wherever I want and I would surely stop at Sally’s home to hug her, dance with her and wish her Merry Christmas. I wont be alone, so keep the size of the chariot a little bigger with at least six seats. I hope there would be enough space to carry some gifts and cakes too. Thank you for granting this tiny wish. Love you.

Fairy Godmother here: What a lovely wish Balroop. I don’t think I have time to create a gold chariot in time, but I have had a word with the Christmas Train and they have agreed to put Wexford in Ireland on the schedule and Sally will be waiting for you on Christmas Eve for a hug and a dance….Courtesy of LoyaltyDynamics

Balroop Singh, Buy: Amazon US – Blog: Balroop Singh on WordPress Goodreads: Balroop Singh

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Darlene Foster

My biggest wish for the Fairy Godmother is that all children be safe and happy. I know it is a big wish, but perhaps the Fairy Godmother will sprinkle some of her fairy dust over all the little children and take their troubles away. Thanks for putting in a good word, Sally.

Fairy Godmother here: That is an amazing wish Darlene and you already do a great deal to bring happiness to children with your books and encouragement to read, develop an imagination and dream.

I wish would be that I had the power to wave my magic wand and make all children happy but sometimes it takes humans to make the difference and whilst some governments do make every effort to support children, sometimes the people have to step in. In most countries there are fundraisers that do a great deal of good and millions of good people support these every year.. Such as Children in Need

This video revisits stories of children whose lives have been made better and happier because of ordinary people. Courtesy of BBC Children in Need

Many countries have something similar but if you live in the UK here is the link to find out more: BBC Children in Need

Darlene Foster, Buy: Amazon US – Website/Blog: Darlene Foster WordPress – Goodreads: Goodreads

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Valentina Cirasola

My wish is to open an art school community where experts, teachers, speakers, and inspirational people share their knowledge, train new minds and leave their legacy. A community for the young and young at heart, who want to create and live surrounded by beauty. I envision theatre art, visual art, painting, music, fabric art, glasswork, sculpting, writing, fashion design, interior design, the list is infinite. The building I need to host all the activities is a large antique home or an industrial building, with many floors, a courtyard with fountains for relaxation, for private reflection, or for meeting people surrounded by fragrant plants and flowers.

Fairy Godmother here: What a wonderful vision Valentina and with your love of colour and design you are bringing art into all our lives. I wish that I could wave my wand and bring you the building of your dreams but I am sure that one day it will be a reality. In the meantime, on a small scale but still supporting artists is this artist co-op in South Carolina which is doing so much for creative artists in the community…Courtesy of GreenGiantMedia

Valentina Cirasola, Buy:Amazon US Website: Valentina DesignsGoodreads: Valentina Cirasola Goodreads

Diana Wallace Peach

Since Peace on Earth is a given, I’m going for something a little closer to home… as a writer, I have no time for housework. My cobwebs are so dusty that the spiders have moved out, and I could knit a sweater with the dog hair collected under the couch. The refrigerator is a terrarium of exotic spores, and the laundry pile requires a haz-mat suit and gas mask. Anyway, my wish is for Santa to bring a gaggle of industrious elves with mops, sponges, brooms, dusters, and toxic-free cleaning products to get this place in shape. And sunglasses for the whole family to deal with the sparkle.

Fairy Godmother here: Diana I am completely with you on the subject of housework and I am most lucky in that I have an excellent daily cleaner who relieves me of the burden. I am sure you will be very happy with them and they are cost effective as they work for sausages and cheese. Here is an example of their services courtesy of jbiniok

D. Wallace Peach, Buy: Amazon US – Website/Blog: Myths of the Mirror –  GoodreadsD. Wallace Peach

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Robbie Cheadle..

I wondered if this poem was suitable for your Christmas wish posts? I wrote this a few years ago when we were having a drought. It broke on Christmas morning and the rain bucketed down. It was really amazing and such a relief after weeks of dry heat.

The best gift of all

I woke up this Christmas morning;
and what miracle did I hear?
The splatter of heavy rainfall;
It’s sound so distinctive and clear.

Santa, I’m glad you got my wish list;
and thought my request worthwhile;
The downpour has revived the earth;
The flowers are sparkling in style.

You brought us the gift of water;
I wonder, were the clouds in your sack?
Did you set them free this morning?
To help alleviate a very serious lack.

©Robbie Cheadle

Fairy Godmother here: That really was a wonderful gift Robbie and I would love to help that happen again this year…. here is a rain dance but do expect a little more than water.. It is Raining Men….courtesy of Stockholms Studentsångare

Jemima Pett

Dear Fairy Godmother My wish is for the fairies at the bottom of the garden to be more diligent with their attention to the weeds and the slugs.

In particular: remove the daisies and the buttercups in the lawn. The guinea pigs love the clover and dandelions, but daisies and buttercups are poisonous.

As for the slugs – they ate all my young bean plants last year. This year I have promised to raise some so the Heritage Seed Library can increase their stock. You wouldn’t want this type to be delisted, would you? Please explain to the fairies. I’m sure they’ll understand.

Fairy Godmother Here: Sorry some of my fellow fairies have been a little lax in their duties Jemima and I have had words. They assure me that they will pay better attention particularly to the slugs and as you can see they are busy at work in the area….courtesy of LIONATE

Jemima Pett, Buy: Amazon US – Blog http://jemimapett.com –  Goodreads: Jemima Pett

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Audrey Driscoll

My wish: that people all over the world will be visited by the Indie Book Elves, and wake up on Christmas Day with an insatiable desire to read books rather than watch TV or movies. (Especially books by a certain group of authors.)

Fairy Godmother here: I have waved my magic wand as this is wish close to my heart as my own book The Prince Charmings I have Known is only in Eversion… we have to encourage them to start reading as young as possible. They are currently undergoing computer training to enable them to download the books at Christmas.

Audrey Driscoll, Buy:Amazon US – Blog: Audrey Driscoll –  Goodreads: Audrey on Goodreads

A.J. Alexander

Dear Fairy Godmother- My wish for this Christmas, 2019, is that I would like to meet my future partner. I’d like to meet the man of my life, who has everything I’m looking for and really, one last time in my life, fall in love – head over heels. I’m talking about that kind of falling in love, that we never think is still possible at our age. The kind of love that is electrifying with every touch and every single kiss – that kind of love that makes my life richer and complete. Thank you.

Fairy Godmother here: Over my long life I have been a bit of a matchmaker, and I know that finding the right man can be a rocky road. I will do my best Aurora Jean and I wish you romance and love in 2020… In the meantime a song that has been danced to by millions of men and women seeking that perfect connection, from one of the most romantic films – Roman Holiday and don’t believe the ending of the film…they lived happily ever after. Courtesy of Muse of Music Olga Vels

A.J. Alexander, Buy: Amazon US – Website: Aurora Jean Alexander

Jan Sikes

If I could be granted just one wish, it would be to take a Holiday trip to the Spirit World to spend one more day with my husband. There is so much I need to tell him and show him. He has grandchildren he’s never seen, and I’d love to show him the books I wrote telling our story. Then, I’d want to know everything about the afterlife. Just to feel his arms around me one more time would be the most amazing thing I can think of! And that would be my One Christmas Wish!

Sally here: A beautiful wish Jan and if I could wave a magic wand and bring it true, I would in a heartbeat. I do believe that those we love never truly leave us and remind us of their presence daily, in the faces of our children and grandchildren and generation after generation to come. I also sense that they are watching over us and we will meet again one day.  One of my favourite songs is from Billie Holiday – ♥

Marjorie Mallon

It’s been a tough year. We’ve had injuries, some minor but two ended up with a trip to hospital: my husband with an injured ankle whilst on his golfing holiday and my eldest daughter with a 2cm bleeding gash to her head after an accident on a night out. My youngest daughter was with her boyfriend in Birmingham when a hooded gang mugged, attacked and threatened him. He sustained injuries and ended up in hospital.

So, please Fairy Godmother grant: no hospital visits, success in all our future endeavours and compassion, love and kindness to prevail. Here’s hoping for a better 2020 for all.

Fairy Goodmother here: Well Marjorie, that has been a very tough year and I am sorry you and your family have had to go through it. I am not sure my magic is strong enough to ensure that it does not happen again, all I can do is send you positive energy and hugs and wishes for a carefree 2020. And perhaps this might help give you a boost..The Beatles courtesy of Christmas Songs

M.J.Mallon, Buy:Amazon UK Website: M.J. Mallon –  Goodreads: Goodreads

And last and of course never least…D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies

It’s easy to say that one wish for world peace could save the whole world, but if that isn’t a realistic wish, how about – I wish the whole world had freer access to health care. I think that is a reasonable wish because it is possible if all governments would put their greed aside. I always say that nothing else on a wish list could possibly be put ahead of a wish for good health – because without it, nothing else would matter. Healthcare is a human right, not something to be treated as an option.

Sally here: I am with you one hundred percent Debby as I am sure everyone reading this is too. I join you in this excellent wish and let’s hope that all our governments put politics aside in the coming year and focus on the essential well being on those who matter.

We as writers are privileged to be in a position to help facilitate change for the better. And perhaps this song reminds us that we can all make a difference starting in our small part of the world and sending out our wishes into the world.

Courtesy of Marcelo Reis Couto Fernandes

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon USBlog: D.G. Writes Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

And perhaps a thank you to all the doctors, nurses and other medical staff who will be working this Christmas and New Year and who keep our health services running in our various homelands. Here is the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir with ‘Something inside so Strong’  courtesy of NHSChoirVEVO

Thank you to my guests who shared their wishes, to the Fairy Godmother who has taken off to join Santa’s elves at their staff Christmas party and there will be shenanigans… and to you for dropping in today.

Please leave your own wishes in the comments and it would be wonderful if you could share the post far and wide. Thanks Sally.

I will leave you with Michael Buble – Courtesy of MusicFluxer

You can find out where Michael will be touring in 2020: Michael Buble – Tour Dates.

And here is a lovely poem from Anita Dawes Amazon UK and Christmas best wishes from Jaye Marie Amazon UK – You can find both of them: WordPress Blog

And now my wish. I would love to share 2020 with you all and continue to experience the friendship, generosity and love that this writing community shares with each other. And I wish you all peace, health and success for the coming year and hope you will raise a glass of your preferred tipple with me.

Happy Christmas and healthy, wealthy New Year.

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Thriller John W. Howell – #Shortstories Hugh W. Roberts – #ParanormalRomance Linda G. Hill – #Poetry Ritu Bhathal


Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

To make it easier for you to buy I will provide the US and UK Amazon Author Pages and Goodreads Page for the author where you will find the featured book and also the others by the author.

The first author is John W. Howell with a stand alone novel – Circumstances of Childhood.. I have read all of John’s book and enjoy his style of writing and this this novel was not exception. They would make great gifts to friends and family.

About Circumstances of Childhood.

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

A recent review for the book.

I truly enjoyed this novel and I hope John W. Howell keeps writing for a very long time. One thing that really impresses me is the care he takes in his writing…his dialogue skills and the way he creates believable but awesome characters (in this case – Greg and Keith Petros). This book hit all the marks for what I love a great story: fast-paced, surprising twists, characters I could root for, characters to hate/despise/feel pity/willing to save, and of course an ending that had me snapping my Kindle shut and thinking – noooo way, I’d like to read more..! If you want a good book that keeps you glued to the page, read this one or better all of the books by this author!

Three last words: exceptional, suspenseful and smart! Go, grab it!

Also by John W. Howell.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US author page

and on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow John: John Howell Goodreads

Connect to John: John W. Howell

The next author enjoying a recent review is Hugh W. Roberts for his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses I have read and can recommend as a great gift for someone who enjoys reading some edgy short stories.. expect the unexpected.

About More Glimpses

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden? Or know the real truth about what lurks inside every mobile phone? Would you steal items from a blind person, or send your neighbours on a time travelling adventure fraught with danger and menace to save the human race from a bug? How about staying in a sleepy village where many murders have taken place or coming to the aid of royalty while out shopping?

‘More Glimpses’ gives the reader an opportunity to take a peek into the lives of normal, everyday people whose lives are all on a path full of twists, turns and unexpected endings. However, it’s not only about the humans; nothing escapes the extraordinary journeys Hugh has planned for you. If you are a lover of shows such as ‘Black Mirror’ or ‘The Twilight Zone’ then you’re in for another exciting trip in this second collection from Hugh. Come and meet the characters who had no idea their lives were about to be turned upside-down. Enjoy the ride!

One of the recent reviews for the collection

After reading Glimpses, Hugh Roberts’ first anthology of short stories, I was enthused to see his second book out for sale. More Glimpses fulfils its title by giving the reader a snapshot view into the lives of the characters colouring the pages, sharing moments of conflict, grandeur and horror before the shutter closes and the next story begins. Some dwell in the macabre; others are downright delightful in their telling. Hugh weaves his storytelling web over these bite-size stories, bringing to life the colourful characters, warts and all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was lucky enough to receive my copy from the author himself. I look forward to his next anthology as I’m sure it will be just as thrilling as Glimpses and More Glimpses.

Also by Hugh W. Roberts

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Hugh :Hugh Roberts Goodreads

Hugh W. Roberts

Connect to Hugh via his blog: Hugh’s Views and News

A now something for those who enjoy some romance/paranormal in their reading. Linda G. Hill with the most recent review for her book The Magician’s Curse: A Paranormal Romance – The Great Dagmaru Book 1.

About the book

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?

Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Robbie Cheadle 4.0 out of 5 starsAn intriguing read May 13, 2019

Herman has a most unusual name which has been a burden to her all her school life. Why on earth would her parents saddle her with a boy’s name? As this interesting book, filled with magic and mystery progresses, Herman finds out that it is not only her name that is unusual about her, or her parents choice that is unusual about them.

Herman’s mother has been very ill for a long time and her father is never there to offer any support to his family. Herman assumed the role of mother to her younger brother, Chad, when she was very young and now she is breaking free to establish a life for herself. She plans to bring her brother to live with her once she is settled and earning an income. On the train to her new job, Herman meets a riveting young man who introduces himself as Stephen. Much to Herman’s surprise, Stephen professes to be as taken with her as she is with him, so when he asks her to work for him as his assistant she doesn’t put up much of a fight. Fortunately for Herman, Stephen, who is a magician, is genuine in his offer for her to become his assistant and she quickly discovers that there is more to his magic than meets the eye. In fact, Herman soon comes to realise that the household staff and Stephen’s entire lifestyle is fairly unorthodox.

The attraction between Herman and Stephen is incredibly strong but Herman can sense there is something not quite right with their relationship and this causes her to hold back from committing herself completely to him. What is Stephen’s secret and will Herman be able to accept it when she eventually discovers what it is? I did like the fact that the character of Stephen illustrated respect for Herman and gave her the opportunity to make her own choice about his unusual situation.

This book is for adults and, although not graphic, it does contain descriptions of sex and suggestions of sexual freedoms. The romantic aspect of this book is the overriding genre with the supernatural element playing a lessor role.

Also by Linda G. Hill

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Linda on: Goodreads

Connect to Linda via her website: Linda G. Hill

And the final book today is the poetry collection from Ritu Bhathal which has received wonderful review and would make a lovely gift for poetry lovers- Poetry Rituals

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 recent reviews for the collection

 Read all the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

and other reviews: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

Connect to Ritu:But I smile anyway

Thank you for dropping in today and there will be more Christmas Book recommendations over the weekend. Sally

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Wednesday October 23rd – John W. Howell #WhiteHouse -Lisa Thomson #Divorce – Jan Sikes #Nashville


This series is an opportunity to showcase posts from around our community and the brilliant bloggers who share with us. It would be amazing if you would follow the links to the post I have highlighted and whilst visiting follow and support the blogger.

I missed some great posts last week and so I am doing some catch up today… and starting from this entertaining piece which is part of Top Ten Things Not to Do from John Howell.. and this week the most famous house in the USA…

Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Laying of the White House Cornerstone in 1792

White House

Yes, this week marks the anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the White House by George Washington in 1792. I’m sure you want to be there, but before you go, take this list and maybe avoid making social or time travel mistakes.

Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Laying of the Cornerstone of the White House in 1792

10 If you go to the cornerstone laying, do not think the silver trowel is a souvenir. If you do, at best, a kindly George Washington will ask you to put it back. At worst, the Navy men in attendance who are also celebrating the founding of the Navy will help you put it back. (It seems as if those Navy boys have had a little too much rum, Jakome. They are serious about your yardarm swing.)

9 If you go to the cornerstone laying, do not sit in Tiny the WWF champ’s seat. If you do, at best, he will find another. At worst, Tiny, who missed his Anger Management support group that morning, will not be able to control himself. (If you can hold on for another minute, Jalen, Tiny will grow tired of spinning you around above his head. Of course, your landing after that helicopter experience might be a little rough.)

Head over and check out what else you shouldn’t do: https://johnwhowell.com/2019/10/14/top-ten-things-not-to-do-at-the-laying-of-the-white-house-cornerstone-in-1792/

John Howell, Buy: http://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6CGoodread: John Howell Goodreads Blog: https://johnwhowell.com/

The next post is from Lisa Thomson who shares the ins and outs of marriage..i.e. divorce on her blog. This is my second marriage, the first lasted 7 years in total (I must have broken a mirror) but this time around 39 years. Many of my friends are also enjoying their second permanent relationships, but Lisa explores the option of getting married for the third time!

Third Marriages, Yeah or Nay?

A second marriage is a gimme while a third marriage is akin to a Mulligan.

You’ll notice I didn’t ask about a second marriage because that’s practically a Gimme. It’s expected, even. It’s considered a sign of moving on. A third marriage? That’s more like a Mulligan (you will use it judicially and with caution). Why the golf analogy, you may be wondering. I don’t even know, it just popped into my head. Maybe because my ex was an avid golfer.

But back to third marriages, some say “third time lucky” but I’m more skeptical. If you’ve shanked your first two attempts at this institution, should you really keep trying and furthermore continue to drag a second person into your sub-par game of marital woes?
Third Marriages, Yeah or Nay?

What are your thoughts on this over optimistic choice to marry a third time when the first two ended in divorce? Head over and let Lisa know: https://www.lisathomsonlive.com/third-marriages-yeah-or-nay/

Lisa Thomson buy: https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Thomson/e/B007HNG4CQ/ Blog: https://www.lisathomsonlive.com/Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6692957.Lisa_Thomson

The third post is from award winning author Jan Sikes who shares an article that she wrote for the Buddy Magazine.. and I am sure you will enjoy Taking Texas to Tennessee. As a long time Country music fan, I had no idea about the rift within the industry and was fascinated to find out the background. And delighted to see that the rift has been healed..

Since not everyone gets to see the Buddy Magazine publication I decided to post a recent article I wrote after my trip to Nashville. So far, it’s getting some good attention and feedback!

A Tale of Two Music Cities Divided

On the heels of the Ken Burns sensational documentary about the evolution of country music on PBS, the one undisputable fact is that country music has been and is a large part of American history.

At one time during that history, Nashville was the only place to go if an artist wanted to break into the business. However, over the years, that changed and Texas played a large part in that change.

It is no secret that there has been a complicated rift between Nashville and Texas music artists ever since Waylon bucked the establishment, insisting on making music his own way and Willie took his music home to Texas.

I compare it to the famous stand-off between the Hatfields and McCoys. Shots were fired, and many folks threatened, but now the dust has cleared, and hands shaken. Judging by the recent spate of Texas Musicians who’ve made the trek to the famous city to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, I’d say there is at the least, a truce.

Could it be that the Nashville heads are watching the flourishing Texas music industry with some envy? Or perhaps they are only seeing dollar signs.

Head over to enjoy this post in full: https://rijanjks.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/taking-texas-to-tennessee-buddy-magazine/

Jan Sikes, Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK
Website: https://www.jansikes.com/Goodreads: Jan on Goodreads

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over and enjoy the posts in full.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – John W. Howell, Jane Risdon and Christina Jones and Sue Coletta


Welcome to the first of the author updates this week with recent reviews for books on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first recent review is for the paranormal thriller The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano.

About The Contract

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires. A Great summer read.

One of the recent reviews for the book

The Contract is a perfect example of everything I love about Indie books. Mainstream publishers tend to ignore books that are unique, challenging, and cross-genre. Indie authors now have a way to write their passions and be courageous enough to not follow “mainstream’ rules – they publish independently! That said, The Contract is everything you love in a bestseller: suspense, mystery, romance, intriguing concepts. I love the blend of spiritualism/military ops/romance. A winning combination! I found the dialogue a bit stilted at times, which is the only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5. Bravo to Howell and Plano!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Contract-between-heaven-earth/dp/0996911588/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Contract-between-heaven-earth-ebook/dp/B07CZQ8WKH/

You can connect to John on his website: https://johnwhowell.com/

Books by John Howell

 Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

You can find out more about Gwen on her website: http://www.gwenplano.com/

Also by Gwen Plano

Read some of the reviews for the book: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

Read more reviews and follow Gwen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7341478.Gwendolyn_M_Plano

And another successful collaboration and a recent review for Jane Risdon and Christina Jones for their novel Only One Woman.

About the Book -Two women, one love story.

June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But after a romantic summer together they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.

December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.

As the final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Colm Herron 5.0 out of 5 stars Two stunning authors 5 February 2019

The Sixties are still a bit of a blur for me. That means I was there. And I have a lot of broken hearts to prove it – all mine. I was shot down so many times in those ten or so years that it’s a wonder I’m still here. All of which means I know something of the problems and the heartache that Only One Woman’s main protagonists Renza and Stella went through. But it wasn’t Scott I was after. Definitely not, believe me. It was Patricia and Hazel and Marie and Ann and Sybil and Melanie and …. I can’t go on.

The two girls in Only One Woman tell of their crush on Scott in a way that can only mean that the authors of this wonderfully nostalgic and loving look at the Sixties were rapt witnesses to those amazing years. The people, the songs, the music, the styles – and most of all the attitudes. In one sense it didn’t matter too much to me which of these two girls ended up with Scott because far more important than that was the way that these two authors got right into the hearts of the lovestruck Renza and Stella.

Ah, the authors. First, Christina Jones. Apart from a scintillating career in writing which began when she was a mere child, she has done so many odd-jobs – as well as odd jobs – that her life experience cannot be doubted. (Possibly the only work she didn’t do was captaining a North Sea oil rig, although I’m open to correction on that). And her co-author in this labour of love they have written is the incomparable Jane Risdon. Jane has been closely involved in so many fascinating experiences that she needs a separate wardrobe for all the T-shirts she has to vouch for it. Rock, Thrash Metal, Pop, R&B, Chinese Opera as well as movies, television and radio worldwide. And now writing, which amazingly she only got into five years ago. Stunning. Both stunning people.

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Only-One-Woman-Christina-Jones-ebook/dp/B075D88JBP

Read more reviews and follow Jane on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5831801.Jane_Risdon

Connect to Jane Risdon via her blog:  https://janerisdon.wordpress.com/

A small selection of books by Christina Jones.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christina-Jones/e/B001K8U57Y/

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Jones/e/B001K8U57Y/

Connect to Christina via her blog: https://christinajones-writing.blogspot.ie/

The final author today with a recent review is Sue Coletta for her Mayhem Series crossover novella Hacked

About the book

Shawnee Daniels wrongly assumes she’s being punished for innocently hacking the Police Chief’s photos. Okay, maybe not-so-innocently, but someone had to expose him for the dog that he is. When she arrives at the mandatory computer seminar, the FBI enlists her help in stopping a serial killer who’s remotely hacking vehicles while the owners are behind the wheel.

Why he’s targeted these people remains a mystery. None of the victims frequent the same places, some don’t even live in the same state. The only commonality is they all drive Fords.

When Detective Levaughn Samuels is taken hostage—his life teetering on the edge of a high-speed chase—there’s nothing Shawnee won’t do to save him, no line she won’t cross. And when her BFF shows up unannounced with problems of her own, she only complicates matters.

Can Shawnee stop the killer before she loses the only man she’s ever loved? Or will the ride of his life end in death?

A recent review for review for Hacked (translated from the Spanish on Goodreads)

Jan 15, 2019 Angie rated it Four Stars

What I liked most about this book is that the protagonist, Shawnee, she is not the typical damsel in danger who expects a man to come and save her. On the contrary, she takes the case on her own shoulders and solves it practically alone.

Another character that I liked a lot was Nadine, I found her very funny. And she added that element of fun that lightened all the tension.

The story is short and it reads quite fast, it catches you from the beginning and when you think that nothing else can happen you are surprised because something happens. The end I did not expect and I loved it.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F6YB2W9

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hacked-Special-Forces-Operation-Alpha-ebook/dp/B07F6YB2W

A selection of other books by Sue Coletta

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

Read more reviews and follow Sue on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14078869.Sue_Coletta

Connect to Sue via her website/blog: www.suecoletta.com

I am joining a growing number of our blogging friends on MeWe and I invite you take a look… a different approach to users. Click on the image to find Debby Gies, Colleen Chesebro and myself.

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with a book or two.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Celebrations – The First Day of Christmas with guests Mary Smith, Jacquie Biggar and John W. Howell


Welcome to the first of the Twelve Days of Christmas party where guests will share their best ever Christmas presents ever…and there will be food, drink and of course music and to get you into the spirit of the season.. here are some choristers with particular appeal..

I tried to remember the first Christmas that I was aware of as a child. I must have got the general idea of the concept of presents quite young as at age seven when we moved to Malta I began the practice of putting a pillowcase on the end of my bed from around mid-October…. I think this ticked my mother off somewhat because she sat me down at the beginning of December and told me that Father Christmas did not exist and that from now on I would have my presents around the tree like my two sisters who were in their late teens….. My brother would only have been three years old at the time and so was not really interested one way or another.

It must have made quite an impression on me as I then related this story to my husband before our first Christmas when we were talking about how we would spend our first together. Since we had only known each other for six weeks when we married in mid-November it was not surprising that there were a few things that we had not had time to discuss, especially something as trivial as Father Christmas! However, imagine my delight when I woke early on Christmas morning to find a heavy weight across my legs (oy… Nothing like that this is a family show) I switched the light on to find a pillowcase packed to the rafters with carefully wrapped presents… Nothing too grand as we were pretty broke but I remember bursting into tears at the time at this act of love and kindness…

Every year since then for the last 38 Christmas mornings we have woken early and sneaked a stocking full of nonsense on to each other’s side of the bed and when we had Sam still, he had one too. There is a frenzy of unwrapping or ripping in the case of Sam, and much laughter and illicit consumption of chocolate oranges and cashew nuts. In the case of Sam it was the sniffing out to the bottom of the snack to find his customary pig’s ear… I always put a tatty duvet cover on for this occasion and it was necessary.

As to my favourite Christmas present of all time……that would probably be the year that my parents came up to London to stay with us and have Christmas dinner. My father loved big band music and at the time was still listening to a 1960s record player. We gave him a fairly flat package, and he unwrapped it to find four CDs of Glen Miller Big Band Music.. He tried so hard to look excited, but then looked at me and said ‘I don’t have anything to play these on’. David then handed over another large package to my mystified father, who tore of the wrapping to find a box containing a combined radio and CD player with detachable speakers. The look on his face is still very clear in my mind today. Priceless.

Just in case my father is listening in from somewhere over the rainbow.. here is Glenn Miller with In The Christmas Mood…..

Actually the 12 days do not begin today but from Christmas Day until the evening of the 5th January. These days are associated with religious calendars and rather than the fun approach in the song we sing, many are in tribute to someone who met a tragic end. The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the Middle Ages and were a time of celebration of various events around the birth of Jesus or to celebrate the life of a saint or martyr. Each day had its own significance.

Day 1 (25th December): Christmas Day celebrating the birth of Jesus and the setting of the nativity.

Now time to meet our first guest who is someone who has accompanied during the last five years of blogging and whose books I have enjoyed. Author Mary Smith lives in Scotland but has her experiences of working in Afghanistan and Pakistan to draw upon when writing her novels and short stories. Mary has also written in collaboration a series of books on her home in Scotland.

This is Mary’s very best Christmas present ever….

As soon as I read your  post I remembered my best ever Christmas present – roller skates. It was a completely surprise gift from Santa (my four-years-younger sister was still a believer), something I hadn’t asked for. It took me a while to master them because I kept trying to walk rather than roll but once I got the knack I was off, skating up and down the pavements. Those skates gave me such freedom. In the summer the grounds of the High School became my giant skating playground. I didn’t mind if I was alone but often other kids joined me. A steep, ridged concrete path ran from the playground to the tennis courts, which was great for testing our nerves. We tied a rope onto a bike and took turns being pulled down the slope, faster and faster – the ridges on the concrete made my teeth rattle. I can still feel the exhilaration and sheer joy my skating days gave me. Very tempted now to put skates on my Christmas wish list!

My Christmas gift to Mary courtesy of the most entertaining virtual giftstore ‘Youtube’

It took some doing Mary but my Christmas gift to you, is annual membership of this international group of skaters…Moxi Girls… who are preparing a wardrobe for your debut performance…they were thinking Mary, Queen of Scots as your moniker……

Books by Mary Smith: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0
Website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/

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A recent review for No More Mulberries

Thru the eyes of a converted Scottish midwife and her 2 husbands. Miriam is an highly trained midwife who meets an handsome Afghani engineering student in Edinburgh University. They fall madly in love, she converts to the Muslim faith for him and they marry and have a child. Not too long after their son is born, tragedy strikes and she is widowed. She marries again and the story, “No More Mulberries”, is the intricate unwinding of these lives in the midst of a war torn country.

The writing is rich with descriptions and emotion. The characters are well fleshed out, complex and burdened. This is not a one sided political treatise but rather an inside look from the vantage point of a common village family and some slightly higher up; but only slightly. Life in early 1990’s for the Afghani people was akin to 1890’s America, extraordinarily so for the women.

Altho’ M. Smith portrays the realities in her book, this story is not without a feeling of love and hope. These are resilient people in tragic circumstances trying to maintain families and some semblance of normalcy. There are moments of humor to relieve the tension so deftly written about.

There is nothing offensive in this book. All the language, violence and sexual content are easily within a PG rating with nothing being gratuitous or overly descriptive. You will get the picture without being given a high-def, 4K, knockout punch. This book will effect you, I know it did me. The invasion of Afghanistan was almost 25 years ago and the battle still rages. “No More Mulberries” will give you a chance to see what it might be like on the inside, from the inside.

We assume that carols are of religious origin but in fact they are pagan songs that were sung to celebrate the four seasons. For thousands of years at the Winter Solstice for example people would dance around large stone circles and the word carol actually means to dance in praise and joy. Over time the practice of singing carols became synonymous with Christmas and was adopted by Christianity as a way of celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Over the years it has become a tradition for musicians to bring out their own compositions in honour of the season and over the coming days I will be sharing the carols and music that are sung all over the world by those who celebrate this particular festival.

And to start us off, where is a wonderful choir called Proclaim with Mary Did You Know……

My next guest is USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar who writes across the fantasy and romance genres. Here is what she shared about her best Christmas gift ever.

Jacquie’s best Christmas gift ever.

My favorite Christmas gift arrived six years ago, not long after I moved to the island. Hubby was working in Alberta and only came home every three weeks, and my daughter and grandson had started school—I was lonely.

Knowing my love of animals, hubby brought me a Christmas surprise, a tiny calico kitten! I fell immediately in love with her furry body and sea-green eyes. And best of all, I wasn’t alone anymore. I’m attaching a pic of her above. Her name is Harley

My Christmas Gift for Jacquie is a hamper of all the top cat lover’s gifts… I hope you and Harley have a blast…….

Discover all of Jacquie’s books, read the reviews and buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG
Website: http://jacqbiggar.com

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Here is one of the recent reviews Mistletoe Inn

I love Christmas books and the perfect holiday book has to be full of heart and romance, healing, redemption, warm and cozy Christmas themes and maybe a hint of the magic of the season. Throw in a small child and a dog and you have me. Mistletoe Inn has all that and more. Noah is on his way to becoming a grumpy recluse. He bears the scars, inside and outside from the fire that killed both his parents when he was a small child. His aunt, who raised him and he loved, recently died too. I think that she was a wise woman because just before she died she sold part interest in her B&B called Mistletoe Inn to a young divorcee with a small child wanting to make a new start. Like it or not, Molly starts to thaw the ice that encases Noah’s heart. And, in a place like Christmas, Michigan, covered in snow and Christmas joy,and surrounded by young families and couples coming to the Inn for a romantic holiday who can resist romance? The novella has some depth and lots of heart too with themes of grieving and starting over. You will quickly feel like Christmas when you read this!

Traditionally mince pies were a bit of luxury and also a status symbol for those living in 17th century and very wealthy folk would show off at their Christmas gatherings by having their pies in all kinds of shapes and sizes and were more a reflection of their ability to employ a high end pastry cook more than anything.  In the early days they would have contained minced meat of lamb, beef, chicken etc rather than those we eat today made with dried fruit and spices.

Traditionally it is said that if you have one a day from Christmas Day through to Twelfth night you will enjoy much happiness for the next 12 months… If ever there was an excuse to eat something sweet and fattening then this is the best yet….

They are really straightforward to make and our own Foodie… Carol Taylor shares her recipe in her post including how to make your own sweet mincemeat: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-and-cookery-columncarol-taylor-cooks-sweet-mincemeat/

And my third guest today is thriller and paranormal mystery author John W. Howell who lives on the Texas coast, has three dogs who have him right where they want him.. Lucy, Bailey and Twiggy..for example when it came to the Christmas Decorations

John was very quick to share his most favourite Christmas gift every and you can tell it made quite the impression on him…

John’s most favourite gift ever

When I was about six years old, I wanted an electric train. I told my parents that a train was all I wanted. They said a train was not in the cards that year.

I went to bed accepting the fact that a train was not going to be under the tree. My older sister had told me there was no Santa Claus, so I had not sent a letter to the North Pole with my request. If there was a Santa, which I believed before my sister filled me in, I could make a wish even at this late date. So before finally falling asleep, I asked Santa to please leave a train.

The next morning the living room was a magic land filled with presents. The tree sparkled with colored bulbs, and I could see a Lionel engine with ten cars sitting on tracks that went all the way around the tree. I could not believe my eyes. As a consequence, I still believe in Santa Claus.

My Christmas gift to John is a re-creation of that magical Christmas morning… kindly provided by Karla Hemingway

 Read all the reviews and buy John Howell’s books: http://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C
Blog: https://johnwhowell.com/

A recent reviews for Circumstances of Childhood Aug 24, 2018 Karen rated it it was amazing

This book provides you with a first look at Greg, whereas Keith introduces you to the story.

With Circumstances of Childhood, John W. Howell has created a unique story of friendship, loss, and much more. Greg and Keith are very likeable characters; as the story proceeded, I became their invisible friend. The story comprises a variety of craftily elaborated characters with depth and interesting interactions until the last page. I had a great time reading Circumstances of Childhood – it is a very intriguing and intense read; it turned me into an invisible ally and/or friend of the believable protagonists. I was drawn into the story right away, eager to learn more. Some of the events may start a new train of thoughts, maybe even shine a new light on something familiar.

This is for you if you like thrillers with excellent twists, interesting and complex characters, a touch of the paranormal, and – food for thought. A compelling and remarkable read by a master of story-telling.

And something for you to drink before you head off into the cold. – The Eggnog

There is some debate about the origins of Eggnog but it probably goes back to what was called Posset in medieval Europe -it was a sweetened dairy based drink made with milk, cream, sugar and eggs which would have been beaten together to form a frothy drink with some cinnamon or nutmeg sprinkled on top. Over time of course some bright sparks began to add some alcohol to the mix depending on where they lived at the time… Today in various parts of the world you will find a version of Eggnog served with rum, brandy or whisky. It is very warming and sweet and if also combined with rum I understand it has an impact on short term memory…..

What is quite delicious is to make the concoction into an ice cream and that goes beautifully with mince pies or Christmas pudding.

There are a number of great recipes online and I can suggest that you check this one out: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/homemade-eggnog/

Thank you for joining us today…The Second Day of Christmas… tomorrow….with guests, Darlene Foster and Miriam Hurdle

What was your most memorable Christmas gift? it would be amazing if you would share.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – #Book Review – The Contract by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano


smorgasbord book reviews

I have recently read The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano and here is my review.

About The Contract

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires. A Great summer read.

My review for the book

The Contract is a fusion of fantasy, thriller and romance and is the debut novel of the new collaboration between John. W. Howell and Gwen Plano.

I have read all of John Howell’s books and enjoyed, so I was eager to find out how these two popular writers would rise to the challenge of collaborating.

The concept is intriguing, and the opening chapter sets out this well, with the introduction to two souls, who had little time on earth to enjoy their love of each other. They are tasked by the divine council with preventing a major catastrophe on earth that could threaten mankind, but it will mean that they will be separated and have no memory of their task. Their hosts are two people with the knowledge and skill set to overcome the threat, but they are thousands of miles apart and both in mortal danger.

The writers do a good job of bringing these two characters together; now infused with the souls who have been contracted to neutralise the upcoming disaster. Watched and abetted  by guardian angels, their relationship begins with subterfuge, but quickly becomes attraction, and then love strong enough to take them through to the end of their endeavour.

This love story runs parallel to the fast escalation of violence and intrigue that reveals hidden agendas and treason in high places. The story has a good pace and there is plenty of action to keep the thriller lovers engaged with a number of surprising twists and turns in the plot along the way.

The final confrontation is a fitting climax to the story, bringing together all the players and their roles in the conspiracy, in an action packed battle of good against evil.

I am sure that this writing duo will go from strength to strength following this creative and exciting debut.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Contract-between-heaven-earth/dp/0996911588/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Contract-between-heaven-earth-ebook/dp/B07CZQ8WKH/

About the authors – John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon.

The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

You can find out more about John on his website: https://johnwhowell.com/

Books by John Howell


 Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

About Gwen Plano

Gwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. Recently retired, she now lives in the Midwest with her husband and enjoys writing and travel.

Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her second book, The Contract between heaven and earth, is a thriller fiction novel, co-authored by John W. Howell. It is available now for pre-order. Author Jan Sikes read the manuscript and wrote that “The Contract is the perfect blending between the physical and unseen world with unbreakable bonds between human and spirit.”

You can find out more about Gwen on her website: http://www.gwenplano.com/

Also by Gwen Plano

Read some of the reviews for the book: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

Read more reviews and follow Gwen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7341478.Gwendolyn_M_Plano

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will read The Contract and enjoy.. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – #Children’s Books, #Thrillers #Fantasy – Charles E. Yallowitz, John W. Howell, Jemima Pett, M. J. Mallon and Diana J. Febry


Welcome to the third of the Summer Sale posts with discounted books by authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore. There is one more sale posts scheduled for the 20th of July.

Some of the books from Monday 9th may still be on sale so worth checking: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-summer-sale-brigid-p-gallagher-hugh-w-roberts-jacquie-biggar-and-victoria-zigler/

And from Friday 13th (lucky for some): https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-summer-sale-99p-99c-children-ya-poetry-african-adventure-lucinda-e-clarke-darlene-foster-natalie-ducey-and-annette-rochelle-aben/

All the spaces have now been filled but if you have any of your books that are FREE in July there is still some room on those posts.

Wednesday July 18th and Saturday July 21st – Spaces filling up quickly

Just let me have the link to the book on Amazon or Smashwords and the dates the book is free … I will have all your other details on file.. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

The first author today with a discounted offer on his latest book is Charles Yallowitz – Quest of the Brokenhearted is on offer at 99c/99p throughout July.

About the Quest of the Brokenhearted

(From the pages of ‘Legends of Windemere’)

As Windemere moves forward, a broken spirit falls into the shadows.

Two years have passed since Luke Callindor was lost during the champions’ battle against Baron Kernaghan. Many mourn the loss, but none have been hurt more than the fiancée he left behind, Kira Grasdon. Plagued by grief and determined to prove he is alive, she has sacrificed her business, her reputation, and her hope. Surviving on the streets of Gaia, she has become an emotional husk of her former self. It is only by chance that Kira crosses paths with an old friend and learns of a path, which will either end her suffering or revive her shattered soul. As the rumors state, hundreds of adventurers have flocked to Lacarsis and none have returned.

Will Kira meet her death in the City of Evil or will she thrive among the monsters?

Head over and buy the book for 99c: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F5V3CT5/

And on Amazon UK at 99p : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quest-Brokenhearted-Charles-Yallowitz-ebook/dp/B07F5V3CT5

A selection of the most recent books by Charles Yallowitz

 

One of the recent reviews for War of Nytefall

Nytefall is an interesting book. It’s set in the previously designed world of Windemere, but uses a different cast, and one that isn’t completely likeable. Clyde and his band are vampires. There is a certain amount of human destruction that’s given no more importance than a different character eating a jelly doughnut.

I understand why the author did this. I suppose a vampire would look at humans as nothing more than food, but among real humans some people feel remorse for farm animals.

After the Great Cataclysm, Clyde is changed into something new. He is much more powerful than others of his kind. He is stripped of any magic he had, but is given new powers that don’t rely upon incantations and such. It reminded me a bit of some games where a character earns a skin that gives them an edge. Only Clyde’s edge is much bigger than that.

He reunites his old group and tries to go on with his old life. I’ll stop here to avoid spoiling the story. Nytefall explores prejudice from a new angle, that of jealousy and fear over the rise of the Dawn Fangs. This is for you if you enjoy extensive fantasy worlds, don’t mind a bit of casual murder, and can cheer for the underdog even if he isn’t a hero.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Charles-E-Yallowitz/e/B00AX1MSQA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charles-E-Yallowitz/e/B00AX1MSQA

Read more reviews and follow Charles on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6965804.Charles_E_Yallowitz

Connect to Charles via his website: http://www.legendsofwindemere.com/

The next author with a reduced offer for you is John W. Howell with the first of the John Cannon Trilogy – My GRL. It is on offer at 99c/99p just today until 11 PDT which is 7.00am tomorrow UK time.  Get it while you can..

About My GRL

John J. Cannon, a successful San Francisco lawyer, takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. John is unaware his boat has been targeted by a terrorist group to be used to destroy a symbol of America’s greatness. John’s first inkling of trouble is when he wakes up in the hospital and learns he was found unconscious next to the body of the young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now is the only one standing between the terrorists and the success of their mission. An excellent summer read

One of the many excellent reviews for the book

Full-Throttle Action on March 7, 2017

I often find work written in first person/present tense to be jarring. Overuse of “I” and “me” coupled with an awkward reveal of the POV character’s name and appearance usually work against an author’s intent and keep me from engaging in the story.

That’s not the case with John Howell’s MY GRL.

Mr. Howell penned a story that, while written in first person/present tense, actually sucked me into the story. I thought what main character John Cannon thought, I felt what he felt. Howell is to be commended for his ability to immerse the reader into his story world through his protagonist.

This thriller captured me not only for the reason listed above, but also because the author crafted a realistic hero. John Cannon isn’t the thirty-year-old alpha male, Navy Seal, superhero. He’s a regular guy, with realistic fears and logical fallacies. He’s so likable because he could be your uncle, your neighbor, your coworker. We all know John Cannons, and we all love them.

While I found this novel to be character-driven, there’s no shortage of action in the plot. This was a quick read because both the character was relatable and the pace was full-throttle.

This is book one of three in the series. I’ll be looking for the next installment and highly recommend this one.

Read some of the reviews and buy the book for 99c : https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06VY4V2FC/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-GRL-John-W-Howell-ebook/dp/B06VY4V2FC/

Also by John W.Howell

Read the reviews and buy all of the John Cannon Series : https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Connect to John via his website: http://www.johnhowell.com

Children’s author Jemima Pett has a three book box set for the Princelings of the East books on offer in July on Smashwords which is excellent value at $3.50 which is half-price until the end of the month.

About the series

A time tunnel, a pirate king, a lost city. In three separate adventures, Princelings Fred and George aim to solve trifling problems, but uncover dangerous and sometimes desperate foes, each with his or her own agenda, threatening the peace of the Realms. This first box set from the series comprises the Princelings of the East, the Princelings and the Pirates, and the Princelings and the Lost City.

A time tunnel, a pirate king, a lost city. In three separate adventures, Princelings Fred and George set out to solve trifling problems, and uncover dangerous and sometimes desperate foes, each with his or her own agenda, threatening the peace of the Realms.

The Princelings of the East: the saga starts with Fred and George leaving their cosy Castle in the Marsh. They encounter the mysterious cola vendor Hugo, the playboy Prince Lupin, and the over-worked innkeeper Victor, and have to use their own wits to decide who to trust, and how to prevent their ordered society descending into chaos.

The Princelings and the Pirates sees our heroes setting out to discover what has gone wrong at Castle Dimerie – a simple errand that ends in kidnap, shipwreck, and a battle in which no quarter is given.

The Princelings and the Lost City introduces George to the delights of flying, and Fred to the tortures of true love. Their inventions and experiments take a back seat as the puzzle of the Lost City and its all-female society lead to questions that may be too difficult to solve.

Buy the three book set at Smashwords for half- price : https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/678311

Jemima also has some of her books FREE on Smashwords in July and you can find out more in Saturdays Sale Post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-summer-sale-free-books-adventure-childrens-memoir-mary-smith-annabelle-franklin-jemima-pett-and-chuck-jackson/

A small selection of  books by Jemima Pett

 Read all the reviews for all the books and buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jemima-Pett/e/B006F68PVE/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jemima-Pett/e/B006F68PVE

Read more reviews and follow Jemima on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5388872.Jemima_Pett

Connect to Jemima via her blog:  http://jemimapett.com/blog/

The next author with a reduced price is M.J. Mallon for her book The Curse of Time: Book One – Bloodstone is a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure. The book is on sale at £1.99 grab while you can.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the reviews for the book

This reviews is adapted from a post which originally appeared on my blog, This Northern Gal. I was sent a copy of the text in exchange for an honest review.

The Curse of Time is all about Amelina, a teenage girl who receives a mysterious invitation. Her already crazy life takes a turn for the weird and unusual. She becomes fixated with the idea that there is a curse on her family and that she has to find a way to break it. Along the way she finds herself in a world that revels in the strange and mysterious. This world building was where M.J Mallon excelled. It allowed her to be wonderfully creative, which in turn meant that I was sucked into the world of The Curse of Time. I particularly enjoyed the way the writer seemed to be inspired by fairy-tales, though in quite a twisted way. From strange reflections in the mirror to vanishing black cats, there was a familiarity in the characters that was really welcoming. They were all presented in new and creative ways however.

This is particularly apparent in the character of Amelina, who is creative and artistic. This meant that her art and poetry were brilliantly woven throughout The Curse of Time. It added a good extra layer to the novel itself.

I also really enjoyed the way crystals were used throughout the text to make the world that Amelina inhabited. It would be interesting to see how this is expanded and sustained in the rest of the M. J Mallon’s writing, particularly in the sequel to The Curse of Time

Read the other reviews and buy the book for the sale price of £1.99: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B074CDJPY9

And on Amazon US at the reduced price: https://www.amazon.com/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L

Follow M.J. Mallon on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

Connect to Marjorie Mallon via her website: https://mjmallon.com/

The next author with a book reduced this month is Diana J. Febry with Bells on her Toes ( A DCI Peter Hatherall novel) at 99p/99c until July 21st.

About Bells on her Toes

Horse race trainer, Ben Halloway thought the murdered car mechanic found near his gallops was a minor annoyance that didn’t concern him.

That was his first mistake.

Turning his back on those he trusted was his final mistake.

All he wanted was to train a winner.

DCI Hatherall is led a merry dance around the starting gates. As potential witnesses disappear he is in a race against time to solve the case and protect the people he cares for.

One of the reviews for the book

I’ve been reading this series recently and have found all of the books real page-turners. This one, Bells on her Toes is particularly gritty and realistic. It starts off with an apparently straight forward drug-related execution murder, but what follows for DCI Peter Hatherall and his side kick Fiona embroils them in more twists and turns than a wriggling mamba.

There are red herrings galore and by the end, when the series of subsequent murders is eventually solved, the reader feels deeply sympathetic to Hatherall and Fiona for the frustrations and time wasting leads that somehow always distract them from the real clues. As in real life, protagonists die before they can explain their role, so in the end we still don’t know the reasons for all the incidents along the way, but that is real life. I found this an exceptionally compelling and unputdownable mystery. I just hope Diana Febry will write some more DCI Hatherall books so I can learn how the poor detective solves his personal problems, a running subplot in all the books that gives him a somewhat prickly character at times. It would be good to see Fiona happy too, so keep on writing Ms Febry!

Read the reviews and buy the book for 99p until 21st July: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bells-Toes-Peter-Hatherall-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07D5F91TF/

And on Amazon US at 99c: https://www.amazon.com/Bells-Toes-Peter-Hatherall-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07D5F91TF/

The other books in the DCI Peter Hatherall series

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diana-J-Febry/e/B00J7AG9U4/

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00J7AG9U4https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diana-J-Febry/e/B00J7AG9U4/

Read many more reviews and follow Diana on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5989441.Diana_J_Febry

Connect to Diana via her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dianaj.febry.9

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the news of these reduced books on your own social media. There will be more free books on Wednesday including one of mine and more reduced books on Friday 20th. Thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the Shelves – The Contract by John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano


Delighted to feature the new collaboration of John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano with their book The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth

About The Contract

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.
Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires. A Great summer read.

One of the early reviews for the book

I was both excited and curious to read a book co-authored by two authors who have earned my admiration for each of their books. Authors John W. Howell and Gwen Plano both have resoundingly earned five-star reviews from me for their individual works.

Their total diversity of writing styles and genres would have presented them with a challenge when undertaking to co-author this work. I’m delighted with the outcome. They’ve met and exceeded my expectations.

This book goes beyond man’s earthly desires to dominate and control his environment. It takes you to the dark places fueled by man’s thirst for absolute power. It shows you the joy of the heavenly plane, and the release from pain that it offers.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien a nurse are chosen by the divine council of heavenly elders to become their representations on earth.

The reader is taken on a thrill ride as the story develops, each of the characters are beautifully crafted and intensely visual, with wonderful dialogue moving the book along at a great pace. The character development is outstanding.

The relationship between Brad and Sarah develops over a relatively brief span of time, as they are thrown together by circumstance, and make the decision to stay together by choice. Their tender and developing love for one another is deftly handled, adding the depth of warmth that the story demands.

This work has been meticulously researched, and all references within it add to the utterly convincing terrorist threat, and the dark forces at work in the corridors of power, bringing into question the motives of players that may have been seen initially to have no hidden agenda whatsoever.

Fast paced and action packed … this book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers. The conclusion was intense and utterly believable. These authors have amalgamated their individual skills into a first-rate work of fiction. This work stands tall in celebration of good people willing to lay down their lives to protect and defend their country and the principles on which it was founded.

I found this to be a riveting reading experience, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Contract-between-heaven-earth/dp/0996911588/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Contract-between-heaven-earth-ebook/dp/B07CZQ8WKH/

About the authors – John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon.

The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

You can find out more about John on his website: https://johnwhowell.com/

Books by John Howell


 Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

About Gwen Plano

Gwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. Recently retired, she now lives in the Midwest with her husband and enjoys writing and travel.

Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her second book, The Contract between heaven and earth, is a thriller fiction novel, co-authored by John W. Howell. It is available now for pre-order. Author Jan Sikes read the manuscript and wrote that “The Contract is the perfect blending between the physical and unseen world with unbreakable bonds between human and spirit.”

You can find out more about Gwen on her website: http://www.gwenplano.com/

Also by Gwen Plano

One of the recent reviews for Letting Go into Perfect Love

Author Gwen Plano’s intimate portrait of her abusive marriage causes powerful reactions of anger, sympathy, and finally joy as she breaks away and finds her happily-ever-after. Unless one has been in an abusive relationship, it’s hard to say what one will do. Ms. Plano takes us inside the workings of a woman’s mind as she considers not only herself, but also her children. While I won’t say “Letting Go …” was the kind of story to be enjoyed, I got a greater understanding from the sufferer’s perspective, and I was happy with the positive outcome of Ms. Plano’s well-written work.

That outcome is that when an abused person has gone as far as he or she can go, there’s help, both spiritually and physically. The sufferer grows stronger, thinks clearer, and discovers that the tormentor no longer has control.

Read some of the reviews for the book: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

Read more reviews and follow Gwen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7341478.Gwendolyn_M_Plano

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news of this new book by John and Gwen as far as possible. Thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Steak House


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find the previous odd jobs here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This episode was kindly hosted by John W. Howell and you can find out more about John and his books later in the post.

I began my training as an assistant manager in a steak house in Kent in 1974. For the six months, I would rotate around through the two bars and two restaurants that served a simple menu of steak, chicken, and fish. Most dishes came with either French fries (chips) and peas. For the more health conscious there was a jacket potato option, but by the time several pats of butter had been added, it was as fattening as the fries. Dessert options were ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkled nuts, or apple pie and cream. The wine menu was short and featured the German white wines so popular at the time, with much touting of the young French red wines with alleged body and clarity.

However, despite not being a Michelin starred establishment, the training was considered to be one of the best in that particular area of the hospitality industry. It was certainly intensive, and when you consider the hours we worked daily, six days a week, the six months training was actually something you would normally complete in twelve months.

The building itself had been built in 1812 and sported the red flocked wallpaper so fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s. Smoking was still in its hey day and the ceiling was a curious shade of tobacco after 150 years of nicotine exhalation. The smell that greeted you in the morning was ‘eau de tabac’ laced with beer overtones. When you had been working until after midnight, had barely six hours sleep, you found yourself declining anything but black coffee until lunchtime.

I have to say that I loved it, despite the hard work and long hours. We had some very interesting regulars, and the locals embraced the concept of the steak house with gusto. It was cheap and cheerful, and as music blared out on a Friday and Saturday night, both downstairs and upstairs bars and restaurants were packed. The waiting list for a table could be an hour or more, but beer and schooners of sherry (lethal), dulled the senses sufficiently for the wait to be quite jovial.

During the day, only the downstairs restaurant was in use and was consistently busy. This offered the assistant managers time to do the usual administrative work needed to run the steak house, such as ordering food and spirits and cleaning the bars after the night before.

In the evenings it was my job to run the upstairs restaurant, with a team of waitresses waiting on the tables, and two bar staff, who alternated between serving pre-dinner drinks and after dinner liqueur coffees with assorted spirits (this is pre-drink-driving laws!).

The waitresses were rushed off their feet as they juggled three or four large plates laden with steak, chicken, and sides. My job to help in reducing the waiting list was to clear the tables as soon as the diners had paid, and re-equip with cutlery, glasses, and napkins as rapidly as possible. I would then dash back to the bar and announce the name of the lucky party over the tannoy system, who could now stagger after me into the restaurant.

One Saturday night in the middle of a very busy service, I had to handle a potentially difficult situation that could have ended up in the papers (thank goodness there were no mobile phones in those days). As you will remember this building was old, and there were dark recesses within the walls and ceilings, that you would have been wise to avoid for what might reside there.

I was checking the state of play on progress at a number of tables where the patrons were wiping away the evidence of their chocolate sundae. I noticed a man at a table with a party of six, bend down to retrieve his napkin. Instead, he came up with something smaller and definitely furrier than the paper serviette. I suspect that as a natural reflex, he stood with his arm held straight out from his body, clearly amazed at his catch. From my vantage point at the entrance to the restaurant, I identified the rotating body of a dead mouse.

There is a split second between shocked discovery and the public announcement of the find. Although never great at school at the 100 metre dash, I now excelled myself. Dropping the waiting list on the bar, I rushed through the restaurant and snatched the unfortunate deceased rodent from its captor, continuing on to the kitchen at warp speed. I deposited the mouse in the bin and turned and raced back the other way to find the patron staring at his hand and looking around in confusion.

Lighting in the restaurants was provided by dim wall lights in order to provide a romantic and intimate feel to the experience. It also served to conceal the tobacco infused ceiling and rather dodgy carpet. It also thankfully managed to befuddle the diner, who thankfully had not only consumed four pints of beer in the bar beforehand, but also a bottle of our best Liebfraumilch. I added to the befuddlement, by handing him his fallen napkin, and asking if the party would be interested in some liqueur coffees on the house, to compensate them for their long wait before dining.

An exterminator was called the next day and traps were hidden in all the usual haunts. But there was a postscript to this story.

One of the waitresses was a bit of a madam and was always giving the chef grief. As part of the staff’s pay, supper was included before the restaurants opened in the evening. The day after the incident, this particular waitress retrieved her indicated supper from the hot plate, and on sitting down, removed the cover. She issued a piercing scream that probably cleared the rodents from the building far more effectively than the traps. I came over to find out what the problem was, to discover her staring at her plate of battered mouse, French fries, and peas.

©Sally Cronin – 2017

 Next week – The Steak House Part Two – originally hosted by Sue Vincent.

Short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

About John Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Books by John W. Howell.

One of the recent reviews for the first book in the series – My GRL.

My GRL pulled me in from abrupt murder at the start of the story and didn’t let go until the spectacular unexpected ending.

I enjoyed the writing style and humor. The plot had enough twists to keep me guessing and engaged in the story.

If you are looking for an unpredictable thriller to get lost in for a day or two, I’d recommend you giving this book a try. I’ll be picking up the other books in the series

You can read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Connect to John.

Blog: http://www.johnhowell.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HowellWave
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed finding out about the background to some of my characters.