Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Stevie Turner, M.J. Mallon, Terry Tyler and Phillip T. Stephens


Welcome to the first update of the week when I share the most recent reviews of authors in the Cafe and Bookstore. The first author with a review to celebrate is Stevie Turner for her book For the Sake of a Child.

About the Book

Ginny Ford is pleased to win the coveted job of housekeeper to the directors of PhizzFace Inc. However, her joy becomes tarnished by an accidental find whilst cleaning, leading her to suspect that all is not as it should be on the managerial corridor. Delving deeper, she is shocked to uncover corruption and a secret paedophile network that has remained hidden for years, involving the very people she has come to know and trust. Unable to live with her conscience any more, she decides that she cannot keep quiet and that she must find a way of helping all the children involved. However, by trying to help the children she discovers that she has unwittingly put her entire family at risk…..

A recent review for the book

An intricate and chilling plot with all too real connotations mixed with emotion and true feeling; personal and life changing risks taken for the greater good. A hard to put down book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sake-Child-Stevie-Turner-ebook/dp/B00NK0MGTA

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sake-Child-Stevie-Turner-ebook/dp/B00NK0MGTA

A selection of other books by Stevie Turner

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU

Follow Stevie Turner on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172051.Stevie_Turner

Connect to Stevie via her website: http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk/

Now a recent review for M.J. Mallon for her book The Curse of Time: Book One – Bloodstone is a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.

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.

The most recent review 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: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B074CDJPY9

And on Amazon US: 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 new and third book in the Project Renova Series – UK2 by Terry Tyler is receiving great reviews and here is one of the recent to be posted.

About UK2 (Project Ronova Book 3)

‘Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.’

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors’ way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south. UK2 governor Verlander’s plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies. Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum…

‘I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows. I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man. I was free, at last.’

Although this concludes the Project Renova trilogy, there will be more books in the series. A collection of five side stories is planned, and another novel, set far into the future.

One of the recent  reviews

UK2 provides a great ending to this inventive and completely believable trilogy. I was a little concerned after Lindisfarne that the tone might take a mawkish step into soap-opera land, but UK2 was like a punch in the gut. It’s arguably the strongest entry in the trilogy. I enjoyed it as much as Tipping Point and more than Lindisfarne, mostly because it steps up the conspiracy aspect and involves more of the characters I liked, while the stakes become much higher than simple survival against the elements.

There is a very strong cast of likeable and not-so-likeable characters in UK2. Lottie has been my favourite throughout, and Doyle gets far more screentime in this outing. Terry Tyler’s particular narrative strength is the male douchebag, several of whom are so teeth-grindingly awful that several pillows were beaten up as a result! No spoilers here, but I really loved the character development in this final episode and the page-turning quality of the narrative was up to her usual standard – “unputdownable” is one cliche I would gladly use for UK2, it really delivered on all levels

Highly recommended for fans of conspiracies, dystopian and post-apocalyptic survival novels; but also for fans of good fiction, solid writing and great storytelling!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/UK2-Project-Renova-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07C9H3XNP

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/UK2-Project-Renova-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07C9H3XNP

A selection of other books by Terry Tyler

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM

Read more reviews and follow Terry Tyler on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyler

Connect to Terry via her website: https://terrytyler59.blogspot.ie/

And last but not least, a recent review for Phillip T. Stephens for his book Cigerets, Guns & Beer.

About the book

Dodd breaks up a convenience store robbery when his car breaks down in Sweet Water Falls, Texas. What’s the thanks he gets? The sheriff won’t let him leave, the car lot can’t find the parts and everybody wants him for something—sales pitch, church membership, and even stud pony.

But most of all, it seems a family named Dodd were shot down robbing the bank in 1949 and the half million they stole remains missing. Everyone thinks Dodd returned to dig up the loot and no one intends to let him leave until he finds it—along with (or so the legends go) a long lost flying saucer.

Here is the most recent review for the book

A really hilarious crime story about a mythical small town in Texas where a handful of corrupt people enjoy an abundance of sex, cigarettes and booze. Not to mention some instances of setting other people up to take the fall for their financial crimes before killing them. I know, that doesn’t sound too appealing but that’s where the dark and bucolic humor comes in that makes it a fun read. Plus, it has one of my favorite things, a twist at the end. Not always into picaresque protagonists, but the humor makes him entertaining. Note: Could use a little proofreading for a few typos but they’re not too off-putting.

 

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

A selection of books also by Phillip T. Stephens

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Read more reviews and follow Phillip on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/583139.Phillip_T_Stephens

Connect with Phillip via his website: https://ptstephens.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the word about these authors and their news. Thanks Sally

If you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore and have received a recent review since I last featured you in the Spring Showcase Series at the beginning of April, then please email me.. sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

You can check your listing here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Bette A. Stevens, Phillip T. Stephens, Julie Lawford, John Maberry and Annette Rochelle Aben


Welcome to the first of the Christmas Book Fairs and books that would make wonderful gifts for readers across the genres.. It is also my way of saying thank you to the authors in the bookstore who have been in and out of the blog and so supportive over the year.

The first author to showcase is children’s author Bette A. Stevens whose books received wonderful reviews. Here is Dog Bone Soup with one of its recent reviews.

About the book

Whether or not You Grew Up in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll find DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction) to be soup for the soul. In this coming-of-age novel, Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning, splitting and stacking firewood…But when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. DOG BONE SOUP is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living The American Dream.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

A delightful story on October 1, 2017

In preparing to write this review, I read a couple of other reviews of this book on Amazon and Goodreads. I was interested to note one comment that likened this book to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I can see why this comparison has been drawn as Bette A. Stevens main character, Shawn Daniels, and Huckleberry Finn are both boys dogged by poverty and abusive and alcoholic fathers. Both boys are also fairly resourceful and have survival skills.

For me, however, that was where the comparison ended. Stevens depicts the Daniels family as being tight knit despite their unfortunate father. The children and their Mother work together to salvage their situation to the best extent they can. I really felt sad for the Mother as she was a victim of her own hormones and emotions and could not find the strength to break away from her selfish and abusive husband. She remained in a downward spiralling situation and ended up having a fourth child which was really unwise.

Shawn, the eldest child, does his best to be hard working, industrious and do well at school. He is a role model for his younger brother, Willie, and two younger sisters. Shawn tries to make the best of his situation and grasp opportunities that come his way.

I found this story to be very poignant and moving and Stevens’ writing is captivating. Despite some disturbing descriptions in the book I still found it to be a very uplifting book. Highly recommended.

Read all the reviews and buy the book at this universal link : http://bit.ly/1HGpCsZ

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

Read more reviews and follow Bette on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Connect to Bette via her website: https://4writersandreaders.com/

The next author that I would like to feature and who provided us with some wonderful lifestyle posts during the summer is Julie Lawford with her book Singled Out.

About the Book

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

One of the excellent reviews for Singled Out.

Wilma Lettings 5.0 out of 5 stars Very good 18 June 2017

A very well written thriller set during a holiday trip to Turkey, organised for singles. You might assume that this could be chick lit, but that would do the character depth and writing style grave injustice. While certainly appealing to female audiences this novel doesn’t limit itself to pure light-hearted romantic interests but visits darker sides of the dating game and crime.

Using alternate narrative strands and voices we get insight into the characters, but we’re shown enough to be drawn deep into these characters.
Things are not as they seem and while you have an incling what is about to happen, be assured that there are always surprises waiting for you.

Not the kind of book I had originally expected but in fact, a much better one. Very good!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Read more reviews and follow Julie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13411991.Julie_Lawford

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website: http://julielawford.com

Another author who is extremely supportive on Twitter is Phillip T. Stephens and here is his book Cigerets, Guns & Beer.

About the book

Dodd breaks up a convenience store robbery when his car breaks down in Sweet Water Falls, Texas. What’s the thanks he gets? The sheriff won’t let him leave, the car lot can’t find the parts and everybody wants him for something—sales pitch, church membership, and even stud pony.

But most of all, it seems a family named Dodd were shot down robbing the bank in 1949 and the half million they stole remains missing. Everyone thinks Dodd returned to dig up the loot and no one intends to let him leave until he finds it—along with (or so the legends go) a long lost flying saucer.

Here is one of the most recent reviews.

The cover of Cigerets, Guns & Beer by Phillip T. Stevens catches the eye immediately. Beer and cigarettes are present, necessary for any good breakfast. While a gun is not displayed, bullet holes are, perhaps from the night before. A reader might predict that this will be a “good ol’ boy” novel replete with rednecks. The reader would be correct.

This novel will make those who grew up in a small town nostalgic; a place where there might be only one law enforcement officer who also read water and electric meters, sold alcohol in defiance of Sunday “blue laws,” was a source of under-the-table porn, and served as a de facto judge deciding what town residents could and could not get away with.

This was the case with Sweet Water Falls, Texas. Joe Bob Meeker was the law. Brother Ralph Meeker was the mayor and JP (Justice of the Peace). Ralph also owned a general store, a car dealership, an insurance agency, and a hotel. Both men along with banker Mal Rafferty completely controlled the town. All served on the town council and exercised rezoning authority to force businesses to relocate or cease operations. The three would then buy the pieces left of the defunct property and open the businesses again under a new name and ownership.

The three men had gotten greedy, some of their business dealings were fraudulent. Up to now, geographic isolation had blocked an investigation. A series of robberies and shootings had never been thoroughly investigated by anyone other than Sheriff Joe Bob. An impartial investigation would have placed the sheriff in the category of a suspect. Any small business owners left in Sweet Water were under control of one of the three powerful men; they were forced to follow any rules formulated by the trio. There was resentment but no organized opposition had surfaced. That was about to change.

Dodd was just passing through town on the way to his new job as a partner in a law firm. The township that employed him as an intern lawyer didn’t want him to continue after his parole was up. The idea of a lawyer who obtained his education in prison was bad for publicity. Dodd was moving on to join a firm at the invitation of a former colleague. He hadn’t planned the gas leak that necessitated car repair and a stop in Sweet Water. It was just coincidence that more than decades previously Sweet Water was a town with history for a family named Dodd. Three brothers named Dodd had robbed a bank of USD 500 000. Two of the brothers were shot and killed and the third got away to hide the money before being shot and killed days later. Sheriff Joe Bob, possibly with the collusion of Ralph, had shot the first two Dodd brothers. The money was never found.

Dodd entered the town to repair his car. He entered Ralph’s store to buy supplies as he continued his trip. The store was being robbed by a nervous 17-year-old and Dodd, an ex-convict, decided to defuse the situation by recounting to the teenager the joys of prison life while attempting to convince him to surrender. Successful in foiling the robbery, Dodd was now stuck in the town until a statement could be prepared for Sheriff Joe Bob for adjudication by brother Ralph. This would take a few days. Meanwhile, town residents would speculate on the coincidence of a Dodd reappearing in the town. Was he there to find the money? Or was he there to find the UFO?

After the initial set-up for the story, all eyes are on Dodd. Especially female eyes. He either has sex with every female or is invited to but turns them down. It seems there is little else to do in a small town. They seem to be the frontline agents for finding out if he is related to the Dodd robber family, a claim Dodd will deny throughout the book. Dodd (first name) Dodd (last name) middle initial D. will apply home style wisdom combined with prison savvy in an attempt to right wrongs in this thoroughly corrupt community. He might even look for the missing money as he tries to find the UFO.

This book has laugh-out-loud understated humor in its description of small town insular life. There are several surprises to keep the reader from putting the book down. Although there seems to be a lot of sexual activity going on, offensive language is MOSTLY absent. Readers will only have to shield their sensibilities for approximately six pages of the 376-page novel.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

A selection of books also by Phillip T. Stephens

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Read more reviews and follow Phillip on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/583139.Phillip_T_Stephens

Connect with Phillip via his website: https://ptstephens.com/

The next author with news is John Maberry with his 10th Anniversary edition of his book Waiting for Westmoreland.

About the book

Surviving poverty and the deaths of loved ones, the author remains hopeful as he exits childhood. then comes the draft that sends him to Vietnam. With innocence lost and illusions shattered, he seeks answers. College courses are intriguing but offer no solutions. Eventually, hope returns in the form of a life philosophy that comes from a chance encounter at a party. It’s all about cause and effect. Events happen not by chance but as a result of karma. Unseen connections have surprising consequences. This knowledge comes in the nick of time, as he faces his most serious situation since the perils of Vietnam, the threat of death from a prospective father-in-law. He must take responsibility for the matter, despite being unaware of the underlying reason for it, reform himself and seek only her father’s happiness.

One of the recent reviews for the book.

One man’s journey from chaos to inner peace. on November 4, 2017

Here we have a book that is much more than memoir, and more life journey told (and written) exceedingly well and with great courage. If the writer’s mandate is to ‘open a vein’, Maberry has opened that vein and allowed whatever flowed to fill this work. From his background in hardscrabble Minnesota, enduring the loss of a parent, then for all intents and purposes the loss of the other, the author describes his various efforts to carve a niche for himself. Just as his efforts appear to be paying off, he’s found a companion, started school, navigated his way through the shoals of early adulthood, when the Selective Service System came calling and he was drafted.

Change scenes to Vietnam in 1967-68, and Maberry begins again to sort out the fictions of America’s involvement in South Asia Vs the realities of war: No clear purpose for being there; chauvinistic treatment of Vietnamese people, especially the abuse of women; and a lifer sergeant who embodied everything wrong with the American military. Maberry returns from Vietnam disillusioned, cynical and without real purpose. Indeed, it’s a mistake to refer to Waiting for Westmoreland as simply a war memoir. It’s much more one man’s journey from chaos and the vicissitudes of life, to finding inner peace through Buddhism, something that surprised even the author, until he saw how the practice worked in his own life.

The book does have a tendency to be dismissive of various U.S. institutions and traditions, certain presidents, and other public servants, and often with good reason. By way of disclosure, this reader too is a Vietnam Vet, and I, too, was astonished, as Maberry asserts, that the American people reelected Richard Nixon. Looking past this judgmental assessment, and reading this book with an open mind, and an open heart, reveals a path that perhaps many veterans of America’s ill advised war in Vietnam might take.

Five stars, and I don’t do that often. Byron Edgington, author of A Vietnam Anthem. A Vietnam Anthem: What The War Gave Me

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Westmoreland-John-Maberry-ebook/dp/B00VTYJE3U

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waiting-Westmoreland-John-Maberry-ebook/dp/B00VTYJE3U

Also by John Maberry

Read all the reviews and buy both books: https://www.amazon.com/John-Maberry/e/B002BM82FU

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Maberry/e/B002BM82FU

Follow John Maberry on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1210538.John_Maberry

Connect to John via his website: http://waitforwest.eaglepeakpress.com/

Annette Rochelle Aben has been very busy in the run up to Christmas with two new books on the shelves. Annette has been a part of this blog for almost four years and a more supportive and generous person you could not connect to.  Here is her newest book which is Angel Messages Two: Songs of the Heart

About Angel Messages Two

The songs of the hearts of Angels guide us, lift us and fill our lives with hope and love.

They harmonize with our heartbeats, ask us to trust and remind us that we are precious.

They call to us tenderly, helping us find comfort. Encouragement is but a request away.

How is this (and more) all possible? Because the songs of the heart are pure love. When our hearts are singing the songs of love, we connect with Angels. Open your heart to connection with Angels, with Angel Messages Two – songs of the heart.
Unlike a book that takes a story and divides it into chapters, Angel Messages Two – songs of the heart, is a book of messages (songs) that can be read one right after another or one at a time. From day to day, a different message may speak to you. Open this book to find what is perfect for you (or someone else) at that moment.

The pictures in this book, remind you that Angels appear in a variety of forms while the Tanka brings to life, the deeper message each of the photographs.

Angel Messages Two – songs of the heart, is perfect for anyone who has ever wanted to connect with Angels as much as it is perfect for anyone who already has a relationship with Angels.

The messages are presented in poetry that we call Tanka. Tanka is a form of traditional Japanese lyric poetry that uses 31 syllables spread out over 5 lines, to convey its message. The word “tanka” translates to “short song.” The short songs of this book help us to be aware of our deep, abiding connection to energies we might not be able to see but can feel in our hearts.

To be in the presence of Angels is soothing, warm; reminiscent of being around the most supportive energy you can imagine. It can also be energizing, electric and indescribably emotional. When an Angel makes its presence known, it will be when you most need the confirmation that you are not alone. You always have a home in an Angel’s heart and they are excited to be at home in your heart.

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Messages-Two-songs-heart-ebook/dp/B077ZCF2ZX

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Messages-Two-songs-heart-ebook/dp/B077ZCF2ZX

And another perfect gift for poetry lovers for Christmas; the other new collection from Annette Rochelle AbenA Tanka Picture Book.

An early review for the collection

This beautiful little book will warm your heart and stir your soul. A Tanka Picture Book by Annette Rochelle Aben is a treasure trove of inspiration, filled with picturesque images overlaid by touching verse. The author explains that Tanka means “short song.” I find this the perfect description, considering I felt my heart singing while I read. Compassion, encouragement, and gratitude create a texture and mood that will leave you feeling both peaceful and exhilarated. Whether your spirit needs fortifying or you’re simply looking for a splendid gift, this book is sure to deliver.

Also by Annette Rochelle Aben

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY

Find more reviews and follow Annette at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8262554.Annette_Rochelle_Aben

 

Connect to Annette via her blog/website: https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and I am sure that you will find plenty here for gifts for yourself and for family and friends. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Phillip T. Stephens, Susan M. Toy, Lyn Horner


As I missed the usual Monday post because of the Bank Holiday and the end of summer party so herewith is the Cafe and Bookstore Update.

First author with a great review recently is Phillip T. Stephens for his book Cigerets, Guns & Beer.

About the book

Dodd breaks up a convenience store robbery when his car breaks down in Sweet Water Falls, Texas. What’s the thanks he gets? The sheriff won’t let him leave, the car lot can’t find the parts and everybody wants him for something—sales pitch, church membership, and even stud pony.

But most of all, it seems a family named Dodd were shot down robbing the bank in 1949 and the half million they stole remains missing. Everyone thinks Dodd returned to dig up the loot and no one intends to let him leave until he finds it—along with (or so the legends go) a long lost flying saucer.

Here is the most recent review.

The cover of Cigerets, Guns & Beer by Phillip T. Stevens catches the eye immediately. Beer and cigarettes are present, necessary for any good breakfast. While a gun is not displayed, bullet holes are, perhaps from the night before. A reader might predict that this will be a “good ol’ boy” novel replete with rednecks. The reader would be correct. This novel will make those who grew up in a small town nostalgic; a place where there might be only one law enforcement officer who also read water and electric meters, sold alcohol in defiance of Sunday “blue laws,” was a source of under-the-table porn, and served as a de facto judge deciding what town residents could and could not get away with.

This was the case with Sweet Water Falls, Texas. Joe Bob Meeker was the law. Brother Ralph Meeker was the mayor and JP (Justice of the Peace). Ralph also owned a general store, a car dealership, an insurance agency, and a hotel. Both men along with banker Mal Rafferty completely controlled the town. All served on the town council and exercised rezoning authority to force businesses to relocate or cease operations. The three would then buy the pieces left of the defunct property and open the businesses again under a new name and ownership.
The three men had gotten greedy, some of their business dealings were fraudulent. Up to now, geographic isolation had blocked an investigation. A series of robberies and shootings had never been thoroughly investigated by anyone other than Sheriff Joe Bob. An impartial investigation would have placed the sheriff in the category of a suspect. Any small business owners left in Sweet Water were under control of one of the three powerful men; they were forced to follow any rules formulated by the trio. There was resentment but no organized opposition had surfaced. That was about to change.

Dodd was just passing through town on the way to his new job as a partner in a law firm. The township that employed him as an intern lawyer didn’t want him to continue after his parole was up. The idea of a lawyer who obtained his education in prison was bad for publicity. Dodd was moving on to join a firm at the invitation of a former colleague. He hadn’t planned the gas leak that necessitated car repair and a stop in Sweet Water. It was just coincidence that more than decades previously Sweet Water was a town with history for a family named Dodd. Three brothers named Dodd had robbed a bank of USD 500 000. Two of the brothers were shot and killed and the third got away to hide the money before being shot and killed days later. Sheriff Joe Bob, possibly with the collusion of Ralph, had shot the first two Dodd brothers. The money was never found.

Dodd entered the town to repair his car. He entered Ralph’s store to buy supplies as he continued his trip. The store was being robbed by a nervous 17-year-old and Dodd, an ex-convict, decided to defuse the situation by recounting to the teenager the joys of prison life while attempting to convince him to surrender. Successful in foiling the robbery, Dodd was now stuck in the town until a statement could be prepared for Sheriff Joe Bob for adjudication by brother Ralph. This would take a few days. Meanwhile, town residents would speculate on the coincidence of a Dodd reappearing in the town. Was he there to find the money? Or was he there to find the UFO?

After the initial set-up for the story, all eyes are on Dodd. Especially female eyes. He either has sex with every female or is invited to but turns them down. It seems there is little else to do in a small town. They seem to be the frontline agents for finding out if he is related to the Dodd robber family, a claim Dodd will deny throughout the book. Dodd (first name) Dodd (last name) middle initial D. will apply home style wisdom combined with prison savvy in an attempt to right wrongs in this thoroughly corrupt community. He might even look for the missing money as he tries to find the UFO.

This book has laugh-out-loud understated humor in its description of small town insular life. There are several surprises to keep the reader from putting the book down. Although there seems to be a lot of sexual activity going on, offensive language is MOSTLY absent. Readers will only have to shield their sensibilities for approximately six pages of the 376-page novel.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K

A selection of books also by Phillip T. Stephens

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Read more reviews and follow Phillip on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/583139.Phillip_T_Stephens

Connect with Phillip via his website: https://ptstephens.com/

The next review is for One Woman’s Island by Susan M. Toy which I read and reviewed last year.

About the book

Running away from Canada, Mariana hopes to forget a failed marriage and the death of her husband by embarking on a whole new life. She moves lock, stock, and two cats to the small Caribbean island of Bequia. But the move brings more than she could have imagined. New friends ask her to help solve a recent murder in the expat community. And then there’s the problem of her neighbours, a young woman and her children. Seemingly abandoned by family and friends, Mariana believes they need her help! By becoming involved, Mariana is carried along from wanting to simply “live with the locals” to being overwhelmed by their culture, one so vastly different to what she had left behind in Canada that she doesn’t know who among her expat friends she can turn to for advice. So she carries on regardless and discovers that Bequia isn’t exactly the tropical paradise it had promised to be.

One Woman’s Island is the second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series that picks up again a few months in time after the first novel, Island in the Clouds.

The most recent review for the book

One Fine Book  on July 19, 2017

Like her Island in the Clouds, Susan Toy’s second Bequia Perspective novel is a complex story. On the surface, it’s a crime novel. Mariana, a Canadian woman in her forties, arrives on the island of Bequia running away from the ghosts of her past. Her new friends – a small community of expatriates—ask her to help them to solve a murder. In the orderly, organised world that Mariana’s coming from, meddling in the police investigation would be impossible, but rules are different on Bequia. The local police, with very little experience with serious crimes, are slow and inefficient. Mariana is more than happy to help. She needs a distraction anyway…

Beneath this first layer there is an intimate story of a lonely and deeply hurt woman, whose seemingly safe and comfortable world collapsed when her husband died, leaving her to deal not only with his unexpected demise, but with his emotional betrayal as well.
Mariana’s choice of her temporary exile is not random: years ago, when she was young and happy, she visited the island with her husband. And now she’s back, to heal her wounds, and even more importantly—to look for the happy woman she once was and reconnect with her.

It won’t go smoothly. The seductive, exotic and unique world of Bequia knows how to throw out a challenge and headstrong and stubborn Mariana, with her North American set of values, will have many clashes with the island’s mentality and customs before she realizes that she should stop trying to fix things that others don’t see as broken.

Yet, in spite of all the up and downs, the Bequia experience will have a profound influence on Mariana. Instead of that young, happy woman who once visited the island, Mariana will find—and accept—herself, firmly grounded in here and now.

And in a subtle way, she’ll will leave her own imprint on Bequia—I’m sure that young Philbain and Ayayla will never forget Mariana and the stories she read to them.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Womans-Island-Bequia-Perspectives-Book-ebook/dp/B01M27PD14

Also by Susan M. Toy

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Toy/e/B008WXIJ46

Read more reviews and follow Susan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1316805.Susan_M_Toy

Susan was a guest at the End of Summer Party and she is offering three lucky winners the chance to read one of her three titles. All you have to do is put a comment in the reblog on Susan’s blog, with a chance to win and Susan will announce the three names on September 1st.  I have read both Bequia novels and reviewed them with five stars so it is well worth heading over.

https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/smorgasbord-end-of-summer-party-one-last-fling-with-fantastic-writers-music-and-more-free-books-from-susan-toy

Connect to Susan via her website: https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/

My next author with an update is Lyn Horner, whose latest release Beguiling Delilah: Romancing the Guardians Book Six which was published in July, is receiving great reviews.

About the book

He’s a Navajo sworn to bring her to America;
She’s a sexy genius in a race with him across France

Delilah Moreau, the glamorous French Guardian, possesses a miraculous mathematical talent that provides her a privileged life, but it can’t give her what she truly wants: lasting love. Leon Tseda, a Navajo whose homeland serves as a hidden gathering place for the Guardians, vows to bring Delilah to safety, thwarting thugs sent to capture her and the valuable scroll she guards. Opening in Paris, the story whisks the pair in a life-and-death chase across France to Nice and Monte Carlo on the breathtaking Côte d’Azur.

Both Delilah and Leon have lost loved ones, and they’re no longer youngsters, but they are not too old for a second chance at love. Their journey is fraught with danger, excitement and steamy, mature romance. Will it lead to love – if they live long enough?

The series so far: There are seven Guardians, each possessing a psychic gift and a precious scroll containing a secret prophecy handed down from ancient Irish seers. Not to be revealed until mankind is ready to listen, the prophesies are in danger of being seized by vicious “Hellhounds” who want to use them for their own evil ends.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I loved this book for several reasons. The biggest reason was the characters. It was refreshing to read about characters closer to my own age rather than sweet young things in their twenties. Delilah is a mathematical genius and a business woman. Pairing her up with a rugged American Indian couldn’t have been easy. But Lyn pulled it off with flying colors. They weren’t shy about expressing their extreme differences but maturity gave them the advantage of the wisdom of how to overcome those differences and still enjoy a romantic relationship that would last a long time. But have to say, having a Leon was easy to fall for. He’s proud and protective at the same time and he knew a good woman when he saw her.

Another reason I really enjoyed the book is the French location. I’ve visited the settings in this book and it was fun to revisit them through this book as the Hell Hounds (bad guys) chase them through the French countryside to gain access to the secret scrolls Delilah protects. With each of her books in this series, Lyn takes us to a new world location and it keeps this series fresh. I recommend that fellow readers read this entire series for better understanding but I’m certain none will be disappointed. Each book gets us closer to the secrets and the big battle that is sure to happen when the Hell Hounds, descend to steal the secrets along with the power of the knowledge they contain. Can’t wait!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Beguiling-Delilah-Romancing-Guardians-Book-ebook/dp/B073XPVHSP

A selection of other books by Lyn Horner

Read the many reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y

Read more reviews and follow Lyn on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4639926.Lyn_Horner

Connect to Lyn via her website: http://lynhorner.com

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over and check out these authors and their books.. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Story Festival and weekly round up – and The Mummy!


Welcome to a slightly shorter round-up this week as I get back into the swing of things after my weekend in London.  You can read all about the day at the 3rd Annual #BloggersBash in my post earlier today: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/thebloggersbash-2017-time-to-turn-virtual-hugs-into-real-ones/ and I hope that next year more of you will be able to join the party.

David came with me for the weekend and we flew by City Jet into London City Airport and if you are travelling to spend the weekend in London then I can recommend this as an airport. Small and easy to navigate and there is a Docklands Light Railway station that links to Bank station and Central line into the heart of the City.

We opted to stay at the Travelodge which to be honest is cheap and cheerful. But we reckoned we were only going to sleep there and at the weekend the airport is on restricted hours meaning you can get some sleep! They were very friendly and the rooms are fine and economical. We spent what we would have on accommodation at central London rates on eating out during our stay… and perhaps the odd G&T!.

Friday night was very nostalgic. We both worked in the Docklands from 1987 to 1996 and when we first started Canary Wharf was still a hole in the ground. The amount of construction in the last twenty years is astonishing and we barely recognised the place. The year that I left to move to another part of the company, a floating Chinese Restaurant opened in the wharf where our office was based. The Lotus is like a paddle steamer and so 22 years after my leaving lunch.. we enjoyed a feast for two… including our favourites Crispy Duck and some Sake…

On Saturday we split up and David headed off to see his brother and family and I headed off to the hugfest in Central London.We had booked to eat at Zedel’s Brasserie in Piccadilly Circus after the #BloggersBash but David sent me a text to get a cab to The Cafe Royale where we downed a couple of G&Ts before heading off to eat.

The weather was sweltering all weekend but we had pre-booked tickets to see The Mummy and after a lengthy walk around Marble Arch and Oxford Street we retired to the air conditioned Odeon.

To be honest I would only give The Mummy 6 out of 10. The movie had some great stunts and special effects but they were linked with a very suspect script. It was not Tom Cruise’s finest work and Russell Crowe spent most of his time mumbling into his beard with a dodgy English accent. The Mummy herself however did a pretty good acting job!  If you like action with little plot then it is worth going to see.

We were not up with the lark but with the first plane taking off at 7.00 on Monday morning. We had breakfast in the airport and a pleasant hour long flight back to Dublin where thankfully we remembered which row we had left the car in at the long term carpark! It was a great weekend with plenty of highlights and I do have one tip for you if you are going to London for sightseeing and are going to use public transport of any kind. Buy an Oyster Card online before you go (can take a while to get to you) or buy at a station. This will save you at least half on your fares and you can use on the Docklands Light Railway, Underground and buses. https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do

I will be updating the directories with all of last week’s posts but I wanted to mention the wonderful writers who took care of Smorgasbord while I was off gallivanting. The Short Story Competition was a huge success and I must also thank Paul Andruss for providing his usual fantastic post on Friday morning.

For those of you who missed the finale of The Stevie Wonder story with William Price King here is the link.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/william-price-king-meets-some-legends-stevie-wonder-highlights-from-the-last-20-years/

You will find links to all the contributors blogs and social media in their individual stories and if you missed.. here they are.

Thanks to Paul Andruss, Sheila Williams, John Howell, Phillip T. Stephens, Mary Smith, Wendy Janes and Robbie and Michael Cheadle. 

You will also find three of my stories from my previous collection and hope you enjoy.

Thomas the RhymerFrankenstein

Paul Andruss with the background to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/writer-in-residence-frankenstein-by-paul-andruss/

Boy with a Harmonica

Sheila Williams with a story set in France during World War II with a supernatural twist.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/smorgasbord-short-stories-festival-9th-12th-june-boy-with-a-harmonica-france-1943-by-sheila-williams/

Albert

Sally Cronin –  Meet a man who was the perfect candidate for the job set in the near future.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-june-12th-june-albert-the-perfect-candidate-by-sally-cronin/

Saturday 10th June.

The Matmakers

Geoff Cronin – As a boy Geoff befriends the travellers who come to the beach near his home every summer.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/the-black-bitch-and-other-tales-the-matmakers-by-geoff-cronin/

The World Darkly

John Howell with a story that makes you rethink your approach to finding lost property!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-the-world-darkly-by-john-w-howell/

The Last Emperor

Sally Cronin with a story of redemption and loyalty in the Magic Garden.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-tales-from-the-garden-the-last-emperor-by-sally-cronin/

Sunday 11th June

Flinches

Geoff Cronin explains the old country ways of bird catching.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/the-black-bitch-and-other-tales-serialisation-flinches-by-geoff-cronin/

Search and Seizure

Phillip T. Stephens with a futuristic look at border and customs control.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-search-and-seizure-by-phillip-t-stephens/

From Hackney to Hollywood

Wendy Janes takes us on the trail to stardom from Shakespeare in Hackney to the chat show sofa in Hollywood.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-from-hackney-to-hollywood-by-wendy-janes/

Monday 12th June

The health benefits of laughter and an invitation to join the academy with your favourite jokes, videos or images.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/smorgasbord-health-2017-laughter-the-best-medicine-the-health-benefits-and-the-laughter-academy/

Sir Chocolate and the Stolen Moon and Stars

Robbie and Michael Cheadle bring us another adventure story starring Sir Chocolate in verse and also Michael’s original concept for the tale.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-sir-chocolate-and-the-stolen-moon-and-stars-by-robbie-and-michael-cheadle/

Trouble with Socks

Mary Smith with a story of how simple things can become very important to us.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-trouble-with-socks-by-mary-smith/

Elaine

Sally Cronin with the story of a woman planning to surprise her husband on his birthday.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/smorgasbord-short-story-festival-9th-12th-june-elaine-by-sally-cronin/

 

My thanks for all your support during the week and over the weekend. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Story Festival – 9th – 12th June – Search and Seizure by Phillip T. Stephens


Delighted to welcome my next guest writer to the short story festival, Phillip T. Stephens with his science fiction contribution with a topical twist.

Search and Seizure by Phillip T. Stephens.

The Jovian Starlines conveyor belt shuttled Faust and Roxanne to the customs counter. The obsequious looking rodent behind the counter held out his hand. “Name?” he squeaked. His whiskers bounced like a see saw when he spoke.

“Roxanne Street,” she said, dropping her HolID into his white-gloved hand. The rat slipped it into the HoloViewer and scanned the data stream cascading down her fully dimensional facsimile.

“What’s that on your shoulder?” he demanded.

“You mean the whip?” Cracked leather strips, braided together in a chord, coiled up her right arm. “It’s an ancient Terran herding device, now worn exclusively for ornamentation.”

The rodent returned her card. “Name?” he asked Faust.

“Goëthe Whip,” cracked Faust, who collected false identities the way other connoisseurs collected fine wines or pre-Twentieth Century artillery. He gave the rodent his voice activated, instantly programmable HolID. Faust kept his invention secret. Cheap Titan clones would flood the inhabitable planets the day after he sold even one on the black market.

“Open your bags,” the officer ordered.

“Why?” Roxanne demanded.

“Drug search. There’s a big market in Auralen 5 right now.”

“I’m tired of your planetary profiling,” Faust said. “Just because we’re Terran, it doesn’t make us drug smugglers.”

“We all came from the same ocean,” Roxanne said, sliding her solar lenses back into her eyelids. “Besides, shouldn’t you be more concerned about terrorists than drugs?”

“We won the war against terrorism. Don’t you listen to Emperor Trump 720? The new war is the war on drugs.”

The clerk waved through three Martians lugging large trunks without even checking their HolIDs. “See what I mean” Faust said. “Why didn’t you search their trunks?”

“Do they look like drug dealers?” the official squeaked.

Roxanne snapped her whip. The whip cracked against the trunk, opening the latch. Particle cannons and subterranean mines clattered across the star port floor. One of the Martians drew his top-spinning quark gun. Roxanne snapped her whip again. He jumped back from the whip, cracked his head against the wall and collapsed to the floor.

The rodent kissed her feet and thanked her for saving his ass. He returned their bags and passed them through.

Back at their apartment, Faust kissed Roxanne and said, “Great decoy, Rox. We’ll be on Saturn before they discover the guns were fake.”

He set up the flash freezer and froze the whip. Roxanne slammed it on the table. The whip cracked. She slammed it again. The whip shattered, spilling out twenty-two grams of crystal Auralen 5, worth seventeen million dollars. Martian dollars.

©PhillipTStephens 2017

About Phillip T. Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens, a professional educator and writer who developed a number of innovative classroom programs for exceptional and at-risk youth, drew on his own experiences as a minister’s son being frequently moved to new schools as well as those of his students to write Seeing Jesus. He and his wife carol rescue and rescue cats in Austin, Texas for http://www.austinsiameserescue.org/

He is author of Seeing Jesus. A humorous, coming of age story, suitable for Christmas reading, Seeing Jesus introduces young readers to questions of spirituality and philosophy they might not otherwise find the opportunity to explore.

A selection of books by Phillip T. Stephens.

Read the reviews and buy the books:https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Connect to Phillip.

Blog: http://ptstephens.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephens_pt

My thanks to Phillip for his contribution to the short story fest and for keeping you entertained in my absence. Please check out his books and share thank you Sally.

Coming up this afternoon a story from Wendy Janes – From Hackney to Hollywood.

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories Festival – 9th to 12th June – The programme of events.


As you may have already heard there is a #BloggersBash going on in London this weekend and having been unable to go the last two years, I am delighted to be heading off tomorrow.

As usual when taking a break I invited some guest writers to contribute their fiction short stories to keep you entertained while I was offline. And I am very grateful to Sheila Williams, John Howell, Phillip T. Stephens, Wendy Janes, Mary Smith and Robbie and Michael Cheadle for their wonderful tales.

There will  also be the regular posts from Paul Andruss and the start of the serialisation of Geoff Cronin’s second book written when he was 84 years old with more stories of life in Ireland in the 1920s onwards.

On Monday morning I have also scheduled a health post and an introduction to a new series.. The health benefits of laughter and the Smorgasbord Laughter Academy.

The Programme – Friday 9th June

Thomas the Rhymer

Frankenstein

Paul Andruss with the background to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Boy with a Harmonica

Sheila Williams with a story set in France during World War II with a supernatural twist.

Albert

Sally Cronin –  Meet a man who was the perfect candidate for the job set in the near future.

Saturday 10th June.

The Matmakers

Geoff Cronin – As a boy Geoff befriends the travellers who come to the beach near his home every summer.

The World Darkly

John Howell with a story that makes you rethink your approach to finding lost property!

The Last Emperor

Sally Cronin with a story of redemption and loyalty in the Magic Garden.

Sunday 11th June

Flinches

Geoff Cronin explains the old country ways of bird catching.

Search and Seizure

Phillip T. Stephens with a futuristic look at border and customs control.

From Hackney to Hollywood

Wendy Janes takes us on the trail to stardom from Shakespeare in Hackney to the chat show sofa in Hollywood.

Monday 12th June

The health benefits of laughter and an invitation to join the academy with your favourite jokes, videos or images.

Sir Chocolate and the Stolen Moon and Stars

Robbie and Michael Cheadle bring us another adventure story starring Sir Chocolate in verse and also Michael’s original concept for the tale.

Trouble with Socks

Mary Smith with a story of how simple things can become very important to us.

Elaine

Sally Cronin with the story of a woman planning to surprise her husband on his birthday.

I am sure you will enjoy the stories from my guest authors, and as I shall be offline completely for the weekend from tomorrow, I will catch up with you on Monday evening. 

As I will not be here to click the share buttons.. I would be very grateful if you would do so for me.  Thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Party – Guest Phillip T. Stephens with A Christmas Carol: The Sequel


Smorgasbord Christmas Party

My guest, Phillip T. Stephens, was also here earlier in the party with a very informative and important message about adopting a kitten at this time of year.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/smorgasbord-christmas-party-guest-phillip-t-stephens-comfort-and-hair-balls-you-better-think-twice/

He is now back with a short story……

A Christmas Carol: The Sequel by Phillip T. Stephens

The money came pouring in last year. We weren’t rich, but for the first time in three years both my wife and I worked all twelve months, she got a raise and I made twice what I made the previous four years put together.

Let me put it this way: we gave the nineteen-inch TV and our old blu-ray to my son, bought a 4k 3D blu-ray player, a 65-inch HDTV, a stereo surround sound system, another HDTV for the bedroom, and an iMac. Even an X-Box with enough games to keep Bryan in his room for most of the summer. A new microwave, some furniture….

You get the picture.

Don’t think our basic values changed. Carol and I still looked down our nose on materialistic lifestyles. We simply had lived hand to mouth for a long time and wanted to loosen the purse strings. Come Christmas time, we let loose like reluctant drunks released after a year’s sentence in rehab.

Dancing Santa dwarfed our driveway shouting “Ho, ho, ho,” until the timer shut him down at midnight, elves darted down our railing fence over twelve strands of multicolored lights, while a holographic display flashed angels with flashing wings and trumpets across our picture window. Our neighbors drove past shaking their heads in disbelief and dismay with each new item added to the display. One, Jerry Dixon, flashed a finger every time he passed, even if he struggled to stick it up in his leather glove on winter mornings. Inside the picture window, I’m not ashamed, we finally could show off presents piled under the peppermint candy Christmas tree instead of the half dozen shoe box sized gifts and scrawny spruce we showed to the world in years before.

We spent Christmas Eve watching Die Hard and Die Hard II in THX surround sound and fought to keep Bryan out of his presents, finally retiring around midnight, our heads filled with visions of dancing bullets and blood spattered holiday fireworks. I drifted off to peaceful sleep…

…only to be wakened by such a clatter in the living room that I sprung from the water bed to see what the cats had knocked from the mantle. I dashed from the bedroom and threw on the lights only to see Santa stepping through our picture window with our new 65-inch 4k HDTV screen cradled in his arms.

“Bet’y’re wondering what I’m up to,” he said, a drip of tobacco juice dribbling down his white beard.

“Looks like you’re stealing my brand new TV.”

Santa’s outfit had definitely seen better days. The white edging fell away at the cuffs, and I thought I saw teeth marks in a couple of places. The felt looked flat and worn in the late night light. His six-inch belt barely reached around his belly, and an inflamed toe stuck through the seam of his left boot.

He stared at me as though I were Ebenezer Scrooge holding him for ransom. “Not stealing,” he said. “Sharing. What with global warming we’re broke at the North Pole, and I need this TV for the kids at the School for the Blind.”

“What do blind kids need with a high def TV?”

He shifted his fingers along the bottom edge of my TV, almost dropping it onto the window sill. “They turn the sound up real loud.”

“I suppose you want my sound system for the School for the Deaf.”

He chewed on his tobacco for a second then spit into the grass outside. “Senior Citizens home in Bastrop. But half of ’em’re deaf.”

At this point my TV slipped through his fingers and I leaped to grab it before it fell. I detected the sour odor of cheap whiskey and cigarettes. I pulled my TV toward me when his grip tightened and he said, “Geez o’ Pete, ain’t ya got no Christmas spirit?”

I thought about the years I spent on the verge of poverty and the many friends and relatives who wouldn’t give me the time of day. The good Republicans who assured me I should pull myself up by my own bootstraps and my many Christian friends who told me to be warm and filled with the spirit of Christ. Even though I knew I was still paying for that TV at 12 percent interest, I helped him carry it through the window and load it into a battered station wagon which he’d pulled into my backyard.

Along with the sound system, Bryan’s X-Box, the TV from our bedroom and our new iMac. He asked if I had a drink; I figured he had enough already and sent him on his way.

The next morning, when Carol and Bryan woke I told them about reverse Santa and, for some reason, they didn’t share the Christmas spirit to the same degree I did. Especially when Carol told me we wouldn’t be buying any replacements any time soon.

However, after coffee, two glasses of her favorite port, and brunch at Kerbey Lane Cafe, we found It’s a Wonderful Life on cable. With two more glasses of port, Carol began to feel the Christmas spirit. Bryan found an old Nintendo and began to speak to me again.

That’s when the sheriff showed up at our door to tell us he’d arrested someone called the Santa Burglar and would I come down to ID him?

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said.

The sheriff explained that he arrested a man whose MO was to burglarize houses and claim to be the reverse Santa, stealing goods for charitable causes. They identified the stolen goods as a television, sound system and computer that we had registered with our insurance.

“Oh, no,” I said. “We told him he could give the television to the School for the Blind.”

The sheriff, a short man, who wore a ten gallon hat half a tall as he, one of those men who sought out law enforcement to prove a point no one else cared if he made, chewed on his ball point pen for a moment and said, “How can blind kids watch a TV?”

My son Bryan yelled over the movie, “They turn the sound up loud.” He said it with the sarcasm of youth, even though he was more angry when he raised exactly the same objection that very morning than I had been last night.

The sheriff didn’t recognize Bryan, but the summer before he declared an X-theme bike race that Bryan won and his son lost invalid and made them run it again. Three times. Until his son won.

“The sound system’s for a senior citizen’s home,” I added.

At that moment the sheriff studied me more closely. “Say?” he drawled, the long “say,” perfected in the Texas hill country where the vowel is dragged out for several seconds. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

“Maybe from the new subdivision protest last summer?” I reminded him. “When you told me any developer with the money to make a campaign contribution had the free speech right to use eminent domain to uproot my cheap ass house?”

The expression on his face told me he suddenly did remember where he knew me from.

“Those weren’t exactly the words I used.”

“To the word,” I told him.

The sheriff left immediately. I don’t know if he let the Santa Burglar go, but I hope he did. But only after feeding him a Christmas meal.

I hope that you appreciate the spirit with which I shared this story. That whatever traditions you celebrate for the holidays, you remember that there are always those who don’t have the blessings we have. And I hope that one Christmas, when you least expect it, the Santa Burglar blesses your house as much as he blessed ours.

©PhillipTStephens 2016

About Phillip T. Stephens

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Phillip T. Stephens, a professional educator and writer who developed a number of innovative classroom programs for exceptional and at-risk youth, drew on his own experiences as a minister’s son being frequently moved to new schools as well as those of his students to write Seeing Jesus. He and his wife carol rescue and rescue cats in Austin, Texas for http://www.austinsiameserescue.org/

He is author of Seeing Jesus. A humorous, coming of age story, suitable for Christmas reading, Seeing Jesus introduces young readers to questions of spirituality and philosophy they might not otherwise find the opportunity to explore.

51mzdrcynrl-_uy250_What the readers are saying

“This is an important book that provides positive insights for both for adults and children who have to deal with bullying”.

“Well thought-out, fantastical journey through a spiritual life. Seeing Jesus will challenge you to see yourself.” Jen Winters author, Falling Angels

“A quirky, suspenseful story of school bullying with a surprise ending.” Lynne Murray, author of Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone.

BUY the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Jesus-Phillip-T-Stephens-ebook/dp/B015X2QHII

Also by Phillip T. Stephens

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BUY all the Books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Connect to Phillip T. Stephens

Blog: http://ptstephens.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephens_pt

 

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Party Guest Phillip T. Stephens – Comfort and Hair Balls? You Better Think Twice.


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There are far too many stories about puppies and kittens being given as Christmas gifts and then being given to a sanctuary because the experience is not as joyful as expected. Author Phillip T. Stephens and his wife work with the Austin Siamese Rescue organisation and has written a thought provoking article on the pros and cons of adopting a kitten. So if you are planning on doing so this Christmas, now would be a good time to think things through… and discuss with the whole family.

Comfort and Hair Balls? You Better Think Twice

It’s Christmas, you walk past that pet store or you see the adoption people at the mall and there, staring back at you is the cutest calico kitten you’ve ever seen. Big eyes as though painted on by Margaret Keane, staring at you, pleading, “take me home, take me home.” As Cele so beautifully demonstrates.

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You think, “What a perfect present for the kids. It will teach them responsibility, how to feed and nurture their own pet, change its litter.”

Does Santa have a surprise for you.

Far too many of the kittens purchased as Christmas presents end up at the shelter or with rescue groups like Siamese Rescue. Parents learn far too quickly that their children aren’t ready for the responsibilities of raising a kitten.

They intend to feed Milo, as soon as they finish their homework (didn’t happen), take out the trash (didn’t happen), finish this video game. Or maybe your children do prove to be more responsible than my son, nephews and nieces but many families aren’t prepared for the reality of kittens.[ This includes puppies too. Our first puppy, Pookah, an American Eskimo, in his first two weeks, ripped the wallpaper off the kitchen and bathroom walls, chewed three pairs of Carol’s work shoes, and chewed every wire to connecting my dolby sound system to its speakers]

Kittens may not take to the litter box right away. Kittens chew books, album covers, and important documents. Kittens scratch furniture. Kittens pounce on toes and hair when you’re trying to sleep. (Many adopters think they can fix the furniture scratching by declawing, but that surgery is a cruel, painful process that removes their knuckles and leaves them with no defense against other cats except their teeth.)

Even worse, kittens cry for attention at night. All night.

You might think, how, can Phillip say these things? He’s trying to get us to adopt kitties. Well, actually, I’m not. Austin Siamese Rescue wants to match the right cat to the right family, whether it be a precocious kitten or a mellow middle-aged matron. A good adoption builds the foundation of a successful relationship. Many of our adopters talk to us years later, contact us for friends and refer us to other potential adopters. And who would not want Boyfriend.. in his tuxedo.

image2We don’t want cats coming back because cats suffer depression when their families abandon them. People find this hard to believe, but years of experience taught us that the more homes a cat has been through, the harder they find it to adjust in the future.

Does that mean a kitten is a bad Christmas present? By no means. A new cat can brighten your Christmas like an angel at the top of your tree. But you should adopt a kitten with thought and care. Before your family adopts you should:

Make the adoption a family decision and not a surprise.

If your child has been asking for a pet, make sure to discuss the realities and consequences of pet ownership before surprising them with that cute kitty.

Discuss the potential problems a pet may face adjusting with the rescuer or adopter.
Avoid pet stores and pet mills. They tend to not be responsible for their animals even though they claim otherwise

Consider adopting an older kitty who is older, calmer, more settled and yet makes a great family companion. Kids think they love kittens, but older cats are great with kids and the two often form deep bonds that last a lifetime.

One of the most common reasons cats are returned or surrendered is sudden veterinary expenses. Consider starting a fund, or buying pet insurance for the times when your new pet will need veterinary care. Banking against that possibility helps make sure you keep your family together.

By preparing for your new cat’s Christmas day arrival you can insure a long life of comfort and joy, rather than a return trip to the North Pole on Santa’s sleigh.

Many thanks to my wife Carol and the members of Austin Siamese Rescue for contributing to the advice in this post.

Cele courtesy of Austin Siamese Rescue

Boyfriend courtesy of Austin Siamese Rescue

About Phillip T. Stevens

31njklcfyl-_ux250_

Phillip T. Stephens, a professional educator and writer who developed a number of innovative classroom programs for exceptional and at-risk youth, drew on his own experiences as a minister’s son being frequently moved to new schools as well as those of his students to write Seeing Jesus. He and his wife carol rescue and rescue cats in Austin, Texas for http://www.austinsiameserescue.org/

He is author of Seeing Jesus. A humorous, coming of age story, suitable for Christmas reading, Seeing Jesus introduces young readers to questions of spirituality and philosophy they might not otherwise find the opportunity to explore. 

51mzdrcynrl-_uy250_About the book

An unlikely friendship blossoms into a community…

Eighth grader Sara Love’s parents transplanted her from Austin to the tiny town of Pollen, Texas, where she stands out like a blackhead on a bright red nose. Her father expects her to get along with the Queen Bee Jana Payne, the mayor’s daughter, and the rest of her hive because his business depends on the mayor’s approval. The hive wants nothing to do with Sara, nor does class clown Delbert Thrash, or any of the other kids for that matter.

Sara makes friends with Mr. Fisher, a homeless man, who no one else can see. Mr. Fisher tells Sara wonderful stories, stories that not only entertain her but help her discover resources within herself that allow her to cope with her loneliness and frustration.

Her parents aren’t happy to learn about Mr. Fisher, however, and just when Sara is cast to narrate the Christmas play her classmates learn about Sara’s imaginary friend, too. Sara discovers every dark cloud has even darker clouds pushing past, only when she turns to Mr. Fisher for help, he vanishes.

Can Sarah use Mr. Fisher’s lessons to rise to the occasion, gain her family and friends’ acceptance, not to mention save her father’s job and the Christmas play?

N.B. Phillip T. Stephens will release Seeing Jesus in two versions. This, the Young Adult version, and the unabridged version for adult readers.  Without being doctrinaire, Seeing Jesus provides readers a chance to address questions they will confront in the news, their classes and professional lives.

What the readers are saying

“This is an important book that provides positive insights for both for adults and children who have to deal with bullying”.

“Well thought-out, fantastical journey through a spiritual life. Seeing Jesus will challenge you to see yourself.” Jen Winters author, Falling Angels

“A quirky, suspenseful story of school bullying with a surprise ending.” Lynne Murray, author of Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone.

BUY the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Jesus-Phillip-T-Stephens-ebook/dp/B015X2QHII

Also by Phillip T. Stephens

51ppoog-7pl-_uy250_51xc4-s1xrl-_ac_us240_ql65_51tdyc4ho1l 51-yuumf9l

BUY all the Books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Connect to Phillip T. Stephens

Blog: http://ptstephens.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephens_pt

My thanks to Phillip for this article that really drives home the fact that adopting a pet is not as simple as falling in love and taking it home.. it is a lifetime’s commitment.

I look forward to your feedback and please share this message with your own friends and family off and online. Thanks Sally