Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #Transylvania #History Patricia Furstenberg, #Thriller #Haiti Mark Bierman, #Shortstories Sally Cronin

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

The first review is for the recent release by Patricia Furstenberg – Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

About the book

In Transylvania’s History A to Z, a collection of 100-word stories sprinkled with breathtaking photographs, Patricia Furstenberg uses the confining rules of the 100-word story form to stirringly capture Transylvania, Romania’s historical and geographical region.

Transylvania’s unspoiled natural beauty, its tumultuous history, and the people who touched it are depicted in this book.
Written as snapshots, tall tales, and descriptive narratives, these 100-word stories are the espresso of creative writing.

A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1

Each 100 Words Story is followed by a brief historical reference

The unique beauty of a 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between the sentences. So much can be told, with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader, as each time the tale is read, a new detail springs to mind.

“As an armchair historian, I love researching lost tales, traveling, exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no detail is too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100-Word Stories based on the history of Transylvania.” (Patricia Furstenberg)

An recent review for the book

Anna B 4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing little snippets  Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2021

Ms Furstenberg has written something of a teaser book, an entertaining mix of short sections of lyrical prose and equally brief fact sections that cast glimmers of light on the complicated history of Transylvania, a region that has had more than its fair share of invaders and settlers.

I suspect it is Ms Furstenberg’s intention to tickle the reader’s curiosity–if so, she more than suceeds, as I find myself overcome with an urge to read up about Dacia, about Saxon emigrants to the region, about Vlad himself, about the complex history of modern Romania.

I particularly enjoyed the sections about language: sometimes, we forget that even today we use words our very, very ancient ancestors also used. Ms Furstenberg’s little book helps remind us all that we are all part of a long, long sequence of people, with (hopefully) as many to come after us as have gone before.  

Head over to buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A small selection of other books by Patricia Furstenberg (some in Afrikaans)

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK Blog: Alluring Creations Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @PatFurstenberg

The next author today is Mark Bierman with a review for his novel a thriller set in Haiti, Vanished which I can highly recommend.

About the book

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.

Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

One of the recent reviews for the book

John W. Howell VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written and fast paced story  Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2021

The first thing that impressed me about this book was that the author took on the heinous subject of human trafficking but managed to create a compelling story without resorting to gratuitous graphic violence and sex. Instead, he kept the story within the bounds of true-to-life human emotions.

The second thing that impressed me was the author’s ability to set scenes and describe the action using colorful and descriptive metaphors that frequently occurred throughout the story. Such descriptions brought the book alive.

The third thing that impressed me was the story itself. The author spent a great deal of time on research, and it showed in the details in the story. For example, Haiti’s setting is not on the usual tourist destination list, so common knowledge of customs and other nuances was not because of kicking back on vacation but took work to ferret out.

This book has plenty of action for those who like action. Although, it does require buying into the premise that a couple of Americans want to help find a kidnapped child just to do it. But, once you get there, the story is page-turning entertainment. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a well-written fast-paced story.  

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UK – Follow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

Finally today I would like to share my own news about reviews in the last few weeks. I am so grateful to those who have read the most recent book and also older collections and here are just two.

Patricia Furstenberg Bookbub October 15th

Having thoroughly enjoyed three of Sally Cronin’s previous books, the humorous fiction-memoir ‘ Just an Odd Job Girl’, the flash-fiction ‘Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words’, and the short-stories and poems from ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries’, I knew that ‘Life is a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony’ will be also a treat.

Sally Cronin’s gentle spirit and big heart glow in this charming poetry collection all the way from the acknowledgements’ page where Sally includes two word clouds as a special ‘thank you’ to her writing community 🙂

In ‘Life is a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony’ the reader will discover poems that are pensive, witty, or jocular, sentimental or contemplative (of life, love and nature). The poet ponders on a wide range of themes, from the joys of being alive to the everyday confinement that Covid19 has brought to all humankind, and from nature’s everlasting timeline of to the ticking of inner human clock.
Beautiful pictures point out the essence of the poems.

My absolute favorite poems were the charmingly whimsy ‘The Wise Woman’s Apprentice’ (and I am not even a cat person!) and cool and intellectual ‘The Night Sky.’

‘Life is a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony’ is a contemplative collection that I highly recommend to poetry lovers.  

Oct 15, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing

I’ve read several books by Sally Cronin and she never disappoints.
This collection of short stories takes a name from the second half of the alphabet from K for Kenneth to Z for Zoe for its main characters. The progression through the alphabet is one that clearly has to follow set rules but the stories that accompany them are hugely varied and contain twists that I really enjoyed.

There’s love, grief, joy, hate, revenge and self-sacrifice – a wide range of emotions stirred by an expert wordsmith. The settings are very different from each other, too. There’s everything from a fictitious royal kingdom to a block of flats terrorised by bored teenagers; from WWII pilots to a self-service checkout with a mind of its own; from a fortune teller’s room to a Greek Island. Every one of them has that ability to make you feel deeply for the characters, and the endings are neatly done.

There’s much poignancy is stories such as Lily and Xenia, feel-good factors in Norman and Walter and plenty of humour and surprises in Queenie, Rosemary, Theresa and Yves. Some of these tales are touching accounts of love and loss but others have a delicious edge to them where payback comes into play!

This is a selection box of treats and you never know what flavour you’re getting until the end. I recommend you sample the delights for yourself!

My other books and recent reviews: Sally’s Books and Reviews 2021

Amazon: Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK – More reviews : Goodreads


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


Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Village Square September 3rd 1939 – by Sally Cronin

The Village Square September 3rd 1939 – by Sally Cronin

The church stood on the outskirts of the small Hampshire village of East Stanton. A place of worship had been sited on this mound for centuries and there was evidence that a church had been dedicated there before 700AD. In the 12th century, the present building had been constructed lovingly by local builders and had been renovated, probably by the descendants of those same builders in the 14th and the 19th centuries.

The last changes to the building had been made in Victorian times and had taken ten years. The money for the project had been provided by the then Squire, Richard Cranford whose great grandson, Edward was now the current lord of the manor. There had been Crandfords in East Stanton since the Middle Ages and the family had served the monarchs of the country well throughout the centuries, resulting in gifts of estates in the surrounding countryside.

The years had eroded this massive holding but the squire still owned the largest farm in the area as well as a substantial number of cottages and buildings in and around East Stanton.

In the churchyard to the rear of the grounds lay the well-ordered graveyard. Even the oldest stones stood strongly and the paths and graves themselves were immaculately kept by the team of volunteer gardeners. The most famous son of East Stanton after the squire was a naval captain, Joseph Stephens who had served and died with Nelson at Trafalgar. Nearly 125 years later, his descendants still left flowers on his grave each anniversary and Frederick Stephens who owned the butcher’s shop in the square proudly displayed a portrait of his illustrious ancestor on the wall of his establishment.

Generations of young men from East Stanton had served at sea. Like many villages in Hampshire that lay close to Portsmouth, joining the Royal Navy was an adventure that attracted many a farm boy reluctant to follow his father onto the land or serve the Squire. Not many of those that served their country in the navy were buried in the small graveyard and in many cases, there were no gravestones anywhere, simply burial at sea. Over the last three hundred years, the women of the village had mourned their husbands and sons and today several widows of the First World War stood together hands clasped for comfort.

On this Sunday morning in early September, the small church was packed and many looked to the front pew where Edward Cranford, his wife Celia and their three children Elisabeth, Amelia and Teddy bowed their heads in prayer. The church was so packed that many of the men stood silently at the rear of the church, hats in hand and heads bowed. As the hands of the clock in the bell tower moved slowly towards the quarter hour, the silence in this holy place intensified.

The vicar, John Hogg looked out at his congregation and for a moment, his eyes rested on his own family in the choir stalls. His wife Bess looked up from her prayers and she smiled encouragingly at him. She placed her arms around her two daughters, Veronica and Grace as they stood by her side and she breathed deeply as she watched her husband move to the side of the altar.

John had brought their radio from the vicarage and he now placed it on a table in the centre of the aisle and switched the set on. At first, there was just hissing and static and then as the church clock struck 11.15, a voice could be heard clearly, filling the building with chilling clarity.

Normally the Sunday service began at 11.00 to allow for the congregation who were mainly from the farming community to complete their early morning milking and other essential jobs. This morning however, the church had begun to fill up shortly after 10.00 as word of this morning’s events filtered through the efficient grapevine maintained in the village itself and surrounding farms and cottages. By 10.30, the church had been packed and John Hogg had decided that his parishioners obviously needed to be together on what could be a momentous day in history. He too had heard the announcement made by the BBC as he was finishing his breakfast. The country was on standby for a speech from the Prime Minister at 11.15 and everyone knew that following the events of the last two days, this speech was likely to change the lives of every one in the country forever.

As he watched his friends and family standing with heads bowed, he knew that they would be remembering another time. They had promised that it would be a war to end all wars and that the sacrifice of so many would ensure peace for all time. The monument in the centre of the village square was testament to that sacrifice and there was hardly a family in the village that had not lost a father, brother, son or husband to that assurance. He himself had served in the trenches and been wounded twice before returning home to take holy orders. His two brothers had not been so fortunate and somewhere in a cemetery in Northern France, simple crosses marked their graves.

“I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany. Now may God bless you all. May He defend the right. It is the evil things that we shall be fighting against, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution and against them I am certain that the right will prevail”.

There was a sharp intake of breath from the assembled villagers. Suddenly a cry fractured the silence and a woman collapsed against her friends and began to sob uncontrollably.
Within minutes, the whole congregation was hugging and talking. Women cried on their husband’s shoulders and mother’s clasped embarrassed sons in their arms, desperately trying to hold onto them and keep them from harm.

The news was not unexpected, since 1938, the country had been preparing for war, and it was generally understood that a conflict with Germany was a certainty. Men from the First World War who were in the reserves or those serving in the Territorial Army had been mobilised.

Conscription had been abandoned after the First World War but by 1939 there were around 200,000 soldiers in the British Army. This was not going to be enough men to take on the might of the German forces and earlier in the year, the Government had introduced the Military Training Act. This act meant that all men between the ages of 20 and 21 years old had to register for six months military training. Some occupations were classified as ‘reserved’ and essential to the war effort and many a mother in the congregation was grateful that farmers and their workers were exempt. There had been talk of conscription being introduced for all men between the ages of 18 and 41 who were not in reserved occupations and those boys who were eligible to be drafted and some older men looked at each other in silence.

At the back of the church stood a group of men in their fifties and sixties, many of whom had served in the First War. They had already formed into groups of Special Constables and Air Raid Wardens, trained and ready to deal with a very new type of warfare that would be waged in the skies and in bombing raids.

There was no doubt in all the villagers’ minds that every single one of them would be affected in some way by the finality of the news today.

The vicar moved amongst the men, women and bewildered children, trying to give comfort but fighting his own feelings of fear and dismay. He felt guilty as he gave thanks for having no sons, only two daughters, but knew that many of the young men stood with their families today would not be here when and if peace was declared. He took a deep breath and moved out of the dark and cool church into the sunshine. The squire and his family followed him down the aisle and stood with him as he shook each hand that was outstretched towards him.

Edward Cranford had served in the Army Flying Corps in the First World War and was no stranger to fear and violence. Like John, he knew what was ahead but as he clasped the hands of the young men of the village, he could see in them the fire and desire to serve that he and his many dead comrades had felt when war had been declared in 1914. His son Teddy was 18 years old and was already planning on a career in the army. He shuddered as he fought back the feelings of panic and knew that the die was now cast and he just hoped to God that it would be over quickly and without the horrendous loss of life of the first conflict.

By the time the last parishioner had left the small church, John felt exhausted. He was aware that his job would now change from a peacetime role as vicar of a country church to comforter and bearer of bad news. As the young men clustered together and talked excitedly, he wondered how many of their parents he would be visiting over the coming months and years to bring solace and faith.

He felt a hand slip into his own and looked down to the blonde head resting on his shoulder.

“John, let’s go home please, I need to be with just you and the girls right now.”

Bess had lost a brother at the Somme and they had met when John had visited her parents after the war. He had served with Peter and been with him when he was killed and this had brought a bittersweet essence to the early days of their romance.

Their daughters Veronica and Grace were eighteen and nineteen and knew all the local boys from the various Saturday night dances held in the tennis, football and cricket clubs. There had been no serious romances but he could see from their pinched faces that they were afraid and upset. He put his arms around their shoulders and smiled at Bess.

“Come on darling, let’s get these girls home and get lunch on. We can sit in the garden and talk about what is going to happen and how we can all help our friends in the village get through this next few days and weeks.”

The two girls smiled at their father and hugged him closer. They were bright girls and had questioned him ceaselessly about his time in the army, fascinated by his scars and eager to find something noble in what they had initially felt was one huge adventure. John had told them of that time without glorifying his role and over time, they came to understand the pain of both their father and mother’s losses.

However, their mother knew that her daughters were not immune to the glamour of seeing their childhood friends in uniform and suspected that for the younger generation of the village, the horrors and devastation of war would be tempered with excitement for the opportunities it could offer.

As the family walked around the side of the church and through the graveyard, Bess reflected on the number of young men who had left East Stanton for the army and navy and who never returned. She thought about all the young men who had been in the service this morning and felt incredible sorrow for the life that they would now choose out of honour and loyalty to their country. Please God it would be over quickly and that they would all come home safe.

The Cranfords climbed into their car and drove up the hill, past the mill and through the square. Their house faced the war memorial and Edward slowed as the car drove past. Two of his cousins and his older brother’s name were inscribed on the monument and he could recite all the names on the list by heart. These were his people and his responsibility. He was too old to serve in the armed forces now but he would do what ever he could to protect both the village and its inhabitants from as much hardship as possible. There was no point in sitting around waiting for anyone in authority to do something, as they would have their hands full dealing with the enormity of the broader picture.

As he maneuvered the car into the drive at the side of the house and onto the large gravel area at the rear of the house, he made a mental note of the people he would need to get together to put plans into action. Apart from the Special Constables and Air Raid Wardens he would need to speak to all the shopkeepers, the doctor and matron of the local nursing home to ensure that they were ready for whatever events took place including refugees and food shortages.

He glanced over his shoulder at his son Teddy in the back seat and Teddy smiled back at his father. He appeared to have gone from a boy to a man in the time it had taken the Prime Minister to make his fateful announcement. His two daughters looked tearful and both held their brother’s hands tightly on their laps as if to keep him close.

In the homes and farms of East Stanton, the normally jovial Sunday lunches were subdued. Parlours were opened up and families came together from around the county to talk about the news and draw comfort from each other throughout the afternoon

As the warm summer day drew to a close, in the distance, the church bells rang out for evening service and as one, the villagers returned to their place of worship to face the future together.

@Sally Cronin 2015

Thanks for dropping in today and as always your comments are very welcome… Sally.

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: :Sally’s books and reviews

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Poetry Sue Vincent, #Fantasy Vashti Quiroz-Vega, #Shortstories Sally Cronin

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe updates with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author is Sue Vincent with a recent review for her poetry collection Life Lines.

About the Collection.

“The pen paints the souls longing in jewel tones.”

A collection of fifty-two poems of life, love and inspiration.

There are joys for which we cannot find expression, moments that have a depth of emotion that can only be shared in images. It is here that poetry comes into its own, for the pictures we paint with words can conjure all the emotions of the human heart. From solitude to passion, from aspiration to the quest for the soul’s inner light, we seek to find ways to share our journey through life, to witness our footsteps as we pass through its shifting sands and cast a reflection on time itself. The poet is both mirror and reflection, framing the images of a human life and giving them a beating heart.

One of the recent reviews for Life Lines

Balroop Singh 5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite poetry Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2021

Life Lines’ by Sue Vincent highlights the paths of life we traverse – from innocent laughter to the snowy lanes of life, from the depths of sorrow to the light that beckons us, from the abyss of tears to the memories that pull us out; whether it is past or present, life is woven with delicate threads that bind us into a “purpose” and inspire us to “fall in love with life at every passing day.”

Sue’s poetry flows like a steady stream that takes in all the upheavals in its stride and absorbs them, keeping the hope alive. She has a unique style of playing with the symbols that reach your heart:
“flames caress the moon,” for the glow of sunset,
“scattered motes of possibility in the darkness,” for the stars,
“two ravens” for thought and memory, “winter leaf” for self,
“heart-beat of earth” for sea,
“shadows in the glass” for joy and pain.

While ‘Flowers’ brilliantly captures the journey of a woman, ‘I’ emphasizes how the choices of life are snatched away from us unawares! ‘Door of Dreams’ exhorts us to rise from our inner world to “face the demons of today” and look beyond. There are many such poems that would inspire you to keep the flame of hope aloft. I felt ‘Sunset’ could be one of my favorites but then ‘Just One’ mesmerized me with the thoughts of how many kinds of love encompasses us. Each poem exudes an emotion, profound yet subtle.

The poems in this collection need to be savored slowly, to be re-read with sips of your favorite tea, coffee or wine. Highly recommended.

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

A selection of Sue’s books and those written with Stuart France.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UKand: Amazon USBlog: S.C. VincentGoodreads:Sue Vincent – Twitter:@SCVincent

The next author with a recent review is Vashti Quiroz-Vega for The Rise of Gadreel (Fantasy Angels Series Book 3)

About the book

In The Fall of Lilith, award-winning author Vashti Quiroz-Vega took readers inside the gates of heaven for a front-row seat to Lucifer’s rebellion. In Son of the Serpent, she introduced Dracúl, tormented offspring of fallen angels. Now, in The Rise of Gadreel, Quiroz-Vega is back with the next chapter in her Fantasy Angels saga—a gripping tale of hope and redemption set against the fiery backdrop of a demon’s insatiable thirst for power and revenge.

Lilith is gone, suffering the torments of the damned in hell. Satan, once known as Lucifer, endures endless agony in an earthly prison. Yet their foul legacy lives on, spread by a corrupted priesthood that uses the blackest magic to fan the flames of evil and hate throughout the world.

The former angel Gadreel, who fought and fell alongside Lilith and Lucifer, only to join Dracúl in his fight against them, is weary of war. Repenting of past sins, she wants nothing more than to be left in peace. But when a new threat to humankind arises, Gadreel is given the chance she has prayed for—the chance to earn God’s forgiveness.

Now, with the aid of Dracúl and a trio of uncanny allies—a man of air, a man of stone, and a woman of fire—at her side, Gadreel must find the courage to confront her past and forge a new future for herself . . . and the world.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Colleen M. Chesebro 5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting characters you will not forget! A soul-satisfying read!  Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2021

The Rise of Gadreel is the third and final book in Vashti Q. Vega’s Fantasy Angel Series.

Using the blackest of magic, Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan figures a way out of his earthly prison by infiltrating a corrupt priesthood. As expected, it isn’t long before a terrible new evil invades the world.

Tired of the fight, Gadreel only wants to repent her past sins and find peace. She seeks God’s forgiveness, regretting her decision to fight alongside Lilith and Lucifer and the other fallen angels. She knows it’s now up to her and Dracúl to fight this new terror and to save humanity.

Along with a trio of extraordinary allies—a man of air, a man of stone, and a woman of fire—at her side, Gadreel finds the courage to defy her past and create a new future for herself and the world.

I’ve loved each book in this series, but Gadreel’s story was the most soul satisfying for me. The writing is riveting, and I read long into the night. The author weaves her magic by combining historical facts from the Dark Ages, along with a few tales from the Bible to create a story like no other.

Written from both the protagonist and antagonist views, the reader glimpses the battle between good and evil first hand—but not for the faint of heart. There were a few parts that made me squirm. Yet, in the end, I was sad to let the characters go. A must read unforgettable series!

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

Also by Vashti Quiroz Vega

Read the reviews and buy the books :Amazon US and : Amazon UK – Follow Vashti : Goodreads – website:Vashti – WordPress – Twitter: @VashtiQV

And finally I would like to share one of the recent reviews for my latest book.. Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet by [Sally Cronin]

About the collection

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.

The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.

Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.

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

One of the recent reviews for the book

Feb 22, 2021 Alex Craigie rated it five stars it was amazing
Until the pandemic struck, I only read full-length novels. I thought that short stories might be shallow and unsatisfying in comparison. When we went into lockdown, here was my chance to get on with some meaty reading. But I couldn’t. I’ve been restless and unfocussed and when Sally Cronin’s Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries was recommended to me I decided to give it a go. How wrong I’d been about short stories!
I loved this book. The sub heading of Sometimes bitter, Sometimes Sweet is apt as the stories covered a wide range of experiences and each one touched me in different ways. Sally Cronin understands people. Her descriptions of relationships will strike a chord with everyone who reads this collection.
The tone varies, which added to the pleasure for me: wry, humorous, sad, reflective, vengeful, sweet. Some of the characters I positively enjoyed disliking and it was immensely satisfying when they got their comeuppance, others squeezed my heart but I was never left without hope for them.
The plots were neat, too. The first in the book was delightful, very funny but also a touch macabre. Gaffer Tape managed to condense a whole novel of abuse into a few powerful pages with an ending that made me want to cheer. Animals feature in some of these tales and Sally’s love of creatures is evident in the closely observed behaviours and in their impact upon humans. The story about the badly treated guard dog was one of my favourites and left me moved by the innate goodness evident in most people.
Scattered like precious gems throughout the book are exquisite poems. These aren’t rambling sagas; they’re expertly crafted delights that follow strict rules such as the syllabic form of cinquains. The results are stunning in their ability to condense a world of meaning into a few considered words.
I’m a convert now and will be looking out for more collections of short stories by this amazing author.

My other books

Read the reviews and buy the books: :Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Sally on Goodreads:Goodreads – Blog: Smorgasbord InvitationTwitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin
Thanks for visiting today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews #Thriller Mary Adler, #Writing Jane Sturgeon, #Shortstories Sally Cronin

Welcome to the first of the author updates in 2020 with recent reviews for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author with a recent review is for Mary Adler and her wartime mystery Shadowed by Death An Oliver Wright WW II Mystery Book 2.

About Shadowed by Death

San Francisco, 1944. Sophia Nirenska, a Polish resistance fighter who survived the Warsaw ghetto uprising, finds safety in California until someone tries to kill her. She insists political enemies want to silence her, but homicide detective Oliver Wright, on medical leave from the Marines, believes the motive is more personal. He and his German shepherd, Harley, try to protect Sophia, but she insists on doing things her own way—a dangerous decision.

Oliver guards Sophia as they travel from an Italian cafe in Richmond to communist chicken farmers in Petaluma where her impetuous actions put them both in mortal danger.

When Oliver rescues a girl and her dog who are running for their lives, he discovers the dark secret at the heart of the threat to Sophia, a secret with its roots in Poland. When he does, he is forced to choose between enforcing the law as he knows it and jeopardizing Sophia or accepting a rougher kind of justice.

Shadowed by Death accurately portrays the fears and troubles of the communities of northern California as they bear the burdens of World War II and celebrate the gift of finding family among strangers.

A recent review for the book

This story has everything: mystery, suspense, espionage, humanity, feeling, and more.

Sophia is on a dangerous crusade to raise money to aid Jewish children spread across many countries after WWII and to support the cause of “Free Poland.” After an attempt on her life, a homicide detective, Oliver, is given the task of protecting her. Recuperating from his war injury, Oliver brings his dog, Harley, to help.

Sophia uncovers information the Russians want kept secret. As the danger rises, so does the mystery. Sophia and Oliver race to uncover the truth.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Also by Mary Adler

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Mary: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her website: Mary Adler Writes

My next author is a new addition to the Cafe and Bookstore at the end of 2019, Jane Sturgeon with a recent review for her non-fiction  Writing on Water: Self Awareness.

About the book

Each one of us holds stories about ourselves and these drive our lives. Thoughts are attached to emotions and actions spring from how we feel. Old stories can be re-written, new stories can be crafted and discoveries are made along the way. It is the tapestry of life and yes, you can weave with whatever threads you choose. Loving support, fresh perspectives and new life tools can make all the difference.

A recent review for the book

Life is a journey. When you amass knowledge and experience, it’s a generous and caring gift to offer that information to others. Jane Sturgeon has done so with her book, Writing on Water: Self-awareness. I became acquainted with this author through her blog, where she shares advice, thoughts, and feedback with others. Based on what she’s accomplished and undertaken in her life thus far, the words and wisdom will benefit many readers.

The book is on the shorter side, perhaps an intro for more to come from this author. Her advice in this edition focuses on tenderness, knowing when enough is enough, sea glass impressions, instincts, things we love, getting all twisted up, being hijacked (emotionally), and staying small. Within each of these sections, Jane shares a life experience, not always a positive one, that led to her awakening or spiritual conflict. Considering what to do when in a difficult relationship? Frustrated by people who try to take over your life? Uncertain how to relax and just let time tell you what you need to do? All these questions and many more come to the surface.

The book is not religious; if anything, I’d say it’s spiritual, forming a connection with the natural world and the silence around us. In a moment of need, Jane was thoroughly nervous and angry about a situation she had to handle. All the negativity almost ensured her situation would conclude far worse than she hoped, but something intervened, and in the end, Jane was given a gift. What a wonderful way to see your life turn around, even in smaller increments, when you need it to. I was most impressed by Jane’s life experience between 18 and 21 in South Africa. She had tons of courage and conviction, something I don’t think I could’ve found in my youth.

So… if you’d like to read about a wonderfully kind and open-minded woman’s opinions, learn from a life coach, and determine what might need some change in your life, this would be a good intro book, as it’s filled with tangible evidence of how altering her mindset helped Jane move forward. I’m glad to have the opportunity to read the book and share a review with you. The last line is the best… and I won’t share it all… but I will say “held us back from flowing with authenticity” is an eye-opening section.

Head over and buy the book: Amazon UK

And Amazon US: Amazon US

Connect to Jane via her blog: Jane Sturgeon WordPress

And I am celebrating too as I start the year with some recent reviews including one for my first short story collection Flights of Fancy published ten years ago.

About Flights of Fancy

Ghosts, romance, friendship of all kinds and revenge form the basis of this collection of short stories. Ghosts hint at a chance of coming back to say goodbye, exact a little payback, or simply to help someone else carry on living. Romance is not just for the young and nor are second chances. As for revenge, well… Never underestimate a group of elderly ladies with contacts from the past.

A recent review for the collection

An inviting book of short stories sure to reach various emotions from heartwarming to mystery and always with a twist at the end from this author.

Cronin’s knack for being able to write across several genres is a gift, and that’s what we’re getting in this ‘smorgasbord’ of stories, which no matter the genre, will always bring out a tenderness or justice in the end of her stories.

Flights of Fancy offers 11 short stories. From the story of Trust, a beautifully painted setting with sorrow and one bright spot from a canine visitor, to The Sewing Circle, an engaging short about a senior sewing club with a lot of spunk getting caught up in the crime happening around them, bringing a host of emotions together in one quaint, but suspenseful and satisfactory tale of justice. Cronin also takes us into The Other Side of Heaven, in a moving story in usual Cronin style, with a twist and a tear. How about a motivating psychic parrot who helps to solve one woman’s marital dilemma? No matter the storyline, Cronin knows how to engage an audience with her vivid stories on various subject matters, then wraps them all up with her sentimental touch and always a satisfying ending. Whether on mysteries, humor or heartwarming stories, Cronin has her own special way of bringing in the human condition to all her stories.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

A selection of other Ebooks

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Goodreads

Thank you very much for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to add to your reading list… thanks Sally.


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #ContemporaryReligious Jeanine Lunsford, #Flash Geoff Le Pard, #WesternFantasy Jean Lee, #Shortstories Sally Cronin

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I have shared all the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review… Today is the last of those author updates (including for myself!) However, I will continue the Christmas Book Fair until next week and include any further recent updates I find.

The first featured book is the latest release from Jeanine Lunsford… With Unbreakable Love (The Rivera Sisters Series Book 3) which is contemporary religious fiction.

About the book

Carina Rivera has everything going for her–her fiancé, Mark is her perfect complement and ideal partner, and her love for his baby, ReeRee has helped her through the pain of losing her own daughter.

But on the night before her wedding, Carina becomes paralyzed with self-doubt. Is she ready to say her vows or is there something lurking inside her that doesn’t belong in her marriage with a good and godly man like Mark? Is the “bad Rivera sister”–the woman she’d been before she knew Mark, hiding somewhere deep inside her soul? Is there still a part of her that longs for her ex-husband, Aaron Mendoza, the man whose abuse had almost destroyed her life?

When Carina asks God to prove to her that the bad Rivera sister is finally gone, she has no idea that God is about to answer her prayer in an unexpected way. Will the earth-shattering events that are about to take place shake her faith, or will they help Carina become the woman she’s always wanted to be?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Dianne Maness Johnson 5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent December 10, 2019
After reading the first two Rivera Sisters books, I was in anticipation for this book to arrive. Got started reading it and couldn’t put it down and stayed up really late to finish reading it. As I traveled along with Carina on her journey, I began to feel hope for my own situation. Pure inspiration ⭐️ Excellent read ! Excellent Author !
Also by Jeanine Lunsford

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on :Amazon UK

And read more reviews and follow Jeanine on : Goodreads

Connect to Jeanine via her website: Jeanine Lunsford

Now from the master of Flash Fiction  is a collection from Geoff Le Pard, appropriately entitled.. Life in a Flash.

About Life in a Flash

Life is fast, life is short. In a series of short fiction pieces, most under 500 words, we explore the world, its inhabitants and their trials and tribulations, their ups and downs and sideways shifts, all with humour and decent grammar. You’ll find something to amuse and intrigue here and if, unlikely as it is, one piece isn’t for you, well, turn the page and start again.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Aug 13, 2019 D. Peach rated it Five Stars
This generous collection of flash fiction is full of quirky humor. Le Pard has a way of exaggerating recognizable human interactions and bringing to light their inherent nonsense in a fresh and delightful way. I kept opening my Kindle during the night to read one or two more.But humor isn’t the only offering on the book’s pages. Sprinkled among the laughs are some poignant stories that strum the heartstrings, and some social commentary that points to the human condition and the current struggles faced by many. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy flash fiction and a clever and imaginative take on life.

A selection of other books by Geoff Le Pard


Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And :Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Geoff on: Goodreads

Connect to Geoff via his blog: Geoff Le Pard

And the next author is Jean Lee with a western that is also an historical fantasy... Night’s Tooth (Tales of the River Vine Book 1)

About Night’s Tooth

Mississippi River Valley, 1870s. The white man wields rails and guns to bring law to the land. But there are more than wild animals hiding in the territories, and it will take more than guns to bring them down.

Sumac the bounty hunter needs no guns to hunt any bandit with a price on his head, even one as legendary and mysterious as Night’s Tooth. But Sumac didn’t count on other bounty hunters coming along as competition, nor did he expect hunters sharing his own magical gifts.

It’s one man against a gang and a mystery, all to protect a train that must cross the territories at all costs…

Inspired by classics like For a Few Dollars More and fantasy cult favorites like Highlander, “Night’s Tooth” is a western with a fantasy edge set in the Fallen Princeborn universe.

One of the recent reviews for the book

9 October 2019

In the Mississippi River Valley, during the latter part of the nineteenth century, bounty hunter Sumac seeks shadowy bandit, Night’s Tooth. However, though gifted with magical powers, Sumac isn’t the only one tracking the mysterious outlaw, and he’ll need to keep his wits about him if he aims to get the better of Sheriff Jenson and the golden boys…

A mix of classic western and fantasy, Jean Lee’s novella is set on the edges of her Princeborn universe (see Fallen Princeborn: Stolen). Her use of language is delightful, with an unusual writing style that’s as clever as it is original. The characters are an interesting lot, too, (like the Sherriff with the squirrel-tails moustache). Drop them all into an atmospheric Clint Eastwood-type setting, and there’s plenty of action to keep the reader guessing what’s coming next.

Unlike Fallen, this one isn’t aimed at Young Adult readers, but if you like cowboy stories with a dollop of the weird and strange, this’ll be right up your old west Main Street.

Also by Jean Lee

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

You can find more reviews and follow Jean Lee on: Goodreads

Connect to Jean via her website: Jean Lee’s World

And last author in the bookstore, but hopefully not least… my latest collection and one of the early reviews..

About Life’s Rich Tapestry

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

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

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

One of the early reviews for the book

In her latest excellent mixed-media book, Life’s Rich Tapestry (2019), Sally Cronin delivers a wide and varied collection of writing styles and themes, all with the goal of enriching the tapestry of the reader’s life. She covers nature, humanity, faeries, remembering, pets, and more in varied writing styles including Haiku, Tanka, Etheree, Cinquain, 99 word fiction, short stories, speculative fiction, and others.

Each style comes with its own challenges–as those who write in them know–but Cronin moves through them with equal ease and mastery. The challenges of writing micro fiction (like Haikus and 99 word fiction) require a story–be it fact or fiction–told quickly in bitesize chunks that no one can skip over or get bored with. Here are a few examples:

Stop and smell the roses

As recommended I stopped to smell the roses
precious time well spent.

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for magical buds to appear
when the tempest has passed and sun returns to warm.

Old Soldiers

And, although khaki and merits
are returned to their boxes,
the memories remain
etched upon their hearts
their minds and dreams,
where comrades
haunt them

A Dog’s Life

They take no heed of the passing of time,
nor do they see into the future.
There are crucial priorities
that have to be considered.
Walks, sleep, play and their food.
But, above all else
they worship you,
as leader
of their

Sally’s longer fiction shows the artistry she can unveil when she digs deeper into topics and themes. More than a twitter novel, different than a poem, Cronin took this challenge and delivered admirably. Here’s one of my favorites.

The Junkyard Dog

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

What a beautiful experience it was reading this book.

A selection of my other books… and until Christmas Day you may take your pick of these books, either in Mobi for Kindle or Epub for other devices by simply emailing me on

You can find all my books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

And more reviews and to follow me on: Goodreads

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm..thanks Sally.