Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

You READ – but do you leave REVIEWS? – by Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape)


A reminder to all of us that reviews are very important to authors and even a few words can make a big difference to the sales of the book and to the author.

You READ – but do you leave REVIEWS? – by Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape)


A stack of books and words Read - Review - Repeat

If not, why not?

I don’t have time

The author probably spent a heck of a lot more time writing the story than you took to read it, no matter how slow you think you are, so why not take a few minutes to record your feelings about it.

I can’t write long fancy reviews like those I see on book review blogs


Head over to read the post in full.. thanks Sally.

via You READ – but do you leave REVIEWS? – by Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape)

Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT With Team Member @judithbarrow77


If you are looking for a book to read and honest reviews for recommendations, then Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team is a great place to find them. Having recently celebrated 6 years of reviewing books, it is great to meet the team in person and in this post, a favourite author of mine, Judith Barrow.. Please head over to find out how Judith approaches reviewing a book.

Recently we celebrated our review team’s six year anniversary by revealing fourteen of the team’s favourite books.

You can find out which books they were in part one and part two.

I invited some of my team members to tell us more about being part of the book reviewing team.

Welcome to Judith Barrow, who also writes book reviews at Judith Barrow Blog

“It’s your review; to write as you want”. I carried  this advice from Rosie Amber (#RBRT) around in my head as I struggled to find a way to put into words what I thought about the first book I’d read and was about to review for her team. I’d never reviewed a book before – or anything, come to think of it.


via Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT With Team Member @judithbarrow77

MarySmith’sPlace – School visit and my first foreign language joke – Afghanistan adventures#43


Mary Smith with another fabulous post about her time working in Afghanistan in 1989… so many things we take for granted and in some cases lack respect for.. such as going to school. And Mary tells her first joke in Dari.. which went down very well…please head over to read in full..


Lal-sar-Jangal November 1989

IMG_0015 (Custom)

The headmaster had asked Qurban to bring me to see the village school. Although our organisation did not provide financial support directly to schools, we acted as couriers for donor organisations in Germany, delivering funds and sending back reports and funding requests. In this way we had quite strong links with several schools. The school in Lal had been open for several years and, although it was only for boys plans were in place to open classes for girls the following year, when new school premises had been built.

Ibrahim was to accompany us, for which I was glad. He, more than any of the other staff, had the ability to understand what I was trying to say, even when it was coming out all wrong.  When I had difficulties understanding something, it was Ibrahim who could usually find a different way to phrase things until the meaning was clear.  When we were ready to leave Qurban said, ‘You go on ahead. I’ll catch you up when I finish some work here.’

I followed Ibrahim out of the compound to where our horses awaited and Rahimy joined us, just before we reached the school, riding up sporting a magnificent turban.

IMG_0019 (Custom)

The headmaster, standing at the doorway of the school was clearly upset by Qurban’s non-appearance – having two lowly field assistants as guests, instead of the big “doctor” was an insult.  On behalf of Qurban, Rahimy apologised, delivering the message about him having ‘too much work’.  Ibrahim spoke to him in a placatory way. Finally, he shrugged and led us into the two-roomed school.

Please head over to read this informative and thought provoking post…

via MarySmith’sPlace – School visit and my first foreign language joke – Afghanistan adventures#43

CarolCooks2…weekly roundup 5th July -11th July 2020…Climate Change, Recipes, Health, Whimsy, and Jerk Fish…


Another information and food filled week from Carol Taylor as she tackles Climate Change and waste head on and shares delicious recipes along with a good dose of whimsy… and you might have heard of Jerk Pork and Chicken… but how about Jerk Fish?  I hope you will head over to enjoy Carol’s round up.

CarolCooks2…weekly roundup 5th July -11th July 2020…Climate Change, Recipes, Health, Whimsy, and Jerk Fish…

Welcome to this week’s edition of my weekly roundup of posts…I hope you are all staying safe and well…and social distancing…I know many of you are on lockdown once again…Let’s hope it is for the last time, stay safe and strong…Here’s something to take your mind of what’s going on…Let’s take a pew and have a read… I hope you enjoy it!

Relax and Enjoy! (1) Weekly Roundup

Monday always starts with Climate change as there is always something new to discover…This week was no different…Recycling and Climate Change… 6th July 2020…

It seems the last few months have brought about many changes, on the one hand, everyone is cooking far more and wasting less food but recycling seems to be on the wane apparently due to the increase on takeaways and maybe collections.



Please head over to read the post in full..thanks Sally.



via CarolCooks2…weekly roundup 5th July -11th July 2020…Climate Change, Recipes, Health, Whimsy, and Jerk Fish…

The Delta Pearl 40 — Plummet


An action packed episode of the Delta Pearl today (even more than usual) Teagan Geneviene has put her heroine Émeraude, in dire straits way up above the town and heading toward the river.. will her rescuer, Randall Needleman be able to hang on…and will they reach the water in time before they fall?  You will have to read the post in full to find out…

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 40 — Plummet

Khusen Rustamov at Pixabay
Khusen Rustamov at Pixabay

For a brief moment we floated, supported by the parasol on a sudden gust of wind.  Randal Needleman and I were high above everything, the buildings, the press of coaches and wagons, and the people along the riverfront.  Naturally, everything happened much faster than I can tell about it.

Onyx appeared.  His brass talons latched onto my sleeve.  His clockwork wings flapped furiously as he tried to pull us toward the scant safety of the river.  I prayed for another burst of wind.

The noxious brown cloud descended toward us.  Randall began to cough, but he kept his tight hold around my waist.  I wished I could give him the breathing apparatus he had strapped around my head before he cut me loose from the net.

In the distance I saw the Delta Pearl.  She was going faster than a riverboat could possibly move… but after all, she was the Delta Pearl.

Speeding ahead of the riverboat I saw her naptha launch.  The forward part of the launch was covered by a roof-like shell.  Obsidian Durango, the Cadet, clung to the top of it.  I thought Sid was trying to attach something to the corners of the roof.

I couldn’t see who piloted the small craft, but the person standing at the back was not one of the crew.  However, the warning klaxon had sounded.  That meant no one would leave the riverboat unless the Captain ordered them.  For the Delta Pearl to travel a such a speed, all hands would be needed.

Cairo Illinois panoramic map 1885 H Willbe Wikipedia
Cairo Illinois panoramic map, 1885 H Willbe, Wikipedia

The launch accelerated and bumped on the water.  Sid lost his hold.  The Cadet slid from the little roof but managed to grab the jackstaff.  The flag, supported by the wind of speed, slapped his head repeatedly and sharply, threatening to break his hold.

The figure standing at the back of the launch hurried forward to help him.  It was a woman in simple clothes.  That would be the governess, Azalea Morton.  The pilot leaned out from the enclosure ready to help.  The clothes were those of a teenaged boy, the supposed charge of the governess.

His hat blew off into the wind.  A long tail of hair tumbled free.  Alex Rice had just exposed “his” fakery to anyone who might have been watching.  Were all eyes on Randall Needleman and me as we plummeted toward the earth?  Or was the runaway society wife, Exilda Ritchie now revealed to those who would force her to leave her lover, Azalea, and return to the scheming philandering husband who cheated her of her fortune?

Head over to read the rest of this exciting episode..

via The Delta Pearl 40 — Plummet

MarySmith’sPlace -Back in the saddle, bribery and injections Afghanistan adventures#42


This week as we follow Mary Smith at the clinic in Lal in Afghanistan, we see first hand the devastation that abject poverty and lack of food wreaks on a community and family. In the Western world it is estimated that we waste an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year.  I am sure as you read Mary’s post this week it will give you something to think about with regard to food as it did me. thanks Sally.

MarySmith’sPlace -Back in the saddle, bribery and injections Afghanistan adventures#42

Lal-sar-Jangal, Hazaristan – early winter 1989

IMG_0007 (Custom)

Next day, Slowcoach had obviously decided to accept her fate and make the best of a bad job.  She kept moving, if somewhat reluctantly, until we reached the home of Qurban’s patient, Nasir – after four hours.

After we had eaten, Nasir produced some apples. They were so very small and bruised I, at first, assumed they were for the horses. But they were for us. Other than Khudadad’s gift of a melon, they were the first fruit, I’d seen since arriving in Lal. In the summer months, melons are available, brought from Bamiyan, but bananas, oranges, tomatoes are never seen. When Bashir had shown me his English ABC book I’d pointed to the picture of an orange, asking him the Dari word for it. He shook his head, ‘It has no word in Dari,’ he replied. I said there must be, but he insisted there was not. When asked, Qurban explained Bashir had never seen an orange in his life, and assumed there was only an English name for it.

Lal’s climate was certainly not suitable for growing much in the way of fruit. It is only warm three months in the year, the soil is poor, and few farmers have enough land to grow sufficient wheat for their needs, so even vegetables are rarely grown – a few potatoes and turnips. It was hardly surprising so many children in Lal suffered from a variety of health problems caused by poor nutrition. Feeling guilty about even thinking of giving Slowcoach my precious apple, I bit into it as though it was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted.

Nasir brought his wife and children into the room to meet me. With the exception of the smallest baby – only a few weeks old – all the children had running noses and skin infections, head-lice and, possibly, scabies.

IMG_0011 (Custom)


Please head over to Mary’s blog to read the post in full and leave your comments.. thanks Sally

via MarySmith’sPlace -Back in the saddle, bribery and injections Afghanistan adventures#42

June Book Reviews


Diana Wallace Peach shares her recommended reads for June with great reviews for books from Ailish Sinclair, Maggie Stiefvater, Marcia Meara,  Noelle Granger, Judith Barrow, John W. Howell,  Frank Prem, James J. Cudney and Jessica Bakkers. If you are looking for your next read.. check out these four and five star reviews.

June Book Reviews

If you’re out and about, take a book with you on your wanderings. If you’re stuck at home, here are some reads to while away the time.

This month my offering of reviews includes fantasy, historical fiction, poetry, a thriller, a murder mystery, and more. I hope you enjoy browsing my 4 and 5-star reviews.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.


The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

I finished this book a few days ago and it’s stuck with me. I didn’t realize until I’d reached the end that it’s historical fiction based loosely on real women in 16th century Scotland when witches were rounded up, tortured, and murdered. Somehow it was easier to read when I thought it was pure fiction. After getting to know the characters, the author might as well have stabbed me in the heart.

The whole book is beautifully written. Beautiful prose, beautiful characterization, deeply emotional. For the first half, the book is a sweet love story between Isobell (mistaken as a mermaid) and Thomas (mistaken as a bear). There are villains and obstacles, but life is full of promise and goodness. Isobell is a strong first-person POV character, and I found her thoroughly engaging, kind, sweet, and courageous.

Then, be prepared, for the story takes a dark turn. The author deftly intertwines the cruelty with kindness and faith, and so the story continues to hold onto its commitment to love. The ending is gorgeous and deeply moving. I had a hard time putting the book down. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, love stories, tragedies, and the resilience of love, kindness, and faith.


Head over to check the rest of the reviews out..

via June Book Reviews

What do you mean, in italics?


In this week’s post by Jessica Norrie, she explores the use of Italics in literature…and also the under or overuse of this format. A fascinating look at something we use everyday (well I do when posting reviews on my book promotions… to differentiate them from the blurb and other text).. How about you?  Head over to read the rest of the post and share your views with Jessica.

What do you mean, in italics?

Well that’s annoying. I wanted to use italics in my title and WordPress won’t let me. Maybe if I upgrade to the paid version… meanwhile I’ll put quotes in this post, which I’d normally have italicised, in purple so the original italics still show up.

The word italics comes from Latin. The print style was named for the Venetian printer who used it first. The adoption of italic fonts has a fascinating history that leads the procrastinating blogger down many Googling byways. Do explore them one wet Sunday afternoon.

We use italics for emphasis. Just as some people wave their hands about more than others, so do some authors, often putting their italics into their characters’ mouths to avoid seeming too histrionic themselves. Jane Austen, brought up to discreet deportment and quiet speech, can be vicious with italics:

Nowadays writers are advised against adverbs. It would never do for Yazz, in Benardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, to think something “sarcastically”, but Evaristo suggests sarcasm with italics: once she’s graduated and working, she’s going to sell her house, correction, their house, which is worth a small fortune thanks to Mum’s gentrification of Brixton  By the way that’s not my missing full stop – Evaristo uses punctuation sparingly. But she relishes italics, as when Yazz’s Mum forbears to mention The Boyfriend, glimpsed when he dropped her off in his car. So much suspicion, pride, worry, judgement conveyed by italics and a couple of capital letters.

My italics for the title acknowledge someone else wrote Girl, Woman, Other (shame). Fortunately Evaristo isn’t referring to the film The Boyfriend or confusion might arise. At least I’m assuming she isn’t, I’ve only just started it. Could be a bookblogger trap…


Head over to enjoy the post in full…thanks Sally

via What do you mean, in italics?

MarySmith’sPlace – Afghanistan adventures#41 When a childhood dream becomes an adult nightmare


This week our intrepid traveller Mary Smith takes on a challenge that even a childhood dream could not prepare her for… another wonderful glimpse of life in Afghanistan in 1989 and I hope you will head over to read the post in full. thanks Sally.

MarySmith’sPlace – Afghanistan adventures#41 When a childhood dream becomes an adult nightmare

Lal-sar-Jangal – early winter 1989

Bashir and friend (Custom)


The journey to visit Qurban’s family was rapidly approaching and my chance to fulfil a lifelong ambition to learn to ride a horse. As a child I had wanted more than anything to own a pony, badgering my parents to no avail. The “we can’t afford its” won. I contented myself with devouring every horsy book I could lay my hands on. I succeeded in cadging the occasional ride on a friend’s fat pony and the occasional riding lesson. My passion waned although it never completely left me.

Now, horses suddenly appeared to be very large. Qurban’s horse seemed particularly huge, and every time I passed close to where he was tethered, I had the uneasy suspicion he rolled his eyes at me in a wicked and knowing way.

IMG_0015 (Custom)

We set off in the afternoon for the three-hour ride. I was relieved to see my horse was considerably smaller than Qurban’s. Dredging my memory for all the theoretical knowledge about horsemanship stored away since childhood I declined Ibrahim’s offer of help to mount and, one foot in the stirrup I gracefully swung the other leg over the horse. The ‘How to’ books hadn’t said anything on the subject of mounting a horse while wearing Afghan dress and long chaddar. My graceful manoeuvre was marred by the necessity of having to make hasty rearrangements to my clothing to regain my modest appearance.

I took the proffered reins, afraid to grip too tightly in case the horse thought this was a signal to go, but refused the whip which was also offered. I had read my Pullen-Thomson, and knew that the bond, which would surely soon be formed between me and my horse, would be sufficient for me to direct her with the lightest of touches on the reins.


Please head over to enjoy the rest of the post… very entertaining.

via MarySmith’sPlace – Afghanistan adventures#41 When a childhood dream becomes an adult nightmare

A Post from A Member of the U. L. S. — Robbie Cheadle


Robbie Cheadle is the guest of Charles French this week with an article and review for King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard.. makes for fascinating reading. I hope you will head over to read the post in full.. thanks Sally.



I want to welcome Robbie Cheadle to the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society! This group is an unofficial collection of people who deeply value books. It is based on the idea of The Book People from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Robbie is the newest member of this group of book lovers!

Robbie has excellent blogs: Robbie Cheadle books/poems/reviews and   Robbie’s inspiration. Both are wonderful; please be sure to visit them.

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard


I decided to read King Solomon’s Mines as it is set in South Africa in the late 19th century. I am currently finalizing my first adult novel, A Ghost and His Gold, which is set during the Second Anglo Boer War. I hoped that King Solomon’s Mines would give me insight into life in southern Africa during this period.

Rider Haggard spent time in South Africa after he took a position as the assistant to the secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal in 1875. In 1876, he was transferred to the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Special Commissioner for the Transvaal. It was in this role that Sir Haggard was present in Pretoria, capital of the then Boer Republic of the Transvaal, in April 1877 when it was officially annexed by Britain. Sir Haggard was tasked with the duty of raising the Union flag and reading out much of the proclamation at the annexation event after the official originally entrusted with this duty lost his voice.

I had an interest in Sir Rider Haggard and his books because he lived in Ditchingham, a town close to my mother’s hometown of Bungay in Suffolk, England. When her brother was a young man he was employed by Sir Haggard and Sir Haggard daughter, Lilias Haggard, edited a book entitled The Rabbit Skin Cap which told the story of an old man who was well known to my mother. My mother’s memories of Sir Rider Haggard’s house and his daughter, Lilias, are included in the fictionalized memoir of her life, While the Bombs Fell, which we wrote together.


Head over to enjoy the post in full….

via A Post from A Member of the U. L. S. — Robbie Cheadle

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