Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the Shelves – #Pre-Order – O’Roarke’s Destiny (Cornish Rogues Book 1) by Shehanne Moore

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Time for a little historical romance from author Shehanne Moore with her latest release on Pre-Order at a special price for 13th SeptemberO’Roarke’s Destiny (Cornish Rogues Book 1).

About the book

Once he’d have died to possess her, now he just might…

Beautiful, headstrong young widow Destiny Rhodes was every Cornish man’s dream. Until Divers O’Roarke cursed her with ruin and walked out of Cornwall without a backwards glance. Now he’s not only back, he’s just won the only thing that hasn’t fallen down about her head—her ancestral home. The home, pride demands she throw herself in with, safe in the knowledge of one thing. Everything she touches withers to dust.

He’d cursed her with ruin.

Now she’d have him live with the spoils of her misfortune.

Though well versed in his dealings with smugglers and dead men, handsome rogue Divers O’Roarke is far from sure of…

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Crime and PUNKishment

Crime and PUNKishment: Stories and Exclusive Interviews with Rodney Bingenheimer, Jack Grisham, Palmolive of the Slits, Linda Ramone and Captain Sensible by [Brenda Perlin, Perry Anderson, Mark Barry, Brenda Bentley, Rodney Bingenheimer, K.S Brooks, Joe Bruno, Raymond Ian Burns, Lance Cryan, Gia DeSantis, Tom DeSavia, Fur Dixon, John Dolan, Christoph Fischer, Nesha Gold, Janet Salopek Green, Jack Grisham, Carla Mullin-Haughan, Jeff, Jim Kavanagh, Paloma McLardy, Marina Muhlfriedel, Devorah Ostrov, Missi Peper, Linda Ramone, Frank Reed, Genny Schorr, Robert (Fysh) Silverman, Hilde Swendgaard, Wiggy Walker]Punk rock isn’t the usual topic I write about, but I wrote a chapter in this book, “Crime and PUNKishment” for my good friend Brenda Perlin.
My chapter is short, about the rebellious part of my youth – a rebel without a cause – and how the punk rock movement briefly inspired my being.
A great many writers contributed memoirs and musings about those days.
Read all about it in Brendin Perlin’s “Crime and PUNKishment!”
My favorite review on Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars – Music To Commit Crimes To
“Life is crazy. We live. We die. And in-between, if we are lucky, we find something that allows us to lose ourselves in a moment of bliss.”
Acid, graffiti, booze, riots, mohawks, Ouija boards, stealing vinyl, smelling bad, and generally being disapproved of: ah, those lost days of punk youth! Brenda Perlin serves up some more badass reminiscences of the era of cheap guitars and folks behaving badly. ‘Crime and PUNKishment’ features archive photographs of the period and an interview with Captain Sensible (of whom I have fond memories of a particularly raucous Damned concert in Leicester, where he invited the audience to see if they could gob in his mouth while he strutted along the front of the stage). Plus: Linda Ramone and others!
Take a nostalgic, sense-addled stroll down nighttime streets thudding with power chords and reeking of dried vomit and freedom.
Never Mind the Bollocks, enjoy!

Let Me Introduce You to a Flight Attendant

As former flight attendant myself I look forward to reading this next.


Dear Folks:

One of the more interesting people I’ve met as a result of switching my career to writing is a flight attendant, Elizabeth Calwell. She has a great sense of humor, and turned it, along with her experiences for many years in air, into a book, Dear Passenger.

Elizabeth Calwell lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and her dog, along with three box turtles that live in the back yard, Trudy, Miss Piggy and Little Louis. Having grown up in what used to be a small town gives Elizabeth a unique Southern perspective on the antics of passengers and unusual happenings while traveling. Elizabeth still enjoys bouncing around in a metal tube at 35,000 feet. When she is not flying she enjoys writing, painting landscapes, gardening and trips to the fabulous North Carolina beaches.

    I am going to let her tell you about her book…

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Book Club Review: “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo

Today I review a book I’ve been reading in my local book club.

First, the official blurb:Three Women: THE #1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER by [Taddeo, Lisa]

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?

All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?

All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Three Women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.

My review:
At first this was a hugely eye-opening, addictive read that offered painfully blunt and honest insights into the mind of three women whose sex life is quite different from the norm. The book is utterly fascinating and despite some very explicit language and disturbing scenes almost un-put-down-able.
However, as the stories progressed I felt that it became repetitive and borderline gratuitous in the portrayal of these women in a way that they just confirmed the depth of the women’s obsession with looks, men, sex and eating. Many descriptions of sexual encounters were unnecessarily lengthy, time I feel could have been invested in a development of the characters and maybe showing them a way out of their demises.
The psychological insights, the thought patterns and connections with early child hood experiences to what might be called abnormal sexual behaviour were brilliant and addictive but after I finished the book I felt sad and wasn’t sure the author did more than spy on and use these women rather than help and encourage them.

Do I have more sympathy for them now that I have had a glimpse into their inner thoughts?
Certainly, although I would have sympathy for them before and what I learned was barely ground-breaking new.

Do I agree with them being victims (of mostly men)?
To some extent yes, their lives were shaped by others, often at an age of innocence. But does that free them of accountability? I’m not so sure.

Do I know more about how to help these women, should I meet similar types in my life?
Unfortunately I’m not so sure about that either.

Would I recommend this book?
Yes and no. It’s powerful, informative and well written but many readers may be put off by the explicit sex and the raw and often uncomfortable scenes.

The book certainly provokes dialogue and raises awareness but there were opportunities lost for me. I may be wrong about this but there remains a sense of exploitation that I cannot shake off.


Wales & the Britons 350-1064


T.M. Charles-Edwards: Wales & the Britons 350-1064

immensely detailed and thorough study of seven centuries of British kingdoms
and their neighbours

Not the
easiest book to score, this is the first part of a history of Wales and, for
many people, it will be a specialist reference text. I got a huge amount from
it (hence the 5*) but that does not mean to say there are not difficult, highly
academic sections. It is also costly but will take you at least twice the time
it would to get through your average read. Furthermore, you don’t have to be
Welsh; there is everything here: the development of England, the kingdoms
before Scotland, Ireland’s influence on the western shores, the Isle of Man,
even the Hiberno-Norse.

chapters present a survey of ‘post-Roman’ Britain: from the Manaw border
between Gododdin and the Picts through Rheged, North Wales – where the

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Olga recommends: Voices of the Second World War: A Child’s Perspective by Sheila A Renshaw

Here is my re-blog of Olga’s latest review. I’m sure many of you will find this as interesting as me.
Find the original post by Olga here
Voices of the Second World War: A Child's Perspective by Sheila A Renshaw

Voices of the Second World War: A Child’s Perspective by Sheila A Renshaw

Voices of the Second World War: A Child’s Perspective is a collection of firsthand accounts from people who experienced the Second World War from all over Europe: stretching from Russia to the Channel Islands, and Norway to Malta.

While some children appear to have been hardly aware of the war, for those who lived through bombing, occupation, deprivation, starvation and fear, the memories remain with them even today.

The accounts have been relayed according to their perspective at the time and the contributors were happy to share their experiences and memories, keen in the knowledge that they were being documented as personal chroniclers of one of the twentieth century’s most catastrophic events.

About the author:

Sheila Renshaw grew up in an RAF family and the joined the WRAF after leaving school, later receiving a commission and marrying an RAF pilot. She travelled extensively with the services and brought up a family of two daughters.

She was inspired to write this book having talked to a neighbour who lived in the U.S.S.R. during the Second World War and who had never told her story to anyone before as she didn’t feel anyone would be interested. Amazed at what she’d heard, Sheila began to wonder how many other stories were out there waiting to be told…

Olga’s review:

Thanks to Rosie Croft of Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review. (Note that it is also available in ebook format).

I have talked before about the importance of remembering the past, especially the experiences of individuals who never make it into official history books. The movement to record the memories of the everyday lives of anonymous people, including mass archives, has helped bring history closer to everybody and has also helped us understand what the war was like for the general population.

This book goes a step further and collects the memories of people who were children during WWII, in many European countries (and also one in Egypt), in a variety of circumstances: some from countries that were invaded (the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia…), neutral countries (like Sweden), there are also several accounts from the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, and the Channel Islands (the only part of the British Isles occupied during the war), quite a few from the UK, and also from Germany and Italy. There are some common threads and themes throughout the different chapters, most of them dedicated to only one child’s memories, although there are some chapters which collect several shorter accounts. In occupied countries there are horrific accounts of the cruelty of the invading army, particularly reprisals against anything perceived as resistance or disobedience, and, after the allied victory, the repercussions for those who were seen as having collaborated with the invading forces (especially women who became “friendly” with German soldiers), some truly harrowing accounts of survivors of incredible hardship (Sara’s account of her and her sister’s survival in Auschwitz is heart-breaking, especially because they lost all of their immediate family; Nadia, from Ukraine, experienced plenty of hardship but she recounts how it could have been even worse, if not for the kindness of some of the people she met along the way)…  There are plenty of stories of children being evacuated (mostly in the UK), and also of the families who received those evacuees. Inventive mothers creating delicious recipes out of little food, schools that kept going no matter what, rationing books, joining the war effort by collecting newspapers, scrap metal, glass…, growing vegetables, going to the shelter, experiencing bombings first-hand, memories of the Barrage balloons, the sounds of the anti-air-raid guns, the all clear… In Germany and in many of the occupied countries, children remember the worry of not knowing what might happen, the need to be careful as you never knew who might overhear what you said, who was a friend or an enemy, and the terrible consequences if the wrong word reached the wrong ear. German children also mention the shock and utter disbelief when they and their families learned what had been happening in the concentration camps, although the older children were aware that Jews and dissidents were arrested or disappeared with little explanation. One of the children pointedly says that nobody admitted knowing anything about it, but it is clear from the experiences of some of the children in occupied countries that, at least to them, it was not such a big surprise.

There are also light moments, accounts of friendly German and Italian soldiers (especially at the beginning of the war), a German surgeon who saved the life of the father of one of the narrators (who was 2 y.o. at the time), children fascinated by the planes, looking for souvenirs among the debris, joining groups like the Cubs or the Brownies, meeting new people and experiencing a different kind of life in the countryside, the victory parties… I particularly enjoyed the account by Anne, from York, that reads at times like Huckleberry Finn (she saw life as an adventure, no matter what, and I hope she still does). I was moved by first-hand accounts of the Coventry bombings, and happy to read about what had happened to all those children and where they were now.

The book also includes photographs. These are not photographs of the children whose stories we are told, but they are black and white photos of the era, mostly of children, relate directly to some of the stories we read about, and help us recreate the atmosphere of the time as we read the book.

As the author explains in the introduction, which sets up the scene and provides a brief but useful background to the stories, during the war, the main consideration was the physical wellbeing of the children rather than the emotional impact some of the decisions the adults took on their behalf (like evacuating them) could have. Now, in hindsight, it is easy to see what an influence these events had on the lives of all those children. And, as a society, we should never forget what the long-term consequences of a war are on all those involved.

I recommend this book to everybody. Although some of the accounts are tough to read, I think books such as this one should be read to (and by) children, with their parents supervision if they are very young, as a way to help them connect to history, and by adults, because we must remember what happened (and what is still happening in many places) and work hard to avoid it in the future.

Review: “Whisper in the Jungle” by Robert Mwangi

Whisper in the Jungle by [Mwangi, Robert ]I’ve read an earlier version of this book by Robert Mwangi and enthusiastically reviewed it on this blog and conducted  an interview with the author. Now a publishing company has picked the book up and after a make over released it.

This is quite a thrilling ride through a young man’s short time before planning to leave Kenya for a scholarship in America. While his excitement about a brighter future and a love interest lighten his life, there are darker tones with disappearances in the nearby jungle. These force him into action despite the tight timing.
Interspersed into this suspense are scenes of great cultural interest to this reader: rituals, philosophical reflections on the tensions between heritage and modern living and old beliefs being tested in the 21st century.
Above this, the young man’s coming of age is reflected in the theme of finding out the true meaning of his traditional name.

“Whisper in the Jungle” is a very enjoyable and engaging read that made me look forward to the next book and the glimpse into the character’s next adventure.

Official blurb:

Deep in the African jungle where even the bravest are afraid to venture, lies a truth that will propel James through his probable American journey, if he can come out alive. James an African lad has been awarded a soccer scholarship to go to America and becomes the envy of his village. His girlfriend Janny is however skeptical of what a long distance relationship can do to love. But when Janny vanishes, James plunges into the mysterious forest at the risk of his life and his American Dream. Love transcends all.

Buy it on Amazon

Robert Mwangi


Book Club Review: “The Secret Barrister”

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken by [Barrister, The Secret]

Today another book club review.
First the official blurb:

You may not wish to think about it, but one day you or someone you love will almost certainly appear in a criminal courtroom. You might be a juror, a victim, a witness or – perhaps through no fault of your own – a defendant. Whatever your role, you’d expect a fair trial.

I’m a barrister. I work in the criminal justice system, and every day I see how fairness is not guaranteed. Too often the system fails those it is meant to protect. The innocent are wronged and the guilty allowed to walk free.

I want to share some stories from my daily life to show you how the system is broken, who broke it and why we should start caring before it’s too late.

My review:

It took me a long time to get into this book. The first few chapters read like an introduction into the legal system and are filled with definitions and legal terminology. While some of this is quite interesting and informative, the book cover promises hilarious and anecdotal writing.
There’s far less of that and the tone of the barrister is at times arrogant and very unlikeable.
I’m glad I persevered, though, because gradually the anecdotes and the flaws in our legal system take more centre stage and make for more rewarding and fascinating reading.
Towards the end much of the educational sections pay off as we get to understand innate biases and problems of our justice systems: freaky statistics, such as higher sentences before midday (hungry judges), how lack of funds really does influence your chances of winning a case and how miscarriages of justice do not guarantee adequate compensation.
So if you free your mind from the wrong expectation that you are about to read a hilarious book you might find quite an insightful and interesting read.


Book Club Review: “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage: WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION, 2019 by [Jones, Tayari]I recently joined a lovely local book club where we drink a lot of wine and talk a lot. Here is my review of a book we read there recently.

But first the official blurb:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Until one day they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

Devastated and unmoored, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the love that has been her centre, taking comfort in Andre, their closest friend. When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns home ready to resume their life together.

My review:

Given the praise for this book I may have started it with too high expectations. For several chapters I was waiting for the story to take off but neither did I feel the mutual attraction of the couple, nor did I get into the long back stories of them and their families.
By the time the drama set in I was less engaged with the characters as I would have liked.

The injustice done to them, the blatant bias in court and their terrible tragedy won’t leave you unmoved, though.  In that it is an important wake up call that these things do happen and aren’t just fabrications of the press.

As the marriage drifts apart through the forced separation it’s difficult not to feel sorry for both characters. Yet – to me – they also became quite unlikable and annoying as the story progressed, however understandable their actions and demises were.
It is by no means a trivial story but I was glad when I had finished it and it didn’t stay with me as much as I would have expected from such an emotive topic.