Review of Life Is Like A Bowl Of Cherries, by Sally Cronin @sgc58

It’s the start of another weekend and in the early hours of Saturday morning, my thoughts turn to current events. In a previous blog, I mentioned the light verus the dark side of life, and encouraged my readers to watch for the helpers of this world. These people go above and beyond, to serve others and make this world a brighter place.

Today, I have the prvilege of reviewing and introducing such a person. Though, I suspect, she needs no introduction to most. 🙂 Meet Sally Cronin.

Here’s what Amazon says:

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.

My Turn:

The full name of this book is actually, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I had to shorten it, because when I put this on my website blog, it limits title lengths.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, sprinkled with meaningful poetry, each pertaining to the pervious story.

Flipping the pages into each new chapter, was to be whisked into another era, another life, a 180 degree ‘about face’ into vastly different circumstances; some good, others, less than stellar.   

What remained constant, was the quality of connection I had with every character. They were real people to cheer on, pity, dislike, and congratulate. Valuable life lessons were skillfully interwoven in the fabric of every tale.

I deal with certain faulty world views, due to past experiences. When I first began to read this book, and things were going right for the character, I honestly waited for the other shoe to drop.

 I was pleasantly shocked and pleased when the footwear remained firmly affixed and tied! My thought, Is this all there is? The question was posed in a positive and grateful way. I was very pleased. Why shouldn’t life be like that? Such a refreshing change!

I finished this book with a feeling of happiness and peace. There is still good in this world.

Thank you, Sally, for the salve. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. This is what the world needs.

There is no question that this book deserves FIVE STARS!

Meet Sally Cronin:

I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

My first book release resulted in a radio interview in Spain that led to four years as a nutritional consultant for an English language station, and this was followed by four years with my own health show and Sunday morning show on local radio station in the UK and then as station director, newsreader and presenter for an online television station.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books and from 2002 I have been working with authors on their book launches and publicity. At that time it was very much physical book launches and press coverage locally to stimulate national interest.. Today it is very different with a global market via the worldwide web.

As important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others within our community. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog, linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

Connect with Sally and purchase her books:

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Amazon.uk

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‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #37. Entry Part 8) by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #WritingCommunity #WritingPrompts #FlashFiction

HELLO EVERYONE AND WELCOME TO AUTHOR SUZANNE BURKE’S “FICTION IN A FLASH CHALLENGE!” EACH WEEK SHE FEATURES AN IMAGE AND INVITES EVERYONE TO WRITE A FLASH FICTION, OR NON-FICTION, PIECE INSPIRED BY THAT IMAGE IN ANY FORMAT AND GENRE OF THEIR CHOOSING.  MAXIMUM WORD COUNT: 750 WORDS. IN ADDITION TO RUNNING A WONDERFUL BLOG, SUZANNE HAS WRITTEN MANY EXCITING BOOKS. PLEASE A HAVE A LOOK AT HER SITE: WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Here is my contribution to this week’s prompt. Enjoy!

“You hear that?” Mandy twisted her red locks into coils. Her wide-eyed expression moved her freckles, like dozens of islands shifted by an earthquake.

Dan put his ear against the door.

“Careful! What do you hear?”

“Chewing.” An icicle lodged in his spine.

“What? Dan Beamish! I can’t take it any longer! I’m calling Mom and Dad! I want to go home! George Binks was right, this place is haunted!”

“My gosh!” Dan jumped back. His jaw became a flag in the wind.

“Stop blubbering, out with it! You’re scaring me!”

“You should be.”

“Stop it!” Mandy’s eyes were red. It reminded Dan of the time he’d drew mustaches on her Barbies, with permanent marker. “Tell Uncle Bill! He’ll know what to do. He’ll call Mom and Dad to pick us up!”

“Don’t be such a wimp. Don’t you want to see what it is? Maybe it’s a Snog, just like in one of your silly books. Besides, Uncle Bill is away this afternoon. Mom and Dad are in the Bahamas.”

“I’m NOT a wimp, you’re just stupid! My books are NOT silly. Snogs are NOT real. Whatever’s in there, is! We should wait until Uncle Bill returns.”

“Get me something to defend myself.”

Mandy crossed her arms and scowled at her older brother. He was stubborn, just like his father, that’s what Mom said. Mom’s always right about Dan. She sighed. “Fine, there’s a croquette mallet in the hall closest.” She stomped down the ancient steps. Stupid, old, haunted house. Why couldn’t they’ve gone to Aunt Rita’s cottage on the beach? Oh, because Danny the Pansy was allergic to the sand. Whoever heard of such a thing?

She returned with the mallet to find Dan testing the doorknob.

Mandy performed a fake curtsy and handed the mallet over. “You’re lance, noble knight.”

Dan rolled his eyes. He counted to three, via the scenic route. “Two and a quarter, two and a half, two and three quarters, three!” He charged in screaming, mallet raised overhead, Brave Heart style.

Something large ran through what could only be described as a trash bin. Dan looked around, shocked by the mess. Uncle was a neat freak, but this was an episode of Hoarders.

Wind gusted through an open window. Papers blew across a desk and onto a floor that could have been hardwood. A huge lump moved underneath the pile, heading straight for him! A terrible hissing and growling came from the thing.

Dan’s arms lost feeling and the mallet struck his knee as it dropped. He was nailed to the floor.

“Dan! Get out!”

He tried to back away, but tripped on a power cord, that brought him and a desk computer, crashing to the floor.  

A yellowed New York Times paper, a foot from his face, burst off the floor, to reveal a hideous nightmare of bloody teeth and fur.

The eyes were blacker than the pavement, velociraptor sharp claws, and a hiss like a thousand water snakes. It stood on it’s hind legs, belly fur covered in blood. The thing was about to rip him apart! His mind flashed back to all those nature shows he’d watched. What to do? Run . . . seriously? Play dead? No, he’d be dead. Act submissive, lower your eyes and bow your head . . . quick! He raised himself to a kneel and bowed, face to the floor. It was terrifying, exposing the back of his neck.

“Dan! What are you doing! Have you lost your mind?”

“Showing respect. Being submissive.”

It didn’t work. The thing hissed and moved towards him. Dan could feel and smell its hot and stinky breath . This was it, his life for hers. “Go, Mandy! Run! It wants me and you can still get away!”

The beast moved closer, coming in for the kill bite, just like a lion. It would be a less painful way to die.

Dan was ready too.

Something swept past his head. The creature let out a squeal and then began to whimper, as it fled.

“You rascal!” Uncle Bill yelled.

His new favorite uncle held a broom, as he chased the thing out the window. He shut the window, turned towards them and said, “Blasted racoon. Should have closed the window. Got into my bowl of ravioli again!” He held up an empty can of Chef Boyardee’s “finest” pasta. He looked embarrassed.

Dan smacked his head when he noticed the “blood”’ matched the color of the pasta sauce.  

Photos with Captions, To Make You Smile and Think

Time for another round of captioned photos. I hope some will make you chuckle, while others encourage you. Take care of yourselves!

Then I realize that I wasted the morning shopping . . . wait, do I hate shopping? Um . . . yes, I think. Now I’m sad again. 🙂

Review of Victoria’s War, by Catherine A. Hamilton

Well, the sun has sunk its fiery head below the horizon to close a wintry Sunday. The weekend is almost history, but I want to spin the time dial back into this past weekend, for a moment.

i want to talk about an excellent book I had the opportunity to read these last few days. As you’ve “guessed” from the title, the book in question is Victoria’s War, by Catherine A. Hamilton.

Here’s what Amazon says:

In Victoria’s War, Hamilton gives voice to the courageous Polish women who were kidnapped into the real-life Nazi slave labor operation during WWII. Inspired by true stories, this lost chapter of history won’t soon be forgotten.POLAND, 1939: Nineteen-year-old Victoria Darski is eager to move away to college: her bags are packed and her train ticket is in hand. But instead of boarding a train to the University of Warsaw, she finds her world turned upside down when World War II breaks out. Victoria’s father is sent to a raging battlefront, and the Darski women face the cruelty of the invaders alone. After the unthinkable happens, Victoria is ordered to work in a Nazi sewing factory. When she decides to go to a resistance meeting with her best friend, Sylvia, they are captured by human traffickers targeting Polish teenagers. Sylvia is singled out and sent to work in brothels, and Victoria is transported in a cattle car to Berlin, where she is auctioned off as a slave.GERMANY, 1941: Twenty-year-old Etta Tod is at Mercy Hospital, where she’s about to undergo involuntary sterilization because of the Fuhrer’s mandate to eliminate hereditary deafness. Etta, an artist, silently critiques the propaganda poster on the waiting room wall while her mother tries to convince her she should be glad to get rid of her monthlies. Etta is the daughter of the German shopkeepers who buy Victoria at auction in Berlin.The stories of Victoria and Etta intertwine in the bakery’s attic where Victoria is held the same place where Etta has hidden her anti-Nazi paintings. The two women form a quick and enduring bond. But when they’re caught stealing bread from the bakery and smuggling it to a nearby work camp, everything changes.

My Turn:

Now, I have to admit, I like reading just about everything WWII, but this book was so well crafted and researched, that it had my full attention and left a lasting impression.

Catherine does a fantastic job of creating realistic characters and scenarios. I couldn’t help but feel a range of emotions towards both the prisoners, and some of the helpful Germans, alike. The fate of one character, I won’t spoil it, caused a lump in my throat.

This is not a shoot-em-up, we’re the greatest heroes ever, type of story. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of suspense and action, too.

Victoria’s War is exactly what the title suggests. It’s about the tragic experiences of a young and innocent woman who was forced to grow in self-confidence and courage. I believe that Victoria represents so many that went through those horrific trials.

If you’re queasy, rest easy. The descriptions of the prisoner camps and victims is sprinkled throughout, but just enough to give you an impression of the conditions. There are no excessively gory details.

What I came away with is a new respect for the courage and resilience of the brave men and women who fought against tyranny, in the face of extreme danger and nearly insurmountable odds. Many selfless and self-sacrificing acts of kindness are carried out and warm the heart against the chill of the Nazi regime.

Five Stars!

Meet Catherine:

A native Oregonian of Polish descent, Catherine A. Hamilton spent several years as a freelance writer. Her articles and poems have appeared in The Sarasota Herald Tribune, The Oregonian, The Catholic Sentinel, and The Polish American Journal. She is the author of a chapter, “Katherine Graczyk”; in Forgotten Survivors: Polish Christians Remember the Nazi Occupation. Edited by Richard C. Lukas, pp.31-37, (University Press of Kansas, 2004). Her debut novel, Victoria’s War, is now available: Plain View Press (2020).
Hamilton lives in the Northwest with her husband.

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

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Wishing My American Friends A Safe And Peaceful Inauguration Day

I would like to convey my sincerest hope for a peaceful transition of power and healing for the nation of the United States. Take care, my friends, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
― Abraham Lincoln,