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:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

Goodreads

Twitter

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #35 Entry Part 6) by MarkBierman@mbiermanauthor#IARTG #WritingPrompts #FlashFiction #WritingCommunity

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!

“Oh Sheila, could this night get any better? I mean, you, me, just the crickets.”

“Oh, yes, Paul . . . it’s wonderful. There’s really no where else I’d rather be.”

“There’s something intoxicating about spending a night under the stars with a beautiful woman. Do you know that the constellation, Cygnus the Swan, is above our heads right now? Go ahead, look! No not at me. Look up, my dear. Do you see it? Yes, that’s it. See the splendor of it all? You want to know something, and it’s the truth.”

“What? What is it?”

“Keep looking up. I mean really take it all in.”

“I’m looking, and yes, it’s heavenly—”

“Just like you, my Sweet. Now I have something for you.”

“Really! What is it! Shall I close my eyes?”

“If you’d like. Yes, and hold out your hands, too. I love your radiant smile, by the way. Here it is. Okay, now open them.”

 “A mirror?”

“Yes, I want you to look at it, and then up again at the Swan. No, not at me, the Swan. Not that I mind the love in your eyes. No, Sheila, look up and compare. Why do you look so disappointed?”

“I don’t understand, that’s all.”

“Stop looking at me that way. No, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. I just wanted you to see that this constellation is just an ugly duckling, compared to you.”

“Oh, I see . . . of course, thank you, Paul.”

“I have a poem that I wrote for you. It’s about our love and this is the perfect night to read it. Here it goes. She is the light of my—”

“Stop!”

“What?”

“Please, Paul . . . I-I can’t do this anymore!”

“What do you mean? I planned this whole evening! Even made your favorite, Caprese salad, which is disgusting, by the way. Are you saying we’re through?”

“Just, turn away for a moment. Would you please, I cannot look at you, any longer. I’m so sorry, but you need to fix it.”

“Fix what?! I thought you said I was perfect!”

“No fix it! Pull it out!”

“Sheila! You are so devilish! But I cannot do that, this is a public park. There are still families about.”

“No! Not that! Pull out that ghastly nose hair that’s been waving at me all night.”

Review of This Last Chance, by D.L. Finn

Have you had the chance to curl up with a good book this Holiday Season? Something to distract you from this topsy-turvy era of COVIDocalypse? Do you enjoy supernatural battles between good and evil? Are your nails trimmed to the point that you cannot bite them any shorter? Yes? Great!

Please scroll down to see if, This Last Chance, by D.L. Finn, pairs nicely with a warm fire and that glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

By the way, D.L. is also a fantastic poet.

What Amazon says:

Six months after Amber’s sister is brutally murdered, she’s still looking for answers, and now someone is stalking her and no one believes her. Home alone with a powerful snowstorm approaching, Amber is determined to take control of the investigation by hiring a private detective, but her plans are disrupted when she finds herself snowed in with people she may not be able to trust. Meanwhile, Nester the evildwel, whose entire existence has been feeding on fear and pain, is seeking help from the angel who’s protecting Amber. Nester and Amber need answers. Can Amber figure out what’s going on with some subtle help from an angel? Will Nester find what he needs from his enemies? The worlds of good and evil clash, and the outcome will determine not only Amber’s and Nester’s fate but life as they know it.

My Turn:

Unseen forces battle for the future of earth, while unsuspecting humans go about their daily lives. This novel is a unique spin on the classic tale of good versus evil.  

Amber Dodges is a news reporter on the hunt for the killer of her twin sister, Iris. She unknowingly attracts the attention of the evildwels, the angels, and the killer.

Finn has created a strong female protagonist in Amber, who lives, quite literally, by the motto, “Never say die!”

A view of the supernatural and terrestrial worlds, are constantly interchanged throughout this story, providing a chilling premonition that something terrible is about to happen. You may need a few more sips of that Cabernet to ease the nerves.

As the story unfolds, Amber is threatened and grows leery of all, as she tries to determine who is a ‘friend or foe’. This fact is left for the reader to puzzle over, until the climax is reached.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who desires a peek beyond the veil of the spiritual/mortal realms.  Anyone who relishes a decent thriller, without the gore of a typical slasher story, will be appreciate the strong plot and high stakes drama. I’m giving this one a Four-Star rating!

Meet D.L. Finn:

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Connect with D.L. and purchcase your copy:

Twitter:  @dlfinnauthor

Facebook

Instagram

Blog

RWISA Profile

D.L. is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club.

Amazon.com

The “Ghosts” in my Darkness

This is not an easy blog for me to write, but I’m feeling called to expose my secret for the sake of those who may be suffering in silence.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that has been linked to my career as a Correctional Officer. Think of me as you will, I am no longer concerned with stigmas and shaming. Believe me, this condition is as real as any physical disorder and just as devastating.

No, I’m not looking for sympathy. I want to reach out to those who are ‘there’ and feel that they have nowhere to turn. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m yelling the words below, however, these are from personal experience and cannot be stressed enough.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

YOU ARE NOT WEAK.

YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN TO YOUR FAMILY OR ANYONE ELSE.

PLEASE TALK TO SOMEONE AND GET HELP.

IF YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE FOOLING THOSE WHO KNOW YOU BEST INTO BELIEVING NOTHING IS WRONG, YOU ARE ONLY FOOLING YOURSELF. THEY NOTICE, TRUST ME.

YOUR LOVED ONES MAY NOT ‘GET YOU’ BUT THEY WANT TO HELP.

YOUR FAMILY MAY NEED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP AS WELL, BECAUSE PTSD IS TRAUMATIZING TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT THAT YOU HAVE PTSD, BUT IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SEEK HELP AND WORK AT RECOVERING.

SUICIDE OR NUMBING WITH DRUGS, ALCOHOL, OR WHATEVER POISONOUS “COPING” MECHANISM YOU MAY CHOOSE, IS NOT THE ANSWER.

My pride got in the way and I waited too long. In fact, if you want to talk, I am available at markbierman3@gmail.com. I promise confidentiality and lay no claim to being a professional counsellor, but I will do my best to give support and listen. I want you to know that you are not being intrusive if you email me to talk. I have friends who are dealing with PTSD and it is therapeutic to share with others who ‘get it’.

I’ll spare you the gruesome details of how I came to this point, that’s not what this blog is about. I’m currently off on disability for my condition and receiving professional help. I will say one fact that came as a surprise to me. In spite of all the violence, death, and life-threatening situations that I have endured, the biggest contributor was the feeling of betrayal at the hands of those who were supposed to protect me and my coworkers. They were negligent. There is a geographical and bureaucratic detachment, combined with ignorance of the realities of our job. In addition, there is also, what seems to me, an apparent lack of concern because we are deemed unimportant. I will stop there, because I become angry just thinking about it.

PTSD can be caused by a single traumatic event, or, in my case, cumulative events. It is not just an issue for first responders, anyone can be afflicted.

No one has the right to tell you to, “Suck it up, it’s all in your head.

That’s complete bulls**t!

I’ve lost six coworkers to suicide over the years and there are more that I did not know personally. I have also seen too many drink themselves to death, all to numb the pain. If that is what “sucking it” up means, count me out!

If you need immediate help because of suicidal thoughts, please contact a help line or the police. You can get better, there is hope and help in the darkness.

Here is a poem I wrote sometime ago that sheds a bit of light on what living with this issue can feel like. I composed this at my worst. I am glad to say that I no longer feel this way most of the time.

What Haunts Me.

Morning light through window shines, but I wish for darkness to remain,

For with the light, come the demands of life, far too much

“Take your meds!” they preach. “They will help to reduce the pain.”

I swallow them down to banish the ghosts, yet never escape their clutch

What happened to the man I used to be? Full of life and no dark stain,

He’s but gone, a phantom from another time, never to return again.

We are all different, and I know we have different values, beliefs and situations, but here are a few things that have helped me on the road to recovery.

My belief in God.

My wonderful and supportive friends and family.

Prescribed and monitored medication.

Professional counselling.

Leaving the situation (work).

An attitude of gratitude, yes, concentrating and giving thanks for the blessings in my life.

Regular physical exercise.

Volunteering as much as I can in these strange days of COVID.

Good nutrition and sleep (not always easy but it will come with time).

Being outdoors, especially enjoying nature.

Pets.

Avoiding the news and social media, at times.

Your thoughts control your emotions, so I’ve been taught to practice a technique called CATCH, CHECK, CHANGE: If you have a bad thought capture it, check the rationale behind it, change it to something positive. This one takes some work.

This list is not exhaustive, and you will discover your own path to healing.

Just one more thing before I close. I want you to know, especially the wonderful friends I’ve made at Rave Reviews Book Club , that if I don’t respond to comments in a proper time frame, participate in supportive activities, blog, or retweet, I’m probably having a rough day and cannot focus. It’s nothing personal. It’s taking me forever to write my second book because of this.

I’m on the mend and fighting back, and someday I’ll finish that book. 🙂

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. You deserve a great life and there is always hope.

Review of The Cracked Mirror, Reflections of an Appalachian Son, by Billy Ray Chitwood

Hello again! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here but with the kids home for summer holidays and all the activities that come with that, my time has been limited. I also apologize for not keeping up with my reading of other blogs. I did, however, manage to write a guest post for a talented author and fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club,  D.L. Finn.

But this blog is not about me, and I wish to move on with a review that is a well-deserved five stars. The synopsis is written just below, followed by my thoughts on the book.

 

Cracked Mirror

Synopsis:

When Prentice Paul Hiller enters the senior care facility he brings with him not only a hip surgery gone wrong, but a mirror of his past, cracked with the stress of all his memories: a family broken apart by their Appalachian circumstances and the ‘great depression’; a childhood tainted by a father’s abusive nature; an impetuous marriage and a sorrowful divorce; a subsequent search of ‘isms’ and for love and meaning in California bars; a tableau of horrible events, including a senseless murder and a desert survival.

THE CRACKED MIRROR, Reflections of an Appalachian Son, is a search for some semblance of legacy by PP Hiller as he feels the weight of aging and a perceived inconsequental life, In an Arizona senior care facility he bonds with Greta Fogel, herself a patient and a former clinical psychologist. Encouraged by Greta, PP writes of his life, his heritage, his mistakes, the events that have shaped him, and the demon within that he cannot dispel. He gives his passionate views on criminal justice, love, politics, religion, war, and his favorite writers. Greta gives her insight and support, telling some of her own life’s secrets. There is pain in the writing of his memoir, but there is also closure and a guarded inner peace. This short stay in the care facility brings more clarity to PP’s life and yet another memory to store away… to take with him to the ‘Sea of Cortez’.

“In the end my story must be like so many others, the story of a simple kid who grew up eating some emotional soup and spending a lifetime trying to digest it.”

My Review:

Prentice Paul Hiller is a deep thinker who has a strong opinion about everything. Aging and suffering from a hip injury, the man is forced to spend time recovering in a senior nursing complex. At first, he judges the staff he dubs, ‘the greenies,’ with a cynical mindset. He is plagued by painful memories and guilt over past mistakes, his view of life is pretty dim.

That all begins to change after he meets Greta, a temporary resident and former clinical psychologist who encourages Prentice to talk and write about them. The story runs in a dual narrative style, each chapter alternates between the distant past and his current life in the nursing home. I appreciated this style, as it linked his life experiences as the possible cause for his mental and emotional anguish. An abusive father, the murder of a beloved uncle, a failed marriage, and a child who developes a drug addiction, are only a few of the ghosts that haunt this poor man.

The reader cannot help but be drawn into the drama, joy, trauma, mischief, and heartbreak that makes up the life of Prentice. The personal growth and healing that takes place during his stay at the home is encouraging, and character growth is what makes a story great! He comes to an undertsanding, not only about himself, but others, as well. His abusive father had his own demons, and there is both dark and light in almost everyone and everyplace. He learns to forgive those who have trespassed against him, including himself. He sees the world with new eyes, including those meanie ‘greenies.’

The only issue, and it might be just a personal pet peeve, is the frequent use of parenthesis in the writing. It’s just not my thing, so others may not be as opposed.

Despite this one quirk, I highly recommend this book. If you are into interesting life stories where the main character comes to personal growth and understanding, this is a must-read.

To purchase your copy, you can do so at Amazon.com