Sunday Book Review and Bonus Special Feature
My today’s Sunday Book Review and something more! Today I’m featuring Sally Cronin from the Smorgasbord Invitation here to share in the news of her newest book launch – Tales from the Irish Garden.
Sally’s storybooks are known for her beautiful short stories and her always interesting characters whether they be stories about people or her garden statues she brings to life in her books – Tales from the Garden written while she was living in Spain, to her newest book Tales from the Irish Garden inspired by her move back to Ireland. And of course, Sally wasn’t moving without taking her garden friends and guardians with her.
Sally is a generous sharer and promoter of the works of other writers. She always has something for everyone on her daily blogs whether it be music, recipes, health articles, laughter lines, and especially her tireless promoting of others in her virtual Bookstore and Cafe. If you are an author looking for a place to promote your books, please visit Sally’s promotional offers on her blog, and if you’re in time, you may still make it in with your books to her Christmas Grotto!
About Sally Cronin:
I have lived a fairly nomadic existence living in eight countries including the Sri Lanka, South Africa and USA 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.
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. After a long and very happy career, I took the step to retrain as a nutritional therapist, a subject that I was very interested in, and to make the time to write my first book. Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another ten books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.
As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and 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.
The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.
Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.
As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..
My 5 Star Review:
Sally Cronin brings us back to the magical garden of tales, now transported to Ireland, moved from it’s former home in Spain. Here we are taken into the lives of mystical characters of old and new, with their busy lives taking place under the Magnolia tree, kept under the watchful eye of the Storyteller, and the reign of Queen Filigree.
The author shares with us, delicious descriptions of royal parties with kings and queens – be they Queen Bees or royalty, and prepared delicacies by a 3 Wizard Star chef, complete with healthy ingredients, snuck in by Cronin with her vast knowledge as a nutritional therapist.
Some of these characters in the Irish garden emigrated from Book 1 – Tales from the Garden and new ones have joined in. The stories are broken down and told in seasons, depicting characters and their stories of hardships and incidence coming full circle where despite the conflicts, there are happy endings with life lessons to take from. Jeremy, the timid donkey is back with his arch enemy Gerard, once again feeling threatened by any other male near his female heifer friends. And with the help of Jeremy’s mother Fiona, and the Storytellers’s aid, a plot was hatched to spare Jeremy from being bullied by the macho Gerard. We also encounter a May/December romance and relationship that works between the older Queen Filigree and the handsome young Prince Ronan. (Having access to the fountain of youth to maintain her youth and beauty didn’t hurt!) We’ll also experience the evil that jealousy can bring forth as when the evil Magnus turns newlyweds Eddie and Dorothy (the Storyteller’s daughter) into foxes, and mice who look after those in need.
Whether human or animal, everyone in the garden ultimately learns to get along and pulls together when danger approaches. Many great life lessons to be taken in this charming book for all ages alike. With kindness and compassion evil always loses out. #Recommended.
I’ve left Sally with a few questions about her newest book, so let’s find out what else she has to share!
Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write Book 2 of your garden guardian stories?
I do miss my garden in Madrid, although I know that once this garden in Ireland has rejuvenated, it will be a lovely place to sit and enjoy. I wrote the first book so that I had something to remember all the statues we inherited when we bought the house there. But I couldn’t abandon them all, and we brought some of the smaller ones with us. Then I discovered that there are magnolia trees here, and it was just so tempting to bring Queen Filigree and her court over to live with us. You need fairies in a garden….
Do any of your garden characters relate to any real life people in your life? Is Queen Filigree’s personality part of your own or is she completely fictionally created?
The Storyteller whose role is the thread running through all the stories, is based loosely on my father-in-law Geoff Cronin, who was the ultimate tale spinner, and loved his garden. I hope I have brought in his kindness and humour too. Queen Filigree and her love of clothes is a nod to my mother, who always had shoes and handbags to match. She would also love the royal banquets and having handsome young princes throwing themselves at her feet!
Is there a new secret project you’re working on now that you’ve launched this book?
I do have a book in mind which is very different from those that have gone before. I have it mapped out in my head and just need to start writing it. It better stay a secret for the time being…..no fairies this time.
I’m curious about the beautiful illustrations by Donata Zawadzka for your book. To help her create the images, did you give her any photos to work from or did she create solely from her imagination or from descriptive ideas given to her by you?
I had some photographs from the previous book for Queen Filigree which were of a statue I have of my mother’s. A 1920’s Flapper in a sequined dress and I sent that, plus some nature images I had of badgers, mice and foxes. I outlined how I imagined the illustrations and I have to say Donata is a genius in picking up on sketchy ideas and creating something stunning. I really hope that other authors bring her into their stories too.
Would you please share a short excerpt from the book for us here?
Because there were going to be characters from the first book carried over, I put together a previously which I hoped would introduce them and the events so far.
In the first volume of stories, we had left Queen Filigree, and her magic kingdom of Magia, recovering from an attack from the Winter Fairy who had threatened to disrupt the final summer ball of the year.
The Winter Fairy inhabited a garden deep in the heart of the Emerald Island. It had been his kingdom for a hundred years, and in a fit of pique, a number of winter’s ago, he had frozen everything within his realm, including the humans and animals… He was now bored, but on the grapevine, he heard of a place where the sun shone for three hundred days a year, and this fired up his imagination. Timing was perfect, as he was told that if he could freeze the ancient fairy kingdom on the night of the summer ball, when all were dancing above ground in the gardens, they would be frozen into statues and visible to humans for all eternity.
Although it was only October, he had left his kingdom and blown on westerly winds towards this sun filled country. The lands that he passed over experienced bitterly cold winds and frosts that made the people huddle in their homes around hastily lit fires. Weather experts predicted that this unusual early freeze was without a doubt, the sign that a new ice age was imminent.
The Winter Fairy however, had underestimated the power of a secret underground movement in his own kingdom… There was a mole in his organisation and a rabbit and a rat. The rabbit and his family, had cousins who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Filigree in the magic kingdom, in fact one of them played in the royal band. He was a bit too fond of the Amber Nectar, but a good sort all the same.
On the outskirts of the frozen lands was a forest that had refused to be turned to ice, and to be honest the place was a thorn in the Winter Fairy’s side. The Elms and the Oaks claimed superiority and rights over the land, erecting a barrier of pollen that made the Winter Fairy sneeze and his eyes run. Finally his discomfort had encouraged him to look in other directions for his fun.
In the forest, the birds and animals that had been driven out by the cold from their homes, lived and thrived. Among them were the Messenger Birds, an elite flock of white and black pigeons who carried notes around the globe for the price of a handful of seed. As soon as the Winter Fairy left his kingdom, icicles began to melt and slowly the long frozen land began to thaw. The rabbit whistle blower, had overheard the evil being muttering to himself about his plans to invade the sunny south, and knew that he had to warn Queen Filigree and her Guardians of the danger approaching. He went around the underground folk and managed to scrape together a handful of seed, although he had quite a job getting the rats to give some out of their plentiful store, most of which had been stolen from travellers in the tunnels.
The head messenger came down to the sorting office, which was set up at the boundary of the forest and listened carefully to the rabbit’s message. Within minutes, a young and eager pigeon was winging his way by the express route across the mountains, to get ahead of the Winter Fairy, and warn those he intended to freeze. Worn out, and almost at the end of his strength, he reached the Kingdom of Magia a few hours before the last summer ball of the year, just in time for the Queen and her Guardians to put a plan in place to thwart the frozen-hearted demon.
With the help of Fluffy the Dragon, who blew hot winds to the north, The Winter Fairy arrived to find the garden deserted, and his intended victims partying the night away beneath the old magnolia tree. Despite his best efforts, he failed to breach the defences to the palace and was left stamping his foot in frustration as the snow fell all around him. In a huff, he flew ever southwards, only to find himself in the middle of a desert so barren of life, it refused to freeze. Harsh sandstorms pummelled him, whisking him skywards where his wings melted, and he fell to ground on top of a waterless dune. He found an abandoned lizard’s burrow, and sat at the entrance, with all eternity stretching before him to contemplate his wickedness.
Meanwhile… Back at Magia the snow melted and the weather returned to its normal windy autumnal pattern. The guardians settled down for a quiet few weeks until the Winter Festival, when the fairies and the inhabitants of the garden would again be out and about to celebrate. To be honest they needed no excuses for a party. However, little did they know that more changes were on their way, and that this time the Queen, and her guardians would be unable to stop the resulting devastation.
The story continues –
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As you know Sal, I love everything you write from your heart-warming stories to your health columns. I must say I’m quite curious now about what your secret project is, but have no doubt before long you will share something about it with us. 🙂
I’m sure you now have other authors interested in Donata’s illustrative work. I know I am! And I am not surprised you based The Storyteller in your book on Geoff Cronin, your father-in-law, a great story teller! But you did surprise me with Queen Filigree. I was sure she was a nod to some of your traits, but hey, the apples don’t fall far from the trees, lol.
Thanks so much for gracing us with your visit here today Sally. 🦋
Other Books by Sally Cronin
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