And speaking of vaccines…

In 1954 I was nine years old, and my entire fourth grade class at P.S. 40 in Manhattan was chosen to be the original guinea pigs for Jonas Salk’s new polio vaccine. We all got the shot and a little button that proclaimed us “Polio Pioneers.” Then, a week or two later, a blood test to see if it had worked. The results of my blood test showed that the vaccine didn’t work on me. What followed over the next few months was an agonizing series of more inoculations and blood tests. I felt like a human pin cushion. No one knew why the Salk vaccine didn’t work on me. Maybe six months later, my mother told me they had figured it out: I was immune to polio all the time, naturally immune, a very rare occurrence. I was really pissed; I had to go through all those shots for nothing! #getvaccinated

BOOK REVIEW: GALÁPAGOS by KURT VONNEGUT

I thought I had read all the really good Vonnegut novels. Starting in the ‘60s I had read Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, The Sirens of Titan, Breakfast of Champions, Welcome to the Monkey House, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, and more. But I was wrong. Although K.V. has long been perhaps my favorite author, it wasn’t until a friend on Goodreads reviewed Galàpagos that I finally became aware of it and got my hands on a copy.

I must say, it didn’t disappoint. It gives a unique perspective on evolution, while always maintaining the unmistakable and always entertaining Vonnegut voice. I love his jaundiced and very funny take on humankind. And, as I get older, my views become closer and closer to his. Without giving anything away, the basic premise is this: Everything that’s wrong with the world can be attributed to the oversized, over-active brains of humans. Very highly recommended – if you like this sort of thing.

BOOK REVIEW: BONJOUR TRISTESSE by Francoise Sagan

I’d been hearing about this novel since I was in high school. It was written and is a first-person narrative by a precocious seventeen-year-old French girl, Cécile, by a seventeen-year-old author, Françoise Sagan. I was motivated to finally read it now because my latest novel, Paris Escapade, stars and is narrated by a seventeen-year-old American boy, Eddie, an aspiring author.

I buy a lot of books. I don’t read very fast, so getting them from the library necessitates my constantly asking for extensions. I can’t bring myself to pay $10 for a Kindle, so I bargain-hunt. My go-to bookseller is BookFinder, a huge database of new and used books. So I ordered the least-expensive copy of Bonjour Tristesse in good condition I could find. I couldn’t believe what I got. It appears to be a leatherbound hardback original 1955 edition of the English translation. It’s a skinny little book – only 128 pages, but the red cover is embossed on the front with Françoise Sagan’s initials, and the binding – though slim – is embossed and ornamented with gold lettering and designs. Unfortunately, I took this photo with my phone, so you can’t see the exquisite detail.

And now, the review: Bonjour Tristesse is the account of a teenage girl who lives with her widowed father, a bon vivant and ladies’ man. He treats Cécile as an adult and takes her along to all kinds of parties and dinners. She adores him and the life he allows her to lead, virtually without limits, discipline, or restrictions. They have taken a villa on the Côte d’Azur for the summer.

Then her father, Raymond, becomes engaged to Ann, an old friend of his late wife, a woman of forty – almost his own age. Although Cécile is fond of Ann, admires her poise and elegance, she sees her gradually imposing her values and lifestyle on her father and, by extension, on her.

So, Cécile schemes to get rid of Ann by dangling a glamorous young woman under Raymond’s nose.

Taking into account that this book was written in the early fifties, and so is not quite as sophisticated or shocking as it must have been in its time (I gather it caused quite a stir), I give this book pretty high marks: It kept me engaged ‘til the end, which is saying a lot, given my impatient nature, and I enjoyed the ambience of the South of France in the summer in the fifties, as I am a bit of a Francophile. So, if your tastes drift toward the retro and the Eurocentric like mine, I recommend it.

BOOK REVIEW – THE BOOK OF SKULLS by Robert Silverberg

If I really don’t like a book, I don’t finish it. Therefore, you will never see a review of less than three stars from me.

I guess my main problem with The Book of Skulls is that the premise of attaining immortality, unending life on Earth, has no appeal for me. And that is the main premise of The Book of Skulls. A precocious student, a young man of perhaps twenty, discovers and translates an ancient manuscript that’s been gathering dust in the bowels of the library of his prestigious Ivy League college that offers the reader access to eternal life. He shows it to his three closest buddies, all very smart lads, and they all agree to take a road trip during spring break to Arizona in search of an obscure monastery in the desert, wherein they believe lies the secret of immortality. Without giving too much away, of course, there is a price to be paid.

Silverberg is an accomplished and experienced writer, having produced a prodigious number of works throughout the sixties in the pulp science fiction genre. The Book of Skulls departs from this, in that it is fantasy rather than sci-fi. He does a good job of building the tension and causing the reader to speculate how it’s going to end. There is no single protagonist to root for. All four of the guys are pretty much neutral, each with his own quirks, each with his secrets. I should add that the book was first published in 1972, so some of the terminology and colloquialisms will seem quaintly out-of-date to most readers.

I neither recommend, nor discourage you from reading this one. If it was engrossing enough to keep me reading to the end, that’s saying something good about The Book of Skulls.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors 2021 – #Thriller Ted Myers, #Mystery Nola Nash, #YA #Magic Doug Parker

Thanks, Sally Cronin, for showcasing my existence to your massive audience!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since the last series of meet the authors in June last year another 25 authors have joined the Cafe and Bookstore. This is an opportunity to get to know them and their books a little better. I will also include their blog social media links and it would be great if you could follow them there too.

Meet Ted Myers

After twenty years trembling on the brink of rock stardom and fifteen years working at record companies, Ted Myers left the music business–or perhaps it was the other way around–and took a job as a copywriter at an advertising agency. This cemented his determination to make his mark as an author. His nonfiction has appeared in Working Musicians (Harper Collins), By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution of 1969 (Backbeat Books), and Popular Music and Society.

His short stories have appeared online at Literally…

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Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Excerpt from a previous books 2021- #Scifi #Cats – Fluffy’s Revolution by Ted Myers

My thanks to my new best friend, Sally Cronin, author and blogger extraordinaire. https://bit.ly/31TMunQ

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

We put a great deal of effort into promoting our new, recent and upcoming books but often our previous releases get sidelined.

In this latest series I am offering authors in theCafe and Bookstorea chance to promote an earlier book (not your most recent) by sharing an excerpt from the book of 500 words. At the end of the post you can find out how to participate.

Today Ted Myers shares and excerpt from his first novel, Fluffy’s Revolution, an animal-centric sci-fi adventure starring a cat. The book is not exclusively for kids (as the title may suggest), but appeals animal lovers of all ages. In this scene, the GABs’ (Genetially Altered Brain animals) hideout, an old warehouse, has been discovered by the cops, who are bent on destroying these unique animals…

About the book

“Brisk sci-fi futurism with a feline star and a positive outlook.” –KIRKUS REVIEWS

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Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Wednesday 31st March 2021 – #Funnies The Story Reading Ape, #Cars Trev, #Decluttering Jane Sturgeon, #Bookoffer Ted Myers

Prolific blogger Sally Cronin comes through for me again!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Here is a small selection of posts I have enjoyed over the last few days and also a book offer valid for tomorrow April 1st on allNON-US Amazon sites.

The first post is the regular Monday Funnies over at Chris, The Story Reading Ape and will brighten any day of the week..

Head over to enjoy all the funnies courtesy of the Story Reading Ape:
Story Reading Ape Funnies

The next post is from Trev on Silly Old Sod and is both entertaining and a lesson about not tinkering around in places you should not be…

About Me

Poof!! What Was That?

I’ve never been interested in cars, yet I’ve made a decent living out of the things.

Working Life

My working life consisted mainly of working in a huge car plant in the West Midlands, manufacturing those gas-guzzling four by four monsters. It was a great company to work…

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Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #1960s #Thriller – Paris Escapade by Ted Myers

Thank you, Sally Cronin, for the kind, perceptive, and spot-on review!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This second review this week  is for the1960s thriller – Paris Escapade by Ted Myers.

About the Book

In the summer of 1963, seventeen-year-old Eddie Strull goes off to Europe with a supervised camp group of New York Jewish kids. But Eddie, ever the rebel, has other plans. Eddie wants to live as an adult. A writer. Right now. When they arrive in Paris, the last stop before heading home, Eddie sneaks out of the youth hostel and disappears into the bohemian labyrinth of the Left Bank. There he encounters a colorful array of artists, writers, actors, and one extraordinary prostitute, who draws him into a risky adventure. Ultimately, he becomes a wanted man. Instant adulthood turns out to be much more than Eddie bargained for.

My review for the book February 6th 2021

A fast paced, adventure filled thriller set against the backdrop of 1960s Europe, and in particular…

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MADE FOR LOVE by Alissa Nutting (Book Review)

I was initially attracted by the Amazon blurb, which appears on the flyleaf of my edition.

The premise involves a lifelike sex doll belonging to Hazel’s septuagenarian father. Hazel, our protagonist, has serious self-esteem problems. In spite of this, she is courted by Byron, a young tech billionaire whose many inventions have revolutionized technology and scare the hell out of Hazel. As flattered as Hazel was when Byron first pursued her, the marriage did not turn out as she would have wished. She escapes from Byron’s clutches, but is surveilled wherever she goes, and with no money or employable skills, she has no choice but to invade the domain of her widowed father and Diane, his sex doll.

This was one of the few books I’ve found that actually made me laugh out loud. My literary hat is off to Alissa Nutting, a truly funny writer. I do have a couple of criticisms: 1) The various characters all seemed to speak with the same voice—everyone was very erudite and articulate, regardless of their background or station in life. 2) There were a lot of question marks where they were not needed. I know this was a conscious choice by the author, but still, I found them an unnecessary distraction.

In spite of these relatively minor complaints, I hail Alissa Nutting as a first-class wordsmith and I highly recommend this charming and funny book to everyone with a sense of humor.