Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 – #Romance – Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal


I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

Today I am delighted to share my review from March 2020 for this lovely and engaging romance, Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal.

About the book

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

My review for Marriage Unarranged from March 12th 2020

What a lovely story and one I enjoyed very much.

This is a romance and an exploration of life in families where parents are striving to maintain cultural traditions, as the younger generation adapt and engage in the environment they were born into. For Aashi’s parents and those of her fiancee Ravi, the drama that unfolds is unthinkable, but love and a realisation that losing face in the community is not the end of the world, opens the door to a new beginning.

With the support of her brothers Sunny and Bali, her friend Kiran and a fellow traveller Arjun, Aashi finds the strength to move on.

The central part of the story is set in India where the five friends set out to discover their roots without the guiding hand of parents on previous visits, and for Arjun for the first time. Simple pleasures such as watching a Bollywood movie in an authentic Indian cinema with all the trimmings and exploring the colourful markets. Then taking the train to Amritsar to celebrate the harvest festival of Vaisakha along with thousands of pilgrims, and on a more emotive visit to pay their respects at Jallianwala Bagh garden the site of the infamous Amritsar massacre.

A the end of the two week trip which has been a mixture of business and pleasure, and with a deeper sense of family and tradition, love is also in the air. As the group leave India and return to Britain, it is clear that life will be different for them all.

The author has created characters that are engaging and memorable. The story is told from each of their perspectives and this enables the reader an opportunity to get to know them better and to witness their growing awareness of their strengths and how their futures will unfold.

The novel is well written and flows with a wonderful sense of humour.  Bhathal also offers the reader an opportunity to participate in the multi-cultural world we live in, a privilege and a reminder of how our lives are the richer for it. Highly recommended.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Ritu Bhathal

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK andAmazon US- Blog: Ritu Bhathal WordPress Follow Ritu: Goodreads – Twitter: @RituBhathal

About Ritu Bhathal

Ritu was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was recently awarded The Best Overall Blog Award at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards in 2017.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh.

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed my review of Ritu’s book … Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #Western Jan Sikes, #Contemporary Ritu Bhathal, #Mystery Richard W. Wise, New Release Anita Dawes


Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with new releases and recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a recent review is Jan Sikes for her latest release, the short story Brazos Wind…

About the book

War-torn drifter, Jack McClean is left with nothing but bad memories, scars, and a restless soul. When he stumbles upon a burning homestead, and an unconscious woman, beside the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, he stops to render aid. Grieving widow, Savannah Logan, sees no reason to live, and only wants to join her husband and children in their graves. But, Jack refuses to let her die. In saving her, he might somehow find redemption for himself and hope for a new tomorrow. Is it possible that both Jack and Savannah can find a new destiny in the changeable flow of the Brazos wind?

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Sep 16, 2020 Jacquie rated it Four Stars
Two damaged souls come together to mend their wounded spirits.

Jack McClean has seen the worst of humanity during the war and just wants to find a quiet place to finish out his life. When he comes across an unconscious woman next to a burned out home, Jack is given the opportunity to change his path.

Savannah Logan lost her faith in God with the deaths of her husband and two children. She’s living-barely- day-to-day when a fire destroys the one thing she has left- her home. Now she just wants to curl up and wait to die, but an aimless drifter arrives on her doorstep and gives her the will to live.

This short story has all the feel-goods of a much longer novel. I quickly became invested in Jack and Savannah and their journey. Hopefully, there will be more about these two in an upcoming book!

Second chances can be right around the corner- don’t give up

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Jan Sikes

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan Sikes Goodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks

The first author today is Ritu Bhathal for her romance Marriage Unarranged.

About the book

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Zoe May 5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the characters and getting to revisit India 😀  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 September 2020

I loved this book! I’m a big fan of all things India and so this book was IDEAL for me. The main character, Aashi’s arranged marriage falls through when it turns out that the man she is engaged to, Ravi, has been cheating. To clear her head, Aashi heads off to India with her friend Kiran and her brothers Sunny and Bali. I LOVED being in India with these characters. I’ve been to Delhi and really enjoyed revisiting parts like Chandi Chowk and Connaught Place. The descriptions were so evocative and took me right back! If you have been to India, this book will allow you to wander back down memory lane, and if you haven’t been, you’ll get such a genuine and realistic insight into Indian life and culture by reading this novel.

I also really liked all the characters in the book. They all felt very realistic and were likeable and vulnerable in their own different ways. Although Aashi’s story takes centre stage, I liked that Kiran, Bali and Sunny also developed during the course of the book and experienced growth during the trip to India.

A wonderful book which has made me crave another trip to India, not to mention some parathas 😀

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal, Buy: Amazon UK – andAmazon US- Blog: Ritu Bhathal WordPress Follow Ritu: Goodreads – Twitter: @RituBhathal

The next author today with a recent review for Redlined: A Novel of Boston is Richard W. Wise

About the book

The year is 1974. Boston’s Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood under siege, a community skating along the razor’s edge of decline. The banks have REDLINED Jamaica Plain, causing the housing market to crash, wiping out local homeowner’s lifetime investments and opening the neighborhood to blockbusters and slumlords. Now, someone has begun systematically torching those abandoned buildings and the charred body of Sandy Morgan, a dedicated young neighborhood organizer, has been found among the ashes. Why? Who stands to gain?

Community organizer and Marine combat veteran, Jedidiah Flynt and Alex Jordan, his beautiful Harvard educated researcher together with a group of local property owners are determined to stop the redlining and and bring the arsonists responsible for Sandy Morgan’s death to justice. Their search will lead them through a labyrinth of corrupt politicians, Asian gangsters and bent churchmen.
Two interwoven plots work their way through the narrative, one is absolutely true, the other never happened, but might have.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I liked the book because Rick Wise as a community organizer in this neighborhood of Boston accurately told the story of the impact of bank redlining and disinvestment and how effective community organizing can make a difference in a better story of opportunity being achieved.

All the stories about the issues and organizing are true and actually happened back then in this neighborhood.

He adds elements that make it a novel about a death by arson of an organizer though there was much arson and people did die. And he adds a scheme about corruption around state legislative approval of a casino and unsavory support for it from a Catholic priest though unfortunately such scandals action by politicians and betrayals by priests do actually occur. All of this material makes the novel a page turner to read.

I knew of Rick and his organization’s effective work in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood in this period as I was a community organizer working on similar issues in another neighborhood of Boston called Dorchester and still do this organizing work today..

Read the other reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Also by Richard W. Wise

Richard W. Wise, Buy: Amazon US –  And: Amazon UK – follow Richard: Goodreads –  Website: The French BlueFacebook: Richard Wise Books

The final author today is Anita Dawes with her latest release, a collection of poems Shadows

About the Collection

A collection of Anita Dawes best poems – about love and longing – hopes and dreams – there will be something for everyone…

Head over to buy the collection: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Anita Dawes

One of the recent reviews for The Scarlet Ribbon

Sep 03, 2020 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Scarlet Ribbons, also known as The Scarlet Ribbon, by Anita Dawes is a contemporary fiction novel that focuses on the afterlife and how one woman deals with the tragedy of a single moment in time, a moment she couldn’t prevent from occurring. I became familiar with the book after following the author’s blog and learning more about her collaboration with Jaye Marie on a variety of a projects.

In this tale, Maggie Haynes is hit by a car. Her husband witnesses the accident and is forced to watch his beloved wife put on life support when she falls into a coma. When Maggie goes under, her life seems to separate into reality and another world. In one path, she recovers and finds herself heading down a certain troubling existence… and in another, she’s somewhere beyond the Earth… not quite heaven or hell… not even clear of the specifics, but this new world can be quite scary. She’s able to ‘cross over’ to see some things happening back home, and it’s not always a good thing.

Can you imagine being able to watch your loved ones grieve? What if they decided to move on? Are you aware of how long you are in the coma? When Maggie discovers various connections with new people she meets in her confusing new life, she can’t help but think about how much is real and how much might be a dream. Is she trapped somewhere? Will she wake up paralyzed from the accident? Is she secretly already dead? What does her family think has happened? So many amazing questions to ponder while reading this book…

I enjoyed the writing style. At times, the author whisks you away into a dreamy state; even I was uncertain which world Maggie resided in during these moments. It’s a tough and scary topic, but Dawes pushes you to consider all the options and angles. What if you were meant to disappear for a while so that you could save someone else? A child who desperately needs your help deserves unselfish reactions, right? Maggie and her husband chose not to have kids but was this a reality check? When she visits previous periods in her family’s life, learning what it was like for them to grow up, it destabilizes her core… Maggie can’t be sure which life she wants to hold on to – new or old. And can she change her mind?

In the end, she dives deep into understanding her new world, with the help of some friends and possible a foe or two, and she comes out stronger. But it is the shocking surprise finale that left me wondering… how much of this could really happen in our future? Dawes pushes me to think about past lives, reincarnation, soul therapy, and so much more. I enjoyed the writing style and development on the worlds most of all. If you’ve got an open mind and a love of ethereal and other worldly existences, this is a good one to read. I’m left wondering what additional themes the author explores in her other books now! Must check one out in the near future.

Anita Dawes, buy Amazon UK – And: Amazon US –  follow Anita: Goodreads – Blog: Jaye and Anita’ Blog – Twitter: @jaydawes2

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews -#Contemporary Ritu Bhathal, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Poetry Leon Stevens


Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore update with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today is Ritu Bhathal for her romance Marriage Unarranged.

About the book

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Mum of 2 5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, a page turner  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 July 2020

This book is beautifully written. I love how the characters are so different from each other and well described. I absolutely loved the holiday to India which depicted a very honest experience of India for Ritu I am sure. It certainly brought back a lot of memories for me. I loved how she brought out the best in it and how the characters embraced and enjoyed their experience of the country.

I read this through lockdown and found it hard to put down. I love the short chapters as I don’t always have a lot of time to read, however I kept saying ok..one more chapter and would that would turn into six! That’s a sure sign of a good book!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal, Buy: Amazon UK – andAmazon US- Blog: Ritu Bhathal WordPress Follow Ritu: Goodreads – Twitter: @RituBhathal

The next author today is Jane Risdon with a review for her collection Undercover: Crime Shorts.

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection on Goodreads

Jul 29, 2020 Roberta Cheadle rated it Five stars it was amazing

I take my hat off to this author. Jane Risdon has taken the genre of murder mystery short stories to a new level with this collection of six superbly different and unique stories. Each story is complete and stands alone with a proper story line which I really liked as I have read a number of short stories that feel incomplete, as if they are intended to be part of a larger work. There is also an excellent extract from a forthcoming novel included at the end as a bonus.

My personal favourite story was The Watchers which starts off on a horribly creepy note with the main character, Candice, being stalked telephonically by an unknown someone. The tension as she stands there with the telephone in her hand following the latest call is almost unbearable. “Her heart was making her blouse shake as it thudded faster and faster. Sweat ran down between her breasts and her legs felt as if they were going to give from under her. The constant ringing vibrated through her hand and up her arm.” Wow! I was shaking with Candice. This story certainly is not your standard peeping Tom tale and the twist at the end is clever and unexpected.

It is difficult in a short story to get your reader to really connect with your characters as you have such a short time to do this in. Jane Risdon has done it seamlessly in this collection and I really felt for all her characters. Sweet Sable – also known as the Red Siren, a gorgeous woman with her own agenda and the determination and ruthlessness to achieve it; China, the writer next door, who gets pulled into a very strange situation involving her neighbours and the Russian Mafia; Candice the seemingly innocent victim of a stalker but who has a past; the photographers who both had “the look”; a wealthy deceased woman with an extraordinary sense of justice and humour and a successful British diplomat whose encounter with a prostitute doesn’t go according to plan.

If you enjoy the murder mystery genre and like stories that are fast paced, exciting and unique, you will love this book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And:  Amazon US–   Blog:Jane Risdon WordPressGoodreads:Jane Risdon Goodread –  Twitter: @Jane_Risdon

The final review today is for writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter and artist Leon Stevens for his poetry collection, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

About the collection

Lines by Leon is a selection of poems, prose, and short stories that address the subjects of loss, struggle, and reflection. Inside these thoughtful contemplations are original observations about ego, behaviour, human relations, places, and the environment. Many of the pieces feature a lighthearted and even humorous take on a subject, and the author invites his readers to laugh, think, cry, and meditate on the wide variety of thoughts.

Scattered throughout the book are sketches of various subjects, many that relate to the poems and stories they illustrate; others speak for themselves.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Nia 4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of poems  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 July 2020

This anthology is fantastically emotionally aware. Stevens provides a personal perception on various key aspects of living, especially the human condition and environment, both natural and urban, in a casual yet deep manner. There is a great variety in tone throughout and each poem’s rhythm is appropriate to the section it features in.

I find As I See It especially relatable and love the honesty of Stevens’ interpretations of sociability. How I See also prompts the reader to acknowledge individual’s differences because the alternative, us being all the same, would be tremendously dull. How Many’s A Crowd also expresses the importance of quality not quantity in social groups, implying that having few close friends is of more value to them and yourself than having a million acquaintances. I came away from this particular poem reminiscent of an analogy that it is better to have five-pound coins than five-hundred pennies.

People and Places is rich in urban imagery, appealing to the reader’s senses with its casually cosmopolitan descriptions. There is a certain charm to how the narrator explores the world around them, regardless of whether or not their surroundings are minimal or flashy.

I love how each individual poem throws (sometimes subtly, other times in full force) at the reader a question for them to answer about life and their own way of living. How the narrator approaches social conventions in Just Say Yes is particularly self-aware and its honesty is what pulls me in, essentially stating that in some cases it is far easier to say ‘Yes’ to people than ‘No’ to avoid any form of argument, conflict, or even just to politely hasten the conversation so that it is over soon.

In short, this anthology is an emotionally and spiritually refreshing read. It affords the reader a moment to pause, step back from the fast-paced modern world around us and appreciate the beauty in simplicity. To appreciate nature, loved ones and oneself is of utmost importance. The brevity of certain passages also leaves room for reflection, whilst appreciating the background’s minimalist aesthetic with simple stick-figure illustrations and shady charcoal doodles.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Leon Stevens, Buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK –  follow Leon: GoodreadsWebsite: Lines by Leon Twitter: @linesbyleon

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books..thanks Sally.