Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Mary Smith and Bette A. Stevens


Welcome to the first of the cafe and bookstore updates this week with reviews for some of the authors on the shelves.

And the first author today is Mary Smith and a recent review for a wonderful novel No More Mulberries that I can also highly recommend..

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

A recent review for the book on Goodreads.

Jul 09, 2019 James rated it it was amazing Five Stars

No More Mulberries is an international contemporary drama written by Mary Smith and published in 2009. The story focuses on Miriam, a Scottish midwife, who has married two men from Afghanistan during her lifetime. The tale unfolds by jumping time frames across different chapters to share the reasons why Miriam’s life has become what it is today. At times, her days have been heartbreaking, and at others, they have been an admirable source of strength. I chose this book because I’d seen many positive reviews and it fit the parameters for my month of international and/or autobiographical reads. Let’s chat more about this complex and wonderful story…

Miriam had a wonderful husband and life, but he passed away. She had a young son to raise in Afghanistan during a difficult period in the country’s history, especially for a red-haired Scottish woman with strong beliefs about how things should be. Knowledgeable in medicine, she won over some of the village, yet she always knew she was viewed differently. Then, she remarried and had another child with the second husband. At first, they had a strong love. Although she’d converted to Muslim, her husband, Iqbal was careful to find a balance between his beliefs and her beliefs. While he could be strict, he was by no means radical or excessively controlling of his wife. As tension rises between them, Miriam revisits her past to understand why her first husband died. Through the process, her eyes are opened about her own blame in the new marriage as well as as what truly happened to her first beloved.

The story is rich with a supporting cast who provide laughter, love, fear, and pain. Smith eloquently shares a culture and a lifestyle with her audience, some who may know little about the Muslim faith or Afghani culture. While I’ve read a few other books focusing on this part of the world, they tended to stick to the religious aspects of the Middle East rather than the social aspects. I was glad to experience a different side of the life through this story and the author’s wonderful ability to showcase both the good and the bad.

Questions of parenting, forgiveness, pain, tolerance, and curiosity quickly enter a reader’s mind. What will become of someone who defies her husband? Who will stand by you when you have no one else to trust? How do you ensure the village listens to your advice on bearing a child when the culture dictates the complete opposite solution? This novel helped me understand a different mindset, and while it wasn’t necessarily one I agree with or support, I found a balance of alternative ideas and options to push me to think more critically. It’s a great experience, and one we should all have when reading a book about something different than our own knowledge.

A great find, and something that would be a benefit for all readers with an open mind, a curiosity about life outside their own culture, and a small glimpse into the world that many know from the outside but little know from the inside.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith-ebook/dp/B005RRDZ12

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith/dp/1849234205

A selection of other books by Mary Smith

51yks9fxhfl-_uy250_ 51ujjsusehl-_uy250_ 51arfsi2ffl-_uy250_

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

Connect to Mary via her blog: https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/

And finally an early review for the latest release by Bette A. Stevens…A poetry and photographic collection… My Maine.

About My Maine

Inspired by The Pine Tree State—Maine’s diverse landscape, natural beauty, rural communities, and independent people—the author’s 150 haiku poems, along with her photographs, reflect the Maine she knows and loves. Bette A. Stevens’s imagery draws the reader into her world of wonder and delight. My Maine takes readers on a poetic journey through Maine’s four seasons. Whether you’re a native Mainer or from away, Stevens’s short story poems and photographs will resonate.

The collection opens with a haiku tribute, “Maine Pines and People.” The journey continues with the rejuvenating spirit of “Spring Awakenings” and “Summer Songs”; then on to more of the magic and majesty of the places and people of Maine in “Autumn Leaves” and “Winter Tales.” This is a poetry collection to be slowly savored, made even more delectable with the author’s original drawings and photographs. In addition to its poems and photographs, My Maine includes state symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.

One of the early reviews for the collection

Reading My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons makes you feel as if you are taking a delightful stroll through the state of Maine in the USA. The poet takes the reader on a picturesque tour of this region using the medium of interconnected haiku’s to vividly describe the landscape and seasonal changes.

The book is divided into sections with the first section, The Pine Tree State, setting the environmental scene. My favourite verse in this small section described the majestic pine trees as:
“Pragmatic figures
Independence their calling
Rugged yet limber”

Spring Awakenings, the second section, describes the beauty of the countryside during spring and the poet’s amazement at the natural delights that she discovers daily. This series of haiku’s ends on a spectacular note as follows:
“Standing ovation
Awaiting next performance
Tulip petals bow”

Summer songs builds on the joy of spring and also introduces the reader to the power of American patriotism, a feature of American life that always pleases me greatly and is described by the poet in these words:
“American flags
Wave – God Bless America
Homage to the land.”

Autumn Leaves depicts the bright colours and splendor of the autumn season with this particular haiku presenting it perfectly for my mind’s eye:
“Splashed across woodlands
Blazing brush transforms the world
Into a canvas”

Winter Tales rounds the reader’s journey off with its appealing depictions of winter life in Maine, with its copious snow and the pleasures of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, indulged in by the community as a whole. The following haiku perfectly captured the spirit of community present in this region:
“Neighbors, helping hands
Compassion – love in action
As storm clouds gather”

This book is embellished with some lovely photographs and some interesting facts about the state of Maine.

A truly delightful book and one I highly recommend to lovers of poetry and, in particular, well written haiku.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SSNDL5L

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Maine-Haiku-through-Seasons-ebook/dp/B07SSNDL5L

Books by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

Read more reviews and follow Bette on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Connect to Bette via her website: https://4writersandreaders.com

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm… Sally.

Advertisements

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – MarySmithsPlace – Canada (part 3)


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Time for the third post from the archives of author Mary Smith who manages two blogs for me to browse and select posts from.  This is the third post of three that Mary shared about her trip to Canada to celebrate a very special birthday and you can find the two previous posts about that trip Part one and Part Two

MarySmithsPlace – Canada (part 3)

Quite a while before I went to Canada I read a book,  Travelling to the Edge of the World by Kathleen Jones who travelled to the islands of Haida Gwaii, off the northernmost coastline of British Columbia. She went (and now I’m quoting the back of the book blurb) to talk to a nation who have lived in harmony with their environment for more than ten thousand years. They have a saying ‘everything is connected’ and their philosophy ‘Yah’Guudang’, is about “respect and responsibility, about knowing our place in the web of life and how the fate of our culture runs parallel with the fate of the ocean, sky and forest”.

But there is a darker side to Haida history. Kathleen Jones uncovers the story of how the British Colonial administration reduced the population from more than twenty thousand to just over five hundred by a policy that has been identified as ‘cultural genocide’. Haida artist Bill Reid, whose sculpture ‘Raven and the First Men’ appears on the cover, wrote that, “It is one of the world’s finest tributes to the strength of the human spirit that most of those who lived, and their children after them, remained sane and adapted”.

When I finished reading Travelling to the Edge of the World, the first thing I wanted to do was re-read it immediately. I also wanted to visit Haida Gwaii (previously known as Queen Charlotte Islands). I knew when I made my trip to Canada it wouldn’t be possible in the time I had to include a trip there – and I still want to go – but I was able to visit the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. There I was able to see some of the Haida carvings and totems as well as work by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid.

My cousin Grace and I went to the museum. Several galleries showcase thousands of objects from all around the world. As well as exhibits on display other objects are in drawers beneath the s cases which you can open to explore even more artefacts.

Outside are examples of Haida houses and Musqueam house posts which are fascinating. DSC00152 (Custom)

Inside, the Great Hall, with its displays of totem poles and carvings, is truly spectacular. Spellbinding. Light pours in from the floor to ceiling glass walls highlighting the totems, which are so much more than I expected. Taller, so much taller, and so intricately carved.
DSC00143 (Custom)We all had to crane our necks to see the tops of the totems.

DSC00147 (Custom)

DSC00144 (Custom)

Bear by Bill Reid. It was hard to obey the ‘do not touch’ order as this – and other sculptures – are so tactile.

One of the highlights was seeing Bill Reid’s sculpture of Raven and the First Men, which depicts the story of human creation. Carved from a giant block of laminated yellow cedar, it took two years to complete. Bill Reid, goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer and one of Canada’s greatest artists was born in 1920. His mother, Sophie, was Haida but was sent away to school on the mainland where she was not allowed to speak her native language. She became an English teacher before she married Bill’s father who was of German Scottish descent. Bill was raised as ‘white’ by a mother who had assimilated western ways. On a visit to Haida Gwaii in 1954 Bill came across some carved bracelets by his great-great-uncle, carver Charles Edenshaw and the world changed for him.

In Haida culture, the Raven is the most powerful of mythical creatures. His appetites include lust, curiosity, and an irrepressible desire to interfere and change things, and to play tricks on the world and its creatures. According to Haida legend, the Raven was alone on Rose Spit beach in Haida Gwaii when he saw a clamshell inside which were small humans. The Raven coaxed them to leave the shell to join him in his world. Although hesitant at first, the humans did come out of the clamshell and became the first Haida.

DSC00149 (Custom)Raven and the First Men

Several First Nations carvers also worked on the project, including Reggie Davidson, Jim Hart, and Gary Edenshaw. Sculptor George Rammell worked on the emerging little humans, and Bill Reid did most of the finishing carving.

One day I might actually get to Haida Gwaii but at least, in the meantime, I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the fabulous work and learn a little more about the culture of a people I first read about in Kathleen Jones’ book.

Another piece of Bill Reid’s fabulous art is in the International Terminal at Vancouver Airport: The Spirit of Haida Gwaii. The Jade Canoe, a traditional six metre long Haida cedar dugout canoe in green-coloured bronze represents the Aboriginal heritage of Haida Gwaii.

DSC00183 (Custom)

The canoe carries the following passengers: Raven, the trickster, holding the steering oar; Mouse Woman, crouched under Raven’s tail; Grizzly Bear, sitting at the bow and staring toward Raven; Bear Mother, Grizzly’s human wife; their cubs, Good Bear (ears pointed forward) and Bad Bear (ears pointed back); Beaver, Raven’s uncle; Dogfish Woman; Eagle; Frog; Wolf, claws imbedded in Beaver’s back and teeth in Eagle’s wing; a small human paddler in Haida garb known as the Ancient Reluctant Conscript; and, at the sculpture’s focal point, the human Shaman (Kilstlaai in Haida), who wears the Haida cloak and woven spruce root hat and holds a tall staff carved with images of Seabear, Raven, and Killer Whale.

The variety and interdependence of the canoe’s occupants represents the natural environment on which the ancient Haida relied for their survival: the passengers are diverse, and don’t always get along, but they must depend on one another to live.

I like that. I like the acknowledgement that we may not always live in harmony but we are dependent on each other. The sooner we accept this truth, the better for our world!

©Mary Smith 2018

What a fascinating place and my thanks to Mary for permitting me to delve into her archives to share..

A selection of books by Mary Smith

51yks9fxhfl-_uy250_ 51ujjsusehl-_uy250_ 51arfsi2ffl-_uy250_

A recent review Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni

Jan 24, 2019 Janice Spina rated it five stars

Drunk Chicken and Burnt Macaroni is a remarkable story of the lives of Afghan women as told by the author. She shares her adventures when she visits Afghanistan with her husband and son to start a clinic for women.

This book is a moving tribute to the courage, stamina and resilience of these women before the Taliban came to power there. The work that these women do to make broad changes to their lives is incredible in such adversity

The author’s work there helped these women realize how important it is to take care of their children’s health and their own. A school was set up to give these women the medical knowledge that they needed to.make a difference in their lives. It also enabled them to become stronger and more knowledgeable to help others and spread the word about the importance of being healthy and clean.

This book is a testament to women and their strength when they are needed to come forward. The Afghan men feared the women and their strength because it was not the way of Islam for women to be stronger than men. With some encouragement the men learned to be proud of their wives and what they were capable of doing to keep their family healthy and strong.

An engrossing read that makes this reader happy to be an American and live in the land of freedom and plenty. A must read for anyone who wants to learn about the difficulties women face in other countries.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Connect to Mary Smith

Website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/
Facebook addresshttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith
New Blog: https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/
Blog:   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07/

Thank you for joining us today and Mary would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – My Dad’s a Goldfish – Downhill slide by Mary Smith


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Time for the third post from the archives of author Mary Smith who manages two blogs for me to browse and select posts from. This week a post from My Dad’s a Goldfish which I am sure will strike a chord with those of you who have cared for elderly relatives suffering from dementia. I know it did with me.

My Dad’s a Goldfish – Downhill slide by Mary Smith

I had a holiday. The DH bought me a ticket to Vietnam for my 60th and off I went to stay with friends who were out there.

October 2014 028-800

One of many thousands of jaw-dropping beautiful shrines in Vietnam

I had a wonderful time although I suspected things were not going well at home when there was so little contact. In a way, I appreciated it because knowing there were problems would have made me anxious, especially as there was nothing I could have done about anything. On the other hand, we want to know, don’t we?

When I came home, the DH collected me from the station. The Goldfish was in the car. He didn’t speak to me, just stared out of the window. We arrived home and the DH said I should go in and he’d help the Goldfish out of the car. Only when we were inside did I realise what changes there had been in two weeks.

The Goldfish after a serious downhill slide

He had been admitted to hospital with urinary tract infection. The infection had cleared up but the person who had come home was little more than a human shell. I was totally dazed for the first few days back trying to make sense of the changes.

The Goldfish was no longer able to walk. He couldn’t move from his chair. He barely spoke. He needed to be helped to eat and helped to drink. The house is full of machinery – like the hoist and stand-aid.

Of course, I blamed myself for going away but fortunately did not say so as this could only be taken as a criticism of the care – or lack of it – DH and Wee-sis had taken of the Goldfish in my absence. I knew it would have happened even if I had been here.

We could never have managed without this piece of equipment – but how I hated it.

I kept quiet. I learned how to use the ‘stand-aid’ to transfer the Goldfish from his chair to his wheelchair, from his wheelchair to his bed, from his bed to the shower chair… I bought dishes whose bases could be filled with hot water so the food stayed warm during the long, long time it took the Goldfish to eat his meals. He did still enjoy his food. Sometimes helping him to eat made me think of a mother bird feeding a chick – his wide open mouth waiting for the next spoonful.

I didn’t cry, not then. I suppose in the moment there was no time for such self-indulgence, too much to do – but now the tears come. And they don’t help.

©Mary Smith 2016

I know how I used to feel when I left my mother for a week a month in the earlier days and you do need a break otherwise you are unable to sustain the constant need for vigilance. Even though they are in good hands, you worry. My thanks to Mary for sharing this with us.

A selection of books by Mary Smith

51yks9fxhfl-_uy250_ 51ujjsusehl-_uy250_ 51arfsi2ffl-_uy250_

A recent review Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni

Jan 24, 2019 Janice Spina rated it five stars

Drunk Chicken and Burnt Macaroni is a remarkable story of the lives of Afghan women as told by the author. She shares her adventures when she visits Afghanistan with her husband and son to start a clinic for women.

This book is a moving tribute to the courage, stamina and resilience of these women before the Taliban came to power there. The work that these women do to make broad changes to their lives is incredible in such adversity

The author’s work there helped these women realize how important it is to take care of their children’s health and their own. A school was set up to give these women the medical knowledge that they needed to.make a difference in their lives. It also enabled them to become stronger and more knowledgeable to help others and spread the word about the importance of being healthy and clean.

This book is a testament to women and their strength when they are needed to come forward. The Afghan men feared the women and their strength because it was not the way of Islam for women to be stronger than men. With some encouragement the men learned to be proud of their wives and what they were capable of doing to keep their family healthy and strong.

An engrossing read that makes this reader happy to be an American and live in the land of freedom and plenty. A must read for anyone who wants to learn about the difficulties women face in other countries.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Connect to Mary Smith

Website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/
Facebook addresshttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith
New Blog: https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/
Blog:   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07/

Thank you for joining us today and Mary would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Mary Smith’s Place – Karachi crocodiles


Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Time for the second post from the archives of author Mary Smith who manages two blogs for me to browse and select posts from. This week a post from Mary Smith’s Place which shares her visits to Manghopir in Pakistan where she worked for several years. The shrine to the ancient crocodile has had its ups and downs, but is now back on track as far as numbers are concerned…

Mary Smith’s Place – Karachi crocodiles

I apologise for the lack of decent photos to accompany this post. I visited Manghopir several times, taking many photos of the crocodiles and of the shrine, the busy shops around it and of the hot springs but I can’t find them. I suspect they were in the albums thrown out after our previous cat sprayed on them. He had a tendency, after a stray kitten tried to take up residence, to mark everything in the house as his.

The legendary crocodiles that guard the shrine of Saint Mangho (ManghoPir) were piled in a heap, under a tree. They looked very muddy, and suspiciously lifeless. The shrine, or mazar, lies to the north of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. There are two springs beside it, one hot, and one cold. Bathing tanks have been provided, for the water is reputed to cure all manner of ailments – from rheumatism through frigidity to skin diseases.

When Mangho arrived, in the middle of the thirteenth century from Iraq, in true hermit fashion, he chose a patch of arid desert in which to pray for grace. Making the cold water trickle from a rock was his doing. Producing his drinking water, however, seems to have exhausted Mangho’s miraculous powers, for no more are mentioned. Fortunately, he had some friends who turned up to lend a hand. The most famous of these, Qalander Lal Shah Baz of Sehwan, provided the hot spring.

Mangho’s other three friends – there is no general consensus as to who they were, everyone cites the names of their personal favourites – joined in the miracle making. One produced, from the twig with which Mangho cleaned his teeth, a date palm oasis. Another provided honey and melted butter which rained from the trees. According to some versions of the story, the fourth friend caused a wilting flower to change into a giant crocodile to guard Mangho and the shrine.

There are various legends to explain the existence of the crocodiles. My favourite is the one in which Mangho was terribly troubled by lice. These – as they do – made his head itch dreadfully. One day, driven mad by the itching, Mangho, in an unsaintly display of temper, stamped his feet. This dislodged a great number of lice – which turned into sacred crocodiles.

They are mugger crocodiles, looking rather like alligators but definitely a true crocodile. One more scientific explanation is that these crocodiles were carried through some heavy floods, during ancient times and gathered here. Archaeologists believe there was a Bronze Age community near Manghopir, which worshipped crocodiles.

Joining the other observers, I peered over the wall of the enclosure. As far as living legends go, they were a bit of a disappointment.

IMG_0008 (Small)

Staring at a bunch of crocodiles who only wanted to cuddle up to each other, wasn’t what I expected. Eventually, one, small and sluggish disengaged himself and waddled towards the pool, slipped smoothly into the murky water and promptly disguised himself as a partially sunken log.

IMG_0009 (Small)

Perhaps the crocodiles expected something more from the pilgrims? It used to be customary for supplicants to provide a sacrificial goat. Indeed, in the old days it must have been much more exciting. Then, the devotees of the saint, both reptile and human, shared the same bathing facilities. The humans, however, took exception to the crocodiles’ occasional tendency to eat them, and a separate enclosure was erected. Perhaps that was when the crocodiles began to tire of their role. Or perhaps that came later, in the days of the Raj – as suggested by none other than Sir Richard Burton, diplomat, explorer and translator of erotic literature.

According to his account in Sindh Revisited, the alligators, as he insists on calling them, were “once jolly as monks.” Their lives took a dramatic downturn when young subalterns from Karachi’s camps found it entertaining to pit their bull terriers against them. Should a crocodile, in defending itself, kill a dog, the men “would salute the murderer’s eyes and mouth with two ounces of shot” causing the creature to plunge into the water, “grunting as if it had a grievance.” I should think it did have a grievance and the subalterns’ behaviour didn’t do much for our reputation. All in all, it is not surprising the crocodiles show a marked inclination to ignore visitors and cuddle up to each other.

Worse was to come. The crocodiles began to die off. However much the British subalterns may have demoralised them, they were still breeding successfully in those days. In the 1950s, someone estimated there were over a hundred – although terror, at being in the actual enclosure with the reptiles may have led him to exaggerate. In fact, the cause of the alarming decline was down to nothing more sinister than Pakistani Government bureaucracy.

Traditionally, the custodianship of the crocodiles was handed down, father to son, through the centuries. A Government body – the Auqaf Department – responsible for Muslim shrines, decided to dispense with the services of the family. At that time there were twenty seven crocodiles. Within a couple of years, there were only two left. In 1972, Khan Mohammed was hastily re-appointed in an effort to save the sacred reptiles. Happily, it was a successful move. Crocodile numbers began to increase. The biggest one is called – and was even in Burton’s day – Mor Sahib, or Mr. Peacock.

There are two annual festivals, one of which marks the death anniversary of Mangho Pir. The other, the Sheedi Mela is to celebrate the crocodiles. The Sheedi are a minority group in Pakistan, said to have been African slaves belonging to Arab traders. Settling first along the Makran coast of Baluchistan, they later spread throughout the province and into neighbouring Sind. The Sheedi Mela was put on hold for seven years because of the political tensions around Manghopir and other parts of the city but it took place again in 2017.

During the Mela, Mor Sahib is covered in vermilion and given a goat by the devotees. When the disciples dance, day and night to the sound of drums, it is to an African rhythm. Quite what the crocodiles make of it is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it cheers them up a little. They look like they need a bit of revelry.

IMG_0011 (Small)

©Mary Smith 2018

My thanks to Mary for letting me have the freedom to browse her archives and select posts for you… I hope you have enjoyed getting up close and personal with these prehistoric monsters.

A selection of books by Mary Smith

51yks9fxhfl-_uy250_ 51ujjsusehl-_uy250_ 51arfsi2ffl-_uy250_

A recent review for No More Mulberries

I always enjoy a love story set in another culture because reading feels like a voyage of discovery. The kindness of the Afghan people warmed my heart as I followed the central character. The setting is completely alien to me, and I loved this backdrop.

People get on with their daily routines in spite of the war in Afghanistan. Scottish born Miriam has to adjust to the rhythms of Afghan life but experiences conflict. Smith manages to identify those elements of a new culture that alienate Miriam. The simple things we value are not familiar in Afghan culture. I found the conversation between Miriam and Fatima poignant.

‘Don’t you ever feel like walking – just getting out?

‘Why?’Fatima looked startled.

In Afghan culture women do not have thinking time. All the small differences contribute to Miriam’s sense of unease. The pivotal value of Afghan culture is ‘this thing about face – respect – reputation – honour.’ But to understand how this translates into the culture one has to read the book.

Charting Miriam’s marriages, this is a love story with a difference. Miriam goes on a journey of discovery to find out ‘what happened to the woman who married Jawad’.
No More Mulberries is a sensitive examination of love and cultural barriers. A fascinating read!

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Connect to Mary Smith

Website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/
Facebook addresshttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith
New Blog: https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/
Blog:   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07/

Thank you for joining us today and Mary would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #Potluck – My Dad’s a Goldfish – For John M by Mary Smith


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

My next guest in the new series of Posts from Your Archives is author Mary Smith.. I have two blogs to select the four posts from and the first is from her blog My Dad’s A Goldfish, where Mary shares here experiences caring for her father as his dementia worsened. In this post however, she shares the tragedy of the dementia of a school friend who she has remained in contact with, who developed the disease at a much earlier age. Very poignant…

My Dad’s a Goldfish – For John M by Mary Smith

A friend has recently gone into a care home. He has a rare form of frontotemporal dementia. It is progressive and irreversible. The brain’s frontal lobe controls planning, judgment, emotional control, behaviour, inhibition and its temporal lobe affects language, along with emotional response and behaviour.

We have been friends for over fifty years – from when he used to walk me home from school carrying my books. We did our homework on the phone. I helped him with English, he helped me with French. We shared so much over those growing up years. Our lives went off in different directions but we always kept the connection – until very recently.

He can no longer take care of himself. He is only sixty three.

I owe him a great deal for the windows onto new worlds he opened for me. I’d like to think I opened some for him, too. This is for him.

For John M

My family went to Fleetwood or
Scarborough for holidays but you –
you went to France, brought back
snails in a tin. We ate them
with garlic butter in the house
on Edinburgh Road. They were
chewy but delicious.

You played me Debussy’s
Clair de Lune, explaining how
he broke harmony’s rules.
Not a pianist, I didn’t understand
but loved the music.

You gave me Francoise Sagan novels.
I felt so grown up, worldly wise.
Introduced me to
the little sparrow, Edith Piaf,
to Collette, Camus:
opening windows onto new worlds.
I gained much from your love
of France and all things French.

Now, with clumps of protein
gumming up your brain,
you don’t read, conversation almost gone,
thought processes wrecked
you can’t remember
all you gave me.

I hope I let you know
before time ran out on us
how important you’ve been
and how thankful I am.

I think, though, you might
still remember those snails
and carrying my books home
from school.

©Mary Smith

My thanks to Mary for letting me have the freedom to browse her archives and select posts for you.. I am sure that you have felt the same emotional connection to this tribute to a dear friend.

A selection of books by Mary Smith

51yks9fxhfl-_uy250_ 51ujjsusehl-_uy250_ 51arfsi2ffl-_uy250_

A recent review for No More Mulberries

I always enjoy a love story set in another culture because reading feels like a voyage of discovery. The kindness of the Afghan people warmed my heart as I followed the central character. The setting is completely alien to me, and I loved this backdrop.

People get on with their daily routines in spite of the war in Afghanistan. Scottish born Miriam has to adjust to the rhythms of Afghan life but experiences conflict. Smith manages to identify those elements of a new culture that alienate Miriam. The simple things we value are not familiar in Afghan culture. I found the conversation between Miriam and Fatima poignant.

‘Don’t you ever feel like walking – just getting out?

‘Why?’Fatima looked startled.

In Afghan culture women do not have thinking time. All the small differences contribute to Miriam’s sense of unease. The pivotal value of Afghan culture is ‘this thing about face – respect – reputation – honour.’ But to understand how this translates into the culture one has to read the book.

Charting Miriam’s marriages, this is a love story with a difference. Miriam goes on a journey of discovery to find out ‘what happened to the woman who married Jawad’.
No More Mulberries is a sensitive examination of love and cultural barriers. A fascinating read!

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Connect to Mary Smith

Website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/
Facebook addresshttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith
New Blog: https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/
Blog:   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07/

Thank you for joining us today and Mary would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Summer #Sale – #FREE Books #Adventure #Children’s #Memoir – Mary Smith, Annabelle Franklin, Jemima Pett and Chuck Jackson


Welcome to the Summer Sale in the Cafe and Bookstore and today it is the turn of the FREE books currently available either on Amazon or Smashwords.

Whilst there is no pressure to review books that you download especially when they are free, I hope that you will enjoy all the selection today and share that with others. Thanks Sally

The first author who would love you to download and read one of her books is Mary Smith with No More Mulberries… I loved this book and can highly recommend it.  There are an impressive number of excellent reviews for the book which continues to delight readers. It is FREE from 14th to 18th inclusive.

About the book

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

One of the recent reviews for No More Mulberries.

No More Mulberries is more than just a love story but a tale of hardship, loss, survival against all odds, and the importance of family. It is a story about two people who are different as any two can be. Miriam, from Scotland meets Jawad, an Afghan, and fall in love. She moves to his country and begins a love affair with Afghanistan.

When Jawad suffers an untimely death Miriam must decide whether to go back to her own homeland of Scotland with her son or stay. She meets another Afghan man, Iqbal, and sees a way to stay in this country with her son.

The cultural differences are numerous and difficult for the couple to overcome. They must come to terms with complicated problems in her new husband’s past in order to continue with their life together. All couples, no matter what culture they come from, have similar setbacks to deal through.

The author takes the reader on a journey through this backward country and all its antiquated beliefs about medicine and education for girls. The reader is drawn to all the beauty that the author is detailing which shows the love she has for this country.

Although I have never traveled to this part of the world I felt an empathy for the people and their remarkable ability to survive. With the Taliban at their back door they are forced to escape or stand against evil.

This is an unforgettable story about the resilience of one woman to conquer what many could not fathom. An enjoyable book and a must read for all! Kudos to the author for an outstanding novel!

 Read more of the reviews and download the book for FREE 14th to 18th July: https://www.amazon.com/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith/dp/1849234205

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-More-Mulberries-Mary-Smith-ebook/dp/B005RRDZ12

A selection of books by Mary Smith

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

Connect to Mary via her website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/

Now time for some children’s books beginning with The Slapstyx by Annabelle Franklin which is on Free on Smashwords for all of July.

About The Slapstyx

The sea is dying, poisoned by greedy businessman Zachary Zigstack, who has enlisted the help of the Slapstyx goblins to make sure everyone buys his highly toxic detergent. These grubby goblins fill human homes with grime that can only be removed with Zigstack products. Psychic twins Georgie and Gem must use their magical skills to put an end to Zigstack’s unholy alliance with the Slapstyx.

Twin sisters Georgie and Gem care about the environment and are deeply ashamed of their stepfather Geoffrey, who sells detergents made of bad chemicals that fill the sea with toxic slime.

The twins try to convince Geoffrey to get another job, but he refuses. ‘ZOOM’ is the world’s best-selling cleaning product, and Geoffrey loves being a superstar salesman – even though his boss, Zachary Zigstack, only pays him peanuts.

Together with a tribe of grubby goblins called the Slapstyx, Zigstack has hatched an ingenious plan to make sure everyone buys his dastardly detergent. He has promised the Slapstyx a mountain of gold, which he has yet to deliver.

Georgie and Gem can leave their bodies at will and fly around in an astral vehicle they call their ‘dreambody’. This ‘dreamwalking’ enables them to travel to other dimensions and meet the creatures that live there. One night they dreamwalk to the goblin dimension and rumble Zigstack’s pact with the Slapstyx. The goblins threaten to kill them if they tell anyone about it.

The twins make friends with a mermaid called Eltra whose tribe – known as the Delphinae – look after the dolphins. The ZOOM overload in the sea has created toxic plankton-based monsters called Sloyds who are out to destroy all the other sea creatures. Eltra begs the twins for help.

Though they are terrified of the Slapstyx, Georgie and Gem promise Eltra they will try and stop them working for Zigstack. But can they do it before the world’s oceans are turned into toxic plankton soup?

More to the point, can they do it before the goblins put them out of action for good?

One of the reviews for the book

I have an eight year old step son who I think would absolutely adore this novel! It is a middle grade story about twin sisters who can leave their bodies and fly as spirits, and in Slapstyx by Annabelle Franklin, the twins are on a mission to stop an evil magician and his goblin cohorts from selling their uncleanly and unsafe “cleaning” product to the world.

Zachary Zigstack wants to take over the world with his product ZOOM!!! which is apparently going to rid the world of dirt and grime. In reality, he wants to pollute the ocean, and make the entire planet as unsanitary as possible. the twins, Gem and Georgie use their magical projection powers to spy on Zachary and his evil goblins and try to find a way to stop them from polluting the planet.

This was a cute book for a pre-teen, I definitely think that my step son would enjoy it. It’s clear, concise, and has a message that all kids should learn about. The characters of Georgie and Gem were likable, though I felt that the girls weren’t strong in their differences, and they were kind of paper dolls (meaning that they didn’t have very distinct personalities that a pre-teen would look up to), I did think that they were fun and enjoyed their relationship with each other. I however did enjoy the character of Zachary much more, I could just seem him using his dark magic, and bent over himself rubbing his palms together.

One of my favorite things in movies, television, and even books, is when the title is odd, or doesn’t make sense, until you watch or read, and this is the perfect example of that! Slapstyx is an interesting title, but works great with this book! I give this a 4 out of 5 stars, a fun, charming adventure that any kid would love to go on, it’s a socially conscious one too.

Head over and get your FREE copy at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/546261

Also by Annabelle Franklin

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Annabelle-Franklin/e/B00CHL8RF0

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annabelle-Franklin/e/B00CHL8RF0/

And read more reviews and follow Annabelle on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6904737.Annabelle_Franklin

Connect to Annabelle through her blog: http://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com

The next children’s author with her books free in July is Jemima Pett with four books to be snapped up. Starting with The Princelings of the North – ( Book 8 of the Princelings of the East)

About the book

Dylan and Dougall are princelings at Castle Haunn, a remote place to the far northwest of an island off the coast of Scotland. So when they discover a prince locked in a tower, their thoughts turn to rescue and returning him to his rightful place in a castle hundreds of miles away. But nothing is ever that easy, and what starts as a simple mission turns into a nightmare that rocks the foundations of the Realms.

One of the recent reviews on Goodreads

Apr 18, 2018 Ahdev rated it it was amazing  ·

A very nice read. Adventurous ride which adults can enjoy as well!

This is the book 8 in the series but one can even read it as a standalone, as the author has given character introductions in the beginning itself. It’s very easy to grasp the story and get engrossed with the Princelings Dylan & Dougall and exiled Prince Kevin’s journey!

The writing is simple and neat, engaging throughout. The chapter drawings and its one-two line details are great ideas! I loved the story and all the characters, a nice travel with fantasy and kingdoms and power games! And happy with the good ending too!! Recommended for all :

Head over and download your FREE copy from Smashwords (the first 50 to apply): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/732380

Also FREE for July on Smashwords.

The Book Elves Anthologies Volumes 1 and 2: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/493196

The Perihelix (book 1 of the Viridian series) FREE for the first 50 readers https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/607252

A small selection of other books by Jemima Pett

 Read all the reviews for all the books and buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jemima-Pett/e/B006F68PVE/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jemima-Pett/e/B006F68PVE

Read more reviews and follow Jemima on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5388872.Jemima_Pett

Connect to Jemima via her blog:  http://jemimapett.com/blog/

The final author today with a FREE offer is Chuck Jackson for his new release Guilt – My CompanionA Journey to Healing. Chuck has asked for some feedback on the book should you download it, and has a couple of other requests if you would like to take advantage of this offer between now and the 17th of July. You will need to go to Chuck’s website to get the link which takes you to the free giveaway for US residents only I am afraid. Chuck Jackson’s Free Guilt – My Companion

About Guilt – My Companion

Guilt—My Companion is a story based on the author’s strength and recovery from a dysfunctional family. It begins in the ‘60s during a period filled with social and personal injustice. It tells the struggle of his conscience against societies’ ignorance and prejudice. It follows his journey to recoup from personal tragedy and grief. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Live is a journey, not a destination.”.

But for this story, the journey is the destinations he took. It wasn’t where he intended, and he had little control of the paths he took. Along those paths were heartaches and defeat. He found deception, prejudice, and hate. Lay in waiting was his companion, guilt; the robber of personal pleasure. Follow his story and discover when he conquered guilt, there was nothing inhibiting his self-growth and happiness.

One of the reviews for the book

Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars The epilogue best describes the outcome June 20, 2018

The book stayed true to the title. I found it gripping and, in many cases, difficult to comprehend the cruelty imposed upon the author. The epilogue best describes the outcome: (1) Healing involved a desire to change the habit of carrying baggage, and (2) professional help. The author, Denis Waitley, wrote that “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” I believe that the author’s journey possessed all of these.

Without grace, he would not have made the remarkable life he has lived. Without love, he couldn’t fight against the emotional abuse of hate. Without gratitude, he couldn’t have written his books.

This book is for all of us; for the times we’ve allowed ourselves to wallow in the darkness of resentment and anger, guilt, and subsequent depression. By sharing this journey, the author opened up his heart with love, grace, and gratitude and gave us this book.

To get your free download of the book in the US: Chuck Jackson’s Free Guilt – My Companion

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Guilt-My-Companion-Journey-Healing/dp/1717393012

And buy Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guilt-My-Companion-Journey-Healing-ebook/dp/B07CPZJ4BQ

Also by Chuck Jackson

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Chuck-Jackson/e/B01IX2PBEG

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chuck-Jackson/e/B01IX2PBEG

Connect to Chuck via his website/blog: http://www.chuckjacksonknowme.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will take advantage of these free offers and enjoy the books… If you have any of your books FREE in July then please let me know on sally.cronin@moyhill.com as soon as possible. thanks Sally