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 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Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat.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.


Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #Writing Jane Sturgeon, #Poetry Leon Stevens, #Coming of age Bette A. Stevens

There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.

In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.

Meet Jane Sturgeon

Jane Sturgeon has been a systems analyst, trainer, technical author, painter, psychic medium, furniture restorer, de-clutterer, therapist and creative. She has lived in Africa and The States, looked after many farms, loved through two marriages, is Mum to an extraordinary young woman and loves making things. She lives next to the Mersey River where it meets the Irish Sea and shares her life with loved ones and an impressive collection of yarn.

Self-awareness is the first book in her Writing on Water series. Her creative services can be found at and more information can be found on her blog

A recent review for Writing on Water

Stuart Crowe5.0 out of 5 stars READ AND READ AGAIN Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 May 2020

A short book maybe, but certainly a thought provoking book. Certainly a book if I had read a week or so ago, I certainly would have had second thoughts about questions I asked. If I had of read it year and years ago, there would have been certainly more thoughts given to the question of where and what do I do now. A very interesting read and a little bit of an insight into someone else’s life and thought processes. A book that needs reading again.

Jane Sturgeon, Buy: Amazon UK And : Amazon US – Follow Jane: Goodreads –  blog:Jane Sturgeon WordPressTwitter: @JaneSturgeon3

Meet Leon Stevens

Leon Stevens is a writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education.

I started to write poetry and song lyrics to make sense of the world around me. Along with my poetry, I also published a book of my classical guitar compositions. I then began to blog, for much the same reasons, but has since turned into an avenue for my odd sense of humor. I enjoy making people laugh, chuckle, or at least smile a bit (it’s always hard to make someone actually laugh when they are alone). I created the cartoon “The Miniscules” ( Instagram @lines_by_leon), which is is a low res (very) avenue for my weird ideas.

During this current crisis I have been writing and composing more. “The Lockdown Hoedown (Quarantine Reel)” came about after hearing how some musicians were using the isolation as inspiration to create new works and cover songs of their favorites. Despite the name, it’s a cheery tune.

I am currently writing a series of short sci-fi stories and some post-apocalyptic tales/poems called The Knot at the End of the Rope. My short stories are influenced by the early sci-fi writers when imagination trumped technological knowledge.

One of the recent reviews for the collection by Lola of et la vie on 15th July 2020

I loved this poetry collection. It is only short and quite light-hearted, even if it deals with some deeper subjects. To be honest, I found it a breath of fresh air and it was a joy to read.

I liked the cadence of the poems a lot. The author is a musician and songwriter as well and I think some of that is reflected in the poems, which sometimes feel like pieces of lyrics in the best possible way. It was easy for me to connect to them and to visualize what the poet was talking about. A lot of them made me smile, mostly in recognition!

There are some illustrations scattered throughout that add a nice touch. At the end of a book the addition of a graphic novel element and some fragments of short stories should feel out of place, but somehow do not.

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I will be buying myself a physical copy. I will keep an eye out for anything else Leon Stevens publishes in the future.

Highly recommended! Lola (Link to full review on her website)  

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

Meet Bette A. Stevens

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). The author is currently (2019) working on two poetry collections. MY MAINE: Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection (2019).

Books by Bette A. Stevens


One of the recent reviews for Dog Bone Soup on Goodreads

Jun 07, 2020 Erica Henault rated it Five Stars

“Dog Bone Soup: A Boomer’s Journey” is an engaging, heartwarming, coming of age story taking place in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I vividly remember this time period where we also had one of the first televisions on our block.

The protagonist in this story is Shawn Daniels, the eldest of four children. He grows up in a poor, dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. Many of us can relate to how alcohol addiction affects people close to us or even within our families.

Shawn’s character is inspirational in how he thrives and succeeds despite many challenges and obstacles in his life.

Bette Stevens expertly weaves “Dog Bone Soup” throughout the story. Shawn’s Mother, Henrietta, displays strength of character, persistence and deeply rooted work ethic keeping food on the table and making a home for her children. The food is often soup made from the leftover bones from the butcher. Henrietta does whatever it takes to raise her children, modelling values and expecting the best from them.

Bette Stevens also shows us how love and nurturing can come from many different people throughout a child’s life.

“Dog Bone Soup” is uplifting and enjoyable. I found myself often smiling, reading about the children’s fun games and antics.

Bette Stevens does an excellent job capturing the time period. The characters are timeless and relatable.

“Dog Bone Soup” is a beautifully written and entertaining story. I found this book captivating from the beginning to the end. I highly recommend “Dog Bone Soup” for teens and adults of all ages!

Bette A. Stevens, BuyAmazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Bette: Goodreads – Blog:4 Writers and ReadersTwitter: @BetteAStevens

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will explore these authors and their books further.. thanks Sally.