Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews -#Horses Jan Sikes, #Comingofage Bette A. Stevens, #Romance Ritu Bhathal


Welcome to the first of the cafe updates for the week, with recent reviews for authors in the cafe and bookstore.

The first author is award winning Jan Sikes with a recent review for the short story Satin and Cinders

About the story

A wild black stallion has cautiously watched a beautiful white mare, from the safety of the forest for many years. He longs to be with her, and ventures close to the barn nightly to communicate with her. They share their deepest desires and secrets. Now it is winter, and the rest of the wild herd has moved on, but the stallion stays. He cannot stand the thought of being so far away from her. The scent of sweet alfalfa hay and the enticing lure of the white mare is too much for him. He must find a way to be with her. But will it be worth the risk? Satin and Cinders is a story of courage and determination.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Young 5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Story  Reviewed in the United States on June 15, 2020

Satin & Cinders is a story told through the eyes of a stallion named Cinders. This verboten love story centers around two horses – Satin, a white tamed mare, and Cinders, a wild black stallion. This micro read book could well be about two people in love from different backgrounds. This enticing tale by Author Jan Sikes is both inspiring and elevating in more ways than just a love story between two horses. An enjoyable read indeed.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of  books by Jan Sikes

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

And find more reviews and follow Jan: Goodreads

Connect to Jan via her blog: Jan Sikes WordPress

The next review is for author and poet Bette A. Stevens and her coming of age novel Dog Bone Soup: A Boomer’s Journey

About the book

Whether or not You Grew Up in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll find DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction) to be soup for the soul. In this coming-of-age novel, Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning, splitting and stacking firewood…But when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. DOG BONE SOUP is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living The American Dream.

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!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Bette A. Stevens

***Pure Trash on offer at 99c/99p through to July 4th***

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Bette: Goodreads

Connect to Bette A. Stevens via her blog:  4 Writers and Readers

And the final 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

ElizabethC 5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing romance read.  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 June 2020

If you are looking for a wonderful romance read full of flavour and contrast, then take a look at this book. The characters are beautifully written and you are transported into their world at every turn of the page. This is a love story with lots of twists and turns, heartbreak, unfaithful relationships and ultimately, happiness. The story is rich in culture, heritage and family expectations. Perfect for those who love a romantic novel to add to their bookshelf.

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

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

Connect to Ritu via her blog: But I smile anyway

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – #Scifi Richard Dee, #Romance Ritu Bhathal, #Thriller Carol Balawyder


Welcome to the first of the Cafe and Bookstore updates this week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with a review to share is Richard Dee for Survive: The Tale of Ballantyne Alysom

About the book

If your Captain won’t keep you safe, who will?

An interplanetary surveying expedition ends in disaster. The survivors are stranded; on a beautiful but savage planet.

Making it home will be hard enough, without having to fight each other. Can the truth survive one man’s desire to make a name for himself?

Ballantyne Alysom is the Galaxy’s most famous explorer.

Davis Jansen is the cameraman he takes to record his latest mission. Alysom is giving nothing away, except that it’s something that’s never been seen before.

When things go wrong, they are marooned on a savage and uncharted planet. The survivors need a leader they can rely on. Jansen watches and records it all as Alysom’s true
character is revealed. He’s not the genial and fearless explorer that everyone sees.

The Far Explorer is a ship riddled with infighting and jealousy, Alysom is controlling and arrogant, nothing like the man that his reputation suggests. Jansen’s efforts to expose
the truth carry just as much risk as surviving on the planet did.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Norats Inthecorn 5.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi Fans Will Love This  Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2020

Imaginative futuristic story about space exploration gone wrong, interwoven with the survivors’ testimony on a television show about their harrowing ordeal after crash-landing on a strange planet rife with deadly creatures and amazing discoveries. Author Richard Dee has either done tremendous research into the technicalities of everything related to space exploration, etc., or he’s a dang genius. His writing is superb, his characterizations distinct, and his imagination – well – out of this world.

“Survive. The Tale of Ballantyne Alysom” is the first in a series. This series will appeal to fans of Science Fiction as well as those who like a good study in narcissism, for the main character, Ballantyne, is narcissism on steroids. Add to that the twists and turns, unexpected revelations, and underlying theme of corporate greed exploiting the expendable, and you’ve got a story that keeps you doing the, “just one more chapter,” thing. This is another one on my Recommendation List. Five stars.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

A selection of other books by Richard Dee

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Richard: Goodreads

Connect to Richard via his website: Richard Dee’s Scifi

And the next 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

Lora S. 5.0 out of 5 stars A great book to read during a quarantine  Reviewed in the United States on May 4, 2020

This is a great book to read while you are shut up at home during a quarantine. It offers a look inside the lives of a bubbly group of young people, and even gives you the chance to visit India!

Aashi is living in London, but her family is from India. At the beginning of the story, she is engaged to Ravi, also an Indian living in London. But Ravi doesn’t appear to be as committed to the relationship as Aashi. When she discovers he is seeing somebody else, she freaks out and breaks off the engagement.

Her parents are somewhat embarrassed, but they are devastated for her, knowing that she is a good girl and hasn’t done anything wrong. Eventually, they decide that, instead of canceling the trip that Aashi and her mother were planning to make to India to shop for wedding necessities, they will allow Aashi and her best friend, Kiran to make the trip instead – sending Aashi’s two brothers along to chaperone the girls.

They get to do a lot of sight-seeing and, especially, shopping while there. Aashi’s oldest brother visits the shop where they had intended to have her wedding dress made. Of course, that isn’t needed anymore, but Sunny negotiates a deal with the designer to sell his fashions in the family’s shop back in London. This also leads to some interesting outings for the group while they are in Delhi.

One special trip they make is to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the head temple of the Sikh religion, to celebrate Vaisakhi, the day they celebrate the birth of their religion.

On the plane on the way over, they meet Arjun, a cute boy about their age. He hits it off with all of them right away and travels with them for most of the time they are there. Aashi sort of likes him, but he seems to already have a girlfriend…

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

and : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

Connect to Ritu via her blog: But I smile anyway

And the final author today is Carol Balawyder  – with a review for her psychological thriller – Warning Signs: A novel about Obsession.

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

A recent review for the book

Ellie Marrandette 5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly well-written novel into the world of evil  Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

This intelligent, well-written psychological thriller will remain in the reader’s mind long after finishing it, Carol Balawyder’s background in criminology is clearly evident in the detailed way she delves into the complex brain of the mentally insane. The author’s ability to create sympathy for a despicable protagonist reminded me of the novel, “House of Sand and Fog.” The story beautifully unfolds in such soft steps that the reader cares about all the characters involved, while rooting for ultimate justice to be done. This novel will not disappoint.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Carol Balawyder

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Carol on: Goodreads

Connect to Carol via her blog- Carol Balawyder

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

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #Fantasy A.J. Alexander, #Family Judith Barrow, #Romance Ritu Bhathal


Welcome to the first of the Cafe update for the week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves..

The first author with a recent review is A.J.Alexander with Sundance: 2nd book of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series

About the book

Sundance is a promising young Warrior Angel, the first in centuries to join the Divine Army. With the help of one of the most powerful Archangels, her skill and talent develop, allowing her to master some of the most difficult tasks that face her kind.Sundance, under the supervision of the ‘Council of Twelve’ seeks to prove that she deserves her unusual gifts in the eternal fight between good and evil. Follow her adventures as she discovers love, fights the good fight, and finds herself in the heat of battle trying to keep her wings from being singed.

One of the reviews for the book

JannyC 5.0 out of 5 stars Renews your love of fantasy  Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2020

Sundance (The Council of Twelve Series Book 2) has renewed my love of fantasy/paranormal romance. I can honestly say no book has ever done that. In book 2 we encounter 7-year-old Cara. Her parents tell her she is literally a gift from God…on a loan so to speak. You see her parents prayed for a child and God granted their wish, but she has to be returned after 7 years. When Cara suddenly falls ill with a mysterious illness, she awakens to find herself in heaven? Well sort of. She actually is told she is in sort of an angel army school to make sure if she is the right fit for the angelic army of God. Cara passes with flying colors and gains the new name of Sundance as she officially becomes a warrior angel in training. She excels at her position showcasing skills that have not been seen in an angel in a long time. This captures the attention of the Council of Twelve. Under their supervision, Sundance is exposed to her maximum potential with extraordinary powers. When evil strikes will Sundance be powerful enough to win against them? Or has her growing closeness and love with a human warrior she has fought beside hinder her? Got to read to find out!

A. J. Alexander has created a wonderful world here. Her writing is soft and poetic fantasy personified. Sundance herself is written with wit, innocence and kickass skills. Alexander’s craft of writing action scenes is skilled. Alexander will have your attention on every page turn!
While this is book two in the series you really don’t have to of had to read book 1. Though it is recommended for there are cameo appearances from two of the leading characters from book 1. A delighted joy for me from having read book 1. You will be dying to know how this all connects and pans out in the series. Alexander has you hooked.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by A. J. Alexander

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK 

Connect to A.J. Alexander via her website: Aurora Jean Alexander

The next author is Judith Barrow with a review for her recently released compelling family drama The Memory.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

“…A book that is both powerful and moving, exquisitely penetrating. I am drawn in, empathising so intensely with Irene that I feel every twinge of her frustration, resentment, utter weariness and abiding love.Thorne Moore

Judith Barrow’s greatest strength is her understanding of her characters and the times in which they live; The Memory is a poignant tale of love and hate in which you will feel every emotion experienced by Irene.” Terry Tyler

The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga

One of the recent reviews

MacTrish 5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping. Moving. Powerful. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 March 2020

I read Judith Barrow’s Howarth saga and loved it. When I heard that she’d written something else, something different, I was afraid I might be disappointed. I needn’t have worried. The Memory is a powerful book that holds you in its grip until the final, perfect page.
It has two timelines. The current one exposes the physical and emotional exhaustion that often accompanies the care of a family member. Irene and her mother are locked in a claustrophobic battle that is vivid, real and frighteningly credible. The other timeline follows Irene’s life from just before the birth of her sister Rose who has Down’s Syndrome. The portrayal of Rose is beautiful and moving. Irene’s selfless care for her sister underpins so much of the novel.

There are hardships, hatred and poverty running parallel with selfless love and sacrifice. I loved Sam for his strength and support of Irene and there were times when I loathed her mother. These aren’t two-dimensional characters, though, and the author brings them to life with an understanding of what drives the decisions that they make.

The writing is what I’ve come to expect from Judith Barrow. The effortless prose brings a fresh quality to the mundane and familiar.

There’s also a building menace to the book and a sense of foreboding that drives you on right to the surprising end. This is a remarkable book and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

And:  Amazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judith: Goodreads

Connect to Judith via her blog: Judith Barrow

And the final author today is Ritu Bhathal for her recently released 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

Deb 5.0 out of 5 stars Love, friendship and honour  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 March 2020

This is the first book I’ve read by Ritu Bhathal and I have to say I really loved it! I learned some amazing facts about a different culture I knew nothing about.

The story begins with Aashi and Ravi looking forward to wedding plans. Not everything goes to plan and Aashi joins her brothers and best friend Kiran on a trip to India. Sunny (brother) has business to discuss in India. While they’re away Ravi has a lot to think about and Aashi’s good name is dirtied.

I love Aashi’s best friend Kiran and her love of chocolate and feistiness. I loved meeting Milan with all his love and grandeur. Arjun is also a delight, great sense of humour and kind.
I never knew how much food was loved in their culture and my days it sounded delicious. Their travels are so colourful and I felt almost there, also the different beliefs and customs, such as the ‘Evil eye.’

Un- arranged Marriage is a beautiful story about family, love and friendship. Beliefs and honour.

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

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

Connect to Ritu via her blog: But I smile anyway

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

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Romance – Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal


Delighted to review 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.

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

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

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.

Connect to Ritu

Blog: But I smile anyway
Facebook page:Ritu Bhathal Poet and Storyteller
Twitter: @RituBhathal

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – #Scifi Richard Dee, #Romance Ritu Bhathal, #Thriller Stevie Turner


Welcome to the first of the author updates of the week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves of the bookstore.

The first author with a recent review is Richard Dee for the SF murder mystery Ribbonworld.

About the book

‘Review a hotel for me,’ she said. ‘It’ll be easy,’ she said. I haven’t even got started and there’s a body in the bathroom.

Journalist Miles Goram has a problem. Far from home on a strange planet, all he wants to do is review the hotel and go home. Someone else has other ideas. Just out of prison, his life is hard enough. Is this to do with his past?

Welcome to Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome. It is on this airless wasteland that Miles finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a huge interplanetary corporation, a powerful man and his ambitious PA, and a beautiful young heiress who has been missing for years.

Crossing the galaxy in search of answers, Miles begins to uncover a web of deceit that stretches further than anyone could have imagined.

Will he discover the truth and finally come to terms with his past? And, if he does, will it be enough to save his future…?

Richard Dee’s fast-paced, beautifully depicted SF murder mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!

One of the recent reviews for the book

Thoroughly entertaining space adventure with a sympathetic protagonist and a large corporation up to no good. So far, so enjoyable and very familiar – this is a dynamic that regularly plays out in space opera. What makes this one stand out from the crowd is that ribbonworld Reevis… The fabulous descriptions of the human habitation perched in the narrow strip between freezing cold and volcanically hot were riveting and added an exciting dimension that Dee uses to the full extent in the action sequences. Highly recommended for fans of space opera that enjoy excellent worldbuilding.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

A small selection of other books by Richard Dee

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Richard: Goodreads

Connect to Richard via his website: Richard Dee’s Scifi

The next review is for the latest book by Ritu Bhathal… a novel 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…

An extract from one of the recent reviews for Marriage Unarranged on Goodreads

Once you meet Aashi and her plight you won’t want to let go of the book. She is naive, bless her, when we first meet her and arranged husband Ravi, he is a bit shifty and we know before she does what he’s been doing! Douche bag alert! What then follows is such a lovely tale of not only letting go but of rediscovering yourself.

I love that this is heavily loaded with the traditionalism of Sikhs, down to the terms of endearments and phrases. We learn about arranged marriages and what happens with broken engagements and the dispersions of gossip and social cast that come with it.

Aashi trying to deal with her heartbreak still wants to go to India with her best friend Kiran and her brothers Bali and Sunny. This unit is such a fab unit to have the pleasure of being a part of for 2 weeks while we get to discover the “true” India with them. Plus the addition of Arjun who is out to discover it too all makes you feel like you are on the journey with them. We are not on the outside looking in, we are on the adventure with them, on rickshaws travelling through the streets, to the sounds of the markets with everyone vying for your business and attention. To the breathtaking celebration of Vaisakha with the temple lit up by the lights at 4 am and then the dawn as the sun broke. Everywhere you look on the tour is bright and bursting with colours and this is definitely a book that will leave you with a smile on your face.

I learned so much with Marriage Unarranged, growing up one of my best friends was a Sikh and the other was a Muslim, and they tried to teach me so much of their traditions and how everything was set out for them. I found it, still do, so fascinating as it is not the life I have lived. Having to have parents permission today date someone and to have chaperones is something I can not comprehend.

I love this journey of growth and strength for Aashi. She is someone I felt protective of, but not too sympathetic because she would hate that! She starts a timid naive girl, but when confronted at the end by the douche Ravi, and his sister Narinder. The strength Aashi has in front of them shows how much she has grown into a confident young woman!

It’s hard to talk too much about the plot but Ritu has created such a pool of wonderful characters that I want to be back with them and I told her I needed a sequel. Good news there is one on its way! For a debut, the writing is strong and eloquent and you feel like you are there experiencing India with all the characters. The smell and sounds of the markets, the lumpy beds, the stunning and bright array of colours and the fear for your life on a rickshaw! It was just such a wonderful story to lose myself in. It made me smile and it is, to me, a love story with a difference. Especially with that ending!!! I can’t wait to find out more and soon!

I loved, loved and breathed Aashi story and I can’t wait to get back with the gang. Now I need to save my money to go on a trip to India and experience what they have done! It just sounds amazing!

Buy the book: Amazon UK

And : Amazon US

Also by Ritu Bhathal

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

andAmazon US

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

Connect to Ritu:But I smile anyway

And for the last featured book today, a recent review for Stevie Turner and her thriller Examining Kitchen Cupboards

About the book

Jill Hayes discovers that not all is as it seems in her new post as a college examinations administrator. When she turns whistle-blower and tries to report her findings to the authorities, she is horrified to discover that some people will stop at nothing to ensure her silence.

For readers’ information: Although the characters and college are fictional, the actual exam question that sparked Jill’s nightmare is a genuine one from 1999.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jan 04, 2020 Jacqui rated it it was amazing Five Stars

In Stevie Turner’s latest novel, Examining Kitchen Cupboards (2019), Jill Hayes takes on a new job In a college exam administration office. She had hoped it would lead to a career but quickly discovered it was much too technical for her skillset. As she struggles to learn the complicated tasks that would allow her to succeed, she stumbles upon illicit activities that she feels honor-bound to report. No one will listen–not the newspapers, the college, or even the agency responsible for the exams–until finally someone does. Things don’t work out as Jill had hoped.

This is a well-told story of a whistle blower’s efforts to fix a serious problem. It is told from various perspectives which adds to the depth of understanding about how complicated it can be to report actions when lots of people don’t want to admit there’s even a problem. It was at times difficult to read but the importance is significant–which is why it earned the 5/5.

A small selection of other books by Stevie Turner

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Follow Stevie Turner on: Goodreads

Connect to Stevie via her blog: Stevie Turner on WordPress

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