Blog Splash for #AConvenientMarriage

Cover showing brown henna patterned hands, making a heart shape

A Convenient Marriage by my alter ego Jeevani Charika is released on Thursday and, in order to celebrate, a few of my author friends are joining me in a blog splash.

We are blogging around three main prompts. Since I set them, it’s only fair that I answer all three:

1.       Both Chaya and Gimhana make huge decisions in their lives to please their families. What’s the strangest thing you’ve done because of your family? …

This was really hard. It’s not strange, as such, but one thing I did was study science. I was good at English and I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was also good at science. My father suggested I do science, so that I can get a real job and then write in my ‘spare time’. So that’s what I did. Studying science at university, meant that I had to stop writing for a long time. But it also meant that I can work part time using my science, which is handy for keeping the wolf from the door. It also means I can give my heroines sciencey professions. Chaya studied Biochemistry and microbiology, just like I did. We are supposed to write what we know, so I gave her my subjects. I gave Gimhana my foodie tendencies and my love of Jem and the Holograms.

2.       One of the ways Gimhana shows he cares is by cooking for Chaya.  Is there a food that evokes particular memories for you? …

Outside school in Colombo, there were street vendors who sold mangoes – not the ripe, juicy ones you’re thinking of, oh no. These mangoes were green and unripe, they were peeled and sliced partway, so that you could hold the base and tear strips of it off to eat. You dipped them in a mixture of salt and chili powder. They cost about 5 rupees, as I recall. They’re an intense burst of salt, sour heat.

These days, I don’t eat much salt and sometimes I get a craving for crisps. Knowing that the thing I’m really craving is salt, I chop up an apple and dip the slices in salt. Every time I pop one in my mouth, I am reminded of the street vendors mangoes and hot, sticky days taking the van home from school, made even stickier by a green mango and bag of chili and salt.

3.       This book spans seventeen years – If you could talk to your younger self from 20 years ago, what would you tell them?

First of all, it came as a bit of shock to realise that 20 years ago, I was already an adult! I would have been a grad student, already in love with the fellow grad student I would marry, and rapidly realising that academia was too confrontational for me. Apart from reassuring my younger self that things would be okay, I would tell her to write more. When I was an undergraduate, I didn’t write fiction. Partly, this was because I didn’t think I was good enough. Surely, I thought, all the clever people doing English would be able to write amazing prose and even if I did submit something to one of the student newspapers, they’d reject it… so I didn’t. It was only as a grad student that I started writing again. Still not fiction – I wrote film and restaurant reviews for the Oxford Daily Information sheet (It was a wonderful thing – brightly coloured A3 sheets that came out daily and were distributed around town). I’d tell my younger self to be brave and join a creative writing group; to write fiction and to meet other writers. If I’d done that, I might have ended up with useful connections. As it happens, I didn’t know anyone who had anything to do with publishing when I left uni. I had to network from the ground up. Thank goodness for the RNA, which was the most fun networking I’ve ever done.

A Convenient Marriage will be released on the 14th of November. This was the first novel I wrote and it has a special place in my heart.

Cover showing brown henna patterned hands, making a heart shape

It was the perfect marriage… until they fell in love.

Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.

Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow their heart?

Buy link : https://books2read.com/AConvenientMarriage

Book Review: This Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik

This Green and Pleasant LandThis Green and Pleasant Land 
 by Ayisha Malik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.
Bilal is a mild mannered accountant who lives in the quintessentially English village of Babbel’s End. He’s been an active member of the community and seems to be accepted by everyone in the village. Until he decides to honour his mother’s dying wish that he build a mosque in the village.

This book is largely about racism – the everyday, insidious kind that people aren’t even aware of, until they are pushed a bit. THere’s no great violence, but there’s petty hate crime (graffiti, nasty notes) and huge amounts of antagonism based entirely on the fear of the ‘other’. It covers the nightmare of friendships fractured and the shattering of a sense of belonging. It also shows the joy of people being supportive.

There are several points of view in the book, which means you get the see the situation through the eyes of the man grieving his mother, the wife having doubts about her life, the reverend who is trying to keep everything in balance, the village busybody who would never consider herself to be racist, the elderly Pakistani lady who is finally working out who she is (she was my favourite). It’s hard to write a book about something so big and not demonise either side, but Ayisha Malik manages to pull it off. She also captures that odd second generation feeling of your identity being mostly British, with a hint of the country your parents left behind.

I enjoyed this book very much. It’s warm, funny, angry and moving in turns. A great read.

Buy link UK

Buy link US

Belonging – more reviews

Here are some more reviews from when Belonging went on tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. They are so lovely.

“A short story that will leave you entertained, enlightened and reaching to make that call to a friend or love one who you haven’t spoken to in a while. ” Hayley Reviews 10

“The romance was sweet and emotional… and the ending to this little gem of a story was absolute perfection!” Audio Killed the Bookmark

“… an uplifting story which shows its best to open up and share your grief and deal with in head on” That Thing She Reads

“Rhoda Baxter gives her readers a deeper insight into the grieving process in this witty, heartfelt novella!” Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews

“My heart broke for Niamh.” Dash Fan Book Reviews

“A lovely heart warming read … Would definitely recommend, but don’t forget the tissues!” Stardust Book Reviews

 

Why not check out Belonging and see if you agree with the reviews?

Buy now button

Belonging – so many reviews!

Book cover for Belonging small town romance

Belonging went on tour with the fabulous crew from Rachel’s Random Resources. After a brilliant week, there are now lots of reviews. This book is a little darker than my usual books, so I was a bit worried about how it would be received. I needn’t have worried. Here are just some of the reviews from the tour. The words ’emotional’ and ‘heartwarming’ come up a lot:

“This is a quick read, but really packs an emotional punch.” The Book Review 

“It is an emotive, contemporary family drama and romance, with a lovely ending to leave you with a smile on your face.” “I enjoyed it so much that I went to look at other books by this author “ Splashes Into Books

“Second chances, new beginnings and a heartwarming vibe make this book extra special!”  Rae Reads

“The story is not just a quick chick lit read it is quite emotional at times and has some real added depth that made it stand out for me.” Donna’s Book Blog

“A lovely and emotional story.”  B for Book Review

More reviews tomorrow.

Want to check it out for yourself? (it’s free on Kindle Unlimited)Buy now button

Book review: My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

My Best Friend's GirlMy Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read a Dorothy Koomson book for a while – people keep recommending them to me.

My Best Friend’s Girl is about Kamryn, who is asked by her best friend Adele to adopt her (Adele’s) little girl Tegan when she dies. Adele betrayed Kamryn in a pretty major way, so Kamryn has to forgive Adele and come to terms with the fact that Adele is dying all in a mad rush.

This is a book about trust and betrayal and grief. Kamryn grieves for her lost friend, her lost love, her lost future and all the while learning to be a mum to a little girl who is also grieving. Somewhere in amougst all that, she has to work out her feelings for Nate (Kamryn’s ex) and Luke (the new boyfriend and de facto Dad as far as Tegan’s concerned). To say her feelings are complicated would be an understatement.

I really enjoyed this book. It was emotionally satisfying read and I felt a little bruised when I emerged from it (in a good way). I’ll definitely read more by Dorothy Koomson.

Buy links*:
UK: My Best Friend’s Girl

US: My Best Friend’s Girl

View all my reviews

 

Inheritance Books: Sophie Ranald

Today on Inheritance Books, we have Sophie Ranald. Hi Sophie, make yourself comfortable on the Inheritance Books sofa. Why don’t tell us a bit about yourself, while I go make us a cuppa.

Sophie Ranald 1I’m the youngest of five sisters. I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa before moving to London in my late 20s, ostensibly just to live and work in the city for a while – but I ended up falling in love with it (and with my wonderful partner!) and deciding to stay.

I’ve always loved books, reading and writing, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I made the leap and decided to try writing fiction as a career. My first novel, It Would Be Wrong to Steal my Sister’s Boyfriend (Wouldn’t it?) came out in August 2013 and made it into Amazon’s top 10 bestsellers in October. Since then, I’ve written four more novels and I’m working on a sixth.

Although my books are romantic comedies, I see the romance element as – not exactly secondary, but additional to all the other aspects of my heroines’ lives: their relationships with friends and family, their careers, their role in the wider world, and so on. I think women’s fiction deserves to be taken more seriously than it is – there are so many wonderful writers in our genre, and we write about things other than shoes, cocktails and sex (although those things are obviously vitally important too!).

I couldn’t agree more about women’s fiction. Most people who are dismissive of the genre haven’t actually read any of it (or read an old school Mills and Boon from the 60s and drew conclusions from that).

 

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

I am passionate about food and cooking, and one of my favourite books ever is my mother’s battered old copy of The Constance Spry Cookery book. It’s a classic, first published in 1956, and rather delightfully the first chapter focuses on canapés to serve at cocktail parties. Clearly Constance was a woman after my own heart!

Mum received the book for Christmas from my father the first year they were married, and apparently she was none too pleased with the gift, seeing it as one of those presents that benefit the giver more than the receiver! But she went on to treasure the book and use it extensively – the Coronation Chicken recipe was her go-to for parties.

When I was a teenager, I spent many happy hours lying on my bed reading the book from cover to cover. I loved the world it invokes and the knowledge it contains – although I have no aspirations to be a 1950s housewife!Sophie Ranald bookshelf

 

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

It would have to be my collection of Persephone books. Persephone republishes out-of-print books, almost all by women and mostly from the early 20th century. They are wonderful books and cast such a fascinating light on women’s lives at the time. They are also beautiful, with gorgeous dove-grey jackets and endpapers printed with fabric and wallpaper designs from the period in which they were written.

Unfortunately they, and almost all my other books, are currently in boxes in a storage unit, because we’re having building work done on our house. The only bookshelf we have at the moment is in my partner’s study, and showcases his rather eclectic tastes!

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Sophie. All the best with your new book!

Gemma Grey_PBƒSophie’s latest book The Truth About Gemma Grey is available to buy now. You can find out more about Sophie on her website, or catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter (@sophieranald).

 

Would you like to tell us about your Inheritance Books? Email my on rhodabaxter(at)gmail(dot)come and I’ll send you the guidelines.

 

Please Release Me book trailer (in Lego)

Book cover for Please Release Me - a bride at sunrise

As some of you will know, I like playing with Lego. Given that I usually have more pressing things to do, it’s always nice to have an excuse to get the Lego out. With Please Release Me coming out on the 11th of September, I thought ‘I need a book trailer’. I can’t afford real actors, so here’s my book trailer in Lego.

I’m particularly pleased with the shot of Sally’s car accident. Playdoh may have been involved. Luckily I have kids, so there’s plenty of the stuff lying around in our house.

Incidentally, I wasn’t very keen on girl’s Lego when my daughters first started getting it. I find the idea that someone saw the need for Lego in ‘girly’ colours and themes a little patronising. I’ve got used to it now. Since no one is likely to buy the girls a Star Wars Lego set, I’ll just have to buy the Lego Stormtroopers myself.

If you want to see the trailers DD1 and I did for Doctor January, you can see them here.