#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “NO MORE MULBERRIES,” BY AUTHOR @MARYSMITHWRITER

No More Mulberries

  • Title:  No More Mulberries
  • Author: Mary Smith
  • File Size: 735 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: King Street Press; 2 edition
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B005RRDZ12
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Romance, World Literature

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

It all begins in Scotland –

While in college studying midwifery in her native Scotland, Margaret meets the dashing and mysterious Jawad, an Afghan engineering student. There is an immediate connection between the two and Margaret follows her heart falling head over heels in love with Jawad. They visit Afghanistan together and Margaret fearing she will lose Jawad to his homeland, proposes to him knowing the cultural roadblocks that lay ahead for the two of them. Jawad’s parents do not approve of the marriage. They finally agree that if the two can be separated for one year and still feel the same about each other they will give their permission for the couple to marry.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, Margaret changes her name to Miriam and converts to Islam. For Miriam, this is a decision that immerses her into the Muslim culture of her future husband. After a year, Miriam and Jawad are reunited and married. Eventually, Jawad and Miriam have a son together named, Farid. Life is challenging for Miriam as she struggles to learn the language and customs of her new homeland but her love for Jawad is unwavering.

And ends far from home…

When Miriam’s father becomes ill, she takes Farid and heads back to Scotland so her father can meet his grandson. Upon her return, traveling through Pakistan on her way back to Afghanistan, Jawad’s brother informs her that Jawad has been killed. Miriam knows none of the details of Jawad’s death. All she knows is that the love of her life and her son’s father is gone. Broken by the news, Miriam knows she can’t go back to the home that Jawad and she shared as a single woman with a child. Cultural norms won’t allow it.

It is during this time in Pakistan that Miriam meets Iqbal, a doctor who is in need of a wife in order to go back to his home in Afghanistan. Culturally, it is imperative that men of Iqbal’s age be married, especially since he is a doctor/paramedic. The two enter into an arranged marriage of sorts, although they share a deep love for Afghanistan and its people. Miriam longs to stay in Afghanistan to raise Farid in his native land and marrying Iqbal seems to be the logical way to stay in the county.

What transpires is a love story steeped in the cultural differences of strict Islamic traditions, customs, and beliefs which lead Miriam and Iqbal on a mission of self-discovery to find themselves and their own true love and happiness.

Recommendation:

I was excited to read this book because I have a close friend serving overseas in Afghanistan. Culturally, I knew nothing of the country or the traditions. I only had a fundamental knowledge of Islam so I knew this was going to be a book like no other I had ever read. My assumptions were correct and I was immediately immersed into Miriam’s world. I cried with her, laughed with her, and at times tasted the grit of blowing sand feeling as if I was walking in her footsteps.

As I began reading this novel, I realized that I had to set aside my own belief system and embrace those of the people of Afghanistan. Many of the characters struggled with this same dilemma. When Miriam attended a school to brush up on medical training she met a female German doctor who was amazed at the way the Afghani women were treated by their husbands and even their own families. It was a hard lesson to learn that some things are so deeply rooted in tradition they cannot be changed. After traveling the world a bit myself; I realized that we all have cultural differences so it was not a stretch for me to embrace the people of Afghanistan.

This novel is written from the unique perspective of the author, Mary Smith, using her own observations and experiences while living and working in Afghanistan in the 1990’s. The sights and sounds of the bazaars came alive for me through powerful descriptions that made me feel like I was right there bartering for goods beside Miriam.  I longed to try some of the foods and would have loved to have experienced the rich tea that was served several times a day.

The book is written from the perspective of Miriam and then of Iqbal in alternating chapters. I believe this gives the reader a chance to delve into the personalities of the pair as separate people who are also a couple. It is a deep character study of the choices people make in life and the consequences of their choices. I found that I could relate to Miriam’s and Iqbal’s experiences in many ways in my own life.

For those of you who follow my reviews, you know how emotionally vested I get in characters who come across as real individuals. These characters leaped from the pages of the book into my heart. Remember, deep down this is the story of renewal and of finding true love, which just goes to show you that true love has no cultural boundaries.

Mary Smith

Author, Mary Smith

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4.5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars

 

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.

Mary lives in beautiful southwest Scotland and is currently working, with award-winning photographer Phil McMenemy, on an illustrated book on the town of Dumfries.

Make certain to connect with Mary through her Twitter @marysmithwriter and Facebook at Mary Smith. You can find her on her blogs too, at http://novelpointsofview.blogspot.co.uk and http://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07.
Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 1122016

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “STELLA’S AWAKENING,” BY AUTHOR @RKRYDE

Stellas Awakening

  • Title: Stella’s Awakening
  • Author: RK Ryde
  • File Size: 2349 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Rydco Publishing; 1 edition
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B014LP285E
  • ISBN-10: 1517101565
  • ISBN-13: 9781517101565
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Erotic Romance, Romantic Erotica

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

Book Blurb from the author:
“A painful past. A forbidden romance. Will she choose love and make the ultimate sacrifice?

For Stella Welsch, buying a home and starting her own business has already pushed the boundaries of her strict upbringing. When she meets the sexy and powerful executive, Conrad Adams, Stella knows he’s off limits, but can’t help daydreaming about forbidden romance. As sparks begin to fly, Stella reveals that the relationship could have her cut off from her family and life as she knows it.

After painful memories surface, Stella decides to follow her heart and succumb to the sexy business mogul’s pursuit. But she quickly discovers that her sheltered upbringing hasn’t prepared her for what she is about to face. Her naive knowledge of ‘sex’ is nothing more than foreplay to the sexually experienced Conrad. As her feelings build, Stella must choose between Conrad and her family. Between rebellion and convention.

Stella’s Awakening is the first installment in an erotic romance series that tackles difficult social issues. If you like EL James and Jodi Picoult, you’ll love this intriguing, sexy, and emotional rollercoaster of a book.”

My Recommendation:

I had no clear idea of what to expect with this novel and began reading with my eyes wide open. Initially, I felt compelled to compare the storyline to Fifty Shades of Grey but that comparison soon dwindled. I was hooked after the first chapter. The writing is well done and handled with flair. However, due to the sexual content, this book is not suitable for younger readers.

The novel is written and set in Sydney, Australia, so the English words are spelled with Australian spelling, and there are many word variations. I enjoyed the differences in language and felt it added to the exotic appeal of the location.

The author, RK Ryde, tells Stella’s story in the first person and I pondered her choice. However, the more I read, the more I began to understand the protagonist, Stella Welsch.

Stella’s story is deeply personal. I realized that telling the story in the first person fostered a deeper connection to her emotions and the inner conflict she was dealing with. I found myself embroiled in her life. I experienced Stella’s life through her eyes and words.

This story is more than just an erotic sexual awakening for a thirty-year-old woman experiencing her first true love. For Stella, it is the realization that everything she was told as a child growing up, and into her adult life could be wrong, or it could be right. That is her dilemma. It is the grappling with the realization that she must choose between the man she loves or the religion and family she also loves deeply. What a conundrum!

For me, Stella’s story emphasized the choices she must make between free will vs. control. I struggled with why Stella’s life was so difficult to deal with when she was a business owner and a successful interior decorator in her own rights. It seemed like she had the courage to pursue her own dreams but only up to a certain point. Her parents certainly did not approve of her life unless it was by their mandated version of how she should live. I just could not imagine living under those circumstances.

As Stella and Conrad’s relationship grew I could see the natural progression of a couple falling in love and wanting to begin their life together. What made this chronicle different from other romantic novels was the levels of control Stella lived under. I could not help wondering if Stella chooses Conrad’s love then wasn’t she trading the control of her parents and religion to be under his control? It was a thought provoking revelation.

The end of the story is powerful and eye-opening. I understand this is the first book in the installment and look forward to finding out just what Stella decides to do with her life. No matter what her choices, I know the outcome will be explosive!

Character Believability: 4.5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 4.5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars

 

 

RK Ryde

 

 

 

 

 

 

About RK (Rhonda) Ryde:

I live with my gorgeous husband, our beautiful daughter and a very cute poodle in a little country town on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia.

My weekdays are spent working my day job as an Auslan (Australian Sign Language) interpreter and running my daughter around to drama classes, tennis lessons and play dates with friends. Once she’s in bed, I put my author hat on and hit the keyboard, working on my novels and growing my business.

On the weekends you will find me with my family, doing all sorts of fun and interesting things. We love to adventure, rummage around markets, ride our pushbikes or Harley Davidsons and spend time surfing or kayaking on the magnificent South Coast of NSW.

Please make certain to connect with RK Ryde through her Twitter @RKRyde and  Facebook at RK Ryde Author, or her blog at RK Ryde.com.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 12.22.15