Chai And A Chat #86 #ChaiAndAChat #CoronaDiaries Week 10

TEN WHOLE LOCKDOWN WEEKS!

That’s how long this #NewNormal has existed for us… how are you holding up?

And… can you believe it’s JUNE already?! We will be celebrating Lil Man’s 15th Birthday at the end of the month… who knows what the situation will be then…?

Grab your drinkn. I’m supping mine as I type!

  • It was a bank holiday on Monday and officially, half term, in our school. My head teacher (who is an angel) was more than conscious of the stresses and strains of the last few months on everyone. After speaking to the parents of keyworker children, she confirmed that the school would be shut for the week, to allow for full recuperation, in readiness for the madness that June 1st was sure to bring. We were all, in our own ways, ready, but extremely nervous. Thing is, the government feels the right time to release pertinent information, relating to the reopening of Early Years settings is a week before, during a bank holiday weekend on a SUNDAY, at the start of HALF TERM, when some schools, like ours, were closed! There were so many ‘interesting issues’ brought up in this thing, that the relative calmness I had been beginning to feel, disappeared. We were so not ready, in the way the Govt seemed we should be, anyway. Then on Tuesday, a much appreciated message came from my angel boss. School would not be reopening to the fist lot of classes until the 15th June at the earliest. The powers that be, including my head, who was in dire need of a break, spent Sunday aand Monday rehashing plans, and decided that there were still too many risk factors to consider. So we have now got two weeks more to get prepared. Thank goodness! I just hope this next level of relaxing the lockdown hasn’t come too soon, and a second waaave isn’t imminent, because this could throw our reopening plans anyway. Still, I miss my class. I miss reading them stories, and talking to them. I miss seeing their expressions the moment something ‘clicks’. In honour of my love of my job, I got myself a new T-Shirt!
View this post on Instagram

Love my new t-shirt! Teacher! #slogantshirt

A post shared by Ritu B (@ritubhathalwrites) on

  • Knowing we weren’t headed back to school officially, on Monday gave me a chance to really relax over the week. I spent a LOT of time reading, and bumping up my Goodreads challenge number. Surpassed my goal a few weeks back, and I am at around 64 books read for this year now!
  • I have managed to write a short story every day, as part of the Story A Day In May Challenge that I signed up for. All in all, nearly 30,000 words were written! I’ve even earmarked one of the stories, that I started, as a possible reader magnet for the new Newsletter that I have set up… Oh, didn’t you know? Yes, I, Ritu Bhathal, have now got a mailing list, and a landing page, and the option to do a newsletter! I am so ridiculously proud of myself, as I have wanted to do this for a long time, but was scared. If you are interested, click this link to sign up! https://www.subscribepage.com/ritubhathal

In other news, we’ve still been cooking, though a little less imaginatively, this week… standards have included the usual pancakes, pastas, Indian meals, Lasagne, crisp sandwiches, (yes, I did sink that low!) but, Lil Princess and I did make bread rolls on Saturday!

View this post on Instagram

So we baked bread rolls today!

A post shared by Ritu B (@ritubhathalwrites) on

  • I don’t know if you are the same, but we have found that our electronic devices have been our saviours during this lockcown period. More than before. A way to communicate with friends and family you can’t see, watch programmes and take silly videos. But they can also be responsible for allowing some to withdraw more than is good for them. With this in mind we decided that we need to make sure a mealtime Electronics Amnesty was adhered to. Not easy when one wants to watch something different to the other. (Can’t eat in the dining room at the moment, it’s been commandeered by Hubby Dearest and his work stuff!) And I am guilty of sinking into a book as I eat. So Sonu Singh has been guard of our devices for mealtimes. He takes his duty most seriously. It’s worked for a day, at least!
  • In other news, Lil Man has decided he wants to run, daily. My knees are not up to running, so we have devised a plan where we start off together, and he runs as I walk in the opposite direction, around the same block. We meet up, then he walks an extra block with me! That has been lovely, especially with this lovely weather we are experiencing. I even got my hat out!
  • I completed my traditional introduction to Calligraphy course last week, and my new one is a brush lettering one, which I am really enjoying! I love how brush letters are formed, so bring on my ability to write pretty things!

And there you have it… my week in lockdown at half term!

This week, there is no rush to get back into the physical classroom, and I am not on any rota until the next week, but I am sure that I’ll be in at some point to change things up that need altering in the classroom.

Other than that, I’ll be sorting out online learning, and now that I have finished Story A Day in May, I can get back to trying to write more words on Book Two!!

What have you been up to?

Stay safe, my dear friends!

May 2020 Books #AmReading

The month of May! Aaaah, the spring evenings seguing into summer. Lazy weekends filled with barbeques and drinks in the garden, or catching up with friends…

Or maybe not.

Coronagate is still with us, at the moment, so the meeting friends bit, well, that’s not gonna happen in the same way as before. But I hope the weather was good for you, and the added time allowed you to read plenty too!

Here’s what I managed.

Christmas Wedding (Cliffside Bay Series)

Christmas Wedding by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am steadily working my way through Tess’s Cliffside Bay series and this was a little novella to slip into the stream of love stories.
We finally get to see the wedding of Raphael and Lisa, but not without a few dramas along the way.
I enjoy how these extra snippets of stories add another layer to the relationship that us readers are building with all the characters in the series, and the fact that it is set in Emerson Pass, after reading the first book in Tess’s newest series, well, that was another pleasant surprise!
Onwards to the next book.

Scarred: Trey and Autumn (Cliffside Bay, #8)

Scarred: Trey and Autumn by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 8 of the Cliffside Bay series, but the tenth I’ve read, counting the novellas.
I love that I kinda know what is going to be the conclusion, but knowing how Tess’s stories evolve, I am aware that it won’t be a straight path.
Scarred is the story of the pairing together of Autumn, the scarred sister of Wolf, Stone, and Trey, one of the Wolves pack. Again, plenty of loose threads from previous books are tied up, but there are a good few left dangling, so you know the next book has some work to do!

Jilted: Nico and Sophie (Cliffside Bay, #9)

Jilted: Nico and Sophie by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy, am I enjoying steaming through this series! I almost don’t want to have to wait for June for the last book!
Jilted gives us the story of the fourth Wolf, Nico, and his blossoming love story with Dog Sane’s half-sister, Sophie.
Both souls with feelings of abandonment, but totally different life situations, they go from pushing each other away to drawing close like two opposite ends of a magnet.
I enjoyed this next instalment, and can’t wait for David and Sara’s story. Thank goodness I still have a couple of novellas to read!

Kissed: A Cliffside Bay Christmas Short

Kissed: A Cliffside Bay Christmas Short by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another short novella to tie up some loose ends in Tess Thompson’s Cliffside Bay series.
This time we jumped to the seniors who now live there, and follow the blossoming romance between Rapahel’s mother, Rosa (Mama) Soto and Lisa’s Uncle Dominic.
A lovely, magical, light read to make your heart feel good.

Chateau Wedding by Tess Thompson

Chateau Wedding by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally! I got to see (read) Pepper and Stone’s wedding!
Tess Thompson delivers a short side tale to her Cliffside Bay series, whisking the readers away to France to witness the dream marriage, that has its fair share of ups and downs, even in such a short book!
I could have carried on reading more!

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher by Pete Springer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Retired elementary school teacher, Pete Springer, uses his experience and knowledge to create a wonderful book that is as much memoir as it is a handy tool to have as a teacher about to embark upon the best job in the world (I’m a teacher, maybe I’m biased), and just as useful for a parent to read, so they can understand a little more about the role the teacher plays in their children’s lives.
Peppered with anecdotes from his teaching career, as well as the story detailing how he ended up becoming a teacher, the book gives a personal account of the life of aa teacher, as well as many handy hints for setting up and running a successful classroom of your own.

My Untold Truth by Sharon Punni Khakh

My Untold Truth by Sharon Punni Khakh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine being that child who can see and hear awful things being done to your mother, then, when you try and raise an alarm, you get shot down?
This is the true story of Sharon, who, from a young age, witnessed her mother suffer from mental and physical abuse from her father, and eventually had to deal with fatal consequences.
The harsh truth is that there is still stigma attached to families who are vocal about abuse or wrongdoings in families in many Indian communities, even now. So much so, that it is easier to ignore the reality, or cover it up, rather than seek help and face the repercussions.
Well done to Sharon for bravely writing about this awful situation, with the hope it will give other young people the courage to come forward and speak out for members of their family in similar situations, who feel unable to themselves.
Domestic violence, physical, mental and emotional abuse is NEVER right.

Self Love

Self Love by T.L. Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young woman; single, plump, and totally unconfident in her appearance.
That’s Molly.
But she’s a great florist, and a good friend, though she can be a bit self-absorbed sometimes.
But let’s be honest, who can honestly say, hand on heart that they never think about themselves, and only others?
And that’s why many readers will identify with Molly.
As I read her story, trying to find love, and acceptance for herself, as well as that elusive ideal weight, I found myself comparing certain parts of her life with mine.
I totally got her with the dieting, and ‘life-changing’ health plans. I’ve been up and down my whole life, and though many who know me, would say I’ve never been ‘big’, I know I have, compared to my previous, svelte self.
That hating what you see in the mirror? Yup. Been there, done that.
I read about her dating mishaps with intrigue, probably because I never went through all that online dating malarkey, myself.
She had her ups and downs, but Molly learns how to accept herself, and build changes into her life so she really does end up loving herself – and, no spoilers here, but she might just find someone else who loves her too!
There’s a lesson in the story for us all.
Self-care, and self-love is as important as getting acceptance from the outside.
I’m just glad Molly stopped apologising for herself by the end!

Life in progress

Pixy by Linda g. Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy the book sof Linda’s that I have read, and this short story, a free treat from Linda, was no different.

We are introduced to the world of Pixies, and meet Merryn, who has been transported to the human world as a joke, but there he meets Ivy, a widow, and they start a romance that develops in a flash, in human years, but takes much time, in pixy years! A cute love story with a twist!

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 by Charli Mills
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love Flash Fiction and I feel blessed to have got to know the crew over at the Carrot Ranch, with Charli, the head buccaneer!
I’ve had this anthology to read for a long while, but time, and so many books… you know.
But finally, thanks to Lockdown, I got to savour the wonderful bite-sized morsels that 99-word fiction can provide.
I enjoy crafting the stories to go with Charli’s weekly prompts, and I am also eager to read how someone else interprets the same prompt.
The first half of this book is filled with these, kind of like appetisers.
Then the second half has slightly longer pieces, like your main course, but selected Ranchers, and finishes with a dessert of essays from memoirists.
A wonderful collection to savour over time, or devour in one sitting!

The Sight of You (The Sight of You, #1)

The Sight of You by Holly Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what an emotional ride!
Imagine having a gift that could give so much joy, but at the same time, suck the joy of living from you?
This was what life was like for Joel, and what stopped him from fully living his own life.
And Callie? A simple, loveable woman, who isn’t quite sure where here future lies, until she meets Joel.
Add in Murphy, Callie’s dog, and you have a beautiful bittersweet love story, with an ending you didn;t expect… or did you?
I absolutely loved this story of Joel and Callie, and their forever love, that just wasn’t meant to be.
Descriptive, emotive writing that kept me reading all day, so I could finish the book, all the while not wanting it to end.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Life and Other Happy Endings

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book to read when it was still registered as Death and other Happy Endings. The title piqued my interest, and the blurb confirmed I would be up for reading.
Upon reading the book, I think the new title Life and other Happy Endings, is much better suited!
I was fully prepared for a swing of emotions, knowing I was going to be reading about a woman counting down to the end of her life, writing letters to three people who were so important in her life, and I wasn’t wrong there.
But the swing of emotions included laughter and smiles, as well as the sadness and dread that I had expected.
I loved the twist to the story in the middle, and the extra U-Turn at the end. Nope. Don’t ask for details. You need to read to find out!
Great book!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

One Summer in Santorini (Holiday Romance Book 1)

One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderfully whimsical, romantic read, perfect for a sunny holiday read, or even a read when there is no holiday sun around, as the vivid descriptions of Greek islands will whisk you away anyway!
I loved meeting Sarah, the woman who has sworn off men, taking a trip away to get away from all that romantic nonsense, then ends up with not one, but two suitors, and all with the backdrop of this beautiful greek scenery!
I really enjoyed this debut from Sandy Barker, and am already excited to dive into book two!

That Night in Paris (Holiday Romance Book 2)

That Night in Paris by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What? So, I finished book one yesterday, and today, I’m here reviewing book two.
Think that is a clue in itself as to how readable Sandy Barker’s books are becoming to me.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah’s story in book one, One Summer in Santorini, and it was great to pick up on the story, interlinked, but on its own journey, about Catherine, Sarah’s sister.
Not only do you get a whistlestop tour of some of Europe’s most famous cities, complete with descriptions that make you feel like you are standing in the middle of said cities, but there is the huge dollop of ‘will she/won’t she’ romance added to keep you turning pages.
Cat’s been hurt before. She’s sworn off relationships and men, until a mistaken (bit more than a ) fumble with her flatmate. Disasterous enough to make her book a hasty coach tour around Europe, to get away from the atmosphere she’s created, by trying to stay away from her newly love-lorn flatmate.
On the tour, she visits amazing places, cements life long friendships with her ‘bus buddies’, and ends up bumping into her teen pen pal, Jean Luc, in Paris. And he’s no longer that cute, gawky teen whose features haven’t quite grown into adulthood at the same time.
No.
Now he is all kinds of hot, good looking – like model good looking, tall, with a to die for physique… and he seems to actually ‘like’ like Cat.
I don’t want to tell you what happens, but wills he be able to stick to her ‘no relationships’ stance, or will a holiday fling be enough? And what about that flatmate?
Book three – I am diving in, right now!!

A Sunset in Sydney (Holiday Romance Book 3)

A Sunset in Sydney by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having devoured the first two books in Sandy’ Barker’s series, I was eager to get to this concluding title to see what happened.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Sarah went on a trip to the Greek islands, sworn off men, and ended up coming home with the possibility of two relationships at the end of the first book.
In this third episode detailing the lusts, losses and loves of Sarah, along with plenty of wine and alcohol, we hoped to come to some conclusion.
And it didn’t disappoint!
Sandy Barker has a great way of describing the places visited, so you feel as if you are there with the characters, so I feel like I can say I’ve visited Maui, Sydney and parts of New Zealand!
Aside from the travel, the ‘who will she choose?’ scenario kept me on my toes the whole book.
Would it be cute, young American dude, Josh, or older, more experienced, extremely attractive, and rather rich, James?
Of course, I’m not going to tell you… you’ll have to get the book to find out!

Many thanks to NetGalley. Harper Collings and One More Chapter for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
Releasing on 3rd July, 2020

The Day She Came Back

Okay, so this is a definite ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, but I’m saving the review for the Blog Tour of which I’ll be a part.

Releasing on 7th July, 2020

Busted in Bollywood

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first Nicola Marsh book, and I had great fun delving into the very familiar world of India, Bollywood and cross-cultural East-West mixes.
I loved the doses of masala as we saw met Shari, the MC, thrown into a duplicitous situation, where she had to pretend to be her best friend Amrita, to break up an arranged marriage engagement.
What she didn’t count on, was hot Bollywood Dudes, stalkers, soothsayers, superstar opportunities and a new aunty who was eager to fatten her up and get her married off.
A fun read full of vibrancy.

The Love Square

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Laura Jane Williams first foray into fiction, One Stop, and was excited to get the opportunity to read her second offering, The Love Square.
A story about Love, of all sorts.
Penny is a cancer survivor, burned by her last serious relationship. She is a business owner, with a thirst for success with her cafe, but a huge amount of family loyalty too. And most of all, she wants love.
And it comes, from many directions, from her friends, her uncles and sister, and from three very different men.
Caught in a love square, Penny has to make decisions that could hurt, but could equally give her the best future ever.
I loved Penny. She’s a strong woman, who doesn’t actually know her own strength. Sometimes the need for approval of others overtakes the fact that she needs to be happy in herself, and love herself first.
Her three choices:
Francesco, the Italian chef with a passion for food to rival hers, and the promise of falling in friendship.
Thomas, the happy go lucky playboy with a huge heart.
Priyush, the mature, wave and sophisticated older man who is ready to offer a life of elegance and romance.
I loved the story and the characters. An easy to read tale with a deeper meaning that the cover may let on.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 29th June 2020

The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass

The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally finished The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass and I LOVED it!
Tess Thompson’s signature style of concentrating on a couple, within a group of close-knit friends, worked brilliantly, along with tying into the first book of the series The Schol Mistress Of Emerson Pass, even though it is set in a totally different timeline.
And I was overjoyed to get all the connections to the Cliffside Bay residents too!
A true story of second chance romance, with two childhood sweethearts torn apart in the midst of young love, and then thrown back together years later in very different circumstances, but in the same setting.
The story tore at my heart, with loss and confusion, misplaced loyalties and rediscovered romance. Oh and the build-up to the next romance. Loved it, truly!
Can’t wait for the next one, Tess. 💜

Love's Child: Power, deceit and betrayal, all in the name of love!

Love’s Child by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not sure what I was expecting with this first Lizzie Chantree novel, but it wasn’t the interesting twists within this delicious novel.
David is the product of a loveless marriage, and left with his degenerate father, he learns, the hard way, how to get through life.
In adulthood, he’s found a way to channel all the negativity into a project to benefit the community, and turned his bad experiences into something positive.
Finally, life is going great, with his girlfriend Tilly, pregnant, and happy, then things start to go wrong.
Love’s Child takes you on a journey of mysterious twists, exploring certain family dynamics, and ultimately, LOVE.

Mr Portobello's Morning Paper

Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s no secret.
Amanda Prowse is one of my favourite authors, and when she announced her novella, Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper, it sped its way onto my Kindle and raced to the top of my TBR pile. Her books always do. I’m not apologising!
Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper was a beautifully crafted novella and it hit many notes for me for several reasons.
Sophie is my age. Sophia is (was) a teacher. Like me. Disillusioned with the way teaching is going – been there, done that. Sophia loves books. Yup, me again.
That’s where the similarities end.
But the story. Oh, the story.
Sophia leaves her job to open a book emporium filled with the old books from her parents’ house. She develops. friendship with the eighty-year-old Mr Portobello, who was the previous tenant of her shop.
He pops in at 10 am every morning, on his way to get his morning paper, and slowly they build a relationship that leaves Sophia beginning to think long and hard about how she’s been living her life.
Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper is a bittersweet story which will tug at your heartstrings.

A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika

A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stigmas are something many of us have to live with, and there are different stigmas attached to different diasporas.
Chaya is a Sri Lankan girl trusted to leave her family and study in the far away, yet prestigious university of Oxford. Love is the last thing on her mind, or shouldn’t be.
Gimhana is another Sri Lankan displaced in the UK. He’s hoping to get his qualifications and become that successful lawyer, as well as be able to be the real himself – a self that loves men, not women.
In a clever way, Jeevani Charika weaves chapters laying foundations and dripping clues as to what the past knew that hindered the progression of both individuals.
Fast forward to a time where both are being hounded by their families to get married.
In a strange twist of fate, they meet, and end up in a marriage of convenience, for them both. No expectations from each other, a friendship, and no secrets… but are there?
I really enjoyed reading this story, especially as a fellow South Asian, and knowing so many of these expectations that are hung around our necks as youngsters, weights that can hinder rather than help our lives.
There is a shift now, in the way many of the issues raised are thought of now, but not big enough.
An enjoyable read, and a cultural education for many, I believe.

The Opposite of Hew by Lisa W. Tetting

The Opposite of Hew by Lisa W. Tetting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read Tetting’s story about Zora, and loving it, I was happy to pick up her book, The Opposite of Huw.
A quick read with an interesting premise, but I do feel it was rushed.
The whole idea of the spreading of the main character’s aunt’s ashes in key places could have been stretched more, and though I liked the main character, Kay, and her feisty nature, the idea of her aunt just forcing marriage upon her, was unrealistic in the setting.

That was over twenty books this month!!!!

So, which book caught your eye?




Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 274 – Keep Dreaming

img_00411

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

C.S. Lewis

Thank you for that, Spidey.

You’re right, you know. We are never too old. There are those sayings about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks, but I think they are wrong.

Every day we are alive is another opportunity to learn, another chance to dream.

That doesn’t mean you have to pick up a book and take tests, or start a course. But search each day for a chance to learn something new.

And you are never too old to dream new dreams, either. How many greats are there, out there, who have reached ages where they were classed as has-beens, only to hit the big time?

  • Samuel L. Jackson at 43
  • Stan Lee at 33
  • Vera Wang at 40
  • Colonel Sanders (KFC) 62
  • Toni Morrison at 40

That is just a few.

So… tell me, what is the next dream you wish to achieve?

Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps  And enjoy your week! ❤ 

#SoCS May 30/2020 – Spay Splay Spray

Linda’s #SoCS prompt, this week:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “spay/splay/spray.” Use one, use two, use ’em all, it’s up to you. Have fun!

Yout hips move with a sway
Blonde hair hardened with spray
Red lips pout in that way
You beckon to me, legs a-splay
'You fancy a roll in the hay?
I've a partner, thank you, no way!
Their instructions I have to obey
Off on my errands,' I say
'A kitten, that we need to spay
The vet's waiting for me to pay'
I doff my hat, 'good day!"
Poor thing, she wouln't know I was gay

Ritu 2020

Dear God, Linda, where do you make my brain go!?!

May 28: Flash Fiction Challenge – Sleepy Square-Dance

Charli Mill’s Carrot Ranch prompt this week:

May 28, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using two words that contradict. Examples include champagne and hard-rock; rosemary and sewage; duck down and firecrackers; sleep and square-dancing. Use one of these or make up your own. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m afraid my brain was unable to come up with something original, soI used one of Charli’s examples!

Sleepy Square-Dance

The upbeat music created a jaunty atmosphere in the air. All around Jack, there were revellers dressed up in what they considered to be true ‘Square Dancing’ attire, i.e. a check shirt, some with fringes, denim, and obligatory cowboy boots.

It was all rather surreal. He was sitting in a church hall in the UK, not America!

Trying to stifle a yawn, he caught eyes with Jill. Oh great, now she’s coming over.

“Come on, sleepy head, I know you’re tired, but a bit of a dance will wake you up!” She grabbed my arm, dragging me up.

Help!

Previous Older Entries

My interactive peeps!

Peeps are reading in…

Flag Counter
%d bloggers like this: