Category Archives: Short Stories

Tales Post – What Makes Us Human?


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Hi!  I’m Chelle and I’m a human!

Bit of a strange introduction I know, but the lovely Andrew ( @pewterwolf13 ) invited myself and some other lovely bloggers on a blog tour.  A blog tour to challenge us and make us think and answer the question…..

What Makes Us Human?

You can find Andrew’s announcement post about this wonderful tour here

Andrew set us this challenge quite a few weeks ago and I have been thinking…..and thinking….and thinking….ever since.  It’s such a hard question to answer, but I like a challenge.

After a bit of brain storming and asking some family, friends and work colleagues the question I sat down all prepared…and blinked at a blank screen for over an hour!  My mind was blank.  So I turned to writing… a kind of mini story…a conversation between two characters who I stumbled across in my mind and flowed onto the page.  I’m a little nervous…but here goes….


What Makes Us Human by Michelle Toy

“Are you scared of dying?” I ask bashfully fiddling with the buttons on my shirt cuffs.

   He looks over at me, turning his head on the pillow towards me.  His blue eyes glistening in the sunlight that’s streaming in through the bay window opposite his bed.  His face pale and weak, but still my Grandad.  He laughs a faint throaty laugh, a shadow of the booming laugh I have grown to know since I was a child.  I finally pluck up the courage to hold my gaze at him for longer than a second.

   “Dear child, from the very day we are born we are moving day by day towards our death.  What is there to be scared about?”  He asks. “We are only human after all.”

   “But what makes us human Grandad?  What’s the point in being born just to die?”

   “It’s about everything in-between.  That’s what makes us human.”  He says.

    I look at him confused.

   “I would be so scared.” I admit, my eyes welling up trying hard to swallow down the tears in big gulps.  I push my nose up with my hand and take a big breath in and out.

“Being upset and having feelings of emotion makes us human.  Never forget that.” Grandad says waving a tissue from the floral box by his bed.  I gratefully take the tissue and smile whilst a single tear escapes from my eye and trickles down my cheek.  I smile at the kind caring man who has always been there for me.  The memories so fresh in my mind.  I can smell them, touch them and feel them.  They make me feel human and I smile at the thought.

   “Love, family, friendship they all make us human.  It makes our journey worth while,” Grandad says snapping me out of my hazy daydream.  “Don’t get me wrong, humans can be cruel too, but I think it’s human to be a little kinder than you have to.  Think of other people.  It’s the little things that make us all unique and you never know what a touch, smile or a look can do for a person.  It can make someone’s day just that bit brighter.”

   “Oh Grandad!”  I say shuffling forward on my chair to sit on the side of his bed.  The bed dipping under my weight and creasing his sheets as I do.  I reach for his hand and clasp it between mine so it’s safe and warm and rest it on my lap.  Grandad closes his eyes.

   “Your Grandmother,” He smiles.  “Oh how I miss her.  She used to make the best apple pie.  Do you remember?”

I nod in agreement smiling at the thought.  “Sometimes I still taste it in my dreams.” I say slightly giggly.

   “Well she always used to say cooking made her feel human.  She loved to cook.  When we were younger I was always going to invent her something that would make us rich so I could buy her her very own cake shop.”

   “She would have liked that.” I say.

   “That’s how I won her hand in marriage.”

   “By buying her a cake shop?”  I ask puzzled.

   “No,” He laughs followed by a raspy cough. “By being me.”

   “I can imagine you as a teenager Grandad.”  I laugh.

   “Oh I was full of life.  Full of ideas and ambition.  Humans have the unique ability to invent you know.  We have intelligence and a brain so advanced that we can discover new things every day.”

   “I wish they could have discovered a cure for you Grandad.”

   Granddad shakes his head just slightly.  “Dear child, there are many medicines in the whole wide world that help people everyday.  Medicines made by humans.  And there are still so many to discover.”

   “But….”

   “Reasoning skills are a good human trait to have too dear child.”  Grandad squeezes his eyes together giving me that look.  The look I have grown to know as the ‘listen to your Grandad’ look.

   We both laugh.

   Grandad starts coughing.

   He bangs his chest with the palm of his hand.

   “Should I go and get Mum?”  I ask anxiously.

   “Being a human also means I can make a conscience decision based on facts and the facts here are that my lungs are telling me it’s time.”

   “No Grandad…. It can’t be time.  We need more time to….I’m scared Grandad.”

   “You are a unique, wonderful and a lovely young lady.  Always remember that.  You can make people smile just by entering the room.  My very own little ray of sunshine.”  He says smiling and pushing his head further back into the pillow.

   “I can’t wait to see your Grandmother again…it’s been far too long…”

   Granddad closes his eyes and I see the final rise and fall of his chest.  I kiss his wrinkled smooth hand.

   I cry.

   I feel grief.

   I feel human.

   I say goodbye.


A huge thank you to Jim and Helen and my hubby and my Mom for reading this for me and encouraging me to be brave enough to post it.  I don’t think I would have if it wasn’t for your kind words, feedback and support.

Also a huge thank you to Andrew for coming up with a fab idea and really making me think!  Here’s to many more to come!


You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour on the following blogs or by checking out #WhatMakesUsHuman on twitter.

Wednesday 20th January 2016 – Sisterspooky

Thursday 21st January 2016 – SableCaught

Friday 22nd January 2016 – Tales of Yesterday

Saturday 23rd January 2016 – Thirst for Fiction

Sunday 24th January 2016 – The Pewter Wolf

Monday 25th January 2016 – Chouett

Tuesday 26th January 2016 – Serendipity Reviews

So what do you think makes us human?  Did you enjoy the story?   I would love to hear your thoughts!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy

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Review – Dynamite by Ravinder Randhawa


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When the lovely Faye Rogers announced that she was hosting a blog tour for the books Dynamite and Beauty and the Beast by Ravinder Randhawa I jumped at the chance to be a part of it as soon as I read the blurbs!  These books sounded so interesting and diverse that I really wanted to see what they were all about.  I am completely over the moon to be part of the wonderful blog tour for these books and I am so happy I have had the chance to read them!

For my first stop on this brilliant blog tour I am going to share my thoughts on the collection of short stories in the book Dynamite!

You can also check out my review of Beauty and the Beast by Ravinder Randhawa here !

A huge thank you to Faye Rogers and Ravinder Randhawa for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.

Don’t forget to check out the awesome giveaway at the bottom of the post!


Dynamite Cover

Collection of short stories: Fun, feisty, tender and wry. Full of imagination and originality, stories of innocence and experience, British-Asianess and life’s haunting complexity. From kick-ass heroines to mysterious spacecraft; the heartache of first love to the inheritance of history; the echo of distant war zones to treacherous boyfriends; riots and violent murder.


Publisher – CreateSpace

Published – 29th September 2014

Pages – 132 pages

Format – Paperback & Ebook

Category – Short Stories

Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the lovely Faye Roger and the author Ravinder Randhawa as part of the blog tour.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review.  Thank you both for sending this to me to read!


** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**


Dynamite is a wonderful collection of fun and tender stories all told from the point of view of strong Asian women.  Prior to reading Dynamite I fully put my hands up here and admit that I had not yet read ANY other books by Ravinda Randhawa!  But after reading this collection of short stories this is soon to be rectified as it left me craving more!

I always ensure that my reading in general includes diversity.  It’s important and I really do believe that we need more diverse books out there so we can learn from characters experiences or feel not so alone when we find a character is just like us.  Dynamite for me champions diversity and opened my mind to a culture and traditions I knew little about and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

With this book I have been taken on a thrilling journey to find a missing diamond and a mysterious spacecraft!  I have read about first love and traditions, family values and missing family.  My heart has been broken reading about riots, murder and racism.  I have also been intrigued by mystery, but most of all I have been on a journey with this book with such a wide range of diverse characters it really is a must read.

Normal Times

This story is about family and a fictional society.  About a mother who was outcaste from her own family for breaking tradition and what her family believed in and about a daughter that to help find her missing brother strives to teach her mother that the world as changed.  This is a story that emphasises what tradition and cultures mean to people and although the tradition of the majkari sets are fictional in this story you get a good sense of value and what these sets mean to the characters and their lives.

India

This was one of my favourites.  A story of first love, how it feels to be in love and betrayal.  After falling for the boy who’s Dad is the richest guy in town and nicknamed Goldfinger due to the amount of gold chains and rings he wears India learns about love, hope and heartbreak.  The traditions of love and marriage are very much the forefront in this story and it is written so beautifully.

Sunni

Again another one of my favourites.  This story is fictional but based on real life events in Southall in the late 70’s about a racist attack and murder.  It brings racism and politics to the forefront with the main character Sunni striving to help others in her commuinity and the terrifying problems she encounters from racists, a boy and the police.  My heart was fully captured by this story and I felt the feelings of the main character so much.  A very powerful and moving story.

The Heera

This story took me on a journey to find the precious Diamond of Diamonds which carries a story, a legend of a woman’s treachery and betrayal from many years before.  When the Diamond of Diamonds goes missing it’s down to our main character, a kick-ass lawyer turned super thief to plot and plan to steal the diamond back to it’s rightful place before it gets into the wrong hands forever!  This story was fun and oh so enjoyable!  For me it brought to the forefront of how much legend really does live on once it is created, time after time, year after year.  Is the legend true or has it changed over time to become a story?

Pedal Push

This is a love story about the possibility of taking chances with the main character dealing with lots of feelings, emotions and decisions to make.   It makes you question that maybe we are not as free as we think we are and that in life we have choices which gradually reduce.  It actually made me really think long after finishing this story about how life can take different turns by the choices we make and the chances we may sometimes miss and let pass by.

The Maharanis House

A kind of mystery story of a house full of mystery and intrigue set in the 1980’s.  A successful well off couple move into a new house, in a new neighbourhood and appear to have everything they could possibly want, living comfortably.  They are intrigued by an over grown house that is a bit of an eye sore in the community and as the story develops the story of the old house unfolds through journalists, neighbourhood gossip and finally the preparation for demolition of the house.  This story was different as it contained short flashbacks to when the mysterious house was lived in by a possible Maharani (the wife of a king of India) and it was intriguing to gain glimpses into the past and then into the present again and I could really imagine the house in it’s previous former glory back in it’s day.

Time Traveller

This story is about a girl who has had a psychic extra-terrestrial out of body experience which came as rather a surprise, but changed her out look on her life.  It details a families struggles in the world and when things do not work out as planned or hoped.  Can we really follow our dreams and be happy?  It’s a very thought provoking story.

Its so hard to pick a favourite story out of this collection.  I really did love them all and they are all so individual.  I think I managed to whittle down to my favourite 3…no 4… you see my point.  If I had to pick a favourite it would be between Sunni and India as I really connected with the characters and really felt how they were feeling and what they were experiencing and this was down to the wonderful writing style!

So there we have it!  I highly recommend reading this collection a real treasure and champion of diversity!

I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!

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You can buy Dynamite by Ravinda Randhawa here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads wish list here

You can also check out my review of Ravinder Randhawa’s Beauty and the Beast here

Or a fab poetry guest post by Ravinder Randhawa here

You can also check out a guest post from Ravinder about her favourite scenes in her other book The Coral Strand here


About Ravinda Randhawa

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Ravinder Randhawa is the acclaimed author of the novels Beauty and the Beast (YA), A Wicked Old Woman, The Tiger’s Smile and the short story collection Dynamite. She’s currently working on a trilogy: The Fire-Magician. Ravinder was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Toynbee Hall, Queen Mary’s University, the University of London, and founded the Asian Women Writer’s Collective.

 Ravinder was born in India, grew up in leafy Warwickshire, now lives in London and agrees with Samuel Johnson’s saying (though of course, in a gender non-specific way) ‘…if a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’  Loves good coffee and really good thrillers.

Website: http://www.ravinderrandhawa.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RealRavs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ravinderrandhawaauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3518698.Ravinder_Randhawa


Ravinder Randhawa Blog Tour

Why not follow or catch up on the rest of this wonderful blog tour!

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Link to Tour Schedule

http://fayerogers.co.uk/tour-schedule-ravinder-randhawa-blog-tour

Monday 25th May

An Awful Lot of Books

 Tuesday 26th May

Bookaholic Confessions

Big Book Little Book

 Wednesday 27th May

Tales of Yesterday

 Thursday 28th May

Maia Moore Reads

 Friday 29th May

Man of Words

 Saturday 30th May

The Book Moo

Read Rant Review

 Sunday 31st May

Tales of Yesterday

 


Giveaway!

There is a tour-wide giveaway during the tour.

The prizes include;

3 Paperback copies of Dynamite

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Have you read Dynamite or any other books by Ravinda Randhawa?  What did you think?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading….go pick up a copy of this book straight away!

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Review – Petit Four by Various Authors Edited by Lucie Simone


 

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Cake is often a major part of life’s celebrations, both big and small. From birthdays to wedding days, cake, in all its delectable concoctions, marks joyous occasions with a sweetness that can’t be beat. But even better is the love that is shared when two people connect over a sweet confection. Maybe it’s a cute new guy wreaking havoc on a broken heart, or a beautiful woman testing the limits of love, or an old beau stirring up long lost desires. Whatever the circumstances, cake can always be relied upon to save the day when it comes to affairs of the heart. In this collection of short stories, cake is the delicious center around which each tale unfolds and romance blooms.

When single mom and journalist, Olivia, sets out to find romance in Cindy Arora’s “Cake Therapy,” she gets a little help from her friends and more than a few slices of cake to coax her off the couch and into the arms of a truly great love. Lucie Simone’s “Aprez Vous” finds success-driven Tara in Paris reminiscing of her long lost love, Jean Marc, and her niece bound and determined to reunite them. In “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson, cake enthusiast, Milly, meets her match in the kitchen, and other places, when new owners take over the tea rooms where she works and her talents and her heart are put to the test. And Scott, mayor of a small seaside community, flirts with political suicide in Joel Zlotnik’s “Her Charms” when he falls for new-in-town Nicole, an entrepreneur with a passion for cupcakes, and whose latest venture proves a little too sexy for the sleepy beach town.

From San Francisco to Paris, from small towns to tea rooms, this anthology tempts readers with humor, style, romance, and the powerful aphrodisiac that is cake. Petit Four is four stories, frosted with love.

 


Publisher – Simon & Fig

Date Published – 5th November 2014

Pages – 278 pages

Format – Ebook / Kindle Edition

Category – Adult Fiction

Source – I was sent a digital copy of this book by the wonderful Kim Nash in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way.  Thank you Kim and thank you Simon & Fig.

I would also like to thank Kim for inviting me on this blog tour for Petit Four – thank you for having me!


** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**


Nom Nom Nom…..I’m writing this review of this delicious book in-between eating mouthfuls of scrummy cake!  Why you ask?  It’s simply because this book is oozing with such delicious temptation of cake that I just could not ignore my grumbly belly and my salivating mouth any longer!  Whilst reading this book I’ve enjoyed many a cupcake, French fancy, flake cake, Krispy Kreme and of course, as its Christmas, a yummy mince pie.  I can officially say that the diet went out of the window this week, but it was worth it for this book and the cake of course!

Cake is there for us through the happy and hopefully not to often sad times.  For the birthdays, the weddings, Christmas time and celebrations.  This wonderful delight of a book is filled with four short love stories that not only make you want to eat cake but also warm your heart like a huge piece of warm hot fudge cake!  All of the stories are centred around how cake brings the characters in the short stories together.  Whilst reading this book I have been taken on a trip of chocolate sprinkled delight to Paris, San Francisco , a Victorian tea room and a wonderful cocktail bar on St Patricks Day and being four short stories I was able to enjoy them and feel thoroughly on a sugar high!

Aprez Vous by Lucie Simone

I found this story so beautiful and touching.  A lovely heart-warming story set on a trip to Paris where Tara has taken her niece Marissa as a special treat following her graduation.  What unfolds is a beautiful story told by Tara to her inquisitive niece when she met a man called Jean Marc, a musician and baker, whilst travelling in Paris many years before.  Could there by a chance he still lives there?  Could this trip lead to love after all of these years?  The descriptions of Paris were beautiful in this book and made me want to revisit there very soon and of course the descriptions of the cakes and the special Petit Four cakes will linger in your mind long after you have finished the story.

Cake Therapy by Cindy Arora

This was my favourite short story in the book.  I found the writing and humour exactly my slice of cake!  The story is set in San Francisco where at the start of the story Olivia, an eager new newspaper reporter starts a new job with the experienced reporter Tammy who believes cake is the great uniter (I have to agree).  What develops is a beautiful lasting friendship between Olivia and Tammy especially over their weekly cake therapy sessions at the cake shop.  Many years pass and Tammy is leaving her job and brings in new male reporter Henry into to take over and Olivia is juggling work, being a single mom and trying to move on with her life.  Could Henry with all of his dating tips be the man to help her along the way and get off the settee and back out there?  A wonderful story of friendship, love and of course cake all served up with often hilarious consequences, a rock climbing wall experience and a great reference to The Princess Bride!

The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam by Sue Watson

I loved this short story about Milly, a waitress at the Victorian Tea Rooms in her town who’s love for cake knows no bounds!  Milly even has a food blog called Cake Candy which sounds to die for and likes to experiment with different flavours with cake often reflecting Milly’s moods!  The Victorian Tea Rooms is run by, who Milly calls, Scary Mary her awful boss who has two voices – one for customers and one for bossing her staff around horribly and likes traditional cakes only in her tea rooms!  With the Victorian Tea Rooms being sold what will happen to Milly and her friend Kate?  And what about Cupcake the cat?!  This short story had the most cake references in with every cake imaginable being mentioned and hats off to the cake loving stranger who orders every cake off the menu to try!  This is surely a man after my own heart…well only if he shared of course!  A mouth-watering delight of cake, misunderstanding, comeuppance and love and a great reference to Mrs Bridges from Upstairs, Downstairs!

Her Charms by Joel Zlotnik

Finally we are offered a piece of St Patricks Day cupcake charm about widowed Scott who is the mayor of his town where everyone seems to know everything about everyone!  Scott has busied himself since the death of his wife without really realising that is until new neighbour Nicole catches his eye.  Scott must make some big decisions in life and love especially when Nicole announces that, being a business entrepreneur, she is opening up a lingerie shop called Her Charms on the front high street which does not go down too well with the locals.  What develops is a lovely story of love, cupcakes, charms, a cocktail bar that sounds fab and a wonderful story about moving on from the past!

I have to admit I have not read anything by these authors prior to this book but I defiantly will be looking them up for more reads very soon.  I love a good love story and as you can probably tell a good scrumptious cake so for me this book was a perfect mix!  All in all I thoroughly enjoyed it…now back to the diet!

 I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books

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You can buy this book here

If you would like to know any more about any of the authors above, this book or any of the authors other books please click on the links below.

Lucie Simone or on twitter @luciesimone

Cindy Arora or on twitter @cindyarora

Sue Watson or on twitter @suewatsonwriter

Joel Zlotnik or on twitter @mindofjzlotnik

Have you read this book?  What did you think?  Do you simply share mine and the authors love of cake?  If you haven’t read this book has this review persuaded you to read?  I would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking on the reply button at the top of the page or why not tweet me on twitter – @chelleytoy .  I would love to hear from you!

Happy reading oh and eating lots of cake!

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