Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram



Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram




• Paperback: 268 pages


• Publisher: Modern History Press (April 10, 2018)

  

Purchase Links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


The Publisher's Synopsis

Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate an Annual Conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium bring the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.
Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her trust in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.
As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues, both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?
Praise
“This book will be a welcome addition to modern-day discussions of women’s rights, multiculturalism, and online technologies.” ~ New York Journal of Books
“Raw, real, and profoundly moving, this is a very fine novel that begs for continuation in the form of a series. Sweta’s honors are well earned.” San Francisco Review of Books
“Louisiana Catch, by Sweta Srivastava Vikram,is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. An extraordinary and entertaining read from cover to cover, Louisiana Catch is unreservedly recommended.” ~ Midwest Review
My Take 

Talk about perfect timing.  
Louisiana Catch is the kind of story that hits you deep if you've ever experienced any form of sexual assault whatsoever.  Even when I thought I had dealt with every possible emotion dealing with the crazy political atmosphere we've all been living in lately, I never even considered women who are essentially held hostage in their own homes by husbands who rape them. 
While Vikram focuses more on Ahana's recovery process (from the abuse as well as her mother's death) rather than the horrible details of her married life, the reader sees just enough to feel dirty herself.  
The evil of Ahana's ex-husband is contrasted by the goodness of another male character in this story.  I was worried that he would be too good to be true, but Vikram shows his faults and shows the complications of accepted behavior (comments, innuendo from men who mean no harm).  The behavior is complicated from both Ahana and this character's viewpoint.  With the number of women in the world who have dealt with sexual assault, I think this is an important theme.  There are lots of "good" men out there; it's important that they consider that at least one woman they meet in their lifetime will have been a victim at some point in her life, and he will need to "tone it down" a notch.  Or, for heaven's sake...listen to her and watch for cues...and gracious me, respond to those actual hints! ;) 
The building of this new relationship shows the frustrations as well as the difficulty in learning to trust again.  Some people might see Ahana's behavior here a bit tedious...but I felt it was spot on from what I know of sexual assault victims.  
The "evil" in the story is creepy as hell.
Ahana's need to directly deal with it worried me some, and I wasn't sure at first if that was a realistic take...but in the end, I could see that her actions with this character were spot on for a woman who is determined to take back control of her life...the backwards and forward movement...the mistakes...they naivety...etc.

I fell in love with Ahana's family...her Mumma, Aunt Chutney, Masi, Naina, and even housekeeper Lakshmi...to be surrounded by so much love, and wow, what a dip into Indian culture.   I loved the way Vikram slipped Indian words within the story...using enough context that after a while, even if I didn't exactly know what the words meant, I could figure out the connotation.

The geography of Louisiana Catch spans not only New Orleans, but also New York City and New Delhi.  Vikram's details took me to those places!

Louisiana Catch is a solid read with an extra sprinkling of yoga and meditation as well. 
It's a thriller in many ways, that doesn't leave you with a nicely wrapped ending, but an important read.  
These are stories and conversations that are long overdue.


Golden Line:

In that moment, I understood what Mumma meant by "Forgive yourself, beta; grow from your experiences.  Know that you are more than your scars.  Believe that you deserve love." (251)



The Author




About Sweta Vikram

Sweta Srivastava Vikram (www.swetavikram.com), featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is a best-selling author of 12 books, five-times Pushcart Prize nominee, coach, holistic wellness entrepreneur, and a certified yoga & Ayurveda counselor who helps people lead creative, productive, and healthier lives. 
Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel. It’s the #1 new release on Amazon under women’s divorce fiction and featured on U.K.’s list of “Books to Read in 2018.” Sweta won Voices of the Year Award, past recipients of which have been Chelsea Clinton, for her work with Louisiana Catch and her tireless support of women who have experienced sexual assault and abuse. 
Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between the Indian Himalayas, North Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. She writes hopeful stories about multiculturalism and women’s issues with a healthy dose of suspense, reflection, wellness, and food. Sweta, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, amongst other publications, across nine countries on three continents, is an award-winning writer and graduate of Columbia University. 
She lives in New York City with her husband and in her spare time, teaches yoga to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. 

You can find her in these online spaces: 
Twitter (@swetavikram), Instagram (@swetavikram), and Facebook.
www.swetavikram.com

Other Stops on the Tour
Monday, October 1st: BookNAround
Wednesday, October 3rd: Instagram: @giuliland
Tuesday, October 9th: Instagram: @notthepathtonarnia
Wednesday, October 10th: Instagram: @carlycravesbooks
Saturday, October 13th: Books and Bindings
Monday, October 15th: Jessicamap Reviews
Wednesday, October 17th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, October 18th: Wining Wife
Friday, October 19th: Instagram: @cheyenne.reads
Tuesday, October 23rd: Instagram: @pagesandpassages
Wednesday, October 24th: Instagram: @crystal_clears_the_shelves
Thursday, October 25th: G. Jacks Writes
Friday, October 26th: Literary Quicksand



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Lifesaving for Beginners by Anne Edelstein


Lifesaving for Beginners 
by Anne Edelstein


• Paperback: 225 pages

• Publisher: Red Hen Press (November 7, 2017)



Publisher's Synopsis

When Anne Edelstein was forty-two, her mother, a capable swimmer in good health, drowned while snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Caring for two small children of her own, Anne suddenly found herself grieving not only for her emotionally distant mother but also for her beloved younger brother Danny, who had killed himself violently over a decade before. She finds herself wrestling not only with the past and her family’s legacy of mental illness, but also with the emotional well-being of her children. Part memoir and part meditation on joy and grief, the book will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to come to terms with their parents, their siblings, their children, and their place in the world.
My Take
I read Lifesaving for Beginners very slowly.  On purpose.  Is there anything more complicated than a daughter's relationship with her mother?  Even in the best of situations, it can be so weird that it defies understanding of any kind, especially from those outside the relationship.  Anne Edelstein's relationship with her mother was most definitely complicated...the way she describes their intricacies, their issues that may only seem like "issues" to a few others, really rang true to me.  What I saw happening between Anne and her mother was a tightening and loosening of the proverbial apron strings...sometimes in sync, sometimes not.  The things about Anne's mother that irritate her, she sees in herself.  She puts her mother on this island...her mother, nothing else.  Forgetting that her mother is a person too...a person who lost a son...a person who lost a father...a person who may have lost herself in the process and is just trying her best to get by and make life normal.  Grief is a huge theme in Lifesaving for Beginners.  There's no getting away from that...but not just grief as we are experiencing it, but who we are before, during, and after it...how we process it, how we come to understand others around us and their orbit in our world...that we thought was just an island.  Edelstein's book reads like poetry to me...something I wanted to move with, think about, examine in my own life.  I enjoyed it very much.  Thank you, Anne, for sharing your family with us. 
Golden Lines
A couple of nights ago, I had a beautiful dream about my mother.  I was lost on the way to school in the first grade.  I was walking on a street in a town very unlike my own, cold with brick buildings reminiscent of small, austere towns in upstate New York.  The name of the town was "Hydro."  I roamed past an old, brick power plant.  I turned a corner and walked up the stairs to my house and rang the bell.  A woman who was my mother answered the door wearing a diaphanous dress in a pale shade of greenish blue.  Apparently she and I lived there alone.  In my dream, I kept waking up and knowing that the woman wasn't really my mother, but then I 'd keep on going back to sleep again so I could be with her. 
(112)
Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound




About Anne Edelstein


Anne Edelstein has worked in the book publishing business for over 25 years, as an editor and then as a literary agent. She grew up in suburban New England as the eldest of three siblings. When she was 28 she lost her brother to suicide, and 15 years later her mother drowned at the age of 68. These two tragedies gave rise to Lifesaving for Beginners, which is her first book. She lives in New York with her husband, and spends part of each year in Barcelona. She enjoys drawing, reading, writing, and traveling, and is an avid swimmer.
Visit Anne at her website, anneedelstein.com, and connect with her on Facebook.


Other Stops on the Tour


Tuesday, September 25th: Tina Says…
Thursday, September 27th: Dreams, Etc.
Monday, October 1st: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, October 3rd: Instagram: @libraryinprogress
Thursday, October 4th: Instagram: @thats_what_she_read
Monday, October 8th: Comfy Reading
Tuesday, October 9th: What Is That Book About
Wednesday, October 10th: Instagram: @crystal_clears_the_shelves
Friday, October 12th: Instagram: @bookwormmommyof3
Monday, October 15th: Eliot’s Eats
Tuesday, October 16th: Literary Quicksand
Tuesday, October 16th: Instagram: @thesaggingbookshelf
Wednesday, October 17th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, October 18th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, October 25th: bibliotaphs




Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks



Golden Line

"So, like the Japanese human experiments in Manchuria, you think of people as 'logs." They justified their torture in the name of war.  __________," - she looked at him - "you probably justify your actions in the name of national security.  And you, _________________," she stared at him - "you were willing to kill me to protect your pride and reputation."  She waved her hand at all of them.  "Ultimately, no matter how you justify it, at your core, all of you simply like killing people." 
(283)

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Purchase Links
Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | iBooks
Publisher's Synopsis
An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.
After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.
The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.
As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?
My Take
I go through spurts with my reading where I fly through mysteries and thrillers, switch to nonfiction,
spend way too much time on social media, or just read daily shorties.  Formula of Deception
came my way, and I was asked to review it so what the heck...let’s do it.

I'm all about a thriller that happens in the wilderness...in an extreme environment of some kind...where
the weather and the wildlife dictate what you can and cannot do, no matter how evil, no matter how grisly
(or grizzly ;) the situation may be.
Kodiak Island, Alaska is just such a place.
Another huge theme is government coverup, secret experiments, and covered up crimes...I'd say that's a
pretty captivating storyline in our day and time, especially anything to do with Russians, and Formula
of Deception delivers on that note as well...
Carrie Stuart Parks research is highly evident...you really have to pay attention to follow the connections.
I happen to like that...tricks my brain to focus on a puzzle in some way. Formula of Deception is not
even a book where you can read the last few pages and find out "whodunit"...that's another positive
in my book because I may or may not have been known to ruin a story by looking at the end when the
action starts to escalate, and I just can't stand the suspense anymore.
Once Parks got my attention - about 18 pages in - she had me. That's the best part of a thriller to me...
getting caught up in the tension.
Murphy Anderson is a likable new heroin for me...and I'd read another book with her at the helm if Parks
decides to continue this series. Murphy is flawed, physically and psychologically, but a survivor like no
other I've read in a while. Even after losing everything, literally everything, and the circumstances around
which those losses occur, not even knowing where she would sleep some nights, she still keeps clawing.
The ending isn't neat; it certainly shouldn't be. I was surprised, totally caught off guard by one major shift
there...but it worked...and I'm still thinking about it.

If you force me to choose my favorite literary genre, I'll choose historical fiction every time. Mix up
historical fiction and thrillers...
and I'm all yours. The heroes we've learned about aren't always "heroes"...and even true heroes don't
always make
the right choices nor are their badges of honor and medals spotless.
Especially during wartime, lines are crossed...and crossed...and crossed…
Many times we'd like to forget those, and many times those high above our everyday citizen heads are
doing everything they can to make sure we (and anyone associated with questionable decisions) forget
forever.

See what I mean?
Sneaky, conniving, violence, history, psychological, biological weapons, not being able to figure out for sure
who the bad guys and good guys are...or if anybody is anything.

Read it.
My only negatives: 
I got a little tired of everybody thinking Murphy was a kid...of course she did too.

Murphy's sister in her ear...this is a characteristic that works itself out in the end, but it got on my
nerves a little before the end - I feel like I've just recently read something that uses the same strategy?

I would have enjoyed a deeper insight of Murphy’s mind...but that’s just me.
I'm all about psychological stuff!
Maybe Parks can go there in the next book :)

The rats! - the way a virus modifies itself - lives and/or dies!!
ACK!
The Author
Carrie Stuart Parks
Connect with Carrie
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Other Stops on the Tour
Monday, August 20th: Book by Book
Tuesday, August 21st: What is That Book About – spotlight
Wednesday, August 22nd: Splashes of Joy
Thursday, August 23rd: @thecaffeinated_bibliophile
Friday, August 24th: Blooming with Books
Monday, August 27th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, August 28th: Empowermoms
Thursday, August 30th: Fiction Aficionado
Tuesday, September 4th: Mystery Suspense Reviews
Wednesday, September 5th: Write Read Life
Thursday, September 6th: By the Book
Friday, September 7th: All of a Kind Mom
Monday, September 10th: Jathan & Heather
Tuesday, September 11th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, September 12th: Christian Chick’s Thoughts
Monday, September 17th: Peppermint Ph.D.
Thursday, September 20thView from the Birdhouse
Friday, September 21stThe Lit Bitch

Monday, September 3, 2018

Designer You by Sarahlyn Bruck


Designer You by Sarahlyn Bruck




• Paperback: 278 pages
• Publisher: Crooked Cat Books


Goodreads:

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


About Designer You
Pam Wheeler checked every box: Happy marriage? Check. Fantastic kid? Check. Booming career? Check.
So when her husband dies suddenly and their DIY empire goes on life support, Pam must fix the relationship with her troubled and grief-stricken daughter and save the family business.
Pam and Nate were a couple who just couldn’t get away from each other, sharing not only their bed, but also a successful lifestyle empire as DIY home renovators, bloggers, podcasters, and co-authors.
When Nate dies in a freak accident, Pam becomes a 44-year-old widow, at once too young and too old—too young to be thrust into widowhood and too old to rejoin the dating pool.
Now the single mother of a headstrong and grief-stricken teenager, Pam’s life becomes a juggling act between dealing with her loss and learning how to parent by herself. On top of all that she also must reinvent herself or lose the empire that she and Nate had built so carefully.
It is time for Pam to seize the opportunity to step up as a mother, come out from behind Nate’s shadow, and rise as the sole face of the Designer You brand, and maybe, possibly, hopefully, find love again.
Praise
Designer You [is] a brilliant, different story of grief, recovery, and change.” ~D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
‘‘A tenderly written story of a mother and daughter’s struggle to move on after loss, with characters so authentic you find yourself cheering and laughing.” ~Kelly Simmons, international selling author of ONE MORE DAY and THE FIFTH OF JULY


‘‘Sarahlyn Bruck’s touching debut is a beautifully written novel about love, grief, redemption—and the art of personal and professional recreation. This is a tender mother-daughter story that will stay in your heart long after you turn the final page.” ~Dawn Ius, author of ANNE & HENRY,OVERDRIVE, and LIZZIE
My Thoughts
While the book is certainly about Pam suddenly losing her husband Nate, for me, it was more a story of what happens after grief...finding a new normal...having your life turned upside down with realistic worries about finances, life itself, making decisions, forging relationships, mending some, and letting others go.  
I loved Pam and Grace.  I'm a girl mama myself so that shouldn't surprise anyone :)  
I felt their relationship was believable, as difficult as parenting a teenage daughter honestly is, its illogical nature sometimes...with both wanting to just smack the other...and then realizing that's not what they really want.  And, most of all, realizing that they truly are in this life together.  Mother and Daughter. And that life does go on.
A fast read and recommended highly for mamas.
The Author



Author Links: sarahlynbruck.comFacebookTwitter, and Instagram


Other Stops on the Tour


Monday, August 20th: BookNAround
Tuesday, August 21st: Bibliotica
Wednesday, August 22nd: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 23rd: Comfy Reading
Friday, August 24th: Literary Quicksand
Monday, August 27th: Jathan & Heather
Tuesday, August 28th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, August 29th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Thursday, August 30th: Leigh Kramer
Friday, August 31st: Into the Hall of Books
Monday, September 3rd: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, September 4th: Wining Wife
Wednesday, September 5th: Will Read Anything
Thursday, September 6th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, September 7th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, September 10th: The Desert Bibliophile
Tuesday, September 11th: Instagram: @writersdream
Wednesday, September 12th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, September 13th: Instagram: @booenetics