Tag Archives: New Books

Blog Tour: Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo

“On the surface, Lunch with Buddha is a story about family.  Otto Ringling and his sister Cecelia could not be more different.   He’s just turned 50, an editor of food books at a prestigious New York publishing house, a man with a nice home in the suburbs, children he adores, and a sense of himself as being a mainstream, upper-middle-class American.  Cecelia is the last thing from mainstream.  For two decades she’s made a living reading palms and performing past-life regressions.  She believes firmly in our ability to communicate with those who have passed on.
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It will turn out, though, that they have more in common than just their North Dakota roots.
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In Lunch with Buddha, when Otto faces what might be the greatest of life’s difficulties, it is Cecelia who knows how to help him.   As she did years earlier in this book’s predecessor, Breakfast with Buddha, she arranges for her brother to travel with Volya Rinpoche, a famous spiritual teacher — who now also happens to be her husband.”

Sometimes a book comes along just when you need it….just what the Doctor ordered as they say. This book turned out to be one such for me. As Otto Ringling searches for meaning after his beloved wife’s death along a spiritual journey he couldn’t have possibly predicted….so have I searched for meaning since my son’s descent into autism. It’s in our very nature to try to find meaning when things happen in our lives that impact us in ways we don’t understand or cannot make sense of. Especially those events that devastate us to the very core of our beings. Some find meaning in religion…others in philosophy or even simple ideas like fate. Otto finds his in the most unlikely of places as he makes a life changing journey with his serene his brother-in-law in a beat up old pick up truck. Within the pages of this book I found more of a spiritual search that perhaps I myself truly needed…not really specific to any religion in my personal opinion but more of a look into the divine in general. It’s both simple and magical at the same time. While I have not read the first novel Breakfast with Buddha, I did not find myself at a loss. This book stands very firmly on it’s own. However I will be reading the first novel as soon as I get a chance. I also look forward to the other works of Roland Merullo in the future.

The thing I have to say that I enjoyed most was how comfortable the writing was, even the book itself just felt peaceful. It’s almost like a warm second skin to slip into during a storm. The writing is straight-forward, not flashy or overly deep and yet it still reaches you in places that only truth can. It was the perfect book for a certain time in my life and I think it would resonate with many on multiple levels.

TLC Book Tours  Book Giveaway

I’m happy to be able to share a copy of this book with one lucky reader at Stiletto Storytime. To enter just comment below and share how you reach a place of peace in hard times. It may be through religion, meditation, a favorite quote?  Giveaway will end midnight EST December, 19 2012 and is available to a US/CAN addresses only. The lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower of TLC Book Tours on Twitter

Tweet and/or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Blog Tour: Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

  ” I’m sitting on my couch, watching the local news. There’s Chloe’s parents, the mayor, the hangers on, all grouped round the pond for the ceremony. It’s ten years since Chloe and Carl drowned. You can tell from their faces that something has gone wrong. But I’m the one who knows straightaway that the mayor has found a body. And I know who it is.”

There’s nothing cheerful about the psychologically charged mystery that is Cold Light. In fact there is actually an undeniable coldness to the narrative, a detached almost nonchalant air to the unfolding of events that is at the heart of this novel. The way memory becomes present, past becomes in the moment and it all comes together in pieces to reveal the secrets of one series of events witnessed by many in varying ways. Young teen girls, an older man, an innocent…all pulled into a chain of events that are both chilling and dark.

At the heart of the story is Lola or Laura depending upon the time in which she speaks. An young girl from a dysfunctional family, at a young age she yearns for attention, acceptance and ultimately approval. More the anything she yearns for these things from her best friend Chloe. A kind of Queen Bee who attracts girls like Lola and Emma into her web of confidence and control then makes them compete for her attention and favor. However in this case Chloe also has a controller of her very own in the form of an older man, a man using a young girl for sexual favors while filling her head with ideas of boyfriends and girlfriends and something similar to what a young girl might think love would be like but at the same time horribly wrong and far from it. Disaster is the ending…chilling in its truth but the reader knows that from the very beginning….the only question is how the mystery will unfold and what truth will ultimately be revealed.

A skilled writer who excels at the dissection of relationships and their complex internal struggles and attached obligations, Ashworth has a knack for writing within her character’s minds. She fits easily into the mindset of her teen characters making them real and easily understood in their young mindset, needs, wants and reasoning. Lovers of British fiction will find the novel ultimately that in it’s tone and somewhat detached introspection. It is not uplifting, not happy in any way, shape or form but it is addictive. Making readers keep turning pages to fill the need to know what really happened….to know the truth that is so often just in front of them and then teasingly again and again pages away.

You can check out the book trailer for Cold Light here which is a perfectly chilling depiction of what the novel truly is about. You can also connect with author Jenn Ashworth on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure to also check out all the other great blogs participating in this great tour.

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Blog Tour: Flock by Wendy Delsol

Some series steal your heart and just don’t let go. It can begin with that very first book that you devour like literary candy. The one that starts the craving with an introduction to a new world full of characters that you fall for and a story line that keeps you on your toes. The question or uncertainty of the story and its continuation can almost haunt you until you get that release date for the next installation. And then another book, this one taking you deeper and acting as further invitation. And while some series may have many volumes to mesmerize between beginning and end, others may only have that one to bridge the bittersweet distance. The last book eventually acting as the conclusion of your journey.
And so it was with Wendy Delsol’s Stork series for me. Stork, an introduction. Frost, an invitation. And last but not least Flock a masterfully worthy conclusion. 
When I learned that this trilogy would be wrapping up, I immediately set out to re-read the first two books so I could re-live the entire tale in full glory. And while familial duties and illness delayed me in the last couple of weeks eventually making me have to put off my review date for this blog tour, I stubbornly stuck to my resolve to enjoy all three books back to back. In the effort of saving time I could  have simply read the final book and remembered what I could as I read and review on that level (which I rarely do…I almost always re-read a series before reviewing books that belong within a set as I think it’s important to review with the entire series in mind) but somehow I simply could not. I wanted too badly to return to Katla, Jack and the wonders of Norse Falls and all its Icelandic folkish allure. So while I apologize for this review being late…I don’t apologize for stepping into this story one last time before it’s end and savoring every word because I found only in reading the books back to back in such quick succession did I truly appreciate how well-written, consistent and enchanting they are.
Beyond that how stunning are the covers when all displayed together? I genuinely love this type of thought and consistency in a well-developed series. It’s everything from the writing style, the characters, the humor to the very covers themselves..there must be a flow and yet a kind of sameness at the same time. So is this series for you? If you think it could be don’t read the summary of the last book below. Please start at the beginning fresh. I promise you won’t regret it. If you’ve read the first two books then you no doubt will be dying to continue on to learn more about the final volume in the Stork trilogy.
“After surviving her (shall we say) intense adventure in Iceland, Katla is psyched to be back for a blissfully uneventful senior year of homecoming and fashion explorations. But her hopes of dodging unfinished business are dashed by the arrival of two Icelandic exchange students: Marik, an oddly alluring merman-in-disguise, and Jinky, a tough gypsy girl. It seems Katla not only enraged the Snow Queen by rescuing her boyfriend, Jack, she also was tricked into promising her frail baby sister to the water queen — and Marik has come to collect. What’s worse, Katla doesn’t dare confide in anyone lest she endanger them, so even her soul mate, Jack, is growing suspicious. And now Katla’s stork dreams, her guide for matching babies with mothers, have become strange and menacing as well. Hold on for a thrilling finale as the heroine of Stork and Frost calls on her wits (and her wit) to protect those she loves and face a final mythic disaster.”
Interested? Of course you are. You can also check out my feature of Stork  in 2010  and my “Book Birthday” review of Frost  from 2011. And please make sure to check out the other stops on this tour at The Mod Podge Bookshelf where you can enter a giveaway and possibly win the entire trilogy! Also make sure to enter the giveaway at I’m Am a Reader, Not a Writer where you could win your very own copy of Flock. But hurry both giveaways end after October 14, 2012. And last but certainly not least remember to visit the talented author Wendy Delsol. You can also follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook. Either way…you’ll find her as truly delightful as her books. Enjoy and Happy Reading!

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Blog Tour: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe

   “Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace.  It was time to find a life for myself.  To make something out of nothing.  The end of hope and the beginning of it too.”

 “After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land–a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets.  As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of a family have been shattered.  She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.
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Grace opens a cafe, where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons–the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones–to the women of Macau.  There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family.  But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface.  Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghost to rest and to begin to trust herself.  With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked.  Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.”
The sadness that comes with the loss of a dream- be whatever that dream may have been, can feel almost impossible to overcome for many individuals. When one has nothing else to cling to but the failure of what they most desired or what might have been- they often find themselves in a never-ending almost cyclical battle with depression and the ever present reality of constant reminders of that lost dream or failure. As a woman the idea of being infertile, never having the opportunity to become a biological mother or have a family of own’s own can be the most devastating reality of all. Not only can it be one of deep personal shame ( un-warranted but felt nonetheless) and a sense of unworthiness but also one of a shared nature in that as a female she feels she has not only kept herself from the most natural of experiences but also let her partner down in that aspect as well.
As Grace faces this reality for herself, she seeks distractions from her sorrow within the new city of Macau which she and her Australian husband now call home. But somehow even the excitement of exploring a new and  exotic locale is not even enticement  enough to get Grace out of the bed in the morning…she still needs more. More to invest not only her time but her love in. She needs that one thing into which she can pour her heart and soul into since the reality of motherhood appears to never be an actual possibility. And so she digs deep into her past and a treat that reminds her of a mother whose true story is often hard to determine. It is the delight of the macaron in which Grace immerses herself. A delicate french desert that brings back happy memories of childhood.
Richly detailed and dripping with sensual descriptions of everything from food, to passion and even people. The Color of Tea is a feast of the senses and yet also very deeply personal. It can be wrenching at times and emotionally evocative but still also a light and summery read that never goes too dark. It’s very character driven in nature and yet blurs the lines of also being a travel novel of an not often mentioned place. I found it enchanting and easy to read and surround oneself with. Although I must say the beginning of ever chapter describing a mouth-watering macaron made me hungry at times…wanting to literally taste the delights described within the works. Trader Joe’s frozen macarons may not be exactly what was described but I did pick up a box to enjoy as I read of Grace and her endeavors.
For me personally The Color of Tea came to me not only at a relevant time in my life but also touched me deeply as I shared many of Grace’s feelings of loss. As I am trying desperately  to deal with a devastating blow of my own and a search for an outlet through which to find purpose and the happiness and hope I once had in abundance. After the diagnosis of my son’s autism, I found myself lost. It was as if every dream I had ever had of being a mother had been suddenly stripped from me. Would I ever be able to truly know my child? Would I ever be able to enjoy those small moments most parents take for granted? Would my son every be able to share with me even the most simple things such as his needs, wants or even favorite color? In all this I have searched for an outlet beyond being an advocate for my child. Something to bring me personal joy, to keep my mind from the ever constant what ifs that haunt when things go silent. This novel touched me deeply in that way since I could relate to Grace’s despair and her need for something within her life to fill the void. I myself have filled my void with books and the never-ending search for what else I can do to help my son. In this way the book rings very very true to real life for me. It was a pleasurably read that I believe will attract many readers…those hungry for a good story and those just hungry for one deliciously delicate macaron.
You can follow the Blog Tour for The Color of Tea at TLC Book Tours and check out what others thought of the book. Have you read it ? If so please share your feelings in the comments. Let’s talk books! Haven’t read it yet? Want an opportunity to win your own copy…just enter to below.

TLC Book Tours  Book Giveaway

To enter just comment below and share something with which you have struggled to come to terms with and how you might have channeled your energy and time into an alternative thing or act that gave you peace in some way from the loss you felt. Not want to go that deep…just share your favorite dessert…perhaps even your favorite macaron flavor? Giveaway will end midnight EST August 7, 2012 and is available to a US addresses only. The lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Tweet and/or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Mothership is the first installment in a new trilogy from Martin Leicht & Isla Neal that has been described as Juno meets Pretty In Pink…but in space.”

Pregnant. In space. Yeah, things are really looking up.

 It’s 2074 and Elvie’s unplanned pregnancy (with Cole Archer, who bolted out of town half a millisecond after hearing the news, not that Elvie’s bitter about it or anything) forces her to leave her best bud back on Earth and spend her junior year aboard a corny old space cruiser with forty-five other hormonal teen girls (one of whom just happens to be her arch-nemesis).  Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole.
Quirky, humorous and quite frankly- out of this world would be the perfect description of Mothership. It’s the kind of read where you simply never know what will happen next. You couldn’t guess or imagine the plot line even if you tried and there’s a lot to be said for that. And when the action begins…it’s out of this world literally….the fast paced story is set in actual space after all. Elvie herself presents as an interesting leading heroine in the character of an everyday futuristic teen girl with a pretty logical outlook on life, she’s always the ever resourceful back-up and much more mature than most of the teenagers around her. And her out of this world crush and Baby Daddy: Cole Archer, well he is the ultimate heartthrob. And well written example of that one boy in high school that just sent your hurt a flutter. Only he carries an immense secret that will have major implications on both Elvie and the life of her unborn child. This leads to an interesting quest for truth and a fantastic ride and fight for survival.

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Blog Tour: One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

“I open one eye, the one that isn’t covered with a thick ointment and crusted shut, and call out for my mother, who must have stepped out of the room. I reach for the phone that is sitting on the tray table at the side of my bed and the nerve endings in my bandaged left arm scream in protest at the movement.”

Today I am excited and honored to welcome author Heather Gudenkauf to Stiletto Storytime as she travels the world wide web on her exclusive BookTrib Blog Tour sharing  her latest masterpiece One Breath AwayThe excerpt above is just a tiny taste of what this amazing work has to offer and more can be found throughout her tour with each stop hosting excerpts, exclusive author posts and even a few giveaways. Make sure to follow her tour here. Trust me this is an author you’ll want to meet and a book you won’t want to miss.

As a reader I first fell in love with Heather’s writing when I reviewed her novel These Things Hidden  just last year. I was completely drawn into her style in a way that surprised even me. I usually don’t find myself so taken in by modern day contemporary fiction. But within a few chapters I was hooked and the book was finished within hours because I simply had to know what happened next. As I read I found myself  amazed at her ability to make me not only completely hypnotized by her writing but also left utterly breathless with it’s unseen literary twists and turns.

When approached about hosting her for One Breath Away I jumped at the chance. I just couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for readers with her next book. And I promise she does not disappoint. One Breath Away is a beautifully balanced  collection of characters and their personal experiences during an event that is all too relevant in our time and truly a mother’s worst nightmare. Just imagine your child is at school when a man with a gun enters and changes your life forever. Worst of all…is the lack of information. Who is this man? What does he want? Is your child safe?

In an event surrounded by mystery Gudenkauf takes readers into the world of small town America and it’s worst nightmare. She uses multiple characters and view points to paint a picture that ever so slowly reveals the past, present and future that surrounds this one event and the people involved. The result is storytelling that flows so well it seems effortless and yet every piece of the puzzle is placed thoughtfully just where it goes. Attention to detail is seen within every word.

So without further ado. Welcome Heather to Stiletto Storytime…

 What draws you to write suspenseful women’s fiction? 

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child – yes, I was one of those kids who did a fist pump whenever the teacher assigned a writing project -but as is typical with most writers, I was and am, first and foremost an avid reader. As a child my favorite place in the world was our public library and I spent as much time as possible with my nose in a book. I loved mysteries and plowed my way through all the Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew Mystery books. One of my favorite mystery series growing up was The Boxcar Children which I recently learned was originally published in 1924. I read all the books that were available when I was a child, and again as an adult I read them to my own children with enthusiasm. Who can resist a story about a tight knit set of orphaned siblings, an abandoned boxcar, a dog, and the mystery surrounding a long lost grandfather?

As I got older, I continued to enjoy mystery and suspense novels but my interests expanded to a variety of genres, including books that explored the intricacies of the human heart: Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Elizabeth Berg’s Pull of the Moon, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and so many moreI’ve always admired the way writers could take me away to different places and times through the written word. I knew I wanted to try my hand at writing but didn’t sit down and seriously begin until after I was married and had my children.  But when I did, I remembered all the stories and books I’ve read through the years, remembered how deftly authors could arrange the words on a page to be suspenseful, heart wrenching, or heart-warming – to evoke all varieties of emotion. My hope is to do the same for my readers.  ~Heather Gudenkauf

Thanks for stopping by Stiletto Storytime Heather and on a personal note- thank you very much for the character of Lucy Shelton. It’s so wonderful and sadly rare to see inclusion represented in today’s literature. As a parent of a child with autism, I thank you for remembering there are many children in our schools and each would have their own challenges in handling a situation such as what occurs in One Breath AwayBy including a character like Lucy, you help raise awareness and make people think. That is a magical thing that can truly later on down the road change how a person might perceive or react to children with autism and their parents.

 Readers: Make sure to check out One Breath Away  and Heather Gudenkauf’s other books if her writing is new to you. I have truly enjoyed each one. You can find more information on the author and her work on her website. Happy Reading!

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

“A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Christian maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live. Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore.”

I Am Forbidden is a journey through the lives of four generations of a Samtar family, a religious sect known for its extreme insularity and un-ending desire for privacy. Personally I have never encountered their existence in fictional literature quite like what Anouk Markovits has created. Her unique view of their world shines through every page as she draws on even the most minute of details from both her childhood and young adulthood growing up within the sect and her thorough research, which is apparent throughout the novel.  She truly brings you into a community that most individuals will probably never know exists and especially never be able to experience.

The novel spans decades and yet it has a never ceasing elegant flow to it’s travel through time as she explores each generation and their lives including both their joys and sorrows including their most trying times and horrific experiences. While often heartbreaking the novel is a testament to the never-ending ebb and flow of life even among those individuals who have in many ways withdrawn from modern society for their sacred religious beliefs.

As I read in many ways it reminded me of a past read Hidden Wives by Claire Avery which introduced readers to the world of a modern day Utah polygamist community.  If you like one you may want to check out the other. Both offer fantastic insights into world’s that exist almost invisibly around us although with very unique voices and different writing styles.

TLC Book Giveaway

Ready to delve into a past and culture that is most probably completely new to you? Thanks to the folks at TLC Book Tours Stiletto Storytime is excited to  to be able to give a copy of I Am Forbidden to one reader. Giveaway ends at midnight EST on  June 23, 2012. US/Canada address only please. The winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. To enter just comment below. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower of TLC Book Tours on Twitter

“Like” TLC Book Tours on Facebook

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Blog Tour: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

     “Bombay, which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face, is the hero or heroin of this story…

Jeet Thayil’s luminous debut novel completely subverts and challenges the literary traditions for which the Indian novel is celebrated. This is a book about drugs, sex, death, perversion, addiction, love, and god, and has more in common in its subject matter with the work of William S. Burroughs or Baudelaire than with the subcontinent’s familiar literary lights. Above all, it is a fantastical portrait of a beautiful and damned generation in a nation about to sell its soul. Written in Thayil’s poetic and affecting prose, Narcopolis charts the evolution of a great and broken metropolis.

Narcopolis opens in Bombay in the late 1970s, as its narrator first arrives from New York to find himself entranced with the city’s underworld, in particular an opium den and attached brothel. A cast of unforgettably degenerate and magnetic characters works and patronizes the venue, including Dimple, the eunuch who makes pipes in the den; Rumi, the salaryman and husband whose addiction is violence; Newton Xavier, the celebrated painter who both rejects and craves adulation; Mr. Lee, the Chinese refugee and businessman; and a cast of poets, prostitutes, pimps, and gangsters.

Decades pass to reveal a changing Bombay, where opium has given way to heroin from Pakistan and the city’s underbelly has become ever rawer. Those in their circle still use sex for their primary release and recreation, but the violence of the city on the nod and its purveyors have moved from the fringes to the center of their lives. Yet Dimple, despite the bleakness of her surroundings, continues to search for beauty-at the movies, in pulp magazines, at church, and in a new burka-wearing identity.

After a long absence, the narrator returns to find a very different Bombay in 2004. Those he knew are almost all gone, but the heights of the passion he feels for them and for the city is revealed.”

  Evocative, gritty, at times shocking and yet undeniably poetic at the same time Narcopolis is unlike any novel of India in existence that I am aware of and I have personally read a large number of what is available to readers (however limited  by my need of English translations). It’s one of my favorite areas of literature and has produced some of my most beloved books of all time.  Thrity Umrigar for example is one of my absolute most coveted authors and I wait patiently for each of her books and devour them again and again. Her writing is achingly honest and incontestable in it’s beauty…it’s truly magical and captures India in all it’s allure and undeniable anguish. For me there’s just something about the culture of India that keeps me coming back and perhaps one reason is that stark contrast of grace and tragedy that makes for such an adverse muse for so many talented writers. My travels there created an interest and hunger that I am still to this day trying to feed with my reading habits.

My love affair with India and Indian literature blossomed soon after my trip there in the summer of 2001. While most novels and authors of India at least touch on it’s poverty (it’s nearly impossibly not to since it’s such an open and heartbreaking part of everyday existence) and often troubling caste system very few focus almost exclusively on it’s true underbelly like this work. Drugs, prostitution, crime, lust and multiple religions- Thayil leaves very little untouched and delves deeper than any author I have ever encountered especially into the realm of drug use and addiction. The novel itself is enveloped in a smoky haze that creates an almost dream-like quality to the writing at times. Racing thoughts, dreams of the extraordinarily bizarre and the symptoms of addiction-all make themselves ever present in the narrative.

Spanning three decades of life in the city of Bombay (now modern day Mumbai) the novel focuses on the city’s darker side exploring various characters and their lives and experiences on the city streets and within the “wrong” side of Indian culture. One of Thayil’s main characters is that of the eunuch prostitute Dimple, a perfect example of an individual of both tragic and beautiful elements which the author so well explores in his writing. Bringing together the shadowy history of one of India’s largest cities with the intensely personal lives of a number of unique and unconventional characters Narcopolis is a book that will entrance some while repelling others. In most cases I think those readers drawn in by it’s description will be those that will enjoy it and become lost within it’s pages. It’s not for all but it will find a appreciative audience within which it will be applauded for it’s stark honesty and unerring ability to take a world of pain and tragedy and still show pure beauty no matter how fleeting and tiny- a talent only achievable by truly gifted writers.

Interested readers can follow the Blog Tour for this distinctive work here.

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Blog Tour: An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer

    “A young woman tries to save three people she loves in this elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut.

Afraid of losing her parents at a young age—her father with his weak heart, her deeply depressed mother—Naomi Feinstein prepared single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. An outcast at school, Naomi loses herself in books, and daydreams of Wellesley College. But when Teddy, her confidant and only friend, abruptly departs from her life, it’s the first devastating loss from which Naomi is not sure she can ever recover, even after her long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.

Naomi soon learns that college isn’t the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness—until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.

The event marks Naomi’s introduction to Wellesley’s oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. Naomi finally begins to detach from the past and so much of what defines her, immersing herself in this exciting and liberating new world and learning the value of friendship. But her happiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings irrevocable consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but part of growing up is learning that sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.

An Uncommon Education is a compelling portrait of a quest for greatness and the grace of human limitations. Poignant and wise, it artfully captures the complicated ties of family, the bittersweet inevitability of loss, and the importance of learning to let go.”

An Uncommon Education is a deeply beautiful novel that collectively examines all that shapes and “educates” us throughout our lives culminating in who and what we become and why. From our earliest interactions and relationships such as those with our closest family members to later in life focusing on those individuals we choose to surround ourself with and on down the line to our passions and those things that we choose to pursue and lose ourselves in by choice, the book speaks volumes about how each individual detail helps shape who we are to become.  It also begs to ask…how much control do we really have over what we encounter in life and how it will affect us? One of my favorite lines in the very beginning of the novel reads:

The first phase of his life was so marked by trauma he was able to detach it almost completely from his later realities, his pain a faulty limb that had been cleanly removed, only to be remembered as a phantom sensation. But he was able to command the kind of joy that only those who have known deep unhappiness can summon.

The line reflects how our past and/or early beginnings can shape who we become but again questions…how much choice or influence do we really have in the matter?

It all begs to ask what one means by the word education? What is an education? Is it a course of study we actively pursue or a series of lessons that we are taught regardless of choice. Not just our formal educations like the relationship of student to institution although Naomi’s relationship to Wellesley is a large part of this book but our relationships, life moments and everyday happiness all lend a hand to our life education. The book speaks to the idea that our “educations” are made up of everything we encounter from the moment we come into this world.  Naomi’s story is told from childhood on…showing how each and every moment helped to shape who she would become. Sometimes the lessons taught in childhood stick and become part of the end result and sometimes we learn and change what was earlier instilled.

It’s a tale of discovery and beauty as the details of the novel fall into place making the reader appreciate the flow of the story while also creating a very organic thought process that leads the reader to question long after the last word has been read. The book is one of easy readability on the surface but true depth just below. It’s definitely worth the read and the thinking that the reading will hopefully provoke. It’s a wonderful debut for Elizabeth Percer and I look forward to what she will do in the future. In her very first book she has truly mastered the art of creating an interesting story while also building a collective thought process that will lead readers beyond the plot and characters into something more.

Feel free to check out the other stops on this TLC Book Blog Tour here.

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Review & Giveaway: The Thirteen by Susie Moloney

       “Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing. The streets are clean, people keep their yards really nicely. It’s fairly pet friendly, though barking dogs are not welcomed. The crime rate is practically non-existent, unless you count the odd human sacrifice, dismemberment, animal attack, demon rape and blood atonement. When Paula Wittmore goes home to Haven Woods to care for a suddenly ailing mother, she brings her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She also brings the last chance for twelve of her mother’s closest frenemies, who like to keep their numbers at thirteen. And her daughter, young, innocent, is a worthy gift to the darkness.

A circle of friends will support you through bad times. A circle of witches can drag you through hell.”

If The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby had a literary love child it would result in something almost exactly like The ThirteenDark and yet exceedingly proper the novel has a special kind of allure that pulls readers into it’s twisted world of the pristine suburb of Haven Woods where perfection comes at a price. With unique characters that walk on both the light and the dark side, The Thirteen combines mystery, witchcraft and the always terrifying family relationship dynamic in a perfect blend of horror and normalcy. It’s a creepy work that keeps you reading and guessing long into the night and it might even encourage the use of a night light when you finally do decide to put it down. The perfect book for ladies who like a dash of evil mixed in with their contemporary dramas.

Some women will do anything for their dearest desires to come true and the women of Haven Woods are exceedingly ambitious. So pick up a copy and see just how far they will go to remain The Thirteen.

 Book Giveaway

 Thanks to the terrific folks at William Morrow, Stiletto Storytime has TWO fantastic copies of The Thirteen to give away to lucky readers. This double giveaway will end midnight EST April 25, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please. Winner will be contacted by e-mail.

To enter just comment below and share you favorite recent read. I’d love to know what books are currently sitting snug on your bedside table and which ones are forever in your hands.

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