I’m a sucker for travelogue stories about individuals going off to exotic locations with the best of intentions, only to become the student upon their arrival. That was certainly the feeling I got from Trollope-Kumar’s first person experience in Cloud Messenger.
As a Canadian medical student, Karen Trollope-Kumar went to India to study social and preventive medicine and met a young pediatrician named Pradeep. His dream of working in the Himalayan foothills captured her imagination, and the man captured her heart. They married in a Hindu wedding ceremony and pledged to share a life of service and spiritual growth.
In this poignant, heartwarming, and gently humorous memoir, Karen recounts an eleven-year chapter of their unusual lives. She and Pradeep worked as medical doctors in the Himalayas, first in a rural hospital and later in remote mountain villages. When disaster struck — an assassination, an earthquake, a political crisis — their ideals, their safety, and their relationship are put at risk.
The story is insightful and the writing is detailed, but more importantly, there’s never a sense of the “white savior” who’s come to the region to make the ignorant peasants learn the “right” way of caring for themselves. I felt the author’s reasons and actions were realistic, believable, and more importantly, well-intentioned. It was a delightful, enjoyable, but instructional read.
Just a quick post to announce a great multi-author giveaway: here’s the link to 22 different authors’ books, free for download during their promotion! Take a look!
First, for the uninitiated, I have to explain Jolabokaflod. It’s (supposedly) an Icelandic holiday tradition that translates into “holiday flood of books.” In Iceland, you unwrap a book and curl up to read and enjoy some chocolate on Christmas Eve. It sounds absolutely heavenly, and god help anyone who tells me it’s not a real thing because yes it is.
I know it’s a real thing because I’ve been celebrating for a few years. Early each December, I send out the call to my Facebook friends, inviting them to participate in a book swap. I got a book this year that I haven’t gotten to read yet (review coming, I swear), because I went to read it and instead decided to open this book. They were both gifted by the same extraordinary author, Delena Silverfox, whose book Duchess of War is so super cool that I hope you get it long before Jolabokaflod 2017.
Anyway, you’ve probably noticed that this review is a lot less professional-sounding than other reviews on this site, and I promise that’s on purpose. The Stupidest Angel is fun and shocking and a whirlwind of wtf moments, all centered around one little town’s Christmas festivities and the weird man who arrives looking for a child.
I can’t actually tell you much more than that because, honestly, where the heck would I begin? With one of the richest men in town hitting his ex-wife with a ten-pound bag of ice from the grocery store? With the ex-wife getting into a tussle with him later while he happens to be wearing a Santa suit, only to have the struggle turn physical and he ends up tripping and impaling himself on her shovel? Or maybe I could start with the poor little kid who happened to witness Santa’s profanity-laced rant and violence towards women, only to end up dead? Oh, don’t forget the horny newcomer in town who offers to help bury Santa so he and the unwitting would-be KringleKiller could hurry up and go grab a bite to eat?
See? Where do I even start, except by telling you to get your own copy today. It’s actually the perfect AFTER-Christmas read since it’s dark and hilarious, and since you missed Jolabokaflod by almost a week.
The Ravi PI series is just about as fun as a mystery series can get without being comical or silly. While cozy mysteries certainly have their laugh-a-minute place, Tantimedh’s characters are quirky but still serious, as are the crimes themselves. While sometimes far-fetched…wait, so what? Who cares if it’s far-fetched, it’s a work of FICTION!
What really makes this book so captivating is the fact that the characters are a diverse bunch, but there’s nothing stereotypical about each person represented. Ravi Chandra Singh happens to be Indian, happens to be a seminary dropout–okay, not a Christian seminary, but so what–happens to have left his job as a high school teacher, and now happens to be a private investigator for a high-dollar London firm. All very ordinary, right? Of course not. But the fact that he’s Indian isn’t a big deal to the story, it’s just another interesting facet to the overall appeal of the book.
What I especially enjoyed what the “vignette” aspect to the stories. One mystery gets solved, another one crops up. That’s the beauty of working for a good-sized investigative firm: there is always another case. So instead of being bogged down in a chapter-by-chapter saga where clues and red herrings are doled out from start to finish, there’s the satisfaction of watch Ravi solve one case before diving headlong into another, all while the colorful people around him make their appearances.
Take a look at Book One in the series on Amazon by clicking here.
Okay, I’m going to admit something that will probably get me pelted with crayons: I don’t get the whole adult coloring book thing.
First of all, if I had time to sit and color, it would probably be while I’m waiting on hold, waiting in the carpool line at the kids’ school, waiting for some kind of sport or activity practice to be over with, waiting for the washing machine to finish so I can get someone’s sport or activity uniform into the dryer, waiting for… you get the point.
More importantly, adult coloring books tend to be overly busy, meaning those geometric swirls are a middle-aged eyesight’s nightmare. The whole point was supposed to be to DE-stress, not make me stress out about accidentally going outside the lines. And if I really want to de-stress through something vaguely artistic, what’s more fun than my kid’s discarded Hello Kitty coloring book?
I can officially tell you what’s more fun…a CREEPY coloring book. Mister Sam Shearon’s Creepy Christmas is not only beautifully made and filled with not-so-jolly Christmas creatures from cultures around the world, it contains stories, legends, poems, and much more. Best of all, though, the illustrations are detailed and complete without containing superfluous swirls and designs. They’re just fun but dark illustrations that will delight anyone with the right sense of humor.
Check out the link to find your own copy for someone who’s good cheer leans a little more towards history and folktales than the Macy’s version of the North Pole!
I was very surprised by the print quality of this enormous book, so surprised, in fact, that I looked up the previous two versions online to see if perhaps I was holding a galley copy and not the final version. No, volumes one and two were very similar in their cover design, their page formatting, and other features. This book is so fun and comes written by someone with unparalleled expertise in the topic, but I wish there had been a lot more effort put into making it look like a professionally crafted book.
Having said that, there are some considerations as to why it might be such an uncharacteristically strange-looking book. First, a portion of the proceeds go to support the Broadway Green Alliance, a non-profit that works to ensure that NYC productions are as environmentally-friendly as possible. The more money the publisher spent on making this into a more industry-standard book, the less money there would be to support the organization.
But the other consideration is this: when you have as much access to insider knowledge of the theater scene as author Jennifer Ashley Tepper, it doesn’t matter what the finished product looks like, even if it isn’t all that polished. You would think any of the Big Five publishers would be clamoring to get their hands on the manuscripts that led to these three books, but then the resulting publication would be so outrageously expensive that only the stars who grace the pages could even afford it. At just around $20 each, these oversized volumes share snippet-like anecdotes of life inside the biggest name theaters, and featuring the antics and tales of the biggest name stars.
For too many theater lovers, even a Broadway matinee is out of the realm of possibility. They instead rely on insider views to get to know their favorite stars and the iconic performances that grace the stage. With over 300 pages of interviews, memories, inside jokes, pranks, and more, this is the gift to get the theaterphile in your life.
The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3 goes on sale November 15th.
I’ll admit, I LOVED My Sweet Audrina when I first read it years ago (probably at a younger age than I should have). It was dark and twisted but still endearing in its own way, and it carried the story along through believable–and a few semi-believable–characters that did completely bizarre things.
So imagine my complete and total shock-filled joy to discover that there was a sequel!
Whitefern picks up with the death of Audrina’s father and shortly after, the reading of his will. The first book’s happily ever after romance between Audrina and Arden has become just as dark and twisted as the original story, and Arden loses his mind over the will when Audrina is named the major shareholder in her father’s company. “Sweet” Audrina has had no interest in her father’s business, but now that she’s been put in charge for some unknown reason, she’s curious as to why her father made that decision…and what he knew about Arden that would leave him out.
Then of course, there’s Audrina’s sister, Sylvia. The plot takes on a fresh form of evil where the younger sister–all grown up–is concerned, and Audrina is once again ensnared in a “face saving” scheme to protect the family name.
My only complaint with the book may stem from my having aged and matured, and not through the writer’s storytelling ability, but I just never felt the believability factor that I felt when reading the original. It was entertaining, but I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, and never really absorbed by the story and its outcome. Again, that could just be the thirty-year age difference between the teen who read My Sweet Audrina and the adult who enjoyed Whitefern.