FINDING TAKRI by Palo Stickland

takriI loved reading Finding Takri. It was easy to read, and understand, and easy to fall in love with. The story is about a young girl (Takri). We follow her life – her marriage to an unknown man from another village, her children, and grandchildren’s lives too. We learn of a love she had prior to her marriage, and see his story through his viewpoint at different points in the novel.

Takri’s story is heartbreaking, but we do see happiness. Palo Stickland balances the two areas with grace. As an Indian myself, I loved revisiting the Indian words Palo used subtlety. It was fresh, and not hard to understand.

Let’s talk about the characters: Takri, who is the main character, is lovely, and I liked her instantly, for her pleasant, and caring attitude to life. We feel sorrow, but when she finds happiness, we can’t be happy enough. Her husband, Basant, loves Takri a lot. We see his caring side, but also his jealous side, and his life takes a turn. We meet Karam, Takri’s love. He is a strong, decisive Punjabi, who is  headstrong, yet sensitive. His life is haunted by his love for Takri. All three characters are bound to one another, and all three spend a lot of time apart from each other too.

Palo’s writing is clean, and sincere. Her voice is natural. It is easy to get lost in the prose without any grammatical disturbances. I cannot emphasize how finely her book is written.

I really recommend you read this book. Not only would you enjoy it, but you shall also learn a few things of India’s struggle against the British Raj, in the 1940s. This is one debut I will never forget.

A fantastic piece of writing, worthy of a literary prize!

TORN TOGETHER by Emlyn Chand

Before I write my review of Torn Together, I must say a huge Thank You to the Emlyn Chand for writing this novel. It made me smile, Torn Together Coverlaugh and cry.

Emlyn Chand has written this novel from her heart and from her own personal experience. She has poured her soul and life into this writing. I related to the Indian side of Torn Together very well, due to the fact that I am Indian. Emlyn got the references of Indian life, the smells, the taste, the feel, the characterisation and the way people from the Indian Sub-Continent speak, spot on. I felt I was there in New Delhi in the house of Kashi’s parents. I understood a lot of Indian references and learnt a little too. 

The story is told from two perspectives  – Indian and American, quite a remarkable achievement. 

The story’s base character is Daly, a passionate girl whose ambition and love is Art until she meets Kashi, an Indian man whom she falls head over heels in love with and marries.

Within the story, we see issues of abandonment and a lot of anger. Following the death of Daly’s father, her relationship between her mother and herself is strained and the pent-up anger is released in a series of emotional backlash that we see through her paintings. Daly makes friends with Megghan, a pregnant young girl who is still at school.

With Kashi, her mother and Megghan, we witness Daly’s life as she struggles with self conflict and doubt. 

A tragedy strikes 3/4 of the way into the story that dissolves Daly’s life to shreds. Whereas the reader would think this is the end of Daly, for she truly feels it, a miracle happens that brings her back from the darkness and into the light. A new hope…a new future.

I read Torn Together in five days and that is an achievement believe me. I couldn’t put the story down and had to know how her relationship between Kashi and her mother fared, how her friendship evolved with Megghan and the significance they had in her life.

Torn Together was given to me as a review copy and I am to have read it. I highly recommend this book!

Emlyn Chand

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About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the book: Life, love, and an unforgettable trip to India–readers call “Torn Together” an emotional roller coaster ride. What’s all the fuss about? Grab your mother, daughter, sister, or closest friend, and get reading. Make sure to keep a box of Kleenex handy! Get Torn Together through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo Books.

About the author: Emlyn Chand emerged from the womb with a fountain pen clutched in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity. Best known for her Young Adult novels, she is also developing a small, but devoted, following to her children’s book series and is beginning to dabble in other genres as well. Emlyn enjoys connecting with readers and is available via almost every social media site in existence. Visit EmlynChand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky! Connect with Emlyn on her website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Torn Together! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Torn Together tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

EMBED CODE can be found at http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YzE3YzI0YTkzYTJkODQ0ODQxZDUwNTUwMTQ3OTkxOjUy/

India was One by An Indian

Upon reading the title, India was One, I automatically thought the book was about Indian Independence and Partition which took place in 1947. Was I in for a surprise!

This is Jai and Kaahi’s story; a lovely combination of friendship, love and change.

It begins with Jai looking through a pair of binoculars and finding Kaahi doing the same from the other side of India. And the chapter stops there.

The following chapters are a run down to the first chapter . We are shown how Jai meets Kaahi and are intoduced to Jai’s friends.

The first half of the book flows nicely with no dramas or tragedies and we get to experience the food, the festivities and a game of cricket, which is explained in detail.

In fact, a lot of Indian terms, languages, customs and religious and non religious festivities are explained in detail. For the readers who already know all this, it can be a chore to read but for those who don’t know, it is a real treat.

Explaining it all gives you a deeper understanding of the author’s story as it is read on. The author has written the explanations in the story, not within the story, which I would have preferred. There was a lot of telling and not showing. Writing in this way, interrupts the reading as I found.
Even so,  I was still intrigued and wanted to find out how Jai reached the point of looking through the binoculars.

One of the things I loved about reading this interesting book was that the author takes us on a travel tour to Rajasthan – India, the US and Europe. We see fabulous descriptions of the US and how it differs from India, how non-resident Indians (NRIs) find India and have adapted to living in a country which was alien to them at first.

When Jai takes Kaahi to Europe on a holiday, we don’t see the main holiday destinations but the off road little towns and cities which we don’t normally see. It was a delight to read!

This was all in the first half of the book. The second half was very different and quite shocking too.

Jai and Kaahi come back from Europe refreshed and then bad news hit them! A news flash – there is civil unrest in India! What does this mean? Without giving to much away, I will just say that India wasn’t One anymore. A felt a lump in my throat when Kaahi had to leave Jai at the airport, both going back to India but to different locations. We are thrown in turmoil as we see the state of India and it’s people and we want to see Jai and Kaahi back together.

Everything happens but at a price and we see happiness clouded by a death – a friend who gave for his country. I was devastated when this happened as I had grown to love this character (as with all the other characters).

India was One is a book to read. It is interesting and intriguing, yet original and different!

Daughters of Iraq by Revital Shiri-Horowitz

A splendid read, Revital Shiri-Horowitz brings the reader into a personal weave of love and hope. The story delves deep into the heart, allowing the reader to re-live those moments of their past, when they dreamt and later, remembered those they cared about.

Violet is the mother of Noa and Guy and wife to Dan. She speaks to us via a journal. Farida is Violet’s sister and tells us about her past – of her love for Eddie and of her never ending loneliness. Noa, Violet’s daughter, speaks of her aching heart and guilt as she thinks of her dying mother and of her current life and aspirations.

The story begins in Baghdad, Iraq in 1940 when Violet was a young girl who was beaten by her then, respected father, for telling a lie and being rebellious. It then moves on to Farida in the second chapter where we see her going about her life, making okra patties for her grandchildren and contemplating her visit to the hair salon. She remembers her childhood days with her nephew, Eddie and  sister Violet and how they used to frolic around after sneaking away from school.  Noa comes next, an adult yet still a young girl at heart as she remembers her past – her mother’s cancer and her going away. We learn a bit about these three women and the story moves on.

The introduction is thought out well and urges the reader to carry on reading to the next chapter and the next, never slowing down. There is never a dull moment in this book;  the personal conflicts are vital to the stories as the reader gets to know and understand and fall in love with Violet and Farida’s family, especially Eddie.

Revital writes with confidence and smoothly, unravelling the sequences of the past and present without getting the reader confused. The chapters are short and to the point which makes reading very easy.

Of all the characters, I loved Farida the most for her sense of humour, her compassion, her witty sayings and her abundance of love and for her love for food. She is a colourful character and a lovely women.

Daughters of Iraq is a book which must be read. The sharp intelligence of these three women; their heartaches and strong emotions are reflected in todays’ men and women. It is contemporary, yet historical. I would recommend reading this book, for the beautiful story telling and for the first hand insights of the Iraqi women.