...never judge a book by its movie

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shiva's Arms Book Tour and Giveaway (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)





Title:  Shiva's Arms
Author:  Cheryl Snell
Publisher: Writer's Lair Books
Category:  Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 193 pages
ISBN:  9780615340814


From the book cover:


"Shame! This is your fault only," Amma yelled, shaking her fists.  "You godles girl, you have weakened my family, my son's caste lost because of you!"


"You're the one!  You won't be satisfied until you've destroyed everything, smashed it to bits with your tiny bare feet!"  Alice pointed to Amma's brown toes.  Amma looked down and flexed them, the war suspended for a second until she ran to the ktichen.  Pulse throbbing at her temples, Amma snatched a pair of pliers to her heaving chest, hiked up the hem of her sari, and scurried upstairs.

My Take:  Because lately I seem to be perpetually behind, I just started reading this last night.  I stayed up until I was finished, which meant the wee wee hours of the morning, as I have a tendency to savor and re-read certain parts of whatever book I'm on, sometimes even just to get a better understanding.  (That also explains why I'm behind!)

I was immediately drawn in by the picture of Alice being hustled through the airport and into the sweltering Indian heat on her first visit to meet her new Indian relatives-by-marriage.  Most of us have or know someone with an overbearing mother-in-law, and I think those issues are doubled, if not tripled, when you add in the cultural differences between groups like Americans and Indians.

As I read, I could feel Alice's frustration, her husband Ram's ambivalence and all of the interplay that exists when two women each want to run things.  Amma's visits to her son's house in America are fraught with tension, although there are some close moments with Amma and Alice throughout the book where you think that all things are now settled and they've become at least contented with each other.

I enjoyed this book, although there were some rather abrupt transitions throughout.  My fondest wish would have been to see the characters come to life in full flesh a bit sooner and to have more background info on the major players.  This is a debut novel following some extremely well-received volumes of poetry, so I kept that in mind as I read, as the flow of poetry is often a bit fractured for effect.

All in all, it is well worth a read, as it reads quickly and is light enough (even with the subject matter) to make for a good summer reads book.  I did, however, feel a need to take points off for the abrupt transitions and sometimes surface sketches of the characters and action.

Book Rating3.75 out of 5 stars

Author Information/Bio:



Cheryl Snell has published over four hundred poems and stories online and in print. Her books include both fiction and poetry, and Prisoner’s Dilemma, her recent volume of poetry and art, won the Lopside Press Competition. Snell has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net four times, and her poem "Fire on the Cuyahoga" was chosen by Dorianne Laux for inclusion in the Sundress' Best of the Net Anthology last year. Follow her author's blog about all things Indian at shivasarms.blogspot.com

If you caught my teaser post this morning, you'll know that I am very excited about this book tour, as this is the first time that I've had an author available to answer ALL of your questions!!

I was offered the chance at an author interview, but I really suck at coming up with questions more interesting and original than "Where do your ideas for books come from?", so I'm counting on YOU to fill in that deficiency of mine!

More Info:

You can get more information on the book at Writer's Lair Books, including an excerpt.

You can also visit Cheryl Snell's website for all kinds of goodies, including an author interview, a trailer, and recipes that you'll want to try!

BUY IT:  This book is available on Amazon for purchase.

WIN IT:
  Writer's Lair and Cheryl Snell have been kind enough to offer one of you, my readers, a copy for yourself!

I'm making this super easy and hopefully fun.

For your first entry, simply fill out the form below, then leave a comment stating that you did so.

Extra entries (extra comment for each one):

1. Follow @cherylsnell on Twitter - leave twitter handle in your comment

2. Follow me on GFC - one entry if new follower, two entries/comments if an old follower (prior to this post) - leave your GFC name

3.  Ask a question of the author! She'll be available for you today and I will forward any questions added throughout the week to her as well - 3 entries (no need for add'l comments; I will add these extra entries in myself)

I forgot to ask the publisher if they would ship to Canada, so I'm leaving this open for both US and Canada, and if they are unable to ship to Canada, I'll have them ship to me and I will ship it up to you if you win!!

End Date:  Tuesday, June 29, 2010

UPDATE:  My apologies, as I thought I had scheduled this to automatically post at 11:00 AM today - apparently, I did something wrong!

BUT, that means that I can add this first conversation from the teaser post:

Blogger Bookventures said...
Hi Julie, This book sounds great. Congrats on your first book tour: ) I am not going to be home around 11 but i hope to pass by later this evening to participate. What time does the chat end? Here's my question though, how did the character deal with the culture shock in America. Was she able to integrated her culture with American culture or was she separated? Good luck with the giveaway.
June 22, 2010 9:17 AM
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Blogger Cheryl Snell said...
Hello, Julie! Thanks for hosting me today, and for reading Shiva's Arms. Bookventures has already raised an interesting question about culture shock. My characters handle in different ways: Amma,the matriarch, creates a Little India when she visits her son Ram's home in the US. Ram resists the pull of Hindu tradition by marrying Alice, an American who tries to absorb Indian culture. Ram allows himself to become 'Americanized' but elements from his upbringing persist. So, there you have the novel's conflict and one of its themes in a nutshell.
June 22, 2010 11:17 AM




CymLowell

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher for review.  I was compensated in no other fashion and was not required to write a positive review.

45 comments:

  1. A comment from the teaser post:

    Jennifer has left a new comment on your post "Coming Today!":

    Cheryl, Does Ram marry Alice to escape Indian culture? Somehow I don't think that to be true. If that was true, he may not have been attracted to an American who took so much interest in his culture. Just some thoughts! Have a great blog tour! Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice review...interesting book. Sounds like heaevey subject matter for a summer read, but you never know...it's great to try out new finds. Best of luck on the blog tour...and happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Jennifer,

    Nice to see you here.
    Ram fell in love with Alice, and it was that relationship, since it was a taboo in his family,that made him brave enough him to examine more closely what other choices he might make in his life. It was the first step in his long pulling away from elements in his culture that really did not suit him. alice was not interested in Indian culture until she became involved with Ram. I paint her as a unformed young girl, wishing to be consumed with something in her desire to belong.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello GMR,

    It's literary fiction, so it can be read on several levels: the domestic push-pull of Alice and Amma, with Ram in the middle; a study of cultural identity and its transformative power on the momentous act of immigration: a portrait of how one poly-cultural family uses religion to care for one another in a chaotic world. The poetic language and imagery might be soothing enough for the beach, though.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the reivew of this book and filled out the form for the give away.

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  6. I enjoyed how real and flawed the characters were in this book, and the lovely touches of humor in their interactions. No beaches and no summer here at the moment, but I would happily have read it at the beach. Lovely poetic language to flow with the tide. And that feeling of possibility in newness, renewed in the conclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good luck on the giveaway, Ashley!

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  8. Hello, Sheila!

    I'm glad that the shape of the story resonated with you. The Hindu belief system of the endless cycle of birth and re-birth dovetailed nicely with how the characters transform.
    I'm glad you appreciate the language as well.Allusion and metaphor are trickier devices in long fiction than they are in poetry,where that's expected; and writers tend to write what they like to read! Language was one of the first things my publisher liked in the manuscript. She said it was that, and a killer first sentence, that made her want to read on.

    ReplyDelete
  9. sounds like a great book...thanks for the chance to read it...

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. From the Google docs form, karenk asks:

    "Just wondering what you are working on at the present time" :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi karenk,

    I'm completing a volume of stories now. The characters are quirky and modern. My husband calls it my 'bad girl' fiction. I also have another novel, which follows Nela out of Shiva's Arms into a new situation. And I was making some little videos with my poems and my sister's art, but my Windows movie Maker just conked out. Right when I was getting the hang of it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Cheryl, thanks for answering my question. That's a pretty interesting conflict & theme in the novel. Does this conflict every get resolved? On the one hand you have Alice (who in trying to please Ram's mother and also to fit in) try to adsorb Hindu culture while Ram is trying to become more Americanized. Does the couple create a hybrid of the two cultures or does it continue to threaten their marriage and their relationship with the family? Maybe this is asking to much of the story but it would be interesting to find out.

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  13. They retreat to their separate corners for awhile--Alice into depression, Ram into his research career, and Amma, the namesake of the god whose 'every footfall can be felt across continents' into her cultural righteousness. It's only when Amma loses everything, including her health, that Alice can reach out, not as the perpetual 'unsuitable bride', but as one person doing what's best for another. She helps Amma recover, and in the process heals herself and the family unit.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cheryl: I read that you have had cover art designed by your sister, although I couldn't find whether or not she had designed the cover art for Shiva's Arms. If she did, let her know that she did a wonderful job. I stared at the cover sitting on my table calling to me every time I passed it!

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  15. The cover was designed by The Writers Lair Books CEO and publisher, Shana Johnson. It is lovely, isn't it, the way it resembles a painting and shows the tension between the two women through their placement on the cover?
    Another way to interpret the writers' maxim we all live by: Show, Don't Tell.

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  16. Sounds like a great read~Thanks for the chance to win!

    {I filled out the form}

    deb55106 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for stopping my book blog and leaving me a note! I agree...a book is usually (almost always) better than the movie.

    Charlie
    Bitsy Bling's Book Review
    http://bitsybling.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I found your review from the Book Review Party Wednesday and this sounds like one I would really enjoy. I love multi-cultural fiction and I am currently reading a book that is about a family from India. Thanks for the review!

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  19. I also filled out the form for a chance to win.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Cheryl. Thanks for replying to my comment. I've always loved playing with language. Now to find that killer first sentence:)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Cheryl,

    Thanks for answering my question...your work in progress sounds great!!! Hope that your windows movie maker is up and running again :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  22. I enjoyed your book review. I would like to read this book. Thank you for the chance to win it. I filled out the form.
    blondie_31971(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I follow via GFC (Carole Spring) entry #1
    blondie_31971(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  24. I follow via GFC (Carole Spring) entry #2
    blondie_31971(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for the giveaway! I was born in Sri Lanka but am now very Westernized, so I know about such culture clashes. :) I'd love to read the book.

    I have a question for Cheryl : What's your favorite Indian dish?

    Marian
    mdperera at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Marian!
    Thanks for leaving your comment on my blog. I appreciate that.

    My favorite dish? well, in the spirit of "life is uncertain--eat dessert first"--I've never met a gulab jamun I could pass up!

    Hello there, Sheila and karenk! good to see you.

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  27. I am originally from India so I'm drawn to books about and set in India. I have filled out the form. Please enter me in giveaway.

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  28. Thanks for the contest. I filled out the form.
    peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm a GFC follower (MelanieL).
    peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  30. following @cherylsnell on twitter
    bettycd

    ReplyDelete
  31. +1 for already following you on GFC
    (just caught the bonus for already being a follower - yea)

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  32. Hi Cheryl
    Is it common for Indian mil's to finally accept the American dil? I'm suspecting that many would never get over the 'disgrace' of the marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi, bettycd,

    I think tension between a MIL and DIL is common everywhere. In my book, an unexpected event tips over the balance of power between the two women and changes the relationship. Many mothers of sons who break a cultural taboo by marrying an 'unsuitable bride' are ostracized, though, the way Amma shuns her daughter for similar reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I filled out the form. Thank you for the giveaway!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

    ReplyDelete
  35. I filled out the form

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  36. I follow Cheryl on Twitter: ReadAtTheBeach

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'm a new follower: Vicki

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  38. My question for Cheryl:
    Is the book loosely written about events in your life or someone you know?

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Vicki,

    I married a Hindu Brahmin, but my characters are fictional. That said, I gave Alice my long hair and quirky fashion sense, and I gave Ram my husband's job. Amma was a composite of real and imagined attitudes, not an actual person I know in real life.

    ReplyDelete
  40. My question for Cheryl:
    Is the book loosely written about events in your life or someone you know?

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  41. I follow Cheryl on Twitter: ReadAtTheBeach

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  42. I filled out the form

    readingatthebeach(@)gmail(.)com

    ReplyDelete

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