Trail of Broken Wings, by Sejal Badani #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Trail of Broken Wings Trail of Broken Wings

  • Paperback: 378 Pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 1, 2015)

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

Buy, read, and discuss Trail of Broken Wings

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million  | Goodreads

About the author, Sejal Badani Sejal Badani

Sejal Badani is a former attorney. She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their two dogs.

My Thoughts:

Everyone knows that old saying about how there are three sides to every story, yours, mine, and the truth, and never has that been more true than in Sejal Badani’s new novel Trail of Broken Wings, where each of the four women in the story (mother, Ranee, and her three daughters, Marin, Trisha, and Sonya) has her own story and her own truth, but so do the men in their lives, although those truths are more quietly spoken.

With four main characters, you might think the narrative would be a little bit confusing, but Badani makes all the characters – not just Ranee and her daughters – distinct and dimensional, just each of their stories is distinct. I especially liked the subtle ways in which Badani used language – Ranees is more stylized, highlighting her status as someone who immigrated as an adult, while the daughters are all much more American in their speech patterns.

The mostly male supporting characters – Gia (Marin’s teenaged daughter) Raj (Marin’s husband by an arranged marriage), Eric (Trisha’s husband), and David (the handsome doctor destined to be Sonya’s love interest) are all fully realized – something a lot of women don’t always do well, just as a lot of mean never fully realize their female supporting characters.  Of all of them, Raj was the least open to us, as readers, and I have to confess, I’d have liked more of him.

Then there’s Brent, Ranee’s husband, and father of her girls. Also an immigrant (he and Ranee married and started their family back in India), he spends most of the novel in a coma, but his presence is strongly felt throughout the novel, even so, and, as his actions dictate almost everyone else’s choices, without ever speaking a line, he becomes one of the most influential characters in the book.

I liked the structure of this novel – alternating chapters, headed with the POV character’s name, and I liked the way the past both formed the present, and became a release, as well. It was a satisfying read, and ended with a note of hope, if not a perfect pat ending, and I like that better than pretty bows, anyway.

The use of Indian culture as both a grounding mechanism and as  counterpoint to modern American life worked really well, and the constant descriptions of food made my mouth water, and might seem out of place, unless you believe, as I do, that food is a source of both culture and comfort.

While this book does deal with very dark subjects (child abuse, domestic violence, rape), it does so in a sensitive manner based in truth, and never sensationalized.

If you’re up for a good family drama that straddles the line between contemporary and literary fiction, you will not be disappointed by Trail of Broken Wings.

Goes well with: chai tea, garlic naan, and whatever other Indian food suits your fancy.

Sejal Badani’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 4th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 5th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Wednesday, May 6th: Lit and Life

Thursday, May 7th: She Treads Softly

Monday, May 11th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, May 12th: Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 13th: BookNAround

Thursday, May 14th: Bell, Book & Candle

Monday, May 18th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Tuesday, May 19th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, May 20th: Unshelfish

Tuesday, May 26th: Life is Story

Wednesday, May 27th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 28th: A Reader’s Oasis

Wednesday, June 3rd: Bibliotica

Thursday, June 4th: Broken Teepee

TBD: Ageless Pages Reviews


Review: At the River’s Edge by Mariah Stewart

About the book, At the River’s Edge

At the River's Edge

After taking stock of her life, Sophie Enright has decided it’s time for a break. Between a law career that’s become criminally dull and a two-timing boyfriend she’s done with once and for all, Sophie desperately needs some time to think and some space to breathe. The perfect place to do both is easygoing St. Dennis, Maryland, where Sophie can visit with her brother while she figures out her options. Once in St. Dennis, she discovers a shuttered restaurant and makes a bold move that is also a leap of faith. Sophie buys the fixer-upper in order to finally pursue her dream career.

But Sophie’s labor of love becomes a bone of contention for her new neighbor Jason Bowers. The local landscaper has big plans for growing his business—until Sophie scoops up the property he’s got his eye on. And no amount of buyout offers or badgering from him will get her to budge. It’s hardly the start of a beautiful friendship. But when they’re paired up to work on a community project, they agree to put their differences aside, and sparks begin to fly. Then Sophie’s cheating ex suddenly shows up, looking for a second chance—and threatening to make Jason a third wheel just when his hotheaded feelings about Sophie were turning decidedly warmhearted. All Sophie wants is a new life and a true love. But what are the odds of having both?

Buy a copy:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the author, Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and their dogs amid the rolling hills and Amish farms of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she gardens, reads, and enjoys country life.

My Thoughts

I was first introduced to Mariah Stewart’s series of novels The Chesapeake Diaries, when I received a box containing the first six books in the series late last year. It was cold and wet, and they were great books for that kind of weather, because they fall into a favorite category of mine: small town, beach novels.

At the River’s Edge is the most recent addition to the series, and like it’s predecessors, it takes place in the same continuity, the same version of life on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, in a small town with cute shops and colorful characters. Having lived in not one, but two, such towns (though not on the Chesapeake), I can assure you that Stewart’s depiction of those two elements, and of small town life in general, is dead-on.

This particular novel was a bit weird for me, only because the man who dumps protagonist Sophie in the beginning (well, actually she dumps him after catching him cheating on her) shares my husband’s first name. Once I got beyond that, and into the meat of the story, I was happily entranced by Sophie’s desire to restore a diner. In fact, in many ways this book could have been about me, because I grew up visiting a family diner owned by my cousins, and when it closed, I would happily have bought it, if I’d had the cash.

I was equally enamored with landscaper and love-interest Jason, and I liked the way their relationship began as one of antagonism before passion turned on both characters and things got warm and cozy between them. Was this a bit predictable? Yes. Does that mean the story isn’t enjoyable? No.

Some people might consider Stewart’s books, and others like them, to be fluff. I disagree. I think that at a time when our science fiction and fantasy are dominated by zombies and post-apocalyptic futures, it’s nice to have books that aren’t afraid of sweetness or sentimentality. Stewart writes fantastic characters in ‘normal’ lives, and she does it in a well that makes her books not merely compelling, but downright addictive. Not to mention, the vast majority of the women in her novels are smart, savvy, and own their own businesses. How empowering!

Goes well with hot pastrami on rye with a side of cole slaw and a vanilla cream soda.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a virtual book tour. For more information, click here.

Review: Fiesta of Smoke by Suzan Still

About the book, Fiesta of Smoke

Fiesta of Smoke

Against a backdrop of rebellion and intrigue, love between Javier Carteña, commander of insurgent Mexican forces, and Calypso Searcy, an American novelist at the pinnacle of her career, sizzles with passion across a broad sweep of history. Encompassing time from the Conquest of the 1500s to the present, the story races across space as well, from the forests of Chiapas to the city of Paris. There, an international investigative reporter named Hill picks up the swiftly vanishing trail of Calypso’s disappearance, and unwittingly becomes involved in one of the great dramas of the twentieth century and one of the great love stories of any age.

Buy a copy from Amazon.

My Thoughts:

It seems appropriate that I’m posting this review on November 1st – Dia de los Muertos is in full swing in La Paz, BCS, Mexico, where my parents live – and I’m still bearing traces of Halloween glitter as I write this morning. Not that Fiesta of Smoke is a Halloween story – it’s not. What it is is a genre-bending epic that takes us to Mexico in the present, recent past, and ancient past, Paris, and points between. It’s part adventure, part fiery romance, part historical, part political…but in this case the actual novel is much, much, more than the sum of those parts.

In fact all those different aspects provide the setting and history we need in order to truly understand the dynamic between the lead characters, Javier, Calypso, and Hill. The first two have a relationship that reminded my of my loud Italian relatives, screaming at each other one moment, making out in the next, all with an underlying connection that is largely invisible to outside observers. (Though, in my family, gunfire was generally not on the menu.)

Then there’s Hill, who falls for Calypso the first time he sees her – which may or may not be the first time WE meet her, as she’s doing perfect developpes on the Pont Neuf. (That scene really captured my attention. I haven’t been in shape enough to be a proper dancer in decades, but I remember what it’s like to want to combine a perfect setting with a perfect movement.)

The three leads move around each other in ways that often reminded me of a Celtic knot, coming together, falling away, their patterns and adventures a great dance through history, geography and passion. Politics, too are involved, and reading this novel while listening to my mother describe the various modern political parties (I think PAN is in power right now), was a bit of a trip.

If my description is vague, it’s because it’s so hard to take a 500+ page novel that is beautifully written – and let me interrupt myself here to mention that author Suzan Still’s depictions of food are as tantalizing as her use of language – this book reads like an opera, truly – and condense it into a few paragraphs.

Read Fiesta of Smoke. If you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, read it this month – it’s the perfect November novel – it’ll keep you warm on cold nights, and fuel your imagination on dark mornings. If you ARE doing NaNo, read it anyway. Writers have to read, right? Either way, you will be swept away, as I have.

I’m supposed to be spending Christmas with my parents in Baja Sur, but suddenly my itch to go south of the border is stronger than ever.

Goes well with: chicken mole, grilled chayote, and Indio beer.

About the Author, Suzan Still

Suzan Still

Text taken from the author’s website: Suzan Still holds a masters in art and writing and a doctorate in depth psychology. A retired university art professor, she also taught creative writing in a men’s prison, where she became increasingly concerned with issues of social disenfranchisement–as the reader of Commune of Women will discover. She continues to explore this theme in her novel-in-progress, Fiesta of Smoke, which focuses on the coming revolution in Mexico, where she has traveled for over thirty years. As a writer, she favors the novel form but also has published poetry and nonfiction and is an avid journal-keeper. Also, she has led dream groups for over twenty-five years. Her fascination with dreams will be evident to the reader of Commune of Women, while, as an artist, she is delighted to introduce her artwork to the world as the cover image for the novel. Her interests include painting and collage, sculpting in marble, photography, foreign travel, gardening, cooking, antiques and all things French. Suzan lives in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains on land that her family pioneered, with her husband and an assortment of rescued fur children, who take her for her daily walk in the woods.

Connect with Suzan:

Facebook: Suzan.Still

Special thanks to the folks at TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read Fiesta of Smoke. Here’s an opportunity for you: the first person to comment on this post can get a copy of Suzan Still’s previous novel Commune of Women.

I feel compelled to add: for the average American tourist, Mexico is very safe. Yes, there are “drug wars” but those are mostly around the US/Mexico border, and mostly involved drug cartel members killing each other. Most of Mexico has fewer fatalities in a whole year than major U.S. cities do in a month. Be smart, be aware, but don’t be afraid.

TLC Book Tours

Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah

Firefly LaneFirefly Lane
by Kristin Hannah
Get it from Amazon

When you were a teenager did you ever feel like a ram of your head against the wall might be more productive than a conversation with your mother? If you are a parent, have you ever felt that way about your child? If so, this novel is for you.

Firefly Lane is a tale of the lifelong friendship between cool, breezy and somewhat broken Tully, daughter of a strung out leftover hippie, abandoned to her grandmother most of the time, and average, suburban Katie. Their friendship is formed accidentally when they become neighbors, but ends up becoming a sustaining force for both girls.

As they grow up, Tully is the one who knows what she wants and pushes everything out of her way to get it, dragging Katie along in her wake, until, finally, Katie ends up with what SHE really wants – a home and family, and loving husband.

Set against the television news industry Katie and Tully’s friendship follows a timeline from the early 1970’s, when they meet, until present day, when Katie has to face a devastating challenge and needs Tully, estranged in recent years, to help get her through.

While Firefly Lane is not, ultimately, a feel-good novel, it is a strong portrayal of women’s friendships, and the characters drawn by author Kristin Hannah are complex and believable.

Goes well with an ice cold glass of lemonade, an Adirondack chair, and a soft cotton blanket.