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I Can See Clearly Now

I hesitated when asked to review Unfinished .  It wasn't the book description.  After all, who wouldn't be intrigued by this:

This is a true story of a woman who experienced such a profound awakening that she could no longer live the same way, the same life she was just one week before. She could no longer ignore the woman who was screaming to be set free from the ties that bind her to a life she no longer desired or recognized. The transformation to become the woman she really wanted to be has propelled her upon the most remarkable self-discovery journey of her life. She sold her home, gave up her career, kissed her children, grandchildren and friend’s good bye, got into her vehicle and just drove away…ALONE. Where was she going? 30,000km later she finds herself in the most unlikely place to try to piece her life together, trying to make sense of the constant feeling of being UNFINISHED.

Even Suzanne's bio sounded intriguing: 

Suzanne Gravelle is 49 Years old and has 3 children, 2 grandchildren who live in Nova Scotia.  At the time this book goes to print she is single and homeless by choice, still travelling, seeking that place of comfort she will eventually call home.

She spent most of her life living in Nova Scotia but her formidable years aged 10-25, were spent living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She resigned as a Real Estate Agent in Nova Scotia, to embark upon this most incredible journey, driving, exploring Canada and writing this book. To read Suzanne’s extended bio, visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/2011/11/10/suzanne-gravelle-bio/

The Universe, however, has a way of bringing things into our lives just when they are needed.  So it was with this book.  As I started to read, I could hear Suzanne's voice, as though she were sitting across the kitchen table from me.  Her writing flows so naturally you know that she speaks and writes in the same voice.  This is a rare thing.  Many authors strive for a conversational tone, Suzanne just comes by it naturally.  She simply tells you her story, holding nothing back. Her emotions flow freely throughout the pages, whether that emotion is relief, pain, wonder or confusion--or a myriad of others that make their appearance.

As I read, I felt something inside changing, a spiritual uplifting that took away the cloud of confusion that had settled in over the past year.  I began to see clearly where I must travel next n m road.  No, I won't be hopping in a car and leaving everything behind, that is Ms. Gravelle's journey, not mine. Suzanne's story, however, was a catalyst that allowed my own mind and heart to open up and receive directions from within my own soul.  Will this be the experience of every reader?  I can't promise that.

What I can promise is that this book will be one readers will want to keep handy and re-read again and again.  Much like the beloved stories we heard on our grandparent's knees, it will become a favorite source of comfort.  This is an absolute must-read for anyone who has reached a stage in life where they have realized that so much of their lives have been lived for others that they now don't have a clue about how to start living for themselves.

I won't give Unfinished a Rainbow Rating.  It impossible for me to put a value on a book that has literally changed my life.  My suggestion, however, is to seek out more information about this book and review how others have seen it.

For more information about Unfinished by Suzanne Gravelle, visit http://www.amazon.com/Unfinished-Suzanne-Gravelledp/192700506X and you can follow her journey on her blog – http://ontourwithsuzanne.blogspot.com.   

The Full Moon Bride by Shobhan Bantwal -- A Review

Shobhan Bantwal has graced the literary community with yet another work that shows the art of writing is still alive and well.  The Full Moon Bride has readers delving into two very different worlds--that of modern day America and old time India tradition.  I have yet to find an author who can blend two worlds so successfully.

A successful lawyer, Surya hears the clock ticking as she slides past thirty.  While her career is a success, her personal life leaves much to be desired.  Maybe her answer to love lie in the old traditions of India. Giving in to her parents' wishes that she participate in the traditional bride viewings, Surya fights within her soul, questioning all she knows from an American way of life and comparing it to the tried and true traditions of her parents.  Which way is "best"-- or can the only true answer come from within Surya herself?

Shobhan Bantwal takes the art of ethnic writing and applies it in a way that appeals to any woman who has ever felt the pull addition and the modern world.  Her characters come alive within the book and you feel as though you are helping your best friend through a crisis, or you must make the decisions.  It takes a true artist to be able to maintain an ethnic view and still reach the world as a whole.  Having read her previous books, I can say a fine writer has been consistently evolving and has become phenomenal. 

After reading The Full Moon Bride  you will want to go back and read Ms. Bantwal's previous books.  Her writing speaks to the softer side of women everywhere, from every culture.  You will immediately understand where her characters are in life and how they feel, not because the author tells you, but because you have been there.  The details may differ, but the basics are universal.

You can read an excerpt of The Full Moon Bride, as well as excerpts from her past works, at Shobhan's website .  I suggest you put aside a couple of hours when visiting, as you will find yourself unwilling to stop reading once you start. 

The Full Moon Bride earns six colors on the Rainbow Scale.
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Talking With Shobhan Bantwal

I have had the great pleasure of interviewing many authors over the years.  One of my favorites has been Shobhan Bantwal because of her openness and willingness to allow readers to see who is behind the books.  Today's interview is no exception,  Once you have enjoyed the interview, please leave a note for Shobhan (and a FB like or Tweet would also be appreciated!).  Thank you!


You are such a prolific writer.  Can you pass on any hints you use to keep yourself productive and writing consistently?

Actually I am not as prolific as I would like to be, mainly because I have a demanding full-time job that does not allow me the luxury of time to devote to my writing projects. But my best source of inspiration to boost my productivity and creativity is reading books by other authors. I love reading and try to fit in at least a half hour of reading just before I go to bed each night. It is a great way to wind down and relax, also a way to energize the muses and overcome writer's block.

As for writing consistently, I have to discipline myself constantly because I tend to go in spurts, and to succeed and meet a writer's deadlines, one has to establish a schedule. My writing is almost always done very early in the mornings.

Your books all have deep emotion throughout.  Do you find yourself emotionally drained after a particularly fruitful writing session or have you found a way to somehow convey the emotion and still distance yourself from its effects?

When I write an emotional scene I am completely immersed in it, heart and soul. It can be a lot of fun, but quite draining at times. Nevertheless that also tells me it is a good scene if it can move me, the writer, to that extent. A sex scene is not worth much if I don't feel at least a little aroused or a heartbreaking scene has not been effectively captured if I don't shed a few tears. Women's fiction by its very nature is very emotional and the writer needs to be completely engaged in the drama of it.

The subjects you have covered are ones that could be controversial in certain places.  Have you ever found yourself debating whether or not you should write about these subjects?  How do you decide if a subject is best left alone or is worth the flack you may receive?

Some of my topics have been subjected to controversy and negative scrutiny, especially dowry abuse and female-fetus abortion in India, the subjects of my first two books. Not everybody feels it is wrong to demand a dowry from the bride's family. A lot of otherwise morally upright people have secretly turned to abortion to avoid having a female child. Such folks feel that I am turning a simple social practice into a huge moral debate by bringing awareness to it. There are others who feel a writer should not expose the darker side of one's culture. Consequently I have to do a lot of deliberation and soul-searching before I embark on writing a story with a controversial or incendiary theme.

What prompted you to write Full Moon Bride?

After having lived in the U.S. for over 37 years and raised a daughter who was born here and is now married and has a family of her own, I have witnessed a lot of cultural and social conflict that the second-generation Indian-Americans and other Asian-Americans grapple with. Trying to fit into two vastly diverse cultures can be a tough challenge for young people. The Full Moon Bride is a result of my observations and what could happen when a young woman can't quite decide if it is passion or pragmatism that makes a marriage, and which path she should choose to realize her own dreams and those of her family.

Of the books you have written, can you pick one as your favorite (the one you would suggest reader’s who are unfamiliar with you start with)?  Why this particular choice?

I don't really have a favorite book, because I put my heart into every one of them. But my last book, The Unexpected Son, has elements that I can personally relate to the most. The college campus life that my heroine experiences in the 1970s in small-town India and the way her youthful indiscretions come to haunt her 30 years later, when she is forced to make a life-altering decision, make for a very emotional and intriguing story. I could picture a lot of what she was going through more vividly because my experiences, to some degree, as far as family life and the conservatism of it are concerned, are similar to my heroine's.

Are you currently working on anything you’d be willing to share information on?

My publisher prefers that I not discuss future projects, but I will say the next book is also about a young Indian-American professional, who in her quest for love and passion and family, ends up falling in love with the most unlikely man. Needless to say the journey to happiness has a few interesting bumps.

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

I would like to encourage readers who have never read any ethnic fiction to open their minds and read my books. Many previous skeptics have come to love my books and have become long-time supporters, some of them being men. I try to make my books both entertaining and educational. If nothing else, readers will learn something about Indian culture and be the richer for it.

Readers can find my books, events, contests, photos, recipes, and contact information on my website: www.shobhanbantwal.com/ or visit my facebook page: www.facebook.com/ShobhanBantwal.author

Thank you for the wonderful interview, Shobhan! Everyone, please come back tomorrow to see what I think of Full Moon Bride.

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