Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Immigrant Wife Book Review and Giveaway

As a girl on the brink of womanhood in 1960s India, Shanti Bamzai has big dreams. Rather than enter into an arranged marriage like her sister, Shanti embarks on a journey into the unknown, leaving her family home behind for an education and a chance to chart her own destiny. While India experiences an upheaval of cultural and societal changes as old-world traditions collide with the modern global era, Shanti navigates college, a marriage of her own choosing, and motherhood, fighting a constant battle between the pressures of traditional expectations and her own burning desire to be an artist and an independent woman. A move to America presents exciting new opportunities, but Shanti is disappointed to find herself still hemmed in by the restrictions of her Indian upbringing. As her children become adults and her marriage becomes a shell of what it once was, Shanti must find the courage to step out of her husband’s shadow and into the life she’s always dreamed of.

My thoughts:

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book, but Dr. Wangu hooked me on page two with this description: "...her morning was spoiled like a plate of steaming white rice upon which a housefly sat." I knew at that point that I was going to enjoy this book!

All Shanti wants to do is go to college to study art, but her very traditional father has found her a husband and is adamant that she marries. She manages to get permission to go to college, at the expense of her relationship with her father. In college she falls in love and gets married, and even though she is completely against becoming a "typical" Indian wife, she quite rapidly found her footing as a wife and mother.

However, in the process of growing her family and moving to America, Shanti has lost her time and energy to paint. As her children grow and her marriage begins to disintegrate Shanti has to decide whether she's going to live for herself or continue to live for her husband and family.

This book is an amazing read. It follows Shanti's life from childhood until her children are grown, and has a tremendous amount of Indian culture woven through the story. I learned so much about religion, culture and daily way of life. I adored this book and and wish I could've read more! Dr. Wangu wrote an exceptional first novel!

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"Beautiful and lush, The Immigrant Wife takes the reader on one woman's touching, turmeric-drenched journey from naive but determined art student in India to longing-filled American wife and mother. The author Madhu B. Wangu has written a maharaja’s banquet for the senses." - (RITA Award Winning Author) Gwyn Cready

"A winner. The Immigrant Wife: A Spiritual Journey is beautifully written. The story weaves many small strands into an intriguing tapestry, much like the paintings of our heroine, Shanti. It paints two pictures one of the beautiful valley of Kashmir and the beautiful hills of Western Pennsylvania. Shanti’s quiet determination to stay true to herself, her art, and her family is inspirational. I loved it! - Professor Laurence Glasco (University of Pittsburgh)

"In her debut novel, Madhu Bazaz Wangu, conjures a mysterious time and place. The protagonist, Shanti, begins her life as an idealistic but naive girl from the valley of Kashmir. As the story unfolds in America, she learns to heed her desires and shape her life, no longer rolling along like a stone turned in the tide. Wangu creates rich, dynamic images of India, comparable to her watercolors, evoking every sense. The indigenous sights, sounds, and smells are so vivid that I swear I could find my way to Shanti’s home. Wangu's style is gentle and quiet like the protagonist, and deeply powerful. This tale of love and nurturing, loss and growth, and transformation will stay with readers long after they finish the novel."  - Kathleen Shoop (IPPY Award Winner of The Last Letter)

Read an excerpt HERE

About the author
An author, artist and the founder of the Mindful Writers Group, Madhu Bazaz Wangu was a professor of arts and religions of India before becoming a full time writer. She has a doctorate in the Phenomenology of Religions from the University of Pittsburgh and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Harvard University. For twenty-five years, she taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham College in Pennsylvania, Wellesley and Wheaton Colleges in Massachusetts, and Rhode Island College.

In 1997, Dr. Wangu voyaged around the world with students & faculty from various American Universities for the Semester At Sea. In 2010, she founded the Mindful Writers Group. She encourages writers of all levels and genres to delve deeper in their work by body-mind-heart meditations. Her CD, Meditations for Mindful Writers was released in 2011. She guides writers in meditation and writing marathons. Each year in September, the Mindful Writers Group organizes a weekend of Meditation and Writing.

Madhu B. Wangu has published numerous essays and four books on Hindu & Buddhist art and religions. She has also held five one-person art exhibitions in India and US.  Her debut fiction, Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Karmic Collisions and Compassion was published in April, 2015. And her debut novel, An Immigrant Wife has just been released. Currently she is writing her second novel, The Last Suttee.

She lives in Wexford, Pennsylvania, USA with her husband Manoj. They have two daughters — an avionics engineer and a pediatrician — and are blessed with two grandchildren.

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own. 
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Laguna Sights Book Review and Giveaway

New Release....
Once you're a star, can you trust other people’s intentions?

Scott Cassidy has lived a blessed life. Growing up in Laguna Beach with a loving family, he was discovered in high school when he appeared on the popular reality TV show, Laguna Nights. Now cast as a doctor on the number one soap opera, his star keeps rising. Finally free from his long-term girlfriend, Scott isn’t looking for love, but when a popular dating app matches him with Jamie Kane, he can’t deny the sparks. But is she really everything she seems?

Jamie Kane isn’t lucky in love or life. Her childhood was tumultuous with a single mom who moved to Hollywood for fame but ended up waiting tables in Malibu. Certainly not one of the spoiled kids she went to high school and college with, Jamie has worked hard to achieve her dreams of being an actress, even as she begins to realize it’s not her calling. Jamie believes Scott may be the answer to everything unless a past mistake makes him doubt their future together.

Is the price of fame the chance at true love?

***Laguna Sights can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone read. And if you enjoy Laura and Paul's story, please consider reading the rest of the Laguna Beach series.

My thoughts:

Laguna Sights continues the Laguna Beach series, which follows a group of prior teen reality stars in adulthood. My biggest problem with the series is that because of the first book in the series I wound up disliking so many of the other characters. So each of the later books is an uphill battle for me to enjoy the story.

That being said, I really enjoyed reading about Scott and Jamie. Scott is a former reality tv star who is working on a hot soap opera and running a travel agency. Jamie is a struggling actress who has had a lifetime of heartache.

When they're matched up on Tinder Jamie suddenly becomes Scott's mystery woman, even though they only had one date. Scott is worried that women are only after him for his fame, and Jamie is dealing with a bad past.

Can they make a relationship work? Or will fame destroy their budding relationship before it has a chance to grow?

This book can be read as a standalone novel, but I definitely recommend reading the previous books in the series!

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Also available
Laguna Nights (Laguna Beach Book 1)
Madison Alcott was back in her hometown, caring for her sick mom and working long hours at the best resort in Laguna Beach. She never imagined she'd return to the place where she became famous on the hit reality TV show Laguna Nights, and the place where she was humiliated on national television. Fortunately, the past had stayed tucked away until her old high school boyfriend appeared in the lobby.

Josh Welsh was a superstar by age eighteen, the bad boy break-out star of Laguna Nights. Since then, his star had lost its shine and he barely was holding onto his Hollywood status. When he was asked to host a new reality travel show, he jumped at the chance. The only problem was the first episode was shooting in Laguna Beach. Of all the reasons Josh didn't want to return home, he hadn't even imagined the worst scenario: running into Madison "Holly" Alcott.

Josh's connection to Madison was still as strong as her anger at his betrayal. When the new reality series forces them together, they must face Laguna Nights past and present, and navigate a journey where nothing is as it seems.
Book available to buy from....    ;Barnes and Noble   iBooks   Kobo

Laguna Heights (Laguna Beach Book 2)
Annie and Hank have created a perfect life in Laguna Beach but when a dark secret is revealed, will their marriage survive?

In high school, Annie Johns was the calm, supportive sidekick to the rest of the tumultuous female stars of the hit reality TV show, Laguna Nights. Today, she's living the happy life as a mom that she predicted on the show long ago. There's only one problem: the secret from her past that haunts her most nights, a secret that if revealed could ruin everything she shares with her husband, Hank, the man who saved her from the heartache.

***Laguna Heights can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novella. And if you enjoy Annie and Hank's story, please consider reading the rest of the Laguna Beach series.
Book available to buy from....

Laguna Lights (Laguna Beach Book 3)
Welcome back to Laguna Beach...

Laura Kinkaid’s glamorous Hollywood life is falling apart. After years of reality television stardom beginning in high school on Laguna Nights, her career and relationship with her long-term boyfriend Scott are fizzling out.

Laura decides to go home to Laguna Beach for the weekend to attend a baby shower for her high school friend. That decision – and a car accident – will lead her to a new future, if she’s ready to take a chance at love. 

Paul Dorn’s former life in New York City is far behind him and he’s working in a popular Laguna Beach surf shop when fate brings the most beautiful woman he’s ever met into his life. The attraction is instant and he has an overwhelming desire to protect her. While Paul’s retail sales career is a short-term job for market research purposes, his focus on Laura is long-term.

Will Laura allow a handsome stranger to help her create a future unlike her past, or will the bright lights of Hollywood pull her back to LA?

***Laguna Lights can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone read. And if you enjoy Laura and Paul's story, please consider reading the rest of the Laguna Beach series.

Book available to buy from....

About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary women's fiction and sexy modern romance novels that sparkle with humor and heart. Her women's fiction titles include HERE, HOME, HOPE, ALL THE DIFFERENCE and IN THE MIRROR. Her bestselling short story is titled, A MOTHER'S DAY. Kaira's work has won the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader's Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer's Digest International Book Awards. Her books have been widely reviewed and featured in leading magazines.

Her sexy contemporary romance series set on INDIGO ISLAND includes: WEEKEND WITH THE TYCOON, Book 1; HER FORBIDDEN LOVE, Book 2; THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS, Book 3; and THE BILLIONAIRE'S BID, Book 4. Each of these novellas can be read as a stand alone, or enjoyed as a series. Her new series is set in LAGUNA BEACH and includes: LAGUNA NIGHTS, Book 1; LAGUNA HEIGHTS, Book 2; and LAGUNA LIGHTS, Book 3 coming winter 2015. She also helped launch Melissa Foster's The Remington's Kindle World with her bestselling novella, SPOTLIGHT ON LOVE, and is part of Carly Phillips Dare to Love Kindle World with THE CELEBRITY DARE.

Her nonfiction titles, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and REAL YOU FOR AUTHORS: 8 Essentials for Women Writers (available for free download on her website) continue to inspire.

She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books and on her website,
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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.
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