Category: Multicultural Marriages & Families

Book Review | “The Lost Girl” by Liz Harris #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 15 April, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Lost Girl” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

I wasn’t surprised that Ms Harris tackled another hard-hitting dramatic story-line in her new book The Lost Girl as I have previously come to find she has a way of elevating historical fiction to an emotional keel of clarity. There is a richness to her stories – she dares to capitalise on the emotional heart of her character’s journey; even within the pages of A Bargain Struck this was true, and she did it by taking a seemingly ordinary story-line and moulding it into such a convicting story of life, love and second chances.

Harris has a way to broaching History with such a refinement of shaping the past through a lens of eloquence and clarity, that you simply devour her stories. I appreciate finding an author whose not only dedicated to research but dedicated to writing the stories she’s most passionate telling to a readership whose thankful she’s writing her heart out. – originally shared on the cover reveal for this novel

Dear hearts, I have truly been itching to read this particular release by Ms Harris for well over a year! I learnt about bits of the story whilst chatting during #ChocLitSaturday and the more I would learn about the heart of this novel, the more I dearly wanted to read it! I was meant to receive this towards the close of 2016 – as the paperback release was originally flying into reader’s hands at the close of last Summer. However, it took a bit longer for this lovely novel to reach me – not that I mind! I have always felt that books reach us when we’re meant to read their stories – how are we to know which is the better time to read any particular story if we are moved by it’s chapters and it’s pearls of insights at the moment we’re tucked inside it’s pages? Reading is quite the journey – we never know which story will alight on our path or when we’re itching to read any particular story, but sometimes, we get advanced word about a story (such as this one) which simply touches our soul.

I personally love stories of immigration and adoption; these are two overlapping themes which do have the tendency of appearing through my readerly life time and time again. It’s because the two themes are quite close to my heart; my family has a strong background of ancestral emigration as much as I will be adopting out of foster care in the future. There are so many different paths to highlight both of these themes, and one thing I have credited to Ms Harris with in her previous releases for Historicals is the touching manner in which she hones in on the heart of her character’s story whilst grounding her Historical Fiction in the truism of the moment in which the story is placed to be set in History. She offers a connective threshold of emotions and timeless aspirations for finding one’s purpose and passageway through life’s ordeals. One of the reasons I love her Historicals so very much is how she interconnects the reader and her character as if the two are entwined. It’s wicked brilliant to find Historicals which feel as if you’ve left your reality and exchanged it for another person’s life if only for the expanse of the novel; but in so doing, we humbly expand our empathy, our compassion and our worldview.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Harris:

I have been hosting #ChocLitSaturday chats on a regular basis for a bit over two years now. Eleven in the morning of a Saturday, has become a favourite hour for me to exchange conversation and joy with everyone who shows up to participate in a chat centered around ChocLit novels and the Romance branch of literature in general.

Similar to my previous thoughts I shared about Ms. Courtenay, I have come to appreciate chatting with Ms. Harris, either through #ChocLitSaturdays chats or privately. She is most giving of her time and I have appreciated the opportunity to know the writer behind the stories I enjoy reading! She always shares her happy spirit in the chats too, and her insights into why she enjoys writing the books that speak to her the most.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Harris through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat as well as privately; I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. Similarly this applies to spotlighting new books by an author I appreciate such as this one.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

I’m sharing both the paperback cover & the ebook cover, as I’m still a bit partial to the ebook cover, even though I respectively understand it’s not as representative of the story as much as the print book cover encompasses. I’m hoping after I’ve read the novel, I can make my final assessment, as ahead of reading it – I still lean towards the first cover. Therefore, the cover featuring the ‘small towne’ is the one on the print release.

The Lost Girl
by Liz Harris
Source: Direct from Publisher

What if you were trapped between two cultures?

Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.

Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well. The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.

When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel like she finally belongs somewhere.

But, for a lost girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be that easy…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 9781781893012

Also by this author: A Bargain Struck, Guest Post (A Western Heart) by Liz Harris, Guest Post (The Road Back) by Liz Harris, The Road Back, Book Spotlight w/ Notes (The Lost Girl), Evie Undercover, Guest Post (The Lost Girl) by Liz Harris, The Art of Deception

Genres: Emigration & Immigration, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Modern British Literature, Realistic Fiction, Western Fiction


Published by ChocLitUK

on 22nd February, 2017

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback & Ebook

Genre(s): Historical Fiction | Western | Adoption | Chinese-American ancestry

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Liz Harris

Liz was born in London and now lives in South Oxfordshire with her husband. After graduating from university with a Law degree, she moved to California where she led a varied life, trying her hand at everything from cocktail waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company, not to mention a stint as ‘resident starlet’ at MGM. On returning to England, Liz completed a degree in English and taught for a number of years before developing her writing career.

Liz’s debut novel, The Road Back, won a Book of the Year Award from Coffee Time Romance in the USA and her second novel A Bargain Struck was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Author Connections:

 Personal Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Converse via: #TheLostGirl & #ChocLit Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Saturday, 15 April, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Adoption, American Old West, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Chinese Literature, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Immigrant Stories, Indie Author, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Old West Americana, Orphans & Guardians, Passionate Researcher, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Social Change, Stories of Adoption, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Western Fiction, World Religions

+Blog Book Tour+ Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison A twice-published after canon author of Jane Austen’s works!

Posted Monday, 18 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , 5 Comments

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Sense & Sensibility Blog Tour with Cedar Fort

Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison

Published By: Bonneville Books, ( )

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Official Author Websites: Site @RebeccaHJamison
|
Facebook | Pin(terest) Boards

Available Formats: Paperback
Page Count247

Previously she wrote: Persuasion & Emma as ‘Latter-Day Tales’ too!

Converse via: #SenseandSensibility

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read: this girl is a Janeite!

I am not sure when the exact moment occurred in my childhood, but I started to feel a kinetic bond with Jane Austen, to the brink that I knew that once I started to read her beloved works by all who already knew her, … I would become a Janeite. She simply had a convincing way of expressing life as it was lived during her own era, of the minute details of ordinary life intermingled with the reflections of a keen observant eye. My first forays into Austen’s canons was a bit of a hit/miss for me, as I began originally with “Sense & Sensibility”, although I attributed this false start due to what had been on my mind and heart at the time I had first picked it up. The gift I spoke about on my participation page for ‘Austen in August‘ is the very reason I approach this particular blog tour without the benefit of reading the canon. I wanted to reaquaint myself with the gifted books and step back through a door I had not yet fully opened.

It was not until Keira Knightley’s edition of “Pride & Prejudice” that I was able to ascertain the focus I wanted to garnish for Austen, as I nestled into a pocket edition of Pride. Forestalling my visit to the local cinema and barely making it to see the new adaptation before it left the theater completely! In my further expeditions into Classical Literature, I’ll have to talk about my passion for ‘pocket’ hardback editions, as I only briefly mention them in quirkily placed positions on my blog thus far along! Knightley’s motion picture will always hold a special place in my heart, despite what others might express on her behalf. I already ruminated previously that Colin Firth’s mini-series would be my most adored adaptation, but there is always room for adaptations that draw a measure of liberty with their scope.

*At this point in time I have not yet seen Colin Firth’s mini-series, a future viewing during Austen in August is planned

I had fully intended to read “Emma” this August, as previously disclosed but due to an increase in demand for the novel to be checked out of my local library, I had to pull it from my reading list; rather unfortunate, but in doing so, I cancelled my queue to receive “Emma: A Latter-Day Tale” as I quite literally felt I ought to wait. I’m still going to be reading “Persuasion” in step with the Jane Austen Reading Challenge, which will allow me to queue “Persuasion: A Latter-Day Tale” at that point in time. Blessedly, I have a ready copy of Persuasian on hand, and Jamison’s novels are easily acquired through ILL’ing. (inter-library loan)

You could say, in the future I shall have enough of Austen’s tomes to spread about between my personal library and the backpack I’ll take with me on my travels. The editions I’m collecting are most decidedly of the ‘bookish soul’ who appreciates not only the quality of the volumes, but the unique differences of each presentation of the text.

By joining this blog tour, I am one step closer to my goals of reading through the breadth of Jane Austen and the authors who are as transfixed on her legacy as I am myself. I am hoping participants in this year’s ‘Austen in August’ and thus forthcoming years as well, will lay their comments in the threads below and give way to a hearty conversational thread! I also plan to write a cross-comparison post at such a time as to when I can read Sense & Sensibility!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Synopsis Read Aloud for Sense & Sensibility: A Latter Day Tale by BonnevilleBooks

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

As if it wasn’t bad enough to be getting food from Church welfare, I had to meet one of the Ferreros–a good-looking Ferrero, at that.

Elly Goodwin, a brilliant programmer, is so desperate for a job that she takes one from her ex-boyfriend–the same man who put her family out of business. Then she meets Ethan Ferrero, who seems too good to be true–especially for her ex’s brother-in-law. At the same time, she must help her sister Maren recover from a severe case of depression. Elly is far too busy for love, especially not with Ethan Ferrero.

Meanwhile, Elly’s dramatic sister, Maren, has recovered enough to fall in love, and when she falls, she falls hard. Elly must intercede before Maren’s passion clouds her common sense. Together, Elly and Maren must learn that a mixture of sense and sensibility is the perfect recipe for love.

Fans of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility will love this modern retelling of the classic romance novel.

Author Biography:

Rebecca H. Jamison
Photo Credit: Rachael Nelson

Rebecca H. Jamison wrote novels just for fun until she made a New Year’s resolution in 2011 to submit a manuscript to publishers. Since then, she’s published three books, starting with Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale.

Rebecca grew up in Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, where she earned a BA and MA in English. In between college and graduate school, she served a mission to Portugal and the Cape Verde islands. Her job titles have included special education teacher’s aide, technical writer, English teacher, and stay-at-home mom.

Rebecca enjoys running, dancing, reading, and watching detective shows. She lives with her husband and children in Utah.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 18 August, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, Adoption, After the Canon, Austen in August, Autism, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Synopsis Read Aloud, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Bout of Books, California, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Charity & Philanthropy, Classical Literature, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Contemporary Romance, Dairy-Free Foods, Dating & Humour Therein, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Fly in the Ointment, Food Panties & Community Assistance, Foreclosure | Short Sale | House Auction, Gluten-Free Foods, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Inspired By Author OR Book, Jane Austen Sequel, Library Catalogues & Databases, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Maryland, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Mormonism, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Psychiatric Facilities, RALs | Thons via Blogs, Re-Told Tales, Reading Challenges, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Sense & Sensibility Re-telling, Siblings, Singletons & Commitment, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Special Needs Children, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, World Religions

+Blog Book Tour+ How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag An achingly passionate World War romantic drama of two courageous souls entwined!

Posted Sunday, 10 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag

How Much Do You Love Me? Blog Tour with Cedar Fort

Published By: Sweetwater Books ( ),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)
12 August, 2014
Official Author Websites:  Site | @Thriller_Writer | Blog | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback
Page Count: 256

Converse via: #HowMuchDoYouLoveMe

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “How Much Do You Love Me?” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I have always been inspired by stories from the World Wars, the lives in which were altered by circumstances no one could control and how the human spirit survived against harrowing odds. I studied the World Wars in school but we never studied the Internment camps in the United States which displaced the lives of the Japanese who were either living here or already bonefide citizens. It is one part of my country’s history as the author himself mentions in his Preface that does not put our best foot forward. I grew up learning about Japanese culture, with a strong empathise on their fine art and musical traditions as my maternal grandparents had a fondness for their heritage. I had the kind blessing of cultivating friends from Japan in my teen and twenties, of whom introduced new layers of their heritage to me and also gave me the blessing of knowing that some parts of the past are forgiven, as one of my dearest friends was from Hiroshima. Her light of kindness and acceptance of me as a friend has not left me even though her path and mine led apart when she married. A close friend of mine from Okinawa gave me the gift of understanding multicultural families up close and personal as she married an American Marine.

Whilst knowing of the darker hues of our history are difficult to process and read through, there are enlightening moments of true heroism and strength of the will of man to not only survive but overcome injustice. I felt compelled to read this story whilst I read the synopsis as a window back through time into one family’s journey through an experience that is inconceivable. I appreciated the extras include with this novel, as the Preface delve into why Tag was inspired to relay this story as much as the Appendixes in the back are warranted to become introduced to the characters ahead of their presence and a knowledge of the terminology threaded into the story.

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Book Synopsis:How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag

Keiko Tanaka, along with her twin sister, Misaki, and two other siblings are first generation children of parents who emigrated from Japan in the early 1900s. Born in the US, they are American citizens. Nonetheless, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan in December of 1941, politicians whip anti-Japanese rhetoric into a frenzy, claiming that anyone who looks Japanese should be suspected of being an enemy agent of the Japanese emperor, Hirohito. Although government officials (including FBI head, J. Edgar Hoover) report no evidence supporting such suspicion, public opinion turns against the Japanese. Consequently, on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signs Executive Order No. 9066, sealing the fate of 120,000 West Coast Japanese—including the Tanaka family of Bellevue, Washington—sending them to internment camps.

 Prior to the tumult of this anti-Japanese hysteria, Keiko falls in love with a Caucasian, James Armstrong. Contrary to their families’ wishes, they decide to marry before Keiko leaves for the camps and James goes to war. At Tule Lake, the Tanaka’s internment camp in northern California, Keiko’s and James’s daughter, Kazuko, is born.

Nearly sixty years later, Keiko has a stroke and lies near death, while James suffers from Alzheimer’s. Coincidentally, a chance occurrence makes Kazuko suspect that her mother has been hiding a secret from the internment. Fighting the clock before her mother’s death, she races to unearth the mystery. What she uncovers represents nothing short of the epitome of human love and self-sacrifice. But, beyond Kazuko’s realization, only the reader knows that is only half the story. 

Author Biography:

Paul Mark Tag made a career as a research scientist before switching gears to write fiction. In the late 1990s, in preparation for a career in writing, he wrote short stories only. Author/Publisher Arline Chase was his mentor. In 2001, when he made his career change permanent, he spent a year writing short stories only. These have been published in StoryBytes, Potpourri, Greens Magazine, and The Storyteller.

 In 2002, Tag began his first novel, a thriller entitled Category 5, which took advantage of his knowledge of meteorology and weather modification. Prophecy, a sequel, followed in July of 2007. White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy, is the third in the trilogy. With How Much Do You Love Me? Tag has switched genres, trying his hand at historical fiction. He lives with his wife, Becky, in Monterey, California.

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Multicultural heritage, marriage, and blended families:

What I appreciated the most about Tag’s presentation of the romance blooming between Keiko and James, is that he did not make any part of their lives cliche or expected. Keiko grew up in the Methodist faith whereas James was a Unitarian; two separate worlds of thought on faith and at the time they were living in the 1940s neither denominations understood each other as well as they do today. The fact that they were both American citizens, one of Anglo-Saxon heritage and one of Japanese is what put them at the greatest risk on the fringes of war with Japan. James was given a strong countenance for a man of his young years but determination to be with the love of his life endeared him to me on the spot. They each saw past their own differences and how those differences were viewed by others inside their own community to forge a life together that was rooted in love and faith. Keiko might be nineteen at the opening of How Much Do You Love Me? but her spirit of self-awareness and knowledge of the current events slowing turning the tides against her make her mature beyond her years.

The manner in which their love story unfolds is a slow arc towards their union, as we know in the beginning that they were able to be wed, but it is how the story revealed their path towards their wedding and the life after the war ended that proved to be the most special. Especially considering the fact they were breaking tradition, not only for the culture of Keiko’s heritage but for James to marry an Asian at that point in time was nearly not able to be done legally. I had not realised it myself, as to when multicultural marriages had been approved but I silently cheered that four states led the way forward for all relationships to become equal. (Washington was one of the four)

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
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Posted Sunday, 10 August, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Aftermath of World War II, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, California, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Christianity, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Fathers and Daughters, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Life Shift, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Pearl Harbour (WWII), Romance Fiction, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Story knitted out of Ancestral Data, Sweet Romance, Taboo Relationships & Romance, The World Wars, Twin Siblings, US Internment Camps (WWII), War-time Romance, Washington

+Blog Book Tour+ Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter #LitFic, #diverselit

Posted Thursday, 10 July, 2014 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter

Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter

Published By: One World Publications (), 15 July, 2014
Official Author Websites: Site |
Available Formats: Paperback & Ebook
Page Count: 224

Converse on Twitter via: #LosingTouch OR #OneWorldPublications

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Losing Touch” virtual book tour through TLC  Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher One World Publications, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I have always had a keen eye on Bollywood films, especially those which feature Aishwarya Rai, as I came to know of her works through the release of “Mistress of Spices“. I love the full-on lively atmosphere of combining dream sequences, musical numbers, and the heart of a story told in motion pictures such as the ones I find from Bollywood releases! I try to find new ones to watch as I become aware of them, which is why I have thus far seen: “Bride & Prejudice” and “Do Dooni Chaar“. All of which I happily checked out of my local library, as they are quite inspiring on the dexterity of always keeping our card catalogue full of foreign language releases both in literature and motion picture. I’d love to explore more Bollywood & Indian film releases in both Hindi and English, as whilst I was watching Do Dooni Chaar, I noted that after awhile I did not even realise I was ‘reading the subtitles’! I love when that happens! (previously, I felt this way as I watched “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” & “Life is Beautiful” as I watched them on the silver screen at time of release) My focus on India as both as a country and as a cultural heritage stems from my appreciation of their enriched cultural heritage (from art to music to dance to film to religion), and of course, my absolute joy in eating their cuisine!

When you find yourself passionate about a culture and a country, you always want to surround yourself with the stories that are either set there or are about the people who come from there. For me, my heart will always be attached to India. The fact that I draw a measure of joy out of reading Buddhist texts and studying their cultural heritage is only the tip of why I love India as much as I do. I have been wanting to read more stories by Indian authors and writers who give their stories a heart of their cultural identity. When this book was offered on tour, I simply was overjoyed, not only as it was the start of being able to read Literature of India, but because I truly appreciated the premise — of one family attempting to carve out a new life in a new country whilst attempting to keep their cultural identity and heritage in tact.

My own heritage is full of stories where my ancestors immigrated to America, and how their journeys led them to the New World. I find myself attracted to other families and their own personal journeys towards discovering where they wanted to lay down roots for their next generations as much as I am encouraged to continue to root out my own ancestral past through genealogical research. Each of us has a story within our bones, which is carried through the whispers of our past relations who strove to give each of us a different path to live than they had themselves. I think we each honour our family each time we take a pause out of our day to listen and read the stories of all families who take this step to change their own stars.

Book Synopsis:

Sandra HunterAfter Indian Independence Arjun brings his family to London, but hopes of a better life rapidly dissipate. His wife Sunila spends all day longing for a nice tea service, his son suddenly hates anything Indian, and his daughter, well, that’s a whole other problem. As he struggles to enforce the values he grew up with, his family eagerly embraces the new. But when Arjun’s right leg suddenly fails him, his sense of imbalance is more than external. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he is forced to question his youthful impatience and careless cruelty to his family, until he learns, ultimately, to love them despite — or because of — their flaws. In a series of tender and touching glimpses into the shared life of a married couple, Sandra Hunter creates strikingly sympathetic characters — ones that remind us of our own shortfalls, successes, hypocrisies, and humanity.

Author Biography:

Sandra Hunter’s fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines, and has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. Among other awards, she won the 2013 Women’s Domination Story Competition, 2012 Cobalt Literary Magazine Fiction Prize and the 2011 Arthur Edelstein Short Fiction Prize. Her short story “Blessed Are the Meek” won Glimmer Train’s Spring 2005 Very Short Fiction Award, and is now a chapter in her novel Losing Touch, to be published in July 2014 (OneWorld Publications).

A note on the Cover Art:

I tend to forget to realise that as I am reading books published across the Pond with a bit more regularity than I could have done in the past (one of the blessings of being a book blogger), the book cover art I am appreciating on recently read novels are the editions from across the Pond! For instance, I had not stopped to realise the cover art designs I appreciated for The Lost Duchess were in effect the British edition covers! Likewise, as I settled into Losing Touch my mind did not readily auto-adjust to noticing this cover art is decidedly British as well! When I pulled up sites in reference to the novel, I noted an awkward difference in cover design! Whereas this one alludes to Arjun’s wife Sunila or even Jonti’s wife Nawal or even Nawal’s sister Haseena. I first felt it could be Sunila as although she has a want for British life, she still holds a few traditions of her heritage close to her heart. Yet, to be truthful she does not wear traditional Indian clothes, so this directed my eye to believe it was truly Nawal.*

(*until I read the story and realised it was Haseena!)

The cover art for the American edition makes absolute no sense to me at all – it is one of those modern graphic designs that has a repetitive pattern; I am finding myself not a plumb of passion for these selections. A few times I find graphic designed covers to be quite befit of the narrative. In this particular case, I think the novel loses a piece of its own identity by the swirls and two non-identical blotches of orange.

What appealed to me about the cover (as displayed on this book review!) which arrived to me on my copy of Losing Touch, is that it goes to the core of the story: being in transition and yet curious about ‘something’ being said ‘off camera and out of view’ of the photographer. I realise they used stock images but for whichever reason, I felt this cover connected more directly to Arjun & the Kulkanis.

On a personal note: This is why I am thankful there is Foyle’s, who will drop ship to anyone in the world who wants to purchase books from England! There are other book shoppes surely that will do the same, as I still remember the expressive joy in purchasing the Complete Histories of Middle Earth from one such book shoppe in the recent past to help me curate a way to read Tolkien’s legacy in the order of Middle Earth! This is a project noted on my tCC list for those curious to know ‘when’ I shall embrace Middle Earth. I am also reminded that when I go to read my next Jenny Barden novel, I will need to import the book from England! I can see myself spreading the joy of future purchases between Foyle’s & all the lovelies (book shoppes) I am finding on Twitter! It is quite incredible to live in an age where you can exchange bookish tweets with Indies from Ireland & England! What joy I have as a Joyful Tweeter of Bookish Joy! (a part of me will forevermore think of “Foyle’s War” as I make future purchases; now that the series is encased inside my heart)

 

Transitions: India to London:

I appreciated getting a first-hand glimpse into a family striving to find their niche in England, after having immigrated from India for a fresh start in a new country. Little notations of their cultural heritage from India are mentioned and observed throughout the text, as well as their contemporary choices to extract out a new identity amongst their new co-workers, neighbours, and friend circles. I think a part of what is difficult for anyone to shift their life from one country to the next, is to find the balance of what to keep with them as a cultural identity and what to compromise as far as what new attributes to introduce into their life as a different method or mannerism of how to live next. Each country you reside in is going to have their own particular pace and recognisable differences; this even includes how different regions within the same country have ‘regional dialects’ (of which I have blogged about previously), where the pronunciations and phrasing can alter as you travel. (this is inclusive of America as much as England)

I appreciated reading the differences in how their children were being given more freedom of choice (as far as schooling and matches of marriage) and how even in the subtle differences they were still learning to understand how to complete the transitions from India to London. Throughout the text, they always remained true to who they were, right or wrong, their individual character left a strong impression.

My review of Losing Touch:

Losing Touch sensitively opens at the funeral of Arjun’s younger brother Jonti, as Arjun recollects his brother’s life and observes how his wife and children are attempting to blend into British culture and society without wanting to keep a part of their Indian culture attached. They are shifting into a new life in a new setting and country, opting instead to shed a bit of their own cultural past to embrace the new one that they are finding. Arjun is struggling to come to terms with his family’s choices as he is a traditionalist and believes that although he wants them to embrace life in England, he apparently did not expect them to forsake their heritage to do so.

Hunter etches into her story the power of sensory knowledge and memory of how certain things are able to be smelt on the air near us, can lead our minds back down memory’s row. And, how at the moment of recovering those memories, we either feel more remorse (if already grieving through anguished sorrow) or a swath of bittersweet recollection, half filled with the regret of the days no longer here. The mind and the heart does a lot of odd things to a person who is grieving their loved one. Time and space of our everyday living can shift and transform out of us and between us at the very same moment; we are not of ourselves completely when we are attempting to rectify the loss of someone who was once fully present and now spiritually renewed into the next life.

Jonti has passed by what I can only presume is an inherited neurological disease, as he was not the first in his family to contract it, and this unknowing of the family medical history eludes to a growing concern on behalf of Arjun’s own health and wellness. I refer to this being ‘unknown’ as Hunter only slips a piece of knowledge of how Jonti passed rather than a full disclosure of what led to his sudden death in his thirties. Arjun’s own fears and concerns for his family’s adjustment to England are acting as a blinding to his own health concerns, as his collapsed falls in conjunction to his brother’s death did not lead him to think anything malicious was afoot.

Sunila’s voice comes a bit lateron as we find through her point of view the disintegrating condition of her marriage to Arjun; as there were quiet attributions of this happening in early chapters. His quickfire temper, his unease to dissolve a disagreement between his daughter Tarani and son Murad (the object of the fight was a radio), and his disbelief and avoidance of having a physical condition that could not only control his life but take it from him. He walks through the motions of his everyday life without the bliss and attention Jonti gave to his own family. This is a stress factor for Arjun, and as we read through the passages where Sunila is contemplating divorce and a life away from her husband, we start to see how the undercurrent of their marriage is tilted against a rocky shore. The author keeps the obvious obstructed from the reader’s view, revealing the evidence of domestic disturbances only in brief flickering moments where we gather a larger sense of the reality of Sunila’s marriage. In this way, the novel is a gentle read with clean references to deeper angst and a guiding hand of giving you a breathing space to digest the story.

The symbolism and metaphors within the heart of the context of Losing Touch are some of my favourites I’ve stumbled across recently. I have forgotten to mention this habit of mine in recent reviews of noticing the touches of how each writer chooses to convey certain thoughts and observations. I also appreciate the fact that this is full-on Briton, with their unique turns of phrase and cheeky short-cuts of expression. The Anglophile in me was most happy throughout the reading! I also noted having read “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” a few years back has seemingly given me a proper knowledge of the roadways in England. I nearly could envision the A40 as Arjun and Murad traversed it in order to meet up with Haseena! Although Arjun is not committing adultery with Haseena, he is eclipsed in that uneasy spot between being spiritually / mentally committed to another woman and being physically entwined. Of course, I did see a programme on television which expressed that there are different levels and conditions of adultery and one of them is being physically present in a marriage whilst being mindfully absent in spirit with another outside of it. To the level, that despite no physical contact is involved, in all other ways an affair is elicited.

The novel yields itself into two thoroughly engaging sections, where Part I engages us with the foundation of where Part II is leading us next; whilst skipping a near-full twenty years in-between. The second half is more solemn and melancholic than the first, and I believe is told in second or third person rather than first. I am always getting a bit confused on tense and person points of view; irregardless of how many examples I read of each. I credit that to being dyslexic, but the point here is that there is a radical change in the voice of the narrator for this half of the story. Part I was filled with a robust energy and Part II is a bit more subdued and ambles a bit like a snail. Giving more pause to thoughts and to musings neither of the characters felt they’d aspire to know the answers of. (Alas! I’ve sorted it! Part I the characters were telling their own story to the reader; in Part II they’re life is being observed and spoken about without their voices leading the story forward. Until they return just before the end, to conclude as they begun.)

Losing Touch in of itself (as a title and as a story) is attempting to draw attention on the aspects of our lives that we might allow to fall behind our fingers, like the sand in an hourglass; tricking unnoticed and unaware of how much we’ve lost a connection to everything we hold dear until its nearly too late to reconcile. With unflinching honesty and a keen awareness of how to paint the portrait of a family emerging out of their cultural heritage whilst sorting out how to live amongst the Brits: Hunter finds a way to encourage us to examine our on thoughts on life, marriage, children, and the unspoken absence of things left unsaid.

By the time I reached the ending chapters, I knew my time with the Kulkanis was drawing to a close. I was going to miss peeking in on their lives, listening to their conversations, and being with them as they rose above the tides like waves arching over and under the years of their lives. Sunila is the heroine of the story for me, as she walks her life through her faith, eager to sort out the best way to approach the trials as they arise and to hold fast to her vows she took with her husband on her wedding day. It is her quiet strength that leads the family back together, and gives her husband the bolster to continue to thrive despite how different his life became once his body could no longer support his normal activities. The three Auntys: Sunila, Pavi, and Haseena give us such a welcoming warmth into their intimate lives, that I must thank the author, Sandra Hunter for blessing me with their presence!

On Sandra Hunter’s writing style & voice of character:

I appreciate how her narrative voice and style allows us to align ourselves with Arjun and his immediate family. She stitches into the dialogue and thought sequences words of Hindi origin which gives the story an authentic feel. I always appreciate when native words and phrases are incorporated into a story, as they allude to the fact we are reading about a different culture and language heritage outside of our own. The pacing of the story is quite British, as I am noting differences in the craft of story-telling between American and British authors of late, as I have had more opportunities to read Modern British Literature over the past year. It is a bit like noting the differences in motion picture, when you see the styles of American, British, Canadian, and Indian film-makers. Each has their own set of tools of the trade (so to speak), and each has their own unique definitive style therein.

Each chapter is devouted to one full year of Arjun and his family life, carried through by snippets of reflection and action, that were to give the reader key insight into the family’s progress past Jonti’s death and what occurred in their lives since they said their good-byes when the story opened at his funeral. Told in first person perspective, you get a rather firm and intimate view of their thoughts, their expressions, and the way in which each of them elects to live their life. Arjun by far is the curious one who as a true introvert processes everything with the knack for self-reflection and internal musings that lead him towards understanding, acceptance, and transition.

The one curious pattern of her story-telling style is that for each chapter, it is not merely a new year that progresses forward but a month as well! For instance, the first chapter begins in September and by the time you reach chapter four you are arriving in December. The years clicked off from 1966 to 1969 as well. This is a most curious pattern and by doing so, it allows you to see not only the passage of time, but of the season in a gentle arc of time shifting forward and ebbing away. There is a bit of a time jump from Part I to Part II, as the second half picks up in 1998 shortly after leaving 1973!

Her personal style is both gentle and guiding, she allows you to soak into her prose and appreciate her characters for what they have to relay to you. She is a writer I want to read more of and I cannot wait to seek out a new novel of hers when they are available to read as she is only just now venturing forward into novels, as she previously focused on short stories. I might have to see if her shorts are bound into print collections, as I do have this new penchant for shorts! Except to say, the brief excerpt of her current WIP (work-in-progress) of a novel took me by a bit of gobsmacked surprise due to the language — Losing Touch was graceful in its ability to paint a story without the abrasive language so popular in today’s literature. I even appreciated how she handled the changes in faith as both Arjun and Sunila were embracing Christianity which gave them a lot of fodder to chew on throughout the book.

As an aside: I appreciated using the lovely bookmark, Ms. Hugo gave me whilst I received “A Matter of Mercy” for review for an upcoming TLC Book Tours stop! I am always attempting to remember which bookmark was enclosed with each novel that I find myself using to read other novels that arrive for review! Forgive me if my notations of which bookmark I selected goes amiss and a-rye. If you were curious of my reference as an Anglophile kindly direct your attention to ‘My Bookish Life‘.

Fly in the Ointment:

There is a very brief and short passage in Chapter 14 where quite strong language is used rather unexpectedly, so much so I nearly forgot to mention it here! I was totally taken by surprise to find such strong words to convey such a simple scene of action and dialogue. In fact, held within the gentle voice of the story’s narrating pace I found it was rather out of step with the rest of the chapters and clearly not necessary to be included. I agree, the scene was alarming and dicey, but I think it could have been writ without the use of the strongest word I most dislike in literature. I believe my mind skirted over this completely, as said, I nearly forgot to mention this as I posted my review!Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Read an article where Sandra Hunter selects her Top Ten Books:

 Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

Losing Touch
by Sandra Hunter
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by One World Publications

on 15th July, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 224

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comVirtual Road Map of “Losing Touch” Blog Tour:

Tuesday, July 1st: Review @ 1330 V

Wednesday, July 2nd: Review @ Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Thursday, July 3rd: Review @ Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, July 7th: Review @ Lit and Life

Tuesday, July 8th:  The Written World *not posted yet

Wednesday, July 9th:  Books in the City *not posted yet

Thursday, July 10th: Review @ Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, July 11th:  BookNAround

Monday, July 14th:  Missris

Tuesday, July 15th:  Bibliophiliac

Wednesday, July 16th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, July 17th:  Luxury Reading

Friday, July 18th:  Time 2 Read

Monday, July 21st:  Bound By Words

Tuesday, July 22nd:  A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, July 23rd:  Good Girl Gone Redneck

Please visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

As foresaid, I have already earmarked off quite a heap of selections of ‘next reads’ for Literature of India choices, a few of which can be viewed on my Riffle List: Equality in Literature & Diversity in Literature : walk hand in hand. Other choices include: “The Hope Factory” by Lavanya Sankaran, “The Sandalwood Tree” by Elle Newmark, and “Haunting Bombay” by Shilpa Agarwal.

Reader Interactive Question: I am curious to know which books you’ve read about India or have stories set around the cultural heritage of India that have introduced you to Literature of India and given you a reason to continue reading their stories? What first drew you to appreciate India, was it through their cuisine or music? Did you pick up a novel once and found yourself enchanted? I’d love for you to share your own personal reasons for reading Indian stories in the comment threads & if you would be inclined to read “Losing Touch” after reading my own ruminations on its behalf.

{SOURCES: Book cover for “Losing Touch”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, and Book Synopsis  were provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets are able to be embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie
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Posted Thursday, 10 July, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Britian, Cultural Heritage, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Domestic Violence, England, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Fly in the Ointment, Hindi Words & Phrases, Immigrant Stories, India, Indie Author, Library Find, Library Love, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Literature of India, London, Modern British Literature, Multicultural Marriages & Families, The Sixties, TLC Book Tours, TV Serials & Motion Pictures, Vulgarity in Literature

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