Monday, July 19, 2010

Blog Tour Stop & Review: Shiva's Arms by Cheryl Snell

Shiva's Arms by Cheryl Snell

Book Description:
Is there a happy medium between Hindu tradition and American style, or does the battle of wills between a mother and daughter-in law for the love of the man caught in the middle trump all else? When Alice marries Ramesh, she is plunged into a battle of wills with her mother-in-law. Amma wreaks havoc over Alice's household until a family secret is revealed that costs the old woman everything. Now it is up to Alice to heal the rift. Shiva's Arms evolves into an exploration of cultural identity, the power of reconciliation, and the meaning of home. ***Bonus: Delicious recipes straight from the author's kitchen are included in the back of the book!***

About the Author:

Cheryl Snell's books include fiction and poetry. Published widely online and in print, she won the Lopside Press competition for Prisoner's Dilemma, and has had work included in the Best of the Net Anthology. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, Cheryl runs a micro press called Scattered Light Publications with her sister, the artist Janet Snell.

A Brief Interview with Cheryl Snell:

What is your single favorite Hindu dish?
Dessert first! I've never met a gulab jamun I didn't like, and they're very hard to ruin in the preparation. I like some guarantees in life!
What is your personal connection to this story?

I'm an American married to a Hindu Brahmin, and so the broad strokes of the story echo my experience. My marriage opened the door to the community I most love to write about now. In our social circle, there are plenty of attitudes similar to those I write about, and I’ve witnessed the results from my place as observer.

Do u think this story would have been much different had it taken place 20 years earlier? How about 20 years later?

If Shiva's Arms had been set in an earlier time, I think Ram would have not gotten off so easily for breaking the taboo of marrying outside his race, culture, and caste. And Alice might have taken refuge permanently in her depression. Who knows? But even in a less permissive era there have been people who have followed their own path, no matter the cost.

I'm hopeful about the future of the cross cultural family. Some sea changes have occurred and the ripples have been felt globally. If my story had been set in the not-so-distant future, Alice might not have suffered as much medically, for one thing. And perhaps respect for the individual would have flowered to the point that Amma could see her children as themselves, rather than part of an ancient tradition.
Here's What I Think:
The concept of this book was very interesting to me. I think it happens more often then not, maybe not to the extreme as in the book, but whenever two families come together in marriage. Sometimes it is cultural differences, as in the book, and some times it is just personality difference. Not every family is faced with the trials and tribulations of Alice and Amma but we all have to find a place of compromise. The story itself is thought provoking. However, I struggled with the style of writing. The only word I can think of to describe it is choppy. The scenes seem to switch without fading from one to the next, and the point of view does the same. It was slightly difficult for me to finish, but I did finish it and I am happy I did.

BUY IT: You can purchase this book on Amazon.

Disclaimer: Although I did receive a copy of this book from Writers Lair Books, I was in no other way compensated to write this review.


  1. Thank you for hosting me today, Pam, and the time you spent reading my book. I'll be available to answer your readers' questions, but to orient them better, I should point out that Shiva's Arms is literary fiction. The poetic language, multiple POVs, and shifting scenes underscore the emotional upheaval in the characters' lives. The theme of divided loyalties in a multicultural society is a complex one, and that's why I chose this genre. Someone once asked me. 'Where are the vampires?' and they were only half-kidding!

  2. i found the voice and stylings of the book to add to the reading experience. the entire time i was reading the book, i felt i was reading something new and unaffected by any other stylings. alice's depression and on/off again disconnect from life was enhanced by snell's approach. i love when a poem or a novel doesn't spell everything out to me because i become more of an active participant in the story.

    (i am so glad there were no vampires!) :)

  3. I guess I have more reading to do - I am still learning about the true meanings of all the genres that exist.
    I have to say that's pretty funny about the vampires. They are running rampant around the literary world and only a few of them don't suck (pun intended)

  4. Hey, I'd pit one of those Hindu gods against any vamp any time! :)

    Here's a brief discussion on genre, mainstream, and literary fiction you might find interesting:

  5. Cheryl - thank you so so so much for this reference! I think I get it now. And the book takes on a new meaning for me, now that I better understanding the styling. I appreciate your efforts!


I love love love love to hear what other people think - share your thoughts so we can start a dialogue!