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review 2019-05-25 22:06
Story about two teen boys surviving a life of poverty, abuse, and neglect is depressing and eye-opening; friendship and the subject of the death-penalty make it emotional
We'll Fly Away - Bryan Bliss

What a sad, depressing, and eye-opening read. It’s interesting that the author calls this his ‘death-penalty’ book, but I’ll definitely agree with it also being a book about friendship and loyalty, as well as one about child abuse, alcoholism, and neglect. So much is also about poverty and as a result, the loss of hope. The two teens in the story, Luke and Toby, don’t have much to look forward to in their lives, or ways to cope, and this feels very desperate and is difficult at times to read. It paints a very grim portrait of impoverished middle America.
I commend the author on writing a book about two teen boys, which doesn’t happen often within the young adult genre. But it’s ultimately heartbreaking. I’m grateful to my Litsy Postal Book Club group for picking this, otherwise I may not have read this emotional YA novel.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/35959354-we-ll-fly-away
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review 2019-04-23 04:52
A Very Pleasant Novel of the Elderly Curmudgeon Reevaluates His Life/Attitudes Stripe
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss - Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Cambridge's Professor P. R. Chandrasekhar is an emeritus professor of Economics, and someone who has come so close to winning the Nobel that it's jarring to many he hasn't (well. . . "many" might be a stretch, who actually knows leading economists?). But he's also alone. His ex-wife and youngest daughter live in Colorado, his eldest son is in Japan and his other daughter won't let anyone tell him where she is. While he has no room to complain, clearly bits of his life could've gone better. He seems well-regarded by those still around him, and while he's a hard teacher, he seems like a good one.


After a health scare (there's some humor in it, don't worry, it's not that kind of book), and due to worries about his youngest daughter's behavior, he takes a sabbatical to California. Things don't go so well with the daughter, or his ex, or his ex's new husband (the man she had an affair with before leaving Chandra). The trouble with the new husband leads Chandra into going to a "spiritual retreat" at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Any type of spiritual retreat is the last place that anyone who knows this irascible conservative would expect him to go -- including Chandra himself. But he goes, and as he's the type to throw himself into anything he's doing -- no matter how silly he thinks it is. He plunges into the exercises.


And he doesn't experience a giant epiphany turning him into a spiritual kind of guy. Nor does he find the exercises silly and spends the time mocking the experience. Instead, he starts to re-examine some things. Like the way he interacts with his kids, and how they react to him. So he starts trying with them in ways he hadn't before -- and it doesn't go that well, honestly. But he makes some in-roads.


He ultimately returns to his home in Cambridge and makes some adjustments there, too. Eventually, some things happen that do permit him to further rehabilitate things with his children -- and life in general.


I was really worried that this would be about Chandra finding some sort of enlightenment, throwing off all his accomplishments and convictions and becoming a totally different person. Instead, he becomes more thoughtful, more understanding and a better version of himself -- with opportunities for further development. I don't think that's giving too much away, I hope not anyway. He's worked hard all his life, and now starts to realize the price he and others paid for him to work as hard and as much as he did, and to achieve the success he has.


Chandra is a fascinating guy -- I like the way he thinks. I like the very subtle humor in his approach and response to things, and wish more people in his life could catch it. I'd have liked more time with his daughters, I liked both of them and we only get to see the beginnings of better times between them and their father. Between family, new friends and new acquaintances, there are just too many characters to dig too deeply into. Which is one of the biggest problems this book has -- too many great characters to fully appreciate any who aren't in the title.


This looks like a "lighter" book from the title, cover, etc. -- and it is. But it deals with some bigger ideas, just not in an overbearing way. It's also not as funny as you'd expect from the description (or the blurbs on the cover). But there are subtle bits of humor throughout, and one or two very comedic moments. There aren't laugh out loud moments -- but there are plenty of smile quietly to yourself moments.


Balasubramanyam's writing is strong, his characters are great, and he can keep the story moving well. He balances the lightness and the darkness of the story well, and while it's not the kind of book that has a twist or three in the end, there are some things that you probably won't see coming until they happen (and feel inevitable once they do).


At the end of the day, this was a very pleasant novel with one very interesting character, and a few too many other characters. Some of which had the potential to be just as interesting, but we couldn't spend enough time with them because of their number. Trim a few of those, so the reader can focus those remaining and this book becomes much better. As it stands -- I may not find a lot of bliss in these pages, but I found entertainment and relaxation and would certainly read Balasubramanyam in the future with great interest.


2019 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/04/22/professor-chandra-follows-his-bliss-by-rajeev-balasubramanyam-a-very-pleasant-novel-of-the-elderly-curmudgeon-reevaluates-his-life-attitudes-stripe
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review 2019-04-06 16:53
Throttled by Chelle Bliss and read by Kirsten Leigh
Throttled - Chelle Bliss

This is my first Bliss audio book. I had previously read the story and knew, before I listened, that the steam abounds in this novella. City and Suzy are two of my favorites in the Inked series, this was, however not one of my favorite reads, so the audio did not change my opinion. There is much steam, little story and the narrator does a decent job with it. 

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review 2019-03-30 04:56
A novel about self-discovery
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss - Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Professor Chandra is viewed as a master economist, but near 70, he is again passed over for the Nobel Prize. Disappointment fills him, but he hides it as well as he can and attempts to deal with what he perceives as his failure, in a good natured manner. Actually, he is insults some of his students in the process. Therefore, he is offered the opportunity to take a sabbatical to gather his thoughts. Although he initially refuses, he soon changes his mind. Fate plays a part in his plans. He is hit by a cyclist and winds up in the hospital with some serious health issues. He decides it is time to search for some contentment. Once he thought he was happily married, but his wife left him for another man. He has not been as involved with his children as he would like to be since the divorce. He is no longer even in touch with one of his children, a daughter he fought with often. She refuses to contact him and won’t allow anyone to tell him where she is. He misses her. His son Sunil (Sunny), is successful, but lives in India running a business school with a focus on how business should be done. He rarely sees him. He realizes he is lonely. He decides to travel to California, where his ex-wife, Jean, lives with her new husband, Steve, and their youngest daughter, Jasmine. He is hoping to try and reconnect with his family. While there, his ex-wife’s husband challenges him to go to Esalen, a place he believes will help Chandra to gain personal awareness and fulfillment. It will make him happier. This experience opens a new chapter in his life.

Chandra, whom his ex-wife calls Charles, embarks on a journey towards self discovery. He is a man with a type A personality. His behavior and manner reflect his own upbringing, his father’s influence on him and also the influence of his country of origin, India. He is restrained regarding a show of emotion, and he is formal in his dress and demeanor. As he begins to meditate and grow more introspective, he begins to understand more about his own responsibility for the things that have happened in his life, for his children’s reactions to him and his wife’s possible reasons for leaving him, for his colleague’s and student’s treatment of him as well as his behavior toward them. As his ideas and actions slowly evolve, it is as if he “comes of age”. His change affects his interaction with others and they also change, growing more receptive to him as he becomes freer and more open. Old injuries and grudges gradually become less important as they are revealed, accepted, ironed out and even resolved.  As Chandra searches for meaning in his life, he also provides meaning in the lives of those he touches.

He has enormous expectations of himself and his children and they often feel unable to fulfill his wishes. Each of his children is struggling to discover their own identity, unencumbered by his. His wife has found a new identity with her new husband. He begins to show more understanding of the plight of others and not only to dwell on himself and his own desires.

The book cleverly touches on racism, politics, religion, culture, morality, economics, world affairs, child rearing, fidelity, divorce, drugs, feminism, and more. As these subjects are introduced, they are treated with humor, a light wit or serious exploration. The book beautifully examines relationships with family, friends, strangers, and anyone else one might come in contact with, with all their flaws and in all their incarnations. Acceptance of what life offered was key, introspection was vital, self-control was primary. Chandra was a man who had almost too much self-control. It made him hard to reach, and it made him self-important, and perhaps, even selfish. He wanted to control others, to make his children in his own image. He showed disappointment rather than compassion, restraint rather than affection. He emphasized success at all costs and sometimes those on whom he imposed his control could not satisfy his dreams. They needed to find their own, and they needed to separate from him to do this. As the book develops, the characters develop and grow. The power of spirituality and deep thought brings enormous change to all of them.


I received this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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review 2019-03-14 03:44
So sad.
Enshrine - Chelle Bliss

This story was over the top. I found the main character whiney in a self involved pity party. Now, I understand that she had a hard blow, but more than half of this book was a “poor me but I am a brave soul” it was hard to take after a few chapters. It made me wonder, during those weeks of crawling around, who was cleaning up after her. Then we move into the sticky sweet romance. Just too much of a good thing. Disappointed by this story, to say the least. 

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