Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vegas To Varanasi by Shelly Hickman (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Vegas To Varanasi by Author Shelly Hickman!

Author Guest Post

Save The Drama For Your Mama

I was trying to think of a topic that in some way ties into the plot of Vegas to Varanasi, so when revisiting my blurb, I decided to focus on the word drama. In this post, I’m referring to the word’s negative connotation. I’ve often wondered why it seems we have become a society that’s obsessed with drama. Or maybe we have always been that way, and I just never noticed.

I think drama is okay when we seek it in our entertainment. After all, a TV show, movie, or book won’t keep us engaged if there’s not some sort of conflict taking place. In fact, recently my husband and I started watching the Showtime series Shameless, and I’ve found myself addicted to this family that is so dysfunctional, they make Al and Peg Bundy seem more like Cliff and Claire Huxtable. We’ve been watching several episodes in a row, trying to catch up, when finally I had to take a break. These characters were invading my sleep!

But when we start believing we must have drama in real life, that’s what I don’t get. This is where reality TV comes in. I’ve never been a fan, and I think the reason is that most of the time, these shows equate reality with being petty, hateful bitches. (Pardon my French.) Now, those of you who have watched Shameless are probably thinking, “What a hypocrite! That family is filled with people who lie, cheat, and steal, with a father who is a good-for-nothing, welfare-grubbing, raging alcoholic.”

To which I would bow my head and reply, “You’re right.” However… I would also argue that this is a family in survival mode. Despite the fact that these kids were cursed with a worthless parent, they are there for each other. They have each other’s backs, and they do what they need to do to get through each day - together. There’s a difference between that and being nasty for the sake of being nasty.

I’m sure I’m just as guilty when it comes to laughing at some of this stuff; I’m far from perfect and I’ll be the first to admit I can have a twisted sense of humor. But somewhere along the way, it seems that being insensitive has become entertainment. Whether it’s something as basic as a movie seeking laughs by berating others, or web sites teens frequent which allow them to disparage each other anonymously, things have gotten out of hand.

I lead with all of this because my daughter will soon be moving to the school where I teach—that is, if she doesn’t change her mind—because she’s had it with the drama at her current school. I’ve tried to explain to her that there will be drama in any school, but it’s who she chooses to hang with that will determine how much or how little she’s going to deal with. My daughter currently has what I call a “bad romance” with her best friend. A love/hate thing, if you will, that she can’t seem to rid herself of, and it’s exhausting the hell out of me! In fact, it seems her whole circle of friends, boys included, thrives on conflict.

Don’t get me wrong. I know my daughter is no innocent, and I’m sure she is equally to blame in some of these conflicts, but I find it sad that so many kids seem to think that this is a normal, acceptable way to live. Life is too short to be constantly contriving some sort of drama. But then when I go back and look at what they’re exposed to in our media, I think, “Well, there ya have it.”

So I continually have this discussion with my daughter, reminding her that she needs to decide what kind of people she wants in her life; that even adults go through this process sometimes. When we align ourselves with negative people, it’s so easy to start believing that this is the norm, and maybe we even start adopting behaviors we never had. It can sneak up on us. I think we’ve all been in that place where we recognize that a person we’ve been associating with is sucking the very life from our soul by their constant negativity, snide remarks, or whatever, and we have to make a choice. I can only hope that my daughter learns how to make good choices in this regard, and I hope that her friends can, too.

About The Author

Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as an illustrator for a contractor for the Nevada Test Site. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer applications and multimedia at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.


Book Review

Vegas To Varanasi by Shelly Hickman
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: November 18, 2013
Format: Paperback - 235 pages / Kindle - 1770 KB / Nook - 788 KB
ISBN: 1492857084
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Vegas To Varanasi

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Anna has never been the beautiful one; she’s always been the nice one. So when the gorgeous man sitting across the table at a wedding reception remembers her from high school—and quite fondly at that—she’s taken off guard.

Formerly overweight and unpopular, Kiran has never forgotten Anna, the one person who was kind to him when no one else could be bothered, and Anna’s a bit flustered as she slowly comes to grips with his intense attraction for her.

In what feels like a romantic dream come true, all-grown-up, hunky Kiran invites Anna on a trip to Varanasi. But her troubled, whack-a-do ex-boyfriend starts interfering, creating drama at every turn, which begs the question, “Can nice girls really finish first?”

Book Excerpt:

“Anna,” Luke begins, “I wanna know if Kiran is still bringing his mom to your office for her visits.”

“He is.”

“Who’s Kiran?” Derek asks.

“He’s that friend of Jacob’s family who was at the wedding,” Julia explains. “He actually went to school with us.”

“Oh, okay.”

“And if he isn’t a tall glass of water!” Julia adds before taking a sip of her wine.

Luke starts buttering a slice of bread. “He’s also been conveniently returning to Anna’s practice. Bringing his mother for her visits, of course,” he says without looking at me.

“Thank you, Luke, local town crier.” I set down my fork. “And what do you mean conveniently returning? He’s been bringing his mother because her husband’s been away.”

Luke raises his hands. “All I know is there was some definite fondness for Anna goin’ on that night at the reception.”

“Really!” Richard raises his eyebrows at me.

“What?” Julia huffs. “Why didn’t I know about this?”

My mouth drops open at Luke, before I turn to Julia and smile. “He does not know what he’s talking about.”

Hayden twirls his bottle of beer in his hand. “You go, Mom! Stealing the heart of the tall glass of water! Have no idea what that means,” he mutters to Carly. “I assume the guy is hot.”

And,” Luke dramatically addresses everyone at the table, “she said he told her he had a crush on her in high school!”

I look down and take a bite of my asparagus. “I hate you right now.”

Richard puts his hand over Luke’s. “Forgive him, Anna. You know he gets loose-lipped when he’s had a few.”

“What? This is good!” Luke continues. “You just got out of a relationship, so now you’re free to have a little fun with the hot guy.”

His passion about this topic makes me smile, despite myself.

“Okay, sweetie,” Richard says. “I think that’s enough. You’re embarrassing Anna.”

Luke meets my eyes. “Anna Banana knows I would never try to embarrass her.”

“I’ll tell you one thing.” Julia pours herself another glass of wine. “I feel like I’ve been seriously out of the loop.”

My shoulders drop. “What loop? There’s no loop!”

“What about his mother’s birthday party next week?” Julia asks. “Are you going?”

“See, I tell you stuff. You knew about the party.”

“Are you going?”

“Why not? They said I can bring a guest. I was going to see if you’d come with me.”

“Oh, no no no.” Julia snaps her head back and her eyes get really big. “You don’t need a third wheel there, should something develop.”

I shake my head and snicker. “You guys are hilarious, you know that? It’s his mother’s seventieth birthday party. Nothing is going to develop.”

Book Review:

Vegas To Varanasi is a wonderful romance story that takes a realistic look into the dynamics of relationships and the trials and tribulations that come with life experiences and change. Author Shelly Hickman weaves a deeply moving tale told in the first person narrative that follows the journey of Anna, a Las Vegas physical therapist, as she ventures down the path of romance, and how she handles the complexities and changes that come with them.

This is so much more than the usual romance story, the reader is easily drawn into Anna's life and the complexities of her relationships, it is a captivating and realistic tale that has a great mixture of emotions, humor and romance. Anna takes the reader along on her life's journey as she experiences the ups and downs, joys and struggles, insecurities and passion that comes along with romance and family. From her insecurities and vulnerability; to the heartbreak and acceptance of her marriage/divorce to a gay man and the remolding of their family; to the struggles of loving and living with a man with an alcohol addiction; to the refreshing discovery of a new love and culture, Anna's journey easily captivates the reader's attention and has them cheering Anna on as she ventures down the path to love and happiness.

With an engaging cast of characters who are realistic and have flaws; richly detailed descriptions of Las Vegas and Varanasi and the Indian culture; and a storyline that depicts the reality of life and the complexities of relationships; Vegas To Varanasi is a delightful story about the intricacies of life experiences, it is a story full of depth and emotion that will leave a smile on your face.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

January 14 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
January 15 – Nana Prah’s Blog – Excerpt 
January 16 – Musings From an Addicted Reader – Review
January 17 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
January 17 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt
January 20 – Everything Books and Authors – Excerpt
January 22- Change the Word – Guest Post & Excerpt
January 23 – The Hopeless Romantics Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
January 24 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Excerpt
January 27 – Chick Lit Plus- Review


  1. Thank you for having me, Kathleen!

    1. Hi Shelly! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I really enjoyed reading Vegas To Varanasi, it was a wonderful book.

    2. Can't tell you how pleased I am to hear that. :)

  2. Hi Samantha! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.