November 2020 – Book round-up!

A huge shoutout to all my readers and fellow bloggers.

I was inspired by other bloggers to post a recap of the books that I read or reviewed during November, 2020 and to highlight my favourite ones. I am hoping to continue this trend and post something similar every month.

I managed to read and review a good number of books last month. I usually do not manage to read so many due to time constraints. Nevertheless, some of them were wonderful and I truly enjoyed all the books!

Books read/reviewed in November 2020:

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

The most awaited conclusion to the Caraval series, Stephanie Garber brings us a well-crafted ending! This is definitely one of the most talked about series in today’s world!

I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion and loved the way the author has crafted the plot of the entire series. A well-written fantasy fiction, this series will take the reader on an adventure that is amazing, with colorful characters whom we cannot help but fall in love with! This series is indeed a must-read and is well worth the time spent on it.

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember by Kelly Santana-Banks

This story can be used as a picture book for younger children and as an interactive learning book for older ones. It is truly well-written and interactive making it a wonderful teaching and learning aid.

Prism (The Color Alchemist #1) by Nina Walker

Prism by author Nina Walker introduces the reader to an intriguing concept of magic and magical abilities and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The story is well-written and fast paced, keeping the reader hooked until the very end.

337 by M. Jonathan Lee

A wonderfully written novel, the story follows Sam as he goes through the motions of living every day. However, not everything is at it seems, and this is a constant theme running in the background of the plot.

This latest book by the author is a pleasure to read and though it raises many questions that ensure the reader is kept engaged long after finishing the book. This book is a must read!

Vampire Royals (Books 1-3) by Leigh Walker

Overall, this series is fun and enjoyable especially for those who love the idea of vampires and human’s together, though there is not a lot of focus on the supernatural aspect of the characters. The books are short and easy to read. They can each be read in one sitting and are a good stress free read!

Ten Days with a Duke by Erica Ridley

This book is a pleasant and quick read set in the time of Christmas in a rather picturesque village! It is indeed the season of love!

The Guardians of the Halahala by Shatrujeet Nath

A truly fascinating story set during the rule of Samrat Vikramaditya, this book is the first in a series of four books. In this book, the author has taken a tiny part of mythology and merged it with a historical setting to bring us this entertaining plot.

The book pulls you in until the very end as each character’s personality unravels and their dynamics together are established and later shift.

This book is truly a wonderful start to a great series and I cannot wait to read further!

Book Review: 337 by M. Jonathan Lee

I was provided with a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Please note that the double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.

About the Book:

337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.

My Thoughts:

A wonderfully written novel, the story follows Sam as he goes through the motions of living every day. However, not everything is at it seems, and this is a constant theme running in the background of the plot.

Sam’s mother vanished during his teens leaving behind a letter and her rings. We do not know whether she simply decided to leave one day or something more serious happened. In the current day, Sam reconnects with his Grandmother whom he has not seen or spoken to in years in an attempt at reconciliation and a final attempt to solve the mystery behind his mother’s disappearance. We are introduced to a variety of characters including his younger brother, his father, about whom we gradually learn things, his wife, from whom he is now separated and finally his grandmother, old and dying. There are so many layers to this story and the characters that the reader is always forced to stop and contemplate the goings-on.

The descriptions are rich and vivid bringing the place and characters to life. There is love and loss interspersed with the trauma Sam and his brother faced when they were younger. Having dealt with so much in life, Sam constantly talks about the advice his therapist has provided which are very much applicable in some way to all of us. The chapters are short and easy to read and the scenes with Sam and his grandmother are beautifully written with a lot of unspoken emotions in them.

This latest book by the author is a pleasure to read and though it raises many questions that ensure the reader is kept engaged long after finishing the book. This book is a must read!

Book Review : Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee

I received a copy of this book from Hideaway Fall, a publishing house based out of UK. This is the second book by author M. Jonathan Lee, that I have had the pleasure to read.

About the Book:

Drift Stumble Fall

The author of five novels, M Jonathan Lee is a tireless mental health awareness campaigner, working closely with organisations including Mind, Time to Change and Rethink and blogs regularly for Huffington Post. Having personally experienced anxiety and depression during his life, Jonathan draws on his experiences to inform his writing.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.

My Thoughts:

All out lives, we human beings, yearn for what we do not have or what others have. We do not stop to appreciate and be happy with what we already have. This behaviour is one thing that seems to contribute to our general state of mental unhappiness. Drift Stumble Fall introduces to us two men and their families. Spread over the course of a few days, the reader is given a brief glimpse into their pasts, as we follow their present routines and lifestyles. A very well-written novel, this acts as a mirror into our lives today and forces the reader to introspect and think about how we are handling our lives.

We meet Richard, who seems to have it all, a lovely wife, two kids, a steady job, and yet, he feels trapped and suffocated with his current choices. The story is set over a few days when there is heavy snowfall that prevents Richard from going out to his job, adding a little more to his sense of feeling trapped. With the idea to get away and start afresh taking shape in his mind, Richard is forced to endure a few days of being snowed in with his family and in-laws around as he lays out his plans to run away. As he looks out of the window at the neighbour’s house, we see a sense of yearning for the simple stress-free life seemingly led by the old couple in the house across. We also meet Richard’s family, his wife who comes across as annoying but is someone who loves him in her own way, his children and his in-laws.

Similarly, we meet Bill, an old man and his wife, who for the past thirty years have been waiting for news of or a sign from their eldest daughter who simply walked out of the house one night and never returned. The only other person in their life is their youngest daughter’s husband, a charming young man who comes in to keep an eye on them and take care of them. Bill is seen constantly looking out of their living room window, sometimes staring out to Richard’s house, a look of longing for the life he sees there, of children, grandchildren, a house filled with people and life.

Everything is not always as it seems and there is definitely more to every story than meets the eye. These are brought out in this story as each man yearns for the other’s life, assuming that it is better. The story is well developed and the characters are easy to relate to. The story starts out slow, introducing us to Richard and his monotonous life and then pulls you in as it progresses. Be prepared to come face to face with the emotions of the characters which in many ways seem to mirror ours and reflect what most of us have thought at some point. As the snow settles, so does the story, with some sad endings and other happier ones. A realization that not all is happy and great on every side dawns on the characters and mainly Richard as he discovers the truth about his neighbours and their life. He is also forced to re-think his plan of running away as he starts to understand that he may not want to give up this life after all.

Drift Stumble Fall is worth every moment spent reading it and in my opinion, it is a must read. It is confusing and sad, with moments of happiness sprinkled about, it is realistic and it brings out the true nature of our minds and our ways of life.

Book Review: Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

I was provided with a copy of this book by Hideaway Fall publishers in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Broken Branches

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

My Thoughts:

Wow! This is an intense emotional roller coaster, that will hold your attention until the end. The story is well-written and the beauty of it is that the author doesn’t give away anything until the very end! It proves to be impossible to predict the direction the  story will take and is even more difficult to figure out what is real and what is not! The title of the story becomes clear by the end and is quite apt according to me.

The story follows Ian Perkins as he tries to find out more about his family and it’s history, tracing back along the years while trying to prove the existence of a legendary family curse. The reason behind this need becomes clear only after the reader has completed the book! We are also introduced to Rachel, Ian’s wife who doesn’t believe in the curses’ existence and their adorable son Harry, who seems to have boundless energy. The emotions run deep and the descriptions are vivid, sometimes giving the reader chills at the end of it.

The author sets the tone of the story right from the first page as he describes the cottage, the iconic tree and the various people who have resided in this place. Chapters alternate between the present times and the past, introducing us to various people who were a part of or influenced Ian’s life. The author expertly describes the mental stability of his characters and brings out their thoughts and emotions, thus making it hard for the reader to completely judge until the end.

Hold on to your seats and emotions as you are in for an interesting and thought provoking time with this book! It is worth the read, touching upon some rather pertinent topics related to family, relationships and a persons psyche as a result of tragedy as the truth comes out.