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.

Book Review: Esper Files by Egan Brass

I received a free copy of this book from the team at Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

When an experiment goes wrong In Victorian London, Espers, people with supernatural abilities are created. In order to counter this new potential threat, the Institute is set up to teach Espers how to use their abilities for good and how to hunt down those who want to use their powers for evil.

Gifted with a formidable but self-destructive ability, Nathan is one of the Institute’s top agents. When the evil Baron executes his plan of controlling the minds of London’s political leaders, peace is dependent on Nathan and his team.

Will he learn to control his powers in time to save the world? Or will he succumb to their self-destructive nature?

My Thoughts:

Wow! This is a gripping tale of people with special powers/abilities living in a world of normal humans and the problems they face. Think X-men, with an institute, a professor and a whole lot of children being trained to accept their powers and learn how to use them. But, even with this comparison, the story holds its own, with enough differentiation to not make it cliched or the same as any thing the reader may have encountered.

The author has created characters who will enthrall you and pull you along with them. The story is well written and descriptive enough to keep the images running in your mind as the scenes are happening. The fight scenes are wonderful and a lot of research and effort seems to have been dedicated to writing them as there is an obvious attention to detail. Nathan, with his copy cat abilities and James with his teleportation are the first we encounter of  the Esper’s followed by Freya and her brother. Their powers, unique in nature, drive a lot of the plot. Starting off with the creation of Espers and how they came to exist, details of when their powers are likely to manifest and how to identify an Esper, the author covers all possible angles.

The story moves quickly, almost single mindedly in a specific direction and comes to a climactic end, leaving enough room for the next book. A great adventure to take, this book will have the reader hooked until the very end and is a very enjoyable read! Having said this, I cannot wait to read the next book, which is slated to be released soon.

Book Review: Operation Superstar by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao

I have been quite fortunate to get a chance to connect with and collaborate with Juggernaut.

I was given a free copy of this book, published by them in exchange for an honest review. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

(Taken from the blurb mentioned on the app)

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Bollywood superstar Junaid Kapoor is in deep trouble. Ex-wife Neha is not happy with the alimony settlement. She is threatening to release photographs of JK with his mystery lover.

Operation Superstar by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is exclusively available on www.juggernaut.in

My Thoughts:

This book is around 60 pages and is a very quick read. The story revolves around Junaid Kapoor, a Bollywood superstar, recently divorced and trying to ensure that his wife doesn’t release some photographs that she has of him with his mystery lover. The story jumps right in with Junaid meeting our protagonist, the lady who will make all this go away and ensure that his ex-wife has nothing to threaten him with.

The story is written in the typical style of a Bollywood film, but is lacking in substance. For a short story, it is thorough, but there is not enough information anywhere about any of the characters. The author’s style of writing is good and flows well, but the characters are not developed enough. Everything just seems to happen and fall into place so easily. Quite frankly, however good you are, things are not this easy in reality. This put me off the book a little and was the reason that I did not enjoy it a lot.

Overall, this can be read while taking a break from work or having a bite to eat. It has some elements of entertainment that will keep the reader momentarily entertained.