Family Ties by Richard Risemberg

Richard Risemberg is a self-published & budding British writer. His genre specializes in exploring and sensitizing human relationships. His novel Family Ties, published in 2016, is divided into three sections. It is a mystery trapped in various complex relationships. One can say that it is quite similar to Khaled Hosseini’s, A Thousand Splendid Sons. As, the former depicts family issues of marriage, love, trust and war, similarly, the latter too showcases family relationships but with a twist of solving up a mystery.

The story opens up with a beautiful description of Lake Helena in Sierra foothills at Los Angeles. The protagonist, Lenny Strasser, a print shop production manager with his landlord and ex-cop friend Red Henshaw arrive here to relax. The narrative and plot of the story is simple yet complex. A Mexican couple Ray and Julia follow them and interestingly, the reason behind this action is not cited. Then, its revealed that landlord Red is missing. Lenny with his relative Uncle Angle, his friend Clarence and Mrs. Williamson, wife of retired cop Mae Belle Williamson investigate about the incident. The mystery begins its journey with the revelation of Red’s whereabouts along with Connie, another person surrounded by the mystery in a dying state. The novel ends in unraveling of a double mystery.

Thus, I rate this novel 5/5. To me, reading this novel was an exciting and overwhelming experience. The narrative technique developed a superb interest in me such that it made me curious to know what next now.

Till the last page of the novel, my heart beat had remained heightened. When I reached the moment that stated double mystery, it swayed me with many questions in my mind. Who kidnapped Red? Is it a personal revenge of someone? Will Lenny be able to save him? Will Lenny succeed in exposing the culprit? What if Red dies? Will the mystery be revealed? If yes, how? Thus, to witness the climax, the novel is must a read.

Moreover, the presentation of the novel in its mysterious form attracted my attention to explore what the mystery Is all about. Therefore, to conclude, the novel title is apt as it highlights the relationship of bondage, love, trust, faith and happiness. The author through mysterious ways has beautifully described the importance of these strong emotional concepts in a person’s life.

You can reach out to Richard Risemberg at

rickrise@earthlink.net
323-428-4669
crowtreebooks.com

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

21st century. Freedom of speech. Equal human rights. No racism (at least it is frowned upon, anyway!).

Now, rewind a bit and enter the world of Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. A time where black maids raised up white babies, though they weren’t trusted-‘ not to steal the silver’ .

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is an extra ordinary story told by three extra ordinary women, who live in a time they are much ahead of.

The story starts by showing the two very different worlds of ‘The help’ (the colored women) and the ‘jobless, stylish, league ladies’ (the white women) co-existing together in a small town in Mississippi.

The joining link between these two worlds was one of the main protagonists- Miss Skeeter- the white, aspiring writer raised by black maids all her life.

Skeeter always wanted to write something that people really needed to read about. So, in a time where even speaking to a black person was shunned upon, she decided to team up with two black women (Aibileen and Minny) and write about the point of view of ‘the help’.

In this dark, hard hitting tale of the past, Stockett re-explores history with three strong women.

Women, who dared to break the unfair, unspoken rules in search of a truth, they had been questioning their entire lives.

Women who risked their lives to speak out against injustice.

Women who showed us what courage is, and the impact it can have and finally, women who taught us the power of unity and friendship.

Through The Help, Stockett not only changed the lives the people in the book but also those of its readers as it forces one to think about the ignorance we practice on the help around us even today. It forces us to realize that the evil of ‘slavery’ still exists and that it is finally time for us to start changing that.

This deeply moving novel teaches us to ultimately respect everyone and anyone around us irrespective of their class, caste, gender or color.  So it’s a must read for both racists and anti-racists out there, so they can either feel the shame or the pride they deserve.

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi

Amish Tripathi is an Indian author, best known for his trilogy – The Shiva TrilogyThe Secret of the Nagas is the second book in the trilogy. He has also written Scion of Ikshvaku and Sita- the warrior of Mithila is his latest venture. With The Shiva Trilogy, Amish Tripathi started a new genre where he took the mythological stories and gave them a human touch, so that, they become more relatable. 

The Secret of the Nagas is a sequel to The Immortals of Meluha and it begins right where the previous book ended. What is really unique about all of Amish Tripathi’s books is how he normalizes all the mythological characters to normal human beings. It makes it so easy for the reader to connect with the story which is not possible when you read Indian mythology. Even Ganesh who was supposed to be made from the ground in the Hindu mythology was given a more realistic reason for his face.. Ganesh and Kali were said to have been born with deformities and had been shunned by their own family. This book is also relevant to the present day issues where people who are different are made to be isolated from others and this arises because of the lack of understanding between them. Just like the Nagas were misunderstood by the people of Meluha.

This book also sends a strong message that evil is not defined by a locality or a particular sect of people but it is inside everyone. Good and evil are just two sides of the same coin. It also addresses how change and freedom is essential for the good-functioning of the society. I think this book not only shows Indian mythology in a new way but also connects it with social issues that are still relevant in today’s society. This book is really good for the young generation as it shows Indian mythology in a way that will interest them.

Give it a read guys!

You Loved Me at My Darkest by Evie Harper

Every once in a while, I browse through the ‘free books for kindle’ section on amazon, which is where I came across this book. The title caught my eye almost instantly. And the cover wasn’t too bad to look at either, it made me curious as well as excited. You Loved Me at My Darkest is the first book of the You Loved Me series by Evie Harper. This book came out on 7 March, 2017 and is Harper’s most famous book out of all the 14 she has written till now.

The story begins with Lily and Sasha Morgan; two Australian sisters traveling to America for a long overdue vacation. It starts out like a good carefree holiday, but soon turns into their biggest nightmare. They’re kidnapped by a rich madman Marco running a sex slave dynasty and separated.

The story mostly revolves around Lily and Jake, one of her kidnappers; they find comfort in each others’ company and fall in love. Jake finds himself torn between his love for Lily and the duty he has to fulfill.

What I really like about this story is that even though, Sasha is hardly a main character, you can’t forget about her while reading the book since Lily’s sisterly concern is always prominent. The urgency in the dialogues show the love and affection the sisters have for one another. Lily does everything she can to plan her sister’s escape even though she knows that if she’s caught, the consequences will be brutal for both of them. The intensity of the brutality and the reality of a sex slave dynasty honestly made me cringe while reading this book. One emotion I felt most vibrantly throughout was anger.

There were parts I couldn’t understand, like how could someone fall in love with their captor? Was it Stockholm syndrome? All these questions however, are answered by the time you finish reading this book. I’ve always believed that a good ending is always better than a happy ending, and this book definitely has a good ending.

I’d give this book a 4/5 rating.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

‘It’s not God. Just my parents,’ I say. ‘I want to sue them for the rights to my own body.

My Sister’s Keeper is one of the most heart wrenching and tear jerking novels Jodi Picoult has ever written. Jodi Picoult is an American writer and was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for fiction in 2003.

My Sister’s Keeper is a story, revolving around the lives of five people and how some decisions can both tear apart as well as stitch together families.

Anna, the protagonist of the story decides to sue her family for rights to her own body. Her sister Kate had been diagnosed with a rare cancer form, for which donors were hard to find, hence Anna had been used as a donor all through her life to save her sister’s life. However after a point Anna decided otherwise.

This beautiful tragedy is portrayed through the eyes of all the five main characters of the story.

Whether it is the feelings of a father who has to choose between his wife and daughter, or it’s the mother who has to ask one of her daughters to sacrifice herself for her other daughter. Every emotion in this story captures the reader’s heart.

It is recommended that one has a strong mind to be able to read this roller-coaster of emotions that Picoult has created as one of her best works. This book is not your average fairy tale, with real life situations, real life pain, and real life strength that one needs to make certain decisions in life.

Having an elder sister myself, I was anti the concept of this story when I first started reading it, as I can both die and kill for my sister. However, as I continued reading and getting closer to the characters, I realised sometimes there is a lot more to decisions regarding people we love, then what initially meets the eye.

Picoult with her talent of perfectly portraying human emotions and her notorious habit of plot twists manages to keep the reader hooked on till the very end, making them fall in love with both the book and life in general!

 

Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna

Twinkle Khanna is a former Bollywood film actress, who debuted her first non-fiction novel, Mrs Funnybones, in the year 2015. Mrs Funnybones sold over one lakh copies making Twinkle Khanna India’s highest-selling female writer of 2015.[

We have read about life from the eyes of famous politicians. We have seen the world from the side of religious fanatics. We have felt, and laughed at the miseries of engineering students and we have experienced the journeys of men who conquered the world with their talent.

It was therefore a welcome change to read about an ordinary person like myself, who makes mistakes, pays for them, is NOT perfect and likes it that way.

Mrs Funnybones is a refreshing debut novel by the ever-witty Twinkle Khanna, where she explores the life of the modern, Indian woman.

Whether it is the ancient, religious or superstitious customs we need to follow for keeping the hearts of our old parents or keeping a step ahead and being ever ready to answer our over-smart children, Khanna deals with all everyday problems of life.

With her ever present humour she manages to capture life in its comic sense. She discusses the everyday problems we all face and shares her insight on some serious issues as well.

Through her original writing style, Khanna manages to keep the reader hooked on to this novel.

Being the typical Indian myself, I particularly enjoyed reading about those annoyingly talkative strangers we are forced to share parts of our days with and those stuck up aunties who are forever trying to act fancy. Call me evil! But just knowing the fact that even celebrities out there cannot be spared of these everyday horrors, makes me feel better about myself (evil grin).

At the same time though, the recollection of college Goa trips, talkative rickshaw drivers and the silliest arguments with moms, takes me down the pleasant memory lane as well.

More than anything else however, the very basic level at which I could relate to this book as a girl, a student, a fellow writer and an Indian is what made me like this book.

So everyone out there who is looking for a simple and uncomplicated fresh book to read, Mrs Funnybones is the best choice.

Sad Girls by Lang Leav

For all those who are not familiar with Lang Leav, let me tell you that she is an internationally bestselling author. Lang Leav has also won the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award along with Churchill Fellowship. I was really intrigued by this book, Sad Girls, the first time I heard about it. Everything about this book builds up so much curiosity that it was uncontainable. The cover has a minimalist sketch of a presumably sad girl while the back only says “A girl who cried wolf; a boy in sheep’s clothing; a killer romance; a deadly secret.”

I just couldn’t bear not knowing what happens in this book, and if I could go back in time, I would probably put off reading it for as long as possible. I found it hard to finish reading this book because of how triggering it is at certain points. For me, personally, this book proved out to be quite unhealthy mostly because it had so many realistic triggers starting with a suicide. Yes, the story revolves around the aftermath of a suicide. There’s an evident guilt there, there’s confusion and there are tears, shed both by the characters and the readers. Someone once told me that grief is the strongest emotion one can feel, and this book makes me believe that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the book, the ending however ruined a perfectly good story.

The story revolves around Audrey, her two best friends, Lucy and Candela, the suicide of Ana and Rad, Ana’s boyfriend.

This story has so many ups and downs, it has hope, it has devastation and it has realistic scenarios. Reading this book was honestly one emotional roller coaster, reading about the pain of losing someone to suicide in a very relatable and realistic way was the highlight of this book, at least for me. It shows the importance for seeking help when it comes to mental health in a positive way, but the portrayal of how a therapist is, according to me was quite unrealistic and deceiving.

After Ana’s funeral, Audrey starts spending a lot of time together with Rad, which causes problems in her relationship as well as with her mother.  Sooner than later, the two put an end to their friendship but they keep finding each other in life.

It is a beautiful story which deals with real issues. The ending however, was unpredictable and strange, it made me cringe and it made me feel like an idiot. I give this book 3/5.