If you enjoy reading as much as I do, and love burying yourself in stories and words, do check out these reviews of some of the books I’ve read.
by Shari Lapena
A psychological thriller rooted in domestic relationships and hidden secrets.
by Jay Shetty
Live a life less stressful and more meaningful with actionable steps.
A Stranger in the House
by Shari Lapena
You’re trusting that your adored spouse will return home from work. You’re making supper, looking forward to his arrival.
That is the exact opposite thing you recall.
You wake up in a hospital, with no thought of how you arrived. They reveal to you that you were in a mishap; you lost control of your vehicle while driving in a hazardous part of town.
The police speculate you were planning something sinister. In any case, your better half refuses to believe it. Your closest companion isn’t so certain. What’s more, even you don’t have the foggiest idea what to believe.
Karen and Tom Krupp are a happy couple—they have a beautiful home in upstate New York, they’re for all intents and purposes love birds, and they have no children to disturb their agreeable coexistence. In any case, at some point, Tom gets back to discover Karen has disappeared—her vehicle’s gone and it appears she left in a hurry. She even left her purse – with phone and ID behind.
The mishap has left Karen with a blackout and bruises. In any case, she’s for the most part alright. Then again, actually she can’t recollect what she was doing or where she was when she got slammed. The cops think her memory misfortune is unhelpful, and they suspect she was up to no good.
Karen gets back with Tom, resolved to recuperate and go on with her life. At that point she understands something’s been moved. Something’s not exactly right. Somebody’s been in her home. Furthermore, the police won’t quit posing questions.
In this house, everybody’s an outsider. Everybody has something they’d preferably keep covered up. And they may even kill to bury the truth.
I’ve been a fan of Shari Lapena, ever since her first novel The Couple Next Door was released. Needless to say, expectations were high on this one.
So when the absolute first thing she did was give the focal character amnesia, I was certain Lapena would figure out how to utilize amnesia in a manner I had never observed – and it would be new and compelling.
Honestly, it wasn’t.
The plot was just okay. It wasn’t too luring. But it had enough to motor me to the end. A part of me kept expecting some dramatic reveal at some point.
Karen unmistakably has secrets. Some she’s reluctant to share and others are apparently part of her amnesia- but it’s hard to say which is which.
Assuming key roles in this novel, are neighbours Brigid and Bob – Well, Brigid at any rate. Not Bob.
Brigid and Karen are best friends. Tom has romantic history with Brigid. But Karen is unaware of this. As if things weren’t complicated enough, Brigid has secrets of her own.
The entirety of this lying and relationship strife- and the amnesia – makes for an incredible complex mesh that Lapena leaves her readers to unravel.
The strains in relationships and the ensuing complications advance the plot quickly and the puzzle becomes even more intriguing.
What did Karen truly do that night?
How is Brigid related to everything?
The characters are for the most part interesting, and not who they initially seem to be. Lapena gives the reader substantial insights into their emotions and considerations. But it is later on in the book, where the full picture is painted and secrets are revealed. Some of these are imaginative, while others are cliched.
While Tom’s judgement seemed very skewed, I felt some sort of empathy for his character. Karen was a troublesome character to figure out. Even at the end, I don’t think I’ve completely figured out how she functions. She was especially hard to read, and there was considerably much more to her than what shows up on a superficial level.
The main problem I had with the plot was that the readers figure out the case sooner than the police. Still, the book as a whole is an engaging read. And the conclusion was quite a surprise. I’m still not sure if it was the best ending for the book or not. But it was certainly impactful.
The inconclusive ending leaves many unanswered questions. And arguably, that is the impact of the conclusion.
Do they live happily ever after?
Was justice served?
How do things play out?
I usually love books to end on a high note or at least to be close ended. An open ended conclusion isn’t a popular choice. But it was a brave decision on the part of Lapena to leave the ends loose. And perhaps, therein lies the novel’s biggest strength.
My Honest Opinion
Psychological thriller buffs may find the twisty conclusion fulfilling enough to spare this book. At the end of the day, this novel is one you can live without.
The pace isn’t particularly quick and some little pieces of it might feel marginally dull, yet it generally held my attention.
By and large, I would recommend this novel to those of you who appreciate suspenseful thrillers, especially on the off chance that you enjoy reading about domestic relationships and secret pasts.
Think like a Monk
by Jay Shetty
After making his first online appearance in 2016 on the Huffington post, Jay Shetty became a sensation on social media.
In 2010, a fresh management graduate from London, Shetty renounced job offers with promising career paths to live, learn and serve as a monk in a Hindu ashram outside Mumbai. With a shaven head and orange robes, he spent his time amidst other monks learning and practicing teachings from ancient Vedic texts.
The next three years were marked by service through living and traveling across India, UK and Europe feeding the destitute, creating food and shelter programs and teaching meditation. After those years spent in service, he traded the life of a monk for a more civilian life because he felt he could serve his purpose better by teaching others to live a more empowered and meaningful life.
His self-confessed mission is to make wisdom relevant and accessible by merging education and entertainment to change people’s lives.
Think like a Monk is his debut novel which is aimed at using ancient wisdom to make sense in the modern world. The idea is to enable people to allow their purpose to unfold by creating space and then to relentlessly pursue the goal of building a life that’s more fulfilling in all areas.
This inspiring book is a journey of tapping into our own true potential and power. Jay Shetty, in his book, draws on his own experiences as a monk to demonstrate how we can remove obstacles to harness our innate power and purpose. With ancient wisdom as a base along with his own enriching encounters in the ashram, Think Like a Monk unveils how to conquer debilitating thoughts and attitudes to discover the peace and calm that is within all of us.
The book covers some of the lessons that monks learn which are deep-seated, yet may seem notional to most people. Shetty translates those lessons into everyday advice and exercises that take readers through a process of personal growth “by training our minds on how to react, respond and commit to what we want in life.”
A varied range of topics are covered including reducing fear, career direction, mitigating stress, improving relationships, exploring hidden abilities, enhancing self-discipline and offering the talents we find in ourselves to the world.
His suggestions are practical and the primary basis of his suggestions is his “spot, stop and swap” technique : spot the issue, stop to consider it, and swap in a new approach. His recommendations also include a range of meditation techniques. Additionally, he enumerates several anecdotes from his time in the ashram, and is at his inspiring best when concentrating on practical topics.
There is a whole chapter dedicated to ‘routine’. This chapter offers guided advice to bring “intentionality” into your day by adopting a more structured living, including the significance of establishing a morning regimen and setting aside “found time” for exercise, gratitude and meditation.
While Shetty draws a lot from Hindu spiritual texts, including the Vedas and makes use of Sanskrit terminology to expound his teachings, his approach is secular and will appeal to anyone interested in using meditation to enrich their lives.
The book as a whole fits quite seamlessly in the modern premise of self-development but draws deep insights from texts and philosophies that are thousands of years old. For ease, he breaks down the book into three sections with objectives -Let Go, Grow and Give. Exercises in meditation are an integral part of each section and every chapter lists steps one can follow to forge a deeper connection and understanding of the self and others.
Highly commended and recommended by Ellen DeGeneres, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington and others, Jay Shetty’s debut novel is touted as a treasure trove of wisdom and experience, for anyone seeking to find their purpose or repurpose their lives by blending ancient wisdom with today’s practicalities and complexities.
“Between the pages of a book is a wonderful place to be”