#BookReview – America Under Mind Control by Jamell Crouthers

The blurb reads,

“What happens when society takes control of your mind and how you think? This book speaks on all of the issues going on in today’s society and how the rich, wealthy and elite do everything in their power to keep the American people under mind control. There are different tactics and ways they use to make sure we as a people don’t strive for greatness in life.

It starts from when you’re a child in the education system and how we’re taught to be obedient and to respect authority all the way into Corporate America. Our minds are programmed on a daily basis and whether we realize it or not, we don’t take the time to see the bigger picture of how the world is run.

From the music we listen to, to the television we watch, the politics they control and infiltrate, this book deals head on with how we the American people are controlled by so many messages on a daily basis. It’s a book that speaks truth into how this country and the world is in shambles and how we need to come together as a nation and as a people and do better.”

 

I have been working with Jamell to promote his book and had the chance to read this gem and boy, IT WAS HARD HITTING!

You know, this book is like holding a mirror to our life. There are so many things wrong with our life at this moment. The world is so obsessed with greed, money, earning and then living a comfortable life, that they don’t care about the people they crush in the process. A multinational may not give a second thought about the farmer that killed himself because of their arm flexing. Or another one may not care about destroying a consumer’s life while pushing credit cards on them, and ruthlessly collecting afterwards.

The point I am trying to make is, there are so many subtle markers around us, which point out to this irony, which try to protect us from it and yet we fall into its trap. Take for example, the advertising world. Or the beauty industry. It’s an industry that thrives on our low self esteem. If we were happy with ourselves, would we buy their products? If we were happy with our clothes, would we make them rich by spending money we could otherwise have invested? NO!

The book is filled with stories or poems like that which are literally so true about the American society today. I live in India but because for us, mentally, a lifestyle followed by people in America is idolised and thought of as the right lifestyle here. I can literally see it. People buying products to fit in, or just because someone endorsed it. Or buying product after product simply because of the push advertising. Or the fact that their behaviour is so influenced by how things are put. Or how opinions are controlled because of how things are reported.

The world is not black and white and in this bucket of grey monotone, it is worth noting that we need to look into the mirror. We don’t need fast fashion. We don’t need a television. We don’t need a credit card or anything that someone else tells us is necessary. Is our mind subtly being controlled by corporations who want nothing more than our dollars? This is the whole crux of the book and it is something that is worth thinking about very deeply.

In a world where humans are reduced simply to their worth in money, it is worth thinking where we are spending that currency which determines our value. Perhaps if we introspected a little and supported our own opinions as compared to something that the so called society seems to thrust on us, we will be better people and will  be able to make the world a better place.

And I don’t mean this for a utopian world. Our habits or what we do simply out of impulse needs to be checked. You never know who is behind the strings controlling this behaviour.

This is an excellent excellent read! The words are hard hitting and a poem or two into the book, you realise that this is reality. And it isn’t a pleasant one.

5 full stars from Books, Food and ME!

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#BookReview – Threads of Silk by Amanda Roberts

The blurb reads,

“When I was a child, I thought my destiny was to live and die on the banks of the Xiangjiang River as my family had done for generations. I never imagined that my life would lead me to the Forbidden City and the court of China’s last Empress.

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China’s history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.”

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I absolutely loved reading this book. For some reason, I’m very attracted to reading books about China and their culture and this book completely hooked me from the get go.

The one thing that I keep wondering about, was how restricted Chinese women were, and I know, after reading this book, that I’m being remarkably blasé saying Chinese when I probably mean Han, who the protagonist is. The binding of the legs, the matchmaker, their customs. It strikes me as being a completely different world. I can’t imagine the way women were simply treated as child bearers and having no importance in the household. I suppose, there are a lot of countries where women are still treated that way, but reading the extent to which lives were mechanized there in China really amazed me.

I find myself drawn to their history and culture, probably because they have preserved it so well. Their knowledge of their own traditions is intact and accessible. It makes studying or immersing yourself in their culture a rewarding exercise.

Reading about the Qing empire made me research about them on Wikipedia, and it was especially interesting to note how the British landed in the country and went ahead spreading Christianity in the country. I find that an extremely sore point and it angers me to know that countries still routinely send missionaries preaching the superiority of their religion over others. And forcibly converting people. The grim realities in villages in India and Sri Lanka supports me when I say this practice is absolutely disgusting. And to know that it got to China and its people earlier really hurt me. I wish Christianity and Islam as religions stuck to their own roots and did not seek others to add to their religion like a flock of lambs. This behavior is crude and I wish leaders had the guts to call it out globally.

I do digress. Reading about Empress Dowager Cixi showed me a different side to her. Wikipedia spoke about the decisions that she took and the failures that resulted in the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, and yet, I felt Cixi was very smart for most of her life. She showed that if a woman is given the reins and she has enough confidence, she can go the distance.

I spent a few nights completely absorbed reading about the collapse and the end of the Qing Dynasty and reading about how foreign invasions hurt them. And how their loss in wars hurt them. I’ve always felt colonial expansion deprived our world of a lot and this book reinforced that. To say that every country colonized has lost a great deal would be.. diminishing the true extent of the depletion in world culture that resulted.

I absolutely absolutely loved this book. I loved how this book transported me into the Royal Palace in the Forbidden City and how vividly every scene played out! I really wish more such books come my way which transport me in history.

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 stars

#FunStuff – Stunner (A Ronnie Lake Mystery #1) by Niki Danforth

The blurb reads,

Beautiful. Bright. And possibly, deadly…

This is all Ronnie Lake knows about her potential sister-in-law, Julianna. But she’s determined to find out the truth about her wealthy brother’s new lover before he throws away his happiness, fortune, and quite possibly, his life. Who is this mysterious woman with two lives–and how deep does her deception go? 

As a divorced, downsized, 50-something, Ronnie finds herself becoming an “accidental detective” in order to get to the bottom of things. There are unexplained hang-ups when the phone rings. A disturbing package and sketchy characters appear at her wealthy family’s estate outside New York City. It all pushes Ronnie to step out of her privileged life and into a sinister world where people will do just about anything to escape their past. Is Julianna the most desperate of them all?

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So I requested this book from Kathy at I Am a Reader and then I completely forgot about it. That’s becoming one of my characteristics, to sign up for tours and promptly forget about them. I do plan on rectifying that and not let life get so much in the way.

And then when I got a mail saying the review was due, I found the book and started reading it. And I was HOOKED!

This is a great book and an amazing cosy mystery. I say that because things are sedate and sweet. It isn’t caught up in the action and fraught with tension. There are a lot of thrillers like that and I absolutely love the adrenaline rush that comes along with reading something like that. But I also love reading books like this one where the story slowly develops on its own and also has enough of juice to keep me hooked.

The thing that makes this book succeed is the protagonist. Ronnie is a great protagonist. She is committed to her family and loves them fiercely. And she has a little detective inside her, which makes her go and investigate when things fall under her radar of suspicion. And there are so many women like that who would want to hustle just to become a detective. Ronnie is almost likable in her simplicity and her desire to protect her family. And she is reckless. But her naivety is refreshing and often made me giggle. This was a fun book.

Ronnie suspects her brother’s girlfriend when strange things start happening. And Juliana is a mystery. Ronnie starts to work, trying to uncover her past and discovers Juliana to be having more layers than she imagined.

As Ronnie discovers Juliana’s past, she finds herself respecting Juliana but not being able to pin point what exactly bothered her. And the book follows a logical conclusion and a happy ending. Which was nice to read.

I picked this book up, sometime after my grandma’s death and I frankly needed something light like this. It helps to read just to distract and a cosy mystery is perfect for that. I do want to read more adventures of Ronnie in the future but I don’t think any more books have been published.

What I really liked in this book was the fact that the circumstances of your birth do not in any way determine what you will end up like. You can do anything you want. The world is your oyster. You don’t really need to move mountains but if you wish for something and work for it, anything is possible. That was a lovely message. That I can make anything out of myself. It all depends on me.

 

This is a nice book. You can definitely pick it up.

 

My Rating: 3.5/5

It isn’t a brilliant book and Ronnie was a little impulsive. And I felt the end did not play out too logically and I kind of felt the actual unravelling of the mystery was not too great. But that’s an after thought as I write this. I enjoyed the book when I read it.

3.5 starts

#Thrilling – Fear Has A Name (The Crittendon Files #1) by Creston Mapes

The blurb reads,

“How Far Would He Go To Keep Them Safe?

It was more than a break-in. More than a stalking. It waspersonal. When a stalker targets his family, journalist Jack Crittendon must uncover who the person is and what his motives are—if he is to protect the ones he loves. It will lead Crittendon into a world of behind-closed-door secrets and faith gone awry, as does his investigation of a missing pastor, whose apparent suicide is more than it appears. Each move Crittendon makes weaves him tighter and tighter into a web of lies, greed, hypocrisy, sin, and danger. He believed he’d never give in to fear. But that was before. And holding on to his faith won’t be easy. Nor will keeping his family safe, and ending the terror. Because that might require him to step over lines he never dared to cross.”

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Woo hoo! I’ve broken the spell and started blogging again! Welcome 2016. You’re not as bad as I thought.

So I started this with the free trial of Scribd that I had going on. I had added this in my Currently Reading a while ago and then forgotten about it. This time, I decided, I’m going to look at the books I have shelved from Scribd before I pick new ones. What I usually do is, I read a book and then because I don’t want to forget which one it is, I add it to Currently Reading. Which is why my Currently Reading list looks so inflated.

So, this book is precisely why I love Scribd so much. It is amazing for throwing up recommendations like this one. This one is a horror cum mystery book and I have to say, it lives up to both the genres.

The story starts off with a break in. Straight away. And the writing is so brilliant, you feel that fear right away. It comes and attacks you right then. That something is happening. You get bad vibes and instantly, you’re scared. (Try reading this book at night. Alone in a room. It really accentuates the writing)

 

“Who is it?” She searched the man through the glass. He clamped the doorknob. “Open!” The hardware made a sickening racket. “Get out of here!” Her stomach turned. “I’m calling the police!” She rushed for the phone in the kitchen. Boom! Pamela halted, turned toward the noise at the door, and gawked in horror as the stranger bent over and drove his shoulder—the size of a medicine ball—into the door, splintering the wood frame. BOOM! “Mo-omm-my?” Rebecca cried from the top of the steps. She was clutching Peep, her favorite doll. “Who’s banging at the door?” “Get down here, now. Both of you!” But as soon as the words left her mouth, Pamela realized she couldn’t wait. She shot up the stairs, swept up both girls, and plunged back down. Each frantic step felt like an adrenaline-laced nightmare. As they passed within four feet of the front door, the glass shattered. “Ahhh!” Pamela shrieked, dashing away from the eerie closeness of the intruder, hoping the girls wouldn’t see the man, but their little eyes were huge. Rebecca let loose a terror-ridden scream. Faye was frozen. Pamela kept going, like a soldier bolting through a minefield, with both girls locked in her arms, one thought in her brain: get out. 

This is what the book starts with. Abject fear at having your house broken into.

 

The book is a Catholic fiction based book with strong hints drawn from the Christianity faith. The lead, Jack, and his wife Pamela, are devout Catholics and this theme draws heavily into the book. However, unlike some of the Christian Fiction books I have read, where religion overpowers everything else, but this one was not like that. It was excellently written.

The book follows this break in. It also gives us a glimpse into Jack’s anger problems and a blast from Pamela’s past. This blast wants to derail Pamela’s reality and that is the core of the book.

However, it is written really well. There is so much of drama that you find yourself turning page after page to find out what happens next. Pam’s upside down journey and the stalker’s persistence seems to be tearing apart Jack and his ability to deal with reality.

This he has to deal along with his job, as a news reporter.  A pastor’s disappearance is also of importance to the book and how it ends.

That is what I really loved about the book. I could see Jack and his need to keep his family safe. I could sense Pamela’s loving nature overtake her sensibilities towards the end. And I could see how faith, and love for each other kept them alive and going.

The thing about reading thrillers is the rush you get while reading them. Things move so fast, you want to stay in the moment and experience them before they are gone. And when it comes to writing, especially for books that are good, I find words are inadequate to convey that I stayed up nights trying to read this and find out what happened next. Or that I was truly scared for Pamela and I wondered how scary it would be to have a stalker. Or that if I was married and something like this happened to me, how would I react? Those are post-mortem analysis’ that can be done.

However, I can’t deny, this book was an immense rush and it sort of validated why I love this genre. It keeps me on a high, it keeps my mind ticking and that is what I believe constitutes a successful book.

This was a brilliant book and I will definitely be following the works from the author.

 

My Ratings: 4/5

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