23 July, 2022

Within : Short Stories for the Evolving Multicultural Woman by Aditi Wardhan Singh - [Book Review]

Book Details:


Title: Within: Short Stories for the Evolving Multicultural Woman
Author: Aditi Wardhan Singh
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Publisher: Raising World Children LLC
Print Length: 277 pages
Purchase Link: Amazon



Blurb:

"Life is all about the moments. A moment occurs when you are awakened from the slumber of everyday life by a feeling of significance in a snapshot of time, caused by a profound connection with people or nature, which evokes great emotion, nourishes the soul, and makes one think that this is what life is all about."
--- Craig Stampler

Told from the Indo-American perspective, multi-award-winning, best-selling author Aditi Wardhan Singh takes a bold step into telling stories that we often tell to each other over coffee or chai to our closest friends. These 30 stories provide you with a unique opportunity for self-reflection at your unconscious biases. our closest friends.

Told from the Desi perspective these 30 stories provide you with a unique reflection on your unconscious biases.

My Review:


This is a collection of short stories which are relatable incidents in everyday life. A few stories are very small and actually like conversations. A few are informative and provide moral in a subtle way. I loved the writing style and narrative which is like having a conversation with a friend.

I loved most of the stories as they are relatable to our day-to-day lives. I felt that a few stories are too short to register in my mind. For a few stories, I felt the title is not apt. The title of the book is justifiable as all stories seem to have come from within the author's heart based on her experiences. All stories touch on different human emotions and a few also talk about sensitive topics/ taboos.

Here are some of my favorite stories:

Grievances

Such a cute and short love story. A simple story, yet every couple can relate to it. I loved it.

Worth

It's a nice story that tells in a subtle way how society sees a housewife.

Acceptance

Though it's sad to read, I loved the way the emotions touch the reader. Love is like a beautiful rainbow in the rain.

Kindness

I loved this story for the message. It might come as a surprise when our kids teach us something important.

Rebirth

Many women can relate to it. While marriage comes with lots of problems, women are conditioned to ignore and forgive their partners even when they physically abuse them. This story shows that circumstances can trigger a change.

Magic

A wonderful way of teaching kids about Christmas. I really like this story as a bedtime read to my kids.

Soul mate

The story is practical and good. I loved the talk between the mother and her daughter about marriage, and dating .


Loved these lines :

" You have to be your own soulmate first. Job, husband, kids. All this doesn’t matter if you are not happy with yourself. If you are happy with yourself, then everything can become good. Don’t look for happiness in another person."

Perfection

A small story but enjoyed reading it. Nothing is ever perfect really.

Disgust

This story is a sad reality. Well written about the sensitive topic.

Compassion

This is not actually a story but a conversation between the parents of a child. Many households can relate to this type of conversation comparing one child's capabilities with others.

Belief

I loved the story because of the way the mother talks about periods, traditions, and their relevance in today's world. If I had to rate stories in this book, this would be my favorite.

Respect

This is a simple story about self-respect and is well written.

My Rating: 4/5


About the Author:



Aditi Wardhan Singh is a multi-award-winning, best-selling author. She is an authoritative voice on cultural sensitivity and empowerment, featured on numerous global publications and broadcast networks like NBC, CBS, Huffpost, Thrive, Richmond Family Magazine, Reading with Your Kids podcast etc. Her passion for diversifying dialogue within multicultural families led her to founding the collaborative RaisingWorldChildren.com platform. 

Today, she aims to help parents diversify their libraries by lifting other multicultural authors like herself. In her spare time, she enjoys choreographing dance recitals, volunteering, and having impromptu dance parties with her two charming kids.

Her upcoming works include a multicultural children’s book about belonging and a unique bilingual Hindi-English resource for children.

Until next time,



Favorite Book of 2022 So far ... #BlogchatterBlogHop

I haven't read a lot of books this year but this book stands out from all the books that I completed so far this year.

Inner Trek - A Reluctant Pilgrim in the Himalayas by Mohan Ranga Rao 





What's the book about?

The book is a travel memoir of a businessman to Mt.Kailash. Mt.Kailash is considered holy and the utmost spiritual journey for Hindus. But, Ranga Rao is a reluctant pilgrim as he takes this trip with his wife seeking an adventure.

An adventurous trip indeed! Trekking for 3 days reaching an elevation of 18,000 ft above sea level with fewer oxygen levels is not a hike for an un-fit person. But, more than this adventure and danger, the author observes the magnificence of Mt.Kailash. This parikrama/trek around Mt.Kailash changes him forever. 

The author mentions that he feels insignificant and small before the majestic mountains. The experience is once in a lifetime for him. This trip makes him experience spiritual elevation within. 

Why do I like it?

I am not usually up for non-fiction books. Either they become too preachy or become tedious if the author doesn't show genuine feelings. I have read many such books before.

But, this one is different. The book is not preachy. Though the author writes about his knowledge and research about Mt. Kailash, he doesn't boast about his knowledge or fitness, or talent. I like that more than anything else in this book. The narration is like a conversation with a person we know and is easy to follow. 





I loved reading about Mt. Kailash and why it is revered in many other religions. I am happy to learn about trekking in the Himalayas, problems one might face, the fitness level required, and the mental balance that one needs to participate in such trips. 

My Rating is 5/5

You can read my complete review here.

Here is the link from Amazon if you wish to purchase the book.

Amazon


Until next time,




This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

26 June, 2022

Burying Eva Flores by Jennifer Alsever - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: Burying Eva Flores

Author: Jennifer Alsever

Genre: Paranormal suspense, Fiction, thriller

Publisher: Sawatch Publishing

Print length: 386 pages

Source: Review copy from the author





Blurb :

Everyone thinks I killed Eva Flores.

Sure, I hate how everyone was over the moon about her TikTok fame. And I suppose I got a little bit carried away with vengeance when she tried to ruin my life.

But seriously, when my friend gave me that leather journal, I’d never had so much power in my life. It was intoxicating. Who wouldn’t have done what I did to Eva?

Now everyone thinks that just because she vanished in the forest after a party, that I killed her. That the blood on the jackets is proof. Or the text messages. The slightly weird thing I had with Eva's dad. The fire.

The whole thing is far more complicated than you’d think.

What happened to the horribly obnoxious, very complicated Eva Flores? I can't really say.

Perfect for fans of Holly Jackson and Karen M. McManus, this book will grab you and won't let you go!

Purchase Link:


My Review :

The new high school girl in the town and a TikTok influencer Eva disappears suddenly. Eva's dance moves on TikTok videos attract many and so, she is popular with many fans. 

But, no one could understand how the rivalry started between Eva and Sophia Palmer. Sophia is not an attention seeker and loves fixing cars. She is opposite in character to Eva. When Eva's stepdad Manny is seduced by Sophia, everyone thinks that Sophia is jealous of Eva and trying to destroy her life.

But, these high school students are after all kids with their shortcomings, insecurities, and fears. Who can be trusted and who not? Who has more secrets that the outside world is not aware of? What reveals from the investigation of the disappearance of Eva Flores is the remaining story.

The story doesn't seem very complicated as you read my review, but the author definitely made it unpredictable and engaging. The book is unputdownable and the characters have many layers which surprise readers.

The Magic Journal which makes everything written in it true in real life makes the story mysterious. I liked the climax where humanity wins. 

I loved the book cover. Amazing design and completely apt. The title cannot be better than that. This is my first young adult fiction and I had never picked a book of this genre earlier. I am glad I accepted to review this copy. 

I would recommend this to high schoolers and teenagers. 

My Rating:

5/5

About the Author:

Jennifer Alsever is the Colorado-based young adult author of Extraordinary Lies and the Trinity Forest Series, which includes Ember Burning, Oshun Rising, and Venus Shining. She is also a national journalist who has contributed to such publications as Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

Check out her books at www.jenniferalsever.com and www.TrinityForestSeries.com.



Until next time,

20 June, 2022

The Gardens and Sculptures - Zilker Park & Umlauf Sculpture Garden in Austin, TX

 Here it is - My Latest travelogue from Austin.

Zilker Park came on the top of the list from the suggestions of friends on places to visit in Austin. Umlauf Sculpture Garden has some good reviews too, but our visit was a coincidence.

Starting our travels this summer, we drove downtown on a Saturday noon to visit Zilker Park. We weren't sure where to park, thus, we drove towards a parking lot opposite Umlauf Sculpture Garden, which is also the parking for Barton creek swim area.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum is an art museum and an outdoor sculpture garden, with the artistic works of an Americal sculptor - Charles Umlauf. This garden is adjacent to Zilker Park. 





This peaceful 6-acre garden has over 40 sculptures set under shady native Texan plants. The area is serene and very relaxing. 









Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for students below 13 years. Parking is limited but there is free parking available on the opposite side of the road.

 Zilker Park

This 351-acre park is the most loved park in Austin. But, beware, as it's always crowded.





Entry is $5 per car. The place is popular for botanical gardens, Barton Springs pool, fields for volleyball, disc golf, and nature trails.

We can also board the mini train called Zilker eagle which circles the park. Zilker hillside theater, Mcbeth Recreation center, and Zilker nature preserve are some other attractions.








I loved strolling through the rose garden, herb garden, Japanese garden, and Hartman Prehistoric garden. We also loved the Woodland Faerie trail which will be on display every year till August. Every year Faerie architects create homes for fairies. Aren't these mini-homes artistic?










Hope you like these photos. Let me know in the comments how they are!

Until next time,





Linking this to #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne at everydaygyaan.



14 June, 2022

Top Gun and The Great Indian Kitchen #MondayMusings

 It has been 3 weeks since we returned from India, still, our brains are set in Vacation mode. Not our fault, when we are pampered so much by the family members :-)

We took one week of complete rest watching just movies and tidying up the home. Overcoming Jet lag also took around 5 days, so you can guess that one week has gone so quick.

So, this post is about a relaxing week that we had and 2 movies that I watched.

Top Gun

Have you watched Top Gun by Tom Cruise? It's an old movie of course, but fortunately, I managed to watch it along with my kids. 80's movies are much different than our current movies. We all loved it. The plot, actors, photography, and action scenes are very good.





Since Top Gun: Maverick (sequel to Top Gun) is released the same week, we all watched our first movie after covid in a theater. It's a great experience. The first half is a little slow like 80's movies but it slowly catches up in the second half. 

The combination of emotions and action is well depicted. Like everyone else, I also couldn't see much difference in Tom Cruise when compared to part 1. Part 1 spirit is maintained and emotions are carried from it.

It is not that easy to explain war strategies to the movie audience in an engaging way with emotions. Top Gun team has done well in that aspect. The background score is a big plus to the movie. 

Overall, a must-watch for anyone who loves action with emotions. 

The Great Indian Kitchen

This movie is on Netflix and you can catch it in Malayalam with English Subtitles if you haven't watched it yet.

What's the movie about?

There are only a few characters and the female protagonist is an educated lady who enjoys classical dance and teaching. It is her story of trying to be a submissive wife married to a person in a traditional Kerala family. Like any other bride, she tries to adapt to new customs and traditions but reaches a saturation point atlast. 





This is directed by Joe Baby and it is critically acclaimed for the way it is bang on patriarchy and the rules set for women in the majority of traditional families.

This movie talks about many subtle things about patriarchy that women can relate to. Cleaning the dirty dining table , washing the dishes, mopping the floor, cooking, and performing Pooja in the evening.. there is no end to the list of tasks that we see the protagonist performing.

The movie also touched on the traditions related to menstruation. The age-old practice of sleeping on the floor during periods, and not being allowed to touch anything, etc., The scene where the woman is scolded for trying to help her husband get up when he falls from the bike sparks our thoughts on why menstruation practices are considered more important than taking care of another person.

I also liked the way the movie ended. The man marries another woman and our heroine takes out her anger on her in-laws and starts her life as a dance teacher as she wanted to. It feels bad that the man marries another woman, but that's how society is and the movie didn't try to hide the truth for a good climax.

Overall, it's not an entertaining movie but a natural movie that Indian women can very well relate to. This movie tries its best to show the ignored unpaid work done by homemakers with a zooming lens.

If you are an Indian woman, then it's a must-watch. If you don't prefer natural movies with social issues, this is not for you.

Until next time,

 




Linking to #MondayMusings hosted by Corinne at everydaygyaan.com






27 March, 2022

Gratitude List

 It's been a long time since I wrote a Gratitude List. But, it's better to be late than never!

So, here it is - My Gratitude List for 3 months :-)

Gratitude List





A Move to Warm weather

Moving from a place after living 5 years is not very easy. Though change seems scary at the beginning, I am glad that we took that step to move to a warm place. 

I have put my health on high priority which is the main reason for the move. I was mentally prepared to move to Austin from Colorado Springs by December and was planning to celebrate the new year in the new place.

This mental preparation took some time before December.  The good thing about me is that I don't waver from my decision / don't think negatively after the decision. I usually prepare myself for the impact of the decision.

This move proved to be good for my health and also for a lot of other reasons. I am grateful to all my friends, colleagues, and students in Colorado Springs where I made many great memories in my life.





New Beginnings and Change

I am grateful that the new beginnings and changes are not as painful as I expected them to be. 

Work:

I happily transitioned to my new work at office due to a supportive team and manager. My team made the transition smooth and I am thankful to God for the opportunity to learn a new programming language. It's really interesting and challenging to learn Kotlin, Appium, and mobile testing. Being promoted to the next level is an added bonus of course.

Dance School:

I am grateful to the temple committee of Sai Baba Temple, Austin for giving me an opportunity to teach Kuchipudi in the temple. I am also grateful to the Parents and students who enrolled in the dance classes here. I settled quickly in the new place and started dance classes from March itself. I am also thankful to the students who are continuing their online classes from Colorado.

The best is yet to come regarding dance classes and I am very excited to train students in Austin, TX.

House:

I loved the house that we live in. We watched the house only once through video chat and I didn't expect it to be perfect. We faced some problems initially but we all loved the house as well as the location. We could walk to the park and a lake nearby. Kids are enjoying biking and playing in the playground nearby. We could find art classes and a Library not very far from here. 

I am really grateful to the old friends from Colorado Springs who moved here one year before us. Their guidance and help are much appreciated. 

Health:

I didn't achieve much but I am happy to be staying nearer to a park where I can go for a walk any day. I could start my Yoga classes again though I could join only twice a week. Due to dance classes, Yoga, and walking, I feel fit and happy. 

Reading:

I have been reading a lot of books lately. I am enjoying my reading time every night before I sleep. I didn't get time to review them on my blog, but the recent one - Inner Trek by Mohan Ranga Rao is impressive. 

If you want to see all the good books that I read, here is my Goodreads link. You can follow me there.


How is your year so far? we will complete our first quarter of the year soon. Should I say this as My Quarterly Gratitude list? 😁

Until next time,



22 March, 2022

Inner Trek : A Reluctant Pilgrim in the Himalayas by Mohan Ranga Rao - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: Inner Trek: A Reluctant Pilgrim in the Himalayas

Author: Mohan Ranga Rao

Genre: Non-Fiction, A travel Memoir

Publisher: Coriander Press (November 30, 2021)

Print Length: 248 pages

Source: A free review copy from Rachel's Random Resources



Blurb:

After being threatened by a Bangalore mob boss, a retired Indian businessman Mohan Ranga Rao makes a vow: if he somehow gets out of the situation, he will thank the gods by going on Kailash Mansarovar, a holy mountain pilgrimage in Tibet. What starts out as merely a challenging high-altitude trek soon becomes a life-changing adventure. With a blend of humor, honesty, and keen insight, Mohan journeys toward a deeper understanding of the world around him.

A memoir of a road less traveled and a true story of self-discovery at 18,000 feet.

“A modern Canterbury Tales, telling of a fascinating real-life adventure.“ Dr. C Naganna, University of Mysore

“A heartwarming read; a spiritual adventure.” Anuradha Goyal, The Mouse Charmers

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Amazon -UK




My Review:

Inner Trek is a travel memoir of Mr. Mohan Ranga Rao, a businessman in Karnataka, India. The book is specifically about the Mt. Kailash Parikrama (Circumbulation) and the visit to Manasa Sarovar lake. This trip is considered holy and auspicious by many religions including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

This trip is not only sacred as Lord Shiva's adobe, considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience but also very dangerous due to the unpredictable weather at high altitudes.

The author mentions in the prelude itself that he is not a religious, but a spiritual person and he is taking this trip seeking an adventure. Eventually, he experiences a spiritual inclination at the end of the trip. He feels insignificant and small leaving all his ego before the majestic mountains in the treacherous trip.

The trek around Mt.Kailash covering 52 km in 3 days through the highest pass Dolma La reaching an elevation of 18000 ft above sea level is an impossible task for a normal person without fitness. Even for a fit person, the high elevation, and less oxygen might become dangerous if they are not acclimatized to the altitude.

What do I like?

I usually don't read non-fiction and I don't quite enjoy that genre unless it feels honest. I liked this book as I felt the author's experience was genuine. Unlike some biographies/memoirs that gravitate towards boasting about their good qualities, the author of this book focused more on the Mt Kailash trip and his experience keeping the unnecessary details to a minimum.

 Like many other Hindus, I also learned and read a lot about Mt.Kailash and this impossible trek. The mystery of the mountain attracts me to learn more. I am happy to have read this book and to know about the weather, sherpas helping the trekkers, treacherous conditions affecting the trip, the people visiting from places around the world, the beauty of nature and the experience of people who could complete circumambulation, etc.,

The photos printed in the book and the maps gave an idea of the trek and helped me to imagine the beauty of the place. By the end of the book, I was elated and had the great satisfaction of knowing about the myths, legends, and facts about Manasa Sarovar. The book is riveting throughout and I never felt bored reading it.


A few snippets that I liked from the book:







There is nothing that I didn't like about this book. It gave me immense satisfaction and I would recommend this book to many other readers who love to read about Mt Kailash and the experience of trekking the Manasa Sarovar. I would also recommend it to the readers who want to know about this life-changing adventure and the spiritual significance of this holy pilgrimage.

My Rating: 5/5

PS: I have received this print copy from Rachel's Random Resources in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion on the book.


About the Author:

Mohan Rango Rao is an accomplished businessman, an avid traveler, and a generous philanthropist. He has visited over thirty different countries and is drawn to places of natural beauty and physically challenging trails. He plays tennis daily, takes frequent hikes, and reads anything from scotch labels to quantum physics to Vedanta.



Until next time,





26 February, 2022

The Oasis on Lake Travis - Austin, Texas - Photo Post

 The Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.

A Photo Post

















Until next time,


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