31 December, 2019

Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Poems, Rants, and Short Stories by Simi K Rao - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title : Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Poems, Rants, and Short Stories
Author : Simi. K. Rao
Genre : Poetry , Short Stories
Print Length : 144 pages
Publisher : Written Dreams Publishing
Source : A review copy from the author


Life is not about achieving perfection, it's about reconciling with your imperfections.

Poems are fragments of life. In Simi K. Rao’s unique poetry collection for women, there are blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. The poems and prose pieces compiling the collection are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree will leave readers wanting for more and have a deep impact on women of all ages.

Purchase Link:

My Review :

This collection of short and sweet poems featured by Simi is like the mirror of life's moments. These poems are some subtle moments expressing the feelings or reminiscing some lovely memories. 

I usually don't enjoy poetry, so I don't pick poetry books to read. But, this poetry is simple to understand and clearly written from the heart. 

I loved some poems like - War, Me is all I can be,  Life an ugly cousin.

The Stranger really reminded me of someone that I know. The poem 'Woman' is heart touching. I can relate to it being an Indian Woman. 

White Room is a good poem about Dementia patients. I loved the poems - Butterfly, Addiction, A seed of doubt, and Words.

The short stories are great too. But, I felt, the way the short stories and poems are organized might have been better. I couldn't see any flow while reading and so, it is like reading some random collection of different emotions. They might have been categorized by something.

I would recommend this book to beginner readers. This book is great as a travel read. 

My Rating : 4/5

About the Author:

Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years.

The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her own experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships, as well as stories and anecdotes collected from friends, family and acquaintances.

Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life.

Much of Rao's down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction, poetry and photography. She is an avid traveler and has visited many locations around the world.

A practicing physician, Rao lives in Denver with her family.

Until next time,

Where Shadows Meet by Colleen Coble - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title: Where Shadows Meet
Author : Colleen Coble
Genre : Suspense. Fiction
Print Length : 336 pages
Publisher : Thomas Nelson
Source : A gift from a blogger friend


“[An] outstanding, completely engaging tale that will have you on the edge of your seat . . . A must-have for all fans of romantic suspense!”*

Hannah is distraught when her parents are murdered—but what makes it worse is that she should have been at home with them . . . not meeting her forbidden love, Reece. Unable to face the community and her guilt, she runs away and marries him.

But Reece isn’t the man she thought he was. He controls her completely, and when she gets pregnant—against his wishes—he pushes her down the stairs as she approaches her due date. When she wakes in the hospital and he tells her the baby died, she knows she’s had enough. She runs again.

Years later, Hannah has become an expert on Amish quilts, and her visibility allows Reece to track her down. He begs her to come back, saying he’s changed—and sends her a picture of their daughter.

This couldn’t be real, could it? Hannah is certain this is just another way he’s trying to manipulate her, but the chance, no matter how slight, of seeing her daughter won’t leave her mind. When another member of her old community is found murdered—by the same poison that killed her parents—old fears surface. Was Reece the one who killed her parents in order to get her away? And is he killing again to get her back?

Purchase Link:
My Review:

This story takes us through the Amish culture, their beliefs and their way of living. This caught my attention throughout the book. The author builds the characters, circumstances in a very convincing way.  

Hanah is a strong character though she takes a wrong decision in her life by choosing the abusive partner Reece. Reece is a complex character to understand and I couldn't get the reason for his abusive behavior even by the end of the book. It would have been great reading more about Reece. 

I liked the way the story goes through different turns and keeps it unpredictable for the reader. The climax is great. I loved the narration which is casual. The pace of the book is good. The author gave different quotes about Amish culture before each chapter and those are really wonderful to read. 

I recommend this book for its genuine storyline, characterization, and emotions. But, I didn't feel it as a romantic Suspense. It is suspense for sure, but only a little bit of romance.

My Rating : 4/5

About the Author:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. 

She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.

28 December, 2019

Gratitude List for November and December 2019 #GratitudeCircle

We have reached the last week of 2019. Are you all ready to ring in the new year in a few days? 

Before we welcome the new year, I think, it's time for us to be grateful for the last few days of 2019. 

Work-life and Flexibility :

November and December have been pretty hectic both in personal and work fronts. So, I am really grateful to my colleagues and my Manager for allowing me to work from home whenever required. This reduces a lot of stress.

Yes, there were many calls that I ended from early morning, worked some extra hours on weekdays, but because of the flexible timings, it became bearable.

Cakes and birthday celebrations :

We celebrated birthdays of some of our colleagues and ate great cakes too. I am grateful for the good and delicious food that I ate these 2 months. 

Books :

In December, I couldn't read as many books as I wanted to, as kids were sick a few days. I am currently reading this romantic novel in bits and pieces from a long time - The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Loved this quick read - Stories in a Satchel

Fun and Easy Crafting is an awesome book and my kids enjoyed making some cool crafts from the book. Whee to the Moon is an inspirational story about the life of Astronaut Neil.

Blue Girl on the night dream Sea is a different story and a good thriller. 

In November, I couldn't read any books as I just joined back to work. I am thankful for all those few hours that I got for reading. 
PC: www.pixabay.com

Family health : 

In December, kids got sick. We had tough days working from home and taking care of them. But, I am grateful that at least we are together and have good medical support. 

These are some of the days when I thought of writing a gratitude list. In tough times, it's better to focus our minds on our blessings, right?

I have joined yoga recently and I am enjoying these classes. I couldn't practice regularly for now but from Jan, I want to spend some time daily on that. I am grateful for the yoga class that's available near to our home.

A long drive :

We always love to travel as a family. Unplanned trips are more fun to me than planned ones. I took one day off for Christmas and took enough rest at home by relaxing and reading books. We also went on an unplanned long drive and the drive was beautiful.

I am grateful to my husband who is a good partner for these sudden travel cravings. 

So, that's about the last 2 months in 2019.

What are you grateful for in December? Do let me know in the comments.

Pin it for later!

Until next time,

Linking this post to #GratitudeCircle blog hop hosted by Vidya Sury.

25 December, 2019

Trees that look like upside down paint brushes #ThursdayTreeLove

Until next time,

Linking this post to #ThursdayTreeLove blog hop hosted by Parul.

24 December, 2019

Stories in a Satchel by Shyamala Shanmugasundaram - [Book Review]

This post may contain affiliate links, clicking on those links may earn some commission to us without any additional cost to you.

Book Details :

Title : Stories in a Satchel
Author: Shyamala Shanmugasundaram
Source : Kindle Edition
Print length : 165 pages


Tanna's wedding is happening soon. He takes it on himself to clean the house and stumbles upon a satchel belonging to his dead postman father. Even worse, he discovers a bunch of letters that never got mailed. Tanna almost tosses the letters out but acting on an instinct of responsibility, he decides to post them. 

What happens to people when these letters arrive after more than a decade is explored through twenty-six stories that contain generous doses of love, betrayal, suspicion, frustration, ambition, and redemption. 

Strangely, each person would have chosen a different route in life had they received them in time…A misplaced letter, a new path…such is LIFE!

Purchase Link: 

My Review:

The collection of stories is about some unposted letters found in a satchel. When these letters are posted after so many years, they bring a mix of emotions in the people who receive them.

The concept is beautiful and each story though simple strikes an emotional chord in the hearts of readers. 

The Late winner is a simple story about a fictional piece submitted to the editor for a contest. The thought of what happens when bullets can become roses is interesting indeed.

Ambani heights Mani is a beautiful story of fate. How the life of a building security guard changed overnight with one letter. I loved the story.

The Closed Door - interesting characters. The climax was disappointing though.

Google Baba is a cool story with a tinge of humor. Nowadays, who doesn't know the helpfulness of Google?

Clipper is an emotional tale about relationships and trust. This is one story that shows how a single letter can break the trust or a strong relationship.

The story Second Chance is awesome. How good it would be if parents can take an act of revenge against the kids who completely ignore their parents after growing up.

Actually,  every story is beautiful with the required emotions.  If I have to do justice to the book, I should mention all stories. Since I cannot, I would simply say my rating.

My Rating : 5/5

I would recommend this book as a good gift, not only to the avid readers but to the beginner readers too.

About the Author:
Shyamala Shanmugasundaram is an author, freelance writer and the chief ideator of Kahani Takbak, a platform to promote Indian children's books, authors and illustrators.

 Reading and writing for children have been her priority over the last fifteen years. Her written works have appeared in national and international books, magazines and newspapers. 

Stories in A Satchel is her first short story collection for adults. To know more about her, visit www.shyamala.in

Until next time,

19 December, 2019

Blue Girl on a night dream sea by Ginny Fite - [ Book Review]

Join Us for This Tour From Dec 2 to Dec 20, 2019!

Book Details:

Book Title Blue Girl on a Night Dream Sea by Ginny Fite

CategoryAdult Fiction, 274 pages

Suspense/Paranormal/Time Travel

Publisher:  Black Opal Books

Release date:   September, 2019

Tour dates: Dec 2 to Dec 20, 2019

Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are no explicit sex scenes but an implied threat of rape; there is some rough language)

Blue Girl on a Night Dream Sea is a
combination time-travel fantasy, a historical thriller, and a modern-day
suspense. Well written, fast paced, and intense, this one will keep you
glued to the edge of your seat all the way through.  –says Reviewer Regan Murphy

Expertly combining the past and present, science fiction, and suspense,
Fite weaves a tale that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end. –says Reviewer Taylor Jones

Book Description:

Sometimes the last
person you save is yourself. Elena must take her city back from
terrorists. Hana must save her tribe from the wrath of a ruthless king.
They’re stronger together. The problem is they’re 4,000 years and 6,000
miles apart. Wounded during a terrorist attack, NYC police commando
Elena Labat wakes from her coma aboard a Phoenician boat on the
Mediterranean Sea to find a young girl lashed to the mast. The girl is
Hana, who has trekked across Bronze Age Lebanon with Danel to prevent a
king from destroying her tribe. Elena knows she must save Hana. And Hana
must escape the barbarians who abducted her before she can find Danel
and go home. Slipping in and out of unconsciousness, Elena teaches Hana
everything she can, protecting her from barbarians, a priestess, and a
king. But Elena’s family needs her, and she can’t stay in the past. Hana
will have to succeed on her own.

My Review :

Wow! I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. This book blurb is very interesting and this helped me to pick this book.

The story of 2 strong women from 2 different time periods intersecting at one point is an interesting theme to build a story on. Elena and Hana are both different and strong characters portrayed so well by the author. Even though we are reading 2 stories in parallel,  one story didn't over shadow the other.

The climax is convincing and Hana won my heart for her courage. The book cover is simple and the title of the book is very apt to the story. 

My Rating: 4/5

I would recommend this to all readers who would love to read stories of 2 wonderful women from different time periods.

Ps: I have received this book from Iread book tours in exchange of a review and this is my honest opinion in the book.

Meet the Author:

Ginny Fite is an award-winning journalist who has
covered crime, politics, government, healthcare, art and all things
human. She has been a spokesperson for a governor and a member of
Congress, a few colleges and universities, and a robotics R&D
company. She has degrees from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins
University and studied at the School for Women Healers and the Maryland
Poetry Therapy Institute. Her three murder mysteries, Cromwell’s Folly, No Good Deed Left Undone, and Lying, Cheating, and Occasionally Murder, are set in the rolling hills of Jefferson County, West Virginia. No End of Bad, a thriller, was released in June 2018. She resides in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the Author:  website  ~ facebook  ~ twitter

Tour Schedule:

Dec 2 - Olio by Marilyn – book review / author interview / giveaway

Dec 2 - Rockin' Book Reviews - book review / guest post / giveaway

Dec 3 - Gwendalyn’s Books – book review / giveaway

Dec 4 - JB's Bookworms with Brandy Mulder – book review / giveaway

Dec 5 - A Madison Mom – book review

Dec 10 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / author interview / giveaway

Dec 11 - I'm All About Books – book spotlight/ guest post / giveaway

Dec 12 - Four Moon Reviews – book review / giveaway

Dec 12 - The Clipped Nightingale – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Dec 13 - My Reading Journeys – book review / giveaway

Dec 16 - Laura's Interests – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway

Dec 16 - Jypsylynn - book review

Dec 17 - Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway

Dec 17 -Bookmark and fork - book review / guest post

Dec 17 - 100 Pages A Day - book review

Dec 18 - Book Corner News and Reviews - book review / giveaway

Dec 18 - StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Dec 19 - Fantastic feathers – book review

Dec 20 - Adventurous Jessy - book review / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

11 December, 2019

Just wow! #ThursdayTreeLove

Just wow! Right?

Until next time,

Linking this post to #ThursdayTreeLove blog hop hosted by Parul.

10 December, 2019

Whee to the Moon by Arron Charman - [Book Review]


Neil is a young boy who likes to scream “whee!” with excitement when he’s at the playground. Neil develops a love of flying. As he gets older, he learns how to fly aircraft that will take him on many different adventures. Even though he is now a grown up, Neil still excitedly screams “whee!” as he gets to fly all the way to the Moon!

Information about the Book

Title: Whee to the Moon
Author: Arron Charman
Release Date: 24th September 2019
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 34
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

My Review:

This story is about Neil's ambition and passion towards flying, space and the Moon mission. This book talks about the each phase in Neil's life which shaped him adventurous. The illustrations are apt, supporting the incidents in his life. 

My 8 year old Son really loved the story as he is also interested in Space missions. I loved the way the story is written in a simple way for kids. 'Whee to the moon' is the perfect title. 

I recommend this book to all kids above 6 years of age. 4 to 6 years kids also will love this when parents read to them.

My Rating: 5/5

Until next time,

07 December, 2019

5 Unconventional Gift ideas for this holiday season #WordsMatter

Here comes the Holiday Season. Many might have started planning holiday gifts to family, friends and colleagues and searching for some unique unconventional gifts.

This season excites me even though we don't celebrate Christmas and give presents. Everything about gifting including choosing gifts, wrapping them, writing personal notes, preparing greeting cards is interesting to me.

This month's prompt for #WordsMatter blog hop is "If I could give/receive one gift..".

Here is a Local Colorado Gift guide written by me with a consolidated list of Colorado local businesses and products.

Since we read many holiday gift guides and ideas, let me write about some unconventional gifts that I would like to receive.

Here are my Top 5 Unconventional Gift ideas:

Indoor Plants :

I love my house decorated with indoor plants. They add the extra beauty to our house, right? In the locations like we stay, it's cold from November itself, and so, we cannot do much gardening. 

So, for people like us, some gift ideas would be Succulents which are easy to maintain. Some suggestions are - Jade plants, Silver dollar plant, Chinese money plant, Oxalis etc.,

Lessons :

There are many options if we want to gift lessons. 

A couple Salsa lesson, Sky diving lessons for adventure kind, Painting classes, Cooking lessons etc.,

I have attended a painting class once and I feel, it's the best gift that we can give to anyone. There is no need of experience in painting to attend this class, they teach and make us paint in a casual environment.

Travel Packages :

The good thing about gifting a travel package is that there can be a lot of variety. 

A skiing trip couple package, one night stay accommodation in a resort with mountain / beach view, a day package of any resort, Snowshoeing/ snowmobile package etc., 

Here are some Winter activities to try in Colorado.

With Airbnb and Vrbo, it has become easy to book any unique accommodation quickly. Airbnb is also introducing the day tour packages and activities/ travel experiences for specific cities.


But, when we get someone any package, we should see that they have enough time to use it. Else, the packages might expire and get wasted.

Beauty and Spa Packages :

Who doesn't love a relaxing package as gift?
How about - A spa treatment,
Pedicure / facial in good beauty salon,
Body massage etc., 

Groupon usually will have some or the other local deals and it is not tough to get a good package at lower price.
In today's stressful lives, these treatments make good gifts.

Food :

Any day, Comfort food is always the best gift. We cannot ourselves buy sweets , desserts, ice cream and indulge a lot thinking about our weight. But, If we get a box of donuts or a new flavor of ice cream, can we reject? 
We gladly accept right?


In India, we gift sweets for Diwali. So, we already follow this. But, we can think of different ideas like cupcakes, brownies, donuts, ice cream etc.,

So, Those are a few gifts that I would love to receive :-)
Anyone listening?

Until next time,

This post is written as part of #WordsMatter blog hop hosted by CorinneParul and Shalini.

I received this tag from Pragnya. It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Sunita

There are 25  of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 6th, 7th and 8th December  2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised! 

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