06 April, 2020

D for Denver #A2ZChallenge

#Day4 of A2Z Blogging Challenge where I am posting some best places to visit in Colorado.

D for Denver

There are no second thoughts on this. I remember only Denver for letter D. 
Denver, which is also known as Mile-high city is at the center of Colorado and the state capital. 

Bear statue at Colorado Convention Center
PC: www.pixabay.com

Denver is a hot and happening place with skyscrapers and entertainment for all ages. It is called 'Mile-high' city as it is exactly at an elevation of 1 mile - 5280 ft from sea level.

While there are multiple places to see in Denver, here are some of my favorite:

Denver Union Station, Denver Botanic Gardens, The Downtown, Mt. Evans Scenic Byway (2hrs away), Rocky Mountain National Park (1.5 hrs away), Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Red Rocks Amphitheater (30 mins away), Elitch Gardens Theme Park, Coors Brewery tours, Hammond Chocolate Factory, etc.,

Until next time,

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05 April, 2020

MagicAuthor.com for Aspiring writers


MagicAuthor.com was founded in the year 2012 by Mr. Saptharishi Suresh, with a humble mission to help aspiring writers to establish themselves. Mr. Saptharishi Suresh is an avid reader and a published author. His challenges with publishing his first book compelled him to think of something else, a platform where writers can publish their work without the hassle. His journey to create MagicAuthor.com was a long road. It took him nearly 5 years to create MagicAuthor.com and make a recognized platform by authors, readers, and publishers.

Along the way, he noticed it was very difficult to publish books in regional languages, where there are many options for books in English. So, he wanted to create an online space for the literature that includes English as well as regional languages.

MagicAuthor.com, a writing platform for all age groupsthey have started an initiative where kids can upload and showcase their works online. It can be an artwork, or stories or a video/photo of craftwork.

He wants MagicAuthor.com foray into podcasts and audio-books; he aspires to make MagicAuthor.com LinkedIn for the author’s community.

About MagicAuthor.com:

MagicAuthor.com is one of a kind platform, in which, using their book wizard authors can create eBooks from scratch and also design a cover image and publish them online. If you've already created an eBook in PDF or ePubformat then you can simply upload it to their e-commerce platform. It is a unique initiative dedicated to authors, designers, and publishers, etc. to create eBooks in formats like ePUB, PDF, and MOBI. 

MagicAuthor.com is a publishing services provider. They provide authors with tools and services that enable them to publish and sell their own books.

MagicAuthor.com also distributes eBooks to Google play store.

Unique Features of Magicauthor.com:

  • One of the best things is that MagicAuthor.com is free to use; No upfront costs involved.
  • MagicAuthor.com encourages eBooks to be on any topic or genre.
  • MagicAuthor.com supports most of the Indian languages. So far, they have released eBooks in Assamese, Konkani (Romi&Devanagiri scripts), Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, and English. 
  • The platform also supports promoting books published elsewhere.
  • Other features include creating blogs, discussing literature, asking/answering questions related to writing and publishing on our community site
  • You can follow your favorite authors. So, if you are looking to develop a fan base and stay connected with your readers, then create a writer profile at their site.
  • If you are a publisher or a business, then you can leverage their community to nurture, engage and retain your followers.
    Please check out some of the free tools available for authors, designers, and publishers.

    Saptharishi Suresh (Founder of MagicAuthor.com):

    Saptharishi Suresh is a published author and an art enthusiast. He wrote his first story at the age of ten and done many paintings during his childhood. Later, as an adult, he reproduced the same online at Saptharishi - Thinketh Undefined.

    Though his interests were in arts and literature, he couldn't pursue it as a profession, thanks to the lack of guidance and peer pressure. He decided to pursue engineering and became a software engineer in the year 2005.  After a couple of years into the profession, he realized the need to revive his childhood interests as something in him was feeling lonely. He set up a blogging website called Saptharishi - Thinketh Undefined in 2008 and started writing on a wide variety of topics like short stories, painting, spiritual, tourism, and even technology. With the website getting popular, he decided to take the plunge of publishing his first novel TheWake-up Call" in the year 2010. 

    Getting his first book published was not easy at all and he learned a lot about the challenges involved in the process.  Being a software engineer he thought of leveraging his software skills to aid in the publishing process. He wanted to make life easy for other authors. Hence he set up the platform called "Magic Author" (https://www.magicauthor.com) in the year 2012. Since then he has helped authors and creative artists build their reputation online. He spends most of his time exploring how authors can leverage the internet benefiting both themselves and the communities around them.

    Catch up with Saptharishi Suresh On: 

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Linkedin

    Until next time,

    C for Colorado Springs #A2ZChallenge

    #Day3 of A2Z Blogging Challenge where I am posting some best places to visit in Colorado.

    C for Colorado Springs

    This scenic and peaceful town near the Pikes peak mountain is at an elevation of around 6000ft from sea level. 

    Colorado Springs travel
    Wall paper perfect scenery

    A few things that I feel unique about this place are:

    1. It has so many scenic places around - Cave of the Winds, Pikes Peak Highway, Garden of the Gods, Broadmoor Seven Falls, Air Force Academy are just a few of them.

    2. It is just a few hours away from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, Royal Gorge, Interpretive Paint Mines, Bishop Castle, etc.,

    3. Less traffic, Good hiking trails and beautiful mountain views.

    This might be the reason why Colorado Springs is one of the best places to live in Colorado.

    Until next time,

    Other Posts from A2Z:

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    03 April, 2020

    B for Breckenridge #A2ZChallenge

    #Day2 of A2Z Blogging Challenge where I will post some best places to visit in Colorado.

    We have passed through this popular ski town many times but didn't get an opportunity to stay there.

    Breckenridge is not only a ski town but a popular attraction for biking and hiking. I heard, watching the wildflowers in Summer through biking is interesting. Breckenridge also holds the International snow sculpture competitions every year and those sculptures are one in a million.

    There are a lot of fun things to do in Breckenridge:

    Winter: Snowcat adventures, Sledding, scenic Sleigh rides, Free Gondola rides, of course Skiing!
    Fall:  Minnie Mine Trail, Pence Miller Trail, Breckenridge to Frisco drive, Drive to Boreas pass
    Summer: Hiking, Biking, White Water Rafting, Ziplining, and Epic Discovery

    Breckenridge,  Colorado
    Pc: www.pixabay.com

    Until next time, 

    #Day1 - A for Aspen
    #Day3 - C for Colorado Springs

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    Places to See in Colorado

    Love, Marriage and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj - Release Day Blitz

    ~ Release Day Blitz ~
    Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

    Releasing Today on Amazon!

    About the Book:

    She believes in love, family and…squiggles!

    Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

    Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

    Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin's prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He's never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

    And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He's Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

    What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the 'right' man or a chance at happiness with the 'wrong' one?

    Book Links:

    Goodreads * Amazon

    Enjoy the Quotes from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

    About Shilpa Suraj:

    Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

    An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

    Shilpa on the Web:

    Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

    Until next time,

    02 April, 2020

    A for Aspen #AtoZChallenge

    I am Joining the bandwagon with other bloggers for A2Z challenge this month.

    I am going to Cover Colorado places or towns to visit for each letter of the alphabet.

    A virtual tour of places during #socialdistancing.  Sounds good?

    #Day1 of A2Z Blogging Challenge 

    Aspen During the Fall

    Aspen is the first mountain town in Colorado that I fell in love with. The Gondola rides on Snowmass and Aspen mountains,  the trail to Maroon bells in the fall season, the drive-through Independence pass are some of the most memorable experiences in our Aspen trip.

    Here is a travelogue of Aspen.

    Until next time,

    #Day2 - B for Breckenridge

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    30 March, 2020

    Sealed by Naomi Booth - [Book Review]

    Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these.

    Book Details:

    Title : Sealed
    Author: Naomi Booth
    Genre: Horror, Suspense, thriller, Psychological literary fiction
    Print Length: 240 pages
    Publisher : Titan Books
    Sold by : Penguin Random House Publisher Services
    Source: A copy from the local library


    Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies

    Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.

    Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them.

    Purchase Link :

    My Review :

    I am very picky when I have to select some random books from the library. I always scroll through best sellers or read the blurb and decide. The blurb and cover of this book seemed interesting.

    Sealed is a psychological thriller. The suspense lies in many aspects - the plot, a disease with unknown reason, the narration of the story, the characters, the scenes, the environment etc., I really liked the narration. At a few places, the thoughts of the protagonist itself are spine chilling. 

    The story starts with Alice and Pete moving to the quiet mountain town away from city life, planning to start their new life with baby. But the fears of the past are not easy to forget. 

    Alice who used to work in a government office is haunted by the events, people and her investigations related to a disease 'Cutis' which seals some parts of the body making people die. The reason is not known, but Alice finds through her investigations that the disease might be due to air pollution, heat waves, chemicals etc., Wherever she goes, whatever she eats, she is concerned and scared about catching Cutis. 

    To add to the problems, she is heavily pregnant and there are no medical facilities in the place they move. Without even a working phone line or internet connection, she is isolated. Pete strikes off her anxiety as pregnancy hormones and she doesn't have anyone to clear her doubts about her current state of body and mind.

    The story takes some unpredictable turns after this and there are shocking scenes in the climax. The ordeal she has to go through alone makes us numb with shock. 

    I liked the suspense and narration. I would have loved to read an epilogue or prologue about Cutis. If you love mystery and psychological fiction, you will love this.

    My Rating : 4.5/ 5

    Until next time,

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    Sealed by Naomi Booth - Book Review

    27 March, 2020

    Route 13 : Highway to Hell - [Book Review]

    Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these.

    Book Details:

    Title: Route 13: Highway to Hell
    Varadharajan Ramesh (Goodreads Author),
    Srivalli Rekha (Goodreads Author)
    Priya Bajpai (Goodreads Author)
    Meha Sharma
    Sarveswari Sai Krishna
    Ell P
    Anshu Bhojnagarwala
    Venkataraman Ganesan
    Kanika G. 

    Tina Sequeira 
    Jaya Pillai, Sreeparna Sen, Yatindra Tawde 
    The Hive
    Genre: Horror
    Print Length: 290 pages
    Publisher: The Hive
    Source: A free e-review copy from the author


    What happens when 13 writers of horror are trapped in a bus on a stormy night?

    They try to outdo one another with blood-curdling, spine-chilling tales. Read these riveting, terrifying tales, where the authors themselves become the characters.

    Be warned; it is Route 13- a highway to hell. Will you survive the journey?

    Trigger warning: This book contains scenes of abuse, violence, death, rape, and swearing. It includes instances of children being harmed.

    Note: The stories are written in US and UK English.

    Purchase Link:

    My Review:

    I love horror and short stories as well. This book is a collection of 13 unique horror stories. But, I should warn you that it is not for children and there are certain scenes related to rape, abuse, and violence in some stories.

    The book starts with different authors traveling on a bus getting bored about passing time until they reach the destination. So, each author recites a thriller/ horror story one after the other to pass time. What happens to the Bus and the passengers on that dark rainy night is a suspense.

    Stories :

    Welcome by Sarveshwari is spine chilling but it is disappointing that we can't understand the reason behind the happenings in the story.

    Pastel of the past by Priya Bajpai is beautiful with enough twists and a great climax.

    Ill-conceived by Meha sharma felt wonderful. The story is unpredictable and had good twists.

    The silver beast by Srivalli Rekha is interesting and emotional as well. I loved the narration and pace.

    Old McDonald had a farm by Varadharajan Ramesh is a supernatural revenge story that is awesome though gory.

    The Haveli by Anshu B is real with emotions. Not very scary to me but I loved the way the author explains the Rajasthani dishes, culture, and houses as part of the story.

    The Artist by Yatindra Tawde is quite a creepy and unique story. Enjoyed reading it.

    The adventures of a Virgin by Tina Sequeira
    Wow! This is dark, intense and mysterious with unpredictable twists in the story.

    Macabre melody by Sreeparna sen
    I enjoyed this story. It is like a moral story that we read in childhood but not that scary.

    Memory of a face by Kanika G is a scary one based on suppressed memory. The mind plays really dangerous games!

    The case of Seance by Ell P
    Oh my God! This story is my favorite from this book. A perfect horror, best narration, and a climax like a bang.

    The following 100 word stories are nice and worth a mention.

    The Environmentalist by Shwetha Bose, Mistaken Identity by Pavi Raman, Nurse Elena - Riddhi Katira Bhatti, The Spirit - Moonmoon Chowdhury, Forbidden - Natasha Sequeira, and The Specimen - Seema Taneja.

    Overall, this is an interesting collection of horror stories that you might enjoy on a lazy day. The book cover is great. The climax is good. I wish, a few stories are scarier.

    My Rating: 4/5

    PS: I have received a review copy from the author and this is my honest opinion on the book.

    Until next time,

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    Route 13 : Highway to Hell - Book review

    22 March, 2020

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home

    “Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these”

     Due to #CoronaVirus, work from home policies for Parents and schools being off to kids, it's becoming stressful for parents to engage kids for the whole day and also manage work and home.

     The current situation seems like this #SelfQuarantine will stay till April end or the worst-case till August.  The main question is how do we engage kids all these days without them being bored?

    Like all other mothers, I have been collecting a lot of information on Educational apps, interactive online learning programs, different activities and exploring the family movies as well from the past 1 week. 

    So, Here is the list that I finalized which might help you as well if you have kids around 5 to 8 years of age.

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home

    1. Educational Activities / Apps
    2. Entertainment
    3. Games
    4. Creative Fun
    5. Books
    6. Free Play
    7. House help and Learning
    8. Hobbies or Learning New skills
    9. Physical exercise
    10. Cleaning up and Recycling

    I have divided all activities into these 10 categories. There might be a bit overlap between each one of them, but they sure make your kids busy and engaged.

    1. Educational Activities / Apps

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home
    PC: www.pixabay.com

    Recently, all our social media exploded with shares on Global learning resources and apps for kids both free and paid. I have got a big list which I collected from multiple sources.

    Online resources:

    - BrainPop
    - Curiosity Stream
    - Tynker
    - Outschool
    - Udemy
    - iReady
    - Beast Academy (Math)
    - Khan Academy
    - Creative Bug
    - Discovery Education
    - Adapted mind 1-month free trial
    - Scholastic Resources
    - Freckles
    - Lexia

    I am sure you can find a lot of other resources as well online. 2 to 4 hrs a day on these platforms might be good to engage them.

    2. Entertainment

    Why can't this #SelfQuarantine be some fun? There are a lot of good Children and Family movies in multiple networks/channels. I need not tell much if you have Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription. Options are a lot.

    We are watching one good movie a day these days and here are some of our favorites:

    • A Journey to the Center of the Earth
    • National Treasure
    • Indiana Jones - All parts
    • Jumanji
    • 2012
    • Monster House
    • Back to the Future - All parts
    • Bee Movie
    • Leap
    • Chicken Little
    • Kungfu Panda - 2 parts
    • Hotel Transylvania - All Parts
    • Trolls - All Parts
    • Ralph Breaks the Internet
    • Up
    • Incredibles
    • Bolt
    • Richie Rich
    • Spiderman
    • The Karate Kid
    • Gnome Alone

    The list is soooo big to type here. We also watch some good Netflix series. Read this post to know our favorite from Netflix

    One more option is unlimited free videos on Youtube. Youtube has some educational and learning options as well. Here is a list of good options from youtube

    3. Games

    We have many options for the card and board games to play at home as a family. While games like Scrabble and Monopoly take hours and hours, it is easy to get kids engaged for a long time. Chess, Checkers, Ludo, Chinese Checkers, Battleship, UNO, Zenga etc., ensure fun. 

    We also like word building, anthyakshari, spending time on legos, building blocks and all other toys from cars to drones.

    We don't encourage games on phones and tablets to avoid strain on the eyes. 

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home
    PC: www.pixabay.com

    4. Creative Fun

    I love spending time making crafts with my kids. I feel Origami is easy to follow and learn quick. I usually search for craft ideas on Pinterest and try to make them. We use a lot of waste material for crafts like Egg cartons, toilet rolls, pistachio shells, Ice cream sticks, straws, etc., 

    Check this awesome book to get ideas on crafting and my review here.

    Got this book for review and we are yet to try all the Origami exercises in this book:

    Also, check these craft related books from Amazon:

    5. Books

    Fortunately, we could go to our local library before it's closed due to #CoronaVirus and get some good books for us. If libraries are closed, try downloading some books on Kindle. There are many free books available on Kindle.

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home
    PC : www.pixabay.com

    We enjoy reading books every day for at least 1 hr. My elder one even reads out stories to the younger one. I feel so proud of watching their interest in books.

    I loved this cursive handwriting book. My 8 yr old practices cursive writing with the exercises given in the book.

    This book is very useful - 300 write and learn sight words for my 5 yr old.

    Logic puzzles for Clever Kids by Molly Lynch is very useful for my 5yr old to work on puzzles on his own without my guidance.

    Got this book for review too - Creativity for Kids by Trisha Riche. It is lovely and detailed.

    We just started reading this Holiday Stories by Ruskin Bond and these stories are amazing!

    So, those are some book suggestions from me. Check it out!

    6. Free Play

    We need not be organized and go by schedule every day right? So, we leave our kids for free play at least 2 to 3 hrs a day. They do a lot of imaginative play as well. Since they cannot play hide and seek or tag inside the home, they build castles with pillows and blankets and imagine ruling in a kingdom.

    They build cities, roads, structures with legos and building blocks and play treasure hunts. I am happy that they think creatively when they get time for free play. Once, they built tankers and created a war scene with soldiers and canons. Cool, Isn't it?

    Top 10 activities for kids
    PC: www.pixabay.com

    We just came out from a walk around our apartment and they enjoyed a snowball fight. Never underestimate the free play as it is good for their imagination.

    7. House Help and Learning

    I never helped my mom in my childhood. But, I don't want my kids to make this mistake. Fortunately, they have an interest in learning cooking and helping me with chores. 

    My kids can make cheese sandwiches, popcorn in the microwave and eat their snack when I am busy. The elder one wanted to learn to make an omelet but I am telling him to wait for one more year. Nowadays, setting up the table for dinner is completely their job. They are able to help me in the laundry and bring hangers while arranging clothes after laundry.

    Since we are at home now as schools are closed, I feel this is a great opportunity to teach kids some life skills. Don't you agree?

    8. Hobbies or Learning new skills

    We all love painting. So, I usually play Youtube painting tutorials and encourage my kids to paint. I am also teaching my elder one the technique of Zentangle. My younger one is still 5 yrs, but there is a lot of material available for them to paint like animals, birds etc., with step by step instructions on youtube. We also enjoy coloring.

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home
    PC: www.pixabay.com

    My kids are learning Spanish in school, so we are watching Beginner level videos to improve on that. I also teach our mother tongue Telugu at home, So they are working on learning that language at home. My next plan after 2 years is to start teaching the Hindi language. 

    My elder one is learning music too and I believe, the arts like Dance and music should be introduced to kids right from 6yrs of age. These will help them in improving their focus and memory in the long term.

    9. Physical Excercise

    Physical exercise has hit hard after schools are closed. How can I ensure kids get enough physical exercise at home?

    One option that we can consider is yoga / Aerobics. If we cannot take them to swimming classes, at least we can make them do aerobic exercises or yoga. Simple warmup exercises like jumping jacks and stretches might help too. Anybody using skipping rope these days? 

    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home
    PC: www.pixabay.com

    10. Cleaning up and Recycling 

    At last, since schools are closed, we got time for some cleanup. Many old toys that are not being used, which are damaged, cannot be fixed or which will not be played again are sorted out and separated. Cleaning up of toy room is the biggest task always for me. This time, both kids participated in the activity and finished it successfully.

    We are also working on a few things that can be sent for recycling - old batteries, plastic bags, old clothes that can be donated etc., I think, everybody should spend time on this activity. 

    Cleaner rooms, Fewer items, less clutter implies Peaceful and Happy home, right?

    So, these are my suggestions to keep kids engaged at home. Any more ideas? Please do share in the comments.

    Until next time,

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    Top 10 Activities to engage kids at home
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