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Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Seriously... I'm Kidding. (Mindscape Reviews)





Hi Readers! I just finished my 20th book of the year! I read ‘Seriously… I’m Kidding’ by Ellen DeGeneres. This is her third book, but the first one that I read authored by her. Please don’t hate me for this review. I love Ellen as much as the next person, but Ellen – the author, is not my cup of tea.





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So, I decided to read this book based on a recommendation by Prajakta Koli (mostlysane) In her latest video, she recommended a few books, so I thought, sure, why not! You can’t go wrong with Ellen. So, I started reading it. Soon enough, I knew I was going to hate it. In this book, there are a lot of chapters, all different, all equally bizarre & random. But, the highlight of the book is that she has addressed it to all the different kinds of readers. There are chapters for children which are turned into a colouring book. There is a chapter for teenagers & adults. She has also dedicated a chapter for audio listeners of the book. Pretty cool, right? I loved the idea that there is something for everyone.

The key takeaways from the book are quite important. Ellen talks about happiness, success, failures, embracing weirdness, importance on health, making decisions, ageing, Planet Earth, trusting people & ourselves & Planet Earth. And, most importantly, how Pros & Cons Lists work! She also fixates on how we have forgotten our basic manners, how lazy we have become, how we shouldn’t believe in stereotypes, why it is important to make decisions even if it’s not always simple & how much she loves all her animals! While talking about these important matters, she always keeps it funny, so that it’s not serious. Like when she talks about getting something when you visit someone-
"There are some people who refuse to bring anything when they go to someone’s house. Here’s my solution for people like that. When you go to their house you take something. You bring a bottle of wine, you take their microwave. You bring a Bundt cake. You take their car. It’s yin and yang.”

Even I found this hilarious! So, even when talking about global warming & how we are going to die because of climate change, she manages to keep it hilarious. Yep. At times, there are entire chapters like this. No point, just rants. Some are lists, like “5 Extremely Easy Ways to Make A Lot of Money” or “Gambling Tips”. Something for everything.


~~FINAL THOUGHTS~~
I have rated this at 2.5/5 on Goodreads. While reading this book, it felt like I am reading a manuscript of Ellen’s stand-up comedy. Because I knew if she was doing a stand up of the book, it would be 10 times funnier. But, a book isn’t supposed to be a manuscript. It should be readable. The reader should be able to enjoy it even if you are rambling on. When it comes to reading, this rambling just gives a headache. There was a chapter named “Dreams” towards the end which was too much of a headache. I hated it. And, it has nothing to do with the fact that Ellen made me, the reader, into a Komodo dragon.

I had read 2 of Nora Ephron’s similar books & I had enjoyed them! It never felt like a manuscript. It was meant to be made into a book. It was even a lot funny at times. Maybe if I hadn’t read these books, I’d have found Ellen’s book funny. But, no. This book just didn’t do it for me. Have you read this book? Did you like it?
Until next time,

Sunday, 28 July 2019

My Lovely Wife. (Mindscape Reviews)



Hi Readers! I know you must wonder. 2 posts in 2 days! Since I am home since almost a week, I read books. I finished reading this book ‘My Lovely Wife’ by Samantha Downing in mere 2 days. As always, I saw this recommendation in many reading lists, which finally made me read it. And, read, I did. I was at it constantly all day! I’m pretty sure I’d have finished it in one seating, if I had stayed up. So, anyway, here goes the review!
It’s impossible to review this without giving out spoilers, so there are all kinds of spoilers ahead. Beware!!




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In ‘My Lovely Wife’, the protagonists are a couple who are married for fourteen years with 2 kids, who live in a nice neighborhood & have decent jobs. It’s almost another too boring of a family. But, not quite, because they have their own dirty little secret. Their hobby involves kidnapping women, torturing them & then murdering them. With such an interesting story line, it is impossible to put the book down. But when you read such a riveting novel in such a short span of time, it’s pretty much like watching a murder documentary, only it’s way more intense. At times, you do need to pause to gasp for breath because of the intensity of it all.

The husband and wife are quite the duo. In the past, their sweet start & romantic little things of their relationship are shown with these ‘love forever’ type stories. While, in the present, what keeps them intimate is a murder plan which is extremely creepy. It feels as if these are two totally different stories. The funny thing is they trust each other almost too much, but it never really pours through. It’s like a naked emotion. Dry words that mean nothing. And soon enough, it turns out exactly like that. 

In almost 75% of the book, it is shown how meticulously the couple plans these kidnapping & murders. And then, boom! In the remaining 25% of the book, the wife sets up the husband for all the murders. Shocking, isn’t it? Now, if you are an experienced crime thriller reader like me, you will see this coming. You will have a general idea, because it’s impossible to actually know the depths of the wife's cruel plan. For all the little things that seem inconsequential in the first 75%, there is an explanation in the remaining 25%. The author has written it brilliantly keeping every little thing in perspective. Ingenious.

Even if you don’t like the beginning or if you think that it’s slow, just keep at it. You won’t be disappointed. The story is a bit predictable, given the vulnerable title of the book, but it is worth it. In the disguise of a simple story line, it is a roller coaster underneath. It gave me major ‘Gone Girl’ vibes, so if you liked that, you will like this. I have rated it at 4/5 on Goodreads! Go on this roller coaster & have fun!
Until next time,

Friday, 26 July 2019

The Hate U Give. (Mindscape Reviews)






Hi Readers! I have missed you all! July has surely been uneventful. I feel like I was sick for the entire month. But, since I was sick, I had nothing much to do than lie in bed all day & read! I finished this novel ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas in the last few days. Ever since I read the snippet of what it's about, I knew I would love it. Here goes the review!





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~~INTRODUCTION~~
‘The Hate U Give’ is what I would call modern revolutionary novel that will be termed as a ‘classic’ few decades down the line. It's focus is on why Black Lives Matter. It is all about how, even in the 21st century, there is still discrimination against people of colour, how they are treated by the police & how there is still so much prejudice involved. It really shows how much needs to change & after reading the novel, it feels like it will still take decades for things to change.

This novel will leave you with something to think about. As I am neither a black or a white person, I can never fully understand how people of colour actually feel about the discrimination, but this book got it real close. What’s wrong is wrong & it doesn’t take race to understand that.

This is the first novel of Angie Thomas that I have read. I had heard a lot about it, obviously. Her writing is really good. You can easily imagine everything from her writing; from character to scenes. At first, I thought the story was a bit stretched, but then I realized that it was only practical. In reality, it takes time for the whole police inspection, legal proceedings etc to carry on. The writing completely justifies the story.

~~CHARACTERS~~
The main character here is Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black girl who has 2 personalities. The community she lives in (Garden Heights) is where she is mostly her most amazing true self. The school she goes to (Williamson) which is almost 97% full of white kids, is where she is her quiet sophisticated self. She never mixes these two personalities until all hell breaks loose. Also, she has a thing for Jordan shoes.

Starr’s family includes her mom, dad, half-brother Seven & younger brother Sekani. They are a tight knit family. The kids in this family are taught right & brought up well. She is also close to her maternal uncle Carlos, who is a cop.
Chris, as I quote her dad say it, is a plain-ass white boyfriend of Starr’s. Her Garden Heights friends include Kenya & Khalil, while her Williamson friends are Hailey & Maya.

King is the drug leader of the group King Lords. His wife Iesha is Seven’s mom. They have 2 girls; Kenya & Lyric. The other drug group is the Garden Disciples.
~~STORY LINE~~
It all starts when Starr & Khalil flee from a party because of shots getting fired. Once they are away & on the road, they are stopped by a cop & soon after the same cop fires 3 shots which murder Khalil.
In the eyes of cops, Khalil Harris was a black kid with a temper & assumed to be a drug dealer. In Starr's eyes, Khalil was just a kid with dimples with whom she was friends with since forever. But, that night, he was also just another kid whose car’s taillight was unhinged. He was murdered for nothing. He was shot for nothing. His life mattered. Khalil being murdered sparked something in Starr. At first, it was intense sadness. But then, she finally speaks up as a witness of the shooting. She stands up for Khalil as she knew he would have for her. Her two personalities overlap & she realizes it wasn’t the end of the world. She survives & she makes her life worth it by fighting for what matters.
I won’t reveal the story after this because I’m sure you are going to read this amazing novel & love it!
~~OVERALL THOUGHTS~~
For those of you who have been around for a while here, know how critically I review books. It’s a whole mental process, you know? To put yourself in the journey of those characters. And if the story turns out to be bad or stupid or predictable, it obviously makes me frustrated.
Having said that, I have rated this book at 5/5 on Goodreads & I stand by it. The topic is important & so is the story. It is told in the best possible way. And, it is a book that is an essential read for everyone.

Since this is a sensitive & serious topic, the author has kept a good balance between the fun & serious aspects. While addressing that Black Lives Matter, she hasn’t focused on only one thing. The main thing is the cop shooting Khalil for no reason. While highlighting this, she has also highlighted little discriminatory aspects. Like, cops attacking Mr. Carter out of nowhere, Mr. Lewis snitching being a big thing, putting Uncle Carlos on leave & so on. It’s always underlying but always there even if you can’t always put a finger on it. Now, that’s incredible writing which got me hooked.

Also, there is a lot going on, so there is a lot of content. You have your drug mafia fights, family drama & teenage drama. So, the whole picture levels out perfectly, which is another thing I liked about it.

If you haven't read this master piece, you should read it right away! If you have, did you like it as much as I did? Tell me in the comments below!!

Until next time,

Friday, 19 July 2019

6 TED Talks for Self-Improvement!


Hello Readers! How have you all been? Hope July is going well for you than it is for me. With so little blogging, you can only imagine how bored I must be. I thought I was out of my reading slump, but it wasn’t so much of a slum rather than laziness. I ended up binge watching Netflix shows instead of binge reading. No reading, so no reviews! No trips, so no travel posts. And then, out of the blue, this idea hit me. I’m sure you all know about my 19 Things to do in 2019 list. One of the things is listening to a TED Talk every week. This is something I am always looking forward to during my week. And, since it has been half a year already, I thought of telling you all about some of my favourite TED Talks when it comes to self improvement.

You can use the hashtag #OneTEDTalkPerWeek on Twitter to browse through all the talks I have listened to so far. But, the ones below are something worth for introspection. They have taught me some important things about life. Some I knew, while some were new to me. But, in a nutshell, they all are important for how we tread in life.

~~SCOTT GELLER: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-MOTIVATION~~
I watched this TED Talk just last week & it was truly an eye-opener. It’s a 16-minutes talk presented at TEDx VirginiaTech. The speaker Scott Geller is Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology.
In his speech, he talks about the theory of self-motivation. Now, I have read a lot of quotes on this subject & also seen similar talks. But this one actually works. Worked for me & I hope it works for you!

In his talk, he wants you to ask yourself 3 questions-
Can you do it?
Will it work?
Is it worth it?
If you answer yes to all these questions, then that’s your beginning to achieve your goal by being self-motivated. Below is one of the quotes from the Talk that I felt was too real. And, we need to backward engineer it to achieve the ultimate goal.
“From the day you were born, everything you did was because you wanted something for doing it.”

~~RYAN MARTIN: WHY WE GET MAD -- AND WHY IT'S HEALTHY~~
This talk about why anger is healthy is given by Ryan Martin, who is an Anger Researcher & chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He presented this 13-minutes talk at TEDx FondduLac.
Now, when I saw the title of this talk I knew it was going to be really interesting. Being a kind of a short-tempered person myself, my purpose was to justify my behaviour. It sure as hell worked for me. It gave me a reason for my anger. Now every time I get angry, I calm down & then ask myself why am I angry & it always gives me right answer to further work my way to the problem. I think the below quote summarizes the entire talk & I found this to be profound when applied in my work life.
“Just as fear alerts you to danger, your anger alerts you to injustice.”
And, read that again.

~~ANDREW SOLOMON: HOW THE WORST MOMENTS IN OUR LIVES MAKE US WHO WE ARE~~

This 20-minutes talk by Andrew Solomon will not only throw you in a thought spiral, but also make you appreciate the speaker for his wisdom as well as humour. He is a writer specializing in politics, culture & psychology.
Throughout his talk, he quotes a lot of people, gives examples of people he knows & focuses on one important thing. He asks to forge meaning from our biggest struggles to overcome & build ourselves stronger than before. He talks about the injustice he faced as a gay man. And, how he used that to build himself. Of course, it is easier said than done, but once you cultivate this habit, you will find yourself to be enough & strong to fight any battle that is in front of you.
All through his speech, he focuses on 4 words which is the gist of his talk.
“Forge meaning. Build identity.”

~~ANNE LAMOTT: 12 TRUTHS I LEARNED FROM LIFE AND WRITING~~
I wasn’t so sure about listening to this one, but once I started, I couldn't stop. Anne Lamott, in her 16-minutes speech talks about the 12 hard truths she knows to be definitely true in her 61 years on this planet. She is a novelist & essayist.

In the beginning, it may seem a bit mundane as she reads her speech from a piece of paper, but later on it becomes quite funny with her candid humour. I could have written down the 12 things she has talked about here, but I won’t. It won’t be the same, which is why, you need to watch this one right away! Below is the TED description for Anne’s talk.
She dives into the nuances of being a human who lives in a confusing, beautiful, emotional world, offering her characteristic life-affirming wisdom and humor on family, writing, the meaning of God, death and more.

~~ROBERT WALDINGER: WHAT MAKES A GOOD LIFE? LESSONS FROM THE LONGEST STUDY ON HAPPINESS~~
Every one of us is so busy chasing after happiness, that we have forgotten the basics of what makes us happy. In this 13-minutes talk by Robert, you will find out! He is the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is a 75-year old study on happiness. This talk was presented at TEDx Beacon Street.

According to this study, there is one important factor for happiness. Good relationships. He stresses on how the study show that people need to be close to their family, friends & community.
“The good life is built with good relationships.”

~~PETTER JOHANSSON: DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?~~
In this 16-minutes talk, experimental psychologist talks about his study of how self-knowledge & attitude can change. This was presented at TEDx Uppsala University.

This talk is unsettling & most people cannot deal with something like this. We go on about our life thinking we know all there is to know about our own self. And, when someone challenges that, our first instinct is to be defensive. That’s what this talk is all about. It’s about choice blindness, which is a phenomenon where we convince ourselves that we're getting what we want, even when we're not. It shows the nature of self-knowledge and how we react in the face of manipulation.
Below is my favourite quote from this talk. 
“If you can get people to see the opposite view and engage in a conversation with themselves, that could actually make them change their views.”


Until next time,


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Travel Bucket List!!



As I follow more travel bloggers, more I realize that every person has their own style of travelling. I read Shivya Nath’s book, ‘A Shooting Star’. She has such an amazing perspective on travelling. The world is her home. She seeks out the lesser known but equally breath taking places, which is why she gets stunning views & much lesser crowds. I follow Trishita (overrated outcast) on Instagram & she has got a whole other awesome style of travelling. Hers is more of photography-based travelling. She updates everything on her Instagram story & shares a few good posts. You will get to know the best cafes to visit & must-visit places in all the cities she travels to. It’s quite a different way from Shivya’s but equally exciting!

Sometimes I enjoy Shivya’s stories about the locals, while sometimes I am grateful for Trishita’s restaurant recommendations. Because of such different patterns, I am quite okay with the way I travel. It is extremely basic & I leave little scope for uncertainty or last-minute adventure disguised as chaos. But, that’s me, you know? I need to be sure. So, I plan everything down to details. And, I love the certainty that comes along with it. I don’t have great stories from locals. I don’t get amazing photos. I am just happy if the trip goes as planned & I get to see everything I wanted. Simple.
This was on my mind since quite some time now, so I wanted to get it out. All of you with your individual travel styles & preferences, you are all awesome.
It’s not boring to plan everything. It’s not rash to not plan anything. Just follow the travel style that vibes best with you & you’ll end up having a lot of fun!
Keeping that in mind, I wanted to share my Travel Bucket List with you all! I really hope I get to visit these places by next year!! You can check some of the other Travel posts on my blog here!

~~HAMPI~~
Hampi is a small city of ruins in Karnataka. It is among UNESCO’s world heritage sites. It seems like a small city with nothing much to see, but there are so many places to visit! There are a few famous temples of architectural significance, including Vithala temple & Virupaksha temple. There are a few view points from hills. Elephant’s Stables are also quite intriguing. You can also visit Hippie Island, which is one of the things I really want to do soon! All these stone sculptures in these archaeological ruins have a beauty of their own.

~~JODHPUR & JAISELMER~~
I think by now everyone is aware of my ultimate love for Rajasthan. I visited Udaipur last year & I was stunned by its beauty & grace. This year, I’m going to Jaipur in August. I cannot wait for this trip!
So, naturally, Jodhpur & Jaisalmer are also in my travel bucket list. Udaipur is the City of Lakes. Jaipur is the Pink City. Jodhpur is the Blue City. Jaisalmer is the Golden City. This in its basic way states the beauty of Rajasthan. I hope of going to these places early next year!

~~ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS~~
Ever since I have seen a few photos of these Islands, I have been awestruck. It is so beautifully stunning! I can imagine staying here for a week only to relax! How amazing would it be to stay in caves in front of the ocean? I don’t plan on going here any time soon though. Probably in a few years!

~~LEH LADAKH~~
I am not really a fan of the mountains. I went to Sikkim & Darjeeling last December & after that I needed a break from mountains & also the cold. But, surely, if someone would have nudged me, I’d have planned a Leh Ladakh trip this April or May. Nevertheless, there’s always next year. This is probably not on my priority list, but definitely some day!!

~~SRI LANKA~~
I have never travelled internationally. When you have all kinds of beautiful places in your country, then, I ask, why the hurry for international tours? I’d go to a month-long trip to Rajasthan any day over a week-long trip to Europe. You got to stay & let the place get into you before you flee back home! So, after so much of thinking, I think I’d love to visit Sri Lanka. It’s more or less like South India & also so beautiful. Recently, many of the travel bloggers I follow visited Sri Lanka. They made me gloriously want to visit it too. I need to save a lot for this trip so it’s at the end of my travel bucket list for now.

That is all for now. These are the main places in my mind that I really want to see. Do you know of any offbeat places to visit in monsoons in India? Or any travel suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,

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