Friday, 8 November 2019

Whisper Network. (Mindscape Reviews)

Hi Readers! Book 36 of the year is read & done. Lately, I have read a lot of GOOD BOOKS! There was a time where I only read bad books, but gladly that has changed. I do miss writing critical reviews though. Anyway, this one is going to overflow with only GOOD THINGS! I absolutely loved reading Chandler Baker’s ‘Whisper Network’. Not only is the story full of mystery, it also sends such an important message on how women lift other women up.

Whisper Network is a story focusing on women in the workplace; how they are treated as against men, how their promotions are held off, how one mistake costs their career, how cases of sexual harassment filed by them are not believed or taken seriously. From being judged either as a working mother or a stay-at-home mother to deciding whether women were really harassed by men in power or is it just for attention, this story has it all. It’s also a story where we learn that despite all the injustice against these women, incredible things can happen when women have each other’s’ backs.

The story is set at the workplace of Truviv Inc., which is a top sports brand in Dallas. Sloane Glover is one of the female leads, who is a senior executive in the in-house legal team at Truviv. She has been at Truviv almost 12 years. She is married to Derek & has a young daughter named Abigail. She is the bad bitch of the group. The leader who everyone follows & kind of worships.

Adriana Valdez (Ardie) works in Tax & she has also worked at Truviv for a good 11 years. She is divorced. Her ex-husband is Tony who is with a girl named Braylee. They have an adopted son named Michael. Ardie is the reasonable & logical part of the group. She sees everything to reason, but is also not a pushover. She speaks when it is needed. She seems like Sloane’s right hand woman.

Grace Stanton works in the Compliance wing, but basically they all work together in the in-house legal team. She has worked at Truviv for 6 years. She is married to Liam & has just had a baby named Emma Kate. She is the junior in the college of Truviv. Not as experienced about people’s real nature at the firm as Ardie or Sloane. She is portrayed as the kindest person in the group who can do no wrong.

Katherine Bell is the new joinee at Truviv, also in the legal team.
Rosalita is a cleaning maid in the housekeeping department at Truviv. She has worked at Truviv for about 8 years & has a son named Salomon. She has a good friendship with Ardie. Sloane, Ardie, Grace & Rosalita are the leading women who rock the story. Another important character is Ames Garett, General Counsel at Truviv, who is soon to be the CEO. To put it mildly, he is the villain of the story. Let’s get into the story now, shall we?

There are 2 things which I absolutely enjoyed reading in 'Whisper Network'.
ONE – Story line.
TWO – “We” Monologues.

Chandler Baker has written a thrilling story. There are two timelines. One is the present & then second the future. In the present timeline, we get acquainted to our main ladies. We understand how Sloane is the most dominant & Ardie the most sensible & Grace the kindest. And, soon enough these women start feeling like your friends & you feel a part of the group. There is strong friendship among them. But, there are ups & downs between them too. How else will their friendship cement even more otherwise? Ardie helps out with Sloane’s daughter because she is bullied at school. (ANOTHER IMPORTANT TOPIC.) Sloane gives tips to Grace on new motherhood. Ardie helps Rosalita’s son to pass exams. Rosalita, in turn, becomes a help to them all. We also understand how Ames, who is in line to become the CEO, had sexually assaulted Sloane many years ago. And, so, when Katherine is hired, they all try to keep her away from Ames so the history doesn’t repeat itself. In a way, it is full of office politics revolving around these characters until it is no longer politics, but real lives being portrayed in the most real way possible.

In the future timeline, we already know that someone died. What we don’t know is whether it was murder or suicide or whatever other possibility. In due course, it is also obvious who dies. But, in this case, you won’t feel disappointed that it was so obvious to know that. Because, there are a lot of things that will be unpredictable later on. So this story line is very mysterious & brilliant. It is mostly in the form of interviews conducted by detectives or talks between the company hired lawyer & the women.

And when, these two timelines merge, then is the real climax. There are so many shocking things that you will find out that you had never dreamed possible. It will leave you with your mouth open in surprise & shock. You will feel so many feelings at once. The woman in you, who might (MUST) have faced inequality some time in her life, will roar her way out & stand for feminism!

I started reading ‘Whisper Network’ as it was a recommendation from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. So far, the book I absolutely loved from her Book Club was ‘Daisy Jones And The Six’ & now ‘Whisper Network’ has beaten that record.

For the first half of the book, I was reading it just because. But, when the ‘We monologues’ started, I knew at once that it was going to be an absolute banger! Also, when the story picked up & went beyond gender inequality to sexual harassment & deaths, it had me gripped. When you mix a genre like mystery with real life issues like gender inequality in the workplace, the result has to be something truly horrifyingly brilliant. You need to read it! I have rated it at 4/5 stars on Goodreads

Until next time,

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

November Book Haul!!

Hi Readers! I just finished the 36th book of the year – Whisper Network by Chandler Baker. I wasn’t expecting to, but I really quite loved reading this one. More on it in a different post! With about 2 months to go, I really hope I will be able to achieve the target of 50 books! If not, I have already passed my target, so no guilt!

I had bought a bunch of books in June, which you can check out here. Now, in November, there are again few more additions to my beauty of a bookshelf! Here are the books I bought recently & cannot wait to devour them!

I have read only one book by Fredrik Backman, which is, ‘And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer.’ This book really touched me, it was so full of emotions, written in the simplest manner. Ever since this read, I had decided to read all his books. But, as it often happens with me, I lose track of time & get caught up in the ‘so many books, so little time’ dilemma & end up reading whatever I get my hands on. But, now, I have finally decided to read this book, which is very highly rated & talked about.
337 Pages
4.36/5 stars on Goodreads
Published August 2012

As you all know that I have recently started reading books by Murakami. I really enjoyed A Wild Sheep Chase, but didn’t quite enjoy Norwegian Wood. So, this will be a tie-breaker, I suppose! I have already heard many good things about this novel, so excited to finally read it! I also want to read more Murakami books from The Rat series. So, that will happen soon too.
467 Pages
4.13/5 stars on Goodreads
Published 2002

I have always loved reading about crime, thriller & mystery novels. Some of my favorite authors in this genre are Dan Brown, Jane Harper. Yet, it is shocking, even to me, that I haven’t read a single book by Jeffrey Archer. So, it is about time to fix it. Unlike most Jeffrey Archer stories, quoting Goodreads, this one is not a detective story, but a story about making of a detective. I already am sure that I will love it. And, post this, I am definitely reading Kane & Abel, which is the author’s most popular & well-known novel.
320 Pages
4.05/5 stars
Published September 2019

Last month I read The Adventures of Sally by P.G.Wodehouse. I absolutely loved his style of writing & his ability to play with words. But, my twitter fellows told me that though that’s a nice book, it’s not his funniest. So, now I’m going to read ‘Joy in the Morning’ which is a part of the Jeeves Series. And, since my dad is an ardent Wodehouse fan & has a lot of his books, he recommended this one. So, this is also one of the books on my TBR!
272 Pages
4.34/5 stars on Goodreads
Published 1947

This title kept showing up in a lot of recommendations & so I finally bought the book. This is her first novel, so naturally I had never before heard about the author. I checked it out on Goodreads & thought that it could be an interesting story. It kind of seems similar to AngieThomas’s ‘The Hate U Give’. Goodreads describes it as ‘an arresting debut novel which bears witness to American racism & abuse of power.’ It is only 258 pages, so I will probably just need one Saturday to finish it!
258 Pages
3.85/5 stars on Goodreads
Published February 2019

We all know how wonderful ‘PS: I Love You’ was. I felt like it was the benchmark on which romantic stories were written later on. I had read it way back in 2010 or so & now that I know there is a sequel, of course I had to read it! Over the years, I read many books by Cecelia Ahern, but I only truly LOVED ‘Where Rainbows End’. All others didn’t quite hit that romantic level as these two did for me. So, I am really excited to read ‘Postscript’!
368 Pages
4.33 stars on Goodreads
Published September 2019

Last & the best of all! I have already read this one on e-book. But, I LOVED it so much that I had to have a PHYSICAL COPY of it! (I just cannot control myself when it comes to books, despite climate change. Sorry!) Now that I have it in my hands, I feel like reading it again! You can check out my review on this one here.
432 Pages
4.4/5 stars on Goodreads
Published April 2019

So, this is all for now! Some of the classics that I will read really soon are ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott (because there’s a film coming with Emma Watson in it, so of course I gotta read the book before watching the movie!) Also, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale & The Testaments! ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr is another one I am yet to read & is awaiting in the bookshelf. And, so the list is pretty bottomless, but these are definitely the ones I look forward to reading soon enough!

 Also, I am really glad that there are now only a few books in my bookshelf that are unread. That is such an improvement in just one year. As always, if you have some great book recommendations, I’m all ears! And, if you have read any of the books above, let’s discuss in the comments below!!

Until next time,

Monday, 4 November 2019

The Moment of Lift! (Mindscape Reviews)

Hi Readers! I recently read ‘The Moment of Lift’ by Melinda Gates. It was in my TBR for a while, but I finally got to it because I was bored of reading fictional novels. When I first read the index, it was all about gender equality, family planning & women empowerment. Sadly, my first instinct was to not read it because it sounded like a geography textbook. But, when I read one chapter, I couldn’t stop! It is now the BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN MY LIFE. Not just this year, not just in non-fiction, but from all of the 200 some books I have read in my life, this is the best one. Since I have high standards, you know how much this actually means! So, go ahead & buy it already.

The Moment of Lift is a book reflecting on how empowering women changes the world. It has topics such as Maternal & Newborn Health, Family Planning, Girls in Schools, Unpaid Work, Child Marriage, Women in Agriculture, Women in the Workplace & the last chapter – Let Your Heart Break: The Lift of Coming Together.

In the chapter of Family Planning, you can clearly understand Melinda Gates’ emotions from all the stories she has mentioned. All the sadness, anger, rage & determination! In this chapter, she has given a lot of examples. She has also mentioned how we globally have improved when it comes to the use of contraceptives. And then at the end, you read the main shocker. She builds up a nice graph from the 1970s till 2019 & finally talks about how the US is taking away the funding for FDA approved contraceptives & also eliminating the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, among other things. You read so much about how the use of contraceptives is essential only for the chapter to end on such a drastic note. It haunts you & makes you think about what the hell is happening in the world!

Melinda Gates has given many facts & data around gender inequality. There were a lot of stories as well. But half the chapter she also talks about her & Bill's equal partnership. How it changed focus from being only a partnership to only equality to finally an equal partnership. She talks a lot about this which I found a bit out of place for this book, but then of course, she's smarter than most people so she also writes a justification for that. She says, "We can change the culture by sharing our stories. That's why I'm sharing mine" & "It seems false to me to work on issues in the world while pretending I have them solved in my own life." When you read such absolute honestly from the author herself, you cannot not go in to deep thinking over everything that she has observed & written.

You know that child marriage is prevalent in the remote parts of the world, but when you read about Melinda's first hand interaction with the child brides, it just breaks your heart. These girls aged 7 to 11 getting tricked by their own parents into getting married made me sad at first & then angry. When you leave in a city far away from these problems, they start to seem unreal. But, after reading about them in ‘The Moment of Lift’ has made me think about how much more is yet to be accomplished.

In this chapter, Melinda Gates tell us how almost all of the farmers are women. In all of these issues, Melinda never hesitates to admit how naive she was about things. She isn’t embarrassed to admit it because after learning about all these issues, she has done a lot of work to fix them at her own pace. That's why it's another reason why you feel like you're reading a fellow human's words who isn't perfect but more so like most of us. It feels like reading a book written by another human being, not a person who is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation living in the first world country.

All the chapters are important & this book needs to be read at least twice by every person on this planet. I have given a gist of the chapters that really touched me. Please Please Please read the book! If you are not yet convinced, read more about the author below!

The best thing about these topics is that the author hasn’t put a lot of facts & data into it. Yes, there is data. But, it is always accompanied with real life stories. Melinda Gates has travelled the remotest parts of the world & shared it with us. She talks about how we need to focus on the people who are on the edge. We need to make outsiders feel like insiders & stop creating a world where there is an inside-outside parameter. Her experiences are remarkable & it reflects in all the stories she has written.

Every story in every remote village has a lot of indiscrimination. There are stories where the women in the family have no idea about family planning. They have more than 6 babies with less than 1 year between each of them, which makes bodies of women & their children weak & more susceptible to diseases.

There is the story where a young daughter’s mother has to work as a sex worker only to put food on the table for them. And, when the daughter understands this about her mother, the daughter commits suicide. There are a lot of such haunting things that are still happening in the world. The writing is so empathetic that it gives you goosebumps while reading about all the tragedies. It makes you want to quit your meaningless job & join their Foundation & make an actual change. It moves you in a big what-is-my-purpose-in-life kind of way. I felt like Melinda Gates should be the Queen of the World & whatever she tells us to do should be the final word. There is still a long way to go. There are still a lot of things to be done. The first step would definitely be for everyone to read this precious book. Because if this book cannot make you want to do something, then nothing can.

Needless to say that I rated ‘The Moment of Lift’ at 5/5 on Goodreads. Go read it!!
Until next time,

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Goa Tips from a Goa Hater!

Hi Readers! How are you all? Since we are stepping into the holiday season, I thought of writing about my recent trip to Goa. Usually, Goa is everyone’s go-to travel destination. It’s a vacation to chill & relax. Staying in hotels that have a beach view is mandatory. So is drinking, partying & what not. Most people love these vibes. I gave Goa a try, not once, not twice, but four times now. And every time, it let me down. So, compiling all my bad experiences, I thought of writing about the things that you MUST DO in Goa to not hate it entirely.

Now, I’m a pretty private person. I don’t like to talk much, with the exception of some 15 people. I hate partying. Drinking & smoking don’t interest me. But, I love beaches. I love to read. And, I love taking photos. So, for a person like me, ideally, I need to go to Goa with someone who is like me. If I go with friends who drag me into clubs or cruises, then obviously it won’t be an enjoyable experience for me. So, set your priorities. It can be anything!
You can stay in the hotel all of the days.
You can get high & drunk & wasted.
You can get scenic photos on the beach.
You can go sight-seeing like a tourist.
Your only agenda could be good food.
You can do all the above in Goa, but choose your company wisely & I cannot press on it enough. It really does matter. Be it friends or cousins or family or partner. You need what you need. So, think about that first & then go do what you want!
According to your priorities, you can plan the stay! If you don’t want to get out of the hotel at all, you can go for 5 star hotels which have their personal beach, infinity swimming pools, game rooms, spas & 5-star restaurant facility with room service. You get good food, good view & almost all the amenities that you need when on vacation.
If you want stunning beach photos, you got to research all the poses on Pinterest & Instagram, to be honest. Especially, if you are an awkward poser but still want good photos kind of a person.
Same goes for food. Check Youtube & Travel & Food Bloggers for restaurant recommendations!
I know this post is getting weird. You must be thinking, “I’m going to Goa to take a break from work & this lady is just asking me to get more work done, that too for a trip!” But, believe me, you will thank me later. After all, how can you chill if the hotel has drilling work on-going in the next room? How will you get Instagram-worthy photos if you just go there & do what pleases you. Nah. My mantra is research for everything! Most importantly, for trips. So, in a nutshell-

·        Stay where you have easy access to outside restaurants.
·        Stay at a walking distance from a 24/7 pharmacy for your midnight cravings for chips or your hunger swings or whatever.
·        Stay where you can rent a 2-wheeler easily. (More on this below)
·        Stay in a good hotel, instead of an AirBnB.
Ashvem Beach.
I cannot state this enough. If you plan on doing even half a day’s worth of sight-seeing, rent a 2-wheeler. It is non-negotiable. Transport in Goa really sucks. There is no Ola or Uber. There is an app called Goa Miles launched by the Goa Government. It is good to take you from & to the Goa Airport or Railway station, but not at all reliable for local sight-seeing. I was aware about this, but because of really sucky circumstances, I couldn’t get a bike, which brings me to my utterly woeful stories of every time I have visited Goa.

So, here’s my story of my latest trip. I stayed at an AirBnB in Ashvem, which is the uppermost part of Goa. It took me about 3 hours to reach the place from the Airport. It was beach facing & also had shops to rent out 2 wheelers. (Didn’t I tell you, I do research? But here’s how research failed me this time.) But, the number of problems I faced at that apartment are too many to state. Also, it was not at all close to the top attractions in Goa. I knew this when I booked the place. But, I thought, I could easily go wherever I wanted with the rented 2-wheeler. What I didn’t know was the condition of roads which made everything impossible. It was impossible to go from Ashvem to Anjuna or to Old Goa & then all the way back to Ashvem. So, the next day I checked out & checked in to an OYO Hotel which was in Mapusa. This was closer to Anjuna beach, but still the location was so unfortunate that there was no shop nearby to rent a bike. So, I had to book cabs all the time (which were very fluctuating) & ended up spending a lot of money on local transport. This is why, it is CRUCIAL to book a hotel close enough & to rent a bike. You cannot survive in Goa without these two, let alone ‘CHILL’. 
Ashvem Beach.
I went to Goa some 2 or 3 years ago with a group of then-friends. And, conclusion to point one – The Company Matters, it completely sucked. Their interests did not align with mine & I had the worst possible trip of my life that time. So, I’m stating it again, choose your company wisely. You cannot go to such places with people you can just about tolerate or people who are two-faced or frenemies. You have to go with your closest people who know & can handle all your tantrums & whose tantrums you know & can handle. I think Goa will work for me ONLY if I went with my best friend Sukanksha. With anyone else, I just cannot imagine it.

These two times were when I went to Goa with my family when I was a kid. I didn’t like it even then. It was either too sunny for me or too dirty or too fishy. I hated the weather & more so hated the tour guides who dragged me & my family for all-day sight-seeing. I should’ve stopped then, but it is my bad habit to give people & places more chances than they deserve. But, fourth time is definitely the limit. 
View of Vagator Beach from Chapora Fort.

So, all in all, if you always go to Goa, you probably already knew this. But, all you young teenagers who haven’t seen the real world, I hope I painted the real picture for you. It’s not a vacation, if you are not you.
Until next time,

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