Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review : A to Z - poem for an Idiom



As part of the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival, 35 ebooks were published in May after a successful completion of #AtoZChallenge by many participants across the world. Blogchatter team provided this wonderful platform to the first time authors like me.

Why A to Z - poem for an Idiom by Prakash Hegade?

I know Prakash from NaNoWriMo 2016. He was true inspirer, taking lead, arranging virtual write ups and encouraging us all to join in. When I first found out about his theme in A to Z Challenge, it amazed me - An idiom for that day's alphabet followed by poetry!

I will be honest, poetry is not my cup of tea. Whenever I attempted to write poetry, it didn't look anything like one remotely. As a result, I have the utmost respect for those who write beautiful poetry. Prakash has taken it to a whole new level by taking up an idiom for an alphabet and write poetry for that. I was awestruck by the creativity behind the idea.

Highlights of the book 

I finished the book in one go. I couldn't keep it down once I started enjoying it. The best part was all of them were so simple, poetic and yet logical (I always thought logic & poetry don't go hand in hand). 

My Takeaways from the book

Below are my personal favourites from the book,

C – Clear as mud
G – Guinea pigs
H – Hop skip and jump
I - ichi-go ichi-e
K – Kangaroo court
M – Mind your P’s and Q’s
P – Pyrrhic Victory
U – Ugly duckling
W – Walk a mile in my shoes
Z – Zip it

Rating : 4.5 / 5


About Author 

Academician, always a research student and blogger who loves to read and write!

Connect with Vaishali - 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review : Picky Eaters – Guaranteed hacks to make you happy

As part of the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival, 35 ebooks were published in May after a successful completion of #AtoZChallenge by many participants across the world. Blogchatter team provided this wonderful platform to the first time authors like me.

Why Picky Eaters – Guaranteed hacks to make you happy by Amrita Basu & Abhijit Misra?

I have numerous nephews & nieces. Most of them are picky eaters. I was really curious to read the authors' take on the topic and see if I can provide my cousins and friends with some useful tips.

Highlights of the book 

The authors have kept the book quick and easy read. It is full of tips with links to articles for elaborate reading, which made it really fuss free for me to read the simple tips and spend extra time reading about the topics which mattered to me the most.

Key takeaways for me

Healthy eating habits have to start from the parents themselves. The best part is all the tips given in the book are simple and easy to follow, but they can go a long way to form healthy eating habits in children.

Rating : 4 / 5


About Authors 

Dr. Amrita Basu, an ENT surgeon and a mommy to a five year old. Dr. Abhijit Misra is a
paediatrician and a teacher in a medical college. They are the co -authors of this book and
partners in real life. They are passionate about spreading the message of health, wellness and healthy life style. They love gardening, travelling and playing with our little girl in our spare time.

Connect with the Author - 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review : Potpourri of Emotions & Moods

As part of the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival, we were asked to review 3 books from the ones published in May after a successful completion of #AtoZChallenge by many participants across the world. Blogchatter team provided this wonderful platform to the first time authors like me & author of this book to fulfil the dream of being a published author. This is the third review in the series.

Why Potpourri of emotions, moods by Sneha Sasikumar?

The name piqued my curiosity and I found myself selecting this book over others. I was curious to read the Author’s take on various emotions & moods all of us go through.’

Highlights of the book & Key takeaways for me

Sneha takes us on a journey of emotions, 26 emotions to be precise (to be very honest I had never realised we humans are capable of so many emotions).

I loved her list to address boredom, next time I get bored, I am surely going to follow it.

The guest posts are as good as the posts from Sneha herself. I loved the story on Empathy. It takes a great deal to understand the other person and their limitations.

The book taught me that the key to many emotions is acceptance.

Rating : 3.5 / 5


About Author 

Seven years in the IT industry, Sneha Sasikumar is a tech lead with an MNC in Bangalore who works on finance and retail domains during the day but when she is not working on the codes and testing them, she juggles doing many things to keep her creative genes alive. One among them is blogging for about close to two years now on her blog Life as a Potpourri where she talks about a lot of topics under the sky justifying the word Potpourri. Born and brought up in the amazing Andaman and Nicobar Islands and settled in Bangalore now apart from writing she enjoys,travellingg, doodling and creating zentangles and holds a bachelors degree in Bharatnatyam and Kathak up her sleeves.

Connect with the Author - 

Book review : Writing tools, 26 Tips on How to Improve your Writing #BlogchatterEBookCarnival

As part of the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival, we were asked to review 3 books from the ones published in May after a successful completion of #AtoZChallenge by many participants across the world. The Blogchatter team provided this wonderful platform to the first time authors like me & author of this book to fulfil the dream of being a published author. This is the second review in the series. You can read the review of "Small Servings of Wellness" here

Why “Writing Tools, 26 Tips on How to Improve Your Writing”?

I am a blogger, working on my debut novel and has just published the first book of my life, do I really need to say why I selected this ebook for review? :) I am at a very early stage of my professional writing career and can use all the help I can get, especially if the help is coming from a well-accomplished author like Cheryl Sterling. Cheryl has several paranormal & contemporary romance novels under her belt. With solid experience of 18 years in writing, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to handhold me as I take the first steps of my writing career. 

Highlights of the book 

The timing of this ebook was perfect as I started reading it after publishing my own book on Amazon Kindle and I could immediately start using the tips from this ebook. Instead of reading this ebook at one go, I read it as a step by step manual following as many steps as possible to establish the online presence of me & my ebook. The book gives some very simple yet effective steps to earn those brownie points in marketing a book.

She has given some very useful tools such as BoardBooster, Canva, Draft2Digital to do various things right from designing a cover image to taking the book to the larger audience.

Overall this book is a must read for every budding author.

My Takeaways from the book

A lot to list it all here. In short, I had a complete marketing plan with tasks enough to keep me busy over many weeks to promote my book, couldn’t ask for more.

Rating : 4.5 / 5

About Author 

Cheryl Sterling is an American author of several paranormal and contemporary romance novels and short stories. Her first novel, What Do You Say to a Naked Elf?, was a finalist in the TARA contest and was later sold to Leisure Books, an imprint of Dorchester Publishing. Cheryl is a co-founder and past president of Grand Rapids Region Writers Group in Grand Rapids, MI. She has conducted several workshops that focused on the writing craft and co-chaired their first “I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Book” regional conference. In her spare time she reads all genres except suspense and horror.

Connect with the Author - 

Book review : Small Servings of Wellness #BlogchatterEBookCarnival


As part of the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival, we were asked to review 3 books from the ones published in May after a successful completion of #AtoZChallenge by many participants across the world. Blogchatter team provided this wonderful platform to the first time authors like me & author of this book to fulfil the dream of being a published author. This is the first review in the series.

Why Small Servings of Wellness by Vaishali Gandhi?

I met Vaishali during the Mumbai Blogchatter meet and the first thing that appealed to me was the warm smile on her face and the calmness in her appearance. Every day we meet people from all walks of life, some of them ignite something in us, some of them make us restless and some of them make us feel calm & grounded. Many times the reasons we feel a certain way after meeting a person can’t be expressed in words and such was the feeling of calmness I felt after meeting her.

I believe that every day we should be a better version of ourselves than the previous day. This belief drives me to keep exploring ways to personal growth. There is so much to learn in this world that one lifetime wouldn’t be enough. This book offers a lot of knowledge/wisdom collected from many people, books and methods to lead a holistic life on a platter hence it was a natural choice for me to review as part of the #BlogchatterEBookCarnival.

Highlights of the book 

There are so many books, speakers, workshops and other sources of knowledge available out there that sometimes it becomes overwhelming what to choose. As the name suggests this book packs it all and presents it in bite size information. This book turns out to be a guide by a trusted friend. Rather than reading reviews of the hundreds of self help book and deciding on the ones I want to read, I find it easy to use this book as a reference to read more on the topic. What I loved most about this book is while keeping the chapters short and quick, Vaishali has done a fabulous job of maintaining the real crux of each of them. 

My Takeaways from the book

Instead of summarising my learnings, I wish to give some of the powerful quotes from the book

"Making things positive doesn't mean a sunny outlook; it means making the choice to
see problems as opportunities." ~ Brahma Kumaris

“We cannot learn without pain.” ~ Aristotle

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold
peace and happiness.” –Robert Muller

“You cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

She must learn to control her mind when everything else around her seems out of control

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams." ~Oprah Winfrey

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." ~Lao Tzu

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.
The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

Rating : 4.5 / 5


About Vaishali 

SoulMom aka Vaishali calls herself a constant seeker and explorer. She is an avid reader, passionate about travel and photography. Curious about energy sciences and the spiritual ways of the universe. An innate artist fond of experimenting with different media. A fitness enthusiast who swears by yoga and meditation.

Professionally dabbled with a diverse set of skills across advertising and marketing communications. Personally, she continues to be on a wonderful journey as a single mom to two beautiful daughters.

Connect with Vaishali - 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

It was a conspiracy #BlogchatterEbook

Befoe we begin, 

I take on the baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival from Deepa whose Ebook "Parenting Tips and Tricks" is also a part of the mix. 

About Deepa's Ebook:- 


A parent’s guide to raising happy, insightful, creative and generous kids. Parenting blogger Deepa Gandhi believes parenting is easy, only if we remember to stay calm and enjoy parenthood. It is an insight from a learning and evolving mom.

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This is how the conspiracy began


That's right, this whole A to Z Challenge and the Ebook carnival was a big conspiracy. Conspiracy by the universe to make it all happen! How else can I explain it? Here I was working on my novel, publishing my ideas on my blog whenever I could find some time from my work and suddenly there came a wave which changed everything for better.

It all started with A to Z Challenge. I came across it somewhere on the vast ocean of Social media (I can't even remember where exactly I saw it first) towards the end of March and my first thought was 'How on earth will it be possible for me to publish a post every day? My project deadlines may take a toll'. But I decided to participate and take it in stride. I thought if it becomes too much for me then I will quit. After all, there is no harm in trying it and leaving it halfway rather than not doing it at all. Next I knew, I was swept off my feet by the overwhelming response, support & encouragement by everyone around me - family, friends, blogger community and even people unfamiliar till that moment.

But that was only a start. Within a week of starting the A to Z Challenge, hubby dear suggested I gather all my posts when the challenge ends and publish a book. Until that point, I had read that some of the last year's A to Z Challenge participants had published books with their respective posts but I wasn't sure if they were handpicked by the Blogchatter team based on their contributions in the challenge. In less than a week's time, Shubhreet suggested me the same. Coming it from her was a big deal for me as she comes with years of experience in journalism. It all got me thinking seriously about publishing a book and here I am!

Off Beats is special in many ways for me, first and obvious reason is that it is my first published work and will always hold a special place in my life. But this whole challenge and the ebook carnival gave a massive boost to my confidence. We all have self-doubt and I guess it never goes away completely, but the ebook carnival helped me overcome it in many ways. Secondly, though I have completed 70-80% of my debut novel and am still working on it, I was not so sure about publishing it. The feedback I received from Off Beats assured me that I should publish it. This phenomenon (if I may call it so) of the challenge and the carnival took me and the blog to places we had never been to. Surprisingly not many of my family and friends had read any of the previous posts, some of them weren't even aware of its existence. What came as a pleasant surprise to me was it helped rekindle hubby's love for photography. In recent months, he hadn't been too keen on taking his DSLR out unless necessary. But seeing his photographs in the ebook and hearing all the encouraging comments motivated him. No matter of pestering from my end could have achieved the same result LOL.

But the real goosebump moment happened when a dear friend told me how reading it all helped her get through the tough time in her life. She was going through awful time and reading my posts helped her to look at things with new perspective. When we started Be Young 4ever, the idea was simple - to tell people that life is not over when you cross a certain age; to motivate them to pursue their passion. And listening to her move me to tears of joy. The only feeling I had was that it was all worth it if it could bring some sunshine to even one person's life.

So now as you can see, it was all a universal conspiracy on a larger scale, of seeing my work published, of touching lives. I really hope it continues to do the same. The more people it will inspire the more my life would have been worth it.

Here is my baby I have been so obsessed about over last few weeks, hope it inspires you - Off Beats.

Don't forget to share your comments below, I am keen to know if it worked its magic on you too.

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I pass on the Baton of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival to Pratikshya whose Ebook "Kolors Of Korea" is also a part of the mix. 

About Pratikshya's Ebook: Kolors Of Korea is a compilation of blog posts at Magic Moments and some Guest Posts in A PotPourri of Vestiges on Korean sitcoms and drama series. Though the Hallyu or the ‘korean wave’ has gripped people’s imagination internationally, it is popular in India only among the female young folk. Through the reviews of various top rated drama series in this compilation, Pratikshya wants to bring this vivid world of storytelling to audiences here. Based on emotions and sensibilities, she considers most of these stories dwelling on the universal feelings of love, longing, and belonging, as timeless. Venture into this amazing world of tales, folklores, and legends.


Monday, January 30, 2017

3 activities in Mumbai for February

February is one of the best months to visit Mumbai. The weather is not too hot or not too cold. The winter is packing its bags for a 8 months vacation, while summer is peeping from behind the wing, eagerly waiting for its entry.

Here is a list of my personal favourites to do in Mumbai, most of them are free or low-cost ones considering all types of budgets, and quality is guaranteed.

1) Kala Ghoda arts festival -

Every year the South Mumbai district of Colaba becomes livelier than it already is for 10 days. You will notice hordes of people walking towards the area well known as Kala Ghoda. It is country's largest multicultural festival. The widest spectrum of anything and everything that is related to art.

When: First Saturday of February till following Sunday

Duration: 10 Days

Cost: Free

Suitable for: Any age group including children

Booking information: Just show up. The venue is open from morning till 10 pm. You can enter at any time, linger around as long as you want and leave whenever you like.

What is it about: Brilliant art displays by Indian and International artists, Workshops, Heritage walks & tours, Performances 

Art forms covered: Photography, Literature, Dance, Food, Cinema, Theater, Music, Craft, Artisan Craft, India's traditional arts, Pottery, Storytelling for children 

Who is it for: People of all ages. It has workshops for children & adults both. The art displays & performances are suitable for all age groups.

Tips: Avoid last Sunday evening as it is suffocating overcrowded. Weekdays are the best if you can make it otherwise, mornings, afternoons on weekends would be the second best option.

More Information: The Official Website

Where: Kala Goda, Colaba



2) Homage to Abbaji - 

It is musical extravaganza hosted by internationally acclaimed Tabla Maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain as a tribute to his father Ustad Allarakha Khan. Many Indian and international artists grace the occasion by to performing alongside him.

When: 3 February every year

Duration: 3 sessions of 3 hours each, 6.30 am, 10.30 am, 6.30 pm

Cost: Free

Suitable for: Any age group including children

What is it about: Live music which will carry you to another world

Where: Shanmukhanand Hall, Sion, Mumbai

Booking information: The entry passes are available 1 hour before each session.

Tips: The program is highly in demand, making it difficult to get passes. People start queuing up well in advance for each session (approx. 2 hours before the session) to get the passes. So make sure you reach in time to stand in the queue.

3) Lit O Fest -

When: Third week of February. 

It is being held on 23, 24 Feb in 2017 but the dates may vary every year. 

Duration: 2 Days

Cost: Free

Suitable for: Any age group including children

What is it about: Literature, Arts & Music festival. Panel discussions, Talks, Music Workshops, Live performances, Film screenings, Workshops, Theatre, Painting, Sculpture and more

Who is it for: People of all ages. It has workshops, film screenings for children & adults both. 

Booking information: For 2017

They tie up with third party portal for ticket booking. Search for Lit O Fest registration.

More Information: The Official Website

Where: The venue changes every year. It is Grant Medical College, Marine Drive for 2017.

The weather being good there are a lot many outdoor activities you can opt for. But more about it on another day in another blog post.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Velas Turtle Festival




For a long time, we wanted to witness the first journey of baby turtles to the sea after coming out of their eggs. We had read about a conservation program being done by Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra, on the west coast of Maharashtra to protect the endangered species of sea turtles a few years ago, ever since then it was there on our list. Given the fact that it happens only once a year, for a very short time period made it very difficult to be able to make it. But when we did manage to get there, it turned out to be an unforgettable experience for us.

Owing to the heavy traffic on Mumbai-Goa highway, it took us more than 6 hours to reach the destination but we made it just in time for the evening slot. The Olive Ridley sea turtles are marked as endangered species, due to hunting of adults for leather & oil, poaching of eggs and eggs & babies falling prey to wild animals, birds. From last few years, a group of volunteers have taken responsibility to patrol the beach during the nesting period, shift the eggs to safe environment & protect the eggs till babies come out, which is contributing significantly to the increase in the quantity of these turtles. The volunteers shift the eggs to fenced areas making sure that the eggs are kept exactly the same way as they were laid in the original nest. They also take turns to sleep near the fenced area every night to make sure that the egg poachers and animals don't harm the eggs. Talking to some of them made us realise that if it wasn't for their relentless efforts, these turtles would have given up on the west coast long ago as their nesting habitat. They also showed us a film about the conservation programs they run for the turtles, vultures and other animals, birds adorning the wildlife of western ghats.



Watching the sole baby which came out during our visit, taking its first steps in this vast world was the lifetime experience. The volunteers carried it in a wicker basket to a spot around 20 feet near the sea shore. The area was cordoned off with ropes to avoid any human being entering it leaving the footsteps in the sand. It felt like marking a red carpet for the celebrity of the day. As the baby turtle started walking towards the sea, our hearts were filled with joy. From time to time, it stopped in its track, raised its tiny neck, sensed the wind, smell and probably few other things to detect the direction of the sea and corrected it's course accordingly. Seeing such a tiny creature use it's basic instincts so effectively was marvellous. We couldn't help but wonder at how treacherous this journey must be for them in the wild with birds hovering over to catch them and sometimes poachers stealing them for their personal greed. These animals are so sensitive that vibrations caused by footsteps on the beach can put off a female from nesting & laying eggs. Even the baby turtles can lose their track to the sea if they see flashlights of a camera or come across footsteps in the sand. But the fact which fascinated us most was that the baby turtle (if it is a female) remembers the geomagnetic field of the place it was born at and returns to the same beach 20 years later when it is ready to lay the eggs.


Just when the baby was about to reach the first wave of the ocean, I heard a mother telling her 6-7 years old, "Look at that baby turtle, it is managing on its own, without its mother anywhere nearby. You still need your mom for everything, even to feed you your meals". So true! Sometimes we look after our kids way too much, without letting them use their basic instincts and find their way. Off course leaving them to fend for themselves at very young age would be cruel, but sometimes we forget to sense the right time to let them struggle on their own.

Velas Turtle Festival Tips - 

1) You can witness this event in Anjarle & Velas, find out more on http://www.snmcpn.org/marine-turtles/turtle-festival

2) Usually, the event happens during February to April, but it is a good idea to find out the dates beforehand from their website

3) Hatching of eggs depends on a lot of factors including moon, weather, humidity, nesting dates etc. Better call Mohan Upadhye - 02350 220304 / 8983767388 / 8975622778 to check the probability of getting to see baby turtles to avoid disappointment. Yet you may or may not get to witness it, there is no guarantee. Nobody can predict it 100% accurately.

4) The village is small and gets crowded even with ample amount of home stay options. Some families had just turned up without any prior booking of the stay, as a result of which they had to check out all the places there and ultimately adjust in the common area of the home stay providers. So it will be a better idea to book your stay in advance.

5) The home stay options are very basic, a room with attached toilet bathroom or a dormitory with a common toilet bathroom. The room includes bed, mattress and a mirror, no other facilities or toiletries are provided, so make sure you carry yours. It also includes basic home cooked meals, so don't expect anything fancy or A la carte food.

6) The volunteers open the cover on nest twice a day - 7 a.m. & 5.30 p.m. To increase the chances of a sighting of the babies, try to include at least 2 timings in your itinerary, more the better.

7) The beach is approximately 15-20 minutes walk from the village and it gets hot by the time you return in the morning so make sure you carry enough protection from the sun in the form of sunglasses, sunscreen and sun coat (if necessary)

8) Don't miss the documentary they show every evening/morning (depending on availability). It puts many things into perspective including how we are contributing to damaging the wildlife by a simple act of throwing plastic, empty bottles, chips packets and other garbage in the sea (not only at this particular location but in general in any part of the sea worldwide).

9) Just outside the village boundary, we found a spot full of fireflies. All the fields, trees were so laden with them, that it gave a feeling of sparkling lights during Diwali or Christmas. But you will have to walk in the direction of the beach after it gets completely dark and stand silently to spot them initially.

10) Remember to carry a torch, don't rely solely upon mobile torch. As there may be a power outage at times, and if your mobile battery is drained then you may miss a lot of good opportunities for walks (especially to catch a glimpse of fireflies).

11) It is a quiet village, so respect it by keeping the noise levels down. In fact, I will recommend this place only if you are a true nature lover.

12) The village is also famous for the production of various spices. The place where we stayed (Mr Amol Soman - 220279/9403574183) boasts of plants and trees of various spices including Nutmeg, Mace, Cloves, Pepper, Cinnamon & bay leaf. The owner of the place has also created a small museum about life in Konkan, but we couldn't visit it due to time limitation. So don't miss this unique opportunity to see the spices in their natural setup.