Where do you see your blog going?: Sunday Musings #120

Where do you see your blog going?: Sunday Musings #120

Lately, I have been thinking about the future of my blog.

While I began blogging here as a hobby and a past time, I think I would like it to be more than that. Or maybe I won’t. I keep going back and forth a lot, and would love to see/hear more about how it would work.

I am a freelance writer and a digital marketer, but I don’t think my site reflects that at all. I just want to see this site going somewhere. As you can see, I am being absolutely unclear on that.

If anyone here or anyone you know has made the jump from a book blog/site to something else, please let me. I would love to have a chat.

What I read this week

With all that is happening around Israel-Palestine chaos, I wanted to understand more. And that’s why I jumped at the opportunity to join the read-a-long for Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa.

It follows the life of a Palestine refugee who searches for a better life in the Middle East. I am about half way into and I am enjoying it immensely. I will be back with a review soon.

What I watched this week

I am re-watching some episodes of Mom starring Anna Faris. And also watching Invincible on Prime – another super hero animation, which I am loving so far.

On my blog

In case you missed the posts from my blog, last week.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover Review Featured

November 9 by Colleen Hoover – A book review

When your beach dreams fail: Sunday Musings #119

I will be linking today’s post with Caffeinated reviewer’s Sunday post Meme.

From the Insta-world

Here is what I posted on Instagram during the week. Give me a follow, will you?

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How has your week been? Where do you see your blog going towards? Do you have any plans for it? Let’s talk.

Where do you see your blog going?: Sunday Musings #120

November 9 by Colleen Hoover – A book review

I rarely write about books that didn’t work out well for me, especially if it were a hyped one. But then I come across a book that everyone raved about and I could not not rant about it. So here is my book review on November 9 by Colleen Hoover.

About November 9

November 9 by COlleen Hoover

Book Name: November 9

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung adult

Characters: Fallon O’ Neil, Benton(Ben) Kessler, Jordyn

Setting: Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe USA

Plot Summary of November 9

On November 9, Ben and Fallon meet at a restaurant and they have an instant connection. Ben is an aspiring writer and Fallon an actress and an avid reader.

But Fallon is moving across the country the next day and also she feels she will not be ready for a serious relationship for the next 5 years (until she turns 23).

So they decide to go on with their lives and date other people but only meet each other every year on November 9. And they would have no more contact with each other other than that one day of a year.

But do their attraction stand strong with just that one in 365 days? You will have to read November 9 by Colleen Hoover to know more.

Book review of November 9

The plot immediately reminded me of One Day (and one of the character mentions it even), but I have tried to overlook that while reviewing.

The book follows the time that the duo spend together, year after year and we get an alternating POV for both characters of the same date. We do not hear more about the characters’ lives apart from that.

November 9 was my first book by Colleen Hoover, an author I had been meaning to read for a long time and my expectations were quite high.

True to her fame, CoHo’s writing hooked me right at the first chapter and the banter between the characters worked out mostly. The characters Ben and Fallon were fleshed out well.

And honestly that is all that I could muster to speak in the pro section.

“Why would a girl care to find herself when she’ll never be able to make herself feel as good as a guy can?”

I understand the heat of the moment and all, but I think this quote from the book made double take. I understand that Fallon is insecure about herself and is generally melodramatic but this is NOT OKAY at all.

I hated how Ben consistently disregarded Fallon’s consent, objectified her, stalked her and ordered her around. And Fallon’s father is not a saint either. To make matters worse, she forgives both of them instantly and starts a good relationship with them at the end. Well why did I even read it?

Also what is with Ben’s obsession about Fallon’s scars sexually? Especially, after knowing his secret (that he was the one who started the fire (intentionally) which left her scarred and disfigured and he knew who she was the whole time) his behavior was just disgusting.

What worked for me

  • I loved Colleen Hoover’s writing and the banter kept me going and hooked.
  • Though the plot seemed similar to One day, it takes a different turn once you get over it.

What may have been better

  • BEN! I wish influential and best selling authors like Colleen Hoover would pay more attention to their characters and what they do.
  • I disliked that Fallon forgave her father too easily.

Content warning

Male ignoring non consent, arson, parent suicide,

Bottom line

November 9 by Colleen Hoover was a well written contemporary New age romance. While it seems to have some HUGE red flags, you can still pick a copy based on the other 4+ star ratings on Goodreads.

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Let’s chat

How did you like November 9 by Colleen Hoover? Did you have these issues with the characters or is it just me? Should I read other books by the author before I give up? Let us talk.

Where do you see your blog going?: Sunday Musings #120

When your beach dreams fail: Sunday Musings #119

Remember last week I was telling you, guys. about how I will go to the beach more often? Guess what, we drove down to the beach yesterday evening to watch the sunset and relax. But we couldn’t actually find even a single parking spot anywhere!

I KNOW it sounds preposterous but we drove around the area twice! It has something to do with the fact that it was the first Friday (the day off) after a long weekend and the sun already is scorching us.

Still I can’t believe it that we drove back without even getting into the beach. At least I went to another mall to cool it off before we reached home.

So much making plans, right? I am not gonna make anymore plans and live life spontaneously.

What I read this week

As I have been saying for weeks now, I am in a sort of “on/off reading slump”. So this week, instead of waiting for myself to get over the slump I decided to read some graphic novels and comics.

I read the Strange Planet and its sequel Stranger Planet by Nathan Pyle, over the last two days. I read it slowly and enjoyed them both.

I also joined an Instagram book club for a read-a-long of Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa, that follows the life a young Palestinian refugee and her life around Middle Eastern countries.

The read-a-long starts on Monday and I can’t wait to read it. Seriously, it has been a while since I have got excited about reading. Fingers crossed, guys.

What I watched this week

I have been swamped with work this week, and I didnt have much time to watch anything. But I have been rewatching Superstore a little bit – an episode or two just before hitting the bed.

On my blog

In case you missed the posts from my blog, last week.

20+ Amazing Books on World War 2

Books on World war 2 Featured

Invest in yourself: 12 ways to improve your life

Invest in yourself Featured

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy- A book review

Invest in yourself Featured

Summer is here?!: Sunday Musings #118

Invest in yourself Featured

I will be linking today’s post with Caffeinated reviewer’s Sunday post Meme.

From the Insta-world

Here is what I posted on Instagram during the week. Give me a follow, will you?

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Let us chat

How has your week been? Did your plans usually work out or does life has its own way to screw you? What are you guys reading? Let us talk.

Where do you see your blog going?: Sunday Musings #120

20+ Amazing Books on World War 2

As a fan of historical fiction, I have a soft spot towards World War 2 related books, both fiction and non fiction. Quite recently, I had a wonderful discussion about a World War 2 fiction book on Twitter and I ended up with a truck load of great recommendations on the topic.

20+ Amazing Books on World War 2

Here are some of the books on WW2 recommended to me from readers, far and near, on Twitter.

1. The Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

Like no other masterpiece of historical fiction, Herman Wouk’s sweeping epic of World War II is the great novel of America’s Greatest Generation.

Wouk’s spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events, as well as all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II, as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war’s maelstrom.

The Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance stand as the crowning achievement of one of America’s most celebrated storytellers.

2. The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku

Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp.

Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.

Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’.

Published as Eddie turns 100, this is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

3. I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson

What is death all about? What is life all about?

So wonders thirteen-year-old- Elli Friedmann, just one of the many innocent Holocaust victims, as she fights for her life in a concentration camp. It wasn’t long ago that Elli led a normal life; a life rich and full that included family, friends, school, and thoughts about boys. A life in which Elli could lie and daydream for hours that she was a beautiful and elegant celebrated poet.

But these adolescent daydreams quickly darken in March 1944, when the Nazis invade Hungary. First Elli can no longer attend school, have possessions, or talk to her neighbors. Then she and her family are forced to leave their house behind to move into a crowded ghetto, where privacy becomes a luxury of the past and food becomes a scarcity. Her strong will and faith allow Elli to manage and adjust somehow, but what Elli doesn’t know is that this is only the beginning and the worst is yet to come….

A remarkable memoir. I Have Lived a Thousand Years is a story of cruelty and suffering, but at the same time a story of hope, faith, perseverance and love.

4. The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards

A world at war. A beautiful young star. A mission no one expected.

Paris, 1944

Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.

When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination.

But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous cross-currents of Occupied France undetected—and in time to save Lillian’s life.

5. Night by Elie Wiesel

Born in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the terrifying record of Elie Wiesel’s memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man.

This new translation by his wife and most frequent translator, Marion Wiesel, corrects important details and presents the most accurate rendering in English of Elie Wiesel’s testimony to what happened in the camps and of his unforgettable message that this horror must simply never be allowed to happen again.

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

7. The Girl in the Red Coat by Roma Ligocka, Iris Von Finckenstein

As a child in German-occupied Poland, Roma Ligocka was known for the bright strawberry-red coat she wore against a tide of gathering darkness. Fifty years later, Roma, an artist living in Germany, attended a screening of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, and instantly knew that “the girl in the red coat”—the only splash of color in the film—was her. Thus began a harrowing journey into the past, as Roma Ligocka sought to reclaim her life and put together the pieces of a shattered childhood.

The result is this remarkable memoir, a fifty-year chronicle of survival and its aftermath. With brutal honesty, Ligocka recollects a childhood at the heart of evil: the flashing black boots, the sudden executions, her mother weeping, her father vanished…then her own harrowing escape and the strange twists of fate that allowed her to live on into the haunted years after the war.

Powerful, lyrical, and unique among Holocaust memoirs, The Girl in the Red Coat eloquently explores the power of evil to twist our lives long after we have survived it. It is a story for anyone who has ever known the darkness of an unbearable past—and searched for the courage to move forward into the light.

8. Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis

The true story of the woman who became WWII’s most highly decorated spy

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.

As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher.

9. Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of Elizebeth Smith who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States.

As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma–and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America’s code-breaking history through the prism of Smith’s life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence

10. A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.”

This spy was Virginia Hall, a young American woman–rejected from the foreign service because of her gender and her prosthetic leg–who talked her way into the spy organization deemed Churchill’s “ministry of ungentlemanly warfare,” and, before the United States had even entered the war, became the first woman to deploy to occupied France.

Virginia Hall was one of the greatest spies in American history, yet her story remains untold. Just as she did in Clementine, Sonia Purnell uncovers the captivating story of a powerful, influential, yet shockingly overlooked heroine of the Second World War. At a time when sending female secret agents into enemy territory was still strictly forbidden, Virginia Hall came to be known as the “Madonna of the Resistance,” coordinating a network of spies to blow up bridges, report on German troop movements, arrange equipment drops for Resistance agents, and recruit and train guerilla fighters.

Even as her face covered WANTED posters throughout Europe, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped with her life in a grueling hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown, and her associates all imprisoned or executed. But, adamant that she had “more lives to save,” she dove back in as soon as she could, organizing forces to sabotage enemy lines and back up Allied forces landing on Normandy beaches.

Told with Purnell’s signature insight and novelistic flare, A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war.

More books on World war 2

  1. The Execution of Private Slovik by William Bradford Huie
  2. If This Is A Man by Primo Levi
  3. From Broken Glass by Steve Ross, Glenn Frank, Brian Wallace
  4. Children of the Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado, Sheila Cohn Dekel
  5. The Hidden Children by Jane Marks
  6. The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
  7. Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl, Marion Blumenthal Lazan
  8. Steal a Pencil for Me by Jaap Polak

Special mention

Here are some books that Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, Head of research center, Auschwitz Museum recommended on the topic.

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Let’s talk

Which of these books on World war 2 have you read and loved? Do you have a favorite WW2 fiction/non fiction? Let us chat.

Where do you see your blog going?: Sunday Musings #120

Invest in yourself: 12 ways to improve your life

Investing doesn’t always have to be about wealth or money. IMHO, the best investment would be to invest in yourself so that you have a fulfilling life, and that would possibly help you earn as you as want to.

What it means to “invest in yourself”?

The past year threw curveball on many of our plans and dreams. And for many of us (including me) it has been a drastic wake up call. I realized that my life could turn upside down in a day and I was not anywhere closer to whom I wanted to be, if and when that happens.

The gap between the person that I am currently and the person that I want to be is quite huge. And I consider anything that I do to fill that gaping hole is an investment in myself.

Why investing in yourself matters?

AKA what are the primary benefits in making a bet on yourself or by making an investment on you as person, not your job or business?

Investing in yourself:

  • Makes us grow into a better person
  • Helps us to build self confidence
  • Opens avenues for financial and career development

So what do you think are that areas that you can work on to start investing yourself?

1) Set SMART goals

Knowing where you want to go in the next 1, 5, and 10 years will give a great start in helping yourself reach there. This applies for both personal or business/professional growth.

And not just any goal or target, but set a SMART goal.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time bound
Credit: ifeandstylemag.com

Setting a goal and a plan to achieve those goals is the critical step towards your dreams.

2) Develop your skills

Many a times, developing your skills or even learning a new skill can boost up your resume and open new avenues in terms of your career. But there are quite a few skills that help you to lead a better life in general.

  • Enrol in a few free webinars or workshops
  • Youtube and TED talks are also great resources
  • Advance your education through certifications
  • Stay on top by subscribing to publications and blogs

3) Read read read

You knew I was going to say this, right?

Reading is the best and most economical way to invest in yourself. The reading habit gives you a second hand view into lives of others and a chance to learn from their experiences. It also gives you a glimpse into their perspectives and way of life.

If you are newbie, here are few non fiction titles that are short and can be a good a good starting point.

If you are into fiction, these books are a good for a kick start.

4) Find a mentor/coach

Your path to success need not be always alone. Finding a role model or a mentor for yourself can have a huge impact, both in your personal and professional life.

A mentor can help you navigate the hurdles along your career path. You can find a business coach and even a life coach who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge, online.

5) Manage your life better

One of the best ways to invest in yourself is to spend time to organize your life and manage your time better.

A simple time audit exercise might go a long way to know where you spend your time and efforts on and then if they are worth it. I never knew how many hours I waste deciding which book to read next, rather than reading itself.

Planning your week and days ahead and creating routine for yourself may seem complex at first, but once you have tried it you will never go back to being a “unplanned chaos”.

6) Put your health first

More often, in the pursuit of success and wealth, we put our health on the backseat.

Investing on yourself means keeping your body and brain healthy. Put in some time to exercise or some physical activities in your new routine.

Not so healthy choices
credit: Tenor

I know most of us run on caffeine but replacing that with just water. Include greens and other healthy choices in your daily routine.

These small habits affect our mood and happiness, and thus increase our productivity as well.

7) Choose to be happy

Speaking of mood and happiness, make a conscious effort to keep yourself positive and cheerful.

I know with all that is happening around the world, it is definitely not easy to be light and happy always. But it is ok to step back when it gets overwhelming and choose to be happy.

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”- Abraham Lincoln

8) Get rid of toxic relationships

As a step towards choosing to be happy, get rid of those negative and toxic friendships from your life.

We are made of habits that we pick, subconsciously or not, from our surrounding. It goes without saying what happens when we are staying in an environment that is not conducive to our growth.

If you want to invest in yourself, invest in choosing positive and supportive friends, and getting rid of those who are not.

Oprah calling out toxic people
credit: Tenor

9) Find a community

Surround yourself with people with whom you belong and those who travel in a path similar to yours. The more social relationships you have, the better your mental well being will be.

You don’t have to go out of your way to build a community, just look around (and online) based on your interests.

If you are a blogger, you can join for blogging community right here.

The book twitter fam would be a great place to find your tribe, if you are a bookworm like me.

Make some time to create and cultivate new relationships, so that they add meaning to your life. And maybe they will create new opportunities further down in the future.

10) Give space for your creative process

While creating your new and improved schedule, ensure you have some creative space for yourself. Creative space may mean different to different people.

I can’t do without some quiet time during the mid day. Usually, I need some white noise and maybe a power nap to get through my second day, especially if it is hectic. That never fails to help when I am too distracted and can’t churn out a 1500 word article immediately.

My friend does mandala art or Zentangle to keep her thought spirals away. There are few more who swear by early morning meditation.

It doesn’t always have to art or painting, it can be anything that makes you think differently than usual.

Find out what your creative outlet is and OWN IT.

11) Give yourself a break

More than everything, please be kind to yourself. Be conscious about how you speak to yourself. Ask if you will say that to your friend. If you won’t, then why are you so hard on yourself?

It is okay if everything doesn’t go according to your plan. Forgive your mistakes, acknowledge that you can do better and work on it. No need to pull yourself down, especially when the world is so hard you as well.

12) Catch up on your sleep

Finally, the most important one. Do not mess with your sleep cycle! Try to go to bed at reasonable hours and wake up refreshed. Put your screens away before you hit the bed.

Donald Catching some sleep
credit: Tenor

Consistent sleep pattern can be the best investment you can make on yourself and your physical well being.

A well rested person can be more productive, more creative and more happier than others who are on constant sleep deprivation.

Final note

The key to investing in yourself is patience. None of these tips would make you a different person overnight. You keep practicing them daily and in the long run you will see the change in yourself professionally, mentally and emotionally.

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Let us talk

How do you invest in yourself to become the best version of yourself? What are the small changes you made in your lifestyle that created a huge impact? Let’s chat.