Monday, 29 June 2015

'Correlation' by Mia Grace: A Book Review

When the past and the present collide…
Hailey Kent knows how she wants to spend the summer before her junior year in high school: hanging out at the pool with Jenna, her BFF; riding her new trail bike on Vermont’s country roads; and flirting with Jenna’s hot older brother, Cody.
Hailey’s plans are shattered when a post-graduation accident puts her brother into a coma. Feeling guilty for not stopping him from going out that night, she seeks solace in exploring an old house and its overgrown gardens.
A mysterious correlation of events propels her back in time to the Vietnam War era, where she realizes she can use her knowledge of one boy’s fate to save his life.
But first, Hailey needs to convince him of her sanity.

NOTE: I received an ARC (advance reader copy) from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was actually very surprised to find this book on Netgalley, available for request even though it was published close to eighteen months ago.
Anyway, the plot blurb seemed very intriguing. Trying to move on from a traumatic incident, exploring mysterious mansions and landscapes, time-travelling to a war era, saving someone's life... all by a teenage girl?

But once I started reading, I was somewhat thrown off-track. Correlation is supposed to revolve around going back in time, but that only happens after forty percent of the book ends.
The first half is, thus, almost painfully slow, with nothing eventful happening apart from her brother's coma, although we aren't given a blow-by-blow account of the accident. So... nothing very exciting to begin with.

Finally, about fifty pages in (and this is a very short novel, with less than two hundred pages), a chain of events leads to Hailey borrowing her friend's grandmother's bike and going back up to that mysterious abandoned house, which used to belong to the grandmother's first boyfriend, who was a Vietnam war martyr. 

Somehow, the bike - the one link to the grandma's life with the war hero - sends Hailey back in time, where she might have a shot at saving this Peter's life, and maybe giving the grandmother the life she always wanted with him.  

And that's when shit hits the fan.

No spoilers, but oh, my gosh! Part Two of the book begins, where everything and everyone has changed because of Hailey's dealings with time travel, and nobody has any recollection of the events preceding this change: except perhaps one person, who might just give us all the answers we want. 

The writing is crisp, descriptive and somewhat old-fashioned, vastly different from other young adult novels I've read before. It was a very refreshing change, and I think more authors should embrace this sort of approach. 
Here are some quotes that I liked:

"This may be the first time they've experienced a tragedy like this in someone their own age. They're facing their own mortality."

The person who had died was no longer aware; those left behind were the ones who suffered. 

Like David, the house was a previously vibrant entity reduced to a silent shell. 

"That's the interesting thing about life. Everything you do becomes history, even though you think you're just living day to day."

But in spite of the beautiful imagery used, in spite of the plot twist-ridden second half, in spite of the sweet love story that plays out around the end, the slow first half and the lack of scientific explanation for time travel keeps this book from exceeding expectations.

I'm going to go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for this one.
Correlation makes for an interesting weekend read, although it leaves far too many details to the reader's imagination. I'd recommend it for YA romance readers who aren't big on science fiction. 

Since this book released in November 2013, you might have already read it. What did you think of the plot twist around the middle? Were you expecting a different ending? Also, do you think time travel could ever become reality?

Don't forget to leave a comment below with your thoughts. See you on Wednesday!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

What's On My Playlist (June 2015)

How are you doing on this lovely June morning, Geeks? I hope your day is full of song and dance and happiness, like mine is at the moment. I woke up at 6:15 am today, feeling energetic and ready for anything in my path. College starts in a week, so I have to reset my biological clocks for those early morning lectures.

Anyway, last month's playlist seemed to be a big hit, so I decided to make it a monthly feature. I don't know about you, but this is my relationship with a new song: I like it, I listen to it 50x times on repeat, I love it, I listen to it 100x more times, I get bored of it.
So here are the ten incredible songs I'm obsessed with this month!

1)  Shake It Off | Taylor Swift

I've never really considered myself a 'Swiftie', as they're called, but I have to admit that Taylor is only getting better and better with time. As much as I love her latest single, Shake It Off is still my favourite T-Swift song. Not only is it a 'sick beat', there's also a wonderful message behind it: be who you are, no matter what they say.

Favourite lyric:
// But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop grooving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright." //

2) Not About Angels | Birdy

I may not be a John Green fan, but yes, I am obsessed with the TFIOS soundtrack. This heartbreaking song about death and separation reminds me of the time I wrote my first death scene. Well, to be honest, most TFIOS songs remind me of that novel, but that's only because both stories are really melancholy.

Favourite lyric:
// How unfair, it's just our love
Found something real that's out of touch
But if you'd searched the whole wide world
Would you dare to let it go? //

3) Crazy in Love | Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z

I know I said last month that this version is too much for me, but I've since changed my mind. I find dancing in the shower to be one of the greatest pleasures in the world, and when I'm in my superstar mode, this song is my jam. Gotta love Beyoncé.

Favourite lyric:
// Yes!
It's so crazy right now!
Most incredibly, it's ya girl, Bee,
It's ya boy, young //

4) What You Wanted | One Republic

Before you start calling me a hypocrite, let me remind you that this song was in the trailer, not the movie. I am not a John Green fan, I assure you.
Anyway, the trailer is one of my favourites, so it's no surprise that I love this song.

Favourite lyric:
// I'll put your poison in my veins
They say the best love is insane, yeah
I'll light your fire till my last day
I'll let your fields burn around me, around me //

5) Heroes | David Bowie

70s and 80s music is so powerful! Perks fans would know that this is the famous 'tunnel song' from the movie, which I adore, and this song is also my personal 'window song'.
During college, I would stand by a corridor window, blast this song on my phone, put on my headphones, and enjoy the cool breeze. Try it, and I promise you will fall in love with life.

Favourite lyric:
// Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time,
just for one day
We can be Heroes, for ever and ever
What d'you say? //

6) All I Want | Kodaline

You know, I should just call this blog post 'TFIOS Songs I Love in June'. But that doesn't have a nice ring to it, so I digress.
Another tearjerker that makes me think of my loved ones (fictional and otherwise) dying. Not a pretty sight, but it makes for great writing fodder.

Favourite lyric:
// So you brought out the best of me,
A part of me I've never seen
You took my soul and wiped it clean
Our love was made for movie screens //

7) Feel Again | One Republic

I'm a big Miles Teller fan, and I rewatched The Spectacular Now trailer a few days ago and discovered this amazing song that so perfectly fits the theme of the movie. Incredible song selection, trailer-makers.

Favourite lyric:
// Heart still beating but it's not working
It's like a hundred thousand voices that just can't sing
I reached out trying to love but I feel nothing
Oh, my heart is numb
But with you
I feel again //

8) Just That Girl

I love movies that have big, showy, musical endings. I've done something similar for one of my novels, because there's just something magical about singing and dancing with the person you love.
This song, from Another Cinderella Story, is just perfect for a dancing-in-the-shower jam session.

Favourite lyric:
// To me you're a star
When you move you're off the charts
You've already won my heart
That girl //

9) Smile | Mikky Ekko

Paper Towns: worst book ever, in my opinion. Trailer: mediocre. Movie: will probably go the same way. But this song is just so positive and optimistic and hopeful, and those are all the qualities I want to see in myself and my life!
I dare you to listen to this song without smiling. If you can do it, you are emotionless and empty.
(Just kidding... maybe)

Favourite lyric:
// Smile, the worst is yet to come
We'll be lucky if we ever see the sun
Got nowhere to turn, and we've got nothing but time
But the future is forever, the future is forever, so smile //

10) Gone, Gone, Gone | Philllip Phillips

This guy really likes repeating his words, doesn't he?
From The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, this song is about friendship and always being loyal to the ones you love. I feel like this could be the Hufflepuff theme song.

Favourite lyric:
// You're my back bone
You're my cornerstone
You're my crutch when my legs stop moving
You're my head start
You're my rugged heart
You're the pulse that I've always needed //


As you can probably tell, I love fun dance numbers that aren't electronic and songs that resonate with the heart. Have any recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments below.

I'll see you next time, musical Geeks. Bye!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pretty Little Liars 6x04 (Don't Look Now): A Recap


After lying to Alison and Jason about Charles, Kenneth comes clean about the family’s connection to the young boy. While he won’t give much detail about Charles’ past, he says enough to give the PLLs a clue of where to look for the missing pieces — Radley Sanitarium. With Radley now closed and the files shipped off to be shredded, the girls must act fast before all traces of Charles’ past disappear.​Meanwhile, Caleb’s protective nature starts to pinch Hanna, and Spencer seeks a remedy for her sleeping issues.

And the #SummerOfAnswers continues, although it might be prudent to also call it the #SummerOfQuestions. The more answers we get, the more confused we become. I guess that's why people are addicted to PLL.


Finally, Alison tells the Liars that Daddy DilLaurentis spilled the beans on this whole 'Charlie' fiasco. Turns out Charles, their eldest kid, was a troubled child who had to be moved to Radley Sanitarium after he tried to kill baby Alison... but Mr. D insisted that Charles couldn't be the man behind the mask.
Why, you ask?
Because Charles is dead. He killed himself at the age of sixteen while in Radley, and there was no funeral. He was cremated by his mother.

Even though most of the Liars are sympathetic and trying to understand Ali's plight, Hanna is insistent: "No body, no grave, no proof."
And considering that this is Rosewood, I think she's on the right track. But Radley Sanitarium has shut down now, so who knows where all the patient files might be?

Snooping around for clues can be difficult when your loved ones have such a strong hold on you. Aria's doing her best to keep her distance from her dad, and the memories of the dollhouse, by focusing on her photography, and by taking pictures of - you guessed it - dolls.
But one day as she's in the dark room, developing her photos, she finds a note from 'A'. The first 'A' note of season six: 'You're still my doll, bitch.'

That's how we finally find out the truth behind Aria's chopped locks: 'A' forced her to go grunge or lose it all.
But that's not all. Aria realises that she's locked in the dark room, and as she pounds on the door, almost suffocating in fear, her knight in shining armour appears: new boy Clark, a budding photographer. Is this a new romance on the horizon? Because the Ezria ship has hit an iceberg and should not be rescued.
Finally, she comes clean to her father about her trauma in the Dollhouse. Way to go, Aria.

Meanwhile, Sara Harvey continues to be her creepy, weird self (what is up with that dead-in-the-eyes look?), and although Mrs. Fields is hesitant about continuing to take care of the girl, Emily isn't ready to part with her future wife (possibly?) just yet.
Sara runs away from the Fields household but comes back because her mother still has... issues. She confides in Em that she just wants to have a normal teenage life.
You can't have a normal teenage life in Rosewood, but you can try. So Emily takes her swimming, and in the darkness of the night, the girls share a sweet moment where they gaze into each other's eyes.

The more Spencer tries to ignore her problems, the more they come up to the surface, and she tells Hanna that there's one night in the dollhouse that she can't remember. She woke up, covered in someone's blood. Was it just a trick played by Charlie or did she really hurt someone?
Mrs. Hastings was right - Spencer's addiction problem is starting to creep in again. When she discovers that none of the other girls are having anxiety issues like her, she rifles through the Montgomery garbage bin to find the pills Aria's thrown away. Ick.

When that doesn't work, she approaches the new 'baker' in town, who reeks of weed but makes the best pastries. Tsk, tsk. Don't do this, Spencer.

The girls find Charles' Radley files in a storage unit somewhere. There are no records past his sixteenth birthday, or before he turned thirteen, but there are two visitors in his log: Mrs. D and Alison's Aunt Carol.
Jason remembers what happened when he once went to visit Aunt Carol's house. She's been dead for years, but his mother was still taking care of the house, careful to not let Jason stay long. Judging by the noises coming from inside the house, she wasn't alone. Could Charles really be alive?

Well, there's a grave with his name on it. Looks like he wasn't cremated after all. The girls and Jason discover his gravestone outside the perimeters of Aunt Carol's house. That was why Mrs. DiLaurentis couldn't let go of the house.
So if Charles is dead, who is this person impersonating him? Maybe someone who knew him from Radley?

Hanna and Caleb hit a rough patch this episode, when the (formerly) perfect boyfriend reveals that he put a tracker in Hanna's car so he'd always know where she is. Creepy much?
Hanna snaps, telling him that she's feeling suffocated by his constant presence in her life. "I need some space," she says, and Caleb looks shattered. Sorry, buddy.

As the episode comes to a close, we get our first 'A' sneak-peek after so long. Charles sits in front of a computer, tracking the girls' locations and eating candies. Whoa. Did he implant trackers into their bodies?


The number of questions I have is increasing day by day, but I'm still really impressed by the quality of the season six episodes. Good job, PLL Powers That Be.

I feel like they're introducing too many new characters, especially when we only have six more episodes to go before the big time leap. Lorenzo, Clark, Sara, the stoner chef... and I hear there are more people to come.

No way in hell is Charles dead. We thought Ali was dead, because there was a body and a grave and a funeral, but that was a lie. We thought Mona was dead, because there was shady footage and a lot of blood, but that was also a lie. So a stone stuck in mud is not enough proof for me, thank you very much.

Anyway, Marlene King has confirmed that at least a few people on the internet have got their theories right. After today's episode, I'm really starting to believe in the Wren-is-Charles theory. After all, he's old enough, he has a troubled past (mentally unstable father, mention of 'ambiguous loss'), he's connected to more than one Liar, and he did serve his time at Radley.

I'm sorry to see Hanna and Caleb fight, but I can understand where she's coming from. I hate being put on a leash, and understandably, that's how she feels, too.

Sara and Emily is definitely happening. I'm not in favour of it. Bring Paige back. Or send Emily to wherever Paige is. But Sara Harvey is connected to Charles in some way, and that can only mean major heartbreak for Em.

Most Likely to be 'A' This Week

Going by the episode at least, Caleb seemed suspicious enough with his tracker and his Edward Cullen-esque boyfriend mentality.
But I'm sticking with Wren for now.

Next week's episode promises to be a doozy. With dead bodies, the return of Mona and more secrets to be uncovered, it's clear that PLL is going darker than it's ever been before.
But who's this "she" in a black hoodie Sara is talking about? Is this yet another red herring?

Crazy episode, wasn't it? What are your 'A' theories? Do you think someone's impersonating Charles, or is he still alive? Tell me everything that's on your mind in the comments below.

I'll see you next week, PLL Geeks. Bye!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Grammar with the Geek #1: They're, There, Their & Other Confusing Words

You might remember the first People Who Annoy Me post I did on this blog, almost two years ago. Yes, it was about grammar killers. And although I hated - and still hate - the fact that people take grammar for granted, I realise now that I never did anything about it.

Well, it's time to change that.

Welcome to the first ever Grammar with the Geek! One of my friends (who is also a loyal reader of the blog) suggested that I make use of my not-so-bad language skills by helping other people hone theirs.

I can already hear your excuses for not wanting to read this post:
"Swati, I'm studying engineering. What does grammar have to do with my future career?"
"Whatever you're name is, I'm a writer on Wattpad. I know my grammer."
"Geekie chick, your blog is boring me."

Well, tough luck. Engineer, you can't climb up the career ladder with a typo on your resume. Wattpad writer, you don't know the first thing about 'grammer'. Loyal reader, there are still many funny GIFs and memes in this post, so don't worry.

I've decided to start from the very, very basics of grammar: similar sounding words that most people on my Facebook feed tend to mix up.
Read on to find out the difference between there, their and they're, you're and your, it's and its, then and than, and (finally) affect and effect.

1) There, Their, They're

Use 'there' when you're talking about a place. Use 'their' as a possessive pronoun. Use they're when you don't feel like saying 'they are'. Simple enough, right? But people still mix them up. I wonder why.
Situation: Ron and Harry are going to the Chamber of Secrets to find Ginny's dead body.
Answer: They're going there to find their friend's dead body.

2) Your vs You're

Use 'your' as a possessive pronoun. Use 'you're' when social convention dictates that using 'you are' is too formal (i.e., most of the time).
This is possibly the most common grammatical error people make, but no worries! It's easy as pie.
Situation: Loyal Reader is wondering where their Hogwarts letter went.
Answer: You're (you are) wondering where your Hogwarts letter went.

3) It's vs Its

Use 'it's' when you want to say either 'it is' or 'it has', and use 'its' as a possessive pronoun.
When you think about it, all these mix-ups are because of one simple reason: people don't know the difference between contractions and possessive pronouns.
Situation: John Watson left the military service many years ago, but the memories are yet to leave him.
Usage: It's been three years since John Watson left the military service, but its memories continue to haunt him.

4) Then vs Than

Use 'then' when you're talking about time or a condition (if... then). Use 'than' when you're comparing two things, people or situations.
Situation: After listening to Gale's proposal, Katniss turned him down because Peeta was much more worthy of her.
Usage: Katniss waited patiently for Gale to finish his boring proposal, and then said, "Peeta is a hundred times better than you, especially after the spoilerific events of Mockingjay Part 2. Sorry."

5) Affect vs Effect

I'll admit that this one is tricky, and not always applicable. So in most cases, use 'affect' as a verb and 'effect' as a noun.
Things could go the other way, though, but that's far too advanced for this first lesson.
Situation: Hermione used a potion on her bushy hair and Ron suddenly found her attractive.
Usage: The after-effects of Sleekeazy's Potion on Hermione's hair affected the way Ron saw her.

That was quick, simple and educational, was it not? Plus, I've always wanted to use grammar memes on the blog.

Anyway, is there anything else you have trouble with? Leave a comment below and help me decide which grammatical error to tackle in the next installment of Grammar with the Geek!


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Pretty Little Liars 6x03 (Songs of Experience): A Recap

The girls’ lives have been turned upside down by their captivity and each one of them is looking for answers to make sense of their ordeal. Aria focuses on Andrew by trying to figure out who this boy really is while Emily tries to connect with a new friend. In true Spencer fashion, she is on a mission to get answers about Charles from Ali and Jason. Hanna wants to bring the four friends back together so they can move past what happened in the Dollhouse.
Meanwhile, Alison is no longer the queen bee/mean girl she once was – but who is she now? A new friend tries to help her find the courage to start anew and find the 'new' Alison.

So last week's episode took a break from all the sleuthing, but in Songs of Experience, the girls - led by Aria - don their detective caps and get right down to business.


Well, it's supposed to be the girls' first day back at school, but of course they all have their excuses. The super-creepy Sara is still at Emily's house, and of course she can't be left alone. Spencer has to be the support system for Alison, who believes (quite correctly) that this entire Charles shenanigan is all because of her. Aria just isn't ready yet, and Hanna... well, she's the only one who still wants to get her diploma, apparently.

Dr. Sullivan, who's now counselling at Rosewood High, suggests that Hanna come see her at her office later. But Hanna is tired of being alone. No matter what happened in the Dollhouse, she misses her friends, and she wants them talking about their trauma together.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo is showing off his soccer skills as a youth leader, and wants Alison to volunteer, because she's got the "moves". But Ali knows that she has a reputation in this town, and there's no way any sane parent would let her be a guide for young girls. Lorenzo's quick to assure her that he's got her back.
Toby returns as Rosewood's New Creepy Cop as he sips coffee and watches the duo get their flirt on.

As much as Aria tries to get her mind off what happened, she can't help but wonder who Andrew really is, and why he did what he did. After some sleuthing, she and Ezra discover that Andrew's adopted. Could he really be Charles?

At the emergency Sullivan meeting, Spencer storms in and announces that she's spoken to Jason about Charles 'Charlie' DiLaurentis, his imaginary friend when he was little. This imaginary friend had to leave one day, though, because his father said so.
But the boy in the home movies and the man in the Dollhouse certainly weren't imaginary. What's Daddy DiLaurentis hiding?

Just when you think the girls are finally doing something sensible and talking about their traumatic experiences, Emily gets a FaceTime notification from Sara, who was given one of Caleb's extra phones just in case. Turns out Sara's taking a nap, but Charles isn't. He's got a knife to her throat and doesn't plan on leaving unless the girls head out of Sullivan's office immediately. Tsk, tsk.

Sara's alive and kicking, although still unnervingly terrifying, but there is some bad news in store for the girls anyway. Andrew Campbell is being released in a few hours. He has an alibi for all the non-murders and the cops have nowhere enough evidence to build a case against him. So if he was still in jail when the girls were being blackmailed, Charles is clearly still out there.

After some more sleuthing, Aria finds a photograph of Mrs. D, Jason and Charles in the DiLaurentis household. There's no way this kid is imaginary.

As the girls are returning home, Hanna finally comes clean about what 'A' made her do, and is surprised when she finds out that all the other girls has to play the shock therapy game, too... except there were no shocks, other than the psychological kind. Charles was just messing with their heads.
Then they see Andrew walking out of jail. He accuses the girls of betraying him when all he had done was try to find them. "Other towns have toxic dumps," he says angrily. "Rosewood has you." Ouch.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger. Jason and Alison confront their dad about their missing family member, but, in typical PLL fashion, we don't get to hear the answers. All we see as the camera zooms out is Charles, dressed in his 'A'-gear, spying on his long-lost relatives.


Why do they have to make us wait an entire week to find out what Mr. D has to say? Why?

And seriously, Toby ought to have taken off that police uniform by now. It's turning him into a moron. Did he seriously try to get Spencer to cockblock Alison and Lorenzo?

I had almost thought they were going nowhere with the Spencer-is-a-Druggie storyline, but we do see her popping a pill towards the end. Maybe she'll get crazy enough to return to Radley and find out more about Charles.

Am I the only one, or do you think the writers are trying to make Emily and Sara happen? I really, really, really hope not. I have a really strong feeling she's Charles' minion or that she's in love with him or something of that sort. And can Emily ever just be single? For once? Can for once she just be single?

I found it a bit odd that Mr. DiLaurentis blamed Jason for everything that's been happening. Sure, he's not going to win 'Son of the Year' any time soon, but why be so angry, Mr. D? Why?

Aria's the only Liar who's always staring at mirrors. I still think she could have a dual personality. She's the most volatile of them all.

Most Likely to be 'A' This Week

Charlie. Duh.
But Sara's plenty suspicious too. As is Toby. I don't like you anymore, Toby.

Anyway, here's next week's promo. We'll find out more about the gAmes played in the Dollhouse, and how the girls might have done some serious damage to each other even without the shock therapy. Looks like Daddy DiLaurentis tells his kids how he met Charles. Except that it's still not the real story. Sigh.

Anyway, who was on your 'A'-dar this week? What did you think about this week's episode? I can't wait to discuss everything with my PLL Geeks.
I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Au revoir!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

How to Live The Life You're Meant to Live

Jeff Goins, a brilliant new voice counting Seth Godin and Jon Acuff among his fans, explains how to abandon the status quo and live a life that matters with true passion and purpose.

I read a lot of self-help books and blogs and articles... but I don't write about all of them. No, I save these posts for something special. Earlier this year, I wrote about Scott Adams's book and how we can learn so much from it.
Today, I'm talking about another book that has inspired me to do what I love to do: write. And that's why I'm here.

I like to believe there are three kinds of people. The first kind are the brave and lucky ones. They know what they want to do with their lives, and they go right ahead and conquer their dreams.
The second kind are brave but unlucky. As much as they want to find their calling, they can't. They have no idea what they're meant to do, so they just try different things, trying to find that special something.
The third kind? They're just afraid. They know what they want to do, they know what they can do, but... what if they fail? What if they end up poor and lonely? So why not stick with the boring, meaningless job doing what they hate? At least it's decent money.

The First Kind
The first kind does not need my words of advice. I need theirs. They're the people we read about on the internet or in the newspaper. They're the people who write books like The Art of Work. They're the people who are happy, even excited, at the thought of Monday mornings and going to work.

The Second Kind
Some people have a taste for everything. Maybe they like basketball, coaching, fitness, business management, and every other thing you can think of. Maybe they're good at too many things and can't decide which one they're best at. So they jump from one occupation to the other without ever feeling satisfied. They try everything but just can't find their calling.

But the thing is, a calling doesn't have to be one thing. Actually, it isn't ever one thing. The true calling is your life. It's everything you do every single day. 

People are not robots programmed to do one thing. We are multifaceted creatures with many varied interests. And though we may like to believe we were born to do just one thing, the reality is that most of us are hardwired for a handful of activities that when combined lead to our greatest satisfaction and best work.
- Jeff Goins
The trick to doing what you're meant to do isn't to find the one thing you love best. The trick to living the best life you can live (what Jeff calls a 'portfolio life') is to incorporate all your talents into your career. You don't have to just be a businessperson or a writer or a public speaker. You can be all of the above.

The Third Kind

I've been living the third kind of life all these years. Sure, I'd write and blog and dream about making it big someday, but then I'd go back to wondering where I should get my MBA and which multinational company I should join after that MBA.

And I have a feeling that many of you - no, most of you - are living a similar kind of life. Deep down, you know what you really want to do. You can hear a whisper in your head when you see the word 'calling'. Maybe you have a business plan. Maybe you want to be an actor, or a singer, or a writer, like me. Maybe you want to start your own restaurant.
But you push those thoughts away because of all the 'what ifs'.

We can spend our days dreaming of a better life or do the messy work of getting started today. You are not just waiting on your calling; your calling is waiting on you. And you can sit around, playing the what-if game until you're exhausted, or you can begin by saying that one little word that changes everything: let's.
- Jeff Goins
You aren't just losing out on your dreams, the world is losing out on your talent. Each of us is different. Each of us has something special to offer to the world. But if each of us is busy hiding inside our cushy little comfort zone, who's going to make a difference?

I might not be a revolutionary or a freedom fighter. My novels might not be literary masterpieces or lessons of life. My blog might only have a handful of loyal readers. But if these words on a page make someone smile, or make them learn to love themselves, or make them laugh at the funny GIFs, then I've done my job, and I've done it well.

Another point I ought to mention is that everything you've ever done with your life, no matter how irrelevant or useless you think it might be, it all makes a difference in the end. Every incident, every person you meet, every minute of your life shapes you into the person you're capable of becoming. You just have to find out how you can make use of your past to shape your future.

Nothing is wasted. No job, no task, no obstacle is useless, if we are willing to see how it can fit into our calling.
- Jeff Goins
So whether you're afraid, confused or unsure, remember that every part of your life is supposed to feel right. You aren't doing what you're meant to do if you shudder at the thought of working. You can change that, however, just by thinking about your past, present and what you want your future to be like. 

You can live the life you're mean to live if you want to. There is no other obstacle. So go ahead and live it.

Have you found your calling yet, Geeks? Which life do you think you're living, and how do you think you can make the shift to the first life?
Also, if you haven't already, do check out Jeff's new book. It's a real eye-opener, and it's full of real life examples of simple people just like you and me who have found their calling.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pretty Little Liars 6x02 (Songs of Innocence): A Recap

The girls may have gotten out of the Dollhouse, but what happened to them during their time of captivity has lasting effects. With worried loved ones watching over them, the PLLs are home and trying to heal, with not much success. Even with suspected tormentor Andrew in custody, Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer fear they are far from safe.
Meanwhile, Alison must deal with her past indiscretions and her notoriety around Rosewood. 

Okay, it's official: season six is churning out some of the best episodes in a very, very long time. We may not have got a lot of answers this episode (or the last one), but this episode was still incredibly engaging.

For the first time in forever, instead of focusing on the 'A' mystery storyline, Songs of Innocence lets us into the psyche of the girs and how they cope with the trauma they've been through. Wonderful. 

(Er, I do not mean that in a sadistic way.)


The episode opens with the girls recovering in a hospital, talking about the man behind the mask: suspect Andrew Campbell. Some of the girls aren't sure if it could really be him, but Aria is adamant. Why else would that sick freak get so close to her family? In any case, they decide not to tell the cops anything about Charles. Let them figure it out all on their own.

Before leaving the hospital, Emily checks in on Sara Harvey. Distraught and depressed, Sara admits that she had been in that hellhole for over two years. But she isn't open to Emily's probing about Charles. After all, she's been through a lot.

Alison finally asks her father about Charles DiLaurentis, but in vain. He's quick to tell her no such boy exists. But can Ali believe him?

Back home, the four Liars still find themselves trapped in the dollhouse. Wherever they go, no matter what they do, the memories of their time in that place continue to haunt them. Terrified, each Liars tries to deal with her problems in a different way.

Spencer goes right back into Detective Hastings mode, convincing Alison that her father is a liar. She also lashes out against her mother for taking away her anti-anxiety medication. Veronica Hastings is worried she will relapse, but Spencer is adamant. She needs those pills.
And so, when she's alone in Aria's bedroom, she steals one. Way to go, Spence.

Emily is truly the daughter of a military man. Sporting his army jackets and stealing his guns, she makes her way to the firing range in spite of her mother's warnings. But the firing range only brings back memories of what Charles made the girls do...

We discover that Charles, inspired by Milgram's Experiment, forced the girls to electrocute each other. Pick one, the voice said, or everyone gets hurt. He made the girls turn against each other in the worst way possible.

And that's why Hanna can't bring herself to face the girls again. In fact, she can't even face herself in her own bedroom. With help from her mother and Caleb, she decides to redesign and renovate her entire room. She wants to tear it all down and start afresh.

Aria messes up the most, though. First she shouts at Ezra for trying to help her pen down her thoughts, and then she gives a false eyewitness testimony.
Now that Andrew Campbell is finally behind bars, she goes to the police station with her mom and claims to have seen the suspect's face in the dollhouse, even though we all know she didn't. Thankfully, the police don't seem to believe her.

And Alison? The blue-eyed blonde returns to church, making a new friend along the way: new cop Lorenzo. He seems to be a good-natured fellow, and he definitely likes Alison, considering the fact that he was making googly eyes at her, but he's a Rosewood cop. Can we trust him?

As the episode comes to an end, we find Sara Harvey lurking outside Emily's house. In typical Sara Harvey fashion, she ran away from home because she was guilty of ruining her mother's life. She also admits to Emily that she does not think the police have caught the right guy. And since she was in there longer than any of them, maybe the Liars ought to trust her instinct...


I could not possibly imagine what the girls went through. Granted, I don't have or want as many friends as they have, but I could never pick which one gets a free pass and which one gets fried!
And Sara Harvey was there for more than two years... how can that be, if Charles only became 'Big A' recently? Or has he been calling the shots all along, even with Mona?
And why was Aria wearing a top that said 'BARF' on it?

Speaking of the first 'A', where was Mona this episode? The Liars mentioned that she was in the hospital along with them, but why don't we get to see how she's dealing with this mess? After all, Mona's ordeal was far worse than the Liars'.

I can't believe Spencer's drug addiction storyline is making a reentry. No offence, writers, but I'm a little tired of it.
And I thought Toby was leaving the police force? And where was Detective Tanner?

Also, Ashley Marin wins the award for 'Best TV Mom, Ever'.

Most Likely to be 'A' This Week

Not Andrew, obviously. Ezra made a very short appearance this episode, so I couldn't tell if he was still being creepy or not.
Did any of you think Alison and Toby's conversation outside the police station sounded a little... suspicious? Maybe my mind is just going into overdrive what with all the mystery, but I have a feeling there's more going on behind the scenes than we know.

 Next episode's promo looks exciting. Looks like Jason remembers something about 'Charlie'. 

What are your 'A' theories? I've been rewatching from the very beginning, and I agree with the many viewers who believe Wren is Charles. Let me know in the comments below: what's your favourite 'A' theory?

See you next week!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Philosophical Ramblings #2: Is the Death Penalty Justified?

It's been a few weeks since my first philosopical post, which you can read here.
Anyway, that post was received very well, probably because its topic was not that controversial. This one, though...

I'll be upfront and tell you that I don't believe in the death penalty. Not because I think criminals should be able to get off scot-free, or because I don't trust the legal system in this country.
No, I don't believe in the death penalty because of the number of wrongful convictions that occur world-wide.

A study has shown that approximately 10,000 innocent people are wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year in the United States. One can only imagine what that number would be worldwide.
“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
                           -- William Blackstone
The fact is that wrongful convictions can occur due to eyewitness misidentification, false confessions or police misconduct. In countries where the legal system often faces scrutiny from the public, a lot of officials can be tempted to put anyone behind bars or on death row just to close the case. Being involved in traumatic situations can lead to the victim or eyewitness unintentionally picking the wrong suspect out of a lineup. The suspect, in turn, can be forced by the police, under threat of serious violence, to confess to a crime that he or she did not commit.

Can you imagine spending even a single day in jail for something you didn't do? Most people who are wrongfully convicted spend years in prison, and a significant percentage are on death row without any chance of proving their innocence. All because we as a society are so desperate to blame someone - anyone - for the crime. If not the victim, then the police. If not the police, then the suspect. It's a vicious cycle that's only making things worse.

Now, let's forget about wrongful conviction for a moment, and think about the effectiveness of the death penalty. Does sentencing someone to death lower the murder or crime rate in a country?
According to this study, 88% of leading criminologists believe that executions do not act as a deterrant to crime.

So taking into consideration the alarming rates of wrongful conviction, as well as the fact that the death penalty may not actually be effective in reducing the crime rate, why are we still sentencing criminals to death? Criminals are who they are as a result of nature and nurture. Why can't we look more into preventing crimes instead of playing the blame game?

Well, I should mention that this is just my opinion. Apart from two courses I took on the psychology of criminal justice, I have no legal background and I'm clearly not an expert. I'm sure many of you believe in the death penalty, and you have every right to. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

I hope you're enjoying this philosophical series. What would you like to discuss next time? Leave a comment below and let me know if you've thought of any interesting topics.

The next Pretty Little Liars episode comes out tomorrow. Stay tuned for my recap, Geeks!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Pretty Little Liars 6x01 (Game On, Charles): A Recap

Aria, Emily, Hanna, Spencer and Mona are trapped outside of Charles' dollhouse with nowhere to go and must now deal with an angry tormentor. As the girls struggle to survive, the puzzle of Charles' story begins to come together.

And finally, here we are. Feels like just yesterday when the fifth season of Pretty Little Liars ended on a massive cliffhanger, but now the first episode of season six has passed us by and given us a lot more to think - and obsess - about.  


The season premiere starts with the Liars (and Mona) stuck outside the dollhouse, come rain or shine, with no escape. But Charles' temper is short-lived, because he soon lets them back into the game... only to gas the Liars. They wake up a few hours later in a room that resembles a morgue.
Mona walks in, dressed as Alison, acting as though the game never ended. The girls are sent to their room, where a 'surprise' awaits them. The moment their doors close, they all cry out in pain or fear. What's going on?

That's not the only surprise, though. We see another girl hiding in the shadows, a blonde girl in a yellow top. Could that be Bethany Young?

Back in Rosewood, we find out that the Liars have been missing for almost a month now, and Alison's sentence has been overturned. At a press release, she pleads Andrew, the main suspect behind this spectacle, to leave the girls alone. "They are my rock," she says, "and without them, I would be lost in the woods. All alone."

Detective Tanner's still trying very hard to prove that she isn't useless. Alison has been given 24-hour security, although that fact is being kept secret from the media. The police are hoping that Andrew will make an attempt to 'collect' Alison, and when he does, he'll be the one getting collected.

But Ali has her own plans. She's hoping to lure A to the kissing rock with the help of Ezra, Caleb and Toby, away from the watchful eyes of Tanner. At the kissing rock, Alison finds a car waiting to be driven to the dollhouse. She gets in.

Meanwhile, the Liars seem to have gone back in time - not literally. Aria's punky pink hair is back, as are Spencer's preppy sweaters and Emily's swim gear. They're sent to Alison's room to prepare for her 'arrival'. Looks like Charles is definitely expecting the real Ali to make an appearance.

Where's Mona, though?
Since Charles no longer needs an Ali stand-in, Mona is being held hostage in a deep pit, with only her music to comfort her. She's sure that Charles is going to kill her.

The Liars have had enough, though. They find a secret entrance into Charles' 'vault' and discover his secret stash of memories. Dolls, baby clothes, home videos... yes, Charles is definitely a DiLaurentis.

As Alison makes her way towards the dollhouse, the Liars threaten Charles: leave them alone or they burn his 'soul'.

Charles takes the bait. He switches on the fire alarm, forgetting Ali's proximity to his lair, and the Liars (with Mona in tow) try to find a way out. Alison, Ezra and Caleb find the entrance to the dollhouse and get the girls out. The police arrive in time to realise that there's a sixth girl inside... a girl named Sara Harvey.


I can't believe the creators started the #SummerOfAnswers without any answers. If anything, we now have more questions. Why has Andrew gone missing? We know the police suspect him because his 'diary' reveals his obsession with the girls, but the real question is this: who planted that diary?

As for Sara Harvey, she went missing years ago! Has she been living in the dollhouse all this time?

But that isn't possible, because Mona was the first A, and she knew nothing about this lair. What's going on?

We're finally seeing Alison in a positive light. I somehow doubt that's going to last. Alison is the cause for all this drama, after all.

Last episode, Spencer was in the same room as Charles, and she tells the Liars that he seemed familiar, somehow. Like 'a cousin' or someone you knew when you were little. That's another clue. Charles is clearly Jason's estranged brother!
A lot of people think Wren is Charles, but if that's true, then Melissa was going to marry a member of her family, a member who also made out with Spencer. That's just... ick.

Most Likely to be 'A' This Week

Did anyone else think Ezra was giving off a really creepy vibe this episode? Maybe it's his beard that's making him look like the bad guy, but I somehow don't trust him. I have a feeling Ezra could be in cahoots with Charles, whoever that is. 
Or maybe Ezra's acting was just off today... 

Anyway, this episode was incredible. I was glued to the screen for every single minute. And considering the degrading quality of PLL over the years, that's saying something.
I can't wait for next week. The promo seems exciting... I wonder when we'll find out who Charles is. I hope it's worth the wait.

Did you enjoy this season premiere? What are your 'A' theories? Did you also miss Andrew's handsome face?

I'll see you next week, PLL Geeks. Bye!