Sunday, 10 September 2017

'That Kind of Love' by Lorna Baldwin: A Book Review


He's gonna (spring) break my heart.

Lars Spencer is bad news incarnate. Too handsome for his own good, too rich to comprehend, and way too close to home. The last time I saw him, his brother was marrying my best friend. And that night, he proved that his playboy ways know no limits. He’s a pig, and I’m saving myself for a prince. I have no business crushing on him...but my silly, stubborn heart didn't get the memo.

So when we end up on the same Spring Break booze cruise, I make myself a promise: we'll just be friends. No matter what. Even if he makes me laugh. Even if he actually listens to me when I talk. Even if he makes my heart race and my body tingle. Because I know how he treats women, and I know I wouldn’t survive the Spencer treatment.

Then again, this trip is supposed to be about pushing my boundaries, letting go, and facing my fears. Trust me on this: loving Lars Spencer is downright terrifying.
Is he really changing his ways, or am I just cruising for trouble?

Note: I received an advance reader copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own. 

There's just something about playboy billionaire romances, isn't there? Maybe it's the whole redemption factor, or the usual enemies-to-lovers trope that I absolutely adore, or maybe it's just because playboy billionaires are - let's face it - extremely attractive. 

Either way, That Kind of Love follows a similar storyline: girl meets billionaire playboy, they start off on the wrong note, eventually fall in love, but his billionaire status makes things difficult. There's a little twist in there that makes things slightly different, though, which I loved.


What I liked best about That Kind of Love is the way the book is written. It's light-hearted and funny, like most other romances out there, but also has two POVs, of Lars and Imani (although the blurb makes it seem as though it's all Imani), with the voices so distinct that you can really tell which protagonist is telling the story without even reading the title of the chapter. 

There are plenty of LOL moments that absolutely made me love Lars's character (I have a soft spot for bad boy billionaires in any case, but still), and the way the love scenes between Lars and Imani are written is electrifying. Their chemistry is wonderful, and that's one of the things that carried me through the novel.
His hand crawled across the seat until it found mine, fingers twining together like an exotic, unique, one-of-a-kind type of lace. Something fragile, something that needed to be taken care of. Something to be treasured. There was a four-letter word on my tongue, and it wasn't the kind that would get me in trouble with Mom.

That being said, the supporting characters didn't seem to have much to do, apart from one or two. There wasn't any subplot involving any of them, which is probably because this is a short novel and there isn't much time to delve deep into their lives. That's fine, but I was still looking forward to something more. 

Speaking of something more, there was definitely something... missing from the novel. I can't put my finger on it, but the first half didn't make me squeal as much as I'd expected it to. The second half made up for the slow start, for sure, but even then, the book and the characters didn't resonate with me so much. 

The punctuation was a little off in some places, and that kind of jarred me. But hey, proofreading is a tricky job sometimes. I'll let it slide. 


However, I did enjoy reading this book, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to.
I thought of the whales, singing to each other, searching for each other. And us. And how maybe we didn't need to search anymore.
I'm going to go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for this one. 

That Kind of Love is funny, charming and romantic, just like its protagonist Lars, but leaves you wishing for and wanting a little more when you finally close the book and let out a breath.

Are you planning on picking this book up, Geeks? If you've already read it, comment down below and let me know your thoughts. And authors, if you want me to review your book, email me here!

See you soon, Geeks. :)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Suicide. It's Not a Bad Word.

Suicide. The word that makes every gaze drop to the floor, makes every person uncomfortable, makes every person abruptly change the topic because they have nothing to say on the matter.


Well, I do. 

Tomorrow (the 10th of September) is World Suicide Prevention Day. And although every day should be suicide prevention day, tomorrow is the day when mental health advocates come together to remind people that yes, suicide is a real thing, and it's something that needs attention and awareness. 

I don't know how many of you reading this have had suicidal thoughts in the past or at the moment (and no, I'm not talking about the jokes you make about how life sucks and how being dead would be better - trust me, I've seen these memes on the internet, and they are an insult to suicide awareness), but I can tell you that I've been there. I've been there. 

A month ago, I was there

My faithful Geeks, the followers of my blog, might know that I've been battling a few mental health issues over the past two years. I won't go into the details, and I won't label them, because I've come to realise that labelling them only makes me see myself as a psychiatric patient, and I'm so much more than that. 

And so are you, dear reader.


A lot of shitty things happened to me in 2016, and that only furthered my suicidal thoughts. Every depressive episode I had led to suicidal ideation, and I had pretty much accepted it as my fate. I'd accepted that this was who I was, a victim to mental illness, and save for taking my meds and going to therapy, I had no other saving grave. 

I never thought, once, to think of myself as a warrior. No, all I did was shun myself, blame myself, and hate myself for it. Worse still, I thought being suicidal and depressed defined me. I wasn't 'me' anymore. I was the depressed, bipolar, borderline chick. 

But to hell with that. I'm Swati the Geek! Always have been, always will be. And it's that revelation that has helped me become who I am today. A survivor.


The thing that's changed about me in the past month - yes, in just a month - is that I've stopped seeing myself as a helpless victim. Instead, I've started seeing myself as my own doctor. I still see my psychiatrist and therapist, and of course, I'm still on meds. But that isn't the end of it. I needed to treat my own self in order to get better. And that's what I did. 

It wasn't easy, for sure, to change my attitude or my mentality. It can be quite a struggle for people who have intrusive thoughts. You feel powerless and out of control. You feel like this is it, this is what the rest of your life is going to be like. I'm here to tell you that it isn't true, not in the slightest. 

What I started doing was believing in myself. In the Universe (I'm an atheist, so I don't believe in God, but I do believe there's a higher power out there, vibrational energy, guiding us all. If you don't believe in it, just stick to believing in yourself). I started believing in a better future. 

A few positivity practices helped me along this one-month journey. I start my day by writing what I look forward to. I write five things I'm grateful for every morning. I recite my positive affirmations that make me feel confident, productive, attractive and happy. I listen to vibrational binaural or isochronic beats that help me tune into my energy. I end the day by jotting down all the positive things that have happened today. It can be something as big as getting a publishing contract (though that hasn't happened to me... yet) or something as small as finding a shiny, pretty pebble on the road. Anything that makes you smile or feel better, even while you're depressed, counts.


These are the things that have worked wonders for me. I don't know if they'll work for you; we won't know unless you try. God, I hope they work for you. And if not, I hope you find the right approach with the help of your doctors, friends and family, but most importantly, yourself. 

Remember that if you've been having suicidal thoughts lately, help is always available. You can find a great doctor within your budget on websites like Practo. You can always talk to a dear friend, mentor or parent, but I cannot stress upon the importance of seeking professional help. Medication may help to a certain extent, but the rest is all on you. Don't worry, I'm positive you can do it. 

Comment down below and let me know what are the two things you're grateful for this morning. Or if you're reading this at night, what are the two positive things that happened today? Affirm something for me. I'll go first: 

(what I'm looking forward to today)
1) Therapy with Dr. Anjali
2) Finishing work on my three manuscripts to be beta read and edited

(an excerpt from my gratitude journal, an app called Bliss, this morning)
1) I'm so grateful my working speed has picked up. My turnaround time has reduced considerably, and it's making my clients so happy. I'm so lucky!
2) I'm so grateful for my supportive family. They always side with me when I'm right. I'm so lucky!

(two of my favourite affirmations)
1) Every day I am becoming more and more positive. 
2) Wealth is constantly flowing in every day!

(an excerpt from last night's positivity list)
1) Wrote 1,000 words of Beating Heart
2) Great arm and upper body workout

Also let me know what kind of posts you like reading. More on mental health? More book reviews? More personal stuff? More philosophical ramblings? I love hearing your thoughts.

See you soon, Geeks. :)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Why Your Money Mindset is All Wrong + Five Steps to Change It

Have you heard about the Pareto principle, Geeks? It's the 80/20 rule that says that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Sounds pretty simple, right? If we apply this to money and income generation, we can say that 80% of the world's money is earned by 20% of the population.
The crème de la crème of society take up a huge chunk of the metaphorical 'cake', leaving the 'rest of us' scrambling for a sliver of a slice. Because it's all about luck and taking advantage of poor people, right?

Well, if that's what you believe... no wonder you're only destined for a slice.

See, the thing is, it's not about your goals, it's about your attitude. What I mean by this is if you're always complaining about how rich people only get rich by exploiting others, you're inherently implying that to be rich, you'd have to exploit someone. You wouldn't want to do that, would you?

And hence you don't get rich.



Do you see what I mean?  It's all about the psychology behind it. There's a difference in the way poor people and rich people see money, and that's the reason some people never make it big in life. I used to be the same way, and I'm sure most of you are. Growing up, the media and society teaches us that money is bad. It makes you a spoilt, bratty person. It makes you hurt other people in order to rise to the top. Haven't we all heard this before?

Friday, 11 August 2017

'Touched by Death' by T.L. Martin: A Book Review

 

What if Death was more tempting than you had ever imagined?
With Grams's recent passing and a boyfriend who cares more about his next drink than her, Lou Adaire only wants to run. To start over somewhere new — maybe in a town where her family has history.
But when a storm sends Lou’s truck plunging into Tuttle Creek Lake, she discovers exactly what it’s like to fight for your life. To gasp for air only to have your lungs fill with icy water. To die.
What comes next changes everything.
Dark eyes. Consuming presence.
Death. As vague as a dream yet as intense as the lightning flashing above her still heart.
Everything about him calls out to her, tugging at her with the warm vibration of his pull. He’s supposed to take her; they both know it. She wants him to.
When she wakes in the hospital in a new town, she can’t forget what she saw. That impossible sensation of him breathing life back into her, a strong beat playing in her chest and a flutter running down her spine.
Trying to move on with her life in a foreign place is hard enough, but when he comes back for more — his burning touch against her skin, his consuming presence weaving in and out of her life, and his own scars running far deeper than hers — Lou begins to realize there’s more to Death, and to the sleepy Kansas town, than she ever expected to find.
Lou lived. But what if she’s not the only one in need of saving?

Note: I was asked to beta read and review this book by the author after a copy was provided to me. All opinions and thoughts are honest and entirely my own. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

I Quit My Job... But I Graduated! // Just a Random Update #12

Okay, the first part of that title probably comes as a bit of a shock to most of you. My Facebook and WhatsApp friends know I started working with a reputed ad tech company in late June. It is now early August, and... I am unemployed.


Okay, that's the wrong term. I have my own freelancing business. So that makes it *self-employed. Yes, that's better. 

Most of you must be wondering why I gave up within a month of starting a new job, why I didn't give it more time, why I didn't suck it up and work because that's what everyone does, right? Some of you may also be wondering why I would post about it on social media. But I'm kinda sick of explaining to everyone why I quit, so I figured this ought to make things clear.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Am I Really An Introvert?

introvert
noun
noun: introvert; plural noun: introverts
ˈɪntrəvəːt/
  1. a shy, reticent person.
    • Psychology
      a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.
Damn, that definition really does not paint introverts in the right light. After all, they aren't necessarily shy, they're probably just quieter and more involved in the inner world than the outer. They just prefer solitude to people. 

You might have just noticed that I said 'they' and not 'we', even though I've been pretty vocal about being introverted in the past, right here on my blog.


That was, what, two years ago? I was a whole other person then. I went on dates with myself. I cancelled plans to stay at home. I hated the idea of college because there were other people around. I despised group projects will all my heart (though, to be fair, I still do). And now? Yes, I still go out alone, but I'd rather go with someone else. My heart leaps up at the thought of going out somewhere, although I still abhor loud places. Being around other people, whether it's at a café or a restaurant or even just a waiting room at the doctor's office energises me. People no longer describe me as quiet or shy but as one of the most talkative people they know.

So can I really still call myself an introvert? 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Why It's Okay to Ask for Help



Help
hɛlp/
noun
noun: help
1.
the action of helping someone to do something.

"I asked for help from my neighbours""

exclamation
exclamation: help
1.
used as an appeal for urgent assistance.

"Help! I'm drowning!"

Or maybe: "Help! I'm dying!"

I'm not sure if it's always been this way - in which case, this is worse than I thought - but there seems to be a trend lately of saying, "People cannot help you. People will not help you. The only person who can save you is yourself."
And let me tell you, that is complete bullshit.
 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Why It's Okay to Say "I'm Not Okay."



I used to be this positive, radiant person, you know? I kept a gratitude journal. I read books on positivity. I wore bright colours and put on makeup even on the bad days. I cheered people up. 

I used to be that girl. 

I'm not her anymore.

Friday, 30 June 2017

'Stolen Songs' by Samantha Armstrong: A Book Review

 

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Maddison is a survivor. An unstable childhood has taught her to depend on no one but herself, which is exactly how she’s gotten to where she is today. With a scholarship to one of the most prestigious schools in the country, she’s finally able to settle into one location until she graduates. But with foster parents hooked on drugs, Maddison is forced to steal to make ends meet, not only for herself but her foster siblings.

Kingsley is filthy rich. An only child, he lives with a mother who is dependent on alcohol, a father who doesn’t talk to him, and his chef, the only real family he has. His life changes when he overhears Maddison playing the cello. She’s snappy, hot, and wants nothing to do with him, and he’s obsessed. As they spend time together, she begins to lower her guard. She’s everything he needs, everything he wants, and for the first time, he’s able to tell someone about his past. Everything is perfect. Until he ruins it.

STOLEN SONGS is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story of letting go of your past when it means taking hold of your future, finding strength in your mistakes, and giving everything you’ve got to heal the ones you’ve broken.

Hey!

So.

It's been a while since my last YA romance (not counting the ones I write).  As you probably already know, YA lit is my favourite genre after romance when it comes to both reading and writing, and I'm always up for a free read... so when an old client, Samantha Armstrong, approached me to review her book, I said:


Okay, maybe not in those words. But you get the picture. 

When I first started reading Stolen Songs, I figured, hey, this is another clichéd rich boy-poor girl story with a small twist: the girl is a petty thief and the guy is a drug dealer. To be honest, I wasn't expecting this book to be incredible or anything. Just another YA novel, you know. 
I can't look at him. I can't move at all. I'm like ice stuck in the moment, but slowly melting by the presence of the sun. Fucking global warming.
Or so I thought. 

What struck me the most about this novel was not the way it's written, but the way it's told. Somehow this feels like a deeply... personal story, as though Samantha (the author) has gone through something of this sort or known someone who has. I hope to dear God that's not true, because a lot of elements in this story are dark and depressing. Triggering, some of them. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, death, betrayal... If that's something you can't stomach, I wouldn't recommend this book.

Thankfully, I was able to, and I think that made the book all the more gripping. Although, to be fair, almost eighty percent of their problems were due to the fact that most of the characters in the book did drugs... but they continued doing drugs to escape from said problem involving drugs. Okay, okay, I suppose that IS how addiction works. But yes. That bit kind of pissed me off. 

Maddison and Kingsley's relationship is YA goals. They're like fire and ice ever since their first meeting, but one cools down and the other warms up as they get to know each other and, like the blurb suggests, let their guards down. Soon they're opening up to each other about things long buried in their hearts, without judgement, without blame, and with only love and music as their source of communication. Kingsley's past actually brought tears to my eyes, and I don't know how I would have dealt with it if that thing had happened to me.
His eyes narrow. "I know you're not that tough, Maddy. I can see you," he says in a smooth tone, and I swallow.
"And can I see you, Kingsley?" I whisper.
He stares deep into my eyes, chewing on the inside of his cheek. "Are you looking?"
Buuuuuut, of course, Kingsley has to go and screw things up. When that moment in the book happens, I cannot tell you how I actually cursed Kingsley out loud because I was that furious. To my immense relief, I was home alone and so nobody thought I was crazy. 

Samantha did tell me that this book has a sequel, but all I thought was, "Okay, it'll probably be a story of them still dating while in college. Classic YA sequel."
But guess what? There's a freaking cliffhanger. A. Freaking. Cliffhanger. 

The way the book ends, that last sentence, that last word, is just... infuriating. Because just WHY would you make us wait I don't know how many more months until we find out what happens next, Samantha? Why? 


I'm going to go with 4.5 stars out of 5 for this one. 
Stolen Songs is a heart-wrenching tale of music, love and loss that will make you grateful for your first world problems (LOL) and remind you that forgiveness might just be a synonym for 'love'. 

Geeks, if you enjoyed this blog post, go pick up a copy and comment your review down below. I really hope you enjoy this book, because I certainly did. Samantha said I could beta read book two, and I'm so looking forward to it! 

I'll see you soon. Bye!

Friday, 2 June 2017

No, I Don't Need To "Eat A Sandwich"

I'm going to come right out and say it. My name is Swati Hegde. I'm 5'2". I weigh 43 kgs.
And before you say anything, let me make one thing clear: no, I am not anorexic.


Neither is Sarah Hyland, who is likely the same height and weight as I am. Recently, Hyland was slammed on social media with people posting disgusting and shaming comments about her weight. "She looks like a skeleton." "Sarrah you look like you need a coupple of doubble whoppers your looking kinda skinny girl." "I'm just saying in order for Sarah to be considered hot/sexy she needs to have decent sized boobs, and that goes for all women."


Some even claimed she had anorexia, which is - breaking news! - a mental illness, not a synonym for 'skinny' or 'thin'. (Look it up.)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

What's On My Playlist (May 2017)

I think the last WOMP blog post I did was a year ago. Wow. I've heard a lot - and I mean a LOT - of good music since then, but unfortunately I can't include all of it here. So here goes: the top five songs on my playlist this month!

(I know I usually do ten songs, but I figured that's a bit much, so five it is.)

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

'Jack Be Quick' by Benjamin Thomas: A Book Review

A picture scrawled in blood pushes paramedic Noah McKeen into a game of hide and seek with someone attempting to honor Jack the Ripper.

Tormented and controlled by little white pills and visions of the woman he had intended to start a family with now in the company of another man, Noah fights to control his sordid selfish behavior and stop a brutal reenactment of history’s most notorious serial killer.

Note: I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Murder. 

I don’t know what it is about murder mysteries that thrills me so much. I’ve always loved them. From watching CID to binge-reading Hercule Poirot to playing James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club games on my laptop, I’ve done it all, and loved every minute of it.
 

So it should come to you as no surprise that I really wanted to get my hands on Jack Be Quick. Jack the Ripper is one of history’s most fascinating serial killers, and I really hoped this novel would do justice to his horrendous work. 

Did it?

Hmm. Yes. 

I’ll admit, the first half of the book wasn’t particularly engaging, seeing as the story was more character-centric than plot-centric. There was also a lot of focus on Noah’s drug addiction, which, while important to the story, did seem to take away from the mystery at hand. 


Next to death, caffeine and narcotics were candy and soda. Maybe his real addiction was tragedy.


I did like his relationship, or lack thereof, with his ex-girlfriend Amber. I loved how, despite whatever went down between them, they still truly cared about each other, although their ways of showing it were a little twisted. 


 Detective Alyssa Madsen was another great character: a total badass, just the way I like my detectives. Her banter with Noah was interesting to say the least, and one of my favourite scenes involves them striking a friendship over a few drinks. 


“Maybe sanctuary isn’t a place. Maybe it’s the people you surround yourself with.”


The mystery itself was good. I loved the fact that there was a lot of involvement with respect to ‘Jack’ (no spoilers), although I was a little disappointed with the reveal. I suppose I expected something more dramatic. I also felt that his backstory could have been explored a little more. That would have given the plot a really nice touch, and given the reader a chance to perhaps – just perhaps – connect with him. 

I liked the writing. It was fast-paced, engaging and well done. I highlighted a couple of quotes (mentioned above) and would have shared more with you, but – well – spoilers!

The ending sort of intrigued me. It paved the way for a sequel, quite possibly, but there’s no cliffhanger as such. There’s enough resolution for it to work on its own.

I’m going to go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for Jack Be Quick

A good homage to Jack the Ripper, Jack Be Quick is a thrilling read, although not quite as addicting as Noah’s little white pills. 


Jack Be Quick came out in stores and on Amazon on May 9th. Pick up a copy if you think it’s your type of read!

PS: Benjamin, or the editors over at Owl Hollow Press, if you’re reading this, do drop me a comment down below and tell me why there’s no comma in the title. Honestly, I’m really curious. (LOL)
 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Truth About Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder
noun
noun: bipolar disorder; plural noun: bipolar disorders; noun: bipolar affective disorder; plural noun: bipolar affective disorders
  1. a mental condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression. 
I'll admit: it's not easy admitting to the internet that you have bipolar disorder. But I've done that in the past, and I'm doing it again, because it's not a bad thing or something to be ashamed of. It's just a part of who I am, and it's a part I've accepted. 
It's been almost two years since my first symptoms of bipolar disorder (depressive episodes) started cropping up, and to celebrate that, I thought it would be nice to openly talk about the things I've been through and maybe, just maybe, prevent you from making the same mistakes I - and my doctors - did.



Tuesday, 4 April 2017

'Open Minds (Mindjack Series, #1)' by Susan Kaye Quinn


When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

'All the Glory' by Elle Casey: A Book Review


Jason Bradley has everything going for him. He's Banner High's first-string varsity wide receiver, headed to another State championship, and the college recruiters are already knocking on his door. His girlfriend is every guy's dream, there's a brand new black Camaro with a 6.2L, V-6 engine parked in his garage, and he's on cruise control.

But when the school's beloved football coach turns up dead and Jason's found standing over the body, his cruise control cuts off bringing his charmed life to a screeching halt, and the reality of being an accused murderer of the first degree takes over.

When everyone else walks away and leaves him to hang, one girl can't. But it's going to take more than guessing and wishing to get through to him and the truth of what happened, since he seems bound and determined to accept his fate as a criminal, tried as an adult and eligible for lethal injection.

Can one really determined girl get to the bottom of the mystery when no one else seems to care? It would be so much easier to watch him go down, and for many, maybe just a little bit too satisfying. After all, who isn't guilty of finding pleasure in seeing that perfect someone suddenly exposed for the self-centered prick that he really is?