Tag Archives: self-empowerment

Uplifting Poetry: Ease by Mukhpreet Khurana

Why I picked up this poetry collection:

I had read the poet’s previous work Unlocked Silences some time ago and had quite liked his writing style. It had come out in 2018 and was widely accepted. I remember finishing it in one day, as I devoured the words one by one. I put page flags on almost every page and it is only perhaps due to the absence of flags right now that I did not do the same thing to Ease.

Ease by Mukhpreet Khurana, 2019
Ease, by Mukhpreet Khurana, 2019

Ease: A Poetic Journey Within is a poetry collection that focuses on spirituality, self-love, healing, and gratitude. This poetry collection is a collection of raw, unfiltered and simple poems.

Check out my review of Unlocked Silences

The content matter

In Unlocked Silences, the author had focused a lot on spirituality and the individual. This has continued in Ease and being of a spiritual turn myself (as much as I am able to), I related with it a lot.

Themes in this poetry collection

Ease is a collection of ‘raw, unfiltered and simple poems’, poems that will touch you each time you read them. And no wonder I got so many queries asking me which book it was after I posted snippets on my stories. Many of the poems, abstracts, and musings revolve around the themes of self-love, individuality, healing, and gratitude. In today’s fast-paced world, it provided me relief.

The individuality of this work

The poems are all thought-provoking and especially because of its non-romance centric scenario, it was a panacea to me. I loved it too and look forward to more of the author’s works. Khurana’s rhythmic and lyrical tunes and spirituality permeate through the works and render a sensory experience to the reader.

  1. Amazon
  2. Goodreads

Collaborations

There are also collaborations with other writers and the end product is magical. It is always interesting to see how the voice of an artist comes out in case of collaborations. It was also a great pleasure and surprise when I found that one of my dearest friends Tahoora has also lent her talent to this collection. She is an amazing artist and I am so happy to see her work manifested into this book!

Check out Tahoora’s Instagram account here.

Verdict:

I rate this book 4/5 stars and wholeheartedly recommend it to all those who are looking for a dose for spirituality, self-love, and gratitude through non-romance centric poetry. 

The Intelligence Trap, by David Robson, 2019

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Title: The Intelligence Trap

Author: David Robson

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, Hachette

Genre: Non-fiction

Format: Hardcover

Language: English

No. of pages: 337

Synopsis:

‘As a rule, I have found that the greater brain a man has, and the better he is educated, the easier it has been to mystify him,’ Houdini to Arthur Conan Doyle

Smart people are not only just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else-they may be even more susceptible to them. This is the “intelligence trap,” the subject of David Robson’s fascinating and provocative debut.

Packed with cutting-edge research, historical case studies, entertaining stories, and practical advice, The Intelligence Trap explores the flaws in our understanding of intelligence and expertise, and reveals the ways that even the brightest minds and talented organizations can backfire – from some of Thomas Edison’s worst ideas to failures at NASA, Nokia, and the FBI. With a knack for explaining complex ideas and featuring timeless lessons from Socrates to Benjamin Franklin to Richard Feynman and the latest behavioral science, Robson shows how to build a cognitive toolkit to avoid mistakes and protect ourselves from misinformation and fake news.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Intelligence Trap was quite the different sort of book I read recently. For one, it wasn’t at all like the self-help book I expected it to be. It was very informative and there were some nice laughs packed in there too. However, I was really discouraged by the beginning which I think was slow and kind of fell flat. On the other hand, the second part becomes more interesting in comparison with various examples put in.

This book basically talks about human stupidity – and how even the most seemingly intelligent people are prone to it. in a way it kind of made me feel that it’s like – common sense is not common, you know. That is to say, stupidity is not that uncommon. Although the informative bits were actually quite very informative in their essence, I think they broke the flow for me while reading and that rather miffed me. However, I do not deny that this was actually an essential read, which unfortunately had some dull bits for me. It talks about many important things such as the importance of the productive struggle, mindfulness, biases we have that influence us so much, self—distancing etc. there were a few concepts that really made me think as well as some that made me just skip those paragraphs.

However, I have no complaints about the writing style. I think that although some jargons were used, the overall language was quite easy to understand and flowed simply well.

I honestly do believe that although this wasn’t the very best read for me, my father might just love it so I’ll surely be giving this to him for reading now.  

Verdict:

I rate this book a 3/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

The Holy Sh!t Moment: How lasting change can happen in an instant, by James Fell, 2019

Title: The Holy Shit Moment: How lasting change can happen in an instant

Author:  James Fell

Publisher: Thorsons, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

Genre: Self-help

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 278

Synopsis:

From internationally syndicated fitness columnist and author, James Fell, comes a no-nonsense guide on how to get in shape, fix your finances, alleviate depression and change your life for good.

We’ve all been there. Wanting to change your life forever, but only doing it in fits and starts. Feeling inspired to be disciplined one day, then falling back into old habits on the next. Or changing for a few weeks or even months, but then slipping back into familiar behaviours. Bad habits are hard to break for a reason. But you still try because the goal is worth it: slowly and painfully forming new habits to the point where you are able to adhere to a new lifestyle, long-term.

Not only do we struggle with all of it but the failure rates of these models are staggering.

What if there was a different way? What if sudden moment, which happens to be a surprisingly common occurrence among those who succeed would allow you to skip the struggle of behaviour change and just become a different person in a moment? What if all the motivation they would ever need to change could arrive unbidden because of a life-altering flash of insight? It is the power of epiphany – a triggering event when drive and clarity of purpose for changing one’s life is instantly attained. James Fell’s THE HOLY SHIT MOMENT is about that who have sustained change. The stories outlined in this book examine an abrupt awakening, where a person’s purpose switches course in the space of a few seconds; their life is partitioned into the time before that moment occurred, and what comes after. In an instant, the gradual steps of behavior change are bypassed and life transformation takes hold for good. But is an epiphany something that can be generated?

Yes. THE HOLY SHIT MOMENT is a self-help book written in a brash, audacious and informal, your-good-friend-giving-you-the-scoop style, but with the knowledge, research, wisdom and personal anecdotes to back up James’ words in the vein of Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The book begins with a very interesting tone. I love how the author has made it an understandable and easy read for all. Beginning with a extensive explanation of epiphanies and the ‘Euphoria of the Life-Changing Moment’, the author goes on over a multitude of other topics. Bringing in an intimate and personal note is a great addition, as it totally made it easy to relate to for the reader. I love how the language is so very understandable despite the fact that there are some topics that are not essentially very easy to do so.

The author does not fail to add however, that this epiphany, this life changing moment is never really truly separate from whatever work we may have done – “But it is no such thing. It is simply that last piece of the puzzle… being put into place… conversely, it truly can  strike out of nowhere…”

After recognizing the epiphany it is also important to find some reason and purpose via it so that we can turn it into something productive. The author then also goes into the science behind it all. The parts that I ranked topmost myself were however, the use of these epiphanies to work over various issues that we may face everyday. For instance, battling addictions.

There is also something called religious epiphany and while I did know something about it, I honestly never knew it had a dedicated term for it. The power of love is another thing the author talks about – how it can be caused due to the passion for life and love. Moreover, using dreams to b more productive is great too.

Verdict:

I think this is absolutely one of the best self-help books I have ever read. I rate it 4.5/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Fluid, by Ashish Jaiswal, 2018

Title: Fluid

Author: Ashish Jaiswal

Publisher: Wisdom Tree

Genre: Self-help/Non-fiction

Format: paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 256

Recommended for:

Synopsis:

Whether we are in a classroom or in the outside world, we are always forced to choose who we are. Always expected to walk towards a fixed goal. Never be uncertain, never fail or never alter our course. We are either artists or scientists or businessmen. We are being constantly reminded to embrace these identities with greater force. As they say, the more we remain folded in our fields, the better specialists we are.

Fluid shatters this myth by arguing that great minds who have changed the fate of humankind are actually the ones who failed, faltered or remained uncertain, yet never bothered to stay pasted to a rigid line.

They were more. They were fluid.

In captivating storytelling narrative, Ashish Jaiswal takes us through groundbreaking research unravelling what binds the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, CV Raman, Steve Jobs, Charles Darwin and other geniuses and why being fluid like them could be our biggest winning strategy in the age of artificial intelligence.
Read to learn the approach required for world-class innovations, groundbreaking solutions and game-changing ideas.

My review:

I received a review copy from the author in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Fluid is truly one heck of a read. Without being too preachy, which is common with books of this kind, the author has conveyed the idea of how necessary it is to not be simply restricted to only one disciple or way of life.

I believe the title is quite captivating and apt for the subject matter. The cover is just as appropriate and suits the theme the author has set before us.

Including the various stories of successful men and the way they became so is a stroke of genius. And the fact that the author tells us about famous men whose names we have already heard of, but whose stories perhaps we never knew, and even if we did, never to this much of depth. This was an inspiring part running amok throughout the book. Moreover, including fictional tales will also make it easy for non-fiction readers to relate with. The personal anecdotes of the writer are also on point and give us an intimate and thus more realistic view into his logic and his arguments.

The language used was lucid and easy to understand. Including various diagrams is another plus point.  The research is well done by the writer and it shows in the finished copy. Howver there were a few printing errors that should be looked into.

I think that this was a truly intriguing ass well as enlightening in its own sense. I learned, but I was also entertained and that makes this a perfect read for you, whatever be your age.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 4.5/5! I will be picking this one up again.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Never Again: Moving On From Narcissistic Abuse and Other Toxic Relationships, by Dr. Sarah Davis, 2019

Title: Never Again: Moving On From Narcissistic Abuse and Other Toxic Relationships

Author: Dr. Sarah Davis

Publisher: Troubadour Publishing Ltd.

Publishing Date: 16 March, 2019

Genre: Nonfiction/Self-help

Format: Ebook

Language: English

No. of pages:

Synopsis:

Dr. Sarah Davies draws from her clinical expertise, largely gained from working with individuals at her Harley Street practice in London, as well as from her personal experiences with narcissistic abuse, to put together this practical guide to understanding and moving on from toxic relationships.
If you have experienced narcissistic abuse and want to avoid a repeat experience, Never Again – moving on from narcissistic abuse and other toxic relationships can help you to:
• Learn about Narcissism & identify Narcissistic Abuse
• Develop tools and coping strategies including emotional regulation, mindfulness and grounding techniques
• Learn a range of practical tips and tools to break the cycle of abuse.
• Learn a 4-step refocus tool helping you to move on more quickly
• Work on your self-esteem, values, self-compassion and forgiveness
• Address any unhelpful thinking or beliefs that may be holding you back
• Learn about trauma and narcissistic abuse and how to manage emotional overwhelm or distress
• Learn about healthy boundaries and how to hold them
• Develop clearer, healthier communication
In this new book, Dr. Davies shows readers how to identify narcissistic abuse, but also the tools needed to move on and potentially end destructive relationship patterns once and for all.

My review:

I received a review copy for Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I really like the systematic nature, which the author has undertaken to talk about this issue. As a reader I think it really helps in the healing process – apart from being a self-help book, it is also a practical guide as it takes the reader by the hand and help him or her to recover. In this, it has proved a very practical and useful tool.

Bringing in the abuse factor little by little and then relating it to a relationship (in the surprisingly quite a few cases that it appears in), makes it a smooth transition for the reader to understand. The author has kept the psychological well-being of the reader in mid, for she does not spring facts suddenly at the reader thus shocking him/her, but by slowly transitioning in a slow manner.

Acceptance is a significant phase in this situation and the author has done it in a good manner. She then leads the way to understanding and realizing if one’s partner is a narcissist, and then moving ahead. Her research is very fact based and as such, increases the dependability of the text. Lastly, she also talks about recovery, which is perhaps the most important post stage. The author also guides the reader in developing a new mindset – one that is supportive of the person’s own being and how compassion and forgiveness goes a long way. Apart from the ‘victims’, the author also addresses the friends and family, for which she scores one more amazing point!

On a personal front, I think the book has been useful. It made me realize that in the end, we really need to take care of our own selves.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed the book except where I felt that it was a bit too repetitive for my taste. Overall, helpful read. I rate it 4/5!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman, 2017

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Publishers: Hachette Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mental Health
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes . . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
My review:
Eleanor Oliphant was a completely heartwarming read and I for one, am simply glad that I finally picked up this book as a part of my August read in the Dr. Snob’s Book Club.
“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted.”
The plot was truly well made- and though I felt that it dragged for a bit in the middle part, it had an overall heartwarming touch to it. The ending was truly not one I had anticipated and the twist that you get, will truly twist your mind. It is, I admit, not a very climatic scene- do not expect The Woman in the Window kind of revelation- for it is not a thriller. Nonetheless, at certain other parts, it surely felt like it was.
The central character- our protagonist- Eleanor is like every other woman- except that she’s not! She’s the type of person that I personally classify as a highly functioning sociopath- very much like Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) puts it. As a reader, you can’t help but relate with her, at least on some points; I know I did. And at times, you can’t help but feel pity for this amazing woman who has had to suffer so much.
The themes in this novel are also very relatable in modern day life. At times, this book feels like a very casual and toned down Modernist novel- featuring the bleak regularity of everyday life. Apart from this monotonousness, we see the elements of friendship, and humanity- both within the spectrum of human relationships.
The writing style is very free-flowing and gradual and the overall effect is beautiful- it reads delightfully. The grammar and editing was perfect and while I type this, I feel so much like Eleanor- always preferring to use the correct English over colloquial slangs and short forms.
Verdict:
I honestly cannot believe that Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was a debut- it was exceptionally well written. I’m looking forward to reading more books by the author. I rate this a 4/5 stars.

The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success, Devika Das, 2016

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Publishers: PepperScript
Synopsis:
Crests and troughs, ups and downs, joys and sorrows are a part of everyone’s lives. While many choose to simply succumb to bad times, the winner is the one who remains strong, successfully wades off negativity and rises, unbound.
All of us, at some point of time, have experienced situations involving emotional outbursts where we have, albeit unknowingly, hurt others or even our own self and have only ended up regretting our actions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow become mindful of our current emotional state and maintain equilibrium in our personal and professional lives? Moreover, mindfulness helps us realize what we really want from life. It helps us to first think, then act and not vice-versa.
The Mind Game is a self-improvement guide that talks about how to manage emotions wisely, and lead a powerful, but stress free life.
Reviews:
“As a Career & Life Coach, I’d rate the book 5 stars. It is a brilliant piece of work! Devika Das was able to take an everyday subject which is generally taken for granted by us and turn it into a compelling read. I definitely recommend ‘The Mind Game’ for all, and especially for the participants in my workshops.” -Aditya Sisodia (Co-founder- Recruit Wheels)
“Devika really writes things from a practical point of view. She is one of the most evolved woman I have met who thinks of life deeply. We all are following the heard, without questioning the reasons to what we do and why we do. She finds the right answers. Devika’s writings always give you a sense of freedom while reading. This is one amazing book I have read!” -Sahiba Sethi (Founder- Hello Meets)
My review:
I would like to begin by giving a spoiler: this is the best self-improvement book ever. The author, in a previous interview with yours truly, has spoken quite extensively on her project. Click here to see the author’s interview.
The Mind Game is a self-improvement book no doubt like so many others in its genre, but what it contains inside, is perhaps like no other. The first thing that really affects a self-help book is, I think, the mode of narration. This book has mastered that, but what’s more important is that it is not at all preachy. Using a very factual and matter-of-fact tone, tinged with empathy at times, this book will prove really very useful for those who wish to know their own selves as well as for the various counsellors all over the country. I may be even bold enough to say that this can also be used as a guide for basic classes such as Behavioural Science, Communicative English etc.
Separated and grouped into different segments, the author speaks about relevant issues of everyday life, right from those one faces at home- to the workplace, ranging across the feelings and issues one faces within oneself, and with others in a social environment as well. This book also covers anger and stress management, depression and how to recognize that one may be depressed and so on. I also truly advocate for parents to read this book as well. It has truly opened my eyes. A self-help book like no other, The Mind Game: Mastering your emotions to achieve success is a masterpiece and one that is very informative as well as interesting enough to keep the reader gripping till the end.
Verdict:
I personally rate this a 5/5 stars. Wonderful work!

Scattered Constellations, Ankita Singh, 2018

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Publishers: Amazon
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:
Words tumble out, with no pause;
From the pen, my anelace,
That I hold so graciously,
(In awe of its majesty, its power)
In my hand.
They form thoughts, hopes and musings;
Reflect my soul, my entire being,
And spread across the page,
Like scattered constellations
Across the sky.
(Scattered Constellations is a collection of 50 Free Verse YA Poems.)

My review:
Scattered Constellations was a great read firstly. It is a poetry book following the common free verse pattern nowadays. Ankita Singh has done a good job with this book.
Scattered Constellations contains poetry on a vast number of themes such as love- romantic, familial as well as platonic; friendship, family, appearances in terms of racial distinctions etc. I found them really eye opening.
The book was also very finely edited and proofread, as I hardly noticed any errors. The whole format was pretty nice in the ARC but I am eager to see how the actual paperback turns out. I think that this book makes a good gift- the poems are bound to touch every other reader.
My personal favourites in this collection are quite a few, some of which are Tell Me, Taboo, Our Kinda Love, Colour, It Wasn’t Just Sadness, Sisters, Trophy Girl etc. I enjoyed the book and it took me less than a day as I read and stopped to think, and then resumed, again and again.
Verdict:
I rate it a 4/5 stars as I wait for the paperback to come out.

The Year That Was //2017//

Hey everyone!

I know it’s been a long time since I last posted. A lot of things have changed. I just finished my first semester finals. The results have not been declared yet, but I’m sure that I haven’t failed in any subject, so I’m a second-semester student now. Well, pretty much. Classes start from the second of January, 2018.

I honestly feel that this year has passed so fast! It was only a few months back that I sat for my 12 finals, and now, here I am. This year, a lot of changes have occurred- I’m a high school graduate, and now I’m a first-year University student. I’ve lost contact with a lot of classmates; it was inevitable, after all, and yet I have retained some of the friendships I made in the two years I spent in the higher secondary school where I studied my junior and senior years.

My best friend and I are back together in University now, and I couldn’t be happier in that regard. Our homerooms are even on the same floor in the same building. As for myself, I might have already stated that I’m an English major. My education has been going on perfectly, and I’m very happy studying for school. It never seems like a burden, and I think it is definitely because I have always loved English literature. And didn’t someone already say, do what you love?

My finals lasted for almost a month, in December, and I was very ecstatic when it ended on the 21st. these days, I’ve been trying to replenish myself with good food, exercise and sleep, so that I’m all swanky new and energized for the new semester.

I’ve read a total of 47 books in 2017, and I’m almost finished with the 48th. Successful reading year, definitely!

My personal relations with my father had been very strained in the beginning of the year, and I’m glad to say that it is so much better now. Some familial relations are still strained and well, some people you just can’t change. I have also let go of a lot of toxic people from my life. I’ve lost a lover and gained another. And it will be, perhaps, the greatest regret of my life- losing him. But I consider myself very lucky to have moved on with a different guy, who genuinely loves me. My relations with my professors are in a really great shape, and I’m proud to admit that they love me. My new friends are kind to me and very understanding. I like them.

Healthwise, I have been in perfect shape. My MMA classes have also helped a lot. I’m so much stronger and fitter than ever before. I can run for longer, work hard physically for longer. And it has also worked wonders for my mental willpower and determination.

So that’s it. My reflection of 2017, the year that was. I’m hoping for a lot of things in 2018, but that is for another post entirely.

With lots of love,

Suze.