Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cinderella Story

The sweetest thing happened today.

I had just put on my dress to get ready for work when Nik comes in and looks at me from head to toes.

He says, "Mamma you look so pretty! You look like Cinderella! I will tell Bri (his preschool teacher) to help me make you a necklace."

How sweet is my child?!?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review - Black Rain by Graham Brown

Summary (from Goodreads)-
               Covert government operative Danielle Laidlaw leads an expedition into the deepest reaches of the Amazon in search of a legendary Mayan city. Assisted by a renowned university professor and protected by a mercenary named Hawker, her team journeys into the tangled rain forest—unaware that they are replacements for a group that vanished weeks before, and that the treasure they are seeking is no mere artifact but a breakthrough discovery that could transform the world.

               Shadowed by a ruthless billionaire, threatened by a violent indigenous tribe, and stalked by an unseen enemy that leaves battered corpses in its wake, the group desperately seeks the connection between the deadly reality of the Mayan legend, the nomadic tribe that haunts them, and the chilling secret buried beneath the ancient ruins.

Review -
               I have to preface my review with the note that my opinions and thoughts will seem choppy. It has been too long that I haven't written any post nor have I reviewed any book.

               I am too lazy to do a summary which is why I picked it up from Goodreads *grin*

               After SUCH a long time I read a non-fanfic & non-m/m book and it was refreshing! I recall the feeling of nail-biting suspense and the whodunit. It was a good book for my "come-back" to the world of thrillers and fiction. The story starts with our heroine who works at National Research Institute being told that she is now along in this treacherous expedition. NRI is basically an establishment that has its fingers in every pie of the world. Specially if it benefits the USA. The expedition is treacherous because they are going to go investigate deep Amazonia, but as an added complication it is foreshadowed that there is something that Danielle is keeping from her team of people. In a book this ALWAYS means bad news! But the reader in me is oh-so-excited. For me this means - murder (almost always), back-stabbing, betrayal and fights.
               The rainy Amazon jungle and the creatures that stalked our characters were pretty realistic in the narration. I liked Danielle's portrayal too - there wasn't any forceful romantic connections and unnecessary plot deviations.
               I have no knowledge of the Mayan race except that fact that their calendars were the ones that prophesied the "doomsday" of Dec 2012, which is why to learn more about their mythology and also the architecture was interesting. There were plot twists which I could predict but there were also human nature changes which I couldn't.
               There were couple of instances of choppy narrations. Specially when there were interaction of the NRI director Gibbs and the millionaire and then when we were told that there was the death of one of the employees of NRI. Those scenes read as if it would belong in a screenplay rather than a book. I had to flip back a page to make sure that I hadn't missed anything - it felt disjointed. Also in the two settings of USA (terrafirma) and the Amazon jungle, the interactions and events in the jungle happened more organically and more realistically. Whereas the events in the USA kept making me feel off-kilter.

               The author had paced the book well. There is neither constant action nor constant dialogues. There are happenings in equal amount to keep one hooked on to the story line. I loved the fact that this story was equally entrenched in the past and in the future as well as the present times. Being a loyal follower of James Rollins' novel - specially the Sigma series - I was impressed by how the narration went. Lots of mythology as well as interpretation of that.
               This makes me a happy girl! :)

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Two weeks notice

It is ALWAYS tough to say good bye.

Yesterday DH, Nik and I went to his new preschool to check that out. Everyone loved it! So much so that Nik kept asking me when he is going to the "red preschool"! He didn't want to go to the "blue preschool" (meaning his current one)...



So now that we have decided to go to the "red preschool" I had to give the two weeks' notice to the "blue preschool".

For me that is always a tough conversation to have. But fortunately, this time I had DH with me and we went to the Director's office (where she was with the assistant director) and told them about Nik's two weeks.

They were understandably sad but they were laid back about it which I think made it easier for me.

But the kind of personality I have made me text his pre-school teacher, Bri. I explained it to her that I hadn't mentioned anything due to the fact that I was unsure if DH and Nik would like the "red preschool".

She has some personal problems but I would like her to be a babysitter for Nik. We have had a babysitter before. She was a young high-schooler and just there for the extra money. I was ok with her but not entirely happy (that is because she didn't even change Nik's diaper when he pooped). This day care teacher would be great as she loves him, has taken care of him and he too enjoys being with her.

The only issue to think about is whether her personal problems will follow where she goes. If it won't then I am psyched for two reasons:
a) Nik will soon be going to the "red preschool" which is right across the street from my work
b) If I can have Bri as his baby sitter then DH and I can go out more without worrying about how he is coping with a baby sitter!

Hope all of you have a beautiful weekend!!

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hello! *waves enthusiastically*

It has been four months of silence and to be honest I don't even remember what I wrote in my last post!

Firstly, I don't know if I have any readers anymore!

Most of the blogs that I was following are silent (stopped writing) and some of them turned out to be fake*sigh* 

I, myself, don't know where to go from here... Should I be writing about the books that I read? (I have to start reading more books) or should I be writing about what is happening in my life?

May be again a mix of both? Let us see...

In my reading life, I have still been immersed in the reading of fan-fiction although I think I have read almost all of the good ones (and if I haven't then it is because of my laziness to scroll past 200th page).

But I am seriously going to pick up a paper copy of Harry Potter and start reading it. BECAUSE WE ARE HEADING TO LONDON!!!! We have already booked the tickets to the Warner Bros. studio for the three of us. Nik is so excited about seeing Harry Potter that it is hilarious and cute at the same time. He totally thinks that if he goes to London, he will be able to ride the broomstick like Harry does in the movies!



I need to pick up the oldie-goldies like Kay Hooper and Lisa Jackson etc. I need some more murder mystery fictions in my life. :)

Life has been the usual and good. I am still in the job that I started in Nov - which is... interesting. My manager has been good but he is being put under pressure for various issues and I know for sure that he might just up and leave if the situation becomes unbearable. I am mentoring/ training two people on the pre-award and post award side of my humongous grant. So that too has been interesting.

I have realized this about myself that I am ambitious in terms of job and career... I won't be satisfied with mediocrity. I will end up changing jobs and institution until I find the perfect place and people to work with. I know... I know... I am aware that it may or may not happen. So... well, I am prepared for that too. Make the best of the situation.

In other news, I and DH are going to scout a new daycare for Nik. He has been in the current day care since he was 12 weeks old. But we have noticed that he is very bright and smart and picks up things very quick. Also we have noticed that he is taking things for granted in terms of "oh well I know these teachers and I can make them work the way I want to... just like my parents!". We both want him to snap out of this habit and realize that friends will come and go. I know I sound like one of THOSE parents who overthink but we know that this would be a good change. What is better is that this day care is right across my office!

My sister moved to Ohio semi-permanently (she has to come back to sell/pack/ donate her stuff) - she just has to come back to Jersey to defend her PhD thesis! 

So again lots of changes happening!

I am signing off this post with hopes that I can continue this tradition of writing random things in life + reviews of books! *fingers crossed*

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My affair with Colorado

It was almost decade and a half ago when I read a book called Perfect by Judith McNaught.

And I fell in love - with the story and with the setting. But mostly with the description of Colorado. Since then I harbored a burning desire to visit this state which is apparently so very beautiful.

Then in the recent years I happened to stumble up on Marie Sexton's Coda series of books set in Colorado. I went crazy reading them and again my love for this unvisited state grew!

Last year, DH and my sis both got a chance to visit. DH went to Keystone which is a ski resort (which also holds a conference every year) and sis went to Denver. When I was sitting here in Boston shivering in 20F weather, DH suggested that I accompany him there but I pooh-poohed him thinking "we are already drowning in snow here, why would I go to a ski-resort where there will be MORE snow?!" Turns out winter in CO is very fickle - it was 78F there and in Boston it was 25F. *facepalm*

Now this year, specifically this month, we had our Annual Meeting for my grants in Denver and I FINALY GOT A CHANCE TO GO! Thus fulfilling my decade and half long dream.

I flew on Monday - early morning flight and landed there at 10:30 AM - but as per my body clock it was 12:30 PM EST so I was super hungry. I was tired too due to the turbulent landing - apparently this is very common in the Rockies - due to the mountains there.

I walked around and found that the streets were nice and WIDE (compared to the teeny-tiny roads in Boston). People were just like back home in Boston so I didn't have that culture shock that I got in KY. There people were SUPER polite to the point where I kept thinking 'don't ask me about my lunch, I don't know you!'

But since I was so tired, I went to bed at 7:30 CO time and found that I couldn't sleep. The reason? This was the 1st time I have ever been alone! So I switched the TV on and kept it on the whole night! The next morning, I had the meeting and realized that I can try and call the shuttle service to see if they pick people up for ski resorts from the Downtown area. They did!

BUT (of course there will be a 'but') they were booked for the entire day next day.

I had figured out that since day 2 meeting ends at 12, I can try and catch 1 PM shuttle, spend some time near Keystone and then head back in the last shuttle of the day. Thinking this, I spoke with my manager HD who was there for the same meeting with his wife. He was really excited and booked a car so that all three of us could drive to see the mountains - even if the shuttle was full.

As per our agenda the meeting was supposed to end at 12 but what was not written was specifically our group had a wrap-up meeting. So again, I had to cancel everything. :(

In the end, all I could get are these pictures...





and 


It is a very poor excuse for having just these pictures but the one satisfaction I have is that I have at least been to this place that I have longed to see for 15 years!

May be one day I will be truly able to see more of Colorado!

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fanfictions

Currently I am fangirling about these hotties...

Look at this beautiful Elf king! LOOK AT HIM! How amazing was Lee's acting?!

 And this little butterfly... *sigh* This was when Mr. Thornton (from North and South) realized that Margaret had actually been to Milton to look for him.

I really don't know what to classify this guy as - a hero or an anti-hero... He championed the mutant rights so passionately BUT didn't care about the collateral damage. But oh so easy on the eyes!
I have been reading fanfictions after fanfictions. I realized that was the best way to learn the background of the characters. And they are so fascinating! I don't even remember how I got into reading them.

I have read fanfictions of Harry Potter, X-Men universe (mostly First Class and Days of the Future Past), Supernatural (Of COURSE!), Teen Wolf, The Hobbit, Merlin and One Direction (I have NO CLUE how I got sucked into that).

But my all time favorites are from Supernatural, X-Men, The Hobbit and Teen Wolf - there is SO much to write about as each character has tremendous depth.

I practically thrive on Archive of Our Own and have downloaded stories from there to keep it in my folders! There are some amazing, AMAZING writers out there.

One thing I am guilty about is not leaving comments - I do "like" or give "kudos" but I never end up posting anything even if I have fallen in love with the stories. I want to make a resolution to change that.

Now off to reading another one of my X-Men fanfics!
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Thursday, February 18, 2016

New job

Remember? Couple of months ago, I had written a post about how I changed my jobs - here, here and here.

I just realized that am out of my 90 days "probationary period" (which ended on Feb 8th). It didn't even feel as if it has been 90 days! Time used to drag at the previous place where I had my career "blip"! I guess this is good!

The work has been very active and it has kept me so busy that I haven't had time to worry about trivial issues.

The best part about this job (apart from a nice pay) is the fact that I am getting to travel a lot.

In Feb, there was a meeting in Boston regarding one of the grants that I am managing. The hotel was going to give us a group discount for this meeting for out of towners but since they hadn't met the quota of the number of people staying, the Program Director suggested I stay there too. So I ended up staying at a hotel *IN* Boston, 7 miles away from home, having my own king size bed to lounge on!

The first week of March, I am leaving for Colorado for another meeting. I will be there for four days sans DH and kiddo.

The last week of March, I am leaving for Iowa for a meeting for a new grant. I will, again be there for four days, again, sans DH and kiddo.

So between Feb and March I am away from home 3 times! That itself was unthinkable in my old job! I love this!

In preparation for the upcoming trips I have finally dusted off my Nook and re-loaded it with ALL my ebooks. I am hoping for no flight delays but even in an on-time plane it would be great to just FINALLY start reading.

While digging through kiddo's books, I realized I have a collection of lesser known stories of Agatha Christie! EEEEEEKKKK!!!

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