The Extraordinary Ordinary by Natalie Rodriguez – Movie Review

The feature film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary” directed by Natalie Rodriguez was released globally on August 28th, 2020 on various OTT platforms. The story revolves around Erica played by Maddison Bullock. She is a passionate teenager with the interest to pursue photography. She suffers trauma and moves to California hoping to recover from it and to get away from her over protective mother Cathy. Erica’s father is her go-to person and completely supports her. 

Erica meets Alex and Bianca in her new high school. They, too, come from different backgrounds and have experienced trauma at a very young age. These three broken souls become friends and share a wonderful bonding. 

I watched this movie with my daughter. She didn’t budge until the titles rolled at the end. I loved the plot and the direction by Natalie Rodriguez. The photography and compositions were simple, yet, meaningful. I loved the greyish blue compositions which made so much sense. The background music was deep and subtle. Each and every actor did their part extremely responsibly. Kudos to the entire team. 

The stigmas associated with mental health, abuse and trauma are very sensitive subjects and the director succeeded in leaving a long lasting impression on the audience. Being a mother of an adolescent, I can relate to Cathy and her over protectiveness towards her daughter but I also realized how important to let the kids be and give them space to breathe. All they need is our trust and support. That helps them to recover from trauma sooner. 

This movie received many awards. You may watch it on Amazon Prime or Google Play or YouTube. Don’t miss it!

Natalie, thank you so much for making this wonderful movie. I’m really proud to be acquainted with you.

South of The Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber – Book Review

South of The Buttonwood Tree is a beautiful women’s fiction written by Heather Webber. I would say it’s a heart-warming story of a strong and independent woman from a small town with a subtle addition of magical realism. 

Blue Bishop is famous for finding lost things, or I would rather say, the winds lead her to lost things that need to be found. When Blue finds a newborn baby under the buttonwood tree, she is absolutely taken by surprise and overwhelming happiness. 

Sarah Grace is another lead character of the story who is a self-made woman instead of depending on the power of her father. She loves renovating old houses and providing homes for those who are in need. Sarah Grace stands at a crossroads and has to make a decision about her life, her marriage and the secret that she has been hiding for years. 

Not only Sarah Grace and Blue Bishop, but there are many other women characters in this book that are special in their own way. South of The Buttonwood Tree is one of the few books with very strong multiple female characters.

I absolutely loved the small town setup. It would be unfair if I miss to mention The Rabbit Hole book store. I absolutely loved it and I can relate to it so well. Books are the best friends any child can have. 

The narration, character detailing, plot, story progression and the happy ending are perfectly written by Heather Webber. Absolutely loved the book and I would recommend this to all book lovers.

Moments of Joy by Sister Jina van Hengel – Book Review

Moments of Joy is the first ever collection of poems written by Buddhist nun Sister Jina van Hengel. The book is divided into four seasons – Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Each part has poems describing the awareness of moments in the respective seasons.

The poems beautifully tell us how to enjoy everyday life and the little things. This book sheds whole new light on the art of gratitude. The poems are very refreshing and simple. The subjects of the poems are the tiny little things we experience in our day to day life, like sun, rain, breeze, clouds, etc. Sister Hengel succeeded in capturing many simple observations in these poems, thus, composing raw and beautiful poems.

The poems remind us of the importance of living in the present, because that is the only moment that we have. Embracing life and being here and now is the secret of mindfulness. In the current world, achieving mindfulness is greatly difficult. We always get carried away by concerns about various things and we fail to experience the present.

A poem says, 

“The village cemetery
A garden of wild flowers
Pink! Yellow! Purple!”

I’ve never read a comparison like this in my life. It gave me immense peace of mind to think of a cemetery and see a garden of wild flowers. Isn’t it amazing? There are many incredible poems like this in the book which make you see the world in an entirely different manner. Reading this book was a meditation in itself, for me.  

Sister Jina van Hengel, a direct monastic student of Thich Nhat Hanh, is famous for her Zen poetry. Zen emphasizes strict self-restraint, meditation-practice and insight into the nature of mind. I believe the essence of it all can be seen in each gem of the poem in this book. 

The book is releasing on October 27th, 2020. I feel absolutely privileged for the opportunity to read this book before the world does. My utmost gratitude to Parallax Press and Penguin Publishing Group for sharing the advance reviewer’s copy with me. 

The Four Profound Weaves by R. B. Lemberg – Book Review

The Four Profound Weaves is a queer fairy tale written extremely well by R. B. Lemberg. I’ve never read something so deep in the recent times. I would say, I felt like I was taken to the Surun lands on a magical carpet. An absolute treat to the reader. Choosing two older transgenders as the protagonists is totally amazing and brave. 

Wind: To match one’s body with one’s heart
Sand: To take the bearer where they wish
Song: In praise of the goddess Bird
Bone: To move unheard in the night  

Uiziya is in search of her Aunt Benesret, who is a master weaver, to learn the final weave among the four profound weaves. After living the life of a woman for a long time, a nameless man struggles with his new found masculinity. Uiziya and nameless man are now together on a strange journey in search of answers to some strange questions. You must read the book to know how they both dealt with the Collector, the evil Iyar ruler in the end. The story is about how they both find their way and embrace their identities in this hostile world.

It amazes me how the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of the emotional, physical and intellectual journey of the two protagonists. The magic, spells, musings, dark powers and magical carpets.. everything felt so real and authentic. A must read. The book is out now.

The Last To Know by Jo Furniss – Book Review

The Last To Know is an interesting mystery from the pen of author Jo Furniss. She is an experienced journalist who travelled across the world and maybe that’s why she could write this story so well. 

Rose is from America and her husband Dylan is from England. They decide to move to Dylan’s homeland which is a beautiful village called Hurtwood. The family mansion is on the top of the hill with nothing nearby except for the river flowing by. Rose finds it greatly difficult to adjust to this new place and especially can’t trust her mother-in-law who seems to be a little forgetful, reclusive and secretive.

The family name of Dylan, Kynaston seems to be a dreadful thing to say among the villagers. Rose has no idea why it is that the villagers stare at her and why they whisper as soon as she enters any place. Some secret which is more than twenty years old seems to be the key to all that is happening around. 

Sergeant Ellie takes up the investigation of the remains of the human body that is accidentally found down the hill, during an archaeological tv show. Ellie is determined to solve the case, no matter what.Rose on the other hand starts her own investigation in order to find out the truth behind all this and when Dylan becomes a suspect, Rose puts forth her best efforts to clear his name. 

The entire story is very gripping and I’m in love with all the female characters. Rose, Elllie and to my surprise, Rose’s mother-in-law are incredibly strong women. 

The village set up of Hurtwood is incredibly beautiful. The family mansion of Dylan, the outhouse, the hill, the river, everything is described in great detail by the author. I, literally, was transported to the village while I read the book. Loved it, absolutely.

The book is out now, go ahead, buy it and dive into this gripping mystery.