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Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review on Drake Sisters Novels: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Yes, if you want to continue with the Sea Haven novels, believe in siblings made even though not related by blood, believe in second chances and true love.

I had posted review of this book originally in 2013 of December (my review with two stars, read here) when I had first read it. However, since then I re-read the book and the prequel series Drake Sisters Novels. Now I have second opinions about this book and the series as well. Here is my updated review with updated rating.

Six women form a family after they meet in a special grief counselling group that deals with victims of violent crimes. Each of them had suffered extreme loss. While working through their grief, they form a unit loving and trusting each other. They combine their resources, buy large portion of the land in Sea Haven and form their own farming community. Each one of them own five acres and have a home of their own, the rest of the farm being shared among them. Though they don’t relate to each other by blood, they have form a bond through heart. Here are the stories of six strong women calling themselves as Sisters of the Heart, dealing with their past, overcoming unbelievable challenges and finding true love.

Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven is the spin-off series from the Drake Sisters Novels, especially following the line of Prakenskiis - the seven sons of the seventh son, written by Christine Feehan. They are a similar line to the Drakes but all men born in Russia into a family with magic and psychic powers. As children their parents were murdered by corrupt Russian Government officials, separated from each other and placed in facilities that trained them brutally in every way to become enhanced soldiers and killing machines. Now each of the brothers are hunted by their government as their services are no longer required. It is said that where one Prakenskii settles the others get drawn there and settle. Ilya Prakenskii - seventh son and carrier of the family legacy - settles in Sea Haven after resigning from Interpol, marrying the sixth Drake sister, Elle Drake. Now the remaining brothers follow, leaving their past, striving on a second chance at the kind of life they want and falling for each of the six Sisters of the Heart.

Water Bound is the first installment of the Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven Series published in July of 2010. The plot revolves around Rikki Sitmore - a Sea Urchin diver and ability to control the element Water - and Lev Prakenskii - sixth Prakenskii brother with power to control animals and birds and telepathy.



Lev Prakenskii gets thrown off into the ocean from the ship he was on that belonged to Stavros Grastsos, human trafficking Russian mobster - the ship that was thrown over killing Stavros by the magical powers of the Drake Sisters and the masterminds of their husbands few of whom had magical and few highly intelligent and powerful (story line covered in Hidden Currents, the last installment of the Drake Sisters Novels. Check my review here: http://inspirethoughts.livejournal.com/563897.html)). He, however, does not remember who he was or is, why he was on an ocean liner, why he had killer instincts, that why he has to kill someone, that why is someone trying to kill him, why is he loaded with weapons and what his past was.

Rikki Sitmore, one of the Sisters of the Heart living on the farming community, is a Sea Urchin diver who likes to have a routine in her life, a very strict routine. She, being a highly functioning autistic girl, lives her life by her rules. The only food she eats is peanut butter, cannot stand the fluorescent lights, and allows only her "Sisters" to her home. Her element being Water, she has great affinity to Water and hence the occupation. On one of her Sea Urchin diving day she finds Lev Prakenskii who gets washed into the crater where she is picking Sea Urchins under water. She pulls him out of the water and saves him and with much reluctance takes on his responsibility until he becomes better, remembers his past and he can leave to fight whatever his wars are. But Rikki comes with a past as well -  a dangerous fiery past involving fires and families lost - reason for which she doesn’t allow anyone inside her home. Now she had to deal with Lev.

Will Lev find himself or lose himself? What is Rikki's past that haunt her? Who was hunting Lev? Will his memory return? Will he become the savior of Rikki or her death? What will happen when Elle Drake and Jackson Deveau return from their honeymoon? Will the Drake family accept him? Will the Sisters of the Heart accept him?

Christine Feehan again with her master spinning, spun this series seamlessly out of the other one. The bridge built very well giving glimpses from the prequel series and leading into the sequel series. I still agree that this particular book had more repeated paragraphs than many of her books, but now I see the need behind it. As always the sexual element between Rikki and Lev is spot on.

I would say be patient with this book and give it a benefit of doubt before throwing it away like how I did the first time. There is much more meat to it than I realized. You will love the series once you are past this book. Go ahead and give it a try.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. Hidden Currents is the last and seventh installment in the Drake Sister Novels series published in June of 2009. The plot revolves around the seventh sister Elle Drake - most powerful of all who has everyone's abilities and more - and Jackson Deveau - ex-U.S. Army Ranger and Deputy Chief for Safe Haven.



Drake Sisters are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities. It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

This book wrenched my heart out and filled it with so much sorrow and empathy for Elle Drake and Jackson Deveau. Being a powerful psychic with all the abilities of all of her sisters and many more, Elle wished to put best use of them for the greater good. Her passion to save others put her into hands of Interpol and into an undercover operation of the most hardest criminals bosses, Stavros Grastsos and his twin brother Evan Grastsos dealing with human trafficking amongst other illegal crimes. But, what she didn’t know that Stavros was somewhat similar to her with psychic abilities and also knows about Elle's actual life. He kidnaps her in the intention to have her and make more babies. In an attempt to escape from him, Elle gets re-kidnapped and falls prey to his most vicious ways of crimes he does not hesitate to commit on a woman, in humiliating her, hurting her in every way physically and sexually possible.

Jackson Deveau also shares some of the psychic abilities and tries to reach her to find her. Unable to find her, the sisters cast a circle and find the situation she is in and where she is. Jackson, Matt Granite - fiancée to Kate Drake, Ilya Prakenskii - fiancée to Joley Drake, Aleksandr Volstov - fiancee to Abigail "Abbey" Drake and Jonas Harrington - Chief of Sea Haven and husband to Hannah Drake use their all powers and help to rescue Elle from the clutches of Stavros Grastsos. But Elle feels that Stavros had damaged her and changed her for life.

Will she become herself again? How will Jackson cope all through this and still make Elle feel what she is? How powerful is Stavros and will the sisters fight him? How much can Ilya help the sisters and so do the other fiancees of them to fight this monster? Will they get to cut off at least one head of the human trafficking ring? What is the past that Jackson is fighting or running from? Will he overcome it? How do the sisters, Elle and Jackson fare in this book?

Christine Feehan masterfully spun a web highlighting the darkest crimes a human can commit against another human. Read through it and see the amazing conclusion this terrific series.


Spoiler Alert: Evan Shackler and the biker gang were briefly introduced in the book. I wasn’t sure the first time when I read this book as to what their role would be. But now I am guessing they would be part of another spin-off from the Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart series (which was a spin-off from the Drake Sisters series). We also get to see one of Ilya's brothers - Lev Prakenskii - in this book albeit he is working undercover with Stavros Grastsos.

Movie Critique 2016 – 04/05/2016: Oopiri

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Like a fresh breathe of air, reminding you of how precious every moment in your life is, of friendship and love between people. A feel-good movie with a lot of food for thought.

Oopiri ( = Breath) is the hit Telugu film released on March 25th of this year which was released in Tamil as Thozha ( = Friend) simultaneously. It is a frame to frame remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables.



Vikramaditya (portrayed by Nagarjuna) a rich entrepreneur owning a bunch of businesses is paralyzed from neck and down due to an accident while paragliding leaving him a quadriplegic. Keerthi (portrayed by Tamannaah), his assistant, is set on getting a caretaker for Vikramaditya who can look-after him 24/7. Enter Seenu, a convict on parole, detested by his mother and siblings, who applies for the job on advice of his attorney. The only reason Seenu (portrayed by Karthi) agrees for the interview is so he could have a chance to talk to Keerthi. His honest and straightforward answers capture Vikramaditya and he appoints Seenu on the spot despite Keerthi's and his friend Prasad's (portrayed by Prakash Raj) objections. Vikramaditya explains that for this time of his life, he is correct since he doesn’t show any pity unlike others.

Thus begins the friendship between Vikramaditya and Seenu each shouldering the other in bringing life back to Vikramaditya. A beautiful journey thru the lives of Vikramaditya, Seenu, Karthi and Prasad and how each changes each other - a wonderful watch.

Terrific performances by everyone in the movie. Nagarjuna as a rich quadreplegic who had everything that a man can have fit seamlessly into the role of Vikramaditya. I don’t think anyone else would have done it so well. May be his contemporary Venkatesh, but it was a tailor-made role for Nagarjuna. I must say, this was the first time I was watching a movie of Karthi. However, he has done good justice to the role of Seenu. It is very interesting that Seenu's acting comes so close to how Venkatesh acts in movies - his mannerisms, the style and the delivery of dialogues. Tamannaah is not one of my favorite actresses but she surprisingly did well for her part - suited perfect as an assistant to a rich man that she cared about.

It being such a feel-good movie, I feel terrible to drive a wrench in between but I thought it was a bit too much of a feel-good movie. And even though it had a message about friendship, about survival, about perseverance and about striving but I felt that somewhere hidden between the lines it showed that money talks. May be I was seeing the glass as half-full but if the story had a middle-class quadriplegic, would it have been depicted so much as a feel-good movie. I am not sure.

Anyway, it was still a good movie. If you get a chance go and watch it…definitely will lift your spirits.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. Turbulent Sea is the sixth installment in the Drake Sisters Novels published in July of 2008. Another much awaited story of the couple I have been waiting to see how it will turn out since past three books. The turbulent seas that Joley Drake - famous rock and roll singer with the ability of being a spell-singer - and Ilya Prakenskii - famed to be a Russian hit man or an international spy but currently working as a bodyguard for Sergei Nikitin, a Russian mobster - definitely make you wade through the stormy waves of romance, eroticism, international espionage, human trafficking and killers following them.



Drake Sisters are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities. It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

Joley Drake is giving her scheduled performance in Chicago as part of her word tour. She had just completed in Europe and was continuing in US. Ilya Prakenskii stayed as part of the band security keeping close tabs on Joley - not just because there have been threats on her life and crazies following her but because he knows that she is bound to him body, mind and soul and it is his duty to protect her. As he had anticipated one of the fan rushes on to the stage with something that looked like a weapon. Much to his frustration with no fault of Joley - since she cant hide her voice and her voice calls to every man out there and enthralls them - he keeps following her to protect her.

Joley had strict policy that she would not entertain under-age kids (boys or girls), groupies and drugs in her after-the-show parties or anywhere near her band or the roadies.  Her band's manager, Jerry St. Ives, had assured of it. But in one of the after parties that she went to in Europe - thrown by Sergei Nikitin - she notices under-age girls, who were perhaps not more than fifteen with one of the roadies, Dean Walters and another roadie she couldn’t recognize as he had hid his face. She also sees her drummer, Denny, with another girl who definitely was not his girlfriend. And now in Chicago she finds that one of the under-age girls she had noticed in Europe is gone missing and her mother reaches out to Joley for help. Joley entrusts it to her band manager to have a talk with Dean about that girl - since that’s when she had seen the girl with last. Now when no one was making efforts to find the girl, she put that responsibility on the last person she ever thought she would - Ilya Prakenskii.

The investigation into the missing girl brings Joley into the that part of Ilya's world that he wanted to shield her from. And she also becomes the object of another crazed person's attention - Reverend RJ famous for his cult and his mis-treating of women. But what is Sergei Nikitin want with her? That still remains a puzzle. In the midst, Dean Walters get murdered Russian mob-stlye - putting Ilya in the cross-hairs of suspicion by everyone. Does Ilya have anything to do with it? Who he really is? And what is the mark that he had given her means? What does it mean for Joley and Ilya? Will Joley accept him despite the rumors? Will Joley overcome her own flaws as she sees? As the book progresses, one gets into the dark world of mobsters that not only includes drugs and murder, but also human trafficking, of kidnapped young girls and mis-used women.

Christine Feehan has brought into light the major problem of this world with this book. I wish there were many Prakenskiis in this world who could actually end this deplorable business that has been spreading like virus all over the world since centuries. Masterly spun her web on the most delicate and dark topic weaving the elements of fun, romance, adventure and magic along. Do pick it up if you get a chance.

Spoiler Alert: We get introduced to another line of males with special powers similar to the Drake Sisters in this book - the Prakenskii family. And it is said that where one Prakenskii stakes his place and makes home, others are bound to follow finding their true-mates and settle. But each Prakenskii is much dangerous than the youngest that we saw in this book. Be prepared for my review of another series spun off of this series by Christine Feehan soon.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. Safe Harbor is the fifth installment in the Drake Sister Novels published in June of 2007. The much awaited story between Hannah Drake - having the ability to harness elements of wind, water and sea - and Jonas Harrington - Sheriff of Sea Haven and also a U. S. Army Ranger. This book was particularly very close to my heart in many levels - the courageous nature of Hannah to achieve her place in the world despite her shyness; the loyalty of Jonas and his love towards all of the Drake sisters; the final acceptance of each other's love; the violence that Jonas and Hannah face and come out high - from the first page to the last page it captured me.



Drake Sisters are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities. It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

Jonas Harrington had loved Hannah Drake for as long as he knew her. Despite his rudeness towards her or his rash comments, he would give his life or walk on fiery coals for her. Drake Sisters have always been his family and now their fiancées (the four older sisters who are engaged) along with his deputy Jackson Deveau encompass his family. But it was Hannah who always had his heart. Hannah Drake had been terribly shy, went on panic-attack when confronted or in distress situation and stuttered when spoken in public. Her sisters had always helped her cope with her flaws and encouraged her to become the top model in the world. She has a successful career as a model always in news and soughted after by different big names in fashion world. Yet she always felt she was with flaws, not beautiful and not as great as her sisters. Because of which she never thought she would be upto Jonas and argued / fought with him always - the only way she could curb her feelings for him.

On an undercover mission for his ex-boss in order to capture the Russian mob Peter Tarasov on tape killing an undercover agent, Jonas and Jackson get injured and barely escape. They return to Sea Haven thinking except their ex-boss no one else knew about them handling the operation. All seems in peace for Jonas until Hannah gets attacked by a crazed person at the New York fashion show - which was supposed to be her last assignment before she quit that job. An attack that leaves Hannah disfigured from face to waist - sliced everywhere - and almost loses her life if not for Ilya Prakenskii's timely intervention. If you remember, Ilya has been getting involved with the Drake family since past two books. In this particular, we get to see another side of Ilya - he is with similar abilities as the Drake Sisters and much more than what they have, a powerful witch with multiple abilities. And one such ability helps him hold Hannah to this world until all the Drake Sisters, their aunts and their mother gather to expend energy and life heat into Hannah to heal her.

But two more attempts occur on Hannah that puts everyone on alert. Despite her sisters healing her and the plastic surgeons amazing skills, the attacks have left Hannah very vulnerable. She starts questioning her identity as well. In the midst of all of this, Sergei Nikitin - another Russian mob - for whom Ilya works as a bodyguard constantly follows Hannah and Joley - his intentions unknown to anyone.

Who hates Hannah so much that they go to the extent of disfiguring her? Who is wanting to kill her? What is Nikitin's real motive? Who is Ilya and why is he pursuing Joley - is it more than just a pure male appreciation to a female? What secrets does Ilya hide? Why does he keep racking up favors to Drake family? Will Jonas and Hannah find each other among all the chaos? Will Hannah find herself? An intense plot involving international mobsters, spies, fashion world and murders that leaves Hannah and Jonas vulnerable in their safe harbor.

Read this book for certain as the plot thickens from basic magical elements to much more sinister stuff that a human mind even imagine and how these brave sisters face the challenges and outwit the enemy all along finding their true love.

Spoiler Alert: Jackson Deveau and Elle Drake have a history together that we see glimpses in past two books, but this book explores that further. So does Ilya Prakenskii's ties with Drake Family as well. Look for an entire chapter that shows the amazing love between the Drake sisters and Jonas and how they are intertwined together. The whole chapter makes you part of their family too.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. Dangerous Tides is the fourth installment of Drake Sisters Novels published in June of 2006. This time around the story revolves around Libby Drake - the fourth sister with the magic of healing at times bring forth someone/something to life that has almost touched the hands of death - and Tyson Derrick - an adventurist, a brainiac with a Nobel Prize in medicine, a biochemist and part of the Helicopter Rescue Team in Sea Haven.



Drake Sisters are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities. It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

Libby Drake is born with the abilities to heal and naturally she becomes a doctor saving people's lives everywhere along with various other save causes like the Whales, Big Cats Rescue, Environment, Forests and many other. As she had healed quite a few and some she bought time so they could stay a while, her name had been dragged by reporters in all kind of articles quoting her as a "miracle worker" or "faith healer", etc. much to her or her families liking.

Tyson Derrick, the resident famous and rich biochemist had on and off run-ins with Libby Drake that made her his center of attention as well. However, this was more elemental, sexual and involving body, mind and soul for him. However, he never expected that he would see Libby again in the most unfortunate situation he was in. While rescuing Drew Madison for a suicide attempt he does falling over the cliff, Ty's safety harness breaks and he falls down onto the lower jagged cliffs breaking his body into pieces. Libby sees him in the hospital and without her intention she ends up performing a huge healing session - where she takes on the injuries of Ty on herself.

This incident and the stories already in the tabloids made her the target of Edward Martinelli's undue attention. Martinelli although has a big name in pharmaceuticals, he has close ties with crime family out of Chicago. Libby although shrugged off that, she ends up having Martinelli's men on her tailing urging/threatening/forcing her to meet with their boss and do test trials.

That's not all there is to it. Someone is trying to kill Ty and also Libby. In the process Jonas gets harmed. Who is behind the shooting of Jonas? Did Ty's safety harness really break or was it a sabotage? Who is out there who is trying to harm Libby? For what reason? Why did Drew try to commit suicide? Who is throwing all the malevolent feelings towards Libby? What does Martinelli need from Libby? Read through to find out how Libby and Ty wade through all the hurdles with the help of Libby's sisters, their fiancées and the townsfolk how they find answers to all questions and finally find each other.

Another master spin by Christine Feehan involving basic human emotions such as jealousy, love, hatred and happiness woven with elements of danger, intrigue, mystery and magic. We get to see the world of pharmaceuticals and the scams around the test trials of new drugs and struggles of one good scientist fighting against all odds to get a fully functional drug out. Go for it not only to read the next in the series but also for the mystique behind the plot. Enjoy!!!

Spoiler Alert: Finally Its Hannah Drake after all that Jonas Harrington is tied to. We get to see their romance other than battle of words and wits this time around in this book.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A well-planned heist movies that will leave you watching at the edge of your seat.

Inside Man is another of those bank heist movies coming under the category of crime thriller released in 2006. I saw this movie for the first time on Netflix. Usually movies involving heists are of my interest, but this movie captured me for two reasons - introduction of the movie and the opening credits - before the actual plot. Here is my take on the movie.



Dalton Russell (portrayed by Clive Owen) opens the movie with the following lines as a monologue:
My name is Dalton Russell. Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself. I've told you my name: that's the Who. The Where could most readily be described as a prison cell. But there's a vast difference between being stuck in a tiny cell and being in prison. The What is easy: recently I planned and set in motion events to execute the perfect bank robbery. That's also the When. As for the Why: beyond the obvious financial motivation, it's exceedingly simple... because I can. Which leaves us only with the How; and therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub.

That, my dear wise patrons, is one hell of an opening that will bring everyone's attention to nothing else but the movie. Sure, don’t you want to know "the How" in this heist? I sure would do. :)



Second, the opening credits - who will not move and groove to the amazing tunes composed by A. R. Rahman? Indeed, the song Chaiyya Chaiyya from the 1998 hit Hindi film Dil Se (  = From The Heart). Certainly added beats to the plans of Dalton Russell.

Now the entire plot devised by Russell is very simple, but the way he executes it makes it look very complicated. Drives the minds of Detectives Keith Frazier (portrayed by Denzel Washington) and Bill Mitchell (portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor) crazy when they are trying to get into Russell's mind. Well, we have to give points to Russell here - having all the robbers call each other by variations of "Steve", forcing the hostages to undress and wear jumpsuits and masks similar to what the robbers wore - definitely worth lots of points.

The movie continues to show how Russell outsmarts the cops, robs the bank and walks out without any damages - people or property - leaving the cops and everyone dazed. It also follows Frazier and his mind that is always reading Russell's mind and anticipating his next step so he can be one up than Russell. A sub-plot follows the Arthur Case (portrayed by Christopher Plummer) who is the chairman of the board of directors and founder of the bank that Russell was robbing. What is that Case hiding from the world? Why is Russell targeting Case? What is the end motive behind the heist for Russell and his gang? Will Frazier get closer to catch him? Solve the crime? Watch the movie to get the answers and enjoy the heist.

One sore point was Jodie Foster. Nothing against her but never understood why her role was introduced. That part of the plot could be executed without having the role of Madeleine White (Foster) in the movie. It still would have made sense.

Thoroughly enjoyable movie with unexpected twists and unanticipated turns. Don’t miss the ending at any cost - all the crux of the movie lies there. Of course the closing credits again with a remix version of Chaiyya Chaiyya from 1998 hit Hindi film Dil Se composed by A. R. Rahman.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. Oceans of Fire is the third installment of Drake Sisters Novels published in April of 2005. This book revolves around the third Drake sister - Abigail "Abbey" Drake - and Aleksandr Volstov



Drake Sisters are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities. It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

Abigail "Abbey" Drake, the third sister, possesses the ability to make others speak truth as well as her strong affinity to water and bond with dolphins. In one of her swims with dolphins she comes across a cold-blooded murder being committed on the very same shores that she enjoyed swimming. In the attempt to save Gene Dockins, whom she knew since she was a child, and was injured in the cross-fire, she gets scraped by bullets and sharks. She finally gets herself and Gene safely on to the pier with the help of dolphins only to come face to face with a pair of mid-night blue eyes filled with ice cold rage belonging to one Aleksandr Volstov. An interpol agent and the last person she expected to see in her home town brought back haunting memories to her. And now she is again back in the sights of not only Alexsandr but also the killer by saving Gene.

Aleksandr also had not expected to meet Abbey, of all the places but here - right in the middle of his case. He and his partner Andre Danilov stumbled upon something bigger than what they had anticipated when they originally started this case. That brought them to Sea Haven and now Danilov was murdered, Abbey was a witness to it and he is come full circle right in front of her again - his fiancée nonetheless. He was following the trail of smugglers who were shipping stolen antiquities and jewelry from Russia to this part of west coast in US.

But what was the reason for Abbey to break away from Aleksandr? What happened in the past that scares Abbey even now? With the killers hunting Abbey, will she be able to accept her flaws as she sees, accept Aleksandr's help and outsmart the killers? Will Aleksandr be successful in keeping her this time? To top it all the famed Russian killer Ilya Prakesnkii is in the vicinity which means his boss would be around too. Why is he here? Why is he watching Abbey or is he?

Christine Feehan again at her best in weaving a web with strings of international smuggling, espionage, murders and treasure hunters all surrounded by the lattice of love and sexual tension between Abbey and Aleksandr. The story also starts thickening from this book onwards showing so many elements and dark evil worlds of human nature. Its not just another magical and erotic story anymore. Thoroughly enjoyable read even though I still feel that there are so many repeat paragraphs - which is normal trend with Christine. Well, what's holding you all to pick this book? Go on, pick it up, sit by a window or your backyard and get lost in the world of magic, intrigue, mystery and love.

Spoiler alert: Ilya Prakenskii, partner to Joley Drake gets introduced in this book and their face-offs (Joley and Ilya's) continue for the next two books before they finally merge in the sixth installment Turbulent Sea.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. The Twilight Before Christmas is the second installment of Drake Sisters Novels published in December of 2003. The book I have is the reissued anthology titled The Wicked and the Wondrous published in September of 2004 and also contains another short story by Christine Feehan along with this one - which I will be posting for another day.



Drake Sisters are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities. It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

In the first book Magic in the Wind, the gate opened for Damon Wilder and he walked straight into the home and life of Sarah Drake. We also have been introduced to three more of the seven sisters - Abigail "Abbey" Drake, Kate Drake and Hannah Drake. Now each of the sisters should be prepared to have their true love walk into their lives - which is very much dreaded by them. And next it line is Kate.

Matthew Granite had loved Kate for as long as he knew her but never could muster up courage to tell her. Kate always had a secret crush on him but feared that his brothers and friends laughed at her all the time making her suspicion that she wasn’t right for Matt more stronger. Matt was a decorated U.S. Army Ranger and now settled in Sea Haven with his family construction business. Kate is a famous novelist with the special ability to bring peace with her voice. Kate bought an old mill on the cliffs and is planning to renovate it into a bookstore and a coffee shop and modernize the home to live in it as well. Matt volunteers to take up the renovation work. When they visit the mill to assess the effort for renovation, they come across a strange seal in the ground in the basement of the mill. With the recent earthquake the seal seemed to have been moved a little letting out whatever was shut in there. Kate reads a few words in the seal that read "sealed until the day one is born" but she would need help of her sisters to completely understand what it is and what was sealed inside.

Thus starts another adventure involving the sisters battling the centuries old curse their ancestors had put on someone and sealed, trying to bring peace and festivity back to the town during the season of Christmas and at the same time Kate and Matt find the courage to face the love they have for each other. Apart from the sisters that are already on the island, Elle Drake, Libby Drake and Joley Drake also arrive in time to help Kate. Jackson Deveau, the deputy Sheriff, lends his hand as needed along with Jonas Harrington - Sherrif of Sea Haven - although he keeps to himself. With the help of all these well-wishers, Kate and Matt fight the old spirit bringing peace to everyone.

A charming Christmas tale involving old spirits, curses, love, peace and brining hope and happiness to everyone. Christine Feehan at her best again. A quick read, no complex sub-plots and equally balanced characters.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: A total disappointment for me, not just the acting, but the story plot and the editing.

A much awaited movie since past year, the movie Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice finally released on March 25th of this year. Superman has been always my favorite super hero. And Batman had always my empathy since the world always saw him as a dark avenger rather than a super hero. So I was curious about the whole concept of them being pitted against each other. By now everyone knows the story, so my review would be just on the positives and negatives of the movie. Unfortunately I have a lot of negatives. **Sigh** So here goes my review.



The idea of pitting one superhero against another was interesting since we have seen that being done in comic books more than once. The movie starts eighteen months after Superman's battle with General Zod in Metropolis but instead of being appreciated for it, media makes him a controversial figure - if not for Superman coming to Earth, General Zod would never had followed and caused that massive destruction. Batman views Superman has a threat because of all this. Superman also learns about Batman's activities, he perceives Batman a threat and follows him everywhere as his alter-ego Daily Planet's journalist, Clark Kent. In comes LexCorp's fanatic owner Lex Luthor trying to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite but is denied the request. Lex doesn’t take the denial kindly. Thus begins the chase between Lex, Superman and Batman - one working to destroy Earth while two trying to save Earth.

Basic plot could have been a super-hit if the unnecessary subplots were not included. Mainly the dark dreams that Batman often sees. More than 30 mins of the movie covers that which in my opinion was not required. One dream would have been enough to explain the background. That added to boredom to the movie.

Editing, I felt, very haphazard. Several scenes looked like patch work.

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman was a better choice for the role than Christian Bale in The Dark Knight series - more because the voice he uses as a Batman was not sounding so constipated as Christian Bale sounded. And Ben Affleck looked hotter in the suit. :)

Henry Cavill is perhaps the second actor who has come closer to being the perfect Superman - first being Christopher Reeve. Perfectly fitted into the role of both Superman and his alter-ego Clark Kent. However, I would have wanted him to be a little more stronger and a bit faster in getting Batman's head right.

Jesse Eisenberg mastered his role as Lex Luthor here. He always came across as a bit maniac filled with craziness in whatever role he played, so it was a perfect choice to cast him as Lex Luthor. I am yet to understand what his end goal is for pitting Batman against Superman other than taking revenge on Superman. But what is his beef against Batman - that didn’t come clear in the movie. If the director makes a sequel - braving the loss with this movie - perhaps it might get clearer.

We get to see Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman first time in a live-action movie. I am looking forward to see more of these characters in future series that they build. However, Wonder Woman was a surprise. Gal Gadot depicted her role so very well. It was disappointing to see so less of her un the movie - expected more than what was shown.

Finally if the movie could have had less dream-world time for Batman, a little more activity for Wonder Woman and also reduce the monotony of Batman Vs Superman (which we all know the movie is about), it would have not been such a disappointment and leave all us with a massive headache. Let's hope the sequel has a better story line-up and editing.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe that there is more than to everyone that involves with connection to elements of nature and human, then this is the series I recommend you pick.

Drake Sisters Novels are the first series in the Sea Haven Novels by Christine Feehan. Magic in the Wind is the first installment of Drake Sisters Novels published in July of 2003. They are seven sisters who are intertwined with each other and possess magical abilities to control not only elements of earth, water, fire and wind but also have psychic abilities.



It is prophesied that when the locked gate of their family home opens to a stranger, he would be the true love of the oldest sister. And the rest of them follow tying themselves to the remaining sisters. Each of the sister is powerful in their own ways but the seventh sister, the youngest of all, not only most powerful but also bears the greatest gift of bearing the next generation of seven sisters. Like all powers come with a cost, so does the same for these sisters. It may not be a cost but each of them have to face the challenge that comes with their powers and overcome it as one unit - all the while finding (or escaping in some sisters' case) their true love.

In the first book, Magic in the Wind, we follow how Sarah - the oldest Drake Sister - finds her true love in Damon Wilder. Damon had come to Sea Haven to find just that - a haven. Burned out, injured and retired scientist he was looking for a place where he can heal - body, mind and soul. But he became more and more intrigued about this person Sarah that everyone has been buzzing about, even the wind seemed to whisper. The intrigue takes him to the Drake home which surprisingly seems not impacted by the elements of weather. The retired scientist in him blooms his mind again sharpening it. But little did he know that his heart also would do the same the minute his eyes land on Sarah.

Sarah returned home, although on an assignment but was unsure why she was compelled to until Damon walked into her home through the gates past her dogs. His past, his present and what could happen to him grasped her as much intensely as the instant attraction between them. But Damon was not just carrying his past on his back but much more than a normal logic can explain.

Who are hunting Damon? What is the weight he is carrying? Will Sarah accept the prophecy? An interesting opening book for the series although it's a short series - totally different from her Dark (Carpathian) Series. Interesting enough for me to look up the remaining storied in the book and read them immediately. The prophecy also tells that when one sister returns home so the others will follow soon. Keep following my reviews, my gentle patrons, to see how these sisters face the fate, overcome the challenges and ultimately find their true love.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A beautiful story that revolves around friendship, love and togetherness especially at the time of festivals - especially when one is hurt or had hurt someone inadvertently and how all come together despite.

Happy Easter everyone! Yes, I am way behind in posting my reviews, but this day all over the world folks celebrated Easter - springtime festival. For this day, I chose this movie featuring characters from Disney's classic Winnie the Pooh cartoons. This was my choice not just because I love Winnie the Pooh but also because my nephews love him too.  This post is dedicated to my three nutty naughty nephews.



Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo is an American direct-to-video animated film released in 2004. The story mainly revolves around Easter and how they wish to celebrate in the Hundred Acre Wood. As always, Tigger heads out to Rabbit's place along with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Roo for an Easter Egg hunt.





However, once they reach Rabbit's house they see that instead of Easter, Rabbit is doing a "Spring Cleaning Day" and assigns tasks to everyone to do the spring cleaning. No matter what everyone says or try to explain he refuses to acknowledge Easter and insists on making it a "Spring Cleaning Day". Everyone is surprised and shocked as to why Rabbit was so bitter about Easter.



The rest of the story follows how everyone try to find the reason behind Rabbit's reluctance, what happened in the past, what changed now and how it affected Rabbit. Will everyone understand the cause? Will Rabbit get over his bitterness and finally concede in celebrating Easter? Will the Hundred Acre Wood have an Easter this year? Its always fun to watch Winnie the Pooh and his friends. They literally come to life in front of my eyes.

I also can empathize with Rabbit knowing how my nature is but at the same time understand others standing too. So it was with mixed feelings that I enjoyed it at times and was questioning the author at times. Nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable adventure with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Death on Heels is the eighth installment in the Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum published in February of 2012. This time around Lacey Smithsonian gets involved with her ex-boyfriend, cattle rancher Cole Tucker when he is arrested.



Lacey Smithsonian had moved from her hometown Sagebrush, Colorado to Washington, D.C. not only for her career but also to get away from the small town gossip, Vic Donovan (at that time she wanted to get away) and vowed never to look back.  However when her ex-boyfriend who had wanted to marry her was arrested for murders of three women, she takes it upon herself to go back to that town and help Tucker. She didn’t believe that Tucker could be a killer at all. And to prove that she not only needed a lot of guts, courage and sheer determination but also her best, dandified, make-a-statement cowboy boots.

Seventeen years old Rae Fowler, a pretty run-away from Denver was the first alleged victim. This brought back memories for Sean Victor "Vic" Donovan as well. This was the case that Vic had investigated when he was working a the Chief of Police for Sagebrush. For Vic, this was one of those cases that haunts cops and he was heading back to help the current chief a closure to the case - which means even if he unearth clues that would hang Tucker eventually. For Lacey, this was not just helping an ex-boyfriend but also a murder with fashion clues written all over it - all three girls were found mostly dressed but with no shoes on. Why would anyone take the shoes from the victims? And also to prove to herself that she wasn’t a bad judge of character as well. Despite Vic objecting her going to Sagebrush - not just because she gets tangled with murders always but also his doubt that Lacey might still hold a candle to Tucker - Lacey joins Vic and heads to Sagebrush.

The list of suspects was not long but it did include Dodd Muldoon - Lacey's old boss when she worked for Sagebrush daily newspaper - which surprised her very much.  Then there is Montana McCandless Donovan Schmidt - Vic's ex-wife - still living around Sagebrush. Lacey dreaded that Montana might try again to get Vic back just she had done a year ago. Braving herself, Lacey joins Vic in Sagebrush to tackle all these and help Tucker. What will she uncover? Is Tucker really a killer? Had Lacey never knew anything about him? Why Tucker being so adamant to speak what really happened? Is he still holding a candle to Lacey? Well, the adventure begins folks, brace yourself. :)

The sub-plots covered in the book are - wedding between Stella and Nigel and blooming love between Brooke and Damon - of Lacey's best friends. They add a comic relief and tie in well with the main plot. Lacey's mother and sister also join her in Sagebrush adding to the anxiety that Lacey already was going through. How does Lacey battle all these? Another good murder-mystery by Ellen with fashion clues. An easy read for those lazy days. Read further and enjoy.  And don’t forget the fashion bites. Here's a snippet from Lacey's Fashion Bites.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites:  Hey There, Annie Oakley, It's Western Wear , Not a Costume

The key is to know what pieces to choose, not the entire Sedona Arizona collection. Remember, nothing screams outsider as much as putting on the whole little dogie. You don’t want to look like an extra in a cowboy film. Unless, of course, you are an extra in a film.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Shot Through Velvet is the seventh installment in the Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum published in February of 2011. The time around Lacey gets tangled with Velvet and Murder - obviously with lots of fashion clues.



Lacey Smithsonian, the fashion reporter for The Eye Street Reporter at Washington, D. C., is touring the last velvet factory in Virginia as part of her article on the vanishing U.S. Textile Industry. Dominion Velvet's general manager Tom Nicholson had assured her that the closure was temporary and there were huge plans for the factory's future. She was not aware that the plans included finding the very dead blue body of Rodney Gibbs a.k.a. the Blue Devil - part owner in the company; a partner - completely dripped in blue color hanging from the overhead dye house tied to spool of velvet that was incompletely dyed. Vic Donovan, the newly hired security consultant to Dominion Velvet, had tipped off Lacey of the factory's closure. Now, standing beside her, he has second thoughts on his decision of giving her the scoop as well as regrets that he had listened to the client in starting his job a day later.

Knowing Lacey, despite what Vic says, she rolls up her sleeve and sets on to solve the murder of the dead man who literally wore bluuuuuue Velllll-vet - just like the song. To add to it she finds out that The Eye's publisher Claudia Darnell is a silent partner in the factory. People in Black Martin, Virginia and the workers at the factory feel that she helped pull the plug on them to close the factory. She felt some kind of animosity from the townsfolk towards Claudia. And the local reporter Will Adler, a constant by her side while investigating and who wanted to be the first on the case as well. Why was Rod Gibbs killed? What is the motive of the killer with all the blue velvet being left around the body? What is the role of Claudia in all this? Are the townsfolk right about her? Thus another adventure for Lacey begins, at least this time Vic was on her side for a change. Where does all this lead Lacey to? Well, read and find out. :)

Another good murder-mystery by Ellen with fashion clues. An easy read for those laze days. Enjoy the book and don’t forget the fashion bites. Here's a snippet from Lacey's Fashion Bites.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites:  Shopping as an Art Form: Shop Early, Shop Often, Shop Well

Don/t shop when you are too hungry or too full. Hunger makes you cranky and you'll grab the first thing you see. If you just packed in a huge meal, you will feel too fat to try on clothes. I recommend a light protein-packed breakfast or lunch. You can always take a coffee break.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: Good for watching sitting on couch and don’t expect too many variations in notes.

Happy Holi! Yes, on Mar 24th this year, the festival of colors Holi was celebrated by Indians all over the world. So for this day I wanted to post something related to Holi. On a search a link took to me to a list of movies that should be watched this Holi and one of the movie listed was Blue Oranges. I picked this only for the sake of the color name in the title that relates to festival of colors. However, this is a crime-thriller involving murder and mystery released in 2009.



I don’t remember this movie releasing anywhere so it was a new one for me. Added to that Rajit Kapur in the role of Detective Nilesh Bhargav piped me up to watch this movie. I am a huge fan of him for his role as Detective Byomkesh Bakshi in the TV Series of the same name. So, I had to watch it. And now for the review of Blue Oranges on the occasion of a happy festival of colors - Holi. **Wicked Grin**



Blue Oranges opens with Commissioner Dixit asking Detective Nilesh to take up the case of wrongly accused Kevin Travasso in the murder of his ex-girlfriend Shalini Chauhan. Nilesh believes that it is an open and shut case but on request from the commissioner he starts looking into the case. And it doesn’t seem all so simple an open and shut case anymore. A myriad of suspects open up for Nilesh along with many coincidence that he could not just ignore them. Thus begins the chase to find the killer of Shalini Chauhan? Was Kevin innocent? Or was there someone else framing Kevin? What was Shalini afraid of?

Well directed by Rajesh Ganguly keeping the viewers on the edge of their seats from the beginning. No over the fence acting by anyone but none memorable either except for Rajit Kapur. He fit seamlessly into the role of Detective Nilesh Bhargav although at times he looked a bit constipated - which I will attribute to the age. :P It was also a pleasure to watch Rati Agnihotri on screen again. The last I had seen her was in 2004 Hindi film Hum Tum ( = Me And You). She had acted in several movies after her re-entry to Hindi films in 2001 but I had watched only one or two of those in which she acted.

Although the plot was very good - almost a Poirot or Mason kind material but it seriously lacked comic relief. A bit of comedy could have freshen it up just like those sprigs of mint or cilantro garnishing a spicy biryani. Another thing that confused me was the tagline of the movie "Miracles are like Blue Oranges. They exist only in the realms of one's mind" - Where does it fit. I kind of get it a little but would have liked it explained a bit more.

More than once it is shown that Detective Nilesh and his daughter read from a book titled Blue Oranges. And I wondered if it really was an actual book. Turns out it is not but I had got tons of references to the 1964 French film Tintin and the Blue Oranges. On my list next to watch this soon, of course an English version of it though. :)

Opening scenes and sequences reminded me of the video of the remix song "Chaandni Raatein" where the girl falls in love with a poor artist but leaves him and marries someone else. Although in the movie its not exactly so.



Coming back to the movie, certainly this thriller will keep you on toes and does not get you sleepy or boring as the suspect count keeps on increasing. At one point it just becomes a guessing game to the viewer not knowing who was the actual orchestrator of the sequence of events here. Enjoy it lazing on your sofa sipping a refreshing drink!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Armed and Glamorous is the sixth installment in the Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum published in July of 2008. This time Lacey Smithsonian is taking a PI class so she can hone her sleuthing skills. Why not, she keeps running into murdered victims, killers and eventually capturing them. :)



The plot opens with Lacey's first class at the PI school run by Bud Hunt - an ex-cop and a close friend of Vic Donovan. With her are other characters in the class - Snake Goldstein, a bounty hunter; Edwina Plimpton, who won the class over a bet with her friend; Willow Raynor, a very shy woman; Martin Hadley, who believes the US Government had put him in an experiment of mind control and finally Damon Newhouse - perhaps Brooke leaked Lacey's idea of taking the class or Vic ordered Damon to be her bodyguard but he was there to annoy her further.

But the biggest surprise for Lacey was Bud's guest speaker, Greg - a surveillance expert. He was no ordinary person but infact was Gregor Kepelov, an ex-KGB spy and a jewel thief, whom she had tangled with when she was in Russia looking for the lost corset in the book The Raiders of the Lost Corset.  Now what was he doing in Washington, D.C. thought Lacey.

As the class concludes for a lunch break and everyone headout, they come across a very dead Cecily Ashton in her silver-blue S-Type Jaguar just outside the building where the class was. Cecily was one of the notorious Washingtonian socialites, the former trophy wife of an aging billionaire, Philip Clark Ashton, who once owned a baseball team in D.C. She often tended to get the wrong kind of publicity in press causing the inevitable divorce. Lacey had interviewed her for her fashion article not just a week ago.

Now this makes it more mysterious for Lacey's sharp mind. Was there a connection between Gregor and Cecily? What was Cecily doing outside the class in Falls Church, Virginia - a place Cecily would never be found visiting? Was she trying to contact someone here? Gregor? Bud? Lacey? Was the break-in at Cecily's home had to do anything with her murder? Why would a robber steal just one item - a one-of-a-kind makeup case, piece designed by Louis Vuitton for Rita Hayworth in the 1940s and contained a hidden compartment that housed a very expensive pearl necklace belonging to the movie star? Why did he steal just that one? Why not her expensive clothes that probably costed more than the makeup case?  And Lacey's mind spins further pushing her deeper into the investigation much to the chagrin of Vic and the danger that posed to her and her friends.

Another good murder-mystery by Ellen with fashion clues. It was thrilling to visit Aunt Mimi's magical bottomless trunk again, filled with fabulous vintage clothes, fabrics, patterns and fashion memorabilia. My taste for vintage clothing had increased page by page as I read these books. One day perhaps I will wear a vintage clothing too. :P We alos get to hear the story behind Lacey's last name "Smithsonian" - definitely not related to the museum. :P I recommend that you pick this book for a easy read of murder and crime in the world of fashion. And here's another snippet from Lacey's Fashion Bites.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites: Shopping Safari: Hunting for the Elusive Little Black Dress

The first rule of hunting and gathering the right little black dress is commitment. Commitment to trying on as many black dresses as it takes until you find the one that fits, whether that means two dresses or twenty dresses.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Grave Apparel is the fifth installment in the Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum published in July of 2007. Lacey Smithsonian - the fashion reporter The Eye Street Observer in Washington, D.C. - gets pulled into another mystery woven through the world of fashion and news. But, this time it is too close to home or rather should I say to the paper where she works.



It's Christmas time, but Lacey is not having any fun or peace. Her article on tacky sweaters created a "Sweatergate" across Washington, D.C. and blaming her that she is ruining Christmas. But it was Cassandra Wentworth - the new addition to the paper in the editorial section we saw in the previous book - was the one who had written the article. And adding to that Felicity Pickles - who always wore the fun and tacky sweaters for the festive season - took it very personal about the article. Lacey gets caught between these two and their bickering.  Lacey wondered why Cassandra hated Christmas so much.

However, that was all not that happened with sweaters and Cassandra. The fire between Cassandra and Felicity shifted between Cassandra and Lacey, when Lacey wrote her Fashion Bites related to Christmas Sweaters followed by Mac's apology to clear the confusion on who exactly wrote the earlier article. Cassandra waged an open war of words with Lacey on that although Lacey avoided as much as she could. And one night she receives an urgent call from Cassandra's phone, but it's not Cassandra calling. A young boy uses Cassandra's phone and asks her to come to help the lady as she is hurt. Lacey runs outside only to find Cassandra lying on the floor with a head injury and hurt badly - and wearing a very tacky sweater that was singing "Jingle Bells" that looked very similar to what Felicity wore. The only witness was the young boy who does not divulge any details about him and instead goes on the run.

Now Lacey takes upon herself to find the boy as he had been seen by whoever had hurt Cassandra. The cops think he is a suspect when he is a witness. And since the boy's life is in danger, Lacey puts her life on the line for him. And she was also curious to know why someone wanted to hurt Cassandra? What was the motive? Will she survive? Who was framing Felicity? And she also had to deal with what to make for the Christmas Party that she was invited to at The Donovans - not to forget that her romance with Vic is full on now that he is free of Montana.

Read further to see where all this ends. Signing-off this review with a snippet from another of Lacey's Fashion Bites.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites: It's an Organization Town, Right? So Get Organized for the Holidays!
Plan ahead! You're already planning the events, so strategize your looks to suit. Create comfortable and stylish outfits for those meetings and parties and shopping trips, so you won't have to reach into that last minute grab bag called your closet.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: A fast paced semi-thriller with political elements and how a media person unravels the conspiracy - good read but not as better as other books by Sydney Sheldon.

This review is dedicate to my sister-in-law, Sumina, who celebrated her birthday on this day the post was supposed to have gone. She loves Sydney Sheldon's books.

The Sky Is Falling is a semi-thriller based on political conspiracy and crime written by Sydney Sheldon published in 2001. It revolves around a news anchorwoman for The Washington Tribune Network Television in Washington, D.C., Dana Evans, who seems an unseen mystery between the deaths of the famous Winthrop Family. This book can be called a sort of sequel for his 1997 book The Best Laid Plans - where we had first seen Dana Evans and Kemal.



The plot opens with the return of Dana Evans from Sarajevo completing her assignment of war coverage and with an adopted kid, Kemal - who had lost his arm during the bombings there. She is also engaged to Jeff Connors - co-anchor covering the sports details. The first major coverage she gets into as soon as she is back is an interview with Gary Winthrop - the last surviving member of the famed family known for its charity and kindness. The same night Gary gets gunned down in his home by robbers. When she comes to know that all of the Winthrop Family have died in accidents in the past year, she smells a crime and conspiracy. When broached with her boss, Matt Baker, about her theory, he says, "If I didn't know you better, I'd call a psychiatrist and tell him Chicken Little is in my office saying that the sky is falling." Yet, he gives her permission to investigate  - perhaps would be a good opener for their new series Crime Line, if Dana was even a little right about her hunch.

Whether she may be called Chicken Little or not, she rolls her sleeves up and starts her volley of questions to all those who were in contact the day of each of the Winthrop Family member's  so-called "accidents".  She travels from country to country where each incident happened in the course of her investigation. But someone is following her every step and keeping tabs on her; someone closer to her than she can imagine. Were the Winthrops really killed or were they all genuine accidents? If they were killed, what is the reason behind it when everything points them to be clean with no enemies and huge heart and money open for charity? What is the reason for Taylor Winthrop - father of Gary Winthrop - to be appointed as U.S. Ambassador for Russia? What was Joan Sinisi - ex-secretary to Taylor Winthrop - afraid of to speak? Who is spying on Dana? Is her life in danger? Is Kemal's life in danger? Dana drills through all these questions and faces people of higher authority to get answers.

At the same time she is dealing with Kemal's mis-behavior at school - although none initiated by him. She is also questioning hers and Jeff's relationship when Jeff is gone on personal leave to help his ex-wife  Rachel Stevens in her time of need. And not to forget her mother - a constant nagger in her life who reaches out to Dana mostly when she is out of money. In all this midst someone is trying really hard to stop her as she is getting closer to the secret. See, how she unravels one of the biggest conspiracy with starts with death of Gary Winthrop. The Sky indeed is falling!!

A fast paced crime thriller by Sydney Sheldon, although no where near closer to what he had showed us in his book The Best Laid Plans. The whole episode between Jeff and Rachel confused me a lot on the characterization of Jeff. I commend him for being there for Rachel in her time of need, but he was coming very close to getting back with Rachel and leaving Dana.  Then the story-pace...it is really fast for my taste as a crime thriller and contrary to how the political crimes are investigated in reality. Then the role of Elliot Cromwell - new owner for WTN - is unfinished in my opinion. Several questions related to him I felt were unanswered.

In any case, it is a good read that you want to pick up if you want to have a quick fix for a crime thriller but do not want to break your head on it.  Enjoy!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Raiders of the Lost Corset is the fourth instalment in the Crime of Fashion Series by Ellen Byerrum published in July of 2006. Lacey Smithsonian - the heroine of the series - works for the paper The Eye Street Observer as a fashion reporter in Washington, D.C. - a city she keeps calling as "The City Fashion Forgot". She tangles herself again in a mystery involving a lost corset stolen from a Russian princess in the 1912 massacre and murder of her good friend. Lacey sounds more and more like Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote - wherever Jessica goes, a murder happens and promptly she gets involved in solving it. Interesting life, this Lacey leads. :)



Magda Rousseau was a master corsetiere, one of the last practicing almost dying art of accentuating (or creating) the alluring curves of the female form with laces and stays. However, Lacey finds her in between all her baubles lying on her sofa mumbling and commanding her to "Find the corset" even though she is poisoned. Shortly after she dies taking a promise from Lacey that he would indeed find the corset. Later when Detective Broadway Lamont arrives on the scene - whom she constantly runs into - notices that Magda is stabbed as well.

Who wants to poison and stab Magda? Who have taken the corset - one that is worth millions as it is infamous for being sewn with hidden imperial jewels, lost since 1912? Where is Analiza Zarina - a Latvian and co-owner of the shop? What happened to her? What happened to the missing broach that Magda always wore? Is there any hidden meaning to the quirky theatrical expressions that Magda always used - "Bloody thread, knock 'em dead"; "Bloody stitch,  all get rich"; "Bloody dress, get good press"? Has this have to do anything with Magda's search for a legendry jewel-filled corset worn by one of the Russian imperial princesses during the execution of the entire Romanov family in July of 1917 in Ekaterinburg, Russia?

Magda had mentioned to Lacey that one of the corset was spirited away on that bloody night by a Latvian solder named Juris Akmentins , who was her maternal grandfather and later on moved to France and hid the corset there. Since Magda couldn’t afford to go to France and wanted it to be found, she had asked Lacey to do the search instead. And Mac, her editor had approved her trip to France, completely funded by the paper. With Magda's demise her determination to find the corset and find the murderer increases ten-fold. And now she is off to Paris, France with her friend Brooke Barton to unravel all the mystery behind the infamous corset. It would be a good break for her from Vic as well considering their puzzling end to their romance.

Another easy murder-mystery read tying up all the elements of fashion together beautifully. And the fashion bites and columns by Lacey continue to spur interest in me. Signing-off with the tidbit from Lacey's Fashion Bites that she writes for The Eye.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites:  Welcome to Tonight's Thrilling Episode of What Will I Wear Tomorrow?

We all need fewer clothes that work better and harder (Or bigger closets.) Always thin the herd of the weaker specimens. Be ruthless. One way to be sure you'll always know what to wear tomorrow is to get rid of the clothes that don’t work for you today, especially the sneaky ones that turn on you in the middle of the afternoon.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Hostile Makeover is the third instalment in the Crime of Fashion Series by Ellen Byerrum published in August of 2005. The is also the second Lifetime Movie that was made based of the book in the series. I wonder why the remaining books werent made into movies, would have loved to watch them.



Lacey Smithsonian - the heroine of the series - works for the paper The Eye Street Observer as a fashion reporter in Washington, D.C. - a city she keeps calling as "The City Fashion Forgot". Lacey snags another opportunity - interviewing the reality TV makeover success story Amanda Manville - which is right up her alley. And straight lands into another mystery - Amanda asks her help in stopping a deadly stalker. Despite Vic's caution - her boyfriend or going to be boyfriend depending on the divorce - she starts her own investigation taking all the help she needs from her friends. Now where does this investigation into Amanda's stalker lead her to? What is behind the big Makeover Madness that nobody want to unearth and could even go to the extent of murder to keep it shushed?

This time around however, Lacey gets to experience first-hand what would happen to be even in the shadow of the infamous office jinx - Harlan Wiedemeyer - starting with the narrow escape she has from the falling Krispy Kreme Donuts sign on Harlan's brand-new Volvo. Harlan was a new The Eye Street Observer reporter who covered the "death and dismemberment" beat for the paper. And he has a crush on Felicity Pickles - the resident food blogger / reporter for the paper.  A message left on her answering machine by Marie Largesse - the friendly neighborhood psychic - warning her of some kind of jinx whirling around her head doesn’t make her any happier even though she doesn’t believe in Marie's readings.

Her run-ins with the resident weather reporter, Cassandra Wentworth arent any peaceful either. In all the midst of this she has a romantic getaway with Vic Donovan and an impending visit by her mother and sister. Only place she always finds solace is in either Vic's arms when he is with her rather than trying to fight Montana and when she is digging through her Aunt Mimi's bottomless trunk, that is filled with fabulous vintage clothes, fabrics, patterns and fashion memorabilia.


As said above, an easy murder-mystery read tying up all the elements of fashion together beautifully. And the fashion bites and columns by Lacey continue to spur interest in me. Signing-off with the tidbit from Lacey's Fashion Bites that she writes for The Eye.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites: Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal; You're the Star; Don't Dress Like the Understudy!

You and I may not have Bette Davis's fabulous wardrobe (courtesy of Orry-Kelly) to help us shed our ugly-duckling shells and reveal our beautiful inner swans. But we can borrow Bette's attitude that says, I'm not the understudy. I'm the star.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of books in the entire series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

Designer Knockoff is the second installment in the Crime of Fashion Series by Ellen Byerrum published in August of 2004. Like I mentioned in my previous post about Killer Hair, the movies Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover on Lifetime Movie Channel based of the books of the same name spurred the interest in me to read the series. They are easy to read murder-mystery stories with a twist related to fashion, vintage clothing and style. Although at times I did get lost in the test, but the plot is interesting enough to be captured again.



Lacey Smithsonian - the heroine of the series - works for the paper The Eye Street Observer as a fashion reporter in Washington, D.C. - a city she keeps calling as "The City Fashion Forgot".  In this particular book, she is all geared up to attend the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee oversight hearing on a new museum (by House of Bentley owned by Hugh Bentley) dedicated to American fashion, in her 1940s outfit - a Bentley creation by Hugh Bentley himself from his very first collection. It is from her Aunt Mimi's bottomless trunk, that is filled with fabulous vintage clothes, fabrics, patterns and fashion memorabilia. But her contact, Esme Fairchild, is no where to be found. Yet by luck or luck of Aunt Mimis's dress she snags an exclusive with Hugh Bentley. She had been itching to meet with him from when she had read about her Aunt Mimi's notes that Huge "That Bastard" Bentley was not only a legendary American designer but also a notorious playboy, a cad, a louse and a heartbreaking fiend. She wondered if Aunt Mimi and Hugh Bentley had a torrid affair. Nonetheless she gets invited to the gala - opening of the museum by the First Lady.

Incidentally an armed robbery at one the Bentley's Boutique on the same day she meets with Hugh Bentley lands in her lap to write on the fashion angle of the crime. And Lacey hates coincidences. So she opens her own investigation on this. Little did she know that she was opening doors to a disappearance from the 1940s as well. Yes, Gloria Adams - seemed to be a friend of Aunt Mimi - had mysteriously disappeared and was an employee of Hugh Bentley at that time.  Is there a connection with Hugh and Gloria then and Hugh and Esme now? What does all of this have to do with the armed robbery? Where is Lacey heading to with her story?

All of it well spun by Ellen in this second installment. Despite the lengthy descriptions at places, it was an interesting read considering it involved unsolved mystery from past. Again Lacey's friends get involved in helping her, saving her and at times hindering her in the investigation(s).  We get to see a lot of chemistry between Miguel Flores - employee at Bentley's Boutique who took a beating - and Stella Lake - owner of Stylettos and friend of Lacey - which is a refreshing and comical side-plot in the book. Damon Newhouse from Conspiracy Clearing House - hosting the Deadfed dot com website - tangles with her in getting the latest scoop for his conspiracy theories pertaining to the government.  Chemistry between Damon and Brooke Barton - attorney and best friends with Lacey - flickers in this book. Not to forget the love-hate relationship Lacey has with Vic Donovan - who is currently working on getting divorced from his wife Montana. Curious to see where their relationship lands in future books.

As said above, an easy murder-mystery read tying up all the elements of fashion together beautifully. Signing-off with the tidbit from Lacey's Fashion Bites that she writes for The Eye.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites: When Bad Clothes Happen to Good People
Lacey's law: When bad clothes happen to good people, fight back. Toss them, give them away, turn them into rags or give them to Goodwill. If you don’t they will haunt you with the tenacity of a polyester monster from the back of the black lagoon otherwise known as your closet.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: An easy mystery read that is weaved through the world of fashion, style and dressing from the view point of a fashion stylist.

I watched Killer Hair when it aired in 2009 on Lifetime Movie Network before I ended up reading the book and eventually the series. What attracted me to the series was the portrayal of Lacey Smithsonian by Maggie Lawson, her passion towards becoming a fashion stylist on a grander scale and her Aunt Mimi's magical bottomless trunk, filled with fabulous vintage clothes, fabrics, patterns and fashion memorabilia. This also pushed my interest into vintage clothing and fashion although I havent actually wore anything close. Here's my take on the first book in the Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum published in 2003.



Lacey Smithsonian works as a fashion reporter in Washington, D.C. - a city she keeps calling as "The City Fashion Forgot". She is best friends with Stella Lake - who runs her own hair salon that is catered by the rich and famous living in D. C. - and Brooke Barton - an attorney. The case ruled out as a suicide by the cops falls into Lacey's lap when her friend Stella insists that the dead woman was murdered. Angie Woods, a hairstylist famed for difficult rejuvenating hair-jobs, is found dead with cut wrists and bad hair. Upon insistence from Stella, Lacey performs her own investigation into the crime which she considers a crime of fashion for Angie would never have been found dead with bad hair in case she had indeed committed suicide.

The lead investigator on the case is Vic Donovan - her ex-love interest from her life in a small town called Sagebrush in Colorado - with she has to work much to her heart's discomfort. And Vic has every intention of bringing her back into his life despite Lacey rejecting his advances. Added to these are the staff at the paper she works for - Douglas MacArthur "Mac" Jones, her editor; Felicity Pickles, reporter for food blogs and posts and Tony Trujillo; her rival reporter - that continuously weave strings of web around her that sometimes makes her feel that she is being held from reaching more. Yet, she would not want to have anyone else as her colleagues. The plot continues with Lacey investigation the murder - or as Vic calls hindering his investigation - and trying to find if Angie Woods was indeed murdered and if she was then who killed her? And for what purpose?

The movie enchanted me a lot, but the book was a slow read. In fact I had pushed myself to read through it just because I had already watched the movie and wanted to see how it was on paper (which is my principle - always read the book that had made onto screen). Once the book reached Aunt Mimi's trunk that is when it captured me - hook, line and sinker. Also the little tips and fashion bites that Lacey keeps leaving as the plot moves along added more charm.

An easy read considering it being  a murder-mystery that you want to pick up on days that keep you stressed or down. If you are not yet convinced, here is a fashion tip by Lacey from this book that should definitely move your hand towards it.

Lacey's Fashion Bite of the Day:

Never wear pink to testify before the Special Prosecutor! Accused of high crimes?
Dress in high style! Not like a little Bo Peep who has lost not only her sheep, but her wits as well.
It screams manipulation, not sophistication. Get a new consultant. Get a clue.
And plead guilty to a Crime of Fashion.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A perfect book for those days when you want to get justice for the wronged and enjoy it at the same time.

This was the first book of Jeffrey Archer I had read and incidentally this was his first novel that was published in 1976. The story is about Harvey Metcalfe and the four investors he had duped them thus cheating them of their money and profits. Seems to be a simple plot, isn't it? It's anything but simple.



The four investors - Stephen Bradley, an American professor at University of Oxford; Dr. Adrian Tryner, a Harley Street physician; Jean-Pierre Lamanns, a French art dealer with a gallery in London and James Brigsley, heir to an earldom - invest in Prospecta Oil owned by Harvey Metcalfe. But Harvey sells out at the top of the market before it crashes and the four investors suffer heavy losses. Stephen Bradley meets with the remaining three investors and urges them to devise plans that would help them get their money back.

Thus follows the interesting turn of events for Harvey Metcalfe courtesy of these four people. Little does he know that he is being played at his own game. In the process James finds love while the four of them play Harvey. How do they play Harvey? Do they win at this game? How do the four course through their plans - since each of them have to come up with their own plan to take Harvey down - is the rest of the story.

The book started rather slow and almost to the brink of boredom until the actual game began. So I urge the readers to hold patience and get through the first few chapters before putting the book down.

A year after I had read the book I watched a Telugu (Indian language) movie titled Athade Oka Sainyam ( = He's An Army) released in 2004. Much to my humor, the plot was very similar to what goes on in this book, although it being a Telugu movie there was involvement of a little more of sentiment and loss of life than what we read in the book. Here's the trailer of the movie.



I can't resist music - any kind - so here's a beautiful melody from the movie Sung by Sunitha, Music composed by S. V. Krishna Reddy and Lyrics penned by Chandrabose.



Anyway, coming back to the book, I recommend it for those days when you feel you want to break the law for the sake of justice - giving back the gesture to the goonies.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here).

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A well-made devotional movie based on the real-life of a pious person.

Shirdi Sai is a Telugu biographical movie released in September of 2012. It is based on the life of the spiritual guide Shirdi Sai Baba who lived during the late 19th and early 20th century in the town of Shirdi, India.



In 1986, K. Vasu had directed a movie based on Shirdi Sai Baba with the title Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Mahatyam in Telugu. Vijaychander had portrayed the role of Shirdi Sai Baba and it went on to become a block-buster hit. Till date we listen to the songs from this movie every time there is a devotional event or at temples. Music was composed by Maestro Ilayaraja. It is considered an evergreen classic. That said, actor Akkineni Nagarjuna - who portrayed the title role in this 2012 version, director K. Raghavendra Rao and music composer M. M. Keeravani had some big shoes to fill in here.

This was the third installment by Nagarjuna playing a devotional / mythological role in a biographical film based on lives of great persons from Indian mythology - as Annamayya in the movie of the same name in 1997 and as Kancharla Gopanna in the movie titled Sri Ramadasu in 2006. And both ended up being blockbuster hits with movies still drawing audience now. So we can definitely agree that Nagarjuna would be a logical choice for this movie as well. Well, how did the movie fare compared to the similar ones for Nagarjuna?
Picture heavy along with review behind the cut...Collapse )
That said, all in all a well-made movie, that touched my heart and which I enjoyed living through Sai Baba's life via the media. Considering it has been marked as a blockbuster hit I am guessing everyone else felt the same. However, the impact that Annamayya and Sri Ramadasu left on me by Nagarjuna's acting was more compared to that in Shirdi Sai. If you get a chance and if you are into such movies, do watch it. I definitely recommend it.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A feel-good movie that touches every string in your heart and leaves you with hope, friendship, togetherness and love. Do watch it for re-living the feelings along with the characters.

Candles on Bay Street is a Hallmark Hall of Fame Television movie released in November of 2006. The plot revolves around Dee Dee, Sam, Lydia, Trooper and the small town Dee Dee comes back to. I came across a book with the same name and similar plot by K. C. McKinnon but I could not find any reference that this movie was based on that book. I have to read that book to confirm and perhaps it will become a future post on my blog. For now, here is the trailer for the movie in question.



Dee Dee (portrayed by Alicia Silverstone) returns to her home-town after a long absence along with her son Trooper (portrayed by Matthew Knight). She re-unites with her old high school flame Sam (portrayed by Eion Bailey). However, Sam is now married to Lydia (portrayed by Annabeth Gish), who together run the local vet clinic. Sam, Lydia and the locals welcome Dee Dee and her son Trooper with full arms and heart-filled love. Even Lydia accepts Dee Dee and Trooper in their lives even though she knows the past between Sam and Dee Dee. She gets settled comfortably in the town making candles for a living, although Trooper doubts that they would be leaving again.

All seems going well and fine. So, what’s so heart-wrenching about it? Dee Dee is diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and is dying. And she is looking for someone who can take care of Trooper after she is gone. That is why she is back. Watch the movie to see how the town, Sam and Lydia come together to stand by Dee Dee in her time of need and give her the gift she was looking for.

Having seen Alicia in more peppier roles, it was a surprise to see her in a down-to-earth mother role. I must say she had pulled it off. The story plot is very simple with small words, yet deliver such profound meaning. For instance, right before Dee Dee reveals her intention of coming back, she says, "Cancer. I am dying, Sam." all the while working and arranging her candles. The single line that she delivers looks so casual but haunts you even after the movie is done and gone. Then Lydia's, "This is yours. Do you like it?" speaks volumes about her character, heart and the goodness within her. And when Sam promises Dee Dee "Anything. Anything you want" reveals how far he can go for friendship and for the one he had once loved.

Above all the community. All of them come together to make Dee Dee welcome, feel at home and also accept including her son with no conditions. One song in the movie always comes to my mind whenever I think about this movie, titled, "You've Got a Friend" nails the movie perfectly.



A perfect made-to-TV movie that does not bore you, instead glues you to your couch with a box of tissues or a hanky and leaving you in the end with hope and togetherness.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: Read it if you want to step away from Christie or Holmes. My recommendation is watch the TV Series instead.

I came across this detective when I was browsing thru Netflix for some good mysteries and chanced upon a series called "Inspector Alleyn Mysteries" produced by British Television. The character charmed me enough to look up the source this series was based off. It was based off of Roderick Alleyn Novels by Dame Ngaio Marsh, a contemporary of Agatha Christie and the likes. Looking up on Amazon for the books of this series I found one that had three novels together. Promptly ordered it to enjoy the read. However the charm faded when I actually read the books. I guess Patrick Malahide (who played the role of Inspector Alleyn in the TV series except for the pilot episode) lived the role better than the one in the book. Anyway, here is my take on the book with the three novels.



The three novels in the book are the first three in the series of 32 novels by Ngaio Marsh - A Man Lay Dead (originally published in 1934), Enter A Murderer (originally published in 1935) and The Nursing Home Murder (originally published in 1935). The book also has a foreward by the author that explains how she came upon the idea of the character, how she named him, shaped him and then planted him in various murder plots that he effortlessly solves. He may not be as dashing as Sherlock Holmes or as witty as Poirot yet he was shaped to have his own distinction and mannerisms. The author mentions how a rainy day boredom sparked a thought of writing a murder mystery based off of the "Murder Game" that was famous then in England. It is quite interesting to read an author's mind and understand how a book is born. Well, then that is how Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn was born. And I must say the foreward had actually wanted me to read the book in its entirety without putting it down. But like I mentioned above, the charm quickly faded.

The first novel, "A Man Lay Dead", as mentioned above is about a "Murder Game" gone wrong ending up in actually killing someone. In the beginning I felt a little confused in remembering the characters, where they were positioned and what role they were playing. However, it was very clear once Inspector replays the game with the remaining characters to get himself acquainted of the situation. Phew! That was a major help indeed. We also get to meet Nigel Bathgate and Angela North, both of whom you will get to see in future novels as well. Nigel, a jorunalist, infact assists the Inspector in solving the crime in this story - sort forming Dr. Watson to Ngaio's Sherlock. He also solves in capturing a Russian brotherhood in the process. Impressive!

The second novel, "Enter A Murderer", is a theaterical one. Incidentally Inspector Alleyn is in the galley watching the performance of "The Rat and The Beaver" when the murder occurs on stage. And ofcourse, Nigel Bathgate assists the Inspector again in solving the crime.

The third novel, "The Nursing Home Murder", The British Home Secretary, Sir Derek O'Callaghan MP dies an hour after he was operated for appendicitis. Initial suspicion points to his family physician, Sir John Phillips, since the last conversation they both had had been left with Phillips threating to kill O'Callaghan. Enter Inspector Alleyn and more layers unfurl and more suspects arise. Again his amanuensis, Nigel Bathgate, helps him while going undercover. In the end the actual killer gets caught although Alleyn is left with mixed feelings about life and love.

All three novels have simple English, straight forward approach, no major twists, involves intelligence rather than bullets and action. The Inspector is not a very charming fellow that make men want to murder him or women want to cling to him, yet his mind, mannerisms, thought process attracts you. Although many female suspects keep telling him and in some cases Nigel as well, that "he is a callous old pig". **WickedSmile**. The language used by the Inspector is quite comical. However, he is no Christie or Holmes to hook you on to his attraction or to Marsh's simple language. At every turn you expect him to spring up and reveal his inner side, but that never happens. The author was true to her character, just my mind couldn’t catch up.

I would recommend the TV series over the book, but you can still read the books if you want easy mysteries.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A good series mixed with legend, love, mystery and choices for those evenings when you need a break.

The Fall of Shane MacKade is the final installment in The MacKade Brothers series by Nora Roberts published in April of 1996. The plot revolves around Shane MacKade - the youngest of the MacKade brothers - and Dr. Rebecca Knight - friend of Regan and one who likes everything to be explained.



Dr. Rebecca Knight comes to Antietam, Maryland not just to visit Regan but also explore the legend further to give it some tangible explanation - because she is a scientist who needs to do that. But she never imagined that she would get tangled with the delicious Shane MacKade. As for Shane, the baby of the family and " sinfully good-looking, even for a ~MacKade", never seriously considered himself paired with anyone. He enjoyed women and that is what he always wanted to do until Rebecca. And the legend joins them together in more ways than they could think of.

Between his brothers getting married and popping kids out, Shane was determined not to follow the path. Understanding the unexplained was her forte and Rebecca wasn’t prepared to analyze what and explain the irrational feelings in her heart. But the legend was tempting her to dig deeper which means she has no choice but to ignore her heart and work along with Shane.

In the third book we saw one part of the legend related to the Barlow House and decisions that Abigail made then and what Cassie made now. Thankfully Cassie made the right decision and settled the ghosts in the house. This book deals with the other part of the legend where one of the two soldiers entered the MacKade family home injured. A century ago the MacKade family gave solace and helped the injured soldier. Now will the  legend show a way for Rebecca and Shane? Why is Shane reluctant to speak about it? What are the secrets behind Rebecca? What is the closure for the two soldiers who lost their lives so long ago?

An interesting conclusion for the series and well written as always by Nora Roberts. What bothered me was the way Rebecca's character acts up in the beginning. It was so artificial and was getting under my nerves. Thankfully Nora gave her character a chance to explain and go back to her natural self. That Rebecca was much better. And for Shane, no complaints at all - a through and through dangerous and delicious man and who would not want to tangle with him, I say? ;)

I recommend this book and the series for those lazy days when you just want to get lost in the world of words. Enjoy!!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A good series mixed with legend, love, mystery and choices for those evenings when you need a break.

The Heart of Devin MacKade is the third installment in The MacKade Brothers series by Nora Roberts and published in January of 1996. This book was very heart-wrenching and heart went out to both Devin MacKade and Cassie Dolin. That's right, our Sheriif Devin had indeed has his heart set on her since she was a kid.



With the help of Jared MacKade, Cassie gets her divorce. Thanks for Rafe and Regan she gets the job and is happily settled in the inn. But she is still getting used to the freedom, the closeness with the MacKade family and also to the renewed friendship with Devin. But for Devin it is much harder now seeing her free and closer; wondering when he could be more than a friend to Cassie.

The book also brings out more about the legend surrounding the two soldiers - one from the Union and one from the Confederate Army. However, in this book, the sub-plot revolves around the soldier who lands at the Barlow House. The legend comes very close to what is going on with Cassie and Devin's life. Abigail Barlow the tragic mistress of house was in an unhappy marriage with the Yankee Barlow. And her heart was set on another person. What would have happened if she had made a decision then? Will Cassie make a decision now - similar to what Abigail made? Or listens to her heart? Will Devin sacrifice his heart again? Nora has successfully weaved the legend into the lives of MacKades and anyone who ties down with them.

Then there's Joe Dolin - the prick in the lives of MacKades and Cassie. Even though jailed he has been biding his time to get a chance to get out and take his revenge on everyone he deemed necessary starting with Cassie.

Finally we come to the point in the series where all the different pieces start to fall together and the puzzle is forming a complete picture. Nora Roberts at her best again with weaving an intricate plot. Her mastery at continuing the main plot along-side the sub-plot amazes me always. Another book that you definitely want to read not just to continue the series but to see how her characters mold. For those lazy nights, I recommend this book.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all the books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A good series mixed with legend, love, mystery and choices for those evenings when you need a break.

The Pride of Jared MacKade is the second book in the series The MacKade Brothers by Nora Roberts and published in December of 1995. The plot revolves around Jared MacKade and Savannah Morningstar - single mom for nine-year old Bryan.



The first book introduced the four brothers, paired Rafe with Regan. We also saw Cassie Dolin and her kids Emma and Connor. Towards the end of the book Cassie files for divorce against her abusive husband. The sub-plot continues in this book as well with. So does the legend about the ghosts of the two soldiers - one from the Union and one from the Confederate Army.

Jared MacKade had one job to do with Savannah Morningstar - hand-over the inheritance her father had left her. The meeting although ends with a lawerly argument, the attractions continues long after he leaves her home. His intrigue increases more so because he finds layers wrapped around her which makes him want to chip them. Savannah does come with complex layers - not a typical heroine that one would see. It was a bit tough to like her in the beginning as she comes off arrogant and proud. But as the story proceeds we get to see her past bit by bit and the puzzle keeps finishing. By the time the story ends you will fall in love with her as well.

An odd combination - Jared well settled lawyer and divorced, occasionally working with his brothers on their family farm; Savannah settled for now with a long and hard past and a nine-year old bullet-like son, Bryan - that one would keep expecting that their relationship would fail. For both are proud as ever. However, Nora Roberts charms us into following them and see them make it in the end.

Jared also represents Cassie Dolin in her divorce while her soon-to-be ex Joe Dolin is jailed for all of the harm he has caused Cassie and the kids. Rafe and Regan provide Cassie with the job of Chatelain to their inn along with an apartment for her and her kids on the top floor of the inn. Devin being the sheriff watches over her. Shane charms her kids into smiles and healthy fun. It was heart-warming to see all the brothers come together and stand with Cassie in her time of need. Regan and Savannah slid into the line easily enough giving their shoulder to Cassie as well. This sub-plot keeps you on the toes as much as the main plot.

Then there is the legend. As much as Jared feels that the woods behind their family farm were his, so does Savannah. And being part-Apache she also senses what had gone through there more than a century ago. The mystique surrounding the two soldiers, the Barlow House and senses that these characters feel in real-life is another layer that only wants you to just peel it all the way through.

My recommendation is that you continue the series and see how each of the brothers' life unfolds and how the legend ties into them. Look for my reviews on the remaining books in the series. Enjoy!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A good series mixed with legend, love, mystery and choices for those evenings when you need a break.

The Return of Rafe Mackade is the first in the quartet The Mackage Brothers written by Nora Roberts and published in April of 1995. This part begins with Rafe Mackade returning to Antietam, Maryland ten years after disappearing.



The four Mackade Brothers (Rafe, Jared, Devin and Shane) have always been wild yet hard-working helping out their mother in their family farm. And with their killing looks even as a teenagers gave them the edge. Their life includes brotherly fights amongst themselves and fist fights with the bully Joe Dolin - only when Joe is involved something wrong. Life goes on thus for the four brothers until one day Rafe decides to leave Antietam for good and never return back. Now after ten years Rafe is back , all cleaned up, polished, successful, rich and yet the same roughian look still alive just making him more dangerous.

He buys the Barlow House which is famed to be haunted in the intention of converting it into a bed and breakfast. Regan Jones moves to this small town to start new and her own antique business. Rafe's eye catches her and hires her for furnishing the Barlow House at the same time fanning that attraction. Regan originally thwarts the advances but eventually falls for him all the way through.

A parallel plot runs through the book involving Joe Dolin - the town bully - his wife Cassie Dolan and Sheriff Devin Mackade. From the day Cassie married Joe he had been a bully with never-ending abuse both physical and mental. Even after they have two kids it never ends. Regan advises Cassie after one such abusive day, Regan advises Cassie to leave Joe with his kids.

And finally there is the legend. Antietam is surrounded by a legend from civil war time involving a Confederate Soldier, a Union Soldier, The Barlow House and its residents at that time and the Mackade Farm and its residents at that time.

Nora Roberts has melded all the three well together - the main plot, sub-plot and the legend. You will also notice that the sub-plots and the legend continue to the remaining books in the series. I have not read many authors where there is a strong sub-plot too. These were written at the time that Nora Roberts had been a master with her words. That is why I love the earlier books of her than later ones. Characters are strong, plot is thick with mystery, legend and intrigue; and above all the strings joining them all together form a very intricate web that you want to explore every corner of it. Clearly this was written at a time technology was not as what it is today. I am not sure if the re-prints have changed the plot to have pieces of current era, but the charm of the time from my era as a young woman came to life in front of my eyes. That added to my love towards this book.

I however have to say that Regan was hard to warm up for me. She came off as a weak character in the beginning with weak reasons to be moving to Antietam. But once Cassie got involved and the way she blooms with strength and courage, that’s when I started loving her.

All in all a very good one to pick up and enjoy for those evenings you need a break from the rest of the world. Look for my reviews on the remaining books in the series. My recommendation is that you read all of them to get to know the people in it as well as the plot that keeps thickening from book to book. Enjoy!!

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