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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 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.

Lethal Black Dress is the tenth installment in the Crime of Fashion Mystery Series by Ellen Byerrum published in October of 2014. Lacey Smithsonian, the fashion reporter for The Eye Street Observer in Washington D.C., gets tangled with another fashion murder while  attending the fables White House Correspondent's Dinner - hosted by White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President of the United States. Ellen has not written another Crime of Fashion book since then - I wonder if this will be her last in the series, although hadnt seen any official notice of that kind anywhere.



A select few from The Eye Street were allowed to attend the Correspondent's Dinner every year and this year Lacey Smithsonian was among them. Although she did not come there to report on anything, as usual her mind and keen eye were looking for any fashion ups and downs, any loops and ties, in all the distinguished folks at the gala - including The President of United States. She was mildly disappointed that everyone including her reporter friends from The Eye who attended black, except her - she wore Blue. Her "Source Date" for the event was Detective Broadway Lamont. The gala seemed exciting and successful what with all the who's who from the higher class over there, yet there seemed an oppressive feeling that Lacey could not shake off.

In walks Lacey's nemesis Courtney Wallace - a TV news reporter for Channel One - who had recently started her video feature on "Vintage Through The Decades" was a direct steal from Smithsonian's Crime of Fashion and Fashion Bites columns. And despite her efforts to avoid, Lacey gets tangled in a battle of words with Courtney, much to her dismay. Add to that Lacey suspects that Courtney wore a dress that is an exact replicate of the gown worn in the famous "Madame X" portrait by John Singer Sargent in 1884. Her BFF and attorney Brooke Barton also attends the event along-side her boyfriend Damon Newhouse - owns the Conspiracy Clearinghouse blog on the web at Deadfed dot com - since Damon was also a member of WHCA.


Then the blooper of the evening happens - Courtney while racing after an actress for a scoop bumps into a waiter holding a tray filled with glasses of Champagne and all of it gets spilled on her making her wet from head to toe. But what is that strange smell again, something garlic-like that came off from Courtney, wondered Lacey and that musty aroma that reminded her of something. Much later at the event it clicks to her brain that the garlicky odor belongs to Paris Green - an inorganic compound that was used as a pigment in early nineteenth century but was banned decades ago when it was realized that when wet it can be dangerous. The following day Courtney Wallace is identified as dead from unknown reasons - although she had been taken to hospital the previous night when she had collapsed at the end of the party, everyone assumed she was exhausted or had a flu. Lacey's brain immediately tunes to Paris Green, the odor that she had smelt on the dress Courtney wore.

Was her dress really laced with Paris Green? Why would anyone use that dye in this era? What was the cause of her death? Who was gunning for Courtney - although she was not short of enemies in Washington D.C.? Was the scandal she had been involved in with regards to Thaddeus T. Granville - political operative, his candidate Senator Swansdown and the opposite candidate's wife that almost cost Courtney her career? Does Drake Rayburn, the lobbyist and Courtney's boyfriend, have anything to do with it? Where does he fit? Why was Gregor Kepelov - ex-KGB and fiancée to Marie Largesse who is a psychic with fainting spells - so interested in the dress? In all this hubbub Peter Johnson another reporter at The Eye is showing more animosity with Lacey than normal is - causing Lacey to wonder if he could be a suspect. Well, the line of suspect keeps growing and the work for Lacey is cut out.

Another interesting murder mystery involving fashion, style and legends. Ellen Byerrum did her best in this again although I did feel at time the text was too much as always. The other characters linger around in the plot woven to make it a thick quilt. Well written to keep you on the edge of entertainment. Signing off with another of Lacey's fashion bites.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites: Casual Friday - Let the Counterrevolution Begin!

So join the Casual Friday Counterrevolution this Friday, and dress up instead of dressing down. You'll be doing your part to turn this menace around. Together we can stop the conspiracy known as Casual Friday, one Friday at a time.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Ellen mentions about US government's clothing regulations during war-times - Regulation L - 85 - and peeked my interest to check it out. Very interesting that to balance outfits for soldiers during world war times, UK and US had regulations on women's clothing to save and use it for soldiers. Interesting that now women's clothing for fashion are barely there even though there is no world war around the corner. More on the regulation here.
2) Potrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent - I had to google to see what that was before I could understand it in the book. Seems to the portrait had brought bad luck both to the artiste and the model. Scandal primarily for the artiste being "was the strap of one shoulder dropped in the original and repainted after?" More here
3) Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman have since wore the replicas of this dress on two occasions. Check them out here
4) I envy Lacey of her Aunt Mimi's old steamer trunk that is full of memories, fashion memorabilia and long-forgotten dress patterns that had complete information but not yet been transformed. Lacey periodically takes one pattern at a time and converts into the dress per the pattern as she did in this book as well. I wish I had someone in my family that left that to me. Wouldn’t it be fun to wear Vintage designs with upgraded fabric and walk in style at any event?
5) Paris Green - Never heard of this pigment but makes me wonder how people made dyes in the centuries past. More about the pigment here
6) Lacey had accepted Vic's proposal finally and had gotten engaged in the previous book (Veiled Revenge). Now I am curious to see when they will get married and if a book will be written up - of course it would include murder. :P
7) As Lacey goes through the videos Courtney had made as part of her series, she talks about one look that reflects the movie His Girl Friday - a movie that was on my mind for quite sometime to watch. A post for another day.
8) Lacey's grandmother's quip about seventies fashion is very humorous and so to the mark - "The whole world was having a costume party and I wasn’t invited."
9) Ellen mentions about a vintage store in Baltimore that Lacey visits as part of her investigation. The store is called as Killer Stash in the book. However the store is Killer Trash in reality per google.
10) A sub-plot involving Harlan Wiedemeyer - The Eye's Death and Dismemberment Reporter - and Felicity Pickles - The Eye's Food Reporter - wedding plans continue thru the book.
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 this series: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe in magic, mystery, immortals and centuries old curses, this is a beautiful trilogy to get lost in then.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and single fathers who play the role of a mother. This year this beautiful day fell on May 8th. The third book in the Key Trilogy series is titled Key of Valor - which is what every mother has in her to cherish, nurture and protect. Nora Roberts has put all those in the heroine of this book which was published in December of 2003. I picked up this book for this day for my review.



The plot revolves around the quest of the third key by the third pair - Zoe McCourt - hairdresser and single mom who moved to Pleasant Valley, PA to start a new life -  and Bradley "Brad" Charles Vane IV - running the family empire, the chain of HomeMakers. Zoe's son Simon gets a lot of space too in this part.

Key Trilogy revolves around a mythical legend - about a God-King who lived behind the Curtain of Dreams and Curtain of Power in a land of great mountains and rich forests along with his mortal wife and three daughters (demi-goddesses) how him bringing a mortal woman behind the Curtain of Power broke the essential rule, causing restless in their world, how the evil sorcerer -god, Kane, took their souls were locked in a box leaving them in an eternal sleep. No key or no power could find it or unlock the box - except for three mortal women who would come together, find the keys and unlock the souls. Pitte and Rowena - the Guardian and the Teacher task them to find the keys. They each gets 28 days (one phase of the moon), a clue to follow and $25,000 for just trying the quest. Whether they succeed or fail they get to keep the money. But if they fail, one year of their life is taken away - which year would that be is unknown. And after the first finds the key, the second's time starts and so on. If all the keys are found in the end each would receive One million dollars.

Malory Price and Dana Steele have completed her quests, unlocked two souls from the box and also found their mates in Michael Flynn Hennessy - Dana's step brother and owns and runs the local newspaper, The Dispatch - and Jordan Hawke - local boy who went to become a famous writer. Now comes the final phase that Zoe has to pursue. Although Pitte and Rowena - the Guardian and the Teacher of the three demi-goddesses - assure that nothing would touch Simon, her fears are still persist. Despite that she sets on the quest with the help of her friends and Brad. In the process she loses her heart to Brad even though she knows the risks of it  - for she had been in the same situation a long time ago. But she is not young anymore. Will she protect her heart as strongly as she protects her son or open it up to take the risk? We know from the past two books that Brad is nothing like who she had met in the past. But will she accept him? Watching her go through the emotions and make decisions is very intriguing and heart-wrenching. The quest finds its finale here with Zoe and Brad working in tow, fighting the evil Kane and reaching their goal at the end.

Normally in any trilogy that Nora had written I usually prefer one pair over the other. However, in this I couldn’t pick one. Every pair was unique and interesting. As to this part, the chemistry between Brad and Zoe is obviously there. However, although Brad comes up as a strong protector and partner for Zoe, I couldn’t really see anything that connects Brad to Kane for Kane to get back at him. With Flynn and Jordan in the first two books, it made sense of the attacks that Kane did on them. But with Brad it felt very disconnected. Also Zoe appears ungrateful or stubborn at time which I can see how it makes sense being a single person myself but it was getting tiring. I wish her acceptance of Brad could have come a little sooner in the book.

Nora Roberts has mastered with her pen and imagination again. Just like all of her trilogies, the third part is usually the intense one with everything amplified - emotions, quests, fights and strategies. Who would have dreamed of such a mythical tale - although it may have some root somewhere in some religion or race. Again there are some longer chapters that don’t hurt the book but don’t add much either. Although Zoe looks thankless and unappreciative towards Brad despite his help, once you read her story we get to respect her further more and understand her apprehension of Brad's advances towards her. Its such an exhilarating feeling to see the three demi-goddesses freed and justice brought to the evil Kane even though you literally did not take part in it. That powerful language and imaginative plot is what I miss in Nora Roberts' latest books. However, I recommend you to pick this book and read it to enjoy as much as I enjoyed it.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Loved the name of the business the three (Malory, Dana and Zoe) plan to start together - Indulgence - a culmination of Art (an art gallery patronizing the local artistes), Knowledge (a book store with a tea room) and Beauty (Salon with full body services). It made me want to go to such a place immediately.
2) Pitte is indeed the Buck with eyes of sapphire blue that all three women see at the beginning of the quest - protecting and guiding them in his own way - although Zoe sees him / it after she is a little more into the quest.
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 this series: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe in magic, mystery, immortals and centuries old curses, this is a beautiful trilogy to get lost in then.

Key of Knowledge is the second book in the Key Trilogy written by Nora Roberts and published in November of 2003. The plot primarily revolves around the second pair, Dana Steele - local librarian and a fount of information - and Jordan Hawke - local boy turned famous writer and one-time boyfriend of Dana. The book continues the quest in finding the second key to unlock the souls of the demi-goddesses.



Key Trilogy revolves around a mythical legend - about a God-King who lived behind the Curtain of Dreams and Curtain of Power in a land of great mountains and rich forests along with his mortal wife and three daughters (demi-goddesses) how him bringing a mortal woman behind the Curtain of Power broke the essential rule, causing restless in their world, how the evil sorcerer -god, Kane, took their souls were locked in a box leaving them in an eternal sleep. No key or no power could find it or unlock the box - except for three mortal women who would come together, find the keys and unlock the souls. Pitte and Rowena - the Guardian and the Teacher task them to find the keys. They each gets 28 days (one phase of the moon), a clue to follow and $25,000 for just trying the quest. Whether they succeed or fail they get to keep the money. But if they fail, one year of their life is taken away - which year would that be is unknown. And after the first finds the key, the second's time starts and so on. If all the keys are found in the end each would receive One million dollars.

Malory Price completed her quest seeking honor, truth and courage and by finding the Key of Light. She also found a mate in Michael Flynn Hennessy - Dana's step brother and owns and runs the local newspaper, The Dispatch. Now it is the turn for Dana to find the key. Her clue ties up with past, present and future; the choices she made / makes; and unearth the truth from the lies.  She of course has the help of her friends, Malory, Flynn, Zoe - hairdresser and single mom who moved to Pleasant Valley, PA to start a new life, Jordan and Bradley "Brad" Charles Vane IV - running the family empire, the chain of HomeMakers. But the quest for Dana involves more than just solving it. She has to work out her past with Jordan - even if it means she has to get punched in her heart all over again.

Nora Roberts has mastered with her pen and imagination again. Who would have dreamed of such a mythical tale - although it may have some root somewhere in some religion or race. The whole plot was so real for me that I almost imagined the paintings to be live, the characters to be real as well. Powerful writing, strong characters, willed opponent and equally beautiful web running thru all of them. I have to say though, there is a lot of literature in between that could have cut down a bit, but that didn’t the hurt the book much. I recommend you to pick this book and read it to enjoy as much as I enjoyed it.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Rowena and Pitte are shown as the Teacher and Guardian of the demi-goddesses who are now asleep for eternity - Story commonly called as the Daughters of Glass.
2) Dana and Jordan also come across the stunning buck with sapphire blue eyes that remind one of Pitte's blue eyes.
3) Loved the name of the business the three (Malory, Dana and Zoe) plan to start together - Indulgence - a culmination of Art (an art gallery patronizing the local artistes), Knowledge (a book store with a tea room) and Beauty (Salon with full body services). It made me want to go to such a place immediately.
4) In one of the scene Nora Roberts mentions a young boy reading a copy of Where the Wild Things Are in this book. And the movie released based on the book the kid was reading 6 years later.
5) Nora Roberts had previously used a similar concept in one of her series - Three Sisters Island Trilogy (Go here for my review of the books) - where the boy left the girl, and her best friend (another girl) also left her. In this case the boy left the girl and his best friend who is a boy. With so many books one writes it is perhaps bound to have some of the concepts cross-over.
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 this series: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: If you believe in magic, mystery, immortals and centuries old curses, this is a beautiful trilogy to get lost in then.

Key of Light is the first in the Key Trilogy written by Nora Roberts and published in October of 2003. The plot primarily revolves around Malory Price - manager The Gallery and also has a keen eye for beauty - and Michael "Flynn" Hennessy - owns and runs the local newspaper - yet brings in the other four players along with the quest for the key.



Key Trilogy revolves around a mythical story of three demi-goddesses whose souls are trapped in a glass box. The only way the box can be opened is by three keys found by three strong and independent women - each with their inner strength of light, knowledge and valor. The book follows the typical Nora Roberts formula where the first part - introduces all the characters and a quest for them to work on while highlighting one pair - second part - the quest is analyzed and prepared for while highlighting the second pair - and third part - the showdown of the quest typically facing the enemy while highlighting the last pair. What is different in this series from the formula is that each woman has her own quest, has to analyze and prepare and also a showdown with the enemy albeit using the help of the remaining five. That perhaps sets this series apart from other Nora's books.

Malory Price, Dana Steele - local librarian and a fount of information - and Zoe McCourt - hairdresser and single mom who moved to Pleasant Valley, PA to start a new life - are sent invitations to Warrior Peak, a castle like estate outside of the town. Everyone gets the same message in the invite:

The pleasure of your company is desired for cocktails and conversation. Eight P.M., September 4. Warrior's Peak. You are the key. The lock awaits.

Little did they know this would be most adventurous and at the same time a bit scary cocktail when they accepted the invites. Wondering why the three different women from different lifestyle and careers had anything in common that they were invited in the first place - other than that they all live in the Valley below, are between 26 - 28 years old and are in a tight spot in their careers. The hosts Liam Pitte and Rowena O'Meara give them a mythical legend - about a God-King who lived behind the Curtain of Dreams and Curtain of Power in a land of great mountains and rich forests, who fell in love with a mortal, his parents allowed the mortal woman to be married to him and brought her behind the Curtain of Power into their world thus breaking the essential rule, causing restless in their world, the God-King and his wife bore three demi-goddesses with mortal soul, given three jeweled amulets, growing up to fine young women and how their souls were locked in a box by one evil demi-god who coveted what they had and he couldn't have leaving them in an eternal sleep. No key or no power could find it or unlock the box - except for three mortal women who would come together, find the keys and unlock the souls

Pitte and Rowena just told them that they were the three women and that they are tasked to find the key, but it is not free of course. They each gets 28 days (one phase of the moon), a clue to follow and $25,000 for just trying the quest. If they succeed or fail they get to keep the money. But if they fail, one year of their life is taken away - which year would that be is unknown. And after the first finds the key, the second's time starts and so on. If all the keys are found in the end each would receive One million dollars.


The first quest picked is by Malory and her quest is to seek honor, truth and courage and find the key of light. Signing the contracts and accepting the money all three women dazed and confused go on their despite their apprehensions. And the quest begins. She has the help of the clue and her newly found friends - Dana and Zoe. Apart from them the three handsome males also come to their help in their own way - even though the women initially don’t like them - Flynn Hennessy (Dana's step-brother), Jordan Hawkes (famed writer and one-time boyfriend of Dana) and Bradley "Brad" Charles Vane IV (running the family empire, the chain of HomeMakers) - all three being friends since kids. Warrior Peak has special place for all the men characters involved in the plot too, one way or the other inserting itself in their lives.

The quest continues where Malory with aid of her friends, unravels the clues, faces the evil that had been haunting the three demi-goddesses and eventually gets the key. And brings in all the six together at one place in the end. At the same time she tries to solve the puzzle called Flynn who although looks affable is anything but. She also figures out her professional challenges by binding with her two new friends to open new doors.


Nora Roberts has mastered with her pen and imagination again. Who would have dreamed of such a mythical tale - although it may have some root somewhere in some religion or race. The whole plot was so real for me that I almost imagined the paintings to be live, the characters to be real as well. Powerful writing, strong characters, willed opponent and equally beautiful web running thru all of them. I have to say though, there is a lot of literature in between that could have cut down a bit, but that didn’t the hurt the book much. I recommend you to pick this book and read it to enjoy as much as I enjoyed it.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) When Malory drives up the Warrior Peak to the castle she comes across a stunning buck with sapphire blue eyes. A sign that clearly gives us a guess that Malory would be the first one to go on the quest.
2) Pitte's blue eyes certainly reminds you of the buck that Malory saw on her first night at Warrior's Peak.
3) Rowena and Pitte are shown as the Teacher and Guardian of the demi-goddesses who are now asleep for eternity - Story commonly called as the Daughters of Glass.
4) Just knowing each other for three weeks, Malory and Flynn decide to marry. It may not be an American concept but for Indians who get married through Arranged Marriage process, most of the time the girl and guy don’t get to talk to each other until their wedding is completed. So it was not so much surprising for me as opposed to a few of my non-Indian friends who found this concept not to their liking and refused to continue to read the series. Pity, they missed the best series.
5) Loved the name of the business the three (Malory, Dana and Zoe) plan to start together - Indulgence - a culmination of Art (an art gallery patronizing the local artistes), Knowledge (a book store with a tea room) and Beauty (Salon with full body services). It made me want to go to such a place immediately.
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 comedy to pull out those drab moments in your life for a few hours and forget the world around you.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! I have been thinking of watching a movie that would resonate with the festival feeling. And finally settled with this movie. Although I wish the white filter was removed in this version on Youtube. ¡Three Amigos! is a 1986 American Western comedy movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. A musical comedy with score composed by Elmer Bernstein and songs written by Randy Newman.



“Wherever there is injustice, you will find us. Wherever there is suffering, we’ll be there. Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find… the Three Amigos!”

The movie is set in 1916 at a time when a bandit named El Guapo and his gang are looting a small Mexican village of Santo Poco. The village leader's daughter, Carmen (portrayed by Patrice Martinez), along with Rodrigo search out in the neighboring villages for someone who can help them where they watch a silent movie featuring "The Three Amigos". Mistaking them to be real heroes Carmen sends a telegram to Hollywood requesting for their help along with a substantial amount as a payment.



However, the three amigos, Lucky Day (portrayed by Steve Martin), Dusty Bottoms (portrayed by Chevy Chase) and Ned Nederlander (portrayed by Martin Short) also face financial problems when their boss Harry Flugleman (Joe Mantegna) fires them. When they receive Carmen's letter - which has been shortened by the telegraph operator as Carmen couldn’t pay the entire money for the whole message - they assume it’s a show and since its paying handsomely they set on to go to Santa Poco, but not before they retrieve their costumes from the studio by stealing. The plot continues the journey of Three Amigos to Santa Poco, Mexico, how they confuse others and get confused of their role, find their real identities and finally how they tackle the El Guapo.

Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase once again show their great acting capabilities in this movie even though it wasn’t as funny as it supposed to be. However, it does have some timing in comedy that is really awesome. There are some really good songs in the movie. Their "My Little Buttercup" takes the cake but I loved this one titled "Blue Shadows On The Trail" - very soft and lovely with a tinge of humor by adding the animals around them.



It is one of those movies that you want to hang out with your friends on a rainy day and watching while munching on snacks. Go ahead and have fun despite the mindless moments in there. Enjoy!!!

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Joe Mantegna as Harry Flugleman - boss of the Three Amigos - is surprisingly funny. I see him as FBI Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi in the television series Criminal Minds he has a more serious persona. This was very refreshing to watch.



2) The Singing Bush is indeed a real bush that keeps on singing. A must element for a comedy I suppose. :





3) And the Invisible Swordsman simply is icing on the cake called "humor". :P (Note the trace behind Chevy Chase in this pic, that is the Invisible Swordsman.) :)

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: A spy thriller that puts you back to Harrison Ford and likes era yet keeping in the current time.

I love the Jack Ryan series of movies that Harrison Ford had played as Jack in. But I hadnt seen the one that Alec Baldwin was portrayed as Jack (The Hunt for Red October in 1990) and little more recent one that Ben Affleck portrayed as (The Sum of All Fears in 2002). And yet another one had been made in 2014 titled Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. All the previous movies were based on Tom Clancy's books but this movie was its own plot. Chris Pine portrayed as Jack Ryan in this fifth installment. The movie not being made from a Clancy book I had hesitated to watch it in theater. But later watched on TV. Here is my take on the film.



Jack Ryan (portrayed by Chris Pine) after witnessing the 9/11 attacks discontinues his studies at London School of Economics and joins the U. S. Marines. He becomes a Second Lieutenant and while fighting in Afghanistan injures his spine. While undergoing therapy and recovery he warrants attention of a medical student, Cathy Muller (portrayed by Kiera Knightley) and a CIA official Thomas Harper (portrayed by Kevin Costner) who recruits him. Ten years later Jack is engaged to Cathy and works as a covert CIA operative at Wall Street. His job is to look for suspicious transactions that might lead to terrorist activities. He stumbles upon a conspiracy involving Viktor Cherevin (portrayed by Kenneth Branagh), a Russian tycoon. Jack goes to Moscow investigate further. The rest of the movie surrounds on how Jack uncovers a plot to collapse the U.S. Dollar and cause crash in U. S. Economy.



Even though it is hard for me to believe someone so intelligent that he could look at patterns at a very high rate of speed (perhaps there are such people in these powerful organizations like FBI, CIA, etc.), yet it is a well-made movie similar to Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan movies. Interesting plot and surprising twists with good performances through and through by all actors. The movie shows Jack Ryan as a young CIA recruit as opposed to Clancy's books where he is already in CIA and also becomes US President in later books. Since this plot was written in a parallel universe the I suppose the story line can change accordingly. Chris Pine definitely fit the part of Jack Ryan. But I wasn’t particularly impressed with Kiera Knightley's performance. I would have loved to see the next generation Jack Ryan movies similar to Clancy books, but this wasn’t that bad either. Seeing Jack with the current technology is thrilling as well.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) The director for this movie was Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh. I had admired him so much for his role as Kurt Wallander in Wallander - a British TV series adapted from the Swedish novelist Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels. I have a post coming up about that too..keep watching this space.
2) Kevin Costner is one of those few actors that I would watch any movie that he is put in - even if it bombed at box office. His presence commands everyone.
3) In one of the scene Jack is seen meeting his informant in a movie theater that was playing 1948 American suspense thriller Sorry Wrong Number. I found another movie for my posts. :P

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

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A healthy rivalry in-person turns to a beautiful romance through a few words on paper even though you know the person well only though those few words.

When I was writing the review for the 1998 American film You've Got Mail (My review here.), I came across one tidbit that although this was a remake of the 1937 play "Illatszertár" (in English, titled "Parfumerie") by the Hungarian writer Miklós László, the first film adaptation was this 1940 American romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner.  I had promised in that post that I would be doing a review of this 1940 movie as well. So, here it is. Don’t miss watching the trailer below, it is really really cute.



Check out the opening scene of the movie with a write-up like in a book.



Alfred Kralik (portrayed by James Stewart) is the top salesman at a leather goods shop Matuschek amd Company, in Budapest owned by the high-strung Mr. Hugo Matuschek (portrayed by Frank Morgan). Klara Novak (portrayed by Margaret Sullivan) comes into the shop looking for a job and ends up selling a cigarette box - the very one that Alfred was against having it in the shop and causing conflict between Alfred and Matuschek - that prompts Matuschek to hire Klara. Eventually Krala slowly increases her sales and becomes a strong threat for Alfred's position as a top salesman resulting in them becoming rivals at work.



Little do they know that they both have been corresponding via letters as pen pals and have actually fallen for each other. Finally they plan to meet - Klara will be at Café Nizza with a red carnation and Tolstoy's book Anna Karenina while Alfred will be there with a blue carnation. However when he reaches there he finds Klara to be his mysterious friend. And the story continues in the very similar plot as You've Got Mail - where Alfred disrupts Klara's appointment as Alfred rather than mysterious friend, then develops friendship and finally reveals to her who he really was. A sub-plot with regards to Matuschek follows along that slides seemlessly with the main plot.

I have loved this movie as much as I have loved the Tom Hanks - Meg Ryan movie. It's so lovely to see that You've Got Mail has used so many scenes that are exact copy to this movie certainly making that movie a homage to this movie. The whole movie has been done in two sets and that is incredible. Simple characters, straight plot and yet capturing you to the core. It's rarely available online to watch free so if you get a chance don’t miss it and enjoy how two lovely people turn from rival to friends to mates.





Spoiler Alerts:

1) Interestingly enough the name of the book store that Kathleen Kelly owns, in You've Got Mail movie is named "The Shop Around the Corner" - as a homage to this predecessor movie.
2) According to Wiki: The Shop Around the Corner is ranked #28 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions, and is listed in Time's All-Time 100 Movies.[4] In 1999, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
3) Notice that every time Matuschek asks for anyone's opinion on any item stressing specially "I want your opnion. Your honest opinion. That's all I want", his friend Pirovitch (portrayed by Felix Bressart) - a kindly family man - always escapes from the scene. Very funny!!
4) This is the third movie of James Stewart that I have watched and reviewed on - Rear Window (Link for my review here), The Philadelphia Story (Link for my review here).
5) In the opening credits, Miklós László is written as Nikolaus Laszlo.

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: Despite the rating, it's an easy movie and worth watching to feel the pull of those childhood memories that you might have forgotten.

May 2nd marked 85 years of the books Nancy Drew Mysteries. She had first appeared in The Secret of the Old Clock published in 1930 under the open name of Carolyn Keene - a varied number of authors contributed to the series under this pen name. Although she was first created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. In the original series she is a 16 years old girl, so If she was a real person she would be 96 years old. As the years changed the stories and the characters were built around the change in culture and tastes of people. In recent books the technology has also been added to suit the 21st century lifestyle.

I grew up reading these books and had spent a lot of my pocket money on them as a kid. But had never seen any movies based off the books until I came to U.S. The first movie I had seen was the 2002 movie simply titled Nancy Drew and was portrayed by Maggie Lawson. Although a weak plot with weaker characters, the movie was ok to watch. But later I found an entire TV series titled Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries on Netflix but were originally aired from 1977 to 1979 on ABC. It was an interesting series - with cross-overs between both mystery series characters which I was not much fan of but the series was good enough. Then I found four movies on Youtube by Warner Brothers in 1938 and 1939 in which Bonita Granville portrayed as Nancy Drew. Here is review of one of the four movies by Warner Brothers.



Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase was the second book originally published in 1930 but the movie was made in 1939 by Warner Brothers. The plot revolves around Trumbull Sisters and of course Nancy Drew. The Trumbull Sisters are ready to donate their mansion to a children's hospital. But the only caveat is they had two more weeks to live under the roof according to their father's will before the deed happens. However strange things start happening - a robbery of miscellaneous items like stamps, hair clips, etc. and then the Trumbull's chauffeur Phillips is found dead. Police considers it as a suicide but Nancy is convinced that it is a murder and starts her own investigation. The story continues in how Nancy unravels the mystery.

Although it was a good attempt I was disappointed by the way Nancy Drew was portrayed. She was shown as frazzled, with a high pitched voice and a lot less braver than what I had imagined of her when I read the books. Would have loved to see her more poised as well. Also the plot of the movie was a lot different than the book. They even changed the name of her boyfriend Ned to Ted. Despite the differences and downs it still is a decent movie for those lazy days.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Check out how the ice is being delivered in this vintage episode.



2) And the camera - oh so ancient that I only see in old movies now. Interesting how much technology changed in 77 years.

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

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: For those laughs you can find in marriage, romance and love this is one movie that pulls no stops and yet bring you back to ground.

I came across this movie first time when I was reading the 2013 book Veiled Revenge (Ninth installment in the Crime of Fashion Mystery series) by Ellen Byerrum (My review of the book is here. In one scene Lacey's friend Miguel comments "Let me look at you, darling. My, we're very Philadelphia Story today, aren't we?" to her late-1930s garden party dress. The dress was a pale yellow voile over a cream-colored slip. The original belt was long gone, but she had substituted a green ribbon at the waist. The style was all in the details - the covered buttons, the lace cuffs, and the small decorative lace pockets high on the bust.

All that description made me wonder what this movie Philadelphia Story was about and so I ended up watching it, exactly how I had promised earlier in my review of the book, Veiled Revenge. Here is my take on this funny movie - The Philadelphia Story.



The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic-comedy movie that has been now selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1995. A charming romantic comedy having a quadrangle love plot between C. K. Dexter Haven (portrayed by Cary Grant), Tracy Samantha Lord (portrayed by Katherine Hepburn), George Kittredge (portrayed by John Howard) and Macaulay "Mike" Connor (portrayed by James Stewart).



Tracy - wealthy Main Line Philadelphia socialite - and Dexter - her childhood friend and sweetheart - get divorced as Dexter doesn't meet upto her standards. Two years later Tracy gets ready to be married to George Kittredge - one of the most eligible bachelors. However Dexter is enlisted to cover the wedding by his ex-boss Sydney Kidd - a publisher for gossip magazine Spy.



Aiding Dexter are Mike Connor - Reporter for Spy - and Liz Imbrie - a photographer who he plants in the house as Tracy's brother's friends.



Reluctantly Tracy accepts them to stay in the house and cover the wedding as she did not want her father's affairs to be publicized. And thus begins the comedy of love, marriage and romance - where Dexter is trying to win Tracy back, while Tracy is more than marginally attracted to Mike, confused even though she is all set to marry George and George being rocked with his mixed feelings as well.





The time when movies about romance, marriage and remarriage were famous, this comes out with an old port but in a new bottle. Even though big names like Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart and Cary Grant are on the screen, John Howard kept his own very well leaving for himself a mark to remember by. Three men vying for one woman being the central plot doesn’t get any harm with the sub-plots that are weaved in. Katherine Hepburn has really beautiful outfits - be it flowing dresses or business like skirts or even a swimsuit.









She looks the part. Virginia Weidler portraying the role of Dinah Lord, sister to Tracy was absolutely delightful to watch.

Who will win whom at the end is something one have to watch this rollercoaster ride and find for yourself. It's worth the time. Its on youtube so go ahead and click that link to have a fun comedy of marriage.
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: Looking for a thriller with twist that churn your brain? Then, this is the one.

Kshanam ( = Moment / Second) is a 2016 Telugu Crime Thriller. Every second matters and every moment counts - shown very effectively in this bone-chilling thriller. A voicemail from a long-forgotten ex-girlfriend turns one man's life upside down in a matter of moments.



Rishi (portrayed by Adivi Sesh) is a workaholic living in San Francisco, USA and staying as far away as possible from relationships. One day he gets a voice message from him ex-girlfriend Shweta whom he had wanted to forget for a long time. Her plea for help makes him quit everything he was doing at that moment and goes to India. When he meets her, he comes to know that she had a daughter named Riya who was kidnapped her after attacking Shweta and injuring her. Shweta comes out of the hospital only to realize that there is no trace of Riya and no one seems to remember her or know her driving Shweta crazy. The only person she could think of who could help her was Rishi. Now Rishi sets upon investigating what happened the day the incident happened. Initially everything seems to be exactly how the police, the school supposedly that Riya was attending, friends, neighbors and everyone say. But is it so?

Rishi delving into it further leads him to surprising bends and new clues. So, is Shweta crazy or speaking the truth? Is Rishi blinded by the past they have had together? Where is Riya? Who was behind the attack that happened on Shweta? What is Shweta's husband hiding? Story plot well-taken spinning at every corner into a new maze. Screenplay by Adivi Sesh who also played the lead role is impeccable. In some scenes one does feel the chill in your spinal cord and hairs rise all over. Its been too long that Telugu film world produced a very good thriller. Do watch it if you get a chance.

Spoiler Alerts:
1. I couldn’t recognize the lead actor Adivi Sesh until I saw his profile in Wiki. Its amazing that he was the same psycho Munna in the 2011 Telugu thriller Panjaa ( = Claw / Paw).
2. Anasuya Bharadwaj is a host for various TV shows and Audio releases for movies. Cant imagine the same chirpy girl is the very serious ACP Jaya Bharadwaj with a mean streak.
3. Satyam Rajesh (portraying as Inspector Ravi Chowdary finally gets a role that shows him with more meat than just comedy.
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: If you like movies based on heist and also magic, then this is the perfect movie with a balance of both.

Now You See Me is a hit 2013 American heist thriller movie involving heist, magic and thrill. After watching Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice I was curious to see what other movies did Jesse Eisenberg - portrayed as Lex Luthor in the Batman Vs Superman 2016 movie - had been in. His fast paced speech almost bordering on stuttering with the crazy look made me think he must have been more in the anti-hero roles. Indeed he had been in many thrillers but what surprised me was his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 hit American film The Social Network - although I hadnt watched that movie either. I zeroed in on this movie after I heard about its sequel being made (which is now released already - I am way behind in my posts. **Sigh**) and also that the 2013 hit Hindi thriller Dhoom 3 ( = Blast 3) is loosely based on this film. Dhoom 3 released 7 months after Now You See Me released. So, finally I watch it and here is my take on the movie.



J. Daniel Atlas: What is magic? Magic is deception, but deception designed to delight, to entertain, to inspire. It is about belief. Faith.
Henley Reeves: Trust.

Thaddeus Bradley: When a magician waves his hand and says, "This is where the magic is happening." The real trick is happening somewhere else. Misdirection.


One day, four amateur magicians, J. Daniel "Danny" Atlas (portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg) - arrogant illusionist and street magician, Merritt McKinney (portrayed by Woody Harrelson) - a hypnotist and a mentalist), Henley Reeves (portrayed by Isla Fisher) - a stage magician, and Jack Wilder (portrayed by Dave Franco) - another street magician and impressionist of other people's voices  - receive each a Tarot Card with an address in New York City and time to meet. Danny is given The Lover tarot card, Merritt gets The Hermit, Isla gets The High Priestess and Dave gets The Death.



A year later all four of them perform their first major performance as The Four Horsemen at Las Vegas funded by Arthur Tressler (portrayed by Sir Michael Caine). In this show they magically transport an audience member to the vault of the bank he uses, the Crédit Républicain in Paris and in front of everyone's eyes gets the money drawn from the vault and into the arena where the show is being performed and shower it on the audience. And the vault in Paris is shown empty with two items left there - ticket stub of the audience member from that night's show and a 2 of Hearts card with the signature of the audience member.





FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo) and a French Interpol agent Alma Dray (portrayed by Mélanie Laurent) are assigned to hunt and capture The Four Horsemen. FBI and Interpol believes that they are not magicians but plain con-men who have use illusion to perform an elaborate heist. They are assisted by Agent Fuller (portrayed by Michael Kelly) and Thaddeus Bradley (portrayed by Morgan Freeman) - a former magician himself but now unravels the tricks humiliating the magicians in the process. The hunt begins where FBI is on the heels of these magicians while they continue their performances, conducting heists and being more than a step ahead of FBI.



A very nail-biting movie that keeps you on the edge till the end. Combination of illusion, magic and heist with the added element of revenge. With so many unanticipated twists and sudden turns the movie keeps you well engaged. Excellent CGI and Cinematography. When we think that one is the avant-grade of the four horsemen someone else turns out. Who is the fifth horsemen who is running this elaborate show? Why don’t they keep the money they rob? What is the benefit of giving it away? The thought runs through your head all the while and capturing you to the screen. Another heist movie that goes into my collection of DVDs. Its on Youtube so go ahead and click that link to have a fun 2 and half hours.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Big Names In the movie are seen - Morgan Freeman and Sir Michael Caine - although rest are up and coming actors and have marked a small star beside these big stars.
2. Alma Dray: Supposedly if you buy into it, The Eye are the keepers of real magic and protectors of those who practice it.
3. The end credits have a break in between with a small scene of the four horsemen. Perhaps it would be a continuation into the sequel. Since I have not watched the second part I only have to guess.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick murder mystery pick it up and you will enjoy it.

Killer In The Kitchen is the 43rd installment in the series that Donald Bain had written based off of the Universal Television Series Murder, She Wrote and was published in April of 2015. The plot is set in our very own Cabot Cove, where Jessica Fletcher resides. And of course there would be a murder. :)



Jessica Fletcher's good friend Isabel Fowler's son Bradley Fowler and his wife Marcie Fowler are opening up a new seafood restaurant called Fin and Claw in Cabot Cove by the docks. Despite the rough and short-tempered nature of Brad, they manage to complete the construction and open the restaurant as planned - although Isabel ends up taking a personal loan and also remortgage her home for helping Brad and Marcie financially. Now Gerard Leboeuf, famed French Chef with a suite of restaurants under his banner, also decides to open a French Bistro right opposite to where Fin and Claw is opening.

Tensions rise between Leboeuf and the Fowlers when Leboeuf tries to capture the market and gradually close doors for Fowlers. Despite that the Fowlers have their grand opening and Gerard Leboeuf comes with an entourage to the restaurant - his wife Eva, his son Wylie, manager of his new restaurants Chef Walter Chang, and two other folks who looked like bodyguards. Leboeuf and his entourage were not particularly nice to the Fowlers or their staff or the food that was served - infact they were quite loud with their unwise and wrong comments as well as obnoxious. And one such comment hurts Isabel so much that she suffers a stroke and loses her life that night. Brad's animosity and vehemence increases further more.

A week after the Fowlers had their restaurant open, Leboeuf opened his restaurant with taking up everyone's tab for that night. The event was in much more extravagant way than what the Fowlers did. Leboeuf didn’t pull any stops to make his event grander than anything every happened in Cabot Cove. All was thought it ended well until Jessica receives an early morning call that Gerard Leboeuf is murdered with a knife in his chest in his new kitchen at the French Bistro. Sheriff Mort Metzger and his deputies take over the scene immediately. However by afternoon two detectives - Detective Clifford Mason and Detective Anne Lucas - from the Major Crimes Unit from the Attorney General's Homicide Unit also get involved in the investigation, considering the high-profile that Gerard Leboeuf warranted. And their investigation is zoning in on the obvious suspect - Brad Fowler - just because of the animosity between them and the vehemence that Brad had publicly shown towards Leboeuf.

But Jessica doesn’t believe that despite the volcanic temper of Brad, he could never be a killer. And to help the spirit of Isabel Fowler calm down, she inserts herself into the investigation - much to the chagrin of Mort and the Detectives. She has her own set of questions that she is looking to get answers which will perhaps put the spot light on others who have a better motive than Brad Fowler. As always her investigation leads into the dark past of Leboeuf, his ties with drugs and underground and other unsavory stuff that eventually gets the real killer out.

A medium complex plot that did keep you interested enough to continue. More than often the books in this series, I could guess on who the killer would be, but in this case I couldn’t point till the last minute - well when Jessica was about to reveal. That in itself intrigues me in a book. However the story is written in the form of three parts although the story flew thru the parts seamlessly. Didn’t understand why the story was put in the form of three parts - perhaps to divide it into Murder, Investigation and Result. However, I wonder what was the author's thought. I remember reading a few books of other authors who had a similar tendency for some of their books. Some books made sense and some didn’t just like this one

All in all another cozy mystery - easy on the brain and simple at heart. Pick it up for that smooth ride you want in a 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 books in the Guild Hunter series: Go here.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, archangels, angels and humans. However the story becomes predictable in this installment as it moves.

Archangel's Storm is the fifth installment in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh and was published in September of 2012. The plot revolves around Jason - one of The Seven to Archangel Raphael, best spymaster and about 700 years old - and Princess Mahiya - Archangel of India Neha's niece and ward. Most of the story also takes place in India in the Archangel Fort - Neha's fort.



The stories in this series are set in a world where it is ruled by Archangels with Vampires, Angels and Humans with extra-ordinary powers as their team serving them. The Cadre that is the council of Archangels seats 10 powerful archangels who share the world in ten different continents and rule them, hold sway over the immortals and mortals alike. Archangels are immortals who have lived thousands and thousands of centuries. Angels are born or made but have lived centuries. Vampires are almost-immortals and are Made mostly and some have lived as long as the Archangels. They serve the Archangels and have contracts with their angelic masters that they have to live by. They use humans as cattle for feeding on blood. Guild Hunters are humans with special powers who are tasked to capture Vampires who have gone rogue. They have psychic and physical powers which are extra-ordinaire. The plots primarily revolve around Archangel Raphael, his consort, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

Archangel Neha's consort Eris is murdered and Neha is mad with rage, grief and vengeance.  Neha being not only an Archangel but also the Queen of Snakes and also Queen of Poisons, Raphael worries what she might do in her rage. He didn’t want her become another Uram - Archangel of Russia who had gone on a killing rampage following his lover Archangel Michaela -  especially as this is happening on the heels of her daughter Anoushka executed - by Raphael and Elena. Raphael offers his spy master Jason as help to Neha in uncovering the murderer. But Neha insists that he bound by a blood vow to her niece Princess Mahiya. To avoid another rampage Jason agrees to the blood vow with conditions of his own and enters into the fort of Neha.

Princess Mahiya is a 300 years old angel, illegitimate daughter of Eris - consort to Neha - and Nivriti - twin sister to Neha. Neha had never forgiven Eris or Nivriti for the betrayal. She had chained Nivrti somewhere and after giving birth to Mahiya she had killed Nivriti. As for Eris she had put him under captive and tortured him in as many ways as she could at the same time keeping him alive and in health. She also took out her anger on Princess Mahiya once she had become and adult in angel-terms and returned to the Archangel Fort - beaten , humiliated, spanked, slapped, and to extent of crushing her heart as much she could. Mahiya survived all that with her faith that one day she would escape and be free. And now she is bound to Jason - an angel of shadows and darkness - through blood vow. Perhaps he would be her door or window of escape if she played her cards right while she is tied to him for the period of the investigation.

Jason with help of Mahiya investigate the murder of Eris and find enough clues that point to Neha herself. But then three more murders occur - first Audrey, a Vampire who was bedding Eris prior to his death; second Shabnam, who was the longest-serving ladies-in-waiting for Neha and finally of Arav who had played with her heart and broken her like a toy. These change his course of investigation and also forces Neha to give him complete access and full reign of her courtiers and confidantes that goes beyond the blood vow. Who has started this killing rampage? Was Neha the ultimate target? Why kill Eris after so long a time? Is Archangel of China, Lijuan, have a part in these killings? Has her power risen or new abilities seen since Caliane has risen? Was Neha playing a game with Jason and Raphael by committing these murders herself? While Jason unraveled this mystery his heart without his knowledge bent on unraveling the mystery called Princess Mahiya. And well, Mahiya herself couldn’t keep herself from falling for his charm. Will they both understand each other and find themselves in the end?

Nalini Singh has well spun again her web around the Archangels, Angels and Vampires. However although the characterization of Jason and Mahiya has been powerful and impacting, the plot in itself was weak. It made me wonder if Nalini Singh had written this book just so she could find a mate for Jason. As the story progressed, it was clear as to who had been doing the killings and who they were going after. I didn’t need to read the end but had to so I could confirm my guess. I would have loved a few more twist and sudden turns. Despite that I still recommend you to read this book just to understand Jason and Mahiya more and enjoy their life.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. A sub-plot involving Dmitri - second-in command to Raphael and a 1000 year old vampire - and Honor St. Nicholas - A Guild Hunter and mate to Raphael, was his wife Ingrede in her past birth before Dmitri was Made a Vampire - continues in the book. It covers showing Honor being converted to a Vampire with help of Dmitri.
2. A sub-plot involving Ashwini Taj - a Guild Hunter - and Janvier - smooth talking Cajun Vampire of 245 years old and works closely with Ashwini - continues who have been constantly playing the game of love without falling for each other. Yet!
3. Book also follows Caliane - Ancient Archangel once ruled Sumeria - who is settling somewhere in the wilderness of Japan with her city Amanat after waking from her Sleep
4. Caliane's rise has caused not only chaos in weather but influence the power change amongst the Cadre. It is also rumored that the Archangels have been showing newer abilities and no one knows the extent of them or what harm it would do to them as well as the World.
5. I am curious to see how Nalini Singh will evolve Mahiya since she left with an open-ended statement that no body knows how much powers are enhanced.
6. I am also curious to see what are the new powers all the Archangels acquiring as a result of the Ancient rising from here sleep.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books in the Guild Hunter series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, archangels, angels and humans.

Angel's Blade is the fourth installment in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh published in September of 2011. The story plot revolves around Dmitri - a 1000 years old Vampire and Second-in command to Raphael - and Honor St. Nicholas - a Hunter of the Guild who was tortured by rogue vampires and a Guild Instructor. This book wrenched me heart for the pain that Dimitri goes thru all those 1000 years ago and what Honor goes thru now but then it lifted my spirits when they come out shining and totally in love.



The stories in this series are set in a world where it is ruled by Archangels with Vampires, Angels and Humans with extra-ordinary powers as their team serving them. The Cadre that is the council of Archangels seats 10 powerful archangels who share the world in ten different continents and rule them, hold sway over the immortals and mortals alike. Archangels are immortals who have lived thousands and thousands of centuries. Angels are born or made but have lived centuries. Vampires are almost-immortals and are Made mostly and some have lived as long as the Archangels. They serve the Archangels and have contracts with their angelic masters that they have to live by. They use humans as cattle for feeding on blood. Guild Hunters are humans with special powers who are tasked to capture Vampires who have gone rogue. They have psychic and physical powers which are extra-ordinaire.

Dmitri is the second-in command to Archangel Raphael and led The Seven - who were dedicated to Raphael to protect him in every way. With Raphael and Elena still in Japan monitoring his mother's activities after she has been risen, it fell onto Dmitri's shoulders when a severed head is found. Upon closer examination he finds some kind of tattoo high on the dead man's left cheekbone. Something in his memories stirred and recognized it but he could not capture that flicker wholly before it disappeared. Also the head belonged to a vampire who has been Made recently - identified due to his nascent fangs - and does not belong to Raphael's region. Dmitri reaches out to the Guild to get help of a consult - per protocol - and who can dig thru and find what the ink meant. That's how Honor St. Nicholas gets assigned to The Tower - from where Archangel Raphael rules with his Seven - to aid Dmitri in solving the case.

Honor St. Nicholas had been a Guild Hunter for as long as she knew and there was nothing else she want to do but to be part of the Guild and aid the Archangel Raphael in various tasks. However on one particular hunt she was captured by a vampire who had planned the attack and been held a captive in a dark place. She was tortured, raped, fed on, beaten and hurt physically, sexually and emotionally. With help of Ashwini and Ransom from the Guild and The Seven, they find Honor and save her from the nightmare - in the process capturing only two vampires. Who had orchestrated this kidnapping and cruel game no one knows and is yet to be found. Even though she had been healed physically now, her nightmares have not stopped and neither her emotional scars abated. She had been spending all her time in the subterranean depths of the Guild Academy working through the Archives. Now Sara - the Guild Director - is sending her to The Tower on a case. Not just to anyone, but to work under / with Dmitri - the one person who had been in her fantasies, thought and mind ever since she had laid her eyes on him as a young teenager. But he is also a Vampire - the bane of her nightmares since her kidnapping. Little did she know that Dmitri had his share of nightmares that he dealt with as well.

Will Honor get over her fears and nightmares at the same time working along-side Dmitri? What was done to Honor and who caused it? Who is playing this cruel cruel game? What does the tattoo on the severed head mean? Will she be immune to Dmitri's magnetic allure that he normally uses on all hunter-born to entrance them? What happened in his past that he ended up being Made? What are his nightmares? How is the tattoo connected to his past? Why is Honor having all these dreams of someone looking like Dmitri with a woman who is not her? How does Honor know things about Dmitri that he had never told anyone except Raphael - although she doesn’t seem to know that they were his deepest secrets? What is with Honor that reminds Dmitri of the long ago past that he had wanted to seal and forget? Will they be successful in both of their quests at the same time not kill each other?

Another part penned well by Nalini Singh making us part of this whole family giving her visits into their life. Not a quick read as other books, but definitely a good read. And oh, don’t forget those tissues. If you are anything like me, you will cry buckets for Honor and for Dmitri. Enjoy the book.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) A sub-plot involving Ashwini Taj - a Guild Hunter - and Janvier - smooth talking Cajun Vampire of 245 years old and works closely with Ashwini - who have been constantly playing the game of love without falling for each other. Yet!
2) Caliane - Ancient Archangel once ruled Sumeria - has come back from her sleep along with her city Amaanat and rules it now somewhere in the middle of Japan.
3) Another sub-plot involving Holly Chang - a young twenty three year old girl who was taken by Uram (An Archangel who had gone mad) during his killing rampage - who was neither fully human nor fully vampire with abilities that continually evolve. She is under protection of Dmitri and changes her name to Sorrow.
4) We get to see Archangel Neha who rules India and Archangel Favashi who rules Persia in this book again.

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

Prologue: Go here.

For review of all books in the Guild Hunter series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5

Recommendation: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, archangels, angels and humans.

Archangel's Consort is the third installment in the Guild Hunter Series by written by Nalini Singh published in February of 2011. The first book of Nalini Singh I had read was the 7th in this series. I liked it enough to look for other books in the series. I am yet to find the first two books, so for now reading whatever books I am finding in the series. These books can be read as stand-alone since the history of the series is briefly glimpsed in every book. However I like to read the series from start to end usually. :) Anyways here is my take on this book.



The stories in this series are set in a world where it is ruled by Archangels with Vampires, Angels and Humans with extra-ordinary powers as their team serving them. The Cadre that is the council of Archangels seats 10 powerful archangels who share the world in ten different continents and rule them, hold sway over the immortals and mortals alike. Archangels are immortals who have lived thousands and thousands of centuries. Angels are born or made but have lived centuries. Vampires are almost-immortals and are Made mostly and some have lived as long as the Archangels. They serve the Archangels and have contracts with their angelic masters that they have to live by. They use humans as cattle for feeding on blood. Guild Hunters are humans with special powers who are tasked to capture Vampires who have gone rogue. They have psychic and physical powers which are extra-ordinaire.

In this book, the plot revolves around Elena Deveraux and her Archangel Raphael who rules North America with New York as his base. Elena was a vampire hunter and part of the guild before she was made into an angel by Raphael. That story is covered in the first two books as mentioned a few times in this plot. Now Rapheal and Elena have returned to New York after facing Archangel of China, Lijuan - an Ancient too - and the destruction of Beijing, almost losing their lives. They are settling themselves as a couple - Elena to be introduced to the world as Raphael's consort, something similar to wife in human terms. All seems to go well although Elena is still battling her nightmares, her past, trying to assimilate being an angel and at the same time work for the Guild. However, she is tasked to find a vampire who had attacked a girl's school. A roommate of Elena's step-sister Evelyn is found murdered by a vampire gone rogue. Elena worried that her step-sister just might be in the cross-hairs of a vampire who is bent on a rampage. Or is she? Or is it Elena in the cross-hairs?

Adding to this are the weird anomalies in weather patterns causing tornadoes, unusual snow patterns and overflowing rivers with thunderstorm filled rains everywhere. Archangels all over the world know that this happens only when an Ancient awakens - an Ancient is one who is more than tens of thousands of years old and had gone to sleep when they grow weary of long immortality. However when an Ancient awakens they may always not be sane. But this time perhaps they are witnessing a rebirth of an Archangel as the Ancient rising is none other than Caliane - mother to Raphael. What worries Raphael and Elena more is how insane would she be when she wakes considering she was the most powerful Archangel of her time and has been on this earth since more than twenty five thousand years. Her insanity could cause a disruption in the Cadre as well as the balance of mortals and immortals everywhere.  That was not the only thing. She is coming back to reclaim her son Raphael and the only one between them is Elena.

Will Elena come to terms with her past and her father? What is the big secret that her father is hiding? Who is killing all these innocents and vampires too? Is Caliane really capable of reaching beyond her sleep and cause the vampires to go rogue? Or is it some other element playing its hand? Will the Seven - Raphael's team of devoted angels and vampires who have dedicated themselves for the safety of Raphael - protect Elena and Raphael for what is coming? But what is coming? Is Caliane as mad as she was before she went to Sleep? What is the fate of the Cadre?

Interesting twists and turns in this world of angels and vampires with humans in the middle. I am curious to see how the life of Elena and Raphael turn into in the next books as well as curious about the lives of Seven and the Hunters of the Guild. Nalini Singh has put life into her characters and makes you part of their family just by reading the book. That is some writing expertise. Pick it up to get transported into a different world and enjoy the stories.

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

Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: Definitely to get you out of those dull days, charm you into a laugh on those lazy days or make you sidesplitting with tears.

Happy Birthday Suren!! My brother had his milestone birthday this year and it fell on this day of the post. Andaz Apna Apna is one of his favorite movies. Here's the review on that movie for his birthday.

Andaz Apna Apna ( = Everyone Has Their Own Style) is a 1994 Indian (Hindi) comedy film. It was an average run at the time the movie was released, even though there were big names involved - Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. However since then it has become a cult classic now with the movie quotes becoming day to day life quotes. Perhaps its timing comedy or the connection between the four lead actors or the silly plot - but it has not captured everyone's heart giving everyone a crazy ride. Here is my take on it.



A silly plot where two good-for-nothing lazy bums - Amar (portrayed by Aamir Khan) and Prem (portrayed by Salman Khan) - embark on a journey to woo the rich heiress Raveena Bajaj, daughter of Ram Gopal Bajaj aka Uncle (portrayed by Paresh Rawal).  Raveena is in India along with her assistant Karishma looking for a husband. In the meanwhile Uncle's twin brother Shyam Gopal Bajaj aka Teja had been looking at taking his revenge on his brother for a long time. He gets his two goons Bhalla (portrayed by Shehzad Khan) and Robert aka Raabert (portrayed by Viju Khote) installed in the house to have them kill Raveena. Amar and Prem also get themselves installed - one as an amnesiac Tilu and another as Dr. Prem Khurana come in to treat Tilu. In the process Raveena falls for Amar and Karishma falls for Prem. And here comes the twist - Raveena who calls herself is actually her assistant Karishma and Karishma who acts as her assistant is infact the real heiress Raveena. They exchange their places so they get the right groom for the heriess. And to add to the confusion the Uncle and Teja help making everyone crazier. Added to all this confusion is another crazy goon Crime Master Gogo (portrayed by Shakti Kapoor) from whom Teja had taken a lot of money and who is bent on getting his money back. Thus the plot continues with the confusion between Raveena and Karishma, the attempts that Bhalla and Raabert try to kill the heiress, unknowingly Amar and Prem foiling those plans, the confusion of Uncle vs Teja, Crime Master Gogo's comic relief and finally outsmarting Teja and Uncle too to win the the girls.

The chemistry between the entire star cast was impeccable which perhaps was the key for the movie to become a cult now despite the average run in the beginning. This is the only movie that these two big stars - Aamir Khan and Salman Khaan - had worked together. Aamir Khan's role showing male chauvinistic charisma with a hint of craziness, Salman Khan's role projecting idiocy with a soft heart, Raveena's role having protective nature over Karishma and Karishma's role coming with utter innocence all meld well. Raveena was just making her mark as a star and this movie led her to Mohra which marked her as the Mast Mast Girl truly leaving a stamp and she never looked back. Karishma was also an up and coming star and yet to become the girl in Raja Hindustani and mark her way. However this role didn’t hurt at all.





Paresh Rawal - another upcoming artiste - may not have had memorable roles prior to this movie, but his double role as Teja and Uncle has made a stamp like a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Despite so much comedy in the movie, who can forget Crime Master Gogo and his witty remarks. As the nephew of famous villian Mogambo, Shakti Kapoor portrays the role of Crime Master Gogo and has less screen space. Yet he becomes the pivotal role in the movie - as the most lovable villian, even gracing him a spot in the final scene. I don’t think anyone else would have made this role immortal. Teja and Bhalla complement each other similar to Daga and Teja in the hit classic movie Mr. India. The confusion of names with reference to real names of Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor perhaps was the most brilliant idea by the director or the writer.





The music had been fun and charming, easy to croon along and at the same enjoy them thoroughly. Here are all the songs:



One of the song "Ello ji Sanam Hum Aa Gaye" is based on the song  Banda Parwar Thaam Lo Jigar from the 1963 hit classic Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon ( = I've Come Back With the Same Heart). I had mentioned about it a while ago in one my blog posts here.

Here are few iconic quotes that are still used in daily life:

Fake Raveena / Real Karishma: Nahin nahin hum kuch nahin bola. Hum kuch bolega tho kuch ho jayega kya

Fake Karishma / Real Raveena: Yes Madam. Aap kuch bolenge yeh kuch samjhenge. Thoda kuch samjenge bahut kuch likhenge. Yahan kuch likhenge wahan kuch chapega. Aur jo kuch chap ke aayega woh ajeeb sa kuch hoga. Aur is ajeeb sa kuch mein kuch ka kuch ho jayega. Correct?

More quotes behind the cut...Collapse )



Such a silly movie with dialogues that don’t make any sense but are part of our daily life now. Rajkumar Santoshi gave us a legacy to remember by in the name of comedy, silliness and pure fun. I recommend that go watch it on You Tube or Netflix or pop in that DVD you might have stowed away to enjoy the fun and laugh out loud or rolling on the floor.

Few more fun facts:

1) I have never watched a movie before that had so many colors in its opening credits. Also check the spellings of the actors, everything is spelt with additional letters in their names.



More fun facts behind the cut...Collapse )

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

Prologue: Go here.

For review of all Perry Mason books: Go here

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: For everyone who have fetish for courtroom drama, this is the lawyer's case files that one would definitely have to read.

Perry Mason in The Case of The Blonde Bonanza is the 67th installment in the Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner first published I 1962.. The name surmises what the plot would be about - indeed its about a blonde and a bonanza.



Vacationing at Bolero Beach with her Aunt Mae, Della Street gets obsessed watching a young model-shaped woman eating to put on weight. She suspects some kind of conspiracy and calls in Perry Mason asking him to come by. Upon reaching there Mason comes to know that the girl, Dianne Alder, had signed a contract with some kind of with Harrison T. Boring at Hollywood Talent Scout Modeling Agency for a clothing designer who was coming up with a line of clothing for women with firm and fleshy bodies.

Mason takes a look at her contract and immediately suspects that there is a lot fishy in the contract. Thus he retains Dianne as his client and starts his investigation of the contract and beyond. That leads him to Missing Heirs and Lost Estates, a missing / long-dead father, a murder and finally a court case to defend Dianne Alder. There is less of courtroom drama in the book and more of investigation. Nonetheless a very intriguing case that has a twist every bend and an unexpected course at every turn.


A few interesting things I noted:
1) Several quotes in the book makes one wonder if Perry Mason and Della Street were indeed romantically involved as well. For instance, Aunt Mae comments "Come on now, you two. You're either talking business or making love."
2) Sid Nye and Moose Dillard are two operatives of Paul Drake that are seen in this book extensively than Paul Drake, helping Mason out on the case.
3) The District Attorney in this case is Carter Leland as opposed to Hamilton Burger - a constant in most of the cases - only because the case was put in front of Riverside County Magistrate. However in the TV episode the DA was still Hamilton Burger.
4) Also in the TV Series it was Paul Drake and Dillard being the primary detectives for Perry Mason.

Here is the TV Series (although the voices are distorted)

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

Prologue: Go here.

For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick murder mystery pick it up and you will enjoy it.

Murder At The PowderHorn Ranch is the 12th installment in the series that Donald Bain had written based off of the Universal Television Series Murder, She Wrote and published in May of 1999. The plot is set in Colorado on a ranch and ofcourse where there's Jessica there's bound to be a murder or two. :)



Jessica Fletcher and Dr. Seth Hazzlitt take up an offer from their long-time friends Jim and Bonnie Cook to spend a relaxing weekend at their ranch in Powderhorn Valley in Colorado. She wanted to get away for a break anyways. Other folks who were at the ranch the same week were the Morrison Family staying - Evelyn Morrison (the family matriarch), Craig Morrison (her older son), his wife Veronica Morrison, their kids Pauline Morrison and Godfrey Morrison, Chris Morrison (the younger song of Evelyn), his wife Marisa Morrison, Cousin Willy (unmarried cousin) and Robert Morrison (Evelyn's brother). There was a last minute addition, a couple on a driving tour of the Rocky Mountain - Paul Molloy and Geraldine Molloy. The Morrisons expressed displeasure about having another couple on the ranch but went on with everyone.

Following day on a return trip from their riding, one of the wranglers Crystal finds the dead body of Paul Molloy. Everyone is shocked and upset about a murder happening so close and assume it to be a drifter who had killed Paul. Jessica however has her own assumptions is confident that someone at the ranch could have had an opportunity to kill Paul. But what was the motive? Nobody seemed to know the couple. With Homicide Investigator Robert Pitura and Sherriff Murdie on the scene, Jessica offers her full support, theories and helps in investigating along - as always. While they are searching for a motive, who and how someone killed Paul, Geraldine goes missing and only to be found dead the following day.

Many questions keep coming back to Jessica's mind. Who would have killed both Paul and Geraldine? Was it one person or two? What was the motive? Was there a link between the Molloys and Morrisons? As the plot thickens so does the suspects and reasons. Read through to see how Jessica pushes through like a bull and aids the Sherriff and Investigator in solving the murder.

Like many of these books, I could gander a guess on who the killer was around 3/4th into the book. But what and how was something that I could find only at the end. Another easy murder mystery with no hidden surprises but medium twists that will leave you happy at the end.

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

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A family values and morals infused movie with twists that make you glued to the couch.

Happy Birthday Dad!! This is one of the favorite movies of my dad - has all elements that he usually looks for in a movie along with his favorite actors - Akkineni Nageshwara Rao and Vanisree. For his birthday that was on this day I am posting this for him. Aathmeeyulu ( = Soulmates / People Close To One's Heart) is a 1969 Telugu family drama released in black & white and written by famed Telugu author Yaddanapudi Sulochanarani. A simple plot with usual twists and turns that come in a family drama consisting of basic human nature.



Veerayya works for Landlord Jagannadham but is killed while saving Jagannadham's life. The responsibility of his two kids (a boy and a girl) and his unborn child falls on Veerayya's sister - Mahankali - and his wife. Jagannadham and his brother Justice Rajaram offer monetary support for the kids (Suryam and Seetha) and ask Veerayya's sister, Mahankali to take care of the financials. Veerayya's wife dies in child birth and Mahankali gives away the newborn girl to a family who do not have any kids without anyone's consent and infact tells everyone that the child also died in child birth. Mahankali also has a son. Mahankali takes responsibility of all three kids but raises Veerayya's kids in utter misery. Jagannadham moves to city along with his son and goes into business with his brother there and lives with him and his daughter - although sending money timely to Mahankali. Veerayya's kids run away from their home and take shelter at a hotel owner who helps them by giving them job and also a home to stay along with means to educate. The story continues how with hard work the kids grow up to be good citizens, successful in studies, how they meet Jagannadham again, help each other in troubles and take care of themselves as well as everyone. The plot also connects Veerayya's given-away daughter, all the male counterparts including the rogue and the sub-plots seamlessly tying the loose ends.

It is so rare that we see movies filled with family morals and ideals lately. This movie is full of those bringing us back to the basic human nature - friendship, loyalty, honor, love, sacrifice, betrayal, crime, cheating, family morals and honesty. It also comes with some beautiful melodies - some are hit, some rare and some never heard (at least by me). Here are they in this collection.



Suryakantham as Veerayya's sister seems so nice and soft in the beginning but she is nothing but a fox under sheep-skin as always - the kind of roles that she is famous for. She meets her match in Vijayanirmala in this movie.



The style of wearing saree with a very short pallu quite famous at the time seems so different from what we wear today. And yes zero-size wasn’t in-fashion either. Such a relief.



Vijayanirmala (portraying the role of Saroja - the give-away daughter) is a side-actress in this movie - she is the heroine for Padmanabham - who portrays the role of Chittibabu, son of Mahankali. She had not become a top actress by then. She even drives a Lambretta scooter - something that I hadnt seen in a long time too.



Commute by Rickshaws - I remember them as a kid but we don’t see them anymore. Modernization has changed a lot.



The side-actors also have their own songs in this movie which is much rarer in movies currently - Vijayanirmala has an up-beat song and a duet with Padmanabham. Chandrakala (portraying the role of Seetha - sister to Suryam) has a soft melody and a duet with Chandramohan (portraying the role of Chandram - son of Jagannadham) along-side Vijayanirmala.

A thoroughly enjoyable movie.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick murder mystery pick it up and you will enjoy it.

Murder, She Wrote: Three Strikes And You're Dead is the 26th installment of the book in this series whose books were based off of the famed Universal Television Murder, She Wrote. Written by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain, the books was published in October of 2006. The plot is based in and around baseball - the game that I understand very less. A great timing for me to complete this book though. I was visiting my family in CA that week (the day this post originally was supposed to be written, I am seriously behind! :P) and I got a crash course on baseball with this book so I could understand and enjoy my nephew's t-ball games. :P



Jessica Fletcher is in Arizona visiting her old school friend, Meg Duffy and her husband, Judge Jack Duffy. Jack had presided as a judge in the Family Division of the Superior Court, Hudson County, New Jersey. Ty Ramos was the foster son of the Duffy's who was playing for The Rattlers - minor league baseball team and a Double-A team in the Pacific West division. Ty hits the winning run and gets a huge win for The Rattlers. However, the team owner Harrison Bennett (H. B.) is not thrilled as his decision was over-written by the coach and Ty had taken the winning run rather than H. B.'s son Junior Bennett. There is a rivalry between Junior and Ty whose flames are being encouraged by H. B. much to the disappointment of the Duffy's.

During the after game winning party, Ty and Junior get into a fight outside the bar and Ty leaves him there lying on the floor. However shortly after Junior is found dead his head bashed in my by a baseball bat. And Ty is the prime suspect as he had been the last one seen with Junior per the witnesses. To hurt it further, the baseball used to kill Junior was a something Ty had used it as a kid. And his tough childhood was not helping either. He was being convicted by media even before the case was investigated. Duffy's had taken Ty from a rough neighborhood and with all of their hard work they finally became a family. And now this murder is casting a shadow over him. Jessica doesn’t believe that Ty had anything to do with the murder despite what the circumstances speak for. She along with Sherriff Hualga dig deep and investigate to get Ty exonerated and also find the real killer.

The plot is complicated and just perfect like any other Murder, She Wrote TV series. It was fun to learn so many baseball terms, get first-hand read on the various politics around any game as such and the intricacies involved. It did keep me on the edge and I could not guess the killer until it was revealed. That is new for me for this series. All in all a good murder mystery, light on mind and easy on heart.

I remember an episode based on baseball produced for the Murder, She wrote TV series that had a similar title. The TV episode however was called "Three Strikes, You're Out" which was aired on May 7 1989 as Season 5 Episode 20. There are certain differences between the two (the TV episode and the book) but both plots revolve around baseball. I wonder if Donald Bain's book is inspired from the TV episode. Click here to watch the episode.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Romance on the air - old concept in a new bottle - another good watch for those cozy nights. Don’t forget the tissues!!!

Sleepless in Seattle is a 1993 American romantic drama starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. This is their second installment together after the 1990 Joe Vs Volcano. Nora Ephron directed this movie. She also had directed the You've Got Mail (My review here) which was the third installment between these two actors.



I had mentioned about this movie when I posted about An Affair To Remember movie. This movie is a kind of homage to this 1957 classic. The movie is even mentioned in more than few scenes and also uses the reference to Empire State Building at the end. Another movie that was made with low budget but went on to become a great success earning millions.

Sam Baldwin (portrayed by Tom Hanks), a Chicago architect, after losing his wife Maggie, moves to Seattle with his son Jonah to start a new life hoping to overcome the grief. Annie Reed (portrayed by Meg Ryan), a Baltimore Sun reporter, is engaged to Walter (portrayed by Bill Pullman) but feels something missing even though she wants their engagement turn into marriage.

On a return drive from her parents' home after the Christmas Eve dinner, she tunes into a radio program where Jonah is on the air talking to this talk show host about his father needing a wife. Sam comes on to the show a little while later and Annie listens to his grieving and thoughts of his wife. After listening to the show thousands of women write letters to Sam sensing him proposals. While Annie finds that she is missing the "magic" that Sam talked about between her and Walter. She writes a letter to Sam suggesting to meet on Empire State Building on Valentine's Day after watching Affair To Remember movie. Thus begins the tug of tale Annie faces between accepting Walter as is and her obsession to find Sam - coming pretty close becoming a stalker. :P

The movie has so many emotional moments that would consume all the tissues in your home yet you would run to the store and bring more so you can complete watching it. Annie's chirpy self and Sam's melancholy moods are so opposite to each other yet complement perfectly.

Carrie Lowell as Maggie - even though for very few scenes looks charming. I always will remember her as Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross on the television drama Law & Order than any other role.



The first time Sam sees Annie in the airport, he realizes that he can love again if the girl looks like her.



The director has also put in bits and pieces of Maggie in Annie to make it look equally plausible for Sam to fall for her. For someone who doesn’t believe in superstitions, Annie falls for signs and so does Jonah. Another connection that the director has smartly included getting all the elements under one umbrella. Scene below shows were Annie thinks its a sign that her impending nuptials with Walter may not be right because the wedding dress tears while trying on.



The director adds the reference to The Affair To Remember movie again using the dialogue "hello" and the scene mimicking from the movie although in a different way.



And here is the one from Affair To Remember movie.



There is plenty of comic relief as well not to forget that.

It is so interesting that in the entire movie although Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are the lead actors, they do not share more than 2 mins of screen space together. Yet the entire plot revolves around them. This unique concept perhaps has made the move all the more lovable.



I recommend this movie for those cozy days but caution you that keep a bunch of tissues beside. Enjoy it in leisure.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.


Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely to watch even If you don’t like dance, just for the sheer romance in it, if not for the reality.

Dirty Dancing is the 1983 classic American romantic film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles. A movie made on low budget with the less-named actors went on to become the top grosser film of that year, winning awards and still captures audience. Who would have thought Baby and Johnny could create so much sensation.



The plot is very simple. A well-to-do family of four (Father, Mother and two daughters) goes vacationing to a resort hotel. Youngest daughter being shy keeps exploring the area around and encounters the lead dancer of the resort's entertainment band.  She falls for him and also helps him in situations that he and his band fall into. And the story continues showing how they fight the hurdles, and eventually win their father's acceptance as well as a partnership for life within them. Seemingly simple story yet it had earned millions of dollars and still earning. What could have made the movie such a sensation, such a classic? Here are my 2 cents as to why.

1) True to the heart chemistry between Patrick Swazye and Jennifer Grey as Johnny Castle and Frances "Baby" Houseman is electric, even when she was just a shy girl trying to get out of her shell.



2) Jerry Orbach - the only famous actor in the movie at that time - fit perfectly into the role a protective father, Dr. Jake Houseman. With his dialogues like "Don't you tell me what to see! I see someone in front of me who got his partner in trouble and sent her off to some butcher, while he moved on to an innocent young girl like my daughter", oh he definitely fit the part.

3) The plot that jumps from simple to complex in just one scene. Although removes the fairy-tale element but kicks you into the seat of reality with a lesson. One scene that explains depths.





4) However, the budding romance between a shy teenager and an experienced adult brings back the element of fairy-tale romance. And still the hard-work and effort they put in keeps the reality element without missing a beat.







5) And who can forget the memorable dialogues. A few here:

Penny: Go back to your playpen, Baby.

Johnny: Nobody puts Baby in a corner

Baby: I carried a watermelon.
[Johnny walks away]
Baby: [to herself] Carried a watermelon?

6) And the finale…The Time of My Life - a song that has become an iconic song for many weddings, anniversaries, valentine days and all those special occasions that couples would want to celebrate.







It has become a cult for romantics and has been made into numerous versions. However the original always is the best.



Do you need any more reasons for watching this movie again and again? Go check netflix, youtube or search your dvds and pop it in. Curl up on the sofa and enjoy the movie, live the romance and experience life.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: For everyone who have fetish for courtroom drama, this is the lawyer's case files that one would definitely have to read.

The Case of the Fiery Fingers in the 37th Perry Mason case written by Erle Stanley Gardner and published originally in May of 1951. A seemingly simple advice counsel turns to a full-blown murder case with elements of fraudulence and conspiracy.



Nellie Conway, mousy night nurse-maid comes to Perry Mason's office for an advice on what her employer want her to do. She pays $1 for that. The case in point being Nellie claims that her employer Nathan Bain has asked her to give some poisoned pills to his wife, Elizabeth Bain whom she was taking care of during the nights. Elizabeth had broken her back in a car accident and had been confined to her bed and her room. Nellie was the night-nurse while there was another one for day. Nellie had approached the cops about what Nathan had asked her to do but they dismissed her suspicions claiming that the pills were nothing but asprin. After listening to her case, Mason takes one pill and gives back three pills sealed in an envelope asking her not to use them at all. She leaves unsatisfied with the advice and Mason is left feeling that he had just been dragged into middle of something that was going to turn bigger.

True to his feeling, Nellie calls Mason the following evening claiming that Nathan Bain is getting her arrested for thievery. That Nathan has proof that she has stolen one of the pieces from his wife's jewelry box. Naturally Mason takes up the case to defend her. However, his dealings with Nellie and Nathan doesn’t end there. And that leads to murder, investigation and defending again another person. As much as Mason gets irritated by the mess in the first-place, again with his trusted associates Della Street and Paul Drake he not only unravels the mystery but also solves the murder much to the frustration of DA Hamilton Burger.

Another charming and quite an interesting court-room drama between Mason and Burger written oh ever so mysteriously by Gardner. I have watched the entire series and the movies but hadnt read a book till now. It is no wonder Gardner is so good that the book comes alive even if you hadnt watched the series. And yes, it is not until the last chapter that we get to know who the murderer or culprit is. I could never guess in any of his plots. Always complicated plots and ever feeding your curious mind. And don’t forget the language used. It is so different from modern books like - Mason quipping angrily of course "by making a goat out of me" or the words "temerity", "monkeyed". I am looking forward to read the rest of the books when I get a chance.

If you want to get defended anytime, it would better to have Perry Mason on your side. Jokes apart, a very good book to read to satisfy your noodles.

Here is the episode in the TV Series made based off of this book.

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: Read it if you want to see if an author can spring up novellas that are not part of any of her series, you might just get surprised.

After The Music is a novella by Christine Feehan published first in the anthology A Very Gothic Christmas in November 2001 and then as part of The Wicked and The Wondrous in October 2004. The plot revolves around a family trying to overcome obstacles and murderous people yet try to have a peaceful Christmas. It is a stand-alone story in itself without any connection to any of her series. It's one of the few novellas that Christine has written.



Jessica Fitzpatrick arrives at the remote island mansion of world-famous musician Dillon Wentworth with her twin wards - Tara and Trevor Wentworth. Tara and Trevor are Dillon's kids whom he had sent away to stay with Jessica and her mother Rita Fitzpatrick after Dillon had gone through a huge loss. She had lived on the island along with her mother when she had worked as the care taker of the house and the twins. Dillon had been her friend and confidante, they had sing, compose music and spend time as best friends. Her memories with this place however were not all good. Yet she had pushed back all those memories and brought the children back to their father after seven years. After her mother had died she had taken up the responsibility of the wards but now she thought Dillon should know his kids as much as she knows them and loves them.

Dillon had formed a small band in his youth and then went on to become world-famous musician. He had married is childhood sweetheart Vivian, but she didn’t turn out to be not so such sweet once fame hit them. Dillon had ignored her and tolerated her, by banishing her to this remote island when he went his tours. However Vivian fell into the wrong kind of cult that had less to do with faith and devotion and more to do with drugs, orgies and virgin sacrifices - all done under the influence of the cult leader. Dillon tried his best to but he did not do his best until one night where he found Vivian and her cult doing unspeakable things. Filled with rage he had bashed all of them, and walked out of the house. Later the house caught on fire killing Vivian and her six guests while Dillon came out with burnt hands. Media had made him out to be a monster even though he had been acquitted of the blame that he had caused the fire and killings. Tara and Trevor were five at the time and sent in care of Rita and Jessica to avoid more of media attacks. Now, Jessica brought them back to his life. For what purpose?

Who was trying to kill Jessica? Was Rita's accident really an accident or a murder? Who was sending all the tabloid papers and making blank calls to Jessica and the kids after all this time? And what a coincidence that the entire band has re-grouped in Dillon's house to create new music. Is that really a coincidence? Or did someone have an ulterior motive? What is it that scared Jessica the most to come back to this house? Who really killed Viivian, her guests and caused the fire? Was any of the band members behind all this? If so, who would that be?

A dark story filled with troubles, terrors and pains that have been hidden for seven years, struggling to come out - to bring peace or to cause rift all over again. Christine Feehan blended the dark elements with life, light and love very well in this novella as much as she had done with her series. Another good read that would charm you and would want you to see more of the characters as the pages flow by. Strong Jessica, willed Dillon and the understanding kids mixed with the temperamental band - a perfect plot with a certain happy ending come Christmas comes. I recommend you to try it for those lazy days and cozy nights.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely if you love musicals and a sucker for classics based on epic mythologies.

Happy Sriramanavami!! The auspicious day celebrating the birth of Lord Rama falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra per the Hindu Calendar. Sri Rama is the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu who had taken human form to overcome the evil spreading on Earth. This year the festival had come on this day April 15th - the day of this post.

To honor this day I chose the 1963 hit Telugu and Tamil classic mythological movie Lava Kusa. The story is based on Uttara Kanda from Ramayana by Sage Valmiki - the final chapters in the life of Rama, Sita, his brothers along with the birth of Lava and Kusa, sons of Rama and Sita. I picked this movie mainly because my mom loves it and also one of my uncle. This post is for them too.



The story begins after Sri Rama had defeated and killed Ravana, got back Sita from his clutches and successfully returned back to Ayodhya to rule the country. His coronation completed, and with the vow he takes up as a king to be a just one, he rules the country with peace and prosperity along-side his wife Sita. Sita becomes pregnant and everyone is happy that the line of Rama will proceed further. However, one day a washerman blames Rama that he had brought back Sita even though she had spent time in someone else's. And he may have accepted Sita but he cannot accept his wife who had spent time elsewhere. Word reaches to Rama through his spies. He is baffled that despite the peace and prosperity he had been hearing and seeing, there is still rumors about Sita's purity despite her going through Agni Pariksha. Conceding to the public's opinion, reluctantly Rama banishes Sita to the forest, to keep his vow to his people. Sita is rescued by Sage Valmiki where she lives and gives birth to twins Lava and Kusa. The movie continues with the life of Lava and Kusa, how they grow up admiring Rama but not knowing that he is their father, the confusion they face when they know that Sita was banished, the fight they have with Rama and eventually the truth comes out.

The movie was made simultaneously in both Tamil and Telugu languages. It was made completely in Gevacolor making it the first Telugu movie in color. A classic and considered as one of the movies that impacts society. The movie featured 27 songs composed by legendry singer Ghantasala. Politics have changed so much since the time Sri Rama had ruled the country. I don’t think anyone would have sacrificed so much for the sake of the country in the current era. I believe that is why the epic is so well-liked and learned by everyone.

N.T. Rama Rao reprised the role of Sri Rama that he had done so many times in his two-decades of career by that time. He lived the role again as always. Kantharao as Lakshmana, Kaikala Satyanarayana as Bharata and the very young Shobhan Babu as Shatrughna suited perfect for the roles. Anjali Devi as Sita could not have been suited more than anyone else for that role. The three and a half hour musical story of the final chapters of Sri Rama, Sita, his sons Lava and Kusa and his brothers excellently directed by C. Pullaiah and C. S. Rao. It was really refreshing to see Suryakantham as one of the Valmiki's disciples wife even though her sharp tongue and short-temperedness has not been toned down even in this role. Along-side Ramana Reddy, she became part of the comic-relief in the movie. Wonder what happened to the two kids who portraued as Lava and Kusa. Of course they would be old now, but always wondered about their fate in film industry after this movie.

Every scene in the story has so much moral behind it, so much depth and insight if only one want to learn from it and make their lives better. To that fact the director, lyricist and music composer have also spun the songs, communicating the essence just like how Valmiki had done with his verses on the story of Ramayana. One of the song that always rattles me is this one titled "Yeh Nimishaaniki Emi Jaruguno Evaru Oohinchedaru" ( = No one guesses what happens the next minute) - one line that can define everything around you. What the song yourself here and hopefully you will get what I mean.



Memorable scenes from the movie behind the cut...Collapse )

A classic movie based on one of the greatest epics of Indian mythology is worth watching even if it has to be on youtube. Ofcourse there are arguments on the other side of the coin as well that challenges the epic that how can a pious person as Rama be so cruel to Sita, what is the difference between him and Ravana, at least Ravana had made sure to give the right accommodation for Sita even in capture. However, my intention is not to bring the pros and cons of the epic story with this post. Just to enjoy the story through the eyes of these great artistes. A classic that cannot be missed. Go for it and relive the epic.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A healthy rivalry can turn to a beautiful romance when the world wide web is involved. A must see love story with interesting elements like internet, chatting, competition and realization.

You've Got Mail is a 1998 American romantic-comedy film based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László and its adaptations. This was the third movie that had Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as the lead actors. I have seen this movie so many times I cant even begin to count. And I have also posted about this movie three times before. (Post 1; Post 2 and Post 3) So it is fitting that I do a post of this movie for my theme of reviews for this year. **Wicked Grin**



A battle of wits and charm between two book store owners mixed with love, internet and strategy makes this cute movie. Kathleen Kelly (portrayed by Meg Ryan) runs the independent store "The Shop Around The Corner" that her mother ran before her; with her assistants George, Aunt Birdie and Christina. Joe Fox (portrayed by Tom Hanks) is overseeing the opening of his new book store Fox Books, in upper west Manhattan. Both of their lives cross each other every day - same place where they shop groceries, have coffee or take a walk. Yet, they never meet each other until one day Joe walks into her book store with his eleven-year-old aunt Annabel and four-year-old half brother Matthew. Although Joe doesn’t tell her who he really was, they find a spark of attraction. Which withers away when Joe and Kathleen meet again at a party and Kathleen realizes who Joe indeed was - Owner of Fox Books, the company that would eventually force the small shops to close.

However, unbeknown to each other, Joe and Kathleen have been communicating online via their screen names NY152 and Shopgirl and slowly start falling for each other. Eventually they decide to meet but Joe sees Kathleen and doesn’t meet her as NY152 but as Joe himself. The story then follows them in how they despite hating each other start liking just like how they had liked their personalities on online chat; how Joe wheedles his way into Kathleen's life and wins her over eventually even though he caused her shop to be closed.

A very cute and memorable movie for me that highlights the life in the beginnings of internet taking over the art of writing letters and moving into online conversation, yet retains the art of talking in-person. There are so many little things in the movie that I cant begin to write and had captured my heart thoroughly. A few highlighted below.

More pictures behind the cut...Collapse )

Joe Fox: Don't cry, Shopgirl. Don't cry.
Kathleen Kelly: I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly

Trivia: (Picked from online)
a) When Kathleen is decorating her shop's Christmas tree, she places an ornament of Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939). Judy Garland, who played Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz, also played the main character in In the Good Old Summertime (1949), which like You've Got Mail was based on The Shop Around the Corner (1940).
b) The original source material for this plot, the 1937 play "Illatszertár" (in English, titled "Parfumerie") by the Hungarian writer Miklós László, has been adapted into numerous other movies and plays. The first film adaptation was The Shop Around the Corner (1940) starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart. A movie for another day to post.
c) The song at the end of the film when they are standing on the bridge is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". A clip of this song is played in the previous movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, Sleepless in Seattle (1993).
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: 2.5 / 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.

Veiled Revenge is the ninth installment in the Crime of Fashion Mystery Series by Ellen Byerrum published in February of 2013. Lacey Smithsonian, the fashion reporter for The Eye Street Observer in Washington D.C., gets tangled with another fashion murder while preparing for her best friend Stella Lake's - manager of Stylettos Salon - wedding.



At the seemingly happy wedding shower for Stella Lake, the resident fortune-teller Marie Largesse cautions everyone to not to mock her shawl - supposedly given by her Gregor Kepelov, an ex-KGB - as she believes that it comes with some powers and if you mock you may lose our way, your money or your life. Despite the chills it gives everyone Marie allows Stella to try the shawl on. With her wedding a week away Stella had become more and more superstitious - adding cause for pain to the maid of honor, Lacey herself. Stella was all set to marry Nigel Griffin though - even if there is a dead body found from now till next week.

The story goes that the shawl was Maries was sporting at the party wasin the Kepelov family for generations originally came from one of their ancestors named Irina Katya Kepelova. Each and every Kepelova woman had contributed in the making the shawl and adding the story to the shawl as generations passed. Their blood, tears and perhaps a piece of their soul is trapped in the shawl - and hence considered haunted or cursed, whatever way one sees it. A nice story but a chilling past. Stella's nemesis Leonardo I-am-too-cool-to-have-last-name - the hairstylist who had left Stylettos in bitter terms - crashes the party and mocks the shawl while playing with it despite the efforts of everyone to remove it from his clutches. Suddenly Leonardo throws the shawl away complaining that it bit his neck. And Marie faints. When Marie faints it is never good as it always follows with something really dreadful.

True to everyone's superstitious thoughts, come Monday morning, to their shock, they find that Leonardo is dead. Stella, Miquel and Brooke Barton - Esquire, lawyer by day and wacky conspiracy theorist by night - all think that since Leo mocked the Shawl the previous night at the party, the shawl now killed him. Although they ask her to use her extra-fashionary perception and investigate, Lacey shuns them off saying its just a coincidence. But, is it? Is the shawl really cursed?  Lacey also has all of her news reporter colleagues to fight with to get the exclusive on Leonardo's murder - Harlan Wiedemeyer (The Eye's death-and-disemberment reporter) and Trujillo (The Eye's police reporter) - and Damon - mad genius behind the popular Conspirancy Clearance Website also knows as Deadfed dot com - Brooke's boy friend. Yet, Lacey just moves on to the idea of "if clothing can be haunted" and work for her fashion bites. Can clothes have powers? Can they have bad karma? However, for Lacey they have magic just like her Aunt Mimi's trunk which was a treasure trove of styles of the late 1930s and 1940s full of enchanting material, style, design and made to fit a real woman. For Lacey this was magic.

Lacey is also working, although grudgingly, on the "true crime" book based on what happened in Sagebrush for their paper (<add link to review of that novel - Tucker's case I believe>) along-side Tony and Mac Jones - The Eye Street Observer's Editor. She is overwhelmed with the wedding planning for Stella and to top it all its Spring in Washington D.C. And she want to be out here in the middle of it rather than between this chaos. Now her mind is all crowded with Maries fainting spell, the supposedly haunted / cursed shawl and the untimely death of Leonardo. So what does Lacey do? Naah not investigate but hand it over to her rival reporter, Tony, hoping that she isnt pulled or pushed into the mix again. But eventually she gets in the middle of it again.

Leonardo died of poison. Who could have poisoned him or how? Everyone at the party at the same food and drinks but no one else died. What is the reason for the bitterness between Miguel Flores and Leonardo? Could there be more to this rivalry? What exactly is the shawl supposed to have done / harmed someone? Is there any truth to the history behind the shawl? And now the shawl has gone missing. The mystery gets more mysterious and haunting as it proceeds. The line of suspects is not short at all - Bryan Culpeper - the obnoxious British friend of Nigel Griffin and his best man; Rosalie - annoying cousin of Stella; Gregor Kepelov - Ex-KGB and Marie's boyfriend; Olga Kepelova - sister of Gregor Kepelov; Kevin Early - Leonardo's room-mate; Rene Thibodeaux - childhood friend of Turtledove, in D.C. from New Orleans looking for his girlfriend Leah. Who is trying to kill them? And why? What are Olga and Gregor not telling? Someone messed with Vic's brakes? Why is Vic being targeted? What is Rene doing here in D.C.? Is his reason really valid? Stella's mother Retta Lake is creating all kind of nightmares for Stella that is adding to her apprehension to get married. This time Lacey certainly managed to be in a really thick layer of shawl, shall we say. :)

Another interesting murder mystery involving fashion, style and legends. Ellen Byerrum did her best in this again although I did feel at time the text was too much. It took almost half the book for Lacey to actually start investigating all the while denying it or ignoring the pleas from her friends. It was getting a tad bit tiring to hear her keep on saying "I am not investigating that murder" - although not in the same words. But I also feel sorry for her since she gets forced into investigating it because of Stella. And Stella's temper-tantrums of getting married and not getting married was too much to take. Oh boy wish I could conk her head with a pan and get some sense into her head. However, who know why brides behave like that, not being experienced myself, cant comment much other than get irritated.  I wish the story could have speeded up a bit even though the plot is really good. That alone was the saving grace for me to continue reading. However, if you want to read it, you can skip a few chapters and still finish the book with knowing what is going on. A good one for those quick cursory read books that you might be looking for. Anyways signing off with another of Lacey's fashion bites.

Lacey Smithsonian's Fashion Bites: The Magical Properties of Clothes
Our clothes help us create our own aura, our own style, our own magic. Some days our clothes just do their jobs and we do ours, no magic involved. But think about this the next time you're dressing for a big event, a first date, a special party, a wedding: Is the magic in the clothes we wear, or is the magic in us? And does that magic linger in what we wear, even after we've put the clothes aside?

Spoiler Alerts:
a) The plot talks about the move The Philadelphia Story and it peeked my interest enough to watch. Review coming up soon.
b) The dress that Lacey wears for the bachelorette party is mentioned as pale-yellow 1930s garden party dress. Intrigued me enough to check it out. Here is one that I found very cute…wish it had a full view.
c) Lacey has a secret with regards to her relationship with Vic Donovan - her boyfriend. Is she going to be engaged? Will she finally accept Vic's proposal?
d) There are quite few references to previous books in the series in this book. Makes one wonder if this would be the last in the series. But I do know there is another book after this which I am yet to read.
e) I do want to check out the restaurant Co Co. Sala in Washington, D.C. that is mentioned quite a few times in the book. Looks interesting. Check it out here.
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.
For review of all books from Sisters of the Heart/Sea Haven series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 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.

Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven is the spin-off series from the Drake Sisters Novels written by Christine Feehan. 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.

The series also follows the line of Prakenskiis - the seven sons of the seventh son - similar line to the Drakes but all men. They are 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, Joley 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.

Earth Bound is the fourth installment in the Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven series published in June of 2015. The story covers Lexi Thompson - the youngest sister of the heart and has ability to control the element of Earth among other - and Gavriil Prakenskii - the second of the Prakenskii brothers, also trained similar to his brothers but now forced to retire due to severe injuries caused while saving the Russian genius Theodotus Solovyov.



Lexi Thompson has had a hard life since she was eight years old. Kidnapped in the middle of the night by Duncan Caine - one of the enforcers for one of the branches of the cult Reverend RJ had started - beaten, starved, <insert word>, forced to "marry" Caine and become his "wife" so he could cure her of her sins by doing atrocious things to her. She had worked and lived a life of slave before she could escape the cult at the age of 17. She had met her sisters in the grief counselling group and from then on had lived with them on the farm. Now they were extending their farm by bidding on the land next. Despite the warning from her sisters and their fiancées (Lev Prakenskii, Stefan Prakenskii and Maxim Prakenskii), she goes out to check the land and ends up facing Caine and his henchmen - Peter Rogers and Darrin Jorgenson - again.

Gavriil Prakenskii comes to the farm despite the risk that he is being hunted, to warn his youngest brother Ilya Prakenskii - married to Joley Drake - that he is also on the hit put out by Uri Sorbacov and his father Kostya Sorbacov. He comes in time to see Caine and his men hurting Lexi. Between Lexi's ability to control Earth, her defense tactics that she has been learning from Lev, Stefan and Maxim and Gavriil's warrior abilities, Lexi gets saved from these remaining three cult members who had escaped the original ambush when she was 17. Now the puzzling question is how did these people know where Lexi was when was put in witness protection and had solely been concentrating her life in and around the farm? Who else will be coming for her even though these three have been terminated by Gavriil? Gavriil decides to stay on the farm and with Lexi despite his brothers' strong objection.

Why is Gavriil using his real name as opposed to an alias? What are his brothers worried about if Gavriil stays there? Is Lexi meant for Gavriil? Is he afraid for Lexi or of her? Will the threat to Lexi be removed permanently? Will Gavriil and his brothers outwit the threat to all their brothers? Who ele is behind them?

Chrisitne Feehan as always delves through the dark world of human deprivity. This time the world of cults that are rules by depraved men who think themselves to be god and take the pleasure in teachiing women and girls the right thing and purge their sins with the most unimaginable punishments. The things that Lexi went through gave me shudders, but this is truth that is happening around the world. Another brave topic to broach for and I sincerely wish there are Prakenskiis and Sisters of the Heart along with Drakes who can take these kind of men down permanently.

Another intense novel that once you start would not want to keep it down despite the many repeating paragraphs again we see in this book. Go pick it and enjoy it.


Spoiler Alerts:
a) We see that four children - 3 girls (Lucia, Nicia and Siena) and 1 boy (Benito) - who were saved from the human trafficking ring by Maxim and Airiana (covered in the book Air Bound), are in the process of being adopted by them and live on the farm.
b) Lissa Piner - the fifth sister of the heart - and her past is exposed and perhaps it gets connected the same goal that Prakenskii brothers have in mind.
c) I am still waiting for Elle Drake and Jackson Deveau to come back from their extended honeymoon to see what they will do about Lev Prakenskii settling in Sea Haven - since he was connected with the Stavros Gratsos and although tried to save Elle Drake, Jackson might not see that way.
d) I am looking forward to see how will Evan Shackler-Gratsos be eventually brought to justice before the series ends.
e) Also looking forward to see who will kill Uri Sorbacov and Kostya Sorbacov - Casimir or Viktor - the remaining two Prakenskiis
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.
For review of all books from Sisters of the Heart/Sea Haven series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 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.

Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven is the spin-off series from the Drake Sisters Novels written by Christine Feehan. 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.

The series also follows the line of Prakenskiis - the seven sons of the seventh son - similar line to the Drakes but all men. They are 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, Joley 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.

Air Bound is the third installment in the Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven series published in May of 2014. The story plot revolves around Airiana Ridell - third sister of the heart with an ability to control the element of Air and a child prodigy who was recruited to work for U.S. Government at the age of 7 - and Maxim Prakenskii - the fifth Prakenskii brother with an ability to control the element of Air and also trained by Russian government to be a killer.  The book goes back into the world of human trafficking that Elle Drake - the seventh and youngest Drake Sister - had brought down one head of the snake -Stavros Gratsos - in Hidden Currents.



Airiana Ridell had grew up not knowing who her father was and losing her mother while she was working on a special project since she was seven years old. And now she is being kidnapped by someone to take her back to her father whom she had never known. Theodotus Solovyov - the brilliant Russian scientist and contemporary to Damon Wilder (husband to Sarah Drake - oldest Drake Sister) trying to save whom Gavriil Prakenskii risked his career and now in hiding - turns out to be Airiana's father. Although her kidnappers had some other agenda on their plate, Maxim Prakenskii is taking her away from them directly to her father. Why does Theodotus want to talk to her now when he had never acknowledged her existence? Is it a coincidence that Damon Wilder had wanted to speak to her as well the same day she is being kidnapped - one whom she had met when she was 14 while working on her project for U.S. Department of Defence, for which Damon still worked?

Maxim was ordered to kidnap and bring Airiana to Theodotus and Evan Shackler-Gratsos, twin brother of the very-dead Stavros Gratsos. He has been told that Evan want to use her as leverage to force Theodotus to provide information that had been on the chip that was stolen from him by Jean-Claude La Roux but information lost now because it was floating in oil in one of the kaleidoscopes that Judith Henderson (another sister of the heart and wife of Stefan Prakenskii) had made. Maxim has his own set of plans while he is usurping Airiana from Evan's ship right under his nose.

Why was everyone suddenly interested in Airiana and her past work? How far will Maxim and Airiana go to bring down the human trafficker Evan Shackler-Gratsos? Will they be able to help Theodotus out of his trouble? Or is he really in trouble? Will Maxim accept Airiana for what she is to him? What is Airiana's past that terrifies her most? Why is Sorbacov cleaning up his schools and ordering hits on these men that he had created and who had served patriotically? Christine Feehan delves into the darker world of crimes unimaginable giving us glimpses of how cruel a man can be. Her writing makes one gets urge to become a Maximg or an Airiana to get such kind of scum out of this earth. This book definitely is a bit darker but it is something you should read and see more sides of the Sisters of the Heart and the Prakensii brothers.

Spoiler Alerts:
a) The biker club that was mentioned in Hidden Currents gets mentioned again here. I am curious to see if this relates to the new series Christine Feehan is spinning off of this series.
b) The oldest of the seven brothers is finally given a name in this book - Viktor Prakenskii. Maxim and Viktor systematically hunt and kill all the people responsible for his parents' murders. But they are still unable to reach the person who actually gave the order.
c) I am still waiting for Elle Drake and Jackson Deveau to come back from their extended honeymoon to see what they will do about Lev Prakenskii settling in Sea Haven - since he was connected with the Stavros Grastsos and although tried to save Elle Drake, Jackson might not see that way.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
My Recommendation: If you wonder what happens to the characters after their happily ever after, then this is definitely a show to watch that shows "what-after" of two famed Jane Austen's characters

Death Comes to Pemberley is a three-part British TV Series broadcasted in December of 2013. It is based off of P. D. James novel of the same name published in 2011. The book starts 6 years after Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy get married in Pride and Prejudice. The basic plot revolves around the Darcies and the Bennetts and involves murder.



Six years after their marriage, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy are preparing for a ball. They have a five year old son. As usual the relative parties are invited and start arriving. Although uninvited Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth's sister - and her husband George Wickham - always a pain for Fitzwilliam with all his mis-workings - along with their friend Captain Denny travel to the Darcy home for the ball. Mid-way Captain Denny gets angry with George and jumps off the carriage and starts to walk off into the forest. George follows him shouting and shortly after a gunshot is heard. Spooked the carriage man takes Lydia to the Darcy. Darcy enlists the help of his guests a search party only to find George huddled with a very-dead Captain Denny and screaming that it was his fault. The story continues with finding out the reasons behind the argument, who killed Captain Denny and why was he killed.

Although it’s a dark plot, it was delightful to see the characters from Pride and Prejudice come alive again. Fitzwilliam as charming as always, Elizabeth the most gracious and of course the snippy Lydia constantly wanting to be the center of attraction and finally George, always the bad apple and rotten more and more as the days go by. Who can forget Georgiana - Fitzwilliam's sister - who had gone through a pain from her childish love failure but matured to a beautiful woman. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the series and the plot unfold. It was amusing to see George try to best Fitzwilliam as usual but to his loss.

Since watching the TV Series, I bought the book but hadn't had a chance to read it yet. However, I would recommend you, my wise readers, watch the series. It's on Netflix. And hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed.

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