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National Margarita Day Feb 22Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Definite pick for this book. A beginning of a great series.

This is the first book in the series titled "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" written by Irish author Michael Scott and published in 2007. I picked this book for its cover - with all the symbols and scrolls - it intrigued me enough to go for it. And I ended up reading the entire series as well. :) The books are primarily based on Nicholas "Nick" Flamel, a 14th century French scribe and manuscript-seller and his wife Perenelle "Perry" Flamel, who commission religious sculptures among her other charities. Both were famous posthumously, primarily around the 17th century for being alchemists and their search for Philosopher's Stone and Immortality - many of the rumors being false.  Scott was smart enough to bank on that rumor into a six-book fantasy novel. In the process he immortalized not only Perenelle and Nicholas but many other legendary and some mythological (Irish, Greek, Egyptian and even Biblical) characters in these books. Here is my take on the first book titled aptly as "The Alchemyst"  - obviously referring to Nicholas Flamel.



It wasn’t any normal day for Sophie and Josh Newman, 15 year old twins, working at their summer jobs. Josh works at The Small Book Shop owned by Nick and Perry. Sophie works across the street to the book store in The Coffee Cup. Why isn't it a normal day then? Well, first of all they come to know that Nick and Perry are no ordinary humans, but famed immortals Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, living an anonymous life in the city of San Francisco.  They have been in possession of a book, The Codex - or The Book of Abraham the Mage - which has the secret that is keeping him and Perry alive for 700 years. Dr. John Dee (based on the legendary John Dee who was a 16th century English Mathematician, Astronomer, Astrologer, Philosopher, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and also an alchemist himself) comes in search of the book to The Small Book Shop. In a stand-off between Nick and Dee, Josh ends up clutching the last two pages of the book while Dee escapes with the book, after destroying the book store along with Perry. Dee however would need the last two pages which are critical for his ultimate goal and pursues them. Thus begins the adventure of Sophie and Josh landing them in the middle of the greatest legends of all the time.

In their journey they get to meet some of the powerful people known through centuries - Scathach, from Irish mythology a Scottish Warrior Woman commonly known as The Shadow or Warrior Maid or a Vampire; Hekate, a Greek Goddess often depicted in triple form (maiden in the morning, matron in the afternoon and crone in the evening); Hekate's Shadowrealm; Yggdrasil, mythical tree connecting the nine worlds in Norse Cosmology (In the book it is depicted that the life and power of Hekate is linked to Yggdrasil); Bastet, Egyptian Goddess of Cats; Morrigan, Irish Goddess of battle primarily taking the form of a Crow; The Witch of Endor, a Biblical Hebrew or Medium and the famed Excalibur, legendary Sword of King Arthur. Twins come to know that they are both born with magical potential that need to be unlocked so they can fight Dee and whatever his final agenda is. Now that their identities are revealed Dee wants to get hold of them as well. Some of these legends aid the twins and Nick, while some work against them in consort with Dee to capture the twins and the missing pages.

Thus continues the journey that brings out the best and worst in all of them - courage, goodness, jealousy, anger, bitterness, separation and above all will to fight everything and come out winning.  They have to not only stop Dee for using the Codex for his ulterior goal but also get the book back so they can rescue Perry and save both of them, for without the book Nick cannot create the formula to stay alive. The book ends with Nick, the Twins and Scathach travel to Paris for LA through Leygates while Perenelle is imprisoned in the abandoned Alcatraz guarded by The Sphinx, alive. Certainly promising another adventure in the next book.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Review of Book 1 (The Land of Stories - The Wishing Spell), go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
My Recommendation: Absolutely for kids ages 10+ and above and adults who want to visit the fairy-tale land. ;)

The second book in the series of The Land Of Stories book was published in 2013. Chris Colfer takes us through the fairy-tale land again but this time there is a sinister evil that would seem to be undefeatable.



"My most scientific analysis, with all means of science and technology in mind, is that it's magic" - quoted Conner, one of Alex's earlier comments. Indeed it was magic in those lands there - some good, some evil. In this book as well, Alex and Conner Bailey - the twins - set on another magical adventure. However, this time they travel to get their mother back as well as fight to save both the worlds.

On the day when Bob, the doctor that Charlotte had been dating since a year or so, Charlotte goes missing. Fairy Godmother - The twins' grandmother - puts them on house arrest with Mother Goose and Xanthus - fire fairy - to watch over. Twins come to know that The Enchantress has kidnapped their mother from this world and taken her to the fairy-tale land. Why would someone kidnap their mother? How could someone other than few select fairies from fairy-tale land come into this world? To figure out the reasons behind, the Twins once again enter the fair-tale world.

They seek help of Froggy (aka Prince Charles Charming), Red Riding Hood aka Red, Goldilocks and Jack (famous for the Beanstalk and Giant). They learn that The Enchantress "Ezmia" is the evil witch who covets to gain both the worlds, but first she need to conquer this world. Ezmia has been systematically destroying each of the kingdoms in the Fairy-Tale Land thus trying to get the kings and queens to submit to her. Where does the role of Charlotte falls was still a huge question for the Twins. But, first they have to find out how to defeat Ezmia so their mother can be rescued. They look into the book "Myths, Legends and Collecting Spells" for a clue and find The Wand of Wonderment - the book mentions that whoever holds it will become invincible. They determine that it means that it can be used to stop Ezmia.

However to make The Wand of Wonderment one would need the six most prized possessions of the six most hated people in the world (aka the fairy-tale land). The little entourage of 6 people set out on this journey to acquire the different articles needed for the Wand. In the process they come across other fairy-tale characters and learn some hidden truths and some exposed lies. Will the journey give them what they want, free their mother and save both worlds? Well, read for yourself and see what happens next.

You will be surprised to know who really is Rumpelstiltskin, what was Snow Queen (from Snow White and Seven Dwarves) upto now, why has wicked stepmother behaved so badly towards Cinderella, how do Belle (of Beauty and the Beast) and the Beast relate to Sleeping Beauty, why is the Enchantress making all those spinning wheels, what made Enchantress so evil, who really is the singing harp that Jack found long ago in the Giant's castle up the Beanstalk and above all what is the most prized possession of Ezmia that will eventually cause her downfall. Oh not to forget the fate of Alex and Conner towards the end of the story - an interesting twist.

Just like any adventure, this book also comes with a few bumps. A whole chapter of Alex dreaming and trying to figure out the answer could have been removed. At times Conner is really side-lined by Alex. Would have been nice to give Conner the credit he is due for. Red really comes across obnoxious - perhaps the future books may tame her well - but it was getting under my nerves to read her character. Also there are three characters that Ezmia speaks of - Baker, Locksmith and Soldier - wonder which fairy-tales characters they would be related to. It would have been nice to see a connection on them too - perhaps the future books will shed light.

That said, another good book to pick up and enjoy the ride with Alex and Conner.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Published in 2008, this work by Nicholas Sparks was filmed in 2012 as well. As far as I know and those that I have read, this is the only book in which Sparks portrays fate and destiny. However, it's not like other fantasy novels where fate and destiny is inter-twined with magic or mystery, but stays much much closer to reality. However, one wonders if some magic is involved. :)



The story is about Logan Thibault, a U. S. Marine who walks across the United States in search of the girl in a photograph that he found in his tenure in Iraq. A photo that turns into a lucky charm for him, even saves him from death more than once. A conversation with his friend, Victor, puts him into this journey - search for the girl. Beginning at Colorado, accompanied by his dog Zeus, he eventually reaches North Carolina where he meets the girl from the picture.

Elizabeth "Beth" Green, divorced and with a son Ben, lives with her grandmother and running a dog kennel. Her ex-husband, Deputy Keith Clayton, has not been the best husband or father, and even after divorced interfered with their lives. Logan runs into Clayton in the outskirts of Hampton where he catches Clayton being particularly uncivilized with a few girls lounging there. The run-in does not leave a good taste in Clayton's mouth and he continues to confront Logan.

Logan is fighting his daemons, and so is Beth. Yet they fall for each other. However, Logan is holding back the actual reason he was staying in Hampton while Clayton figures it out and begins to use it against him to turn Beth's feelings. In all this mix, is the budding relationship between Logan and Ben. What follows is how Logan fights his daemons, how Beth commits to her heart, how Ben bonds to Logan and how they all stand together against Clayton.

Simple human emotions, complex relationships and emotional feelings twine through the plot making it another of Sparks romantic touch. Oh, I always cry buckets when I read his novels. But in this particular one I not only cried, but also felt one with the characters. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am sure the movie has been a pleasure to watch as well. The book I have is the re-print of the original when the movie was made.

However, I do wish Sparks goes beyond North Carolina in his books. All his books end in North Carolina and always one of the key character dies in the end. That routine in the plot is perhaps is his success since 11 of his 19 books have been made to movies, successful ones even. Yet, I do wish if he could expand a bit more. That said, like any Sparks novel, this is another charming one to be picked and read. Go for it!!

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Yes, go for it!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of Book I, go here.

The second and final book of The Majat Code series (at least I am thinking it is final), titled The Guild Of Assassins was also published in 2014. I liked the conclusion well, although expected it a bit. Another adventure into the fantasy world of The Guild and the lives of Aghat Mai and Aghat Kara indeed.



This book follows more on the fate of Aghat Mai and The Guild rather than about the empire and the King who is defending it against the Kaddim armies. Kara, a Diamond Majat, achieved freedom from the Guild. However in getting her freedom, Aghat Mai had committed a crime that is punishable according to The Guild. So he heads back to The Guild to face the music, so to speak. He comes with a high reputation that he had earned at a very young age with two blows named after his rune, Viper - Viper's Sting to kill the opponent and Viper's Kiss to save the opponent but have the onlookers to think it was deadly. His precision in technique and his strategy adds only to the power he wears as a cloak.

He returns to The Guild, but not alone. He is accompanies by Prince Kyth, Aghat Kara, Keeper Egey Bashi, Truth Seeker Ella and Mother Keeper. Although everyone arrives at The Guild in different paths, they still form a unit in defending Mai and Kara for the valuable services they have provided to the empire as well as their powers that can be used successfully against the Kaddim armies. The journey also reveals a lot of truth in the feelings within Kyth, Kara and Mai. Who truly loves whom and what the battle means in the end. Kara is confused about her pull towards Mai and her love or loyalty towards Kyth. Kyth is stubborn as hell that his infatuation is love and fails in many cases to see how that causes trouble to Kara. Mai restrains his feelings the betterment of The Guild. Yet they all unite to save the Empire and the Guild.

With ruthless politics, hidden agendas, killer strategies, forgotten code, mystery armies and confused hearts - all form the thread that weaves through the characters making it a complete plot.

As I mentioned in my previous review of Part I, the flaws still hold good here too. However one more point I want to add is the childish nature of Prince Kyth. He seems to forget at times that he is the Crown Prince and instead behaves like a 14 year old on hormone high. Although it was a good characterization in book 1, he doesn’t seem to have matured much until towards the end in book 2. Using Kara and her mis-guided feelings like a toy was not something I wanted to continue to see in book 2 as well. Although at the end he realizes and changes, but it would have been much better of the change had been shown early-on. This could have reduced the volume of the book further more.

All in all, another good book to pick up for those lazy days.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: To know the fate of Aghat Mai and The Guild, to travel through their world again, definitely pick it up.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

This is the first book the series written by Anna Kashina and published in 2014. I hadnt read any of her books before but something about this wanted me to try. Going in blindfolded, I can say I did love the theme,  plot, characters and the way the story flowed through.  A fantasy series that could potentially become an epic if tailored well and characters expanded more.



Prince Kythar Dorn - Kyth - has a secret gift, mastering the wind to his will, that if exposed would be the end of their legacy and rule. Yet he thrives to master it. Aghat Kara, a Diamond warrior of the Majat Guild, was serviced to protect Prince Kyth for a certain period of time. However when the tenure ends, Prince Kythar wants to retain her services but need to negotiate with her Guild. In the meantime they are attacked by Kaddim Tolos and his men to capture the Prince, whom they defeat despite the Orben weapons and the "power to defeat" possessed by Kaddim Tolos and his men. Mother Keeper, Magister Egey Bashi and King Evan have reason to feel panicked, not because there was an attempt to kidnap the heir but the ancient brotherhood of Kaddim has risen. They will stop at nothing to overpower this regime as they had done the Old Empire. For Kara, it’s a conflict between duty and honor but also love, a love that she fails to realize, or acknowledge.

A parallel story about Ella, the truth seeker, runs along where she has a fascination for Aghat Mai - the leader of King's Majat Pentade who protect the King. Will she seek the truth or love in the end? A journey that we also follow and root for her in whatever path she seeks. The story continues with similar plots that one must have seen in other books - of betrayal, of conquest, of love, of honor, of duty and facing consequences based on what you choose. However this is a well-woven plot that closes into a beautiful picture at the end. Needless to say there is a sequel to it to get a closure on the fate of Aghat Kara and the entire Majat Guild.

A few points to quote the negative sides of the book. First, the volume of the book - A few chapters and some repetitive descriptions could have shortened to make it a little more cohesive. Second, the romance portion - this book was put in the romance / mystery section in the book store. It should have been placed in the Fiction or Fantasy section instead to get its right audience. Third, character weaknesses are so misplaced in few occasions. If they could have been tweaked it would be a much better course. Fourth, scenic descriptions - A few times I felt that we were moving through the same lands and roads although the story says it otherwise. That disconnect definitely could have been corrected.

All in all a good book to pick up and not regret.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Don’t think it's another one of those books with warriors, ninjas, princes, magic, love  and war. You will be surprised. Do pick it up next time you come across
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Another book that I bought for its book cover was this book, City Bones - the first in The Mortal Instruments series - by Cassandra Clare. And for the comment by Stephanie Meyer on the top of the book. Perhaps this time my instincts failed. I wasn’t very impressed by the book, although it has been made to a movie now. Here’s my take on the book.



It was a very normal evening out with her friend for Clary Fray. She and her friend Simon went to the Pandemonium Club for a dance and some fun. Little did Clary know that the fun was about to turn into an adventure that she would have never dreamt of. She witnesses the murder of a vampire by three Shadowhunters whom she is the only one seems to be seeing them. No one else, not Simon not the bouncer or the people around. A first time encounter with three of the Shadowhunters - Jace, Isabelle and Alec - for Clary that changed the course of her life. Shortly after this encounter her mother, Jocelyn, vanishes; more like kidnapped by someone that she would need a lot of help from Shadowhunters to rescue her from. After a near-death escape from the daemons, Jace takes her to The Institute to unravel this mystery and aid her in finding her mom.

The story proceeds further revealing vampires aka downworlders, shadowhunters, daemons and the werewolves - pulling Clary further and further to this intriguing world. What happened to her mother? Who was Valentine? Why was he bent on taking Clary and her mother? Is she a Shadowhunter too? What is Luke, Joceyln's boyfriend, has anything to do with this? In finding answers to these questions, Clary also falls for Jace and shares her first kiss with him. But what is Jace to her? Will she sacrifice her feelings once she knows the truth? Simon, being a good friend and in love with Clary, follows her blindly everywhere, protecting her, rescuing her. What will become of his fate? What happens in the City of Bones?

Plot is interesting, intriguing and requires quite a bit of imagination for one to follow while reading it. However, there was a disconnect for me between the characters, lacked genuinity there. A bit gory for a book that targets teenagers. Didn’t like the fact about depicting incest love. However, I would still read the remaining books in the series for the sake of my principle and also hoping that the future books would redeem themselves of my opinion.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
My Recommendation: More of a read for adults over 20 years than a teenager. Interesting pick when you don’t have anything else to read.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

For the review on the first book, His Wicked Reputation, go here.

The second book in the Wicked Trilogy by Madeline Hunter is titled Tall, Dark and Wicked. Since I read the first one, I couldn’t resist myself to the read the next one to satisfy my curiosity. The trilogy follows with the story of Lord Ywain Hemingford - Ives - second and youngest legitimate son of the late Duke of Aylesbury.



He is a well-known barrister who fights on Her Majesty's side and more than often trying to keep his older brother, Lance - current Duke of Aylesbury, out of trouble. "Loyal, Good-humored, Intelligent, Uninhibited, Passionate and Accommodating" - just as he was pondering on the six qualities he jotted down that he would like to see in his mistress, gets interrupted by a curious case brought to him by one Padua Belvoir. She appeals to him to defend her estranged father who she believes is wrongly accused of a crime and also refuses to have someone defend him. Unfortunately for Padua, Ives had already been assigned to this case but as a prosecutor. However, he does insist on helping her in any way he could except the way she wants.

What follows is the cat and mouse chase between the culprits and the law in trying to prove Padua's father's innocence, between Ives and Padua in exploring the sparks that ignited during their first meet, between Her Majesty's laws and Ives personal ethics, between the accidental involvement of her father in a brothel place and it being just a false front for something bigger. In all this, Ives realizes Padua is everything he want in as his mistress fulfilling all the six qualities he had written down, but does he still want her as his mistress or more. What is he secret Padua's father is holding or whoever is holding on him that is making him to refuse any help. Is all this linked to whoever killed Percy, Ives oldest brother. Does it lead to the confirmation or dis-abandonment of the rumor.

Read through the book to know more. I guarantee it would be a fun ride with lots of interesting avenues explored. **Wicked Grin**

Stars: 3.5 / 5
My Recommendation: If you are interested in romance novels and set in periods / eras, then this is definitely the book to go to.
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season II

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

Introduction of the series in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.

My obsession with this period set detective series continues to the second season. In each of these episodes we get to glimpse the inventions and discoveries to modern world, meet with famous people and solve interesting murders.



Episode 1: Murdoch investigates a murder when Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and the enitre troupe come to Toronto for their performances. Murdoch introduces the concept of collecting trace evidence like hair, dust, particles, etc. He uses a rudimentary form of applying glue over pieces of wax paper and collecting them, bagging and tagging them. Constable Crabtree uses the similar concept to create something similar to scotch tape, although he calls it as "Constable Crabtree's Household Adhesive strips" (obviously a name that would have been abbreviated. :))

Episode 2: Murdoch demonstrates his invention of a torch light that emits UV Light which would in future be the best equipment to see evidence of fluids and any other external liquids or finger prints at a crime scene that we normally cannot see with naked eye. The Scotland Yard detective who joins Murdoch in this case presents a game of Snakes and Ladders to the constables whose Checkers game he had destroyed out of frustration. It becomes a rave at the precinct much to the delight of everyone except for Inspector Brackenreid.

Episode 3: Murdoch demonstrates the concept of Rontgen's Rays, also called as X-Rays, to see thru solid objects. His equipment is really elaborate....it amazes how easy it is to use them now. The episode ends with Murdoch in future where he sees himself with a family in the same area where this crime was committed. A future with cars but still past for this time of the world we are in in the series.

Episode 4: This episode Murdoch comes face to face with Houdini, a younger version, when he was yet to become famous.

Episode 5: One gets to see the "Electric Carriage" which is described as one of the first in the city. Murdoch calls it, "That's quite a contraption."

Episode 6: The word “hunch” gets introduced into the Detective Murdoch’s dictionary. Constable Crabtree mentions that it's what young people were using lately. :)

Episode 7: In the beginning of the episode Detective Murdoch experiments based on principles used by Mongol Warriors in the 13th century where they had the ability to not get affected by arrows. Towards the end we get to see his self-made Bullet Proof Vest based on the same principle. Per his explanation, it contains layers and layers and layers of silk and for extra measure surrounded by a metal plate.

Episode 8: Cyanide is frequently referred to as Prussic Acid in this episode; it's chemical name. It also shows Murdoch working on the murder of a professor who was building his own Babbage’s Analytical Engine which could solve complex mathematical problems at a speed far beyond human. This would be perhaps predecessor for our computers now. One of the suspect also demonstrates the first film projector manufactured by Thomas Edison. They also show about a company manufacturing Automatons AKA Robots but not perfected yet as the dead professor was working on making it to think, analyze and react.

Episode 9: Detective Murdoch is seen working on creating a pair of goggles that he can use to see at night. Incidentally Inspector Brackenreid calls it Night Vision Goggles…which pretty much is the modern name.

Episode 10: The episode shows a network of telegraph operators and explains how they are interconnected, communicate and chat. Another predecessor to modern day internet and world wide web. Has the whole technology of internet based on this old system of communication? Perhaps…

Episode 12: The episode ends with Detective Murdoch giving a book called “From the earth to the moon” to a kid and explains the possibility of building something that could take them to moon. He does mention that perhaps it may happen in future, not in his lifetime but in the kid’s lifetime. And we know we have seen that happening in early 20th century the same - man stepping foot on the moon.

Episode 13: Aluminum is first introduced in this episode as the new metal revolutionizing in manufacturing. And century later we use it everywhere…for good or for worse. The beginnings of human mannerisms being used in investigation is also demonstrated. And we get to see them flying in a hot air balloon, a massive one indeed.

Stars: 4/5
My Recommendation: A must watch
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Heather Graham was another author that I got an opportunity to meet at Romance Writers Association's Annual meet in NYC last year. She was very charming and patient with everyone in answering their questions. I remember one lady taking away all her time even after the event was done, but she did not shoo her away. Instead gave that lady her extra attention. It humbled me at that gesture.  She writes books as Heather Graham, Heather Graham Pozzessere and Shannon Drake. However, I don’t remember reading any of her books. Now that I met her, I gave a shot at reading the signed copy of The Silenced I got from her that day.



The Silenced is the 15th book in the Krewe of Hunters series published in 2015. Krewe are a secret FBI unit, the members of which know a little of the otherworldly. Each member of the unit has honed a particular psychic talent of their own making them the paranormal investigating team. Headed by Adam Harrison, this Krewe had aided different law enforcement agencies in solving cases that involved paranormal activities.



Meg Murray, an FBI agent newbie, gets assigned to special agent Matt Bosworth, a member from Krewe, when her childhood friend Lara goes missing. Lara Mayhew was working as Congressman Ian Walker's media assistant at the time of her missing. The last thing Meg heard of her was a brief message that she was leaving Washington and heading home back to Richmond. Meg and Matt also come to know that the day she went missing she had resigned from her job too. At the same time Krewe team come across a flurry of bodies washing up on the sides of Potomac River, seemingly a work of a serial killer.

Meg's suspicions begin to take better of her and fears that Lara might have been taken by this serial killer. Together they trace the same path that Meg and Lara had taken several times, traveling from Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg, visiting battlefields and graveyards. In the process they try to uncover hidden secrets, come across otherworldly creatures and getting closer to each other as well. All their attempts of finding Lara before its too late puts them right in the path of the serial killer.


How they will move past the serial killer in finding Lara, uncover the truth of scandal in the Congressman's office and bring justice is the rest of the story. A spine-chilling narration that kept me up quite a few nights. Well written by Heather Graham. Most definitely I will be exploring her other works as well.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Yes, pick it up for a mystery involving paranormal activities.
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: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, angels and humans.

Archangel's Shadows is the 7th book in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh, a New Zealand author of Indian descent. I have never read any of her books prior to this one. Last year at the  Romance Writer's Association Annual Meeting in NYC, I got an opportunity to meet her. She was very pleasant to meet with, all decked in ravishing red. :) And I acquired this signed book that day. Since I had it, I ended up reading it.



At first I thought, Oh great! Another novel on vampires and demons. But I put on a positive thought  and continued to read. The series is written in a world which was ruled by archangels, commanding both mortals and immortals alike. Guild Hunters are the soldiers caught in between immortals and mortals, protecting both from rogue vampires, archangels and even humans.  Ashwini Taj, Ash, the mortal Guild Hunter pairs up with Javier, a two-hundred and forty seven year old vampire in this book.



A battle between archangels had occurred and New York had barely survived it. Now the city was recovering as well Ash who got sliced up in the battle. She gets assigned to a case of missing animals in Vampire Quarters along with Javier. What seemed to be a simple case of animals missing or being desiccated turns out to be otherwise when they get tasked by an Angel, Illium (aka Bluebell), of a vampire misusing his cattle - meaning his human blood donors living with him. Initially they accept to look into it assuming it to be a disgruntled donor complaining against the vampire but when Janvier's friend , Felicity, goes missing as well. Ash and Javier move into the deeper world of Vampire Quarter to ferret out the killer bringing justice to Felicity and other human donors. In the meanwhile they fight the attraction they have towards each other, something that is not possible to explore on considering one of them is an immortal. And there are secrets they hold dear to their heart as well that when revealed may cause unbearable consequences.

A parallel plot proceeds along where the Archangel Raphael, his consort Elena and his second in command Dmitri deal with the archangelic politics, helping the people of New York city deal with the aftermath of the battle and working towards bringing the remaining archangels under one roof in unity.

Will the Archangels unite under Raphael, for not at least? Will Ash and Javier bring justice to Felicity? What are the secrets they hold that might cause unbearable consequences? Will they be able to surpass it and find the love they have been fighting for so long? Will the Archangel Raphael and Dmitri succeed in calming the battered city? Well, read the book to find the answers.  A plot with several twists but easy to follow even if you havent read the series from the beginning. Adding this book to my library and marked for future to pick the series from the beginning, and perhaps other books by Nalini Singh. Enjoy the read!!
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones to 21st Century items - Season I

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

I introduced this series in my reviews a while ago here. Here is the second post in the series highlighting some of the famous personalities, inventions and stepping stones to 21st Century. This is from Season I, enjoy the read and perhaps you might want to watch the series as well.



Episode 1: Conversion of DC to AC is introduced in this episode albeit it's called Niagara Current. We catch a glimpse of Beginnings of Animal Rights Activists when a lady fights for the dog that was being used in the demonstration of conversion from DC to AC. Detective Murdoch meets the great inventor Nikola Tesla who was the spearhead in developing Alternating Current. Tesla demonstrates the first Telegraph across the seas. Interesting conversation occurs between Tesla and Murdoch about sending voice and images over waves leading them to call it telakinetiscope when Tesla says, "Too many syllables. Call it Tela-Vision. Huh!". The episode also shows the first Surveillance equipment where Tesla and Murdoch invent a huge box that they use to record the killer being blackmailed by the agent of police. Towards the closure of the episode, Dr. Ogden says, "So, is the Case Closed? It's a good expression. Case Closed. It's strong. I should remember it" - Perhaps the first time the expression came up as well. The episode closes with usage of Telegraph from New York to Toronto.
About remaining episodes behind the cut...Collapse )


Stars: 4/5
My Recommendation: Very interesting watch!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
My Recommendation: If you are an avid Nora Roberts fan like me, go for it! A light read for any day.



This was the first book in The Guardians Trilogy by Nora Roberts published in 2015. I met her in-person last year when she came to the Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference in New York City. It was such a pleasure to see her as she is one of my favorite authors. Her books have powerful plots, strong characters and unexpected twists that keep you on the edge. She always had a flair with her words, some of them stuck to my brain and were very memorable. However in past few years there has been a shift in the way she presents her stories, perhaps around the time The Bride Quartet books that were published in 2009.

Less powerful plots, not very strong characters, simple language sometimes coming closer to an amateur writer’s words, and seldom see any unexpected twists with more than often one can guess what the ending is before one finishes the book. It was disheartening to see the change. Well not all books she write since 2009 were seem changed, but quite a few I felt so. Of course, I only read her books that are published under Nora Roberts, so cant speak for the books published under J. D. Robb. Wonder why she made the change, but I always hoped she would come back with a book in the old way. Finally this book seems to be proving that my wait is over. I simply loved it.

Three goddesses of moon create three stars, one of fire, one of ice and one of water to celebrate the rise of their new queen. To keep them from the evil goddess, they place them in the sky. But they fall down to unknown places, putting the world in danger. Now six people – three women and three men – have to band together, earn trust, experience love, find the stars and fight the evil goddess. They are the Seer – Sasha; the Sorcerer – Bran, the Werewolf – Riley, the immortal – Doyle, the Time and Space Traveler – Sawyer and the Mermaid – Annika.

In the first book we get to meet all the six, at the same time get to see the lives of Sasha Riggs and Bran Killian. An artist, an excellent one, by profession, Sasha’s vision take her to the Greek Island of Corfu. Where she meets with the rest of the crew along with her Bran. The six learn to band together, trust each other and at the same time search for the first star – The Fire Star. There are secrets they keep in the beginning, for good, but they overcome that hurdle to bond and form a unity. The journey then follows about how they find the star, fight the goddess and come out in flying colors, literally.

An excellent light read, with the old way of her writing. However, it does remind me of two other series that Nora Roberts had written in the past – Stars of Mithra and The Circle Trilogy. Almost like a combination of both became this series. Have to wait and read the remaining two how they pan out and if my hunch indeed becomes right!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4/5
My Recommendation: Must pick if you are an avid fan of historical fiction.

Have you ever picked a book just because you like the lead character’s name? Well, I did just that when I picked this book titled Three Emperors by William Dietrich. Knowing that it is 7th book in the series, I still wanted to read it just because the lead character is called as Ethan. I love Ethan Hunt character from Mission Impossible series because of his adventures and also because it’s played by Tom Cruise. Ergo I picked Ethan Gage’s historical adventure in The Three Emperors. Call it karma or coincidence, if Ethan Hunt was born in the Napoleon era he probably would have been Ethan Gage. If the fictional world was real, then perhaps Ethan Gage would be an ancestor for Ethan Hunt. I am not kidding, these two characters remind me of each other so much. Similar kind of adventures, similar kind of rogue missions, similar way of being in the middle of a crisis every time – its so surreal that I forgot for a second there that I was comparing a fictional book character with a fictional film character. No need to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.



The story starts after the naval battle of Trafalgar from which Ethan Gage – an American adventurer, his Egyptian wife Astiza and son Harry escape. However, they get separated. Astiza along with her son Harry, travels one path to Prague in search of legendry Brazen Head as well as her husband Ethan. In the process she comes across Primus Fulcanelli, a Latin scholar, who turns out to be more than a bishop. Her journey with Primus lands her into Golden Lane and into hands of a dangerous alchemist Auric. Betrayed by Primus, she trades alchemy for the safety of herself and her child waiting for her husband to reach her and in the process escape the clutches of the cruel Auric and vengeful Primus.

In the meanwhile Ethan is traveling another path, trying to steer clear of the Three Emperors – Austrians, Russians and French so he doesn’t get used as bait or ally, playing ping pong with him as needed. He also needs to escape the spiteful Catherine Marceau and her general Pasques, spies who are bent upon finding him and killing him. Faking his death he lands into a Jewish Napoleonic solder Gideon Dray and his father Aaron, who help him reach Astiza. The rest of the story unfolds in the searching for clues in Durendal – Sword of Roland, reunion with Astiza and Harry, escape all the emperors and spies and finally find the Brazen Head – a truth machine.

A true adventure that takes you through the pages of history simultaneously making you wonder if you are really there. The entire book kept me on edge, not wanting to put down the book. An enjoyable read and a must for anyone who is interested in historical fictions.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
My Recommendation: Absolutely for kids ages 10+ and above



I came across this series of the books, The Land Of Stories, during Thanksgiving Sale, which were signed by the author too. I had not heard of this author but the book title and the cover intrigued me enough to by the entire series. Written by Chris Colfer, The Wishing Spell is the first book of the four part series. Later on a little google search pointed me to a 25 year old young man, famed for his role as Kurt Hummel on the television series Glee, who wrote these children’s books too. A talented one at such a young age. I hope we get to see more works from him, on page and on screen, both. Here is my take on the first book in the series.

Just like the name says, it’s a story in Land of Stories, where all the fairy tales come true. I always wondered what happened when a pauper Cinderella married Prince Charming, if her life as Queen was happily ever after or if it was hard; what made Evil Queen so evil; How did Rapunzel survive being outside the tower; did Goldilocks escape the bears hurting them or killing them or unscathed? Many a times I wondered on the “after” part of Happily Ever After in these fairy tales that we grew up with. I am pleased to see that Chris Colfer has taken that next step by coming up with his version of what happens “after”. But first who opened the door to this Land? – The Twins Alex (girl) and Conner (boy) Bailey.

They live in a rental home with their mother after their father had passed away and they had to go thru a series of hardships. Their mother tries to make ends meet but it comes with a cost of her working all the time. The only time they look forward to was the time they spent with their grandmother who would spin amazing tales for her fairy-tale book and also cook delicious meals. For their twelfth birthday, their grandma gifts them her treasured fairy-tale book, the same one she always read from.

That’s when the life of Alex and Conner turned upside down, literally dropping them into the book and into the world of Land of Stories. Albeit accidentally they have fallen, they have to return back to their world. With the help of a frog man, Froggy, they learn about the Wishing Spell that requires eight items to be collected and used together for the Spell to be activated – Cinderella’s Glass Slipper, Saber from deepest Sea, Bark from Red Riding Hood’s Basket, Stony Crown from Savage Lair, Spindle from Sleeping Beauty’s Spinning Wheel, A Lock from Rapunzel’s hair, Jewels from Snow White’s Coffin and finally Tear Drops from a Fairy.

To acquire these the twins take on an extra-ordinary journey through the different kingdoms in the Land of Stories, escaping hurdles and mishaps. In the process they come to see the “after” part of several fairy-tale characters that they grew up reading so much about – Queen Cinderella and King Chance Charming (Charming Kingdom), Queen Sleeping Beauty and King Chase Charming (Sleeping Kingdom), Queen Snow White and King Chandler Charming (Northern Kingdom) – all belonging to the Charming Dynasty but living in their own Kingdoms. Apart from these they come across Corner Kingdom ruled by Queen Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom named after her, then the Mermaid Bay, Dwarf Forests and of course Fairy Kingdom amongst the other smaller kingdoms. They also get to meet Goldilocks who has her own share of troubles with law and Jack, the kid who climbed the Bean Stalk, now a man, and other well-known fairy-tale characters.

As their journey progresses, little do they know that the Evil Queen, is also on their trail looking for the same items, for she wants to use the Wishing Spell for her own reasons. The rest of the story unfolds on how the twins acquire the items, learning the lives of different people they meet along the way, help a few of them where needed, escape the Evil Queen’s attempts on capturing them and also learn the biggest secret of their family. Will they eventually get to use the Wishing Well spell? Will they reach home? What is the secret they learn? How does the lives of all these fairy-tale people intertwine with the twins?

Well, what are you waiting for? Pick up the book and read for yourself. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey and loved every minute knowing the “after” part of Happily Ever After. I am sure you will enjoy too.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

I had read one of Madeline Hunter’s novel a while ago. However, I could not connect to the story as it was period setting that was located in 1800s England. It was a little difficult to connect to the characters, their wardrobe and the terms used from olde English. So, I did not pick up another book of hers after.

However, last year I had an opportunity to meet her in-person when she came to the Romance Writer’s of America’s annual conference in New York City. She was very charming and cheerful. I picked up a signed copy of her then latest novel, His Wicked Reputation, only because she was so enjoyable to speak to. Since I bought it I ended up reading it as well (I don’t normally keep any books in my home, if I had not want to read them). Here is a pic of me with her.


His Wicked Reputation was the first book in The Wicked Trilogy, another historical romance novel. The story revolves around the bastard son of the late Duke of Aylesbury (Lance, Percy and Ives father before Percy became Duke of Aylesbury), Gareth Fitzallen and Eva Russell, a spinster with precarious finances. Gareth comes to Albany Lodge, a residence his dead half-brother Percy was fighting it out, to finally take ownership of the place that was his due. However, he encounters with the pretty Eva Russell who intrigues him more than any other woman he had known. Gareth’s reputation as “Wicked” made Eva determined not to fall for his charm which did not deter Gareth from trying to have her and eventually own her. Eva had set her mind in getting her sister married well sacrificing her life, but never had she imagined that she would be the object of Gareth’s fascination.



In the midst of this tug-of-war romance, Gareth and Eva get embroiled in a conspiracy of lost / stolen paintings worth quite a sum. Lance and Ives, Gareth’s half-brothers, legal sons of late Aylesbury, combine forces with Gareth to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the process, Gareth wins over Eva too, in love, in bed, in hardships and in marriage. However, how much deep was Eva involved in the conspiracy? How much does Gareth know and can forgive? How much will the current Duke of Aylesbury, Lance, willing to look aside knowing Gareth’s interest in Eva? How can Ives, the barrister, save the family as well as their legacy? The plot thickens as the story proceeds answering all these questions neatly tied up in the end like a bow.

There is a sub-plot that follows through the story too. The rumor was that Lance, the current Duke of Aylesbury, killed his brother Percy, for the position and title. Lance suffers all kinds of humiliating questions as well as critical comments. Yet, he does not deny the rumor. So, did he really kill Percy? That question perhaps will get answered when Lance tells his story in one of the sequel books.

As I mentioned before, this time around too I had a bit difficulty in connecting to the terms, characters, setting and details. However, this time I googled a lot to understand the significant ones. That put me back on to the intrigue train and rode me through till the end. By the time I was finished with it, I was ready to pick up the sequel as well as a few other books written by her.

If you are interested in romance novels and set in periods / eras, then this is definitely the book to go to. However, just like how I got bored the first time around it might if you cannot connect to the essence. Enjoyable read, so give it a try!

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.

Prologue: Go here.


Finally I got a chance to go see the much talked about movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Seventh in the series, First in the Third Trilogy. Having seen only 4th, 5th and 6th (First Trilogy) parts of the entire series, I was worried that I would be unable to follow. To my surprising, it was so well shown that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire movie.

As the rest of the movies, this installment also comes with a myriad of actors, some reprised from older installments and some added new – Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and ofcourse the Robots BB-8 and R2-D2.

The plot picks up 30 year after Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi has disappeared. The primary plot is the efforts from different people (friends and foes alike) who are determined to find Luke Skywalker. The First Order and The Resistance avidly look for him during the process which a scavenger, Rey and defected Stormtrooper Finn team up with BB-8, a robot that holds a piece of the map to Luke Skywalker. Rey, Finn and BB-8 escape several attempts of being captured by Kylo Ren and The First Order, eventually end up with Han Solo and Chewbacca who aid them further.

The secondary plot is all about Luke Skywalker, about Rey and her memories past, and Princess Leia – Han Solo’s struggle to accept the unacceptable. Also it opens up questions, unanswered, about Rey, about Finn, and Poe, a resistance pilot, about Ken moving to the dark side, about use of Force by Rey and about Supreme Leader Snoke. The secondary plot is so subtly places, that it neatly fits the big puzzle.

What follows is the beautiful melding of both plots - fight between The First Order and The Resistance, the hunt to find Luke Skywalker and eventually good coming out on the top with a lot of casualties, some shocking and many expected. The movie ends with an open-ended question about “Who is Rey? What is she to Luke? What happens to Snoke and Ken? Where is Luke?”. The second part in this trilogy already has a following.

Director J. J. Abrams has kept with all the significant elements that one identifies with Star Wars, yet added his own touch to make it unique in itself. That includes reprising the Millennium Falcon as well. Oh yes!! It was very funny to hear Rey calling it as a junkyard ship in the movie until Hans reminds them of what it originally was. He depicts Maz Kanta, as a cantina owner who lived over a thousand years, very believable. That touch added another layer of shine to the film. Portraying Ken with the complex character of judge, jury and executor must have not been an easy task for the director. Yet, he mastered it well. All the other human emotions are also timed perfect so nothing is over board and nothing is undermined.

A movie worth watching on the big screen, and thanks to my friend, I could go. Definitely time to bring out the past six installments DVDs and re-watch them again, perhaps a marathon run for one of the upcoming weekends. Don’t miss watching this new one if you get a chance. Enjoy!!

Stars: 5/5
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.

Prologue: Go here.




I have seen the TV Series Murder, She Wrote, all of the episodes, of course re-runs. However had never read any of the books that were written following the series. This is the first one I have read and here is my take on it.

Ghostwriter Donald Bain wrote these fictional novels based on Murder, She Wrote theme and also co-authored the fictional writer Jessica Fletcher in his books. This book titled “A Fatal Feast” was published in 2009. The story has the recurring character George Sutherland, Scotland Yard Inspector who has an eye of Jessica, coming to visit her in Cabot Cove. The mystery revolves around him, obviously, which Jessica helps solve it.

The story begins with Jessica working on getting ready for the upcoming Thanksgiving events at Cabot Cove as well as at her home and also to house her long-time friend George Sutherland who was coming to visit her for the first time. She wanted to give him a peaceful vacation in the midst of all the happy chaos around her – getting an accommodation for George for when he arrives, over-seeing the Thanksgiving pageant, preparing for the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at her home for which invitees keeps on getting increased and Dinner at Senior Center that provides food for homeless and needy on that day. With so much going on, she didn’t expect a murder to fall in her path, literally. And what does she do? Sleuthing and Solving – which she is best at – taking help from George at every chance she gets. The rest of the story is about how she solves the mystery, how her buzzing activities fare and above all how she entertains George and gives him a relaxed vacation as planned.

The book is fairly well written, plot keeps one on the edge and smoothly progressed. However, for me personally, I kept on going back to the TV series in my mind and comparing the book character with the ones portrayed in the series. Some mapped one-to-one but some left me confused. Added to that I was unable to imagine Cabot Cove as the same place depicted on TV on some occasions in the book. Because of these discrepancies it was a little tough to complete the book as easy as I would have wanted to. However, despite that it was a pleasant read.

If you ever come across a book on this series, I would recommend you to pick it up and read it. Very light as a fresh breeze, the book will finish before you know it and you will be left happy.

Stars: 4/5
I cant believe the year has come to an end already. It gave me immense pleasure posting all the wonderful melodies that are my favorites too. It took a lot of searching and compiling before I could post any single song. Not to mention to keep track of already posted songs and movies so there would be no repition. (I might have had one or two repeats thowugh) Yet, every second spent was worthwhile. A wonderful journey I hope that you all enjoyed as well. What is planned for 2016, I have no idea. However, closing the amazing ride with this lovely melody from the 2004 hit Hindi film Dhoom.

This movie was one of those action thrillers where the anti-hero gets the focal point. Very intriguing plot with equally strong music and characters have been the reason for making this film a hit. Also it has given a successful platform to Abhishek Bachchan. Sung by Kunal Ganjawala and Vasundhara Das, the Music for this song was composed by Pritam and Lyrics were penned by Sameer.

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a Happy New Year everyone!!!



Lyrics in Romanized Hindi:

Me Gusto Mucho Bailar Bailar, Quiero Samba Quiero Salsa
Me Gusto Mucho Bailar Bailar, Quiero Samba Quiero Rumba
Fiesta, Latina, It's Driving Wild, Come Salsa With Me, It's Party Time… (2)

(Dekho Diwaanon, Kya Mast Mast Hai Sama
Jo Hai, Abhi Hai, Ye Waqt Waqt Phir Kahaan) …(2)
Nayi Raat Hogi, Nayi Baat Hogi
Naye Kal Ko Aao Kare Ham Kare Ham Kare
Salaame, Salaame, Salaame Kar Le Salaame… (2)
(Dekho Diwaanon… Kare Ham Kare Ham Kare)
Salaame, Salaame, Salaame Kar Le Salaame… (2)

Me Gusto Mucho Bailar Bailar, Quiero Samba Quiero Salsa
Me Gusto Mucho Bailar Bailar, Quiero Samba Quiero Rumba
La La Laai, La La Laai…

Behka Nasheela Nasheela Sama
Ab Hosh Mein Ham Kahaan
Thhokar Mein Apni Hai Saara Jahaan
Ham Toh Abhi Hai Jawaan
Jab Tak Jawaani Hai, Tab Tak Kahaani Hai
Kehna Mera Maan Le
Do Din Ki Masti Hai, Do Din Ki Hasti Hai
Sach Kya Hai Pehchaan Le
Nayi Raat Hogi, Nayi Baat Hogi
Naye Kal Ko Aao Kare Ham Kare Ham Kare
Salaame, Salaame, Salaame Kar Le Salaame…(2)
Fiesta Latina, It's Driving Wild, Come Salsa With Me, It's Party Time… (2)

Saare Zamaane Se Ham Bekhabar
Ham Pe Na Koyi Asar
Jaane Rukega Kahaan Aur Kidhar
Awaargi Ka Safar
Ham Toh Diwaane Hain, Kab Se Begaane Hain
Jo Chaahein Ham Woh Kare
Koyi Sune Kuchh Bhi, Koyi Kahe Kuchh Bhi
Ham Na Kissi Se Darre
Nayi Raat Hogi, Nayi Baat Hogi
Naye Kal Ko Aao Kare Ham Kare Ham Kare
Salaame, Salaame, Salaame Kar Le Salaame… (4)
The countdown to 2016 started. So did the closure to my song-a-day blog theme for 2015. Keeping with the mood, here is the second of the three songs that were going to be part of my closing posts.

From the 1982 hit Telugu film Manchu Pallaki ( = Snow Palanquin), this lovely melody was Sung by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and S. Janaki. Interesting to see younger versions of Rajendra Prasad and Narayana Rao in this movie who played pivotal roles along with the lead actors Chiranjeevi and Suhasini. Music composed by Rajan-Nagendra and Lyrics penned by Gopi. The song depicts not only welcoming new year but also new beginnings in their lives towards betterment and prosperity.



Lyrics in Romanized Telugu:

Nee Kosame Memandaram Nee Raakakai Ee Sambaram
Manchi Chesthaavani.. Manchi Chesthaavani...
Welcome Welcome New Year Good Bye Old Year ||2||
Vache Vache New Year Happy New Year... ||2||
Maa Chenta Nilichi Kanneeru Thidichi Sukha Santulivvu....

Prati Diary Lonu Prati Pegilonu Haayigaa Saagipo.. Gurutu Gaa Vundipo
Challaga Deevinchu Maa Korika Manninchu
Ee Yeti Kanna Pai Yedu Minna Poindi Chedu Raavaali Theepi Ha Ha Ha...

Hey Hey Happy New Year.....
Wish You Happy New Year Good Bye Old Year
Kothaku Epudu Swagatam Paataku Vandanam...

Nee Kosame Memandaram Nee Raakakai Ee Sambaram
Kotha Savatsaram Goppa Shubha Soochakam...
New Year La La Lala....
New Year La La Lala....

Dorikindi Maaku Sarikotha Sneham Nedu Nee Raakathoo
Nindu Nee Navvutho Vennelai Saaginaa Gundelo Vundipo
Snehalu Leka Yemundi Jagati Snehalalona Dagundi Pragati
Nee Kosame Memandaram Nee Raakakai Ee Sambaram
Kotha Savatsaram Goppa Shubha Soochakam...
Welcome Welcome New Year Good Bye Old Year ||2||
Kothaku Epudu Swagatam Paataku Vandanam... ||2||
La La La.....

Magic In Tunes: 12/29/2015 - Happy New Year

The countdown to 2016 started. So did the closure to my song-a-day blog theme for 2015. Keeping with the mood, here is the first of the three songs that were going to be part of my closing posts.

This 1980s hit song titled Happy New Year by Swedish pop group ABBA is a perfect ballad to start with. Sung by Agnetha Faltskog for their album Super Trouper, the English version of the song was released in 1999.



Lyrics in English:

No More Champagne
And The Fireworks Are Through
Here We Are, Me And You
Feeling Lost And Feeling Blue
It's The End Of The Party
And The Morning Seems So Grey
So Unlike Yesterday
Now's The Time For Us To Say

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May We All Have A Vision Now And Then
Of A World Where Every Neighbor Is A Friend
Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May We All Have Our Hopes, Our Will To Try
If We Don't We Might As Well Lay Down And Die
You And I

Sometimes I See
How The Brave New World Arrives
And I See How It Thrives
In The Ashes Of Our Lives
Oh Yes, Man Is A Fool
And He Thinks He'll Be Okay
Dragging On, Feet Of Clay
Never Knowing He's Astray
Keeps On Going Anyway

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May We All Have A Vision Now And Then
Of A World Where Every Neighbor Is A Friend
Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May We All Have Our Hopes, Our Will To Try
If We Don't We Might As Well Lay Down And Die
You And I

Seems To Me Now
That The Dreams We Had Before
Are All Dead, Nothing More
Than Confetti On The Floor
It's The End Of A Decade
In Another Ten Years Time
Who Can Say What We'll Find
What Lies Waiting Down The Line
In The End Of Eighty-Nine

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May We All Have A Vision Now And Then
Of A World Where Every Neighbor Is A Friend
Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May We All Have Our Hopes, Our Will To Try
If We Don't We Might As Well Lay Down And Die
You And I
This beautiful classical number was from the 1963 hit Hindi film Dil Hi To Hai ( = It's Only My/Your Heart) Sung by legendry singer Manna Dey. It is said that when Music composer Roshan recorded this song in Manna Dey's voice, the film makers were not happy. They wanted it to be re-recorded with Mohd. Rafi's voice. However, Roshan had refused to change and kept the song as is giving film makers no choice. Good thing that Roshan went with his gut, for this song was the only one in the movie that went on to become a hit and is still remembered. Although I always thought it was pictured on Dev Anand and the dancer. Instead its pictured on Raj Kapoor and Padmini Priyadarshini. I must be getting confused with another song as usual (which would be a post for another day when I eventually get my wires un-crossed. :P). However, enjoy this lovely song whose Lyrics were penned by Sahir Ludhianvi.



Lyrics in Romanized Hindi:

Aaa Aaa
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag, Chhupaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Chunri Mein Daag, Chhupaaun Kaise, Ghar Jaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Chhupaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag

Ho Gayi Maili Mori Chunariyaa
Kore Badan Si Kori Chunariyaa
Ho Gayi Maili Mori Chunariyaa
Kore Badan Si Kori Chunariyaa
Aa

Jaake Baabul Se, Nazren Milaaun Kaise
Ghar Jaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Chhupaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Chhupaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag

Bhool Gayi Sab Bachan Bidaa Ke
Kho Gayi Main Sasuraal Mein Aake
Bhool Gayi Sab Bachan Bidaa Ke
Kho Gayi Main Sasuraal Mein Aake
Aa

Jaake Baabul Se, Nazren Milaaun Kaise
Ghar Jaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Kori Chunariyaa Aatmaa Mori
Mail Hai Maayaa Jaal

Kori Chunariyaa Aatmaa Mori
Mail Hai Maayaa Jaal
Vo Duniyaa More Baabul Kaa Ghar
Ye Duniyaa Sasuraal
Haan Jaake, Baabul Se, Nazren Milaaun Kaise
Ghar Jaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Chhupaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag
Chhupaaun Kaise
Laagaa, Chunri Mein Daag

Aa Aa
Dhim Ta Na Na Na Dir Dir Taanum
Taa Na Dere Na
Dhim Ta Na Na Na Dir Dir Taan, Dhim Ta Dere Na
Sapt Suran Tin Graam Bansi Baaji
Dir Dir Taani, Taa Ni Ni Da, Ni Da Pa Ma, Pa Ma Ma Ga
Ma Dha Ga Ma Ma Ga Re Sa

Dha Dha Kete Dha Dha Dha Kete Dha Dha Keta Dha Keta
Dharat Paag Padat Nayi Paran
Jhaanjhar Jhanke Jhana Nana Jhana Nana
Dir Dir Ta Tuum Ta Da Ni, Ta Na Na Na Ta Na Na Na
Dhim Ta Na Na Na Na Dir Dir Taam
Interesting pairing of Chandramohan and Vijaya Nirmala in this 1968 hit Telugu movie Bangaru Pichuka ( = Golden Sparrow). I remember this song vaguely and took a while to find it. But finally nailed it. It’s a sweet melody Sung by S. P. Balasubrahmaniam. Music was composed by K. V. Mahadevan and Lyrics penned by Arudra.

My cousin visited me with her family for this Christmas weekend. I was very happy to see extended family in my new home. My nephew poor him got bored since I didn’t have any toys nor any kids to play with. So he entertained himself watching the Harry Potter movies playing on TV all weekend long, during the times we stayed in. Hopefully by the time they visit next time I will have had got some toys so he wont have to watch so much TV.

In honor of the marathon watch (albeit watched in breaks), here is one of the beautiful melodies from the very first movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone released in 2001.

What better song to sing than this famous carol for Christmas every time. Jingle Bells was originally written for Thanksgiving by American song writer James Lord Pierpont in 1857. It was titled as One Horse Open Sleigh. James composed the Music for the song too. Later on this song became more related to Christmas and is played all the time during the Holiday Season, although the lyrics have been altered slightly from the original song as the years passed by. A numerous array of musicians and singers have sung this song in several versions and languages since the time it has been written. (List of all versions here)

Here is the Natalie Cole's version from the 1994 hit American film Miracle of 34th Street. This movie in itself warrants a post of its own, however here's the song from the movie composed by Bruce Broughton



Lyrics in English:

Dashing Through The Snow, In A One-Horse Open Sleigh
Over The Fields We Go, Laughing All The Way
Bells On Bob-Tails Ring, Making Spirits Bright
What Fun It Is To Laugh And Sing In A Sleighing Song Tonight

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way
Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Horse Open Sleigh
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way
Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Horse Open Sleigh

A Day Or Two Ago, I Thought I'd Take A Ride
And Soon Met Mr. Right, Was Seated By My Side
The Horse Was Lean And Lank, Misfortune Seem A Lock
We Got Into A Drifted Bank And Then We Kissed A Lot

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way
Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Horse Open Sleigh
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle, Jingle All The Way
Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Horse Open Sleigh

Jingle, Jingle
Oh, Jingle, Jingle, Jingle

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle, Jingle, Jingle All The Way
Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Horse Open Sleigh
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle, Jingle All The Way
Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride In A One-Horse Open Sleigh

Jingle, Jingle
Jingle, Jingle, Jingle
Oh, Jingle, Jingle, Jingle
In A One-Horse Open Sleigh
Come Talk About The Jingle Bells, Honey
When I posted the song from Rojulu Marayi a while ago, I had mentioned that Waheeda Rehman had acted only in one telugu movie. I stand corrected. Turns out that she acted in four movies although her hit song was from the Rojulu Marayi movie. I came across one of her other movies when I was searching for a song for my nephew's birthday. Incidentally the birthday song from this movie is quite famous and I remember singing it a lot as a kid, unawares of on whom it was pictured. However I found another song from that movie whose music is copied from a well-known hindi song. That is what I am posting here.

From the 1974 Telugu film Bangaru Kalalu ( = Golden Dreams), this song was Sung by P. Susheela. The Music for this song, composed by Saluri Rajeswarara Rao, was based on the hit song Bangle Ke Peeche…Kanta Laga from the 1972 hit Hindi film Samadhi. And the Lyrics were penned by Dasaradhi. Here is the video of the song.



Here is the original Hindi song that was composed by R. D. Burman, Sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Lyrics penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri. This song has been made into several remix versions lately. And incidentally this movie was also remade in Telugu going on to become a major hit. However that would be for another post. For now, the video of the original song.



Oh forgot to mention the other beautiful melody from the movie in question of this post, Bangaru Kalalu. The birthday song titled Puttina Rojuku Jejelu Chitti Papai that I used to hum a lot as a kid. Sung by P. Susheela again making this another memorable one.

Magic In Tunes: 12/23/2015 - Bajirao Mastani

This historical-based Hindi film released this month with considerable amount of hype. It is based on the story of Maratha warrior Peshwa Bajirao and his second wife, a muslim named Mastani. Although based on true history, the movie based its plot primarily from the Marathi novel Raau by Nagnath S. Inamdar. According to history, Peshwa Bajirao was the noted general to the fourth Maratha Chhatrapati Shahu. He had lead the army to conquer north and some part of south and east by expanding the Maratha empire successfully. He waged 41 wars in the process slowly moving up to the then Mughal empire's capital Delhi.

The movie did cover this part of the history which finished pretty much towards the very beginning of the story. It however focused primarily on the love story between the Peshwa and his second wife Mastani whom he meets during his campaign to save Bundelkhand from Mughals. Mastani was the daughter of Bundelkhand king Chhatrasal with his muslim consort. What unfolds next is how he faces troubles with his family when he brings his muslim wife into their life and how he tries to outcome them. He dies of a sudden fever at a very young age of 40 according to history. However, the movie turns it into a romantic end for both Peshwa Bajirao and Mastani.

The plot is set well, lead actors (Ranveer Singh as Peshwa Bajirao, Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai and Deepika Padukone as Mastani), the sets are enormous with beautiful sights and as always bright colors. However, as opposed to his other movies, the songs are surprisingly not that melodious nor catchy. All of the music is set in traditional Indian classical music. Perhaps that is why they are not as catchy. He also re-uses the song Albela Sajan from the 1999 hit Hindi musical film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam ( = I Have Given My Heart To You, My Beloved) here. He also repeated the scene from his 2002 hit Hindi musical Devdas ( = Name of A Boy) where Parvati and Chandramukhi at the Durga Puja and dance together. In this movie, he depicted Kashibai and Mastani finally meet at another Hindu festival in their common courtyard and dance together thus showing some acceptance of the Muslim bride in the family.  Contrary to other movies of his, Sanjay Leela Bansali used a lot of rhyming dialogues to his characters which perhaps balanced the musical gap. However, the dialogues were bordering on being more cheesy than powerful which is what normally one expects in a historical-based movie. Towards the end one was left with a feeling that it was a cheesy romantic movie rather than a story about a powerful historical hero. All in all, a one-time watch that one can wait to watch.

Here's a song titled Pinga from the movie that depicts the traditional Marathi dance, Laavni. This was the song I was mentioning in my review above that was a scene re-used. Music composed by Sanjay Leela Bansali and Shreyas Puranik. Lyrics penned by Siddharth-Garima and Sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Vaishali Made.



Lyrics in Romanized Hindi and Marathi:

Inga Ga Pori; Pinga Ga Pori
Pinga Ga Pori Pinga
Mala Pingyani Maala; Bholavli Raat
Ghalavli Pori Pinga

Latpat Latpat Kamar Daamini Adhar Ragini Ho..
Hey.. Latpat Latpat Kamar Daamini
Adhar Ragini Nirdhar Aayi Kaise Saji Dhaji
Dekho Mere Piya Ki Sanwari Jiya Se Banwari
Mere Angna Mein Dekho Aaj Khila Hai Chaand

Ke Baaje Dhun Jham-Jham Jhamak Jha
To Nache Mann Cham-Cham Chamak Cha
Inga Ga Pori; Pinga Ga Pori
Pinga Ga Pori Pinga (X2)
Aa...

Mere Jiya Mein Utaari
Tune Paini Piya Ki Kataari
Haan.. Tu Jaane Ye Duniyadaari
Main Tu Hoon Bas Mohabbat Ki Maari

Jo Peer Meri Hai So Peer Teri
Are Dono Ki Maang Laage
Sooni Aadhi Aadhi Naa..

Ke Baaje Dhun Jham Jham Jhamak Jhaa
To Naache Mann Cham Cham Chamak Chaa
Ke Baaje Dhun Jham Jham Jhamak Jhaa
To Nache Mann Cham Cham Chamak Chaa

Inga Ga Pori; Pinga Ga Pori
Pinga Ga Pori Pinga (X4)
From the 1978 hit Telugu film Sivaranjani ( = Name Of A Girl) this beautiful melody was Sung by S. P. Balsubrahmanyam. The movie is about a small town girl (portrayed by Jayasudha) who turns into a famous actress. Incidentally this song is sung as an ode to her by one of her greatest fans. The song also shows other real-life actors Anjali Devi, Savitri, Prabha, Shavukaru Janaki, Jayanthi, N. T. Ramarao and M. G. Ramachandran. Music composed by P. Ramesh Naidu and Lyrics penned by C. Narayana Reddy.



Lyrics in Romanized Telugu:

Abhinava Taravo...Na Abhimana Taravoo, Abhinava Taravo
Abhinaya Rasamaya Kantidharavo, Abhinaya Rasamaya Kantidharavo
Manjula Madhukara Shinjaana Sumashara Shinjinee, Shivaranjanee, Shivaranjanee

Adi Darahasamaa Mari Madhumasamaa, Adi Darahasamaa Mari Madhumasamaa
Aa Maruniki Dorikina Avakashamaa
Avi Charanammulaa Shashi Kiranammulaa, Avi Charanammulaa Shashi Kiranammulaa
Naa Taruna Bhavanaa Harinammulaa
Abhinava Taravo...Na Abhimana Taravoo, Abhinava Taravo
Shivaranjanee, Shivaranjanee

Aa Nayanalu Virisina Chalu, Amavasa Nishilo Chandrodayalu
Aa Nayanalu Virisina Chalu, Amavasa Nishilo Chandrodayalu
Aa Leta Nadumu Aadina Chalu, Aa Leta Nadumu Aadina Chalu
Ravalinchunu Padakavitaa Prabandhaalu
Abhinava Taravo...Na Abhimana Taravoo, Abhinava Taravo
Shivaranjanee, Shivaranjanee

Ne Shrungara Lalita Bhangimalo Pongipodure Rushulainaa
Nee Karuna Rasaavishkaranamlo Karigipodure Karkashulainaa
Veeramaa Ne Kupitanetra Sanchaarame, Hasyamaa Neekadi Chitikalona Vashyame
Navarasa Poshana Chanavani, Natanankita Jeevanivani
Ninnu Kolichi Vunnavaada Minnulandu Kunnavaada
Nee Aradhakudanu, Aaswaadakudanu, Anuraktudanu, Nee Priyabhaktudanu

Abhinava Taravo...Na Abhimana Taravoo, Abhinava Taravo
Shivaranjanee, Shivaranjanee

Magic In Tunes: 12/21/2015 - Toy Soldiers

An accidental search got me to this song by Martika that she released as a single in 1988. Although she sings it all through the song, she has her cast members from Kids Incorporated join in chorus. Jennifer Love Hewitt was one of the backup chorus.



Lyrics in English:

Step By Step
Heart To Heart
Left, Right, Left
We All Fall Down
Like Toy Soldiers

It Wasn't My Intention To Mislead You
It Never Should Have Been This Way
What Can I Say
It's True, I Did Extend The Invitation
I Never Knew How Long You'd Stay

When You Hear Temptation Call
It's Your Heart That Takes, Takes The Fall
Won't You Come Out And Play With Me

Step By Step
Heart To Heart
Left, Right, Left
We All Fall Down
Like Toy Soldiers

Bit By Bit
Torn Apart
We Never Win
But The Battle Wages On
For Toy Soldiers

It's Getting Hard To Wake Up In The Morning
My Head Is Spinning Constantly
How Can It Be?
How Could I Be So Blind To This Addiction?
If I Don't Stop, The Next One's Gonna Be Me

Only Emptiness Remains
It Replaces All, All The Pain
Won't You Come Out And Play With Me

Step By Step
Heart To Heart
Left, Right, Left
We All Fall Down
Like Toy Soldiers

Bit By Bit
Torn Apart
We Never Win
But The Battle Wages On
For Toy Soldiers

We Never Win

Only Emptiness Remains
It Replaces All, All The Pain
Won't You Come Out And Play With Me

Step By Step
Heart To Heart
Left, Right, Left
We All Fall Down
Like Toy Soldiers

Bit By Bit
Torn Apart
We Never Win
But The Battle Wages On
For Toy Soldiers

Step By Step
Heart To Heart
Left, Right, Left
We All Fall Down
Like Toy Soldiers

Bit By Bit
Torn Apart
We Never Win
But The Battle Wages On
For Toy Soldiers
On this day my youngest cousin and the last one for our generation in the Devarashetty side of my family got married. I so wanted to be there but for various reasons could not make it. However, here's welcoming the new bride into the family and wishing both of them a wonderful happy life ahead together.

Weddings are a common theme in many Indian movies, so there is no shortage of wedding themed songs as well. Here is a fun melody from the 1996 hit Telugu musical film Pelli Sandadi ( = Wedding Ceremonies) that shows the enthusiasm of two families that want to wed this lovely couple and bind them all together for life. I hope the same happiness and enjoyment surrounded my cousin's wedding too. This song was Sung by S. P. Balausbrahmanyam, M. M. Keeravani and Chitra. Noneother than M. M. Keeravani composed the Music while Chandrabose penned the Lyrics.



Lyrics in Romanized Telugu:

Sarigama Padanisa Raagam, Tvarapadutunnadi Magham
Takadhimi Takadhimi Taalam, Epudepudannadi Melam
Vannela Bommaku Vennela Mamaku Kannulu Kalisina Vainam
Kannula Kalayika Kalale Kalupaga Malupokate Kalyanam
TattaTaraTattaDaam, Shabaash, TattaTaraTattaDaam
TattaTaraTattaDaam, TattaTaraTattaDaam
Sarigama Padanisa Raagam, Tvarapadutunnadi Magham
Takadhimi Takadhimi Taalam, Epudepudannadi Melam

Galamu Kosame Gatramunnadi, Swaramukosame Sarali Vunnadi
Porugu Kosame Paper Unnadi, Athidi Kosame Tithudulu Unnadi, Shabaash
Pootah Kosame Maavi Unnadi, Kootha Kosame Koyilunnadi
Kotha Kosame Currentu Unnadi, Pelli Kosame Perantamunnadi
Taali Kosame Aali Unnadi, Jaaripovutake Choli Unnadi
Brahmacharikai Messulunnavi, Kharmakalutake Bussulunnavi
Nagala Kosame Medalu Unnavi, Sumuhoortaniki Choopulunnavi

Sarigama Padanisa Raagam, Tvarapadutunnadi Magham
Takadhimi Takadhimi Takadhimi Takadhimi Taalam, Epudepudannadi Melam
Vannela Bommaku Vennela Mamaku Kannulu Kalisina Vainam
Kannula Kalayika Kalale Kalupaga Malupokate Kalyanam
TattaTaraTattaDaam, TattaTaraTattaDaam
TattaTaraTattaDaam, TattaTaraTattaDaam

Hrudayanaadamai Madhura Daahamai Edalu Dochutake Paatalunnavi
Polamulopala Kuppa Kuppaga Koolipovutake Flightulunnavi
Ramakotike Bammalunnadi, Premakaatuke Bhaamalunnadi
Queuela Kosame Rationlu Unnadi, Kunuku Kosame Officulunnadi
Madhuravani Maa Venta Unnadi, Natyarani Ma Inta Unnadi
Keeravanila Aartu Unnadi, Baluloni Talentu Unnadi
Viyyamandutake Tondaraunnadi, Okatayyenduke Iddarunnadi

Sarigama Padanisa Raagam, Tvarapadutunnadi Magham
Sarigama Padanisa Raagam, Sarigama Padanisa Raagam
I had heard a few songs that had theme of a crash or an accident, but hadnt one that was so beautifully sung as done by Bruce Springsteen in this song. Its from his fifth album The River released in 1980.



Lyrics in English:

Last Night I Was Out Driving
Coming Home At The End Of The Working Day
I Was Riding Alone Through The Drizzling Rain
On A Deserted Stretch Of A County Two-Lane
When I Came Upon A Wreck On The Highway

There Was Blood And Glass All Over
And There Was Nobody There But Me
As The Rain Tumbled Down Hard And Cold
I Seen A Young Man Lying By The Side Of The Road
He Cried Mister, Won't You Help Me Please

An Ambulance Finally Came And Took Him To Riverside
I Watched As They Drove Him Away
And I Thought Of A Girlfriend Or A Young Wife
And A State Trooper Knocking In The Middle Of The Night
To Say Your Baby Died In A Wreck On The Highway

Sometimes I Sit Up In The Darkness
And I Watch My Baby As She Sleeps
Then I Climb In Bed And I Hold Her Tight
I Just Lay There Awake In The Middle Of The Night
Thinking 'Bout The Wreck On The Highway

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