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

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: If you can stomach the hardcore crimes and raw depiction, these are the series to go for.

The Swedish TV Series Wallander based on Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels were aired on Swedish TV between 2005 and 2013 with three seasons during that time. The same series was made by British TV with the same name during the years 2008 and 2016 with four seasons during that time. Swedish episode had Krister Henriksson in the title role while the British version had Kenneth Branagh.

Swedish Version:



British Version:



Wallander is a detective and police inspector in the small town of Ystad, Sweden. He always tries to find not just the who of a crime but also the why - more vehemently so perhaps to get a meaning for why he does what he does every day. The violence that he sees in the cases he solves never becomes normal for him - every case brings on more reasons for him to continue. Yet, he has a portion of empathy towards the victims that never clouds his judgment nor pulls him back in an investigation. Sometimes he lives in that dark so much that this empathy is the light he thrives on. And this very dark side of his life also takes away his personal life - estranged from his daughter and father.

The plots for each episodes are primarily set in Ystad, Scania near the sudden tip of Sweden. Some of the British episodes have been filmed in Riga, Latvia. Most of the plot lines for the individual episodes are based on the original novels in the Swedish Version. While the British version took only few episodes from the original version for their episodes. Both actors who played the title roles have given stellar performances and lived the part. I cannot discount their acting at all. However, both the versions are quite different. Especially in the portraying of the crime. Swedish version is very raw and sometimes borders on cruelty that makes you cringe. While the British version masked the cruelty a bit to make it easier for the viewers. Yet, I liked both versions.

I have not seen Krister in any other movies however I did see Kenneth in many movies - one being Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the review of which I had recently posted. I still admire him for his role as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart but Wallander set a bar too high even for Kenneth. Sadly the series has ended when both the actors have refused to continue to portray the role of Wallander. Guess the reel was getting too much into real for them. Watch it to know what I mean, however this is not for those lazy nights. These are for those nights when you want to burn down something for an injustice caused.
A good series with grave episodes and equally compelling performance by complementing actors.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Another movie showing grit, determination and how someone copes in any situation

June 1st is celebrated as Global Running Day. I ran / walk 3 miles that day on its honor. What better way to further more honor it but by posting the movie that had the famous line "run, Forest, run" and later became a coping mechanism for Forrest Gump. So, here's to Mr. Gump who did a three-year long running journey across the U.S.



Forest Gump is a 1994 American comedy drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The primary role portrayed by Tom Hanks with added cast of Sally Field, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright and Mykelti Williamson has speared the movie into a blockbuster giving it 6 Academy Awards - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing. And many other awards and accolades.



The film shows several decades in the life of a slow-witted but good-natured, athletically fit man named Forrest Gump from Alabama. During the course of his life he witnesses life-changing events of history, gets to meet famous people , faces situations unthinkable and comes out on top, influences quite a few that he meets along during the years 1944 to 1982. It has some really powerful scenes - where his mother takes all kinds of measures to get Forrest the best normal school, gets involved in anti-war rallies, saves his comrades in war, influences his friend and Lieutenant Dan Taylor, establishes a successful business and eventually takes responsibility for Jenny - his on and off girlfriend. So does the script lasts impressions in your mind just like the scenes. Who can forget the famous line:

My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

I know myself how many times I have quoted that to myself, to motivate and move forward and to bring a light of hope in someone's eyes. Or the lines below that inspired me to start running.

Forrest Gump: [running] I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.
[he stops and turns around]
Young Man Running: Quiet, quiet! He's gonna say something!
Forrest Gump: [pause] I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now.



Or this

Forrest Gump: Sometimes, I guess there just aren't enough rocks.

Or this

Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: Where are you boys from in the world?
Forrest Gump, Bubba: Alabama, sir!
Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: You twins?
Forrest Gump: No, we are not relations Sir.



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Any day I would take this movie over many others and always on top of my list for those down days. If you have not watched it yet, you should watch for yourself to see what I am talking about. Nothing I write will give justice to the eyes and ears.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) I have the original book and am yet to read it although heard there are some differences between both movie and book.
2) The sequel Gump and Co. also written by Winston Groom in 1995 is something on my list to have it and read it.
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 Wolf is the third novella in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh which was originally published as part of the anthology "Angels of Darkness" along-side three other authors in October of 2011 and later on  later published in Angels' Flight in February of 2012 along with three other novellas that Nalini Singh released between 2009 and 2012. The story plot occurs after the plot in Archangel's Kiss - the second book in the series (post link here) - revolving primarily around Noel - the vampire who was badly beaten beyond recognition if not for his ring given by Illium on his broken finger - and Nimra - 600 years old angel ruling the territory of Louisiana under Archangel Raphael.



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 - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

Noel, after healing at The Refuge from the terrible attack he faces at the hands of Anoushka, is sent to serve under the powerful angel Nimra. He believed that everyone thought him to be weak after the terrible ordeal and will break one day, hence has been sent to Nimra to be her toy. For Nimra is famed to be ruthless and cruel since many angels also fear her. However, on having his first real conversation with Nimra, he realizes that he has been transferred to Nimra to help her in finding who was trying to kill her. A potent called "The Midnight" although will not kill an angel can leave her without power and unconscious for a few hours that would be enough for anyone to kill her - was used in the incident which killed her cat, Queen. Now Noel is tasked to secretly investigate folks in her inner circle - as only a few of her courtiers have access to her inner sanctum.

In the process of his investigation, Noel realizes that all that Nimra shows on the outside is not what is inside. He starts falling for her very fast and very strong - especially after all the pain he had gone through and thought he lost the ability to feel. Will Nimra reciprocate the same? Will she be ready to take on a partner as strong as her and capable in every way to rule his own territory one day? But who was trying to kill Nimra? And why? And Noel also is keen on finding what is it that of Nimra that fears the angels as well.

Nalini Singh has created another marvel with this chapter. I would love to see more of Noel and Nimra in the future. When I had read Archangel's Kiss and had come across the chapter that explains the torture done to Noel and the pain he goes through, my heart had gone out to that character. I am glad Nalini Singh wrote a story on him alone giving some relief to the character. A short but pleasureable story.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) The plot is very similar to what Nalini Singh has written a year later in Archangel's Storm (Post link here) - although that plot is in much elaborate than this one.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A little bit of fun with bits and pieces of sadness yet delivering powerful life's lessons.

Last Holiday is a 2006 American comedy film starring Queen Latifah and LL Cool J amongst the others. The movie is about a store assistant who spends all of her funds on a luxury holiday in Europe when she is diagnosed with a rare brain condition with only a few weeks to live. It is loosely based on the 1950 British film of the same name.





When I was vacationing in Virginia Beach with a few friends, we had dinner at the local Ynot Italian pizza place one of the days - which happens to be the day this post is being written for. One of our friends had order a certain dish with a few instructions. Although the waitress had mentioned that they normally don’t do it that way, she did say that she will tell the chef about it. To my friend's surprise, the chef had made it exactly how she wanted and more. She complimented the chef through the waitress. To all of our surprise, the chef walked to our table and spoke to our friend, made sure she was really happy. He was a very young chef and it was really nice of him to come out and speak with us. At that age he seems to have already grasped the ropes of an established chef.

The entire situation reminded me of the scene in this movie where Queen Latifah walks into the hotel's restaurant, where she realizes that Chef Didier - her favorite chef - was cooking that day and he doesn’t cook any dish twice. So she orders all of the dishes on the menu without any changes. Chef Didier gets so surprised and intrigued that he personally comes to meet her.  Youtube doesn’t have the complete scene but this is a snippet of it.



I did mention to my friends about the scene and the movie and asked them to watch if they get a chance. For me this is THE GO TO movie whenever I feel down or a little sad or a little off beat that day. This movie brings out the hidden light in me, shakes up all of my depression and puts me in a sunny path.

Georgia Byrd (portrayed by Queen Latifah) is a humble employee in the cookware department at Kragen's Department Store in New Orleans. She is in love with Sean Williams (portrayed by LL Cool J) who works in the grills department. She maintains a journal called "Possibilities" in which she records her dreams and what she wanted to be if life gives her a chance. An accidental bump to the cabinet door puts her in front of a CAT scan that reveals that she has a very rare brain disease and that she has only a few weeks to live. Depressed to the core, when she realizes that she is all alone with nothing to call something or someone as hers, she quits her job, liquidates all her asserts and sets off on a dream vacation at the deluxe Grandhotel Pupp in the spa city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.

There she meets Matthew Kragen - the owner of the store she worked prior to her last holiday - Senator Dillings - from her home state Louisiana - Kragen's mistress Miss Burns, a prominent congressman Stewart and famed Chef Didier. With her simplicity and will to enjoy the last few weeks of her life to the fullest she wins the hearts of not only the hotel staff but most of the dignitaries she meets. The rest of the story continues on how she changes the lives of those people she meets, how she takes on what life throws at her and lives to its full and eventually comes out with an upper hand.

The movie has its own flaws - one can guess how the movie ends in the beginning itself; the morals and message perhaps is not new either. However, It is a movie that I would recommend everyone to watch not just because of the actors or the characters, but for the fact that it will take way any gloominess that might have resided in your mind or heart at that moment - even if it is for a few hours. Yet, the movie leaves you always with a new perspective towards life.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) More than him being an actor or a singer, I love LL Cool J in the role of Special Agent Sam Hanna in NCIS: Los Angeles TV show.
2) All the dishes served in the movie were prepared by Food Network Chefs and the recipes are posted on their website.
3) I havent watched the 1950 British movie of the same name, but that is something I have marked for my future post. :)
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A movie that makes you want to fight for justice, against human evils and come out top even if you lose a little in the process.

The Untouchables is a 1987American gangster film based on 1957 book of the same name. The movie follows the prohibition agent, Elliot Ness' efforts in the 1930s to capture Chicago mobster Al Capone and bring him to justice during prohibition.



The first time I saw this movie it was 20 years after it was shown on TNT and I instantly fell in love with the Andy Garcia of the 80s even though I had already watched Ocean's Trilogy by then. He left a distinct mark on my mind for that movie that when I saw it a few years later I realized there was Sean Connery too in the movie. **Wicked Grin** Anyways, with the 30th anniversary coming up next year, I thought it’s a good movie to be part of my review posts for this year.



Elliot Ness, a prohibition agent in the year 1930, forms a special team of agents that he hand picks them for their courage, morality and incorruptibility, calling themselves as The Untouchables.



With the help of his small group he plans to bring down Al Capone as he has the entire Chicago under his control with his illegal supply of liquor. Although his initial attempts fail, the proceeds to form a small group of honest and courageous agents with integrity and incorruptible nature who successfully raid on one of Capone's liquor cache. In another raid they get hold of one of Capone's book keeper and try to use him to get Capone on tax evasion case. However Capone has his book keeper along with Oscar Wallace - accountant assigned to Ness from Washington, D.C. - killed.

While Ness and George Stone - cop with a superior marksmanship - figure out what to do next, Jimmy Malone - Irish-American veteran officer - finds out that police chief had indeed sold out Wallace and the book keeper. Threatening him, Malone finds out where the chief book keeper of Capone, Walter Payne, was heading.



But Capone's hit man Frank Nitti kills Malone. However Malone manages give the information to Ness and Stone before he dies. Ness and Stone manage to capture Payne albeit there is bloodshed of Capone's men, they bring him to court to finally get Al Capone imprisoned.



The movie explores  integrity, honesty and courage of the police men and other non-uniform officers who work hard to bring down a mobster despite their loss in life and love. That always strikes a chord in any human behind who has a heart. Added to that each of the characters portraying the roles have lived it thoroughly to make a perfect plot. Robert De Niro as Al Capone can be only played by him and no other. Who else can portray the role of a mobster who can kill his own henchman with a smile as pleasant as though he would be posing for a camera. Chilling performance.



Sean Connery as Jimmy Malone is definitely Oscar Worthy - no wonder he won an Oscar. So did Andy Garcia as George Stone and Charles Martin Smith as George Wallace fitted perfectly beside Sean Connery and Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness.

Most of the plot has been kept true to the real life story including the scene where Capone bashes one of his henchman's head with a baseball bat. Perhaps that added to the success of the film. The iconic scene where Ness and Stone fight Capone's men to capture Payne is one of the most memorable one in the movie as well. The baby carriage rolling down the steps from this scene has been used in so many other American and Hindi movies as well making this scene immortal in the world of movie makers.



One of the best gangster movies made in American film history that warrants a watch again and again, no matter how many times one had seen it. If you have not seen it yet, I would say you have to add it to your watch list immediately.

Spoiler Alerts
1) The movie was based on the 1957 book of the same name, but the book was also made into a hit series of the same name, that ran on ABC Television Network from 1959 to 1963. Another TV Show for me to check out for a future blog post.
2) This was the only movie role for which Sean Connery won an Oscar.
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: A easy read involving vampires, archangels, angels and humans.

Angels' Judgment is the second novella in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh - first published in the anthology "Must Love Hellhounds" in November 2009 and later published in Angels' Flight in February of 2012 along with three other novellas that Nalini Singh released between 2009 and 2012. This was also published before the second book in the series was done and can be considered another prequel to the Guild Hunter Series. The story revolves around Sara Haziz - who is on track to become The Guild Director of United States - and Deacon - legendry hunter known as Slayer who is brought in to hunt Guild Hunters gone rogue.



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 - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

A Guild Hunter has gone rogue and is killing vampires - the near-immortals can also be killed if beheaded or burnt. Sara is tasked with hunting one of her own but she is sent the aid of Deacon aka The Slayer. One look at Deacon and Sara's emotions and hormones go haywire. Deacon is someone to be reckon with yet his charm and hunting skills tug at Sara's heart. Together they go on a journey that will be the cause to lose one of their own, as well as get their emotions tangled with.

However they are also followed by a group of vampires every step they go. The Guild Director position is changing face - the new face if accepted going to be a woman's. The Cadre is taking interest in the new Guild Director. Like how the current director Simon is tested, so is Sara being tested - much to her frustration.

Will Deacon and Sara successfully capture the hunter gone rogue? Or is he really a hunter? Will they act upon their feelings? How does Sara get out of the test by the Cadre? Or is it just an Archangel going for her throat - just for the heck of it?

Another novella that Nalini Singh has well written to give more life to the minor characters of the series. However this did not appeal me as much as the earlier novella. Still I would not discount it. A good read and a segway to the future books.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Sara is shown to have "the eye" - ability to have premonition of future events.
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.

Angels' Pawn is the first e-book in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh published in March of 2009 and later published in Angels' Flight in February of 2012 along with three other novellas that Nalini Singh released between 2009 and 2012. This was published soon after the first book Angels' Blood was published focusing mainly on Janvier - a 300 year old Cajun-born almost-immortal Vampire - and Ashwini Taj - hunter-born Guild Hunter with her own daemons to fight. This book though published after Angel's Blood, can be considered a prequel to the Guild Hunter series.



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 - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

It has been a cat and mouse chase between Ashwini and Janvier since Aswhini has taken up her job at Guild Hunter. It always has been a question to Ashwini, the Guild, Vampires and Angels /Archangels - if Janvier on purpose goes rogue so Ashwini can hunt him, more a game than for-real going rogue. Yet as Ashwini gets closer, Janvier always patches up with his master and gets away scot-free - much to the frustration of Ashwini. However, this time Ashwini surprises herself by voluntarily seeking help of Janvier in rescuing a kidnapped vampire.

The Beaumont vampire family runs Atlanta — under a mid-level angel Nazarach. They've been a lucky family over the generations as every generation at least one person was Made vampire. And this generation they had two Made into vampires - Monique and Frédéric, a sister and brother. Antoine is the vampire head of the family with his lover Simone Deschanel - a 300 year old vampire serving under Nazarach. He has a sister Jean Beaumont and dotes heavily on Monique and Frederic. Now Monique is kidnapped by Callan Fox - leader of a band of vampires called Fox's Kiss - and the Guild is tasked in rescuing her. However, Nazarch would like Monique to be retrieved to him so he can play against the rising power of Antoine Beaumont.

Caught between the three entities - Knowing fully they are being used as pawns Janvier and Ashwini set on to rescue Monique despite the power games being played around them. In the midst their feelings for each other strengthen even though Ashwini would like not to - for she has a past that she feels would hurt her future. Will they rescue Monique and hand her over to Nazarach? Will Ashwini escape the unwise interest that Nazarach has towards her? Where does the relationship between Janvier and Ashwini lead to? Does she face her daemons and take aid of Janvier while facing them?

An e-book worth reading and is a quick finish with a good intro to some of the key players of the series. However, I recommend you to read Angels' Blood before reading the e-book to give you an idea of the characters. Well weaved in with the main book, yet standing on its own.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Nazarach's evilness and cruelty is shown in explicit form.
2) Ashwini and Janvier share quite a few romantic moments that gives us more to look forward to the book with the story of their own. Quotes like below wrench your heart in a good way and make it shiver and thump.

“So you love her still?" She found herself asking.
"Who?"
"The vampire. Shamiya."
His hand squeezed her calf in gentle reproof."A silly question, cher. You know love cannot survive where there is no light.”
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 Legion is the sixth book in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh published in October of 2013. The story begins from where Jason's was left-off in Archangel's Storm. With so many changes the Archangels' facing because of the Cascade, rise of Caliane, appearance of Neha's twin sister Nivriti - who was thought long dead, with Lijuan moving closer to becoming a Goddess with powers that no one can stop, the relationship between Elena and Raphael grows only stronger. However somebody or something is causing sickness in Vampires causing the near-mortals to die and making Angels fall from sky causing them life-threatening damage. Now Raphael and Elena have to work harder more than before to not only save their region (North America) from this unknown enemy looking for war but also deal with the growing powers within the Archangels, for Elena evolving into an full-grown angel before time, for Elena to play the role of a Consort successfully before time and for Raphael to fully comprehend the extent of his powers that are increasing.



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 - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

As Archangel Raphael and his consort Elena Deveraux relax in their home in the Angel's Enclave, when they watch - much to their shock - Angels falling from the sky during a storm that seems unseemly. Several angels - more than 800 - are gravely injured during this incident called as The Falling while five Angels lose their lives. Elena is shocked to realize that immortals can also die. As they are coping with this atrocity when they come across Vampires dying because of pox - Vampires don’t die normally. Raphael believes that someone - an Archangel perhaps whose powers are increasing due to the Cascade - is gearing to attack his region. With help of his Seven and his Consort, he sets upon to save New York and also prepare to go war with this unknown evil. But the key question is who is this? Is this one person's plot? Or many are involved? Or is it a cause of Cascade?

Elena continues to play the part of Consort in taking over the ownership to soothe the injured and share their hurt - something she was not to be ready for atleast another 40 - 50 years. And continues to be the Hunter she was in hunting the source causing the sickness in Vampire. But can Keir - the greatest healer of the angels - find a cure for the Vampires and also save all the injured Angels? As they are facing this threat, Caliane invites Raphael and Elena to a ball that includes all the Archangels except Lijuan (for she had attacked Raphael and got Caliane to wake up from her sleep. Caliane not ready to forgive her.) With the kind of reception she had received when they were invited to Lijuan's ball (in Archangel's Kiss), Elena was hesitant to go but who can refuse Caliane - An Ancient, Raphael's mother and her Mother-in-Law. In the meanwhile they have to figure out the affect of Cascade on themselves as well their Seven.

Another thrilling episode by Nalini Singh traversing the readers through the lives of Raphael, Elena and his Seven and brave the threats together. Nalini Singh has also mixed angel war-fare with mortal war-fare in the fight between two archangels giving it a tinge of reality at the edges - for wars are fought even now. Well-written enough for me to be reluctant to put the books down even when it was getting very late into midnight and I had a full day next day. A definite pick if you are curious to see how Elena and Raphael fare this testing period again.

Spoiler Alerts:
1. During the period of Cascade - when all the Archangels acquire more powers - some are gravitating towards more sinister ones while others taking on the brighter side of the powers.
2. Archangel Raphael develops healing powers -increasing at higher speed - and also becomes a bit mortal due to alliance with Elena.
3. Dmitri's wife Honor St. Nicholas has been successfully converted to a Vampire and is now healing. However there is little none of Dmitri in this plot. Would love to see him in the future books even though he grates at my nerves while reading. :)
4. History behind Raphael and Dmitri's friendship is revealed further.
5. Elena signs-up Izak -badly injured in The Falling - as the first-person in her future Guard - similar to The Seven of Raphael - albeit only verbal for now. So does Sameon "Sam" - a very young angel who was a constant companion to Elena in The Refuge - want to be part of her Guard.
6. Elena's mind opens up to more of her past that she had shut down aiding her in understanding her father Jeffrey better, but not enough to forgive him for being cause of her pain that wont leave her now forever.
7. Illium's - the blue-winged angel - bond towards Elena strengthens further in this book and so also his powers due to the Cascade.
8. Archangel Elijah - ruling South America - reveals his growing powers to Raphael and bonds to him as well. His history with Caliane is also revealed.
9. The love affair that has been going on for 400 years between Galen - Weapons Master and part of The Seven - and Jessamy - Scholar and Teacher at The Refuge - is explored bits and pieces here. Although their story is told in the novella Angels' Dance published a year before this book. I havent read that yet so cant comment on their history much.
10. Vivek Kapur - Computer genius and eyes and ears of The Guild though paralyzed from shoulders and below also gets Made into a vampire by Aodhan - on of the angels in Raphael's Seven. And also gets a position in Elena's future guard.
11. Aodhan's past is also explored in this plot.
12. The beginnings of the relationship between Janvier - a vampire just below the Seven - and Ashwini - another Guild Hunter and friend of Elena - is shown here. The book that I began the series was the story between Janvier and Ashwini in Archangel's Shadows.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: A movie about integrity, redemption and survival - a must watch.
Red: [narrating]:  Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. Five hundred yards... that's the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.



That's the crux of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, a 1994 American film with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in the lead roles. The movie was based on a short story or novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King published in 1982 in his collection Different Seasons. The plot revolves around Andy Dufresne, a banker who was sentenced to two life sentences after being convicted of the murders of his wife and her lover. Although it bombed at the box office, the movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards but had not one a single one. Yet, it went to become a successful one  and even getting a #72 position on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition).



The main plot revolves around Andy Dufresne (portrayed by Tim Robbins) and Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding  (portrayed by Morgan Freeman). Andy after being wrongly convicted of the dual murders of his wife and her lover arrives at Shawshank State Penitentiary in 1947. After going through a few hiccups, he befriends Red and works in the prison laundry. He has Red acquire him a rock hammer so he can while away any free time chiseling at small rocks in miniature sculptures. Though he is frequently assaulted by "the sisters" and their leader Bogs Diamond (portrayed by Mark Rolston), he eventually gets help from the guards when he starts helping the guards on their taxes and legally hiding money. Later Warden Samuel Norton (portrayed by Bob Gunton) assigns him to prison library to assist another elderly inmate Brooks Halten (portrayed by James Whitmore) - oldest inmate who was in prison since 1905. But Andy soon realizes why Warden has moved him to the role when he starts helping the Warden in hiding all his laundered money in a legitimate account.
How ironic for Andy as he aptly quotes "Yeah. The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook."

When Brooks gets released on parole in 1954 after serving 50 years in the prison, he fails to get adjusted to the life outside and commits suicide. Andy then resorts to dedicate the prison library on his name after he receives considerable amount of books and recording of The Marriage of Figaro on donation. In 1965, Tommy Williams comes to Shawshank convicted of burglary. Andy takes a shine for him and helps him in passing his GED exam. However a year into his sentence, Tommy reveals that he had overheard one of his inmate in another person had claimed to commit the murders that Andy was sentenced for. When Andy approaches Warden Norton to help him prove his innocence, Warden dismisses him by sentencing him to solitary confinement and has Captain Byron Hadley (Chief Guard portrayed by Clancy Brown) kill Tommy.

Once out of the solitary confinement Andy makes a decision that he has had enough of his prison life and having no scope of proving his innocence, one night escapes the prison through the secret tunnel he had dug over the 19 years of his time in prison. Much to shock of the Warden, the prison guards and prisoners, Andy gets out safe and depicting himself as Randall Stephens - the figment of imagination that was holding all of Warden's laundered money - and crosses the Atlantic into Mexico. Soon after when Red gets released, follows Andy per his instructions that he had left with him before he escaped, and joins him.

The story shows that no matter what life throws at you integrity is what holds you up, and that you find freedom even bound within walls, and finally about redemption. The plot also shows love and affection between two men who have been thrown together in the worst of the prisons. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were the perfect people to be casted for their roles - I don’t think anyone else would have justified them. The movie comes with some powerful quotes that reflect in one's life at one time or another. Excellent screenplay by Frank Darabont. Who can forget these haunting ones:

Andy Dufresne: [in a letter to Red] Dear Red. If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you?
Red: Zihuatanejo.
Andy Dufresne: I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.

Andy Dufresne: Get busy living, or get busy dying.


Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.


And these funny ones:

Brooks: Easy peasy japanesey.

Andy Dufresne: If there's any trouble I won't use the rock hammer
Red: I guess you'd want to escape? Tunnel under the wall
[Andy starts laughing]
Red: did I miss something? What's so funny?
Andy Dufresne: You'll understand when you see the rock hammer

Red [narrating]:
I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than twenty. Oh, Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time.

The film is set in Maine, but the movie makers used Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio for Shawshank Prison.



The scene where Andy approaches Red about the rock hammer took nine hours to picture and Morgan Freeman had played ball for all that nine hours without a complaint.

Although the movie is dark and depressing at most parts, Andy always shined because of his hope. The brighter scenes in the movie are:

One where all the prisoners drinking beer after they have tarred the roof - the beer that Andy secures for his fellow co-workers risking him being thrown off the roof by Captain Hadley.

Another scene is the one in which Andy plays the recording - featuring the soprano "Letter Duet" ("Canzonetta sull'aria") from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, also known in Italian as "Sull'aria...che soave zeffiretto." - that he receives as donation for his letters for books, despite the objections from the guard and gets solitary confinement. A very chilling scene to which Red remarks in his voice-over narration:

I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

Such a dark movie must have left a lot of impact on the people who were part of it when it had left a huge mark on all the people who watched it. Even Nelson Mandela had commented that he had connected to the movie and loved it.  The movie had no female characters in it except for the scene that is shown on Prison TV of the movie 1946 Gilda portrayed by Rita Hayworth - perhaps that's why Stephen King mentioned her name in the title - the three posters that Andy had pinned to his wall during his 19 years in the cell - Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe (from her 1955 movie The Seven Year Hitch) and Raquel Welch (poster from her 1966 film  One Million Years B.C. movie) - one woman at the grocery store complaining about Brooks inability to pack groceries and finally the bank clerk who helps Andy Dufresne aka Randall Stephens in settling his accounts.

A powerful movie that leaves every one with a ache in the heart and tear in the eye - no matter how hardened one is. One of my all-time favorite movies that I frequently watch.
Spoiler Alerts and few pictures 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 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.

Fire Bound is the fifth installment in the Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven series published in April of 2016. The story covers Lissa Piner - the fifth sister of the heart and has ability to control the element of Fire among other - and Casimir Prakenskii - the fourth of the Prakenskii brothers, also trained similar to his brothers, a master of disguise and three faint scars from his chin up to the top of his scalp, like claw marks.



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.

Lissa Piner found peace at the farm with her sisters of the heart. However she had one mission to complete and for that she got an opportunity now which she didn’t want to miss. As a famed glass blower she got three big hotels in Europe that are interested in her work, commissioned her for one-of-a-kind chandeliers. But that was not the only reason that she wanted to get out of the farm. From the time Ilya Prakenskii has come to Sea Haven and settled, one by one each of the remaining six Prakenskii brothers have been coming and wooing her sisters and settling. So far four have settled and she did not want to be the fifth. Two birds with one shot is what she thought this trip would be for her. Or so she thought.

Gavriil Prakenskii - second of the seven Prakenskii brothers and engaged to Lexi Thompon - didn’t like Lissa going alone especially when the threat with Sorbacovs - Uri Sorbacov and Kostya Sorbacov - to them had not eliminated. So he tasks another of his younger brother who wasn’t living on the farm - Casimir Prakenskii - to protect Lissa all the time. Lissa had no idea that the very person whom she wanted to avoid, would be by her side all the time much to her dislike. However neither the Prakenskii brothers nor her sisters of the heart knew everything about her past that may cause unknown troubles to both Casimir and Lissa.

Lissa was the daughter ofMarcello and Elisabeta Abbracciabene - born into the Ferrara family as Giacinta. After losing her parents in a tragic family incident, she was taken by her uncle Luigi, raised in America as Lissa Piner - a glass blowing artist - while to the world she was dead in the same incident. Now she was on a mission to eliminate the final of those people who were behind the murders of her parents and the rest of the household - the Porcelli family. But will Casimir aid her or be a hindrance with his over-protective nature like any other Prakenskii brother? Who was behind the murders? Is the final person she thinks the true final one? Will Lissa be able to get justice for whatever happened to her? But what are the secrets her uncle Luigi hiding?

And how are the paths that Casimir has defined to reach the Sorbacovs cross with Lissa?  Why is she determined to kill the Sorbacovs as well was something Casimisr couldn’t understand.  It was his mission to take them down and keep his brothers safe forever - a mission he had accepted that he probably would not come back alive. With Lissa in the mix, and knowing how she is bound to him, his plans would have to change. Will he be successful in killing the Sorbacovs? Will he rescue Lissa from her enemies? Will he claim Lissa as his brothers have claimed their mates?

Chrisitne Feehan as always delves through the dark world of human depravity, this time around she dealt with murderers, assassins, smugglers and cruel dictators. 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:
1. Arianna Ridell - wife to Maxim Prakenskii - is pregnant in this book. She is one of the sisters of the heart and bound to element of Air.
2. Viktor Prakenskii makes an appearance in this book, finally. He stays long enough to get the character embedded in your brain.  Now I cant wait to read the story of him and Blythe - the last sister remaining and waiting for Viktor. I have a feeling they both are already married.
3. 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.
4. I am looking forward to see how will Evan Shackler-Gratsos be eventually brought to justice before the series ends. Its obvious now that Viktor Prakenskii will be handling that.
5. Evan has also put a hit on Jackson Deveau - husband to Elle Drake, the last Drake Sister in Sea Haven. This would be a very interesting book of Viktor to read with all these elements coming to a closure.
6. Viktor and his biker gang of 18 people will be moving to Sea Haven in the next book. As mentioned in her site and in talks with her, Christine will be starting a new series with this biker gang. Wonder if there would be 17 more books or some of them she would group.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For reviews of other books in this series: Go here.



Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: If you like paranormal plots with hint of romance, eroticism and the other world abilities involving immortals, then this is a series to go for. However, this book in particular bordered more on sex rather than story.

Dark Promises is the 29th book in The Carpathian Novels by paranormal author Christine Feehan published in March of 2016. The plot revolves around two pairs of lifemates - Gabrielle Sanders "Gabby" & Aleksei and Trixie Joanes & Fane. This is a sort of sequel to her 28th book Dark Ghost - although all are sequels to each other, this is more so as the story started in Dark Ghost proceeds into Dark Promises.



Christine Feehan's The Carpathian Novels introduces to the readers to a powerful and ancient race called the Carpathians - who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts including ability to shape-shift, etc. that no man can fathom - who live among humans without detection. Despite their gifts and extended lifespans, they are at the age of extinction. Their children are fewer and farther apart and those that are born and survive are all males - its been more than 500 years a female has been born until Savannah Dubrinsky (the daughter of the Carpathian Prince, Mikhail Dubrinsky). Without their female counterpart aka "lifemates" they male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions and to see in color, the only feeling remaining is the thrill they get after a kill. They feed on human blood, but they don’t kill their prey. With so few females left, males are forced to make a stark choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn" (i.e. commit suicide). When Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with extensive psychic powers, the hope increases for all the Carpathian males so they don’t have to kill themselves or turn vampires. Because when they do find a lifemate, before they get "turned", the ability to see in color and their emotions are restored to them, and their souls are saved. The series ventures into other species or race, Jaguar and Lycan - extra-ordinary humans with abilities of jaguars and wolves  - as the stories proceed.

Dark Promises opens up with Gabrielle Sanders "Gabby" getting ready to be married to Gary Jansen. For as long as she knew Gary, she has been in love with him and so has been Gary. She is part human and part Jaguar and was converted to a full Carpathain - Prince Mikhail and Vikirnoff Von Shrieder converted her - in order to save her from dying after getting gravely injured during one of the incidents involving Xavier's plot to eliminate Jaguar race. (Post the name of the book here). Much to her disinterest to live a life of Carpathian, she continues to be so, if it means she would be closer to Gary. All her life she had been a shy flower spending her time entirely inside a lab doing scientific study than exploring the lab. Gary caught her eye as he was also similar to her and someone she could share her scientific knowledge and conversation with. She fell hard and fast for him until one Gary also gets injured gravely in a fight involving Xavier, the Vampires, Human Hunters and the Carpathians.

Gary Jansen had always been loyal to Carpathians, working for them, helping them in the war they have going on and putting his life on the line when needed. So, when he gets gravely injured it was natural for all of the older Carpathians to make a decision and convert him to a Carpathian (post the name of the book here). He converts from Gary Jansen to Gary Daratrazanoff  - converted by Gregori Daratrazanoff and The Prince - giving him the same power that runs through the Daratrazanoff's line. Gabby doesn’t take this well and although never voiced it out, hates the Carpathian world, not learning how to live in that world or explore the extent of her abilities - the only way she could defy them. Every Carpathian was sensitive to her nature and never questioned her further not knowing she was rebelling. Now after the serious injury Gary had gone through again recently , she decides to get married to Gary. Even though Gary has his doubts - not that he is in love with her, but the fact that once she had become a Carpathian, she could be a potential lifemate to another Carpathian who is waiting for her and he may not be the true mate for her. However, he complies and they set upon to the field of fertility to exchange their vows - and for Gary to quote the ritual words drilled down to him by the long dead warriors of Carpathians during his transition.

But when Gary takes Gabby into his arms in the field of fertility, everything goes wrong - first the bracelet that Jubal had given to Gabby for wedding glows red and hot trying to slice him to pieces, losing the ability of colors, his soul not binding to her and finally aging as a Carpathian ages who have had that many centuries of experience as the knowledge that was poured into him. Unable to take the rejection Gabby runs away from him while Gary is trying to comprehend what happened. Why has Gary lost his ability of colors? Is Gabby not his true lifemate? Him becoming a true Carpathian changed his soul too? Will he lose his emotions also that fast and be close to being turned?

And when Gabby realizes that Gary was sent away by The Prince - ofcourse to look into the situation further - she sets after him to find him and make him hers. Her journey lands her at the doorstep of monastery very high up in the mountains - where all the ancients have gone to live once they knew they were at the edge of turning and didn’t want to hurt anyone or greet the dawn - guarded by another ancient, Fane. She finds him with another Carpathian Andre Boroi and his lifemate Tegan Joanes, in deep discussion on how to move forward. But when she reaches upto him, she is wrenched back to the gates of the monastery and gets tied down by the plants around the gate while an ancient rises from the ground, breaking open the ground and faced Gary, claiming Gabby to him - as she belonged to this ancient, Aleksei. What no one imagined was the impact of true love in a human soul on a carpathian soul once converted - as soon as the ritual words completed and Gabby's soul bound to Aleksei's, transformation in Gary was instant - he became the very male in Carpathian species who would have become after losing their lifemate even though Gabby was his true love when he was human, holding the darkness of all the ancients that had poured through him. Will Gary fight Aleksei for Gabby? Or let her go since they are true lifemates? Will Aleksei forgive Gabby for the betrayal he thought she was doing? Will Gabby accept Aleksei? What is the fate of Gary now? Will the older Carpathians find a solution for this situation?

As this drama is unfolding, another female is heading towards the very same mountains in order to save her grand-daughter. Trixie Joanes had bonded herself to a group of Vampire hunters and traveled to this part of the mountains in search of her grand-daughter Teagan Joanes. She believed that Teagan was enthralled by a monster and was going to marry him for all wrong reasons. However after traveling with the troop, she understood that they were more cruel and filled with evil than she can imagine. Now she set off to seek out her granddaughter and save her not only from the one she was getting married but also from these killers. Little does she know that she is landing straight into the arms of Fane - the gate keeper of the monastery - only to be claimed as his lifemate. At sixty she is baffled to feel all that she feels for Fane but she is but a babe in Carpathian age. Will she comes to terms with what she is becoming? Will she accept Fane and Andre and the rest of the Carpathian world?

As these two stories unfold, Gabrielle, Teagan and Trixie use their abilities to heal the remaining seven ancients in the monastery to a certain extent so they can hold on for a little longer - long enough to find their mates. Will this really help the ancients? Will they find their mates? What are those powers that these three amazing women hold that would change the path of the ancients? I cant wait to read about these ancients and their fates in future books by Christine Feehan. Where will this lead them to? How will their lives fare? Am curious to read about them in the future books.

And finally the story of Gary that follows in parallel to all the three stories. I felt a lot of empathy for Gary - someone who had given all his life to save the Carpathian world is now pushed to the edge of darkness. What will his fate be? Will he be strong enough to fight the darkness? Will he be strong enough to let go of Gabrielle? His piece really tugged at my heart of all the four in the plot.

The plot has been complicated as always with all of the other books in the series . Christine Feehan has blended four stories into it keeping all the players key and not undermining any one story over the other. Yet there are pockets of places where the story didn’t jibe well with me. Firstly, what ticked me off the most was Gabrielle's character portrayal. She sounded more like an ex-psycho girlfriend rather than a matured scientist. It could be because of her sheltered life that she had led despite the horrors going around her, but she chose to ignore them all. Her repetitive claim to see Carpathians as different and ignore that she is one too now was grating on my nerves. It took a lot of chapters before I started to like this character again. Secondly, the over possessiveness of Aleksei over Gabrielle - granted that he changed after he knew the truth behind Gabrielle's story, it annoyed me at the way he treated her in the beginning of their relationship. Thirdly, the sexual content bordered on BDSM category which I enjoy lesser than other kind. So I had to skip a few chapters that described the content.

I came across this series accidentally, while trying to use a gift card from Borders before the stores closed for good. And then once I got hooked on to it, I have gone back to the beginning of the series and read all the books that have since been written. A few of them I have posted reviews as well before (post links here). The stories have been very interesting so far - to see how the males find their mates, how the mates adjust and survive the change, fighting the human hunters who don’t know the difference between actual Vampires and the Carpathians, fighting the Vampires who want to take over the Carpathian world, fighting the mages that have been threatening the life of Prince since the beginning of their race and eventually survive. The plots are primarily set in The Carpathian Mountains in Romania with some plots in South America and recent ones moving on to United States. However in recent books the eroticism has taken more meat than the actual story, also the plot-lines are not yet connecting to Xavier and his triplet brothers, the older Carpathians and Prince are barely seen and yet to see where the stories set in United States will go. So the interest in the upcoming books are dimming for me, yet I am continuing to read them as I am curious to see the end of Xavier and his brothers and also where the newer set of characters move to.

Despite my low scoring for this book, I still recommend you to read it as it is setting up a nice segue to future episodes and characters.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) In Dark Blood (the 26th book in the series), it is revealed that Xavier is part of triplet. Xavier, Xaviero and Xayvion are at the head of destroying the Carpathian, Jaguar, and Lycan races.  Each took one race and infiltrated himself into that race to destroy.
2) Something old to wear for her wedding given by Jubal's father to Jubal to be handed over to the right person - Jubal thinks its right to be with Gabby - an old bracelet twines itself around her wrist and stays warm - pulsing with hidden power like a weapon.
3) I am very glad to see a story for Gary, but disappointed that it was not complete here. Looking forward to see more of his story in a future book and find out who his lifemate could be.
4) The De La Cruz brothers living in South America also have a De La Cruz - Luiz - who was converted to Carpathian from Jaguar. Mikhail worried that he might face the same fate as Gary.
5) In Dark Ghost (the 28th book in the series), it is shown that Fane feels a kind of connection to Teagan Joanes - lifemate to Andre Boroi) but he didn’t understand how it can be when she was lifemate to someone else. Once he meets his life mate Trixie Joanes - grandmother to Teagan Joanes - he realizes that the connection to Teagan was through his lifemate.
6) Seven more ancients are introduced in this book - Dragomir, Sandu, Isai, Petru, Benedek, Andor and Ferro. So, we can look for at least seven more books in this series by Christine Feehan in future. :).
7) Andre also mentions of a triplet set of brothers who are residing in United States, with whom he had grown up with, in both the Dark Ghost and in this book - Tomas, Mathias and Lojos. So, three more books perhaps. :)
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: Lovely musical reminding of good old days and a good entertainer for those rainy days.

In The Good Old Summertime is an American musical film starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson released in 1949. This is a musical remake of the 1940 American film The Shop Around the Corner starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. This movie is also written by  Miklós László based on his 1937 play Parfumerie - a play that formed basis for future movies.



When I posted the review of You've Got Mail (Review here) I had mentioned about both these facts and also in the review for the 1940 film (Check it here). I have been looking to watch the musical version as well and finally found it online. Here's my take on this musical version.



Andrew Larkin (portrayed by Van Johnson) works at Oberkugen's music shop as a head salesman. Veronica Fisher (portrayed by Judy Garland) walks into their shop to secure a job. Although Otto Oberkugen (portrayed by S. Z. Sakall) is reluctant to give another job, he decides to hire her after she sells a harp to a customer for more price than it was actually priced for. Andrew and Veronica immediately have a dislike to each other but tolerate at work. Unbeknownst to each other though, Andrew and Veronica have been writing letters to each other as pen pals and have been falling for each other through letters. The rest of the story continues how they get to know each other, start liking and find out that they are infact the pen pals.

The movie has some beautiful songs - Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland; Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey; Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie; Play That Barbershop Song. It’s a very sweet movie but I have to say I liked the original 1940 version and the remake of the 1998 version. For some reason Judy Garland was never a favorite of mine although she was excellent in The Wizard of Oz. However, in this the character is supposed to be strong and at the same time demure. But Judy portrayed as a very strong and come-offish girl with a squeaky loud voice. The song "I don’t care" sung by and pictured on Judy Garland perfectly suits the character of Veronica.



It was lengthened a bit in between with an additional party scene and two or three songs. However, the movie would still have been a good one without that entire scene. All in all a good entertainer for those rainy days.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) The location of the plot in Parfumerie and The Shop Around the Corner is Budapest. However it changes to turn-of-the century Chicago in this movie and to New York in the 1998 version You've Got Mail.
2) Van Johnson starts the introduction of the movie with a comment about how Chicago changed from his childhood - about skyscrapers and busy streets, about makeup and changes hairstyles. I wonder what he would say now if he had seen the city that is today.
3) Judy Garland's daughter - Liza Minnelli - is shown in the final scene as the daughter of Andrew and Veronica.


4) Incidentally the names of the lead characters Andrew and Veronica reminded me of the characters Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge from the Archie's comics.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: A well-made prequel for a classic and thoroughly enjoyable on a small screen.

Oz the Great and Powerful is a 2013 American fantasy film and is pictured as a prequel to the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. The characters in this movie are based on the characters in the books by L. Frank Baum. The plot is about a fake magician, Oscar Diggs, who inadvertently reaches the Land of Oz while escaping from a strong man at the circus in a hot air balloon and gets pulled into a battle of witches.



Oscar Diggs (portrayed by James Franco) is a deceptive magician performing at The Baum Bros Circus in Kansas City. After one such show, his friend Anne comes to let him know that she is getting married to John Gale but hoped that Oscar would stop her. Instead Oscar wishes her luck and runs away in a hot air balloon when a strongman comes to attack him thinking he had flirted with his wife. However, Oscar and his balloon gets caught in a tornado that throws him into a colorful and beautiful land - The Land of Oz.





He meets Theodora (portrayed by Mila Kunis), a naïve witch who believes him to be the Wizard that falls from sky who came to save the Emerald City from the Wicked Witch who had killed the King of Oz and is now ruling the city. Oscar does not correct her misapprehension and goes with Theodora to the Emerald City.

Note the yellow brick road in the pic.




And the beautiful Emerald City.



Oscar meets Evanora (portrayed by Rachel Weisz) - sister of Theodora and also the Royal Advisor - who tasks him to kill the Wicked Witch who lives in the Dark Forest. She can only be killed by destroying her wand in which her powers reside and then she will make Oscar the King of Oz. But what Oz doesn’t realize is that Evanora is as evil as anyone can come and is the real Wicked Witch of the East. He realizes that the one who lives in the Dark Forest - Glinda (portrayed by Michelle Williams), the daughter of the late King - is actually the Good Witch of the South. What follows is the story of how Oscar discovers the truth, helps Glinda and the Land of Oz from the clutches of the two evil witches - Wicked Witch of the East and Wicked Witch of the West - and saves everyone.

In his journey he is helped by Finley - the winged monkey, Cowardly Lion - whom Oscar scares away at the beginning, China Girl - a young living china doll who lives in the China Town and whom Oscar fixes after her town was destroyed and she was left broken, the people of Glinda - the Munchkins (little people), the Tinkers (people who can make anything), the Quadlings (the farmers, sewers, bakers, etc) and the China Doll inhabitants.



And the two witches before they are turned ugly.



I remember watching this movie on TV a couple years ago with my nephew - then 3 yrs old - in CA. I was not much impressed by the movie, but it was fun to watch the expressions on my nephew's face as the movie progressed. James Franco has done an excellent job as Oscar Diggs, but Mila Kunis failed her part as the Wicked Witch of the West.  May be I never really liked her in other movies, so my judgment is clouded. But I never could see the character Mila Kunis portrayed but Mila Kunis. The movie is very very colorful but what disappointed me was the graphics…although very cleverly done, at times it was obvious that they were graphics.

What I loved the most is the connection this movie has shown with the 1939 classic and also the very many similarities with the original book. Just like that movie, this movie begins in Kansas in a black and white  and then becomes into full color when Oscar reaches the Land of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West also becomes the same green that the original movie shows.



The scarecrows that Oscar has the people of Oz create connects to the scarecrow in the original book. The connection between Oscar's life in Kansas to the life in Oz is also shown cleverly - He calls his assistant in Kansas as a trained monkey and he gets a monkey for an assistant in Oz, his girl Annie gets married to John Gale in Kansas while Glinda resembles Annie, he fails to give magic to the girl in wheelchair in Kansas but fixes the legs of the China Doll in Oz. Oscar. Also the film shows Oscar using the image projector and smoke machine, makes himself look big which continues in the Wizard of Oz book.



All in all a well-made prequel for the classic movie and hopefully one day will be considered a classic too. I enjoyed it watching more with my nephew than I would have enjoyed watching alone on TV.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Notice that the circus that Oscar Diggs performs in the opening scene is named "The Baum Bros Circus" - perhaps a tribute to L. Frank Baum, the originator of all the Wizard of Oz books.



2) Zach Braff gives voice to the flying monkey Finley and also portrays as the long-suffering assistant / friend to Oscar in Kansas.
3) Joey King portrays as the girl in a wheelchair who comes to see Oscar's show in Kansas and she also gives voice to the China Girl.
4) Michelle Williams portrays as Glinda, the Good Witch and also as Annie - the girls that Oscar loved but let go.
5) Annie is shown to be getting married to John Gale in the movie. If you remember Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz is the daughter of Annie and John Gale. A fitting connection so well shown.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Another absolute favorite for any romantic night or just for those days when you want to feel loved.

A while ago I posted about the 1957 hit American movie An Affair to Remember, I had commented that this movie was a remake of the 1939 American romantic film Love Affair. Here is the review on the same.



Charles Boyer as Michel Marnet and Irene Dunne as Terry McKay star in this hit romantic movie that was nominated for sic Oscars under the categories Best Song, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing (Original Story), Best Art Direction, Best Original Song ("Wishing" by Buddy de Sylva) and Outstanding Production. Sadly it did not win any award though. This was the original movie directed by Leo McCarey - who directed An Affair to Remember as well.

Michel Marnet - a French painter and engaged to the heiress Lois Clark - and Terry McKay - an American singer and engaged to Kenneth Bradley - meet at an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Being engaged to others they try not to get closer to each other and also avoid the public eye. However at a stop at Madeira, they visit Michel's grandmother Janou. Something in that meet brings them closer than they think they would like to be and fall foreach other. On the last day of the journey as they reach New York city they make a pact that they will wait for 6 months and if they still feel the same for each other they will meet on Empire State Building and take the next steps. On the fateful day when they are about to meet, Terry gets hit by a car and loses the ability to walk in her legs. The rest of the movie follows both Terry and Michel in how they face their lives without each other and then eventually find each other.

An Affair To Remember is an exact copy of this movie, even in most places the dialogues are the same. Irene Dunne has charmed the role as well as Deborah Karr and so did Charles Boyle. The emotions pull and tug at you very deeply. Nothing more is there that I can express other than in pictures of the movie.

Pictures and Videos behind the cut...Collapse )
Spoiler Alerts:
1) Irene Dunne in this movie and Deborah Kerr in the Affair to Remember version have the same film name - Terry McKay. However the lead actors Charles Boyer and Cary Grant have different film names - Michel Marnet and Nicolò (Nickie) Ferrante respectively.
2) The film names of their partners are kept same in the Affair to Remember version too - Kenneth Bradle and Lois Clark. In this though they are portrayed by Lee Bowman and Astrid Allwyn respectively. And so does the Grandmother Janou retain the name - portrayed by Maria Ouspenskaya in this version and Cathleen Nesbitt in An Affair to Remember.
3) Michel's art dealer is Maurice Cobert in this version while in the remake he is simply called as Courbet - portrayed by Maurice Moscovitch in this version and Fortunio Bonanova in the later version.
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 fun watch movie from Adam Sandler making golf a very interesting game to watch

Happy Gilmore is a 1996 American sports comedy with Adam Sandler on the title character. This February 16th marked the 20th anniversary of this movie. This movie title later on goes to become part of his production company name titled Happy Madison Productions (the second part taken from his earlier hit Billy Madison that was released in 1995. There are very few movies of Adam Sandler I like of which this is one. The only reason being that I felt the jokes and dialogues less cheesy, less gross and less sexual. I am not really against sexual content, but I am against the vulgarity and cheapness of that being depicted in movies, stand-up comedies and books. Oh well, whatever the reason, this is one movie I have watched countless times and enjoyed it thoroughly.



The plot follows a young Hockey Player, Happy Gilmore, who has anger management issues, gets kicked-out off hockey league and becomes a pro-golfer to save his grandmother's home.



With funny lines, timing of comedy, punch quotes as well as real punches, and making Golf as livelier as it can, this movie certainly has made a mark in Hall of Comedy - if there is one. The psycho orderly Hal L, the fight between Bob Barker and Happy Gilmore, iconic scene between Happy and the crocodile that took away the hand of Chubbs - his coach, quick wit quotes by all the characters make memorable scenes in the movie. Who cannot enjoy to dialogues such as

Shooter McGavin: Just stay out of my way... or you'll pay! LISTEN to what I say!
Happy Gilmore: Hey, why don't I just go eat some hay, make things out of clay, lay by the bay? I just may! What'd ya say?



Anytime you come across this movie playing on TV, don’t change your channels. Instead glue yourself to that comfy sofa and enjoy the humor and have a hearty laugh.


Spoiler Alerts behind the cut with pictures...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 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 Kiss is the second book in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh published in February of 2010. The story picks up after the war between Archangel Raphael and rogue turned bloodborn Archangel Uram in Manhattan, NY where in trying to save the world of Uram's atrocities, Raphael and Elena get seriously injured. So serious that Raphael was ready to let go of his immortality and die along-side Elena and would have if not for his true love and Ambrosia. Now Elena is awake after a year in coma with a her own wings that flare from deepest black to indigo, deep blue, dawn and into white gold and immortality.



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 - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

Elena Deveraux wakes up a year after from her coma with immortality and wings - wakes up an angel becoming an angel and a hunter. Last thing she remembers is falling from the ledge of the building Uram had made his base, with broken bones and near to lost spirit surrounded by Raphael's arms and wings. Now she is a Made Angel with powers lesser than a baby angel and have to evolve quickly as the world is looking at Raphael and his pet to fail. Archangel Raphael takes her to The Refuge - place where all angels, babies and adults alike learn to survive, heal and grow before let into the world; similar to an infirmary or medical center for humans; a place where no humans are allowed to come - so she could heal and at the same time learn to live the life as an angel as well as an immortal. But she has only little over two months to get her angel and immortality abilities not only learned but mastered as best as she can; for Archangel Zhou Lijuan who rules China is hosting a ball in honor of Raphael and his once mortal human Elena whom he embraced.

Elena goes from being a Guild Hunter to a Guild Hunter/Angel and lover of Raphael. But that doesn’t mean that the other Archangels and Raphael's Seven welcome her with the same stride as Raphael. She has to prove that she is fit for Raphael and that she hasn’t weakened Raphael's immortality or created any nicks in his power in anyway. If not for the others to accept her, but for herself as well; for she is falling slowly for this beautiful but lethal archangel. And the added weight of being the first Angel to be Made in 1500 years is not to be discounted. As Elena continues with her healing, preparing for battles unknown, learning the warfare - angel-kind, human and vampire - and knowing about the angels history, her romance with Raphael also blooms. Raphael, although feels the impact to his immortality - injures easily, heals slower - starts to realize that with Elena being on his side he has less chances of turning into Uram or Lijuan.

But, its just not for the ball that Lijuan is throwing that Elena has to face. Someone is hunting and injuring Angels severely - even as young as Sameon AKA Sam  - in The Refuge - the safest known place for all Angels alike despite the differences between their archangels. Elena is not tasked to trace this angel who is causing harm. Glad to be back as a hunter, Elena pushes herself into it, esp after finding Sam injured badly - Sam who has come to be her friend in The Refuge where she is learning the history, an angel who looks like  a four year old in human terms, but far more older yet a baby in angel years. Is someone trying to pit Archangel against Archangel - an idea that might have spurred after the battle between Uram and Raphael resulting in elimination of Uram permanently - to get the power of The Cadre imbalanced?

Lijuan is rumored to have mastered over death and beyond attaining the stature closure to Goddess that is diving her to insanity. But what is the depth of that no one knows. What other powers she had acquired no one knows, although Raphael's spy master Jason - a 700 years old Angel with sooty black wings and long black hair - had uncovered some truth behind the rumors. So what is the hidden agenda behind the ball that she is throwing? Is that to really welcome Elena to the angel world? Or to have all the archangels under one roof so she could put her next move on all of them together? Raphael has little trust in Lijuan to let Elena become the target nor does he believe a single second that the invitation for ball is simply a ball.  While they hunt for the angel causing the trouble at The Refuge, both Raphael and Elena also prepare for the vicious welcome that Lijuan might have planned for them.

Another gripping story of Elena and Raphael who continue to face hurdles from the Angel-kind and Vampire-kind to take them down. Nalini Singh did certainly spin a tale to keep you at the edge of the seat and get the reader interested in not only this sequel but the subsequent ones.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Only an Archangel whose heart beats for true love and experiences it can produce Ambrosia through their canines. Ambrosia - that can make an eligible one to an Angel.
2. Cadre - For an Archangel to be part of Cadre means being an absolute ruler over a portion of the globe. They rule their territories and those beings within them with iron control. The only being strong enough to stop an archangel is another archangel,  and when they clash, the fate of mankind hang in the balance.
3. All of Archangel's Seven get introduced in this book - Jason's past is revealed a little to add intrigue to the plot. He is the spymaster to Raphael. So also a bit about Aodhan, another angel of Raphael's Seven. Elena becomes fond of Illium aka Bluebell - so called because of his Blue wings edged with silver and black hair tipped with blue - forming a strong bond of friendship and trust between them. Venom - a Vampire - and Galen - an angel - work on bettering Elena's skills as an angel. Dmitri - the leader of the Seven - as usual taunts Elena with his sensual scent while Naasir - an almost-made Vampire and powerful - gets introduced.
4. Elena develops new abilities as she is evolving as an angel like ability to track an angel - although she could track Uram once he had turned rogue. So does the book shows evolvement in Raphael.
5. Can an angel turn to god? That’s what seems to be happening with Lijuan - Archangel of China.
6. A glimpse into Elena's past involving her mother Marguerite who committed suicide and holder sisters Mirabelle and Ariel murdered by rogue vampire Slater Patalis is exposed further in this book.
7. The story behind Raphael's parents - Archangels Caliane and Nadiel - is given introduction with more history to their life.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Absolutely if you are a fan of Armed Forces and solving crimes. This is a packaged deal that gives you best of both worlds.

NCIS is an American TV Crime series based off of a fictional team of special agents working for Naval Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) investigating crimes involving U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from Washington, D.C. location. The show originally introduced as a 2-part episode (Ice Queen and Meltdown) in the then popular series JAG (Judge Adovate General. More on the show here - on Season 8 in Apr of 2003.) Then the spin-off as a series of its own aired first on CBS in September of 2003. The show went on to become a hit series, currently ranking as the second longest  longest-running scripted, non-animated U.S. primetime TV series currently airing, surpassed only by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present) per Wiki. It also has created two spin-offs: NCIS - Los Angeles and NCIS - New Orleans with two new teams of their own although cross-over episodes have certainly been shown.

I am not sure if it was a popular show when it aired in 2003, but the first time I saw the show was sometime in 2008 - their reruns actually. It’s surprising that I missed watching NCIS since I used to follow JAG so diligently back then. Anyways, although it did not capture me immediately, on and off I had watched a few episodes of the reruns of Season 1 and Season 2. And had actually stopped watching it after I saw an episode titled "Twilight" where one of the lead agent Caitlin Todd (portrayed by Sasha Alexander) is shot and killed ending her role with the series abruptly. The way she was killed caused a twist in my heart that I couldn’t shake it off nor the creeping crawlers behind my back. One minute she was standing between Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (portrayed by Mark Harmon) and Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo (portrayed by Michael Weatherly)  and next minute she is shot in the head with a sniper rifle held by Ari Haswari (portrayed by Rudolf Martin) - a rogue Mossad agent. That moment struck me how short a life can be, just a flame of the candle. It disturbed me a lot to continue the series.

However a few months later I saw the newer episodes of Season 3 which is when I fell in love completely with the series and its characters - especially with Tony Dinozzo and Ziva David (portrayed by Cote de Pablo.) The chemistry between Tony and Ziva was the key attraction apart from the other casts as well. A few of them are:
Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto; a forensic specialist assigned to NCIS.
David McCallum as Donald "Ducky" Mallard; NCIS' Chief Medical Examiner.
Lauren Holly as Jenny Shepard; the Director of NCIS (seasons 3–5; guest seasons 8, 9, 12).
Rocky Carroll as Leon Vance; the Director of NCIS (seasons 6–; recurring: season 5)
Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer; NCIS' Assistant Medical Examiner (seasons 10–; recurring: seasons 1–5; also starring: seasons 6–9).
Emily Wickersham as Eleanor Bishop; an NCIS Special Agent and a former NSA Analyst (seasons 11–).
It has been a constant on my DVR list to be recorded and watched - some episodes more than once.  Again in Season 10, two episodes Shabbat Shalom and Shiva, tore my heart apart for Ziva, Tony and everyone. The loss Ziva faces is shown so effectively that it hurts your heart and brings tears to your eyes. I was expecting that the character Ziva would exit the show soon, however I was content to see her continue on the series. And was secretly hoping for Tony and Ziva's chemistry to go further than what was shown. But Ziva does resign NCIS after the episode "Past, Present, and Future" in Season 12 . Removal of her role left me with apprehension if I should continue to watch the show or not. However the show survived and still stayed on top - both on TV as well as on my list. And I continued watching because of Tony and Gibbs mostly.  Lives of the characters Gibbs, Tony and Ziva was what attracted me so much to the show not discounting others though.

Just as the series was settling in with new cast members and getting over the hole created by Ziva, another shocking news is thrust into the eyes of the viewers. At the end of Season 13, we see Tony Dinozzo leaving NCIS thus ending the stint of Michael Weatherly who was one of the longest member on the show. The other two roles that were constant were of Gibbs (portrayed by Mark Harmon) and Special Agent Timothy McGee (portrayed by Sean Murray.) Tony has been in every episode and every case. So someone to come in and fill-in his shoes will not be an easy job for the show makers as well as the NCIS team on the show. It was really sad to see this character gone.



Losing Ziva was a huge hole, but losing Tony would be a huge black hole for NCIS series. I am curious to see how they will shape Season 14 and who will fill the shoes of Tony. I would have loved to see Tony and Ziva get united - which they get - in more ways than what was shown. But, it is a fitting ending considering what had gone through for Ziva. And it still remains for me the most sweetest ending for any role in any show as such I have seen. Even though it left me with chills and goosebumps, haunting in mind even now.

I will reserve  my judgment on whether I would continue watching it or give it quits until Season 14 starts airing. Till then I will enjoy the reruns of my favorite episodes of my favorite serial as much as I can. If you havent yet watched the show, I would say this is one show you don’t want to miss. Give it a try and hopefully you will love it as much as I love.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Michael Weatherly will be starring as Dr. Jason Bull in the new TV series Bull based off of the early days of talk show host Phil McGraw AKA Dr. Phil. The series is set to premiere September 20, 2016. Looking forward to see the new face of Tony Dinozzo ahem…Michael Weatherly.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
My Recommendation: If you are looking for mystery and humor, then this TV show is one perfect one to watch.

Castle is an American crime-comedy series that aired on ABC channel until recently. Its first season started on Mar 9 2009 and after eight seasons finally closed on 5/16/2016 with its last episode. Thus the reason for posting this for my blog for this day. :P The plot revolves around the lives of best-selling mystery writer Richard Castle (portrayed by Nathan Fillion) and an NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (portrayed by Stana Katic) who solve unusual crimes in NYC.



The series begins with Kate Beckett called into a murder scene that is based off a book written by Richard Castle. He is brought in for questioning but eventually ends up supporting Kate's team as a consultant in solving the crime. Richard is going through a writer's block after he had killed his lead character, Derrick Storm, from the latest series of his popular books. Meeting Kate and getting involved in a real-life crime case spurs his brain to write a brand-series using Kate as his muse for Nikki Heat - the main character in that series. Initially Kate doesn’t like him following her on a case or her being used as a muse, but later on she realizes his potential and his usefulness and warms up to him. Eventually they fall in love and get married through the subsequent series all the while solving crimes - some regular crimes, some related to Kate's past, some related to Castle, some related to the detectives and their captains.

They are supported by Detective Javier "Javi" Esposito - a former Army Special Forces soldier (portrayed by Jon Huertas), Detective Kevin Ryan - a former narcotics detective (portrayed by Seamus Dever), Dr. Lanie Parish - a medical examiner (portrayed by Tamala Jones), Captain Roy Montgomery (seasons 1–3) (portrayed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson), Alexis Castle - Castle's daughter by his first wife, Meredith (portrayed by Molly Quinn), Martha Rodgers - Castle's mother, an actress on and off Broadway (portrayed by  Susan Sullivan), Captain Victoria Gates (seasons 4–7) - Captain Montgomery's replacement (portrayed by Penny Johnson Jerald) and Hayley Shipton (season 8) - a former MPS cop and MI-6 operative (portrayed by Toks Olagundoye).

Although the series has been airing since past 8 years, the first time I got an opportunity to watch any episode was this past January. I had injured my back during a workout session and been bed-resting for two continuous weeks. Unable to move much I had taken time off from work as well. So there was nothing much to do then plop myself on sofa or a bed and binge watch television. I came across re-runs of Castle airing on TNT and a particular scene between Kate and Castle caught my attention, making me glued to the series and rest is history. **Wicked Grin**

The series has been gripping and very interesting, with giving viewers insight into the characters' lives making them part of our life. Castles' quirky and witty nature with his sharp senses and Kate's strict protocol and penchant to solve a crime are perfect complements to each other. Added to that Kate's wardrobe is super excellent - I would love to have her wardrobe, but I need to get to her size first. Her hairstyle also changes as the seasons progress each adding a definition to her character. Perhaps that could be another reason that I got hooked on the show too - Fashion and Styling. **Wicked Grin** Check a few here.







Also most of the original cast were still retained expanding their roles in the show - for instance one gets to see Alex grow from a teenager to a beautiful young woman going through phases of life like a real person, extending Kevin's life into wedding and having a baby, showing love-life of Javi - adding additional meat to the body of plot defined around Kate and Castle. So it was very surprising that the show was cancelled suddenly considering the steady ratings and the many awards it had been winning. It was very disappointing to see it gone, although reruns still keep coming on TNT for people like me who like to hog on them. **Wicked**

If you chance upon the reruns on TNT while browsing through your channels, do stop and watch for a fun-filled mystery plot.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) The books of Nikki Heat and Derrick Storm books shown on the show have been also released as actual books at the beginning of every season. Nathan Fillion appears as the face of Richard Castle on the books, on the website and also participates in book signings. I have myself got a few of them and yet to read. A topic for future blog post. :)
2) When I first saw Penny Johnson Jerald (as Captain Victoria Gates in Castle) I was sure I saw her somewhere before. It took a while to click it in my brain. I saw her before in an episode of Columbo titled "Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health", portraying as Maxine Jarrett - a producer of the show in the plot. She was so young there.



3) I also remember seeing Ruben Santiago-Hudson (as Captain Roy Montgomery in Castle) in several of Law & Order episodes albeit as rerun episodes.
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 Blood is the first installment in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh and was published in March of 2009. The book introduces Archangels who rule the world that includes Vampires and Guild Hunters. Primarily the plot focuses on Archangel Raphael - who rules North America from his Tower in Manhattan, New York - and Elena Deveraux - the best Vampire Hunter from the Guild. I have read book numbers #3, #4, #5 and #7 in this series and now going back up to the first book - I have a rule when reading series: Always read from the first book. Hence going back to the beginning - to find the origin of Elena and Raphael and their lives that weave through these web of books. Nalini Singh has mentioned in her site (Link: http://nalinisingh.com/books/guild-hunter-series/) that all the books are written as stand-alone and one can pick them at any stage in the series and still follow-it. However, I always feel that on should read the first book in any series to get a better idea on the characters and plot. It holds true with this series as well - from my perspective.



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 - Elena, his Seven and his people while he is ruling North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York.

Elena Deveraux is one of the best Vampire Hunters in the Guild and she knows it. However her heart takes a jerk when she is called by the Archangel Raphael for a work. Except his note says "I would be pleased if you would join me for breakfast.  8 a.m. - Raphael." Taking it up as a challenge Elena meets with Raphael. But little does she know that the meeting has to do more than work that Raphael has for her. She wasn’t prepared for the sexual pull towards him - at times Raphael is manipulating and other times her heart is betraying. Famed for hus ruthless but just rule, Elena wasn’t ready to lose her heart to him when she would just be another toy to him. Archangel Raphael had been intrigued by Elena for a while, but as a Guild Hunter only, until he meets her for the appointment he had set. She not only intrigued him but also created feelings and emotions that rarely existed with immortals - especially with someone who had lived thousands of centuries like him. She invoked memories hidden inside him and also interested his brain like no one in a very long time. And he was not ready to let her be just a Guild Hunter for his work, but he wanted to make her his.

What will these feelings do to Raphael - will his immortality change? That is something Raphael have to go through with his quest to make her his before he knows the answer to that. Is Raphael willing to go that far? Elena has her own demons to fight that are nothing related to the work she is undertaking for Raphael. And now she has to fight Raphael's interest and advances towards her as well. Apart from that Dmitri had little trust in her, trying to use his scent of allure to trap her in so she wouldn’t cause any harm to Raphael - not that she would.  Elena has to fight off the pull towards Dmitri as well. How will Elena come out of this? Will she fight or succumb to Raphael? The work that Raphael wants her to do is no ordinary either. She is an expert at tracking down Vampires-gone-rogue but can she track an angel? This one being Archangel Uram - who rules part of Europe and all of Russia - tasked to Elena to hunt since he is believed to be gone rogue and delved into madness and bloodlust. Where will the hunt lead Raphael and Elena to? Where will the pursuit of Elena by Raphael land him into?

A sub-plot involving Elena's past and her distance with her father and his second family runs along the story. This ties in with the past that Elena is reluctant to share with Raphael and also have nightmares often. Though this is the sub-plot, it becomes key to many aspects of the primary story.  All of Raphael's Seven (Dmitri, Illium, Venom, Jason <See if all are introduced and update this line accordingly>) - powerful Vampires and Angels who guard the Archangel - along with his butler Montgomery are introduced too.

The first novel on the Archangels, Humans, Angels and Vampires is very well spun by Nalini Singh. Having read three future books now I know why her stories intrigued the population. A different view point on Vampires and how they are made, Angels and how they become and the Archangels who rule the world no similar to what humans do yet distinctively different. A definite read for any day to get lost in an alternate world with more reality than one can imagine.

Spoiler Alerts::


1) Although I have written about Dmitri's story ahead of this one, this book gives more insight to his basic nature, why he was chosen by Isis to be Made and why the bond between Dmitri and Raphael is so thick that it cannot be broken. If I hadnt read his book first I would have started to hate Dmitri but now I just understand him more, making me like him without guilt.
2) Ashwini - another guild hunter - is introduced here. Hers was the first story I read in the series (post link of my review here) so it was fun to see her character evolve gradually.
3) Raphael goes into The Quiet - a state of mind that he has only gone once before that pushes him to do the justice without reason, meaning he may be right in passing the judgment but he has less tolerance to reason on the method or think about consequences.
4) We also see that Archangels can be hurt very badly if they get their mortal feelings or emotions alive again. And that adds another layer of something unknown to the Archangels which is yet to be found - is it for advantage? Or for disadvantage?
5) We also get introduced to Holly Chang - about whom I already read in Archangel's Blade story - and get a first glimpse of Dmitri's tender heart (if he has any) towards innocents. This sub-plot continues in Dmitri's story later.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: An easy romance-murder mystery read that needs no intense exercise on your mind.

The Obsession is the next stand-alone novel written by Nora Roberts published in Apr of 2016. Like I mentioned in my previous reviews of Nora Roberts books, I find her flair for writing plots around strong characters with equally impressive story-line has been reducing considerably since the release of The Bride Quartet series in 2009. Perhaps change in publisher or editor occurred that year or perhaps she started having aid of ghost writers for her plots, but the books have been paler except for a few - Guardians Trilogy that started n 2015, The Search published in 2010 and partially liked the Cousins O'Dwyer Series published during the years 2013 and 2014. The Obsession shows promises that she is coming back to her pre-2009 writing however she is not there yet, in my belief. Yet this book is not a complete wash either unlike a few of her other works. But, there are certain similarities around the plot-line with previous other works in recent years. The story follows Naomi Bowes / Naomi Carson and her life after she finds her father's deepest secret.



The Obsession begins when Naomi Bowes is 11 years old and follows her father in the woods beside her home thinking he is heading there to hide her birthday present - hopefully a red bike. Her father is very strict and very very religious. However, Naomi finds a girl traumatized, raped, tortured and chained in the cellar. Overcoming the initial shock, Naomi takes in her father's cruelty behind his religious mask. She saves the girl by taking her to the local police station and giving up her father in the process. With her father exposed as a serial killer, her life takes a turn into witness protection landing her family - mother Susan and brother Mason - into the protection of her uncle Seth and his partner Harry who become their guardian uncles. A few chapters of her life after the exposure continue with Naomi constantly being hounded one way or the other through media or her mother's stupidity and finally settling into her new life with few hiccups whenever her past comes into present. But she settles.

The plot then moves to present times when Naomi Bowes - now Naomi Carson - buys a dilapidated house in Sunrise Cove, Washington to get it renovated by herself. For someone who had kept her life in a shell due to her past and hasn’t had anything to hold on to so she could pick up and leave whenever the past hunts her down, she surprises herself with this impulse buy. And the responsibility comes with negotiations and dealings with local carpenters, plumbers, etc which means building relationships - that Naomi had pretty much stopped extending it beyond her small family (now just her two Uncles, Seth and Harry and her brother Mason) - that Naomi is willing to take and spread herself. She is a successful photographer now who has travelled all around the world -which will pretty much come in handy for her to get the house renovated.

Xander Keaton, local mechanic and the part owner in a local bar with his band, The Wreckers, where they play regularly. His blue collar job comes with a penchant for books and being an astute businessman. Xander is very interested in Naomi and him being a fast roller, starts moving on to her immediately - much to the dislike of Naomi in the beginning. However, Naomi eventually begins to trust him along side with settling in Sunrise Cove and getting into the depths of community living. The mystery begins here again when the body of a local woman is found with similarities to the victims of Naomi's father - bringing her past smack in front of her face again. The plot continues to the third phase in the book where the focus shifts from Naomi's father to a copy-cat killer who is mimicking her father with Naomi being the ultimate prize. Will Naomi pick up her sticks and move away to save the little community that she has come to love? Or make a stand and face the killer? Will she let go of Xander or will Xander hold on to her so she doesn’t need to turn away from relationships? Who is it that is bent upon targeting Naomi? As far as she knows she hadnt had enough relationship with anyone that they could target her. Is her father doing this all-over again?

Interesting plot that has readers gripping to the book. However I still feel that there is that spark, that intensity, that depth of description of the characters and surroundings missing in Nora's book again, although it is much better than the previous one. The book was also divided into three parts - Exposure, Depth of Field and Focus - all terms of photography giving a strong connection to Naomi Carson / Bowes. And that is all the strength I see here. The romance between Naomi and Xander is delightful but very practical with a few hits on emotional ties. The mystery surrounding Naomi's father and the copy cat serial killer keeps you gripped, but you tend to lose hold with the dryer parts of the book - which were completely absent in -her earlier works. And adding to that I could guess who the copy-cat killer was when I was three-fourths into the book. This is never a good sign for a murder mystery.

The plot closely resembles to one episode that I watched on Criminal Minds TV Series. It begs to ask if Nora is picking her plots from TV shows now. This is the fourth book since 2010 that she has written on serial killers, killers fascinated on the primary female character and witness protection life. First time in The Search which was published in July of 2010 - Fiona Bristow lives a life of semi-seclusion to get some peace after being the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer and is followed by a copy cat killer. Second time it is in The Witness published in April of 2012 - Elizabeth / Abigail Lowery on a night of rebellion finds herself being the only witness to a mob-hit putting her life forever in witness protection. Third time it shows up in The Collector published in April of 2015, but this time as contract killer - Lila Emerson who was on an apartment-sitting job, witnesses the murder of a woman in the apartment across her building and becomes the target for the assassin and gets pulled into a world of stolen Faberge eggs.  That is a lot of repetition of the plot in such a short period of time for an author such as Nora. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been looked repeats if they had been grouped together under one title - something on the lines of "Case Files of …..".

Despite all the reasons I still think this is a better work from her in recent years and was a pleasure to read it. One of those books that will clearly take your mind off your plate for the moment and at the same time keeps you on the edge of the world between reality and fantasy giving you good time for your money.
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 want to read.

The Case of the Shapely Shadow is the 63rd installment of the Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner published in October of 1960. The case deals with the usual mystery with his client and the court room drama that follows for Perry Mason.



The plot begins with a plan Jane type of girl, Janice Wainwright, comes to Perry Mason with an ethical problem for which she is looking for a solution. She is working as a secretary for one Morley Theilman, a real-estate broker. Her boss asks her to deliver a suitcase, that she thinks is full of bills, in a locker at the Union Depot. She believes that Mr. Theilman is being blackmailed and she want to be certain that she can open the suitcase and confirm her suspicions, yet not get in trouble with law. Her only proof was a torn piece of letter supposedly mailed by A. B. Vidal to Morley L. Theilman with a single line: GET MONEY. INSTRUCTIONS ON TELEPHONE. FAILURE WILL BE FATAL. Mason sorts out the ethical dilemma and opens the case for her and finds money indeed. He and his secretary Miss Della Street, make a note of some of the numbers on the note, then he sends Janice and Della away to take care of the errand as instructed by Morley.

As always, his sharp brain processes the entire thing in various angles, seeing it in future steps for every angle, he gets intrigued more than needed as he believes there is more to the story. He takes help of services of Paul Drake's Drake Detective Agency and sets on to find who Morley Theilman was and everything surrounding him. Little does he know that a simple thing like that would land him a case that would not only end in murder but also gets him a subpoena to appear in front of the grand jury. But he doesn’t waver a bit and deftly thwacks away all the attempts of the District Attorney in indicting his client, Janice Wainwright. Who was blackmailing Morley? Was Janice really in love with him? Was it his ex-wife Carlotta Theilman? Or his current wife Agnes Theilman, who was an ex-showgirl in Vegas? What was the reason for the murder? What tricks lay under that suit of his that Perry Mason comes out unscathed again? Who was the shapely shadow who followed Morley Theilman the night he was murdered? Questions that can only be answered if you read the book.

Erle Stanely Gardner, a master at spinning court room dramas, has done it again with this book. However in this plot the case originally is handled by Manlove P. Ruskin, one of Hamilton Burger's best trial deputies, but later on for a brief period of time Hamilton Burger also steps in. Does it matter for Perry who is at the prosecutor's end? I guess not. Since he still thwarts them the same way he does anyone else. Another excellent read to keep your mind active.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) This book was made into an episode of the TV series Perry Mason two years after it was written.  Although the episode is based on the book, there are quite a few dissimilarities between them.
2) In the TV episode however, Hamilton Burger is the only one who prosecutes the case.
3) Perry Mason also gets an assistant, David Gideon, in the episode. He first appears in The Case of the Posthumous Painter (originally aired in 1961. Although none of the episodes that David appeared on were based off any book written by Erle Stanley Gardner except this one. In the book though there is NO David Gideon.
4) Henry Battle, is introduced as brother of first Mrs. Theilman in the episode, although doesn’t exist in the book.
5) Unearthing that Agnes Theilman's maiden name was Agnes Vidal is done by Perry Mason in the book while in the episode Hamilton Burger does so.

And here is the episode:
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.

The Case of The Bigamous Spouse is the 65th installment in the Perry Mason Series by Erle Stanley Gardner. The book was published in August of 1961. It was also part of the Perry Mason TV Series and aired on November 14th of 1963 - just two years after it was written. Another seemingly simple plot turns into a twisted one within a few pages keeping the readers on the edge.



Gwynn Elston approaches Perry Mason with a rather weird case - that her friend's husband was trying to poison her with strychnine. Upon further inquiry, Mason finds out that Gwynn is working as a door-to-door saleswoman for encyclopedias and living with her best friend Nell Grimes and her husband Felting Grimes. During one of her visit to a home of one Mrs. Franklin Gillette. However when she sees Franklin Jr. she gets the shock of her life - he is a spitting image of Felting Grimes. Confused she inquires further with the child and confirms that Franklin Gillette and Felting Grimes are indeed one and the same. He was leading a double life. And now she is worried that Felting Grimes has suspicion that she is on to his trail and he is resorting to kill her. Mason accepts the case and puts Paul Drake to investigate this further to find out how much of what Gwynn said is truth and also to find out who is the bigamous spouse - Mrs. Gillette or Nell Grimes. Before the investigation could proceed further to a decent situation, Gwynn calls Mason the next day reporting that she found Felting Grimes dead as a stone right near Baxter Estate - next door to where Felting Grimes lived with Mrs. Gillette and their son as Franklin Gillette and owned by one George Belding Baxter. Soon after despite the efforts of Mason to hide Gwynn, Lt. Tragg arrests her under conspiracy to murder of Felting Grimes.

Thus begins the complexity of the plot leading Mason to murder, wanted criminals, blackmail, robbery and lost fathers. Gardner leads the readers into these dark paths all the while keeping them guessing as to who killed Felting Grimes and for what purpose. Another excellent mystery written by Gardner. I must say the characters lived through it even in the TV Series to make it more alive and successful. Even though if you have watched the TV series episode, do pick up the book and read it. It will not disappoint you.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) There were a few differences between the book and the TV episode. Primarily with the child. In the book Franklin Gillette has a boy called Franklin Jr. with Mrs. Gillette. In the TV series they changed the boy to girl and had no name to her.
2) In the TV Series, the character Gwynn Elston was played by Pippa Scott. I remember her in Columbo's episode Columbo: Requiem for a Falling Star where she portrays as Jean Davis, personal assistant to aging movie star Nora Chandler (portrayed by Anne Baxter).
3) Although the credits show Lt. Tragg but he never appears in the actual show on TV. The case is lead by Lt. Andy Anderson instead.
4) In one of the scene Perry Mason while waiting in the ol' RanchHouse, Perry looks through a stack of old magazines, holding one up conspicuously so that the camera gets a good shot of the cover. It's a "Pulp Western" magazine, RANCH ROMANCES - Love Stories of the Real West. It is not mentioned however in the book as to what the exact kind of fiction was read by the ranch house owner, but only that he read fiction. This scene gave me a whole lot of set of books to read and perhaps for future blog posts as well. :P

Finally here is the TV episode 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.
For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: A new twist mixing Science and Magic giving the plot an easy read at the same time. Go for it for those sunny days.

I came across this author at the book club we have at work - albeit its mostly a forum than in-person. She works for the client I work for and had promoted her third book in this series in that forum, when it had released on May 1st. Since she was a colleague (although not a direct related) I wanted to read her work and took up the first book in the series which is what I usually - if any series, always read from the first book. Newton's Laws: Lesson 1 - Inertia was released on May of 2014. Although not a huge fan of Physics, but being a Science major (Inorganic Chemistry)  and having had gone thru the perils to swim thru Physics in my college, the title captured my attention immediately. I was curious to see how she had married Physics with Literature. And here is my take on the book.



Simply put, Newton's First Law of Motion also known as Law of Inertia states that every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. That is exactly what happens to Rachel Simmons, a senior at college with majoring in Biology, one day at her Physics class - a course that she is mandated to take because the college requires all Biology Majors to take it. As part of her work-study she is assigned as the college's photographer and is usually asked to take pictures of the college and town to sell the school. However that particular day she is given an assignment to take pictures of the faculty to upgrade their profile on the college website. One of the faculty is her Physics professor, Peter Parker with a Ph. D. who is nick-named as Spider-Man by everyone at the campus. After the photo session done, when she sets on to edit the picture, she comes across a document open on the computer behind the Professor in the photo that talks about breaking rules, reversal of gravity and absence of kinetic energy. She gets obsessed with deciphering what little she sees in the photo. To add to that she gets curious about the stand-off between Peter Parker, Sherman Shapiro "The Doc" - another Physics Professor - and Justin Borgstrom "Johnny Storm" - who is always with Peter raising more questions in Rachel's mind.

Her curious mind and outright questions pulls her into the world of bendy physics and super-powers involving Justin, Peter, Barbara Ghavari "Babs" and Kitty Lebowitz - all trying to work against The Doc while protecting themselves. Rachel becomes the neutral ground for these four. Rest of the plot continues on how Rachel finds out how these super-powers work, who are these four, why is The Doc being their enemy and why is she being pulled around these four. Her obsessiveness to know the why of it opens her to their world - creating more from something, alchemy, healing injuries in a matter of seconds, ability to soundproof what one talks, time dilation, altering memories, making one invisible, reading minds and more. And from Justin's perspective he is very much interested in her in more ways than she wants him to be in - which is a hurdle she tries to avoid every time.

A very interesting idea in the plot of bringing Science and Magic together - explaining the unexplainable in terms of atoms and molecules that normally are shown as immortal, psychic or physical capabilities in other books. I watch the American TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory that blends Science with Comedy and was always amazed at the power of the writers and the imagination of the directors to do so. This author has successfully done so, however I have to read the entire series to figure out if it will bend towards comedy and romance or mystery and romance. One thing that I felt a thorn were a few annoying quirks in Rachel - her constant use of the word "crap", her emotional outbursts in a weird way and her explaining all the time her obsessive nature. The book could have been better without those.

All in all a good attempt with a unique concept for a first book by the author. Looking forward to read the second book in the series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) In one of Rachel's English class they discuss about Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. Have to read that for another blog post.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Wonderful watch for a home movie with the elements of love, reincarnation, soul-mates and romance.

The Love Letter is a 1998  Hallmark Hall of Fame television film starring Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. According to Wiki the movie is based on Jack Finney's short story of the same name, which was first published in The Saturday Evening Post on August 1, 1959, and reprinted in the same magazine in January/February 1988 issue. I would have loved to read the original story as well although Wiki has a snippet of it. There are definite differences between the movie and book considering the years apart the movie was made and the book was written.



I first watched this movie a few years ago on television and loved it instantly. Time-travelling, romance, love across centuries, souls finding each other, reincarnation - who wouldn’t love such a recipe in any book or movie. That is exactly what this movie has except that the time-travelling part is through letters rather than in-person. The story goes back and forth between 1998 and 1863.

Scott Corrigan (portrayed by Campbell Scott), living in the year 1998 in Boston, MA, buys a desk at a second-hand furniture store when he goes on a wedding shopping spree with his fiancée. While refurbishing it he finds a letter in a secret compartment written by Elizabeth Whitcomb (portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh) dated April 16th 1863, a letter that she had written to no-one but to herself, her deepest thoughts that she wrote just like in a diary but in letters.

"I ache for love that burns like fire unto moonlight"

Words that deep moves Scott and decides to write a response. However his mother persuades him to mail it with a stamp that was from 1863 and at the only local post office that is existing since 1863.





His letter reaches to one Elizabeth Whitcomb residing in Willoughby, MA delivered by a mail carrier. Shocked at receiving a response from someone, she writes back to him in anger and puts it back in the secret compartment. The letter reaches Scott much to his shock as well. Although he hesitates he writes back to her eventually.

The hard truth is we are doomed to be chaste. To never touch each other, hear each other, see each other... so what harm can there be to write to each other?

True what is the harm. Thus the communication between Scott and Elizabeth continue to correspond. In the meanwhile in 1998 Scott is planning for his wedding with his fiancée, Debra Zabriskie (portrayed by Daphne Ashbrook), but he starts falling in love with Elizabeth even though she is centuries old and long gone.



He visits the Whitcomb family home as well to know more about her causing a friction between him and Debra. He also suffers an accident while in a bike race and goes into come for a few days. The same period during which Elizabeth meets a Colonel Caleb Denby (portrayed by Campbell Scott) commanding the 19th Massachusetts on one of her trip to Boston, MA for her eye checkup. Caleb and Elizabeth fall in love. Not knowing that he is coma, Elizabeth wonders why he hadnt corresponded.



After coming out of the coma, he reads her letters and finds that Caleb will die in the Gettysburg Battle on July 3rd 1863. He writes a letter to Elizabeth asking her to stop him and barely manages to post it as the post office is already on fire. The burning down of the post office breaks the ability for Scott to send letters to Elizabeth.
In her time Elizabeth manages to reach Caleb, but he is already injured and succumbs to them right in front of Elizabeth. She returns home in grief but is handed over a letter that was missed earlier by her maid from Scott. Seeing Scott's picture she muses "Of Course!" since both Caleb and Scott are one and the same person born hundred years apart.





Back in 1998, Scott confesses to Debra the truth when she finds a picture of Elizabeth and Caleb. Debra breaks off the engagement.



Scott goes back to visit Whitcomb home and finds that the only living relative Clarisse, the granddaughter of Elizabeth's sister is also gone now. She leaves him with a box of Elizabeth's stuff. In it he finds his letters to Elizabeth and his picture, realizes that she never married but ends up becoming a teacher never giving up on poetry per Scott's request. He visits her grave and sees the quote "I Never Forgot" carved on it. He meets a young woman named Beth at the graveyard as she is chasing her dog. She is a spitting image of Elizabeth. Scott realizes that Beth is the reincarnation of Elizabeth just as Elizabeth had realized that Scott is the reincarnation of Caleb when she sees his picture. The movie ends with Scott and Beth walking to a café close by leaving the viewers to think that in this time and in this life they will become life-partners.

A very sweet romantic movie that involves reincarnation. If you believe in it you will enjoy it. For those lazy days, a definite watch to while away your time and at the same time enjoy.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Per Wiki: The location of Elizabeth's old house, a fictitious Massachusetts town named Willoughby, may be a nod to the well-known Twilight Zone episode, "A Stop At Willoughby," where a stressed-out New York advertising executive mysteriously travels back to 1888, where life moves at a slower, more leisurely pace.
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 movie 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 movie 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

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