June 25th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 04/05/2016: Oopiri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, it was still a good movie. If you get a chance go and watch it…definitely will lift your spirits.

Book Critique 2016 – 04/06/2016: Hidden Currents (Drake Sisters Novels #7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Critique 2016 – 04/07/2016: Water Bound (Sisters of the Heart/Sea Haven #1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would say be patient with this book and give it a benefit of doubt before throwing it away like how I did the first time. There is much more meat to it than I realized. You will love the series once you are past this book. Go ahead and give it a try.