October 24th, 2016


Book Critique 2016 – 06/22/2016: Red Lily (In The Garden Trilogy #3)

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 / 5
Recommendation: If you love ghosts and gardens, this is a definite pick.

Red Lily is the third installment in the In The Garden Trilogy written by Nora Roberts and published in December of 2005. This is the story of Hayley Phillips and Harper Ashby with the sub-plots continuing from the first two books. Because I did not have a warm feeling towards the character Haley, this was a tough book to review. Hard to keep myself objective when the focus always shifts. Hopefully you will find my review unbiased.

Just like the previous two books, this one too opens in the late 1800s, specifically to January of 1893 - approx a year after the first book's prologue was set. Amelia Connor is seen to reach the Harper House - destitute, desperate and demented. What Reginald Harper had done to her was cruel and harsh - the betrayal, the loss and the hurt. But the calculated Amelia wasn’t completely innocent either. So, she implores to the mistress of the house and is turned away instead with threats and bitter words. Demented as she had become, she plots to do the most unthinkable to acquire what she has lost.

The story then fast-forwards to July 2005 in the Harper House in present times. Haley Phillips had arrived at the very same door-steps 18 months ago ripe with pregnancy and looking for a job. She not only found a job, but friends and a home - Stella Rothchild (Manager of In The Garden Nursery), Rosalind "Roz" Harper (owner of The In The Garden Mystery and the famed Harper House), David Wentworth (lives in Harper House, friend of Roz and takes care of the house), Logan Kitridge (married to Stella and her sons, works with Roz and leads the landscaping side of her business), Harper Ashby (Roz's oldest son, part-owner of In The Garden Nursery), Gavin and Luke (Stella's kids from her first husband), Dr. Mitchell Carnegie (a writer and professor, expert on genealogy and married to Roz). She has a sweet little baby, Lily Rose Star, who is doted on by everyone and taken care of - especially by Harper.

And that is where the problem started for Hayley. She very much was in friends with Harper and has a feeling of thanks towards him. Yet her feelings are changing into something more than friendship, something involving a lot of lips, hands and body. Two things though - one, he was the son of Roz, her manager and the one who had provided her with food, shelter and job; second, she wasn’t sure if Harper had the same feelings towards her, although he loves Lily like his own. Will she act on her feelings and find out if they are reciprocated? Of course, we know that Harper has feelings for her too. Will he accept her and Lily into his heart and life?

While she is struggling with her feelings towards Harper, Amelia is instilling all kinds of cruel thoughts in her mind and goes to an extent of taking over her body. Will Hayley fight her off? Will Amelia take over her body and soul completely? What has caused Amelia to become so strong now when for more than 100 years she hadnt hurt anyone? And why target Hayley to such extreme measures when she barely scratched Stella and even though had hurt Roz she had come to her aid? But the dreams are returning for Roz and Stella to. Why? What is the end goal for Amelia?

The sub-plots that continue involving Stella and Logan, Mitchell's genealogy and attempts to find what happened to Amelia and both couples' post-marital blisses; are blended in well by Nora. There is a chill that comes up your spine whenever one reads the chapters involving Amelia - so chill that one literally would shake. Well written series and equally well concluded in this final episode answering all questions and finally resting Amelia in peace. If you get a chance to read it, enjoy it despite the chills

Spoiler Alerts:
1) The concept of ghosts taking over human bodies is shown in this book. It gave me creeps while reading and I wonder if Nora was affected similarly while writing.
2) Hayley becomes pregnant with Harper. Just like she calls herself as a magnet to sperms, it made me think in the beginning why Nora made her pregnant again. It's like she is just a breeding person here. Although my thoughts were answered in the following chapters, I couldn’t shake the feeling.

Movie Critique 2016 – 06/23/2016: Pippi Longstocking

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

Stars:  5 / 5
Recommendation: Reminiscing the good old days as a child and dreaming to be like her - memories that will definitely tickle you when you watch this movie.

I had watched this cartoon as a young girl and was so in love with it. I remember watching the episodes but not the movie. So after a little search I found the 1997 Pippy Longstocking movie online - which I had watched as a young girl - and for the sake of this post I had the pleasure to watch it all over again, become a kid myself, and imagine myself going through all those adventures that Pippi goes through.

Pippi Longstocking is the main character of the series of children's books by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. She was named by Lindgren's then 9-year old daughter Karin. The books were first published during 1945 and 1948 marking 2015 as 70th birthday for Pippi. Yet, she remains the same 9-yr old year after year, going up and about her adventures with her father South Seas seafarer Ephraim Longstocking - captain of the sailing ship Hoptoad - and her friends - her horse, her monkey (Mr. Nilsson) and her neighbor's children Tommy Settergren and Annika Settergren.

A few years ago I had seen a film based on the book that didn’t involve animation and I must say I was not much impressed. I believe I like the animated version.

Pippi has a really cool and really long name - Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking.  After her father was lost during a storm at sea, she comes back to her home Villa Villekulla in small village Swedish village with no one else except her monkey and horse. She befriends her neighbor's kids - Tommy Settergren and Annika Settergren - and the three have tons of adventures much to the frustration of Tommy and Annika's mother. Pippi is quite friendly but with none to less social etiquette causing Tommy and Annika's mom to dislike her at first.

Although she has less formal education she has knowledge of all the household chores - cooking, cleaning, handling repairs as needed - and does them efficiently. And she loves to tell tales for her adventures aboard her father's ship and from her travels. She is shown to be the most strongest woman since she puffs away all the cover of her furniture and she can lift anything even her horse - which she as a matter of fact takes everywhere. Although quite charming, at times she is very rude and opinionated. I suppose since she lives alone she has to stand-up to all kind of people. She is also shown to be very self-sufficient living by her own rules.

Some of the memorable scenes from the movie  that remain still fresh in my mind.

Here, she is making a huge stack of pancakes like a piece of cake - singing and dancing along too.

Here she is spinning Mrs. Prysselius around at a party.

A movie that will bring back all the old memories from childhood and that adventurous soul in you. If you havent watched it, you don’t know what you are missing. Go click the link on youtube and watch it.

Spoiler Alerts:
1) Wiki page for Pippi Longstocking has so many movies listed that I havent watched at all. Perhaps one day I will.
2) It always amazed me that none of the adults ever monitored her or forced her into a children's home. But again Pippi is a charming self herself so I bet adults were charmed too - even the local social worker Mrs. Prysselius to an extent.
3) I would like to think that the story of Pippi Longstocking could have inspired the first Home Alone movie and there-after. Especially the part where Pippi outwits the robbers - at first unknowingly and later with a better plan.
4) The two cops of the small village see a large fish like a dolphin and get mesmerized by it. Although there is no connection to the plot anywhere. Not sure why the writer had put it in.