REVIEW Artemis Fowl- The Eternity Code: Eoin Colfer


SUPER-COMPUTING SWINDLERS

Another hell of a Fowl book. I’m totally in love with this series, and Artemis is one of the smartest heroes I’ve met on paper.

Using fairy technology, Artemis builds an advanced computer, the C Cube and attempts to sell it to a shady tech billionaire Jon Spiro. But Spiro proves to be too smart for him, as he walks away with the Cube, fatally injuring Butler in the process. Artemis must now find a way to save Butler and recover the Cube, so that the fairy secrets are not revealed to the world.

The Eternity Code has as much firepower as the two previous ones, though not so much of the snappy wit. The plot is intricately laid, with twists and turns that you don’t see coming. The gadgetry is superb as always, and Colfer always has a few new tricks up his sleeve when it comes to snazzy new gizmos. I was a little disappointed that Foaly didn’t have a meaty role, and the Foaly-Root bickering that I loved so much didn’t make much of an appearance. Artemis is more mature than he was in the earlier books, though his criminal genius remains unchanged. He now considers what effect his actions will have on people around him, and that is a quality I like. I loved the book, and I really look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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REVIEW The Thirteenth Tale: Diane Setterfield


GHOSTLY SECRETS

I loved this book. Totally and absolutely. The suspense kept me at the edge of my seat and the novel captured my imagination right from the first page.

The famous reclusive author Vida Winter finally wants to tell her life’s story, the whole truth. When she contacts antique bookseller Margaret Lea about it, Margaret is naturally surprised: she has the barest of publishing credits and is more of a hobby writer. But nevertheless, Ms. Winter’s story of twins grips her, because Margaret has lost a twin as well. And of course, there is the mystery of The Thirteenth Tale, the missing story in the Ms. Winter’s most famous book. As Ms. Winter narrates the story of love and loss, of siblings Charlie and Isabelle, and of the twins Adeline and Emmeline, Margaret is drawn in, but nothing in this story is what it seems.

I liked Setterfield’s literate style of writing, it’s like reading the classics. Each scene is constructed artfully, each character described in detail. What I found most intriguing was the attachment between twins, the way in which their lives were intertwined, their pain of separation; I have never read anything like that before. The story has a gothic atmosphere and is openly influenced by Jane Eyre, but I also saw shades of Rebecca in the narrative. The atmosphere is foreboding, the Angelfield home and the characters send a chill up your spine. But this book is as much about books as it is about the mystery: the characters are surrounded by books; a library plays an integral role in the plot. I found some fantastic quotes regarding the art of writing and the experience of reading.

“All my life and all my experience, the events that have befallen me, the people I have known, all my memories, dreams, fantasies, everything I have ever read, all of that has been chucked onto the compost heap, where over time it has rotted down to a dark, rich, organic mulch…Every so often, I take an idea, plant it in the compost and wait. It feeds on that black stuff that used to be a life, takes its energy for its own. It germinates. Takes root. Produces shoots. And so on, and so forth, until one fine day, I have a story, a novel.”

“Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes-characters even- caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you.”


Most of the characters in the story are slightly unhinged, but their tale is anything but that. There is the clear hint of masochism, of subterfuge and of eerieness. The mystery and secrecy that the tale is steeped in gives it an aura of timelessness. And Margaret’s story is no less interesting, she goes through a sea of emotions when she listens to the twin story of attachment and separation, so mirroring her own. And the climax is like a thunderstorm, it crashes down on the reader, giving a totally new perspective to the story. I really can’t say more about the book without giving away the whole story, and I absolutely don’t want to do that, because digging out the hidden layers is an experience to enjoy.

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Author Interview: Stephanie Burgis


I'm really happy to welcome author Stephanie Burgis, whose debut novel, A Most Improper Magick, will be releasing in April 2010. Thanks so much, Stephanie, for taking the time to answer these questions!

Hazra: Can you tell us something about your debut novel, A Most Improper Magick?

Stephanie: A Most Improper Magick is set in Jane Austen’s Regency England, with glittering balls, snobby aristocrats, and highwaymen lurking in the darkness.
In this version of Regency England, magic is the greatest scandal of all - but Kat Stephenson, the twelve year-old daughter of a vicar and a witch, is ready to break all the rules of her society to win her older sisters their true loves.

Hazra: How did the idea for A Most Improper Magick come to you?

Stephanie: I was actually in the middle of chopping onions for lunch when the first two lines popped into my head, spoken very clearly in Kat’s voice:

“I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.
“I made it almost to the end of my front garden.”

At the time, I was actually in the middle of writing another novel, one for adults which was MUCH darker and more serious, but those first lines completely hooked me. I just had to write them down for safe-keeping...and then I had to figure out what happened next...and then I ended up writing the whole of Kat’s first novel, having the time of my life with Kat and her sisters! I’ve never had so much pure fun in writing as I have with all three books in this trilogy. (I’m working on the third book right now.)

Hazra: Oh, I love the first line! Kat sounds like a great heroine: spunky and fun. Tell us something about the other characters of the book. Any favorites (excluding Kat)?

Stephanie: I love all three of Kat’s siblings so much. Kat’s brother Charles doesn’t feature much in this first book (although he will later in the trilogy!), but both of her sisters, Elissa and Angeline, are major characters in the book and I LOVED getting to write them. Elissa is very, very proper--except that she has a guilty love of Gothic romance and a secret yen to be a real Gothic heroine; Angeline is smart, sarcastic, and 100% confident in all of her crazy plans...but they don’t always work exactly as planned, to say the least. As Kat’s older sisters, both of them try to keep Kat in line, but Kat is way too strong-willed and smart to let them get away with it!

Hazra: What is the best thing about writing in the historical fantasy genre?

Stephanie: I’ve always been a big history geek - by the time I was eight or nine years old, I was devouring history books about the kings and queens of England and the American revolution. As I grew up, my focus changed (I’m now much less interested in kings and queens and more interested in ordinary people in history), but my love of history has gotten even stronger. Although I’m grateful to have been born in the modern era, I love getting to imagine myself into past eras by reading and writing historical novels. Adding fantasy to the mix is just another layer of fun! Long skirts, balls, highwaymen AND magic - how could I possibly resist? :)

Hazra: How do you incorporate writing in your daily schedule?

Stephanie: With great difficulty! ;) I have a bright & active one-year-old son and no childcare, so I write either while he’s napping or while my husband is looking after him. I don’t get very long writing sessions any more, so I’ve had to learn to be efficient with my writing time.

Hazra: Can you share one great and one not-so-great aspect of being a debut writer?

Stephanie: The best part is the sheer excitement. I can still hardly believe that my books are really going to be published! I’ve been wanting to be a professional writer since I was seven years old, and I’m 32 years old now, so this is literally a lifelong dream come true.

The not-so-great aspect is the set of nerves that comes with it. Will people like it? Will people buy it? All those worries about what people might think could eat my brain if I let them. I have to work really hard nowadays to ignore that anxious part of my mind and just focus on having fun with Book 3 of the trilogy.

Hazra: Which authors have you been inspired by?

Stephanie: Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer are definitely my two strongest inspirations for The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson (I LOVE their Regency romantic comedies!), but some of the other writers who inspired me as I grew up were Elizabeth Peters, JRR Tolkien, and Emma Bull.

Elizabeth Peters writes wonderfully quirky characters, and her Amelia Peabody historical adventures (starting with Crocodile on the Sandbank) are told in a great, fun voice that just sweeps me away.

JRR Tolkien was my first introduction to fantasy, and I can’t even count how many times I’ve re-read The Lord of the Rings.

And Emma Bull writes fabulous historical and contemporary fantasy with great romantic subplots; I read her first book, War for the Oaks, when I was 14, and immediately decided that I wanted to focus on writing fantasy rather than historical romance, which I’d been writing until then.

Hazra: Great to meet another Tolkien fan! You have a degree in historical musicology. What role does music play in your life and your writing?

Stephanie: I love music, both listening to it and playing it myself. I actually thought when I was a teen that I would be a professional musician as my non-writing dayjob, and although I changed my mind while I was in college, making music is still one of the biggest pleasures in my life. Even while writing, I find it much easier to focus when I’m listening to music that fits the characters or story.

As a historical fiction writer, I also found the years I spent studying music history enormously helpful, since I absorbed an awful lot of European history along with the wonderful music. I wrote my Master’s Degree thesis (and researched a PhD dissertation) on late 18th-century opera and society, and all of that research I did in grad school has been really useful for my short stories and novels.

Hazra: Finally, if you could organize a dinner with five of your favorite fictional characters, who would they be?
Stephanie:
• Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet (but probably not Mr Darcy, since he’s shy in company and would just sit there silently looking aloof and distinctly unimpressed, even if he didn’t mean to be unfriendly);
• Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, my favorite literary couple;
• Georgette Heyer’s Sarah Thane (from The Talisman Ring);
• Catherine Morland from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey

Thanks so much, Stephanie, for your lovely responses. I'm waiting to read about Kat when your book is released. You can find out more about Stephanie Burgis by visiting her website.

A Most Improper Magick introduces the spunky Kat Stephenson. Kat's mother was a scandalous witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and her stepmama is determined to sell Kat's oldest sister into a positively Gothic marriage to pay it off - so what can Kat do but take matters directly into her own hands? If only her older sisters hadn’t thwarted her plan to run away to London dressed as a boy and earn a fortune!

When Kat makes a midnight foray into her mother’s cabinet of secrets, though, she finds out something she never expected. Her mother wasn’t just a witch, she was a Guardian, a member of a secret Order with staggering magical powers - and Kat is her heir.

A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis is the first in The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson trilogy. It will be published by Atheneum Books on April 20, 2010, and you can already pre-order it from Amazon.com, Borders.com, Chapters.indigo.ca, or any of the international branches of Amazon.

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REVIEW The Vampire Diaries- The Awakening: L.J. Smith

HIGH-SCHOOL BLOODINESS

After the Twilight craze, it’s time for the Vampire Diaries craze to seep into the college. Quite suddenly, everyone’s watching the series, so I thought I’d be different and… read the book.

Elena Gilbert is a popular high-school girl at Fell’s Church, but she is lonely after the death of her parents. She is intrigued by the new boy at school, Stefan Salvatore, and pursues him with some ardor, but he avoids her as much as he can. Elena is disappointed, but Stefan can’t help it; he is a vampire, and he cannot bear to hurt Elena, as she reminds him sharply of one he loved and lost.

I had a better experience reading this as compared to Twilight. The plot is alarmingly similar at first: pretty girl falls for mysterious hot guy who runs away from her. But Elena is smarter and spunkier than Bella. Honestly, I didn’t like her; I did find her quite selfish and self-absorbed, but no more than you expect a high-school queen bee to be. The romance is there, but none of the dopey, mopey, “oh, he is like perfectly chiseled marble and I’m like a sea slug” cribbing. The writing is a little amateurish, but brings out the don’t-care high-schooler’s attitude well. In this book, you get to see both sides: the hunter as well as the hunted, something Twilight sorely lacked (I kept wondering, WHAT does Edward see in Bella?). It also sets the stage for what I hope is a promising series, and takes time to introduce all the characters, without boring you with lengthy scenes. The Awakening has a nice mix of mystery and romance, and doesn’t drag much. It ends on a cliffhanger, and I’m interested in seeing how it is resolved.

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REVIEW City of Glass: Cassandra Clare


A FATHER'S FIENDISHNESS

The third instalment in the Mortal Instruments series, this one was a spellbinding read, a book that totally lived up to my expectations.

After the events in City of Ashes, Clary and Jace prepare to travel to the Shadowhunter city Alicante in Idris to meet the warlock Ragnor Fell, who can wake Clary’s mother. But the appearance of demons forces Jace to leave for Idris early, taking Simon along, who, now being a Downworlder vampire, is not welcome in Shadowhunter territory. Learning that Jace is gone, Clary opens up a Portal, which drops her into the enchanted Lake Lyn, from which she is rescued by Luke. Jace and Clary are drawn into the politicking of the Clave and the evil machinations of their father Valentine, as they fight to protect all that they love.

I had hoped City of Glass would end the series on a high note, and it did. I was satisfied with the way every thread was wrapped up neatly. The climax was a really great one, as Cassandra combined elements of varying mythologies to come up with a really interesting plot twist. Some bits of the story are predictable, but not in an oh-god-isn’t-that-so-obvious kind of way. Clary is a heroine who develops with every book, and here she is the centre of all activity. She is a little impulsive, but shines through when she is needed the most, especially in the climax. I also liked Jace as the tortured hero, one who tries to do good though his heart is sometimes not in it. He is put through the toughest hardships, and he carries the most burdens, that of his father’s and his feelings for Clary. He comes out of each fire burnt yet alive, and you root for him at every step.

I really wanted to talk about the character I liked best throughout the series: Luke. I really admired the way his character was written and fleshed out. He has a dignity and a grace which shone through the pages. And his determination to do the right thing is what I found most impressive. He always looks out for Clary and tries to work with the Clave and reason with Valentine, although the latter two treat him with contempt. On Cassandra Clare’s site, I found that Ewan McGregor was a fan choice for playing Luke, and now I can’t get Obi-wan out of my head; I see some likeness in the two characters.

I enjoyed this series a lot and I will be looking out for more by this author. Have you read any of the books? What did you think?

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REVIEW 2 States- The Story of my Marriage: Chetan Bhagat


1 BOOK-THE STORY OF MY IRRITATION

Money spent on this book is akin to losing your wallet: the cash is gone and you have nothing to show for it.

Krish, a Punjabi munda, falls in love with Ananya, a Tam Brahm he meets while studying at IIM-A. But in India, love doesn’t conquer all; it has to go through a lot of channels before culminating in marriage. Krish and Ananya have to convince their parents: the Tamil Brahmins who frown at the over-indulgent Punjabis, and the Punjabis who smirk at the sedate Madrasis.

Five tips to write a Chetan Bhagat novel:

Characters: Your narrator is a guy who is pretty much a loser. He should be no older than 30.
Plot: Switch on the TV and check out the latest soaps and/or Bollywood movies. Mix and match characters and settings.
Theme: Go to Google Trends and see the top 10 topics Indians search for. You have the background for your book. Bhagat’s four books have been about IIT, call center jobs, cricket and IIM. Wanna bet that his next book will have a Bollywood theme?
Dialogue: Use Indian English i.e. discard grammar and language to bring in the “feel” of "aam aadmi" India.
Love story: A must-have. Indians are suckers for romance, so make your love story as boo-hooey as possible.

The book is replete with clich├ęs, tacky one-liners and ridiculous situations. The characters are mere caricatures: the parents of the two lovebirds are stereotypical Punjus and Tams, not a hair out of place. The plot meanders along in Bollywood style, complete with wooing and heart-breaking and family bonding. It’s more like a failed Yashraj movie script than a novel. Read at your own risk. Actually, you’d be much better off reading this superb article which expresses my views exactly.

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REVIEW Watchmen: Alan Moore


WHO GUARDS THE GUARDS?

Oh, what a week it was! Projects, tests, no Internet (that was bad, I couldn't blog at all!), whoa! But most of it is done, except for the monster called end-term exams which start in a week. Anyways, I watched the movie recently, and I really wanted to read the book. This is my first graphic novel, and I loved it.

The year is 1985, Russia and the U.S. are tethering on the edge of a nuclear war, and the superhero age is over. Rorschach is a renegade vigilante, who investigates the death of Edward Blake a.k.a. The Comedian, a twisted superhero who later worked for the U.S. government. Rorschach believes that someone is trying to kill off all the erstwhile superheroes, and he warns his old buddies: Adrian Veidt, the smartest man in the world, Dan Drieberg a.k.a. Nite Owl, Laurie or Silk Spectre and finally Dr. Manhattan, a god-like being whose Superman-like abilities make him very useful to the government.

“Is that what happens to us? A life of conflict with no time for friends… so that when it’s done, only our enemies leave roses?”

You expect comic books to be for kiddos, but Watchmen is definitely for an adult, mature audience. This is not your conventional superhero comic; it has a much darker feel. Your superheroes are actually human, and subject to all the shortcomings and failures that we all are. They are not your glorious heroes, who sacrifice everything to save the world; they are selfish, cowardly or simply amoral. There is the Comedian, to whom life and death is but a joke, and is more a mercenary than hero. He has no qualms in killing, and he actually shoots a woman who is bearing his child. Then there is Dr. Manhattan, endowed with godly abilities due to a nuclear accident, who is completely devoid of emotion, and actually says, “A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there's no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?”

“Why are so few of us left active, healthy and without personality disorders?”

But I think the most enigmatic person is Rorschach. He is a seriously dysfunctional guy, who has come to regard his alter ego as more real than his actual identity. He has the most cutting observations about humans, stuff that make you squirm and ponder, because you know how right he is. Rorschach is not likeable, not in the conventional sense; he is kind of psychotic. But he stays with you long after you’ve finished reading.

The story is really awesome, nothing what you’d expect from a comic. There are many layers in the story, hidden meanings and subtle taunts. There is a comic within the novel, one whose story runs parallel to the novel’s, and gives you a deeper look into the situation at hand. The dialogues are hard-hitting and totally cool, and the artwork also rocks. After reading this book, I realized that this is a genre I’ve completely overlooked, and I will try to read more of these great books.

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Monday Movies: A Walk of Happyness


A WALK TO REMEMBER
Starring: Shane West, Mandy Moore
Directed by: Adam Shankman

A prank gone wrong on a fellow high-schooler has the rebellious Landon Carter (Shane West) punished with mandatory after-school activities, where he has to interact with the quiet, bookish Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), a girl he had known since childhood but always ignored. Landon and Jamie spend time together while practicing for the school spring play, though Landon is initially reluctant to acknowledge her in front of his friends. They gradually fall in love, but they cannot be with each other for long.

I enjoyed this movie; it was quite sweet. Shane West is especially good as the rebellious Landon, and the growth in his character from a callous teenager into a caring guy was well-shown. The movie has a lot of sweet romantic moments; I especially loved the whole bit about Jamie's wishlist and how Landon helps fulfill it. I'm not much of a romantic, but this movie leaves you with a nice feeling. There are shades of Erich Segal's Love Story in the script, but the way the whole movie is treated makes a difference. Watch it this winter; you'll feel the warmth creeping up on you.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a salesman who invests his family's entire savings in a bone density scanner which is double the price of a regular X-ray machine, but only slightly more efficient. This costly investment causes great financial headache for him, and his wife also leaves him. Chris refuses to let her take his son Christopher (Jaden Smith), because he believes that he can care better for him than his wife can. Chris applies for an unpaid six-month internship at a stockbroker with a possibility of a stable job, but acute financial troubles, including tax problems and homelessness, mean that he is not on an even footing with the other candidates.

I loved this movie. It is such an inspiring tale that you cannot fail to be moved by it. Honestly, I was amazed at Chris' resilience. He faced every problem that you could possibly face, and his luck ran out at almost every turn, but he never gave up. He also never dumped his frustrations on his son; he always tries to stay positive in front of him. I almost cried at the scene where Chris and his son have nowhere to sleep and end up in a bathroom at a station, and Chris desperately tries to keep the truth of their sorry situation from his son. The movie is based on a true story, and I immensely admire the real Chris Gardner's strength. Watching this movie, you realize that all your problems pale into insignificance in front of the numerous challenges that Chris encounters, and you are struck by how he copes with them. Will Smith pitches in an inspired performance as the dauntless Chris Gardner, and I really think that this is one of the best roles of his life. Jaden Smith is very cute as Christopher, and he complements his dad (yes, he is Will Smith's real-life son) very well. Watch this movie; you cannot fail to be inspired.

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REVIEW The Lost Symbol: Dan Brown


MASONIC MYSTERIES

Aha! Finally I manage to read a book within a couple of months of its release. A big thank you to Ani for lending me the book! There are no plot spoilers, but I have spoken a lot about how I felt about the book, so if you think that it might affect your perception of the book, just skim through the review.

Robert Langdon is invited by his old friend and prominent Freemason, Peter Solomon, to deliver a lecture at Capitol Building. But when he arrives, he finds Solomon kidnapped, the kidnapper threatening to kill him until Langdon deciphers the location of the mysterious Mason pyramid and the secret to power that it hides. Langdon is joined by Katherine, Peter’s sister and researcher of Noetic Sciences, but they also have the CIA on their tail. Time is running out, and Langdon must decipher the Masonic symbology scattered throughout Washington D.C. to save his friend.

There is a lot I have to say about Lost Symbol. I enjoy the historical references and symbolism that Dan Brown referenced in his last two books and this was no different. His revelation of the secrets and puzzles hidden in history is nice, but fell a little flat compared to the previous books. I enjoyed his previous Langdon novels for the way they blended fact and fiction together, but here, it seemed like he had run out of major historical secrets or puzzles. References to Da Vinci Code were scattered choc-a-block, and at times, it felt like a not-so-subtle self-promotion.

There is nothing extraordinary in Brown’s style of writing. The book is slightly reminiscent of National Treasure 2, and Brown sticks to a formulaic plot structure; the whole book takes place over the course of 24 hours. Every chapter ends on a cliffhanger, which is resolved in a couple of pages. But I did enjoy some of the twists in the tale and the final unmasking of the villain. He tries to awe us with his knowledge of modern science, but it sounds amateurish. In my absolutely humble opinion, Mr. Brown should stick to art and history, and not go about messing with technology.

What I found most irritating was Dan Brown’s diversions into philosophy. The whole subplot involving Noetic Sciences and the “mind over matter” philosophy was (a) boring, (b) pointless and (c) unscientific, however much Brown tries to convince you of the contrary. He espouses the cause of mysticism, but much of what he cites as supporting his philosophy are insubstantial or explained by “proper” science. His metaphysical meanderings are not worth too much, and some bits are quite ridiculous. Sample this:

“Even the crystalline structure of a newly forming solid was rendered mutable by one’s mind. Katherine had created beautifully symmetrical ice crystals by sending loving thoughts to a glass of water as it froze. Incredibly, the converse was also true; when she sent negative, polluting thoughts to the water, the ice crystals froze in chaotic, fractured forms.”

The final few pages of the book were very boring; I skimmed through them. They seemed like an appeasement to all those who had criticized his earlier books as being un-Christian or anti-religion. A bit of editing to that part would have helped.

I think that the book was just okay and not as entertaining as Angels and Demons or Da Vinci Code. Read it to find out what the hype is about, and to learn a few more factoids about ancient history.

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Monday Movies: The Watchmen's Proposal


WATCHMEN
Starring: Billy Crudup, Malin Ackerman, Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Zack Snyder

In the 1930s, a vigilante group called the "Minutemen" were created to do what the law couldn't. After the original group died violent deaths, another team of superheros called "Watchmen" pick up the mantle, changing many events such as the outcome of the Vietnam war and the assassination of JFK. But by the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, anti-vigilante sentiment leads to disbanding of the Watchmen. After the Comedian is killed, renegade vigilante Rorschach (Haley) goes to visit the godlike Dr. Manhattan (Crudup) as he suspects that someone is killing the Watchmen off.

I watched the movie without having ever heard of the Watchmen graphic novel before. Initially I found it a little difficult to understand, but I was drawn into the flow of the movie. The movie is dark and Gothic, totally unlike the conventional superhero movie. I haven't read any graphic novels, but the movie was how I imagined a graphic novel would be filmed: sleek, stylish and grand. Essentially, it examines how a hero is born and made; the rise and fall of heroes. It is a little disturbing, though, quite a lot of violence and gore. Some of the movie is told in flashback, as Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan reminisce about their lives as vigilantes. The soundtrack of the movie is especially cool, with awesome songs like The Times They Are a-Changin' and Sound of Silence picturised against a medley of haunting images from the vigilantes' lives. The dialogues are sharp and cutting, especially Rorschach's thoughts as written in his journal. I will have to read the book to fully understand the deeper layers of the movie, but I did like what I watched.

THE PROPOSAL
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds
Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Margaret Tate (Bullock) is a much-hated editor-in-chief at a publishing company, who is facing deportation back to Canada as her visa had expired. She bullies her hapless assistant Andrew (Reynolds) into agreeing to a fake marriage. They have to spend a weekend at Andrew's parents' home in Alaska to sell the lie. During the weekend, Andrew and Margaret connect as Andrew discovers a softer side of Margaret.

Honestly speaking, I'm not really a fan of Sandra Bullock, but I liked her performance as the cold professional Margaret. The movie has quite a few hilarious moments, such as the one when Margaret first enters the office and also when she's trying to retrieve her cellphone from the eagle. But she looks a little old for Ryan Reynolds; their pairing reminds me of the Shahid-Rani pair from Dil Bole Hadippa. I liked Reynolds a lot, though, he was charming, and I have a little crush on him. While I found this movie okay, my friends liked it a lot, so give it a try.

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New Award....and a New Design


When I first started my blog, I thought it would be an easy thing. I read quite a lot, and I have a lot of strong opinions regarding what I read, so it would be a piece of cake to maintain a book blog, right? Wrong! First, I realized that I couldn't write down everything I think about a book; I don't want to be rude or overly negative. Second, I actually don't read as much as a lot of other bloggers do. Third, blogging can sometimes be hard. Managing a hectic schedule leaves little time for reading, blogging and commenting, and you sometimes have to put in extra effort to regularly update your blog.

I passed my 100th post sometime back, and I didn't even notice it! Well, this is a belated celebration of me passing the century mark. This award is to all those prolific bloggers, who read voraciously, blog tirelessly and have made the blogging community such a vibrant place. This award is in recognition of their achievements and their enthusiasm. They are the people who keep me going!

There are a couple of rules for this award:

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

So, to get things going, I wanted to give this award to these really prolific bloggers who I visit very often. [Drumroll please]

J.Kaye's Book Blog
Alaine-Queen of Happy Endings
things mean a lot
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Books 'N Border Collies
The Zen Leaf
The Eclectic Reader

And I have a new design for my blog. The winter season is upon us, and I wanted my blog to reflect that, and the approaching festive season. So, how do you like my blog's new look?

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