The North and South fever

Quite a few other bloggers have been bitten by the Richard Armitage bug, and I am the latest to join the bandwagon. After watching the Proposal scene over at Eva's blog A Striped Armchair, I decided to download the series from Youtube. But that is easier said than done, 'coz I have a very slow Internet connection. 4 episodes, divided into 6 parts each (on Youtube), and each part takes a minimum of 20 minutes to download. I've watched 1 episode till date, and I am developing quite a crush on Armitage. So that essentially involves me devoting all my time and broadband to finishing the downloads. I'll post a review of each episode as and when I finish it. And after that, I am going to go and drool over Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. So don't be surprised if I'm offline for most of June- two dashingly handsome Regency gentlemen await me.

If you want a glimpse into the series, check out the trailer below:

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REVIEW Animal Farm: George Orwell


My dad got me this book when I was in seventh grade, a time I was knee-deep in Frederick Forsyth and Jack Higgins and the like. I saw the title Animal Farm, and was like, Dad, seriously, I'm way out of my kiddo reading phase! He was like, it's 150 pages, just read it and we'll talk about it later. I reluctantly did, and am I not glad I did!

Inspired by the boar Old Major's words, the animals of Manor Farm drive out the alcoholic Mr. Jones and rename their farm Animal Farm. The Pigs, with Napoleon and Snowball in charge, speak of setting up an environment where all animals are equal, and the other animals, notably the horses Boxer and Clover loyally do as they say. But slowly Paradise turns ugly, when Napoleon drives Snowball out on charges of spying for the humans, the dogs come in and life becomes harder for everyone except the pigs.

Animal Farm is a searing look at Stalinist Russia. Orwell wrote this novel at a time when the world was courting USSR, and had great difficulty publishing his anti-Soviet satire. After I was told that this novel symbolised the events in the Stalin era, I could identify a few of the characters: Napoleon was Stalin, Snowball was Trotsky, Boxer was the common man. This book marked the beginning of my interest in world politics and actually got me started on Russian literature (though this novel was written by an Englishman). Animal Farm has all the hallmarks of a classic: simple writing, thought-provoking storyline inspiring a gamut of emotions, and a cast of characters that stays with you a long time after you've turned the last page. A lump forms in my throat every time I read about Boxer's death, Napoleon's actions will cause even the mildest of people to fume with rage. They say that good things often come in small packages, and this slim book is among the best you can get.

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REVIEW The Princess Diaries: Meg Cabot


Oh man, time really flies by! Almost a week without posting, and I didn't even realise it. Well, anyways, I read The Princess Diaries a long time back, but wasn't much impressed by it. I hear that it is a much-talked about book in the chick-lit genre, but honestly, I didn't like it that much.

Mia Thermopolis is your average high schooler, a little more average than she'd like to be, actually. When she finds out that her dad is actually the Prince of Genovia and she is next in line for the throne, life really changes for this tall, gawky teenager. She has to face princess lessons from her imperious Grandmere, while at the same time trying to figure out how best to keep the "princess" news from her schoolmates.

Compared to the movie, I felt that the book fell short in a large way. I was most disappointed in Grandmere. Julie Andrews had portrayed her to be a firm but nice grandmother, but the Grandmere of the book is not at all likeable. I actually didn't quite understand Mia's problem with being a princess, I thought it was every girl's dream. She doesn't want to be the average girl who everyone walks over, and she doesn't want to be the princess everyone likes. So what does she want? I know why the book didn't work for me: whiny narrators put me off at the start, and it's difficult for me to look past the constant complaining. Definitely not for me.

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India Decides 2009

Finally, finally, finally, the elections are over. The result is out, and the country's leadership for the next five years has (hopefully) been decided. The Congress has won by a thumpingly huge margin, the BJP is once again berating its luck (and also, Varun Gandhi) and the Third Front (mainly the Left) has been sidelined. The spectacle which started on April 16, draws to a close.

I am not really sure about how I feel about the Congress storming back to power. I appreciate the fact that it does not blow the Hindutva horn like the BJP keeps doing, and also seems to have an agenda, a plan for running the country. The BJP's lack of a cohesive agenda was, to me, one of the glaring deficiencies in the party's campaign. But, on the other hand, the Congress is a decidedly pacifist party. It usually caves in to it's coalition partners demands very easily (I'm not saying the BJP doesn't, it actually panders a lot to the RSS), like it had been doing with the Left for the past 5 years. However, this time, the Left will most probably be in Opposition, and hopefully the government will have more of a free hand in policy decisions. I did see some strength in the PM's decision to pursue with the nuclear deal despite the Left walking out, and I hope he displays this strength in future.

One of the biggest upsets of this election has been the Left's defeat in the Red bastion of Bengal. Last year, the Trinamool Congress won just 1 seat out of 42, that of supremo Mamata Banerjee. This time, they have taken 20, and along with their partner the Congress, have more than 25 seats, reducing the Left to a paltry minority. A crushing defeat which will have enormous repurcussions in my home. I'll talk more about this in a future post.

Well, I'm off to check out latest developments, especially in West Bengal. The curry is just heating up, and I want to see how it turns out.

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Author Feature: Eoin Colfer

I'll kick off my new monthly feature with this Irish author, born May 14, 1965. Happy Birthday, Mr. Colfer!!

Brief Bio
: Eoin Colfer was born in Wexford on the South-East coast of Ireland (a fact that features prominently in his writing). His first published book was Benny and Omar, based on his experiences in Tunisia; he, however, attained worldwide fame with the Artemis Fowl series, tales about a young criminal mastermind. Most of his works have reached the New York Times bestseller list at least once, and he has been commissioned to write the sixth instalment in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, entitled And Another Thing... His book, Half Moon Investigations, featuring Fletcher Moon has been adapted into a TV series by the BBC. To learn more about him, visit his website at

Selected Bibliography:

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident

Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code

Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception

Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox

The Legend of Spud Murphy

Benny and Omar

The Wishlist


The Supernaturalist

Half Moon Investigations

My Reviews:
Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony
The Supernaturalist

My Views: I liked the the two books I have read (I am halfway through another, and enjoying it). He is a children's writer, but the dark humour that fills his works will appeal to older readers as well. Also, there are elements of his books that are decidedly adult- Artemis blowing up the whaler with Semtex, the paralegals' actions in Supernaturalist. His Fowl series has been compared to Harry Potter, but there is a world of difference between the two. The Potter series have clearly defined good and evil characters, and you root for the good guys; but in the Fowl series, the hero is a criminal mastermind, cold and calculating. There are the take-over-the-world type of villains, of course, but the heroes who fight them are not perfect. But that does not take anything away from the wit and sarcasm throughout the books. However, I don't find his brand of humour to be particularly subtle. He sometimes takes the pain of pointing out the wisecracks, and that annoys me. Sarcasm loses its flavour when you add a tag.

Most of his books have a street-smart protagonist wise beyond his years (Artemis, Cosmo, Fletcher). They are more oriented towards young boys, a little violent, but there are some strong female characters also, atleast in the ones I've read. There is a lot of tech stuff throughout: the fairy gadgetry in the Artemis series, the sci-fi setting of the Supernaturalist, building a flying machine in Airman; that's another thing I like. You don't see much technology in fantasy books; Colfer's books stand out in this respect. Another nice thing is that every book is a standalone book, you don't need to read the previous ones in the series to get an idea of what's going on. But the best thing about his books is the non-stop action. It starts right from page one and makes every book a page-turner. I'm a big fan of thrillers, and Colfer is probably Forsyth for children. If you haven't picked up any of his books, give one a try. If you have, tell me what you thought about the writing. Either way, I'd love to hear what you've got to say.

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Happy Mother's Day

To my darling Mom, a very Happy Mother's Day. She is very special, and I owe a lot of what I am to her. I don't need Mother's Day to tell you this, but you influence my actions every day, with the values you have instilled in me. To all my dear aunts, Happy Mother's Day to you too. I love you all.

My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune. ~Graycie Harmon

My mother is a poemI'll never be able to write,though everything I write is a poem to my mother.~Sharon Doubiago

No painter's brush, nor poet's pen
In justice to her fame
Has ever reached half high enough
To write a mother's name.~Author Unknown

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving

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Author Feature: Introduction

I am 3 months old on blogosphere! Time really flies by, doesn't it? What can I say, I am having a blast blogging, and I really love the book blogging community, especially those voracious readers who have introduced me to so many new books. You guys are great!

Well, I thought I'd take the plunge into event hosting. I'll be starting a monthly feature called Author Feature where I'll write about my favorite authors. I'll provide a brief bio, bibliography and write about why I love them. Everyone is invited to join in the discussions, I'd love to hear your views. This is my first event, so I've got my fingers crossed. And I'm looking to try out a few of Blogger's features as well. Look out for the first feature, about an extremely popular children's author who celebrates his birthday next week.

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REVIEW Artemis Fowl: Eoin Colfer


I have one thing to say about this book- fantastic. I haven't been so enthralled by a fantasy book for a long time (enjoyed many, but not quite enthralled). Colfer has created one hell of a character in Artemis Fowl, one whose exploits everyone, young and old, will enjoy reading.

The Fowl family has lost its billionaire status, and twelve-year old Artemis Fowl has come up with a perfect plan to restore it- kidnap a fairy and get his hands on their gold. He steals the fairy secrets by decoding their Book, and then kidnaps LEPrecon Captain Holly Short, forcing Commander Root to send in his LEPrecon and Retrieval teams to the rescue. What ensues is a battle of wits between the fairies and Artemis, which could prove fatal to the young criminal mastermind.

I had so much fun reading this book. It combines smart writing with an explosive plot. The fairies are intelligent, but Artemis is one step ahead of them, and the tension makes for great reading. One of the coolest things about the book is all the tech stuff- the high-class gadgetry the fairies use and the ways in which Artemis manages to surpass them. The time-stop and the fairy helmet (oh, how I'd love to get one for my birthday) are the best gadgets I've read about in a long time. Colfer uses some age-old myths and rehashes them to come up with some of the plot elements, especially the climax. I love the devious Fowl, but my favorite character would have to be Foaly, the eccentric yet brilliant techie (his interactions with Root are hilarious). An ultra-cool book (I'm using 'cool' a lot, but I can't help it), with fireworks from start to finish.

Read the book? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Read another review at: A Reader's Journal

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REVIEW The Devil Wears Prada: Lauren Weisberger


This book was part of the flurry of reading I went through after reading Inkheart, and I said that my choices weren't that...I had a lot of expectations after watching the movie, but the book let me down.

The basic story is the same. Andrea Sachs is a recent graduate, looking for a job to build her resume, on her way to writing for the New Yorker. She lands a surprise job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, editor of the Runway magazine, and enters the fashion industry. She is regularly insulted by the fashion-snob employees at Runway for being too "fat" and ignorant about fashion. Andy is overworked by her demanding boss, and slowly starts moving away from her family, her boyfriend Alex, and her best friend and roommate Lily, as she gets sucked into her job.

What I didn't like about Andy was that she was too self-absorbed from the start. She struck me as selfish and uncaring, and her reaction when she hears of Lily's accident is downright mean (she curses Lily for being an obstacle). You might say that it's an effect of her job, but I thought otherwise. Miranda's character is not fleshed out the way it was done in the movie: she did not seem as impressive as Meryl Streep portrayed her to be. The ending was also a little abrupt for me. But the book gives a good picture of the snobbery in the fashion industry, the grime behind the gloss- the long hours, the starvation syndrome, the size-zero mania. But if I had a choice between the book and the movie, I would recommend the movie as I think it is more tightly scripted than the book.

Have you read the book? What did you think about it? How did it compare with the movie?

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