If you have nothing else to read NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland is passable

Need to KnowNeed to Know by Karen Cleveland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard this book recommended on the Just the Right Book Podcast: Episode 61 and it sounded really interesting and promising. But it falls quite far from that description and review.

I would call this a page turner yes, a good book to read when you’re travelling
if you don’t have anything else at hand
if you’re looking to break your reading slump.

Reminds me of the Twilight series, not great but keeps you hooked till the end.

Entertainer – can totally see this being turned into a film.

I didn’t connect with the protagonist at all, story and characters not memorable, and I really wish Vivian’s character learnt to be less naive because CIA analysts like her would be the nightmare of the American intelligence machinery.

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The Fourth Protocol -Book & Movie Review

The Book

3.5 stars.

This was the first Frederik Forsyth for me and I was very excited to get my hands on a first edition copy of the book from a second hand sale. Even found a small souvenir inside from the last owner of the book maybe – a sticker with English Cox and the British flag printed on it. A quick Google search told me this was a brand of apples in the UK! Funny connection. Almost like a clue to suit the novel’s genre.

Took me exactly a month to finish as the initial 100 pages were so detailed and had so many dimensions and names and secret service manoeuvres across the MI5, MI6 and KGB that I lost track and interest too. There were some very interesting facts in there too, with Kim Philby as a key character, who I discovered was an actual double agent and defector to USSR, and also a certain section where Forsyth mentions Ian Fleming and how he modified some terms from the real MI6. But I read nearly 70% of the book in the last 3 days and the story picked up quite well. I enjoyed it after all.

The Movie

1 star.

A movie was made soon after the book’s release and its runaway success, starring Michael Caine and a young Pierce Brosnan. But take my advice and don’t watch it. It completely ruins the book, makes several plot changes and over simplifies the whole operation that is actually very very complex and much more interesting than what the film shows. I was surprised that Forsyth being one of the producers of the film allowed that to happen. The one thing that stood out in the book was the absence of any key characters that were women. But the movie takes care of this aspect more than willingly in more than one instance that adds nothing to add to the plot but only reminds us, that well, this is Hollywood.

Before Sunset – – Movie Review – – Spot on!

I’m always scouting for good cinema to watch on a weeknight in bed before I call it a day and most times I’m in the mood for something light, interesting and meaningful. Something that leaves a lingering effect, a thought or feeling behind. Most times these turn out to be light romantic comedies or chick flicks – – which are a one time watch and forget affair – and just end  up being freed space on my hard drive. So it feels great when I come across something that just blows me away.

The modus operandi of choosing a movie is generally by watching trailers on Youtube plus a quick read on Wikipedia , IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes.

This is how I pretty much came across “Before Sunset” as well. And am I glad I did!! (Though I dont think I read up too much on it, as i didn’t realise it had a prequel too. But more on that later.)

The movie sat in my downloads folder for about a week ten days before I reluctantly decided to check it out.You know how sometimes you want to watch a movie but don’t have the patience to tolerate a single boring moment or a slack in the story…..most weeknights that’s how impatient I get – – have turned off many films within 2 minutes of them running.

So here’s a movie that is solely based on “dialogue”. It is one continuous dialogue that goes on for an hour and 17 minutes straight and keeps you glued in at every point in the conversation.

The performances nail it to the 100th percent – both the actors Ethan Hawke  and Julie Delpy are such naturals that at one point I wondered if they  even took a break to re do a take.

The story in a gist is that both characters are meeting nine years  after their first meeting which lasted only an evening (thats the prequel Before Sunrise – – which is next on the list to watch). They are complete strangers to each other except that one evening they spent together and then lose touch completely.

When they do meet up after 9 years, there is a suppressed excitement but also the happiness and connection between them that makes the flow of conversation so effortless. The performances are so well done that the viewer relates exactly to how they feel and starts hoping for the conversation to go in a direction that makes their obvious but muted feelings for each other clear. There is a subtle “edge of the seat” build up in their conversation as time passes – but also a slight fear and dread that they may end up losing each other again.

The two long lost acquaintances catch up over a walk in the park, a cup of coffee and on a short ferry ride. They share ideas, thoughts and opinions – just like any two people would, which makes this film so real and natural.

Well adapted characters, clean crisp screenplay, and a great script down to the last detail makes for a very pleasant and memorable movie experience. It is commendable when a movie can sustain itself over just the 3 basic elements and no other frills to cover up 🙂

5 on 5 and two stars!!! if you’ve seen it, maybe you’ll agree, if you haven’t, you have to go watch!

An evening very well spent 🙂 Gunnight folks!

The Hunger Games – The Movie finally comes….


The Hunger Games movie obviously could not have matched up to the book, but it came very close in replicating a lot of detail from it, making it quite a treat to watch for someone who has read and loved the book. To see the physical manifestation of the picture one creates in the mind when reading is one of the reasons why it is always so exciting to watch the movie when you have read the book.

3 things stood out for me.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen of course – perfect casting choice in my opinion. Not the dainty, helpless or staggeringly petite girl one would imagine going by the trend these days – but a very real, grounded, agile, strong girl who completely represents the district she comes from – where life is tough and nothing comes without a fight. And yet, you find her standing out among the crowd.

Stanley Tucci as Caeser Flickerman – I have grown to love this actor from watching him in films like The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, Shall We Dance, Maid in Manhattan, Conspiracy, etc. In The Hunger Games – he plays a not so central character with such effect that it seems like many of those scenes would have lost their charm without him. He has a typical quality that speaks so highly of him as an actor that I just enjoy every role he plays and adds that extra something that makes it a memorable one for me.

The other actors like Elizabeth Banks with her over the top fashion style as Effie trinket, or Lenny Kravitz as Cinna are also fairly contributing to the movie – though I think their roles were much more powerful in the book. And the two boys – Josh Hutcherson and Liam Helmsworth were just OK.

The Recreation of the Capitol and the Games Arena is so awesome and spectacular and I am so glad to have seen this movie on the big screen at least once to experience the scale of the sets and effects and the design. I think what really adds to the appeal of this movie is the attention paid to detail. The people of the Capitol, how they dress, the city itself and in comparison District 12 and its own inhabitants. The way the character and feel of the book have been kept intact and reproduced is commendable.

Then there was the game maker’s laboratory – wooo! Sheer Delight!! Really was like a peep into 100s of years from now what a dystopic society would look like. Again, very believable.

So as someone who completely adored the book, and the series – this was a very good attempt indeed. Only maybe the concluding minutes could have been a little more elaborate – coz for those who may not have read the book and especially the series – it would really look like it ended abruptly.

I would give the movie a 7/10 . Sad that there is a controversy about using african americans to play some of the characters like Cinna (District 12’s designer/stylist), Rue and Thresh (Tributes from District 11).

I thought Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and the girl who played Rue were perfect for their parts – did not even realise their non-white status  until I had heard about this controversy.


The Help – book & movie review :)

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been a different experience for me. Especially since I started reading it around 7 pm last evening after I got back from work and stayed up till 4 in the morning reading and watching the movie simultaneously.
The sequence was something like: Read – Eat Dinner – Read – Watch first 30 mins of movie – Pause – Read a 100 pages – Watch the next 1 hour of the movie – Pause Read another 50 – Finally finish the movie 🙂
Totally worth it for some strange reason – the only mistake i made was doing this on a thursday night with a full work day ahead of me rather than wait another day to do it !

Anyway, coming to the book and why i liked it so much. I think it is a well told but sad and heartening tale about how the color of skin can rule the minds of people. I dont have too much knowledge about the condition of the African-American people in Jackson in the 1960s but a fair bit enough to understand the hypocrisy of the white people in discriminating against them and very vociferously so.

On the one hand there were segregations in every aspect (based on the Jim Crow Laws) – like eating at the same table as a colored person, using the same toilets (believing that the colored people had a different set of diseases), drinking from the same water fountain, there were even separate libraries, schools and colleges. All in the name of the “separate but equal” concept.
And yet, the white households couldn’t have functioned without their colored help. From cleaning their homes, to preparing their meals, to raising their children…. to being a a support for a dysfunctional family…..

I guess the book brings this out very well.

References to real life facts from that period also put things in perspective very well to understand the situation and environment during that time.
Like the Medgar Evers (civil rights leader) assassination in 1963 by Byron de la Beckwith, a White Citizen’s Council member. Beckwith underwent 3 trials for the murder, of which the first 2 trials resulted in hung juries and he was only convicted 30 years later in 1994 – which says a lot about the level of white supremacist activities that continued against the African Americans for a long time to come.
But this is just one such example and the little bit of reading on this has led me to the movie “Ghosts of Mississippi” – which is based on the courtroom trial of Beckwith in 1994 – which i will be watching soon enough.

Talking of which, i must say that The Help (movie) is very well made too. A movie can never be as good as the book but it sure is fun to watch real live characters from the book on screen. I have to say that Aibileen was my favorite in the book and and in the movie too.

I think this book should be read just to understand how discrimination on any ground – color/religion/region – is such a sad thing – since the other person is also just another person like you or me 🙂 and the color of the skin is superficial only.

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