Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Solomon Key by Dan Brown

Dan Brown's next novel 'Solomon Key' will be released in December this year? Perhaps this must be old news for most of you, but I knew of it only yesterday. Does anybody know more about it? I read that it is a sequel to the Da Vinci Code and there will be Robert Langdon in it..Please tell me if you know more...

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen



Book: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
First Published in: 1818
Genre: Fiction, Romance

Outline
:

At the age of nineteen Anne Elliot of Kellynch Hall fell in love with someone of no fortune or family status. As can be imagined there were problems. Anne’s father Sir Walter Elliot considered this attachment to be nothing but a shame. Lady Russell, Anne’s godmother approved of it either. What followed was persuasion. The engagement had to be dropped. There was to be no other way. Anne Elliot finally relented and put an end to the relationship. Captain Wentworth, which was the name of the unfortunate gentleman, left the country.

Seven years had passed after this course of events. But such heartbreak at such a young age had taken its toll on her. She was pretty but had lost her cheerfulness and bloom. But then nobody really cared. Her father Sir Walter had eyes and ears only for his eldest daughter Elizabeth who was beautiful and more or less similar to his own character. Elizabeth cared for her neither but preferred the company of a Mrs. Clay; a woman whom Lady Russell despised immensely. Anne’s younger sister Mary had married and was living in Uppercross Cottage, three miles from Kellynch Hall. Anne’s life was dull and her only real friend was Lady Russell.

Soon a serious problem came up. Elizabeth had been in charge of the house after the death of their mother. Due to the extravagance of both father and daughter they had fallen deep in debt. The only way out as advised by Lady Russell and the lawyer Mr. Shepherd, was to let Kellynch Hall. This was extremely unacceptable to Sir Walter’s vanity but alas there was nothing else to do. The family was to shift to Bath for sometime and no one was to know about the circumstances.

Admiral Croft and his wife were to be the new tenants. Sir Walter, Elizabeth and Mrs. Clay(to the dismay of Lady Russell) were to set off to Bath. Anne was to stay with Mary for sometime. But then Anne came to know of something which unsettled her- Captain Wentworth was Mrs. Croft’s brother! This was a shock to Anne but she strengthened her heart for such an encounter.

It was not long before Captain Wentworth visited Uppercross Cottage..And met her once again...
.....................................................................
What happened then? Was he still in love with her? Or would he fall for someone else and ignore her??
I won’t tell you...read and find out for yourself!

Viewpoint:
I find that whenever I write something after reading Jane Austen’s novels my style of writing becomes different somehow and the sentences tend to become longer than usual lol! Anyway I loved reading Persuasion very much. At the end of the day it is a love story but it has a wider scope. It is a study of human nature and how persuasion could change lives altogether.

Jane Austen has six completed novels to her credit, all of them special in its own way- Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Emma. I suppose Pride and Prejudice is the most popular and recommended book of hers. But I like all of them. Her style of writing is wonderful- witty, insightful and brilliant to read.

My Rating: 5 stars, I love Jane Austen’s novels!

Psst..
If out-of-date stories and unending sentences are not your cup of tea, you can read the modern version of this story in ‘Persuading Annie’ by Melissa Nathan. I will be posting the review of that book soon… So do come back later!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Happy Republic Day!

This day 58 years back India became a Republic. Wish you a Happy Republic Day!!


Friday, 25 January 2008

The final Harry Potter movie to be split??

There is a rumour going around that the last Harry Potter movie (which is based on the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) would be split into two parts and also that Steven Speilberg would be the director! Read this article which appeared in the Daily Mail.

Harry Potter


I think it would be great(if the news is true that is) to have two movies. There is so much going on in the seventh book that I don't think it would all fit in well in one film. I am sure that all those who have read the book will probably agree with me..

Agatha Christie novels- The Best among the best

Time for another Agatha Chrsite poll!

Ok, this time the question was really tough. I posted a poll in a community to choose the best Agatha Christie novel among the following:

1. And then there were none
2. Murder on the Orient Express
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
4. ABC Murders

As you may notice all the four novels are considered to be masterpieces. Anyway 207 Agatha Christie fans took part in the poll and this is the result:

1. And Then There Were None -85 votes
2. Murder on the Orient Express -48 votes
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - 51 votes
4. ABC Murders -23 votes

Verdict: And then there were none seems to be everyone's all time favourite! (It is my favourite as well)

Comments about the poll:Well, I was told off for not including these books- A Pocket full of Rye, Murder is Announced and Lord Edgware Dies (this is a superb book). Some commented that the poll was indeed a difficult one:-D These four are all recommended by Agatha Christie fans so you can start reading with any of these.

Book Review: The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Book: The Body in the Library
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Who dunnit
Published in 1942 by William Collins Sons & Co. in London, and by Dodd, Mead & Co. in New York
Sleuth: Jane Marple
Official detectives: Inspector Slack, Colonel Melchett
Location: Gossington Hall, St.Mary Mead, England

Overview:
This was one of the first Agatha Christie novels that I read. I was not then very familiar with her style of writing so was a bit confused because of so many characters. But once I started reading couldn’t put it down until I had finished it!

We can take a look at how the story takes shape, shall we? Read on…

Plot:
One fine autumn morning Colonel Arthur Bantry and his wife Dolly find something extremely unusual and unpleasant in their library- a woman’s dead body!! That too of a woman whom they had never set their eyes on. (So they say, never trust anyone in a mystery story ;-))

Naturally a lot of questions come up. Who is this girl? How did she get inside the library? How did she get murdered? Why there?? And does Colonel Bantry know the girl?? Has he something to do with the murder? It is a time for gossip in the little village of St.Mary Mead( It is interesting to read how a news spread in a village and how it gradually changes as it passes from one ear to another!!)

Police is informed and the ever energetic Inspector Slack and Colonel Melchett are on the case.
Mrs. Bantry is upset(she is a little bit excited too- the amateur detective in her has materialized) - of course a body in one’s library isn’t something one looks forward to. So she calls in dear Miss Jane Marple.

Miss Marple is an old lady who enjoys every bit of gossip that comes her way. But what makes her different from others is that she is shrewd and could piece together things clearly and logically. She is St.Mary Mead’s own detective and is known to the police for her brilliant sleuthing skills. However for anyone who does not know her consider her simply as a twittering old woman with a nose for gossip.(So you see, people tend to be a lot careless when talking to Miss Marple as they believe her to be quiet harmless!)

So Miss Marple arrives and soon sees the dead body. The young girl had been strangled to death. She was blonde, wore a lot of make-up and was dressed in a cheap evening dress. To Mrs. Bantry she seemed to be ‘unreal’.

Meanwhile the identity of the girl is found out…

And there is yet another murder to follow…

My opinion: Oh it was really good…Highly recommended! :-)
My rating: 5 stars! Excellent

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Free Backing papers for making Valentine's day Greeting Cards

Valentine's day is just around the corner. A time for love and friendship. So crafters, have you started making your greeting cards? I just made these backing papers proper for the occasion. Hope it will help.

Click on the thumbnail to view the full size of the image and download. You could use it as you like but PLEASE DON'T PASS IT OFF AS YOUR OWN!! That won't be fair, would it?





Check out more free backing papers in the 'Crafts' section.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Charlotte Bronte-A great English Writer

My visit to the Bronte Parsonage Museum was very informative and touching.(Read about it under the category Places). After that visit I had an urge to know more about the Bronte family. The following article is about Charlotte Bronte:-) Hope you would enjoying reading...



Who was Charlotte Bronte?
Charlotte Bronte was a great English writer of the 19th century. Her works Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette and the Professor are widely read and considered to be among the best in English literature. Born in an ordinary family, she became successful only due to her strong determination, hardwork and courage.

History
Charlotte was born on 21st April 1816 at Thornton, England. Her father Patrick Bronte was a priest in the church. She had four sisters -Maria, Elizabeth, Emily and Anne and a brother named Branwell. In 1820 they moved into the industrial town of Haworth, England, where Patrick Bronte was appointed curate. A year later, Charlotte lost her mother. Maria and Elizabeth died of ill health in 1825.

Juvenilia
Even from childhood Charlotte showed a flair for writing and had a vivid imagination. Along with her brother she made an imaginary land called Angria. Her younger sisters made their own land called Gondal. The four of them were very involved in the stories that they made up and together they made tiny books filled with miniscule writing. She read a lot and was interested in politics and current affairs.

An intelligent girl
As a student she was brilliant and even won medals for her achievements. Her intelligence and knowledge amused her friends. She also came to be known as a great storyteller. She was good at painting, sewing and knitting. One problem was that she was very short-sighted which prevented her from taking part in sports or playing the piano!

Appearance
Charlotte grew to be a short woman of about 4’9” height. Her hands and feet were delicate; in the words of Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of The Life of Charlotte Bronte ‘The delicate long fingers had a peculiar fineness of sensation, which was one reason why all her handiwork, of whatever kind - writing, sewing, knitting - was so clear in its minuteness.’ She had two dear friends- Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. It was with the help of the hundreds of letters to Ellen that much of Charlotte’s and her sisters’ lives were pieced together.She was not considered to be pretty and preferred to dress in simple clothes.

The novels
Emily and Anne Bronte enjoyed writing as well. In 1846, the three sisters published their collection of poems. Unfortunately it sold only two copies! But they did not lose hope and started writing novels.



Of the three sisters, Charlotte was the most ambitious and determined. Her first novel ‘The Professor’ was rejected a number of times by publishers. Still she did not give up and wrote her second novel ‘Jane Eyre’. This novel was accepted without hesitation and published in 1847. It became successful and was appreciated by many famous people at that time.

Anne Bronte's ‘Agnes Grey’ (1847) and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ (1848) and Emily Bronte's ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1847) were published but they did not live long to see their fame spread.

Death
In an unhealthy place that Haworth used to be, early deaths were not something new. Following the death of Branwell, Emily (30) died of tuberculosis on 19th December 1848. Anne (29) died of the same illness on 28th May 1849. After that Charlotte wrote and published two more novels ‘Shirley’ and ‘Villette’. They did not however have the same charm as that of Jane Eyre perhaps because of the great depression she was in while writing them.

Marriage


Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls who had come to assist her father as curate proposed to Charlotte in 1852. She rejected him at first but on 29th June 1854 they got married. The marriage was happy but a short one.

Death overtook Charlotte Bronte on 31st March 1855. She was 38. Her first novel The Professor, which failed to impress any publishers in her lifetime, was published posthumously in 1857.

The Bronte home at Haworth is now 'The Bronte Parsonage Museum' in recognition and memory of the family. Thousands of people come here every year to know more about this extremely talented writer and her equally talented sisters.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Book Review: Velocity by Dean Koontz

Book: Velocity
Author: Dean Koontz
Genre: Fiction, Thriller

The plot
Perhaps I wouldn't have checked it out if it was not for the book cover which said thus:

'If you don't take this note to the police, I will kill a lovely blonde schoolteacher somewhere in Napa County…If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman…You have six hours to decide…the choice is yours!'

Wouldn't you be curious if you read something like that? Well, I was. So read it.

The main character of the story is Billy Wiles who is an ordinary bartender working in a tavern in Napa county. For years he had lead a simple life with a sort of indifference to whatever was going on around him. 'Let the world go to hell if it had to' that was his policy. However he cared about one person. It was his girlfriend Barbara Mandel.

Unfortunately, Barbara was in a coma state. Three years had passed by now but she showed no improvement. Her doctor had lost all hope but Billy hadn't. He regularly visited her.

His dull and routine life is disrupted when he receives this unsettling note. His first instinct is to do nothing as was his nature. But as his mind becomes unsettled he consults his cop friend, Lanny Olsen. 'The work of a prankster' that was what Lanny had to say about it.

But soon the dead body of a beautiful blonde school teacher, Giselle Winslow, is found!! Even when Billy starts to realize that this was going to turn nastier, he receives the second note.

'If you don't go to the police and get them involved, I will kill an unmarried man who won't much be missed by the world. If you do go to the police, I will kill a young mother of two. You have five hours to decide. The choice is yours'.

With no actual choice other than finding the killer and stopping him, Billy finds himself being tortured both emotionally and physically by the totally evil killer. He could no longer be inactive and let the world go to hell as lives of innocent people rested upon him; including his own…

Viewpoint
This was the first Dean Koontz novel that I read. I found it quite thrilling, gripping and at times terrifying. I had not read many books in this category so found it a little disturbing.
If you love a nerve-racking story, you would surely like it. There is violence and torture to some level, so don't read it if you would rather not be disturbed by such horrors.

My Rating: 4 stars

About the author: Dean Koontz, a renowned author from California, has a number of international bestsellers to his credit including Odd Thomas, The Taking, The Face, Life Expectancy etc.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Backing Papers for Greeting Cards- Part 2

Ok, this is the second set of free backing/background papers for making greeting cards. If you missed the first set click here.

For full view click on the icons. Then you can save it to your computer.
If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments please post it here. Thanks :-)



Planks Background


Flowery Background


Teapot Background


Pepper Background


Colours

Saturday, 5 January 2008

What Agatha Christie fans are saying

I conducted a small poll recently in a community. I asked 100 Agatha Christie fans to choose the best book among the following which does not feature either Hercule Poirot or Jane Marple:

1. Endless Night
2. Crooked House
3. Ordeal by Innocence
4. Sparkling Cyanide
5. Haven't read any
6. Did not like any

Poll RESULTS

1.Endless Night - 16 votes
2. Crooked House- 17 votes
3. Ordeal by Innocence- 19 votes
4. Sparkling Cyanide- 26 votes
5. Haven't read any- 19 votes
6. Did not like any- 3 votes

So Sparkling Cyanide wins with 26 votes!!

It is interesting to note that 19 people haven't read any of the books! They are really missing out! My personal favourite is Crooked House..Other books the voters liked included And then there were none, Pale Horse, Why didn't they ask Evans?, The Man in the Brown Suit, Death comes as the End etc. Hoping to add reviews for some of these books. So stay tuned..


What is your opinion? Do you agree with the results?


Friday, 4 January 2008

Animation- A world where dreams work...

I have always loved the world of animation where anything is possible and creativity is the only limit..I even tried to learn the basics of 2d and 3d animation. But without much success! (drawing skill proved to be my limit (-:)Anyway it served one purpose- I realised how difficult it was to develop an animation; how much creativity, patience, concentration and hard work went into each and every scene...

Today I came across the website of Dream Works Animation, the makers of the much loved animated movies like Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the third, Madagascar, Shark Tale, Over the Hedge, and so on.

The website is just amazing.

The most interesting section is the trailers. I enjoyed watching the trailers of 'Shrek the third', 'Madagascar- The crate escape'(to be released in November 2008), 'Kung Fu Panda' (to be released in June 2008). It seems there will be a movie called 'Monsters vs Aliens' in the future!

The 'Interact' link lists wallpapers, widgets and games. There are only a few though...

In the section 'Studio' there are several interesting stuff. Like 'A day in the life' which has several videos explaining the process of animation.

'Animation 101' is both fun and informative. According to Dream Works, it takes almost four years to complete one project!!! That itself is an indicator of how crazy things must be behind the scenes. The various steps in making a computer generated movie are many- deciding the story, making a script, preparing the storyboard, making the story reel, making the basic characters, recording the voices, modeling the 3d characters, deciding the layout and camera angles, animating the characters, adding music and special effects- phew!! That is indeed a lot of work! So from now on when you watch an animated movie, remember the immense hardwork behind it. Perhaps you will enjoy and appreciate it even more!
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Ok, that is all for today. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Do visit the website and tell me what you think.