Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye, 2014. Hello, 2015!

It feels like yesterday when I was sitting on my bed, writing a very similar post, talking about how the year had gone by so quickly.
Well, history repeats itself. Here I am now, one year later, sitting on my bed, about to talk about the New Year and how 2014 just raced by, stopping for no one.

Last year, I talked about the best and worst moments of 2013. This time, I'm going to incorporate a slight twist: when I mention the worst moments, I will do my best to find the silver lining.
Let's go!

My Best Memories

1) Graduated from High School
The year started off on a high note with my graduation ceremony, where I sat with my best gal pals, took some fantastic photos, and finally introduced my sister to my best friend. Also, I had to go on stage wearing a saree (and heels), but I didn't stumble or trip at all. Ain't that an achievement, Geeks?

2) Aced My Boards
I got really good marks in my board exams, and even though I definitely didn't study well enough for it, I got an 85 in Maths. I was so sure I was going to fail (here, I mean it in the literal sense, not my usual 'anything less than an A' sense), but somehow, I managed to pull through.

3) College of My Choice
After taking one of the hardest entrance tests of my life, I got into the college of my choice in the city of my choice. A fresh start was knocking on my door!

4) Finished My Novel
I finally finished the first draft of my young adult novel, 'I Hate You... Like I Love You!' which is currently being edited. Although I've written other novels previously, this is the only one that I'm actually proud of. I also started working on my second young adult novel ('Not That Kind of Girl'), which is almost halfway through now.

5) The Year of Fandoms
From Divergent in March to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in May to Mockingjay Part 1 in November, this has been a very exciting year, fandom-wise. I also rewatched TASM 1 and 2 about a hundred times (they're my go-to airplane movies), and I bought three Spidey shirts in red, blue and purple! I also bought a Spidey action figure. He now lives in my closet and gives me fashion advice.
Me: Should I wear this?

6) Fitness Goals
Within a few months of moving to Mumbai, I gained four kilos, a feat I never thought I could achieve! I finally crossed the respectable 40 kg threshold and I am proud to say that I work out five times a week and I do my best to eat healthy wherever possible. (This does not include bagels, because bagels are life.)
I'm going to do a fitness post soon, Geeks. Stay tuned.

My Worst Memories

1) Had to Leave Home
I had to leave my dear parents and move to a new city where I knew nobody and where I would have to live with strangers - I mean, roommates.
But on the bright side, I am now fairly independent. I can do my own laundry, use public transportation without cringing (more or less), and go out whenever I want to without asking anyone's permission.

2) College: Expectations vs. Reality
I guess I always thought college would be this magical place where everyone would be pretentious and philosophical and a fanperson like me; I would meet my future best friends on Day One and I would have the greatest time of my live.
Unfortunately, none of that happened. 
But on the bright side, I have made a few good friends, I've met one or two fanpeople, and the education at my college is top-notch, which, let's face it, is what college is actually all about.

3) Negativity
Maybe it was because of being so homesick and friendless and lonely all the time, but I started becoming incredibly negative this past year. I saw the worst in everyone - including myself. I judged people left, right and centre. And on some days, I didn't even want to do anything except sleep and cry.
But on the bright side, I finally realised what I was doing wrong and decided to be hopeful and positive instead. I've already started practising positivity and I can't tell you how much more relaxed I feel!


In short, while 2014 wasn't the best year of my life, it was still a year of changes. And change leads to growth. I am a very different person today compared to the person I was on 31st December 2013. I can't say for sure that I'm a better person, but I'm definitely more mature now.

I'm going to finish my soy milk and get ready for dinner with my family. How are you spending New Year's Eve? What were your best and worst memories? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Have a great time, Geeks! I'll see you next year. Bye!
And hey, 2015. Bring it on.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Things I'm Grateful For #2

Hello, Geeks!

With only a few days left for the new year, I decided to implement my resolution (to look at the bright side and be positive) as early as possible.
So, here's another list of things I'm grateful for. But unlike the first one, the things on this list are going to be as random as possible.

So, off the top of my head, here are some things I am very thankful for:

1) Cheese popcorn:
One of the best reasons to watch a movie in theatres instead of getting it on DVD... utterly, butterly, cheesy, delicious, orange-y popcorn that's finger lickin' good!

2) Strangers:
I don't enjoy meeting new people in general, but strangers are really interesting. I love talking to people I meet in the airport or on a plane because I know that I'll never see them again. Getting to know someone simply because you want to, and not for any hidden agenda... it's amazing. I've met so many incredible people on aeroplanes and I can't wait to meet more such people.

3) Winters:
I've never lived in a city where the temperatures fall below 15 degrees (Celcius) in the daytime, so I've always loved the months of November, December and January for the amazing weather that allows me to bundle up in cozy sweaters and blankets and have lots and lots of staying-at-home time!

4) Literary Webseries:
I am so thankful for creative minds like Bernie Su and Hank Green who have come up with modern-day adaptations of some of my favourite novels like Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Rewatching these 'webisodes' is like reliving those stories all over again!
5) Sport shoes:
Are there any shoes in the world better than sport shoes? They're multifunctional: you can wear them with dresses, skirts, jeans, shorts, and workout gear. You can wear them to college or the supermarket or the gym. And they always give your feet the cushioning and support they need.
With these darling shoes, I never have to worry about slipping or tripping or stumbling.

6) Emma Stone, Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence:
These women are intelligent, talented and absolutely hilarious. Isn't that a deadly combination? These are women I look up to, and I hope I can become more like them in the coming year.

7) Chick Flicks and Chick Lit:
Sure, I enjoy deep, meaningful movies and books that make you think, but my favourite genre will always be chick flick or romantic comedy. These stories make me smile and laugh and cry, and on days when I feel hopeless, I can always go back to these movies or books to remind myself that laughter and romance are two things that will never die.

8) Song for Zula by Phosphorescent:
This is one of my current favourite songs, the others being It's On Again by Alicia Keys and Heroes by David Bowie.
Give these songs a listen if you've got time to spare. All the songs on my playlist make me feel a different emotion, and I can't help but be grateful that these tunes and lyrics can change my mood in an instant.

9) Blue:
My earphones are blue. Most of my wardrobe is blue. My bedsheet, incidentally, is also blue. It wouldn't take a genius to figure out that it's my favourite colour.
I know some people think it's depressing, but I find that the colour blue calms me down. And when I'm calm, I'm at peace. I'm happy.
I think this is the main reason I wanted to be a Ravenclaw when I was a kid was. Even today, I feel like the Claws have got the best colour scheme. Just look at this beautiful GIF!

10) Peeta Mellark, Peter Parker and Chandler Bing:
Fictional men are so amazing I could write an entire blog post about them! Hey, real-life men are great, too, but there's nothing better than dreaming about a guy with Peeta's kindness, Peter Parker's intelligence and Chandler's humour.
Also, their actors are really good-looking, too - a sight for sore eyes!

I know these things aren't that meaningful or essential. Heck, I doubt they'd figure anywhere on Maslow's Hierarchy. But while I could live without them, I definitely don't want to. These are the small things that make my life wonderful. :)

There's a lot more to be thankful for, but these ten random things are enough for now. I'll save the rest for the next 'grateful' post.
Tell me: what are some random things that you're incredibly grateful for? It could be anything from your comfy blanket to your favourite subject in school. The comment box awaits your response!

I'll see you on New Year's Eve, Geeks. Bye!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Fresh Start.

So, the new year is almost upon us. And I don't know about you, but I'm actually caught off-guard because this year went by a little too quickly. Part of me is relieved that this year is ending, but another part - a bigger part - wishes I had more time to accomplish all of the goals I wanted to accomplish in 2014.

But that's the problem, isn't it? We always spend so much time regretting everything that's happened, thinking about all the time we've wasted and all the mistakes we've made. Why don't we ever look past these things and remember everything that's made us smile?

I know everyone says New Year's resolutions are a waste of time and effort. And to be honest, it's true to some extent. I don't know too many people who manage to stick to their resolutions for a whole week, forget an entire year. And I have a hard time with it, too.

I don't know about you, but my resolutions are either too complex ("I will write fifty inspirational blog posts this year!") or too vague ("I will work on my blog this year!"). They're either too far-fetched or so easy that I lose interest.

So this year, I'm going to do something different. This is 2015. This is a fresh start. I have a feeling I said this last year too, but this time, I really, really need a fresh start. Things haven't exactly gone my way this year, and I'm partly at fault for that. I spent too much time worrying about everything I was doing wrong instead of being happy about the things I was doing right. I spent so many mornings thinking about how horrible my day was going to be, instead of being excited about all the miracles that could happen if I just got out of bed.

I've spent the whole of 2014 being so negative that all I can see right now, when I look back, is darkness. And that is something I am not willing to take with me in the new year. 

Here's to a fresh start. Here's to a resolution that is both difficult and easy, that is both deep and simple: I will look at the bright side of things. I will give people a chance instead of pushing everyone and everything away. I will love myself instead of trying to find people who can love me. I will work on improving myself instead of cursing everything that's wrong with my life. I will remain positive, even when things go wrong.

Dear reader, if you've had a bad year, a bad week or even a bad day, then don't lose hope. A new year is coming. A fresh start is on the way. Heck, your fresh start can begin right now. All you need is the strength to believe in yourself and your strengths.

So promise me something. You're going to start living a life that you like. You're going to become yourself. You're going to be around people who love you for who you are. You're going to find your passion and follow the path that calls out to you.
And most importantly, you are going to do everything in your power to stay positive and happy and hopeful.

Here's a scene from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, one of my favourite movies, that might make you feel more hopeful about your life and yourself.

I hope you had a great Christmas and I know you're going to have a fantastic New Year.
Let me know in the comments: how excited are you for a fresh start? How are you going to make this year the best year of your life?

Until next time, Geeks. Thanks for reading. :) 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

'White Bird in a Blizzard' by Laura Kasischke: A Book/Movie Review

When Katrina Connors' mother walks out on her family, Kat is surprised but not shocked; the whole year she has been "becoming sixteen" - falling in love with the boy next door, shedding her babyfat, discovering sex - her mother has been slowly withdrawing. As Kat and her impassive father pick up the pieces of their daily lives, she finds herself curiously unaffected by her mother's absence. But in dreams that become too real to ignore, she's haunted by her mother's cries for help. Finally, she must act on her instinct that something violent and evil has occurred - a realization that brings Kat to a chilling discovery.

Sorry for the hiatus, Geeks. I've been dealing with some personal stuff lately, so I had to neglect the blog to recover in peace.
Anyway, I'm back for good!

Let's talk about White Bird in a Blizzard, a novel I had started reading a few weeks ago, as well as the movie which I watched recently after finishing the book.

The book blurb seemed interesting. It gave me a Gone Girl vibe, and since I'd enjoyed that book/movie so much, I had high hopes for this story, too. And this book had quite a few rave reviews hailing it as a 'literary masterpiece' and what not. I thought maybe this would be another dark and depressing teenage tale that would leave me wanting more (like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, which I'm currently re-reading).


The writing! What do I say? Almost everyone who loved this novel claims that the writing is superior to anything they've ever read. But it's so exhausting to read this book! There are metaphors and similes crammed into every single sentence on every single page with so much description and so few dialogues that it drove me nuts. I like deeper meanings, I do. But this book tries to be so deep that nothing remains on the surface.

Let me show you. I'm going to skip to random pages of the ebook now and cite a few examples.

"And the darkness below her seemed to rise like dough - flour and yeast and water mixed up with night. 
We were down there in that darkness, that darkness that might rise and rise, and push everything out of its way as it rose, as it pushed its way out of the living room, swelling up the stairs. It might smother her in her sleep with its sprawling, domestic flesh."
(Page 105-106)

"Once, between Cleveland and the lake, an oil glaze on that river caught fire like some stripper's slippery negligee tossed onto the water, and it went smoking through the city - through the suburbs, where the stench and the fames and the flames were politely ignored - and it passed, then, into the country, spitting cinders into the wind, burning itself past the gawking sheep and cows, polluted, viscous, all-forgiving mouth of Lake Erie."
(Page 27)

"I could still remember dancing with him in the gym: How young we'd been! A sudsy bloodbath of energy. Fat, in my pink dress, I was a sad valentine made by a child, made of cotton balls, dime-store doilies and paste - sentimental, pathetic, a little desperate, but sincere.
And all those sweaty nights on the couch, his kisses like blurred stars all up and down my neck. I was still fat. Together we were wading into a tepid lake. Carefully. The mud was soft and as loose as flesh."
(Page 143-144)

I hope that proves my point. Yes, some parts of those quotes have actually been written very beautifully, but so much stuffed into so few pages (less than 200 pages as an ebook), it gets to your head.
Looks like John Green studied at the Kasischke school of writing.

Similar to Gone Girl, almost every character here has crossed into the moral grey area. Especially the protagonist, Katrina.

What do I say about you, Kat?
Maybe all 80s teenagers were like this, but...

No spoilers, because these things have all been revealed in the movie trailer, but she seduces a detective who's twice her age while dating her high school boyfriend without blinking an eyelid at the fact that her mother has disappeared. And yes, the mother in question is definitely not a good mother in any way, but a little concern would be nice, Kat.

The book was quite vague, because there wasn't much of a plot. A couple of scenes here and there that serve as flashbacks, Kat's sexual encounters, tons of metaphors... I didn't know how they would translate this onto the silver screen.

The movie does a good job of portraying the story, however. The director, Gregg Araki, must have a lot of talent.
Shailene Woodley stars as the promiscuous teenager unaffected by her mother's death (except in her dreams). She looks utterly ravishing in her retro clothing and dark brown hair, and plays Kat in a remarkable fashion.

Desperate, lonely and jealous of her own daughter, Eva Green convincingly plays the mother in such a way that you dislike her even more than you did in the novel.
I also loved the actors who play Kat's friends, Beth and Mickey.

One thing that bothered me, though, was that in the novel, Mickey is a female cheerleader. In the movie, Mickey turns into a stereotypic feminine gay boy with rainbow coloured hair and a wardrobe to boot.

The ending of the movie, too, has a slightly different twist. We are also given more information, whereas in the novel, the ending is a semi-cliffhanger.
I'm not sure why they made these changes.

 Anyway, the story moves at a very slow pace up until the last fifty or so pages. Then things thankfully get interesting and we start to discover what really happened to Kat's mother (no thanks to the detective).
But, unfortunately, the 'twist' is as clichéd as they come and it fails to leave you thinking, "Aha! So that's what happened. I should have known..."
Instead, all you think is, "I saw that coming since page one."

I'm going to go with 2.5 stars out of 5 for the book and the movie.
The writing is a little insufferable, the characters are difficult to bear, and the only redeeming quality is the suspense and the great music (for the movie, anyway).
I can't tell you to pick one over the other, and I wouldn't really recommend it to you unless you're a Shailene Woodley fan or you enjoy deeper-than-John-Green metaphors. Oh, and this movie is rated R for explicit content. Keep that in mind if you're planning to watch it with your family.

Check out the trailer below:

If you've read this book or any other works by Laura Kasischke, let me know your opinions in the comments below.
Do you have any requests for book or movie reviews? Tell me, and I'll do my best to write a post for you.

Christmas is only a few days away, and so is home! Happy holidays, Geeks. Bye-bye! :)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

People Who Annoy Me #6: Skinny-Shamers!

How many times have you heard (or maybe even used) the following line? "Real women have curves", or the more popular variation: "Real men like curves". Or maybe this one? "Only dogs like bones".
How many times have you associated the condition 'anorexia' with a skinny person for no reason other than their weight?

Today I want to talk about something that I feel very, very, very strongly about.
Everyone knows about body shaming. It's a horrible phenomenon that is being perpetuated by the media and the beauty industry, right? That's why we have 'inspirational quotes' like the ones I discussed above.

Well, let me tell you something. I am a size zero. I am not anorexic. My body is natural. And I truly hope that real men look for compatibility and a nice personality, not curves or straight lines or any geometric figures.

I can't tell you how many times people have made comments about my weight and not even realised that they were hurting my feelings. Society dictates that we cannot say things like "You're so fat. Put that sandwich down!" or "So you're obese, right?"
And I agree, we shouldn't. But that does not mean we should ask people to "eat that sandwich" because they're "so anorexic".

One time, I had had a meal only an hour prior to my lunch break, so I wasn't hungry at all. I decided to just grab a snack instead of a full meal. What did my 'friend' say, with a chuckle? "Okay, you anorexic little girl."

Or how about that other time, when I was ordering dinner with some acquaintances, and one of them repeatedly said that we had to buy dinner for 'four and a half people'? That person kept asking me again and again, with a mocking expression, whether I really wanted to eat an entire portion or not.

And I really wanted to shout back at them. I wanted to ask them why they were being so mean. But here's the problem: they didn't know they were being mean! They didn't realise that they had said anything out of the ordinary, they didn't realise that they were being bullies, and I didn't know how I could explain it to them without coming across as an overreacting bitch.

There are a few skinny people who have the appetite of an elephant. I don't. But that doesn't mean I starve myself. I provide more than enough nourishment for my body, and I eat when I'm hungry and I stop eating when I'm full, like any other person. So please, people, you can keep those 'sandwich' comments to yourself.

I am tired of people acting like I'm fragile or malnourished. I am tired of people dictating what real men should and shouldn't like, what real women should or shouldn't look like.
I am tired of not being able to find my size in stores because apparently, holding size zero clothing promotes body shaming.

Appearances do not matter, as I mentioned in a previous post. Yes, health matters. Maybe we should focus on our mind and body instead of looking at the portions on other people's plates. Maybe we should find out the meaning of 'anorexic' before using it to describe someone. Maybe we should stop skinny-shaming and fat-shaming and start giving importance to intellect, and humour, and kindness, and fitness, and other things that actually matter!

And then maybe the world would be a much happier place. Maybe.
Rant over. I'm out.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

'The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)' by Robert Galbraith: A Book Review

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Hello, people!

Today I'm reviewing a murder mystery novel by our very own Queen, JK Rowling. She actually wrote The Cuckoo's Calling under a pseudonym (Robert Galbraith), and the novel actually did become a success before people found out the truth. After that, of course, everybody and their mother decided to read this book. Including...

Let me be upfront and tell you that I had tried to read Rowling's other book for adults, The Casual Vacancy, and I hadn't even been able to get through it. I don't know what it was about the writing or the story (or lack thereof) or the innumerable characters, but after that, I'd assumed that Rowling just couldn't write books that weren't about Harry Potter.

Well, this one proved my hypothesis wrong.

The Cuckoo's Calling is a little different from all the other murder mysteries I've read. First of all, the novel is written in third person with two perspectives: those of Cormoran Strike (the detective) and his assistant, Robin.
Instead of focusing on the crime itself, this novel takes a step back and chooses to examine the more human aspects of life. There are quite a few chapters that don't do much for the murder mystery, but are important to understand Strike's past and present. I suppose this way of writing was chosen because this book is part of a series, but at some point, it did bother me that the story was moving at such a slow pace.

But though the first fifty or so pages might be slow, the rest of the pages are very engaging. I found myself staying up nights to read this book, and finally, when I'd finished the book at 3:30 am a few days ago, I felt like I'd been part of that investigation all along.

Cormoran Strike is described as a tall and large, beefy man, and in my mind's eye, I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman as this protagonist (rest in peace, sir). I know he doesn't fit the character very well, but... the mind sees what the mind sees.
Strike isn't as fascinating a detective as, say, Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. This murder isn't as scandalous as you'd assume it to be. Strike's method of investigating isn't that incredible, either. Most of his interactions with the characters are in the form of interrogations. And those interrogations seemed to lead nowhere. When I'd only had around a hundred pages left to read, I had started to wonder how on earth Cormoran Strike was going to solve the mystery of Lula Landry's death without any clues or leads.

And then, suddenly, the ending sprang upon me, and it turned out that Strike was quite an intelligent man, after all. I'd had a hunch that I knew who the killer was (well, I kept jumping from one suspect to another, to be honest, but it still counts!), but I hadn't any idea about the motive or the means, and Strike explained it all very nicely.

One character I really appreciated was his assistant, Robin. A beauty with brains, I imagined Emma Watson with her quick wit and British accent as Robin throughout the novel. There isn't any romantic angle between them in this novel, but I'm wondering if that might change in the sequel.

So with the somewhat slow-paced storyline, a plethora of supporting characters you might just mix up, and the old-fashioned style of interrogation, what saves this novel at the end of the day is the writing.
Harry Potter might have been a children's book, but the way it was written would never have let you in on that little fact. JK Rowling can write, incredibly well at that, and that's exactly how she makes Cormoran Strike's investigations linger in your thoughts.

With that in mind, here are some quotes that stood out:

How easy it was to capitalize on a person’s own bent for self-destruction; how simple to nudge them into non-being, then to stand back and shrug and agree that it had been the inevitable result of a chaotic, catastrophic life.

It was nearly eight before he returned to the office. This was the hour when he found London most lovable; the working day over, her pub windows were warm and jewel-like, her streets thrummed with life, and the indefatigable permanence of her aged buildings, softened by the street lights, became strangely reassuring. We have seen plenty like you, they seemed to murmur soothingly, as he limped along Oxford Street carrying a boxed-up camp bed. Seven and a half million hearts were beating in close proximity in this heaving old city, and many, after all, would be aching far worse than his.

People liked to talk; there were very few exceptions, the question was how you made them do it. Some were amenable to alcohol; others liked a spotlight; and then there were those who merely needed proximity to another conscious human being. A subsection of humanity would become loquacious only on one favorite subject; it might be their own innocence, or somebody else's guilt.

Rowling has already demonstrated her talent for writing mysteries through the Harry Potter series (especially The Chamber of Secrets, The Goblet of Fire and The Deathly Hallows), and she weaves a believable murder mystery with her words in this book, too.
Sure, it may take some time for the novel to appeal to you, but give it a few chapters' worth of time, and it may surprise you.

I'm going to go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for The Cuckoo's Calling.
Once I'm done with the books I'm currently reading, I definitely will check out the sequel (The Silkworm), which sounds even more interesting than this one.

Have you read The Cuckoo's Calling? What did you think of this mystery? Had you guessed the murderer before the ending? Let me know all about your thoughts in the comments below.

Bye for now, Geeks!

Friday, 28 November 2014

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Movie Review (Spoiler-Free)

In District 13, after she literally shatters the games forever, Katniss Everdeen works to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends.

Finally, it's Mocking-Day! On a scale of 0 to 10, I've been... well... this excited for Mockingjay Part 1.

And now, here comes my review for the penultimate THG movie. 

The movie starts off a little slowly, with Katniss recovering from the events of the Quarter Quell in District 13, as Plutarch Heavensbee and President Coin attempt to convince her to take on the role of the face of the rebellion: the Mockingjay.

But then the movie picks up some pace, and you see a lot of crucial moments from the book come to life: Katniss' visit to the ruins of District 12, how she finds herself struggling to keep the rebellion and Peeta Mellark alive at the same time, and how she inspires the district rebels in ways she could have never imagined.

Some of my favourite scenes include the famous "If we burn, you burn with us!" sequence, Katniss' rendition of The Hanging Tree (this hauntingly beautiful song is still stuck in my head, by the way), and any scene involving Haymitch and Effie (or as the fans like to call them, Hayffie!).
I also loved the interactions between Katniss and Prim. This is, of course, one of the most important relationships in the series, and with every movie, this sisterly bond only gets stronger.

James Newton Howard's background score will give you chills and may bring you close to tears. I certainly found myself getting emotional a few times throughout the movie (especially towards the end), and the credit for that must go not just to the music but also to the actors on-screen.

Jennifer Lawrence continues to embody the character of Katniss with such finesse that sometimes you wonder if she really is just acting. Julianne Moore wasn't how I'd imagined President Coin to be like, but she pulls off the character - and the hair - very well.
A special mention to Elizabeth Banks as Effie - her character actually doesn't appear until the very end of the book, but I'm glad they gave her a bigger role. She provides quite a lot of comedic relief, and who doesn't love movie Effie, after all?

And Josh Hutcherson as Peeta... oh, I'm not supposed to give any spoilers, but even with so little screen time (he probably appears for not more than ten minutes), he delivers a very... memorable performance. I'm really looking forward to his role in the finale, where there's going to be a lot of scope for character development for the boy with the bread.

I'm not very fond of Liam Hemsworth or his character Gale, so he didn't make much of an impression on me, but I suppose the average movie goer wouldn't have anything bad to say about him in this movie.

In short, Francis Lawrence has done it again. With Catching Fire, he had had a lot to work with - interesting turn of events, the Quarter Quell, exciting new characters - but in this movie, by adding a few powerful scenes and cutting down on the slower moments, he commands your attention for every second of those 123 minutes. Well done, Francis, buddy. Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next time.

I'm going to go with 4.25 stars out of 5 for this one. 
A great movie adaptation for a somewhat drawn-out book, Mockingjay Part 1 is equal parts action, emotion and tragedy.
If you're a fan of the books or the movies, you wouldn't want to miss this one. So go to your nearest theatre, grab your tub of popcorn, and get ready for the movie of the year, because this one is simply...

Have you already seen Mockingjay Part 1? Let me know what you thought of the movie. Where had you expected the movie to end?
And if you've been living under a rock and haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out below:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 hits theatres on 20th November, 2015. I definitely will be waiting for that one with bated breath.

Meanwhile, I think I'll finish that Harry Potter movie marathon. This IS the Ultimate Geek Week, after all!
Next blog post will probably be a book review for The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (it's actually JK Rowling, but shhhh! That's a secret!), which I'm halfway done with.

Until then, bye-bye, my dear Mockingjays!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Semester One, Check // Just a Random Update #3

This semester is OVER!


How's it going, Geeks? This is going to be a brief update, but I felt it was necessary to make one to mark the day my first semester in college ends.

What? One-sixth of my undergraduate college life is over already? Feels just like yesterday when I was new to Mumbai, whining about the heat and the difficult-to-understand North Indian Hindi and all the strange people.

Although, to be fair, I still complain about those things. November is almost over and it's still so hot in the day! The nights are fairly pleasant, yes, but the humidity never ends. I NEED my winter so I can wear sweaters and hoodies and cardigans and those cute boots that my sister got me.
Please, Mumbai. Please.

The strange people don't seem that annoying anymore, though. I'm actually talking to my classmates willingly these days. It's a weird feeling to be... socializing.

But I kind of like it. Still, my alone time is precious and I cherish every wonderful minute of it.

My exams were so-so. Three were good, three were bad. I don't think I'm going to be known as the class nerd anymore. Still, it's too soon to say anything.
Anyway, we have a week off before the new semester begins, and I'm actually not going home. I'll be staying in Mumbai, spending my days being geekie. Lots of books to read (review of The Cuckoo's Calling coming up in a couple of days), movies to rewatch, TV show marathons to catch up to, and workouts to do. This week is going to be...

Plus, Mockingjay Part 1 comes out in less than two days! I've already accepted the fact that I'll be crying my eyes out. I mean... the scene where *spoiler* talks about his days as a *spoiler*! And when *spoiler* tries to *spoiler* *spoiler* after the *spoiler*!!!!!
I really can't wait to watch this one and see if it's better than the book. It probably will be, because I personally didn't like the last book that much.

Well, I've got my hummus, pickled cucumber and carrot tahini in a grilled signature multi-grain bagel waiting for me to eat it (it's much tastier than it sounds... and healthy, too! And HUMMUS! So good!), and I think I'll do a movie marathon of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
Let the Games (and the feels) begin.

I'll see you on Friday, with my review of Mockingjay. Bye-bye! :)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

5 Things Only Introverts Would Understand

Random, fun list time!!

Howdy, the internet! I thought I'd write about something close to my heart today. Actually, introversion resides deep within the core of my heart. It's a pity that a lot of people don't understand what introversion actually is. It's not being shy or being anti-social. It's just... a way of living.

Hey, I love hanging out with my homies as much as the next person. But after a long day of being around people, I like to charge my battery of awesomeness by being alone. Not because I hate people (well, to be honest, I do, but most introverts don't), but because being alone rejuvenates me.

Without further ado, let's get to the main topic of today's blog post. So, fellow Geek, you know you're an introvert when...

1) According to you, one of the worst sounds in the world is the phone ringing:

Imagine this scenario. You're cuddled up in bed, or on the couch, eating your favourite snack, watching your favourite show or reading your favourite book. And then, suddenly, in the midst of all that silence, in the midst of all that serenity, you hear a noise. Your body tenses. Your hands tremble as they hit 'pause' or shut the book. And then... you reach for your phone to see who's calling you.

Ugh! I don't know why, but the sound of my ringtone fills me up with dread. I usually keep my phone on silent for that very reason, but even the thought of my screen lighting up with someone's name and the call icon upsets me to no end.

I like being social. I really do. But do I have to do it on the phone, where you can't see me, where I have zero emoticons to express myself with, where I'll be subjecting people to silence because I don't know what to say?

Here's a message for everyone who knows me personally and is reading this: unless you're my sister, my mother or my father, please do not call me. (That goes for you too, best friend. Sorry, Man. You know I love you!) Even if I do pick up, you'll only get a half-hearted attempt at a conversation from my side.
Instead, why not drop a message on Facebook, or WhatsApp, or email? I find it so much easier to express myself in writing, and you'll probably enjoy my presence much more on the internet.

2) Music and books are your best friends:

It's the weekend. It's exam time. Your friends are too busy doing some last-minute cramming to hang out, but you've already finished revising... three times. Looks like it's going to be one boring weekend.... NOT!
An introvert is never bored as long as he or she has two things: earphones and access to a variety of books. Oh, and a music library. Three things.

My ideal weekend would be curled up in bed on a winter's night, drinking green tea, listening to soft music and reading a good book. I wouldn't mind having someone there with me - maybe a trusted friend, my dearest sister, or a handsome, fictionesque man who loves to listen to me read - but being alone doesn't make me uncomfortable at all.

I've gone to watch a movie alone. I've had breakfasts and lunches and dinners alone, multiple times. I've hung out in college an hour before college, alone.
But I've never really been lonely because I'm not actually alone. I have many different fictional worlds that I can delve into (with background music!), where I can spend minutes and hours and days and years thinking about things that have nothing to do with my own life. That's the dream!!!

3) You're just not a hugger:

There are always these people in every school or college or workplace who are obsessed with hugs. And I mean obsessed. They feel the need to hug you every time they see you. A simple 'hi' or a 'what's up' or even a fist bump isn't enough. Nope, they have to touch their body with yours just to greet you.
(Wow, that sounded weird.)

We introverts like our personal space. We have a little imaginary bubble around us that you just can't cross unless you're authorised to. The only people allowed to cross my bubble are my sister and my parents. (Once again, sorry, dear best friend.)

Hugs can be very comforting when I'm upset or when I've just had a horrible day. But all the time? No. Just... no.

4) You like talking, just not with random people about random things:

You're waiting in line for the lift, headphones in place and a nice train of thought forming in your head about that science fiction movie you saw yesterday. And then suddenly, the person in front of you turns around, and hey! It's your classmate whom you only know on a semi-first name basis!
And the lift is still five floors away, the classmate is opening her mouth to talk, so you have to take off your earphones and talk politely about things like homework or the weather or tell her why you left so early from that rad party last night.

Ugh! Is there anything worse than talking to mere acquaintances about things that are zero percent mentally stimulating?
I'm a talker once you get to know me. I can talk your ears off. I'm doing that right now, aren't I? Look how many words I've said so far on this very page!
But that's because this topic interests me. And because I know that a lot of my favourite people will be reading this blog.
If you're not my best friend or my family or one of my closest friends, do not talk to me about pointless things. Talk to me about the life lessons learnt from your favourite book, about new innovations in science, about the many problems with our justice system (do you know how many people are wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit? Do you?!). That's how you make friends with an introvert.

5) You're secretly happy when plans get cancelled:

So you finally agreed to go to your friend's friend's friend's birthday party. You agreed to go to that concert with the really cool DJ that you've never heard of. You said you'd love to go to that fancy dinner place with the really expensive food that you can't pronounce.
But then... the birthday party gets postponed. The DJ changes his mind about coming to your city. The fancy dinner place turns out to be fully booked.

And all you can think is... HURRAY! Now you can stay in your pajamas, hang out with a friend or two, have some tasty food, have a Sherlock marathon... and you won't even have to feel guilty about cancelling.
That's the dream, people. That's the dream.

These are the top five things that really define who I am as an introvert. Do you have any other awesome quirks that only we introverts exhibit? Do you have any cool quirks that you, as an extrovert, exhibit? Tell me in the comments below!

So... are you an introvert or not, fellow Geek? If you agree with some but can't relate to the rest, check out this personality test to find out a lot more about yourself. It'll also tell you how much of an introvert or an extrovert you are.

I hope you enjoyed reading this semi-personal post. Next time will probably be a random update, because my semester ends in just a few more days and I absolutely cannot wait! And after that.... the review for Mockingjay Part 1 will be out on November 28th, after I finish watching it, first day, first show.

See you then, Geeks. Bye! :)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

'Boyhood' Movie Review

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. 

An anonymous reader asked me to review this movie a few days ago, and this was my first review request, so of course I had to go and watch this film!

You don't get too many films like this one. This one doesn't really have a story, per se. There's no shocker in the middle of the film, there's no climax towards the end. This film is very general, but it's not generic.

It starts off very well, with some amazing music by Coldplay, and the first half will completely suck you in as you relive your own childhood, full of sibling rivalry and fandom moments and moving to new cities and schools (at least in my case). The first half is also very funny, but at the same time, it isn't light-hearted. There are a few moments which are very tragic and, unfortunately, a tad too dramatic.

The dialogues are very witty and the music is simply lovely. Watching all the actors age in front of your eyes is also really enjoyable.

However, as much as I related to the first half, I couldn't relate to the 'teenage' moments at all, although I'm sure many of my fellow classmates could. I was never a rebellious kid and I never really succumbed to peer pressure the way many people did and still do.
I guess in a way, the second half was sort of a let-down. Mason, as a child, is very likeable, but as a teenager... he becomes so clichéd! So does his sister, as a matter of fact. 

And a few moments do seem to drag... it doesn't help that the movie, within around 165 minutes, tells a story spanning 12 years. 

But at the end of the day, you don't get too many movies like this, whether English or Hindi. And with so many mind-numbing and brainless Bollywood movies releasing every week, it's good that we still have some sensible cinema to look forward to. 

I'm going to go for 3.5 stars out of 5 for this one. 
Great acting, dialogues and music, but if you don't have any patience, skip this one. Or, you know, if you're under 18, don't watch this. Because it's rated R for language.
Otherwise, keep an open mind and enjoy this movie. Be sure to check out the trailer below.

Thanks to the anonymous reader who requested this review. You rock, stranger! 

And the rest of you lovely readers - feel free to request any sort of blog post that you'd like me to write. Seriously, you have no idea how happy I feel when I realise that people actually like reading the stuff that I post online.

I've got exams just around the corner, but I've got a ton of ideas for some more blog posts this week. Stay tuned, Geeks. Bye. :)