Reading, Living and Reviewing

Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts

Guest Post: Top 5 End-of-the-year Family Movies You Should Definitely Catch

Thursday, December 11, 2014
There are movies and then there are movies you just can’t miss. For those who can’t be bothered to spend time figuring out the latter, we’ve put together this quick reference guide for some of the best family friendly movies hitting theaters before the end of 2014.
Movie night” by Ginny, licensed under CC BY SA 2.0
Penguins of Madagascar (Release date - Nov 26)

The scene-stealing penguins from Madagascar just got star billing and decided to celebrate with a madcap adventure across the world, in a bid to defeat the world’s evil-lest octopus masquerading as a scientist. DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar (not to be confused with the T.V. series) is a non-stop action-animation comedy stuffed with the silliest jokes and one-liners you just can’t stop laughing at. But the laugh riot also has plenty of heart and a small romantic sub-plot between Eva and Kowalski. Kids who love action movies and the Madagascar series are sure to love Penguins of Madagascar!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Release date - Oct 10)

If you think there’s no such thing as a bad day, you probably just haven’t had one. Eleven-year-old Alexander and his family can attest to the truth of this statement as they experience the worst day of their lives – a day during which his 13-year-old sister accidentally gets drunk on cough syrup; his dad sets his shirt on fire and his 16-year-old brother has a car accident as he answers a call on his cell phone during a driving test. Not to mention other totally random incidents that add to the chaos and the mayhem. All because Alexander, frustrated by his family’s lack of sympathy, made a birthday wish that his family should get a taste of what’s it’s like to have a very bad day. But the family eventually manages to come closer and stay strong in the face of adversity in this oddly heart-warming Disney tale based on a children’s book.

The Book of Life (Release date - Oct 17)

On the Day of the Dead, Manolo, a sensitive dreamer, must travel through magical mystical lands and return safely if he is to win the heart of his one true love. What he doesn’t know is that the lords of the Underworld have a bet over who will eventually win Maria – Manolo or his rival, the arrogant but heroic Joaquin. The Book of Life is a colorful, animated fantasy-adventure with stunning visuals and a message that lodges the movie firmly in your heart. The movie is also an invitation to explore Mexican culture as it takes you through the Day of the Dead celebrations and the ancient myths and legends of Mexico. All in all, an interesting and highly family-friendly adventure by 20th Century Fox.

St. Vincent (Release date Oct 24)

A cantankerous misanthrope turns babysitter for a skinny bullied 12-year-old with some totally unexpected results. When Oliver’s overworked single mom entrusts her son to her neighbor’s care, she has no idea it’s going to lead him to the race track, the dive bar and the strip club – or that the trips will lay the foundation of an unlikely but beautiful friendship. Vincent becomes the guide and mentor that Oliver never had, and the boy sees the good in the friendless old man that no one else can. St Vincent is a must-watch for families!

Annie (Release date Dec 19)

The subject of a popular Broadway musical and a 1982 blockbuster comes to life once again, this time in a modernized avatar. Annie is an orphan who manages to retain her sunny temperament and never-say-die attitude despite her tough life. She manages to escape her horrid foster mom and corrupt orphanage manager when a business tycoon takes her in as part of his New York mayoral campaign strategy. Annie is slated to be a family entertainer and definite crowd puller, judging from the trailers!

That rounds up some of the movies I have watched and will be watching with the family this year. What’s on your list?

Author Bio:

Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at

Guest Post: Top 3 Kids’ Movies of 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (March 7)

Meet Mr. Peabody, the smartest and undoubtedly most accomplished dog in the world, evident by the way he wears a bowtie and spectacles. This guy is a man of action – he can play dozens of musical instruments, speak every language spoken on this planet and is a Nobel laureate who has the distinction of advising heads of states on important matters. Enter Sherman, who is his legally adopted son. One fine day, Sherman decides to take their time machine (called WABAC) for a spin to impress his friend, Penny. As luck would have it, it leads to disastrous consequences – in the process, he rips a hole through the universe, managing to wreak havoc on some of the most important events of world history. Does Mr. Peabody come to the rescue? Watch it to find out!

Fast-paced and the wonderful use of 3D techniques make this a completely delightful movie to watch. As Mr. Peabody proudly announces, “There’s no doubt about it… every dog should have a boy.” And, if I may add, every boy and girl should go watch Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)

One of DreamWorks’ most widely-acclaimed computer-animated 3D action fantasy films, How To Train Your Dragon 2(HTTYD 2) is the sequel to the 2010 film based on the book series by author Cressida Cowell. Hiccup (the son of the Viking Chief) and Toothless (his friendly Night Fury dragon) make an indomitable pair, willing to risk their own lives to save the other. As they chart unmapped territories together while journeying through the skies, they chance upon a secret ice cave teeming with hundreds of new wild dragons. Danger is imminent – the villainous Drago has plotted a massive invasion. Will Hiccup, Toothless and the other dragon riders unite, to change the future of both men and dragons?

Touted to be the mother of all animated sequels, this movie is undoubtedly the most-awaited flick this summer. The Cannes film review sums it up this way: “Braver than ‘Brave’, more fun than ‘Frozen’ and more emotionally satisfying than so many of its live-action counterparts, ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ delivers.”

The Boxtrolls (September 26)

The Boxtrolls are a group of underground, cave-dwelling monsters who go about collecting all sorts of trash as a way of living. This community of quirky, naughty creatures has lovingly raised an orphaned boy called Eggs. Enter: Archibald Snatcher, the villain of the story (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley’s voice), who hatches a plot to exterminate the entire community at one go. The time has come now for the hero of the story – Eggs – to venture above the ground and ‘into the light’, to see if he can come up with a plan to save his family. The movie is based on Alan Snow’s novel for children called ‘Here Be Monsters!’

“In a town probably not unlike your own… Deep below the homes and cobblestones… Down, down through sewer tunnels and manholes… Exists a family of squares called the Boxtrolls.” Enough said. This movie deserves to be waited for.

Sneak Preview:

Author Bio:
Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at

Guest Post: 15 Best Movies About Books

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Movies that focus around books or writers have a lot of material to work with. They often explore the complicated relationships that humans have with stories and how a story can change the lens with which we view the world.

No matter the storyline, they remain some of our greatest (and most favorite) movies.

Photo from
The Neverending Story
This 1984 classic is based on a German fantasy novel. It follows the story of a young boy who “borrows” a book called the Neverending Story from an old bookshop, only to discover it’s an epic story about the courage of the human spirit and the darkness of human despair.

Stranger Than Fiction
In this 2006 film, Will Farrell plays Harold Crick, an IRS agent with an unremarkable life. That is, until he suddenly becomes the main character in a novelabout his own life — complete with a narrator.

A 2002 film based on Susan Orlean’sThe Orchid Thief, Adaptation actually focuses on the struggle to turn The Orchid Thief into a feature film.

The Shining
This movie follows the mental breakdown of a writer who takes a job as a caretaker for a remote hotel. After being trapped by a snowstorm, the man, guided by a supernatural presence, attempts to murder his wife and child.

The Pagemaster
This 1994 animated/live action movie follows the story of boy who ends up in a library, hits his head and eventually ends up in the stories of the books that surround him — with a few big-personality books to keep him company.

A biographical film about Truman Capote, this film looks into Capote’s relationship and fascination with a family friend’s violent tragedy as he writes his own book, In Cold Blood.

Fahrenheit 451
Based on a novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian future where firemen are tasked with destroying books. The story focuses on one fireman whofinds himself questioning society and his role in it.

Misery tells the story of an author who ends up at a remote house being cared for by an “adoring” fan. After he shows his caretaker his new manuscript, however, he learns just how far she will go to keep him in the house.

The Ghost Writer
Based on Robert Harris’s The Ghost, this Roman Polanski film tells the story of a British ghostwriter recruited to finish the memoirs of a former prime minister in the midst of major scandal.

The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is the classic story within a story. The movie, which tells the love story of the beautiful Buttercup and Westley, a simple farm boy, is framed by a grandfather reading the story to his grandson.

The English Patient
This movie follows the complicated life story of a burn victim toward the end of WWII. Though he can’t remember much about his life, he gets flashes of his past from a copy of the histories of Herodotus and clues found inside.

Wonder Boys
Wonder Boysis a day in the life of Grady Tripp, a professor of creative writing who is attempting to finish his second book. When his editor comes to town to check on him and discovers that Tripp’s 2,000-page book has noending, he discovers some talent in one of Tripp’s students.

The Notebook

The Notebook is the story of Noah and Allie, two young lovers with a complicated life. The entire movie is told via a diary that Noah has written about their life together that he reads to his ailing love each day.

The Hours
The Hours is based on a Pulitzer-prize winning novel (by the same name) written by Michael Cunningham. The film follows the story of three women whose lives are touched and changed by their relationships with the book Mrs. Dalloway.

Finding Forrester
Finding Forresterfollows the story of a young black student named Jamal Wallace and his relationship with reclusive writer-turned-writing-mentor William Forrester.

Author Bio
PiyaliSyam is the Community Relations Manager for @WashULaw, Washington University in St. Louis’s online LLM program, and Managing Editor of LLM Info. Outside of work, she enjoys reading books and watching movies (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the post above).

Guest Post: Books and Booze

Sunday, November 24, 2013

There’s not much fresh to be said about the relationship between writer and booze, reader and booze, book and booze. Both alcohol and writing have long histories and purposes rooted in fostering a connection from person to person—however confused, convoluted, and inebriated that connection may be. In this post I’ll be writing to you about some books that I love, hopefully ones you might have passed by (though if you’ve read them, good on you) and pairing them with thematically, though sometimes facetiously, related cocktails or pure spirits, just to marry two of my favorite things even more intricately. I should probably go get myself a dram or two.

Image From
Bruce Machart’s The Wake of Forgiveness & George Dickel Superior No. 12 Tennessee Whisky: Machart writes a ropy, muscular, sometimes effulgent story of brothers in Texas raised by a mule-driver of a father who literally makes his sons pull the plow across their fields. (Their father saves his horses for racing.) Dickel Whisky, on a night around a bonfire, within stumbling distance of the barn and a little drunk already, tastes precisely like horses smell.

Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps & Lucid Absinthe: Honestly, you probably need to mix in some other substances to get the true marriage of intoxication and elocution that Krilanovich achieves in The Orange Eats Creeps, which is about slutty teenage hobo vampire junkies in the Pacific Northwest. It is exactly as crazy as it sounds, but, much like an absinthe drunk, also floatily, intangibly sad.

Willy Vlautin’s The Motel Life & lots of well drinks at various dives in Nevada: Willy Vlautin is a favorite of mine more because of his genuine, sorrowful lyrics heading Richmond Fontaine than for his prose, but his prose carries these same precepts into a character-driven book about two brothers getting beat by life at every turn. Reading The Motel Life, you’ll need at least a case of beer and a bottle of Old Crow, and you’ll be feeling just as bad as the protagonists in the morning. Seriously, Old Crow will ruin you.

Charles Bowden’s Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields & Booker’s Bourbon and several drops of Cholula Hot Sauce: This book, if you’re unfamiliar with the goings-on in Mexico in the past ten years or so, is a paradigm-changer. There is little to say here about the book that will properly convey what it contains. Rather, the cocktail pairing does a better job. Booker’s is a high-proof bourbon (125+) that is a bit pricey and so powerful to taste it’s almost strictly medicinal. Round that out with some high-heat hot sauce and you’ve got a drink meant more to burn something out of you than get you pleasantly drunk, much like the book is not a pleasant thing, but a necessary one.

Eric Shonkwiler’s (that’s me, you don’t need to scroll up or down to confirm) Above All Men & a dusty bottle of Old Grand-Dad: I was drinking a lot of Old Grand-Dad while writing Above All Men. It’s a solid lower-shelf bourbon, leaving behind most of that peanut-y finish cheap bourbon tends to carry, and perfect for drinking alongside my book for its unassuming, blue-collar drunk that’ll come back and get you in the end. The book features a shellshocked war-vet farmer battling Steinbeckian dust storms, a slick mine owner, and the economic collapse of America (clearly light reading, good for sunny afternoons or vacations to the Outer Banks). There isn’t a whole lot of drinking in the book, but I like to think that the bottles that go unnamed are my dear Old Grand-Dad.

Author Bio:
Eric Shonkwiler’s writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Fiddleblack, [PANK] Magazine, and Midwestern Gothic. He was born and raised in Ohio, received his MFA from The University of California Riverside, and has lived and worked in every contiguous U.S. time zone.

Guest Post: Get into the holiday spirit watching these Christmas movies

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Image from

          A burning fireplace, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, all family members sitting on the sofa after the delicious dinner, enjoying the lovely Christmas atmosphere – oh, what harmony! And what could be a better ending to the perfect  evening than watching an interesting movie that will get you and your whole family into the best Christmas spirit. There is a number of great Christmas movies that you just have to watch. Or even if you already have, you will surely not mind at all to watch them again (and again, and again).

Home Alone (1990)
          We can't talk about Christmas movies and not remember of Home Alone. It's perhaps the first one to occur to our minds when discussing movies to give us the Christmas vibe. It's such a lovely and loved sequel movie that makes us think that there is hardly anyone who hasn't seen it. It tells the story of a cute 10-year-old boy whose parents forget him at home and leave on holiday. The boy goes through a lot of funny moments while defending his home from two clumsy thieves.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
          This is an animated fantasy about the consequences of Halloween taking over Christmas. It's an old but interesting movie that is fun to see, especially if you want an extraordinary story, in which lovely Christmas and dark Halloween are tangled up.

Elf (2003)
          This is a funny story about a good-hearted and lovable elf, who is also quite misguided, and his struggles in New York where he goes to track his father down. It's a great comedy that is perfect to watch by the whole family.

The Polar Express (2004)
          This is a movie that can definitely rise your Christmas spirit. It's a lovely animated film based on a great children's book that tells the story of kids on a train to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus and their great adventures during the trip.

The Santa Claus (1994)
          This is a funny story about a man who has to turn from Scrooge to Santa because he accidentally kills the real Santa.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
          If we talk about Christmas movie classics, this is surely the one to come to our minds first. It's an old film that is considered one of the most inspiring movies of all times and is still loved by both kids and adults. It's definitely on the list of top Christmas movies and it's also a good way to entertain your children and at the same time give them a lesson about family and life.

Miracle on 34th Street
          This movie is a great story about Santa Claus. It welcomes children into the magic world of Christmas, making them think if there really is a Santa Claus. Preferred by many families, this film has influenced a lot on setting the tradition to watch it on Christmas eve. It's a perfect movie to see with your whole family.

A Christmas Carol (2009)
          This movie is based on the classic novel of Charles Dickens about a miser who is taken on a self-redemption trip by a few Christmas ghosts. It's a lovely inspirational story that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.

There are plenty of great films to watch with your whole family at Christmas and get the perfect holiday vibe. Check out this list of must-watch movies and enjoy the Christmas eve on the comfy sofa next to your beloved people.

Author Bio: Paula loves to write about movies and entertainment. She works as a manager of   but her real dream is to be an actress.

Guest Post: Review - Haiku & haibun by Kala Ramesh

Friday, November 15, 2013
Image from

Kala Ramesh’s little book ‘haiku &haibun’ captures the delicate form and essence of the ancient Japanese form of poetry. Having said that, it is also clear that she is no slave to the Japanese rhyme and meter; several renowned haiku poets themselves don’t adhere strictly to the older rules. Thus haiku has evolved into several new formats of itself.

Haiku, as those who know would know, was originally a three- line verse, written in the 5-7-5 syllable structure. However, as it gained international recognition, the syllable structure was modified to accommodate the phonetics of the language it was written in.

Kala Ramesh’s ‘haiku &haibun’ has beautiful haiku, written in the traditional format, as well as the writer’s own breakaway style. She has experimented with single line haiku as well. What is interesting, and truly international, about this book is that it contains Irish translations of the author’s original haiku that is written in English. And this work, though in English, is all about the author’s idyllic childhood in Tamilnadu, an Indian state. 

On a summer holiday, the author, then a young girl, is swinging...and this is what she writes.
the swing : the sky
of a thousand dreams,
pulls me in
And here’s the same haiku in Irish (all translations in this book are by Gabriel Rosenstock)
an luascan : speir
na mbriongloidi gan aireamh
do mo tharrac isteach

Gabriel Rosenstock has also written the foreword in Irish and that suggests to me that this book would be an eye opener to many Irish poets. 

The haiku in the book are interspersed with commentary, this is called haibun. Haibun provides a context against which to interpret the haiku, and this makes them doubly meaningful. Especially in a book such as ‘haiku &haibun’, where the context is a typically Indian childhood of more than four decades ago, the haibun aids the reader’s visualization and imagination. Some of the haibun is in Tamil, the language that the author speaks at home; thus the Tamil haiku enthusiast is embraced.

This suggests a strong sub-text that the essence or beauty of an image or of a thought cannot be subverted by language that is used to express it. Hence, haiku in Japanese, English, Irish and haibun in Tamil – all together in this slim volume make for a compelling reason to read or buy it. I bought it.

Nature is important in the writing of haiku and nature walks are regularly taken to inform, inspire and invoke that lovely literary morsel. In this book, the author goes on a ‘turtle walk’, looking for Olive Ridley turtles and their eggs. Similarly, there is mention of an evening walk in the Bhamburda forest near Pune, and this was the result – 

In English -
on a note
of gathering darkness
the paper moon
and in Irish –
le faobhar na hoiche
an nota sin –
gealach phaipeir
The book also is faithful to the original meaning of haiku – which means playful verse.
my child says
I can spell banana but tell me
when to stop
It brings a smile or a quick laugh. That’s what haiku is supposed to do – a brief word sketch to evoke instant reaction.
I love haiku for its juxtaposition of images and unusual connections. For instance,
running downhill
I fall through
autumn sky

What breathtaking imagery, and what impact. Here, the author has kept the essence of the haiku and done away with the grammar of the syllable count…to best effect.

This slender volume has many more such delicate little images. Read it also for the section ‘Twenty One haiku in English by Kala Ramesh’, selected by Gabriel Rosenstock with Commentary. It is, indeed , a thing of beauty.

Author bio:
I'm Ramya Raju, a freelance writer/web designer from India. I write on varied topics like travel, photography, English Courses, SEO, Web Design, Mobile, Marketing etc., where I like travel blog writing compared to other niche. I have an experience of about 8 years in content writing and have worked for top blogs and websites. I'm generally an extrovert; I like photography, anthropology and traveling to different countries to learn the culture and living of the local inhabitants to do travelogues.
Ramya Raju

About Us