Sunday, October 15, 2017

I Am, I Am, I Am - Maggie O'Farrell

Fiction author Maggie O'Farrell writes a very different type of memoir.  This one is about her moments over her life, when she has felt the touch of death or violence come close to her.  Illness and incidents as a child, almost drowning as a teenager, to coming into close contact with a killer.  With a few descriptive sentences she is able to capture the essence of being a teenager, the smells and sounds of a group gathered together of a Friday night in a seaside town.

Being an adult she still has some encounters that are scary, her description of a difficult childbirth made me hold my breath as did the final story when she talks about her daughter, fragile and at risk of anaphylaxis to a multitude of allergies.

The book itself did feel a bit disjointed to me, maybe because it was not in chronological order.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Jane Austen Project - Kathleen A. Flynn

Two time travelers, Liam and Rachel are chosen to go back in time to 1815 to meet Jane Austen and secure an unfinished manuscript and letters before her known death in 1816.  How would you integrate yourself in her life in a society full with many social rules and what if every decision you made may have consequences for the future?

A very interesting premise and I loved the idea - who wouldn't feel a bit giddy at the chance to become involved in the world of Jane Austen and meet the author herself?  I did feel that the sense of wonderment was a bit lacking in the story, how even with all the training the main characters underwent how the sights and smells would have been quite astonishing even for us.  How hard it must have been to not talk or act in a modern way.  4/5

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Big Pig, Little Pig - Jacqueline Yallop

Big Pig, Little Pig is the non fiction  story about author Jacqueline Yallop and her husband.  Living in a small rural holding in France, they decide to get two pigs to be raised for meet.  This is the story of their year together,  where they get to know and love the two animals in their care.

I enjoyed reading about the relationship and could see how easy it would be to bond with these intelligent animals.  I would find it hard to think of killing and eating my own animals, and if I think about it too hard, it makes me want to turn vegetarian straight away.  So I understand the author being conflicted about thinking about killing their pigs. 4/5

Sunday, October 08, 2017


After an evening working, a visit to the supermarket it was time for me to collapse on the couch and not move for an hour or so.  Thanks to Apple TV this was the 99c movie of the week, so Passengers it is.  Thanks to dodgy wifi at home though, I only got to watch 20 minutes worth before giving up and going to bed.

Obviously the neighborhood youth do not arise before 10am, so I was able to get up this morning and watch the last of the movie over breakfast.  So Chris Pratt,  is Jim, an engineer who finds himself awaken aboard his spaceship.  The problem is that he is the only one awake, and they are 30 years from earth, and 90 years from their destination.  What to do?

This is one of those movies that felt like a little more style over substance.  While Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are hugely watchable, and the special effects were pretty amazing, I just wasn't touched by the story and wished that somehow the plot was a bit more developed.  3/5

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Cause of Death - Dr Cynric Temple-Camp

An entertaining read about a pathologist working in small town New Zealand.  Palmerston North may not be a hot bed of crime, but Dr Temple-Camp is able to keep us amused describing many of the cases that he has been involved with over the past few decades.

I guess these are his dinner party stories, which he probably couldn't tell over dinner as most would upset sensitive diners.  Me - well I like such tales and so I enjoyed it. 4/5

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Choice - Edith Eger

This is quite the amazing memoir.  Edith was 16 years old when the Nazis sent her and her family to Auschwitz.  There through a remarkable set of challenges her and her sister were able to survive when many others perished.

As an adult she has become a renowned psychologist and in this book she describes how many of the things she learned have been able to help her with her own healing.  Remarkable.  5/5

Monday, October 02, 2017

Victoria & Abdul

Today was a day off work, and after the chores were done it was a quick stroll into town to see Victoria & Abdul.  I had been looking forward to seeing this, and now my local cinema has dropped ticket prices to $10 it fits more into my budget.

I guess you know the story, Dame Judi Dench plays the elderly Queen Victoria who becomes enamoured with a young handsome servant Abdul, who had been sent from India to present a coin to the Queen. 

Depressed and lonely, the friendship develops and he helps to teach her about the Indian culture and language.  Family and staff though are suspicious especially as they spend so much time together.

Wonderful performances, sensational interiors, beautiful costumes and lots of actors of all ages without any botox in view all make it my type of favorite watch.  4.5/5

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Best of Us - Joyce Maynard

Wow, what a memoir.  Joyce Maynard is a fiction author, who bares herself in writing this story about her life.  Primarily is a book about her great love.  How when she was 58, she met the love of her life Jim, and how they both found a great joy in being together and enjoying life.  They enjoyed music, travelling, driving and just spending their time together.    Then a year after getting married, Jim is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The second part of the memoir is pretty daunting, as Joyce and Jim try to decide what treatments to pursue and whose advice they should follow.  They seek out other sufferers and survivors to find out what worked for them and meet people for advice and support, watching most eventually die of this horrid disease.

I could have carried on reading for so much longer, as Joyce opened up on her life, but the story did eventually have to end.  I didn't cry, but just felt in awe of reading this book, which felt like reading one big private love letter. 5/5

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Stars Are Fire - Anita Shreve

The author is a favorite of mine, and I looked forward to reading her new novel.  She has a good skill of being able to draw the reader into the world of late 1940s Maine.  Grace is a young mother of two, and pregnant with another when  huge fires surround their small seaside town.  As her husband has gone to help fight the fires she is left with her best friend  to try and save her young family.

Not the happiest if stories to read, Grace has a fairly tough life where she suffers a lot of sorrow and worries, it does give a snapshot of what life must have been like for a lot of women in that era. 4/5

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finding Gobi - Dion Leonard

This is a story that I had seen on both the news and 60 minutes and also read about on several news sites.  In 2016, while on an endurance race through the Gobi Desert, runner Dion Leonard finds himself joined by a little stray dog that stays by his side through hours of running in the heat, over sand dunes and roads.

When the race ends, Dion realizes that he has a real connection with the wee pup he calls Gobi and sets about to see if he can get her taken back to his home in Scotland.  Things are not quite so simple though, and the story reinforces your faith in most people (of course there are a few crazy and dangerous ones too).

So all in all, a good little man and dog story.  5/5