Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Crater's Edge - Michal Gierdroyc

In the second world war, Michal Giedroyc and his families fortunes were to change as the Russians took over their Polish village.  As a wealthy landowner,senator and jud his father was taken away by the Russian Secret Service, and his mother and 10 year old Michal and his sisters were put into a train and sent to Siberia for forced labor and starvation rations.

Eventually they went onto Persia, Beirut and ending up in the UK.  It is hard to imagine 10 year olds surviving such conditions and hardships and being able to start a new life from nothing. 3/5

Monday, January 15, 2018

Music Monday - Fireworks - First Aid Kit

There is something about these girls singing that puts me back to the 70s growing up.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


11.30pm seemed too early to go to bed on a hot night, so last night I put this movie on.  It is the story of Wiener-Dog (or sausage dogs as we usually call them in NZ).  From his birth this story is told in four separate stories with four different lots of owners. 

In the first he is given to a young boy as a present, then after an accident is taken to a vet to be put down where in his second story he is rescued by the vet nurse.  In the third story he is living with a depressed New York screenwriting Professor.  Lastly he ends up with an elderly woman who is being visited by her grand daughter.

I don't know what about this movie slightly annoyed me.  Whether it was the naturalistic style or  trying too hard to be too hipster vibe but somehow the movie seemed quite depressing and sad with no real moments of joy.

  I am glad it was a cheap special rather than having had paid for a cinema seat.  2/5

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Middle Aged Lady Movie Night - Captain Fantastic

This was a little gem of a movie.  It could have gone either way, either it was going to be watchable or it was going to be too over the top weird that it wouldn't work, but I found it kind of sweet.  Viggo Mortensen plays Ben  a father raising his six kids in the forests of North West America.  Killing wild animals for meet, and being educated by his series of anti establishment books he raises the kids to mistrust the majority of capitalist America.  Then they find out that their mother has died and the family must venture out of their forest home to attend her funeral.

I like the way this movie was handled - not trying too hard to be too oddball and zany, I liked that it was a family that seemed to love and understand each other.  The funeral scene at the end may be the oddest that I have seen for some time. 4/5

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Sky Below - Scott Parazynski

This is one of those memoirs that leaves you wondering what you have achieved with your own life as it is a chapter after chapter of personal successes.  Scott Parazynski writes about various times in his life and career with NASA. From  growing up in various hotspots around the world, to being a young doctor spending his weekends climbing rocks and mountains the author seems to excel in most things he attempts.  He  attended a winter Olympics supporting a Philippine sportsman who he had trained with while trying to get his own spot.  It was however his childhood dream to become an Astronaut that he thinks about most, and he was able to achieve this, flying on several space shuttle missions and doing a spacewalk while making a repair to a solar shield.

Returning to earth he then had a personal mission to climb Mount Everest, which  I get is quite the achievement, but couldn't help but think it must have taken a lot of time away from his family.  He doesn't talk a lot about his personal life, except when his first marriage crumbled .  Luckily he was able to meet his second wife and travel in a new role to Antarctica with her. 4/5

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Anatomy of a Calling - Lissa Rankin

This was a bit of a mixed read for me.  Lissa Rankin was an obstetrics doctor who was finding herself at work running from one crisis to another while working, with care of the patient getting left behind in the rush to  put out fires.  Burnt out and over it, Lissa left to search out her own way of practicing healing.

I enjoyed the telling of her story - how it was not only about her needs to be able to work in a safe and supported environment, but to provide a better experience for patients, and to be able to teach other medical professionals about how they can achieve better results for them and their patients using holistic and healing techniques.

There were moments though that the book got a little preachy about telling the reader what they should do and I kept thinking that it verged into a bit too much witchy woo hoo for me. 3/5.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Music Monday - Time Will Tell - Gregory Alan Isakov

I found this sweet song on youtube and I have been listening to it on the way to work in the mornings.  I would like to find some more music to listen to this year as I haven't listened to a lot last year. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

This is Just my Face - Gabourey Sidibe

This girl sure can write.  Gabourey Sidibe is a young actress who with no experience shone in the movie Precious released in 2009 and has graced our screens in various tv shows since such as the Big C and Empire.  In this book she takes us through her tough childhood - growing up with an immigrant taxi driving polygamous father and a mother who made money singing in the subway, to being able to support herself, while still helping out her mother and brother.

I was surprised by this book.  I am a bit skeptical of someone writing their memoir in their 30s but it seems to be the done thing now, and so many celebrities just drop names and write a whole lot of waffle.  Instead Gabourey writes about her own experiences and challenges and still manages to stay honest and funny even when writing about race, dating, sexism and weight issues.  She also talks about poverty, being a celebrity and eating disorders and weight loss far more honestly than other actress/authors.    This is a woman who has heard a lot of comments from others about what she should be, and manages to keep her head up and show people that she can be herself and still be important and special, even when they seek to try to bring her down.

I went into this book knowing nothing about her other than seeing her on screen, and came away with a big dose of admiration and thinking that she sure is awesome. 4/5

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Koh-I-Noor - William Dalrymple - Anita Anand

A fascinating history about one of the worlds most infamous diamonds - the Koh-I-Noor.  Tracing back the authors write about all of its fascinating owners and it is amazing to hear about how it got passed along over the years. 

I didn't realize that it had such a sordid history and was most fascinated with the second part of its book, as the diamond was taken from India and given to Queen Victoria.  It seemed to all happen in an underhand way and the diamond seemed to be tainted with a little bit of a curse.  3/5

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The History of Bees - Maja Lunde

This story tells three slightly connected stories.  One in the 1800s we meet the inventor of modern beehives, desperately trying to keep his son on the straight and narrow.  In modern times another father is trying to keep his beehive business afloat while trying to influence his son into following into his footsteps.  Then we get a glance into a futuristic China - where pollination is done by people in a ruined economy.

I just felt all a bit disconnected from all the characters.  I kept waiting for the twist, that bit of magic that holds a book together, but for me it just seemed to plod on and I have walked away not really understanding what I should have taken away from this novel. 2/5