Sunday, December 19, 2010

Unbearable Lightness - Portia De Rossi

Unbearable Lightness - Portia De Rossi (2010)

I have only just been able to get the channel on my tv that broadcasts the Ellen show, so I have only seen about 8 episodes this year. Recently she interviewed her wife Portia, about the book she wrote, and has been hawking it ever since. I steered clear of any reviews, and reserved it, and only waited a week for it to arrive.

Portia started modeling in Melbourne, at age 12 and since then has constantly worried about her figure, always controlling her food intake and becoming obsessive about it. It all reached a head when she got her part on Ally McBeal and her weight dropped to 85 pounds. Forced to deal with both her anorexia and her sexuality makes it any interesting read. I was pleasantly surprised that it was as open as it was, and that she writes very well.

I timed the read at only about 2 and a half hours to read the book, but came away thinking that she did a good job. She was pretty blunt about her anorexic behaviour, and how close it almost came to destroying her and her career. Worthy of a 4/5.

Eating Pomegranates - Sarah Gabriel

Eating Pomegranates - Sarah Gabriel (2010)

Sarah Gabriel discovers that she carries the BRCA gene, one which increases the chances of ovarian and or breast cancer in female family members. After losing her own mother in her early forties, she first gets her ovaries removed but finds that she has tumours alrady growing in her breasts. As a young mother to two little girls, it is a pretty raw account of her journey, and as a female it is apretty compelling read. Especially when she asks her father for more information about her own mother, who was a mother of five, when she died aged 42.

I think this one is worthy of a 4/5, and although not the cheeriest of books, I did enjoy it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recipe for Life - Nicky Pellegrino

Recipe for Life - Nicky Pellegrino (2010)

You know the scenario, disturbed English girl goes to Italy to see if she has a passion for cooking - many a story done the same way, but this one had a few interesting twists. I like the story from the Italian elderly neighbours perspective, and I liked that it wasn't all eat, pray, lovish and about discovering yourself too much. Maybe it's because we all dream of running away to Italy, I'm going to give it a 3/5.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Return to Cranford - DVD

Return to Cranford - DVD (2009)

Oh my middle aged gosh, this is pure middle class white woman heaven. Just a delight to watch, with the nosy group of friends who gossip about all that happens in Cranford. You just want Judi Dench to be your friend, and to go shoppng for silks and bonnets.

So, back to the packing, I was watching it while bubble wrapping pictures and doing stuff in the living room - honest!!

4/5 - hard to fault, unless you are a fella.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Because of You - Rebekah Gibbs

Because of You - Rebekah Gibbs (2009)

Being a middle aged woman, who has escaped any scary health things (thankfully), I sometimes delve into the world of health story auto biographies. In this one, 35 year old ex-casualty actress Rebekah is 7 months pregnant when she discovers a lump on her breast. It turns out to be a nasty agressive one, so as well as dealing with a new baby, she has to go through surgery and chemo at the same time.

A bit of a quick easy read, I think I managed this one in about 2.5 hours or so, thus earning it a 3/5. It was an interesting patient perspective without turning preachy. You know the books? The ones that say the author changed their diet to only eating carrots and yams and drinking cat urine, and now the cancer is gone forever!! They annoy me - oh yes they do. I guess people have to find their own path when dealing with cancer, but I think you still have to do things that make you happy, when you can while you can, and if it means a bit of cake and a drink of whatever you fancy, then I say go ahead.

Monday, December 06, 2010

All Pets Go To Heaven - Sylvia Browne

All Pets go to Heaven - Sylvia Browne (2009)

I've always thought that when thing are over, I'll be surrounded by all the pets we have ever had. It is funny, if I talk to my dad he doesn't remeber all the cats we have had, when I had thought they were important members of the family. I guess though we had a few birds, and I don't remember their names.

2/5 - I found this one a bit dry and repetative, but it was a quick and easy read.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Under this Unbroken Sky - Shandi Mitchell

Under this Unbroken Sky - Shandi Mitchell (2009)

Brutal is a word to describe this story of a poor immigrant farmer, who is struggling with his family to make a living in the late 1930s in the praries of northern Canada. After getting out of prison, Tredor Mykolayenko returns to his wife and five children and tries to make their lives better. Disputes occur over the ownership of the land, which has been in his sisters name and resentments between Tredor and his brother in-law loom large.

4/5 - it is quality writing and a compelling story, but somehow it made me a bit depressed, with the grim dark farm, I looked forward to steping out into our summer sunshine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sex and the City 2

Sex and the City 2 - DVD (2009)

OMG the horror!! Truly, the most awful movie I have seen in some time, and I even didn't bother finishing it, I was sooo appalled. The horrid tacky clothes that looked like they had shopped in Donatella Versaces house of crap, the over the top holiday destination, that looked like it was filmed in Miami, would have all been fine if it wasn't held together by a boring, dull, tedious and tired script. It wasn't funny, or witty, or even clever, just droll and pathetic.

The first scene was an indication that it was going to be bad, I don't mind the gay wedding - that was the only good bit about it, the horrid cheap and tacking looking set with over the top choir, and minister and the most awful dated dance/song routine - le shudder!

In a time, when everybody is pinching pennies and worried about losing their jobs, this was just done wrong. I don't think that Carrie should be baking cookies, or planting lettuces, but I hate the whole flashy money thing, it is not a world that anyone I know lives in.

So a big 0/5 for this baby - it makes NZ TV look good, and that's saying something.

3,096 Days - Natascha Kampusch

3,096 Days - Natascha Kampusch (2010)
Kidnapped at age 10, on her way to school, Natascha Kampusch was made famous as the girl who was kidnapped and held in a cellar for close to 8 years. Abused physically and sexually, I did not realise that she was also starved and kept underweight while trapped. You have to admire the girl, for putting her own story out there in her words, as so much has been written about her.
The book was small and quick to read, but you get the feeling that there is so much more that is unwritten, but it is truly a miracle that she survived and got away, and from the interviews I have seen, seems smart and capable. I think though, that the pervs that do stuff like this deserve to be strung up in the middle of town. 3/5

Monday, November 22, 2010

Savage Lands - Clare Clark

Savage Lands - Clare Clark (2010)

Early America must have been a desolate and scary place, where life in the colony was hard and full of hardship. In the 1700s, French girls were paid to come over and marry the soldiers and men who were trying to make a living in Louisiana. Elizabeth Savaret arrives and finds herself married to Jean-Claude Babelon, an infrantryman.

Although the book was well written, and the characters were interesting, I found myself somehow a bit disinterested, and a bit tired of it by the end. 2/5

Dewey's Nine Lives - Vicki Myron

Dewey's Nine Lives - Vicki Myron (2010)

I guess after the success of the earlier Dewey book, author Vicki Myron would be encouraged to do another story. This one is about cats who have touched others lives, a bit about the impact of Deweys story and also what has changed in Vickis life.

It was ok, I'll give it a 3/5 but it is pretty light stuff. Any animal lover knows the impact that special pets have on your life, and how your life can be made better by sharing it. It didn't make me teary, and in fact I would have loved more stories, as some seemed somewhat drawn out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nowhere Boy

Nowhere Boy - DVD (2009)

I guess if you are of a certain age, you know the story of John Lennons childhood, and how the Beatles got together. I guess I had read about it in a few biographies and magazines from way back, so I found the beginning of the movie a bit slow. However the performances were great, in the end I thought it sweet and sad at the same time. It tells how his background damaged him, and the thought of him ringing his aunty every week, made me feel that the naughty rockstar boy really cared about her, and all she did for him.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mad Men 3

Mad Men 3 - DVD (2009)

Le sigh, I have all caught up on the mad men DVD series. Secretly I love the stylish decors and fashions, and of course we all love the Don. Don celebrates a manliness that is appealing in a Hollywood that seems to full of manboys, you know the male actors who are 40ish and act 20, and also have the flabbiness of your brothers unemployed friend.

There is also a part of me that hates the sexist attitudes, the racism and the snobbishness that seem to be prelevant in the portrayed era. Still it does a great job of showing the secrets stewing underneath the picture perfect surface.

So I have to give in now, and stop with the DVD series, they sure are a big time suck. Time to knuckle down to packing, and start some new series in 2011.

4/5 - and I can't wait for a new series. If only for the motor mower episode - classic.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One Day - David Nicholls

One Day - David Nicholls (2009)

Another book being turned into a movie. I had read good things in blogland about this one, but it was a bit so so for me. It felt like a story I had already read, and seemed a rehash of sentimental rom com movies. You know the premise, young in their 20s guy and girl meet, and keep in touch, secretly wish for each other, wait til they are middle aged and hook up again.

I feel like I am slowly chugging my way through a few books slowly, as I am attempting to try to pack my stuff up, so that I can move next month. So the books need to hold my interest, otherwise I am returning them to the library quick smart.

3/5 for this one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In Love

I'm in love with this poster - it just makes me smile, and I saw it on a blog on Saturday night I couldn't help laughing. I managed to track it down to, and its 30 Pounds + postage.

Maybe, as a christmas present to myself.

Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen (2006)

This was one of those books that I have been meaning to read, but somehow not got around to. I think I had even borrowed it from the library a couple of times, but time restraints had made me return it, and even this time I kept picking it up and putting it back.

I am so glad I finally started, because from the first page to the last it had me captivated. I enjoyed every page, and was sad that it was ending. I was even sadder when today, as I googled the book cover, I found out that Rob Pattinson and Reece Wettherspoon are making the movie of the story as we speak. Now they are just fine actors on their own, I just don't seem them in these roles, not at all.

The story, well the story is of a veterinary student Jacob, who after dropping out of his studies, finds himself joining an American travelling circus and finds himself in charge of the animal care. He also gets to meet the personalities that live the circus life.

If you haven't read this one yet, I think it should be added to your must be read in 2011 pile. 5/5 - as it is hard to fault.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen - Syrie James

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen - Syrie James (2007)

The last book I read in Jane Austens style, trying to recreate her special style bombed for me, which was a pain, as I waited weeks for the library reserve to come through. This one though, well I enjoyed it. For me I loved hearing about how Janes own life influenced so many of her characters.

Really you do wonder, how a poorish spinster who lives with her mother and sister manages to create a world of characters, who are still funny and smart today, two hundred years later.

One of the few books that I have read recently, that I might have wished was longer!! 4/5

Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat - DVD (2009)

The scenery was nice - 1/5

Friday, November 05, 2010

Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen - DVD (2009)

Hello Mr Butler with your shirt off, often you are better when you are not saying anything, coz when you try and hide your Scottish accent, your mouth does funny things, like you are sucking on plums.

I do feel sorry for you, what happened to your character was rough, and you did deserve to go after the bad guys, but about 3/4 of the way through it just turned silly and unbelievable, and you didn't take any more of your clothes off, so I sort of read my book.

Oh and Jamie Foxx, I like you playing smart not smarmy or sleazy. Mr producer/directors, for lots of ladies I think you might of realised that for a lot of ladies being a loving husband and father is sexy. It is the manboys who think all ladies want a player. Just saying.

3/5 - just because it was kind of slick and a bit thought provoking about the justice system.

My Life in Ruins

My Life in Ruins - DVD (2009)

Ohh tv - you truly do almost suck at the moment. If it weren't for some of the reality tv, I would have sold you to poor students. I must admit to declaring my love for Project Runway, The Block and anything with cooking in it. Beyond that, there is not much to take my fancy, so it has been DVD city here. I am also trying to avoid movie going, which hurts me to say, but the cost had got quite steep and for the same price you can get 5+ DVDs.

So My Life in Ruins, all I could think about was how great Nia looks for 48, how much her collarbones stood out, how she looked like she hadn't had any cabs in a year, how great her hair was, how blue the sky looked, how there didn't seem to be many Greek people in a movie set in Greece, how the tourists were cliches which they all often are, and how I never want to go on a bus tour.

Still it was a bit of a silly fluff movie - 3/5.

Fat Chance, Melanie Tait

Fat Chance - Melanie Tait (2010)

I like sometimes, a bit of reality reading, a good biography or taste of life. This one is the story of Melanie, who decides at 106kg that enough it enough of dieting, and to have a gastric band inserted. Like any surgical intervention, this isn't a miracle cure but a tool to help in weight loss.

Melanie is an amusing author and I like her honesty in this story, the battle with running, ice cream and chocolate. I work at the hospital though, and we seem to see an awful lot of people with gastric bands with ongoing problems. I also think that it is a relatively new procedure, and that we don't know how it will affect people 30 years after having it. Still it seems a good choice for some people and helps many out of the fat battle.


Ice Cold - Tess Gerritsen

Ice Cold - Tess Gerritsen (2010)

The phrase that kept popping through my head as I was thinking about this post was Thriller Light. You know, ones you don't need to really think about, and not going to scare you before bed.

Dr meets old college friend at conference, goes on a road trip, lots of snow, guns, chasing and bodies. That's all I'm going to say.

Not my favorite Tess Gerritsen book, but reasonably solid story and at least is was short and not dragged out. 3/5

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love (2010)

I went into this one with mixed reservations and low expectations, as I had heard many variations of the reviews. I knew it was long, knew it was all about the Julia, and knew it was an annoying patronising story. Coz, really girlfriend if you are really in a bad marriage and totally unhappy, then leave, but you don't have to go to an ashram to find yourself.

I've got the book, but never read it - only because I had seen the author on Oprah and was so annoyed by her, and her pompous I have found the secret to finding yourself attitude. Most of my friends were the same. Maybe us Kiwi women have travelled and had adventures, with most of my besties all living overseas for a couple of years and travelling through Europe, Africa and Asia.

Anyhoo, because I didn't expect much I didn't find it too bad, I enjoyed the scenery, the men were kind of cute and Julia Roberts, well she seemed a bit uptight but I like her, she seems pretty grounded.

I can only give it a 2/5 though, as I wouldn't rush to recommend it, or buy the DVD.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Mad Men 2

Mad Men Season 2 - DVD

The theme tune is rolling around in my head as I write this, and I am thinking that there is not much not to love about this series. The spot on decor, to which I am always admiring their lamps, and gorgeous costumes and the intelligent writing. Even more so, I admire a story line where the men seem to be manly, even if they are sexist and bigots, they are not the manboys that prevail in modern movies and series. You know the ones, Grown ups in their 30's and 40's that still love their skateboards and video games.

So rather than watching cruddy repeats, I spent a week watching this second series and am am enjoying this one, as I had not seen many of these when they originally played. I am also enjoying that Peggy has a bigger role to play and that we are learning about Dons past and some of his secrets.

4/5 - almost perfect!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet - DVD (2010)

Harmless girly fun, that will have the boys snoring and rolling their eyes. Still a little Italian scenery and a sweet love story made this a fun nights watching. It's not rocket science, and the English love interest is pompous and just plain annoying, but there is almost nothing on tv, and this one made me wish for summer.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham - (2010)

Yippee for a smart and funny film that tackles some real issues. Sassy girls work at the Ford Factory in the UK, and start industrial action when they demand equal pay, in a time when women workers are often paid half the money of men with similar skill levels. You can't help but like the group and want them to do well. Especially when the big guns are sent over from the States.

4/5 for this feel good girly fest.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Every Last One - Anna Quindlen

Every Last One - Anna Quindlen (2010)

Annas writing drew me into this book, and I read it fast, lulled by her gentle pace and vivid descriptions of home life,and the inside turmoil of being a mother to teenage children. Without giving too much away, I enjoyed both halves of the story, and felt she did a good job of describing grief and guilt and communication, and how difficult it can be trying to be strong for each other.


Talking to Girls About Duran Duran - Rob Sheffield

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran - Rob Sheffield (2010)

The title grabbed me with this book when I saw it in the library, I used to be a big fan, and still like to pump out some of their tunes on my ipod. I was also charmed by Rob Sheffields earlier book Love is a Mixed Tape. I picked that one up in the library on a wet afternoon, and was drawn into his world, in which he told his life, his wife who dies suddenly at age 31 and the music they shared.

In his new book, Rob tells us a bit about what is happening now, and more importantly what went on the in the 1980s, in his teenage years. Being the same age, I could relate to most of the stories and the songs, and many a chapter made me smile, especially because I had the biggest of the big hair!!


Hotel Meina

Hotel Meina (2007)

I felt bad, cause I didn't read any reviews of this movie, and suggested it to friends on Saturday night. It was part of the Italian film festival, and it looked better than the repeat rubbish that NZ tv plays.

It wasn't much better, in fact when it started it had the look of a cheap movie made in 1970, by fifth formers. The story was interesting, how a group of Jewish Italians end up being imprisoned by Germans in the war, and the rest of the tourists are told to continue having their holiday. The Turkish/Jewish owners try to help the prisoners, but little can be done to help them.

It was a pity the production side of the movie and the writing let the story down, and truthfully I can only give it a 1/5.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wondrous Oblivion

Wondrous Oblivion - DVD (2003)
So David Wiseman is a young Jewish boy, growing up in post war London, who loves Cricket, but has no skills. Then new neighbours move in, a Jamacian family who set up cricket nets and new friendships form.
This new wave of immigrants however are not welcomed by all the neighbours and this becomes a sweet story about friends, family and prejudice. Worth a watch, and a good family movie, of the sort that used to be played at the weekend before the manboys took over the tv.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Juliet - Anne Fortier

Juliet - Anne Fortier (2010)

Interweaving a modern story of orphaned twins, who bought up by their aunty, find at her death that not all is as it seems and both girls end up travelling to Italy, to Siena to discover the history of their family and the curse that has followed them.

Meanwhile we are told about the story of two families feuding in 1340, and how the real story of Romeo and Juliet unfolds.

I enjoyed this read, and loved the historical story more than the modern one, which seemed a bit forced. An interesting story of how the Shakespear tale is actually formed by earlier stories of two real young lovers. 3/5


Brothers - DVD (2009)
This one was pretty bleak to watch, it's no cheery cheesy flick but I had seen the ads and knew what I was in for. Older brother Sam is a marine, who is reported dead while on duty in Afghanistan. His younger brother Tommy, who is normally a screw up and just out of prison, steps up to help out the young wife and mother left behind.
I thought it was well played and thoughtfully done, Natalie Portman is beautiful but still only looks like she is 18, Tobey Maguire looked like he was dressing up and playing soldier and Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job of playing hurt.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mad Men

Mad Men - Season 1, DVD (2007)
This is one of those series that I have caught bits and pieces of, and is much better watched as a whole, where you can follow the flow of the story. The affairs, the outfits and the smoking - oh my goodness, it must suck to be the crew on this shoot.
Anyways you all know the gist of this one, 60s ad execs lounge around the office, smoking, drinking and putting down the women, while the girls try and keep a smile on their faces. Don Draper is the epitome of suave, but you know he has some deep dark secrets going on inside.
4/5 - I keep thinking I couldn't help but feel sad after watching this series.

The Snowman - Jo Nesbo

The Snowman - Jo Nesbo (2010)

This was for me one of those thrillers that started out promising, but seemed to lose it in the middle, waffle on a bit and then regroup for the end, the bit when you find out who did the business. I, of course had guessed much earlier on, and in the end was just waiting for the book to end.

A Norwegian tale, the bleak winter type scenery had scary visuals in my head and the attacks on women were almost enough to make me stop reading, but I did continue on til the very end. 3/5

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dear John

Dear John - DVD (2009)

I didn't have hight hopes for this one, the combination of Nicholas Sparks and the movie trailer indicated that it would be a Sunday night slow viewer. But it was ok, the two main characters seemed to actually have some chemistry and although the plot was as predictable as an episode of 2&0.5 Men (I hate that show), I did enjoy this quiet little movie. I'll give it a 3/5.

As television in New Zealand truly does suck at the moment, I am watching more and more dvds, and have got a good pile of books to read, so I am not missing it. The weather has been a bit unspring like, so that has meant more evenings stuck inside the house, but I am never at a loss for things to do. Never time to be bored around here.

I haven't been to the movies in a while either, there seems little that actually appeals to me, and the prices put me off. I will probably so see Eat, Pray, Love as my friends want to go, but have heard mixed things about it, and I have never really understood the hype around it all.

So I'm off to do the dishes and a few chores, put the electric blanket on the bed and read my book for an hour or so before sleep.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - DVD (1991)

1991 this one came out and I think I remember going to the movies to see it, but it was a loooong time ago now. Anyhoo I popped this dvd into the player on Friday night, to avoid the horrendous X factor show and local rubbish that dominate Friday night viewing - did I tell you that New Zealand TV sucks? Case in point - Adam Sandler is doing his monthly show of the Waterboy again tonight. Please stop the manboys deciding what to show - pllllllllllleeeaaaaase!!!

Anyway this chickie flick is the story of the friendship of a forty something woman who befriends an elderly lady at the rest home, and she begins to tell the story of two friends during the thirties. Without giving it away it is a great tale and even though it is 20 years ago, and looks a little dated the story is still strong, and I enjoyed this repeat viewing.


The Blind Side - DVD

The Blind Side - DVD (2009)

Hmmm I pondered writing about this one for a while. It's an ok movie, but I wouldn't describe it as a favorite or being memorable. It is however heart warming, and the stuff that Sunday movies used to be made of years ago.

Wealthy family help out a young homeless man, changing all of their lives. The story itself is nicely done and although I like the job that Sandra Bullock did, I'm not sure it is worthy of the little gold statue. I mean it might be a bit of a push getting her to play her own age, instead of the usual ditzy chicks she is cast as. And I am sure the blond hairpiece did look tight and uncomfortable.

3/5 rainy day viewing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Search - Nora Roberts

The Search - Nora Roberts (2010)
I must admit to have only read only one Nora Roberts book previously, but this one appealed to me in the bookstore, so I was willing to give it a try. Young lonely woman, with a traumatic past goes to live on quiet island, where she trains rescue dogs, meets a hunky carpenter, trains his dog, crazy men still stalking women and girl and hunk rescue together.
Did I say it all in one sentance, without giving it all away? Anyways it was nice easy reading, although I seemed a bit distracted by the so so average story which seemed to have some raunchy stuff and swearwords thrown in, to try and make it more hip and young. I don't know, the mixture felt a bit forced for my liking.
Still it was an ok read, when I needed a bit of quiet distracting from the day to day stuff. 3/5

Friday, October 15, 2010


Creation - DVD (2009)
I like me a bit of Paul Bettany, even with a receeding hairline and odd Victorian muttonchop sidies, there is something about him thats appealing. Even with his lovely wife Jennifer Connelly who always looks in dire need of a sandwich, they make a believable Mr and Mrs Darwin.
Especially after you google about them and find out they they were first cousins who married and lost several of their children at a young age, and including their favorite daughter Annie. And that the story that this movie is based on, was written by Mr Origin of the Species great great grandsons.
So, I enjoyed it in a Sunday Masterpiece theatre way, as I like a bit of corset drama - beats Adam Sandler and the manboys hands down. 4/5

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Secret in Their Eyes

The Secret in Their Eyes - DVD (2009)

I have been busy reading and doing lots of stuff, so somehow their has been less time for movies and tv. In fact due to the wind blowing the rest of the aerial out of alignment, I am left with only one channel and am stuck watching Prime TV. I must admit to enjoying Ladettes to Ladies, it does make me giggle and cringe at the same time.

I had heard a couple of recommendations for this movie, but like a lot of captioned movies, I find them hard to watch on tv at home, as I am easily distracted. The story of a lawyer and his search for the murder of a young woman 25 years ago, is still compelling to watch. I did find it long and am sure I lost the point half way through. 2/5

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Valentines Day

Valentines Day - DVD (2010)

You suck ,you big puff ball full of pretend Valentines day love, where all the relationships seem plastic and dried out bits of emotion. Lots of cameos of famous faces, all of whom prance around looking in need of a sandwich, and a lesson in love.

Give me Bright Star any day, over this Hollywood vanity piece. 1/5

A Song for Jenny - Julie Nicholson

A Song for Jenny - Julie Nicholson (2010)
A song for Jenny is a personal story written by her mother, starting on the day of the London bombings, when Julie realises she can't get a hold of her daughter. As the day progresses, more members of her family become concerned, before they all realise that she is missing presumed dead.
We follow along as Jennys death is confirmed, and finally her remains are returned to the family in preparation for her funeral. Ultimately though, this is Julies story, and much of it is very touching, as she searches to find out where her daughter was in the days she was in the bombed out remains of the tube train, even going so far as to view the police pictures. She also views her daughters body, in order to anoint it before her funeral.
I know with my mothers death that the days waiting for the funeral are stretched out and go so slow, yet the time just seems to slip away, but after a few years the dying part and the grieving pains lessen, and I can now just remember mostly all the good parts, forgetting about the pain and stress. In this book I can still feel the pain and loss that Jenny feels from losing her daughter, but somehow I think her pain clouded her sense of loss that others in her family and group of friends had.
Still - I can see that this book can help others who suffer the loss of a family member in tragic circumstances, how they will be able to see how some one makes it through the tough times, and goes on . 3/5

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Alcestis - Katharine Beutner

Alcestis - Katharine Beutner (2010)

This was one of those books that dragged me to bed early on windy and cool spring nights, and I enjoyed reading during a rushed lunch break, every minute snatched reading was good. Alcestis is the son of a local king who has lots of suitors. The king thus raises a challenge, and offers her in marriage to the victor.

So married at 15, she finds herself with a husband who owes to the gods. So they come after him, offering him death, and she chooses to go in his place. Without giving away the wholes story I enjoyed the melding of historical and mythical fiction, and thought this book did both parts of the story well, and made me interested in Greek mythology again.

A solid 4/5.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jane Austen Fight Club

Classic - Jane Austen Fight Club - Bring it On!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Glass Room - Simon Mawer

The Glass Room - Simon Mawer (2009)

Mainly set in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, this story starts with Liesel and Viktor, a wealthy newly married couple meeting an architect on holiday in Venice. He plans for them the most modern of houses, a flat boxed one with a spectacular glass living room. It becomes a showcase and topic of conversation for many in the area, and when war intervenes the young couple now find that they must leave in order to avoid the advancing Germans.

Leaving with their friends, they find themselves first in Switzerland, and then they try to reach the US. Meanwhile the house is looked after by staff and is then taken over by first the Germans as a lab, the Russian and then the Czechs as a Gymnasium.

A clever mix of a war story that is not really about the war, but a story about the house and how it affects all those who live in it and how that connects all their lives. 3/5

No Place Like Home - Pen Farthing

No Place Like Home - Pen Farthing (2010)
Pen Farthing is a UK marine, who when posted in Afghanistan forms a bond with a couple of stray dogs there. Determined to get them back to the UK, he ends up forming a charity to help other soldiers and dogs in similar situations. This book is about what happens upon his return, how the dogs settle in and the amount of time they and the charity chew up.
I think I have just about overdone it on the animal/owner stories this year, I'm feeling a bit jaded with all the bonding tales. 3/5

The Green Zone

The Green Zone - DVD (2010)
Being a middle aged woman, I can profess to being not the target audience for this Iraq based drama. Matt Damon plays a serious soldier who begins to question why the US is in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction, and yet are not finding any proof of their excistance.
I can also admit to skipping through the last 20 minutes and not paying much attention to the last half of the movie. I know it had an important story to tell, but I just didn't really care in the end. 2/5

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Iron Jawed Angels

Iron Jawed Angels - DVD (2004)

Iron Jawed Angels is a DVD that I heard about on blogland somewhere. It is the story of the suffragettes in the US, who fought for many years to give women the vote. Eventually after imprisonments, hunger strikes and force feeding giving bad press, the government relented.

I enjoyed the movie, finding out about the characters involved, although I am sure it was much less glamorous than appeared on the screen. I was a bit distracted by the music though, which seldom happens. However it was a movie set in the 1910 period and yet the movie was full of modern music that somehow seemed a little bit out of place. Like someone said "how do we make this movie appeal to teenagers and sell a soundtrack". For me it kind of ruined the ambience, and made it seem a little less real.

Anyways it was worth a 3/5, for it is an important story to tell that mamy women could do with seeing.

Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok

Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok (2010)
Kimberly Chang and her mother immigrate from Hong Kong to New York, finding themselves forced to work in an aunties factory to pay back debts and pay the rent. Kimberly also has to find time to go to school, but helps work with her mother in a Chinatown sweatshop at night for pennies.
I felt moved by a few things in this novel, the teacher expecting the kids to come to school and discuss current events, when Kimberly didn't have a television and could not afford newspapers. My own upbringing was easy in comparison, but my parents ran a 6 day a week business, and as at high school I worked each day before and after school, Friday nights and Saturdays and still had to get my work done.
So I think this one deserves a 4/5.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker - DVD (2008)

Hmmm, I am on the fence about this one. I am sure it moved a lot of people and possibly it's impact was lost on me on the small screen, this may have been one best viewed at the cinema. To tell the truth, I am a bit over sitting with talkative annoying 19 year olds who text and call on their cells during the show, so I avoid the mainstream movies, and also the DVDs are a bit cheaper.

I get that for some, being in combat is about family, about being valued, doing their duty and living on adrenaline. I just want to know - where are the movie makers thinking about what would happen if some others got on planes and landed in the US, wouldn't the Americans be defending their turf, killing the invaders? I don't mean to get all political and stuff, but the whole situation seems crazy to me.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Virgin Widow - Anne O'Brien

Virgin Widow - Anne O'Brien (2010)

Anne Neville was only fourteen when she was married to a prince she grew to hate, all the while thinking of her first love, Richard. I enjoyed this story of a girl who grows up to be queen, a character I knew nothing about, and thought about how much has changed, when there was a time when womens lives were controlled by fathers, brothers, sons and kings.