Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Thirty Days - Mark Raphael Baker

This is a pretty raw memoir from Mark Raphael Baker, which he writes about his family and his beloved wife of 33 years Kerryn. He gives a picture of their family life , how they met, how their parents relationships affected their experiences, how they fell in love and their plans for the future.  When Kerryn is diagnosed with stomach cancer he helps her to navigate the ten months until her death.  It is a book about not only grieving, but about living your life to the end, about still making plans and helping your family to be able to continue on without you on.  He talks about dying, death and how all of our lives change in ebbs and flows over our lives, but primarily this is a book about love and family. 4/5

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Last Tudor - Philippa Gregory

I haven't read any Philippa Gregory novels for some time, but liked the premise of this story.  It tells about the end of the Tudors with Lady Jane Grey, who was  manipulated by her family and in laws to become Queen for 9 days before being beheaded as a traitor at only 16 years old.

We also get to meet her younger sisters Katherine and Mary, who are at the mercy of their cousin Queen Elizabeth the First and must follow her instructions or risk being branded traitors like their sister.

For me this felt like an original story about three sisters where there is little written about them, and I enjoyed the novel, easily getting lost in the Tudor times and thinking about how heavy and awkward those big dresses must have been to wear. 4/5

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Middle Aged Munster Night In - Four Weddings and a Funeral

Well it was a stay at home Saturday here, which was quite pleasant.  Chores were done and comfy pants worn .  I saw Four Weddings and a Funeral was on.  Can you believe it came out 24 years ago?

At the time it came out I lived in London and I remember going to see it at a cinema in Wimbledon which had 1/2 smoking and non smoking seats.  So you coughed all the way through and came out stinking.

At our work Christmas party that year one of the young girls turned up wearing a knock off of the Versace safety pin dress that Luz Hurley wore to the premiere.   The boys at work talked about it for months after.

Oh and I had a boyfriend who was an extra in the final church scene.  It was so long ago I can't remember what he looked like - haha.

So everytime I watch the movie it makes me smile and remember my years living in London.  I love it's easy English charm and funny characters, and have a soft spot for a young Hugh Grant.  So a highlight if the holiday season as all the old movies are rolled out again.  A refreshing change from car chases, computer generated special effects and super heroes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to be Champion - Sarah Millican

Sarah Millican is an English comedian who makes me smile everytime I see her on a show.  I have only seen comedy specials and the her participation on the many variety/game shows that seem to fill the tele late hours.  She is down to earth and funny, and reading her book felt very much like she was sitting next to me telling me her stories. 

Her book is part autobiography and part self help in how to get on with your life, to ignore the bullies, how she was able to move on after her divorce, why she doesn't want children, how after a variety of mundane jobs she decided to try being a comedian.  All of it was interesting and entertaining, and I felt at the end of the book I liked her even more. 4/5

Monday, November 27, 2017

Before I Go To Sleep

Ironically I did nod off watching this one on the couch.  At 99c on special at iTunes it wasn't a great loss to miss some of the middle of the story.  So Nicole Kidmans character who  has amnesia, wakes up each morning beside her husband Ben with no memory of the night before.  With help from her doctor she tries to figure out how she can be reminded about what has happened earlier to her.  Not is all as it seems of course, and she tries to figure out how she lost her memory and the suspicions she has about her husband.

I thought I would love it - Colin Firth, Mark Strong are all good actors - Nicole Kidman is a bit meh for me but she can still carry a film.  I couldn't help but feel that if I were waking up next to Colin Firth each morning, I would be happy.  Not having to go to work and swanning round in the big house would be cool too.  Colour me jealous, but I would have made the most of it, rather than being all morose and moody.

So it is a sad 2/5 from me.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Founder

Finally the wifi at home is working better, so I can catch up on a few shows and watch more movies while at home.  There is not much to watch on free television, so it is a treat to be able to stream a few things here and there.   The Founder was a 99c special on apple iTunes a couple of weeks ago, so it was time to watch it before it expired.

It is the story of Ray Kroc one of the founders of the McDonalds chain of  fast food restaurants.  Its an interesting story, but I can't really say I enjoyed it.  Ray seemed to have spent his time ripping off the original McDonalds founders brothers Maurice and Richard.  He seemed to undermine them at every turn, and ended up mega rich, while the brothers were forced to close and were not legally entitled to the money that had been promised to them.  His sneaky business tactics did not make me like him, and in the end I became a bit bored with this movie.  2/5

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Survivor Cafe - Elizabeth Rosner

This book is primarily a memoir - it tells the story about Elizabeth Rosner, whose Jewish parents met after the war, a father who was taken to Buchenwald and mother who escaped the Ghetto to hide in the forest for two years, married and immigrated to America.

 Living with the stories of their wartime experiences, the author considers what happens as they grow older and when they die - who will tell these stories? How the children and families of survivors also suffer from the pain that parents still feel and carry.   She also talks about many other major traumas in recent history and the effect on survivors and their families - how they move forward yet still honor their loved ones.  4/5

Friday, November 24, 2017

Grief Works - Julie Samuel

Julia Samuel is a counsellor who writes about some of the types of clients she has dealt with who come to see her about the death of a loved one.  She tells us there stories, and some of the things that they did to deal with the death of a partner/parent/child.  Interesting too were those people who seeked out her services as they were preparing for their own death.

It can be tricky for a lot of people to deal with as each death affects us differently, and everybody has their own way of processing that pain, and you can see that her job is to help guide people into moving on with their lives while acknowledging the loss.

While interesting - I felt a bit detached from this book. 3/5

Thursday, November 23, 2017

How Hard Can It Be - Allison Pearson

I do barely remember reading the original Kate Reddy novel by this author, many moons ago.  Now Kate Reddy is back.  Her kids are teenagers, her husband it busy riding his bike and ignoring her and the elderly parents are causing problems of their own.  Her 50th birthday is fast approaching and so Kate finds herself shuffling all of her family round, as she has to head back into the workplace which is full of colleagues who are half her age.

Being the same age myself, I could understand her position, but I found it all terribly predictable and a bit smug and self important.  I felt that if I knew Kate, I wouldn't like her much and felt like I had to trawl through this brick of a book. 2/5

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lost For Words - Stephanie Butland

I feel sad - a book about books and bookstores should be the type of book I really get into but something just didn't sing to me, and I had to give up after 50 pages. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Relaxing

I always find it relaxing to settle down and read. I usually read before bed for an hour or so, and after work if I have time, and snatch minutes here and there before work or on days off.  A good book may manage to be read in a day or two, but more often than not it is 3 or 4 days at the moment.  I am having a bit of a crisis though, as I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read, and so many good ones.  So as the night air is chilly on this spring evening, I will get the dishes finished and head to bed early and try to almost finish the novel I am reading.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jane & Me - Caroline Knight

Caroline Jane Knight is the 5th great niece of the writer Jane Austen.  She grew up at Chawton House - the home of the Knight family, where Jane Austens brother Edward Knight inherited.  Caroline, and her brother are the last of the family to live at the house, and in this book she writes about the rich history of the Knight and Austen family.

This however is the story mainly about Caroline and her life, and somehow I think I was expecting to find some Jane Austen secrets in the book.  A found manuscript, a hidden locket or bonnets found in the attic - alas it was not to be,and I came away none the wiser about the author.  I did however get an understanding of how tough it must have been two hundred years ago, when women's lives were at the mercy of the menfolk of the family.  How they relied on the their fathers and brothers to look after them, and there must have been limited security, as the women would often be made homeless when husbands and fathers died.

With a great increase in the interest in Jane Austen in the past few decades, Caroline Knight to her credit has been telling her story at events, and updated the family history  of Chawton House, which was last written about 100 years ago by her great grandfather.  She has also established a foundation to assist with literacy using her famous great aunts name.  3/5

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Don't Let Go - Harlan Coben

I like Harlan Cobens novels - he has the ability to keep his stories even paced and filled with a good mixture of tension and amusement.  In this stand alone novel, Detective Nap has returned to his home town to investigate a couple of crimes that raise questions about what happened in his life 15 years ago.

The story had quite a few twists and turns, you can never be quite sure how it will go, and I liked that but somehow I didn't quite believe it and for me it felt a bit forced.  Maybe because there are so many thriller books/movies/shows around that I have become a bit jaded, and  it has become a bit more  difficult to find a story that feels original.  It is a genre of books that I don't read as much of anymore.  Maybe its not him - its me! 2/5

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Blue Planet 2

Oh Blue Planet 2 - you blew my mind tonight.  With your beautiful soothing blue oceans and graceful  critters gliding around.  I never knew there was a fish who could use a tool to open clams - mind blown.  Fish that can track birds, and leap up and catch them - boom - mind blown again.  Beautiful scenes off the New Zealand coast of dolphins and whales gathering together and appearing to communicate and play together - boom, boom,boom.

David Attenborough is a treasure too - the real voice of the series and he makes even the most harrowing scenes palatable.  I'm the girl who wasn't allowed to watch Lassie as a child, as it upset me too  much, and so I find scenes where animals are starving or hunting others a bit hard to watch.  So I hope it is playing for you soon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tulip Fever

I remember getting the original novel that this movie is based on years ago, and not being able to finish it although at the time it was hugely popular.  A bestie invited me to see the movie today, and I had seen the shorts and was looking forward to it.

Visually the set and costumes brought you straight into the period - the costume and set designers had done their jobs superbly.  Everything looked straight out of the amazing paintings that litter the walls of all the great art museums.  The story itself was good, but there just seemed to be something lacking in this movie, I think the chemistry was lacking between the main characters, they all seemed a bit wooden in their roles.  Although we were given a few sex scenes, they seemed to lack any passion and it is often the quieter moments when a look or a glance or a touch is more real and full of emotion, and there were little to none of these given to the audience.

I wanted the movie to flow too, and yet it felt a little disjointed and slow, trudging through the scenes.  What could have been a great movie, was just ok.  3/5

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Hunger - Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay has written a book about what it is to live in her body.  Her body that suffered a rape when she was just a child, and now as an adult - a large female adult she is brutally honest about how it is to carry her body around.   How her family and friends as well as strangers talk to her about her weight, how they look at her and act around her. 

I think all of us females have issues - we all see our faults, we worry about how we look and we spend out life comparing ourselves to others, and most of us feel that we are not good enough.  How are lives would be better if we were taller, thinner, had bigger breasts, bigger butts, longer hair, better skin, nicer teeth, more muscles etc, etc...  Imagine if we could all be happy and even proud of these beautiful bodies that carry us round, that carry us through our lives. 

This book was a great read, I devoured it in a couple of nights, and now will seek out her other works. 5/5

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Let Me Go

We went and saw this one on a Saturday afternoon, and for me it was a bit of a fail after being on call overnight, I may have nodded off several times missing major dramatic parts of the movie - although my friend also had a secret little snore too.  I do recall reading the book that it is based off some time ago.  Helga is in her sixties and travels back to Vienna to see her elderly mother, who  she hasn't seen in some time.  Her young grand daughter travels with her to have her own experience in the city. 

Instead of being a loving reunion it is terribly confronting as the elderly Traudi is proud of her past - of  assisting in Auschwitz in torturing and killing women and children, and deserting her own child to serve the Reich.  She does not understand why her daughter doesn't love her. 

More a Sunday evening drama than a Saturday afternoon entertainment.  3/5

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Last Hours - Minette Walters

I felt like this was a book of two halves.  The first one is about how the Black Death comes to a small manor and how the quick thinking of the lady of the house saves the local families from becoming infected.  This I liked, although I felt like I wanted more boils and suffering, and I guess you can understand in a time before tv/radio/news/internet how did small villages/towns/cities understand what was happening to them?  The second part of the novel for me seemed a bit messy and was just leading into the next book.  There does have to be a next novel, as the spoilt daughter needs to be taught a lesson that you sense is coming.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

There Are No Goodbyes - Elizabeth Robinson

Elizabeth Robinson is a counselor and coach who has the ability to see into the spiritual realm and uses this in her work to help clients to understand their illness and problems and help them to heal.  As well as talking about people she has worked with and counselled, she tells us about her life, how when she was younger she was emotionally sensitive - picking up on things, and seeing things that others different. 

An interesting and intriguing read about her spiritual journey and understanding.  I felt lighter after reading this book. 4/5

Thursday, October 26, 2017

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive - Tom Malmquist

This is a novel that reads like a memoir.  Toms life changes as his pregnant partner is taken to the hospital severely ill with what is first diagnosed with the flu.  As her condition deteriorates Tom is forced into a new world of Intensive Care and having to make decisions on behalf of his girlfriend.

The first half of the novel was incredibly tense and fast paced, and I felt myself drawn to the story, but I got a little lost in the middle section.  While I sympathized with the situation Tom was in, I found him a bit grating, and felt he was quite annoying.  3/5

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

When the English Fall - David Williams

Jacob and his family are Amish, and living on on their farm preparing for the winter ahead.  Their young daughter has been having visions and can see that things are about to change.  Soon planes fall from the skies, and there are rumors that in the outside world things are beginning to fail, with cars, engines, money machines and anything mechanical not working.

Things begin to impact on the family, as people realize that the Amish community has food stored and  pressure mounts on Jacob and his family to relinquish some of their supplies.

It made me feel a bit tense at the beginning of the novel, and maybe I expected it to head in a different direction than it did.  4/5

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell

Sadly, I seemed to only end up being annoyed at this novel.  I kept waiting for the magic to arrive, but instead I took a dislike to the main character, Samantha Whipple the last surviving member of the Bronte family.  Off to college at Oxford, she finds herself trapped in a dark and damp tower and having to defend all that she knows about literature to her handsome older tutor.

I was waiting for some Bronte secret to be unearthed or for the snarky Samantha to turn into a nicer character, instead I was annoyed with her from the beginning to the end.  She seemed a bit frozen into a immature  girl by her overbearing but dead father, home schooled by mainly reading Bronte novels which she seemed to hate

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Eleanor is a bit of an odd fish, not only lonely she seems to not understand people.  She lives alone and goes to her office job where she doesn't quite fit in, and on Fridays collects her supermarket pizza and 2 bottles of vodka and heads home for a weekend alone.  The only outside contact is a weekly phone call to her mother.

All this changes when she has contact with IT worker Raymond and they help an elderly man, Eleanors empty world begins to expand and with it changes that she does not expect.

I enjoyed this story, and understood the sadness, loneliness and isolation that Eleanor lives, and liked how she slowly was able to venture out, and how that brings her some type of happiness.  I am sure that this one will be made into a movie, and I hope they don't ruin it a la Bridget Jones style.  4/5

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Middle Aged Lady Movie Night - Cafe Society

After an afternoon out with a bestie yesterday, I have no shame in being home by 7pm before it has got dark and cold.  A light supper and then time to relax with a movie before heading to bed suits me.  Cafe Society was a 99c special on Apple Itunes, and as I hadn't seen it at the cinema during its long run, I was glad to see it.

Set in the early 1930s in Hollywood,Bobby  a young New Yorker comes to seek out his successful uncle who has made a career as a talent agent.  His uncle sends him out with his assistant Ronnie, who he falls in love with, but she has a boyfriend.  So begins the love triangle that is the heart of the story.

While visually nice to look at it still felt like a series of overdone sets, and expensive designer outfits that seemed out of place.  For me there was something missing in this Woody Allen story, a lack of humor or charm maybe, but I didn't click with the whole thing and was quite bored.  2/5

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Maudie

It was a cloudy Saturday in the capital city and the clouds were looming.   A friend and I met to wander just a couple of shops before settling for a couple of calorific treats, well deserved after a long working week.  This had been one of the movies that I had been intending to see at the film festival several months ago, but due to sessions at odd times I had missed it.  We got our favorite icecreams at the counter and had a secret snigger as we were the youngest in the cinema by a few years (we are edging close to 50 ourselves).

I didn't know much going in, except that Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke were in it.  What a special little movie this one is.  It is based on a real life Canadian painter, Maude Lewis and the story about her life and love with her husband.    I won't spoil it with the whole plot - have a nosy at the trailer if you are interested.

We did leave with smiles, even though there was some sadness, and an appreciation for our indoor plumbing, big couches and warm beds.  Also if we win lotto tonight we are going to go and rent a cottage for a month in Nova Scotia - just not in the winter time.  Also maybe I will dream of a husband who can push me round on a little wagon!! 4.5/5




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Size Zero - Victoire Dauxerre

Discovered in the streets at just 17, Victoire seems to be living the dream as an Elite model.  She is quite blunt though about the perils of the industry, living on just 3 apples a day most days and fast entering into anorexic type behavior you could not help but feel that the industry takes advantage of these young girls.  I certainly wouldn't recommend it to any girls I know.  3/5

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Family Gene - Joselin Linder

Joselin Linder writes a book that is one half memoir and another medical mystery.   She describes watching her physician father become more and more unwell, while doctors struggle to figure out what is wrong with him.  It is not until other family members succumb to the same symptoms and problems, that the family and doctors begin to realize that this disease that only affects their family has a genetic cause.

With advances in genetic testing many of the family bring themselves forward to be tested, and after Joselin and her sister both test positive, it them forces them into making many ethical choices about whether to have children or not and what treatments to undergo, when there is no proven treatment plan.

Fascinating stuff - it makes you wonder what you would do in a similar circumstance and you have to admire her bravery for writing this book. 5/5

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

Passengers

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Music Monday - The Whole of the Moon - The Waterboys

Gosh this one reminds me of living in London in the mid nineties, so long ago now.  Me walking around crowded streets and on the tube listening non stop on my walkman, and then when I had saved some pounds I got a discman.  I might have to get some more tunes to put on my ipod now.  I wonder what will come next?  How will the kids be listening to music in twenty years time?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Bright Hour - Nina Riggs

What a beautiful book.  The author Nina Riggs writes so smoothly about the challenges that are thrown at her.  First her most loved mother dies, then her son is diagnosed with diabetes and then her own journey with Breast cancer.  Only in her thirties and with two young sons, she is able to open up and bring us close into her world.  I have a soft spot for such memoirs, and this one reinforces my affection for such books. 5/5

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Snatched

My niece and I had a big day out.  Shopping, eating and seeing IT at the movies.  We then got pricey hipster chips and came home to have a feast on the couch.  We thought  a comedy might stop us having nightmares about clowns.

The premise is pretty simple.  Amy Schumer plays the usual dizzy version of herself, while Goldie Hawn plays her more serious worry wart mother.  After a boyfriend break up, Amy is forced into taking her mother on a holiday to Ecuador.   After meeting a handsome young man, the ladies find themselves abducted.   Hilarious hijinks are meant to ensue, but we found ourselves bored and chit chatted throughout.

We didn't have nightmares about scary clowns or aging comedians with two much filler.  2/5


Friday, September 22, 2017

IT

We went to the cinema this afternoon to see IT.  I couldn't remember if I had read the book when it came out.  I won't retell the story, except to say that primarily about a group of bullied youngsters in the small town of Derry.   As well as being abused by the local bullies, all of the kids are being tormented by the spooky clown that terrorizes the local children.

I didn't find it too scary, although there were quite a few jump off your seat scares for the folks seated around us.  I did enjoy the goonies/stand by me friendship theme running throughout the story.  4/5

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Little Theatre By The Sea - Rosanna Ley

Faye has finished her interior degree course and with no job to go to accepts her good friends offer of house sitting in the beautiful Sardinia.   Whilst there she is asked to help out with the little local theatre that has been deserted for decades, and is in need of a renovation.

This is a gentle slow novel and although it didn't offer any surprises it did keep me entertained.   3/5.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Need You Dead - Peter James

Reading the latest Roy Grace novel is always exciting.  You know someone will die, Roy will talk about his family, his dog and his late goldfish (gone but not forgotten), there will be a few suspects and the team will come together to solve the crime, usually after a chase and then at the end there will be a slight twist, something to keep you coming back for more.  Already I am looking forward to the next adventure. 4/5

Monday, September 18, 2017

Music Monday - Haim - Falling

I can't stop listening to Haim at the moment.   Lots of the songs our my soundtrack on the way to work.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Date For Mad Mary

It was a bit of a quiet weekend in the city with plenty of spring rain.  Good for the gardens, but we are all a bit over it.  I would have preferred to see Victoria and Abdul, but that wasn't going to work out.  So we went to see this one, a movie none of us knew about.

Mary is in her 20s and just out of prison for a violent attack.  She is to be a matron of honor at her best friends wedding, but needs to find a  date to be her plus one.  On line it is described as an Irish comedy but it is not roll around the floor funny and I would think it should be under the drama genre.

It was OK, and although we knew little about it we were entertained and a little surprised at how it ended.  3/5

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Disaster Movies

Tonight after a disrupted nights sleep due to on call work, I sat down to relax and rewatch a movie I must have seen at least 5 times in the past - The Day After Tomorrow.    I have a soft spot for the old disaster movies, and I was trying to think why they appealed so much.  I guess that as a child growing up in the 1970s, our Saturday nights were filled with The Posiedan Adventure and the Towering Inferno, all impossibly long and boring with only 10 minutes of action at the end.   Modern movies with computer generated effects can get into it pretty early on, and we can get scene after scene off big cities, sinking, burning and cracking apart.

The formula for most of these movies is common for most of these movies:

  • Some large landmark will be destroyed with sad music playing
  • The main characters generally will survive the disaster, after several close calls of planes crashing, hanging off cliffs, sinking etc
  • There will be a love interest, all quiet looks at the beginning and a lusty embrace at the end
  • The baddie will get their  comeuppance at the end, and usually die in some gruesome way
Now being a middle aged lady, I seldom venture to the cinema to see such movies and are content to stream them for a cheaper price or wait until they are on free tv.  After watching the news lately with the two large hurricanes in the US and flooding in Asia, it seems that real life is far more extreme than the fiction we normally watch.  With hundreds of thousands of people affected and left hungry and homeless, I can't help but think I am lucky that we have not had such disasters here.  So I am thinking that the universal appeal of such movies, is that for all of us, we are just trying to survive and get through, and we all think about what we would do in the same circumstances.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Lost Letter - Jillian Cantor

A good story that was easy to get lost in.  Told in two story lines, in 1989 when Kate's life is changing and she is dealing with her aging father who is losing his memory.   She is looking after his stamp collection and wonders about a fifty years old letter that was never sent.

In 1939 we meet Kristoff who is taken in by an Austrian stamp engraver and his young daughters.  With the Nazis approaching the Jewish family do not feel safe.

A unique spin  on a second world war novel.
4/5

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Far From the Madding Crowd

A sunny spring day here turned a bit chilly by the late afternoon, so it was time to close the windows and doors and watch some of the movies and shows that have piled up unwatched.  Far From the Madding Crowd came out in 2015, but was one of those movies that I was too busy to go and watch at the cinema and with $17 ticket prices, it makes it a bargain to watch it home for $2.99 from the Apple store.

Based on the classic 1874 novel from Thomas Hardy that I had never read it was a glimpse into a genre that appeals to me.  The tale of a woman, in a world where it was difficult for her to have independence, status and choices, when being married usually meant losing her money and having to yield to her husband.  Bathsheba Everdene helps on her aunties farm, before she inherits her own estate (lucky girl).  She gets involved with three different men, who all fall in love with her instantly and who will she choose?

I always enjoy watching Carey Mulligan, and I loved the costumes, scenery and handsome men.  The story was a little flat for me - somehow the passion and love seemed a bit muted.  Still a 4/5.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Late Show - Michael Connelly

Detective Renee Ballard prefers to work the night shifts in her LA department, away from all the others and giving her time to paddleboard during the day and finish off her jobs.  This is a new main character for the author, and I think he has done a great job of creating her, she came across real with enough flaws to develop several storylines, with of course a couple of traumatic back stories.  She seemed to be able to hold her own with the male detectives and is able to solve a major crime case.

I look forward to see where her next stories go. 4/5

Monday, September 04, 2017

Music Monday - Fly Me To The Moon

I watched this at the weekend- she is pretty amazing.  Angelina Jordan is from Norway and is only 10 years old.  This is her singing Fly Me to the Moon from the US TV show Little Big Shots.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

What We Did On Our Holiday

Saturday night on the couch and I thought I would watch one of the $2.99 special movies on Apple TV.   What We Did On Our Holiday is a British movie with a simple premise.  Mum and Dad and three cute kids are driving to Scotland to visit their dad/grandad played by Billy Connelly who is celebrating a significant  birthday.

I won't give the whole plot away, Wikipedia can tell you the whole thing.   I really liked the middle portion, but felt beginning and end were a bit flat and boring.  Billy Connelly was especially good in his role and it never seemed like he was acting, more like just being a version of himself.  3/5

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Spooks

I really liked the British drama Spooks when it originally aired about MI5, which had a great abundance of quality acting mixed with serious political storylines.  Sir Harry Pearce  (Peter Firth) returns to tie this story and adding Kitchen Harrington you think would be a winning formula.

A usual case of the old double cross and not knowing if our characters were working for the goodies or the baddies left me a little bored .  Like the Sex and the City movies, it felt like it was trying to recreate a period of time and place that had moved on.  2/5


Thursday, August 31, 2017

An Astronauts Guide to Life On Earth - Col Chris Hadfield

If you ever dreamed that you could be an astronaut then this is the book to read.  It might make you realise that you should have tried harder at school.  Col Chris Hadfield is a Canadian who has worked his whole life to make it into space and you have to admire his extraordinary work ethic to achieve his goal.

It was fascinating to read about his journey to both Nasa and then into space.  Although it looks cool to float around the space station the realities of flight made me think I would be space sick the whole time and would not tolerate the lack of showers well.  Hats off to the men and women who step up to do this job.