Monday, March 31, 2008

Losing It - Valerie Bertinelli

Losing It - Valerie Bertinelli (2008)
Valerie Bertinelli used to play Barbara in a comedy from the 70s/80s called One Day at a time. Groundbreaking in that the show was about a single mother, and her two daughters I remember that I used to love it, and would rush home to watch it whenever I could. Chances are, it might not have been too often, as in those days we all lived in the house of one television, and it was before video was available. Valerie was always cute, all the boys had a crush on her and all the girls liked her.

Cute then, and still sweet now this book tells about being a child actor, marrying Ed van Halen and her life long struggle in her marraige, and with her weight. Not too complicated and she doesn't dish any real dirt, it is still a nice read about what seems to be a nice girl. I'm going to give her a solid 3/5 for this read, as it was nice too!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Peony in Love - Lisa See

Peony in Love - Lisa See (2007)

After reading the wonderful Snow Flower and the Secret Fan I was drawn to reading Lisa Sees latest novel. I wasn't disappointed as it is another great story beautifully written. Peony is a sixteen year old girl, who is already betrothed in marriage, and sheltered in her house which she is never allowed to leave, she becomes obsessed with the an opera "The Peony Pavilion". Life for her then begins to imitate the lyrics that she constantly reads.

Following the story of Peony and her betrothed husband, we are drawn into the amazing world of seventeenth century China. Full of superstitions, traditions , ancestors and ghosts this is truly a magical novel.

I am going to give it a 4/5. I enjoyed it immensely, but felt that Snow Flower just eclipsed it as being the better book. Lisa See is a great writer and I look forward to reading more of her books.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Sicko (2007)

Just looking at the cover I posted, I am not sure why it is quoted as "You'll laugh till it hurts"? I really enjoyed the dvd, and agree that it is "one of the year's best". Michael Moore is great, I know loads of folks hate him, and sometimes his style is crude and his ideas and arguments a bit simplistic, but you have to admire the mans ability to ask real questions and question policymakers and government.

I saw his interview on Oprah recently, where he discussed healthcare as being the number one cause of bankruptcy and homelessness in the US. Amazing and incredibley shocking.

In New Zealand if we have an accident, we get taken to a public hospital and treated, no bills, no insurance needed - all free. Of course there are waiting lists for bypass surgery, hip replacements and some cancer treatments. But for urgent stuff we get treated and fast. I couldn't believe the opening titles of this dvd, where some guy is stitching his large knee wound closed at home with cotton and needle. Oh my gosh, that must of hurt. Then the next guy we meet, lost 2 fingers in a saw accident and had to choose between the ring finger at $12,000 or the index finger at $60,ooo. Why is this acceptable? Gosh I couldn't stand the stress of choosing, or having to worry about money when you were lying in pain.

Gosh people, you deserve better. What are they doing with all of your taxes?

I am going to give Michael Moore a big 4.5/5. I think everyone should take the time to watch this, talk about it and what it means. It's not very funny, but it's good.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See (2005)
This is a novel, set in remote China in the nineteenth story and tells of Lily and Snow Flower, two girls whose lives become intertwined at the age of six and continues throughout their lives. An amazing tale of age old traditions that include arranged marriages and foot binding rituals that start at age seven, this book also includes the secret women's writing of 'nu shu' which allowed private messages to be sent between girls and women, and remained a secret for a thousand years.

This book was beautiful and reminded me of a Thousand Splendid Suns, in its telling of the lives of women. Definitely worth searching out at the library, and worth a 5/5. If you read it or have read it before, please let me know what you think.

PS I have amended my points for this book from a 4/5 to a 5/5. I have been thinking about it all week, and how much I enjoyed it, and learnt so much from it. So there you go, one of the best books I have read in some time.

A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon

A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon (2006)
Mark Haddon is the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003), which I didn't love or particularly enjoy even though it made everybody elses top 10 books for that year. This book was recommended to me by someone at work, when we had one of those discussions about books we had read recently.

So what is it about? Well George is a typical father and husband, who is slowly going mad during his retirement. After discovering a small lesion on his hip, he spirals into a breakdown, that also coincides with his daughters wedding. I must admire Mark Haddons character development, they felt real to me and I think he did a good job of getting into the main characters skin without making them too cliched.

It didn't feel relaxed to me though, and maybe wasn't my best choice of long holiday reading. I am going to give it a 2/5. I feel harsh, maybe it deserves a 3, but I wouldn't put it on a recommended reading list. Oh all the chocolate must have gone to my brain.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Call from the Other Side - Sue Nicholson

A Call from the Other Side - Sue Nicholson (2007)

Sue Nicholson is a psychic who lives in the same city as me. Originally born in the UK, this story tells mostly of her growing up in a family where she suffered from parents who were tough and often cruel. Her mother was depressed for most of Sues chilhood and her father a heavy drinker, with little support Sue had a tough time growing up .

After an abusive relationship in her teens, she met her soul mate Steve, and they emigrated to New Zealand and brought up their three girls. Sue had discovered her psychic ability as a girl, but it wasn't until her thirties that she moved into giving readings for people.

A couple of years ago, a New Zealand tv company was looking for someone to be on their new show "Sensing Murder" which uses a couple of psychics to help investigate murders of New Zealanders from the past couple of decades. I love this program, not only is what they show amazing but it has made me look into what I believe, and opened my eyes.

One of the saddest things in the book, I thought was that when she went home to help look after her dying mother, her father made her pay board to stay with them. Then they were both ungrateful for her coming to see them!

A nice quick read, it only took me a night I did like this book and made me admire Sue even more as a person. 4/5

The Diplomats Wife - Pam Jenoff

The Diplomats Wife - Pam Jenoff (2008)
The Diplomats Wife is a story that starts in the second worl war when Marta is rescued from a Nazi prison, by Paul and American soldier. Of course they fall in lust, and happen to run into each other in various locations across Europe and end up becoming engaged. Marta moves onto the UK to meet up with Paul, but receives the news that he has been killed in a plane crash.
Alone, pregnant and vulnerable she takes up a position at the foreign office and marries a diplomat, Simon that she has met and works for. After a couple of years of marriage she is drawn back to Europe on a secret mission for the government.
Marta is a character from Pam Jenoffs earlier novel, Kommandants Girl. I found the diplomats wife to be a quick read but I didn't quite believe the characters, or the just too covienant coincidences that seemed to make them end up in the same spot at the same time.
Still it's an ok weekend read and I will give it 3/5.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani (2007)

For a first novel, I must applaud Anita Amirrezvani for creating a 'whole' novel. One that grasps you and holds onto you for the whole book, leaving no big gaps of blithering that just extend the pain of reading. Born in Tehran, but growing up in America, Anita spent nine years on this book and writes an intoxicating tale of seventeenth century Iran which is narrated by a young girl.

I felt it was similar in the story and in the quality of writing to A Thousand Splendid Suns, the second book by the author of the Kite Runner. This is a good thing, as that was definitely one of my favourite reads in the past twelve months.

I am going to give this lovely book a very solid 4/5. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

I have just got home from this movie, and I must say I enjoyed it and will give it a 4/5 straight away. I thought both Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman did a good job, I didn't once manage to cringe at the accents and they certainly looked the part. Eric Bana, seemed a bit frustrated or constipated the whole movie, but he takes his shirt off - so he's not too bad either.

Although the purists will say some liberties have been taken with historical facts, it's only a 2 hour movie - and I enjoyed it and wasn't disappointed. I loved the book when I read it a few years ago, more because the author has a compelling way of writing that lets you speed along and makes a quick and exciting read. We all know how the book and the movie will end, no surprises there.

Worth seeing for the sumptuous costumes alone. Take a girlfriend, leave the boys at home, grab a big popcorn and enjoy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Red Eye

Red Eye (2005)
Nothing we haven't seen before in other movies, yet I found it a good watch with just a bit of a thrill. Girl meets boy, both hop on plane, boy seems interested in girl - but guess what? He knows more about her than he should and things turn nasty.

The best bet was I thought that the Rachel McAdams character does a reasonable job of kicking butt without turning into Jodie Foster or being a secret ninja expert. A watchable 3/5.

Good old poor peoples tv (no cable in this house) , does manage to throw some entertainment out every now and again. I can't get the channel that shows all the BBC stuff either, so I am stuck with some pretty bland viewing.

Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult (2007)

This was one of the many books sitting in my book mountain aching to be read. As my post graduate study time is looming again for the year (the last year too), I have had to return all the books to the library and attempt the ones that I own. So forgive me if there isn't too much variety, and the extended time it takes me to read each one.

I discovered Jodi Picoult, after she published her book Plain Truth(1999) about an Amish girl who ends up pregnant after visiting her brother out in the real world. I was hooked after that and really think that Jodi is one of my favorite writers who writes about topics of the moment, and with an amazing depth, infusing each character with warmth and personality.

In nineteen minutes she takes on the challenge, of looking at Peter who after years of bullying at school, becomes a school shooter, murdering 10 high school students. I read "We need to talk about Kevin" and I found it dull and drawn out and failed to see what all the hoopla was about. I found Jodis' book to be far more readable and enjoyable.

Jodi Picoult is one of the few authors that make me excited to see a new book on the shelves - I'm going to give it a 4/5.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Knocked Up

Knocked Up (2007)

Oh Knocked up, I kinda liked you. At least you explained why so many of us girls are single, showing us the guys who live like teenagers all their lives - you know who you are. Thank you for making Katherine Heigl smart and funny, bless you for showing that expression on her face when she had to woke Seth Rogen up , when he was lying on her bed mooning her.

You did take the turn of starting funny, then turning serious - why do the writers do this? Is there a built in, must teach you a moral clause in every movie contract? You saved yourself, by turning funny again for a while and although predictable, I like how you ended. You get a fantastic 4/5. Thank you knocked up - you saved my dreary Saturday night, stuck at home with a cold.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

See Matt Damon run, see him look worried and yes ladies, he can use a cellphone!!
I don't know it didn't do anything for me, I even fell asleep on the couch watching it. I am sure the boys love it. 2/5