Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Twilight (2008)
I thought why not leave 2008 with a bit of a bang. Maybe I am a bit too out of the movies demographic, but luckily my 12 year old neice arrived on a plane at lunctime and so I could drag her along. I told her if she came with me to this one, she could choose the next movie we saw (please let it not be High School Musical 3, Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler).

Anyway I haven't read the book, but I was aware of the hype and a little of the storyline. Because of that I think I enjoyed the movie for what it was, essentially a lost girl at a new school, whose love interest just seems to have a very interesting family and extracaricular activities (see that, I didn't give much away to you at all).

So pop some popcorn and grab a girlfriend and go along and see. Be prepared to see teenage girls swoon and enjoy. 3/5

Oh and Happy New Year to my two readers!! I love you both!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner - Kerre Woodham

Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner - Kerre Woodham (2008)
Kerre is one of those women who have drifted in and out of television screens here in New Zealand for the past fifteen years, sent on Intrepid Journeys, destined to dance with the stars and too clever to go on Celebrity treasure Island (I hope).

At 41 she is approached by a Salmon company, saying they will sponser her to do the Auckland Marathon. So with 9 months to train, she starts running with the help of her trainer Gaz. After completing the Auckland run, she then sets her sights on the New York marathon.

Amusing and short, I liked that she was not a runner going into this, didn't get all pompous and smarmy because she had run two marathons and still she managed to fit in the training and running with her busy schedule. Certainly if you are planning a new years resolution about trying something new, this is a good start - 3/5. Me, I won't be running anywhere.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Love of Her Life - Harriet Evans

The Love of Her Life - Harriet Evans (2008)
Girl and boy meet, have a fantastic night then keep running into each other and running away. She is in publishing, he is a doctor, she lives in New York and he lives all over the UK. Real chick lit stuff, should have been 150 pages shorter, could only raise a meager 1.5/5, sorry.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)
Holidays from study give me a chance to catch up on all of those books and dvds that I have looked at during the year, but had to turn away from due to limited spare time. This Christmas I have had to work, but spare time in the evening and the worst television in the world (Shrek and Sound of Music repeats) mean I have been able to indulge in lying on the couch.

Love in the Time of Cholera is definitely beautiful to look at, set in Colombia around the turn of the 20Th century, and felt exotic and lush. I enjoyed the story, even though I have seen a few reviews that say it is a poor interpretation of the book, I would think it hard to take such a complex long tale and limit it to movie length. I sensed the infatuation of the two main characters, but never quite saw the love, so sorry it will only be a 2/5 today (still it beats Shrek anyday).

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Persausion (2007)
Persausion is one of my fave Jane Austen stories. I had returned from my OE in 1995 when the Ciaran Hind, Amanda Root cinema version reached the local arthouse movie theatre. I loved the story, especially on a wintery afternoon in a movie theatre with only two other patrons, and even did the old fashioned thing of actually reading the book. Once the dvd of this version was released a few years ago, I purchased it and have watched it several times since.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find that this version, to me was even better, my new highly recommended. It is to Jane Austens credit that she gives us a heroine so lacking in any modern movies. One who can be brunette, and plain (compared to her guady sister and other companions), yet still have a strong character and sense of humour, and be pursued the more interesting and handsome males. If it were a modern tale, she would be bookish and have glasses, and then be madeover into some uniform plastic playboy model.

Sally Hawkins as Anne, and Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth do stellar jobs of capturing the two main characters, who were engaged 8 years prior, but had the engagement broken by the 'persuasion' of a friend due to the unsure nature of the Captains future and fortune.

Perfect for a cool winters night, and even the boys may enjoy it. 4/5 - almost perfect.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Going Gray - Anne Kreamer

Going Gray - Anne Kreamer (2007)
My friends and I have often sat around and discusses at what stage do you move to stop dyeing your hair, and let it be natural and gray? We think that in our fifties, we will consider it and certainly if prices increase at the hairdressers than we will make the change even sooner.

Anne Kreamer had been dyeing her hair an unnatural brown every three weeks, up until age 49, when she decides to let to the grays grow in. In this wee book, she looks at peoples reaction to how she looks and how women and men with gray hair are perceived. I was surprised to learn that up until the 1950s only 10 percent of woman changed their hair colour.

A 3/5 for this book. I also loved an article that Marie Claire did in the past year, where it got three women to stop washing their hair with shampoos and conditioner for three months. By just using water and occasional natural products their hair stayed healthy and clean. I hate missing even one day of washing my hair, and was amazed that their hair looked ok.

The Judas Strain - James Rollins

The Judas Strain - James Rollins (2007)
What a roller coaster of a book, definitely one I would put in the "I can see this as a movie, cause it reads like an action screenplay book". Lots of running, swimming, shooting, fast flights across the ocean and of course kidnapping.

One set of scientists discover in Christmas Island, a toxic plague that looks set to destroy all life, and has its traces in the historical journey of Marco Polo. Meanwhile and assassin lands on the doorstep of Sigma leader Gray Pierce, while he is at his parents house. Will they find the cure, will his mother get her fingers chopped off, will they escape from the boat, will they find the cure in time and who will save them?

A 3/5 for this as actually it was a rollicking good read, and the historical aspects made it enjoyable and interesting, in much the same way that the Da Vinici code questioned our understanding about Jesus and early Christianity, this book made me want to read about Marco Polo.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Moonstruck (1987)
Ahhhhhh Moonstruck. I think I saw it when I first came out maybe at the movies or on television, but lately I have searched for a cheap copy. I found it in the three pack, with Untamed Heart and When Harry met Sally. Anyway I enjoyed me a bit of early Nicholas Cage and Cher, on a Saturday night with a bowl of pasta and a lemonade and vodka on the couch. Life is good. 4/5

Testimony - Anita Shreve

Testimony - Anita Shreve (2008)
I had seen this book sitting on the shelves at the local bookstore, and was so quick in ordering it at the library that I only had to wait two weeks for it to come through. I ordered it based on the author, as I have enjoyed most of her previous writing, and I had not taken the time to read the blurb. In fact, I started the book not knowing what it was about, if I had I may have had reservations about the content.

At a private high school, the headmaster is given a video tape to look at. On it he finds a graphic and disturbing record of a fourteen year old girl student, involved in sexual activities with three much older male students. Cleverly, rather than taking one viewpoint, Anita Shreve allows all the characters a voice and a platform. We hear from the girl, the boys, their friends and roomates, parents and teachers, as this effects so many people. Although a clever method of telling the story, I did ultimately become a bit distracted and confused by who was who.

I have to say though that I will be only giving this a 2/5, as a tale of sexual assualt is not the type of story I would want to reread, or to recommend to anyone else.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cancer Vixen - Marisa Acocella Marchetto

Cancer Vixen - Marisa Acocella Marchetto (2006)
Marisa is a New York cartoonist, who lives the Sarah Jessica Parker lifestyle of expensive restaurants and shoes. After becoming engaged, and planning a new life she discovers a lump in her breast. She then chronicles her journey with breast cancer in an entertaining comic form, that is readable and believeable without getting sappy. 3/5

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Garden of Eden in Hell - Melissa Muller, Reinhard Piechocki

A Garden of Eden in Hell - Melissa Muller, Reinhard Piechocki (2007)

Alice Herz-Sommer was a gifted pianist who grew up in Prague in a Jewish family. She was deported with her husband and son, to Theresiestadt Concentration Camp in 1942. Here she gave over a hundred concerts to fellow prisoners and to guards and SS officers and was able to save her son, one of only 130 children who survived out of the 15,000 sent to camp.

Emigrating to Israel and then London after the war, she continued practising, playing and teaching music. Aged 103 at the time of writing the book, she still lives in London.

An interesting story, but I am afraid I was a bit distracted in reading it, and felt it spent to long telling us about being a child in Prague and all the older sisters friends. Maybe my lack of understanding anything about classical music hindered my enjoyment too. 2/5

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Queen's Sorrow - Suzannah Dunn

The Queen's Sorrow - Suzannah Dunn (2008)
When I searched for a picture of this book, I got this one from Amazon UK and noted that after 14 reviews it only got 1.5 stars. I thought that a bit harsh, and although tempted to read what had been written, I didn't want it to colour my own thoughts and I need to dry my hair, go to the supermarket and get some housework done.

So I thought that this was an original take on a story that has been rehashed a lot recently. Queen Mary (Queen Elizabeth 1st 1/2 sister), marries Phillip of Spain, her nephew (yuch). As he arrives in England he brings with him hundreds of Spanish men, who end up sitting around waiting to go home.

One of these is Rafael a sundial maker who is sent to board with a local family. I enjoyed this different take on a royal story, where we get to see tudor England through a foreigners eyes.

So I am going to up the stars and my feelings tell me it is a 3/5 for this one. Off to dry my hair now.