Monday, November 30, 2009

Yippee for Stan

Miss Pia, Stan won Australian Idol. This is his first single, which is already number one on Itunes here. Just thought we should let you know. We hope he has an awesome time!!

Best of November

Wouldn't this be a fabulous bed to snuggle up in with a good book?

November was a bit of a funny month. The end of spring, that still felt like winter. Although it has warmed up, and sometimes I can get washing dry on the line, it has been mostly cloudy and wet. I am longing for blue skies, and spring evenings.

The best of this month has definitely been , a book that I still think about now. I wonder if Oprah would make it a book club book in her final year of shows? Maybe she would make it a movie?

I only made it to the movies once, to see , but got to see a few dvds to pass the grey evenings. The vampires did OK, and I will be interested to read the book and see how it compares.

So I am looking forward to seeing what December holds.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Moon

New Moon (2009)

I admit it, at heart I am still a 16 year old geeky girl, who likes indie music and vampire movies. 25 years later, I was still itching to see New Moon, and as most of my friends had been earlier and the weather was disgusting, I traipsed into town to see the movie. Me and lots of 14 year old girls. I did avoid the mulitplex cinema and headed to a more adult one, where at least it wasn't too full.

Did I enjoy it. I think I did, I like a bit of teenage serious vampire love stuff. Edward, Bella and Jacob love triangle keeps it interesting, and we can see that the vampires and werewolves are heading for a showdown.

Maybe the things I liked most are that the two leads aren't Hollywierd perfect. Bella has brunette hair, and doesn't have 38 double ds, and dresses like she buys things that we all can afford. She doesn't drive a porsche and have a parent who owns a mansion, and doesn't appear to work and manages to look only two years older than her. I won't watch any shows where you can't tell the difference between the kids and the adults. I like that her dad has a job, a beat up truck and a normal house. Jacob, well he is a bit too Hollywierd eat only protein shakes, buffed up between a shoot, and oh my goodness those super white glow in the dark teeth are hideous, reminding me of Ross on Friends when he got his teeth bleached.

Edward, he is a bit sappy, a bit new romantic and blousy and somehow I think the director has been unable to portray any real chemistry between him and Bella. His love is meant to be intense, and yet I didn't really get that from him.

So, I guess I better read the book at some stage and catch up on all the backstory.


Fugitive Pieces - Dvd

Fugitive Pieces - Dvd (2007)
This dvd drama, was based on an earlier book, one I had attempted to read several times but could never get into. So all of my opinions have to be based on the dvd alone.
Jakob Beer is just a child in 1942, when the Germans invade his home in Poland. His father is shot in front of his hiding spot, and he hears his mother and beloved sister Bella being taken away. Eventually he leaves his hiding spot, runs into the forest and buries himself, knowing that he will die outside. Found by a Greek archaeologist, Jakob is taken to Greece, but still haunted by the memories of his families, and stressed by the Germans who are also in Greece, he hides in the house never venturing outside.
Athos and Jakob then emigrate to Canada, to start a new life where we get to meet their neighbours and the new people entering their lives. Jakob becomes a writer, and meeting a new crowd he marries Alex, a vibrant young woman who tries to get him to forget his past and live in the present. Still haunted by his memories, he retreats to Greece to write and finds himself with a new future.
I wasn't sure when I watched this one if I enjoyed it, but thinking about it and writing it I realise it was a complex and beautiful story, one that maybe is a bit restricted by the limits of time. I have to give it a 3/5, for its beauty and the sensitivity of the main character Jakob.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Austenland - Shannon Hale

Austenland - Shannon Hale (2007)

Jane Hayes is a 30 something New Yorker, who has had 13 previous in her life, none of which matches up to either Colin Firth or to Mr Darcy. After a rich old aunty dies, Jane is left no money in the will, but instead has an all expenses paid trip to Pembrook Park, where she is immersed in Regency era manners, dresses, food and men.

It is a charming book, which to its merit is short and sweet, and I think I enjoyed the chapter headings the most, as each was devoted to one of her many boyfriends.

I am feeling an urge to immerse myself in all things Austen for a while, and with a cloudy weekend coming up may have to start Pride and Prejudice on the dvd, after I have finished my pile of rented ones from the library.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Is a Good Day for Music too!!

OpShop - One Day

Kiwi band, beautiful song. Always makes me sad because they have moving ads on tv using this tune.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - dvd

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Dvd (2008)

As usual, I intended to go and see this one, but it came out in the middle of summer here when it was hot and the evenings begged to be spent sitting by the beach, out for a walk or with a lazy dinner in the backyard. I often feel guilty, if I waste a warm evening by hiding in the cinema. Movies are for cloudy or rainy days, especially this spring when sunshine has been so hard to find.

So, essentially two girlfriends arrive to spend 8 weeks in Barcelona, staying with friends. Vicky is engaged and spending time on her studies and her bestie, Cristina is searching for love. Early on in their stay they meet the charismatic, handsome and sexy artist Juan Antonio, both becoming obsessed with him.

Directed by Woody Allen, the movie is filled with witty conversation, and I enjoyed the summer holiday feel of the movie, with the beautiful scenery and gorgeous co-stars. As with most Woody Allen movies, I somehow felt the ending was a bit blunt, I wanted a resolution, a conclusion. I felt jilted and a bit shortchanged, so it has to be a 3/5, when it could have been pushing a four.

Quantum of Solace - Dvd

Quantum of Solace - Dvd (2009)

Not sure if I understood the story in this one, or was there a story? There were a lot of explosions, car chases and shooting. And, ohhhh Daniel Craig scowling in a suit, that was distracting. Glad I didn't pay movie prices for this one, it was nice to sit on the couch with my bag of chips and watch him rescue anorexic foreign models from danger. 2/5

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Time of My Life - Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi

Time of My Life - Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi (2009)

Since seeing Dirty Dancing in 1987 with a good friend, and crying at the end, I can't help but have a soft spot for Patrick Swayze. He could play a tough guy, but he could dance too!!! What teenage girl could resist? Well you all know his life story, the cancer and how it ends, so there aren't too many surprises in this book, except maybe the depth of his love for his wife and his dedication to his job.

A 3/5 for this swift read. I am sure it will be in many a girls christmas stocking this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flashforward - Robert J Sawyer

Flashforward - Robert J. Sawyer (1999)

I know, an old book, and Sci-fi too. Flashforward is the story about a group of scientists in Switzerland who are testing their new proton atom collider thing, when everyone in the world suffers from a 2 minute blackout. During this blackout, everyone catches a glimpse of their life, 21 years in the future. Once the 2 minutes are over, millions around the world are dead, due to cars and planes crashing, collapsing and injuring themselves or others, so there are large repercussions. Many never experience what the future holds for them, as they are asleep and are unable to remember their dreams. Futures in business will be won or lost due to visions of hovercars, new presidents and companies all seen in the two minute glimpse.

We also get to see how this vision affects the scientists who caused in, and how their lives are changed. So this book, has been made into a new tv series, although I think everyone experiences a flashforward of not so far in the future. I don't know if it is any good, and I'm not going to hunt down opinions on the web. Maybe this time I will wait, and see for myself.

I liked that the book was not a sci-fi brick, and was a quick couple of days read. It also made me think about a few things and I think I learnt another couple of nerd facts. 3/5

Monday, November 16, 2009

Makes Me Smile - Music Monday

Michael Buble - this always makes me smile. I need it this Monday.

The Book of Fires - Jane Borodale

The Book of Fires - Jane Borodale (2009)

Historical fiction is one of those genres that I cling to and even though it has its ups and downs you know that you will always come away appreciating the luxuries of modern life that we take for granted.

Seventeen year old Agnes Trussel, finds herself pregnant and knows that she cannot stay on the farm or face a life with the man who she slept with. A chance find allows her the opportunity to escape to London, where she arrives not knowing where to go.

Finding a job by chance, she becomes the assistant to Mr Blacklock who makes fireworks. In his workshop she helps him, gradually learning most of his secrets and dreaming of making fireworks in vivid colours. As her knowledge increases, she realises that hiding her pregnancy is becoming more and more difficult.

I actually was surprised at the ending, it was not what I expected, and that for me made it a more memorable book. 3/5

Walking in Light - Kelvin Cruikshank

Walking in Light - Kelvin Cruikshank (2009)

Kelvin appears with other psychics on NZ tvs Sensing Murder show, which with family permission looks into what happened to many famous unsolved cases. I am sure it has helped many families and raised the profice of psychics in NZ.

An interesting book about his childhood and growing up realizing from an early age that he could see things others couldn't, Kelvin struggled with his growing abilities. In his mid twenties it caused a meltdown and he really seemed to lose himself, before finding himself on a different journey of helping people.

Midway through the book, I could feel the turmoil of his life and could sense that there was a lot more that couldn't be written down.


Confessions of a Shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic - Dvd (2009)

Oh my, if I wasn't laid low after a severe attack of the food poisoning kind, I would have reached over and stopped this awful, hideous, bad dvd and tossed it away.

Honestly, I have read the books, which have a certain kind of charm about them, but the movie well it made it all so terribly wrong. Firstly you just want to slap her, even with her bouncy sweet hair. Pay your rent first, crazy to be renting from your friend and not be able to pay her when you have buy a $800 pair of shoes. Most of her outfits were fugly too. There wasn't one worth ooohing and ahhhing over.

Possibly the producers missed their moment with this one. They should have bought it out in 2005, not in the middle of a recession, where most people want the Good Life, not Gucci.

It could have been saved, however if it had a witty script. It it had some sort of charm, but alas it was pure Hollywood rubbish, written by 12 year olds who think that Legally Blonde and Clueless are high drama.



Defiance - Dvd (2008)

Another movie that I really wanted to like, I tried and tried, but I couldn't do it. I wasn't in the mood.

It is hard to be harsh to a movie that tells such an important story. Based on a true story, the Bielski brothers hide in the forest during the second world war. Jewish, they end up forming a large community with others sheltering there. Personally I would not have withstood one of their chilly winters, and it truly is miraculous that anybody survived.

I guess the director didn't do cheesy cliches in this movie, but for some reason it felt souless to me. 2/5

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Go Stan Go

We hope Stan wins Australian Idol, at least it is making me want to watch it, as it has been soooo boring the past couple of years. American Idol too, is far too insipid and like listening to easy listening radio. I do like Simon Cowell and the audition shows are always good for a wee giggle.

I never understand the folks who can't hold a tune and are devestated when they don't get through. Honestly, video yourself before and watch it, with lots of other people, and alcohol.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I am Ozzy

I Am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne (2009)

Well you have to think that although these are defiantly Ozzys stories about his life, his dyslexia may have prevented him from actually writing this book, but after reading it I am surprised this guy is still standing and still alive. It certainly made me laugh, as he has led a life full of alcohol, sex, drugs and some rock and roll.

The love for his wife Sharon and children is expressed in surprisingly depth in this book, but beware the animal lover reading it, as at various times he apologizes to doves, rats, bats, cats and pigs.

You might also want to be aware that there is plenty of sex and swearing in the book, so it might not be a good idea to put it in grandmas Christmas stocking, but I bet your brother would love it. I bought it for mine, and then had to get one for myself too, as I couldn't wait for him to read it.

Our family loved the Osbournes, and you have to admire them for putting it all on show. I am sure much of the television show was manipulated for good business, but it succeeded in making them a household name and growing their brand.

So I have to say, I am going to aim for a big 4/5, just because I don't know when an autobiography made me laugh out loud so much.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Laughing With - Regina Spektor

It is Monday, so it is time for some music.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse

The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse (2009)

It didn't take me long to read this story, as it appeared to have been adapted from a short story, and was just the thing I needed to be able to pick up and put down on my breaks at work this weekend.

Freddie is travelling through France in 1928, meeting up with friends, when he has a car accident and finds himself in a small French village. Invited to dine with the locals, he finds himself drawn to a beautiful local girl, who tells him about what has happened locally. After losing his own precious brother in the great war, Freddie is looking for answers to his tragic death.

Returning 5 years later, he begins to investigate what happened to his mysterious friend, and the secrets that the village still holds onto. Ohhhh spooky.

Actually not so spooky, and I appreciated that the author did not spin this tale out to 800 pages, and kept it short and sweet. 3/5

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger (2009)

I guess this book has come out with a lot of fanfare. The Time Travelers Wife, is one everybody has read and this year it comes to the movies. So like lots of others I had high hopes for this one. I hear the rumours, the slight disappointments.

For me, it seemed like it was a book of good ideas. Julia and Valentina are identical 'mirror' twins, who find out that an aunt they didn't know, has died and left them her flat in London that overlooks the Highgate Cemetery. So they move and begin to discover the world by themselves.

I could feel that this book was one that was plotted with a couple of good ideas, but much of the beginning and middle felt like it was filled with filler, just trying to lead you to the end. There is the obsessive compulsive/hoarder neighbour, the aunts boyfriend, and the aunt who as a ghost remains around the house who are all playing their parts as interesting background characters. It was the twins who annoyed me the most, they seemed passionless and insipid. I would LOVE to have a flat given to me in London, I would live in the cemetery if I had to.

I liked the ending, I didn't see it coming, but I am not going to tell you what it is. Read the book. 3/5

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Dvd

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - dvd (2008)

Well I feel a bit conflicted about this one. I read the book ages ago, but the story is one that is hard to forget. Bruno is a naive 8 year old, who with his family has to move from Berlin to the country, due to his fathers new job. leaving friends and family behind. As the second world war rages, Bruno continues to do things that young boys do, play, explore and read adventure books.

Sighting what he thinks is a farm through his bedroom window, he sneaks out of the house to explore and there he meets Shmeul, a boy his own age. The boys manage to meet up several times and manage to form a friendship, trying to find time to play and laugh.

I don't like to give away what happens, but find myself thinking of the book which surprises you with it's ending more than the movie. The movie felt a bit forced, I think it captured the youthful naivete of Bruno, but because the form is much more visual than the book, you could see where it was headed very early on. It was a bit disconcerting to have all the actors perform in their proper British accents, they all put in a solid performance. My other criticism would be that I am not sure whether this movie was made for an adult, or youth audience, maybe a family audience without it really being a family film.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The International

The International - dvd (2009)

Clive wears a trenchcoat, runs, squints a lot, looks like an ad for pre botox (big worry lines), doesn't shave, has lovely big manhands, shoots guns and goes to Turkey.

Naomi, has lovely skin, never seems to age, is very blond, wears a great grey scarf, has a cute movie husband, seems to be like a teenager in an adult job and gets to Italy pretty quickly.

The movie has a big gunfight, seems a bit too cool for school, lots of men die, does try and explain about how some bigshots manipulate many conflicts around the world, lots of folks make money exploiting nations and wars, has beautiful scenes of Turkey and the Italian coast, is very pretty to look at and I am not sure I understood it, but I was a bit distracted watching it.

So I can only drag a 1/5 for this, which makes me feel sad, as it looked interesting.

Travelling with Pomegranates - Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Travelling with Pomegranates - Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor (2009)

Seeing this one on blogland somewhere, I reserved it and had it in my hot little palms within a week. I am pleased to say that November is turning into a fine reading month, if only the weather would get better too. Still grey cool evenings are perfect for curling up on the bed with a book, and as television is only fit for 15 year olds at the moment, it seems only to be on for background noise. I would rather spend a couple of hours browsing blogs than watching tv, and very little holds my attention any more.

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of The Secret Life of Bees, a great book if you haven't read it. In this book she travels to Greece first, with her daughter Ann, and each takes a chapter to describe their experiences. More than just a travel book, it explores many different experiences, aging, depression, family life, relationships and love. Ann describes her journey from college student to choosing to become a writer, while Sue is able to pinpoint many of the experiences that shape her wonderful novel. The many experiences with bees, the virgin Mary and Black Madonnas.

So it is a 4/5 for this small book, that made me want to pack my bags and head to Greece for my own adventure.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Music Monday - Lior and Sia

Lior and Sia - I'll Forget You. Beautiful.

Playing on my ipod on this sunny and warm spring afternoon, on Sunday.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Help

The Help - Kathryn Stockett (2009)

Well onto November, and we have welcomed in the new month with a sunny warmish day - finally!! After a dreary and cold October, it is nice to feel a touch of spring.

So I got to sit in the sun in a couple of locations and eat my lunch and read, at the marina, in Civic Sq and in the backyard. The help has a few narrators, Abeline and Minny who are domestic help in Jackson Mississippi. Through their eyes we see what is going on in the households, as they clean, cook and raise the children.

Then Miss Skeeter, a college educated white girl decides to use her skills to get published. First working for the local paper, she is given the job of advice columnist for a cleaning column. Never having had to clean before, she asks for assistance from a friends help - Miss Abeline. Once they begin to trust each other, Skeeter is challenged by a New York editor to write more compelling prose in order to be published. So Skeeter approaches several of the domestic help to find out what they think about working for the white southern families they work for.

I looked forward to heading to bed and reading this book, which hasn't happened in a while. Each and every character was interesting in it's own way, and I love a story that is held up by the women folk, who aren't soppy over men. I'm going to have give it a big 5/5, how's that for brave. Just because I'm going to recommend this one to all my work colleagues and friends.

So November, you've started strong, I wonder if you can maintain this high standard for the whole month.