Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Elephant Keeper - Chris Nicholson

The Elephant Keeper - Chris Nicholson (2009)

I had passed by this book at the library once before, and as I already had a stack that would rival my height had left it on the shelf. Somewhere in blogland it popped up again, and with my interest pipped , I reserved it to read.

It feels like it has taken me weeks to read, but they may be because I have carried it with me every day, to and from work and to various social occasions. Using any chance I had to pick it up and read, as it is a novel worth the effort.

Tom Page works in the stables with his father for a wealthy landowner in the 18th century, when the master chooses to buy two elephants, in order to breed them for their ivory. Thus, Tom looks after both Timothy and Jenny, and becomes the elephant keeper, sharing their stories.

After many years and a few more owners, Jenny and Tom embark on their own life together, from stately homes to a squalid menagerie in London.

3/5 for this lovely book. I enjoyed the story, and loved the feeling of what it must have been like for people not knowing anything about these exotic animals.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Kings Mistress - Emma Campion

The Kings Mistress - Emma Campion (2009)

You'd think from this picture that this book was tiny, but no - it was huge!! It took me a week to read, but I did have a busy one full of distractions. I did look forward to diving in before I went to sleep though, which is always the sign of a book I've enjoyed.

In the vein of Phillipa Gregory or Miss Chadwick, I thought that the author did a good story about Alice Salisbury and the life that is mapped out for her by the men in her life, including becoming the Kings Mistress. She was engaging and believable and even though the middle of the book was somewhat drawn out I enjoyed this delving into the world of King Edward III and the life at court.

A solid 3/5.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Love You Man - DVD

I Love You Man - DVD (2009)

This bromance was a bit on the mediocre side. The funny bits didn't seem funny enough and the comedy tried to turn to drama a touch too often. I like Paul Rudd, and Jason Segel wasn't too bad although he always looks a bit like he wears one pair of underwear for the week. The blurb on the back describes it as wildly funny, I thought it a bit mild and not very memorable. 2/5

Friday, February 12, 2010

Truly Madly Deeply

Truly Madly Deeply - Dvd (1991)

Just a couple of points :
  1. Alan Rickman - you could read the phone book and win a Bafta. There is something very saucy about you, your mannerisms. your haughty looks and your dreamy voice. Even in the movies where you have to play a baddy.
  2. What horrid fashion we wore in 1991, trying to look all office like/casual./soccer mum We all ended up looking like somebodies 50 year old mother.
  3. I tried to watch this one before but can remember not watching it all the way through. Now I am really middle aged, I could sit and watch the whole thing and enjoy it. Its story of grief, grieving and finally finding a new life, a new way through.

4/5 - it was even worth missing Greys Anatomy to finish this dvd. I like Greys sometimes, but it all feels a bit high school at the moment. Real doctors and nurses have relationships with people outside of the workplace, and actually spend 95% of their time working, not gossiping. And usually Dr McDreamy, is McArrogant/ McCaughtUpInHisCareer/McMarried too.

PS - I don't know if anyone actually reads this blog. I am actually still reading a book, it's just it's a big one, a real doorstopper, and I am trudging through the last 300 pages so I can attack my book mountain.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Whip It

Whip It (2009)

Occasionally, for my viewing pleasure, I go to a real movie. Today I did, alone in the middle of the day, at the weekend. I usually reserve my alone trips for during the week, but I braved the sad lonely woman alone, coz I felt like it, and I was bored.

I had been meaning to see Whip It for while. Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore and Roller Derby sounded like a good combination, and I loved my roller skates. I spent years rolling around the neighbourhood in my short shorts, and jumping around at the roller discos. I knew that Drew Barrymore was directing, and I had heard some pretty scathing stuff, so I was prepared - I knew we were in B grade territory.

On the plus side, I liked it, I liked the whole roller derby Indie vibe. I enjoyed the whole girl story, with lots of punching and tripping up. At least the chicks didn't look like playboy bunny submissive schoolgirls that so many young girls seem to like at the minute, and the movie wasn't pumped up with American pretty models slash actors.

I was confused by the whole American pageant rubbish, that just seemed a bit cliched to me and although the parents were a bit stereotypical I liked that they had real jobs and lived in a real house. Although how a mom who is working as a postie can afford or justify $800 dresses all the time seemed a bit odd.

So, I may seem a bit biased as I'm going to give it a 3/5, and I might have to look for some roller skates on Trade Me.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Wrestler

The Wrestler - Dvd (2008)

I get that Mickey Rourke did a great job of being a down and out wrestler 'The Ram' in this movie. His life is falling apart and it is dawning on him that his days in the ring are over. I just didn't get all the great reviews, it all just seemed a bit ordinary to me, with a bit too much blood and jumping. 2/5

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak (2005)

I do admit to trying to read this book before, many a year ago. This year though it kept popping up on blogs, and peoples fave end of year books. So I bit the bullet, I coughed up the full dollars and bought it, and then rather than let it become a dust catcher, I actually read it.

So the premise is very smart, and at times touching and sad, as the book is narrated by death, in the second world war. In Germany he encounters Liesel, who at nine is living with a foster family in Munich. We get to know her new friends and family, and see many sides to the death and destruction that surround them.

I really liked the premise, and the characters were good, I could picture them in my mind movie. I just seemed to get bored in the middle, it seemed to flap around. I enjoyed the beginning, but it was the last third of the book that I enjoyed the most. I won't say it is a fave, and would even be hesitant to recommend to anyone, as it may not be to everybodies taste, but definately worth a solid 3/5.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Under the Same Moon - DVD

Under the Same Moon (2007)

I saw this one advertised as a trailer for another dvd I was watching, and even though it seemed a simple story, it was appealing. Carlitos is nine years old and lives in Mexico with his grandmother, while his illegal immagrant mother works in Los Angeles, trying to save her money so she can get a lawyer to get legal.

When his grandmother dies, Carlitos decides to go and find his mother, and so the road trip begins. In Spanish, with subtitles, I liked the gentle telling of this story which really was about love. Love that isn't cheesy and pretensious. 3/5

And please TVNZ/CH 3 please stop the hate crimes that is your movie choices and show us some real movies, not a neverending rotation of Bruce Willis, Indiana Jones and god forbid - Adam Sandler. Not all your audience is 12 year old boys.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hello February

Picture - source unknown
January feels like a lost month to me. What were meant to be hazy summer weekends were often cloudy and dull, which you think would translate to books and movies. However a nasty cold and lingering cough made me feel bad about giving germs to passers by and my concentration seemed to be affected too.
Instead lots of time was spent reading blogs and dreaming of a beautiful armoire, a new rug and new couch.
My promise to myself to stop reserving piles of books has not quite happened, although I have slowed down the numbers. It was getting out of control. I was picking up 6-8 books and dvds a week, and not having time to read them. I wonder how some bloggers manage to read 15-20 books a month, especially those with jobs and kids.
So here's to February - I hope the sunshine finally finds us. I could do with some reading out in the back garden.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Living With the Gift - T J Higgs

Living With the Gift - T J Higgs (2009)

I hate to say I have an obscession with psychics, just more a curiosity that draws me to them. I have only been to one show, and in all honesty my heart was beating outside of my chest as she drew near to the row where I was sitting, and I was part relieved and part disapointed to not be picked.

I love shows like Sensing Murder, and Colin Fry and have seen this girl appear with Colin Fry on a UK murder program. I am never sure how much to believe, but I am certainly entrigued. Most autobiograpies of psychics/mediums are usually along the same line, of being misunderstood, confused and discovering the gift, usually early on. Tracy didn't seem to find out her skills til in her thirties, and only became established after living in a homeless shelter with her two young sons.

So, I continue to question and read. I enjoyed the stories of her life, about growing up, and then her new found career - a 3/5 from me.