Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2 Bodies for the Price of 1 - Stephanie Bond

2 Bodies for the Price of 1 - Stephanie Bond (2007)
Stephanie Bonds hero is Carlotta Wren, who works at Neiman Marcus in Atlanta, and helps move dead bodies in her spare time. Almost 30 and single, but of course all the men in her life are in love with her.
Cheesy cheese, but still I grabbed a few of these books at the library as they seemed to be amusing light reading, which is just what I am in the mood for while having a wee holiday break. Hardly demanding and with a see through plot, I still enjoyed the mindlessness and the wee ending, that did make me want to find out what happens in the next book.
A very harmless 3/5.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Music Monday - Anika Moa - Dreams in My Head

I'm enjoying the tunes of kiwi singer Anika Moa lately. Her voice and sweet tunes evoke summer evenings sitting outside in the sun. Just the thing you need to drag you through the dark and cold winter nights ahead.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Caught - Harlan Coben

Caught - Harlan Coben (2010)

I felt like I was treading on familiar territory with this one, a genre of child molester that is covered in shows like SVU all the time, that the twists didn't really come as a surprise, and the book felt all made up. Like the author had spent too long choosing the names, or describing how hot the moms were.

I don't know, it all felt like a set up for a movie script and I didn't really buy it. The saving grace is that Harlan Cobens style of writing is easy and calm, and you don't have to work too hard to get into one of his books. Normally I like them as they seem clever, and current. This one just felt a bit old and lazy. 2/5

61 Hours - Lee Child

61 Hours - Lee Child (2010)

Jack Reacher is one of my favorite thriller/action characters. Described as 6 foot 5 inches with hands like chickens, he is one ex soldier that is ready for action. The last two books were a bit repetative and dry, where he seemed to walk the same stretches of highway over and over again.

This new book, it built in momentum slowly and with an overwelming sense of impending doom that by the time I got to the ending, I was a bit disapointed with the predictable gun battle, showdown. My sister-in-law told me not to read the last page, which I never do, but that provided another clue to the future of Jack Reacher.

3/5 and I'm hanging out for the next one.


Friday, April 23, 2010


Boy (2010)

Boy is a very Kiwi film. He is 11 years old and wants to show you his interesting world. In 1984, that mainly centres around his father and Michael Jackson. Living on the East coast, and with little money, his world is small but so funny. The first half hour had me, my niece and nephew cracking up, and I just about laughed til I cried.

4/5 - for this little Kiwi classic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Winter in Wartime

Winter in Wartime (2008)
This one snuck by the film festivals and was played in a little out of the way cinema in Wellington. Unfortunately it was in the far theatre up a top of stairs, which was a shame as the show I attended was full of older Dutch Kiwis.
Set at the end of the second world war, Michel is young teenager whose father is the mayor, and his life is carrying on as normal. However a message from a neighbour after an English airman crashes in the forest, changes their lives forever (a cliche I know).
The bleakness of the harsh winter felt chilling, especially as our day was unnaturally warm for this time of year, and the shelter of the air conditioned shelter was warm. I felt sucked into the time period as on the whole, the acting and direction made a convincing period war drama.

Music Tuesday - Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun

Oh my gosh, I love this song so much. The weather has been sunny and warm lately and out walking with my ipod, I have this on the highest of rotations. Sometimes you need a raw natural voice, not the pimped out electronically altered screamers who can't really sing that is pumped out all the time lately.

Monday, April 19, 2010

If I Win Lotto...........

............... I'd buy these two beautiful pictures from MistyMawn. I'd put them in my bedroom to help with restful dreams. I'd have a beautiful house full of artwork.
You can find her wonderful ETSY shop here :

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Power of Half - Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen

The Power of Half - Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen (2010)

Fourteen year old Hannah Salwen has her lightbulb moment when seeing man in a big flash car drive by the homeless man. Realising that if the car driver had a less costly car, the homeless man could have more. Inspired by this revelation, her family discuss how they could do more to help out.

Realising that they live in an overly large house, they could sell it and use half the money to help others out. So essentially this is the book of that plan, as they attempt to do good.

I enjoyed the fact that the family keep up with current events, are well informed, have discussions about more than American Idol and the latest fashions. Those facts alone are admirable. It is also noteworthy that they see the obsession with materialism that is so prevalent these days, and chose to downsize rather than keep wanting bigger, better, more expensive.

So a 3/5 for this book. I sense a sequel will come, telling us about what happens next. I wish I had had such a good idea at 14!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love is the Best Medicine - Nick Trout

Love is the Best Medicine - Nick Trout (2010)

Because I was nerdy enough, and asked the library to order this book, I was lucky to receive it in its virgin condition, without a crease or a folded page corner. My hands, were the first to open and read it, which seems special with a library book.

Nick Trout is a UK trained vet working in the states, who writes about looking after animals. In his latest book, he mainly focuses on two particular dogs, and the lessons he learnt from looking after them and the influence that many of his patients have had. He comes across as compassionate and caring, and with a true love of the dogs, cats and critters in his care. He also seeks to help the fur parent of the patient too, to understand their pain and stress and help them make the best medical decisions for the patient.

A 3/5, I enjoyed the writing style and stories, but I didn't come away from it with any real purls of wisdom.

Grace is Gone

Grace is Gone - DVD (2007)

So continues the John Cusack film festival. It was short and suit,and I feel a bit ambivalent on this one. I watched it on Sunday, and felt a little let down by it.

It was for me a little bit try hallmark movie trying to be indie. A father learns that his wife is killed in Iraq, and tries to deal with the loss and find a way to tell his daughters. We're also going to put him in an average job, in an average house. Buy his clothes at the op shop and decorate the house in such put together goodwill, that the decor glared at me and distracted me from any drama.

Normally talk of death and mothers dying can make me cry at the drop of a hat, but I was strangely unmoved by this little drama trip. 2/5

Monday, April 12, 2010

Raspberry Beret - Music Monday

Raspberry Beret turned up loud on your ipod makes Monday night grocery shopping much more fun. In fact the whole of Best of Prince was a great shopping experience.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Skeleton Justice - Dr Michael Baden Linda Kenney Baden

Skeleton Justice - Dr Michael Baden & Linda Kenney Baden (2009)

I guess these two are well qualified to write in this thriller genre. He is forensic expert and she is a trial attorney. In this novel, their characters have similar professions, and their dog has the same name too.

I don't know if I am just a bit jaded by all the forensic thrillers out there, or there is lack of an original story to tell. The plot in this one was a bit twisted, but by half way there you could connect the dots. It was hard to believe that the two central characters spent half their day racing around New York, trying to solve this one case, and for me I hate the ending where one of the characters encounters the bad guy and becomes a victim. You know, the way every Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs novel seems to end that way now days.

3/5 - it was ok, but nothing new.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Making Rounds with Oscar - David Dosa

Making Rounds with Oscar - David Dosa (2010)

We all know the story, Oscar is the cat at the nursing home, who goes in and sleeps with the residents an hour or two before they die. It has been all over the news and blogosphere in the past year, and I never expected to be surprised by the book.

However, I thought the book was touching and did a great job of avoidng the the cheesiness that it could have become. Dr Dosa, the author is a geriatrician on the unit, in charge of his patients. When the nursing staff and families start mentioning Oscars visits, at first he brushes it off, especially as he is not a cat person.

However, upon further investigation, he starts to ask around, and find out if Oscars predictions are true. By doing that he learns more about his patients and their families. What surprised me in this book, was its honest and caring discussions about end of life care, especially in those patients with advanced dementia, a topic which is often somewhat taboo.

It has to be a 5/5 for me, as I have told several people about this book, and would recommend it to all, especially if you have aging family members or parents. I love that in the last sentance of the afterward, Dr Dosa says that if he has to choose between the ICU and the cat, he will take the cat every time. Me too.

The Soloist - DVD

The Soloist - DVD (2009)

I did consider going to see this one when it played at the cinema, but it is always nice to keep some for watching on dvds especially dramas.

I liked the pared back Robert Downey Jr. who I often find to be a bit too much of a show off, over the top type character, and much prefer him in a quieter place. He plays a journalist who discovers a mentally disturbed chap living on the street who has some talent playing the violin and cello.

I think the mental illness and homelessness was played well, with a sense or realism and without turning it all Disney and having homeless man playing a symphony and winning awards. It looked like their was a struggle in his head and that sleeping rough was dirty and cold and unsafe. If you ever thought of running away to LA without a plan or money, this might be the movie to watch, to get a sense of the streets not being easy to live on.

I tried a year or two of violin lessons when I was 13, I did ok, but realized that I never had the discipline to do really well.

3/5 - it was ok, I wasn't really touched or moved in any way.

The Girls of Room 28 - Hannelore Brenner

The Girls of Room 28 - Hannelore Brenner (2009)

Over 12,000 children were sent to Theresienstadt Internment camp, near Prague between 1942 and 1944. Most were on their way to Auschwitz and only a few hundred of those children survived. In this book ten of them, describe their time in the camp, and the measures taken to keep them alive.

Interesting, especially now as these women reach their 70s and 80s it is important that their stories are told, before they are lost. Especially sad are those who have not told their stories to their own families before now.

I struggled a little bit to keep going once I was a third of the way in, as it was a little repetative, but still admired the work of the author to retell these experiences. 3/5

Friday, April 09, 2010

If I Win Lotto......

I'm going to do a lot of things, but I will be off to get to tickets to this show- oh and the tickets to New York too.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Middle Place - Kelly Corrigan

The Middle Place - Kelly Corrigan (2008)

I don't know where I first read about this book, somewhere on the book blogosphere it must of appeared. The version I received from the library felt crisp and new, and I was quickly enticed into its pages.

Kelly is the mom of two young girls, when at 37 she discovers she has breast cancer. In this memoir she talks about the middle place, the time when she is both still a child of her parents and a parent herself. So once she starts treatment, her special father George is diagnosed with bladder cancer, which she must also cope with long distance.

Honest and still funny, it is really a memoir about relationships and love, with a smattering of cancer. Her voice is open and honest without going all crazy on eating a bijillion carrots and never touching a glass of wine again. Recently I met someone with cancer, a young mother who on her birthday wasn't even going to allow herself any cake or wine. She was on a raw food diet only. If that works for her great, and she has to do whatever it takes to get her through. Personally, I think have some fun, do some things that you enjoy, and if you enjoy food and drink, have some and be happy with it.

So I have to give it a bold 4/5 for being touching and wise.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tuscan Rose - Belinda Alexandra

Tuscan Rose - Belinda Alexandra (2010)

A lazy long Easter weekend with lots of sleep ins was the perfect time to tackle this brick of a book. I like Belinda Alexandras earlier novels, Wild Lavender in particular, and you always know what you are getting with her work.

Rosa is dropped off at the convent in Florence, by a mysterious man, the only clue being a small key that is left in the basket with her. Then as a teenage girl, she is sent to be a governess at a spectacular villa, where she discovers many secrets. Then comes acting, prison, husband, children, lovers, Mussolini, war, Germans, nursing, Switzerland, shooting, hiding, more secrets, discovering who her mother and father were.

In the end it felt a bit unbelievable, I didn't really believe in all the things that Rosa did and happened to her and they felt a bit like the author was too busy trying to tie off the loose ends. A bit mapped out and predictable like many a silly soap opera plot.

Still a 3/5 for this read, as it still would be a good holiday type read, perfect if you are lying in the sun on a nice sandy beach.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Devil's Whore - DVD

The Devil's Whore - DVD (2008)

Set in the time of the English Civil War, this is the story of Angelica Fanshaw whose life is filled with scandal, love and loss. I like me a bit of costume drama, and liked that this one was not too overdone and sumptious. People looked like they didn't have irons and hair straightners.

I enjoyed this historical story set in a time period that I am a bit ignorant about, and therefore even the boring political scenes were justified for explaining to me what was going on between King Charles 1 and Oliver Cromwell.

I saw a quick review on Gooogle, that mentioned that the series was filmed in South Africa, which explains some of the scenery being a bit too dry and dusty for England.

A 3/5. Hardly cheery Easter viewing, but as television was serving up 10 year old repeats, it was good to sit on the couch and watch dvds.

Martian Child

Martian Child - DVD (2007)

Ok, so the John Cusack film festival started off badly. I didn't get to watch Say Anything as it was scratched so badly, I am sure they had chopped their vegetables on the dvd.

This movie, well really only worth a 2/5. Widowed author, who was a weird child himself, decides to adopt the unusual boy Dennis, who thinks he is from Mars. Trouble insues as they adjust to each other, but in the end love wins out. And that, is the whole plot, right there.

John Cusack, well he just always seems to play himself, which somehow works out. I was just wondering though how an author gets such an awesome home. It didn't really seem to be a place he would buy, somehow I felt the decor and the design just didn't fit with a nerdy author, maybe all the nerds I know live in a bit more clutter and chaos.

Still this beats Adam Sandler on the box again - grrrrrrr!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Alice In Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

I hadn't really wanted to see Alice, it all seemed a bit over hyped to me, and I'm not a big fan of CGI overblowness. But the cool, grey rainy day enticed me into the cinema.

I liked Alice, young Aussie Mia was refreshing and not too cheesy as the niave Alice. I loved the voices of the characters, but found the CGI a bit distracting, especially with the changing perspectives of sizes of the characters. It was a bit of a visual feast, which was good as the story seemed a bit muddled. I guess that that is true of all the Alice stories, but I found it hard to follow in the first half, and can only wonder what the five year old sitting next to me thought.

So I can only summon a 3/5 for Tim Burtons latest.

Dr Oz

The Dr Oz show has recently started being played on NZ TV, and although at 9am in the morning the magic of the DVR means I have the whole weeks worth to watch every evening. The news is so bad and repetitive that instead, I now watch the medical show.

The last show before Easter was one where the Dr Oz show has a free clinic in Houston. I seldom feel close to tears watching such shows, but was shocked by the people who were denied health care attending. The last chap they profiled with advanced skin cancer of his lip was sad, as intervention much earlier would have such a deformity that will require radical surgery and treatment to fix.

Our health care system is by no means perfect, but you would never be denied life saving treatments here.

Dr Oz, you did good.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rediscovering Intrepid Journeys 4

Rediscovering Intrepid Journeys 4 - DVD (2009)
Well my plans to start my John Cusack film fest have been a bit twarted this Easter weekend. 1408 wasn't available at the library, and the Say Anything dvd wouldn't play properly. The television selection was so pitiful, that I resorted to watching Bgrade NZ celebrities moan and whine about their Intrepid Journeys in various locations around the globe.
Actually, most of them were ok, it was just that when they weren't happy, it got a lot of air time. It doesn't make me want to rush out and buy a backpack anyway, I'm getting too old and crusty to do that.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter Soundtrack

On the stereo this weekend, Madeleine Peyroux. I've bought one of her cds and borrowed another three from the library, so I will be loading up my ipod this weekend. In fact a new ipod may have to be organised, as this one is almost full. I think I'm liking the idea of a 16G purple one.

The Lady and the Poet - Maeve Haran

The Lady and the Poet - Maeve Haran (2009)
I like a good period drama and historical novel, and in this book I think Maeve Haran takes the things I like best, and combines them. I like that it was based on real people, the poet John Donne and his wife Ann More and tells us how they met and fell in love.
Ann who meets the poet, has been matched by her father to another older more stable man, and she must fight against his wishes in order to stay with her true love. When you think back to the time, in the 1600s, it must have taken a bit of stubbornness to ignore your fathers wishes, in a time when women were forced to do their families bidding.
So a solid 4/5 for this one.
Have a happy Easter, I have a stack of housework to do, some new cds to play, some dvds hired and lots of things to keep me busy for the four days ahead.