Saturday, December 31, 2011


Melancholia (2011)

So the last night of the year, and it has rained more or less none stop for 48 hours.  All the New Years Eve celebrations in Wellington on the harbour front have been cancelled, including the fireworks.  So me and my bestie escaped to an afternoon movie, and then a overpriced quick dinner in town.

Ahhh Melancholia - it descibes the main mood of Kirsten Dunst and the name of a planet, set for collision with the earth. 

In a nutshell - Kirsten has luminous skin, a very pretty wedding dress, a lovely brother in law - hello Kiefer, a husband who takes his shirt off a lot in True Blood, a mother who needs to be shot, an attitude problem, and a long long wedding party where there are few smiles.  Then she becomes cattatonic, goes to her sisters house, mopes around, mopes on the patio, mopes in the garden, rides a horse, gets naked on the riverbank, mopes some more and then collects some sticks.

2/5 - not sure why it made a lot of the years top ten - it failed to move me, and was a bit boring and too long but was stylish  to look at.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)

So imbetween the days of working, it has meant to be a read-a-thon for me, and now the weather has packed up, curling up with a book is a good way to spend the afternoon. 

The Language of Flowers is the story of Victoria Jones.  Bought up as a ward of the state she finds herself at 10 years old being placed with Elizabeth, who lives on a vineyard and  teaches the damaged Victoria the beauty of flowers and the Victorian meaning of their use. 

Alternated between the stories of her growing up, we get to meet the older Victoria who at 18, is released into the community to find her own way.  I think this is the story I most struggled with, as I found the character a bit Woe is Me, who wanted to continue playing a victim and her reconnection with people in her past for me felt a bit too convenient.  It did make me want to give up work and find a florist, who could afford to give me hundreds of dollars every week.  I never quite believed in Victoria, and found her a bit cold and distant, and wondered why all these other characters were drawn to her.

Still, it was a nicely told story and the idea was good.  We all like a bit of Jane Eyre, an unloved girl who finds love.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daughters of Rome - Kate Quinn

Daughters of Rome - Kate Quinn (2011)

I really loved Kate Quinns first novel Mistress of Rome, and I was looking forward to this one.  So much in fact, that I saved it up as my Christmas read, to sit in the sun and relax reading it. Don't laugh - my dad did the same thing at his place, choose a special book to read in the holidays.

For me, the story was a bit hard to get into at the beginning, but once started I enjoyed reading about the two sisters and their cousins in the year of the four emperors.  I like the melding of real and imaginary characters, it makes you feel a bit less guilty about reading about randy centurions if you learn a little history.

So a 3/5 from me, and I am already waiting for her next book.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Say Her Name - Francisco Goldman

Say Her Name - Francisco Goldman (2011)

Secretly I am a book caresser, which is not as creepy as it sounds.  I promise there won't be a CSI show about some crazy sexual fetish.  It is just that when I find a book that I want to read, everytime I go into a bookshop I stop and pick up the book and reread the cover and dream of owning it and reading it.  Then I go to the library website and either reserve it, or recommend it as a book to buy.  I seldom buy books, as frankly  they are luxury items and out of my budget now. 

This was one of those books that I had looked at and touched for a couple of months before the library bought it.  I was entranced by the blurb, a novel/memoir of a husband who has lost his young wife.  Francisco Goldman is an author and lecturer who meets a student Aura at a function, forms a relationship and eventually they marry.  Then tragically, she dies after and accident in Mexico. 

This book, is really a love letter to his wife, exploring his memories and her journals and documenting their meetings, the courtship and their years together.  The sense of grief is almost overwelming and by the middle of the novel, I almost felt like I couldn't continue as the sadness and depression was palpable.  It was also interesting to leave the death until the end, so you enter the book, not quite sure of what has happened.

Like many in this genre of books, I am reluctant to say that I enjoyed the book.  It feels like you are reaching in the glimpsing the authors heart, their raw grief and pain and they're not the most cheery seasonal reading.  Still it is worth a 3/5 - a moving love story.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The End of the Wasp Season - Denise Mina

The End of the Wasp Season - Denise Mina (2011)

This is the first Denise Mina crime novel that I have read, and already I feel I'll be checking out more of her books.  I've already recommended her to my sister in law who is always wanting to hear recommendations of new authors that I have discovered.

There is a murder in Glasgow, starting  an investigation headed by Detective Inspector Alex Morrow and her team.  I liked the story, it clicked along taking several turns which shows class.  I am often disappointed by many crime and thriller novels lately, as they dissolve into predictable CSI type drama - all flash with no substance.  I am beginning to loath a story where the main investigator/detective/doctor is abducted by the serial killer/murderer.  It comes across as lazy writing, unoriginal and totally unnecessary.

So a 4/5 - not perfect, but certainly interesting story and characters.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Annie Leibovitz - At Work

Annie Leibovitz - At Work (2008)

I had been to see an exhibition of Annie Leibovitzs work both here at Te Papa and in London.  Her iconic pictures are so well known, that it was always a surprise to see one of a celebrity that I hadn't seen before.  I guess she has been taking photos since I was born, so there were quite a few that I didn't recognise.

I couldn't get over the feeling, that for much of the work that she was trying to justify that her work was hard - not just simple point and shoot sessions.  You can see the work involved and that for many of the sissions there were days of planning and set up.  Yet, I am sure for most of us, we would think that it would be a fantastic job to take photos all day.  In fact I do take photos, x-ray pictures all day  every day, but my clients are not celebs and most are not willing.  I also don't get huge rolls of cash for doing what I do.

I liked to learn the back story behind the photos, and each section was just the right size, not too long and drawn out.  3/5

Friday, December 16, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children -

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs (2011)

I finished this one this morning, blow drying my hair, which was good as it was due back at the library today.  I am sure I am an old fashioned blogger, borrowing my stash from the local library.  Unfortunately I have neither the space nor funds to be able to buy books, but I enjoy being able to borrow so many new books for minimal cost.

I almost gave up on it earlier in the week when I started it, as it wasn't really my cup of tea.  16 year old Jacob is having trouble with his family and then witnesses the tragic death of his grandfather.  Throughout his life his grandfather had told him the stories of lots of unusual children and shown him lots of odd photographs.

So after the death, Jakob and his father travel to rural Wales  for  a spot of birdwatching and Jakob looks up the children's home where his grandfather was raised.  Here he meets the peculiar children and learns about his grandfathers stories.

For me it was just ok, it seemed to miss having a real magic moment.  3/5

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Linda McCartney A Life in Photographs - Annie Leibovitz

Linda McCartney A Life in Photographs - Annie Leibovitz (2011)

First off, if you do get this book it will cost you a fortune to get it sent, and you may need a big bag if like me you carry it home from the library (with two bags of shopping as well).  It's huge, a giant of a book.

So Linda married Paul, and sung in a band, and had a bundle of cute kids and everybody looks wonderful when they are young. It seems funny to me that after decades of the seventies looking dorky, suddenly in 2011 everything looks cool, even the cheap polyester clothes and bedraggled hair looks all hip and chilled out. Maybe now cos all the millionaires, rockstars and wannabes are all tacky and flashy with diamonds, designer clothes, ten thousand dollar handbags and girls  looking like porn stars.  In the seventies though all the boys and girls look stylie and like they have just jumped out of bed.

So a lovely book to look at, it makes you want to pick up a camera and a couple of Beatles. 4/5

The Survival of the Soul - Lisa Williams

The Survival of the Soul - Lisa Williams (2011)

I have seen Lisa Williams show when it airs on tv here and I enjoy the readings she does for people.   She seems to radiate warmth and enjoy being able to provide comfort for her clients, and looks like she'd be cheeky in her off hours and enjoy a tipple and a big laugh.

I think though I am just about reaching maximum saturation with the medium/psychic books.  I know that all the celebs choose to live on the coast in Hawaii or somewhere sunny.  That when I die Mum, the grandparents and cats will rush out to greet me, then I'll get to see a youtube version of my life before I get to visit lots of rooms and sort my soul out.  Then I'll get to pick my own pad, and chill out til the rest of the gang gets there.  Sounds good to me.

So Lisas book, it was interesting, but nothing too new or surprising after all the similar books I have read this year. I did like her explanation of people who die suddenly, in an accident when the soul just 'pops' out of the body, leaving the person to feel no pain on passing.  I like that idea, it settles my mind.  Worthy of a 3/5.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (2011)

So this one has been the  darling of the book bloggers lately, and after a week of plowing through it I finally finished.  Erin Morgenstern is a supremely talented author, creating an amazing circus of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Appearing overnight at venues throughout the world, the black and white tents have amazing shows, each described in wonderful spooky detail.  At the centre of the story is the competition between the illusionists Celia and  Marco, who have both been guided since their childhood to perform in the circus.

The story for me looped around and I was tempted to give up in the beginning several times.  I am not a great lover of the fantasy genre, and I felt it was bordering a little on being too much for me.  I like a bit more narrative and plot.  I felt like the author was playing a game of keeping secrets about the story and I wanted to be let in more.  For that I have to give it a 3/5.

Still it was a nice distraction on some cool  crisp spring nights, tucked up under the duvet.  TV still sucks at the moment, and now with constant reruns of crappy Adam Sandler movies, I am more content with my pile of books. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Water For Elephants

Water For Elephants  (2011)

I really enjoyed this book after reading it earlier in the year, and regretted that I had waited so long to read it, as it was a treasure.  The movie adaption, well I had heard various things about it.  At the time it played in the cinema, I seemed to be working and never found an evening to go and see it, so I was glad to find it out on DVD so soon.

I found the movie beautiful, the scenes of 20s circus life in American small towns was well done and believable.  I was distratcted somewhat by Robert Pattinson, and the makeup they kept insisting on putting on him.  Reece didn't seem quite right for her character, the hair and costumes were good but she seemed a bit wooden, and there was very little chemistry between the love interests, very few lingering looks, secret smiles.

Still, once it comes down in price I am sure I will secure a copy to have and watch again at home.


Afterlives of the Rich and Famous - Sylvia Browne

Afterlives of the Rich and Famous - Sylvia Browne (2011)

I often enjoy the secret pleasure of psychics memoirs or books of the afterlife and have read a few of Sylvia Brownes ones.  They intrige me and on the whole are pretty short and sweet.  Here Sylvia Browne talks about what happened to many of the worlds most famous celebs after they died.  Lady Di,Dean Martin, Gregory Peck, Abraham Lincoln, Elvis, John Belushi, Anna Nicole Smith and of course Michael Jackson.

I liked that they all seemed to get to live in a little house by themselves and have little jobs to do.  Some look after animals, or people, some do research in fields that interest them.  I am not sure how much I believe, but I like the idea of all that Sylvia Browne talks about.  I always like to think that my mum and all the old pets will be there to greet me when I die. 


Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Train in Winter - Caroline Moorehead

A Train in Winter - Caroline Moorehead (2011)

Possibly not the best of books to read over the holidays, it was a truely compelling read that bought me to tears several times.  In January 1943, 230 French woman were sent on a train from Paris to Auschwitz.  All were arrested by the Germans for helping the resistance, from simply writing in support of France in a letter, to writing a slogan on a wall.  We get to hear their stories, the families that they leave behind.

It is hard to comprehend the brutality of living in the camps, and amazing that more than a handful survived to return to France.  Many died agonising and tragic deaths, of startvation, Typhus, thirst, being beaten or sent to the gas chambers.  It is almost too hard to read, to understand what was witnessed, to believe that it happened only seventy years ago.

Of the 230, 42 returned and by the time the author starts writing the book only nine still survive.  She follows their stories and it is moving stuff.  It is a 4/5 for this important story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Contagion (2011)

Make sure you go to this movie when you are free of the flu, coughs or sneezes as you will scare the other patrons.  Basically the tale of a pandemic, this one is stylishly filmed, well written and not overly dramatic.  I liked its pared down style, although Jude Law with his Aussie/English/Irish crazy accent and funny tooth was a bit cheesy,  Gwenyth does a good seizure and Kate looks good even without any botox and a series of frumpy jumpers.

Matt Damon again plays a serious role, a dad trying to save his daughter from being infected which gave the story a personal touch, and made it seem realistic.  So if you never thought of slathering yourself with antiseptic hand wipe before you saw this movie, you might want to stock up on the way in.  Oh and a few pair of gloves as well might come in handy, and a face mask.  4/5


Hereafter - DVD (2010)

This movie entwines three stories, a French journalist who survives an amazingly filmed Tsunami, a London schoolboy who loses his brother and a psychic who doesn't want to use his gift.  Matt Damon looks disturbed for most of the movie, although I do enjoy seeing him in more serious roles as opposed to running around avoiding being shot.

I do admit to being a bit lost by the point of the story, I would have liked to see more of the psychic and schoolboy, and less of the boring journalist story which had subtitles.  2/5

Two Kisses For Maddy - Matthew Logelin

Two Kisses For Maddy - Matthew Logelin (2011)

I first heard Matthews story on either the Ellen or Oprah show, but basically Matthew and his high school girlfriend Liz were in love and spent many years together travelling the world.  When they settled down, got married and bought a house, the next step was to get pregnant.  However the pregnancy was difficult for Liz and due to complications, Matthew is left with a newborn daughter to raise.

With the help of family, friends and strangers all over the world, Matthew started a blog about bringing up his daughter alone.  Then, as all good bloggers find out, they get a book deal and become even more famous.

A good sentimental memoir, of the kind that feels like a guilty secret - I did enjoy it and thought it worthy of a 3/5.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Dovekeepers - Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers - Alice Hoffman (2011)

This is one of the few books that I have read recently that I haven't wanted to end, and could have carried on reading more chapters.  Four women, all of whom arrive in the Jewish stronghold of Masada by different means.  There they are set to work in the dovecoates, one of the lowliest jobs, and it is there that we learn the stories of how they arrived there with their families.  We are also with them when the Roman armies arrive, thousands strong with thousands of Jews who have been enslaved by them.  Realising their fate, choices must be made.

So hard to describe, but I loved every bit of this book, and am happy to give it a 5/5.  I am sure that it won't be to everybodies taste, but I can be sure that with only a month left in this year, that it will be my favorite book of 2011.

Let Me In

Let Me In - DVD (2010)

I'm feeling guilty that I needed a wee blogging break, and now have lots to catch up on.  I did see this movie two weeks ago, and have only got around to posting about it now.  I don't think that anyone is reading the blog anyways.

So, this is the story of a young bullied teenager who realises that there are strange happenings going on around his apartment complex, and he realises that it maybe something to do with the girl who moved in next door.  I liked that the movie focused on the kids, with only a little adult input and that it took quite a while to actually figure out what was happening, rather than being the usual predictable bable.

I did have to tell my 13 year old nephew that he may have to come outside with me to put the rubbish out, and at one stage I wasn't sure I wanted to sleep alone, he might have to camp on the floor of my room.  But I was ok, by the end I wasn't scared anymore.  Wouldn't be good for my besties though, cos they are screamers when there is any horror movie on.  4/5 - just because it is more memorable than most I have seen all year.


So I gave in this week and bought myself a kindle.  I got the new version and it didn't take too long to figure it out.  It's light and small and will be great to fit into my bag and take to work.  I do get a bit sick of lugging a big book in every day, although I do tend to prefer only reading one book at a time so we will have to see how that goes.  After a weekend travelling with a huge book, I can see this will be much easier.

So lots of bonuses, however I did discover a few annoying things.  In NZ we are stuck with only being able to buy off Amazon. com.  I much prefer Amazon UK, as they have good book deals, for example a daily deal with a best seller for only 99p.   The Pacific/Asia customers seem to be being ripped off with the book prices for kindle which I fail to understand, as it is not as though we are actually buying anything different than US/UK customers.  For example one book I saw on the UK site was 99p, and  in the US they were being offered it a $2, but the cheapest I could get it for was $8, which sucks.

Can I see it replacing my library books - no.  I still continue to use the libraries almost free service, as I really can't afford to buy books all the time.  In the past 2 years I have bought only five books, and I enjoy that I can get loads of new books so quickly at the local library, so that will be my main supplier.  However for weekends away and holidays it will be nice not to have to jam a huge tome in my satchel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tourist

The Tourist - DVD (2010)

All I could think was that Miss Jolie is in great need of eating some carbs and that the makeup artist must have got a bulk deal on some cheap eyeliner, oh and found a book of 1960s hairstyles.  Old Johnnie boy was a bit wooden, and looked like he had a bit of a forced accent.  Still they went to Venice, it was pretty but I'm not so fussed with the boat chases and gun fights, so a 2/5 from me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Secrets of Eden - Chris Bohjalian

Secrets of Eden - Chris Bohjalian (2010)

Chris Bohjalian is one of those authors who are consistently entertaining, and when I opened the book and read the first page I was immediately stuck into the story, which I love.  I want to be in love in page one, not page twenty or one hundred. 

Reverend Steven Drew begins the story by telling us how a local girl is orphaned after her mother and father are killed in a murder suicide.  This begins to make him question his faith, and life changes for him.  I would have preferred to follow one narrator throughout the story rather than switching between the pastor, the lawyer and the daughter, I found it somewhat distracting, especially as I am somewhat put off by lawyer genre books, just not my thing.

It did make me laugh reading the book group questions at the end of the book, it made me think I hadn't understood the book at all, it was like they were reading secret messages in the book, or reading it backwards like playing records the wrong way round.

Anyways, so a 3/5 for me, and a good sick bed read.

Sliding Into Home - Kendra Wilkinson

Sliding Into Home - Kendra Wilkinson (2010)

It has been a secret pleasure when at my brothers house, or when I house sat last summer to sit and watch sky TV (I only have poor peoples tv - no cable), and catch up on marathon sessions of Kendra, the Kardashians, 16 and Pregnant and all the other quality reality tv.  Otherwise I never see it.  I had glanced at this book at the Warehouse when I visited and was surprised to see it sitting at the library, I decided to check it out.

Now I wouldn't recommend you buy it for your 15 year old to read, as Miss Kendra was a bit of a naughty girl.  Skipping school to take drugs, lots of underage sex, becoming a stripper and then moving into the Playboy Mansion with Hef, all before she was twenty.  Still it is was an interesting journey and in this world of pseudo celebrities she has certainly turned her life 360, getting married and becoming a mother, and living a domestic life. 

So I give it a 3/5 - more entertaining than I thought it would be.

Radioactive - Lauren Redniss

Radioactive - Lauren Redniss (2011)

It is hard to explain the beauty of this unusual book, without seeing it.  I chanced upon it at the Unity bookshop here in Wellington, and then went and searched it out in the library catalogue.  It tells the story of Marie and Pierre Curie, their work and life together.  The star of the show though is the lovely handwritten typography and original illustrations, part graphic novel, that somehow makes the blend of romantic story and physics work together harmoniously.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I Love Kelly Rae Roberts, and was lucky to be able to buy an original from her a couple of years ago.  I have a box full of craft papers and art supplies, and need some inspiration to start playing.  They have sat in their box for the past year - I have lost my craft mojo, and I'd like it back.

So, after some spring cleaning, and I can get to my desk in the spare room, I hope to be able to start fiddling around and do some pictures.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Florence Flash Mob

I know I am late to liking Florence & the Machine, but it's getting a lot of play on my ipod lately.  I can't ever remember seeing my mum and dad ever dancing - isn't that sad.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

What an amazing video.  I saw this on tonight when I get home.  I'm off to bed, and hope I dream of birds tonight.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I Believe I Can Fly

I Believe I can Fly ( flight of the frenchies). Trailer from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

Wow - I'm scared of heights, so it might not be the best hobby for me, but this is an amazing film coming out on 11.11.11.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Downton Dollhouse

Check it out, these girls have recreated Downton Abbey in their dollhouse - thus Downton Dollhouse.  So funny!!


Tv is seldom something to write about, but there is nothing like finding good shows buried at 11pm.  After watching a repeat of Happy Endings, which I only discovered half way through the series, I came across Shameless.  I hear it is a US remake of a UK series, but still it was good.  A father who is an alcoholic with a gang of kids, who are more or less bringing themselves up.  There was a fair amount of sex and drugs, so I guess that was why it was hidden at late o'clock, and this is only the first episode - so we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Silent Girl - Tess Gerritsen

The Silent Girl - Tess Gerritsen (2011)

More missing girls, an murder from the 1970s that doesn't seem right, Chinese fables, and a mystery character floating around with an ancient sword.  All lead to the solving of several mysteries and my all time most hated thriller ending, when the lead detective is abducted by evil  murderer.  I always find that with Tess Gerritsens characters Dr Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, that I get them confused, but I enjoy the backstory of their families and relationships.   Still, it was a fun book to read in the sun while ignoring the weeding and washing - 3/5.

No Strings Attatched

No Strings Attatched - DVD (2011)

Oh no, another Dromedy - you know, it is almost a comedy, but sort of tries to be a drama and sucks at both.  Seriously who writes this rubbish?   Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher are both super attractive folks, neither of which would be stuck for dates in any real world.  The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this is a propaganda film made  by twenty year old guys - to encourage girls to be more loose, because you know, Natalies character only wants lots of lots of sex, and that got her Ashton in the end.  They make him such a sap too, I mean guys like him know that they are magnets, and they don't sit around moping about the girl who got away.

It seems that rom com writers need a kick up the backside from the sex and the city team (the series - NOT the movies).  If you are going to make it funny, keep it funny, don't do the serious weepy side - please.  So a big 1/5 for me.  That means borrow this DVD, don't buy it or pay for it on itunes or at the store.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz - Denis Avey

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz - Denis Avey (2011)

I went to pick this one up at the local library, and ran into one of my friends who did suggest that this may not be the book to break into on the day, which is true.  I always do like a memoir and I had read about this in blogland.

We get to hear about Denis growing up before war intervened, and his service in North Africa.  As a prisoner of war he found himself working in a factory in Poland alongside concentration camp inmates from Auschwitz.  Wanting to see conditions for himself, on two separate occasions he swaps uniforms with a prisoner and is smuggled inside.  Witnessing the terrible conditions of the prisoners, when he returns to the UK, he never speaks of his ordeal with friends and family, and tries to forget the horrors that he has seen.

Now in his ninties, he realizes that he has the opportunity to speak up for all those that had died, and writes his memoirs which gained considerable publicity in the UK.  For me the book was very readable and another reminder of the craziness of war.  4/5

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Love & Other Drugs

Love & Other Drugs - DVD (2010)

2011 is officially the year that I have had the most bugs ever, and this week I am featuring cold/flu number six in a row.  Not it has crept to my sinuses leaving me barely half a nostril to breathe with, making me scared to sleep in case my respiratory system shuts down entirely overnight, and I am eaten by my cat - thus it is why at 1.50am I am sitting in the lounge thinking about this DVD.

I had splurged it up at the library lately, taking out a whole five dvds in a fortnight, which nearly blows the entertainment budget for the year, such is a lowly paid hospital workers excitement.  I'd seen this one advertised last year, but little can now entice me into the mainstream movie palace, which seems to pander to the under thirties, and smells of teenage hormones, unwashed skinny jeans and hamburgers.  These ones I save up for DVD watching with the girl pals, or like this week, home alone on the couch.

I don't have a lot to say about the movie.  Truly I can see a pile of Hollywood producers smugly thinking that they would make a movie, about the drug explosion of Viagra, with a sleazy male drug rep, an arty/quirky girl love interest with good hair, better throw in a coffee house, ohhh and some plain looking people as relatives/neighbours/co-workers, show a lot of sex (not usually of plain people though, only the good looking ones), have some tears,and have a happy ending (true love of course).

So for that I would give it a 1/5 , but I upped it to a 2/5 - just for Jake, cos he's a hottie.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Affair - Lee Child

The Affair - Lee Child (2011)

Awww Jack Reacher, I swore that if you ended up in another small town walking this way and that way, that we would have to break up for good.  I mean Boyfriend, we know that it would be a cheaper movie to make, but can't you just go to a city every now and again?  The only saving grace that you went to this small town in 1997, and you were still in uniform, sort of, and so I enjoyed that little distraction.  Your author kept mentioning in the last two books about the incidence in your past that ended up with your discharge, so it was nice to find out what you did.

Now back to the Tom Cruise issue - Big NO!!  He is all wrong, too old and too little.  I am thinking you would be more Sam Worthington, big and broody.  If they make a movie and do it wrong it will be all over again Jack Reacher, it's feeling like you're skating on thin ice.

So, back to the book.  It was an ok read - Lee Child is a good author, with great flow, punchy smart and intelligent dialogue and characters and I am sure I won't be able to think of a big train passing the same way again.  I am however, as you can tell still peeved that he seems to have spent the last four books wandering around small derelict towns walking up and down tarmac, and for that I can only offer you a 3/5.


Unknown - DVD (2011)

Awww Liam Neeson, it was nice to see you roaming around looking concerned, it seems to be what you do best in this and most of the movies  you have been in lately.  Arriving at a hotel for a conference, he realises his briefcase is missing and returns to the airport to retrieve it.  On route, a car accidents sends him spinning into the river with a head injury and returning to the hotel, neither his wife nor colleagues recognise him.  So in trying to find out who the impostor is pretending to be him, he gets chased by lots of guys with guns and does a lot of  dangerous driving.

I was especially impressed that this tall fellow keeps finding just the right fit of clothes, every time his own outfits get torn up.  Awesome.  By the end I had kind of lost interest in the plot and story and fast forwarded to the end.  I'm a bit over the He was a hitman but didn't know it scenario - time for another theme Hollywood.  2/5

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Dugard

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Dugard (2011)

It is hard to encompass the emotions I feel about this book, it's pretty brutal and in parts very graphic.  Jaycee Dugard is the girl, who at eleven years old was snatched off the street, by a husband and wife in the US.  She was kept hostage, and used as a sexual slave for 19 years, before some suspiscious authorities challenged her prescence and were able to reunite her with her family.  By this time, she was also the mother of two teenage girls herself.

In this book, she tells her own story, which even though in parts it jumps in time, it really gives it an honest voice.  One can only imagine how a scared little girl abused and isolated, who finds herself trying to befriend her abductor must cope as the years  pass. 

It certainly confirms my belief that anyone who participates in child buse or pornography should be punished to the highest degree.  The wife who assisted her husband in abducting a child, and then stood by while he continued to abuse her, what is wrong with the woman?  To carry on going to work every day, knowing what is happening at home - who could do that?

I hope that Jaycee and her girls are able to have a normal life now, to feel safe and feel some normal life with their family.  4/5 as the story will stick with me for some time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Trip

The Trip (2011)

Joining two middle aged actors on an eating tour of some fancy British restaurants, in scenic countryside locations, was a good way to spend a cloudy afternoon.  The impressions got a bit boring, and the sleezy one night stands of Steve Coogan were enough to put you off all that appertizing food.  We left feeling like we should be dining on scallops, roast lamb and a wonderful looking chocolate dessert.

Instead, we dined at cheap Thai food, with yummy Beef special noodles, mmmm tasty.  The clouds had lifted, and it had turned into the most perfect spring evening, the likes of which we haven't seen in months.

So, I wouldn't rush out to see this one, it is the little filler of the film festivals, or the discovery on some arthouse spot on TV at 3am.  2.5/5.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Battle Los Angeles

Battle Los Angeles - DVD (2011)

I always start ones like these by saying I am absolutely positively sure that I am not the intended audience for this movie, I am way out of their demographic I am sure.  I am not sure if this one started as a video game, or was intended to sell lots of shooting games, but there was a lot of shooting.

Aliens, come with guns to attack all the major cities in the world to take over.  Luckily for us, Aaron Eckhart is about to retire, but takes on this mission to save the world.  After several crying children, and a spunky female vetenarian are saved, we get lots more shooting and car crashes.  If we didn't have Aaron running around in a uniform looking concerned, I doubt I would have finished this one.  2/5

The Collaborator - Margaret Leroy

The Collaborator - Margaret Leroy (2011)

It is June 1940, and Vivienne de la Mare is living in Geurnsey with her elderly mother in-law, and two young daughters.  Her husband is fighting, and she must choose whether to stay or to go, when her future is decided by the arrival of the Germans.

It is hard to write more without giving the whole story away, but Vivienne gets  tested when  a group of Germans move into the deserted house next door. 

This is one my favorite eras to read about if done well, and on the whole this book was able to perform for me, and rainy days meant that I was able to sit in bed and finish it off late into the night.  4/5

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre - Movie (2011)

I was glad I finally dragged myself down to the movie theatre to see this one, you might know that I loves me a good period drama.  Sometimes sitting in the dark you can absorb yourself in the story, especially when there are only four of you in the cinema on a cloudy morning.

I loved the movie from beginning to end, especially as I hadn't read the story or seen it  for ages, so for me it seemed fresh.  I was impressed by the fashion and makeup that wasn't overdone like so many productions.  The clothes looked like they had been lived in, and the hair and makeup was subtle and looked period appropriate.

The only criticism would be a little bit of a lack of chemistry between Jane and Mr Rochester, no sneaky glances, but that may be a reflection of the times and that our idea of romance has changed. since the 1840s.  How a girl with no love given to her in her first 19 years,  was able to find herself a true love, was shown clearly in this movie, and it made me smile, the story seemed complete.

I guess again, that this is a chick flick, that the men would be bored.  I loved the gloominess of it all, the Gothic look of a dark home lit by candles, with dark lanes and moody moors.  Brilliant.  Therefore for me - it is 5/5 for I know I will watch it over and over.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go - DVD (2010)

I was at the library this aftenoon, grabbing my six reserves, already including two DVDs to watch when I saw that Never Let Me Go on the shelves.  I like Kiera Knieghtly, she always adds a bit of class to a movie, and even though I knew nothing more about the story , it seemed like it would be the one for my birthday night.

It is hard to describe without giving it all away, but Ruth, Kathy and Tommy are growing up in a boarding school together where their friendships are challenged by the news about their futures.  We meet them  a few years later, when circumstances force them to face their past.  Beautifully shot and gentle, I did get a few tears in my eyes at the end, so not really a happy birthday movie choice, but worthy of a 4/5.  Maybe one that only the girls will love though.

Etsy Love

I love this candle box I found on ETSY tonight at  I love the box, but the photo with the cat inside did make me smile.  He looks like he is doing a serious job of selling it.  If postage wasn't so expensive it would be mine.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Rebound

The Rebound - DVD (2009)

I don't often get to the cinema lately, so the benefit of this is that going to the DVD store means that there are many more choices.  I must also admit to actually buying a stack of DVDs recently as they were only $10 each and a few chick flicks will be lent to all of my friends.

This one, I didn't expect much, but actually I enjoyed it.  Not really a movie for the boys,  it's a girl story of Sady who is divorced, and heads to live in New York with the kids.  Needing child care she asks the cute boy working downstairs, who ends up taking over nanny duties.  After a brief fling she decides he is too young and they go their seperate ways, and you can guess how it ends.

Even being predictable I still thought it was sweet and worth a 3.5/5.  The only thing was I was distracted by Catherine Zeta- Jones, who was less annoying than usual, but I wonder if that was because of all the botox?  I liked too, that the kids were smart and not Hollywood cheesy and annoying.

Sanctus - Simon Toyne

Sanctus - Simon Toyne (2011)

So, I read the blurb at the library, but was too tight to pay the $4 for a week fee, and booked it out for the $2 for a month fee, which was good as I have the library mountain perched next to my bed.  Once I started the book though, I was initially a bit turned off by the authors note which mentions this is the first of a triliogy which is always risky.  Often the first book then can't stand alone and always ends up with an unfinished story and a quick unresolved ending.

The story itself is in the Dan Brown Genre, you know the characters rush around trying to solve the mystery, while the reader is educated in history or in this case, religious history with a biblical twist. Liv Adamsen rushes to Ruin in Turkey, where a priest with unusual scars is found at the bottom of the citadel after a public dive from a huge height.  She is not the only one trying to find out the truth, both about the death and the mystical order which are protecting one of the worlds great secrets.

I enjoyed the writing and the pace of the story which thankfully didn't have too many car chases and shoot outs, and it was a credit to the author that the main character was a well written female who wasn't a cliched cup cake baker.  So I'll be waiting for the second book - 4/5.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Secretly in my head I know that I could be a great interior designer.  I know I'd be good spending other peoples money.  Too much watching Million Dollar Designer in the past fortnight actually.  The designers are hilarious, but truly mostly their interiors are tacky and over the top fugly.

 They have forgotten to be simple, to pare back, to make it calm.  This one I love, I found it on the interwebs, source unknown sorry.  It looks the perfect  spring spot to curl up and read a book.

Madame Tussaud - Michelle Moran

Madame Tussaud - Michelle Moran (2011)

Let me begin by saying, that I am a huge Michelle Moran fan and have adored her earlier books about Egypt.  So glad that she stayed away from the Tudors and all the queens and kings that have been a bit overdone in most historical fiction, and made her new book about Madame Tussaud.  I didn't know anything other than she must have liked wax, so for me it was all pretty much a revelation about her involvement with Marie Antoinette and the French revolution.

I did admit to being a bit bored by the majority of the political stuff, that may well be why I only got 52% in my history exam at school (it was all about the politics), and somehow the book did feel a bit like the beginning and middle part were a bit drawn out and the final quarter was a bit rushed.  It almost felt like it was going to end, and we would have to wait for the second book as the final two thirds of her life was condensed into one tiny final chapter.

Still it was very readable, and I was drawn in from the first page and I love a book that is easy to get lost it and I eagerly await the next adventure Michelle takes us on.  4/5

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hanging Hill - Mo Hayder

Hanging Hill - Mo Hayder (2011)

So, last time at the library I had to say - Hi - my name is Julie and I have a problem.  You see I have a pile of twenty books now piled on my bedside table and I know I am not going to get all of them read. Which ones to read, and which ones to discard - oh the dilemma.

Mo Hayder is a bit of a sure bet though, her thriller/police stories seem to keep the pace throughout and often you don't know who has done it and it always seems to have a twist to keep you guessing.  In this one, a young girl is found brutally murdered on the riverbank in bath.  Having a connection to Detective Inspector Zoes estranged sister and niece, makes her more involved than she expects.

I'm going to give it a 4/5 because it didn't bomb out in the end and it managed to keep me guessing til the last page.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Music Collecting for Girls - Courtney E Smith

Record Collecting for Girls - Courtney E. Smith (2011)

Years ago I loved music, bought LPs and music mags, stayed up late and listened to UK radio, and showing my age watched late night Radio with Pictures on NZ tv.   Then collected cassettes and loved my walkman, then CDs came along, with my CD walkman which was a pain in the butt, I hated having to lug all those CDs around.  So entered the ipod, which meant all the songs in the CD stacks are at your fingertips.  Somehow though I lost my love for music reviews, as they all seemed to be written by perpetual 19 year old boys (even though they were probably in their thirties), who all wanted to tell you about the latest obscure group of rockers.

So parts of Courtney E. Smiths books resonated with me, as I think the female listening audience has been basically ignored by most music companies.  I've never been one for the female rocker bands, and was a bit bored about hearing about the Bangles and the Go Gos.  I guess that is the problem with all books written about music, as it is such a personal thing, and everybodies top ten is so different, and we all have associations with differing songs.

Still, I think I'll give it a 3/5.  It was a quick read, I managed it in two hours in a rainy afternoon, waiting to go to the rugby.

The Story of Beautiful Girl - Rachel Simon

The Story of Beautiful Girl - Rachel Simon (2011)

This is essentially the story of four people.  Lynnie, who has an  unnamed intellectual disabiliy who escapes from the institution where she lives with her friend Homan.  After escaping, and delivering a small baby they stumble across a widower Martha who gives them shelter and clean clothes.  Realising they are being chased by police, they hide the baby.  Lynnie is captured and returns to the school, and Homan manages to get away. 

So it is each of their stories we follow.  Each of their stories is compelling, and I enjoyed the thought that it challenged me to think about people living with disablilites.  One of my dads cousins lived most of his life in an institution, but his family remained close and he was always welcomed in the families homes and truly loved.  Now that most of these homes have closed, I do see some families within my work, where many of them are exhausted by the constant full time care. 

So a 4/5 - as it is a memorable story, and I thought the characters of Lynnie and Homan, were unique and interesting voices.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Emperor of Lies - Steve Sem-Sandberg

The Emperor of Lies - Steve Sem-Sandberg (2011)

I almost feel tongue tied trying to describe this novel.  For it is a novel, a history and a truth entwined into one, and I felt like I was witnessing a fast train passing by me.  I knew the ending at the beginning, and even though I wanted to back away, it compelled me to read, even though it was a bit of a tough read.  Mostly because I have been scared off by 600 page bricks of books lately I was unsure I would make it to the end, but managed to finish it in two nights of heavy reading.

Essentially this is the story of the Lodz Ghetto, in Poland in the second world war.  At it's centre is the story of the Chairman, Mordecchai Chaim Rumkowski, who is a 63 year old Jewish Businessman, who runs a local orphanage and manages to end up with the control of the ghetto.  Thinking that by making the ghetto an essential business which supplies the Nazis with war essentials, he begins to believe that he can keep his workers safe, and even when transports are increasing he still tells his people that they are being relocated to other labour camps where they will be kept safe.

Circling within this main stories, are the stories of families who are just trying to survive, and it is these that are heartbreaking.  If you didn't know that the stories were based on real events, it would hard to imagine such horrors.  The cold, despair, hunger all seem so hard for us to imagine, in our safe little warm houses.

A memorable 4/5 from me.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Faery Tale - Signe Pike

Faery Tale - Signe Pike (2010)

After spending 91 pages invested in a novel I couldn't finish (so sorry Lloyd Jones), I picked this one up with some trepidation.  I had read the review on S.Krishna's Books, my favorite book bloggers site and thought I would give it a go.

Signe Pike works in Manhattan in the book industry when she begins to question the magic in her life and wonders if faeries actually exist.  Wanting to explore more she travels to Mexico, England, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland to try and find out.  I really enjoyed her travels, the places she went to and the people she meets are captivating.  As well as finding a bit of magic in her life, she also begins to mourn the loss of her father who she had been having trouble letting go of.

A nice read that has left me smiling and thinking of my own house gnome.  4/5

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Dead Mans Grip - Peter James

Dead Mans Grip - Peter James (2011)

If you have got sick of Jack Reacher wandering up and down roads, and wondered why all the forensic pathologists have gone a bit loopy and always seem to get trapped by the serial killers they are chasing ,  then Peter James is a good alternative.  He is a smart writer, it feels tight and even though I have 12 books from the library I should be reading ahead of this one, I chose to I dug into the latest story about Roy Grace.

It does well as a stand alone novel, but there is a little bit of back story of Detective Grace and his team in Brighton.  His wife has been missing for about ten years and he has found happiness with Cleo, and they are expecting their first baby.  In the meantime a young cyclist is killed in a truck accident, which sets of a couple of murders that the team must solve.

A 4/5 - I'm already waiting for the next book.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Winter of our Disconnect - Susan Maushart

The Winter of our Disconnect - Susan Maushart (2010)

With three teenagers and living in Perth, author Susan Maushart takes up the challenge of banning all screens from her home for six months.  All ipods, iphones, laptops and tvs are not to be used, and instead the family must learn to reconnect with each other and fill in their time.

After spending just a 36 hour period with my nephew and his two mates, I was frustrated that I was paying money to take them places and show them things, while their heads were down and they were busy playing competative nintendo like it was an Olympic sport.  So busy, that life was passing them by, and the kid who'd never been to Welington before, never actually saw it cos he was too busy scoring points.  I am pleased though, that this year my nephew is more likely to be out on his bike with friends, than wearing out his thumbs in front of the xbox.

I despair too when I talk to the the 18 year old students who have started with us, who must be clever to get into the programme, but who have limited street smarts and even they wonder what they actually learned while at school. 

So, if you have teenagers yourself, or wonder how your own family would cope it certainly makes an interesting read.  3/5.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Kashmir Shawl - Rosie Thomas

The Kashmir Shawl - Rosie Thomas (2011)

This one was better than Rosie Thomas last book Lovers and Newcomers, although the slow beginning made me almost put this one aside.  Once it got into the main story of Nerys and her  Welsh missionary husband, who head to India before the second world war.  After a miscarriage, Nerys is sent to the lakeside town of Srinagar, where she finds herself involved with her two closest friends in the expat community.

Years later, her granddaughter Mair cleans out her fathers house and finds a beautiful  antique shawl, which leads her to retrace her grandparents footsteps and find out the origin of the shawl.  You get the gist of it, it flows between the two stories, and I found that it held my interest through til the end.  3/5

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Night Waking - Sarah Moss

Night Waking - Sarah Moss (2011)

Anna is a historian, researching childhood in Victorian times for her book, which she is writing on an isolated Island off the Scottish coast.  Her ecologist husband is busy counting puffins during the day, while Anna struggles to balance her career with caring for her two children.  They are also renovating a cottage to hire out and host families.

With barely any sleep, I felt like stepping in and shaking this mother and as she is woken every night in the early hours by her two year old son Moth.  You can feel the tension, and I began to wonder if she would harm the children, as that wasn't the sort of novel I wanted to continue reading.  Instead though the family find the body of a young baby buried in the garden, and they begin to wonder who it belonged to, delving into the family history and further clues come forward when they find a bunch of letters over a hundred years old hidden in the house.

3/5 - poor woman, living with that family.