Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sarahs Key

Sarahs Key (2010)

I read the book about a year ago, and had wanted to see the movie for a couple of weeks, and was scared the sessions were about to end.  A rainy cold school holiday day and dragging a teenager out of bed before 9am, seemed the perfect recipe for a movie.  Bribed with hot chips for morning tea, we settled in.

Sarah is ten when her and her parents are dragged off in Paris, because they are Jewish.  Leaving her little brother at home, locked in a cupboard, they initially believe they will be back shortly to rescue him.  Racked with guilt, Sarah is determined to make it home and set her brother free.

We also get to meet Julia an American journalist living in Paris, who begins to investigate what the French did to the Jews during the second world war and the origins of the apartment her family are about to move into.

A satisfying 4/5 - with Kristin Scott Thomas, Aidin Quinn and a war back story, it was probably one of the more enjoyable movies I have seen in some time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Secret Daughter - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter - Shilpi Somaya Gowda (2010)

I read a review of this book on a book blog that I like, and she had given it one of her highest ratings, which was good enough for me.  I wasn't expecting great things, but the Indian-American story seemed interesting.  I was touched by the mothers story of being poor and giving up her daughter to an orphanage, so that she could give her husband a son.  However, none of the characters seemed to talk to me, they all seemed a little flat and one dimensional.

Still, on a cold and rainy weekend I enjoyed this as a little distraction - 3/5.

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Exclusive Love - Johanna Adorjan

An Exclusive Love - Johanna Adorjan (2009)

It was a grey and cool Saturday afternoon, and my niece and I retreated to the library to pick up a few books and DVDs for the long weekend.  This one sat in the biography section, and after a couple of unappealing pickups and putdowns, this one seemed like the one that needed to come home with me.

A little book, it was touching to read.  Johanna introduces us to her grandparents, Vera and Istvan who after surviving the war decide in 1991 to end their lives together.  How and why they decide to commit suicide is at the centre of this memoir, and Johanna does a good story of telling us about the weeks leading up to that eventful day.

4/5 - as I enjoyed the simplicity of this memorable little family story, which should be sad but somehow isn't.

Long Lost - Harlen Coben

Long Lost - Harlen Coben (2009)

I had kinda fallen out of love with Harlen Coben.  Like most of the thriller writers, he seemed to have lost his way and went to stay in formula land.  So picking up this one, I saw little flares of the author I liked so much, his try hard use of modern music.

It was a simple read, an ex who calls from Paris needing help.  A dead body, guns, vans, terrorists, French cops and all the usual suspects.  An easy pick up at lunch time in a stressful week deserving of a 3/5.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs - Christina Hopkinson

The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs - Christina Hopkinson (2011)

Mary is married to Joel with two young children. Fed up with her husbands help with the chirldren and around the house, she decides to compile a list of his good points and faults, and see how he scores over the following six months.  Initially amusing, somewhere along the line I found it a bit depressing and nitpicking as I am sure the overworked Mary was not a great pleasure to live with, and that she had allowed her husband to continue to treat her that way.

 It is the modern dilemma, and I am sure that many women feel this way, like the grown up while the menfolk think that they should still be living like they are nineteen.  And that by doing several of the weekly chores like mowing the lawns and taking out the rubbish, some men feel that they are doing more than their share of the household chores. 

It is though a step above the usually insipid chick lit that is out there, and even as a single woman could still raise a smile or two while reading.  It is a 3/5 read and maybe a good present for your married girlfriends.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Get Low

Get Low (2009)

I took my father to see this one, which was his first movie in the past couple of years, I thought it would suit him.  In the 1930s a reclusive hermit comes to town and decides that he would like to throw a funeral party before he dies.  He wants everyone to come who has a story to tell about him, and also raffles off his property.  A friendship forms with the gents who run the funeral home as they help him prepare, and his darkest secret become known.

3/5 - a gentle drama, beautiful in its simplicity, that is suited to a wintry nights television movie. (Instead we are subjected to lots of recent rubbish instead on real drama - yes NZ TV sucks)

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson (2010)

Major Pettigrew lives in a small little English village, living a peaceful life.  Finding himself lonely he finds a friend in Mrs Ali, a widower who runs the local shop.  Of Pakastani heritage, Mrs Ali was born in Cambridge, while the Major, was born in Lahore, and both can see the hypocrisy of racism that underlies the families and friends attitude to their relationship.

I enjoyed it, but for me it was a 3/5 read and not a 5/5 that seems to be the majority of Amazons reviews.  It was a bit slow Sunday night theatre, and I can picture the quaint little village it would be filmed in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Had Me at Woof - Julie Klam

You Had Me at Woof - Julie Klam (2010)

As the nights grown colder and NZ TV truly sucks - honestly do we have to be shown Shallow Hal and old reruns of Kath and Kim.  On my budget I can't afford SKY TV, so have to make do with poor peoples tv (did I tell you it mostly sucks?).  Anways, I have a book mountain teetering on my bedside table.  This was near the bottom, but I snuck it up to the top, cos I loved the cover.

Look at that little fellow.  So this is the story of Julie, who living in New York in her thirties, falls in love with her dog Otto.  Living with him leads her into becoming involved with rescuing other Boston Terriers and fostering some of the abandoned dogs.

I like a good animal book, and this one was one of the better ones, it was short, entertaining and not overly sentimental.  We didn't have to read 400 pages to find out that the dog dies at the end all Marley and Me style.  Made me miss my dogsitting dog - Chicky Dog I loves you.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Uncharted Territori - Tory Spelling


Uncharted Territori - Tori Spelling (2010)

Now I had hardly finished the book tonight, when the news on Peoples headlines said that Tori Spelling is pregnant with baby number three, so I sense that this third memoir will not be the last.  I shouldn't laugh really, as I have read the other two books she has written, and  surprisingly have found them an OK read, with amusing anecdotes about living in LA, and  dealing with the celebrity life.  I have never seen her show, except for 90210 back in the day, but see pictures of the family in all the mags around work.

So at age 37 with an expanding family, I wonder how many more autobiographies are to come.  With a year or two between them, it always makes a light amusing read.


The Hand that First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell

The Hand That First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell (2010)

So this one is the story of two stories, that eventually intertwine together.  Lexie Sinclair, who in the sixties has finished her university studies, and is waiting in rural Devon for her life to start.  When a stranger ends up inviting her to London, she finds a new life starting.  Meanwhile in modern London we meet Ulina, who after a traumatic birth experience, is struggling to be a mother, wife and artist.

I enjoyed the sixties stories much better than the modern one, it seemed more believable and the characters more real, and the appeal was maybe because it was a familiar tale of young country girl heading to the big city.

3/5 - ok, but not memorable.

The Town

The Town - DVD (2010)

So another bank robber movie which has just about made me sick of the genre.  Thank goodness that Don Draper puts on some modern pants and a FBI jacket and gives me something to look at.  Ben Affleck does a good job of directing, but seems in desperate need of some carbs.

An ok 3/5 - I guess I wasn't really in the mood, and ended up fast forwarding through the end.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

NZ TV sucks

Happy Gilmore on TV again?  What is it with the 12 year old boys doing the scheduling?  I guess it is my fault as I can only afford poor people tv, but thank goodness I have a DVD out from the library, to save my sanity, and a good book.   I just hope we are not in a six month rotation of manboy movies on primetime TV.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom - DVD (2010) Australians do crime movies really well, with just a touch of adventure and glamour, most of the crime shows and features show the grim reality, the paranoia, and the stupidity of it all. Hollywood however, tends to sensationalise the criminals dressing them up in designer clothes, living in flash mansions and driving fast cars, the Aussies show them living in the suburbs driving family cars and wearing their best polyester. Not one for the kids, as this movie is brutal in it's depiction of violence that forced me to look away at one stage, but I have a week ladies stomach. Still for me it was a 2.5/5 - ok but not memorable. Not that I am all about seeing a cheesy rom-com, somehow I am a bit annoyed by all of the depressing movies around at the moment.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Moneyless Man - Mark Boyle

The Moneyless Man - Mark Boyle (2010) Mark is an Irishman living in Bristol, who decides to spend a year without any money, living in a trailer with a composting toilet through the coldest winter in the UK. Scavenging food and using his bicycle as his main form of transport, he spends the year trying to keep his eco footprint small. All in all though, I found it a bit preachy, especially when he gets to mentioning tampons. We all have the green guilt, and most of us try in some way or another to limit our impact on the world. I don't have a car and mainly use public transport and walk, I try not to waste food and recycle our rubbish, but I like having a shower, toilet and electric blanket. Ideally of course it would be nice to be more sustainable, to have a more country home with a large pantry, but for me I can't see that happening for some time. So - part of me enjoyed the ideals of this book, I did find myself wanting to stop reading as I found the author having a bit of an attitude and talking down to his audience, and for that I can only offer it a 2/5. One can only imagine that he has returned to his 3 ply, and whiskey.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Sentry - Robert Crais

The Sentry - Robert Crais (2011) Robert Crais is one of the few crime writers that seems to have sustained his talent past the first five books. We've all seen Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs and Lee Child crash and burn and lose their momentum, whereas I have found that so far, I have enjoyed each of Mr Crais new books. In this new one, an incidental stop at a petrol station results in ex-marine Joe Pike witnessing a confrontation that he soon becomes involved with. After his new friends sudden disappearance, Joe enlists the help of his friend Elvis Cole to find them, and find out why federal agents seem reluctant to help. So I'm going to have to say that it is a 4/5, it made me want to head to my cold bedroom and read the book, and I await his next book.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Book Sculptures

My eyes keep getting drawn to this book sculpture I found on ETSY. Made with book covers overlying foam, it would look great on a library wall. At $400 US, it is not in my budget but if you want it you can look for the sellers findersandkeepersnet on ETSY.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Breaking Night - Liz Murray

Breaking Night - Liz Murray (2010) It has been a busy weekend, finishing two books over the weekend, a movie and a dvd. I feel a bit burnt out, but it was nice to curl up in my bed due to the autumn change of daylight savings and start my next book. At the moment with the evenings becoming longer I am delving into two or three books a week. I must have caught this story on Oprah or 20/20, as it seemed familiar and not quite as astonishing as the blurbs might suggest. Liz Murray, with her sister is living with her parents, both drug addicts in New York. With most of the welfare and drug dealing income going towards drugs, both girls are often left hungry and seldom cared for. They are left to fend for themselves and as a young teenager Liz is often truant, spending time with her friends. After finding herself homeless, she decides at seventeen that it is time to return to school, which she does while sleeping at friends places or on the subway trains or in the hallways of apartment buildings in New York. Completing four years of high school in two years, she then fights for a scholarship to Harvard. Her story was bandied about in the media, a movie made and now this memoir. It was sooo easy to see how she ended up slipping through the system, and how no one was looking out for Liz and her sister. Somehow the overwhelming feeling of this book left me feeling depressed and annoyed at the girls parents and how there was no adult intervention to help these girls. 2/5

My Wedding and Other Secrets

My Wedding and Other Secrets (2011) I went with a couple of besties to see this movie on a grey Sunday afternoon. It wasn't my choice, but you have to let some others choose the show every now and then. It was a nice break from housekeeping anyway. It was sweet, this is a little kiwi film, with a little bit of a cliched story. The main character is a young kiwi Chinese film student Emily, who falls in love with a young kiwi student James, who won't meet her parents approval. Were there any suprises? No - it was all predictable stuff, and I was a bit disapointed by the lack of sparkle, that special bit of humour that makes you go away smiling. 2/5 - a harmless local film

The Messenger

The Messenger - DVD (2009) Hmmm, maybe I wasn't in the right mood for this one, but I felt it was trying to straddle the world between serious drama and buddy movie, and somehow didn't succeed for me in either genre. It is the story of two soldiers whose job it is to inform next of kin of the death of their family members in conflict. I know it is serious subject material, but I would think that for soldiers in this role, they would be prepared for it. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but it didn't seem believable to me. Also I was distracted by the celebrities parents, that it would have been more effective to have strangers playing the family members. Having faces you have seen on TV series, just seemed to make it all a bit contrived. 1/5 - not something I would watch again.

A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg

A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg (2009) It is always a bit intimidating when someone who is ten years younger than you produces a memoir of their life, it makes me feel like nothing important has happened to me. Molly however is one of those successful bloggers who can translate their online success to the page. Starting a blog in order to share recipes, she also tells us the tale of her and her families life. Simple recipes, ones that I think I would like fill the pages. I am turned off by those recipes that are loaded with saffron, chees from Spanish goats, and caviar, that cost $80 a head to reproduce. A pleasant read - worth a 3/5