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.