Monday, November 19, 2012

Fantastic Mr Dahl - Michael Rosen

Fantastic Mr Dahl - Michael Rosen (2012)

Ok - so I might not have actually read any reviews before I ordered this little book to read.  I may not have noticed that it was a kids book, designed me thinks for the under ten year olds.  Still, it made up for it by being filled by the lovely illustrations of Quentin Blake, that made the ten year old girls inside me smile.

So this book describes the childhood of Raold Dahl, his years in the RAF, as a diplomat and his career as an author.  I learnt a bit, even if I didn't have to write a school report about my favourite author, I feel that I could now.


The Inquisitor's Key - Jefferson Bass

The Inquisitor's Key - Jefferson Bass (2012)

I like a bit of a forensic thriller that combines a bit of history with the running , chasing and stabbing.  In this case, Dr Bill Brockton travels to Avignon in France, to investigate some old bones found in an ancient sealed box buried within a wall.

Similarities to the Shroud of Turin cause Dr Bill and his assistant Miranda to investigate whether the bones and shoud could have belonged to Christ, or whether they are later forgeries.

So a thriller with a bit of intelligence goes a long way towards replacing Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs who seem to be reproducing the same old story over and over.  3/5

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Dirty Life - Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life - Kristin Kimball (2011)

After living the single life in New York,  journalist Kristin Kimball goes to write an article about a farmer producing organic fruit, veg and livestock to his customers.  Falling in love, she finds herself agreeing to move in and marry him.

With little farming experience, her boyfriend Mark gives her a quick introduction to the good life.  Luckily friends are able to give them land to use for a year, and they set about growing their own crops, raising chickens, pigs, and cows.  I really enjoyed her writing, and her experience as a real novice appealed to me, as she had not grown up eating simply, slaughtering animals or canning goods.

Part of the appeal too, was the community spirit shown by their neighbours and friends.  People coming to help with the planting, the harvest, canning and setting up a rustic farm wedding.  I don't know that I would have coped living with so many rats, or having cold showers, I truly admire her ability to stick with it.  5/5

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Animals and Other Family - Clare Balding

My Animals and Other Family - Clare Balding (2012)

Even going into this book knowing little or nothing about the author, it was hard not to be charmed by this memoir.  Growing up in a racing family, Clare and her brother were surrounded by the family horses and dogs, and each chapter of this book is centred around adventures with one of the animals.

With a bossy grandmother, two busy parents and visits by the Queen, I had to keep reminding myself that this was a modern story of my own generation, and not one from the twenties or thirties.  Even though I am not a horsey person, the stories were quite entertaining, and I did find myself having a quiet chuckle as I read the book during my lunch breaks.  A worthy 4/5.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken (2008)

This little memoir is written by Elizabeth McCracken, who with her husband, also an author is living a nomadic life, living in both Paris and rural France.  While waiting for the impending birth, she realises that she has not felt the baby move, and at nine months has to to deliver her stillborn son.
Both parents are devastated, and this moving book is the outpouring of their grief.

I cannot imagine their pain, not being a mother myself, but only get a sense of it after similar heartbreak within my only family, one that never feels quite complete, as someone is missing but not forgotten.  I found the end of the book touching, especially when she writes about many of her friends who reached out to her, and were able to provide comfort with their words, tears and hugs. The importance of sending a card, making a call in troubling times even when you don't know what words to write.  3/5

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Life Without Limits - Nick Vujicic

Life Without Limits - Nick Vujicic (2010)

It is hard to finish this book without being inspired by Nicks amazing story. Born without arms or legs, just two small malformed feet, he has managed to form a career as a motivational speaker, travelling around the world to share his story.

Throughout the book, he uses many examples of positive thinking that have helped him and others get through tough times.  Even when things are going wrong, there is still a lesson to be learned and a different opportunity can come through the change in circumstances.

A lot of this book is about Nicks relationship with God, which isn't really my thing, but I still found that the message is really about making the most of what you have been given, and that each day we get alive is full of opportunity.   3/5

Monday, November 05, 2012

Before I Met You - Lisa Jewell

Before I Met You - Lisa Jewell (2012)

I pounced on this one and was eager to start it as the cover had teased me from various bookshelves, and one day at the library I saw it's new cover peaking out at me.  So even with six reserves to pick up, I took it out as well and started it first.

We get to meet Betty who grows up on Guernsey looking after her elderly grandmother until her death.  Finding a few clues to a woman mentioned in the will, Betty escapes to  the mid nineties Soho London with just a few pounds and a mink coat.

Alternating with Bettys story, we get to meet Arlette her grandmother who is twenty one and newly arrived in London at the house of her mothers friend.  Falling into a job at Libertys and evenings spend with a painter and his musician friends, Arlette begins to find her feet.

I found myself just a bit annoyed with this book. The characters never really sunk in for me, and I was a bit confused in the first chapter having to reread parts of it again, to figure out who was who.  I lived in midninties London, and had quite a good time, but I found myself a bit bored by Bettys clichĂ©d live next to a rock star story and Arlettes live like a bohemian tale.  I guess I just found it a bit hard to click with the story and in the end I liked the cover of the book more than the story itself.  2/5

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Ruins of Lace - Iris Anthony

The Ruins of Lace - Iris Anthony (2012)

There are so many things about this historical novel that I loved - the time period, an original set of stories, the cover of the book,  the story about the history of lace, how shocking that girls at six were taken in and trained to make lace, then thrown to the street and abandoned once their eyesight fails.  Imagine living a life where you are punished for talking, for having friends?

Imagine losing your house because you ruin a lace cuff?  Being punished for carrying lace  and using dogs to smuggle lace across borders between countries, all awesome stories.

I did have some difficulty though with all the different narrators and would have found it easier following two or three stories. In the end I had to admit to being a bit confused about the ending, even though I knew it was meant to be tying all of the stories together.  I wanted to know more about the girl thrown to the streets, the baby who was meant to be a girl and other characters.   For that I have to give it a 3/5.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Raven + The Awakening

 The Raven - DVD (2012)

The Raven is a story about a madman who seems to be killing people in the same way as characters die in Edgar Allen Poes stories.  When his fiancĂ© is captured the author becomes more involved in finding out who this crazy murderer is.

I must admit to being unfamiliar with the stories, so that made this dark story a bit boring for me.   Thank goodness for Wikipedia, so I could find out what was meant to be happening in the story line.  I always enjoy a bit of John Cusack though.  3/5

The Awakening - DVD (2011)
Florences mission in life is too debunk hoax psychics who scam unsuspecting suspects.  Called upon to visit a school where a young boy has been murdered by the resident ghost, she finds herself getting scared.  I must admit to jumping a bit, but I was home alone and it was midnight on a Sunday night and the back door was open letting the breezes into the house.

I liked all of the actors in this British movie and the setting of the school was very remote and gothic.  The story didn't quite ring true for me, and I found the ending a bit weak and confusing.  For that I have to give it 3/5.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club - Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club - Will Schwalbe (2012)

A nice rainy morning was the perfect excuse for me to lie in bed and read this book.  This touching memoir is written by  Will Schwalbe who  joins his mother as she undergoes chemo for pancreatic cancer.   They discuss their latest reads and often choose to read the same books at the same time, or swap novels, talking about the themes and the characters.  This also leads to lots of discussions about their own lives, their family and the greater world around them.

As well as being an actress in her early days, Wills mother Mary Anne has also spent lots of her life dedicated to helping out refugees in war zones across the world.  It is many of those stories which for me were the highlights of this book.

I always find books about books and reading (and often about music too) disappoint  mainly because for so many of us our own favorites are so personal and associated with our good memories.  Many of the books in  this book are not my cup of tea, and not ones I would race out to read, but it is the stories between the stories that make this book shine.  The main story of which is a son, helping her mother to both live and die is  for me the most touching one, and I did have a few tears in my eyes at the end.  4/5

The Feast Nearby - Robin Mather

The Feast Nearby - Robin Mather (2011)

With rising prices everywhere, so many of us have become more conscious of being thrifty, keeping green and eating local.  So this is one of those books that appeals to all those ways of living.

Robin Mathers marriage dissolves and her job as a food writer finishes, a she moves into her small remote cottage near a lake in rural US.  With only $40 a week for food and groceries, she documents her year of buying locally grown food and living seasonally.  She also writes about the changing seasons and her friendships with interesting locals.

Filled with family recipes I enjoyed this interesting and light read.  4/5

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Killing Them Softly

Killing them Softly (2012)

After a tasty dinner uptown we did the slow wander down to the movie theatres.  One of the oldie cinemas didn't have any shows on at the time we wanted, the other one was booked out, so we had to head off to the young peoples cinema - the one that smells of shoes and greasy food.

We were told that this movie was reviewed as a good one, and I didn't know anything about it besides Brad Pitt being on the poster.  Like a lot of books I have read, I know that I am not the target audience for this movie, I am sure that it is not intended for middle aged ladies.  Out of the four of us that went, one walked out after ten minutes, the other two enjoyed it, and I found it a bit grim and empty.

Set at the time of the last American election,  we meet a couple of down and out young guys who agree to rob a card game, expecting to make a small profit.  However a couple of  professional hitmen are called into town after the robbery to exact some revenge.  So there is a lot of violence and not so glamorous scenery in the rough ends of town.

I have to say it was all a bit serious and rough for me, and with only the tiniest touch of humour, I found it rather soulless and pointless.  1/5

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Garnethill - Denise Mina

Garnethill - Denise Mina (1998)

Maureen is in a bit of trouble.  After a night on the drink, she comes home  and goes to sleep in the morning, she finds her boyfriend dead with his throat slit.  With a history of mental illness, a drug dealer boyfriend and a couple of dodgy mates, Maureen wonders who could have committed the crime.

I have only recently discovered Denise Mina, and enjoy her gritty Scottish thrillers.  Tight writing with good believable characters make her books easy and enjoyable to read.  3/5

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

It was a windy and cloudy old day today, the perfect excuse to hide in a movie theatre for the afternoon.  I did have a craving for a chicken enchilada for lunch, but had to make do with a subway sandwich instead.

How do you describe Moonrise Kingdom?  I guess it is a very stylized movie about a couple of twelve year olds who are in love, and run away to spend time together.  His scout troop, and her parents are on the chase.

Set in 1965, it is a modern version of what the sixties was like and is certainly an assault on the senses with sometimes a bit of brain hurt from not knowing where to look on the screen.

I found the movie sweet, and wonder if twelve year olds have adventures anymore?  4/5 - just because it was nice to see Edward Norton in shorts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mariana - Susanna Kearsley

Mariana - Susanna Kearsley (1994)

The Shadowy Horses is one of my favourite books, so as soon as I got the Kindle, I loaded up on Susanna Kearsleys books while they were cheap.  Anyways you know the gist, girl buys cottage that she has admired since she was tiny.  Finds out about local ghosts, keeps seeing handsome man on horse.  Meets wealthy big house owner, owner of the pub, local handyman, psychic aunty.  Keeps going back  and forth in time.

I did enjoy this book, although some of the scenes didn't quite make sense to me, and the book does begin to feel a bit dated.  Especially considering a  thirty year old can buy a several bedroomed cottage by herself.  3/5.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Meryl Streep Movie Club - Mia March

The Meryl Streep Movie Club - Mia March (2012)

Lolly is the mother of Kat, and aunty to Isabel and June, and one summer she invites all three women to return home for an important announcement.  Coming back to the Inn where they all grew up, stirs up memories for all three girls who have become distant and involved in their own separate lives.

Coming together the women of course find themselves and find men who are just perfect for them.  I don't know,maybe I expected more about their relationships together, rather than so much about their pasts and bad relationships. For me it was ok, but rather predictable and more chick-lit than I usually like.  2/5

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Every Day - David Levithan

Every Day - David Levithan (2012)

Every Day we get to meet A as a different person.  Waking up, A  finds him/herself in the body of a different 16 year old boy or girl.  This has been happening as long as A can remember.  Taking the day to adjust and fit in, A knows at midnight things will change again.

All goes smoothly until A meets Rhiannion and realises discovers love, but can he/she convince Rhiannion to love in return?  It was a really interesting prospect, and a new and interesting way to look at teenagers, fitting in and acceptance.  As with most teenage novels, there is quite a bit of angst and teenage relationship drama.

The best bit is, I might finally have read a book that I can recommend to my  16 year old niece.  I'm going to give it a 4/5 just because the story has stayed with me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When in Rome - Nicky Pellegrino

When in Rome - Nicky Pellegrino (2012)

Aww isn't it nice when you pick up a nice light novel that you want to devour and hear more of the story?  I felt at home with this book as soon as I started.  Serafina is the oldest of three girls living in a small apartment with their mother, who is a lady of the night in 1950s Rome.

When the girls hear that the great singer Mario Lanza is coming to make a film in Rome, the girls arrive intending to show off the middles sisters singing ability, but an opportunity allows Serafinas life to change.

A great read for a wild and windy weekend.  Great to curl up in bed with 4/5.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sweet Chendra

The Interwebs is a wonderful thing at times.  I was looking around over the weekend and found this picture of Chendra the elephant from Oregan zoo.  Her keepers took her around to meet the other animals on the day before the zoo opened.  Apparently sea lions were her favorites - check out her smile!!

Found here:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NZ Amazon Ripoffs

If you live in Australia/New Zealand, we get forced to pay super inflated prices for our books through Amazon for our Kindle.  For example this book is being sold on Amazon UK for 20p or NZ 40c.  We get forced to pay $11.29 US or about $14.00, a crazy inflated price.  Amazon -  you suck!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Down Came the Rain - Brooke Shields

Down Came the Rain - Brooke Shields (2006)

I did know through reading articles over the years, that Brooke Shields had suffered postnatal depression after the birth of her daughter Rowan.  Still I was very surprised by this book, and the depth of her despair and how truly stressed out she was.

You really have to admire her for sitting down to write this book, and open up all of those scary feelings again, and for doing it in the hope that it helps other mothers realise that they are not alone, and that they can seek help.

I felt as though I could hear her voice and she was sitting on the couch next to me, telling me about her experiences.  For that I think it is worthy of a 4/5.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rush of Blood - Mark Billingham

Rush of Blood - Mark Billingham (2012)

Three UK couples meet up at the Florida resort they are staying at.  They drink and dine together enjoying each others company until just before they are about to return, a young girl goes missing.

Returning to their normal lives, they catch up for dinner and wonder what could have happened.  As suspiscions are raised, we wonder if any of them could have been involved, and are given small clues throughout the novel.

I was kind of surprised by the ending, not quite what I expected.  I did enjoy the unexpected turns, but I am not really a fan of the snatched/abused child genre.  3/5

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear Greys Anatomy

Dear Greys Anatomy,

You are beginning to p** me off,  with everybody being so whiny every week.  I work at the hospital, and although we do love to gossip, there is not  a lot of discussions about relationships at work, least of all over patients.  Staff come to the hospital to work, and help patients.  You two girls would be told off for your unprofessional attitudes, and told to smarten yourself up.

To tell the truth I have been annoyed with you for a couple of years.  What started off as a fresh and interesting series has run it's time, and now you seem tired, repetative and at a loss for any good stories.

At the moment I tape you and watch you later in the week, fast forwarding through the show to make it a tolerable thirty minutes.  This is your last chance ladies.  Pull your socks up or be discarded to the won't watch category.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Real Estate Stalking - Kiwi Style

 This house looks like a great place to live in the summer, we would be out on that deck every evening, and I love all the wide opening windows to let the warm breeze in.  It is in Pahia, Northland, NZ,  has a respectable 5 bedrooms and the owners are asking for a cool $2.2 million NZ.
Check out the lovely view, and we like that their don't seem to be any pesky neighbours to check you out in your togs (swimming costume).  That deck looks like a great place to be sitting with a good book and a glass of wine.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Music Monday - Ukele Orchestra of Great Britain

I took my dad to see these guys play here in Wellington two years ago, and we totally enjoyed the condert, it was very entertaining.  They are coming back in March next year, and all of my friends just laugh when I suggest they come with me to see them play.  They don't know what they are missing - it was a great night!!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Clara and Mr. Tiffany - Susan Vreeland

Clara and Mr. Tiffany - Susan Vreeland (2011)

After the discovery of some long lost letters in 2005, it was found that the designer of most of the famous Tiffany Lamps was a Clara Driscoll, who was the head of the womans department.  This novel is about her work at Tiffany and her relationships in her time off.

I found this one a gentle story, that the pictures in my head of pretty lamps kept me reading, and it was a pleasure to look at the many beautiful lamps online after reading this book.  The turn of the last century was such an interesting time, with more women in the workplace and vast social change.  Imagine if you told women  nowthat they were unable to keep their jobs once married, what an uproar there would be.

I do like a book that makes me look at the world a bit differently and one in which I learn something.  3/5

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Dearie - Bob Spitz

Dearie - Bob Spitz (2012)

I hadn't really expected this book to be such a big brick, but that's ok when you have a touch of insomnia at midnigh.  It was a bit of a dry start, which was a shame as it is such an interesting story.  Julia Child came across to me as such an interesting woman, who made such a change to the way we cook.

Central to the story is the love story with her husband, and I never knew that up until she first married, she had no cooking skills at all.  After moving to Paris, and getting some training, it was her cook books, and then her cooking shows that brought her into homes across America and the world.

I do remember seeing some show in the 1970s, but did not realise that she kept working hard right up until her 90s doing both live and television recorded shows, until her ill health caused her to slow down, such an awesome work ethic.

What a fabulous woman.  3/5.

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter (2012)

The main story starts with an American actress, who believes she is dying arriving at a small coastal fishing village.  With one place to stay, the owner Pasquale becomes interested in what brings the young blonde woman to stay.

Then we get to hear from more of the characters, Michael the movie producer, Claire the production assistant,  a script writer, Richard Burton, Liz Taylor, an author, a German soldier.  All of their stories intercept as each has a connection , like a game of seven degrees of Kevin Bacon.

I liked the main couple of stories, however I did find towards the end that   I didn't really connect to most of them.  I just wanted to hear more about Dee the actress, and Pasquale the hotel owner.  For me, it feels like a 3/5.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Texas Killing Fields

Texas Killing Fields - DVD (2011)

I do like me a bit of Sam Worthington, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a bit of middle aged lady eye candy too.  I was only half paying attention watching this DVD.  Essentially a Texas cop and a New York cop  are searching for a  killer.  

For me, I felt that the Director did a good job of setting the scene, convincing us it was hot and sweaty and a dirty job.  That I get.  I just wasn't sure of the story and felt that the characters were believable.  2/5

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bones Are Forever - Kathy Reichs

Bones Are Forever - Kathy Reichs (2012)

Awww Kathy Reichs, have you been out brainstorming with Mr Lee Childs and cra cra Patricia Cornwell?  Been discussing how to write a formulaic thriller for a dumbed down audience?

It started out promising with Dr Bones helping in the autopsy of three small babies found hidden in a residence, with a missing mother.  Then we went haywire, you know the bit where Dr Bones becomes detective Bones, and travels here and there digging into every ones business, investigating the murders and of course the obligatory being held hostage by one of the accused.  Don't you know I hate that?

Surely in these recession proof times, even the medical examiners office has had to pull up the purse strings, and Doctor would be chained to her desk, being expected to investigate several cases at once?  Not out running around town with the two men who are secretly in love with her, like sulky puppies.

I have already had to relegate you from the buy now to the borrow from the library pile, now you might just have to get demoted to the stop reading pile, and join your buddies James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell in the why bother pile.


War Horse

War Horse - DVD (2011)

The Flu Festival of 2012 provided me some opportunity to sit on the couch over the weekend, and catch up on the reading pile and watch some DVDs.   I had wanted to see this one, but didn't want to spend the money at the cinema.  There are quite a few that come out that I can easily relegate to the might look at later pile of movies.

So this is the story of a  farm boy and his horse Joey who are separated  during the first world war.  Drafted into service we get to follow this Joey, as he is sent into battle.

Of course as soon as it starts, we get an inkling of the ending, but even though the journey is somewhat predictable, it is hard not to be touched by this story.  The visuals are also quite stunning, especially the English countryside which is probably filmed in somewhere cheap and European.  3/5

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Real Estate Stalking - Tauranga

Yesterday when I was sick, I decided to see what I could buy if I had a couple of million bucks to spend (I wish).  I found this house in Tauranga NZ.  Isn't the view from the front deck lovely? I could quite happily sit out here with a glass of wine in the evening, and Pops and I would be  cosy curling up on the couch reading a book, or watching the tele.

The kitchen was a bit too laboratory for me, but hey - I am sure I would have thousands left to make it more homey.

You can find it for sale on trade me at:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Literary Tattoos

Me, well I don't have any tattoos, but I like the idea of using a favorite picture, quote or lyrics on your skin, words that resonate with your life.  I often peak at which is a blog where people post their literary inspired tattoos (that's where these pictures come from).

I haven't found anything that I would be happy to live with all my life yet, maybe one day, maybe never.  But, I like looking at other peoples beautiful pictures and haunting words.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (2012)

This is the story of a modern marriage. On the day Nick and Amy are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick arrives home to find that Amy is missing.

That's all you need to know, as the story switches between both their stories, their current lives, and how they got together years earlier.  Two different versions of a marriage, with twists and turns everywhere.

I enjoyed this book a lot, from the first page when I picked it up I didn't want to put it down, and carried it around with me all weekend.  Normally, it is the type of book that I avoid, as so often it is filled with a predictable storyline, but I felt that the author was able to give a fresh voice to a story we think we know.

So I have to say it is worth a 4/5, almost pushing a 5.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Usually I am a bit dismissive of New Zealand TV.  You see my budget can't afford Sky TV, so I am stuck with poor peoples free Television, where most of the channels seem to be run by fifteen year old boys, who rotate series of Friends and specialise in Adam Sandler movies - yuck.

Thank goodness for Prime TV, for at least they show Game of Thrones, Mad Men and this week I have seen them start to advertise for season three of Downton Abbey.  I do love my books, but I don't want to read them every night, and a few hours in front of the box is good downtime in the evening.  Oh and how can I forget Antiques Roadshow.  Someone on their programming committee must be  middle aged  me thinks.

Still, the evenings are getting lighter here, and next week I think our daylight savings time will start, so there will be time to potter in the garden, and spend with friends.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Front Room Fabrics

Yesterday I spent my $5 jar money on a much needed Dyson vacuum cleaner. I could have gone budget, which I have in the past, and that resulted in ones that break down after a year or two.  I must have super strength hair or something.

Anyways, I'm unlikely to travel to New York and go shopping at Anthropologie, but thank goodness for online shopping.  This lovely duvet is from front room fabrics in modern.  I actually have the pillow cases, and maybe next years $5 jar could get me the duvet cover.

I do love it so.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Jackpot (2011)

A mild mannered factory manager decides to chip in with his ex-con workers for a football competition.   This leads him to be being found in a strip club, lying in a puddle of blood underneath a large woman, clutching a shot gun, with 8 dead bodies surrounding him.

There was plenty of violence in this Norwegian thriller, but because there were lots of laughable scenes as well, it made a good balance, and I could see producers wanting to remake it for a US audience.

Beats watching NZ tv.  3/5

Friday, September 21, 2012

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag - Jennifer Gilbert

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag - Jennifer Gilbert (2012)

I do like me a good little memoir.  It doesn't have to be from somebody famous, or a name dropper to make an impression, sometimes the best ones are about semi-ordinary lives.   Jennifer Gilbert was living an ordinary life with big dreams of a new job in New York, when a trauma changes everything.

This trauma turns her life inside out and she returns home with her parents and plans out her new future, and it was this part of her life that was most interesting.  A new career in event planning, her relationships and path to motherhood are thoughtfully retold with a sense of strength and humour.  So much so, that I stayed up late last night and woke up early this morning to read this book.  4/5

City of Ravens - Boria Sax

City of Ravens - Boria Sax  (2012)

Initially I was drawn to this story by the cover, with the ravens sitting over the Tower of London.  I've been there, and you can't help but be drawn to the great black bird that roam around.  Of course, those ones can't fly over, as they have had their wings clipped to prevent them leaving.

The author mainly looks at the origin of the Towers birds, and the truth regarding the idea that the Monarchy will fall if the birds ever leave.    He also explores how other European cultures have their own myths and beliefs about this regal bird.

Although I learnt a little bit, I found that some of the facts were repeated over and over, and I would have liked to learn a little more about the mysterious birds.  2/5

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Coming to My Senses - Alyssa Harad

Coming to My Senses - Alyssa Harad (2012)

In her mid thirties, Alyssa Harad feels like she is stumbling along in life and work.  Finding her first perfume blog, she finds herself in a world which seems to awaken her with a new language, new friends and sets her off on new adventures.

She is a good little writer and this memoir about her discoveries in perfume world, and her impending marriage you can't help but like her.  I really enjoyed picking up this book, and delving into her world and it made me think of the scents that I use to make me feel good.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Guts - Kristen Johnston

Guts - Kristen Johnston (2012)

I saw Kristen Johnston on the Anderson Cooper show, where she was talking about her book, and then helping out with a bit of co-hosting.  Her book is part memoir about her early life, but mostly it is about her recent recovery after years of alcohol and pain medication addiction.

A couple of years ago, after a performance in a London play, she collapsed in the bathroom, after a ruptured ulcer caused haemorrhaging and peritonitis from leaking stomach contents.  A long recovery in bleak sounding London hospitals ensued, and although sore her forced withdrawal from cigarettes, alcohol and pills would not have helped to make her the most delightful of patients.

I was impressed with her television appearance, as she came across as being funny, sensitive and extremely personable, which also comes across in the book.  I think too that she showed some restraint in the book, by not being a massive name dropper and also by just holding back on the humour, unlike some comedians memoirs I have read lately.  3/5.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns - Margaret Dilloway

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns - Margaret Dilloway (2012)

Cal is a high school science teacher who is busy at school and busy at home.  As a breeder of new and unusual roses, she has to juggle that with kidney failure and having dialysis every second day.

Just as things are are settling into a pattern, enter the teenage angst as her niece appears to stay with her, while her sister goes to work in Hong Kong.

For me it was ok, I liked that Cal was a bit prickly like her roses, but I felt like it was a story that I had heard before.


Music Saturday - Amy Stroup - Just You

I love this new song that I discovered tonight - Amy Stroup and her song Just You.  I'm not really a big production number girl, I prefer a singer song writer vibe.  If only I could remember my itunes password,  I would buy the song.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - DVD (2011)

Hmmm , this one confused me a little bit.  I had tried to read the book a couple of years ago, but gave it up after a few pages as it didn't really grip me.  I felt the same about the movie in fact, after starting it, I thought about abandoning the movie several times.

For me, it felt like it should have been a little indie movie, but instead we got Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock with old cardigans and unbrushed hair, wow - what amasing character actors they are,

The main problem though, for me was the main character who somehow I thought should have been sad and vulnerable, but instead I just found him annoying and whiny.  Is that wrong, to judge a child?  I just think the direction on this movie was misplaced, and all the things that could have been a bit of magic were just a bit lost.  2/5

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hello My New Lovie

I've been stalking the Anthropologie website again.  I know I should have bought a Big Wednesday ticket, and been in for a chance of winning $27 million dollars, but the queue was too long, and I was too cold and tired to wait.

If anyone else wins, could they buy this Rosette Quilt for me?  I love that it has writing on it, and it doesn't look like it needs an iron.  Wouldn't it be fun to go to New York to go shopping, I just know I would be good at it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Small Blue Thing - S.C. Ransom

Small Blue Thing - S.C. Ransom (2011)

Alex is with her best friend down at the Thames, celebrating sitting her last exams.  While there she spots something hidden in the mud, and pulling it out finds an old silver bracelet with a sparkling blue stone.

After wearing it round for a while, she realises that she is hearing a voice of a  mysterious young man, Callum who begins to tell her about her amulet, and how he is stuck in an imbetween world.  As their friendship grows, she begins to wonder if she should get rid of the bracelet, especially when Alex finds her life at risk, and she feels confused not knowing who to trust.

This is part one of a trilogy, and I think I will look out for part two.  It is a young adult book, and intended for the 11plus market, which makes me feel old, as I am somewhat older.


The Song of Archilles - Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller (2012)

I've looked at this one in bookshops and on Amazon, and was glad when my reserve at the library finally showed up (look at how old school I am).  Madeline Miller has both studied and taught Latin and Ancient Greek, and she uses her knowledge to tell us the story of  The Iliad, of Achilles and his friend  Patroclus.

I never expected to get sucked into the ancient Greek tale as I did, but she is a good storyteller and I was drawn into the story of legends and heroism.  Told from Patroclus point of view, it felt both familiar and yet original to me at the same time.

I have to give it a solid 4/5.

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Kindle Ripoffs

If you live in the UK you can buy off Amazon.UK,  and you pay74 pence or about $1.50 NZ.  Instead we have to go through Amazon.Com where we are bundled into the Asia/Pacific region and really ripped off.  We get forced to  pay US$9.99 or NZ$13 .  Almost ten times the price.

My colleagues often ask me about my Kindle, as lately I have returned to borrowing more and more library books.  I check and look, and often only buy books on Amazon on special, sometimes they can be discounted for a week or two.  I recommend that they hold off buying an e-reader if their family member is happy to still borrow books.

It would be better to have a fairer pricing system.  Don't forget that you can still probably buy the books for cheaper through the Book Depositary and get them sent to NZ for free.  Do I feel sorry for Kiwi booksellers - sure, but it has been a long time since I had bought books.  Once the prices went up to NZ$40, it got way out of my price range for affordability.