Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Music Monday

Saw these guys on the Ellen Show, they sound better on this video, but it is an awesome version of the song.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When We Were Strangers - Pamela Schoenewaldt

When We Were Strangers - Pamela Schoenewaldt (2011)

So this is only the third Kindle book I have got through, as I am  still plowing through real books.  But I have a confession, I now have over thirty books on the Kindle, and I am aching to read some of them.  It gets a bit addictive to look at my to be read list on Goodreads, see if the library has them and if not, see if  they are cheap on Amazon. I stood in bookshop last night, while waiting for one of my friends and wonder how many of them will survive.  One book was $36 that I had bought for my Kindle for $5, and another two new releases that were both $40, were under $10 US to buy.

This one I have hankered over for a while after reading lots of reviews in blogland.  Irma Vitale leaves her small mountain village in Italy to travel solo to America in the late 19th century.  With no English, and only her sewing skills to help her get a job, she finds it a strange and lonely place. 

From the long boat ride over, to New York, Cleveland, Chicago and finally San Francisco, I enjoyed following along with Irma.  She was a likeable hard working woman, and one had to admire the survival of these immigrant women who had to struggle to survive.  4/5

Shoe Sunday

These are Kubo leather summer boots/shoes that I kind of like the look of.  Kubo is an Australian brand, which makes lovely wide fitting shoes which are great for my little fat feet.  One of our online shoe shops has them for sale at the moment, and even though I love the Brick colour, black would be good as we cross the seasons from late summer into autumn.
I'm enjoying looking at pretty shoes, and wonder if I will manage to do a Shoe Sunday post all year, having to find another 48 or so pairs could be a challenge.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Two movies in a weekend - crazy business, sadly the pull of Miss Congeniality 2 was not enough to keep me on the couch tonight.  Friends had said this was  a good movie, and it was nice to meet a friend earlier and have dinner sitting out in the summer evening.

Midnight in Paris felt sweet and magical, and was just the tonic I needed.  Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood screenwriter/novelist who is in Paris with his fiancee and her parents.  After being dragged around to various spots, and bored by some of his girlfriends friends, he takes to the streets alone.  On a Parisian sidestreet, as the clock strikes twelve and vintage car pulls up, and Gil is invited to join folks inside to have drinks and attend a party.

There he begins to realise he has slipped into literary 1920s Paris, an era that he admires and wishes he had lived in, and gets to meet many famous authors, artists and musicians.  There he finds himself meeting a sweet beautiful young woman, and upon returning to current day Paris, begins to question his relationship with his fiance.

A 4.5/5 for this one, as it was delightful.  I enjoyed that it was fully filmed in Paris, and that even middle aged jaded me still managed to be surprised by a movie.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Descendants

The Descendants (2011)

George Clooney is a father of two troubled girls aged 17 and 10, who are all trying to cope with their mother who is in a coma after a head injury she received in a boating accident.  At the same time, he is also dealing with the family trust, which is a large parcel of untouched land in Hawaii that the family are hoping to sell, leaving them all well off.

To me, it seemed like an American movie, trying to be a bit British, using realistic looking people, in naturalistic surroundings and normal homes, not big flashy million dollar super homes and plastic models pretending to be family members.  Also coma mum looked realistic, unlike some who lie there with makeup and blowdried hair.

So it was a bit of a slow Friday night flick, but it was a nice look at a dad having to form a new relationship with his daughters and his girls looking at their dad in a new light.  3/5

Then Again - Diane Keaton

 Then Again - Diane Keaton (2011)

It is always nice to read a memoir that has something to say, and Diane Keaton has a fair few interesting tales to tell.  Growing up as the eldest child she had to deal with being the awkward one, followed by a quiet younger brother and two beautiful sisters.

We get to hear about her acting jobs and love life.  I loved to hear that Warren Beatty was odd, but old Woody Allen does sound a bit odd, and a slightly unusual relationship between the two of them.

Throughout the book, Diane shares her mothers stories too, from journals that she wrote through her life.  It was touching to hear about looking after both her parents as they got older, and the decision to become a single mother in her fifties.

She comes across as someone witty and intelligent that would be good at the dinner table for entertaining and sharing some wine and a meal.  3/5

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spooks 8

Spooks 8 - DVD (2009)

A long weekend with cold and windy summer weather, was the perfect excuse for sitting on the couch and watching more Spooks.  I've liked the series, but it is a bit feeling a bit tired.  It was nice to see Ruth back, as Ruth and Harry is a good bit of repressed middle aged romance.

It was sad to see Jo go, as Ros always looks a bit constipated and is a bit busy running around in her leather jacket and dark eyeliner.  Matt is a bit of a nice spy, they do a good job of picking a nice boy with a few tattoos who has a bit of a bad streak.  So besides lots of time with the gang, the world is full of terrorists that love abducting and torturing, and in this series the CIA is a bit naughty too.

So only series 9 and 10 to go - yeah.  3/5

The Lost Wife - Alyson Richman

The Lost Wife - Alyson Richman (2011)

I'm a bit of a sucker for a second world war love story.  Our story is about Lenka an art student and Josef a medical student, who fall in love in pre war Prague.  As the Nazis approach each family becomes desperate, and Lenka and Josef marry.

However they are unable to leave together, and are forced apart and Josef with a new family in America, spends sixty years wondering about his first love.

Ahh it was a sweet weekend read - 4/5.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Denial - Jessica Stern

Denial - Jessica Stern (2010)

Jessica Stern is an international expert on terrorism and academic who has written this book about he own ordeal.  As a fifteen year old, she was home alone with her fourteen year old sister, when an armed man broke into their house and raped both girls.

Thirty years later a local police officer reopens the case and Jessica starts her own investigation, eager to learn as much as she can about the rapist.  Finding that the rapist killed himself after some years in prison, she interviews his friends and family to find out what they know.

The astonishing part is that once the case is looked into, they are able to use his MO to link him to over forty similar rapes in a two year period.  It is an interesting read as the author explores her feelings about this ordeal, especially as at the time, the police did not believe her story of a stranger breaking in.  It seems that at the time in the seventies, rape was not taken seriously and the lack of computers allowed all these cases to be not connected until years later.

It's a pretty grim read,  and for all the analysing, I don't know if there are any answers that can solve the questions that are posed.  Because the rapist is dead, Jessica Stern never gets to ask him why, and even if he was, I think it was a random attack.  He just staked out homes he could access, watched girls and  took advantage of their vulnerability.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Supersizers Go

I know - four posts in a day  - how crazypants is that?  Lucky it is a public holiday here and imbetween trying to tidy up I'm busy clicking away on the laptop.  I am normally pretty scathing of poor peoples tv here in NZ, unfortunately my budget doesn't stretch to cable tv at the moment, but once the couch is paid off, I might have to treat myself.

Anyways, the past few weeks Monday nights treat has been Supersizers Go and this week they go Regency.  It is terribly entertaining and educational, therefore I know that not many under thirty will be watching.  I believe tonights episode will be the last in this series,  I think I may have to cry.

It has been good to start the week with a good belly laugh - bless you supersizers.

Shockaholic - Carrie Fisher

Shockaholic - Carrie Fisher (2011)

Parts of me were entertained and annoyed by this book.  Carrying on from her earlier memoirs she seems primarily in this small book to be filling in with a few more stories from the past few years.  Her now almost regular sessions of ECT therapy to treat chronic depression, her relationship with her step father, her father, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and a night out with a Kennedy.

A major theme too, seems to be trying to adjust to looking in a mirror and seeing a sixty year old woman, when everybody is looking for the nineteen old Princess Leia.  I can understand her pain, getting older in Hollywood must be no kind of fun.

It only took me an hour or so to read this book and I left it a little confused.  It seemed that maybe it should have been called Ramblholic as it seemed to slip from story to story without any common threads, and I ended up feeling like a guest at a dinner party where someone is hogging the limelight with all their celebrity sighting tales.


The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths

The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths (2010)

Now Ruth, I think I enjoyed your earlier adventures in The Crossing Places best, don't be offended but it usually is the way.  First books are always somewhat more enjoyable than the following ones as often it is a hard act to follow.

I'd truly like to hear about your new adventures and already have your new book reserved at the library.  I spied it at the bookshop yesterday, and gently caressed its covers but wouldn't part with the $29 needed, as that will buy a few groceries or pay for a cheap curry night out.

Could I give you some advice though?  Friend to friend - quit going to dig sites by yourself, it always leads to trouble and don't keep meeting up with strange men who turn out to be the murderers in secluded places.  Meet them for a coffee at McDs or at the pub, more crowds - less chance of being abducted by a loony.  Oh and please don't get taken/threatened/attacked/burgled every book.  If that happens I'm going to have to stray, and start reading other authors.

Good luck with the baby.


Music Monday - Ellie Goulding "Lights"

Every so often, I get really sick of what I listen to on my ipod, and delete a whole lot of songs and dig around and  find some new ones.  I was looking at someones best of 2011 list, and found Ellie Goulding, so I have been listening to a couple of her tunes.

I do enjoy the local radio station, they are sometimes quite amusing but they persist in playing the same 10 songs day after day, so I usually only listen for about forty minutes in the morning while getting ready for work.  I listen to my ipod a lot, and like to play music at home.  I have a stack of CDs and am torn about keeping them, or maybe discarding all the plastic covers and stowing them in one folder.  Oh what to do?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shoe Sunday

So, I had to give up the heels about fifteen years ago.  After only walking for about 10 minutes in town with the gait of a four year old trying on her mothers shoes, I figured that my feet could no longer handle them.  As my arches fully collapsed it became impossible to even attempt any sort of heel.  Me thinks I am not alone, as I looked around town every woman was wearing flats with only one or two fashion victim twenty somethings trying to hobble around.

Last year I bought my first pair of Groundhogs and now I am addicted.  The thick rubber sole makes them comfortable to wear from the first day, and  for me they fit really well.  I love their choice of colours too.

I have found this style on line the "Maggie" - and am in love.  In love with them, but not their price. At the moment they are on Amazon for $120 which for me is a bit too pricey.  So, I'm sitting and waiting for the price to drop and then Hello winter shoes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chasing Fire - Nora Roberts

Chasing Fire - Nora Roberts (2011)

This is only the second Nora Roberts book I have read, and I have heard that she has written a whole big stack of them, and probably has a huge legion of fans.  The Search was ok, and this one was in the same genre.

Rowan is a fire jumper, an elite group of men and women who are sent in to fight forest fires.  I guess for me, the main issue with this book was that fire is such a visual thing, and to be honest, I was a touch bored with the whole hero thing.

The relationships part of the story was ok, Rowan and her hot fire jumper, and her father and his new girlfriend.  It was these stories that kept the whole thing together, but I did feel it was a bit long and I was waiting for it to end.  2/5

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka (2011)

This novel is a collection of  connected stories, about a large group of young Japanese women, bought to the US in the early 1900s to be brides for young men.  Many of them were only teenagers, and had not left their home villages before stepping on board the boat.  The author has a clever way of telling us of their collective stories.

Their almost universal disappointment upon meeting their betrothed, the hardship of early married life.  The babies, the children, the homes.  The discrimination, especially as war approaches, deportations and camps

This was a quick but beautiful novel to read, I felt moved by the beginning of the book, it was easy to picture the girls huddled together on the boat, missing their families and their familiar lives.

4/5 - as I always appreciate a story of women's struggles.  Women who fight for love and their children.

The Night Strangers - Chris Bohjalian

The Night Strangers - Chris Bohjalian (2011)

Chip is a pilot, who when the engines fail due to a bird strike tries to emulate the landing on the Hudson river.  Things don't go as planned, and so he relocates his family to a run down home in rural New Hampshire.

His twin daughters and wife try to help Chip settle in, but he finds himself haunted by three ghosts, and by the history of the mysterious house.  A group of locals, all try to assist the family, but do they have a plan of their own?  Depressed and confused, you could sense his pain.

I was on night shift call and felt myself being a bit spooked reading this in the middle of night and had to save it to read in the middle of the day in the sunlight.   4/5

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Back-Up Plan

The Back-Up Plan - DVD (2010)

The movie is still playing in the background as I type this up, so it is a fresh review, hot off the keyboard.

Saturday night sucked yet again on NZ TV - who needs pretty woman for the 100th time, it's starting to look very dated and is not every girls dream (even if younger Richard Gere is).

I like Jennifer Lopez - she is certainly beautiful and comes across as a sweet girl, but she is not really a girl next door, unless you live in the Hamptons or in a huuuge mansion somewhere on the beach.   In this movie she plays a single woman who decides to have a donor sperm baby, and on the day she is inseminated she meets the man of her dreams.

A man, who is a simple goat farmer making cheese to sell at the farmers market, who lives on a HHHUUUUUUUGE beautiful farm, with an incredible barn.  He's cute, and has a six pack, but has no chemistry.

She apparently is a pet shop owner , but doesn't seem to actually work, and has a lovely but expensive looking apartment.  A dream come true.

Anyway, this little rom-com didn't do it for me, it seemed lacking in anything special, in any magic.  So for that it is a 2/5.

The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer - DVD (2011)

I'm not a big fan of the courtroom drama, I feel it did its dash in the 1990s and any charm it once held has disappeared.  So, I was somewhat distracted by the movie, and watched it over several nights, glancing at the computer throughout.

Matthew McConaughey always annoys me a bit too, he always seems to play smarmy well, and is not in heartthrob territory.  Anyways he plays a lawyer who works from his car.  When a wealthy playboy gets arrested for an assault he is called in to defend him.

A 2/5 from me - so memorable, that I don't really remember what happened.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Clara's War - Clara Kramer

Clara's War - Clara Kramer (2009)

 Teenage Clara and her sister and parents,  are forced into hiding from the Nazis in rural Poland during the second world war.  Close neighbours hide 18 jews in a bunker below their house, without any space to stand and with limited acess to food and bathroom facilities.  It is also amazing that German soldiers end up living in the room above the bunker for several months toward the end of the war.

Throughout this ordeal, Clara keeps a diary of events of their daily survival, and like Anne Frank, it is a miracle story of a childhood almost beyond our imagination now. 


Monday, January 09, 2012

The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths (2009)

Oh, how I like to find a new author who has a couple of books to read.  Elly Griffiths writes about Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist living on the saltmarshes of the Norfolk coast.

Two little girls are missing, and Ruth must find the connection between them and the Iron age discoveries that have been found.  Ohhhh, what will happen, who will turn out to be the bad guy?

One of the good points, was that Ruth is depicted as an average girl living in a small cottage with her cats, not a supermodel living in a $5 million dollar pad that you could never afford on an average salary.

So I've already been on the library website to search out the next two books she has written.  4/5

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Limitless (2011)

Saturday night and it is home alone on the couch for me.  I picked out a couple of DVDs from the library this week  as a treat and thought I would have movie night on Sat/Sun - how old school.  I guess I'm a bit snobbish about the movies I see at the cinema, and seldom go in for the blockbuster, big name movies that often.  2012 too should be the year of thriftiness (easy to say in January), so breaking out a big $4 per movie  in reality lets me see four for the price of one cinema ticket.

So Bradley Cooper starts the movie as a scruffy rough writer struggling along, til he encounters his ex brother-in-law who gives him a pill that allows him to use the unutilised 80% of his brain power, allowing him to learn new skills like never before.  Oh and bad guys chase him around too.

So it was an interesting premise, filmed in a fast paced way, Abbie Cornish was pretty, Bradley scrubbed up well, that holiday home was amazing and Drugs are bad - kids stay away, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  4/5

Seriously... I'm Kidding - Ellen Degeneres

Seriously... I'm Kidding - Ellen Degeneres (2011)

I like the Ellen show - it's a bit of light relief at the end of the day, so it was an easy choice to pick up her book, she only talks about it ten times a show.  I like Ellen too, she does have moments that make me laugh out loud, and I think that her heart is good, she tries to do nice things for people and helps out many families.

Her book too, has many good points and often tackles weighty subjects with a laugh, but for me the balance was off.  I would have liked a few more serious issues and more of Ellen, rather than going for the joke and trying to make everything silly funny.  Maybe I'm too serious, and maybe not the target audience that the book was intended for, but I felt somewhat cheated by the end and wanted a bit more substance.  2/5

Happy Accidents - Jane Lynch

Happy Accidents - Jane Lynch (2011)

So a bout of insomnia last night had me lying there, and rather than stare at the ceiling I picked up this book.  I had only grabbed from the library yesterday, but when flicking through it it had made me smile.

I didn't really expect to enjoy it - but I did.  Jane Lynchs memoir was quite sweet in fact.  A childhood growing up she always knew she was different, and finally as a teenage was able to realise that she might be a Lesbian, but don't worry the books not all about that.

For years she struggled with bit parts in tv shows and movies befoe making it big in Best in Show, the 40 year old Virgin and of course as Sue Sylvester in Glee.  If anyone thinks that living in New York would be like living in Friends, you should read Sues chapters on living on not much money in crazy shared apartments.

The last part of her story is about her romance and then marriage to her partner Laura and becoming a mother.  It was sweet and a true case of love at first sight.  The whole book made me smile and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  4/5.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Flash and Bones - Kathy Reichs

Flash and Bones - Kathy Reichs (2011)

Oh Dr Temperance, I do much prefer you in book form.  For the record, I did record the whole last season of Bones that played in 2011, and have only finished watching it before the new year.  I know the series and book are different, but I like the smart doctor, the more lengthy medical explanations without the cheesyness we get on screen.

In this novel there are a couple of stories centred around NASCAR racing in

Charlotte, which for me is a bit of a snooze.  As I'm not into cars, although I can appreciate that the author took the time to really look into the scene, and knew what she was writing about.  As usual her book was on the whole entertaining, but as usual it loses points for me by having Dr B again getting trapped by the baddie.  Why oh why does this have to happen every story?  For me, I just want to hear about the pile up of bodies, not have the main character abducted or threatened - can't she see that coming, cos I sure can.  Still, I'll still read the next one.  3/5

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Jane Austen Ruined My Life - Beth Pattilio

Jane Austen Ruined My Life - Beth Pattilio (2009)

Emma Grant is an University Professor, who finds her life falling apart when she discovers her husband cheating.  So escaping to London, she  is tempted by an invitation to read some of Jane Austens lost letters.

I liked the historical aspect, learning about Janes life and the made up letters were sweet, and I liked following along on the adventure.    So much so that I stayed up late reading, and managed to get it read in a couple of hours (on my kindle too).

The romance was a bit drippy for me, a bit too convienient and unbelievable and I was a bit confused by the ending, it seemed  a bit abrupt and not quite the right fit.  Still, for the most part it was a cheery read, and felt like a good summer story.  3/5

Perfect People - Peter James

Perfect People - Peter James (2011)

Here it is the first of my Kindle books read and finished - it only took me five weeks to do.  Kindle reading is not the primary source of my book addiction, as I have a large pile on my bedside table threatening to topple and crush me in my sleep.  I also can't bear to pay the money for a book, when I usually only buy a couple of year.  However it has been handy for picking up and reading slowly at work during my breaks, and while in town waiting for the friends to congregate.

Now to Perfect People -  I am a fan of Peter James, the past few years I have been reading the Roy Grace stories when they come out,  which are well paced and peppered with current pop references.

So in this one, he has ventured away from the norm, to give us a moral tale -  be careful of what you wish for.  Naomi and John are grieving the loss of their young son, when they decide to search out a genetic specialist to help them conceive a child without any major health issues.

I liked the idea, I think we fiddle with lots of things with our children and our health, but the long term effects may not be seen for years.  It did start a bit slow for me, and I much preferred the second half of the book when there was more happening.   I was left wondering if this was being written as an idea for a movie, it seemed to move at that pace, and to not have a big range of characters to overwelm the story.

I have to say that it was a 3/5 for me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Queen of Kings - Maria Dahvana Headley

Queen of Kings - Maria Dahvana Headley (2011)

Queen Cleopatra of Egypt is trapped in Alexandria, when she  recieves a message that her beloved husband Mark Anthony has died.  Wanting to save Egypt and resurrect her  husband, she summons the gods and trades her heart and soul to seek revenge on the Emperor Octavian, who has set out to destroy husband and wife and retake Egypt for the Roman Empire.

I'm not a huge fan of the vampire/fantasy genre, I usually get bored by all  crazy names and night time angst.  Maybe it was all the years of reading Anne Rice novels that put me off most of these stories.  However I picked up this book in the bookstore several months ago, and was intrigued by the story involving Queen Cleopatra.

 The combination of ancient Egypt and Rome and mythical storyline  kept me going through this novel, and I liked reading about their travels through the underworld meeting the gods.  It was a good solid read from a talented author, and I hope she writes more, but  maybe with less serpants and crazed demons.  3/5

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Debt

The Debt (2011)

So - here it is the first movie of 2012, a justifiable treat as we had another rainy dull and cold summer day.  Me and the bestie met up and went to the movier with about 16 other punters.

The Debt is about 3 mossad agents sent to Germany in 1965 to track down a Nazi war criminal known as the Surgeon of Birkenau.  Without giving the story away, lets just say it involves lots of knives, syringes and blood.  Beyond the violence though was a good story, and unlike many others I wasn't busy predicting what would happen, it all ended as a bit of a surprise.  An intelligent thriller that I am sure won't do as well as the latest Adam Sandler.

3/5 - and I must say I'm excited for the movie year ahead.