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