Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce (2012)

Sometimes books hit you in that sweet spot, the one that makes you secretly smile with enjoyment as you read.  With this one, I found myself cheering the lead character on, urging him to finish his journey.

Harold Fry is retired and in his sixties, when one day, he just decides to leave home, and keep walking.  Walking the length of the UK, he decides to north to see an ex colleague who is sick in the hospice.

So many good books lately, and it makes me happy that this was the last book read during the winter.  Roll on spring!

5/5


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Household Linens

Last weekend, I walked past the window of household linens, a local shop, and they had some lovely pink and white bed linen in the weekend.  It felt like a touch of spring.   I have only just bought some new bed linens for my bed, but I would still enjoy a touch of pink to make me smile.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Amy - Mitch Winehouse

Amy - Mitch Winehouse (2012)

Oh Amy, we all thought it would end the way it did, maybe not so soon, and we are sad that you are gone.  I love Back to Black and play it all the time - how truly talented you were.  But I think you were haunted, searching for something or trying to hide away, using all those horrid drugs and too much drink.

This book was written by your dad, and so many of the pages scream of his pain.  His hurt at losing you, and not being able to save you while you were here.  The pain that all parents and families suffer when a child is an addict.

3/5


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Night Hipster Horror - Portlandia DJ Night


Sunday night horror movies are a tradition here on NZ tv.    I love this true Hipster Horror of DJ Night, it had me smiling before I hit the sack.

Not Dead Yet - Peter James

Not Dead Yet - Peter James (2012)

I liked the torso found on the chicken farm part, but for most of this book about people obsessed with a celebrity singer, I am afraid I had a bit of a yawn.
 Gaia (Lady Gaga/Madonna clone) and her entourage and young son, cometo Brighton to make a film about a greedy King and his mistress.  This brings out her obsessed fans, and of course Roy Grace is there to find who the devious killer is.

I feel bad for giving it a 3/5, but I'll be back for more.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Aid Kit - Ghost Town


I hardly ever buy CDs anymore, but I like this song so much that I might have to invest in a couple of CDs from EBAY.  There are hardly any stores that sell music anymore.  Usually just mainstream artists, and not many groups that I like.

It was nice to turn off the televison tonight, and just listen to some music.  Soothing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spooks 9

Spooks 9 (2010)

Awww spooks, I think you should have shut down the shop a couple of series again.  I couldn't find your MI5 mojo this time, it all felt a bit jaded and tired.

I can sense that Harry has had enough, and will disappear into the sunset holding hands with Ruth (please say it will be so).  In fact I have sneaked a peak at Wikipedia to see how series ten finishes.

Still, anything beats Happy Gilmour on the television.  Apparently it has to be played on poor peoples tv here every 2 months, for some unknown reason.  Luckily my DVD recorder is full, and I have other things to watch.

2/5  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Kindle Ripoffs

If you have access to UK Amazon you can buy this book for 20p (NZ 40cents).  We get charged $3.20 US or around NZ $4.00 - that's ten times the price.

This one is 99p (or $2 NZ)  on UK Amazon - and if I want to buy it, I get charged $10.99 (US), around about $14 NZ.  

I do enjoy my Kindle - but I hate that we get ripped off in NZ.

Still Shopping - Off to Anthropologie

So those nice lamps from yesterday would look lonely in the living room, and I would need something to sit on.  This Arlo sofa from Anthropologie might be the business.  It has a graphic photo print of Venice on it, and looks kind of dreamy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Going Shopping


Just popping off to the US to do another bit of shopping.  This time I think I'll pop off to West Elm to buy a couple of these lamps.  The last picture looks like it was shot in my house, so I think it will fit into my decor well.

I better buy a Big Wednesday lotto ticket, win and then I'll be off.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Music Monday - Adele I Can't Make you Love Me


Just amazing.  I listened to this one at the weekend, and have been replaying it over and over.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Wish

I Wish (2011)

This is a little Japanese movie that was on the Film Festival here in Wellington recently.  Because the viewing time was at 10:30am that day, I may have chosen to have a little sleep in rather than get up in the cold and head into town.

Instead I went to watch it with my friends after a yummy dinner of Rissotto and Brown sugar pavlova (yum).   At first I was a little confused by the story.  Essentially it is about two young brothers whose parents have split.  One lives with his mother and grandparents who run a little local cafe, and the other who lives with his father who is a singer in a band.  Both brothers enjoy their friends and swimming and speak to each other on the phone all the time.

The second half of the movie did make me smile, as both brothers and their friends decide to meet up and have an adventure together.  They have heard that at the point when two trains pass each other, if they make a wish it will come true.  So this is what they set off to see.

I did enjoy the thought of young kids having an adventure without parents being there the whole time, and I wonder if it could happen here in NZ, the UK or US?  I never got to do anything quite as exciting but by the time I was ten I did a lot of plane trips and bus rides by myself.

3/5

The Sacred Thread - Adrienne Arieff

The Sacred Thread - Adrienne Arieff (2012)

Adrienne is in her thirties and has been trying to conceive.  With fibroid tumours she has been unfortunate and had several miscarriages, leaving her and her husband distraught and wondering if they will ever be parents.

They discover Dr  Nayna Patels fertility and surrogacy service in rural India, and this is where Adrienne travels to in an attempt to find a surrogate for her baby.

It was an interesting memoir, and I felt that she dealt with the moral and ethical issues fairly.  For the young mother who became Adriennes surrogate, the money she earnt was equivalent to ten years of her husbands salary.  One has to hope that this money would be able to provide opportunities for her and her family, but it does make you think about rich westerners exploiting third world woman.  It did seem however, that the clinic was run well with a hostel type environment for the expectant mothers with  good nutrition, medical advice and education.

I was touched by this little book, both by the story of becoming a mother and the time spent in rural India.  4/5

Memoir of a Debulked Woman - Susan Gubar

Memoir of a Debulked Woman - Susan Gubar

Ovarian cancer is one of the quiet unglamorous,  unfashionable cancers, that sneaks up on us girls, with vague signs and symptoms and often presents at a late stage.  There aren't walks or badges for ovarian cancers, and it's not associated with any big name sponsors.

So Susans Gubars memoir is her story of diagnosis and life with ovarian cancer.  We get to hear of her journey after a surprise diagnosis,  and she also tells us about other woman who have who have undergone similar surgeries and treatments.

3/5


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dream New Dreams - Jai Pausch

Dream New Dreams - Jai Pausch (2012)

I think I discovered this book on Goodreads, my latest addiction.  Jai  Pausch is the widow of Randy Pausch the author of the last lecture - who died at a young age of Pancreatic Cancer, leaving her to raise their three young children, and to help him with nursing care and support.

Feeling abandoned as a caregiver, she set out to write the type of book that she was unable to find when confronted with the terminal diagnosis.  Having to juggle complicated medical care, travel and a young family stretched her to the point of breaking.  Then with her husband gaining a celebrity status at the end of his life, a new level of intensity and complications were added, and you to have to admire this strong woman.

She has used her experience to help others in similar situations and to educate various groups by speaking out about what she went through.  But, besides all of the medical parts of the story, is a touching love story, tested in the toughest of times.  4/5


Monday, August 13, 2012

Music Monday - Not Many (Row Mix)



This is one for the Kiwis.  Not sure if anybody else would understand the references to everything New Zealand in this one.  O for oarsome indeed!!

Worth Fighting For - Lisa Niemi Swayze

Worth Fighting For - Lisa Niemi Swayze (2012)

I stood in the bookshop last week, and glanced through the back of this book, which was making me teary.  Rather than let my mascara pour off in the shop, I reserved this book at the library.  I picked it up on Friday afternoon, and had it finished by the next day.

This is Lisas story of her life and marriage with Patrick Swayze, with their good and bad times.  It mainly focuses on the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and his treatments and ultimate death.  Written soon after his passing this book is full of raw emotion, and I could sense the love between them and their shared 34 year marriage.

Reading this book also describes the confusing role of the caregiver in a patient with a terminal illness, and the shortcomings of the medical profession in giving support and guidance in end of life care.

A very touching 4/5


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Amour

Amour (2012)

I go to French movies now with a sense of trepidation.  I have seen some entertaining ones, but in the past couple of years, I have found them a bit unsatisfying.  So going into this viewing with a large audience of somewhat older patrons, I clutched my subway sandwich and waited for the movie.

This is the story of an elderly couple, who at the start of the movie are fit and active and enjoying life.  As the movie continues, we get to see their gradual decline, as they age and lose their mobility and independence.

Certainly many of the moments were touching, and I thought they did a fabulous job of portraying a good and loving partnership.  For anyone who has elderly parents, or is approaching those years themselves, this is a poignant and moving movie.  Be sure not to miss the beginning, as this explains a little bit about how the movie ends.  I am sure those cinema goers who sneaked in late were a little confused by the story.

I was a little confused by the abrupt and very French ending, but the movie has been memorable and made me a tiny bit scared about growing old alone.

3/5


Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Heart London - Lindsey Kelk

I Heart London - Lindsey Kelk (2012)

So this is book five of a series, but like a lot of chick lit it can stand alone.  I have to admit to not having read any of the earlier ones, but seeing it was the Olympics, I had a taste for reading something easy about London.

Angela Clark has made a new life for herself in New York, and is in the process of trying to secure the publication of her new magazine.  Deciding to return to London for her mothers birthday, she decides the time is right to introduce her  rocker fiancĂ© and new friends to her parents and old friends.

While there, her mother suggests that they use the time to have their wedding, so much chick lit clichĂ© mini disasters ensue.  I did enjoy some of the pop culture references, but it didn't have enough London references for me, and I sometimes wonder if I am not too old to enjoy such books.  I guess too, that they are designed to be read on your beach lounger in the Spanish sunshine.  3/5

Bully

Bully (2011)

This was another movie I managed to see at the Film Festival.  I was quite surprised that the theatre was only a quarter full, but I guess it was 10:30 in the morning.

Following a group of five students over a school year, it looks at both kids who are currently being bullied and the families of children, who after relentless bullying killed themselves.  It was shocking, and the level of hassle that these kids underwent, even when the bullies were being filmed was just horrible, with kids being picked on their whole time at school.

I think it is an important film for high school students and a lot of their families to see. Even if you know teenagers, it is worth a watch to have a discussion about it.   It concerned me that the teachers and school administrators seemed naive and ignorant in their understanding and approach.  Shame on them.  I hope that they were all embarrassed to watch the movie, and stepped up and did more to protect their students.

4/5

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Second Empress

The Second Empress - Michelle Moran (2012)

So, with a few days off and cold winter weather,  I managed to get a few books read.   I love Michelle Moran, she is a great historical author, whose writing flows and can take me away straight away to another place and time.

In this movie we get to hear about Austrian Princess Marie-Louise, who at age nineteen is chosen to become the second wife to Emperor Napoleon, who wants to have children.  Taken to Paris, she is now immersed in a new world with an emperor who becomes obsessed with spreading his Empire, causing unrest in France as hundreds of thousands of soldiers are killed.

I did enjoy the book, and was more taken with the Emperesses story,  but was a little distracted by the multiple narrators and by Napoleons letters to his first wife, that were printed throughout the book.

3/5


Dreams of a Life

Dreams of a Life (2011)

On the day I went to see this I ummed and aaaahed over going to see this movie.  I had read about it in two different magazines, and was intrigued.  I was so glad that I took the time to go and watch.

Joyce Vincent was in her late thirties, and one night after getting the shopping, and wrapping christmas presents, she died in  the living room of her bedsit with the television on.  Her body then wasn't discovered til three years later, when unpaid bills finally forced authorities to come and push the door in.

In this documentry,  the film maker advertises on city cabs, in newspapers and on social media to find out more about her life and the people who new her.  Several groups of people come forward, and it is their stories that tell us more about this woman who died alone.  I found it touching that all of the people that had known her, were sad about her dying alone, and all would have reached out to help her, if they only knew.

So thought provoking, especially since I live alone.  I guess work would quickly figure out something was wrong if I didn't turn up, and my friends would worry after a week or two.  It was sad that Joyce had three sisters and although they spoke with the film maker they did not want to appear in the film.

Great to have such interesting stories told on film, and I loved being able to see the real faces of actual people rather than Hollywood botoxed Ken and Barbies on screen.   Sometimes you think that you have seen or read  it all, and that there are no new stories in the world left to surprise you.

4/5 - just because for me this is a memorable story.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (2012)

I feel a bit spoiled lately, in getting to read so many new books that have featured heavily on many blogs and on goodreads.  Many of our local booksellers just promote the bigseller heavy hitters and I find Amazon the worst place for finding books, especially the Kindle section.

So this book then.  Well it is the story of teenage first love,  of  Hazel  who is tolerating being at her Cancer Survival group, when she gets to meet Augustus Waters.

So, we join them on a journey, and I had to admire the author for finding an original voice and making me believe that I was sitting in the room with them.

Sweet and sad, smart and heart breaking all at the same time.  4/5

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Dear TV3

Dear TV3,

How dare you tease us middle aged ladies so?  You have been putting our secret boyfriend, Kevin McCloud on the tele two nights a week, with his great show Grand Designs.  Do they both have to be repeats?  Truly, we have already seen these episodes, once or twice before.   It is not a gold medal win, we don't need to see it over and over, we know how the show will end.

We tolerate your many excursions into yoof culture, we may even excuse your repetitive movie marathons of the morons (Adam Sandler, Will Farell, + anything directed by two brothers) - only because we got out on those nights.

If you can't find us any new shows with our boyfriend, surely there are other shows being pumped out somewhere in the world?  We're only asking for an hour or two a week - pleeease.

Love
Middle aged ladies across NZ.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker (2012)

On what seems like a normal Saturday, Julia and her parents wake to find that the earth has changed, it is slowing down and the day is longer by several minutes.  This gradual slowing down continues each day, affecting everybody and every living thing.

I was drawn in by this clever little novel, and raced to bed and finished it on the second night of reading and I thought about it all day.  The only thing that annoyed me was Julias age of eleven, I thought her voice and experiences seemed of a teenager,  slightly older than her in the story.

Certainly thought provoking, and memorable read  5/5

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Rampart

Rampart (2011)

Oh Angst movie, I was waiting for you to arrive. There has been too much laughter lately, time to get serious again.

 We get to meet Dave Brown, a police officer in 1999 LA, who is wound up, and his old school ways aren't cutting it anymore.  He's one of those blokes who always thinks he is right,in his morals, in his job, his marriage, his children and all aspects of his life.

Things begin to unravel though, after he is taped beating a guy who crashes into his car, and he finds himself trying to hold his life together.

I did wonder if guys like Dave, watching this movie, could see themselves in this character and understand why others get annoyed with them.  Somehow I would think that he was weak, that he just got caught.

A bit of a challenge to watch.  3/5

The Angels' Share

The Angels' Share (2012)

As always director Ken Loach gives a taste of real UK life, one where people don't live in Georgian mansions, dress in Gucci and drive Bentleys.  We can tell that these folk live on Council Estates and eat beans on toast (yum -  me too).

A gaggle of folks find themselves in court on various charges and are sent to do community work.  Four of them form a friendship and bond after a visit to a whiskey distillery.  They then hatch a plan to make them some money and change their lives.

Enough said, I don't want to give it all away.  I was surprised when I downloaded the poster, as I don't think it is even close to the Full Monty.  The beginning of the movie is a bit realistic and grim, but it's charm came in the second half and the audience laughed and cheered.  They also commented a bit about the groups visit to Edinburgh, as I would think that maybe 80% of the New Zealand audience knew more about Edinburgh than one of the Glaswegian characters.

A worthy watch - 4/5


Cat Daddy - Jackson Galaxy

Cat Daddy - Jackson Galaxy (2012)

You get the gist, you've probably seen him on his tv series (I haven't, as I only have budget cheap tv).

 Jackson Galaxy had kind of lost his way in the world.  Addicted to pain relieving drugs, drinking and taking other drugs, suffering depression and living on the edge.  Taking a job at the shelter, after lying about previous experience, he finds himself drawn to the cats, and I admired his frank discussions about shelters and the euthanasia of so many cats and dogs who are abandoned, or unable to be rehomed.

After being fired from the shelter, he sets himself up as a cat therapists, and goes out to share his wisdom with people living with problem moggies.

Central to the story, is the tale of his own life with Benny, initially an injured foster cat who ends up living with him and ruling the roost.  I am a bit of a sucker for stories of living with elderly pets, and yes it did bring tears to my eyes at the end, so  bring your tissues.  4/5


The Woman Who Heard Color - Kelly Jones

The Woman Who Heard Color - Kelly Jones (2011)

I was impressed by the local Wellington Library.  I put this book in as a request to buy, and then within a month it was on the shelf waiting for me, and boy I do like me a brand new book to read.

I like a bit of historical second world war drama to read, and this was the basis of the story.  Lauren O'Farrell is an art detective, who is invited into the home of eighty two year old Isabella Fletcher to help find out about Isabellas mothers past.

Her mother as a teenager, leaves the family farm to go to Munich to see her sister.  Given a job in the household where her sister works, she becomes involved with the art world, and as her story unfolds we learn her secrets.

I did enjoy most of the story, but somehow in the middle I was left feeling like something was missing.  Maybe it was needing to know a bit more about Laurens story, or about other lost paintings.  For that I give it a 3/5