Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Being Mortal - Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande has written an impressive book, that looks at what really matters at the end of our life, how the inevitable decline in our bodies will happen to all of us as we age and how the changes in modern health care have changed how we approach the last parts of our life.  With changes in family structures, from a time and society that looked after the older members of our family in our homes, to them now living independently and then needing some form of care, often in nursing home or assisted living communities, it was interesting to consider the different approaches to care.

He also considers the way we deal with dying, how different approaches are used by clinicians, and how the use of hospice and palliative care can be used to help a person be comfortable and informed at the end of their care.

A sensitive and yet friendly book, I was touched by so many of the stories in this book.  The author shares stories of some of his own patients, his grandfather who died at 110 years old, and his own doctor father who faced a spinal cord tumour.

A great book to end the year on - one I will think of many times in the future I am sure.  5/5

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult

Oh my gosh, it has taken me a while to get another book read.  It has been a busy time of year, and working hard, I have found little time to just sit down and relax.  But luckily with some time off coming up I can tackle the book mountain beside my bed.

Ok there are a lot of mixed reviews about this book, and after finishing it I can see why.  Jodi Picoult is a great writer, I love her ability to immerse me in the story straight away and feel like I am wrapped up in it.  In this story, we meet Jenna, who is looking to find her mother after an accident ten years earlier when she was a toddler.  Her mother Alice, spent her career doing research on the wild elephants in Africa, til a chance encounter and a love affair bring her back to the US.  There life turns out to be more complicated than she thought, and we get to follow Jenna as she learns more about her mother by reading old diaries and enlisting the help of a detective and a psychic.

For me, I enjoyed the elephant info and it helped tell the story of the love between a mother and her child, but I did get a bit distracted by some elements of the story.  At least for me, I was happy to read a Jodi Picoult story that stayed away from the courthouse.  3/5

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sons of Anarchy

The Sons of Anarchy final played here last night.  I must admit to only ever watching about 10 episodes of this series, as violence is not my thing, and the amount of blood shed and murders on this show was always pretty high.  Still the final was playing just before I was due to head off for my night shift.  A bit of a bad mistake, as I sat and watched and the tears rolled down my cheeks.  Hello red eyes.  Then to top it off, as I had missed the first half of the final, I rewatched it this afternoon and damn it, I cried again!!!   Such a softie I am, but I thought it was one of the best final episodes of a show that I have ever seen, very emotional.  Now it makes me want to watch all the episodes from the beginning.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Walking Dead

Hmmm - I don't know about sticking with this one.  I know so many people looooove it, and i have watched most of it from the beginning.  It's just that i feel that it is going to amble on and on with more or less the same type story lines, without any real passion or emotion - a bit like Grey's anatomy.  There will always be zombies, and they only seem to move at one speed and you don't really get scared by them any more.  I think it comes down to the characters, you see they don't seem hungry enough, they always seem to find some dented cans but they don't look hungry, and if it was me, as well as worrying about zombies and the lack of showers or soap, I'd be worrying about where my next meal is coming from.

So I don't know - not sure if I will invest more of my viewing time when this one returns.  Oh and they seem to have a never ending supply of ammo and arrows - aren't they scared about running out?  Oh and petrol - where does that all come from?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Not My Father's Son - Alan Cumming

It is not your average Hollywood memoir this one.  Alan Cumming instead mainly focuses on his rather grim upbringing in rural Scotland with his mother, brother and  domineering and demanding father. A childhood spent walking on eggshells in order to avoid his fathers verbal and physical abuse, Alan is forced to look into his family history while filming an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?  The programme assists Alan into looking up what happened to his Grandfather, who died in Malaya in the 1950s in unknown circumstances.

After moving on and not having contact with his father for fifteen years, there are a couple of phone calls and one final meeting after the father questions their relationship.  You have to admire Alan for confronting his demons and meeting with his dad. His father still bitter and angry about what he perceived as an indiscretion by his wife forty plus years ago, and who failed to see what he had done wrong in the marriage to to his sons.

I did enjoy the book, but somehow came away feeling like I had been wounded and touched  by his horrible childhood.  4/5

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Saving Mr Banks

Oh I hadn't noticed til now what the shadows on the cover of the movie showed.  How cute.  You  know it should have been a bankable thing having Emma Thomposon and Tom Hanks in the movie, for they're good, so good they're great, in most anything they are in.  She has great legs and the most amazing voice, and he, well he fills out his suit in this one, and does a great job of Disney.  Just somehow the magic is missing, that little spark that makes a movie shine, that special moment.  Maybe for me, I've never enjoyed Mary Poppins, the movie always grated on me when I had to sit through it, as I never understood what it was all about.

Also the Aussie scenes didn't seem especially Australian, it all screamed Hollywood back lot pretending to be beautiful Brisbane which I am sure it was.

So sadly I have to give this one a little 3/5.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Miss Carter's War - Shelia Hancock

With a cold wintery summer day, and a day off it was a perfect time to stay up late and finish my latest  boo.  This book tells us the story of Marguerite Carter, a young half French/English woman who returns from undercover operations during the second world war to the quiet life in post war Britain.  After a degree from the University of Cambridge, she starts teaching English at a nice Grammar school.  With her we get to move the vast period of social change through the 50s, swinging60s and on until the 1980s seeing how fashion, music and morals all adjust and move forward.

With only small glimpses of her war life told to us in flashbacks, it was more of this story that I wanted to know.  I wanted to hear about the war, her friends and parents as I found her modern story a bit stiff and boring.  She seemed to be a great girl, a lovely friend and with a wide variety of interests, but somehow any passion or zest seemed missing, she just felt a bit hollow to me.  I wanted to love it more.  4/5

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sunday Shopping from Home in My Pyjamas

  This awesome arrow marquee lighttherustedkey is pretty awesome and starts off my browsing around for things I'd love for Christmas.  It was horrid out there today, crowded, cold and raining and it is meant to be summer here in New Zealand.  My coat got soaked through and smelled like old hamburgers (not sure why), and my hair looked like crazy Anna Nicole.  So I came home and put the pyjamas on and dreamed shopped on ETSY.
If I won the Lotto I could happily shop from home and stay in my pyjamas forever.  Oh so happy.
Anyway here a few more of my faves.  Lovely little silver diamond rings with either a white or a black diamond from FRomaG .  Very sweet and petite enough to wear every day.
This lovely tassle necklace from Vintage Fables in Italy.  Not sure that I am the floaty romantic type.  Still a girl can dream.

Although maybe I am turning into an old softy as I get older, cos I love this Jar of Hearts original painting from Golly Bard.  

A whole family group from Timo Hand Made would be awesome as you can get them made to look like your family.  Maybe not in time for Christmas this year, but wouldn't your crew look great on the shelf!!

A new bag for the summer?   This one looks sturdy and could combat all the summer rain we have been having.  Pink hare bag from Susie Faulks Design in the UK.

And finally - something for my best buddy.  A cat cave from Agnes Felt .  Of course Miss Pops is often reluctant to sleep where she is told, we still reckon this cat bed is pretty damn cute.

Happy shopping my friends.

There's Been Something I've Been Dying to Tell You - Lynda Bellingham

For me, this was an emotional read as you knew how the ending would go.I had seen a lot of tributes to her on television this year, and it was sad to hear of her death.  Full marks to Lynda Bellingham for writing this book which is really a chronicle of her diagnosis of colon cancer to her death this year.  She is a brave woman and does not sugar coat the roller coaster ride of diagnosis, chemo and ultimately facing death.

But rather than being a totally grim read, the story is peppered with fun stories from her life and full of the love she has for her husband and her children.   So sad that her time with them was cut short, you could feel her pain at the thought of leaving them.

I wish there were more stories about such interesting hard working people and real stories like this rather than all the pseudo celebrities we are force fed every day.  We could all gain some wisdom by listening to people at the end of their lives, taking the time to focus on what is really important and not letting time pass us by.

4/5

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Girl Under the Olive Tree - Leah Fleming

In this novel, we get to meet Penelope the spinster old aunty who is returning to Crete with her family sixty years after the war to find out what happened to her friends.  For Penny had been the rich ddĂ©butantedaughter who was happier doing her own thing rather than husband hunting in rich London society.
 Given the opportunity to escape to Athens to assist her sister, she finds herself meeting new people and training as a red cross nurse.  Stranded in Crete, she then is able to assist the wounded soldiers and locals as the Germans invade.

I love the premise of this story, but somehow for me the story seemed to jump about too much and the characters were some what faded or not quite as rounded out as I expected.  Also for all of the stress and horror that Penny experiences, I senses a lack of emotion from her, it didn't move me as I might have expected the story to, and I do cry easily.  Still a pleasant enough read and it did make me want to go to Greece and Crete to explore.   Ahh a lotto win would be ideal, for having a little Greek island vacation. 3/5

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - Caitlin Doughty

Like a lot of people Caitlin Doughty has always had a fascination with death and funerals.   So she decides to make this her new career  after getting a degree in Medieval History, and her entry  level job is to deal with corpses and  work in the crematorium.  With this small memoir we get to journey with her as she describes the collection and preparation of bodies, as well as her final job of their departure.

I am sure this book is not for everybody, but I think she does a fine job of making the subject  informative and entertaining without being morbid and depressing or turning it jokey.  4/5

Monday, December 01, 2014

Music Monday - Kings and Queens - Brooke Fraser


I have been lucky, and got to see Brooke Fraser twice live and she is one talented lady with a voice that I think is much better live than the tinny sounding speakers on my laptop can provide.  I am enjoying this new song a lot, it's high up on my latest playlists.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Still Life With Bread Crumbs - Anna Quindlen

Rebecca Winter is making some changes in her life.  As a semi famous photographer, divorced with an adult son, she is jittery about the future and what it holds for her.  Her finances are troubling her, with an expensive apartment in New York, bills from the nursing home her mother is at and payments for her father she can see the money slipping away.

So she takes a chance, and rents a small rundown cottage in a country town, while tenants live in her apartment.  Of course there is the new people to contend with, the man who comes to fix the roof, the woman at the coffee shop and the clown.  All normalish - which is good, because I do get annoyed when the oddball group turns up in a novel, ruining it for me.

I did enjoy this novel, as getting middle aged myself I can relate to her stress and money worries. I liked its gentle pace and Anna Quindlen is a great storyteller weaving tales from the characters present and past together so well.  4/5

Monday, November 24, 2014

Music Monday - Black Widow


I hadn't added any songs to my ipod for ages, so this weekend I bought a card and downloaded some new tunes.  So all day at work, this song was the soundtrack in my head.  Just the chorus - I'm not a great middle aged lady rapper.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty

Big little lies is about three mothers and their circle of friends, who meet up as their children are about to start school together. Madeline who also has a teenager and an ex husband who has remarried with a new wife and young children. Celeste, uber gorgeous and rich, with a globe trotting husband and twin boys. And Jane, single mother who is new to the area.

She certainly did a good job of writing about the blonde bob gang of mothers who drive SUVs to drop their kiddies off to school and then dash to pilates and coffee for their day, we see those women around at drop off time every day. I did find that I liked the book better as it went along, as something about the beginning of it felt a bit overworked for me and I was just about to put it aside.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The English Girl - Margaret Leroy

Seventeen year old Stella leaves England to head to 1930's Vienna to study music.  Living with family friends she is set to discover herself and some secrets!!  A good bit of pre war adventure that was another good holiday read.  4/5

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When the Cypress Whispers - Yvette Manessis Corporon

Just the way I needed to start a wee holiday of my own, a nice gentle and I hate to say Chick lit, so more like a grown up woman book.  A childhood being free on a little Greek island with her nonna was the perfect way to spend her youth, eating the local food and running around left to explore by herself.  Now grown up and returning with her own daughter,  she is to be married to her rich New York beau, and looks to reconnect with the friends and family that she has not seen in many years.

I guess then, that being clever you can figure out how the story ends, but I did enjoy this gentle ramble and it made me want to book a seat to a little Greek island of my own.  4/5

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

This little book had had such good reviews that I was expecting a bit of magic and for me the magic was lacking.  It was a touch of The Walking Dead (minus zombies) with another part Ebola virus (minus the blood and body fluids) and I can see how that is flavour of the month at the moment.  It did make me realise we would all miss our devises and the lights if the lights went out.

  I did find it hard to connect with the characters, and not one stood out to me and made me want to find out thei story, and even though I finished it last night I have no clear visions of the characters themselves.  It makes me wonder if it was all set out like a bad telemovie ensemble piece, you know ten B grade Hollywood types wearing cargo pants at an abandoned airfield/airport.  Ahhh - I can see the trailer now!!  2.5

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

So a quiet weekend at home feeling poorly was a perfect chance to watch a movie, when you can't move too far from the bathroom in case of accidents.  This is another movie that I am probably two decades too old for, but hey I read the book, and I didn't go to the cinema to watch it, as I knew I would leave with trails of mascara running behind me.

Like most movies made from the books, the book is better, but the movie is pretty good I thought.  It did a good job of capturing young love and the strange cancer world that Hazel and Gus live in.  Sweet with a touch of reality which kept it being syrupy.  3.5/5

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Pitch Perfect

You think I might have realised that when all the twenty something girls at work went to see the movie together, that I might have known that I was not in the target audience.  It was scary realising that you are decades to old for a movie.  Not like when me and a bestie saw 10 things I Hate About You, we realised we were about 8 years too old to see it, or when they made me go and see Step Up at about the same time.  In my defence, this movie was on tv, so I loaded up the DVR and recorded it and tonight sat on my couch with a bag of nacho chips and some tip and chilled out.

So anyway, even though I am too old, I do get that it is just meant to be a bit of fun.  Really, it was just an extended episode of Glee, although the lead Anna Kendrick is much more likeable than any of the tv characters, in a similar vein it was packed full of cheesy singing and  a love story that we can figure out in the first five minutes.   2/5

Friday, November 07, 2014

A Hundred Pieces of Me - Lucy Dillon

Gina Bellamy has had  a difficult couple of years, with a health scare and a failed marriage, she moves to a small place downsizing to the essentials she needs, both in her home and in her life.  New friendships and relationships force her to look at what will make her happy.  A bit of chit lit that we can all understand, the need for cleaning out and moving on.  A bit darker than the usual light ladies story, this one made me smile and I must to admit to enjoying this read while relaxing on holiday.  4/5

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Fury

So while I was on holiday, I took my 16 year old nephew to a date afternoon, and took him to see Fury at the cinema.  Sometimes movies are so big, and especially with battle are best seen on the large screen.  We must say that we both enjoyed it, sure it was violent and dark, but essentially it was the story about brothers.  Men brought together in war, who stick together no matter what happens.  We thought a 4/5.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Music Monday - Shake It Off - Taylor Swift


I'm bringing back this Taylor Swift Shake It Off video.  I've shown it before, but I'm loving it more this week.  Just the energy I need at the moment.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Finding Me - Michelle Knight

This one maybe wasn't the best holiday read, it doesn't seem like beachside reading, but as the weather at the lake was a bit hit or miss in spring, it filled in an afternoon or two.  I must admit to dread reading this type of book, violent crime especially to women and children leaves a sour taste in my mouth and makes me sleep poorly.  I had though seen Michelle Knight on the Dr Phil show, and was impressed at her stepping up to tell her story.

We know that news head lines, that in 2013, three women were rescued from the house in Cleveland Ohio, where they had been held captive by Ariel Castro.  Michelle Knight a young single mother had been taken in 2002 and held for over ten years, and subjected to brutal beatings and continued rapes.  Her descriptions are quite graphic and it was hard not to cry reading about the horrors that went on in that house.  Those poor poor girls.

You can only admire her bravery for standing up in public and telling her story, for providing a warning to other women and girls.  As a young mother to miss her son, and then ten years later to find out that he has been adopted into a loving home, and for her courage in being able to accept that he has a new life and to keep him out of the public eye.  I hope that she is able to carry on and have a new life and enjoy her freedom.  4/5

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Bones Never Lie - Kathy Reichs

So a lazy spring holiday allowed me to kick back and read a few novels in a row which was quite the luxury.  It has been a long time since I stayed up late reading, and was able to get up and lie in bed to finish off a book.  Oh to win the lotto, imagine the books I could read!!

So in this, the number 17th of the Dr Brennan adventures, Kathy Reichs returns with a little  bit more of the charm that made her earlier novels so exciting.  I do still find it hard to get my head around her being so much out in the field, and helping police out so closely and then going off and investigating by herself all a bit strange. Surely such an expert would be either using her knowledge in the lab actually looking at the bones, or where remains are found?  I also wish there was more science and less relationship dramas in the books, providing for me a bit more balance.   Surely the will they/won't they finally get together has dragged on for enough books already.

Still I am sure I will chug along and read the next one, and the one after.  I have though had to give up on the television series.  Much as I like the characters, the storylines are so unrealistic and Hollywood overdone that I find it plastic and dull.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Want You Dead - Peter James

This is the 10th and latest in the Roy Grace series by Peter James.  It started well, a gruesome death where you knew who done it while the coppers tried to figure it out.  I did miss though the presence of the moody Roy Grace, new dad and soon to be husband, solving crimes that other police can't solve and being able to figure out who the villain is before anyone else.

 Instead the novel spiralled off into the main story of a real estate agent who after a bad break up finds out that her jilted ex is an evil man.  I did so want to slap her and giver her a shake as she seemed so ditzy, and didn't seem to make any effort to avoid him, moving far away or changing her identity.

So I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied til the end.  The last four pages were good, and make you wait for the next one - to see what happens.  I must admit his cliffhangers always leave me wanting more.  3/5

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Awakening of Miss Prim - Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Somehow with this little book I just didn't seem to get it.  I couldn't tell if it was meant to be set in the past, the present or some imaginary future.  I get that Miss Prim was coming to some idyllic isolated village, and her charm and knowledge would make the man in the chair fall in love with her particular charms.  I just couldn't connect with any of the characters.  I felt like I wanted it to work better, but there was no spark for me.  2/5

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Hundred Foot Journey

It was a beautiful day last week when I had to drop the cat off with a huge wad of cash so she could have a specialist vet appointment.  I did spend the morning trawling the local mall before all the locals got there, but soon my feet were aching and my window shopping wallet was spent (alas all I bought were some baby clothes for a friends baby shower).

So  I trundled myself off to the movies with about ten other people to see the midday session of the Hundred Foot Journey, which is the latest movie in the pensioner movie realm, of which being middle aged I am now allowed to join.  It was sweet, and I loved the beautiful French rural scenes, although I was a bit confused by the European accents they did have the effect of making me snooze off several times, how embarrassing.  Still it was a sweet story about giving people a chance and worthy of a 3/5.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Music Monday - This Woman's Work - Kate Bush


I was wandering around somewhere at the weekend, and as the podcasts I was listening to ended, random songs started playing and this one came on.  Originally released in 1989, it is still as powerful now as it was then.   Just lovely.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes - Anna McPartlin

This book touched me in the sensitive and entertaining way it delivered the story of Rabbit Hayes and her lovely family.  We get to meet her as she is about to enter the hospice with terminal cancer, and join her on her journey of the final days of her life. It is not all doom and gloom, as we hear about Rabbits friends and family, the love of her life, her daughter and her youthful adventures. Wonderful.  5/5

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Gone Girl

This morning I was feeling a bit ho hum about going to a movie this afternoon, as the sun was shining and it seemed a perfect day to spend outside.  As I approached the cinema though a big pile of black clouds followed me up the valley and gave us a huge old hail storm that banged and crashed above our heads and dropped the temperature way down.  Luckily I was saved by being in a shop, searching out bargain jackets at the time and for your information I found two at the lowly price of $9.99 each.

So a bestie and I ventured out in the Petone Lighthouse Cinema, which always makes us feel young as there was no one in the audience under 25 and we were in the younger age bracket with the majority of movie goers being 60+.  A perfect cinema audience, no ushers needed, no cellphones out and everyone cleans up after themselves.

We did wonder though, if they would enjoy the movie?  Some seemed a bit confused at the end.  I had read the book, so sort of knew what happened, but didn't remember much of it.  I did think though they did a great job of keeping you guessing and although most of it was a serious movie, it did make us laugh a few times as well as cringing at the violence.  Both lead actors were awesome, and it made my bestie excited to read the book on an upcoming plane trip.  I might even give it 4.5/5 - pretty close to perfect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Personal - Lee Child

Boyfriend got a passport, new pants and a plane ticket to London - oh my!!!!  That is kind of where my excitement ended, as I have to admit to being a bit bored and ho hum about his overseas adventure.  What happened to excitement Mr Reacher, how did you end up in this boring hunting down of a sniper via London street gang that reads like a boring  spooks episode?  It didn't have any grit or humour for me, it just felt like a beginning and an end with a long long, dull middle.

But - I still love you Jack.  Just hoping it will work out, we've been together a long time. 2/5

Monday, September 15, 2014

Romany and Tom - Ben Watt

What a poignant  love song this is,  to Ben Watts ageing parents  In this memoir, musician Ben Watts introduces us to, Romany who starts off as an actress and then becomes a journalist, dashing off to interview Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton abroad, and Tom, her second husband, a jazz band leader who after changing fortunes in music becomes a painter decorator.  Fuelled by a fair amount of alcohol, their relationship appears to have its rocky moments with plenty of arguments.

Although it made me sad to read about their decline, the memory loss, the falls, the loneliness and despair, Ben manages to remind us of the fun times they had together, the loving memories that bind a couple together.  I do so like a book that succeeds in making me both smile and produce some tears, and this one did this so well.  5/5

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Big Tiny - Dee Williams

I must say that I am intrigued by the tiny house movement.  The thought of not spending all that money on a huge mortgage/rent and just living with the essentials really appeals, as well as the independence it seems to give its owners is great.  It is just the thought of no shower or toilet, and having to climb up a ladder to bed, or falling of the ladder in the middle of the night.  I also love stuff - I love my couch and my big bed, my bedside table and having more than three pairs of shoes.

So this was a really good read, I enjoyed hearing about why Dee Williams chose to build her little house and was amazed that she built it herself with little to no help, good on her!!  She seemed to have been lucky and was able to have her little home on the properties of her friends, and they seemed totally chilled at having her share their facilities.  I could see that wearing out really quick with my friends or family - maybe I have to use the bathroom too often in a day.

Certainly worth a 3/5 for more than a tiny read.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Music Monday - Shake it Off


Officially I am sure as a middle aged lady I am three times over the average age of most girls listening to Taylor Swift.  But I do find myself tapping my foot and singing along in my middle aged lady brain when the tune comes on the radio (that also shows how old I am - still listening to the radio in the morning).

Where I work, often the tv is on during the day for our clients, so we often get arguments about what channel will be on.  As most of the free to air channels are sponsored by endless replays of horrid informercials, robot roombas,  Wen haircare, pimple care and blenders, the staff are divided into the Al Jazeera camp and the music channel.  Now at least the music channel has changed into a channel run by the radio station, so at least we get some modern pop music.  Before it was run by depressed hipsters out to discover the next weirdo beardy band, with the occasional hip hop video of girls doing nasty twerking/gynae exams - hardly family friendly viewing.  So I have decided to stay neutral and not enter into the argument, although I do sneakily switch to the home channel every now and then.  To make the old ladies happy!

Four Sisters - Helen Rappaport

The author has brought to life the story of the Romanov family, from the marriage of the Tsar and his wife, to the family years right up till their murder in Siberia.  The title suggests that the book is about the four sisters, but I found it to be a more general description of family life.  I was surprised to read about how simple and isolated the family were, although they must have had their luxuries what with all those FabergĂ© eggs and all.

It is almost impossible sitting here a hundred years later after their deaths, to imagine in a modern world how such a leader and his family were able to be taken away and brutally killed.  I was surprised to ask around at work, and many of the twenty year olds were not aware of the story, one can only imagine if it happened to the pseudo celebrities of today, the internet would explode.  4/5

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Fictional Woman - Tara Moss


In this memoir, Tara shares her a lot about her early life when she began modelling as a teenager, it would certainly make you wary of sending your own young girls out on any modelling jobs after she describes eating disorders and sexual abuse occurring all around her throughout her career.  She then gave up her modelling career to begin writing novels at twenty five and became successful around the world, although this did not stop people questioning whether she had actually written her own books and making her the subject of gossip.

I admire her honesty, talking about the death of her mother at a young age, difficult relationships and the hard journey to becoming a mother.  As well as telling her story, she also looks at womens rights and how there is still a place for women to step up and take leadership roles in the community and business, how sexism is still all around us, and what she feels needs to be changed to get equal rights for all.

I did just feel somehow that I didn't want to be preached too, and that for me, this would have almost been better as two books, and by bringing both parts together it made it confusing. 3/5

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Darkest Hour - Barbara Erskine

Barbara Erskine is one of the best authors of the time slip tale, the one set in modern day that is connected with the historical fiction, bringing both stories to life.  I do love a good World War II story, but I felt with this one I wanted more.  More action or heartbreak, I couldn't quite figure out what was missing in the story for me.

So in the story we meet modern day Lucy, recently widowed she is left with a mysterious picture that was painted by war artist Evie Lucas.  Determined to find out the origins of the painting, and more about Evies private life, the stories begin to spin around her.  I loved both the characters, but somehow I didn't connect with them, wanting to know more about Lucy and her past with her husband, or more about Evie and her brother, more about growing up on the farm, or really about the War.  Evies world felt a bit empty, no girl friends, no dances, no workers on the farm or gossip at the shops, it all came across a bit bleak and boring.

So I left wanting more, more story and less pages, it just felt a bit wordy and long for me and felt like a long slog.  3/5

Monday, September 01, 2014

Music Monday - Budapest


I keep encountering this song on the radio, in shops and over the weekend saw the artist George Ezra play it with just his guitar making it even more haunting.  For a middle aged lady I am loving the music of this decade, how I hated most of the 90's/millennium big haired guitar music and horrible boy bands.  Singer songwriter is more me.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

This is the story of Nella Oortman, who after her fathers death is married to an older merchant from Amsterdam, after meeting him once.  Sent to live in his house, she finds it strange and isolating with his sister and servants whispering in corridors and behind closed doors.  In 17th-century Amsterdam, Nella finds herself without many freedoms, but after receiving the gift of a miniature version of their home she begins to feel change begin to happen around her.

I really enjoyed this little book, for me the right amount of balance of historical fiction with a touch of magic and realistic characters that I can picture in a movie.  Surely there will be a movie?  I couldn't wait to finish my lunch, so that I could read for ten minutes before going back for lunch, or diving into bed on a cold night, to stay warm and read.  5/5

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent

So this was the last movie of the Film Festival that I got to go to and it was an improvement on the earlier one of the day.  Telling the story of Yves Saint Laurent, from his early days at Dior through to the seventies, it was  a look at not only his fashion side, but his vulnerable moments and breakdowns.  I did wonder what the post school girls who attended thought of the movie, as it was not only centred on his fashion designs but also on his relationship with his long term partner and other men.

Still we enjoyed seeing the dresses and the music, and it was an interesting little film.  The absolute wealth of some of these designers is staggering - the huge country houses, the antiques, the parties.

3/5

The Wonders

Oh Cannes Film Festival, we think you must be drinking too much wine when you award some of these films.  The review in the film festival book made this sound like it was a sweet coming of age story about a girl and her sisters in a rural Italian farm.  I said to my friend that I didn't know much about this film, and I had to apologise for suggesting it.

The main character Gelsomina was sweet, and on the cusp of becoming a woman, and I get that the film was trying to capture that, the awkward time between being treated like a child, but being expected to be a woman working on the family farm, left in charge a lot of the time.  There just didn't seem to be any delight in the movie, no magic moments, no real fun and that left it boring and flat for me.  I didn't see the charm in the dirty muddy backdrop although the rural farmhouse done up could be awesome.  The parents were horrid, with the mother and father spending most of their time arguing.  The crazy television show plonked in the middle of the story just seemed stupid and cheezy and I really didn't get it.

So just a lowly 1/5 - and that is only because the combination of a warm movie theatre on a cold day just after eating brunch, and the gentle Italian accents caused me to sleep through some of the movie.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Still Life

Oh for me you can forget the big blockbusters and the crazy car chases, it is sometimes the quiet little films that echo and you remember.  This one was a sweet little gem that I am glad I went to on a quiet morning.  John May works alone in a little office, tracking down family members that die alone in a London Borough.  When no one is found, he arranges quiet funerals where he may be the only one in attendance giving them a solo send off, but with respect as he has written the eulogy for the vicar and selected some music that he thinks they would have liked.

In tracing his latest clients background, he comes across a group of family members that are about to change his life too.

I am sure I wasn't the only one who wiped away a tear at the end of this little movie, I was just glad to be sitting on a side aisle by myself.  Very sweet.   4/5

I Forgot to Remember - Su Meck

This is the story of Su Meck, a 22 year old married mother of two children who has an accident one day - hitting her head on a ceiling fan.  This head injury leaves her in hospital, with no recollection of what happened, her memory gone and her new short term memory affected as well.  It was an interesting book to read,the poor woman just was left to fumble her way along with little or no support.  It was shocking that her two young boys were often left in charge, and I was more surprised that she was allowed to drive anywhere when she had both memory problems and seemed to be having blackouts on a regular basis. She was so lucky that there were no major incidents where anyone was harmed.

You think about the learning to walk and read again, but I hadn't realised that people would struggle within their relationships, that they might have to learn to date their spouse again, or relearn how to kiss or have sex - all skills they may not remember.

Still with the support of her family and a considerate college, Su was able to go from not knowing how to read or write to getting her masters degree from college a few years later.   You have to admire her journey, when many might have given up.  3/5

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Dior and I

Oh my gosh, the stars of the film festival this year are definitely the documentaries.  So much more dramatic  and moving than any of the other movies I have gotten to see.  Tonight was the wonderful Dior and I, an inside look at the movie of Raf  Simons as the head designer of Christian Dior in Paris.  With only six weeks to go, he has to pull a couture collection together with the help of his team.

If you have any interest in fashion, this then is a movie for you.  The past few years there have been amazing movies about the fashion world, and this is one of the best.  We could have sat there for hours watching them put together the show - it was both moving and inspiring.  5/5

A Lovely Way to Burn - Louise Welsh

In a time when Ebola is hitting the headlines and it feels like it could sweep in and wipe us away, this novel is a timely tale.  Stevie Flint is a saleswoman on a tv show, when she becomes sick with what is known as the sweats, a deadly virus that kills most within days.  Upon recovering she goes to find her surgeon boyfriend, who is dead in a London flat, and she suspects that he has been murdered.

You know, I could see this being a successful BBC three part drama, and I did like the story, I just didn't quite believe in it.  She only knew the guy for a short while, and didn't know him too well - so I just didn't get why she cared so much, and why she pursued it so much.  I mean, doesn't she watch the Walking Dead or other apocalyptic disaster shows?  Doesn't she know that people are going to get nasty and mean?

I am always somewhat disappointed when I pick up a book that says it is book one of three.  It means it always is going to feel unresolved at the end, you have to get through the middle filler book before you get to the beefy finale and it might be years before the next book comes out - something my middle aged lady brain might be unable to cope with.

3/5

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Babadook

This Australian scary movie was written up like the  reviewer was terrified to sleep at night and had to check under his bed  at night.  I guess if I had seen it late at night by myself I may have been a little freaked out, but when I was distracted by the young hipster next to me farting, I didn't really jump as I might have expected to.  Samuel is a slightly disturbed child who becomes more agitated when he finds a book about the Babadook to read with his mum.

Let me just say this is a great movie for those folk who don't want to have children.  Makes me glad to have a cat.

3/5

Friday, August 01, 2014

Violette

Oh little French film, you were so serious and slightly depressing.  The old people in the audience, of which there were many, were complaining that the first third was so dark, as in filmed at night and outdoors, that they couldn't see what was happening.  We get that Violette had a sad life and felt unloved, but there must have been some joy - not just misery.  Best not to go and see it if you are depressed - a comedy it isn't.

Still it was a nice chance to catch up with a besties, eat a lovely salad and have some time out, but I have to say only a 2/5 for the movie.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Visitors - Rebecca Mascull

With echoes of Helen Kellers story, we meet Liza, a young girl who due to sickness has become both blind and deaf.  Frustrated at being unable to communicate, her world changes when a young girl Lottie visits the family Hop farm, and teaches her to be able to talk with her fingers.  This then opens up a new world to Liza and for the first time is able to leave the farm and venture to new places, to the seaside and to busy London.

Liza though has her own secret that she is then careful to share, she sees Visitors, the ghosts who haunt the places that they lived in or died near, and it is their voices alone that she is able to hear.

I did so enjoy this little book, the Victorian setting was so vividly described and the characters seemed real and bright, with a little bit of ghosty business tossed in - perfect.  5/5

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Under the Skin

So Under the Skin has to be one of the weirdest alien films I have ever seen I think, both in story and visual concept it is not what we are used to after seeing Hollywood overblown CGI movies of recent years.  Instead this one is simple in its retelling of a story.  We meet our unnamed protagonist, who has been removed from a ditch somewhere, and has her clothes removed by another unknown.  Then we meet her as she trawls the streets of Glasgow in her transit van, scoping out men by themselves.  That bit I found interesting, maybe it gives men an idea of what if feels like to be a woman out on the streets by herself.

Anyways I don't want to give it all away, Wikipedia tells the whole plot.  I might just suggest that this is not a movie for the kids, it is definitely an adult show, and a serious one at that.  No cuddly cute aliens here.  It will be on of those movies that will stick with me for a while with some memorable moments,  4/5