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.


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 dd├ębutantedaughter 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.