Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What My Daughters Taught Me - Joseph Wakim

Joseph Wakim is a young father of three, when his wife Nadia dies at age forty leaving him to raise their three young daughters alone.  In this memoir he describes various periods of their life together, from having to take on house hold chores, do all the cooking, style their hair, buy sanitary products to letting the daughters go out into the world dating and driving.  It is a whole new world for dads to take on, and you have to admire that he was able to carry on with humor and lots of patience.  3/5

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Orpheus Clock - Simon Goodman

After his father dies in his eighties, music producer Simon Goodman and his brother receive a box of his papers, discovering secrets about their family neither of them were aware of.  Their grandparents had been part of a wealthy German banking family, owning smart houses and a vast art collection of both old masters and impressionist works.  After being murdered by the Nazis,  the paintings, clocks and ornaments were scattered throughout Europe and America and their father had spent much of his life trying to track down and claim what belonged to the family.

Simon Goodman decides to take on his late fathers task of reuniting the art back to the family, which initially proves difficult due to the reluctance of the art world, auction houses, museums and governments to recognize that this art was taken by force and under duress.  It is a fascinating read, and I was amazed thinking of the amazing wealth of the Guttman family and how quickly that was all taken away from them. 4/5

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is an extremely likeable character.  She is  beautiful,smart and clever and boy does she work hard, creating and writing her show as well as starring in it and trying to have a life in the little time off she gets.  She is pretty candid, talking about issues like her weight, her love life, and I liked that there was less emphasis on trying to be funny like so many celebrity memoirs lately and rather was more memoir  like.

So like most people reading this book, you walk away wanting Mindy to be your best friend. 4/5

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Chosen Queen - Joanna Courtney

I love a good well written historical fiction story, and Joanna Courtney  did a great job with this first novel in a series.  We get to meet Edyth, only fourteen whose beauty catches the eye of a king.  Her future once determined by her parents is about to change as they are forced out of their home and into distant Wales.

It was a joy to pick up this book and read as it was a world where so much could change so quickly.  Full of battles, Vikings and never being sure of who your enemies were must have made it challenging.  For women even more so, when they often have little say about who they will marry and how they could live their lives. 5/5

Saturday, December 19, 2015

5 Flights Up - Middle Aged Lady Movie Night

Currently I am hosting a few germs from one of the nice patients I was looking after last week.  So it was a day of pottering round at home.  I was going to have an early night, but instead decided that a little movie would make the evening better.  I had considered seeing this one at the cinema when it played here recently, but it was only on a limited release and seemed to come and go super quickly.

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton play Alex and Ruth, a couple who have been married for forty years and lived in the same Brooklyn apartment, 5 flights walk up with their senior dog Dorothy.  Now as they age they realize that it may be a wise time for them to consider moving.

This one was a sweet quick watch.   Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton made a sweet couple  nd are magic to watch on the screen.  It is easy to be mesmerized by Morgans silky voice and I could have listened to him talk  all night.  The apartment they lived in was lovely and as we all know about the trouble with buying and selling houses, the plot of the movie is not hard to predict.  Still a sweet middle aged lady 4/5.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Year of Yes - Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is the incredibly talented creator and writer of the television shows Greys Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and producer of another show.  She is a busy lady working 10-12 hour work days and bringing up three adopted daughters.  An introvert, she realizes that she is good at saying No, and decides to push herself and say yes, opening herself up to new challenges.  Along the way, she begins to see that she begins to enjoy her life more, that she takes joy in experiencing the moments, rather than worrying and panicking when thrust into the limelight.

I enjoyed the book and understand her issues, it is hard often to be introverted in a world where being an extrovert is worshiped, so I understand her instinct to want to stay home on the couch.  I just couldn't help but feel a bit talked down to.  3/5

Monday, December 14, 2015

Born With Teeth - Kate Mulgrew

I was thinking that if you broke down the formula of most memoirs, you usually find it divided into threes.  A childhood/growing up into adulthood, adult work and relationships and then their current situation.  Kate Mulgrew manages these well, telling us about growing up in a large family, her career as an actress and her relationships and life as a mother.

I learnt a bit as I only knew her from Star Trek and only realized through this book that she was Red on Orange is the new Black.  I wish there was more about the new series, but I guess that was all pretty new when the book was written.  Writing seems to come naturally for her, and she kept me entertained with her story telling. 4/5

Monday, December 07, 2015

Music Monday - Hello

Adele sounds amazing!!!  I keep playing this one on the way to work to get into my happy place.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Block

In NZ and Australia we are tantalized every year by a series called The Block.  Four young photogenic couples are chosen to do up four almost identical houses, renovate them, then they are auctioned off and they get to keep the profits.  Tonights NZ series finished tonight, and although I haven't watched it all I have tuned in every now and then.  On the whole the houses are pretty amazing and done in a modern relaxed style with lots of white, and black floors and grey details.  Certainly very livable and roomy, although I often wonder about their heating choices as they seem to have a heat pump in the living room, but no heating in the bedrooms and lack of storage as few have cupboards for putting the vacuum cleaner and mops in or enough storage in the bathrooms.

My big beef is that I think these shows have gotten a bit out of control over the past few years.  Tonights winner was sold for $1.35 million dollars, giving the young couple almost $200,000 in profit which is good for them.  I am glad that for all the hard work, all couples made some money and come out ahead.  I just wish that the houses were more affordable, more realistic financially.

I am not a huge fan of the NZ version, but I love watching the Australians as they have more access to a huge range of furniture and design choices, whereas the poor Kiwi cousins get to shop mostly at Freedom Furniture giving a bit more of a boring generic look.

With lots of home shows, I would love to see something a bit more down to earth and simplistic.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Way

This is the second movie I have seen about walking the Camino in the past month, and I have read a few blog posts too.  I am not taking it as a message that I need to do it, although I can certainly see the appeal.  I did want to watch another movie, but this one popped up so I thought I would take a chance and watch.

Martin Sheen is an Ophthalmologist caught up in his work and golf, and doesn't understand his sons need to travel and experience the world.  Then he gets a call, he is needed in France, and ends up walking the Camino.  On his journey he is joined by three others, who all start off as strangers but become friends - you know the story.

A good old 3/5.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Born Survivors - Wendy Holden

This is an amazing true story of three young women who enter Auschwitz in early stages of pregnancy.  While the rest of their families are killed, all three find themselves alone and it is truly amazing that they get to survive and deliver their babies.  It is pretty hard to imagine how these poor women were treated and the conditions they had to suffer, and this bought me pretty close to tears on many occasions.  The brutality is truly astonishing, it is hard to believe that anyone could have survived through such horrors and it is a shame that everyone does not know these womens stories.  4/5

Monday, November 30, 2015

Instant Mom - Nia Vardalos

Nia Vardalos is the clever actress who turned her one woman play about her wedding into the movie of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, after it was seen by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks.  While doing jobs and filming she spent several years having IVF treatments to try and get pregnant.  With no success, her husband Ian and her decide to look into adoption.  This book feels like you are chatting with a girlfriend, and I like that she is trying to write the book that she would have wanted to read while she waited to be a parent. 4/5

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Home is Burning - Dan Marshall

Dan is a bit of a self centered chappie.  Living in LA, at 25 he finds himself being called back to the family home in Utah to look after his parents.  His mother has been living with cancer, when his fit marathon running father is diagnosed with ALS.  With his siblings, Dan returns to help in the care giving of his parents and to help with his two younger sisters.

Part of me wanted to applaud Dan - he does a great job of helping his father out, stepping up when needed to help with basic cares and then more complicated chores as his father becomes progressively worse.  The other part of me wanted to give him a kick up the backside for being a spoiled, foul mouthed rich kid who needed to grow up.  There is a lot of swearing and jokes about sex, and I guess as a middle aged lady I am not the target audience for the manboy humor.  Still underneath that, this is a story about family, and what you do for love. 3/5

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Quality of Silence - Rosamund Lupton

Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska to meet up with her husband Matt a wildlife photographer/film maker.  He is missing after a fire at his local village.  Within hours, the two are travelling across the snow to look for him, however they are not alone.

An atmospheric story, I could picture the Alaskan roads, maybe I have seen too many wild road trucker shows on the television, but by the middle of the book I wasn't convinced by the story, it seemed a bit unbelievable to me. 3/5

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Message to My Girl - Dr Jared Noel

I first heard of Jared Noel as he was being interviewed on NZ tv, on his experience of being in his twenties and diagnosed with bowel cancer.  We got to see further updates,and read his blog as his journey continued with 40+ rounds of chemo and more operations.  Working as a junior doctor in Auckland, we got to meet his young wife and lots of kiwis who he hadn't met, donated thousands of dollars to help him have an expensive chemo that would hopefully allow him some time to meet his unborn daughter.

In this book, he is interviewed by the author for 12 sessions in the final weeks of his life, where he talks about all the things that are important in his life, his faith,friends, his career - but most importantly his family and his young daughter that he has got to spend precious time with.  4/5

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Oh Mr Bond, we do so love you, Daniel Craig wears you well in his tight little suits, although in the chair the pants were a bit too tight, it might have given him a bit of a camel look, not the look Saville Row was going for.

Us middle aged ladies did wonder if the producers/writers just set about making five action scenes, then joined it together with some random story line, as we found there wasn't much of a story.  We do get that there isn't meant to be much but it came across as too much style and not much substance.

We do wonder about what 20 year old writer got to write the love scenes?  How you made marvelous Monica come across as corny and cheesy with lots of huffing and puffing but somehow not sexy.  Just panting up against a mirror after a funeral is not the stuff of middle aged ladies dreams anyway.

We didn't get your new girlfriend choice either?  She seems like a bit of a wimpy choice. There seemed like zilch chemistry, you looked old enough to be her father and there was no witty banter.  Basically we decided she wasn't slutty enough, and we are old and grey haired, but gosh she was boring.

Anyway we hope you get to have a nice holiday and rest up, eat some carbs and  party with your closest friends.  You must be pretty tired after all that running about.  Put on your track pants, grab and beer and watch some Game of Thrones.  You'll like it - everybody dies.  3/5

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Age of Adaline

After a few weeks of shift Middle Aged Lady Movie  Night is back on track.  Instead of surcoming to the horrid shows broadcast on free people tv here in NZ or the usual rerecorded shows, I decided to make Friday night at home at least a little special.  Apple tv makes it easy to download recent movies for a semi reasonable price and with the washing done, the candles lit it is time to sit back on the couch and relax.

The Age of Adaline is the story of Adaline, born in 1908 who after an accident, never ages beyond her twenty nine years.  Looking fabulous of course, it becomes hard for her as every few decades she needs to reinvent herself and find a new identity and life.  Every time she falls in love she finds herself having to walk away, rather than having to be involved and share her secret.

Blake Lively is a beautiful creature and does a stellar job in this movie, I loved the styling of her outfits, how they continued with the vintage vibe and that she could be intelligent, witty and smart as well as gorgeous.

A great idea, I like a little time shifting/romance sort of story - I just wasn't wowed by this one.  There was a bit of a disconnect for me, maybe not enough emotional moments to make me love it.  I wanted more glimpses of a life lost, as the decades slipped away from her, and maybe moments of joy that she must have felt.  Maybe a cliche, but the things one would have seen being 107 years old and being that beautiful.  3/5

Monday, November 16, 2015

Without a Trace - Lesley Pearse

Lesley Pearse is one of those consistent authors who is able to capture womens stories so well.  She takes us back to the 1953 coronation of the Queen, where we meet young Molly.  Concerned about the absence of her friend and friends daughter at the village hall, she heads to their cottage to find out what has happened to them.  This leads her onto a new job, new home and new community as she seeks where young Petal has gone to.

A nice comfortable read with plenty of gritty challenges that must have been quite confronting in that time period. 4/5

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Belle is a movie about a real woman, Dido Elizabeth Belle who was painted next to her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray in 1799.  An illegitimate daughter  of a naval officer, she was bought from the West Indies to England to be brought up by her great uncle William Murray, the 1st Earl of Mansfield and his wife.  Life is not easy for her, as she is the topic of much gossip due to being illegitimate and her race.  When her father dies, she is left an income, while her cousin is left penniless after her fathers money is left to her brother.

Central to the story is Lord Mansfields work as the chief Justice who is involved in the case of the Zong Massacre, where the captain of a slave ship through slaves overboard, and then tried to claim insurance for lost cargo.

Anyways, it was ok.  I always have a soft spot for a period drama and I thought all the actors were lovely doing a fabulous job, it just felt like somehow they were a bit too modern, and I wonder if life was quite so easy for Belle.  3/5

Friday, November 13, 2015

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

Chiara Ravello has had a rough time, with her mother killed by a bomb, her partner taken away and her adult sister suffering fits.  She is intending to leave occupied Rome, when she  takes a walk early one morning  in 1943.  She comes across a group of Jews being rounded up into trucks by German soldiers and a quick glance changes her life, as she is passed a young seven year old boy.

So she then has to escape the city with her sister and this wee boy, to head to their grandmothers farm to seek refuge.  We also encounter Chiara as an elderly woman, when she is contacted by a young woman from Cardiff, seeking information about a young man who she thinks may be her father.  This allows us to fill in the gaps about what happened in the previous years.

I loved the premise of this book, but I found myself wanting to love it more.  Somehow I didn't quite click with the characters, I felt it lacked a little bit of emotion as somehow I expected to be moved to tears, but wasn't.  3/5

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Cloudy spring days have allowed me the opportunity to curl up on the couch and watch a movie.  When you do a lot of on call  you can't travel too far from home, and I have a lot of DVR to catch up on, so this was the chance to watch movies that have sat around for a while.

Flight is a vehicle for Denzel Washington and he does a fine job of being a troubled pilot, that saves most of his passengers after a big old crash.  The problem is that he is a drug taking alcoholic with a long history of impaired flying.  Just who you want flying your plane.

I just didn't enjoy this movie. The flying special effects were impressive, but that was only the beginning of the story.  I guess in the end you don't feel too sorry for Denzels character - he isn't a particularly nice or endearing character, and he is horrible to the people around him.  2/5

Friday, October 30, 2015

Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig

What an interesting little memoir, that I can only describe as completely raw .  We meet author Matt Haig, who fifteen years ago found himself dealing with a intense, all encompassing depression, that took over his life for a couple of years.  He is able to describe it in a way that many doctors can't, the pain, and crippling loss of feeling that made everything hard, the times when he found no joy in doing anything, when it became hard to walk, to leave the house, to be left alone, or to be with anyone, when books and music lost their magic, and when the world didn't make any sense.

What is also magical is that Matt Haig is able to articulate so well is his journey out of deep depression, how being able to run stretched his body and helped refocus his mind, how regaining a joy of reading helped to escape to new worlds, and the love of his family and partner helped him feel love. 5/5

Thursday, October 29, 2015

After You - Jojo Moyes

I'm a bit meh about this one. On one hand it was nice to find out what happened to Louisa Clark, how her life carried on, and I felt like her life carried onto predictable chick lit land where she encountered traditional chick lit characters.  I wasn't surprised by anything in this book, although it was a nice gentle read.  I also sense that this was a set up for book 3 - and book 2 always ends up being a bit of boring middle ground. 2/5

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Way We Wore - Daphne Selfe

In this little memoir, the author Daphne Selfe tells us about her life with her growing up through some of the clothes she and her family wore.  After some modeling in her twenties, she had a long and happy marriage and brought up her children, before finding fame as a senior model, and now in her eighties is more in demand than ever.  With her long grey hair and dancers figure she now travels the world for ad campaigns and magazine photos and is a much needed vision of woman that we need in the media.

I enjoyed her stories, such an interesting period to write about and somehow I wonder if there will be such interesting books from the youngsters now, if in sixty years they will be writing poetically about converse sneakers, skinny jeans, beanies and flannel shirts? 4/5

Friday, October 23, 2015

Make Me - Lee Child

Oh hot boyfriend Reacher you sure are at a crossroads, just like the picture on the front of this latest adventure.  Again we find you in a rural town wandering round discovering trouble.  I am not going to be jealous that you found another lady friend, I know a man has needs.  I just am disturbed that if you have no luggage where do you carry your toothbrush and your lynx (oh and spare undies too)?

The first 3/4 of this book felt dragged out to me, and I found it hard to believe that you would get involved in someone elses business without an idea of what was going on.  It felt a bit forced to me.

So buddy - I hope while out shopping for a manbag we can find you on a more exciting adventure.  We are close to breaking up but I am prepared to give you another chance.  2/5

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Martian

I had a middle aged lady day out today.  It started out lovely and sunny, but with a brisk breeze that increased throughout the day.  I thought the movie was on at midday, but it was only showing at 3pm, so I took myself off for a wander.  I had a lovely lunch, a chicken cannaloni and salad, that was light on the chicken and heavy on the broccoli in the filling.  It was tasty, and I thought about complaining, but I would feel embarrassed when I had scoffed the whole lot down.

A bit of shopping for a couple of small items filled in a few hours before I headed off the cinema.  There were a whole 9 of us in one that seated 400, so we all got good seats.  Anyway, such a good movie.  It is always a good one when one actor can hold the majority of the story and Matt Damon does a great job of holding the story together.  3D is often a bit of a gimick for me, not adding to the story and often distracting me making me aware of the computer generated images that annoy me.  This one was not so bad, but I often find I have to stop a couple of times to take the glasses off as they are uncomfortable and annoying.  Certainly worth watching in the movie theatre, I think these movies need to be shown on the big screen.  5/5

Friday, October 16, 2015

Big Eyes - Friday Night Movie Night

I have decided that this middle aged lady needs to treat herself on a Friday night - no more Coronation St for me.  Poor peoples tv has slim pickings on a Friday night, as all the hipsters are out mooching into their craft beers and munching on their paleo/quinoa/kale bites that they forget about us oldies at home.  Still I have a mountain of shows on the DVR and with apple tv access to a pile of movies,  popcorn is in the pantry and a cool beverage is ready in the fridge .

So this is the perfect chance to catch up on some movies that I had thought about going to see, but didn't find the time and at $18 to see a movie in town, it is half the price and with the comforts of home.  And I like the comforts of home - the couch and the fridge are cheaper than going out.

So Big Eyes is a biographical movie about the artist Margaret Keane who is famous for paintings she made of mainly girls with huge eyes, which graced many of our bedrooms in the 1970s.  Her artist husband starts by selling her paintings, and convinced that people won't buy lady art, makes her stay home and paint the pictures while he takes credit, telling people and journalists that is his art.

Directed by Tim Burton, the movie is able to hold its own stylistically with beautiful sets with lovely saturated colour and convincing street scenes.  Amy Adams is always a delight to watch, her shy and awkward portrayal of the artist makes it an interesting watch.  I like period pieces, wondering if a modern woman would stand for being treated the same way we see Margaret being treated.  How now being a single mother, she would be able to live life the way she wanted and have the success for herself rather than having to hide behind her husband.


Friday, October 09, 2015

Hope - Amanda Berry + Gina DeJesus

We all know the story now, of how three young Cleveland women get to escape from being imprisoned in a house for years.  In this book Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus get to tell their own stories, and it is a pretty honest and brutal, especially making me nervous about letting your kids know to never take a lift from a stranger, even if he is someone you recognize.  Delusional and controlling, this monster keeps these three girls chained up in his house, abusing them daily.

You have to admire their courage to survive to be able to see their families again, and to get on with living a normal life after their escape.  Especially as a female, I think this book resonates so much with me, as it tells the story of being taken by the boogie man, yet I love that these three women have each stood up and given interviews and written their stories down, taking his power away and reclaiming theirs. 5/5

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Breakfast, School Run, Chemo - Julia Watson

Julia Watson was a young mum of four, trying to study and juggle home life with her husband when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.  This book chronicles her life from diagnosis to now, and includes many of her published articles and blog posts.  You have to admire the girl, and I loved her honesty about her struggle, especially when people think you should be upbeat all the time and look at the positives.  It's pretty rubbish being told you have a terminal illness, and you can understand her fear of leaving her family and her lovely life.  Terrifying stuff.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Dog Master - W. Bruce Cameron

This book is about the imagined step of pre historic man, who took the step of turning a wolf into a pet, going from being hunted to being a team.  Centered on two different small tribes, both trying to survive by hunting the food and keeping the family members alive while surviving the elements, and being killed themselves.

I did enjoy the book, it is well written and entertaining, but I couldn't help but feel a bit jaded from the Clan of the Cave bear memories, especially as the book ended in a place that you know that there is another book waiting in the wings.  I just hope there are not another 7 - I don't have it in me to do a long series.

So as I head to bed I am grateful for my quilt, electric blanket and feather pillows, knowing that I would have been a rubbish cave woman, running and chasing and sleeping rough are not my things. 3/5

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Fear the Darkness - Becky Masterman

Oh I liked the look of this book on the shelves, and picked it up from the library.  Bridgid Quinn is a 60ish year old retired FBI agent, trying to settle in the suburbs of Tuscon.  She is asked to take on her brothers niece to prepare her for university.  I liked that I thought I could guess where this one was going, but the ending did surprise me, as there were a few unexpected twists and turns to keep the story fresh.

This is the second book, the author has written about this character, so I am looking forward to reading her earlier story.  4/5

Monday, September 28, 2015

Walking the Camino

I had been thinking about seeing this one for ages, and kept finding other things to do.  Today though was a day off, so I decided that as it was school holidays it was best to avoid the mall and go to the cinema instead.  The Camino de Santiago is a 800km walk from a small town in  Southern France across the north of Spain arriving in Santiago.  Originally a pilgrim walk done  for the past 1200 years, many now follow the same paths for a variety of reasons.  This documentary follows six different people on their journey.  It was an interesting group of people they follow  and I was surprised with the variety of folks walking along, from the very young (a 3 year old with his mother) to more senior citizens.

It did make me want to pack a little backpack and take a journey along, although the thought of not washing your hair for a month and the big blisters make me sure that I would be whining by the second day.  Might be hard too if you don't fancy sleeping next to snoring smelly strangers - but I guess you get over that pretty soon.  A worthy 4/5.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Circling the Sun - Paula McLain

Paula McLain is a lovely writer, within a couple of pages I was transported to the 1920s in rural Kenya where we meet a young Beryl roaming free training horses.  Deserted by her mother, she lives with his father and his partner and in order to escape she marries young, and ends up trapped in a marriage she doesn't want.  Fighting for her independence in a very repressed and judgemental society, she keeps forging ahead, making decisions that woman today take for granted.

I liked Beryl and greatly admired the person she was and the brave choices she made to survive, but couldn't help but feel that the first 3/4 of the book was a little drawn out and the last 1/4 was edited down and felt rushed.  Still the power of the author to draw you in and keep your interest makes this a great read. 4/5

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I was surprised to find that another eleven folks turned out on a cold and wet Sunday morning to the 10:30am session to see Everest.  I was looking forward to seeing this one, and a busy week ahead meant that I had to see it by myself, which I don't mind during the day.  In NZ, we are all familiar with the story it tells.  Rob Hall was a NZ mountaineer who led paid customers to summit Mt Everest as part of his company.  In May 1996 his team leads a group of 7 to summit, as well as other groups who intend to take the same journey.  A variety of decisions and a blizzard led to 8 deaths on the mountain, one of the deadliest days in the history of mountain climbing.

I feel a bit conflicted about watching the movie in 3D.  Parts of it help to show the majesty and scale of the movie and help making the action scenes more dramatic, but parts of it make you feel like you are watching the movie through a viewfinder and make it feel stited and not put together.  There seems to not be a seamless transition that you would expect through the 2D-3D parts, making it for me feel stitched together and comes across as a gimmick.  The attempts at a Kiwi accent were also a bit of a challenge, a difficult one for overseas actors and actresses to manage.

I did enjoy the story, and even though I knew the ending it did bring a tear to the eye of this middle aged lady.  It did leave me with the feeling that this mountain should maybe left alone, and that anyone climbing must be partly crazy.  4/5

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Fixer - Joseph Finder

Rick loses his girlfriend, his job and his apartment.  He returns to his fathers house to sleep on the couch, and when he tries a bit of renovation and takes the wall off, finds a stack of notes hidden in the house. He then chases round town trying to find out where the money comes from, while being chased by baddies.

Entertaining and reasonably paced, I couldn't help but think that if it was me, I would have sold the house, split the money with the sibling and gone to live somewhere remote.  Wouldn't make a great story would it?  I kept thinking some people really like drama, getting into everyones business. 3/5

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Marriage of Opposites - Alice Hoffman

I loved this book - and found myself transported to the small Caribbean island of St Thomas and to the grey streets of Paris. A little slow to start, but I was quickly transfixed by this lovely author.  All the characters were wonderful, I could picture them all, and the ramshackle collections of homes they lived in, to the large lizard in the garden.

Rachel, the headstrong daughter dismissed by her stern mother and convinced to marry an older widower when just sixteen.  Her own journey as a mother and then finding herself a mother to a son who wants to rebel against what is expected of him.  A story as old as time, but still fresh and even though based on a true story it was just lovely. 4/5

Monday, September 14, 2015

Music Monday - Kings and Queens - Brooke Fraser

This song has been in my  head for weeks.  They are using it as the theme song for the kiwi Masterchef programme,  I was lucky enough to see her in concert a couple of times over the years, such an awesome performer and lovely woman.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Last Act of Love - Cathy Rentzenbrink

Just as school finishes, promising student Matty and his sister Cathy have a night out.  Returning home earlier, Cathy is pulled outside to find that Matty has had an accident and has to go to hospital straight away.  In this poignant memoir we join Cathy and her parents as they first sit by Mattys bedside at hospital after his Traumatic Brain Injury and as they care for him at home.

As the years go by, with no dramatic change the family realize that there is a fate worse than dying, and how their own lives are impacted by the care of Matty.  It is so hard to forgive yourself when you know you are grieving for someone while they are still alive, which is a feeling that I know many caregivers share and anybody that has lived with somebody at the end of the their lives understands.  Yet this story is about love, the love for Matty and wanting the best for him.  4/5

Monday, September 07, 2015

Music Monday - Walk the Moon - Shut Up and Dance (Movie Dance Compilation)

This music clip made me smile - just what I needed after a busy Monday - makes you want to dance around!!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

First Impressions - Charlie Lovett

Isn't it a joy when you enjoy a few books in a row?  Simple things make me happy.  I was glad to have picked this one up off the shelves.  We join into Jane Austens world as she makes a new unlikely friendship, and modern day Sophie who shares a love of reading with one of her uncles. Her family have a large country homes, but with constant costly repairs needed, there is a sell off of old books and Sophie is forced to go searching for several important volumes that may contain a secret relating to their family connections.

I did enjoy reading a book about book lovers written by a lover of books. 4/5

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

After This - Claire Bidwell Smith

I loved this book, a combination of memoir and stories about death that is perfect to me, and am tempted to recommend all my friends to read, although some will not be sure of the material.  Claire Bidwell Smith, is a young mother who works in grief counselling at a hospice and has written an earlier book about the death of her mother and father.  Scarred by their deaths, she finds herself worrying about what would happen to her daughters if she died young.

So she seeks to find out what happens after you die.  Do you just disappear, is there something after death, does your spirit go to heaven, to hell, is there anything?  We join her as she visits psychics, shamans, mediums, churches, Rabbis, yoga retreats, Bali and other places where she seeks out her answers.  As well as the loss of her parents, two of her young girlfriends die, and this loss is also devastating for her, stirring up new emotions and questions.

Spaced throughout the book are beautiful letters that the author writes for her daughters - to tell them about herself and the way she lives her life, and how proud she is of them, how much she loves them.  How lovely for the girls to know this, that if she were to die that they have these fragments of love to pick up and read and discover their mum. 4/5

Sunday, August 30, 2015

You Are Dead - Peter James

Oh Roy Grace you sexy beast, for what is sexier to middle aged lady readers than a sensitive, smart and funny detective who loves his lady, his fish and his little son to pieces?  Then there are the young woman who are being abducted in Brighton, plucked from the street or from their homes, which always kind of freaks me out.  Part of me loves a thriller, but I do wrestle with  the number of books and films that portray violence towards women - quite the conundrum. 4/5

Monday, August 24, 2015

Music Monday - Major Lazer - Powerful (feat Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley)

I'm loving this song at the moment.  She has a beautiful voice old Ellie Goulding and lovely phrasing.  My little ipod is just full of great tunes at the moment - it keeps me happy to listen as I walk around at the weekend or to and from work.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dreamland - David K Randall

After injuring himself one night in his sleep, the author decided to look into what we knew about sleep.  The answer is of course that we know very little, even though we spend a third of our life conked out.  There were some interesting points - how our ancestors slept, with a first and second sleep and a break often around midnight. How the invention of the light bulb changed what we did at night, how we worked and made night shifts a  possibility.  The importance of sleep on those in the military, and how they have changed how they let some soldiers sleep.

Personally I think the ability and type of sleeping is genetic.  Most of my family are lucky, and have an ability to just lie down and sleep whenever we want, in fact I think we have a sleepy gene when many of my friends have the opposite.  It can take them hours to drop off to sleep and stay asleep.

So I learnt a bit, and but I was left wanting more.  So go scientists go - hope you find out more soon. 3/5

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Documentries are so rocking my movie loving world this year.  It shocked me a little that I wasn't watching a movie made currently, but this movie was made up of video, photos and footage of Amy Winehouse from when she was a young 16 year old entering the entertainment industry, to her erly death at 27.

Back in Black is one of my favorite albums - I listen to it all the time, but seeing this movie you see the raw talent and enormous strength of her voice and her amazing songwriting skills.  There was certainly something about this girl, her charisma was amazing, and her ability to light up a room as she sung was a beautiful thing to see.

It was however so hard to watch the second half of the movie, as you could see how bulimia, drugs, alcohol and depression caused her to withdraw and shut down.  Even though I know how it all went, it made me teary watching it.  She just seemed a vulnerable little thing, who needed somebody to take care of her, instead it seemed she was thrown to the wolves, and no one was there to step in and protect her.  Definitely  an adult watch 5/5

Friday, August 21, 2015

Late Fragments - Kate Gross

This is a small little memoir, telling a big story.  It is about Kate, who has a great job, a wonderful husband, and two lovely little boys, who at 34 discovers she has stage 4 bowel cancer.  Facing a poor prognosis we join her for her journey, and she guides us along, telling us to appreciate what we have, be grateful for each day and love the friends and family we have.

I am always touched in some way by this type of book, for they all hold some small wise wisdom and are reminders of our own mortality. 4/5

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fat Girl Walking

Oh Brittany you write a good book girl.  I loved this little memoir about what it is like to grow up us the fat girl and be the target of everyones comment.  Because if you are heavy, everybody likes to comment on what you eat, and what you wear and what you should do to be skinny.  I think she does a fab job of combining truth and humor, of being funny without being over the top silly like so many modern memoirs.

The main message is about accepting yourself whatever size you are skinny or fat.  That for a lot of us we don't giver ourselves permission to be happy as we are, we sit around waiting to be happy once we have lost 50 pounds or lost four dress sizes.  We need to hear these voices, especially our young girls who are presented with one cookie cutter look that they have to be skinny to be cute or loved. 4/5

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Small Act of Kindness - Lucy Dillon

Libbys life has changed, she has gone from being a London business woman to helping her mother in law run her rural hotel and helping her husband balance the books.  Then there is an accident, and Libby once again steps into help.

I did enjoy the characters, and although slow it was a bit of a journey discovering about their lives as not all was given away at the beginning of this novel.  To me though after a long meandering beginning there was a rush to the end, and I was left wanting a bit.  I wanted to find out what happened to all the characters, who got back together, who hooked up, who drifted apart.  3/5

Sunday, August 16, 2015


So I took my 19 year old niece to this one - what a nice aunt I am.  Amy is a 30ish lush of a girl who has plenty of one night stands and is not looking for a relationship, and in fact she mocks others who want that lifestyle.  Then of course she finds love, and that changes how she thinks.

Normally I am not a fan of this type of movie, by Amy Shumer, who also wrote the movie I think has done a fab job.  Bridesmaids was ok - but it just seemed to me to be a series of skits that started off funny but lapsed at the end.  Whereas I think this one is more steady throughout.  Although I hate the line on the poster where it has to say it is from the guy who bought you Bridesmaids - why does it need to say that?

So it was a bit crude and full of sexual jokes and a few sex scenes so definitely one for the adults.  3/5

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Theft of Memory - Jonathan Kozol

It is hard not to be moved by this memoir, as Jonathan Kozols father Dr Harry Kozol, a noted psychiatrist is affected by  advancing memory loss. We meet him when he is beginning to realize that his memory is failing, as his notes become more confused and continue as he gradually loses more functions, requiring assistance in walking, bathing and eating.   He obviously loves his parents, and his care of them is top notch, continuing to visit both of his elderly parents on a regular basis and supporting them as they age.

The book left me with some important impressions - the importance of discussing with your loved ones about what their wishes are as they age, what would be acceptable for them, what they would want if they were unable to make choices for themselves, that discussing a dnr (do not resusitate) order with next of kin is not about doctors wanting to save money or be lazy - but is about letting nature take its course and allowing a patient (especially a frail elderly patient with a limited quality of life) a natural death rather than violently doing cpr and other interventions that may just prolong the process.

I would certainly recommend that if you read this book, make sure you read Atul Gawandes fabulous book Being Mortal.  4/5

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll

To me this felt like a book of two halves.  The fist half is about Ani, a girl who has fashioned herself into a perfect fiance, with hours spent in the gymn, never eating a carb, designer clothes and shoes, the perfect hairstyle and the perfect upper class rich man to marry. Then in the second half we get to find out about her past, the reasons she wants to better herself and hide her background.

Without giving it all away, I did enjoy the beginning of the book more than the second part, but somehow it felt a bit forced to me, all a bit contrived. 3/5

Friday, August 07, 2015

Saint Laurent

Oh my gosh.  The best part about the movie, was that it was  rather chilly outside, and it was nice to n be warm inside the cinema, although this was 2 and a half hours I would rather have back.

 The most reaction the audience had with the movie was a scene with a dog.  There just seemed to be no joy in this movie, it flittered from scene to scene, one more depressing than the next, with a few gay sex scenes thrown in which I guess were meant to be shocking, but just seemed a bit dull, and lots and lots of drug taking and lots of bad music that didn't seem to add to the movie, but made it more annoying.  A big old 1/5 from me.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Second Mother

The Second Mother is a Brazilian film, which is centered around Val, a live in housekeeper in a wealthy Sao Paulo suburb.  She works hard for the trendy mother, layabout father and neglected teenage son, cooking and cleaning.  Things get changed up when her own daughter Jessica comes to stay.

The mostly grey haired lady audience enjoyed this little movie.  Especially in our society where people don't have maids or housekeepers, well some may have housekeepers but generally they only come in for an hour or two a week.  We were all a bit shocked when we heard on the movie, that the last time Val had seen her daughter was ten years ago.  It does seem to be the way many people in the world live, people whose domestic situation force them to work overseas to fund their families.

It was an extremely likable movie, especially Val, we all loved her and the devotion to the son she looked after, although one scene made me think she had taken it a bit too far.  So a 4/5.