Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Iceberg - Marion Coutts

Marion Coutts was married to Tom, a art critic and writer who was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumour in 2008.  Faced with a grim diagnosis, this memoir chronicles their journey. As Tom begins to lose his ability to write and then speak, their young son is beginning to find his voice and his presence in this story helps to make it bearable and less depressing, as they try to find Tom more time with his family.

Marion is an artist and writer, and her writing in this book seems part poetry/part memoir and like so many cancer stories the grief is raw and open.  4/5

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dancing with Myself - Billy Idol

Oh Billy, I am sure that you have been a very naughty boy over the years, and I did enjoy this little insight into your life.  I was expecting a little more sex, drugs and rock and roll with lots more funny anecdotes.  I somehow wondered if all the drugs you did made some of the good times slip away from your memory.  Still good on you for keeping your punk rocker looks all these years!!  3/5

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Yes Please - Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler has joined on the girl comedian bandwagon of popping out a little book, part memoir and part advice.  I get the feeling though, like a lot of these other girl books that they are about twenty years too early, that there is still a lot more living to be done and written about.  Much as I like Amy and enjoyed reading about her early years, I was a bit bored with the struggling improv chapters and the SNL details, only because I have never seen that show.

Her stories about being a wife and mother though were good,although you could feel that she was treading gently around these topics, and I would have loved a bit more.   3/5

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pure Joy - Danielle Steel

This is a simple little book.  Author Danielle Steel has lived a life filled with children, a few husbands and a variety of dogs.  But recently she purchased a little Chihuahua puppy Minnie, who was small enough to travel on planes with her between houses in the US and France.  This book is about the special bond she has with this little dog, and something that most pet owners can related to.

Quick and easy to read, this was a quick hours read while resting in the cool of the library on a hot summers day!!  3/5

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mrs D is Going Without - Lotta Dann

So Lotta Dann is your semi average  close to 40 year old housewife.  Married to a tv journalist and with two young boys with a career of her own, she finds herself at 5pm or wine o'clock every night downing a bottle or two of wine.  Then at every social occasion, she not only drinks to enjoy herself, but is often leaving the evening to hug the toilet bowl and be sick from drinking and hungover the next day.  She starts to realise she has a problem when she begins to lie to her husband about her drinking and hiding the bottles.

So Lotta decides that enough is enough and this book, based on her blog follows her journey to stop drinking.   An interesting incite into how many drinkers feel.  Like a lot of people I consumed a fair amount in my twenties but now in my forties am one of those annoying people who are happy having ten drinks a year.  In all honesty I lost the taste for alcohol and would prefer something fruity rather than a wine or spirits.  Still I found the book entertaining and engaging, much like the author who I had seen on a televison interview late in 2014.   I am sure that there a lot of people who can relate to her behaviour.  4/5.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Working Stiff - Judy Melinek

Judy Melinek is a Medical Examiner who begins her training as pathologist, a mere two months prior to 9/11.  The majority of the book however, is devoted to the everyday deaths she sees in New York, and I admire her blunt and opens style to telling us about how so many people end up in the mortuary.  Her advice is pretty much common sense, don't do drugs, wear your seatbelt and don't do crazy stuff.

She is able to give us a glimpse of a real forensic pathologists work, the days of doing autopsy after autopsy, unlike the glam girls presented to us on CSI or Bones, or many other books and movies, who seems to cross over and be part time pathologists slash models slash detectives and swan around solving cases.  The real job instead is spent in scrubs in the pit full of bodies and smells.  5/5

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Three Minutes in Poland - Glenn Kurtz

 Glenn Kurtz discovers a family film taken in 1938, as his grandparents documented their holiday to Europe with friends.  Within that movie, is three minutes of film taken in one of their home towns showing local people and businesses.  Little did they know that most of the populations seen on the movie would be killed shortly in the next few years.

So Glenn sends the film to the Holocaust museum and is contacted by several people from that village, some of whom appear on the film as youngsters seventy years ago.  It is their stories that help to make this a fascinating read.  It makes you consider the terrible plight of the Jewish communities who were destroyed in the war, how their history and stories were lost.  Also it makes you realise how our own photos and movies may get lost over the generations as technology changes.   4/5

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Italian Wife - Kate Furnivall

I have been reading a bit lately, but have fallen behind in the posting, so it is time to do a little catch up, just in case you think that I may have been on holiday, reclining on a beach lounger reading like a maniac.  The truth of the matter is that I have been crazy busy at work, tired and run down, and blogging has lost out to sleep in the past week or two.

The Italian Wife is a wartime story about  architect Isabella Berotti, a young widow whose life is changed when she is approached by a woman and her daughter as she sits and drinks her morning coffee. All in her life is about to change as the war begins to swirl around them, and Isabella is now not sure who to trust to keep her safe.

I did enjoy the unique war story and it was nice that the story was only about Isabella, and not interrupted by a modern narrative, as I am tiring of that form of storytelling. 3/5

Monday, January 12, 2015

Movie Monday - Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

My goodness I feel a bit of a fangirl, but if there was one book I would recommend you read in 2015 it would be Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.  You can see a clip of the trailer that Frontline have made from their documentary of talking to this important author.

                                                             Source unknown

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I'm a bit addicted to listening to podcasts as I walk around the city.  I discovered this new one on youtube though which is a great way to listen to it as you peruse the internet.  It is Carpool where British actor and comedian Robert Llewellyn picks up various comedians and actors and drives them to their destination chatting along the way.  This one with Jo Brand is a classic, there is Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs, Stephen Fry.  A good excuse to head out walking while the summer weather lasts.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Downtime for Downton Abbey

Luckily I have had some time off over the festive season, and as the weather has hardly been tropical with lots of grey cool days it has been nice to sit on the couch and clear the DVR.  Downton Abbey played here over October/November 2014, so I had the whole series to sit and watch in one big bunch.  I had been quite surprised to see that it is only just screening in the US, although there are so many different ways to watch nowdays it is hard to keep track.

So easy to get sucked down the Downton rabbit hole, straight back to 1924, I am loving the clothes and fashions and interesting to watch the social changes.  How nice it must have been to be rich in those days although I would imagine one would tire of getting changed for dinner each night, and having to do what one was told.  None of us are any good at that anymore.

So if you are still to watch - I hope you enjoy!!!

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Water Diviner

So today I was lucky, while so many kiwis were returning to work today after the holiday break , I still have a couple of days off.   The day was cloudy and it was beginning to spit with rain, so I decided to head out for a walk and go to the cinema.

Last week, I  went to the middle aged movie theatre in Petone, and today went to the one a bit closer to home.  When I got her ticket for The Water Diviner it appeared that I would be the only one in the little cinema, however just as the movie started I was joined by a couple.  It was a good movie, a good solid story about a father who goes in search of his three sons, who he believes were killed in Turkey in the first world war.  Nothing wrong with a bit of Russell Crowe we say.  Middle aged ladies like a bit of a rugged handsome middle aged Aussie bloke.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel around Turkey twenty years ago, and like most Aussies and Kiwis a friend and I made the trip to Gallipoli to have a tour round.  It is an interesting place to visit, a beautiful and  isolated small part of the coastline with high cliffs.  To visit the war graves was profoundly moving, to see the graves of so many of our young men buried so far from home.  For the Turks, a sacred site for so many of their own war dead, and they do a great service looking after the area and showing us round.

I must admit to having a few tears in the cinema, and just as the movie was coming to an end, the screen went blank and the movie stopped.  So I waited a minute or two, rubbed my cheeks, in case the tears had smudged my eyes and  then went out to let the young guys know who were in charge.  To their credit they came in and apologised and offered hot drinks.  I don't drink hot drinks, but they bought some in for the couple and they also gave them all free tickets for another show. They then played the movie, and I think they only missed a minute or two of the show.  Great service from them though.  So maybe another movie tomorrow -  a real mini film festival!!  4/5

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Big Hero 6

Last night I was thinking about one of my friends kids birthday, and so rung her to ask if I could treat them to the movies as surprise for the kids.  I had seen the trailer for Big Hero 6, so we met up for lunch and then took the kids to the cinema.  Like most Pixar/Disney movies it is so very clever, visually beautiful and with humour that appeals to both kids and adults.

Hiro is a bright young teenager who decides to follow his older brother into a university course specialising in robotics.  After a tragic accident he ends up looking after his brothers project, and searches for someone who has stolen his research with the aid of his new friends.  So lots of moral lessons and themes are packed into this movie, grieving, friendship, puberty, education, science, technology  all manage to be talked about without being too preachy.

It was nice to look over and see two young faces smiling and enjoying the movie.  I think they would give it a 4/5.   Not too scary.

The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes

Stella Sweeney is a woman with a bit of a story to tell.  Just returned from New York to her native Dublin, we get to hear how much her life has changed in the past few years.  After a devastating illness, she decides to leave her marriage and job to take on new opportunities.

It was a bit of a mixed bag this book.  Certainly funnier and more realistic that the last couple of Marian Keyes books, it wasn't quite the amusement that her first few books were, but that is the same of many other authors too.  I did enjoy the hospital half of the book, but felt a bit rushed through the second part.

Anyways it was a good holiday read, easy to pick up and enjoy and I do hope she carries on writing.  4/5

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Hobbit

So I managed to herald in the New Year in middle aged lady style.  A couple of the besties and I ventured out on a typical summers rainy and windy New Years eve here in the capital city.  We went to a trendy bar that served miniature versions of food and high prices that had chefy ingredients in them that we didn't know what they were, and were too cheap to google.  Mocktails were the best part - woop woop we were living it up.  The best part was - we were there by 6pm so at least we got a table, and left before all the twenty somethings turned up, the girls in their heels and short skirts and the boys in their beards and skinny pants.

Then we were off to old person cinema.  One where we are usually the youngsters in the audience, although one bestie was miffed that some thirty somethings had sneaked in on our turf and stole our spot.  Anyways usually the young ones don't venture here as they don't serve popcorn or chips and we like it because there are ample toilets.  You see we have turned into those ladies that now need to go to the toilet before and after a movie. Thank you almost menopausal bladder.

The Hobbit was so so.  It was mostly a big self indulgent boys model battle scene which was bit over the top silliness for me.  The drama was a bit over done too and for me I was more emotional watching the ten minute short film they showed prior to the film.  It was film about all the actors talking about the bits they enjoyed during the making of the films, which took over 13 years and filmed throughout New Zealand, a lot of it in our city.

A little bit of me is still miffed too, that a studio raking in millions of dollars from these films would demand that our government and our 4 million population of taxpayers would have to pay subsidies to get the movies done here.  For sure it kept a lot of crew in jobs and has bought a great amount of tourism to our shores, that I get.  But truly - no one likes a bully.

So here is to another year of movies.  I wonder what we will see this year?  Happy 2015!!!