Monday, March 30, 2015

The House on Carnaval Street - Deborah Rodriguez

Deborah Rodriguez wrote a book several years ago about going to Kabul and opening a beauty school.  This memoir follows on from that, telling us why she left Kabul and her girls and how she found herself in a new life living in Mexico.

I liked this sea change memoir as it wasn't all sunshine and roses on her move, there was a lot of uncertainty and doubt.  However finding new friends, helps her to enjoy her time and make her feel at home.  A nice read, it made me want to pack up and move to a Mexican town.  4/5

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Little Chaos

It has been a mini film festival this week, with two movies in two days. It was all helped by the aid of a voucher for a discount for two tickets - thank you friends.  Luckily the grey haired brigade are out in force in the countries cinemas, and the multiplexs are suffering as the teenagers and twenty somethings are out being too busy taking selfies or downloading to go to the movies.  So with rain forecast and a brunch date with a bestie, two tickets were booked to this one.

It starts with a rumpled Alan Rickman in the bed, so we knew we would would like it.  What is not to like?  Kate Winslet, corsets and beautiful scenery.  Just what us middle aged ladies like.  Personally we think Alan Rickman should be king - minus the knickerbockers, crazy shoes, big ugly wig, coloured tights and over powdered face.

So in truth this is the story of an independent woman, who gains her place designing and overseeing a garden to be built at Versailles.  A pleasure to look at and soak in, it just could have done with a bit more of a tighter story line.  I must say it was a pleasure to watch a movie where 95% of the actors were over 30 years old and not a botoxed forehead to be seen.  4/5

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Theory of Everything

I finally got to head off and see this movie this afternoon, and was so glad that I chose to see it on the big screen.  I was surprised, as I did not expect it to be such a love story, and thought the first half was very sweet.  Eddie is awesome, such a good job and he deserves his Oscar.  Such a nice story about an amazing man told in such a lovely way.  5/5

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

See How Small - Scott Blackwood

I wanted to like this one so much more than I did.  The first chapter drew me in  one evening in 1991 three young girls are closing up an ice cream parlour in Texas.  Two strangers walk in, and the girls are stripped and bound, then set on fire.  Pretty horrible but compelling.

The rest of the book, is then told from several perspectives, the mother, the father, the get away driver, the journalist covering the murders - how they remembered and were haunted by the deaths over the years. I found I was feeling a bit jilted by reading the rest of the book, the changing time periods and narratives were all a bit confusing, and I had wanted more about the girls, how this happened to them, and who did it and why.  2/5

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dirty Chick - Antonia Murphy

I haven't read too many books lately that I didn't want to end, and I could have kept going reading this one.  Antonia Murphy and her husband decide to leave their lives in the US and sail to NZ, and after a few years and two small kids find themselves housesitting for a year in rural New Zealand.  Left to look after the animals at the small holding they live in, they gradually acquire a rather motley crew of adopted animals, alpacas, chickens, a rooster, goats and dogs.

With their two young children, fitting into the local community is a bit of a challenge, especially as their eldest Silas has special needs.  It sounds like they found the perfect spot though with a school that is able to adapt easily to his needs.

I loved this honest and highly amusing story of novice farmers.  I guess a lot of us have dreams of a small farm, but after reading so many stories about animal poop you might want to change your mind.  I don't have too many illusions about it being easy, but this makes me think I would be mad to create that much work for myself.  5/5

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Skeleton Cupboard - Tanya Byron

I am shameful, I admit to going into the bookstore to stake out new books that I might like to read, with no intentions of buying any.  My little budget cannot afford to buy books, but I am a huge supporter of my local library.  It was nice to find some new things to read by browsing the shelves as there seem to be more and more published every time I visit.

I had seen Tanya Byron on the tele, on some of her shows where she helps parents with children with behavioural issues, and so was interested in this book about her placements during psychology training.  She gives us a glimpse of what it is like dealing with a variety of patients, the long term mentally ill, disturbed children, addicts,eating disorders,  hospice care, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Her training seemed somewhat brutal and I am sure confronting for many, as they are forced to deal with many difficult situations, sometimes with patients who are threatening and violent with minimal assistance or supervision.

Although a memoir, the stories of patients is a mixture of patients who she met, and real names and particulars are not told in order to protect confidentiality, so this makes it somewhat confusing as these stories often came across as a bit of a novel.  I guess, like many who write similar books, the real stories are often more dramatic  and bazaar than anything made up.  Still it was an interesting read, and I read through it quite quickly.  4/5

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Wild Truth - Carine McCandless

I felt like I read this book with gritted teeth and a headache the whole way through. Written by Carine McCandless, you get the impression that you are to learn more about her brother Christopher, who was written about in Jon Krakauers book - Into the Wild.  How he walked away from his family, changed his name, travelled the country and then walked into the Alaska wilderness with minimal supplies.  Living on an old bus, he finds his food supplies diminish, and his escape routes are impassable, his body is found later by a hunter.

When approached by Jon Krakauer for his book, his younger sister shared many of the family secrets but asked that they not be published.  Twenty years after this story, she now shares these and tells her own story.  Growing up with difficult parents both children were scared by their experiences and tried to distance themselves from their mom and dad.

Somehow I expected learn more about Chris and his story, but instead I felt trapped in the bitterness that the author feels towards her parents.  It felt ugly and raw, and just made me feel sad and then annoyed that I wasted so much time reading this book.  2/5

Monday, March 09, 2015

Music Monday - Maroon 5 Sugar

This is my new turn up song on the way to work this week.  It does make me smile,and makes me happy as I enter the building.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Not That Kind of Girl - Lena Dunham

Oh Lena, just like your tv series that you write direct and star in, you are one part entertaining with a whole lot of boring neurotic crazy thrown in that makes me want to turn off your show, or in this case  - stop reading your book.  Just because you  use the word vagina liberally,  does not excuse you for trying to be free and easy on one hand, and then over analyse each conversation or memory.

I have seen you interviewed in real life, and I found you to be charming and intelligent .  I am glad that you have a voice, that girls get to see a normal type girl on the screen rather than these 6 ft tall supermodels that seem to be in every tv show, and that you voice the average girl experience.  The one who struggles to get a job, to understand men and to fit in. You have girlfriends with real life problems, I like that part about your life and on the show.

Parts of this book were amusing, she does have some talent, I just found the majority of the book to be irritating and shallow.   2/5

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Still Alice

On Saturday it is a chance to not have a 6am alarm clock, and the sleep in til 08:30 is delicious, but slightly tainted by the menopausal bladder that has an inbuilt timer of 4am.  Still it is an opportunity to arise, and check the impending sunrise and pat the cat, and if the neighbours were peeking through the kitchen window they would get a glimpse of my middle aged underwear and tshirt as I passed by - luckily they seem to sleep soundly or appreciate the peep show.

So after a little brekkie on the couch, I did a brisk walk to the local independent cinema which is about 15 minutes from my house.  I had a voucher to use, so it was a free treat which was nice and me and one other early bird adult enjoyed the 10:50 viewing of Still Alice in a cinema fit for forty elderly bottoms.

I love Lisa Genovas book, and was intrigued to find that it had been adapted for the movies.   Still Alice tells the story of Alice, a just turned 50 year old New York linguistics professor who suddenly finds herself with some memory loss.  Diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers we get to follow her journey.  Such a hard thing to adapt a book which covers a long time period, but I thought it was handled well, with sensitivity, but also avoiding the usual Hollywood gloss.  As the movie and disease progressed, Alice looses her glossy look with fancy clothes and hairdos replaced with fleecy shirts and unbrushed hair and Julianne Moore does a great job of portraying the loss.  For me having her and Alec Baldwin were gold, but Kristen Stewart was a bit of a distraction.

 Feeling picky, I also felt they just got the house they lived in a bit wrong, it was a bit woodsy/arts and crafty, and they felt a bit more white wools and funky rugs sort of middle aged couple.  It just looked like they were boarding in someone elses aunties house.  Even the beach house was a bit wrong for them, I felt like both houses looked like somebody in their seventies lived in them.

Still it was a moving watch, and I applaud the team who bring such great womens stories to the screen - Bravo!!!


Friday, March 06, 2015

Ammonites and Leaping Fish - Penelope LIvely

This little book charmed me.  Not quite a memoir, but more of a storytelling of a life, Penelope Lively more reminisces about her life now that she has turned 80.  We hear about her childhood growing up in Egypt, her life as a mother, a wife and an author, and how the years and decades bring back vivid memories.

At the end of the book was my favourite part.  Where she describes a few of the items that have meant a lot to her over the years, and the stories of how they came to be with her.  So sweet and it makes you want to discover your own treasures and to be surrounded by beautiful things.  4/5

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Every Patient Tells a Story - Lisa Sanders

The author of this book Dr Lisa Sanders, was a technical advisor on House the television show, one I couldn't bear to watch.  Much as I got that he was a grouchy loveable character, the whole premise of five doctors sitting round for a week discussing one case, breaking into houses and worse of all - performing all their own diagnostic examinations seemed far fetched to me.  Working in radiology, I have never seen a doctor who knows how to take the scan.

In this book, Lisa talks about some of her more interesting cases and the whole role and importance of the diagnostic examination.  The doctor asking questions, physically examining the patient rather than relying on blood tests and diagnostic studies alone. That was interesting stuff, but somehow I didn't really feel the stories themselves were compelling.  2/5

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Girl On the Train - Paula Hawkins

I liked the concept of this book.  Rachel sits on a commuter train every morning and evening that gives her a glimpse into the backyard of her favourite house, where she often sees a man and woman going about their everyday business.  It sounded promising it truly did, but I could not get over Rachel - who to me came across as very deluded and annoying.

I really wanted to love this book, and get surprised by the big old twist at the end, but I just didn't buy it.  Maybe it will be a better movie than a book?  2/5