Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Dressmaker of Dachau - Mary Chamberlain

Ada Vaughan is a young London girl with dreams of being a successful fashion designer.  Seduced by a charming Count, she finds herself in Belgium as the second world war breaks out.  I really liked the idea of this book, as them time period often is one of my favourites to read about.  I just got a little annoyed at Ada, who seemed a a little too naive and kept finding herself stuck in a pickle.  I just wanted her to be a little stronger and smarter. Some of the story seemed to jump about a bit much for me, one chapter she was in one place, and then all of a sudden she was onto the next part of her story, and it left me wondering a bit.  Still the ending did surprise me, I did not expect it to head in that direction.   3/5

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Life in Houses - Margaret Forster

This is indeed a charming little book.  Author Margaret Forster writes about each of the houses she has lived in over the years, telling us not only about the dwellings, but about the years of her life.  The homes she grew up in, the house with a live in tenant that they lived in when first married, the tax haven in Portugal, the cottage in the lake district and the London house that has been mostly home for the past few decades.

It did make me want to figure out how many houses I have lived in - only 25, which seemed a lot to me when I had lived in one place for 8 years, and another for 10 years.  So many moves.  Each has their own story, their own characters involved with them and each holds different memories, most of which I enjoyed, but some I would dread to live in again.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Season of Salt and Honey - Hannah Tunnicliffe

Frankie Caputo has life all sorted out.  Due to marry her high school sweetheart, her world is turned upside down after a freak accident. Leaving town, she retreats for a bit of solitude, meeting some of the new locals.  Much as I liked the idea of this book, I felt a bit disconnected to the characters, wanting maybe more passion, more intense grief.  I felt instead, that it was a little bit too Nicolas Sparks light for me.  3/5

Monday, May 25, 2015

Music Monday - Lighthouse

This one keeps me going on the way into work in the morning. When I need a little perk up - which is often.  Must remember to buy a lotto ticket this week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Anchoress - Robyn Cadwallader

In 1255, seventeen year old Sarah chooses to become an anchoress, a type of holy woman.  Walled off into a small room adjacent to the church, she is tended by two women who keep her informed about the goings on locally.  A priest is allocated to hear her confession, and she is meant to spend her time in solitude praying and being of service to God.

It is hard to imagine a world where as a teenager,this would be one of your choices, rather than being married off to a man of your families choosing.  After being traumatized by seeing her loved sister die in childbirth, Sarah does not have many other choices and instead commits herself to be sealed in a cell that is nine paces by seven paces.

I really wanted this book to wow me - but I felt a bit flat after reading it.  The cover with the bird is beautiful, and I wanted more than I got from the story.   3/5

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Testament of Youth

If I don't have any other plans on a Sunday, it seems perfect in the autumn/winter months to escape to an early movie.  5 others had the same plan, even though I thought I would be the only one at the 10:45am session of Testament of Youth.   I do remember reading Vera Brittains book over 20 years ago.  Published in 1933, her memoir tells of how as a 21 year old, she spent a summer with her brother and two of his friends just as war was about to break.  Her wealthy parents thought that she should be looking for a husband, but she wanted to go to Oxford to study and write.

Such a lovely movie, I thought that everything was done so well.  There has been a collection of first world war shows on the television, all of which have been a bit stilted and overacted, with a local NZ production on currently being particularly cringe worthy.  It certainly helped that Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones, was the male lead, and I thought both leads were compelling to watch.  The moments of stillness, the subtle touch, the lingering look were all captured in a way that escapes many directors.  And so nice to have a womans voice, a story that still resonates a hundred years later.  A story as old as time.

A pleasant Sunday viewing - 4/5.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Royal Night Out

We looked around the cinema, and were pleased to see that there was only one other person younger than us there,  making us feel young.  Not just for a senior audience, we enjoyed this little movie, it made us smile and although we recognise it may not exactly be a true story, that the writers made a sweet little story enjoyable.  Both leads were charming and funny making the whole story watchable.  So this is the tale of VE night in London, where both the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are given the night off to go and mingle with the crowds.  4/5

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Me After You - Lucie Brownlee

Lucie and her husband Mark are making love at her mothers house, when he collapses on the pillow.  An ambulance is called, but at age 37 her husband dies.  So we get to join Lucie, and their young daughter B, as they try to adjust to his sudden death and how they continue on without him.

I do enjoy this type of memoir, a touch of real life.  Grieving I think must have been easier in the Victorian age when you wore black for a year and everyone knew what had happened to you.  You could shut yourself away and withdraw from the world.  Now we find ourselves in a world where grieving is not discussed, even though it will touch most of us many times in our lives.

Lucie does a good job of being real, and she is lucky to have the support of family and friends to help her through her tough times.  4/5

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Nightingale - Kristan Hannah

Vianne is a young mother in rural France when her husband goes off to fight leaving her and her young daughter alone.  Her younger sister Louise, who has been left at the orphanage by their widower father, now has to fend for herself as everything begins to change in France.  The Germans have invaded, and danger is everywhere.

Kristan Hannah is a good author, and was able to transport me to the era, I just felt a bit like I was reading a bit of a typical war story. I didn't really feel much reading the book, I wanted to feel scared for the girls trying to evade the Nazis, or feel the romance, but somehow I didn't connect with Vianne or Louise. 3/5

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Similar to Jodi Picoult, she is able to take a topic and give it a personal touch, a step into someone elses life. In this - her newest book, we meet Joe O'Brien a forty four year old Boston cop. Married and with four children, he begins to notice slight changes, dropping things,loss of balance and having difficulty writing reports. Finally - after a visit to a Neurologist he is diagnosed with Huntingtons Disease. A fatal hereditary nero- degenerative disease that has no treatment and no cure.

How his family deal with this, is the basis of this story, especially when the kids discover they have a 50/50 chance of following in their fathers footsteps, and a diagnostic test is able to predict their chance of also having Huntingtons. 

I have met several people with this disease, and people in the same position as the children, and it is such a difficult choice to face. I think that Lisa Genova does justice to their stories and the difficult journey they are on.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Music Monday - Heartbeat Song - Kelly Clarkson

I read somewhere on the interwebs this week, that old people (people over 40) shouldn't be listening to popular music.  Stuff the youngsters are listening to.  I get that - you don't want to see me bopping away at a 1D concert,getting down with Kanye,  but I may have a couple of their songs on my ipod.  I like Ed Sheeran, a bit of Meghan Trainor and a touch of Ellie Golding.  Hasn't this been the way for most people for decades - everyone enjoying a bit of pop music?

So this is the song at the top of my playlist this week - the one I like blasting over my headphones on the way to work.  Something upbeat that makes me smile and ready for the day ahead.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

X + Y

Aww I like a little British feel good movie, a growing up tale and this one I thought was very well done.  It is the story of Nathan, a teenage boy - on the spectrum, that has trouble connecting with his mother and most other people, and being generally socially awkward. After witnessing his fathers death, he is finding it hard to bond with his mother, and she herself is lonely and struggling. With an aptitude for maths, he joins several other boys and girls on a training camp in Taiwan.  Here he finds himself making friendships for the first time.

I took my teenage nephew to this movie and he enjoyed it too, it made us smile.  Maybe it was a bit predictable but I still liked its characters and like this gritty and realistic style of story telling.  4/5