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.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Learning to Drive

There is nothing like going to the cinema in the afternoon, when there is only just you and one other middle aged lady in the audience, in the whole movie theatre.  Learning to Drive is pure middle aged lady material, no 18 year olds on their cellphones spilling popcorn here.

Patricia Clarkson is a middle aged book reviewer, who is undergoing a bit of a crisis (I don't want to give it all away), but basically you get the idea, she decides that she needs to get driving lessons so that she can go and visit her daughter.  Ben Kingsley is an Indian driving instructor, and they both form a bit of a friendship after all of their time spent together in the car.

Anyway this quiet movie made this middle aged ladies heart smile - jut the thing I needed this afternoon after a few dreary film festival movie choices.  4/5

Monday, August 03, 2015

Queen and Country

I remember seeing writer and director John Bormans earlier work, Hope and Glory many years ago.  His story was about a young boy growing up in London in the blitz.  In this follow up film, we get to meet Billy years later as he heads off to basic training for heading to Korea.

Here he gets up to mischief with his best mate Percy.  The chaps next to me at the cinema chuckled a fair bit throughout, and shamefully I must admit to nodding off a bit mid way through.  Damn those warm cinemas.  Although I enjoyed the story, I felt it more suited to a Sunday night TV special than a movie theatre, it seemed more suited to a more intimate viewing experience to appreciate its romance and comedic moments.  3/5

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Banksy Does New York

Oh you little documentaries, you are quite the pleasure sometimes, both entertaining and informing.  In October 2013, the street artist Banksy started a month long showing of his street art in New York.  Every day and every morning, clues would pop up on Instagram detailing where the days art would be, and eager fans would search it out like a giant scavenger hunt, hoping to view it before it was often painted over or stolen.  You have to admire the artists humour, as many of the pieces were so very clever and witty and made you smile, or they sent a serious message and made you think. 

We walked away thinking it had been a great little programme, and wishing we had been the kiwi girl to pick up two original paintings for $60 each actually worth $250,000.  4/5