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