Saturday, December 31, 2016

Romance is My day Job - Patience Bloom

This little memoir looks like it is my final read for 2016, and it left me with a smile on my face which was nice.  It is the story of Patience, who spends a lot of her life dreaming about the one, the one dream man who will love her forever.   Instead she gets a bunch of mostly useless boyfriends.

As well as loving romance novels with Fabio on the cover, she ends up working at Harlequin yet she struggles with her own relationships.   However things change when in her forties she reconnects with an old friend.

Enjoyable and light hearted I felt like I was talking to a good friend reading this book, always the best kind of read.  4/5

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Radium Girls - Kate Moore

This was one of the stories I knew a little about.  How in the early 20th century, young women working at watch factories were trained to lick the end of their brushes leading to many of them getting Radium poisoning.

I was unaware of how many of this young female workforce died, how quickly it happened and how horribly these poor girls suffered.  The doctors at the time I guess knew  no better, but the women had a tough time getting appropriate medical help or any support from the management or owners of the company's they worked for.

It would be unbelievable if it was a fictional plot, yet it still felt in parts like I was reading a horror novel.  I was dumbfounded at the end to discover that the sites where the factories were are still toxic, but the public still seems vulnerable.  5/5

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Living Death - Graham Masterton

This is number 7 in the DS Katie Maquire series, that combines crime and verges a bit into horror in some parts.  The torture of both humans and animals in this one was almost enough to make me stop reading. I also was a bit disappointed by Katie's treatment of her boyfriend John, I found that all a bit out of character.

So although the story seemed to be based on real life criminal behavior it grossed me out a bit too much this time. 3/5

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Truly, Madly, Guilty - Liane Moriarty

Hmm mm, I percivered with this one but came away a bit annoyed that I invested so much time.  It is the story of two friends and their husbands who attend a barbecue at a neighbors house.  The story then shifts from before, to the day off and afterwards which although a useful vehicle for moving the story, became a bit annoying by the end.

The main disappointment for me was that I didn't like any of the characters, which seems to happen a lot lately.  Maybe it's just me!!  3/5

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One

Family, kiss, run, shoot,shoot,run,fly,shoot,run,fly,run,shoot,fly,run,shoot,shoot,fly,Lego,shoot,shoot,fly,climb,shoot,fly,shoot,shoot,the end.  4/5

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Alanatomy - Alan Carr

After reading a few too many books about death and dying lately, I chose something a bit lighter .  Alan Carr is the host of the UK talk show Chatty Man.  I like him, he is pretty entertaining but I felt a bit flat after reading this one.

I guess there were a few chapters devoted to shows I have never seen and celebrities that mean nothing to me.  I also felt that he kept trying to write everything as a bit of a joke and a lot of it just felt a bit annoying and unnecessary, yet when he was writing honestly I enjoyed his tales.  3/5

Friday, December 16, 2016

Things That Matter - David Galler

This is a non fiction book written by a New Zealand ICU doctor.  Combining information about how the body works, stories about patients and personal tales I found it a quick and easy read.

Like many books by doctors there is a wealth of wisdom and information, and also the  element of luck determine what our health future holds.  Our bodies are delicate beings and it doesn't take much to tip the balance.  4/5

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This - Nadja Spiegelman

I have to say I didn'the really enjoy this book and kept waiting for it to improve and reveal some magic.  Nadja tells the stories around her mother said growing up and the relationships between mothers, daughters and grandmothers.   There are some interesting stories told and the span of the stories from the early 1900s to the current day show the rapid cultural and social changes that have occurred.   I think the main issue was that I didn'the like any of the women written about.  They all seemed a bit mean and selfish.  2/5

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wild and Precious Life - Deborah Ziegler

This is one of those memoirs that fills in a few gaps in a story that I was aware of, but only knew bits and pieces of.   The author is the mother of Brittany Maynard the 29 year old American woman who was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, and used her time to advocate for patients to be able to choose to die with dignity.

It is an interesting read as mother and daughter have a bit of a fractious relationship, not always getting on.  Her mother tells us about their lives before diagnosis and the limited time they had together once everything changed.  There is a lot of palpable grief that understandably taunts the telling of the story, it is still very powerful.  4/5

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Girl Before - Rena Olsen

Clara cannot understand how her and her loving husband have been taken from their home and what has happened to the girls in her care.  So as the story unfolds we find out the reason they have been taken.

I was intrigued by the story all the way through not sure in what direction it would go.  Parts of it left me unsettled, I don'the want to give the plot away there are plenty of reviews that will tell you more about the underlying story.  4/5

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Dying - Cory Taylor

I read a review of this books on goodreads where it was described as coming under q genre of books called illness narrative.  Cory Taylor is an Australian author who has stage four Metastatic Melanoma.   Facing her impending death she writes about her family, her experience with her own parents and winds it altogether in this small memoir.

I don'the know why I enjoy these books so much, there is seldom any big aha moments in the books.  I think though that I enjoy a good read about families and maybe there is a sense of clarity that comes from that moment when you know that death approaches, although in reality it is coming for us all.  4/5

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A Life in Parts - Bryan Cranston

I must admit to be a Bryan Cranston fan.  I only watched the first season of Breaking Bad, but loved him as the lovable dad Hal in Malcolm in the Middle.   Lately I have seen him being interviewed on a myriad of chat shows as he promotes this new memoir.

Written in mostly chronological order it is a series of stories about his life.  With mainly dysfunctional parents I enjoyed his stories and he came across as an interesting likable guy who learned some pretty good life lessons from the people he met.  4/5

Monday, December 05, 2016

Holding - Graham Norton

Forgive me for not posting for a while.  Somehow my laptop has stopped working and I am left typing out posts on my phone like the middle aged lady that I am.

I had read Graham Norton autobiography and enjoyed his writing so took a chance on his novel.  Holding is a novel about a quiet Irish village, the local sole policeman who finally gets some excitement when bones are found at a local farm.  Two of the local women are considered suspects and as the investigation progresses we learn about their history.   I did enjoy the story, a slow and steady slice of rural life.  3/5

Monday, November 28, 2016

We're All Going to Die - Leah Kaminsky

I am a bit of a sucker for books about dying, they always offer a new voice about this topic, one that many of us are reluctant to talk about.  The author who is a family doctor in Australia is able to talk about her own families experiences and her own fear of death, as well as talking about the patients she encounters.  She   uses the book to explore how death was dealt with in the past when everybody encountered death usually in the family home, and what happens in the modern world when death has become more institutionalized with more of us dying in hospitals and nursing homes.  She talks to morticians and funeral directors and quotes from many authors who have written similar books.

Although I didn't come away learning anything too profound, I liked the tone of the book that made it like listening to a good friend talk and it didn't get too grim and uncomfortable.  Certainly it is a topic we should all be talking about with our families and friends. 4/5

Saturday, November 26, 2016


The weather was forecast to be gloomy today and the morning was windy with a bit of rain, but still warm.  So it makes it hard to decide whether to wear the spring sandals and light clothes or stick to the usual boots and jeans.  I went to the burbs to meet a friend for lunch and a movie.  A string of recent earthquakes have closed two of the towns multi-plex cinemas and over 3,000 parking spaces in the city are also closed so it is easier to go to the boutique cinemas to see a show.

I didn't know much about Allied other than it stared Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.  I have tried to resist reading too many reviews about some movies.  It is a nice element of surprise to go in feel like the story is fresh, sometimes the previews give the whole plot away.  It is a romantic thriller set in the second world war, and my bestie and I quite enjoyed it. The story itself was quite simplistic and I liked that it just got into it straight away with minimal back story.  I felt there was something special in the way the story was directed, keeping the two main characters the focus, without the distraction of too many extra characters.

I am going to give it a 3.5/5.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Shallows

Blake Lively vs the Shark.  Supporting actor - Steven Seagull (did you get the pun?).  Anyway even though this was a simple premise, me and the 20 year olds actually enjoyed it.  We just won't be going surfing anytime soon.  4/5

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Velvet Hours - Alyson Richman

I got lost in this story set in Paris.  We meet Marthe De Florian, in 1888 Paris, a girl who grew up in poverty and re-invented herself, first working as seamstress, then as a dancer and finally as a beautiful courtesan to a wealthy man.  In her beautiful apartment she surrounds herself with pastel gowns, Ancient Japanese artifacts and an amazing painting done of her in her prime.

In 1940 Solonge is beginning to find out secrets about her family and everything is changing as she begins to feel the rustling of war approaching.  As the story swung between both characters I thought the author used this technique well, moving the story on.  It did feel a bit rushed at the end, with just a few chapters to move the story to the end. 4/5

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lights Out

So I let the 20 years old choose the movie when they visited.  I haven't watched a horror in ages, as being a middle aged lady living alone I don't really need any excuse to stay awake at night.  I used to remember loving horrors in my twenties, so I understand the attraction.

In this one Rebecca, and her boyfriend and young brother Martin are trying to deal with mother Sophies deteriorating mental health and are being tormented by an evil woman that only appears when the lights go out.  Chasing, screaming and blood ensues.

It was ok as far as that kind of thing goes, just not my kind of deal.  Now the things that keep me awake are the thought of having to stay in the same job another 20 years, worrying about the bills and the thought of affording retirement.


Sunday, November 20, 2016


I had big plans to go and see this one at the beginning of the week, but after we had a big earthquake the city was closed for a couple of days and the shakes still continued.  So today I had things to do early on with family, but was free for the afternoon, so took myself off to the midday session - me and six others in the cinema on a sunny day.

I was thinking about alien movies from the 90s and 2000s, when a whole group of studly men or one kickass woman could save the world in the last 10 minutes after vaporizing the meteor/comet or alien with a big cannon/laser/gun while the world first chewed their fingernails then cheered.

In this movie the world sees the arrival of a group of UFOs.   Amy Adams plays Louise a linguist who is bought in to help interpret what the message is and how the world will react.  I feel like I can't really write any more without giving the story away and it is all on Wikipedia anyway if you feel the need.  For me, I am enjoying not reading too many reviews before I see a movie, and even some previews give it all away.

I did like this movie, it was quite cerebral in it's story without being boring and felt like an original story that felt fresh and avoided the usual cliches.  4/5

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos - Dominic Smith

I like the feeling of reading the first couple of pages of a novel, and feeling as though you have stepped into the story without much effort - and this is the feeling I got as I started this book.  It tells the story of a painting of  a winter forest, told by three narrators, Sara the 17th century Dutch artist, Marty the current owner and Ellie, a young Australian artist who is involved with the painting in her 20s and reunites with it forty years later.

A gentle slow story it made me want to be able to google this imaginary painting or buy a 17th century old master of my own to hang over the bed - neither of which is possible, but a girl can dream.  4/5

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Middle Aged Lady Night In - Mr Turner

This middle aged lady needed a night on the couch.  It was a busy day working and she always feels slightly miffed when she has to work and everybody else gets a sleep in.  The reward for working though is that there are the next two days off to relax.  So I rushed home from work and did a couple of chores before reheating some leftovers and settling down on the couch.  I do make it sound like this is an occasional experience , but lately it has been how most of my evenings are spent and there is a big middle aged dent in the couch.

I had wanted to see this one at the cinema some time ago, but for various reasons I did not and was pleased to see that it was showing tonight on TV.  I can see why critics loved it, a biopic about the talented artist J W Turner in the later years of his life.  It is a most marvelous performance by Timothy Spall, and the supporting cast just all play such wonderful characters.  I love that it is peppered with plain middle aged spinsters, pompous toffs, cheap tarts, and a collection of various other artists all competing to  sell their art.  I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years living in London in my twenties and I loved visiting the art galleries and museums and was lucky enough to see a few of his amazing paintings.  Now as I am older I can see that in a time before photographs, just how talented these artists were a preserving a scene, a moment in time and making it still beautiful decades and centuries later.

It was  a little long for me, but still a very worthy 4/5.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


This movie was one shown on the network television here that I recorded a few weeks ago to watch. Poor people television here isn't too bad, I find enough to fill my hours and my needs, and often movies like this will be on at midnight over the weekend, too late for me but ok for my DVR.

A bit of a grim choice for my Saturday night viewing, and pretty intense.  It is the story of parents of two little girls who disappear after a family dinner together.  When a suspect is found, he is then released after questioning by detectives.  However the father of one of the victims finds him, and takes him where they then question him themselves.  An interesting premise, for if any of us were in the same position isn't that exactly what we would want to do.  I have no tolerance for violence towards children or animals.  None.

An awesome cast too populates this movie - Hugh Jackman, Terence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Jake Gyllenhaal.  I liked the style of the movie, not over Hollwooded with a modest home, normal clothes and budget vehicles. I am a bit over the shows where the average family being depicted is living in a $3 million dollar home wearing Gucci.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Mischling - Affinity Konar

This novel is the story of 12 year old twins Sasha and Pearl, who arrive at Auschwitz in 1944 with their grandfather and mother.  They are taken by Dr Mengele who collects twins to perform gruesome medical experiments, killing hundreds of children and adults.

It is a hard book to write about, as several times I thought to put it down unfinished as I found the style of writing a bit flowery and even though the premise was compelling I didn't really feel like I believed it.  I couldn't picture the girls in my head and felt unconnected to the characters, even though they suffered many horrors.  So not really a successful read for me. 2/5

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Game of Thrones - Season 6

Don't worry I'm not going to review Game of Thrones season 6, because truly I couldn't.  Maybe it is my middle aged lady brain, and the gap of a year between series but I can't follow a lot of the names, the places or in fact what went on last series - I guess it wouldn't be my specialized subject on Mastermind .  For me it started slow, but barreled on as more characters were killed off in a variety of gruesome ways.  Some deserved to die but some were sad and I didn't see coming.

  As I finished watching the show last night, it was good to read the online story today about leaked storylines from season 7. Who knows, we will have to see it next year. I do think though that tv is so much better than 20 years ago, the quality of some shows is like watching a movie.  I'm enjoying Poldark, Victoria, the Durrells which are all playing on NZ television at the moment.  How about you - are there  any shows that you are enjoying?

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

I loved the book this movie is based on, it was one that bought tears to my eyes and I was sad when the story ended, so I was excited that they were going to turn it into a movie and even more so when some of it was to be filmed in New Zealand.  So today was the perfect day to head to the cinema as it was my day off work, raining and dreary.

So the movie was perfect middle aged lady viewing, set in the 1920s it tells the story of Tom Sherborne a World War I veteran, who seeks the peaceful life on a remote Australian lighthouse.  He falls in love and marries a young local girl Isabel and it is their love that is the core of this story.  I won't say anymore, for I don't want to give away the rest of the story, but I did really enjoy all the elements of this story, the scenery, the characters - the looks and glances and touches that were all subtle and so well done.  The muted palettes of the decor and costumes and the vistas of waves and cloudy skies made it all sing.  I also must admit to have a couple of tears at the end of the movie, which doesn't happen too often.  So for me - a solid 5/5.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Home - Harlen Coben

Harlen Coben is one of those authors who is able to give you a book that just starts wham into the story and lets you straight into the action with a set of old friends.  Like Lee Child/Peter James/Nelson DeMille and Kathy Reichs I can instantly see the book in my head like a mini movie playing away.

Myron Bolitar and his friend win are back, tracking down two boys who were abducted two years ago at age six.  Now they have been seen in London and Win wants them back now.  So it is action packed with twists and turns, computers and knives - yet all done with humor and intelligence.    4/5

Friday, November 04, 2016

Coming Soon - Films I'd Like to See

I read the book this movie is based on some time ago, it was touching and sad at the same time but ultimately a story about love, and how the love of this ginger cat helped the owner through his addiction and onto living a normal life.  The trailer looks great and I saw the pictures of the Duchess dressed up as she went to see the premiere and got to make Bob purr.

I am also looking forward to The Arrival a sci fi thriller that looks like my cup of tea.  I like to be a bit scared in the cinema on the big screen.  Amy Adams is a favorite too, and I like that it looks like she is the lead character in the movie.

This one looks a bit quirky, but the trailer made me smile.  I am sure most of us remember being a socially awkward 15 year old, not a child but not quite an adult.

Any films you are looking forward to?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult has a great gift of bringing us real characters, ones who are both brave and vulnerable and we get to see the many facets of their lives.  In her latest we get to meet Ruth, a widow and mother who works as a labor and delivery nurse.  When she tends to a small baby, the parents object and ask for her to be removed from their care.

  For me, many parts of this book were hard to read and at times I was unsure if I could continue.  It was an interesting way to be presented with discussions about racism, from the hard out fanatics, to those who think they  don't see race - but who really are in a position of privilege in being able to ignore it, to those who deal with it on a daily basis.  In many instances each of the characters are forced to challenge what they believe and understand and we get to share their thoughts and see how they evolve and change. 5/5

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I, Daniel Blake

It was a cold spring night here in our city and a perfect evening for an early visit to the cinema.  Our one was full to see I,Daniel Blake.  It is a drama set in Newcastle.  Dan is a 59 year old carpenter, who after a heart attack has to apply for a benefit.  His dealings with the social welfare agency points to some of the many problems that people encounter with them, for a department that is meant to be in the business of helping people in need their seemed to be so many obstructions.  On one visits he meets a single mother, who is trying to get some help with her two children and a friendship forms.  Their friendship is the heart of this movie and made us smile by the small gestures of helping each other, of sharing a meal or a hug.

This movie was a good touch of social realism and feels like you are just watching some real people in their lives, no Hollywood sets here or fancy outfits.  This is the bleak life that many people live struggling with money, being able to afford food, rent or electricity.  It was a simple story in many ways, but told with integrity and feeling.  4/5

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Wonder - Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue is the author of Room, which was a clever novel made into a fine film.  She has returned with The Wonder, a story about Lib an English nurse who has trained under Florence Nightengale.  Sent to rural Ireland, she is to tend to and observe Anna, an eleven year old Catholic girl who has not eaten for 4 months, and is one of the fasting girls, a phenomenon of the time.

The author is talented, I felt drawn into that dark smelly cottage and could picture the bustling round of mother and maid, but somehow I felt like I was waiting for something more to happen.  Although more was revealed at the end of the novel I felt like I was missing so much more of a story. 3/5

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Golden Years

Boy it poured with rain today and it would have been tempting to spend the day off I had at home, but I had organised to meet some good friends to go to the cinema and as I had a gifted voucher it was nice to be able to use that.   We met a bit earlier so that we could have a bite to eat and due to the rain, the cinema was quiet so we didn't have to fight off the crowds to get a table.

Golden years is about a pensioner couple and their friends who are finding it difficult to live on a fixed income and after a fluke day out decide that they can easily take money from the banks.  It was quite an enjoyable little movie, and nice to see real pensioners in the roles, with real faces and not one bit of botox between them.  Like most UK movies, it is filled with lots of special characters and has the feel of a good Sunday night movie.  Lots of the pensioners behind us giggled the whole way through the movie and it did provide lots of chuckles.  3/5

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Girl On the Train

Today was a rainy morning, and the call of the discounted seats at the cinema were calling.  I liked the look of the Girl on the Train, even though I had not enjoyed the book too much.  I found in the book the shifting narrators and time shifts were a bit of a distraction, and none of the characters were particularly likable.

I do however like Emily Blunt and she did a great job in this movie as alcoholic Rachel who spends her commuter journeys staring out the windows of the train watching the characters in a couple of homes on her trips in and out of New York City.  With blackouts due to drinking too much vodka, she is beginning to lose her grip on what really happened in the past, and what is real and imagined.  Like the book character, I felt that she was not the nicest person and I got a bit annoyed at why she kept interfering, she was just asking for trouble.

A solid 4/5 for this movie, it could have had a bit more suspense and menace to make it a bit more scary.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I remember when I first got to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I am sure it was broadcast on tv when I was around 10 or 11, and while the parents entertained themselves with cheap box wine and bad music, I got to sit by the box and watch the movie more or less uninterrupted.  I remember being mostly entertained as it was most unlike any other offerings with its talk of transvestites, sex and lust all thrown together in a punk like party and I must admit to having watched it at least 5 times since. .  It still makes me smile if I catch some of the original show on tv - but I must say I am often bored when I have watched the whole thing.  I am never a fan of any musicals - as I think the story is sacrificed for songs that seldom do a good job of linking the whole thing together.

I didn't really have any high hopes for the remake that was broadcast tonight, I had heard it had been slated by the US reviewers.  So I put it on in the background while I did some exciting chores like cleaning out the drawers.  Somehow it all felt a bit Disneyfied - a bit watered down as though the director and actors in order to show it on tv had to hold back on the sexy part.  Somehow though they got it wrong, as it seemed like they had watched the original and read the script but missed the point.  Maybe it was because the 1975 was quite shocking for its time and Tim Curry did an amazing job in his role.  I like Laverne Cox, she looked amazing but seemed to be lacking in sauciness and sizzle.  So I'll be sticking to the original version.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Way We Die Now - Seamus O'Mahony

I feel a bit awkward saying that I like this genre of book, but I think it is the type of book everybody should read and discuss with their friends and family.  Seamus O'Mahony is a gastroenterologist who has worked hospitals in England and Ireland and is able to draw on his own personal experiences of dealing with many patients at the end of their lives.  In this book, he looks at the way we die, and how there is a myth around the good death, the one we picture of dying peacefully in bed in white linens, holding a loved ones hand and quietly slipping away. In reality for many patients, death may be painful, and drawn out by unnecessary and expensive treatments that may not gain any additional time or benefit for the patient.

It did bring me close to tears on several occasions, after witnessing my dads death this year and made me think about what I would want for myself if I were able to any input.  He describes how although now doctors are much better at discussing prognosis with patients and families there still needs to be a better system of being honest about risk benefits of undergoing further treatments/procedures and having honest discussions about facing death. 5/5

Friday, October 21, 2016

Where Am I Now? - Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson is instantly recognizable on the cover as the role she played  in Mrs Doubtfire as Natalie,  the youngest sibling and as Matilda and many other roles.  Now at 29, and retired from acting, and she has written a biography about her life then and what she is up to now.  Although I am not the biggest fan of biographies written by 20 or 30 year olds, she has something fresh to write about. I am sure being an actor so young makes for many challenges, and with the death of her mother at a young age and struggling with anxiety and OCD I felt there was some wisdom to be shared.

I do think though that this is a generation growing up with the need to overshare everything, and wonder how they will feel when they are older with children of their own with every thought and photo published and available on google at the touch of a button.  3/5

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Date with a Documentary

I am always a fan of a good documentary and now it is easier than ever to find quality ones, these are ones with a bit of a female twist, but a good story is interesting to everyone.  These are a couple of the ones I am looking forward  to seeing.

Crazy About Tiffany's talks about the history of the company and the magic of those little blue boxes that everyone around the world recognizes.

The next one is Embrace - one womans journey to find out why as women so many of us have issues with our bodies and can't just love the body we live with, and why we spend so much energy hating ourselves instead of  enjoying this amazing gift.

The First Monday in May - Anna Wintour and Fashion are a powerful combination, and the fashion although unreal and over the top it is quite the spectacle.

I have some days off coming up, and as the weather has already packed in with cold and rain on the first evening off, the cinema/apple tv may beckon and keep me entertained.

Are you looking forward to seeing movie/documentaries?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A House Without Windows - Nadia Hashimi

Zeba is married with four young children when her husband is found in her yard and her life changes as she is put in prison - but it is not just her story that we learn about, we get to hear about the other Afghani women who are often put into prison for whispering  and rumors.   It was shocking to me that these were stories from a modern age and not from hundreds of years ago, and that women and girls could be treated with such contempt.

This is a story that will stick with me for some time, and I look forward to seeking out the authors other novels. 4/5

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

Two parents head to their neighbors house for a party, returning each half hour to check on their infant daughter Cora.  Then the baby is not in the crib - where has she gone and who took her?  Police are called and the mystery begins to deepen.

I didn't really connect to the story, it felt a little bit tv movie to me, like I had seen the premise on episodes of SVU or any other police drama and I found all the characters a bit annoying and unlikable.  The police seemed disinterested and I didn't believe how it all unfolded.  The title too was a bit misleading, as the neighbors weren't an important part of the story - or maybe I missed something. 3/5

Monday, October 17, 2016

Music Monday - Girls On Film - Duran Duran

I have to confess that I was a 80's child, dancing away my late teenage years and loving the music although I was only 13 when this came out in 1981 - so long ago now.  This week I have been binge watching Brief Encounters a UK 6 episode series about some women in the 1980s who gain confidence and independence once they start working selling Ann Summers underwear and marital aids at home parties.    The show has a great 80s soundtrace and I love that they have done a realistic representation of 1980s fashion, that looks like clothes and hairstyles that we loved, as so many shows go overboard with the neon/wham/crop top stuff, that real women weren't wearing.  This looks like they have gone to the op shops and found the real deal.

So I loved this little show - it has the feal good factor much like the Real Monty, with great British characters, a shame it has only the one series.  I wish there were more.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In Such Good Company - Carol Burnett

I saw Carol Burnett being interviewed on a tv show, and that is how I learned about this book which talks about her tv show that ran for 11 years in the 1970s.  She writes about her life, running the show, her co stars and the many guests that came on doing skits and songs, in the variety show.  First and foremost she comes across as a lovely lady that cared deeply for her many friends and is nice to everybody.  I am maybe a touch too young to know who many of the people are in her book, but still enjoyed reading about them. 3/5

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love You Dead - Peter James

Ahhh Roy Grace, you seemed to take a little back seat in this your latest adventure, only popping up every now and again to share your wisdom and more focus on your family.  Instead we get to meet Jodie - she's a bit of a femme fatale who is in search of her next new hubby to entertain.  She is a bit of a naughty girl, and now quite a few people are looking for her and who will find her first?

In the meantime Roy is trying to be a good father and husband - but he hears from Germany as Sandy rears up again.  What will she want and will it disturb his relationship with his wife Cleo? I like this sensitive Roy - seeing his soft and sensitive side, magic to middle aged lady fans. 4/5

Monday, October 10, 2016

Music Monday - Lily Allen - Somewhere Only We Know

I like a bit of Lily Allen, she is good when she is fun and when she is serious and always makes me smile when her songs pop up on my ipod.  I loved watching the making of this video which I think was for a Christmas ad in the UK.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo - Amy Schumer

It seems to be the modern way of celebrity living, that if you are in your twenties or thirties you need to look back on your life and write a memoir, because you are wise and want to impart your wisdom to the masses.  I can hardly criticize as I do like to read memoirs.   I had only encountered comedian Amy Schumer on the odd chat show on TV and on her movie Trainwreck.

In this book, I was amused by lot of her stories, she is funny although a bit borderline smutty, I did like that she didn't name drop a lot or write boring anecdotes about dull shows that I hadn't heard about.  Where her writing shines is where she talks about her family, sexism, gun violence and sexual violence.  Maybe she is a voice that is needed to speak to the younger generation about some of these issues, and I am sure it will generate many conversations of a political nature, which you may not expect from this type of book.  4/5

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Dead to Me - Lesley Pearse

Lesley Pearse is what I like to think of as a reliable author.  She turns out solid historical fiction that are filled with strong female characters.  Although this one was a bit of a door stopper in size, I ripped though it and enjoyed losing myself in 1930s and 40s England.

Verity and Ruby meet as youngsters in London, when Verity is a girl in nice clothes from a posh home, while Ruby has only one dirty dress and never enough to eat.  Both girls become friends and even though their circumstances change drastically they still manage to help each other out, even after a bad falling out. 4/5

Monday, October 03, 2016

Labyrinth of Lies

Another quiet night at home made it a middle aged mumster night in.  Chores were done, a nice dinner made - candles lit and time to sit down and relax and be mellow.  I had heard from someone I worked with that this was an interesting movie, so thought I would give it a chance.

Based on a true story this is about a young German public prosecutor who takes an interest in the case bought against a local school teacher who was a SS officer at Auschwitz.  However he finds that there is limited interest in prosecuting him because of many of the men involved were also in the Nazi party.

I was surprised by one of the scenes where many of the young Germans are asked about their knowledge of Auschwitz and other camps, with most of them unaware of the horrors commited there.  Eventually put in charge of making a case against the workers at the camp, his team are able to take some of them to trial.  With only 789 of the approximately 6,500 workers being tried, this was still the biggest prosecution of some of those responsible for the murders of the many people who died in the camps.

It is hard to say if I enjoyed this movie - it was certainly not the most cheery of subjects, but it was interesting and the main character was a charismatic watch. 3/5

Thursday, September 29, 2016

When Fraser Met Billy - Louise Booth

This was a sweet book telling about the friendship between Fraser, a young autistic boy and his rescue cat Billy.  His mother tells us about how he struggled as a young boy, with limited communication,  difficulties with his walking and movement and lots of frustration and temper tantrums  unless his rigid routines were followed.  With a young baby girl, they were struggling with how to deal with Fraser and how to reach him and help him cope with life.

With an older cat who was scared of Frasers screaming and crying, they decided to adopt a younger cat, and enter Billy who right from the start stuck by Billys side and was able to help him.  His ability to calm Fraser down and reassure him is truly amazing, and I loved all the stories about their friendship.  An awesome bond that is truly special. 4/5

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Perfect Girl - Gilly Macmillan

Zoe Guerin is trying to overcome an earlier trauma, an accident that she can't forget that has changed her life.  Now her mother has remarried, there is a step brother and now a young baby sister and things are gradually returning to normal.  So Zoe and Lucas are now about to perform in public, and they are confronted with her past - changing everything.

This felt like one of those books that I was meant to like, but I found it a bit meh.  I found the changing narrators made it a bit stilted for me, as I kept having to go back to see who was talking and the time periods kept jumping round too, going from the present, back several years then going between last night and today made the book feel like it had been chopped up.

I was expecting a big twist, and it didn't hold any surprises for me leaving me a bit wanting. 2/5

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

So Saturday night was a middle aged lady night in for me.  A nice dinner was made, the chores were done, the candles were lit and a movie was picked.  Going to the cinema is an expensive night out - costing $17 for a ticket, which isn't as much as the UK, where a blog I read during the week said it was 10 pounds ($25 NZ) which is crazy, and makes it unaffordable for many including families.  I don't have a DVD player anymore, but use my apple tv to stream movies, which cost around $8 here to rent a movie.  I still love going to the movies, and hadn't had a chance to see this one and was happy to watch it by myself at home.

It is a very Kiwi film, one that I think does a great job of merging drama and humor, in a way that Hollywood films fail miserably at doing.  Ricky Baker is a 12 year old that has struggled with previous foster homes until he is sent to the country to live with Bella and her husband, the very grumpy Hector (Sam Neill).  Here he learns survival skills and an unlikely buddy story emerges.

Julian Dennison was awesome as Ricky Baker and you can't help but love his cheeky Kiwi charm and his need to be a gangster.  From the interviews I have seen he is just as likable in real life and is enjoying all the attention of being a movie star.  4/5

Monday, September 26, 2016

Music Monday - Brave - Sara Bareilles

 I love this song, but the video makes me smile and feel like dancing.  I need a bit more dancing, but not so sure I am brave enough to dance on the streets.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Words In My Hand - Guinevere Glasfurd

Helena is a young maid who is sent to work in the home of an English bookseller in Amersterdam as a teenager.  There she encounters the writer Rene Descartes, and finds her future changed because of him.  As she has taught herself to read and write in a time when girls weren't educated this gives her new skills that she is able to share with her friend and allows her a little power in her life.

I enjoyed this novel about the real life character who little is known about, as I am intrigued about womans lives at this period of time when there were so many restrictions on her choices, and parents, employers and husbands or partners were able to control what the ladies got up to.  4/5

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dinner With Edward - Isabel Vincent

Isabel Vincent is a journalist who works in New York at a challenging job, and is finding life at home difficult as her marriage unravels.  Her friend Veronica asks if she can meet her 90+ year old father, who has been recently widowed and is lonely.  So begins a series of dinners and drinks where Edward cooks and bakes and they share stories about their lives and gradually become friends.

This was a lovely little book that made me hungry hearing about all the fancy food that he cooked although I would be  a bit of a rookie with the strong cocktails they shared.  The recipes seemed a bit overly complicated with lots of overnight marinades and truffles, not quite my style.  In the end though it wasn't all about the food, the book was a sweet story about not giving up on love and you never know how friendships will blossom and grow. 4/5

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The One Man - Andrew Gross

Nathan Blum has escaped from his homeland of Poland in the middle of the war, made his way to the US and is working for the Intellegence dept in Washington when he receives an urgent request.  He has the skills needed, to go back to rescue a man who may be able to change the trajectory of the war - the only problem is that man has been taken to Auschwitz.

Andrew Gross has given a new twist to this world war two thriller.  Although at moments, I thought it was pushed it a bit too far and became a bit unbelievable it still was a good read, and at moments I had to put it down, not wanting to know what was next and it may have even put a tear in my eye for a few minutes. 4/5

Monday, September 12, 2016

Music Monday - Suzanne Vega - NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

I watched this last week and was mesmerized by her voice. It is always nice to find an artist whose voice is strong when they are just singing with a guitar and even better than their recordings.  It made me revisit some of my old CDs.  How old school.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cheer Up, Love - Susan Calman

Susan Calman is a Scottish comedian who has written about her life lived with depression.  I like this type of memoir that isn't too preachy but is a way of helping others by describing her own coping mechanisms.  I had not heard of this comedian before, but this didn't stop me enjoying the book and laughing at stories about her life and I found the balance of humor and seriousness was done well, with the appropriate amount of name dropping.  Jokes about her cats helped too.  4/5

Saturday, September 10, 2016


I guess I should start by saying that as a middle aged lady I know that I am thirty years older than the target audience for this movie, and that any of my comments will be totally dismissed by most.  I also had it playing in the background while I looked at the computer while I was home on a sick day feeling poorly, so my muddled brain may have missed quite a lot of the intended nuances.

From what I have seen in the young adult book section at the store and library it is filled with vampire and dystopian novels, this comes from research I have done while searching for presents for family and friends kids.  I am not a fan of youth fiction or comic book stories, but  I had recorded this one as it was on poor peoples free tv, so thought I would give it a go.

So in this movie we get a futuristic Chicago which after a war has divided the population into five factions.  Tris   An aptitude test that should dictate which group she should belong to, shows that she has characteristics for a few of them, which makes her a divergent.  Divergents are considered dangerous by the government, so she has to learn to conceal her abilities in order to survive.

So she gets lots of tight leather outfits, gets to run a lot, do some fighting, jump and then run some more.  There doesn't appear to be a lot of sweating and lots of fabulous hair.  You can tell who the baddies are because they scowl a lot and there are some lovely looking manboys as love interest, but you know who the true love is - he will be the one looking like he has stepped off the catwalk.

Like all good movies, you have to Wikipedia it to find out how much it made and this one made a whopping $288 million, so you know that the rest of the books in the movie will then be make into more spin off movies.  I don't think I will be booking a seat at the cinema to see any more - I'll save it for the teenagers it was intended for.  2/5

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Sleeper's Castle - Barbara Erskine

Andys partner of 10 years dies, and his wife reappears to throw her out of their house leaving her with no belongings and homeless.  Retreating to the Welsh borderlands she takes over a friends home, the ancient Sleeper's Castle.  Here she begins to have vivid dreams of Catrin who occupied the castle with her father in the 1400s, a time when the Welsh and English were fighting for control.

I did like this one, it felt like a step back into Barbara Erskines earlier novels of 3o years ago and I liked both of the main characters as they were both tough and sensitive.  It was a bit too long and a tad repetitive in the middle, but I enjoyed curling up on the cold evenings and getting sucked into the story. 4/5