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

Monday, September 05, 2016

Music Monday - In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins

Sitting at work at the weekend and this was playing, everybody was tapping their feet and singing along.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Dad's Army

Last night was a middle aged lady night on the couch - so this was the movie I chose to stream.  I did enjoy the original series, but I was just a youngster when it was on in the 70's.  I really wanted to love this one, but in the end I was a little bit on the bored side.  10/10 for the casting crew, they did a pretty good job of casting a gang of guys who brought back the feel of the original cast, however they were not helped by a lack luster predictable script.  For me it had no sparkle and although there were a couple of sniggers I felt the lack of a good belly laugh.  Sadly I feel it is a 2/5 for me.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning - Sue Klebold

Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two teenagers at Columbine High school who in 1999 killed twelve students, wounded many more and then killed themselves.  At the beginning of the book Sue talks about how she initially thought her son was one of the children and how shocked her and her family were when they found out that he and his friend had planned and carried out this shocking act.

It is interesting to find out her perspective, as often it is easy for us to blame the family - what did they know?  Did they not suspect anything?  Did they not bring him up right?  Was he allowed access to guns and weapons?  Was he bullied?  And really this just seemed to be a normal kid with normal parents who plotted and planned with his friend and maybe in hindsight we can see clues more easily.  

I was a bit surprised by the community response.  Many people showed their tolerance and acts of kindness to the Klebold family, while many more were angry threatening family and friends and you have to admire them for staying in the same town afterwards.

Certainly a book I have been thinking about days after reading it and I am sure I will think about it for the years ahead. 5/5

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Girl From the Train - Irma Joubert

Six year old Gretl Schmidt jumps from a train in rural Poland with her sister leaving behind her mother and grandmother.  After finding shelter with a local family little Gretl has to learn to fit in with the Polish Catholic household.

I found the first part of the book engaging and interesting, although it was a little lacking in backstory as I wondered about how her family had ended up on the train, and it felt to me like some of the story had been edited away.

 I did struggle with the second part of the story which was about a more grown up Gretl who has settled in South Africa.  Although it was interesting to read about an area of the world I know little about, I found it a little bit focused on the religious aspects of her life and I was a bit creeped out by the love affair.  2/5