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