Sunday, January 31, 2016


I had a free Sunday today, no work or commitments of any kind.  So I promised myself if I got an early night on Saturday night I would take myself off to an early movie and do some jobs in the afternoon.  So I was up at 8am on Sunday and still managed a couple of loads of washing before leaving the house.  It is a bit of a hike up hill and then a wander along the flat and only a 20 minute walk to the cinema.   I was joined by about only 10 other patrons, but that was understandable as it was the first real sunny day we had had all week.

I loved this movie so much.  It was subtle and gentle and Saoirse Ronan is fantastic as Ellis, a young Irish girl who is given the opportunity to travel to Brooklyn New York to have a new life.  She is terribly homesick after leaving her beloved sister and mother, and is stuck in a boring job at a department store and living in a boarding house with other single girls.  However things begin to change and she embraces her new life.  I won't say much more, for that would give away the whole story.

Everything was so well done, from actually filming in Ireland and some sites in New York to the costumes that looked like real people wore them.  Most of all I loved the delightful love story and the touch of humor that Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters added to the story.  Worth a visit to the cinema.  5/5

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Danish Girl

A cool Saturday afternoon in the city saw a full cinema of grown ups to see this little movie.  It is a biographical drama based on a fictional novel published in 2000, that is then based on a book from 1933.  We meet young Danish painting husband and wife Gerda Wegener and Einer Wegener in the 1920s.   When she asks her husband to help her by posing in stockings and shoes to help complete a painting, Gerda helps him to release his female self Lily.  Initially amused by this transformation, the relationship becomes strained as Lily wants to leave Einer behind.

Identifying as Lily Elbe, she becomes the first transexual to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the 1930s and it is a story that you wonder if it could have been told so well twenty or even ten years ago.  Both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander  are stunning in their roles and the costumes and hair are stunning, as are the simple chipped painted rooms with gorgeous grey bed linens.  4/5

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Shut Eye - Belinda Bauer

Every day Anna Buck guards the five small footprints embedded in concrete, for they are all that remain of her much loved toddler son Daniel, who wandered off when her husband left the house leaving the door open.  Gone and no clues, Anna seeks out a psychic to find her lost son.

Edie,12 has been missing for a year, and all that has been found was her battered bicycle, tossed aside yet DCI Marvel is still looking for wondering if she is still alive or dead. However his boss has sent him off to find Mitzi - a missing dog.

Not your everyday police thriller, there are lots of interesting twists to this novel that keep it interesting and fresh in a crowded and often tired market. 4/5

Flash -Rachel Anne Ridge

After a busy and long day, Rachel and her husband arrive home to find a stray donkey in their driveway.  Convinced by the kids to keep him, Flash becomes a member of the family and helps Rachel learn lots of lessons along the way.  Stubborn and set in his ways, Rachel finds herself discovering that many of Flashes habits relate to her own family.

I do have a soft spot for donkeys, and all pets who give unconditional love, and that made this book extremely likable.  For me I am not such a big fan of the religious aspect, although I am sure this appeals to many others. 3/5

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wildflower - Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore is a woman who we have all watched grow up on the screens and in the gossip mags over the years.  From a delightful Gertie in ET at age 7, to a wild child hippie/punk in her twenties to the charming unlucky in love girl in her thirties.  Now at 40 she seems to have settled into her life and seems happy.  Married with two young daughters, she continues to act, has a successful film production company and  is now making her own cosmetics and fragrances .

She doesn't call this book a memoir, instead it is a series of stories about various times in her life and the people and pets that were important to her.  It skips back and forth in time, but I enjoyed it and it made her even more likable to me .  From growing up with an unstable family life - I love that she embraces and shines at being a mother and wife. 4/5

The House on Cold Hill - Peter James

Creepy enough story that I didn't really want to be reading it at night before I went to sleep as little noises round my place would make me jump.

A young family find their dream house.  A little run down and in need of a few renovations it is large and within commuter distance of work in Brighton and area that the author writes about in his crime novels.  A nice departure from the usual detectives and murders that Peter James writes about I still love Roy Grace and his team.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Memories of Heaven - Dr Wayne W Dyer and Dee Garnes

This is a small book, where the author has asked on facebook for peoples stories from around the world of when their children have talked about heaven, past lives, angels and about looking down and choosing who their parents would be.  Interesting, but each story is short and leaves you wanting a bit more information.  2/5

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Last Night in the OR - Bud Shaw

Bud Shaw grows up the son of a talented local Doctor, he then goes to med school and decides to specialize in Liver transplantation at the very beginning of this type of surgery.  In the 1980s there were some real old school surgeons doing the training who seemed like they would be horrid to work with, yelling and cursing at their juniors.  AIDs was still to be discovered, and I was a bit horrified by some of the risky behavior that the surgeons took part in, and the knowledge was limited in how to treat many of the complications that arose.

So the author tells us a collection of stories, about his work, his private life and relationships, his patients and his parents that entertain, although somehow it came across a bit disjointed to me. 4/5

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I worked the early shift at work today, so that I was able to meet some besties and head to the movies.  We went to see Suffragette, a story focusing on Maud a young wife and mother who works all day in a laundry and after accidentally getting caught up in a Suffragette protest, decides to find out what the movement is all about.  It was a bit of a grim watch and made us ladies grateful for the independent  lives we are able to live without having to be told what to do.  No light comedic moments in this movie, but I did like the realistic touches.  The worn clothes and naturalistic make up and hair styles as opposed to the Downton posh polished style we have become used to seeing.  This is the sweaty look of a poor honest working girl.  3/5

Friday, January 15, 2016

RIP Mr Rickman

RIP Mr Rickman - you were a shining star.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Cleopatra's Shadows - Emily Holleman

This is the story about Arsinoe, the younger sister of Cleopatra, who is left behind when her father and sister leave when their is a take over in the city by their half sister Berenice who believes it is her right to rule Egypt.

Only 9 years old she is not sure who to trust - who will protect her when everybody is getting killed around her, and no escape from the danger. 3/5

Monday, January 04, 2016

Spectacles - Sue Perkins

Sue Perkins is a UK comedian who has presented a few shows that seem to be shown on poor peoples tv here in NZ a year or two after they are made and at odd hours.  Except for Bake Off which everybody loves and knows.  Whatever I have seen in her in makes me smile.

I didn't expect to like this memoir for some reason, maybe I have been tainted by so many that are just going for the punchline lately, but I did enjoy Sues stories of growing up, the right balance of funny and family tales.  There were quite a few pages of conversational dialogue that was a bit off putting, but the book did leave me smiling. 3/5

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Girl in the Woods - Aspen Matis

 After being raped by a another student on her second night at college the author, Aspen Matis finds herself questioning what she is doing in Colorado.  So she packs up her stuff and heads for the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,600 mile trek from Mexico to Canada.  Like 'Wild' the author deals with her issues along the way as well as having to deal with blisters, heat, cold, hunger, thirst and threats from other walkers.

Although it does seem like it would be a way to escape the world and find yourself, I could see how horrible I would find it before I had finished the first couple of chapters.  Sleeping in tents without a sleeping pad, no shower or washing most days, drinking water from ponds/streams or containers with a dead mouse in it - not for me thanks.  I do like to read these books though and the author did well in bringing the hike alive for me. 4/5

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Interstellar - Middle Aged Lady Movie Night

Happy New Year - Welcome to 2016.  The weather here has turned grey and rainy after over a week of hot sunshine, the garden is glad for a soaking, and it is nice not to feel guilty about sitting inside on the couch.  New Year was a quiet one for this middle aged lady, I had strained my back the week before, and it needed a bit of resting, so I was glad to be at home and took the chance to watch Interstellar.

It needs a few hours set aside for this one - it is close to 3 hours long.  It was ok - Matthew McConaughey  is not my favorite actor, he always mumbles his way through a job and looks a bit sweaty and in need of a sandwich.  Anways, he plays an ex NASA pilot, who is trying to help his family farm, but the earth is slowly dying, drying out and sending huge dust storms which are destroying crops.  So old Matthew and Anne Hathaway are sent off to save the planet, via a few wormholes and twists and turns.

Normally I would like to see such a movie in the cinema, as space films are usually best on the biggest screen you can get, but my roster didn't manage to fit this one in last year.  The space scenes were majestic and I did appreciate their restraint in limiting the amount of cgi images.  It made it a bit more real. This middle aged lady prefers real over blue aliens, 50 minute fight scenes or flying spiders - yes I am looking at you Mr Jackson.

I did get to the end of the movie, and my recording stopped short, not allowing me to watch the last 15 minutes of the film, but thank goodness for Youtube, where I found the last part, so was able to sleep knowing how it ended.  3/5

Friday, January 01, 2016

Echoes From Afar - Tamara McKinley

We get to meet young Annabelle, who after training as a nurse in 1930s London, is without a job and heads to Paris to stay with her aunt and get work there.  A chance encounter with two young artists changes her plans, and Annabelle finds herself  having to prove  her skills and open her heart.

A good easy to read holiday book, that I enjoyed sitting on my deck in the summer sun with a cool drink over the  Christmas break. 3/5