Sunday, December 31, 2017

Middle Aged Mumster Movie Night In - The New Years Eve Edition - The Intern

Its New Years Eve in the city, and the clouds are circling with the promise of heavy rain.  The day was grey and windy, and as I am recovering from night shift hours sleeping is not going so well.  So it was a perfect day to stay home and continue reading books and then take a break after lunch and watch a movie.

I chose The Intern - I had skipped it at the cinema but was glad to find it on special to watch.  You can't beat the $3 ticket price to sit at home on my couch.  The basic premise is that Robert De Niro plays a 70 year old widowed retired businessman who looking for a new challenge, applies to be a senior intern at an internet fashion startup.  His boss is played by Anne Hathaway who is is trying to have it all, being a mom, staying married and running a business.

There was lots to like about this movie, like all Nancy Meyers movies the visuals were lovely with both living in beautiful New York homes.  The main characters were likable and charming and the support cast were funny and sweet, with a few home truths about how men have disappeared lately to be replaced by manboys who dress like 14 year olds, ride skateboards and play video games.  Where it fell down for me yet again was the story.  The first half had charm and humor and then it tried to turn into a drama and I felt it ended a bit abruptly without the story line being resolved.  Maybe it was a setup for a second movie?  3/5

So hope you are all ready for the New Year and relaxing and taking it easy!  Best wishes for 2018!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Middle Aged Mumster Movie Night In - A Dog's Purpose

Well I'm glad that I didn't go to the cinema to see this one as I intended too.  I would have blubbed away and smeared mascara down my chubby cheeks.  A Dog's Purpose is a story narrated from the dogs perspective.  From a young puppy, who then is reincarnated as another puppy and finds his home with a young boy Ethan - our puppy now called Bailey questions about his purpose in life.  We get to follow his journey, and then as the dogs that follow him.  I've made it all sound a little confusing, but in essence it is a sweet movie about the pet person love, and I even had a few tears on the couch at home.  Luckily the cat didn't see me!!  4/5

The French Cat - Rachael Hale

Aww it is super relaxing to enter Rachel Hales world of lovely French gardens and homes owned by these beautiful French cats.  I loved this style of natural light and settings that makes you want to sell up  and travel round France like her. 4/5

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Durrells of Corfu - Michael Haag

I don't know much about the Durrells except from what I have seen on the fictionalized show that has been on television in recent years.  This little book talks about the family and their real life adventures.  How they left India to settle first in the UK and then to move for a couple of years to Corfu. 

Although interesting to hear the reality of their situation I found I was somewhat slightly irritated by them all, that there seemed to be a few idyllic summers on the Greek island, with an every changing group of people staying at the variety of villas they lived in.  I much prefer the television show where it all looks gold tinted with sweet and funny characters. 3/5

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Something Beautiful Happened - Yvette Corporon

Yvette Corporon works in the news in New York, but several years ago wrote a fiction book based loosely on her grandmothers experiences on a small Greek island during the second world war.  70 years ago her Yia-yia and family sheltered a local Jewish tailor and his daughters, risking their own lives as the Germans had promised to kill any locals found harboring Jews.  Yet the whole island kept the secret and helped to protect the family. 

So she decides to find out the truth about the story, and to see if any of the family are still alive. As her search widens she starts to find out what really happened and learns more about the fates of the Jewish tailor and his girls.  While all of this is happening, her own family suffer their own tragedy - testing their faith and beliefs making this story all the more real and relevant. 5/5

Friday, December 22, 2017


As I was home sick, I thought I would be able to manage a couple of hours upright today while I ate my chicken noodle soup.  So I chose this movie, which I had been looking forward to.  In many ways it should have been my cup of tea, delightful London scenes, a cute London flat, Diane Keaton playing Diane Keaton and looking all stylie and cool with her boots, skinny trousers, and cashmere hat and Brendon Gleeson looking all unkempt and cuddly with remarkably ginger eyebrows.  Of course she is the dipsy shop owner who makes friends with the wild man living in the shed on Hampstead heath and they fight against the property developers trying to knock down his dwelling.

Now it could be my fevered mind, but I couldn't really follow the storyline, it all felt a bit muddled to me and although the visuals warmed my heart I didn't finish it thinking I would want to watch it again. 2/5

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The River of Consciousness - Oliver Sacks

This is a collection of Oliver Sacks essays bought together at the end of his life.  It covers a variety of areas that interested Oliver Sacks.  A neuroscientist, he was widely read and interested in most fields of science and this little book was a reminder of what an interesting, smart  and witty man he was and how his presence will be missed.  It was interesting to read about how he read old texts and research to learn about phantom limbs, his essay on common memory was fascinating and his admiration for Charles Darwin made me a fan of his fanboy fascination.  3/5

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay

I really enjoyed Roxane Gays book Hunger about her life, her sexual abuse and what it is to be a big woman in the world.  In this earlier book,  a collection of her essays are bought together which can make it seem a bit rambling as she talks on a variety of topics.

  She is an intelligent woman with and many of the essays were smart and challenging.  It is brutal to read when she writes about a gang rape case where the court is more concerned with the reputation of the boys involved than what happened to the victim.  It was even interesting to read about her adventures in the scrabble world - who knew that  people could retain all of those words and scores in their heads?  This book left less of an impression on me, and I did want to like it more but it didn't quite click with me. 3/5

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Boy in Winter - Rachel Seiffert

In a small village in the Ukraine in 1941, things are about to change as the Germans arrive, changing the lives of five different groups of people.  Forced to make impossible choices, the fear is real and everyone is scrambling to try to save themselves and their families.

Although a short novel I did find the changing narrative a little hard to follow and I could not quite see the characters in my mind. 3/5

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Oh Paddington, I don't know how I resisted your charms for so long but finally tonight, in need of a pick me up I sat and watched.  Oh so charming and sweet, I wanted to move into the Brown house and make marmalade with you - is that weird?

So even though it is a child's movie - it still held this middle aged ladies attention, although u won't  attend the cinema to see the sequel, I will quietly watch it on the couch at home with home popped popcorn.  4/5.

Want to See - The Shape of Water

Ohhh this looks good.  Sally Hawkins (who played Maudie) is the mute in love with the fishman.  I am so going to see this one at the cinema when it comes out - 18th of January here in NZ.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Alone in Berlin

It was a hot day in the city and rather than brave the crowds, I did the washing and relaxed at home.  Now as the evening cools a little, it was time to watch another 99c special before it disappeared in a couple of days.

  Alone In Berlin is based on a book, which in turn is  based on a real life couple.   In the movie an older married German couple discover that their only son has been killed and the grief turns them inside out.  Trying to survive in Berlin where they see chaos around them, they send out individual postcards around the city urging people to resist.  Meanwhile the authorities are trying to find out who is sending these messages, and the pressure is beginning to mount.  A serious watch, that is made bearable by the stellar Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson who I think puts in an amazing performance.  She is by far one of my favorite actresses to watch on screen - maybe the lack of botox allows her to show emotions so well, and she radiates sadness and fear as well as love in this little movie. 

It is not a light watch and left me a little sad at the end.  3/5

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Star Wars - The Last Jedi

Look at me - this middle aged lady going out on opening night like a youngster.  Actually friends of mine got tickets from their insurance team and so we were also loaded up with cheap sugary tasteless ice cream,  a bucket of popcorn and diet coke to make me want to pee after 10 minutes.  It did make me feel old to remember going to the same cinema to see the original star wars in 1977 with my parents, and now we are old enough to be taking my friends kids.

So of course it is another story about good vs evil, except this time a lady gets to fight with a light sabre, the baddie takes the mask off and  Carrie Fisher shines in her role while Luke Skywalker looks like he is heading off to rehab.

Although many of the nuances of the story may have been lost on me, and some of the plot points as I may have dozed off in places (to be fair I was at work until 4am this morning and only managed to fall asleep from 6-7am).  I did find it entertaining, and you know what you are in for.  Lots of serious discussions, battles, explosions, running, a touch of zen thrown in, more battles, loud explosions, fire, and finally the big battle.  I do wonder though if all the focus on the special effects comes ahead of making a good story, often it feels to me like it is just a series of battle scenes strung together in order to sell more video games.

So I wandered as I left the cinema if my friends boys will be coming back in another 40 years to see the newest one in the series?  3/5

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


On our NZ Duke TV channel  - they are currently playing a History Channel programme called Doomsday, that I recorded to watch the past two weeks or so.  It demonstrates 10 possible scenarios about the way the world could end, all looking rather grim and seem to involve us becoming crispy critters. 

This week was about a rogue planet coming close to earth causing the earth to break up.  Last weeks was about the earth entering a black hole.  As it is an American produced show, when each disaster starts to occur it primarily seems to destroy regions in Asia or Europe first.  The last lot of humans surviving are of course Americans, in the Black hole episode it was American military leader and politicians hidden in bunkers under mountains - they did eventually all get burnt up.  This week it was Americans in a submarine who were the last survivors - no mention of any other nationalities and their navies.  They too ended up burnt up. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Midnight Line - Lee Child

Oh boyfriend - this is it, the final breakup. We had a good run you and I, but it's over I can't do it anymore. You dragged me in thinking it would be fine, but you just gave me the same old same old. You teased me with a lady ring, and dreams of West Point, but 100 pages later you were still at the diner or cheap hotel, or dusty road.

So goodbye my friend - we had a good run, and I know you will keep on hopping on buses and find yourself a new lady reader. Good luck - I will miss you! 1/5

Monday, December 11, 2017

Middle Aged Mumster Monday Movie Night In - Patriots Day

After a busy weekend working, it was my middle Aged Mumster Monday Movie Night In.  The candles were lit, the chores discarded, a face mask was donned and the pack of chocolate chippie cookies was cracked open.  I had 20 hours in order to watch Patriots day on my itunes - yippee for 99c specials each week.

As you all probably know, this is the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings starring Mark Wahlberg and many other notable actors including John Goodman and Kevin Bacon.  I thought it would be all doom and gloom and glory, but it was sensitively handled with a lot of respect shown to the victims.  There is a little gore, but not enough to be offensive and it was nice that some of the survivors were shown at the end of the movie. 4/5

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Thirty Days - Mark Raphael Baker

This is a pretty raw memoir from Mark Raphael Baker, which he writes about his family and his beloved wife of 33 years Kerryn. He gives a picture of their family life , how they met, how their parents relationships affected their experiences, how they fell in love and their plans for the future.  When Kerryn is diagnosed with stomach cancer he helps her to navigate the ten months until her death.  It is a book about not only grieving, but about living your life to the end, about still making plans and helping your family to be able to continue on without you on.  He talks about dying, death and how all of our lives change in ebbs and flows over our lives, but primarily this is a book about love and family. 4/5

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Last Tudor - Philippa Gregory

I haven't read any Philippa Gregory novels for some time, but liked the premise of this story.  It tells about the end of the Tudors with Lady Jane Grey, who was  manipulated by her family and in laws to become Queen for 9 days before being beheaded as a traitor at only 16 years old.

We also get to meet her younger sisters Katherine and Mary, who are at the mercy of their cousin Queen Elizabeth the First and must follow her instructions or risk being branded traitors like their sister.

For me this felt like an original story about three sisters where there is little written about them, and I enjoyed the novel, easily getting lost in the Tudor times and thinking about how heavy and awkward those big dresses must have been to wear. 4/5

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Middle Aged Munster Night In - Four Weddings and a Funeral

Well it was a stay at home Saturday here, which was quite pleasant.  Chores were done and comfy pants worn .  I saw Four Weddings and a Funeral was on.  Can you believe it came out 24 years ago?

At the time it came out I lived in London and I remember going to see it at a cinema in Wimbledon which had 1/2 smoking and non smoking seats.  So you coughed all the way through and came out stinking.

At our work Christmas party that year one of the young girls turned up wearing a knock off of the Versace safety pin dress that Luz Hurley wore to the premiere.   The boys at work talked about it for months after.

Oh and I had a boyfriend who was an extra in the final church scene.  It was so long ago I can't remember what he looked like - haha.

So everytime I watch the movie it makes me smile and remember my years living in London.  I love it's easy English charm and funny characters, and have a soft spot for a young Hugh Grant.  So a highlight if the holiday season as all the old movies are rolled out again.  A refreshing change from car chases, computer generated special effects and super heroes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to be Champion - Sarah Millican

Sarah Millican is an English comedian who makes me smile everytime I see her on a show.  I have only seen comedy specials and the her participation on the many variety/game shows that seem to fill the tele late hours.  She is down to earth and funny, and reading her book felt very much like she was sitting next to me telling me her stories. 

Her book is part autobiography and part self help in how to get on with your life, to ignore the bullies, how she was able to move on after her divorce, why she doesn't want children, how after a variety of mundane jobs she decided to try being a comedian.  All of it was interesting and entertaining, and I felt at the end of the book I liked her even more. 4/5

Monday, November 27, 2017

Before I Go To Sleep

Ironically I did nod off watching this one on the couch.  At 99c on special at iTunes it wasn't a great loss to miss some of the middle of the story.  So Nicole Kidmans character who  has amnesia, wakes up each morning beside her husband Ben with no memory of the night before.  With help from her doctor she tries to figure out how she can be reminded about what has happened earlier to her.  Not is all as it seems of course, and she tries to figure out how she lost her memory and the suspicions she has about her husband.

I thought I would love it - Colin Firth, Mark Strong are all good actors - Nicole Kidman is a bit meh for me but she can still carry a film.  I couldn't help but feel that if I were waking up next to Colin Firth each morning, I would be happy.  Not having to go to work and swanning round in the big house would be cool too.  Colour me jealous, but I would have made the most of it, rather than being all morose and moody.

So it is a sad 2/5 from me.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Founder

Finally the wifi at home is working better, so I can catch up on a few shows and watch more movies while at home.  There is not much to watch on free television, so it is a treat to be able to stream a few things here and there.   The Founder was a 99c special on apple iTunes a couple of weeks ago, so it was time to watch it before it expired.

It is the story of Ray Kroc one of the founders of the McDonalds chain of  fast food restaurants.  Its an interesting story, but I can't really say I enjoyed it.  Ray seemed to have spent his time ripping off the original McDonalds founders brothers Maurice and Richard.  He seemed to undermine them at every turn, and ended up mega rich, while the brothers were forced to close and were not legally entitled to the money that had been promised to them.  His sneaky business tactics did not make me like him, and in the end I became a bit bored with this movie.  2/5

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Survivor Cafe - Elizabeth Rosner

This book is primarily a memoir - it tells the story about Elizabeth Rosner, whose Jewish parents met after the war, a father who was taken to Buchenwald and mother who escaped the Ghetto to hide in the forest for two years, married and immigrated to America.

 Living with the stories of their wartime experiences, the author considers what happens as they grow older and when they die - who will tell these stories? How the children and families of survivors also suffer from the pain that parents still feel and carry.   She also talks about many other major traumas in recent history and the effect on survivors and their families - how they move forward yet still honor their loved ones.  4/5

Friday, November 24, 2017

Grief Works - Julie Samuel

Julia Samuel is a counsellor who writes about some of the types of clients she has dealt with who come to see her about the death of a loved one.  She tells us there stories, and some of the things that they did to deal with the death of a partner/parent/child.  Interesting too were those people who seeked out her services as they were preparing for their own death.

It can be tricky for a lot of people to deal with as each death affects us differently, and everybody has their own way of processing that pain, and you can see that her job is to help guide people into moving on with their lives while acknowledging the loss.

While interesting - I felt a bit detached from this book. 3/5

Thursday, November 23, 2017

How Hard Can It Be - Allison Pearson

I do barely remember reading the original Kate Reddy novel by this author, many moons ago.  Now Kate Reddy is back.  Her kids are teenagers, her husband it busy riding his bike and ignoring her and the elderly parents are causing problems of their own.  Her 50th birthday is fast approaching and so Kate finds herself shuffling all of her family round, as she has to head back into the workplace which is full of colleagues who are half her age.

Being the same age myself, I could understand her position, but I found it all terribly predictable and a bit smug and self important.  I felt that if I knew Kate, I wouldn't like her much and felt like I had to trawl through this brick of a book. 2/5

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lost For Words - Stephanie Butland

I feel sad - a book about books and bookstores should be the type of book I really get into but something just didn't sing to me, and I had to give up after 50 pages. 

Monday, November 20, 2017


I always find it relaxing to settle down and read. I usually read before bed for an hour or so, and after work if I have time, and snatch minutes here and there before work or on days off.  A good book may manage to be read in a day or two, but more often than not it is 3 or 4 days at the moment.  I am having a bit of a crisis though, as I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read, and so many good ones.  So as the night air is chilly on this spring evening, I will get the dishes finished and head to bed early and try to almost finish the novel I am reading.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jane & Me - Caroline Knight

Caroline Jane Knight is the 5th great niece of the writer Jane Austen.  She grew up at Chawton House - the home of the Knight family, where Jane Austens brother Edward Knight inherited.  Caroline, and her brother are the last of the family to live at the house, and in this book she writes about the rich history of the Knight and Austen family.

This however is the story mainly about Caroline and her life, and somehow I think I was expecting to find some Jane Austen secrets in the book.  A found manuscript, a hidden locket or bonnets found in the attic - alas it was not to be,and I came away none the wiser about the author.  I did however get an understanding of how tough it must have been two hundred years ago, when women's lives were at the mercy of the menfolk of the family.  How they relied on the their fathers and brothers to look after them, and there must have been limited security, as the women would often be made homeless when husbands and fathers died.

With a great increase in the interest in Jane Austen in the past few decades, Caroline Knight to her credit has been telling her story at events, and updated the family history  of Chawton House, which was last written about 100 years ago by her great grandfather.  She has also established a foundation to assist with literacy using her famous great aunts name.  3/5

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Don't Let Go - Harlan Coben

I like Harlan Cobens novels - he has the ability to keep his stories even paced and filled with a good mixture of tension and amusement.  In this stand alone novel, Detective Nap has returned to his home town to investigate a couple of crimes that raise questions about what happened in his life 15 years ago.

The story had quite a few twists and turns, you can never be quite sure how it will go, and I liked that but somehow I didn't quite believe it and for me it felt a bit forced.  Maybe because there are so many thriller books/movies/shows around that I have become a bit jaded, and  it has become a bit more  difficult to find a story that feels original.  It is a genre of books that I don't read as much of anymore.  Maybe its not him - its me! 2/5

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Blue Planet 2

Oh Blue Planet 2 - you blew my mind tonight.  With your beautiful soothing blue oceans and graceful  critters gliding around.  I never knew there was a fish who could use a tool to open clams - mind blown.  Fish that can track birds, and leap up and catch them - boom - mind blown again.  Beautiful scenes off the New Zealand coast of dolphins and whales gathering together and appearing to communicate and play together - boom, boom,boom.

David Attenborough is a treasure too - the real voice of the series and he makes even the most harrowing scenes palatable.  I'm the girl who wasn't allowed to watch Lassie as a child, as it upset me too  much, and so I find scenes where animals are starving or hunting others a bit hard to watch.  So I hope it is playing for you soon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tulip Fever

I remember getting the original novel that this movie is based on years ago, and not being able to finish it although at the time it was hugely popular.  A bestie invited me to see the movie today, and I had seen the shorts and was looking forward to it.

Visually the set and costumes brought you straight into the period - the costume and set designers had done their jobs superbly.  Everything looked straight out of the amazing paintings that litter the walls of all the great art museums.  The story itself was good, but there just seemed to be something lacking in this movie, I think the chemistry was lacking between the main characters, they all seemed a bit wooden in their roles.  Although we were given a few sex scenes, they seemed to lack any passion and it is often the quieter moments when a look or a glance or a touch is more real and full of emotion, and there were little to none of these given to the audience.

I wanted the movie to flow too, and yet it felt a little disjointed and slow, trudging through the scenes.  What could have been a great movie, was just ok.  3/5

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Hunger - Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay has written a book about what it is to live in her body.  Her body that suffered a rape when she was just a child, and now as an adult - a large female adult she is brutally honest about how it is to carry her body around.   How her family and friends as well as strangers talk to her about her weight, how they look at her and act around her. 

I think all of us females have issues - we all see our faults, we worry about how we look and we spend out life comparing ourselves to others, and most of us feel that we are not good enough.  How are lives would be better if we were taller, thinner, had bigger breasts, bigger butts, longer hair, better skin, nicer teeth, more muscles etc, etc...  Imagine if we could all be happy and even proud of these beautiful bodies that carry us round, that carry us through our lives. 

This book was a great read, I devoured it in a couple of nights, and now will seek out her other works. 5/5

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Let Me Go

We went and saw this one on a Saturday afternoon, and for me it was a bit of a fail after being on call overnight, I may have nodded off several times missing major dramatic parts of the movie - although my friend also had a secret little snore too.  I do recall reading the book that it is based off some time ago.  Helga is in her sixties and travels back to Vienna to see her elderly mother, who  she hasn't seen in some time.  Her young grand daughter travels with her to have her own experience in the city. 

Instead of being a loving reunion it is terribly confronting as the elderly Traudi is proud of her past - of  assisting in Auschwitz in torturing and killing women and children, and deserting her own child to serve the Reich.  She does not understand why her daughter doesn't love her. 

More a Sunday evening drama than a Saturday afternoon entertainment.  3/5

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Last Hours - Minette Walters

I felt like this was a book of two halves.  The first one is about how the Black Death comes to a small manor and how the quick thinking of the lady of the house saves the local families from becoming infected.  This I liked, although I felt like I wanted more boils and suffering, and I guess you can understand in a time before tv/radio/news/internet how did small villages/towns/cities understand what was happening to them?  The second part of the novel for me seemed a bit messy and was just leading into the next book.  There does have to be a next novel, as the spoilt daughter needs to be taught a lesson that you sense is coming.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

There Are No Goodbyes - Elizabeth Robinson

Elizabeth Robinson is a counselor and coach who has the ability to see into the spiritual realm and uses this in her work to help clients to understand their illness and problems and help them to heal.  As well as talking about people she has worked with and counselled, she tells us about her life, how when she was younger she was emotionally sensitive - picking up on things, and seeing things that others different. 

An interesting and intriguing read about her spiritual journey and understanding.  I felt lighter after reading this book. 4/5

Thursday, October 26, 2017

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive - Tom Malmquist

This is a novel that reads like a memoir.  Toms life changes as his pregnant partner is taken to the hospital severely ill with what is first diagnosed with the flu.  As her condition deteriorates Tom is forced into a new world of Intensive Care and having to make decisions on behalf of his girlfriend.

The first half of the novel was incredibly tense and fast paced, and I felt myself drawn to the story, but I got a little lost in the middle section.  While I sympathized with the situation Tom was in, I found him a bit grating, and felt he was quite annoying.  3/5

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

When the English Fall - David Williams

Jacob and his family are Amish, and living on on their farm preparing for the winter ahead.  Their young daughter has been having visions and can see that things are about to change.  Soon planes fall from the skies, and there are rumors that in the outside world things are beginning to fail, with cars, engines, money machines and anything mechanical not working.

Things begin to impact on the family, as people realize that the Amish community has food stored and  pressure mounts on Jacob and his family to relinquish some of their supplies.

It made me feel a bit tense at the beginning of the novel, and maybe I expected it to head in a different direction than it did.  4/5

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell

Sadly, I seemed to only end up being annoyed at this novel.  I kept waiting for the magic to arrive, but instead I took a dislike to the main character, Samantha Whipple the last surviving member of the Bronte family.  Off to college at Oxford, she finds herself trapped in a dark and damp tower and having to defend all that she knows about literature to her handsome older tutor.

I was waiting for some Bronte secret to be unearthed or for the snarky Samantha to turn into a nicer character, instead I was annoyed with her from the beginning to the end.  She seemed a bit frozen into a immature  girl by her overbearing but dead father, home schooled by mainly reading Bronte novels which she seemed to hate

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Eleanor is a bit of an odd fish, not only lonely she seems to not understand people.  She lives alone and goes to her office job where she doesn't quite fit in, and on Fridays collects her supermarket pizza and 2 bottles of vodka and heads home for a weekend alone.  The only outside contact is a weekly phone call to her mother.

All this changes when she has contact with IT worker Raymond and they help an elderly man, Eleanors empty world begins to expand and with it changes that she does not expect.

I enjoyed this story, and understood the sadness, loneliness and isolation that Eleanor lives, and liked how she slowly was able to venture out, and how that brings her some type of happiness.  I am sure that this one will be made into a movie, and I hope they don't ruin it a la Bridget Jones style.  4/5

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Middle Aged Lady Movie Night - Cafe Society

After an afternoon out with a bestie yesterday, I have no shame in being home by 7pm before it has got dark and cold.  A light supper and then time to relax with a movie before heading to bed suits me.  Cafe Society was a 99c special on Apple Itunes, and as I hadn't seen it at the cinema during its long run, I was glad to see it.

Set in the early 1930s in Hollywood,Bobby  a young New Yorker comes to seek out his successful uncle who has made a career as a talent agent.  His uncle sends him out with his assistant Ronnie, who he falls in love with, but she has a boyfriend.  So begins the love triangle that is the heart of the story.

While visually nice to look at it still felt like a series of overdone sets, and expensive designer outfits that seemed out of place.  For me there was something missing in this Woody Allen story, a lack of humor or charm maybe, but I didn't click with the whole thing and was quite bored.  2/5

Saturday, October 21, 2017


It was a cloudy Saturday in the capital city and the clouds were looming.   A friend and I met to wander just a couple of shops before settling for a couple of calorific treats, well deserved after a long working week.  This had been one of the movies that I had been intending to see at the film festival several months ago, but due to sessions at odd times I had missed it.  We got our favorite icecreams at the counter and had a secret snigger as we were the youngest in the cinema by a few years (we are edging close to 50 ourselves).

I didn't know much going in, except that Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke were in it.  What a special little movie this one is.  It is based on a real life Canadian painter, Maude Lewis and the story about her life and love with her husband.    I won't spoil it with the whole plot - have a nosy at the trailer if you are interested.

We did leave with smiles, even though there was some sadness, and an appreciation for our indoor plumbing, big couches and warm beds.  Also if we win lotto tonight we are going to go and rent a cottage for a month in Nova Scotia - just not in the winter time.  Also maybe I will dream of a husband who can push me round on a little wagon!! 4.5/5

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Size Zero - Victoire Dauxerre

Discovered in the streets at just 17, Victoire seems to be living the dream as an Elite model.  She is quite blunt though about the perils of the industry, living on just 3 apples a day most days and fast entering into anorexic type behavior you could not help but feel that the industry takes advantage of these young girls.  I certainly wouldn't recommend it to any girls I know.  3/5

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Family Gene - Joselin Linder

Joselin Linder writes a book that is one half memoir and another medical mystery.   She describes watching her physician father become more and more unwell, while doctors struggle to figure out what is wrong with him.  It is not until other family members succumb to the same symptoms and problems, that the family and doctors begin to realize that this disease that only affects their family has a genetic cause.

With advances in genetic testing many of the family bring themselves forward to be tested, and after Joselin and her sister both test positive, it them forces them into making many ethical choices about whether to have children or not and what treatments to undergo, when there is no proven treatment plan.

Fascinating stuff - it makes you wonder what you would do in a similar circumstance and you have to admire her bravery for writing this book. 5/5

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I Am, I Am, I Am - Maggie O'Farrell

Fiction author Maggie O'Farrell writes a very different type of memoir.  This one is about her moments over her life, when she has felt the touch of death or violence come close to her.  Illness and incidents as a child, almost drowning as a teenager, to coming into close contact with a killer.  With a few descriptive sentences she is able to capture the essence of being a teenager, the smells and sounds of a group gathered together of a Friday night in a seaside town.

Being an adult she still has some encounters that are scary, her description of a difficult childbirth made me hold my breath as did the final story when she talks about her daughter, fragile and at risk of anaphylaxis to a multitude of allergies.

The book itself did feel a bit disjointed to me, maybe because it was not in chronological order.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Jane Austen Project - Kathleen A. Flynn

Two time travelers, Liam and Rachel are chosen to go back in time to 1815 to meet Jane Austen and secure an unfinished manuscript and letters before her known death in 1816.  How would you integrate yourself in her life in a society full with many social rules and what if every decision you made may have consequences for the future?

A very interesting premise and I loved the idea - who wouldn't feel a bit giddy at the chance to become involved in the world of Jane Austen and meet the author herself?  I did feel that the sense of wonderment was a bit lacking in the story, how even with all the training the main characters underwent how the sights and smells would have been quite astonishing even for us.  How hard it must have been to not talk or act in a modern way.  4/5

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Big Pig, Little Pig - Jacqueline Yallop

Big Pig, Little Pig is the non fiction  story about author Jacqueline Yallop and her husband.  Living in a small rural holding in France, they decide to get two pigs to be raised for meet.  This is the story of their year together,  where they get to know and love the two animals in their care.

I enjoyed reading about the relationship and could see how easy it would be to bond with these intelligent animals.  I would find it hard to think of killing and eating my own animals, and if I think about it too hard, it makes me want to turn vegetarian straight away.  So I understand the author being conflicted about thinking about killing their pigs. 4/5

Sunday, October 08, 2017


After an evening working, a visit to the supermarket it was time for me to collapse on the couch and not move for an hour or so.  Thanks to Apple TV this was the 99c movie of the week, so Passengers it is.  Thanks to dodgy wifi at home though, I only got to watch 20 minutes worth before giving up and going to bed.

Obviously the neighborhood youth do not arise before 10am, so I was able to get up this morning and watch the last of the movie over breakfast.  So Chris Pratt,  is Jim, an engineer who finds himself awaken aboard his spaceship.  The problem is that he is the only one awake, and they are 30 years from earth, and 90 years from their destination.  What to do?

This is one of those movies that felt like a little more style over substance.  While Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are hugely watchable, and the special effects were pretty amazing, I just wasn't touched by the story and wished that somehow the plot was a bit more developed.  3/5

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Cause of Death - Dr Cynric Temple-Camp

An entertaining read about a pathologist working in small town New Zealand.  Palmerston North may not be a hot bed of crime, but Dr Temple-Camp is able to keep us amused describing many of the cases that he has been involved with over the past few decades.

I guess these are his dinner party stories, which he probably couldn't tell over dinner as most would upset sensitive diners.  Me - well I like such tales and so I enjoyed it. 4/5

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Choice - Edith Eger

This is quite the amazing memoir.  Edith was 16 years old when the Nazis sent her and her family to Auschwitz.  There through a remarkable set of challenges her and her sister were able to survive when many others perished.

As an adult she has become a renowned psychologist and in this book she describes how many of the things she learned have been able to help her with her own healing.  Remarkable.  5/5

Monday, October 02, 2017

Victoria & Abdul

Today was a day off work, and after the chores were done it was a quick stroll into town to see Victoria & Abdul.  I had been looking forward to seeing this, and now my local cinema has dropped ticket prices to $10 it fits more into my budget.

I guess you know the story, Dame Judi Dench plays the elderly Queen Victoria who becomes enamoured with a young handsome servant Abdul, who had been sent from India to present a coin to the Queen. 

Depressed and lonely, the friendship develops and he helps to teach her about the Indian culture and language.  Family and staff though are suspicious especially as they spend so much time together.

Wonderful performances, sensational interiors, beautiful costumes and lots of actors of all ages without any botox in view all make it my type of favorite watch.  4.5/5

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Best of Us - Joyce Maynard

Wow, what a memoir.  Joyce Maynard is a fiction author, who bares herself in writing this story about her life.  Primarily is a book about her great love.  How when she was 58, she met the love of her life Jim, and how they both found a great joy in being together and enjoying life.  They enjoyed music, travelling, driving and just spending their time together.    Then a year after getting married, Jim is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The second part of the memoir is pretty daunting, as Joyce and Jim try to decide what treatments to pursue and whose advice they should follow.  They seek out other sufferers and survivors to find out what worked for them and meet people for advice and support, watching most eventually die of this horrid disease.

I could have carried on reading for so much longer, as Joyce opened up on her life, but the story did eventually have to end.  I didn't cry, but just felt in awe of reading this book, which felt like reading one big private love letter. 5/5