Category Archives: Book/Film Review

Film Review: Philomena (M) 5 stars

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I know, many of you have seen this movie, but maybe there’s someone out there who hasn’t, so I will write this for you!


Here in Victoria, Australia we are having a hot spell. It is too hot to be in the garden and there is nothing very interesting on television. Last night we resorted to watching a video. Maybe in the Northern Hemisphere it’s too cold to work in the garden, and you might like to watch a good movie also.

Philomena is based on a true story of a mother, played by Judi Dench, looking for her lost son. It is directed by Stephen Frears.

The story flits into the past, 1952, where Philomena is a young girl in Ireland and gives birth to a son in a convent. Here she works for her keep, and is allowed to visit her child for an hour a day. As a ‘fallen woman’, she had no rights, and toddler, Anthony, and his best friend are sold to an American couple for adoption.

Philomena never forgets her son. When she has almost given up trying to find him herself, she manages to convince a journalist and former government adviser, Martin Sixsmith, (Steve Coogan), to take on her mission. He is reluctant at first but he gradually succumbs to Philomena’s charm and is touched by the injustice of what has befallen her. Their search takes them to America.

Although this sounds a somber topic, it is heartrending and convincing as we see the journalist and Philomena form a bond as they search for her son. The ending: I shall leave this for you to discover, as it is well worth seeing for your-self. This film was winner of Best Adapted Screenplay and won the BAFTA Awards 2014, as well as being nominated for Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards in 2014.



A Children’s Book: Lily’s Wish

Yesterday I received a wonderful surprise when ChristineR reviewed my Children’s book. So here is a link to Christine’s post, called, ‘A children’s book: Lily’s Wish’.  ChristineR

Thank you Christine, I am thrilled that you like it and felt moved to review itCover image from the publisher's website.

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Suspect book review:

Another Playaway Audio Book I greatly enjoyed was Suspect By Robert Crais. For those of you who are dog lovers, this suspense drama follows the life of a highly trained dog. First of all we find Maggie in Afghanistan and then later she becomes a police dog.

Having had many dogs during my life-time, I learnt more about the needs of dogs listening to this novel. Maggie suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome after her time in Afghanistan, and is able to help Scott rehabilitate too. He is suffering from the same condition. The gentle intimacies and needs of both are explored, showing Maggie’s need to guard and protect. This emotional story follows a police drama, wanting to solve the case involving the death of Scott’s partner.

A must for any dog

Another ten minute free write.

Book Review: The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock

Book Review: The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock

I listened to this as a library Clipper Audio book, which works well with the two main characters tell their own story. Anna Bentinck narrates a middle class Englishwoman, Theodora, and British actress Adjoa Andoh narrates her impoverished Moroccan live-in help, Mona.

The duel story is gripping with two quite different perspectives. It immerses one into modern London life, being torn by a job and family commitments. After the death of Theodora’s mother, the family dynamics change. The darkening, brooding tension builds up. Kindness is a fragile commodity. Frustration is woven through both lives, but lacking empathy and trust bring about dire consequences.

Recommended reading.

Review: ‘Savior’ by Martha Kennedy


Review of ‘Savior’ by Martha Kennedy

Historical novels are not my usual choice, but this novel immersed me back in the time of knights and crusaders in the C13th. The protagonist, Rudolph, a young Swiss man is suffering from depression. He believes Satan has claimed his soul and the only way to rid him-self from this dilemma is to travel by horse to the Holy Land where he hopes to end his life fighting for the religion he’s lost touch with. He leaves behind his beautiful fiancé.

Rudolph travels with his younger brother, Conrad, who is full of life and hope. Rudolph has much to learn and the story follows his journey of finding himself through living with a hermit, who helps him discover, ’The truth is everywhere yet so difficult to see.’ This time is delightfully told with philosophical questions posed.

His return home has surprises in store. Will his fiancé still be waiting for him? Does he want this sort of future? This book looks at life from a depressive’s stance, through to his overcoming this disability. It also looks at the effect of loss and loneliness on other characters in the story. We are left guessing how the story will resolve itself until the last page.

Martha Kennedy skillfully writes, whisking us back into a time of long ago.

Fantasy vs real life: Daily post

You get to spend a day inside your favourite movie. Tell us which one it is- and what happens to you while you are there.                                                                                   (Thanks to the lovely prompt idea Mywitchkitchen)

 I am torn between two simple movies, if I’m to share a part:

‘Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Café’ and ‘Enchanted April’.

In Fried Green Tomatoes, I’d probably choose to be the older woman looking back at her youth. The fact that she chooses to support her friend and remove her from a violent relationship brings justice. To cook the recalcitrant husband and serve him up to the policeman, appealed to me at the time.

The other film, ‘Enchanted April’, as the title suggests, brings together four women, discontented with their disparate lives, in the wet, cold weather of England. Together they escape to the Italian Riviera for a month’s holiday in a wonderful old castle, surrounded by beautiful over grown gardens. Of course I’d like to play the young woman who proposes this escapade. If you’d enjoy an Italian romantic holiday, it’s worth a look.

I wouldn’t want to mess about with the story lines, but live them as they are played out. Both of these stories share the importance of friendship and how it alters and expands their lives, giving of themselves they receive threefold.

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Alternative Energy and Congratulations to Richard Flanagan:

From your musical tastes to your political views, were you ever way ahead of the rest of us, adopting the new and the emerging before everyone else?

Solar energy comes to mind. My father was selling solar panels in Tasmania back in the 1970s. He was ahead of his time. He put solar panels on our home when we returned to Tasmania to heat our hot water. We also had a Raeburn stove, so the water had duel heating methods, but it helped keep our power bill low.

When we moved into this home, our first task was to get solar energy to assist to bring our costs down. Although it was initially expensive, our hope of having lower living costs was a priority, as well as our bit to help the environment. Today, we had the service man to service our system. He had many ideas about how we could go off the grid altogether. That is our next priority. Changes are happening so quickly with the power companies charging more, we are really grateful that we are able to do this.

It is so sad that our government is not encouraging and prioritizing alternative energy sources, in fact, making it more difficult, by closing down any support to agencies that are/were working and researching in this area.

Yesterday our Australian, (Tasmanian), author, Richard Flanagan, who won the Booker Prize for his book, ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’, spoke of how ashamed he was of Australia lagging behind, and not facing Climate Change. Congratulations to this wonderful author, I am really looking forward to reading his book, and well done for speaking up!



Eclectic mix:

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

Today the wind is blowing a gale, I’d love to curl up in a chair and read. Instead, I must get to the garden and fit in a walk before the forecast rain comes late this afternoon. I read both fiction and non fiction.

I adore fiction and losing myself in a story. At the moment I’m reading a discarded book from the library. (They sell off unwanted books for a ridiculously low price). Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author writes with a spiritual slant. ‘The Alchemist’ was one of his books. This book is called ‘Briola’, about a young woman trying to find her path. To be blunt, I’m looking forward to my next book, something to get my teeth into.

Reading stories set in Italy inspire me. ‘The Promise’, by Australian author, Lisa Clifford is well written and brought back many memories for me. Another, ‘A Thousand Days in Venice’, Marlena de Blasi, set in that romantic city. Of course there are the many Donna Leon detective stories, in the laid back Venetian environment, where there’s always a delightful meal and time with the family.

Frances Fyfield and Alice Munro have been authors I’ve sought out and enjoyed.

Having seen Tara Moss in a debate, I was impressed with her approach to life. I ordered her autobiography from the library, ‘The Fictional Woman.’ She leads an interesting life, but this book I skimmed, as it’s not for me. Of recent times I’ve read quite a few biographies and autobiographies, some good, others not, may be I’m getting more picky as time passes.

A good book can come in many guises, but once found, treasure it.


Review: ‘Six Weeks In Summer’ Helen Meikle

Book Reviewsixweeksinsummer_cover_final

‘Six Weeks in Summer’, written by Helen Meikle has a strong voice. The protagonist, Meg Cornwell, a freshly widowed, isolated woman, pulled at my heart- strings. A woman who had been overshadowed by her husband and his family, gradually begins to find herself and blossoms, as she discovers her strengths and shakes off the past.

Meikle captivates her audience, drawing them into a group of disparate characters. These lives very soon become entangled and, I too, felt part of this coterie, not wanting the story to finish.

The bullying antagonists are duly dealt with in an inventive way, bringing joy and warmth to the fragility of those other broken lives.

For those of you who have enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s tales of Scotland, here is an Australian story that is equally charming.

helen meikle’s scribblefest

The Light Between Oceans: Review

‘The Light Between Oceans’ by M.L.Stedman
first published 2012

The story begins in Western Australia. Tom Sherbourne, the protagonist, is a returned soldier from WW1. On his return to Australia he obtains a job as the lighthouse keeper on a remote island, Janus Rock, soon taking his bride, Isobel, to live with him there.

Their loving relationship is marred by three miscarriages. When a baby washes up in a dinghy with her dead father, Isobel thinks God has answered her prayers. Tom is torn between keeping his wife happy and not breaking the law. This dilemma is the core of the story, which continues to maintain tension until the end of the book.
Wisdom and forgiveness are issues that are deftly dealt with. What is right? What is wrong? Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference.
I couldn’t put the book down and recommend this believable story.

The author was born and brought up in Western Australia and later moved to London UK. The book is permeated with her love of Western Australian flora and fauna and the ocean. As a first novel, (now translated into nearly 30 different languages), it has hit the best seller list in many countries, including being a New York Times Best Seller.