My Reads – May 2014

I am falling behind my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books for the year. I best try kicking it up a notch!

Book 15

Love Life (2014)

by Rob Lowe

A famous magazine article in 1985 penned many up and coming actors and actresses as “The Brat Pack,” consisting of Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Molly Ringwald, and Rob Lowe to name the key players. Most of these guys and gals peaked around that time and never really reached much higher after the article was published. Rob Lowe however has had an astonishing career… yeah he fumbled it afterwards until around the time of Wayne’s World. But now he is at the top of his game with a slew of shows.

His first book which I highly recommend is titled Stories I Only Tell My Friends, and like the title they are stories that go from alcohol problems to stories involving his celebrity friends. That is still the case in this book, although this one is more towards his family. I was sceptical jumping into his first book thinking it was just going to be another celebrity cash grab type deal, that is not the case. His prose is amazing, and I found myself reading it with his voice. If you like stories involving celebrities, stories involving acting and television production, addiction, or just because you like Rob Lowe give this book a shot. I recommend reading his first book beforehand if you haven’t already.

Rob Lowe: Actor, author, and family man – 4/5 Stars

Book 16

Dorothy Must Die: No Place Like Oz (Prequel)(2013)

by Danielle Paige

There are a lot of young adult books which have a prequel novella to the main story, and in most cases the stories are rich. It would be great to see them published within the paperback books for a complete experience, alas they are not and are typically only available digitally. No Place Like Oz tells the story of Dorothy from where we left her in the Baum books to show that in this vision of the story she becomes the villain. This is also the first time I’ve seen Aunt Em and Uncle Henry be used throughout an Oz story and not acting as minor characters.

For less than two dollars you can buy this amazing little 132 page novella. I recommend it for fans of Oz, and of YA books such as the Lunar Chronicles.

A very edgy retelling of a classic story – 4/5 Stars

Book 17

Z for Zachariah (1974)

by Robert C. O’Brien

Zombie apocalypses are all the rage these days. Why? Because of the stories of struggle that come with it, and for the hope needed to start the world anew. That’s what this story is and that is why it has been used throughout schools since it’s publication. The story consists of a post apocalyptic world where Ann, a young teen, has been left to her house and surrounding areas in fear of the radiation that has contaminated what may be the remainder of the Earth. After a year Mr Loomis, a man in a safe suit, discovers Ann and the secrets he brings with him may threaten her existence. The sad thing about this book is the fact that it was published after the author’s death.

A very original post apocalyptic story that has been somewhat dated by the way these stories have been recycled in recent years – 3/5 Stars

Robert

Most Watched Films

I watch the following movies at least once a year. Unlike other movies I can watch these over and over again without growing tired of them. We all have these movies and these are the ones I consider to be my favourite movies.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I would consider this to be my favourite film of all time. I love the strange and quirky beats this film takes, one after another. This was also the film that relaunched Robert Downey Jr. into the big film star we know and love today. It is not a perfect film, but it’s the most fun I’ve had and continue to have with a film. If you like crime-action-comedy films, this is one you must watch.

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Clerks 2

Kevin Smith takes dirty conversations and makes them into buddy films you can only adore. This film tackles many topics you aren’t likely to see in any other type of movie. If you enjoy great dialogue no matter the context, Clerks 2 is for you. Clerks 3 is in the works, so here’s hoping he scores gold again.

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The Boat that Rocked

This film is incredibly fun with a 60’s soundtrack to boot. The casting is perfect, and you will find yourself enjoying every character. By Richard Curtis, who directed Love Actually, and more recently About Time, so you are in good hands here.

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Lost in Translation

People either love this film or hate it. It is one of the best films I’ve ever seen and my favourite relationship between two characters that I’ve seen on film by Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson. This is not your typical Hollywood flare, but a slow paced journey of two souls.

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Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost… you can’t go wrong! This is hands down the best zombie movie you will ever see.. it is a comedy, but so what. It’s brilliant!

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Easy A

A love letter to 80’s films with Emma Stone, enough said!

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Pan’s Labyrinth

I wrote a review of this film on my blog HERE a couple of years ago. In my opinion it is the best fairy tale ever made for the big screen. Yes, it is in spanish, but you won’t notice when you are all caught up in all the magic that Guillermo del Toro brings to the screen.

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Prince of Egypt

Bible stories are fascinating, are they not? I put them up against fairy tales, stories told to give a moral or tell a message. In the Prince of Egypt I can get swept up in the amazing world of Ancient Egypt. It’s beautiful, and the musical elements just give an extra bit of awe to the story.

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Rent

Rent is a celebration of life, of hope, and death. Easily my favourite musical. While it can be happy and upbeat, it also becomes very depressing.

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The Great Gatsby

My newest addition to my most watched films. It has tons of flaws but I’m very smitten with it. I love the tragedy, and the hope seen in Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby. The soundtrack is also ambitious and perfect for setting the scene.

Would love to hear what your own most watched movies are in the comments 🙂

Robert

 

My Reads – April 2014

Uni is finished for the semester so I can catch up on some posts. This month is almost concludes the books I read for my class on Children’s Literature. Enjoy.

Book 12

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter (1999)

by Adeline Yen Mah

This is an autobiography of the author, Adeline Yen Mah and her childhood. The title has very little in common with the original story, and quite frankly it’s a title used to bridge a gap with western audiences. Aside from being unlike Cinderella it’s a story with Niang, the mean stepmother who spends her time creating miserable circumstances for Adeline. Adeline comes from a wealthy family, yet is not terribly liked by her siblings and her father is usually absent or siding with Niang over material items to school transport. Adeline is really an unwanted daughter in this story and while she was never completely disowned (though nearly) the story is not uncommon. She would see others with signs on the streets which she passed to school. Imagine that? I struggle to believe any parent would dare give up a child.

The most touching thing about this book to me is the dedication. She dedicates it to every child that was ever unwanted in China. Additionally, Adeline touches on many aspects of China’s culture and these parts I really enjoyed learning about. Yes, China can be full of grim news, but children in these horrible situations can make it through and can eventually get their happy ending.

This is an eye opener of a book to those like myself who lived a relatively good life – 4/5 Stars

Book 13

Hating Alison Ashley (1985)

by Robin Klein

Erica Yurgen is the school prefect that no one likes. She is as quirky and as odd as the worst of them and is quickly intimidated by Alison Ashley, who is smart, beautiful, and adored by everyone she meets. It’s a story of two different backgrounds clashing with Alison as the rich and seemingly perfect life, and Erica as the obnoxious opposite to her. Erica is ultimately competing with popularity and herself. She strives to live the life Alison has and the life she wished of was never clearly presented to her until Alison came along. Erica is a compulsive liar from the moment they met so she lies about her lack of materialistic things and tries putting Alison down instead.

So this story surrounds twelve year olds in a school setting… I was home schooled for the majority of primary school so it’s never been one of those easy to relate to portions of life. Even though Erica never had any popularity she always had an odd sense of self worth in front of her peers. This is the most important thing after all, even if I couldn’t stand her character.

Mediocre at the best of times – 2.5/5 Stars

Book 14

The Ghost’s Child (2007)

by Sonya Hartnett

The story takes place with Maddy as an old woman chatting to a child who is full of queries enquiring Maddy’s younger days. For starters Maddy is asked by her father what is the most beautiful thing in the world? A question Maddy has no answer to, so for two years Maddy’s father takes her on a trip around the world before asking her for the answer once again. It moves to Maddy’s love Feather a boy unshackled from the realm of society by living life on the beach. The story gets very dark as the subject matter deals with suicide, and similar circumstances. However this is a fable and it seamlessly transitions into the fantastical.

There are so many beautiful sentiments in this book. It takes you on a journey with Maddy to places you would never expect. Sonya’s writing had me excited from the get go and I couldn’t put it down till the very end.

So many levels, and I loved every moment of it – 4.5/5 Stars

Images take you directly to the book on Amazon.

Robert

A Letter to My Godfather

Dear Uncle George,

You had so much love for me.. I hear about it to this day and I feel it everyday.

It all happened quick. I was 7 at the time, from memory. Dad caught a flight out of Malaysia the very next day to be by your side. I was very upset I couldn’t go too. Days later Mum told me you had very little time left. I was told you weren’t very lucid near the end, that you couldn’t recognize your own family. All I wanted to do was to come running up to you with a smile, let you know I was there and I was thinking of you. The only thing I knew I could do was pray. I believe in God, but I had never prayed before. I knelt before my bed, and by the windowsill. My hands pressed together and against my chest. I spoke with the innocence of a child and addressed God. I believe he was listening.. I pleaded for God to save you. I now think my plea was selfish for the suffering you were in. Yet I would do it again. The next day you passed away… and my world emptied. I cried for myself. I wanted you to see me grow up.. I wanted to show you the man you knew I’d become 

I think about you all the time Uncle George. I know you are still up there watching over us all. I wish I had more time to know you.. The memories I do have of us make me smile and I stand proud everyday knowing I carry your name “Juris”. I plan to pass the name onto my firstborn son someday. I’ve spent every single day feeling special because of you.

I love you Uncle George,

Your loving godson,

Robert

Two Beautiful Souls

I read a letter from my late godmother last night.

As soon as I put the full stop on the above sentence my body shook and I filled with tears. My Godmother was a very special lady, and my Godfather was a very special man.

I was losing my Godfather as a child and didn’t know it till his final days. I had no understanding of what it meant to have cancer. The night he passed away I prayed to God for the first time.

I was told that he didn’t remember who people were. His own family was appearing like strangers to him at the worst of times, but the worst of times shifted to most of the time. My next post that you can read HERE is a short letter I wrote to my late Godfather two years ago.

Reading the letter from my Godmother made me realise I don’t remember the last time I saw my Godfather. I was a child living overseas and it had been at least two years since I had seen him. I’m sure I must have spoken to him on the phone at some stage. In those years it was very expensive to talk overseas. Life would have been so much happier with technology like Skype. To see their faces, and hear their voices, to even kiss the camera in the place their cheek was positioned.

I have a choppy memory of him. I have one perfect memory of him and I walking down the beach talking. He let me choose a VHS from the video shop. It was We’re Back! – A Dinosaur’s Story. It might not be much to most, though it is to me. The influence and support he gave me in my early years is a part of me to this very day.

Even though he’s no longer here I still want to make him proud of me… I like to think he smiles down on me sometimes.

I love my Godmother with all my heart too. I remember the last time I saw her. It was after a very long day at school and mum wanted to stop in quickly to wish her a good travel before her flight to see her child and grandchild. We were all in her place talking for a little while and finally I went outside waiting to go. In my mind I had said my goodbye and I would see her again in two-three short weeks. I waited outside hoping to usher my mum out of there quicker because I was tired and just wanting nothing more than to go home. We all left not long after I went outside. I called out bye to her from outside without going in to see her properly in person. Those were my last words to her and I feel so ashamed and sad that I had not been in a happy mood to see her.

She had complications with blood clots on the flight and ended up being rushed to hospital. The doctors gave her too much blood thinner and she was unconscious for a few days before passing away. I miss her so much and I’m angry with myself for the last time I saw her. I should have run inside and given her a big hug. I miss her dearly. She had the most beautiful soul, and when you talked to her you were the most important thing on this great Earth.

It’s mothers day today, and while I have my own mother to celebrate I’ll be thinking of my beautiful Godmother also. Heaven has two of the most beautiful souls up there.

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I wish we had more time together.

I love you both.

Your loving godson,

Robert

My Uncredited Life Partner

Sometimes when I’m reading around 3:30 am my eyes give in and the words begin to blur in favour of sleep. So this happened last night as I was reading the suspenseful Misery by Stephen King. I planned on reading till around page 150 before I called it a night, but came up short and ended up on around page 90. Ok, I don’t think many people take naps at 3:30am, nor do I, though on this occasion I thought I would just rest my eyes. I left the light on so I would certainly wake from my slumber. I even left my bottle of Pepsi by the bed instead of returning it to the fridge.

It may have been a mistake to cuddle up with one of my pillows which allowed for a more comfortable sleep. As my eyes plastered together I was fast asleep and the next thing I know it was 11am. First thing I noticed was the daylight blasting through my blinds, which had me a little disappointed that I slept this long because I much prefer reading at night in the quiet and the cool air.

Next thing I noticed were my ceiling lights… they were off. This could not have happened!

First off I lock my room door most nights, it’s by habit really. I lived by myself once upon a time in Brisbane where I locked my room door for extra security, and again in my parents place when I lived in a shed designed with all the knacks that made it a temporary room. So by habit I still do it most nights and on this particular night my door was locked. It was still locked when I woke up, but the light switch was turned off completely. I never sleepwalk or forget if I wake up in the middle of the night either.

Therefore I believe one of two things.
1. A spirit or a guardian turned off the light for me?
2. Or I have been ingrained with some form of telekinesis? (haha)

I certainly think it had to have been a spirit or a guardian. I have had a sum of encounters with what I think have been spirits, with most ones I can find ways to disprove them even if they were true. I am just as much a sceptic as I am a believer, equal parts Mulder and Scully. With my past experience I have had one that is undoubtably real and I stood watching that one for some time peering out the window at me, it was the same shape as an adult and appeared like a black silhouette. The thing that made me know that time was real was the fact that it pulled across the curtain exactly like any person would and I could see it clear as day. I always thought that spirit was connected to my younger sister, but I feel a good presence with me to this day. I feel it sometimes in my presence. I think I felt it when I was in my car accident. I should have been scared, but everything inside me said you’re going to be alright before and during the time of impact.

There is someone connected to me and looking out for me. I don’t know why this is, though I think it might be love. Maybe it was just a light switch that got turned off, and maybe there is some logical reason connected to it all. Maybe I just needed to write this to say I know you’re there and I know you are a good presence that is much welcomed in my life… I even whisper my thanks to you in the dark and sometimes talk aloud because I am afraid of seeing things society calls ‘fiction’.

Spirit or guardian angel? I believe in you whichever you may be. Thank you for making me feel safe, and thank you for turning off the light switch.

Robert

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Pieces of Me

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