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Coda.

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve reviewed a book, but that’s been because I haven’t finished any books lately. My “to be read list” is far too long. I start reading something but don’t persevere with it, and start something else. My attention span is limited at the moment, which is because of a certain amount of stress I’m sure. Anyway. I find myself perusing short articles on Facebook and news sites, and commenting on other comments on Facebook, instead of doing any amount of substantial writing. Even when I watch Netflix, Britbox, Youtube etc, I watch series that aren’t much longer than 45 minutes. So, no I’m still not going to review a book, because I haven’t finished one yet. Hopefully I will in the next three weeks that I’m on my holiday/staycation. Over the weekend I managed to watch a whole movie, which was Coda. I know very little about deaf people, so Coda was very interesting for me. Not only is it a coming of age film, films I always enjoy, it is also about a teenager called Ruby – a “child of deaf adults”. It is about the challenges she faces as the only hearing person in her family, and of course the challenges her family face as deaf people in a world full of mostly hearing people. She realizes she is really good at singing, and wants to follow her passion, and the challenges she has to deal with, at home and at school because of that. It had just the right amount of humor and drama for me, of families adapting with change and the challenges they face, especially when teenagers are about to leave school and make their way out into the world. I would give it a 9/10. If this is your sort of genre, it’s well worth watching.

Misha and the wolves.

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On Netflix, this documentary begins by telling the story of a Belgium woman, Misha Defonseca, who as a seven year old Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation of Europe, runs away after being taken in by a Catholic couple, who weren’t good to her, and treks through Europe in an effort to find her parents who been taken by the Nazis and for a time, lives isolated in a forest, with wolves as her companions, wolves that accepted her, albeit as a lower ranking member of their pack. If this sounds interesting, and you want to watch it, from this small intro, but haven’t heard of this story, don’t carry on reading, as the rest of the post contains spoilers as to the outcome of the story.

The second world war was certainly a time of great upheaval around the world. People suffered tremendously. One can only imagine how it must have been for children, to be living normal and safe lives with loving parents, then before you know it, a foreign army has arrived in your country and city and there is war and destruction all around you, never mind losing your parents.

It’s a story that pulls you in, and despite the ending, it is still a very tragic story of a woman who endured the loss of her parents as a young girl during the second world war, if nothing else. It is certainly worth a watch. I’d never heard of this story before, and Misha wrote a book that was translated into 18 languages, about her tragic early childhood.

As it turns out, Misha was not Jewish, but Catholic. Her parents were resistance fighters during the Nazi occupation of Belgium. Sadly, her parents were captured, and under torture Misha’s father gave up the names of fellow resistance fighters, so he could see his family one last time. Her parents were then sent to a concentration camp where they later died. Misha, then went to live with her grandparents and she became known as a “traitor’s daughter”. It must have been awful for a a young girl to endure the loss of parents, and then live with that stigma because of what her father did. It is quite normal for children to lose themselves in make believe worlds, especially when dealing with trauma. It seems Misha, whose real name is Monique, did just that. The problem was, she wrote a book claiming that she was Jewish and what she endured, including her time in the wild with wolves. She has said, that “It’s not the true reality, but it is my reality. There are times when I find it difficult to differentiate between reality and my inner world.” If she’d actually written a book on her real life, I’m sure she would have found a market for it. Do we judge her for her deception, or do we have pity for a little girl who obviously suffered what no child should have to? It’s difficult. When she first stood up, and told people about her “story” did she really not know what she doing and the impact her deception would have on others? Did she not heal adequately from her experiences as a child, that once she began telling her “imaginary” tale, she believed it as real? Or did she know better and regardless of the outcome, she carried on telling her story?

Fake Famous

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Another documentary I watched this weekend, which I found quite intriguing was Fake Famous, about buying followers on Instagram, mostly “Bot” followers to become an Influencer and famous. I do have an Instagram account, but I rarely use it and have only posted five photos on it in as many years. I do browse through my feed occasionally, but I am not interested in the latest fashion trends, celebrity gossip etc. I prefer travel clips and photograpy, book and film reviews, and health and fitness info. I am not interested in becoming famous. When I was ten, I wanted to become a famous actress, but that dream didn’t last long and I moved on. At nearly fifty, I am happy with the choices I’ve made in my life, for the most part, and where I am now. For younger people, in their early twenties, and who want to get rich and become famous, becoming a social media influencer may seem glamorous and exciting, but with so much competition, it is difficult to break through, so for some, buying followers, I guess if they are struggling, would be something to be considered.

So what the director of Fake Famous did was select three people wanting to become famous, and bought them fake followers, made their Instagram accounts look a lot more interesting. Made it look like they lived well heeled and adventurous lifestyles when in actual fact they were just ordinary youngsters dreaming a dream. Apparently many real celebrities, according to the documentary have fake followers.

I knew none of this before watching Fake Famous. I guess working nights in a NNICU keeps me from spending too much time on social media. Yes, I keep up with the news and current affairs, but like I said, celebrity gossip etc, not so much.

If you don’t know much about this aspect of social media, it makes for interesting watching.

Seaspiracy/Cowpsiracy

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These last few months I have not been reading as much as I like to, instead I’ve been watching more of Netflix. On Saturday evening I watched Seaspiracy, on Netflix. It was certainly eye opening and if you aren’t aware at just how much damage commercial fishing is doing to the world’s oceans, you will be after watching this documentary. For us urban dwellers, who go to the supermarket and buy pre – packaged fish and and animal meat, we are only seeing the end product. We don’t see firsthand what happens to animals on their journey to the supermarkets and ultimately onto our plates. We live in willful ignorance and even when we are confronted with evidence about the damage commercial fishing (on a massive scale) is doing to the oceans, we tell ourselves it’s our decision to eat what we want. We would rather just put our heads in the sand – because we’ve grown up eating fish and meat, because it tastes good, we don’t want to change our lifestyle, we don’t want to ask ourselves hard questions and make the decision to go vegetarian or ideally vegan. I’ve also just watched Cowspiracy – also on Netflix and also similar to Seaspiracy, which is about how damaging cattle farming/animal agriculture on a large industrial scale is. The main cause of the Amazon deforestation is because of cattle ranching. There are no fish being caught in a truly sustainable manner anymore – likewise it’s the same with the mass produced beef, lamb, pork and chicken that is so readily available in our supermarkets, that are often given antibiotics, and reared in often poor conditions, i.e feedlots. At the end of the day, it’s also about the fact that there are nearly 8 billion people on the planet, so many of whom believe that consuming mass produced animal meat and products like milk and eggs is normal. If you eat meat, these two films will make you question why you do. If they don’t make you question your meat/fish consumption, you may well be choosing willful ignorance and not wanting to admit just how much we are damaging our land and oceans because of mankind’s consumption of animal products on such a large scale. Likewise, watch David Attenborough – Life On Our Planet to understand just how much wild habitat mankind has destroyed in the last 100 years in the name of progress. For an intelligent species who can send space craft to Mars, we are pretty stupid when it comes to looking after our planet.

Science Fiction.

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Science Fiction. It’s a genre that doesn’t appeal to some, but it’s one of my favorites. Recently I finished watching season six of The 100. The first season was the best, but that’s often the case. It’s probably gotten a little over the top as it’s progressed, but that’s what it is – fiction. Even if it’s over the top, it’s pure entertainment and I enjoy it. I hadn’t watched an actual Sci – Fi movie for a while, so I started off with The Midnight Sky with George Clooney. It was simply a slow burn movie, with George Clooney as an old man, the last man left in the Arctic Circle, and one of the last humans left on earth because of some catastrophe or other. He’s facing his demons, the mistakes of his youth and he’s also trying to contact a crew in outer space, to let them know there’s hardly anyone left back home, and it will be dangerous to return. Nothing memorable for me in that movie to be honest. The second was “10 Last on Earth”. Also another slow burn one. I hadn’t quite realized it would be similar in a way to Midnight Sun, if I’d known, I probably would have skipped it. In this second film, a young woman is living in the last part of the planet that has breathable air, somewhere on a mountain top, because of pollution. Her father had been trying to come up with a solution to save earth, but when the film starts he is nowhere to be seen. A man then lands on her little mountain top, by way of a hot air balloon. He had a reason for landing there, to meet her father who is MIA as far as he knows. They get to know each other but time is running out. She’s also facing her demons, and the man in the hot air balloon needs to convince her to leave with him. The ending irritated me. Actually, the young woman irritated me, but give it a go (on Netflix) if you really want to find what happens. Maybe I was just unimpressed with those two films because the world right now is not in a good place, what with Covid, amongst other problems and I just found the two movies more than a little depressing. If I’d watched the movies before Covid, I might have had a slightly different view towards them, but they still wouldn’t have been great or award winning movies. On the other hand, Avatar, Elysium or District 9 – as far as I’m concerned those were great sci – fi movies. Then lastly I watched Bright, with Will Smith. His character is a cop, whose partner is an Orc. His partner is the first Orc cop, and all the other orcs consider him a sellout to their race. The two get caught up in an ancient prophesy and just about everyone wanting them dead because of a magic wand. Besides the fact that it was fantastical, it was action packed and had lots of different, other-worldly species sharing Earth with humans, like Orcs and Elves, it was no District 9 or Avatar. It was just pure entertainment and at least it had a happy ending. These days I appreciate happy endings more than ever.

I haven’t really been reading very much. I think because I have been feeling stressed out with life in general these day. Working in a hospital during a Covid surge is not easy. When we are not working we’ve had to be on standby every few days that we do have off, so trying to relax in itself takes a little effort once I’ve caught up with all the usual chores at home and I have just been too tired to sit and read much. It’s been much easier for me to just sit back and watch my favourite Tv series and the occasional movie. I watched “Penguin Bloom” the other night, an Australian movie. If you have watched The Walking Dead, you will know the character Rick Grimes with his southern drawl. Andrew Lincoln in real life, is actually English and in Penguin Bloom he plays the part of an Australian father to three boys, and whose wife is paralyzed in a tragic accident and how looking after a bird helps with their healing. I have watched the Walking Dead since the beginning, so I had to get used to “Rick” talking in an Aussie accent! Anyway, it’s based on a true story, and certainly tugs on the heart strings and I enjoyed it.

I have started a book about a man who believes he was Jack Philipps in a previous life – the Titanic senior wireless operator. I’ve only read the first few chapters and the author seems very level headed, and it seems quite interesting. Anyone open to the idea of reincarnation will probably enjoy it. Either way, it’s been interesting so far.

Now it’s time to finish this up, and go browse Netflix for something light to watch, because it’s been a hard week.

Year end book buys.

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After this trying year I have splurged a little on some kindle books. It’s really sad that I haven’t gone to an actual book shop in almost a year, because of Covid. The little Hospice bookshop that I enjoy going to from time to time, is not near where I live, it is the other side of the city. Most years, at the end of every year I go there and treat myself to a pile of books. On my days off these days, I am exhausted and mostly want to stay home, either reading, writing or watching Netflix. I will get back to the Hospice bookshop, hopefully sometime in January, once the crowds have settled from the year end rush and the traffic is a little less crazy. In the meantime I have absolutely no excuse not to do a good deal of reading.

So, what did I purchase? I’ve always enjoyed second world war books, so I bought a trilogy with good reviews and at a perfect budget price – 1) At the going down of the sun 2) And in the morning 3) We will remember by Elizabeth Darrell. For the South African/African in me 1) The Rhino Crash – A Memoir of Conservation, Unlikely Friendships and Self Discovery by Nick Newman with Karen Mitchell 2) Ministry of Crime by Mandy Wiener – all about the underworld of South African crime and how it is often linked to politics and for slightly lighter reading – Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith and which is the second book in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency long series. I read the first book many years ago and enjoyed it, but never continued reading them, so got the second one. Then for some motivational reading, since 2020 has been a calamity of a year – 1) Achieve Anything In Just One Year one year by Jason Harvey 2) The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason and 3) We’re All Ears – Increasing your impact, influence, and success online in a noisy digital world by Valerie Morris.

There you have it, I have no shortage of reading matter (I never do anyway!) and I have no excuse on not doing frequent book reviews!

Little Women.

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I have just finished watching the latest (2019) version of Little Women. After re – watching the 1994 version a few months ago, with Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Samantha Mathis and Kirsten Dunst and thoroughly enjoying it, more so than when I first watched it, I wondered if I would enjoy the latest offering. I also watched the 2017 mini series last year and enjoyed it. I prefer the ’94 version still. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the 2019 one but simply, the ’94 version was better. I think I will re watch it soon, just to make sure that it was better than the the latest one. I read Little Women years ago, but I never read the rest of the books that followed it, ie. Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys, so I intend doing that, hopefully in the near future.

Talking about re watching movies, a few months ago I also watched Legends of the Fall and A River Runs Through It again. I watched them years ago, in my twenties with a much younger Brad Pitt starring in both, before the much publicized “Brangelina” years and enjoyed them then, not just because of Brad Pitt. Yes, seriously. Not just because of him but because I do enjoy period dramas. Although I won’t deny Mr. Pitt was enjoyable eye candy as well. But yes, he’s also a good actor.

Around this time last year I downloaded The Christmas Chronicles. Yes, I also have a soft spot for Christmas movies, but alas I have not watched it yet (gasp….), so I am going to do so tonight and maybe watch the second one as well. After the way this year has gone I definitely need some Christmas cheer.

It’s now just over a day later and I watched the Christmas Chronicles on Sunday evening, which was a delightful adventure with Santa and a generous sprinkling of fantasy, snow, two young siblings, reindeers and a variety of cheeky but cute Elves loyal to Santa. Just the sort of movie to make an adult grin and giggle for a couple of hours.

The Crown – Season Four.

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When I first began this site, I named it The South African Book and Film blog. I have since realized it was probably a little misleading, because other than the fact that I’m South African, many of the books I read and films I watch are not South African. Most of the films I watch are most certainly not South African. Not because I don’t want to watch South African content, but because there is not enough South African content, and not enough content to hold my interest. Fair enough, if I enjoyed soapies, which I don’t particularly, I would have enough South African content to keep me occupied. On the other hand, I can find many more South African books (and Zimbabwean or other African books) that hold my interest, than South African films. Of course, when I do find South African films that I think I will find interesting and/or enjoy, I will watch them.

I am now watching the fourth season of The Crown on Netflix. The relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher is very interesting. According to The Crown, Margaret Thatcher did not think very highly of the (privileged) lifestyle of The Royal Family when she was invited to Balmoral and had little in common with how the royals’ outdoor hobbies and how they relaxed together, like playing after dinner games. It seems The Prime Minister would rather have been working on solving the problems facing Britain at the time than walking around in the mud on Balmoral grounds. Too much leisure time, it seems for Margaret Thatcher was a waste of time, and time much better spent working. She was Prime Minister of Britain for eleven years, so she obviously did something right by remaining in office at 10 Downing St. Many did not like her at all, particularly the miners and the IRA, but it seems she did not care, and felt if she made enemies, she was doing a good job. Episode 2 is called The Balmoral Test, and which apparently Margaret Thatcher failed dismally. On the other hand, Lady Diana Spencer’s first visit to Balmoral (with the Queen in residence) was a success, and which she passed with flying colours.

One thing I have enjoyed about The Crown, is watching Queen Elizabeth mature from a young woman, reluctantly becoming Queen and in the beginning, trying to assert herself in a male dominated world of royalty and politics to that of an experienced Monarch, but one with frailties and imperfections (like all of us). Most of the time I have enjoyed how she has been portrayed, although the one scene between her and Prince Charles, after Charles received his Investiture in Wales, left me feeling disappointed in her (if indeed it was true, mind you). Surely there were better ways in preparing your son for a lifetime of duties as a Royal? I guess she was a product of her era though, that of loyalty and duty. You got on with the job and tradition, you put your personal feelings aside and that was that.

So, eight more episodes of fourth season of The Crown to go. I don’t want to rush through them though, but I’m sure by the end of this coming weekend I will have!

Oh what a year.

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It’s almost as if my year ended in January. My first post in January was a carefree one. It really feels like the other day, and what’s happened in between until now all feels rather surreal. I went to the local Hospice Bookshop back then, bought myself a few books, the money supporting a worthy cause. Afterwards I had coffee and a piece of delicous carrot cake at the cafe there, overlooking a forest on the edge of the city, and looked forward to reading my books. That was when Covid had not reached the shores of South Africa, and it seemed unimaginable that what was happening in China would spread around the globe in no time at all. Certainly Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul that I bought then, was much needed inspiration in the months to come. I read recently that 1500 nurses have died from 44 countries worldwide – although many believe that this number is much higher. As many nurses have died from Covid as did nurses during World War 1. We went into lockdown at the end of March, and in the hospital I work at, the months leading up to the surge were stressful, simply because we did not know if it was going to be bad, and for almost two months, in July and August it was bad. I didn’t get much reading done then. Just a little when I could concentrate on reading. It seemed easier to lose and numb myself in countless games of spider solitaire during my spare time, and watching Netflix, when I’d had enough of thinking about what was going on and enough of people’s cavalier attitude towards the virus, and of the countless conspiracy theories. Even one ex colleague (retired) told me we were getting hysterical over the virus. In my 30 years of nursing – of which I’ve been nearly 24 years in the hospital I am now, nurses were never so badly affected by the flu, and that’s the common excuse for people who are dismissive of Covid, ie “it’s just the flu”. Well then 2020, was a hell of a bad fu season, the worst I’ve ever seen. So please do understand all the precautions we had to (and still are) take in the hospitals.

Anyway, with only 3 patients in the hosptial now with Covid, the situation is easier, despite a bit of an increase of cases in the community, it feels for now at least, we have a respite.

It’s summer here and a hot day today. I have been reading a little more now, but also watching my favourite Netflix/Amazon shows. Most of my posts here have been on books, but I called it the Book and Film Blog, so today it’s all about my Watch List. I’m not one for binge watching really, unless they really keep me on the edge of my seat, wanting more. Normally I prefer savouring my way through series – Heartland for example, which is set on a Canadian horse ranch and revolves around Amy, a horse whisperer of sorts, and her family. It replaced the Aussie McLeod’s Daughters for me. Heartland is an easy going family show, perfect to forget about your troubles for a while. Chesapeake Shores is also another easy going family drama, that I’m watching slowly. Then there’s Suits and House of Cards on my list when I want to watch something with more twists and turns – series that also show us that life is not all clean cut and sparkly clean, unfortunately. That said, at the beginning of the year I watched several episodes of The Crown, and enjoyed them but for whatever reason, didn’t watch any more, but then about a month ago, I started watching it again, and found myself thoroughly immersed in it. I love history, and I found the Queen’s early years of her reign so interesting – not simply for the dramas of the royal family but for the backdrop of the historical events during those times – I can’t wait for season four next week. In the meantime, I’ve been watching Fear the Walking Dead. Yes, my interests are diverse to say the least! I really enjoyed The Walking Dead. Yes, it’s gory, but the characters were strong ones that I enjoyed, and the story lines were always good, so when that eneded I got onto FTWD. I enjoy science fiction and post – apocalypse, another show, a few years ago I enjoyed was The 100, and season 6 is out on Netflix now so I have that to get through also. There is also Snow Piecer another post apocalyptic series that I’ve watched a few episodes and enjoyed. When Game of Thrones ended, I started rewatching Vikings, so that’s also on my watch list at the moment. In between the gory and serious stuff, I enjoy watching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory and Friends, although The Big Bang Theory comes out tops for me, it’s just funnier.

Anyway, whatever part of the world you are in, whether it’s hot or cold, stay cool, keep warm and happy reading or watching.

The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye.

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So, who would have thought when I last posted way back in January, a virus called Covid-19 was hitting China, and most of us didn’t even imagine that in a matter of months it would spread around the world and send most countries into some form of lockdown.  Way back in January, when life was still “normal” for most countries, we had only just finished making our new year resolutions.

I always resolve to Blog more.  Read more.  Write More.  Run more.  Be more healthy.

Anyway.  I am reading often and trying to write more.  I have not posted on this site nearly as often I’d like.  If ever I have a valid excuse for neglecting this site, it’s Covid.  Covid will get the blame for everything that went wrong in 2020!  I’ve moaned about the virus, the lockdown, and our rather inept South African Government for months now but this site is not the site for me to vent my frustrations out on.  I have another blog site for that!  Time to re focus my energies on other subjects.

My last post, as I mentioned way back in January, I had just visited the local hospice bookshop and posted a photo of the books I’d purchased.  I ate a lovely (albeit pricey) piece of carrot cake with a tasty cappuccino – possibly the last cappuccino I’ve had.   It feels like the other day – or it feels like a lifetime ago, I’m not quite sure which.  I’m not sure if the bookshop is open yet.  I must find out.  We are still in our surge here in South Africa, so it may well not be open yet.

One of those books was The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye.  I read the original three “The Girl….” books, by Stieg Larsson starting with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, featuring Lisbeth Salander, a young woman, with a tragic childhood who is extremely intelligent, a genius.  A woman who takes the law into her own hands, and will not let evil people get away with their crimes, against her or anyone else.  The first three books kept me hooked.  I did not read the fourth installment, written after Mr. Larrson’s passing, by a David Lagercrantz.  The Girl Who Takes An Eye For Eye is the the fifth in the series, also by Mr. Lagercrantz.  Out of the original three, I certainly enjoyed the first one the best.  The next two were good, but not quite as good as the first.  The fifth book was good enough, typical of the antics of Lisbeth, out to avenge any wrongdoings she feels needs avenging and typical of her complicated relationship with journalist Mikael Blomkvist.  Probably a 6.5 – 7 out of ten I’d say.

 

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