Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Carlyn's Diary: March

It’s only three months into the year but there have been some major happenings in my life. For starters, I’ve decided to go back to school and study journalism and my grandma has come to live with us. In the first matter, I decided to go back to school because I want to be a better writer and I want to work with adults. I have worked in the education industry for six years in various roles and I want to have a change. I will be working as a substitute teacher while I study journalism to pay the bills.  After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in journalism with my education degree to fall back on.

 My family and I recently found out that our grandma has Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a disease that affects brain function which results in diminished thinking ability and memory loss. There is no cure for the disease at the moment. We didn’t know she had it because we live interstate. We only learnt about grandma’s condition when her symptoms became worse.

It was sad seeing grandma again when she first arrived. She had once been an impeccably dressed and lively woman only to become a fragile, confused and dishevelled old lady. Grandma is doing well now that she has us to care for her.  Sometimes she knows who we are and sometimes she doesn’t. It’s like she has a switch that goes on and off. I don’t feel sad about it anymore, instead I focus on the person she is now.

We go for walks together every day and she remembers that it is part of her routine.  Sometimes, she comes up to me, clutching her hat and my hat in hand asking to go for a walk. We don’t go very far and most of the time she thinks I’m just a nice lady but I do cherish my time with her.

There will be a time when we have to put her into a nursing home. Her condition will become worse to the point that she will need 24 hour care. For now, I focus on spending my time with her. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Blog Update

Jon and I decided that while we enjoy writing entertainment posts, we cannot keep up writing them every Monday. We both are quite busy at the moment with work and personal issues.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Monster Trucks (film) 2017

Tripp Coley (Lucas Till) is a high school student spends his time repairing a truck and working at the local junk yard. His life changes when a mysterious creature appears in the junk yard and starts living in his truck. Tripp names the creature Creech and he tries to hide him from evil oil magnate Reese Tennyson (Rob Lowe) who wants to kill Creech and take over his habitat for a new oil drilling station. Tripp, Creech and Tripp’s love interest Meredith (Jane Levy) go on a wild adventure to save Creech.

Tripp is a typical brooding teenager who just wants to get out of his small town. He loves his mother, resents her boyfriend and his real dad who left them. I would have liked to have seen more family dynamic, it just seemed stereotypical. Meredith is an overachiever who offers to tutor him and follows him around and he’s also idolized by a younger student. Both of them like him so much but he just ignores them. It made me cringe and wondered why they even like him.

This was a cute movie and if I was a kid I would love it.  I thought this movie would be about monster truck rallying but it turned out to be different. It was more like those creature makes best friends with a young child movies from the 80s and 90s like E.T or Magic in the water.  The movie moves at a fast pace which set aside character development and a detailed plot. So, I found it to be a bit underwhelming. However, I’m sure kids won’t mind such flaws and this could become a favourite among younger audiences.

The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery- Review Carlyn

Valancy Stirling has lived for 29 years controlled by her mother and bullied by her extended family. Valancy’s life changes when she is told by her doctor that she only has one year to live. She keeps her condition a secret from her family to avoid their attempts to control her further and starts living her life the way she wants. Valancy’s family think she’s become crazy as she starts to speak her mind and behave in what they think is scandalous.

Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of my favourite authors. She is most known for writing the Anne of Green Gables series. I thought that the Anne series were the only books that she had written. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had written more books. This book is the first I have read from L. M Montgomery where the main character wasn’t an aspiring author and it’s a book for adults.

I was worried that the Blue Castle would be this depressing book where Valancy doesn’t learn to stand up for herself until the end. Fortunately, it wasn’t the case and the story gets that over with right near the beginning. I find this book highlights the bohemian lifestyle that was emerging in the 1920s which was a change for L.M Montgomery sentiments for the Victorian era. It was interesting to see what was considered scandalous in the 1920s, the era that the book is based. The things that Valancy does wouldn’t be an issue today. She goes to stay with a woman who had a child out of wedlock and marries a wild and reclusive man.

Valancy is a strong female character who challenges stereotypes. She has some idealistic qualities that are featured in most of Montgomery’s heroines but seems more grounded than Anne Shirley or Emily Byrd Starr.  However, she still gets caught up in raptures about the Canadian wilderness just like Anne and Emily. I can see how some readers might find the moments where the characters are made breathless by the sight of the light shining into the meadow or forest tedious. But at least she doesn’t get tears in her eyes from the sight like some of Montgomery’s heroines.
I wish there was a sequel to this book but it ends well. I hope it becomes more popular in time too. I recommend this book for fans of L.M Montgomery.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Entertainment Monday: Passengers ( 30 January 2017)

Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is a passenger on the Avalon, a spaceship on a voyage to a new planet. The trip will take 100 years from earth so all the passengers are cryogenically frozen until a few months before they land. Unfortunately for Jim, his sleeping pod malfunctions causing him to wake up. Jim cannot fix his pod so must spend the rest of his life on the ship alone.

Jim learns to adjust to his new life with the company of Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender. He enjoys the facilities around the ship but always feels lonely for human company. While exploring the ship, Jim sees Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her sleeping pod. He falls in love with her and hopes that he’ll meet her some day. Jim gets to meet her when Aurora’s pod seems to malfunction and she awakes up. The two fall in love but Jim holds a secret that could break their relationship.


The actors were all great in their roles. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have good chemistry and Michael Sheen is an excellent robot. I kinda disliked Chris Pratt’s character but it was refreshing to have a good guy who wasn’t entirely good. I liked Aurora and pitied her for the situation that she was in. In the end, Aurora had an important decision to make and I left the cinema thinking about what I would do in the same situation.  I think I would choose differently.

I like the array of space movies that we’re having lately. I’ve had an interest in space since childhood, mainly from my brother who was space mad as a child. I thought this movie was okay and I would watch it again. I feel that wasn’t much going on in the movie. I would have liked to have seen more of Jim and Aurora’s lives throughout the years and have interesting stuff happen to them. However, I know it’s not Lost in Space. The movie’s focus is about relationships and trying to live a fulfilling life even if your dream changes. 

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen - Review by Carlyn

Bobby and Fran were married for eighteen years and had one son together. Bobby worked as a police officer and Fran worked as a nurse. To outsiders, they were a normal happy couple but behind closed doors Bobby would beat Fran up for the smallest of slights. Fran decides to leave Bobby for the sake of her son and the two go into hiding in Florida.

Fran and Robert start new lives with fake personal records. Fran and Robert become Beth and Robert Crenshaw who hail from Delaware instead of Brooklyn. While in Florida, Fran reflects on her relationship with Bobby and the effect it had on herself and her son.

This is the first book that I have read on my new Kindle. I have decided not to buy books anymore because I want to be clutter free. I actually didn’t know what this book would be about when I first purchased it except that it was on the booklist that Jon and I devised in 2011. I’ve still got about six more to go.

I don’t like sad books but I didn’t think this book was overly depressing.  The book mainly focused on Fran’s life away from Bobby with flashbacks on her relationship with him. I enjoyed reading how Fran started to regain her life and build new relationships with people in Florida. However, there were times when I thought that was just plodding along. I was just waiting for the moment when Bobby would track them down. I knew that Bobby would come and find them. I thought Fran could have done a better job at protecting herself though.

In the book, Bobby manages to find his family because Robert calls him. Although Robert doesn’t tell him where they are living, Bobby finds out from caller id on his phone. He uses the number to track down where they are. Fran finds out about this but she doesn’t do anything. I understand that she might not have known about caller id however, she was warned about how people can be tracked down from their phone number.
Anyway, I think a few self defense classes or buying a gun would have helped.

I also liked reading about Robert’s conflicting feelings that he had for his father. His father was always good to him and his parents shielded him from the violence. However, he always knew that his mother’s bruises were not from an accident. I liked how Robert hoped his dad would change and that they could all be a family again. I think that was realistic for a kid to feel that way.

I have some understanding of domestic violence even though I have not experienced it myself. I can understand how hard it is for some women to leave their abuser. It can be a variety of reasons but fear, more violence and the threat of death are usually top of the list. This book helped to remind me that you never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Entertainment Mondays: Crackerjack (23 January 2017)

Crackerjack is an Australian film starring Mick Molloy as Jack Simpson. Jack has been a member of the Cityside Bowls Club for many years but has never played a game. He rents out his bowls parking space to workers for some extra money on the side. One day, he gets a call that he must participate in lawn bowls otherwise his membership will be cancelled.  So Jack plays a game of bowls and quickly comes to enjoy the game.

The other club members begrudgingly accept Jack’s presence as they need him to help win a tournament which will save their club. The club is in financial difficulties and at risk of being sold to Bernie Fowler (John Clarke). Bernie wants to buy the property and put in pokey machines to add more revenue. The club members hate the idea of the club turning into a cash cow. Meanwhile, Nancy Brown (Judith Lucy ) a reporter for the small time news reports on the tournament and is the love interest for Jack Simpson.

Lawn bowls clubs are a common sight in Australia and this is the first movie that I have watched where it was featured. I haven’t played lawn bowls before. While the story of a greedy business man taking over a struggling place has been done before, I still found this movie to be delightful. In the movie, the bowls members are sticklers to the rules and it reminded me of being on school committees. There was this funny scene where refreshments have been laid out and Jack cuts a hunk of cheese and makes a sandwich. Usually people are supposed to cut a thin slice of cheese and eat it with a cracker or its own.

 The action is disapproved by some of the members and they have a meeting about it. Someone says that an incident happened with the cheese and they want no cheese to be served next time pending on an investigation. Someone else says that there should be a subcommittee to handle the case.

I didn’t find the lawn bowls part interesting; I rather liked the characters instead. Jack is a likeable guy although he’s a loudmouth; he’s got a good heart. The senior citizens in the movie are like sweet grandparents.


This movie might be a bit niche for some, as it features Australian comedy and it’s about lawn bowls which is a not a popular sport in some countries. However, I recommend viewers give this film a go particularly if you are looking for a movie to watch with older people.  I will caution that there is a bit of swearing in the movie so it’s up to the viewer discretion. 

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