Monday, 22 April 2013

When the Dragons Came

My son will be starting school this year, one thing I don’t have to worry about will be his reading. He is absolutely obsessed with books.

One of his favourite books is ‘When the Dragons Came’ it is also one of my favourites to read to him. When a family of dragons arrives in the sleepy town of Poppledown not everyone is happy about it but before long the scaly visitors prove that even dragons can be kind and helpful.

The book is colourful, imaginative and fun. It is short, easy to follow and full of brilliant artwork that really grabs the imagination. Any young child will love this book.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My Kindle

Well, I finally did it, I bought a Kindle. I shouldn’t really see this as ‘news’ considering Jessica has had one for years now but in my longstanding tradition of being slow on the uptake I’ve only just joined the club. And what a glorious club it is.

This is one of those times when I genuinely ask myself ‘why didn’t I get one of these years ago?’ Compact, lightweight, easy to use, cheap (for what you get) and thousands of books to download in the blink of an eye the Kindle is ideal for casual readers and bibliophiles alike.

Jessica, reading over my shoulder, just scoffed and said this article sounds like an advert. Since Amazon isn’t paying me to review it I will try to be as objective as possible.

Kindle is a handheld device about the size and weight of a thin paperback. Using the internet you can search for and purchase books which download directly onto your kindle handset. It even allows you to download a ‘sample’ of the book for free to see how you get on with it before committing to buy the whole thing. It is undoubtedly convenient. Not only is it able to download whole books very quickly but it also duplicates said book into your Amazon account so, even if you drop your kindle into a puddle and ruin it, you won’t lose your books.

My favourite feature is that you can ‘highlight’ passages you like and revisit them with ease. You can also make notes. There is a dictionary available which you can use anytime whilst reading just by highlighting a word. Kindle books in the ‘public domain’ are completely free to download. For newer books there is a charge, usually less than a paperback.

Despite all these ‘pluses’ the Kindle is not perfect. The basic model doesn’t have the touch screen feature meaning you have to navigate, type and select using buttons which can be slow and frustrating at times. Another minor criticism is the screen for the basic model is only black and white. This isn’t a major problem for just reading novels but if you are a fan of comic books (sorry, ahem, graphic novels) the illustrations will not have colour. Sadly Amazon can only convert books electronically with permission so if, for whatever reason, an author or publisher doesn’t want their book to be available on the Kindle they can prevent it. For this reason one of my favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird’ is not currently available. I have no doubt this will change in time.

Overall I think it’s a great bit of kit, particularly if, like me, you live in a small maisonette with limited room for bookshelves. Now all I need to do is get over the guilt of finally giving up on paper…


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

We're back!

The last time we made a blog post here it was July 2012, during the biggest sporting event in British history; the London 2012 Olympics. Both Jessica and myself were directly involved in the Olympics and postponed blogging until it was all over and done with. When the Olympics finished one thing followed after another and the blog was temporarily forgotten.

However, now we are back! We’ll be blogging here in the same format as before, trying our best to be as eclectic as possible. We’ve read a lot of books since July 2012 and we look forward to telling you all about them!

 Chris & Jessica

Friday, 27 July 2012

Olympic torch and the next couple of weeks

In a few hours 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine geese will participate in the London 2012 opening ceremony  and two weeks of madness will begin. My husband’s day job is in the emergency services so whether we like it or not, plus given our close proximity to the action means we are affected by the Olympics. Chris has been given something ridiculous like three days off over the period which is why this blog has been rather neglected of late. But it’s not all bad; his job means that for a few of the events he gets the best views of some of the events.

For those of you who don’t know, over the past year the Olympic venues have been put through their paces by holding a large number of ‘test events’ in order to test the venues themselves and to spot any potential problems that can be fixed in time for the Olympics. My area Surrey is hosting the men and female road cycling events and during the test event a number of small problems arose including a lack of friendly face for the many visitors. The policeman and the Stewarts on the day were bombarded with questions ranging from ‘where’s the best place to stand’ to ‘what time are they coming through this area’ and while the policeman and stewards were very good, the policeman do have a job to do and the stewards were not from the local area and could therefore their help was limited. Given that way more people will be descending on the area during the Olympics the role of the ‘Surrey Ambassadors’ was created.

So I’ll be there I a few days, giving out information leaflets, answering questions (there are a large number of Ambassadors that speak a foreign language) and basically giving visitors the impression that we are all very nice really. Unfortunately although the uniform is certainly distinctive, it does resemble a jockey’s jumper somewhat but hey at least we get to keep it.
The torch was a practice event for the ambassador system which it was a success and great fun. It’s amazing how many people turned up and how busy it was. Even Chris who was working is beginning to get into the spirit slowly but surely.
Normal service will be resolved in a couple of weeks but in the meantime I may blather more about the Olympics as I do have tickets.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Reading update

Ok so in many ways this blog is a little neglected at the moment! I am still of course reading and below are a round-up of my current books on the go……..

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (not the above Clarissa exactly but I couldn't resist)
Oh man this is a long one. I’m about half way through now and sometimes it’s easy to read, sometimes it a struggle, it goes from being a page turner with lots of things happening to suddenly nothing happening while being very repetitive. I will finish it however but I’ll be glad when it’s done.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
All you none kindle owners can now feel a little smug now if you like as I lost my kindle charger and had to order a new one. In the meantime of course I couldn’t carry on with this novel until I received said charger and I admit I did often say to myself ‘this would never with to a real book’. But anyway this is a fine book and one I’m very much enjoying.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I needed to start one while I was waiting for my kindle charge to come through and since I recently rewatched the film I picked this up. I last read it when I was 18 and I appreciate it so much more now.
Bringing up the bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is now just embarrassing but I needed a ‘bath book’ and Clarissa is too big, kindles and water do not mix and my copy of Dracula is too nice. I loved Wolf Hall and I love this one also.
The Diary of a nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
This was my recent holiday read which I read very quickly. A real gem of a book.
Ok so that’s my reading at the moment. It’s all far too heavy going but there you go, I might be done by January!
Posted by Jess

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Back from holiday and Triple Tuesday

Today I am featured on Kim’s blog Reading Matters as part of her Triple Tuesday feature! So pop over there if you would like to see what I have choosen.
We have just got back from Edinburgh where we supported my brother who completed his first ever Marathon in extreme heat. More to follow and we hope everyone is having a great day.