Monday, 25 May 2015

Snow time like today

Snow time like todayAs I sit here typing this, my fingers are freezing, I can hardly feel them. I'm also wearing two pairs of trousers. Not in some bizarre fashion statement kind of way, but just because it's so flipping cold. It's cold outside, we had snow this morning, and it has kept snowing for most of the day. I'm really cold though because we don't have a fire at the moment.

Tomorrow the new fire is getting fitted, so of course the cold weather and snow arrived today. Isn't that always the way? I have got heating, electric heaters, on in the lounge and the bedroom, but as I'm cooking tea, I'm in the kitchen. I'm hoping that the heat from the oven will start warming this room a bit more soon.

Of course come about Thursday, when our new fire will be with luck, fully operational, we'll probably have a heatwave, not that I'd be disappointed about that of course. Just warning those of you in the South Island of New Zealand that this weather may well be on the way out.

I had hoped to get a few photos of the lovely snow covered hills this morning. Sadly by the time I got around to it, much of the snow had melted. I took a few anyway. It has continued to snow for most of the day, but it hasn't been settling, so much of what we have left is just slush, we are coastal after all, I'm amazed that we get as much as we do.

I'm not sure what the weather is like for tomorrow, I just hope that it doesn't stop the man installing our fire from making it round here. Brrr. What's the weather been like for you today?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Real books v kindle

When kindles and the like first came out, I couldn't imagine that I'd ever want an ereader, what would be the point. I love books, I love the smell of them, the feel of them, pretty much everything about them. Then I got a kindle, and I was hooked. I tend to use my kindle more these days, but still read quite a few real books, so I thought I'd do a bit of a comparison, real books v kindle.

Real booksReal books

  • Look good on the book shelf
  • Can be shared with friends
  • Can be read in the bath without worrying about the water stopping them working
  • Can be bought second hand
  • Don't smash if you drop them
  • Don't need charging
  • Feel nice in your hands
  • Smell nice
  • Need nice book marks
  • Can be given as gifts

Kindle and other ereaders

KindleIs lightweight

  • Can go everywhere with you.
  • Can carry hundreds of books on one device (great for holidays)
  • It's really easy to add new titles, as the touch of a button
  • Is easier to read a page or two when you only have a few seconds
  • Keeps your place for you
  • Can read the same book on your phone, tablet and ereader
  • Has lots of free and cheap books
  • Makes finding new authors easy
  • Is easy on the eyes when you're tired.

They both have advantages and disadvantages, so for now I think I'll stick with both. Using the kindle for everything that I can download without costing me a fortune, and real books from the library, when I get them as gifts and when I make second hand purchases. What do you prefer, real books or an ereader, like the kindle?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Happy hens

Happy hensI've always quite liked the idea of keeping hens, having fresh eggs on hand every day and the like, but
I wasn't that bothered. Just over six months ago though, we were given three for the boys birthday. One each for the boys and a family hen. I soon discovered that they are mad as mad can be and not all that intelligent either. 

Our hens are called Matilda, Kakapo-Zombie (both named by the kids) and Tegal, (which might not mean much if you don't live in NZ, but it's a name of a brand of chicken that you eat, poor thing). I don't think that they actually know their names in any case, so it does't really matter.

Fresh eggs
They are rather stupid, if two of them are outside in the run, and the other is inside when you give them food. Then the one inside will run up and down the inside of the cage trying to get out, rather than actually coming out of the house and into the run where the food is. If you give them three different bits of bread, then they all try and eat the same one, rather than taking one each.

So far we've had a few escapees, we clipped their wings to stop them flying off, but they still manage to get out sometimes.

To begin with the eggs were really small, which was quite cute, but now that they're all into the swing of laying, we're getting three good size eggs nearly every day.

Having three hens in the family is lots of fun.

Friday, 22 May 2015

A Southern Star - Anya Forrest

Often when I finish a book I sigh, it's usually because I didn't want it to end, or because the ending was so good. This time, sadly, it was because it just didn't quite get there.

I really really wanted to like this book. A kiwi author, in the South Island, and even visiting Dunedin at one point. It should have been all there. But somehow it just fell a bit short.

It didn't really help that I didn't like either of the main characters to begin with. We meet them both in the opening chapter on a ferry crossing to Stewart Island. She's as wet as a soggy stack of newspaper that's been left out in the rain. He's domineering, overbearing and arrogant. 

I know that the charge taking, alpha male, is a stock 'hero' of many romance books. But he needs to have a balance to his character. He does develop this later in the book, but in the open stages, he demands to know things about her, cancels her food order and seems to get angry over nothing. She worries that she's upset him by not sharing things. But honestly, if this were real life, I'd get out of there now love, controlling, abusive relationship alert.

He does get better, in parts, but the rush into his needing to know everything, before they've in any way got to know one another seems forced. I did keep reading, and I did want to know how it was going to turn out. (Yes I know, it's a romance, you know where it's going really, but still). 

I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but I struggled with much of their relationship, and felt that the not talking about some of the issues was a bit forced. There were a few other things that just didn't do it for me. Once or twice we were told that one of them made a comment or said something that the other one reacted to, but not what it was. Very very odd, it certainly didn't help the flow of the story. Other aspects of the story line and people's assumptions were introduced in a way that didn't feel natural and didn't really flow.

I was also irritated by a section of the story that dealt with child birth. Despite being in New Zealand, the whole thing was handled by a doctor, which, unless there are serious issues, is pretty much unheard of over here. It seemed to be based entirely on tv shows, and ones set somewhere else at that.

I really did want to enjoy this, but didn't. It was almost there, but not quite. With a bit of polishing it could probably be much better. The author, Anya Forrest has another book out and another on the way. I may give them a go, just to see if with a bit of experience they pick up, as I really would like to 'like' this Kiwi author.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

10 Years On

Today is my tenth wedding anniversary, so rather than a big 'wordy' blog post, I just thought I'd share some photos. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton

I got this for Christmas, over the past few years I've ended up reading many of the booker prize winners, and am yet to find one I haven't enjoyed. Being set in New Zealand, this seemed to be even more of a draw than usual. 

It's taken until now to get around to reading it though. Not because I didn't want to start it, but more because I had a couple of false starts. The chapters in the beginning of this book are very long, the first two times I tried to start it, I was tired and couldn't make it to a good place to stop before needing to get to sleep. I need to find a good stopping point when I'm reading, particularly in those first few pages.

I had a few nights where I was heading to bed early to read, so it seemed a good time to give the Luminaries a proper go. So I dived in. Although it is mostly set in Hokitika on the West Coast, I will admit that I was quite excited to find quite a few references to Port Chalmers. (I know, sad to admit that I'd find that exciting, but there you go.)

The story is mostly set in the West Coast gold rush of the 1800's and much of the action revolves around a number of characters who have gone to Hokitika to find their fortune. There is a lot going on in this book. Keeping track of the interweaving story lines isn't easy, and I wasn't sure at all where it was going for much of the time. 

I don't want to go dropping spoilers into this, in fact were I to try to, we'd probably be here all week, there was so much going on in this book. It perhaps meant that there was no real lead or leads, with so many people taking the main role at one time or another in the book. Would it have been better if there had? Possibly, I would have liked to know more about one or two of those who started out in a strong leading role and then faded into the back ground later.

I did enjoy it, really enjoy it, but it was far from a favourite. There were still questions left to be answered by the end of the book. Or perhaps I lost them in the circular narrative. I'm not sure. It was a very good book technically, well told but just missing that final spark to make it truly fantastic.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Book Reviews

You may have already noticed, I'm a bit of a book lover. I read. A lot. I don't tend to write reviews good reads, but so far I haven't. 
though, I've done the odd one on amazon, and I keep meaning to add them to

I always leave the 'stars' on both amazon and good reads, but I always find myself agonising over how many stars to mark a book. How can you possibly decide if a book is worth out of only five stars? Often I love a book, but is it really worth the 'perfect' five? If it's not, does that mean that books that are good, but not as good as the great ones don't deserve the four stars that it seems obvious to give them. 

On amazon you have to leave at least one star, which surely some books don't deserve. If they're really bad. 

Recently I've been quite  generous on the star front. If I really enjoy a book then it gets five, even if it's not perfect. If I enjoy it then it's usually a four. If it's not so good then a three will do. I don't like to give up on rubbish books, but then I've only read one recently that only deserved a two.

In any case, the star system is just not that good. So the time has come to not give books marks, but to share my thoughts on them on here. Some of them at least. Here's to the book reviews...