Category Archives: Books

Kindle Review

I have a Kindle. I have had it for a month now. Kindle is good.

I have read 11 books already. Everything from Ancient Rome (fiction and history), a couple of Pratchett books, the Red Riding Quartet and several others. Today I read while being driven home from work, with my cover light illuminating the page.

This is a great piece of kit and one that I’m really pleased to have bought. I now have over 40 books on the machine and have found myself reading more than one at a time. It is just like reading a book. The font and black and white print make it feel just like a book; even using the cover enhances the fact.

The choice of books is exapnding all the time. A few weeks ago there was only 2 Elmore Leonard books available but now there are a great deal more.

The downside….

You cannot buy books from As you do not live there that option is not open to you. A great disappointment as there are several books there that I want.

Though you can subscribe to newspapers and magazines some of these are overally expensive; they are not formatted to the Kindle but cut and pasted; photos are removed but the headings remain.

It has web options and speech text but these are more like Beta than finished versions.

The plus side….

Free books. Yes, FREE!!! Tacitus, Plato, classics and others that cost nothing. Even some new books are available.

No more carrying countless books on holiday or running out of things to read. You just order more if that happens, not even to physically enter a shop.

Less clutter at home. Fewer physical books to put on shelves, stack in piles or trip over ūüôā

No one knows what you are reading or how far in you are. This is a problem for some as it removes Book Snobbery, unless you say: “I’m reading Euripedes in the original Greek” or “I’d never read a Dan Brown novel”.

It is environmentally friendly, fewer trees will need to die in future.

For those worried about not owning the physical book and turning pages, don’t be. I thought that this would be a problem but now I wish I’d done this years ago. It is as easy as a book, as comforting as a book and as engaging as a book. I have the entire Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire in my bag every day, an English Dictionary and an American Dictionary. I can even download The Bible.

Holiday Update

I have 5 days of my holiday to go before returning to work. Since returning I have managed to do almost nothing constructive, that’s what holidays are for.

Today we went for lunch at a local pub – The Hall Inn in Gwehelog near Usk. This is a great place to eat as the food is superb, you have proper portions and it is very good value. I especially love the Steak & Kidney Pudding – you only get it on a weekday lunchtime though.

So far I have finished reading: Low Life, Spies of The Balkans, Nemesis, and Potsdam Station. I’m just finishing Paris After The Liberation: 1944-1949.

To keep me going I have to read, and review, The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering My SS Grandfather’s Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation. I love the Amazon Vine Programme as I get free books and things, providing I review them afterwards. It is very hit and miss as to the quality you get. Low Life was one of them and seemed to be Memento meets Fight Club.

The worse book I have selected was A Grasp of Kaspar. This was one of the most over hyped and dreadfully written books I can remember. Almost as bad as the Da Vinci Code. My review is on the site under Argghhhhh!!!!!

Tomorrow I have to watch a Dolph Lundgren DVD and review that. I’ll let you know how “good” that is at some point in the future. Mind you I did select it on the grounds that it should be good for a laugh and cringe if nothing else. I am not expecting something to rival Citizen Kane or The Godfather.

Today I have finished reading The Gladiator, the new Simon Scarrow book. This is the ninth book in his Macro & Cato series. Now I have to wait another year for the story to continue. Ho, Hum!!!!

It is an official lazy day today as I have a surprise for FW this evening. She has been unable to get any information from me as to what we are doing – just that it is the next stage in our anniversary celebration.

So I need to nip out quickly and then come home to watch a film or two before this evening.

It is also the return of the Premier Season. West Ham are away to Wolves. Mark Lawrenson has predicted an away defeat – we’ll see.


This morning’s sermon was at a little chapel up the road from our own. It is another of those Victorian wonders that are a symbol of the welsh vallies. We have several of them up and down our valley. Like many other the congregation is small, there were 8 today excluding me, and advancing in years but they have a desire to grow.

This afternoon I have watched a little of Assignment to Kill and have settled down to watch Heavens Knows, Mr Allison – with Robert Mitchum & Deborah Kerr. The story of a marine and a nun stranded on a Pacific island in WWII.

I also managed to fit in 3/4 of Black Sunday with Robert Shaw and Bruce Dern. This was the first Thomas Harris book and film adaption. It is a little of its time but good – he effects leave a little to be desired.

I also finished reading Public Enemies and have now started reading Sovereign by C J Sansom, the third in the Shardlake series.


The Crimson Pirate is a cheesey but very enjoyable film from 1952. Very enjoyable – even FW was surprised at how enjoyable she found it. Lawman is from 1970 and was directed by Michael Winner (director of Death Wish and current Sunday Times restaurant critic). It has a great cast – including Robert Ryan, Lee J Cobb and Robert Duvall – and is well worth watching but it can be annoying with some of the repeated, unnecessary camera close-ups and zoom ins.


The Last Crusade is definitely my fave Indi movie. The Crystal Skull was only just better than the Temple of Doom.

Today in Hysteria

I have begun reading the new No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book. It is the same mix of gentle humour, detective story, social commentary and ¬†walk through Botswanan life as all the others. It is a book that gives you a warm glow of satisfaction that, in soem corner of our modern world, there is somewhere that clings to the “old” values and where life is slower, enjoyed and where globalisation is yet to hit.

This is what Dan Brown, and many other writers, should be forced to read to learn how a story should be written, characters expanded and plot crafted. If we had a few more writers of this calibre literature would be in  much better state.


Hysteria Today:

1831: The first recorded bank robbery in American history takes place at the City Bank in New York. A few hundred years later and it is the Citibank doing the robbing.

1861: The first Taranaki War ends in New Zealand.

1916: The first American air combat mission takes place as aircraft fly in support of troops battling Pancho Villa.

1932: The Sydney Harbour Bridge is formally opened.

1945: General Friedrich Fromm is killed for his part in the July Plot against Hitler.

1949: The People’s Council of the Soviet Zone of Occipation approve a constitution, a precursor to the formation of East Germany – a land where women look and sound like men and men run and hide.

1982: A group of wandering Argentines land on the Falkland Island and plant their country’s flag.

This Week I Have Mainly Been…

Lying in bed or on the sofa suffering from a viral infection. I didn’t eat for three days, apart from 2 bowls of Crunchy Nut and 12 uncooked swedish Meatballs (you can eat them this way mmm….). I hardly slept for 2 nights due to a fever and painful aches in my lower back.

Unfortuantely it meant that I had to cancel our offer of having the Troublesome Trucks to stay. I was looking forward to having them over last night and tonight (separately) but was just to washed out.

Today I’ve spent it relaxing to recover. So I’ve watched The Man Who Knew To Much, Schindler’s List¬†and the second half of Harlequins v Gloucester. The aim is to do very little tonight and tomorrow.

I’ve also been reading Silesian Station by David Downing, his sequelto Zoo Station. I love these because they combine my love of historical fiction and being set in immediate pre-war Berlin. Reading it has reignited my hunger to go for my third visit – I’ve haven’t been since I took FW for her birthday the year we were married. Just reading about the cafes, Tiergarten, Zoo, Funktrum Tower and the food.


Last night I dreamt that I had emigrated to Australia – I didn’t like it.¬† Weird that reading about Berlin makes me yearn to return but my dream is about Australia.


Just to reassure my Australian contingent I do intend to visit at Christmas 2014 to celebrate my 50th.

Here We Are Now/Entertain Us

I have just finished reading Hell Bent For Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict. I love rock music, just not this particular genre of rock. However this is a great read for anyone.

It follows Seb Hunter through his early introduction to rock – AC/DC and Iron Maiden – and then onto Hanoi Rocks, G n R and other proponents of “poodle rock”. He was also a member of Winchester’s greatest Metal band and went onto greater failures in London.

His autobiograhical sections are interspersed with descriptions of various aspects of metal – this includes guitars, hair, makeup and keyboards/prog rock. I’d really recommend that you read his section on his employment with McDonalds in Leytonstone – you won’t want to drink heir “fresh” orange juice again.

He also does a great section on the death of metal at the hands of Kurt Cobain and the destructive mess that was Axl Rose and GnR.

Fun Living

I have found a new way to get things for free – I have joined Amazon Vine as a reviewer. I get to receive books etc for free but have to review at least 75% of what I recieve.

So far I’ve received a model of a heart and three books. Don’t worry family/friends, they will not be passed off as presents. It is also a good way for me to read/use/listen to things that I’d otherwise wouldn’t.¬† Plus I enjoy writing the reviews and try to be as honest as possible.

I have noticed that some “reviewers” have a very imaginative way of reviewing books – they just copy the summary off the back or other reviews. I also hate the e-mails I sometimes recieve from publishers/publicists asking me to provide positive reviews¬†for things¬†I wouldn’t touch.

I just wish people would pay me for doing it. I’d be only to happy to read books, listen to music or watch films/TV for a living. I know that I’d never get tired of it. I also hope that I’d never be as narrow minded as some reviewers¬†– aka Cosmo Landesman from The Times; not all popular films are rubbish you know.