Tag Archives: Books

January 2012 Books Read

1 Feb

My new year’s resolution for 2012 was to read more books. I used to love reading, but I’ve fallen out of the habit (even though I have much more free time than I used to). I read embarrassingly few books in 2011 – not including cookbooks and re-reads of old favourites, I think I read a grand total of 6 books.

I figured that buying a Kindle would help me read more, and I was right! In January I’ve read 13 books.

To keep the Kindle dust free I ordered a sleeve from The Office of Minor Details.

As everyone told me, if you own a Kindle (or other e-reader) Calibre is absolutely indispensable. I have a system where if I enjoy a book I keep it on the Kindle for easy access, but otherwise I delete it from the Kindle and just keep the book in Calibre. So here are the books I read in January 2012:

*** Deleted ***

Crimson Kiss by Trisha Baker
Crimson Night by Trisha Baker
Crimson Shadows by Trisha Baker
Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton
Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton
Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Lady Most Likely by Connie Brockway, Eloise James and Julia Quinn

The Crimson Series was truly awful. I forced myself to read it because it was a hassle to get ahold of the mobi files for an out of print series, and the secondhand copies are sold for $40-70 on eBay so I thought there had to be some redeeming element. Nope. It wasn’t well-written, and the main character kept shouting at everyone, which the author probably felt made her passionate, but actually made her seem deranged. I wanted to punch almost every character, and the ones I didn’t were all killed off anyway. If the book hadn’t been so earnest (and didn’t pre-date the explosion of the vampire romance genre by about a decade) I would have assumed it was satire.

The Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton are pretty easy reading, and after the Crimson books they seem like great literature. Apparently a couple of books from now the author loses her nut and her personal life spills into the books in a toe-curlingly embarrassing way. I read five of the series to see if would grow on me (like I said, it’s easy reading), but I’m not really getting into it. If this is as good as it gets I’m don’t think I’ll stick around for the downturn.

The Lady Most Likely was pretty “meh”. I normally enjoy Connie Brockway for escapist romance but it wasn’t one of her better efforts.

*** Kept ***

Wool by Hugh Howey
Wool 2 by Hugh Howey
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

I’ve always thought that Stephen King’s best writing is in his short stories and novellas. His full length stories often suffer from bloat, but his short stories are much punchier and the endings are much better. My all time favourite ending of King’s is The Mist – absolutely sublime. Full Dark, No Stars is not his strongest collection of shorts (that goes to Skeleton Crew), but they are solid King and well worth reading.

The Wool series is my happy Kindle find. It’s a series of novellas priced at 99c each (except for Wool 5 which is full length and $2.99) and is about a future where humanity lives in an immense underground silo because the world outside is too toxic to sustain life. I have a soft spot for dystopian fiction, and Wool is good at sustaining its quietly oppressive atmosphere. I already have Wool 3-5 loaded, ready to go for February.

Stories of Your Life and Others is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve ever read – pretty much every one is a winner. A must-read.

My Kindle 3 Arrived!

6 Jan

I ordered a refurbished Kindle 3 (now called the Kindle Keyboard) from Big W on December 30 or 31st and have been hanging out for it ever since!

image from Wikipedia

Big W had it for $99 plus $10 cashback from Paypal, and $89 is an awesome price. Also there have been reports that Big W/Woolworths are actually selling new Kindles as refurbished because they’re trying to offload discontinued stock, which is pretty cool. Even if that’s not the case, my Kindle arrived looking perfect, and came with a comforting 1 year warranty. I was considering the Kindle 4, but there were some reports of the screen not being as good. It also retails for $139 in Australia, and I didn’t think it was worth the difference.

The first thing I did was jailbreak it so I could load custom screensavers using the instructions from this website (that was my new experience for this week, by the way). I spent most of yesterday looking for suitable photos, resizing them and converting them to grayscale. I went for an animal theme, and found a lot of the images on forums where people posted their favourite wildlife photos. =)

James: If I had a Kindle it would be robot themed. All the pictures would be of robots.
*sees a picture of a lion on my Kindle*
James: Ooh I like that one

Here is the picture that James liked enough to abandon his robot dreams. You can click on it for the 600×800 version if you want to steal it for your own Kindle.

You have to be careful with the images because if there are too many gradients in the picture then you get ugly splotches on the Kindle version. I also found that images that were very dark and also very busy didn’t look good – I had a gorgeous photo of some deer in a creepy-looking forest that I had to reluctantly delete.

This one is my favourite. It is a little splotchy on the Kindle screen (and because I had to stretch the image to get it big enough) but I love the picture enough to put up with it.

Loading all those images makes me feel like the Kindle is now mine. =) A side benefit is that I won’t have my soul eaten by Emily Dickinson.

Emily: I’m coming for you anyway Kaye
Me: /sleeps with one eye open

I was quite proud of myself for jailbreaking the Kindle. This stuff normally gets delegated to James, but I thought it looked fairly straightforward, so I gave it a shot. The only part I missed was having to create a blank reboot file every time I changed the screensaver, and luckily for me James had picked up on it. But I still count it as me doing the jailbreaking!

I’m loving everything about it so far, and am enamoured with the idea of carrying my whole library around with me. The screen is easier to read than James’ iPad – it looks so much like paper. James was also very approving that the Kindle came with the manual pre-loaded (I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of “it makes a lot of sense”). The only thing I don’t want in ebook format is recipe books – I prefer flipping through cookbooks by hand. Also, since the photos aren’t optimised for the Kindle, they look gross and blotchy.

I’m going to get a case from The Office of Minor Details to match the case for my Vaio Z. I don’t want to bulk up the Kindle by using those covers that stay on it all the time, but I want something to protect it when I’m carrying it around. I’m a little worried that it will be too matchy-matchy, but I do love the case and I don’t want to buy my Kindle inferior clothing.

James suggested that I call it the Kayedle but I don’t think that’s going to catch on.

Week 1: Made vanilla extract
Week 2: BJJ day camp
Week 3: Used Myki and went to Beatrix
Week 4: Tried new skincare
Week 5: Competed at the Pan Pacs
Week 6: Joined Kiva
Week 7: Tried durian and frog fallopian tube
Week 8: Attended a chicken auction
Week 9: Graded for my BJJ blue belt
Week 10: Went to Isthmus of Kra
Week 11: Makeover at Mecca Cosmetica
Week 12: Tried the Melbourne Bike Share
Week 13: Picnic at the Carlton Gardens
Week 14: Johnston Street Fiesta
Week 15: Sydney getaway
Week 16: Helped James do a fresh install on the Vaio Z
Week 17: Tried Evernote (and loved it!)
Week 18: Rock climbing
Week 19: Baking Day with Cat, Scott and Alex
Week 20: Went to the beach (I don’t do this often. It was a Big Moment)
Week 21: Jailbroke my Kindle

A Random Assortment of Recent Purchases

17 Nov

Because a pampered housewife’s shopping is never done!

Sigma Make Up Brushes

I picked up some make up brushes from Sigma ($48.60 USD with coupon + $11.39 for shipping). I was using the same (fairly crappy) brush for blush and bronzer, and it was time to upgrade. Their handles are too long for my travel makeup case, which is a bummer, but the bristles are lovely and soft.

image from Sigma Beauty

Mouse kept batting at the brushes so I had to hide them in my bathroom cupboard so they didn’t get ruined. If I don’t close the door properly, Mouse will open it and drag his favourite brush out. I’ve hidden them behind towels! I don’t know how he’s finding them. Sometimes I go into the bathroom and see him staring intently at the closed cupboard.

Adairs Bed Linen

I also bought some sheets from Adairs. I bought a set of off-white sheets (incidentally, to replace the sheets that Mouse ripped up),  a bath mat, plus an extra doona cover and a matching pillow set. I’m so in love with the doona set – it’s so soothing looking. =)

image from Adairs

The bed linen was fairly pricey – over $400 for everything – but despite wayward Mouse claws, I like having nice sheets. I don’t mind scrimping on some things, but the things I touch every day should be make me happy. =)

A Whole Bunch of Nyx Make Up From Cherry Culture

/sigh. I never learn. But it’s such great quality and everything was 40% off! I got like 12 things for $65 (including shipping), so even if just a couple work out I will consider it good value. I’ll do a blog post once everything arrives.

Hunger Games Trilogy

I’m trying to gradually stop buying paper books (except for cook books – I’ve tried them in e-book form and they just don’t work) so when I bought the Hunger Games Trilogy I picked up the kindle version. I bought them separately though, because it’s cheaper to buy the books individually rather than packaged in the trilogy.

image from Wikipedia

I’m trying to not buy things in the $60 range though, because I’m conscious that Christmas is coming up, and I know I’m a difficult person to buy for (apparently Ivanna always hopes she doesn’t get me when we do cousin kris kringle!) so I don’t want to make it harder for people. I did buy some cute summer dresses on eBay since my summer wardrobe is sadly lacking.

I’m also holding off on a couple of big purchases. I want a cute little netbook (waiting to see how Asus price the 1025CE when it comes out later this year) and also an underwater camera (looking at the Panasonic FT3 and FT10).

New Cookbooks

20 Jul

Last week someone made about $8000 of fraudulent charges on my credit card (and the Citibank guy was able to confirm that it was indeed my card, and not James’) so both of us have to have new credit cards issued.

In the week before our replacement cards arrived I, rather perversely, spent a large chunk of time browsing online for stuff I want.

When we received the cards, my pent up shopping lust overflowed and I bought:

Thai Food (£15.89)

image from Amazon

I have Thai Street Food which is also by David Thompson (a Christmas gift from Scott!) and it’s so good that I also forked out for his other Thai cookbook. But that was was mainly an impulse purchase to get free super saver shipping from Amazon UK by spending over £25, and what I mainly wanted was Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (£13.74).

There are a few more things that I want to buy, like a replacement fountain pen, some make-up brushes, a pearl necklace (I don’t know why I thought googling “Asian wearing black pearl necklace” was a good idea), and some new clothes, but this will do me for now. Expect some new recipes when these two arrive! =)

Oh Book Depository, how you lure me in …

16 Nov

You know how I wanted Momofuku and Bourke Street Bakery? Well Book Depository is offering 10% off vouchers, so that pretty much made the decision for me.

Except I ended up buying 5 books in total. /shameface

In preparation for my Book Depository purchase I was looking up cookbook reviews, and I told James about a couple of them. Some reviews complained that Momofuku had too much swearing in it, and also a review for Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That? pointed out that there were some unrealistic suggestions in the book, such as owning two dishwashers. But anyway, I told James I was going to buy some books:

James: Oh yeah. The book about swearing at two dishwashers.
Kaye: You’ve conflated the reviews for two different books.
James: Conflated isn’t even a real word!
Kaye: Yes it is. It means to combine.
James: I find it highly unlikely there would be two words for “combine”.

Anyway, here are the books I ended up buying.

image from Book Depository

image from Book Depository

image from Book Depository

image from Book Depository

image from Book Depository

After the discount it came to $136.53 for the lot. Hopefully they will keep me occupied for awhile.