Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The soup conundrum

According to a study in Germany there's no real difference between reading a paper book and reading an ebook. But there is, I tell you, there is! If you're trying to eat lunch while reading a paperback you have to hold the printed book open with one hand but if you're reading on a screen, you don't. So for eating with a knife and fork, reading online wins. For sandwiches, a paperback is good. But for reading while eating soup...

Which do you prefer? Print or screen?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

All Hallows Read

Neil Gaiman has proposed a new tradition: give a scary book to someone at Halloween.

I like the idea of giving books, although I'm not really into being scared. I've avoided "It" and "Silence of the Lambs" and "The Amytiville Horror". I prefer my fiction light and even fluffy. But there are a few scary books I'd be willing to give.

The Graveyard Book by Neil himself starts rather scarily: "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." It's a great book and not too scary for adults seeing that it's aimed at children. Suited me fine!

Various other websites have suggested books but no one has mentioned Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr. I found that book haunting; a magic pencil brings to life whatever is drawn with it. The drawings only come to life in dreams but there's a growing and sustained air of menace. Once again, it's written for children so it's about what I can handle as far as horror goes!

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen got a mention. I enjoyed the beginning of the book when it looks like it's going to be a Gothic horror tale, although I found it disappointing when it morphed into a standard romance tale.

Dracula by Bram Stoker is another classic. I don't think the later parts of the book stand up as well as the beginning, but I recommend it if only to see where the vampire genre started.

And finally, I'd recommend Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen if you like your horror funny. If you liked Sean of the Dead, this is the one for you. I found it too gory for my taste but I still enjoyed it.

So, what are your recommendations for scary books for this Halloween?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fed up with Facebook?

There's another new alternative to Facebook: Diaspora.

The big advantage is that it's independently run and that it doesn't demand your "real name" or your gender. If you choose to set your gender, you have a blank box to fill in so you're not stuck with only male or female.

It does allow you to connect your account to Facebook and I have very mixed feelings about that. And it's still in alpha, so likely to be buggy.

It's interesting to see what they're doing though so if anyone wants an invitation, let me know and I'll invite you over. You can email me at - I wouldn't put your email address in the comments here, it will be harvested by spambots!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Books for under a quid

I've got two more books I want to recommend by Lexi Revellian. Torbrek and the Dragon Variation and Trav Zander are available for the Kindle at only 99p each, or 99 cents if you're in the US which is even more of a bargain!

As I've come to expect with Lexi, they're very easy reading and draw you in with a gentle humour. I cared a lot about her characters and loved the villains especially in the first book. The feel of the stories is generally upbeat and there's a fair bit of romance. There's also a kick-ass female lead in the first book although we see less of her in the sequel.

I ended up taking my phone to bed so I could carry on reading them and I was disappointed to reach the end.

One tiny caveat, the scenes aren't always marked off with white space, which can be disconcerting. It was a minor flaw in two otherwise wonderful books.

If you like your fiction to take you into another world I can't recommend these highly enough.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


We were at a 60th birthday party yesterday and it was held in the local adventure playground. What a brilliant idea! There were lots of families with children but it was us over 50s that had the best fun: we almost monopolised the zip line! I went on it 6 or 7 times and I was the only one to fall off. It was amazingly good fun.

If only we could have adult adventure playgrounds instead of gyms I'm sure we'd all be much fitter!
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