TWTW # 14 – A Scorcher

It’s Bank Holiday Monday as I write this, and I’m a little bit later than usual sitting down to think about what’s happened in the last week. Essentially a short working week for most with the long weekend around Easter and quiet for me as I am waiting for my client to respond regarding a report. He has responded and is taking a wider view across his organisation before giving formal comments.

It’s been getting progressively warmer all week with the weekend turning into quite a scorcher and I’ve been doing quite a bit allotment and garden wise, while I’ve had the time. I’ve sown some lettuce seed as individual plugs – some for my Mum’s garden and the remainder as back-ups for the allotment. I’ve potted on some tomatoes and have got some more seed to sow a few more plants.

I’ve also started off my runner beans. Garden lore says that you should sow your runner bean seeds on the first Bank Holiday in May and plant them out on the second one, so these are a little early but that might not be a bad thing as they were covered in a little mould which I washed off and they seem to be okay – not soft or any obvious other damage other than the mould – so if they don’t grow I’ll have time to get some more.

My car was MOT’d and serviced at the beginning of the week. It passed and so there’s nothing further to do until next year or unless there’s a problem.

Wilson was also back at the vets for his next round of tests – we’re awaiting the results.

I’ve been reading “The Way Home – Tales from a Life Without Technology” by Mark Boyle, essentially the stories of the author when he completely gave up technology, including electricity and other mains utilities, living on an island near Ireland. I’m not that far in, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Slightly ironically I’m reading it on my Kindle.

I’ve also  got  the  (re)review  of “Under  The  Rock” coming  up next weekend with the chance to receive a copy of the paperback.

Been watching the new season of Bosch on Amazon over the weekend, it’s another great season of the show, and it’s great that such high quality tv can be be made to this standard – thoroughly recommended! If you’ve read Michael Connelly’s “Two Kinds of Truth”, it’s mostly based on that.

Export Highlights From Your Kindle

I highlight a lot on my kindle, particularly when I’m researching a particular topic or just to highlight particularly inspiring passages for future reference.

Now there’s a great “new” feature on Kindle which now allows you to directly export your highlights via email, and receive them as both .pdf and csv files. There have been ways to do this via for a while now, and your highlights are still stored there, but this is a more direct service.

Firstly you need to make sure you’re running the most recent version of the kindle OS on your device (I’ve got a Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s now running ver. 5.8.2).

In a book that you have highlights, tap at the top of the screen to bring up the Menus, then tap “Go To”:

2016-08-24 09.15.30

On the next screen tap “Notes”:

2016-08-24 09.15.42

Then tap “Export Notes”:

2016-08-24 09.15.51

And then finally tap “Send”:

2016-08-24 09.15.58

As you’ll see from the image above this sends the notes to your Amazon email address, and you should end up getting an email that looks something like this:

Screenshot 2016-08-24 08.57.02

The pdf is a nice little document in it’s own right and the CSV file, allows for easy transfer from a spreadsheet to other places e.g. the research folder in Scrivener.

This is a great feature, and one that I feel I will be using a lot, particularly for background research.

2014 Review and a Look Ahead

I don’t tend to do review of the year posts each year, sometimes I’ll take a theme and just cover that, other times I won’t bother at all. The latter is more often the norm. 2014 however has been a “bit of a year” for me. So I thought I’d just write out a few highlights and one or two low bits too for good measure.


I’d say that the year as a whole has been backdropped by work-life balance, with the balance being unevenly tilted towards work. I’ve had to reapply for my job as part of a restructure, and it’s been pretty full on. I’ve been offered voluntary redundancy twice (and we’re just going for a third round now), I’ve not applied on both occasions, but am giving the third time some serious consideration.


On the life side of the scale it’s been a tiring year. I’ve done far less, due to pressures of work than I would like. I’ve noticed that I’ve been far less present on social media platforms, as well as reading less books and generally having less time for relaxation.

We lost Sparky our elder dog back in March, and then got Ruby at the end of June. I still miss Sparky every day, and things still feel very empty without him around. Wilson has taken well to being the older dog, and I’m really pleased and impressed with the way he’s turned out into such a well rounded dog.


The allotment has been going along quite happily, it’s not been the best of years, but it’s been far from the worst, and I’m setting a good basis for next year. I’ve managed a few video posts, and have a year ending one to go up, as soon as it’s posted to YouTube.


As I mentioned I’ve read far less than I have done in previous years, mainly due to having less free time. I would however single out a few books I’ve read (I read these in 2014, but they may not have been published this year) to mention here:

The House of Dolls by David Hewson – There’s no such thing as a  bad book by David Hewson, and this new series set in Amsterdam has all the hallmarks of being fantastic. This first in the series is excellent and I look forward to reading the next one, hopefully in 2015.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This took me back to my childhood and the computer games that I used to play.

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly – The latest Harry Bosch, and a great addition to the canon, and likely to be a milestone step in the series. I’m not sure where Michael Connelly is going next here, but there are a number of options, and again I look forward to the next in the series. (I also loved the Amazon pilot of Bosch, and can’t wait for the full series).


Again, a few to single out (and again I watched them in 2014, but they may have been released before that year):

Dawn  of the Planet of the Apes – Only recently watched this, but I loved the direction that the movie went in following on from the previous one, and abandoning the Charlton Heston era movies (and the awful Mark Wahlberg remake).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I love the Marvel movies (and the comic books too), and I’ve seen a few others this year as well; Thor: The Dark World and The Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a close choice between Capt. and Guardians, but again, I think the way that the story and characters have been bought on since the first Captain America movie, plus Avengers: Assemble give this one the edge.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Loved this. Wasn’t sure that it would ever work as trilogy of films, but it does. Looking forward to the final film too, although that will be a 2015 watch for me.

Godzilla – A remake that remain truer to the original and a great film.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I’ve never read the books, but love the films, again looking forward to the final two parts of this series too.

And Looking Ahead to 2015?

I’m not sure what 2015 holds. More upheaval at work I expect, and I need to make a decision about voluntary redundancy again. There will also be more  books to read and more films to watch. I don’t really do resolutions, but I’ve got a few aims for 2015.

  1. Be more balanced of temper. I think in part 2014 has been characterised by me having a shorter fuse than usual. I’m not happy about this, so want it to change. More counting to ten I suspect in 2015.
  2. Better work – life balance than above.
  3. Read more, although be realistic about what’s achievable. I also want to get through the “To Be Read” backlog mountain. Although I’m not setting any firm systems in place to do this as I have in the past.
  4. Have a good year on the allotment, and try to keep a better photo and video record of what’s going on there.
  5. Write more. Both blog posts, but also get back into writing properly.

There are lots of other things in my head (you could always add; lose weight, be fitter etc) but the above are the main aims.

Out today… The House of Dolls

I’m really looking forward to reading David’s latest book.

Amsterdam = a city that I know relatively well, but am expecting to discover in a whole new set of ways.
Pieter Vos = a new series character. I love a series read, and Nic Costa was one of the best, so am expecting more of the same, plus there is already a second in the pipeline.

Come on UPS, hurry up and deliver already!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Two Years A Kindle Owner

I’ve had a Kindle for little over two years now.

I wondered when I bought it how it might affect my reading and book buying habits. Would I stop buying physical books and only buy Kindle books from now on? Would my kindle be just a flash in a pan though, and would I be unable to give up the allure of the physical book.

In truth after two years I think it’s none of the above. I think I have spent far more money on “books” than I might otherwise have done in the last two years, having regularly fallen for the temptation of the “Kindle Daily Deal” or other promotions; where I’ve bought books, many of which I still haven’t read. Then again I’ve bought books on promotion that I wouldn’t otherwise, and have enjoyed them and gone on to buy more by those authors.

I haven’t given up on physical books either, although I have probably changed my habits here. I tend to now only buy physical books that are by authors where I particularly want to keep a physical copy, or those that don’t produce a Kindle edition, for whatever reason.

I still visit bookshops too, although I will admit this is one source where I am definitely buying less books from, I’ve become much more of a browser now than I was before.

Overall I think my Kindle has had a positive impact. I’m reading more books than I ever have, and taking advantage of being able to carry my Kindle just about anywhere means I’ve made more time available to read.

I’m also impressed that it is as robust as it is. I did wonder whether it would last this long, but I’m pleased to say that it seems to be working as well today, as the first day I owned it. The battery life is still very good, taking weeks or even months between each charge, even with the Wi-Fi activated. It still has plenty of space for more books too, so no worries about storage space anytime in the near future.

All round a good investment.

Busy Monday

Mondays are normally a quiet affair, nothing much happening; tumbleweed junction. Not today however. Today however a few things did happen.

First I had a post I’d written for Work At Home Wisdom was published.

Secondly a promo I’d written was released.

Finally Jon Katz released a new book, an ebook original, available in both standard and enhanced (available 13th August) version. He talks about it in the video below.

Book Review: Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, Vol. II by Edward A. Grainger

Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, Vol. IIAdventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, Vol. II by Edward A. Grainger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second volume of stories from Edward A. Grainger a.k.a David Cranmer, and although I gave Vol I five stars too, this second volume has the edge over it’s predecessor in my opinion.

Vol II contains seven new stories including the novella “Origins of White Deer”, which is Cash Laramie’s back story and a sensational ending story in “Reflections in a Glass of Maryland Rye”, which leaves a world of possibilities for a third volume.

Each story is well written, and really conveys what I imagine the old west to have been like.  Life was hard, and justice swift, if you lived by the gun you could expect to die the same way.

Each story is an original but they all sit well together as a collection, seeing Laramie & Miles tracking down criminals and seeing justice done.

Bought up on doses of John Wayne and others, I seem to have neglected the western genre when it comes to my reading material.  The adventures of Laramie and Miles however leave me wanting more, if I had to criticise, it would only be to say the book is too short. 

That said both Vol I & Vol II are available on Amazon for 86p ($0.99) each, and I would recommend anyone to go and check them out, whether you consider you like westerns or not as they are both great, great reads.

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Book Review: Suicide Run by Michael Connelly

Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch StoriesSuicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great collection of short stories featuring Harry Bosch, and spanning different times in the detectives back story.

The book as a whole was relatively short and the four stories that it contains include a number of nice cameos from other Connelly characters; Terry McCaleb (Blood Work & The Narrows) and Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer & The Brass verdict), which was a very nice touch.

As a small collection of short stories, this was a very quick read, and easy to read in a day. Am looking forward to the other short story collection from Michael Connelly that is due out next month.

View all my reviews

So You Got A Kindle

So, like me you’ve got a kindle or some other kind of e-reader. Great isn’t it? I think so, I’ve read more since I’ve had it and it enables me to carry many books rather than one or perhaps two. This suits my reading style, because sometimes I want a change of pace during the day with my book reading, and my kindle means I can cover all eventualities.

But now it means I buy less books from bookshops, I still go in and browse but I don’t buy so much, I now only buy from stores if the books not available on kindle and then if I’m online shopping in the kindle store and a book I want to read isn’t there I might buy online anyway rather than on the high street.

Now what about unintended consequences? I’m one kindle owner amongst many. There have already been reports of kindle book sales exceeding paperback sales for the first time, so what if all kindle owners are no longer buying books from the high street stores. What impact is that having on those bookstores?

It’s not my intention to drive a bookstore out of business by my shopping habits. I love bookshops, but if I still want to visit them, they need to remain viable as a business.

Now the only big high street chain is Waterstones. They are owned by the same group as HMV, the music store and HMV are busy going to the wall as they’re sales drop (reportedly as a result of the rise of digital music and players). If HMV does fold, will Waterstones follow? What will happen to the high street bookstores? More independents? Doesn’t seem like a good business model, does it? Perhaps more coffee shops where you can sit and read your kindle and shop online for more books via the free wi-fi? Finally where does this leave libraries? Particular with public sector cuts too?

I have no answers to my questions, or what if anything I can do about it, but I’m giving it some thought…..

UPDATE:  Came across this article in the Guardian, after I had written this post.

What’s in my bag

Both @richardmackney and @ukcameraman have recently posted about the contents of the bag they carry on a daily basis, so I thought I would join in with a post of my own.  This is the bag that goes with me most places, but mainly to and from work and most of the kit is in there most days, although a book/kindle are interchangeable and sometimes I don’t carry my netbook.

So here’s what’s in my Wenger backpack.

  • Pencil case, contains mainly markers and other presentation pens
  • Tissues
  • Moo business cards and stickers and work business cards
  • Notebook and post-its
  • Rail season ticket
  • Access pass and keys
  • 3 mi-fi
  • Emergency dog biscuits
  • Paracetamols and ibuprofen
  • £1 coins in film cannister (for car parking machines and emergency coffees)
  • Novatech 10″ netbook and charger
  • Sunglasses
  • i-Phone charger
  • Pac-a-Mac
  • Kindle/book
  • i-Phone 3GS
  • Encrypted memory sticks & extension cables
  • Power Monkey Explorer and power tips

Other things are added or swapped from time to time.  Looking at what others are carrying I think that my bag is probably heavier than most.