31 December 2011

How many books did you read in 2011?

I have had a weak year of reading if you look at the number of books I read in 2011.

2011~ 44
2010~ 85
2009~ 88

It's been a crazy year. I started out pretty strong with my reading. I was only homeschooling our youngest child as 2011 began. Other years I've been homeschooling as many as all five of our kids. Summer hit and with it the need to pick our son up from college classes daily, and to take our daughter to and from a high school summer course. It meant lots of time at the pool too and I read most of the time at the pool. We also had a lot of appointments for health care for our 15 year old daughter. Fall brought more of that. She also began having school at home due to her illness. Life got pretty crazy. I had to be diligent in managing my schedule; especially with a kindergartner coming home in the middle of each day.

Still, it's more than three books a month and that isn't so bad...

Do you track your reading? How? I use www.librarything.com. I can be found there with the username BoundTogetherForGood. I've been using LibraryThing since the spring of 2003 . Recording my reading allows me to refer back to my records and be able to see: when I read a book, to whom I read it, etc. It helps me to give better reading recommendations too.

How many books did you read this year?

22 December 2011

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

I very much enjoyed reading Grisham's Skipping Christmas. There is no Christmas "magic" in it aside from the magic that is noticed as the events are played out.

Luther talks Nora into skipping Christmas. He wants to skip all the hassle. He tallies last year's expenses to find that Christmas cost them over $6,000. With their daughter Blair on a Peace Corps assignment and not planning to come home for the holidays he suggest that he and Nora take a cruise and spend the money on themselves. 

Of course there has to be a bit of havoc. As soon as the neighbors hear that the Kranks are not going to be celebrating Christmas they let their dismay be fully understood. And Blair must figure into all of this too , right? She certainly does.

By the end of the book the Kranks find that Christmas is about giving; giving of yourselves. The book and film show an expression of great love in the midst of modern life.

I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the film. The film adaptation is titled Christmas with the Kranks. 

21 December 2011

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

The movie adaptation of this book is a classic. Our family watches it every year. "You'll shoot your eye out" or "Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie" are heard throughout the season.

While I enjoy the film made from this book, having seen it so many times made the book a bit less remarkable. The book and film hold true to each other except that the film places all the occurrences in the same time frame, which worked really well for the film. 

If you're a fan of the film, it may interest you to know that Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) played an uncredited role in the movie Elf. Here are a couple of links to commercials he was in as a child:

If you've not read the book or seen the film I suggest reading the book first and then seeing the film, of course.

18 December 2011

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

Facing a personal airline travel ban but needing to get to from DC to LA, journalist Tom Langdon had to formulate a plan. He decided to go by train and to turn that adventure into a story. 

The pace moves along nicely in this not-too-long modern-day Christmas book. It has a bit of everything; some romance, some adventure, and a nasty winter storm.

I read it in December of 2004. I rated it 4.5 * at the time I finished it. I might read it again next year. 

17 December 2011

A truly awful Christmas book...

I love to focus on positive things. However, there is one Christmas book that I've come across that is just too rotten not to post about.

Santa's Twin by Dean Koontz

This is the tale of two children who attempt to save Santa from his evil twin, Bob.

It's sounding horrible already, isn't it?

It gets worse. This is classified as a children's book. Sure it is an illustrated book of short length, but I don't see it as children's literature.

What's worse is that I love children's books that are written in verse. I came across this book initially because I was searching for adult books written in verse. To add insult to injury the writing in this is extremely poor. The rhymes are offensively immature, in my opinion.

Why bother to post about this? I hope to save my readers from purchasing it and being disappointed. Besides, you just might be inspired to check it out from the library to share in just how bad it is.

15 December 2011

Travel advice with eReaders

Many people own eReaders now. Many people travel too. That brings up concerns. Books are not expensive. Ereaders can be. If you travel with an eReader, first and foremost, you want to be sure you have it labeled in some manner so that if you lose it and an honest person finds it, it can be returned to you.

After some research I've found some interesting things that I want to pass on to my readers.

A Kindle owner can create and send a Reward document to the device, noting that a reward has been offered to the person who turns it in. That's an interesting ability. If the finder is dishonest though, and a reader of books, a reward may not be sufficient to garner the return of the device. In my opinion, you're still in the hands of fate if your device is lost. Amazon has a protocol in place to assist with the return of lost Kindle products.

If you lose your eReader you should deregister it to prevent people from having access to your account.

You can use a service such as www.rewardtag.com to print a tag with a reward offer on it. Anyone finding your device (any type of device) can refer to that tag to return it to you.

If you've lost or misplaced an iPad or an iPhone you can find it using the Find my iPhone app if you've installed it on your device. If you own one and haven't downloaded that app, do it now. I've used it twice to find my iPhone in our house. It's a wonderful app.

click here for >BestBookReadersAdviceOnFindingALostEReader

14 December 2011

EReader recommendations for those with vision problems...

A friend asked me if I had any thoughts on which eReader might be more suitable for a person who has vision problems.

Truthfully, any eReader will likely be good for such a situation. With books, they are either in a format with large type or they aren't. With an eReader it is easy to adjust the font size and style to one that you are comfortable with. It was a good question though and it merited some research. I wanted to advise her well and with more than a generic suggestion.

In my search I found this site which I think substantiates the user's explanation thoughtfully. And so, Barnes and Noble's NOOK products come out just ahead of Kindle.

http://tinyurl.com/PCWorldOnEReaderResolution (Click at the top right of the  page to skip the ad)

"Trade books, mass-market books, textbooks, magazines, newspapers, and children's books all look and function better on the Nook Tablet than on the Kindle Fire.
The Nook Tablet's viewing options; click for full-size image.The Nook Tablet's viewing options in a book.Both tablet's screens have a resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels, which limits how sharp the text they display can be. But the Nook Tablet's screen is less reflective than Kindle Fire's; the LCD is bonded to the glass, which mitigates reflection and increases contrast and sharpness. In comparison, I often encountered glare on the Kindle Fire's display.
I looked at the same magazines and books on each device, and the Nook Tablet was the clear overall winner at rendering text. At comparable font sizes, text on the Nook Tablet looked crisper than on the Kindle Fire.
In presenting standard books, the Nook Tablet offered more meaningful viewing choices. Though both tablets provide eight font-size options, the sizes on the Nook are more useful. It's definitely better for readers who need large type."

09 December 2011

I charged our boys' NOOKs so that they are ready for Christmas morning. (My initial review of NOOK Tablet.)

Boy, oh boy, are these boys going to be excited!
MB just turned 11
ED is about to turn 10

We have a houseful of kids. Along with that comes a houseful of books and technology.

Our 16 year old son has an iTouch. He also has an XBox and all the lovely gadgets that accompany that. He also hopes that we'll be helping him choose and share in the cost of a car soon; just have to find the right one.

Our 15 year old daughter has already received an iPhone 3 as her Christmas present for this year. I gave it to her immediately because I was anxious to get it set up and assure it was working properly. Previously I thought the data plans for phones were too expensive. She agreed to pay for the phone if we would pay for her data plan for a year. We decided that was fair. She uses the phone to record the details of her illness because it affects her daily life. It has been a useful resource in storing information and having it handy when we go to her medical appointments.

Our 5 year old daughter isn't interested in technology this year. She received a vReader last year for Christmas and uses it frequently. She's asking Santa for an American Girl doll for Christmas this year.

Back to the boys. They both really enjoy reading. Right after Christmas 2010 MB started saving his money to purchase a NOOK Color. This year they were both going to put that on the top of their Christmas lists. Then Barnes and Noble came out with the new NOOK Tablet. It didn't take long for their lists to be altered.

I've been researching eReaders for a long time. I was excited to get my hands on a NOOK Tablet to see if it was really all I expected.

Let me tell you...it is!

This week I spent two afternoons getting them set up. I visited our present closet and pulled everything out. I locked myself in my room. I was eventually joined by our five year old who is doing a wonderful job of keeping secrets this year!

I knew that I wanted to at least get both NOOK Tablets charged. I also wanted to charge the NOOK Simple Touch that has been purchased for me as a Christmas gift.

I found the devices very straightforward in functionality.

The anti-glare screen protectors went on smoothly.

I plugged them in, one at a time, and charged them by hiding them behind my husband's night stand.  Charging seemed to take much less time than I expected!

I linked both devices to my existing B&N account. I was happy to find that there is a "Kids" tab that the boys can go to in order to find all of the juvenile book titles! 

I easily found how to set the devices to require my B&N password in order to make a purchase! 

In no time at all I was being sucked in by the NOOK Tablets. I didn't really expect that. I love my eInk. I've mentioned that here time and time again. I really had to do some thinking. Did I want to keep the NOOK Simple Touch for myself or return it at a much greater cost and buy myself a NOOK Tablet also?

I have decided that for now I am going to keep the NST. The boys are in school all day. If I want to borrow one of the NOOK Tablets while they are at school that won't be a problem. This way I still have an eReader that operates with eInk. I find that important mostly because I read a LOT during the summer at the pool, or at the beach if we are fortunate enough to vacation at a beach. EInk screens are as easy to read in sunlight as a printed page, unlike a lighted screen.

I did struggle in making that decision. Ultimately, I already own an iPhone 4 so I have the functionality of a tablet in smart-phone-form at hand. Besides, I only paid $79 for my NST because of the Black Friday price break.

When I bought my original NOOK, Hubs asked me what I thought about it. My reply was that I liked it so much I was confident it wouldn't be my last eReader. I already knew that as the technology marched forward I would want to follow along. And so our family is following. I'm sure I will eventually upgrade again.

For now I can say that I am thrilled with the NOOK Tablets. I know our boys will be too. If any of you are buying eReaders as Christmas gifts I suggest charging them ahead of time, as I did. If you run into any complications or have questions, ask me. If I can't help, we can surely find the answer somewhere.

Happy reading!

08 December 2011

Do you own Christmas-themed books? Do you have a place for them?

The last few years I've been collecting our seasonal books and putting them away with the Christmas decorations each year. I've found it feels wonderful to know that you will be able to find the book you are looking for at Christmastime.

Up until now the books have been in a small box in the attic until they are brought down for our enjoyment.

Last week I could take it no longer. I kept trying to find a place to put the books. The box wasn't going to agree with me as a long-term solution. With seven people in our household there was just no table space available. It didn't take me long to decide that I what I needed was a special bookcase just for our Christmas treasures.

I had a particular store in mind. That's where I went. Home Goods. I haven't been in a Home Goods store since before we moved to England. I can't recall why buy Hubs went to one not too long ago and arrived home saying "Hey, there's this neat store I think you'd like..." Yes, I do like it.

We were in a bit of a hurry the afternoon we went shopping. We walked in and went straight to the tables and shelves and immediately found exactly what I was looking for. It's perfect. It's compact; two shelves. It can easily be moved to other locations in the house if I choose to place it elsewhere in the future. After Christmas is over I plan to send it right up to the attic, along with the Christmas books so that it doesn't become overtaken by other books.

02 December 2011

Christmas book suggestions...

I've decided to post Christmas book suggestions this month.

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

This is the story of a little girl who yearns for a doll and a grandmother. It's also the story of a woman who years for a child of her very own. Heartwarming.

Those wishing to teach their children about St. Nicholas might find this lovely book helpful:

The Real Santa Claus: Legends of Saint Nicholas by Marianna Mayer

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