Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: 2011

Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 in First Lines

Hosted by The Indextrious Reader

January: First of all, apologies for the lack of recent updates
February: Hosted by Should Be Reading
March: The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
April: I wish I'd read the first two books before I read this one.
May:  Well, what is it?
June: One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
July: The most interesting, fascinating and powerful non-fiction that I have read in a long time!
August:  Apologies for the late start to this 'Summer Special'.
September: Hosted by Freda's Voice
October: What do you get when you cross around one thousand books, 3 authors, 2 blankets, a hotel, some crazy hats and a video link with a room full of bookaholics?
November:  "In seventeenth-century Valladolid, Spain's new capital, Miguel Cervantes is busy writing his comic masterpiece, Don Quixote.....
December: Welcome to my little part of the 2011 Advent Tour.

Readathon Update 3

  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Total Pages Read: 330
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 1
  • Pages Read since last update: 154
  • Total time read: 3hr
  • What I'm currently reading: The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis
  • How I'm currently feeling: I'm pleased with how much I've read today, especially in the last few hours, but wish I'd had more time yesterday and tonight. Oh well, I've read more than usual (just) and hopefully I'll have time to read a bit more still

Saturday 9: Abigail's Last Stand

Hosted by Saturday 9

1. Over all, how do you feel about what happened in your life in 2011?
It's been a year of ups and downs for me. Luckily though things have got gradually better as the year has gone on, leaving me feeling OK

2. Do you do New Year's resolutions? If so, what are they this year?
Every year I make a resolution not to have any, and then change my mind and make some at the last minute. This year I've made 3:

  1. To read the bible more often
  2. To lose at least some weight by the end of the year
  3. To get my study sorted and usable for relaxation, reading and writing
3. In the past 24 hours, I have reconnected with 3 old friends that I've not spoken to in years. If you could reconnect with someone from your past who would it be, and why?
One of my friends from university (Nell)- we lost touch soon after university and I've wished I still had contact with her ever since

4. Do you have anything that you would have not done or done differently in 2011 as you look back?

Probably, but isn't it better to look forward than back

5. Going back to my ex-friends that I reconnected with, one of them ended over a boyfriend. She called to apologize. Do you have someone that you fell out with you and wonder how they are?
See question 3

6. If you had a chance to reconnect with an ex (say for coffee), who would it be, and why?

I don't think I'd want to

7. One of resolutions is about weight-loss. Have you ever struggled with your diet?
Yep, and its one of mine as well

8. What do you think was the top news story of 2011?
The marriage of Prince William

9. What are your plans for (New Year's Eve) tonight?
I'm going to spend it with family and friends, mixed with a bit of reading as well

Readathon Update 2

Hosted by Squeaky Books

  • Total Books Read: 0
  • Total Pages Read: 176
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 14
  • Total time read: 1.5
  • What I'm currently reading: Still Silverbirch by Robkaay
  • How I'm currently feeling: I have to keep reminding myself that there is a reason why I've read so little during the last 12 hours- I was asleep for most of them! I have a busy day today, but I'm going to try to snatch a little bit of reading inbetween activities

Friday, 30 December 2011

Readathon Update 1

Hosted by Squeaky Books

  • Total Books Read: 0
  • Total Pages Read: 162
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 162
  • Total time read: 1hr 15mins
  • What I'm currently reading: Silverbirch by Robkaay
  • How I'm currently feeling: Plodding along slowly, having got distracted by the TV. Will go to bed soon and then try again in the morning

How books can grow on trees

Who says books don’t grow on trees? You’d be forgiven for thinking they do if you’d visited the Community Christmas Tree Festival in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England this December. Thanks to the combined generosity of BookCrossers around the world, the joy of books was spread to all who visited the fabulous Festival. There were plenty of trees present, but this tree was the only one with decorations and books donated from all around the world. Those present were amazed to learn that the books tucked underneath the branches were theirs for the taking - no strings attached. As an added special treat, Festival attendees were able to help themselves to decorations from the tree itself. Two people have already made journal entries about their catches (and one of them was a new member)! Hopefully, there will be plenty more people who think of BookCrossing as they open their books, drop in their bookmarks, or decorate their own trees this Christmas.

 Also posted on BookCrossing

A big thankyou to everyone who helped by sending me books and/or decorations, or by posting their messages  on bookcrossing. I'm hoping to do it again next year, although maybe with a slightly different style of decorations.

Robin Hoodie by Hans Christian Asbosen (A Review)

The blurb:
This explosive historical document reveals the real Britain of old; where the orphan Jamie Oliver Twist campaigned for healthier workhouse gruel; Dick Turpin was a notorious charity mugger; Shakespeare was busy penning the Christmas special of his soap opera; and Robin the Hoodie nicked iPods off ruch joggers to give to the poor. Painstakingly mistranslated from the original sources, Robin the Hoodie is a treasury of anti-social tales from history that will help you forget all that nonsense they taught you at school.

My review:
This alternative history of England has truly bizarre. Don't get me wrong, it was humorous, but there was something missing somehow. I think it was probably the fact that most of the jokes were one-liners that was the problem- funny in themselves, they lacked a sense of continuity. Furthermore, there was only a skating reference to the true history in most cases, with some stories centred around puns on names, or one small legendary incident. Having said this, it was an enjoyable light-hearted read, perfect for the Christmas holidays.
 I bought this book new.

Action Point: Think about your view of the past. Is there any historical period that you need to brush up on?

Discussion point: How do you view history? Is it a purely factual thing, or open to interpretation?

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (A Review)

The blurb:
When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own... except that it's different. It's a marvelous adventure unttil Coraline discovers that there's also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to keep her forever! Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home.

My review:
An enoyable and intriguing read. Younger readers might enjoy the gruesome aspects more than I did, but there was plenty else to keep me reading. Coraline's character came across extremly well, reminding me of many a child her age. The other world was mysterious and creepy, it kept your attention very well.

I read this book as a bookcrossing ray

Action Point: Make a list of all the things that make your family unique and special to you. Read it when back at times when you don't appreciate them quite as much.

Discussion point: What things are you scared of?

The Little Book of Mornington Crescent by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer and Humphrey Lyttelton (A Review)

The blurb
Edited by I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue regulars and Mornington Crescent enthusiasts Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer with contributions from Grand Master Humphrey Lyttelton. The new and revised history and rules of the Gentleman's game of Morningto Crescent. Not since N.F. Stovold's celebrated book Mornington Crescent: The Rules and Origins has there been a publication that brings professionals,amateurs, devotees and newcomers up to date.

My review:
 Humourous and witty, a great book for both those who listen to 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue' and thoe that don't. It often makes little sense, but that's the great fun of it. A super light read, perfect for a change from more serious stuff.

This book was passed onto me at a bookcrossing local meetup

Action Readers point: Next time you're in London, note the stations that you pass on the underground. Be more aware of your surroundings and you may yet become a champion of mornington crescent

Discussion point: Have you ever invented a board game? Tell us about its rules

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble (A Review)

The Blurb
NEW BEGINNINGS A glass of wine, a gossip and a good book- The Reading Group is born. CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE Its members are as different as the books they read, But each woman has secret hopes and fears- for a new lover; a straying husband; an ailing mother; a tearaway teenager- and each woman finds laughter and support in the group's monthly meetings. HAPPY ENDING A warm, funny, touchhing novel about a group of women learning to read between  the lines....
My review:
 It started off slowly, but by the end of the book I really felt a part of the story. I wanted to know what was going to happen with the characters, to help them with thhe difficulties in their lives and to chat with them in the reading group. Having read the books they did was useful for some chapters, for others it didn't seem to matter at all. I think the best way to read this book would be chapter by chapter, reading each of the books they studied just before their featured section. I've never been in a reading group, but this was exactly as I imagined they would be, and almost like a soap opera at the same time.

I read this book as part of a bookcrossing spiral

Action Readers point: Do something extra to help you share and explore the books you read. Maybe you could join a reading group, post more discussions on your blog (or start a reading blog), or chat on goodreads. Maybe you could pass a book along to your friends when you've finished with it, or bookcross it so that others can share.

Talking point: What forms of communication do you use to discuss books  with others

The oh-my-word-the-year-is-almost-over-and-I-haven't-reached-my-goal readathon

I just spotted this readathon over at Squeaky Books and, being such a sucker for readathons, I just had to sign up (even though its so late in the day).

My goodreads reading challenge counter currently shows 73/100 books read, but I know I've a few finished ovr Christmas that I haven't added yet. Little chance of reaching my goal, but I'll get as close as I can!

A Wayne in a Manger by Gervase Phinn (A Review)

Goodreads summary:
"A Wayne in a Manger" includes some wonderfully funny and touching nativity play anecdotes, including children forgetting their lines, ad-libbing, falling of the stage, picking their noses and showing their knickers. One hilarious anecdote tells of an innkeeper who generously says there's plenty of room for Mary and Joseph, while another child, jealous of Joseph's starring role, allows Mary to come in but not Joseph, who can 'push off'...There's the baby Jesus who suddenly pipes up with 'My name is Tammy, are you my Mommy?' and funniest of all, Mary who tells Joseph, 'I'm having a baby - oh and it's not yours'.

My review:
The perfect read for a Christmas holiday, this book have me chortling and "ahhhh"ing all the way through. Anyone who had ever had contact with young children will recognise the antics and anacdotes told in these chapters. It made me want to read it outloud to all around me. In fact, I shared so much that my Auntie wanted to read it as well. Despite not usually being a book reader, she found it hard to put down and finished it within two days.

I bought this book 2nd hand from a charity shop

Action point: Take note (and maybe even write down) the antics of young people around you. You never know, it might brighten up an otherwise dull day.

Reader's question: What's your funniest nativity story?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Blogging Break

I'll be taking a blogging break for the next week or so, in order to enjoy a family Christmas. I'll return with some information about my book-related Christmas activities at somepoint soon after that.

In the meantime have a great Christmas and don't read too much (as if that's possible).

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Morello Letters by Duncan McNair (A Review)

GoodReads summary:
Mr. Morello is a slightly confused, pear-shaped, 45 year-old Italian immigrant living with his larger, plump wife and three children. As a family, they share a curious fondness for all things British and yet by dint of their Italian heritage, struggle to come to terms with some of our more esoteric characteristics. Mr. Morello, a fastidious and prodigious letter writer, takes it upon himself to correspond with some of the great institutions and individuals—from Tony Blair, George W. Bush, The Lord Chancellor, Richard Branson, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to Gordon Ramsay and The Bank of England. All in an attempt to have his seemingly endless list of quandaries answered by the experts and, at times, in vain attempts to secure employment for his idling children. These hilarious letters, composed in Mr. Morello's bizarre English-Italian hybrid vernacular, and plethora of responses from the great and not so good, follow a long and successful tradition of prankish correspondence, as pioneered by Lazlo Toth and Henry Root. This good-natured exploration of British customs and idiosyncrasies is written with gentle and generous humor.

My review:
Packed with humorous and often hilarious letters to the stars, this book is great for picking up and reading in little bits, and equally easy to read all the way through in one setting. Some of the letters are fantastically imaginative, others are just plain weird. A wonderfully light book, perfect for a break from the seriousness of real life.

Action Point:
Why not brighten up someone's day by sending them a letter, humourous or heart-warming as suites your nature.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Meet Me On Monday: Christmas Edition

Hosted by Never Growing Old

It's been a little while since I've done this, but what with Christmas I just had to do it this week. 


1.Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping paper. Isn't it great fun to attempt to wrap strangely shaped objects!?

2.Real or artificial tree?
I prefer real, there's nothing like the smell of fresh pine needles

3.When do you put your tree up?

Usually about a week before Christmas but, depending on how busy we are in can sometimes be left until only a few days before

4.When do you take your tree down?
2nd January

5.Do you like eggnog?
I've never tried it, but it doesn't sound very appetising to me

6.Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. We collect a new figure ever holiday and now have basically a full set- stable, angel, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, 2 donkeys, ox, camel, 3 shepherds, 2 sheep and 3 kings.

7.Favorite Christmas Movie?
A Muppet Christmas Carol

8.Favorite Christmas cookie?
I don't really do Christmas cookies, but my favourite cookie is double chocolate chip

9.Where will you eat Christmas dinner?
With my family around the dining room table

10.Angel, bow or star on top of your tree?
Angel-  a fairtrade straw design

11.Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Christmas carols playing in the stores since October

12.Do you like Fruitcake?
Yes, especially if its Christmas cake with marzipan

13.What are you most excited about the holidays?
The possibility of snow

14.Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

We open stockings and 1 present before church on Christmas morning, the rest usuaully have to wait until the afternoon

15.Will you still be wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? 
With no doubt

Friday, 9 December 2011

Book Beginnings- 9th December 2011

Hosted by A Few More Pages

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble
7.15pm. Clare watched as the young woman passed her in the corridor.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Ambasadora winner!

Congratulations to Carol Thompson by won a copy of Ambasadora!
You have been e-mailed!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy

Simple, yet evocative verse accompanied by beautiful pictures. A tale of the peace of Christmas which none should forget.

Action Point: Try to be kind to everyone, included those you consider to be your enemies.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson (A Review)

A moving and inspiring account of a young boy with autism and his family's journey to Mongolia to try ad help him. There is rarely a page in this book that doesn't haveyou either crying, ahhhing or cheering. The photographic inserts reinforce the amazing passage taken in this real-life story. A truly memorable tale. Should be read by all.

Action point: Donate to the Horse Boy Foundation at http://horseboyfoundation.org

Friday, 2 December 2011

Virtual Advent Tour: Day Two

Welcome to my little part of the 2011 Advent Tour.
Do pop over to http://adventblogtour.blogspot.com/ to check out the other stops

Today I'm going to introduce you to a tradition that seems to be taking off recently around the UK:-
Christmas Tree Festivals!!!!!

Of course the idea of Christmas Trees is quite an old one and first came across here from Germany courtesy of the Victorian royal family. Nowadays it would be strange to find a town in England without one, and a trip into the countriside reveals plenty of them for sale. But the 'tradition' of holding festivals full of trees seems to be quite a new one. I've no idea when (or how) it first started, but a quick google search reveals page after page of them happening around the UK this year.

My experience of Christmas Tree Festivals started last year when it was suggested that my church ought to hold one. It was decided that we could raise funds for charity by filling the church full of christmas trees and invited people to come and see them. We invited local businesses to provide and decorate the trees and so our yearly 'Community Christmas Tree Festival' was born. It was lovely to be able to run it alongside the annual playgroup christmas fair, making the place full of bustle.

This year we've decided to support the local community even more by inviting mainly small independent businesses and local oragnisations to supply the trees- the hope being that this will help them with their advertising. I'm even doing a BookCrossing tree, adorned with decorations and books donated by bookcrossers around the world. There's going to be a quiz, as well as activities for children. We're also providing refreshments and lunches on the Saturday. We hope it will be a real festive occasion, raising lots of money for charity. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat (A Review)

A classic children's book, yet suitable for adults as well. What I love most about this book is the real grounding you feel in the historical context. The characters and places are only described briefly, but yet it is still possible to form a real connection with them. The plot comes across simple and sometimes charming, despite the often complex situations which take place. This is definatly a book that everyone should read at least once during their lifetime.

Action Readers: Think of a cause that you feel strongly about, and then do something to help it.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Friday 56 #14 The Children of the New Forest

Hosted by Freda's Voice

The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat
"You ask strange questions, young sir, but still I will answer you that"

Book Tunes #2

Hosted by Down The Rabbit-Hole

I'm currently reading 'The Children of the New Forest'. The Forest and escaping to / fighting for freedom reminds me of Robin Hood. And so, through my roundabout thinking, here's a tune that I'm reminded of whilst reading this book:

TGIF at GReads #4

Hosted by GReads

This Friday's Question:

When You're Not Reading: What occupies your time 
when your nose isn't stuck in a book?

Blogging about books and writing takes up quite a bit of my time nowadays (especially if I'm setting up new social pages like I was yesterday with Facebook). The rest of my time is split as follows:
  • Music activities, e.g. playing with my brass band, learning music theory, singing with choirs/at church
  • Craft activities, e.g. tapestry work, card making, making soaps / bubble bath, decopatch
  • Church activities, e.g. stewarding, attending services, creche
  • Youth activities, e.g. volunteering work in schools
  • Going for walks
  • Watching TV
Wow this makes me seems like I'm really busy! I'm sure I'm not really as bsusy as this!

    Thursday, 24 November 2011

    Theme Thursdays- Place Description

    Hosted by Reading Between Pages

    Today's theme is:

    PLACE DESCRIPTION (Location / Place / Room description)

    The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat
    As we said before, it contained a large sitting-room, or kitchen, in which were a spacious hearth and chimney, tables, stools, cupboards and dressers

    Third Sentence Thursday #16 The Children of the New Forest

    Hosted by Proud Book Nerd

    The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat
    The Cavaliers, or the party who fought for Kin Charles, had all been dispersed, and the Parliamentary army under the control of Cromwell were beginning to control the Commons. 

    We're on Facebook!

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    Tuesday, 22 November 2011

    Teaser Tuesday #19 The Children of The New Forest

    Hosted by Should Be Reading

    The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat
    "Who knows what they might do with these children!- Destroy the nest as well as the rats, indeed!- they must find the nest first"

    Monday, 21 November 2011

    Updated review policy

    Just a quick note to let any authors / publishers that may be passing through know that I have updated my review policy. Please take a peek if you are considering sending me a book.


    The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman (A Review)

    The bestselling story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

    My review:
    Whilst there were parts of this book which I enjoyed immensely, humourous and/or interesting as they were, the mathematical parts generally caused me much confusion. I guess I should have expected this in a book about 'the search for mathematical truth', but I felt that there was much more of this aspect than the bit about Paul Erdos' life. Why did he love maths so much? What about his relationships with other people? How did non-mathematicians react to him? These questions were only briefly touched on.
    In short, this is a book which those with a good mathematical knowledge will probably enjoy immensely, but for those of us not so mathematically inclined it will be of interest at best. 

    Visit Action Readers
    Action point: What is your focus in life? Take some time to review and (if necessary) reconsider it.

    Monday, 14 November 2011

    Musing Mondays #10

    Hosted by Should Be Reading

    This week’s musing asks…
    Are you currently collecting any authors? Why?
    Do you have all of their books? If not, why not? 
    Did you buy all the books in the collection at the same time, or did you buy a book here, a book there? Have you actually read all of the collection? If not, why not?

    I am collecting Christian Jacq, Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde books. I collect them because I love the way they write so much that I want to read their books over and over again. I knoe that when I pick up one of these books then I'll always have a good time.

    I believe that I have all of Jasper Fforde's books and almost all of Terry Pratchett's books (I can't decide whether I should include the children's books and Discworld background books in my collection, so some of these are missing at the moment). I've collected these mainly as they've come out, hence not having all of Christian Jacq's books- there are just too many out to buy all at once, so I tend to buy them when I find them on special offer.

    I have read most of my collections, but there are a few newer ones which I've still to read because my TBR pile has simply got in the way. Since the books I collect are almost all part of series, I often feel like I need to read the earlier books first so I need a good chunk of ring-free time to get to them.

    Saturday, 12 November 2011

    Calling all BookCrossing Supporters

    I've managed to get hold of a space for a BookCrossing Xmas Tree at my local Community Christmas Tree Festival. Loads of local businesses and organisations will be decorating trees to advertise what they do. Since BookCrossing is such a part of my life, I felt it was important it had a place in the community as well.
    The festival is raising funds for the Oxford Night Shelter, so its all in a good cause.

    I need your help though. To do this I need to have enough decorations related to BookCrossing (for instance bookmarks, covers of your favourite books, pictures of places you might release a book etc) or Christmas to fill a tree. I'm going to make some myself, but I wondered whether anyone would be willing to send me something to add, so that it really can be full without me collapsing from exhausted.

    I'm also looking to do a sort of 'BookCrossing Treasure Hunt', wild releasing books around the venue that are related to Christmas Tree, decorations or the Christmas Story. If anyone has a suitable book they're willing to donate please let me know.

    We will be setting up on Friday 9th December, so there's not long to go.
    If you're able to help in any way please leave contact details in the comments (also the place to ask any questions you may have).
    Thanks very much.

    Friday, 11 November 2011

    Book Beginnings- 11th November 2011

    Hosted by A Few More Pages

    The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman
    Vegre nem butulok tovabb (Finally I am becoming stupider no more) - the epitaph Paul Erdos wrote for himself. 

    Book Tunes #1

    Hosted by Down The Rabbit Hole

    My current read is 'The Man Who Loved Numbers' by Paul Hoffman. I found this video on YouTube and it just seemed to fit Erdos' way of looking at the world perfectly. There are no words, but even the instrumental fits well.

    Thursday, 10 November 2011

    Third Sentence Thursday #15 The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

    Hosted by Proud Book Nerd

    The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman
    Paul Erdos was one of those very special geniuses, the kind who comes along only once in a very long  while yet he chose, quite consciously I am sure, to share mathematics with mere mortals- like me.

    Wednesday, 9 November 2011

    WWW Wednesdays #9

    Hosted by Should Be Reading

    • What are you currently reading?

    The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman

    "The Bestselling Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth"
    • What did you recently finish reading?

    Get More Like Jesus While Watching TV by Nick Pollard & Steve Couch (click for my review)
    • What do you think you’ll read next?
    The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble
    "Its members are as different as the books they read. But each woman has secret hopes and fears- for a new lover; a straying husband; an ailing mother; a tearaway teenager- and each woman finds laughter and support in the group's monthly meetings."

    Sunday, 6 November 2011

    Get More Like Jesus While Watching TV by Nck Pollard & Steve Couch (A Review)

    From goodreads:
    Rather than condemn TV as a bad influence or dismiss it as harmless, Get More Like Jesus while Watching TV argues that the way we watch TV matters as much as what we watch. Using illustrations from current and recent television programs, the Damaris team members demonstrate how our TV viewing can actually help us to become more like Jesus and more effective at telling others about him. Using a framework from Romans 12, this book consists of eight chapters which use popular programs to encourage the reader to deepen their relationships with God. There are also four study guides based on programs such as The Office and Friends

    My review:
    Whilst I didn't agree with everything in this book, I did find it thought-provoking. Sometimes obvious and other times inspired, this book's outlook is challenging and yet it is still easy to read. The TV references ocassionally seemed to be plucked from the air, but this didn't stop the point of the message getting across. Worth reading if you are a Christian who loves TV, not least for the bible studies in the back.

    Visit Action Readers
    Action point: Consider the morals set by your favourite programmes- how can you make sure that the right ones affect your life?

    Saturday, 5 November 2011

    Ambasadora- Author interview and giveaway (international)

    You may remember that a few months ago I was read and reviewed 'Ambasadora' by Heidi Ruby Miller.
    Well, Heidi's been kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
    I also have my copy of Ambasadora to give away to one lucky winner (fill in rafflecopter to enter).

    1. What inspired you to write Ambasadora?
    I have always been drawn to the mix of Science Fiction and Romance like I saw in Star Wars, Farscape, and BSG. I wanted to create my own world and characters, and what better time to do that than for my graduate thesis novel?

    2. How do you usually go about creating a character for your stories?
    I think and dream about my characters a lot, creating appearances, backgrounds, personalities, and quirks for them. They become actual people to me—that's why it's so hard to torture them.

    3. Who is your favourite Ambasadora character, and why?
    Right now, it's David because I just finished a novella in the Ambasadora-verse (Greenshift) where we get a glimpse into David and Mari's courtship and the danger that befalls them before Sara ever arrives on the Bard. But I think Sean will always hold the most special place in my heart—he's tortured and sacrifices so much. My kind of guy.

    4. Describe your ideal virtual world.
    There was a world in the V-side that never made it into the final version of Ambasadora. It was originally meant as the ending scene, but I changed my mind on that last rewrite. The setting was like Greek ruins, all alabaster pillars and an amphitheater surrounded by rolling meadows with fluorescent green grass and purple and blue wild flowers. The interesting part was how an av entered this world—dropping as a large flower from silvery clouds in the sky, then when the flower reached the ground, it burst apart leaving the av standing in its place. You'll probably see this world in a future book….

    5. Do you have a favourite author?
    I have lots of favorite authors, but I recently fell in love with Sara Creasy's Scarabaeus series. Edie and Finn were incredible characters that I cared so much about I had to read the second book right after finishing the first—that seldom ever happens to me. Creasy also made the science an integral part of the story in both Song of Scarabaesu and Children of Scarabaeus—something very important for good SF Romance. I hope she has another one planned in the series!

    I Am A Book!- What are you?

    You Are a Book

    You are a very intellectual and logical person. You like to think, and a lot of your thinking is quite deep.

    You are both philosophical and idealistic. You think it's interesting to imagine how the world could be.

    You enjoy spending a good deal of time alone. In fact, you tend to go sort of crazy if you don't get your space.

    While you may seem distant, you care very deeply for humanity. You're trying to figure out how to save the world.

    Friday, 4 November 2011

    The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons (A Review)

    "Have you ever wondered if a sonic screwdriver could really work? How Cybermen make little Cybermen? Or where the toilets are on the Tardis? Doctor Who arrived on TV screens and through millennia, the journeys of the Time Lord have shown us alien worlds, strange life-forms, futuristic technoogy and mind-bending csomic phenomena. Viewers cowered terrified of Daleks, were amazed with the wonders of time travel, and sped through black holes into other universes and new dimensions. The breath and imagination of the Doctor's adventures have made the show one of science fiction's truly monumentalsuccess stories. BBC Focus edito Paul Parsons explains the scientific reality behind the fiction"
    I love Dr Who, and I loved this book as well. It explained the scientific phenomena from across many of the different series (and Drs' adventures) in a understandable and interesting way. It's probably more easily understood if you're famliar with the aliens, planets and technologies of the programme; but those who have only watched one or two episodes will still get something from this book. The text can be approached successfully from either a TV or scientific interest.

    The Eternal Quest by Julian Branston (A Review)

    "In seventeenth-century Valladolid, Spain's new capital, Miguel Cervantes is busy writing his comic masterpiece, Don Quixote. Issued in instalments, it is fast making him the most popular author in the country when a series of blows strikes."
    Full of wit, easy to read and yet retaining a high-brow aire, 'The Eternal Quest' was a book which I enjoyed more and more with each turn of the page. Having never read Don Quixote, I don't know how much of its interest came from the original tale, but it certainly held echoes of a romantic and chivalrous era.

    Monday, 24 October 2011

    Musing Mondays #9

    Hosted by Should Be Reading

    This week’s musing asks…
    Do you listen to audiobooks? Why, or why not?

    This is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. I've never really been a fan of audio books, because I think the voice used to read can affect my view of a book (too much in my opinion). However, recently I've begun to consider using them when I'm travelling. My only problem with that is that I could easily been stranded half way through a story, and I hate to 'read' two books at once. Maybe a physical book and an audio used similtaneously?

    Sunday, 23 October 2011

    End of Event Meme

    Which hour was most daunting for you?
    I didn't really have a daunting hour this time since I had to do other things as well. I guess the hardest hour was the one just before I went to bed. 

    Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
    I'm really hooked on 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston. It has quite a slow start (so its probably a first book), but its getting quite funny now and that really woke me up.

    Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    I'd have liked it if some of the mini-challenges latest a bit longer, so that I could do them even though I'd had to get some shut-eye (some of my favourites were on when I was asleep)

    What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
    I liked the idea of listing books we'd read

    How many books did you read?
    Just one finished this time (and another half way through), but I'm quite pleased with the pace I read at. 

    What were the names of the books you read?
    'Radio Shangri-La' and 'The Eternal Quest'

    Which book did you enjoy most?
    So far probably Radio Shangri-La, but I have a feeling The Eternal Quest is going to get better. 

    Which did you enjoy least?
    See above

    If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
    I wasn't a cheerleader, but I did enjoy visiting other people's blogs independently. I think my advice from this would be that its better to visit a few and make meaningful comments than simply post a few cheers that could be inappropriate. 

    How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
    Definatly. Hopefully I won't have other commitments next time. I'll be a reader, with some unofficial cheering as I was this year. 

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 24

    So this is the end! I wish it could have carried on at least a little bit longer (and that I'd been able to stay up overnight and read more this morning), but it was great fun anyway.
    This post will be my final but one, since I still have to do the end of event meme.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last 4 hours:
    Current reading: Now up to page 127 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activities: Going to church
    Snacks/drinks: Glass of water, cup of tea
    Blogs visited: 3
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 19

    Unfortunatly, due to unexpected commitments this morning, I felt that I had to get a normal nights sleep. So, there's only been a small amount of reading overnight. And, again because of the new commitment, there will only be a little bit more before 1pm. But there will be some reading!

    Here's what's been happening here in the last 10 hours:
    Current reading: Now up to page 104 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activities: Watching TV, sleeping, breakfast, catching up on post reading
    Snacks/drinks: Large glass of mink, Breakfast (2 poached eggs on toast), cup of tea, orange juice
    Blogs visited: 24
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Saturday, 22 October 2011

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 9

    This will be my last post before the morning. Its 10pm here and I'll probably go to bed within the next hour. Hoping to manage a few more posts tomorrow though.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Now up to page 73 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Mini-challenge
    Snacks/drinks: None
    Blogs visited: 4
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Have a good next few hours and I'll see you in the morning

    Book Sentence Challenge

    I really enjoyed doing this one, got my brain awakened once more and my imagination stirred up. It was harder than I thought it would be however.
    Here's my result (with apologies for the photo quality):

     One day just imagine heaven under the Tuscan Sun

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 8

    Still tired, but gave myself an adrenaline rush by doing a Wii Dance Workout.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Now up to page 60 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Wii Dance Workout
    Snacks/drinks: Glass of water
    Blogs visited:6
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 7

    Getting pretty tired now, guess I better get myself moving more in the next hour.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Now up to page 36 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Doing the washing up *yawn*
    Snacks/drinks: None
    Blogs visited: 4
    Blogs posted on: 0 (did I say I was getting tired)

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 6

    I'm not sure I'm all here anymore, but at least finishing my first book has made me keen to carry on reading

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Finished Radio Shangri-La, starting 'The Eternal Quest' by Julian Branston
    Reviews posted: 1
    Break activity in the last hour: Closing all the curtains
    Snacks/drinks: Fizzy water
    Blogs visited: 4
    Blogs posted on: 0 (sorry)

    Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli (A Review)

    A great insight into the kingdom of Bhutan, a place that (like most westerners in the book) I knew little of. Lisa Napoli writes about people and situations in a way which really allows you to imagine them for yourself. I finished this book understanding more about what it means to be happy in various places and how this perception is changing in Bhutan. More importantly, I left the text wishing that I could find it for myself.

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 5

    A slow reading hour, as I spent much of it cooking and then eating my dinner

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Up to p236 in Radio Shangri-La
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Cooking and eating dinner
    Snacks/drinks: Venison, cauliflower and a slice of bread to mop up the gravy, followed by a small cheese and watercress muffin
    Blogs visited: 6
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 4

    I'm beginning to flag a little as the light levels go down, wondering whether or not to shut out the fresh air or let the coldness help keep me awake for a while longer. Whatever I decide, I'm determined that it won't stop me reading during the next hour.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Up to p233 in Radio Shangri-La
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Starting to cook dinner (put on the brocolli)
    Snacks/drinks: None
    Blogs visited: 6
    Blogs posted on: 0 (ooops)

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 3

    It's 4pm here now and about the sort of time I start to think about what I'm going to cook for dinner. I have some venison I bought from the farmer's market yesterday as a special treat, but have yet to work out how I'm going to cook it. I also have to decide whether to have kale or cauliflower (a strange-looking green type from a local farm shop) with it. Oh well, hope this musing doesn't get in the way of my reading during the next hour.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Up to p203 in Radio Shangri-La
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Lots of little bits and bobs
    Snacks/drinks: None
    Blogs visited: 4
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 2

    Another hour gone really quickly and some sad news as well: I'd been hoping to stay up overnight, but have just got news of an unexpected commitment I have to make tomorrow morning. That means that I'll only be able to read up to a late night and then a very tiny bit tomorrow morning after getting up usual time, else I'll be too tired. Oh well, maybe I won't beat last year's reading total, but I'll still power on as much as I can.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Up to p167 in Radio Shangri-La
    Reviews posted: 0

    Break activity in the last hour: Practising my tenor horn
    Snacks/drinks: A glass of water

    Blogs visited: 4
    Blogs posted on: 2

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- End of Hour 1

    Has it really been an hour already?! Time's going so fast so far, I hope my reading can keep up.

    Here's what's been happening here in the last hour:
    Current reading: Up to p145 in Radio Shangri-La
    Reviews posted: 0
    Break activity in the last hour: Making homemade soap
    Snacks/drinks: None
    Blogs visited: 3
    Blogs posted on: 1

    Dewey's 24 hour readathon- A Bit About Me

    Welcome to my little corner of Dewey's 24-hour readathon. I'm hoping  to be with yourr for most of the 24 hours, although I'm bound to take a nap now and again. I'd love it if you'd say hi and, if you're participating as well, please leave a link to your latest post annd I'll do my best to drop by.

    Now, time for the first meme, on the theme of introducing ourselves:

    1)Where are you reading from today?

    I'm currently reading 'Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli. I'm about half way through at the moment.

    2)Three random facts about me…

    1. I'm going to be selling at my first ever craft stall next Saturday
    2. I have a young pigeon in my garden at the moment that keeps bumping into things
    3. My favourite author is Jasper Fforde
    3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

    I don't really have a specific TBR pile for this readathon, so I'll be working my way through as  many books as possible in my huge TBR pile (about 3 bookcases worth)

    4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

    Just to read for as long as I can and as many books as I can.

    5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
    I'm not a veteran yet, but I did take part last time. I found that it was important to take a little bit of time out of reading ever hour, whether it was to talk to otherr participants, have a meal/snack, do some chores or simply have a short nap. 

    Good luck everyone.
    Let the reading begin!

    Friday, 21 October 2011

    Book Beginnings- 21st October 2011

    Hosted by A Few More Pages

    Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
    The approach to the most sacred monastery in the Kingdom of Bhutan is steep and winding and, especially as you near the top, treacherous. You are sure with one false step you'll plummet off the edge. 

    Friday 56 #14 Radio Shangri-La

    Hosted by Freda's Voice

    Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
    "Oh, that wouldn't be enough for us," she said.

    Weekend Report #1- 21st October 2011

    Woo hoo, it's so exciting to have found a meme that I feel I can join in with right at the beginning of its creation!

    Hosted by Christian Bookshelf Reviews

    The rules to participate are simple:

    1. Create a post about what you've accomplished the previous week (i.e. books read, reviews posted, awards received, current giveaways, etc.)

    2. Add the URL to your post to the linky on Christian Bookshelf Reviews

    This week I have:

    My blog stats:
    • 104 people visited my blog
    • The book people were most interested in was 'Bedknob and Broomstick'
    • Most visitors were logging in from the US

    Help Me Decide What to Read for Dewey's Readathon

    Quick, quick! Time is running out before th Dewey Readathon and I still don't know what I want to read!
    This will be my second time and I'm so looking forward to it, but I just can't choose whether I should read one of the 2 series I'm collecting (Discworld and Christian Jacq books) or whether I should carry on going through my TBR pile as usual. Part of me would like to make it special, but then part of me wants to get through the backlog of books that I haven't touched yet.

    So, I wondered whether you- my readers- could  help (yes I realise its a lazy approach, but hopefully it will work). If you'd like to help me out then please fill in the poll below. To say thankyou if you leave your e-mail address then I'll enter you into a giveaway to win one of the winning books.
    Poll will end 1pm tomorrow (Saturday) UK time, when the readathon starts.

    Thanks in advance.

    Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (A Review)

    This book tells a delightfully light and enticing story. I felt part of its world, wrapped up in the goings on. The evolving view of life through a painter's eyes was particularly wonderful. I definatly recommend this book to others- go on, give it a go!

    Monday, 17 October 2011

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (A Review)

    To be honest I'm still not sure what to make of this book. I read it fast and yet still remember it, which is surely a good sign. I found it hard to put down and definatly was intrigued enough to read more. And yet, I'm not sure I can actually say that I enjoyed it. I think the reason for this is probably just how different it is from what I'm used to. Details that would usually make a book adult in content were presented matter-of-factly, as were the parts dealing with souls.  I felt as if I was given a small glimpse into a different view of the world which I was never truly helped to understand. Maybe if I read more Japanese books in the future then this one will get easier to understand?!

    Friday, 14 October 2011

    Book Beginnings- 14th October 2011

    Hosted by A Few More Pages

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
    "So you're all set for money, then?" the boy named Crow asks in his characteristic sluggish voice. The kind of voice you have when you've just woken up and your mouth still feels heavy and dull. 

    Friday 56 #13 Kafka on the Shore

    Hosted by Freda's Voice

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
     Come to think of it, I haven't had any dreams in a long time.

    Wednesday, 12 October 2011

    The Alchemist (A Review)

    Reading this book is like going on a spiritual journey. It makes you reconsider the world and  how you should live within it. It makes you take another look at the approach you take to travel through your life. Alongside this philosophical discovery runs a simple yet mesmerising plot about a young shepherd boy undertaking his own journey. Delightful and magical, a true pleasure to read.

    From the back:
    This is the story of Santiago, an Andulsian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of a treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the exotic markets of Tangiers and then intgo the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemust awaits him.

    Rabbit Stew and A Penny or Two by Maggie Smith-Bendell (A Review)

    I really felt as if I was getting an insight into what it meant (and still means) to be a Romani by reading this book. Maggie's approach feels very much like someone talking to you about their life history, with the ocassional repetitions and asides that this is bound to bring. It speaks of a life full of joy and freedom as well as the hardships. It tells of prejudices and acceptance, as well as the attempt to keep a sense of identity amidst a changing world. This book will help you to see Romanis and travellers in general in a new and more sympathetic light- I throughly recommend it to all.

    From the back cover:
    Born in a Somerset pea-field in 1941, the second of eight children in a Romani family, Maggie Smith-Bendell has lived throughb the years of greatest change in the travelling community's long history. As a child, Maggie rode and slept in a horse-drawn wagon, picked hops and flowers, and sat beside her father's campfire on ancient verges, poor but free to roam. As the twentieth century progressed, common land was fenced off and traditional Gypsy ways disappeared. Eventually Maggie married a house-dweller and tried to settle for bricks and mortar, but she never lost the restless spirit, the deep love of the land and the gift of storytelling that were her Romani inheritance.

    Wonderful Wednesdays

    Hosted by Tiny Library

    Wonderful Wednesdays is a meme about spotlighting and recommending some of our most loved books, even if we haven't read them recently.  Each week will have a different genre or theme.

    This weeks theme is historical fiction.

    This one was an easy one for me because I definatly have a favourite historical fiction author. His name is Christian Jacq and, although I haven't had a chance to read any for a while, I've been collecting his books for a few years now.

    What I like about Christian Jacq's writing is that the people and context feels real. Its different from our own society, but not so different that we can't understand it. And where things do differ he often explains them through a person's feelings, thereby making them easier to understand. Plus, because he's an egyptologist, you feel thathe knows what he is writing about- these books come across as historically accurate (something that I feel is important).

    Ancient Egypt is also a time period that really intrigues me. I find it interesting the way life seems to have revolved around the gods- yet there were many variations of belief living side by side. I also like discovering the complex roles between men and women, egyptians and non-egyptians.

    I don't really havee any favourite Christian Jacq books (I've yet to find one I don't like). If you're interested then I recommend you start with one set in the reign of someone you know I little about- The Rameses series is probably the most likely candidate I'd have thought.

    I'd love to hear what your favourite hisorical fiction is- especially if its Ancient History. Do leave a comment and, you never know, you might see yuor suggestion reviewed here in the future.

    WWW Wednesdays #8

    Hosted by Should Be Reading

    • What are you currently reading?

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

    Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophecy. The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his simple life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converrse with people; fish tumble out of the sky; a forest harbours soldiers aparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identit of both victim and killer is a riddle.
    • What did you recently finish reading?

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (review coming soon)

    This is the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of a treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the exotic markets of Tangiers and then into the Egyptian desert, where afateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him.
    • What do you think you’ll read next?
    The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

    Wednesday, 5 October 2011

    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (A short review)

    From the blurb:
    Fat Charlie Nancy's normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn't know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother.

    An imaginative and entertaining read. I loved the way Neil Gaiman wove traditional tales into this story. A light, but very good, read.

    Tuesday, 4 October 2011

    Winner of the 100 Follower's Giveaway!

    Wow, there were 67 entries for this giveaway!
    Thanks guys, you're support means a lot!

    And congratulations to the winner:
    #45 Diana
    An e-mail is winging its way to you as I write. I look forward to receiving your details so that I can send your surprise goodie bag to you.

    Look out for more giveaways soon, and do let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements.

    Crossing a Book Flashmob in Nottingham