Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: February 2011

Monday, 28 February 2011

Musing Mondays #3

Hosted by Should Be Reading

Which do you prefer: Adult -or- Young Adult books? Or, both? Why?
The short answer is that I love both! I'm a big fan of the fantasy genre and these are often told very well in YA books, but they can be told just as well in adult books as well. I like a story that can be taken on all levels, that creates a complete world. I also like books that tackle real world issues. I am not a fan of the sort of teen fiction that tells of how young adults meet their first love or cope with going through high school. I am not a fan of the sort of adult fiction that tells of marriages failing or being redeemed. I want something more than this, something a bit different. To tell the truth, I don't take muh notice of whether it says young adult or adult on the label- this just isn't as important to me as the plot itself.

Meet Me On Monday #5

Hosted by Never Growing Old

1.  What are you wearing right now?

Black trousers and a horizontally stripped blue, green, white and black craghopper jumper.

2.  Do you have any freckles?


3.  What is your favorite Lifesaver flavor?

Never tried any of them.. In fact, I don't think I even know what flavours exist

4.  What is the last movie you saw in the theater?

The King's Speech. It definatly deserved all the oscars its just got!

5.  Would you rather live without tv or without music?
Now that's a hard one. I'm quite a TV addict so I'd definatly miss that. On the other hand music is a integral part of my everyday life. If I could still make my own music then I'd rather have no music, but if all music was no-existant then I guess I'd have to live without TV. 

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Faithful Friends

Hosted by Should Be Reading

Do you attend church? Why, or why not?

Yes,  I attend church most Sunday mornings. I go to church mostly for the community. Its lovely to meet friends and worship God together. It can also be good to hear what the minister or preacher has to say-, especially if it makes you think about a bible passage in a new way. 
There are some people who believe you have to go to church every Sunday. I don't believe that, but I do find it a useful time for me. When church becomes a ritual then it has no meaning any more (after all, you can meet God anywhere).  If I don't feel it the right mood for church some weeks I'll stay at home and do my own private bible study, or simply just pray and then get on with my day. There are very few weeks where I end going when I'm not feeling prayerful of worshipful (these are times when I'm on some sort of duty). And sometimes meeting friends, singing a song or the message of a sermon can be realy useful.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Book Beginnings- 25th February 2011

Hosted by A Few More Pages

The Olive Farm by Carol Driinkwater
The girls star in dusty dismay. 'Is this the wonderful surprise, Papa?' asks Vanessa.

Friday Finds

Hosted by Should Be Reading

As always,  discovered far too many books that I'd like to read. Most of these were found using my trusty google  reader so thankyou to the other bloggers who recommended them.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history-the Salem witch trials.
Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.
As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.
Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

The Limit by Kristen Landon
An eighth grade girl was taken today . . .
With this first sentence, readers are immediately thrust into a fast-paced thriller that doesn't let up for a moment. In a world not too far removed from our own, kids are being taken away to special workhouses if their families exceed the monthly debt limit imposed by the government. Thirteen-year-old Matt briefly wonders if he might be next, but quickly dismisses the thought. After all, his parents are financially responsible, unlike the parents of those other kids. As long as his parents remain within their limit, the government will be satisfied and leave them alone. But all it takes is one fatal visit to the store to push Matt’s family over their limit—and to change his reality forever.

Paper Towns by John Greene
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge— he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues— and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew. 

Book Blogger Hop #5

Hosted by Crazy For Books

Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?
Before I answer this question suppose I ought to explain to my readers where my blogs name comes from. 'QNN Story Factory' (otherwise known as 'The Story Factory') is another site whch I run, dedicated to story writing- the QNN stands for Queen News Nework as in the band. When I started this blog I was intending to cross-post some of the stories I put on that site and so a similar name seemed sensible.
Now to answer the question:
Yes, sometimes I do. The sort of writing I do has changed! I no longer want to write any sort of fanfiction and the site name links me with my past writing. Its not that I'm ashamed with what I wrote before, its just that its totally different to what I want to write now. But then I sit back and realise that I quite like the name in its own right and it describes quite well what this blog is about- and so I keep it.

The Friday 56

Hosted by Freda's Voice

The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
 At  first, I am ready to blame poor Pamela for having slunk into the kitchen in the dead of night in search of food and piddled there, and then the horror dawns on me.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Another thankyou

This time to LittleSuz of bookcrossing for sending me not only 'Afghanistan, Where Only God Comes To Weep' by Siba Shakib, but also some chocolate orange segments and an interesting postcard from Holland.

Theme Thursdays

Hosted by Reading Between Pages

This week's theme is Touch

The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
Michel nods and embraces both daughters, an arm wrapped around each.

Third Sentence Thursday #3

Hosted by Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
Michel nods.
This has to be one of the shortest third sentencs ever! Can you guess what the book's about from this one?!  All I get from it is that there's someone calledd Michel and at least one other person mentioned.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

WWW Wednesdays #3

Hosted by Should Be Reading

What are you currently reading?
The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater

What did you recently finish reading?
Geisha by Liza Dalby (link to review)

What do you think you'll read next?
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde- after last night's author talk (see previous post) I'm back into Jasper Fforde reading mode, so I'm putting back Willing Hands until after this one.
Hundreds of years in the future, the world is an alarmingly different place. Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour. Eddie Russet is an above average Red who dreams of  moving  up the ladder. Util he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane- a lowly grey with uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed. For Eddie it's love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey...

Found: Jasper Fforde

Last night I had the great pleasure of listening to Jasper Fforde talk about his latest book- 'One of Our Thursdays Is Missing'. In fact, he talked about a great many things and engaged in question and answer session as well. Jasper Fforde is a pleasure both to listen to and to read books from. He produces a laugh a minute and generally comes across as a really nice bloke. His talks are unprepared and so comments can take their inspiration from anywhere- including the drilling outside which permeated the otherwise quiet church in which this talk was held.
One of the thing that spoke to me most about Jasper's talk was his style of writing. He said that he doesn't plan what he's writing- instead he sets himself a challenge and writes his way out of it. For instance, one of his early short stories was about someone who turned into a banana (I think I've remembered the correct object- it was just as weird if not). Then, when he's finished writing, he goes through and becomes his own critic. This can result in a large portion of the book being rewritten, up to half of it being thrown out and approximately four times as much material in his home than in the published books (some of these 'outtakes' can be viewed on his website). Only then does he consider the book good enough to be sent for reading prior to publishing.
Right, by now (if you haven't heard of Jasper Fforde) your probably wondering what his books are about. Well, I'm going to take Jasper's advice and simply tell you that you have to read them and then you'll understand why people love them so much.

Postal RABCK

Its always lovely to get  a book through the post and today that loveliness happened to me. I received 'Running with Scissors' as a RABCK (random act of bookcrossing kindness). Thanks ever so much to the generous bookcrosser who sent this to me.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Geisha by Liza Dalby (A Review)

I started this book hoping for a first-hand account of life in Japan (and the geisha world) through a western perspective. What I got was slightly different. Firstly, there was less of a biographical approach than a factual textbook approach, each section dealing with a different aspect of geisha life. Liza Dalby rarely wrote of her opinions on what was happening, commenting more on how others perceived her. There were also accounts of several different visits intermingled in such a way that it was sometimes hard to tell which one she was talking about. Despite these differences from what I was expecting, I did find this book fascinating. The details of an alternative way of living intrigued me (as my family can testify from my regular comments to them) and I certainly learnt a lot.

Saint Valentine retold by Robert Sabuda (A Review)

The first thing that struck me when this book arrived through the post were the amazing pictures. They were in a sophisticated style, taking the form of large mosaic pieces, and yet still simple enough for a child to understand. The story was simple and charming, although it finished quite abruptly and I found myself wanting it to continue. A came out of reading it was a greater understanding of the saintly origins of Valentine's Day.

Teaser Tuesday #5

Hosted by Should Be Reading

The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
Yes, I am impetuous, and I probably lack common sense. I hadn't been aware that I was particularly secretive and I certainly have not troubled to investigate the pitfalls of the French system.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Thankyou to MissCyn

Who sent me some lovely bookcrossing labels, as well as address labels with the picture from my banner on them. It was a lovely surprise to get through the post!

It's Monday: What Are You Reading #5

I can't believe its my fifth time doing this already!

This meme is hosted by Book Journey

Last week
St Valentine (review later today)
Geisha by Liza Dalby (review later today)

Currently reading
The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater

Up next (probably)
Willing Hands by Sybil Phoenix
Born in Guyana and taught to idealise England, she was shocked on arriving here in 1956 to discover the problems facing black immigrants. Often patronised by white Christians and misunderstood by black friends. she pursued a courageous witness to multi-racial harmony in Church and society. Awarded the MBE for her counselling of young people and establishing youth centres, she also played a leading part helping the bereaved during and after the calamitous fire in Deptford in 1981.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A bookbuying bookcrosser's Cambridge Adventure

I guess at least of few of my readers will have noticed my lack of posts over the last 3 or so days. No, I have not disappeared off the face of the earth. Nor was I buried under my ever-increasing pile of TBR books. In fact, I was taking a computer free break in Cambridge and discovering the potential it had for making my TBR pile even greater.

Wandering into charity shops, I was impressed by how much space was generaly taking up with books. And, what was this, a charity shop asking for more books (around here they are more likely to say they have enough already if  you try to donate). The prices were a little steeper than I'm used to, but it was worth it for the quality of reading material offered. By the end of the long weekend I had bought 14 new books- the average price being approximately half the retail once I'd taken into account the ones that I'd got new as well.
  • The World is Not For Sale by Jose Bove and Francois Dufour
  • The Shape of Things To Come by H.G. Wells
  • The Aedyn Chronicles: Chosen Ones by Alister McGrath
  • The Lost Chords by Reginald Frary
  • I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  • The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson
  • Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
  • Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto
  • Don't Tell Mum by Simon Hoggart & Emily Monk
  • What A Performance by Reginald Frary
  • Hearts To Heavens and Tempers Raise by Reginald Frary
  • The Real Middle Earth by Brian Bates
  • 36 Arguments for The Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
  • Warriors of Camlann by N.M. Browne

I also discovered the joys of book fairs. Despite my love of books I'd never actually ventured into one of these before. Nothing in my price bracket, but a wonderful experience for only a pound!

Finally, I got the chance to pop into an OBCZ (official bookcrossing zone). Not that much on the shelves, and only half of them registered on bookcrossing, but I managed to find one book to read and took away 7 more to register. If you're registered on bookcrossing and live in the UK, feel free to request these (or any others on my available list):
  • Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
  • Biggles and the Secret Mission by Captain W.E. Johns
  • Biggles in the Orient by Captain W.E. Johns
  • Biggles and the Little Green God by Captain W.E. Johns
  • Biggles Defies the Swastika by Captain W.E. Johns
  • Star of the Sea by Jospeh O'Connor
  • The End of the Pier Show by Jeremy Carrad
  • Foul Play by June Thomson

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

WoW Weekly 100 words #2

Hosted by Ruthi Reads

Geisha by Liza Dalby
All the houses located on the east side of Pontocho have wooden platforms in back, extending out over the wide river bank. These square verandas are strung with paper lanterns in warm weather for geisha entertainments. Summer has traditionally been thought the best season to appreciate Pontocho. Bright lanterns swing gently in the breeze off the river, and at dusk the Eastern Mountains look like an ink wash painting in which each receding mountain pales to a lighter shade of gray. Every Pontocho teahouse has invested in air conditioning, which does a more thorough job of cooling than a river.....

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Another win!

Must be my lucky day. I've just won yet another RABCK on BookCrossing! Almost missed it because the PM went into my spam box, but luckily I spotted others saying they were having problems and checked.

I have won Running with Scissors

Anyone read this? What did you think?

Teaser Tuesday #4

Hosted by Should Be Reading

Geisha by Liza Dalby
There was no doubt about it, the plump-cheeked one looking slightly bewildered was Ichuime. The next time we met, I asked her what she thought of that banquet, and of President Ford

Flying the bookcrossing way

I've just had some lovely news- I've won some lovely wings from MissCyn's BookCrossing 6th anniversary competition. Looking foward to flying just a little further with these. Thanks very much.

P.S. If you've no idea what I've talking about check on the wings section on BookCrossing.com ;)

Monday, 14 February 2011

It's Monday: What Are You Reading #4

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

What I read this week
The Small Woman By Alan Burgess
Eden Close by Anita Shreeve

Currently reading
Geisha by Liza Dalby

Up next

Saint Valentine retold by Robert Sabuda
How did Valentine's Day, one of our most popular holidays, begin? It started in ancient Rome when a kind physician named Valentine took an interest in a young blind girl. With his healing skill and his deep faith he restored her sight. What we now call Valentine's Day began when he sent the little girl a secret message, which she received after the Christian martyr was executed. For this tale rich in sentiment, master illustrator Robert Sabuda has created exquisitive paper mosaics to suggest early Christian art that resonates with both subtlety and power.
 The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
The Olive Farm is a double love story. It is a lyrical tale of the real-life romance between actress Carol Drinkwater and Michel, a television producer, and of an aandoned Provencal olive farm- Appassionata- which they fall in love and buy

Meet Me On Monday #4

Hosted by Never Growing Old

1.  Did you get any Valentine's Gifts?

Only from another booklover- a copy of the story of St Valentine with a little note.

2.  What is your favorite topping on something toasted?

Depends whether you mean on toast or as a toastie. My favourite thing on toast is spaghetti hoops. My favourite toastie is tuna and blue cheese (yes, I know that's rather unusual)

3.  Do you pick out your outfit the night before?

Depends on what time I have to go out and if I'm going anywhere special or not.

4.  What food item do you absolutely despise?

Baked beans

5.  Righty or lefty?
 I'm right handed

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Eden Close by Anita Shreve (A Review)

Emotionally charged, this book really got me caught up in its events. Starting gently, the tension increased as the story went on. There were things that I guessed had happened before the book was set and it was fascinating reading about the main character discovering them for himself. Contains sexual scenes.

I read this book as part of a bookcrossing spiral!

A freshening day with the bible

Some of you may have noticed that my posts yesterday were rather later in the day than they usually are. The reason for this is that I wasoff in High Wycombe finding out more about biblefresh.

What is biblefresh?
Biblefresh is an initiative se up to celebrate, tell others about and talk advantage of the 400th anniversary of King James Bible. This bible was special because it meant that God's word could be read in a language that people understood. Today, however, few people relate to the translation used in the King James and this is where Biblefresh comes in. It aims to share the bible in range of ways and using a range of languages.

What was I up to yesterday?
I was attending workshops and sessions along with other people in the diocese (a quite large unit of churches- in our case basically all Methodist churches from Southhampton up to Leicester). I attended 2 sessions- on using secular media to talk about the bible and another on prayerfully imagining biblical stories- as well as writing part of a handwritten bible and attending short services with signing, bible readings, talks and prayer.

What did I learn/experience?
I'd like to use the 4 biblefresh pledge aims sent out to churches to help be write about this
  1. Read the bible together as a church 
People often think of the church as a building or a group of people who meet in the building. The truth is that the church is all people who believe. And whilst, in this case, the aim seems to be related to the more common definition, I'd like to talk about it on the bigger level. During the day I heard the bible read from the pulpit as in a normal service. I heard the whole bible in the form of the 2-minute bible, a summary of the bible only 2 minutes in length and with comedic elements. I also heard a bible story in a smaller group, which I then read individually amongst others.

     2. Invest in training the whole church to understand and apply the bible

This whole day was part of that training. I listened to others viewpoints on what the bible meant, but I also used meditation to explore what I thought a biblicl story could mean to me. I discussed with others what the bible meant to non-Christians and how it related to media such as the Simpsons.

     3. Raise money to translate the bible for Burkino Faso

In the opening service we listened to a bible passage read in French. Whilst I understood most of the text because I was familiar with it and have knowledge of basic french, I could not understand it all. We were reminded that this is what the bible was like for most people before the King James Bible was written and what it is like for those who still do not have the bible in their own language today. We then listened to the same piece from TheKing James Bible. It was familiar to me, but I didn't know th precise meaning of some of the more traditional words. We were reminded that this is what the bible is like for man new Christians or non-believers today.
I read a posters which explained that in one language (I forget what one) there are over 20 different words for the english 'to carry'. This makes translating the bible a very difficult task, what would should be used in what context? And yet it is so important that it is done accurately. In another country 'Jesus loves us' would mean nothing, instead they say 'Jesus holds me in his liver'. Translate it as the english phrase 'Jesus holds me in his heart' and it would mean nothing or maybe even something completely different.

     4. Help people experience the bible in new and creative ways

I know most of your reading this blog are readers- but beilieve it or not all people are not like us! Some people do not enjoy reading or being read to! So why do many churches share their biblical text by reading?! And when they use other methods does it always reach the right people?
The two sessions I attended answered these questions in very differet ways. The mornig session talked about how varied our culture is and how the bible has to reach oput to a whole range of genres. We then used the Simpsons to research this further. Have you ever watched the Simpsons and thought about what it teaches people about God?- its quite an interesting experience!
The afternoon session was about personal exploration of the bible. We took time to imagine ourselves into the bible story and consider how we were affected by what happened- what did it feel like to be there? This was extremly relaxing and made me consider parts of the story in new ways.

This is supposed to be a reading blog, what does this have to do with books?
The King James bible was a book and its celebrating its 400th birthday! The bible is many books joined together as one and something that Christians should be shouting about!
Of course, me being me, I also bought a book which I'm sure I will share a review of with you in the near future- its title is 'In Search of the Source' by Neil Anderson. Here's what it says on the back:

In the eerie light of flickering torches, the wild hunting party was bringing down giant fruit bats with blow darts and killing them with their bare hands. The cave was full of yelling, splashing  men, screaming bats, and deadly darts.
Because I love books I'll also be sharing with you (my readers), bookcrossers and random members of the public a range of Christian books this year. Look out for reviews and bookcrossing releases. Also, if you would like to review a Christian book (or tell us about what the bible means to you) please let me know and I'll post it as part of my biblical reading challenge (which you're all free to join of course).

Saturday, 12 February 2011

On My Wishlist #4

Hosted by Book Chick City

As usual, plenty more books added to my wishlist this past week. Here's some of them:

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there - cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father's rages and her mother's benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally. Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass, and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents' failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence...Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us - from child to adult, from wounded to indomitable.

The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
This is an unflinching novel about the impossible choices of growing up, by an award-winning writer.Imagine you're the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don't fit in with their plans...Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run...

The Immorta Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells - taken without her knowledge - became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences ...Balancing the beauty and drama of scientific discovery with dark questions about who owns the stuff our bodies are made of, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is an extraordinary journey in search of the soul and story of a real woman, whose cells live on today in all four corners of the world. "A fascinating, harrowing, necessary book". (Hilary Mantel, "Guardian"). "A heartbreaking account of racism and injustice". ("Metro"). "A fine book...a gripping read...The book has deservedly been a huge bestseller in the US. It should be here, too". ("Sunday Times").

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family vowed that, for one year, they'd only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat. Barbara Kingsolver's twelve books of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction include the novels The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible. Translated into nineteen languages, her work has won a devoted worldwide readership and many awards, including the National Humanities Medal. Steven L. Hopp teaches environmental studies at Emory and Henry College and conducts research in bioacoustics and the natural history of vireos. Camille Kingsolver attends Duke University, where she studies biology, anatomy, and dance, and teaches yoga.

Solid by Shelley Workinger
Teens who discover they were secretly genetically altered before birth are brought together at a classified site where they develop "super-abilities", while at the same time forging new friendships, finding love and unearthing a conspiracy.

A Bit of Me #2

Hosted by There's a Book

This Weeks Question: What is the single best trip you’ve ever taken?

I was lucky enough to go to Australia with my family quite a few years ago. Although the journey was a nightmare, I really enjoyed the holiday itself. We went snorkelling just off the great barrier reef, had our photos taken with a koala, visited an aboriginal 'experience', stayed in a lovely flat in Sydney and met up with friends amongst other things. But I think the most unforgettable moment has to be waking up one morning, whilst staying next door to a farm, to find a cow looking in my window. I'd love to go back to Australia some day.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Book Blogger Hop #4

Hosted by Crazy for Books

"Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!"

I was incredibly lucky to be pointed in the direction of a Christian bookshop whilst I was visiting Leamigton Spa earler in the week. There I found 2 Christian books which to buy. Click here for more about them

Book Beginnings- 11th February 2011

Hosted by A Few More Pages

Eden Close By Anita Shreve
The air lay heavy as water in the square dark rooms of the farmhouse. The house was still, sounds indistinct and muffled, as if heard through cloth.

The Friday 56 #2

Hosted by Freda's Voice

Eden Close by Anita Shreve
It sits in the drive lookng as out of place as a woman in a mink at a garage sale.

Latest BookCrossing arrival- Saint Valentine

cordelia-anne was nice enough to send me this book (retold and illustrated by Robert Sabuda).
Here's what I wrote in my bookcrossing journal entry:
Thanks for sending this my way. I flicked through it on arrival and the illustrations are beautiful. It looks like a lovely short book. I'm planning to read it on Valentine's Day and will then either keep it for using with any children I work with or pass it onto someone who will use and enjoy it.  

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Third Sentence Thursday #2

Hosted by Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

Eden Close by Anita Shreve
Upstairs, in the boy's room, the clock over the desk ticked away the minutes just past midnight.
I think this sentence really sets the feel of the book. It makes you wonder what the significance of the room and the time is. Also, who is the boy?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

WWW Wednesdays #2

Hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

I'm currently reading: Eden Close by Anita Shreve

I recently finished reading: The Small Woman by Alan Burgess (click here for my review)

I think that next I will read: Geisha by Liza Dalby:
Liza Dalby, author of The Tale of Murasaki, is the only non-Japanese woman ever to have become a geisha. This is her unique insight into the extraordinary, closed world of the geisha, a world of grace, beauty and tradition that has long fascinated and enthralled the west. Taking us to the heart of a way of life normally hidden from public gaze, Liza Dalby shows us the detailed reality that lies behind the bestselling Memoirs of a Geisha and opens our eyes to an ancient profession that continues to survive in today's modern Japan.

2 new (Christian) books

Went on a visit to Lemington Spa today and, of course, I found my way to the Christian bookshop there. Browsing down the half shelf of fiction, I was pleased to see that the selection covered a wide range of styles. I choose two books for myself to take home and add to my TBR pile:

Phantasies by George MacDonald
I've been hearing a lot about fairie books recently on other blogs and had begun to wonder what they were like. So, when I saw this classic, I felt it was something I had to try (especially since it came with a recommendation for C.S. Lewis himself).
What do you do if you wake up one morning and find that your bedroom has become a gateway into the mystical world of Faerie? For Anodos the answer is simple- you embrace the adventure! But his journey through this fantastical realm brings more wonders and dangers, friends and enemies than he could ever have expected. And the greatest enemy of them all is his own, ever-present shadow.

Oriel's Diary by Robert Harrison
I've always been interested in bible stories from the point of view of angels and this one appeared quite well written from a quick glance inside.
The personal diary of Archangel Oriel, colleague of Gabriel and Michael, records the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Closely basesd on Luke's Gospel, Orie's Diary presents an entirely original view of a familiar story.

 I'm looking forward to reading both of these during the year as part of my (personal) biblical challenge to celebrate the anniversary of the King James Bible.

The Small Woman by Alan Burgess (A Review)

An inspiring true story about a missionary who self-paid her way to China and lived there during the troubles of the 2nd World War and the Japenese invasion. I found Gladys' story absolutely amazing and a great testimony to her faith. This story contains suspense, drama, adventure and interesting cultural information. Definatly worth a read!

This book belongs to my mother and I shall be handing it back to her now I've finished with it.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Teaser Tuesday #3

Hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
He leafed through it carefully. As she watched him, Gladys had a feeling that he had done this many times before.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Musing Mondays #2

Hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

How do you react to the “book police”? (people who judge what you are reading, and try to make you feel guilty) Do you respond to their judgements? Or, do you keep quiet? Do you let what they say influence your reading, or do you do your own thing, regardless?

I'm lucky enough to have not really been put in this position yet. However, I used to face some criticism for watching Babylon 5 and similar science fiction programmes when I was younger. This caused me to hide what I was watching. I still watched it, I just didn't let on at all at my church. I hope that if a similar thing happened to me now with my reading I'd have the strength to continue posting on my blog and ignore the comments. Responding to their judgements would probably just make them feel that they were having an effect and then they would continue on doing the same thing to others. I'd hope that I'd be able to either keep quiet or just gently tell them 'thanks for your comment, but I think I'll carry on reading what I like'.

It's Monday: What Are You Reading #3

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

Read this week (link to review)

A Great Big Read
This was the only read this week because it was a long book!

Currently Reading

The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
The amazing, true story of Gladys Alward, the parlourmaid who overcame all obstacles to become a missonary in China where, with great faith and indominatable courage, she worked for twenty years.

Up next

Eden Close by Anita Shreve
When Andrew returns to his hometown in upstate New York for his mother's funeral, he does not intend to stay. But the dreams and memories of seventeen years ago persist, and in the darkened farmhouse he relives that hot, bloody night when Eden Close was blinded- by the same gun that killed her father
This book is part of a bookcrossing spiral!

Meet Me On Monday #3

Hosted by Never Growing Old

1.  Did you watch the Superbowl?

Nope. I live in the UK, so there isn't really much interest around here. I'm nnot into sports anyway, so I suspect that I'd be one of the people avoiding it if I was in the US (like I do with the World Cup here).

2.  What is the last book that you read?

The last book that I finished was called 'A Great Big Read'. It was more a compilation of books than an actual book in itself. I've written a review aboout it if you're interested in knowing more.

3.  What is your favorite kind of cake?

Chocolate cake- although I'm on a diet at the moment so I'm only allowed the virtual kind.

4.  Do you snore?

Not that I know of

5.  Do you play an instrument?
Yes, I play the Eb Tenor Horn, as well as basic  keyboard and guitar.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sunday Story Starters- The Small Woman

This is the post where I test out my writing skills by typing a short story (off the top of my head) based on the first sentence from the book I'm currently reading. This week's book is 'The Small Woman' by Alan Burgess. The first sentence is from this book, the rest is from my own imagination:

The whole affair of the small woman both intrigued and concerned the senior physician.
He had never seen anyone so small in his life! Standing at only 4 inches tall, the woman was more miniscule than some of the instruments with which he was trying the examine her. She had been brought to him only hours earlier, suffering from bruising, bites and unconscious- the result of a local cat judging by the shape of the marks. Where she had come from nobody knew and she wasn't in a fit state to tell them, even if her vocal chords were large enough to make a sound (which the physician doubted). Unable to make clear headway with his oversized tools, the physician dabbed at her wounds with a cotton bud and then left her to rest.
He was summoned back by a distant and high-pitched scream coming from somewhere in the distance. Rushing towards the open door (and past his unusual patient) he soon realised that the noise was really closer at home. Standing on the edge of the bed was the small woman, peering over the edge as if deciding whether it was better to jump than face the medical staff who towered above her.
Before she could commit suicide in this way, the physician made her choice for her. He picked her up and held her at eye-level. Whispering, for fear of hurting her delicate eye-drums, he said "Don't be afraid, we won't hurt you. I'm Dr Hart, what's your name?"
She glanced at him and then back towards the floor. Finally she spoke, her voice hardly audible to the physician. "May" she said, "my name is May"
"And where do you come from May?" he asked.
She pointed vaguely in the distance, through the open door.
Soon an expidition was mounted to find May's homeland. Dr Hart would have rather it was just his team, but the police and a whole variety of scientists from other disciplines soon became involved as well. They set off, Dr Hart in the lead with the tiny May perched in the rim of his hat.
Had Dr Hart been able to see his passenger he would have been fascinated by the amazement with which she admired the countriside. She regularly placed her hand up to her eyes, staring towards the distance. She smiled as the breeze caused by the pace they were walking at blew in his face. She looked towards the trees and caught the specks of pollen as they fell.
The expedition continued walking as May directed them one way and then the other. It felt like they were walking for months, maybe even years. Eventually their expedition began to give up hope of finding the new land. The scientists began to disperse until eventually only Dr May and the police remained. And then, one day, the army arrived.
The police stood by as Dr May was removed off his guest. He struggled but he was no match for the trained men, especially the armed ones. And so it was that May found herself alone once again. If only she had been content with teh adventure of one new world rather than leading her new friend on a quest to find yet another.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Bit of Me

Hosted by 'There's A Book'

What is your favourite colour?
Green. I'm not really sure why this is. Maybe its because its a colour found in nature. Maybe its because it remind me of the smell of fresh grass. Or maybe its because it wasa fashionable colour when I really started clothes shopping for myself and its sort of stuck.

On My Wishlist #3

Hosted by Book Chick City

Blog reading has turned out to be very bad for me- every day I seem to add at least1 (and usually  between 2 and 5) more books to my wishlist. Here are just some of the ones I've added this week:

Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow
The Tides of Truth novels follow one lawyer's passionate pursuit of truth in matters of life and the law.
In the murky waters of Savannah's shoreline, a young law student is under fire as she tries her first case at a prominent and established law firm. A complex mix of betrayal and deception quickly weaves its way through the case and her life, as she uncovers dark and confusing secrets about the man she's defending--and the senior partners of the firm.
How deep will the conspiracy run? Will she have to abandon her true self to fulfill a higher calling? And how far will she have to go to discover the truth behind a tragic cold case?

Finding Jak by Gareth Crocker
When the war ends, how do you leave your best friend behind?
After losing his young family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded yellow Lab whom he nurses back to health and names Jack. As Fletcher and Jack patrol and survive the forests of Vietnam, Fletcher slowly regains the will to live. At the end of the war, the U.S. Government announces that due to the cost of withdrawal, all U.S. dogs serving in the war have been declared “surplus military equipment” and will not be transported home. For the hundreds of dog handlers throughout Vietnam, whose dogs had saved countless lives, the news is greeted with shock and disbelief. For Fletcher, he knows that if he abandons Jack, then he too will be lost. Ordered to leave Jack behind, he refuses—and so begins their journey. Based on the actual existence and abandonment of canine units in Vietnam, Gareth Crocker’s Finding Jack is a novel of friendship and love under desperate circumstances that will grab your heart and won’t let go.
The River by Rumer Godden
Harriet is between two worlds. Her sister is no longer a playmate, her brother is still a child. The comforting rhythm of her Indian childhood - the noise of the jute works, the colourful festivals that accompany each season and the eternal ebb and flow of the river on its journey to the Bay of Benghal - is about to be shattered. She must learn how to reconcile the jagged edges of beginnings and ends ..."The River" is Rumer Godden's beautiful tribute to India and childhood, made into a film by Jean Renoir. And in a preface for this novel she explains how the classic tale came to be written. "So intense, so quietly demanding of attention, that at the time there will be nothing in your thoughts but a small girl in India, and the people and places that were her world" - "Saturday Review". "Compassionate wisdom and serence understanding ...with each book she writes Miss Godden's position as one of the finest of English novelists becomes more secure" - Orville Prescott.

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) goes to school in the Game—a mall converted into a “school” run by corporate sponsors. As the students play their way through the levels, they are also creating products and being used for market research by the sponsors, who are watching them 24/7 on video cameras.
Kid has a vague sense of unease but doesn’t question this existence until one day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank. She follows the clues to uncover the identities of the people behind it and discovers an anonymous group that calls itself the Unidentified. Intrigued by their counterculture ideas and enigmatic leader, Kid is drawn into the group. But when the Unidentified’s pranks and even Kid’s own identity are co-opted by the sponsors, Kid decides to do something bigger—something that could change the Game forever.
This funny, sharp, and thought-provoking novel heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in teen fiction.

How the library has impacted my life

So, I turn on the TV this morning and hear on the news that today is a national day of campaigning against library closures. Right, I think, I wish I didn't have other plans for today so that I could join in. And then I realise that with only a few moments I too can join in- for I have a blog and a wealth of followers who appreciate the value of books. And so this post was born.
Books have always been a part of me, and so have libraries. My Dad's a librarian, so they were always bound to be an important aspect of my life. From a financial viewpoint, without libraries I wouldn't have a roof over my head or food on th table. Please spare a thought for those who could become unemployed during hard financial times should our libraries close.
My personal obsession with libraries started young. I used to visit the local library with my Mum to pick out my favourite books and as I grew up I became an avid fan of the mobile library that stopped down our street. In primary school I was a library prefect along with my best friend. Our job was to look after the books (including reepairing them), make sure they were returned on time, stamp them and shelve them. I really felt that I was helping the school by doing this job since the pupils needed the library for reference books as well as a literary education.
When I was at secondary school the local library became a place to hang out and wait for my mum to finish work. This allowed us to have some quality time together walking home, going out for coffee or going swimming. I used the librar computers to access the internet and enjoyed browsing the shelves for undiscovered treasures. I did my homework on the large tables that they provided and made use of reference books which we didn't have at home.
During sixth forrm I used the library to access maps for my coursework. And, of course, I continued to enjoy reading fiction books.
Whilst at university discovered the joys of a really big public library. With a small flat and little money it was impossible to buy all the books I wanted to read. Almost all my reading, therefore, was in the form of library books. I went regularly between and after classes and soon I had read nearly all the science fiction books.
The library also helped me to find funding during my gap year through its register of organisations with grants.
Nowadays I visit the library less often (I am lucky to be able to store plenty of books I want to read and get more through bookcrossing), but it is still an important part of my life. I buy cheap books to bookcross, especially those which I have already enjoyed reading. I check the shelves for books which online bookclubs I belong to are reading. I ocassionally pop in when I'm passing to see if they have the next book in a series or a random book I might enjoy. And I check the noticeboard in the foyer to see if there are community events that I am interested in.
For me the library has been a source of books when there were none, I place to relax and wait when I needed it, an educationally tool essential to my schooling and a source of information. Of course these are not the only uses of the library- my local also has story-teller, children's holiday clubs and DVD rental to name a few- but they are the ones that have been most important to me.
How has the library impacted your life?

A Great Big Read (A Review)

This book is really good for getting a feel of a whole range of Christian books- both fiction and non-fiction. I particularly enjoyed two of the extracts- 'Why I Jumped' by Tina Zahn and 'Just Walk Across The Room' by Bill Hybels.
The first of these- 'Why I Jumped'- is a heartwarming life story of a woman who, at the begining of the book, decides too commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. What I liked about thi extract was how Christianity was not portrayed as an automatic redemption simply through the action of going to church. The people were represented as a range of personalities and the story-line was personal through the first-person narrative.
'Just Walk Across The Room' sets out to show how easy it can be to spread your faith to others. Through a range of true stories lined together by a commentary, it really spoke to me.
Not all the extracts were to my liking however. One of the strengths of this compilation is the range of views expressed, however this also means that you are unlikely to enjoy every extract. I found 'Jerusalem Countdown' by John Hagee particularly hard reading because of its extreme views. To put it basically, Hagee seems to believe that all Muslims are potential terrorists and that our idea of religious freedom is encouraging extreme views to flourish. This viewpoint is exemplified by a selection of interviews with converted Muslims and people who used to live in either Israel or Palestine.
Overall I think this book is definatly worth a read. I have gained two more books to add ton my wishlist and an increased knowledge of a range of Christian viewpoints. I shall be passing this book onto my mother who promisesto bookcross it at a conference after she has finished her reading.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Book Blogger Hop #3

Hosted by Crazy for Books

What are you reading now and why are you reading it?
I'm currently reading a book called 'A Great Big Read'. I picked it up off a local church's bookshop because it was free (it was published for World Book Day 2007) and Christian literature can be expensive. I started reading it now to give me a taste of a variety of Christian books that I might be interested in buying in full, since I wanted to expand my reading of Christian literature.

Book Beginnings- 4th February 2011

Hosted by A Few More Pages

Two beginnings from my compliation book, the beginning of the book and the beginning of the extract:

A Great Big Read
Congratulations. Believe it or not, you curently have your hands on a treasure chest, one that is crammed to overflowing with valuables that are more costly than diamonds, and more useful than gold.

Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels
Ten thousand steps. Roughly, that's the distance you travel sunrise to sunset, each and every day of your life.


The Friday 56

Hosted by Freda's Voice

From 'A Great Big Read':
But on Easter Day the time for concealment is over.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Third Sentence Thursday #1

Hosted by Sniffy Kitty's Mostly Books

I'm currently reading 'A Great Big Read' which is a compilation of extracts from books, so I'll share the third sentence of the book and the third sentence from the extract I'm currently reading:

A Great Big Read
You are fabulously rich, and all because of this: you are looking at a book
Very true! Books are so important- a source of knowledge, escape and entertainment all rolled into one. There is no better source of wealth in my opinion.

Extract from Building A Better World by Malcolm Duncan
It is not the kings and generals that make history, but the masses of the people (Nelson Mandela)
This seems a particularly pertinent quote with all that's going on in Egypt at the moment. Surely the masses there will make history- one way or the other.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Teaser Tuesday #2

Hosted by Should Be Reading

My extract this week is from 'A Great Big Read'. This book is a compilation of samples from a variety of both fiction and non-fiction Christian books.

'Like an apple tree amongst the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste'
          from 'The Christian Handbook on Marriage'
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