Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: April 2012

Monday, 30 April 2012

Meet Me On Monday- 30th April 2012

Hosted by Never Growing Old

1.  Tomorrow I am looking forward to getting just that little bit further into my current read. Every day is a reading day!

2.  When is your birthday? July the 4th!

3.  What are you currently excited about? Getting to grips with helping a child with their reading

4.  Do you have any secrets? If I did, do you think I'd tell you?

5.  What do you normally eat for lunch? I try to make every lunch different. Today I had rice salad, tomorrow I'm having a pasta salad, but I normally end up having some kind of sandwich.

I'd love to read your answers and get to know you better! If you do this meme, why not share a link in the comments (or popst your answers there if you don't have a blog) and I'll do my best to visit during the next week.

Musing Mondays- Audiobooks

Hosted by Should Be Reading

I wrote about this a little while back on my blog, and nothing has really changed, so I hope my regular readers don't mind if I repost it (for those who missed my discussion). I'd also love to hear more opinions, so feel free to comment.

A is for Audio

I've always had a few audio book in my house, ever since my auntie bought me a few tapes of books I loved. Her intention, and mine, was to listen to them on holiday, when my eyes were simply too tired to read a book, or when I was sharing a room with someone who might not appreciate the light on. My only problem? For some readon they never got opened.

Its not that I didn't love the idea of audio, its just that it never really happened to be the right thing for me. Maybe it was the fact that I had to cart around a series of tapes when one book would do. Maybe it was that  the person reading it might not do as good a job as the voice I had in my head. Or maybe it was that I couldn't check back a few pages easily.

A few months ago I decided to try again. I bought an audio CD- no problems of size or lack of indexing here- and popped it in my car player. I listened to it for several weeks whilst driving. I really enjoyed the voices, the tones and the sound effects. I felt connected with the characters. But I missed a lot of the plot. You see, its hard to concentrate on an audio book when you should be concentrating on driving. (I could have listened to it at home, but my main CD player is in a cluttered  room at the moment, and its just not a nice place to be). I vowed to finish listening to it and then listen again to pick up what I'd missed.

And then it sat there. I decided I wanted to listen to some music for a change. I got it out and tried again, before returning to the music. The result? A half-listened to audio book and a person who only vaguely has an idea of what happened (me).

Is it worth trying again?
I'm not sure. 

Z is for Zonked Out

1. To be extremly tired
 2. To fall asleep, normally because of exhaustion
 From The Urban Dictionary

Are you feeling like this after all the busy A-Z activity?

Actually, this experience has not been as tiring for me as I thought it would be. I've been busy scheduling my posts for the next week at the weekend, and have still (just about) had time to do my usual reviews and reading whilst working 5 days a week and keeping up my musical activities.

Just before I fall asleep is one of my favourite times to do reading. I find that it relaxes the mind and, sometimes, it even informs my dreams as well. The only problem is that, when I'm really into a book, I'd rather stay awake than actually sleep. Someone else mentioned to me the other day that they find it hard to read at night because if there are any complications in the book then they don't tend to take them in and what they read subsequently doesn't always make sense as a result.
Do you, my readers, have either of these problems? And, also, are there any books that you find particularly difficult to read just before bedtime?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett (A Review)

Death is Missing- Presumed..... Er...... Gone. Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far, away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There's a harvest to be gathered in....

My review:
Discworld at its weirdest (or, possibly, almost). This book explores the meaning and purpose of both life and death in a hilarious fashion. Eternal life isn't all its hooked up to be! Recommended for all, especially those already immersed in Terry Pratchett's flat-world.

Action Reader's Action: Consider what services you use every day. Take some time to say thankyou next time you see the garbage man, postman, or other public service worker.

If you've read any of the Discworld series, then I'd like to know which is your favourite Death quote?

Have you ever had a public service withdrawn? What effect did it have on your life? I'd love it if you'd share your story in the comments. 


Y is for YA

What does YA mean?

Oxford dictionary online says:


Pronunciation: /jÉ™, ja/

pronoun & possessive determiner

non-standard spelling of you or your, used to represent informal or US pronunciation.

But, as all readers will know YA also stands for Young Adult, and is used in relation to fiction writing.
So, who is a young adult. Again, I turn to Oxford dictionary online:

young adult offender



(in the UK) a criminal from 18 to 20 years of age.

OK no definition of young adult, but it does tell us that UK law says a young adult is between 18 and 20 years old. However, if this was the age-range expected for YA Fiction then it would have a very small market indeed. In the Methodist Church of England young adults are 18 to 23 year old, so a slightly larger age-range.
Wikipedia says:
The Young Adult Library Services (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from twelve years up to the age of eighteen, while some publishers may market young adult literature to as low as age ten or as high as age twenty-five.

So, as we can see, the age-range that YA applies to is widely disputed. 

Then, why are adults often so reluctant to admit to reading 'YA' books? Is it because they're thinking that it could be read by 12 year olds? And does that necessarily make them unappropriate for adults as well? Personally, I think a good book will appeal to all ages whether or not it was originally designed for them.

That's why I'm quite happy to read YA literature, and may not even realise that it is in some cases. How about you?

Friday, 27 April 2012

X is for X-treme Reading

Where's the most unusual place you've ever read?

I have to say that I'm quite boring on this one (probably the most extreme place I've ever read is sitting in a nice cafe at the top of a mountain). How about you?

Being a Rock n' Roll Reader is Better By Far!

Thanks to Courtney for introducing me to this video. I didn't know anything could make reading any more fun!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

W is for World Book Night

A night just for books

On Monday I wild released 24 copies of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in my local town. No, I was not gettig rid of an overstock in my own personal library (the most duplicates I've had of one book is 3  I'm glad to say). This was for World Book Night!

The aim? To encourage more people to read. Load of people (givers) around the UK and US registered to give away multiple copies of one of their favourite books from a list. They were encouraged to think up imaginative ways of giving to non-readers. My approach might not be the most imaginative but, last year, leaving books at crossings, on benches, hanging from fence posts etc seemed to attract plenty of attention for the event. Let's hope this year turns out to be just as successful.

Were you a World Book Night giver? How did you give away your books?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Q A Novel by Paul Nigro (A Review)

 The Scribe. In 70 A.D., a scribe who was a witness to the life and teachings of Jesus, leaves his notes in the safekeeping of the Qumran community. He once asked Jesus if he coould become one of he Twelve- but was told no. He is the author of ... Q. The Society. No one has heard of the Society of St. Matthew, an intensely secretive band of men whose sole purpose is to study, and more importantly, guard the existence of an ancient manuscript. But has one of their own members betrayed their cause? They are the guardians of ... Q. The Media Mongul. This billionaire illegally takes possession of a first-century manuscript that he plans to use as a tool to undermine confidence in Christian scripture and faith. He beliees this will behis singular contribution to the world. The name of hs scheme is ... Q. The Student. Gigi Vaughn is a seminary student and a volunteer at a homeless shelter in Ft. Worth, Texas. Her life is turned upside down when she fids an injured man in the alley behind the shelter- an Englishman who mumbles something about ... Q. The Thief. Jeremy Croft has the aristocratic bearing of an English Lor, but plies a trade that's not quite as lofty. The Society of St. Matthew has hired him to steal back from the media baron something they treasure. The teasure is ... Q. Q. A simple manuscript, purporting to tell about the life of Jesus, is about to create a web of violence and intrigue ... and touch the lives of all those who are people of faith!

My review
This book offered a unique insight into what might happen if the real 'q' source of Christianity was found. The plot was enticing and interesting, getting the reader to engage with issues in a simple way. The characters, especially Gigi Vaughn, were very realistic. The only downside was that the argument for Christianity was placed in the final chapter almost as if it was an afterthought, I would have liked it if there had been more obvious discussion between the viewpoints.

Action Reader's Action: Think about what your beliefs are grounded on. If you are religious, make time to reflect on your faith in your daily life.

What are your beliefs based upon? Do you think biblical texts are relevant in today's society?


V is for Visualising

Pictures in the mind

Do you remember, when you were a kid, how picture books used to do all the work for you? Open them up and there was a world of colours, and a wealth of information available without even looking at the text. And yet, when you're an adult, you're expected to read books with no pictures, books that are simply black and white.

Am I the only one that thinks that's strange? After all most children have vivid imaginations. Given words that they understand they can create whole worlds from them, and often do. But as we get older our imaginative abilities decrease and we can quite easily become stuck in conventions.

So why is some of the help taken away?
Just a thought.
What do you think?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Terry Pratchett Giveaway Winner!

Thankyou to everyone who entered (we have 54 entries in total).

Now, what you've been wanting to know, who won?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, the first prize winner is Mary P, who has been e-mailed.
And the second prize winner is Sarah W, who I will e-mail once I have received Mary's chose of book.

Congratulations to both of you!

U is for Ursula Le Guin

The classic, but hard to find, author

I first got into Ursula Le Guin after trying one of her books via a bookcrossing ring. I was looking for a new (to me anyway) science fiction author and she seemed to fit the bill. I immediately fell in love with her style.

Ursula Le Guin's books tackle issues prevelant in the time in which each book was written, but which are often still applicable today. Her other-world socities are always believable, even though they are often so different from our own. I would consider her a classic science-fiction author, and yet it can sometimes be quite hard to find her books on the shelf (as it were).

Going into mainstream bookshops in England, there are usually only one or two of her books for sale. There are more online, but still nowhere near all of them. Since I can't afford the time (or money) to search out her books, my collection grows slowly rather than at the fast pace I would like. Still, at least it gives me more time to catch up on my TBR pile.

Have you ever read Ursula Le Guin? What did you think?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett (A Review)

The alchemists of the Discworld  have discovered the magic of the silver screeen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill? It's up to Victor Tugelbend ("Can't sing. Can't dance. Can handle a sword a little") and Thelda Withel ("I come from a little town you've probably never heard of") to find out

My review:
A story bound to entertain anyone who has ever seen a movie! Hilarity spills over from Holy Wood Hill into our own world via this story from Terry Pratchett. The film references are magical, the action strangely familar!  Another gem from the Discworld series.

Action Reader's Action: Take someone in need of company and friendship out to the cinema

Which Discworld invention do you like the most, and why?

What's your favourite film? Why?

T is for Terry Pratchett

Discworld, here we come!

It seems like Terry Pratchett is quite popular these days, but the question is- why?

For me, its the combination of humour, social commentary, fantasy, and an intelligent thread running through it all. Terry Pratchett's books, and particularly the Discworld series, can easily be enjoyed by people of all ages and educational backgrounds. They can be understood on many levels. And everytime I read them I find something new in the text that I'd never noticed before. Most of the books can be read as standalones but, as a series, they gain a deeper and more complex story.

I love Terry Pratchett so much that I'm forever keeping an eye out for hiss books in charity shopss so that I can share them with others. Like you- if you entered my recent giveaway.

Are you a Terry Pratchett fan? If so, what do you enjoy about his books?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Dewey's Readathon Wrap-Up Post

Well, only 10 more minutes since I last posted I'm afraid. That's what happens when you're in the church music group. Despite doing less than an hours reading I still enjoyed myself, and managed to get a few memes done as well.

 End of Event Meme

Which hour was most daunting for you?
All of them. Far too busy this time.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I was reading 'Reaper Man' by Terry Pratchett, which is quite fast paced and easy to read. The comedic elements also kept me engaged.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Nope. Keep on doing the same, all great!

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

I felt appreciated when the cheerleaders visited me

How many books did you read?

Less than 1 ;(

What were the names of the books you read?

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Which book did you enjoy most?

See above

Which did you enjoy least?

See above

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?


How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I definatly want to be a reader again. Hoping next time I will be less busy. 

Dewey's Readathon Update Half Way Through Hour 20

This will probably have to be my last update before the end, unfortunatly. Sleep got in  the way of reading plans this time (had to take it because I have a busy day today). The result was only 20 minutes of reading overnight. Oh well, that's 5 minutes more than I usually do!

Theme Songs Mini Challenge
My current read is Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
 It's very hard to explain why I chose this song without using spoilers. But, basically, there's a character that appears quite early on who could be in this video!

Culinary Catastrophe Mini-Challenge
I'm going to deliver a portion of Wow-Wow sauce (the hottest sauce you've ever come across and a Discworld speciality) using a magic propelled snowglobe.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Dewey's Readathon Update at the Start of Hour 10

OK, so I got distracted by going out for a meal (safari supper style). Still I did manage to read for 10 minutes before setting off and 10 minutes whilst I was waiting for people to arrive at my house for dessert.

Plus, all that food has put me in a good place for the Bon Appetit! Mini-Challenge.

I am currently reading 'Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett' and here is my menu:

Decoration: Various ornaments, including teapots, china dogs, cake stands, painted souvenir plates and pictures. Floors to be covered in rag rugs
Music: 'Monster Mash', 'Death on Two Legs', 'Thriller' etc.
Food: Miss Flitworth's chicken tonight, followed by buttered scones and biscuits
Drinks: Tea

Dewey's Readathon Update at the Start of Hour 5

I'd of loved to do the Book Sentences mini-challenge, but unfortunatly I just don't have the time to put all the books together and take a photo.

In the last hour I read 10 minutes worth of Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, taking my reading total so far up to 15 minutes. Pretty poor I know, but I told you I wouldn't have much time to read.

I'm taking a short break now from posting, more later in the readathon (hopefully).

Dewey's Readathon At The Start of Hour 4

Managed to get 5 minutes reading done in the past hour (see what happens when you're trying to check your e-mails, twitter and sort out your blog at the same time).

Turn to Page Mini-Challenge

" I would rather read than be playing the kettle drums and doing that bimbo dancing all night any day!"
Italics taken from p32 of Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Dewey's Readathon At The Start of Hour 3

Why did this have to take place on such a busy day for me?

I've not even managed to start my reading yet, having been off playing with my brass band this morning. And I'm not sure how much reading I'll manage to do tonight either. Oh well, I guess I'll feel happy if I actually manage to get some reading done.

Introductory Meme
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I'm reading from England

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

As I suspect I'll only get through one book at most, I guess it has to be my current one: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Trying not to snack, especially since I'm unlikely to stay up late this time

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm going to be a World Book Night giver for the second time this year. I'll be giving away Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I guess the main thing I'm doing differently is not trying to read every hour- unfortunatly I just can't this time. 

Are you taking part in the 24-hour readathon?

S is for Science Fiction

Space- The Final Frontier

That used to be one of my favourite programmes when I was young- Star Trek that is. Not the original series (slightly too tacky for my liking), but The Next Generation and then Voyager when it came along. Of course, it wasn't long before I discovered the books as well. And that's when I started to become interested in reading Science Fiction. And it was only a short time later that  I discovered that it could be more than just a good plot.

Douglas Adams is a prime example. His books are not only funny, they're hilarious, wild and ridiculous. They're set in space, so I guess they're science fiction, but they're more than that. Space just happens to be where his mix of cultures, politics, and misunderstandings is based. And I guess that's what I like about science fiction- the emphasis on understanding what's here on our own world.

One of my favourite authors, Ursula le Guin, is really good at this. Her books include cultures with 3 genders, multiple partners and malee-female role reversals almongst other things. But, enough of that for now, more when I get to letter U ;)

The point is that science fiction writing can be much more than spin-off TV tales, or tales of spotting a UFO with aliens that take over the world. It's a whole universe just waitig to be discovered. So, if you haven't  already, why not boldy take that leap and go where you haven't gone before?!

Friday, 20 April 2012

R is for Religion

Christian Fiction- different or the same?

When I first came across the idea of Christian fiction it was in a Christian  bookshop. I was attracted to the cover- a dragon curled up with one eye open- as it reminded me of the sort of books I liked to read. It didn't really matter to me that the author of Dragonspell was a Christian, or that there was a Christian anaology within the pages. What attracted me to Donita K. Paul's work was simply the fantasy world which she had created.

Its easy to forget that C.S. Lewis was a Christian when we look at the popularity of the Narnia tales. These two are a fantastical allegory. And yet they are taken at face value by so many non-Christians and, indeed, have truly become mainstream novels. So far in fact that, when one youngster at one church saw 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' on their messy church bookshelf he went as far as questionning that it had anything at all to do with Christianity.

And yet, Christian fiction is often considered to be something very different from that which the general populace read. When I first went looking for books with a Christian message to read I was shocked by the lack of ones that interested me. Most seemed to be filled with 2-dimensional characters whose message about God was shouted at the reader in defiance of any relevance to real life. Go to many Christian bookshops in the UK today and, sadly, you will still find too many (in my opinion) of these books- if you find any Christian fiction at all!

But, gladly, there is some fiction out there which just happens to be Christian. I guess there always has been, its just that few have known about it. I'm glad that authors such as Ray Ellis for being willing to put a little realism alongside a Christian message within their writing. And I hope that I will soon discover more books that do the same.

Do you know of any?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Q is for Quiet

One thing you can be certain about with books (unless you're reading them outloud)  is quiet. In this busy and, often, loud world that's one thing that really attracts me about the written word. It's whaat makes them different from other forms of storytelling such as radio or TV. And its, quite possibly, one of the reasons that so many teenagers (and especially boys) consider books boring.

Why is they associate quiet activities with boring ones? Is it the fact that peaceful activities such as walking, napping, birdwatching, stamp-collecting etc, are generally associated with the older generations? Is it some inbuilt idea that quiet people go unnoticed in our society? Or is it a fear of a time of stillness and doing something different to the usual hectic lifestyle?

The truth is, I don't really know. But what I do know is that a popular idea for re-engaging youth with reading is to add back some of the liveliness and excitement. E-books are starting to be developed with video and sound footage, teenage books tell of lively characters, movies hope to boost book sales, and puppets shoot out of children's books. Don't get me wrong, all this is great if it brings in readers. But, I wonder, will there always be a place in our world for the quiet of a peaceful written tale?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I've reached 20 twitter followers!

And, to celebrate, I'm adding an extra winner to my giveaway. You now have two chances to win!

P is for Pace

Fast or Slow? I'd love to know!

I did a little quiz thing a while ago about how quick I can read. I can't remember actually how many words/pages per minute it was, but I remember that it worked out about the same speed as a college professor. I'm not that surprised though, I've always been quite a quick reader.

When I work out my goals for reading challenges, I tend to work on the basis of about 10 pages every half hour (though, of course, this depends on text size etc). I also worked out that if I were to sit down and read the whole bible non-stop ot would take me about a day.

The problem is that things get in the way of reading. Whilst I'd love to be able to read all the time, it just isn't realistic. This slows my reading right down to a maximum of 2 books a week, and a minimum of 1 book a month. Until a reading challenge comes up, of course, then just watch me go!

What's your reading pace like?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Q A Novel

Hosted by Should be Reading

Q A Novel by Paul Nigro
Gigi straightened and nearly shouted the words. "I want to see it."

O is for One At A Time

Wait! I haven't finished the last book!

That's what I tend to cry to myself when another book arrives on my doorstep. Not that I'm moaning, I love receiving a new book, but I can only read one book at a time!

Now I hear tales of other bloggers (or 'real-world' folk) who can read two or more book at a time. But, me? One's enough, thankyou! If I try to pick up two then, somehow, the worlds become muddled. I forget who exists in which book. And, worse of all, I start picking out where one book is better than the other and visa-versa. All this really tends to spoil my enjoyement of the book. And that is why I'm really a reader, isn't it?

How about you? Are you a one-at-a-time or a several-at-once reader?

Monday, 16 April 2012

N is for New Books

New, nearly new, or not new at all?

I love new books, the feel of the clean pages in my hand, and the knowledge that I have something few hands have yet to touch. Even better when they're hot of the press, newly published, and (maybe) even signed by the author. But realistically, I get few of my books this way.

What's the problem with new then? Well, nothing when you get them free from giveaways, competitions, or for review. But, otherwise, they can be pretty expensive. The result is that most of the books I buy new are from discount stores and have, therefore, been published quite a long time. For me to buy a book from an independent or high street bookshop then it has to be something I consider pretty special.

Like the books I got signed by Kazuo Ishiguro for the cover price, or the books that I sometimes buy for my younger relatives. Then there's those by Ursula Le Guin or Christian Jacq, authors whom I collect but whose books can sometimes be hard to find. Everything else has to wait for a sale, or for me to find it second-hand.

Nearly new- that's a little easier. These seem to fall in front of my feet all the time. There's charity shops, second-hand bookshops and, of course, bookcrossing.

And then, ocassionally, I receive a book that's not new at all. It's a book that might have been thrown out had it not been for a bookcrosser somewhere who decided it should be preserved. But does that mean that this tattered paperback is worth any less than that which I bought new? I wonder!

What does it take for you to buy a book that's truly new?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

15000 Pageviews Terry Pratchett giveaway

To celebrate this blog reaching over 15000 pageviews I've decided to offer a Terry Pratchett giveaway to all my readers. You don't need to be a follower to enter, but extra entries are available as usual.

Because you guys are so great, I've decide to make this one international!
Simply fill in the rafflecopter below to enter (you may have to visit the actual postby clicking on its title to enter)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

M is for Monthly Roundups

Managing (or not managing) the monthly headache

Operation Read Bible & the Terry Pratchett challenge were the two reading challenges that I set myself this year. Along with them I decided to do a monthly roundup to keep track of where I was, plus tell you all what readathons I'd taken part in. 4 months later and I've totally abandoned that idea.

Monthly Roundups are a great way to let others know what you've been doing. They can provide links to relevant posts, making it easier for readers to find what they're interested in. They can also make it easy for bloggers to compare what they've done each month, and where they're up to with their challenges. This is the reason I decided to do them.

However, one thing has slowed me down- time! Some months I definatly have time around the turn of the calendar page, others I'm far too busy with life. And lets not forget the reading that has to be done to make it worth while doing the updates at all.

I must admit that I'm quite jealous of those of you who manage to do monthly roundups regularly. They make your blogs look organised and professional. But I've now resigned myself to the fact that this is not something I can currently achieve. So instead I'm going to plough through my usual posts, and let you know what I'm currently reading from the main page.

I'll still be doing my two reading challenges (and I'll try to remember to let you know what's happening with them ocassionally). And I hope that you still find something you can enjoy.

Friday, 13 April 2012

L is for Literature

What does it mean?

I don't know about you, but the word literature just shouts 'boring books' to me! Now, that's coming from somewhere who'll read almost any genre! And it makes me wonder both why I've got that view, and if my definition of literature is the same as the world's in general.

And so, I turned to the dictionary and this is what it said:


[mass noun]
  • written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit: a great work of literature
  • books and writings published on a particular subject: the literature on environmental epidemiology
  • leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice: advertising and promotional literature
Origin: late Middle English (in the sense 'knowledge of books'): via French from Latin litteratura, from littera (see letter)

Well, leaflets and adverts certainly don't come to my mind when I think of literature, and neither do letters. Whilst I don't particularly like advertising (especially junk-mail), I do like both receiving and writing letters. And I've read some great books of letters. such at 'The Morello Letters'. 

Literature and books and writings on a particular subject allows quite a broad range of books. I don't usually read non-fiction text-books, but some light-hearted approaches can be quite interesting and I guess they'd also fall under this heading.

But I suppose its the first defination that most of us think of when we talk about literature. And I think that's where I rebel. I don't want to think that I'm reading something just because its considered to having "lasting artistic merit". Nor do I really consider some books superior to others. In my opinion different books are considered great by different people, and so I guess what is considered literature to one person is trash to another.

In which case I love literature! I love Terry Pratchett! I love Jasper Fforde! I love Ursula Le Guin! And I love Christian Jacq! All in great warks of literature as far as I'm concerned!

What are your personal great works of literature?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean (A Review)

Everyone knows the story of the Ark. The flood rising, the animals entering two by two. Noah. But what about the women and children? Did they all accept Noah's orders to ignore their friends and neighbours struggling in the water? When Timna does the unthinkable- when she defies her father and saves a life- she knows her fearful secret may bring death and disaster on board. If it does, one thing in certain. There will be nowhere to run.

My review
This retelling of the Noah's Ark story is incredibly thought-provoking. Graphic, tearful moments are combined with theological questions. The perspective is a little girl's most of the time, but then switches to that of other characters to reveal a deeper insight to what is going on. Each has a different outlook on events, and a personality that will shape them. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to delve deeper into the events in the bible, or just wants a good children's dystopian-style story.  

Action Reader's Action: Many countries around the world at the moment are suffering from drought. Find out more about one of them and how you can help.

Discussion questions: What would you do if you were faced with the ultimate decision whether or not to save a life against the wishes of all you held dear? Do you think that there could ever be a good reason to destroy a civilisation?

K is for Kickstart Your Reading

HELP! I don't feel like reading!

Does anyone else ever have these moments? I love reading, but just now and again I get bored and feel like taking a break. Then I look at my overflowing TBR shelves and think "but I really should keep going".
Here are some of the strategies I've used to help me get my momentum back. They all work (sometimes):
  • Reorganise my TBR shelves. In the process I often spot some great books that I'd forgotten about.
  • Join a readathon. This was a HAVE to read!
  • Simply browse my shelves (including those I've already read) for something I fancy.
  • Try a totally different style of book from the one I've just read.
  • Go somewhere interesting to read, e.g. a nature spot, a different room, the library
  • Buy a new book- somehow they're always most interesting
  • Eat chocolate at the same time (who says chocolate doesn't work magic)
  • Do something else for a little bit- I find listening to music or writing particularly therapeutic
  • Chat to other readers online- sometimes their enthusiasm can be catching!
What do you do when you hit a readig rut? Or are you lucky enough not to have them at all?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

J is for Jasper Fforde

Welcome to the crazy world of Jasper Fforde

Swindon BookCrossing Unconvention 2010- my first big BC event. I was looking at what was going to happen and became rather puzzled by the mention of a Jasper Fforde tour of Swindon. I'd never heard of this man and there didn't appear to be a clear description available of his books.

St Helen's Church 2011- I'm waiting in an extremly long queue to get 2 books signed by Jasper Fforde. My knees are knocking and I'm trying to work out what I'm going to say. As usual when confronted by someone I really want to meet, I get rather tongue-tied. Still, I come away happ, with 2 signed books and a postcard hugged close to my body. The wait had been worth it.

So how did this change come about? And why do I now feel it worthwhile to collect all of Jasper Fforde's books? This is the short post where I tell you!

It all started just before the forementioned unconvention. Having heard that Jasper Fforde would be the main speaker (and seen all the hype his name was creating amongst the future attendees) I decided I better read some of his work. So I joined a Bookcrossing ring and read the first book. Talk about Wow! It reminded me a little of my favourite author Terry Pratchett. It was funny, insightful and telling about today's society. Yet somehow it remained quite light reading. I also liked the way the whole world was based around books.

When th convention arrived I was absolutely enthralled with what the 'Thursday Next' author had to say. His talk was hilarious, entertaining, spellbinding and REALLY made want to read his books. I also discovered that there was a whole other series of books I'd never heard of by him- The Nursery Crime series.

And so I set about reading my way through all his books. And, as is my practise with those I consider great authors, collecting them as well. Each book seemed funnier than the last. And I loved the way the Bookworld developed and gained a life of its own. I also fell in love with the idea of a modern-day fairytale world- a mishmash which has both led me to love programmes such as 'Once Upon A Time', an made me consider reading who-dunnit type stories for the first time.

I was thrilled when Jasper Fforde came to my town. He was promoting his first children's book at the time and I grabbed it with both hands (great as ever,  btw). By this point I was keen on telling others about his writing, but I had no idea howto describe his style. Jasper Fforde gave us some advice on this which I follow to this day- "don't try to describe my books, just tell them to read them".

And that's my advice to you. Don't bother trying to work out what Jasper Fforde's books are like, just get hold of one of them and read. I'm sure you will enjoy!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph: Moving Pictures

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
Watch... This is space. It's somtimes called the final frontier. (Except that of course you can't have a final frontier, because there'd be nothing for it to be a frontier to, but as frontiers go, it's pretty penultimate...)

I is for Independent Bookshops

Why I Feel Guilty for Not Always Buying Independent

I love my local bookshops. My town is lucky enough to have two of them: Abingdon Bookstore and Mostly Books. Abingdon Bookstore looks very professional, has a good range of gifts, and is a World Book Night distributor. Mostly Books is a great place for kids, have some brilliant events, and are really good at giving reading advice. Both stores have very friendly staff.

Whenever I walk through the main precinct I pop into Abingdon Bookstore. Whenever I'm shopping for children I go to Mostly Books. And yet, a large proportion of my book buying is done in Waterstones. Why is this? Well, its simple- because I have a loyalty card!

Isn't it so easy to get into buying somewhere just because you have some sort of store card! When I was at university Waterstones was my local store and so I, sort of, had an excuse. But now its a 30 minute drive (or bus ride), it costs at least £4 to get there, and I have independents a lot closer. I don't really have a reason except to save money!

I feel like I should support my local bookstores more. They're at the heart of our community, helping to preserve the joy of reading and promoting it to new generations. Sure, I attend their events and browse there, but I only really buy my favourite authors (and only then when I can't get them cheaper elsewhere). In the end it simply comes down to money- but I think that only if people like me are a bit more generous with theirs will the bookshops have enough to survive.

Do you have an independent bookshop near you? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, 9 April 2012


A little late signing up to this, but here goes.

What is a pick-your-thon?
Basically, you can choose whether to use it as a review-a-thon  or a readathon. I'm going for the readathon option.

My plans
Pretty flexible. I'm going to carry on down my TBR shelves, reading as much as I can. I probably won't do many update posts this time, as I want to concentrate on reading. And I expect I'll only do oneor two mini-challenges as well.

Are you doing this one? Do link up in the comments and tell us what you're planning.

H is for Historical Fiction

Delving Deeper into History

Yesterday I was talking about genres. One of the genres I sometimes say I like to read is 'historical fiction'. Now I have a confession to make- I'm very particular about my historical fiction!

Firstly, I like it to be broadly accurate. Not for me are the non-existant royals, the impossible love affairs, or the secret plots that no-ones actually ever heard about. I'm quite happy for extra details to be made up (face it, most history would be pretty boring without them), but there's plenty of interesting stuff out there to pad-out without the extreme fiction.

Secondly, I don't just want to hear about royals, or the ruling class. There's a place for stories about the forgotten princes, or many wives of Henry VIII, but it's not really my cup-of-tea. I'd much rather hear about the reactions of the general public to an abdication, or the social history of life in the 1960s.

Thirdly, I'm not really interested in wars and battles. Military history was never something I enjoyed at school and lists of battles are just boring in my opinion. 

Then there's the fact that for some reason my historical fiction ends up mainly centered around two time periods: Ancient Egypt and the 2nd World War. The former comes from my interest in the Egyptians when I was younger (ending up in studying Ancient History), but I've no idea where the later period interest has come from. I've tried reading books about the Tudors, but for some reason they just didn't interest me. I'd love to broaden my historical horizons, but I've yet to find the right book to do it.

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to my favourite historical fiction writer. He's name is Christian Jacq and, you've guessed it, he mainly writes about Ancient Egypt. Why do I like his stuff so much? Well, he's an Egyptologist so I'm pretty sure his stuff is grounded in reality. I love the way his books tend to include maps and glossaries to really help you understand the place and time period. He writes about the Pharaoahs and their consorts, but he also tells the reader about their relationships with the everyday workers, the priests and the general population. When he tells of battles, its the impact that they have on the country that interests him, not the result in terms of numbers dead or which general survived. Overall, I find his books really interesting and I just wish he was more well-known as an author.

Do you like historical fiction? What sort do you like?

Saturday, 7 April 2012

G is for Genres

Crossing the Genres

Following on from yesterday's post about fiction vs. non-fiction I'd like to talk to you today about genres.

When I first graduated from purely children's books I was definatly a science-fiction gal. Most of the books I read were of this genre, with a few crossing over to fantasy. Then, I discovered the joys of humour, contemporary fiction, travel writing, autobiographies, Christian fiction..... etc, etc. No longer could I describe my book interests simply by saying "I like science-fiction books". The question, "what sort of books do you like?" became a lot more complicated!

Things got even worse when I discovered Jasper Fforde. Now those of you who know this man's works will know that they are hard to describe and even harder to fit into one genre (in-fact he recommends you don't even try). As he became one of my favourite authors I realised that more and more off the books I enjoyed were not easily squeezed into one genre. Sure, Terry Pratchett is mainly fantasy, but his books are also social commentraries, humour and even, sometimes, science fiction, historical fiction or religious criticisms.

Ask me what my favourite genre is nowadays and I'm more likely to tell you the genres I don't like (horror, chick-lit). Push me further and I'll probably list off my favourite authors (Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, Christian Jacq, Ursula Le Guin). Insist I tell you and I'll resort to "science fiction and fantasy is my favourite, but I'll read most things).

How about you?

Friday, 6 April 2012

F is for Fact or Fiction

Is it a Fiction that I never read Fact?

If you ask me what I read, fact or fiction, I'll always answer fiction! I love the idea of being immersed in a fantasy world, drifting into an author's imagination. And, I guess, I also like being able to let my mind wander to new scenarios without worrying about destroying the truth.

And yet, if you look across my TBR shelves, you'll find quite a few memoirs, autobiographies and travel journals. You see these too provide an element of escapism, plus a possibility of insight into someone else's world.

And in truth, much of my fiction reading almost crosses the boundary. I like historical fiction, something based on fact even if often its mostly fiction. Plus, isn't all writing based on an author's experiences to some extent (or so they say).

Now I've got myself totally confused, are you confused as well? Or are you clear cut on whether you prefer fact or fiction?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Check out the Patrick Patterson UK £50 Amazon competition

Raven Crest Books are offering the chance to win £50 of Amazon vouchers when you buy a Kindle copy of 'Patrick Patterson and the World of Others' by James Fryer. The competition is open to UK residents.

Click here for more info and to enter

Click here to read my review

E is for E-Books

Why I'm not so eager to enter the world of E-Books

When I first heard of e-readers I thought- fantastic, gadgets and books combined, I'll love it. Then I sat back and thought: "I can't see the screen on my digital camera in bright sun, will I be able to see the words?", "I get a headache staring too long at a computer screen, will this be the same?"

By the time I had finished my investigation, and found out that neither of these were actually problems, I'd already got truly hooked by the world of physical books. I'd discovered that I loved their smell, the fact that I could flick through their pages, the feel of the paper in my hands, taking them into the bath, and being able to easily pass them onto others.

Don't get me wrong: I think e-books are great for some. I can see the advantage of not having to lug loads of books away on holiday. I can see that they might be lighter for commuters. I can see the interactive possibilities that might attract those not already passionate about the written word. But, I just don't think I fit into one of those camps- yet!

Maybe, one day, I'll look back and say "why did I make all that fuss about retiring my paperbacks?", but for today I'm proud to be a supporter of the printed word. And I wonder, if e-books do take over the world, will there still be a place for independent bookstores, libraries and bookcrossing?

What do you think? Are you an e-book enthusiast, or a physical bookaphile?

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

D is for Discussion

Where do you have your book discussions?

I had originally intended this post to be about my attempts to promote discussions on this blog. But then, inspired by I started to think about where, and how, I have my book-related discussions. The first, most obvious place was on this blog. I love to post review of what I've read and getting comments back from you guys. That's sort of a discussion, although its not very interactive.

Then there's the bookcrossing meetings that I go to. That's probably where I go most of my book discussions. At the local meetups we always have a huge pile of books right in the middle of the table. At least part of our talking is about why we've brought those books, whether we enjoyed them or not, and who might like them. Then there's the chat about our latest reads. Finally, we play a book-swapping game where you have to describe your book and why you liked it- that often prompts discussion.

At the bookcrossing unconventions there are even more opportunities for book-related discussion. Visiting authors provide prompts to talk about their genres, issues and your own favourite authors. The pile of books to chat over is even larger. There's often a book quiz or two which get you sharing common book-related interests. And then there's the opportunity to have meals with other like-minded people.

Online I've discovered the joys of goodreads, facebook and twitter for prompting discussion. For some reason I've not really been fulling pulled into the forums on goodreads, or chatting on facebook, but twitter is definatly making me want to chat more. I just hope I don't end up rambling!

What do these places all have in common? Like-minded people who enjoy books, that's what. And wherever that is there's bound to be book discussions.

Where do you have yours?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Not the End of the World

Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean
Then that wave. And after.... after.... all that, we were afloat and the rest of the world was.... Well, that wasn't very nice, of course.

C is for Comfort Zone

Where do you like to read?

 I bet you thought this post was going to be about going outside your comfort zone, trying new things! Well I did consider that, but I've made comments about that recently. So I decided instead to talk about where I like to read.

My favourite place to read is sitting curled up in bed. I'm surrounded by my TBR shelves and favourite fiction books. I pull the duvet up and lie on my side, resting my head lightly against the pillow. On a warm day I open the window and listen to the birdsong whilst I read. On a cold day I turn my daylight lamp on full and might even prop myself up so that I can drink a tea or hot chocolate. Its comforting, relaxing. The only problem is that if I stay there too long I'm prone to falling asleep.

And so, for readathons and the like, I tend to sit downstairs on a comfy armchair. I have the patio door open when I can and my computer nearby for all that blogging activity. I'm alone in my thoughts and only disturbed when someone else in the family decides to turn the TV on, or start a conversation with me. Then I retreat back upstairs again.

Sometimes, for a real luxery, I run myself a nice warm bath and settle down amongst the bubble to read. I guess this is my real comfort zone, although its probably the one I use least if all.

One day I plan to make an area in my study for reading. Surrounded by postcards and cards from fellow bookcrossers and postcrossers, I'll sit on a warm rug in my own private world.

Where is your comfort zone?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Eric by Terry Pratchett (A Review)

Eric is the Discworld's only demonology hacker. Pity he's not very good at it. All he wants is his three wishes granted. Nothing fancy: to be immortal, to rule the world and have the most beautiful woman in the world fall madly in love with him. The usual stuff. But instead of a tractable demon, Eric calls up Rincewind, the most incompetent wizard in the universe, and his extremly intractable and hostile travel accessory, the Luggage. With them on his side, Eric's in for a ride through space and time that is bound to make him wish (quite fervently) again- this time that he'd never been born.

My review:
The Discworld novels just get better and better! Ever time I read another one I think- "this is my new favourite!" This was definatly the case for 'Eric'. Extremly funny, dealing with the ideas of messing with time and wishes, 'Eric' is a fantasy book at its best. Rincewind is a pure delight as ever and 'Eric' is a great new character. Terry Practchett manages yet again to poke fun at our own world, whilst revelling in the possibilities of a different one. Reading previousl novels featuring Rincewind is not essential, but may help.

Action Reader's Action: Make a list of 20 things that you are thankful for

Question: If you were granted 3 wishes what would you wish?

B is for BookCrossing

B is for BookCrossing

Those of you who regularly follow my blog will have heard quite a bit about bookcrossing (I even have a page about it), but I recently realised that I haven't really explained why I enjoy bookcrossing.

Is it because it's a good way of clearing bookshelves?
I originally joined bookcrossing to get rid of my old, finished with books. If your disciplined enough about not getting new ones then it is great for this. But this is not why I've stayed with bookcrossing (in-fact I now have many more books than I had before waiting to be read).

Is it because it gives me an excuse to read?
Well, yes, it does do that. I keep thinking, "I need to finish more books, so that I have some to give away". But, then again, do I really need an excuse to read? And, if I did, don't readathons do this anyway.

Is it because it gets me out in the fresh air?
My favourite bookcrossing activity is wild releasing- leaving books for people to find. I love nothing better than a warm day when I can go for a walk, read for a bit, and then release a book on my way home. Bookcrossing encourages me to take my walks in different places, going further afield than I might otherwise. This is because I've found that the more unusual the place where you leave a book, the more likely that the finder will tell you (journal) that they've found said book. I also find that I see a lot more of the world around me when I'm looking for a good release spot (or when I'm on the look out for a book someone else has left).

Is it the friendships I've made?My first real bookcrossing activity was a picnic. Several local bookcrossers met up, had some food together in a park and then went off wild releasing books around the town. All the people were friendly and so have been all the bookcrossers I've met since. Nowadays I love chatting about and swapping books at local meets and unconventions. The unconventions are also a great place to meet authors and discover new areas of England. I also chat with bookcrossers around the world on the forums, and have made contacts with others through rings and rays.

Is it the fact that I never know where my book will travel?
As one the official release labels says, bookcrossing is like a treasure hunt. When a book leaves my possession I love the fact that I can track its journey. I currently have a book sitting with a finder who has promised to take it to Australia. I've had lovely journal entries from people who've loved the surprise of finding a book. And I've had new members join because they love the idea of bookcrossing. But the best time is when a message pops into my inbox from a book I had lost track of- its a wonderful surprise!

The truth is that these are all reasons why I love bookcrossing. Together they make it one of my favourite things to do. And if it sounds like something you'd love to do as well then why not take a look at bookcrossing.com

In the meantime I'd love to hear about your favourite activities and why you love them.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Blogging from A to Z: A is for Audio

Welcome to my first post for Blogging from A to Z.
Theme: As this is a book blog all my posts will be related to reading, books or blogging about books.
For a change, I will actually be scheduling posts ahead of time as I know, otherwise, I'll not be able to commit to making a post every day.

And so, without further ado, here who go:

A is for Audio

I've always had a few audio book in my house, ever since my auntie bought me a few tapes of books I loved. Her intention, and mine, was to listen to them on holiday, when my eyes were simply too tired to read a book, or when I was sharing a room with someone who might not appreciate the light on. My only problem? For some readon they never got opened.

Its not that I didn't love the idea of audio, its just that it never really happened to be the right thing for me. Maybe it was the fact that I had to cart around a series of tapes when one book would do. Maybe it was that  the person reading it might not do as good a job as the voice I had in my head. Or maybe it was that I couldn't check back a few pages easily.

A few months ago I decided to try again. I bought an audio CD- no problems of size or lack of indexing here- and popped it in my car player. I listened to it for several weeks whilst driving. I really enjoyed the voices, the tones and the sound effects. I felt connected with the characters. But I missed a lot of the plot. You see, its hard to concentrate on an audio book when you should be concentrating on driving. (I could have listened to it at home, but my main CD player is in a cluttered  room at the moment, and its just not a nice place to be). I vowed to finish listening to it and then listen again to pick up what I'd missed.

And then it sat there. I decided I wanted to listen to some music for a change. I got it out and tried again, before returning to the music. The result? A half-listened to audio book and a person who only vaguely has an idea of what happened (me).

Is it worth trying again?
I'm not sure. 

Are You Ready to Read The New Testament?

I'd almost forgotten that I'd planned to do this. Every year I try to read the Easter story in all the gospels, but this year I've decided to go one further and sign up to read the whole new Testament. I'm not sure exactly how I'll manage, but I'm going to try to split the NT up so that I can make it all the way through, one day at a time.

For more details of this challenge, or to sign-up to  participate, check out the post at Operation Actually Read Bible
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