Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: February 2013

Monday, 25 February 2013

Music out of the Pages: Singing

Dragonsong by Anne McCarthy

"She had to hear music sometime. She couldn't avoid it forever. And at least she could sing along with the others. But she soon found she couldn't even have that pleasure. Mavi gestured to her when the Harper began to tune his gitar. And when the Harper beckoned for everyone to join in the choruses, Mavi pinched Menolly so hard that she gasped.
          "Don't roar. You may sing softly as befits a girl your age," Mavi said. "Or don't sing at all."
Across the Hall, Sella was singing, not at all accurately and loud enough to be heard in Benden Hold....."

Monday, 18 February 2013

Music Out of The Pages: The Harpist

From Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
He tuned his harp, his beautiful new harp, and watched the rain, tears running down his face and mingling with the drops. 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Hera, Queen of the Gods by T.D. Thomas (A Review)


The Fates are missing.

As queen of the gods, Hera has no choice: she must lead a handful of gods
to the human world to search for the missing goddesses, even though it
means temporarily giving up her divine powers and becoming mortal.

But mortality begins to change Hera in unexpected ways, and it gets much
worse after she meets Justin, a boy who defies every prejudice she once
had about mortals.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16068950-hera-queen-of-gods
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hera-Queen-Goddess-Unbound-ebook/dp/B009LA1U68
Website: http://www.td-thomas.com

My review:
A light read, this book tells a fantastical story set in a very normal context.
The inter-play between the gods and goddesses is very interesting, and draws heavily on Ancient beliefs. The relationships between mortals are realistic, but uncomplex in nature. The way the behaviour and personalities of the characters change throughout the book is intriguing and well narrated. Unfortunatly the monsters are less well-developed and can seem almost artificial against the setting that was already created before they appeared. 
Plot is the driving point behind this book, and much else is left to the imagination. Having said this, it seems natural in the context. Plus, I found it quite enjoyable to fill in emotional and descriptive passages for myself.
Overall, an enjoyable past-paced read for those who love their fantasy. Particular suited to young adults and the young at heart. 

Action Reader's Action: try to see someone in a new way today.

If you could have any one power, what would you choose?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Music Out of the Pages: Communicating through music

"The message drum boomed a repeat, emphasizing again the urgency. Sebell strained his ears for the relay drums at the next point, but a handful of guards quick-stepped down the road towards the Gather and their passing masked the distant sounds."

from Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey

Monday, 11 February 2013

Music Out of The Pages: A sweet soprano

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
She didn't hear the music at first, it was soft, as if Oharan was playing to himself at a nearby table.
"Would you sing along with me, Menolly?" asked Oharan softly, as she looked up to see him taking a place at the table.
Well, no harm in singing. It would help her keep awake until the Masterharper arrived. S she joined in. Beauty and Rocky roused at the sound of her voice, but Rocky went back to sleep after a peevish complaint. Beauty, however, dropped down to Menolly's shoulder, her sweet soprano trill blending with Menolly's voice.
"Do sing another verse, Menolly," said Manora, emerging from the shadows of the darkened cavern. 
She took the chair opposite Menolly, looking weary, but sort of peaceful and pleased. Oharan struck the bridging chords and started the second verse.
"My dear, you have such a restful voice," Manora said when the last chord died away. "Sing me another one and then I'm away."

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Burn by Annie Oldham (A Review)


The Burn is full of nuclear fallout, roving gangs, anarchy, unreliable plumbing. That's what Terra's father tells her. She has lived her whole life in comfort in a colony at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. She hates it. And she would pay any price to leave. But when Terra finally escapes the colony, she finds out her father is right.

She finds a group of survivors that quickly become friends, and every day with them is a race for survival. When she witnesses and commits unspeakable acts, she has to decide where her loyalty lies: with the colony she despises or The Burn, where every day is filled with nightmares.

Buy The Burn

My review:
Setting teenage angst against a radically different backdrop, Annie Oldham managed to convey a new significance to the classic coming-of-age tale. The dystopian world which resulted is close enough to our own for comparison, and yet it has enough new attractions to get the readers' attention.

I loved the character of Terra. She is complex, fiercly independent, and yet vunerable at the same time. The whole story revolves around her in a very natural fashion.

As Terra begins to make a new life her herself, we explore the world along with her. The reader feels part of the story, and I wanted to reach out and help her several times.

This book is a classic dystopia, and yet much more. I throughly look forward to reading more from this author in the future. 

Buy The Burn

Action Reader's Action: Sponsor a child

What would you give up for your ideal life?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Books Within Books: Fairy tales

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
'Well... you;ve read books, I can see. Have you ever read any about children who go to a magical kingdom and have adventures with goblins and so on?'
'Yes, of course,' said Susan, grimly.
'It'd probably be best if you thought along those lines,' said the raven. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
'But... look, there's no wall here, there's just...'
Albert wrenched open a drawer.
'Observe,' he said sharply, 'Hammer, right? Nail, right? Watch.'
He hammered the nail into the air about five feet up at the edge of the tiled area. It hung there.
'Wall,' said Albert.
Susan reached out gingerly and touched the nail. It had a sticky feel, a little like static electricity. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Music Out of The Pages: A Guiness World Record

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman
Deon was an amazing tenor saxophonist with awesome breath control. Lately, he'd been trying to beat the Guiness World Record for holding a single note.
"Oh, right," I said. Remind me. What's the current record?"
"One minute, fifty-three seconds," he replied, "Set last year by Burford the fourth."

Monday, 4 February 2013

Music Out of The Pages: Fantastic harmonies

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
"That was just lovely, Menolly. Oharan? Come over here; Menolly has a new harmony for that one."
"No, no, I couldn't."
"Why not?" demanded T'gellan, and poured a bit more wine in her glass. "A little music would give us all heart. There're faces around here as long as a wet Turn."
Timidly at first, because of the older injunction against singing in front of people, Menolly joined her voice to Harper Oharan's baritone.
"Yes, I like it, Menolly. You've got a sure sense of pitch," said Oharon so approvingly that she started to worry again.
If Yanus knew she was singing at the Weyr... But Yanus wasn't here and he would never know.
"Say, can you harmonize to this one?" And Oharan broke into one of the older ballads, one in which she had always sung a counter-tune against Petiron's melody.
Suddenly there were other voices humming along, softly but surely. Mirrim looked around, stared suspiciously at T'gellan, and then pointed at Beauty.
"She's humming in tune. Menolly, however did you teach her to do that? And the others... some of them are singing too!" Mirrim was wide-eyed with amazement. 
Oharan kept on playing, nodding at Mirrim to be quiet so they could all hear the fire lizards while T'gellan craned his head and cocked his ears, first at Beauty, then at Rocky and Diver and Brownie who were near him. 
"I don't believe it," said T'gellan. 

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
Across the courtyard, young voices broke into a lusty rendition of the Saga previously chanted. The fire lizards rose at the eruption of sound, settling again as Menolly laughingly reassured them.
Then a pure sweet trill from Beauty soared in delicate descant above the apprentices' male voices. Rocky and Diver joined her, wings half-spread as they expanded their lungs for breath. Mimic and Brownie dropped from the window ledge to add their voices. Lazy would not put himself to any such effort, and the two Aunties and blue Uncle were at best indifferent singers, but they listened, heads cocked, jeweled eyes whirling. The five singers rose to their haunches now, their throats thickening, their cheeks swelling as their jaws relaxed to emit the sweet pure notes. Their eyes were half-lidded as they concentrated, as good singers will, to produce the final descant. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Fire lizards

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey:
The fire lizards might understand less than a child three Turns old, but they responded with small cries and flapping wings to any of the dragon songs, as if they appreciated the fact that she was singing about their kin.
There was no doubt in Menolly's mind that these lovely creatures were related to the huge dragons. How she didn't know and didn't really care. But if you treated them them the way weyrmen treated their dragons, the fire lizards resonded. She, in turn, began to understand their moods and needs, and insofar as she was able, supplied them.
They grew quickly, those first days. So quickly that she was hard pressed to keep their mouths full.

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
Menolly opened it, carefully brushing aside the warm sand that covered the precious fire lizard egg. It was harder, but not much more so than when she had given it to the Masterharper at Benden Weyr the prevous evening.
"It's fine, Master Robinton, just fine. And the pot is warm enough too," she said, running her hands down the sides. She replaced the sand and the top and rose. "When we brought the clutch back to Benden Weyr two days ago, Weyrwoman Lessa said it would take a seven-day for them to hatch, so we've five days more."

Would you like to have a fire lizard? Why?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey (A Review)

Menolly -- Mistress of Music, Ward of Fire Lizards

Every two hundred years or so, shimmering threads fall, raining black ruin on Fern. The great dragons of Fern hurl themselves through the beleaguered skies, flaming tongues of fire to destroy deadly Thread and save the planet. It was not Threadfall that made Menolly unhappy. It was her Ether who betrayed her ambition to be a Harper, who thwarted her love of music. Menolly had no choice but to run away. She came upon a group of fire lizards, wild relatives of the fire-breathing dragons. Her music swirled about them; she taught nine to sing, suddenly Menolly was no longer alone.

My review:
I loved this look into the life of a young woman within one part of Pern. It was an interesting departure from the story so far and helped me to consolidate what I knew so far. I particularly liked that we saw events that we already knew about from another viewpoint.

Menolly is an interesting and sweet character. The plot is truly enchanting. All round this is an easy fantasy read.

Different from the other books of Pern that I've read so far and more to my style of reading. 

Action Reader's Action: Use music to brighten up someone's life

Question: If you could have a dragon what would it be like?

Friday, 1 February 2013

Men At Arms by Terry Pratchett (A Review)

A Young Dwarf's Dream

Corporal Carrot has been promoted He's now in charge of the new recruits guarding Ankh-Morpork, Discworld's greatest city, from Barbarian Tribes, Miscellaneous Marauders, unlicensed Thieves, and such. It's a big job, particularly for an adopted dwarf.

But an even bigger job awaits. An ancient document has just revealed that Ankh-Morpork, ruled for decades by Disorganized crime, has a secret sovereign And his name is Carrott...

And so begins the most awesome epic encounter of all time, or at least all afternoon, in which the fate of a city--indeed of the universe itself --depends on a young man's courage, an ancient sword's magic, and a three-legged poodle's bladder.

My review:
One of Terry Pratchett's best, this is full of characters both familiar to Discworld readers and brand new. Trolls and dwarves and particularly predominant, but we learn a lot about inter-species relations in general within Ankh-Morpork. Things are a-changing, but who can bring those changes to order?

Comedy flows from the page with such subtelty that is sometime becomes one with the somewhat complex plot.

Great for those who have already enjoyed Discworld, but relies heavily on previous stories. 


Action Reader's Action: Make an effort to get to know someone outside of your ethnic, religious or social group

Question: What do you think about books in a series? Does it put you off if you're unable to read them in order?

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