Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: December 2011

Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 in First Lines

Hosted by The Indextrious Reader

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

Readathon Update 3

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

Saturday 9: Abigail's Last Stand

Hosted by Saturday 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don't think I'd want to

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

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

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

Readathon Update 2

Hosted by Squeaky Books

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

Friday, 30 December 2011

Readathon Update 1

Hosted by Squeaky Books

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

How books can grow on trees

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

 Also posted on BookCrossing

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

Robin Hoodie by Hans Christian Asbosen (A Review)

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

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

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

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

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (A Review)

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

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

I read this book as a bookcrossing ray

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

Discussion point: What things are you scared of?

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

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

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

This book was passed onto me at a bookcrossing local meetup

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

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

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble (A Review)

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

I read this book as part of a bookcrossing spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bought this book 2nd hand from a charity shop

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

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

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Blogging Break

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

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

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Morello Letters by Duncan McNair (A Review)

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

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

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

Monday, 19 December 2011

Meet Me On Monday: Christmas Edition

Hosted by Never Growing Old

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


1.Wrapping paper or gift bags?

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

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

3.When do you put your tree up?

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

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

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

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

7.Favorite Christmas Movie?
A Muppet Christmas Carol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 9 December 2011

Book Beginnings- 9th December 2011

Hosted by A Few More Pages

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

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Ambasadora winner!

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

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy

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

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

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson (A Review)

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

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

Friday, 2 December 2011

Virtual Advent Tour: Day Two

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

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

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

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

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

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