Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: June 2012

Saturday, 30 June 2012

A BookCrossing meet

Just returned from a local BookCrossing meet in Oxford. It was great to see many familiar faces and some new ones, swap books, gossip, and have a good meal. An added bonus was that, when releasing books afterwards, we attracted the attention of a employee who seemed really interested in the concept, and in joining any future meetups we had.

I came home with 2 new books to replace the 4 I took, plus 2 new books from WHSmith. All in all a good exhange, me thinks.

Have you had any book meetups recently?

Friday, 29 June 2012

Music Through the Pages Interview & Guest Post Sign Up

I'm looking for authors and bloggers to make this August's 'Through The Pages' a real Summer Special. If you're interested in signing up to be interviewed or post a guest post about how music influences your writing, or any links between music and books, please sign up using the form below:

(Please let me know in the comments if you have any problems filling in this form, and I'll try to rectify them asap)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Leonardo's Chair by John DeSimone (A Review)

Leonardo DaVinci .... some say- left his artistic influence not only on the canvas, but also on a mysterious chair built was his own hands. Whoever sat in Leonardo's chair receives the artist's same ability to paint masterpieces. But with this gift comes a terrible price....

A novel that deals with issues of talent and gifts, the meaning of faith, and learning to be yourself. This was a book that I found hard to put down. The characters were enticing and complex, particularly the main character, Paul LeBont. There was intrigue and love, drama and debate in ideal measures. I truly recommend this book to all who who like a deeper read once in a while.

Action Reader's Action: Complement someone on their talent, especially if it is usually taken for granted.

Have you ever had a talent that you really believed in? What did you do to make your dreams come true?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Announcing 'Music Through The Pages' Summer Special

Throughout August I will be running an event across all my blogs entitled 'Music Through The Pages'.

This 'Summer Special' will be all about the relationship beween books and music and will include:
  • Extracts from books mentioning music
  • Reviews
  • Videos of songs about books
  • Music inspired by specific books
  • A giveaway
  • Daily topics for discussion on your own blogs/in the comments
I'm also planning to have author/blogger interviews and guest posts if I can get enough interest (forms will be available to fill in later this week if you wish to be involved). 
Any other ideas are, of course, always welcome.

The blogs involved will be:

That's all for now, more about this throughout this week.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Wicked Wildfire Readathon: Final Update

Yesterday I managed to read for 2hrs 5mins in total. That brings my overall reading time up to 4hrs 5mins over the four days. My target was more than 2 hrs, so I'm really pleased with doing over doubl my normal reading during the readathon.

How did you do?

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (A Review)

The blurb:
In the beginning was the Word. And th Word was: "Hey, you!" For Brutha the novice is the Chosen One. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants thee Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...

My review:
An hilarious take on what religion and belief really are, yet another Terry Pratchett masterpiece. I particularly loved the character of Om, truly a genius of comedic writing. The only down-side, in my opinion, is that I'd like to see what happens to Omnia after the end of the book- as far as I know there isn't a Discworld story about this. 

Action Reader's Action: Set yourself some predictions for the future. They don't have to be too radical, try to make them challenging but not impossible to achieve. Put a note in your diary to review them at the appropriate time.

Which Discworld god is your favourite?

What rituals govern your everyday life?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Wicked Wildfire Readthon: Day 4 Update

Yesterday I managed to read for 1 hour and finish Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (review up tomorrow hopefully). I'm now reading Leonardo's Chair by John DeSimone and have managed 40 minutes of reading so far today.

What book did you finish last?

Wicked Wildfire Challenge: Party Up Withh Literature

This challenge so fits the theme that I'm planning for blogging in August (more about that next week) that I just had to join in.

The host is A Written Rhapsody

In a comment or post(leave a link), pick a character(s) from your current read and do at least two of the following:
Create a catchy band name for your group of characters or solo artist.
Tell me what genre they would sing.
Find a song and/or lyric that would fit the book and tell me who it’s by and why it fits.
Find a music video that would relate to the book and leave the link.
Create a playlist of three to five songs that would go with your book.

My book is Leonardo's Chair by John Desimone
In my band are Jacob Stein, Tosatti and Duke Frederick of Savoy. The band would be called Righteous Theft.
And this is the song that relates to my book (could also be a great one for them to sing):

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Wicked Wildfire Readathon: Day 3 Update

I've almost finished 'Small Gods' now, (putting me only 16 books behind on my target for reading all the Terry Pratchett books this year). Thhis afternoon I sould have time for a few hours of reading, so hopefully I'll finish the book.

I'm pleased with yesterday's reading. Despite having work, I managed to read for 1h30 minutes in total, 30 minutes longer than my daily target.

Are you participating in any readathons? 
If so, how are you doing?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Wicked Wildfire Readathon Update #1

So, I've almost finished my 2nd day of reading. It's 9pm here on Thursday the 21st, and I'm finally getting to my first update.

Over the last 2 days I've continued to read Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.
On Wednesday I read for 30 minutes.
Today I've read for 45 minutes so far.

That means that I'm just about keeping up with my goal of reading more than 30 minutes per day. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little less busy and I'll get even more done.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wicked Wildfire Readathon Challenge 1

Kindle Fever asked:

“A wildfire is quickly coming your way! What thing/s do you grab when you only have a few minutes to make it out?”
(I’ve saved any people or pets in there already!)

I'd grab my (crate) trolley and fling in as many of my books as I could. They're just too likely to burn and I'd need something to keep my mind occupied whilst my house was rebuilt.

Wicked Wildfire Readathon

I spotted this one just in time.

The Wicked Wildfire Readathon started today (20th June) and finishes on the 24th of June.

You can participate in as many or as few days as you like, but I'm going to go for them all.
My goal, as usual, is to read for more than 30 minutes a day (or more than 2 hours over the 4 days).

Are you participating as well?
Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A Dark Time by Dennis Bradford (A Review)

Storyline info (from the author):
A college student vanishes.  Her worried grandfather asks one of her favorite professors, Max Stephansson, to solve the mystery.  What Max discovers is tragic.  The suspense surrounding her disappearance unfolds to yield insight, but at the cost of danger and death.

My review:
Some really thought-provoking issues wrapped up in an interesting plot. Unfortunatly, I found it hard to imagine Max Stephansson as a real person since his actions did not always seem consistant with how he was described. The descriptive passages were quite long and sometimes got in the way of the progress of the story, as did the philosophical debates. And there were a few American words that I had to work hard to understand.
Having said that, I can see some potential in Dennis Bradford's work, particularly in the way the suspence built up. I think that with the help of a copy editor something could really be made of this book. This author could be one to look out for in the future.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Action Reader's Action: Find out what your local police force does. How can you help them? Suggestions include joining your neighbourhood watch, keeping an eye on vunerable adults in your community, or reporting acts of vandalism.

Have you ever been involved in a mystery? Feel free to share in the comments.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Pick Your Thon Results

First of all, apologies for not updating during the event. Unfortunatly it coincided with preparing for a craft
stall on Saturday, and I just didn't get the chance to come online much at all last week.

Anyway, this update is 'better late than never' as they say.

I read two book during pick-your-thon: A Dark Time by Dennis Bradford and Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. I managed to finish A Dark Time and a review will hopefully be up tomorrow.

I read 179 pages in total during 3.5 hours. Unfortunatly this is only about the same amount of reading than I normally due. Alongside being busy, I just didn't feel like doing the extra reading needed on Saturday.

Hopefully next time I'll manage to do some more reading, and do some challenges as well. I still had a good time though and I'm looking forward to catching up with other people's posts over the next week.

How was your reading or reviewing week?

Friday, 15 June 2012

Communal Reading

Traditionally reading has been thought of as a very solitary occupation. People who read are often thought of as loners, not willing to socialise. But, I wonder, how did this idea come about and is it true?

Well, firstly, if you're reading this blog and considering commenting then you're showing that reading can be social. In fact, to some extent, early reading had to be social. You only have to look to the bible to see that it was once normal to read out loud:
"Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked."
Acts 8 v30 from NIV

This is not surprising, since before written word stories and traditions were handed down by word of mouth. And if you're reading out loud then it can only be a solitary occupation if you're doing it in a room on your own.

This is not naturally how we read! As a child, you will have learnt to read by listening to others. You may have share a story with a parent, guardian, or teaching. And then you will have read it out loud back to them. Of course, there would have come a time when you were asked to read quietly to yourself, but this is a much harder skill and something that is not an ingrained ability.

And yet, many adults (and older children) do spend a lot of time reading alone. I don't know about you, but I can find it very hard to concentrate on a book in a busy place. And reading quietly in a busy place can seen anti-social (although no more than listening to your MP3 player through headphones). Yet, if you were to share your reading out-loud I wonder how many people would truly appreciate it?

Book groups can be a sort of communal reading. Most of them involve people reading the same book and then getting together to discuss it. In this was you may not be 'hearing' the words at exactly the same time but you are sharing the overall experience with others. Goodreads, librarything, and other similar sites also encourage this.

One step further is the possibilities offered by sites such as twitter (and I suppose, in theory Skype or real-world communications could be used this way as well) is for discussion about a book as you read it. This seems to be common for television programmes, so why not books as well?

I guess what I'm saying is that reading can be as social or lone an occupation as you want it to be.
So what do you make of it?

Related posts:
Secret reading 
Looking to Connect with UK Bloggers and Self-Published/Indie Authors
Q is for Quiet

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bookshelf Bliss

What would you like to have as your favourite bookshelf?

How do your current shelves match up to this?

Here are some of my favourites from around Pininterest:

As you can see, they're all quite imaginative and different.

In reality my bookshelves are quite traditional. There are 3 wooden shelves hanging over my bed on brackets. Near my bedhead is beach effect shelving on wheels. Its a long thin unit, split up into 4 'boxes' which you can see all the way through. Then, at the end of my bed (and slightly to the right) is a small black and beech shelving unit which 3 levels. And, finally, near my door is a slightly larger bookcase 4 levels high. Its a bit of a hodge-podge but the colours match perfectly and each fits nicely into a corner or space of my room.

Related posts:
Winter Respite Readathon Mega-Challenge
Creative and unusual bookshelves

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Social Networking: A Blessing or a Hinderance?

A Blessing?
  • I love being able to easily interact with others, in a much faster when than through e-mails or comments.
  • Its really easy to find out interesting things via twitter, or see what's popular at a certain time.
  • Tweets from all your favourite blogs, or people, can be seen at the same time.
  • Tweets are great for getting a quick glimpse of a thought.
  • Social networks are for being social- and its pretty easy to do so.
  • They're great for reaching loads of different people.

A Hinderance?
  • Its all too easy to get distracted from reading or (god forbid) working by tweets
  • Do you really want everyone to know all that you've put on facebook?
  • Why do people seem to think you want to know what they had for breakfast?
  • I seem to be swamped with information about events I can't attend, or giveaways I can't enter

What's your opinion?

Other related posts:
D is for Discussion
Networking Throught The Armchair

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Why I don't enter your giveaways

I'm always up for getting a free book (who isn't), but there are a few things that really put me off entering giveaways:

  1. Reading all the information about a book, falling in love with it, and then discovering that its US only. Please, please, please, let us know what countries can enter as early in the post as possible- it saves a lot of frustration!
  2. Having to be a follower to enter. I'm never sure whether subscribing through google reader counts or not. By all means have it as a optional entry, but please not as a requirement.
  3. Having to buy a book first. If I want to buy the book I will, I don't need a bribe to do it.
  4. If you never post about winners, or you've not sent me a prize in the past that I've won. How do I know you're legit?
  5. When winners are announced only on your blog. I try to keep up with all my google reader posts, but I'm always afraid I might get to the announcement too late

I'm not saying your should, necessarily, change the way you do your giveaways but please understand if I don't enter them.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pick Your Thon Starting Line

I'm taking part in the Pick Your Thon this week. To start, we've been asked to answer a few questions:

1. Which thon are you choosing? Readathon, Reviewathon or both? And why?
I'm doing the readathon, since I'm currently up to date with my reviewing. I've also got about 10 books on my immediate TBR pile at the moment.
2. Where are you from? You can be vague or specific, up to you
3. Say a little bit about yourself so we can get to know you if we don't already! 
What is there to say? Ummm, I like all sorts of books. Also playing music and making tapestries. I collect cacti and stamps. 
4. What are you currently reading or about to pick up to read?
 A Dark Time by Dennis Bradford
5. What are your goals for this Pick Your Thon?
Just to get in as much reading as I can. 

Armchair BEA Giveaway Winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Entry #88 Yael Itamar, who was an Armchair BEA Partcipant
You have been e-mailed and I await your choice of book.  

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Revisiting Ray Bradbury

This is what I had to say about Farenheit 451 when I read it back in June 2011:

Words can hardly express how much I enjoyed this book! From the very beginning I was caught up with the emotions that filled the principle character. I was gripped by the suspense, keen to know what would happen next. I felt that I really understood the people who featured in the book, as if I was a part of their world- I worried about them, felt for them and wanted to help them regain their lives. In fact, it was extremly hard to put this book down. I definatly recommend this book to anyone who feels they might be even remotely interested by its subject matter.

50+ Twitter Followers Giveaway (International)

Wow, you guys are really booster my follower numbers recently!
Now, its the turn of Twitter to celebrate, as I've reached over 50 followers!

As a thankyou, I'm giving away one of 2 Sci-fi/fantasy books (winner can choose which one they want).
This is open internationally, and you do not have to follow to enter (although it would be much appreciated)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 8 June 2012

Armchair BEA: Ask the Experts

This is a hard topic for me. I've certainly learnt quite a bit since starting blogging, but I'm not sure I can consider myself an expert quite yet. So I'm going to use this post to talk about what I've learnt so far, but also to ask you guys for some advice as well.

What I've learnt- my top 10 book blogging tips
  1. Network! Make time to talk to other bloggers on their blogs or through social networking sites. Reply to comments made on your blog. Meet up with readers, bloggers and authors wherever you can in the real world. It'll certainly help you learn a lot and you'll meet lots of new friends as well.
  2. Find youself a niche. I'm still working on this one, but Armchair BEA (and your comments) have certainly helped me think more about this. I think its important because it helps you to stand out in an increasingly busy blogging scene.
  3. Don't be afraid to take a day off. Its good to post every day, bu we all need a rest sometimes. If possible, tell your readers what you're doing and why- it lets them know you care
  4. Schedule posts wherever possible. Its good to have something ready to post just in case the unexpected happens
  5. Link up to old posts. Revisit old ideas and connect them, or let readers know of similar posts they might like. 
  6. Giveaways are great for getting visitors, but you need something else to get them to stay.
  7. Snappy titles are great for getting people to visit your posts, especially if they sound like they could be contraversial.
  8. Make it clear what your post will be about in the first sentence (or so). If its a giveaway, make it clear who will be allowed to enter. If its a meme then link up to the creator's site (or explain what others have to do if you're the creator).
  9. Don't get too hung up by squabbles that may go on around you. Consider the situation, work out your opinion and then decide whether its worth posting  about.
  10. Make your blog your own! The most important thing is that you enjoy what you're doing and it reflects your personality. Have fun!

Ask the experts (that's you!)
However short an amount of time you've been blogging, however small you may consider your blog I'm sure you've learnt something. If so, I'd love to hear what you consider the most important thing you've learnt.
If you don't have a blog then I'd like to know what you think of mine and if you have any tips to improve it. Specifically, I'm interested in the following:
  • What is your top blogging tip?
  • What do you like most about my blog?
  • Is there anything I could do better?
  • I'm thinking of making a niche for myself as a independent/self-published physical book reviewer. Would this interest you?
  • I'm still trying to create some sort of logo. Any ideas? 

Thanks for reading and I hope you've had a great Armchair BEA.  

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Intellivore by Diane Duane (A Review)

The Great Rift lies between the Sagittarius and Orion arms of the galaxy. Stars are scarce there, beyond the auhority of the Federation, and legends abound of lost civilizations and of ancient monsters that prey upon those who dare to venture into the vast darkness beyond the stars.

My review:
I'm always worried about admitting that I like Star Trek books, because some can be stilted with rather predictable plots. This is not  one of those! What I love about this casual read is that when the characters speak it feels so natural that Im actually able to imagine the voices that watchers of the show are so used to. None of the actions seem out of character and its easy to enjoy their adventures. Whilst its true that this is not a great literary work, it is an enjoyable piece of fiction with some thoughful moral questions. Enjoy as a break from the more complex stuff. 

Action Readers Action: Do something to help others in your local community.

What do you think is the most important thing in life?

10+ NetworkedBlog Followers Giveaway (international)

To celebrate getting 10 NetworkedBlog followers (just one of the many ways you can follow this blog) I'm giving away one of a choice of 3 books. This is open to all, with extra entries available for NetworkedBlog followers, and other bloggers.
To enter simple fill in the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Armchair BEA: Beyond My Blog

The main thing that blogging had brought to me is review copies of books, and the author relationships that come with them. I wrote a while ago about finding out about Heidi Ruby Miller through reviewing her book Ambasadora. This really demonstrates the sort of author relationship that I'd like to have, and which I feel I'm starting to have thanks to book blogging.

Of course, actually getting review copies of books is great as well. I really enjoy reading books that others might not have heard about yet, and the excitement of knowing that I might just discover a new up-and-coming author. One of my recent finds was Ray's Ellis' N.H.I., which  really enjoyed- and I'm so looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

My blogging hasn't really sent storms out into the 'real world' (yet), but I'm quite happy sitting at home and blogging away. And its great to know that others out there are reading what I write, alongside writing their own blogs/books. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Networking: In Real Life

I absolutly love meeting up with other readers, and especially book bloggers. Its really interesting to find out what those I've met online are really like. It's a great opportunity to chat about books. Plus, there seems to often be the added incentive of getting new books as well.

Some of my favourite meetings though have been totally by accident. The prior acquiantance who just happens to mention they have a book blog one day, the person who sees you reading and wants to know more, another who sees me releasing a wild book and starts to talk about their favourite author. These are unexpected gems that really brighten up my day, especially when it obviously makes the other person happy to share as well.

I've never really tried to network in real life. I keep thinking that I ought to make business cards for my blog, but somehow I've never got round to it (besides which, would I actually have the nerve to give them out?). I know I ought to mention my blog at book signings, but I'm always too nervous to. Maybe one day I'll manage to do it; in the meantime- any tips?

Other relevant posts:
D is for Discussion
B is for BookCrossing
Crossing a Book Flashmob in Nottingham

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Armchair BEA Giveaway: International

To celebrate Armchair BEA, I'm giving away 1 of my favourite books of all time. Everyone is welcome to enter (its international), but Armchair BEA participants get extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, 4 June 2012

Armchair BEA: Introductions First

Welcome to my first post of Armchair BEA 2012. Apologies for the slightly late start- Jubilee events here in the UK have rather sucked up my blogging time so far.

So, I little about myself:
Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
A. Hi! My name is Abigail and I'm a blogger, but first and foremost I am a reader. An electic reader (and a musician as well)! I've been blogging for about 2 years now. I started blogging because I wanted somewhere to share reviews of the books I'd read with other people. 

Q. Where do you see your blog in five years?
A. Hopefully with an even bigger following, more author interviews, and more reviews of self-published UK books. I'd hope to have sorted myself out so that I can post every day consistently and maybe be hosting a meme or two as well. I'd also like to have some cool new graphics.

Q. Which is your favourite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
A. How Books Can Grow on Trees- I think it summarises all the best things about BookCrossing, and shows my more creative side. 

Q. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
A. I'd like to have dinner with Rincewind from the Discworld series, because anything might happen!

Q. Which literary location would you most like to visit. Why?
A. I'd love to go to New Zealand and visit all the places that they used for the LOTR movies just because they look so stunning. Does this count as literary?

Thanks for reading my replies. 
If you have any other questions you'd like to ask me, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Also, if you leave a link to your own post then I'll try to visit asap. 


Saturday, 2 June 2012

Armchair BEA: The Schedule

I'll be doing Armchair BEA again this year, as its impossible for me to get all the way over the the US for the main BEA event. I'm looking forward to meeting other participants and, as always, if you want me to visit you please leave a comment.

Here's what you can expect from me this coming week:

Monday: Introductions First!
I'll be answering 5 questions about myself and inviting you to leave others in the comments.

Tuesday: Giveaways Everywhere!
I'll be hosting an international giveaway, running through the rest of the week. It'll be open to everyone, but they'll be an extra entry available for those participating in Armchair BEA

Wednesday: Networking...In Real Life?!
I'll be talking about my real life experiences relating to books, and linking up to some of my past posts on the subject

Thursday: Beyond the Blog
I'll be letting you know a little about my life outside of books

Friday: The Future of Book Blogging
I'll be leaving some questions for you to answer about book blogging, and sharing where I hope this blog will go in the future. 

Alongside all this, I'll also be :
  • visiting as many other blogs as possible
  • preparing some future posts for this blog
  • working on some of my other blogs
  • trying to catch up on some of the tips I heard over the Bloggiesta weekend

What will you be doing on your blog this week?

Too tired to read?

Have you ever been too tired to read? Every time it happens to me I just can't believe that its possible. Why, despite the most interesting book lying before my eyes, am I simply unable to resist the sandman's lure after a certain time?

Have you ever had this problem? If so, what do you do to stop it?

Friday, 1 June 2012

10 reasons why I Don't Read E-Books

  1. I do not have an e-book reader
  2. Reading on a screen too much makes my eyes tired
  3. I like being able to read safely in the bath
  4. I hate having electronic devices in my bedroom (one of my favourite places to read).
  5. I like the feel of 'real' books
  6. Its too easy to get self-published electronically
  7. I want to spread the love of physical books
  8. I like to pass books onto other people (something that's harder to do with e-books)
  9. I just don't get the same pleasure reading books on my computer
  10. I've said I don't read e-books in my review policy
So why am I still getting review requests for e-books?
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