Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: January 2013

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

New Year Wishes January Update

The first update of how I'm getting on with my New Year Wishes

My 4 blogging 'wishes' 2/4:
  1. To look ahead in my reading to the next month's theme so that I always have something to post - I've had so many books to read for rays or reviews this month that I haven't really done this in January. However, I already have a lot of Febbruary posts scheduled, so I shouldn't make any difference.
  2. To schedule posts in advance so that I have no more than 1 day a week where I miss posting.- I managed this right up until last week. Then I found I didn't have much more to say about new things. Hopefully my already scheduled February posts will put me back up track on this one.
  3. To update my reading challenge progress at least every 2 months. - See yesterday. 
  4. To remember to add a picture and question to my posts. I'm told this a good way of helping you, my readers, to enjoy them just a little bit more. I think I've done this for most posts this month.  

My 3 reading 'wishes' 2/3 on the way:
  1. Never to feel forced to read a certain book, or keep reading until the end of it. - Despite having lots of books I had to read, I've not felt forced to read any of them. 
  2. To complete at least 1 reading challenge (set by myself or others). -I've progressed on one out of 4 of my reading challenge aims (biblical challenge)
  3. To read some more 'Ursula Le Guin' and 'Jasper Fforde' books- I seem to have neglected these recently.- No progress.

My 5 fitness 'wishes' 1/4:
  1. To go to the gym 2 or 3 times each week- Most weeks
  2. To keep a track of when I go to the gym, and my weight loss- I've kept a track of weight loss, but not visits to the gym.
  3. To weigh myself once a week- Done this one.
  4. To keep a range of healthy snacks in the house, and get rid of the chocolate- Chocolate isn't quite gone (but at least I haven't scoffed it all). I have a range of healthy snacks at the ready.
  5. To go walking at least one day in the Easter holidays, and twice in the summer holidays- N/A

My 4 writing 'wishes' 0/4:
  1. To attend my first writing course- it's still booked 
  2. To write a least a paragraph each month- forgot about this one
  3. To write an original character into a story- not yet
  4. To post at least one short story on my writing blog- not yet

My 4 music 'wishes' 2/4:
  1. To do some more conducting- a few training band warmups this month
  2. To perform a horn solo- not yet
  3. To perform a singing solo- not yet
  4. To learn to play the cornet- still practising. I can sort of hit an octave from C now.

Ongoing total: 7/19
 Not bad, I think!

How are you doing on your New Year Resoolutions?  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Reading Challenges January Update

I've been carrying on with some of the challenges I did last year, with a few adaptions to suit my reading habits.

Terry Pratchett Challenge
No progress this month, although I did go to see a production of Dodger- fantastic!

Biblical Challenge
I've finished the bible study using 'Romans for Everyone'. That's the end of my reading Romans.
I now plan to start reading and studying 1&2 Samuel

In addition I promised myself I'd read more Ursula Le Guin and Jasper Fforde books. So far I've not read either of these.

How are you doing on your reading challenges?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Calling Budding Young Authors

Do you live in the UK?
Are you (or are you working with children) under 13?
 Do you like writing?

Then you might be interested in Radio 2s 500 words competition!

How to enter
  • Write a story no more than 500 words long
  • Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/500words/2013/ for more details and where to send your story

The prizes
Basically lots and lots of books. Great for any young reader!

Also, if you're a teacher
You can: 
  • Find resources for story writing at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/500words/2013/
  • Help to judge entries (librarians can do this as well)

Will you be joining in?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A new OBCZ: The First in a Church?

Last Sunday was the first day of my permanent OBCZ. For those who don't know, OBCZ stands for 'Official BookCrossing Zone'. Its a shelf where people can pick up BookCrossing registered books to read and then pass on. They can also leave books they have finished for others to enjoy.

I've been doing a sort-of BookCrossing Zone at our Messy Church  for a while now, but it had become a real chore bringing them back and forth between sessions. Plus, I wanted the books to be enjoyed by all. And so, last Sunday, the All Saints OBCZ was born.

I'm hoping to expand its range out from children's books (secular and religious) to adult Christian books as well. The first adult Christian book was taken from the shelf today, and I'm hoping some of the books will be journalled soon.
So, please wish me all the best for my new venture, and maybe I'll see you there at some point.

Where's your nearest OBCZ?

Monday, 21 January 2013


It's very hard to write about new starts when its snowing. It feels like winter is going on forever, when really it should be spring. Its cold and makes me want to wrap up warm with a book or, even better, just go back to bed.

But it also creates a brand new world of its own. Waking up and looking outside after a snowfall, you're greeted with a totally different view from the night before. Everything seems fresh. All traces of what came before have been obliterated.

What does snow mean to you?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Doorknob Society by MJ Fletcher (Review)


Chloe Masters’ world changes in a heartbeat and all she 
did was touch a doorknob. 
When she was young Chloe’s mother vanished. Wracked 
by feelings of abandonment and anger she lost herself 
traveling with her father’s magic act, where illusions 
were part of her everyday life. Yet everything changes 
when they are pursued by a mysterious man in black out 
to kill her father. Touching a doorknob activates abilities 
she never knew she had and she finds herself thrust into 
a world of ancient societies and secrets.
When her father disappears it is a race against time to 
find answers before she loses what’s left of her family. 
Now Chloe must choose who to trust, the man who will 
do anything for her or the one she can’t stop thinking 

My review:

Full of action, dramatic, and tense, this book is all that you need from a YA read.
I love the character of Chloe Masters and the way she develops during the book. Her friends are just an intriguing, and each is markedly different from the others. The baddies are true baddies, but retain just enough realistic elements to stay believable. 
The plot is thrilling. It starts off like a 'normal' book, but quickly takes turns which take us into a fantastical world of steampunk and magic. The different story elements blend together well and the places created are truly fascinating.
I would throughly recommend this book to anyone who loves action and/or hard-hitting fantasy. 

Action Readers' Action: Pick a campaign and take an action to help it.

If you could have any magical power what would it be, and what would you do with it?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (A Review)

Goodreads Summary:

A strong Christian woman embarks on a radical life experiment—a year of biblical womanhood.

Strong and committed in her faith—but frustrated by the inconsistencies she saw in her evangelical culture’s view of women—Rachel Held Evans became an independent woman. But, intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans had a crazy idea:What if I took “biblical womanhood” literally for a full year? In the next twelve months Rachel:

Wore a scarf over her head to pray
Called her husband “master” and stood on the roadside with a sign that said “Dan is Awesome”
Adopted a computerized baby
Perched on the roof for an afternoon of penance for gossiping
Camped out in her front yard during her period
Visited an Amish schoolhouse, a pig farm in Bolivia, and a Benedictine monastery
Took up baking and knitting
Interviewed a polygamist, a Quiverfull daughter, and a courtship couple
With just the right mixture of humor and insight, Evans takes readers along with her on a lively adventure. In the process she discovers that the journey itself leads her right to the heart of God.

My Review:
This is the story of a most amazing experiment and experience. Thought-provoking (and weird in places), this is a most interesting account of a year in the life of a truly independent woman.
It challenges you to consider the benefits and disadvantages of literal understanding. It makes you wonder how far someone might go in order to delve into the depths of the bible. It teaches you about other cultures and ways of doing things. 
I recommend this book to anyone who wonders what a woman's role in life should be, and Christian women in general.  

Action Reader's Action: Campaign for women's rights either locally or in other countries.

What do you consider a woman's role to be?

Monday, 14 January 2013

New adventures

"That evening he began to wonder why he had continued moving away from hold and Weyr. Of course, it was kind of fun, discovering each new cove and the vast stretches of sandy beach and rocky strand. To be accountable to no one except himself was also a new experience. Now that he had enough to eat and some variety of food, he was enjoying his adventure very much indeed. Why, he'd wager anything he'd set foot on places mp pther person had ever trod. It was exhilarating to be first at something, instead of following others and doing just what every other apprentice had done before him Turn after Turn after Turn."
from Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey

What's the most exciting thing you've ever done?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year Film Reviews

I don't often to film reviews but over Easter I went to see two book-inspired movies, so I thought I'd share my thoughts with you. I tried to take the films as totally seperate entities to the books and, as its a while since I read either of them, I think I managed it for once.

The Hobbit
Dramatic and captivating, this movie really sent time-flying. I was disappointed when it ended.
The opening scene was well-set, linking the movie with events in The Lord of The Rings in-case the audience didn't realise the connection. However, for those if us who did know, it seemed a little repetative.
The best character in the film was Golem- still amazingly realistic; both creepy and pitiful at the same time. I also enjoyed the Orcs and Trolls, although they all seemed a little too similar for my liking. 
There was a lot packed into this film. When one considers that it was originally meant to be the first of two films, its easy to see why the franchise ended it to three in the end. None of the detail seemed unnecessary and it would have been a pity to cut any of it. In fact, in places it could have done with slowing down more in my opinion. 
As good as Lord of The Rings, I'm looking forward to the sequels.

The Life of Pi (3D)
Slow to start, this movie suddenly took off as the main action began. From there on it was am amazing experience, truly taking advantage of the 3D capabilities.
The Tiger was amazingly realistic, it was impossible to tell if it was a real tiger or not throughout the film. The actor playing young Pi was incredibly talented, and was able to persuade the audience of the possibility of the impossible (with one exception).
Filled with theological and religious metaphors, The Life of Pi was thought-provoking throughout. Its story could be taken on many levels and so is suitable for a wide variety of people. There were a few graphic sections though that young children might be unconfortable with.
The film rounded off very well, bringing all the threads of the tale together. A must-see (and I'd particularly recommend seeing it in 3D).

What book-inspired films have you seen recently?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey (A Review)

Goodreads Summary:

When his boy soprano voice begins to change, Piemur is drafted by Masterharper Robinton to help with political work and is sent on missions that lead him into unusual and sometimes dangerous adventures.

I loved the way this story focussed on one individual and his development. However, I felt as if it was too far removed fro the earlier stories on Pern in places.
The relationship between Piemur and the other characters was very interesting and complex. I particularly liked to hear about his interactions with Menolly.
The world of Pern seems more realistic in this book, and is less of an escape from life. However, it still stands well on its own too feet and is quite different from our own.
A good book to read, but probably not McCaffrey's best. 

Action Reader's Action Zone: Take up a musical instrument, or support someone else to do so.

What instrument would you like to play?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New haircut

"So, when did you change your hair? It's different to the pictures Sam's shown me."
Bella immediately grabbed her neck and stroked the line of hair that flicked across it. "A few years ago now. I'm still not sure about it."
"It looks great. I bet you were nervous, though, right?"
"I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my life," Bella said, laughing. "It's stupid how crazy we get over hair, isn't it? I needed a change, though. Life's good at the minute, I guess I wanted to welcome it with a new look."
"Nice," said Keira, once again tipping her cup towards Bella. "It's good to ruffle some feathers every now and then."
Beyond Parallel by Matthew Turner

What would you ideal haircut be like?

Monday, 7 January 2013

Why I love books about the future

They say that space is the final frontier, but I guess I look at the future that way as well. After all, you can't reall cross into the future, you just sort of get there; and then its no longer the future, but the present instead.

No-one can truly predict the future. They've been plenty of guesses though, often with hilarious results and ocasionally with amazingly accurate ideas. For me, everytime I pick up a future-predicting fiction I wonder which option it'l turn out to be 50 or so years from now.

With the most inspiring books I really begin to picture the world as it could be. And, unlike science fiction about other planets, you know that it might just be true.

When I pick up a dystopian novel I want to be slightly scared that it might just happen. When I hear of a future society I want to consider whether I would like it there or not.

What sort of books do you love and why?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Leaving Home

Bella leaned on her hand and pondered her mother's tainted smile. She knew she would soon leave, as would her sister, too. It dawned on her how alone her mother was. "I'm worried about her," she whispered to Clark.
"You're Mum? Why?"
"She hadn't been alone for over twenty years. First my dad left, then I did, and next it's Claire's turn. I don't know wat she'll do when we all leave."
"She'll probably enjoy the peace and quiet-"
Beyond Parallel by Matthew Turner

What was leaving home like for you?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Moving House

"...Can you believe six months ago, we randomly thought about New York, and here we are, living in the best city in the world. It's surreal."
"It has been a crazy few months, hasn't it?..."
Beyond Parallel by Matthew Turner

What was your last house move like?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Save Creation Theatre!

On Boxing Day I was lucky enough to attend a fantasic performance of Aladdin. It was the fourth Creation Theatre production I have attended and they've all been fantastic. But, despite the consistantly brilliant shows they give, Creation Theatre is in crisis. Thanks to terrible weather last summer, they have to raise £50,000 by the end of the financial year if they are to survive.

Here's what Daily Info had to say about their lates production:
"Creative Creation has done it – again. Creation Theatre never goes for the simple approach; its pantomimes are never mainstream. They don’t follow the tired old formula: “Oh yes they do; oh no they don’t” formula and fairy godmothers cannot be guaranteed, but that is what makes them so interesting.”
…There are quite a few musical numbers, a couple are ballads but most are funny and upbeat and all the cast were capable singers. Anna O’Loughlin, the Ring Jinnee, brought a bit of the circus to the theatre with her high level antics – far more magical than the high wire in the big touring circuses. A thumbs up for this from husband and son.”

If you'd like to help, then please do one of the following:

And I look forward to seeing some of you at Creation's Summer Production.

Have you ever been to a Creation Theatre show?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year Wishes

Last year I decided not to make any New Year Resolutions, short of a few reading challenges. 

This year I've decided that it might be a good idea to make a few New Year Wishes, that I can see if I've completed at the end of the year. 

Why not resolutions? Because resolutions suggest that I have to keep them, and that doing so is meant to be hard work. Wishes sounds less challenging, less like goal setting, and more celebratory should I achieve them. Plus, whilst I need to try my best that doesn't have to be hard.

So here are my 4 blogging 'wishes':

  1. To look ahead in my reading to the next month's theme so that I always have something to post.
  2. To schedule posts in advance so that I have no more than 1 day a week where I miss posting.
  3. To update my reading challenge progress at least every 2 months.
  4. To remember to add a picture and question to my posts. I'm told this a good way of helping you, my readers, to enjoy them just a little bit more.

My 3 reading 'wishes':
  1. Never to feel forced to read a certain book, or keep reading until the end of it. 
  2. To complete at least 1 reading challenge (set by myself or others).
  3. To read some more 'Ursual Le Guin' and 'Jasper Fforde' books- I seem to have neglected these recently.

My 5 fitness 'wishes':
  1. To go to the gym 2 or 3 times each week.
  2. To keep a track of when I go to the gym, and my weight loss.
  3. To weigh myself once a week.
  4. To keep a range of healthy snacks in the house, and get rid of the chocolate.
  5. To go walking at least one day in the Easter holidays, and twice in the summer holidays. 

My 4 writing 'wishes':
  1. To attend my first writing course. 
  2. To write a least a paragraph each month.
  3. To write an original character into a story.
  4. To post at least one short story on my writing blog.

My 4 music 'wishes':
  1. To do some more conducting.
  2. To perform a horn solo.
  3. To perform a singing solo.
  4. To learn to play the cornet.

 Wow, I didn't realise how much I wanted to achieve. Wish me luck.

What are your New Year Wishes?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Beginning Brave New World

Welcome to my Brave New World

Throughout January I'll be focusing on visions of the future.

These might come from science fiction,
or other books.

They might be about New Years Resolutions
or new starts. 

As usual, I would love it if you would join me. 
You can post in the comments.
Or you might like to write a guest post (contact me if this interests you).

Would would be your Brave New World?

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