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BookLikes

World's #1 Blog Platform designed for book bloggers, reviewers, writers - all Book Lovers. Your Reading Life. Redesigned. 

3 ways to put quotes in the spotlight on your blog

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts

one might have beautifully expressed...

Marlene Dietrich

If you're a fan of quotes too let's have a look at several ways to highlight the precious words on your book blog.

 

1. Write a quote post

This type of post is one among five visible on the wooden bar on the top of your Dashboard. The quote post let you publish a quotation with a source and /or a book cover, you can also mark it as a review and add tags.

 

 

2. Add a blockquote in your text

In order to highlight the the words you cherish the most, make them stand out in your review or text post. Just mark the words and click the quotation mark on the top border of the editor box and the quote will receive a central placing in your writing. You can switch on/off the blockquote option for the paragraph any time.

 

 

3. Use the Quote Widget

If you've recently published a quote you adore make it more visible by using the quote widget. You can use the widget on your BookLikes blog page as well as on any other webpage you have.

 

To create a widget with your most recent quote post go to Goodies/Widgets (the main menu -> Goodies -> Widgets), find the Quote Widget spot, adjust the widget if necessary and copy the code.

 

 

If you wish to add the widget to your BookLikes blog, paste the code in the Widget Area in the customization tab (follow the instruction under the widget), and if you want to add it to your other page, just copy/paste the widget code into your other website's code.

 

 

 

What's your favorite quote? We think that the following ones are very powerful and worth remembering:

 

You are your best thing

Beloved, Toni Morrison

 

We were the people who were not in the papers.

We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print.

It gave us more freedom. 

We lived in the gaps between the stories.

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

 

P.S.

Let's share book love!

February was all about love, book love. But let's face it, in book lover's world the book affection lasts 24/7 all year long. If you've missed BookLikes bloggers book love stories, here is your chance to sneek peek into the pieces once again. Read all readers' testimonies and get the insights of book bloggers' reading preferences and favorite genres.

 

We'd love to read your Book Love Story! Tell the world why you love reading books and we'll be more than happy to spread the word, feature and interview you on the BookLikes blog! Remember to add why I love tag to your post :) continue reading

Let's share book love!

 

February was all about love, book love. But let's face it, in book lover's world the book affection lasts 24/7 all year long. If you've missed BookLikes bloggers book love stories, here is your chance to sneek peek into the pieces once again. Read all readers' testimonies and get the insights of book bloggers' reading preferences and favorite genres.

 

We'd love to read your Book Love Story!

Tell the world why you love reading books and we'll be more than happy to spread the word, feature and interview you on the BookLikes blog!

Remember to add why I love tag to your post :)

 

Why I love fantasy books#1 Book Love Story: Why I love fantasy books

A guest post by YouKneeK

Anybody who has followed me for more than, say, a week could tell you that I love science fiction and fantasy books. Of those two genres, fantasy is my favorite. Unlike many fantasy readers who could regale you with tales of their childhood favorites that inspired a lifelong love of fantasy, I didn’t get addicted until my early twenties. It all started with a computer game called Betrayal at Krondor. It was a role-playing game in which the text was actually written like a book, and the player feels like a character in that book.  I loved the game and wanted more.  When I learned that it was based on a series of books by some guy named Raymond E. Feist, I decided to try them. I started reading Magician: Apprentice, and I’ve been hooked ever since... read more

 

#2 Book Love Story: Why I love horror books

A guest post by Charlene from Char's Horror Corner

When I was young, there were very few children in my neighborhood, so I spent a lot of my time reading. The Bookmobile would come around once a week and I would check out as many books as I could hold. Back then, (only allowed to check out children's and young adult books), it was Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Conan Doyle that tickled my fancy. Poe-especially. I remember reading his story The Black Cat and getting a delicious case of the shivers-and so my love of horror was born!... read more

 

#3 Book Love Story: Why I love non-fiction books

A guest post by Mike from Book Thoughts

I am very excited to have a chance to share my passion for reading history with you all. I have had a life-long love of history, and grew up in a house where my father spent all of his free time either reading or talking about history.  I have always been fascinated about the past, and my childhood experience led to what is now a career reading and teaching history.

I have taught history at the high school and community college level for 15 years and my love for history has only grown during that time.  Too many adults think back to their history classes when they were in school and remember being bored and having to memorize facts and dates.  History is so much more than that!  To understand where we came from and how the world we live in was created by those who came before us is fascinating... read more

 

#4 Book Love Story: Why I Love Comic Books and Graphic Novels

A guest post by Grimlock ♥ Vision

I remember was first introduced to comic books by one of my first boyfriends, whom I indulged. It was, by the way, the death of our relationship: he took me the store, and reluctantly handed me She-Hulk I dumped him within a week, hoarding my own stack of X-Men. He probably looked at the comics, looked at me, and asked, ‘But why?’ He underestimated me, and I couldn't abide by that. It killed the relationship, but struck up a life long love of comics. I’ve always loved books as well as movies and TV, so the cinematic flair of the visual aspects combined with storytelling just works for me in comics... read more

 

#5 Book Love Story: Why I love historical fiction

A guest post by Susanna from SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady

I love historical fiction. I love it in so many of its forms, from fictionalized biographies of long-dead monarchs, to stories about "normal people" of the past, to historical mysteries, time travel stories, and historical romances.

Why do I love historical fiction? I read in order to be taken on a trip to places I would otherwise never visit, and historical fiction is the gateway to the past.  And I love and am interested in the past - I trained as a historian.

I confess I can be a bit picky about historical fiction. There is nothing more likely to take me out of the flow of a book I'm enjoying than to run headlong into a "fact" that's wrong.   My next reaction is undoubtedly going to be "well, if they got that wrong, what else did they get wrong that I didn't catch?"  But good historical novel can give you a feel for another time and place in great ways.  You can feel like you've been there yourself... read more

 

#6 Book Love Story: Why I love romance books

A guest post by Cat's Books: Romance

I unabashedly love Romance Novels.

I love them as at the center of the best ones are optimism, human connection, and feminism. The Happily Ever After promise allows the reader to explore very dark themes at times wit the knowledge that there will be hope and love no matter what. 

Because the main stay of romance is the find of a partner, the question of how to build a lasting connection and all the psychological l complexity of that quests shapes every romance. Most every romance is female centered. Female desire and viewpoints control the narrative... read more

 

#7 Book Love Story: Why I love writing books

A guest post by Ned Hayes

Storytelling is a calling: we manufacture meaning out of events through the act of storymaking. After all, the human experience doesn’t really make sense on a day to day basis. Story is a fabric laid transparent over the bumps and bricks of random occurrence, a map showing the past and the future. It is as if we weave a web of story, from inside ourselves, like a spider, and live in it, and call it world.

I believe that story is in fact all powerful in our lives. To be truly human is to tell stories. Without stories – without that rhythm of beginning, middle, and end, without that hopefulness of meaning being given by seeing the pattern of a story – I believe that we become less than human. I believe that storytelling is what makes us human. We are homo storytelli or homo sinificans, the storytelling creature... read more

 

Let's share book love!

WHEE!!! It's time for bookish goodies for bookish people!
Take part in this lovely project where book lovers swap book boxes full of lovely gifts perfect for anyone who heart books.

Swing Into Spring Swap!

Reblogged from Jessica (HDB):

 

It's here! The next swap is here!

 

If you've been eyeing our group, waiting to participate, now is the time! We're celebrating all things Spring in this book box swap, and I'm really excited about it!

 

(If you couldn't already tell by all the exclamation points.)

 

More info here.

Draft your blog post like a pro

 

We've recently published how to blog about books in several different ways showing that a book review isn't the only possible post format for your book blog. But do you know other options available on your BookLikes blog?

 

Let's start with Drafts.

 

Sometimes it's reasonable to write, take a deep breath and let the text rest. When you come back to your review or article after several hours, you may be stunned how accurate or inaccurate you were in your first version. Regardless of how well you did, the most important thing is to find your texts saved as Drafts as quickly as you can -- the literary inspiration can be ephemeral and may fade away really fast.

 

To view your Drafts, click Blog on the upper menu and go to the right column. Click Drafts and voila. All you texts saved as drafts are here.

 

 

To edit the text, click Edit in the upper right corner of the post, make all the necessary changes, adjust the post date and save to publish online.

 

If you're still not sure whether the text is done, you can save it as draft again and again. Now you know that your texts are safe and sound and easy accessible anytime.

 

 

Mass Post Editor

 

The mass editor is also visible on your admin blog page:

 

If you have number of posts saved as drafts, use the mass editor -- it will save your time by showing you texts with the exact post status you're looking for: published, draft or scheduled to publish.

 

 

You can also use the mass editor as your table of contents and find past writings by searching via the publication date, post types or tags.

 

 

Preview and Save options

 

Remember that the post's look is different on Dashboard view and on your public BookLikes page (e.g. username.booklikes.com). To make sure that your text and photos look awesome in both views, use the Preview option and have a glance how it looks on your public blog page.

 

 

Handy tip:

If you're using the Draft option regularly, use the "back to edit after saving changes" option to make sure that none of your sentence slips away because of the browser time out. When editing your draft, tick the box and click Save as draft every several minutes. You'll stay in the edit mode and your text will be safe.

 

Please mind that if you press Post, the text will go online and you'll be still in the edit mode. That's why we recommend using the "back to edit after saving changes" option for your draft works.

 

Look back at the February books

 

Two months checked. Ten more to go. How did you do in the shortest month of your 2017 reading challenge? Have a look at BookLikes bloggers February bookish summaries and see if you've read all February books.

 

If you've missed the January wrap up post, don't worry, you can check it here: January wrap-ups!

 

 

The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

Another great month by the numbers, but in context, there were a lot of short books again this month.  I'm trying to get my TBR pile down quickly by going for the low-hanging fruit.

So 27 books read in February, and I've been good about updating my book editions with the correct page numbers, so I know I've read 5,024 pages this month... continue reading

 

Martyr - Rory Clements Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters For the Most Beautiful - Emily Hauser The Splendour Falls - Susanna Kearsley
Nobody is more surprised than I am at my start to the reading year. After the way I finished 2016, I thought for sure 2017 was going to be the same struggle. Fortunately I have found some excellent new authors and characters to keep me motivated to read in 2017. February was another month of discoveries and fantastic reading. 

I did not quite meet all of my set February goals but considering I had less reading time, I think I still did pretty well... continue reading

 

Hometown - Luke Walker Fatale Deluxe Edition Volume 2 (Fatale DLX Ed Hc) - Elizabeth Breitweiser, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips Gilded Cage - Vic James Of Foster Homes and Flies - Chad Lutzke

My reading has slowed down a bit this month, due to some health issues in my family. Also, I'm in the midst of a few books that seem like they'll never end!

Graphic Novels

Fatale Deluxe Edition: Volume 2

Incognito: Volume 2 Bad Influences 

Both of these were written and drawn by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, respectively... continue reading

 

Forged in Desire (The Protectors) - Brenda Jackson House of Silence - Sarah Barthel Pachinko - Min Jin Lee
I only read three books in the month of February. I had such great ambitions to get through my tbr. February I participated in the hashtag #readsoullit started by Dee @browngirlreading on Youtube, Twitter and Instagram. I didn't participate in the challenge, but did post books by black authors for the 28 days on Instagram and Twitter. It was great fun and I loved seeing all the post from the participants.

 

Also, I continued with my goal of downsizing my life. In January I donated over 200 books to The Book Den, culled my kitchen and bathroom cabinets, removed unwanted and unworn clothes and shoes from my closet... continue reading

 

 

If you've missed a February wrap up, have a look at the following BookLikes book bloggers posts and feel invited to read and join :)

If we did not mention you in the list below, please feel free to let us now in the comment section below and we'll add your piece up right away.

 

February Wrap-Up by Line Bookaholic ->

February 2017 Report by Irresponsible Reader ->

Books I Read This Month (February 2017) by Obsidian Blue ->

February Wrap-up by Lora's Rants and Reviews ->

February 2017-- A Wrap Up by Midu Reads

February Read Roundup by Whiskey in the Jar Romance ->

February 2017 Wrap Up by Tea, Rain, Book ->

Angel’s Monthly Wrap Up – February 2017 by Angel's Guilty Pleasures

February Wrap-up by Bark's Book Nonsense ->

February Recap 2017 by Nothing better than a good book...->

6 ways to blog about books

 

Book blogging is awesome and it's even more fun if you can blog about books in different ways. The book reviews are great, they give you a full insight into the read and present the core information. But you can give a book shout out in several different ways. Here are 5 more that are worth checking and trying out on your book blog

 

On BookLikes you can use 5 different post styles from the wooden bar on the top of your Dashboard. To write a given post, click a desirable section and you'll be moved to an editor -- each post type has got a different template and will stand out on your Dashboard and on your BookLikes blog page.

 

 

Have a look at the specific blog types in more details and choose the one that best fits you and your writings.

 

#1 Book review

 

This is the main book blogging format used by the majority of book bloggers. On BookLikes you can write a book review from number of places, just click the book cover and then +Post.

 

 

You can also write directly from your Dashboard, click Tex from the wooden bar and you'll be moved to a general text editor. 

 

 

To mark a text as a review make sure to check the Review box on the right and add the rating stars. Here's how the final outcome will look like on your blog (the look will vary according to the blog design):

 

via nicky2910's book reviews

 

If you've missed our recent posts about all the book review places and BookLikes tips, please have a look here:

 

#2 Several books review

 

Reviewing several books at once is not a standard procedure but it's handy when reviewing a book series or doing a monthly reading summary. On BookLikes you can add up to 10 books to your single post. Just use the search box and add all the titles you wish to cover in your review.

 

 

The final version of this kind of post can look like this:

 

via Midu Reads

 

 

#3 Quote

 

Sharing book quotes from your favorite titles is spreading word and what's a better praise for a book? The special post format makes the quote stand out both on your Dashboard and in the blog view.

 

 

 

via Bookloving author and publisher Bookloving author and publisher

 

 

#4 Photo

 

Book blogging is not always about reviewing, it's also about sharing fun pics enhancing the book love and promoting new books.

 

via Angels With Attitude Book Reviews

 

via Buchelli's Booklikes Blog

 

You can upload up to 10 images in one photo post. The photo post can be connected with a book or books.

 

 

 

#5 Video

 

If you're a book tuber, feel free to add your video reviews and if you prefer to share book related mini movies, please do. We love them! Adding the video is super easy on BookLikes, all you need to do it  add the URL or the embed code and voila! You can connect the vide with a book if you wish.

 

 

Here are couple of videos that made our day:

via Libromancer's Apprentice

 

via Yodamom Finds her Force

 

 

#6 URL

You can use your BookLikes page as a companion to your other webpages and another way of sharing your reviews and news. The URL post type can link to your other webpage or an article you found interesting and worth sharing.

 

 

Here's an example:

via markk

 

Which blog post type is your favorite?

 

A-Z ways to arrange your bookshelf

 

Let's say it loud, a bookshelf in book lover's life isn't only a space to collect books. It's a space to show your reading personality, it's a place to praise your sweethearts. Your bookshelf is You. The way you arrange your bookshelf tells a lot about you.

 

BookLikes bookshelf also offers a set of features which allows you to present your bookish personality with your book collection.

 

 

5 Bookshelf personality types

- what kind of reader are you?

 

1. Alphabetized bookshelf - you're well organized, up to date, never late and always right. Classy reader.

 

pic via

 

2. Color oriented - you're an artistic type with a bright and energetic personality, you love doing DIY, never bored, full of ideas and plans to be engaged in. Happy hippie reader.

 

pic via

 

3. Author sorted - you like meeting new people and getting to know them a little bit better, you're open minded but confident of your stand. Smart reader.

 

pic via

 

4. Genre listed - you're an adventurous type with many buddies around, always on the go, ready to hit the road without a specific plan. Extrovert reader.

 

pic via

 

5. No order - you're a mess but in a positive sense. You're carte blanche, introvert personality, you're emotional but at the same time you keep a poker face. Mystery reader.

 

pic via

 

 

BookLikes bookshelf know-how

 

BookLikes is a place where you can not only start your book blog and review books but also present your book collection in the most desirable way. The following bookshelf description is a reminder of numerous shelf options available on your shelf page on BookLikes.

 

To add a book to your bookshelf, please click any book cover in the service and press +Shelf.

 

 

Here you have the fast shelving options:

I - choose a reading status

II - select a thematic shelf, can be accompanied with a reading status;

III - add a new thematic shelf

IV - show advanced shelving options

 

If you select option IV (+Shelf advanced) the bigger pop up will appear with additional options to choose from:

 

 

A. Read / Planning / Currently - choose a reading status if you haven't done this in the fast shelving view 

 

B. Progress - set your progress with accordance to the book edition (paper book/pages; e-books get % and audiobook/minutes)

 

C. Set dates - add reading dates (the dates when you start and finish the book) to make the book count to your Reading challenge

 

D. Edit shelves - add new one or choose from the ones you have (note: deleting the thematic shelf will not delete the books from your shelf page)

 

E. Edit exclusive statuses - add your own reading status if Read, Planning and Currently aren't enough (e.g. New, DNF)

 

F. How do you feel about this? - show your bookish feelings with emoticons :)

 

G. Other options - use these tick boxes to mark a title as your favorite, add to to your wishlist or mark as private (it will be visible only to you)

 

H. Private notes - view or add a private note (visible only to you) concerning this very title

 

I - click Save and go explore more BookLikes, or Save and write a review to go to the text editor page

 

The Read status has two more options:

 

 

J. Rating - add rating stars, including half stars!

K. Dates - add reading dates, including re-read dates!

 

 

OK. Filling up the bookshelf page with my favorite titles was easy-peasy. What to do next? First you should answer the question which reading personality type are you, decide how you'd like to arrange your books and then read the following section with the Shelf page options on BookLikes. 

 

 

1. Add a new thematic shelf - a new thematic shelf will be added to your shelf page; you can also set it as status, then it will be added under other statuses: Read, Planning to read and Currently reading.

 

2. A Shelf search - search your shelf, type title or author;

 

3. Sort option for your books - choose how to view your books;

 

4. Your private notes - find books with your private notes; the book with a private note receives a little dot under the cover;

 

5. Shelve it!  - a feature that helps you shelving new books from other webpages, move the Shelve it icon to your bookmark bar and click when visiting a book pages of Amazon and other booksellers;

 

6 and 7 - Cover view and Table view for your Shelf - choose which one suits you better;

 

8 - Shelf Settings - a gateway to manage your shelves, statuses and sorting options, have a look at available options below. 

 

 Shelf settings:

 

 

There's quite a lot of things to do in here:

 

a. add shelf -  add a new shelf, or set the shelf as an exclusive status;

 

b. choose the default shelves order - alphabetical or manual (then you can decide how to order your thematic shelves);

 

c. shelf Page view - the cover view or the table view for your admin shelf page; 

 

d. books order - how books on your shelf should be presented (this is how you and your blog guest will see the books on your shelf);

 

e. visible columns - chose which columns should be visible in your table view

 

f. rename - change the name of your thematic shelf;

 

g. position - if you wish to set your shelves manually, you can choose theirs positions (write number or use the drag and drop);

 

h. set an existing shelf as an exclusive status;

 

i. delete the shelf.

 

Remember to Save all the changes in the particular sections to make all the updates visible on your Shelf page. 

 

If you choose to view the table view of your shelf page,

here's what you get:

 

 

i. select one or several books, this will activate the option on the top of the table view ( see: k, l, m);

 

j. select all the books - you can select all the books visible on this shelf page;

 

k. add to shelves - add selected book(s) to your thematic shelf/shelves;

 

l. take books off the selected shelf - choose a thematic shelf, select the books and take them off the chosen shelf; the books will stay on your Shelf Page, only the shelves they are on will be changed;

 

m. delete books from your shelf - select book(s) and delete them from your shelf page; even if you delete the books from the Shelf, the review attached to this book will remain on your blog;

 

n. choose how many books per page in the table view to see;

 

o. sort options; cover - see book without a cover and add missing images to green books; Title/Author - alphabetical order; Ratings - according to your rating stars; My review - books with/without a review; Date Read - finished reading date;

 

p. add rating stars to your books;

 

q. add review, see review or edit review; the options depend whether the review is attached or not; 

 

r. edit shelves for a given book - move or add the book to your thematic shelves;

 

s. add the finished reading date - remember that only books with filled up Read Date count to your reading challenge; 

 

t. delete a book from your shelf;

 

u. change an edition - choose other book edition to be presented on your shelf page.

 

 

This shelf compendium covers many shelving issues, if you have any doubts or questions, please let us know in the comment section below or mail us directly.

 

10 blankets to curl up under with a book

Since we know you love reading on a comfy couch, we bet these lovely bookish blankets will come in handy. Curl up, grab a book and create your own 24/7 cozy reading nook. Which one would be your pick for a reading night?

 

Feel free to post books of your choice that would make a perfect match for these blankets :)

 

1. Library Book Shelves Throw Blanket

For those who love showing the book spines of the book series.

 

Try it with Red Queen series:

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard Glass Sword (Red Queen) - Victoria Aveyard King's Cage (Red Queen) - Victoria Aveyard  

         

 

2. Big Books, Pajamas,Quiet, Wine Blue Throw Blanket

For those who love saying a weekend statement loud and clear.

 

Let's read these big books under it:

Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell  The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas  Jane Eyre - Q.D. Leavis,Charlotte Brontë  

          

 

3. Bibliobules Definite Fleece Blanket

For those who read too much. Wait, what?!?

 

More books to read underneath:

All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders The Light Between Oceans: A Novel - M.L. Stedman The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) - Maggie Stiefvater

        

 

4. Mermaid tail blanket

For those who'd like to feel a little bit of magic.

 

This one calls for the siren stories:

Siren - Tricia Rayburn Of Poseidon - Anna Banks Elegy - Amanda Hocking

           

 

5. Sleeved blanket

For those who love reading in bed. And in gloves...

 

These gloves are perfect for the crime stories:

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel - Alan Bradley The Trespasser: A Novel - Tana French Fool Me Once - Harlan Coben

         

.

6. Bedtime stories blanket

For those whose TBR pile has just ended. That really happens?

 

Let's read 2017 releases under  it:

Carve the Mark - Veronica Roth The Winds of Winter - George R.R. Martin Caraval - Stephanie G. Garber

         

 

7. Arm-knitted throw blanket

For all those who love romantic books and huge cozy blankets.

 

Some lovely stories ready to be read:

The Help - Kathryn Stockett Me Before You - Jojo Moyes The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

        

 

8. Personalized love story blanket

For those who love reading in a duet.

 

Let's get emotional with those letters:

Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald - F. Scott Fitzgerald,Zelda Fitzgerald,Jackson R. Bryer,Cathy W. Barks Jane Austen's Letters - Deirdre Le Faye,Jane Austen 84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff

         

 

9. Grande punto blanket.

For those who love grande punto. Looks so chic, stylish and comfy!

 

Let's stay classy with these books:

Fifty Dresses That Changed the World - Design Museum,Michael Czerwinski Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution - Caroline Weber Royal Style: A History of Aristocratic Fashion Icons - Luise Wackerl

         

 

10. Book baby blanket.

For those who plan on passing a book love gene to their children.

 

Literary bites for big and small book lovers:

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White,Garth Williams,Rosemary Wells The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss A Little Princess and the Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

         

 

P.S. The headline photo is a Read a book blanket

Book Love Story: Why I love writing books

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. So far we've read about book love from the reader's perspective but let's change that with the last story in our project. It's high time to look at the storytelling from the writer's point of view. We've invited author Ned Hayes to present his book love story.

 

*

 

A guest post by Ned Hayes

 

 

Storytelling as a Calling: A Book Love blog post

 

by Ned Hayes



          Storytelling is a calling: we manufacture meaning out of events through the act of storymaking. After all, the human experience doesn’t really make sense on a day to day basis. Story is a fabric laid transparent over the bumps and bricks of random occurrence, a map showing the past and the future. It is as if we weave a web of story, from inside ourselves, like a spider, and live in it, and call it world.

         I believe that story is in fact all powerful in our lives. To be truly human is to tell stories. Without stories – without that rhythm of beginning, middle, and end, without that hopefulness of meaning being given by seeing the pattern of a story – I believe that we become less than human. I believe that storytelling is what makes us human. We are homo storytelli or homo sinificans, the storytelling creature.

         This idea of the importance of storytelling was first brought to my attention by the wonderful little book The Dark Interval: towards a theology of story, by John Dominic Crossan. The critic Frank Kermode also wrote a book called The Genesis of Secrecy: on the interpretation of narrative that made an early impact on me. And finally, Annie Dillard’s book Living by Fiction also influenced my ideas about what was possible in fiction.

 

The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story - John Dominic Crossan The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (Chas Eliot Norton Lecture) - Frank Kermode Living by Fiction - Annie Dillard

 

          Today, I write stories because they give me a way to make sense of the world. The world is a complex place, so I don’t restrict myself to one genre or one style. I’ve now written three novels that have ranged across the spectrum of storytelling, from mystery to historical fiction to young adult literary fiction.

 

The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes Sinful Folk - Ned Hayes,Nikki McClure Coeur d'Alene Waters Preview - Ned Hayes  

 

          In telling stories, I can also help others to also make sense of this often-confusing and often frustrating world as well. The web I weave can be of use to many people. I’ve discovered this to be true most recently through talking to readers of my bestselling novel The Eagle Tree. In this novel, a young boy on the autistic spectrum wrestles to bring together his disintegrating family as he strives to climb an old growth tree. He is trying to make sense of his reality, and in this poignant and difficult story, he finds a great meaning and purpose for his life.

          I thought The Eagle Tree  was a unique and unusual story. Yet what I’ve been happily surprised by is that many readers have written me to tell me that I successfully captured part of their story of life on the autistic spectrum. They have said to me that I have “told their story” or that my story “helped to show that my son’s life makes sense.” I’ve also been told by other readers that the difficulty of interacting with a family member who has development or neurological differences are described with authenticity and with compassion. They found meaning this book as well. My small words helped to give hope to their experience and made their stories matter. The Eagle Tree  is a story that brought meaning to their lives.

        Yet along with authenticity, there’s one other duty that novelists have: Entertainment.

          “The first duty of the novelist is to entertain,” says Donna Tart, the bestselling author of the smash hit The Goldfinch and The Secret History. “It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying.”

 

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt The Secret History - Donna Tartt The Little Friend - Donna Tartt

 

          Entertainment = storytelling as a moral duty. We have the deep and meaningful charge to write something that’s entertaining. We are not allowed to tell a boring or meaningless story. Our stories must be interesting, must be inventive, must – in the end – be entertaining to our readers.

          Entertainment sometimes gets a bad rap. People think it’s a waste of time. Yet entertainment need not be shallow. Storytelling as entertainment doesn’t need to be meaningless. We don’t have to create something false like The Transformers – because a story like The Hunger Games  or 1984  is equally entertaining, yet contains deeper truths and gives insight along with its momentum. Entertainment means delivering a tale that can lift us out of our present reality and give us a vision of something beyond our mundane reality. A good story tells the truth, and carries us along on a tide of hope and insight.

          This is why I like to read fantasy, horror and science-fiction. These genres don’t hide their attempts to entertain: these types of books wear their badges of entertainment on their sleeves, plain for all to see. Even the covers of these books communicate their intent, with their spaceships and unicorns and fantastic sorceries. Some of my favorite fantastical and horrific stories include John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy, The Ritual  by Adam Nevill, and Tim Power’s The Stress of Her Regard.

 

Paradise Lost - John Leonard,John Milton The Ritual - Adam Nevill The Stress of Her Regard - Tim Powers

 

          In the science-fiction realm, I also have special favorites. Some of the stories I admire the most in these areas include The Sheep Look Up, by John Brunner, Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler, and Downbelow Station  by C.J. Cherryh and of course, many books by Ursula Le Guin, most notably The Left Hand of Darkness.

 

The Sheep Look Up - John Brunner Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler Downbelow Station - C.J. Cherryh The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

 

          All the books I’ve named above provide wonderful entertainment while providing deeper insight. Yet the charge we bear to entertain goes beyond the simple affectations of fantasy and spaceships. As storytellers, we have a moral charge to give our readers a removal from the world, an escape hatch into a new way of thinking. Even literary fiction must entertain – it must deliver some insight and tale that lifts the quotidian events of our lives into a higher mythical and hyper-realistic realm. The story must move us.

          I found this truth brought home to me when I wrote my second novel Sinful Folk. The famous literary agent Jenny Bent read the first draft and told me “This is beautiful writing, but there’s not enough real storytelling here.” So over the course of one year after I received Ms. Bent’s feedback, I rewrote the entire book to bring my characters from just a land of beautiful (yet un-entertaining) prose into a story that was worth the telling. To learn how to tell an entertaining piece of historical fantasy, I went back and re-read some of the masters of historical fiction, especially those who wrote about the medieval period.

          The books that most influenced my approach to historical storytelling included Morality Play by Barry Unsworth, Ella March Chase’s The Virgin Queen's Daughter, Brenda Vantrease’s The Illuminator, Kathryn Le Veque’s The Warrior Poet  and Karen Maitland’s The Owl Killers.

 

Morality Play - Barry Unsworth The Virgin Queen's Daughter - Ella March Chase The Illuminator - Brenda Rickman Vantrease

The Warrior Poet - Kathryn Le Veque The Owl Killers - Karen Maitland

 

          The story that I re-wrote as the novel Sinful Folk  was finally published. It had become a heartfelt and harrowing tale that moved my main character – a fourteenth century woman – from a place of peril and heartbreak through great danger until she achieved the heights of power and privilege. My character changed over the course of the novel, transforming from fearful subterfuge into a driven, motivated heroine who conquered the High Court of England. I changed the book into a real story. And when Sinful Folk was finally published, it was described by New York Times bestselling author Brenda Vantrease herself as a “A pilgrim tale worthy of Chaucer, delivered by a master storyteller” and received starred reviews in BookList, BookNote and many other publications.

          In fact, all of the authors I list above -- whose work I read as inspiration – ended up endorsing the novel Sinful Folk (with the exception of Barry Unsworth, who had unfortunately passed away just before I published my novel).

 

          I think this love of authentic tales that entertain goes back to my childhood, when I found myself alone much of the time. And alone with only a good book to read. So books became my companions and my friends. Donna Tartt points out that “Books are written by the alone for the alone.” C.S. Lewis said “I read to know that I am not alone.” This is true of every reader. We read to connect with other human perspectives, to know those voices and embrace those souls. We also read to be accompanied by other voices in our solitary trek through time.

          When I was a child, the books that brought me companionship included Mischief in Fez by Eleanor Hoffman, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings  and finally, a story I’ve re-read many times – the deep and meaningful Watership Down, by Richard Adams.

 

Mischief in Fez - Eleanor Hoffmann,Fritz Eichenberg A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien Watership Down - Richard Adams

 

         Hoffman’s work brought me into other worlds, and showed me possibilities beyond my ken. Le Guin demonstrated the power of brevity in telling a fascinating tale, while Tolkien showed that fantasy could tell deeper truths, even while being tremendously entertaining. Adams continues to show me – every time I read him – that deep and powerful stories lie all around us, even in the lives of rabbits and seagulls, and that all we have to do is pay attention. The web of story surrounds us: all we have to do is open our eyes. Today, the tales told in these stories still resound in my dreams, and still are echoed in the books I write today.

         Finally, for anyone who is interested in telling a story, it’s important to note that listening to a story is how you become a story-teller yourself.

          I believe that to tell stories, we must read stories. Writers are readers. Therefore, I recommend anyone who wishes to write first become an avid reader. Read a book a month, a book a week, even a book a day. Become a reader, and you will be well equipped to be a writer. And you will never be alone as long as you have books and the tales within them.

 

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And what's your book love story? Join our project, write your story, publish it on your BookLikes blog and tag with why I love tag so we could find it and share it. You can also add the link to your book love stories in the comment section below.

 

Dear BookLikers, writers and readers, thank you so much for participating in this amazing project. Presenting all those stories to You and about You was a fascinating time and we hope that you've enjoyed the book love story week as much as we did.

 

We're looking forward to creating more projects as such -- so, who's in? :)

Book Love Story: Why I love romance books

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about romance books. We're happy to welcome Cat's Books: Romance on BookLikes blog. 

 

Watch out for the last Book Love Story on BookLikes blog tomorrow!

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A guest post by Cat's Books: Romance

 

 

I unabashedly love Romance Novels.

 

I love them as at the center of the best ones are optimism, human connection, and feminism. The Happily Ever After promise allows the reader to explore very dark themes at times wit the knowledge that there will be hope and love no matter what. 

 

Because the main stay of romance is the find of a partner, the question of how to build a lasting connection and all the psychological l complexity of that quests shapes every romance. Most every romance is female centered. Female desire and viewpoints control the narrative.  

 

The genre is vast spanning  from science fiction, fantasy, new adult, young adult, contemporary, paranormal, historical, comedy, erotic, and eventing new sub genres all the time. 

 

In Romance, we can see the changing of social norms and the critical effort to see and explore through character and the lens of love hate and discrimination in all its forms while loving the body in all its diversity and sexuality which houses us all. 

 

At its best, the genre leads the way and it has a heck of a lot of fun at the same time. 

 

Here are some great love stories,  you should try.

Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole: Historical Interracial Romance set during the Civll Rights Era

Kulti by Mariana Zapata:   Contemporary Slow Burn Soccer Romance

To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt: Historical  Plain Heroine and with a Hero with PTSD

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison: Paranormal Dragon Shifter Hero and Thief Heroine

Kulti - Mariana Zapata Let It Shine - Alyssa B. Cole To Seduce a Sinner - Elizabeth Hoyt Dragon Bound - Thea Harrison

 

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Watch out for the last Book Love Story on BookLikes blog tomorrow! If you'd like to join, please do! Write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it. 

Book Love Story: Why I love historical fiction

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about historical fiction. We're happy to welcome Susanna from SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady on BookLikes blog.

 

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A guest post by Susanna from SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady

 

I love historical fiction. I love it in so many of its forms, from fictionalized biographies of long-dead monarchs, to stories about "normal people" of the past, to historical mysteries, time travel stories, and historical romances.

 

Why do I love historical fiction? I read in order to be taken on a trip to places I would otherwise never visit, and historical fiction is the gateway to the past.  And I love and am interested in the past - I trained as a historian.

 

I confess I can be a bit picky about historical fiction. There is nothing more likely to take me out of the flow of a book I'm enjoying than to run headlong into a "fact" that's wrong.   My next reaction is undoubtedly going to be "well, if they got that wrong, what else did they get wrong that I didn't catch?"  But good historical novel can give you a feel for another time and place in great ways.  You can feel like you've been there yourself.

 

I have been in love with historical fiction ever since I was a child, and my mother gave me Esther Forbes' Johnny Tremain  or Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse.  These books took me on trips to the birth of the American Revolution, and to a remote valley in 1830s England. The stars of these shows were always children, of course, because they were also children's literature.

 

Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge

 

When I was a little older, she gave me YA novels like A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, E.L. Konigsburg's fictionalized biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Since YA mostly didn't exist then, she also gave me novels written for adults that she thought I might enjoy. These included, I remember, both Mary Renault's The King Must Die and Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels, which led to trips to ancient Greece and to the battle of Gettysburg.

 

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver - E.L. Konigsburg The King Must Die - Mary Renault The Killer Angels - Michael Shaara

 

She also gave me novels by Georgette Heyer - my first regency romances - and introduced me to the "Williamsburg novels" of Elswyth Thane.  Heyer has never been out of print, but Thane's novels can be hard to find these days, as they are long out of print.

 

Yes, I have always loved historical fiction.

 

What historical novels might be a good place to start, if you've never read much of the genre before?

 

Well, if you love, for example, contemporary mysteries or romances, you might do well to pick a historical mystery or romance - there are plenty of both.  If you like science fiction, you might try a time travel story.  There are several types of story that are historical fiction mixed with another genre - if you like that other genre, you might want to start there.

 

Or perhaps you can pick a period and place that sounds interesting to you, and start there.  Some settings are more popular than others - if you want to read stories about ancient Rome or Tudor England, you're in great shape.  Other settings may be less popular, but can certainly supply great reads - 1600s Japan is not a common setting (in English, anyway), but is the setting for James Clavell's terrific Shogun.

 

But let me make a few more specific recommendations, of historical novels I adore.  Maybe you will love some of them, too.

 

Gary Corby's books about Nicolaos, the only private investigator in Pericles' Athens, and often featuring his annoying younger brother, Socrates, are a fun read.  They begin with The Pericles Commission.

 

Colleen McCullough's The Masters of Rome series, which starts with The First Man in Rome, tells the tale of the fall of the Roman Republic, from the conflict of Marius and Sulla, through Julius Caesar vs. Pompey, and the tale of Augustus, Mark Antony, and Cleopatra.  Note: McCullough adores Julius Caesar to the point of hero-worship.

 

Shogun: A Novel of Japan - James Clavell The Pericles Commission - Gary Corby The First Man in Rome - Colleen McCullough

 

Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Claudius the God are the purported autobiography of Rome's st-st-stuttering fourth emperor, the Emperor Claudius, who was found cowering behind a curtain after the murder of his nephew, Caligula.  But mostly it's a wonderful tale of murder and mayhem and madness in the imperial family, and most of all, of Augustus' poisonous (in more ways than one) wife, Livia.

 

I, Claudius - Robert Graves Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina - Robert Graves

 

Lindsay Davis' The Course of Honor is the tale of the Emperor Vespasian, and his long love affair with Caenis, a slave in the imperial household.

 

Ellis Peters wrote many tales of Brother Cadfael - I'm not so fond of the first, but the second, One Corpse Too Many, is a great introduction to the series, set in the 1100s in Shrewsbury, England.

 

Maurice Druon's Cursed Kings series, which starts with The Iron King, tells the tale of the fall of France's Capet kings, and the start of the Hundred Years War.

 

Connie Willis' Doomsday Book  is a pair of stories - one of a historian from 2060 Oxford's time machine project, set to research the 1300s, and the other of her colleagues in 2060, who realize that they've accidentally sent her to the wrong time and place - and they aren't sure they can get her back.

 

The Course of Honor - Lindsey Davis One Corpse Too Many (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 2) - Ellis Peters The Iron King - Maurice Druon Doomsday Book - Connie Willis

 

Anya Seton's Katherine is a fictionalized biography of Katherine Swynford, Geoffrey Chaucer's sister-in-law, and third wife of John of Gaunt.  Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt are the ancestors of the modern British royal family.  A tale of romance, adultery, murder, plague, and rebellion.

 

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are the first two volumes of a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's great minister. These cover the collapse of Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon, and the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. These might be easier to follow if you know the general outline of what happened to the wives of Henry VIII.

 

C.J. Sansom's wonderful Shardlake novels are the best historical mysteries I have ever read.  Matthew Shardlake is a hunchbacked Tudor lawyer, and when we meet him in Dissolution, it's 1537 and he's working for Thomas Cromwell, dissolving monasteries. Cromwell sends him down to investigate a doomed (and frozen) monastery in Sussex.  The previous investigator was murdered there.

 

Katherine - Anya Seton Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel Dissolution - C.J. Sansom

 

Judith Rock's The Rhetoric of Death  is the first of several fine historical mysteries about Jesuits and the ballet, in the Paris of Louis XIV.

 

Lisa See's Peony in Love is a strange tale from 1600s China, told by an Angry Ghost.

 

Daphne du Maurier's The Glass Blowers is the tale of her own family during the French Revolution.

 

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell is a strange and lovely mixture of historical fiction about the Napoleonic wars, and fantasy about the return of magic to the land.  Take my advice and don't get involved with The Man With the Thistle-Down Hair, or his seelie court.

 

A.S. Byatt's Possession tells two stories - one of two Victorian poets, and another of the English professors who research them in the 1980s.  There is a great deal of faux Victorian poetry, as well as a fanatical American collector, and a spot of grave robbing.

 

Elswyth Thane's Yankee Stranger tells the story of the American Civil War, through the eyes of the members of two intermarried Virginia families, the Spragues and the Days, and those of Eden Day's fiance, a Yankee reporter.

 

The Rhetoric of Death - Judith Rock Peony in Love - Lisa See Yankee Stranger - Elswyth Thane Possession - A.S. Byatt

 

Geraldine Brooks tells a very different story of the Civil War in March - the story of the father of the sisters in Little Women.  He has a very different war from the accounts he sends home to his wife and daughters.

 

Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun is the tale of New Jersey's first female sheriff's deputy, and how she got the job. 

 

Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice is the first of her dozen or so Mary Russell novels.  In 1915, the teen-aged Mary Russell, disguised as a boy, is wandering the Suffolk downs, and encounters a bad-tempered man hunting bees - his name is Sherlock Holmes.  This book is the story of her apprenticeship in detection, and of their first big case.  If you're picky about Sherlock Holmes, you might want to give this series a pass.

 

R.F. Delderfield's To Serve Them All My Days tells the tale of David Powlett-Jones, a Welsh miner's son, a shattered man invalided out of World War I, who goes to teach history at a Bamfylde, a remote boy's school.

 

March - Geraldine Brooks Girl Waits with Gun - Amy Stewart The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R. King To Serve Them All My Days - R.F. Delderfield

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Watch out for more Book Love Stories on BookLikes blog this week! If you'd like to join, please do! Write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it. 

Book Love Story: Why I Love Comic Books and Graphic Novels

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about comic books and graphic novels. We're happy to welcome Grimlock ♥ Vision on BookLikes blog. 

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A guest post by Grimlock ♥ Vision

 

I remember was first introduced to comic books by one of my first boyfriends, whom I indulged. It was, by the way, the death of our relationship: he took me the store, and reluctantly handed me She-Hulk I dumped him within a week, hoarding my own stack of X-Men. He probably looked at the comics, looked at me, and asked, ‘But why?’ He underestimated me, and I couldn't abide by that. It killed the relationship, but struck up a life long love of comics. I’ve always loved books as well as movies and TV, so the cinematic flair of the visual aspects combined with storytelling just works for me in comics. 

 

Let me break down the difference between comic books and graphic novels.  Comics are shorter, come out monthly, and are stapled together, and thus have a more magazine like look and feel to them.   Most graphic novels combine issues into a more book-like format with a spine: four to six issues tend to be fairly standard, although I’ve seen both shorter and longer graphic novels as well as original graphic novels. Comics are usually slightly more expensive than their bound counterparts, although if you’re into digital reading, I highly suggest Comixology. You can find many, many sales as well as  a collection of free comics

 

Finally, please let  it be noted: I don’t know everything about comics.  I tend to specialize.  I will get into one character, or writer, or franchise and focus heavily on that.   Marvel was my introduction, it’s been the publisher I’ve been most heavily invested in - emotionally and monetarily - and is my primary love.  

 

I'm going to recommend some comics by publisher. 

 

Marvel: 

 

Wolverine, and the X-Men, were some of my first Marvel hits.  Claremont's runs are always excellent. Morrison’s New X-Men run is superb, relatively newer work.  For classic Wolverine, I’d suggest Weapon X, which tells of how he got the metal in his bones.  Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men is a must read (as is his Doctor Strange.)   If you like your Wolverine a little more girl-powered, try Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine, which focuses on Wolverine's clone, Laura Kinney.   

 

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga - Chris Claremont,John Byrne New X-Men Omnibus - Grant Morrison,Marc Silvestri,Chris Bachalo,John Paul Leon,Frank Quitely,Leinil Francis Yu,Igor Kordey,Ethan Van Sciver,Keron Grant,Tom Derenick,Phil Jimenez Doctor Strange Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird - Jason Aaron,Chris Bachalo All-New Wolverine Vol. 1: The Four Sisters - Tom Taylor,David López

 

I love the All-New Ghost Rider, as seen on Agents of SHIELD.  But I loved him before he hit the small screens, from his first appearance in All-New Ghost Rider.   He was a little more diverse, the car is super hot, and I loved the mastery of how he became the Ghost Rider.  His new series Ghost Rider is a little less impressive to me, but it’s only a couple issues in so I’m giving it more of a chance. 

 

Right now, though, my focuses are on three characters: Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans, Vision and his daughter Viv, and Deadpool. 

 

I’ll start with Black Bolt. The Inhumans were created when the Kree, aliens looking for living weapons, experimented on a small population of humans.   When they come of age in their society, they’re exposed to the Terrigen mists in a process called Terrigenesis. This brings their latent powers, which are varied, to the fore. Black Bolt was experimented on when he was in the fetus and was born more powerful than the average Inhuman.   I love Black Bolt for a couple reasons. The power that comes from his voice makes it impossible for him to use it at all.  If he speaks, he destroys his home and those he loves, reminding me of the blind seer trope from the Greek myths I loved as a child. Except at one point, he declares war by literally saying that one word.  Everything before him explodes, making a strong statement about the power of words  In addition, the restraint that he shows in training himself not to make a sound even when he sleeps is something that draws me to his character.   

 

Marvel Knights: The Inhumans - Paul Jenkins,Jae Lee  For Black Bolt, I would suggest starting with Paul Jenkins’ Inhumans, then moving right on to Charles Soules’ Inhuman, followed by his dual series All-New Inhumans and Uncanny Inhumans.   Inhumans vs. X-Men is a well thought out crossover, in which characters are paired up perfectly.   If you want to see Black Bolt speak, give the alternate universe Attilan Rising a try.  Three new Inhuman series are slated for this year: Black Bolt, The Royals and Secret Warriors.

 

Vision is a no brainer as he's my sex appeal in the Marvel universe. Vision is a synthezoid, which means is that he has organs, but they are’t organic. Ultron created him to take down the Avengers, and he joined them instead. He can control his density, and become insubstantial enough to walk through things in his way, or let them pass through him, or increase his weight to hit back hard. He’s also portrayed by Paul Bettany  in the new Marvel movies. 

 

Vision has a lot of solid older stories, but I’m going to focus on the ones I love the most: the newer ones. Vision had his own series written by Tom King.  It’s heartbreaking and all too human and one of the best things I’ve read ever.  It sadly only lasted twelve issues, and I reread this as a buddy read whenever the opportunity arises.   As for him as an Avenger, he was in the second series of Uncanny Avengers which I adored. I also loved what was done in All-New, All-Different Avengers, as well in the new Avengers, both written by Mark Waid.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Rage of Ultron, which focused not only on Ultron, but his relationship with his father, Hank Pym, and his son, Vision.  It’s lushly illustrated and I’ve read it twice.

 

Vision Vol. 1: Little Worse Than A Man (Vision (2015-)) - Mike Del Mundo,Gabriel Hernandez Walta,Tom King Uncanny Avengers Vol. 1: Counter-Evolutionary - Daniel Acuña,Rick Remender All-New, All-Different Avengers Vol. 1: The Magnificent Seven - Mark Waid,Adam Kubert,Mahmud Asrar Avengers: Rage of Ultron - Rick Remender,Jerome Opena,Pepe Larraz,Mark Morales

 

Viv, his daughter, is much like both her father and her mother, Virginia.  She shows up in Vision as well as the new Champions series, alongside Ms. Marvel, who is another much beloved character. I highly recommend Champions, not only because I’m interested in both Vision and Viv.   It’s a powerful statement about the modern world, the problems it faces, and the way that they help women being terrorized by Islamic radicals is incredibly empowering - and touching. 

 

Deadpool?   I’m not getting lazy on this.  I’ve just put in a lot of work, and someone called this the most helpful post they’ve ever read about getting into a comic book series, so I feel like I can post this here: Where to Start with Deadpool

 

I’d add that he becomes an Avenger in the third Uncanny Avengers series, which I really enjoyed as well.    

 

Another note: Marvel has Kamala Khan, a Muslim American hero, has a lady Thor, a black Captain America, and has Ta-Nehisi Coates writing The Black Panther and Roxanne Gay co-writing Black Panther: World of Wakanda.  (Coates is her co-author.) Moon Girl is the smartest character in the universe - and a black girl.  They’ve also had transgender characters, a gay marriage, a lesbian couple who raised Miss America - and Miss America is also a lesbian. Prodigy has come out as bisexual.  Angela by Marguerite Bennet featuring the trans woman Sera, are both highly recommended. (So Angela: Asgard’s Assasin, 1602: Witch Hunter Angela, and Angela Queen of Hel.  And of course her work on A-Force, the all-women version of the Avengers.)  Basically?   Marvel is doing a lot for diversity right now, including hiring more diversely. I should note that the woman who writes Ms. Marvel is a convert to the Muslim religion which gives her series a lot of little moments that feel incredibly real.

 

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal - G. Willow Wilson,Adrian Alphona Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder - Russell Dauterman,Jason Aaron Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates,Brian Stelfreeze Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur - Amy Reeder,Brandon Montclare,Natacha Bustos

Angela: Asgard's Assassin Vol. 1: Priceless (Angela: Asgard's Assasin) - Kieron Gillen 1602 Witch Hunter Angela (1602 Witch Hunter/Siege) - Marvel Comics Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous - G. Willow Wilson,Takeshi Miyazawa,Adrian Alphona,Nico Leon,Cliff Chiang

 

 

DC: 

 

So I am a recent DC convert. I’m not going to go over this character by character; I don’t have the kind of knowledge to do that.  I’m going to suggest my favorites and tell you why I love them, but then I’m going to let others, who might be more knowledgable, speak up if they so choose. 

 

Batgirl: 

 

Start with Batgirl from Burnside. She’s strong, smart, and confident, and I love both the writing and the art.  I should also mention  that it’s illustrated by a woman, so I felt that the art itself was more real in that it didn’t put women in impossible poses that would break their backs if they tried actually standing that way. The creative team wasn’t intact for Rebirth and I’m such a fan of them together, I didn’t follow.

 

Batman: Hush: 

 

Love, love, love this series.   The artwork by Jim Lee is superb and the storyline is tense and paranoid and incredibly tight.   

 

Wonder Woman by Perez: 

 

I’ve slacked and haven’t quite finished all the comics I have.   I do love what I read: Wonder Woman is pure of heart, innocent, maybe even a little naive in some ways, but also incredibly strong and even beautiful.   She also looks like she has some weight: she has a little meat on her bones, and that made her more appealing to me, as did the fact that she tried to talk first and fight as a last resort.

 

Preacher: 

 

Wrong in all the right ways and the basis for the new AMC TV show.   It touches upon religion a lot and I can easily see someone thinking of this as blasphemous.  If you're okay with that, violence, drinking, drugs, and just all kinds of wrongness in fiction, though, it's a compelling read that asks a lot of big, hard questions without handing you the reader pat answers. 

 

Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside (The New 52) - Babs Tarr,Brenden Fletcher,Cameron Stewart Batman: Hush - Scott A. Williams,Jeph Loeb,Jim Lee Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Gods and Mortals - Bruce Patterson,Greg Potter,Len Wein,George Pérez Preacher, Book One - Garth Ennis,Steve Dillon

 

The original Suicide Squad:

 

I’m talking John Ostrander.   His wife, Kim Yale, co-penned many stories and they created Oracle after the Killing Joke disabled Barbara Gordon.   It also tapped into the current political clime and made statements about them, as well as giving Amanda Waller a compelling backstory and making her an incredibly strong black woman.

 

I'd also suggest anything Ostrander wrote on Deadshot.   

 

Death in the Family: 

 

The brutal death of Jason Todd, aka Robin, at the hands of the Joker. Brutal and effective, making me feel for a character I’d just come to know.   Another heartbreaking, but worthwhile read. 

 

Rebirth: 

 

The new Rebirth event was lauded, as it spawned so many series that the fans adored. I don’t read that many, but I do read the new Batman by Tom King of Vision fame, Cyborg, the new Suicide Squad, and Blue Beetle. I love them all.   

 

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire - Luke McDonnell,John Ostrander Batman: A Death in the Family - Mike DeCarlo,Jim Starlin,Jim Aparo Batman #1: Batman Day Special Edition (2016) (Batman (2016-)) - Tom King,David Finch Blue Beetle (2016-) #1 - Keith Giffen,Jr., Romulo Fajardo,Scott Kolins

 

Midnighter/Midnighter and Apollo

 

Midnighter is a pastiche of Batman, with Apollo as the pastiche of Superman, they’re also the ‘World’s Finest Couple.’  Steven Orlando’s take on Midnighter wasn’t just ultra-violent - any incarnation of him should be. It was also full of heart and humor and even warmth. It got cancelled but lived on in Orlando's current Midnighter and Apollo mini-series that I’m also loving.

 

Red Tornado is similar to Vision and I love him. I’ve read a lot of Young Justice with him, as well as The Tornado’s Path, but he’s sorely underused.   I also fell in love with the Trinity of Sin, because I adored The Question’s angst filled backstory, but he hasn’t really been seen since.   

 

Also, DC’s new Dr. Fate is of Egyptian descent, and my sister loves the way they handle the mentally ill in general: put them in an asylum where they try to help them, instead of killing them, or imprisoning them like the Inhumans do with Maximus. (Athough their treatment of mental health in Moon Knight is spectacular and the Scarlet Witch, who has been dealing with trauma and PTSD, was deftly handled.  Same with Jen Walters in Hulk.) They haven’t allowed Batwoman, who is a lesbian, to marry her girlfriend stating that they don’t believe their heroes should be happy.  Red Tornado married his wife and they adopted a child, though, and Superman is currently raising a child with Lois Lane, so I feel that they didn’t think that out completely, though. Still, they have some representation and are getting better about it in general in my opinion.

 

Justice League of America, Vol. 1: The Tornado's Path - Brad Meltzer,Damon Lindelof,Ed Benes Trinity of Sin #1 - J.M. DeMatteis Doctor Fate (2015-) #1 - Paul Levitz,Sonny Liew Moon Knight (2016-) #1 - Greg Smallwood,Jeff Lemire

 

IDW: 

 

I’m going to put this out here: I love IDW for their media franchises. The Buffy series they’ve done - continuing it beyond season seven in comic format - utilizes many screenwriters from the series and is overseen by Joss Whedon himself. Their work on Transformers is just stunning. I mostly read them for tie-ins. They do good work outside of that, too, but nothing that compels me quite as much as the franchise work they do. 

 

Transformers:

 

My favorite series are those written by Roberts, who wrote a fan novel that I also adored.   Furman used to be my favorite Transformers scribe. And this isn’t a slight: his work is fun, exciting and in character. Barber’s Robots in Disguise and Roberts More Than Meets the Eye were just better than Furman's runs. MTMtE in particular is transcendent, tackling sexuality, politics, religion, philosophy, and anything else you can throw at the series.   It does so deftly and with so much humor that it makes me laugh out loud with every single issue.  And again, this is not a slight to Barber, who ended up writing the Doctor Strange/Punisher crossover that I loved. Barber simply isn’t quite Roberts.   Which is daunting: Roberts is nuanced, and foreshadows years ahead. You think a panel is just funny and two years later, you read something that makes you go back and go ‘oh, that’s why that was there.’   

 

Transformers: Maximum Dinobots (Transformers (Idw)) - Simon Furman,Nick Roche,Marcelo Matere Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Volume 1 - Nick Roche,Alex Milne,James Roberts,John Barber Doctor Strange/Punisher: Magic Bullets Infinite Comic #1 (of 8) - John Barber Transformers: Robots in Disguise Volume 1 (Transformers (Idw)) - John Barber,Andrew Griffith

 

The most frustrating thing about this is that no one takes a Transformers comic seriously. And it very much is, despite the humor and warmth. I was talking about Whirl, who is one of my favorite characters and Jessica wanted to know more about him. I sent her two Whirl heavy issues via Comixology - and got her hooked on both series.   

 

IDW had a crossover event called Revolution that I, full disclosure, hated. It meshed certain series, like Transformers and GI Joe and ROM, and made it so they had what they called a ‘shared universe.’ What this means is they share the same fictional universe now and IDW doesn’t have to come up with convoluted reasons why Transformers are in a GI Joe comic. RiD and MTMtE were cancelled, although Barber is writing Optimus Prime and Roberts is writing Lost Light. I love LL and am less in love with OP. 

 

Buffy: 

 

Astounding. It feels very much like the series and the artwork is some of the best that I’ve seen that is based on real people. There’s also Angel and Faith, that continues with, well, Angel and Faith. It’s also superb, as is there Spike mini-series. 

 

Edward Scissorhands: 

 

This manages to be as adorable, insightful, and odd as the original movie. Just a beautiful, hopeful story that is good for any age!

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Volume 1 - Georges Jeanty,Cliff Richards,Paul Lee,Joss Whedon,Brian K. Vaughan  Edward Scissorhands Volume 1: Parts Unknown - Kate Leth,Drew Rausch  

 

Image: 

 

Motor Crush: 

 

Illegal racing. Hot vehicles. Drawn by the woman who penciled Batgirl from Burnside. It’s a fun series, although I’ve only read the first issue.   

 

Saga: 

 

Expansive Space opera. It has robot families which is a plus to me, but the main draws are the fantastic art and storyline that is about overcoming hatred and war and joining together to form a family. And keeping it together. Very adult, shows sex scenes pretty graphically, and has drug use and the violence that goes along with war and being on the run from both warring parties. Beautiful, hopeful, heartbreaking. Just one of the best comic series out there today.   

 

Spawn: 

 

I fell in love with how dark and gritty this was when it came out, and I feel it got stronger later on. The original issues are still fun, but it takes a bit to find it’s footing.   It lost the plot, and I dropped this series, and then there was a new Spawn, who I’m not as into as Al Simmons. Pretty typical deal with the devil, and then it gets more and more convoluted. I feel that recently a solid storyline came back into play so I’m reading this again. I’d suggest the original issues, anything with Angela - who was later sold off to Marvel after Neil Gaiman won her rights in a lawsuit, the Hellspawn retelling, and anything after Resurrection. Very violent, and deals with abuse, racism, and suicide in just  some of the issues I’ve read.  

 

Black Mask: 

 

I have to include this small press for Kim and Kim, which includes a transgender Kim.   It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s a positive portrayal of a transgender woman.  Just for the record: Kim’s father insists on calling her ‘him’ and ‘son’, but doesn’t correct his employees when they refer to her by her proper gender. There’s a rift between father and daughter, no doubt because he can’t accept her as she is. But if you don’t want to read that, then steer clear of this. 

 

Saga, Volume 1 - Fiona Staples,Brian K. Vaughan Motor Crush Volume 1 - Brenden Fletcher,Cameron Stewart,Babs Tarr Spawn Origins, Volume 1 - Todd McFarlane Kim & Kim Vol. 1 - Magdalene Visaggio,Eva Cabrera,Claudia Aguirre

 

However, if you’re tempted by futuristic bounty hunters and robot gorillas, then by all means read this. Also, please note that the writer is a trans woman, which is probably why it doesn’t play into a lot of the stereotypes about trans woman. I loved it so much that I bought a small box of Black Mask collector edition covers on sale the next time I was in Newbury because I just trust the press after this one work.

 

 

The most resistance I get to comics is that they aren’t a serious, thought provoking medium.   I’d counter with The Champions - and have in real life - and also by saying that Time listed DC’s Watchmen as one of their best 100 novels. Maus, Art Spiegelman’s two volume masterpiece, went a long way towards legitimizing comics.   It’s a heart wrenching, biographical tale of his father during the Holocaust where all the Nazi’s are portrayed as cats while their victims are mice, thus the name.   A more recent entry is WE3, another heart breaker. This time, Grant Morrison tackles animal testing, and it’s a worthwhile and ultimately hopeful miniseries, but I’ve warned anyone away who can’t deal with cruelty towards animals.  Still, it’s proof of the power of comics, especially when it comes to making a political statement and trying to change the world for the better.  It’s one of the comics I’d start people off with who believe that comics are simply kiddy stories.  

 

The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman  Watchmen - Alan Moore,Dave Gibbons  

 

I hope this leaves you with something you're interested in.  If not, drop me a line here, on my blog, or DM me and I'll see if I know of anything that might entice you!  If you're just interested in reading reviews of comics, feel free to follow me!

 

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Watch out for more Book Love Stories on BookLikes blog this week! If you'd like to join, please free to write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it. 

Book Love Story: Why I love non-fiction books

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about non-fiction. We're happy to welcome Mike from Book Thoughts on BookLikes blog. 

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A guest post by Mike from Book Thoughts

 

There is no excuse for history to ever be boring - no excuse for that!

David McCullough

David McCullough on Why History Matters 

(click to view a video)

 

I am very excited to have a chance to share my passion for reading history with you all. I have had a life-long love of history, and grew up in a house where my father spent all of his free time either reading or talking about history.  I have always been fascinated about the past, and my childhood experience led to what is now a career reading and teaching history.

 

I have taught history at the high school and community college level for 15 years and my love for history has only grown during that time.  Too many adults think back to their history classes when they were in school and remember being bored and having to memorize facts and dates.  History is so much more than that!  To understand where we came from and how the world we live in was created by those who came before us is fascinating.  

 

We often have an arrogant perspective when we look back at the people of the past. We have this idea that we are smarter than them, we know more than they did, we would never possibly have made the same mistakes they made, and therefore why should we waste time reading about them? Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true we have more technology and more access to information than at any point in human history, we must always try to put ourselves in the shoes of those who came before us and understand that they did not know what was coming next.

 

Like David McCullough talked about in the video above, most importantly to me, history is about people. One of my favorite parts of reading about great historical figures is to learn about the lives they lead before they became famous or before they made their great contribution. I want to know what their childhood was like, what schools they went to and what they studied, their loves gained and lost, and how all of those experiences led to the pinnacle of their lives that make them worthy to be studied and written about. Those stories, those experiences - those are the lessons and examples we can read about and make a part of our own lives. Those in the past experienced the same range of emotions that we experience day to day. They are not stone figures - they laughed, they cried, and they were silly just like most of us.

 

This photo shows a couple from the Victorian era.  It was considered socially awkward to smile in photographs at that time, so most photos we see show very serious people. These photos show two people that were not able to keep their serious faces together.

 

For someone that might be intimated to read a history book, I have a few suggestions. These books read like novels and will introduce you to the real stories of some famous people that you may only know by name. Not only will you learn about their lives, but you will learn about the time and society they lived in. I kept the list focused on famous people rather than events, because for those who are new to reading history, learning about individuals will be a much better introductory experience.

 

John Adams - David McCullough  Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin  Nicholas and Alexandra - Robert K. Massie 

 

John Adams by David McCullough (Biography of our second President. Also tells one of history’s great love stories of John and Abigail Adams.)

 

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin  (Tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and how he brought together political rivals into his cabinet to help him during the Civil War.)

 

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie (This book tells two stories - that of the last Czar of Russia and his family, and that of the Russian Revolution.)

 

 The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt - Edmund Morris  Alexander Hamilton - Ron Chernow  

 

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (Tells the story of Teddy Rosevelt from his birth to his elevation to the Presidency. This is the first book in a trilogy that is some of the best historical writing out there.)

 

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (This book has become very famous in recent years due to the Broadway Musical, but it had been one of my favorites for many years before that.)

 

***Any books by these authors are great reads.

 

I hope I have convinced you to give a history book a try!  I bet you will enjoy it, and you will finish the book wanting to know more.  

 

If you are still not convinced, here is a short video I show my students at the start of each year.  Great tune and hopefully will inspire a desire to read history!

Why Study History - Viva la Vida Video (click)

 

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Watch out for more Book Love Stories on BookLikes blog this week! If you'd like to join, please do! Write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it. 

Book Love Story: Why I love horror books

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about horrors. We're happy to welcome Charlene from Char's Horror Corner on BookLikes blog. 

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A guest post by Charlene from Char's Horror Corner

 

Why Horror is My Bloody Valentine

 

My love for horror is great, so when Kate from BookLikes asked me if I would be interested in writing about why, I hopped on the chance!

 

When I was young, there were very few children in my neighborhood, so I spent a lot of my time reading. The Bookmobile would come around once a week and I would check out as many books as I could hold. Back then, (only allowed to check out children's and young adult books), it was Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Conan Doyle that tickled my fancy. Poe-especially. I remember reading his story The Black Cat and getting a delicious case of the shivers-and so my love of horror was born!

 

When I got a little older my parents used to bring me to the drive-in theater for horror movie marathons. (For those who don't know, Drive-ins were theaters you attended while in your car. You pulled up to these speaker stands, removed the speaker and hung it on your car window and Voila! Movie sound! These days, I don't go in for horror films as much as I used to-but my love of horror books remains the same. 

 

So, why is that? What is it about horror books that I find appealing? Well, there's the aforementioned "delicious shivers" and I still love to get them.

 

You know-that feeling you get when you're reading a scary book all alone in your house and you hear a noise?

 

That accelerated heartbeat?

 

That little bead of sweat that breaks out on your brow while you're hunting down the cause of that mysterious noise? Yeah, that's one reason for sure. 

 

Another is because horror is often about outsiders. I was not exactly a cool kid in high school. I wasn't exactly a "Carrie" either- but I could identify with her. Not having the "right clothes", not having the "cool" friends, etc... When I first read Carrie, I felt so terrible for her and what she went through. I didn't condone her actions, but I certainly understood them. Since I felt I could relate to outsiders, it stands to reason that I would enjoy reading stories about them. 


Another thing I love about horror is all of its different facets. I think there are more aspects to horror today than ever before. Let's examine some of my favorite aspects and tropes below.

 

The Haunted House:  Here we have one of my favorite horror tropes, (when it's done well), which is the "Haunted House." The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson  is probably the best example of this horror icon.  In this literary tale we follow the story of Eleanor and a small group of others, investigating a house with a reputation. The opening sentences are some of my favorites in all of literature: 

 

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

 

Atmospheric and/or mood driven horror. This is the type of horror that slowly builds over the course of the story, usually creating a sense of tension, (often, with little to no actual blood or gore), that if done right, pays off with a denouement of epic proportions. Michael McDowell's The Elementals is a perfect example of this type of story. The characters are vividly drawn and memorable and as the story unfolds, you can feel the tension settling in around your neck and shoulders.  You can't quite put your finger on why, (at least not until close to that savory ending), but you just KNOW that when "it" arrives, it is NOT going to be good.

 

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell The Light at the End - John Skipp,Craig Spector The Books of blood: Clive Barker - Clive Barker

 

Splatterpunk Wikipedia says: "Splatterpunk was a movement within horror fiction in the 1980's distinguished by its graphic, often gory, depiction of violence and 'hyperintensive horror' with no limits." In my opinion, there is room for super gory fun in horror fiction. (My friend here at BookLikes, Grimlock, helped me to better define the Splatterpunk genre and turned me on to some great books, back when we both met on Goodreads, years ago.) These days, I lean more towards the atmospheric type of horror, but Splatterpunk will always hold a special place in my heart. Some great examples would be Skipp and Spector's The Light at the End or The Books of blood by Clive Barker. 

 

Cosmic Horror. Back in the day, (1908 to be exact), William Hope Hodgson wrote a story called The House on the Borderland. Many years later, H.P. Lovecraft would cite this story as one of his biggest influences. Terry Pratchett named it as one of his big influences as well. Why is that? The answer is not totally clear, but one of the reasons might be because the depiction of the cosmos as cold and unfeeling and the depiction of humanity as insignificant –well, those are scary thoughts!  Lovecraft later took this idea and made it his own, with the creation of all kinds of cosmic gods and the cursed elements of mankind that served them. This type of horror is now usually referred to as "Lovecraftian". These days, H. P. Lovecraft is more clearly seen as the racist he was, but the mark he and Hodgson have made upon the horror genre and legions of authors cannot be denied. 

 

Creature Features. These types of stories are some of the most fun that horror has to offer. I like to think of them as the B-movies of the horror genre. They are generally fast paced and feature creatures, (see what I did there?), whose only reason for existence is to kill humans. There is usually not a lot of moralizing, (though some of these do highlight an environmental message), and as such they can be a heck of a lot of fun to read. Some of my favorites include: The Rats by James HerbertClickers by J.F. Gonzalez  and Night Of The Crabs by Guy N. Smith  . 

 

The Collected Fiction, Vol. 2: The House on the Borderland and Other Mysterious Places - William Hope Hodgson,Jason Van Hollander The Rats - James Herbert Clickers - J.F. Gonzalez,Mark Williams   

 

Supernatural Horror and Legends of Horror will be my last word on the subject of horror today. These terms encompass so many types and creatures of horror- it's almost too large of a subject to tackle here. Probably my favorite type of supernatural horror would be the kind that is never fully explained-or might not even exist at all. An AWESOME example of this type of story is The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons. This is a tale where a LOT is left up to the reader's interpretation-(usually these types of books lead to the very best discussions!  The Supernatural aspect can also include stories of ghosts, (or not ghosts as in Henry James' The Turn of the Screw), vampires, (not Twilight vampires though, because those are YA and romance, NOT HORROR), and all sorts of creatures of myth and legend like Werewolves, Wendigos, The Jersey Devil, Bigfoot, Witches,  etc... There is so much quality dark fiction available about all of these subjects, so a horror fan will never find themselves short of great material to read!             

 

The House Next Door - Anne Rivers Siddons The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers - Henry James,Anthony Curtis  


So there you have it! These are just some of the reasons I love horror so much. It appeals to outsiders, insiders and everyone in between. There is often a horror story for every sort of reader, be they full of jump scares, blood and guts or just mysterious things, glimpsed out of the corners of your eyes. Horror can be intelligent and hard to fathom, or it can be stupid, blood and guts. It’s up to you! One thing is sure though, a good horror story is GREAT fun and I hope you have yourself some this year!

 

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Watch out for more Book Love Stories on BookLikes blog this week! If you'd like to join, please do! Write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it. 

Book Love Story: Why I love fantasy books

 

It's all about love during the Valentine's Week. Each day of the Valentine's week will present one book love story with a different genre insight. Today, it's all about fantasy. We're happy to present YouKneeK's story on BookLikes blog.

 

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A guest post by YouKneeK

 

Anybody who has followed me for more than, say, a week could tell you that I love science fiction and fantasy books.  Of those two genres, fantasy is my favorite.  Unlike many fantasy readers who could regale you with tales of their childhood favorites that inspired a lifelong love of fantasy, I didn’t get addicted until my early twenties.  It all started with a computer game called Betrayal at Krondor.  It was a role-playing game in which the text was actually written like a book, and the player feels like a character in that book.  I loved the game and wanted more.  When I learned that it was based on a series of books by some guy named Raymond E. Feist, I decided to try them.  I started reading Magician: Apprentice, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

 

                   

 

Before this discovery, the fantasy genre wasn’t even on my radar.  I associated “fantasy” with some of the books from my childhood, such as The Wizard of Oz, and I didn’t think of it as a genre for adults.  Actually, fantasy is a very diverse genre, with far more types of stories than the “fluffy” ones you might remember from your childhood.  Some of the popular TV shows and movies in recent years, such as Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, have gone a long way toward proving this to the masses by adapting well-known fantasy books that appeal to adults.  Some fantasy books are very dark and gritty.  Some are full of political intrigue.  Some have twisty plots and mysteries galore.  And yes, some are fluffy and silly.  I think what I enjoy the most about fantasy is that it appeals to my imagination while encompassing a wide range of story types.  How could I get bored with the genre when it has so much variety? 

                               

I particularly love epic fantasy stories in which the author builds a detailed world with many races and a fleshed-out political climate.  I love to immerse myself in a complex world that becomes my world-away-from-the-world for as long as it takes me to read the series.  I especially like it when that world is populated with believable, complex characters.  A fairly recent and complete series (published 2011 – 2016) that hit all the right epic fantasy notes for me was the five-book series The Dagger and the Coin by Daniel Abraham, starting with The Dragon's Path.  It has a diverse set of races, political intrigue, interesting and well-fleshed-out characters (including one of the villains), some enjoyable friendships, and even a little bit of humor.  Be warned, though.  This isn’t a series to try if you just want a quick taste of fantasy. The story has barely even gotten started by the end of the first book.

 

                   

 

If you want to try something with a smaller time commitment, Carol Berg is one of my favorite authors and she tends to write duologies and trilogies.  I’ve loved all three of her series that I’ve read.  They have multiple layers, starting out deceptively simple and growing more complex, and I think they have satisfying endings. They’re also very character-driven.  I’ve become attached to every main character she’s introduced me to, and many of the secondary ones.  Two of her series that I would recommend are the Rai-Kirah trilogy, starting with Transformation (pay no attention to the horrible cover; the book is good, I swear!), and the Lighthouse duology starting with Flesh and Spirit.  If you like audiobooks, I can vouch for the quality of the Rai-Kirah trilogy.  I’m not a good audiobook listener but the narrator, Kevin Stillwell, works well for me. I’m currently enjoying this series for a second time, after reading it in print several years ago, by listening to it during my commute.

 

Although the above books I’ve mentioned all have their dark sides, Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series takes it to a new level and is considered part of the “grimdark” subgenre.  These books are full of characters you’ll probably both hate and love at the same time, and there’s very little long-term happiness to be found.  Despite that, there is quite a bit of humor and it’s hard to avoid getting invested in the story and the characters.  The starting point is usually The Blade Itself, the first book in the original First Law trilogy.

 

If you’re looking for something a little more literary, and perhaps a book that stands alone, I recently read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  This might be considered part of the “magical realism” subgenre.  It’s set in England in the early 1800’s and it has an interesting mix of real-world history and made-up fantasy, with many fictional footnotes to add an authentic tone to the story.  It has a very slow plot, focusing mainly on the characters, many of whom aren’t very likeable, but it has a subtle humor and a unique writing style.

 

Neil Gaiman is a well-known fantasy author who has written several standalone fantasy books set in the modern-day world. Neverwhere, set in modern-day London and featuring a mysterious underground world populated by forgotten people, is one of his better-known works.  Gaiman also has some anthologies that may appeal to those who enjoy the short story format.

 

                   

 

I couldn’t possibly write an all-inclusive post about fantasy books; my post would be so long that it might break the Internet. There are subgenres I didn’t discuss because I’m less familiar with them, and there are many great fantasy authors that I love but didn’t mention, because I had to stop somewhere.  I hope other fantasy lovers will comment on this post to talk about some of their favorites or maybe, if you’re feeling ambitious, you could write your own blog post and link to it in the comments. Thanks for reading!

 

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Watch out for more Book Love Stories on BookLikes blog this week! If you'd like to join, please do! Write your book love story on your blog and add the link in the comment section below. Make sure to add why I love tag to your post so we could find it and share it. 

15 Valentine's Day gifts for your beloved book lover

 

 

Books are the best gifts for book lovers regardless of the occasion. It is nice, though, to give or receive an interesting companion, an intriguing detail, a special piece along with the book, of course. Today we've prepared this set of gifts for your No 1 book lover.

 

And starting from Monday watch out for a special Valentine's week book love story project with great bookish pieces written by BookLikes bloggers :)

 

1. Peacock Paper Heart Stud Earrings ->

"These heart stud earrings feature tiny, delicate folds that create a soft shaped heart full of love to go around, perfect for a gift."

 

 

 

2. Message in a Bottle Necklace ->

"Message in a Bottle Necklace with a beautiful love poem ~ this handmade pendant is a token of heartfelt love."

 

 

 

3. Paper read and gold hearts necklace->

"This origami hearts necklace is perfect for the heart lover. With three hearts folded from red and gold washi paper it will add love to your outfit."

 

 

 

4. Literary brooch ->

"This lovely little handmade brooch is just perfect for the person in your life who has a passion for books and literacy."

 

 

 

5. Temporary tattoos for book lovers, set of two->

Not sure if a tattoo is your cup of tea? Give it a try with this temporary set of literary tattoos, the set of two matching tattoos is a perfect Valentine's evening project.

 

 

6. Origami paper roses ->

"An abandoned book (usually collected from charity shops) will get a second chance to create dreams for the one you love."

 

 

 

7. You and Me artwork ->

"This artwork is made from paper hearts cut from a range of lovely vintage sheet music and romantic poems. The hearts have been layered and stitched into chains with a single red heart nestled in amongst them. The heart is printed with the words, 'You and Me' but can also be personalised."

 

 

 

8. Personalized location map print ->

"Make a beautiful print of anywhere you choose-- for example: a place you've lived, where you got married, your favourite destination... The world is your oyster!"

 

 

 

9. Cat notebook ->

"This fab A6 cat notebook is a perfect little gift for that crazy cat lady you know or makes a lovely treat for yourself!"

 

 

 

10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer inspired T-shirt ->

12. Personalized Kindle Case ->

"Each case is fully lined and wadded, with an elastic loop and button fastening at the top. Ensuring that your kindle or tablet will be safe and secure.Available in 3 colour ways. Choose from stone linen, pink cotton or blue cotton."

 

 

 

 13. Wuthering Heights bookmark ->

"This bookmark is completely hand made and handwritten. It features a quotation from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: "Whatever our souls are made of his and mine are the same", hand-calligraphed in permanent and waterproof purple ink on lilac cardboard. The bookmark is decorated with small leaves and red flowers."

 

 

 

 14. Glasses case from Which glasses are which ->

"Makes a brilliant gift for anyone who mislays their specs, especially bookworms and crossword puzzlers"

 

 

 

15. Romantic bookmarks with quotes ->

Beautiful bookmarks are always the best gifts and when they present the romantic quotes they become the best Valentine's present.

 

 

What are your perfect Valentine's gift ideas?