Welcome to my Corner! I specialize in Dark Fiction reviews including Horror, Dark Fantasy, Splatterpunk, Horror of the 70's & 80's, and Graphic Novels. I also read and review classics, true crime, thrillers and audio books of all genres except Romance.
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!
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
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.
Rusty Puppy is the latest entry in the Hap and Leonard series by Joe Lansdale.
The pair are hired by the lady across the street to help find her son's murderer. The local cops are not only unhelpful, they are suspected of being involved. As always, the pair are happy to help and find themselves involved with corrupt lawmen, scuzzy lawyers and a foul-mouthed, 400 year old midget vampire. (You'll see.)
I believe the main draw for these books is the back and forth between Hap and Leonard and this book is no exception. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit and with everything going on in the world today, I welcomed the respite.
There's also a killer fight scene towards the end of the book that loyal readers won't want to miss.
Hap and Leonard lovers should enjoy this volume of the series just as much as the rest of them, if not just a smidge more. Highly recommended, especially to fans of the series!
Available on February 21, 2017, here: Rusty Puppy (Hap and Leonard)
*Thanks to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*
A super-villain, caught, and now hiding in witness protection, has his cover is blown and then is recruited to help catch bad guys. It should be easy, since he used to be one of them, but now he's been infected by empathy, and it's harder than he thought.
Zack Overkill, Zoe Zeppelin, Lazarus, and Simon Slaughter are just some of the characters inside this pulpy, noir, empathetic super-villain story from the super cool Mr. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. What fun!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our much-anticipated collection of rare Richard Matheson short stories, OFFBEAT, newly introduced by David J. Schow, is now up for preorder worldwide for paperback and Kindle! The release date is Feb. 28. Visit our website for pre-order links.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Love, love, love this series. The artwork by Jim Lee is superb and the storyline is tense and paranoid and incredibly tight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
This manages to be as adorable, insightful, and odd as the original movie. Just a beautiful, hopeful story that is good for any age!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
A guest post by Mike from Book Thoughts
There is no excuse for history to ever be boring - no excuse for that!
(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 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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 Herbert, Clickers by J.F. Gonzalez and Night Of The Crabs by Guy N. Smith .
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!
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!
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.
I had the pleasure of "meeting" Jeff Johnson, (only on-line unfortunately), last year. I reviewed his most excellent werewolf-noir novel, Everything Under the Moon. (Click to see my review) Somehow I missed this book when it came up on Edelweiss, (I have since requested it for review), but to help make up for that, I thought I'd make a post for his latest release (available 2.14.17): Knottspeed.
Here's the description from Amazon:
"Enigmatic, charming, and brutally resourceful, Knottspeed is a man on a mission. He also happens to be dead, but the rumors of his demise have been slightly exaggerated—by the man himself as the key to his plan."
Jeff Johnson's style is guaranteed to be unlike most anything you've read before. His bio is fascinating and I believe all that life experience shines through in his writing. That and a wicked sense of humor!
If you're looking for something new and unusual to read, check this one out:
Of Foster Homes and Flies has been on my reading docket for over 6 months now. I wish I hadn't waited so long. This is a heartbreaking tale about young Denny and the loss of his parents. But it's about so much more than that, really.
When a 12 year old boy has lost his father, and then loses his mother shortly thereafter, (to a constant state of drunkenness), there isn't much to look forward to in his young life. His family is poor, he hasn't even ridden in a car in years, (never mind his family owning one), and Ingrid, the family dog, has been exposed to so much cigarette smoke she's no longer white.
Over the past year, Denny has been regretting having not entered his school's spelling bee last year. This time around, Denny is going to enter that spelling bee-and come hell or high water, he's going to win it. Will he really win? You'll have to read this novella to find out!
I'm not sure why I identified so much with this kid, but I did. Everything about him and his poor family rang true to me. I loved the depictions of his few friends and neighbors-which only goes to show you that in the end, in spite of being surrounded by people, you can still be alone. I just wanted to reach out and hug Denny. I wish he were right now so I could.
I've read one of Chad Lutzke's stories before in the anthology "Bumps in the Road", which he edited. I loved that story too, but not quite as much as this one. Highly recommended for fans of coming-of-age tales like Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, James Newman's Midnight Rain, or John Boden's Jedi Summer: with The Magnetic Kid.
You should grab a copy and you can right here. Of Foster Homes and Flies
If you do, give Denny a hug from me.
*I received a complimentary copy of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
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.
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!
In Gilded Cage , Vic James has created a world where slavery still exists- 10 years of it for every single person. It doesn't matter if you serve your ten in a glass mansion or a dingy factory-slavery is still slavery.
I enjoyed the world-building and almost despite myself I became attached to the Hadley family. Even though their rather naive daughter, Abi got on my nerves a little bit, I did care about her brother, Luke, her sister and parents. I found the concept of the "Equals" a fascinating one, they being the people catered to by everyone else. Capable of chilling powers and yet the true depth of their power was not fully evident until near the end of the story.
Another thing I very much enjoyed was the complexity of the villains. At some points, it was difficult to distinguish who they even were and I liked trying to figure that out. Lastly, I relished the fact that not everything is all laid out and explained in great detail like at the end of a TV show. I still have a couple of questions-so even though I'm not even a fan of YA AND I've sworn that I'm not starting any more series', I do plan to read the next book.
The reason I'm giving 4 stars and not 5 is because I felt things got bogged down a bit, (a la the Song of Ice & Fire series), when introducing all the political machinations of the different families. I don't feel like there was too much, exactly, just perhaps too much all at once .
It's always nice to be surprised by a book on which you take a chance. I requested this one based on the appeal of the description alone-I really didn't think the book would live up to my expectations, but I'm happy that it did!
Recommended to fans of YA, magicians, (of a sort), and fantasy!
You can get your copy here:Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts)
*Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*
Kate Mulgrew's narration raised my rating ,(click to see my original review), of this book, just as it raised my rating of NOS4A2. The Fireman is so good to start with, but with her heartfelt voicing, the ball is knocked out of the park.
Highly recommended on audio!
Fatale: Deluxe Edition, Volume 2 is a stunningly beautiful piece of cosmic horror meets noir.
This one has two essays at the end, like the first one did, both by Jess Nevins. This time around the subjects are H.P. Lovecraft, (again), and Aleister Crowley. I found both to be interesting and informative.
In this volume we learn more about where Josephine has been and where she's going and of course there are a few sexy times in between, most especially when she does a video for the rock band Amsterdam. As always happens with Jo, the good times start rolling into dark times at the flick of a switch, and they keep on rolling right down to the depths of hell.
I can't recommend these enough-especially if you enjoy classic tropes turned on their heads and lots of tentacles in your artwork.
Hometown is an atmospheric, sometimes surreal tale of horror, revenge and abuse in a small town.
Sometimes there are wrongs that can never be corrected. Even death can't set things straight. In the town of Dalry, something is awry and it's up to a group of old high school chums to figure out what. This proves difficult, due to the influence of a dead childhood friend, who often pulls them out of the hometown they know into some sort of parallel world that looks the same, but...isn't. Terrors live in that parallel world and not everyone will survive.
I loved how the story was told and the direction it took, but I had problems with differentiating the characters and their relationships with each other. It took a fair amount of the story for me to pull everything together as far as who everyone was and what was happening. Once I was able to get the characters straight, I didn't feel I knew them well enough to develop a deep caring for them. I felt more for the characters that were already dead, to be honest.
There were some instances where the writing reeled me right in, but there were also instances where a little more editing or proofreading might have helped. (The use of the word scrapping instead of scraping, for instance, happened more than once.)
Overall, though, this was a heart-wrenching story about a damaged family and how that damage can ripple outwards like a stone tossed into a pond-affecting everyone it touches. This tale does have a lot of heart, it just takes some patience and care to get there. Recommended because your mileage may vary and the issues I had may just be mine and mine alone!
You can get your copy here: Hometown
*I received a free e-copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*