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Archive for the ‘Books around the Web’ Category

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It is October; so that means that in some parts of the world it is autumn, full of red leaves and orange pumpkins. It also means that All Hollow’s Eve, more commonly known as Halloween, is fast approaching. And you know what that means? Ghosts, skeletons, witches, zombies and other assorted monsters will start to roam the streets, and houses, of the world. It’s time to scare yourself silly – join in the monster fun, or at the very least curl up with a book guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies. A book that forces you to check the outside doors and windows are all securely locked. Then close all the internal doors, turn on your bedside lamp and cover yourself in blankets.

Because everyone knows that a blanket is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – won’t it?

 

I fully believe that horror books are worse than horror movies! Why? Because you can walk out of a movie theatre, or turn the TV off – but even when you close a horror book it sits there on the shelf shifting, creaking while it growls threateningly at you. It watches you. It sneers at your fear.

A well written horror story starts off by curdling the contents of your stomach, then you break out in a fearful cold sweat and your limbs to start trembling; as the fear builds up – because you just won’t stop turning those pages – you start to cry, funny little gaspy noises and then in sheer desperation and armed with the book you walk through the house turning on every light you can find.

Because everyone knows a fully lit up house is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – doesn’t it.

 

Why is reading horror so popular? Why do people get a pleasurable thrill out of reading it? Well there has been research – yes all those taxpayers dollars at work! Apparently thrill can produce dopamine and dopamine is a chemical that is released when we anticipate rewards. Dopamine is also released during sex and other pleasurable activities – personally sex is way more appealing than being scared to death – but that’s story!!! So people read scary books for the thrill – the adrenaline rush – for the dopamine to kick in! Just as an aside dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. Maybe the drug rehabilitation centres should stock their libraries with horror stories!!!

Because everyone knows that getting a thrill from a scary book is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – unless it’s his book and you haven’t asked permission to read it!

Of course fans of the Horror genre will scoff and tell you that scary books can’t hurt you because you are not in them, you are nothing other than a passive onlooker to horrifying events. It is not you waking up to see a shadowy figure with a machete raised above her head standing beside your bed, it’s just a make believe character. The mass murders, vampires, zombies, demons, and other horrifying characters are not real. The screaming women being dragged off down a dark hallway, the child being sucked into a TV and the teens in the forest in the middle of the night being dismembered one by one – none of it real.

Because everyone knows that just knowing he’s not real isn’t going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you.

Horror stories have been around for thousands of years, fear is one of our primal emotions it is inbuilt from prehistoric times to keep humans alive; fear of what the outcome could be keeps us away from animals with sharp teeth and dangerous places. Around the campfire the stone age elders would tell stories to the little ones to keep them scared witless and safe. Word of mouth progressed to written stories and now there are many books designed to scare us silly. Horror stories reflect their time in history. Prehistoric man, without the scientific knowledge we have today, would have made up stories to explain what they couldn’t understand would invent monsters in the woods and caves that explained disappearing tribe members or unexplained deaths. The middle ages brought out ghosts and vampires, while modern times lean towards technology with scenarios such as alien invasions, zombie plagues, dystopia and psychological terrors such as chain saw massacres. Then there was revenge – killed people coming back as monsters to wipe out all those involved in their death.

Because everyone knows being dead is not going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – again.

SO, if you insist on scaring yourselves to death this Halloween, or indeed any time, here are some links to some ‘horror-able’ book suggestions

· The 50 Scariest Books of all time

· Best Classic Horror Books

· A website devoted to horror fiction

And if you’re not contented in scaring yourself silly – why don’t we let our children horror – here is a link to an article, and book suggestions, telling you why children should read horror.

You can also find this post over on Book Charmers

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Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and paranormal elements to build its story. The story is peopled with such beings as giants and fairies; Ghosts and wraiths; witches and vampires; trolls and elves, talking dogs, cats and mice – anything that is unbelievable. In fact, in a fantasy book most of the main characters do not exist except in the author’s mind, or in mythology, and humans are commonly in the minority.

Fantasy stands hand in hand with horror and science fiction and many stories do overlap these element. As a rule fantasy stands apart as there is no technology as we know it, and the spooky elements are not quite as macabre as full blown horror.

Because of the similarities between these three genres they are usually collectively known as Speculative Fiction. Other people also throw in dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history into the speculative Fiction umbrella as well. I can’t see the point myself – but this is becoming more

common. I mean to say, yes I suppose you could have a flesh eating monster stalking the corridors of a spaceship eating all the elves – but it is rare – and if you know of such a book then let me know.

Fantasy isn’t bound by convention – it is utterly make believe – so the world and its inhabitants can be anything that enters the author’s mind. A tree gets in the way of a character’s progress? Then being fantasy the character can snap his fingers, or will have a fellow traveller to do it, and poof – the tree disappears. If this happened in the real world there would be so many forms to fill out that the character would just give up and go home. Magic is an extremely useful tool in fantasy.

So why would you read fantasy? Well, so much of reality is uninteresting and unexciting – it is lovely to slip into a fantasy book, where nothing is real, and let your imagination run free? Don’t get me wrong, life can certainly be grim for the fantasy characters – I mean the journey of the hobbit and friends in the Lord of the Rings was no picnic – and those orcs were quite revolting – but in the end and the sun came back and evil was apparently vanquished. In real life this does not always occur.

 

So if it is all made-up why should we read fantasy? Alan Nicholas, self-described Attorney, avid reader, sometime writer thinks he has the answer in this long article: https://www.quora.com/Why-read-fantasy-books

He thinks fantasy readers are solely into escapism, its very reason for being is that nothing is real so it really is another time and another place and can’t possibly happen in our world. With science fiction there is an element of maybe it could happen – aliens could land – humans could go into space and live on other plants – so it is not pure escapism. Even horror can make you the reader stop and think, could this happen – could there be a Freddie Kruger out there coming to get you? When reading fantasy you know it is not true, and have a fair idea that a horrible troll is not going to come marching down the high street. Well I hope one won’t anyway.

Now, if your interest is piqued to try the Fantasy genre – here are some links to some recommended books:

Something for everyone – 100 fantasy books

Ten Must-Read Magical Books That Aren’t Harry Potter (although if you haven’t read the Harry Potter books – you should)

Fantasy books usually come in series – 30 of the best fantasy series  gives a plethora of fantasy reading ideas

 

You can also find this post over on Book Charmers

You can also find this post over on Book Charmers

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My favourite book links

 

I thought I would share a few of my ‘Bookie’ links with you this month. Where I go to get inspired to read – a few of my sources of information

FANTASTIC FICTION is a wonderful source – having information on over 30,000 authors and 350,000 books. There are also list about new authors, new books, books coming soon, most Popular and top authors. A favourite of mine are the countries list (want to read a book set in Eritrea or Montserrat – they’re on the list) the years list (need an author who was born or died in 1943 – it’s on the list) and the awards (which includes a list of most awarded books). The site is just information and there is no forum or chit chat – but you will spend hours wandering through it.
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/

GOODREADS is the place to go if you want to talk about books with other people. Not only will you find reviews about books – you can make friends, discover which of your friends are already there and if you like chatting books then you will find a group to suit just about every reading scenario you would like. Within the groups are reading related games, reading challenges (oh be still my beating heart) and there are even some giveaways and lists of books. You like dragons – search Listopia and there will be dragon book suggestions coming out of your ears!!! It is free to join and you can track your books on your own set of shelves – and there is an Apple application so you can tell at a glance what books you already own so there is no double ups when you’re in a book shop. I belong to a few groups and I am kept very busy reading and discussing books and off topic subjects.
https://www.goodreads.com/

STOP YOU’RE KILLING ME – if you like reading mysteries the ‘Stop You’re Killing Me’ is my favourite go to page. There is a list of authors each with a chronological list of their books which covers both their series and stand-alones. There are also indexes to help you find characters who live in particular countries (a PI from Mexico maybe) or by occupations (an investigator who is a dancer – or an Interior decorator maybe) there is even an area to search for elderly people or Amish; historical era (Ancient Egyptian mystery anyone?) as well as type of mystery – cosy, hard boiled, vampire, physiological Triller. This site will certainly fill up your notebook with new suggestions to follow up on.
http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/

PACK A BOOK – Are you an armchair traveller? Then Pack-a-book is the site for you. Pick a country – click on the link and you will get a list of books set in that country – both fiction and non-fiction. They also have a face book page and have one country one book email travel sessions, which sound interesting but I’ve never taken a plunge – maybe this year:

If you were to join us right now you would be standing at the natural harbor in the town of Poole on England’s south-coast, ready to begin the journey. Your bags are packed, mainly with books of course, and your spirits high, as you prepare to board the ferry that will take you across the ocean.

But where will the first stop be? Well – we’re not giving out any secrets here. To find out – you’ll have to take the plunge and join us.
http://www.packabook.com/

You can also find this post over on Book Charmers

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Reading why you should and when it is alright to stop.

A group of us were having a discussion the other day about books we wouldn’t read and why. As conversation are inclined to do it then meandered off onto a few tangents one of which was the fact that there are those who read books to the bitter end, even if they are not enjoying the experience, and then there are others, like me, who can easily put a book down if the author hasn’t managed to engage them and move onto the next one.

So why won’t people even attempt to read a particular book or even (hold onto your hats this is radical) not finish it at all because, in their opinion, it’s a waste of time!! This is hard to answer so I won’t even try it’s just the way things are. However a few ‘finishers’ told me they had to finish a book because it would upset the author. So I wrote to a few well-known internationally published Australian authors I know and asked what their thoughts were when a book is rejected deemed unfit to read by a reader did they mind were they wounded. I promised anonymity with their replies!

The first one wrote: “…I never pay any attention! I haven’t got time to go and check people’s reading progress. It’s never occurred to me to do so. And if someone told me they’d been unable to finish one of my books, I’d think that’s a shame but obviously the book was not for them. I certainly don’t expect everyone to like what I do! That’d be impossible…”

The next author responded: “…If someone marks my book as DNF, of course it hurts. If there is feedback, I’ll read it to see if there’s anything I should take on board…I don’t like everything I read, so I can’t expect others to…Getting good AND bad reviews and the occasional DNF is just part of being an author…constructive criticism is one thing, but abuse is not acceptable…”

Finally the third author said: “…Life is too short to finish a book you’re not enjoying…if I’m not enjoying the book I am reading the lure of another on my bedside table is too strong…don’t feel guilty…”

Their replies certainly contrast with another unnamed Australian writer who messaged me through Goodreads and demanded to know why I didn’t finish reading his/her book and then proceeded to lecture me as to how horrible I was and how much effort he/she had put into their work and how dare I reject it! Needless to say I have not picked up anymore of their books, which is one reason why people, well me anyway, won’t pick up particular books. The other reason is if a book is in a genre that the reader doesn’t like. For instance I won’t read anything in the horror genre a close friend would have her nails removed rather than read romance.

The conversation continued and I was asked how come I average 140 books a year (one of the others managed over 200) did this mean I was indiscriminate in my reading? Was there actually anything I wouldn’t read because in their opinion there were books on my ‘to read’ shelf on Goodreads that they personally wouldn’t dream of picking up.

That was scary do I read books that are so ghastly that at least one person couldn’t bear to read it? What does that say about me? Well nothing we can’t all like the same things and thank goodness there are enough authors in the world all writing in a myriad of genre to keep we readers happy.

So why do we read what we read?

In her article 10 benefits why you should read everyday, Lana Winter-Hébert says we should read because it’s good for our health!!! I like Lana, I must be the healthiest person ever!!! She writes:

…But not all books are for everyone. A book might be a best-seller, but maybe you can’t stand the writing. Or maybe it’s not the right time to read a book

So don’t read a book just because it is popular, or it’s won an award so it must be good, or even because it is a classic and people will think I’m dumb if I haven’t read it. Read a book because YOU like the sound of it, not because you’re influenced by what people think about your reading choices. And while you’re reading a book you’re getting healthy, de-stressing and exercising your mind how cool is that?

…A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation… A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold…

Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

This book is a treasure; I did not suspect it would be so good when I picked it up, but now I can feel the printed words seeping through my skin and into my veins, rushing to my heart and marking it forever. I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again

Laura Nowlin, If He Had Been with Me

The following quote is about awarding a ‘star’ to a book – she thinks the same way I do

I am shocked to find that some people think a 2 star ‘I liked it’ rating is a bad rating. What? I liked it. I LIKED it! That means I read the whole thing, to the last page, in spite of my life raining comets on me. It’s a good book that survives the reading process with me. If a book is so-so, it ends up under the bed somewhere, or maybe under a stinky judo bag in the back of the van. So a 2 star from me means,yes, I liked the book, and I’d loan it to a friend and it went everywhere in my jacket pocket or purse until I finished it. A 3 star means that I’ve ignored friends to finish it and my sink is full of dirty dishes. A 4 star means I’m probably in trouble with my editor for missing a deadline because I was reading this book. But I want you to know . . . I don’t finish books I don’t like. There’s too many good ones out there waiting to be found.

Robin Hobb, author

If the book you’re reading doesn’t make you feel these emotions then please go and find one that does.

So if reading is good for us when we are reading a book of our choice that makes us happy in my opinion this translates to it’s doing us harm if we insist on finishing a book that is not making us happy but for some reason feel bound to not giving up. By golly, by gosh I will grit my teeth and keep on reading!

Sadie L. Trombetta gives us 10 signs that you should give up on the book you’re in the middle of no really she gives 10 of them!!! And while you will certainly laugh when you read her article you have to think very seriously about the message.

So, how can you know if you will like a book? Well it’s not always easy to know. Certainly if you love an author’s work, or a particular genre then chances are higher that you may enjoy it. I get my books from reading reviews written by people who have similar likes to me, Reading reviews in magazines, looking at book blurbs in bookshop catalogues. I certainly have tried and true authors so I am highly confident I will enjoy their work. Sometimes yes I judge a book by its cover! Especially when I am in the library or book store I pull a book off the shelf if it catches my eye and if I like the picture then I’ll read the blurb and if the two seem appealing I’ll borrow/buy the book.

Or you can let serendipity guide you – there are places on the web that will recommend books for you here are three, but there are many more:

Which book?This page lets you pick 4 things you want from a book to test it out I picked happy, lots of sex, bleak and gentle the recommended book? Boys and Girls by Joseph Connolly the blurb says Susan wants another husband. Which comes as a shock to the current one.

Next test was happy, safe, beautiful and gentle resulted in Companions of Paradise by Thalassa Ali the blurb for this is Mariana Givens, a brave, beautiful Englishwoman must face the repercussions of her marriage to a Punjabi Muslim, and choose between the people she calls her own—and the life that owns her heart.

What should I read next? – With this page you start by typing in your favourite author’s name I typed in Enid Blyton it then comes up with a list of a few of her books for you to choose from I clicked on one of her ‘Famous Five’ titles and the web page suggests I might like Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo the blurb for this is When orphaned Arthur Hobhouse is shipped to Australia after WW II he loses his sister, his country and everything he knows. Actually I have taken note of this one sounds pretty good!

The literature map is another one I use a lot using Enid Blyton as my chosen author for this one it comes up with a pageful of suggested authors I might like to read as well not sure about some of the connections Jackie Collins, Monty Python for example!!!!

Another idea for finding books you’ll enjoy is to find your favourite authors facebook page, or blog, and see what they are reading .

In the end immersing yourself in a book that takes you away from the world for a few hours is one of the greatest pleasures in this world. Add a glass of wine and life is indeed good!

Of course there is also the added bonus of annoying a librarian:

“…The Librarian considered matters for a while. So…a dwarf and a troll. He preferred both species to humans. For one thing, neither of them were great readers. The Librarian was, of course, very much in favour of reading in general, but readers in particular got on his nerves. There was something, well, sacrilegious about the way they kept taking books off the shelves and wearing out the words by reading them. He liked people who loved and respected books, and the best way to do that, in the Librarian’s opinion, was to leave them on the shelves where Nature intended them to be…”

Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

You can also find this post over on Book Charmers

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Books around the web – Children’s/YA

There are lots of references to children’s literary matters on the web, but the word ‘children’ describes literature that ranges from Picture Books for the very little, through primary and middle school and on to teens, or YA, readers.

Legally a person is not considered an adult until they turn 18 – so regardless of what your 17-year-old is currently reading, books aimed at him, or her, are classed as Children’s literature.

Learning to read starts before a child can even read for themselves – the best start a child can have is for someone to read to them – and the reader gets as much pleasure as the readee!

Last year the blog ‘For Reading Addicts’ conducted a poll on the subject of what books their followers loved to read to their children. They got more than 1000 responses naming more than 300 books. Here are their top 20 favourite books.

So why should we read to our very young children and grandchildren? Well here are two views as to why picture books are useful and why we should read to the very small, as well as the not so small:

1. Picture books are important – What your child, and you, gets out of reading them

2. Getting the most out of picture books – a couple of hints to encourage your child to interact

I use to read to my kids, and now my kids are reading to my grandchildren, and I still read children’s literature and re-read old favourites – Charlotte’s Web and Harry Potter anyone?

My admission of reading Children’s literature brings up a very divisive topic on the various media outlets – Should adults be reading Children’s books at all?

Here is an argument for NO – Apparently I should feel embarrassed when what I’m reading is written for Children! Hmmm, Okay! (Carefully – I push my current book, written by Enid Blyton, out of view).

Fortunately there are sensible people out on the internet who think that reading children’s literature is not embarrassing and that children’s literature is never just for children! (yaaaay – my Enid Blyton Book is back out front and centre)

And while we are talking about the reading Nazis, the word killjoys, – if you have a child that is struggling to read – then maybe one way to get them started is by introducing comic books/graphic novels. At this point you may get a teacher who will throw up their hands in horror – it’s not real reading you see – apparently. My take on this when it happened to me and someone decided they knew better about my child reading was that children should be allowed to read comics – it is the written word in a freed-up context and as far as I am concerned they can read a cornflake packet if it means they’re reading. I am not alone in this opinion and here are ten reasons why children should be allowed to read comic books.

Finally – here is a huge list of Children’s Literary reading links

And – a list of Blogs dealing with Children’s literature to watch out for

This post can also be found over on the Book Charmers blog

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Books around the Web: Chick Lit

Around the middle of each month I am going to post about interesting book related links I’ve found around the web. Sometimes they will be all bunched under a theme – at other times the only things they have in common is that they are about books, readers of books, mentions of books. Like my reading the posts will be eclectic and mood driven.

My first post is themed around one of my favourite genres – Chick/Hen’s Lit.

So what is chick lit? Well it is not romance. Like Chick lit, romance is mostly aimed at women, but were they differ is that romance is about when a woman meets a man, there are a few misunderstandings, hurdles to overcome, before they can finally fall in love – and it is all wonderful and the story ends on a blissed out high. Chick lit is more than that – in fact finding a man is not the main objective, although there may be a sort of a romance going on at some stage, often the intrepid heroine is recovering after a nasty breakup or divorce, and so surviving life without a man is often the main objective. In chick lit humour is an overall must have. The relationship with family and friends is just as important as romantic relationships for our heroine, and there often is a new man in the heroine’s life who has to overcome all her issues before he can even make first base. Learning to cope alone after being so dependent, or not allowed to be dependent, is another common theme.

I’ve heard of Chick Lit – but what the heck is Hens Lit?” I hear you ask. Well Hen’s Lit is chick lit for the older women; I have also seen it referred to as granny lit, matron lit and lady lit. Not sure I like the descriptor Matron lit personally. However, whatever term used, they are books that are aimed at the older women in our society – the women who deal with the gritty subjects of hot flushes, aging bodies, widowhood, empty nest syndrome and sexual needs (yes older women like sex too) and who want books to reflect that. Like Chick lit, Hens lit books cover those subjects in a humorous way that older women can relate too. Hens lit is almost the next stage after romance – set once widowhood has arrived – or divorce – and the intrepid heroine has to start over.

Despite being one of the biggest selling genres after romance, many female readers turn their noses up at chick lit and say that Chick lit is derogatory to women. I say poppycock – I am a woman, I am not going to insult myself, I don’t think they are offensive. I am an educated and intelligent woman and I love the genre – so there!

Australian comedienne, Wendy Harmer, explains Chick lit:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/books/putting-the-chick-into-lit/2005/08/11/1123353432397.html

Is chick lit dead? Or has it just morphed?

https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist/novelist-special/whatever-happened-to-chick-lit

And this link will take you to information on Hens lit:
http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2005…

It is good to have older heroines:

http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2005/09/matron_lit.html

Finally Cindy Roesel from Chick Lit Central says that we are all chicks regardless of whether we are 18 or 108:
http://www.chicklitcentral.com/2013/0…

You know, I think she could just be right – I’m a Chick and proud of it!!!

Lists of chick lit books:

Chick Lit’s Top 100:

http://www.chicklitclub.com/ultimate100.html

Goodreads lists:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/chick-lit

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/402.Favorite_Chick_Lit

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/11239.Best_Chick_Lit_I_ve_Ever_Read

This post can also be found over on the Book Charmers blog

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