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quote 2017-04-23 20:00
And it sounds so easy in the stories, even when it’s not. Even when there are millions of obstacles, heroes know exactly what to do. There is always a way out. But the problem with real life is, there is not. And storytellers, you know what their problem is? There are millions of worlds in their heads. They know magic, and love, and hatred, and they have a metaphor for every feeling you can imagine. As tellers, they are fantastic. But when they become characters, it changes completely.

The Storyteller by Andrea Tomić

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text 2017-02-19 17:36
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.

 

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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? :)

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text 2017-02-18 13:31
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. 

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text 2017-02-16 13:31
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. 

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text 2017-02-15 13:31
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. 

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