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text 2017-06-16 12:34
Bloggers write: Why I love circus books


A guest post by Lora from Lora's Rants and Reviews


Every child is enchanted by the idea of the circus at some point in their young life. For me, this began with the story of Toby Tyler, by James Otis, alternately titled Ten Weeks with a Circus. The story was also made into a movie called Toby Tyler as well as a radio dramatisation.


As I became an adult, I learned that the way animals were treated in the real life circus could be brutal at times and the big cats, whom I loved most, spent their lives in cages the size of a train car. Circuses are actually not legally allowed to keep animals in the UK. So, for me, the magic of the circus is relegated to fantasy; to the world of books.


While fiction satisfies my fascination with life behind the scenes of the circus, some non-fiction books are also very interesting, relating what this life was really like in the days when there was no regulation to speak of to keep the activities of circus folk completely legal. While circus is primarily a performance profession, there was a time when 'hooch tents' and violations of prohibition played a significant role on the seedy side of traveling entertainment.


Some stories relate this side of circus life as openly as the non-fiction books, like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The author did her research well and many incidents, including a very amusing situation involving an elephant stealing lemonade, came from real anecdotes from circus people. There are some sad incidents concerning animals in the annals of real circus life as well, but these I try to avoid.


Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus - James Otis Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen


Circus books are my fantasy circus, where animals are never mistreated and it's all about the magic of entertainment. I am, however, fussy about authors doing their research properly. I have an aunt who traveled with the carnival in her youth and she taught me the differences between the circus and the carnival. A fast way to get me to abandon a book is to write in a carnival setting and mention a Big Top or to refer to circus people as Carnies.


These worlds have a few things in common, but distinct differences. I loved how Stephen King got around all that in Joyland  by setting the story in an amusement park owned by someone who had worked for both the circus and the carnival sometime in his past.


Joyland - Stephen King Mr. Stubbs's Brother: A Sequel to Toby Tyler (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press) - James Otis


I recently found another book by James Otis on Amazon, Mr. Stubbs's Brother: A Sequel to Toby Tyler. It was even free! Naturally this is high on my tbr, but I want to re-read Toby Tyler again first. These circus stories bring out my inner child and for just a little while, allow me to enter a world where it's all about the magic.


A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus - Bruce Feiler The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus - Jamie MacVicar



If you missed the Book Love Story blog posts by BookLikes bloggers have a look here and join. Can't wait to read and re-post your book love stories! Remember to add why I love tag to your book love story.


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text 2017-06-09 11:14
Bloggers write: Why I love reading


A guest post by Chris from Chris' Fish Place


I know that these posts are supposed to be genre based, but that's not goint to work for me.


For me, reading is life. I know it is for many of us on sites like this or Goodreads or LibraryThing.  Pick your position. You have more books than you know what to do with. The e-reader is the book haul. Your bedroom or house is simply a place where you sleep or live with books.  It's library with an alternate function.


I was, am, never the out going one. I am the shy one, the quiet one, the one with her head in the book because the best thing about human race in many class is literature.  At first, books are an escape.  There's magic.  There's horses.  There's dragons.  The underdog wins.  The unpopularity doesn't matter because the book doesn't care.  You meet people like you in books.  The characters don't give a damn what your hang ups are, and they don't betray you - at least not in the real world way.  You can forget, submerge, be on Mars, Krynn, MIddle Earth, Medevial France, the Tudor Court, a mole in a hole.  


And you can stop reading. You are in control and not in control.  It's a good feeling.


Because books are there. Once, you just needed a library card. Now, you need a phone or computer.  


The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley Then you get older, and you realize that books teach you. That Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown didn't just teach about story telling but about being a woman. That non-fiction is worth reading too, even if it is about those long dead people.  


Non-fiction boards your mind. Fiction does too.


It keeps you sane because it is the rabbit hole and the ruby slippers. The way out, the way back. It can protect you from those other humans, yet educate you about them too.


It is a way to make friends.


One of my oldest friends is my friend because we both loved The Hero and the Crown. Today, we have many books in companion, and some we don't. I went to my first protest with my book club. Every friend I have on a site like BookLikes or GoodReads is there because of books. Books aren't about life; they are a key to life.


I love reading because it helped me find my voice.



If you missed the Book Love Story blog posts by BookLikes bloggers have a look here and join. Can't wait to read and re-post your book love stories! Remember to add why I love tag to your book love stories.


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text 2017-06-02 13:10
Bloggers write: Why I love science fiction and fantasy books


A guest post by Debbie from Debbie's Spurts


Once upon a time, a child's moving neighbor asked if they wanted any books before donated elsewhere.  Duh.  I was an avid reader of whatever variety of stuff found in school library, borrowed from friends and sporadic yard sales.  These boxes included authors like Lester Del Rey, Andre Norton, Robert A. Heinlein, Alan Dean Foster, Mercedes Lackey, Andrew J. Offutt, John Wyndham, Ron Goulart, J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey ... devoured, never looked back and have been hooked ever since by these greats of SF/Fantasy.


If it can start with "what if," "In a faraway," or "Once Upon a Time," count me in!


Oh, the possibilities.  The potential worldbuilding.  The "what if ..."  The potential "other," diversity or alien-ness for characters.  Societies and sociological switch-ups.  The exploration of furthest reaches of space, science and imagination.  The huge tapestry in which an author can create.  Escapism for me, please, but with a logic inherent to whatever the author has imagined.  Take me along for the ride and for a brief moment let me live in the world you made with your stories and your characters instead of mine,


Moon of Mutiny - Lester del Rey The Stars are Ours - Andre Norton,James J. Campanella,Uvula Audio Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein  Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey  


Web Of The Spider - Andrew J. Offutt,Richard K. Lyon  The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham  The Panchronicon Plot - Ron Goulart  The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien  


Yes, those few unwanted boxes launched nearly 50 years of book love.  No genre beats the scope and elements of an excellent SF/Fantasy book.


Squee!  I'm a dancing fan poodle unable to write a good post about it.



If you missed the Book Love Story blog posts by BookLikes bloggers have a look here and join. Can't wait to read and re-post your book love stories! Remember to add why I love tag to your book love story.


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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.




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.




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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