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text 2013-10-12 10:05
Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two

It's time for second part of Book Blog Talks with The Happy Booker :-) If you haven't read first part, you can find it here: Book Blog Talks: Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One



A lot of e-book lovers say that they cannot go back to paper books. They are a distraction if not in electronic version and put into an e-reader. Do you still grab paper books?


Yes. I love all types of books although if given the option, I will always choose the audio. I think that books should be bundled with all 3 options available for the buyer.  


Could you recommend some great audio books with extraordinary narration? Why they are special for you?


Neil Gaiman's narration of his books are beyond phenomenal. Of course, everything Gaiman does is amazing, but he brings an extra element to his narrations. Bahni Turpin does an incredible narration of Stacia Kane's Downside series. The original slang language that Kane created for that series, "Downspeak", is performed perfectly in her narration, I would have butchered it trying to read it. Other excellent narrations would be Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series, Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series, and so many other amazing narrations that I could spend all day listing them. 


In your opinion and from your observation / listening history are there any books that perform better in audio version than others?


I've found that a narrator can take a book that has somewhat flat characters and breathe life and personality into them with their narration. Alternately, I've found that the wrong narrator can take an incredible book and make it seem flat and lifeless. 


How do you find audio books worth listening to?


I buy them, I get them from the library, used bookstores, Audible, Audiobook Jukebox, and I request them for review from audiobook publishers like Penguin Audio, Brilliance Audio, etc. 



Where do you listen/read mainly?


 In front of my computer while playing Candy Crush. 


Is there any literary character you would like to meet face to face?

What would your ask him/her?


I would love to meet Anne Boleyn and I'd have a whole slew of questions to ask her about how things went down with Henry. 


Any book quotes that you love?


I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity toward the outside world that people who don't read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all reading is such a solitary, internalizing act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and particularly the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways...It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another which is a precursor to empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being. - John Connolly


Is there a book that you just cannot wait

to be released in audio version? What's that?


World After by Susan Ee the sequel to the AMAZING Angelfall!


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text 2013-10-08 10:06
Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks welcomes The Happy Booker blog which shares love to reading by listening. Lets get to know the blogger a little better :-)




In your blog description we can read “Audiobook Junkie”. What’s so special in audio version of books that make you fall in love in this format?


It probably comes down to the fact that I have more of an auditory learning style so I find it easier to retain information when hearing it. But I believe that when the right book meets the right narrator, it's a special kind of magic that goes even beyond reading.


How much time do you spend wearing headphones?


I spend more time wearing headphones than not wearing them. I also work from home handling customer service calls so most of my life is spent wearing headphones! 


For you, is listening to audio books the same as reading? Or do you experience the books differently?


I think I experience them differently. I've described audiobooks as being very similar to watching a movie IF that movie stayed completely true to every aspect of the book.


What literary genres are you listening to?


I'm a mood reader so I genre hop a lot. I love really dark stories like thrillers and books that explore uncomfortable subject matter. I'm really into post-apocalyptic and zombie books too. I love reading stories of survival in extreme situations like that. I also enjoy fairy tale retellings, fantasy, dystopian, and historical fiction.  


Are there books you would love to read and record? Or maybe you already did (secretly or not)?


No. I don't think I'd make a good narrator. I wouldn't want to listen to me for hours. My family agrees, they don't want to listen to me at all most of the time...



What was your first audio book? When was that?


The Harry Potter series and I think that was back in 2008


What are you listening/reading right now?


I'm listening to Love in the Time of Global Warming audio book and reading World After by Susan Ee ebook and Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer print book 





Your favorite book author?


 TOO many to name, Rowling, Martin, Kagawa, Hobb, Gaiman, Zimmer-Bradley, Weir, Gregory, etc. 


Your favorite voice / narrator in audio books?


 Neil Gaiman. I want him to narrate my life. 



In the second part The Happy Booker will recommend great books with great narration, favorite reading place and great quote about reading. 




Read other interviews in Talks Series on BookLikes:

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

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text 2013-09-17 10:08
Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Author Talks on BookLikes! It's time for second part of interview with Gothic steampunk author Elizabeth Watasin. If you haven't read first part, go here: Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One. Enjoy reading. 




So far, Dark Victorian counts two books in series. Do you have idea of future books in the series? How many books in the series are you thinking of? 


Dark Victorian is outlined to about 8 books. We'll see, I may try to cut it down to 6, because at this rate it would take me a book a year. Within the same universe as Dark Victorian I have my Elle Black Penny Dreads. They were an effort to return     to more simple, Gothic horror heroine stories and I find them lots of fun. I guess there would be one Elle Black novella per Dark Victorian book, because the stories run concurrently.


While Artifice and Jim Dastard are fighting greater supernatural evil in London, Elle Black, who's a Victorian telekinetic and housewife, finds herself solving mysteries that are no less horrible. She's basically a heroine who'd rather brew ginger beer, look pretty for her wife, and putter in her garden, so it's great fun dropping her into these frightening situations.

Are you working on other literary projects apart from Dark Victorian? 


Yes, besides the Elle Black series I've a YA contemporary fantasy novel that needs perfecting and finishing. Wit's World: Never Was (which I may change the title), was what I was working on before I became frustrated and decided to work on the Dark Victorian. "Wit's World" is a very big, epic storyline. Emma Daring loses her twin sister in a theme park in a duplicate dimension, and she goes in to rescue her. It has several sets of twins and covers probably three eras of the theme park and three generations of people, and of course it's set in a massive theme park. So I have to go back into that and fix it, especially after my writing experiences with the Dark Victorian series. I'd released the story as a serial in my newsletter a few years ago and some readers would really like that book finished!

Some authors cannot read any books during the time of writing their own work. Do you experience that as well? 


I can't read any contemporary fiction except my own, that's true. I need to be in my own world, not sucked into someone else's. Also, if I've yet to solidify and build the world I'm going to immerse myself in, I shouldn't read stories that are similar--no matter one's good intentions, there's always the possibility of unconsciously picking up 'story' from someone else. So I read no contemporary fiction but I do read lots of non-fiction for reference and research and some fiction from the Victorian period--like Jane Eyre or penny dread stories. I like reading those to gain understanding of voice, insight to the period, and experience authenticity.

You’re writing comic books, dark Gothic steampunk. Do you read the same literary genres as yours or switch to different ones?


Hm! If I were aware of more stories like the ones I tell, I might collect them. I think like lots of book lovers, I accumulate way more books than I've time to read, and my first criteria for fiction is whether I find the premise very intriguing. If I may experience something I've yet to know or the characters are ones I'd like to know, then that's a story that interests me. So it's not a matter of genre as it could be a biography, historical-based, a mystery, a horror, magical realism, literary fiction, speculative fiction, and so on.




Do you have books that totally won your heart and
you would recommend them without any hesitation?

Heck yes, but they are all children's books. If I were only allowed to have a very few books on a desert island, I would pick the Mary Poppins series by P.L. Travers, illustrated by Mary Shepard, and The L. Frank Baum Oz series, illustrated by John R. Neil. Tick-Tock of Oz, for example. I probably love the book because it has the most female characters in relationship to male ones who are substantially involved in the story. And they're varied and wonderful. Besides Betsy there's the effervescent Pollychrome, the demure Rose Princess, and the incredible Queen Ann   Soforth. It is certainly not the best Baum book and it is uneven, yet it is adventure, it is innocent, and delightful. If anyone still had a child inside themselves to nurture, then these books are for them.


First bookish memory?

How odd, I'll take that as what books I first remember encountering rather than what I read. That would be my dad's Thai-English dictionaries, which were these thick, pocket-sized editions, probably from the sixties, with very thin pages that were already acidifying. I remember looking at the Thai and English letters and then drawing on them with a blue ballpoint pen to connect the symbols together. I was probably about four years old.

Any favorite quotes?

Yes! Here are three to put in your pocket:

  Be as thou wast wont to be.

See as thou wast wont to see. -

- Oberon to Titania,  A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare.


Not knowing when the dawn will come. I open every door. -

- Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems.

To write with taste, in the highest sense, is to write with the assumption that one out of a hundred people who read one's work may be dying, or have some loved one dying; to write so that no one commits suicide, no one despairs; to write as Shakespeare wrote, so that people understand, sympathize, see the universality of pain, and feel strengthened, if not directly encouraged, to live on.

- John Gardner, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers.




You can follow Elizabeth Watasin's blog on BookLikes here: 'Tis Nyte! by Elizabeth Watasin.


It was a great pleasure to interview writer, illustrator and artistic soul in one body. Thank you, Elizabeth.

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text 2013-09-14 10:06
Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

We're happy to introduce first guest in Author Talks series on BookLikes. 


Elizabeth Watasin is the acclaimed author of the Gothic steampunk novels The Dark Victorian: Risen,The Dark Victorian: Bones and the creator/artist of the indie comics series Charm School. She has worked as an animator on thirteen Disney feature films, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King. She's also BookLikes Author who shares her writing and reading passion on her blog: 'Tis Nyte! by Elizabeth WatasinShe lives in Los Angeles with her black cat named Draw. 


Elizabeth Watasin agreed to talk with us and here's what she revealed. 



You’re an illustrator, animator, comic writer. Was The Dark Victorian: Risen your first novel?


Yes, Risen is my first long form fiction to go to print. I've embraced long form fiction for storytelling, so it won't stop there!

You’re talented artist, readers can enjoy illustration galleries in printed versions of your Dark Victorian books. How did you develop your drawing skills? 

To develop skills I had to draw lots and lots. It's hard work and the learning never stops. I earned an illustration degree in art school, but my real learning began as an in-studio artist for 2D animation, surrounded by veterans and amazingly gifted peers. I also practiced sequential art--the art of comics storytelling--at the same time and kept growing in that skill. In the end, there are reasons why I draw the kinds of illustrations and covers I do for the Dark Victorian, same as why I drew my indy comic book, Charm School: What do women feel like? What does living---breathing, moving, emotions---look like? How to make them real? These are my motivations when drawing.


Is it easier to write a story or draw a story? Was mix of illustrations and text natural for you when you started writing a novel?
Whether it's easier to draw a story or write a story--that's hard to answer! Each can achieve certain things the other can't depending on the kind of story you may want to tell. I switched to long form fiction just so I could get very immersive, epic-size stories done. If the Dark Victorian series were drawn, I'd need a few more lifetimes to get it done in my drawing style. That said, it was a difficult transition to go from visuals 
that tell the story to writing only words. I found myself fighting my sequential art aesthetics, which isn't just a form of visual expression but a means of giving the experience of timing, nuance, place, and emotion.

To break from sequential narrative, I tried a children's book first (still in progress), where I managed to go to single illustrations per page. Then when I was comfortable with more words, less pictures, I finally progressed to all words telling the entire story and illustrations as accompaniment. I'm very happy with that outcome.

I would love to do a fully illustrated novel. Not sequential art, I mean 20 illustration plates, chapter head illustrations, end papers, a "this book belongs to", fleurons, the whole 'art of the book' bit. An illustrated novel should be a hardcover. But that's all 'dreams' and 'some days'. I need the stories done first!

Tell me something about your writing process. How the idea, the sparkle of Dark Victorian series was brought alive?‬ 


I probably write the kinds of stories I do because those are the stories I want to read. There are lots of kick-ass heroines out there, but I'm doing truly uncanny ones with personalities I enjoy who happen to be lesbian or same-sex sympathetic. Artifice, or Art as she's known, in the Dark Victorian series is over six feet tall, a strongwoman, and a gentle Quaker. But she'll punch out evil without a second thought--she just reserves that second thought for later when she ponders her pacifist ideals. Elle Black is the picture of a proper Victorian housewife except that she's a telekinetic and a bit eccentric, if not dorky. Like any spouse with a gorgeous, popular wife, she'll have to deal with conniving spouse-stealers, a disapproving mother-in-law, as well as insidious supernatural evil.


Once I have my wonderful characters it's just a matter of figuring out the world they're in; for both Art and Elle, it's an alternate 1880 mechanical and supernatural London. Then somehow, I'm not sure how, their stories come to me--the trials they face, the answers about themselves they must learn. Who will love them. How, in the face of some pretty scary stuff, they manage to survive. I am learning with them, and maybe I'm discovering along with them.



Could you think of literary character that you would like to meet face to face? What would your ask him/her?
Is it terrible that I want to pick my own characters? The reason being that if I got to speak with Mary Poppins--who might be really rude, so that might not work out--I'd probably say very little except, "Omg, I LOVE you". Which would be a bit useless. But if I could meet my own characters, I could ask them, "Did I do right by you? Are you okay?". As much hardship as I put my heroines through, they're not my playthings or my avatar. Ultimately, I want them to have a meaningful life.

Paper books or e-books? Why?

I would say paper, though I now read e-books too. The reason why I favour paper is because it remains memorable, and because it's tactile and an object, which has true value to our senses. We can enjoy the artwork, we can enjoy the ink on pages (especially if they're professionally typeset), we can enjoy the weight, presence, and scent. E-books are proving really disposable, at least to me. Once done, I sometimes can't remember what I've read. To be able to interact physically with a book is to create a longer impression on the senses and establishes memory.


Favorite reading place?

For now, that would be my bed!



In second part of interview Elizabeth Watasin will reveal books that won her heart, plans for Dark Victorian series development and what she's reading while writing. Can't miss this!

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text 2013-09-07 10:12
Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

On Tuesday we presented the first part of new BookLikes series Book Blog Talks. Our first talker is Sabrina from Happy Books. It's time now to reveal second part of our Q & A section (read first part here: Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One). Happy reading!



I came across information that you usually start adventure with books from the very last page. That’s quite surprising, readers usually don’t want to know the ending before they start reading a given book. Is it different for you?


I love all kinds of spoilers because they don't spoil things for me. Knowing what will happen at the end of a book makes me more relaxed and able to get into a book. Otherwise I'm a very anxious reader and I constantly worry about what will happen at the end, so reading the ending of a book at first takes that pressure off me and makes it more probable that I will be able to open myself up to the story. My mum does the same, so I'm sure that loving spoilers and reading the end of a book at first or at least after the first several chapters is a hereditary thing. ;)


In your opinion, what does a book need to have to be a good book?


As long as a book manages to touch my heart, to make me feel deeply and allows me to connect with the main characters, it's a good book for me.


You read a lot. How do you pick books to read? Book covers, other reviews, family recommendations?


I discover a lot if interesting books online. Of course here on BookLikes, but also in Videos, in blog posts, at online bookstores and of course in real bookstores. Good, interesting covers are always a draw, but I also often listen to recommendations by other people who have a similar taste in books. And of course I love browsing through bookstores, I could spent hours there.


You read and talk about books. How book blogging (if at all) is different from book vlogging? Any hints for beginners?


I started book blogging in 2008 when the community was pretty small and I'm happy about that, because nowadays I think the scene can be a bit intimidating and cliquey. Running my book channel on Youtube feels a bit more relaxed to me, there are less norms people try to fit you in and so far I have experienced less drama on Youtube than I have in the book blogger world, but of course there are also cliques and things that certain people think are a must. I generally don't care what the "cool" people do or say, I just do my own thing and that has worked for me both on my blog and on my channel. For me it's all about having fun, meeting other readers and discussing good books.
I would tell beginners to find their own way, don't just duplicate what others are doing, find your own style and never forget that book blogging and vlogging are meant to be a joyful activity, only do what feels good to you and don't change because somebody says that your style, equipment, etc. is not good enough. Have fun, read good books and talk about them with other readers, nothing is more important.
Do you have books that totally won your heart
and you would recommend them without any hesitation?
The whole Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts, Angel's Fall by Nora Roberts, the J.D. Robb books, Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Anna and the French kiss & Lola and the boy next door by Stephanie Perkins, Eon & Eona by Alison Goodman, Unsticky & You don't have to say you love me by Sarra Manning, The good luck girl (aka Leaving Unknown) by Kerry Reichs, If I stay by Gayle Forman, Persuasion & Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh to name only a few.
I could go on with this list for a very long time. :)
Paper books or e-books? Why?
I love my paper books, I own an ereader but never use it. Sometimes I read on my smartphone but normally only when I have an eARC (advanced readers copy), other than that I prefer paper books. I love the smell and feeling of a paper book, I love the weight of it and the option to just browse through the pages. I love books with great designs and I love adding good books to my home library, so paper books are my true love.
Favorite reading place?
At home in my comfy seat, at night in bed or on the train, I get so much reading done when I'm on the train!
Any favorite quotes?
Sadly I'm horrible at remembering quotes, there is one German quote that I can remember because it made me very thoughtful - "Würde ist Sein im Konjuktiv", but this quote only works in German. The quote is from the play "Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern" by Lukas Bärfuss and as soon as I heard this little sentence I couldn't forget it. 
There is another quote I can remember and that love, it's part of a longer sentence and it's from "Kiss and Tell" by Linda Howard, it's "... but if his eyes saw any imperfections, his heart didn't care."
P.S. The BookLikes Team would also like to say warm and loud "Thank you!" to Sabrina for her help and support in German translations on BookLikes. You rock, Girl! :)
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