November 28, 2016

The Reading Book Post, November 28th

Hello, everyone! It's the end of November and, let's face it, there is one thing that we are all expecting. I'm talking about Christmas, and to be honest, I can't wait! I've already decorated (but just a little) my home, and it's about time I began my season reading. Do you have any recommendations for me? Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The shortlist for the Costa book awards 2016 was announced and women authors dominated it. More specifically, 14 out of the 20 nominees were female authors in overall five categories. 

  • Nowadays, audiobooks are part of all of the bookworms' lives. But when was the first audiobook recorded? A collector in Canada has recently discovered one of the first audiobooks that ever existed. It's a recording from 1935 of the novella by Joseph Conrad, called Typhoon.

  • This is amazing! The new Marvel's U.S. Avengers #1 has variant covers and its state has its own superhero! Which superhero matches your state (I'm super jealous)? 

  • Fidel Castro passed away a few days back. But the Cuban revolutionary had developped relationships good, bad, and...fictional with many prominent literary figures.

  • Which Literary Character Is Your Angsty Twin? Take the quiz to find out. I got Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, which one did you get?

  • So, every once in a while the book quotes featured on the side of The Reading Armchair change. If you want to see all of the existing book quotes, and some that have yet to appered on the blog you visit the pinterest board where I upload all of them!

November 21, 2016

The Reading Book Post, November 21st

The Reading Book Post

Hello, everyone! Recently I've been lucky enough to read some amazing comics and novels (Deadpool v. Gambit and Ico: Castle in the Mist). I promise that during the next days reviews for both of them are coming. In the meantime, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The 2016 Guardian Clildren's Fiction Prize was awarded to Alex Wheatle for his novel Crongton Knights. Moreover, Philippe Sands was given the Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction for his book East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

  • Furthermore, the winners of the National Book Awards 2016 have become public. Colson Whitehead won for his novel The Underground Railroad in the fiction category, while Ibram X. Kendi won in the Nonfiction category for his book Stamped from the Begenning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. The award for Young People's Literature was given to John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Artist) for their book March: Book Three and the award for poetry was givel to Daniel Borzutzky for his poem collection The Performance of Becoming Human.

  • One of the most interesting awards each year are definitely the Bad Sex in Literature awards. This year's shortlist for this not-so-prestigious awards have become known

  • Anna Kendrick's book has recently been released and I can't wait to read it. Until then, you can listen to the actress herself reading an excerpt from Scrappy Little Nobody.

  • I have great news for all the fans of science fiction! Stranger in a Strange Land, the classic sci-fi novel by Robert Heinlein will be adapted into a TV series by Syfy.

  • Do you love Anne of Green Gable? Do you, by any chance, like Rachel McAddams? Well, there is a new audiobook of the 1908 classic read by the famous actress. You can listen to an excerpt of the upcoming audiobook, which will be up for sale tomorrow.

  • We love them! We read their books again and again! But, authors also have a favourite novel. See which novels are among the favourites of some of the most famous authors!

  • Which Inspirational C. S. Lewis Quote Do You Need to Get Through the Day? Take the quiz to find out! I got You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream, how about you?

November 19, 2016

Guest Post: How Research Shaped my Work, by Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Konstantinafor allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for Yellow Hair, I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of the manuscripts in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to Yellow Hair. As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.
But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign tolet you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

The three books I alluded to above are:

I would like to thank Konstantina once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

Andrew Joyce


Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

Find Yellow Hair and connect with Andrew Joyce at the following links:

I would like to thank Andrew Joyce for this very interesting and insightful guest post on researching before writing a historical novel. I hope that you all check out his novel Yellow Hair!

November 14, 2016

The Reading Book Post, November 14th

Hello, everyone! It's almost winter and I'm so happy because I can finally enjoy my time under a warm blanket with a cup of tea by my side and a good book. It's definitely the best! Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • Lisa Gorton is sharing the Prime Minister's Literary Award 2016 with Charlotte Wood. Gorton was awarded the prize for her novel The Life of Houses, while Wood for her novel The Natural Way of Things. Furthermore, the Goldsmiths prize for books was given to Mike McCormack for his single sentence novel, Solar Bones.

  • The saddest news of the week was of course the passing of Leonard Cohen at the age of 82. Many artists paid tribute to the great poet and songwriter, but I particularly found touching the words that George R.R. Marting wrote on his personal blog

  • A never before seen poem written by Anne Frank has recently been descovered. The poem is 12 lines long, it's penned by Anne Frank and was discovered in a friendship book of the older sister of Anne's best friend. How much I'd love to read it!

  • Love Tangled? A new book set between the movie and the short film Tangled Ever After is set to be published. The author of the middle-grade novel will be Leila Howland, who had previously written the Nantucket Blue.

  • It seems like the end of the Outlander series is near. Ok, don't panic just yet as there will be two more instalments in the series. The author, Diane Gabaldon, revealed that the story will be completed in the 10th novel.  

  •  Looking for some bookish accessories to wear this season? I believe that these literary tights will be the piece of clothing that every bookworm should have in her closet! I'm definitely getting one of these!

  • Which YA Book Villain Are You? Take the quiz to find out. I got President Snow from The Hunger Games, which one did you get?

November 5, 2016

Weeckies: The End of the Party, by Graham Greene

Hello, everyone! It's time for another Weeckies, or The weekly short story! So, this week's short story is The End of the Party written by Graham Greene in 1929. I have read it from the collection Twenty-One Stories, but you can also read it online for free from Classic Short Stories.

This short story turned out to be far more creepy than I originally expected it to be! Graham Greene is a master at conveying all those hidden feelings that are hard to express. In this story, more particularly, he does this with excellent craftsmanship. 

The story revolves around two twins, Peter and Francis Morton. They are both invited to a birthday party of a girl, although Francis doesn't want to go no matter what. Peter is overprotective and tries to convince their nurse that Francis shouldn't go to the party, and later, when everything has failed, that he shouldn't participate in the game of hide and seek. It turns out that Francis is terribly afraid of the dark, and each year at this party, they play a game of hide and seek in the dark. This year though Peter seeks for his brother, in order to make the darkness a little more bearable with his presence. But when the lights go back on, terror spreads through everyone.

The End of the Party is indeed a very dark short story. From the very beginning we feel that something is going to happen. The intensity is building with every excuse that Francis tries to find and the final doom comes without a single violent scene. It's there, you know that Francis goes through something terrible although you never lose hope that he will eventually cope with it, and then everything is gone. Just like that. I was genuinely shocked by the end of this story!

Francis is an anxious boy. He can't tell to his mother that he doesn't want to go to this party, although he struggles really hard to deal with this fact. He is also very dependent on Peter. From the very first paragraph we learn that those two are identical twins and go as far as feel that they are the same person. Maybe twins are really like that. Maybe they do think alike, and feel alike, or even sense where each other is. But for me Peter is the most tragic person of this story! He tries to protect Francis, and ultimately his act is the one that causes the final incident. 

I highly recommend The End of the Party. It's a short story that best describes the psychological horror of a 9 year old boy. 

Have you read any of Graham Greene's short stories? What did you think about the End of the Party? Which one would you recommend to me?