The Blogger Recognition Award

I have been nominated by the brilliant Kiersten @ Once Upon a Spine. (Go check her out, you wont regret it) The Blogger Recognition Award is to highlight bloggers who put a lot of time and effort into their blogs, gives them a chance to share some tips and share their favourite blogs with their readers.

Once you are nominated, if you wish to accept your nomination, you must follow these rules:

  • Generate a post about the award.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a brief story about how your blog began.
  • Provide two pieces of advice to newbie bloggers.
  • Select 15 blogs to nominate.
  • Comment on each nominee’s blog and provide a link to the post that you created about the award.

I am going to break the 15 tags rule. I will just tag people until I cant think of anyone else to tag.

How The Spines Cracked

Once upon a time there was an odd little girl who was on the hunt for a horror novel to read. She loved book blogging and followed all of the famous book youtubers but alas she could not find a single creepy book to read. What was she to do? No one read the books she liked. Sure she liked a lot of the popular books but when Halloween or the urge to read something scary rolled around there were no books to be found. And the last thing she wanted was to read a book about vampires kissing boring teenage girls with no personalities, because that is the sort of monster books the blogs and youtube videos were offering her. So, since no one else was doing it, she decided to start reviewing them herself. She did her homework, scrolling through hours of Goodreads recomendations until she found a pile of books to read and review. She would fill the hole in the blogging world, and maybe she would read a few fun books along the way too.

And she lived creepily ever after.

Tips for New Bloggers

Dont Blog to be Famous

I know we live in a world of professional youtubers and internet fame but don’t start a blog expecting the followers to roll in and for you to be walking the red carpet the following week. That doesn’t happen, and that sort of existence isn’t fun. It is stressful and you end up producing poor quality content. Enjoy blogging for the sake of blogging. You will make lots of friends and you will have a platform to share all of your interests and opinions.

Also people can tell when you are trying too hard. It is off putting and a little embarrassing.
Think Outside the Box

Don’t read the books everyone else is reading, don’t create the same content as everyone else and don’t post things just because they are popular. Be yourself. Sure that other stuff might have an audience but it already has an audience. Create your own thing. Sure it’s ok to like the popular things but don’t be frightened to show the weird stuff you like too.

Life is like Tetris, if you fit in you will disappear.

Be yourself, be weird, and write it down.

The Blogs I’m Nominating

Beware of the Reader

Introverted Book Nerd 

Confessions of a YA Reader

A Reader’s Journey

Bionic Book Worm

Birdie Bookworm

This Is My Truth Now

The Past Due Book Review

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5 Reasons Why I Love Horror Novels

This post was inspired by a comment from Beware of the Reader   on my 5 Reasons Why I Blog post last week. She isn’t a fan of horror but was interested in why I found it, not only enjoyable, but enjoyable enough to spend my time reading and reviewing horror novels. Yes, I also review thriller and generally dark novels but horror seems to be the marmite of book genres and the one I get asked about the most. People either love it or hate it, but I don’t think it is possible to hate an entire genre, there is always something for everyone.

So let me try to convince you by explaining why I love the horror genre.

1. Human Monsters

In my experience the best horror novels do not have an entirely supernatural villain. A human villain or a villain with human motives makes the novel relateable. It makes it scary. Human villains are the worst because they could actually exist, or in the case of many “based on a true story” novels like The Girl Next Door, they did actually exist. Ghosts, ghouls and all things creepy are brilliant but there is nothing scarier than a human monster.

2. The Atmosphere

Have you ever spent a cold, dark night with a storm rattling around outside reading a creepy book? No? Then you are missing out. I think as a reader you haven’t truly lived until you have read Frankenstein, Dracula, Poe or some other classic horror novel during a thunderstorm. It is even better if you do it by candle light.

So next time the weather is awful gather your blankets, pick up a classic horror novel, get a cup of tea, curl up and get reading. Also open the window a little so you can hear the storm better. It is one of the best reading experiences.

3. Something For Everyone

People tend to think of horror as a one track pony but that isn’t true at all.

Don’t like ghosts and supernatural things? Ok, find a horror novel based around regular people. Not comfortable with gore? Fine! Research your novel a bit to see if you can handle it or read a psychological horror. Easily scared? Easy! Read a YA horror or find a book about something that doesn’t scare you.

There are so many different ways to frighten someone so naturally the horror genre has a large variety of fears to choose from. I think a perfect example of this is the short story collection Dark Water. The entire collection is based around the theme of water and covers every possible fear with just water being featured somewhere in the story.

I plan to write guide someday to help people find the right horror novel with recommendations of course.

4. The Backstories

My favourite part of anything horror related is the backstory. What made all of the events happen? What horrible thing is the driving source behind the characters and the story? The explanation is always my favourite. There is usually a brilliant flashback or a plot twist thrown in. I love it and it keeps me hooked.

Also what I don’t understand is that I have seen so many people write “why I love YA/Fantasy/dystopian” lists and have a point on their list about loving the dark moments, and then on another post saying they hate horror. Clearly you don’t hate horror. You are just turning down an entire genre of that thing you just said you love. Maybe you just haven’t found the right book.

5. Morbid Curiosity

Have you ever read a story in the news that is tragic and terrible but find yourself wondering what exactly happened? Sure you will get the jist of it in the news but you just want the gory details. This is what drew me to the world of horror in the first place.

My introduction to the horror genre was when I watched the 1931 Frankenstein film as a small child. My grandfather made horror film props so the only thing to watch in his house was Hammer and Universal horror films. I don’t know how many of you have seen it but there is a scene in Frankenstein were the monster meets a little girl and they spend time throwing flowers into water and watching them float. They run out of flowers and the monster picks up the little girl and throws her into the water to see if she would float like the flowers. She drowns. This scene filled 5 year old me with so much curiosity, so much so that it stuck in my head forever. I learned two things: A little girl like me can die (something which had never occurred to me before) and the monster that did it wouldn’t understand what it did. The monster was innocent. I loved it so much that the following Halloween I dressed up as the Bride of Frankenstein.

I think when it comes to scary stories, especially those with characters similar to ourselves, we can relate so much we end up hooked. It makes us address our own mortality or our own humanity if we relate to the villain.

So these are my reasons for loving the horror genre. Tell me your favourite genre below or, if you are a fan of horror, tell me why you love it. Or heck, tell why you don’t like horror novels. I would love to read your reasons.

Q&A Questions? Hitting 300 Followers

This blog is very close to hitting 300 followers. We are not quite there yet, but thank you all for taking such an interest in my blog.  My wonderful followers and the book blogging community keep this place interesting.

I plan on celebrating hitting the 300 follower milestone by doing a little Q&A once the number hits 300.

So, send me your questions! Whether it be about books, blogging or anything else you think of, ask away. Either by commenting on this post or sending me them on Instagram (@belle_and_books).

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons Why I Blog

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the brilliant Bionic Bookworm. Check her out if you are not following her already.

I apologise in advance if I get a little ranty on this topic. I have a lot of feelings behind book blogging. I also apologise if I seem a little mean to the YA genre. I love it really. I just have a lot of feelings about blogging. It’s ok to like popular things, they are popular for a reason.

1.The Lack of Horror Book Blogs

Once upon a time I was a regular book blogger, some of you who have been following me for a while might remember that phase, I posted the same style of posts as everyone else, read the same cheesy YA as everyone else and even used selfies where I tried to look “normal”, but then I got bored.

I was in the mood to read something creepy and scary but no matter how many popular book blogs or booktube accounts I visited I just found the same books everywhere. Everyone read the same books and with the exception of a small handful I couldn’t find any horror novel recommendations. Sure, booktubers had some but they all read that exact same ones, probably ones they had been paid to flog to everyone in October. I was bothered, and the more I thought about it the more I realised that as a book blogger I was only reading what I was being told to read. I didn’t read any classics, except for a small handful, I didn’t know where to start when it came to finding a good horror book to satisfy my urges, but damn I knew the names of probably 100 chosen one, love triangle filled YA dystopian fantasies. Something had to change.

So…I changed my blog. I became a book blog for all things creepy, kooky and ever so ooky, and I haven’t looked back. I now blog to fill that gap that exists in the book blogging world.

Also it lets me be myself a little more. I am a generally creepy person who listens to 80s goth rock and wears black 90% of the time.

By the way, if you have been following me long enough to remember my “normal” phase let me know, you deserve a shout out for putting up with me for this long.

A long time ago this skull infested place was pastel!

2. To Rant

The main reason why I started book blogging in the first place was to rant about books I hate. I read a book that made me really mad, so much so that I built a blog just to complain about it. I am pretty sure that book was Divergent. I am not sorry. I love writing positive reviews but it is more fun to write reviews or posts dripping with sarcasm.

3. To Help Others

Like I said in my first point, my current blog was born out of a hunt for a decent horror novel to read so I want to save others the hassle and give them a blog full of dark and spooky recommendations. This is why I read and review Halloween and horror themed books for children. Everyone knows a child who loves vampires and witches, whether it be all year round or just on Halloween, so I want to help parents find perfect reading material for them.

This is also why I give warnings for every book I review. I know people don’t like reading about certain things so I like to give everyone a heads up if anything potentially upsetting is in a book.

4. To Support the Genre

When was the last time you noticed a horror section in a bookshop that was more than 1 bookcase and wasn’t half fantasy? Exactly.

This is another reason why I run a horror themed blog. The genre just isn’t popular any more. In fact the horror section in my local bookshop was taken away to be replaced by more YA shelves. That’s right, Poe, Bram Stoker, Shelley, they were all pushed aside for The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent.

Don’t get me wrong I love me some YA but back when I was considering the future of this blog I watched my favourite authors being removed and was told by a book shop employee that they just weren’t popular any more. My favourites were shoved in a forgotten bookcase in a far off corner in the shop that you have to go on a quest to find.

I want to shine a light on those forgotten books.

5. It is Fun

Book blogging is fun! The community is awesome, the tags are fun and you constantly have an excuse to buy more books. I might complain about it sometimes but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it.

 

Anything but Books Tag

I saw this tag on Kiersten @ Once Upon a Spine’s blog and it looked like a lot of fun so I decided to give it a go. Check out Kiersten’s blog if you are not following her already. Her answers are pretty cool.

NAME A CARTOON THAT YOU LOVE 

Adventure Time! I usually don’t watch western cartoons and I can be fussy about animation quality but for some reason I make an exception for this show. Honestly, I only started watching it because small children kept calling me Marceline. I had to be in on the joke.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG RIGHT NOW?

Right now it is probably Release the Bats by The Birthday Party or Common People by Pulp. I mostly listen to 80s music.

WHAT COULD YOU DO FOR HOURS THAT ISN’T READING?

Antiquing and thrifting. I have a passion for history and vintage fashion so naturally this leads to me spending entire days hunting through vintage clothing shops and antique shops for things to beautify both myself and my home with. I am also on a constant hunt for old band t-shirts.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU LOVE TO DO THAT YOUR FOLLOWERS WOULD BE SURPRISED BY? 

I cook. A lot. I am a bit of a foodie and when I am not having food adventures in restaurants I am cooking the dishes I cannot find in restaurants so I can try them.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE, UNNECESSARILY SPECIFIC THING TO LEARN ABOUT? 

19th century history, specifically the Victorian underworld, crime and medical practices. And Queen Victoria’s pet Pomeranians.

WHAT IS SOMETHING UNUSUAL YOU KNOW HOW TO DO? 

I know how to remove all of the gory parts off a skull. …I am friends with a lot of taxidermists, and used to work in a morgue, you pick things up.

NAME SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE MADE IN THE LAST YEAR. 

Does my house count? I bought a house recently so all of my DIY energy has been going into that. My bedroom is my favourite room so far.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST RECENT PERSONAL PROJECT? 

Right now I am currently building my own library. I want it to have a Victorian or steampunk theme so it is taking a lot of time and a lot of money. I will share photos when it is done, I promise.

TELL US  SOMETHING THAT YOU THINK OF OFTEN. 

My D&D character. I have only started playing and when I get bored at work I tweak or add things to his backstory in my head. I could probably write a book about this guy by now.

TELL US SOMETHING THAT’S YOUR FAVORITE, BUT MAKE IT ODDLY SPECIFIC. 

Red food. It is weird but if something is red I will be convinced that it will taste nicer than any other food of a different colour.

…Maybe the children are right, I am Marceline…

I tag anyone who wants to do this tag. Let me know if you do because I want to read them all.

New Series: Frightful Fridays


Have you ever wondered about the real life horror stories that inspired popular horror fiction? The folklore, the haunted houses, crimes, urban legends and ghost stories that triggered the writer’s creativity. Well, this is what my new series will be about.

If you didn’t know already, I run multiple blogs outside of Spine Cracker. One of which is a very popular paranormal and folklore blog. I have been tempted for a long time to combine the two in some small way. After all, I usually review horror and dark books and the writers had to get their ideas from somewhere. And the inspiration behind some horror and thriller novels can be just as chilling as the works of fiction.

So this has lead to the creation of Frightful Fridays. Every Friday (or at least every Friday possible) I will choose a book and share some of the real life horror stories that inspired it. Maybe I will throw some historical true crime in there while I am at it.

A Disclaimer:

I am not going to claim to be the expert in everything and I am going to try to keep things as factual as possible. I don’t want to trivialise anyone else’s culture. I know I hate it when people do it with my own. Americans are usually guilty of annoying me with this constantly.

I will cite sources, be open to critique and additional information on anything. It will be fun to start a discussion and maybe you will add more interesting information to Frightful Fridays. Or hell, write your own Frightful Friday and link back. It would be awesome to read other spooky stories that inspired spooky novels because I don’t know everything.

So what do you think of this idea? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

Waiting for Wednesday: Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill

Book Synopsis:

“In this chilling stand-alone novel by the acclaimed David Macinnis Gill, sixteen-year-old Willow Jane discovers she has the ability to stop time, and witnesses an ancient evil infiltrating her Boston neighborhood and hunting her friends and family. This original and sinister spin on gothic tradition will appeal to fans of Asylum, American Horror Story: Coven, and The Walking Dead.

You cannot wake the Shadowless when she sleeps within my bed. Kiss the lips of the Shadowless and the morning finds you dead.

When a bolt of lightning causes a Boston-wide blackout on her sixteenth birthday, Willow Jane doesn’t think anything of it—until she begins stopping time, until she comes face-to-face with her menacing familiar, until her sister disappears. But these aren’t the only strange and horrifying things to come out of the storm. An ancient witch named the Shadowless has awoken and escaped from her crypt, and she’s looking for revenge on Willow Jane’s family.” 

Why I need it:

Personally I don’t think there is enough YA horror out there so when I see a new release in that genre that looks promising it goes straight on my to read list.

Honestly this book had me when the synopsis said it was for “fans of Asylum, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead” because I love 2 out of those 3 things. I am probably the only person in the world who hasn’t seen an episode of Walking Dead. When it comes to American Horror Story though I am a bit of a junkie.

The summary of this book that reminds of the Mara Dyer series. Another dark book where a teenage girl finds herself having sudden unexplained powers with a horror element. The Mara Dyer series might have had a disappointing ending but I will still always love the first and second books of the trilogy.

That cover is also seriously pretty. It is simple and impactful. And as someone who works in design that font made up of tiny twigs is just eye candy for me.

An interesting idea wrapped in a genre I want to read more from, Uncanny is one release I am looking forward to finally getting my hands on.

Uncanny is scheduled for release on the 5th of September 2017

Waiting for Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Break the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases, and continued by Wishful Endings

What is your favourite YA Horror novel? Maybe I will read and review it.