Fantasy Young Adult

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Book Thoughts)

Thanks to Wyrd & Wonder this month for hosting a read along for The Bone Witch! This book has been on my TBR for a while since it was pretty popular on bookstagram.  I was disappointed overall and all things considered don’t regret checking it out.

While the weekly discussion posts included spoilers, these are my spoiler free thoughts on the entire novel.

Bookish Quick Facts:
  • Title: The Bone Witch
  • Series: The Bone Witch #1
  • Author: Rin Chupeco
  • Publisher & Release: Sourcebooks Fire, 2017
  • Length: 432 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐ for fans of slow moving fantasy
Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

A story of scorned witches, sinister curses, and resurrection, The Bone Witch is the start of a dark fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of Serpent & Dove and The Cruel Prince.

Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha―one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

My Thoughts:

I wanted to hit two stars for most of the book and came so close to DNFing.

The one thing I will truly give the book credit for is keeping all content age-advertised appropriate.  There’s one use of the word ‘ass’ and nothing “physically romantic”, so I would let kids read this no problem.

There were a lot of potentially cool elements like resurrection, dark magic, undead familiar horses… I wanted to like this more but the second quarter of the book lost me irredeemably.

It was hard not having an antagonist or clear conflict throughout. I don’t come to necromancy to read about clothes and dancing. At the end, the antagonist that was presented felt tossed into the story with no clues or lead up or prior thought regarding the one responsible, which caused the ending to not be rewarding at all. She just revealed a bunch of new but apparently ongoing things and said ok, readers will accept this for sure since it has apparently been happening for weeks now.

The story is framed by Tea telling the events of the past to a bard. I kind of liked this because it gave a degree of separation from the teenage first person point of view. Something exciting is building up in the present as Tea bored me to tears with the past. I was expecting the time lines to meet up in book one, although the story that Tea is telling the bard at the end of The Bone Witch is still well behind the events happening in real time. I thought the frame would only frame one book but apparently not, and that’s what I found the most disappointing.

I also think that we wasted a lot of time learning about clothes and Asha customs and it felt essentially like reading Memoirs of a Geisha, to the point that I set it down for a week wondering if I should just go read that book again instead. Then there’s the random storyline of Likh wanting to cross dress and dance as an Asha, which isn’t inherently bad but it’s bad enough to read about women’s clothes for so long without adding men into it as well. Basically most of the “Asha Training” was boring as hell and the book left all actual plot and storyline with consequences to be damned until the last quarter or so.

There are a lot of cool things she could have done with an undead familiar. Fox could have been interesting but there were no consequences to his dead-ness until the third quarter when the author finally decided to characterize him. I also think Tea felt like a wet blanket. She didn’t really have an arc of growth or maturity, it was more about her excelling in “training” and coming through the novice Asha cough Geisha ranks.  I can’t even say she’s more mature in present time yet, more powerful yes but the rest is to be determined.

Chupeco did bring out the action and make it all much more interesting in the last quarter but prior to that I hadn’t been compelled to continue reading at any point throughout.

Also I don’t think the author owes the copy editor and proofreader any favors. Some dialogue hinted at previous events that as far as I could tell never occurred. Kalen referred to himself as Kalen a few times in conversation like the author forgot who was talking while writing the conversation, or had originally intended a third person to be talking. This book had a LOT of those kinds of errors. One of my biggest issues was how much of this felt ripped off from other books, it wasn’t just Geisha.

My general lack of interest was the result of lots of small things.adding up. In the big picture, the snail slow pace and lack of clear conflict didn’t align with a typical YA novel at all. I’d expect this pace for a slow burning and very long adult fantasy. Speaking of time it was also very hard to tell how much time was passing as the story went. At one point Tea was “almost 15” but I thought she was much older already. Then I couldn’t even remember two years having passed 🤷‍♀️

There were a few funny parts and some witty dialogue and overall it’s a good idea, but I don’t personally feel like the book delivered. I did LOL at the cow and the horse part. Even at the end when things are heating up and I expected answers, we just got more questions pointing towards the next book.

The series may get better as it goes but I don’t have any immediate interest in continuing the trilogy. It has some redeeming qualities and obviously going forward there’s going to be more action than party training (hopefully) so….we’ll see.

Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring O.R. Lea

Happy weekend everyone and welcome back to the Sunday Brunch Series! Today’s episode (31) starts a string of SPSFC feature interviews that O.R. Lea is kicking off for us!

The competition is currently in the final round, so while we wait for those scores to start coming in I thought it would be cool to interview some of the authors who participated!

O.R. Lea caught my eye with stories of travel, CATS, and a hard scifi novel in which first contact takes a slightly different approach.  I love the section below on theme and cultural divides! Read on to see these things plus his thoughts on the SPSFC and so much more.

🥞 Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! Can you tell everyone something about yourself that’s not in your author bio?

🎤 Aside from writing, my younger self’s dream was to be a rock star. I’ve played in numerous bands before finally admitting I’m not that great a guitarist, but I’ve recently started getting back into it, partly for fun, and partly because my teenage daughter is proving to be a very promising bassist and I want to be able to encourage and mentor her (as much as she’s willing to let me!)

🥞What’s your brunch order today?

🎤One English muffin with poached egg and a thick slice of black pudding

🥞 So I enjoyed the preview of your book, Riebeckite! It didn’t make the SPSFC semifinalist round but I hope you still had a positive experience? How do you feel about the competition overall?

🎤 Everyone involved is so supportive of each other, ‘competition’ almost doesn’t feel like the right word for it! I was read and wonderfully reviewed by some fellow contestants, and it was exciting to put in the same group as one of my favourite indie authors, Zamil Akhtar: when he made top 3 in the group, I was so stoked. And I was even more stoked that one of my indie author buddies, N. C. Scrimgeour, made the finals! She and I published around about the same time and accumulated reviews so closely in tandem with each other that it was almost a running joke. It’s awesome to see the wind is still in her sails and her trilogy is well worth checking out.

🥞 I know you said you were born in Wales, lived in Canada, and then settled in England – what other cool places have you lived or been?

🎤I’ve not done half as much travelling as I’d like, but I’d had holidays in Bulgaria, Romania, France, Germany, Czech Republic. My only visit to the USA was for the 2014 Roller Derby World Cup in Dallas, which was a blast!. I’m a huge fan of American whiskey so I definitely want to do the Kentucky bourbon trail one day.

🥞 Cool, I asked because it seems like bridging cultural and language divides is a big theme in Riebeckite, which uniquely enough takes place in the Persian Gulf!

🎤I’ve always enjoyed making friends all around the world and I grew up at a time when the internet was really starting to make that possible. You’re absolutely right, bridging divides is a major theme for me, but even more specifically than that is the truth that the divide between one country’s perceived culture and government and yours is much greater than the actual divide between you and an ordinary person from that country. Most of my books are set in non-western countries, and I always try to make contact with some people from that country and learn some of their language(s). This has become especially true in the past year, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I have friends in both countries, and none of them wanted to go to war – as always, it’s the people at the top who make those decisions. In fact, one of my fondest moments in making and marketing Riebeckite was commissioning a wonderful husband and wife photography team from Voronezh to produce a photoset of scenes from the book. Darya, who portrayed Tahira, speaks almost no English, so we communicated with a combination of my limited Russian and Google translate, even managing to share the occasional joke. I was blown away by how well they recreated my vision despite the language barrier.

Like I said, I love exploring unconventional locations in my books. I’ve written a mercenary adventure in Zimbabwe and an urban fantasy about vampires in Jordan. The earliest version of Riebeckite was quite different from the final version, in that it was going to be an alternative history scifi set in Soviet Azerbaijan in which the asteroid actually struck the earth, not the moon. I needed a big inland body of water for the asteroid to land in, hence the choice of the Caspian sea. While researching Azerbaijan I learned about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and hit upon the idea of childhood friends from opposite sides of the Azeri-Armenian divide having to work together. Whilst developing the idea, that conflict actually escalated, and I decided it might be a bit tasteless to use a real-world conflict for my story. When I came up with the idea of the bruised moon and the skyscrubbers, it made sense to have them being trialled on an island, and I absolutely fell in love with Qeshm as a setting. And inventing a fictional conflict between Azerbaijan and Iran allowed me to keep the idea about childhood friends working together across a divide.

🥞So Riebeckite is a hard scifi novel that focuses more on biology & technology?  My question had to do with choosing this storyline and setting say, vs, writing a space opera.  What draws people to various branches of sci-fi?

🎤I’ve actually never been married to a particular genre. It just so happens that I like stories about ordinary-ish people thrust into highly extraordinary circumstances, and when those circumstances involve magic or fantastical elements, it gets called Fantasy, and when it involves hypothetical natural or technological elements, it gets called Science Fiction. I’ve come to realise, in fact, that my favourite book trope is simply the Quest, but where the characters are all unprepared underdogs! Riebeckite is very much a near-future, earth-bound story, but it still contains ‘Quest’ elements, such as items which are acquired early on that turn out to have a surprising use later.


🥞What are your favorite scifi topics and tropes in general?

🎤 I like when SciFi explores the idea of just how alien and divergence life from other worlds might be. Unsurprisingly, the Alien franchise is one of my all time favourites. I’m also a huge John Wyndham fan: I love the way he write a very engaging human story with imaginative alien elements encroaching from the fringe.

🥞What other generally nerdy things are you into?

🎤 As a guitarist, I’m a geek for music gear to a degree thoroughly unjustified by my actual musical ability. I’m also a whiskey nerd: I keep a book of my tasting notes for every new whiskey or bourbon I try, and if I come across one I haven’t tried yet I absolutely have to buy a measure of it, not matter how much it costs or how early in the day it is. Finally, like many writers, I indulge in a little tabletop roleplay. Although, for me, this is less about the dice-rolling rules-exploiting min-maxing geekery, and more about the opportunity to enjoy a different format of storytelling.

🥞Is there a scifi book that you always recommend to everyone?

🎤 The scifi book(s) I recommend most often are Chris Wooding’s Tales of the Ketty Jay series. They are just so fabulously written, and I love everything about them. Recently I’ve been championing a fellow indie author, Steven William-Hannah, whose Interloper Series (beginning with Icebreaker) is just magnificent and I’m hoping he enters it into the SPSFC next year. But the one book I will never stop recommending to anyone who will listen is actually a fantasy series: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and its sequels. Lynch is the writer I wish I could be.

🥞What can we look for next from you?

🎤Torpor’s End – the sequel to Riebeckite, and the second and final book in the duology I’m calling the Bruised Moon Sequence – is landing on the 15th July. After that, I’ll just have to spin the tombola that is my brain and see what idea is ready to come out next. There is a “ghost ship in space” story idea I’m particularly excited about – so much so that I already commissioned the cover art as a promise to myself that it will be written eventually!

Thank you so much to O.R. Lea for taking the time to interview! You can find him online at:




Author photo credit at the top, to himself!

Stay tuned for SPSFC2 updates and good luck to everyone! As always, if you are reading this we love it when you leave comments and let us know you’re here!

Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

The Bone Witch Read-A-Long, Week Three

Artwork by Tithi Luadthong.  Week Three questions are hosted by Lisa at Dear Geek Place 

The book is finally heating up a bit. I finally got my undead horse familiar.  Fox finally got the characterization he needed from the start.  Some action is happening. I’ve lost my patience with the book overall but this week is a step in the right direction


Alright here are the questions:

There was someone else in Ankyo who could channel the Dark. And whoever it was, was after me. (P. 154)

1. Do you have any theories about who could be behind the skeleton incident, and why they’re after Tea?

So… My first thought is that if deathseekers, heart forgers, and dark Asha share some magical traits, could it have been Kalen? That doesn’t make sense though…

We are starting to see The Faceless portrayed as the eventual antagonist so I’m thinking it’s tied into one of them somehow. Maybe. It’s. Very frustrating to not have a clear idea of the plot yet

2. This week we learn why Fox has been turning up bruised and battered whenever he disappears on his own. We also learn that he’s been getting into disagreements with noble women! He’s gaining a lot of agency for an undead familiar – what are your thoughts on this, and where do you think his part in the story might lead him?

First off, I think the part where Fox’s “undeadness” shines through should have come much earlier in the book.  We know he still has his fatal wounds, we have seen the blood magic, and his entire character just feels a little more realistic now.  One curious thing is that Fox is not with Tea as she is telling the story to the Bard, so eventually he must go off in his own direction.  Where that is, who knows.

3. Tea gains her asha-sisters, and one of them is not like the others… What do you make of Zoya in this role? Do you think her relationship with Tea might develop into one that’s less antagonistic?

I think they will reconcile at some point when things get heated. Either that, or Zoya will be part of the downfall that causes Tea to be exiled. One or the other 🤷‍♀️

What I’m making of her so far is that Parmina wants Tea to keep her friends close and her enemies closer.  I also think Zoya is a pretty uncommon name and that some of the Zoya/Alina relationship from Shadow and Bone is being ripped off. If that’s the case though, they’ll form a begrudging respect at some point

4. Speaking of suspect characters and antagonistic relationships, Tea and Kalen find themselves in a new, if somewhat unwanted, position as student and teacher, respectively. Do you trust Kalen to learn something from his time as Tea’s instructor? For that matter, do you trust him at all given how seemingly opposed he is to Tea’s presence/nature in general?

I trust him, yes.  I think he’s devoted to Prince Kance and sees the benefit in training Tea to the best of her abilities.  I wonder if Kalen is the third spoke of the love triangle that was mentioned at the start of the book

5. This section ends on a rather dramatic cliffhanger – any thoughts or theories as to who’s behind the apparent attack at the darashi oyun?

I’ve got no idea, but I’m assuming it’s whoever did the skeleton as well. Did this person kill off that last other dark Asha too? Is there a dark Asha in the ‘other side’ who’s being employed to wreak havoc? Someone in secret we don’t know about?

Overall I’m frustrated by the pacing of the book despite the action heating up. It’s an adult epic fantasy pace (slow as tar) stuffed into a YA novel where we expect action. We know Tea is building an army but we don’t know who cast her out. Who is the man she loved that was wronged, slighted, and how? Who is she going to war against? It’s a bizarre way to unravel a story and I don’t hate it but I also can’t imagine this being popular with the target age group.

I’m ready to wrap this one up and staying cautiously optimistic for a wild ending

Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

From Phoenix Horses to the Royal Apothecary Society: Alchemy in Fantasy

Witch Art credit to Astromoali 

The subject of yesterday’s Wyrd & Wonder prompt, Alchemy, is one of my favorite fantasy topics. I will always read about alchemy.  There’s a lot that an author can do with the topic although usually it takes one of two forms:

1) Creating or locating an alchemist’s stone to transmute gold or other precious metal


2) Trying to create or locate an elixir of life

While those are not bad ideas, I find them overdone and frequent quest goals. I am going to highlight some of my favorite alchemy related books, ideas, and alchemists who do different things with the subject.

Alright let’s go!

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen: Alchemy -> Magic Phoenix Horses

Phoenix horses are cool by themselves, right? In this YA book that I affectionately dubbed Hunger Games meets The Scorpio Races, alchemists choose their materials to create magic horses with specific abilities.  They are in a potentially deadly phoenix race against other promising young alchemists and each ingredient gives the horses different powers.  That one was unique to me. I reviewed it here


Give the Dark My Love: Alchemy -> Necromancy

Alchemy is a higher trade and a young girl wants to go and learn the craft.  Alchemists can transmute, brew, craft crucibles of different metal, and then there is a forbidden fourth branch …. necromancy.  Alchemy is a wild ride in this as the crucibles can trap souls, transfer pain, create plague, and when the worst happens our main character takes off down the darkest road possible.  One of my favorite YA books. Look at her holding a crucible on the cover!


Grand Apothecary Putress: Alchemy -> Undead Plague

Branching off into a different sect of storytelling (but yes there’s a book too), the Royal Apothecary Society was a black line of lore in the Warcraft universe.  Creating potions, necromancy, the forsaken plague, general plague, and lord knows what else.


Grand Apothecary Putress eventually staged a coup at Wrathgate after years in service to Sylvanas and the Forsaken, and you’d better believe that I loved seeing his dead head roll at the end. 

Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven? Behold, now, the terrible vengeance of the Forsaken! Death to the Scourge! And death to the living!

A small but iconic figure in the universe for sure and one that I’ll always remember.

The Royal Apothecary Society’s story is best told in Sylvanas, although it’s a small role.


Snape -> Potions

Now that I’m branching off into favorite alchemists, I can’t neglect our favorite potions master aka THBP

What was your favorite Snape moment? There aren’t enough potions masters in fantasy as major characters.  It’s not usually an exciting topic for book matter but I always love a brewmaster


A Far Wilder Magic: Alchemy -> Magical Hunt

Here’s one more book that I’ve read fairly recently, where the competitive hunt is on for a magical creature.  Hunters enter in teams of two: a sharpshooter and an alchemist.  Margaret is a sharpshooter, and Weston is…well … barely an alchemist in training. He had natural talent though, kind of. There wasn’t as much alchemy as I’d have liked in this one but it was a different concept. I reviewed it here 


The Lady Alchemist

I’m surprised that it took so long for Rumplestilksin – with – alchemy to become a thing.  Here, Samantha Vitale has a young alchemist attempting and unable to transmute straw into gold as a prison sentence.  Eventually she has to transmute a body for a magician and things get a little twisted, but I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit


What fantasy books with alchemy do you recommend?? I need more and am always looking for unique takes!

General Posts, Non Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that get in the way of reading!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together

Procrastination is a near and dear thing to me so this is a great top ten list for me! Let’s jump in because number one is threatening my time frame already:

1. Work!

Unfortunately I have a full time job that’s pretty demanding. I work straight nights and while I occasionally have time to steal a few pages, usually it’s way too busy. Nurse life!

2. Feeding off that: sleep.

I’m ALWAYS tired and sometimes I just nod off while reading.  Darn the human need for sleep and the night shift culture of always being ready to pass out

3. My animals

I’ve got a cat and dog that are always vying for attention, and there are the horses too.  My youngest is nearly big enough to carry a rider now and that’s going to become my main time sink outside of work soon! She just turned two today actually!


4. My property!

I have a huge yard and garden and woods that I’m trying to reclaim into usable space, so a TON of my spare time is spent outside.  I’ll listen to an audiobook while gardening but obviously can’t while mowing or cutting up fallen trees lol. It’s just me doing all that AND the house work too and I’m just, too tired sometimes 

5. June’s Journey

I have been an avid June player for years now and am in a fairly competitive league team.  I’m losing interest and now only play during competitive weeks but man, that game is a time sink and a half

6. Reviewing and the blog

I am pretty sure I spend almost as much time reviewing and writing and planning as I do reading. I’ve backed off on these things a lot and am focusing on me more but I don’t seem to be getting as many pages read these days

7. My eyes

My vision is getting pretty bad, to the point where if I’m on Kindle I read with pretty large font. I also get headaches more frequently so it’s hard to buckle down and read for any length of time 

8. Other people’s dogs

This is less frequent but I’m a part time participant in a rescue that helps transport animals across the country to new homes! I usually take a few hours of driving with an overnight leg and lose a few reading hours to that.  It’s really fun though 

9. Random scrolling

I should have thought of this one sooner.  I love my Kindle because I can’t do this but sometimes I just zone out and spend time scrolling book Twitter, WordPress blogs I’m following, etc, and end up spending more time consuming other people’s book literature than my own

10. Life in general

You know how it goes 🤣

So what things keep you from reading?

audiobooks Fantasy

Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams (Audiobook)

I am finally back with more book content! While sticking to fantasy books this month for Wyrd & Wonder, it seemed like a good time to revisit a classic fantasy tale.  Plus I misread one of the prompts, ‘Magic Casters’, as ‘Magic Cats’, so I was looking for fresh cat magic to talk about.  Tailchaser’s Song is a book that I almost couldn’t finish as a teen, and now as an adult it’s a whole different reading experience.

Let’s take a look at the book then I’ll share some brief thoughts

Bookish Quick Facts:
  • Title: Tailchaser’s Song
  • Series: Standalone
  • Author: Tad Williams
  • Publisher & Release: DAW – originally 1985, reissue edition 2000
  • Length: 333 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ if you love stories about animals
Here’s the blurb:

Fifteen years ago, a young author surprised and enchanted readers with his first novel—the story of Fritti Tailchaser, a courageous tom cat in a world of whiskery heroes and villains, of feline gods and strange, furless creatures called M’an.

The book was Tailchaser’s Song, the author was Tad Williams.The legend was born

-From the 2000 reissue edition

A Quick Note On the Audiobook:

Narrated by Alex Kydd, it runs a little over 13 hours and is released by Tantor Media.  I personally liked Kydd’s narration and gave the overall experience ⭐⭐⭐⭐. At least at the time of this writing you can listen free as part of the Audible Plus subscription


My Thoughts:

It’s an odd feeling to come back to this book as an adult. To me it always felt like TS Eliot meets The Hobbit, but with cats.

As a teen I remember being mortified by all the dead, dying, and maimed animals.  For a book about a cat quest to find his lost friend, Tailchaser gets pretty dark towards the end.

Even as an adult I still find it disturbing in places. A reanimated corpse made of dying and dead animals? Omg. And I felt constantly awful for poor Pouncequick who is like the cutest little kitten but also the punching bag of the story.

Other than a pile of corpses and animals killing each other like humans do in similar books, it’s a decent story. You obviously have to root for the characters (except Hushpad) because they’re adorable cats.  There’s plenty of action once the story gets going, you just have to wade through a lot of introduction and cat stuff to get there.

One thing I appreciate more as an adult is the language and cultural creation.  I love when authors go crazy creating language for their fictional worlds. Williams made a whole different world of cat culture, naming conventions, speech patterns etc, for the world and it’s pretty darn well thought out. This includes alternate pronunciations within the cat language and a glossary in the original edition. He also creates tons of legends and origin stories for The Folk which I enjoyed. Many different authors and poets are quoted at the chapter intros too. I’m not sure if that aspect distracted or added but I liked them.

My last thought is about world building in animal stories.  It’s hard to accomplish a good build because the author is limited to the point of view and understanding of the animal characters.  I think Williams nailed it here though with the legends and stories and using setting to relate the cats’ world views, without overdoing it and bringing in unnecessary information that’s not relevant to the characters.

Overall, this is a fun coming of age adventure. It gets darker than I’d expect and has enough depth to keep readers of any age interested throughout.

(Now pardon me while I open up a refuge for all the animals brutalized by Hearteater in cat hell 😭)

Thanks for checking out my book and audiobook review of Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams. I do own a copy but listened this time on Audible through my subscription. As always, all opinions are my own ♥️

General Posts, Non Reviews

The Bone Witch Read Along: Week 2 Questions!

Boat art credit to Tithi Luadthong

It’s read along week two!

Overall I don’t love that this section essentially turned into Memoirs of a Geisha (and bored me to tears) but how much longer can it go on for before the actual plot starts?  😳


Week two of The Bone Witch readathon is hosted by Annemieke at

Alright, onto it!

1. The heart glass is a very important of everone’s life but especially if you are an Asha. Having heard of Lady Mikaela’s story, can you imagine giving your heartglass to anyone?

I think people give their hearts away every day? Like was said in the first section, some people like Tea’s idiot sister give theirs away every week. Others give it away once and get burned. You never know.  Unfortunately in the book land stupid teenagers do it all the time 🤷‍♀️

Would I give it away? Not to anyone so far in my life but if the situation ever calls for it, sure

2. Continuing on from that, how would you feel if your heartglass showed your every emotion?

I would have to keep it hidden at work to not get in trouble constantly 😂 I’ve mastered the “dealing with idiots face” too well to have it betrayed.  It would be handy in some cases though like to tell how people really feel about things and if they’re sincere or not


” I don’t see the importance of good manners the way asha seem to,’ Kalen said. ‘People respond to a show of force, not to etiquette. You asha are powerful in your own right. I don’t see why you have to wrap it it up in pretty clothes and dancing. People don’t kowtow to me because I know what type of spoons to use with my stew.’

‘You’re a man, Kalen,’ Zoya laughed. ‘Or, rather, you are the type of man who has little patience for intrigue, and so you dismiss it and think others should do the same.’ (P 103-104)

How much do you feel that Kalen and/or Zoya have a point here about how the Asha are regarded as to their powers?

So…. I think they both have a point. This is also where I say that I don’t see why the hell the Asha need all that either and reading a whole section about clothes and dancing and lessons in party society has me crying from boredom.  This is so much like Geisha that I came really close to DNFing when someone actually flashed an ankle in a similar scene to the other book 🤦‍♀️

Like this is just stupid. I need to see some Asha doing real magic soon or this is a bust for me.

That said, Kalen has a to-the-point personality that I like. Some people live for drama and intrigue and these women plot behind their gowns and makeup all day. I’m team Kalen on ths one but they’ve built this whole society around the women trying to find intrigue at these parties

4. After the incident with the other asha, Tea is quite shocked to find she is not getting a punishment by Parmina. What did you think of this change of heart by Parmina and the conversation they had (on p134).

I don’t think punishing her would have served anyone, and it likely wasn’t going to be anyone’s intention.  Parmina wanted to see power and she certainly got a large display of it.  It makes sense that the women are going to try to cultivate it instead of punishing her for something they know she didn’t have control over.


‘She is a mix of both Water and Metal and a faint touch of Fire,’ she told Mistress Parmina. ‘Determined and highly intelligent. This is good. She will strive for perfection, and she has a strong sense of righteousness. She accepts change quicker than others, but she will always be questioning her abilities, no matter how far her training takes her. That is not necessarily a good thing.’

5 Salika seems to have a sense for who Tea is as she uses her vials. How do you feel this descriptions stacks up to the young and older Tea we have seen so far?

It seems along the right lines so far.  Tea at some point had to adapt to living in a cave and she seems to make the most of it.   At some point we will have to start seeing more of Tea in action to find out about the rest

6. Fox is still a constant throughout the story though it has been more than 2 years than he was raised. He seems to act as when he was alive, discussing and disagreeing with Tea. He can go through the city and make his own choices. And except for the tie to Tea and wounds not healing, there doesn’t seem to be much back lash to being undead. How realistic does that feel to you?

It really doesn’t feel realistic.  There’s obviously some kind of corpse magic at play but we don’t know enough about the forces animating him to form an opinion on it.  Lots of books with revenants give them personalities but this is like “oh, he’s dead, deal with it”. This book is VERY Y.A. in a lot of ways.

‘After all,’ she mused, ‘who would deliberately break all eight kingdoms only to save the lives of Dark Asha?’ (p164)

7. Well that is an interesting drop! How surprised were you? And how much do you feel this might have to do with Lady Mykaela (the mention of her potentially dying)?

I’m a little surprised that it took 164 pages to actually drop the hint of a plot starting! It could have something to do with Mykaela or just the need to (for some reason) keep bringing back and re-banishing these Daeva. Tea seems to want an army of them. Society seems to need them dealt with every few years as part of the status quo. Why? We finally get a hint and it’s so vague and buried in cryptic language.

What happens once there aren’t enough dark Asha left to deal with these things? Do we assume they’re dying against the beasts? Who knows


I was grateful no one else was around to see a young asha appprentice chasing her brother down the lane leading back to the Valerian, their laughter riding on the wind. (Page 192)

This very last bit of our section for this week made me laugh out loud amidst the more serious moments this part had. Were there any funny or stand out bits to you in this weeks reading?

Are we not going to talk about the heart forger? That’s our first introduction to the next book in the series! It was very interested to meet him and see what he had to say about the kingdom and the Asha and everything.

The funniest part of the whole week for me was that the one guy wants to cross-dress in order to dance in the pageant thing. It seems like an odd storyline to throw into everything else and I’m much more interested in what he could potentially do as a death seeker.

Overall now I’m curious about the dead thing that’s stalking them, the heart forger, and all the other somewhat interesting revelations that are hopefully leading us away from Geisha cough Asha training and into the actual story

Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday (Wyrd & Wonder Style): Fantasy Books I Always Recommend

The Wyrd & Wonder prompt for today is Most Recommended (fantasy), and the Top Ten Tuesday prompt is something about the books we recommend the most! Perfect, here we go.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Wyrd & Wonder artwork by Tithi Luadthong 

Compared to people who have been reading fantasy nonstop their whole lives, I’ve come and gone with the genre.  I don’t necessarily have the depth of older fantasy reading that many SFF bloggers do but I can definitely have at least ten books that I tend to recommend to just about anyone! Here are some recs from all across the target age spectrum, in no specific order:

1. Green Rider

I will never not recommend Green Rider. It starts out very YA and just turns into something amazing throughout the series. My heart books

Books in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain

2. Malazan

I think the hate around Malazan is mostly focused on the fans who consider themselves superior elitists, not the books themselves.  If you actually read the books and ignore the community, I’m not sure how anyone *can’t* recommend Malazan. Deadhouse Gates is everything

A few books in the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series by Steven Erikson

3.  Give the Dark My Love

For those looking for a darker YA fantasy recommendation, GTDML is my go-to recommendation. I love Beth Revis’ writing and she’s a lovely individual too.  These books are sad and a little tough to get through with the depth of the loss involved but they’re about as Grimdark and beautiful as YA can get


4. The Tide Child

Pirates, amazing characters, dragons and bone ships, stunning scenery, and souls… This series has it all. I will never not recommend RJ Barker’s books to just about anyone


5.  His Majesty’s Dragon

I know people are hit or miss with these but I love the historical context and think war with dragons is amazing. Laurence and Temeraire are a ship that I’m happy to sink on


6. Dragon Mage

I think by now, y’all can tell that if dragons are involved they’re probably my favorites. Or at least magical animals of some kind, whether horses or dragons. Dragon Mage is by far one of the better indie books I’ve ever read. It’s long but constantly engaging and changing


7. The Old Kingdom

These books should be up top somewhere. They are technically YA I believe but the series once again grows and matures into something amazing, with one of my favorite magic systems ever and a cast of wonderful characters, both human and “animal”. They’re thematic and sad and just everything to me. I’ve probably read them more than any other books with at least three read throughs and I’ll recommend them to anyone


8.  The Crowns of Croswald

For people who want something “similar to, but not Harry Potter”, these are my go to.  A magic school with tons of magic, a curse, a little pet dragon, friends and all the good things that a YA series needs.  I actually haven’t read the fourth and I don’t even know why 🤷‍♀️


9.  The First Law

Is an explanation needed? I read these recently and can absolutely tell why they’re a cornerstone of the fantasy genre. Now when people are looking for a recommendation and haven’t tried these, I can confidently say YES, read it

Before They Are Hanged Book Cover

10. The First Argentines

I don’t necessarily recommend Wheeler to everyone, but I recommend him to a LOT of new fantasy readers and people looking for clean, wholesome reads.  I am personally glued to every series he writes and they are mostly all connected in some way. The First Argentines is as good a place to start as any, but there’s also Kingfountain, Muirwood and others 🤷‍♀️


General Posts, Non Reviews

Home Library FAQ: How to Acquire Books & Enjoy the Result

Not too long ago I posted a photo of my current shelves on Twitter and got a lovely response.  I also got some questions and comments and had the idea for a post to answer some of them!

So you want a home library? Best advice is be patient, come up with a plan, and enjoy the process.

Also first I want to stressbthat this is literally years of collecting and evolution.  I started this back in 2015 or so with one broken roadside freebie shelf and there are photos at the bottom 😅

What do you use for shelving?
  • I had mine custom made and fitted by a carpenter friend. Not cheap but they’ll last forever. It was my one real homeowner goal
  • Before that I literally just surfed craigslist and garage sales and had all sorts of random secondhand shelving piled everywhere.
  • Ikea or Amazon shelves aren’t a terrible deal either. The fake pressed ones pop up on craigslist / Facebook marketplace a lot too. You can always advertise locally for used shelves and see who offers
I wish I could afford that many books! Where do you get them?

Probably my top asked question 

  • My best advice is: don’t buy new.  Wait a bit on those shiny new books and find them on a discount site like Book Outlet!  Unless you’re a too influencer, no one cares if you’re reading new releases in the first wave (and even then…)
  • A tip for Book Outlet: don’t buy individual books, wait for the big sales! They do quarterly sales like buy-two-get-one-free or spend $100/get $25 free etc.  $100 seems like a lot but if you add items to your cart/wishlist and then wait for the big sale, you can walk with 30+ books for that price and it’s free shipping 🤷‍♀️
  • ARCs: this isn’t an ARC post. Some of my books are ARCs but ARCs ≠ free books for collecting purposes and they come with responsibilities 
  • Library sales: library sales contain 100% cheap books and they usually get cheaper each day of the sale. Become a Friend/Patron of your local library to get first dibs on the sale, then go back on the last day for the BAG SALE! 
  • Garage sales and antique markets.  Over the years I’ve found hundreds of books of all ages and genres. Personally I won’t spend over $2 for a hardcover or 0.50¢ for a paperback at a garage sale. Most people don’t think of antique marts but there’s almost always at least one regular used book stall in there somewhere
  • My favorite used book dealer is tucked into an antique market and sells for around that 1-2$ range. Plus if they know you you’ll usually walk out with extras 😂
  • Lots and estate sales: if you search craigslist or Facebook marketplace, often times people are unloading boxes of books for a set price.  It can be hit or miss but don’t cherrypick, just offer a price for the lot and I’ve gotten seriously lucky before. I think my best lot haul was 4 boxes of fantasy books for $20, and probably half of them were nice hardcovers of known authors
  • Local indie stores with used sections are good too. These are trending up in price but still cheaper than buying new. That said though, I won’t pay high costs for used books of any type unless it’s hard to find or a collectable
Curating Your Collection

The best tip I have for enjoying your home library is this: YOU DO YOU.  Collect what you love and don’t hold onto books that you didn’t like. Trying to impress people won’t get you anywhere in the long run. Don’t get caught up in marketing fads. Just, do you.

  • I think the level of book ownership vs enjoyment changes for each person
  • Your tastes will change over time and that’s great. Evolve your shelves
  • At first I just wanted ALL the books. Then I wanted to impress people on Bookstagram so I started buying popular authors. I’d even keep books I hated because the names look “right” to have on the shelves. But you want to know what made me happy? When I gave away a 1/1 set of SJM hardcovers and dumped my VE Schwab books. I’m 100% happier now.
  • If you hated a book, you won’t enjoy looking at it, so get rid of it when you’re done.  I don’t care what anyone else thinks. Personally I’m much happier looking at my shelves now since I only keep books that I really like.
  • Organizational tastes will change too. Don’t be afraid to wreak havoc and dump everything on the floor and start over if you want to rearrange your books! I’ve done everything from alphabetical to genre to color to height, where I’ve finally settled. I can’t find one given book to save my life but it’s nice to look at, and I’ve separated out fiction from fantasy from sci-fi from thrillers and mysteries to help.

Here are my current shelves vs what they evolved from! This took me YEARS and I started with a roadside freebie shelf that was broken and had half the screws missing! Let me know what other questions you have!

 IMG_20230430_165843827_HDRNow, vs all the mismatched used shelving of the past!

To the now! 



audiobooks Fantasy

A King’s Bargain by J.D.L. Rosell (Audiobook Review)

As I am reading all things fantasy this month for Wyrd & Wonder, I switched gears to go indie! JDL Rosell is an author with an impressive amount of work out so far, and those books are absolutely everywhere in the indie community.  I wanted to start towards the beginning and found books one and two of The Legend of Tal series on Audible (and KU too) so I decided to start there.

I’m not disappointed at all. This is an incredibly tropey classic feeling fantasy with everything from a cursed piece of jewelry to a petulantly funny king.

Bookish Quick Facts:
  • Title: A King’s Bargain
  • Series: The Legend of Tal, #1
  • Author: JDL Rosell
  • Length: 386 pages (Kindle)
  • Release: Self published, 2020
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of classic fantasy

The audiobook is a combined book 1 & 2, narrated by Derek Perkins.  Released in 2021 through Podium Audio. I gave him 4 stars too for narration!

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon

The legend of Tal Harrenfel is sung across the Westreach—and with each telling, the tales grow taller. But though he’s declared a hero by his king, Tal has never claimed to be more than a man…

After three decades of fighting warlocks, killing mythical beasts, and hunting enchanted treasure, Tal has had enough. Running from the deeds of his past, he retreats to his home village under a different name and meets an unlikely companion: Garin, a village boy who dreams of making a name for himself and seeing the world beyond their sleepy town.

When Tal receives a mysterious visitor, both he and Garin are thrown into a journey across the kingdom. Soon, they become embroiled in the plots of monarchs, on the frontlines of an ancient war, and at the mercy of a fabled sorcerer.

Now Tal must live up to his legend, and Garin discover his own power, to survive the forces pitted against them…

My Thoughts:

You want tropes, we have tropes! A boy (a man!) leaves a small town and has a coming of age adventure. There’s a cursedly evil piece of jewelry. The retired hero is going to either save the day or epically ruin everything, or a little of both. There’s first love and plenty of humor and banter.  A big bad guy and a big fabled magic item.

If only everything we’re so simple, right?

What I liked about A King’s Bargain is that while Rosell doesn’t do anything new or stunning, he makes the old tropes interesting through likeable characters and a fast paced plot.  I like that I can read something like this in 360 pages when something like the Wheel of Time is a thousand page investment for a similar result.

Legends are a big theme and one of my favorite themes. What is true? Why are stories told like they are? Are the fables real, and what were they based on? Tal’s story unveils and eventually ties into that of an old “evil”.  I also like that the big picture is revealed slowly throughout the story, keeping me interested in long term as well as short term events.

The points of view go between Tal trying to reason his way through his return to the spotlight, and Garin who is along for the ride and maybe making his own story along the way.  I like Tal’s moral conflicts put against Garin’s learning curve.

There’s plenty of action, plotting, and magic to keep things interesting. There are some darker parts so it’s not all fun and games and creates a good overall balance. I wish he had done more with the various races but i think we are going to meet more of the dwarves, goblins, etc later in the series.

Overall I like this one and recommend for fans of classic fantasy. I don’t want to go into too many details but it’s a solid read, almost a popcorn fantasy, and definitely a good investment on audible (1st two books currently free with membership). Derek Perkins is a great narrator – I couldn’t speed him up very well and still understand names (settled on 1.10 speed 🤷‍♀️) but he does good voices and brings a lot to the storyline.  Continuing on to book two soon!

Thanks for checking out my book & audiobook review for A King’s Bargain by JDL Rosell! I acquired the book with KU/Audible as a mood read and as always, all opinions are my own ♥️