Categories
Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

Wyrd & Wonder Read-A-Long: The Summer Tree (week two)

I was going to keep adding all the questions to the same post but ack, my life is way too complicated as it is and a new post is easier! That said, these posts are exclusively for the readalong so turn back now to avoid spoilers!

The questions for week two, chapters roughly 6-8 , of the readalong are provided by Nils and some of the fine folks over at https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/posts/ !

Here was week 1


1) There was a little confusion last week on whether chapter six was supposed to be included, so let’s explore this one first. We discussed the Pervy Prince last week – would you like to weigh in on his antics across the border?

I firmly believe that it takes two to tango.  If the princess was down for a roll in the hay, and it seemed like she was, fine and so be it. It’s probably an advantageous political match if nothing else

I have more pressing questions like – how did they know about each other if the worlds are kept apart so much that no one has visited in 1000 years? How the hell are the physical letters even getting across, it’s not like carrier pigeons would know where to go… Someone explain this to me lol

2)We’re a sizable step into the story now, so how are we all finding the pacing?

The pacing is definitely getting quicker and the story more interesting. What threw me off is the chapter lengths and how they went from like 10 pages on average to 40 or 50 each. I found that jarring.

3) Loren continues his mysterious antics, have your opinions about him shifted at all? Or is there a certain other mage you’re now more concerned about?

I am worried about ALL the mages! It seems like each one has their own individual agenda and I’m wondering which one (or for who) Ysanne’s helper is working for.

Loren almost rode his horse to death, and for what? What is his game? Metran actually had me cracking up because both old men are pretending to be a lot more creaky and senile than they are. I wondered if Ailell and Metran are onto each other in the way that “it takes a faker to know one”

4) Between the children’s game and Kim’s dream, not to mention Ysanne’s mutterings to herself, prophecy is a key element weaving through this story. What are your reactions to the various foretellings thus far?

The children’s game freaked me out a bit, I am super curious to know what The Longest Road is! I also am curious as to why Jaelle could sense a prophecy or power being fulfilled but not discern it’s meaning.  If I were her I think I would have struck a peace with Ysanne to find out what had occurred.

I love all the prophecy though, it’ll be fun to see how much is fulfilled and where it all fits into “the tapestry”

5) Let’s address the massive sacrificial magical tree in the room – would you have offered yourself in Paul’s shoes?

Absolutely not, 100% absolutely not.  I’m not overtly Catholic but suicide is a huge no-no.  I don’t even see any good reason why Paul wants to die so badly, I get that his ex died but whatever else he is grieving for needs to be addressed because right now I just consider him depressed and mentally unbalanced

6) There were two pretty major battles this week. The lios alfar were slaughtered by Galadan, and Paul witnessed a truly moving fight between Galadan and his mysterious canine protector. What were your reactions?

The first fight mentioned was interesting because it brought out the Galadan / Matram storyline, and seems to be sucking the entire kingdom into war.

That said, the fight between the canines was a lot more moving. Paul has to hang on for 3 days and nights to fulfill the prophecy and The Companion bought him the time to do so.

Why doesn’t Galadan want the sacrifice fulfilled, what is coming? What happens to him when Mörnir comes?

7) There’s still no sign of Dave! First time readers – any theories? Revisitors, do you recall if you had any opinions on this before?

I think Dave is hiding in a linen closet and watching everything, waiting for the time to jump out and save everyone.  Either that or he is joined up with the king’s other son (who I think we briefly met at the end of chapter 7), because wouldn’t that be ironic

Any other thoughts this week?

I think it’s a good read still but these longer chapters are hard for my attention span.  I also wish that GGK would stop throwing random names and items and events out with explanations.  It’s a lot to keep track of and with more questions than answers I am so afraid I’m going to miss something important

Categories
Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay (Read-a-long Questions)

***Tree wolf image by chic2view (Wyrd & Wonder 2022)! Please do not alter the image & credit the artist ❤***


I am so glad to be reading The Summer Tree with the Wyrd & Wonder readalong! My favorite discussion format is a few chapters a week with questions, so this is perfect

I’ll be uploading my weekly discussion question responses to this thread!


Week One – Questions hosted by Imyril! Do check out her blog for tons of great fantasy content!

1) How are you reading along with us? Is this a first time or a reread? Show us your book cover!

I am reading via a paperback and this is my first time reading.  I have read Mists of Arbonne by GGK. Honestly if I had just read the synopsis of The Summer Tree I think I would have never picked it up since the blurb is borderline corny!

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2) The prose style is as distinctive as calling the prologue an overture. How are you finding it?

I don’t dislike the prose but he has the weirdest way of naming characters. Paul! Schafer! Paul Schafer! In 3 paragraphs GGK can call Paul 4 different names and it drives me nuts since there’s only one Paul. He does it with Dave Martyniuk too – there’s only one Dave and the scattered use of last names is just grating on me.for some reason

Some of his similes are a bit weird too – did anyone else catch the part at the end of chapter six where the lake was immediately sexualized and then that whole scene was allegoric to the loss of innocence? GGK makes some “interesting” stylistic choices

All in all, it is quick reading and easy to first prose

3) Each visitor gets a moment to define them before they arrive in Fionavar. What are your first impressions of our travellers? Any you particularly like / dislike?

I just don’t think it was enough! In that sequence GGK barely touches on the women while introducing parts of what motivates the men.  I’ve already got Paul picked out as the sacrificial lamb but I have no thoughts on the others yet, except that they seem inconsistent.

Kim is a cutout that clearly has some type of Seer abilities, and while Jennifer kept saying she was frightened she was able to face down the Prince with claws at the ready.

That said – I’m down for fantasy that focuses more on story than characters

4) …and what do you make of the characters & politics of Paras Derval?

This is only to the end of chapter 6 – I am curious as to what end game they are playing! We finally learned of the conflict and curse in Fionavar, but the politics and alliances are still fairly undefined.

I might be the only one but the characters seem like cardboard cutouts right now.   Loren – mage. Gorlaes – bad guy. Metran – doddering old mage. Ysanne – mysterious sorceress. Jaelle – angry priestess. Diarmuid – rakish Prince playing his own political game.

The king is the only one I thing has layers so far!

5) The obvious question: would you accept Loren’s invitation? Given the reception from Diarmuid and Gorlaes, would you regret it?

Back in college I would have gone in a second, no questions asked like get me out of here!  Now I have too much adult stuff going on, animals to care for and such.  I would have been ok with the reception of the prince sneaking me alcohol 😂

6) How/Do you judge Loren for keeping so many secrets from the visitors?

I don’t judge him – yet – it’s too hard to know what the visitors role will be at this point.  Obviously there is a lot going on and while  some of it is starting to become clear, we don’t really know what Loren’s endgame is yet.  I think if he had told them any more they would have balked too

7) There is a lot of worldbuilding so far! Intriguing or overwhelming? Anything standing out for you? And as always: any other thoughts this week?

I think it’s a bit overwhelming, but at this point I have read enough epic fantasy to just absorb what I can and let the rest wash over me as part of the reading experience.

The part sticking out to me is the Legend of The Summer Tree and the hanging kings for sure, I love when magic and rulers/kings are tied to the land

Categories
Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

Enchanted Woods in Fantasy Books 🌟🌳

I wanted to make today’s Wyrd & Wonder prompt into a blog post! I absolutely love when forests in fantasy take on a personality of their own and influence the book.

There are far too many to list, so I am going to just talk about a few of my favorites and the general influence of forest in Fantasy!

My main feature was the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain.  No surprise there, the author has crafted my favorite fantasy series around magically intuitive horses and not one, but three forests! A former Park Ranger, she published Green Rider while being stationed at Acadia, and had prior ranger postings before that! Her love for the outdoors and forestry is evident in every novel.  

The Green Cloak is not an inherently magical forest but holds many magic secrets.  I think a good fantastical forest minimally offers protection, sustenance, and industry, all of which the Green Cloak definitely does. 

Even a nonmagical forest can take on a persona of it’s own and become a character in itself!

The Green Rider series also features two opposing forests, the Eltwood and Blackveil.  One is beautiful, magical, and offers trees which hold the sleeping Elts for thousands of years if needed while they sleep.  The other was an Eltwood that became twisted by dark magic and now holds poison, traps, terrible creatures, and sinister twisted sleepers.  

*Shudder.*  Kristen Britain can be found on both Instagram and TikTok and I highly recommend following her for glimpses at the woods that so influence her beautifully crafted Green Cloak.

 


My next honorable mention is Clariel.  

“A passion thwarted will often go astray….”

So you may ask – what passion did Clariel have?? The forest!! Clariel wanted nothing more than to become a Ranger in the Great Forest, which she loved, explored, hunted, and sought refuge in.  Unfortunately her family was ambitious and her mother may have been in line for the throne, so when they moved to Belisaere she was forced to join and become a proper member of society. Oh did it chafe and was it heartbreaking to read.

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While a solid sci-fi read, I have to mention the cinematically portrayed “Poe Forest” in the indie book In the Orbit of Sirens. It breaches the fantasy line with living, walking tree creatures and white trunked trees with red leaves and floating sparks. One can’t deny the influence of various jungles and forests in this work!


Running out of phone battery aahhh ok you get two more: 

Even the cover of Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst screams ENCHANTED WOOD!  The ginormous trees house upwards of 20 families and truly provide shelter, sustenance, community, protection, and so much more.  This list couldn’t possibly go without this book ❤

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There is one more – one of my favorite recent novels, where tree roots serve as paths and legends surround the Wolf under the Willow … The Chaos Cycle duology by A.J. Vrana!  These trees provide a path, a meeting point, survival, shelter, a marker in a dreamscape where all else could be hopelessly lost

What additional ways can you think of that forests influence fantasy and fiction?? I may come up with a part two for this post because my mind is teeming with more magical forests 🌲🌳🌟

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

Indie Bookstore Day 2022 – Book Haul & Random Notes

April 30th was Independent Bookstore day!  I was really happy to see the other Rochester Bookstagrammers and book lovers out in force.   I actually only went to two stores and one market because holy cow, BOOKS ARE GETTING EXPENSIVE!! 

As a note, there are probably… I’m going to guess at least 10 indie bookstores in the greater Rochester area – some had cupcakes, games, totes etc, I went to my local and also favorite one to support!

So – let’s talk about my Indie Bookstore Day haul!

The closest indie bookstore to me is Liftbridge Books, and I love them dearly as people and it’s an amazing Brockport staple. They have new books and a huge used section too.  That said – their used books are expensive ,and a lot more than I would normally pay for used books, so I shopped sparingly

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I could absolutely not resist the bookmark.  One of my best tips for affordable books is to buy used if you can find good deals.  Liftbridge was also nice enough to order the regular bookstagrammer crew tshirts!

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My favorite indie bookstore, Bookends, is a long ish drive away but he has great prices and may be closing this year 😭. Down in Henrietta, he was offering buy-2-get-1 and he is normally willing to deal as well so I just had to drive down.

My favorite part of the day was sitting on the floor chatting with this random lady. I had surrounded myself with a spread out pile of gorgeous Darrell K. Sweet designs and was admiring them, I just want to amass a collection of his hardcovers honestly 😂 then we started talking about fantasy and that was that lol.

(Fun fact – I actually first saw Sweet’s artwork at a frontier museum and was shocked when I learned that he also did fantasy images)!

Here is my Bookends haul – I completed my WoT collection, most in hardcover now!

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Those are both 1/1 hardcovers not like they’re hugely collectable but it was a cool note.

Also found a copy of The Summer Tree, which is convenient because I needed it for the Wyrd & Wonder readalong!

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Then I found not one, but two signed L.E Modesitt books plus one other I didn’t have😭

Like I said, omg just give me all the covers designed by Sweet.  I’m going to try to flesh out my Saga of Recluce collection apparently too

Last but certainly not least, there is a bookish candlemaker in Buffalo that was in town for an artisan market, and it was super nice to meet her finally after a year or two of bookstagram banter!

I finally own a skull candle lol! Definitely check out The Smell of Fear on Instagram or etsy for bookish candles.  Apparently you can click on the thumbnails to enlarge, and now I know!

Long story short – it was a fun day. I am happy to see so many readers in the Roc community.  It was good to run into some other Bookstagrammers. If anyone wants a list of all of our local bookstores, I do have that available! I wish I had time and money to see more!

(P.S. I have been planning a post on obtaining affordable books, I’m just not there yet)

Do you have any favorite indie bookstores?

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

March & April Reading Trends + What’s Next!

I am going to stick with this every other month reading trend format! It’s quick and fun and tells me a lot!

Jan + Feb https://onereadingnurse.com/2022/03/02/jan-feb-reading-trends-whats-next/

March: 

  • 12 books ( about my average)
  • 11 adult, 1 Y.A. (Lol I broke up with YA)
  • 6 arcs/gifts, 6 Libby/KU
  • 6 fantasy, 4 thrillers, 1 sci-fi, one classic
  • Half were audio

– I am happy with this.  I knocked most of my arcs out and did a ton of mood reading. It gave me the freedom and concentration in April to knock out a bunch of books on my shelves!

April:

  • 15 books!!!!
  • 12 adult, 3 YA
  • 3 ARCs, 🌟🌟6 off my shelves🌟🌟, 6 Libby/KU
  • 6 fantasy, 5 sci-fi, and one each of a classic, a histfic, a memoir, and a thriller

Most of my April numbers came from my vacation at the end of the month. I had part of my back done and couldn’t move like all week so I got a ton of reading in!

Plus I am caught up on ARCs, reading what I want, and enjoying it so much more.  Books go faster when you’re enjoying them! I did a few book tours and brought back Sunday Brunch! Starting slowly but my interviews so far have been a huge success.


What’s next?

May is Wyrd & Wonder.  I am planning on slowing my reading intake down and enjoying some longer epic fantasy at my own pace. I have plenty of blog content written and ready to bridge the gaps. I’ll be doing a readalong of The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay, plan to knock out another Wheel of Time book, and finish binging the Jeff Wheeler series Harbinger.


I hope everyone else is enjoying their reading! Be ready for an epic month of May!

Categories
Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

The Best Laid Plans – Wyrd and Wonder!

Hi everyone! If anyone hasn’t heard about Wyrd and Wonder yet, please check out this link for an intro! 

https://onemore.org/2022/03/05/wyrd-and-wonderful-plans/

Thank you to Timy @ Queen’s Book Asylum for sharing the link originally, I would never have known about it otherwise and definitely plan to participate as I am able!

Wyrd and Wonder looks like a great team of fantasy bloggers who have set up ALL this fun stuff for fantasy fans during the month of May. The event is in it’s fifth year now and I see prompts, bingo for fun, two read alongs, giveaways and a ton of other fun stuff!!

Personally I am most excited for the readalong of The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay, and the fantasy prompts.  I never really fit in anywhere in the SFF community (I’m too multi-genre to stay on twitter lists even) but love hanging around and reading/talking fantasy when I can!

Plus the theme has to do with wood and forests, and I have blogged about fantasy forests before so that’s extremely exciting to me.  I’ll definitely try to chat about some of my favorites like The Green Cloak, The Great Forest, forest loving characters, and the impact that forests can have on their (fantasy) world

Like the title says, though … I have turned into mostly a review blogger simply for lack of time! I’ll do my best to tackle a few prompts and follow the content!!

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

Jan & Feb Reading Trends + What’s Next?

I am taking a much broader look at my reading this year to try to balance things out a little more.

What I’m learning is that regardless of all other factors – mood reading is everything

January trends:

  • 12 books total, including the final 600 pages of The Shadow Rising
  • Of the 12: five were ARCs, 7 backlist.
  • Of the backlist books: 6 were library/libby books, and only one came off of my shelves
  • Those backlist books were all published between 1993-2016, and reviewed on the blog
  • 7 were adult, 5 young adult
  • Genre wise: 9 fantasy, 2 thrillers, one literary fiction

I also purchased ZERO books in January!

February trends:

So my goal for February was to read more books off my shelves and I utterly failed at that.  Most of my limited physical reading was one long ARC, and I was mood reading newer books by more popular authors to help boost my recent canon

  • I finished 13 books!
    -6 were arcs
    -7 were ebooks off of Libby (library app)
  • Here it got interesting: 11 were adult, 2 were YA. That tells you how I feel about YA right now and I expect that trend to continue
    – Genre wise: 4 fantasy, 4 sci-fi, 3 thriller, 1 mystery, 1 true crime

I also caved and bought my first new books of the year, 6 from the Book Outlet buy 2 get 1 free sale that additionally offered 2x reward points.

So looking at March and onwards …

– finishing Notre Dame de Paris is my first read.  It’s a struggle but good

– I definitely want to keep up with ARCs, but I haven’t requested any recently and have mostly author requests to read now

-I want to maybe do a few more book tours again

– Without ARCs coming I should be able to read more books off my own shelves

– more adult fantasy, more literary reading, and short stories are my goal for the rest of the spring

What are your spring reading goals??

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

So this is the new year (I don’t feel any different) – Reads & Recap

If you know that song, all the power to you.

It’s another wrap for the year and I feel like my sentiments are exactly the same.  I tend to read 52-55k pages per year, regardless the number of books, and this year was no different

The thing that interested me most was that my average rating moved up to 4.0 – either I’m getting soft in my old age 😂, read better books (maybe) , or was simply less critical this year.  Everyone else’s criticism wears on me.

I also have been going to journals and literary zines to find reviews and criticism, I just can’t with people on Goodreads who have nothing better to say than “oh this book wasn’t _____ enough, ONE STAR”

No thanks. That sentiment hasn’t changed from last year at all – stop telling me what to read and stop insinuating that people are X for reading Y book for Z reason, just stop

I lost track of my ARCs vs Backlist vs purchased reads, but think I read about 60%/40% new + gifted books vs backlist ones. Backlist Bingo helped a lot with that.

From the above screen shot, the Ransom books were a huge highlight this year. House of Dragons was a great standalone

In the Orbit of Sirens is one of the better indie books I read this year, the author featured on the Sunday Brunch Series as well. I was due for a Life of Pi reread and it did not disappoint on audio

I finally read (actually listened) to the first three Red Rising books. The audio, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, was phenomenal and I can see that all the hype is real.

Shit escalates – Sevro

Dragon Mage was the longest book of my year, 986 pages, and also easily in my top 3 reads of the entire year

I also started the Wheel of Time series and managed to read the first three, plus 1/3 of The Shadow Rising. I’m not sure how much I really like the books, and the tv adaptation seems like a liberal media festival

Dreams of the Dying was another of my top three reads this year! Search that on my blog for review plus author interview! One of the first books that I have both mixed feelings and great love for

I also finally tried Janet Evanovich, fun reads, and Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series

Winterlight rounds out my top 3 books of the year.  Kristen Britain came back from two (IMO very weak books) and absolutely slayed Winterlight.

The Keeper of Night was one of the better YA books I read this year, as my other top three should be considered adult fantasy.

A Ritual of Flesh is an honorable mention for favorite books of the year.  Lee Conley also interviewed!

Lastly – I finally started reading some King books, and I think the Bill Hodges Trilogy was absolutely stellar.  Will Patton delivered an amazing narration.

I ended the year on a binge of the Lunar Chronicles series and have no regrets, Cinder is probably one of my top 5 favorite YA characters!


Well there you have it! I wish I had room and space to show all of the books (not all of the reads were shown) but I covered the highlights. That said, I read over 150 books and there are MANY more I would like to mention again – but reviews can mostly all be found on the blog here.

I think I was much more selective this year with arcs and book tours and it helped overall enjoyment.

My best advice for everyone in the coming year is to make sure you’re reading for YOU

Categories
Contemporary Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews Paranormal Thrillers Young Adult

September Unblogged Book Thoughts

I normally don’t do wrap up posts but I read quite a few books in September that I don’t plan on reviewing in depth, so here is a super quick summary of my reading month! If anyone searches for the titles at least it will show up somewhere now 😂

September:

1) Dreams of the Dying ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- I took the time to read the appendices and extras and therefore counted it as a September read.  Review here. Also the author is doing an extra special Sunday Brunch Series this month 😍

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2) Loves of Shadow and Power – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ review here. A good adult Asian mythology. Author Edith Pawlicki also did a wonderful SBAIS interview here!

3.  The Diviners by Libba Bray – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ loved it.  A fantastic audiobook. Review here

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4. Ringlander: The Path and the Way by Michael S. Jackson – ⭐⭐⚡ so I was part of a book tour for this one and truly just didn’t understand more than the bare bones of what was happening due to lack of background, plus the editing really ruined it for me. The book was a good idea though and did have some high points. I interviewed him for my tour stop and never posted a review.

5. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I really wanted to review each of these individually but it became too hard without spoilers.  Plus I binge read them so they all melded into one another.  Book 3 finally brought things together and I have a lot more respect for each of the queens.  Katharine is actually not a bad queen crowned and the others are each pulling their weight now.  Love all the plotting and sub plots and more plotting, plus lore and legends

6. On the Winds of Quasars by T.A. Bruno – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ this series is definitely my top sci-fi pick of the past two years. Only good things to say

7. The First Christmas by Steohen Mitchell ⭐⭐⭐⚡ – a different perspective on the nativity, stripped away the Christian lens to present a real/magic realism. Review here

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8. Speechless by Ava Cates ⭐⭐⭐- the author hates me for this one but I just can’t read books where high school kids go from class to class anymore. The editing on the Kindle version made it hard for me too, it was hard to tell chapter breaks and such. I think a little more supernatural background might have carried it for me but the details were slow coming. Either way this is a quick, high school age appropriate read with deaf rep. I think younger readers will love it!

9. The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg ⭐⭐⭐ I know I have been writing up reviews for the rest of the books in this series but this third installment was my least favorite so far. The chemistry and banter totally carried the book since I really didn’t think the case and con were as interesting as the others. They lost me on the fake sunken treasure scheme and trying to understand how it worked. They had a point about men and shiny beepy consoles though 😂 I just love O’Hara’s dad and his fixation with weaponry, but overall this one fell flat

10. The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I am actually going to blog this one next so hold my thoughts. It’s a beautifully wonderfully dark YA debut that made me so sad but it’s perfect for fall

11. Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐ haha ok I really liked what she did with the ending. Each queen finally bucked up and put their big girl pants on and did what they had to do for the island and the people.  We finally got some main character deaths and I am more or less onboard with who Blake chose to off vs. keep alive! She commented on my Instagram post too so that’s amazing!

 11.5 The Young Queens by Kendare Blake – I liked the novella a lot! It was good to get more background into the raising and separations and early lives of the queens.  Mirabella and Luca stole the show in this one, I would have seen them in a totally new light having read this novella before the books. I would either read it after the second or third if it were me again

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

A New England Literary Tour, Plus Some Cool Books

Title says it all, right? I spent the past week with mom driving from WNY to Boston, seeing the sights, cheering on the Patriots in peace, and of course hitting some literary landmarks.

Here are a few things that I hope book nerds can appreciate!


Our first stop was in Middlebury, VT, at Monroe Street Books! The largest used bookstore in Vermont! The shelves were towering almost to ceiling height and there were ladders to reach the high shelves! Great prices and dollar bins outside with plenty of great titles. Verdict: a must visit, bring a friend in case you need your ladder held! 

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