General Posts, Non Reviews

Bookish Travelogue: Hay-On-Wye, Wales – “Book Town”! (& So Much Cool Stuff)

I’ve done quite a bit of book shopping and touring during this trip, which culminated in the “World’s First Book Town”. Last year a book blogger that lives in that region of Wales posted about the town and I was lucky enough to be able to go check it out and finally rest my fear of missing out on something like this.

All things considered we only went to a few of the many bookshops in Hay-On-Wye, but they were full of massive amounts of used books, artwork, old posters, and other oddities to check out. Here’s the ones we went to and I’d recommend all of them!


So the day started off at Brecon, a town on the way and a place I believe was called Brecon Books. I didn’t buy anything but they had a great used SFF area and I learned what the old UK Harry Potter books looked like. Apparently they have child and adult editions with different covers so that people don’t mind being seen reading a “children’s book”. That also said, I think Dumbledore was described a little better than this back cover. Either way, interesting stuff. I also saw the UK Narnia covers and like them a lot more


After that, it was on to the main event


These stores love their crazy old sci-fi and bookish ephemera.  Hay-On-Wye Booksellers had piles of old copies of Astounding and other magazines & things, plus rooms and rooms of non SFF books.  To be noted, the ones we went to all had large used SFF collections. I grabbed one for kicks from May, 1945.


This particular bookstore also had views surrounded by books so that was cool. Hard to see here but you could see an old church from one side and the castle from the other, plus out over the fields

I think the next stop was Addyman Books, which had a few specialized locations but the one we went to had some fun things and of course piles of books everywhere.  It also has cutouts of the star trek captains 🤣


Another store in which I didn’t buy anything but was shocked by the size of it, was Richard Booth’s. They also had some extremely cool old posters and just a ton of old magazines, collections, and “out there” sci-fi & fantasy books. Even if you don’t buy anything it’s totally worth a look-see

Look at those covers though, I almost bought Horses Asteroid just for kicks but I don’t have unlimited packing space 🤣

The last main stop was Hay Cinema Bookshop, which was not only huge and had another shockingly huge old books collection, but I found my real gems there which were 1/1 paperbacks of some Black Company books! Check out this haul!

They just had… Omg so many books. This is only part of one hallway from at least two floors of deep rows.


Some other honorable mentions were a bunch of outdoor but covered books called Honesty, where it was unattended but they asked for a donation of a pound. And located in the shadow of the castle!

One that we didn’t go into but looked awesome from the outside was Murder and Mayhem, which focuses on mysteries & crime and a link can be found here. I think most of the booksellers have their links on this site too so you can check them all out!

This is the link to all of the bookstore listings, with better photos and website links

Well – is this a place you’d like to visit? Where have you been where there are tons of bookstores??

If you’re looking for more bookshopping in the UK, I did a similarly surface scratching post for our Great London Literary Crawl here 😅

General Posts, Non Reviews

Bookish Travelogue: The Great London Literary Crawl!

I & we hit so many bookstores and literary landmarks this week, it was awesome!  Tomorrow we are off to sci-fi weekender which I hope will also be fun 😊

Here’s a few of the bookstores and landmarks we went to, and most of the book haul I ended up with this week!

Cecil Court is full of old books, antiques, maps, art stores, a few actual gaslamps, and so much more.  I’m sharing this one first because I found my coolest book acquisition in the Goldsboro Books discount bin…

How cool is that, a Tchaikovsky Arc!

I also found a few other paperbacks up around that area, including at Any Amount of Books, a great little used bookstore with a small but spicy SFF collection in the basement 😃


Besides that, I went to Foyles and found a bunch of Paddington books that I’m going to gift out to family and friends with young kids! I loved the Foyles store but the American History section was a joke, apparently they think our entire history is Trump 🤣


A cool store to roam around though.

I also went to both Hatchard’s and Blackfriars Bridge because of the Shadowhunters books, no regrets there at all.  Bride’s Church is the only landmark I didn’t bother tracking down!

Hatchard’s is a beautiful store with all the books ever, but I didn’t buy anything 

We also obviously saw at least four Waterstones, where I didn’t buy anything but my excellent book crawling buddy found a few new SFF reads to load up on.

Lastly, Forbidden Planet is absolutely deadly.  I say forever and ever that the UK has better editions than the US. I mean y’all’s covers are beautiful and if I had a million dollars and unlimited packing space I’d be in serious trouble! That said, I bought two signed editions from their lovely collection of books and have no regrets there. They won’t quite match my US editions but that’s ok!

There were a few other bookstores, literary statues, a George Orwell themed pubs, and many other places to go and see too.  I would 100% recommend the British Library.  Obviously King’s Cross Station 9 3/4 is a must see for Potter fans, as well as the Mina Lina museum/store which is up near Foyle’s somewhere.  There’s so much to do literary wise in London that I could write three posts about it. 

Leicester Square was fun too, movie and literary statues all over!


Anyway, I barely scratched the surface here but off to a good start!

Where have you traveled or wanted to travel to that has good literary destinations??

General Posts, Non Reviews

February Wrap Up & March Travel Plans

Favorites, stats, hauls & unhauls, and miscellany. Did I even buy books this month? Let’s get to it!

February felt like a slower reading month and  March is going to be pretty vague TBR wise as I’ll be travelling from the 10th-29th and won’t be reading much.

February reading wrapup:

I finished 9 books. All of these reviews can be found on the blog using the search bar if you’re interested.

I was loyal to my TBR this month.

My favorite read was  The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie but I feel bad for giving him two months in a row.

My favorite new to me/debut/new discovery author was definitely Kate J Armstrong, with her new book The Nightbirds

I also just absolutely disliked a few of the books I read in February, like The Hermes Protocol. I’m bordering a reading slump but I’ll recover overseas so it’s all good.

The breakdown was 5 fantasy,  2 sci-fi, one thriller, and one… Uh… badly reimagined mythology. I disliked The Song of Achilles too (thoughts coming🤣)

Stats wise:

February fell way short of January here on the blog.  It rebounded towards the end but my traffic sucks compared to everyone else so why do I even bother 🤷‍♀️ the most interesting thing though is most of my views are coming from search engines now so that’s something! Even funnier is that it’s my two main evergreen articles bringing the views in 🤣

Book un/hauls and spending

I’m tracking spending now to show y’all that commercialism isn’t necessary to do this. I did spend 27$ on audiobooks but I got eight through Chirp, on sale for a few dollars each and have no regrets.

I forgot my Kindle unlimited was due to start again and I meant to cancel it but ate that charge, and the audible trial. I bought NO physical or EBooks.  So the two subscriptions plus the audiobooks, I’m out like 43$.  KU is done in March, I don’t think it’s worth it.

I only had five books come in, two arcs and three giveaway wins. Thanks all ❤️ so all of that is on my TBR (see below)

I unhauled six books so I’m barely net negative for the month 😅.  The only place I collected more books was free e-copies of indies, with some killer sales this month from Clayton Snyder among others

The last thing I did on here that I liked was a short and sweet article about bookish things making me cranky this month 

How was you guys’ reading in February?

March tbr:

I won’t have much reading time so there are only three books on my TBR. If I blog a lot, it’ll likely be an excessively nerdy travelogue. I wrote one list about books based in London and their related landmarks, so stay tuned for my progress!

Celadon Books was nice enough to hook me up with a late ARC of Alex North’s new book The Angel Maker. I also have an audio code so look for that soon.

Sordaneon is for a blog tour and I’m starting it tonight!

Good Dog, Bad Cop will be a quick read and David Rosenfelt is always reliable for an entertaining mystery. Plus dogs. Thanks to Minotaur Books for that one ❤️


I also have one brunch interview planned for the 19th with LL Stephens!

Nerdy travels:

I’m heading back to the UK (and already having a bad time with hotels) but I’m psyched to explore literary London, go to a British Sci fi convention, and see my sad nerd SO among other plans.  It’ll be an adventure for sure.

I will be slow here during March but I’ll do my best to update all the cool bookish things as I go!

What’s on you guy’s TBR?

General Posts, Non Reviews

15 London Based Books & Their Visitable Landmarks

I’ve been collecting books set in London since it always seemed like a magical travel destination. J love travelling through books.

With my trip coming up so soon in March I felt like making a list of the London Based books I’ve read recently, ones I’ve read before, and a few still on my TBR.  I’ve picked a few sightseeing destinations out of these so I’m definitely excited for next month despite the price gouging)

1. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco.  I loved this book despite the many eye roll moments, and the series remains strong. Only the first is set in London and afterwards the main characters flew to Romania.

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2. The Left-handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix.  This is set in an alternate London and the author of my favorite YA books can do no wrong


3. The Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab. We don’t talk about these books. There are multiple alternate Londons and the main characters were just so awfully bad that I DNF’d the second book.  Took some heat for saying the prince should just die but literally whatever it took to stop his whining. I truly detest these books but they are wildly popular

4. The Avram Davidson short story that won an Edgar Award, The Affair at Lahore Cantonment. Apparently Avram spent some time in London and loved it despite the crappy rainy weather.  It mostly takes place in India though

5.  The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.  Despite wishing she would let these poor characters stay dead and buried instead of rehashing them forever and ever to sell more books, I did enjoy this trilogy.  I am dying to go stand on Blackfriar’s Bridge and check out Hatchard’s Bookshop on Piccadilly. Maybe I check out Bride’s Church too.

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6. Sherlock Holmes! I read that the apartment number originally didn’t exist, although it does and is a museum now.  Might be worth a look-see

7. Another that I read recently, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. So many gloomy victorian London vibes here.

8. A suspense novel that is still a main draw to my blog, Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner.  If this is a place that one can go to walk around, it seems like it is, I’ll see where it’s located because Faulkner made the vibes sound amazing


9. Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House… Uh… Ok, pretty much every book I can think of by Charles Dickens. There are at LEAST five, probably more.  I should see if there are any Dickens related landmarks worth seeing.

10 & 11: Another recent read, 1984 by George Orwell!  I had forgotten this one takes place in London so it was a fun surprise.  Not much to say for modern landmarks though.  On the same note, Brave New World by Huxley was set there too (although in another unrecognizable fashion)

12. Also along those lines, technically The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is based in London. I read the new illustrated version as an arc a few years back and appreciated it

13. The London Below series by Neil Gaiman. I actually haven’t read this one or seen the miniseries but I’m interested in both.

14. Obviously parts of Harry Potter and yes I’m going to go to King’s Cross as a priority and find the shopping cart 😂 

15. The last one I can think of that I’ve read is The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.  I highly advocate reading all of his material that one can get their hands on, or at least checking out a few of his talks on YouTube.

There you go! What books have you read that take place in London? What literary (or lesser known) landmarks should I look for??

General Posts, Non Reviews

Salty Saturday: From Context to AI, Five Bookish Things Bugging Me Recently

It’s Saturday and I’m cold and I can’t get my lifesaving contact into my eye, so I’m cranky.  That said, I’ve been particularly annoyed with (or at least thinking about) a few things this week.

Most of these apply to wider society as well, but frankly outside of work I don’t spend much time interacting with people so I’m going to relate them all to books

Annoying item the 1st: Lack of context

Ok, let’s start with the one everyone is talking about right now: Roald Dahl. I don’t care if the content owners wash the word “fat” out of his books.  People won’t be less offended if we call them “enormous” so if the editors want to waste their time nitpicking, that’s on them. (P.S. if the copyright owner decides to alter a publication, they have the right to do that. We don’t have to agree with it. That said, context is important. I don’t agree with these types of choices but still, they can do whatever they want with their property).

“Hi, wow, you’re enormous”

I don’t see the difference but to each their own. More broadly this whole content washing push is about context. American society and book consumers have lost their sense of context while reading.

I see so many reviewers bashing and downgrading old books for their sexism, phobias, misogyny, whatever: it was written 100 years ago. My real concern here is the possibility for this to landslide like everything else wrong with society has done.

Context, people, context

Annoying item the 2nd: perspective and content policing

Tying right into the first is perspective. I know how this one makes me sound, but, readers and community members have lost their wider sense of perspective. Everyone is too worried about offending someone else!

I just keep my language fairly benign and if someone wants to try to cancel me again, fine, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

I miss the days where people would just keep scrolling without causing a rabble about something they don’t like.  What happened to discussion? No one can just have a discussion any more

Like yes I’m sorry that happened to you (to ‘triggered’ people) but at the same time, I don’t endorse content policing when something bothers one person out of a large group.

If you’d like to read an eye opening book about perspective and context, I really recommend The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Item the 3rd: the blessed decline of cancel culture

I think this one is finally going away, as in, I haven’t seen any wider attacks on any particular author recently. Thank GOODNESS.

This just ties into the first two but for the love of everything sacred, if you don’t like something, keep scrolling. I blame wider society for letting our book community get to that point, we can’t pander to every single person with an issue because it’s impossible to make everyone happy

Item the 4th: the AI debate

Ok, back when AOL instant messenger was a thing, I had a chatbot on my friends list. I loved messing with it. I forgot it’s name because this was like 20 years ago (good LORD I’m old) but these AI tools are to me just an evolving technology being put to ill usage.

I’m getting tired of hearing about AI and the debate just started. Submissions are closing down, everyone is riled up, and disclaimers are going into writing assignments in colleges and author competitions.  I get it, but I’m seeing a lot of bitching and no offered solutions

I feel like there’s probably a good use for this somewhere. Maybe it can be modified to help kids with learning disabilities or that need more help in school, maybe they need things explained differently, and this could be a library at a tutor’s fingertips🤷‍♀️ I’d let a big adaptive technology company buy this AI technology and let them put a moratorium on it’s usage for anything else!

The last: hummm… Let’s say the debate about negative reviews

I’ve been reading these articles with great interest and most of the debate has to do with author’s feelings and damaging publisher relationships.

I’ll say a quick piece and move on: you, the reviewer, agreed upon taking the book for review, to give an honest review, so you need to do that.

It’s not a debate, it’s what you agreed to. I’ve incidentally offended people before but I give every single author and publicist the disclaimer that I’m both unflinchingly honest and sometimes don’t have a filter 🤷‍♀️

If you buy a book with your own money, it doesn’t matter as much what you write. If you have it for review purposes, you need to be honest or possibly you’re in it for the wrong reasons and that’s a whole different issue with the publicity base.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Grateful Sunday, I feel like I need to balance this out with something thankful tomorrow 🤣

General Posts, Non Reviews

WWW…W…? Wednesday!

It seems like Wednesdays are for this WWW meme, although to me if you’re following someone’s blog already, you probably know their rough TBR and recently finished books anyway, right?

Ehhh anyways this one is quick and fun …

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at, or just leave a comment!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

what are you Current reads:

My currently reading list is pretty tame right now.  I’m into the Seventies in the Avram Davidson Treasury, so a little over halfway through. I’ll be talking about the sixties on here tomorrow


I’m almost done with Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong and omg it’s by far one of the best YA fantasies I’ve read in a long time.  Very into the secrets and atmosphere despite the rehashing of many similar tropes, the writing is lovely


I’m also working through The Peacemaker’s Code by Deepak Malhotrafor the SPSFC semifinal round.  It’s not bad but I’d like to see less analysis and more aliens.  That said, the author is an ivy league professor of something and writes a lot of books on negotiation, so he just wrote his happy little self into a book as a world saving hero 😅 it’s very well edited though so that goes a long way, and has many interesting points


What did you recently finish readiNg?

Here are my posts for White Trash Warlock by David R Slayton and Heritage by S.M. Warlow. A few days ago I also finished Hex You by P.C. & Kristin Cast, and P.C. got after me on twitter 🤣

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ok, this is pretty clear cut right now. I have to read Good Dog, Bad Cop for Minotaur Books, so that’ll be my next e book. My next physical book is Sordaneon because I won it in a giveaway and am also jumping into a blog tour coming up in March! Besides finishing the Avram Treasury .. my next audiobook will probably be…. A tough choice, I grabbed one about British herbology related folk tales that I might check out next!


General Posts, Non Reviews

Friday Night Book Spread (Currently Reading)

Oh gosh, the month is already more than a third over and I’ve hardly had any book content for you guys.  Here is a quick lowdown on what I’m reading right now, what about you all? Hopefully I can kick this cold and be back to more reading soon!


From the top: my audiobook, 73% done. Shorefall continues three years after Foundryside left off.  It’s going over my head with the “magic system” at times but is overall one of my favorite adult series ever.  It’s getting darker and darker too 😳. 

Heritage is my current e book, an SPSFC semifinalist.  I don’t dislike it but it’s long and has some excessively clunky word use that bogs down the reading experience.  An action packed space opera with some fantasy fare mixed in. I’m about 25% through.

The Hermes Protocol is the physical book and thank goodness I’m almost done. It’s a liberal nightmare PC playground and should have been a Dnf at chapter one. Learned my lesson to always read the entire except and look closer for red flags

The Avram Davidson Treasury is one that I’m still just reading about two short stories a week. I’ve got an audiobook and the physical so it’s a “when the mood hits” read.  I’m through the first section though!

What are you all currently reading or working on?

General Posts, Non Reviews

January Wrap Up & Feb Reading Plans

January Wrap Up

January didn’t feel like a great reading month,  quality wise.  Lots of self published works and exhaustion don’t mix well. 

With that in mind: I finished 11 books.   Five were e-books from the SPSFC competition, one was an unrelated self published sci-fi book for which I had an e-arc, then I listened to 1984, Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie, and Cursed by Marissa Meyer.  My only physical read this month was Medusa’s Child by John J. Nance, in my effort to read my own shelves.  Everyone loves a 90s thriller, right?

My page count was about normal but quality wise, I can only read so much self published work and so much sci-fi, and am burning out hard on the genre.

My favorite book of the month was easily Before They Are Hanged.  For favorite new author, I am glad to have discovered AK DuBoff in the SPSFC and hope to explore her space opera universe a little more when I have time.

Last up, brunch came back in style with author JCM Berne, and if you didn’t check that out you can do so here

Spending &  book (un)haul

Subscription included I spent less than $20 on books, most of it so I could read SPSFC on Kindle.

I unhauled over 20 books and only three came in, one from a publisher, one arc, and one giveaway win!

February goals:

I still don’t have a real TBR except for the two arcs on my list


I’ll also try to read those giveaway wins and publisher copies


Minimally I would also like to read two SPSFC semifinalists, of which will come from this list. Likely I’ll try to knock out the longest one but I’m going to feel out my burnout before getting too excited



General Posts, Non Reviews

Join Me As I Find the Worst Rated Books In My Library (and unhaul them)

Happy Saturday! I’ve been doing one “fun post” a week and here it is: a little book.umhaul.  I decided to clear out a few based on the worst average GoodReads ratings present in my library!  I also am unhauling a series that I hope finds a good home…anyway, let’s get into it!

Sun’s End has a GoodReads rating of 2.61 but the cover is cool, so I randomly opened to … A bad sex scene.  I then flipped to a later page and found a couple begging the robot for a threesome… Into the box you go, sir.

Avg Rating: 2.84. I originally thought maybe Holland’s historical fiction fans didn’t like the fantasy. After a few pages though I find her writing to be super basic as well as over punctuated.  Despite the cool cover, I will trust the rating.

3.09 rating. I may or may not have read this when I needed it for a class back in college.  At this point I’m utterly uninterested and while the one star ratings are mostly bored college kids, I won’t pick it up again

3.13.  I’ll take everyone’s word for it that the Andy Brazil series by Cornwell is a miss. By the time I read through all the Scarpetta books (probably never) I wouldn’t jump for this next anyway.

Next to this was my beaten up paperback copy of The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. It got wet at some point and made me sneeze (and I’m still feeling it) so it went in the trash. It’s an extremely easy paperback to replace and I keep the library dehumidified for a reason 🤣


3.17 and an unfavorable review spread – same story as the prior Cornwell, I’ll stick to Scarpetta


With a 3.23 average rating: I liked Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful but am willing to take people’s word that her debut series is rough. Life’s too short and it never turned into a movie so there’s always that lovely bit of false advertising. It was picked up prior to publication and the cover should have been reprinted when it didn’t happen

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarré

Next up – I thought I passed on all my LeCarré books already, but this one slipped through the cracks. I just can’t read them as he is so utterly boring and long winded. Someone will grab it from the little free library.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

3.34 rating. I’ve flipped through this one before and can agree with the majority of people that if you’re not the aging divorced demographic, you won’t find much to like here. I can’t see picking it up again.

The Selection series is higher rated and quite popular on bookstagram because they’re pretty and photogenic. That said, I actually enjoyed them I just know I won’t read them again. I had them saved to take more photos of except without bookstagram that’s no longer necessary.  Hopefully a young girl home finds them!

All of that for 13 books! That’s what my mind can handle today.  In the mean time I’ll keep reading books that I know I’ll pass onwards after. I’m hell bent to not buy new physical copies until my current books fit on their shelves!

General Posts, Non Reviews Science Fiction

The National Science Fiction Day Book Tag

Something I definitely want to do more of in 2023 is book tags, book challenges, and fun bookish things.

Today I learned that in America, January 2nd is apparently National Science Fiction Day. Ironically I learned that from a non-american.  In honor of this, and the fact that it’s Asimov’s birthday, Alex over at At Boundary’s Edge created an Asimov themed book tag and there is the link to it.  He didn’t specify rules so just, you know, pick a Sci-fi thing that fits the prompts and link back to him if you decide to do the tag 🤣

The Alternate Asimovs:

A book you’d like to change the ending of…

For me it’s To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Paolini.  I did not wade though that brick of a ridiculously long book for that stupid ass ending 🤣

Earth is Room Enough

A book set entirely on Earth…

One that gets thrown around a lot but I am a big fan of: Brave New World by Huxley

The End of Eternity

The longest series you have finished

I haven’t really finished any super long sci-fi series… Ack .. help… Um… trilogies are probably the longest.  I’ll say The Song of Kamaria by TA Bruno since it is the most recent one I read in full. I like sci-fi standalones apparently


The first book you’re reading/have read/plan to read this year

An SPSFC read that I’m not entirely sure is sci-fi, but I can vaguely accept it as steampunk in which robots exist in some way – The Diamond Device by MH Thaung

Foundation’s Friends

A book written by an author who did not create the setting for the book

I’m going with The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis – I don’t follow Star Wars, I’ve never made it through one of the movies in full, I don’t read it, but I’ll support anything she does. I was able to read it as a total standalone and it was cute and fun

The Gods Themselves

A book that features religion

Gene Wolf is the only one coming to mind,  really strongly, with The Book of the New Sun…  man there’s one I should re read as an adult

I, Robot

Your favourite artificial intelligence in a book..



A book you found difficult to finish…

Ummm …. Going to make some enemies here but any of the early Star Trek lit-verse was hard to finish.  The first few books didn’t even know the character dynamics yet so they are a mix of a true achievement, and kind of just … bad.  Really, did anyone read Ghost Ship, Peacekeepers, or Children of Hamlin with rapt attention? No, I didn’t think so 😅 they kind of started smoothing out after that though if I remember correctly

Pebble in the Sky

A fictional planet you’d like to visit

Fishbowl from Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series.  If nothing else you won’t be bored

Space Ranger

A book set on more than one planet

The Guardian League series by Steven J. Morris! More planets the further along you go but you see quite a few different worlds by the end.

There you have it! Hopefully more than three people will do this for him 🤣 just remember to link back to the creator and have fun!