General Posts, Non Reviews

Wyrd & Wonder (May) Wrap Up & June TBR

Boat artwork by Tithi Luadthong 

May flew by and I’m having a hard time believing that we are looking at June already.  May is one of my favorite reading months due to Wyrd & Wonder.  I set out to read a few fantasy books, explore some new recs, write a few articles, and do a buddy read, and I’d say I met that goal.

I didn’t read as much as (only 7 books) but I don’t feel too underwhelmed.

May Wrap up:
  • Only 7 books
  • 4 fantasy, 2 sci-fi, one thriller
  • 3.5 on audio, 2.5 ebooks, no physicals finished 

The problem was that I got bogged down in a 700+ page SPSFC2 read. I’m also slogging through my physical read ALL this month and need to just DNF it. There was also an indie book that became a chore to read.  That said, I’ll highlight my favorite read of the month & top 5 year so far:

The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold. I set out to find new authors this month and definitely succeeded there.  I also re read Tailchaser’s Song which hit me differently as an adult.


I wrote a few articles and lists for Wyrd & Wonder:

Thoughts & favorite alchemy books 

What will make me grab a fantasy book

Fantasy books I always recomm

– and a home library FAQ that got good feedback!

There are a few other fantasy reviews. I didn’t love The Bone Witch, the Read-A-Long book.

I did love A King’s Bargain by JDL Rosell.

Sunday Brunch:

Brunch was back in force with two lovely SPSFC2 interviews. Once again, the series is open to anyone with a book in the SPSFC this year!

Dito Abbott in all his airship glory and OR Lea were nice enough to stop by.

May Blog stats:

Since I’ve gotten in the habit of sharing monthly blog stats. Thanks to Top Ten Tuesday & Wyrd and Wonder I had my best month of commenting in blog history.  Likes and views are on average with slightly more unique visitors than last month.

Themes for teens is forever my top evergreen review and I’m firmly getting more views from search engines now. It’s small but something. 

Looking towards June:

This post is getting long so let’s do this quick:

I’ve got two ARCs to read:

  • Mothtown by Caroline Hardaker – and she agreed to a Brunch session which is exciting
  • Champion of Fate by Kendare Blake! Publicity reached out which is extremely exciting. I’m going to chalk up my social anxiety and ask if KB will interview too!

Buzzard’s Bowl by John Palladino is a 6/1 release and that’s on my TBR since I preordered it.  I’ve also committed to my Nick Adams read – tough but worth it I hope.

I’ve also got to read the final SPSFC2 books:

  • Hammer and Crucible by Cameron Cooper
  • Melody by David Hoffer
  • Night Music by Tobias Cabral

Sigh.. maybe not as much mood reading this month.

I’ve got one more interview booked with Drew Melbourne!

Other than that: I’m done for now. I just want to throw out there that the book community toxicity this past month has been exhausting for all the good people out there and I’ve been sad to see some very good folks backing away because of it.  Take a step back, smell the flowers, go for a walk, don’t let the angry keyboard warriors win.

General Posts, Non Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Will Make Me Read A Fantasy Book

Hi everyone! I was going to post a review today but I’ve been LOVING meeting everyone who surfs the Top Ten Tuesday posts! It’s a community it itself and I’m here for it!

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.

I decided to tweak it a bit and add “fantasy” books to fit prompts for Wyrd and Wonder too! From Sunday brunch to hard days, let’s see what brings me to a book

1. Horse on the cover

I am not the slightest bit picky. If there’s a horse on the cover of that fantasy book I am immediately interested and at least going to read the description.  I’ve discovered many awesome books this way.


2. If Dragons are involved

Self explanatory. I love fantasy with mystical animals whether dragons, gryphons, unicorns, magic horses, or anything else. Bring it on.


3. Anything other than people on the cover

In general, people on the cover tend to make me less interested.  If a it’s really pretty illustrated cover that’s one thing, but for the most part I’m less attracted to characters on the cover than animals or anything else

4. Artwork

I’m a fiend for maps and internal artwork. Scrolling, illustrations, chapter headings, even an index with illustrations will pique my interest.

5. Who blurbed it

Another self-explanatory one. Some authors I trust more than others but there are certain authors that if I see they have blurbed the book I’ll Auto buy.

6. The Author

Another easy, self-explanatory one. Everyone has at least one auto buy author

7. Sunday Brunch

Unique to me, if someone is interested in the Sunday brunch series I usually do them the courtesy of reading the book before writing interview questions. It’s hard to talk about and promote a book if you haven’t read it

8. Certain reviewers

Now this does absolutely not mean that I chase after hyped books. In fact quite the opposite is true. I have a select core of reviewers who I trust and tend to have similar tastes to.  (Philip Chase and Holly Hearts Books are two of them). If one of them truly loves a book, I’ll usually check it out too

9.  Synopsis

This one can go either way but an interesting synopsis goes a long way. Anything involving a pirates for example will catch my interest

10. A hard week at work

If I’m having a hard week in real life, I’m probably not going to pick up a historical tome or something that requires a lot of brain power. I’m looking for light fantasy in those situations

Bonus: all the things I love most

I’m a sucker for medieval settings too.  Knights, paladins, holy wars, pirates, horses, and dragons are the “in general” things that I love most

Thanks for checking out my list! What things immediately attract you to a book?

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 ♥️

Fantasy Young Adult

The Splintered Series by A.G. Howard (Wyrd & Wonder: Magical Location)

Magic portal artwork by Tithi Luadthong

Today’s Wyrd & Wonder prompt is Magical Location.  What could be more magical than Wonderland?  I have struggled with whether I should write something, anything, or nothing, about the SPLINTERED series by A.G. Howard.  I carried the books around for years because they had pretty artwork and made good Instagram props, but honestly I was miffed and half disgusted reading them.


I pushed through the series mostly out of respect for how long I lugged them around while I moved and travelled and … *Sigh*.  If it weren’t for the audiobooks it would have been a no go. I couldn’t have finished. All the pretty artwork and burgundy/purple/blue font in the world can’t fix this!

The gist is that Alyssa’s maternal line is descended from the original Alice who went down the rabbit hole. There’s an interesting story buried somewhere regarding family secrets and what *actually* happened all those years ago.

We spend book one, Splintered, meeting  Howard’s questionable take on mental health and learning how wishy washy & stupidly dependent the main character is.  Her one “love interest” is possessive and awful despite the fact that they aren’t even dating at first. No one cares about their skateboarding plaid wearing emo drama awfulness.  Alyssa has fake dreadlocks made of string that the guy called “tight” and I said, good God can this get stupider?

Well, yes, it can

Moving on to Wonderland, I actually did like Howard’s creepy take on the Fae inhabitants of the other realm.  She has good descriptions and maintains that dangerous, wild atmosphere.

I didn’t like Morpheus, who is the only one obviously even more possessive and terrible to Alyssa than the first guy, Jeb.  I get that solitary fae are terrible anyway but she never exactly stuck to her guns and said no to him. So we spend about 2.75 out of 3 books watching these assholes literally kill Alyssa as she tries to please everyone and never learns to stand up for herself.  There is an outright episode of strangulation in book two that’s apparently excusable and not a big deal because he was given drugs.  Please talk to your teens if you buy them this series, I would recommend confirming that they don’t believe this is acceptable behavior under any circumstances.


Anyway, back to the book, when we are in Wonderland, or the looking glass realm, those were my favorite parts. The second book in the series, Unhinged, was my least favorite because 1) we never saw Wonderland and 2) omg the evil queen is attacking PROM and the entire book is about post prom sex that thankfully doesn’t occur.

Ok let’s go there for a minute – by the end of the series, in Ensnared, Howard made Wonderland into a religious afterlife take, which is fine.  She kept Alyssa virtuous for both of her weddings, which is great, but she didn’t own the religious theme throughout the series at all.  I don’t like when authors just dump it in at the end, and in this case it was a weird take since neither the characters nor series really reflected a lot of christian ideals.

The last book, the collection of novellas, gave a lot of background and closure that she never gave us in Ensnared. I felt like Howard tried to keep doing apologetics for Morpheus and just also failed in negating how disloyal Alyssa was to either guy throughout the series, and, frankly she should have left both of them because emotional abuse is abuse too 🤷‍♀️ I actually get what she was trying to do with the “split selves” but it just comes across as poor behavior on everyone’s part.


I mean ok I thought the Caraval series was bad and Tella was the stupidest female MC ever, but Alyssa just is so, so much worse. I think it’s hilarious that Stephanie Garber plugged the series because it’s so similar.  The girls can’t go one page without being trusting, being betrayed by, “learning their lesson”, and then going back to the guy that’s spinning them around like a yo-yo.  Really how much can we take of this? Why did I finish these books?

There was just enough of a story that I wanted to see what happened, and wasn’t too mad.  Alyssa’s dad is the only character that I liked and he became a big part of book three, which was my favorite of the entire lot by far.  The looking glass world was interesting and there wasn’t actually a terrible plot at heart with the manipulative red queen and all the terrible things happening in Wonderland.

Lord I just wish the characters weren’t so terrible. And I didn’t like that book two kept us only in the real world.  As far as the audiobook, how did this take place in a small town in Texas yet only one character had a southern accent? He also sounded like the voice that young kids make when they’re making fun of a dumb person and try to use a low, flat octave.

It’s so bad, I can’t reconcile these pretty books with how much I don’t even think teens need to be reading them.  The most telling fact is that book one had 61,000 ratings while book three didn’t even clear 20k.  A lot of people got bent out of shape over the mental health aspects, but I get it, I mean we do terrible but necessary things to psych patients even in the hospital so I’m assuming they do it in care centers too if worst comes to it.  It was definitely fictionalized though.  The glorifying and apologetics regarding partner abuse was the other thing bringing a lot of reviewer criticism and that’s the one I don’t think teens need. Learn to say no and stick to your guns.


That said, at the end of the day I can see where these were fairly popular books but I don’t think they’re going to hold up well.  I rated the first two books 2/5 stars and the third and fourth (the stories collection) 3 stars.

There’s a decent plot there and a lot of good ideas but you have to wade through a LOT of shit to find it