Bookish Thoughts: The Blacksmith Queen

Sometimes a girl just needs to not DNF (do not finish) a book.

I’ve stayed away from my TBR (to be read) pile because I’ve been DNF’ing so many books. So. Many. Books. It’s much easier to DNF a library or Lobby book than one I’ve spent my pre-inflation salary on.

If I’ve read a book by G.A. Aiken before I don’t remember. I’m not sure why. Because The Blacksmith Queen was just what I needed. (Found on Libby)

Fantasy. Check.

Romance. Check.

Funny. Check.

So many things checked off my list. Magical beings; centaurs and elves and dwarves and demon wolves. A heroine you can get behind– she’s strong, knows her own mind and my goodness. There is family, politics, savage battle and a Dragon! Oh how I’ve missed dragons!

Now I either have to wait for my (estimated) 4 week wait time to get book 2 from Libby or… Wait till payday. May go back to Nook Books just because they’re cheaper but…. I really like physical books. Some books I really need the ability to flip through.

Not The Blacksmith Queen, tho. Nope. Ripped through it in less than 24 hours.

Bookish Thoughts: Priory of the Orange Tree

This is a monster of a book. But the thing is– it was only 800 and change in pages, so I’m not sure why exactly this book was soo thick. Printing options, I guess? I bought it online so, I had no clue until I received it.

And it intimidated me for a long time. Even when I started reading, it took a while to get going to where I was actively ripping through the story. 1 week to do 200 pages. The other 600 and change were completed the following week.

I would give this book… Hmmm… I don’t know. I read it. I enjoyed a lot of it, but for me I wish it had been tighter with more dragons and less of one of the male characters. If you read it you know.  You probably feel the same. But Tane did not have enough screen time.  For while her ending was beautiful, it made no sense to me. 

And I wish it did.

Bookish Thoughts: Legends & Lattes

I heard about Travis Baldree’s “Legends & Lattes” through Reddit and TikTok. I wasn’t sure about it, because book recommendations are such a personal thing. You may love a book that I just can’t get into. Or vice versa.

So I bought it on B&N dot com, because we know I can’t find anything at the local store because apparently we don’t read (except we DO AND THEY JUST DONT LIKE US –they are perfectly nice. It’s the algorithm that hates us)

Anyways my lovelies… I was worried. Would I like something that popular? Most of the books on the bestseller lists I do a hard pass on. But then again, how many of the books that I love are on the NYT list?

The prologue didn’t help matters. I understand why it was there, but personally it put me off a bit. They normally do. It’s a preference thing– you might love them.

And then I turned the page. Viv is in Thune and what the heck is going on? And I was sucked in. It hit the boxes of keeping me turning the pages, a found family and some snark. It was just what I needed.

Because in the century since lockdowns started (has it really been ONLY a few years?) and society sometimes feels like a dumpster fire, what is better than snuggling down with a comfort read?

A Cozy Fantasy?

Yes please!

Have any more recommendations for this fledgling sub-genre?

Book Talk: Christmas Romance

There is nothing quite as refreshing as a Christmas Romance novel. They are holly and jolly and just break in the season so well.

I read my first Christmas Romance of the season on Halloween.


It may have been a bad year.

It was a great little book, one in the Beach Street Bakery series. I had only come to this series on my first or second forray back into print books and it was the second book in the series (Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery). I saw the Christmas entry into the series and had to go for it. I meant to save it but… saving didn’t happen.

A review also didn’t happen. Mainly because i was embarassed I started out the season so soon. But I ripped right through it. No holds barred. A couple of days at most from start to finish.

I just finished my second Christmas romance, called The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery. Ripped right through it. And I noticed something. Something that happened every single time I went on break at work.

A little back story. I answer phones at work, and I’m able to take the phone with me when I go out to my car to read for a few minutes. I answer the phones on my breaks– it doesn’t happen often and frankly it’s easier for me to talk to the customers. Unless I’m in the middle of a book that has sucked me in completely and I’m already reluctant to go back to work after my break (just let me stay and read! please!). EVERY SINGLE TIME I’m in the grip of a book, the phone will ring. Every single break. Lunch, too.

It happened so much I debated starting a new rating method— rings. As in phone rings. As in I got 4 phone calls! 1 each break and 2 on lunch and that’s just bull puckey when you’re trying to read a good book!

I raced home and was able to finish it and with the Wedding Guest story I actually got 2 happy endings AND a Christmas Wedding so all’s well that ends well!

What’s your secret life is hard and i need something to make me feel better type of book?

Reading Log: All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults here by Emma Straub was one of those books where I’m not sure where I sit in regards to it. I read it all and enjoyed it to some degree, but it wasn’t one of my favorite reads. The way I can tell is in how fast I read, and this one took a bit to get through.

Part of it is the tone of the book. While it does have some funny bits, such as Porter coming to the realization that “Doing stupid things didn’t have to be wasted on the young,” the book is a quiet, literary type of funny. Or maybe just a quieter book.

A lot of my lagging in the reading speed might have been that most of the novel relied on people… not Adulting. Communication is KEY PEOPLE! There were a couple of times when I wanted strangle Porter— or throw the book across the room. The actual teenager in the book shows more compassion and understand and just general adulting than her parents and some of the other “adults” in the novel. Again. Is the point of the book more than likely…. but….. wow.

Sometimes a girl needs to take a break from the book she’s reading. Those breaks may or may not include Redditt. (I don’t do Facebook much anymore.) Sometimes I read the articles on Google. This doesn’t happen with every book, and it doesn’t mean the book is bad. It just means that I needed a break of all the not adulting the adults were doing in All Adults Here, by Emma Straub.

Bookish Thoughts: Meet me in Paradise

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher is one of two romatical books I’ve read lately that had something in common ( more on that later).

This book, first of all, has both romance and comedy. Falling in the chute to the plane and getting a goose egg? Check! I may have snorted quite a few time while reading this book.

Marin is our hapless heroine in this story. Marin plays it safe, never going on adventures nor even leaving her home state of Tennessee. Entrusted with her little sisters care after a tragedy while they were young, Marin takes to heart that adventures are dangerous and not worth the risk.

And then thing happen. And it is a fun read, and sexy! But there is a tremor of emotion just under the surface, something that will change Marin’s life. Just like life, this book has beauty and sorrow in it and how that characters deal with it is where I have fallen in love.

Both books had a heroine walk away from the romantic interest. Not because of a huge fight. But because sometimes in life the choices you have suck. What I love and adore, is these books have the heroine figuring it out. Coping with grief and trauma on their own, starting the healing process AND THEN bringing the guy in at the end. In terms of the story, that break was short even tho chronologically it was a while.

In the beginning, Lucas (our handsome hero) fixes almost everything for Marin. He gets her to the island. He gets her to go on adventures. Then helps her through the roughest point. But healing after that? Learning who you are and what your capable of? Proving to yourself who you are with no one else’s lense?

That is priceless.

I dislike the narrative that women need a man to be complete. This book doesn’t use it. Not even a hint. The relationship is meaningful because she can do it on her own. Lucas is the adventure she chooses.

Book Review: Hendrick Groen

This week you get a two-fer! Both “The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen 83 1/4 Years Old” and “Two Old Men and a Baby, or How Hendrick and Evert Get Themselves Into a Jam”

I read Two Old Men and a Baby first, it was on one of the fabled B&N tables I love so much. At first, I wasn’t sure about it- bit then I snickered. And then a laugh. And I knew I was all in. It is a funny farce of an escapade. It does have multiple viewpoints and I will admit that about halfway through I stopped reading some of them.

The Secret Diary takes place after the Baby book, but was written first. It is in first person and told exclusively in first person. It was heart warming with a gentle humor- but I wasn’t snickering into my coffee quite as much. And that’s ok. It was still a book I’d recommend (otherwise I wouldn’t put it on here LOL).

That’s all for these two– I have lots more to catch you up on! This is the first time I’m trying to do this on my phone so forgive me any misspelling and formatting errors.

Ta, my Lovelies!

B&N: some thoughts

It surprise no one that I love a book store? If you are shocked… I ain’t got nothing for ya. Have you been under a rock my whole life? 3 out of 4 of my first jobs were in bookstores. And I loved them.

I got away a bit, by reading on my tablet. My Nook. And it’s ok for books, I like them just fine? Bit I absolutely can’t stand reading a magazine that way. It’s… Hinky. Too many quirks to it. And I’ve started reading a lot more magazines, so I’ve been visiting local Barnes & Noble stores. Well, one local to home, and one local to work.

My peeps, I am in trouble. In addition to the magazines, I am finding books, glorious ink and paper books that are a joy to behold! And hold and read and not worryabout dropping in the toilets or in the parking lot at work and shattering the screen. And in a time when connections are so precious, paper and ink win over the tablet

Although to be fair I am writing this on the tablet, so it is still being used.

Pre-pandemic, I would buy my cards in a Barnes and Noble, and some magazines. Now… Oh, they have tables with… Gasp! … Sales! Buy 2 get 1 free! Buy 1 get 2nd half off! And it’s so much easier to graze… Um, peruse titles in the store. Although the maze getting through Science Fiction and Fantasy is bloopy, it’s still easier to pick out a book than on a reading app.

(Don’t talk to me about the free books, and discounted pricing on e-readers. I know! I know!)

((and double don’t bring up the kindle. There’s a reason I’m on a nook))

So in the past couple of moths I’ve been to 3 different stores. The local one in Stockton is super nice, but they don’t have the selection I would like for literary magazines. That En Bloc I loved? Nope. Zoetrope? subTerrain ? Nope nada zero zilch. I get it, the demographics aren’t there.

The one near my work had more, but my friend when I was talking about demographics and needing a place that was.?? Hmmm… More literate? Knew exactly where to go! And I did find bunches there! And the problem with asking for the titles I want to read is… I didn’t know I wanted to read them until I picked them up. Some, I didn’t know existed! But being able to flip through pages? Get little sips of language and decide yes or no? Oh yes, yes please!

And that’s something that I missed with books too. I am a serial flip to the back of the book, make sure it’s a happy ending, flip back and keep reading kind of girl. (And yes, I’ll get back to reviewing actual books and magazines soon.)

Ah, books. I’ve missed you.

That Weird Writer Friend

I am that weird writer friend, the one who sends out cards (and will even to people they don’t know!). Recently, I leveled up my game.

In my defense., I’d been thinking about it for a minute or two. And I did message her before doing it. Essentially, I created a character to write a letter… to a character that entrances and bedevils my sister from another mother. If you’d like to see what they’re up to, Rie posted about it on her blog which you can find here:

If you’d like to learn more about Jo and her companions, you can find them on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to name a few (I originally had links but spaced and lost them! Oh no! Look up Rie Sheridan Rose, you’ll thank me? She has lots of different types of stories, including Jo’s escapades. Want poetry? She writes it. Horror? Yup. Fantasy? She has you covered!)

If I had a nickle for every card I wrote, it’d be a lot of Nickles! This one was different– Ive written poems in cards, or short short stories for kids. But creating a character to write to another character was a new one for me. Not sure what made me do it, bit I’m glad I did.

And extra happy that I have writer friends who roll with it!

Book Review: Creatures: A Novel

Hello my lovelies! Today I thought I’d talk to you about Creatures: A Novel by Crissy Van Meter. It’s the first physical book I’ve read in a while. I’ve read on my Nook, and physical magazines… but books? For enjoyment? Not so much.

On that last trip to Barnes & Noble, I found a couple of tables with “Buy 2 Get 1 Free!” Normally, I just walk on by. I enjoy reading on my Nook. It’s convenient. I can adjust the font size. But there is nothing quite like holding a book in your hands and smelling the pages as you read.

I picked up this one in particular because of the little sea creatures on the cover, and the setting being close to the sea (an island, so. Yah). The voice captured me, drew me in and held me even through the parts I hate.

And yes, there are things in this book I normally skip right out of. Drugs—especially parents using a lot of drugs. Van Meter handles it in a variety of ways. Time flows like the ocean, back and forward. The academic questions and answers regarding whales that explore Evangeline’s relationship with her dead father, who looms just as surely as the dead whale out on the beach. The innovation in the way the story is told, including an insert of the very far future (and only one! I wanted more!), is beautifully done. It comes organically from the story– which we all know means that Van Meter put a lot of effort into it. It was worth it.

Overall, the character’s voice drew me in and kept me, even past the time where I knew the subject matter wasn’t what I normally read. I was engrossed. I was rooting for Evangeline. Creatures is the perfect example of why it’s so important to find the right voice for our stories. Because that voice will carry even the most reluctant reader through.