Recommendations: Standalones

Hey all, Dani here.

I am so sorry that I missed my regular recommendations post last week. It was actually supposed to be this post, but I didn’t have it completely written up and I was stressed out a bit and my muscles were sore from work so I ended up not getting on my computer at all.

It’s a horrible excuse, and I’m trying to do better.

Anyway, today I want to talk to you about some standalone reads. You know, books that don’t have sequels or spin-offs or companion novels. Just nice simple stories that begin and end in just a single tome.

Let’s get started.

Okay, so do you know what I learned while trying to come up with a list of books to recommend for this particular post? Well, I learned a couple of things. First, most of the standalone books I read tend to fall in the contemporary category. And second, most of the standalones on this list are books I’ve recommended before.

Obviously I find each of these books to be good to read, and if I have a review posted I will go ahead and link to the review so you can learn all of my thoughts and feelings on them, but I’ve talked about each of these books before so I’m sure you don’t want to hear me say the same stuff all over again.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Next I have a recent read, but it definitely deserves to be on the list.


I loved this book. It was so good, and you can find my review here, so I’ll try not to gush about it or rehash my thoughts in this post, but I think this one definitely set the bar pretty high for other contemporary and/or diverse reads in 2018.

Then I have a more classic recommendation to add to the list, and this is good in both novel or movie form. Actually, I’m feeling like I need to reread and rewatch this one because it has been quite some time since I last visited this world and these characters.


I just love the way that this one is written. The Princess Bride is a classic for a reason. This book is set up as if someone came through and pretty much edited the book. So you’ll have this editor make commentary about removing 8 pages of text about the items a character is packing for a trip, and then two pages later there is another comment about removing 6 pages that detailed unpacking the things that were just packed a few pages earlier. It is just a wonderfully amusing read. (From what I remember anyway…it has been several years since I last read it).

Finally, I personally don’t really consider these ones to be standalones, but they technically are, so I’ll just briefly mention them here.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Both of these (and the upcoming third book Record of a Spaceborn Few) take place in the same setting and may mention the same characters and such, but they are technically self-contained stories. They are listed as part of the Wayfarers series, but are marketed as standalones. Still, they are wonderful and diverse, and I do very much recommend them.

Then there’s Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (I can’t add the third book–Beneath the Sugar Sky–yet because I haven’t read it). These books are collectively part of the Wayward Children series, but they follow different characters and can be read as standalones.

So there you have it…my standalone recommendations. As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any books to recommend for this particular topic, feel free to tell me about them in the comments.

I’ll see you tomorrow with my January Wrap Up post.


Review: Love Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Hey all, Dani here.

My goodness, I have been a truly awful book blogger lately. I didn’t even get my regular recommendation post up last Thursday, so I’m sorry about that. I am currently working to try and get at least a couple posts up this week for all of you. Because it is completely true that I have a rather lengthy list of manga and comic reviews I can write up, and I also have a bunch of book tags that I can put together relatively quickly. It’s really just about sitting down and taking the time to write them up.

Anyway, today I just have to put up a review for one of the books I was most highly anticipating for the year of 2018. For the past few months I had heard so much about this book, from other bloggers and vloggers being excited about it, to hearing a few really good reviews.

So, let’s just jump into this.



A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Oh my…this book was so good. Maya was such a fun protagonist, and by that I mean that her love of making movies and studying cinematography was just so clear and it just helped me enjoy her so much. I love seeing how people/characters just seem to light up when they talk about something they are passionate about.

I can also say that it was really cool that the crime mentioned in the summary of the book doesn’t happen until around the halfway point, so we get to spend a lot of time getting used to Maya, her friends, her family, and her normal life before everything is turned upside down.

There was also an interesting culture clash as Maya’s parents had immigrated to the United States and Maya was born there, so her parents and all their friends and such were still very much rooted in the culture of where they grew up, whereas Maya is pretty much the average American teen, so she ends up arguing with her parents about things on a somewhat frequent basis.

But you know what, it’s nice that we have a YA book where the parents are actually present, and they truly parent their child. Though after the terror attack I feel that they definitely head into very overprotective parent mode.

I guess the only part of the story that didn’t completely wow me was the romance plot, but I can say that I still liked it. The problem for me was that the one guy Maya liked was with someone else for most of the book, and when Maya thought that he had broken up with his girlfriend, others still saw them together and it made it seem like they weren’t actually broken up. Honestly though, I guess that does have a sense of realness to it, because when I was a teen (which was seriously a little over a decade ago, but still), there were a number of wishy-washy couples, where you weren’t sure if they were or weren’t together at any given time.

Okay, so I want to very briefly talk about a part that really impressed me with this book, but I’m going to have to be pretty vague, because I don’t want to spoil things. At the end of the book, Maya makes a decision about whether to stay at home according to her parents’ wishes, or head off to New York and film school like she would like. Her decision, and how others respond to her decision, did not go as I had thought it would, and I was actually really pleased with that.

So overall I am so glad I read this book, and it is definitely worth the read. It ranks higher than Dear Martin for me, but I still need to read The Hate U Give and see where it falls in the ranking. Having books that focus on issues of race and discrimination and different cultures is massively important for our world today, and I hope that all you lovely readers get a chance to pick up books like this one.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Love, Hate & Other Filters from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Recommendations: Card Games

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I’m changing up my recommendations post just a teeny bit. I still have a few more bookish options coming up in the future, but I mentioned before that I’m a bit of a geek and a gamer. Namely I get together with my friends and we play tabletop games (board games, card games, dice games, etc.), so I thought perhaps I would share some of my favorites with you lovely people.

I’m going to start off with card games, as in games played using cards. These games are fun and pretty simple to play. All you need is the deck of cards required to play. And yes, while games like Go Fish, or Euchre, or 500 Rummy, or UNO are all great games, they won’t be found on this list.

Oh, and I should say that when I list off the game, I will also include a link to a YouTube video for the Geek & Sundry web series TableTop, hosted by Wil Wheaton, where he plays a bunch of tabletop games with some awesome geeky friends. These videos are typically around a half-hour in length and give you a pretty decent idea of how the game is played. Plus they are just fun to watch.

Okay, let’s just jump into this.



This game is like playing a RPG but without the hours of character creation and thinking up a backstory and all of that. It is a basic dungeon crawl type scenario where you want to be the person who reaches 10th level first. There are a number of versions of Munchkin, from Zombies to Cthulu, and so many expansions that it can occupy a number of hours. And since part of the fun of Munchkin is either teaming up with your friends or backstabbing them so you can level up faster, it also makes the game have pretty good replay value.



Why do I love this game? Well, because it is a card storytelling game and your goal is to make the other families happy while making your own family miserable and then killing them all. I know that it sounds a bit weird, but you when by having the biggest negative score. This is also a game with a few expansion sets, which allow you to add in extra families, unwanted guests, unhappy homes and more.



Yes, the version I have of this particular game is Star Fluxx. Okay, technically I have Firefly Fluxx as well. Moving on. Anyway, what is fun about this game is that the rules are constantly in flux. What you need to do to win changes based on the cards played, and the number of cards you draw and play each turn are also based on the cards that are played. Star Fluxx has cards inspired by various sci-fi movies and TV shows, and Firefly Fluxx is obviously focused on the show Firefly. There are so many different Fluxx games out there, so I’m sure you can find one that would fit your interests.


Chez Geek

The basic concept for this card game is that all the players are roommates, and you are trying to collect as many slack points as possible. You do this by drinking, sleeping, eating, getting nookie, etc. I play this with my regular game group quite a bit and it’s always fun to see what job you decide to get so you can afford to buy food, drinks, and entertainment.



I love this card game. It is a illustrated bluffing and guessing style game. On each player’s turn they will choose one of their own cards and then say a word or a phrase as a clue to what the card is. Then they place that card face down and every other player also chooses a card from their hand that they think best fits the clue. The pile of cards is shuffled and then the players try to guess which card belongs to the clue giver. Points are given based on correct answers, but beware, because if everyone guesses the correct card they get the points and not the clue giver. Dixit also has expansions that add extra cards to the deck for more variety in play and the clues.


Once Upon a Time

Another storytelling card game, so these are best played with fellow book lovers or storytellers. Each player has a hand of cards that are character or plot elements of a story, as well as a happy ending card. When it is their turn they are the Storyteller and began to weave together a tale utilizing the cards in their hand. The goal is to be the person to manipulate the story so that you can play all of your cards, including your happily ever after card. The other players can interrupt the story and become the Storyteller by using on of their cards. It’s just a whole lot of fun.


Love Letter

For a simple and easy to carry around game, look no farther than Love Letter. This game is so compact, and is designed for 2-4 players. Basically all the players are trying to get love letters to the princess and earn her love, which is measured by little square blocks. I will also say that this is a super fast game to play, so it works well if you are having a marathon game night and need something quick in between those longer board games.


Sushi Go

I love this game so much. The artwork is adorable and it is so fun and quick and easy to play. Everyone has a hand of cards, they select one and set it down. Then the pass that hand to the next player. This repeats and continues until all the cards have been selected. Collecting certain combinations of sushi earns you a certain amount of points. After three rounds of play you count up the totals and the winner is the person with the highest score. It is simple and my friends and I generally enjoy playing it…though for some of us it makes us want to go out to eat sushi.

All right then, that is it for my recommendation post this week. If you have any card games you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments.


The Road So Far (2)

Hey all, Dani here.

Why mess with the tradition I started last year? I might as well keep using the awesome “Supernatural” reference for my retrospective over the last year. You can find my overview of 2016 here.

Today also happens to be my 2 year blogaversary. I started this blog in 2016 to help me cope with my paternal grandmother’s death. Well, technically that was the catalyst for starting it; I had been thinking of starting up a blog again for a while because I needed to talk about books with someone.

2017 was such a rollercoaster year for me, and yet, looking back I wouldn’t change any of the lows I went through. Not only because the highs really kept me afloat, but also because the lows allowed me to fully understand how great the highs were.

Anyway, in January I found out that I was approved for the vacation days from work that would allow me to go to Book Expo and BookCon. Though I knew I was going alone, I knew that I would have a fun time surrounded by other book lovers and getting to check out a bunch of upcoming releases.

Also in January, my parents separated after 30 years together, and started the process of getting a divorce. The drama and issues from this event would send shockwaves through roughly 2/3 of the year.

I lost myself in books, both reading them and buying them. I pushed myself to work more on my blog, and to start interacting more with other members of the book community. It was the start to me really feeling like a good book blogger. But in those early months it was also the way I had to cope with what was happening in my life. Well, my books and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was Dungeons & Dragons that introduced me to the man who I would start dating in April. As it turns out this would be the event that helped me get through everything else. Admittedly, I know some people in my real life got annoyed with how much I gushed about my guy and how great things were. I can’t help it that my life started to feel like I was part of a romance story.

After my trip to NYC for Book Expo and BookCon, my blog really started to take off. I reached 100 followers, and later in the year 200. I’m not sure when follower 250 came around, but it might have been just before 2017 ended. So thank you to each and every one of you who has joined me in this process. You are all amazing.

Even with my work and my relationship, I somehow managed to still keep up with all of my reading and blogging, and actually I started having posts go up every single day, something I never would have thought I would be able to do.

I participated in quite a few readathons over the course of the year, from both sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, to a few other assorted events. All in all I think those helped me connect with more of you, and to read a bunch more books. The 24 Hour events always seem much more successful to me than the week long events, but I still keep trying with them. Hey, any excuse to read more, right?

I rekindled my fondness for manga in 2017, and I can honestly say that I am devouring so many of them. My list of manga reviews waiting to be written up is getting decently long.

Oh, and my boyfriend and I were able to go to Indianapolis in August with another friend of ours for a one day pass to Gen Con, which is a gaming convention. There we were able to get a lot of books, dice, and games, as well as to meet the cast of Critical Role. It was a really fun day.

For the 12th time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and managed to earn my 12th win, but I realize that the novel that came out is mostly incoherent. With any luck I’ll be able to start from scratch and re-write the book in 2018. I’d actually love to be able to share it with the world. And it would be nice to really get back into writing (and possibly publishing) again.

And I managed to do a TBR purge and go through a list of well of 800 books on Goodreads, taking it down to just over 400 books. I imagine this will be something I’ll have to do again soon, but I still feel pretty good with where I’m at now.

But, the greatest event of 2017 was towards the end of December. On Friday, December 22nd, on a day when we thankfully had a shutdown day at work, my boyfriend and I went shopping at Barnes & Noble where he both bought more books than me and spent more money than me. You guys, that rarely happens. You’ve seen my typical book hauls. I usually get a heck of a lot of books.

After that shopping trip, we made our way to the zoo, where we walked around for a couple hours, looking at all of the animals and then also checking out the massive holiday light display they put up each year. And it was while sitting on a bench overlooking Conservation Lake at the zoo, that my wonderful boyfriend sank down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was honestly just like a scene out of a Hallmark channel holiday movie, and I so look forward to seeing what our future will be like.

I hope you all had some moments of 2017 that were really nice as well, and I hope that we all have a very nice 2018.


Recommendations: Series

Hey all, Dani here.

This week has been a super rough one, everyone. This transition from my previous position to my current one at work is not going to be as easy or as smooth as I would have hoped. I have roughly 18 reviews that need to be written up, something like 10 book tag posts I need to write, and about 10 or so other posts where I have the ideas but haven’t had the time to actually write them up. So if I can find enough time then I can keep the blog going at a regular pace for a while.

Today is going to be an interesting recommendation post. Most of the time when I come on here and suggest books you may want to check out, they are limited to a certain theme or genre. Not today. Nope, this time the only thing I am sticking to is that these books are in a series.

Not a duology, not a trilogy, a series. Okay, so some may be quartets but I consider those to be series. Anything with four or more books is fair game with today’s post. In the future I will also have posts for duologies and trilogies and even standalones.

And because some series can get quite lengthy, I’m not going to restrict this list to completed series either. That wouldn’t be fair to some of my favorite series out there. But I am going to say that I need to have read a good number of the books in the series for them to qualify for this list. So you won’t see Dresden Files, the Seven Realms, or Outlander on here because I’ve only read the first book.

All right, let’s get started.

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes.

This series is so good. When I first gave it a try I heard people saying it was like a YA version of Game of Thrones, and I can understand why people say that. It is an expansive world with a lot of political moves and so many secrets, lies, and deaths,  and a cast of characters than is wonderfully complex. The sixth and final book will be out next month so now is a great time to jump into it all.


Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.

Basically anything by Rick Riordan is worth adding to a recommendation list, so I clearly can’t have this list without mentioning them. I first discovered The Lightning Thief when I was 18, almost 19, and I have been hooked ever since. I love stories that have a mythology theme to them, and these books certainly deliver. And I feel that they just keep getting better and better. I am really looking forward to the third book in the Trials of Apollo series.

Colorworld by Rachel E. Kelly.

Why yes, I am mentioning the Colorworld series yet again. I absolutely love these books, and Rachel–and her husband Brad–are just wonderful people. The characters are wonderfully developed and the story just gets more and more expansive as the series progresses. I think that for the moment the fifth book, Dreamworld, is my favorite, but there are still technically five more parts of the sixth book to be released, so we’ll see what happens. This is the series I recommend to every single person who will listen to me. It is fantastic.


Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.

Well, this is one of the newer series to find its way onto my recommended list. My boyfriend is the one who talked about this one several times before we actually started dating, and he seemed to love them so much that I had to give them a try. I very quickly devoured the first four books of the series. They are interesting vampires and the romances and the overall story are pretty compelling.


Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

I might as well toss some graphic content into this post as well. I read all six of these in one day and they were so fun and geeky and wonderfully action packed and pretty humorous. Scott was a cool character and I enjoyed reading this and watching the film in equal measure.


Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

I love Neil Gaiman. He is a creative genius who can create wonderfully diverse and complex worlds and fascinatingly interwoven plots. I was finally able to finish the Sandman series, and it has definitely made me want to read a bunch more books by Gaiman. So hopefully I’ll be able to do that in 2018.


Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy

Catie Murphy is one of my favorite authors, and I have actually been a backer to several Kickstarter campaigns for her books, but I think this was the first series of hers I discovered, and I totally need to do a reread of all of them. Main character Joanne is really awesome, and I love her approach to healing others. Jo is a mechanic by trade so she thinks of healing a person in the same way as fixing a car. It is also really cool that it takes Jo time to learn how to use her abilities and such instead of just magically knowing it all.

There are a number more great series I know I could add to this list, so I’m sure I’ll end up having a part two, part three, etc. to this particular topic in the future.

What series would you recommend?


Recommendations: Time Travel

Hey all, Dani here.

So, the first thing I need to say is that I am currently working on trying to catch up on all of your lovely blog posts from the last couple weeks. Aside from checking for comments or replies to comments, I pretty much avoided the internet for the week and a half that I was off work at the end of 2017. I’m hoping to be caught up by the end of the week…maybe. I’m on December 25/26 right now. But I will catch up soon enough, so be patient with me when it comes to tags and such.

Okay, and now, hello, and welcome to my first recommendation post for 2018. You may notice a tiny bit of a change to these posts this year. Not only will I be discussing different book recommendations, but also recommendations for games, bookish items, and maybe even shows and/or movies. It all depends on how I’m feeling and what all topics/themes/genres I have on my future post idea list.

As always, if you have any suggestions for book genres or themes you’d like to see my recommendations for, please leave those in the comments.

And now let’s jump into my recommendations for time travel reads.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (also the concluding novel to the duology, Time After Time). The first time I tried to get through this book I simply couldn’t do it. The narrator just sounded lifeless and mechanical to me. If you haven’t figured it out, I tried to listen to the audiobook and it just wasn’t working for me. I’m picky about the narrators. So eventually I picked up the hardcover and I flew through this book. It was cute and fun and made me a fan of Tamara Ireland Stone.

Tempest by Julie Cross. I never continued on with this series, but I do have to say that the overall concept seemed interesting. The problem I had with this book was that the first 1/3 to 1/2 felt a little slow and I didn’t quite believe the details of how the main character traveled through time. But the second half or two-thirds of the book was really great and it made me say in my review that I planned to pick up the sequel. Now that it has been a couple years since then, I don’t know if I will. Perhaps a re-read of this one is in order so I can determine if I want to read more or not.

Okay, these next two might be cheating a little bit on the theme of time travel, but I’m going to include them anyway.

The Dreamer by Lora Innes. This doesn’t have any sort of traditional time travel. Main character Beatrice, otherwise known as “Bea” goes back in time to the American Revolution when she falls asleep in modern day, and then when she falls asleep in Revolutionary times, she wakes up in modern day. Nevertheless, this web comic that has also been released in print, is so interesting and also educational.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. So the world of this series features special places that live on loops, reliving the same day over and over again. But if you are a peculiar and you know where to go, you can sort of time travel by entering the area where the loop is. Which is what happens with main character Jake, when he ends up back in the time of WWII where he encounters the peculiars who feature heavily in his grandpa’s stories.

Timebound by Rysa Walker. This may be one of my favorite time travel reads, and I feel so disappointed with the fact that I never read the second or third books. I really need to reread this one and then finally read the others. The cover to this book is awesome and the story inside was really intriguing as well.

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor. This one takes a little time to get into the time travel portion of the story, but I think it is really cool, and it is also nice that the main character has done a lot of studying to help know a lot about the time period. I really need to pick up the sequel to this one as well.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I very much enjoyed this book. The prologue instantly hooked me, but after that it was a slow build until I was absolutely submerged in the story and furiously turning pages to see what would happen next and where each passage would take Etta and Nicholas.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin. This one definitely feels a little more like sci-fi time travel, with the main characters being based in the future and then traveling to the past. But it was a really cool team of characters and I really enjoyed the story.


Finally, I have to mention one of my favorite trilogies from my childhood. Of course, this is soon to expand to more stories. Apparently there was meant to be more years ago but the author had to deal with some major health obstacles, and the recovery took a while. Nevertheless I am so very excited (and a bit impatient) for more news about the fourth book. I need a title, a cover, a summary, a release date. The story was interesting, and I really enjoyed the decently sized cast of characters, both on the side of good and the not so good characters. This is yet another set of books where I desperately need to reread them, especially considering the upcoming fourth book. I need more Arkarian in my life.

All right, well I think that is it for now. If you have any time travel books you would recommend, please let me know in the comments!


Recommendations: Poetry

Hey all, Dani here.

Wow. Here we are at my last recommendation post of 2017. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. I guess here is where I should say that I am changing my recommendations up just a little bit in 2018. I have some ideas for posts about card games, board games, dice games, and more that I would recommend to all of you.

Speaking of, if any of you have ideas for more recommendation post topics, feel free to suggest them in the comments section.

Okay, well today I am recommending a genre I don’t read very often, though I’m trying to work on that a bit. I pretty much was put off it for a while because of school. Poetry in my opinion should be absorbed and felt, not dissected and analyzed. So, I apologize for not having as many recommendations as I normally would. If you have any poetry recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!


Pop Sonnets by Erik Didrikson

Okay, so this one is fun for fans of popular songs and also fans of Shakespeare. This lovely little volume takes songs like Bohemian Rhapsody and alters it so that it fits the rhyme scheme and meter of a Shakespearean sonnet. I absolutely loved reading this. It’s actually really fun to choose some of these at random and read them out loud to your friends to see if they can guess the song before you get to the end of the poem.


Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

While I liked Rupi Kaur’s first release a bit better than her second, I think they are both intriguing reads, and I’m glad I listened to recommendations to give this poet a try. Many of the poems are short, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pack a punch for the reader. In fact, I’d give the statement that the shorter ones have a bit more of an emotional impact, or at least they did for me. Plus, Rupi Kaur also does her own illustrations to accompany the poems. Slight warning though, not all of the illustrations may be appropriate in public, at work, etc.


Inhale the Night, Night Poems, Haiku in the Night, and Sleeping with Earth by Ben Ditmars

These four poetry collections are by a local author friend of mine, and I picked the first three up at a book signing, and then the last one I picked up at our local bookstore. The fun thing about my copy of Inhale the Night is that it was actually the only copy he had left with him and it was actually his proof copy from CreateSpace, so in a way it is very unique. The pages all have the PROOF watermark across the center.

But anyway, Ben Ditmars has many good poems in each of his collections, and I like that Night Poems, Haiku in the Night, and Inhale the Night contain lengthier poems that are broken into parts that span across each of the books. And I enjoy the night themes that permeate the collections. And you all know that I will always try and help support self-published authors and indie authors.


the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

This one is apparently the start of a trilogy of poetry collections, so I look forward to seeing what the next two installments contain. I definitely preferred the lighter in tone poems to the ones about abuse, self-harm, suicide, and more. But I can absolutely see where this is an important read, and where it could be so helpful to so many people out there.

Well, I am sorry that this is a somewhat shorter recommendation post than normal. I guess this shows that I need to try and read more poetry in the future.


Recommendations: Urban Fantasy

Hey all, Dani here.

You guys, I can’t believe the year is almost over. Where has the time gone? Also, I find myself thinking back on all of the book recommendations I have given this year. I started these posts back in September, and I thought I would just have around five or six and that would be it. As it turns out, I had more post ideas than that, and also you all really seem to enjoy these posts, which is awesome.

Anyway, today I am bringing you some Urban Fantasy recommendations. Now the difference in these books from fantasy or paranormal stories is that the setting is an important factor. Either it is described in a very real way or its location means something to the story or the city itself somewhat feels like another character. There’s a reason this particular sub-genre earned the name Urban Fantasy.

Let’s just jump into the list, shall we?


First up, I have Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. This is set in Chicago, and features some pretty cool magical alcoholic beverages. (Oh, and there are drink recipes throughout the book too). Honestly I enjoyed this book so much that I would love to see some sort of sequel or a companion novel or something.


Okay, so this image doesn’t even have the whole series on it, but I can’t have an Urban Fantasy recommendations post and not talk about the Iron Druid Chronicles. This series follows 2000 year old Druid Atticus who lives in Arizona because who would think to look for a Druid there? He lives with his Irish Wolfhound named Oberon and I love Oberon so much, because yes, he talks. Anyway, this series is just a fun adventure and there is so much mythology and sort of religion and history all woven in.


Next up, I have to mention the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Yes, I have technically only read the first one so far, but I absolutely loved it. Harry Dresden’s narrative voice is really cool, a little dry and sometimes sarcastic, but it makes the whole experience entertaining. Plus, come on, he’s the only Wizard listed in the Yellow Pages in Chicago, which is just a cool premise.


This next recommendation–the Elemental Assassin series–showcases how you can effectively have an Urban Fantasy read set in a fictional city. Jennifer Estep has created a city that has so much detail that you honestly might just think it is a real place. Now, I will say that I tried to binge-read several of these books in a row, and I do not recommend it. Narrator/protagonist Gin Blanco has a habit of repeating details and specific phrases over and over, so binge-reading only makes that more prevalent. I’d still recommend this series. It has action, elemental magic, and even some romance.


Another fictional city Urban Fantasy, the Prospero’s War series takes place in a city somewhere along the Lake Erie shores in Ohio, so I related to the setting quite a bit. But the magic system is really interesting, and okay, I’ve only read the first book in this series too, but I want to reread it and then continue on. There are four books out so far and I think the rest of the series will be just as outstanding.


Next I have to include Jane Yellowrock, the badass vampire hunting skinwalker. The Jane Yellowrock novels have a strong focus on New Orleans, and based on all the details in the books, it is clear that Faith Hunter knows what she’s talking about, and not just with the setting. This is one of those times where what you see on the cover is what you get, and yes, Jane does ride a motorcycle. As a motorcycle rider myself, I approve.


Finally, I was not trying to make this list even between male writers and female writers, but it somehow turned out that way. Three men, three women, and last but not least a husband and wife writing duo. I picked up the first Kate Daniels book a few years ago and very much enjoyed the concept. I like that there are times where Atlanta is more overrun with magic and normal devices don’t work so well and other times when magic is weaker and normal technology reigns. Those surges make for an interesting setting and I also loved all the different shifters.

Okay, well that does it for today. Next week marks my final recommendation post of 2017 and I’ll be recommending some of my favorite poetry reads.

Oh, also, because of being off work until the beginning of the year, I plan to have my posts most of the way scheduled so I’ll still have content up every day, but I might not be as active with reading and commenting on posts or responding to comments on mine. I will try to pop on here a few times just so I’m not completely swamped at the start of 2018.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Have a Happy New Year!


Recommendations: Nonfiction, Memoir, and Biography

Hey all, Dani here.

I realize that today’s topic is a bit of a mixed bag, but I don’t really read enough of each of these to warrant individual posts for each. Actually, I believe that most of what I am talking about in here is technically memoir, but still. They are all worthwhile reads (Or at least I think they are).

Let’s just get started.


So, actually any of the books featured above would work for this post, but I am specifically talking about Hamilton: The Revolution here. It is the libretto, or the complete lyrics for the musical, but it also includes behind the scenes sections that document the writing and rehearsing process, and I think it is a wonderful read. I would totally recommend Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow as well…but I’m not finished reading it yet. I’m taking my time. I read ten or so pages and then set it aside for a bit. There is a lot of information in the massive tome and I don’t want to risk my eyes just glossing over things because I’m trying to read too much of it at once.


If you thought I could get away with having this post and not mentioning one of my favorite geeky ladies, then you must not have been around this blog for very long. I absolutely love Felicia Day as a person, and reading her memoir was such a geeky inspirational read. Then add to it the fact that I got to meet her during her paperback tour and this book is definitely on the top of my general recommendations list. It just gives me the idea for a future I could have where I get paid to talk about and do the geeky hobbies and activities I love.


This collection of essays by Lauren Graham was such a fun read. And if you prefer audiobooks, Lauren herself reads it. Honestly it might even be more fun that way. While reading it I felt like I was just sitting down and enjoying a meal with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. The whole thing just felt very laid back and conversational. And since Lauren does actually just talk fast, I’ve heard that the audiobook is only a few hours long.


Speaking of fun conversational reads, I also feel like I have to recommend Anna Kendrick’s memoir. Yes, she does a lot of Hollywood name dropping, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like she is bragging about it. Honestly it felt like a friend excitedly recounting some fun story from an adventure she had. Plus, Anna is a pretty funny lady. Oh, and this is another shorter read, so it’s great if you just need something amusing and light.


This book made me laugh so much, mostly because of the artwork depicting the stories. And yet, behind the humor is a serious look at how so many people likely think about themselves and their self-identity. There is also a large section dedicated to depression and coping with it. The blend of reality (with just a touch of hyperbole) and humor is perfect, and I can’t recommend this enough.

Finally, I feel like I can’t complete this list without mentioning some of the books that have helped me with writing.

First, of course, is On Writing by Stephen King. This is part memoir detailing King’s history with writing, editing, rejection, and publication. And honestly, so many people include this in their must read books for authors for a reason. It is absolutely worth a read.

Next I have to include this book put together by Deborah Chester. Her advice on story ideas and writing and editing and the whole publishing process are very straightforward and helpful. Plus, the introduction of this book was written by Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files series. If you write or want to write fantasy books, I’d suggest reading this one.

Finally, a book that is helpful for fantasy and science fiction writers, as well as people running RPGs, I absolutely have to recommend The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding on this list. Yes, this book is a series of essays technically aimed at people designing worlds for games, but as someone who writes fantasy novels, I have to say that the advice contained within this small book is fantastic. It really helped me put together everything I needed for a fantasy world that legitimately felt as if it was real. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to share the world with you all, but for now, I’ll just say that I love how handy this book has been.

Whew…another recommendation post down. I am so glad that you guys are enjoying these posts. If you can think of any other theme or genre ideas for my recommendation posts, let me know. Also, if you have any non-fiction, memoir, or biography recommendations, let me know those in the comments as well.


Recommendations: Contemporary

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to another week of book recommendations. I have to say that this series of posts has been one of my most liked and commented on, so thank you to everyone who has liked, commented, shared, and recommended books in return. I truly appreciate it.

Today’s topic for recommendations is one that I pretty much need to be in the mood for, and that mood usually strikes in early summer and sometimes briefly in winter as well. Most of what I read tends to be fantasy or paranormal, but come on, every once in a while we all just need a contemporary. A lot of the time contemporary reads tend to fall in the cutesy romance or rom-com categories…or at least the ones I pick up and read do. But I have a couple options on here that are a bit more serious.

Let’s get started.

I’ve already talked about Queens of Geek a few times on this blog, but I just enjoyed this book so much. It was fun and relatable for me as it took place during a convention and I have been to quite a few comic-cons the past few years. Plus there were just so many awesome characters excitedly talking about the books, shows, and movies they love, and I think that is always fun to read about.

Speaking of movies, this next one follows two main characters who talk about movies all the time. Alex, Approximately was sort of a modern spin on the movie You’ve Got Mail, and I thought it was absolutely adorable.

Apparently I have a thing for mistaken identity or anonymous exchanges in books. Because Letters to the Lost starts with the characters exchanging letters in a cemetery. They eventually move on to e-mail exchanges but still, I thought it was an interesting story and there will be a sequel/companion novel out in 2018.

Then there is Eliza and Her Monsters, which follows Eliza, the creator of a massively popular web comic. She has many friends online but not so much in her real life. In fact, most people aren’t aware that she is the creator of Monstrous Sea. So things get interesting when the top fan-fiction writer of her series starts going to her school. Again this one features fandom and sort of a secret identity theme, plus deals with the anxiety that creative types feel when it comes to their creations. I loved this book.

Now we have a recent read that I just feel the need to keep talking about. I adored Kat and Meg Conquer the World. The focus on female friendship and fandom was fantastic, plus Kat has anxiety and Meg has ADHD, and we get to see both girls help each other with dealing with those a bit, and supporting each other too.

Okay, so I have another anonymous letter exchange story on here, but it was just so cute. Even when certain plot points were completely obvious, I still really enjoyed this story. P.S. I Like You makes a perfect fast, cute, and fun read.

Next on my list is The Unexpected Everything, and this was such a fast read for being like a 500 page book. It was just so fun and cute, and I loved watching the characters grow. Plus, come on, Clark is adorable and makes an excellent romantic interest for a story.

I had to throw a favorite from my youth in here, but to be fair, I did reread The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in 2016 as well. Yes, compared to some more recent contemporaries, this one might not be on the same level, but I still think this series is a good one. Plus, again, female friendship.

Okay, so now I’m moving into the more serious recommendations. This first one surprised me. I picked up One of Us is Lying because it basically seemed like The Breakfast Club, but with a murder involved. I was quickly sucked into the story and needed to find out what would happen to each of the characters, and I really needed to know whodunnit.

Before I Fall is the one on this list that is kinda farthest from being a contemporary because of the reliving the same day over and over aspect. But, I read this book this year in anticipation of the movie release, and by the end I was so invested in Sam’s life.

This is Where it Ends follows a harrowing 54 minutes in the lives of several students in the moments leading up to and during a school shooting. It was a powerful and haunting read.

In the same vein, I also have to recommend a book I read during my Library Services for Young Adults course in grad school. Hate List not only has flashback scenes to the school shooting and numerous newspaper clippings throughout the book, but it mostly follows the school the next year after the event as people try to heal and forgive and move on. The primary focus of the story is the girlfriend of the shooter, and this is a book that has stuck with me since I read it.

Wow, why did I choose to put the more serious books at the end? It feels like I’m ending this post on a somber note.  Then again, I suppose with the way the world is these days that also makes a certain kind of sense. I appreciate that we have books that focus on issues like racism and sexism and sexuality and mental health and gun safety and all of this. Perhaps the existence of these types of books mean that we are making progress, as small as it might be, towards resolving these issues and creating a better society.

So, are there any contemporary books you’d recommend for me? Let me know in the comments!