Friday, June 24, 2022

Summer 2022 Reads

Well, it's very much summer now. We've passed the solstice, the library reading programs have begun (and I'm delighted that there's an adult version as well as a kid version), and this year's crop of summer reads has started to appear! Realistically, it's anyone's guess how many of these I'll actually read this season (or even this year), but . . . I can be excited anyway? Right? Right.


Summer 2022 Reads

1. The Wolf's Daughter by Kendra E. Ardnek (June 15). This is the first in a new series of short stories Kendra's releasing: fairy tales turned on their heads, with heroes and villains switched. I've already read it, but I wanted to spotlight it because it really is a cool take on the story. I can't say much more about why I like the twist . . . but the title should give you a clue.

2. Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty (June 28). Fantasy mystery! I'll be honest, between the cover and the fact that the blurb is hinting at a love triangle, I'm kinda giving this one a little bit of a side-eye. But on the other hand, I can't resist a good fantasy mystery, so I'll be watching the reviews to see how things look.

3. The Dream Runners by Shveta Thakrar (June 28). I read an excerpt of this on the Tor blog, and it was entrancing, so I'm excited! We've got Indian fantasy, dream magic, an amnesia plotline . . . it definitely has potential to be awesome, and it's a standalone — no getting suckered into a series. (And, of course, the cover is super pretty.)

4. Her Dark Wings by Melinda Salisbury (July 7). It's a modern Hades and Persephone retelling! This particular myth is getting a lot of attention in the last few years, and I've seen some fabulous takes on the story, so this definitely has a lot of potential. It's not at the top of my reading list, but still, potential.


5. Castle and Key by W.R. Gingell (July 15). New Two Monarchies! About Susan! Who is Isabella's sister and is just as prone to mischief and poking her nose into things as Isabella herself, and therefore has all the makings of a new favorite character once I get five pages of her POV. Plus, this is a Bluebeard retelling, which promises a DELIGHTFULLY murdery mystery. I've already preordered the book, and there's very good odds I'll read it the day it comes out.

6. The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope (August 9). It's a Jazz Age historical fantasy, y'all! Not only that, but it's a heist narrative! I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I love a good fantasy heist almost as much as I love a good fantasy mystery, and the particular setting of this one just makes it even better.

7. The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones (August 16). Speaking of heist stories . . . this one involves Welsh mythology, so of course I'm super excited for that. The main character apparently has water-based magic and is trying to bring down the evil prince she used to work for. The blurb hints at fae involvement and also promises, and I quote, "a corgi that may or may not be a spy," so . . . yeah. I'm definitely going to pick this one up!

8. Beguiled by Cyla Panin (August 23). This story is giving me Rumplestiltskin vibes, and that's not a fairy tale you see retold very often, so I'm interested simply because of that. But we've also got elements of Celtic folklore (yesssss), so that's two reasons to keep an eye on this release.

What book releases are you excited for this summer? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


Friday, June 17, 2022

Books I Love to Reread

I was going to start this post by saying that I feel like I've been rereading a lot lately, but then I realized . . . there has never been a time when I didn't reread quite a bit. Because here's the deal: my to-be-read list may be tall enough to reach the International Space Station and weighty enough to bring said space station crashing down to earth, but that will not stop me when I feel like rereading an old favorite. Or, in some cases, an old semi-favorite. Or just a book that's been on my mind lately. But, you know, the mark of a great book is that you can read it over and over again and never love it less, so . . . maybe it just speaks to the quality of the books I've read? There definitely are certain books I tend to come back to more than others or that are just a special treat to reread, and today, I'm spotlighting a few of those.

Books I Love to Reread

  1. The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. This has got to be one of the most rereadable series I know of. If you've read the Queen's Thief book, you know that these are subtle, marvelously plotted stories and that Turner is a master of foreshadowing and perfectly prepared twists. This becomes even more clear on the reread, when you can pick up all kinds of clues you missed the first time around. In fact, I'd argue that you have to reread them at least once for the full experience. This is balanced by the fact that they're just the right length to be easy to pick up and reread — you can get through them fairly quickly without feeling guilty about taking a full month away from your library books and to-be-read list. (Plus, it's physically impossible to not love the characters more every time you read their stories.)
  2. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Speaking of falling in love with characters all over again . . . every time I reread Howl's Moving Castle, I find new reasons to love this story and these characters. That said, the bigger reason why it's on this list is that it's very much a comfort read for me, and it has been from the first. If I'm stressed or upset and need to be very quickly cheered up and pulled out of my troubles, and if whatever I'm currently reading doesn't seem like it'll do the trick for whatever reason (or if I'm not currently reading anything), this is my first choice of what to pick up. Even a few chapters are often enough to get me perked back up, thinking reasonably, and able to deal with whatever has me in a tizzy.
  3. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Of course, LOTR has to make the list! For several years, I did a yearly or bi-yearly reread of this series, usually scheduled around either my birthday or half-birthday (since I read the trilogy for the first time within days of when I turned either twelve or thirteen, if I recall correctly). That dropped off, but I did recently reread these books, and they were just so lovely to come back to — even better than I remembered, since you really do notice new facets of the story each time. The only reason it's not at the top of the list is that the length does make this a bit more of a time commitment than some other books. (Technically, the Queen's Thief series may be longer in total, but each book is a quicker read.)
  4. The All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot (especially the first book). Like Howl, this is very much a comfort read, but of a somewhat different kind. It's a wonderfully steadying, heartwarming in the realest possible sense. I reach for Howl when stress and frustration reach a boiling point, and it makes me laugh and forget my problems for an hour or two. I reach for All Creatures when my world feels uncertain, and it helps me remember that everything will be ok in the end (because, even if Herriot never alludes to God or anything particularly spiritual, many of these stories come out to the lesson of the sparrows). Of course, I don't only pick it up in times of emotional turmoil; it's a lovely read any time I need something comparatively low-stakes and optimistic and sincere and funny.
  5. Entwined by Heather Dixon Wallwork. This is both one of my favorite fairy tale retellings and a Christmas read, thereby giving me two excuses to pick it up over and over again. While I don't tend to notice new things about this story as much as I do other stories on this list, it's always a pleasure to rediscover moments I'd forgotten or reexperience the best bits and to come out of the story feeling immensely cheered and pleased.

Do you like rereading books? What are your favorite books to reread? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 3, 2022

May 2022 Doings!

Hello hello hello! I am, at the moment of writing this, quite tired (for reasons unknown), and as per the usual, I have no idea where this month went. But I shall do my best in this post to figure out the answer to that very question.


  • I spent most of the month doing the first rewrite/edit of Through a Shattered Glass, which went well. This book is on a very extended timeline, which means I get to test different feedback configurations — namely, I had Wyn Owens (a good friend, fellow Arista Challenge author, and beta reader on most of my past books) alpha reading the book. That was super helpful in terms of keeping me motivated and having someone to talk through things with.
  • On a related note, I am looking for beta readers for Through a Shattered Glass. If you're interested, check out my post on it.
  • I also finished the front cover for Through a Shattered Glass! I was originally going to hire someone, but while procrastinating, I managed to find a picture that looked like my main character and fit the vibe, so I messed with it . . . and kept messing with it . . . and almost gave up and went back to the "hire someone" plan . . . and then went back to it one more time and figured out how to make it into something I quite like! So, you know, that's a relief.
  • On the D&D side of things, one of my campaigns didn't get to meet at all this month, but the one I run did get together for one session. The party spent most of the session talking to horses and setting up camp, but we had fun, and not having to worry about writing session material did mean more free time for working on TaSG.


  • Lots of rereads this month! I finished my Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire reread, which I posted about last week. And conversations with Wyn about (A) her WIP and (B) Welsh myth made me decide to reread The Dark King's Curse (even better the second time around! also I love Laisren so much) and the Jackaby series (also delightful; I'm currently about halfway through).
  • In between all that, my copies of Fullmetal Alchemist volumes 5–7 came due at the library, so I hastily read those before I had to return them. I'm still enjoying the series, and I really need to request the next several! (I'm also thinking of watching the show, though I need to figure out where/how to do that.)
  • And we have a couple miscellaneous reads. Dawnsong is a novella by Bryn Shutt, and it was fairly enjoyable. I'll probably pick up the rest of the series when it releases, as I'm curious about the characters. Stolen Midsummer Bride is a Midsummer Night's Dream retelling by Tara Grayce, and I was pretty excited about it . . . and then pretty disappointed in how it turned out. I didn't vibe with the characters and wasn't impressed with the author's treatment of fae. It wasn't bad? It just also really wasn't great. It's possible other people would like it more, though — romantic fantasy is not my primary subgenre!


  • So, I have more or less given up on Critical Role Campaign 3 for the moment and gone back to Campaign 2 — I miss Caleb and Jester and Fjord, and I don't have the same attachment to the new crew. I managed to get through C2 Episode 66 and halfway through Episode 67 — I've been looking forward to 67 for a while for several reasons. While I still don't love Reani, and I'll be glad when she's gone, it's nice to be back with the rest of the Mighty Nein.
  • Otherwise, I really haven't watched anything this month. Not really surprising.


  • Honestly, this has been a fun month, but also a very busy one — we've had something going on pretty much every weekend.
  • It started with two things I'd been looking forward to for a while: my sister getting home from college and our Bible study's retreat at White Sulphur Springs. Those actually happened at the same time — which is to say, my parents went straight from Ohio (where they were retrieving my sister) to WSS, where I met them after driving up on my own on Friday.
  • The retreat went quite well on the whole. It was nice to have some time to relax and time to spend with friends, though some of the other study families had to back out at the last minute. We spent a good bit of Saturday playing card and board games, which was delightful. And, of course, the food at WSS is pretty much always delicious.
  • The next weekend would've been fairly quiet . . . except that my sister and I found out that there was going to be a Viking Festival about twenty minutes from our house, and obviously we had to go check it out. As it turns out, "Viking Festival" translates as "very specifically themed mini Renaissance Festival," so we got to see a replica Viking longship, hear some Celtic music, and browse the various vendors. I may have spent a little more than I intended at those vendors . . . but the items I bought were all either practical (a new hairstick that will work a little better for the current state of my hair) or things I needed for Realm Makers cosplay, so it's fine.
  • The weekend after that was a little bit quieter, thankfully. But we did still have some excitement in the form of a cheese-and-board games party with a friend — I had bought a bunch of slightly fancy cheese (which is to say, not regular grocery store block cheeses) for a photograph earlier in the week, and I needed help to eat them. Whether or not the photograph was 50% an excuse to buy cheese remains a mystery . . . but the cheese was tasty, the games were fun, and some of my D&D group joined the final game of the evening via video chat, so it was a good time all round.
  • And that brings us up to Memorial Day weekend, when my family decided to go visit my grandpa. We'd originally planned to visit around Father's Day, but since that would have to be such a short trip, we decided to go up for the long weekend.

  • In between all this, I've been doing some crafting — not as much as intended because of all the other stuff, but still. To be specific, I attempted to make a flowy-sleeved top, which failed because I forgot to multiply the central measurement by two, and gave embroidery a whirl, which I consider to have been a success. I've done two samplers so far, one of which is shown above, covering most (if not all) of the major stitches, and I'm genuinely enjoying it! It also goes much faster than I expected, which is the opposite of most of the handcrafts I try, so, y'know, that's nice.
  • Work has been going about as usual — this is a quieter season, after the chaos of Lent and Easter but before summer programming starts up. (Also, big projects keep getting delayed because we had several weeks of either one pastor or the other being out of the office.) I did successfully update my how-to-do-my-job documentation, and I printed out a copy to keep at my desk, so if anything ever comes out where I have to be out on short notice, it'll be easier for someone else to temporarily pick up the essential tasks. (Not that I anticipate that happening . . . but after being out for most of a month last year, I don't want to take any risks.)
  • Oh, and I have finally embarked on a project that I've been intending to start for ages, which is revamping the playlists on my main music streaming app so they reflect my current taste in music and are a little more tailored than just dumping every album that's sort of a particular mood or genre onto a particular list.

June Plans

  • I expect that June will be a quieter month than May, but I really don't know.
  • My main writing goals for this month are to get Through a Shattered Glass out to beta readers (info here if you want to know more) and to start drafting the fourth Bastian Dennel, PI book. I've been looking into this installment in the BDPI cases for a fair while, and I'm excited to write it — I can't say too much yet, but it's going to be a murder mystery, and Bastian and Kona will be the main POV characters again.
  • I also plan to keep working on cosplay and other crafting projects. I want to retry the flowy-sleeved shirt with different fabric (and with correct measurements), plus I have a medieval-ish overdress and some props to make. I also need to find a purple dress with pockets somewhere, which is proving more difficult than anticipated. I need everything done in time for Realm Makers in June, so not much time to waste!
  • On the reading front, I don't really have many plans. I have some rereads that I want to continue (namely Jackaby and Legends of Karac Tor — and, ideally, The Great Hunt), and I need to read The Shepherd's Crown so I can officially finish with the Discworld series. But I don't have any ARCs at the moment, so mostly I can just mood read without guilt or pressure.
  • Otherwise . . . I don't think I have much planned? Yeah. Hopefully, it'll be a peaceful month.

How was your May? Any exciting plans for June? Have you done any fun rereads lately? How do you feel about sewing and embroidery? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Want to Beta Read Through a Shattered Glass?

If there's one thing you absolutely have to do before you publish a book . . . well, you can't pick just one. But among the most essential items on the list is making sure that there are other eyes besides yours on your book. Making sure your story gets in front of people who will read it and point out what works and what needs to be better.

I've been blessed with a great team of beta readers who I love dearly. However, general life stuff on both my end and theirs means that some slots on the team are opening up. So, I have a question for y'all . . .

Do you want to beta-read Through a Shattered Glass?

Through a Shattered Glass is a dark-ish portal fantasy remix of The Snow Queen with Alice in Wonderland/Alice Through the Lookingglass. It's about 30,000 words long. I'll send out the Word Doc, probably via email, on June 7, and I would need comments back by July 9.

What kind of comments? In general, I'm looking for suggestions of how to make the story better that don't start with "So, you'd have to totally rewrite the story to implement this, but . . ." More specifically, I'm looking for the following:

  • Feedback on both technical and stylistic elements of the actual writing (aka, "did I use words the right way?" and "does this sound good?").
  • Thoughts on elements (character choices, worldbuilding, plot progression) that may need to be clarified or areas where the themes of the story could be strengthened. 
  • General reactions to the story, characters, and writing.

If you're interested, click here to sign up. I would prefer it if you've read at least one of my previous books so you have an idea of my usual style, but it's not a requirement — especially since, if you read this blog, you probably already know something about my writing.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop those in the comments.

Thanks in advance for your help making Through a Shattered Glass the best it can be!