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A Backlist Fantasy That’s Still Timely

Most books from the ’90s can come across as rather, well, dated. But this book covers issues that are timely even today.

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Hello, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful and restful spring break. 🙂

Today I’m reviewing a book that’s been available for a couple of decades. And unlike most of my other reviews, this is a traditionally published book by a well-known author— Terry Pratchett.

So, which of his many books am I referring to? None other than Jingo.

Like other books in the vast Discworld Series, Jingo is packed with fabulous puns. And it features many of the Night Watch characters you may already know and love.

You might be thinking, okay… so what?

What makes this book so timely?

In a word? Islamomisia. (By the way, this post is a great primer on why to use -misia instead of -phobia.)

In this story, the British coded citizens of Ankh-Morpork are pitted against the Middle Eastern Islamic coded citizens of Klatch.

This book has mystery, murder, and politics with a big helping of humor. But it also points out the inherent inanity of racism. And it takes a healthy stab at sexism, too. Click To Tweet

If you have yet to read any books in the Discworld series, I can’t recommend them enough. Terry Pratchett was a brilliant author. And the world lost him much too soon.

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Family-friendly Book for a Good Cause

The Perfect Children's book for Easter.

Before I get to today’s book, let me tell you a little story.

This past St. Patrick’s day, U.S. vice president Mike Pence visited my old stomping grounds: Savannah, Georgia. You see, Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick’s day parade in the entire nation. However, residents were none too thrilled at having the anti-gay politician dampen their fun. Ordinary items and longtime staples of parade-watching like water bottles, backpacks, coolers, and folding chairs were all banned. Luckily, rainbow flags were not. Every single photograph taken of Pence during the significantly less festive festivities includes at least one rainbow flag in the background. And I’ve never been more proud.

Politics aside, Pence is debuting a new children’s book about his pet rabbit Marlon Bundo. But we’re not going to talk about that book. Because…

The Perfect Children's book for Easter.

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John Oliver released a Marlon Bundo book that is even better.

Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is a beautiful, family-friendly love story about two bunnies who happen to be gay. It’s written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller. The illustrations are delightful, and the audiobook narrators are illustrious:

  • RuPaul
  • Jack McBrayer
  • John Lithgow
  • Ellie Kemper
  • Jeff Garlin
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson
  • Jim Parson

Plus, proceeds from the book sales support The Noah Project and AIDS United; both of these are charities which are dedicated to helping the gay community.

So, do your family a favor. Give the gift of love, knowledge, and acceptance. And, did I mention this would be a huge snub to Pence?

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Your Biggest, Most Annoying Punctuation Questions: Solved

Although seemingly banal, punctuation can be a contentious subject.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Writing is something that comes easily to many of us here in the digital age. In fact, sometimes it feels like you know everything you need to know about it. I mean, you do it every day, right? A tweet here, a text there. We create a flood of text every day. And everyone knows that lists should be written like this, this, and this.

Or should lists be written like this, this and this?

Did you notice the difference? The first example has two commas in the list; the second one is called the Oxford comma. And some people have very strong opinions on whether or not the Oxford comma is “correct.”

Or should I have said ‘correct’?

Both versions are right in separate contexts. And this is part of what makes grammar so enticing— and frustrating. In the writing world, there is no single standard that applies to all situations. Some factors that can influence your punctuation include: which continent you’re writing for, which type of content you’re producing (news, academic, or fiction), and whichever style preferences you may have. For example, I love the Oxford comma.

In a world where rules are so fluid, it can be difficult to make sense of it all. But today’s book does a beautiful job of answering some of the most difficult punctuation questions. Where do commas go? Where do quotation marks go? And what does a semicolon do?

Punctuation Book to the Rescue!

This brings me to The Best Punctuation Book, Period. Written by editor and grammar columnist, June Casagrande, this book delves into complex punctuation issues in a clear, and easy to understand manner. Each chapter focuses on a different type of punctuation with sections devoted to common questions. Each section has an example of what to expect in each of the three styles (news, book, and academic). And she also put together a panel of grammar experts who answer tricky punctuation questions that aren’t addressed in grammar stylebooks like CMOS and AP. There’s also a thorough index in the back so you can jump to exactly what you’re looking for.

I can’t recommend this book enough. As someone who was never fond of grammar in school, this book lays everything out in clean, simple language. If you want to improve your writing or editing skills, this punctuation book is a must-have.

PS: Do you have a tough time writing business letters or cover letters? Read this post for a breakdown of formal letter-writing format as well as links to additional resources.

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Meet These American Literary Figures in a Way You Never Have Before

Person walking up an old wooden staircase.

Well-dressed person walking up an old wooden staircase.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

The United States in the 19th century was a very different place than it is today. Though we still experience divides along class and gender lines, expected societal behaviors were far more prescripted, restrictive, and, well, stoic back then. There was a strong sense of things that were and were not done (unlike today’s modern U.S. political arena *cough* *cough*).

Today’s book is historical fiction that takes a peek into the lives of some of the well-to-do, the American elite, and important figures in literary history. So, let’s dive in.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.


Dearest David, by Glen Ebisch, is a delightful read. The characters use modernized language that flows nicely without, in my opinion, becoming a distraction. The story follows a young, working-class woman who becomes a servant in the Emerson household. Along the way, several other notable American literary figures are inserted into the mix. At its heart, the novel is a love story. However, this book doesn’t follow the standard romance formula. If you’re fond of historical romances, you should really know this before reading because you may otherwise be disappointed.

If you’re an American literary history buff, don’t expect everything in this narrative to be 100% accurate. The main character doesn’t have a real-life counterpart, although most of the other characters in the book were real people. Also, several aspects of the timeline were shuffled around to fit the narrative tension. All of this is clearly explained in the backmatter, though, along with how and when events really transpired.

PS: Want to read a queer historical romance set in America after World War II? Click here.

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A Book that Tamed the Ultimate Bad Boy

Bride holding a bouquet

Bride holding a bouquet

Photo by Orio Nguyen on Unsplash

Today’s book contains graphic language and several sex scenes and sexual references. If this is something you’d rather avoid in a book, absolutely no judgment here. Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll catch you next week. 🙂

Marriage isn't Always All it's Cracked Up to Be: a book review.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.


When I Let You Go, by Lily Foster is the sixth book in her Let Me series. If you’ve read this blog any amount of time, you probably already know that I rarely read a series in order. But this series focuses on a small group of upper-class families through at least a couple of generations, so there is a rich history that unfolds from one book to the next. However, for people who read out of order, like me, this novel is fairly easy to follow— although the shift from the prologue to the first chapter was a bit disorienting (to me) at first.

This is THE book to read if you want to follow a character that you’ll love to hate. Dylan is a middle-aged husband with a frat-boy soul. The outright misogyny that leaks off the page from his point of view is horrifying, but (unfortunately) realistic. His character arc, alone, is worth the read. But the book also features a romance between two characters with a huge age gap between them. And this brings up a lot of super weird and uncomfortable moments in the book that are simply beautifully written. Though you may not quite care for the characters at first, you will probably find yourself rooting for them in the end. The pacing and interleaving of points of view are so masterfully done, that I swallowed this whole book in a night. That is incredibly rare for me and goes to show just how skilled Lily Foster’s writing ability really is.

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A Quick Read with a Big Concept

solar eclipse

Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

Today’s book does a great job of packing a lot of story into a small package. If you enjoy Sci-Fi, you’ll want to stick around for this:


If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Lonely Phoenix, by Stephen L. Thompson, is a philosophical exploration of life in space. But rather than focus on well-worn tropes like intergalactic wars, alien viruses, and hostile living conditions, this story does something completely different— vampires. Or one vampire. But before you run away with images of blood-drenched teeth and lustful teenagers, this is nothing like Twilight. Instead, the characters tackle the burden of long life and the loneliness inherent in being one of a kind (at least on the ship).

Though some scenes (especially with women) feel a little stiff, the concept is intriguing. In fact, by the time I reached the end of the book, I found myself wishing there were more. This is a book that could easily be stretched into a series, trilogy, or simply lengthened. A great read when you’re looking for something quick to top up your Goodreads Reading Challenge.

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Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine’s Day

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, these romance reads will sweep you off your feet. Just in time for the sweetest day of the year: Valentine’s Day.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's DayPhoto by Leonardo Wong on Unsplash

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What’s better than getting gobs of chocolate and a night out on the town with the one you love? Snuggling up in bed with a feel-good book. (Is my introvert showing?)

Ah, romance. Where happily ever afters are real, and love almost always finds a way.

In keeping with the sticky, syrupy sweetness of this holiday, here are some reads that will make you feel all warm inside.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day

Desperate Duchesses Series by Eloisa James

This series contains 9 books as of this posting. I’ve only read 2-4 and 7 at this point, so those are the ones I’m recommending. Because I never read books in order. Ever.

Beginning in the 18th century and moving into the Regency period, these books focus on British aristocratic romance. If you’re fond of historical romance but need a breather on the Victorian era, try this series.

The Rules of Scoundrels Series by Sarah MacLean

And here’s another historical romance series set during the Regency period. It’s only 4 books long, and I’ve read all of them. (Not in order, of course. I began with number 4.) What I love most about this series is how it focuses on redemption and justice in addition to the romance.

The First Freak House Trilogy by C.J. Archer

If you prefer your romance a little more on the supernatural side, this is a fantastic series. Set in Victorian England, this is a nice, clean romance. With plenty of fire and magic.

 

Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. Archer

I’ve only read the first book in this series, but it was pretty compelling. It’s also set in Victorian England, and the heroine talks to dead people. As in ghosts.

 

 

 

The Bradens at Trusty, CO Series by Melissa Foster

If you’re in the mood for a modern romance firmly set in reality, this is a good place to start. I’ve only read one book in this series, but it’s fairly memorable.

 

 

 

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

If you enjoy romantic poetry, it doesn’t get much better than Neruda. Especially when read in the original Spanish.

 

 

 

Juliana Series by Vanda

Set in the U.S. starting in World War II, this series currently has 2 books. I’ve only read the second book, but it contains some of the most historically accurate and well-rounded depictions of queer romance I’ve ever read. If I had to choose my favorite book from this entire post, Olympus Nights in the Square would be it. Definitely an LGBTQ+ romance series to follow.

 

 

 

 

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Romance Authors You Should Read this Valentine’s Day

Here are a couple romance authors who should go on your V Day reading list.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Melissa Foster

Athena Wright

Hard Rock Tease

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One Character’s Lucky Break

One Character's Lucky Break

Well, that was lucky.

One Character's Lucky Break

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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Okay, I have a confession. I don’t know how to play poker. And I’ve only played the lottery once. Even then, I only did it to give back to the student scholarship it funded. So, gambling isn’t really in my wheelhouse.

But this character could play poker in her sleep. And win.

She is one lucky ducky. Or is she?

 

One Character's Lucky Break

Ella Hote is a graduate student on the verge of earning her master’s degree in quantum physics. And her final project, a quantum computer, is nearly complete when the story opens. But she unwittingly stumbles upon more than she was bargaining for. After a series of lucky coincidences and terrible accidents, Ella realizes that some things don’t add up.

Does luck really exist? And if so, will anybody believe her?

Conservation of Luck, by Lesley L. Smith, is a first-person sci-fi novel that touches on quantum physics, relationships, personal responsibility, and addiction. Though not always likable, Ella is a compelling character. She wrestles with the implications of her discovery rather than choose a side (selfish or altruistic) right away. And she’s often oblivious to the lies she tells herself, both about love and addiction. It’s an incredibly realistic portrayal of an all too common problem.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Paperback: 335 pages

PS: Want to read another book by the same author? Read this review.

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Favorite Books from My Childhood

Child sitting on a bed reading a copy of The Lord of the Rings.

The stories you read in childhood can stay with you for a lifetime.

Child sitting on a bed reading a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Today I wanted to share some books that shaped me both as a person and a writer. I was always an awkward child (as I’m sure some of you might be able to relate), but it’s something I’ve grown to love about myself (and you should, too. 🙂 ). And though I read pretty much all over the place in my childhood, three genres enticed me the most: fantasy, mystery, and horror. (I blame the horror bit on the fact that my birthday’s so close to Halloween.)

Now, decades later, I continue to find myself circling these genres again and again, with a little science fiction thrown in for flavor. Here’s a list of some of my absolute favorite middle grade books from childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

1. At the Back of the North Wind

2. The Chronicles of Narnia

3. The Dragonriders of Pern

4. Encyclopedia Brown

5. Nancy Drew

6. Sherlock Holmes

7. Poems and Tales of Edgar Allen Poe

8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

9. Goosebumps

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