36 Books for Kids
Grab Bag

36 Books for Kids Under $25

Give your child a head start in life. Teach them to read.

36 Books for Kids

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Humans have told stories for hundreds of thousands of years. And they have a powerful influence on our everyday lives. You want the best for your child, so giving them the gift of literacy is a no-brainer. Here are some books that can help your child on their journey to fluent reading.

(Click the arrow on the right-hand side of the 4th row to see more.)

stunning
Grab Bag

10 Stunning Red Book Covers

Well, these books are simply stunning.

stunning
Have you ever tried to arrange your books by color? Rainbow shelves are all the rage these days and lots of fun to look at. But ordering books by color can present its own problems, as I recently discovered. Spines rarely feature one color. And what about spines with large text? Do you sort by the color of the text or the spine?

As you can probably tell, I attempted to create my own rainbow shelves. And the result?

rainbow

Well, it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly prettier than it was before. This week’s post is one of several focusing on book cover colors. While I can’t promise that the spines will be red, I can promise the covers are absolutely stunning.

And before I begin, there are affiliate links after this point. So, if you see a lovely book that you decide to purchase, I will receive a small commission. (Yay, thank you!) There isn’t any cost to you at all. Plus, you’ll have one more beautiful book for your growing collection. Win-win. Without any further ado, let’s dive in.

Stunning Red Book Covers

1. Sisters Red

This cover stimulates the eyes and the mind. First, the stunning use of red and black negative space creates two opposing figures. And then there’s the wolf. This cover is bold and brilliant.

2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


And this cover has a nostalgic appeal. (Also, I’m partial to dragons as you may have noticed.) The banners and border flourishes on this cover also add a nice touch.

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1


An oldy but goody. The bright red background with the alternating darker stripes on the spine is certainly stunning. And the 3-D effect of the note “taped” to the front is well done.

4. The Book of Blood: From Legends and Leeches to Vampires and Veins


First of all, the font on this cover is perfectly suited to the spookiness of its subject matter. But the stark contrast between the abundance of white space and the bright red blood dripping down from the top of the cover is definitely eye-catching.

5. Through the Woods


This stunning cover makes excellent use of negative space. And the limited color palette draws the eyes straight to the title. Excellent use of red as a highlighter.

6. A Court of Thorns and Roses


The background’s vibrant hue brings the focus to the center of this book cover. And the thorny vines sprouting from the title add a nice touch.

7. Me Before You: A Novel


Another great example of how well black, white, and red work together. The font is fluid but easy to ready. And the red background really adds a visual punch.

8. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel


This cover begs so many questions. Why is the skeleton wearing an elf hat? I love the snow settled onto each letter of the title. The subtle gradient on the red background makes it feel like there’s a gentle spotlight on the title.

9. Scarlet


And here is a red-centric cover with a slightly wider color range. The red cloth’s fluid lines are striking and guide the eye from the title to the figure who is out of frame. This is a book that begs to be opened.

10. Scythe


This last cover makes great use of negative space to create the figure’s face. And the interplay between black, red, and cream creates an entirely different feel. Simply stunning.


What did you think of this list? Which covers did you love? Were there any that you disliked? Let me know in the comments below!

Want to see more stunning book covers? Check out this post.

Book Reviews

Steam Punk Novella Recommendation

A secret project, a world shrouded in cloud, and a break for freedom.

Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

Balfair’s Confinement, by Phil Williams, is a return to the world of Estalia (which I covered in an earlier review). Told mostly from the viewpoint of an engineer’s slave, this novella is rife with suspense.

Deni has spent most of her life in captivity and isolation, serving at the whim of an engineer who constantly threatens her with expulsion back to “the tattooed man.” Entirely surrounded by controlling and manipulative men, Deni struggles to find her voice and complete grueling tasks around the abandoned mansion.

But when the engineer and his assistant start to shroud their latest project in secrecy, Deni sees her chance. Can she figure out a way to use this knowledge to her advantage and set herself free?

The results may be devastating, but they will notice her at last – and she will be free.

~excerpt from the official Amazon blurb

If you enjoy mystery/suspense novellas with a steam punk setting, this is the book for you.

Content Warning Note: Deni experiences various forms of abuse which may be severely triggering to some readers. Some of these include scenes of gaslighting, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

More by Phil Williams

Goodreads: 4 Other Books

Website: Phil Williams

Twitter: @fantasticphil

Facebook: Phil Williams Author

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there a particular book or genre you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below.


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear · Dragon God

I love books.
Book Reviews

YA Fantasy Book Recommendation

A kingdom divided, magic-wielding monks, and a whole lot of dragons.

Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

Dragon God, by Ava Richardson, is a magical journey reminiscent of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. The story opens with Neill Torvald, the illegitimate son of a powerful warlord. Neill has been sent to a monastery of the Draconis Order as a student and a spy. Can he discover the source of the monks’ magical power, and do they really control dragons?

His peers at the monastery come from across the three kingdoms. One of his fellow students, Char, is the illegitimate daughter of a prince. She introduces him to Paxala, a dragon she’s secretly raised outside the monastery walls.

But when Niell’s brothers grow impatient and attack the monastery in a bid to seize power, he will have to decide where his loyalties lie: with his warlord father’s domain, or the new friends he has made in the wider world.

~Excerpt from the official Amazon blurb

If you love magic and a good dragon book, this is the novel for you.

Content Warning Note: The world of the book contains a race which is named after a racial slur for the Romani peoples and also contains negative stereotypes. Neill’s mother belonged to this race, and he endures a great deal of racism from teachers, peers, and half-siblings alike. For more information on why Roma and Romani are more appropriate terms than the widely used “g*psy” word, please read here.

More by Ava Richardson

Website: Ava Richardson Books

Goodreads: 17 books

Facebook: Ava Richardson Books

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there a particular book or genre you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time I’m…

Wishing you the best,

Ditrie Marie Bowie


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear


Image of Ditrie Marie Bowie

Ditrie Marie Bowie (née Sanchez) is a Puerto Rican in British Columbia, Canada who writes fiction. She is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and co-editor of Strange Stories to Tell in the Park. Bowie is also the creator of the webcomic, This Writer Can’t Draw. A classically trained pianist and former educator, she has lived in three different countries spanning two continents. And she met her spouse in a video game.


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I love books.
Book Reviews

Humor Book Rec

A kidnapping, sentient sweets, and a complete absence of the fourth wall.


Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

The Adventures of Technicality Man, by Jessica Meats, is a light-hearted take on traditional superhero tropes. If you enjoy comical villains, zany super powers, and a good underdog story, this is the book for you.

In this novel, the entire story universe is controlled by cats, which makes absolute sense if you’ve ever met a cat in real life. But when a villain gets it in his head to truly rule the world, the cats mysteriously begin to disappear.

  • Where have all the cats gone?
  • Who is behind all the mayhem?
  • Will Technicality Man and his superhero group COMPSCI put things right?
  • Will storylines ever be the same?

Technicality Man and his trusty companion Continuity Leopard must join forces with a group of minor heroes to save the day. They won’t let any barrier stop them. Not even the fourth wall.

~Excerpt from the official Amazon blurb

This is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys geeky humor, puns, and obscure (as well as not-so-obscure) pop culture references.

More by Jessica Meats

Amazon Author Page: Jessica Meats

Goodreads: Jessica Meats

Website: Plot Twister

Facebook: Jessica Meats

Twitter: @jessicameats

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there a particular book or genre you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time I’m…

Wishing you the best,

Ditrie Marie Bowie


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg


Image of Ditrie Marie Bowie

Ditrie Marie Bowie (née Sanchez) is a Puerto Rican in British Columbia, Canada who writes fiction. She is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and co-editor of Strange Stories to Tell in the Park. Bowie is also the creator of the webcomic, This Writer Can’t Draw. A classically trained pianist and former educator, she has lived in three different countries spanning two continents. And she met her spouse in a video game.


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LP QUEST

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I’m counting on you.


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I love books.
Book Reviews

British Mystery Book Rec

An unfortunate accident, a mystery woman, and loads of cash


Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

A bit shorter than my usual recommendations, After Jessica is a mystery novella by Morgen Bailey. This ebook is the perfect quick fix for anyone who loves British English and slang.

The novella quickly rotates through a cast of characters whose fates become increasingly intertwined as the story progresses. However, the main character in this story is Jessica’s brother, Simon. After Jessica dies, we follow Simon through the grieving process as he sorts through post-mortem necessities like dealing with the police, contacting loved ones, and making funeral arrangements. But when he starts cleaning out her home, he discovers evidence of another woman, named Alexis. Unfortunately, the mystery woman is nowhere to be found.

Who is Alexis, and why are Veronica and Daniel searching for her? Why is there a roll of cash in Jessica’s house, and what’s the connection between his sister and Alexis?

~Excerpt from official Amazon book blurb

Though to the discerned mystery lover, some parts of the novella may seem a bit predictable, there is an impactful twist ending that begs a sequel. Bailey’s prose utilizes quick pacing and fine detail. This is a lovely little read for an idle afternoon.

More by Morgen Bailey

Goodreads: Many more books

Website: MorgEn Bailey (The first E is capitalized on purpose.)

Twitter: @morgenwriteruk

Pinterest: Morgen Bailey

Instagram: Morgen with an E

Facebook: Morgen Bailey

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there a particular book or genre you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time I’m…

Wishing you the best,

Ditrie Marie Bowie


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled


Photograph of Ditrie Marie BowieDitrie Marie Bowie (née Sanchez) is a Puerto Rican in British Columbia, Canada who writes fiction. She is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and co-editor of Strange Stories to Tell in the Park. Bowie is also the creator of the webcomic, This Writer Can’t Draw. A classically trained pianist and former educator, she has lived in three different countries spanning two continents. And she met her spouse in a video game.


Got what it takes to top the leader boards?

LP QUEST

Image of an old fashioned arcade machine.

I’m counting on you.


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This Writer Can't Draw

Mark Your Place

 

Comic. Panel one. How you're supposed to mark your place. There is a book with a bookmark in it. Panel two. Versus how I mark my place. There is a book with a dog-eared page and a bookmark in it. End of comic.
I have a system.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please come again soon! *waves*

Wishing you the best,

Ditrie Marie Bowie


Photograph of Ditrie Marie BowieDitrie Marie Bowie (née Sanchez) is a Puerto Rican in British Columbia, Canada who writes fiction. She is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and co-editor of Strange Stories to Tell in the Park. Bowie is also the creator of the webcomic, This Writer Can’t Draw. A classically trained pianist and former educator, she has lived in three different countries spanning two continents. And she met her spouse in a video game.


Did You Miss Some Comics?

Cheesy Writing Montage  · Things I Do While Writing  · Bookworm Problems  · How to Words  · Changing Perspective  · Focused · The Dream · Writing Workshop · Squirrel! · Spelling · Reading Time · The Writer Life


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Book Rec, Book Reviews

Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Book Rec

A mysterious calamity, an island of survivors, manipulation, intrigue, and a centuries old secret that could kill them all.


Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

The Dead Room, by Stephanie Erickson, is a gripping dystopian novel set on an unnamed island in the Northern Pacific 322 years after an apocalypse.

The islanders know little of what happened to wipe out most of the human population, but their leaders, the nine elders, teach that the islanders are the final remnants of humanity.

The elders aren’t just leaders, though, they are also privy to secrets passed down for generations.

And Ashley Wortham doesn’t trust them.

Not one bit.

“No one knows what claimed so many lives over three centuries ago, and no one asks, except Ashley Wortham. She can feel the secrets all around her, begging to be uncovered.”

~excerpt from official Amazon book blurb

Ashley and her best friend, Mason, embark on an adventure that keeps the elders on their toes and poses as many questions as it answers.

  • What do the elders do with bodies after a funeral?
  • Are the islanders really the last people on Earth?
  • What caused the apocalypse?
  • Why is Ashley the only person asking questions?
  • Can any of the elders be trusted?
  • Will Ashley and Mason survive the elders’ wrath?

The Dead Room is the first book in a trilogy, and was published in 2015. It ends with a devastating cliffhanger that will have you immediately lunging for book two. The sequel, The Dead World, was released in 2016. The third book has yet to be released.

Spoiler Free, Guaranteed

Written in deep third person, the narrative opens with Ashley Wortham as she comes to terms with a horrific incident that has changed her status on the island. It is here that we learn the social hierarchy constructed by the first elders to preserve peace (or maintain power) and to ensure the propagation of the human race. Marriages are carefully arranged to avoid inbreeding, duties and partners are assigned at the will of the elders, and rumors abound of the harsh punishment meted out to those who dare defy the status quo.

But as the story presses onward, the POV shifts to highlight Mason and several of the elders on the island. It soon becomes clear that the elders are more nuanced and complex than they initially appear. Perhaps they know more about the apocalypse than they are letting on.

But when Ashley, and her best friend Mason, go down the rabbit hole, no one is prepared for the truths they uncover. What will they do when they discover the downfall of humanity lies within their own island, deep inside the dead room?

~excerpt from official Amazon book blurb

Content Warning Note: If you are triggered by mention of domestic abuse, this may not be the book for you.

The islanders are procreation-focused out of necessity and operate on a cisgender binary, hetero normative, forced marriage system, but Erickson does a beautiful job demonstrating that this often produces disgruntled, unhappy families.

There is also a clear caste system set in place based on an individual’s ability to contribute to society, but people who overproduce in their assigned duties are labeled show-offs and shunned. Not only that, but at one point Mason calls Ashley out on using ableist language as a way to insult him.

More by Stephanie Erickson

Goodreads: 2 other series

Website: Stephanie Erickson Books

Twitter: @sm_erickson

Facebook: Stephanie Erickson

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there a particular book or genre you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time I’m…

Wishing you the best,

Ditrie Marie Bowie


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion


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Book Rec, Book Reviews

Medical Thriller Book Rec

Rabid chimpanzees, a raging drug war, a needle-phobic scientist, and a resort-like hospital with a dangerous secret.


Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

Reversion, by Amy Rogers, is a science-based medical thriller that is not for the queasy of stomach nor the faint of heart. If you’re searching for a book with cover to cover action by a woman author who’s devoted to including real science into her work, this is the book for you. Set in southwestern Mexico, this novel features a mysterious and deadly illness much like in Michael Crichton’s book, The Andromeda Strain. Except the disease featured in Reversion is based on a real virus (rabies) and an actual biological occurrence: genetic reversion (hence the title of the book). This near-true-to-life aspect of the novel makes the plot even more compelling.

There are several tantalizing questions that drive the suspense.

  • Can the revolutionary treatment devised by the main character, Dr. Tessa Price, save seven-year-old Gunnar’s life or will his genetic disorder win in the end?
  • Trapped in the hospital, will Tessa, Gunnar, and their companions survive the battle between two rival drug cartels?
  • What is causing the rapid spread of the mysterious, rabies-like illness, and can the disease be stopped before it’s too late?

Spoiler Free, Guaranteed

The story revolves around Palacio Centro Medico, a fictitious and profoundly isolated medical facility which caters to wealthy tourists. The hospital is located on a peninsula near Acapulco, but rather than have staff and patients approach the facility by way of gang-infested roads, the hospital requires all visitors to arrive by air.

Dr. Price arrives at Palacio by helicopter, eager to check on the progress of Gunnar’s treatment. (Note: Dr. Price is not introduced until the second chapter. The book opens with Cristo, a member of Palacio’s research staff, on an errand that sets the whole tone for the novel. However, the events of the first chapter aren’t mentioned in the official book blurb, and I’ve opted here to eschew the details.)

Over the course of the book, Rogers reveals Dr. Tessa Price’s motivations to cure Gunnar’s illness: Tessa lost her infant son, Benjamin, to a genetic disorder. It’s this passion and haunting guilt that pushes Tessa to have her new rabies-based treatment smuggled into Mexico when she was denied testing approval in the U.S. The fact that Tessa and her colleagues can treat Gunnar at Palacio Centro Medico says something about the facility’s dubious relationship with ethics– and the law.

When the hospital is taken over by a brutal drug cartel, Tessa hides with a remarkable trio of Palacio clients—rich Texan Lyle Simmons, his much-younger Brazilian girlfriend, and his protection dog, a German shepherd named Dixie—only to learn that the gangsters aren’t the only deadly threat they face. A rabies-like infection that began in the Palacio’s research chimpanzees has spread to humans. Tessa investigates and finds a shocking connection to her gene therapy experiment. In the wake of this discovery, Tessa must weigh the value of one human life against another—including her own.

~excerpt from official Amazon book blurb

Content Warning Note: As stated before, if you can’t handle or dislike graphic violence and clinical details, this is not the book for you. If you are sensitive to ableist words and phrases, particularly in regards to mental illness and nuerodivergence, you may want to skip this book, as well. There is at least one instance of the “c” word (in an ableist context, not the female body part context). As mentioned in an earlier post, there is a lot of harmful, systematic crud that’s baked into our language and idioms. Highlighting the problem is not meant as an attack but as a gentle prod toward awareness for readers and writers alike (myself included).

Amy Rogers has a beautiful, clean writing style with close attention to detail and pacing. There’s a large cast of ethnically diverse characters, and it’s obvious she has put a great deal of research and care into her writing. If you are a science-minded person hankering for a good piece of fiction with scientific details that won’t make you cringe, then this is the book you’ve been waiting for. Better yet? As of this post, you can download it on Kindle absolutely free.

More By Amy Rogers

Amazon: Petroplague Teacher’s Guide 

Goodreads: 2 novels

Website: AmyRogers.com

Twitter: @ScienceThriller

Facebook: @ScienceThrillers

Publishing Company: Science Thrillers Media

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there a particular book or genre you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time I’m…

Wishing you the best,

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Book Rec, Book Reviews

Fantasy Book Rec

Dragons, gods, demons, vampires, undead necromancers, telepathic shoulder lizards, and an ex-assassin. This book has a lot going for it.


Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

Issola, by Steven Brust, is part of the Vlad Taltos series which began in 1983. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Lord Vlad Taltos is a witty ex-assassin with curmudgeonly tendencies and the ability to control magic. Being a witch helps. So does having a pair of telepathic jhereg (basically small dragons) as friends.

There are currently 15 Vlad Taltos books spanning a variety of points of view from Vlad to Rocza the jhereg. The ninth book in the series, Issola is written entirely from Vlad’s point of view. And Vlad’s a pretty funny guy. The book does reference characters and situations earlier in the series, which may be confusing to new readers. But don’t feel like you need to start the series at the very beginning.

One of the questions I’m most often asked is: “In what order would you recommend reading these books?” Unfortunately, I’m just exactly the wrong guy to ask. I made every effort to write them so that they could be read in any order. I am aware that, in some measure at least, I have failed (I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting with Teckla, for example), but the fact that I was trying makes me incapable of giving an answer.

Many people whose opinion I respect believe publication order is best . . . The choice, I daresay, is yours. In any case, I hope you enjoy them.

–Steven Brust, 1999, in the notes for The Book of Jhereg

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed-from-cover-to-cover plot, this is not the book for you. But if you enjoy witty banter, magical and transdimensional exploration, and a good, old-fashioned rock ’em sock ’em with demons and dragons, you’re in the right place. Issola dives deeply into the mythology of  Dragaera, pitting the ancient forces of creation and destruction (magic and chaos) against each other. It’s a fantastic read for a lazy afternoon.

Spoiler Free, Guaranteed

When the book opens, Vlad and his jhereg companions are living in the woods in an attempt to hide from the Jhereg (as in House of Jhereg and the Jhereg Council, which has little to do with jhereg, the really cool shoulder lizards). Presumably, Vlad did something in earlier books to get on the Jhereg’s bad side, but no details are given in this book.

Despite his precautions to guard himself magically and psychically (courtesy of the Phoenix Stone he wears around his neck), Lady Teldra locates his hiding place. The good news is Teldra isn’t a Jhereg. In fact, she’s an Issola and servant to the Dragonlord Morrolan.

Okay, so maybe Vlad isn’t super fond of Morrolan or his cousin, Aliera, but at least the Dragonlords aren’t actively trying to kill him. The bad news is nobody’s heard from either of the aforementioned Dragonlords for days, which is saying something because they’re psychic.

Lady Teldra teleports Vlad to Dzur Mountain to meet with Sethra Lavode. Sethra is a vampire. I’m going to repeat that. Sethra Lavode is a vampire. But she’s also an old acquaintance, so Vlad is much more worried about obtaining a cup of good klava (a coffee-like drink) than he is about becoming supper.

During their klava break, Sethra reveals her suspicion that the two Dragonlords have been taken by the Jenoine, entities with godlike power who were around during the creation of the world. Little is known about the Jenoine’s plans and motivations outside of their hatred of the gods. Not particularly a religious or reverent man, Vlad can certainly understand the sentiment, especially whenever he interacts with Aliera’s mother, the Demon Goddess Verra.

Still, he can’t stand by and allow the Jenoine to kidnap his acquaintances willy-nilly. Against his better judgment, he accepts Sethra’s request to rescue the captured Dragonlords.

Oh well, what’s a little cosmic battle with beings who control time and space? It’s better than hunkering down in the woods without even so much as a drinkable cup of klava.

–Vlad Taltos (Steven Brust) Source: Issola book blurb

Content Warning Note: This book was written long before content warnings came into use, and there is a lot of systematic crud many of us have internalized and are working through. That being said, if you are sensitive to ableist words and phrases, you may want to give this one a pass.

More by Steven Brust

Goodreads: 45 Books in 5 different series
Music: A Rose for Iconoclastes (also on Spotify)
Blog: The Dream Café
Twitter: @StevenBrust
Patreon: Support his work

Hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll try to squeeze in a book review every Wednesday from now on. Until next time, I’m…

Wishing you the best,

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