5 Great Beach Reads (and 5 Honorable Mentions)

Dreaming of the sand and waves? Take a step closer with some beach reads!

This has surely been a summer like no other, but somehow I still managed to make it to the beach (socially distanced, of course). But for anyone who’s dreaming of the beach and can’t get there, whether you’re landlocked or don’t want to take the risk heading out, I figured now would be a good time to share some books that will give you that beach feel!

So without further ado, let’s dive into some beachy reads.

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links. However, I have chosen these books because I read and enjoyed them by purchasing them myself or borrowing through the local library.)

Top Picks

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

If you like a bit more literary fantasy, this is perfect! In this story, you follow Clara on her epic quest to save her mermaid sister’s life. It’s full of adventure, magic, peril, and found family. Lots of fun and very lyrical!

Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle

This is a YA contemporary that takes place in the Outer Banks, NC (if you saw my survival recommendations post, this book was on it). The main characters, Sophie and Finn, are stranded on the islands and must survive a hurricane and reunite with their families. A great tale of missed connections, survival, and the beach!

The Siren by Kiera Cass

This is absolutely one of my favorite mermaid books! Follow Kahlen and her siren sisters as they struggle with their call to kill humans. I’ve never read a book with a better ocean character – and yes, the ocean itself is a character – and such a deep moral struggle. Fantastic writing and such a strong set of characters.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

This is basically a river pirate book (and there is a second book out now; it’s a duology!). Caro sets off to rescue her father, who has a booming river trade and is favored by the god of the river, and finds herself embroiled in political intrigue and deep questions of her own destiny and desires. Also, the hardcover of this book has a really pretty cover: it’s soft and has streaks of GLITTER!!!

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

This is what I’d call a science fantasy (and it is a long, scientific one!). If you like science and sirens, like I do, this is the perfect read for you! Imagine that a ship goes to the middle of the Mariana Trench and all hands disappear. Then imagine you’re part of the expedition that sets out to find out what happened. Just be ready for some mermaid horror.

Honorable Mentions

Say It’s the Sea by Kristina Mahr

This one is an awesome poetry collection by a very prolific poet. I put this one in honorable mentions because while it does include some oceanic vibes, those poems don’t make up the entire collection. But there are some real gems in here!

Tears of the Sea by Savannah Jezowski

This is yet another mermaid story (I’m sensing a theme), honorable mention because of the length. It’s only a short story, but the writing is so clear and beautiful, and it evokes such strong emotion as we watch LeRae yearn for humanity from her place in the water.

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

This one isn’t the ocean, but it is a resort on the edge of a lake…in a world run by terrifying supernatural creatures. It’s book 6 in The Others series, but it absolutely stands on its own. I fell in love with these characters so much, and it was such an amazing read, just like all the other books in this series.

A Chance for Sunny Skies by Eryn Scott

This one is honorable mention because it also doesn’t actually have ocean. What it DOES have is an adorable romance, lots of weather talk, and such a lovable, feels-filled story! I love the What’s in a Name series by this author – it’s full of adorableness, humor, and feels!

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

This is the only nonfiction selection on this particular list, but it’s a good one. If you’re interested in surfers looking for the wave of a lifetime or learning how waves (and rogue waves) work, this is a fantastic read! There’s lots of science and human interest in this, and it was a super fun read.

Closing Thoughts

There are plenty more books I could put on this list (like more mermaid stories because mermaids), but I think this list covers it pretty well! I hope I’ve provided a good variety of reading material, with nonfiction, poetry, contemporary, and, of course, fantasy.

There’s also that book actually titled Beach Read…def on my list, but I have not yet acquired it. Has anyone read it yet?

Do you have other suggested beach reads? What stories make you think of the ocean? Share them in the comments, I’d love to build my list and help you build yours as well!

Until next time, happy reading! ❤

Survival Part 3: 5 Survival Story Recs

It’s time for some book recommendations.

Hey there, word nerds! I know I missed last week, but I’m back now with those promised book recommendations.

Last month, I shared reasons why I love a good survival story as well as what makes for good survival story writing. We discussed the perseverance of the human spirit, ingenuity, and hope as successful elements of the story, as well as the need for tension and layers of conflict. All the stories I’m sharing with you today have bits and pieces of those things, and they range across genres…including a nonfiction selection that’s light on the tension but high on the page-turning!

Let’s dig in. 🙂

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

I just recently read this, as it only just came out this year. It was a bit shorter than I expected, but that just meant I could consume it in a sitting…and honestly, I wasn’t able to put it down once I started. It’s got the self-discovery, the high stakes, and the ingenuity. Seriously, I couldn’t believe some of the things this girl thought to do in order to survive! And it ended on such an interesting note, including some crushed dreams while rerouting to new ones. It was a story with real consequences and had me questioning the whole time if she’d make it or not.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

This is by far one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read (and if you’ve been around a while, you’ve definitely heard me talking about it!). Set just after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, it follows the journey of a kid named Alex, separated from his family just before the eruption and trying to survive and find them again in a world devastated by volcanic winter. There are intense highs and lows in this trilogy, following the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and it has one of the best, most hopeful and inspiring endings I’ve ever read in a trilogy.

The Martian by Andy Weir

This book, if you haven’t heard about it or seen the movie yet, is a near-future sci fi adventure following astronaut Mark Watney after an unfortunate series of events leaves him stranded on Mars, alone. Much like Be Not Far From Me, it showcases both ingenuity and the perseverance of the human spirit, but in a new setting on another planet. The voice is entertaining and full of gallows humor, and ultimately, this book left me with such a warm fuzzy at the end that makes me fall in love with it every time I think about it.

Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle

This one is probably a lesser-known book, but it is a young adult novel following Sophie and Finn, a couple of teens reconnecting after years in different schools and thrust together after Sophie is separated from her family and stranded during an evacuation. Together, they must survive a hurricane in the Outer Banks and get Sophie back to her mom.

If there’s one thing that can make me love a survival story even more, it’s throwing in a nice, big storm. 🙂

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

And for the nonfiction pick, though I could pick a few (see the lightning round!), nothing quite compares to Bill Bryson’s tale of his attempt at the Appalachian Trail. It’s got his own experiences on the trail, good and bad, as well as a bunch of the history and science of the trail and everything along the way. I also enjoyed that one of his stops was Palmerton, PA…just a stone’s throw away from my own hometown! I won’t give away any spoilers, but I also appreciated the thoughtful ending with unexpected events.

Lightning Round!

Finally, I’ll give you a few more bonus picks that I personally enjoyed, but with less info (I will give you the genre, though).

Antarctic Tears by Aaron Linsdau (nonfiction)

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (nonfiction)

Stormsurge by Shawna Lynn Brooks (Romance novella)

No Safe Haven by Kyla Stone (Post-apocalyptic)

Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone (fantasy Minotaur retelling)

Final Thoughts

Thanks so much for coming with me on my survival story kick! If you love or hate these kinds of stories, I’d love to know why. And if you have any more recommendations for me, please let me know! I’m hungry for them.

Let’s chat in the comments or over on Twitter!

PS: I have a new reader group just for you guys! Head on over to Facebook if you’re interested in talking about all things fantasy or my books specifically. Also, this is where I’ll be sharing links to eARCs, so if you’d like a chance to read one of my books for free, you’ll need to be part of this community!

Let’s chat in Readers of the Realms!

8 Books to Celebrate Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month. How about a list of reads all about it?

Hello again from quarantine! If you didn’t know, May is mental health month, and honestly I think we could all use a little help there, especially right now. Mental health is something I’ve been passionate about for a while, both as a neurobiologist and as a person who has struggled with mental health issues. And one great way to see through someone else’s eyes, especially if you’ve never experienced any mental health issues, is to read other people’s stories.

So, to celebrate and spread the word about some of my favorites, here are ten books with strong mental health themes that I enjoyed. Disclaimer: just because I enjoyed them doesn’t mean everyone will. If you loved or hated them, let me know in the comments! And if you want even more recommendations, here is a list of 40 great YA books that deal with mental health.

1. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is a book I read within the last few months, and I was absolutely blown away by the beautiful, fantastical storytelling. This book tells the story of Leigh, a teenage girl who recently lost her mother to suicide after a long battle with depression. Unlike many mental health stories out there, this one focuses on the people left behind after suicide and depression and is a deep look into one girl’s grief.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know that Fangirl is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s emotionally intense and ends on a warm, fuzzy note. But for this list, I’d like to highlight what this book brings to the table: it tells the story of two sisters moving into college and growing apart, a father with mental health issues, and a main character who deals with severe anxiety.

3. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Okay, so this one is really similar to Fangirl…a shy, anxious girl in love with a world she built, and no one knows she’s the author. But this one focuses on what happens when her anonymity is broken and suddenly everyone finds out who she is. So, so good, and if you like Fangirl, you’ll like this one, too!

4. Something Real by Heather Demetrios

This one is a little different, as it deals with the aftermath of growing up in the spotlight. The main character was a child on a reality show that went off the air – something she was all too happy to leave behind. But after she’s finally learning how to cope with life as a normal teen, her family suddenly wants to bring the show back. A very interesting and unique take on child stardom.

5. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

This is definitely a bit more difficult to read, particularly if you’re dealing with depression, but if you’re able, it’s so good. This story starts after the main character attempts suicide and follows her journey through recovery. And it doesn’t lie about how hard it is to get through something like that, which is one reason I love it. This book also happens to have one of my all-time favorite covers.

6. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

My last three picks are all by the same author, but she writes many well-done mental health books. This one in particular grabbed me for its dive into what it can be like to be family to an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD. Like The Astonishing Color of After, it’s nice to see a book where the main character is family to someone who is struggling, a good reminder that family of a struggling person need just as much support.

7. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I will admit that not everyone likes this book as much as I do, but this is an interesting intersection of issues: eating disorders, hallucinations, and grief. I think it does a really great job at showing how multiple issues can be interconnected, and like The Memory of Light, it offers a realistic view of therapy while still ending on a hopeful note. I really appreciate that in my mental health fiction.

8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I can’t end without mentioning this classic, award-winning book. Speak is the story of a high school girl in the aftermath of sexual assault and the way she must cope with what happened and with her classmates and the adults around her. As I said, this is definitely a classic, and it’s won its awards for a reason.

BONUS: All That Glimmers by Selina J. Eckert

This novella, releasing on May 15, is an exploration of grief and moving on, set in the fantasy world of contemporary Fae. Hallie is two years out from her best friend’s death, but she is determined to bring her back…especially when she finds a Fae secret that could mean putting her world back together again.

You can get it on Amazon or any other retailer.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’ve struggled with mental health before or not, I hope this list gives you a strong set of reads for the month of May. If you’ve read any of these, please feel free to let me know what you thought of them in the comments. And if you have any other recommendations, let’s chat about them!

See you in the comments. ❤

Awesome Books for Writers

Looking for some great books for writers? Look no further!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for a good craft or business book to grow your knowledge. This week I took a look over all the writing and art books I’ve consumed since I started seriously writing, and I figured why not share my up-to-date favorites list with all of you?

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Writing Craft, Business, and Life

The first category is my favorite books on writing craft, books that teach elements of writing itself or what’s involved in the writing life and business. And boy do I have some excellent (and classic) favorites!

On Writing by Stephen King

This one is, of course, one of the biggest classics! King tells it like it is, in a relateable, down-to-earth voice. In fact, I might be due for a reread!

Bird by Bird by Anne lamott

This is an encouraging and entertaining look at how to write a book. Definitely one of my favorites, and it’s so quotable!

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

This is another classic, a collection of essays by classic writer Ray Bradbury. Definitely some interesting food for thought here!

Wired for STory by Lisa Cron

As a neuroscientist and a writer, I’ve loved this particular book. It delves into the neuroscience and psychology behind elements of a story and why certain things work so well…and how to improve your own writing with those ideas in mind!

THe Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman

This is an excellent overview and must-read for any author looking to make a career from their writing. Friedman goes through things like how publishing works, your publishing and career options, platforms, and more resources for delving deeper.

For Christian Writers

This section is specific to Christian writers, but the books are packed with so much to think about regarding spirituality, mental health, and art and creativity.

Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle

This is another collection of essays by a classic author. It discusses what it means to be a Christian artist and how faith and art are related.

Unlocking the Heart of the Artist by Matt Tommey

This is an incredible look at how to deal with your issues to become the artist God created and to help you create as best you can. It also does some work to dispel the myth of the starving artist. It’s such a powerful read!

For Encouragement

There are also a couple short reads that do such an uplifting job of encouraging writers to keep going and dream about how what they do affects readers. If you need a lift, pick one (or both) of these up! It won’t take long, and you’ll end up feeling validated, appreciated, and, hopefully, excited to keep writing!

Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace

This book is a collection of letters from a hypothetical fan to you, the author. It covers a range of scenarios and is so heartwarming!

For the love of a word Ed. by Annie Louise Twitchell

Disclaimer: I have a couple pieces in this anthology. But it’s such an encouraging and motivating collection of essays, poetry, and art. Definitely give this one a read if you need a bit of a pick-me-up.

My Upcoming Reads

Finally, I can’t complete this list without addressing a bunch of books on my list that I’m either currently reading or excited to dive into next. I won’t have too much info here, but feel free to follow the links to learn more!

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

Romance Your Brand: Building a Marketable Genre Fiction Series

Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream

Writing the Other

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Closing Thoughts

There are so many good resources out there for craft, business, and life of a writer! I’m always on the hunt for new, good titles to consume. If you know of some not on my list, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Or, if you’ve read any of these, what are your own thoughts? Did you find them helpful? Let’s chat about it!

See you in the comments. 🙂

The Best Books I Read This Winter (2020)

Read any good books lately? I have!

I don’t know about you, but my e-reader is filled to overflowing from the generosity of so many authors out there! And so far this year, I’ve managed to complete 29 books ranging from contemporary to nonfiction to fantasy. So I figured why not have a recap of which books I’ve really enjoyed so far?

And by the way, I am offering my Rapunzel novella, “Of the Clouds,” free to newsletter subscribers, along with a contemporary fantasy short story titled “Queen of Mist and Fog.” You can pick those up here, and don’t worry…you can unsubscribe at any time.

Now on to the books! (And you can see EVERYTHING I finished this year here!)

Fantasy

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is a young adult contemporary magic realism that takes place largely in Taiwan and follows the aftermath of the main character’s mother committing suicide. It’s a beautiful exploration of depression, suicide, and the people left behind . One of the most beautiful books I read this year for sure. You can learn more here.

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

This is another young adult fantasy, and it is also beautifully written. It’s a debut for a duology that’s finishing in October 2020, and it’s a unique world where two sisters are torn apart by the customs of their people: one who is desperate to redeem her healer father’s reputation, and one who was chosen to die with their leader and accompany him into the afterlife. It’s amazing lore, great intrigue, and fascinating worldbuilding…and the author is also pretty nice and will chat with you on social media. 🙂 You can pick up a copy here (and take note of the AMAZING cover).

The Earth Magic Rises Trilogy by A.L. Knorr

I finished this trilogy this year, though I read book one last year. It’s a fantastic expansion of the Elementals world starring Georgie and the beautiful Scottish landscape, and it’s a nail-biting adventure of magic and discovery. Scary, atmospheric, and intense…I loved every minute!

Contemporary Young Adult

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

This was such an amazing book of friendship and PIZZA. Sydney is learning who she wants to be after her golden-boy brother is incarcerated for hitting someone when driving drunk one night. Now her parents’ attention is all on her as she copes with the guilt over what her brother did. A beautiful coming-of-age story. You can check out more here.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

This was a really well-done story…and might I just add that it’s worth listening to the audiobook? This book bounces back and forth between Sadie searching for her missing sister and tracking down the man she KNOWS is responsible for her disappearance and the podcast exploring the disappearance. And the audiobook really does this justice. You can learn more here.

Manga

Hakumei & Mikochi by Takuto Kashiki

This year, hubs bought me a new manga to try for my birthday. And he picked so well! Hakumei & Mikochi is an adorable story of two forest-dwelling spirits. It has everything I love: cute things, food, and all things tiny! You can learn more here.

Children’s

Floral Frolic by Cari Corene and Amanda Coronado

I don’t read too many children’s books, but I’m on the lookout for good ones now that I have a nephew and hubs and I are thinking about starting our family. This is a gorgeous book with watercolor art and foxes (two of my favorite things) and tells a really cute story involving flowers. Definitely a pretty, pleasant read for the young ones AND you. You can learn more here.

Nonfiction

Dear Author by Laura A. Grace (Illustrated by Hannah S.J. Williams)

I read a few different nonfiction already this year, but this one is definitely the best! It’s an encouraging and inspiring collection of letters written to their favorite author in a way that any writer can relate to. I found it to be so motivational, heartwarming, and inspiring for my own writing. Every author needs a copy of this book! You can find out more here.

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So what about you? How are you doing on your reading goals? Do you have any standout favorites for the year yet? Share below! 😀

My Year in Books: 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again! The time to discuss all the wonderful books I read and loved this year! If you want to see everything I read this year, hop over to Goodreads and check it out.

First, some stats.

This year my goal was to read 70 books. I blew that goal away! As of the writing of this post, I’m at 89 books and expect to finish at least 1 or 2 more before the end of December.

Of those books, I believe 25 (possibly more) were indie authors.

Three were my own (surprise!), which technically I read at least 3 times each.

One was a book I beta read.

Eight were graphic novels or manga.

Six were nonfiction (including an anthology I participated in).

Four were poetry.

And now, without further ado, my picks for favorite reads of the year!

Young adult

The Siren, by Kiera Cass

Yes, I know this is kind of an old one, but I adored this standalone! I especially loved how the ocean was its own character.

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

This was an incredibly inventive fantasy that I became completely immersed in. If you’re looking for something well-written and just a bit different, this is a great pick!

General Fiction and Adult Fiction

Sourdough, by Robin Sloan

Oh my word, I loved this book! It’s all about an engineer who discovers a love for baking bread…and who inherits a pretty awesome sourdough starter that may or may not be alive? I mean, beyond the usual yeast-alive that bread starters have…

Fantasy

The WAy of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally dive into Brandon Sanderson, but I finished this book early in the year and still can’t get over the magic and worldbuilding in this series. They’re long, but so worth the read!

Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice, by H.L. Burke

This is an indie book that was absolutely fantastic. I really loved the worldbuilding and the fiery characters in here!

Sand and Storm, by Stella Dorthwany

Another indie I read in the Fellowship of Fantasy book club this year, this book has some awesome high fantasy worldbuilding, sand magic, and archaeology, all things I loved wrapped together so beautifully!

Garden of Lilies, by Eli Constant

Okay, so I read a lot of indies this year! This was an adult urban fantasy I just could not put down…even though I didn’t love what happened in the ending. Despite that, I found that by the end of November, I was craving the world and characters again, and I purchased and devoured book 2. Definitely worth the read, but not for those of you who like clean fiction!

Lake Silence, by Anne Bishop

And finally, of course Anne Bishop is on this list! I was a little skeptical when the new The Others book wasn’t following Meg and Simon, but I quickly fell in love with this book. Let’s be real, I just love this world!

Graphic Novels

Monstress

This is such a beautifully created art style and interesting fantasy. I highly recommend this!

Over the Wall

Another gorgeous fantasy with an awesome storyline. I can’t wait to get the next books by this creator!

Delicious in Dungeon

I discovered this one at Katsucon in February, and I just can’t get over it. It’s basically a group of adventurers who need to return to the depths of a dungeon to save their friend from a dragon, but because they have no money to supply themselves, they eat their way through the dungeon. Hilarious, and an awesome treat for fans of DND!

Nonfiction

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

I have a soft spot for adventure nonfiction. In previous years I enjoyed A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and Antarctic Tears by Aaron Linsdau, and this book felt like it was in the same vein. It was a story of discovery, perseverance, and nature that I loved!

Resources for Writers

The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman

This is definitely a must-read for anyone who wants to write professionally, whether that’s indie or traditional. It covers a range of topics including the basics of writing jobs, online tools, and the ins and outs of the industry, both indie and trad.

Concluding Thoughts

I read so many awesome books this year, and if I shared every one I loved, this post would be more like a novella! So if you’re interested in seeing everything I read, don’t forget to hop over to Goodreads!

There are also a bunch of books on my TBR that I wish I could have read this year but unfortunately won’t make it until next year (thinking of you, Dear Author!). I look forward to sharing them next December!

In the meantime, what did you read and love this year? I’m always looking for new reads, especially in fantasy, urban fantasy, YA, and writing! Let’s chat in the comments!

5 Great Books for Halloween

Need some seasonal reading material? I got you covered.

You may or may not have noticed that last week’s post is a bit late. Well, hubs and I took a vacation to Peru! However, I forgot to schedule the post ahead of time. But instead of skipping, I wanted to make sure to post before Halloween so we can talk about some good books to read this time of year!

(Side note: if you’d like to see a few pics from our trip, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter!)

Without further ado, five great books to read this Halloween!

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

I’m currently reading this one, and it is so far delightful! This is a middle grade story about a boy who lives in a New England town where his ancestors struck a deal with a demon…and then broke it. If you want the atmosphere of the season, there are plenty of bright leaves, atmospheric locations, and special treats to be had!

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

In this young adult fantasy, find yourself in a town that worships its founders ever since they locked a terrifying, dangerous beast away in the Gray. But the beast is growing more powerful, and the powers the founders have may no longer be enough to keep it contained. This book is several parts spooky, magical, and chilling, perfect for a Halloween read!

Garden of Lilies by Eli Constant

Warning for those of you who read clean fiction: this is not what you’re looking for. But if you want an engaging, raw, and chilling adult urban fantasy, pick this indie up.

Victoria is a necromancer…one of the last of her kind. Necromancers were killed and outlawed after they inadvertently caused The Rising, a zombie apocalypse, years before. But now Victoria works at the family morgue, which makes it a little harder to stay hidden, especially when one of her clients reanimates and begs for help. This book drew me in, and I had so much trouble putting it down!

Must Love Ghosts by Charity Tahmaseb

This one is another indie and a little bit different. Instead of a novel, this series is written like a TV show, and each book is a season of “episodes” revolving around a central arc. The tales are both spooky and cute, and there is plenty of coffee and tea to go around! If you want cute and spooky, this is the one for you.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

This is another traditionally published young adult fantasy, written by one of the descendants of the players in the Salem witch trials. In the story, a descendant of Cotton Mather returns to Salem where she is immediately seen as the enemy…and targeted by the all-too-real witches who still live in the town. This was definitely a spooky read, and its suspenseful telling is just creepy enough for this time of year.

Bonus: Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks by Selina J. Eckert

Finally, for a cute little bonus, I have this novella written specifically to celebrate the fall season. Reese is a pie witch: a woman who bakes magical pies in her own little bakery. But when two autumn sprites show up at her door demanding pie, her entire world is thrown into chaos. This tale inspired by Hansel and Gretel is fully of candy, autumn vibes, cute romance, and PIE.

And guess what? It’s out on Halloween! Don’t forget to pick up your copy and soak in the season!

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So what about you? Do you have any books you love to read in the fall? What are they? Help me, and your fellow bibliophiles, find some new seasonal books! ❤

Ongoing Series I LOVE

Okay, so we talked about why readers and writers love series, the series that are complete that I adore, and the series I NEED to finish…but that leaves out one major category of books: series that are not yet complete but are on my auto-buy or will-eventually-buy list.

Ongoing series I adore! Let’s finish this series (ha!) strong!

The Others, by Anne Bishop

This is a world full of vampires, shifters, elementals, and other dangerous creatures…and oh yeah, they’re in charge. It’s such an interesting twist on urban fantasy and lovable characters! (Adult)

The World of the Others, by Anne Bishop

This is a spinoff of The Others, following different characters but set in the same world. I’ll be the first to say I was leery of this, because I loved Meg and Simon so much, but I read the first one this summer and I was in love!!! (Adult)

Mercy Thompson, by Patricia Briggs

At this point, this may as well be a classic of urban fantasy. This follows mechanic and history graduate Mercy Thompson…who is also a coyote shifter and lives next to a werewolf pack. There are also fae, ghosts, and vampires, as well as other unique creatures. Every book is a new adventure, and I’m in love with these characters! (Adult)

Alpha and Omega, by Patricia Briggs

This is a spinoff of Mercy Thompson and follows the North American werewolf law enforcer, Charles, and his mate, an omega wolf named Anna. Their relationship is so sweet, and it’s a very different view from Mercy’s world. (Adult)

Victoria Cage, Necromancer, by Eli Constant

This is one of those books that kept me up late reading. It’s incredibly well-written and is a completely unique take on zombies (uh, yeah, the Rising was accidentally caused by necromancers, who are now illegal). I can’t wait to keep reading these! I thought the series was over with book 3, but it seems there’s another one in the works? (Adult with Adult Situations)

Legendary Magic, by Stella Dorthwany

I just read book one in an online book club, and I love these characters, the world, and the magic system. I’m super excited to keep reading! (uh…Adult? But clean it seems?)

Steel City Genie, by Janeen Ippolito

As the name would suggest, this follows a genie in a world of shifters and other cryptozoological entities. And it’s set in Pittsburgh. So home state advantage for me! Though I’ve never been there… Anyway, very good, highly recommend! (Adult)

October Daye, by Seanan McGuire

This follows a fae detective and has all kinds of really old faerie folk from Celtic lore. These are fantastic, and every book is something different. Also, there aren’t so many series that have selkies… (Adult)

Desert Nights, by Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince

I just read the prequel, and I was hooked. This is a desert fantasy serial (short novels/novellas? I think?) that is well written and grabbed my interest right away. I can’t wait to continue! (uh…young adult? Adult? Not sure.)

The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson

This is definitely one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. The worldbuilding is unique, and I love the characters! But be ready for the length. Book 3 is over 1200 pages… (Adult)

Concluding Thoughts

This about wraps up our series on series! So to end it all, let’s get out any other series you’re currently reading, have read, or want to read in the comments below! I want to know if you’ve read any I have, or if any of these discussions the past few weeks have introduced you to something new.

Let’s chat!

Series I NEED to Finish

Two weeks ago, we discussed why book series appeal to readers and writers, and last week I spent a lot of time diving into some of my favorite series that I’ve finished reading.

But what about all those lost, lonely stories I haven’t gotten around to completing yet??? I mean, the series are completed, so what am I waiting for?

Let’s not put it off any longer. Here are the book series I’ve started and absolutely NEED to complete. (PS, did you know I read such varied series? Lots and lots of genres represented this week and last week!)

Unlike last week, unless I know they are absolutely adult, I cannot provide content ratings since I haven’t finished the series. Read at your own risk!

The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco

This is a wonderful, intense, and rich fantasy series for young adults that follows a girl who accidentally found out she was a necromancer when she raised her brother from the dead. It’s got lots of magic woven into society and a great sibling relationship, as well as political intrigue and revenge! (Young adult)

Alpha Girl, by Aileen Erin

I started this with a free book, and I honestly loved it. It’s an indie fantasy about a girl who accidentally gets turned into a werewolf, except she was already a bruja…a forbidden combination. (Young adult)

Ivory and Bone, by Julie Eshbaugh

This is historic fantasy? I’m not sure. But it’s got a really big Ice Age vibe going and is told in second person. Very cool storytelling and captivating story! (Young adult)

Firebird, by Claudia Gray

This is a sci-fi with alternate dimensions and science! The main character uses a device created by her father (I think?) and travels into another dimension. I only got to read book one so far, but it’s so different, and the covers are GORGEOUS! (Young adult)

Dreamblood, by N.K. Jemisin

This is a really unique fantasy about dream-based magic, and it has a non-European fantasy setting, which was really cool. Can’t wait to finish it! (Adult)

Portland Hafu, by K. Bird Lincoln

I started this one with a free book as well, and it is an indie urban fantasy about a girl who finds out she is a dream eater (takes the dreams of people she comes in contact with). This awakens some ancient forces, and danger ensues! (Adult-ish? College age)

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

These are very good, but they are bricks. Like, so long. And I’m actually really intimidated by long books. They are based mostly in Fae courts, but the main character is a human thrown into all kinds of unwinnable situations. Caution: these are marketed as young adult, but they are very much NOT. Very graphic.

Mark of the Lion, by Francine Rivers

I only have one left, but it follows a different character than the first two, so I keep putting it off. But these are Christian historical fiction set in the early days of the church in…Rome? I think? Very good, very emotional. (Adult)

The Fourth Element, by Kat Ross

Another indie, yay! These books follow an interesting non-European mythology that I kind of fell in love with. I’m not sure what the age range is, and I don’t know how to explain it. Follow the link, sorry! XD

Monsters of Verity, by Victoria Schwab

This is a duology in which monsters actually exist in the city, sometimes brought about by violence and horrible circumstances…but you really start to question who the real monsters are. (Young adult)

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

This is a high fantasy with a very interesting cultural setting in which “gods” appeared in a floating city, tormented the people, and then the people lashed out and killed them…all except a small group of half-god children. (Young adult)

Concluding Thoughts

As you can no doubt see, I have started many series. But I have trouble binging an entire series at once, so now I have many incomplete series. Woo!

What series are you currently reading? Are you loving them? Hating them? Let’s talk in the comments!

Series I’ve Completed (and Loved!)

Last week, I talked a bit about the appeal of a book series to both readers and writers. We discussed the learning curve of a story, binge culture and episodic fiction, and the love of a world, as well as a few models authors can use to take advantage of reader habits.

This week, I want to dive into some of my favorite completed series. I have finished more series than these, but today I only want to discuss the things I love. There have absolutely been series I completed that I didn’t love, but I don’t believe in calling those out. It’s not so fair to the author, and everyone has their own taste in fiction!

So without further ado, my favorite series (that I’ve completed). Buckle up, ‘cuz we are going to talk about a TON of books this month! Check out the end of each description to learn about the age level and/or how clean it is, if that concerns you.

Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken

This is a duology about a violinist who just happens to also be from a time-traveling family. The main character gets tied up in the evil-doings and excitement of the time travelers, moving from time and place while trying to find her way home again. This is young adult and pretty clean.

The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken

Okay, so I LOVE Alex Bracken. She writes great stories, and she is such a nice human. This is the series that first introduced me to her (yes it was a movie, but trust me, the books are much better!). If you don’t know, this is about a plague that sweeps through the US, killing most children. The ones who survive develop psychic abilities, and this is their story, one of fear and struggle and triumph! This is young adult and fairly clean to read.

Weather Warden, by Rachel Caine

This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series! The earth is protected and controlled by wardens and their enslaved djinn…only the djinn are tired of being trapped. Every book gets better and better, and I am in love with this world and magic system! Caution: for older readers (includes on-page sex).

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

I started this series way back in middle school and completed it in college, and it is absolutely delightful! It follows child evil genius Artemis Fowl and his tricks on the fairy folk. Middle grade, clean for all ages.

Diamond of the Rockies, by Kristen Heitzmann

This one was from my Western/historical fiction craze when I was younger. It follows the journey of an Italian-American woman as she moves out West to the frontier and ends up starting her own restaurant…while also dealing with a bothersome, cranky man. Some adult situations, but is Christian fiction.

Elemental Origins, by A.L. Knorr

This is a delightful indie urban fantasy series intended for young adults. Each book in this series follows a different character with a different elemental ability, starting with mermaids. Clean and good for all ages.

Cheney Duvall, M.D., by Lynn & Gilbert Morris

I must have read this series three times through, at least. This is a Christian historical fiction starring Cheney Duvall, one of the first female doctors, and follows her around the country with her trusty nurse, ex-pugilist Shiloh Irons! Cheney is from a well-to-do family but struggles to be recognized as a real doctor while struggling to understand people who don’t belong to her class. It’s so, so good! There’s even a few books in a spinoff series, The Inheritance. Hmm, may be time for another read-through… Clean, but there are marriage situations/discussions as the series progresses.

Ashfall, by Mike Mullin

By far, this is one of the best trilogies I have read. It’s a sci-fi that takes place after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, and the main character is separated from his family and must find his way in a new, and incredibly dangerous, world. It also has one of the BEST endings I’ve ever seen in a series. Young adult, but very adult dangers. You have been warned.

Zenta and Matsuzo, by Lensey Namioka

This is a middle grade, but it’s historical fiction. It follows a ronin (masterless samurai) and his sidekick as they solve mysteries in feudal Japan. I loved reading these in the summer and eventually collected the whole series. Clean reads for kids!

The Cooper Kids, by Frank Peretti

This is a Christian middle grade that follows the two children of an archaeologist. My dad used to read these to us, so it’s got some great sentimental value to me. I loved all the adventures they had and the places they got to visit. Clean read!

Lost Voices, by Sarah Porter

This is BY FAR one of my favorite mermaid series. It follows a girl who gives up on the world, so the sea changes her into a mermaid. Now, she must learn this new life and deal with her fellow mermaids, their hatred of humanity, and humanity’s hatred of them. Fairly clean, but some discussion related to adult situations.

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

I don’t need to explain this, but of course it had to be on the list. I didn’t read these until college, but I was sucked into the world like everyone else and was actually surprised to find so many moral and religious themes sprinkled throughout, particularly in the last book. Clean, but gets darker as the series progresses, in case you didn’t know.

Tales of Goldstone Wood, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This is a Christian high fantasy series that was slated to have another book or two, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, so I’ve included it as complete. It’s a traditional feeling fantasy, but each book follows different characters and stories (with a few consistent characters woven throughout) and has plenty of warm, Christian themes. One of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read! Clean!

The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater

I. Love. This. Series. I’d call this a young adult magic realism. It follows Blue, the non-psychic daughter of a psychic who meets a group of boys from the nearby school and joins in their quest to find an ancient lost Welsh king supposedly buried somewhere in the area…and if you find him, he’ll grant you a wish. Clean!

Saga of the Sierras, by Brock & Bodie Thoene

This is another from my Western days. It’s a Christian historic fiction and follows a bunch of different characters out in 1800s California, through all the danger and intrigue they face, as well as dealing with living on a frontier. Clean!

The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop

Finally, this one is another childhood favorite. Much like The Indian in the Cupboard, it involves a tiny toy that turns out to be real! The children get to visit the castle kingdom by visiting a toy castle in the attic, and they have adventures! Yay! Clean!

Concluding Thoughts

These are only a fraction of the series I’ve finished. If I wrote them all here, it’d take us forever to get through it! I did enjoy other series as well, but these are some that really stand out to me, even years after I read them.

So tell me below: what series have you completed and loved? Are there any I’m missing out on?