The Official Spooky Season Book Tag

Hello! I wasn’t tagged on this but I’m stealing it anyway because I think it sounds fun. I found it on Books Are 42′s blog.

This fun and spooky tag was created by Noly

The Rules

Tag the original creator (The Artsy Reader)
Use the official banner
Answer the prompts and questions
Tag 5 people
Have fun and get spooky!!!

Question 1: You hear a strange noise in the night – the monsters got inside! Which book character would you choose to protect you from harm? No questions, Cal Leandros. It’s basically his job to kill monsters and he’s pretty good at it.

Question 2: You go on vacation and your hotel is located right next to a cemetery. Which book character do you really hope is not hiding in the shadows? The Blade from Banshee Cries by C.E. Murphy. It’s a Banshee type creature that is all sharp angles and sounds scary as hell!

Question 3: It’s a particularly cold night and you decide to stay inside. Which three book characters would you like to spend a trivia quiz and board game night with? Hmm, let’s go with Harry Dresden, Mercy Thompson and Joanne Walker. No particular reason other than they came to mind lol.

Question 4: Time for a big adventure! The scary book you pick transports you into its world. Where do you end up? I don’t read a lot of scary books, so I can’t really pick one of those. However, I think living in the world of Game of Thrones would be pretty traumatic.

Question 5: No Halloween without Trick or Treat-ing! Which book character do you think has the sweetest tooth? Oh wow, I never thought about this. Um, I’m going to say Joanne Walker because she likes hot chocolate with a shot of mint and pastries.

Question 6: The fairies are angry and want a sacrifice from your bookshelf. Which scary book has to go and why? I think the only scary book I have is Rose Madder by Stephen King, so that would be the one to go.

Question 7: You decide you feel more autumnal rather than halloween-y today. Which book setting would you choose for a more cosy and less scary vibe? Hmm maybe somewhere real, like Chicago or Seattle in the fall.

Question 8: The witch is cooking up a spell in her cauldron and you have to add one magic ingredient. Which item from a book are you adding to the mixture? This is a really hard question! I can’t actually think of any kind of special plant or magic ingredient from a book.

Question 9: You get to decide which bookish place to visit for Halloween. Which book setting is the scariest – and gets crossed off the list? The Other World from Coraline. That place just seems horrid!

Question 10: The big day is finally here: it’s Halloween! Which book character do you dress up as, and what would be part of your outfit? Ya know what, I’m going to say Harry Dresden, even though I’m a woman. I would wear a long trench coat and carry around a wand of some kind.

I’m not tagging anyone but if you see this post and want to do this tag, please do so and let me know in the comments so I can read your answers too!

First Line Friday – October 6, 2023

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering WordsWhat if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Princess Danielle Whiteshore of Lorindar clung to the rail at the front of the ship, staring out at the waves. If this wind kept up, she might become the first princess in history to welcome the undine back from their winter migration by vomiting into their waters. The weather had been mild for most of the morning, but the skies had changed as the sun passed its peak. It was as if the sea now took a perverse glee in tormenting her.”

Do you know what it is?

Figured it out yet?

What could it be?

Here it is!

Did you guess it? Link me your First Line Friday too!

Fantasy Novels with Unique Magic Systems

Are you looking for some new fantasy novels with unique magic systems to read? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Fantasy novels go hand in hand with magic. What kind of fantasy would it be if there weren’t magic? I don’t know about you, but I like uniqueness in my books. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a few tropes. They are tropes for a reason and there are many that I enjoy. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. I’d like to share with you a list of fantasy series I have read that have the most unique magic systems.

The Wheel of Time is probably one of the most well known fantasy series of all time, after the Lord of the Rings of course. In this world, the Source of magic is divided in two, female and male. Long ago, the male half was tainted, causing any man who used to go insane. Since that time, only women used the Source and have become a powerful organization in the world. The magic is only visible to those who can use it and is handled in a sort of weaving way. I’m not sure how else to describe it. In the books it’s often described as threads being woven into a pattern to achieve a desired outcome.

The Sword of Truth series divided it’s magic into positive and negative. Positive magic is considered to be from the Creator and is the most commonly used type. Negative magic is from the Dark One and therefore considered evil. Positive magic creates things or changes them, while negative magic removes or destroys. As an example, there is a scene in the first book where the wizard, Zedd, uses magic to grow his beard, but then requires a razor to shave it off as removing it would be Negative magic, which he doesn’t possess.

Anne Bishop’s world of the Black Jewels has witches and warlocks who receive a specific colour of jewel during a ceremony called The Offering to the Darkness, around the time of puberty. The colour of the jewel determines the strength of their magic with Black being the strongest and white being the weakest.

The Death Gate Cycle has the use of runes to channel magic. Those who use the runes have them etched into their skin for various purposes, such as protection. While this magic isn’t widely used, except by a select few people, I did find it quite unique in comparison to many other magic systems.

In the Codex Alera series, magic exists through elemental being called Furies. People are naturally affiliated towards a specific element and will form a bond with a fury of that element type. Everyone has some ability and therefore furies are used everywhere in every day life. Most people have only one fury but stronger magic users can have two or more.

Initially, the Cloud Mages might seem similar to the Black Jewels in that magic is channeled through stones. However, in this trilogy, each stone has only one specific purpose and can only be used once before it needs to be recharged. At night, magic comes down from the clouds and recharges the stones.


The Realm of the Elderlings series has a few different types of magic, but the one I want to focus on here is the Skill. The Skill is a bit difficult to describe. It’s like a mix of telepathy and empathy that allows the user to influence others and sometimes even physical surroundings.

What are some fantasy novels with unique magic systems that you’ve read? Let me know in the comments and as always, thanks for reading!

Clear the Shelf Reading Challenge 2023 Update #2

What have I read so far this year?

So far this year, for this reading challenge, the above books are what I have read from the list.

What am I reading now?

I started The Rose of the World a few days ago and it will conclude the Fool’s Gold trilogy by Jude Fisher.

What am I reading next?

I haven’t decided what I will be reading after I finish the Rose of the World. I have a few review requests that I accepted and I feel like I should probably read those.

Unfortunately, the list has actually expanded. i was recently going through and rearranging books and discovered some complete trilogies that were on my shelf but not on the Goodreads list, so it is now at 51 instead of being under 50.

I’m fairly satisfied with how my reading challenge is going this year! How are your reading goals for this year going?

If you are interested, you can check out my previous update here.

Gender Roles in Fantasy Books

I’ve been reading fantasy books for well over two decades now. As evident by this blog, it is my favorite genre to read and likely always will be. Like any genre of books, fantasy has it’s own tropes. Generally, the setting is similar to the middle ages in Europe. Horses and wagons are the main form of transportation, swords, daggers and bows and the main type of weaponry, and gender roles are clearly defined.

This is what I want to talk about today.

It seems to me that gender and gender roles are very much the topic of discussion on social media recently or maybe that I personally am just seeing more of it but it made me realize how often women are treated and portrayed as inferior in fantasy books. Granted, the books I’m currently reading are ones that have been sitting on my shelf for quite some time so they were published years ago. I’m not up to date on the newer releases because I’m catching up on so many older reads.

Still, it very common for the women in fantasy novels to be portrayed in a certain way. They obsess over finding a husband so they can get married and have children. They are expected to be beautiful and desirable and also fertile, because, of course, their main function is to produce babies. They are expected to have domestic skills like sewing, cleaning, cooking and child rearing. Any woman who lacks these skills will “never find a good marriage” or something along those lines.

When books do try to portray strong women they often have a bad temper that gets them into trouble, are stubborn and arrogant and end up needing to be saved by a man.

All too often, women are raped and assaulted casually. In some cases, the woman is to blame for this as she is now “damaged goods” and won’t be able to find a good husband since she is no longer a virgin. The women aren’t allowed to learn to fight so they have no idea how to protect themselves when inevitably they come across a man or men looking to assault them.

These men who assault women never even face any consequences for their actions either. True, some may die after the assault occurs but it is rarely as a punishment for the assault or a direct result of it.

The Wheel of Time is actually a good example where these types of gender roles are not as prevalent. Women have the ability to use the One Power and they basically oversee all governments and countries. But even they have been waiting thousands of years for a man to be born who will save the world. There is a culture that has warrior women, but if those women decide to get married they have to give up the warrior life and settle into a domestic one. Some people might say that the Wheel of Time has amazingly strong and powerful female characters, but honestly, I found them all to be haughty, arrogant, and think way too highly of themselves. They were more annoying than strong.

I couldn’t find an actual statistic to see how many women vs men read fantasy, but from what I have seen on social media like Bookstagram, more readers are women than men and a lot more books seemed to be marketed towards women. So why are women portrayed as so inferior in fantasy? As I said before, I’m reading books that were published a decade or so ago so maybe this trend has changed. Have women in fantasy begun to evolve as women’s roles in society have evolved?

This is something I’d be really interested in discussing so if you read this please do leave a comment. Perhaps some recommendations of fantasy books with actually strong and prominent female characters?

Thank you so much for reading and I hope to have a meaningful conversation about this!

Top Five Urban Fantasy Series

Urban Fantasy is something I’ve only gotten into in recent years. Previously, I was kind of a fantasy snob.

Anyway, here are the top five Urban Fantasy series that I have read (so far)

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews is by far one of the best series I have read. Kate is a kick ass character who doesn’t take shit from anyone, even if it get her in trouble.

The series features all the fun stuff you’d expect from an urban fantasy, including shapeshifters, vampires and magic users. The vampires aren’t like in some others series though. No sexy vamps here.

Probably one of the more well known urban fantasy series, the Dresden Files features Harry Dresden, wizard and private investigator. This series is fast paced and darkly comedic. You’ve got all the typical players like vampires, werewolves, witches and fae. Each book is an adventure and you never know what is going to happen next.

I think the Mercy Thompson series was what really got me into Urban Fantasy. Mercy is a coyote shifter who was raised among werewolves. She isn’t exactly kick ass like Kate Daniels but she can hold her own and will go toe to toe with the Alpha of the local pack. Mercy goes through a lot in her life and there’s still more to come!

To date, the Kitty Norville series is by far the best werewolf series I’ve read. Kitty was turned into a werewolf against her will and has to learn to adapt to her new life. I found her growth as a character to be amazing. She starts out as a rather timid person, at the bottom of her pack and rises up out of her shell and become Alpha of her own pack. Her journey is fun and exciting. The series is finished as far as I know, which is a little too bad but I think that Carrie Vaughn did an amazing job of wrapping up such a long series.

I’m slightly iffy about including the Cal Leandros series as one of my Top Five, but only because the author had some controversy on the internet some years back and she is no longer being published.

That being said, Rob Thurman is a really good writer. I’ve read just about everything she has published and loved it all.

Cal is half human half…something else. Along with his older brother Niko, the two act as a kind of supernatural bounty hunters.

Cal is a smart ass and sarcastic. He is one of my favorite characters and it makes me sad that the series wasn’t finished. If you do choose to read this series, avoid the last book, Nevermore, as it ends on a cliffhanger and the next book, Everwar, was never published.

So, what do you think of my top five urban fantasy series? Do you agree with my picks? Are there ones that you add or replace. Remember, this is only my top five out of what I have read so far. This list could easily change in the future.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Clear the Shelf Reading Challenge 2023 – Update #1

Books I’ve finished since last update:

Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier and the Hippopotamus March by Pauline Gedge.

Were these books on the list? YES!

What am I reading now?

The Executioner of Yrecep Forest by Laura DiNivos Berry.

Is this book on the list? No

Why am I reading it? I was offered a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

What do I plan to read next?

The Oasis by Pauline Gedge

Is it on the list? Yes, it is.

The list is down to 50, which is great but I’m feeling impatient and want the number to go down faster!

The Best Shoujo Manga

I used to think of Shoujo manga as something of a guilty pleasure. Then I started to wonder why. After all, it’s not like I’m ashamed to read it. I enjoy it and it’s fun, so who cares.

Anyway, today I’m going to share with you by favorite Shoujo manga.

I think Vampire Knight has got to be my favorite of them all. Years ago, when this first came out and the anime was being released I really wanted stuff to do with vampires. Like any kind of media involving vampires. Lo and behold, I found the anime online, watched it and then started collecting the manga. It satisfied that craving and then some. I love both Zero and Kaname!

Fruits Basket is a very close second to Vampire Knight. If I remember correctly, I saw a couple episodes of the anime at Animethon one year and loved it. I bought the anime and have watched it several times. Of course, the anime didn’t cover the whole of the manga so I had to buy that too to get the whole story. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. This one is just GOOD!

I don’t entirely remember how I came across Black Bird. I think I found it randomly in the bookstore. To my knowledge, there isn’t an anime adaptation of it. This one pushes things in a bit of a more x rated direction but it’s still meant for teenage girls so it doesn’t go too far.

This one was recommended to be by a bookstore employee while I was browsing around. Honestly, I can’t remember all that much about it other than really liking it.

Alice in the Country of Hearts is, of course, an Alice in Wonderland type story, just a lot more violent. I mean, the Mad Hatter is actually a mafia boss. It is weird and crazy and a lot of fun.

I think Kamisama Kiss might be another one that I saw a few episodes of at Animethon. Once again, the anime adaptation didn’t cover all of the manga so I collected all of that as well. Such a good story, though I don’t totally know how I feel about the ending, even now.

Bride of the Water God is actually Korean not Japanese, but I think it belongs here anyway. The artwork in this one is pretty amazing. Sadly, it looks unlikely that the last volumes will be published in English.

Ouran High School Host Club is another that I saw the anime first and bought the manga to know the rest of the story. It is very funny and a fun read.

Say I Love You is yet another one that I saw the anime first and needed the manga to get the rest of the story. The manga and the anime differ a fair amount, with the manga leaning more towards sex related stuff. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it was a bit of a shock to me after watching the anime.

I’m rounding this off with Inu x Boku. It’s a bit hard to say that I liked this one, which is why it’s at the end. The relationship between the two main characters is NOT healthy and sometimes a little disturbing in the “obsession” kind of way.

Well, those are my favorite Shoujo manga that I have read so far in my life. Have you read any of these? Which are your favorite? Recommend me some of your favs in the comments.

And as always, thanks for reading!

2023 Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

I came across this tag on Warm Days Will Never Cease’s blog and thought I would do it myself.

Best Book You’ve Read This Year?

I haven’t been reading as much this year so there may be a lot of duplication happening here. The best book I’ve read this year so far is Rose Madder by Stephen King. A much older book but really good.

Best Sequel You’ve Read?

Hmm, I think Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier was probably the best sequel. It did a great job of wrapping up a trilogy and Fainne was my favourite character in that series.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To?

I’m not really up to date on new releases as I’m trying to get through books I’ve had for years, but the latest books in the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year?

Like I said above, I’m not up to date on new releases so I don’t actually know what’s coming out this year.

Biggest Disappointment?

Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. The main character in this novel had been set up in a certain way in the previous two books and this one just subverted all that.

Biggest Surprise?

Hmm, maybe Rose Madder. This was a book my roommate recommended I read and I knew nothing about it going in.

Favourite New-To-You or Debut Author?

J.V. Hilliard. I read by his debut novel The Last Keeper and the sequel Vorodin’s Lair. Both were excellent.

Newest Fictional Crush?

I don’t have one

Book That Made You Cry?

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier. A beloved character from the first book passed away and it was very sad.

Book That Made You Happy?

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. There were a lot of struggles in the this novel for the main characters and the ending just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Favourite Book-To-Film Adaptation?

I haven’t see any this year

Favourite Post You Have Done This Year?

Probably my post Fantasy Novels with (Almost) no Sex in Them. It was something I’d been thinking about for awhile.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year?

I’ve only bought two so I guess the Black Jewels book I picked up. I actually can’t remember which one I bought lol

What Books Do You Need To Read By The End of the Year?

Nothing is ever set in stone. I generally choose what to read based on my current mood so I will see how I feel going forward.

5 Fantasy Series I Will Never Stop Recommending

We’ve all seen those threads in one place or another on the internet when the poster is looking for recommendations. We all have those books that we always recommend and here are my top 5!

Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey is an amazing series. It is made up of 3 trilogies and if you only read one I’d highly suggest Phaedre’s trilogy. It is by far the best.

There is some graphic sexual and violent content that some readers may not like.

The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop is another series that I adore. The magic system is unique and the characters can be quite intense. Anne Bishop is an author that I will auto buy her books without knowing anything about them.

The Witches of Eileanan series by Kate Forsyth is one that I read near the end of high school and it has stuck with me to this day (over 20 years later lol). I may not remember all the details but I remember how much I enjoyed it at the time.

The Sirkara trilogy by Laura Resnick is one that I really resonated with me when I read it. In this world, people with red hair and/or green eyes are persecuted as they are believed to be evil. I have red hair so I felt this.

Also, Tansen is amazing.

I bought the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks for a friend of mine and she passed it around her friend group. As far as I know most of them didn’t read fantasy novels, but they all loved it.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read it so I can’t think of much to say, so just read it. It’s amazing, I swear!

The order I put these books in does not a ranking of any sort. I love and recommend all these books for lovers of fantasy.

Have you read an of this? Which are your favorites? What are books you always recommend?