Sunday Lowdown #58

Bookish Notes:

I don’t have anything to share that I learned in school this week (we were learning about MARC records and I am thoroughly lost). Instead, I’m sharing two things with you.

#1) I’ve been reading and loving S.M. Reine’s books. I’m following along with her recommended reading list (found here). Because the author turned thirty on March 14 (just 30?!) she’s selling all of her Kindle books for 99 cents each (sale ends Monday morning!). This is a great deal, and if you want a book series that sucks you in, this is it. I’ve read six of her novels so far and haven’t been let down once.

#2) I realized something crazy just recently. Most of the amazing, fun, innovative books I’ve been reading all come from the same publisher. Ever since I quit taking ARCs I stopped caring about who published a book, but now I can’t ignore who keeps cropping up: Quirk Books. They’ve become my new instant-check-out books. Here are some great titles of theirs I’ve read or have on my TBR:

  • Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
  • Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss
  • Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
  • Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  • Those Obama/Biden buddy hero books
  • Those Miss Peregrine books
  • Literary Yarns by Cindy Wang (crocheting bookish characters)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • Lots of kids books about feminism (factual, crafting, play sets)
  • Turning Shakespeare’s works into pop songs or having Willy S. battle Darth Vader

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Although I made it 250 pages into Brad Gooch’s biography of Flannery O’Conner, I decided to stop reading when I realized I was frustrated by how abruptly he would change topics or introduce people with little context. Instead, I started reading The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor. It’s edited by Sally Fitzgerald, who gives excellent context to the letters and fills in confusing pronouns or clarifies who a person in O’Connor’s letter is with brackets. Thus, all my O’Conner reading led me to introduce the Flannery O’Connor short story read-along in May. I hope you’ll join me, even if you don’t have the book, even if you read only a story or two, some of which you can find on Google.

Thursday, I reviewed the second book in The Mage Wars trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, entitled The White Gryphon. A novel with loads of potential that isn’t carried out, Jackie and I appear to be questioning #ReadingValdemar a bit but are sticking to current plans.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

I really struggle with memoirs about substance abuse because they’re all sort of read the same: traumatic, vague, and hopeless. Yet, Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir by Janice Erlbaum caught my eye. She chose to live in a homeless shelter to escape her step-father’s temper, and from there she encountered other teens who tried to convince her she didn’t have it that bad. Erlbaum does engage with illegal substances and promiscuity, but the way she writes made this memoir shine. Review on Tuesday.

A rather short audiobook, The Witchcraft of Salem Village was one of Shirley Jackson’s few nonfiction books. It recalls the facts of the Salem witchcraft trials, which were both more dramatic and surprisingly simpler than I had thought. Review on Thursday.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

We finished True Grit by Charles Portis, and unfortunately all the “one book, one community” events tied to it have been cancelled. However, we plan to re-watch both the John Wayne and Jeff Bridges film adaptations. At the end of my library copy was an afterward by Donna Tartt that describes her relationship to the book and also clarifies Rooster Cogburn’s time with Quantrill during the Civil War.

Next up we’re reading My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris. It’s a choose-you-own-romance-plot book. It was recommended to me by Pages Unbound waaaay back in 2018. Published by Quirk Books!

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

Thanks to Emily for her recommendation!


  1. I love hearing about new and exciting things publishers are doing. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop accepting ARCs and caring who published what, but I love that you’ve discovered this little hub of innovation!

    Excited to read your review of Shirley Jackson’s witchcraft book too.


    • I used to really follow certain small presses, but once I stopped getting ARCs, it sort of felt like everything I read, no matter what, was coming from the same Big Five houses in NYC. I joined this press’s e-newsletter so I can hear about new books coming out. They also have children’s books that look cool. I wonder if you’ve read any of them!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was given several MARC sites that have the official guidelines, and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I think this section of the course is designed for folks who are more advanced or who wanted a brief intro to cataloging.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes DNF’ing a book is the best thing. There are so many other good books waiting for us. I apply the same concept to tea. Life is too short to drink bagged (bad) tea. 😂


  3. Thanks for the link, I hope you’ll enjoy The Song of Achilles as much as I did! 🙂
    I’m looking forward to your Flannery O’Conner read along, that’s one I’d like to participate in as much as I can. Also intrigued to see your upcoming Shirley Jackson review (and to catch up on the posts of yours I’ve missed this week). And I’m glad to hear S.M. Reine is working out so well for you! You’ve definitely piqued my interest with her books and I’m excited for your series review, especially seeing that NONE of her books have disappointed you!


    • I’ll be so happy to hear what you think about the O’Connor stories. Some of her work is so out there, but somehow I want to read more of it. Wise Blood almost reads like vignettes, and from what I’m reading in her biography, it sounds like that’s how she wrote them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will be very curious to see how you feel about Wonderland since my experience with it was luke warm at best. Then again, I read a lot of Horror, so it’s hard for a lot of books to live up to my enormously high standards. lol. I hope you like it better!

    And I have read Miller’s Circe and loved it! I bought Song of Achilles on a Kindle deal, just haven’t gotten to it yet.


    • I started listening to The Song of Achilles yesterday and am so glad I chose the audiobook version. The voice actor is perfect for the mood and characters.

      Did you read Baby Teeth? I enjoyed that one for the way every character seemed justified in his or her own way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did not read Baby Teeth and are this point I probably won’t? I didn’t not like Wonderland, but she did a couple things that felt very amateurish to me that I strongly disliked. One being when characters stutter. She wrote dialogue how it sounds in real life with erms and ums and stops and starts that end with —-. It hurts my brain to read.

        I also felt like the MC did not have any real agency in the situation and was not being decisive. Which made the character particularly annoying to read- but that’s more a personal thing I know.


    • Weirdly, there are some passage that we get to the end of and there is no choice. It just says, “turn to this page.” Most passages do have a choice, though! I’m almost wondering if this book is designed to make you read the whole thing no matter which choices you make.


  5. All the One Book, One Community events have been canceled?! They aren’t even doing any virtually in any shape?! That’s so sad! How will I learn what those corn things are then?! You were supposed to report back! Alack.

    I love your realization about Quirk Books. I loved Geekarella and I have a copy of the first Obama/Biden buddy cop books on my bookshelf. I read the first Miss Peregrine book and didn’t enjoy it that much. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies doesn’t really appeal to me either… but I’ll be looking into other books by them for sure. I could use more silliness in my life!

    I don’t think publishers get enough attention in blogging. Unless they do something extreme (I’m looking at you Macmillan) — I think we should highlight them more. particularly when we explore imprints! It can be easy to find consistently wonderful books if you find a specialized imprint. Like Tor (yes, I know, Macmillan) — I almost ALWAYS love every book Tor published. Why don’t I write about them more often? Hm. Something to ponder.


    • I feel like Tor totally has the market on fantasy. If I’m reading fantasy, I’m assuming Tor published it.

      I am bummed that all the One Book events are cancelled. The library pushed their opening date back to May 4th, and the One Book is supposed to be throughout April. I haven’t seen any conversations about a True Grit discussion group online, but I’m keeping my eyes open. It’s a wonderful book. The John Wayne film version is on Netflix right now, so we watched that the other night. I got mega goosebumps when he says my favorite line: “Fill your hands, you sonofabitch!” *swoon*

      Liked by 1 person

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