Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Cookie Book Tag (Batch 5)


It's December 25th, so Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has a great day. The year is almost over, and today we're going to do a book tag. (The only book tag we keep doing.) It has been a year to the day since Adri and I participated in the Cookie Book Tag for the fourth time. And today, we're going to do it again to see how our answers do and don't differ. Before we begin, here are the more technical details about the tag.

The Cookie Book Tag was created by Nicole @ Sorry, I’m Booked. And you can check out the original tag post here: Sorry, I’m Booked, The Cookie Book Tag.

The rules…
  • Link back to the person who tagged you + the creator of this tag 
  • Pick a book that corresponds with the cookies theme 
  • Have fun 
  • Tag 1-3 people

Chocolate Chip: A Classic Book That You Love or Really Enjoyed (interpret classic how you want, it can be a classic written 100 years ago or 20 years ago)

Breana: I have two books and one series as an answer to this question. There's Washington Square by Henry James, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and the entire Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (the John Ciardi translation).

Adri: My classic is really, what I assume to be, obscure. It's Tap Dance: A Beginners Guide by Trina Marx (1983).

Thin Mints: A Fandom That You Really Want to ‘Join’ AND/OR a Hyped-Up Book You Want To Read (your source(s) of a book being hyped can be from anywhere)

Breana: I'm going to go with The Keeper's Six by Kate Elliott. It comes out in January 2023, and I'm really excited for it.

Adri: I can't think of a fandom right now. As for hyped books, I’ve turned my attention to getting through books on my shelves.

Shortbread: An Author You Can’t Get Enough Of

Breana: I've read all of Katherine Arden's books (Winternight Trilogy & Small Spaces quartet), and Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Complex series is one of my favorites. For short fiction, some of my favorite authors are Eugenia Triantafyllou and Lavie Tidhar. 

Adri: Better Homes and Gardens Editors… Umm, does this count? I brought two used, old baking books, Complete Book of Baking, and Old-Fashioned Home Baking. I can't get enough of them! Actually I need try out more recipes, but I like the aesthetic.

Samoas/ Caramel DeLites: An Emotional Rollercoaster (this cookie was hard … so any book that made you feel more than one emotion, strongly. The choice of emotions is up to you)

Breana: Seanan McGuire's Middlegame. That book is the epitome of an emotional rollercoaster, and I was rooting for the main characters the entire time.

Adri: Sociology: Your Compass for a New World by Robert J. Brym and John Lie. It’s a bit older, but it was a ride.

Oreos: A Book Whose Cover Was Better Than The Story OR Vice Versa, Where The Story Was Better Than Its Cover

Breana: I don't really have a good answers for this question. I mean, the book cover for the US edition of A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross is kind of simple, but it's a perfect fit for the novel. I don't have any criticism about it, because the story was excellent. 

Adri: Inside Tap by Anita Feldman. I like the cover, and it fits, but it is simple. The inside is valuable. I like the layout and am having fun working with it.

Tagalongs/ Peanut Butter Patties: A Book That Wasn’t What You Expected (good, bad, or just different, interpret how you wish)

Breana: Meet Me by the Fountain An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange. It's one of my favorite nonfiction reads of the year, but, going into it, I wasn't sure what to expect. That being said, it provided a lot of information about the history of malls, much of it I wasn't aware of. 

Adri: Breana already read Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey, but I really didn't know what to expect when I got into for myself. Nonetheless I loved it.

Snickerdoodles: A Book You May Never Stop Rereading/ Loving

Breana: I don't have much time to reread anything right now, but, if I did, I would go with The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo and The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd.

Adri: Inside Tap, again, because it is a tutorial book after all. But like I said above, I love the layout.

Bonus: Choose a cookie I didn’t list and make up a question!

Our question from 2018: Monster Cookies have bold flavors and a long and varied list of ingredients such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, peanut butter, oats, and even sometimes raisins. It’s like a handful of cookie types mashed into one monster of a cookie. So… Monster cookie: name a book with a bold and whimsical title or a book title with four or more words.

Breana: This one is easy: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo. The Singing Hills Cycle just has great titles.

Adri: Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley.

That's it for today. We tag you to do the cookie book tag to see how your answers differ (if you've done it before). If you're curious about our original take on the tag and our second, third, and fourth try at it visit the posts HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE

Friday, December 23, 2022

Break Notice

It's time for our annual break from blogging. All weekly memes are on hold till January, and any posts that appear after this were scheduled at a prior date. We'll still be around on Instagram, Goodreads, etc. Also, you can now follow us again on Tumblr. Visit Our Thoughts Precisely (Extra). Until then, see you all in the New Year, and happy reading!


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

2022 Favorites Part 2: Movies, TV Shows, & Music

Welcome to the second part of my Favorites of 2022 post. Today, I’m going to talk about my favorite movies, TV shows, and albums of the year.

I’ve been enjoying a lot of older TV shows and movies in 2022. Murder She Wrote, Agatha Christie’s Marple, Hercule Poirot—weekly mystery staples. But, there’s also Svengoolie on Saturdays, which shows old science fiction and horror movies. On the other side, there’s stuff like the original Star Trek, MacGuyver, Knight Rider, Vega$, and Hawaii Five-O. I also watched The Matrix again, and I rediscovered how much I loved it.

Some other stuff includes the yearly cooking competitions, as well as Abbott Elementary. The latter is such a fun series to watch, and each episode usually gets a laugh out of me. I also finally saw Encanto, and that movie was just charming. Then there was Sonic 1 and 2, and they were just as good as I thought they were going to be.

Most of what I watched tended to be on Netflix though, but, in my defense, they had a lot of good series and movies come out in 2022. The Adam Project was an action flick with a strong science fiction element and great visuals. The Curse of Bridge Hollow was spooky and funny. Wendell & Wild was an easy favorite for me. And I loved the stop-motion animation, music, and story. I’m a little behind with The Cuphead Show!, but the first season was so charming and the visuals basically identical to the game, it’s easily one of my favorite shows of the year. Then I checked out Mr. Midnight: Beware the Monsters, and, wow, it was so good that I ended up binging all of the episodes. Lastly, I watched a romantic-comedy called Business Proposal. It was so funny, and the characters were fantastic.

Moving on to music, my top-favorites were: Renaissance by Beyoncé, Special by Lizzo, Caprisongs by FKA Twigs, Dawn FM by The Weeknd, Traumazine by Meghan Thee Stallion, and Dirt Femme by Tove Lo. Some pleasant surprises were Rina Swayama’s Hold The Girl, Taylor Swift’s Midnights, The Gods We Can Touch by Aurora, and Motordrome by MØ. Some other good ones were Harry’s House by Harry Styles, Hypnos by Ravyn Lenae, and Tierra Whacks three very short Eps (Rap?, Pop?, and R&B?). Then there was Remi Wolf’s 2021 debut album, Juno, which was fantastic. And, finally, Magdalena Bay released a deluxe version of their album, Mercurial World, which added a lot to the original.

**Note: I Listened To and What I’ve Been Watching posts can be found under the Thought Corner label.**

So that’s all on my end. What were some of your 2022 favorites?

Monday, December 19, 2022

Music Monday: Christmas Edition


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: With our break from blogging and the end of the year approaching, it's time for the Christmas edition of Music Monday! Today, we're sharing more festive music.

My pick is I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

My second pick is one of my favorite songs from The Polar Express, also called The Polar Express performed by Tom Hanks. I love that movie. Happy Holidays!

Adri: This year I tried to find holiday music by artists that aren't already on my playlist. (Well, I think I did a decent job.) This week I'm listening to Let It Snow and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Oleta Adams. Happy holidays!

Andrea: Hi All! As you all know, this is my favorite time of the year. To get into the holiday spirit I'm listening to I Can Hardly Wait Till Christmas by The O'Jays, Silver Bells by A Few Good Men, and Give Love On Christmas Day by Johnny Gill. Until next time, have a wonderful Christmas! 



What are you listening to this holiday season?

Friday, December 16, 2022

Short Stories I Read In November

Since I’m going to be on break from blogging in the latter half of December, I decided to post my monthly short story post a bit early. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in November.

Ineffective by Ken Poyner (Strange Horizons; Issue 17 October 2022)

The first thing I tackled in November was a piece of poetry on Strange Horizons called Ineffective by Ken Poyner. This poem feels very for-the-times, but I liked it. The way it was written was great with “light” as a metaphor in a poem that’s clear about its approach to climate and capitalism.

The Lonely Time Traveler of Kentish Town by Nadia Afifi (Clarkesworld; Issue 194—November 2022)

And my next (and last) short fiction read in November was a novelette called The Lonely Time Traveler of Kentish Town. This is the first story I’ve read by Nadia Afifi, and I was hooked by the first paragraph. It featured a pretty unique version of time travel, and I liked the way it was woven into the timely commentary at the center of the story. Overall, The Lonely Time Traveler of Kentish Town was an excellent read!

From around the web…

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

2022 Favorites Part 1: Books & Short Stories

As the year winds down, it’s finally the right time to do a favorites post for 2022. This year, I'm splitting the post into two parts, starting with books and short stories.

I read so many good books in 2022. While the number might not be as high as some years, the quality is what counts.

My favorite middle grade novels were Monsters In the Mist by Julianna Brandt, Shadow Grave by Mariana Cohen and Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden. As for romance, I didn’t really reach much this year besides Partners In Crime by Alisha Rai—a rom-com with an organized crime twist. (I had a lot of fun with that one!) Nonfiction was in the same boat, and my two main reads were Daughters of Chivalry by Kelcey Wilson-Lee—a book about Edward I’s daughters—and Meet Me by the Fountain by Alexandra Lange (a comprehensive look at the history of malls).The classics I tackled included Washington Square by Henry James (I had to read it after I saw the movie adaptation), A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and the entire John Ciardi translation of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

Then there were the sequels. Holiday Heroine by Sarah Kuhn—the Heroine Complex books are always a delight. Another one was the second book in The Cambridge Bookshop series called A Treacherous Tale by Elizabeth Penny. It was one of two cozy mysteries I read and liked, with the second being Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow. And last, but certainly not least, I finally read We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal (it was a good end to one of my favorite duologies).

I also checked out Middle Game, which is one of my favorite Seanan McGuire novels to date.

But, most of my reads tended to be fantasy or fantasy adjacent (with some magical aspects) though. I expected it since it is my favorite genre. On the lighter side, there was the spectacular The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd and All The Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie. A spooky and funny suburban paranormal comedy called Suburban Hell by Maureen Kilmer. The magical A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross, and its sequel A Fire Endless. And a pair of excellent novellas: The Empress of Salt and Fortune, and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain.

Moving on, I wanted to list (and link to) my favorite short stories of the year. 
**Note: You can check out the Short Story tag at the bottom of the latest post to see my thoughts about them, or search "Short Stories" in the sidebar.**

So, that was just about all the books and short stories I read this year. In part 2, I’m going to go into my favorite albums, TV shows, and movies. See you then!

**Note: there are HarperCollins titles mentioned in this post. Be aware that their workers are currently on strike. And any outstanding reviews I have will be held until the strike is over. For more information about it, visit the strike's twitter page HERE** 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Music Monday (225): Tkay Maidza, Angela Lansbury, Luther Vandross


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Continuing with last week's theme, I picked another holiday song to share. This one is by one of my favorite artists, Tkay Maidza, and it's called Nights In December.

Adri: This week I'm listening to Mrs. Santa Clause by Angela Lansbury. It's from a film of the same name thats free to watch on Youtube right now. I've never heard of the movie before so I'm going to go check it out.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Every Year, Every Christmas by Luther Vandross. Have a great week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, December 9, 2022

What I've Been Watching

I wanted to do one more What I’ve Been Watching post before the year was over, because October and November were busy months in terms of TV and movie releases. Here’s everything I’ve watched.

Cooking Competitions
  • Every year, I really enjoy the holiday specific baking competitions that are aired on Food Network. The Halloween ones are a particular favorite of mine, but I also enjoy the Christmas ones too.
Wendell & Wild (Netflix, 2022)
  • I love stop-motion animation, and when I heard about this project (plus Henry Selick and Jordan Peele’s involvement with it), suffice it to say, I was hyped. Wendell & Wild was fantastic. The animation was stylish and fit the tone of the movie. It was spooky and fun, combined with serious and somber topics. It was also a coming of age tale, following Kat Elliott's turmoil and guilt after the death of her parents. Her issues were real and hard-hitting, while the supernatural aspects added the eerie imagery and a slight comedic element that broke up some of the tension—especially with the titular duo, Wendell and Wild. The voice performances were great as well, and I really enjoyed the music. All-in-all, I had a great time watching this movie. I know it’s easily going to be another Halloween favorite that I revisit every year, just like Coraline.
Heroes & Icons
  • There is a channel I’ve gotten into lately (thanks Adri!) called H&I. I’ve been watching shows like the original Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, and Star Trek as well as Vega$ among others.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow (Netflix, 2022)
  • The Curse of Bridge Hollow arrived right on time for Halloween. I liked this one. The comedic moments arrived at the perfect times, and it made me laugh. The story—while simple with Halloween decorations brought to life by accident—was enjoyable, particularly because it had a great cast. I also liked the overall messaging.
Mr. Midnight: Beware the Monsters (Netflix, 2022)
  • I love stuff that incorporates folklore and magic as well as mystery, adventure, and comedy. And, Mr. Midnight checked all the boxes. It was so good! The supernatural occurrences were episodic with an overarching plot that continued till the end. The folklore and magic elements were pretty awesome. I loved the effects and the design of the spirits, other creatures, and the overall look and setting of the series. The characters were just as interesting too, and the connection developed between the main and reoccurring cast was one of the highlights. Everyone had a fully developed personality with their own goals, fears, and secrets—something that was embellished by the great performances of the actors. So even when the characters clashed, it made for interesting situations with a number of emotional and heartfelt moments. The dynamics between the core group—Tyar, Ling, Nat, and Zoe—who were collectively Mr. Midnight, was fun. There was plenty of camaraderie (and friendship) between them, which was also tied-up with the supernatural occurrences they ultimately got involved with. All-in-all, I really enjoyed this series, and I ended up binge watching all thirteen episodes.
Business Proposal
  • In November, I decided to check out a Korean romantic comedy called Business Proposal, which was in my Netflix recommendations. I haven't read the webtoon it's based on, but that didn't stop me from watching it. It's an office romance, and I loved this series! I laughed so much at the antics of the characters, the situations they found themselves in, and the bright and colorful comical effects that sometimes appeared in the background. It was ridiculous, heartwarming, and romantic. (Even the side characters had a lot going on.) I had a lot of fun watching this series!
So that’s some of what I’ve been watching. There’s even more stuff that came out, which I haven’t gotten around to yet. But, since my break from blogging is coming up, I expect to do another one of these posts early in 2023. What have you been watching?

Monday, December 5, 2022

Music Monday (224): Tinashe, Faith Hill, Stephanie Mills


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: It's finally December, and I have an excuse to talk about holiday music. To start the month, I revisited one of my favorite Christmas-themed album: Comfort & Joy by Tinashe. Check out Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Adri: Hey, this week I'm listening to White Christmas by Stephanie Mills.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill. Have a great week!

What are you listening to this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Short Stories I Read In October


It’s November twenty-ninth. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in October.

The Three Books and What They Tell by Alexandra Manglis (Lightspeed Magazine; Oct. 2022, Issue 149)

The first story I tackled in October was a piece of flash fiction called The Three Books and What They Tell by Alexandra Manglis. This story was beautiful. And, as its title suggests, it’s about three books. I liked what the author did by adding some fantasy elements into the descriptions about the substance of the books, and who their ideal readers are. All-in-all, this was a great story.

The Skinless Man Counts to Five by Paul Jessup (Apex Magazine; September 27, 2022)

The second story I read is called The Skinless Man Counts to Five by Paul Jessup. This was the perfect kind of read for October, because there was something so eerie and horrifying about the events as they unfolded. The first death was a warning. And from there the story spiraled into an apocalyptic nightmare set in space and aboard a generation ship that may or may not be about to fail. The isolation of the setting provided the perfect backdrop, and the lightning quick way the story was told kept me on the edge of my seat. It would be a page-turner, if there were pages to turn.

The First Morning In May by Rebecca Buchanan (Strange Horizons; Issue: 3, October 2022)

The third piece I read in October was some poetry from Strange Horizons. I am a sucker for almost anything that reads like a fairy tale, and The First Morning in May by Rebecca Buchanan fit the bill perfectly. It involved an elf and seven brides, and with the way it played out, I was reminded of certain aspects of the folktale Bluebeard. The writing was lyrical, and it accurately conveyed the inherent darkness within the framework of the poem.

The Portal Keeper by Lavie Tidhar (Uncanny Magazine; Issue Forty-Eight)

The next and last story I read was The Portal Keeper by Lavie Tidhar. I was interested in this one, because it seemed totally different from the Judge Dee stories. I loved it. The story was written like a daily log from October 1st to the 31st, and each entry showed a scene that was like an overview of the keeper’s day. So the title tells you what it’s about. But I also liked the exploration of the role of “portal keeper”—the loneliness of the job, the routine, but also the need for connection in a situation where encountering the fantastical (and sometimes dangerous) is the norm. There are a few recognizable references here, particularly for stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as well as Peter Pan.

From around the web…

Monday, November 28, 2022

Music Monday (223): Taylor Swift, Irene Cara


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I'm currently listening to Taylor Swift's latest album, Midnights. One of my favorite songs is Maroon.

Andrea: This week I'm listening to Flashdance What a Feeling by the late Irene Cara. RIP

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, November 25, 2022

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Title: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain
Series: The Singing Hills Cycle #2
Author: Nghi Vo
Source/Format: eBook Club; eBook
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date:; December 8, 2020

Goodreads     Barnes & Noble   

Synopsis from Goodreads...
The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.... Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune...

I enjoyed The Empress of Salt and Fortune so much, and I was eager to dive into its sequel, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain. I also already had a copy of it, because it was a eBook Club title a while ago, so there was basically no delay between when I finished the first and started the next.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain was just as engrossing and excellent as its predecessor. I really enjoy what Nghi Vo does with an embedded narrative, though the dynamics were shifted by the stark change in setting and the noticeable absence of Almost Brilliant. (I missed the neixin’s witty remarks!) But I didn’t mind it. The story was interesting not only because Chih doing most of the storytelling, but also for the addition of new characters, mammoths, and how great the story within the story was.

The tigers, in particular were fascinating. They were true to their nature and sufficiently terrifying in something of an antagonistic role—but also they were the catalyst that propelled the story in the direction it ultimately took. I genuinely enjoyed how Vo characterized them.

Overall, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain was the perfect weekend read, and I look forward to eventually reading the third book in the series.      

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Title: The Empress of Salt and Fortune
Series: The Singing Hills Cycle #1
Author: Nghi Vo
Source/Format: eBook club; eBook
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date:; May 24, 2020

Goodreads    Barnes & Noble   

Synopsis from Goodreads...
A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully. Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor's lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for. At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She's a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

I finally caved and read The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo. It’s been sitting on my tablet since I got it when it was one of’s eBook club titles. And one night, I read the first sentence and was hooked.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune was an engrossing tale about how the life of a girl from humble beginnings got tangled with that of an empress. It recounted their time in exile and everything that entails. It was a beautiful story. And the majority of it is an embedded narrative, with a character (Rabbit) telling another character (Chih, a cleric, and Almost Brilliant, a neixin) their story.

This is one of my favorite storytelling conventions, and when it’s done well it can have an excellent effect. Each part of the story within the story in The Empress of Salt and Fortune was contained in respective chapters. I really enjoyed the format because of how much space it gave the present characters to interact, while also correlating their conversations—and the clues within the setting—to the history being imparted by Rabbit. The characters were, after all, what helped make the story so interesting. Chih and Almost Brilliant were favorites from the start, and Rabbit’s voice easily stole half the stage. All three propelled the story forward.

The point of The Empress of Salt and Fortune can be summed up by one of its earlier passages:

“Accuracy above all things. You will never remember the great if you do not remember the small.”—page 11.

And what a marvelous story it was!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Music Monday (222): Tove Lo, Ramsey Lewis


  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Tove Lo has an extensive backlist of music, and I have too many favorite songs to count. I wanted to mention another track from Dirt Femme. It's called Suburbia, and I've had it on repeat.

Adri: I've been trying to branch away from my playlist some more. So, today I'm listening to Tequila Mockingbird by Ramsey Lewis.

What are you listening to this week?

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