Countdown 4: Top 5 Stand Alone Fantasy Reads

FOUR weeks to go! The countdown to Wyrd & Wonder* 2022 continues. Wyrd & Wonder starts May 1, and I’m getting ready by posting some of my favorite Top 5s fantasy reads. This week, I’m sharing my Top 5 Stand Alone Fantasy Reads.

*Not sure what Wyrd & Wonder is? Check out this post first.

Fantasy, more often than not, seems to give rise to series. It seems like every fantasy book I’ve picked up lately is at least a duology. While I love a good series and the ability to take a deep dive into a world, sometimes it’s also nice to have a stand alone book and not get to the cliffhanger at the end and realize there’s another book. (Why hello Skyhunter.) It’s especially distressing when I discover a series, realize it isn’t complete, and then have to anxiously await the next installment. Typically, it takes one to two years for the next book to be published (unless the author is a writing machine like J.D. Robb). But in some cases, it takes decades for the next book to drop. (I’m looking at you Pat Rothfuss!)

So it’s awesome to pick up a book, enjoy it, and not have to worry about when the sequel will be published. And despite the numerous fantasy series I have read and loved, I have found some wonderful stand alone fantasy books, no waiting required. So in no particular order, I present . . .

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Pairing Puzzles With Books

As I completed my latest puzzle today, the mushroom images made me think of a book about fungi on my TBR bookcase. When I went to put the puzzle in one of puzzle cases (basically a bookcase that I’ve converted for puzzles), I looked at some of my other puzzles and started thinking about which puzzles could go with which books. I’ve seen Instagrammers pair puzzles and beverages and bookstagramers have paired books with all sorts of things from dresses to food to other books. So I thought hey, why not pair puzzles with books. (Seriously, this was pretty much my exact thought process.) And voilá! I came up with a whole list of puzzle and book pairings.

It makes me so happy when two hobbies collide in such a delightful way. Booknerds & Puzzlers unite!

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Wyrd & Wonder Countdown: Top 5 Fantasy Reads Since Last May

A couple of years ago I stumbled across something called Wyrd & Wonder. Wyrd & Wonder is an annual geek-out of people who love all things fantasy hosted by Lisa, Jorie, and imyril. The month of May is dedicated to celebrating fantasy books, movies TV shows, games, and more, and the fun includes read-alongs, interviews, memes, gaming, and more.

I joined the fun in 2020 and wrote one of my all-time favorite posts on A Few of My Favorite (Fantasy) Things.

This year, Wyrd & Wonder turns 5. And there just happens to be 5 weeks before May 1. To celebrate this 5th Wyrdiverisary, I’m doing 5 countdown posts to Wyrd & Wonder. I’m starting off the countdown with my Top 5 Fantasy Read since last May.

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March On

Sometimes I write the post and then I have to think about what the title should be. Other times, a title will pop into my head, and then I have to figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

This is one of the latter times. This title, March On, popped into my head the other day when I was walking. I often have some of my best thoughts when I’m outside walking. Fresh air and sunshine combined with my heart pumping often spur my brain into action. (Seriously, the power of walking to think is a real thing.) The downside is that I’m walking. I never have pen or paper with me. Nothing convenient to write down what I am sure are rather brilliant thoughts.

I really should plan better and maybe get a small fanny sack to carry a pen and paper.

But I digress.

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The Agony and the Ecstasy of Reading

Have you ever put off reading a book because you really want to love it but worry that it won’t live up to your expectations?

I have.

I’ve held off reading various books for this exact reason. And sometimes when I finally read it, the book meets, even exceeds my expectations. But other times, the book just doesn’t live up to the hype.

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YA Books: To Read Or Not To Read?

Several of my recent reads have been categorized as Young Adult (YA). YA is not a genre, but a general categorization of books that encompasses all genres from horror and thriller to fantasy and romance. What makes a book a YA book is normally that the protagonist is between teen, as young as 14 or 15, to early 20s. Those young adult years.

The genesis of YA books started in the 1940s and 50s with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. But YA as a classification really started to gain traction in the late 1960s with the publication of The Outsiders, which not only features teenager protagonists but was written by a teen. S.E. Hinton started writing the book at age 15 and the book was published in 1967 when the author was 18.

YA books started flourishing in the 1970s and throughout the 80s and 90s. Authors started experimenting with genres and styles. YA series like Sweet Valley High and the Babysitters Club, and later Goosebumps, became staples of the YA category.

And yet despite the fact that I was avid reader of the Babysitters Club back in the day, I have since grown to loathe the classification of YA.

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Why Did I Think This Was a Good Idea?

Competing against other people has never really motivated me. But competing against myself? Yes, please! I love to challenge myself to do more, to go further (read more books – HA!).

In September, I challenged myself to walk at least 3 miles every day. And I did it! And then kept walking all through October and November.

This year, I’ve challenged myself, as I wrote about in my ongoing TBR saga (and again here), to read nearly 200 books (that I already own) before I buy another new one.

In addition to my self-imposed reading challenge quest, I also said I was challenging myself to get back into some sort of regular fitness schedule. I stated that I was going to rotate walking with rowing, swimming, and yoga. (On 1 January, I really did write that was going to do this.)

But before I knew it, I was looking at the last weekend of January and I realized that my intended fitness schedule fizzled before it had even begun.

Why?

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My Approach to Jigsaw Puzzles Part 2

On Monday, I started a new puzzle, Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter, a 1000 piece puzzle by Eurographics. Since I get questions on how I work puzzles, I explained and showed how I approach starting a puzzle.

But in that video, I only got as far as separating all the pieces with the border pieces ready to be put together. I didn’t explain how I work each puzzle section. And I promised to show the finished puzzle.

Well, I finished the puzzle today. But instead of just showing a photo of the completed puzzle, I decided to continue the video to show the various stages of my puzzle progress. From completing the border to putting in the last piece.

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