My Favorite Things: Time Traveling Historians, Claustrophobic Horror, Cheap Ebooks and Magic Wands

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week includes time travel antics, a horror film filled with the best twists and turns, a great website for finding cheap ebooks, and your very own magic wand.


Nu’s Favorite Thing is… Don’t Breathe!


My favorite thing is the horror movie Don’t Breathe. Yes, folks, the horror genre is alive and kicking. This movie knocked Suicide Squad out of the #1 spot and it continued to hold that spot for two weeks. Don’t Breathe was a refreshing, unflinching take on the genre. The movie focuses on three young burglars who break into a blind man’s home to steal his money, but since there are so many twists and turns, I don’t want to give away too much. You have to see them for yourself! Director Fede Alvarez turns the man’s home into something catastrophic, creepy, and terrifying. Stephen Lang as The Blind Man reminded me the Terminator and the Tall Man. And trust me, the movie lives up its name! There were quite a few breathless moments as I watched.


Venessa’s Favorite Thing is… Storybundle!


If you like books and you haven’t heard of StoryBundle, then you’re missing out on some cool deals! StoryBundle features curated collections of ebooks which are usually, but not always, based on genre. In November, they do a National Novel Writing Month bundle, which always has a lot of great books on the craft of writing. You pay what you want for the bundle, but if you pay a certain amount (usually $15 or $20), you get a whole set of bonus books that will usually double your haul!

One of the other things that I love about StoryBundle is that you can choose to allow 10% of your purchase to go to charity. Their current charity is Girls Write Now, which is a great organization that helps girls in underprivileged areas develop writing skills so that they have a better chance of achieving success in the future.

As I write this, StoryBundle has two deals: Weird Westerns and Truly Epic Fantasy. You can get authors like Michael Stackpole, Brandon Sanderson, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. StoryBundle is a great way to try a new genre or new authors without spending a lot of money. I check StoryBundle every week or two, just to see what’s available. It’s a very efficient way to build up your To Be Read pile!


JL Gribble’ Favorite Thing is… The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Series


Time travel is a time-honored (pun not intended) staple of the science fiction genre, so it was a delightful surprise to find a series of novels that stood out from the mold. “Historians who use time travel to investigate the past” is a trope that has been done before…but not in the delightful way found in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series, by author Jodi Taylor.

From the beginning, every reader expectation is tossed on its head, from the attitude and appearance of the narrator (snarky and unapologetically full-bosomed) to the approach to using time travel as historical research (when was the last time a society like that had to worry about things like funding and performance reviews?) to the fantastically twisty approach the author has to plot structure. Finally, someone writing time travel who remembers that time isn’t a “non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more of a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff” (to borrow a description from an expert in the field).

I’ve only read the first two so far, Just One Damned Thing After Another and A Symphony of Echoes. Each novel made me both laugh and cry! Book 3, A Second Chance, is sitting on my nightstand, and I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series.


Nicole’s Favorite Thing is… Gipson Wands!


I found Gipson Wands by accident. I was following the KC Comic Con twitter feed, and saw that the creator, Scott Gipson, would be attending. Naturally I had to peek at his website.

I adore the fact that this gentleman can make a living selling wands. Every wand is hand made and there are dozens of different wood types to choose from. You’ll find everything from rich black walnut to bright sassafras and more. No two wands will be the same. Even better? They’re not as expensive as you might think. They’re certainly less than the plastic ones sold in the stores. And you are getting your wand. The funny thing is, when you do make your choice, the wand really does fit the witch or wizard. I stood there for maybe 10-15 minutes debating. At one point Mr. Gipson said, “I have more,” and brought out a bundle of wands varying in every color, shape, and style you could want.

I have to say, there’s something very magical about seeing someone bring out a plethora of wands to show you. I wanted darker wood, but could not stop staring a lovely 15 inch hickory with notches in it like finger bones fitting together. Not only do you get a wand, but you also receive a certificate of authenticity and a laminated Registered Wand Carrier Permit as issued by the Magical Congress of the United States. Little touches like these make everything even better. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to display them and my wand (which I do occasionally pick up and wave around).

Fun fact? I’d actually seen my wand being made before on Instagram, but it wasn’t until Speculative Chic launched that I rediscovered it.

Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments.


  • Shara White September 26, 2016 at 7:07 am

    J.L.: the initial description of Jodi Taylor’s books remind me of Connie Willis’ time-traveling historians (though there’s different characters per book). Did you ever read DOOMS DAY BOOK or, in a completely lighter vein, TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG?

    • steelvictory September 26, 2016 at 8:09 am

      I haven’t, though I’ve heard of both. There’s so much bad time travel fiction out there that I’ve only started making an effort recently to search out the good stuff. Until now, alternate history was always more to my interest.

      • Shara White September 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

        I’d highly recommend either of the two books I mentioned. DOOMS DAY BOOK was my very first Willis, and I adored it. I would, however, caution against BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR until you’ve read more of her work. While the duology has its moments, I found those two books needed a heavier editorial hand for content and structure.

        • Nancy O'Toole Meservier September 26, 2016 at 9:23 am

          Willis’s Bellwether- although not a time travel book- is also completely charming.

          • Shara White September 26, 2016 at 10:04 am

            Yes! I adored that book! I’m also a fan of THE PASSAGE but that isn’t time travel either, and it’s far more serious.

  • sharonpatry September 26, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Oooh, missed Don’t Breathe when it was out. Good to know you enjoyed it so much, Nu! Something to look forward to when they release it to download!

    • Shara White September 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Sharon, I think it’s still available. I know one of my local theaters was showing it.

  • Venessa.G September 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Oh man… Don’t Breathe looks awesome. That is definitely going on my To Be Watched list!


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