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Book Review Review

BOOK REVIEW: The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Published by Zando on September 13 2022
Genres: Thriller
Format/Pages: Hardcover, 256 pages
Available Formats: Hardcover, Audio, Ebook
Buy on Amazon
Warnings: Details in dead bodies/autopsies, Death/Murder

Rating: 2 out of 5.


A thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads.

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.


When I first heard Alaina from Morbid, I had immediately preordered it. I mean, she is an autopsy technician who wrote a murder mystery book?! Sign me up!

However, after months of waiting and my excitement grew, I was disappointed with the read.

The best way I can think of to describe these characters are that they were very stereotypical and exaggerated. There was a lot of potential for deep character development, but the characters are very flat with nothing to really connect or emphasize with.

Even for the characters that I thought I had some sense of their motives, some of the ways they were introduced were vastly different than just a page later. For example, one of the victims near the end went from being super ditsy and drunk in a bar to someone who knew what amalgamation means.

“You’d be surprised how many secrets the dead have told me.”

– Alaina Urquhart, The Butcher and the Wren

Most of the dialogue did not feel natural or like what someone would actually say:

“I really am sorry about the cream. I know you hate it when I leave the empty container in the fridge like an asshole,” Leroux asked sheepishly.

While I like dialogue that helps move the plot along, I think it is extremely overdone to the point where it was a bit distracting.

“What book was that? I’m looking for some good mindless reading.” said to a book that randomly fell out of a messenger bag. I get that the character was trying to make awkward small talk, but seriously?

On that topic, there were so many scenes where action was laking, notably in regards to where someone is location wise. I found myself asking, “hold on, when did that happen??” so often I lost count.

One page he would be watching from some monitors watching their conversation, the page flips and suddenly he is hiding in the bushes right next to them. I reread that page about 10 times trying to find when he moved, but it was never explained.

“But now Cal’s crooked smile haunts her once more”

– Alaina Urquhart, The Butcher and the Wren

Now, this book is not all negatives. The basic plot was intriguing and kept me reading – the twist surprised me (to be fair I’m always surprised).

I thought the dual perspective was an interesting addition. Although I think it could have been portrayed better I liked the contrast between the two storylines.


Characters: 3
Setting: 2
Writing: 1
Plot: 3
Enjoyment: 2


Overall, I wanted to love this book but I was quite disappointed. If you are wanting to read it, I would say read it, but if you have no prior want, I don’t think you’re missing anything.


3 Biggest Book Pet Peeves (+ 1 Bonus Reading Ick

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Here are some of my biggest book pet peeves (and a bonus reading ick!)

Thin Pages

This is going to be controversial, but I like to write in my books. (I actually prefer my books to look like they have been read, so crack those spines!) But I haven’t found a pen that 100% WON’T bleed through thin paper, which makes it hard to read when you turn the page.

Also, thin paper rips so easily. I like my books read, not ruined.

Photo by Tony Tran on Unsplash

Suuuuuupppeeeeerrrr Long Chapters

Long chapters bother me most when there are a lot of unnecessary, dragged-out descriptions. I appreciate the writer’s attention to detail, but I have a short attention span – I can’t spend pages on the background with no action.

In contrast, when chapters are so short there is not sufficient information or action, it feels like pointless fluff.


I’m not the best at noticing inconsistencies, but when I do (or more likely, they’re pointed out to me), I fixate on it. It’s hard to keep things straight when writing a book, or a series, so I understand not being able to catch every single thing.

But when it’s a BIG plot point or multiple simple things to keep consistent, it drives me nuts.

Photo by pparnxoxo on Unsplash


As for the reader ick, I’ll give you a scenario:

You are reading a book, whether that be at home, on the train, in a park, or in a coffee shop. Someone sees you and decides to come up to you.

They ask, “What are you reading?” You tell them.

They ask, “What do you think of it?” You say you like it so far, but you just started.

Turns out, they hate it! And they go on about exactly how much they hate it and what they hate about it.

All you are trying to do is read your dang book! Why so negative dude??

If it wasn’t clear, these are not deal breakers for me personally, just little tics I could do without if given the choice. And these are my own opinions.

So there you have it! Some of my Book Pet Peeves!


Why You Should Work In A Bookstore

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

My first paying job was at a bookstore (babysitting does not count in this instance – sorry!) I was a month or so shy of 16 and I had wanted a job for when I got my license and I would need a way to pay for all the fun I would have, right?

Luckily, I was able to get a job at a bookstore one town over. It was amazing – and I was devastated when 8 months later, we had to close and I had to get a new job.

Nearly 4 years later, I finally was able to work in another indie bookstore in my college town! Since starting working here, I was reminded of everything that I loved about working in a bookstore plus more, so I’m going to share them with you!


Upcoming Books

One big part of working at a bookstore is knowing what new books are being released. You can spend a bit of time browsing the shelves and when new books come in you get first dibs!

Additionally, you may get access to books BEFORE they are released to the general public through Advanced Reader Copies. These may not always be exactly how they will be finalized when officially published, but it is still neat to get a chance to read a book before it comes out!

Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash


Of course, one of the best perks is the employee discount! This will obviously vary depending on the individual store you work at, but any discount is a good one when you spend so much on books 🙂

Like-Minded People

If you are here, either reading this post, visiting Again She Wrote, or interested in working in a bookstore, I would feel comfortable saying you like books. And where do people who like books go? The bookstore obviously!

This means you get to interact with others who love to read and talk about books! Sure, you will get the people who don’t care to talk much, but I have had some fun, thoughtful conversations helping people pick out books that I feel they would love to read. And finding a book for someone is one of the best feelings I have ever felt.

Photo by Pauline Loroy on Unsplash

Reading is Research

There are so many books already being sold, let alone the additional new books published every week. Because of this, reading pretty much is research for your job!

You’re simply learning about new books so you can better help your customers. It doesn’t hurt that you enjoy it also!

Now it should be important to note that working at a bookstore doesn’t mean you get to sit and read all day, there is a lot more to it. However, I work at an indie bookstore in a small town, which is rarely busy on Monday afternoons.

Commonly, I’ll shelf read – where I’ll browse the shelves and make sure the books are in order and where they belong. Sometimes if it’s slow I’ll pick up a book and start reading a bit of it. Personally, I love to quickly read picture books since they are short, easy, and it helps to get to know what to recommend for our younger population.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


Unfortunately, it is not all rainbows and sunshine. Although the cons don’t outweigh the pros, they are notable.

Spending Your Paycheck

The downfall of knowing every book that’s coming out (and that discount!) means it can be hard to not get every book that looks good. Yes, reading is research, but there are still bills to pay!

Long Ass TBR

Being surrounded by books and constantly updating the system with new books means you get exposed to a lot of books. Great when you’re looking for your next read, but not so great when you already have a TBR longer than the constitution.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

You May Overhear Some… Unusual Things

You can overhear weird stuff anywhere, school, work, the doctors’, the park, the bank, etc, etc. But bookstores offer a little niche of weird things to overhear.

In fact, there is a book all about it: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores! I actually read this while working lol.

My all-time favorite thing I overheard was between a young boy and his mom:

Boy: “Why are there so many books?”
Mom: “Because it’s a bookstore.”
Boy: “THAT’s why it’s called a bookstore?!”

Sometimes they just are not hiring

Unfortunately, one of the worse things about working at a bookstore can simply be that they are not hiring.

I was incredibly lucky when I applied, and since I have been hired I have heard multiple people be turned away because they were no longer looking.

In this case, I highly recommend still going and supporting the bookstore you want to work at. Who knows, maybe they’ll be hiring in the future and they might like a friendly, familiar face!

Overall, my job at my little independent bookstore is the perfect job for me, and I adore it. Have you considered working at a bookstore? If you have, what was your favorite perk?

Reading List

7 New Spooky Books to Read this Halloween Season

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Photo by Alexia Rodriquez on Unsplash

Why hello there! After a short stint away (adjusting back to college was more time-consuming than originally planned), I’m back! And of course, seeing as it’s about to be October, I have to talk about spooky books… I mean, what else is there to talk about?!?!

But before we dive into that, I have some news… I started a NEW JOB at a BOOKSTORE!!! I know, it’s exciting, isn’t it?! It’s bringing me back to my roots 🙂

So, in the spirit (get it – spirit? haha) of things, here’s my list of 7 new and upcoming spooky books to add to your tbr to get in the Halloween spirit!

How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine

Release Date:
August 20, 2022

Alice Lawrence is the sole witness in her sister’s murder trial. And in the year since Claire’s death, Alice’s life has completely fallen apart. Her parents have gotten divorced, she’s moved into an apartment that smells like bologna, and she is being forced to face her sister’s killer and a courtroom full of people who doubt what she saw in the corn maze a year prior.

On the first day of the murder trial, as Alice prepares to give her testimony, she is knocked out by a Sidney Prescott look-alike in the courthouse bathroom. When she wakes up, it is Halloween morning a year earlier, the same day Claire was murdered. Alice has until midnight to save her sister and find the real killer before he claims another victim.


Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match by Sally Thorne

Release Date: September 6, 2022

For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor’s ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.

When her handsome scientific miracle sits up on the lab table, her hopes for an instant romantic connection are thrown into disarray. Her resurrected beau (named Will for the moment) has total amnesia and is solely focused on uncovering his true identity. Trying to ignore their heart-pounding chemistry, Angelika reluctantly joins the investigation into his past, hoping it will bring them closer. But when a second suitor emerges to aid their quest, Angelika wonders if she was too hasty inventing a solution. Perhaps fate is not something that can be influenced in a laboratory? Or is Will (or whatever his name is!) her dream man, tailored for her in every way? And can he survive what was done to him in the name of science, and love?


The Butcher and The Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Release Date: September 13, 2022

From the co-host of chart-topping true crime podcast Morbid, a thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads.

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.


Look out for a review of The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart in upcoming weeks!
Check back here to find the review!

Raising the Horseman by Serena Valentino

Release Date: September 6, 2022

The two-hundredth anniversary of the Headless Horseman’s legendary haunting of Sleepy Hollow is approaching, but Kat van Tassel wants nothing to do with the town’s superstitious celebrations. As a descendant of the original Katrina van Tassel, Kat knows she’s expected to fulfill her ancestor’s legacy by someday marrying her longtime boyfriend and running the prestigious family estate. But Kat dreams of a life outside Sleepy Hollow.

Then Kat meets Isadora, a new girl in town who challenges Kat to reexamine those expectations, opens her eyes to the possibility that ghosts are real, and makes her question who she truly wants to be . . . and be with.

When Kat is given the original Katrina’s diary, a new legend begins to take shape, one that weaves together the past and the present in eerie ways. Can Kat uncover a two-hundred-year-old secret, and trace its shocking reverberations in her own life, in time to protect what she truly loves?


The Gathering Dark: An Anthology of Folk Horror edited by Tori Bovalino

Release Date: September 6, 2022

A cemetery full of the restless dead. A town so wicked it has already burned twice, with the breath of the third fire looming. A rural, isolated bridge with a terrifying monster waiting for the completion of its summoning ritual. A lake that allows the drowned to return, though they have been changed by the claws of death. These are the shadowed, liminal spaces where the curses and monsters lurk, refusing to be forgotten.

Hauntings, and a variety of horrifying secrets, lurk in the places we once called home. Written by New York Times bestselling, and other critically acclaimed, authors these stories shed a harsh light on the scariest tales we grew up with.

Included Authors: Alex Brown, Olivia Chadha, Chloe Gong, Courtney Gould, Shakira Moise, Aden Polydoros, Allison Saft, Erica Waters, Hannah F. Whitten


No Gods for Drowning by Hailey Piper

Release Date: September 20, 2022

The old gods have fled, and the monsters they had kept at bay for centuries now threaten to drown the city of Valentine, hunting mankind as in ancient times. In the midst of the chaos, a serial killer has begun ritually sacrificing victims, their bodies strewn throughout the city.

Lilac Antonis wants to stop the impending destruction of her city by summoning her mother, a blood god—even if she has to slit a few throats to do it. But evading her lover Arcadia and her friends means sneaking, lying, and even spilling the blood of people she loves.

Alex and Cecil of Ace Investigations have been tasked with hunting down the killer, but as they close in—not knowing they’re hunting their close friend Lilac—the detectives realize the gods may not have left willingly.

As flooding drags this city of cars and neon screaming into the jaws of sea demons and Arcadia struggles to save the people as captain of the evacuation team, Lilac’s ritual killings at last bear fruit, only to reveal her as a small piece in a larger plan. The gods’ protection costs far more than anyone has ever known, and Alex and Cecil are running out of time to discover the true culprit behind the gods’ disappearance before an ancient divine murder plot destroys them all.


The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce

Release Date: October 4, 2022

When two former friends reunite after decades apart, their grudges, flawed ambitions, and shared obsession swirl into an all-too-real echo of a terrible town legend.

Centuries ago, beautiful young Ilsbeth Clark was accused of witchcraft after several children disappeared. Her acquittal did nothing to stop her fellow townsfolk from drowning her in the well where the missing children were last seen.

When author and social media influencer Elena returns to the summer paradise of her youth to get her family’s manor house ready to sell, the last thing she expected was connecting with—and feeling inspired to write about—Ilsbeth’s infamous spirit. The very historical figure that her ex-childhood friend, Cathy, has been diligently researching and writing about for years.

What begins as a fiercely competitive sense of ownership over Ilsbeth and her story soon turns both women’s worlds into something more haunted and dangerous than they could ever imagine.


There you have it, my list of 7 new books (most are on my own personal spooky season tbr!) What a book on your spooky list, share it in the comments!

Book Tags

A-Z Book Survey Tag

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

A-Z Book Survey Tag

Hello there! I thought it would be cool if you (yes you!) knew a little bit more about Emma (that’s me!), the person behind the words you see! Since this is a literary blog, I went searching for a set bookish related questions to answer so you can get a feeling of me and my preferences.

In that search, I discovered the A-Z tag on ZeeZee with Books, however the original creator was Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner if you want to go check them out!

With much anticipation: the A-Z Book Tag!

A – Author you read the most books from:

I can’t recall one specific author I read much more than others, but I do enjoy Ruta Sepetys books!

B – Best Sequel Ever:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyers

I wouldn’t name it the best sequel ever, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.

C – Currently Reading:

Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich by Laura A Adams

To stay the most up to date on my current reads, friend me on Goodreads or follow the Instagram!

D – Drink of choice while reading:

I don’t have a preference, but usually it would be water or Mr Pibb.

E – E-reader or Physical Book:

While I love the feeling of having a physical book in my hand, I love how portable my kindle is, making reading on the go much easier!

F – Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Honestly, I didn’t really date in High School, so I don’t feel like there is a character that I would have dated. However, I would have totally had a crush on Jem from The Infernal Devices.

G – Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

I’m going to switch this up slightly by stating a genre of books, and that is non fiction. I used to hate reading non fiction, but lately I have find myself picking out more non fiction that fiction books to read!

H – Hidden Gem Book:

Ashes of Roses by MJ Auch

I read this in 8th grade for our historical fiction unit and I absolutely fell in love with it. It is the first book I remember pulling an all nighter to finish.

I – Important moment in your reading life:

I’m going to switch this one up a bit as well with an important moment in my writing life. And that would be when I decided to take Creative Writing my sophomore year of high school!

I had an amazing teacher (who is still supporting me years later! Shout out to Mrs Trier!). The creative writing classes with her were what helped me to see that I could actually do what I love!

J – Just finished:

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives, Inspiration, and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers by Hannah K. Chapman and Lauren Burke, Illustrated by Kaley Bales

K – Kinda of books you won’t read:

I like to think I’m pretty versatile when it comes to reading, I’m not completely opposed to any single genre. However, if I had to pick an answer, I would say I tend to not read books on agriculture, just don’t enjoy the topic much – weird for someone living in Iowa 🙂

L – Longest book you’ve read:

According to Goodreads, at 729 pages, the longest book I’ve read is:

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

M – Major book hangover because of:

I don’t remember the last book I became completely immersed in after finishing. I’ve been on a non fiction kick lately!

N – Number of bookcases you own:

1 cubby bookcase, 1 bookcase attached to my bed, and 6 additional shelves of books on my wall (plus another small cubby bookcase for my dorm!)

O – One book you have read multiple times:

The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen (this will not be the first time you will hear about this book on this blog)

P – Preferred place to read:

Cuddled in the corner of the couch with a blanket and my dog next to me. Although, lately my family has also been spending time just reading in our basement together and I quite enjoy that time also!

Q – Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“There is more to living than not dying.” 
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess

R – Reading Regret:

The first memory I have of Harry Potter was the graveyard scene in The Goblet of Fire. It terrified a young Emma, and so I had refused to read Harry Potter because I thought it was too scary. I regret that so much now that I actually watched and read them!

S – Series you started and need to finish (all books are out!):

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. I’ve read the first one, but haven’t gotten around to reading the second… even though I own it.

T – Three of your favorite all time books:

U – Unapologetic fangirl for:

The False Prince…. I told you.

V – Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

The Butcher and The Wren: A Novel by Alaina Urquhart coming September 2022! I listen to Morbid, Alaina’s true crime podcast and when I heard about her upcoming novel, I immediately pre-purchased it.

W – Worst Bookish Habit:

Buying more books when I don’t have the time to read them all.

X – X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Y – Your latest book purchase:

I JUST went to Barnes and Noble yesterday (at the time of writing this) and bought a few notebooks along with an anxiety workbook and God is Not One by Stephen Prothero, a book for one of my fall classes.

Z – ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The last time a book kept me up late was actually a college life hack book I was reading on my phone!

Monthly Reads TBR

What I Plan to Read in August | August TBR

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

What I Plan to Read in August | August TBR

Stuck on what to read next? Since it is a brand new (okay its been a week, but still new!) month, here are the 4 books I am planning on reading for the month of August. You are, of course, completely welcome to read this with me as well!

Why She Wrote
by Hanna K Chapman
and Lauren Burke

The Messy Lives of Book People
by Phaedra Patrick

Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

The Fountains of Silence
by Ruta Sepetys

Why She Wrote by Hannah K. Chapman and Lauren Burke

Why: A graphic novel about some of the greatest women who wrote in history? Sign me up! It was actually the question posed in the summary got me interested: in a time when being a woman writer often meant being undervalued, overlooked, or pigeonholed, why did she write?

Where I’m reading: local library

The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick

Why: Honestly, I forgot I had this book on hold from MONTHS ago and it finally became available… so of course I have to read it now!

Where I’m reading: libby app

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Why: I have been dying to see the movie, but I know I would regret not reading the book first. I like comparing how I imagine the characters to the film. How about you? Do you have to read the book first or can you just go straight to the movie?

Where I’m reading: bought from a local bookstore

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Why: This year I am doing the 52 Book Challenge created by Liz over at The 52 Book Club (highly recommend checking it out!). One of the prompts is Title Starting with “F”.

Where I’m reading: personal collection

Follow my Goodreads to stay the most up to date with what I am reading! And hey, I’ll probably friend you back 🙂

How To

How To Add a DNF Shelf on Goodreads

Photo by Mary Skrynnikova 💛💙 on Unsplash

One of, if not the most, popular tools among readers is the website, Goodreads. Goodreads allows users to track reading, rate books, connect with other readers and authors, and recommends books all in one place.

You can even create bookshelves to organize your books (Mine include audiobooks, book challenges, school books, summer reading, etc).

A new Goodreads account starts with three exclusive shelves, Want to Read, Currently Reading, and Read. Because these are mutually exlusive, books can only be on one of these shelves. Any book can be on an unlimited number of non-exclusive shelves.

In an earlier post, I had discussed why I believe it is important to DNF certain books, but how do you track these? One solution is to simply make a new shelf and label it DNF.

However, Goodreads requires a book to be in one of the original shelves as well, and a book I started but didn’t finish doesn’t really fit in those categories. Wanting to Read: I don’t really want to read it anymore. Currently Reading: I’m not. Read: I didn’t read it and I don’t believe it should count for my reading goal if I didn’t finish it.

The only seemingly valid answer: create a new Did Not Finish exlusive shelf. Here’s how I did it.


You’ll want to get to MY BOOKS on Goodreads. 

"My books" is located at the top left of the goodread's homepage
It should be noted that you have to do this on a web browser as opposed to the app.
"(edit)" is in the top left to the right of Bookshelves under the My Books header

When you get there, you’ll want to select the (Edit) next to Bookshelves


Create your “Did Not Finish” or another shelf name.

"Add" is to the right of the bar "add a shelf", additional information about exclusive shelves can be read to the right of the screen

When you are at this point, Goodreads also has a section on additional information about exclusive shelves!


Simply select the box marking your new shelf as exclusive!

Exclusive is the 3rd column of check boxes

And there you have it, it really is that simple! Oh and, while you’re at it, you might as well friend me on Goodreads here!

If you have any tips or tricks to Goodreads, let us know in the comments!


How to Read on a Budget

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Picture this: You drive to Barnes and Noble. You mind yourself “I am only here for 1 book (insert book you saw on booktok or bookstagram) and I will only be getting that 1 book”.

Of course, the book would be at the very back of the store. As you head over you walk by the New Arrivals and see one of your favorite author’s new book came out last week. You grab it, one extra book won’t hurt and you were going to get it later anyways.

Then you pass the classics and spot that one you keep saying you’ve been wanting to read is on sale. Maybe if you have it you’ll finally get around to it, so you grab it.

And the process repeats itself over and over again until you end up with 16 books, 3 cute notebooks you definitely won’t be writing in, and a tote that says My Weekend is All Booked. . .

Keeping up your book collection can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

Use Kindle Unlimited or other book subscriptions

While kindle unlimited costs $10 a month, you gain access to over 1 million titles of books, magazines, and audiobooks.

BONUS: Squeeze win extra reading times out and about by downloading the kindle app, available on IOS, Android, Mac, and PC!

Goodwill and Other Thrift Stores

It never hurts to check out the books donated at Goodwill or other thrift stores when you get a chance. I have gotten so many books in pretty decent conditions for as little as $1. My copy of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies I got for $1 and I found a word cloud copy Pride and Prejudice for $2 (at different times)!

Shop at Local and Used Bookstores

Shop at smaller, local or used bookstores. Used books are cheaper, yet just as good as a new book. I actually prefer getting my books used when I can. After all, the beat up books are the most read and loved.

Your Local Library

The easiest and probably best way to save money on reading is simply, utilizing the library. They will most likely have the book you want to read, especially if it’s a more popular book. Most libraries are apart of interlibrary loan where they can contact other libraries to borrow it from for you to read. The best part? Absolutely free, you just got to remember to return it on time!

Your library may also have accounts with apps for your phone. My personal library uses libby, which allows members to checkout ebooks and audiobooks!

Do you have any other tips to reading on a budget? Share them to help other book nerds on a dime!

Opinion Reading

Should You DNF Your Books? Here’s Why and Where to Go Next

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Christin Hume (Unsplash)

I used to believe that no book deserved to be DNF-ed; the author worked so hard, it would be considered a cruel punishment.

For those who are not aware, DNF stands for “Did Not Finish”. This abbreviation is used in multiple ways, races, projects, etc. To readers, it means they were not able to finish a book for one reason or another.

Again, I struggle with this. I hated admitting I couldn’t finish a book. In some twisted way, I was under the impression that it somehow diminished my status as a self-proclaimed “book nerd”. Instead of facing that, I decided it was better to make myself finish the book and drag my bored self through it.

Girl facing to the side with hair in a messy bun holds a book in front of her face while standing in front of a brick wall
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

When I Started

It was not until COVID-19 pandemic that the idea of DNF-ing a book became even plausible to me. Due to the subsequent quarantine, I was determined to read all the books I owned. I mean, when would I get another chance?

Over 2020, I found myself in reading slump after slump. All because I kept forcing myself to read this specific list of books and refusing to read any other. What used to be a fun, leisure, casual hobby had begun to feel like a chore, like reading for school (I’m looking at you, Lord of the Flies).

Especially the times when it seemed like I kept picking books I didn’t really like, which when you are in a slump… every book is not one you like. Ah, the curse of the book slump cycle.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any grand moment of realization that setting aside a book was acceptable, at least none that I can pinpoint. Yet I ended the year with a completely new view on the topic: I was under no obligation to read every single book in existence, let alone love and devour every single book I came across (que the gasp!). With 500,000 (even this a very low-ball estimate) books published each year, it simply is not possible.

So, When Should You DNF?

That being said, I don’t take the decision to DNF a book easily. I typically give the book about 60-100 pages, or about 1/3 of the way in before I think about it. Some of my favorite books have slow beginnings and still drew me in later on, so I try to give everyone the benefit. But if I just can’t get into it, or I find myself dreading the next time I plan to read, I’ll DNF then.

If I DNF, the reason can usually fall into one of two categories, time or mood.


When I force myself through a book I’m not enjoying, I read less overall. As mentioned before, it begins to feel like a chore. By setting aside a book that’s hindering my love of reading, I can move on to books that interest me and that I want to read.


Additionally, DNF-ing DOES NOT mean you won’t ever come back to it. As any mood readers can identify with, very often a book does not interest me at a particular point in time, yet I might find the time, energy, or interest a week, month, even years later.

Girl reading from a book using her right pointer finger to guide where she is
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

What if I can’t DNF? What if I have to finish this book?

Sadly, DNF should not be applied to school books or other instances, you really should read those even when you don’t like it. From personal experience, I have gathered a few things that have helped.


Procrastination is a real threat, as many people are already aware. By taking the precautions and lessening distractions when reading, you can eliminate (or at least decrease) the amount of temptation enticing you away from your reading.


It may be appealing to read it all in one go, to get it over with. However sometimes it may be helpful to read in bite-sized chunks. Because a chapter is much shorter than a full book, I personally feel as if I am not taking up so much of my time trying to get through a book.


Mood reader hack: have another book on hand to read if the other is slumping you down. I typically read a few books at a time so if I find myself dreading reading, I can read more of one that helps me to remember why I enjoy reading.

Since I’ve started allowing myself to be open to DNF books, I’m able to enjoy reading at a higher rate than before. And just because you DNF a book does not mean it was a bad book or that the author sucks. I feared that somehow that I, a college girl in the middle of the midwest, would offend an author because I hadn’t connected with their book. But that is NOT the case.

Everyone has tastes when it comes to literally everything, food, clothes, music, art, jokes, etc, etc. It makes sense it would be the same for literature. AND THAT IS OKAY. It can still be good and well written and still not be your taste.

How about you! Do you dnf books? Why or Why not? (And if yes, when do you officially dnf?)

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