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Amanda and Jenn recommend fun history books, fairytale retellings for adults, and more!

This episode is sponsored by The Fireman by Joe Hill and Book Riot Live.

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Need a book recommendation? Fill out the form at the bottom of the post, or email and we’ll help!


1. Hello there friends. Your podcast is good. I was just wondering if you had any recommendations for entertaining history books. I read a load on Charlemagne and the Carolingians at school and while I loved the subject matter I found a lot of them quite dry.

The subject doesn’t matter, just love history and since I’ve now left full time education, a while ago now actually, I miss learning about cool shit that happened a long time ago.




2. I teach high school summer school, and each year, we read a novel together as a class. In previous years, we’ve read Lord of the Flies, Maze Runner, Silver (by Chris Wooding), and Timebound (by Rysa Walker). The group I’m working with read Hunger Games, Scorch Trials, and Battle Royale this school year. I’m looking to find a non-dystopian YA novel to read with this class of primarily 16-17 year old boys. Our theme for the summer is learning to cook, food science, and food history, so if there’s a book to tie into that, I’d love it, but my main goal is to branch out from the literature rut they’re in! Time is of the essence, as I have to order my book by June 20th. Help!



3. I am lucky enough to be able to make my living as a chocolatier. I get to work alone a lot and my kitchen has a stereo, and my favorite listening option while working happens to be audiobooks (and podcasts of course!).

An interesting thing happens when you make chocolates and confections for a living: Christmas product planning begins in the summertime. Every year, toward the end of spring, my heart starts to yearn for the Christmas season (I know, it’s crazy, but I now have a professional excuse for my insanity). I was hoping you could recommend some Christmas-y or even late in the year holiday-themed audiobooks that might help inspire me to create something truly spectacular for this holiday season. I like psychological mysteries, culinary cozy mysteries, literary fiction, horror,  dark fantasy and magical realism. Books with the holidays as part of the plot or even as the setting would be most appreciated!

Thank you ladies for your hard work.



4. Hi Amanda and Jen! Love the podcast! I run a Scifi/fantasy book club in a group called Geek Girls Forever in the LA area. I have a feeling this is going to be one of many emails I might be sending you…we are focusing on a different sub-genre of Scifi or fantasy each month. I want to do a fairytale retelling month but I am having trouble finding fairytale retelling that are NOT ya! (Besides Gregory Maguire). I love YA, but  we vote for the picks each month out of five book-choices, and I didn’t want them to ALL be YA. So if you have any non-ya books that are Fairytale retellings I greatly appreciate it.



5. I’m going on vacation the beginning of June, and I was hoping you guys could help me with some of my beach reading books!
I think romance would be the perfect kind of thing to read on the beach, but I don’t know what to pick up. Recently I’ve been trying to get into romance books, but so far every romance novel I’ve picked up, I’ve been unable to finish. I think I’ve just been picking the wrong kinds of romance books, and I was hoping you two could point me in the right direction.
Usually if a book or show I’m reading or watching has romance, it is my favorite part. I always end up getting super invested in the relationship- especially if it has a love/hate thing, or doomed/forbidden love thing. However I also like a good plot. The problem with the romance books I’ve been picking up, is that they only seem to be about romance, but have no other plot elements to them.
The majority of what I read is fantasy and sci-fi, but I do on occasion read historical fiction. I was thinking some good urban fantasy might be nice?  


Books Mentioned

How To Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

A People’s History of Science by Clifford Conner

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Relish by Lucy Knisley

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey


Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin

Scarlet Devices by Delphine Dryden

Blood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper