Book Recommendation

What Do You Read? Everywhere I have readers, I receive messages asking for book (or fanfic) recommendations. You ask for novels that have been my inspirations, for my current reads, for my favorite series. But most of all, you ask for MOAR stories just like those I write. Which is always Awkward, since I mostly use this penname and its associated accounts to chat about fandom & my anime/manga habit.

(Spoiler: forthy is not a mangaka.)

I do read more than manga. Plenty more. Lots. Current favorite genres (which are totally subject to mood swings) are adventure and mystery. Subgenres would include historical mystery, magical realism, and paranormal mystery or suspense. I love fantasy creatures, shifters, myths, and legends. Sometimes it’s dragons. Sometimes it’s steampunk. Sometimes it’s a fresh spin on an old fairy tale.

I read what I like. I reread what I love. I’ll try anything that strikes my fancy, but I ditch fast when I’m dissatisfied. My needs are simple: make me care. Want to win my fangirly heart? Leave me smiling at the end.

Who Writes Like You? It’s rare to find ALL my favorite things in one book. When I do run across an author whose story grips me, I usually buy up every durn thing they’ve ever written. This may be why my To Read pile is mountainous. But … I’m supposed to be leading up to a (mountainous) book recommendation here.

Oh, hey… nice segue!

Meadowsweet illustrated

You need to meet Tupper. I’ve read (and reread) the Galleries of Stone trilogy, which is set in a world where statues carved from certain kinds of stone can be brought to life. Freydolf is a master sculptor and Keeper of one of the twelve magical mountains. This lonesome exile’s life changes when he hires Tupper Meadowsweet, a boy from one of the valley villages, to sweep and cook.


“That’s the Statuary. Or the way in, anywise,” Freydolf announced. The sweeping arch framing the wide entrance was bordered by intricate carvings, row upon row, each different than the next. “This is called the Apprentice Gate.”

Tupper nodded dutifully, but he didn’t move to follow when the sculptor ambled on. Rooted to the spot, he peered at two enormous animals crouched on either side of the path. Their rusty red pelts stood out against the gray of the surrounding rock, and they were poised to pounce.

Too many things had happened too quickly on this day, and Tupper reached the limits of what bravery he possessed. Without really meaning to, he took a step backwards.

His master noticed, and retraced his steps. “Are you frightened?”


“Of me?” Freydolf asked, a small frown causing a crease between his dark brows.

Tupper avoided that question by pointing to the hounds who threatened him with bared teeth and raised fur. His hand trembled.

“Ah,” his master breathed, looking relieved. “The hounds are the guardians of this gate. They’re statues, Tupper.”

Looking closer, he realized that Freydolf was right. The ferocious dogs were carved from red stone, and they hadn’t moved once since he’d spotted them.

“They’re meant to look fierce, but you’ll get used to them,” the sculptor said in soothing tones. “I’ll need to introduce you sometime, but we’ll save that for another day.”

Tupper offered another mute nod, his gaze still fixed on the terrible dogs. How could something made from stone look so real?

“Are you still afraid?”


Freydolf shifted his weight awkwardly from foot to foot. “It’s safe here. Well, mostly.” Extending his hand, he promised, “I’ll be with you.”

Among Flox, such a gesture was an offer of peace, but this offer looked more like a trap, lined as it was with deadly-looking claws. Tupper didn’t like making decisions, but he faced one now. Very slowly, he reached up to touch the Pred’s open palm.

When Freydolf’s work-roughened hand closed over the boy’s smaller one, it didn’t hurt. Instead, its warmth stopped Tupper’s trembling, and a small squeeze startled him into glancing up. The Pred’s lips quirked. “Are you more afraid of them than you are of me?”


With a shake of his head, Freydolf said, “You’re a small wonder, lambkin.”

•  •  •


Need more reasons to read? How about the fact that the whole trilogy is illustrated? In fact, CJ recently added full-color spot illustrations to the print editions. Like these:

Galleries of Stone, illustrated edition

And rumor has it the story summaries on the back covers of those new print editions are exactly 100 words long. (Who does that?!)

Galleries_back covers

So, yeah. If you’re looking for MOAR stories like mine, I’m quite sure you’ll like these. And if you’re as clever as I suspect you are, you’ll understand why I can offer a limited number of signed copies.

To quote Cyril Sunfletch, “There, now. Have I shocked you?”


Galleries of Stone trilogy, illustrated

Meadowsweet     Harrow      Rakefang

28 thoughts on “Book Recommendation

  1. Thanks for the tip! I’ve never heard of these, but definitely will read this series. I am currently reading The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a series I might be able to share with my daughter! At least, I hope I could dissuade her fascination with my current (admittedly fangirlish) fave reads. (I do not have a poster of a certain fluffy dog on my wall… you’re crazy!) Needless to say, I will be doing my absolute best to hunt down these seemingly interesting stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In terms of currently reading – read Kerrilyn Spark’s new Embraced novel (How to Love Your Elf) and enjoyed it. I’m about to dive into Empire of Gold by SA Chakraborty even though I know that will inevitably end in tears for me like the other two books. Just kind of hoping its HAPPY tears and not “NAHRI WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME” tears.


  3. *goes to order moar books by sneaky favorite author*

    But seriously. How do you even keep up with it all? You’re very active here on all the channels. I noticed that “Milbrandt” also has many avenues of communication. Seriously. How do you even?

    Also, also, I hope you’re not holding our other pen names? Cause I’m pretty sure most of us would love to read them all!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m going to express what will probably be an incredibly unpopular opinion: I hate it when authors use multiple pen names. I can certainly understand why pen names are considered valuable to an author, but I disagree with the practice for one simple reason: It’s hostile to me as a reader looking for books I’ll enjoy.

    Finding new books to read is a real chore. There’s so much content out there that finding the wheat among the chaff results in spending a lot of time reading a lot of – mediocre at best – books. This search is even harder when your favorite genre is a niche within a niche, where the best books are considered to be peers of books which are full of “let’s harm our MCs as a means of character growth”. Following a specific author (and books they recommend) is a great way to simplify that search, and a method I rely upon extensively.

    But when an author extensively uses pen names, suddenly I’m back in to the wheat fields, reading about characters I could love being drug through muddy minefields. It’s a hard place to be.

    But that’s just my opinion; sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Finding “just right” stories can indeed be an arduous task, filled with disappointed expectations and ruined hopes. I think that’s why we hold so fiercely to stories that resonate with our tastes.

      All I can offer is to be myself, no matter the moniker.


  5. “C. J. Milbrandt has always believed in miracles, especially small ones. A lifelong bookworm with a love for fairy tales, far-off lands, and fantasy worlds, CJ began spinning adventures of her own. Her family-friendly stories mingle humor and whimsy with a dash of danger and a touch of magic. Current titles include the Byways books and the Galleries of Stone trilogy.”

    Whimsy you say? Where have I seen that descriptor used before?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My library had the first volume of Galleries of Stone. Can confirm Meadowsweet is a delightful read. I will have to buy the other two ebooks after I finish it. And I am also eying the angel bible study by yet another (pen?) name of the owner of this website.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Sooo many books …so little time. Although with the current state of affairs I am enticed to stay home, cook, pet my dogs, clean my garden and read. These look delightful and I will try them out. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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