Thursday’s Things: Freebies!

1001 Things
                Original Image: Viktor Hertz

“Thursday’s Things” is a roundup of book-related links I’ve come across while wandering down the rabbit hole that is the internet.

I’m on a book buying ban for this year’s #ShelfLove Challenge.  The Boyfriend and I are also packing up the apartment to move across the country, so any new books I acquire have to be free and digital. Since this month’s discussion for #ShelfLove is all about where we find free books, here is a list of 20+ websites where I have gotten my book shopping fix for free:

  • The Online Books Page – There are over 2 million free books on this website, thanks to the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Read Print – Here are a few thousand more.
  • The Baen Free Library – and here are even more.
  • Bookyards – …and some more.
  • International Children’s Digital Library – Looking for free kid’s books?  Here ya go.
  • Storyline Online – How about famous actors reading children’s books aloud?  There are tons of videos on this non-profit site.
  • Library of Congress – Of course, there’s always the Digital Collection of the Library of Congress.
  • Planet eBook – Need to find that Classic you’ve been meaning to read since forever ago?  There are over 80 Classic Lit books on this site.
  • ManyBooks – This site boasts that they have over 33,000 free books.
  • Project Gutenberg – Most serious readers know about this one, but I have to list it because this is the go-to place for the Classics, and it will save your wallet if you’re a Classic literature addict or a member of The Classics Club.
  • Internet Archive – I LOVE this website!  It’s got so much more than free books, so make sure you’ve got some time to kill because you might not leave this site for a while.
  • Open Culture – This site has a ton of free downloadable media, including ebooks and audiobooks.
  • Open Library – You don’t have a library card?  First of all, shame on you!  Second, go to the Open Library and sign up for a free account.  Third, start borrowing ebooks to your heart’s content.
  • LibriVox – Free audiobooks.
  • Lit2Go – Another site for free audiobooks, but many of the books also have a free downloadable PDF.
  • Free Classic Audiobooks – in case you need yet another site for finding free downloadable audiobooks.
  • Classic Short Stories – Look through the list to find the short story you want to read, and click on it to download.
  • East of the Web – This site has short stories you can read online, but you can also click on the “Printable Version” link and then save it as a PDF.
  • Nightmare Magazine – This is a Horror and Dark Fantasy short story magazine I recently discovered.  You can read the short stories online or download the audio/podcast.
  • Storynory – This is a Children’s audiobook site that, amongst so many other kid-friendly downloads, includes Classic Children’s literature.
  • Kiddie Records – If you’re looking for children’s records from the 1940s and ’50s, this is the site to check out.  The downloads, including a Winnie the Pooh story, are all free.
  • BookBub – This is actually a website/newsletter to find out about the free (and on sale) books being offered under the genres you’re interested in by major booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I’ve discovered quite a few free books that I felt were worth downloading, but be careful since there is the temptation of .99 books.

The 2021 #ShelfLove Challenge!

Back in 2015, one of my favorite book bloggers, Terri from “Second Run Reviews” hosted the “Show Your Shelves Some Love” no book buying challenge. I recently caught up with Terri, who moved on from blogging to working in the book industry and now owns her own bookstore, Swamp Fox Bookstore! She gave me the go-ahead to host my own version of the challenge. Read on to find out the details!

Goal: Abstain from buying books or set a book buying limit – and focus on clearing your physical and virtual TBR bookshelves for the entire year.

Challenge Dates: January 1st – December 31st, 2021


  • Abstain from spending money on books for one calendar year or set a book buying limit (whether that’s monetary or the number of books you may buy).
  • Gift cards are OK as well as any Audible credits you already have in your account.
  • Encourage other challenge participants via blog comments and social media.
  • Participate in the monthly discussion posts. The link-up is on the #ShelfLove challenge 2021 page.
  • Library books do not count for this challenge. This challenge is only for books you already own.
  • Netgalley, Edelweiss, or other ARC books can count for this because you have the book, so read it!
  • Read books that are in your personal library that were obtained before January 1, 2021.
  • Yes, there will be a giveaway. Read the #ShelfLove challenge 2021 page for the giveaway details!


  • 1-10 books: shake hands with your shelves
  • 11-20 books: pat your shelves on the back
  • 21-30 books: give your shelves a warm friendly hug
  • 31-40 books: regular date night with your shelves
  • 41-50 books: your shelves are now your BFF
  • 51+ books: your shelves and you are going steady – I’m choosing this goal because my reading goal for 2021 will be more than 50 books.  I’m a member of the Fantastic Strangelings book club, so I am allowing myself to continue my subscription. These books, plus whatever books I check out from the library should be more than enough, but the key is to stay away from the book stores!


  • Create a sign-up post that includes your chosen goal on your blog or any social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Litsy, etc.).
  • Don’t forget to use the challenge hashtag #ShelfLove.
  • Go to the #ShelfLove challenge 2021 page to link your post and enter into the giveaway!

NO BOOK BUYING CHALLENGE STEP 3: Monthly Discussion Posts(Optional)

  • December 2020/January 2021: I’m joining in the #ShelfLove Challenge 2021! Tell us your goals for the challenge this year.  Will you be going on an all-out book buying ban or are you setting a book buying limit? Share pictures of your TBR piles or link up to your GoodReads Shelves.
  • February: Free books! Where do you get free books?
  • March: The TBR pile. Tell us about the books that have been on your shelves the longest.
  • April: May I?! Tell us about one book you want to buy this year and give your best “sales pitch” for why you should be able to buy it.
  • May: Organizing the shelves! How do you organize your books? Alphabetical by title or author, by color, genre, or some other way?
  • June: Mid-year check-in post. How are you doing with the challenge? Look back at your January post and let us know how you are doing.  Share an updated picture or list of your TBR pile.
  • July: Dear Author. Show some love to the authors of your favorite books.
  • August: The perils of book hoarding! What are your pros and cons of owning a lot of books?
  • September: Library Love! Tell us about your local library.
  • October: Best bookish gifts! What are the best book-related gifts you’ve received?
  • November: Thankfulness. Are you thankful for taking on the #ShelfLove challenge? Do you have a greater appreciation for the books you own or for wherever you get free books?
  • December:  End of the year check-in post. Look back at your June and January posts and let us know how you did this year.  Share an updated picture or list of your TBR pile. Would you do the challenge again in 2022?

I can’t wait to read all y’all’s sign-up and discussion posts throughout the year!

#ShelfLove – End of the Year Wrap-Up


The Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge is over, and unfortunately, it will not be returning in 2018.
As far as goals go, I sort of bombed the challenge.  While I read far more than 51 books from my TBR, I bought just as many physical books.  I was only supposed to buy one physical book and only use the money I got from selling books to purchase ebooks.  I also only participated in a couple of the monthly discussions.

At the beginning of the year, I determined that I had 293 unread books sitting on my shelves or in my Kindle and Nook.  While I knew that wasn’t all of them because I hadn’t scanned all of my books into Goodreads yet, I was way off from the actual number.  One of my projects for this year was to update my TBR shelf on Goodreads, and I did finally get around to doing that.  The total number of unread books I own is a whopping 553!!!  That is after finishing 101 books this year and 5 that I’m currently reading.

Since there won’t be a #ShelfLove challenge next year, I’m probably going to find another TBR challenge of some kind to help me whittle down that ridiculous number.  I’ll also continue to participate in Down the TBR Hole.  So, if you know of any TBR challenges that aren’t too complicated, leave me a link in the comments!
And, in case you’re interested, click on the pic below to see my “Year in Books” on Goodreads:

#ShelfLove – My Oldest Books


For March and April, the Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge participants are discussing the oldest books on our shelves.  I knew I had some books on my shelf that had been there for several years, but I was a little shocked when I realized the book I’ve owned the longest and still haven’t read has moved from place to place, country to country with me since 2005!
  1. “The Holy Barbarians” by Lawrence Lipton – This book was mentioned in an episode of Gilmore Girls.  It wasn’t an easy book to find at the time, especially since I was living in Korea, but I tracked a copy down through a used bookseller that didn’t have a problem shipping to an APO.  I was a bit obsessed with the Beat Generation and majorly obsessed with all things Gilmore Girls; otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble of finding it.

  2. “Memory Mambo” by Achy Obejas – After my Abuelo passed away, I began finding and buying any book that might bring me a little closer to the Cuban part of my family.
  3. “Skin Trade” by Laurell K. Hamilton – I bought the hardcover when it first came out in 2009.  I was only a book or two behind in the series at the time.  Now there are 25 in the series (“Skin Trade” is #17), with the 26th due out in June of this year.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!
    Jess is disappointed in me.
  4. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne – This book, and the next three, were bought free on my brand spanking new first generation Nook right before I deployed to Iraq in 2009.
  5. “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert
  6. “The Hunchback of Notre” Dame by Victor Hugo
  7. “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins 
  8. “Book Lust” by Nancy Pearl – Always a fan of books about books, as soon as I saw this offered on Nook, I snatched it up.
  9. “Hiking Alone” by Mary Beath – I purchased this while on a road trip in 2011.  I had stopped for the night in Albuquerque, NM and when I got up the next morning, I realized my hotel was just across the street from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
  10. “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens – I bought this from a little independent bookstore and coffee shop in Utah during that same road trip.  Their largest cup was “The Hagrid” and I’ve wished that coffee and tea shops everywhere offered “Hagrid”-sized drinks ever since.

It is now a goal of mine to clear these off my TBR this year.  What are some of the oldest books on your shelf?

#ShelfLove Challenge 2017


I’m joining the Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge again!  Below are my goals.

My Goals

  • Read at least 51 books from my personal library that I got before January 1, 2016 (my shelves and I are going steady).
  • With the exception of one book, I can only buy books using the money I get from selling books to the used bookstore.  I can “buy” as many free books as I would like,  as well as accept ARCs and enter giveaways to my heart’s content.
  • If I’m purchasing ebooks with my book money, I may add on the audio narration without it counting against my book money.  To me, adding on the audiobook is like buying a second copy of a book I already own.
  • Participate in the monthly discussion posts.  I didn’t do so well with this goal last year, but I’m hoping to get back to writing a discussion post every month.


2016-06-18 13.09.19
These are, of course, only my physical books, and not all of them are books I haven’t read yet, but the majority of them have never been opened. Total, I have 293 unread books sitting on my shelves or in my Kindle and Nook, according to my TBR shelf on Goodreads.  However, I know that’s not all of them.  I don’t know how close it is to last year’s 400+, but considering I acquired a few more books and only read 58 of the ones I got prior to 2016, I’m sure it’s not far off.  One of my projects this year will be to update my TBR shelf on Goodreads to get a more accurate total (most of the ebooks on my Nook aren’t on it).

#ShelfLove: A Thank You Note to the Book Blogging Community

Shelf Love Challenge 2016
Dear Book Blogging Community,
Over the years I’ve been in one group or another having to do with politics, feminism, or a specific social issue that took precedence in my life for one reason or another.  None of those groups provided me with what I was looking for or inspired me to get more involved.  Whether they were all action and no talk or all talk and no action, they weren’t good fits for me.
When I started this blog, I began connecting with other book bloggers and discovered the best community I have ever considered myself to be a member.  This has been especially true during this election cycle when I began seeing my social media feeds turn more and more negative.
I began unfollowing or muting people whose posts started trending towards political rants.  I was especially quick to unfollow those who made blanket statements about whole groups of people or implied that replacing misogyny with misandry was acceptable.  However, I continued to follow those of you in the book blogging community because your friendship mattered more to me, I didn’t consider you to be strangers, and you occasionally said something so inspiring or spot-on that I made an exception.  I had a few heart to heart conversations with some of you and I’m glad I had those conversations and continued to read what you had to say whether on your blogs, Twitter, Facebook or Litsy.
Why?  Because my feeds are now full of inspiration, legitimate calls to action against hate and violence, and book recommendations for learning more about and understanding the political and social issues that are especially important right now.  I’m also seeing more about books in general and my feeds feel less cluttered and bogged down with negativity and garbage.  Instead of avoiding them, I’m checking them more often than ever to keep up with what’s going on.  You have also re-activated my activism and reminded me why I’m a feminist.  And I now have another lengthy list of books to check out and read 🙂
Thank you, fellow book bloggers, from the bottom of my heart, for providing me with a place that I feel at home.
The Girl in the Book Fort

#ShelfLove – Dear Author…

Shelf Love Challenge 2016
This month’s discussion for the Show Your Shelves Some Love challenge is all about giving some love to the writers of our favorite books.  So, without further ado, here is my “Dear Author” letter/thank you note:
Suzanne Collins, thank you for Mockingjay and giving me the ability to heal.
Diana Gabaldon, thank you for writing historical fiction about an intelligent woman’s romantic relationship that isn’t just a trope-filled bodice ripper.
J.R.R. Tolkien, thank you for giving the world the true history of the Hobbits and Middle Earth and making me a fanatic for the Fantasy genre.
Dr. Seuss, thank you for writing the best books a kid could learn to read.  If it weren’t for you, this introvert wouldn’t have discovered her love of words and her ability to escape to other worlds whenever needed.
C.S. Lewis, thank you for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I have never looked at wardrobes or armoires the same since.
Stephen King, thank you for writing the scariest book I have ever read, IT, and one of my all-time favorite Fantasy novels, The Eyes of the Dragon.  Also, thank you for showing me how evil can twist seemingly innocent things into something horrible and corrupt in Needful Things.
L.M. Montgomery, thank you for Anne of Green Gables.  Anne is my spirit animal and without her, I would have never learned that I am perfect just the way I am.
Katherine Paterson, thank you for Bridge to Terabithia, the first book to make me ugly cry.
Roald Dahl, thank you for Matilda and giving me the dream of one day escaping the family I was born into but never belonged.
John Lenahan, thank you for writing Shadowmagic and offering it for free on Without you, I wouldn’t have discovered how much I enjoy listening to audiobooks.
Ann M. Martin, thank you for “The Babysitter’s Club” series.  I never enjoyed babysitting, but I loved every moment of reading your books during hot Summer days when no one but myself seemed to realize that being outside was over-rated.
Jenny Lawson, thank you for Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and Furiously Happy.  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hysterically while reading.  Also, thank you for the phrase “Depression lies”.
Rainbow Rowell,  thank you for Eleanor and Park, the first book, not counting anything by Dr. Seuss, that I immediately re-read as soon as I finished it for the first time.
Anne Rice, thank you for Interview with the Vampire, the book that started me on my vampire obsession.
Brontë sisters, thank you for getting me hooked on Gothic literature and the Classics.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, thank you for making me fall in love with historical fiction and giving me my childhood go-to books to read when I was sick.
Edgar Allen Poe, thank you for making my Freshman study hall periods more interesting and giving me a much-needed distraction from my Algebra homework.
Love with all my heart,
Rachelle, The Girl in the Book Fort
P.S. Thank you to all the authors I haven’t mentioned who have written books that made me clutch them to my chest, sigh, and wish there was more.  You make it worth getting out of bed in the morning, even after staying up all night to read.

#ShelfLove: Mid-Year Check-In

Shelf Love Challenge 2016

A lot has changed in my life since I started this year’s Show Your Shelves Some Love challenge.  I got a full-time job.  I moved to a new apartment.  I began to truly focus on my health.  With all of those changes, I’ve come to realize quite a bit about myself that I didn’t previously know, and books have become an even more important part of my life as a result.

For instance, I realized I have to work for the sake of my mental health, not just my bank account, but I also have to have a job or at least be doing or working towards doing something I’m passionate about.  After I was offered the job, I was so excited to finally be working full-time again, but the excitement quickly wore off because my job is 1) not challenging and 2) has nothing to do with books.  So, my game plan has changed a little bit.  It’s no longer “I want to eventually go to grad school to become a librarian.”  It’s now “I’m taking the steps to go to grad school as soon as possible.”

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My TBR shelf before I moved.

That doesn’t have much to do with #ShelfLove, other than the obvious (books, of course), but my recent move to a bigger, but very differently configured, apartment made me greatly appreciative of this challenge’s existence and the lovely women hosting it.  I’ve discussed many times before how my book collection has caused quite a few problems when it comes to moving.  There’s the back-breaking weight, the cost of packing materials, and then the process of unpacking and reorganizing.  Ok, that last one is kind of fun.  Alright, a lot of fun.

2015-10-24 13.24.02 (2)
Only 2 of my book boxes before I moved. The other 5 or 6 were in storage.


For the first time in nearly seven years, I finally cut down my collection and moved to a place big enough to have all of my books in one place and easily accessible.  No longer do I have to drive out to my storage unit and dig through boxes to find that *one* book I want to read or loan to the Boyfriend.  Granted, not all of those books are on shelves, thanks to my shelves still being in storage until we have the money and time to shut down the storage unit for good, but all my pretty lovelies are READily available 😉 and that makes me a happy gal.

2016-06-18 13.09.19
My TBR shelf now. Though it doesn’t appear to be any different, it really is.

Though the main purpose of this challenge is to read the books we already own, and I’m definitely doing that, it has also made me rethink the books I choose to keep.  I was holding onto a lot of books I knew I would probably never read, but the pressure to read them because I bought them was causing me unnecessary stress.  I finally decided to take them to the used bookstore.  I thought letting go of these unread books would be difficult, but I didn’t shed any tears, and those books are better off in the hands of someone who will actually read them.  So far, I’ve made over $50 off those books and I’ve got another box that is halfway full.  Since my job hasn’t made me rich, that extra money means that I could afford to buy myself some exercise clothes that actually fit and are cute and comfortable so I’m more likely to get off the couch.

2016-06-18 13.09.512016-06-18 13.10.11

2016-06-18 13.10.54
The remaining books after the purge.

What does concentrating on my health have to do with #ShelfLove?  It means I’m reading more.  Not only am I setting aside time every night to read as a form of self-care, I’m also reading while I exercise.  Whether I’m reading a book on my Kindle while I’m on the treadmill or listening to an audiobook while I’m walking during my breaks at work, I’m getting through my books much faster than I did last year.  I’m already at the halfway point of my goal of reading 51 books off my TBR pile.  Last year I was about five books behind.  Of course, I was still in college and taking Summer courses to finish my degree faster, but I wasn’t making as much time for exercise, either, and there’s nothing I’d rather do more while I sweat than read.

Overall, the changes in my life have improved my relationship with books and reading.  I didn’t believe that was possible, especially since I was sure my new job, moving, and exercising more would all cost me valuable reading time.  Instead, the opposite has happened, and maybe this challenge has something to do with that.  Perhaps my determination to stick with it has made me come up with workable solutions.  All I know is that before #ShelfLove, and before I started blogging, I was barely getting through half the books I now read in a year, despite owning double the number of books I own today.

#ShelfLove: Literary Travels

Shelf Love Challenge 2016

This month’s #ShelfLove discussion is all about the real places in books that we would visit.  While I would love to say I’d go on a road trip across the US, visiting all the literary spots that American literature has to offer, I realized after being honest with myself that the literary locations I want to travel to are, with one exception, in Europe.  Without further ado, here is the literary vacation I would take if time and money weren’t an issue.

First stop: Scotland

Scotland - Moyan Brenn
Image: Moyan Brenn

If you are someone who knows me well enough to know what my favorite series is, then you would also know that the first place I would visit, and where I want to someday move to, is Scotland.  Particularly the Highlands of Scotland, but, thanks to the Boyfriend’s Scottish roots, I would also traipse around the Lowlands.  I would probably need a year to see every little spot and visit every library and bookstore.

Next stop: England

Platform 9 34 - rawen
Image: rawen

Bust of J.R.R. Tolkien -summonedbyfells
Image: summonedbyfells










I wouldn’t spend nearly as much time in England, but it would still take me awhile to see everything because I would visit for two reasons.  The first being that I would have to visit every real place mentioned in the Harry Potter series.  The second being that I could not go to England without seeing anything and everything related to J.R.R Tolkien.  Also, I would want to stay in Podditon.  Perhaps half a year would suffice.


Next stop: France

Cuisery - marnix.catteeuw
Image: marnix.catteeuw

I would spend even less time in France, but I added it to my list of literary vacation spots after I read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  The idea of slowly making my way down the Seine in a barge full of books and stopping for a long visit in Cuisery while improving my spoken French seems like the perfect way to spend a lazy month or two.

Last stop: New Zealand

Hobbiton - Tom Hall
Image: Tom Hall

This is another obvious choice if you know me well enough to know my all-time favorite book.  Thanks to that book and The Lord of the Rings books being made into movies, I can now visit the home of my people, Hobbiton, as well as other Middle Earth locations.  I would probably only stay here for a week or so before heading back home to Texas.

If you won the lottery or had a seemingly endless trust fund and lots of time to kill, where would you go?

#ShelfLove – My Ships

Shelf Love Challenge 2016
This month’s discussion for the Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge is supposed to be about our Book Boy/Girlfriends.  However, I don’t have any.  I was going to bow out of posting anything this month, but then I read one of Terri’s posts over at Second Run Reviews.  It was about her lack of a Book Boyfriend because her Husband already possesses the qualities she admires in Jamie Fraser.  After that, I saw this week’s Five Fandom Friday topic was OTPs.  I didn’t (and still don’t) have enough OTPs to participate in FFF, but it did give me the idea to write about my favorite Ships in place of a Book Boyfriend.

I Ship:

  1. ♥Jamie and Claire♥ – Like Terri, if I were going to have a Book Boyfriend it would probably be Jamie Fraser.  However, I’ve already got an IRL man that has many of the qualities I admire in Jamie.  Also, the Boyfriend is a Scot from a well-known clan with a verra long history.  So, I think I’ll keep him instead of pining for a fictional man.  Besides, Jamie belongs to Claire, and they’re perfect for each other.  Their marriage is the kind of marriage I hope to have, and before meeting the Boyfriend, Jamie and Claire gave me hope that it’s possible.  I don’t ever want them to lose each other.
  2. ♥Eleanor and Park♥ – While I loved the book by the same title for more reasons than E and P’s relationship, this is young love at it’s finest.  I hope that their love for each other blossoms into the kind of relationship that lasts a lifetime, but even if it doesn’t, the time they have together in the book is full of those moments that any of us who experienced our first romance in high school will never forget.  I shipped them so hard I started reading the book a second time as soon as I finished it because I just couldn’t handle the book hangover.  I also now have an E&P playlist chalk full of the Cure, the Smiths, and so many other great bands and songs the two of them listen to together.
  3. ♥Ceony and Emery♥- While I haven’t yet read the third book of the Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg, I already know that these two get each other on a level that a lot of couples never reach.  I have difficulty writing about them without getting all spoilery, so I’m just going to stop there.

Why do I only have three Ships?  My “Read” shelf on Goodreads is a pretty good indication that I rarely read books involving a romance.  When I do, they’re usually not major parts of the story.  So, while Harry and Ginny’s relationship resulted in marriage and kids, it wasn’t developed enough before the epilogue to make much of an impression.  Ron and Hermione’s relationship is a little more developed, but they spend more time arguing than anything else, and Ron was never my favorite.  Other series with the potential for a major Ship are ones that I’ve only read the first book, and so the relationship hasn’t grabbed a hold of me yet.

What are your Ships?  Are there any books or series I must read so I can add more Ships to my list?