6 min read

Guest Host Jen Karner

Stone Soup Digest 03.01.2024
Guest Host Jen Karner

Welcome to the Stone Soup Weekly Digest! This is where I usually share what I'm up to and some of my favorite things from around the internet. Right now, some brilliant authors are taking over the digest while I deal with a bunch of thorny life stuff!  Subscribe to Stone Soup to get this in your inbox every week.

Continuing our recent streak of excellent Stone Soup Digest Guest Hosts, this week Jen Karner is taking over! Jen Karner is a wonderful queer writer and a long-time friend of the newsletter. She enjoys horror movies, tabletop games, and debating about her many fandoms. When she isn't writing, you can find her pretending to catch up on her TBR list, trying to convince her dog to love her best, or watching D&D shows. Her latest novel, Cinders of Yesterday, is out now!

Cinders of Yesterday by Jen Karner

Monster hunter Dani Black wants revenge.

A year ago, the rogue Necromancer Spectre murdered her partner during a hunt gone wrong. Dani has been looking for a way to kill him--and keep him dead--ever since. When rumors of a weapon capable of killing anything surface in Dawson, Maryland, she sets out on a mission to get her hands on it. While unraveling a web of clues about her own past, Dani runs into the alluring Emilie Lockgrove, daughter of a magical family who are inexplicably tied to Spectre.

Emilie Lockgrove wants answers.

Ten years ago, she survived the catastrophic fire that killed her mother and left her hospitalized. Now, Emilie has returned to Dawson, expecting to confront the trauma of her past and move on. Instead, she discovers magic is real and encounters ghosts, monsters, and the necromancer who has hunted the mediums in her family for generations.

Dani intends to kill Spectre or die trying. Emilie wants to reclaim the life of magic that was hidden from her.

To survive, they'll need to work together to confront their past, break the spell holding back Emilie's magic, and destroy Spectre once and for all.

Barnes & Noble | Bad River Website | Local Library | Find an Indie Bookstore

That’s all from me for this week. Take it away, Jen!

- Gailey

Capitalism is the Bad Guy

In the last few years, I've fallen head over heels in love with TTRPG Let's Play shows. Dropout's Dimension 20 has had me by the eyeballs since the first season, Fantasy High, released, and every year, they deliver several new seasons of the show. Sometimes, we get new settings or even new systems, but my favorite setting, Fantasy High, is currently in its third campaign. Think of a John Hughes-esque world, except it's D&D, and the party is a group of teenage adventurers figuring themselves out. 

The Dungeon Master (DM), Brennan Lee Mulligan, is hilarious and always on his toes. After a season or two, you'll realize that his big bads are almost always...capitalism. There's a ton here to love – various campaigns are set in high school, urban fantasy NYC, the far reaches of space – there’s even a high-fantasy Game of Thrones-inspired season where every character is food! It's my go-to comfort show, and with a revolving cast (including the occasional guest DM), it never seems stale. While watching on Dropout is behind a paywall ($5/month), a number of seasons are also available for free on YouTube! 

Feast Your Eyes

I love art, and I spend a lot of time picking new pieces for my walls or finding new artists to follow so my feeds stay beautiful. Which means I have to mention a few of my favorite artists. 

My favorite new-to-me artist is Genlee. Their art is not only beautiful but also meaningful. It features adorable critters like possums with messages of self-worth like "It may not seem like it, but you're doing better than you realize." Genlee sells their art through their online shop, but they also have a pretty strong IG presence, which is where I found them and most often share their art. In a world that is hard, their art gives me space to be soft, and I love that more than I can say.

I'm also low-key obsessed with Chrissabug's artwork. She does amazing work with mythological figures. (I have her Morrigan print hung up in my office.) Her work is ethereal, beautiful, and sometimes haunting. I could easily fill a hallway with nothing but her art. She runs a shop, but she also shares a lot of her work on social media, so it's easy to fall in love with and share. 

Literacy Matters

So here's the thing. I am the nerdy little kid who learned to read, fell in love with it, and never looked back. I believe that reading can open doors, and worlds, and windows for kids and adults alike. However, there are many places where kids, especially girls, aren't given the tools they need to learn to read. That's where Room to Read comes in. They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating children and ensuring all of them have the chance to learn. I just found out about them this week, but it is the kind of good in the world I love to see. 


As someone who works from home, I spend a not-insignificant amount of time on my own, and to keep from going crazy, I listen to a LOT of music. I live by Spotify playlists because trying to buy all the music I want to listen to would bankrupt me. I got a chance to check on Hazbin Hotel on Amazon recently, and then I found a playlist which includes not only the new songs for the show but also a ton of the songs from when it was originally on YouTube. Hazbin Hotel Playlisty by Phoenix has 83 songs, running just over 4 hours. If you love the new stuff, it's definitely worth taking a listen. I'm particularly fond of “Heaven 2 Hell” and “Royal Flush”. 

Noah Kahan also finally dropped Stick Season (Forever), which includes all the tracks from Stick Season (We'll All Be Here Forever) as well as the tracks featuring the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Hozier, and Brandi Carlile. To say it's been on repeat when I'm doing long drives would...not be a lie.

Jen Is Reading: Ravensong by TJ Klune

The Bennett family has a secret: They're not just a family. They're a pack. Ravensong is Gordo Livingstone's story.

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack that left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.

It should have been enough.

It was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. And when his town is caught in the jaws of a beast, Gordo is summoned back into the life that left him.

"Gordo, you must rise. For your pack. For us. I must ask you to become the witch to the wolves."

Now, a year later, Gordo has once again found himself the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.

But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it's coming from within.

Barnes & Noble | Bad River Website | Local Library | Find an Indie Bookstore

Winter 1917. After years on the run from a dangerous cult, twenty-three-year-old Sasza and his father have established themselves among the Odonic Empire’s ruling class. But there’s a problem: Sasza is a vampire, and vampires aren’t supposed to get involved in human governance. What the aristocracy doesn’t know, after all, cannot hurt them.Unfortunately, Sasza is far more involved than a stealth vampire should be. Not only does he work to quell the rumors of the vampires’ responsibility for an unsolved massacre, but his lover is also the pro-proletariat Ilya, the Empire’s Finance Minister, who tries to recruit Sasza into the same cult hunting him. Then—the Emperor declares war against the Vampire States. Diplomacy has failed. Sasza quickly learns that he will do anything to preserve peace–including giving in to the monstrosity he spent so many years concealing from even himself.  

Barnes & Noble | Bad River Website | Find an Indie Bookstore

Thanks for taking the wheel this week, Jen, and congratulations on the release of Cinders of Yesterday!