Retold Tales Booksellers

A bookstore in Phoenixville retold tales

Have you ever just wanted to run through stacks and stacks of books, getting wrapped up in the scents and wonder of pages of the printed word? Well that’s what you’ll get at Retold Tales.  Located right on Phoenixville’s main drag of shops, this independent southeastern PA bookstore has something for everyone.

Though you may have to do a little digging and sorting through the many stacks of books piled throughout the store, the search is well worth it.  The treasures you’ll uncover here you’d be hard pressed to find in other bookstores, and the journey to them is half the fun!

A void was created in Phoenixville after the town’s old bookstore had to close its doors.  Luckily Retold Tales came along to fill that void and has brought a new funky bookstore vibe to an already proudly quirky town.

The Books of Retold Tales

Since its doors first opened in May 2012, Retold Tales has integrated itself into the community of Phoenixville.  It hosts a very eclectic book collection, specializing in used and children’s books.

The books, though used, are in excellent condition and are sold at unbelievable prices (I bought a paperback for $3)! There are numerous genres, and something for everyone if you look.

Don’t be intimidated by the stacks of books piled all over the place.  Have fun looking through them, and you might just walk away with a book you would never have even thought to get before!

Children of all ages will love the wide variety of kid’s books available.  From fantasy books to the classics, children will find whatever book their heart desires and will enjoy the hunt for that perfect new story.

Aside from the massive collection of used books, there are also several books at Retold Tales that would appeal to the avid book collector.  The bookstore has quite a few rare and first edition books (priced at around $100) for those bibliophiles on the lookout for new members to their collections.

The Owner and the Community

The owner of Retold Tales is friendly and knowledgeable about her stock and books in general.  She is usually always around to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, or to just give you some direction through her store if you’re not exactly sure what it is you want.  Don’t be afraid to go up and ask her for assistance!

To integrate her bookstore even more in the community, the owner holds story times for kids at Retold Tales everyday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Pajama story times are also hosted once a month, and special events for kids are hosted as well.  I hear a Star Wars Party is happening there in May!

The owner came to Phoenixville (my quirky hometown by the way!) specifically to start a bookstore that would remain independently owned without franchising.  And that is just the type of bookstore Phoenixville needs and responds to.

As a town of its own making Retold Tales is the perfect bookstore for Phoenixville to take into its heart, and it has.

With its cozy atmosphere, welcoming owner, and new books to be discovered around every corner Retold Tales has become a thriving part of Phoenixville that will hopefully continue for many years to come.

So drop on into this lovely local bookstore if you’ve never been, or even if you have.  And if you’re just passing through, make sure you stop in and see what this store has to offer.

It’s a bookstore whose sole focus is to sell great books.  That is what a bookstore should be.

Learn More

Want to know more about Retold Tales Booksellers?  Check out their website:

Murder is Binding: a booktown mystery Review

Summary murder is bindin

Lorna Barrett’s cozy, Murder is Binding, starts off her Booktown Mysteries with a bang!  Or is it a stab?

To bring in some much needed revenue, the town of Stoneham, New Hampshire, has opened its doors to booksellers inviting them to set up shop.

Tricia Miles took up that invitation, leaving her life in Manhattan for the small town to live out her dream of owning her own mystery bookstore.

Soon Tricia’s bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, is open for business and Tricia is met with all of Stoneham’s friendly citizens.  Well mostly friendly.  All except Doris Gleeson, the owner of the cookbook store right next to Tricia’s.

She’s the grouchiest person in town, and she certainly doesn’t seem to like Tricia. Her antagonism becomes a real problem after Tricia finds Doris stabbed to death with a kitchen knife in her own store, and her rare and valuable cookbook stolen.

Before she can blink Tricia has all the town’s suspicions on her, and a sheriff breathing down her neck.  And if that weren’t bad enough,Tricia’s older and overbearing sister has come for a surprise visit.

With the sheriff and most of the town set against her, Tricia will have to figure out this mystery herself if she wants to clear her name.  Tricia’s read mystery books all her life, but she never thought she’d find herself in one.

Now Tricia must dust off her sleuthing skills and take a page from the mystery masters to catch a killer who is interested in more than just books.

Thoughts on Murder is Binding

This is the cozy for book lovers everywhere who feel as though there just aren’t enough bookstores anymore.  Murder is Binding transports you to Stoneham where bookstores line the streets, and the peace is only broken by the occasional murder.

Tricia Miles is our spunky amateur sleuth, and her role is made even better by the fact that she owns a mystery bookstore and that the sheriff really is out to get her.

Tricia is a great cozy heroine.  Not only does she feel the need to figure out the murder herself, her love of mysteries since childhood gives her a dose of confidence.  How hard can solving a real murder be with all the reading she’s done?

Obviously her thinking gets her into some very funny situations, especially as she butts head with the local sheriff, who it seems has never actually worked on a murder case…

Huh.  Maybe Tricia does have a bit of a leg up.  Though that leads her into some dangerous situations.

But Tricia gets help from her two loyal employees; Ginny a twenty-something young woman who used to work for Doris Gleeson, and Mr. Everett, the elderly gentlemen who loves mysteries just as much as Tricia.

Tricia’s older sister, Angelica, is another colorful character who adds in some extra trouble for Tricia, as the two have never really gotten along.  But she is also surprisingly helpful in solving the case.

The sisters’ relationship adds emotional depth to the story that is very relatable.  Who doesn’t have family problems and that one relative they love, but from a distance?

Romance is not a huge factor here.  Tricia has just gotten a divorce, and is much more interested in her bookstore.  However, there is a local politician across the street making advances and an annoying newspaper man.

How that ends…well I’ll let you read and find out!  The answer might surprise you.

The mystery itself is quite puzzling, and there was a huge twist in the end I didn’t see coming!

The clues lead Tricia into several different mysteries that all come together to form a complete picture of Doris’s murder.  The whodunit won’t surprise you nearly as much as the howdunit.

Murder is Binding remains the funny light read expected of a cozy, while still giving you a mystery with enough tricks and turns to keep you guessing at the murderer until the end.

With this debut, the Booktown Mysteries are shaping up to be a great cozy mystery series.  I know I can’t wait till the next one!

Other Details

My Recommendation: It’s a cozy so it’s in the adult mystery section.  This one though I think even young teens (around fourteen and up) could read.  It doesn’t really have much in the way of sexual innuendo like some other cozies.

Author: Lorna Barrett (also known as, L.L. Bartlett and Lorraine Bartlett)

Genre(s): mystery, cozy murder mystery

Pages: 281

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

First Released: 2008

Learn More

To learn more about the cozy murder mystery sub-genre check out my post

Why cozy murder mysteries are awesome

Fun Fact!

Stoneham, New Hampshire, the fictional booktown, is based on the real life booktown, Hay-on-Wye in Wales!

Why the manga is always (sort of) better than the anime

Manga to Anime manga and anime

I’ve already said the book is better than the movie, but when it comes to manga turning into anime that’s an entirely different story.

Many books nowadays are part of a series, and if one is picked up for a movie usually all will follow suit in subsequent movies.  When manga are picked up to be made into a product of the screen, however, the entire manga series is used from the beginning and is more often than not made into a T.V. show.

As manga themselves are written as installments of a story the format lends itself to T.V. show writing as it is easier to break apart into episodes, but that does not mean mangas turning into animes are necessarily anymore accurate than books turning into movies.

Though on occasion they are.  This issue is not as cut and dry as the book to movie problem, which is why I have to say that the manga is always (sort of) better than the anime.

As with anything, when a story goes from one format into another, things will be lost.  This holds true for manga that become anime.  No matter how close they get to the manga inevitably something will be missing in the anime.

Running out of Time

Ranging from a lot to a little the main problem for anything missing is that even though an anime has episodes, and thus a bit more time than your average two hour movie, it does not have as much time as you think.

Aside from anime like Naruto and One Piece, which seem to have no end, most animes are on average between twenty-four and twenty-six episodes long with the episodes running for an average twenty-four minutes (including opening and closing theme songs).

Unless a manga is super short, this will not be long enough to include or explain everything that happens in the manga.  Leaving those who have only seen the anime with lingering questions, that could very well be answered by the manga.

Ahead of Their Time

Another reason for the lingering questions that come at the end of an anime could also be the fact that when a manga series is picked up to be turned into an anime, the manga itself is often not finished yet.

Unlike books that are turned into movies where at least the book they are basing the movie on is complete (even if its series is not) an anime is most often based on a manga that is still ongoing.

This of course causes a lot of plot holes in the story which the writers of the anime have to fill.  Since they (nor anyone else for that matter) don’t actually know how the story will end, writers make up their own ending for the anime.

Sometimes their ending kind of works, but a lot of the time it really doesn’t make any sense with the beginning.  As the beginning of the series was based on the actual story written by the manga-ka and the end was written by different people you can see where the two halves of the series may not line up.

Another thing that happens in regards to that is that sometimes anime writers don’t try to make up an ending at all.  Sometimes they just stop where the manga stops which leaves the anime open-ended, and a lot of questions to still be answered.

Manga to Anime is not Always Bad

Now even though it frustrates me to no end when an anime turns a manga I love on its head, the truth is animes usually get closer to the actual content of the manga than movies get to books.

Mangas already include artwork, so usually anime artists follow that original template so at least the characters you love look the same.  Also there are some things anime can give you that manga (no matter how good it is) just can’t.

It is very hard to picture an action sequence in a manga, especially when it is drawn over several pages you have to flip through.  Anime solves this problem as it is able to show movement on screen.

Aside from that anime really does do its best to keep the integrity of the manga alive, where as I feel movies are not as concerned with that for the book.  Rarely have I seen an anime where I couldn’t at least see a little bit of the manga shining through.

Of course the anime will still be different than the manga, and as with movies based on books you just have to go in knowing that and look for the good bits.  Oftentimes the anime is actually very good, even if it does go off book a bit (or a lot).

Read the Manga!

It does annoy me though when people who have clearly only seen the anime, judge a manga by its anime.  Do not do this!  It’s the same thing as judging a book by its movie.  It’s just bad form.

The writers and artists of an anime, though they try to keep the integrity of the manga, are not the person who originally thought up this idea.

The truth is manga-ka usually have just as little say about the animes based on their mangas as authors do about the movies based on their books.

If you see an anime you like, but were really confused by and have a lot of questions still unanswered, READ the MANGA!  Chances are either the manga is still ongoing, or the anime couldn’t fit all of it in.

If you read the manga you’d be surprised how fast the ending and the entire series makes sense.

Mangas and animes are an entirely different breed than books and movies when it comes to turning one into the other.

However, they do face similar problems with their content being shifted.  The anime may keep better to the original manga, but still it is impossible for it to keep perfectly to the original story.

The anime and manga can both be good, but just remember do not judge a manga by its anime.

The Thief Lord Review

Summary the thief lord

In Cornelia Funke’s children’s novel The Thief Lord, mysteries and legends come to life. 

Venice, Italy, a place of amazing structures, fantastical legends, and secrets waiting to be unlocked.  Beneath the watery city streets are unknown canals and secret passages concealing that which does not wish to be found.  It is the perfect place to hide…

Prosper and his younger brother Bo, orphaned after their mother’s passing, escape to this mystical city after running away from their horrible aunt and uncle.

Here they are taking under the wing of a young boy called the thief lord who leads a band of other runaways that steal in order to survive.  In an old boarded up theatre with their new friends they make their home.

But just as Prosper and Bo start to feel safe their aunt and uncle arrive in Venice looking for the brothers in the hopes of taking Bo as their own and sending Prosper to an orphanage.

If that weren’t bad enough a secret that the thief lord has been keeping from everyone comes to light creating a great rift between the band just as they are hired by an old Conte for their toughest job yet.  The Conte wants them to steal a wing.  A lion’s wing.

Gaining new allies in the form of the private eye hired to find them and a local photographer, the brothers will discover an ancient secret of Venice that may aid them in escaping their aunt and uncle…or pull them apart forever.

Thoughts on The Thief Lord

This book shows just as much love for the characters as it does for the city the story takes place in.  Venice itself is a character.  Like a friend it hides the brothers and their friends while also concealing many mysteries and dangers in its watery depths.

This is the book that made me fall in love with Venice.  With the immense description of the city’s buildings, back alleys, and secret canals I felt as though I had seen Venice with my own eyes.

With all its hidden passages and legends of magic around every corner Venice is truly the best setting for a story of runaways, and Prosper and Bo are the kind of runaways you route for.

I loved them immediately.  At six Bo couldn’t be more adorable, and even at twelve Prosper seems so grown up.  My heart melt at how well he takes care of his younger brother and how close they are.

Their relationship is present at every part of the story and it really makes you hate their aunt and uncle.  They are quite vile people, which is wonderful because then they make the perfect villains.

The other members of our band of runaways include Hornet, one tough girl who refuses to tell anyone her real name, Riccio, a young boy who dreams of being as a good a thief as their leader, and Mosca, a boy with dreams of getting a boat and finding his father who disappeared years ago.

And of course there is their leader Scipio also known as the thief lord.  A very charismatic teenager who really does care about looking after his friends, even though it is his secret that nearly tears them apart.

I won’t say what that secret is (you’ll have to read the book to find out) but it was timed perfectly in the story with the theft of the wing, and it really added a lot of emotional turmoil to people’s lives that were already difficult.

For anyone who thinks children don’t feel pain as much as adults just read Riccio’s reaction to the betrayal he feels when he finds out Scipio’s secret.

The private investigator Victor hired by Prosper’s aunt and uncle to find them and the photographer Ida were excellent allies to the children.

Ida gives them help and insight about the wing they are meant to steal, and Victor ends up aiding the brothers (because he can’t stand their aunt and uncle either).

Of course everything culminates with the finding of the wing and the discovery of what it is really used for.  Something that brings Prosper and Scipio together as it could give them something they both want.  But then the question becomes for both of them is it really what they need?

This story is one of friendship and love.  How family is more than just those that are related to you, and how children oftentimes understand things better than adults.

You’ll cheer for Prosper and Bo, and grip the edge of your seat as they and their friends are taken on a magical journey in an already magical city.  And at the end of it all reunite with their friends as they all find exactly what they need: a family where they are loved.

Other Details

My Recommendation: Ok so I guess this is officially a children’s book.  I didn’t know that, not that I care.  It’s definitely suited for children, though probably at least eight or nine and up.  Again my “and up” includes all ages all the way to one hundred and beyond.  Parents read with your kids!

Author: Cornelia Funke

Genre(s): fantasy, adventure

Pages: 349

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

First Released (in English; originally written in German): 2001


+Anima Review

Summary +Anima

In this epic fantasy manga series you journey to the world of the +Anima, people who possess certain animal powers and abilities.  In this world regular humans and +Anima live side by side, however, not always peacefully.

Many humans shun the +Anima out of fear.  Hated by most of the population, +Anima often hide their abilities, even as they look to find those like them.

Enter Cooro, a young boy and a Crow +Anima, on a search to locate others like him.

After being captured by a traveling circus that uses +Anima in their acts, Cooro meets Husky, a Fish +Anima also forced to perform in the circus.  While at first Husky doesn’t seem inclined to be friends with Cooro, the two eventually escape the circus and set off together on an unbelievable journey.

Along the way they are joined be Senri, a Bear +Anima who is part of a tribe of people known as the Kim-un-Kur who take pride in being +Anima, and Nana, a young girl and Bat +Anima who although it saved her life would rather just be normal.

Together the band of four travel across the land getting into many adventures along the way.  From getting tricked into helping a town, to journeying across Moss Mountain with a caravan and even into the country of Sailand, where being a +Anima isn’t just looked down upon it’s illegal, the group must be careful of danger and betrayal at every turn.

And when they find out the real reason for their journey will this group that have become so close be torn apart forever?

In a world vehemently set against anything different, Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana will search, hope, and fight for a place to belong.

Thoughts on +Anima

I absolutely adore this manga series.  I read the first volume in one sitting, and then was very upset to realize that the second volume wasn’t even out yet!  They are all out now, so I really encourage you to get hooked!

The story is beautiful both in its writing and in its drawings.  The story itself warms your heart as you follow the +Anima on their journey for acceptance.  The truth is, it is a very serious topic but it is written in an optimistic way that gives you hope even in the darkest times.

There is always a lot of humor between the band of four as even when Husky and Nana try to be serious Cooro always has to be the goofball.  The heart-pounding adventures they get into are even laced with humor as they keep you on the edge of your seat.  You’ll always be wondering what’s going to happen next?

The story itself draws you in from the very first page with a mystery: Just who is Cooro?  That is a question that hangs over the entire story and is even asked by the other characters.

+Anima are not born as such, they become +Anima usually due to a stressful situation like having their lives put in danger.  Husky, Senri, and Nana all have experience with this.

Cooro, however, tells them he was born with his crow-like abilities.  The reader from page one sees that this is true, and this in itself is a mystery that it appears Cooro does not even know the answer to.

Another mystery emerges in the form of a man, wrapped in shadow, who is following the progress of the band of four…. and seems to know Cooro.

These mysteries were very strategically placed in the beginning of the story and then brought up again in specific spots throughout the story making you want to read more.  I just had to know these answers!  Very smart of Natsumi Mukai to place the answers at the end of the series.

The plot is wonderful, but it’s the characters you’ll fall in love with.  Husky, though a bit rough around the edges and agitated with the fact that everyone always thinks he’s a girl, steadfastly stands by his friends.

Senri may not say much but what he does say speaks volumes of his compassion.  Nana may seem like a frivolous girl at times but she knows what’s important and is there when it counts.

And Cooro brings them all together.  He may have a mysterious origin but he is the funniest of the group, and constantly blowing their cover as he spreads his wings at the drop of a hat!  As any group leader in manga he is always getting into some kind of trouble and is always eating.

Husky, Nana, and Senri always find themselves in situations where they are pulled into danger by Cooro’s actions, yet they continue to follow him.  Because also as any leader in manga, Cooro has the kindest heart of anyone and can’t stop himself from helping someone in need.

That attitude may be just what is needed to help +Anima be better understood and accepted.  That was a big reason I enjoyed this manga.  It deals with issues that occur in our world today.

It takes a look at world where those who are different are hated and feared before they even say or do anything.  How human nature is flawed.  It is a very relatable theme.

As you follow the story of Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana, you’ll laugh, be on the edge of your seat, and cheer as they go on an adventure with a curious end and just maybe find where they’ve always belonged.

Other Details

My Recommendation: This manga series is rated T for teen meaning 13 and up.  I would say that’s probably accurate (manga ratings usually are).  Younger children may not fully understand the underlying themes, but use your own discretion.  A mature 11 or 12 year old could handle it, but I really wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 10.

Manga-ka: Natsumi Mukai

Genre(s): fantasy

Publisher (English): Tokyopop

Volumes Released (in English): 10; this series is complete

First Released (in English): 2006