A to Z Challenge

Reflecting on a Double A-Z Challenge 2023 #A-ZReflections #AtoZChallenge

April has come and gone, and now it’s time to reflect on how the A-Z Challenge went.

Learn more about the Challenge here.

April went by in a swirl of blog posts — and not just my own, but all those I visited. Let’s first look at my blog posts for April.

My A-Z of Book Recommendations and Reviews 2023 (AKA my languishing TBR):

an a to z of book reviews and recommendations

A – ARCs (Return to Silverhills by Sandra Cox, Proof of Existence by J Lenni Dorner, Twice Upon a Name by various authors, With a Demon’s Eye by JF Penn)

B – Bane, books by Theresa Bane (Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures, Encyclopedia of Imaginary and Mythical Places, Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore, Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology, Encyclopedia of Giants and Humanoids in Myth, Legend and Folklore, Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology)

C – Crookshollow trilogy by Steffanie Holmes (Art of Cunning, Art of the Hunt, Art of Temptation)

D – The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo

E – Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch & Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch by Julie Abe

F – Friend Request by Laura Marshall

G – The Girl and the Witch’s Garden by Erin Bowman

H – Books with Horses on the Cover (Kerry EB Black books: Carousel of Nightmares, Fairy Herds & Mythscapes, Herd of Nightmares)

I – Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon

J – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (also: The Wedding of Antanasia Jessica Packwood and Lucius Valeriu Vladescu, Jessica Rules the Dark Side)

K – Once Upon a Kiss by various authors

L – The Light Between Worlds by Laura E Weymouth

M – Manderley Academy trilogy by Steffanie Holmes (Ghosted, Haunted, Spirited)

N – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

O – The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt edited by Ian Shaw

P – A Psalm of Storms and Silence & A Song of Wraith’s and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown

Q – Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh

R – Wicked Saints, Ruthless Gods, Blessed Monsters by Emily A Duncan

S – Blood Sisters by various authors

T – Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

U – Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

V – Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

W – The Witches by Roald Dahl

X – 30 Seconds by Chrys Fey

Y – You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

Z – ZZZ Books that didn’t make this cut this year (they got DNFed).

My A-Z of Faerie 2023:

An A to Z of Faerie

A – Accomplished Athena

B – Birds of Faerie (faery animals)

C – Cannibalistic Fae: Ogres

D – Dichotomy of the Sasabonsam

E – Earth Mother Demeter

F – Fiery Farralis

G – Giants of All Kinds

H – Huge Snake: Apophis

I – Infinite Knowledge: Thoth

J – Jolly Leprechauns

K – King of the Underworld: Hades

L – Let it Go: Lethe

M – Mystifying Muse

N – Nymphs of all kinds

O – Oreads: Nymphs of the Mountains

P – Playful Phouka

Q – Queen of the Gods: Hera

R – The Original Riddler: The Sphinx

S – Speedy Steeds

T – Terrifying Trolls

U – Underrated Hecate

V – Violent Artemis

W – Warrior God: Ares

X – Experiments Galore: Hephaestus

Y – Yodelling Dwarfs

Z – Zoo: Faery Frogs

A swirl of colour. Image credit.

My top commenters in April 2023:

My favourite blogs from April 2023:

Comparing it to previous years, this is a whole new crop of favourite blogs! 2021 | 2022

I was featured over on the Operation Awesome blog for R. You can read my interview here.

And Jemima Pett mentioned my book “Magic at Midnight” in her M post here and “Unseen” in her U post here.

As always, there were things that I liked and disliked from the challenge.


  • I added more books to my TBR!
  • I liked that a lot of my usual A-Z peeps were back for more this year.
  • I tried out ChatGPT and now have a new research assistant for when I get stuck.
  • Thanks to a blog about decluttering, I’ve tackled a project a week (my closet, my email, etc.) and feel like I have more “space”. The stuff I could donate, I did. You can check out the awesome posts about cats and decluttering here.
  • I also had a couple of comments from people who liked the graphics I used in my posts — the ones I created and the ones I sourced.
  • I read and reviewed a lot of books that I’ve had for ages and never seem to get around to reading.
  • I wrote 26 new folklore posts and made a list of more I want to write.


I had a laundry list of dislikes, but honestly — who needs it? I’m just keeping the ones that affected me personally.

  • The internet sucked, so at times my scheduled posts didn’t go live and I had to manually do it hours later.
  • Sometimes blogs made my thoughtful comments just disappear after I’ve posted them.
  • Not everyone I visited returned the favour.
  • Some sites blocked my comments because it was seen as spam when I added my hyperlinks (as encouraged on the A-Z blog) — or even just because of my IP address. Not cool.
  • People who post the main part of their post in Italics made it inaccessible to someone like me who has vision issues. A bit of Italics is fine, but not if it’s everything.
  • Now all of these were irksome, but do you know what made me mad? When I would return to someone’s post to see what their reply would have been to a thoughtful comment I’ve left, only to find that they’ve deleted my comment. Why? Probably because I have pointed out that what they are wondering about is seventy years or more in the past and that there are books (titles recommended) to fill in the gaps.

How I approached this year’s A-Z

So on day one, I got a copy of the master list, and started going through it. All blogs marked adult content or continuous story were immediately removed from the list. I just didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with continuous stories this month (except for Roland’s, but that’s because I’ve known him for years and know that I like his stories.) Then I removed everyone I know I don’t get along with — like someone who said something not-nice about Millennials last year (I’m a Millennial). And then I started visiting blogs. My dislike list rapidly grew on day one… But I culled my copy of the master list to a manageable number. And then added to it on day two…

Thankfully day one was a Saturday and we miraculously had internet for most of the day.

It was clear from day one that my decision to do a double A-Z was a good one: a lot of people commented in the folklore post that they preferred that to the bookish post. And the bookish post had a lot of love, too.

Unfortunately I didn’t have all of my posts done before April as I usually do, so there was a bit of added stress to get everything done. Which I accomplished, BTW.

By the time the first week was over, I decided to remove some blogs I’ve been visiting regularly as they never made an attempt to either visit me back or to reply to my comments on their blog. I know that life can get in the way sometimes, but is it too much to ask to at least “like” one of my posts? I said in last year’s reflection post that I’ll have to reassess how I do the commenting and visiting thing, this is how I did it.

Visits went down after the initial revisiting, so I culled those blogs, too. No point in offering two posts a day if someone I visited can’t find it in them to at least like something I did… The point of the A-Z Challenge is after all to read blogs out of your usual sphere and make new friends and learn about new stuff.

A special thanks to Chrys Fey for the info at the bottom of her posts about commenting. I’ve added a modified version to my own info block in case that is the issue people are struggling with.

So by the time the first Thursday rolled around, the internet either didn’t work or only worked sporadically, so I was only able to post on Instagram, add my reviews to Goodreads and BookBub and my links to the A-Z blog. This lasted for a little over a week.

I also got flu during that week… that turned into bronchitis that lasted until the end of the month. (I’m better now.)

And adopted two new puppies! Caitlin was having a hard time, so I got her puppies to distract her from her grief. Stiles and Ruby enjoy them, too. (I’ll be posting more photos of them on my Instagram if anyone wants to watch them grow up.)

rottweiler puppy collage


Will I do the A-Z Challenge again next year?

Yes. I’ll have to think on how I’ll be approaching it, though, and what I’ll be posting about.

Books keep and reciprocate our secrets, dreams, regrets, and hopes better than any friend in the world. drea damara quote

So, that was this April’s A to Z Challenge. I look forward to hear what you liked about my posts, what you disliked and what you would like to see in the future. What was your favourite part of blogging during April? Any favourite themes or blogs?

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31 thoughts on “Reflecting on a Double A-Z Challenge 2023 #A-ZReflections #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Very comprehensive and thoughtful reflection. I somehow missed your blog during the month so will take a look now that I’ve a little downtime.

  2. Visiting back from the A to Z reflections. I read The Witches a long time ago, when my children were reading Roald Dahl books. Apart from that I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned. Well done for completing two A to Zs at once; it’s a lot of work, especially when you caught flu!

  3. That was a great Reflections post. Congratulations on the achievement of finishing two themes. I used to do more than one, but this year I had a struggle to manage one. Also I was limited with my computer access so I didn’t get to visit around as much as I would have liked.

    You did very well. Thank you for being a part of A to Z and for leaving such a thoughtful closing statement.


  4. I dealt with some seriously frustrating S-P-A-M issues from Blogger. Not only did it chuck some of your comments in there, but it even tossed out my own replies. Mine. On my own freaking site!!! 😣🤬 Oh, I had some *feelings* when I learned about that.

    My approach this year was… not good. I tried just going straight-shot down the list. But then I really wanted to stop and reply to comments, and then visit those people. And then the time I had scheduled for commenting got blown to bits when my spouse got the call about a family member being “made comfortable.” Which brought up a lot for us, and meant we were traveling there any time we had four hours together, home, and awake. And then she passed, which was inevitable. I am glad we were able to be there. But I am deeply disappointed that I didn’t get to visit more. For one, because I’m a cohost, for two because I was promoting my book, and three because I LOVE visiting blogs! 😤

    Anyway. I think it was very bold of you to do the double challenge. I did it once. My experience was that it meant half as many comments on any given post, and me being twice as exhausted.

  5. Visiting back from A to Z Reflections. Impressed that you did a double challenge! Thanks for visiting my blog and apologies for not visiting yours consistently — the writing just got away from me. Congrats on completing the challenge and hopefully see you next year.

  6. Congratulations, Ronel, on a job (several jobs) exceptionally well done.

    Like your posts, your reflections are analytical and beautifully expressed. I have some sympathy for your views on comments and commenters!

    I’m sorry you were ill and hope you have fully recovered.

    To take on two puppies as well is just amazing. I have a 6-month-old puppy, so have some understanding of what you have undertaken.

  7. Very comprehensive wrap-up. I’m glad you mentioned the problem you have with italics. I sometimes use italics when I transcribe a letter or an article. I will stop doing that.

    Congratulations on completing two challenges amidst all the internet problems etc.

  8. I had considered doing the A to Z challenge this year, but opted not to. It was a good thing I did because the end of February life went off the rails for a few months and I wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy it if I had signed up.

  9. Visiting from A to Z Reflections (and thank you for visiting my Reflections post). Blogger (my platform) was not on its best behavior and I can imagine some had trouble commenting on my blog because I had trouble commenting on theirs. (Sigh) I didn’t have Internet problems but something else intervened and such is life. Also, I like looking at “favorite blogs from this year’s Challenge” lists (although I don’t do one myself) and I saw some blogs on your list that were gardening blogs – one of my interests – and I hope to visit them. Eventually. I won’t sign up officially for the Road Trip. But again, congrats.

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