Tag Archives: book tag

Challenge: The Joy of Christmas Book Tag


I found this book tag on Adventures of a Bibliophile, who found it on The Terror of Knowing, who found it on Thrice Read, who found it on Macsbooks, who found it on the Booktubers Wikia, which I also didn’t know existed and am excited to find.  This tag originated with Samantha at Sam’s Nonsense.

Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

I know what I want! I want that first book in the new sequel series to Maggie Steifvater’s The Raven Cycle, a series all about Ronan Lynch! I hear a draft has been edited—and did I hear that it has been turned into the publisher? Did I dream that?

Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing its praises?

Rick Riordan is amazing. He is so excellently including blacker, browner, queerer characters in his mainstream middle grade fiction, and he is too popular and too well respected for most people to complain. He was so smart, writing a whiter, more heteronormative series first, and then learning from his fans. He learns from his fans—and that is the best. He is turning out books quickly and keeping himself relevant.

Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

One of the most expansive, deepest worlds that I’ve entered is Patrick Rothfuss’ Temerant—specifically the Four Corners of Civilization where the story he is now telling in The Kingkiller Chronicles take place. There are multiple, distinct cultures with their own traditions, beliefs, histories and folklore, governments, dress, and language. There are several sentient races. No one else that I know has a board game that can be bought in stores with its own history and multiple variations based on who is playing and when and where in the world they are playing. No one else I know knows the history and exchange rates of several currencies within his world.

A Christmas Carol: Favorite classic or one that you want to read?

I am currently reading Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid. I’ve read parts of it for a class before, but I have never read it in full—but more than Aeneid, I want to read Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey. I’ve read several other translations, but hers is the first published by a woman, and I’ve heard that she’s erased some patriarchal mistranslations.

Odyssey is my favorite of the classics that I’ve read—specifically I’ve liked Robert Fitzgerald’s translation the best yet.

That is what you meant by “classic,” right?

Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas?

This is not a short list—and I am sure there are more on there that I don’t yet know about. But I have had my eye on the illustrated Harry Potter books, which I can’t justify buying for myself—or just anything that I’ve been wanting. I’m missing a book of Riordan’s. I’m missing all of the Rick Riordan Presents. There are other books I am waiting to buy. I need a copy of Chainbreaker by Tara Sim. I want to read Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. I like picture books, but I can’t justify spending money on them myself. There are graphic novels I would love to own: the whole Avatar: The Last Airbender set, Craig Thompson’s—but don’t own for the same reason that I so rarely buy myself picture books; it’s a lot of money for a few hours’ enjoyment.

What I got was a signed copy of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, and I am not at all displeased.

Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling?

I have a hard time finding books that give me warm fuzzies—because generally that’s not what I’m looking for in a novel. Most recently though? I was given very warm fuzzies from the budding romance between Colton and Danny in Tara Sim’s Timekeeper. Those were warmer, fuzzier feelings even than I am getting from the sword and sorcery romance series that I am rereading.

Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?

I work in a bookstore. I see good covers all the time. ALL THE TIME. And very few of the books behind those covers have I ever—will I ever—read. As I look around my room I see more books that I’ve brought home because the cover and the jacket blurb convinced me. Books like Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (Hatem Aly), like Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Secret Keepers (Diana Sudyka), like Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone (Rich Deas), which I am actually very slowly reading now because I am not ready for that level of emotion.


Of the books that I’ve read, I think that John Rocco did a wonderful job with Riordan’s books, particularly for The Heroes of Olympus, particularly The Son of Neptune and The House of Hades, but also on The Kane Chronicles, particularly The Serpent’s Shadow. I think Mary GrandPré did a great job with the Harry Potter covers, particularly for The Order of the Phoenix and The Deathly Hallows but recognize that I like those perhaps more for their nostalgia than for their merit alone (a poster of The Deathly Hallows hung in my bedroom for several years), but I like Jonny Duddle’s covers for The Philosopher’s Stone and for The Deathly Hallows best of all of the English-language versions yet.



Some special mention needs to be made for Morgan Rhodes’ Rebel Spring (Shane Rebenschied) and Shannon Messenger’s Flashback (Jason Chan) for having amazing covers which almost alone are the reasons I want to read these series—though I’ve not started either. I guess the way to draw me in is to threaten or attack me with a shiny, pointed weapon.


Looking at these all side by side, I think that I like jewel tones too, emotional faces of realistically painted heroes and heroines, lots of detail.

Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favorite Christmas memories?

I want to change this one, because this question does not seem appropriately bookish. So let me pose this question instead: What is your favorite Christmastime scene from a book? You don’t come here to learn about my memories—or you shouldn’t do, because that isn’t what I’m here to share—you are here to learn about books!

I think the Christmas scene that gives me the warmest fuzzies is Will Stanton and Merriman singing parts of “Good King Wenceslas” in The Dark Is Rising on Christmas Eve to open the magical portal to the room that holds the book that teaches Will EVERYTHING. But young Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in the film version of The Sorcerer’s Stone exchanging “Happy Christmas, Harry” and “Happy Christmas, Ron” and Daniel’s astonished “I have presents?” warm my heart more than most anything could do.

Merry Christmas, my readers, whatever you may be doing today, whether you are celebrating or not.  And hey! if you complete this book tag, let me know; I’d love to read about some of your favorites.  Cheers!


Challenge: Zombpocalypse Book Tag


I just really like using the word zombpocalypse.  But officially, this is known as:

The Zombie Outbreak Survival Team Book Tag:

Step 1: Choose six books from your shelves: two with titles that contain your first initial, two with titles that contain your second initial, and two with titles that contain your last initial.

I cheated a bit. I had a really hard time finding any books that even included a word in the title that began with J that I remembered well enough to know who these characters were. I guess I have some rereading to do. I did have three books I could I knew really well with titles beginning with K, so… 3 Ks, 1 J, and 2 Es. I mean. I didn’t cheat a lot. And these are much more fun when you remember the characters.

Step 2: Draw the names of those six books out of a hat in random order then answer the following questions:

Open your first book to a random page. The character whose name you see first just dragged you out from whatever hiding place you’ve holed up in (let’s just face it – we’d all start out under the bed). This character probably just saved your life, and is destined to become your best friend before all this is over. Also, s/he is the leader of the EZFBKs. (Don’t get jealous. You thought you would be invisible so long as your head was covered by your lucky ducky blanket.)

1777211Book 1: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

And Vetch is the first name I see. I love Vetch. Yeah, he could lead EZFBK, and I’d love to be his bestie. He’s an excellent bestie.

Open your second book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is your weapons supplier. What sort of weapons does s/he have stashed in the basement?

Book 2: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee mockinbird

All of these fantasy books, and I get the one realistic, historical fiction. Jem’s gonna be supplying our weapons. So… guns, knives, slingshots, rope. All very practical. Probably less likely than the magical or sci-fi weapons to backfire on us or die because there’s no more electricity available due to the plague. I guess. But I was kind of hoping for some magical or at least high-tech weapons.

Open your third book to a random page. The character whose name you see first just died in front of you. This apocalypse just got getting serious.

9780756404741MBook 3: The Kingkiller Chronicles, Book 1: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Fela. Fela just died. Not sweet, loyal, intelligent Fela, who knows the Name of Stone.  She was probably doing something idiotically heroic.  She’s probably one of the last people who should have died of this group.

Open your fourth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is your vehicle specialist. I hope s/he has a fast ride…

Book 4: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kiplingjungle

There’s a lot of irony in this book tag…. “By the broken lock that freed me, I am sure, Little Brother.” Little Brother here is Mowgli. I think we’ll be riding whatever wild animals Mowgli can convince to let us ride on their backs. I mean… could be worse?

Open your fifth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is your medic.

enderBook 5: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Bonzo. This team gets worse and worse…. I’d rather avoid Bonzo entirely.

Open your sixth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is… well, you’re honestly not sure how this person ended up on your team, or how s/he is still alive. But every team you’ve ever seen has one of these Resident Idiots, so maybe they’re good luck.

Book 6: The Kane Chronicles, Book 1: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordanpyramid

Ha! Carter and Sadie’s British Gran, Catherine Faust, is… why is she here?


All right… recap….

Vetch saved me, pulling me out from under the bed and taking me with him and his team on the run. Time to smash some zombie heads! Vetch I’m excited to see. He has magic. He’s a good friend. He’ll get me through this somehow. EXCEPT the only weapons that Jem can find are those available in the early 1930s in rural Alabama. So, you know, at least they’re not likely to run on electricity, which might be scarce. Mowgli has convinced several of his animal friends to help us, but they get tired too, and we’re heavy loads for most of them. At least we won’t run out of fuel, though they will have to stop to hunt or graze. Sweet Fela dies in front of me, and that breaks all our hearts. Bonzo is not the person I’d most trust to be our medic. Vetch would be better, but Vetch is too busy leading to also be medic. At least Bonzo’s trained for war. I just don’t like him. Gran’s here too. I hope she’s not our cook, or we’ll be eating a lot of burnt biscuits. She’s tougher than she looks though, and maybe a zombpocalypse will convince her to unleash some Egyptian magic—though that’s not likely.

You know, actually, we just might make it, our low-tech team, led by a kind-hearted wizard, with our battle-trained medic who you know will try to wrest power, and with our Gran who might just cave to the magic in her veins too.  Yeah, I might read that novel.

I think this book tag originated with Gwen over at Apprentice, Never Master. Anyway, that’s where I found it. Thanks, Gwen, for a fun, relaxing blog post for my fuzzy, sickly brain. I really enjoyed that way of choosing books—very unique—even if it was a little hard. (It’d’ve been easier if my memory was better.)

Challenge: Make Me Your Villain Book Tag


You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve had a difficult time a) finding the inertia and b) finding the time to write blog posts these past few months. I think when I say that the last few months have been hard most of you will probably understand exactly what I mean. I was browsing through past posts and tags of mine and rediscovered some of the book tags I’d written. I remembered how fun they were and how I’d used them when a week had been hard and I hadn’t had the time or energy to write a review or reflect. They gave me direction then. They made me laugh.

This seems a great time to resurrect the book tag. And I think after a fair bit of searching I’ve found one I like a lot.

(Note: If anyone has any book tags they’ve done or ones that they’ve enjoyed reading in the past, particularly ones like this where books are chosen at random and different things in their pages are used to create a story of sorts, please do post a link in the comments section. I’d love some more to do.)

SJ Bouquet of A Tree Grows in Bookland and a friend Dash originated this tag, which is called Make Me Your Villain.

I’ve edited the rules a bit, as I always seem to do. I don’t like choosing books at random, so using my own rule I’ve chosen the last books I’ve read—in this case the last 7 (it would be 6, but I couldn’t decide whether or not to use two books from the same series, so I decided to put both in and let fate decide, but also to put in another book so fate could decide). I put the names on bits of paper and drew the names.

For this tag, you will also need some music playing device.

Villain name: Every good villain needs a name that inspires awe and fear. Pick one random book. Look at the front and back cover, and the inside flaps. Pick the first adjective you see. Then, look at your bookshelf and pick the first noun you see from all the covers. Put the adjective and noun together. That’s your name.

Again, I don’t like chance and don’t trust my eyes to be objective. And I frankly misread this direction at first. First adjective on the page it is. I did glance up at my bookcase for a noun however.

15724396Magnus Chase, Book One: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan, page 155.

“Blitz, I said sure.”

The dwarf blinked. “But I had this whole speech prepared.”12127810

“No need. I trust you.”

The strange thing? I was telling the truth.

When I glanced up at the shelf, I saw first the title The House of Hades, The Heroes of Olympus, Book Four also by Rick Riordan.

So… Strange House is my name.

Your Weapon or Power: This is important. This is how you’ll vanquish your enemies and assert your dominance and protect your authority. Pick a random book. Turn to page 66. Choose the 6th noun on the page. This can result in mundane objects such as “CD” or “sock” or “thing”. Regardless of how stupid it is, that’s your weapon. You can get creative with that thing though! For example- “Sock” is another word for punching. You have the power of packing a great punch now. You’re very strong. You’ve the power of SOCK!

9781484732786This is fated to be a Riordan filled tag then. The sixth noun on page 66 of Riordan’s Demigods and Magicians is… either “Annabeth” if I include proper nouns or “people” if I do not. I think I’m giving myself the power or weapon of people. How am I interpreting that? I have no super power. I am an ordinary human. And I use human minions. The ordinary villains, the ones you could meet in an everyday situation, those are sometimes the most frightening.

Weakness: Pick a random book, flip through the pages, and pick the first gerund (word ending in -ing) that you see. This is your weakness. Watch out… this is how The Hero will squash you.

11The first gerund on page 81 of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is… There are no gerunds on page 81. Gerunds are –ing words that function as nouns. I have a present participle, an –ing word functioning as an adjective or adverb.

“Well, do you think this is Southend?”

“Oh yes.”

“So do I.”

“Therefore we must be mad.”

“Nice day for it.”

“Yes,” said a passing maniac.

Passing… We’ll revisit this when I learn more about the story.

Villain Theme Song: Go to your iPod. Hit shuffle. Whichever song pops up first (no skipping!), this is your theme song. This is the prelude to your grand entrance.

Oh I love this. Right now I am listening to Something Corporate’s “If You C Jordan.” (Please beware if you look this song up in polite company.)


Evil Henchman: Grab a random book. Turn to page 66. Pick the first name you see. This is the person who always has your back and follows up your threats with cheesy one liners.

9780767927055The first name on page 66 of Leonie Swann’s Three Bags Full is Melmoth, Sir Ritchfield’s twin brother who “left the flock” as a lamb and is something of a legend and boogey-sheep among the flock.

He’s known for wise, confusing statements and advice… not cheesy one-liners, but maybe all my human foes hear are bleats, which might seem cheesy, I suppose. But the idea of Melmoth as a henchman—henchsheep…. I like it. An ordinary human villain who uses other people as her weapons is also followed by a wandering sheep who left his flock and has gained wisdom from walking the world but now puzzles the sheep that he left. He’ll be my right hand sheep, the one always by my side.

(Point of interest: Melmoth is sheep 13 on that cover, the lower of the two nearly identical horned rams.)

Love interest: Hey. Sometimes the bad guy gets the girl. He may have to manipulate her 13449693or kidnap her into fulfilling the love interest role, but it’s not unheard of. Evil people can find love too! Pick a random book, flip through the pages. The first name you find is your love interest.

The first name on page 73 of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, Book One: The Raven Boys is Gansey. Of course it is.

The Hero: and finally, your Arch Nemesis! Get yourself a 9781338099133_default_pdprandom book, flip to a random page, and pick the first name you see! NOW FIGHT!

Fate decides I cannot use two books from the same series. The first name on page 63 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (and it’s filled with names since each line starts with a speaker) is Albus. Albus Severus Potter.

All right… so: I, Strange House, am an everyday sort of villain, and I have a squad of other everyday sort of people who are my weapons and strength. My theme song is Something Corporate’s “If You C Jordan.” Some punk in high school named Jordan left me very bitter, and perhaps that’s why I’m so cruel and my heart’s so twisted now. I love Richard Gansey III. He’s easy to love. Not surprising. He can be the one who makes this a fantasy novel, the one to bring the magic and believe in it.  My right-hand ram is Melmoth, the wanderer who disappeared, who left the flock, who broke the rules.  He will bleat fiercely at my enemies.  He will say very wise, poetic things, but no one will understand.  One day Albus Severus Potter will defeat me by passing. Maybe he’s on his way to defeat someone else, and I’m his collateral damage. Yeah… I’m kind of liking this.

Someone draw Melmoth and I? Maybe with Gansey? Or me being pushed down by Albus on his way to somewhere else with Melmoth trying to catch me, looking scared?

SJ Bouquet, Dash, that was really fun.

*It has just been pointed out to me that I… am not named Strange House.  I am Whole House, which I like a lot better actually.


Challenge: A Quest!


I’m going on an adventure! (And there’s going to be magic, and royalty, and an epic quest, and a dark lord at the end.)

I’ve borrowed this book tag from Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master.

Step 1: Choose eight non-fantasy books from your bookshelves. (I’m bending the rules already. I haven’t got a lot of non-fantasy novels in my collection. Though I could probably dig up eight, I may not remember their plots all that well; it’s probably a lot of classics. I’m choosing the last eight novels that I read, two of which do happen to be realistic fiction.) If you choose fantasy books, no one will come after you with pitchforks, but you’ll probably laugh less.

Step 2: Draw the names of those eight books out of a hat in random order then answer the following questions:

0-545-22224-9What word does the title of your first book begin with? If it’s “the,” your quest will be made with the sole aim of destroying a magical object which becomes addictive to anyone who holds it too long. If it’s anything other than “the,” you’ll simply be looking to find a magical object which is rumored to be able to save the world or maybe grant one wish to the discoverer.

Book 1: No Such Thing As Dragons by Philip Reeve.

Looks like I’ve stumbled into a fairy tale with a wish-fulfilling object.

While you’re holding your first book, open it to a random page. The first object you see on the page has just become magical. This is what you’ll be destroying or seeking out, depending on the previous question. Are you in trouble?

The first object I saw was a path. I kind of like the idea of the path. This magical path through the mountains will lead you to your heart’s desire maybe.

25851271Where is your second book set? This is where you must go either to destroy your magical object, or to find it.

Book 2: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.

I’m searching for this magical path in eastern, small town USA, probably nearer the coast.

7736182Open your third book to a random page. The character whose name you see first ages up to around 700 years old and becomes the wizard who starts you on your quest. On a scale of Gandalf to Dumbledore, how grumpy is s/he?

Book 3: The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.

The first character I see on this page is Drew. Really? All the awesome people who could show up, and it’s Drew? She is actually likely to be a fairly unpleasant 700-year-old wizard. She’s a fairly unpleasant teenager. Why does she send us on this quest for the wish-fulfilling path? Probably she doesn’t mean to. Probably she tried to find it herself, and never succeeded, and mentioned it in passing while grumbling over her unfulfilling 700 years.

21060Open your fourth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is the soldier who has joined your party for mysterious reasons. S/he may possibly be rugged, taciturn, scarred, carry a named weapon, or any combination there of. What’s his/her secret?

Book 4: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.

Well, the first name on the page is Merinder’s, which is a family name, but at this point in the story refers to the tyrannical king, Galdran. There’s someone speaking, though I don’t remember whom, to the “I” that is Mel, but I’m probably stuck with Merinder, huh? If I had to guess, Galdran’s secret is that he is a terrible fighter, really, and on the run from a coup that toppled his rule and would have his head if it found him.

8755776Open your fifth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is now royalty. Possibly an heir to the throne, possibly just a second or third child allowed to go on adventures with Mommy and Daddy’s money. Every quest needs one. How useful is s/he?

Book 5: The Mortal Instruments, Book 5: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.

The first name on the page is Hodge’s. Poor, dead Hodge’s. Jocelyn is speaking. If I took Merinder, I probably should take Hodge, but it’s been so long since Hodge was among the living that I don’t remember a whole lot about his character other than what roles he played in the plot. So I’m taking Jocelyn. And she’s an awesome princess. She’s probably running away from a marriage that she doesn’t want and has been adventuring since escaping. Whether or not there’s a child left with some wizard may be a question for a campfire confessional.

1513207Open your sixth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first joins the party and immediately starts a not-so-friendly rivalry with the royal member of your party. It is never relevant to the plot. Why don’t they like each other, and what nicknames do they give each other?

Book 6: The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book Two: The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

Will Stanton doesn’t like Jocelyn Fairchild. Her wild red hair and wild laugh remind him of Maggie, and she carries too many secrets, which only add to his distrust of her. Jocelyn doesn’t like Will. Will claims to defend humanity but he seems too gentle and carries no weapons. Jocelyn thinks that Will is all talk. Jocelyn’s insults are probably more acerbic versions of “boy” and “child” (because I’m not very good at inventing biting insults).  Will is usually above name-calling. But he will snip at her. He calls her wild and irresponsible and reckless, and generally treats her like a child.

9780142402511Open your seventh book to a random page. The character whose name you see first has exactly two useful skills: cooking and extreme loyalty. Of course, this makes him/her the most important member of the party.

Book 7: Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Colonel is extremely loyal and a good cook. Ehn. Yeah. I can see that. But he’s secretly extremely intelligent and good at making plans. He’ll be a good one to have forgotten about in a fight.

26143217Open your eighth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first now has all the dark powers you can imagine. S/he is the ultimate Dark Lady/Lord. Are you in trouble?

Book 8: The World That Forgot How to Dance by Olivia Berrier.

Ellsie is our Dark Lady. She performs magic by dancing. A few quick steps and she encases us all in a ring of fire or a tangle of chain. Her dancing has gotten even better since the end of this book. And with Lester beside her, she’s revived some of the old, darker magic—all in the attempt to revive magic and bring magic and magic-practitioners out of hiding. Somewhere her ideals must have gotten a bit skewed. There’s some very interesting backstory I’m sure as to how she became a villain and why she wants to keep us all from reaching the magical, wish-fulfilling path. Maybe it’s magic only works once and she wants it to work for her? She’d be a fairly formidable foe, really, but I have some fairly powerful friends in this fight—Will and Jocelyn specifically. Galdran and the Colonel will be less help—though I think the Colonel can engineer a rescue plan pretty well. He just might get tripped up not quite knowing how to combat magic.

Challenge: The Murder Plot


I took this challenge from Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master.

By the rules of this tag, I’ve just been murdered.

Seeing as I’m the one breaking the news to you, I can only assume that I’m a ghost.

Time to figure out what happened to me.

Step 1: Choose six red, black, or white books from your shelves. Just to set the mood.

I wasn’t able to choose six. I pulled all of the red and black books together and put them ALL in a hat/Tupperware container and let fate decide the books that I would use.

Oops. My cat snuck into the shot.

My cat refused to leave the shot, but she’s nicely color coordinated with these covers.

Step 2: Draw the names of those six books out of a hat in random order then answer the following questions:

Open your first book to a random page. Wherever this scene takes place is where you were murdered.


How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

Apparently, I am murdered while climbing up the slippery, snowy Wild Dragon Cliff on the Isle of Berk, where the dragons hibernate for the winter in four caves up the cliff-side positioned so that they look roughly in the shape of a skull. Props to my murderer for choosing a place with character and the proper atmosphere—and also somewhere where my murder will look like an accident.

From your second book, choose an object that is important to the plot. There, you have the murder weapon.

13497A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin.

Well, there is no shortage of weapons in this book—though of all of the books in this series, this one has the least legendary weapons—no Jon and no Stannis in a POV role, so neither of their swords is here. Maybe Brienne’s Oathkeeper is the most important of the weapons in this book. Which, you know, is a nice sword. Valyrian steel.  And made from Ice, which had a good history of its own.

Open your third book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is the lead investigator on your murder. How is s/he doing?

BronteJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Mr. Rochester is investigating my murder. It’s early in the book yet. He’s a crafty character. He’s good at keeping secrets. He’s got a fair bit of money that could be used to further the investigation. But he’s also moody and distracted by troubles of his own. All in all, I think he’s probably doing an all right job—at least as long as he can keep his mind away from his own attic.

Open your fourth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is the prime suspect. Feel free to invent a motive based on the plot, or what you think you might have done to tick this particular character off.

4556058Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan.

Hades. Hades is the prime suspect. Typical. Everyone blame Hades. The Lord of the Underworld wants more dead people cluttering up his kingdom. He wants more work.

Open your fifth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first is also a suspect. There’s never just one.

15881Year 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling.

Professor McGonagall is a suspect. Really? Because… what? Because she’s a witch? Oh wait. Mr. Rochester is investigating. Maybe she reminds him of his crazy wife.

Open your sixth book to a random page. The character whose name you see first… well, take a good look at that one. It’s the real killer. Is s/he going to get away with it?

344623Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton.

Dignified Londaver killed me. Yes, he’ll get away with it. He’s a Dignified, rich. And he’s a dragon.

So this came back around full circle. I was murdered by a dragon on Wild Dragon Cliffs. And NO ONE saw this? Maybe this was end-of-story Mr. Rochester, blind and unable to see the great beast swooping on me, only able to hear his scream. I don’t know why Londaver needed Oathkeeper to kill me. I think he’s better armed without it. But maybe it’s only honorable to kill a Yarge with a weapon that a Yarge can match.

Challenge: Mansion, Shack, Apartment, or House?


I first saw this book tag through Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master. She says that “The My Future Book Tag was originally created by BookGeekMovieFreak over on YouTube,” and I’m going to trust her on that.

I edited the instructions that Gwen followed a little bit. I wanted to take away the chance for me to, ah, stack the odds in my favor, I suppose. I used the last eight novels that I’d finished reading—with one exception because I’d read two books in the same series). Luckily for me I’ve been rereading a bunch of old favorites anyway, so I’m hoping that my future is bright. I wrote those eight novels on slips of paper and dropped them into a Tupperware dish that could serve as a “hat” to draw from.

Then I started drawing names one at a time and followed the tag’s instructions:

402100Book 1: The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

Open your first book to a random page. If the first word on the page is less than five letters, you’re going to college (celebrate!). If the first word is more than five words, you’re not.
Hey! I mean, I’ve already got a B.A. but the first word is four letters (“Odge”), so maybe that means I’ll one day go back to school? I would like one day to go back to school, when it’ll be less of a financial burden.

Open your first book to a random page. The profession of the character whose name you see first will be your profession. (Note: if the character is still in school, you will be a teacher and if that character’s profession is not mentioned in the book, you will be unemployed.)

I’m planning to deviate from these instructions a bit too, again in the interest of leaving more to fate. Not the first name I see, but the first name on the page. I don’t trust my eyes to be objective.

But there’s only one name on this page: Nanny Brown. Well, Nanny Brown used to be a nanny. Now she’s an old, ill woman confined to a hospital bed. …Let’s just stick with “nanny.” Not a profession I particularly want, but it might pay my bills.

15808621Book 2: The Kingkiller Chronicles, Book 2: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Open your second book to a random page. You’re going to marry the character whose name you see first.

Bast? And I? Anyone know any good binding charms for Fey? I don’t think I trust that husband of mine.

Open your second book to a random page. You’re going to be best friends with the character whose name you see first.

Penthe and I are best friends. All right. A best friend who can kick everybody’s butts never hurts, and she’s a pretty cool gal. And maybe she can ease my mind when it comes to my not so bound husband. After all, men have nothing to do with children. The idea of man-mothers is ridiculous.

6Book 3: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Open your third book to a random page. Count the number of letters in the second word on the page, then subtract two, to see how many children you will have.

“Shoulders.” One, two, three… Two less than nine is seven. Seven. That is a lot of kids. Mind, fiction tells me the last one born will be something special. Better watch out for that one. (Ironically, my favorite character from this book series does have seven kids. She’s all right.)

Open your third book to a random page, once for each child that you will have. The first names you see on each page will be your children. (Note: If you are having zero children – or negative children – you should open the book once. The first name you see is a character you are related to, but you get to decide how.)

1) Harry

2) Bagman. We’ll call him Ludo. That’s a little kinder.

3) Wormtail. Again, let’s call him Peter.

4) You-Know-Who. This is going very poorly. We’ll call this one Tom.

5) Winky. …Winky? I must have let our youngest, Tom, name her. I must have promised. Some promises really should be broken.

6) Harry… II. Did I make the same mistake? Did I let Winky choose his name? Maybe we call him Secundus? What does one do when you have two kids with the same name?

7) Mr. Diggory. Amos. We must have finally learned that adults should pick the kids’ names.

So to recap, that’s Harry, Ludo, Peter, Tom, Winky, Harry II, and Amos.

TST_exlargeBook 4: The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Where does your fourth book take place? Because that’s where you’re going to live.

Carthya. I can live with living in Carthya. Though, yes, let’s holiday out-of-country in Avenia at the sea.

Open your fourth book to a random page. Whatever method of transportation the first character you see usually uses is what you’ll be using. (Note: teleportation and other magical devices are allowed. If the character has no means of transportation, you will be using public transportation.)

“With the gentle manners one might expect from a rabid bulldog, Terrowic threw me over his shoulder.” …I think I’m walking most places, though I bet sometimes Terrowic can find a horse to ride. We thankfully don’t spend much time getting to know Terrowic, though we do spend too much time with him.

561456Book 5: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

Pick your favorite animal that appears in your fifth book to be your pet. If there are no animals in the book, you won’t have a pet.

Haha! I laugh at you from the back of Blackjack, my black pegasus. Eat air!

Open your fifth book to a random page. The first name you see will be your enemy.

…Um… my first random pages use no names. So… try 2! The spirit of Delphi? That… sounds like a problem. The world’s most powerful prophetess is my enemy. Luckily, I don’t think she can influence prophecies. But she’s still not someone I’d want as an enemy, particularly when she’s inhabiting the body of a mummified hippy.

So I go to college then Bast and I marry and live in Carthya but vacation in Avenia with our seven kids: Harry, Ludo, Peter, Tom, Winky, Harry II, and Amos. Amos is probably one to keep an eye on as a seventh child. I become a nanny, putting to financial use the practice my seven have given me. We walk most places, but sometimes we can get a horse, and sometimes I can ride around on the back of my pet pegasus, Blackjack. My best friend Penthe keeps me sane. My worst enemy is the spirit of Delphi.

This has been every bit as ridiculous as M.A.S.H. ever was.

Challenge: A Box of Chocolates Book Tag


This book tag, another challenge from Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master, (mostly) avoids all forms of superlative, and for that I thank it most unabashedly. I may be able to do another of these at any time without feeling the need to repeat any answers. I’m not saying that I will, just that I appreciate the option. So somehow sans superlatives, I’m much more relaxed about this book tag than I was about the royal court.

The royal court was about characters. This book tag is about books. The pile of books that I’ve encountered is a lot smaller than the community of characters, making this tag a lot easier to complete too.

Chocolate Book Tag


The cover is deceivingly bright and peaceful.

Dark Chocolatea book that covers dark things

One of the darkest books I’ve read in a long while is J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, a modern, realistic social drama that deals with the consequences of poverty, drugs, prostitution, marital discord, family discord, family pressure, social pressure, self-harm, suicide, death of a family and community member, the death of a child, preventable death, guilt, hypocrisy… and that’s just what I remembered off the top of my head since I read it in April of 2014. A quick look at my review reveals that too there’s domestic violence, mental illness, workaholism, and rape.

42717White Chocolatea favorite light-hearted read

There are a few books I keep around just for light reading. One of those is Roddy Doyle’s The Giggler Treatment, which is crams clever, absurdist humor into a brief 111 pages with illustrations and chapter divisions.


What will it look like, Tara?

Milk Chocolatea book with a lot of hype right that you’re dying to read

A lot of hype may be a stretch, but there is certainly some hype, especially among the online book review community—or a portion of them. There is not, though, a mainstream book with a lot of hype that I am dying to read right now. Often once a book has garnered a great deal of hype, reading it, as a bookseller, feels more like an obligation that a personal desire. It’s a tricky tightrope. That being said, I am dying to read Tara Sim’s upcoming book, Timekeeper, and not just because she’s a friend and classmate of mine. No cover reveal yet. Certainly no review from me yet. But it is on Goodreads, and it is garnering some notice, as I said, from the bloggers and Tweeters. Timekeeper is expected in Fall 2016. It’s going to be a long wait.

9780312549664Chocolate with a Caramel Centera book that made you feel all warm and gooey on the inside

It really seems as if this question should not be as hard as I’m finding it, but I have been running to my roommate more often than not for “fluff” and not finding much that grabs me among her suggestions. Moreover, because I do have a book review blog, I am often reading books more critically, not giving them the chance sometimes to melt me as effectively. Lastly, I just don’t think I read a lot of fluffy novels, most of them being more the-world-will-end-if-we-don’t adventures. Some of those novels have ooey, gooey scenes or lines, but I would never say that the whole book is mushy. Perhaps the ooiest and gooiest that I can think of it Nancy Tillman’s Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.

0763666483A Wafer-free Kit-Kat a book that surprised you recently

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of rereading, and it’s sort of difficult to be surprised by a reread—not impossible, mind, just difficult. Most of my surprises lately have been unpleasant—as in “I expected so much more from you!” I don’t really want to promote those. Most of the novels that I’ve read this year have been rereads, continuations on a series, or novels that I expected to like and did like. The picture books that I’ve read I either expected to like and didn’t, or I didn’t anticipate reading (most of my picture books are chosen by Barnes & Noble corporate or are read as I walk them home from wherever a customer has left them). Maybe my best surprise has been Steve Light’s Have You Seen My Dragon? which I sort of expected to like because dragon, but I didn’t anticipate having any educational elements. That it doubled as a primer was a pleasant surprise. Even so, that surprise was in March of this year….

Just a few titles are missing from this picture including I Am a Frog!, Waiting Is Not Easy!, and I Will Take a Nap!

Just a few titles are missing from this picture including I Am a Frog!, Waiting Is Not Easy!, and I Will Take a Nap!

Snickers – a book you’re going NUTS about currently

Or a series? I am always recommending to parents and we are always reading at story hour a book from Mo Willem’s (currently) 23-book Elephant and Piggie series. The kids love them. The booksellers love them. The parents love them. They cover a wealth of kids’ struggles and questions with humorous dialogue and illustrations. They are a lot of fun to read aloud.

percyHot chocolate with cream and marshmallowsa favorite comfort read

Can I have a favorite comfort series too? It used to be Harry Potter, hands down. And I’m still often in the middle of one, but now it takes me a year or more now it seems to read through one Harry Potter book. Things have to be pretty bad indeed before I run to Harry and co. Lately I’ve been running more frequently to one of the five books of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Percy and co. are more likely than Harry and co. to make me laugh. The swift pace tumbles me more quickly and more deeply into Percy’s world than I am tumbled into Harry’s (though whether I ever truly leave Harry’s is a potential debate topic), and when I need a comfort read, I likely want to be transported and quickly from my own world and trouble. Some of Harry’s book are furthermore just long, and if I do get sucked into one of those, I am in for a longer commitment, where I can be fairly confident in easily finishing a Percy Jackson book in a few weeks even if I’m reading slowly.

the-kingkiller-chroniclesA box of chocolatea series that has a bit of everything and a lot of people would really really like it
There is a quiet effort at joint conquest between a co-worker and myself. We find one another whenever we manage to get someone to purchase Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind, first in The Kingkiller Chronicles (a book I honestly am NUTS about as well). It takes very little for me to suggest The Name of the Wind. Primarily, I need to be confronted with a reader of a certain age and a certain openness to fantasy. Usually I am not given enough time argue the literary quality of these books to an anti-fantastist and potentially win a convert (a feat I would consider a great victory), but I think I could make that argument convincingly. The first book in the series I consider more of a bildungsroman than not, making it a great stepping stone into adult fantasy for younger readers (teens, new adults, people who prefer children’s literature for whatever reason but are mature enough to handle the darkness allowed by marketing to an older audience—but no one below age 13 certainly, and probably no one below age 16 or so). There is a clever orphan boy who goes to school and succeeds with his cheek and cleverness, makes friends, upsets teachers, learns magic…. You might find that sort of summary (comfortingly) familiar. Rothfuss’ poetic command and convolution of the English language is stunning—just stunning, musical as his protagonist claims to be. The world-building is top notch, especially as the series goes on and we travel the world and encounter different cultures and races, but I was caught by the detail of his magic system far before we ever left the Commonwealth. There are strong female characters who defy patriarchy (though maybe not with as much success as I could hope, at least in the second book). There is political intrigue, and I’m starting to believe there will be even more of that when we eventually get book 3, The Doors of Stone. There’re romances for those who enjoy that. There are periods of darkness to satisfy those craving dark fantasy. I could go on….

Challenge: Royal Court Book Tag


I wholeheartedly accept this challenge from Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master, as I said I would do when she first told me about it. I’ve decided that this must exclude picture books and any media besides books—because it is a book tag. I am also assuming this is already an unspoken rule in this game, but I cannot use the same character twice, even as I look over this list and think of how many titles one particular character is owed. (Watch as I destroy the rules!)

These sorts of games are always tricky—not only because they ask me to choose one out of millions of characters that I’ve encountered in more than a quarter of a century, but also because the number of characters that I’ve encountered is so huge, and I have a difficult time combing through all of the possibilities, likely to get waylaid by whomever I’ve encountered most recently.

King and Queen: Your Favorite male and female leads.


This is my favorite illustration of Cimorene, still toting the symbols of femininity while flaunting the strictures of society. And she’s clearly clever.

Let’s talk about how few books there are in my possession with strong, memorable female leads. Really, let’s. (Some of the onus is on me, of course. There are some books here with female leads whom I like but I just don’t love, whom I don’t feel all that close to, or whom for whatever reason were overshadowed by male co-leads.) But it made the answer to this question pretty simple. Queen Cimorene from Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles keeps her title.

Now let’s talk about the plethora of beloved male leads I have to choose from…. But the more I think about it, the more I think my favorite—and by that I mean most beloved—character is Cammon from Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series! He’s a lead from the fourth book, Reader and Raelynx, surely.

Queen Cimorene and King Cammon will do well together and rule most wisely and justly. He may even be a better match for her than her canon husband—Mendenbar.

Royal First Born: the most loyal character

I'm pretty sure Tolkien never did a character sketch, so we'll let New Line decide what Sam looks like.

I’m pretty sure Tolkien never did a character sketch, so we’ll let New Line decide what Sam looks like.

It takes a special kind of loyalty to follow another character and a cause (by one estimate) 2000 miles, straight to the enemy stronghold, all the while being assailed by outside forces, while that character is slowly going mad, growing weak, and being overcome by an Evil Force. So welcome to the royal family, Samwise Gamgee the Brave from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

I would not mind having Sam as heir apparent.

Second Born: the most laid-back character

That's him there in the pointy, starred hat. That drawing's done by his authoress, so I'd reckon it's the nearest to canon we'll get.

That’s him there in the pointy, starred hat. That drawing’s done by his authoress, so I’d reckon it’s the nearest to canon we’ll get.

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has a name worthy of royalty. The man has seen a lot, and maybe that’s partially why he seems so laid back when we meet him around the sprightly age of 150. He has his fingers in everything, pulling strings like a puppet master, but he greets every new situation with a great deal of composure—maybe because he’s seen so much that he’s already foreseen this very situation arising. Mid-battle scene the words used to describe him are still “calmly,” “as though he had not a fear in the world, as though nothing had happened to interrupt his stroll up the hall,” and “speaking as lightly as though they were discussing the matter over drinks,” (OotP, 813-814). How a 150-year-old man is the second born son of younger parents is a math problem I will not be answering.

Bonus: If I include TV characters and those TV characters do not need to be recurring, it comes down to a battle between Lily and Moku both from the same episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender: “The Cave of Two Lovers.” I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of mind-altering drugs. But they aren’t fazed by giant skybison, ancient curses, Fire Nation soldiers, or traveling with the Avatar.

Third Born: the most headstrong character

This seems to be the original cover art for Dragonflight, the book in which Lessa is introduced.

This was the original cover art for Dragonflight, the book in which Lessa is introduced.

Headstrong still has a positive or at least loving vibe to it. I can think of a few characters of George R. R. Martin’s who have graduated beyond “headstrong” to maybe “incorrigible.” Ramsay Snow/Bolton, for example, is not sane enough to merit headstrong. But Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series? She’s maybe headstrong, [SPOILER] undermining and disregarding others’ authority first to engineer the downfall of her family’s usurper, then endangering herself and her dragon and by extension the continuation of the dragon species for the survival of dragonriding culture. [END SPOILER] I’d much rather saddle the royal family and the kingdom and the planet with Lessa than Ramsey.

Royal Adviser: most trustworthy character

Ironically enough, Jaron, called for many years Sage, of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy comes to mind here. He won’t tell me what he’s up to and what he’s doing will seem beyond foolish, but I trust that he has the kingdom’s best interests at heart, and what’s more I trust that his ideas will have the outcome that he wants and that the kingdom wants. He’s one who could fall under several tags. That third born is calling his name too…. *Note: I’ve not finished the Ascendance Trilogy yet. Jaron could yet let me down.

Duke and Duchess: your favorite couple.

This is perhaps the only tag of which I’m immediately certain. It’s Cammon and Amalie from Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series! And I’m only certain because I’ve been asked before whom I would consider my OTP. And now the court gossip really has some juicy tidbits. The king has a consort! (It’s potentially possible that a great deal of their merit as my OTP depends on keeping Cammon happy….)

Lady-in-Waiting and Gentleman of the Bedchamber: two characters that take care of those around them.

“Gentleman of the Bedchamber” is an actual, historical title, as it turns out, and yes, the position was roughly equivalent to a lady-in-waiting at least during certain points in history.


I actually like this cover, and my one quibble is that her hair could be lighter, but I can also pretend her white blond hair is reflecting the flames.

Senneth Brassenthwaite from The Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn is remarkably good at being drawn off-mission by the plight of others, and she will literally burn down the town, make herself an object of suspicion and scorn, inconvenience her friends, and cause herself pain to protect another.

Kit Rodriguez from Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series also a few times gets all twisted around, nearly destroyed, nearly driven insane trying to help others: his interventions with Darryl and the Martians Aurilelde and Khretef particularly stand out in my mind….

Secret traitor: least trustworthy character

I’m having a difficult time with this one because a lot of the untrustworthy characters that come to mind, I can figure out, and once I’ve figured out their driving motivations, they become predictable, and then I can at least foresee their betrayal, maybe avoid it. In the wise words of a savvy pirate: “a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly.” Caudicus from Patrick Rothfusssecond book in The Kingkiller Chronicles is dishonest, but I don’t know why. [SPOILER] I still can’t see what he has to gain from killing the Maer. Keeping him weak, sure. That increases Alveron’s reliance on Caudicus and keeps Caudicus paid, but if Caudicus loses his benefactor, and his benefactor dies heirless, what does Caudicus gain? Unless he was in the employ of someone who does stand to gain from the Maer’s death! But I’ll never know. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of the Maer. Unless the king that Kvothe kills is the King of Vint, who would gain by having the Maer dead. [END SPOILER] Nope. Too much supposition there. A possibility to file away for later.

Court Wizard: a whimsical or fun or magical character

I think I’m going to call in the big names here and invite Tom Bombadil from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to court to sing nonsensical songs and work amazing magics with seemingly little effort. He is certainly capricious enough to be whimsical, and I get the feeling that he is more playful than loose-screwed. Of course he is welcome to bring Goldberry.

Royal Fool: the funniest character.

This seems to be the cover from the first printing in 1927.

This seems to be the cover from the first printing in 1927.

At first I could think of almost no character to give this title too, but then I realized there are books that I own that I would qualify as straight humor, and it must be such a book’s hero that claims this title. In those books, it’s mostly the narration that makes the stories funny, really, and of those stories that sprang first to mind only Mr Mulliner narrates his own stories. So Mr Mulliner from P. G. Wodehouse’s books will be my royal fool—bless him. He won’t realize that he’s the fool and perhaps to his face I will call him my storyteller—but the court will know.

Court Gossip: the character most likely to have and spread secrets

I had some fun looking through the foreign covers for one that better showed Kvothe. This is a Finnish cover for The Wise Man's Fear.

I had some fun looking through the foreign covers for one that better showed Kvothe. This is a Finnish cover for Book 2: The Wise Man’s Fear.

There was that time that Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles was gifted with all of the courts’ dirty secrets… and then sold them to an unscrupulous publisher…. He’s an excellent secret-keeper when he wants to be, but he’s also an excellent storyteller and equally excellent at bending those stories to favor whom he wishes.

Attractive Servant: just because every kingdom needs one

Seems only fair to have one of each gender.

There are several female characters who are the embodiment of attractive, who are defined primarily as attractive. Why is the only male embodiment of beauty that I can remember a cupbearer to Zeus, not given more than a line of recorded dialogue telling characters in a taxicab to buckle up? Other male characters are described as attractive, sure, but it’s not their defining characteristic.

I mean, really! This is the first cover printed for Book 1: City of Bones.

But Aphrodite from Rick Riordan’s books (and elsewhere besides) and Felurian from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles are both beauty and sex itself. I suppose they would have to be on the list of most physically attractive characters, but both are really a bit vapid. Kirra Danalustrous from The Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn and Denna of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles also are both described as having similar effects on the men around them as do Aphrodite and Felurian—but neither is vapid.  I wouldn’t mind having either at court.  Neither would be likely to stay very long in my employ, both being wanderers, but they both might wander back to the castle every so often.

I’d also like to invite Jace from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series to be in attendance. He won’t like being a servant either, but I would like looking at him, and I’d let him snark the royal court since that is a great deal of his charm.