Stay at Home Book Tag

Leah over at Leah’s Books indirectly tagged me on Wednesday, when she posted her answers to the Stay at Home Book Tag.  Like the Netflix tag, this one’s also a fun way to reflect on how books have gotten us through this dystopian year.  It’s all about literary self-care and mutual motivation.  Also, three of the prompts are a perfect opportunity to review the last few books I read for Armed With a Bingo (except for Carry On, which is getting its own post).

And so!  Here are my answers to…

The Stay at Home Book Tag

Spongebob indoors

Laying in bed:  a book you read in a day

  • Bingo square:  Book I meant to read last year.

As I said in my previous post, I’d been meaning to explore the Lumberjanes universe more deeply for several years now, but never got beyond the main canon until recently.  The other day, while visiting one of my local comics shops, I saw this book on one of the turnstiles:

Cover of the Lumberjanes original graphic novel, The Infernal Compass. The series title is in dark brown in the middle of the cover, with the subtitle inside a long, thin hexagon. It's like a pencil with two points. Above the title, we see the lower torso and legs of two girls taking long strides through a forest. They both wear cargo-type pants, and the girl in front wears a dark red top with an olive-green vest jacket. Below the title is a pond showing a reflection of the girls. The one with the red shirt has pale skin and short dark hair that's buzzed on one side and flops almost to chin-length on the other. She's looking back lovingly at the other girl, whose long blond hair is tied back in a single braid. She's wearing one of those old-timey raccoon-tail hats...but don't worry, the raccoon is actually still alive, even though he's not showing it at the moment. The girls are holding hands, arms lifted up so their hands are at shoulder-level. It's all totally aww-dorable.

It’s an aww-dorable Mal/Molly story in which our favorite supernatural-summer-camp couple starts wondering if they’re paying a little too much attention to each other and not enough to their other friends.  Which their cabin counselor Jen thinks is a perfect opportunity for some deep-woods cooperative trailblazing!  A whole day out in the wild with just a map and an oddly finicky compass?  What could POSSIBLY go weird?

To put it in more SPOILERy terms (skip to the next paragraph if you’d rather), it’s basically the “Remember Me” episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation.

To put it more vaguely, it’s a heartwarming one-shot, though the art style did take some getting used to.  Polterink’s Lumberjanes are less cartooney than Brooke Allen’s, and the color scheme is just black-and-white, with green accents (symbolism?).  Plus, Jen and all the Roanoakes except April are uncharacteristically gullible when they first meet the unnervingly “helpful” automatons.

And also, hellooo!  The perfect couple name for Mal and Molly is obviously MALLY!!! 

Still, though.  Heartwarming.

4Snacking:  a “guilty pleasure” read

Cropped image of the buttery yellow cover of SVH book 62,

Pretty much all of the Sweet Valley books, but especially the Twins and High series, with their insane melodramas and cringe-tastic 80s messages.  There’s no escaping this delightful dystopia.  Apparently, I actually tried that in 2013, but then the Double Love podcast came along and one thing led to another, and now there’s a new segment here @ Postcards and we might as well just sing the last verse of “Hotel California” together.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be at the digital Beach Disco, voting for Queen of the Third Weekend of August or whatever.

Netflix:  a series you want to start

The purple cover of The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks. The title is in yellow font at the top of the cover, while the author's name is in white at the bottom. In the middle, under a sky of various purple shades, you see a castle with many tall, sharp spires sitting on top of a cliff overlooking the sea. A white figure stands at the base of the cliff, in the bottom-right corner of the cover, just above the author's name.

The category name is eerily perfect, because my interest in Terry Brooks’ Shannara Chronicles ignited when my family binged the Netflix show for a few weeks last month.  If you don’t want to be SPOILED, I suggest skipping to the next section.

Basically, I have this half-delightful/half-dreadful feeling that Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series is a prequel to the Shannara Chronicles.  Brooks’ series apparently takes place in the distant-future ruins of San Francisco after some nuclear cataclysm or whatever.  On the bright side, the humans in this world live alongside elves and other Faerie beings, all of whom (at least according to the show) have evolved to be totally queer-friendly (or at least totally nonchalant about the two bisexual characters in the realm).  I’m also curious to see whether the books are as ethnically diverse as the show, or whether that was a 21st-century update.

Deep Clean:  a book that’s been on my TBR for ages

Cover of Ocean: the World's Last Wilderness Revealed, an American Museum of Natural History book written by Robert Dinwiddle and introduced by Fabien Cousteau. The background is a cerulean blue ocean with a few jellyfish silhouettes. In the foreground, you see a large, glowing yellow jellyfish. The title is written in large, translucent white letters just above the jellyfish, and the subtitle is in tiny red letters across the middle of the title.

I bought this back in the early 2000s (it was published in 2008) and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, promising a deep dive (ha!) into ocean science to flesh out my finfolk stories.  Now that I’m seventeen chapters into my latest WIP, I’ve decided to actually start consulting this oceanic oracle for inspiration and background.  And yes, I’m absolutely reading the text in David Attenborough’s voice.

Did you know that some of Earth’s seawater came from comets that crashed into the newborn planet four billion years ago?  Did you know that long ago, when there were higher sea levels, there were epicontinental (inland) seas with no tides?  Did you know that changes in solar radiation cause daytime breezes to flow toward the land and nighttime breezes to flow back out to sea?

As the Bill Nye narrator would say:  Now you know!

Animal Crossing:  a book I recently bought because of the cover

Cover of Pan's Labyrinth, a novelization by Cornelia Funke. The background is teal or turquoise. In the foreground, you see two haunted old trees on either edge of the cover. Their highest branches meet to form an arch at the top of the cover, and in the middle is a spooky face, kind of like a chimpanzee. There are small silhouettes in each of the corners of the cover. Top left: side-view of a girl with a long dress, holding up one arm. Top right: front-view of the faun. Bottom left: a large, square-ish man. Bottom right: a spindly figure with both arms raised, hands splayed out just above its head. In the bottom middle is the top third of a round labyrinth, on which stands Ofelia, the protagonist. We see her from behind. She has short dark hair and is wearing a long-sleeved, knee-length dress with white stockings and black shoes. Behind the labyrinth, facing Ofelia, is half of a full moon. There are a few white faeries fluttering in the space between the trees, above Ofelia and around the black title, which takes up most of the middle space in slashy, chalk-like letters. The names Guillermo del Toro (the film director) and Cornelia Funke hang in the branches above the title, in thinner letters. The subtitle,

I absolutely bought Cornelia Funke’s novelization of Pan’s Labyrinth last Fall because of the shiny turquoise cover (the image above doesn’t do it justice).  So far, the story itself is a loving and lovely homage to fairy tales and their most devoted fans.  I’ve been putting off finishing the rest of the book, though, because I know it’s going to get preeeeetty depressing before it reaches its bittersweet end.  This is the stuff of the most macabre fairy tales, rooted in real-life horrors.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know things will turn out soooort of ok(ish?) in the end (ok, so it’s debatable), but it’s still not a bubble bath or hammock read.

Productivity:  a book that taught me something/had an impact on me

Cover of What's the Commotion in the Ocean? a picture book by Nyasha Williams, illustrated by Sofya Glushko. A dark-skinned mermaid looks down at a turtle at the bottom of the sea. You see the mermaid's head and one shoulder peeking out from the right edge of the cover. She has dark purple hair tied in a half-bun while the rest streams behind her in braids. She's wearing a white seashell necklace. The turtle has a lighter purple shell and orange head and legs. There are two purple jellyfish in the upper-left background, just under the title. There are a few short stalks of green kelp and some rocks at the bottom of the sea, plus a small orange starfish on the rock just below the mermaid's face.

  • Bingo square:  a nonfiction book

I kept seeing this book in my Instagram feed in the past few months, and finally ordered myself a copy.  Nyasha Williams’ and Sofya Glushko’s What’s the Commotion in the Ocean? is a quick lesson on caring better for the seas by reducing plastic waste, eating only safe/sustainable seafood, planting trees, doing periodic beach clean-ups, and more.  The story is narrated in rhyme by a mermaid who shows us some of the damage she sees in her home, from fertilizers that flow “into the seas and oceans, ending up polluting our waters like a thick, dark potion” to the oil that “sits on the surface of our home, causing the harm of animals and helping create awful dead zones.”

There were a few minor proofreading errors, but overall, it’s a gorgeous book, and it even comes with an extra-large postcard showing the mermaid gazing out at a streaming school of fish (at least, if you order the book from her website).

You can learn more about the book, and Williams’ other work, here.  I’m certainly tempted by her Vitamin Sea coloring book…if only I had the patience!  I’m not exactly the zentangle type, but if I was, I’d definitely download the pages.

Facetime:  a book I was gifted

The cover of Lietuviu Mitologija (or "Lithuanian Mythology"), from the documents of Norbertas Velius. The cover has a dark red horizontal stripe at the top, followed by a larger white stripe, while the rest of the cover is a medium sandy brown. In the foreground, covering the bottom half of the book, is a figure. It has a circular head with many sharp spikes coming out of it, a straight, trunk-like body that ends in four wide spikes, with more spikes and branch-like things coming out of the sides, and two spiky arms curving upward from just below the head. The whole figure is a dark olive color.

Another book I’ve been hoarding was a Christmas gift my cousin and grandmother bought for me in Lithuania a few years ago.  It’s a collection of essays by folklorist Norbertas Vėlius on Lithuanian mythology, and it, too, is going to come in handy during my deeper research sessions.  The subjects range from Lithuanian gods and faeries to figures from Indian mythology (I know! I’m curious about the connection, too!).

Self-care:  what’s one thing I’ve done recently to take care of myself?

Cover of Stranger Planet, by Nathan W. Pyle. This time, you see a bright blue sky with a few clouds. At the bottom of the cover are a few salmon-pink hills overlooking an ocean. One blue being is running after a second being, who is riding a bicycle. Next to the cyclist are the tiny words: "Commence the danger." In the middle of the cover is a salmon-pink circle with a blue being's head gazing into the upper left corner of the book. On either side of this being are a red, three-eyed dog and a white cat.

  • Bingo square:  an indie read.  Nathan Pyle began Strange and Stranger Planet as an ongoing series of webcomics — srsly, follow him on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter.  It’ll significantly improve your awake-time.  There are talking pigeons, too.

Besides a navasana-load* of yoga (I HIGHLY recommend the Yoga Shakti DVD, which allows you to create your own custom class with the “Yoga Matrix”) and about six CDs’ worth of meditative music from iTunes, I’ve also been buying lots of light-hearted books to keep my outlook positive for the past five months.  One of these was Nathan Pyle’s second collection of amusing alien being anecdotes:  Stranger Planet.

Observe as these blue (da ba dee…) beings engage with nature, care for their offspring and household creatures, ingest mild poisons during Joyful Hour, test the sincerity of musical celebrities who claim to have completed their performances, and even (SPOILER alert!) read about eerily similar beings from a parallel planet who use “cool” expressions for everyday “stuff”!

Some of the comics are new, some will be familiar if you followed him before June, and some are extended versions of familiar episodes.

Anyone want to brainstorm the infinite variations of “Stranger” that Pyle could use for his future books?  We certainly can’t have “Strangest Planet” until he’s absolutely run out of ideas!

* Navasana means boat


Bonus:  an upcoming release I’m looking forward to

Cover of A Killing Frost, by Seanan McGuire. Toby Daye stands in what looks like the foggy ruins of a cathedral. She is leaning against the stone frames of a doorway, left arm bent like a V and right arm straight, facing the viewer. Her long dark hair is loose and she's wearing her trademark black leather jacket on top of a black V-neck top.

Well, of COURSE I pre-ordered myself the next October Daye e-book!  Apparently, Toby and Tybalt are FINALLY tying the magical knot…if they can solve yet another potentially kingdom-shattering dilemma first.



*  *  *  *  *

Once again, I tag all the Bookwyrms who feel like playing!  What have you been reading this past year, to keep your outlook bright?  What hopeful reads are you looking forward to?


“Spongebob Indoors” GIF from tenor.


  1. Posts like these are always a ton of fun! Very cool choices all around 🙂 Curious, though… You asked us to participate, but what are the ‘rules’? Do we need to answer all of the same prompts and add our own at the end? Is it totally freeform? Just curious!

    • Hi there! Thank you! It’s basically answering the same prompts, but I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to add your own, too. And if you feel like going freeform and creating your own game, go for it! 😃

  2. It’s been so long since I’ve read The Sword of Shannara. I wish I had answers for you! I will say that Deep Clean book has spiked my interest and has been added to the TBR pile (who knows when or if I’ll get to it, but it’s there!). Love the variety of books. As usual, very motivating and uplifting.

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