Bookstaswifties Folklore Tag

Bippity Boppity, Bookwyrms! It’s time for another book tag! I discovered this one via Kriti at Armed With a Book. It’s based on Taylor Swift’s latest album, Folklore. It was originally an Instagram photo-a-day tag for August, but I’ve decided to turn it into a blog post instead.

The Folklore Tag list.  The background is a greyscale image of a pine forest mountain, with each higher row of trees more faded than the one below it.  Below the list are four usernames: @fablesandwren, @readuntilthelastpage, @old.enough.for.fairytales, and @iam.caryn.

Now, I did sample the songs themselves via iTunes and, although I like Swift well enough and the concept is completely up my medieval alley, the album as a whole was not my cup of Mad Tea. It felt a bit too quiet and melancholy; I’d much rather dance my shoes to pieces with songs like “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off.”

But the riddles in this tag sounded way too fun not to answer, and some of them offer a good opportunity for a pre-year-end review. So! Why don’t you come with me, little wyrm, on a magic carpet ride?

“August” (the original prompt was August TBR, but I’m turning it into an August Look-Back)

These were four of the books I reviewed last month: Nyasha Williams’ What’s the Commotion in the Ocean?; Becky Stuart’s Once in California; Lilah Sturges’ Lumberjanes graphic novel, The Infernal Compass; and Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. We have a lesson on ocean conservation, a literal beach read with non-psychotic twin rivalry; adorably queer summer camp shenanigans; and a delightfully queer Harry Potter parody. A Siriusly good month, I’d say!

“The 1” (first book in a series)

Hardcover version of Dealing With Dragons. A scaly green dragon, with a longer, even more horselike head and three curved horns, lounges by a round table covered with a teapot, two tea cups, a book, and a chalice of chocolate mousse. A girl with two messy braids and a very small crown pats the dragon's snout and looks with a smug or annoyed expression to the left. She's wearing a red work dress with a blue and white checkered apron.

I still maintain that Dealing With Dragons (reviewed here) is the best of Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest quartet. Cimorene gets to be way more active, considering it’s her story, and I still want to see her waltz into that cafe where Peach and Zelda compare intentional-kidnapping-victim notes, Kazul’s head peeking over her shoulder, and just say: “Am I late?”

“Cardigan” (fictional outfit you wish you owned)

Cropped image of the buttery yellow cover of SVH book 62, "Who's Who?" The red, letter-jacket-style series title curves around a circle in the center of the cover. Inside the circle, Elizabeth and Jessica stand against a pinkish-brown background. Elizabeth, on the left, is wearing a grey dinner jacket on top of a black top or dress that cuts straight across the chest. She's wearing a black beret over curly, pale blond hair. Her left arm is folded across her middle, supporting her right elbow. Her right hand is shading her right eye, like she's exasperated or embarrassed, and she's looking over her shoulder at Jessica, with an amusedly embarrassed smile. Jessica, meanwhile, is grinning confidently to the lower-left corner of the book, her arms crossed to show a series of multicolored bangles. She's wearing a simple, three-quarter-sleeved black dress punctuated by a wild statement necklace made up of multicolored fish. She has a pale blue streak in her curly, pale-blond hair. The tag-line under the circle reads: "Will the real Jessica please stand up?" and the book title is in large purple letters at the bottom of the cover.

ALL OF THE MAGENTA GALAXY OUTFITS IN SWEET VALLEY HIGH #62: WHO’S WHO? (reviewed here) !!!!! I want to dance around town with Japanese thrash metal blaring from my phone, wearing a black dress with subway token earrings* and a necklace made of plastic fish and Scrabble tiles!

Or maybe I’ll borrow the Luidaeg’s medieval samite (it’s a semi-shiny type of silk) dress in The Unkindest Tide, with its “hints of blue and green and pearl.”

P.S. Oh my rock gods, I can’t believe I forgot to mention there’s a vintage record shop in Sweet Valley, called “Tune Town.” Was the ghostwriter making an indirect Jessica Rabbit joke, or is that way too much wishful thinking?

* Ok, so Dana Larson was wearing those herself, but Jess would’ve totally borrowed them if Dana had let her.

“Invisible Strings” (my OTP – One True Pair)

The silhouette of a woman with long hair stares out at the ocean, her back to the audience.  The sky is a deep blue, getting lighter at the horizon, as at early sunrise or late sunset.

I’ve said this (many times) before and I’ll say it again: Liz Ryan and the Luidaeg need to make up and make out and create a new generation of finfolk together. Some kind of Selkie/Roane hybrid…like Stressedjenny’s seal-mermaids, or like Faro from the Ingo books!

“Fearless” (fierce females)

October Daye, of course; the Luidaeg; Melissa and Kelly from George; Effie and Tavia from A Song Below Water; Ayla; Katniss Everdeen; Primrose Everdeen; Rue; Johanna Mason; Ebb Petty; Penelope Bunce; Mitali Bunce; Agatha Wellbelove; Hermione Granger; Ginny Weasley; Molly Weasley; Sif and Riko and Joanne Magnus… add your own favorites in the comments!

“The Last Great American Dynasty” (summer or beach read)

A photo of a dark blue towel with bright red trim at the top, as well as a few bright red and paler blue stripes near the middle. You can also just see the top of the white outline of an anchor in the middle. At the top left edge of the towel is a light turquoise and violet ombre flip-flop with a scale pattern and the word MERMAID printed sideways, from the toe to the heel. On the grass next to the shoe is a pile of books, with a shadow falling over them and the flip-flop. From top to bottom, you see: a book with the face of a red-headed goddess, turned to the left; covering the bottom half of the face is a volume of the Lumberjanes comics; next are two issues of Girls' Life magazine; then a copy of Positivity Camp and Sweet Valley Kids #49 (Jessica's Mermaid); and, finally, a teen paperback romance with a young Jennifer Connolly on the cover, held by a teen guy with a mop of dark brown curls. The title reads: Once in California.

My personal 2020 Summer Reading List has consisted of the following backyard beach reads: supernatural summer camps, paranormal carnivals, questionable Californian utopias, and cozy 80s romances. I was also pretty impressed with the Girls’ Life Summer 2020 issues, which leaned right into the Current Normal with articles about mental health care during a global crisis, creative ways to celebrate the season while social distancing, informal photoshoots created by the models themselves from the safety of their own homes, and shout-outs to girls taking charge in both pandemic relief and the Black Lives Matter movement. They even reprinted an article from twenty years ago, about a girl who decided to stop letting society dictate her summer grooming habits (i.e. she stopped stressing about keeping her arms and legs baby-smooth).

“…ready for it?” (finally going to read soon)

As I said two posts ago, I’m initiating a new (and completely original) challenge for 2021: I’m going to start tackling my personal case of Tsundoku (the Japanese term for acquiring books and letting them sit unread on your shelf). Above are several of the books I’m planning to read in the near future. If I still can’t take any Real Life trips, I can at least voyage vicariously through a Lithuanian fairy-tale village, a mythic Lithuanian valley, surreal saurian libraries, and a magical city where the source of all stories is an endangered sea that needs cleaning.

“Mad Woman” (female villain)

One of my favorite female villains is the witch Natacha, from J. A. White’s Nightbooks (reviewed here). She’s devious and scary, but also encourages the protagonist to accept his own weirdness. Plus, she knows how to adjust the ancient witchly ways for a 21st-century market, selling magical essential oils instead of traditional potions. She deserved a much better ending than she got.

“Illicit Affairs” (originally interpreted as rainy day reads, but I’m going to take this more literally)

Close-up of the 2007 cover of Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden.  You see two girls, one slightly in the foreground on the left side of the cover, and one slightly behind, both turned toward each other.  The girl in the foreground is facing right, and you just see her face and a bit of her dark brown hair.  She's wearing a large tweed scarf in two shades of beige, and she has one hand intertwined with the other girl's.  One of them has a pale gold ring.  The other girl is facing slightly forward and left, and you also just see her face and a bit of dark hair.  She's wearing a magenta knit scarf.  Both girls have their eyes closed, with very slight smiles.

Annie and Liza’s relationship in Annie On My Mind (reviewed here) is one of my favorite “forbidden romances.” The angst is so relatable, and yet the ending is very optimistic (it’s known as one of the first queer teen romances with a happy ending).

“Folklore” (based on a myth)

The cover of Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis.  The title is in cursive script across a large red stripe that takes up most of the cover in the middle.  It has top and bottom edges like torn paper.  The author's name is below that, on a teal stripe.  At the top, against a black background, is the side-view of a woman holding out a lantern with her right hand.  Her face and most of her hair are in shadow, except for a few pale yellow squiggles going down the side of her face and shoulder, representing her golden hair.  Her outstretched arm is half-covered by a large, pale yellow sleeve, and the lantern glows with the same color.

I keep hearing about C. S. Lewis’ adult novel, Till We Have Faces, and how lovely it is. It’s a retelling of Cupid and Psyche (the original basis for Beauty and the Beast, as I discussed here) with a more sympathetic focus on one of the “wicked” sisters. In the meantime, check out this rave review on Through the Cat’s Eye Blog ( a fairy-tale blog!).

“Long Live” (forever re-reading)

Cover of Castle Waiting, Volume One.  The cover is a pale beige with a dark olive stripe down the left side.  An inset image in the middle of the cover shows the side of a castle, with ivy growing around a trio of windows and a number of characters peeking out at the reader.  There's a horse, a nun, and three women with fancy medieval hats -- one is a tall red cone, another is wide and white like a hammerhead shark's head, another is like a chef's hat or a soufflé.

Yeah, yeah, y’all know the answer is Castle Waiting Vol. 1. The Solicitine arc is my favorite part of the entire series, so far. Who doesn’t love #swoon-worthy circus romances and nuns having fun? Plus, now I have a new Christmas baking tradition — I’m planning to upgrade last year’s attempt to a Krupni-coffee-cake this year!

“Everything Has Changed” (mid-series cover changes)

Close-up of the Scholastic cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  Everything is in shades of blue.  You see Harry looking over his left shoulder, toward the audience, a very serious expression on his face, wand lefted vertically in his left fist.

As I said in my Very Potter Retrospective, there’s a marked change of tone in the original Scholastic covers starting with Order of the Phoenix. The first four books were bright and joyful, with big smiles and whimsical excitement. Starting with Book 5, it all goes frown-hill (eh? eh? 😀 ) to match the more solemn and deadly tone of the stories. Ish gets real after Harry’s first encounter with the re-incarnated Voldemort, and the stakes get more serious.

“Exile” (book finale)

Hardcover version of The Last Hunt, Book 4 of Bruce Coville's The Unicorn Chronicles.  You see a girl with flowing orange hair sitting astride a flying dragon with a beige body and pale pink wings with dark red undersides, as well as a pale pink fan above the dragon's head.  They are flying over a green, mountainous landscape with a river flowing through the middle.  A unicorn rears up on one mountain peak in the bottom right corner of the cover.

As I said back in 2013, the final book of Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles quartet is literally epic. Everything crashes together, the world almost ends, and there are badass fighting unicorns.

“Peace” (book you still think about)

Cover of Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston.  The entire cover is a deep rusty red, with the title split into three blocks, the first word a horizontal black rectangle and the other two in tall vertical rectangles.  The subtitle says Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, and there's a faded image of what looks like a painting of a woman with her hair flying to the left and her right arm stretched upward.  This image is repeated at the top and bottom of the cover.

There was a book in one of my classroom libraries, back in high school, called The Warrior Woman, by Maxine Hong Kingston. From what I remember, it was a magical realist memoir in which the author not only remembered parts of her real childhood, but also imagined herself as an ancient soldier, similar to Hua Mulan and the other heroes her mother told her about. I was fascinated by the unique genre-bending story, and I related so much to one of the author’s memories, in which she feels compelled to randomly confess every one of her childhood sins to her mother.

“Epiphany” (book that surprised you)

Cover of Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.  Under the surface of a dark cerulean-blue sea, a giant shadowy sperm whale crashes the front of its head into a small sailboat.  The waves above are choppy and the sky is full of dark grey storm clouds.

I remember being very pleasantly surprised by how funny the beginning of Moby Dick was. Ishmael’s a cheeky guy! Too bad his decision to detour us into a mind-numbingly in-depth documentary on 19th-century whaling ultimately turned this into a DNF. Call me maybe not, Ishmael!

“The Lakes” (anticipated release)

Of course I’m going to read the newest Wayward Children novella, Across the Green Grass Fields. My inner 13-year-old is chomping at the bit at the thought of a world of horses and centaurs and unicorns and pegasi(?) and other hooved beings.

I’m also kind of curious about Gareth E. Rees’ upcoming collection, Unofficial Britain, which promises more stories of surreal, mythic, hidden places across contemporary Britain. It’s set to be published next week, but in the meantime, you can check out Rees’ Unofficial Britain website, which includes many stories and essays that I’m guessing are included in the book?

OOOH! Also!! Allie Brosch is releasing a new MS Paint-style memoir in just over a week! It’s called Solutions and Other Problems, which is such an Allie Brosch title! 😀

“Blank Space” (book you want signed)

Cover of Sarah's Unicorn, by Bruce Coville.  A small girl with long blond braids leans against a large tree trunk shaded by yellow-green leaves, in a clearing in the middle of a forest with a bit of night sky peeking through the treetops in the upper right corner of the cover.  A tall white unicorn approaches the girl as she stretches out her left hand toward his nose.  The girl wears a plain brown dress, more like rags or a sack.

Time for a little bookish bragging. I actually did get a book signed recently. I’d been looking for a copy of Sarah’s Unicorn for years, and finally discovered that Bruce Coville was selling them directly from his website. As soon as I ordered, Mr. Coville contacted me directly to ask how I’d like the book signed! This is one of my favorite author interactions ever!

As for a book I wish I could get signed, I’d love it if Seanan McGuire signed any of my treebook copies of the October Daye novels — I’d probably go with The Unkindest Tide because Selkies.

“Hoax” (too good to be true)

I wouldn’t call it a hoax, but Esther Dalseno’s creepy twist on The Little Mermaid (reviewed here) was not as awesome as I expected. There were so many proofreading and logic errors, plus way too many derogatory comments about “sea gypsies.”

But I would DEFINITELY say the “eighth Harry Potter book” (reviewed here) ended up being a case of WAY “too good to be true.” As in, everyone thought this was going to be awesomazingtastic and it turned out instead to be a 2-star fanfic (or 2 illegal Time Turners).

“Paper Rings” (book crush)

Screenshot of Ziva, played by Cote de Pablo, singing "Temptation."  She's turned to the side, facing left, her head turned to look over her left shoulder.  Her long, wavy black hair is swept over her right shoulder and she's wearing a skin-tight sleeveless dress in dark blue.  You see one long white earring dangling from her left ear.

The Luidaeg, because I imagine her as Ziva, from NCIS, when she’s in her formal form. Actually, her everyday form is pretty neat, too — kind of like Abby (also NCIS) or Britta in that one episode of Community where she’s dressed like a goth magician’s assistant.

Screenshot of Britta wearing a black wig pulled into two low pigtails.  Her eyes are lined by thick black mascara and she has black lipstick, as well as three black dots under each eye.  She's wearing a black short-sleeved dress and is smiling a bit creepily.

Also, Tybalt, because I imagine him as Benedict Cumberbatch.

“New Year’s Day” (debut author)

The cover of Positivity Camp, by Sarah Maree. You see the wooden entrance to a campground. It's a rectangular arch with the words "Positivity Camp" at the top. Tacked to the right side of the arch are two pieces of manila-colored paper. The top one reads: "Not and any shortening thereof." The bottom one reads: "Forbidden words: No, Bad, Nasty, Awful, Terrible, Worse, Never." Through the archway, you see a dirt road leading into a green forest..

Shout-out again to my friend Sarah Maree, who published her first book this year! Check out her website for more info. If you’re still playing the Armed With a Bingo game, this might be a fun dystopia or indie read.

“Betty” (LGBTQ+)

See my LGBTQIA category for all my favorite queer-friendly and queer-focused books, including several Selkie romances, a queer Western, the story of a gender-fluid teen struggling with their father’s conservative political career, and an adorable picture book about bunnies in love.

“Mirrorball” (golden books)

Cover of The Poky Little Puppy.  A large white puppy with dark brown patches stands on a dark green hill under a bright blue sky, looking curiously at a bright green lizard while a caterpillar crawls nearby.

Ah, I remember the Little Golden Books… I remember reading them in the waiting room of the car parts store while waiting for my mom to finish shopping or discussing some vehicular issue. The Poky Little Puppy stories were some of my favorites. I seem to remember one where the puppy eats a bowl of chocolate pudding and somehow doesn’t need to be rushed to the vet?

“Red” (Autumn reads)

Cover of Ziggy, Stardust & Me, by James Brandon.  Two young men stare at each other.  On the left is an indigenous American man shaded in blue-grey tones, and on the right is a young man with pale peach skin, bright red hair, and a bright red top.  He also has a small red lightning bolt on his cheekbone, between his left eye and his hairline.  Both men look very serious.

I mentioned some upcoming reads in my Autumnal Prophecies post. Other than a few more Halloween Month reads, I’m thinking I might get lost once more in the bibliophilic city of Bookholm, in Walter Moers’ The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books. Or, if I’m in a moodier mood, I might rock out to James Brandon’s queer 70s romance: Ziggy, Stardust & Me. I just hope the heavy parts aren’t TOO grim…from the cover summary, I know the protagonist has to go through anti-gay “treatments” before realizing his true worth, and his father is dealing with alcoholism, so despite the Bowie theme, I’m approaching this with extreme caution.

“You are in Love” (book world you’d want in a snowglobe)

I’d love a snowglobe of Luster, the unicorn world from Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles. What’s more enchanting than a world created from the fusion of a seed and a star?

Bookholm might also be fun to capture, if I was looking for a more macabrily* whimsical snowglobe. Something more Halloween-toned than Christmassy.

* Just pretend it’s a word.

“Safe & Sound” (book to movie)

Cover of A Little Princess, the movie.  A girl with large, light brown corkscrew curls peeks through a slightly-open doorway.  You just see her lit-up face and the green edge of the door.  She has a cautiously curious expression on her face, with her lips slightly apart and her eyebrows slightly raised.

I did a list of my favorite/least favorite movie adaptations for my 100th post back in 2013, and I can’t believe I forgot about A Little Princess! It’s one of my absolute favorite adaptations that I actually love more than the book! Not only is the ending better, but the “Kindle My Heart” song (and the accompanying scene, where Sarah is dancing in the snow in front of the attic window) is a total tearjerker in the best way.

“Getaway Car” (sunken ship)

Cover of One Salt Sea, by Seanan McGuire.  An auburn-haired woman lies on her back on the sand, hair fanned out aboe her head, which is turned toward her left shoulder.  She wears a black tank top and black leather jacket over an orange mermaid tail.  That's Toby for you.

Ok, so the most recent book I read with a literal sunken ship is one of my upcoming Feel Good Frights, so instead, I’m going to focus on the metaphorical concept — a sunken (relation)ship. I could go with Liz and the Luidaeg again, but I was also pretty heartbroken by the end of Toby and Connor’s relationship. Maybe because I read Book 5 first, so I wasn’t influenced by the build-up of Toby and Tybalt’s romance, but dang it, Connor’s a pretty studly Selkie and he deserved much better than the usual Selkie Lover ending that seems to plague the Tobyverse.

“All Too Well” (heartbreak)

A tabby cat walks down a very sepia toned street, past 17th century houses.  Superimposed over this scene, over the top half of the cover, is the sea, with waves crashing.

Speaking of Selkie Lover endings, don’t read McGuire’s Tybalt story, “Forbid the Sea,” unless you’re in the mood to shed at least a few tears. This is the one past romance Tybalt never talks about.

“Two is Better Than One” (dream author collab)

If Bruce Coville and Seanan McGuire collaborated on a new Unicorn Chronicles novella that gives more attention to the undersea world surrounding Luster, I’d look for the nearest Gateway and jump through!

“Seven” (number in the title)

Spanish version of One Hundred Years of Solitude: Cien Años de Soledad, the commemorative edition.  The background is dark green.  In the foreground is a square spiral made of bright, yellow-green leaves  In the large space in the middle of the spiral is the title.

Another of my Tsundoku Challenge goals is to finally read One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s the quintessential work of magical realism from Colombia, and of course I have the Spanish version as well (a gift from my godmother ❤ ), but I at least want to tackle the English translation in the near future.

“My Tears Ricochet” (made you weep)

This one’s kinda cheating, because it’s a TV adaptation, but the Reichenbach episode of BBC Sherlock made me ugly cry days after it aired. John’s tearful speech at the cemetery was BRUTAL.

“This is Me Trying” (wrap-up)

Outdoor black chalkboard that reads:  Maybe 2020 will be like a mullet and the back half is the party.  The words 2020 and party are in purple, while mullet is in turquoise.  The rest of the words are white.

We’re sliding into the home stretch! As this sign I walked past last month says, I’m really hoping 2020 ends on a glittery glam rock note that gives us hope for the return of Dance Magic Dance parties and a general Good Will Towards Humankind!

How about you, Bookwyrms? What hopeful signs do you see on the horizon? Leave some good news in the comments! And if you need inspiration, I highly recommend following The Happy Broadcast on Instagram.


Stilled Britta GIF from Gifer.

Bruce Coville and Seanan McGuire photos from Coville’s website and the Wayward Children Wiki, respectively.

Sherlock GIF from Gfycat.


  1. I had no idea there’s a movie of A Little Princess. Did you know there’s a sequel, written by Hilary McKay? It’s called Wishing For Tomorrow.

    • I didn’t know that! I could’ve sworn I saw a different sequel once, called Sarah, possibly by Burnett, but that might’ve been something else? A quick Google search shows me there’s also an anime, plus another sequel by Holly Webb, called The Princess and the Suffragette. It’s about Lottie and Sarah joining the Suffragettes in 1913.

  2. Thanks for the shoutout again! Love the different books, some familiar and some new. I still haven’t finished The Last Battle. I need to order it from the library again. Maybe I’ll do that once I’m more caught up on bookmaking 😛

    • Oooh, yeah! Just be prepared for periodic reminders throughout the story about what a big deal the pending unicornpocalypse is (or is it unicormageddon?) Like, it’s a REALLY big deal. You don’t underSTAND, Sarah. It’s srsly srs bsns! WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING, SARAH!!! 😂🦄🎇

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