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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Also, Tybalt, because I imagine him as Benedict Cumberbatch.
“New Year’s Day” (debut author)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.