Surprise! It’s another book tag — and this time, it’s a NeriSiren original! I was inspired by Meeghan’s Spicy Pumpkin Latte tag (what better combo than books and coffee??), and decided to modify it with some Yuletide flavor. I think we all need as much Christmas cheer as we can stretch out this year, so I’m basing my book tag on the Mocha Lounge’s winter drink menu (plus a few drinks from other Fort Wayne coffee houses).
Playlist: I decided not to wait until the day after Thanksgiving this year; I’m binging all my Christmas playlists (yes, that’s plural) now. For a slice of my favorite seasonal siren songs, see my Youtube list.
Anyho-ho-ho! Here is…
NeriSiren‘s Peppermint Mocha Book Tag!
- Link back to this post.
- Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post.
- Do the prompts.
- Tag/shout-out to a few people, if you like.
- Have a holly jolly good time!
- Bonus #1: Remove one of the prompts and replace it with your own favorite winter drink prompt!
- Bonus #2: Use your own favorite winter selfie as a header (non-optional P.S. plz don’t use mine).
Peppermint Mocha: the quintessential Christmas/winter book
What’s more Christmas than A Christmas Carol? It’s the classic True Meaning of Christmas story, and a cautionary tale about not living your life in such a way that people roast you in Charades. My favorite stage performance so far was at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and of course the reason is a very small, specific moment.
I got the bumpiest of goosebumps when the Ghost of Christmas Present sank into the floor with a thunderclap, his ironic last words (Scrooge’s own words) echoing and bouncing off and escalating each other: “ARE THERE NO PRISONS? ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES???“
Also, The Muppets’ Christmas Carol is the best movie adaptation, fuzzy hands down.
Gingerbread White Mocha: a book that’s sweet and spicy
I briefly mentioned Laura von Holt’s erotic mermaid novella, Splash Me, in my Pumpkin Spicy Romance post. It’s only about 30 pages and it’s hot as August, but also totally aww-inspiring. The narrator’s boyfriend goes All Out to fulfill her ultimate role-playing fantasy, complete with a bathtub and a swimmable mermaid tail. There’s also a quarantine-themed epilogue in the deluxe edition, involving some Sexy-Princess-Leia-related stress relief.
Eggnog Latte: you either love it or you hate it
I’m going to crowdsource this one.
I hear Midnight Sun is a #swoon-worthy gaze into Edward’s ultra-romantic head and OMG THE AAAAANGST!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ I also hear it’s about 600 pages too long and Edward spends the whole time watching Bella sleep. If you’re one of those who’s not inclined to read all 600 pages of glorified stalking, I highly recommend Heather’s recap over at Froodian Slip.
Anyone want to start a comment battle? Team Edward vs. Team Jacob vs. Team You’re Seven-freaking-teen, Bella, Get To Know Yourself Better Before Tying the Bloody Knot? I’ll get the peppermint bark popcorn and start: I think Bella’s One True Love should be a bloodsucking siren who only drinks the blood of non-humanoid fish, but who acknowledges that that makes her a pescatarian and not a vegetarian, and also still kind of a cannibal…SHE’S COMPLICATED!!!
P.S. Anyone else think the pomegranate on the cover looks vaguely like a peace sign? Symbolism?
Christmas Chai: a seasonal twist OR cultural fusion
I considered this for the winter classic, but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is also a cool twist on both Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and the Biblical Easter story.
It’s the story of a world trapped in eternal winter, with no Christmas until the Creator returns and makes a deep sacrifice to save a boy held captive by a non-singing Snow Queen. Yeah, it hits you pretty hard with the messages, but it’s still pretty legit as far as I remember.
Funny enough, I think I saw the first Walden Media movie the same year as the Playhouse Christmas Carol. Lucy is suuuuper adorbs when she turns to Peter after meeting Father Christmas and says, “Told you he was real!”
Cinnamon Dolce Latte: your favorite seasonal book-inspired recipe
I’m still planning to make a Krupni-(coffee)-cake this year, but it’s going to be a much smaller one, since we’re running low on the honey liqueur and there’s no safe way to buy more until the pandemic’s over. Yes, I know I could make it myself, but from what I hear, the process is a biiiit too hazardous to try on my own. Boiling pure grain alcohol is NOT for amateurs.
Toffee Nut Latte: a book or character who’s sweet, but a little nutty
The titular Stargirl may come across as obnoxiously peppy, but she means SO well and M.A.H.S is SO boring and honestly, who wouldn’t want a ukulele serenade on their birthday? And her parents are just SO supportive (see, especially, the half of the sequel that I did read). It’d be heartwarming as fluff if it weren’t for the ridiculous backlash she gets for spreading too much joy.
P.S. Someone needs to create a real ukulele trio and perform KidLit parodies in libraries someday. It’ll be a Harry-and-the-Potters level sensation!
Salted Caramel Mocha: a jazzed-up/twisted classic that should’ve been left alone (or, to borrow from Meeghan, a book that still makes you salty)
Ugh, I don’t get why salted caramel is such a big thing. Is nothing sacred anymore? I just want a regular unconditionally sweet latte that makes me imagine I’m drinking a
tub large spoonful of arequipe*. I may be a #reallifemermaid, but I definitely don’t share the Luidaeg’s habit of pouring salt in her coffee.
Anyhoo! My answer is both a twisted classic and a book that made me cranky. Early in the pandemic, I was looking for really upbeat, irreverent books to escape into, and I saw The Babysitters Coven at my local library. I was deep into the Babysitters Club Club podcast rabbit hole, and I enjoyed the bit of Chilling Sabrina that I sampled on Netflix well enough, so I took the bait!
This could’ve had such a fun playlist, too. “Freakshow,” by Ani DiFranco; “Judy and the Dream of Horses,” by Belle & Sebastian; the Jareth window entrance from Labyrinth…but then the story got Depressing AF (as in, Ableist and Frustrating). Like, it’s set in the present day, but everyone still acts as though mental illness is some horrifying and contagious burden on everyone surrounding the patient, who just doesn’t realize how badly she’s ruining the protagonist’s life. *insert rage face*
And as far as I could tell (I DNF’ed this after the first few chapters), the mental illness angle was just a cheap plot device (Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles did a WAY better job imagining the real-life consequences of a character trying to share their otherworldly experiences with uninitiated friends) and a way to make the protagonist’s life seem super miserable so her magic power-up would be extra satisfying.
And also, can we PLEASE get past the Us Against the High School trope? You know, where everyone sucks except for the protagonist and their best friend/s (who don’t actually have that much chemistry beyond sharing a few random quirks)? The whole Not Like Other Girls thing is super outdated.
* Arequipe is a Colombian caramel fudge dip. It comes in various-sized tubs or jars, or you can make it at home with equal parts whole milk and sugar.
Christmas Cookie Latte: a book that’s trying to do too many things (OR: that one element that bugs you about an otherwise good story)
This one’s inspired by Old Crown Coffee Roasters’ 2017 menu, which (according to this article) included a latte with cinnamon, hazelnut, and maple syrups. One of these things is not as sweet or pumpkin-spicy as the others…
I have two examples from the same trilogy. The Lost Voices books by Sarah Porter (reviewed here) are a very unique, though very grim (well, grimmer) twist on rusalka tales (mermaids who were once human girls who drowned themselves to avoid unwanted or abusive marriages). In Porter’s version, the mermaids are former human girls who transformed to escape parental abuse or neglect, and who are compelled to punish all humans by sinking any passenger ships that enter their territory.
Unnecessary element #1: The second book tries to be too on-the-nose with the “lost voices” theme, which is already embodied by the mermaids themselves. They became deadly sirens because they were so violently suppressed on land. We don’t need actual disembodied voices that are never explained or mentioned again anyway.
Problematic element #2: This one’s a VAGUE SPOILER for the last book. There’s a mermaid who manages to turn back to human, and snags a human love interest to boot. The problem? The love interest is in his 30s, and although she’s technically been alive for over 50 years, she’s still in her teenage form (she was 16 when she became a mermaid and stopped aging), which makes the relationship technically legal, but still pretty cringey.
Tangerine Ginger Tea: a book that’s soothing after a rough day/week/month/year
Another Old Crown drink, which is apparently good for sore throats. I’ll be honest, Allie Brosh’s Solutions and Other Problems was an extremely affirming bookend to a year that took Murphy’s Law too freaking literally.
Allie’s been through some incredibly awful things, and yet the way she reframes them with her matter-of-fact humor and her doodles that look (and I genuinely mean this in the best possible way) like a toddler’s handiwork made me feel…not like I know exactly what she was going through, but like some of my own recent and past experiences aren’t as painfully unique as I thought they were.
Like neither of us is as painfully weird as we think we are.
I also recommend checking out Allie’s Facebook account, because she posts albums full of travel photos with delightful captions (like that time she braved her way through the creepiest roadside “museum” ever), as well as behind-the-scenes sketches and doodles.
Snowflake Hot Chocolate: a delightfully frosty character
April, from The Egypt Game, tries so hard to be cool and aloof at the start of the book. Her mother sent her away so she could party in Hollywood with her boyfriend and now April doesn’t trust other kids to actually like her. So she puts on fake eyelashes and wears her hair in a super-grownup Hollywood style and tells everyone about her movie-star mother.
But Melanie sees right through all that and entices April back into childhood by showing that she, too, likes to make up stories and act them out. We need more Melanies. We need more people who encourage kids to be silly and play make-believe and go Trick-or-Treating as long as they’re comfortable. We need more people who understand that a person can be mature and sophisticated and carry around a stuffed octopus.
Classic Hot Chocolate: a book that’s cozier than your favorite fuzzy pink unicorn socks
I’ve been following The Happy Broadcast on Instagram all year; they post fun cartoons with headlines about all the (fact-checked) good things happening in the world and all the ways people are solving the world’s problems. It’s basically an antidote to Doom-Scroll Syndrome (i.e. the 2020 Twitter feed).
Now they’ve released a coffee-table book with some of their best posts, and it’s exactly the kind of #holidayhygge we need right now. It’s all the fun of escapism, with that extra shot of “Wait, this is actually happening in real life! Maybe the real world isn’t a complete dumpster fire.”
I definitely felt a spike in my Christmas cheer when reading about the uncle who created a pair of smart gloves for his niece, so he can hear her sign language out loud and learn to communicate better with her. Or the mental health ambulance that’s helping reduce suicides in Sweden. Or the NASA study that shows the world is actually greener than it was 20 years ago, because of extreme tree-planting projects in India and China.
Sleigh Ride Frappe: a book that’s totally out-of-season but you don’t give a flying reindeer
Yes, yes, it’s Lumberjanes time again. This prompt is inspired by the Well Grounded Cafe & Coffee House’s 2017 menu (see the article linked under Christmas Cookie Latte). Ice cream in winter? Hot chocolate in a heat wave? What’s your favorite book to read no matter what time of year?
Mine’s pretty much all of Lumberjanes. It’s set in a time-warp bubble anyway, so why not pretend I’m at the most empowering summer camp ever all year round? No, I don’t know what you’re talking about with your upcoming-finale talk, that’s totally fake news, fake news, I say!
Merry Bookmas to all Bookwyrms, and to all Bookwyrms a good night!
Special Shout-Outs to:
Sarah Maree @ Caffeine is my Muse
Larkynn @ Library Larkynn
Chammy @ Raccoon Reader Review
Kristy @ Caffeinated Fae
Leah @ Leah’s Books
Kristen Brand @ KristenBrand.com
Katie @ Words for Worms
Jeanne @ Necromancy Never Pays
Heather @ Froodian Slip
Angélique @ Sappho’s Torque
Ari @ Bookish Valhalla
Kriti @ Armed With a Book