NeriSiren’s Peppermint Mocha Book Tag

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…

Photo of me in my aurora borealis mermaid tail and Santa hat, with a purple sweater and black scarf with blue and purple accents.

I'm looking down at a small iridescent green notebook in one hand, holding a dolphin-shaped pen in the other.

I'm sitting on a shimmering sheet of icy blue material.  Behind me is a white bookcase.  

To my right is a stack of black, white, and red books shaped like a snowman with a top hat and scarf.  Behind that is a copy of the Limonade Brault poster, which shows a chain of six mermaids, holding hands, swimming counter-clockwise out of a wine glass.

To my left is a stack of books standing upright and leaning into each other like a teepee.  It's a Christmas tree, topped with a crown made of plastic blue and pink shells and three silver stars.  

The tree is also encircled by a necklace of large multicolored Christmas lights.

NeriSiren‘s Peppermint Mocha Book Tag!

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Rules:

  • 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).

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Peppermint Mocha: the quintessential Christmas/winter book

The Puffin Classics cover of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  You see a lone silhouette at the bottom, wearing a long coat, a top hat, a flowing scarf, and holding a cane as he walks through a silhouetted Victorian city.

The buildings are arranged in a diamond pattern, bordering the book cover.  On the bottom are the black silhouettes of buildings arranged like staircases going down, meeting at the bottom of the cover.

At the top are green silhouettes of upside-down buildings with lit yellow windows, angled so the bottoms of the buildings meet at the top of the cover.

In the middle of the diamond is a blue night sky covered in snowflakes, as well as the title in large flourished red and white letters.

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

Cover of Splash Me, by Laura Lovely.  The cover is aqua blue, with an ornate, upright oval mirror in the center.  The frame is gold, with stylized flourishes all around.

Inside the mirror you see a simple white bathtub, filled, with a woman sitting inside.  Her dark hair is piled onto her head in a bun and she's wearing a dark orange mermaid tail.  She has her back to the viewer.

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.

Cover of Midnight Sun, by Stephenie Meyer.  The cover is all black except for the white title at the top and author's name at the bottom, and a giant cross-section of a pomegranate in the center.

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!!!

Heart eyes emoji

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

Cover of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis.  Against a white background, you see a large archway made of dark bronze trees, a tall faery creature on one side and a short gnome on the other.

In the middle of the arch is an open doorway.  Inside, you see a very pale, larger-than-life woman with long white hair and a white fur dress with spikes on the shoulders.

She wears a crown made of stalks that stick out vertically, with small spheres at the end of each, and there's what looks like a giant green balloon coming out of her head.

She's sitting on a chair carved with goblin or gryphon faces, and she's holding a long, thin staff.

Next to her, closer to the foreground, is a wolf that glares at the viewer with tiny yellow eyes.  On her other side is a small gnome or elf with a red hat.  This being looks angry.

Behind them is a purple sky full of snow, and below them is a tiny line of snow-covered trees.

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

A photo of a slice of bundt cake on a red-and-green-striped paper plate.  The cake is yellow in the center, with white frosting and stripes of ground cloves.  There's a miniature mushroom on top, made from a mini marshmallow and an espresso bean.  

Near the plate is a pot of poinsettas and a wooden cut-out of a tall fir tree.

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

Cover of Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli.  The background is a solid bright blue.  In the center, instead of the title, there is a yellow five-pointed star over a green stick figure of a girl.

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!

Cover of The Babysitters Coven, by Kate Williams.  A girl with long black hair has her back turned to the viewer.  She's wearing a grey denim jacket with three patches:  a magic 8 ball and pink lollipop on her shoulder blades, and a pink teddy bear head with X-eyes at the bottom.  

In the center of her back is a large darker grey section with the book title and author's name, with a pink five-pointed star in between.

The girl is looking at a lavender sky with pink and dark purple clouds, and a large salmon-pink moon that looks like a saint's halo in front of her head.

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)

Cover of Lost Voices, by Sarah Porter.  A mermaid dives down through a bright blue-green sea with sun rays illuminating the water.  She has long, curly hair a silvery-green tail, and a sleeveless top that looks like it's made of seaweed.

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.

A screenshot of the Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick staring at the viewer.  The critic looks weirded out and the Chick looks bored.

In front of them is a big yellow sign, shaped like a long horizontal oval, with the words "Big Lipped Alligator Moment" in blue, green, and red.  

There are two open-mouthed alligator faces on either side of the words "Big Lipped."  Both have ear-like tufts of feathers on their heads and a bone stuck through their noses.

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

Cover of Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh.  The background is a solid pale aqua.  Running across the bottom half is a doodle of Allie herself, with a red balloon tied to her right arm, which is stretched behind her.

Allie is wearing a pale yellow onesie, her head is shaped like a salamander, and her blond ponytail sticks out behind her like a missile.  Her eyes are large and round and her pupils are huge.

There's a little yellow circle in the bottom-left corner of the cover, with two black dot eyes and a dot for a mouth, and two stick arms held straight out.  There's a curved arrow pointing from this little face to the words "author of Hyperbole and a Half."

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

Cover of The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.  Two girls stare at each other with wondrous expressions, their faces in profile on opposite sides of the cover. 

Between them, you see a statue of an Egyptian queen or pharaoh, their face lit up from below.  The girls' faces are also lit up.  Above them all is darkness.

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

Cover of The Happy Broadcast book, by The Happy Broadcast.  Subtitle: How to Stay Positive, Take Action, and Make the World a Better Place.

The background is rainbow, starting with red at the top left corner and shifting to blue in the bottom right.  There's a doodle of a person in the bottom right corner, holding a big yellow balloon with a smiley face in the upper right corner.

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

Cover of Lumberjanes, volume one, Beware the Kitten Holy.  Created by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooklyn Allen.

The background is the red front of a cabin with a deer head on one side of the door and an antlered fox head on the other side.  

On the steps are five girls.  One has short, wavy brown hair with a blue streak, one has long red hair tied with a white ribbon, one has short wavy dark hair with no streak, one has a long blond braid and a raccoon-shaped hat, and one has short black hair that's buzzed on one side.

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!

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A photo of a Santa hat standing upright against the bottom-right corner of the bookcase.  In front of the hat is a plastic white coffee cup made to look like a Starbucks paper cup (complete with a lid).  But instead of the Starbucks logo, you see a circular image pasted on, of a scene from the story Egle, Queen of Serpents.  

The image is of a woman with long pale hair and a green three-pointed crown.  She's looking down at a snake that has a blue three-pointed crown..  Behind them are green waves. 

To the right of the hat and cup is the bottom-left corner of the Limonade Brault poster.  You see dark blue and neon green watercolor streaks and the first few letters of the words "Limonade" and "Brault," the former in red and the latter in white.

Tag!

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

Thoughts From the Burrow

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

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Credits:

  • Heart eyes emoji from Pinterest.
  • Big Lipped Alligator screenshot from YouTube (note: salty language).

6 comments

  1. Thanks for the tag! I wish I knew how to participate, but I don’t drink fun drinks that much or read as much as I know I should. I’m also not so great with Christmas themes. It just feels like another holiday to me. Maybe that’s because I had Christmas year-round as a kid? (My dad was really bad about taking decorations down. We had the lights up all year all the time, and sometimes even the tree stayed up all year, which was small enough to fit on a coffee table). Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing others’ eyes light up for the season. I just don’t get into it very well.

    That being said, I do like challenges, and this would be one of the most challenging blogs to attempt…

    • That’s totally legit! Decorations lose some of their sparkle when you see them all year. Most of the fun of Christmas for me is pulling out all the decorations and opening my playlists.

      If you do the challenge, don’t worry about the drinks themselves – it’s really about the questions. The drink names are just for fun. 😊

  2. ❤ Fantastic post! I'll have to think long and hard to do this book tag challenge 🙂

    As always, I've added a few of your books to my Goodreads to Read List! I'm really looking forward to the Happy Podcast book–we need more positive news! And I'm long overdue to read Lumberjanes. I've also seen Solutions and Other Problems cross the desk often–so I'm excited to see that it got a lot of high praise from you.

    I'm torn about the latest Twilight book… xD They were kind of my guilty pleasure books in high school… but I really don't know if I have time to dedicated to 600 pages of stalking (that mostly involves Bella sleeping) xD.

    • Mwahahaha, I’m always happy to stack people’s TBR piles higher! And yes, I’ve heard from a few online friends who also read Twilight as a guilty pleasure but thought Midnight Sun was…a bit much XD If you do try to tackle it, let me know how it goes!

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