The Christmas Stocking Tag

Kate at Reading Through Infinity created the Christmas Stocking tag, and Morgan (The Bookish Beagle) tagged me. I’ve not done many book tags, and, honestly, I’m not the biggest Christmas person since I hit the edge where I’m less excited about presents because really all I want are books and clothes which are hard for other people to shop for. BUT book tags are also a fun way to recommend books you might not have yelled about lately, and Morgan’s awesome, so I decided to bite the candy cane and fill this out.

Book Tag Rules

  • Link to the person who tagged you
  • Link to Kate so she can read your answers
  • Answer all 10 questions, choosing books for each theme
  • Tag five people to do this

I’m a rule-breaker, so I’m skipping step five, but, if you think this looks fun, consider yourself tagged. The more the merrier imo.

You get up on Christmas morning and your stocking is full! You take it down and start to unwrap the treats inside. The first thing you see is…

An orange! Which book is refreshing and vibrant, both inside and out?

LOL, I feel a little bit like I’m in Little House on the Prairie getting an orange in my stocking. I’m thinking something with a beautiful cover, splashy content, and a great message. My pick is Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, one of my favorite reads of 2018. There’s even orange on the cover, so I’m thinking meant to be. This book has one of my favorite narrative voices, and it’s like Bridget Jones only with a Muslim heroine who’s an aspiring author. I love it so much.

The next thing you see is a bag of chocolate coins. Which book have you recently bought that was expensive, but totally worth the high price?

I’m an adult; can I get some Ghirardelli? The kind with the caramel inside? Okay, so, for shame, but I don’t actually buy many books anymore. All those years of reviewing and rampant book purchasing mean I don’t have much shelf space right now, so I’m mostly on a shopping hiatus, but I did just buy the first three Kate Daniels books so I can reread them, because my library for some reason only has ebooks of 4-10. Not expensive, maybe, but considering I’m on a book buying hiatus, notable. If that’s not rich enough for your blood, I guarantee I’ll buy these in print at some point on top of the digital copies, so $$$$. Worth it for one of my absolute favorite series.

You also pull out a bath bomb. Tell us about a book that had explosive action scenes.

This is really tough because I already have a couple of the most action-packed things I read earmarked for other categories. (See the previous and next series, because they’re amazing. I could also recommend Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy, but that seems like overkill.) In the end, I’m going with the series that came to my mind first after the two already on my list: The Illuminae Files. Every book is action-packed and life-or-death. Even the act of reading them feels explosive because of the amazing graphics. They’re great sci-fi and really approachable and fun even for readers who usually don’t read the genre.

Next is a pack of playing cards. Which series won you over?

Now I have to recommend one of my favorite series of all time, mostly because it doesn’t start getting really super amazing until book three and hit peak awesome until book six. That sounds so daunting, I know, but I promise it is 100% worth your time, and I already want to reread all of them, which is the best endorsement I can offer. Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books are the best in urban fantasy. Her plotting, world building, and character arcs are all phenomenal and intricate. The series feels is a masterclass is planning, because everything feels so intentional, and the way she brings things back from the early books ten books later is vastly impressive. Also, this series has one of my OTPs (this is not the Highlander; there can be more than one), and I love the whole cast so fucking much. Diverse af too, and almost the entire cast is bi/pansexual, sooooo get on it.

You also get a candle. Which character is a symbol of hope in their story?

Initially, I thought about putting The Hunger Games in here because of the delicious irony of Katniss being a figure of hope while having none, but I chose Meg from The Others series by Anne Bishop. She’s the sweetest of cinnamon rolls, and her kindness and lack of assumptions make her a symbol of hope in this alternate world. In a world where shifters and vampires and other paranormal creatures are real and dangerous, her kindness may provide hope for humanity, who tbh mostly doesn’t deserve it much of the time. Meg brings light and empathy into the life of anyone open to it.

There are socks inside too. Is there a book that you think really encompasses all the distinctive tropes of its genre?

This is such a good question for me, and there are so many options out there, but the first one to pop into my head was a recent favorite read. The Veronica Speedwell series has been amazing with tropes from the very beginning, but the next installment, A Dangerous Collaboration, which comes out in March, is one of the most deliciously tropetastic books I’ve ever read. Veronica Speedwell is a historical mystery romance series, and the tropes on offer are for both romance and mystery, and it’s a thing of beauty. I spent most of the book squeeing and gasping and laughing and having emotions.

There’s also a notebook. Which author’s writing process do you find most interesting/inspiring?

This is a bit tough for me because, on the whole, I find writing processes very personal from author to author, and I haven’t taken my own work-in-progress process from anyone. However, I’m very inspired by Susan Dennard’s writing advice. She’s very open about craft and about how difficult writing can be. I find it inspiring to know how much she has struggled with her books, because I know how phenomenal the end products have ended up being. I love both her series: Something Strange and Deadly and Witchlands. To me, Dennard’s novels are a reminder that hard work will get you there. Still not sure if I have that much hard work in me, but I hope so.

To go with the notebook, there’s a fancy pen. Is there a book or a series that you’d change if you’d written it yourself?

Here’s a question designed to get me in trouble. One of the books I’ve most wished I could change is Ruin & Rising, which is probably a massively unpopular opinion, and I wish I didn’t feel this way. I love that series so much, but then I was so frustrated by most of how Ruin & Rising played out. Though, honestly, I’d rather just have been her editor, rather than writing the book myself. Leigh Bardugo’s prose is off the charts amazing, and there’s no way I could ever dream of coming close to that. All I can say is that in my version View Spoiler ».

There’s also a small bedside clock. Which book took you a long time to pick up but was worth it in the end?

Because of how much I read, this is actually a little bit difficult. There aren’t a ton of things that I’ve not gotten too quickly. Actually, that’s a lie, but I still haven’t read all of those things. The most recent thing I can think of is Christina Lauren. In a month-long, insatiable binge, I read all of Christina Lauren’s adult backlist earlier this year. When they came out, I wasn’t interested, and then they were recommended to me but I didn’t read them until this year, at which point I could not stop reading them. My favorites are all of the Beautiful Bastard books, the second and fourth of Wild Seasons, and Love and Other Words. These tend not to be other people’s favorites, but they’re mine, and I’ll fight you lol.

Your pile is getting really big. You reach in to pull out the last gift and it’s… a lump of coal? You’re a little disappointed. But you look closer and realise there’s a seam running through the coal. You crack it open and sitting inside is a tiny golden snitch. Tell us about a book that surprised you in some way.

The biggest suprise-in-a-good-way for me this year was Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough. It absolutely sounds like the opposite of a Christina book because it’s: dark, written in verse, and has no romance. I KNOW. So not me at all. But I’d heard good things, so I listened to the audiobook, which is the only way I can really read verse novels, and I loved it. Blood Water Paint is the feminist rage book you need in 2018 and no doubt on through 2019. This book made me cry with how on point it is and how little some things have changed from Rome in 1610 when Artemisia Gentileschi worked. This is a beautiful, wrathful little book, and more people need to read it.

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